August 1, 2012

"When you see the greed... did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism?"

Phil Donahue leans forward, prodding Milton Friedman (in 1979), and Friedman responds with startling cogency and articulateness:



Via Rush Limbaugh, yesterday, the 100th anniversary of Friedman's birth.

183 comments:

The Farmer said...

I don't know what's more entertaining - Friedman's answers or Donahue's complete inability to respond to his questions.

SteveR said...

Friedman might as well have been talking to a wall.

KLDAVIS said...

Where are today's succinct defenders of Capitalism? Who is our Friedman? I've seen the greatest minds of my generation relegated to 140 characters.

dreams said...

Yes, but it falls on the liberal's deaf ears. No, Donahue didn't have an answer and did he change his mind? No. You have to be open minded to change your mind. Liberals are very close minded people.

Sorun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sorun said...

I don't think Donahue learned anything that day.

rhhardin said...

If you can't explain it in less than 140 characters, you don't understand it.

dreams said...

We have Arthur Laffer and Larry Kudlow but no Friedman, I guess.

Michael K said...

The greatest difference between left and right now is the inability of the left to admit that self interest drives all human behavior. They still believe in "The New Soviet Man." Adam Smith could have told them the truth in 1776. They still can't believe it, although I do wonder if they know better but are still telling the rubes what they want to hear.

chickelit said...

David Mamet tried to parse the difference between greed and ambition in his book The Secret Knowledge: link

Roger J. said...

Saint Milton's "Capitalism and Freedom" is a great read. And it was Milton Friedman who pointed out that a dollar spent by government has to be paid by a dollar from a private citizen in the form of taxation.

As for Donohue--I think his hair had insulated his brain. Of course it was the 1970s.

Bob Ellison said...

Donahue did a great job. He asked open questions, and calmly let the subject answer them.

Ken said...

KLDAVIS,

Where are today's succinct defenders of Capitalism?

Thomas Sowell does an excellent job. And there are many, many others online, if anyone chooses to find them.

Rusty said...

dreams said...
We have Arthur Laffer and Larry Kudlow but no Friedman, I guess.


Oh. I think Thomas Sowell is doing a good job.



The Farmer said...
I don't know what's more entertaining - Friedman's answers or Donahue's complete inability to respond to his questions.


Idon't know if I'd call Friedman entertaining. Informative certainly.
I'ts because Danahue can't. There is no cogent argument against free markets.

Bob in 123...................

Pogo said...

That is one of the best video clips -one of the best explanations- ever made, and irrefutable by the left.

Donahue was an idiot then, and Friedman did not make him any smarter. Invincibly ignorant, as the nuns used to say.


That's why the leftists school system never teaches this stuff in high school. It's devastating.

Palladian said...

Oh. I think Thomas Sowell is doing a good job.

Sowell's too much of a gloom-monger and gets mired in too many social conservative-type issues.

Palladian said...

Where are today's succinct defenders of Capitalism?

Friedman's defense isn't dated.

hawkeyedjb said...

"Greed" is such an abused word. It's kind of like "racist," an all-inclusive retort, a trump card, an automatic debate-winner. But what a strange concept it describes:

If I want to keep what I have earned and put it to my desired use, I am Greedy.

If I want to take what others have earned and put it to my desired use, I am Not Greedy.

Pogo said...

"Donahue did a great job. He asked open questions, and calmly let the subject answer them."

He let Friedman answer the question posed, but the question was pure adolescent angst.
Why is life hard?
Why do I gotta work?
Why are people so mean?
Why doesn't everyone do what I think they should?


I asked questions like that when I was 14. Donahue 's a fool.

Roger J. said...

Donohue's role was to play the sensitive liberal. He was, IIRC, married to Margo Thomas. He was the liberal truth seeker in his TV show. He asked the tough questions, albeit with really bad hair. Or so we were led to believe.

Friedman's rejoiner eviscorated Phil's question, and Phil was left looking like a dork.

MisterBuddwing said...

You have to be open minded to change your mind. Liberals are very close minded people.

Not that I'm picking a fight or anything, but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?

Strelnikov said...

Donahue was only entertaining when he was Dan Akroyd.

James said...

The full 48 minute clip is very instructive; particulary Friedman's opinions on the Chrysler bailout.

Scott M said...

Excellent clip. Friedman answered Donahue's one lean forward with two of his own.

Of course, you could tell from the looks on everyone's faces in the audience that all they really cared about was figuring out who shot JR.

Rusty said...

Palladian said...
Oh. I think Thomas Sowell is doing a good job.

Sowell's too much of a gloom-monger and gets mired in too many social conservative-type issues.


In fairness to him he's trying to undo the 50 plus years of idiocy that the Democrat left has imposed on us. Especially black families.

purpleslog said...

John Mackey had a great article in 2006 in the old Liberty Magazine that I still think about.

The old link doesn't work but the article is in the PDF:

http://libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_June_2006.pdf

Here were my notes:

https://purpleslog.wordpress.com/2006/05/31/notes-from-liberty-magazine-john-mackey-and-the-freedom-movement/

edutcher said...

Donahue is, was, and always will be an idiot. another of the lipless Chicago Irishmen inflicted on the country at mid-century.

WV "oneeve" Where Adam spent most of his time.

CWJ said...

Wonderful clip,

But I have to disagree with Scott M. No TV audience today would sit and listen (or sleep) through an extended reply like that without clapping, cheering, or booing at the perceived clap, boo, cheer lines. We no longer have that sort of respectful self-discipline, and absent this clip I would have forgotten that it had ever existed.

Marshal said...

"hawkeyedjb said...
If I want to take what others have earned and put it to my desired use, I am Not Greedy."

I wonder about this also. If you're talking to a liberal there are two people fighting over your wallet, them to get it and you to keep it. What logical gymnastics do they go through to conclude your defense is greed but their actions are not?

Ken said...

MisterBuddwing,

Not that I'm picking a fight or anything, but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?

This is a nothing argument. Liberals constantly yammer on about how open minded they are. The point of dreams' comment was that they are not.

All you've done is change the subject saying "Oh yeah?! I may not be open minded, but neither are you!", which of course wasn't at discussion. This is SQUIRREL!!

Bob Ellison said...

Pogo, you read too much into Donahue's question. I suspect you're correct, but shouldn't we take the Q&A at face value? Friedman controlled the discussion, and Donahue let him do it. I think Phil should get a few points for that.

EMD said...

I give Donahue credit for having Friedman on, and actually giving him a forum.

That would not happen today.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Donahue gives a great example here, of one of the Progressive's most despicable 'debate' tricks.

He seems to think that all he has to do is list, with appropriate emotion, some bad things about that which he is opposed - in this case, free-market Capitalism.

Once he makes the list, he then simply declares the debate over, and his conclusion - that anything OTHER than (and perhaps even the opposite of) Capitalism is therefore the way to go.

What sophistry!

It's like declaring a trial over, rendering a verdict, immediately following the presentation of the prosecutions case.

Ridiculous and specious.

ALL choices are a trading of one set of problems, for another.

Friedman points out eloquently that the problems of Capitalism are far far less than the problems of all the others.

Of course, given Phil and his audience, here he is casting pearls before swine.

Good thing we have the film.

Bob said...

That clip circulates around the conservative blogs regularly. A classic.

Revenant said...

I never get tired of watching this clip. Friedman was truly a genius at explaining why free markets work.

Peter said...

Michael K said, "The greatest difference between left and right now is the inability of the left to admit that self interest drives all human behavior. They still believe in "The New Soviet Man."

Or perhaps the tragedy is that the many of those on the left would not know what you're talking about when you talk about "The New Soviet Man," or why that didn't work out so well.

Thomas Sowell is often gloomy because he understands that the arc of utopianism invariably bends toward repression when people fail to behave as the utopians wish, and ends in violence-as-shock when mere repression results not in compliance but in craftier evasions of authority.

Utopians either conveniently forget the dismal past of utopianisms, or they just insist that next time will be different.

Of course, capitalism sux. But the alternatives suck so much worse.

Revenant said...

I asked questions like that when I was 14. Donahue 's a fool.

A fool perhaps, but he let his guests answer the questions he put to them. Modern hosts like Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly would have shouted him down midway through his second sentence.

MisterBuddwing said...

All you've done is change the subject saying "Oh yeah?! I may not be open minded, but neither are you!", which of course wasn't at discussion. This is SQUIRREL!!

The poster claimed that liberals, by definition, are closed-minded and incapable of changing their minds. I offered the poster a chance to show conservative open-mindedness in action.

Of course, the poster could claim that conservatives are, by definition, never wrong about anything, so there's no need to keep an "open mind."

I thought mine was a perfectly reasonable question and not some pathetic attempt at subject-changing.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

As long as capitalism produces winner and losers, some of the losers will turn to socialism.

Socialism was a winning strategy for Phil Donahue in the 1970s and 1980s, as it may be for Elizabeth Warren today.

Bob Ellison said...

The "new Soviet man" concept is central to leftist thought. Leftists believe that people can be changed by government; rightists believe that human nature will tend to overwhelm governments.

Pogo said...

"but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?"

Yes.

I was once a liberal, a lefty.

And I was completely and totally wrong.

kcom said...

"The "new Soviet man" concept is central to leftist thought. Leftists believe that people can be changed by government;"

Hi, my name's Mike Bloomberg. And I'm here to help.

Pogo said...

"...Pogo, you read too much into Donahue's question. I suspect you're correct, but shouldn't we take the Q&A at face value?"

I no longer take anything at face value. Friedman smashed him, albeit very politely, and Donahue had no effective rejoinder.

I watched Donahue a lot when he was around, and he had an agenda. Friedman derailed his plans. Donahue had no idea that Friedman could answer the question, because Friedman answered the "wrong" question.

Donahue had no plans for Friedman's answer. I don't think he was being polite or allowing an extended answer. He wasn't shy about interrupting people.

Donahue was flummoxed, stupefied, speechless. You could see the wheels spinning, trying in vain to get back on track, blaming bad people for the Way the World Is.

Jay said...

MisterBuddwing said...
but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?


Sure.

Back when Head Start was conceived, I thought the program was a good idea and example of something that could be done well in the public education area.

Now that it has been shown to be an utter failure, I think it should be defunded.

Your turn.

Colonel Angus said...

Donahue's expression reminded me of a child whose just been told there is no Santa Claus.

Ken said...

MisterBuddwing,

I thought mine was a perfectly reasonable question and not some pathetic attempt at subject-changing.

I think very few people knowingly do something pathetic. This is why I pointed it out to you. People routinely use logical fallacies in their arguments and are surprised when someone points it out. And these same people routinely respond the way you have: denying that they've committed a logical fallacy.

The claim that can be seen any where is that liberals claim to be open minded ("liberals are open minded" results in over 10 million hits). dreams simply pointed out that this is true. Thinking you were defending liberals you asked are conservatives open minded. This isn't a defense. Imagine a murder saying "Other people have murdered people" as a defense in court. You'd laugh at him a rightly so.

BarryD said...

"Friedman might as well have been talking to a wall."

That's a bit generous to Phil Donahue, I think. And Donahue talking about others' "greed"? That's rich.

MisterBuddwing said...

Your turn.

You apparently assume that I'm a close-minded liberal. (Project much?)

But to answer your question.

As a political centrist (one of those detested moderates), I was pretty good at embracing the idea of more and more gun control laws whenever somebody somewhere commits an atrocity (e.g., Aurora, Colorado).

Now I'm convinced they don't do much good at all.

John said...

re Thomas Sowell:

I don't know if those who mentioned him are talking of his books or of his columns and articles.

I don't usually read his columns. Some are pretty good but too many are just fair.

Where he really shines is in his books.

If you have not read his books, you are missing out on a lot. I suggest starting with "Ethnic America" in which he looks at each major ethnic group who came to America, why they came, how, what they did and experienced once here and where they are as of 1979 when the book was published.

Each group has a separate chapter and he looks at each group the same way. It is perhaps the best book ever on the subject.

Not as deep on any particular group as some more specific books. I liked it because it compared each group the same ways.

All of his other books on a wide variety of subjects are excellent as well.

I first heard of Sowell on Friedman's Free to Choose series. He was on a panel discussing the episode theme with Friedman. Also on the panel was Francis Fox-Pivens. First I'd heard of her, either. What a blowhard she was. Comic relief was her main purpose there, I think.

John Henry

Bob Ellison said...

Ken, your discussion with MisterBuddwing reminds me of a conversation I recently had with my son. He brought up one of Zeno's paradoxes, which essentially proves logically that motion is impossible. I said that the problem was probably not in the logic, but in the locution, that the language and way the concept was portrayed laid bare the logical paradox.

It must be an old discussion among linguists.

Ken said...

MisterBuddwing,

one of those detested moderates

For good reason. Imagine if person A said a bridge should be built over river R, but person B said that no bridge should be built. The equivalent of the "detested moderate" comes along and says "Let's compromise and build half the bridge".

You can see right away what away what a waste or resources such an idea is and just how stupid it is. This is what political "centrists" for constantly, when the call for compromise. Hideously grotesque and wasteful policies have been erected in the middle because it's difficult to see that what's being built is half a bridge.

Roman said...

Rose and Milton Friedman are Heros of mine. National treasures each!

MisterBuddwing said...

For good reason. Imagine if person A said a bridge should be built over river R, but person B said that no bridge should be built. The equivalent of the "detested moderate" comes along and says "Let's compromise and build half the bridge".

Yes, I remember reading that feeble argument online. (Care to cite the source? I'm too lazy to look it up.)

And I remember thinking: No, the moderate would not advocate building half a bridge. The moderate would listen to the crazed environmentalist saying there must be no bridge at all, and Gov. Jerry Brown who says we absolutely must build a ten-lane state of the art bridge for 100 kazillion dollars, and say: How about a four-lane bridge that doesn't cost nearly as much?

Joe Schmoe said...

A fool perhaps, but he let his guests answer the questions he put to them. Modern hosts like Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly would have shouted him down midway through his second sentence.

If you gave me one word to describe Donahue, I'd dither between douche and asshat. I confess to not having seen him on TV in years, maybe a decade or two.

But Rev is right. I was thinking 'How many times would Piers Morgan have butted in by now?' as I watched. At least Donahue was an entertainment show, if I recall. I don't recall him ever masquerading as some sort of journalistic entity. Now we get entertainment shows dressed up as sober reportage when all the interviewer is trying to do is inject him or herself into the mix.

Rocketeer said...

Man, I wish Donahue would have had Milton and Kinky Friedman on the same show. That would have made for great TV.

Bob Ellison said...

Sometimes no bridge is better than one, and sometimes a bridge is better than none. The "moderate" concept that the truth lies halfway between the two arguments is half-assed.

dreams said...

"Not that I'm picking a fight or anything, but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede"

When I was young, like a lot of young people I considered myself a liberal.

I can remember watching debates on PBS TV and being convinced of an argument until I heard the opposing debater make his case and I guess that is when I really realized that there are two sides to every story or point of view.

I became more conservative after Reagan was elected and I saw the positive results of his Presidency. Also in 1981 I started investing in the stock market and became more aware of the benefits of the free market.

Ken said...

Bob Ellison,

Ooohh, Zeno's Paradox. That took me years to resolve. Unfortunately, it is not in the locution. It is in the assumption that Achilles has to run through more points than the turtle, no matter what, so Achilles can never catch him.

The problem lies in the non-rigorous treatment of what is meant by "infinity" and the fact that there are different sized infinities. There are more real numbers than there are rational numbers, but there are just as many integers as there are rational numbers. It gets difficult to understand.

The reality is that on the real line, there are the same number of points in any interval. For example, the number of points in the open interval (0,1) is the SAME as that in (0,1000000000). Cantor formalized many of these ideas, along with Weierstrass and many other mathematicians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

If you're interested in the math look up the cardinality of the continuum. Cardinality refers to the size of a set.

Jay said...

MisterBuddwing said...

You apparently assume that I'm a close-minded liberal. (Project much?)


You have reading comprehension problems.

Note: The idea that you're a "moderate" is silly and obscene.

MisterBuddwing said...

Sometimes no bridge is better than one, and sometimes a bridge is better than none. The "moderate" concept that the truth lies halfway between the two arguments is half-assed.

This assumes the moderate is someone who always cowardly retreats to the middle, unwilling to fully commit himself/herself to one of the - forgive the term - extremes.

If someone is a truly independent thinker, not one caught up in political dogma just for the sake of political dogma, that person may be more "moderate" than he or she realizes.

MisterBuddwing said...

The idea that you're a "moderate" is silly and obscene.

One envisions Larry Flynt with a red fright wig and matching nose...

Dante said...

I thought mine was a perfectly reasonable question and not some pathetic attempt at subject-changing.

As others pointed out "What does compromise mean?" I think it means European style socialism, and the massive decline it is facing now and for the foreseeable future.

What I like about Friedman (never heard him before), is that he uses the experiments from history to bolster his case. It doesn't seem to matter how bad the social experiments of leftists have worked out, they are here to stay, even be increased, apparently, until the money runs out.

Of all the programs, which ones worked out well? The GI Bill is one. But it seems the country is going down a completely different path these days. Instead of enriching its citizens, it is importing poverty, and massively subsidizing it. I simply can't see how it makes sense for the long term future of the US.

I wish someone could explain it to me (take a look at what is happening in CA, for instance, with its 11% unemployment rate, massive per citizen expenditures, etc).

Bob Ellison said...

Well, Ken, this is way above my pay grade and education level, and I really don't think I understood your last link, but let me try...help edumacate me here...

My son pointed out that quantum theory would tend to defeat Zeno's paradox, because there seems to be quantum distance. You can't keep dividing.

I said that was irrelevant, because Zeno knew it was wrong when he posed the paradox.

So...what's the case? It still seems like a language problem to me. Just because I can say "I am lying" doesn't make that a logistically plausible statement.

n.n said...

Competing interests keep the honest people honest and others from running amuck.

garage mahal said...

I wonder how Romney's plan that raises taxes on 95% of the population squares with Friedmanomics? At this point, aren't you just voting for his hair?

ricpic said...

edutcher said...

Donahue...another of the lipless Chicago Irishmen inflicted on the country at mid-century.

Funny line. But wait, I thought, what about Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that national treasure? But then I realized he hailed from New York. So the line stands!

Tim said...

"...and Friedman responds with startling cogency and articulateness:"

Obviously, not articulate enough.

One cannot possibly reconcile an appreciation for the truth of Friedman's explanation with a vote for Obama.

The contradiction is so stark as to suggest those believe Friedman AND voted for Obama are simply insane.

Jay said...

MisterBuddwing said...

One envisions Larry Flynt with a red fright wig and matching nose...


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

You're like so super duper funny!!!

I mean, that was such a great reply I don't think I can stop laughing!

Really!!!

Jay said...

garage mahal said...
I wonder how Romney's plan that raises taxes on 95% of the population squares with Friedmanomics?


I wonder how your silly stupidity squares with having an actual, functioning brain?

Luke Lea said...

Milton Friedman has emphasized elsewhere the importance of free enterprisers playing by the rules. And he has quoted Adam Smith to the effect that without government free markets wouldn't last five minutes.

MisterBuddwing said...

Or that other cliché, "That was so funny I forgot to laugh!"

But I'm glad I made your day. (You certainly made mine.)

Revenant said...

How about a four-lane bridge that doesn't cost nearly as much?

I wonder if you noticed that your "compromise" consists of one side getting nothing and the other side getting less than they wanted?

Ken said...

garage,

I wonder how Romney's plan that raises taxes on 95% of the population squares with Friedmanomics?

Since Friedman believed in a broad tax base, instead of taxing only half of the population, lowering the tax rates and broadening the base fits right in there with Friedmanomics. But I'm not really surprised you don't know this. Have you ever read or studied Friedman or just read summaries on your favorite lefty websites?

MisterBuddwing said...

I wonder if you noticed that your "compromise" consists of one side getting nothing and the other side getting less than they wanted?

Good point. I suppose in a true compromise, nobody is happy, but that's a little too close to the "half a bridge" concept for me.

Revenant said...

Milton Friedman has emphasized elsewhere the importance of free enterprisers playing by the rules. And he has quoted Adam Smith to the effect that without government free markets wouldn't last five minutes.

Um, who exactly are the people you think DON'T support the existence of government? And who are the people who think "free enterprisers" should lie, cheat and steal?

Quaestor said...

Sorun wrote:
I don't think Donahue learned anything that day.

People like Phil Donahue are unteachable. Thy are the very soul and essence of bigotry.

Bob Ellison said...

Ken, I've re-read what you said, and now I think I understand it. For about the next five minutes. Thanks. It makes sense.

dbp said...

Ironclad logic and yet Phil Donahue will still go to his grave a sitzpinkling liberal.

Marshal said...

"Ken said...
MisterBuddwing,

one of those detested moderates

For good reason."

This is a lousy attitude. Moderates may be wrong, more often they are lying to themselves "or us" that they are in fact moderates. But to detest the position rather then the use of it as a subterfuge is to push ones allies to your opponents.

There's almost no set of positions that someone doesn't consider moderate or squishy. Embrace moderates.

Ken said...

Bob Ellison,

Zeno's paradox is as follows: Achilles can never catch a turtle that is given a head start by the following logic:

1. Achilles starts at point 0, and the turtle starts at point d_0
2. The race starts, when Achilles reaches d_0, the turtle is at d_1, which is in front of d_0. This continues ad infinitum, meaning that whenever Achilles gets to d_k, the turtle is at t_{k+1}.
3. This means Achilles has to run through infinitely more points than the turtle to catch the turtle, Achilles can never catch the turtle.

The problem is resolved by understanding that the first point in the last statement (that Achilles has to run through infinitely more points than the turtle) is wrong, the conclusion is wrong. If I move 1 foot and you move three feet, both of us have moved through the exact same number of points.

As I said, weird things happen when talking about infinity.

I haven't studied quantum mechanics, but if I understand what you're saying, then the number of points that the turtle and Achilles has to run through are finite, since you cannot divide space into arbitrarily small units. This also resolves Zeno's paradox because the idea that Achilles can move through more points in a given time than the turtle is not controversial.

garage mahal said...

Since Friedman believed in a broad tax base, instead of taxing only half of the population, lowering the tax rates and broadening the base fits right in there with Friedmanomics

So the Bush tax cuts were anti-Friedman eh? I've never heard them described that way. But good luck with that "95% will pay more taxes" pitch.

Revenant said...

Good point. I suppose in a true compromise, nobody is happy

My point was that your compromise is actually worse than simply giving the bridge-builders the bridge they asked for. In the latter case the bridge-builders would be happier and the environmentalists would be no worse off.

This is the problem with the naive belief that compromise is always possible. There are many disputes for which compromise is logically impossible; the bridge-building scenario is one such.

Peter said...

Bob Ellison said, "He brought up one of Zeno's paradoxes, which essentially proves logically that motion is impossible."

It's off topic, but I don't understand why anyone still thinks Zeno's paradox is actually a paradox.

Calculus shows that a sum containing an infinite number of infinitesmal terms may have a finite, defined value.

Zeno didn't have the tools to analyze his "paradox." But if he'd had them, he'd surely have seen that there's no paradox there.

(Then again, Donohue probably wouldn't be able to analyze it either even though he was born centuries after the invention of calculus.)

Gahrie said...

I wonder how Romney's plan that raises taxes on 95% of the population squares with Friedmanomics? At this point, aren't you just voting for his hair?

As a previous poster mentioned, Friedman would definitely endorse "raising" taxes on the 50% of the population that doesn't pay taxes, and reducing transfer payments to the 40% who get a "refund" instead.

Tim said...

"At this point, aren't you just voting for his hair?

At this point, voting for Romney's used toilet paper would get us a better president than the loser you voted for last time.

Tim said...

Gahrie said...
...

"As a previous poster mentioned, Friedman would definitely endorse "raising" taxes on the 50% of the population that doesn't pay taxes, and reducing transfer payments to the 40% who get a "refund" instead."

Yes.

And ending the Democrat vote-buying transfer payment scheme cannibalizing America's future is the single biggest threat to Democrat hegemony.

Ken said...

garage,

Much of what Bush did was anti-Friedman. That you've never heard anyone say that isn't surprising and doesn't really carry much weight in any argument.

Bob Ellison said...

Ken, thanks for the explanation. I may retain this for even longer than five minutes! Don't count on it.

The quantum explanation, as you suggest, is simple: the number of points is simply finite. Zeno didn't know that.

I must say, though, that I still think there's a language problem. I'm expert at English, lousy in a few other languages, and completely inert in most. But these languages differ a lot. Some have articles; some capitalize nouns; some have strict word order. The ways in which we express ourselves probably govern the ways in which we think.

Ah, well, as I said before, big minds have undoubtedly already written books about such things.

But I think the political impact of factors like this is misunderestimated, especially and embarassingly by the professional people who write for a living.

Ken said...

garage,

But good luck with that "95% will pay more taxes" pitch.

Yep. People don't like to pay their fair share. Instead they prefer to mooch off those that are richer make richer pay people far more than their fair share.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Ellison said...

Peter, calculus does not by itself disprove Zeno's paradox. But I did bring it up in my recent discussion with my son with regard to the "infinite number of monkeys with typewriters" problem.

The world would be a better place if more people had at least a feel, a concept, a touch of the concept of limits.

Revenant said...

So the Bush tax cuts were anti-Friedman eh?

The tax cuts were deficit-funded, so Friedman would consider them "tax deferrals", not tax cuts.

Who ultimately winds up paying the taxes on that money remains to be seen. :)

But good luck with that "95% will pay more taxes" pitch.

It doesn't matter what people want. Either most people will see their taxes go up, or government spending will be slashed.

Those are the two possible outcomes.

Quaestor said...

Bob Ellison wrote:
I said that was irrelevant, because Zeno knew it was wrong when he posed the paradox.

Zeno had a whole budget of paradoxes like the tortoise vs. Achilles race, but I don't believe he was trying to prove that motion or change is impossible, for clearly they are not (even if one posits change as an illusion, one much also admit that the mind that concocts the illusion must change).

What Zeno was offering was a critique of Aristotelian logic, which some callow minds will take for a road to truth. Thus via his paradoxes Zeno shows us that though it may be correct that a true proposition is logical, there are many more untrue proposition which are also logical.

Patrick said...

As I said, weird things happen when talking about infinity.

My 10 year old thinks it is hilarious that there are the same number of points between zero and one as between zero an infinity.

Jay said...

garage mahal said...
But good luck with that "95% will pay more taxes" pitch.


Good luck with the "Walker will be indicted any day now" meme.

Good luck pretending that borrowing $4 billion per day can continue indefinitely.

Good luck pretending that public sector pensions which are over-generious and out of line with the private sector are popular.

Good luck voting for the President who has presided over the weakest recovery of any nation in the world since 1970.

Ken said...

Bob Ellison,

I must say, though, that I still think there's a language problem.

I think you're probably right. Math is a different language. And there really isn't an easy solution. As with most things, it requires careful study and long thought.

tim in vermont said...

"I wonder how Romney's plan that raises taxes on 95% of the population squares with Friedmanomics? At this point, aren't you just voting for his hair?" - gm

So we should vote solely on whether or not we pay more money in or get more money back from the government? Really?

How sustainable is that model Garage?

Will it work for the next 100 years? 10 yrs? 5 yrs?

When exactly do we reach the point where working is not worth the bother because we get paid just as much to not work?

You guys are financial sustainability deniers.

Paco Wové said...

"The moderate would ... say: How about a four-lane bridge that doesn't cost nearly as much?"

Or, "how about a bridge re-routed to take environmental concerns into consideration?"

Or maybe, "In this case, side X is full of it, and side Y's ideas are reasonable, so we should go with side Y."

garage mahal said...

You guys are financial sustainability deniers.

The GOP has been arguing for the necessity of these tax structure for over a decade. They enacted them!

Skipper said...

Brilliant. May he rest in peace and may we learn and benefit from his cogent thinking.

Robert Cook said...

Friedman avoided answering Donahue's question and most of you are assuming Donahue was arguing by implication for an abandonment of capitalism.

Of course, greed is the driving force in most, if not all, human endeavor. It is the elaboration of our animal instincts to acquire and store food against times of want, and to build or find shelter against the elements and predators. But societies do not function who allow their citizens license to act on their natural impulses unimpeded. Rational societies enact laws to check individuals--and organizations of individuals--from behavior that will harm society at large and the individuals that comprise it, while encouraging productive behavior that will benefit both the individual and society.

So, the question is not (necessarily) whether, because greed allowed free run leads to bad results for many people, we should abandon capitalism in favor of other economic systems, but, instead, what can we do to achieve a capitalism that is productive yet hindered from causing or allowing harm to the many for the benefit of the few?

Of course, there are those who argue against capitalism in favor of other economic arrangements, but not all who question or critique the deleterious effects of capitalism necessarily call for or argue the only solution is for the abolition of capitalism. Friedman, at least in this edited clip, does not offer an impregnable defense of capitalism so much as he merely avoids addressing its downside.

MadisonMan said...

My 10 year old thinks it is hilarious that there are the same number of points between zero and one as between zero an infinity.

If you can't count the points, can you show the equivalence?

Or, are all infinities equal?

deborah said...

Ken said...

For good reason. Imagine if person A said a bridge should be built over river R, but person B said that no bridge should be built. The equivalent of the "detested moderate" comes along and says "Let's compromise and build half the bridge".

You can see right away what away what a waste or resources such an idea is and just how stupid it is. This is what political "centrists" for constantly, when the call for compromise. Hideously grotesque and wasteful policies have been erected in the middle because it's difficult to see that what's being built is half a bridge.
----

How appropriate your avatar is. Some rightists are more equal than others. Blowhard.

bagoh20 said...

" Rational societies enact laws..."

That part is undeniable.
But the rest:

" to check individuals--and organizations of individuals--from behavior that will harm society at large and the individuals that comprise it, while encouraging productive behavior that will benefit both the individual and society. "

It's the assumption of the second part which is laid waste by the historical reality. That is the issue.

As Friedman asked: "Where are these angels?"

Are they in congress?

People generally fail at using other peoples' money to do good to any degree even close to those who use their own. That's another point Friedman made. The best system ever devised. Hell, he covered everything without a wasted word.

Ken said...

MadisonMan,

If you can't count the points, can you show the equivalence?

Sets are said to be of the same cardinality if there is a bijection (one to one and onto) between them. In other words, X and Y have the same cardinality if there is a f : X -> Y, such that for all y in Y, there is a x in X, such that f(x) = y and if f(a) = f(b), then a = b.

For finite sets this is easy to show. If two sets have four elements, label one set (a_1, a_2, a_3, a_4) and the other (b_1, b_2, b_3, b_4), then define the function f(a_x) = b_x, where x = 1,2,3,4.

For infinite sets, you do the same thing.

That there are the same number of points in (0,1) and (0,infinity) can be seen using the function f(x) = 1/x. It is one to one and onto.

Or, are all infinities equal?

No. There are more real numbers than rationals (though there are the same number of integers as there are rationals). See countable and uncountable sets.

bgates said...

I'm surprised Friedman let Donahue get away with the implicit assumption in the question:
"As you look around the world at millions of people groaning in poverty [, all of whom live in societies that are models of free market capitalism, and not at all beset by cronyism or statism or anything like that], does it make you doubt that free market capitalism is a good idea?"

Rusty said...

garage mahal said...
Since Friedman believed in a broad tax base, instead of taxing only half of the population, lowering the tax rates and broadening the base fits right in there with Friedmanomics

So the Bush tax cuts were anti-Friedman eh? I've never heard them described that way. But good luck with that "95% will pay more taxes" pitch.


You know that little voice in your head that says,"Oh. You better comment on that."?
You'd be well served to ignore it most of the time.

Rusty said...

bgates said...
I'm surprised Friedman let Donahue get away with the implicit assumption in the question:
"As you look around the world at millions of people groaning in poverty


[, all of whom live in societies that are models of free market capitalism, and not at all beset by cronyism or statism or anything like that],



If the above is your point, you're not making it.



does it make you doubt that free market capitalism is a good idea?"

Patrick said...

Madison Man,

I have no background in math, but I know that a non-zero number can be divided into an infinite number of points. Once you reach infinity, you just keep going. On that basis, I would say that "all infinities are equal."

I'm open to correction, though.

Ken said...

Robert Cook,

Friedman did answer Donahue and your questions. You simply fail to or choose not to understand. You're simply assuming that the people put in charge are not acting out of greed. Simply put, capitalism and free markets pits the greed of consumers against the greed of other consumers and the greed of producers against the greed of other producers. There is a natural dampening of greed because markets are dynamic and everyone responds to everyone else's actions.

You, and Donahue, simply assume that regulators can and will act in the interest of the greater good. But you don't explain what "the greater good" is, nor do you answer how politicians and bureaucrats are not greedy. Friedman simply showed you this simple and thoughtless way you, and Donahue, think about society and you can't handle it.

The reality is that ALL social systems are based on greed. The question should be, which system best utilizes greed in good ways. The answer is unequivocally free market capitalism.

Patrick said...

Or you can read what Ken wrote, and whatever the hell all of that means, I'd probably agree.

Patrick said...

Rational societies enact laws to check individuals--and organizations of individuals--from behavior that will harm society at large and the individuals that comprise it, while encouraging productive behavior that will benefit both the individual and society.

Robert Cook, I think the mistake you make is assuming that societies can act "rationally." First, you're not likely to get widespread agreement on what "rationally" means, and even if that was possible, you aren't likely to see that enacted in law. It's nice to believe that we can use government to regulate evil out of the world, but the law of unintended consequences will prevail every time. Even if that were not the case, every time you increase government power by regulation, you give more incentive to companies to obtain favorable treatment under those regulations.

Remember, Friedman holds that policies favoring corporations aren't any better than those favoring trade unions, or other political interests. Remove government's ability to treat particular groups favorably, and you remove those groups ability and incentive to game the system. Some of course, would try to accomplish the same thing by restricting free speech.

Marshal said...

"So, the question is not (necessarily) whether, because greed allowed free run leads to bad results for many people, we should abandon capitalism in favor of other economic systems, but, instead, what can we do to achieve a capitalism that is productive yet hindered from causing or allowing harm to the many for the benefit of the few?"
___________________________


Note the casual inclusion of "allowing" harm. It's an admission even Cookie knows the class warfare he supports uses wounds not caused by capitalism as its casus belli. It's also a weasel word which justifies anything.

Societal success is a long process. Consider freedom. Obviously not everyone reached the same level of freedom at the same time. This doesn't mean the individual steps toward freedom were meaningless. Each step makes the next morre possible and likely. The important point is that virtually everyone is better off now than they were even 75 years ago. Should we stop increasing freedom everywhere in order to increase freedom equality? Of should we see the success of our efforts and try to push more freedom everywhere?

Cookie's biggest problem is the ability to reach a conclusion. "It's working, we must stop" is not the right answer.

Seeing Red said...

Via Insty:

$30 Million In Unreported GSA Bonuses Uncovered By WUSA9 Investigation, Rep John Mica Plans Congressional Investigation

Seeing Red said...

Did anyone read about the defeat of the $7.2 billion Georgia transportation bill?

There was compromise there, I think among the 10 counties? it covered.

deborah said...

Revenant said...
Good point. I suppose in a true compromise, nobody is happy

My point was that your compromise is actually worse than simply giving the bridge-builders the bridge they asked for. In the latter case the bridge-builders would be happier and the environmentalists would be no worse off.

This is the problem with the naive belief that compromise is always possible. There are many disputes for which compromise is logically impossible; the bridge-building scenario is one such.
----

Except that the evironmentalists at least benefit from the lesser ecological impact of four lanes as oppposed to ten.

A heartfelt request: acquire an avatar of Charlie Brown in his ghost costume so you're easier to spot :)

David said...

At least Donahue let him speak.

These day he would be talked over and insulted by some third tier attack spokesperson who was there for "balance."

chickelit said...

deborah suggested: A heartfelt request: acquire an avatar of Charlie Brown in his ghost costume so you're easier to spot :)

Wouldn't that be a holier-than-thou derivative of Coketown's avi? :)

Bryan C said...

"Not that I'm picking a fight or anything, but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?"

Speaking for myself, I've changed my mind about the war on drugs and and same-sex marriage.

I grew up a Reagan-era drug prohibitionist, but the inevitable abuses enabled by that policy have caused great harm. And for very little benefit. I now generally favor decriminalization or legalization.

I'd previously maintained that civil unions were the correct way to provide same-sex couples with equal legal and social standing. I've since become convinced that allowing same-sex marriage would be a better solution for everyone.

Those are my examples. How about yours?

David said...

Luke Lea said...
Milton Friedman has emphasized elsewhere the importance of free enterprisers playing by the rules. And he has quoted Adam Smith to the effect that without government free markets wouldn't last five minutes.


Duh. You seem to think that's a triumphant point, Luke, somehow justifying the megalith state of today. Friedman's point was that the purpose of government is to protect the liberty of the individual.

Not an original idea with MF--

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it"

deborah said...

chickelit said...
deborah suggested:

Wouldn't that be a holier-than-thou derivative of Coketown's avi? :)
----

Rev is above such considerations.

bagoh20 said...

"Are all infinities equal?"

I think another question this asks is, is the universe infinitely divisible as well as infinitely expandable?

I assume this has been addressed in length by someone, but I don't know the theory.

chickelit said...

Rev is above such considerations.

I expected at least a chuckle. Sigh. Try harder next time.

chickelit said...

Oh, I see that coketown disrobed, or dehooded.

whatevs.

bagoh20 said...

"...what can we do to achieve a capitalism that is productive yet hindered from causing or allowing harm to the many for the benefit of the few?"

Stop making it so hard for the many to participate. When it takes two months of bureaucratic silliness, if you really work at it, to legally open a lemonade stand, then imagine how hard it is to start and maintain a business that hires people, grows and actually creates things. It is primarily government that makes "fat cat" capitalists fat. Government protects them from the competition of the many, and thus concentrates the wealth by creating a high barrier to entry into their game where they would be forced to compete and have to drop a little weight. Every law that government passes to restrict free enterprise ends up only restricting to the already powerful and away from the many.

The blueprint I would suggest to improve capitalism has been around for a while: The U.S. Constitution in it's original intent without trying to change it to fix every little inequality of life. We all not all going to live rich and die old. Get over it.

deborah said...

chickelit said...
Oh, I see that coketown disrobed, or dehooded.
----

Yeah, what was up with that, anyway? Coketown...?

And, chick, I find your wordistry afriggingmazing and quite amusing (but now don't go in overdrive trying to impress me, 'cause then you'll be trying too hard and mess up, ya know ;)

Robert Cook said...

"As Friedman asked: 'Where are these angels?'

Are they in congress?"


There are no angels among men. There are only competing power blocs. In a representative republic, the citizenry is one power bloc, (made up of many smaller power blocs). We, the people, presumably are the watchdogs of those we choose to represent our interest. Laws are passed by our representatives to serve our needs and protect our interests, ideally. These laws act to check predation by bad actors, and we, the people, are responsible to see that our representatives and the laws they pass in our name serve us. When they do not, it is up to us to remove them them the positions of responsibility to which we have appointed them.

Where the people are complacent, apathetic, ignorant, inattentive, or bamboozled, tyranny will take root and grow.

Ken said...

Robert Cook,

Laws are passed by our representatives to serve our needs and protect our interests, ideally. These laws act to check predation by bad actors, and we, the people, are responsible to see that our representatives and the laws they pass in our name serve us.

This is mostly assumption for almost all national laws that are passed these days.

When they do not, it is up to us to remove them them the positions of responsibility to which we have appointed them.

Of course, there are those who don't take such responsibility seriously. After all, how serious does anyone who thinks ceding responsibility for ones financial life believes anything financial is their responsibility. Additionally, the predators in government simply ignore what voters want (Obamacare) and write laws to prevent election competition. The democrats and republicans have written byzantine regulations surrounding entering an election so that only establishment democrats and republicans can legally enter elections.

But, mostly, only a small percent really cares about politics. Most just want to be left alone and get on with their lives. It's outrageous that you would elect predatory representatives to prey on people who just want to be left alone, then call them ignorant or apathetic. You and your kind have decided to create Leviathan, then act as if it's everyone else's fault for letting it happen.

Matt said...

Friedman whose plans never actually worked. He was a purist with utopia in mind. His school of thought is one Obama followed while at the Chicago School. Many Republicans love Friedman but they don't think his ideas through.

furious_a said...

Not that I'm picking a fight or anything, but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?

Oh, for starters...

<1>Gambling is an excellent way to fund public education.
<2>The economy is like a pizza -- if you win all I get is the delivery box.
<3>Mr. Obama's our president, he won fair-and-square, let's give his ideas time to play out.

bagoh20 said...

"Many Republicans love Friedman but they don't think his ideas through."

I'm not a Republican, but I would love to learn anyway. Why don't you walk us through that thinking they haven't done, and maybe we can get somewhere.

Ken said...

Matt,

[Friedman's] school of thought is one Obama followed while at the Chicago School.

Would you like to explain this one? Obama went to school at Columbia, then Harvard. After this, he was a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. At what point would he have picked up on the Chicago school of economics?

bgates said...

If the above is your point, you're not making it.

My point is that I'm surprised Friedman let Donahue get away with the implicit assumption that the world's poor live in societies that are models of free market capitalism, and not at all beset by cronyism or statism or anything like that, such that their poverty could be held against free market capitalism.

If you could please either read or write less stupidly, Rusty.

chickelit said...

Matt joked upthread about Friedman: His school of thought is one Obama followed while at the Chicago School.

Obama followed the Alinsky School of economics while in Chicago.

Seeing Red said...

Friedman said the Euro would fail, then it lasted longer than he thought so he changed his mind.

I guess he should have stuck with his 1st instinct.

Sofa King said...

These laws act to check predation by bad actors, and we, the people, are responsible to see that our representatives and the laws they pass in our name serve us.

You're already begging the question by creating an artificial division between "us" and "bad actors." What if we are the bad actors? How would we know? Who would check our predation?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Patrick,

I have no background in math, but I know that a non-zero number can be divided into an infinite number of points. Once you reach infinity, you just keep going. On that basis, I would say that "all infinities are equal."

No. See Cantor's "diagonal" proof. How do you show that two sets have the same number of members? You pair up one member of one set with one member of the other one, and see if there are any left over on either side. Works with infinite sets as well as finite ones. Try that with integers and multiples of three, or integers and rational numbers, and you'll find you can do a one-to-one correspondence easily.

Cantor's proof involving integers vs. real numbers goes like this. Any real number between 0 and 1 can be represented as an infinitely long decimal. Some decimals terminate (i.e., after a certain number of digits every following digit is 0); some repeat; some don't do either.

So suppose you've come up with a way of listing all the possible decimals in correspondence with the positive integers, so that 1 corresponds to one number, 2 to a different one, and so forth. Cantor says: OK, so construct a decimal where the first digit is one less than the first digit of No. 1, the second digit one less than the second digit of No. 2, and so forth (using 9 for "one less than zero").

Is this number on the list? Suppose you say "sure it is; it's N on the list." Cantor says "But, no it isn't; the Nth digit is different."

One of the cooler and more elegant proofs in mathematical history.

Joe Schmoe said...

'financial sustainability deniers'

Now that's a good line, Tim in VT. Kind of sad/funny as well because it's true.

If Europe continues to tank, and China continues to cool, and the world economic funkification continues, then the next meme that will catch fire with the left is debt forgiveness. They are going to demand that rich countries just eat the IOUs of their debtors. So they're not worried about financial sustainability. Be prepared to hear about all of the historical precedents when it comes to debt forgiveness, but you'll be hard-pressed to find one as a result of 'peaceful' compromise. Usually nations victorious in war forgive the debts of the conquered, such as the US did for Germany and Japan as a result of WWII. (There wasn't much alternative; the countries had been reduced to rubble and weren't going to make payments anytime soon.)

Sofa King said...

My point is that I'm surprised Friedman let Donahue get away with the implicit assumption that the world's poor live in societies that are models of free market capitalism, and not at all beset by cronyism or statism or anything like that, such that their poverty could be held against free market capitalism.


He may have thought you were being sarcastic, because you appear to have missed this from the video:

"In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system."

Revenant said...

Except that the evironmentalists at least benefit from the lesser ecological impact of four lanes as oppposed to ten.

You make two unsupported assumptions here. The first is that a four-lane bridge would have less impact. The second is that partial destruction of the environment constitutes a "benefit" from the point of view of the environmentalists.

creeley23 said...

You have to be open minded to change your mind. Liberals are very close minded people.
-- dreams @ 10:29 AM

Not that I'm picking a fight or anything, but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?
-- MisterBuddwing @ 10:58 AM


Before 9-11 I was a Chomskyite progressive. Then I saw how my liberal friends reflexively blamed America, defended Islam at all costs, and were entirely unwilling to consider the violence, intolerance, and supremacy built into Islam since Muhammad. From there I discovered that there was no reasoning with my liberal friends on these issues. Often there was not even a place to agree to disagree.

From there I gradually became conservative. Now that I know both sides, I find conservatives make the better arguments.

I don't think I'm that unusual. Open-minded liberals, from what I've seen among my friends, tend to become conservative over time. I don't see people going in the other direction much.

AllenS said...

When Phil Donahue signs his contract for the TV show, how many times do you think that he has said to the network executives: "Oh, come on, I don't need that much money. I'll do the show for a quarter of what you've offered. I'm not greedy."

Em said...

railitytn"but would you care to cite an example where your own open-mindedness led to you concede, "Yes, I was totally wrong about that, and I see the light now"?"

Yes, I supported affirmative action. I don't now.

I supported the war on drugs. I don't now.

I voted for Jimmy Carter. I'm sane now.

Revenant said...

Laws are passed by our representatives to serve our needs and protect our interests, ideally. These laws act to check predation by bad actors

I have bolded the problematic word in your argument.

We do not, have never, will never, and can never live in an ideal world. We live, instead, in a world in which nobody has perfect knowledge and nobody is entirely selfless. Any political or economic belief system which depends on ideal behavior will fail.

Revenant said...

Um, guys? I don't mean to rain on the partisan parade, here, but doesn't "I used to be a liberal but became a conservative" kind of undermine the whole "liberals never change their minds" meme? :)

Robert Cook said...

Revenant, "ideally" is not a "problematic" word, it is the recognition that our systems never realize in practice what they're designed to achieve in theory.

Given this reality, we must still work to the best of our ability in the systems we design for ourselves, always striving to correct errors and improve procedures.

What is the alternative?

Robert Cook said...

"Open-minded liberals, from what I've seen among my friends, tend to become conservative over time. I don't see people going in the other direction much."

I did.

I was raised in a Republican family--they're all still Republicans--and I registered as Republican when I turned 18. I voted for Ford against Carter in the first Presidential election I could vote in, and for Reagan against Carter in the next one.

As I left the protective family environment and began to see what the world was really like, I began to shift my perspective leftward.

I changed my registration to Democrat when I was 25, and am now to the point where I view the Dems as being little more than accomplices to the Republicans. Certainly, they're all equally in thrall to the financial elites who own this country. As someone said recently, America is a land with two right wing political parties.

bagoh20 said...

"doesn't "I used to be a liberal but became a conservative" kind of undermine the whole "liberals never change their minds" meme? :)"

It should be: If you are still a liberal you must never change your mind. It's "like a virgin, [until you're] touched for the very first time."

Patrick said...

Michelle:

By "no background in math," I meant
"unable to understand even clearly written descriptions of Cantor's proof such as you have provided."

Because I think it's fun and interesting, I will take a shot at explaining what I meant. Keep in mind, my understanding is not much greater than my 10 year old's.

I understand this part: Any real number between 0 and 1 can be represented as an infinitely long decimal. Some decimals terminate (i.e., after a certain number of digits every following digit is 0); some repeat; some don't do either.

If I understand the next part correctly, Cantor says that the smaller set (the infinite numbers between zero and one) will lack some of the numbers between (e.g.) 5 and 9. I would obviously agree that in the smaller set you would not have any number greater than 1, so the smaller set would lack those numbers.

My point is that Cantor can come up with any number of numbers in his set, and I can come up with the same number of numbers from the smaller set. In both sets, you can continue making the set larger and larger, forever. Is his set Infinity times 5? To my admittedly uneducated mind, that is sort of like asking "what is the last number before you get to infinity?"

Maybe I should just try Khan Academy!

bagoh20 said...

"America is a land with two right wing political parties."

Anyone who believes this is capable of any kind of mental gymnastics, so I'm not surprised you were able to go from right to left.

No matter how you measure it, the state is bigger, more powerful and redistributive than ever. The rich are richer, but actually less politically powerful than they were in the past, because there are more of them and they compete for political power, which kind of cancels out any one faction's, leaving only the government to grow stronger.

ndspinelli said...

Where's ChipS? This is his expertise.

Patrick said...


Given this reality, we must still work to the best of our ability in the systems we design for ourselves, always striving to correct errors and improve procedures.

What is the alternative?


Maybe looking at all of the attempts to legislate our way out of problems and realizing that the medicine is worse than the disease.

creeley23 said...

Revenant: There are (at least) two kinds of open-mindedness:

(1) Tolerance for those different from oneself.
(2) Willingness to consider the various sides of a debate and change one's mind in the face of better arguments.

Many liberals are open-minded in the sense of (1) but not (2). Of course, this is true of people in general, including some conservatives.

My impression is that before the New Left took off, liberals were more open-minded in both ways but that was lost when liberals came to emphasize their moral stances for civil rights and against the Vietnam War over reasoned positions -- much as you see Donahue in the Friedman clip.

deborah said...

Revenant said...
Except that the evironmentalists at least benefit from the lesser ecological impact of four lanes as oppposed to ten.

You make two unsupported assumptions here. The first is that a four-lane bridge would have less impact. The second is that partial destruction of the environment constitutes a "benefit" from the point of view of the environmentalists.
-----

A four-lane bridge would require less energy, release less pollutants, and have a smaller physical footprint than a ten-lane bridge.

A lesser amount of ecological damage constitutes being 'better off' for the environmentalists.

My point was that your compromise is actually worse than simply giving the bridge-builders the bridge they asked for. In the latter case the bridge-builders would be happier and the environmentalists would be no worse off.

Will you please support the above bolded portion?

chickelit said...

ndspinelli said...
Where's ChipS?

I wondered that too. People come and go around here like vapors.

Rusty said...

Matt said...
Friedman whose plans never actually worked. He was a purist with utopia in mind. His school of thought is one Obama followed while at the Chicago School. Many Republicans love Friedman but they don't think his ideas through


See
Chile
Eastonia
Poland
etc etc


His ideas are just an attempt to describe what people do naturally when they come together to trade their resources. Free markets are still the most vibrant expression of that behavior. Free markets are organic.

Ken said...

deborah,

A four-lane bridge would require less energy, release less pollutants, and have a smaller physical footprint than a ten-lane bridge.

I think a lot of this is mere assumption. If a 10 lane bridge is what was actually needed, people will turn to other modes of transportation to get across whatever it is that needs getting across. In other words, not building a 10 lane bridge shifts the burden of travel elsewhere, which could very easily have higher environmental impact.

Additionally, free markets are far better at finding solutions to environmental problems. This is why the carbon footprint of Americans has declined so much and Europeans hasn't, despite political signons, in Europe, to political solutions to environmental problems.

Robert Cook said...

"Maybe looking at all of the attempts to legislate our way out of problems and realizing that the medicine is worse than the disease."

I don't know what this means.

Gahrie said...

So, the question is not (necessarily) whether, because greed allowed free run leads to bad results for many people, we should abandon capitalism in favor of other economic systems, but, instead, what can we do to achieve a capitalism that is productive yet hindered from causing or allowing harm to the many for the benefit of the few?


Do you really want the answer to this? Because there is one, but it is currently unpopular, and largely ineffective.

The answer is to create and nuture a culture/society in which public morality and public opinion matter. When a man's word is as good as a lawyer written contract. When shame and embarassment exist.
You cannot force someone to behave in an ethical and moral manner. You have to create an environment in which they want to behave that way.

deborah said...

chickelit said...
People come and go around here like vapors.
----

Like Charlie Browns on Halloween.

I missed ScottM yesterday in the breakdown of civilization thread. I thought of him when I mentioned bug-out bags.

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6329595&postID=6984340399766897902

creeley23 said...

We don't have political parties: we have one political party with two right wings called the Democratic and the Republican.

-- Gore Vidal (1986)


I was pretty sure I remembered Robert Cooke's one-liner @3:47 PM from Gore Vidal.

Voila!

Tim said...

"(1) Tolerance for those different from oneself.
(2) Willingness to consider the various sides of a debate and change one's mind in the face of better arguments.

Many liberals are open-minded in the sense of (1) but not (2). Of course, this is true of people in general, including some conservatives."


Really?

As for (1), you don't know many Liberals whose palpable disdain for Conservatives in social or business settings is the latter day version of the anti-Semitic country clubs of the last century and before.

Tolerance for those different from oneself, my White, Conservative, Irish-Catholic ass, lol.

creeley23 said...

People come and go around here like vapors.

I've read this blog for years but only recently started participating. Interesting crew. It is a tough blog in that comment threads rarely live for more than 24 hours; most are over in 12.

Well, it is what it is, but I can see losing interest with turnover this quick.

Lem said...

Insta pointed to this video as pre-buttal to Obama's you didn't build that.

creeley23 said...

Tim: I know whereof you speak. Only too well. I've been forced out of several liberal communities which had once been home. A few friendships too.

There is a weird inversion at work. Since liberals place so much value on tolerance, they can't tolerate people whom they perceive as intolerant. (Which is not to say that conservatives are intolerant.)

It's like that old joke. "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's intolerance."

shishka said...

so in a capitalist society, people get rich by gaming the system, like, uh, phil donahue?

deborah said...

Ken said...
deborah,

A four-lane bridge would require less energy, release less pollutants, and have a smaller physical footprint than a ten-lane bridge.

I think a lot of this is mere assumption. If a 10 lane bridge is what was actually needed, people will turn to other modes of transportation to get across whatever it is that needs getting across. In other words, not building a 10 lane bridge shifts the burden of travel elsewhere, which could very easily have higher environmental impact.

Additionally, free markets are far better at finding solutions to environmental problems. This is why the carbon footprint of Americans has declined so much and Europeans hasn't, despite political signons, in Europe, to political solutions to environmental problems.
----

The subject at hand is hypothetical, and I don't disagree with the above. To determine whether a ten-lane bridge is necessary, and not just a boondoggle, a great discussion must be had. Suggesting that the moderate stance would be to build half a bridge is unconstructive.

Revenant said...

Revenant, "ideally" is not a "problematic" word, it is the recognition that our systems never realize in practice what they're designed to achieve in theory.

But that's not true at all. Plenty of systems realize in practice what they are designed to achieve in theory; free market capitalism is an obvious example. It is the systems which *rely* on idealized behavior that are doomed to fail. The only things capitalism relies on are scarcity and need.

Given this reality, we must still work to the best of our ability in the systems we design for ourselves, always striving to correct errors and improve procedures.

What is the alternative?

Realism. Top-down imposition of "what is best for society" is impossible. It leads, in all cases, to elites accumulating more power and rigging the system to benefit themselves.

This is why value-neutral rules are what is best. Your approach of attempting to rig the system to preemptively choose winners isn't stable.

Revenant said...

A four-lane bridge would require less energy, release less pollutants, and have a smaller physical footprint than a ten-lane bridge.

Not necessarily. If, for example, the bridge is in a high-traffic area, creating a small bridge can cause a bottleneck -- voila, instant traffic jam. Instant massive increase in pollution and CO2 output (not to mention fuel usage) as cars sit idling while waiting for their chance to cross.

Plus, of course, you're making the unsupported assumption that those are the issues environmentalists were concerned about. If the problem is, for example, that car traffic through the area will disrupt the local habitat for an endangered species then the fact that the bridge is "green" is no comfort at all. "Side X wins less than it could have and Side Y loses less than it could have" is not "compromise". It is "Side X winning and Side Y losing". The fact that a loss could have been worse doesn't make it anything other than a loss.

veni vidi vici said...

"Donahue did a great job. He asked open questions, and calmly let the subject answer them."

Exactly. Never mind Friedman, whose ideas are still great; where are our Donahue's today? See the kind of rubbish that passes for "debating the issues" on talk TV nowadays? Host asks questions then interrupts and browbeats the guest in such a way that the guest can't finish a sentence most of the time, much less make his/her point.

Who'd have thought that Phil Donahue would represent the apex of his genre? Jeez Louise...


p.s. I may be late to the party in noticing this but why and since when is Palladian's "panopticon icon" pic on fire?

deborah said...

"Side X wins less than it could have and Side Y loses less than it could have" is not "compromise". It is "Side X winning and Side Y losing". The fact that a loss could have been worse doesn't make it anything other than a loss.

As I said above, this is a hypothetical. Even if side X ends up with four lanes and side Y gets roosting perches every ten feet along the bridge rail, both sides have given something up and have compromised, which is the basis of the two-party system.

Revenant said...

As I said above, this is a hypothetical. Even if side X ends up with four lanes and side Y gets roosting perches every ten feet along the bridge rail, both sides have given something up and have compromised, which is the basis of the two-party system.

Um, no. It isn't. The basis of a two-party system is that the party in the majority gets to do things its way. Compromise is the basis of systems where no one faction can constitute a majority (e.g. many parliamentary systems). Also, while your ability to imagine scenarios in which compromise is possible is cute and all, you're continuing to miss the point -- it is not a *given* that compromise is possible.

Some obvious historical examples that I am confident not even you can miss are:

- Whether it should be legal to own people as property
- Whether women should have the same voting rights as men
- Whether non-whites should have the same civil rights as whites
- Whether it should be legal for healthy women to abort healthy fetuses

And so on. People who think compromise is always possible aren't very bright; there are plenty of issues in real life that are either/or. Almost ALL the important issues fall into this category.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

This clip reminds me of how smart Milton was and what a dumb-ass Donahue was. I'll always be grateful to Oprah and Sally Jesse Raphael for driving that Irish drama queen into cable TV obscurity and retirement.

EMD said...

As for (1), you don't know many Liberals whose palpable disdain for Conservatives in social or business settings is the latter day version of the anti-Semitic country clubs of the last century and before.

It's a remote, distant tolerance for a lot of them that they talk about endlessly but rarely embrace on an intimate level. It's a NIMBY kind of tolerance.

deborah said...

Revenant said...
As I said above, this is a hypothetical. Even if side X ends up with four lanes and side Y gets roosting perches every ten feet along the bridge rail, both sides have given something up and have compromised, which is the basis of the two-party system.

Um, no. It isn't. The basis of a two-party system is that the party in the majority gets to do things its way. Compromise is the basis of systems where no one faction can constitute a majority (e.g. many parliamentary systems). Also, while your ability to imagine scenarios in which compromise is possible is cute and all, you're continuing to miss the point -- it is not a *given* that compromise is possible.

Some obvious historical examples that I am confident not even you can miss are:

- Whether it should be legal to own people as property
- Whether women should have the same voting rights as men
- Whether non-whites should have the same civil rights as whites
- Whether it should be legal for healthy women to abort healthy fetuses

And so on. People who think compromise is always possible aren't very bright; there are plenty of issues in real life that are either/or. Almost ALL the important issues fall into this category.
----

I never said that all issues can be decided by compromise, but two of the four you listed above once were, and abortion of healthy fetuses still is. Most other non hot-button issues, given the nature of slim majorities and back-room bargaining, are decided compromise.

Revenant said...

I never said that all issues can be decided by compromise, but two of the four you listed above once were, and abortion of healthy fetuses still is.

None of the four issues were decided by compromise, then or now.

Take the issue of equal rights for non-whites. Now, you -- like many before you -- may say "well, non-whites were given SOME rights, but not as many as whites, so that's a compromise."

Except it wasn't, because the "compromisers" agreed with the proposition that non-whites should not have the same rights as whites. One side said "they should be treated equally", the other said "no they shouldn't", and the so-called compromise was... "no they shouldn't". Calling that "compromise" is like describing a rape as "compromise" because the rapist could have killed the victim but opted to leave her alive.

You cannot compromise between X and Not X. Either something can or cannot be done; either two things are or are not equal.

deborah said...

Because we are operating under different definitions of compromise, I'll sign off.

sleepless nights said...

Yeah, I've seen this before. There are some systems that at least force you into hypocrisy if you want to be greedy - like Christianity for instance.

I must say I am FAR more appreciative of Phil Donahue's male hair retention now.

Methadras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Methadras said...

I remember seeing this and now that I see it again, I can see Donahue, the devout communist, staring at Friedman as he articulates, cogently, the wonders of capitalism and greed, thinking to himself "Fuck, you didn't build that. Someone else did."

Bruce Hayden said...

A couple of things to add to this long thread.

First, when it comes to bridges and greed, keep in mind the saga of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He started penniless in Searchlight, NV, and now he, and his five kids, are all fairly wealthy (they from sweetheart deals and lobbying - all 4 boys and the son-in-law are attorneys in NV, and 4 of 5 get at least some lobbying work). But back to bridges. The story is that a new bridge was being considered across the Colorado from Laughlin, NV to Bullhead City, AZ. Surprisingly, the Reid family owned land right where the bridge was built using federal money. From the story, it was never clear whether the bridge was sited where the Reids had land, they had the land because of inside information about the bridge siting, or, the most popular story, that the bridge was built because of his pushing for it. In any case, each scenario ends up pointing out the reality that the Reid family benefited financially from the building of a bridge that Harry Reid pushed.

Was there greed involved? Of course. The problem is that it was public money being spent, not Reid family money.

Lest anyone think that this is a fluke, let me assure you that it is not. Very often, the siting of infrastructure, who owns the land, who gets the work, etc., is almost purely political, and results in some favored people making money as a result.

Probably a more egregious example was the new Denver International Airport. The old Stapleton Airport was fairly close-in, but also had 4 runways, and that airport had an almost identical ranking in air traffic as DIA does today - around 5th or so worldwide. Plenty of cities with comparable populations have fewer runways than that. But, Denver wanted another runway (why?)

Somehow, a $5 or so billion airport was authorized, and came in maybe a billion over budget. Half of that might have been slippage and awarding contracts to Black companies (Wellington Webb was mayor at the time it was built) when White firms could do the work better and more cheaply. And the land costs doubled - with a half a billion more than expected.

Turns out that much of the land for the new airport had been recently purchased by a who's who of Denver monied families, and the result was that the same politically connected families were the ones benefiting from the run up in land prices, as the city was pushed to the preferred location, and, not really the farmers who had owned the land up until a year or so before.

Don't get me wrong - I love the airport, but Stapleton was just fine and a lot more convenient. Still DIA is one of the best airports in the world.

Bruce Hayden said...

Second thing is that, yes, Friedman pushed for a broader tax base BUT, another thing that he pushed for, somewhat, was what he termed the negative income tax. If you start with the premise that we need a safety net, then the optimal way to provide it was to start with, a credit for everyone, regardless of income (but maybe not the same for every person - the incremental cost of adding someone to a household drops as the size of the household increases), and then a flat income tax, without exemptions and the like.

The idea was to have a straight line of incentives to work. Say, the tax rate was 20%, with no income cut-offs, rate step ups, or exemptions. That means that if you work 1 hour at $10 an hour, you get to keep 80% of it, and ditto for 3,000 hours.

Instead, we have taken almost the opposite approach, making it uneconomic for many at the lower income levels to go to work, at least at the marginal levels. There are a lot of people in this country who essentially earn minimum wage from the benefits they get from government. There are places where the benefit cutoffs and tax increases are large enough that they face a 50% or higher effective tax increase/benefit cut rate to get over the hurdles into the next relatively flat spot on the curve. As someone pointed out a couple of days ago, why work for $9 an hour, when you can get $7 an hour for not working, and not-working is worth more than $2 an hour for many, if not most, people?