Adam Smith Thinks Donald Trump Sucks

(Cross posted from comment 101 at Crooked Timber diary, Comment 101, Towards An Economics of Unhappiness)
http://crookedtimber.org/2011/04/12/towards-an-economics-of-unhappiness/#comment-355116s of Unhappiness)

(Wealth of Nations quote courtesy of Brad DeLong) http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/04/what-is-human-nature-two-views-from-adam-smith.html

What Is Human Nature? Two Views from Adam Smith:


But in Book III things change. Humans are no longer naturally sociable beings with a propensity to trade seeking material comfort. Instead, they are creatures of "rapine and violence," desperate for "power and protection," vain and seeking luxury, unwilling to take pains to pay attention to small savings and small gains, loving to domineer, mortified at even the thought of having to persuade his inferiors.  (hmmmm. Sound like anyone we know who has a bad hair day every day?)


This is a different "Adam Smith problem" than is usually posed. And, I think, it is in many ways more interesting than the standard Adam Smith problem from Book III of the Wealth of Nations:

 

 

There's more...

Adam Smith Thinks Donald Trump Sucks

(Cross posted from comment 101 at Crooked Timber diary, Comment 101, Towards An Economics of Unhappiness)
http://crookedtimber.org/2011/04/12/towards-an-economics-of-unhappiness/#comment-355116s of Unhappiness)

(Wealth of Nations quote courtesy of Brad DeLong) http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/04/what-is-human-nature-two-views-from-adam-smith.html

What Is Human Nature? Two Views from Adam Smith:


But in Book III things change. Humans are no longer naturally sociable beings with a propensity to trade seeking material comfort. Instead, they are creatures of "rapine and violence," desperate for "power and protection," vain and seeking luxury, unwilling to take pains to pay attention to small savings and small gains, loving to domineer, mortified at even the thought of having to persuade his inferiors.  (hmmmm. Sound like anyone we know who has a bad hair day every day?)


This is a different "Adam Smith problem" than is usually posed. And, I think, it is in many ways more interesting than the standard Adam Smith problem from Book III of the Wealth of Nations:

 

 

There's more...

Gov. Tom Corbett: Pennsylvania’s Savior

 

by Walter Brasch

 

            Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett may be the most adept politician in America.

            With the nation focused upon the union-busting Tea Party-backed Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Corbett has snuck in a plan to mine the state's resources, increase employment, reduce educational problems, and whack unions upside the head at the same time. Miraculously, the public sector unions, so happy they wouldn't lose collective bargaining, have even said they don't mind being whacked.

            In his first budget address, Corbett said he wants to freeze wages for all state employees, almost every one of them part of the middle class. Although the average wage is about $35,000 a year, according to AFSCME, the state’s primary union for public sector workers, families of four should easily be able to still afford the same luxuries as the governor who is paid $165,000 a year and has a mansion, expense account, and house staff.

            As a bonus, Corbett plans to freeze wages of all public school teachers. Those are the people whom Laura Bush numerous times while in Washington said were grossly underpaid. But, since she was a teacher and not a Wall Street banker—you know, the kind who make money the old-fashioned way, by stealing from the poor—it's obvious she was a tax-sucking Big Government, Commie-loving, knee-jerk liberal who worked only a six-hour day for only a half a year, and gorged herself at the public trough. Thus, her views should be dismissed as nothing less than self-aggrandizement at the public's expense.

            Cutting an additional $1 billion from public education is bringing Corbett cheers from the tax-burdened masses who have yet to figure out that the cuts will force local school boards to raise taxes to cover essential educational expenses. But, the brilliance of Tom Corbett is that by freezing teacher salaries, he also spares local school boards the sweat of trying to explain why they have to raise taxes, drop programs, and close schools.

            Now, let's look at the State System of Higher Education (SSHE). Corbett plans to reduce the $465 million appropriation to a lean $232 million, roughly what it was in 1983 when the state system was created. That's the true spirit of conservatism in America—bringing back the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president.

            The 14 state-owned universities enroll about 120,000 students. Some classes have only 40 students. That's highly inefficient. By cutting funding, Corbett helps assure fewer high-paid professors who inflame students with the ideas of left-wing radicals like Socrates, St. Augustine, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. There's hardly any difference between 40 and 200 students in a class. The prof still has to prepare only one syllabus, one lesson plan, and talks into only one microphone. Besides, testing is more efficient when it's computer-scored multiple choice questions. If students want to chat with their prof, all they have to do is take a number and wait their turn for their allocated five minutes face time each semester.

            Cutting resources also helps the socialization of the students. On at least one campus, all two-student dorm rooms now have three students in them. This is a 50 percent increase in student interaction, allowing for more academic discussions about a wide range of topics, such as ceramics (the proper way to smoke pot), nutrition (light vs. dark brews), and psychology (improving the effect of hazing techniques on freshmen.)

            And speaking of psychology, why do all the colleges have to have psych programs? Times are tough, and the luxury of a psych major at all the colleges doesn't fit into Corbett’s education plan. It would be more cost efficient for only six or seven colleges to teach psych courses, thus cutting excess faculty and resources, while filtering students into the more efficient large sections at fewer colleges.

            We also don't need geography courses at any of the colleges. How many Americans knew where Korea or Viet Nam were before we went to war? Grenada, Iraq, and Afghanistan? All we have to do is keep bombing countries, and Americans learn about them. No wasteful expenses like full-color maps, globes, or professors. End of that problem.

            The state can save money by dumping all foreign language programs. This is America, after all, and students should be speaking English.

            Music, art, and theatre programs can also be eliminated since anyone in the creative arts is a liberal hippie who doesn’t earn enough to contribute to Republican political campaigns but can cause trouble, nevertheless. For the same reason, social work programs should be cut. That would result in fewer social workers to record poverty, homelessness, and disabilities, making it seem that the Commonwealth is just chock full of rich people with no problems.

            Corbett has also brilliantly solved unemployment. The state appropriation, which will be only about 16 percent of the cost to run the colleges, will force higher tuition. This will yield one of two possibilities. First, it will separate the scum—the students who come from lower- and middle-class households—from the "true" scholars, the “preppies” who will be able to contribute to Republicans’ political campaigns. Second, if the masses wish to receive a college education, they will have to increase their work hours; their parents will have to work four jobs instead of three to afford tuition and the already extraordinarily outrageous fees. But there is light at the end of this tunnel of despair. Box stores and fast food restaurants always have openings. Not only will students not waste time by doing menial chores like studying, they and their families will help reduce the unemployment rate. And, remember, the family that works together for minimum wage suffers together, a true family value.

            Students not fortunate enough to afford college would be able to look forward to expelling a lot of gas. By pushing for even more drilling and by not taxing the gas extractors, Corbett, the industry’s mascot, creates even more jobs. Like the coal, steel, and timber industries, all of which once were unionized, the non-unionized natural gas industry will have to hire thousands. Since we know that the owners believe in social justice and the rights of their workers, they may even build company towns, complete with match-stick houses, stores selling overpriced merchandise, and company-paid doctors who may or may not treat green-mulch lung disease, depending upon the company’s cost-to-benefits ratio. If the owners become rich enough in the Commonwealth of No Tax Gassy Pennsylvania, they may even hire a recent lit grad to be the industry’s hazardous materials inspector.

            After 20 or 30 years, when the gas is mined out, and the companies move to other states to strip their resources and exploit their workers, Pennsylvanians will be able to proudly say they once worked for a fracking company—all thanks to the vision of Gov. Tom Corbett.

 

            [Walter Brasch is an award-winning columnist, and the author of 16 books. You may contact him at walterbrasch@gmail.com]

 

 

Breaking China--Legally

 

by Walter Brasch

 

        Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States this past week has been met by both praise and political posturing. Hu, an intellectual with a strong sense of culture, hopes he is leading what he wishes to be "a Harmonious Society" with peaceful development. To that end, Hu said his government was prepared to “engage in dialogue and exchanges with the United States on the basis of mutual respect and the principle of noninterference in each other's internal affairs” on human rights questions. Although it seems as if Hu is saying that he wants each nation to continue to conduct its business without interference, he also acknowledged that “A lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights."

           But, some politicians, apparently feeling a need to make sure their home base knows they aren't weak on Communism, have called him a dictator, gangster, and emperor. Very few have spoken out about American-owned companies downsizing and outsourcing everything to China from toys and clothing to book printing and building materials.

           Although China is the world's second largest economic power behind the U.S. and this country's largest creditor, there is no need to fear either its economy or its military power. It has already sown the seeds of its own destruction.

           In 1996, there were almost no lawyers in China. By 2000, there were 110,000. There are now almost 200,000.

           With a society of lawyers, China is likely to collapse. Let's take an example. Ling Chou is riding his bicycle on Chairman Mao Boulevard. He starts to turn left, but is hit by a bicycle being ridden by Chang Liu. Under the principles of Confucianism, before there were lawyers, the two would see if each other was hurt, help out if necessary, and apologize profusely. If a bicycle was dented, the other person would fix it. If there weren't injuries or dents, they would shake hands and go their own ways. With lawyers, you don't do that. Ling grabs his lawyers; Chang grabs his own lawyers. It takes six inches of paperwork, a preliminary hearing before a magistrate, and two, maybe three continuances before the case comes before a judge. Then there are the bailiffs, marshals, clerks, typists, stenographers, and court reporters. After a three-day trial—during which three doctors from each side testify, and get paid very well for their conflicting opinions about back injuries and mental trauma—the judge decides the case. The whole thing takes a year. Maybe two.

           Now, let's look at the criminal side of law. In the past, Chinese citizens could walk down any street late at night and wouldn't even worry about a "Boo!" Now, with lawyers, you have to have criminals. So, the crime statistics go up. More lawyers show up. Some to prosecute. Some to defend. Before lawyers, China had work camps. Now there will be guards and wardens and rehabilitative counselors and parole boards and committees for prisoner rights, followed by committees for victim rights.

           With everyone suing, defending themselves from criminals, or being criminals, the Chinese won't have time to sew cheap coats or launch any wars.

           However, in the past couple of years, President Hu's government has gotten wise to the proliferation of lawyers. The licensing tests have become harder—only about one-fifth of the applicants pass them; and the annual fees have increased significantly.

           This has caused even greater problems. When lawyers get tired of being lawyers, they become politicians, just as in the U.S. And, as in the U.S., it isn't scientists, social workers, teachers, and other decent people who are running our government. Imagine what will happen when the lawyers finally take over the Chinese government. In a country with four times America's population there will be four times as many mortgage crises scandals, four times as many morals scandals, and four times the number of self-serving statements that they weren't responsible for whatever it was that went wrong in the country.

           More important, there will no longer be just one Communist Party, but at least two, each one screaming at the other one, fighting meaningless battles, and filling radio, television, and the Internet with equally meaningless blather. It'll only be a short time until the lawyer-led political system paralyzes a 4,000-year-old civilization that has given us great literature, music, sculpture, fashion, architecture, cuisine, and the use of martial arts for peaceful reasons.

           With the rise of lawyers and political parties, even America's corporations wouldn't outsource their products to a nation like that—not for all the tea (parties) in China.

 

[Walter Brasch is a multiple award-winning humor and general/politics columnist in competition sponsored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Society of Professional Journalists, National Federation of Press Women, Pennsylvania Press Club, and Pennsylvania Women's Press Association. social issues columnist and He is the author of 17 books, most of which are available through amazon.com. You may contact him at walterbrasch@gmail.com]

 

 

A Good Decade for Africa

Africa is in the news these days, and not in a positive way. Events in Cote’ d Ivoire, where the incumbent president refuses to step down after losing a presidential election, once again add to the stereotype of Africa as a continent of failed states, dictatorships and coups, and economic backwardness.

Yet despite the news in Cote’ d Ivoire, Africa hasn’t been doing too shabby in the 21st century. The past decade constituted a comparatively good one for Africa.

Things were best economically. Africa grew faster than the West – for the first time in many decades – especially in light of the Great Recession. Much of this was due to the influence of China. It’s vast appetite for commodities boosted economies throughout the continent, as did its foreign investment in infrastructure. Many complain that China built roads for dictators without regard to human rights, but from an economic perspective a road in Sudan is the same as a road in Ghana.

Politically Africa did not do as well. Even today there are precious few true multiparty competitive democracies in the region. Ghana is one, as are Botswana and Senegal. Many countries in Africa nowadays hold elections, but very few are free or fair. The Cote’ d Ivoire election is more the norm than the exception.

Yet things are still better than before. Compare the 2000s with the 1990s. In the 90s there was the Rwandan genocide, war in Congo, Islamist-fueled civil war in Algeria and Somalia, blood diamond civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and other civil wars in Angola and Sudan. These events led to millions of deaths.

Most of these conflicts were ended – or damped down – by the early 2000s. Since then, few events have approached the bloodshed of the 90s. Even the Darfur genocide is far less violent than the civil war that preceded it.

All in all, the recent decade constituted one of the better decades in Africa’s recent history. One wonders what this new decade will bring.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

 

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