Archive for March, 2018
Trump the anti Intellectual yet idiot

Amazon opens in Australia, moves to tax foreign packages go into hyper-drive. Quelle surprise, big business always wants to impede competition. It’s the easiest way to lock in fat profits. They legally bribe politicians and regulators with donations and post public service sinecures.

You need to extend patent or copyright induced monopolies? No problem. You want to do it in other countries? Well, have we got a treaty for you.

Milton Friedman stood up for the consumer and against big business and government:

“There’s a common misconception that people who are in favor of a free market are also in favor of everything that big business does. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

In this he followed in the footsteps of Adam Smith:

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Few modern economists, policy makers and politicians do. All too often they impose the same harmful policies. Our establishment class, be it of the “left” or “right” are cognitively captured. Their blinkered mindset and arrogance make them Taleb’s Intellectual Yet Idiot.

“These self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They can’t tell science from scientism — in fact in their image-oriented minds scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types — those who want to “nudge” us into some behavior — much of what they would classify as “rational” or “irrational” (or some such categories indicating deviation from a desired or prescribed protocol) comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are also prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components” Taleb, The Intellectual Yet Idiot, “https://medium.com/…/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577

Is it really any wonder that Trump was able to run rings around them? He bested what Republicans claimed was the most talented field ever. He then defeated the Democrat candidate in the face of fierce media, academic and public servant opposition. “Intellectual yet idiot” Trump is not. The world needs more like him, so we can reform peacefully rather than through revolutionary rivers of blood.

 
China Rising

“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” Napoleon Bonaparte

China is sowing the seeds of its own stagnation:

  • President Xi Jinping removing term limits
  • The one child policy induced decline in the workforce
  • The longer-term consequences of its negative return infrastructure led growth.
  • The censorship of thought is creativity crushing, free thinkers will think freely.

China has clearly awoken and is moving the world. Unfortunately in doing so it is also ushering in new models of despotism. Ones which enable democracies to transition to tyrannies with minimal fuss:

China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year.

Twitter, Facebook and Google are already embracing authoritarianism and crushing free speech. Big business and government working hand in hand to steer the masses. What does that remind you of? Fascism is alive and well and its foundations are being built by our technology companies and their academic ideological enablers. Technology enabled fascist national socialism will be as damaging as international socialism has repeatedly proven to be.

The benevolent dictator model is great, as long as the dictator is great. Lee Kuan Yew is perhaps the best example, but for every Lee Kuan Yew there are multiple Mugabe’s. Democracies elect incompetents, but they also constrain how much damage they can do. The intensity and duration of the damage done by despots’ dwarfs that of elected leaders. Over the long term democratic systems trump despotic ones. Something the EU ought to have taken into account as it designed its undemocratic governing systems.

Deng Xiaoping learned from Lee Kuan Yew’s example in Singapore. He transformed China. China may have another good or even great leader in Xi Jinping. Removing his term limit is, to my mind, an ominous sign. Better to be further embedding a culture of peaceful regular and regulated transition.

Better also if the institutions of Western Civilisation propagated an understanding and appreciation of the building blocks its way of life, of progress and prosperity. These act as an immune system to repel destructive ideologies. Political correctness has much to answer for.