Friday, April 29, 2005


Dies war der Startschuß des so genannten Historikerstreits, an dem sich jeder dazu berufene geschichtskundige - und wer fühlt sich nicht als solcher - Journalist, Publizist Politologe, Philosoph und last not least Historiker beteiligte. Dabei war es vielen "Debattierern" nicht in erster Linie darum zu tun, die Vergangenheit möglichst unvoreingenommen zu untersuchen. Das Ziel der meisten Beiträge ... war vielmehr, ihre ohnehin festgefügte Weltanschauung durch eine subjektive Selektion historischer Beispiele zu "beweisen". Nur selten hörte und las man in dieser verbissenen Auseinandersetzung um Objektivität bemühte Stimmen (...)

Nach wenigen Monaten erstarb die Auseinandersetzung. Um eine "Debatte" hatte es sich nicht gehandelt. Denn den Kontrahenten war es nicht darum gegangen, die eigenen Erkenntnisse zur Diskussion zu stellen und dabei auch von anderen zu lernen, womöglich den eigenen Standpunkt zu revidieren. Sie wollten vor allem möglichst viele Unbeteiligte von der eigenen Sichtweise überzeugen. (...) So ist der Historikerstreit Beispiel für das Fehlen einer Streitkultur in Deutschland, wo man nach wie vor lieber kämpft als debattiert."
(Seligmann, S. 271f.)

Rafael Seligmann, "Mit beschränkter Hoffnung. Juden, Deutsche, Israelis." 1991.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Excellent Tom Toles Again

Sunday, April 17, 2005

'The Infinite Collective Insights That Comprise The Marketplace'

Via Mark Thoma, Brad Delong et al. comes the pointer to the latest amateurish hackjob at the NRO:

Unless Volcker possesses more wisdom than the infinite collective insights that comprise the marketplace, he’s got things backward.
Finally, someone confessed up that it's The Golden Calf of Infinite Supply-Side Wisdom that the NRO crowd worships. Fools, haven't they seen 'Dogma'? Or read the Book of Capital Exodus? (which I for your convenience quote below ):
1. And when the NRO supply-siders saw that Volcker talked of “disturbing trends, huge imbalances, disequilibria, [and] risks” ( Book of WaPo, Page B07) they gathered themselves together unto Luskin, and said unto him, "Up, make us markets, which shall be most useful for discounting the future;

2. For as for this Volcker guy, the man that brought us out of the Land of Inflation in the early 1980s with standard Keynesian and monetarist theory, his crazy talk makes us now feel fuzzy inside."

3. And Luskin said unto them, Break off thy savings, which are in the Social Security of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto Trend Macrolytics.

4. And all the people brake off their live savings in the hope of 'achieving superior performance' and creating wealth, and brought them unto The Don.

5. And he received them at their hand, and managed them with a “supply-side” approach that has demonstrated superior predictive value

6. And its major tools are depth commentary and real-time analysis from principals Luskin and Gitlitz (not to be deemed to be recommendations for buying or selling specific securities or to constitute personalized investment advice),

7. For as for these so called 'traditional economists', they are concerned primarily with backward-looking statistical aggregates that have little market relevance by the time they are published.

8. After he had made their savings into the Golden Calf they said, 'These be thy marketplaces, O Israel, which possess wisdom of "infinite collective insights that comprise them".'

9. And when Luskin saw it, he built an altar before it; and Don Luskin made a proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Supply-Side Calf.

10. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered briefing papers, and brought talking points; and the NRO writers sat down to write Op-Eds and commentary,

11. And they wrote to expose and debunk the liberal bias of America's most dangerous leftist 'economists': Krugman, Stiglitz and Volcker,

12. And their bogus 'papers', credentials and Nobel prizes.

The Death/Paris Hilton Tax

Data for ROLL CALL 102:

H R 8Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act
13-Apr-20055:27 PM
On PassagePassed

Not Voting

Looks like the Democrats have a important problem. The Republicans vote in unison for their own programme, but 20% of the Democrats are switching sides. We are talking about socio-economic issues here, not some national security stuff where everybody is afraid to be the next target of anti-patriotism accusations. If members of your party do not believe in your own policies, you will never convince the voters. The whole talk about how stupid voters vote against their own economic interest becomes moot.
testing the festing Posted by Hello

"The long arm of the law belongs to the bounty hunter." - Boba Fett

Alex Tabarrok of marginalrevoulution writes: I would add only that the commercial bail system, backed by bounty hunters, does a much better job than the public system in ensuring court appearances and capturing fugitives. The long arm of the law belongs to the bounty hunter.
Would you trust this man with enforcing the law?:

Boba Fett

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Requiem for Orson Scott Card Pt.1

It's a said moment, when a man whom you once admired for his intellectual skills sinks so low and becomes a bitter, deluded partisan hack:

Condoleezza's Confirmation ( By Orson Scott Card January 30, 2005 ) When Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state (a) was opposed by 13 Democratic Senators, it did not imply that she was singularly unsuited to serve in the President's cabinet. (b)

It meant that the Democrats in Congress were determined to be brutally partisan ... at a time when our country is at war, and we need to show our enemies a unified and relentless determination to defeat them. (c)

Instead, those thirteen votes had no effect except to encourage our enemies that if they just go on killing Americans long enough (d), there's a party in America that will vote against continuing the war.

Once the decision to go to war is made, then the actions of members of Congress must be undertaken with consideration of how our enemies will interpret them. (e)

There are so many falsehoods and fallacies stacked one on another here, that I am begining to doubt Card's sanity:

a) Rice is to become the secretary of state. That is the person responsible for DIPLOMACY, Mr Card. I wonder if you could explain what that has to do with the war effort, morale boosting, etc. Would the Democratic refusal to an appointment of a secretary of agriculture be treason, too? I could stop this post at this point, but there is a lot more to point out.

b) yes, they implied she is "unsuited" and someone else would do the job better.
c) no, the "determination" to continue a mistake is not something we should want to show the enemy.

d) If Card is talking about the insurgents and terrorist in Iraq, then they already know that there is a limit of losses at which America will simply decide to cut losses and pull out. The limit is certainly lower than 60,000 KIA, the Vietnam casualties number, and no senatorial vote this way or that way is ever going to change that. Hell, if your talking of "killing Americans long enough", at 500,000 losses the Republicans and their mothers would "vote against continuing the war". If Card has no such reasonable limit, he is a sociopath.

e) the INTERPRETATION by the enemy should never ever be the deciding criterium of strategic decisions. How many troops get killed by your decision is much more important.

Demands that the leadership be never critisized and that a dissenting opinion is tantamous to treason can be found in every autocratic state in history. Despite that, whenever the souvereign power ( rulers or parliaments ) realised that the designated commanders in war, the generals and chiefs of staff, were incompetent idiots, they removed them and put them where they could do no more harm. Unfortunately for the soldiers on the ground, the political realisation that something just went wrong comes usually after undeniably large loss in manpower.

Let's just leave the issue whether Rice is competent or not aside. Card does not even try to discuss that so I do not need to refute it, too.

What Card demands is that we REWARD failures of any hypothetical commander, despite the evidence of his incompetence. Apparently, admitting a mistake is worse than continuing it, because it could change the FEELINGS of the enemy. Yet I wonder how much comfort does it give the enemy that when you keep a (hypothetical) incompetent idiot in command. Wouldn't putting a new face in charge make them uncertain about our tactics and boost the morale of our own soldiers (who know what the raw deal is), too?

Unfortunately, Card puts himself into the a camp or the authoritarian loyalists, the Knobelsdorf of Verdun, whose only guiding compass is the faith in the infallibility of the leaders, stemming from the fact that they are not qualified to distinguish a good plan from a bad one and to evaluate the quality of leadership accordingly. It would make a thousand times more sense if Card used the the precious time and publishing space he's got to prove that Rice is competent and the thirteen senators' criticism is objectively wrong.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Centesimus Annus 1991

Max wants to consider Karol Wojtyla's social teachings. Well, let's start with the Encyclical Letter "Centesimus annus" (1991) which is basicly a late supplement (100 years late) to Leo XIII's Encyclical Letter "Rerum Novarum" (itself written in 1891). Other popes have written their own supplements: Pius XI's "Quadragesimo Anno" in 1931, John XXIII's "Mater et Magistra" in 1961. Interesting parts are below:

35. In this sense, it is right to speak of a struggle against an economic system, if the latter is understood as a method of upholding the absolute predominance of capital, the possession of the means of production and of the land, in contrast to the free and personal nature of human work. In the struggle against such a system, what is being proposed as an alternative is not the socialist system, which in fact turns out to be State capitalism, but rather a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation. Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied.

The Church acknowledges the legitimate role of profit as an indication that a business is functioning well. When a firm makes a profit, this means that productive factors have been properly employed and corresponding human needs have been duly satisfied. But profitability is not the only indicator of a firm's condition. It is possible for the financial accounts to be in order, and yet for the people — who make up the firm's most valuable asset — to be humiliated and their dignity offended. Besides being morally inadmissible, this will eventually have negative repercussions on the firm's economic efficiency. In fact, the purpose of a business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society. Profit is a regulator of the life of a business, but it is not the only one; other human and moral factors must also be considered which, in the long term, are at least equally important for the life of a business.

We have seen that it is unacceptable to say that the defeat of so-called "Real Socialism" leaves capitalism as the only model of economic organization.
42.Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy". But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

The Marxist solution has failed, but the realities of marginalization and exploitation remain in the world, especially the Third World, as does the reality of human alienation, especially in the more advanced countries. Against these phenomena the Church strongly raises her voice. Vast multitudes are still living in conditions of great material and moral poverty. The collapse of the Communist system in so many countries certainly removes an obstacle to facing these problems in an appropriate and realistic way, but it is not enough to bring about their solution. Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure, and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces.

43. The Church has no models to present; models that are real and truly effective can only arise within the framework of different historical situations, through the efforts of all those who responsibly confront concrete problems in all their social, economic, political and cultural aspects, as these interact with one another. For such a task the Church offers her social teaching as an indispensable and ideal orientation, a teaching which, as already mentioned, recognizes the positive value of the market and of enterprise, but which at the same time points out that these need to be oriented towards the common good.
Ownership of the means of production, whether in industry or agriculture, is just and legitimate if it serves useful work. It becomes illegitimate, however, when it is not utilized or when it serves to impede the work of others, in an effort to gain a profit which is not the result of the overall expansion of work and the wealth of society, but rather is the result of curbing them or of illicit exploitation, speculation or the breaking of solidarity among working people. Ownership of this kind has no justification, and represents an abuse in the sight of God and man.

The obligation to earn one's bread by the sweat of one's brow also presumes the right to do so. A society in which this right is systematically denied, in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

John Paul II, 1920--2005

For what can be the freedom of nations, whose existence, aspirations and reactions are conditioned by fear instead of mutual trust, by oppression instead of the free pursuit of their common good?

Freedom is wounded when the relationships between peoples are based not upon respect for the equal dignity of each but upon the right of the most powerful, upon the attitude of dominant blocs and upon military or political imperialism.

The freedom of nations is wounded when small nations are forced to align themselves with large ones, in order to ensure their right to independent existence or to survival.

Freedom is wounded when dialogue between equal partners is no longer possible, by reason of economic or financial domination exercised by privileged and powerful nations.
"To Serve Peace, Respect Freedom"

The Value of Life

Tyler Cowen at marginalrevolution is wondering whether we should value human life at replacement cost (or by any other method). Michael Vassar responds that we should.

Well, some people do it on their own. Point in case: mercenaries (although some people prefer the term contractors). Mercenaries make a calculated decision of putting their lives at risk in a dangerous situation in exchange for a monetary return. They make the decision taking into account a risk-free alternative income and if the difference is big enough, they'll take the risk of getting killed.

A proper study of this field would help us better understand the issue of violent crime. Or, why risk your live for peanuts? Because the alternative job sucks? Or Fame and fortune of a Slum Kingpin?