URLs du Jour

2019-04-23

[Amazon Link]

  • Don Boudreaux's Bonus Quotation of the Day... is on Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. Which refers to his "disturbing" finding that "one cannot achieve collectively rational choices by aggregating the individual choices of people with diverse values and preferences."

    Don's reaction is actually better than the quote:

    Arrow’s finding is certainly unexpected and unwelcome by – and, hence, disturbing to – those who naively believe that groups of individuals are akin to an actual flesh-and-blood individual – that is, by those who wish to anthropomorphize groups of individuals. But for those of us who never fell for the validity of such anthropomorphization, Arrow’s finding is no more disturbing than is the realization that flapping our arms doesn’t cause us humans to fly.

    We humans are hardwired to be "social". But mistaking that result of evolution's bumbling process for some sort of moral imperative is a fallacy.


  • Peter Suderman tells an inconvenient truth at Reason: Elizabeth Warren’s Plan To Cancel College Debt Is a Giveaway to the Well-Off and Well-Connected.

    In addition to ending tuition at public colleges, Warren wants to cancel the vast majority of outstanding student loan debt. The idea is to eliminate debt up to $50,000 for people with household incomes under $100,000, and offer more limited debt cancellation for households making between $100,000 and $250,000. By her own estimates, the full plan, which also includes funds for Pell Grants and historically black colleges, would cost about $1.25 trillion, which she says she would pay for with a tax on wealth that she announced earlier this year.

    On the surface, Warren's idea might sound like another expensive federal benefit for struggling families. But the nature of college attendance and student loans means that Warren's loan forgiveness plan is a massive giveaway to relatively well-off people.

    The math isn't hard.


  • Arnold Kling, writing at Hackernoon, tells us How the Internet Turned Bad. Many ways, as it happens. But, as a retired geek, I liked this:

    One of the aspects of the Internet that intrigued me the most in 1993 was its governance mechanism. You can get the flavor of it by reading this brief history of the Internet, written twenty years ago. In particular, note the role of Requests for Comments (RFCs) and Internet Engineering Task Force Working Groups, which I will refer to as IETFs.

    I compare IETFs with government agencies this way:

    — IETFs are staffed by part-time or limited-term volunteers, whose compensation comes from their regular employers (universities, corporations, government agencies). Agencies are staffed by full-time permanent employees, using taxpayer dollars.

    — IETFs solve the problems that they work on. Agencies perpetuate the problems that they work on.

    — A particular group of engineers in an IETF disbands once it has solved its problem. An agency never disbands.

    When I hear calls for government regulation of the Internet, to me that sounds like a step backward. The IETF approach to regulation seems much better than the agency approach.

    Wise observation.


  • Of course, one of the ways the Internet went bad was spelled M-I-C-R-O-S-O-F-T. At Power Line, Steven Hayward notes: Microsoft Confuses the Workplace with a Wokeplace.

    As it happens, there's a James Damore-style heretic (so far unnamed), a "female Microsoft program manager". She writes things like this:

    “Because women used to be actively prohibited from full-time employment many decades ago, there is now the misguided belief that women SHOULD work, and if women AREN’T working, there’s something wrong…. Many women simply aren’t cut out for the corporate rat race, so to speak, and that’s not because of ‘the patriarchy,’ it’s because men and women aren’t identical, and women are much more inclined to gain fulfillment elsewhere.”

    “We still lack any empirical evidence that the demographic distribution in tech is rationally and logically detrimental to the success of the business in this industry….We have a plethora of data available that demonstrate women are less likely to be interested in engineering AT ALL than men, and it’s not because of any *ism or *phobia or ‘unconscious bias’- it’s because men and women think very differently from each other, and the specific types of thought process and problem solving required for engineering of all kinds (software or otherwise) are simply less prevalent among women. This is an established fact. However, this established fact makes people very uncomfortable, because it suggests that the gender distribution in engineering might not actually be a problem (and thus women can no longer bleat about being victims of sexism in the workplace), these facts are ignored in favor of meaningless platitudes our SLT [senior leadership team] continues to shove down our throats – e.g. ‘We’re not doing enough’ and ‘we clearly have a long way to go.’”

    The news story Steven quotes also includes the predictable outrage. (Roughly: A witch! Burn her!)


  • The wise Bryan Caplan debunks … You Have No Right to Your Culture.

    Most complaints about immigration are declarative: “Immigrants take our jobs.”  “Immigrants abuse the welfare state.”  “Immigrants won’t learn English.’  “Immigrants will vote for Sharia.”  One complaint, however, is usually phrased as a question: “But don’t people have a right to their culture?”  When people so inquire, their tone is usually conciliatory, as if to say, “Surely, even you will accept this.”  My considered judgment, however, is that this challenge is a true Trojan Horse.  No one, no one, has “a right to their culture.”

    Why not?  Because culture is… other people!  Culture is who other people want to date and marry.  Culture is how other people raise their kids.  Culture is the movies other people want to see.  Culture is the hobbies other people value.  Culture is the sports other people play.  Culture is the food other people cook and eat.  Culture is the religion other people choose to practice.  To have a “right to your culture” is to have a right to rule all of these choices – and more. Though I dread hyperbole, the “right to your culture” is literally totalitarian, because you can’t ensure the preservation of your culture without totalitarian rule over the very fabric of life in your society.

    Good point, of course. I don't buy into Bryan's "open borders" position—at least not yet.

    And, by the way, if anyone, of any color, nationality, or creed—wants my culture (Norwegian Nice), have at it. As long as you promised to drop some lefse on me every so often. But hold the lutefisk.


Last Modified 2019-04-23 5:00 PM EDT