Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Neo-Cheating for Conservative Capitalism

 Neo-Cheating for Conservative Capitalism


According to Marx, there is a contradiction within capitalism. To keep ahead, a capitalist must constantly reduce wages for the laborers, but also must constantly increase sales to the laborers. It's a public-goods dilemma: capitalists individually need poor workers, but collectively they need rich workers.

One faction of the capitalist class devised a scheme for their collective good: the welfare state, which supports the general public enough for them to afford to buy capitalist goods. It also buys public acquiescence to capitalist rule. But this scheme requires taxing the rich, which another faction objects to, on Randian hyper-individualist grounds.

Therefore Randian looter-capitalists are correct in calling welfare-state capitalists "collectivist". But the Randians are incorrect when they call themselves "conservative". It is the welfare-state capitalists who are truly conservative. The Randian looters are a radical insurgency; passionate, imprudent, destructive.

Welfare-state capitalists are conservative: their plan is continuous progress to a local maximum, the best of all sufficiently similar possible worlds. Randians are radicals; they dream of a discontinuous leap to Utopia, the best of all possible worlds. Sometimes such disruptors can jolt a nation out of a rut, but their claim to higher rationality is an illusion. Mostly their genius is in not getting caught. Any gains they make are mostly by chance.

Randian radical capitalists cheat overtly, but their conservative welfare-state rivals are more subtle. Welfare-state capitalism is a form of "Neo-Cheating". That's a gambling system, invented in the 1980's by Frank R Wallace. The idea of Neo-Cheating is to cheat at cards, but not for personal advantage; instead the Neo-Cheater cheats to move money from the strongest players to the weakest. Then the Neo-Cheater plays honestly with the weak players, and tends to win. In theory this is undetectable.

Likewise, the welfare-state capitalist cheats (in capitalist terms) by using State power to move money from the rich to the poor. The welfare-state capitalist then can deal honestly with the poor, yet still make a profit, because the poor are weak market players. Thus, by neo-cheating, a capitalist can loot without detectably looting.



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Moron Label

 Moron Label



The title of this essay, “Moron Label”, is my satire of “Molon Labe”, which is ancient Greek for “come and take them”, meaning take the weapons. The Spartans said that to the Persian army, and the gun cultists like to quote it. I write to expose the folly of their braggadocio.


Let us briefly pass by the curious fact that the gun cultists are quoting bloody slave-holding communistic pedophiles, from a city which now neighbors poorly-preserved ruins and an archeological dig. Let us instead evaluate the strategic validity of their threat.


When the majority - including the majority of gun owners - finally gets their way and enacts gun control measures like background checks, waiting periods, licenses, fees, training, registration, and insurance; and when some molon-labe-labeled-morons resist these regulations by threat of force; then the elected authorities need not send out police squads to confiscate their weapons.


The government need only mail them fines, or put a lien on their bank accounts, or garnishee their wages, or cancel their credit cards, or some other money squeeze. And they will win. The government need not take their guns; the gun cultists will semi-voluntarily give them up, when their lights go out and their faucets don’t flow.


This will all happen quietly, because peace and quiet is good for business, unlike endless American carnage; and the business of America is business.


Money rules the world; guns are only money’s servants.



Monday, March 29, 2021

On Ham-Handed Seussian Cancellation

On Ham-Handed Seussian Cancellation



I’ve looked over these discontinued Seuss books:


And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street

McElligot’s Pool

On Beyond Zebra

If I Ran The Zoo


I don’t have copies of these discontinued books:

Scrambled Eggs Super

The Cat’s Quizzer

- so of course, by the Forbidden Fruit Effect, I want to see them, though I can’t.


Of the ones I have, I think that Random House’s action was ham-handed and insincere. Most of these can be completely repaired with at most some minor edits. Here are the alleged offenses:


And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street


There’s a fat jolly Rajah riding an elephant. Is that a problem? Rajahs are part of India’s history. Is this sensitivity or cultural erasure?


There’s “A Chinese man eating with sticks”. Again, harmless. Is being offended by a conical hat and chopsticks sensitivity, or is it Western cultural imperialism? Either way, it can be easily fixed with a small edit and a re-drawing. I propose “A fireman who’s juggling bricks”, with accompanying Seussian drawing. But the bean-counters in Corporate would have to pay for an artist.


McElligot’s Pool


This one baffles me. All I could find were “Eskimo fish”, wearing parkas. All right, the Inuit don’t call themselves “Eskimo”; they call themselves “Inuit”. So let the fish be “Inuit fish”! That even scans better. But I insist, keep the fish parkas!


On Beyond Zebra


Another mystery. The scenes shown here are too Seussian to be from anywhere on Earth. Just what culture is being caricatured with “Spazz” for the “Spazzim” ridden by the “Nazzim of Bazzim”? He’s wearing very vaguely Arabic clothes, and the Spazzim is a camel-like creature with branching horns carrying, among other things, two three-handed clocks. Who’s offended and why?


Also there’s “Flunn”, standing for “Flunnel”, a “nice softish fellow” with sideburns, wearing softish clothes, a big hat, and he’s blowing into an “o’Grunth”, a musical instrument that looks like a combination of bagpipe, accordion, and who knows what. Again, who’s offended?


If I Ran The Zoo


I grant that some of these drawings are “problematic” for contemporary hypersensitivites. There’s the Zomba-ma-Tant, where the lad hunts with “helpers who wear their eyes at a slant”. There’s the scraggle-foot Mulligatawny, from the Desert of Zind, ridden by a brave chieftain, of whom “I’ll bring one back too.” Likewise there’s the Gusset, Gerkin, and other beasts, “and eight Persian princes will carry the basket / But what their names are, I don’t know, so don’t ask it.” So if you’re looking for offense, at a stretch, then the lad’s proprietary about the chieftain and the princes.  I grant that the African bearers of the tizzle-topped Tufted Mazurka are pot-bellied, have weird head-knots, and big nose-rings; a caricature. Also there’s the Russian Palooski, whose headski is redski and belly is blueski, shown being carried by a soldier (presumably Russian) with a big blue hat, red coat, big beard, and bright red lips pursed in an O.


So the professionally offended might make a very weak case for those being ethnic stereotypes. But I repeat: all of these wacky drawings are too Seussian to be stereotypical anything.


Cancelling those books for alleged inappropriateness is itself way inappropriate. If you must, then the Chinese man with chopsticks can be slightly rewritten and re-drawn. The Eskimo fish can become Inuit fish with a mere text edit. The Flunnel and the Nazzim are from nowhere on Earth. I say they’re innocent!


If some humorless Grinch insists on desecrating “If I Ran The Zoo”, then the offending pages can be deleted; an artistic loss, but we get to keep the Obsk, the Natch, the Tic-Tac-Toe, the propeller bug, the Chuggs, the Twerll, the Bad-Animal-Catching-Machine, the Iota, a weird-horned deer, another family of deer sharing horns, a family of Lunks, some Joats, a family of arctic What-do-you-know, an Elephant-Cat, a tower of six hens who roost in each other’s top-knots, and a ten-legged lion!


But I don’t think that PC has much to do with Random House’s random decimation of Seuss’s legacy. I think that what’s really happening is corporate bean-counting. Corporate wants to slim down its inventory, to boost next quarter’s profit margin; but it doesn’t want its soulless hatred of art, creativity, and joy to be too obvious; so Random House pseudo-justified its random cancellations by the pretense of neo-Puritan censorship.


If this be woke, then soulless woke is bought and sold!


May Seuss us keep

From gimlet vision

And corporate sleep!

Friday, March 26, 2021

On the Stipend, 2a: 4 of 4

     On the Stipend, 2: discussion




“Paid for how much?  Enough for the jobless to live on, with a little bit more for small luxuries.”


Let’s just admit defeat, and recognize that the jobs are never coming back.


“A stipend stabilizes society by giving everyone a stake in the system.”


Everyone except for the taxpayers.


“... this amounts to plutocracy insurance; buying off the poor to quash rebellion.”


A stipend like that will not calm down the masses.  Here’s why.

“Some radicals say, ‘We do not propose to abolish wealth.  We say, abolish poverty.’  The fact is you cannot abolish poverty without abolishing wealth.  For wealth is relative.  One can be sensible of it only in contrast with poverty.  What is poverty?  What is wealth?  There is no absolute measure.  Only contrast.  In that hut over there the people seem wretchedly poor.  That is because habitations have improved.  Not long ago, historically speaking, the royal family would have lived in a hut like that.  The king himself.  The poor now have more than the rich had a few generations ago, more of everything to eat and wear and enjoy.  They are none the less torn by envy because others have more.” -- from “Harangue” by Garet Garrett




That’s not defeat. That’s victory over the curse of Adam.


Of course we are approaching an economics of superfluity; it has been visible for a century.




PMA; seconded about defeating the curse of Adam. Robots are how industrial man proposes to achieve hunter-gatherer man’s liberty along with farmer man’s security.


But also agreed that envy and ambition will remain, despite everyone having full bellies. The natural strife of society will not decrease with the abolition of absolute poverty. Man is born to trouble, sure as sparks flying upwards. Relative rich and relative poor will remain; in fact I am counting on them remaining, for then competition and innovation will also remain.


If you get a pet rock, then that does decrease the value of my pet rock; but your not going hungry does not decrease the value of my not going hungry. So not all wealth is relative.


BJ; what you denounce is state-based welfare; you don’t have to pay for it, but there’s only one choice. What I propose is a market-based stipend; each gets a sum to spend as they wish. If we are to do a Keynesian counter-cyclic stimulus at all, then the poorest are the best dispensers of the stimulus money; they’ll spend it all, as efficiently as possible, on what they need most. Thus the economy gets going, in a direction closest approximating filling real needs, for the poorest are the ones most uncomfortably aware of real needs.


Funding the stipend? Nontrivial! Doing it right? (i.e. enough to live on, phases out slowly enough for work to pay) Also nontrivial! But I submit that in a sense all of civilization is an immense stipend. Civilization dispenses certain benefits to all, rich or poor, worthy or unworthy, free of charge or scrutiny. That’s the point of civilization.


Oh and one more thing; a point of nomenclature. In the first stipend essay, I described the stipend-receivers (i.e. the poorest) as being “paid to consume”, and thus as “job creators”. This is factually accurate; consumers _are_ the job creators, by definition; they are the ones whom the jobs are done for. Now, there also exists another economic class, also called “job creators”; but this is an Orwellian reversal, for the CEOs thus described make their fortune by _destroying_ jobs, by automation, outsourcing and other tactics. Their drive for efficiency increases output, so they do have a role; but that role should not be mis-stated. They are job destroyers; that is their job; one which lately they have done very, very well.





The problem is that the stipends AREN’T free, whether they are “invade Iraq” “goodies” or “Publik Skoolz” ”goodies” and as you’ve probably figured from my sarcasm, there’s a serious argument as to whether they’re valued anywhere close to the cost.  They may even be valued NEGATIVELY.  So if a person’s money is stolen for a Public Schooling for their kid, and  they DON’T value the public schooling anywhere NEAR what it cost them in taxes, or even at all, or they would even pay to avoid it, even if their kid DIDN’T go to school at all, then the money they’re spending on private schools may be like the money we have to spend on guns when Bill Clinton gives us “night basketball” or some other nonsense.  That sort of “free market Keynesianism” you’re discussing sounds more like Disaster Capitalism to me. 



Hmmmm.  I’ve been a Welfare worker and I’ve been a Welfare client (“I’ve looked at Welfare from both sides now...”), and I can tell you from my own observation that people on a stipend do not cease being productive if they have any health at all.  I’ve seen old Black grannies save up their Welfare money to buy yarn and needles, knit everything from blankets to dresses, and sell the same for a profit at a yard-sale.  I’ve seen Welfare unemployeds fighting for places in line to sign up for factory jobs.  I’ve seen others take up underground and illegal jobs -- numbers-running, drug-selling, whoring -- to make extra bucks.  I’ve seen ADC mothers buy seed and plant backyard gardens to improve their children’s diets, and then swap the excess with neighbors.  In my own case, Rasty and I are living on Social Security, and doing our damndest to plant a fruit-orchard.  What all these examples have shown me is that being on a guaranteed stipend does not necessarily create dependency, and certainly doesn’t stop people from being productive. 


As an Anarchist, I’d have to say that, when dismantling a government, we should leave the stipend for the poor to the very last.  Given a free and intelligent society, there would be few enough really poor people that the “stipend” could be maintained by private (which includes group, don’t forget) charity.