Rafe’s Roundup 2 June

A Libertarian thought from Chairman Karl Popper. On the danger of “happiness” as a state policy from chapter 24 of The Open Society and its Enemies.

The political demand for piecemeal (as opposed to Utopian) methods corresponds to the decision that the fight against suffering must be considered a duty, while the right to care for the happiness of others must be considered a privilege confined to the close circle of their friends. In their case, we may perhaps have a certain right to try to impose our scale of values—our preferences regarding music, for example. (And we may even feel it our duty to open to them a world of values which, we trust, can so much contribute to their happiness.) This right of ours exists only if, and because, they can get rid of us; because friendships can be ended. But the use of political means for imposing our scale of values upon others is a very different matter. Pain, suffering, injustice, and their prevention, these are the eternal problems of public morals, the ‘agenda’ of public policy (as Bentham would have said). The ‘higher’ values should very largely be considered as ‘non-agenda’, and should be left to the realm of laissez faire. Thus we might say: help your enemies; assist those in distress, even if they hate you; but love only your friends.”

Not good news. Traffic Jam – spare a thought for the victims of the modern slave trade.

Picketty, drowning us in data. Critical commentary on his contribution from the Mises list.

This chart is astonishing for many reasons. First of all, it suggests that capital earned a 4.5 percent or higher return for the years 0-1800 C.E. This is a crazy number. If the human race had started out with only $10 in year 1 and compounded it at 4.5 percent a year for any series of 1,800 years, by now we would have much, much more than a trillion times the entire world’s wealth today, which is estimated at $241 trillion by Credit Suisse.

Science. A technological fix to bring back the salmon. Not a joy for the Greens.

Employment. Ken Henry on youth unemployment. Declining apprenticeships in the US.

Literature and life. David Ireland, forgotten Australian novelist. His picture of pub culture in Glass canoe.

Books. “Bucket list” books. A futuristic military adventure by my son Leo. Legion, a story of the American Foreign Legion which was established as a disposable force to deal with colonial conflicts in America’s interstellar empire. A good read if you like the genre. Childrens books from Clouston and Hall remainders.

How we live. Actually how scientists live. Eat more elephant burgers! Toxic workmates. What we learn from sitcom dialogue.

Around the town: IPA HEY. The Sydney Institute. Australian Taxpayers Alliance, Liberty on the Rocks, the notice board for the ATA: Quadrant on line, Mannkal Foundation, Centre for Independent Studies.

Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog Don Aitkin, usually very good! Can come by email if you sign up.

Jim Rose, feral and utopian!

For nerds. Melvyn Bragg’s radio program. Homer economicus.

This should be a joke but is isn’t (if true). Life in the global public service. Work falls by 90%, staff numbers go down by 10%.

The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has helped funnel almost $400-billion into emission-cutting projects in developing countries by allowing investors to earn carbon credits they can sell to companies and governments of richer nations that use them to meet emission targets.

From 2003, developers flocked to register projects such as destroying heat-trapping waste gasses at Chinese chemical plants or installing hydroelectric power stations in Brazil, and made huge profits by selling the resulting carbon credits for up to $30.40 a tonne in 2008.

But interest has waned while countries wrangled over setting new emission goals under the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), hammering credit prices down to unprofitable levels below $0.30.

At it’s peak the UN CDM Fund employed 160 people to register and issue credits.

The CDM raises funds by charging fees to developers for registering projects and issuing credits, a relatively unique mechanism that helped it grow from a handful of staff in 2003 to more than 160 in 2013 as the number of projects mounted.

In true bureaucratic style now that projects have fallen by 90%, staff numbers have slipped from 160 to 150.
Previously it took 1.6 full time employees to approve and register one project per month. Now with productivity improvements each case only needs a full time staff of … 50.

UN data shows just three projects a month were registered on average this year, against 268 a month at the peak of activity in 2012. This means a staff of 10-20 people would be sufficient, said Axel Michaelowa, a University of Zurich climate policy academic and founding partner of consultancy Perspectives.

This entry was posted in Rafe, Rafe's Roundups. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Rafe’s Roundup 2 June

  1. dragnet

    David Ireland not forgotten by me! The Glass Canoe resonated very strongly with me, and (outside the Sydney Met area) one may still find a few pubs like “the Cross” (hint: there’s a few in Goulburn)

  2. Poor Old Rafe

    Thanks dragnet. For some strange reason that I can’t recall I exchanged letters with David Ireland sometime before email. He had moved to the south coast (I think) and he said he was reading Hayek and related books “to broaden his education”.

  3. Robert Blair

    Piketty is complete and utter.

    He creates a “model” from some slim strands of evidence, which are themselves assumptions pulled from anecdotes.

    That is why his claims look silly when isolated and examined. But he has thousands of similar claims, and the general run of economic thinkers don’t wish to examine this pleasing parable too closely.
    One never wants to take too much make-up off the trollop, y’know.

  4. .

    Picketty is crazy.

    The idiot should learn the difference between GDP growth and return on investment.

    Force returns beneath the sovereign bond rate…oh yes growth would boom and there’d be no inequality…what could possibly go wrong.

    He is the same person who ignores that the Marxian nonsense about “expanding profits under capitalism is not sustainable” has been debunked ad nauseum in theoretical analysis and empirical review.

  5. Tel

    I ran through a thought experiment: we have one million people, and each week they write an IOU note for one hour of their time and put the notes into a lottery. Randomly, one thousand winners are drawn and each of these receives one thousand IOU notes, each for one hour of labour.

    Repeat the experiment for fifty weeks a year over twenty years (thus one thousand lotteries in all) and we get these statistics:

    * 36.8% of the population end up putting in one hour per week of labour and get nothing back, they lose.
    * 36.8% of the population break even exactly, for every hour they put in they get one in return.
    * 18.4% of the population come out ahead by one hour per week.
    * 6.1% of the population come out ahead by two hours per week.
    * 1.5% of the population come out ahead by three hours per week.
    * 0.4% of the population get four hours per week or better (the winners).

    Is it fair to play a lottery game like that? Well, obviously we end up with inequality, but you don’t see too many big government statists wringing hands and shutting down those lotteries that rake in a lot of tax dollars.

    The game itself is completely fair, in as much as everyone has an equal chance of winning.

    The average wage is zero in this case, because it’s a zero sum game, the median wage is also zero. If you change the rules a bit you can get a median wage above or below zero.

    By the way, this economy is not growing, nor is there any capital investment. There is nominal capital in the form of IOU notes (i.e. a claim on future labour), but it merely changes hands between people and is then consumed.

  6. Big Jim

    Popper was quite right of course. But the distinction between ‘suffering’ and ‘unhappy’ was always going to be fudged. A case could be made that luvvie classes have worked on little else since the early twentieth century.

    That does not make KP a dummy. His was an entirely different time; a time when a universal rationalist with good ideas expected to win the battle of ideas because, well, he was right. In that sense he underestimated Marx. His Marxian critics then would have said something along the lines Mandy Rice Davies “Well, he would say that wouldn’t he?” But Popper’s staunch Bourgeois allies would have laughed the critics off as doctrinaire and hysterical. There was in Popper’s London a common understanding of ‘idea’, ‘right’, rational’, etc.

    Fast forward to 2014… You know the rest.

Comments are closed.