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Ether Mind

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Crisis

I thought that a crisis was the moment when a number of trends suddenly converged to create a SHTF moment.

Apparently, the consensus definition of a crisis includes pretending that the problem isn't one of our making and that it can actually be fixed with stopgap measures, and then running about like chickens with our heads cut off.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Somewhat relevant Von Mises quote

"The amount of money to be expended in every branch of profit-seeking business is determined by the behavior of the consumers. If the automobile industry were to treble the capital employed, it would certainly improve the services it renders to the public. There would be more cars available. But this expansion of the industry would withhold capital from other branches of production in which it could fill more urgent wants of the consumers. This fact would render the expansion of the automobile industry unprofitable and increase profits in other branches of business." - Human Action p. 309

Friday, November 21, 2008

Corporate Taxes

Let us define three all-encompassing categories of resource usage: consumption, investment, and government services. Draw the lines wherever you see fit.

Ideally, the purpose of taxes is to shift resources from consumption to government services.

Corporations do not consume anything.

Ergo, taxing corporations shifts resources away from investment rather than consumption.

In an ideal (from a progressive* standpoint?) economy, this would be flawed reasoning; the corporations would simply reduce profits and the shareholders would reduce consumption by a corresponding amount. Investment would be unchanged.

In an ideal (from the standpoint of someone who understands basic economics, ie not a progressive) but simplistic economy, taxes would reduce consumption and investment by X and Y amounts, and the values X and Y would be constant no matter where the taxes were applied.

As models get more advanced, but maintain the pretense of superrationality**, various things happen. Corporations are by definition owned by people who devote a higher proportion of resources to investment. Thus taxing them reduces the ratio of investment to consumption even more than taxing wealthy individuals, many of whom are playboys, heiresses and dilettantes of various stripes.

Without perfect rationality, does the same amount of taxation on the same individual have a different effect if it is taken from the corporation rather than from dividend income? What is the effect? Do the corporations reduce profits solely or do they also reduce their own investment?

Would investment increase because of lower required rates of return? Unlike most of the absurdly simple things that politicians can't seem to grasp, this isn't immediately obvious.

At any rate, it's simpler just to soak the rich rather than indirectly soaking the rich via corporate taxes. Plus think of all the effort that it takes to do corporate taxes in the first place! There's like a million accountants working on them around the clock!

*What I've settled on as a name for American socialism

**Perfect information and perfect decisionmaking

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stereotypes

Sometimes stereotypes are a historical ideal, the safest assumption, or the most likely value of some quality.

Other times, they refer not to individuals but to the behavior of the group as a whole. It doesn't matter if only 20% of the Huns are bloodthirsty warriors; a horde of them is dangerous.

As Von Mises said, selling lottery tickets is not gambling.

Skynet

1) If we define natural rights as those rights which man would enjoy if he were alone in the world,

Then you can guarantee that his rights are never violated by destroying all other men.

//------------------------------

2) If one's only goal is to stop injustice,

Then the only course of action is to punish all injustice by death until only one man remains.

//----------------------------

No one would enjoy the second result. Although not quite reductio ad absurdum, this is a strong counterargument to the idea that we have a duty to prevent evil.

End of the world 2

"Police say a dad encouraged two toddlers to beat each other and caught the fight on tape." - CNN

Of course CNN is making a bigger deal out of it than it is, which is a feat. I mean, it's obviously child abuse, and they should probably throw the father in the Octagon for a few rounds and then force him to go to parenting classes. But one incident is not going to psychologically scar the children unless CPS takes them, which I can only assume has already happened. They're not physically hurt either.

EDIT: Oh, and after showing the video for our amusement and CNN's profit, they say that it should never have been on youtube and only immature people would watch it. Ok, I know journalists are idiots, hypocrites, and liars, but how can you say that with a straight face? It's ok for CNN to show a video but not youtube? Are you aware that you just insulted your audience and yourselves? I couldn't say that with a straight face. I just couldn't.

Did I mention the father put it on youtube? He's f***tarded too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

End of the world as we know it

"This summer, Karen, a surveyor, agreed to have her face injected with millions of microscopic new skin cells, cultured from babies' foreskins, as part of a trial into a new cosmetic procedure."

"With just a few clicks of the remote, TiVo users can pause their program, order a pizza, and then sit back, relax, and return to their favorite show without missing a single second..."

"But then, when an SYM walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman, it turns out to be nothing like that. The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, a threesome, or a temporary place to live."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Worst analogy ever

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/11/that-old-house.html

This is quite possibly the worst analogy I've ever seen. It would be better as an analogy for statism. Cuz, ya know, you don't really own your house. You're just leasing it from the government, and it can be taken back for failure to pay rent or for the 'public' good. That's the meaning of the term "real estate."

I saw a sign in a picture that said "Gay marriage is a civil right." No, you see, it's not. A civil right is a right that is granted by the government. Gay marriage is not granted by the government; ergo it's not a civil right.

(The triumph of logic will take another millenium because of things like this. People accept unproven statements of fancy and it falls to the people with actual knowledge to disprove an infinite number of fallacies, which is itself a thankless task that never ends. Just... don't believe things without some sort of rationale.)

Anyway, one could reasonably argue that gay marriage is a natural right, depending on various things, but not a civil right.

What is civil marriage? It is a government license that comes with various restrictions and privileges. It has several purposes:
1) It serves the economic purpose of the marriage contract without requiring a tribal society, fickle common law, or actual written prenups. God Forbid you actually scan over a legal document and sign it. Common Law marriage prevents people from escaping government regulation by default.
2) It allows feminists or other interest groups to exert social pressure, since people's marriages are now controlled by the majority opinion, rather than an understanding between husband and wife.

Arguably the system now is better than the traditional system, but it's inferior to a system where couples sign prenups and have the priest sprinkle water on them.

So, essentially, gays want these positive privileges and benefits and restrictions. I don't have a problem specifically with gay marriage, since God can strike them down if He sees fit. In fact, legalizing gay marriage would let the GOP pick up a whole .5% of the voters who are gay, but not thieves or liars.

Those voters might become disillusioned and vote for Ron Paul or something, but it's a chance we have to take.

The better solution would be the end of civil marriage, which has evolved somewhat over time. Of course, no one can comprehend that. But how will we get married if the State of California doesn't allow it??? Well, the State of California didn't exist in 1000 BC, but people still got married. I'm sure you can figure out how to
1) Cohabitate
2) Ovulate, Copulate, and Overpopulate
3) Sign a contract that prevents one spouse from running off and leaving the children etc.

The last one's not a problem specifically for gay couples. (Adoption is an issue for heteros as well so STFU with your objection.)

Well, I've already belabored all the consequences and side effects of ending marriage licensing, so I'll stop here. The takeaway is: Don't make up nonsensical analogies.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Words to lie with, part something

"Ensure"

I have never seen anyone use this word in a way that tried to convey accurate information. The denotation itself may be flawed.

So remember, if someone wants to ensure that a praiseworthy goal is met, they're lying to you.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Eloquence

When a reporter asked Obama if he had spoken with any ex-presidents since his election on Tuesday, he responded that he had spoken to all former presidents "that are living."

"I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances," he said. - CNN

So it begins.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

5th of November

I find that I don't really care. Let's get to work undermining the Obama administration.

1) Split the Union democrats away from him.

2) Complain profusely when the Filibuster is repealed

3) Take the initiative by proposing various bills that the Democrats will scoff at and refuse to allow out of committee. They can only hold one thought in their feeble minds at one time, and they're used to blindly opposing Republican ideas, so they will forget that they have their own agenda.

4) Try to get the Governers' association to oppose Federal usurption for once. Is that a word? Usurption?

5) Encourage Obama's tendency to do absolutely nothing of substance by loudly applauding his "summits," "negotiations" and "panels."

In your face, Red State.

I'm going to take this opportunity to make fun of Red State one last time.

"I'm also aware that a fair number of people are going to take this opportunity to attempt to savagely mock my side of the political spectrum in general and this site in particular (and a few may even spare a mock or two for myself),"

because you're the dumbest contributor to the site, and possibly the internet. I wouldn't even call the other posters there "dumb," usually.

"all of which is going to be an active annoyance for the next week or so, and a low-grade one for somewhat longer. We'll also have to listen to the inevitable you-should-do-it-my-way people,"

You mean the people who wanted to nominate someone decent? Like Romney, Giuliani, or even (pragmatically, though I can't stand him) Huckabee? Hell Ron Paul might've had a fighting chance given that he predicted the current economic crisis and had the solution to it a year ago.

"[A]ll the folks who told us McCain was the man, from Christopher Buckley to New Hampshire's primary voters, had no difficulty abandoning him for Obama." - Mark Steyn. (lifted from VP)

"although that's actually fairly typical in the internet anyway. All in all, this is why people avoid defeats; they're pains in the fundament."

No, people avoid defeat because, by definition, it's something you avoid. We want to enact certain government policies, and it doesn't matter who complains later.

"And that's pretty much it. Heck, I'm not even numb. Believe me, I'm surprised by this, too."

Surprised? Really? You thought McCain was going to win? Delusions. Red Staters told me they didn't want my vote, and ya know, I didn't vote. In your faces.

"Moe Lane"

As always. Here's a good time to reiterate a statistical theorem I developed:

Assumption 1) There are X% of voters who are, colloquially, morons.

Assumption 2) Those voters have no way of determining which candidate is better.

Conclusion 1) Those voters will be split evenly between the two candidates.

Conclusion 2) There are an equal number of morons in each party.

Applying that theorem to Moe Lane is an exercise left to the reader. If he notices this, which I doubt, he may wonder why I hate him so much, when people like Andrew Sullivan are less honest and more weak-minded and selfish.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Price of Justice

"A legal system that makes contracts to cheap to create will lead to too much taxpayer money being wasted on contract litigation." - TechLiberation.com

Huh. Obviously, all costs should be borne by the parties involved in the lawsuits. It may seem unfair to make innocent people pay for justice, but under the current system, innocent people (taxpayers) are paying for justice anyway.

There are a few side effects to consider, but they're not really my problem.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Note to self

Public goods (including IP in the absence of protective law) will be produced on commission for trade groups etc. This will eliminate entrepreneurial risk for artists.