[FoRK] The Wrecking Crew - A Low, Dishonest Decade

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Jan 19 05:57:26 PST 2010

How ironic.

SO Michael opines:

> "Yes, yes...  The heroes are all on one side, and the villains are  
> all on the other.

Stephen quotes Moyers in reply:

> "President Obama's made plenty of mistakes during his first year,  
> and > we've critiqued them frequently here on the JOURNAL"

Hmmm....  so Stephen, what you're saying is that by making this thin  
disclaimer, Moyers is demonstrating...  what?  That he's, ahem, "fair  
and balanced?"


This is no more convincing than when e.g. Hannity disclaims (some of)  
the actions of Bush and claiming that he was a vigorous and vocal  
opponent when, in fact, he was --- as anyone without partisan rose- 
coloured glasses on knows --- one of the head cheerleaders and  

BOTH "sides" of this debate are equally guilty of this kind of  
ongoing, hypocritical apologia of their preferred brand and,  
ironically, of the very thing Moyers is castigating in his lede:  the  
tendency to focus on attacking the other side and apologizing for the  
preferred side, conveniently forgetting or discounting the recent and  
ongoing problems being created by the preferred side.

Attack Bush all you want --- I *certainly* did.  But to be fair, you  
must also place blame where blame is due for e.g. the failure of much  
of the recent stimulus, the appalling mountain of debt we've taken on  
just this year, the "surprising" rate of unemployment relative to  
promises made / actions taken, and so on.

Do "conservatives" have a poor opinion of government?  Well, surely.   
Why?  Well, maybe because there are so few instances of it working and  
so many of it *not* working.  Do "progressives" or "liberals" have too  
high an opinion?  Absolutely;  but only because their skepticism and  
hatred of stymergic processes --- particularly those called "markets"  
--- obscures their ability to see that such things are the worst  
alternatives (except for all the other ones.)

A "low, dishonest" decade?  Well, certainly.  But Moyers and company  
are no less guilty of intellectual dishonesty in the present  
circumstances than e.g. the noxious Faux News and radio talking heads  
were during the Bush reign of (t)error.


I like the bit about opposition to monopoly.  That's my beef, too,  
with the caveat that a government monopoly in anything is *even more*  
noxious (and difficult to undo) than a non-governmental monopoly.

Michael later says:

> Would it be wrong to just let the failures fail? How can you  
> actually have a "free market" if there are no consequences to failure?

Welcome "moral hazard."

Re:  market failure, Kling recently said:


> I want to propose a new definition of market failure. For me, market  
> failure exists to the extent that innovation is blocked by  
> incumbents. If innovators can succeed by out-competing incumbents,  
> then the market is working. If incumbents have a self-reinforcing  
> system that keeps out innovators, then we have market failure.

Amen, brutha.  Have never seen a more concise or accurate statement of  
my own principles in such things.

Best way to guarantee such a failure?  Give monopoly power /  
authority / responsibility for something to the government, where it  
is granted and maintained *by law* by largely-unaccountable "public  
servants" --- and grossly subject to incompetence, inefficiency, and  


Small tangent:

During offline discussion w/ one of the list members last week, I  
apparently surprised by mentioning that I am not, in fact, opposed to  
any / all regulation, even in financial markets.  Indeed, I am a fan  
of regulation that increases transparency and lowers barriers-to-entry  
in financial markets.  I.e., regulation that has the effect of  
unblocking innovation and encouraging true, open, and fair markets.   
The largest part of the present debacle in the finance industry was  
created by the obscure and opaque trading activity of vast amounts of  
certain exotic derivatives over-the-counter.  Put them on the books,  
get them listed, then require reporting of long-term positions at  
least to some central clearing entity.  In the various instruments,  
assets and markets where that is the norm, things continued to "work"  
as well as could be expected event throughout the previous series of  
recent failures.  It's only where the "market" did not have such  
characteristics and mechanisms that the failures really mounted to  
create systemic risks.


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