01 Feb 2012


Krugman, Potpourri, Shameless Self-Promotion 52 Comments

* “Stuff” that libertarians say (HT2 Tyler Cowen). Some made me chuckle.

* Glenn Greenwald on Leon Panetta’s confirmation (not in so many words) that yes, Barack Obama is Emperor Palpatine.

* Speaking of which, did you actually read the details of what happened to those British tourists who were tweeting jokes about digging up Marilyn Monroe? It’s not like they were put back on a plane right away.

* This customer service call to Verizon–to dispute a billing charge–crystallizes for me 90% of human conflict. First of all it’s hilarious, as most arguments are. (I lost the links, but recently John Cochrane, a big-shot economist at the top school in the world, tattled on Paul Krugman for hurting his feelings. Then Nobel laureate Krugman responded that Cochrane had started it.) The kid in this call is obviously correct, and he’s understandably frustrated at the “idiots” at Verizon. But hang on–the kid actually didn’t do a good job explaining the problem. A few times he started down the right path, but then crucially he swerved away before driving home the lesson. Furthermore, he would periodically insult the people, while they could hear him. So of course the Verizon people–who must deal with thousands of people using bogus excuses to try to get out of their bills each week–aren’t going to really listen to him. Think of this way: If you’re the manager, and you’re talking to this kid after he’s been through 5 of your subordinates, you’re not thinking, “Wow I bet this kid is right, our whole billing infrastructure is based on a simple math error, and our staff are so stupid that 5 people in a row missed it.” No, you’re thinking, “This kid is a punk who doesn’t want to pay his bill. Yep! He just sarcastically said we don’t know math. Uh huh, I’ve dealt with wisealecks like this before.”

* Speaking of Krugman and civility, Richard Williamson noticed a contradiction (Kontradiction?) in Krugman’s views on this stuff. Incidentally, there is another Kontradiction: Krugman always complains that nobody takes him seriously, that all the “Very Serious People” believe in austerity. And yet, when justifying his rudeness to intellectual opponents, Krugman asks Cowen et al. to point to polite commentators who have more influence than he does.

* A former (online) student is working at FEE, and asked me to plug their summer seminars. Of course, if you can stand the heat, nothing beats Alabama in late July.

* Here’s the video (parts 1 and 2) of that PorcFest roast of Stefan Molyneux, but be careful this is the director’s cut. My part starts around the 20:00 mark on the second one, and the Uncle Sam girl to whom I allude in on the first one. BTW, word on the street is that we will probably have another roast at this year’s PorcFest (in late June in New Hampshire).

52 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Robert Fellner says:

    RE: Verizon phone call.

    I agree completely with your remarks on the customer’s failings of explaining the problem clearly. Incidentally, I think I’ve learned just as much from you in regards to how to communicate/argue more effectively as I have in economic theory.

  2. James E. Miller says:

    “I can’t quantify my hatred for the state. Preferences are ordinal.”

    I laughed for like 5 straight minutes at that.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      When I first starting reading this blog, I had zero respect for Paul Krugman. But now, after understanding him better, I have a billion times the respect for him that I used to have.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Good one Roddis. And Austrians aren’t supposed to be good with math.

        • MamMoTh says:

          The are good with maths when they apply them to bad jokes, but bad when they apply them to good economics.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Whatever, MamMoTh. When Roddis drove down to Nashville two years ago for the Night of Clarity, he and I talked about the proper use of Markov processes for general equilibrium modeling until 3 in the morning.

            • MamMoTh says:

              Then you might also be good with maths for bad economics.

              Does this mean bad economics is a bad joke?

          • James E. Miller says:

            Did you “borrow” that quote from Warren Mosler as well?

            • MamMoTh says:

              No, Mosler deficit spends quotes which become my assets. No need to borrow anything.

              • Richie says:

                No you just plagiarize them.

              • MamMoTh says:

                No way! And I bet you don’t wanna know what I did to your sister?

              • Major_Freedom says:

                “I made it mine.”

              • MamMoTh says:

                it? how rude! so you know her?

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Wasn’t referring to your comment.

              • MamMoTh says:

                Come on MF, you should apologize.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                All I can say is that at least we know with complete certainty that Mammy’s aim isn’t for other people to take him seriously.

                Has he made a few good points in the past? Certainly. Has he gotten a few people tripped up? Yeah, I’ll give him that one. However, if you look at his past statements, you’ll find a great preponderance of accusatory, insulting, contradictory, and/or rude statements. His response when called out on this is to push it out even harder.

                He’s a person that is always digging a hole for himself, yet rather than get out of the hole, he keeps shoveling dirt in and out of the hole in a haphazard fashion, all the while hoping to find level ground.

                My opinion is that he only gets deeper and deeper as time passes along; so much so that he’ll be lying with his pre-historic ancestors’ bones before very long.

                If you think about it in this way, he could not have chosen a more apt name to describe himself.

              • Richie says:

                “No way! And I bet you don’t wanna know what I did to your sister?”

                She already told me. She said you stole your poor performance from someone else. She was very disappointed.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            While we’re on this topic…

            My elderly aunt died in December and I volunteered to adopt her cat. I assumed the cat was dumb, smelly and mangy because the aunt’s apartment smelled like a cat box. I’m delighted to say that the cat is beautiful, clean, friendly and smart. She’s so smart, it turns out that she knows probably 500 times as much Austrian economics as Mammouth, Krugman, DeLong and AP Lerner combined.

            • MamMoTh says:

              She’s so smart she can’t say the same thing about you.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Well, if you aren‘t the sharpest knife in the drawer I hate having to explain my jokes, but here goes.

                0 x 500 = 0

                No wonder you can’t comprehend that one does not need data to know that the concept of Cantillon Effects is true.

              • MamMoTh says:

                Thank you Roddis for proving once again that your are as thick as my dick. a brick

                (I know your knowledge of maths does not go beyond multiples of 0, and that you find funny making the same bad joke twice.)

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Anyone else notice that since Mammy has been exposed as a plagiarist, his posts have resorted to immature schoolyard taunts?

                Hey, maybe that’s why he found himself having to plagiarize Warren Mosler. It’s the only way he could be taken somewhat seriously. If he went by his own merits, he’d…well he’d be doing what he’s doing now and showing his true self: a sad, ignorant, immature poseur.

                Sad, ignorant, immature response in 3, 2, 1…

    • Silas Barta says:

      One thing I’ve never understood is, “Preferences are intesubjectively incomparable. Jesus suffered really bad for our sins.”

      Want to cover that on a Sunday post, Bob?

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Silas I’m not even seeing the apparent contradiction there. If I said, “Jesus suffered more for me than I ever did for Him,” then you could at least accuse me of speaking in pop psychology and not praxeology (and you’d be right). But I don’t even see what the surface problem is, in your quote.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Speaking of apparent but really not contradictions:

          Look what I just stumbled upon.

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            Yes, that is a little strange. However, I am an agnostic atheist and I personally think that Jesus would have been a pretty cool dude to chill with. I’d break bread with the ‘ol Jesus.

        • Silas Barta says:

          Define the difference between suffering and suffering “really bad” without intersubjective comparisons.

          Yes, I might not be getting the phrasing right, but a lot of Christian apologetics is based around how much *worse* Jesus had to suffer than the rest of us. A praxeologist has to say, “It is meaningless to say that Jesus suffered more or less than any other person. His sacrifice would mean just as much if it were a dust speck in his eye.”

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Oh OK, that’s fine. I wasn’t trying to be evasive, I just wasn’t sure what you were getting at.

            Yeah I agree praxeology doesn’t allow us to talk like this. All we could say is, “Jesus got more utility from going to the cross than from not going,” “He preferred to ask His Father to let that cup pass from Him, if at all possible, rather than not asking God that question,” etc.

            I don’t think praxeology is the source of all human knowledge. If you want to say I was being too harsh on that economist (his name escapes me at the moment) about “does a rich man value a dollar less than a poor man?” OK, but my main point there was that a lot of people had been explicitly taught to say the answer he thought was “obviously” wrong. I didn’t care about the answer per se, but rather that he thought it was so clearly one answer vs. another.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              “All we could say is, “Jesus got more utility from going to the cross than from not going,”

              If Jesus believed himself to be the son of God, and knew that he would be betrayed, captured, crucified, etc, then he couldn’t choose not to go, because God put him there, and Jesus knew it, so I’m not sure you can say that you know he got more utility from going than he would have gotten from not going. Not going wasn’t even an option, both in reality and in his mind.

              It would be like me saying I get more utility in existence than I would in non-existence.

              I think inferring that a person got a higher utility from doing what they are doing rather than doing something else, requires putting the teleological power on that person, and not some entity with a bird’s eye view power (God).

              • Bob Murphy says:

                I don’t know what you’re talking about MF, except that you seem to want to argue anything coming out of my keyboard having to do with Christianity. Christians believe that Jesus voluntarily chose to obey God’s will. Jesus freely gave up His life for us. He had a choice.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                “I don’t know what you’re talking about MF, except that you seem to want to argue anything coming out of my keyboard having to do with Christianity.”

                What I am talking about is that Jesus couldn’t have chosen to do what he did if God planned it.

                Sorry if you feel like your posts on Christianity are always being antagonized, but you’re putting them out there to be read and responded to.

                After 250,000 years of persecution of atheists, I am not going to feel sorry for any Christian in 2012 who feels offended that their religious declarations aren’t as “respected” as they want them to be.

                “Christians believe that Jesus voluntarily chose to obey God’s will. Jesus freely gave up His life for us. He had a choice.”

                I agree Christians believe in the contradiction that God, not the individual, has the power of choosing what they do, and that the individual, not God, has the power of choosing what they do.

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        Silas, you are attempting to combine economics and faith here.

        Let me ask: Does Austrian economics entirely allow for belief to drive preferences? Can an Austrian economist subscribe to a faith without involving such faith in the contemplations of praxeology? Is an economist that is atheist more competent than an economist that is Christian?

        Essentially, what you’re saying is either: Austrian methodology is compromised by faith, that faith is compromised by Austrian methodology, or a combination of both.

        • Silas Barta says:

          It’s certainly possible for people to form preferences based on totally invalid reasoning, which I believe is what’s going on any time someone has a preference which, in the absence of believing Jesus had “really bad” suffering, would be the opposite preference.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        I can identify whether or not you suffer, without comparing our preferences.

        • Silas Barta says:

          No, you can just say whether I appear to be yelling “Oh God that hurts!”; how can you possibly know whether it’s “suffering” or just “me liking to yell ‘Oh God that hurts!’ in a way that looks like suffering”?

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Silas, I don’t think anyone can, or should, act according to that dictum.

            If you are stabbed, and you yell out “I’m in pain!”, would you prefer that others around you suffer from the “illusion” that they can somehow know you are you in pain and then help you “as if” they know, or would you rather have them not suffer from any such silly illusions, and then refuse to help you because they don’t know if you’re actually in pain or not, and they will only help you if they know you are in pain?

            Or how about this: what if you’re just sitting on a park bench minding your own business, when all of a sudden, someone approaches you and grabs you, forcefully shoves you into their car, then they start driving. Naturally, you ask “What the heck is going on?”, and they tell you “I suspect you’re in tremendous pain and so I’m taking you to a doctor.” How can you convince them to let you go if, like you said, there is nothing you can say that they can know for sure one way or the other? Would you rather them suffer from the “illusion” of knowing you are not in pain, or would you rather them think that they can’t know for sure and so they will drive you anyway just to be sure?

            What if you tell them that they are violating your individual rights, your libertarian rights, and then they say “How do we know if you are REALLY having your rights violated? After all, you could just LIKE to say “My rights are being violated! You are violating my rights!”, and we wouldn’t know for sure.”

            What if they let you go, and you call the cops, and then the cops say “Are you serious? Or do you just LIKE to call the cops and pretend you were violated? How can we know for sure?”

            At which point in all this would you rather have people around you suffer from the “illusion” that you are saying what you really think and feel? Right away? Why not only once people are absolutely sure, which according to you means never?

  3. Jarrett Cooper says:

    The Verizon costumer was more patient than I could ever be. The manager told the costumer that it was a matter of differing opinions. That’s probably where I would’ve lost it. Cents ≠ dollars.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Yes, he was somewhat patient, he just wasn’t very effective at getting his point across. If it were me, I would have eventually asked for an email address where I could send them a visual representation of my position. Being the jerk that I am, I would have pulled out the dry-erase board and a big ass marker and made a video of me drawing it out a la ‘Picture Pages’ (with those little beeps/blips and all).

  4. Tom says:

    “I’m a crypto-anarchic small-L left libertarian Republican.”
    “Savings? See this gold filling…?”
    “I encrypt my cat photos with three-stage DES.”

    Ohhhhhh….so funny.

    • Tom says:

      In case you guys didn’t read it, the above statements are supposed to be, “Shit Libertarians Say.”

      And yes, we say those things all the time. In fact, I’ve gone through even proxies just to post this response.

      • Tom says:

        even=seven in libertarianism.

  5. Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

    I just wasted 5 minutes of my life reading through this comments section. I guess I was a little amused.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Sorry that we couldn’t live up to your expectations.

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    Mammouth’s appearance makes this an MMT post. In case anyone doubted that the MMTers are a bunch of commies, here’s Mike Norman blogger Tom Hickey informing us of the wonders of Marx (I just listened to Tom Woods interview Soviet defector Yuri Maltsev, so I’m REALLY in the mood for someone who likes Marx).:

    Moreover, as long as labor is commodified, the Hegelian master-slave relationship persists, with in Hegel’s words, “only one free.” And, of course, masters do what it takes to keep it that way by keeping the slaves in line with carrots and sticks. Commodified labor is just an variation on this relationship, as Marx explained in criticism of the classical economics of Smith and Ricardo.

    Then, Mike Norman blogger Matt Franko chimes in:

    It’s like these Rockwell types don’t understand these processes so they make regulation of them “taboo”, and instead advocate for “freedom” because they cannot understand the processes and systems that others advocate for the regulation of.

    Its like he’s a “witch doctor” or something if you can see what I mean; a primitive leader of primitives who cannot begin to understand something so they make it “taboo”.

    Education may be the best way to counter this but the Rockwells of the world have to be willing to really bear down intellectually and learn something new…


    This is a marvelous demonstration of our opponents’ brain power.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Reading that was like full-face bukake with HIV sprinkles; the level of human intelligence in that response was far below anything I have studied since the early 20th century scientific socialists.

      It seems that Tom Hickey took a giant leap toward irrationality and a small step toward the scourge of man. All the while, he completely ignored all of the history of economic thought: the conclusions of which annihilated almost the entirety of his intellectual position.

      I feel like I am in a retarded time machine, all of the sudden.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        I think we can, at the very least, say that they have no familiarity with basic Austrian School concepts or even basic libertarian private property or NAP concepts. They don’t seem to know that the “progressive” vision was invented by the elite to control the mundanes. Or that with private property protections enhanced and enforced for all people and arbitrary political power curtailed or eliminated that the elite would be emasculated etc…

        Which is all par for the course when dealing with “progressives” who want to control the rest of humanity because of their very special genius and insight.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Guys I think it’s time to move on. I have been deleting posts like crazy. When it turns into discussions about other people’s sisters, we’ve left the realm of economics.

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        You’re a day late, Bob. Haha!

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          I should say that I hope that you have not had to delete any of my comments. I guess that I kind of “pushed it” above, but I certainly was not trying to put you in a position of the censor, I was just spitting words out the only way that I know.

          I am just a humble simpleton…

      • MamMoTh says:

        Most sisters have a nice pair of coconuts. If not, they can buy them. And the rest of us target our human action towards grabbing them. Sisters are economics at its best.

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