Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Today's Dumb

I'm getting ready to jump back into Atlas Shrugged, but with major changes. Summarizing the plot was boring and painful, and I'm not going to keep doing it. Instead, I'm going to cherrypick moments of dumb from each week's selection and complain about how monumentally stupid they are, starting Friday. In the meantime, shorters.

They say the lights are always bright on Broadway ... :

Megan is wrong. Broadway has never been better. Why do I say this? Because Will Ferrell is about to star there as George Bush in "You're Welcome America". Fuck yes.

Obama goes the extra bipartisan mile:

I deduce from Obama's surprisingly aggressive bipartisanship that he fears there is a good chance that his stimulus package will cost a lot of money, and we will still be deep in the economic doldrums two years hence.
But by then all these problems with the economy will be Obama's fault, because he didn't allow the market to fix itself. Megan's memory will be very short come the 20th.

Patient, heal thyself:

If we allow people who have no experience with western medical systems to have self-controlled free access to such a system they tend not to know how to make full use of it. Thus we see that attempts at reforming our system will fail.

It's the thought that counts:
Think you got shafted this year? I point you to this. Count your new white cotton underwear, and your blessings.
(Fug the link.) Megan will not hear any bitching about Christmas being ruined by Dad being laid off or the like. She got hers, stfu.

Explicit costs, hidden benefits:

This is a wonderful post. Instafuckingracistasshole and Megan got caught in a real bind. You see, being libertarians they're naturally opposed to parents who choose to not to have their children immunized for fear of the rare but serious potential side-effects which are, today, often more common than the diseases being immunized against. Sad as I am to say it, I think I agree with Instadouche and Megan on this one, but she's about to make it ok.
[Instafuck sez]
Keeping a society functioning requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work by people who don't usually get a lot of attention--sanitation engineers, utility linemen, public health nurses, farmers, agricultural chemists and so on. Because the efforts of these workers are often undramatic, they are underappreciated and frequently underfunded. Politicians like to cut ribbons on new bridges or schools, but there's no fanfare for the everyday maintenance that keeps the bridges standing and the schools working. As a result, critical parts of society are quietly decaying, victims of complacency or of active neglect.
[Megan sez, my emphasis] That argument could be made, and perhaps should be made, just as well about financial and regulatory infrastructure. Though I'm not sure that there is any way to prevent 70-year events like the current mess, there are nonetheless decisions that seem lunatic, in retrospect. Why were Goldman, et al, allowed to lever up 30-to-1? Why, for that matter, did they want to? Well, because if you've gone for a long time without any problems, all you can see about the safeguards is that they're costing you money.
The problem is that it simply won't do to say that we ought to be institutionally risk averse. All of these arguments could be applied just as well to gay marriage or abortion law or universal health care, if you lean that way--it's no good just saying that it hasn't hurt Sweden, because the deluge might still await.
Libertarians, conservatives, and progressives all need a better metric for distinguishing between the areas where we're improving on problems, and areas where we're simply eating our institutional and cultural seed corn. Unfortunately, trial and error may turn out to be the best we've got.
This is one of those moments where I don't quite know how to snark Megan's droolings. There's no argument for why her and Instaprobablyadaterapist can ignore the obvious even to her applicability of their argument to regulation of financial markets, just simple, rank, hypocrisy. I'm curious as to why she felt the need to point it out for the rest of us.

Death be not proud:
I wonder if what Galbraith saw in the unusually low suicide statistics for 1929 was the confounding effect of crisis. Suicide tends to fall during crises--they take peoples' minds off themselves. So perhaps everyone outside of Wall Street was too busy watching the stock market collapse to think about the mess of their own lives--but suicide rates leapt for those on center stage. Certainly, there have been quite a few highly publicized suicides so far that can be directly attributed to the declining markets, and sadly, I doubt we've seen the last.
So don't worry about the effects of the economic troubles on the little people, they're actually being helped by having no money to buy a gun. Worry about the important people, when they die it matters.

N that's that. Hello Tbogg readers. Yes, I wish Clem would post more often, too.

5 comments:

Mr. Wonderful said...

"Suicide tends to fall during crises--they take peoples' minds off themselves."

For some reason--go understand people, as Philip Roth says--this line makes me furious and makes me realize that I will never believe anything MM says, even if it might be true. Not that my reaction is arbitrary. The idea that anyone who (as I've said here before) takes Atlas Shrugged seriously enough to adapt a character's name as her own, is to laff. The notion that such people know anything at all about human psychology is, once it stops being an obscenity, also amusing.

Anonymous said...

Sure, Megan is an untalented writer who applies minimal thinking skills to her job(life?)but you must admit she is totally fucking hot.If she would only take some style cues from Bianca Beauchamp she would definitely improve her econoblogging.

Susan of Texas said...

Improve her econoblogging or your fantasy life? One of those things is useless the rest of us!

Susan of Texas said...

"useless for the rest"

Anonymous said...

in his book the Great Crash 1929 Galbaith notes that the sucide rates (he inculdes stats) were low in 1929 but rose between 1930-33 the depth of depression and in people's memory bsu. It's not the event itself that breaks most sprits - its the days after that when nothing changes and indeed gets worse. I'd hate to see the suicde stats are for New Orleans these last few years.