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  • jonerik commented on the blog post Pride and Prejudice and the Market in Marriages

    2014-04-06 11:49:46View | Delete

    Another brilliant and insightful post, masaccio! Thanks too to TobyWollin for adding the points about Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair.

    To return to Gary Becker and the Chicago School, it looks to me that he was trying to make some sort of case for a “self-evidence” of a marriage market drawn from his assumption that most readers would accept his analogy. Your post demonstrates the fallacies and pitfalls of such an approach.

    It’s strange to me that economics holds such a grip on or imaginations, thinking and public policy but so little of it is based upon empirical evidence. Many of the basic truths of economics are little more than more or less “self-evidently true” simple axioms or propositions that can explain certain phenomenon in certain situations. We then hold these axioms or propositions to be true in any and all instances and make laws to make it wrong to try to change them, even when they are obviously no longer sufficient explanations for what is actually happening.

  • jonerik commented on the blog post Voting For Neoliberal Democrats As The Lesser Of Two Evils

    2014-03-30 15:04:01View | Delete

    I’m probably not the only person on this thread who gets inundated every day with e-mails from the DCCC, Obama for Change or whatever and many other candidates. What masaccio’s post here reveals most to me is that many people, maybe even many elected officials, do not comprehend that they represent a “neoliberal” governing philosophy. Many of the appeals I read in these e-mails sound like they are opposed to anything that might be “neoliberal”. Maybe that’s a cynical ploy trusting that the suckers will not know when they sacrifice their principles in some lame compromise is really part of their underlying philosophy. But I’m not ready to assume that’s the case with everyone holding national public office. Perhaps the FDL community could begin to identify, if possible, those pols who have not embraced this neoliberal philosophy and maybe begin to try to educate those who are open to listening how and where they err.

  • jonerik commented on the blog post Voting For Neoliberal Democrats As The Lesser Of Two Evils

    2014-03-30 11:50:50View | Delete

    I’ll take that as a motion and second that, PW!

  • jonerik commented on the diary post The society of money by cassiodorus.

    2014-03-17 06:50:15View | Delete

    Veblen’s “Absentee Ownership” is, in one sense, all about a society of money. Especially the chapter entitled “The Larger Use of Credit”. Veblen wrote that business capitalism was all about “sabotage”, something he writes about in “Engineers and the Price System.” Veblen held that the material technology is available to eliminate wont and privation upon [...]

  • jonerik commented on the diary post The society of money

    2014-03-16 18:16:45View | Delete

    I’d never heard of this essay by Marx. Good essay, cassiodorus. I wonder if you’ve read Thorstein Veblen’s essays on Clark, Marx and generally on marginalism and what Veblen described as studies in “hedonism”? Veblen included Irving Fisher as a hedonistic economist while challenging economics to be more like a science like biology in that [...]

  • jonerik commented on the diary post Control of Markets in Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics by masaccio.

    2014-03-14 06:00:50View | Delete

    I appreciate your efforts to unpack the confusion of neoliberal thinking, masaccio. But I think you give much of what passes for thinking too much credit for intellectual honesty. If we are going to be honest when speaking of markets, we would be exposing the “money markets” or the futures exchanges for what they are: [...]

  • We al know why the Senators left before listening to Mr. Rogen: the need to spend time asskissing wealthy donors so that the money gods can be appeased. If I as a lowly peon who occasionally has given modest campaign contributions to my various candidates get multiple daily e-mails urging me to meet the next deadline, what must it be like to be the person who’s being told he/she’s gotta raise $$ zillion before the next deadline or they’re toast? Apparently, there’s no time in this post Citizen’s United environment to focus on issues that actually might matter to human beings.

  • jonerik commented on the blog post Anarcho-Capitalism Versus Market Competition

    2014-03-02 13:36:01View | Delete

    No doubt about our policies closer to rate setting rate regulation form. When cable TV first was introduced, the access to customers was controlled by local government which granted local “franchises” i.e. monopolies, in the same way telephone companies obtained such franchises at the turn of the 20th century. These franchises also fixed the prices and often were exclusive franchises or more or less exclusive franchises. The franchises were really only for the right to locate wires in the right of way. It cost a lot of money to string up coaxial cable for the vast areas of the US. I lived in an area of Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities that only got cable to my part of town. Most of the rest of the town didn’t even have cable.

    In the 1960′s, the cable industry fought FCC control to the US Supreme Court. When the FCC got control, that pretty much ensured something like rate setting and regulation would prevail. The cable companies obviously like it that way.

  • jonerik commented on the blog post Anarcho-Capitalism Versus Market Competition

    2014-03-02 12:32:31View | Delete

    The phenomenon you compare between the cable company prices and the prices set in the street market remind me of Gardner Means’s theory of administered prices, which I believe was also adopted by John K. Galbraith in his books such as “The New Industrial State”. Galbraith interestingly advocated repeal of the antitrust laws because he believed they didn’t work and simply reinforced the behavior of the modern industrial corporate enterprise. It’s hard to disagree with him now that the antitrust laws have been reduced to a dead letter by the Chicago School and the US Supreme Court.

    I’m not sure there’s any difference between German Ordoliberalism and the policies we espouse in this country as you describe, masaccio. It’s my understanding that for most of the time after WWII, the Dept. of Justce adopted a policy of trying to make all markets defined as “concentrated” to be “workably competitive.” There was a period of heightened enforcement in the 1960′s and early 1970′s but this was stopped after the Chicago School and the right took after actions to enjoin or break up mergers. (cf. Robert Bork’s criticism of the US v. Brown Shoe Co. and that line of cases). I don’t get the sense there is anything like antitrust enforcement any more. On paper, I believe it’s still the “official policy” to simply make sure markets as defined by the DOJ are “workably competitive” and don’t have any serious barriers to entry. That’s what passes for competition even though the prices are all fixed and administered by the corporate oligopolist participants. I agree with you that what we get is the same effect as a monopoly. Maybe the Germans are better at delivering results with their policy rhetoric.

  • It’s my understanding that the movie “Wolf of Wall Street” was based upon the memoir of a Wall Street crook who worked with Swiss bankers to perform some of these tactics. They are depicted in the film and some of them are quite humorous. But the Swiss come across as basically accessories to racketeering enterprise, if not an actual racketeering enterprise.

  • jonerik commented on the blog post Markets and Regulations are Figure and Ground

    2014-02-23 12:20:15View | Delete

    The optical illusions are an excellent way of framing the problem. On a positive note, many people eventually can see that there is another way of seeing what they first see. I love the caption under Isaac’s photo. You have to have a sense of humor.

    I wonder if Isaac or his fellow misers have any sense of self-awareness. “Underbanked” as a euphemism for increased loan-sharking. Maybe he thinks that’s funny. The fellow does seem very smug and self-assured, if not self-aware.

  • jonerik commented on the diary post Making the Fears of the 1% Come True by spocko.

    2014-02-21 19:07:16View | Delete

    I’m not sure why this guy is called Tom “kristallnacht” Perkins. But his defensiveness and the defensiveness of others of the 1% tell me we have crossed a threshold where these individuals are concerned about their inability to justify why they are “entitled” to anything they have more than anyone else is “entitled” to Social [...]

  • Exhibit A as to why these howls of protest are all wet is MCI. MCI was one of the first “specialized common carriers” to offer long distance service in the mid-1970′s essentially as a reseller of AT&T’s bulk volume discount long distance services. MCI used to be described as a “law firm with an antennae.”

  • jonerik commented on the diary post Sunday Train: Portfolio Theory vs the Myth of Intermittent Wind Power by BruceMcF.

    2014-02-17 08:00:51View | Delete

    This article points out at the same time the myths and falsehoods which have prevented wind power from being developed in the US and at the same time the difficulty of explaining why these myths are false. The electric companies have used these falsehoods for decades to discourage small power production. Basic Electric, a generation [...]

  • jonerik commented on the blog post Simple Theories of Everything

    2014-02-02 18:18:18View | Delete

    I don’t that anyone can provide a completely satisfactory answer. But I don’t think there is anything like a “complete lack of any alternative system.” It’s not simply a matter of capitalism versus communism. We have plenty of examples of intermediate ways of regulating preferred outcomes other than unrestrained capitalism or Soviet style five year command and control plans.

    Masaccio’s complaint, which I agree with, is that the right has so fetishized “the market” in our political discourse, that any solutions to an economic problem are made to seem as if they are an embrace of Soviet totalitarianism. That’s completely foolish.

    I don’t know enough about the Chavez attempt to regulate oil prices in Venezuela. We don’t need Chavez to illustrate your point. We have no lack of examples of government interventions in the “market” which have backfired and had negative unintended consequences. But there also have been many successful ones, which the right likes to overlook. Do you think we would have the sort of settlement we see in places like Arizona or California if it had not been for massive government construction of dams to allow power generation, irrigation and availability of water in such otherwise uninhabitable places? hat’s just for starters.

    Our modern way of dealing with complex economic problems is to look to “market-like” solutions, like setting prices in a way to emulate market forces in an ideally competitive market. The idea of a carbon tax comes to mind. The principle of a carbon tax as I understand it is that it adds the externalized costs of energy consumption back into the price of energy. That way, consumers are not only contributing to paying for ways to subsidize alternatives to CO2 generating fossil fuel consumption but the higher price dampens demand for the fossil fuel resource relative to other competitive nonfossil fuel based resources.

    So I don’t view the issue as an “either/or” one: market versus command and control. It’s more a matter of creating regulatory or institutional mechanisms which correct the market (and the many instance of market failure) to bring about the outcomes we need and prefer.

  • jonerik commented on the diary post Citing DeSmogBlog Series, “FrackNation” Screening Cancelled by MN Film Festival by Steve Horn.

    2014-01-26 18:58:40View | Delete

    This is an interesting story. Trying to define what’s propaganda and what’s not is pretty tricky. After seeing Gasland I, I’m inclined to believe that any film that tries to defend what has been happening to the water supplies in and around communities where this occurs is presumptively propaganda. On the other hand, we are [...]

  • jonerik commented on the blog post The Myth of Efficient Markets

    2014-01-26 17:03:36View | Delete

    Mirowski book?

  • jonerik commented on the blog post The Myth of Efficient Markets

    2014-01-26 16:48:43View | Delete

    Not exactly. Freedom Industries was and is subject to a variety of regulations and regulatory oversight, at least on paper. For example, it is regulated by the EPA, which according to one source, found no violations from inspections over the past 5 years.

    According to the US Attorney for W VA, Booth Goodwin, ” a ‘negligent release of this kind could be a criminal violation.’” But the matter is still under investigation by at least three federal agencies-the EPA, the Chemical Safety and Hazardous Investigation Board and OSHA.

    Some of this fragmentation of regulatory authority is probably inevitable given the different types of regulation that exists, i.,e. safety and public health regulation is different from rate regulation or regulation of markets, like the SEC provides (or fails to). But some of this is deliberate, I believe to create “cracks” so that regulation is diluted while giving the public perception of serious oversight. And there is a lot of regulation which in the final analysis amounts to self regulation or “no regulation” because Congress doesn’t appropriate enough funds to staff an adequate level of oversight.

    This market is good, regulation is bad thinking is somewhat more complex in real life though I suspect that at the heart of the fake or fragmented regulation is a sentiment of “regulation is bad”.

  • jonerik commented on the blog post The Myth of Efficient Markets

    2014-01-26 13:48:20View | Delete

    Great post again masaccio. But I think the idea of “efficient markets” was really limited to financial markets and there it has not been received as economic orthodoxy. But I quite agree otherwise, the right has fetishized the concept of the “market” that is something intrinsically good and pure and “efficient” until government regulation contaminates it somehow. The examples you cite are clear evidence proving this notion false.

    On the other hand, we need remember that some of the examples you cite might also be given as examples of regulatory failure. From what I’ve read for example, the chemical which was released by Freedom Industries, though “hazardous” or maybe even “toxic” as we may understand as laypersons, was not classified as such by the federal and state regulatory authorities. But we’ve seen enough of bribery and corruption in the last few years to know that regulation is not always an adequate safeguard either. I suppose many a corrupted official has used this “efficient market” to rationalize his/her corruption.

  • jonerik commented on the blog post What You’re Watching on TV Tonight: “Sherlock”

    2014-01-20 18:28:33View | Delete

    Well, I really like the new Sherlock. And I love the Jeremy Britt Sherlock too. But I think the new actors and the way the writers have scripted the old stories, like old wine in new bottles, are terrific.

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