Saturday, May 10, 2014

Chanidget - Prospering Because/Despite Socialism

When Obama took a dump on Bastiat...I registered my disgust by coining the term "obamerate".  The next person in line for my disgust registration is the economist Ha-Joon Chang.  You can read the relevant article here... Economics Is A Political Argument.

Imagine you're walking around your neighborhood and you see Usain Bolt running pretty fast.  As he zips by, you realize that he's carrying a fat Korean midget on his back.  Would you think that Bolt is running fast because of, or despite, the midget?   If you think he's running fast because of the midget...then you're a chanidget.

My post in Bad Economics..."there is no economic theory that actually says that you shouldn’t have slavery" - Ha-Joon Chang

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Let's change the emphasis in the quote...

So there is no economic theory that actually says that you shouldn’t have slavery or child labour because all these are political, ethical judgments. - Ha-Joon Chang

  1. Adam Smith shared a theory that actually says that you shouldn't have slavery.  T/F
  2. His theory wasn't political.  T/F
  3. His theory wasn't ethical.  T/F
  4. His theory was economic.  T/F
  5. Therefore, HJC is clearly mistaken that all arguments against slavery are political, ethical judgements.  T/F

Adam Smith's arguments against slavery are clearly, blatantly and obviously independent of any political/ethical judgements.

The context bears the interpretation that HJC hasn't even heard of Adam Smith...
So I challenge my students to tell me one economic theory, Neo-Classical or Marxist or whatever, that can explain Singapore’s success. There is no such theory because Singaporean reality combines extreme elements of capitalism and socialism.
Really HJC?  No such theory?
The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security, is so powerful a principle, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often incumbers its operations. - Adam Smith
This frugality and good conduct, however, is upon most occasions, it appears from experience, sufficient to compensate, not only the private prodigality and misconduct of individuals, but the public extravagance of government. The uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition, the principle from which public and national, as well as private opulence is originally derived, is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things towards improvement, in spite both of the extravagance of government and of the greatest errors of administration. Like the unknown principle of animal life, it frequently restores health and vigour to the constitution, in spite, not only of the disease, but of the absurd prescriptions of the doctor. - Adam Smith
But though the profusion of government must, undoubtedly, have retarded the natural progress of England towards wealth and improvement, it has not been able to stop it. - Adam Smith
As the strongest bodies only can live and enjoy health under an unwholesome regimen, so the nations only that in every sort of industry have the greatest natural and acquired advantages can subsist and prosper under such taxes. Holland is the country in Europe in which they abound most, and which from peculiar circumstances continues to prosper, not by means of them, as has been most absurdly supposed, but in spite of them. - Adam Smith
The crown of Spain, by its share of the gold and silver, derived some revenue from its colonies from the moment of their first establishment. It was a revenue, too, of a nature to excite in human avidity the most extravagant expectations of still greater riches. The Spanish colonies, therefore, from the moment of their first establishment, attracted very much the attention of their mother country, while those of the other European nations were for a long time in a great measure neglected. The former did not, perhaps, thrive the better in consequence of this attention; nor the latter the worse in consequence of this neglect. - Adam Smith
The plenty and cheapness of good land are such powerful causes of prosperity that the very worst government is scarce capable of checking altogether the efficacy of their operation. - Adam Smith
Mr. Quesnai, who was himself a physician, and a very speculative physician, seems to have entertained a notion of the same kind concerning the political body, and to have imagined that it would thrive and prosper only under a certain precise regimen, the exact regimen of perfect liberty and perfect justice. He seems not to have considered that, in the political body, the natural effort which every man is continually making to better his own condition is a principle of preservation capable of preventing and correcting, in many respects, the bad effects of a political œconomy, in some degree, both partial and oppressive. Such a political œconomy, though it no doubt retards more or less, is not always capable of stopping altogether the natural progress of a nation towards wealth and prosperity, and still less of making it go backwards. If a nation could not prosper without the enjoyment of perfect liberty and perfect justice, there is not in the world a nation which could ever have prospered. - Adam Smith

It's one thing to say that Adam Smith was an idiot...and another thing entirely to pretend as if Adam Smith's theories don't even exist.

Personally I think Paul Samuelson was an idiot...but I'd have to be an even bigger idiot than he was to try and pretend as if his theories don't even exist.

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What do you think about the runner/midget analogy?  I suppose it's not very politically correct to use the word "midget" anymore.  But what are the chances that a "little person" will read this blog entry?  What are the chances that the word "chanidget" will catch on?  Hmmm...I wonder if wordsmiths are usually surprised when one of their words gets adopted.  Maybe some wordsmiths suffer from coinage hubris?  Not me, I would be extremely surprised if Steve Horwitz ever used the word "chanidget".

To be honest, I kinda have a midget fetish.  Within the past year I saw some pretty great films with midgets...
  • An Insignificant Harvey
  • The Station Agent
  • In Bruges
And I really love some of the surreal Jackass scenes with Wee Man.  One of my favorites is this bar fight.    The onlookers have such priceless expressions.

I think the world would be a much more wonder.ful place if more people went home and said, "honey, you're really not going to believe what I saw today..."

Getting back on topic...I stole the runner analogy from happyjuggler0 (Mingardi on Hayek)

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Imagine a marathon runner with 200 pounds of rocks in a backpack. He may have trouble putting one foot in front of the other, let alone running, and let alone actually finishing the marathon.

Now imagine he takes 100 pounds of rocks out of his backpack, leaving him with *only* 100 pounds of rocks left on his back. He then tries to resume running, and accelerates at a rapid pace compared to his previous pace.

He still has 100 pounds too much on his back. If he shed those extra 100 pounds of rocks left on his back, he would increase his pace even more. He would then have a fighting chance at eventually making it to that 26.2 mile point that many other less-burdened marathon runners reached a long time ago.

This is why China has boomed despite too much central planning. It started at a near zero pace, and then the government started taking burdens off of the backs of Chinese entrepreneurs and foreign investors, and therefore its pace accelerated dramatically.

When government becomes less burdensome, good things happen to economic prosperity.

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It was really hard to find that comment again.  I couldn't remember any of the terms to search for.  The only thing that came to mind was a ball and chain.

If you try and find this blog entry a year from now...which keyword are you going to be more likely to remember..."rocks" or "midget"?  My guess is "midget".  The image of the world's fastest man, a Jamaican, running with a fat Korean midget on his back will probably linger longer than the image of a marathon runner carrying 200 pounds of rocks in his backpack.

If we had crowd sponsored results...then I would be able to tag the econlib entry with the keyword "chanidget".

Just like the rest of the words that I've created..."chanidget" is pretty terrible.  Anybody is more than welcome to come up with a better word.  There's always room for improvement.  But as terrible as the word is...at least it meets the google alert standard.  Right now there are zero search results for "chanidget".  When I post this entry there will be exactly one.  So 100% of the search results will be entirely relevant to the question of whether countries prosper despite or because of their governments.

If a concept is important...then you really don't want it to be buried under a mountain of irrelevant search results.  The "exit" concept is a perfect example.  It should really be retagged because barely any of the search results are relevant.

Here's another page that I would tag with the word "chanidget"...
To use an analogy, if Michael Phelps were thrown into a pool of water with his hands tied and his legs shackled with a weighted ball, he would still be the world's best swimmer, even if he sank.  He would simply be prevented from swimming.  The problem is not swimmer failure, but the rope and shackle with weighted ball that prevent him from making the very movements required to swim effectively.  If government interventions distort information and provide perverse incentives, and in this situation economic actors make mistakes, the market is not leading them astray; the government interventions have discouraged the market's participants from weeding out error. - Peter Boettke, What Happened to "Efficient Markets"? 
Can you imagine Phelps trying to swim with a fat Korean midget on his back?

Which image would linger longer...the Phelps image or the Bolt image?

Hmmm...who would win an aquathlon (swim then run)...Phelps or Bolt?  Dang, now I'd really like to know the answer.  Can somebody please arrange the race?  Thanks.

I'm sure by now you're wondering how pragmatarianism would fit into the picture.  Or maybe the suspense already killed you.  If so, I'm sorry about that.

Clearly tax choice would give the midget powerful wings.  Bolt would be just like the god Mercury...except the wings wouldn't be on his shoes and helmet...they would be on the midget on his back.  

I literally just LOL'd trying to visualize it.  There I'd be walking around the neighborhood...mentally attaching epiphytes to naked trees...when all of a sudden...a Jamaican flashes by...but it wasn't Red Bull that gave him wings...it was the fat Korean midget on his back.

It would be like seeing my first shooting star...times a thousand.  It would seem, if only for a brief but brilliant and magical moment, that anything was truly possible.

If you need some help visualizing...check out this short video of Carl Lewis running on water and on the Statue of Liberty.  It's especially wonderful because the music is by Aphex Twin.

When you watch the video...just imagine that Lewis has a fat Korean midget on his back...and that the midget has wings.  What kind of wings?  Dragonfly?  Hummingbird?  Falcon?  Probably dragonfly.

Would this be a good commercial for pragmatarianism?  I think most people would be like "WTF???"  Heh.

Let's review...

  • Libertarianism: put the fat ass midget on a diet   
  • Anarcho-capitalism: get rid of the midget
  • Liberalism: the midget is too skinny
  • Pragmatarianism: give the midget wings

Give the midget wings!  

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