The greatest thread on non-Usenet internet on Eisenhower, Communism and the conspiracist environment in the mid 20th century.


Some overly terse writing by your humble blogger appears to have kicked-off a bit of a ruckus in the comments. I will try to explain myself more eloquently.

Recent American history is plagued by dishonesty. One of my guiding principles when thinking about recent American history is to assume that every prominent American from the mid-20s to the mid-50s found a way to make himself acceptable to the communists. If an American during this period was unable to find a way to make himself acceptable to the communists, he wouldn’t have been prominent.

Even the conservative movement spent much of this time period appeasing the communists. Strange, no? (Even stranger, this is considered an achievement by conservatives).

Vladimir sums up this idea nicely in the comments:

The question was whether the leftist dominance in the intellectual circles — and consequently in the federal bureaucracies, academia, foundations, etc. — would…

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Reply to Aretae on Immigration

“You don’t know, I don’t know. Glad we cleared that up.” — Aretae

I don’t even know whether the sun will rise tomorrow.
Yeah the above is obviously a dumb thing to say, just like yours was. We “know” things on a probabilistic stale. So yes, long-term prediction is an insane thing to
do. However, that should make us wearier when fiddling with the _present_ and the politicos have fucked with the present with the 1965 Immigration act.
So, we are obliged to try to analyze the situation.

So, here’s my shot:

Putnam showed that diversity reduces trust and solidarity. Some other folks showed that trust is negatively correlated with the amount of regulation though obviously its also negatively correlated with willingness to pay for welfare of out-groups.
We know that productivity (marginal product -> income) is strongly correlated with IQ, and a host of other positive things are as well.

Now, to take a break, let me pause and say that I completely agree with the purely economic (as opposed to political economy) analysis that you presented –
immigrants are mostly a net gain.

However, we are concerned not simply with wealth, but the ability to keep increasing wealth – in other words, THE SYSTEM.

So, how does the influx of diverse out-groups affect THE SYSTEM in regards to regulation, whether in terms of affirmative action payoffs, further reduction in
private property rights (to discriminate), reduction in trust perhaps leading to further social regulation (nanny statism, NIMBYism), and predictability in
enforcement of even bad rules?

I say all these things trend towards the negative when you reduce the percentage of American of European ancestry and increase the percentage of Mexicans.
So imagine a simple bell curve – wealth gains carry on with immigration – and then the economics is overwhelmed by the politics and wealth drops off due to
institutional corruption, ethnic hostility, increase in security infrastructure (check out South Africa), increase in the risk and insurance premia, which negatively affect investment which, by your own compounding rule matter IMMENSELY.

I don’t know how you can be so glib in completely ignoring this META programming of the SYSTEM to a _possible_ state detrimental to further wealth gains far into the future. I understand that you may be frustrated with and discount the viewpoints of immigration opponents who can’t seem to get their heads around Ricardian

comparative advantage and the empirical data on immigrants’ assistance to “the economy.”
However, the more sophisticated argument is meta. Now, of course you can wave your hands and say well, these things aren’t an issue if we don’t give immigrants the vote, and take away welfare. Sure, but this is massive, massive fraud. Why? Well, cause you are discounting actual asymptotic harm to Americans by promising some silly CAMPAIGN to weed out things which are around 130 years old – welfare, voting rights being harder to remove with Egalitarian morality as currently fashionable.

Here’s another issue – the current dispensation is not derived from an analysis like yours – its derived from a combination of
regular, commercial self-interest AND naked, cynical exploitation
of pure numbers to re-inforce a certain political coalition as the
expense of other coalitions. In simple words, Democrats did 1965
to execute exactly the situation RSF and I are warning about.

And another one – what possible chance is there to keep a no-voting rights
rule enforced (even if this was somehow achieved), when the market for
votes-not-granted keeps getting larger?

In short, you MUST solve for these possbilities. You can’t hand-wave it away.
That would be as misguided and criminal as enforcing regulations that reduce
the compound growth rate by 1% every year.

Reverend Bayes Eschews Politics

Most people can’t do bayesian inference properly. in politics bayesian-type inference is
grotesquely misused. Therefore, I think the standard for public discourse should
discourage this inference. I may be completely wrong about my interpretation.
But im specifically talking about things like trusting of sources, corrupting influences etc.
Sides are able to simply dismiss fully legitimate arguments from their rivals by identifying
the specific arguments with the most disreputable and/or disliked institution/person
making that argument, eg. identifying free trade with Heritage or AEI, anti-torture arguments
with ACLU (bad in some people’s worldviews).
We should simply strive to answer the best arguments on the other side, and once we’re fully
and completely confident that we have made a good-faith effort to address the best argument,
and all we get in return is ad-hominem and/or bad faith…should we START to make bayesian
inferences about sources, corrupting influences, follow-the-money thinking, etc.

Libertarian Party – Ground Troops for Liberty

Stop being a “political” party in the traditional sense. Get out in front of any issue which is popular or populist with a libertarian bent – whether its the latest licensing outrage that Institute for Justice is fighting – let them fight in the courts while you highlight the fight and bring it to the ground! Just like ACORN is the thug arm of leftist shakedown politics, the LP should be ground troops for libertarian causes – highlighting every major issue strategically using all resources available – youtube, blogs, money bombs for causes, and campaigning. In short, make LIBERTY YOUR CAUSE, not political victory. This is the only viable, and hell, USEFUL model I see for the Libertarian Party.

Another way to successfully mimic ACORN and the union coalition tactics would be in fighting corporatism – go and protest in front of corporate headquarters and CEO’s homes.
The banners could read something like

“GE – We bring subsidies to life!”
“Bank of America – we convert your tax dollars to our bonuses”

This would have the advantage of stealing the anti-corporate issue from the mindless left and diverting it for usage in a libertarian paradigm.

Any more ideas?

Well, whatever else we can think of, I’m reasonably certain in my opinion that the Libertarian Party should stop being a political party
and become an activist brigade.

Stupidity v Malice

Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity

Old quote, right? We’ve all heard it.

Gretchen Wilson of Fox News Fox and Friends was caught acting extremely dumb by Jon Stewart.
He googles her and finds out she is a class valedictorian, Stanford alum, classical violinist.
me: WTF!??!?!
This definitely calls for a re-evaluation of the probability of the statement above.
Think of it this way: Its very likely that those in power are at least one Standard Deviation above
the average thereby much smarter. So is it not more likely that their support
for policies that are bad for the common good are more likely due to malice
rather than stupidity? Of course ‘stupidity’ and ‘malice’ do not complete
the set of possibilities that answer for the above. ‘Ignorance’ can also be included.

To put it shortly: Does kim jong il know about the benefits of free markets?
Okay thats too easy, you won’t find many people who disagree with the
notion that Ol’ kim is EVIL, not (just?) stupid.

UPDATE: Video of Stewart and Gretchen HERE
Forward halfway.

The Death of the Repeal-Replace Movement

Lets see what we have here:
1) A healthy majority of voters oppose ObamaCare
2) Around 40% of Independent voters say ObamaCare is the main issue this fall affecting their voting pattern
3) A conservative electoral wave threatening to sweep away even safer Democrats this fall.

And what does the Republican Party do?


Release a wimpy, cowardly, full-of-rhetoric, short-of-solids “Pledge“.

They pledged to continue the ban on pre-existing conditions in health care. Do you know what that means? Thats the NUCLEUS of the package that is ObamaCare. If they can’t repeal ObamaCare (and of course with Obama they can’t) then why even bring that up? Include some crap about defunding and delaying. Why mention keeping the very heart of ObamaCare? Do you realize that if they want to keep that, the rest of the package stays? The individual mandate, the subsidies?

Here’s a quote from the pathetic Pledge:

We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition…

More Info HERE

So, you’d think that after the strong resistance and disgust of conservative bloggers towards ObamaCare, they would be screaming from the rooftops about how stupid, feckless, cowardly, and , did I say stupid this healthcare pledge is? Don’t bother. They are far more interested in sucking
elephant dick

I tried to alert the high and mighty of conservative bloggers to this outrageous pledge. But the commenters had so many elephant cocks in their mouths, that they dissed me off. The kinder ones told me that I was paranoid, and this was all insinuation and we should withhold judgment till we get legislative details after Congress is seated post-election, like so:

Until we see details, speculating that a sentence in the pledge can only mean the worst possible interpretation is simply a foolish knee-jerk reaction.

Fine then, I thought. The Rs are probably just wimpin’ it out so as to not expose themselves too much for donk attacks.
But then I flipped thru to FoxNews and what do I see? A Republican Kevin McCarthy on Hannity repeating the talking point about banning insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions.

So these feckless traitors have adopted the key plank of the Progressive healthcare platform and have passed it off as conservative or libertarian. Simply disgusting. Oh God how I deluded myself that with these crazy-ass Tea Party candidates, the establishment elephants would be stopped from adopting more Proggie planks, but no. Its happened again, AND NO ONE SEEMS TO HAVE NOTICED, besides Reason Mag and Progressive think tank ThinkProgress

And whats worse? Could it be any worse? Oh yes, they have planned to repeal ObamaCare, and replace it.
Replace it with what? Something that bans discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. This is so fucking hilarious in a fuck-me-sideways kinda way that I’m paralyzed. Paralyzed by the tragicomedy. Please make it stop!

As another proggie blogger said, the Republicans do not aim to repeal-and-replace, but Repeal and Replicate

Goodnight America

Bankers and Muslims

Time to shoot from the hips.

With almost zero knowledge, I’m going to posit two extremely cynical theories of Islamic banking and its prohibition on charging interest (usury)

  1. Plain Vanilla Public Choice
  2. Public Choice w/ Anti-semitism

As anyone with basic financial knowledge can guess, when you prohibit interest, it doesn’t just disappear. It gets hidden behind multitudes of other arrangements. Wall st may seem like a recent invention, but financial trickery is as old as whoring. You can find explanations of how profit is made on loans when ‘interest’ is prohibited by googling. The question we are asking here is

How did that come about?

The traditional theory is that Judaism and Christianity, charging interest was seen as exploitation and hence, evil. The term usury was reserved for this practice which we find harmless today. And due to this precedent, Islam being largely a derivative religion, simply adopted this ethos wholesale. This sounds reasonable (and, is probably true) but its boring, so who cares? Lets get to the fun part.

  • Plain Vanilla Public Choice
  • Muhammad probably had banker friends. When he was crafting his religion (sorry, receiving verses from God himself), various interest and ethnic groups
    probably vied for power and influence when it became clear that the Muslims were not going anywhere, and were in fact growing rapidly.

    We need to make peace with this new menace! Who cares which God he asks us to worship? Thats for those fools in the desert. Us elites will simply lobby for some favors and accept his religion and retain our elite positions within society.

    So the bankers got together and formed their lobby – Medina Bankers Society and hired the best Jewish lawyers! They met with the Muslims and asked them for a meeting with Muhammad. The Prophet agreed and so they met. The bankers offered financing for Muhammad’s raiding expeditions and for his companions in Medina.
    Muhammad agreed and Allah promptly sent down verses condemning usury. voila!

  • Public Choice w/ Anti-semitism
  • In the more cynical imagination, banking (and finance generally) was probably dominated by Jews. The Arab bankers noticed Muhammad’s feud and conflict with the Jews in Medina, and set out to exploit this enmity to deal a non-market blow to their ethnic banking competitors. They approached Muhammad, let him know of the ‘treachery’ of them Jews! And voila, Allah sent down verses condemning and banning usury, which was simply copied over from the Old Testament (oh the irony!) , which wiped out the Jewish bankers and let the Arab bankers design a complicated regulated framework for finance thus cartelizing the industry in the Muslim world since then.

    Efficacy and Politics of Sanctions

    Sanctions don’t work. Thats been demonstrated time and time again.
    So the only question that remains is the following:

    Why do nations still use sanctions?

    My guess is :
    1 – There is public pressure to “do something”
    2 – Sanctions are a low-cost (to the imposer) way to signal toughness
    and to “do something”.

    Regardless of how ineffective sanctions are. They will persist for the following reasons:

    1–The incentives of the political class to show ‘leadership’ and ‘resolve’
    2–The rational irrationality of voters to indulge in anti-foreign bias
    but without any understanding of their efficacy. Its simple in-group v out-group aggressive signaling.

    Sanctions don’t harm the political class of the sanctioned country directly, which is
    what the intention is. If you increase trade barriers to oil imports from the country, or ban
    such trade, you can be sure that the ruling class will not go without oil, but the populace will.
    Almost all sanctions harm the common people in a nation far far more than the political class.
    And since this has always been the case, its reasonable to accept that the foreign policy flaks
    know this. If thats the case, what is the model that incorporates this insight and yet harms
    the political class of the sanctioned nation?

    Here is how:

    Sanction country X, X’s citizens suffer -> citizens angry with X’s political class
    -> demand their heads.

    So the way that sanctions work, in theory is to instigate the populace to rise up against the tyranny
    of their political class. Now, has this ever happened due to sanctions? Maybe.

    But as David Henderson
    provides a simple thought experiment that makes this seem unlikely to be true.
    Imagine you are a common citizen (im pretty sure you are) in a rice-eating country X.
    Country X depends on Country Y for 90% of its rice. Country Y stops selling rice to X.
    You hear it in the news, on the radio, read it in the blogs, etc.
    At the grocer’s, you are forced to do without your staple dietary ingredient.

    Who the hell do you curse?

    I know I would obviously curse Y. They sanctioned me! I hear it in the news! And I suffer
    a direct traceable loss to my utility from it. Now, to be sure, for many sanctions, a direct
    causal link is hard to explain to the common citizen. It might involve too many chains of ‘economese’
    reasoning. But in the listed thought experiment, its obvious that Xs citizens will not rise up against
    its political class or even blame it. And considering that most nations can simply demagogue the
    sanctioning country and make its citizens believe that the political class is not responsible
    for their plight, sanctions don’t sound so appealing anymore. America imposed sanctions on India
    and Pakistan after their nuclear tests in 1998. Did the Pakistani and Indian states have
    trouble convincing their citizens that America was being evil and/or stupid for sanctioning them?
    So where are the cases in which sanctions have achieved their intended objective?
    Which government is not good at propaganda?

    If there’s one thing the state is good at, its propaganda.

    The End of Economic Growth

    Are there limits to growth?

    What does the end of economic growth look like? What is the ultimate goal of economic growth? The ultimate end point. This is only a theoretical question, by the way, as we know that physical limitations are the ultimate constraint to growth. The empirical end will look quite different. But I believe that it will asymptote to what the theory predicts.

    One way to think about this is the following:

    Go back to ECON 101, first lesson. What do you find? Scarcity – limited resources, unlimited wants. Aha, so the ultimate end of economic growth is simply the elimination of scarcity! Of course physically this is impossible. But is it? Well two ways it might not be:

    1. We all get assimilated by The Borg, which psychologically limits our wants to a finite manageable list.
    2. We might be able to trace psychological-to-physical mappings using Virtual Reality.Stone Age for the future

    As Robin Hanson has shown, even virtual reality depends on physical matter for its production – computational power, etc. Assuming this is the final word on this matter, we can find our way out of this problem by assuming a stabilized human population. Now, what does the empirical elimination of scarcity do for you? Well, it could reasonably mean that the modern necessities of life – food, shelter, clothing, transportation would be almost completely free (say, produced by solar-power consuming robots?). Virtual reality could get you all the sexual pleasure that you’d want? [Fill in your own scenario for futuristic sexual fulfillment.] My presently infertile imagination refuses to furnish further possibilities right now.

    That empirical reality is, I think, asymptotic to the elimination of scarcity.

    Can you imagine?