20 Mar 2014


Potpourri 40 Comments

==> Salim Furth does a good job showing something pretty screwy with one of Krugman’s favorite scatter plots.

==> David Stockman has a new blog, I just learned.

==> At first I thought Pete Boettke was wrong in this analysis, but then I realize he’s right (in terms of his particular point): Even though there are an unfathomable number of “possible states” in which the chess board can (legally) be, there are way more possible states of the soccer field or basketball court, perhaps even rendering the concept nonsensical. On the other hand, there is an obvious sense in which computers (embedded in robots) will one day in the not too distant future obviously be able to beat human athletes in these standard sports.

==> In this new analysis for the Fraser Institute, some colleagues and I show that Ontario has a much larger government debt than the state of California.

==> More atheist bashing from Gene Callahan.

==> In a moment of weakness, I clicked on a BuzzFeed link in my Facebook feed, but this is actually pretty cool.

40 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Major_Freedom says:

    “It’s hard to see why anyone would invent the idea of a crucified Messiah and create these problems.”

    Argument from ignorance.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      No, argument from implausibility. Inference to the best explanation.

      E.g., the best explanation for stories about Julius Caesar being assassinated in 44 BC is that he WAS assassinated then.

      And given there is NO evidence that someone made up this crucifixion story, rather than that there really was a guy who was crucified, why should anyone even be *trying* to invent unlikely stories as to why someone made it up?

      Again: this was an ATHEIST historian looking at this evidence, with no “horse in the race.” And, as he notes, there are virtually no serious, atheist historians of this period who doubt this happened.

      • Ken B says:

        Ehrman’s latest dispatched this nonsense. It is frankly silly to deny there was a religious leader named some variant of Jesus who was offed by the Romans in typical fashion. We know of several.

        The Jesus denialist are the praxeologists of ancient history: committed to a cherished position in the teeth of evidence. And funny.

        • Tel says:

          You can very easily determine the real Jesus simply by picking the guy with blue eyes who looks like a hippie. I mean just grab some guy and ask him to draw Jesus.

          The most likely explanation is that Jesus always did look like that…

        • Harold says:

          I don’t see this as “atheist bashing”. Belief that a historical figure called Jesus who was crucified is not incompatible with atheism. I believe Mohammed and Buddha existed also.

        • Enopoletus Harding says:

          The Jesus denialist are the praxeologists of ancient history: committed to a cherished position in the teeth of evidence.

          -Just like some Austrians are better scholars than others, some Jesus non-historicity proponents are better researchers than others. The best are Carrier, Godfrey, and Doherty.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Ken B,

          I see you are stil conflating praxeology with thymology.

          Praxeology only deals with logical deduced categories of action.

          Thymology deals with actual choices and actions and motivations of people.

          Also, which praxeological arguments are you claiming are in the “teeth of evidence”, and why do you still mistakenly believe that the form of action as such can be refuted or falsified by the content of it?

          If you want to take jabs at praxeology, at least understand what it is first.

          • Keshav Srinivasan says:

            So Major_Freedom, do the things that you call economic laws, like “binding minimum wage laws cause involuntary unemployment”, count as results of praxeology or results of thymology?

            • Ken B says:

              Parseltology, sageology, or rosemaryology?

              • Bala says:


      • Tel says:

        Same for Zeus, most likely reason the stories are so consistent is that there really was a grumpy old man on Mt Olympus tossing bolts of lightning down at people.

        It’s not like a whole bunch of Greeks are going to coincidentally get together and rehearse their made up stories every four years.

        • Ken B says:

          You are confusing the implausible claim that he was a god with the plausible claim he was a guy.
          The denialists make a radical claim: that there was no guy at all. They give as evidence really nothing but the absurdity of some of the stories about him. This is like claiming Lincoln never existed because of the absurd things Tom Woods says about him.

          Much more plausible: there was a guy and then legends accreted.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            I’ve always wondered if humans in the distant future would uncover some comic books from the ruins of New York and conclude that 20th century Americans totally thought Spider-Man was real.

            Maybe future professors will major in “American mythology” and show The Avengers during class while students meticulously analyze the themes of the individual versus the collective as symbolized by Iron Man’s battle with Dr. Doom.

            • Ken B says:

              I wish I found this implausible.

              • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

                Of course, the other idea worthy of consideration is whether we’re attributing beliefs to distant civilizations that they never actually had.

                Perhaps the Ancient Greeks didn’t really “believe” in Zeus any more than we “believe” in Spider-Man. Perhaps their myths were for the purposes of entertainment and a shared cultural tradition rather than a genuine religious expression. How do we know?

              • Harold says:

                “while students meticulously analyze the themes of the individual versus the collective as symbolized by Iron Man’s battle with Dr. Doom.”

                See http://www.academia.edu/1805602/Iron_Man_A_Study_in_Orientalism_and_Hegemony

              • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

                Well yeah, Harold. I know stuff like that already exists. I just mean that it will generally be taken more seriously.

                Like, right now if you take a college course where you watch and analyze modern movies, people generally understand that this is essentially a waste of time and most serious people dismiss it.

                But someone who majors in “Greek Mythology” generally gets a certain amount of respect or reverence. If you know everything about Zeus you’re considered well educated, if you know everything about Wolverine, you’re considered a nerd. I’m positing the existence of a future where knowledge of Spider-Man will be considered the intellectual equal of knowledge of Zeus or MacBeth or what have you.

              • guest says:

                Perhaps the Ancient Greeks didn’t really “believe” in Zeus any more than we “believe” in Spider-Man.

                What if C-A-T really spelled “dog”?

                (No need to reply; I’ve got this: “+1”)

              • Gamble says:

                Yes but do to Fed Fiat, we really need to learn about this poor sucker.

            • Mustela putorius says:

              I have had similar musings about Mt. Rushmore

          • Tel says:

            No I’m not, Gene Callahan argued that if there’s a well known story and lots of people believe it, then the best explanation is that this story is true.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Actually the denialist claim is that there is no good evidence that Jesus existed.

            Whether they are right or wrong about that is a different story.

      • Ken B says:

        “the best explanation for stories about Julius Caesar being assassinated in 44 BC is that he WAS assassinated then.”

        Actually I gotta differ here. This is the result of the work of the trilateral commission inserting references to this mythical roman ‘Caesar’ into old books, statuary, and paintings, and even cunningly editing old movies, to make it seem like ‘render unto Caesar’ seem like an anti-anarchist message in the bible, when really the passage refers to the 13th apostle, whose coin that was because he homesteaded it. He’s been suppressed by the same dark forces.

        • Gamble says:

          Any clear thinking Christians knows NONE of it is caesars therefor no rendering necessary…

          • Keshav Srinivasan says:

            Then why did Jesus ask whose face was on the coin?

      • Enopoletus Harding says:

        there is NO evidence that someone made up this crucifixion story,

        -There is indirect evidence. Paul never indicates that Jesus was known by any human before his death. By far the best blog countering scholarly arguments for Jesus’s historicity is Vridar.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        It’s both.

        “I have no evidence that Jesus was crucified” is the reason he is depending on the notion that it is implausible people would make those stories up. He doesn’t have evidence, so he is insisting the stories must be true.

  2. Bob Roddis says:

    I love David Stockman’s blog. I can now just quote him without personally violating the “be nice to the Keynesians” rule.

    In the case of progressive Democrats, the betrayal is even more insidious. Hooked on the non-sensical Keynesian doctrine that borrowing is good and saving is bad, the so-called progressives have been a sucker for the Fed’s regime of lower interest rates, forever longer. That this regime leads to financial repression and preposterously low “cap rates” throughout financial markets seems to escape their grasp entirely; and that rock-bottom cap rates cause drastic over-valuation of financial assets and massive windfalls to the capital owning speculative classes—does not even remotely register.

    By the 2012 election this bipartisan farce had reached an extreme. Obama ran against the 1% even though the Fed, now packed with money printers he had appointed, showered the upper strata with the greatest unearned windfall in recorded history. Worse still, his opponent was a certified member of the 1%—yet didn’t have a clue as to how he got there.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Stockman didn’t get the memo that Krugman’s explanation for why permanent inflation is justified, is that sometimes inflation is a good idea.

      Because something something logic.

      • Enopoletus Harding says:

        I guess Krugman intends perpetual inflation to reduce real debt burdens.

        • Gamble says:

          Oh yes. I have been told this several times. Not by Krugman but by street level statist.

          Finance everything for as long as possible because the debt will be near zero relative to overall budget, eventually.

          Then I reminded them how much more the new rood will cost, paint, etc, etc. Then remind show them what a 3% salary increase look like after 10 years.

          All the sudden they shift into either dumb and or aggressive mode…

          • Gamble says:

            New roof not rood.Auto correct or whatever it is that changes and adds words, stinks.

            Show them 3% annual increase.

            If you earn 24,000 now and achieve a 3% annual increase every year for 20 years, you will only be earning 43,000 in the year 2034. Hope that 19,000 matches inflation or all the debt in the world will not save you…

    • Gamble says:

      Bob Roddis wrote:”I love David Stockman’s blog”

      I also like Stockman’s blog however I think his Book The Great Deformation is the real jewel. That book maybe be wordy but there is no modern book as hard hitting and detailed as this. The book may come across long or dry but if you have the time to really sit down and digest even a small portion, Stockman is like a linguistic Samurai , err, Ninja…

      I think since Stockman was an insider, he has a special insight and talent that not many others have. Once you see the machine from the inside, it will change you forever unless you totally sale your soul. Stockman I some of the few who made it out and now he is dangerous.

      His book , in 30 years, if we are still here, will be regarded as 1 of the greats…

      • Bob Roddis says:

        I just received Stockman’s book this week and the factual detail is amazing coupled with Stockman’s general Austrian analysis –especially explaining how funny money is used for wealth transfers and how it results on horrible mis-pricing which is subsequently maintained through additional funny money emissions and wealth transfers.

  3. Enopoletus Harding says:

    You can’t hum while holding your nose.

    -Yeah, you can; it’s just more difficult.

  4. andrew' says:

    Someone brought up Lincoln.

    Industrial agriculture.

    That is game, set, match. Thanks for playing.

  5. guest says:

    Keshav Srinivasan brought up Minimum Wages, so I want to show this:

    Excluding Inferior Workers: Eugenic Influences On Economic Reform In The Progressive Era
    by Tim Leonard

    Slide 44
    VIII. The Eugenic Benefits of Minimum-Wage Laws

    Minimum-wage legislation, passed by several states beginning with Massachusetts in 1912, was the sine qua non of progressive labor reform, and progressive economists championed minimum wages.

    But eugenically minded progressives advocated minimum wages precisely because binding minimums would cause job losses.

    They argued that minimum-wage-induced job loss was a social benefit because it performed the eugenic service of ridding the labor force of the “unemployable.”

    Sidney and Beatrice Webb, as ever, put it plainly: “With regard to certain sections of the population [the unemployable], this unemployment is not a mark of social disease, but actually of social health.” “[O]f all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites,” Sidney Webb opined, “the most ruinous to the community is to allow them unrestrainedly to compete as wage earners . . . .”

    Slide 45
    VIII. The Eugenic Benefits of Minimum-Wage Laws (2)

    Henry Rogers Seager leading progressive economist, argued that deserving workers needed protection from the “wearing competition of the casual worker and the drifter” and from the other “defectives” who drag down the wages of more deserving workers.

    Seager made clear what should happen to those who, even after remedial training, could not earn the legal minimum: “If we are to maintain a race that is to be made of up of capable, efficient and independent individuals and family groups we must courageously cut off lines of heredity that have been proved to be undesirable by isolation or sterilization . . . .”

    A.B. Wolfe, an American progressive economist and future AEA president, also argued for the eugenic virtues of removing from employment those who are “a burden on society.” “If the inefficient entrepreneurs would be eliminated [by minimum wages,] so would the ineffective workers,” said Wolfe. “I am not disposed to waste much sympathy upon either class. The elimination of the inefficient is in line with our traditional emphasis on free competition, and also with the spirit and trend of modern social economics.”

    Slide 46
    VIII. The Eugenic Benefits of Minimum-Wage Laws (3)

    For economic progressives, a minimum wage, which is a wage floor, had the useful property of segregating the unfit, who would lose their jobs, from the deserving workers, who would not.

    Royal Meeker, a Princeton economist who served as Woodrow Wilson’s Commissioner of Labor, opposed subsidies of poor workers’ wages because wage subsidies increase employment. “It is much better to enact a minimum-wage law, even if it deprives these unfortunates of work,” argued Meeker.

    Labor Commissioner Meeker argued, “Better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth after their kind.”

    As with immigration restriction, the minimum-wage barrier was seen to meet the two-fold threat of inferior workers: it protected deserving workers’ wages by reducing the competition of inferior groups, and it identified (by disemploying) inferior groups, enabling eugenic treatment.

    Slide 47
    VIII. The Eugenic Benefits of Minimum-Wage Laws (4)

    The Webbs: a minimum would mark “out [weaklings and degenerates] . . . so that they could be isolated and properly treated.”

    Sidney Ball, another Fabian, likewise promoted minimum wages for enabling “a process of conscious social selection by which the industrial residuum is naturally sifted and made manageable for some kind of restorative, disciplinary, or, it may be, surgical treatment.”

    Felix Frankfurter, then the AALL’s legal counsel, found that the culling effects of minimum-wage laws helped buttress his legal defense of minimum wages. Instancing the police-power virtues of minimum wages for identifying (by disemployment) the class of the unemployable, Frankfurter argued that “[t]he state . . . may use means, like the present statute, of sorting the normal self-supporting workers from the unemployables and then deal with the latter appropriately as a special class . . . .”

    • Bob Roddis says:

      What an outstanding find!

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