Friday, October 21, 2011

What's good for GM is good for GM

Check out the graph: US manufacturers are making one thing - profits. The high priests of Free Markets have told us that what is good for GM is good for America. Don't worry about jobs. If the corporations are doing well, then they will be providing jobs to the masses.

Guess what. They were wrong. Predictably wrong. Capitalism is based on the power of self-interest (read: greed). Supposedly competing interests balance out and create the mysterious Invisible Hand. Nowhere in market theory does it say that companies are duty bound or even inclined in provide jobs to as many people as possible. In fact, the very principle of self-interest would demand that jobs are not a priority but rather a cost to avoided.

They care about money, not you. What's good for GM is good for GM. Any benefit the country reaps is accidental or part of a marketing scheme designed to line the pockets of - you guessed it - GM. And that is what we are seeing today. As soon as corporations find a way to make more profits while shedding expensive workers, it's sayonara muchachos!

Monday, October 10, 2011

QOD - More Proof Conservatives Are Bad At Economics

Rich people don't create jobs when we hand them big windfalls. They create jobs when the economy is growing and they have customers for their businesses.

"Rich People Create Jobs! And five other myths that must die for our economy to live"
Kevin Drum - Mother Jones

The idea that corporations hire people just because they have some spare cash lying around is ludicrous - and common. Personally, I would never hire anyone for whom I didn't have work for, i.e. demand to be filled.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just Plain Too Clever

... smart people are often those who say the stupidest things. They, like everyone else, have blind spots but, being rather intellectually resourceful, they are even more apt at covering them up and rationalising them to themselves. They construct obtuse abstractions that even they themselves find hard to grasp in order to cover up their blinds spots. Add to this some ill-defined (or, conversely, too precisely defined) jargon, and they’ll set the heads of everyone in the room spinning so fast that everyone forgets what outlandish things they are in fact saying.

Philip Pilkington - Confessions of a Non-Utilitarian Shopper
Although this quote is referring to the economics profession, this expresses my frustration when people like N T Wright and Scot McKnight say things like:
The question is not about whether Jesus preached justification; the question is about whether he preached the Story of Israel coming to its completion in the story of himself as a saving story. - Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel, p 106 (ht JRKirk)
What the heck does this even mean? How does Jesus' descent and rise say anything about Israel's story that continues for 40 more years and, arguably, until the present day? More importantly, what possible light can "Israel's Story" cast on the state of the world today and God's apparent absence of action over the last 2000 years? N T Wright tries the same line in an online Theodicy debate with Bart Ehrman and reviewers are left saying, "What does that have to do with real people suffering in the world?" Personally I think the so-called "soterians" have a better claim - the whole Kingdom of God thing must be about internal salvation because the outside world is still f***ed up.

It is bewildering when a scholar like Rev. Wright, Bishop Willimon or Dr. McKnight say these things that are so out of touch with reality. The above observation that the smarter you are the more skilled you become in rationalizing away your errors is spot on.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I So Sympathize

My whole intellectual life has been one of throwing passionate subfield interests overboard as they as they exploded beyond my ability to follow them...

Fred Brooks, The Design of Design

Where is November?

Designers are mostly right-brained people, visually and spatially oriented. Indeed, one of my curbstone tests for potential design talent is to ask, "Where is November?" When my listener is puzzled, I elaborate, "Do you have a spatial mental model of the calendar? Many folks do. If you do, would you describe it to me?" The strong candidates almost always have one, the models themselves vary wildly.

The Design of Design, Fred Brooks
OMG! I have one of those but I never thought too much about it before. My calendar starts to my left with March, proceeds down through April and May. Then it turns to the right and runs horizontally through November, passing in front of me around August. Then December starts to droop and January and February make a turn downward.

Does anyone else have a secret mental image of the calendar? If designers typically do, what unexpected mental traits do theologians, musicians or literary critics share?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Parents and Education

As I related here, California has a law that allows a majority of parents at a school to sign a petition that fires the school staff or turns the school over to charter organization.

Well now this report of the actual goings on in the only case where this has been tried so far:
When Parent Revolution sent paid organizers to gather signatures from parents at McKinley Elementary School in Compton, Calif., the campaign was conducted secretively. The organizers collected signatures from 60 percent of the parents. When the petition was submitted to the school district in December 2010, it designated the charter operator—the Celerity Educational Group—that would take over the school, although it is not clear who chose it.
Further more, the group spearheading the new law, Parent Revolution is astroturf:
... Parent Revolution, which is funded by charter school operators (it has some affiliation with Green Dot, whose chief executive officer sits on the board of Parent Revolution) and by venture philanthropists (including the Broad Foundation, the Gates Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation)
America had better wake up to the fact that the people who brought us the Blue Screen of Death, Wal Mart and the Financial Crisis of 2008 want to bring their special brand of not-so-free markets to our children's education and our country's future.