Aug 18

Middle East Experts wrong AGAIN.

The White House Monday confirmed all of Syria’s chemical weapons have been destroyed several weeks ahead of schedule. The destruction was completed by U.S. military and civilian experts aboard the M/V Cape Ray.

August 18 2014

We recognize, however, that more sincere defenders of the September 9 deal see great virtue in it. They argue, for example, that it will avert the need for military force (a threat most Americans did not want carried out anyway), that it will strip Assad of his chemical arms without fighting[1], and that it will force Putin to take ownership of the WMD question in Syria and thus obligate Russia to live up to better standards of global citizenship[2]. We find these to be optimistic and hopelessly naïve interpretations. It will be nearly impossible to move chemical weapons anywhere in the midst of a pitched civil war; moreover, the idea that the Putin regime cares anything for international norms or global citizenship beyond its own crudely defined interests is laughable on its face.

Nichols, Schindler, September 2013.

[1] “They” were right on both counts

[2] Nobody said that.

Perhaps that analytical methods that lead both of these gentlemen to support the invasion of Iraq need, like, a little reconsideration.

Aug 09

Sense of humor of economists: Brad Delong edition

[Adam] Smith claims that the system of natural liberty; with government restricted to the rule of law, infrastructure, defense, and education; is the best of all social arrangements.  Brad Delong.

Oh, a government restricted to just those few minor things: judges, cops, laws (such as those determining property rights and union control), transportation, power and water, the Army and Navy and all their procurement and drafts (impressment), and lets also throw in education. That hardly touches anything at all, right?  Leaves the economy to operate in a natural state? Because invading China to open up markets for a government monopoly opium business is somehow “hands-off” ?

A government like that of the USA or the UK during the height of laissez-faire, with “rule of law” that suppresses labor unions, infrastructure that favors some social  or ethnic groups over others, “defense” that involves world-wide military adventures to control markets and resources, and educational policy that  maintains class privileges is a very active participant in economic decision making. All governments are active participants in economics. The fiction of economics is that certain types of active government are consistent with “natural liberty” and therefore invisible or barely visible or at least not spoken of in polite company. Thus, the “free trade” era in the UK in  the 1850s as the invisible hand guides UK firms to invest in slave labor in the southern USA with slaves kept in bondage by relentless state violence and terror, participate in the East India Company opium monopoly, call the army out to kill union organizers, and address balance of payments issues by having the navy shell China to protect state supplied narcotics dealers. The epic injustices of this era are, according to the liberal economists, addressed by letting the government at long last intervene in the economy via regulations and social welfare.  But having accepted the axiom of right wing economics that the State that only enforces the Combination Acts and prosecutes the Opium War is not managing the economy, the liberal economists keep getting tangled up on their own shoelaces. The assumption is that social democracy inserts the government into economic activity and this view  depends on making  all the other stuff invisible.

By the way, Adam Smith favored government regulation of interest rates. He was not as impressed with the wisdom of rich men as were Victorian Imperialist Alfred Marshall or Professor Fred Hayek, the advocate of torture and rape in the name of freedom.

Jul 20

Admit it, Progressives have failed

On the up side, those days before his first term began were undoubtedly Obama’s best ones. Mentioning them, however, will remind the visitor of the next stage in his true believers’ political evolution: Disillusionment.

These words were written by Thomas Frank in July 2014 when African-American approval of President Obama remained at least at 84%, probably more. Approval among Hispanics, 66% - pretty much the same as approval by union households. But to be fair, whiny overprivileged, not too smart, old white Progressive men were deep in disappointment early on (even before the election)  and they are the only ones who matter, I guess.