Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Remember, you heard it first at TDD

Three years ago, the next ice age started.

How do I know? Compare these two photos:




The first is from a display at the Eagle River Nature Center, the purpose of which is to help people identify various peaks, their names, and the dates of (recorded) first ascent. It was taken sometime after 1998 (the latest summit date on the image), and was prior to the first snowfall.

Below that is a picture I took from the same spot, somewhat grainy, because the iPhone 4 camera is lame to begin with, and cropping to make it the same size as the display only further stressed those poor pixels.

My timing was a bit off, but that isn't my fault. In an era of global warming, how was I to expect the first snow (not quite correct, since there has been snowfall on these mountains every month since the end of winter ...) with summer still having a couple weeks to run.

What you are supposed to notice, comparing the two, is a large ice field towards the left that was scarcely there 12-ish years ago, plus considerable expansion in all the other fields.

This caught my attention as the summer of 2009 drew to a close, and has become more obvious at the end of the three succeeding summers.

I hate to be the harbinger of bad news. Global Warming, we can adjust to. Another Ice Age, we are toast.

So, when you finally heave your snowblower aside as completely inadequate to the task, and start running for Costa Rica, remember: TDD toldjyaso.

130 Comments:

Blogger Bret said...

OK, I'll remember.

But no, we're probably not quite toast in an ice age either.

Technology conquers all.

September 20, 2012 7:48 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

We can dust off all those old plans from the 1970s when the Warmenists were Coldenists.

September 20, 2012 10:21 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Bret -- you need to go walkabout on a glacier sometime. From a distance, beautiful. Up close, utterly dead expanses whose sole purpose seems to be the smashing of mountains.

Another ice age won't happen instantly, but if it does, it will be inexorable: people will have only two options, get the heck out of the way, or die.

(And while all this is obviously mostly tongue-in-cheek, this is the third year of below average temperatures, and a couple small ice fields in foothills near my house survived this summer, where previously they had been gone by the end of July.)

September 20, 2012 7:26 PM  
Blogger David said...

First, you need to remember the distinction between weather and climate.

"Weather" are those events that are inconsistent with global warming. "Climate" are those events that prove global warming.

Second, both no snow and lots of snow are consistent with global warming.

Third, consistency is climate; inconsistency is weather.

September 24, 2012 6:32 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I like technology but Ice Age ice fields were a mile thick. Dealing with that would be almost like trying to stop continental drift.

September 25, 2012 2:30 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

One would stop it at a stage slightly earlier than that. Those mile thick ice fields don't form over the space of a few years, or even a few decades.

September 25, 2012 6:32 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

If, as I think, they form as a result of orbital variations, gonna be hard to stop.

I am amused by the alarm about the threatened disappearnce of the glaciers in Glacier NP. Since something like 99.95% of the ice in Montana has already disappeared, it hardly seems a crisis if the last 0.5% goes.

September 25, 2012 11:41 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

If, as I think, they form as a result of orbital variations, gonna be hard to stop.

I am amused by the alarm about the threatened disappearnce of the glaciers in Glacier NP. Since something like 99.95% of the ice in Montana has already disappeared, it hardly seems a crisis if the last 0.5% goes.

September 25, 2012 11:41 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

You don't change the orbital variations (although that's actually possible) you change either the total insolation using orbital mirrors or the global albedo. The primary issue isn't feasibility but reversibility. Many of the schemes are rather hard to turn off it turns out you got the heat mechanics wrong.

September 25, 2012 1:24 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I think that at least a partial answer to Harry's question about the glaciers is that they are in a park, which for greens means a kind of museum dedicated to timeless preservation. If you told them a rare and fatal type of poison ivy was in there, they's march in the streets to save it.

This debate will never end any more than neo-malthusian debates about overpopulation will ever end, and the politics and psychology of the debate have become much more interesting than the underlying science. I can't prove this, but I have a strong impression that the warmenist case is based largely on putatively dramatic measurements made in remote and inaccessible regions where humans can't test them against everyday experience and observations. The poles, the Greenland ice core, under the oceans, in desolate Tibetan grasslands, etc. After thirty years I've yet to hear anyone talk about the new weeds in their garden. My second observation is that the alarm is always sounded about the favourite exotic tourist destinations of wealthy Westerners, like glaciers, coral reefs, etc. Is anybody worrying about the future of Watts and Des Moines?

September 26, 2012 4:00 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

The Warmenist claim is three parts:

1) The global is warming
2) This warming is anthropogenic
3) The warming has positive feedback effects that will lead to catastrophic increases over the baseline warming.

Most people don't realize the (3) part but it is an absolutely vital part of the reason for controlling green house gasses and the one that has no observational support at all (in fact, much evidence against based on climatic history). Warmenists naturally elide reference to (3) as much as possible for this reason.

I don't believe (1) but I could be persuaded - climate changes, we're coming out of an Ice Age, it's hardly implausible. (2) would be a tougher argument but it's not prima facie bogus. It's (3) that I can't imagine accepting, it's so contra-indicated by paleo-climate data. And of course (4) therefore we have to turn over control of the planet to UN commissions I must simply laugh at.

September 26, 2012 6:09 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

SH, number 3 is really what supports the whole movement. Skipper is right that cooling would be much scarier and I think it was David who once noted that the whole cause is based on the unstated assumption that the world's current climate is an ideal. I've always found it nothing short of bizarre that so many Canadians see climate warming as a terrifying tragedy.

Plus have you noticed how in the last several years the doomsday prognostications of the IPCC types and other scientific fear-mongerers have quietly been extended from between 2030-40 to the end of the century? Imagine the accuracy of a scientific "consensus" in 1912 about what the world would look like in 2000.

September 26, 2012 8:40 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Peter;

"the whole cause is based on the unstated assumption that the world's current climate is an ideal" - that was what Bjorn Lomborg pointed out and they vilified him for it. His book tried to objectively and accurately add up the pros and cons of a warmer global climate.

September 26, 2012 8:47 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Yes, when I think of what happened to Lomberg and a few other things like Dawkins's war on religion, the splentic attacks on ID or the medical establishment taking on chiropractic, I chuckle at the self-image of scientists as modest, diffident types ever open to criticism and ever-ready to revise their theories on the basis of evidence and intellectual challenge.

September 26, 2012 9:02 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

An interesting list. Chiropractic is, one would think, the flat-earth version of medicine, objectively.

September 26, 2012 2:31 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

September 26, 2012 2:31 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Harry, I suppose in some strictly theoretical way it does, but there is a big difference. Nobody believes the world is flat, but many (far too many for you) will swear by chiropractic. According to surveys, more than will swear by doctors. Life's a bitch, eh?

September 26, 2012 5:04 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It raises the question whether we should give any weight to anything these people say.

Should a man who believes the aborigines of n america are Jews be in charge of anything important?

If this sort of belief is not disqualifying, why not?

September 27, 2012 7:04 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Because it has no material effect on his governance. IMHO Believing that you can tax and regulate to prosperity is a far more disqualifying belief. Or a belief that laws don't apply to you or your friends, or that Chicago style politics are normal and ethical, that should get someone laughed out of politics.

September 27, 2012 7:34 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

All of those beliefs fall in the category of opinion (except the first, for which there is abundant historical evidence).

Whereas belief in subluxations or the Jewishness of Indians is susceptible to reality testing.

I feel like I've fallen through a Po-Mo wormhole here. Whoulda thunk?

September 28, 2012 1:45 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

And therefore ... ? You might try an elementary course in logic so you could realize my previous comment is in no way dependent on the truth value of aboriginal American genetic heritage.

September 28, 2012 3:13 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

But your comment failed to direct itself to the question I posed.

If it doesn't matter whether people believe things that are demonstrably loony, what -- and when -- does it ever matter what they think?

I could make a pretty good historical case that good government did not become possible until the government leaders detached themselves from medieval belief systems. Why are failed states in the 21st century almost all Muslim?

September 28, 2012 5:18 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

My response directly addressed your question. Let me repeat it - "Because it [such a belief] has no material effect on his governance". That is why the belief is not disqualifying.

Why does it ever matter what they think? It matters in so far as it affects their governance. The beliefs I objected to directly affect how the believer will govern. The genetic heritage of aborginal Americans not so much.

One might even ask what evidence you have that Romney personally believes that, or simply has not ever given it any thought. Again, in contrast, the beliefs I ascribed to Obama are directly evidenced by his words and actions.

A further question would be, should we only listen to the words of someone whose belief system is perfect? Does a single bogus view totally invalidate all their other views?

September 28, 2012 6:18 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I didn't say Romney believes that, did I?

Your allegations about Obama are delusional. Chicago-style politics, indeed.

On the other hand, Romney,whether he believes Cherokees are Hebrews or not, has shown himself totally cool with McCarthyism.

But my point is more about critical thinking. There are some beliefs that are so weird -- chiropractic is one of them -- that it raises doubts in my mind whether the believer is capable of dealing with reality.

September 29, 2012 12:37 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

By "delusional" you apparently mean "I can't dispute it so I'll just shout" and by "McCarthyism" you mean "is running an actual campaign against a Democrat Party candidate". Yes, I'll agree with both of those.

September 29, 2012 12:51 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

P.S. Just as your "your comment failed to direct itself to the question I posed" statement really meant "you answered so thoroughly I have no plausible response".

September 29, 2012 12:53 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I guess you've forgotten Romney's demand that Obama end his 'campaign of hate' and his constant McCarthyite claims about apologizing for America.

I stopped visiting Thought Mesh when you joined the ODS school. While I can analyze such claims, and do at Restating the Obvious, it's a cruelty to innocent bytes to do it for your benefit.

You used to be more open to discussion.

September 29, 2012 5:50 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Ah, you did mean "conducting a campaign against a Democratic Party candidate" and by "ODS" you mean "criticizing Obama's actions and policies". Got it.

I'm not sure how it is a "discussion" to simply slap labels like "McCarthyite" on things you disagree with. It's not a discussion when I make a statement, you make a completely bogus counter-claim and when I point that out you get upset.

I think I seem less open to you because I am aware of your rhetorical tricks and call them out.

September 29, 2012 6:08 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I just cited 2 (of many) McCarthyite tactics being used by Romney.

Care to dispute them?

September 30, 2012 10:54 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

I dispute that your label has any validity. Although tt's every bit as valid as calling any criticism of Obama "racist". Now any criticism of Obama's campaign is "McCarthyite".

September 30, 2012 12:01 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry Eagar wrote: "There are some beliefs that are so weird ... that it raises doubts in my mind whether the believer is capable of dealing with reality."

I could see why it raises doubt. I've given this a lot of thought and I'm pretty thoroughly convinced that taking refuge in some supposedly weird narrative is really no different than watching TV or having a martini (or other substance) or meditating or running or ... It's just a form of escapism that almost every human being needs in the face of the stresses of modern society.

Religion is no worse, even if at least some of it is a little or even quite wacky. The only question is whether or not religious ideology forms the basis for much of the non-escapist time such that it adversely affects decisions. It doesn't look to me like that's a problem for Romney. When not specifically engaged in his religion, he seems reasonably rational and effective.

October 01, 2012 11:37 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I have often thought along those lines while waiting in the line at the grocery checkout and reading the 'garlic & vinegar cure' headlines in the weeklies.

Presumably, no one who buys those papers really thinks garlic & vinegar cure anything, but they get $1.99 worth of entertainment out of being told it does.

Or something. I do not think they are linear thinkers.

However, when people put themselves forward as serious thinkers, I think it is fair to raise the bar.

Perhaps Peter can tell us how Canadians think about McKenzie King and his imaginary playmates.

All other things being equal, I'd prefer to put my reliance in people who do not talk to imaginary friends.

My objections to Romney are not that he believes several impossible things before breakfast (although my eyebrows rise a bit), but that he is a liar and a con artist who has thrown in with the McCarthyites.

While Guy is ready to absolve him, Romney is unrepentent. When called out for running fake ads, he blandly said he would keep running them, and he has.

My sister-in-law, who has known the Romneys for about 30 years (she was president of the women's auxiliary of the stake when Ann R. was a member), tells me Romney is "an honorable man."

I would not have questioned her statement 10 months ago. Live and learn.

October 01, 2012 3:40 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

"Absolve" - so it's McCarthyite or nothing. Have you considered the possibility that it's you, and not me, who has become less open to discussion?

P.S. Can you name a politician who doesn't run fake advertisements?

October 01, 2012 4:17 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry Eagar wrote: "However, when people put themselves forward as serious thinkers, I think it is fair to raise the bar."

You can, of course, think whatever you like, but it seems like, well, unserious thinking to me. The idea that a person is either rational in every thought or can't be considered rational in any thought seems silly and pretty much disqualifies every human on earth from being considered a serious thinker.

October 02, 2012 8:41 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Sure, Maizie Hirono, candidate for Senate in Hawaii.

Wow, Bret, you just tossed 5,000 years of philosophy out the window without, evidently, a pang.

I suppose you will agree that it doesn't matter if Obama is a sekrit Muslim socialist who wants to make anticolonialism a bad word in America.

As RtO has often stated, it isn't easy to be right about everything, but some ideas are overdetermined and harder to ignore than others. That's why we make fun of flat-earthers and birthers.

October 02, 2012 1:11 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Which 5,000 years of philosophy?

October 02, 2012 4:13 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The first 5,000.

Am I truly understanding you guys that ideas do not matter?

I am shocked.

October 02, 2012 5:21 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

"Am I truly understanding you guys that ideas do not matter?"

No, you're not. I sometimes wonder if you've ever understood anything I have written.

October 02, 2012 5:55 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

I'm totally lost. When did I say or imply that all ideas don't matter?

October 02, 2012 8:43 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

I think I only said that irrelevant ideas don't matter.

October 02, 2012 9:03 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

How can an idea be irrelevant in itself?

October 03, 2012 8:48 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

An idea has relevancy to certain topics and activities yet is likely irrelevant to other topics. For example, the idea that it's generally warmer outside when the sun is out than when it's not is relevant when deciding whether or not to wear a jacket before going outside yet is almost always totally irrelevant when you live in Hawaii or when working inside in an airconditioned building in a room with no windows.

Likewise, a religious idea may be relevant when at a place of worship but is likely to be irrelevant while preparing a budget for a business plan.

Lastly, while I find most or all of Mormon ideology irrelevant for my life, I have no problem with folks such as Mitt Romney finding that ideology relevant for parts of his life as long as he doesn't find them relevant for everything. From what I can see so far, he's adequate (for me) in distinguishing between the two.

October 03, 2012 12:37 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

For irrelavant, I think you more precisely mean unimportant.

Think of Sherlock Holmes and his ideas about lunar orbits.

Nevertheless, subluxations will always be delusions whether you are running for public office or not.

Ideas are things-in-themselves, without reference to other things. At least, I think so.

October 03, 2012 2:28 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

For irrelavant, I think you more precisely mean unimportant.

Think of Sherlock Holmes and his ideas about lunar orbits.

Nevertheless, subluxations will always be delusions whether you are running for public office or not.

Ideas are things-in-themselves, without reference to other things. At least, I think so.

October 03, 2012 2:28 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry wrote: "Nevertheless, subluxations will always be delusions whether you are running for public office or not."

I've attempted to decipher this but I give up.

First, I don't see how "subluxations" relate to "delusions". For example, my younger daughter has what the orthopedic surgeon calls a spontaneous sternoclavicular subluxation for which she may one day need surgery (though hopefully not). My daughter is not delusional because of this subluxation and I doubt the doctor is delusional in diagnosing this because I can see the collar bone stick out more on one side.

But even if I could somehow understand the relationship between subluxations and delusions and why it's apparently universal, the rest of the sentence ("whether ...") seems completely unrelated. For example, I could write "The sky is blue whether you are running for public office or not" and the running for public office part seems no more irrelevant to me in this case than in the subluxations and delusions case.

So give me a hint.

October 03, 2012 6:32 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Goes back to chiropractic. Perhaps I should have said subluxations of the spine, a nonexistant condition which chiropractors blame for all or nearly all illness.

The idea of chiropractic exists independent of what its subscribers are doing.

It is always delusional.

Some delusions are more delusional than others. That's why we poke fun at flat-earthers, compared to, say, people who are afraid to fly on airplanes.

Believing that further reducing the very low taxes on the very rich under current conditions will lead to more jobs is also a delusion, but there may be times and circumstances where that could work. You might call it a situational or analytical delusion, but chiropractic is a an absolute delusion.

October 04, 2012 6:51 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

"Believing that further reducing the very low taxes on the very rich under current conditions will lead to more jobs is also a delusion..."

Nice straw man Harry. I've not heard of anybody ever proposing to reduce taxes ONLY on the VERY rich.

Regarding delusions, Chiropractors (for non back pain stuff at least) is sort of an interesting example, but it's not really like Romney and religion.

I think religion is more like Harry Potter. One has to temporarily believe in magic (or at least suspend disbelief) in order to enjoy books like that. This is done completely naturally without requiring any conscious thought. In other words, I don't have to think, "I'm going to believe in wizards" when I pick up the book and I don't have to think, "I'm going to stop reading now so it's time to stop believing in wizards". It's just when not reading the books I don't ever think about magic or try to apply such fantasy to other activities.

This is how I believe the vast majority of church-goers and religious people are. They "believe" during religious activities but don't really apply those beliefs while at work, etc. That's not to say they stop applying the moral portions of their ideology to day-to-day situations, but the supernatural stuff is mostly for defined religious activities like going to church.

That's not to say that every religious person is like that, but watching Romney, I'm pretty convinced he knows when to engage in his religious beliefs and when to leave those aside in a perfectly rational and acceptable manner.

October 05, 2012 11:26 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Yet they are willing to kill for this on-again, off-again belief. I'd call that serious believing.

Is Romney sufficiently loose in his Mormonism to call out his church for baptizing dead Jews? I doubt it.

This summer would have been an excellent time for him to have shown his secular proclivities.

As for taxes, if you think jobs can be created while raising taxes on the very rich but cutting them for the rest, there's a political party for you.

October 07, 2012 1:36 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Harry is simply taking a two-hndred year old debate and trying to extend the disqualification of religious thought from the world of scientific inquiry to the world of public affairs. He's not really a democrat, or at least he hasn't thought through the implications of his argument for democracy. His argument is a triumph, not of science but of scientism--the steady extension of scientific authority and the scientific method beyond the world of scientific inquiry to all aspects of public life and even into the private realm. It should be clear to him that the overwhelming majority of politicians in our history have had some degree of faith but have nonetheless been able to govern for good or bad without being directed or even influenced by it. But you know our Harry.

The key to his fallacy lies in his comment above: I could make a pretty good historical case that good government did not become possible until the government leaders detached themselves from medieval belief systems., thus proving the Will Durant school of popular history is still alive. No serious historian would ever make such a claim, which is not only unprovable, it is problematic on the face of it in a million ways. It's based on a plotline for a movie in which Harry and his fellow hyper-materialists are the writers, directors, actors and wildly applauding audience. The basic plot is that every stupid or evil thing a religious person does in public life can be tied directly to his faith, but the beliefs of atheist materialists are incidental to their actions and unconnected to them. It plays well in Hollywood, not so much in real life.

October 07, 2012 8:01 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

You think peasants and workers were well-governed in the pre-secular age? I don't know any historian, not a religious apologist, who thinks so.

There's a reason the antislavery movement arose so late in history.

October 07, 2012 11:09 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

You think peasants and workers were well-governed in the pre-secular age? I don't know any historian, not a religious apologist, who thinks so.

There's a reason the antislavery movement arose so late in history.

October 07, 2012 11:10 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry wrote: "Yet they are willing to kill for this on-again, off-again belief. I'd call that serious believing."

I wasn't aware that Romney went around killing people. I guess the press must've glossed over that one.

Harry wrote: "Is Romney sufficiently loose in his Mormonism to call out his church for baptizing dead Jews"

If you're not religious, why on earth would you possibly care? If you don't believe any of it, it seems to me this would have to rank dead last in your list of things in the world to worry about.

I'm a non-religious person of Jewish descent and they can go ahead and baptize away after I'm dead. Why would I possibly care? Even if I was still a practicing Jew, I don't think I'd care because I'd believe it wouldn't have any effect. Admittedly, I have family and friends who are outraged by the practice, but they've never been able to give a good and rational reason why they should be. Unless you're suddenly a believer in Mormonism, the whole things seems rather silly.


Harry wrote: "This summer would have been an excellent time for him to have shown his secular proclivities."

You mean all he did all summer was talk about religion? I guess I missed it.

Harry wrote: "As for taxes, if you think jobs can be created while raising taxes on the very rich but cutting them for the rest, there's a political party for you."

Sure, the libertarian party. But they want to leave everybody alone. Certainly not the democrats (unless you define VERY rich as over $200K/year).

October 07, 2012 9:03 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry wrote: "You think peasants and workers were well-governed in the pre-secular age?"

I think the founders did a pretty reasonable job and they were still religious.

October 07, 2012 9:04 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Here's one for you, Harry.

What in the world is the "pre-secular age"? When did it end?

October 08, 2012 3:33 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

'What in the world is the "pre-secular age"? When did it end?'

It hasn't ended yet in the Koran Belt, but it began to end in 1789 with the world's first secular government -- the USA.

'I think the founders did a pretty reasonable job and they were still religious.'

First, the founders began secular government, but they did a wretched job for workers. Hamilton's screwing of the Revolutionary vets was classic, and we need not mention the slaves, need we?

It was a start, but it took a long time to get to FDR.

October 08, 2012 11:41 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

'Admittedly, I have family and friends who are outraged by the practice'

No kiddin'.

I, too, am outraged, not because I think it has any significance in itself but because I recognize a studied insult and contempt when I see it.

Romney does have this problem about what proportion of Americans he wants to represent. Not Jews, pensioners, veterans, those born disabled and so on.



October 08, 2012 3:31 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Harry, do you think an atheist materialist who liked to joke privately about Cosmic Muffins and Celestial Teapots and who basically agreed with Hitchens that religion spoils everything could possible overcome his studied insults and contempt and represent the 87% of Americans who claim some kind of belief?

October 09, 2012 3:28 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Peter;

Interesting, isn't it, that conservatives are supposed to hate the poor yet it's the tranzis who display such open contempt for them?

October 09, 2012 6:58 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry wrote: "I, too, am outraged, not because I think it has any significance..."

Perhaps your cup is filled to the brim with outrage and you can squander it on things without significance but I personally need to save outrage for those things that actually have significance.

October 09, 2012 7:41 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

SH:

What I like is how they manage to square their supposed outrage over anyone who attacks or even criticizes a particular religion with their open disdain for religion. How in the world can anyone who thinks religion is and always has been a blight on humanity claim to be "outraged" because some Mormons urge the baptizing of dead Jews? It's a little like one of those extreme deep ecologists who thinks the world would be better off if the human race were eradicated claiming to be outraged about a violation of black civil rights.

I get beaten up regularly on a leftist site up here and one thing I have noticed is how outraged they all are about so many things. The outrage agenda changes hourly and covers the widest spectrum imaginable. I think outrage for the left is a drug as addictive as heroin.

October 09, 2012 8:05 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It's the thought that counts. My grandma always said that and she was right.

October 09, 2012 9:08 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It's the thought that counts. My grandma always said that and she was right.

October 09, 2012 9:08 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry Eagar: "It's the thought that counts."

That statement is kinda cool because it identifies a simple yet fundamental difference in premises from which our two worldviews diverge.

I couldn't care less what someone's thought or intention is or what they say, only what the actions and results are.

Some of my more conservative friends tell me that is a fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives. For progressives, intentions are primary while for conservatives results are primary.

Since the thought/intention of the Mormons baptizing dead Jews outrages you even though you agree the there's no effect (result), you apparently agree to some extent.

October 09, 2012 1:09 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

My grandma always said that and she was right.

Yeah, but my grandma could beat up your grandma.

There is hope for you yet, Harry. Whenever a dogmatic atheist/materialist/rationalist falls back on the authority of his grandmother, I know I am talking to a waverer prone to doubt.

October 09, 2012 3:31 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Bret, I do believe you have 'conservatives' confused with 'communists.'

You know, the guys who identified liberal democrats as 'objective fascists' because what they did was said to have furthered the aims of the regular fascists.

Of course, if you think conservatives are results-oriented, then they would pretty much have to repudiate everything the Bush II administration did.

And, I guess, in one sense, they have, since none of those guys was invited to the latest convention. But somehow I doubt that the results-oriented conservatives are going to out on bumper stickers saying, 'We should never have invaded Iraq' or 'Bring back Glass-Steagall, 'cause that really worked.'

October 09, 2012 4:19 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Speaking of communists, that's a pretty good example of intentions trumping results for the Left. For example, Walter "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs" Duranty and Uncle Joe "One Death is a Tragedy; a Million is a Statistic" Stalin. The results were horrible beyond imagination (for most of us) with tens of million dead, economic stagnation for decades, and complete destruction of freedom and (real) human rights. But hey, their intentions were devine.

But Harry, let's focus on your more concrete example. If it's not true that progressives like yourself are more concerned with intentions than results, why again are you outraged about Mormons intending to baptize dead Jews when you know that the result is no effect whatsoever given that it's a bunch of superstitious nonsense anyway?

October 10, 2012 2:10 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Why can't I be concerned with both intentions and results?

I can recognize someone has bad intentions towards me even if he isn't so competent at carrying them out. It's good to know that.

October 10, 2012 3:11 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Why can't I be concerned with both intentions and results?

I can recognize someone has bad intentions towards me even if he isn't so competent at carrying them out. It's good to know that.

October 10, 2012 3:11 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry wrote: "Why can't I be concerned with both intentions and results?"

Note what I wrote above: "For progressives, intentions are primary while for conservatives results are primary."

So yes, I fully expect everybody considers both to some extent.

But in the case of the baptisms you clearly are primarily concerned with intentions since the there is not and could not be any result. I look at it and laugh because results are primary to me and there is no effect/result. You are outraged because intentions are primary.

October 11, 2012 10:46 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Bret;

On what basis are the intentions of the Mormons labeled "bad"? Are not the intentions of the Mormons to benefit the targets of the baptisms, which is normally considered a "good" intention?

October 11, 2012 11:31 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

SH,

I was going to point that out too except for two things; (1) who knows what the intention really is (which is the main reason I put almost no weight on alleged intentions for any topic); and (2) it is my understanding that at least one reason they baptize dead Jews is that they get some sort of "credit" for doing so and so it's not clear that the baptizers have any good intentions whatsoever regarding the baptizees (they may have good intentions, but who knows?).

October 11, 2012 11:52 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Aren't you the guy who objected to gratuitous slurs the other day?

I promise you that many believers have no difficulty in figuring out the insult in Mormon baptizings of them.

October 11, 2012 8:23 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Please point out the gratuitous slur.

October 12, 2012 6:07 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The one by the Mormons against the deity of the believers.

October 12, 2012 11:17 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

First, it's not gratuitous and second, since we are talking about intentions it's clearly not the intent of the Mormons since they don't believe it to be an insult. Finally, from your point of view, how can one insult an imaginary being?

October 12, 2012 12:21 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

"You are not having as much fun as you think you are"

This quote, seemingly completely disjoint from anything so far, bears directly on most of what Harry has said.

Background: Once upon a half dozen lives ago, I worked in a small electrical engineering company. How small? There were three of us.

One day, we were, as guys will do, debating the merits of our cars. One of us had a Mazda RX-7; the other two, of which I was one, had Porsche 911s (before you get any ideas, they were by that time, quite elderly). Finally, frustrated by both statistics and being outnumbered, our RX-7 member of the tripartate said "You guys aren't having as much fun as you think you are."

Instantly, despite not being philsophers, the not RX-7 owners cocked their Spockian eyebrows in the perfect non-verbal version of "wait, what?" How can it possibly be that we are not having exactly as much fun as we think we are having? I have had my beefs with philosphers, but upon this I think we would all agree, we are all having, at every instant, precisely as much fun as we think we are having.

This is as prelude to Harry's harping upon chiropractic.

I have never availed myself of one of those, so my opinion is uncontaminated by first hand knowledge. However, I have met plenty of people who are completely convinced that chiropracters have produced results that conventional medicine has not.

Who the hel* am I, or you, Harry, to tell them they are wrong?

Which segues into the argument about religion. Harry finds Romney completely unworthy because his religion includes the belief that indigenous Americans are descendants of the Jews. And, furthermore, because his religion includes this as a belief, then Romney takes this as material, actionable, fact.

Admittedly, that could be. I doubt it, though, because to automatically arrive at that conclusion ignores a fact of nature which collectivists are so willing to disregard: the duality of human thinking. The list of contradictory ideas that people effortlessly hold is nearly endless, and mostly harmless. I have no doubt that Mormonism contains a great many notions that I think ridiculous; however, I have the same amount of doubt that they are simply aspects of the urge to belong to a community, and will have no bearing whatsoever in his material world.

(Unlike, say, the left's unending confusion of price and cost, or characteristic and composition, which is both religious in its character, and damaging in its consequences.)

As for Mormon's baptising whoever. Making an issue of this is to hit yourself over the head with your own bat. It should be obvious that, to even the most casual observer, that there is no sinister intent. No matter how mistaken their premises, Mormons are doing this as an act of sincere charity.

If they are right, it is. If they are wrong, then it is as useful as teaching dogs logarithms, and no more worthy of offense.

(Peter: I must say, that of all the commenters I have ever read, you are the one who most consistently says something incisive. FWIW, you have persuaded me to change my mind on many things.)

October 12, 2012 5:29 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Why, thank you, Skipper. Funnily enough, I was about the throw a compliment your way for this sentence: The list of contradictory ideas that people effortlessly hold is nearly endless, and mostly harmless. Thinking back on those interminable arguments we used to have about Darwin and religion vs. science (Good times, good times), it strikes me that none of us really grasped this truth that is evident all around us, or spent much time probing its brain-bleedingly complex significance. With their common fixation on the creation myth, both atheist materialists like Harry and biblical literalists have been very successful in keeping the debate at an either/or "take your pick" level, treating it as if it were about competing natural histories and whether scripture or biology textbooks are the better survival guides. In fact, they are not only talking about different things, they relate to very different and overlapping human perceptions and experiences.

A modern young professional couple with a very sick child requiring dangerous surgery may pull out all the stops to get him the very best medical expertise and find themselves praying fervently during the operation, perhaps going to their graves believing that both had a hand in a success. The medieval peasant deep in the so-called Age of Superstition may have seen a good harvest as the result of his prayers, but he hardly thought they could replace seeding and backbreaking cultivation. Belief in an angry, jealous god with too many fun-crimping rules may be beneath a modern young sophisticate who sees life's possibilities as his oyster, but it's a rather desirable quality in a concentration camp guard. A modern biologist may believe at some level that he and his wife mated in response to a genetic imperative that could just as easily driven him to mate with someone else, but he would be well-advised not to express such beliefs in his anniversary cards.

One of the most elegant expressions of this very profound and uniquely human paradox comes from the pen of David Berlinski, who, contrary to his blog reputation, is not an IDer, he's a declared agnostic and brilliant polymath who combines stupendous awe at the marvels of scientific discovery (much of which he is actually qualified to understand and critique)with a sense of humility at our ability to understand their signifiacnce, no matter what practicel uses we succeed in making of them. Sorry for the length, but here it is in the comment below:

October 13, 2012 4:24 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

"We seem to live our lives in perfect indifference to the Standard Model of particle physics, the world we inhabit nor only remote from the world it describes but different in detail, thank God."

"Over there, fields are pregnant with latent energy, particles flicker into existence and disappear, things are entangled, and no one can quite tell what is possible and what is actual, what is here and what is there, what is now and what was then. Nothing is stable. Great impassive symmetries are in control, as vacant and unchanging as the eye of Vishnu. Where they come from, no one knows. Time and space contract into some sort of agitated quantum foam. Nothing is continuous. Nothing stays the same for long except the electrons, and they are identical, like porcelain Chinese soldiers. A pointless frenzy prevails throughout."

"Over here, space and time are stable and continuous. Matter is what it is and energy does what it does. There are solid and enduring shapes and forms. There are no controlling symmetries. The sun is largely the same sun now that it was four thousand years ago when it baked the Egyptian deserts. Changes appear slowly, but even when rapid, they appear in stable patterns. There is dazzling variety throughout. The great river of time flows forward. We anticipate the future, but we remember the past. We begin knowing we will end."

"The God of the Gaps may now be invited to comment--strictly as an outside observor, of course. He is addressing us. And this is what He has to say: You have no idea whatsoever how the ordered physical, moral, mental, aesthetic and social world in which you live could ever have arisen from the seething anarchy of the elementary particles."

"It is like imagining sea foam resolving itself into the Parthenon."

--David Berlinski

October 13, 2012 4:26 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Peter;

Interesting. That of course is what the "cellular automata" craze was about, if you ever wondered why people found them interesting. It's also the basis for my "layers" approach to reality in which you have successive layers of the real, each built on the previous one and bringing more order and consistency, until you get to our cognitive level.

October 13, 2012 6:48 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I do not think that general belief systems do not have real consequences in our daily lives. And neither do any of you, or you wouldn't carry on the way you do about collectivism.

I find the Berlinski statement vacuous. Apply Harold Morowitz' 'pruning rules' and all those strangenesses disappear.

(I do not find Morowitz' pruning rules helpful when he applies them to evolutionary processes, but I feel confident that when the primordial soup cooled, the only option was hydrogen atoms.)

There are probably human and contingent reasons why most innovation occurred in northeast Africa-southwest Asia during the 4000 years up to, say, 200 ce, then none for 1700 years, and now still none except for a tiny strip of eastern Mediterranean littoral. I bet general belief systems, and particular specific beliefs within them, could explain that.

October 14, 2012 10:20 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

"I do not think that general belief systems do not have real consequences in our daily lives"

We do as well. But it turns out we were discussing a very specific belief, not the general case. My claim, at least, was that very specific belief ("Native Americans being the descendants of Jews") has no real consequences in daily life. Mormonism as a gestalt, yes, definitely.

That is, of course, why we don't get concerned about this baptizing issue - we look at the general belief system in toto, and its results, and don't see why we should care about the irrelevant details.

October 14, 2012 11:28 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

I find the Berlinski statement vacuous.

I'm not surprised, Harry. I'm betting you think if we could just "prune" those maddening, confusing adjectives and metaphors from Shakespeare's plays, what he was trying to say would be much more straightforward.

October 15, 2012 5:09 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

People who think Indians are Jews have a tendency to hire nutball Birchers to teach politics to their children, who grow up admiring and praising the nutball.

So are you sure there's no untoward result?

October 15, 2012 9:13 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Far more than I am of your assertion in your first sentence.

October 15, 2012 9:47 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

Where you most changed my mind (aided by recent events) was in the notion that religion is a communitarian experience that cannot be analyzed solely with respect to the "truth" of its foundational claims, because religion, as a material fact, has consequences far beyond its various theologies. To put it differently, and probably more clearly, which world would I rather live in — one with religion, or one devoid of it?

The recent event that really brought that home was the recent Flukerfuffle over contraception. Aside from demonstrating the slack-jawed ignorance of economics that must pervade the left, it even more forcibly showed the contempt the left has for civil society: for the price of a few pills — far less than 30 pieces of silver — collectivists will happily trample on the moral convictions of those who have the temerity to disagree.

And as much as I have criticized Catholicism, it is at least worth noting that freely available contraception and abortion haven't come without cost. Which should prove to any but the most convinced believers that leftism is a religion all its own. Just try and get, say, Amanda Marcotte to even glancingly acknowledge any of that.

Harry:

I do not think that general belief systems do not have real consequences in our daily lives. And neither do any of you, or you wouldn't carry on the way you do about collectivism.

I'm not sure anyone said that, because it is self-evidently not true. Islam is a belief system that all sorts of consequences, some of which include justifying shooting school girls, then threatening to finish the job.

But most of Islam's consequences aren't of that sort, and outside parts of the world where Islam is dominant, religion has become a wholly voluntary communal experience in which people participate for all sorts of their own reasons.

And where religions make demands on society, even though couched in supernatural imprimatur, they are making arguments that are material. Wherever one might lie on the pro- / anti- choice spectrum, it is certain that almost all abortions are killings of convenience, and that one of the consequences of abortion on demand is to replace the essential nature of femininity with the notion of women as self-propelled sex toys.

Collectivism will acknowledge none of that, while endeavoring to replace voluntary civil institutions with its own catechisms, all of which are every bit as unprovable as heading to heaven on a winged horse.

(Among the many travesties of collectivism is the minimum wage — an assault on freedom, perpetrator of unemployment and massive denial of economic reality. Why the heck shouldn't we carry on about collectivism?)

People who think Indians are Jews have a tendency to hire nutball Birchers to teach politics to their children, who grow up admiring and praising the nutball.

Which is why Mormons are such hellish people, no doubt.

Mormonism is exhibit A of why a world with religion is far better than one without, because then there would only be one: collectivism, with little opposition to all its manifold inanities, depredations, and looting.

October 15, 2012 10:55 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, I suggest you read some Irish newspapers on the subject of voluntary religious affiliation.

Search 'Magdalene Asylums.'

Bleats by Catholic priests about contraception and morals would fool only the wilfully blind.

October 15, 2012 12:47 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

C'mon, Harry, as far-ranging and quixotic as your reading list is, you're better than that. I mean my Googling "Swedish eugenics" can beat up your Googling "Magdalene Asylums" any day. What is this, ideological warfare by anecdote?

October 15, 2012 1:56 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Peter;

Why not "Soviet Gulag"?

October 15, 2012 5:42 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Because Skipper asserted that, outside the Koran Belt, religion is voluntary.

Not in Ireland.

As for my earlier point, the Mormons really did hire a nutball Bircher, and he really did teach Romney, and Romney really does think highly of him (at least if we can believe what Romney says).

So the tendency is well-established.

(The Tea Party is my county uses the nutball Bircher's text in its laughably named educational meetings, so it cannot be said that hiring nutball Birchers is without political significance.)

October 15, 2012 6:49 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Harry, it strikes me that your Bircher comment is exactly the kind of thing a Bircher might say about others. But that's ok, I understand the difference. They are lost in a miasma of neurotic religious delusion while everything you say is grounded in hard, testable, rational, historically-proven, evidence-based, statistically-verifiable, peer-reviewed, objective scientific inquiry.

October 16, 2012 6:18 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

If there's doubt whether Birchers are nuts, then we are indeed in the deep weeds.

When did you guys go PoMo?

Of course, you could see what he thought for yourself. His name was Skousen.

October 16, 2012 11:32 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Harry:

Today, in most of the world, including Ireland, religion is voluntary.

Regardless, you would have to turn the calendar back a couple hundred years before you would find a supernatural religion with anything like the depredations that materialistic religions of recent memory have repeatedly gotten up to.

And still get up to: minimum wage laws.

And hope to get up to: the massive re-ordering of life in order to appease Gaia.

Outside the hinterlands of Islamism, only collectivism hopes to stamp out all other belief.

October 16, 2012 12:49 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The pope in Rome disagrees with you.

Lucky for you, modern secularism has limited the pope's civil power, or you'd be answering to an Inquisition.

I gather you are down with the Australian billionaire who thinks Australian coal miners should be ready to accept what African miners make -- $2 a day.

She went out with a trowel and buried all that coal herself to begin with, of course. It was her hard work that created those billions for herself.

I seem to have entered a timewarp. Where once I wrote on these pages that the Iron Law was the wet dream of the rightwing, I would not have put you in with the rightwingers. Nor Peter with the leftwingers.

Everything has gone topsyturvy.

October 16, 2012 4:54 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Everything has gone topsyturvy.

That's hilarious. Damn screwed up world!

Harry, have you forgotten my 2005 prediction at BrothersJudd?

October 17, 2012 4:50 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Lucky for [me], modern secularism has limited the pope's civil power, or you'd be answering to an Inquisition.

While my memory is both transient and perfect, I do remember enough about the general outlines of history to strongly suspect that the pope's civil power had become rather circumscribed long before secularism raised its head above the ramparts.

It is also worth mentioning that there are people still alive (and many more who should be, but aren't) who well remember show trials and gulags.

I [reductio ad absurdum] you are down with the Australian billionaire who thinks Australian coal miners should be ready to accept what African miners make -- $2 a day.

No, you may not gather that, or anything like it.

However, you may gather that the minimum wage, collectivist to its core, is not only an assault on personal freedom, it also lands hardest on those who can afford it the least.

(It also highlights the collectivist's inability to distinguish between characteristic and composition.)

October 17, 2012 10:27 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

You need to read more about popes, then. The streetlight episode would be instructive.

When we have an actual large employer advocating for the $2-a-day wage, I don't think you get to use the reductio ad absurdum riposte, which is usually reserved for hypotheticals.

You see, on one hand we have a sociopolitical advocacy for a $10-an-hour wage; and on the other, $2-a-day.

I was reading a blog about domestic help in the Philippines last night. $2-a-day would be a big raise there. I have my doubts that those workers would consider a mandated $2-a-day wage an assault on their personal freedom.

October 17, 2012 2:39 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

When we have an actual large employer advocating for the $2-a-day wage, I don't think you get to use the reductio ad absurdum riposte, which is usually reserved for hypotheticals.

True enough, reductio ad absurdum is reserved for hypotheticals.

Which is precisely why I used it.

Let's assume the hypothetical that Australia banished the minimum wage yesterday.

And today an actual large employer advocated paying workers $2 a day. Heck, that employer could advocate workers paying for the privilege to work. No matter, in either case, those advocacies would be hypothetical, because that employer's coal mines would be devoid of workers.

Just like when I walked in to the barber shop an hour ago, and advocated a haircut for $2. (Okay, I admit, I didn't do that; it's completely hypothetical, because I knew what the answer would be.)

Your reflexive appeal to meaningless statements has distracted you completely from the real consequences of minimum wage laws.


You see, on one hand we have a sociopolitical advocacy for a $10-an-hour wage …

Why be so stingy? Why not $20. Heck, $40 feels even better. (I know why, because at those numbers, the consequences would become apparent to even economically illiterate sociopolitical advocates.)

I was reading a blog about domestic help in the Philippines last night. $2-a-day would be a big raise there. I have my doubts that those workers would consider a mandated $2-a-day wage an assault on their personal freedom.

And to hell with the newly unemployed workers then.

Collectivists need to come to terms with these two fundamental notions, no matter how inconvenient they may be: Supply and demand isn't just a good idea, it's the law. There's no such thing as free.


You need to read more about popes, then. The streetlight episode would be instructive.


Showing results for pope "streetlight episode"
No results found for pope "streelight episode"


Must not be all that important.

October 18, 2012 12:27 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Pius IX removed the streetlights. It's a famous event in 19th c. conservatism, even if the internet hasn't heard about it.

Assertions that higher wages depress employment are belied by the outcomes of thousands of strikes.

October 18, 2012 7:23 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Of course.

I'm sure I could go out and ask some dockworkers, or steel workers, or UAW members and they would tell me the same thing.

The ones that are left, that is.

October 19, 2012 10:20 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Pius IX removed the streetlights. It's a famous event in 19th c. conservatism ...

I'm sure it is, but as famous as it might be, it is even more obscure.

But anyway, that was then, and this is now.

October 19, 2012 10:22 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I suggest you read 'The Box' about the dockworkers. It was containers that eliminated the longshoremen.

Steel and autos declined because of incompetent management, not high labor costs.

October 21, 2012 12:31 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

And further (there was lots in your statement), we don't have a free market in labor in this country.

It's, uh, asymmetrical.

It's even quetionable whether a free market in labor can exist in principal. If Worker A is contributing X to the enterprise, then just because Workers B, C . . . are offering to replace A, that does not change the value of A's contribution.

Anyhow, if you want to list jobs no longer done in America, I suggest you include shipbreaking and then explain why this is a good thing.

October 22, 2012 12:53 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

I suggest you read 'The Box' about the dockworkers. It was containers that eliminated the longshoremen.

And it was the extortionate demands of a monopolist rent seeking cartel which hastened the introduction of containers.


Steel and autos declined because of incompetent management, not high labor costs.

Never said management didn't make any mistakes. But the UAW, as another monopolist rent seeking cartel, forced management to commit some of their mistakes with regard to knuckling under to extortionate labor demands (see labyrinthian work rules,; job banks; health care, cost of, per unit production, et al.)

Even if management was perfect, there was no way to be competitive in the face of that nonsense.

Compare with BMW, Mercedes, et al.

Which employ plenty of autoworkers at wages well above the minimum.

In fact, BMW is putting another $1.25B into its South Carolina plant, the most productive on in the whole company.

All without union help.

How, oh how, could that be?

October 22, 2012 6:01 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

You really should read 'The Box.'

Old-fashioned ship loading was a skilled job, very difficult, extremely inefficient in labor terms, at any labor price.

Using containers to eliminate the skill set was a natural progression -- part of the coolieization of labor going on all over, even among the lowest-paid work (like picking cotton bolls) and moderately-paid work (like typesetting).


From 1964, when Datsun introduced a light pickup truck that quickly became a bestseller, to today, when (in my county) one in four vehicle sales is a light pickup, the easiest vehicle to make and sell has been a light pickup.

You cannot buy one from Detroit because after almost 50 years those morons still don't think there is any demand for light pickups. UAW did not make that decision.

You cannot simply assert that X drove Y unless you show that Y wasn't occurring even without X.

If you read Bernanke's 'Great Depression,' which is where his early reputation-building work can be found, you'll learn that he made his bones by showing that despite the greatest unemployment in history, wages did not go down. In real terms, wages went up during the '30s.

If supply and demand effects didn't drive down wage rates during the Great Depression, they can't.

It's the difference between faith-based and evidence-based economics.

October 22, 2012 6:12 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Looking at the best compact pickup trucks here I see two from Detroit.

I would also note that the Ford F-150, although full sized, is the best selling truck in North America for 24 years. Perhaps that had some influence.

October 22, 2012 6:46 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Because I only get one link per comment, let's look here where we find the statement

"Soon, American brands were building their own small pickups. Chevrolet introduced the S10 in 1982, with a GMC S15 counterpart. Ford developed the Ranger soon afterward, which went on sale in 1983.

Now, almost 30 years later, Ford announced it would cease production of the current Ranger."

Who is using faith-based arguments here?

October 22, 2012 6:48 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I have owned an S15, a Ranger, an Isuzu, a Datsun and currently a Tacoma.

The market has morphed some. At their introduction, the Ranger and S15 were midsize compared to the popular small trucks.

Small trucks are bigger now. The Japanese have introduced big trucks; Detroit still doesn't have a competitor on the small end.

October 23, 2012 9:01 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Comment by comment, anecdote by anecdote, obscure historical reference by obscure historical reference, Harry seems to be building a general economic theory that holds price has nothing to do with labour costs and investment is unconnected to profit.

October 23, 2012 11:43 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

That's certainly been the historical experience of the 21st c. so far.

As for labor price, I grew up among militantly antiunion Southern individualists who always said some version of, 'I don't need no union. I can make my own deal.'

All of them -- every one -- then settled for the Iron Law rate that everybody else like them got. It would be hard to argue that there was any market in labor at all.

October 23, 2012 11:32 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 23, 2012 11:32 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

More generally, I am making a case that Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, not an economist, and that all of his ad hoc assumptions were contradicted by real experience in Scotland in the mid-18th c.

That, in fact, the reason he got his bread and beer for breakfast was solely a result of power and privilege and that other Scotsmen, nearby, got none.

In short, classical liberal economics is intellectually similar to medieval scholastic rationalism -- it makes perfect sense as long as you never test it against experience.

October 23, 2012 11:35 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

All of them -- every one -- then settled for the Iron Law rate that everybody else like them got. It would be hard to argue that there was any market in labor at all.

I'll bet they did not, in fact, settle for the Iron Law rate, and they certainly don't now. How can you tell? Because there is absolutely no explaining any element of life in modern economies using the Iron Law, which should be no surprise, as the argument for the Iron Law is a perfect example that one can reach any conclusion simply by ignoring everything except what one wants to see.

From the link:

The fact that workers can also strike out on their own and compete with their employers requires wages to be high enough to dissuade workers from doing so. The iron law is inapplicable where employees are free, capital can be borrowed to recreate the technology involved, and customers are free to switch suppliers.

You might note the word "free" in there, it occurs a couple times.

Heck, even a collectivist such as Marx thought it a bogus concept.

It is impossible to argue that there is NOT a market for labor.

October 24, 2012 7:37 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

That, in fact, the reason [Smith] got his bread and beer for breakfast was solely a result of power and privilege and that other Scotsmen, nearby, got none.

Yep, exactly like today.

And exactly like every economy that Smith would recognize as free exchange.

Unlike, of course, that shining beacon of agricultural plenty and glossy, well fed citizens, North Korea.

October 24, 2012 7:39 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Well, I suppose if you can borrow from your parents, you can go into competition with Bill Gates.

The idea that American workers, individually, have the capacity to negotiate with employers is moonshine.

Go ahead. Try negotiating with WalMart over that greeter pay.

October 24, 2012 11:34 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

I have negotiated for my pay in every job I have ever had.

October 25, 2012 5:16 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

"The iron law is inapplicable where employees are free, capital can be borrowed to recreate the technology involved, and customers are free to switch suppliers."

There have certainly been times and places where employees have NOT been free and capital could NOT be borrowed. For example, pockets of destitution in Appalachia, various serfdoms, many political systems. I'm under the impression Harry has personally experienced egregious examples of this and it seems it may have irreparably colored his perspective to believe that most or all employees would be subject to the Iron Law if not for benevolent government and/or unions.

I think that most of the rest of us here believe the exact opposite - that if the government allows individual freedom and supports property rights then capital CAN be borrowed and the Iron Law is therefore inapplicable. Indeed, many applications of the Iron Law seem to occur when the power of government is utilized by unscrupulous individuals in order to oppress others (e.g. crony capitalism, etc.)

However, there are limits. Some individuals still can NOT borrow because they simply can NOT provide a competitive or even positive ROI on that capital. In fact, they can NOT provide enough value to even justify their existence and without some sort of social safety net would starve. Whether that safety net is provided by family, community, church, government, or some combo is certainly an important debate, but ultimately few humans can tolerate people starving on their doorstep.

So, in my opinion, the Iron Law has limited applicability to modern western civilization but shouldn't be completely dismissed out of hand.

October 25, 2012 8:45 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

That was thoughtful.

Dragging in North korea was not.

October 25, 2012 9:10 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] The idea that American workers, individually, have the capacity to negotiate with employers is moonshine.

Moonshine that happens to be well substantiated both by the operation of a market economy, and evidence.

I do not have the capacity to negotiate with a supermarket as to how much I am willing to pay for cornflakes. But I do have the capacity to buy those cornflakes elsewhere. Similarly, workers may not be able to negotiate with a given employer, but that doesn't mean they can't choose, or defect to, an employer offering the best deal.

In 2006 I quit an employer in favor of another offering twice as much pay. Did I negotiate? No. Did I get more? Yes. That is the way a market economy typically works, and it works the opposite direction of the Iron Law.

More recently, my wife told her employer she was leaving for a different job. The employer asked what they needed to do to keep her. Result, she got a 30% pay raise. Was that a negotiation? In a sense, yes, but it was driven by a fully functioning market in labor operating completely outside collectivism.

Works with WalMart, too.


[Bret:] So, in my opinion, the Iron Law has limited applicability to modern western civilization but shouldn't be completely dismissed out of hand.

I think you contradict yourself.

The Iron Law is a statement about the tendency of wages in general, in that real wages always tend toward the minimum wage necessary to sustain the life of the worker. (I'll take Wikipedia's word, and text, for it.)

Where the contradiction comes is that there are obviously cases where, for any manner of reasons, some people cannot be sufficiently productive to do anything more than sustain themselves, if that. But those are the consequences of individual misfortune, not a widespread tendency of wages.

You are right, we (and by that I mean Americans) are not such rugged individualists so as to ignore starving people on our doorstep. However, the fact that we are able to do something about it must mean that the Iron Law simply does not apply, for if it did, then there would not be any surplus available with which to weave some sort of safety net.


[Harry:] [Bret's comment] was thoughtful.

Dragging in North Korea was not.


You are the one who asserted the Iron Law, and dismissed the idea of there being any kind of market for labor, as being relevant facts about market Economies.

Yet the single most shining example of the Iron Law is precisely the place that most perfectly eliminates the market.

How is citing a counterexample not on point?

October 26, 2012 5:11 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

I'm saying that wherever employees aren't free or capital can't be borrowed (which happens various places and times for various reasons), the Iron Law sometimes applies. I don't see the contradiction unless you're just pointing out the hyperbole of the term as opposed to the concept.

October 26, 2012 5:45 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The Iron Law works best when there is a big oversupply of workers. It worked as Ricardo thought where he observed it in England.

For most of America's history, we have been labor-short, except when unsupervised financial markets created panics, in which cases the Iron Law kicked in immediately.

A hollowed-out middle class, which is what we're getting, creates such a class of unneeded workers and we see the Iron Law gearing up again.

Even rightwing observers are noisily worrying about millions of workers (mainly older) being driven permanently out of the labor force.

October 26, 2012 10:04 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Harry, you keep conflating the Iron Law with the normal operation of a market economy. The single defining characteristic of the Iron Law is the inevitable secular convergence of wages to the subsistence rate. (Bret, IMHO you are making the same mistake. That there are instances where wages are very low is undeniable, but the Iron Law isn't about instances.)

The Iron Law requires two things: Malthusian demographics, and an economy characterized by jobs whose productivity is completely unrelated to employee training, experience, skill, motivation, etc.

None of those things apply to post-agrarian economies, as evidenced by the fact that wages in such economies have perpetually ignored the Iron Law, which really deserves scare quotes around either Iron or Law.

If "we" saw wages plummeting to subsistence levels, then you would have a point.

But "we" don't. On every conceivable measure, consumption patterns have flattened so much that there is very little the rich have that the poor do not.

What's more, income is up significantly over the last thirty years, even with respect to grossly inflated CPI.

Before you pull out that hoary statistic about stagnant income, beware of the difference between characteristic and composition.

October 26, 2012 9:39 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

For tens of millions, it's less than stagnant.

I can think of several things the rich have that the poor have not. Good teeth, most obviously.

Since I spend a good deal of my part-time working life researching consumption, I disagree that consumption patterns have converged.

I suppose you mean that if A has a canvas bag and B has a Hermes bag, they both have a bag. Few B's will agree that there is little to choose between their consumption patterns, however.

October 27, 2012 9:42 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

I disagree that consumption patterns have converged.

Perhaps you should look at the change in the proportion of people in the lowest quintile who have airconditioners, washers & driers, dishwashers, color TVs, cell phones, cars, cars with air conditioners & power windows and airbags and anti-lock brakes and automatic transmissions.

As for teeth, I'll bet the dental hygiene of the lowest quintile has also improved.

For tens of millions, it's less than stagnant.

Wrong. You only get there by citing a characteristic, without understanding composition, then compound the error by relying upon the CPI as some holy grail, when it actually massively fails to deal with quite obvious changes in goods.

It takes 23% less labor time to own and operate a car now than 20 years ago.

Owning and operating a car is a large part of the lowest quintile's expenditures.

Yet the CPI doesn't capture it at all. So why are you so enamored of it?

October 27, 2012 10:58 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Hey, Skipper!

A link for you on the same subject of increasing affordability of the "good stuff" by the poor.

I also definitely recall Eagar claiming the lot of the poor in the USA has not improved over the last 50 years. I listed some of the same points you did but failed to make any impression.

October 28, 2012 5:41 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It doesn't matter how cheap the car is if you have no income to buy it.

There's a guy cutting down trees for me in my backyard who hasn't had steady work for years. He's somewhat incapacitated by a workplace injury which, thanks to a rigged system, he wasn't compensated for.

I meet people in like circumstances all the time, more now when I work in a pawn shop.

As I used to say, you have to disaggregate the aggregates to learn what's going on. By the aggregates, Bill Gates and I increased our net worth an average of nearly $10 billion last year.

October 29, 2012 2:20 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

As I used to say, you have to disaggregate the aggregates to learn what's going on.

Which has been your, and the rest of the left's perpetual problem.

You pick the most aggregate number possible -- the CPI -- to demonstrate wage stagnation, without even acknowledging that money is a dimensionless unit, nor providing the tiniest glimmering that the same dimensionless unit buys more now than then.

But it gets worse than that. According to you, median income has scarcely grown over the last 20-30 years: 3%.

Yet white men have had 15% growth over that period, non-white men 16%, white women 75%, and non-white women 62%.

What gives? How can the median income shoot up in every demographic sector while the overall median remains nearly unchanged?

...

That’s exactly what’s happened with median incomes. Each demographic group has progressed, but at the same time, there’s been a great influx of lower income groups — women and nonwhites — into the workforce. This creates the illusion that nobody’s progressing when in fact everybody’s progressing.


Religious devotion to the CPI may be great for the narrative, but it fails the reality test.

Religious devotion to the median income growth rate is a particularly amazing blindness to reality. The composition of today's workforce is wildly different than 25 years ago, but for the left, it is exactly the same.

As for your tree cutter, that sounds like a sad story. But it is, nonetheless, pure anecdote, as is your pawnshop.

When it comes to things like wage growth and inequality, why does the left never (almost*) never mention personal accountability.

Like, say, the out-of-wedlock birthrate? (*Several months ago, as part of an article about the huge increase in single-parent households, the NYT let slip the notion that as much as 40% of the increase in inequality can be explained thereby.)

Damn those evil capitalists.

October 29, 2012 7:17 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Wildly different from 25 years ago? Not for women. If you mean the non-white portion of the workforce is relatively larger, true, but so what?

Are you implying that the so-called free market in labor discriminates against women and browns?

Or what?

November 01, 2012 10:19 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Fact: "Yet white men have had 15% growth over that period, non-white men 16%, white women 75%, and non-white women 62%"

Faith: "Wildly different from 25 years ago? Not for women"

November 01, 2012 11:02 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I wouldn't call those wildly different, and it still asks the question: Is Skipper claiming the so-called free market in labor discriminates against women and browns?

But speaking of faith: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/business/questions-raised-on-withdrawal-of-congressional-research-services-report-on-tax-rates.html?hp

November 01, 2012 4:48 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

I am sure you wouldn't call those wildly different, because you have faith that cannot be the case. Normal people, however, would think that of a 75% (or 62%) increase.

I am not seeing your point on "faith" in that article - a study was done, fact and methodology objections were raised, and it was withdrawn.

Oh! You mean your faith that whatever Republicans do is wrong. Just like when Romney agrees to do as requested it means he's telling the requestor to "piss up a rope". You sure do keep the faith.

November 01, 2012 5:38 PM  

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