Links With Your Eye Boogers – Monday

Capitalism != meritocracy

Capitalism, even under its own flag of justification, is more about entitlement than about desert. In terms of the distribution of wealth, nobody deserves what he or she inherits or doesn’t inherit; but they may get what they’re entitled to (under the prevailing rules) should their parents decide to pass it on to them. A nurse doesn’t deserve to earn less than a professional footballer; but the market for their respective talents and services will fix what they may each expect and claim (under the prevailing rules) to be entitled to. This is not to say that nobody ever gets ahead by working hard, coming up with a good new idea, etc, and thereby deserving material success to that extent. Perhaps it’s because these merit-and-reward instances are over-generalized to justify existing distributions of wealth and income that capitalism is seen by some as meritocratic. But instances is precisely what they are, and the claim that capitalism embodies them in a consistent and systematic way doesn’t make sense of some of the other things – like its free-ness – claimed for the free market by its defenders.

Weirdness and the Overton Window – Balloon Juice (I see some rightwingers doing something that looks like an attempt to move the window rightward – but it looks very unserious in the sense that none of them would want to govern from that anywhere close to that rightward landscape, knowing the consequences. So I conclude that this isn’t really what they are doing so much as just throwing rotten tomatoes. On the other side Krugman pushes “to the left” but I don’t see it as JC does that he is pushing leftward and away from an Obama “moderation”. Obama’s plan is “moderate” in the sense that Wall Street likes it, and little else. The enormous sums of money involved keep any conceivable plan from ever falling under the “moderate” mantle. If it’s moderate in terms of how much money it spends, for instance, then it will be immoderate in terms of the catastrophic collapse that ensues. I see Krugman’s push as away from an unwise kind of aggressive program toward a less unwise kind of aggressive program.) <--- long parenthetical explanation for short link.

Persuasive argument for de-criminalizing drugs (argument appears to be general, not exclusive to “soft” drugs. personally not 100% convinced)

A Few Words on Ideology – always worth a moment of reflection.

Patricia Churchland is the lady living at the bottom of the well of uncomfortable truths. Here she discusses Large Scale Problems in Neuroscience, mainly free will. She uses some research that I’ve mentioned before and some other stuff. It’s a long, slow listen, but if you can hang with her, you’ll discover some fascinating things.

The alternative to socialism is … socialism?

The unlikely alternative is what Belloc calls the “distributist state.” It is characterized by widely distributed private property so that the general character of the society is shaped by individual property owners. By “property” Belloc means “capital.” That is, property that can be used to make a living. When a critical mass of citizens possesses capital and are therefore economically independent, a stable situation exists. According to Belloc, private property is the only means of achieving security with freedom. Collectivization does, in fact, provide security. The price, though, is freedom.

(While I appreciate his anti-collectivist perspective, I think the time for it is when standing on the brink, not after one has fallen into the chasm. When institutions that are “too big to fail” start folding en masse, the choices are between a Keynesian and collectivist solution and a Great Depression. The way to avoid institutions that are too big to fail is a communitarian view of private property – wherein most or all the people are able to make their own living with their own property without depending on wages flowing through credit markets from employers.)<—– What is it with me & these parenthetical remarks today?

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