Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Your conclusion that libertarianism doesn't work is based on the premise that people are stupid. And that premise is true but misleading. Some people are stupid across the board, but those people are pretty rare. Generally, most people are smart in areas where it matters to them and ignorant in areas that don't. In "The Use of Knowledge in Society", Hayak described this as "the particular circumstances of time and place". It's also called, "the local knowledge problem." Which is to say that markets excel where local knowledge can be used efficiently.
An example: imagine a parts assembler who works for a machine manufacturer. Imagine that the assembler is taught that the optimal placement of the tools he's not using is at some location. Let's call that spot "location X". But in his part of the shop due to forces that no one could have imagined, location X has a lot of vibrations. And it causes his tools to fall a LOT causing the worker to be less efficient because he's constantly stopping to pick up his tools. So the worker decides to place his tools at some other spot, (location Y) that is much more stable but not as convenient as location X.
Now it's too easy for someone far away evaluating that worker to conclude that he's an idiot because he doesn't put his tools in the optimal spot he was taught. But what's really going on is that the worker is exercising knowledge of the particular circumstances of his work place. And what looks idiotic from afar is actually optimal when local knowledge is accounted for.
IMHO, most of the claims that "people are stupid" are of this type. We look at people far away from us and do not understand why they do what they do and proclaim that they are dumb. But what's really going on is that we are arrogant in presuming to understand all the local knowledge that they take advantage of but that is invisible to us.
I wonder how often we'd conclude that people are stupid if we were a little more humble about what we presume to know about them.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Thank you for your post. I want so badly to agree with you. I want what you are saying to be the end of the discussion on depression. But I can’t get there.
As far as I’m aware, I have never suffered from clinical depression. I have had periods in which I was sad or down. But I’ve never looked at the world the way that the depressed people in my life describe it. Yes life is hard, but the moments of joy are so much better than the moments of agony that it’s not even close. Yes, there are bad people in the world who attempt to impose themselves on me, but I can walk away. I am very much one of those people who "just doesn’t get it". I don’t get how people who are depressed can’t see that their attitudes are also a choice. I don’t get how they’re capable of forgetting all the wonderful things in their lives and remembering only the pain. That seems to me like a choice too. So I don’t get it.
But I do know what it’s like to be influenced by brain chemistry that completely changes my decision making process. I consume alcohol. And I have, on occasion, been drunk. Reflecting on my decisions afterwards, it is amazing to me how the presence of that chemical completely changes how I see and value events and people in my life. I am not in complete control of my full faculties when that happens and only afterwards, when my entire brain is available to me, does the stupidity of my decisions suddenly become obvious.
But one need not drink to have this experience. I have learned to forgive the decisions that I make while dreaming. In my dreams I have been a womanizer and a murderer. I’ve even been a woman trying to seduce my husband. Does these dreams mean that I am a womanizer while awake, or a murder, or attracted to men? I don’t think so. I think these are mostly random roles playing out while a significant portion of my mental faculties are not available. So I give myself permission to ignore the decisions I made in the dream.
And then I think of the movie “A Beautiful Mind”. If I were seeing and hearing people who weren’t actually there, how could I tell the difference? If I really believed that some figment of my mind was an actual person chasing me with a knife, would my running and screaming for help be something I “chose”?
Yes, we are both spiritual and physical beings. But when a critical part of our what allows us to make decisions is unavailable, it’s hard to call what happens a decision. At least not a fully informed and reasoned decision.
I look forward to the time when my depressed family members get their new bodies as promised in 2 Cor 5:1-5. I look forward to a time when that body won’t be corrupted by the fragility of this body, and when that fragility won’t create adverse decision making. But until then it’s really hard for me to accept that depressed decisions are the same thing as rational decisions. I’m not sure that depressed people are any more in control than drunk people are. And apart from heaven, my only hope is that humanity figures out (through medicine) how to resolve the brain chemistry imbalance that seems to be at the heart of this awful disease.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
The truth of the matter is that I probably wouldn't be writing this post at all and my blog would be sitting dormant for an even longer span of time. Except that, unexpectedly, a complete stranger requested that I blog something. So here it is.
A little context, I am an aspiring poker player. And to get better, I listen to The Thinking Poker podcast. And on a lark I happened to read the blog today where I saw this article. And having made an annual trip to Wisconsin for the last ten years (*), I thought I might share some of the things that make the drive much more survivable, and occasionally, pleasant. Here are the fairly quick thoughts that I had:
1) Break up your trip into 3 hour segments, with scheduled stops for at least 10-15 minutes to let the kids get pent up energy out. Regardless of your dietary requirements, McDonald’s playlands are blessings… except in Indiana where they’re apparently outlawed, since none seem to exist. Plan things like lunch and dinner around these stops.
2) Travel no more than 9 hours per day... meaning 9 hours on the road with kids belted in their seats. Stops will increase the total trip time. But doing this we can usually make about 500 miles a day.
3) At least once per travel day, give the kids some new thing to explore. Puzzle books and books on tape have worked for us. Self contained toys work also. Movies are an option but we try to limit those.
4) Have an ample supply of snacks. But ration them.
5) When you stop for the night, have options for the kids to do something fun. Looking forward to the evening’s activities is a benefit for both adults and kids. Swimming is (by far) our kids favorite.
6) Pack destination bags and overnight bags. The destination bags can remain in the vehicle not to be taken out until you get there. The overnight bags are the only things you should have to unload when you stop overnight. Eases the unpacking & repacking the vehicle when stopping.
The trip that we take is an 18 hour trip, and takes us 2 days each way. I’m not sure if these ideas can scale to a cross-country trip. But if I were going to make such a trip, I would start with this but then be flexible enough to decide if it’s wearing thin by day 4-5.
(*) Holy crap, we've been doing this for 10 years!?
Saturday, April 09, 2011
I recall both President Bush and President Obama arguing that the increased spending was a temporary measure required in a time of economic crisis. This is Keynesian economics. In the time of reduced aggregate demand, the government can temporarily increase its spending to restore aggregate demand until consumer spending comes back to normal. I don’t personally grok this argument. There are a lot of economists who disagree with it. Strongly. They suggest, instead, that increasing spending will simply prolong the problem, and they point to data that shows the great depression didn’t actually end until after WWII, some 15 years (or so) after it started.
But in this case, it matters little. The spending measures were made into law. And we can’t go back and change that.
Here’s the thing, though. If you buy the Keynesian argument that the spending increases were necessary and temporary, then shouldn’t we acknowledge the temporary part? You can argue that they may still be necessary. But if, as the administration proposes, the spending increases stay in place until 2021 (and beyond) on the idea that they’re still necessary that far out, doesn’t that give credence to the original criticism of the spending increases? That they’ve prolonged, and will continue to prolong the problem?
When I look at this chart, I can see no justification at all for continuing spending at these levels. If you believe these spending increases continue to be necessary, then how can you justify that they’ve helped. If they are no longer necessary, then how can you justify keeping them?
What possible reason could we have for not returning (eventually) to the spending levels that we had prior to the crisis?
Thursday, March 10, 2011