Monday, 23 July 2012

Quote of the day

I don’t believe in the “is-ought fallacy”. Objective shouldness simply doesn’t exist, whether derived from an “is” or not.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Incidental improvements caused by Land Value Tax

(The distinction between Direct and Indirect improvements is dubious.)

Direct improvements caused by Land Value Tax (or Location Value Tax, or LVT):

  • No taxes on income (which discourage production/work)
  • No taxes on transactions (which discourage transactions)
  • No taxes on capital (which discourage the building up of capital, and prevent people escaping inflation)
  • No taxes on companies (which increase prices, decrease wages, and discourage entrepreneurship and the building up of capital)

Indirect improvements caused by LVT:

  • No need for tax accountants
  • No self-assessments or tax returns
  • No need for pension funds or a distinct pensions industry
  • You could invest your pension anywhere tax free (e.g. in wine, houses, loans...)

Please add suggestions in the comments.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Maurice Glasman is an idiot

I listened to "Start The Week" on Radio 4, on Monday 16th January 2012.

I listened to hear Detlev Schlichter, who is excellent. But Lord Maurice Glasman also featured.

Rob Fisher struggled to comprehend Glasman, and so wisely decided to ignore him.

I decided not to ignore Glasman, and found that he was talking nonsense.

He says at one point something like "the Labour Theory of Value is true; that's why I support the Labour Movement". What an idiot. The two things are not related, despite them sharing a word. The LTV is the theory that the value in a thing is a function of the amount of labour it took to create it. The Labour Movement is to do with workers' rights etc.

Later on, he elaborates. It turns out that he thinks the alternative to the Labour Theory of Value is the Capital Theory of Value: that the value of a thing is a function of the amount of capital it took to create it. This is why he thinks that it is relevant to the Labour Movement: if you think Labour is more important than Capital, you will want workers to be paid more. (In a free market, labour and capital will be remunerated according to the value they add.)

He apparently has not heard of the Subjective Theory of Value, despite the fact that it has been known to be correct, and the LTV and the CTV to be wrong, for well over a hundred years.

He later advocates banning foreign investment, saying that people should only be allowed to invest within their county. He doesn't notice the conflict between this and his bemoaning his claim that profits aren't as high as they used to be.

What an idiot. Why the hell is he in the House of Lords?

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Leftist philosophers

Why do left-wing philosophers feel it acceptable to jettison their philosophical skills as soon as they start talking about politics? Philosophers who are normally very good start making "not-even-minimally-respectable" arguments. They stop considering every possibility, they make assumptions which are clearly false, and they make invalid moves.

Here are two examples:

Stephen Law posts these two articles about traders losing money relative to the market.

Some commenters point him to the Efficient Market Hypothesis.

Law is ignorant of the fact that even in markets where the market is going up (i.e. the average investor makes money), the median investor loses money.

It's hard to beat the market. But what causes the market signal in the first place? That's right. Savvy investors who find information not already incorporated in the market price, and incorporate it into the market price.

Raymond Geuss posts this "brief guide to recent health-care plans" in the UK.

He describes that healthcare in the US as a "free market". It isn't remotely. Therefore, his argument that "Efficiency in this area is one thing ‘free markets’ cannot attain" is not even minimally respectable.

The rest of his argument is similarly bad. For some reason, he thinks that putting healthcare management "out to tender for the most efficient bid" will lead to "costs rising".

For some reason he implies that profits are bad. He ignores whether it is possible to make a profit and improve quality of healthcare (it is).

Monday, 7 November 2011

Inequality is only a problem because people say it is

As you know, I don't think wealth or income inequality is in any way at all a problem.

I am increasingly of the opinion, though, that people who endlessly use the media to tell the masses that they *should* resent the rich, are turning it into a problem.

C.f. the reaction in the rest of the media to this article:

Could there possibly be a mechanism through which wealth or income inequality cause social unrest without the media and the upper class using it to tell people they should resent rich people?

Over the last hundred years, the British people have known that there are people fantastically richer than them: film stars and celebrities. They're even featured in the media every day. But for some reason the tales of expensive parties and clothes entertain the masses rather than enraging them.

Maybe the people don't resent film stars because of the entertainment they provide (both through their films and through their actions as celebrities (being photographed at parties for Hello magazine)). But I suspect that the media could create a resentment towards rich actors if they wanted to. (Wouldn't that be funny?)

Perhaps people resent the bankers because they can't see what value the bankers create. But my guess is that it wouldn't be an issue unless the media made it one. The explanation that the bankers drew attention to themselves by causing the financial crisis doesn't work, because high salaries were not the cause of the financial crisis, yet people talk about reducing pay much more than they do about fixing the causes. I don't think people would resent bankers without the media.

(By upper class I mean people like Polly Toynbee and the entire "liberal elite". (I never liked the phrase because they're not liberals, but it's certainly clear exactly who it's referring to, and I can't think of an alternative that means quite the same.))

I was influenced by Comment #6 here:

"Here’s one issue: is this all about greed per se as our principled Dr Giles Fraser would have it, or is it just a political fight with bankers?

If it is really about greed, now there is one profession that frankly makes your average banker look like Mother Theresa. Have a look here: .

Robert Pattinson is apparently British. Never heard of him. Even Guy Ritchie is topping $1m a month. OK, directing is a lot harder work than acting (very hard work) but $1m a month?

Now we’re talking about real roll in the mud, face in the trough stinking hot oinking greed. Now personally, I don’t begrudge them the dosh if there someone willing to pay. It doesn’t bother me. But if ‘greed’ is the problem, then this lot are as greedy as it gets.

The fun will start if the Occupy mob start attacking the entertainment profession for greed. Front-row entertainment.

Especially seeing Ritchie getting stuck into his actor clients. And being such a man of principle, his ire cannot be far away."

"a political fight with bankers?" What is the true motivation?

Is it about creating an excuse to tax them (personally, and tax the banks) and needing to create public support for it? Or is it about just needing an enemy to somehow increase votes for the left? (Possible causal mechanism: it gives the left something to do and keeps them in the public eye. It gives them a policy to offer the people (which they need because they don't really have much else in the way of policy to offer the people).)

Or are they scapegoating the bankers for the financial crisis because it was really the politicians that caused it? (Using the bankers as a proxy.)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Piracy: Western decadence

"It is relatively recently that piracy worldwide was suppressed - just the past couple of hundred years. The main agents were the British Navy and also the navies of the other great European powers. However, piracy was long enough in the past for wishful-thinking pacifists to imagine (like Shire hobbits) that peace and plenty are the natural state of affairs, and need not be defended, need not be fought-for.


Therefore, the fact that piracy has been allowed to re-emerge over recent years as a highly profitable business - unchecked and essentially unpunished and despite technical developments which make the suppression of piracy easier than ever in the past - is the most conclusive evidence that could be imagined to demonstrate Western decadence: the reckless, complacent, futile, hand-wringing, self-absorbed, morally-paralyzed blindness of Western political leaders and their ruling elites."


"So we see that an English government of the Victorian era - without DNA testing or closed-circuit TV - managed to largely abolish crime. We also see that the present-day government of England (and of other places governed in the same way) pretends to want to abolish crime - but to be unable to do so." 

Eugenics and antinatalism a blog attempting to create "a viable and just political philosophy consistent with likely truths of human biology and evolution."


Anti-natalism is the belief that life should not be brought into existence. David Benatar's book, "Better To Never Have Been", sets out the case masterfully, and I recommend it unreservedly.

As we know, existence is not a property. Essentially, Benatar makes the point that to bring someone into existence to experience a life wholly of pleasure does not benefit them. If you hadn't brought them into existence, they would not mind, because they wouldn't exist. On the other hand, bringing someone into an existence where they will experience pain, does them harm. There is an asymmetry between pleasure and suffering. If a potential person does not exist, their potential pleasure is not a good reason to create them, whereas their potential pain is a good reason not to create them. Everyone's lives are almost certain to contain at least some pain/suffering, therefore no one should be brought into existence.

(Benatar considers the idea that some people should be brought into existence because their suffering is outweighed by the pleasure they bring to others ("using people as means, not ends"). He proposes a "phased extinction".)


One fact that Benatar considers is that people don't really appreciate how bad their lives are. We notice that our lives are much better than disabled people. But we too lack many abilities. We don't notice how bad our lives are compared to what they could be, if, say, we had the ability to fly.

In, Deogolwulf makes the point that Charles Darwin was a eugenicist: he correctly thought that superior races should inherit the earth. Insights from the world of antinatalism support this. If we can have some influence over which beings are brought into existence -- and we do -- we should use this influence for eugenic purposes, to bring in to existence beings with superior abilities.