Monday, February 02, 2009

Simon Cowell is a D*ck

Simon Cowell is a d*ck. I don't think there is a more pleasant or articulate word to describe him, without referring to or repeating this base American expression. Maybe I haven't expended enough energy upon the task. Maybe Joyce, had he been alive, also would have arrived at the same place in the dictionary. Gore Vidal might do better, but it is his job, and he's paid for such eloquence.

That said, I actually like Simon Cowell. I admire his perception of, and focus upon, the clear and present reality of his "contest". He refreshingly cuts to the metaphorical chase. He is cringe-ingly honest. Cruel, yes indeed, but honest. And rarely wrong in his area of expertise, though needless to say I would hesitate to consult him on issues relating to good-banks and bad-banks, or the relative virtues of The Taylor Rule. Daresay I am no expert on things Idol (or X-Factor for those on the receiving end of Jim Rogers latest abuse). But, I will admit (somewhat ashamedly), that I have paused during occasional channel surfing sojourns, and watched his spectacle with a rubbernecker's combination of morbid fascination, bewilderment and bemusement.

While I suspect there is something unsavourily dishonest about the antics of some of the contestants who willingly submit themselves to the inevitable ridicule and abuse, beyond the strange desire for a few moments of celebrity, there appears to be (if my bullshit detectors are in order) a far greater number of contestants who are genuinely confused, surprised, not to mention seemingly devastated by the reception they receive from those on the far side of the judge's table. These people genuinely seem NOT to understand that their perception of reality (often longly and dearly held) is, and has been, continents apart from, not just the cruel, critical, honest eyes of the panel, but of - and I hesitate before invoking the phrase - the world of objective reality. Perhaps as a result of overly-sympathetic and/or sensitive friends and family, an overly-supportive "everyone's a winner" culture, or their own denial, they are, in a single word, clueless.

And as I am watch yet another now-teary-eyed hopeful [if not rightfully then accurately] crucified by Mr Cowell, I cannot help myself from making the comparison to American's similar bewilderment over the causes of the current crisis, and economic state which they collectively find themselves. They too, don't have clue and quite genuinely seem not to understand what has happened, what they did wrong, what got them here, or there, as if the words "reflection" or "introspection" were entirely foreign from the English language on these shores of the Atlantic. This reveals itself in the pronouncements from lawmakers, interviews with ordinary people, selective lynchings by the media without the wholesale indictment of the hand that feeds them.

Yet sober-minded people DO exist in America. It was thirty years ago that Jimmy Carter donned a cardigan and spoke of malaise, it's causes, and proposed solutions, (thrift, parsimony, hard-work, sustainability, quality vs. quantity, replacing the emptiness of consumption with more spiritual things, faith, morality, optimism). Little of said redemption recipe was heeded despite the inherent correctness of his advice. And for twenty-five subsequent years to the present, rather than seeing the wisdom in his words, America as seen them as sanctimonious choosing instead the absurdity of renting the public interest for parochial gain, worse-than-neglectful energy policy, managed healthcare, unrelenting geographic sprawl, the dismissal of pricing negative externalities, rights without responsibilities, self-regulation, ballooning expansion of credit without any reasonable tether to sustainability, billions in bonuses coincidental to negative-billions at the bottom of the income statement, sub-prime lending, LBOs, SIVs, ZIRP, internet bubbles, housing bubbles, commodity bubbles, government bond bubbles, persistent half-trillion-a-year current account deficits, lending to a borrower to withdraw equity leaving a wafer-thin margin upon an illiquid depreciating asset that recently doubled or tripled, the packaging of non-recourse under- or un-secured loans-to-already-indebted people without a Plan-B and calling them 'AAA', leaving the lights on everywhere when no one is around, electing a President (twice!) whose unashamed objective was to terrorize the Public Interest, or building low quality 2x4 wooden homes in hurricane alley on a floodplain is almost beyond comprehension. And undoubtedly one could add their own litany of petty tyrants that offend any semblance of prudential decency or common-sense. And while this is going on, lawmakers and The People occupied themselves with steroid use in professional sports, how to insure prophylactics and birth-control pills receive second billing to abstinence, the un-sanctity of gay marriage, 10 things not to do with a cigar, amongst others trivial pursuits.

But now, America has finished performing. Now, Simon Cowell-The-market has harshly declared judgment. It isn't kind. It isn't nice. It stings and hurts. But it is truthful and honest and correct. Yet it remains almost unfathomable that they still cannot see its own culpability, despite it cutting wide and deep into each and every crevice of the Polity - in media, in government, in individuals, in academia. There's anger. There's disbelief. Dreams have been shattered. The tears are coming. But please, don't beg. Don't cry. Stoically face up to it. Affirm culpability. Introspect. Deal with reality. And most importantly, learn from your mistakes...

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

These people genuinely seem NOT to understand that their perception of reality (often longly and dearly held) is, and has been, continents apart from, not just the cruel, critical, honest eyes of the panel, but of - and I hesitate before invoking the phrase - the world of objective reality. Perhaps as a result of overly-sympathetic and/or sensitive friends and family, an overly-supportive "everyone's a winner" culture, or their own denial, they are, in a single word, clueless.

Every once in a while, it is good to have everyone get their ass whooped. Regardless of who it is. I say that as what seems to be part of a minority of my Gen Y brethren. This will make us tougher, and we will learn how to live with less.

...Then either the gen X'ers later children or the early Gen Y'ers kids will have the chance to be the new clueless. Ah, how it seems to be that as soon as we can take good enough care of ourselves, we tend to make ourselves fat and happy; we forget how we got there, and the bubble pops all over again.

We and our children will need to learn how to take those necessary ass-whoopings at one time or another. By teaching our kids the 'everyone's a winner' game, they never learn the hard things, and we will not be able to build in a more balanced and patient manner.

However, I cannot believe that this is something inherently new; communities, states, and empires have risen and fallen in a similar manner by pushing the 'peace, fat and happiness' game for a long time. I just hope that enough people put those little things together so that I can spend time with the people I love, recognize the beauty in the simplicity, and pursue an honest and enjoyable life.

TokyoTom said...

I think many Austrians and libertarians have seen this coming for quite some time, as a consequence of a ballooning state, increasing rent-seeking, rule-through-fear-mongering, and rampant socialization of risks by traders/management (to investors) and by firms (to taxpayers).

PeeDee said...

Very nice, C. It is hard to see how things could have gone so wrong for so long and people still be surprised, and hurt, and bewildered when they whine and it doesn't seem to help. The lottery culture.

For a long time I've been fascinated by activities like sailing, and flying, and scuba; and attracted to the people who do them. This is partly because no matter how good your story is, and how much you spent, or tried, or who you know; when the sea (air, water) wants to kick some ass you'd better be prepared or you will die. There is no bullshitting Father Physics or Mother Nature.

Anonymous said...

TokyoTOm, with all due respect, I do not think Austrians can take any special credit for prescience. One needed to only open one's eyes and witness the absurdity of things like "All You Can Eat Shrimp & Lobster Night" when the seas are being depleted, Cov-lite loans to PE deals with wafer-thin equity when underlying values barely have pedestrian attractiveness, or a incentive fee & bonus structure struck off market-to-model or mark-to-market, when the IM IS the model or the Market. Sorry, Austrians will have to look elsewhere for feathers to put in their Reinhard Plank hats.

-C-

Anonymous said...

the problem is, americans totally lack self-criticism and real heretic is one who takes to criticise americans.

r.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure a dearth of mea culpa is unique to the Americans; the UK, Eastern Europe, Spain, and Greece have indulged similarly on the consumption front. Not to mention the Chinese; Wen Jiabao implicitly criticized the US for a precarious global economic order and financial system in Davos when China was an integral part to the old status quo in keeping a weak currency anchor in USD/CNY vs rest of Asia post 1997-98 crisis. Not to mention keeping its capital account closed despite being the now-3rd largest economy and despite the fact they run over the FX spot market like its nobody's business but their own. Economics is all about identities; if we had a bubble in US consumption we had a bubble in production and savings elsewhere. While appearing more prudent, the Chinese and Arabs are also culpable in lending cheap money to overlevered US consumers when domestic savings were so far in excess of their own investment while lacking any social safety net for people with GDP/capitas a mere fraction of that of the Western world.

Anonymous said...

The market is a d*ck? Does the market know the truth any better than Simon? Was/is this debt induced asset deflation priced into the market? Still?

Seems like the market is usually the contestant and Simon is somebody in cash!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:42 said
"While appearing more prudent, the Chinese and Arabs are also culpable in lending cheap money to overlevered US consumers when domestic savings were so far in excess of their own investment while lacking any social safety net for people with GDP/capitas a mere fraction of that of the Western World"

Points well taken. But one might point out that there was a transformation mechanism in that they lent to the government (directly or through securities with implicit guarantees) which prevented the proper pricing of credit (crowding out). Now recycling surpluses (particularly petrodollar, but also mercantile) has always been problematical (evidenced at BW conception stage, and practically in the first round during 80s), but there seems to me to be a responsibility to do what one can do. And it was always envisioned that adjustment was a responsibility of both surplus and deficit nations. Of course its not simple, geopolitics certainly playing a defining role, but the policy neglect in the center (USA) has been astounding during the past decade IF sustainability was at all an important objective (and by way of full disclosure, I think it should always be). But not only were there no attempts to throttle, tether restrain, the last decade saw the reverse: irresponsible fiscal policy (unfunded tax cuts....WTF!?!!!) coupled with irresponsible monetary policy (extended neg real rates) and a complete dismantling of regulatory regimes, which didn't even feign a half-hearted attempt to correct what needed correcting. Now the people might be forgiven for lack of financial and economic literacy, but Leaders have no such excuse, and no one seemingly has explained to them - properly - then or now, the chain of events that gave them what they didn't deserve or couldn't afford in macro and micro terms for a decade (or more). So I reckon they remain clueless to their culpability, like the contestants cluelessness as to the level of their actual vocal talent. And change is well-nigh impossible with such recognition by the enablers - both domestic and foreign.

In any case, there is no disagreement that shoveling surpluses back to the US for consumption is/was silly.

-C-

Hoots said...

Thanks.
First time in a long time I've come across anyone giving Jimmy Carter credit for anything. Carter-bashing has become a cottage industry.
He's too much a gentleman to say "I told you so" but you did a good job on his behalf.

Anonymous said...

Yes there is no disagreement there; lending to US and UK consumers at 4-5% while they levered that into houses instead of infrastructure, education, capital stock was indeed silly. But then again so was keeping currencies cheap to subsidize production and exports at the expense of consumers and the Third Estate in Asia and OPEC. The fiscal policies of the last generation in the US have surely been extravagant, however where we disagree is on the revenue side or liability side. US unfunded deficits increase to the tune of $35 trillion when you include the unfunded liabilities of the welfare state (not to mention compounding at about 7% per annum). The Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 03, which have cost around $1.3 trillion on the revenue side look like mere rounding erros or flawed accounting forecast in comparison.

Anonymous said...

One difference between the US and and a disappointed Idol contestant. The Idol contestant does not have the 101st airborne, et.al. And much of the market is not worth much without that backing. That makes for a very different show.

LetUsHavePeace said...

Cassandra: Please stop being such a Puritan snob. Jimmy Carter was - and is - Arthur Dimmesdale. He could never tolerate the "soul-liberty" that Roger Williams came to America for; like Archbishop Laud President Carter insists that our consciences and judgments must always respect the higher authority of those who know better. The people on American Idol are not any more deluded about their abilities than the new clerisy of the "best and the brightest" who persist in confusing school credentials with wisdom. Most of us are fools most of the time. Anne Hutchinson would never have been tempted by the notion that anyone can judge the conduct of 340+ million people by the images on a few dozen on a television screen. It is precisely the kind of aggregationist fantasy that lies at the heart of the current High Church liturgy of academic economics.

The Anecdotal Economist said...

Like "Hoots" I thank you for giving props to Jimmy Carter who was much maligned 30 years ago for saying the right things the wrong way to a nation of emerging, privileged Boomers who, upon dispatching the sermonizing Reverend Carter from office in 1980, bought into the whole flawed "Morning in America" premise, and now have the T-shirt and $52 trillion of debt to show for it. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I hope we get good, cheap photovoltaics soon. In the meantime, here are some things we did over the last 30 years that really made a huge difference from a plain money point of view.

1981 Installed solar water heater
(We did this specifically because of what President Carter had been saying about wealth flowing out of the country to pay for oil... the Carter Doctrine not withstanding.)
Hot water may be about half of your household energy use.
Cost, after tax credits, adjusted for inflation, $5,000. Saved $35,000 in electricity bills, for a total savings of $30,000. Would have had to earn $50,000 to pay that.
The freezing problem has been solved by encasing the heat-collecting pipes in evacuated glass tubes (thermos tubes), and if you live in a really cold climate, running an antifreeze solution in the heat-collecting pipes. Depending where you live, after tax credits, this is about $2,500 dollars, which is about half of what it was 30 years ago!
(Not to mention that it is ridiculous to have wars to pump oil to ship oil to burn oil to make electricity to make hot water when you can just get the hot water for free or at reduced cost.)

2004 Housing clearly in a bubble, energy crises clearly coming (didn't know about all the securitization of debt and funny business going on at the banks).
Goal: get expenses down as much as possible before it all blows up.

2005 Needed to replace 25-year-old roof
New, conventional roof estimated at $25,000.
Instead had elastomeric roof coating applied for $12,000. It is wonderful. The heat does not enter the house to begin with, so the house does not heat up during the day and the refrigerator does not work so hard. Reflects back into space a substantial fraction of our global warming footprint.
Also reflects heat back into your house if the outside is much colder than the inside.
For example, see
http://www.leakmaster.com/hawaiian-s...d-ceramic.html
It can be tinted and need not be white, but of course white is slightly more effective.
Many elastomeric roof coatings and paints are now available with titanium ceramic additives to reflect heat, but beware cheap versions.
http://www.hytechsales.com/

2008 In full panic mode; no one asks me "What the hell are you talking about?" anymore.

2008 Installed complete set of hurricane straps and drove in complete set of HurriQuake nails, effectively doubling resistance to quakes and hurricanes. Total for materials $200.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HurriQuake
Insurance company cut homeowners insurance by $50 a year.
Roof should now withstand 130 mph (210 kph) winds.

Had house painted with the above titanium ceramic additive for total of $5,000. Paint should last twice as long, saving $5,000 on the paint job that will be skipped.

Replaced many lights with energy efficient compact fluorescents for $50. The warm white floodlight ones in particular are absolutely terrific and really cheap. Read labels carefully; there are a lot of choices that don't apply to incandescent bulbs. Buy one and test it before you buy many.

Our electric bill is now $60 a month, whereas our neighbors' are in the $200 to $300 range. Since the roof should last a long time (with a touch up every 10 years or so for $2,000), we shouldn't have any major expenses over the next sure-to-be-tough decade.

So the original $5,000 investment in the solar water heater saved the $30,000 that paid the $12,000 for the elastomeric roof coating, the $200 for the hurricane straps and HurriQuake nails, the $5,000 paint job, and the $50 for the compact fluorescents (and leaves some for the photovoltaics when the prices drop by 50% to 80% over the next few years).

I realize this is in Hawaii, but the above applies to large areas of the southern US as well, and is still applicable to northern areas, just with longer payback times.

We can't control the economic crisis, but yes we can control expenses or even eliminate some of them!

Furioso said...

1) I love Simon Cowell. Tact is way overrated.

2) The Malaise Speech. Books could be written about this fascinating speech, but two facts first: he wasn't wearing a cardigan - that was a 1977 energy "chat," hence the casual attire; and the word "malaise" never appears in the text. I know you are stressing the speech on it's merits rather than it's historical context, but to me the most fascinating thing is not the content but how the messenger in some cases is the message. That speech would have been brilliant, prescient and completely appropriate if James Earl Carter was the President of Harvard University in July, 1979. Unfortunately, he wasn't. He was President of the United States and, allegedly, the most powerful man in the free world. When he gazed somberly into the camera and spoke to the Nation of a "crisis of confidence" did he realize how perfectly he embodied that very crisis and how utterly un-Presidential his words and tone were? Watching the speech again on YouTube I can see where the speech got it's name: Jimmy Carter on July 15, 1979 is the absolute apotheosis of malaise. He's just a complete depressive. Even 30 years later I felt like saying, "Hey, buddy, are you okay?" Honestly, the President of the USA taking to the airwaves in prime time to deliver what has to be the single greatest un-pep talk ever? What was he thinking? Can you imagine Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, or JFK uttering such words? Churchill? Or even Barack Obama? (God help us if he has a speech like that in him.) For those on the Leftish side of things who welcomed the Obama Era as a bright new dawn after the Bush Dark Ages - well, that's how many of us felt when Reagan emerged on the scene and Carter was sent packing. If nothing else, at least the man could inspire and exude actual confidence. In fact, the Malaise Speech could almost be read as the prologue to the Reagan Era, or at least as the blueprint for the '80 Reagan Campaign.

TokyoTom said...

Cassandra, that fact that others could see this coming - based on the unreality of all the unsustainable risk-shifting - doesn't detract from the clear views of Austrians on economic fundamentals: the role of the Fed in creating bubbles, the ways insiders find ways to use government to get a leg up on competitors and to shift risks to shareholders and taxpayers, etc.

See this collection of past articles at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, for example: http://mises.org/story/3128

BTW, while "the seas are being depleted", that's not true for lobster, which is a sustainable fishery due to rather clear property rights. Shrimp are being increasingly farmed, as SE Asia is destroying its mangroves.

R said...

Furioso,

Yeah, great. Look where Reagan and his "movement" got you.

Furioso said...

R,

Could you expand on that a little? Where did Reagan get me exactly? I'm honestly curious.

Mencius Moldbug said...

The trouble, C, is that the roots of the catastrophe are much older and deeper than you think.

What we see collapsing here is, in a phrase, the New Deal state. Events since 1970 are of little significance in the story; events since 1990 are of more or less none. The Bush administration deserves no more than a paragraph.

The basic structure of Washington as it is now was created in the '30s and '40s. It is then that this chapter of our story was written - and the ending foretold. And this chapter is only one of a still greater book: the decline and fall of the Anglo-American polity.

Hop in your time machine and have a look at the America of 1909. You will see: attractive buildings (architecture is always a great "tell" to the quality of a society), flourishing productive industries, stable families, etc, etc, etc. You will not see: urban decay, "NGOs," hospitals that resemble a Czech secret-police headquarters, etc, etc.

When we ask what happened and why, the answer must tell the story of the whole century. If not the last two. To tell the ending by itself is to mistell the story. And it is a great story - of great hubris and great ate.

But if we restrict ourselves to the ending, it is really quite simple. The so-called restoration of capitalism in the Reagan and Thatcher eras failed, because it was more of the same: the "mixed economy," half fish and half fowl. The fowl was Wall Street, the fish was government-sponsored lending. Profit was privatized, loss socialized.

In 1968 and 1980 (and probably in 1960 and 1948 as well, but who's counting?) Americans voted for a Hardingesque "return to normalcy," for an end to the metastasizing, messianic state. They got no such thing. They could get no such thing. Attacking Washington with mere votes was like attacking Godzilla with a Super Soaker.

And so the achievement of Volckerism, surely the last austerity program in American history, did no more than fuel a three-decade orgy of massive, state-sponsored credit expansion, mislabeled as "free-market economics" and sold to ignorant Republicans in flyover country, who just wanted their 1909 back. They didn't get it. Nor will they.

That's your ending. Now the false alternative is removed, and the reality is clear: America's principal remaining industry is the production of her own currency. Like Spain with the riches of Potosi, but with less digging. Ever been to Spain? It's never really recovered.

And now that Wall Street's printing press is broken, Washington's is all that remains. Comrade Brezhnev, straight ahead. The Soviet and American systems, contrary to popular belief, were products of the same democratic revolution. We should not be surprised to see them wind up at the same endpoint.

TokyoTom said...

Well said, Mencius, but even you aren't starting back far enough. The mentality of insiders seeking favors from government has always been with us, but important landmarks were acquisition of vast holdings of federal lands as a result of Jefferson's and Seward's purchases, Lincoln's insistence that states could not leave the union without federal approval, and the growth of powerful, rent-seeking corporations (with efforts by citizens groups to oppose) as a result of the states (in competing for fee revenues) granting of limited liability to investors in corporations.

But it still looks to me like the Bush administration has created the perfect storm for Obama to expand federal government and undermine the private sector further.

Mencius Moldbug said...

TT,

Oh, I'll go back farther than that if you want...

TokyoTom said...

Thanks, Mencius. Useful stuff. I think that the Anti-Federalist is also a useful reference, and I discuss limited liability here with Stephan Kinsella. And Bob Murphy has some suggestions on how government can actually help the economy here.

vlade said...

MM/TT, the problem is that unless you change people, the situation will persist (and with properly changed people all regimes will work).
It's human nature (the genetically given part) to create pressure groups, to lobby and to try to better him/herself at the expense of others (to an extent it's a simple optimalization problem. Cooperation is optimal for society, but for an individual it often is cheating, as when the costs of cheating are spread too thinly, the cost of punishment tends to be concentrated and more than people want to carry).

Until we acknowledge this deeply human flaw, we cannot even try to deal with it. And yes, we can deal with it - that we have a propensity for something doesn't mean we have to do it. That's where free will comes in. If we truly disbelieve in free will, we could as well just go and shoot ourselves :).

That's where Austrians fail for me, despite insisting that "humans act", they separate politics from economy. Economy is only an continuation of politics by other means (or vice versa, it doesn't matter), and can't be separated.

Mencius Moldbug said...

Vlade, well said.

You can watch the New York Times solve this problem here. Of course, it's talking about the governance of fish, not people. But the same logic applies, n'est ce pas?

Or if you prefer the original, Sir Robert Filmer is your man. (Skip to chapter II if the Bible isn't your thing.) Try and find that at mises.org, TT!

Phillip said...

I have never heard of Simon Cowell before but I have long said Mr. Carter is easily the best President still living. He inherited a financial and moral morass that most people would have walked away from. The long slide picked up steam when we removed agricultural parity(the Steagall amendment)and started monetizing debt and war in its place. Debt is no substitute for earned income.

TokyoTom said...

Vlade, I think Austrians understand human nature well, including cooperative behavior, the public choice aspects of how insiders seek favor using the state and how bureaucrats and state directed programs frequently fail due to misincentive and knowledge problems.

Do you have anything specific in mind?

I've been trying to explain to some of them how the problem exploded when the states started a race to the bottom in granting corporations unlimited liability, unlimited purposes and unlimited life (capped by the courts extending the Bill of Rights to them) - thus creating super rent-seekers.

Mencius, it's nice to see the NYT finally start to understand the institutions that people have developed to manage fish sustainably. I raise you several more fish.

vlade said...

MM-I know well of tragedy of commons :) (unfortunately, I even saw it first hand in some Pacific Islands - together seeing how they tried to fix it).

Hmm, I'm a bit struggling to put it into words.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that most of the "solutions", presented by anyone, are being presented as "this is a problem, and when we do this, all will be well, forever after". Be it introducing gold standard, communism, democracy, benevolent dictatorship, whatever. In reality though, all those "solution" are temporary blips, which will be removed/replaced sooner or later, and we should acknowledge them as such (which, I'd point out is NOT a reason not to try some of them). In particular, a successful solution to a problem cannot be often distinguished from the lack of occurence of the problem, thus, in minds of a lot, removing the need for the solution.
Knowing about tragey of commons doesn't seem to help us to deal with it (which makes sense, the optimal case for an individual is that everyone else behaves according to the good commons behaviour, and that (s)he skims less than would be the cost of punishment. This sort of ties with some of things you have in your am rev articles MM - pushisment needs to be irrationaly expensive to be truly effective in prevention).


TT: my problem is that (most) Austrians seem to believe that if you abolish state all will become a gentle paradise with no evil.
Again, the same I wrote above applies - if you were to abolish a state tomorrow(or establish a perfectly free market, as it existed say 10,000 years ago), I would bet you (well, your descendants, really), that it would be back within a few centuries. After all, we are where we are exactly because people acted - it's not like they didn't have a choice and were forced to do what they did.

A lot of statii that Austrians (and others) describe are not self-reinforcing, free market being a perfect example. Yes, theoretically a perfect free market would be the optimializing solution for everyone. Unfortunately, gaming a free market will provide local optimae for some people, thus there never can be a perfect free market (if you have to enforce it, it's not free by definition). Therefore, operating on basis of perfect free market has little to offer to the real world (it's not even Newtonian physics to theory of relativity correspondence).

Peripheral Visionary said...

Cassandra, if you want Simon Cowell-patented honesty, it is this: as bad off as the United States is, it is in much better position than Europe and most of Asia. And that's why these self-important finger-wagging sermons from Europhiles fall flat: for all the weaknesses in American government and society that they highlight (and they are many), they fail to explain why it is Europe that is staring into the abyss.

Anonymous said...

Per Vis

You'll have to be a little more precise , as in, may we we see your T-accts that places Europe farther on the edge than the US?

-C

TokyoTom said...

Vlade, I address some of the points you make here: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2007/10/15/sophmoric-optimism.aspx

I'm no expert on Austrian economic views, but I believe that they are generally problem solvers, are aware that while human nature doesn't change, our physical and economic environment do continuously, and focus on what institutions and organizations are most conducive to happiness and wealth-creation - and are most effective in holding in check rent-seeking, free riding, etc.

It sounds like you already have some acquaintance with their views, but here's a link to a list of resources that many be helpful: http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2009/02/where-to-start-reading-for-free-market.html

Jesse said...

I like the barely controlled rage of Gordon Ramsay on "Hell's Kitchen." He makes both Simon Cowell and Donald Trump look like Caspar Milquetoasts.

I must confess that the kids and I watch American Idol and Hell's Kitchen regularly.

Why do we like to watch these sorts of shows where people subject themselves to this treatment between little gems of a great song or a quick object lesson in food preparation?

Is this some sort of modern variation of 'panem et circenses?' I think so.

LOL.