Friday, 9 September 2016

Bits and Pieces (ix)


Julia Baird (above) writes that educated, qualified and experienced professional women lacking self-confidence should follow the example of much more confident, but less educated, less qualified and less experienced white male colleagues:

"A friend of mine called me from New York recently, for example, and said she was worried about re-entering the work force after having children and doing TV appearances again, about losing her confidence and making mistakes.
"She has a PhD from Oxford, and a professorship at an American university. All I had to do was remind her of how happily her male peers accept invitations to speak everywhere, anywhere, to speak on anything at any time — and when I started mentioning some by name, I could almost hear her spine stiffen.
"When I told her to carry herself with the confidence of a mediocre white man, she laughed — and has reminded me of it often since."
I won't discuss the wisdom or otherwise of Baird's career advice. Her insight, however, is no revelation to anyone following the econoblogosphere.

In fact, a related phenomenon (the Dunning-Kruger effect) is a staple of econo-pundits. The difference is that this effect is exclusively invoked to explain why the lay public disagree with the largely white male experts. The question I've never seen asked -- until now, that is -- is whether those experts have a genuine claim to expertise.

After all, it's not like their record shows immaculately cool-headed prescience.


Inequality -- it seems -- is no longer a fashionable subject. This comes as Bill Gates "added about $15 billion to his net wealth over the past year, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index."

But, what does that figure mean? To gain some perspective:
"[T]he Commonwealth Bank's full-year profit was $9.2 billion, Qantas posted a half-year figure of $688 million and let's not forget the world's biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, just announced it shed $8.3 billion over the past year."
That example, however, is probably better suited to Australian than to American readers. I can come up with an example clearer for them: if 2,000 1,000 Gateses attempted to spend their whole new net financial wealth, it would take the whole American economy (including government) to provide the goodies. The population of the U.S. is -- what? -- 300+ million people?

Who needs consumption subsidies in a plutonomy?


Steve Jobs' fans often describe him as a psychopath who freely took from his staff to make big bucks, just to discard them once they ceased being useful.

I'm not a psychologist (nor his fan), so I won't use that word. The Good Book has a more elegant way:
“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed." (Matthew 25:24)
"But you never met Jobs", readers could object.

True. But Steve Wozniak (a.k.a. "The Other Steve") did. Wozniak may never have said "you can't write code, you're not an engineer, you're not a designer … what did you do?" to Jobs directly, but he pretty much said that to Triple J's James Purtill and Tom Tilley ("What Does Wozniak Really Think of Steve Jobs?", Aug. 23).

But there is no exploitation, because, well, you know,  ah, I mean, ahem, blah, blah, epistemology, ontology, blah, blah, methodology, metaphysics. At least, that's what extremely self-confident white men say.

And they are experts.


UPDATE (11/09/2016): Almost two weeks ago Indian workers went on a day-long general strike against PM Modi's labour reforms:
"Union officials said about 180 million workers, including state bank employees, school teachers, postal workers, miners and construction workers, were participating, but the figure could not be independently verified."
Not a single reference in Australian media.

Never mind. Hit them hard, where it hurts: in their pockets. Show the arrogant bastards that without us they are shit.

Good luck, comrades!

Image Credits:
[A]  Source: Wikimedia. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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