Barack H. Obama will be re-elected in 2012.

I don’t usually make predictions, especially that far in advance, but that one approximates a no-brainer. The subordinate prediction, that Mitt Romney will never be elected President of the United States, requires roughly the same level of foresight.

The media-based “vetting” process is designed and skilfully constructed to identify the Republican candidate most like a Democrat. Since detecting the difference between a Romney administration and an Obama administration would be impossible without a mass spectrograph and a sensitive gravitometer, that’s Mitt. (And before you object, yes, that includes Supreme Court appointments.) Plastic imitations are only popular when they’re cheaper than the real thing. Faced at the polls with the choice between a real Democrat and ersatz, people will either vote for the real one or stay at home.

There are, as usual, some important issues facing the country. As usual, important issues are also uncomfortable issues, so people prefer to avoid them in favor of the People magazine level, i.e., delicious sex-related “scandals” and what the candidates did when they were fifteen (the two are often related, of course). Also as usual, any important issue disfavors Democrats, so the media are all-out to shift the focus to things that are titillating but barely if at all relevant. And again as usual, the easy path for Republican candidates and their staffs is to exploit the media’s predilections in order to cut down the competition for the nomination. It is, after all, the only way to get teevee time, but it’s positive feedback reinforcing the search for the most-nearly Democratic Republican.

Mitt Romney could at least partly short-circuit that if he cared to, but clearly he does not. If the Romney organization met each media blitz against his Republican challengers by emphasizing his stand on the issues and being publicly insistent on that, a good deal of the irrelevancy could be put behind us. The difficulty there is that Romney and his staff are comfortably aware that he is the Republican most like a Democrat, and thereby well-nigh immune to the sort of challenge currently facing, e.g., Herman Cain. That being the case, Romney just sits the disputes out, careful not to let his satisfied smile at seeing another challenger cut down show to anyone likely to publicize it. Of course, the media and their Democratic Party co-conspirators are busily saving up bits; they won’t use them against Romney while he’s contesting against other Republicans, but once the general election is on there will be damaging stuff emerging in every news cycle. Why that concept is, or at least appears to be, obscure to Romney & Co. is a mystery, of course, just as it was with John McCain, but it’s true nevertheless.

Republicans, especially those with Tea Party sympathies, would be well advised to regard the Presidential nomination process as a sideshow, to be enjoyed during free time but not taken seriously. It does have the value that it will distract a great deal of media attention from the lower-level races where success is actually possible. Have fun, and pile on when you have the opportunity, but the work is getting Republican candidates with Tea Party allegiance elected at every possible level below the Presidency, from the Senate right down to dog catcher in places where that’s an elective office. As an important secondary effort, it is also needful to root the would-be Democrats out of the Party organization. They’re too useful to the Romneys and McCains to leave in place. It ain’t glamorous, but it might allow something to be saved in all the mess.

What I find most interesting about the recent set of SpecOps successes is the implications. These come in two flavors:

1) The SpecOps guys appear to have a pretty free hand. Several of the missions, including this one, are the kind of thing that would have been “bumped upstairs” for approval — and likely would not have got it from Bush or any other Republican, on the ground that it would cause howls from the New York Times and sundry other operators.

We know for sure (because we’ve seen it in speech and action) that President Obama knows nothing whatever about the military, and that his advisory circle takes Clintonian contempt for medal-jinglers into deliberate pig-ignorance of anything resembling military matters. This makes it fairly easy for the military people who advise him to slip things by; all they have to do is descend into jargon that Cheney (for one) would have found transparent, but none of the people around Obama have any comprehension of. If there were a way to settle the bet, I’d put my hundred against your ten that Barack Obama has “signed off” on any number of things he didn’t understand, but was convinced that he did understand.

But the results have either been successful or successful cover-ups of operations that didn’t work, and that, in turn, has redounded to Obama’s benefit in terms of even Rightists offering him grudging approval. In effect, he’s King Log on the subject, and that’s turned out well for him politically as well as for the United States in the “war on terror” in general. Would that we could convince him to do the same for general governance, particularly in economics.

2) The military, themselves, appear to be iterating in on something I’ve wanted to see for a long time: concentrating on the kingpins and not the goons.

The Laws of War as they presently exist clearly show the influence of the European system as a descendant of the quasi-feudal States. It’s OK, even praiseworthy, to machine-gun grunts in columns of droves, but going after the Princes who set the whole thing up in the first place is a no-no. This has for years struck me as precisely backwards. In the commonest case, the average foot soldier has little or nothing against his opponent across No Man’s Land that isn’t the result of propaganda emanating from his (self-declared) Betters. It’s the leadership who are responsible for setting up the conditions necessary to have a war, and by the Geneva Conventions and the other Laws of War, including the Executive Order against “targeted assassination”, those leaders are sacrosanct. This is an unhealthy echo of the days when a Prince and his circle of chums could decide to attack the neighbors for entertainment, in the confident knowledge that only the churls and serfs would suffer any ill effect.

The SpecOps guys don’t appear to have much patience with that notion. Modern technology has given them both the ability to hit relatively circumscribed targets and the intelligence to find out where they are. Those who complain that Ansar al-Awlaki or Osama bin Laden did nothing but talk miss the point. It’s the talk that results in footsoldiers blowing people up. Stop the talk by doing away with the talkers, and the inspiration isn’t there any more.

Imagine yourself with a drone armed with Hellfire missiles, translated somehow to the Reichsparteitage in, say, 1937. Hitler, Himmler, and Goering in one go, and the likelihood of the German Government continuing on the course we all remember would have been nil. This is not to say all the results would have been positive — you would be prosecuted for War Crimes and hung, for instance — but 1940 to 1945 would have very likely have been a good deal more peaceful.

I personally would be very happy with a system that concentrated on the leadership, rather than wasting ammunition blowing away grunts. If somebody wanted that to be reciprocal, yeah, I’m fine with that. Under our system, politicians are interchangeable parts — not even Obama, with his radical notions of how things ought to go, has really been able to move the vector much, considered in large, and in general if somebody shoots one President there are plenty of wannabees waiting in the wings. The sort of regimes likely to wage war on us, either conventional or by terrorism and stealth, are led by people who are unique and irreplaceable. Put a cruise missile into the West Wing, and things would go on much as before; send little bits of Bashir Assad into low earth orbit, and Syria would become a very different place in short order. (Whether “different” means “better” or “worse” would have to wait on events, of course — but the United States wouldn’t even be significantly different; vide John F. Kennedy and aftermath.)

From visible actions, it would appear the SpecOps community feels much the same, and I’m glad to see it — and to see that Obama’s inaction based on ignorance has both encouraged that tendency and given him reason to continue inaction.

To be erected at all major entry crossings:

Welcome to Texas

PSA

There should also be a poster version, to be placed in airports where it will be visible to debarking passengers.

(PhotoShop via Gerard van der Leun, who has other observations)

Carbon is irrelevant. If you tune in to some part of the “debate”, and the participants are going on about Eevill CO2 and Saving the Planet, turn it off and go elsewhere. It simply means all of those people are liars and/or too ignorant to pound sand.

If the pipeline is not built, another will be, from the tar sands deposits to the Canadian West Coast, completely outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Government (much to the frustration of the IRS and the other TLAs). It will be cheaper than Keystone-XL; not only will it be shorter, it will be cheaper per linear measure because it will be built under Canadian regulations, which focus on (gasp! choke!) pipeline safety, rather than maximizing saliva generation when kissing environmentalist ass. The oil will be pumped to Vancouver, where it will be loaded on tankers and taken (mostly) to China, where it will be burned to provide power to industry.

The oil will be produced, whether Keystone-XL is built or not.

The oil will be burned, whether Keystone-XL is built or not.

The carbon will enter the atmosphere, whether Keystone-XL is built or not.

So in this particular case, both “anthropogenic global warming” and environmental degradation at the production zone are irrelevant. The carbon dioxide is gonna get into the atmosphere, and the tar sands deposits are gonna get mined, whether Keystone-XL is built or blocked. There are some (minor) issues regarding environmental impact of the pipeline, and those might be worth debate, but Saving the Earth is not an issue in this context, and anybody who starts bloviating, passionately or otherwise, about Global Warming and CO2 emissions is too stupidly self-centered to realize what’s going on and/or deliberately trying to confuse the issue. Shut ’em out.

…who can see lightning and hear thunder. Remarkable.

…the starkest fact for socialists: namely, that there is today no political organization – or coalition or network – remotely close to being able to command a majority for anything like socialism, under any meaning.

RTWT, and be sure to follow the last link in the essay. Geras is always worth your time, even when he’s blogging about soap (he even manages to make the cricket marginally interesting, at whiles). He is a person who knows his material, and isn’t bashful about saying so.

Commenter prochazka_the_insane suggests that

The biggest factor that positively reinforces this kind of economic idea is the visible success of corrupt politicians and crony capitalists.

I’m sorry, but no. That’s Populist dogma — the Fat Cats and Moneybags Are Robbing Us Blind! — and the difference between Populists and Progressives is like the difference between Communists and Fascists, viz., the people in the camps are too busy trying to keep breathing to care what the Commandant preaches. What prochazka calls “Magical Thinking” has its roots much farther back.

Humanity originated as small bands of hunter-gatherer-scavengers, and lived that way for at least hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. If there is anything at all to the idea of “innate behaviors” those behaviors were developed during that time, which is long enough for evolution to develop traits. The few piddly millenia since the invention of language, tools, agriculture, et. al. (in whatever order) are not nearly enough for the slow mechanisms of natural selection to get a grip on the subject. In particular, rational analysis has only been around for a few centuries, and compared to the time our ancestors spent ranging the countryside hunting for food, that isn’t even a rounding error.

Emotional reactions are, at root, changes in endocrine balance, physical changes in our body chemistry, and (at least for most of us) aren’t subject to rational control, but like any other physical quality are subject to natural selection. We (at least some of us) have been subjected to training and education in early childhood and later, which enables us to override our emotional reactions (at least sometimes), but even the most rational of us feels the emotions developed by eons of evolution. That evolution took place long before there were any of the features of modern life, and were fixed at that time.

Now, if you haven’t already, go back and read the previous post. You may find it unbelievable, but I do not. What you’re looking at there is the reason long-range weapons were developed, from bows and arrows to tranquilizer guns, and dollars to doughnuts three-fifths of the suggestions readers might come up with as ways to handle the situation involve modern tools, from knives to pistols to tying the animal to the bumper of the pickup and dragging it. Even those might not help. I’ve known more than one hunter who’s shot a deer, approached the limp body, and been hurt when the wounded animal found the resources to lash out.

What that story confirms is the suggestion, made some time ago, that the “hunter” part of the description of our ancestors is likely to be highly overstated in the interest of self-image. The (now) Educated Rancher had on sturdy clothes, had a rope, a squeeze chute, and a pickup truck, and could have availed himself of a knife, a gun, or even a club. Imagine the Mighty Hunter of 1,000,000 BC, naked or nearly so, equipped with (at most) a rock. How would he have fared in that situation? It is to laugh, at this safe distance. MH probably didn’t find it at all amusing.

That points to what can only be speculation, but is persuasive nonetheless: what the hunters hunted for was stashes. Plants bearing fruit, growths of grain, recently-born litters of animals still too weak to resist, nesting birds, streams with fish, and (bonanza!) the kills of predators that didn’t finish them off[1] had to be the goals of their search, and they would either bring their finds back to the tribe or lead the tribe to the food source, that they might eat and survive. This is not to say that they never made kills, but bearing in mind the relative strengths of humans and prey animals those had to be rare, at least until the relatively late time when weapons were invented.

The stashes existed or not, and the hunters found them or not. From the hunters’ point of view, stashes appeared more or less at random, not in any way subject to their control. There was nothing the hunter, or the whole tribe, could do to make the stashes. A hunter who did not bring the stash back home, or lead the tribe to it so they could feast, was a deep-dyed villain whose greed threatened the very survival of the tribe. Tribes whose hunters did that died out, so the desirable behavior — providing the stash to the tribe — was conserved by evolution, as was the emotional reaction that helped drive that behavior. Hunters who ate part of the stash before providing it to the others were more ambivalently villainous. Certainly they were depriving the tribe of nutrition, but on the other hand, the hunters had to be the strongest (and therefore the best fed) of the tribe in order to do their work. Emotional resentment of those who didn’t bring it all home therefore exists, but is muted.

The conditions that make up an agricultural society, or even more an industrial one, are intellectual constructs that totally violate our emotional reactions. Agriculture depends on protecting the crop from opportunists before it is harvested for the use of the agriculturalist, but to the tribe from over the hill, still living as hunter-gatherer-scavengers, the crop is a gigantic stash that, if exploited, would enable the whole group to gorge themselves. The crop’s defenders are, to the tribe, interlopers to be driven off or killed and resented, even hated, for interfering with the tribe’s access to food, no different from the hyenas they had to compete with to get the remnants of the lion’s kill. The farmer, on the other hand, has achieved a triumph of rationality. To him and his fellows the growing crop is still a stash, but if they wait ’til it’s ripe, harvest it, and save some for next year’s planting, they can eat well for an indefinite period of time. Gorging on the stash is still attractive emotionally, but time-binding rationality overcomes the emotional reaction.

Capital goods — the “means of production” that are the foundation of wealth in an industrial society — are even worse, “crops” taken to some large power. There before us is an immense stash whose guardians, who ought to be acting like good hunters and distributing it to Feed The Children, instead defend it with fervor that can only be attributed (by the emotionally-driven) to the same “greed” that caused primitive tribes to die out, and therefore fixed the emotional reaction to “greed” in the survivors. The idea that that stash enables production, which will enable many more people to eat than it will provide if consumed directly, is an intellectual construct that runs counter to our emotional reactions. Watching the “fatcats” consuming a portion of that production before distributing it adds to the resentment, in the same way that the hunter who consumed part of the stash before bringing it home was resented.

Is that the whole of the explanation? You are dealing here with the person who proposed Ric’s Rule #1 (“It ain’t that simple”). Of course not! But if you observe the behavior of leftoids, from Populists wailing against “banksters” and “corporate greed” to full-bore Marxists, it’s pretty damned plausible. They are reacting emotionally to the existence of stashes, which their “instincts” (that is, the emotional reactions developed by hunter-gatherer-scavenger tribes) say appear at random without human input, and should be shared to insure the tribe’s survival. The rest is elaboration and rationalization, rather than rational analysis. It isn’t “Magical Thinking”. It’s primitive emotionalism.

So the next time a leftoid brags about how intellectually superior he or she is, laugh in their faces. They have rejected a rational analysis of the situation, substituting a rationalization of what is, in fact and at the root of all the pseudo-intellectualism, primitive emotion. They aren’t Progressives, let alone promoting the Advance of History; they are Retrogressives, looking “forward” to wandering the plains with a rock in hand, hoping to find a lion-kill with few enough hyenas to run them off and feast. The only possible result of implementing that philosophy is destruction of the industrial civilization that supports us all, and the fact that they’re oblivious to that only makes it clear that they aren’t any sort of “intellectual”.


[1] Eeew? It is to chortle. With the conspicuous exception of birds and fish, which are small enough for a bare-handed human to overcome and rot very quickly, it is well-nigh universal even today that meat which has been “hung” or “aged” — that is, allowed to rot for a bit — is tastier than fresh. The more pretentious steak houses even do it in class cases at the front of the restaurant, so people can see what they’re getting. This is actually one of the stronger points of circumstantial evidence leading to the above hypothesis.

…but what it is, is an email sent by one of my cousins, who is apparently on a goodly number of amusing-stories mailing lists. Factual account or not, it’s illustrative of a point I’d like to make later.


Actual letter from someone who farms, writes well and tried this:

I had this idea that I could rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it.. the first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up– 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold.

The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it, it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope .., and then received an education. The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED. The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity. A deer– no chance.

That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined. The only upside is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.

A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.

I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual.

Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn’t want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder – a little trap I had set before hand..kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite?

They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when … I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head–almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.

The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective.

It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day. Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp. I learned a long time ago that, when an animal –like a horse –strikes at you with their hooves and you can’t get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away. So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope to sort of even the odds. All these events are true so help me God…

An Educated Rancher

(Being an item from the “drafts” pile that never got finished and posted. It was topical at the time.)

Stacy McCain goes postal on the class warriors:

Contrary to all the class-warfare demagoguery pouring forth from Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself), conservatives do not oppose tax increases because we are beholden to the rich. Rather, the question is whether wealth does more good when it is invested in the private sector, to create jobs and economic growth, or surrendered to the federal government as taxes to support the metastatic growth of a pestiferous bureaucracy.

There’s a problem with that. See the bolded part? Leftoids don’t believe a word of it — it’s practically the definition of a Leftist, most especially including Democrats.

Leftoids don’t believe in production. Wealth simply is — it exists out there somewhere, put there by forces beyond the ken of mortals. “The Rich” are people who have discovered some, purely by chance, and are fiendishly refusing to share with the rest of the tribe. One of the posters at Chicago Boyz first introduced me to the term “the seekrit stash”, the pile of wealth that’s out there somewhere, jealously guarded by its discoverers to keep it away from the People. Kurt Vonnegut called it the Money River, an endless supply of cash flowing freely through obscure faraway canyons, to which The Rich lead their offspring and a few selected friends that they may slurp.

Leftoids don’t even believe in production when they’re doing it. Spend any time at all with a UAW member, and it will finally dawn on you that he doesn’t seriously believe he’s making cars. He’s getting a paycheck, and all that nonsense with tools and bolts and hunks of metal that they have to do on the shop floor is just meaningless hoops the nasty, tightwad rich bastards in Teh Management make them negotiate before they’ll hand out the money. That’s also why they don’t, in general, give a damn whether or not they build good cars. “Building cars” is just an excuse used by Teh Rich to force Teh Workers into an awkward, demeaning, inferior position before coughing up the dough, and it ain’t faaaaair.

It follows that there’s no such thing as “the means of production”. The only reality a factory or farm has for leftoids is that it’s a huge pile of wealth which is guarded by people who make lame excuses for holding on to what rightfully belongs to Teh People, and which must be immediately seized and distributed to Teh Poor and Unfortunate (after modest deductions for the living expenses of those doing the seizing and distributing, natch.) They are then astonished — perplexed! — when (unexpectedly!) the products are no longer available and the jobs no longer exist, or when somebody elsewhere sets up production and wants to be paid for the output. What rotten luck! Whatever shall we Feed the Children?

“Populists” are little if any better. It’s just way unfaaaaair that the Greedy Corporations have the audacity to charge for their products and (gasp, choke, waaaaaah!) keep some of the money. Punish them! Tax ’em ’til they scream! Take away their corporate jets! When you discover that attitude on what is supposedly “the Right”, you should immediately realize why it is that the leftoids are so (otherwise unaccountably) successful. It’s hard to win when you keep handing your head to the enemy.

The atomic unit of economics is the transaction. All analogy is suspect, but that one is better than most. There are “particle physicists” who study things smaller than atoms, and “chemists” who study the interaction of atoms without much concern for smaller units. Similarly, we have psychologists who study the internal details of people’s interactions with one another, and economists who study the interactions themselves and their ramifications. Particle physicists and chemists each gain some information from the other’s work, but their interactions are minimal. Similarly, psychologists and economists learn from one another, but (e.g.) studying pedophilia doesn’t give much insight into the price of eggs in Estonia, and vice versa.

There are several types of transactions, though many fewer than there are types of atoms. The word “transaction” is cognate with “transformation”, and that makes sense because, like a transformation, a transaction begins with an initial state and, via some action or set of actions, results in a different resulting state.

The most common type of transaction, and the one most fundamental to understanding an economy, is the exchange or trade. It begins with the initial state

A has X, B has Y

and the process results in the final state

A has Y, B has X

Chemical reactions do not occur without something to drive them. Similarly, economic transactions do not occur unless some force promotes them. That force is want, which can be understood in either of its two most common usages: lack and desire. At this level of analysis, the two meanings are identical. A person who lacks food desires some; a person who desires food is in lack of enough to satisfy that desire. Either way, want drives the “exchange” transaction.

That sets up additional conditions for the initial and final states. If we start with the initial conditions above, we can add four possibilities for want:

  1. A wants X.
  2. A wants Y.
  3. B wants X.
  4. B wants Y.

They can then be combined:

  1. A wants X, B wants Y.
  2. A wants X, B wants X.
  3. A wants Y, B wants Y.
  4. A wants Y, B wants X.

Beginning with the initial state, there are then four possibilities:

  1. Each is satisfied, that is, each wants what they have. No transaction occurs.
  2. A is satisfied, but B is not. B would prefer that the transaction occur, but A resists. No transaction occurs.
  3. B is satisfied, but A is not. A would prefer that the transaction occur, but B resists. No transaction occurs.
  4. A and B are both dissatisfied. The transaction occurs, driven by mutual want, ending in the final state.

The transaction thus transforms state 4 to state 1: at the beginning both A and B are dissatisfied because they want what the other has. At the end each is satisfied by having what they want. As is required by the laws of physics, the process includes (an analogy to) entropy, that is, it isn’t reversible if only that limited set of conditions is considered. Reversing it would convert state 4 to state 1, which goes against the wants of both parties and thus requires an external force.

The name of the entropy-analogy is profit. In the transformation of state 1 to state 4 each becomes more satisfied, that is, each profits by the exchange. More subtly, A and B are in the real world embedded in a society, and the fact that each is happier, more satisfied, wealthier than before the exchange translates into greater wealth for that society.

This analysis is not nearly sufficient for understanding all of economics; just so, knowledge of “molecular bonds”, the fundamental unit of chemistry, is not sufficient to understand, say, the synthesis of Teflon® from petroleum feedstocks. However, a wannabee chemist will never understand the subject without knowledge about molecular bonds, and a wannabee economist will never figure out what’s going on without an understanding of transactions, particularly the trade or exchange. Beware of “economists” who claim that state 4 can be transformed to state 1 without external forces; more to the point, be very wary of anyone who claims that states 2 and 3 can be transformed to state 4 without cost. Explosions may result.

Moe Lane has a modest proposal:

Let’s combine a new CCC program with a student loan forgiveness deal: twice minimum wage, but every dime above minimum gets deducted automatically and goes to pay off your student loan principal.

Unfortunately it doesn’t go far enough, and therefore fails in its didactic purpose.

The Moonbat Conservation Corps shouldn’t actually get wages, as such. They should get a tent, a bedroll, and three squares a day, and at regular intervals (perhaps weekly) they should get $20 to squander on personal gratification. The rest of their (nominal) wage should go to repay the loan.

What they should not get is heating, air conditioning, electric power to charge their iWhatevers and game consoles, or the use of powered machinery, all of which (gasp! the horror!) emit CARBON DIOXIDE, THE RUINATION OF THE PLANET. Building a campfire should result in instant dismissal, with a Stripping of Insignia ceremony borrowed from “Danny Deever”. Their meals, of course, should conform to the nutritional advice du jour of the food-health nannies. Perhaps we could get Mr. Giuliani to act as Chief Nutritionist.

Their employment need not depend on the existence of potholes. Many of them could be used on the farms of the Midwest — a gang using short-handled hoes should be easily able to meet the EPA dust restrictions — and many more could be employed on treadmills, running electric generators to substitute for them nasty ol’ coal-fired power plants. A minority could be given rags and squeegees, which they could use to wipe the efficiency-robbing grime and/or snow deposits from solar panels, and an even smaller group might be technically inclined enough to be given climber’s straps and put to work repairing broken windmills, of which we already have an elegant sufficiency and will get more.

The only real problem would be finding overseers, but that would probably solve itself. Historical evidence suggests that the necessary lash-wielders can be drawn from the population of workers, with no extra costs involved. I suggest Al Gore as overall manager of the program, with Michael Moore as advisor on matters of justice and fair play. The rest of the posts can be easily filled by the normal process of bureaucratic hiring, although for verisimilitude we should probably require Southern accents for most of the managers. This can work!

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:fx:Calvin eyes:Puuleeeez?
You don't know many people who need it more.

When I Posted

November 2020
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