Notebook, 8 May 2012: Just for the sake of argument . . .

Some random thoughts I put out there just for the sake of argument:

  • After reading Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job, I think there’s one thing which should be made absolutely clear from the start: the economic “utility” of the vast, vast majority of jobs could only be quantified in negative numbers. And really, even under the best conditions, who would want to work for a bunch of people (shareholders) who believe you are lazy, think that cutting your wages and eliminating your benefits is a good thing, and are happiest (given AAPL’s share price) with a mute, compliant workforce out-of-sight in any foreign country?

    File this under, “I want to be an corporate cog when I grow up!”

  • Belonging to, believing in, and identifying yourself with any organization necessitates tendering the individual’s moral proxy to the organization. Who today would want to work at Goldman Sachs? In the political realm, taking back one’s moral proxy is, in itself, a radical act.

    Full disclosure: By another criteria, believing in the need for major structural reform makes me a “radical” as well. However, I am content (but not overjoyed) to do my own thinking and bear the burden.

  • Once you’ve taken back your moral proxy, it’s easy to note the myriad ways the organizational precepts both underlie and are reinforced in the media. Over time, the foreign press is frequently shown to be a more reliable gauge of America than we are of ourselves. The downside is that participatory government is only as strong as its electorate.
  • The big difference between now and when Hayek and Von Mises were developing the economic philosophies we today call neoliberalism is that we now have decades worth of good, hard data and the computing power to view and analyze it, which didn’t exist then. I commend you to the revelations shown by viewing a century’s worth of income tax records as well as The Two Income Trap, based on real data from the Department of Commerce.

    Many times I’ve claimed that free markets expand to absorb all resources (even real, but intangible resources like time and human capital), and Elizabeth Warren’s work does a fine job of documenting this in action.

  • Those who were rich in land, and derived their incomes from rents are in what ways different from those who have fat bank balances and derive their incomes from renting their money out in financial markets? Aren’t they all rentiers?
  • The retail investor with his sexy eTrade (or any other) platform . . . is nothing more than a noise trader.

Any more of this and my head will explode, however I do want to note an interesting exchange I had with CNN’s Ram Ramgopal and Richard Murphy, co-author of Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works. Beginning with the tweet of a story about how identity thieves might be responsible for $26 billion in tax return theft, I countered with the fact that it’s estimated that $15 Trillion sits in tax havens worldwide, and Murphy chimed in with the finding that tax evasion could be removing as much as $3.1 Trillion from the world’s tax revenues annually.

CNN’s face on Twitter had this to say: “Wow, that’s big. Had no idea.

Who does? Of course I’m a radical, but is this because I am a bomb-tossing nihilist or the result of a massive failure of the mainstream?

Now you can go back to watching the Military Channel, some major league sports, NASCAR or Dancing With the Stars.


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