Monday, March 26, 2012

Karl Denninger Engages in Batshit Crazy False Equivalents

Look, I like Karl, but the man is shockingly and distastefully wrong in attempting to boil down the Trayvon Martin case into solely a black-v-white issue.  

The issue is not solely about race.  The issue is how does the state deal with issues of race?  In the Trayvon Martin case, you have a racially-biased white man confronting a black teenager after he was told not to do so, and then being absolved by the police as acting in self-defense in a confrontation that the white man clearly initiated.  How does that work?  A black teen concerned for his own safety when confronted by an agitated southern white male who outweighs him by at least 50 pounds, is, by definition, the aggressor when acting in his own self-defense?  I don't get it.

When the local police in Kansas City chooses not to charge the allegedly black suspects because the police conclude the suspects were acting in self-defense, then Karl will have something to say about Travon Martin.

Until then, Karl is full of shit.  You'd think a self-professed "libertarian" would get that, but liberty apparently is not color blind.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wall Street Recuriter: "If you have integrity, Wall Street Doesn't Want You"

In what can most charitably be called a piece of hack journalism, Susan Adams of Forbes shares this inadvertently raw piece of truth with us:
Roy Cohen, a New York career coach who worked as a regular outplacement consultant for Goldman Sachs from 1990-2004, says that Smith’s Times piece “raises questions about this fellow’s integrity and loyalty.” An even bigger issue, says Cohen: When Smith detailed how Goldman employees “callously … talk about ripping their clients off,” he put the livelihoods of the 30,000 people employed by the firm at risk. Goldman’s stock dropped 3.4% yesterday after the op ed appeared, though shares have been recovering some of their losses today. Employers will be wary of hiring someone who would intentionally cause such damage.
So, let me get this straight, Smith placing the livelihoods of 30,000 con artists at risk for bilking their customers is a bad thing.  For who?  The con artists?  I don't think there's any way to interpret what Cohen is saying other than the presence-- not absence-- of integrity is the problem from Wall Street's perspective.

Of course, that's not what he meant to say.  What he meant to say is that anything that harms a corporation is morally wrong and displays a lack of integrity and loyalty.  When did harm to corporate profits become the baseline for measuring morality?

UPDATE:  I want to be clear that I cannot applaud Greg Smith as a hero because it took him a long time to do the right thing.  I can, however, appreciate the fact that he is starting to wake up to reality and will help others to do the same.  He is still groggy, though, as demonstrated by his hope that GS management will clean up their act and start treating their customers as anything other than marks in a con game.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Karl Denninger Confuses Sophistry With Truth

I love KD.  I really do.  I know too many people like him not to love the guy.  Personally, I am nothing like him, and perhaps that is why I can admire him for what he is, even when I'm repelled by it.

But KD made a really stupid statement today.  Specifically, he said "[t]his is a tautology, or something that is true no matter the interpretation."

Actually, according to Merriam-Webster, a tautologous statement (what Karl means by "a tautology") is "true by virtue of its logical form alone."

A more accurate definition of a tautology is "a statement that holds together logically but that practically makes no sense."  This is particularly true of the tautology that KD adopts, which is the quantity theory of money, or "MV = PQ."  This tautology was and is the basis of Chicago School monetarism and was rejected in practice by Paul Volcker in the mid 1980s when it was proven that "V" does whatever the fuck it wants to do, i.e., it is not bound by the values of M, P or Q.  Volcker killed the U.S. manufacturing sector in the early 1980s trying to slow the velocity of money by jacking up the interest rates, but it made no difference UNTIL businesses actually failed, triggering a deep recession.

To be fair, there are number of things that Karl gets right in the post linked to above.  I just can't get past the stupidity he displays in embracing sophistry as truth, even if it is to make a point that is more correct than not. I think KD is an example of a "progressive" conservative in the Teddy Roosevelt tradition.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nietzsche? Meh . . .

My first impression of Nietzsche are a mixed bag.  On the one hand, the man was a special thinker.  He seems different than any other Western "philosopher"I've run across.  Then again, he is like every other Western philosopher where it counts.

Generally, though, the good outweighs the bad.

But not enough to waste time commenting on the man's thinking, particularly in criticizing it, which is I what I would be doing more often than not.  Yes, he was special, but he was just as flawed as each of us and more so than some.

Personally, I believe that one of the reasons the man's legacy lives on is that it helps perpetuate the myth that there is no agency behind the evil we witness on a daily basis (unless, of course, the evil involves a poor person of color attacking an unworthy victim).  His views on religion are particularly naive, which makes him a useful idiot.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nietzsche Strikes Out

Today I picked up some tomes penned by Friedrich Nietzsche, including his  The Will to Power, which I started to read immediately.

What struck me immediately from reading the first few pages of The Will to Power, and why I say the man struck out, is that he assumed that Christianity staved off nihilism in the ancient world when, in fact, it did no such thing.  The false certainty of superiority of Christianity, when it fails-- as it must-- is what will create nihilism in modernity.  Of that I have no doubt, but there simply is no reason to believe that nihilism existed in the ancient world.  Nietzsche's assumption seems to be that before Christianity (or perhaps Judaism), the Western world was marked by nihilism, but I don't see any evidentiary basis for that assumption.  In all likelihood, the man was simply projecting his despair at learning that what he was taught as a Lutheran was morally bankrupt, that like Freud, Nietzsche was incapable of thinking beyond himself, that at best he could extrapolate from his own experience and project it upon others.

Update:  To be clear, my criticism relates solely to the unstated assumption that morality sprang from Christianity.  Many people mistakenly believe that there can be no morality without religion, so Nietzsche is not alone.  Interestingly, CHS seems to make similar observations solely in a secular sense, in his various discussions of "When Belief in the System Fades."