unfettered markets theory

What kind of world do we want to live in?

Chickens have always lived in groups, and in the modern egg production industry they are crammed inhumanely into cages usually containing nine to twelve hens. [Biologist William Muir] wanted to increase egg production by selective breeding, and he tried to do it in two ways. The first method involved selecting the most productive hen from each of a number of cages to breed the next generation of hens. The second method involved selecting all the hens from the most productive cages to breed the next generation of hens.

When Bill presented his results at a scientific conference that I attended several years ago, he showed a slide of hens selected by the first method after six generations.

The audience gasped.

Inside the cage were only three hens, not nine, because the other six hens had been murdered. The three survivors had plucked each other during their incessant attacks and were now nearly featherless… What happened? The most productive individuals had achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of their cagemates.

a national survey

Half are comfortable spreading H1N1 to you.

Miami Herald:

Forty-seven percent say they aren’t likely to get vaccinated: 30 percent say they aren’t at all likely to get vaccinated and 17 percent say they aren’t very likely to do it.

Just 52 percent of Americans say they’re likely to get the vaccine: 33 percent say they’re very likely to get it and 19 percent who say they’re somewhat likely.

Myth and ignorance is a huge problem these days. Brain sclerosis.

how to save the world

Nobody knows anything.Dave Pollard:
Because of our horrific overpopulation and exhaustion of our planet and its resources, we have entered into a period of chronic, massive, global stress, and it’s made us all crazy, like rats in a lab fighting over the last few scraps of food.

We’ve stopped listening to ourselves and started looking for saviors — ‘leaders’ and ‘experts’ to show us and tell us what to do.

The so-called ‘leaders’ and ‘experts’ I’ve met are mostly very intelligent people, but they haven’t a clue. They’re buoyed by their own press and by sycophants fighting their way up from the bottom or desperate to believe that someone is in charge, in control, and knows what needs to be done. These ‘leaders’ hang out with other people just like themselves, and their groupthink persuades them that they’re right, they’re important, that what they say and do and decide really matters.

We need to stop listening to these know-nothing, cowardly ‘leaders’. We need to stop paying them. We need to stop working for them. We need to stop investing in them. We need to stop trusting them, and stop believing the nonsense they are telling us. We need to stop voting for them, and paying taxes to finance their backroom deals. We need to stop buying overpriced crap from their fat, mismanaged organizations. We need to send some of them to jail for criminal fraud and the rest out to pasture, and take back our society, our economy, our Earth from these thieves, these self-deluded con men.

No more leaders.

We could start, one community at a time, to know, again, what it means to live responsibly, meaningfully, modestly, sufficiently, sustainably.

strait jacket

Ed Harrison:

Let me introduce the main characters: First, the banks which are veering out of control (again!). Next, our central bankers and regulators who are doing a better job than broadly perceived; however, they lack the political support to tackle a financial system which thrives on excesses. And, just to complete the picture, we are up against a political system which is institutionally corrupt and politicians who are hopelessly narrow-minded and unable to look beyond the next election.

coming up next

Paul Volker:

Consumer spending accounted for 70 percent of the U.S. economy before last year’s economic meltdown, a level that Volcker said was sustained only by “the magic of financial engineering.”

We cannot rebuild the economy to the tune of 70 percent consumption or housing booms. It will just break down again.

The alternatives to help bolster future economic growth include boosting exports, applying innovative technology to green issues and improving the nation’s infrastructure.

for all dogs

Socializing 101:

The best time to socialize your pup is between the ages of three and 14 weeks. At this time, their brain is very open to new experiences, and they’re better able to learn appropriate responses to the world around them.

Springer Spaniel puppies thumbnailBy exposing our dogs to different kinds of people, animals and environments, especially when they are young — from dog obedience school and vet visits to dinner parties and neighborhood walks — we can foster confidence and an easy-going manner. This goes a long way in helping them cope with new and potentially unsettling situations.

Best of all, socialization doesn’t end when puppyhood does. No matter what age your pooch is when you adopt him, you can still help shape him into a more stable, happy and trustworthy companion.

there was lousy disclosure

The SelloutCharlie Gasparino’s account of the financial crisis and its roots: “They were just so drunk on their own euphoria on making money.

“So I wanted to write a book that basically said Wall Street’s embrace of this business model, risk, got itself in the position it’s in now, and what the position was, in 2008, was a severely damaged securities industry, and foreign investors basically owning chunks of U.S. security firms, and the U.S. losing our global dominance. And that was the story, and I thought that was a good story.

“Listen, I’ve been an investigative reporter my whole life. Generally, when you have a story of magnitude, like a Watergate or something like this, you have someone on the inside that knows something is wrong, that there’s something wrong with the balance sheet. What’s interesting about everything that I’ve uncovered about this is that there was almost nobody on the inside that thought anything was wrong, that anybody was wrong…They all thought AAA was AAA and that’s the scary part.”

class war?

Americans in the bottom 90% saw their average incomes increase a meager $47 a year between 1974 and 2007.

Yes, back then in 1974, we certainly did face injustice at every turn. But we were living, thanks to years of struggle—and success—by our activist forebears, in a society where politics actually revolved around confronting those injustices and making change that could really help average working people.

harm and only harm

ex2 Governor Eliot Spitzer:

So the simple question remains: why aren’t we focusing on the problem that got us here in the first instance — the scope, range, and size of the mega-institutions whose risk taking has so far inflicted only enormous harm on our economy?

when this error began

US debt as a percentage of GDPWe were quite well paying down the debt of war.

And came supply side and trickle down and tax breaks and unfettered free markets and moralists and their corruption….

We now will pay down a thirty year debt of fools, stop smog and poison, repair food and water, educate our families and keep our fair America.

mixmaster biorobots

Argonne materials science:

Many hands — or many flagella — make light work. In studies of the motion of tiny swimming bacteria, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory found that the microscopic organisms can stir fluids remarkably quickly and effectively. As a result, the bacterial flagella could act like tiny motors to mix liquids.

Wee tiny Martha Stewarts?

climate’s food impact

oops

average crop yields are predicted to decrease by 30–46% before the end of the century under the slowest warming scenario and decrease by 63–82% under the most rapid warming scenario

David Battisti, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, “For every one degree Celsius increase in global temperature, there’s a 10 percent decrease in crop yield.”

removes ethical considerations

George Soros has this to say about the role of markets:

But markets are suitable only for individual choices, not for social decisions.

They allow individual participants to engage in free exchange; but they are not designed to exercise social choices such as deciding the rules that should govern society, including how the market mechanism should function. That is the purview of politics.

Extending the idea of a free-standing market, self-governing and self-correcting, to the political sphere is highly deceptive because it removes ethical considerations from politics which cannot properly function without them.

cute corporate capitalist cultistry

Mick Arran:

It’s just so adorable the way capitalists and their lackeys manage to think of themselves as brave, risk-taking pioneers, standing alone against the barbarian hordes in the awesomely dangerous jungles of corporate throat-cutting and skinning-alive Big Business behavior when what they really spend their time doing is cutting risk to the minimum and shoving the expense of whatever’s left onto someone else.

That’s neither capitalist nor socialist. That’s extraction.

it ain’t all federal

municipal debtIn New York City, average full-time compensation rose from $65,401 in 2000 to $106,743 – a 63% increase.

EconomicPopulist writes,

“The condition of state and local budgets are in their worst shape since the Great Depression, and if the economy doesn’t turn around quicker than the mainstream believes, we are going to see defaults that will shake the economy to its foundation.

“Only four months into the 2010 fiscal year, 26 states already have deficit problems totaling $16 Billion. This is after the states had to close $178 Billion of budget gaps this past summer. Only 22 states had budgets deficits of less than 20% of their total budgets. At least 9 states are projected deficits for 2011 of at least 20%, and those are often optimistic projections.

“All the easy cuts have been made. Any new cuts will mean sawing into bone.”

brainy affluence

Arnold Kling:

I think that perhaps the most important trend of the past thirty years is the increased importance of cognitive skills relative to physical labor. Obviously, this has been going on for more than just the past thirty years, but during the past thirty years we saw an acceleration. This has had a number of consequences:

1. It changed the role of women. Their comparative advantage went from housework to market work.

2. This in turn, as Wolfers and Stevenson have pointed out, changed the nature of marriage. Men and women look for complementarity in consumption rather than in production.

3. This in turn leads to more assortive mating, with achievement-oriented men looking for interesting mates rather than for good maids.

4. This in turn leads to greater inequality across households. It also fosters greater inequality among children. The children of two affluent parents are likely to have much better genetic and environmental endowments than the children of two (likely unmarried) low-income parents.

5. Inequality is exacerbated by globalization and technological change. If your comparative advantage is basic physical labor, you have to compete with machines as well is with workers from the Third World.

The net result is an economy that has improved considerably for people with high cognitive skills, but which has improved only somewhat for people with relatively low cognitive skills.

via growthology

big and also dumb

Cormick Grimshaw:

We’ve made the point in this blog before that you need a license to drive a car in the United States, but you don’t need a license to be the CEO of a financial institution that can draw on the full faith and credit of the United States when the CEO makes a mistake. We need to replace “too big to fail” with “too smart to fail.”

We need CEOs who meet a higher standard that Dick Fuld, Angelo Mozilo, Charles Prince, and Stanley O’Neal. And that responsibility rests with the shareholders and the Board of Directors. They need to take that responsibility to avoid a repeat of the last two years.