Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Am Not Going To Lay An Egg

My new affiliation is the research center, at the Chicago Historical Society. That is on the third floor. Arrangements of new place be roughly similar to the old place, the Newberry, a "private" library. This new place, though, is a better chicken coop for me to fluff my feathers in. Maybe I could still use the old place, but I found myself going there less often, than I had been. This new one is a better chicken coop for me to fluff my feathers in. You see, I couldn't take those hot light bulbs in the Newberry. That's it.
     I couldn't take the heat, you see. It's what you call, Um ----- Well!! Thass just the problem---I don't know what word to insert, at this point! I'm not cultured, I suppose! It appears to be the case that only persons of very, very high social status are destined to feel comfortable at the elegant, and PRIVATE, Newberrie Librarrie on Chicago's darling the near north side. Gold Coast, you know. So there is the snob perspective. And I must say, I am very concerned that the precious snob perspective on life seems to be in decline. Our snobs are, after all, one aspect of our society. I am so sorry to say that the snob thing no longer was working for me.
     And, when I was trying to describe it, I was not sure of the word to use. But I am thinking maybe it is something like "surveillance" or being watched where by "watched" we mean something like evaluated or judged. It's hard for me to nail this completely and it is interesting that I don't know why that is the case. Maybe it is my lovely Asperger's Syndrome, or maybe not---there is the feeling of expectation, that I should be something or live up to something. But, no matter what they ask or want I cannot be the kind of person I am not. That hardly anyone is? I could feel the expectation or status thing or that I was supposed to live up to certain social, and class, standards.
     What I have sympathy with or what I can "understand" is that there is a belief in (and hence an asking for, or expectation of) quality, in that the Newberry persons want to be around quality people.
     While this is something I can understand, there is also a problem which is that, for all its faults, this is also an egalitarian type of a society, and, if these high status individuals, whose status I do not question for a moment, want to show off their colorful feathers made of finest materials (e.g. awesomely good art on walls, and also, behind one particular counter, some pretty girls!!!), and keep the rest of society from seeing or being where they should not, OK. I understand. There are different sorts of person. But when you try to insulate yourself against the rude mass, the less cultured persons, and when you try to do that with purposeful, obsessive, and excessive zeal, what is left? What you have left is basically an Edith Wharton novel.

     So, all this is a big problem and I am very sympathetic and it is something that probably Richard Sennett is working on. (I see the lesson for all us chickens: if want to become a more cultured person you need a better incubator.)

     I have a long essay about the new place, too, the Society of History, or the History Museum I think. I will not necessarily be posting it here. [insert descending pitch effect.] But let me tell you the news. The new venue, which is also closer to my (new) apartment, is more casual, more "shirtsleeves-ish." There's a word! Even so it is the same basic set-up. There is the book retrieval, the research, and the numbered seats too.

     But Boy, at the N., it was like you had to wade through the snobbery or there was something too heavy in their air. It's actually hard to breathe, dude!

     We need everyone. This is an egalitarian society. That includes snobs too, I guess. That's why I am trying to avoid intentionally denigrating Newberry. I think there is only one American social structure. I think there is one basic European social form, one particular thing. And that is the only thing that will create results. You have to give the Newberry their due, because the basic social form includes diversity. And, snobs have rights too. Sure they do, so let us applaud them. They exist; just as others exist. You can do geneology research here, on some of those others, or you can look at the exhibits, or at the pictures. I am sure there are uses for that fucking place; and I am trying not to denigrate anyone. OK? But they still do it to themselves if they look silly. I mean, I don't have to work at it. I don't need to do that for them. They have two huge reading rooms, each one is bigger than the entire reading room at the place on Clark and North and there are thus more empty seats in the other place. There are probably about the same number of persons total; that is because most persons there are studying their family lines, their geneology. At the Chicago Historical Society, or Museum, they seem more like they are scholars or working professionals, not geneology people or the occassional gentrified academic goon studying an old poet from the fourteenth century. (Not to say this is a bad thing, mind you)
     The displays and special exhibits are of high-quality. You can see awesome things. These are things you will not see elsewhere: for example an exhibit of the drawings of military fortifications included a drawing depicting the king and others having lunch as they and theirs lay seige to some city in Belgium or something. The thing you notice is the utter, bland willingness to kill. So, thanks! Newberry. For showing! This kind of thing is also what you see when you take a serious look at history. We still do the same thing, in Afghanistan or Iraq or Waziristan. So, basically, it is appropriate to see the king of France, in 1699, laying seige to some city, creating death, killing the lower-level people. Thanks, Newberry; or, the paintings in the reading rooms. Wow. They started out as being some kind of amazing art, the likes of which I'd never seen, but ended up more as faces doing surveillance work on me. From the walls.
     No, I am not criticizing. I am not interposing my personal ideas here. There is nothing to criticize, no point in criticizing. I just tended to avoid the Newberry after awhile because for me it was somehow too stuffy. Or I am not high enough class or something. If you want to know what a lowly being like myself really thinks about life, you have to just look at this blog very carefully, until you get it. That's how scholarship works, too.

     When you visit Chicago as part of an upcoming JacksGreatBlog tour of the city you can make up you OWN minds about where you'd like to go. What'll it be, folks? The Newberrie or the Chicago Historical Society?
     Goodbye from the Windy and arrogant city...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Say's Law

Everyone doesn't always totally trust everyone else. No, but it is just that we just SAY we do.

So, there is what we say, and there is what we do. What we say:

Everybody has the same rights. And they are all equals. And whether this actually makes any sense is not the point. The "American dream" is a set of ideas upon which a society is erected. And an actual society exists. This (the "base") is accompanied by (the superstructure of...) a "dream." The American dream is that everyone is equal.

But a real society is there as well, which means a real base is there. That is American culture. You're soaking in it. The whole thing would not work without the sharing of information. This is of course related to that other idea, the whole thing of everyone being equal.
     The truth is that America has quite a few different kinds of person in it. Not all share. But all are part of the culture. Everyone can be counted on to spout the same rhetoric. Everyone is equal, etc.
     By sharing information, which is the case in the general sense, not the case with every specific individual, the system, in general, tends towards success. This is the American system, and it is a temporary success, which ends when it ends.
     Google's whole entrepreneurial "innovation" was simply to re-tread the same old idea of sharing information. Every bit of information is get the picture. And it is the same old picture.
     It's the same old American idea. But we said that there are many different kinds of person, and some of them do not actually share anything. Even if businessmen gather around a long rectangular table (even a round one, goodness sakes) some of those around it are sharing. Some are not.
     Everyone is not equal. I mean, really It is ridiculous, really. It is the most ridiculous tripe. Really. But most of your true to type  Americans believe this! Now wait a minute. Do they? No, not really --- and what is "real" is pertinent. There is a real society and a real culture there. Not everyone really believes it but they are perfectly happy to say they do. It is not costing them anything.

     So, not everyone actually believes everyone is equal, not in the real sense, not actually, but there is a kind of rhetoric that forms some kind of rhetorical, ideological foundation for the society to go forward. The rhetorical foundation is to say that we trust everyone else. And, it isn't just rhetorical. It has a lot of reality to it, because this openess fuels the whole economy. Businessmen quietly reap the benefits, even thought they don't really believe it.

     So, equality is the story of capitalism. Ideas about equality fuel American society. Ideas about human equality create a strong capitalism. The American dream society is a society that pretends towards equality.

Encouragement, Inclinations, & End Results

Advertizing signs are also semiotic "signs," and they re signs that try to accomplish a shift of attention in viewers, toward a particular concept and that try to develop a particular desire. The sign is trying to bring to the viewer the concept of, as well and the desire for, the obtainment of a lower price (e.g. "Now that's a deal of a meal-7.99"). Those two sentences were worth more than eight bucks -- but, at any rate, -- We are trading in a free society. Yes, we are, and because one thing affects another, this sets off a chain reaction.  In the trade cycle prices have contingent effects. For example, the price of one thing may affect the prices of other things. Usually. So, everything is affected by everything, so if everything is interdependent the characteristic attitude of the restaurant I am now eating at, which is an attitude or approach or set of promulgated values that keeps prices low even as we are also encouraged to sit there and be happy, will not only help us save and keep money in our pockets. There are also certain other contingencies: the salaries of the restaurant's employees will remain low. And be certain: the venue is scrimping and saving and cost-cutting, on their part!
     As I understand it they would be paying as little as possible for the raw components and ingredients that they buy, and that is what goes into the end result: your meal that which you sit down and enjoy in that nice seat. There is one characteristic ideological orientation that they employ. This is the concept of low price, and this orientation impacts the wages of farm workers, the money the warehouse employees get, and so forth, and the fact is that it also increases the suffering of the chickens, which are the chickens that "Boston" Co. uses, and, customers eat.
     It is true: it is a big, connected world. And wanting to keep possession of relatively greater sums of money is a natural inclination. OK. But: why do businesses enterprises generally stress that inclination?
     There are many other natural inclinations. This kind of place like "Boston Market"? It actually sucks, to tell you the truth, because they are always advising us to save money. But: this is too much like asking us to mistreat our fellow humans --- too much like asking us to mistreat all the workers that man this supply chain that brings us the "meal deal" at a --- well, a cheap restaurant.


Sunday, January 22, 2012 I had a pleasant morning reading the 1966 biography of Junipero Serra, by M.V. Woodgate. Here is a typical Western missionary set on conversion of savages. At the Franciscan university and convent, on the island of Majorca, Spain, he seems to have had the capacity to excel at whatever was placed before him whether of a scholarly nature, or music. It sounds to me he was a bit of a polymath, able to do anything. And finally settling upon the conversion of pagans.

     Maybe the Spanish were better off when they were muslim.
     Mildred Violet Woodgate was born in 1904. 

     Everyone has to be content. And forgo happiness. And go on adventures to distant lands. Instead of trying to create his own happiness he writes off his parents and goes to California to convert "savages." And give others happiness?

Saturday, January 21, 2012


When something involves just following rules, behavior is oriented around the impersonal. Behavior that is mechanical, or lacking what is personal, is impersonal. Alright, we have got it! Let's take getting of food from a vending machine, for example. That would be impersonal, not personal.
     OK I think we've got that. Now many Leftists, or those at least vaguely so, and I have known them, so I do not have to make up myths about "extreme liberals," are going to say that capitalism is impersonal. But that is their great misunderstanding. That is something we need to talk about. So, come over here and sit on my knee and let's talk about it, let's talk about the possible personal, or even intimately social, characteristics of supposedly "alienating" capitalism. Let us, my friend, talk about capitalism's social characteristics. Let us talk about capitalism's personable aspect or element. But before going further, I want to clarify that some of them are persons who value life, in other words they value the "personal" of other persons. That's fine, altruistic, altogether good. All the more reason to listen up.
     They want a peaceful society. Everyone wants a peaceful society, one in which value is placed on what is important, or basic, and that is human happiness. So, nice persons agree on that, and to get that kind of life-affirming situation and harmony you should have some presence of the personal ("arguably," as Hitch's book title says, or as he might have said, were he not elsewhere at the moment----probably somewhere where he can argue and declaim to human heart's content).
     "Personal" means, aside from "not impersonal," that there is social connection. This is personal connection, felt or affective communion, understanding, empathy or connection. That's what "personal" is, a condition where individuals are connected socially. To be connected socially means to be connected in ways other than merely following a particular set of rules (our example was the vending machine, which doe have its rules by which it operates and interfaces with human beings). While capitalism is mechanical, it is not completely impersonal.
     To paraphrase the cultural critic Edmund Wilson, you need something that goes beyond what he calls, in a prescient letter of his, from just before the crash of 1929, "mere money making." Hopefully, there is something like that, something that goes "beyond" "mere money making." I don't think the point is really that difficult after all.
     Behaviorist, mechanist and Marxist views all believe life to be essentially impersonal, at least in so far as their own analysis or area of interest goes. But, why can one not analyze the personal? Can one do that? I don't know; I am not sure if one can actually do that.
     As an enlightenment figure (which is to say, of the German Enlightenment, which, according to my source, Isaiah Berlin, came after the French Enlightenment), Marx did not need to frame it either way. So, he never said that capitalism was impersonal, that was not his point. Nor, that socialism would be more personal. (Or harmonizing. Such thinking was not part of Marx's argument ---- he emphatically rejected such sentimental notions, but you can go to another figure, Robert Owen, for the "Harmony" sort of stuff.) He thought everything was impersonal --- it is, for the enlightenment figure, to be dealt with through the analytic (mode) and rendered intelligible through science.
     What is missing here? What is missing is the negation of the idea that capitalism means merely a mechanized version of human relations. Thus, we need to refute this idea, which is that capitalism is introduced, thereby robbing us of our warmth and affect.
     The great task of capitalism was to be a humanized capitalism. If capitalism did this, then we do not need the concept of socialism in order to restore our human side to us. That social connectivity is the very reason that a functioning capitalism even worked--even exists.
     For this reason, we need to ask again, what is the "personal," what is the "impersonal," and where does capitalism sit within that framework?

      Note: in some sense, in Marx, capitalism does seem dehumanizing, and the result of that dehumanization/alienation is revolution, and, if so, then that for Marx is where the humanism finally comes in, in the outcome, and that is after all of the analysis. So the cataclysmic notion of "revolution" replaces our current ideas of "humanism."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bookstore 2

The Barnes and Noble bookstore is a kind of an enclosed world and you can learn more about the world in the bookstore than you can out in the world.

    You can learn about business, science, urban design (a subject always on my back burner, since I live in the city) and, Wellany other subject whose display you walk past. (Except sex, of course).
     In o. words you can learn about the real world. How much can you learn about the real world by walking down the street? Nothing. You can learn that Dunkin' Donuts is still in business. Wowie-Zowie. No, you learn far more by reading books.
     A long time ago, in the dinosaur age, book stores were premised on the notion that customers ought to buy books. Properly speaking, they ought to not only buy them but bring them home and read them there (after of course paying for that privilege). No way! That only works with sex books! Proper bookstores today are neon-fluorescent lit outposts of light. (Ever hear of "City Lights"? The bookstore? In S. F? duh...) Sorry....neon-lit outposts of light in a cold world, where infinity goes up on trial (sorry, Bob, you did not know what you were doing on that one) and where the knowledge of the spheres is on display, for our satisfactory gawking.
     They do most of their business on-line anyways. So the world becomes San Francisco, and the Museum becomes Barnes and Noble. (Update: Jane Addams' Hull House just closed but the Hull House Museum is still open.) (And the truth is that the beggars in the few blocks around Michigan Ave, downtown Chicago, are something I don't think anybody quite knows what to do with. They need a place. Not Barnes and Noble. Why not give them a hang-out like everyone else has? Then you can tell them to go there and get off the street and stop ruining the downtown basically. Not that I don't feel for them. I do and I'm getting sick of feeling for them, and not knowing what to do or how much to give; now I just look downward as I walk by.)

Bookstore 1

     As I entered the B&N bookstore, the first thing I saw was a displayyan all black display. It is February: February's Black History Month," so every book could be called a book with the "black" theme. Everything black is there from the criminal with "a hellhound on my trail" to a Southern Cooking book by "The Neelys," intro by Paula Deen (well, I guess that doesn't count).
     Overall it is a very white society, and if our basic fantasy of a bookstore is to have a lot of fun reading books, it is also a white society and a white fantasy. But, then, what does it mean to announce policy of equality, towards blacks. Of course, the U. S. did that already; this is already 40 or 45 years old. It happened because of King. We were all "converted." It is an "interior" kind of equality.
     Does the complete acceptanceor promotionof a "black" category for M.L.K.jr. Day and Black History Month indicate that, a) there is equality or that, b) there should be? 
     What then does it mean to put a black display up in the white society's market place? This display looks like a museum piece, displaying a profound equality. It is the creation of an interior world. Do the want to act "as if" there is equality, or actively promote it? If they want to actively promote it, do they want to actively promote it in an interior fashion, or in the real world? If they are intent on promoting equality in an interior fashion, what does that mean? Bit wait---no one can judge another's interior dimension. 
     So, we fall back on neutrality. Neutrality is the theme. We fall back on the view that we are objective, neutral.
     The real world is not Barnes & Noble's job.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

what if?

Many are they who believewith good evidence I might addthat the banks, the private sector, and, also, the great blond beast of government sometimes sell the public a phony bill of goods. All these writers and critics have their points but none can compare with what I shall call: "the great rationality swindle."
     The average bricklayer or busdriver's cup of rationality is, at best: half-full. Yeah. We know. But are we really correct in assuming that our academic institutions are brimming with thesis and hypo-thesis? 
     This society's theses are thwiftly thrown at usin books and articles. Are these perhaps the biggest swindle - the biggest scam of them all - "the great rationality robbery," the greatest swindle ever perpetrated on man?

     I would hate to think that Ralph Kramden knows more than, say Noam Chomsky. (I mean about lingustics of course. Chom'y is spot on, on the other stuff.)
     But what if he does? That means that every ornate theory thrown at us by every Harvard sociology professor is bunk. 
     That's plausible. I mean, what is a "Harvard sociology professor"? I mean do you really have any idea what that is a description of? I mean, Orlando Patterson notwithstanding, how do you know that guy knows gornish? You just accept that he is a "Harvard sociology professor." Yeah. Right. But what is a Harvard sociology professor? How many of you, my lovely readers, can seriously tell me that you know what it means?

     What if it's all a scam?

     When you meet these guys, they sometimes say things like, "Yeah, well, it's a job." 
     Yeah. Right.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

From FT - the Financial Times

[  High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.  ]
(Notice I did not neglect to include FT's "point of view." Now mine: That's ridiculous, how do I know in advance what will happen if I click that link? Get real, FT.) 
(Now on to my blog post, OK? It is about an article in this same news organ, a publication with very important ideas that need to be shared, with everyone --- those currently profiting from capitalism and those who are currently not. But it is only that they want me to pay them? Practically, I do not need to, do I?, and, I do not intend to and I do not intend to be slowed down and that is FINAL)
Here is a bit of preliminary content, out of their newspaper, courtesy of a greater social institution, that of British journalism. Hey-ho.  "It would have been almost unimaginable five years ago that the Financial Times would convene a series of articles on “Capitalism in Crisis”. That it has done so is a reflection both of sour public opinion and distressing results on the ground in much of the industrial world.
The A-list  ......("Courtesy" FT art department. Pretty, huh? I have no idea why it is here, but I like art as much as the next guy........)  (Next is the main part I wanted to reprint.)
"Americans have traditionally been the most enthusiastic champions of capitalism. Yet, a recent public opinion survey found that among the US population as a whole 50 per cent had a positive opinion of capitalism while 40 per cent did not. The disillusionment was particularly marked among young people aged 18-29..."
...                           -------              .........             ---------
I like the way the word "sour" sticks right out. For my American- autistic mind. OK that has nothing to do with it. With you guys, readers, I mean.
...                        -------         ..........        -------
So: here's the deal. I mean, the real deal. In order to save, improve, regulate, or upgrade capitalism, you would first have to understand what is wrong. You have to be able to see it. If you can see it then you can fix it. But if you cannot see it maybe you cannot fix it either.

Knowing what is wrong is not that hard. You just need to have the eyes. Now if your head is going to be full of prejudices and dithering you cannot see...

So, on a clear day you can see forever. But....(oh, I don't know, think of something that rhymes)

So, the motto is: just use your eyes. Look.

For example, if you had this kind of vision, you could see that banking needs to be revised. And the simple fact is it just doesn't take a banking professional to see this. You need to think a little about credit, and money and so on, but you do not need to be a banking professional. The system is just asking us to revise it. It is the system that is asking us; and we are the humans in that system. G-d asking, if you will. He is saying, "fix the economic system, dumbasses." And we cannot figure this out. But there is nothing here that is that hard. For, say, a five year-old?
     I suppose it is hard, though, for certain persons who are psychologically impaired. I suppose we could say that the problem is where you have a vested interest in the system ----- something like that. But don't kid yourself, those persons are not looking at the system. They are looking at themselves. There are such persons. They are psychologically impaired and they are unable to make a living honestly. Such persons are not interested in the system. They are interested in themselves, and, they may have a corner of the system. That is not the same as being interested in the system, though. If such persons say something, how do we take that? I think that all statements by such persons are statements by hypocrites. We can write off all those statements.    
     Listen instead to the system itself. The system itself is practically begging us to fix it. Some persons are unable to see systems, and maybe that's an American thing. But any real-world financial professional, of any worth, does have to be able to see systems. So, the exemption does not apply. They're hypocrites. If they say they cannot see what is wrong those persons have a real problem. What I am saying is pretty simple. I want to stay simple. The system is asking us to change it. We need to perceive what is being asked of us.
     Thank you for reading. Before closing I would like to point out that models exist. Ellen Brown is good at discovering them. These are examples or models of better forms of financial or economic practice: she recently put one up about the Japanese "post-office" model. Google it, fish for it or something.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In the World of the On-line Survey

They know that, in order to get more customers or to retain them, they need to "listen." They are trying to remain profitable, and in doing so, they need the on-line survey. The website you go to is So, here in survey-world, we have the concept of "listening," albeit it is kind of a superficial use of language. They do not seem to get beyond the superficial, but we can say that they have the concept in hand. And: "One in the hand is worth two in the bush."

    To succeed at the game of life each individual has to respond to certain requirements, and one of the requirements life throws on us is that we absorb incredible numbers of concept-units, many packaged, rather conveniently, in the form of what we so cleverly call "words." Next, try using them in a sentence. He (singular of "they") uses his language and conceptual abilities to speak and communicate, which is like "listening." I think this is normal human stuff. There is this incredible plethora of words and concepts. And we humans seem to be able to absorb them all, in any case. We have mentioned "listening" as an example of such a concept. It is not the only. It is not only that the individual has to master the concept of "listening" but also a zillion or so others. These are all various words or concepts. But we are the humans. So ----- no worries, mate, you can do it, eh?
     We are capable of hundreds of thousands of words and concepts. The human race is capable of it. But how much are the corporate surveyors capable of, and how far do they actually go with a concept like "listening"?
    I have to wonder, because when I see the corporate crowd in action it seems like these guys are very often of one specific types, those who have a shallow way of using the human conceptualizing faculty. Granted, they get the concept, but there seems something superficial about it, quite frankly. Therefore, I would hazard to suggest that the corporate owners/managers are often examples of precisely one type of use of language and concept: we might call  this the "superficial" way of using concept. These men (and it usually is a man) seem only to use concepts more in a practical sense, as if a word is a kind of tool, like a hammer, but has not much depth. Still, the fact is, that I see this a lot, even in philosophers. Anyways, the persons I am talking about here are all owners and manager of large businesses such as Jewel-Osco, which operates drug and grocery stores across the country, at a mass level. So, we are having a look, here, at some of the owners and managers in the business world. Not all, but some. And at a certain type of mentality.
    And, in trying to describe their deployment of the human faculty for conceptualization, we have used the word "practical." In all practicality, what else can we say about them? Practically speaking they would like to operate thousands of stores all across the country. (I have seen Jewel stores, or Albertson's stores, which are the same thing, in Arizona, California, etc.) But why, Albert? I think it is important here to know what it is that Albert really wants. Of course, they often parse "capitalism" to indicate "self-interest." One thing that the present author believes that is relevant here is that I would like to point out that, in all practicality, it is not to help their fellow men. That is not their practicality, and that is not what their practical or simplistic concept of "listening" works for.
    That is to say, their practicality is never ethical or anything like that. The owners or managers do want to have a place amongst humans, though... so that's it. They are after a place in society for themselves. Being on the highest management level of Albertson's, the parent company of Jewel, is, for such a person, a profound achievement. (Herman Cain conceptualized it as "CEO of self.")
    But my problem with it is, in all of this, there is apparently (for a certain group within the weird world of business) nothing else beyond this ----- beyond this kind of a superficial level. It is non-analytical, as well, and, it is not philosophical. Not philosophical I say, because (although they do use concepts) they do not want to ever go "behind" the concept. Not to muse, Deleuze! That's kind of an "in" joke. But, anyway: they do not in my opinion philosophize.
    Nothing like that. Ever. In everything they do to turn a buck (or to gain status) they never go beyond that superficial level. If there is anything great or good about capitalism, and I have many essays that suggest that there is, it is not because of this branch of the human species ---- the non-analytic concept-mongering CEO crowd. Maybe -----

The greatness of capitalism is because of the PEOPLE of capitalism. And, dear Alfred (or Albert) that does not include YOU.

-Jacob S. Silverman (

1) The Wikipedia entry for "word" dovetails my own work: "In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content (with literal or practical meaning)."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Is the Economics Profession Merely a Scam?

     In the textbook ( picked up very cheap, I assure you ) by Hirshleifer (UCLA) and Sproul 1988 appears this sentence. It is the third sentence of the "Preface" (to "Price Theory and Applications...."): "There is an economic problem whenever the constraint of resource scarcity impinges upon life." (For the record, the next few words are included: "Human decisions that are subject to the law of scarcity, and therefore amenable to economic analysis, include..." bla bla bla)
     So deceptive. It sounds so right. Right? It is not.
     Is a millionaire's second million "scarce"? It is such a glib sentence. One has to suspect that the persons writing these sentences just enjoy writing these sentences. As for the idea of "resource scarcity" -- or of "scarcity" -- as defining what some domain of study that exists somewhere and that might be called economics would be about: this is fine. I do not have any objection to that. I wonder where such a domain of study exists? The author speaks of situations where "resource scarcity" impinges upon life. Maybe there are such situations. I do not see why there should not be. But those situations are not the situation of economics, the situation that economics talks about. So what the hell is going on? Why would a textbook make such a  statement?
     If we look to what is being discussed, in the field of economics as a study area, or what is actually discussed under this rubric or term "economics," in universities for example, we find a lack of correspondence. There is a lack of correspondence to what the example sentence is asserting. We would, assuming we have normal mental capacity, find upon examination that topics discussed under that heading ("economics") in fact do not correspond to what Hirshleifer is talking about (which is in fact similar to other books of type). So it's a scam. There is no other possible conclusion since, of topics covered in the actual published discussions of economics or in economics as we know it -- i.e. in the actual field or subject domain -- many topics do not correspond, or only barely do, to the cluster of concepts and definitions that are centered around use of the word "scarcity." It's simply a big scam. The textbooks continue to say that economics is about "scarcity of resources," etc., like a broken record. So, now, you probably want to know if this is actually true. I know I did. So let's look at what I found, in trying to support what I thought I was seeing.
     We have already mentioned the millionaire's second million. We will have little trouble finding others.
     How about where a consumer buys something he or she does not need? If I make 400.00 per week, for example, I might buy something I do not need --- e.g. a nice restaurant meal --- it may be difficult to make but it is not in any sense scarce. It is there; I have enough money to buy it. Where is scarcity? So: is a restaurant meal "scarce"? How so? Or who so? How who? OK... Less get serious now on the "who?" thing.
     Who was it scarce for? For a person who does not have the money (or, alternatively, the desire) it could not count as a scarce good because he will do without. (But he might buy it? I'm not buying it, sorry.) For the person who does have the money if isn't scarce either. He who likes to buy what he only wants but does not need would buy for pleasure, pleasure alone. In that case as well it is also not scarce. That seems to me to be obvious. So what is the problem? (well get to that!)
     Maybe that restaurants aren't really part of the economy? No. (I tried that.) They are. Darn.

     So, it sounds to me like the idea of "scarce" simply does not apply to many issues which are nevertheless discussed as "economics" or we could say described as economics or conceived of as economics issues.

     It is a scam.

     Every single econ professor in the country is guilty of not calling their fellow economists on this. I repeat: the whole thing is a scam.

     Professors: How can you work in a profession that actively generates a scam, and not say so, and consider yourself legitimate? I would like someone to either refute what I am saying, and thereby show that I am wrong, or explain to me why the economists at Harvard or Yale cannot see this.
     I am not saying there is no reason for the situation. I am just saying that I do not know what it is. So, why don't you professors enlighten me? Or do I have to mail this essay out to all of you individually!!!??

     Pretty crazy idea, huh?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mouthpiece or Foghorn? the News, v.2

We could probably say that no newspaper, bureau, person or other entity has the obligation to tell us what is really going on. Just because you have a mouth does not mean you have to use it, you can also keep your trap closed.
     Of course you may be asked to open wide for the doctor, and persons want to have the news brought to their doorstep. There are companies willing to oblige. Just like the drugs companies do.
     The end result of all these mutual expectations and tremorings is the major daily (newspaper). If we didn't have newspapers maybe we would talk to each other sincerely, heart to heart. Of course that is not the way it is. Is it?

The real way it is, is ---- that newspapers come out. Every day they come out, and every day they have to pronounce and emit words and shit, on schedule. They are so powerful; they kin doit!
     Now wait. That is not the way persons communicate. No, but thass de way dey newspapers communicate. The "news" is very carefully molded and guided ---- they produce it like flax through a spinning wheel. You think it's "the news," but it is cooked and processed and filtered. But what did you expect? When you go to a restaurant you get cooked meant. Don't you? Then why should we expect that the newspaper would deliver it to us raw??

Persons demand truth. I don't blame them a bit. But, in our passive society, they rarely go out and get it for themselves. (Are some persons less passive than others? I guess so, but most of what I see, some days, is a cavalcade of passivity going on. Oh well. Maybe I'm projecting, maybe?)

In a consumer society what persons want are products. Either that, or maybe that's what they are supposed to want. One German lady I saw in a movie simply vanted to be a-lone. I happen to live in a room, for example, that does not have cooking facilities so I cannot even cook for myself. If I wanted to. Which I don't know if I would, but at any rate I don't.

So: take the consumer society and we turn it into lies and deceptions. Cook it, in other words. By the way, there is also a market for lies and deceptions. What kind of cooked meat do you want today?

     If we did not ask the newspaper to do our thinking none of this would have ever happened. On the other hand, it did. Since we live in a capitalist or consumerist society, we need to ask ourselves: what kind of society do we want that society to be?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Establisment, In Print

Somewhat delayed, but I wanted to 'enblog' a curious little text fragment, encountered in the famous newspaper the NYT. This phrase occurs: ("the Washington political and media establishment"): Well, I guess you had to be there! You aren't getting it yet but you'll get it. Later. First you have to put up with the original idea for the post. I wanted to summarize every story that occurred there, on one particular front page of aforesaid famous daily document. So, the motive was just to sort of document a particular front page from said organ. Sort of quick way, too so it should go rather quickly and then you get to the curious little text fragment.
1)Food Today, but None Tomorrow
2)$450 billion in defense cuts (in the U.S.)
3)New York was planned out in 1811; but, there was farmland at 84th St. in 1879.
"It was in many respects a heartless plan."
4)And, as for the campaign....

it is only on the last day of the campaign, says the great American propaganda organ, the N.Y. Times, that the "weight" of the "establishment", the elites, has landed. It took them that long? Well, what about it? Who does the establishment, or the elite, favor? Well just tell me! The article makes no further mention of "the Washington political and media establishment." Weird. The concept just evaporates from article, instead of the writer returning to it at the end. (check it for yourself; it was a few days ago; I told you how the front page looks so you can find it)

     Until you realize that that is what the N.Y. Times
is. The concept of "the Washington political and media establishment" is there. It somehow got in. The concept of a "Washington political and media establishment" showing up to influence the election somehow got in. Maybe this was because they just cannot help themselves sometimes. Maybe it was because it says "Washington" rather than "New York." And this phrase about the "political and media establishment" thing was spot on. Here is the NYT admitting that such a thing exists. But we have to also consider that the political and media establishment, which is what we are reading, in the form of the New York Times, is not about to give you access to what it is thinking. That's not how it works. Of course not. It is the New York -and not D.C. -political establishment. Neither the political establishment nor a "media establishment" paper like the NYT is going to signal its moves. And, thus, the admission of the nature of things has nowhere to go and this admission, about the "political...establishment", so easy to spot, in column one, is floating alone, as it were, on the page. The theme is not returned to again in the article.

    I just wanted to say that. That is my whole purpose, just to point to say that. In case some of you missed it. The political and media establishment admitting it exists!

Somewhat delayed but I wanted to 'enblog' this curious text I found which is from the NYT. This phrase occurs in the newspaper: ("the Washington political and media establishment"): This original idea was to start out by summarising all four front page articles from that edition of the NYT, but in quick summary....
1)Food Today, but None Tomorrow
2)$450 billion in defense cuts (in the U.S.)
3)New York was planned out in 1811; but, there was farmland at 84th St. in 1879.
"It was in many respects a heartless plan."
4)And, as for the campaign....

it is only on the last day of the campaign, says the great American propaganda organ, the N.Y. Times, that the "weight" of the "establishment", the elites, has landed. It took them that long? Well, what about it? Who does the establishment, or the elite, favor? Well just tell me! The article makes no further mention of "the Washington political and media establishment." Weird. The concept just evaporates from article, instead of the writer returning to it at the end. (check it for yourself; it was a few days ago; I told you how the front page looks so you can find it)
     Until you realize that that is what the N.Y. Times is. The concept of "the Washington political and media establishment" is there. It somehow got in. The concept of a "Washington political and media establishment" showing up to influence the election somehow got in. Maybe this was because they just cannot help themselves sometimes. Maybe it was because it says "Washington" rather than "New York." And this phrase about the "political and media establishment" thing was spot on. Here is the NYT admitting that such a thing exists. But we have to also consider that the political and media establishment, which is what we are reading, in the form of the New York Times, is not about to give you access to what it is thinking. That's not how it works. Of course not. It is the New York -and not D.C. -political establishment. Neither the political establishment nor a "media establishment" paper like the NYT is going to signal its moves. And, thus, the admission of the nature of things has nowhere to go and this admission, about the "political...establishment", so easy to spot, in column one, is floating alone, as it were, on the page. The theme is not returned to again in the article.

    I just wanted to say that. That is my whole purpose, just to point to say that. In case some of you missed it. The political and media establishment admitting it exists!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Second Paulist Piece

     Individualism is something that has been rather successful here in the good old U.S.  of A., more successful perhaps than on any other piece of ground containing members of the species "homo sapiens." There is more individualism here than anywhere. It is not as if we aren't on theme. I see it in advertising, rhetorically speaking, and behavior-wise, and I see it in the persons I see around me seems like their specialty, in terms of human contact, lies in saying "I'm sorry" --- when they get an inch too close to you.
    If that is individualism we have that. What is Paul's specific desire? What does he want from us? What is the "Paul Point" regarding this very American trait? What is it about individualism that would need to be changed? The Paul view corresponds to the grassroots variety of philosophical individualism, which is a bit different, as compared to version that lobbyists or millionaires have. Here, I am dealing with the grassroots views, those prevalent amongst the less-privileged variety of the conservative in America. Paul does not represent the elite. He represents the America of grass roots, and regular rural, Texas conservatives.
     Then, what the man may be trying to say is that we need the real thing. There is also the individualism of "My Yahoo" or of my "personal" trainer (a human or a machine---what's the diff?), which is just a boatload of publicity and advertising copy. And, as you can see in my previous post that discussed Paul, my view is that Mr. Ron Paul is about genuineness and not advertising. And his individualism is philosophical.
     That's what you might call "grass roots individualism," and it is fully and totally ignored by the cabal of the elite. I ran into plenty of it when I lived in places like Arizona, in the desert, well outside of Phoenix, where there was pretty much nobody, or in rural Indiana, or in small towns everywhere actually. It is curious how much such persons are ignored in a democracy.

     These persons are living mostly in smaller cities, in towns, or in the country, and, when they say "less government interference," they really believe it   But they are very isolated from the levers of power. Not to mention, the "purse strings" of power.

     These are the persons whom Paul represents but exactly how Paul intends to stage a sneak attack on D.C. is not clear.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bye, America (nice knowin' ya)

I grew up with certain ideas. These were in the air. It made an impression. There was the idea ... "if you don't protect your freedom, you are going to lose it."

As a Jew kid whose parents were more or less still scared of Nazis this was kind of impressed, or embedded, into me. It was not formalized as a conceptual system or theory. Nevertheless it makes sense, and you can glimpse what the theory would look like, were it put more formally. There are ideas there. It was presented in a casual way I suppose. But the idea(s) make(s) sense. There is a whole theory...

It's pretty simple, really. The bad is out there. It's gonna come in. You have to keep your guard out. Or up I mean.

You have to be constantly doing something, constantly defending it. The society.

So — Um, that is why there is the ACLU, right? I used to think so! It turns out they are maybe flawed. But at any rate my impression at that time was of there being some persons who protect our rights. They are out there, no? Maybe there was a highly-educated member, on the Supreme Court. Or a couple of senators, a few Congressmen, something like that, and these were a few persons with standards, who knew what they were doing. And they were, at that time, just always dedicated to going around protecting everybody. I still believe this.

Oh, right. Weren't there people like that? They were not the majority, but there might have been a few such persons. A few "selves"— indeed. They are a few "selves" (in this selfish world) who are activists, whose job is to keep us from getting put in camps again. This means all of us, I don't think it just means some of us. Seems like "all of us" is what is probably meant here. That seems more correct.

Those who did this would need to be educated and they would need to be active. They would need to be plugged-in, active. There are such persons, these ideas existed; I absorbed the ideas myself.

Well I've got news for you, it's over. Chicago Mayor Emmanuel — or somebody/anybody — who cares who — has officially suspended our Constitutional guarantees. I think that this was on behalf of the important (to some) G8 or IMF thing — whatever the thing is. This is upcoming, pretty soon — the "important people" of the global system are going to have a sit-down so they can talk frankly.
     But you aren't allowed to protest? Not only. The paper this morning (I saw it in the box and I read the headlines) says something to the effect that these restrictions coming into force are going to be in force permanently. Oh. Great. They aren't going away.

It's all over, baby. (And for the billionth time, I iterate Bob Dylan by accident. HINT: "It's all over now...")


When one of this small group of the few responsible persons we have in the society who are defending what we call human rights is acting he or she is not just defending the rights of his or her self. In this tradition, and in this world we live in, or lived in, until it failed this morning, such defense of human rights is not the defense of the rights of some. One is defending all the rights of all persons. It does not matter if they are your friend or your enemy.
     It. Does. Not. Mat. Ter. This is our tradition, this is what you have to defend if you want to live in this society, according to the way of life which we have known, and this is true even if it has been only upheld and actively defended by a few.
     From what I have seen of the human race, in my life, or in my experience of it? ---I do not particularly from what I've seen think any of you deserve right number one. Maybe some of you care about one another. I cannot say about that. I have never seen anyone care much about me.
     But that doesn't have anything to do with it does it? If I don't defend all of you, who do I defend? Just my family? But I notice there are some, like Herman Cain, who say "self" a lot. Or: "self-interest."
     I am not the so-called "CEO of Self." That is what Herman Cain seems to call himself based on what I read in the NYRB. That reading is how I know but when I check Google it seems he has written four or five separate books one of which has that name, "CEO of Self." (I have never seen it in a newspaper.)
     The phrase seems to refer to anyone in the company and he seems to be saying that the individuals working for X company should be all be very independent themselves, thus "CEO of Self." [The NYRB article, or review, when reviewed later, was revealed to be biased. This bias is unnecessary. It buys perfectly into what Cain is saying about the way the liberals treat him. In the ensuing confusion I composed the following material (diabolically insering the dick word only afterwards)]:
     What a rascal. But he's honest. The rascal expresses "self" — very clearly. His penultimate idea (preliminary to becoming president!) or master dick stroke is to draw a line — between his own "self" --- and everyone else's.
      [Now I see that my impression was not entirely correct. I did not realize it but what I was reading in NYRB was slanted. I thought NYRB was a legitimate publication. My mistake. Nevertheless, I will stick with what I wrote yesterday, with the one alteration that it is not so much about Mr. Cain as it is about, Well....somebody anyways]:

First, jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the mentally retarded. Next come the Poles and Slavs. Then we bomb the British. Pretty French girls like Coco Chanel get to live. Japanese? — No problem. But I don't want to hear any of that "plantation" (1) stuff.

Get it? It all depends on who you are and where you are.

As for American justice — and goodness — and freedom — this looks like "fantasy." It functions on the level of fantasy today, in one's head, that's all. That's the same place where drugs go when you take 'em. Freedom for  these people is light-headed, it is like a helium-filled balloon or a candy cane. It's funny, but that's alright, I mean as a literary device it works. "Fiction," a literary point of view.
     And Americans love their fic. But it reduces real life to nothing much at all. What is left of freedom, then? This head-oriented, fictive version of it is what I see around me constantly, wherever I go, all the time. This is all that's left of freedom in their minds. The "fruit" of freedom today is to turn the idea into something insubstantial — blather, or chatter, or, insubstantial lather. This is what came of the idea.
     Candy Cane freedom for its own sake is all well, as said; it is just fine. Many careers have been built on it --- on such freedom. That is just what Cain's freedom is based on, I should think, meaning on his own personal freedom. It isn't based on the struggle against slavery.
     Songs are written about fluffy candy cane freedom. The difficulty comes down to the fact that, as Orlando Patterson observes, the original idea occurring in history, may occur in relation to what it is not. Freedom is an old idea in the West but its real context is freedom from something else, which usually seems to mean bondage to others. There is something else, that freedom is supposed to protect you from.

     Fantasies by nature are ephemeral; fantasy does not protect anybody. To turn freedom into a fantasy is too easy and it deprives the concept of its original context, that of protecting something. It protected the members of a nation. It is not for one's mere business concern; but, rather, for the community, or, for the world. In this nation Americans have stopped conceptualizing, and no longer exercise, the freedom that originally intended as the meaning of freedom. That freedom was designed to protect --- against something else. That protection could only come through interaction and cooperation between members of a free society. The original concept promoted the desires of a particular group of persons. Who was that group? I think the founders --- of the United States of America, who were agitating for their freedom — but this is not freedom for the "self." In the historical context, the idea of freedom for the self is absurd.
     If this was only individual freedom, no one would have needed such a concept. No one would have had any use for the concept as it manifests in history — in the historical case. But history is exactly what the Americans today no longer care about. Americans today with their exuberant, fluffy version of freedom. And their Apples, and pink buttocks tights. The way Americans today believe in freedom comes with a consequence: you are going to end up destroying each one of the 200 million "selves" that you think each exist in an essentially masturbatory vacuum.
     So, best of luck with that one Mr. Cain — but, I don't think it is gonna work.

Now, regarding the Chanel bit. OK, here is a review; so we can look at the contrast of a real review and the Cain review. Unlike the NYRB review, this review receives my recommendation. I think so.

(1) As the NYRB documents, Cain, a hard-core conservative rightist, plays on the social debates to make  clever use of the word "planation."