Saturday, November 17, 2007

Catching up

Megan has been much more productive since she got to Cambodia. I am overjoyed.
Even tho cat porn seems to be much loved, here's some shorterized Megan.

No justice, no peace: 30 years later, Cambodia is still struggling to find justice for the victims of its horrific killing fields, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

Institutional: Sure, I'm a Hayek/Friedman acolyte who wants the gov't to provide roads, police, and an army, period, but this trip really shows how institutions matter. The Khmer Rouge devastated the country in every imaginable way, and Cambodia is still struggling to overcome that legacy.
There are advantages to this for Cambodia now; the bad was (mostly) wiped out along with the good, although endemic corruption is one thing that seems to have survived the Khmer Rouge demonstration; perhaps this tells you just how deeply it's hard wired into us. The upside is that the ambassador says he's never seen a country so open to criticism and help; they have no traditions left to protect.
So, despite Cambodia being the fabled blank slate my ilk always dreams of, the one thing my trip here has shown me is how public insitutions are essential elements of an organized, peaceful, prosperous society, which is why we should privatize them all in the US.

Youth is wasted on the young: Megan's getting oooooo-oooooold. Megan's getting ooooooo-ooooooold. If her Althousian trajectory continues, she'll soon be drunk blogging about tall female bloggers not wearing flats around the Clenis, and how it demeans those bloggers to use their height like that. (Just a reminder, Ann Althouse, who I am not, has big boobs, and prefers low-cut blouses. She's also roughly 197, so it's kinda gross. This is why she gets jealous of younger bloggers who also have breasts.)
Getting back on point, apparently the young in a cripplingly poor country don't consider justice for crimes committed decades before they were born to be more important than food. Kids, eh?

Invidious comparison: Enough about what bad shape Cambodia is in, the more important thing is I'm a little cold.

God Bless America: It's so nice that the people of a country we bombed the shit out of and created a power void in that led to horrific mass killings aren't mad at us for it. It's almost as if they're putting on a welcoming face for the Western media in the hopes of attracting investments. But everyone I talk to says the same thing, so it couldn't possibly be message control, right? Just because I'm traveling with a group of gubbermint officials and potential investors and.....

On account: M. (checks.... yup, M.) did good work with this post exploring the revelation of why Megan is over there, and who the "we" she constantly mentions are. I'd like to focus on something different; Megan's confusion of accounting with capitalism.
We use accounting as a synonym for boring. Actually, it's not; it's fun in the same way that basic math is--if you do it right, everything smooths itself out into beautifully symmetrical answers. But more importantly, it's absolutely crucial to running any kind of a decent company, or economy. Accounting is just the sort of institution that development types are talking about when they say that "institutions matter". Accounting is the inherited wealth of generations of smart businessmen trying to make themselves smarter. You may think our great economic legacy is the factories and railroads and steel mills that litter the landscape, but it's not; it's the system by which we tell ourselves what we've got. Europe had all that other stuff basically bombed into nonexistance, and built it all back in a couple of decades. Places without decent accounting find it hard to get anything much more complicated than a Yak farm up and running. It's certainly not possible to have a capital market rich enough to fund a developed economy.

The developing world is lucky because it can import that human capital. Europe had to build it up over 500 years or so, which is why it took England a lot longer to get to $20,000 per capita GDP than it did Japan.
... Actually, I'm just going to let that stand. You don't need me to explain what's so mindbendingly stupid in those words, right?*

Stalking silk:
The making of silk is one of those things that could convert me to Intelligent Design, if they had it for societies, and if the US Congress weren't such an obvious counterexample.
The US Congress is a biological creature which either evolved into existence or wuz made by Gawd? I did not know that. Oh, wait, "if they had it for societies". Who are "they", and why are "they" keeping us from having Gawd's plan made real? Must be hippies.
Or maybe it's some corporate R&D, and they're holding out until divine plans can be patented.

Garmentos: *Sigh* If only we could exploit the Cambodian people the way we do the Vietnamese, or, even better, the Chinese. But nooooooooo, they're too busy trying to find a way out of crippling poverty. Ain't they ever heard of sweatshops?

*- Offer not valid for actual Megan fans who find their way here.


M. Bouffant said...

That "silk" thing was certainly stupid. Does she not understand that the Invisible Hand of The Free Market of Ideas gives us exactly the U. S. Congress we deserve?

Dep't. of Pop Psychology
Althouse/McArdle comparison:
You'll note that AA was an art student who became an att'y., & MM an English major forced to work as an econoblogger. You think there's a certain amount of dissatisfaction w/ their lots in life for each of them?

Anonymous said...

What a twit she is! Unless you're running the yak farm solely for your own subsistence* needs (and I think that most yak farmers are typically nomadic rather than sedentary), you're going to need at least rudimentary accounting skills! Unless she thinks that it doesn't matter to the farmer if he/she runs the yak farm at a loss?

Gaaaah. I HATE math and even I am a better economist than she is! Or at least a better accountant. And human being.

* Where 'profit' equals 'milk, meat, and yak wool for patching the yurt' and 'loss' equals 'no yaks'.