Friday, March 4, 2022

Weekend Links

  • It's become clear to me that a lot of intelligent people have still been underestimating the extent to which Western institutions have been ideologically captured -- and merged. If JPMorgan says something or CBS says something, there is no difference. It's all Pravda-style BS. Same people, same schools. Same zip codes. Identical resumes and experiences. You might think that their training and their professional specialization would lead to divergent outlooks, that a specialist will still approach their own field with objectivity. You would be wrong. Every Western institution will chant the propaganda du jour in perfect unison. All analysis will be subordinated to toeing that line. No matter what field -- finance, military, law, medicine. We just saw it for two years. It's not different now that we've changed the subject. [Polúmētis]
  • The essay below was solicited by the editorial page of a major US newspaper, and then rejected because it did not fit its prevailing narrative. Not only are major channels of discussion closed off to dissenting views in the United States, but major news sources are blocked by internet service providers. Interfax, the post-Communist independent news service, is inaccessible from Western IP addresses, but accessible through Hong Kong, for example. The West is fighting for democracy, but using the propaganda and press control methods of authoritarian regimes. [David P Goldman]
  • I am a proud Oklahoman. Yesterday I saw that the Legislature of my state, in its infinite wisdom, rallied to issue a Joint Resolution condemning the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, as if the Great Powers of the world sit with bated breath waiting to see where the Okies come down on the issue. Last summer our Senator Warren Hamilton called for the Governor to issue a Special Session to end the Covid Mandates here and was rebuffed; The Powers That Be offer a faraway conflict though with an opportunity to swagger and talk tough (and maybe get some of that sweet defense pork for donors no doubt) and suddenly they’re full of piss-and-vinegar. From what I have heard, some here had been making strides along with those from other Red States to attack on fronts ranging from protections for people refusing the Covid “vaccines” to fighting CRT to strengthening what remains of election integrity, and yet, as soon as the very people who have brought these problems upon us beat the drums of war, all is forgotten and our glorious leaders stand ready to offer up their states’ sons on the altar of Mars. Nevermind that most of us would have a hard time finding Ukraine on a map. Someone even worked the Nazis and the Holocaust into the Resolution. Just in case the media hadn’t done enough to try to establish who the Heel is in this farce. [Samuel Finlay]
  • AerCap, the largest lessor, said Monday that as of year-end 2021 “approximately 5% of AerCap’s fleet by net book value was on lease to Russian airlines.” Net book value is a little different than the number of planes, but it’s a good way to think about the risk to the aircraft lessor. AerCap owns about 930 jets. (There are roughly 27,000 commercial jets in service worldwide.) What’ s more, AerCap reports about $34 billion in equipment-related assets on its books. So 5% of that number is $1.7 billion. The stock has shed more than $3.5 billion in market capitalization so far in 2022. That gap might be an opportunity for investors, though they don’t seem to be looking for bargains in air leasing stocks these days. Back in the initial days of Covid, the average decline from early 2020 highs for the three aircraft lessor stocks amounted to 70%. The Russian-Ukraine conflict isn’t as bad as the pandemic — at least investors can hold on to that. Air leasing stocks recovered off pandemic lows, but they took about one year to eclipse highs of early 2020. When bad things happen in the air leasing industry, investors seem to have time to figure out what to do next. [Barron's
  • Taxes in the United States are not actually high. I figure, for example, that my private share of the expense of maintaining the Hon. Mr. Harding in the White House this year will work out to less than 80 cents. Try to think of better sport for the money: in New York it has been estimated that it costs $8 to get comfortably tight, and $17.50, on an average, to pinch a girl's arm. The United States Senate will cost me perhaps $11 for the year, but against that expense set the subscription price of the Congressional Record, about $15, which, as a journalist, I receive for nothing. For $4 less than nothing I am thus entertained as Solomon never was by his hooch dancers. Col. George Brinton McClellan Harvey costs me but 25 cents a year; I get Nicholas Murray Butler free. Finally, there is young Teddy Roosevelt, the naval expert. Teddy costs me, as I work it out, about 11 cents a year, or less than a cent a month. More, he entertains me doubly for the money, first as a naval expert, and secondly as a walking attentat upon democracy, a devastating proof that there is nothing, after all, in that superstition. We Americans subscribe to the doctrine of human equality — and the Rooseveltii reduce it to an absurdity as brilliantly as the sons of Veit Bach. Where is your equal opportunity now? Here in this Eden of clowns, with the highest rewards of clowning theoretically open to every poor boy — here in the very citadel of democracy we found and cherish a clown dynasty! [H.L. Mencken]
  • In the 20th century, economics consolidated as a profession; economists could afford to write exclusively for one another. At the same time, the field experienced a paradigm shift, gradually identifying itself as a theoretical approach of economization and giving up the real-world economy as its subject matter. Today, production is marginalized in economics, and the paradigmatic question is a rather static one of resource allocation. The tools used by economists to analyze business firms are too abstract and speculative to offer any guidance to entrepreneurs and managers in their constant struggle to bring novel products to consumers at low cost. This separation of economics from the working economy has severely damaged both the business community and the academic discipline. Since economics offers little in the way of practical insight, managers and entrepreneurs depend on their own business acumen, personal judgment, and rules of thumb in making decisions. In times of crisis, when business leaders lose their self-confidence, they often look to political power to fill the void. Government is increasingly seen as the ultimate solution to tough economic problems, from innovation to employment. Economics thus becomes a convenient instrument the state uses to manage the economy, rather than a tool the public turns to for enlightenment about how the economy operates. But because it is no longer firmly grounded in systematic empirical investigation of the working of the economy, it is hardly up to the task. [Ronald Coase]
  • Coase is best known for two articles: "The Nature of the Firm" (1937), which introduces the concept of transaction costs to explain the nature and limits of firms; and "The Problem of Social Cost" (1960), which suggests that well-defined property rights could overcome the problems of externalities if it were not for transaction costs (see Coase theorem). [Wiki]
  • Facebook is worse than useless, while Twitter is indispensable and informs how I live. On Twitter I see not Tweets but conversations, as people toss out and the refine ideas about how best to live. What’s remarkable about this is how the conversations trend toward affirmation of tradition. People are mutually concluding that perhaps, despite what we are endlessly told, having a family - even a large one - is a great idea. Or meat is healthful. Or fasting makes sense. Or religion is all that really matters, and is infinitely larger than ideology. Or sacrifice in the cause of excellence is better than ease in the cause of mediocrity. Or men and women are different and complementary and that’s good. I see more clearly now that these ideas came from honest conversation. [Brad C Lemley]
  • It was Uber, according to Vasquez's defense team, that should have seen the crash coming. Morrison and Kratter argue in the motion that the California company, with help from Governor Doug Ducey and Tempe police, intentionally risked the safety of the public and its backup drivers to try and stay competitive in the global race to build self-driving cars. The motion relies heavily on a report from the NTSB, which provided numerous points on how Uber's lack of appropriate safety measures contributed to the crash. [New Times]

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