Wednesday 28 December 2016

The Peasant and the Daimyo.


A sensei once told me a story about a poor Japanese peasant farmer and his feudal lord. This is my rendition of it.

Friday 23 December 2016


"But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. … Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (Trades' Unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.
"Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers." (The Communist Manifesto)
How old is the communist/socialist movement? I can't answer that with any precision. For my purposes, let's say it's 168 years old, and started in 1848 with the publication of the Communist Manifesto. That's an arbitrary and questionable answer. Still, I hope you'll indulge me: the Manifesto has been translated to at least 80 languages, and is considered a very influential work. It often is the first -- in many cases, doubtless the only -- Marxist text readers encounter.

Monday 19 December 2016

On National Balance Sheets.

"Business annual reports provide two basic accounting statements—a balance sheet, which is also termed a statement of condition, and an income statement. A firm's balance sheet lists the dollar value of its assets and liabilities as of a specific date. A firm's income statement lists its revenues and expenses (the difference being profit) for a year. Similar statements are prepared on a national level in the United States. Analogous to a firm's income statement, a nation's production of goods and services for a year (as well as its spending and saving decisions) are summarized in its gross national product (GNP) accounts. Analogous to a firm's balance sheet, the U.S. balance sheet lists the dollar value of assets and liabilities for U.S. residents. The flows that are identified in the GNP accounts and elsewhere are linked to changes in the levels of assets and liabilities reported in this balance sheet".

Thursday 15 December 2016

Super Pay Scam?

The latest pay scandal in Australia? ABC News Online (also SBS) reports that:
"About a third of Australian workers are being ripped off by rogue employers who are holding back some or all of their superannuation entitlements, according to a report out today.
"Research by Industry Super Australia and Cbus has found employers dodging superannuation payments are pocketing $3.6 billion per year from 2.4 million workers.
"Under the mandatory Superannuation Guarantee, employers are required to contribute the current minimum 9.5 per cent into the super funds of any worker aged 18 and over earning $450 a month.
"But using Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, the study suggests the average worker was short-changed a conservative $1,489, or four months of super, in 2013-14."
What does it all mean?

Thursday 8 December 2016

The Poverty of the Liberal "Left".

I started writing this as a comment to an Australian friend's post. I decided to publish it here, too, so as to share it with other readers. It's slightly edited.

Since the Trump victory I've been trying to hear all the sides of the controversy. I claim no expertise on the issues involved. I'm just a foreigner curious about all the hullabaloo. It took me some effort, because I've never had much interest in American politics. I don't have too much time to research that, either. However, in spite of limitations, this is an exercise we all should try.

A few things I've found seem to me symptomatic of the political, intellectual, and moral bankruptcy of the American "left" and its identity politics.

Friday 2 December 2016

Friedman as Logician (ii)

Faust's pact with Mephisto,
engraving by Julius Nisle, circa 1840. [A]

The previous post argued that Friedman's methodology allows unsound arguments.

Fine. So what?

That post provides material sufficient for an answer. As it happens, the answer turns out to be delightfully topical: unsound arguments are a Faustian bargain.