adam smith versus darwin, summer beach wallpaper, conservative libertarians are the real parasites

Even those who have never used the phrase social-Darwinism themselves have probably heard it or heard about what the phrase means. In this very good post about the origins and meaning of social-Darwinism Eric Michael Johnson also makes a very good case for using a more apt term instead, social-Spencerism. The major reason being that Darwin never wrote about economic issues or economic justice. This essay continues the unfortunate use of Darwin as an example even though the substance of his view is correct. Darwin May Replace Adam Smith As The Greatest Intellectual Contributor to Modern Economics

This book applies evolutionary theory to economics, arguing that consumption can, like evolution, run wild — to the detriment of society as well as individuals

In view of the recent economic meltdown, I am sure it’s no secret to anyone that unregulated or poorly-regulated economic competition can run wild — to the detriment of society as well as individuals. But this outcome is hardly surprising to those who paid attention to Darwin’s ideas about competition in the natural world — ideas inspired by the extravagance of the peacock’s tail or by the sheer size of a stag’s rack of antlers.

This is the main argument made by New York Times economics columnist, Robert H. Frank, in his recent book, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good [Princeton University Press; 2011: Guardian Bookshop; Amazon UK/kindle; Amazon US/kindle] — a book that pushes back — hard — against Libertarianism. The author is so sure of his argument that he predicts that 100 years from now, Charles Darwin will be recognised as the greatest intellectual contributor to modern economic theory, replacing Adam Smith as the intellectual founder of economics. Frank writes;

I base my prediction on a subtle but extremely important distinction between Darwin’s view of the competitive process and Smith’s. Today Smith is best remembered for his invisible-hand theory, which, according to some of his modern disciples, holds that impersonal market forces channel the behavior of greedy individuals to produce the greatest good for all. […I]t’s fair to say that the invisible-hand theory’s optimistic portrayal of unregulated market outcomes has become the bedrock of the antigovernment activists’ worldview. They believe regulation is unnecessary because they believe unbridled market forces can take care of things quite nicely on their own.

Darwin’s view of the competitive process was fundamentally different. His observations persuaded him that the interests of individual animals were often profoundly in conflict with the broader interests of their own species. In time, I predict, the invisible hand will come to be seen as a special case of Darwin’s more general theory. Many of the libertarians’ most cherished beliefs, which are perfectly plausible within Smith’s framework, don’t survive at all in Darwin’s. (p. 17).

In this book, Frank argues that Smith’s invisible-hand idea is actually a special case within the general rule of competition based on Darwin’s observation that the “survival of the fittest” individuals is not always best for the group. This leads to “arms races” where behaviours that provide short-term gains for particular individuals can lead to enormous harm to the group.

That writer even perpetuates the old myth that Darwin coined the term “survival of the fittest”. That term was first used by Herbert Spencer in Principles of Biology(1864).

It is remarkable how the bizarre notion that the best people make the most money or have the most money has caught on as a cultural meme in the USA especially. It is Randian philosophy gone wild. The guy in the truck in front of you on the freeway with the airbrushed eagle and Limbaugh bumper sticker really believes that no one can do his job as well as he can and that he is an economic island of achievement all to himself. He sees no connection between his income and the social and economic infrastructure required to provide the framework that makes his income possible. He looks at the FICA totals on his check and damns the government for paying people to live in mansions and drive BMWs on his dime. Yet of the value of his labor – which is commendable – the corporation that owns the shop where he works takes far bigger percentage of the capital he produces than the government. The government even pays him back if he should become disabled or when he retires. He may hate those government programs, but there is no way he could pay his retired father’s medical bills if it were not for Medicare. Even if Medicare suddenly ended and he did not have to make payments, a similar private policy would be either a huge financial burden or completely unaffordable.

summer, ocean, beach

summer conch shell wallpaper

This story is interesting though it covers some of the same ground as the one above with more particulars about Medicare and Medicaid. There is also a comment that gives you a good idea of the kind of flawed logic and bone headed ideology that enlightened Americans have to deal with – A safety-net, not a hammock

Allow me a moment to express my disgust with some comments made by Rep. Paul Ryan.

He’s out selling a House Republican budget whose stated particulars include $4.6 trillion in tax cuts weighted strongly to the affluent alongside punishing cuts to social programs and the denial of health insurance coverage to tens of millions of people covered under health reform.

A troll stopped by to leave this remarkable observation.

Mike Kaplan says:
April 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Why am I paying taxes to take care of your brother-in-law Vincent? He is your family – why don’t you take care of him? Why do you want to force me to sacrifice my time and labor – in taxes – to do what you are not doing?

All of us need to be responsible for ourselves and our families. The federal government currently borrows over 40% of what it spends. We just don’t have the money to continue this way.

There are several deep flaws in that argument, but I’ll get to the most obvious. You hear this a lot when it comes to social safety net programs – I’m being forced to pay for other people. Medicare and Medicaid are simply insurance program writ very large run by the government. If Mr Kaplan wanted to completely privatize Medicare, guess what. he would be part of a risk pool. Not everyone pays exactly the same in a private insurance risk pool – smokers pay a little more for instance. Though all the people who own those private polices do what – they pay for the health care costs of everyone in the risk pool. Mr. Kaplan may have medical expenses that exceed what he has paid in premiums. Guess who pays for that. Everyone else in the risk pool is forced to pay for it. That is the way insurance works whether it is Medicare or Prudential. If Kaplan wants to opt out of insurance completely that means when he gets sick society is forced to decide between treating him with little likelihood of receiving full payment for services or letting him die. Thus people like Kaplan and the multitude of like minded social-Spencerists will indeed be forcing some morally treacherous decisions and burdens on society. Kaplan and his ilk are the real parasites who have something akin to the fever of cultist religious zealots, who believe that their nightmarish society where humankind’s basic humanity and frailties are denied is good for the national character and cost nothing.

black and white desert clouds

New Research Could Mean Cellphones That Can See Through Walls

“We’ve created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications,” said Dr. Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering at UT Dallas and director of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence(TxACE).  “The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.”

I believe the good doctors have nothing but the best intentions and we will see some amazing benefits from this technology. Though they are naive to think that just because they plan for the rays to only work within short distances, that it will not be made or hacked to do otherwise. Limbaugh’s dream come true, perpetual porn.

J.Viewz – Smooth Criminal



is the internet making us lonelier, audrey hepburn, corporate kings – they works hard for da money

before the internet


Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.

[  ]….Over the past three decades, technology has delivered to us a world in which we need not be out of contact for a fraction of a moment. In 2010, at a cost of $300 million, 800 miles of fiber-optic cable was laid between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange to shave three milliseconds off trading times. Yet within this world of instant and absolute communication, unbounded by limits of time or space, we suffer from unprecedented alienation. We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier. In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information.

Hasn’t being with other people always been a trade-off. In the best circumstances you get human warmth, sympathy, sometimes emotional intimacy, fun, shared experiences that become the nostalgic memories of old age. We also give up part of ourselves. We sacrifice part of who we are in order to establish some peace, some agree-ability. There are always a few that thrive on conflict, but most of us do not like contentious relationships. Even among our closest friends sometimes our moods or priorities don’t match. There was or never should have been an expectation that the internet would smooth out the complications that follow any sustained interactions with others.

We know intuitively that loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. Solitude can be lovely. Crowded parties can be agony. We also know, thanks to a growing body of research on the topic, that loneliness is not a matter of external conditions; it is a psychological state. A 2005 analysis of data from a longitudinal study of Dutch twins showed that the tendency toward loneliness has roughly the same genetic component as other psychological problems such as neuroticism or anxiety.

I’m not so sure about the basic thesis that we’re lonelier than ever or that loneliness per se is something we need to work on. It can be debilitating at its worse, yet the average amount might be something to embrace. Privately, aspects of our lives like loneliness, lack of popularity ( she also touches on shallowness) have always been part of the human experience. It has always been the case that publicly one did not go around professing loneliness. That was fine to express in a novel, poem or song lyric, but public confessions of loneliness implied a flaw, a lack of virtue even. You must lack some inner strength, some quality of character or perhaps lack of faith, if you are lonely. This went hand in hand with the pressure to walk around like a perpetually happy clown. If you were unhappy you must not possess the kind of mind set that makes for happiness. Though you could be as tragically unhappy as you like in your plays, biography or other artistic expression. The more tragic and unhappy, almost the better. You served society’s need for socially acceptable catharsis.

Why did they send me so far and so lonely,
Up where the moors spread and grey rocks are piled?
Men are hard-hearted, and kind angels only
Watch o’er the steps of a poor orphan child. – Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre, Chapter 3.

And he broke into a long string of complaints. When he accepted the post of manager, he understood that he would have been allowed to reside in Paris, and not be forced to bury himself in this country district, far from his friends, deprived of newspapers. No matter! he had overlooked all that. But Arnoux appeared to pay no heed to his merits. He was, moreover, shallow and retrograde—no one could be more ignorant. – Gustave Flaubert. Sentimental Education, Chapter 9.

My father’s impulses, never under his own controul, perpetually led him into
difficulties from which his ingenuity alone could extricate him; and the
accumulating pile of debts of honour and of trade, which would have bent to
earth any other, was supported by him with a light spirit and tameless
hilarity; while his company was so necessary at the tables and assemblies
of the rich, that his derelictions were considered venial, and he himself
received with intoxicating flattery. (shallowness and self delusions) Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The Last Man, Chapter 1.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. – William Wordsworth. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.

Behind the Scenes of the Julia Louis-Dreyfus Photo Shoot

For the photo illustrations for this week’s profile of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, we asked Louis-Dreyfus to channel Audrey Hepburn — but with a twist. You’ll notice that in each of the three film publicity stills we recreated — from “Funny Face,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and “Charade” — something is awry. The idea was to put Louis-Dreyfus in these iconic poses that she (comically) can’t quite pull off.

I cannot post those photos here for obvious reasons, but I do have an original of Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn 1953 (copyrighted image). 1953 was the year after she made Roman Holiday and the year before she made Sabrina.

CEOs at top companies earned 380 times the average worker’s income in 2011

The AFL-CIO has released its CEO Paywatch with 2011 data. So how do CEOs stack up against ordinary workers? Well, the average CEO of a company on the S&P 500 Index earned 380 times the average American worker’s wage, with average CEO pay having increased 13.9 percent in 2011

CEOs in a merit based society such as ours work 380 times harder? Intelligence – by way of technical, scientific or management skills have value in a merit based economy. Thus these 380 people are the smartest people in the nation?

Factory Child Bean Stringers 1909. If we could only get rid of child labor laws, environmental laws, get rid of health and safety regulations, just get gov’mint outa our lives  – the USA could return the paradise we once were.

Ill Wind

This piece is composed by Harold Arlen, arranged by Benny Carter (1942), transcribed by Dick Domek and was performed live by the University of Kentucky Jazz Ensemble directed by Miles Osland at the 2007 UK Band Spectacular. It features Angie Ortega on alto saxophone.