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Reddit

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been redditing a lot lately, under the name Pendergrass because that’s who I was listening to when I made my account and I’m not very creative when it comes to making using names. Mostly on /economics.

I don’t know why… it is kind of a sad reflection of the state of affairs in my life that I’ve been spending hours a day engaging in economic and political arguments with people whose sense of surety comes from reading Paul Krugman or Naked Capitalism.

I do know why: it has been making me a better writer, more easily able to state my opinion clearly and concisely (regular readers <all two of you… hi Mom!> are probably in disagreement with this self-assessment).

Mainly I am just trying to be a good Samaritan by clearing up misconceptions and explaining technical stuff. Generally, most of the feedback I get is positive, which I guess is another reason I go there (to get feedback). At the end of the day, if I can light a candle for someone, I guess it makes it all worthwhile. If I seem so nonplussed about it, it’s because the level of discussion leaves something to be desired. It is better than most of the internet, but it is still the internet…

I was going into /politics at first but realized that it is pretty useless leaving meaningful comments there, since its all just an ideological pep rally. /economics is only slightly better than /politics in this regard.

One thing that both groups have made me notice is the divide between liberal people’s understanding of economics, and conservative people’s understanding of politics. I think a lot of liberals have very well-informed political ideas and realistic models of political organization, but they don’t have as much of a grasp on economics, particularly the “hard science economics” of mathematical equations. Conversely, I think the conservatives are blind to the realities of politics, but they seem (in general) to have a more solid understanding of rigorous economic models. I think a lot of this is just an accident of ideology, and it could speak more about my own ideology than about America or the world at large, but it is an interesting phenomena nonetheless.

Does anyone know of any good economics forums that are inhabited by grad students and Ph.D’s? I like most of Marginal Revolution’s commenters, but its not exactly a forum or community.

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Categories: Culture, Economics, Technology

Parents

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Does anyone else think that becoming a parent is the worst possible thing you can do to your sense of objectivity? It seems like everyone I know who is a parent directs all of their energy towards selfishly supporting the welfare of their children. I am not saying this is a bad thing for society, because children need someone to look after their welfare, and who better than their parents, but all of my friends who have kids become completing uninterested in most subjects besides their kids. A lot of them abandon their progressive politics and become pragmatic Wal Mart shoppers. They start voting Republican because they are afraid of their kids dying in a terrorist attack, or they start voting Democrat because they want the government to do as much of their parenting for them as possible.

I’m not trying to sound normative about any of this, I just want to point it out as an interesting observation. I don’t resent any of the parents I know, but being aware of the transformation that can take place makes me very weary of having kids.

My ideas are my babies.

Categories: Culture

“Americans have been historically less inclined than Europeans to explosions of social rage, despite suffering more poverty than most other wealthy democracies.”

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

This article makes an important point about the burning luxury cars in Berlin and the American proletariat’s general inaction against its bourgeoisie. It could be America’s strong anti-communist cultural values, but I think an even more likely cause is the large number of lower income, fiscally conservative Republicans. Whether they are fiscally conservative because they are Republican or Republican because they are fiscally conservative is of little consequence: the strange assortment of characters under the GOP’s formerly big tent is united by their unyielding belief in ideology, whatever that ideology may be. You have a mixture of people who don’t understand what tax bracket they are in, or how progressive taxation works.  or else they have noneconomic reasons for voting the way they do: morality (include both Christians and Minarchists here), racism, last place aversion, etc.

If the Democrats were the gun nuts, rather than the Republicans, we might be seeing protests here that are more riotous and violent in character, similar to what tends to happen in Europe as of late (France 2005, UK 2010/11, Germany 2011). For now, perhaps the banker’s sleep better at night knowing that the party of our nation’s proletariat is also the party of its peaceniks.

 

 

 

Criticism

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Does all cultural criticism suffer from a problem of perspective: today’s critic is yesterday’s crusader? Culture is by the people, and when those people get old, there are new people who begin to make their own mark upon that culture. So much criticism can essentially be boiled down to: “things aren’t the same anymore… it used to be like this, but now it is different, and the old way was kind of better.” Of course, I admit that it can cut both ways. I guess the new generation has its own critiques that indict the old ways and imply the inevitable supremacy of the new. It is the same liberal/conservative split that we see throughout society.

Is the critique always the underdog? Or is underdog status relational to the critique’s positioning (being “inside” or “outside” the norm) within society? What about in situations where there is no established mainstream, i.e. critiquing two parallel subcultures of equal following?

Is it conservative to critique religious fundamentalists because they are the “outsider” in todays culture (or are they not the outsiders)? Atheists? Unitarians? Mormons? Westboro Baptists? Is today’s mainstream society so socially liberal that modern social conservatives are actually a progressive insurgency for change?

It also seems to me that there is more criticism of the conservative variety than the liberal, i.e. more old people complaining about young people than vice versa. This could be a reflection of demographics (there are more young people), the liberalization of society, or maybe more so the complacency of today’s liberals with the social order (having nothing to really bitch about, or better things to do than bitch). How much do the bourgeois pleasures of the global neoliberal marketplace placate today’s young radicals? Do the youth of today care more about creation than critique, and if so, is this a phenomena that is unique to our time, constant throughout history, or cyclical?

Self-determinism has been a distinctly American value throughout the county’s history. From the babyboom generation onward, American’s have enjoyed the material wealth and associated privilege required to shape their world and future into whatever they may imagine. If this is a liberal attitude, the ability to create something new and actualize one’s dreams, it would seem that criticism would find little respite within the cadre of artists and visionaries that set the cultural agenda.

Categories: Art, Culture, Philosophy