Print Story One may assume, for the sake of argument, that people were rational, but ...
By lm (Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 04:58:44 PM EST) (all tags)
... only the Americans took it literally.

I've just finished Desai's Marx's Revenge: The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism. I should do a proper book review of it. As far as economics books go, it's a pretty fun read. It also has a lot of value of giving a broad overview of the various modern economic theories and how they've played out with politics and history. But the main point was supposed to be dialectically critiquing Marxism by means of Marx. It does do that to a certain extent, using many of Marx's economic ideas to explain why state socialism failed. But it also has an entire chapter on Hegel which doesn't so much as mention the term `dialectic.' The sixty second summary is formerly Marxist economist from India converts to lassez-faire capitalism and uses Marx and Hayek to explain where Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Keyenes all went wrong without actually discussing any of the math but with a good many really humorous sound bites along the way.

The rest of this diary has absolutely nothing to do with that.

I woke up feeling a week behind today, all this week in fact, in part because most of the world that celebrates easter uses the calendar created by the atheist astronomers of the Pope. The Paschal celebration of the eastern rite usually falls after the Latin rite. (Easter Sunday usually either overlaps or falls 1 or 5 weeks behind in the eastern rite.) Normally I barely notice. American society has become so secularized that it's usually neither here nor there that I'm a week behind.

This year, however, between Facebook and attending a Catholic school, there's a large difference. With all the status messages, notes and links concerning Holy Week and Easter coming a week too soon, I felt out of synch with large portions of the world. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's an odd feeling rather than any real discomfort. Something that I find observationally interesting.

:: :: :: :: ::

Running and lifting proceed in fine fashion. I did a two mile stretch in 17:18 which is decentish time given that I've only recent added the second mile back to my routine on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Boy do I feel that second mile, too. Some muscle that I don't know the name of ached most of the week.

I can now do a full three sets of lifts at 25 repetitions each save, you'll never guess, shoulder lifts. Today there was notable progress of a sort. With regards to the shoulder lifts, I've been breaking the sets into as many mini sets as I needed to in order to actually do 25. Today, all three sets were done in batches of 2 which is a nice improvement. But also, I didn't feel like I was going to puke at the end of the lifting. Adding those five extra repetitions really made the whole thing harder and by the end, I was really wiped out. So I'm building stamina and endurance. Which is part of the whole point.

Weight wise, I've been hitting 172/173 all week. Save for Monday. On Sunday we went to eat with some friends to celebrate Palm Sunday. I ate too much. I didn't eat so much that I got sick. For that matter, I didn't even eat enough to be uncomfortably full. But after finishing the tuna steak with salad greens and anchovies that I ordered, the left overs of my wife's fish and chips, the left overs of my eldest daughter's fish and chips, two beers and some fake ice cream after coming home, I probably did eat more than I ought to have.

:: :: :: ::

Over at dKos, a really nice Good Friday personal meditation on crucifixion as a stress position by a former Eastern Orthodox Christian. I think he takes his analogy more than a little too far. As morally repugnant as torture is, there is are differences both in extent and in kind between torturing someone and killing someone by means of torture.

Vehicle crash test pr0n in the NY Times auto blog. Not satisfied with the ramming cars into a barrier at 40mph, they send small cars (Yaris, Fourtwo, Fit) head on into the mid-sized vehicles from the same manufacturer (Camry, C Class, Accord) with both vehicles at 40mph. ``After it struck the front of the C-Class, the Smart became airborne and turned around 450 degrees.''

Coverage of The Tea Party in Cincinnati by the local alternative paper. Cincinnati does me proud. The reporter interviewed a by-stander as the crowd of 2000 marched from Fountain Square in the city center to City Hall, ``I didn’t see any of these people when the last president was fucking shit up for eight years.''

Speaking of tax revolts, the Ny Times also had a nice piece on the history of tax revolts. Populism sure isn't what it used to be.

But let me give the last word on taxes to Robert Reich who puts forth the most pertinent facts on income taxes in the US. My only complaints are that he's a bit too polemical and that he conflates federal income taxes with local income, property and consumption taxes when its to his benefit but doesn't when it isn't. I don't know that the latter would make a significant difference but it's something to keep in mind.

A review of Fresh: A Perishable History covers the massive changes in the way we not only consume food but the way we think about food because we now have refrigeration. Living in a ```permanent global summertime' in which all fruits and vegetables are made available all of the time.''

The Washington Post covers the five strands of conservatism in the US. I usually only break it down into three strands, corporatist, libertarian and classical. I also don't care for some of the jibes Westen slips in. But it's a good discussion of how a political movement in the US that many people take to be monolithic is really a coalition of various groups that have some interests in common.

On why Eisenhower ended the Korean war. These days, he'd get charged with cutting and running.

:: :: ::

There is a reason that I needed new socks a while back. I can't recall exactly when I bought them but I do recall wearing them absolutely no later than spring of 2005. They were Carhartt brand boot socks.

Still image of the sole of a foot clothed in a stocking containing a hole the size of Manhattan island. Not visible are the other holes upon the heel of the sock and on the top side of the toe area.

They were good socks. They will be missed.

But this brings me to my new socks by Thor-Lo. I have the steel toe boot work socks. They are fantastic. I ordered three pairs because they were relatively expensive for socks. I wish I'd ordered more. The days I wake up and find a clean pair sitting in my sock drawer, I involuntarily smile. On days when they're all in the dirty laundry pile, I am sad.

One thing that surprised me is how much easier they make running. I've run in all sorts of socks: running socks, boot socks, dress socks, casual socks. I've never really noticed a different save perhaps for how well sweat was wicked away from my feet. The Thor-Lo's actually make running a good deal more comfortable.

:: ::

The news that the Obama administration released the infamous ``torture memos'' to the general public has been all over the place. In some regards, this is a good thing. But it is incomplete. With the release of the various documents also came word that the Obama administration will not be prosecuting any of the agents that used ``harsh interrogation techniques'' when under specific direction that said techniques were lawful. If Barrack Obama were more like Al Gore, I suspect that prosecutions would be gearing up. But he's not and the US of A has to be led by the president we have and not the president we wish we had.

While I'm not a lawyer, I can't see the legal rationale that was presented working anywhere else. ``I'm sorry your honor, I thought that this ploy was a legitimate way to pay less taxes. My attorney told me so.''  Of course there are some differences. My tax lawyer is not above me in the chain of command in the armed services. Nor was I ordered by a direct superior in the armed services to try to use a specific method to reduce my tax liability. Nevertheless, I'm not convinced that those are significant distinctions.

If they are significant distinctions, then much of international jurisprudence that the US takes part in is wrong. For example, we routinely extradite people to be tried for being guards at concentration camps. I suspect that those guards were explicitly told that not doing so would result in their court martial.

I can still hope that the bastards that drafted the legal opinions and the technical guides can be sent up the river but I don't have my hopes up.


I have far too many books checked out the library. I also have more to come. I should stop writing this and start using them.

< Sums of squares | duxup >
One may assume, for the sake of argument, that people were rational, but ... | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Reich by duxup (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:25:01 PM EST
I'm pretty comfortable with the fact that I buy what he sells (well in agreeing terms) most of the time. 

That was a good read about the strands of conservatism.  It is almost a laundry list of why I just never "got" it.  I lean to the left although I don't like identifying with parties.  Maybe I'm just blind to the Democratic party's contradictions but the holes on the Republican side seem so incredibly obvious.  How a Libertarian or someone concerned about the national debt can take that party seriously is beyond me, all those points have ever gotten from the party is rhetoric.

I really like Robert Reich by lm (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:32:29 PM EST
I mostly ignored him when he was in the Clinton administration but PRI's Marketplace Morning Report started running his commentaries while I used to drive to work. It was really refreshing to hear someone make sense most of the time.

As for the GOP, their real strength the past couple of decades or so has been party discipline. Reagan's eleventh commandment, after all, was ``thou shalt not criticize thy fellow Republican.'' But it seems to me that an Eisenhowerish ``I'm not cutting taxes until the debt is paid off'' would be a more authentically fiscally conservative stance.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
but cutting taxes increases revenue! [nt] by R343L (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 06:23:03 PM EST

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
Well, that is true, it does ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 06:26:47 PM EST
... but only at the margins. Cutting taxes when the top rate is 90% has a far different effect than when the top rate is at 40%.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Heh by R343L (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 07:58:15 PM EST
I was foolishly being silly and just parrotting the Republican talking point which makes absolutely no sense at the moment. :)

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
silly and foolish, all day long by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 09:31:05 PM EST
Boom. Boom.

Ain't it great to be crazy?

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Parameterisation of tax rates by Alan Crowe (2.00 / 0) #8 Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 04:13:46 AM EST

If you like to ponder the stuff that is hidden in plain view, think about the fact that there are two ways to parameterize tax rates.

Talking about 90% and 40% in the context of politics is slightly odd. 90% is still only 47.37 pence in the pound (for an international audience I should write 47 cents in the dollar). Income taxes are sometimes raised as high as 90 cents in the dollar. The seller (of labour) gets 10 cents while the government takes 90 cents, nine times as much and a tax rate of 900%.

If anti-obesity campaigners managed to force through a 900% tax on donuts, raising the price from $1 to $10, every-one would see that this was a punitive tax that discouraged donut eating. No-one would expect huge tax revenues to roll in.

Indeed, people would have no trouble recognising that calling the 900% tax "90 cents in the dollar" and letting the less fastidious talk about a 90% tax, as though the price had gone up to $1.90, was a triumph of spin over economic reality.

There are good reasons why taxing income is not like taxing donuts. What do you substitute for income? Income is perhaps like a tax on all food, not just a particular food. So perhaps what is hidden in plain view is something a little more subtle than the choice of parameterisation.

We could talk about income tax rates using the same parameterisation that we use for sales taxes. Instead of playing silly buggers with the numerical values of the parameters, saying 90% on the understanding that this is 90 cents on the dollar and actually 900%, we could talk directly about income tax rates of 900% and talk directly about why a tax on income is not like a tax on donuts. Think about that for a minute. Instead of Laffer curve rhetoric we could have substitution effects rhetoric, arguing over the different properties of different kinds of taxation.

Summary: we never talk about why income taxes are different from sales taxes. That avoids awkward questions about whether the differences are as great in the long term as in the short term. We never talk about why we never talk about why income taxes are different from sales taxes (sic). Fudging the distinction between cents-in-the-dollar and percentage rate is the means by which we avoid discussing why we never talk about certain matters we never talk about.

[ Parent ]
Punitive? by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 08:42:54 AM EST
I suspect someone doesn't quite fully grasp the principle of diminishing marginal utility.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I like Robert Reich by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:18:30 PM EST
He's shorter than I am.
[ Parent ]
Teabaggers by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #10 Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 07:31:18 PM EST
I don't have much interest in them other than the fact that the republicans seem to be continuing their emotional appeal to fear with these people.  I'm becoming a bit concerned, though not all that much, about the potential for militarization of the faction that they're pushing.  Not necessarily the Brown Shirts, but not much different at the end of the day.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
One may assume, for the sake of argument, that people were rational, but ... | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback