[FoRK] The Looter's War on Selfishness

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Mar 23 16:15:28 PDT 2009

J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Mar 21, 2009, at 9:02 AM, Stephen Williams wrote:
>> It is being argued that the unregulated nature of the current 
>> situation is what is creating these mega-boom/bust cycles.  We'd be 
>> better off with small, more natural ones perhaps.
> The "unregulated nature"? The problem is not the lack of regulation -- 
> that assertion should be laughable on its face -- but the vast 
> mountains of ill-conceived, counter-productive, and stupid regulation, 
> and enforcement of said regulations that has long been captured by 
> politically well-connected business interests. As long as people 
> naively think the problem is lack of regulation instead of incompetent 
> and corrupt hyper-regulation, this situation will not be fixed.
Whether or not a particular segment is over or under regulated is a 
separate issue, and probably varies by industry.  Clearly, I meant that 
banking and investment have, in the area of CDS and similar instruments, 
been effectively unregulated.  The fact is that AIG, because it had 
acquired a little thrift a few years ago, was able to end up regulated 
by an agency with a single person doing relevant oversight.  That hardly 
sounds like too much regulation. 

Regulations, not being enforced regularly by regulators are not 
regulating, really resulting in unregulated runs of ruinous ritual.  
Ra!  Ra!  Rats!
> The problem of bad regulation is orthogonal as to why there are 
> boom-bust cycles, and much of the accelerating boom-bust cycle is an 
> expected consequence of accelerating technological advancement for 
> reasons that should be obvious. This has been hypothesized for 
> decades. You can get rid of them by damping the rate technological 
> innovation, but that does not seem like much of an improvement.  
> However, part of it is just the perverse economic incentives created 
> by government manifesting unintended (but mostly predictable) 
> consequences.
I _want_ boom-bust cycles for technology, and to some extent cultural, 
rebirth and creative turnover.  Reverse economy of scale is great when 
it allows just-in-time viability of new, better ideas.  It is when there 
is land grab or pyramid or monopoly or some other sickness in the market 
that I get uncomfortable.  Those are not healthy, even if they naturally 
occur.  These seem to happen more often with haphazard deregulation than 
over regulation, however I can see it both ways.  Transportation 
(shipping particularly), telephone, and cell service were all over 
regulated for far too long, for instance.  Those are not healthy, even 
if they naturally occur.  Sometimes it seems that perverse incentives 
abound, caused by more than poor regulation.
> Cheers,
> J. Andrew Rogers


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