Light(er) Blogging Warning
Labels: light blogging
Labels: light blogging
"The religion of economics has its own code of ethics, and the First Commandment is to behave 'economically'- in any case when you are producing, selling or buying. It is only when the bargain hunter has gone home and become a consumer that the First Commandment no longer applies: he is then encouraged to 'enjoy himself' in any way he pleases.
In the market place, for practical reasons, innumerable qualitative distinctions which are of vital importance for man and society are suppressed; they are not allowed to surface. Thus the reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumphs in "The Market." Everything is equated with everything else. To equate things means to give them a price and thus to make them exchangeable. To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price. Not surprisingly therefore, if economic thinking pervades the whole of society, even simple non-economic values like beauty, health or cleanliness can survive only if they prove to be 'economic.'"
"Economics operates legitimately and usefully within a 'given' framework which lies altogether outside the economic calculus. ... Every science is beneficial within its proper limits, but becomes evil and destructive as soon as it transgresses them."How similar that is to Jacobs talking of the 'intractable corruption' that follows when commercial values are mixed with guardian values.
"In 1930, during the world-wide economic depression, [Keynes] felt moved to speculate on the 'economic possibilities for our grandchildren' and concluded that the day might not be all that far off when everybody would be rich. We shall then, he said, 'once more value ends above means and prefer the good to the useful.'
'But beware!" he continued. 'The Time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.'
There can be no doubt that the idea of personal enrichment has a very strong appeal to human nature. Keynes advised us that the time was not yet for a 'return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue - that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanour, and the love of money is detestable.'
Economic progress, he counselled, is obtainable only if we employ those powerful human drives of selfishness, which religion and traditional wisdom universally call upon us to resist. The modern economy is propelled by a frenzy of greed and indulges in an orgy of envy and these are not accidental features but the very causes of its expansionist success."
"If human vices such as greed and envy are systematically cultivated, the inevitable result is nothing less than a collapse of intelligence. A man driven by greed or envy loses the power of seeing things as they really are, of seeing things in their roundness and wholeness, and his very successes become failures. If whole societies become infected by these vices, they may indeed achieve astonishing things but they become increasingly incapable of solving the most elementary problems of everyday existence. The Gross National Product may rise rapidly: as measured by statisticians but not as experienced by actual people, who find themselves oppressed by increasing frustration, alienation, insecurity and so forth. After a while, even the Gross National Product refuses to rise any further, not because of scientific or technological failure, as expressed in various types of escapism on the part, not only of the oppressed and exploited, but even of highly privileged groups."
"Kristopher Gerardi, Christopher Foote, and Paul Willen, of various regional Federal Reserve banks, have a paper which looks at economic research on whether or not there was a housing bubble, and which concludes that “we do not currently have the ability to prevent a bubble from forming or the ability to identify a bubble in real time”. Yes, they admit, some smart and prescient economists did say, with complete accuracy, that there was a bubble. But! Other economists weren’t convinced! So, never mind, there’s nothing we can do."
"Housing bubbles are normally pretty obvious at the time: there’s one right now in Vancouver, for instance. You can see them in the rise of dozens of huge new glass-clad condo buildings; you can see them in massive price increases; you can see them when mortgage payments are significantly larger than the amount of money you could get renting out the place; and you can see them whenever people start making more money from selling their homes than they do from actually working. The only people who can’t see them, it seems, are economists, realtors, and bankers on Wall Street."
"One strain of E Coli bacteria produces a poison , to which it is immune, that kills competing strains. It takes resources to produce the poison, and the strain that produces it pays a cost in reproduction for the privilege of killing competitors. If the poisoner strain evolved from a more peaceful strain of E Coli, how did it get started? A few mutant poisoners would cause little change to the average fitness of a large peaceful group ... If a few mutant poisoners are added to a well stirred culture of peaceful E Coli, the mutants are gradually eliminated.
But when the same experiment is performed on agar plates rather than in a well-stirred solution, the poisoners can invade and eventually take over the population. ... I won't tell the full story here, but I hope that I have told enough to illustrate the importance of spatial structure, location, and local interaction for evolutionary dynamics."
"Over time there is some low level of experimentation with Stag Hunting. Eventually a small group of Stag Hunters comes to interact largely or exclusively with each other. This can come to pass through pure chance and the passage of time in a situation of interaction with neighbors. Or it can happen more rapidly when stag hunters find each other by means of fast interaction dynamics. The small group of stag hunters prospers and can spread by reproduction or by imitation. This process is facilitated if reproduction or imitation neighborhoods are larger than interaction neighborhoods. As a local culture of stag hunting spreads, it can even maintain itself in the unfavorable environment of a large random-mixing population by the device of signalling."
"In game theory, the stag hunt is a game which describes a conflict between safety and social cooperation. Other names for it or its variants include "assurance game", "coordination game", and "trust dilemma". Jean-Jacques Rousseau described a situation in which two individuals go out on a hunt. Each can individually choose to hunt a stag or hunt a hare. Each player must choose an action without knowing the choice of the other. If an individual hunts a stag, he must have the cooperation of his partner in order to succeed. An individual can get a hare by himself, but a hare is worth less than a stag. This is taken to be an important analogy for social cooperation.
The stag hunt differs from the Prisoner's Dilemma in that there are two Nash equilibria: when both players cooperate and both players defect. In the Prisoners Dilemma, however, despite the fact that both players cooperating is Pareto efficient, the only Nash equilibrium is when both players choose to defect."