Saturday, August 22, 2009

Random Thoughts #5

Thanks a lot, whoever said you shouldn't talk about politics and religion with friends at dinner! Now I can't talk over food and people think I'm a schizoid freak!

(I probably am a schizoid freak, but I'd rather they came to that conclusion somewhere else.)

Ow My Aching Back...

Had to unload about a dozen boxes of books at the bookstore annex today.

When I get early-onset arthritis, I know who to sue.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Greed is Good?!

Well, not so much "Greed is good" as "greed can be manipulated" or "the greed of others sates the greed of your own".

It's the basis of all capitalistic deals, really---I have something of moderate value to me and higher value to you (say, a PS2 with Persona 4?). You have something of a moderate value to yourself (or even zero value) but very high value to me (a full computer game rig!). We being the greedy bastards we are, we trade, and we each walk away rubbing our hands together in a really devious way and saying "sucker."

It's the same once money is introduced, or the items being traded are abstractions like oil futures or soybean insurance. Value is massively relative; $5000 for you might be worth less, much less, than a stake in an oil company, but give it to me and I'm likely to spend it on something I value more, whether college or computer systems. Or, more dramatically, a supermarket candy bar might be worth about a dollar to me, but its worth is near infinite to a hypoglycemic who needs a sugar fix to live.

Taking the last example, there's little reason the supermarket wouldn't charge "near infinite" money to the hypoglycemic for the candy bar, but of course there are always other places to get a candy bar. Gas stations, vending machines, other supermarkets---they all place small enough value on the chocolate, but plenty of value on the hypoglycemic's cash, and they're all competing for the same (limited) set of funds. And while we can imagine (albeit with difficulty) a massive candy bar cartel artifically keeping prices high, the first person to break from the cartel and lower his price is going to get the payment for the candy, so it's to everybody's advantage to lower prices and try to get their greedy white gloves on business.

So where social judges get their charges of "price gouging" and "unfair pricing" is a mystery to me...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Random Thoughts #4

I've decided, after meditating a lot on Random Thought #3: Androgyny turns me on.

Original Rags Scott Joplin.

Now why can't modern music be this bright? (And lyrical without lyrics...but that's just me)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grand Political Visions; or, If I Ran the World...

A fair number of people in real life ask me, "Hey, Davin, where the heck are you politically?" I want to say "conservative-ish", but some recent developments in the conserative party (in particular people like Huckabee) make me kinda doubt that, and saying "Buckley-Goldwater conservative" is a great way to make people go "huh?" With that in mind, I'm going to call myself "classical liberal", and point anyone who asks to this particular post. Specifically:

  • National government should dedicate its time and money to a few national-interest things, and do those things well. This means things like a strong military (though not necessarily big or pervasive) and well paved cross-country roads. This does not include providing for businesses (see below) or people.
  • Free market capitalism, pure supply and demand, raw profit motive is the most efficient way to distribute limited things among unlimited wants, and does a remarkable job of addressing various societal ills that would normally be fixed by fiat. If, for instance, women are paid 75% of the wages men are for the same amount and difficulty of work, then a company would be insane to hire three men; instead for the same money, it would hire four women, get more work done, and drive its competitors into the dirt. This would increase the demand for women workers, and to attract them companies would raise their offered wages, eventually getting to general wage equality. The same can be argued if black, gay, etc., were substituted for women.
  • The most complete intellectual threat to free market capitalism may be socialism, but the most immediate threat is capitalists looking for a political advantage by government. These capitalists seem to be trying for a sort of neo-mercantilism, protecting companies in-country and imagining outflowing wealth is lost, not invested or traded.
  • The government's job in international affairs is to project national interests. If these happen to overlap with international ones (e.g. a sort of Pan-Europe-U.S.-Japan free trade agreement), fine.
  • People aren't saints. The reason free market capitalism works so well is because it does not require people to be saints; in fact, one could argue that free market capitalism, understood a certain way, plays to the greedy instincts of others to sate your own greed. In theory, all deals should have both/all parties walk away from the table thinking "...sucker!", because everybody's gotten something he values more for something he values less (else why make the deal?).
  • Political and economic systems that claim to do it better than "dog-eat-dog" free market capitalism usually don't. Just look at the utopian societies of the 1800s and early 1900s, various African basket-cases, the old Soviet Union. Even more benevolent cases like Sweden lag in comparison with the rest of Europe.
  • Utopianism, whether in this life or the next, is for suckers.
  • Leave well enough alone in the case of social issues.
  • ...But come at me in a drug-addled stupor and don't be surprised if your head hurts when you're lucid again. (Self-defense, by hand, knife, or gun, is always in style.)
  • Precision of language helps everybody.
  • You can't necessarily say everybody's a minority (unless you mean a minority of one), or an oppressed class, or a blue-collar union man, or whatever. But at the end, everybody's a consumer.
  • Rationalism is awesome.
  • Goldwater had it right when he said "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" (Let's not get into how such a quote could be corrupted by terrorist-types, however)
  • Alinsky and Luntz are both morons.

I'll elaborate on various points here at random in later posts.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Like This Guy

The flipping CEO of Whole Foods doesn't much like the new comprehensive health care bill!

And apparently some people are planning a boycott of the store.

I'm not a particular fan of "organic" foods---for one, the thing's a government label and may not be "organic" as I know it, and for another, less chemical use means less crop per acre means increased costs---but maybe I'll stop by and pick up some crackers or something. There's supposed to be one near Harvey Mudd.

Random Thoughts #3

If gay men are supposed to be attracted to masculinity, is a man attracted to girly or not-particularly-manly men (like myself--what can I say, Link from the Legend of Zelda series looks nice) gay or compensating for a percieved lack of ability to attract women?