Archive for April 2015
Pope Francis says so, therefore it must be what Jesus and God want.
As Christians we must become more demanding, for example, by supporting the right of equal pay for equal work, why should it be taken for granted that women must earn less than men? The disparity is pure scandal.
The liberal mainstream media loves this Pope.
At the top of the NY Times most-emailed list earlier today (but now down to #2), How to Attract Female Engineers.
The question never asked is why would anyone want to attract female engineers? Aren’t we doing just fine with mostly male engineers? Why doesn’t anyone ask how to attract male nurses?
To answer the question of why there are so few female engineers, the article says:
Many reasons have been offered: workplace sexism, a lack of female role models, stereotypes regarding women’s innate technical incompetency, the difficulties of combining tech careers with motherhood.
The article avoids two possible answers. (1) Women and girls just aren’t good at math (and it’s not just a stereotype); or (2) women and girls find math really really boring. Although those two answers are actually related to each other because people are bored by what they aren’t naturally good at, and usually don’t become good at what they find boring. Didn’t a bright fellow by the name of Larry Summers (former Secretary of the Treasury and President of Harvard) once suggest one of these answers?
It has been my observation that women with engineering degrees, far more often than their male colleagues, wind up becoming project managers instead of doing real engineering.
Incidentally, while some consider it the second-most-evil thing in the world (right behind racism) to say that men make better engineers, it’s apparently just fine to say that women make better project managers. Another double standard.
It’s good that the NY Times is getting out the message that career opportunities for law school graduates suck, especially for those unlucky enough to graduate in the worst year, 2010.
However, I do think it’s a little strange that the guy featured in the article was unable to find any sort of job even though he graduated from Columbia, the fourth-best law school in the country. Maybe he came across as really weird on interview?
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In other law school news, a hundred-year-old law professor is still teaching (or at least he did teach a class last year and he’s technically not retired). So although law school may suck for the students, it’s so incredibly self-actualizing for the professors that they won’t retire from it even though they are 100 years old!
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And then we have the most misinformative article ever for stating that “Among law students graduating this year who previously held summer associate gigs, 93 percent got job offers. That’s the highest offer rate in the last two decades.”
What the article doesn’t tell you is that only a tiny, tiny percentage of law school students are lucky enough to be “summer associates.”
Unfortunately, there is barely any news to report. The media got bored with the story. There has been nothing reported about what exactly his doctors were treating him for. This is typical with all of these interesting stories, we never get to find out the real story.
From a New York Times article last week, this all that is said about the psychiatric care he received when he dropped out of flight school:
But he broke off his training and for several months received psychiatric care, spending at least part of that time back home in Montabaur. When he was ready to return to the flight school the next year he sent Lufthansa the email about his “episode of severe depression,” attaching medical documents, the company said.
There is nothing specific here, such as exact contents of the medical records his psychiatrists had on him. I still suspect that Lubitz actually experienced hallucinations, but the doctors called it “depression” in order to avoid stigmatizing him with schizophrenia.
And then in the period shortly before the crash:
He began to visit a series of doctors, complaining first of psychiatric problems and later of difficulties with his vision. He visited the Düsseldorf University Hospital in February and March for diagnostic testing. Doctors could determine no physiological causes for the vision difficulties, leading investigators to conclude that they may have been psychosomatic.
Investigators believe that he visited many different doctors, “well into the double digits,” in part so that none would recognize the true scope of his health problem, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of German privacy laws.
Once again, there is absolutely nothing specific about what the more than ten doctors he saw actually evaluated him for. Psychosomatic vision difficulties are pretty rate, and I still think that this would be consistent with photopsia which is sometimes experienced by people with schizophrenia and might have caused him to have a retinal exam because photopsia is also a symptom of retinal detachment, as well as a symptom of migraines, and Lubitz did search for migraines on his computer.
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We also never found out about Adam Lanza’s congenital analgesia, which was the weirdest thing about that incident yet nothing the MSM reported on.
Chinese researchers are experimenting with altering the genes of real human embryos, a scientific first.
People in the West are mostly worried about the “ethics” of doing this. I think that China will become the dominant world power after they perfect this technology and then start giving birth to genetically improved children.
$4 for a bottle of water? $7 for popcorn? Movie theaters can rip you off on these things because they have set things up so that there is no competition within the theater. If other vendors was allowed to set up in the lobby and sell stuff, the price for a bottle of water would sink to down to $1 where it belongs and popcorn would cost $1.50. This demonstrates why businesses hate, hate, hate competition. Competition causes lower prices and profits evaporate. Therefore, the main goal of business is to change the environment so they can sell stuff without competition.
Libertarians will say that you are free to go to another movie theater. Maybe in the past there were lots of small mom & pop movie theaters, but today the movie theaters are huge megaplexes and there may only be one conveniently located near you. And if there is more than one, they are probably from one of the four big movie theater chains: Regal, AMC, Cinemark and Carmike. Like just about every type of business in the United States, movie theaters are an oligopoly, and they all have the same unconscionable prices for food and drink. There is no choice for the consumer.
After you bring up the oligopoly argument, liberals will fall back and say you don’t have to go to the movie theater at all. In the case of movie theaters, libertarians actually have a point. In the past, movies had more of a monopoly on motion picture entertainment, but today substitute goods like Netflix rentals or illegal torrent sites (of course you should not violate the law, just pointing out that some people do) allow you to watch as much entertainment as you want in the comfort of your own home without being ripped off by movie theaters.
Why do people still go? The answer is that it has become part of the culture, and the movie theater oligopoly will do its best to brainwash you through advertising into thinking that it’s still part of the culture. And once in the theater, they do their best to brainwash you into thinking that buying popcorn is an essential part of the movie experience. If all of your friends decide they want to go to the movies, you can either join in or be a hermit. Thus, the best way to save money is to dump your spendthrift friends and acquire more frugal friends. Or you should attend a quality school like Harvard so you can get into a good career track so that you make so much money that spending a hundred dollars to take your family to the movies doesn’t seem like a big deal. For example, you can make $4.45 million dollars per year as the CEO of a movie theater chain.
In a comment to one of my recent libertarianism posts, a commenter insisted that there aren’t that many monopolies around.
It is true that oligopoly seems more common than absolute monopoly. Even though they are not absolute monopolies, oligopolies have monopoly power, which is what makes them profitable. (You should click the link to read more about monopoly power.)
As a reminder, businesses hate, hate, hate competition. It’s ironic that libertarians praise the “competition” of the “free market” while the actual participants in the market are doing everything possible to avoid having to compete.
In a market where there are two dominant companies, it would be most profitable for them to merge into a single company so they no longer have to compete against each other. But the reason this doesn’t happen is because of antitrust law, which in the United States is enforced by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The government forbids this type of merger. Which is why oligopoly is the predominant market structure rather monopoly. It’s rather ironic that libertarians praise both competition and laissez-fairism, but it’s the lack of laissez-fairism with respect to antitrust law which allows as much competition as we have. Anti-trust law is an example of good economic regulation that results in freer and more competitive markets, and more value creation.
The problem in recent decades is that crazy absolutist libertarian thinking has invaded the Republican Party and made them hostile even to good economic regulation like antitrust.
In light of those old posts, read the article in yesterday’s NY Times about the child-support trap which dooms prole men to economic poverty and jail.
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Commenter “Jeff” writes:
I agree with you, Lion. I am a family law attorney, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the kind of problems that child support creates in men and women who are stuck having to deal with it. One effect of child support that you haven’t hit on is that it causes a lot more battles over child custody, and the litigation is costly and very inefficient. Child support is calculated using a formula based on a bunch of factors, but in most states the two most important factors are the incomes of the parents and the amount of time each parent has with the child. A dad who has his kids half of the time will pay much less in child support than one who has his kids only every other weekend. Long, drawn out battles over child custody are the natural result of this. Cases can last forever because the parents can always reopen child custody cases to modify the parenting schedule. I guarantee you that most of these fights will go away if you took away child support, and dads wouldn’t mind having just every other weekend with their kids, which is probably in the best interests of most children.
Once upon a time on an online lawyers forum, I suggested that associates could save money by driving an inexpensive car like a Honda Civic (which was a small inexpensive car back then).
Some of the responses were in the nature that a Honda Civic would be a career killer, because what if you had to drive a partner or an important client to the airport in your Honda Civic?
I am not sure I believe that anyone cares what car you drive as long as it doesn’t look like a jalopy. On the other hand the attitude in the forum does demonstrate the emotion that I believe drives luxury purchases, which is not the conscious pursuit of status so much as the feeling that people have prove to the world that they are not losers. What do you think?
Libertarians believe in the subjective theory of value. “The subjective theory of value is a theory of value which advances the idea that the value of a good is not determined by any inherent property of the good, nor by the amount of labor required to produce the good, but instead value is determined by the importance an acting individual places on a good for the achievement of their desired ends.” In other words, the value of something is subjective, and measured by what someone is willing to pay for it, and not what you think the value should be.
Now certain commenters have insisted that my statement that libertarians believe that what a person makes is exactly equal to the value they create is not what libertarians believe, but it’s simply a tautology of the subjective theory of value. If the “free market” was willing to pay billions of dollars for Bill Gates’ labor, that means the value of his labor was billions of dollars. The subjective theory of value is at the core of Austrian economics which is synonymous with libertarian economics.
Since libertarians believe that value is subjective, this can’t be disproved empirically, it but it’s easily disproved by using common sense. So put on your common-sense thinking caps, people.
In order to explain real-world economics, I’ve created the theory of value transference. Under my theory, value transference is the difference between a thing’s true value (which is indeed hard to objectively measure precisely) and what someone paid for it. (Although it’s a theory that’s still being refined, so I reserve the right to change it.)
In my economic universe, everyone wants to make money, but most people don’t care if they make money by creating value or by transferring value created by other people to themselves. Some people do think that what they do for a living should be socially useful, but they are in the minority. In the modern economy, most people don’t even choose whether they want to make money by creating value or by transferring value. They take whatever job is available to them and their employer directs their labor either towards value creation or value transference. And regardless of whether the employee creates or transfers value, some of that value will be transferred up the corporate ladder to higher level executives and then a residual amount to shareholders.
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It should be further elaborated that libertarians/Austrians believe that there is one exception to the theory of subjective value, and that’s when the government butts into the free market, which allows people to make money by lobbying the government for favorable laws. Libertarians call this “rent-seeking behavior.” If government would only de-regulate everything and allow a completely laissez-faire economy, then all “rent-seeking” would go away and there would be libertarian bliss.