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Friday, June 5, 2009

Quick Bits at Econtalk, Plus a little Sotomayor action

So this post will relate to a couple of different podcasts at Econtalk.

1) The second installment of Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments discussion was pretty interesting. Smith made a point of suggesting that happy and successful individuals make a point of modulating what they expect from others. Specifically, expecting too much from others can limit and even hamper your relationship with others. I find that to be very true. One of the reasons I'm such a charming person is that I expect nothing from anyone!

2) As a compliment to that, there was another thought that I felt intriguing. Namely and I'm paraphrasing, "love yourself only so much as you love your neighbor." This is sort of a follow-up point to the earlier one. The point being that self-love comes in many forms. And a need/desire for attention can be such a form of self-love. And if you wouldn't take such attention/needs/desires from your neighbor, you damn well better not being demanding it yourself.

3) Ok this Econtalk post was from a news article interview that Russ Roberts did and posted with the reporter's permission. So I've discussed this before: Roberts, and his ilk, believe that "markets don't lie in the long run." Meaning that prices, as they inflate, or deflate, over time reflect true value. My comment to that is two fold. Fold the first. Who decides the barometer for time? We're human beings, with a typical lifespan of sixty-seventy odd years. So historical value is relative. And the New York Stock Exchange will only be 200 years old in 2015, so even that amount of time isn't that long. But then again. We measure generational time in decades right? And immediately after a decade has passed, it's over the hill. So my decade, the decade where I came of age, was the nineties. I'm an old man now!

I'm getting far afield. Here's the point: True value is a false certainty. Value only has meaning relative to a specific time period. So saying that the market reflects true value overtime really isn't saying much. So why do I have a problem with the statement? Because it was used to justify the fact that the government should do nothing in regards to the current economic crisis. Which leads to fold the second.

4) Time matters! Again, this assertion by economists that the market will balance itself out is fairly heartless. As a RavingLeftatic I must protest! How many lives and livelihoods will be ruined! Now, maybe I'm being alarmist. And that's a fair criticism, but news organizations are already beginning to report that people are beginning to stop looking for work. What about those who were fired from middle class jobs who have to take service jobs to make ends meet? You don't recover from that. Not easily. The stigma of taking a paycut lasts a long time and is very difficult to beat. What about war? Not us per se, but as unemployment in Europe, Russia and China begin to rise, violence will rise too. Lives are affected by economic downturns. And that is why it is not sufficient to simply say, hands off, let the magic market do its work. The government can't do that. No one, not even nobel laureate economists know for sure how the market works. It could take two decades to recover. You. Just. Can't. Wait.

5) Ok. What else. Something came up in the same podcast, but it's my own thought. I talked in my last post about how Don Beaudreaux mentioned "The giant" as an actor in economics, namely the governor. Well, I'd like to advance that notion a bit. The giant is not actually a giant, but a giant squid. Tentacles everywhere, oftentimes acting completely independent from one another. Moreover, state governments are lesser squids, with their own separate tentacles acting everywhere. So Boudreaux's analysis is a bit lopsided. It's so much a giant knocking a fragile mechanism around a football field. It's a giant squid interlaced with every gear and rod in the machine itself! See how economics is like fantasy?

6) Sotomayor. The Reverse Racist. First of all. What an idiotic term. Seriously. Second, she's not, and the evidence provided for this unbelievable allegation is completely specious. It's a total lameass Republican talking point, and Newt has lost his touch if this was the best he could come up with. Oh good, I really need to appeal to the white supremist base of my party. Sheesh. What's worse about it is that anytime that narcisist opens his mouth, it gets recorded. Hopefully this little idiocy will flame out long before the battle begins.

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