Friday, June 26, 2009

My New Op-Ed on Education

I have a new op-ed in the Dallas Morning News on education. In it I propose that not everyone should go to college, and that an academic education isn't for everyone. Should be fun to see the fallout to this one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kropotkin and Obama

In "The Conquest of Bread," anarcho-communist Petr Kropotkin, argued that one positive development in the right direction would be: "Trade-unionism, with a growing tendency towards organizing the different trades internationally, and of being not only an instrument for the improvement of the conditions of labour, but also of becoming an organization which might, at a given moment, take into its hands the management of production". Much like what Obama did with GM and Chrysler. Kropotkin admits "Of course, none of these may, in any degree, be taken as a substitute for Communism, or even for Socialism," but that such would be a move in the right direction.

What I have read by Kropotkin so far shows him to have some very rose-colored glasses when it comes to his pro-socialist understanding of both human nature and history. And it's downright laughable after you're read Hayek's takedown of economic planning.

Complex Systems -- Healthy and Unhealthy

Here is an article that makes an interesting argument: that there may be things too complex to exist. I'm not so sure about that. However, that does not mean the author does not have some valid points. At the same time, he misses the main point, which is that the problem may not be that of being too complex, but of the system being improperly structured.

We have seen the issue of "too big to fail" raised in this current depression. The response has been to keep the big guys afloat and create a situation where even more companies will get even larger from absorbing many more small ones. This will only exacerbate the problem in the future. In fact, if we continue to push for ever-larger, ever-fewer companies in the world, we should expect a truly catastrophic collapse in the near future. The author generally agrees with this assessment, and pushed for smaller firms. However, the answer isn't just smaller firms for the sake of smaller firms. A healthy economy is a healthy self-organizing system, and systems self-organize when they obey power law distributions. In other words, big companies per se aren't necessarily the problem -- the number of big companies is the problem. In a healthy economy, one would expect firm size to be on a power law distribution. The second largest employer should be half the size of the largest employer, the third largest a third of its size, etc. More, there should be very few large employers, a medium number of medium-sized ones, and many, many small companies. The same should also be true of profits -- or whatever measure you want to use. We can take a look at the auto industry as an example of an unhealthy industry -- in the U.S. there are three companies, the Big Three, and that is all. Talk about improper distribution! If the government were going to intervene, they should have broken GM and Chrysler into smaller companies based on model. That would have gone a long way to creating a power law distribution of car companies in this country. More, it would open up the industry so that new companies could actually come into existence. The lack of new companies for this many decades now shows how unhealthy the industry has been for a long time. The presence of many companies doing the same thing also creates redundancy, which is also an indication of a healthy natural system. The socialist/engineering attitude or removing redundancy actually creates the kind of situation we are in. This is one of the main problems of monopoly -- whether private or government. With high redundancy, you don't end up with catastrophic failure, because there are so many other pathways information can follow. The problem, then, is bottlenecks, which should always be avoided in a self-organizing system. Regulations too often create bottlenecks. We need to find those that do, and get rid of them.

The bottom line is that the author is wrong insofar as he is arguing that our economy is too complex. It's not. It's unhealthy. Primarily because of legislation and regulations which create bottlenecks, give false information, prevent knowledge, and favor the creation of megacorporations. WIth the right rules, one will get a healthy system of very, very high complexity.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Kind of Reform Would This Bring?

Here's an idea for a petition that would see just how keen Congress members become about government-run health care:

“I, the undersigned citizen of the United States of America, petition the U.S. Congress to pass legislation ensuring that both the President and Congress will receive only the worst care that any government-provided health care and insurance provides, to ensure that the citizens will receive only the best overall system of care and insurance.”

I think there should be a law that states that all laws must apply equally to everyone, including those in government. I think this is a way of actually ensuring that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Few Addenda to Diaphysics

Energy self-organized into atoms. Atoms self-organized into molecules. Organic molecules self-organized into cells. Cells self-organized into organisms. Organisms self-organized into ecosystems. Neurons self-organized into minds. Humans self-organized into democratic governments, economies, societies, and cultures. Order and complexity comes about in nature from the bottom-up, through self-organization, changing over time through evolutionary processes.

What do you not see? Top-down organization. There is no orderer needed to get any of these things. More, the evidence strongly suggests that an orderer only interferes with the spontaneous orders. Thus, disrupted, they break down and can even die.

Those who believe in creationism believe in top-down organization of the universe.

Those who believe in intelligent design believe in top-down organization of life.

Those who believe in a soul that exists prior to the existence of the body believe in top-down organization of the mind/soul.

Those who believe in socialism (no matter what kind) believe in top-down organization of the government, economy, society, and culture.

In other words, there is no actual difference between a creationist and a socialist when it comes to understanding the fundamental nature of things. You cannot pick and choose which things you want to be spontaneous orders.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Diaphysics Available!

Well, Diaphysics is now officially out. Everyone should now drop everything they are doing and go out and buy copies for themselves and everyone they know!

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Capitalism In Our Schools

In an article on the recent decision in New York to pay students for making good grades, Glenn Beck argues this is a bad idea. To be honest, I once thought this was a bad idea, but I have changed my mind about it, at least when it comes to payment for good grades (I still agree with myself on paying for tutoring). Beck's main argument is that we shouldn't be paying students because free education is a gift. If only things were that simple. I happen to think education is a gift -- but only when it is free to take it or leave it. We thus shouldn't be paying college students to make good grades, for example. But with pre-college public education, people are forced by law to be there. For people like me, this isn't an issue, because I loved learning. However, I know plenty of people who think of the gift of education as a gift of a rattlesnake. Worse, there is someone there with a shotgun telling you that if you don't take the rattlesnake, they will shoot you in the head. An extreme analogy, perhaps, but I think it makes the point. For such students, some sort of incentive is absolutely necessary. Money works. More, contra Beck's belief, it will in fact teach students to appreciate capitalism more, as they will learn about earning money -- something too many young people know nothing about. Thus, it really is analogous to giving your children an allowance -- something I will certainly be doing with my child. All in all, Stu is right, and Beck is wrong on this.

In the end, society is better off with an educated populace. If this will do it, let's do it. If it applies to everyone, there's not a problem. You would be surprised at how rapidly sutdent IQ's will rise when they have incentives to learn. Also, it would be a nice way to get back a little tax money.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Leftist Extremist Attacks Holocaust Museum

Naturally, the Left in this country is blaming conservatives for the attack this week on the Holocaust Museum. But there is a problem with this. The man who did it is a racist and, more, a Nazi. Now, racism is a kind of collectivism. And Nazis are National Socialists, and socialism is also a form of collectivism. The distinguishing feature of the Left is their collectivism -- in particular, they are socialists. So really, we should be blaming the far Left for the attack on the Holocaust Museum, as fascism is the natural result of socialism, and racism is a form of collectivism. The Right? Well, American conservatives really aren't on the Right. At least, not fully so. Economically, at least, many are classical liberals (too many are Keynesians, which pushes them toward the "center"). The Right were histprically royalists, and there aren't many of them in the U.S. Except on the Left, that is. So let us be honest and truthful about this incident: it was an attack perpetuated by someone on the racist far Left. That IS the definition of a Nazi, after all.

Barney Frank Is an Idiot

Why do we have to be inflicted with the embarrassment that is Barney Frank by MA? Seriously. That moronic idiot (and I use these terms in the original Greek sense)is now demanding the federal government engage in wage controls because he claims that that is what caused this depression. Of course, anyone who knows anything about political economy knows it is primarily everything Frank ever supported in the realm of economics that caused this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On the Road (to Serfdom)

It's been a crazy week and a half. Last week, my wife's grandfather died, and we had to run down the the Valley to attend his funeral. He was buried Thursday, and Friday we left to drive to CA. Right now I am in Hermosa Beach, CA at a Liberty Fund colloquium on Hayek. Been very interesting so far. Especially with the way I've been thinking of using the idea of spontaneous order to explain artistic production. I've been encouraged to think about how to bring Hayekian ideas to life in literature. How to demonstrate the idea of spontaneous order in a play?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009