Starving the Beast aka Drowning the People in the Bathwater. Seattle Bridge Edition.
The intellectual equivalent of medieval bloodletting: “We’ll just drain out the bad blood!“
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.
The intellectual equivalent of medieval bloodletting: “We’ll just drain out the bad blood!“
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.
but you see how this will work out. the state will say it can’t afford to pay the pensions of the workers it promised them in return for lower pay.
because it needs the money for bridge maintenance… by low wage workers. because, god knows, we can’t raise taxes. it would be bad for “the economy.”
most of our infrastructure is 50 years old or older…none of it will last forever…
someday we’ll wake up and realize we’re living in a third world country..
Starving the beast is cheaper than the alternatives: secession, revolution, and civil war.
Conservatives simply prefer one set of externalities and progressives another.
That the difference in these preferences is eugenic vs dysgenic albeit stated in morslistic language is the only topic worth debating.
And in that debate, i am fairly sure conservatives are correct.
guess you can always find a few luddites who think we’d be better off if we hadnt built the interstates…
@Curt Doolittle: “Starving the beast is cheaper than the alternatives: secession, revolution, and civil war.”
1. Not sure what you mean by “cheaper.” See SRW on accounting profit vs economic profit:
2. An interesting tradeoff you’re suggesting You’re saying that if we increase government revenues (currently the lowest in the developed world, and far below the average) by a couple or few points, the result will be “secession, revolution, and civil war”?
“i am fairly sure conservatives are correct”
Chicken Little was undoubtedly correct as well.
perhaps you should do less, or say less.
i have to guess that by eugenic vs dysgenic, and moralistic, you are trying to say that helping people stay alive weakens the gene pool.
that topic is not worth debating. if for no other reason than your complete failure to understand Darwin, and the history of “eugenic” thinking, including that which inspired the late Adolf Hitler.
if, that is, it’s okay for me to mention Hitler in this context.
Explanation: One of my interests is understanding ideological strategies, ideological arguments, the moral sentiments that drive those arguments, and comparing those sentiments to reproductive strategies. Net is that family structure, or rather, reproductive model, increases in diversity as we become economically independent individuals. Our ‘interests’ diverge as the tribe, family, nuclear family dissolve – the distribution of our morality therefore does not remain constant. This change is what we see in voting patterns. (It’s why single women determine the current election cycle – all other things being equal.) Men don’t change, but women increasingly express their natural reproductive strategies in daily life, and their biases in voting patterns. And they vote more often and in greater percentages than males.
I understand conservative morality, ideology, and reproductive strategy (status signaling, mating, child rearing). And as such I try to explain to the moderate left that wants to understand the other side’s motivations, how the conservatives think, but in rational terms (libertarian terms) rather than the allegorical, historical, and morally loaded terms used by conservatives.
RE: 1) It’s not a matter of calculating profit, but of born losses. 🙂 From the conservative point of view the cost, to them, of progressive ideas is infinite. Starving (bankrupting) the beast is the cheapest way for them to fight it. Just as incrementalism, undermining the constitution, and most recently, postmodern ideology (liberal philosophy) are inexpensive means of accomplishing political goals of the left.
To conduct a war over the definition of the distribution of property rights between the individual (the right) and the commons (the left) and the structure and value of signals, one can use ideology, religion, civil resistance and disobedience, immigration and emigration, secession, revolution, and civil war to achieve one’s ends. And in that sequence, ideology is the least expensive strategy and it’s available within a democracy without the need for escalation. Conservatives understood in the 70’s and 80’s that the assault on the family, on morality, and on meritocracy would win, and that is why they developed the think tank network and adopted libertarian economic ideology. The tea party is the middle class equivalent resistance movement, and interestingly makes use of both conservative, classical liberal and libertarian ideas.
RE: 2) I’m saying that (a) the conservative strategy is to bankrupt and block and therefore delegitimize the state. ‘State’ and ‘government’ being technical terms – the first corporal, the second organizational. (b) That religion is the oldest means of determining the limits of governance, and that the right, especially outside of the coastal immigrant cities, embraces religion and moral argument as a means of opposition to the attack on the family, the status signals, and the ability to use boycotting and ostracization to sustain their expected norms. On the left, the Liberal ideology of postmodernism is expressly contra-logical in an effort to use the strategy of monotheistic religions using false statements about the nature of man instead of false statements about man’s relation to nature. It is an attempt to use religious strategies in an effort to compensate for the failure of socialism in theory and practice. It is just as absurd as the right’s strategy. But both right and left are more influential than we empiricists, because they speak in moral language accessible to the many. Policy is not made by empirical analysis of a supposed common good. Anything but.
The point is, that both left and right strategies WORK because of the distribution of talents of individuals and the distribution of their interests, and those of us who make intellectual arguments, for the benefit of a population with an assumed homogeneity of interests, fail to understand that at the reproductive level, and therefore the moral level, there is no homogeneity of interest between these groups once the nuclear family is sufficiently weakened and the mores and norms associated with that nuclear family also weakened.
Data is data. Voting data at the national level (which is what campaign strategy makes use of) is the only empirical data we have to work with and that data is telling us some very uncomfortable things – there is no ‘we’ in the normative sense, only a ‘we’ in the legal sense.
You do realize that your comment translates to a postmodernist raspberry?
Whether you like something or not is not relevant. Whether you want to engage it or not is not relevant. Displaying your disapproval and disengagement is not an argument. It is the very definition of failing to make one.
I take great pride in never fearing or surrendering an argument. On the other hand your reputation as a troll is well earned, and my time is precious.
I’ll agree to ignore you if you’ll do the same.
if you don’t want a raspberry you need to be a little more careful how you say things. your reply to steve roth above merits a little more nuanced answer than the one i gave you.
i am afraid it will come to the same thing in the end, intellectual pretension notwithstanding.
i am afraid your definition of troll doesn’t quite meet the situation either. but like you i don’t have time at the moment to “debate.”
Thanks. Although I suspect that you confuse the rigor of analytical language in expressing causal relations with pretension, and absence of rigor in morally loaded language as something other than the lack of articulated causal relation – and therefore a lack of comprehension. 🙂
Analytical philosophy: It’s how the discipline is done.
As to “The same thing”…. that is, I assume, whether there is a transfer of reproductive frequency from the middle to the lower classes, and the requisite impact on normative, political, legal institutions, and consequential economic impact. I’ll leave it to Flynn et al to argue whether the Flynn effect (omnipresent scientific language and measurement) compensates for the drop in mean IQ. So far, it is beginning to look like it doesn’t. But the jury is still out.
But then, I”m not making moral statements. Just descriptive ones. 🙂
@Curt: “But then, I”m not making moral statements. Just descriptive ones. :)”
I’m glad you’re smiling there.
You may have seen my statement, made here and there, that even something that’s apparently purely descriptive, accounting methodologies — the very constructs used to describe “the facts” — are inevitably rhetorical, hence normative.
ideology aside, the beast that is being starved is all of us; roughly one in five of us are unemployed or underemployed; capacity utilization of plant and equipment is below 78%, and yet we still forgo necessary improvements to our collective infrastructure wealth for the sake of a accounting statistic…
@rjs: “for the sake of a accounting statistic…”
This is really what I’m coming to myself, though it’s very hard for me to go all the way there:
Is the federal debt, like the level of banks’ reserve balances at the fed, nothing more than that? An accounting tally with no causal import? Are were there yet? Would federal debt of 1000% of GDP be immaterial? Is it only the flows that matter? Japan certainly suggests that…
i would suggest it’s hard for you “to go all the way there”, steve, because you’re encumbered by what you’ve been taught and believed for years…but even such mainstream characters as bernanke have suggested financing stimuli with money creation, the idea that earned him the “helicopter ben” moniker…
to my way of thinking, what’s of primary importance for our society is to put our idle equipment & resources to use and to have everyone participate…if our economic, financial & political system can’t achieve that, it’s a failure and needs to be replaced anyway…
I am inclined to agree with rjs here. The trouble with “analytical” understanding is that it is so easy to come up with an analysis that leaves you with the preconceptions you (“one”) started with.
I don’t know that the deficit is a problem or not. I think I know that we had a higher debt coming out of WW2 and seem to have done okay. I suspect there are limits to how far you can take that, but it all depends on other circumstance, and by now we all must surely have begun to suspect that “other things being equal” never are.
I am an old hand at the “rigor of analytical language,” and pretty good at detecting self delusion in the midst of academic pretension. I also know there is no way I can convince you of anything. So pardon me if I just “raspberry” in your general direction.
But here is a hint for you: when you equate “rational” to “libertarian” you reveal that you don’t understand the first thing about “rational.”
That is not to say that libertarians are irrational, but that “rational” is not a property of ANY system (or, what is the same thing, it is a property of EVERY system and therefore claims of rationality are futile even when not obviously insufferable). But there is, almost, such a thing as “rational” as an aspiration in discourse. Something we do not have here.
Libertarians are especially self-delusional. The limit their universe of thought to only those things that make “sense” to themselves, and then run around prating about how “rational” they are.
“the limit” above should have been “they limit.”
there may be other “typos.”
Libertarians of course have perfect brains so they never have to apologize for brain glitches. They celebrate them.
@rjs: “you’re encumbered by what you’ve been taught and believed for years”
Absolutely. Similarly I’m encumbered by the belief that the sun rises in the east every day. The belief about debt, however, is somewhat less strongly encumbering.
Do you feel comfortable saying, “Fed debt of 1000% of GDP just wouldn’t matter, as long as the flows (deficit/surplus spending) where being managed properly for the current economic environment”?
It seems to be where modern monetary thinking is taking us, but it’s still very hard to feel that confident.
no, steve, i dont feel comfortable saying, “Fed debt of 1000% of GDP just wouldn’t matter”, probably for much the same reasons as you feel unease approaching the idea…
but i’d feel much more uncomfortable saying that my friends who’ve long since exhausted their unemployment rations and have given up dont matter, or that my friends who’ve lost or are losing their homes to foreclosure dont matter, or that my niece who’s up to her eyeballs in student debt doesnt matter, or that my friends who say they cant even afford the cheapest health care plans that will be offered under ACA dont matter…
i guess what i’m saying is that we need an economics that puts real problems and real people before the electronic bit changers in the temple…if that what MMT does, let’s go there..
Wouldn’t a debt 1000% of gdp suggest that the economy is really not working as oppose to over spending by the government…at least if that high a debt is kept without a balancing of activity within the economy?
If we do stop thinking of government (such as ours) as being a player/actor in the economy and instead look at the government as the structure upon which we all play, then debt is only a function of how the government adapts to the actions/activities of all the player/people.
As long as we try to force a government like ours into the economic mold of a government of royalty or dictatorship then I believe we will continue to miss opportunities to actually advance humanity.
In short, I do not see government as being able too crowd out anything unless we make govenment be an actor/player within the economy instead of the counter to and structure for all our playing.
This I believe is the fatal error of the conservative thought on economics, that they treat the government as being just another competitor/actor in the economy when in actuallity government is the abstract.
It appears an oversized truck hit the bridge and caused it to collapse.
I think I agree with you. But “the government” also taxes and regulates people who don’t want to be taxed and regulated, so they need a “theory” that proves the government is a dead weight loss.
It’s easy to write theories.
My own theory is that the present state of the economy doesn’t have much to do with pure economics. We have turned over our government and financial sector to criminals. And the rest of us all kind of want something for nothing too. So what you have is the big criminals ruling the not quite honest. That is not an unusual state of affairs in history… but it doesn’t work very well… except possibly for the big criminals.
so what you are saying is it was just an accident could have happened to anybody. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
I did hear that the bridge had problems before it was hit, but I don’t know any more than you do. I have also heard that there is a massive “infrastructure deficit” in this country. I think I believe that, but I can see why Fox News wouldn’t want you to. Taxes, you know.
And as for me, any bridge that is going to collapse in the event of a foreseeable accident is not well designed.
“….are inevitably rhetorical, hence normative….”
A demonstrate of the confused logic of the Postmodernist: “everything is relative but X”. Normativity is a question of distribution. Testability and falsifiability are not. In theory, norms must pass tests to survive. IN practice, Postmodern logic, like the logic of scriptural monotheism persists, despite the pervasive falsehood of it’s content.
(A) the bridge is 50 years old, and is from that time when roads were narrower. It is on the main (Single) route from Seattle to Vancouver BC (about 3-4 hours drive), through mostly rural terrain.
(b) It has had at least two structural ratings, the most recent in 2010, both deficient, but not alarmingly so.
(c) the driver was experienced, following a lead-car, and worked for a company that specializes in oversize loads.
We have seen boats that hit and take out bridges when they are loaded ‘heavy’ and trucks that take out bridges when they are loaded ‘heavy’. The bridge should have been replaced with a newer model that was wider, but it’s not clear that the bridge had structurally completed it’s lifespan.
Bridges are currently replaced in america when it is politically impossible not to replace them. These ratings are designed to minimize the cost of replacing them by only doing so when the full working life of the bridge has been consumed.
Because they don’t have ‘constituencies’ road and bridge repair money is often transferred or appropriated for other uses by governments. (See Illinois’ Auditor reports for example).
“This I believe is the fatal error of the conservative thought on economics, that they treat the government as being just another competitor/actor in the economy when in actuallity government is the abstract.”
They treat the government as a granter of privilge that violates the conservative moral principle of ‘meritocracy’. Meritocracy is better descrbed as ‘proporitionality’. The left considers proporionality as equality regardless of action, the right as according to one’s actions.
They treat the government as an assault on this moral system and its status signals. They treat the demonization of the male as a theft of status signals (and a perpetual frustration), and therefore ability to work to attract mates. They treat the government as an assault on the nuclear family. They treat the government as an assault of their heritage, and therefore pride. They treat the government as an assault on their ability to ostracize people by undesirable behavior. They treat the government as an assault on the ethic of community action, voluntary association, and charity. They treat the government as an assault on their ability to save and transfer wealth to their children. They treat the government as someone who takes from them and putting those takings to purposes that they disagree with.
That these are in fact, the result of race and culture conflicts is something we have known since the constitutional convention, (largely the people trying to insulate themselves so that they can establish norms and signals, and government trying to integrate them by stating that the only norm and signal is monetary, since it is the only one that they can measure and enforce.)
Conservatives are entirely rational even if they speak in long term, and therefore allegorical language. They and their heritage are the creators of the world’s only ‘high trust society’, even if they don’t understand that label, even if they don’t understand the economic consequence of that label, and even if they can’t articulate their belief system as other than habituated moral narratives.
Searle’s characters do not require that we understand them, only that we perform the appropriate actions necessary to produce beneficial outcomes.
Individualism, Heroism, Egalitarian Aristocracy, outbreeding, the nuclear family, reason, science, debate and property rights, are almost exclusive properties above the Hanjal line, and certaintly in England.
That conservatives perpetuate these ideas, developed during an age of allegory, is not suprising. We do not konw yet, how the great economic adventure we are on, with credit, fiat money, and redistribution will play out. But conservatives think in terms of generations, or perhaps christian armageddon (forever), and it’s not clear that they are wrong.
Most philosophers and historians eventually come to to the conclusion that left and right are a division of labor – a division of interetemporal labor, and only by constant tension does each stop the other from extremes.
Unfortunately, the left represents the high rate of reproduction and consumption as a good, and the right a low rate of reproduction and a high rate of production as a good.
That these two poles reflect male and female reproductive strategies, and individualism and democracy allowing these reproductive strategies free expression, and therefore that all our arguments are a dance, full of sound and fury, is probably not something we want to face.
But that’s what the data says.
I don’t want to frighten you, but I agree with about half of what you say.
At least, I have had similar thoughts. The difference may be that I don’t take them too seriously. Or myself.
“That’s what the data says.”
Actually, it’s not. “Data” never says anything. We don’t even perceive “data” without approaching it with an intellectual construct. And anyone who seriously attempts to understand anything finds out just how difficult it is to break down those constructs enough to allow previously unperceived “data” to get noticed.
What Coberly says:
““Data” never says anything. We don’t even perceive “data” without approaching it with an intellectual construct.”
(Constructs very much including national accounting methodologies.)
Coberly: as a result your frequently expressed disdain for careful examination of those methodologies and constructs is misplaced.
Curt: Your belief that you are uniquely qualified for, and capable, of discerning “reality” and “facts” is the ultimate triumph of, capitulation to, relativity.
Viz, my thirteen-year-old self asking “Why can’t people just be objective?”
Shortly afterward I read Stranger in a Strange Land, which (imperfect though it is) I’ve cited ever since as “the book that burst my intellectual virginity” — made me realize that others could think in utterly different (and potentially equally valid) ways.
You might find value in:
Forms of Ethical and Intellectual Development in the College Years
Another far from perfect book, but it outlines nicely many of the ways that people in those formative years get stuck and sidetracked on the path to mature epistemology.
thanks, I guess.
My frequently expressed disdain.. certainly suffers from my “refusal to carefully examine…” But life is short, and all I can go by is the apparent value of those methodologies as put forth by implication or assertion by their exponents.
And, alas, I am afraid I have had a long close association with at least some “methodologies and constructs” that justifies to me at least a healthy dose of disdain of others even from a distance when i recognize the style.
and good god, Stranger in a Strange Land?
better at least than Atlas Shrugged.
Try Widower’s Houses by G.B.Shaw for a starter. He is at least a better writer, and generally quite good about giving people who think in utterly different, and equally invalid, ways fair representation.
@Coberly: “and good god, Stranger in a Strange Land?”
I was 13!
sorry. i was just being funny. In fact I read Heinlein’s “Red Planet” when I was about ten, and it also opened me up to the idea that “conventional wisdom” wasn’t.
Sad to say that they published a lot of Heinlein’s stuff after he was past being able to write well… why not, it sold.
And when he was dead, they called him a “right wing…” No one who read his earlier stuff would have thought so. As I suppose those who read, and liked very much, Stranger in a Strange Land, would not have suspected.