The Nude Deal

Larry Flynt's plea for a porn stimulus plan has attracted much ridicule.   Nevertheless, during the thirties burlesque was part of FDR's National Recovery Administration.  Here's Jonathan Bean at The Beacon on the history.

The National Recovery Administration
(NRA) was the first New Deal effort at recovery. The agency mandated
that all industries draft “Codes of Fair Competition” to benefit
business and labor. NRA codes – all 700 of them –corporatized the
entire economy. Wage and price fixing was o.k. as the experimenters rid
themselves of old superstitions that price fixing was somehow harmful
to Mrs. Consumer. As long as everyone put in the “fix,” all would be well. The Supreme Court disagreed and ended the experiment in May 1935 (Schechter v. United States).

Yet there was an upside to the code-making. It made Americans
realize how complex the economy had become by 1933. After all, there
were codes for the Dog Food Industry (Code 450), Curled
Hair Manufacturing and Horse Hair Dressing Industry (Code 427),
Shoulder Pad Manufacturing (Code 262), and the Burlesque Theatrical
Industry (Code 348). The latter limited burlesque dancers to four strip
teases per evening. The goal was to spread the work, and it simply
wasn’t fair that the pretty girls got to strip more than the other
gals.

Comments

What's the argument against this? Does it not have the same Keynesian multipliers?

Can Keynesian theory distinguish between stimulating the porn industry vs stimulating some other industry?

If it can't, doesn't that make it clear that the money is being politically allocated and economic theory really has nothing to do with it?

One thing I sort of suspect is that the complexity of the economy increases at a slower rate than computing power. I don't think we'll be there for some time but I think the time will probably come when it would be possible to centrally plan an economy and get results better than or equal to market results as far as hedonic outcomes.

Print pornography has been hurting for years. The Internet has done the damage to media like Hustler far more than this downturn. If anything, I suspect that for some people, porn consumption is up during downturns insofar as it's used to escape from the difficulties of being unemployed.

Michael, unless you are talking AI, someone has to program the computers. No amount of computing power will solve that problem.

Yeah I agree with RCinProv. If you look at some of the quotes from Flynt and others, I think they are doing a modern-day Petition of the Candlemakers. Don't get me wrong, they'd probably deposit the check if Congress wrote one, but I think they were mostly doing it for the publicity and to be funny.

Cliff, it really depends on what the problem is. Checkers was recently solved, is not a terrifically difficult programing problem but it has 500 billion possibilities, and it took many computers running since 1989 to solve. So I am talking about 'solving' of a huge dynamic optimization problem with an amazingly large number of variables and a huge data set. This sort of problem might lend itself to a brute force 'solution'. Now also keep in mind that markets aren't perfect, they are just the best tool available (by far) for solving certain types of problems, it isn't so out there to assume that this will not always remain the case.

Michael,
I suggest you talk to a few economist who use the tools of Complexity Science before you get too optimistic. For a pretty easy to read primer see "The Origin of Wealth".

The trouble is one does not "solve" a complex system like one can solve the sorts of closed form analytical problems you might see in a graduate Macro class. Complex systems may not reach equilibrium in the way we would like in order to "solve" for the proper parameters of a centrally run economy.

What Complex Systems analysis can do is help us gain further insights into how the real economy works and possibly design better institutions and regulations that will stop cascades from happening.

Flynt makes a conservative political point every few years. He decided that the bailouts were ridiculous, hence the story.

Can Keynesian theory distinguish between stimulating the porn industry vs stimulating some other industry

there is an underlying logic and understanding that also means a better understanding of the artists and their time and what made their work important.

Comments for this post are closed