Video from the Presidential Campaign, Republican Division, #2

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52 Responses to “Video from the Presidential Campaign, Republican Division, #2”

  1. zuzu says:

    why would anyone be worried about redistribution of wealth anyway?

    Redistribution of wealth is a euphemism for transfer of wealth, which is a fancy way of saying theft. (Neo-Cons also redistributed wealth — to the already rich. The propaganda of the modern Republican Party conveniently forgets to mention this, however.)

    Transfer of wealth also causes destruction of wealth, because it distorts market signals in terms of what problems people are working on, or otherwise disrupts investment turnover. It’s like somebody changing the rules in the middle of a game. (“Sorry Obama, we used to count votes, now we count bacon.”)

    If the well-to-do capitalist of today truly believes in capitalism, then they will stay wealthy and others will become wealthy. If on the other hand,those given a chance at creating wealth blow it, that money will end up back in the hands of the wealthy anyway.

    Except that wealth is not zero-sum.

    Stealing — whether from the rich to the poor, or from the poor to the rich — reduces in absolute terms the total amount of wealth in the world. The only way to regain those losses are through the same honest trade and investment as creates all wealth. aka “growing the pie”, or “profit”.

  2. ill lich says:

    @ #4 and #5

    “Fun toys are fun.”

    –Ralph Wiggum

  3. zuzu says:

    The only way to regain those losses are through the same honest trade and investment as creates all wealth.

    I should add that this still costs us time, in absolute terms. And I’m impatient for The Future; thus I don’t take kindly to people holding us back from progress (small-P).

    Is the surface of a planet really the right place for an expanding technological civilization?

  4. Takuan says:

    I’ve got a hard drive full of funny pictures, what do I care?

  5. james_joyce says:

    Ah no, that’s learned, and not very well at that. The concept of property is new and a very recent human creation. Nature knows of no such thing. If anything we humans are naturally communal and share everything. This recent experiment of ours with agriculture may come to an end one day. It’s inherently unsustainable.

    I wish this weren’t the comments section of a blog, because I would love to have a conversation about this. Do you have any links where I can read more about this idea?

    What immediately strikes me is,
    1) Infants are naturally possessive, as well as animals.
    2) Being naturally “communal” and sharing is not mutually exclusive with being naturally protective of property – I actually agree with you that humans are naturally cooperative, which is a large part of why I think laissez faire works so well.
    3) What is the alternative to agriculture? Unless you’re saying that humans should remain small bands of tribal foragers? Do you also, then, think that human life spans should have remained as short as they were when this was true, or do you believe that a modern industrial society could exist at the same time as a hunter/gatherer lifestyle?

  6. Antinous says:

    Redistribution of wealth is a euphemism for transfer of wealth, which is a fancy way of saying theft.

    Personally, I’d call it recovery of stolen goods. How do you think the wealthy got it in the first place?

  7. grimc says:

    PS. Speculation bait for commenters: why do some videos generate almost all the traffic at a single YouTube version (e.g. Obama Girl) while others, such as this video, get reposted several different times to YouTube, even though the content is not altered? What makes one video have a canonical version and another not?

    It may have to do with US conservatives’ proclivity to astroturf. That’s not saying the left doesn’t do it, but ‘turfing is actively promoted by the GOP (see: McCain Points), and GOP astroturf has ended up in newspaper Letter to the Editor sections–the same letter, little to no differences in prose but with different signed names.

    It also seems like Republicans use forwarded email as a standard method of passing along (dis)information. From Clinton-ran-cocaine-out-of-Mena to Obama-is-a-Muslim, Republican operatives have a tradition of getting fringe rumors into the mainstream by dispersing it through email.

  8. zuzu says:

    Personally, I’d call it recovery of stolen goods. How do you think the wealthy got it in the first place?

    While some are wealthy because of theft, others are wealthy due to honest return on investment (which, recursively, is typically accelerating — hence legitimate wealth disparity).

    Furthermore, are you suggesting that two wrongs make a right? Or, that the ends justify the means?

  9. buddy66 says:

    “Redistribution of wealth is a euphemism for transfer of wealth”

    Taxes.

  10. ill lich says:

    Cory’s point (#12) is what I HATE about politics so much, it’s not about actual policy, it’s about parsing statements so that they harm the opponent and help your candidate. I’m just complaining, I know it will never change, but this isn’t how democracy is supposed to work. A candidate should stand up and say “this is what I believe, this is what I plan to do if elected” the press should investigate and verify that his/her record supports that statement, and the people vote on what they think is best; the candidate sinks or swims and there’s no fooling around. Instead it’s gamesmanship, and attack ads, and endless “gotcha” moments. Mike Dukakis, the son of immigrants, worked his way up to governor and still lives in his same neighborhood. He was often seen picking up trash while walking in his neighborhood, and famously took the subway to work. Instead he was painted as an effete upper class liberal, eating “quiche out of a can”, and that’s what a lot of people voted on. Maybe he would have been a good president, maybe not, but the American public was shown a cartoon instead of a documentary.

    That said, “redistribution of wealth” is a poorly chosen phrase, it brings up images of the state confiscating homes and turning them into public housing like a scene from Dr. Zhivago, and that’s exactly what wing-nuts see when they hear that phrase. It’s foolish for Obama to use this phrase, just like Bush using the word “crusade” when discussing the invasion of Iraq; in neither case does the phrase mean exactly what the opposition thinks it means, but there’s no un-ringing of that bell.

    • Antinous says:

      confiscating homes and turning them into public housing like a scene from Dr. Zhivago

      Who actually says, “But it really is more fair this way.”

  11. zuzu says:

    Recovery of stolen goods is not a wrong.

    But there’s a burden of proof that you’re taking the right things from the right people, and giving the right things back to the right people.

    That would also properly be in the purview of a judiciary, not a legislature. (Setting aside the overwhelming danger of governments powerful enough to perform such redistribution.)

  12. mellon says:

    The concept of wealth is based on an arbitrary system of assigning value to past work and allowing people to trade in that value. The useful function of this conceptual system is to provide a means of buffering work so that one need not always be working in order to eat, and a way of managing real objects so as to provide some stability and predictability – so that you can build a house on your land and not worry that someone will take it next year.

    When the system of wealth serves these purposes, it is good and useful. But like any system, it can be gamed to produce results that are not desirable – concentrations of wealth that make it impossible for some people to ever have what they want, and that allow other people to have so much more than what they need that they wind up causing great harm through their consumption.

    Ideally the system would be balanced out by ethical behavior on the part of its participants. But in practice, it is frequently the case that people act like bacteria rather than like ethical beings, and so the system can get wildly out of tune.

    The process of tuning the distribution of wealth is necessary because of this. The idea that it will simply fall into tune on its own is kind of crazy. The idea that wealth and property have some inherent trueness that makes them more important than the common wealth, more important than making sure that people who work hard and contribute to society wind up with what they need, is simply crazy.

    So yeah, some people are alarmed when the political discourse turns to redistribution of wealth. And they come up with pejorative ways to describe it, like the person who called it “theft.”

    But they’re wrong. Redistribution of wealth is no more “theft” than is the existence of wealth in the first place. Wealth is a tool, not an idol to be worshiped. Like any good tool, it needs to be maintained. If you think otherwise, go to Somalia and try to make a living.

  13. noen says:

    “So it seems to me that the best way to solve some of these problems is to spread that wealth to all people, or as many as possible.”

    A socialist libertarian? I’m not sure I can wrap my head around that.

    “That sounds a little conspiratorial to me. You’re suggesting that there’s a subversive set of people intentionally leading the mass of the population into poverty so that they can benefit.”

    I accept the standard analysis of class. The ruling class is aware of itself and of what is or isn’t in it’s best interest. The working class is not. That’s why we have the GOP and it’s “Southern Strategy” of appealing to white racists or fundamentalists as a means to power. Once in power they didn’t give a shit about their base’s concerns and laughed at them behind their backs. It’s a con. The uneducated, disaffected white males who form much of the GOP base will believe anything. You can lie to their face, pick their pocket right before their eyes and they still believe whatever BS you tell them.

    Now combine an ignorant, gullible group of people who look to authorities to tell them what to believe, combine that with a greedy, power hungry, sociopathic ruling class and boy oh boy… fun times!

    “economics doesn’t address ecology”

    No, but they are linked. Psychological activity doesn’t cause brain cancer, economic activity can cause ecological collapse. Traditionally we just move on to fresh waters and non depleted land. The point is that can’t go one forever and a time of reckoning will come when the true costs of things we take for granted now will be revealed.

    “So what you’re saying is that humans are intentionally and maliciously trying to commit violence against the earth. I just don’t buy it.”

    My choice of words was hyperbole I suppose. Perhaps “There are some people who are pursuing self destructive strategies.” I am skeptical of the claim that we will just innovate our way out of every crisis. Maybe we won’t, or maybe we will but it will only be available to the few who will bravely shoulder on while 90% of humanity perishes.

    “So it seems to me that the best way to solve some of these problems is to spread that wealth to all people, or as many as possible.”

    Well I’m all for that, and really, I am at heart a pragmatist. So if the only difference between us is the means by which that end is achieved we aren’t that far apart. I want the best outcome for as many people as possible. We face enormous challenges and I’m skeptical that the current clowns in charge, Dems or Repubs, are capable of meeting them. So I express my skepticism because… that’s what you do on blogs I guess.

  14. noen says:

    “This kind of material can sometimes be political gold (“The Warren Court wasn’t radical enough!”, “Breaking free of the Constitution!”)”

    I hope we’re all clear that Obama is not actually saying this, right? Conservative extremists are fear based and project those fears onto a host of perceived enemies. They are also rigidly authoritarian and top-down. This video was out there long ago and discussed on third tier sites, but things do not percolate up among conservatives. They use blast faxes and mass e-mail lists to disseminate the latest talking points. The base sure as hell doesn’t decide what those talking points are. They dutifully cut ‘n paste them into as many blogs as they can. Most are barely even literate.

    BTW, Marx was right, sooo… neener. :/

  15. james_joyce says:

    “The idea that it will simply fall into tune on its own is kind of crazy. The idea that wealth and property have some inherent trueness that makes them more important than the common wealth, more important than making sure that people who work hard and contribute to society wind up with what they need, is simply crazy.”

    Well, you can’t just call it “crazy” and win the argument. There’s a lot of history and theory that suggests that it will just fall into tune on its own. Not perfectly, perhaps, but better than it’s doing now when we’re trying to force it.

    And I’m troubled by your dismissal of property rights. I agree that there’s no inherent “trueness” about things we value, but it seems we have an instinctive valuation of property rights, based on views of theft in all societies (that I know of), along with views on the initiation of force. You wouldn’t say a thief who steals your wallet has any claim to it. You would say it’s yours, and you’d try to get it back. That’s instinctive, and it follows from the principle of self ownership.

    But you’re presenting a false dichotomy, between property rights and welfare. Sure, if property rights resulted in mass destitution, then they should be dismissed despite what I may hold in principle. But all evidence suggests the opposite: strong enforcement of property rights increases the general welfare. So luckily we don’t have to make that choice.

    I’m guessing it works that way because we evolved to best operate as a species. Our instincts, actions, and tendencies were selected for to promote our survival. I don’t have any evidence for that, but it’s my hunch.

    • Antinous says:

      strong enforcement of property rights increases the general welfare

      The earth once belonged to itself. Now it’s owned by a tiny fraction of the members of a single species. Strong enforcement of property rights helps the strong to eat the weak. Yet the rich exploit the fears of the poor to deliver themselves to their own slaughter.

      Be careful what you wish for.

  16. js7a says:

    Yeah, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let’s frame debate around whether the Warren Court was or was not too radical. But why?

  17. liberccxx says:

    Aphex Twin in the background. That certainly convinces me. I will follow to my doom.

  18. the_boy says:

    It’s a huge perspectives thing, and as much as I want to argue against the commentary Naked Emperor News put in that video, I can’t really come up with anything compelling that would change the mind of someone who is scared by this discussion.

    Debating the legacies of racism and wealth with my legacy-student southern roommate, we reached an impasse. I argued that, while rights are much much closer to equal now than they have ever been, the historical legacy of wealth and inheritance has unfairly privileged whites to the detriment of everyone else (because, well, that’s how privilege works). He didn’t see things that way, and instead was of the opinion that laws like Affirmative Action grant non-whites more rights than whites, and that he (again, a legacy student) is disadvantaged because of his race, and penalized for his wealth.

    The problem is not knowing that he’s wrong – he is, as any antiracist activist will tell you. The problem is convincing him that because he doesn’t have a legacy of disenfranchisement, he has a legacy of privilege, and that effects of that legacy remain and are harmful today. He won’t be convinced of this, because he doesn’t see reality that way. He sees redistribution of wealth as an affront to his rights, as the exploitation of democracy by the lazy, and as something very distantly connected to slavery. If there is an injustice that redistribution could have helped, it’s certainly now beyond the statue of limitations.

    Oh, and why am I talking about race here? Because in the US, and especially when talking about the Warren Court, we are dealing with legacies of race, slavery, and economics that confuse and frustrate class consciousness. This video does a really good job of dismissing all those concerns as radical, greedy, and self-serving, and threatening to self-made (white) rugged individualists, and it’s really hard to come up with a liberal counter-argument.

    On the other hand, this is one of the best things I’ve ever heard Obama say. Show it to democrats, and the impulse isn’t to argue against it – it’s to say “yeah, that was awesome. What’s your problem?”

  19. james_joyce says:

    A socialist libertarian? I’m not sure I can wrap my head around that.
    Not socialist. You wrap your head around it just fine below.

    Well I’m all for that, and really, I am at heart a pragmatist. So if the only difference between us is the means by which that end is achieved we aren’t that far apart. I want the best outcome for as many people as possible.
    This sums it all up. Indeed, this is the main difference between liberals and libertarians, in my view. I’ll make a caveat, though: my goal is not equality of wealth, or economic egalitarianism. That way lies madness.

    My goal is to raise everyone’s standard of living as highly as possible, where everyone can get what they need and have something left over to entertain themselves with. There will always probably be about 5% of the population who can’t do that by themselves, but I think they’re most effectively helped through voluntarism, not government welfare.

    There will always be a disparity of wealth. The two extremes (I believe) are a centrally planned economy with the oligarchy at the very top and everyone else falling to the very bottom; and a free market economy, with your stray billionaire, your stray homeless person, but with the vast bulk of people occupying a comfortable and varied middle ground.

    Milton Friedman (not all bad, really) put it well, I thought, when he said, “if you put egalitarianism above freedom, you get neither. If you put freedom above egalitarianism, you get a large measure of both.” I think history has borne out that claim.

    There is the moral debate, though, and I think we differ there. I don’t consider theft or assault to be any more justified when done by an elected official, or due to an elected law. But honestly these debates always come down to pragmatics. It doesn’t matter what I find moral; if it resulted in mass suffering no one would care.

    We face enormous challenges and I’m skeptical that the current clowns in charge, Dems or Repubs, are capable of meeting them. So I express my skepticism because… that’s what you do on blogs I guess.
    I agree with you there. Both parties are pretty damn similar. We don’t really have a good choice, or a very good democracy in this country. Of course, I don’t know if it would be much better if we did have a good democracy.

  20. noen says:

    James Joyce
    “Well, you can’t just call it “crazy” and win the argument.”

    These days one need simply point to the smoldering ruins of our global economy. When an experiment fails real scientists adjust their theories in light of hard realism. Ideologues and libertarians do the opposite.

    “it seems we have an instinctive valuation of property rights”

    Ah no, that’s learned, and not very well at that. The concept of property is new and a very recent human creation. Nature knows of no such thing. If anything we humans are naturally communal and share everything. This recent experiment of ours with agriculture may come to an end one day. It’s inherently unsustainable.

  21. Grim Beefer says:

    “Stealing — whether from the rich to the poor, or from the poor to the rich — reduces in absolute terms the total amount of wealth in the world. The only way to regain those losses are through the same honest trade and investment as creates all wealth. aka “growing the pie”, or “profit.” – Zuzu

    How is it then that our “pie” in the U.S. is so huge, but only a small fraction own most of that pie? A totally free market of “honest trade”, implemented today would grotesquely favor the already rich and powerful. How do you ensure that everyone gets a fair start and a fair chance? Maybe in some fantasy world where there is no racism, nationalism, sexism, or class bigotry, along with equal opportunities of resources, education, etc., we could entertain the idea, but until then free market rhetoric is mainly used as apologetics to explain “legitimate wealth disparity”.

    You say that wealth disparity can be explained by an the accelerating returns of “honest investments”, without defining what you mean by “honest”. It’s certainly possible to have a world of honest capitalists that let the world’s population starve, not to mention the externalities of resource depletion, pollution, and catastrophic, irreversible ecological destruction. Who’s going to pay for my emphysema treatments because the air I breathe has been polluted by countless honest capitalists previous to my existence? What about the water I drink? The sun that’s burning through a swiss cheese ozone layer? The world is not an infinite strip mine or garbage can.

  22. james_joyce says:

    “I didn’t have the Austrian-school economists in mind so much as the Milton Friedmanesque economic policies we’ve been following for the last 30 years.”
    You can say this only very roughly. We live in a mostly regulated economy that resembles fasicm more than any other economic framework (profligate corporate subsidies, eminent domain, artificial legal barriers to entry, etc). The financial industry, in particular, is one of the most regulated industries in our system. I understand that that fact alone doesn’t vindicate my position, but I don’t think you can say we’re living in a Friedmanite utopia, not by a long shot.

    Having said that, though, I agree with you to the extent that I believe that it’s exactly Friedman’s specific brand of economics, as carried out by Greenspan and Bernanke, that lead us to this mess – not by too little regulation, but by central planning of the money supply via the Federal Reserve. It’s one of the ways in which Friedman was not a libertarian.

    I don’t really follow how Ayn Rand falls into that, though – she’s not an economist and therefore doesn’t advocate an economic policy. I’m not a Randian, because I dislike her almost militant love of corporations, but I bet me ‘n her are pretty similar from your perspective.

    “I remember the 1980′s when Reagan promoted the ideas of another nutcase, Aurthur Laffer”
    For a laugh, watch Peter Schiff vs Art Laffer from 2006.
    I knew back then as I know now it was all just bullshit meant to pull the wool over people’s eyes while the rich and powerful rob us all blind.
    That sounds a little conspiratorial to me. You’re suggesting that there’s a subversive set of people intentionally leading the mass of the population into poverty so that they can benefit. I don’t believe that, no matter how wrong-headed I think our policies are most of the time. It’s magical thinking. Show me some evidence.
    More likely, this is a complicated topic with no clear right answer that requires massive amounts of data and theory to resolve. Therefore, very few people exactly agree. It’s the same with much of science, except this particular field has more implications on our day-to-day lives, so we pay attention to the controversies more.

    “Human culture is socially constructed. Including gender which people normally assume is biologically determined. I think the word you’re looking for is territorial. That’s not quite the same as property. Back to the point… I reject the implied essentialism that humans “are” any one particular thing.”
    Fair enough. Is there any data to back up either side of the issue? It seems to me right now that regardless of which of us is correct (if either), they’d be indistinguishable from a statistical perspective. I’d love to see some studies on this, if you have any. It sounds like you know more about this than me.

    “Hunter gatherers have no concept of property whatsoever. Everyone shares, everyone benefits. I believe we evolved that survival strategy because it is superior to the alternatives.”
    I’d especially like to see studies done on this – I believe there are some ethnographies on the !Kung, for example – because I suspect you’re romanticizing them. Although your point remains, if foragers don’t have a strong sense of property rights, then they’re probably not instinctual, which is fair.

    “Economists don’t even consider externalities and naively treat the Earth’s resources as infinite. I guess that’s ok as long as you understand one needs to in order to do economics.”
    That’s because economics doesn’t address ecology. It would be like criticizing psychology for not addressing what causes brain cancer.
    What economics can tell us, however, is that as resources become more scarce, they’ll become more expensive, which will lead other people to invest in those resources, or in developing substitutes. I’m not saying that every environmental problem can be solved in this way, but if it’s possible to solve it, it’ll be solved as demand for a solution increases.
    What I don’t believe is that central planning can solve those problems better than free people. If those problems aren’t solvable on the free market, then they’re not solvable.

    “Western civilization is at war with traditional tribal cultures. That’s what this war against terror is really about. “Terrorism” is just a subterfuge. Free market capitalism is also at war with the Earth.”
    I think you’re abusing language, here. Who’s at war with the earth? Free-market capitalism is a system, not capable of doing anything. It consists of people making free choices. War is an intentional and malicious act of extended and organized violence against another entity. So what you’re saying is that humans are intentionally and maliciously trying to commit violence against the earth. I just don’t buy it. Could there be unintended consequences and externalities to our actions? Certainly. But that’s not the same as war. Now the question is, what system is best suited to address those externalities as they arise? What system is best at innovation, such that it could solve these problems? Is it central planning? History doesn’t bear that out.

    Guess who’s going to win that one? I mean, in forty years we won’t be able to grow wheat in the continental US. Let that sink in and ponder what it means for you and your children.”
    To qualify, given modern agricultural technology and current population growth trends, we won’t be able to grow wheat in the continental U.S. But neither of those things are static. For one, as a society becomes wealthier its population growth slows. Almost all population growth in the U.S. today is through immigration. That’s because non-immigrant couples have an average of 1.5 children. That’s a shrinking population.
    And if wheat production becomes difficult, we’ll have to find other ways of producing it, or seek substitutes. Again, central planning can’t do that as well as the free market.

    So it seems to me that the best way to solve some of these problems is to spread that wealth to all people, or as many as possible. In my view, that means economic freedom, which I believe spreads wealth to the vast majority of people in a faster and more stable way than any other system. You disagree, I know.

    BTW James, do I know you? I knew a James Joyce who was I believe a nephew of the famous author. You from Minnesota?
    Heh, no, it’s not my real name. It’s just an internet handle I’ve picked up for whatever reason. I’m in NYC.

  23. Kid Geezer says:

    Let me repeat, lather, rinse and REPEAT. Shirkey’s point that this was somehow discovered too late, and hence its ineffectiveness, is simply not the case. This issue had been kicking around on the right-wing hate radio circuit for months and on both the left and right Internet print media (BoingBoinb being Internet print media, btw). Substance trumped attempted perception manipulation. It is not that Republicans and other wingnuts don’t know how to use the Internet, it’s just that the quality of their content doesn’t hold up. Just like other examples of “handedness” in the universe, reality and facts appear to have a left bias. Austrian school economics to the contrary.

  24. misterfricative says:

    PS. Speculation bait for commenters: why do some videos generate almost all the traffic at a single YouTube version (e.g. Obama Girl) while others, such as this video, get reposted several different times to YouTube, even though the content is not altered? What makes one video have a canonical version and another not?

    I consider these to be deeply interesting questions. In this case, several possible factors suggest themselves:

    * The fact that one is a serious attempt at politics while the other is primarily entertainment.

    * One is a music video while the other is spoken audio only.

    * Timing (ie before the primaries vs before the presidential election).

    * Media pickup, or lack thereof. (I’m not so sure about this one cos I don’t actually watch TV, but fwiw I’d heard about the Obama Girl video before now, whereas the wealth redistribution video was new to me.)

    * Different social structure (and meme transmission) between ‘left’ and ‘right’ wing activists. This was discussed in Clay’s earlier post http://www.boingboing.net/2008/12/04/video-from-the-presi.html , which cited ‘homophilous forwarding along conservative channels’. Grimc’s comment (#20) invokes something similar with GOP ‘astroturfing’. Personally I’m not convinced that this mechanism is an exclusively right wing phenomenon. For instance I recall any number of EFF form letters for submission to your congressperson being linked to by this very site (eg go here http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/19/congress-set-to-vote.html and follow the links).

    But here’s the kicker: if you look at the actual data, it seems there’s nothing to explain! *Both* of these videos have one major source (with 12,000,000+ vs 2,000,000+ hits) and dozens of imitators. The only real difference is that Obama Girl seems to have generated a lot more ‘noise’ (parodies etc), and one of its reposts (from barelypolitical) also attracts major traffic, with over 1,000,000 hits.

    So if you want to address the question of what makes one video achieve canonical status and another not, then I’d suggest that a side-by-side comparison of these two videos probably isn’t the best place to start.

  25. Noelegy says:

    I used to have an online acquaintance who believed with perfect sincerity that the chief neurosurgeon at a hospital, and a janitor working at that same hospital, should make exactly the same salary. Explaining to her that one job involved much more training and education than the other failed to faze her in the slightest.

  26. zuzu says:

    Explaining to her that one job involved much more training and education than the other failed to faze her in the slightest.

    Perhaps because that argument rests on a labor theory of value (which is bogus)?

    The reality is simple supply and demand. The neurosurgeon could likely also be a janitor, but not vice versa. The supply of janitors is plentiful, so their cost is low. But the supply of neurosurgeons is scarce, so their cost is high.

    Price signals are how we coordinate peer-to-peer to reconcile in real-time our prioritization of using scarce resources. c.f. economic calculation problem

  27. Cicada says:

    Re: Distribution of Wealth and “deservedness” of same.
    The trick is, reward frequently doesn’t scale arithmetically with merit, so being only a fraction of a percent better than your competition can mean you get many thousands of times the reward.
    To jump a bit and use a sports analogy, Michael Phelps swims only a small percentage faster than his nearest competition. However, he will go home with gold medals and millions of dollars in endorsement deals and could probably make a good living selling his own semen. The number two guy gets a nice silver medal and hopefully somebody’ll buy him lunch now and again.

    For a more real-world analogy, if all else were equal, would you ever buy the second-best of anything if you could buy the best, even if the difference in quality were miniscule? How long in that case before the second and third bests are out of business?

    You can argue about luck and family influence and social connections and whatever, but even in a pure and unbiased meritocracy, you’d still wind up with huge wealth imbalances– the tendency would be for anyone with a tiny, tiny advantage over his competition to eventually dominate the entire industry and take all the profits which were available to be had.

  28. Cicada says:

    @50- That’s a bizarre coincidence– I heard that once, years ago. From a janitor at a hospital, as it happened.

  29. Kid Geezer says:

    This is silly. There was a flap over that interview— making the usual right-wing noise — in late August or early September. This didn’t fail because it was “discovered” too late. It failed because any careful parsing of it showed that it was much ado about nothing that would make the wingnut case.

  30. jbjordin says:

    You folks are funny. Please continue this debate while I work to acquire more wealth.

  31. Takuan says:

    just like the soldier video, this confirms prejudices in minds already made up. I can’t see it as a convincer for people who actually understand English and are capable of thought.

  32. noen says:

    James Joyce
    “Except that Austrian-school economists have been predicting this since 2001.”

    I didn’t have the Austrian-school economists in mind so much as the Milton Friedmanesque economic policies we’ve been following for the last 30 years. Libertarians like Greenspan and his ilk have been worshiping that nutcase Ayn Rand and formed economic policy based her ideas. So, in broad general terms, a nutcase generates nutty ideas, people form economic policy on those nutty ideas, the economy collapses. Qu’elle surprise.

    I remember the 1980′s when Reagan promoted the ideas of another nutcase, Aurthur Laffer and I read Martin Gardiner’s debunking of his inane “Laffer Curve” in Scientific American. I knew back then as I know now it was all just bullshit meant to pull the wool over people’s eyes while the rich and powerful rob us all blind.

    “Infants are naturally possessive, as well as animals.”

    Human culture is socially constructed. Including gender which people normally assume is biologically determined. I think the word you’re looking for is territorial. That’s not quite the same as property. Back to the point… I reject the implied essentialism that humans “are” any one particular thing.

    “Being naturally “communal” and sharing is not mutually exclusive with being naturally protective of property.”

    Hunter gatherers have no concept of property whatsoever. Everyone shares, everyone benefits. I believe we evolved that survival strategy because it is superior to the alternatives.

    “What is the alternative to agriculture? Unless you’re saying that humans should remain small bands of tribal foragers?”

    I wasn’t attempting to make a value judgment so I don’t think we “should” do anything. One cannot derive what one ought to do from what is. Hunter gatherer is the only known alternative to agriculture so if it fails we will return to baseline. This is alluded to by some comments above. (Permaculture isn’t quite here yet. Will it be? One can only hope.) Economists don’t even consider externalities and naively treat the Earth’s resources as infinite. I guess that’s ok as long as you understand one needs to in order to do economics.

    I believe we’ve lost sight of that larger context. I further believe that it has been in the interest of some to construct economic “smoke and mirrors” i.e. Libertarianism, in order to gain advantage over others. Or in other words, Hayek, Rand and Friedman were useful idiots.

    “do you believe that a modern industrial society could exist at the same time as a hunter/gatherer lifestyle?”

    No, except for maybe in a zoo which is what large tracts of the Amazon seem to be becoming. Western civilization is at war with traditional tribal cultures. That’s what this war against terror is really about. “Terrorism” is just a subterfuge. Free market capitalism is also at war with the Earth. Guess who’s going to win that one? I mean, in forty years we won’t be able to grow wheat in the continental US. Let that sink in and ponder what it means for you and your children.

    I believe that the crucible of global warming will force us to abandon our free market policies and adopt some form of managed economy. I prefer some form of Democratic Socialism. Others seem to prefer, and are actively working towards Fascism (also a managed economy).

    BTW James, do I know you? I knew a James Joyce who was I believe a nephew of the famous author. You from Minnesota?

  33. Ugly Canuck says:

    The Warren court?
    The typical Repub chant leader usually does not care much about what happened five years ago, much less forty.

  34. bdragule says:

    Leftist comments are leftist.

  35. jonjonz says:

    Soon to be prez O tipped his hand pretty much with his ‘economic plan of fixin up infrastructure’. Think billions for no-bid construction contracts to organized crime owned contractors.

  36. Takuan says:

    foolish statements are foolish

  37. buddy66 says:

    No shit? Thanks for clearing that up.

  38. Backpacking Dad says:

    The next great technological revolution will be carried on by Semantic Search rather than Syntactic Search. Content, not forms or descriptions of content, will be the target.

  39. Takuan says:

    de nada. Literally.

  40. kstrike155 says:

    It’s weird… doesn’t even sound like Obama.

    Nevertheless, there’s a lot of overdramatic sentiment to this video.

  41. mellon says:

    Just to amplify on what some previous posters have already pointed out, what he’s saying here is a very conservative message. He does not believe in an activist court. That’s very, very clear from what he’s saying here. And this *does* sound like Obama. He’s a very thoughtful person – he doesn’t speak injudiciously, if you will forgive the pun.

    It’s certainly true that if you think the current distribution of wealth in the country is just, you will find his position here somewhat alarming, since it’s clear that he doesn’t think so. But I think at this point there are very few Americans who think that the current distribution of wealth in the country is fair or reasonable. So again, it’s no surprise that this ad had no teeth.

    What I hope will actually happen over the next four years is that people will become accustomed to not being talked down to. To being asked to reason, rather than react. And that in 2012, when the Republicans try their demagoguery again on the national level, they will fall flat on their face.

    I think Obama’s win this time shows that the Democracts can win by playing to type rather than against type, as they have in the past with “Mike” Dukakis and “War Hero” John Kerry. Both politicians are actually intellectuals, and by playing against type they failed to appeal strongly to the people who go for that type, and alienated people who felt, correctly, that they were being talked down to.

    Obama’s voice in the campaign this year sounded pretty much the same as his voice in that radio interview in 2001, in his book from 2005, and in his earlier book from the 1990′s.

    All of which has little to do with the cadre of 30,000 volunteers looking for a gaffe, but if there’s anything that that cadre requires of future candidates, it’s that they be genuine, or that they be deeply, consistently false. Because that’s really the only way you’re going to be able to survive that kind of scrutiny.

  42. Takuan says:

    why would anyone be worried about redistribution of wealth anyway? If the well-to-do capitalist of today truly believes in capitalism, then they will stay wealthy and others will become wealthy. If on the other hand,those given a chance at creating wealth blow it, that money will end up back in the hands of the wealthy anyway.

  43. cory says:

    All of which has little to do with the cadre of 30,000 volunteers looking for a gaffe, but if there’s anything that that cadre requires of future candidates, it’s that they be genuine, or that they be deeply, consistently false. Because that’s really the only way you’re going to be able to survive that kind of scrutiny.

    This is a hugely important point, and I want to emphasize it: the effect of these deep video and audio searches for “gotchas” hits incumbents far harder than it affects challengers, which means, in 2012, it will hit Obama harder than his opponent. Here’s why:

    - If you are an incumbent, you have said more on the record
    - If you are a challenger, you know whose background to dig through
    - If you are an incumbent, you don’t.

    The 2012 republicans are already digging through Obama’s past, and they’ll be busily tagging-and-flagging for the next 4 years.

    Where is Obama’s team going to look at for vulnerabilities? They don’t have a target yet, and won’t for, at a guess, about 3 years; at which point they will still have many targets, not just one.

    Obama’s one advantage here is that he seems to deeply get the Internet, and there are few if any Republicans (or Democrats!) who do. And I can hope for one additional advantage: that he can be internally consistent in his message for the next 4 years. That requires that he also be right for the next 4 years, so, bummer about that. (Politics doesn’t deal softly with people who change their minds.)

  44. franith says:

    i would also point out that there is absolutely no need for volunteers to sit through that amount of crap. The software for automatically transcribing audio and video is kicking around already and it’s not too bad. Text search for audio on youtube is not far away…

  45. james_joyce says:

    noen,

    These days one need simply point to the smoldering ruins of our global economy. When an experiment fails real scientists adjust their theories in light of hard realism. Ideologues and libertarians do the opposite.

    Except that Austrian-school economists have been predicting this since 2001. Their explanation (which, as you might have guessed, I agree with) is that the Federal Reserve is the main culprit by their loose monetary policy, which in this case was funneled into housing because of the various policies and institutions that happened to be around at the time.

    As soon as Greenspan lowered the rate to 1% and kept it there, the Austrian-school economists raised the alarm bells. They were virtually the only ones to do so… virtually every Democrat and Republican economist denied there was a problem until it was too late. Watch any clip with Peter Schiff on any talking-head show in the last half decade, for example.

    And yes, I understand that there were some left economists that also predicted this. All I’m pointing out is that this recession is not clearly due to free-market capitalism, despite mainstream protestations. You can make that argument, and we can have a nice back-and-forth, but this isn’t a smoking gun.

  46. musicman says:

    Adding to #13, software like that which http://pad.ma/ use and produce, also help in these situations. I don’t want to make it easier for the GOP, but I think that the perceived time taken will decrease significantly – especially if you can get people working on it right now…

    That old hoary – a stitch in time saves nine – comes to mind. Since the whole damn thing is going this way anyway, would a more transparent democracy have a decentralised system like this operating for all currently elected officials – so they are ALL under scrutiny?

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