Lawrence Dennis on what is wrong with economics

by on October 10, 2015 at 2:11 pm in Books, Economics, History, Philosophy | Permalink

The trouble with most of our social thinking is that, being done in terms of eighteenth century rationalism, it takes dynamism for granted and assumes that the chief social problems are those of knowing what you want and how to get it.  The chief social problem is that of generating and unifying the social will that creates activity, change and what we have been wont to call progress.

That is from his 1940 book The Dynamics of War and Revolution, p.53.  It’s an ever so slightly fascistic version of a common critique of neoclassical economics.  Is it entirely wrong?

1 James Hanley October 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm

I would argue that that particular quote is entirely wrong. It’s clear that progress has often come through individualistic/voluntaryistic means–not necessarily solely through the market, but also (pace Ostrom) mechanisms that are neither market-based nor governmental.

The concept of “unifying the social will” also stands in contrast to Madison’s argument that liberty necessarily gives rise to differences of opinion, and that the only way to get such unity is by destroying liberty.

2 derek October 10, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Anecdotally I have heard stories from somewhat backwards and socially dysfunctional communities where a drive to succeed is called acting white (this from a native family in Canada), of schools where the smart kids are beat up. I never experienced that, but if pervasive can stop progress or improvement. The current collective neurosis about privilege, inequality, are the same manifestation of the old story of the sharp young kid being told by the shop steward to slow down to not make them look bad.

These are social assumptions that have an effect on the future of the participants. The teacher or school that has the attitude that these black kids aren’t very smart will not teach them and probably be proven perversely right.

There are two reactions to seeing someone doing well, and they are social assumptions. One is to try to take it away, to diminish the effort required, or to set them up as a negative role model. The other is to celebrate success, learn from the effort and have these people as positive role models. The two societies will have dramatically different outcomes.

These could be called a unifying social will.

3 jorgensen October 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm

“(this from a native family in Canada)”

There is a strong movement among Canadian First Nations to dedicate teaching resources to teaching native children native languages and historical customs all in the name of preserving “culture” and “identity”. This with a population that has enormous challenges with basic English literacy. It is a cruel trick by Aboriginal leaders to lock in and perpetuate their power.

4 chuck martel October 10, 2015 at 6:09 pm

As members of the tribe, Aboriginal leaders don’t have any power to perpetuate or “lock in”. Other members can listen or not as they see fit. It’s the whites outside that assume that these people actually have power and to a certain extent this assumption legitimizes the ideas of tribal leaders that have no real power. Keokuk signed away the lands of his tribe only in the eyes of the encroaching state, he couldn’t personally enforce it with his own people.

There are Francophones in Canada that don’t possess English literacy, either. Attempting to maintain languages and customs is common across the world. In fact, reviving basically dead languages, as in the case of Israel and the Hebrew tongue, is happening as well. Is that how Netanyahu stays in power?

5 Yoav October 11, 2015 at 3:05 am

You can definitely argue that the language seperation allows all sides in the conflict to tell differnt stories to each population – In Arab, Hebrew and English.

6 chuck martel October 11, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Evidently you’re saying that if there were a common language there would be only one story. Many Israelis, at least, understand all three languages and others beside. In fact, the Arabic eloquence of Hassan Nasrallah means that his speeches are popular among Arab-speaking Israelis who vehemently disagree with their content.

7 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 3:59 am

Yes, there is a strong movement to do this. It is so their culture is not completely destroyed, not a “cruel trick by Aboriginal leaders to lock in power”.

Question: how do you feel about a movement among Jews to also learn their language in school. Do you perceive it as a genuine effort to preserve culture and identity or a “cruel trick by Jewish leaders to lock in power”?

8 Tarrou October 11, 2015 at 9:47 am

If it is in Israel, where they are integrating jewish immigrants from many languages and cultures, teaching them all Hebrew serves to unify. If it is in the US, and Hebrew is being taught as a first language and to the detriment of speaking the local language, then it is being done precisely to isolate from and stigmatize to the larger society, to engender in the child a sense of separateness, and mark them by language or accent as different, to make assimilation that much harder. Much like naming one’s child “DeQuanshanay”.

9 jorgensen October 11, 2015 at 1:37 pm

The “culture” of the aboriginals was destroyed the moment they were exposed to numeracy, literacy and science. What I see of what remains of their “culture” is seriously dysfunctional in the context of the modern world. Even something so basic and apparently benign as group decision making by consensus is dysfunctional.

“movement among Jews to also learn their language”

It is ridiculous for a North American Ashkenazi Jew, whose ancestors may not have spoken Arabic or Hebrew for five hundred years, to think that modern Hebrew or Arabic is “their” language. it is the same sort of “culture is genetic”, “blood calls out to blood” nonsense that the aboriginal community falls prey to. But with the Jews it is at worst harmless because it will not stand in the way of Jewish children developing the skills they need to succeed in the modern world.

10 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 1:58 pm

jorgensen – literacy does not destroy a culture. More likely, it facilitates the prospect of its perpetuation. Also, I think you overstate the power of a chief in suggesting that they did not have consensual decision making.

I agree with your other points, however.

11 jorgensen October 11, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Nathan

The definition of “culture” is a bit ambiguous. To me it includes values, social conventions, lifestyle, epistemology and metaphysics. Things like styles of art and music are secondary. “Culture” includes how a society understands the world and its place in the world. All of those tend to be influenced by physical circumstances and survival needs of the society. A lot of that, and perhaps all of it, would be swept away or have to be abandoned in the face of the new knowledge that literacy brings and the new circumstances of living adjacent to modern society.

I think that aboriginal communities are dedicating scarce resources to trying to preserve something that cannot be saved.

12 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Question: how do you feel about a movement among Jews to also learn their language in school. Do you perceive it as a genuine effort to preserve culture and identity or a “cruel trick by Jewish leaders to lock in power”?

There are 6 million Jews in Israel, Nathan, and ample quanta of business and industry. Hebrew and allied languages can also be studied for scholarly purposes. The typical Indian reservation has a population of about 2,500, some retail trade, public services, and perhaps a casino. Literature in Amerindian languages is typically limited to some folk-lore.

13 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 12:17 am

Art – you speak of folklore dismissively, yet why should this be any less significant to them than the iChing or the continuation of Greek mythology? Granted, I do not think there folk lore is quite as deeply philosophical, given that for various reasons their societies were not as developed into development, specialization and accumulation of such knowledge.

Having lost a lot through the process of colonization, I think it is entirely reasonable for them to preserve what can be remembered and passed on. As with the example of Jews, I see zero reason why one would assume that this act would interfere with other achievements.

14 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 4:59 am

“The current collective neurosis about privilege, inequality”

Has there ever been a time in history where common people did not agitate against extreme privilege. Even before concerns about inequality were formalized under that word, almost all societies of all times have paid special attention to the poor as a central tenet of their moral philosophy. I suggest that there is nothing specifically “current” about this, and if you wish to portray it as “neurosis”, then it seems as though this is something that has evolved in most times and places in history, and is rather more natural than its opposite.

I strongly agree with your statements about social assumptions. On the matter of role models, while I respect that a lot of American black culture is basically engaged in story-telling about current reality in their communities, it troubles me that these role models end up basically glorifying gangsterism and mysogyny in the act of telling stories about their lives and communities. It acts very much to the contrary of any sort of “unified social will” which prioritizes success in family, career and business as a means of achieving recognition.

15 Kris October 10, 2015 at 5:22 pm

It’s clear that progress has often come through individualistic/voluntaryistic means

If you are saying what I think you are saying, I think you are completely off the mark. For example, what individual action resulted in widespread acceptance of gay marriage? I would argue that network effects leading to a critical mass of public opinion evolving to accept change is the driver of change (I hesitate to call it progress.)

16 Minority Bolshevism October 10, 2015 at 10:38 pm

The idea that widespread acceptance of gay marriage is progress is an unproven assumption.
Eugenics had a widespread acceptance along with lots of other popular delusions.
History will be the judge.

17 Kris October 11, 2015 at 4:01 am

Please re-read my comment. It wasn’t that long.

18 James Hanley October 11, 2015 at 9:34 am

Kris,

The comedies “Soap” and “Ellen,” for example.

Thousands of gay people coming out to their families and friends.

Movies like “Philadelphia.”

People protesting and filing lawsuits to challenge discriminatory laws.

The network effects are the effects of the individual actions, and in turn the cause of further individual actions.

All those created vast progress in civil rights for gay people, even as the public remains very clearly disunited on the issue.

19 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 10:27 am

All those created vast progress in civil rights for gay people,

No, they provided the legal tools to harass private parties and a cultural conduit for people addled by sexual deviance to be exhibitionistic. “Civil rights’ for “gay people” means less liberty and more vulgarity for everyone else.

20 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 10:50 am

If gays were treated with the same respect as anyone else, then there would be no reason for them to use legal tools and social sanction against the discriminatory (or worse) treatment than they experience.

The liberty to engage in discrimination is no liberty worth having.

21 TMC October 11, 2015 at 11:36 am

We call that Freedom of Association, and it is valuable.
No one should be forced to associated with those who they really, truly do not like. (up to the point it violates someone else’s rights).

On this matter, I do believe there has been much progress on gay rights, well deserved, but the issues where gay couples sue cake and flower shops to force them to be involved with their ceremony is very wrong, and probably not constitutional. There is no right that is absolute, as it would infringe on other’s rights.

Those who do sue for these reasons are no better than those who did not want them to marry for all these years.

22 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

If gays were treated with the same respect as anyone else, then there would be no reason for them to use legal tools and social sanction against the discriminatory (or worse) treatment than they experience.

1. Equal respect is the abolition of respect.

2. No one is entitled to anyone’s good opinion. People who are not puerile understand that.

3. Other than a few characters like Quentin Crisp and Truman Capote, it was not done prior to 1969 to make a public point of one’s homosexuality, so the issue seldom arose in ordinary interactions. Quentin Crisp’s reaction to ‘gay liberation’ is instructive here: he asked one activist who had accosted him ‘from what do you want to be liberated?’.

The liberty to engage in discrimination is no liberty worth having.

People discriminate in their associations as a matter of course, and no free society could function any other way. It just does not occur to the vapid liberals that not everyone is exquisitely concerned with the sensibilities of liberal mascot groups and that ordinary people neither seek nor want the legal privileges those mascot groups have sought and received.

23 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Those who do sue for these reasons are no better than those who did not want them to marry for all these years.

Refusing to grant legal recognition to homosexual associations or fancy they were any concern for public policy is not an injury to anyone. It merely irritates narcissists who think they are entitled to others’ endorsements. In a free society, commercial enterprises are not the bitch of lawyers, and people who would make them that are vicious and dishonorable.

24 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

TMC – No one is trying to force you to make gay friends. You don’t have to go to gay bars. You don’t have to attend pride festivals, etc.

But if you open a business that serves the public, you are obliged to provide those services without discrimination.

25 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 12:48 pm

But if you open a business that serves the public, you are obliged to provide those services without discrimination. –

Bakers are not a monopolistic common carrier like the water works, so, no, you’re not obliged to serve anyone, and in a free society your business is not put under a lawyer’s trusteeship just because Nathan fancies you should configure your custom in ways pleasing to the Canadian media.

26 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Art – 1) Let me rephrase that. I don’t suggest that you should automatically respect anyone (although perhaps in the absence of any information, I think it is correct to attribute an immediate modicum of respect by virtue of being human). My point is this: If their sexual orientation were perceived as irrelevant to the amount of respect they should be accredited with, then it wouldn’t be an issue.

2) No one is demanding that you respect gay people (but if you hate them for it, to please keep it to yourself … what good could possibly come from expressing it?). What they are fighting for is simply to receive equal treatment in the eyes of the law, for example insurance for a lifetime partner or not being discriminated against in being able to access the services of a public business.

3) I think the basic idea is that these people don’t want to have to lie about themselves, maintain a false facade, etc. Think of another example: now that more of the public is aware that marijuana has legitimate medical applications, people everywhere are coming out of the woodworks saying “I smoke marijuana for condition ABCDEFG and I love not having to hide this any more”. Why should people be expected to hide basic things about themselves, just because someone else holds some arbitrary moral position about something?

You are free to choose your friends, etc. Obviously. No one is demanding that you go make some gay friends. But interactions with government and businesses which are open to the public, that is an altogether different story.

Or what, shall we return to the days where “no Irish allowed” was both common and acceptable?

27 chuck martel October 11, 2015 at 1:29 pm

One example of private “discrimination” that seems to be perfectly acceptable, so far.

Thoroughbred racetracks and other gambling venues bar certain individuals from entering their premises because they are privately owned and have the right to determine who can or cannot enter their property. They don’t need to supply a reason for this.

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/12/20/Sports/Seven_jockeys_are_ban.shtml

28 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Art – “so, no, you’re not obliged to serve anyone”

Both the law and the courts disagree with you.

29 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm

chuck – on the race track ban.

The law specifies that you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation or gender. This leaves room to bar people for other reasons. For example, a regular trouble maker at a bar can be refused entry, and it is normal practice for stores to bar entry to previous shoplifters.

30 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Both the law and the courts disagree with you.

I appreciate that you come from a pallid, derivative, and highly conformist culture, but even you should be able to appreciate the distinction between positive law (especially judicial ass-pulls) and principles of justice.

31 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Art – Which principle of justice do you refer to?

32 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 7:39 pm

That no man is the slave of another, and that no man needs ask permission to earn a living.

33 chuck martel October 11, 2015 at 8:22 pm

“2) No one is demanding that you respect gay people (but if you hate them for it, to please keep it to yourself ”

Standard verbiage from the left side of the culture pavilion. Hate, the word invariably used in this context, is indicative of a very strong emotion that’s probably not present in the minds of people that find same-sex marriage unworthy of legal institutionalization. Other, more applicable words, might be disgust, abhorrence, repulsion, aversion and loathing. However, these words don’t possess the same connotations that hate does so the leftist propagandists prefer hatred over disgust.

34 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 12:34 am

Art – “That no man is the slave of another”

No one is suggesting that I can walk into a business and demand that the owner must do anything that the buyer pleases. That it well beyond offensive, although I wouldn’t go so far as to call it slavery.

That is exceedingly different from saying that, having opened the door to provide a specific service, that you must provide that specific service to anyone woh walks in the door.

For example, the cake baker can easily refuse to make Bible cakes or porn can. After all, this is not discrimination. He/She does not offer that service to anyone whatsoever, and so equal treatment / non-discrimination is upheld. Similarly, when the print shop refused to print anti-abortion flyers, this is no discrimination. You can’t walk into a business and demand that they do anything you want, and again they can simply claim that this is not a service for any clientele whatsoever, and that this applies equally to all customers who walk in the door.

But, having provided flower cakes and other cakes as a matter of business, the law requires that flower cakes and other cakes must be sold to anyone who walks in the door. Of course, you can always make up some excuse like “sorry, I’m busy that day”. Other foot dragging options remain like doing a shoddy job for customers that you don’t really want to serve (something many bartenders and restaurant servers are well versed in).

But when someone stands up proudly and insists “I demand the right to discriminate because you are group ABCEDFG” then the law could hardly be more clear. That is not allowed. I respect your disagreement, and can easily acknowledge the legitimacy of your arguments, but taking them as a basis for law to over-ride non-discrimination principles would create seeds of division and hate in society, with everyone refusing service to anyone they didn’t particularly like. That is not the makings of a healthy society.

Chuck – I understand your point. There`s a big difference between saying “I think that’s disgusting” and hating someone (I didn’t mean to imply Art “hates” them, if that’s what you understood of it). I easily and openly state that I think the act of gay sex is repulsive, disgusting, and many other words may be selected. But in nearly the same breath I state that apparently that’s what they like, and see no reason to use that as a basis of judgment for their character in general. Some people like to eat raw seal – some people find this disgusting. However, in passing from “disgust” and “revulsion” to “loathing”, you pass from your subjective opinion on victimless acts to hate (loathing is hate, no?).

35 James Hanley October 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

Hi, Art Deco, how are you? Still pestering the folks at that place I used to blog?

The moment you start talking about sexual deviance, I tune out. Nothing good can come from that foundation.

But I hope you’re well.

36 Global Head of Pussy October 11, 2015 at 10:14 pm

I vote!

37 rayward October 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

“It’s an ever so slightly fascistic version of a common critique of neoclassical economics.” Dennis was a fascist; there was nothing ever so slightly about it. And there’s nothing ever so slightly about Cowen’s attempt to paint all critics of neoclassical economics as ever so slightly fascist. “Is it entirely wrong?” What, painting critics of neoclassical economics as fascists?

38 Nathan W October 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm

The idea that we should “generate and unifying the social will” doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me. I much prefer the ideals of open discourse and free competition of ideas in the marketplace and political system.

I think the world needs leaders. But at many levels. Cities, states, countries, companies, etc. It should be expected that these various leaders will often have overlapping and at times contradictory constituencies and objectives. Only very rarely is it truly important to set out with an a priori objective of unifying the “social will”. Climate change comes to mind (assuming that 99% agreement among climate scientists represents a victory in the free competition of ideas), but it seems that a preference for reactionary obstructionist politics of certain political groups (starts with R) in certain countries (starts with U) very much get in the way of this.

39 Keith October 10, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Many people equate “unifying the social will” and “the science is settled”.

40 T. Shaw October 10, 2015 at 3:41 pm

In the twentieth century “unifying the social will” often equated to crimes societies “chose” to commit together, e.g. fascism, Hitlerism, Leninism, Maoism, Stalinism.

While AGW may be 99% cultish belief on college campuses and among superannuated hippies, billionaires profiting from green subsidies (Al Gore/Solyndra’s money bundler), tree humpers and tree baggers. It is not so happy a concept among the tens of millions of the people whose living costs and taxes (Obamacare) are skyrocketing while incomes are crashing.

41 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 4:21 am

The 99% refers to the percentage of climate scientists who believe that AGW is real.

Obamacare has nothing to do with global warming, and the fact that you mention it in the discussion of AGW suggests more that you have a political axe to grind than out of any interest in the “truth” of the matter.

I’m not sure whether green subsidies were the best solution, but it is normal for governments to lend support to new industries, and people often get rich in the progress, so I’m not sure why this one would bother you any more than others.

Meanwhile, USA has made no move whatsoever to put a price on carbon, yet you seem to attribute green thinking (which you clearly despise) for the fact of “costs and taxes skyrocketing” while incomes are “crashing”. In the real world, however, taxes have not gone up and income is stable.

Why not tax carbon, and help resolve something that is almost certain to be a major problem in the future, and do it in a revenue neutral manner such as corporate or income tax reductions? Even if you, a person who clearly has no understanding of climate science nevertheless decides to completely disregard 99% consensus among the people who actually study in the field, the downside of taxing carbon instead of income is … well, basically negligible at worst and probably quite positive (better incentives for efficiency).

42 Keith October 11, 2015 at 10:39 am

Nathan,
The science is never settled no matter how many people believe it. There have been so many ideas overturned in science that I don’t know where to start. Why are you and your fellow believers so sure of this particular one?

43 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 10:51 am

How close does the forest fire come to your house until you leave?

Do you wait for 100% certainty? Is 50% enough?

Certainty is not required for action.

44 TMC October 11, 2015 at 11:42 am

And yet all evidence shows these models to be wrong. Where is your s̶c̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ religion now?

99% of skeptics thing AWG is real, but not much of a threat. It’s the conflating of AWG and CAWG that is used to change science into a political cause.

45 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 1:05 pm

TMC – The models are not wrong. Rather, they are imperfect.

Do you abandon faith in a vaccine, and science altogether, because it fails 5% of the time? No, you seek to understand why it fails 5% of the time.

Do you conclude that all understanding of cognition is obviously wrong, because it is incompletely understood, and because in some percent of cases there are some contrary indicators? No, you accept that knowledge on the matter is incomplete.

Do you conclude that models of disease transmission are “wrong” because sometimes they fail to predict with 100% accuracy? No, you conclude that there are other factors at play which are not effectively incorporated into the models.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. CH4 is a greenhouse gas. We are increasing the amount of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere. This is a little more complicated than 2+2 (not really very much), but the only reasonable questions on the science of the matter are “how warm, how fast” and “could this trigger some negative feedback that would lead it in the other direction” (most feedbacks, however, as assumed to be positive, like more H20 vapour (a greenhouse gas), less reflection of sun from ice and hence more absorption of heat.

If 99% of published economists tell you that increasing the monetary supply leads to inflation, then do you completely disregard the story for some isolated contrary example, or do you accept that this is most likely a generally true story?

Agreed, excessive alarmism does no service to the cause of rational consideration of costs and benefits. But there can be no rational discussion of costs and benefits when significant political (not scientific) forces continue to like to think that they know more about climate than the experts.

46 Careless October 11, 2015 at 1:14 pm

TMC – The models are not wrong. Rather, they are imperfect.

ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Well, Nathan has just given up on having credibility.

47 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Careless – The present formulation of the theory of gravity fails to explain some millionths of a percent of the actual effect. Should we abandon gravity as a means of understanding the world?

Incomplete does not mean wrong. Mother earth is a complicated system, and moreover it is not a closed system which complicates things even further.

48 Careless October 11, 2015 at 5:33 pm

Should we abandon gravity as a means of understanding the world? –

No, but you’d be insane to think they were right. You’re pretending to be insane and believe things you do not really believe. I do not understand why you’re doing so.

49 Careless October 11, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Anyway, they’re not just incomplete. They’re incomplete and wrong

They make predictions that are not correct. That’s the definition of a model that is wrong. There is no other way for a model to be judged.

50 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 12:58 am

Careless – “They make predictions that are not correct. That’s the definition of a model that is wrong.”

You’re talking about a model with hundreds of variables and trillions of moving parts, with incomplete datasets in an area of science which is mere decades old. There can hardly be anything more complex to model than the entire earth’s climate. Moreover, climate and weather are highly variable and the notion that a single contrary observation is evidence to the contrary of generally understood principles illustrates nothing less than a poor understanding of climate and weather, not fraud on the part of science. Don’t shelve the model, make it better.

When economic models make incorrect predictions, do we go back to astrology as a means of prediction instead of try to improve the models? No, we try to improve them.

When we find that the Bohr model of the atom doesn’t explain all observations, do we conclude that the concept of atoms is bunk? No, we dig deeper, leading us into the realm of subatomic physics. Atoms are real, but there is more to the story.

In pharmaceuticals, often a cure can only be predicted with far less than 100% accuracy. Do you close down all the chemists and pharmaceuticals and return to witch doctors and spiritual healing as a means of treating disease? No, we look for more and better information, in order to understand why it doesn’t work for some people, or at some times.

When you observe a person, but cannot see their feet, do you conclude that there is no person there, or that based on what you can see clearly they are unable to walk because they have no feet? In this case, prior experience tell you with 99.999% certainty that in fact they have feet, and so you easily fill in the gaps.

There is no prior experience with climate science. We can’t see the feet so there is no person? The economic model made a false prediction so we return to astrology? The effectiveness of treatment is predicted with 50% accuracy so we return to witch doctors?

It is correct for skeptics to point out shortcomings in the model. Skeptics and peer review with a critical spirit are central to the evolution of “good science”. But if scientists and inventors through the ages were to have adopted your reasoning from step 1, we would still be in loincloths, half starved, picking berries and roots, chasing down wild animals with stone tools.

51 mavery October 12, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Look, Nathan, the point is that climate models are clearly not developed sufficiently to draw general, actionable conclusions.

At the same time, we should feel free to make decisions on tax policy based on an arc on a napkin with incompletely labeled axes.

52 Nathan W October 13, 2015 at 7:56 am

Mavery – Forest fire models are far less complete than climate, and we draw actionable conclusions. Disease transmission models are perhaps similarly incomplete, and we draw actionable conclusions. Models of public investment are incomplete, yet we draw actionable conclusions. Models of economic effects of patent protection, education and others are incomplete, yet we draw actionable conclusions. Models and understanding of violent radicalization are incomplete, yet we take actionable conclusions.

Leaders must routinely make huge decisions when equipped with incomplete models. Perfection is not required for action.

53 Tarrou October 11, 2015 at 9:48 am

Genocide is just something we all decide to do together!

54 s October 10, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Yes, It would appear a world wide facism is called for.

55 Nathan W October 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Who’s calling for fascism? What leads you to such paranoia?

Perhaps give an example of the most ridiculously extreme example that anyone anywhere has actually gotten within a million miles of a negotiating table.

56 s October 10, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Okay a world wide unifying social will if you prefer. Doesn’t bother me what we call it.

57 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 4:05 am

It’s called resolving a collective action problem.

Please explain on what grounds you perceive it as fascism.

58 s October 11, 2015 at 6:55 am

k fine. We are going to need a world wide resolving a collective action. Jeez …. can’t even agree with a guy on the internet.

59 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 9:03 am

Sorry, not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not …

60 Netil October 11, 2015 at 4:23 pm

“Doesn’t bother me what we call it.”

Parliament ?

61 s October 11, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Do you really think a world wide democracy is a good idea? I don’t want the world run by China and India.

62 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 1:54 am

“Do you really think a world wide democracy is a good idea?”

This involves deep thought about the meaning of the word “democracy”, and there will be many interpretations of it. I suggest that, at the most basic level, democracy is the ability to participate in political contexts which are relevant to you (I take this from Rebecca Kingston, my “Intro to political theory” poli sci prof at U of Toronto).

An all pervasive and ubiquitous one world government is altogether contrary to the principles of democracy. Any “democratic” institutions at the international level must be extremely limited in power, even if the scope of their influence may be extremely broad. Governments and institutions which are democratic must be able to exercise authority at the levels which are relevant to their level of aggregation.

Local level – So we have municipal governments which deal issues which are relevant at the local level. Land zoning, clean water, trash/recycling treatment, community services, transportation, etc. Most city governments have a certain power to tax, and to create regulations about things which are relevant at the city level. In a democratic city, anyone can run for office, petition governments, etc. in order to participate in and/or influence decision making, or represent competing interests and values, about local issues.

State/province level – For practical administrative purposes and sometimes out of distrust of large and highly centralized government, we often have province/state level governments. These often include things like administration of health care, education, energy, transportation infrastructure and others. State/provincial governments also often have a certain power to tax and create regulations which are relevant at the state level, and operate a judicial system to uphold laws at that level of government. In a democratic state/province, anyone can run for office, petition governments, etc. in order to participate in and/or influence decision making, or represent competing interests and values, about state/provincial issues. The influence of the individual becomes small because there are so many people, but the principle of being able to participate in the political context which is relevant to you is still upheld. Moreover, the state/province government has only limited power to dictate/override municipal authorities, and generally only does so for practical reasons in areas which are relevant to state/province jurisdiction.

National – Largely for historical reasons, we have adopted the nation state as a way of administering political systems. The obvious areas of jurisdiction include maintaining a border and some coherent set of rules and/or cultural institutions which provide for unity of the state in the sense of laws and as a geopolitical entity. This typically involves significant provisions of standards which apply at lower levels of government, and typically the national constitution specifies jurisdiction. In a democratic nation state, anyone can run for office, petition governments, etc. in order to participate in and/or influence decision making, or represent competing interests and values, about national issues. The influence of the individual becomes even smaller because there are so many people, but the principle of being able to participate in the political context which is relevant to you is still upheld. Moreover, the nation state government has only limited power to dictate/override state authorities, and generally only does so for practical reasons in areas which are relevant to national jurisdiction, or for the purpose of nation building and maintaining some body of consistency in national values, institutions, etc.

OK, that’s all paraphrase of intro to political science stuff. But what about democracy in a one world government? Participation in the political context which is relevant to you is still primordial. As is the democratic supremacy of municipalities over municipal issues, states/provinces over issues relevant to their level, and nation states for issues which are relevant at that level of government.

So … which issues are relevant at the global level? A “one world government” in its most extreme form should have no jurisdiction whatsoever over municipal issues (land zoning, water, community services, etc.) and no jurisdiction whatsoever over state/province issues (education, health care, transportation links). Moreover, it should have no jurisdiction whatsoever over national issues (maintaining borders/defense, upholding national character, constitutions and cultural institutions, etc.), but should primarily concern itself with issues which are relevant at the international level. In some cases this implies interfering with areas of national jurisdiction because there is a global interest at stake. A classic example is arms control such as land mines and chemical weapons, or nuclear non-proliferation.

Climate change is a global issue. I would never suggest in a million years that a “one world government” should ever have the authority to invade another country to shut down a dirty coal plant. But, as in all democratic processes, 100% consensus is not required for action. Nations must be free to make their own policies, but in the hypothetical scenario where these individual actors (nation states) at the global level manage to reach an agreement on carbon emissions, we can refer to commonly used tools such as punitive tariffs or sanctions against non-compliers. As an individual, should you feel powerless in this situation? So long as the principle of being able to participate in contexts which are relevant to you are upheld, then this is consistent with democratic principles. You can seek out like minded people, start or join a political party, run for government, become president, and try to cajole the world into some new consensus.

Democracy is not about every actor at all times being able to do whatever they want at the relevant levels. Individual freedoms should be upheld as a basic principle, but at every level of government you must retain the freedom to become involved in the political process, and accept that each level of government will make standards and rules, including punitive sanction for non-compliance. Can/should a “one world government” be able to have any effect whatsoever on your actions as an individual? No, not except through the nation state. But it may create standards and regulations AFFECT these decisions.

It is hot a human right to drive a Range Rover or monster truck, and international agreements may make it more expensive to drive a Range Rover. Don’t like it? Run for president and try to convince the world. Democratic principles upheld. it is not a human right to bear nuclear weapons, and international agreements would put you six feet under before you can get them. Don’t like it? Run for president and try to cajole the world into believing in an individual right to nuclear weapons.

Is it a human right to enjoy freedom of conscience, such as religion or ideological beliefs? Absolutely, and no level of government whatsoever should be involved in influencing this decision in any way. Don’t like it? Tough bananas: no one has the right to force someone to believe or think a certain way. However, out of respect for national sovereignty, if some nation DOES force people to believe/think a certain way, or create significant systematic preference for a specific religion or ideological preference, it is equally repugnant to democratic principles at the international level to think that the international community would FORCE another nation to adopt this principle. Why? Because freedom of conscience is not something that is relevant (at best only peripherally) to global affairs. Only in cases where people are being brainwashed for religious/ideological war (observe jihadists in Afghanistan or ISIS) would anyone suppose that the international community might have some jurisdiction over individual conscience – in this case it is precisely because of the fact that these individual matters, or matters which are determined at the national/subnational level, take on a character which creates a need for urgent action at the international level.

In short, in response to “is a world wide democracy a good idea”. Yes, if you are worried about the world being run by China and India, refer to the above. They would never have jurisdiction over most things which are relevant to you. Moreover, in international affairs, action is generally weighted by military and economic clout – observe that most UN votes are largely toothless statements which help to contribute to discussions of what MIGHT become general principles for national governments – the real power is in the UNSC, and flawed as it is, only powerful countries in the real politick sense have influence there.

In short, fears of a “one world government” are highly overstated, because no international democracy would ever have significant influence over things which are relevant to you unless there was an exceedingly strong case for global action (e.g., you can’t have nukes or land mines) – and moreover, the power to police this would always still reside in the national government, except in rare exceptions which we declare as “failed states”.

63 MC October 10, 2015 at 6:26 pm

In other words, it’s important to unify the social will when your own pet super duper important cause is at stake. So when you support unifying the social will around taking equally costly measures to combat nuclear proliferation (Obama’s wimpy nuclear deal doesn’t cut it) and terrorism at the expense of reactionary obstructionist political groups in certain countries who rant about war-mongering and privacy, then I’ll take you a bit more seriously.

64 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 4:36 am

50% would be enough. It’s troubling that people who haven’t taken science since grade 10 think they know more about climate than people with PhD and years of intensive research experience, but in a democracy I guess this is the name of the game. There is no need to convince everyone, but it would be nice to see a little more leadership on the matter.

Observe that in China, no one denies AGW, they just question whether it’s in their interests to act on it. Same goes for India – no one in the leadership of India doubts AGW, but they want to grow first and address the environment later. Meanwhile, in Republican America, the discussion is more interested in denying the science of the matter than getting into the difficult business of just how much action is worthwhile.

As for terrorism – perhaps the notion that you can bomb them into submission does more to fan the flames than solve the problems? Moreover, rhetoric, particularly from the right, which tends to blame all of Islam instead of focusing on the minority of extremist radicals, is not helping matters one bit. Why should Europeans fan the flames of terrorism when the USA already does such a good job of it? More often than not, it’s better to stay out of your ill advised wars. Why should Canadian taxpayers help to foot the bill for wars started by Americans?

65 So Much For Subtlety October 11, 2015 at 5:31 am

Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 4:36 am

It’s troubling that people who haven’t taken science since grade 10 think they know more about climate than people with PhD and years of intensive research experience, but in a democracy I guess this is the name of the game.

It must be sad to need to feel yourself so special. You are aware that there are any number of people with real science degrees and real scientific backgrounds who reject AGW? Perhaps, in fact, a majority of real scientists. Freeman Dyson for instance. Can you explain to us all why your puerile views on science are more credible than his?

Observe that in China, no one denies AGW, they just question whether it’s in their interests to act on it.

How do you know? Can you please cite me three opinion polls on the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and their views on AGW?

Meanwhile, in Republican America, the discussion is more interested in denying the science of the matter than getting into the difficult business of just how much action is worthwhile.

Because there is no science to deny. Why over turn capitalism for a problem that appears not to exist?

As for terrorism – perhaps the notion that you can bomb them into submission does more to fan the flames than solve the problems?

And perhaps it doesn’t. Do you have any reason to believe the things you do? Most political differences are resolved by killing everyone on the other side of the argument. It works.

Moreover, rhetoric, particularly from the right, which tends to blame all of Islam instead of focusing on the minority of extremist radicals, is not helping matters one bit.

You know, it is a constant surprise to me that you get hurt when people respond in a robust manner to the stupidly hurtful things you say. I would think that someone with such a lack of basic empathy or even fairness would have got used to the dislike he provokes in others. But, what do I know? Who on the Right tends to blame all of Islam? Name six.

Meanwhile I notice that the Islamists tend to blame all Jews and all Christians without distinction. I have not noticed a lot of Christians responding by murdering innocent Muslims. Why do you think that is?

Why should Europeans fan the flames of terrorism when the USA already does such a good job of it?

See what I mean?

66 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 7:01 am

Scientists – Do you take the words of a biologist when it comes to materials science? No, it is the work of the experts that matter. I listen to biologists on matters of biology, materials scientists on matters of materials scientists and climate scientists on the matter of climate.

Similarly, I take Muslims as experts on Islam and Christians as experts on Christianity, and assume that in both cases, the vast majority are broadly ignorant of the other.

Position of the Chinese leadership – Observe that the country recently dedicated itself to a cap and trade system. Also, AGW is taught as a standard part of education curriculum.

Republican science denial and “no science to deny”. – As of 2012, there were 13,950 articles published on climate chance, 24 of which explicitly reject AGW – that’s about 0.2% of articles which deny it.

“Most political differences are resolved by killing everyone on the other side of the argument”. Um, no. This happened in some very big wars, and more likely creates a permanent constituency for future war. Observe the defeat of Germany in WWI and what happened next. Observe the defeat of Saddam, and what happened next. Observe the defeat of Ghadaffi and what happened next. Compare this to Indonesia and Tunisia, where conflict was not the means of resolution, or consider achievement of peace with the IRA. Sometimes sufficient military opposition is strictly required to convince them that they will not achieve gains by military means, but seeking to destroy them completely a) just makes it easy for them to recruit against “evil” and b) creates the seed of future conflict. There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the argument, but when you commit yourself to complete eradication of the other, this is a recipe for disaster, not peace. Better to say “we will fight you until you will to come to the table and accept a peaceful resolution which includes YOU in the political system.” Political exclusion is a recipe for disaster. Imagine what would have happened to the USA if, post Civil War, all combatants from the losing side had been excluded from the political system? It’s a recipe for war, nothing less.

Who on the right blames all of Islam? Well, they aren’t so stupid as to frame it in so explicit terms. But I have read a far few cases of “Islam is the enemy” rather than “fundamentalist extremism is the enemy”. Sorry, it’s hard to do a Google search for subtle messages, but if you are unaware of this then you are willfully blind. I don’t blame all on the right, and pushed on the matter, I have read several cases (again, sorry, I forget who) where they are willing to admit that there might be some handful of non-terrorists among Muslims, but it is not an uncommon perspective on the right wing that most Muslims are inclined to violence and terrorism, whereas such lines of thinking are essentially non-existent on the left wing.

The claim that Muslims kill Christians and Jews but not vice versa. OK, first of all, Muslims are far more busy killing each other than Christians and Jews. This is the most salient and relevant point about who is killing who. There is a civil war going on in Islam. Second, we kill more of them than us – but since we hire professional killers (soldiers) to do the job, we claim that this is not murder, but say that it is murder when they do it. In several cases, I support the actions of these professional killers (soldiers) in a handful of cases, but it remains a fact that in every conflict we have killed more of them than they have killed of us. And it also remains a fact that waaay more innocent civilians are killed by Western bombs (even if we might have genuine belief in our own best intentions) than innocent civilian Westerners are killed by those who have been radicalized into violent opposition.

The claim that Islamists tend to blame all Jews and Christians without distinction. This is a subgroup of Muslims. I suggest that the percentage of Muslims who blame all Jews and Christians without distinction is not particularly different than the percentage of Jews and Christians who blame all Muslims without distinction. In both cases, yes, if you push with a more refined question like “well, don’t you think that SOME Christians and Jews are not to blame” and vice versa, you will get similar responses on both sides. Many will show a more moderate position on this question. But a smaller minority (I dare say, the extremists on either side) will say “All Muslims (Christians) are to blame because they are part of a system which has not proven capable to rein in the other Christians (Muslims) who want to kill us”.

In every way, you are taking one side of the story, to the very nearly absolute exclusion of the other.

67 So Much For Subtlety October 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 7:01 am

Do you take the words of a biologist when it comes to materials science? No, it is the work of the experts that matter.

Freeman Dyson is a physicist.

Similarly, I take Muslims as experts on Islam and Christians as experts on Christianity

No you do not. You regularly lecture us all on what Christians and Muslims *really* believe. So you seem to think that middle class, middle of the road Canadian liberals hold, in fact, am impeccable teaching authority on these subjects.

Position of the Chinese leadership – Observe that the country recently dedicated itself to a cap and trade system. Also, AGW is taught as a standard part of education curriculum.

So no you cannot produce evidence. Obama gave the Chinese a massive bribe if they would pretend to do something about CO2. That is not evidence they believe it. Why do you think AGW is on the Chinese curriculum?

Republican science denial and “no science to deny”. – As of 2012, there were 13,950 articles published on climate chance, 24 of which explicitly reject AGW – that’s about 0.2% of articles which deny it.

That involves counting articles in an unusual way. When it comes to the 70s Cooling Panic, the warmists insist that an article had to say “We believe the planet in cooling”. Scientists don’t work that way. When it comes to warming, they insist that an article that says “This is consistent with warming” supports warming. When it doesn’t. You are not comparing like with like.

This happened in some very big wars, and more likely creates a permanent constituency for future war. Observe the defeat of Germany in WWI and what happened next. Observe the defeat of Saddam, and what happened next. Observe the defeat of Ghadaffi and what happened next.

So you cite three cases where the liberal West did nothing. Great. Let’s compare with World War Two where Nazis were executed by the West and more so by the Soviets. A lot of Nazis in Germany today? How about your favorite China. A lot of non-Communist political parties left on the mainland are there?

Compare this to Indonesia and Tunisia, where conflict was not the means of resolution, or consider achievement of peace with the IRA.

There has been no peace with the IRA, just a truce. This would be the same Indonesia where gangs of young men went out and murdered every Communist they could find? That Indonesia? Tell me, how is the largest Communist Party outside of China doing these days? They must have swept to power.

Better to say “we will fight you until you will to come to the table and accept a peaceful resolution which includes YOU in the political system.” Political exclusion is a recipe for disaster.

The amusing thing is that you believe this nonsense. Such words are invariably a cover for surrender to the terrorists and nothing else. After all, they always had access to the political process if they wanted. They chose violence instead. A process which involves them in a great deal of murder of people who disagreed with them. The ANC, for instance, devoted roughly no military effort to fighting Whites or Apartheid whatsoever. They devoted a great deal to murdering people who belonged to the Pan-African Congress or a Zulu Party. Tell me how those parties are faring in modern South Africa?

Imagine what would have happened to the USA if, post Civil War, all combatants from the losing side had been excluded from the political system? It’s a recipe for war, nothing less.

You are joking, right? They did precisely that. But it was expensive and complicated so instead they gave into the Ku Klux Klan and the system reverted to something like the status quo ante bellum. By all means tell us all how that surrender worked out for the best.

Who on the right blames all of Islam? Well, they aren’t so stupid as to frame it in so explicit terms.

So you lied. Nice of you to acknowledge it. The question is why do you have such a personal pathology that your hatred drives you to lie. Why do you think that is?

But I have read a far few cases of “Islam is the enemy” rather than “fundamentalist extremism is the enemy”. Sorry, it’s hard to do a Google search for subtle messages, but if you are unaware of this then you are willfully blind.

It is not hard to google for “Islam is the enemy”. Of course the problem is mine, not yours.

but it is not an uncommon perspective on the right wing that most Muslims are inclined to violence and terrorism, whereas such lines of thinking are essentially non-existent on the left wing.

A position you have no evidence for whatsoever. A position you have just admitted you have no evidence for whatsoever. And yet you hold it anyway. It is like saying you have no evidence the Jews kill gentile children for their Passover bread but you insist they do it anyway because everyone knows they do. Again the problem here is you.

OK, first of all, Muslims are far more busy killing each other than Christians and Jews.

Like that makes it better.

Second, we kill more of them than us – but since we hire professional killers (soldiers) to do the job, we claim that this is not murder, but say that it is murder when they do it.

You really are a sh!t aren’t you? Soldiers are not professional killers and when they kill, they are not committing murder. We kill more of them than they kill of us – and I notice your shift from “Christians” to “Westerners” – because they are so incompetent at killing people who can defend themselves. We are not trying to kill them. They, that is the terrorists, are trying to kill us.

I suggest that the percentage of Muslims who blame all Jews and Christians without distinction is not particularly different than the percentage of Jews and Christians who blame all Muslims without distinction.

Needless to say you have no evidence for this whatsoever. It is just important to your self esteem that you blame all your own kith and kin without distinction.

In every way, you are taking one side of the story, to the very nearly absolute exclusion of the other.

Pot. Kettle. Yada, yada, yada.

68 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 7:41 pm

So you seem to think that middle class, middle of the road Canadian liberals hold, in fact, am impeccable teaching authority on these subjects.

He confuses Cannuck banality with reason itself.

69 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 6:10 am

Art – I claim no such authority. This is merely an online discussion on a blog comment board, where we are exchanging perspectives and facts, ideally with the hope of coming to a better understanding of different perspectives and being faced with new facts. (You spelt Canuck wrong.)

70 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 7:13 am

SMFS – Part 2: on lies; all Muslims or just violent radicals as enemy; right wing bias against Muslims; who is more dangerous to whom; pots, kettle and reasons for taking sides.

“you lied” … ohhhhh myyyy freakin’ God. For a man who uses hyperbole and black and white thinking as a general mode of argumentation (granted, in at least several cases you introduce pertinent facts), you call me a liar for stepping back from a statement which is fairly true-ish, but not completely true. That, from the man who compares Sanders to Pol Pot. And especially ridiculous because I said “tends to” (you see, not a very black and white statement).

Googling “Islam is the enemy”. I thought everyone knows Google will always tell you what you already think you know. I would never ever ever search “Islam is the enemy” if I wanted a balanced perspective on anything. I’m talking about my impression of things after just reading the daily news of their statements. However, out of curiosity now, I Googled it. The first hit is Obama saying “Terror, not Islam, is the enemy”. On the first page of hits there’s a site, wnd.com which has articles about “Bill [Clinton] the rapist”, discusses prophetic implications of Russia in Syria, i.e., is obviously Christian right wing, and has an article about “Islam is the enemy”. You are willfully blind if you do not think that the American right is more generally conceiving Islam itself as the enemy, as compared to others who are more explicitly concerned about the minority who have become radicalized into violence. I get my perspective from statements of politicians through the daily news.

“not an uncommon perspective on the right wing that most Muslims are inclined to violence and terrorism, whereas such lines of thinking are essentially non-existent on the left wing”
– You suggest I have no evidence. I don’t think I can convince you on my own, but try this experiment if you really want to know the answer. Go to an obvious right wing site (perhaps Fox?). Post this in the comments: “All Muslims are terrorists, I think we might have to kill them all, every last one” or “I guess it’s time to cluster bomb / nuke the Middle East and start over again. What do you think?”. You will get some agreement, some people telling you you go a weeee bit too far, but perhaps not much too far, and there is a very small chance that someone will either try to draw you away from the position or tell you you’re nuts and a danger to society. If you doubt who the right/left wingers are, just say “Obama is a good leader” and see how they react. Then, go to a very left wing site, and post the very same comment: “All Muslims are terrorists, I think we might have to kill them all, every last one.” Many people will jump up in arms, calling you a right wing fascist, a genocidal maniac, a Nazi, and all manner of other things.

Try the opposite approach: go to an obvious right wing website and post the following: “I think that the vast majority of Muslims are generally good people. Only a very small minority of Muslims are trouble makers. We should help Muslim refugees who flee the extremists.” People will jump at you and call you insane for inviting murderous evil Muslim rapist pedophile terrorists into the country, willfully inviting the destruction of our nation and culture. Then, do the same on an obvious left wing site. Probably you will get very little response, but probably there is some right winger perusing the content who will feel the need to call you all sorts of names for saying such a naive and stupid thing. Possibly, another person will defend your position. If in doubt about the left/right nature of things, just express confidence that the Democrats will make the situation better and see how they respond.

Precisely the same divide exists at the highest levels of politics, just usually hidden more discreetly in more subtle messaging.

Don’t take my word for it. If you want to know, try the experiment. Or just read the comments, since many people are already posting basically these things you can sit back and observe.

Professional killers. International law agrees with you. Soldiers cannot be tried for people they kill in engagements, and moreover cannot be tried for civilian casualties unless gross negligent error or intentional killing of civilians can be proven, which is basically impossible to prove because all evidence is hidden as classified information. Sometimes the military polices its own, and in a second I would defend America’s military as doing a better job of this than most other countries who are involved in combat. But who are these terrorists? Who is a greater danger to whom? We occupy their countries, bomb their villages (yes there may be terrorists there, but how does that feel to them?), and pre-approve pro-Western leaders only as acceptable for high leadership positions. Gee, and we wonder how much of this they will tolerate before people take to arms. Get this. OUR army is in THEIR land, yet THEY are the greater danger to US?

Whether more Christians/Jews blame Muslims than vice versa. This has nothing to do with blaming my kith and kin. This has everything to do with drilling it into your skull that there are two sides to the story, and neither one of them is very nice. If it seems irrational to you to suppose that both sides blame the other in fairly equal proportions, then please recall your experiences of being a five-year old. “No he started it, no he started it…” and on and on it goes. I suggest that most people aren’t much better than a five-year old in accepting responsibility for who started what, and that the same holds at the societal level.

One/two sides of the story: pots and kettles. I suggest that Muslims are experts on Islam and Christians on Christianity. I suggest that we blame them as much as they blame us. I suggest that we kill more of them than them of us (true). I suggest that power sharing is a sensible approach to peace (granted I take sides in this argument). I cite facts about AGW referring to literature. I cite facts about China and AGW. I suggest that we listen to experts rather than non-experts. Pots and kettles?

YES, I am taking more of one side of the argument. I can easily take the other side of the argument and defend the prerogatives and good motivations of the West (so long as we can keep the extremists in check, which I think we are doing a moderately OK job of), as I have done countless times in discussing the matter in person with leftist anarchists in the West and with Muslims in a number of Muslims majority countries. But there’s a reason I take one side of the argument: you either don’t know it exists or believe that it only exists in the minds of stupid, deluded and brainwashed people. And while we disagree strongly on some things, I’m pretty sure that you don’t think I’m stupid, deluded and brainwashed.

AGW is real. There is a reason that terrorists are pissed off. So long as the American right wing, from grass roots straight to the top, systematically refuses to acknowledge any legitimacy whatsoever to either of these perspectives, significant progress on the two biggest global challenges of our time will be essentially impossible.

71 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 7:05 am

SMFS – part 1. AGW; knowledge of religious groups; cooling scare vs. AGW, and extermination approach versus power sharing.

“Freeman Dyson is a physicist.”

Exactly. His wikipedia entry says he is “known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering”. None of those fields have anything whatsoever to do with climate science. His most recent work on anything related to climate was in the 1970s, before anyone knew much of anything about AGW. Why would you treat him as any sort of expert on the matter?

“You regularly lecture us all on what Christians and Muslims *really* believe.”

First, I never once ever ever said “ABCDEFG is what X believes”. I share my general understanding of things based on my experience, interactions with people, and reading. I would never for a second think I had monopoly on knowledge about these things. People can study just one religion for their entire life and not have perfect knowledge of their own religion that they grow up immersed in. Moreover, what someone “really” believes is a personal matter, and is highly diversified across every group. Often, however, some generalizations can be made. If you ever think any generalization I draw is wrong, I welcome you to call me on it – please be specific. I am not obstinate. I would never claim authority over the matter. It appears that there are no Muslims active on this blog, which is unfortunate because that would lend a lot to understanding of some common perspectives when it comes to the religious questions.

China on cap and trade and AGW in curriculum:
– China operating pilot programs on cap and trade in six cities, announced in 2014 and presently being implemented: http://theweek.com/articles/444027/china-leading-way-capandtrade
– China committing to a nation-wide cap and trade in all the top emitting industries: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/10/06/china-carbon-emissions-climate-change-cap-trade-us/
– Why I “think” it’s in the curriculum: In 2006 I was teaching grade 7 students in China, and one day I drew on the board a picture of the sun, sun rays, the earth, and wrote “CO2” on the board and asked them if they knew what I was talking about. Every single student in the class knew exactly what I was talking about and all I had to do was add some English words to the mix. Out of curiosity, today I wrote “CO2” in the board and asked “Do you know why this important” and every one of 75 faces in the classroom became immediately downcast. These are 13 year old children and they can probably explain the dynamics of AGW better than the average American university science graduate.
– and the suggestion that Obama bribed the Chinese is beyond ridiculous. While in earlier years they claimed a right to increase emissions for development purposes, even a full decade ago the government was planting hundreds of millions of trees annually for purposes of climate change mitigation, and has committed to maintain this level for quite some time into the future. I was last in Beijing in 2009, and this August I was there for 2 days and have seen that nearly every possible space of available land which is not developed has been planted with trees in the meantime.

Re: previous cooling concerns in contradiction with AGW
– The prediction of cooling was based on precisely zero modeling and precisely zero understanding of any climate mechanisms whatsoever. Rather, it resulted from observations about temperatures in the earlier decades, which seemed to indicate cooling. I’m sure you are well aware that there are many underlying cycles and much variation in climate, and that there will always be oscillation regardless of the broader trends. This is akin to economists who try to predict the next recession based purely on historical observation of previous oscillation of solely GDP, excluding any/all causal factors. The global cooling scare is like looking at two months of GDP growth and assuming that we are on the pathway to economic depression – it was not science, it largely extrapolation from a very short time period (decades are a short time period in climate stuff).
– The prediction of warming is not an analysis based on previous trends of merely one variable. Rather it reflects a causal understanding of greenhouse gases, and attempts to incorporate large amounts of information about climate systems (especially ocean currents and deep water systems, which remain very poorly mapped out) to predict the future effects. This is akin to economists who now have a better understanding of many economic variables, and instead of using historical data on GDP to predict the next recession, they monitor a greater number of variables which are leading, lagging, etc., and other ones which are well understood to have direct effects on macroeconomic aggregates.
– in both cases, this reflects improvements upon simplistic models, which incorporate ever more data into ever more realistic models.

The extermination approach: granted, sometimes you have to insist that you’re willing to go that far. But the real objective is to get them to lay down arms and rejoin in the process of social and economic development which is mutually beneficial. I think we share a lot of blame for the situation in a lot of Muslim countries, but regardless of history, for example, I think ISIS must be persuaded that the only possible military outcome is its complete and utter destruction, or to give up arms, or at the very least, if not giving up arms, to give up violence and join other means of negotiation/representation. But even a false perception that we seek extermination, if believed, serves to do little but to fan the flames of radical fanaticism. It runs both ways. With ISIS, for example, they seem dedicated to complete eradication of certain groups, which lends some legitimacy to precisely the same argument running the other direction. You mention the counterexample of China. You are right that this CAN work, but really, is that the world you want to live in? The extermination approach?

Indonesia: knowing the past of military rule, I was thinking this might be a weak example. I’ll grant you that one.

Political exclusion as a recipe for disaster. There are sooo many books and articles written on this matter that I don’t even know where to start (probably you write most of them off as naive leftists). Yes, sometimes military solutions are the only way possible. But at every stage of the game they need to be invited into peaceful political processes. If they believe that they will be excluded entirely from the system, then the only option is to keep on fighting. There are no shortage of cases where civil wars have begun specifically for the reason of earlier exclusion from the political process. This can be contrasted with situations where a group tries to wrest control of a country by violent means, in a way that would exclude all other groups from the political system. We could both cherry pick examples to bolster each case, so I think it’s reasonable to agree that “please let A work, but always be willing to do B” is a reasonable frame of thinking.

The point is this. If we want to live in a better future, we must commit ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence and political exclusion where the winners of a war dominate the losers. The USA is a great success story in this regard – the South was not excluded from power after losing the Civil War, and the country has basically been stable since then. Question. How many years/decades of political exclusion would the south have tolerated until the next war, had they been excluded from the process? Exclusion from governance and the economy does nothing but build resentment and sow the seeds for future conflict. I’m not stupid, I’m not naive, and I know that most of the “successful” states though history have achieved their stability by precisely the strategy you propose: keep on beating and killing everyone on the other side until the remaining ones give up completely and swear fealty to whatever king, god or ideology they are forced to accept. Nearly every time, though, no matter how much the winners thought they completely destroyed the “other”, and thought they had eradicated all memory of their previous culture and all memory of the carnage of war, people never forget. It is passed down through generations in a million subtle ways, and we’re back to square one: war. Committing yourself to eradication of the other is a recipe for war, not peace. Childish idealism you say? History abounds with examples of groups who have been excluded from politics and the economy after a conflict, and many of the bloodiest wars have been fought by those who seek revenge, if not next year, then next generation, or hundreds of years later. So, we allow natives self governance on the reserves, the right to run for office anywhere in the country, and additional supports to help them join the modern economic system if/when they choose. I am unaware of any power sharing agreement where diverse groups were able to more or less equally access the political process and which achieved stability for any appreciable period of time, but then this later collapsed into a bloody civil war.

72 jorgensen October 10, 2015 at 3:02 pm

“unifying the social will”

Is very much a fascistic conception and when he wrote that Dennis was a fascist. The idea that everyone has to pull in the same direction at the same time for anything to be accomplished is central to the thinking of fascists (and their heirs, the Eurocrats). The experience of the Anglo American world is that progress comes first from the chaos of individual choices and only for big legislative changes do we require a critical mass of 50% to accomplish it. We never require 100% buy in to accomplish anything.

So, yes, the passage is entirely wrong about how society did, does and will progress.

73 derek October 10, 2015 at 4:22 pm

So if you have a set of common assumptions in society it is fascistic? To try to impose such a thing is very likely authoritarian, I’ll agree. But economics is about trying to understand how things happen. To not recognize a ‘unifying social will’ in say the American Dream, or the Greek disdain for paying taxes, or the German ability to organize, or even the difference between Boston and Houston in how things get done is to to miss much of the point. These social assumptions have a very large effect on how well people are doing. Humans are not machines, especially groups of humans.

Even the idea of free people seeking their own best interest is a ‘unifying social will’, probably one of the most powerful possible.

74 Larry Siegel October 12, 2015 at 12:13 am

It sounds Rousseauvian and pro-Communistic to me. But, then, Communism is fascism with a human face (or so said Susan Sontag; I’m not so sure about the human face).

75 Larry Siegel October 12, 2015 at 12:14 am

Sorry, proto-Communistic. My spell checker thinks that’s not a word (OK, maybe it isn’t).

76 Tom Hickey October 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

“Social will” could be fascistic but it is not necessarily so, although its use by fascists prejudices the case. I take the question to be broad enough to include meanings that may not be either fascistic or even reifying. The idea that there is no such thing as society is true from the perspective of reification, but it is nonsense in the light of many other meanings. In sociology, for example, a society may be treated as a social system in which individuals are the elements that stand in various relationships to each other to subsystems and to the system as whole, so that there is micro, meso and macro causation.

“Social will” can be viewed as metaphor or metonymy signifying the predisposition to collective action. It is often used as “national will” with respect to political support for war. Many hold that the US lost Vietnam not because of military defeat but degradation of “national will” over time owing to rising casualties and the anti-war movement that mobilized popular opposition in a liberal democracy.

There are a variety of possible models involving different philosophical assumptions”

1. Individuals and no such thing as society, “society” being merely an aggregation of individuals as constitutive.

2. Individuals AND society, e.g. where society is equated with the state.

3. Individuals VERSUS society, where society is equated with the state.

4. Individuals IN society (as a social system, holism)

5, Individuals THROUGH society (society being determinative through culture and institutional effects)

6. Individuals AS “cells” of society as the Body Politic (collectivism).

“Social will” could figure into these models in a variety of ways, although some assuming #1 would not even allow metaphor or metonymy and reject the concept as meaningless (nonsense).

77 Los Ranchos October 10, 2015 at 3:18 pm

The idea that all this progress has come entirely from chaotic entrepreneurship is really crazy. The main difference between successful and unsuccessful cultures is the presence of a set of moral underpinnings – family, education, rule of law, honesty, etc. Progress arises from that bedrock, and chaos arises from its absence. There are many instructive cultural comparisons to prove this point that can be made both within and across national boundaries.

78 Kris October 10, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Can you define “chaotic entrepreneurship”?

79 jorgensen October 10, 2015 at 5:35 pm

“The main difference between successful and unsuccessful cultures is the presence of a set of moral underpinnings – family, education, rule of law, honesty, etc. Progress arises from that bedrock, and chaos arises from its absence.”

I basically agree with that as a bedrock. But social and economic progress and change happens at the edges and is a chaotic process at the margin.

80 Millian October 10, 2015 at 5:55 pm

It looks like Greek and Italian families are doing everything right in their structures from the right-wing perspective. Families stick together and single mothers have to move in and live with Momma. Yet these societies don’t seem to do as well on other indicators, so maybe families are bunk.

81 Los Ranchos October 10, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Strong families was one of a list of necessary criteria. Necessary, not sufficient. Nice Krugman-esque argumentation though….

82 AB October 10, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Commenters are missing the point here in quite an amusing way, presumable because the phrase “unifying the social will” sets of the fascism klaxons. (I doubt that even a fascist would use that phrase today.)

The relevant point is that preferences are not primordial, given, they are socially constituted. This is true whether you pay attention to it or not. (And it does not entail any kind of blank-slateism about human psychology.) If neoclassical economics aims simply to reform institutional structures to allow people to meet their preferences it will be eternally chasing its own tail, blind to the actual meaning of its own recommendations and perpetually disappointed in their application.

83 Gochujang October 10, 2015 at 3:59 pm

That is pretty good. I would also say that social will might be fleeting, shifting coalitions, especially under conditions of dynamism.

84 derek October 10, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Probably fleeting in one way, but also very difficult to change on the other. Populations don’t change their social structures very quickly.

85 Millian October 10, 2015 at 5:57 pm

No, your comment is written much more cleverly in style than in content. You can reform an “institutional structure”, let people meet their actual preferences, and leave it at that. You don’t have to then unite under one state, one people, one leader of the national will. You can just leave it at that.

86 Barkley Rosser October 10, 2015 at 4:44 pm

“Unifying social will” is pretty clearly not in general what is needed for economic activity given that most economic activity is done by individuals and firms. This may be necessary for carrying out some public projects, hwoever, such as buidling ttransportation networks or systems. It is not the central problem this old and obscure fascist thinks it is, though.

87 chuck martel October 10, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Building transportation networks or the like doesn’t come about by “unifying social will”, it’s done by elites recognizing what will be socially acceptable. The Panama Canal, Interstate Highway System, man on the moon, national telephone system, etc. weren’t responses to a unified social will, they were basically efforts between industry and government to make money. Nobody is directly involved in this kind of activity unless there’s a payoff. Cheering at “The Eagle Has Landed” isn’t much more meaningful to the average guy than bouncing up and down over a R.G.III touchdown pass. But the event did buy homes, groceries and duds for a lot of federal employees and contractors.

88 jorgensen October 10, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Building sewers does come from unifying social will.

89 poincare October 10, 2015 at 8:27 pm

Do you feel that cynicism is wisdom?

90 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 4:47 am

There is truth to what you say, but in the Cold War context, there was an awful lot of “unifying the social will” going on. Meanwhile, in public transportation, yes it is obvious that profit seekers are likely to be involved (very few public works are fully implemented by the public sector alone), but you need a very broad basis of public support before any city will process with a multi-billion dollar subway extension, for example.

Compare this to public health care, which in many countries compared to the USA offers cheaper and better results than the USA. In many cases, this has results in a fairly unified social will, in the form of massive public support for a taxation system which upholds public healthcare (at lower average costs and better average results).

91 chuck martel October 11, 2015 at 10:59 am

There wasn’t any “unifying social will” apparent in the ACA affair, other than the fact that no one wishes to file for bankruptcy because a family member develops a tumor. Nobody, including the legislative bodies involved, knew the details of the act and any positive attitudes toward it were generated by pie-in-the-sky propaganda, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”. Average costs and average results mean nothing to one particular individual in reality, even though he might have acquired a good feeling about the general situation.

The construction of publicly-financed sports venues follows a similar path in which manifold benefits are promised but never realized, except for team owners and adjacent businesses, and no list of these benefits ever appears. With few exceptions these projects never come to a popular vote because democracy can’t be trusted to facilitate cronyism.

92 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 11:18 am

I was never particularly supportive of ACA, but apparently support for outright public health care borders on heresy and treason in the USA.

93 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 11:48 am

but apparently support for outright public health care borders on heresy and treason in the USA.

Or apparently people are familiar with the Veterans’ Administration hospitals and pleased not to replicate them.

94 chuck martel October 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Outright public health care is socialist and the health industry itself isn’t willing to go there. Doctors and others in the health care hierarchy want to maximize their earnings, on which public health care would put ceilings, except for the apparatachiks that determine costs, supplies and remuneration. Public health care would/will come to resemble the state legal system, with moderately well-paid, adequate doctors as states attorneys and medical school losers on the front lines, like public defenders. The real super doctors would reside as many do now, in academia or lucrative private practice, like really hot-shot defense lawyers.

95 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm

chuck – Yes, “socialist” is a very dirty word in the American lexicon. Hence my choice of the word “heresy”.

I’m not sure how it would play out in the USA, but in Canada doctors make much better money than academic medical researchers. I think the main division would be between those who want to be a doctor and those who want to go into research, since both are fairly lucrative careers.

96 Global Head of Pussy October 11, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Barkley doesn’t seem to know what a market is.

97 ThomasH October 10, 2015 at 6:48 pm

As criticism it seem similar to the observation that investment and hence future growth depends on today’s “animal spirits” + plus the ability and willingness of governments to identify and execute activities with positive NPV’s.

98 Christian List October 10, 2015 at 10:32 pm

The first part of the quote seems pretty true to me. Maybe you could rephrase the second part, so that in the end it looks similar to this:

“The trouble with most of our social thinking is that it takes dynamism for granted and assumes that the chief social problems are those of knowing what you want and how to get it. The chief social problem is that of generating dynamism, wealth and progress.”

Or in other words:
The trouble with most of social thinking is that it seems to be more interested in redistribution than in creation.

99 Tom Warner October 11, 2015 at 12:26 am

The author was 100% overtly fascist. The statement is collectivist and fits fascism and socialism equally well. I’d say the statement could be interpreted as not entirely wrong, as getting to liberal, democratic rule of law certainly requires unifying social will.

100 Tom Warner October 11, 2015 at 12:43 am

As for “unifying social will” being important to public infrastructure, I doubt it. All you need is a reasonably funded government with a general infrastructure mandate. We didn’t build the Grand Coulee Amish-style by mass voluntary participation. Or in the backward places and olden days, big infrastructure projects are/were built by forced labor.

101 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 10:23 am

All you need is a reasonably funded government with a general infrastructure mandate.

Last I checked, the ‘civil works’ portion of the federal budget (the Army Corps or Engineers, &c) amounted to about $6.5 bn. Less than 2% of all federal land-holdings are accounted for by those of the Bureau of Reclamation with their capital stock. If a federal agency were to assume the task of maintaining the long-haul Interstates, it’s budget would be perhaps $10 bn (or less than 0.1% of gdp). Our air terminals are owned and operated by local authorities. So are our ports. A low-single-digits share of the road mileage in this country consists of long-haul Interstates. Railroads can and do operate as private concerns, as do inter-city bus services. Whether it’s the infrastructure or the rolling stock, the role of the central government in constructing and maintaining public works need not be anything but exceedingly modest.

102 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 10:55 am

He didn’t specify which level of government would be “reasonably funded” to accomplish these things. Presumably his statement is consistent with different levels of government taking action according to local needs.

103 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 11:47 am

The Grand Coulee was funded by the federal government and built under the auspices of the Bureau of Reclamation.

104 Prakash October 11, 2015 at 1:39 am

This statement is true of India currently. What has to be done is known. There are literally hundreds of reforms that can be done purely from copying other existing institutions. But it is the other part of “how” that is the big sore thumb sticking out. It requires the rhetoric to change in favour of honest commerce and away from the same pattern of government largesse. To do that for india may require, if not a uniting of social will, at least a great defragmentation of it.

105 rayward October 11, 2015 at 7:32 am

When threatened, the insecure go on the attack. For neocons, that means attacking the patriotism of their critics; in their minds, the neocon view of the world is the only possible view, so those who disagree with them, even highly decorated military personnel, must be dupes or, worse, unpatriotic. For hard right Republicans, that means attacking the motives of their critics; in their minds, the hard right view of the world is the only possible view, so those who disagree with them, even traditional conservatives, must be dupes or, worse, traitors. For neoclassical economists, that means attacking the intellectual integrity of those who disagree with them; in their minds, the neoclassical view of economics is the only possible view, so those who disagree with them, even highly regarded academics, must be dupes or, worse, frauds. All extremists share this in common: they don’t allow any dissent and they punish the heretic. Why? Because the extremists know that the slightest deviation from orthodoxy jeopardizes the foundation of their view.

106 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 9:18 am

At worst, on the other side of the ideological spectrum, the right wing is accused of being excessively greedy and indifferent to the situation of the those who have not enjoyed the same level of opportunity. I dare say this is generally true, but then there are also a lot of Christians who are very caring of the poor but hate that the government extends support to everyone, whereas they would prefer to choose the “right” people who “deserve” of help.

This last comment is one reason that I am a big fa of World Vision, because they are an exceedingly Christian organization which routinely proves that it extends a lot of help to non-Christian communities, and does not abuse their position to try to indoctrinate children away from the traditional religious leanings of the communities where they promote better education, employment and business opportunities.

107 rayward October 11, 2015 at 10:41 am

Few are aware of the sectarian roots of Christianity – it’s right there in the Letters of John. No, Christians aren’t taught to love everyone, only those like themselves. Ironically, it’s the Catholic Church under Pope Francis that is accepting of everyone, even non-Christians, while the fastest growing segment of Christianity, the independent evangelical Protestant churches, are the most sectarian. Extremists are extremists and tolerate no heresy, for it will undermine the very foundation of their extremist beliefs. For a university to adopt a singular view, whatever it may be, is contrary to the mission of the university, which is to think, to learn, to learn what you don’t already believe you know: it’s knowledge not belief that is the mission of the university. When belief becomes the overriding mission, knowledge suffers. Resorting to mindless criticism, resorting to slander of non-believers, is the last refuge of the incompetent.

108 Nathan W October 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

I’m not usually the type to quote scripture, but the following scriptures stand quite strongly against what you said. (please mention the scripture you refer to, because I am unaware of it and didn’t find it online …)

Matthew 5:43-45 – You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44″But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Proverbs 19:11 – A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense

Proverbs 25:21 – If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

Luke 6:27-29 – But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you … bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Acts 7:60 – Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Romans 12:14 – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Romans 12:17 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

Romans 12:20 – On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

1 Thessalonians 5:15 – Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

109 Gochujang October 11, 2015 at 11:31 am

I think the modern Christian Right is more about Rush’s Radio Broadcast than Paul’s Letter.

110 Global Head of Pussy October 11, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Jesus built my hot-rod.

111 Global Head of Pussy October 11, 2015 at 10:19 pm

I don’t believe Jesus was the son of God, but I have no doubt that if he were, the Jews would have killed him.

112 Nathan W October 12, 2015 at 8:10 am

GHOP – “Son of God” was a conspiracy. Augustus Caeasar’s second title after “Caesar” was “Son of God”.

The Pharisees wanted him dead, but didn’t want the blood on their hands, so they tried to convince the Romans he was a revolutionary. Asked questions like “Are you the Son of God?” (trying to usurp the throne of Rome), “Are you the King of Jews?” (trying to start a revolution against the Romans). But poor Jesus, he never had a clue that he wasn’t being set up for execution for a very very long time before it finally happened.

But the Romans weren’t stupid. They knew he was widely popular and didn’t want to stoke a rebellion by killing him outright. So they put the blood on Jewish hands.

Romans weren’t very inventive, but they sure weren’t dumb.

113 JasonL October 11, 2015 at 8:48 am

Yes. Entirely wrong. It’s an ode to public works where some great man directs people to do some big thing that is touted as progress. The construction of the pyramids would be exemplary I suppose. Unifying the social will. GTFO.

114 Gochujang October 11, 2015 at 10:52 am

I would say water and sewer were the big historic drivers for public works, rather than monuments.

Irrigation projects abound in the archaeological record.

115 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 10:15 am
116 BP October 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm

I am reminded of Joe Studwell’s observation that East Asian high income countries, the greater leaders who kicked off the growth miracle usually had little training in economics. What they had was a strong sense of history and a fanatical desire to develop their home countries.

117 Barkley Rosser October 11, 2015 at 8:58 pm

Well, apparently we have an increasingly serious problem with our current infrastructure. Looks like a breakdown of either social will or maybe just that standard mandate for public works that had been there for quite a long time. Oh well….

118 Art Deco October 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Or it looks like interested parties are adept at selling stories of entropy to the media (which is rather like hurling yourself against a door ajar, to be sure). Some of us can recall John Anderson explaining that some special fund he proposed to incorporate would provide appropriations for local governments to repair “The.Leaky.Water.Mains”. Our infrastructure has been in ‘crisis’ for about 35 years now.

119 Barkley Rosser October 12, 2015 at 4:11 am

And John Anderson got a whopping 7 percent of the vote or thereabouts and no states. Sheesh, “Art,” can’t you come up with something better than that? Our infrastructure was in better shape then than it is today.

120 Art Deco October 12, 2015 at 10:11 am

The point of the Anderson reference is not that difficult for the non-senile to discern.\

Our infrastructure was in better shape then than it is today.

Thanks for the contents of your rear end. It’s been an education.

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122 Global Head of Pussy October 11, 2015 at 10:18 pm

I agree completely.

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