Ruling Class Madness

I ran across this tweet and I was struck by the one entry in the thread where Noah Smith says supply and demand do not apply to labor markets. It does not have a place in the discussion, but it is an example of something the managerial class types believe, in spite of everything we know about the world. Noah Smith, from what I gather, is one of the new breed of libertarians, who embrace central planning and the custodial state. I’m not a reader so I may be misjudging him, but I really don’t care all that much either.

What struck me is how common it is to hear economists and pseudo-economists make the claim that the laws of supply and demand do not apply to labor markets. In fact, they regularly argue that the axioms of their field don’t apply to all sorts of things that cause trouble for the orthodoxy. In that twitter post, it appears that some Progressives are now saying it is bad idea to build more housing in their favorite cities, because that will magically make housing more expensive. It’s nonsense, but how long before some economist offers a supporting study?

It is easy to pick on economists for stuff like this, because they deserve it. The managerial class is shot through with guys toting economics degrees, offering up statistical justifications for their favorite policy. Today the libertarian economist Tyler Cowen argues for more currency manipulation, which one would think is something libertarian economists would oppose. They routinely argue against manipulating the supply of goods and services, but for some magical reason it is good for the state to control the supply of money.

I’ve often compared economics to astrology because it is almost as empirically sound as astrology and it holds a similar place in the ruling class today as astrology did in the olden thymes. The rulers today bring in the court economists to read their figures and predict the possible futures. In the olden thymes the court astrologer was brought into to read the stars and tell the king what the omens meant. In both cases the ruler was simply looking for confirmation so that’s what he got from his trusted magician.

It’s not just the economists. Security experts are always on our televisions telling us about the need for government surveillance of the public. After all, it is a dangerous world out there and if we’re going to invite the world into your towns, we have to have cameras on every corner. If that bit of thinking is not crazy enough, none of them ever talk about what happens when someone we don’t like gets that massive data trove collected by the surveillance state. They just pretend that can’t happen, even though it always happens.

An axiom of data collection is that the easier it is to collect, the harder it is to protect. An axiom of life is that anything worth stealing, gets stolen. For a long time, liberals argued against the state collecting data on citizens for exactly this reason. If they can get it, they will misuse it and then someone will steal it. But, all the alleged experts on these issues tell us that the NSA is an exception so no one will ever steal this stuff or misuse it. One has to wonder how many times we have secret data stolen before they stop insisting it can’t be stolen.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know I have walked through the impossibility of open borders, self-government and individual liberty working together. If we do away with citizenship via open borders, there is no reason for anyone to have loyalty to the government. Things like patriotism and national loyalty stop making sense in a world of open borders. That means the state cannot rely on people “doing their duty” as they no longer have a duty to the state. How else will they get people to obey the rules?

The open borders types never bother to explain how their new borderless society will work or what would happen if it turns out to be something other than paradise. When anyone bothers to ask them, they respond like it is obvious, but to date no one has tried to explain how a world without borders could possible work. The best they can muster is something about “who we are” which is ridiculous in a world without borders,  as there is no “we” for us to be. It’s madness dressed up as morality.

Guys like Steve Sailer think all of this is deliberate. The people at the top not only understand the factual realities, they understand the implications of their preferred polices. They know the currency manipulation we see cannot last. They know open borders is doomed to failure. They know the surveillance state cannot work. They are just cashing in while they can. Wealthy interests pay them to keep the lie going as long as possible. It’s not a ridiculous possibility. To get to the top of the power structure, you have to be pretty clever, but also spectacularly devious and dishonest too.

Alternatively, they could see everything everyone else sees, but they have no answer for how to square all of these circles. Building more housing in major cities is what is needed, but the entrenched interests see no advantage and they have prominent spots in the managerial class. Running a surveillance state is a terrible idea, but no one knows how to put the genie back in the bottle so they just make peace with it as best they can. The libertarian economist knows the truth about policies like open borders, but he likes his job at the university too.

Sometimes, societies evolve down a dead end. Study the French Revolution and you begin to see that it was not so much a revolution as a collapse. The old order had reached a point where reform was impossible. The cost of maintaining it exceeded the benefits so it broke apart in big chunks like a building falling over in an earthquake. Perhaps that’s the issue faced by America. The current arrangements are unsustainable, but the cost of reform seems prohibitive, so all efforts are put into keeping the plates spinning, not matter how absurd.

There’s another possibility and that is our betters have been gripped by some sort of collective madness. This used to be the reason people gave for why the Germans went nuts and backed Hitler. Germany was the most advanced and sophisticated culture on earth and then within one generation it veered into barbarism. That’s not an answer that explains much, but to date no one has ever explained why the Germans turned to Nazism. Similarly, there’s no good explanation for why our rulers indulge in the madness we see on a regular basis now.

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meema
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meema

Last thing first – Germany was still reeling from WW1 and good sounding, uplifting, inspirational, we-can-do-this speeches by the up-and-comer was an easy sell. The promise of restoration and prosperity is always a big fat carrot to a struggling society. The real agenda was not presented to the masses. Sound familiar? Works every time. I read a book years ago – They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer. It’s a like reading a script. And not all Germans backed Hitler. Many died for their stand. First thing last – I sort of disagree that those with… Read more »

james wilson
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james wilson

In Europe WW1 was caused by an ambitious and autocratic German government, WW11 in large part by Weimar and universal suffrage, but I repeat myself. This lesson obviously has never been learned. Anywhere.

Severian
Guest

I can explain “building more houses makes housing more expensive,” at least. The only reason every hipster who wants one can’t afford a loft in Portland is because “housing is too expensive.” Building more housing would allow more hipsters to move to Portland, but not into the lofts they crave… but it would also a lot of the non-hip to move there, and we can’t have that! Therefore, building more houses makes housing more expensive. I know, I know, but think about it: Liberals “fucking love science. ” Therefore, whatever else they “fucking love” IS science. That’s just how their… Read more »

Notsothoreau
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Notsothoreau

Our elites are shallow, poorly educated and arrogant. It’s easy to appeal to their vanity as the smartest people ever. They live in a bubble where they are never exposed to new ideas or forced to deal with the results of their policies.

Member

Our elites are not poorly educated, their problem is that they are well educated in that curriculum of biased facts and narrow ideological viewpoint that is an Ivy league education. They have been what to think, not how to think. Their educational attainment is the equivalent of a well groomed Border Collie. They think they are equipped and destined to hold the reins of power, but it is they who are leashed.

I hope Soros likes dogs.

Member

The real rulers are the people with the big, big money. Think Soros, Buffett and the Goldman Sachs heavyweights. They set the agenda and it’s always in their best interest. They buy politicians wholesale. Some of the pols think they’re doing good, most are cashing in and passing themselves off as altruists. They’re job is to sell their benefactors’ agendas to the masses, which, with the help of Hollywood, the teachers unions and an idiotic media, they have done an excellent job of. Everyone has their hand out to catch a few dollars flowing from the top. Full coverage surveillance… Read more »

Member

It’s not just the ruling classes who are mad. The lunacy I hear from my labour class and tradesman class employees is also quite shocking. I sometimes wonder if in fact there has ever been a time when we hairless monkeys with a taste for gin, trouble and bad women have ever behaved sanely. I suspect that Ford may have been mostly right with his ‘history is bunk’ comment. I saw a nature video many years ago with three monkeys browsing about the jungle, then stopping together to bask serenely in the sunshine. This lasted for about 3 minutes, until… Read more »

Crispin
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Crispin

You are absolutely right! We have leftists & snowflakes & globalists, because we can afford to indulge them.
If the nation (or the world) were truly at an existential crisis point ( S.M.O.D., stunning epidemic, total money collapse,etc), useless eaters & agitators would be abandoned, thrown off cliffs, or drowned. Dog psychiatrists, community organizers, & the like, better have some barter-worthy skills.
Else, it’s off the cliff they go.

I know not what the future holds, but at least I’m useful.

Severian
Guest

Agreed! I’d thought this for a long time, but PJ O’Rourke’s memoir confirmed it for me — we got the Sixties because college kids were BORED. That’s it. They riled up the Negroes, het up the women, worshipped Mao, and in general made a worker’s paradise of the country because they had nothing else to do. The normal kids just wanted to drink beer and join frats and go to football games and in general be decent upstanding citizens, so of course they couldn’t do *that*. Which left politics.

King George III
Guest
King George III

Witch doctorism does seem to go along with prodigious environmental abundance.

A proper famine would clear it all right up.

thor47
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thor47

Wait, wait; a taste for gin, trouble and bad women isn’t sane? NOW you tell me!

antipater_1
Guest
antipater_1

Exactly! As an old saying goes – I spend 90% of my money on booze and women. The rest I just waste.

CaptDMO
Guest
CaptDMO

Oooooo….let’s watch as the contemporary “economic models” of U.S. “higher” education, and “health” care payment, fall apart in big chunks, like walls of glacier ice, calving into the frigid waters with huge destructive “ripples”

Member

They believe more in the idea of progress that anything else. They have been taught a variation of the Whig theory of history and any setback that we will come to will be only temporary and all that is needed to overcome it is mutual respect and cooperation. Sure, there are errors built into the economic theories that are guiding us now, but they are bugs that will be worked out shortly. The problem of scarcity will be overcome by having fewer people or by having the proper distribution of them. All we need is better management. And doing this… Read more »

Rich Whiteman
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Rich Whiteman

I’ve become suspicious that the managers’ managers plan is to force Islam on Their globe. Christianity is on the wane (not accidentally), and besides, it allows too much forgiveness and wiggle room. Gaia worship and pc are fine for small groups of fascists, but the majority of humans see right through the bullshit. So – rape, plunder, and destroy entire economies to break the will of the people, then bring in the shock troops to invite Global Citizens to convert or die, and you are left with all the riches, a pliant population, and as many wives as a Saudi… Read more »

Member

I truly look forward to the shock the current Muslim community will get if they succeed in converting any of the American, Germanic, Gaelic, Latino or Slavic people.

Then, and only then, will they truly understand what jihad means.

Member

I get your point.

Brooklyn
Guest
Brooklyn

The people at the top don’t worry about things like borders and surveillance anymore because they have a gut conviction that they are in control so it isn’t an issue they dwell on. Its a settled idea for them like water being wet or the sky being blue. The idea that could change or be in the realm of possibility doesn’t occur to them. That’s why they get hysterical about Trump, because he sounds like someone outside of their control; every time he says something, the questions you raised in this post about begins to itch at the back of… Read more »

Karl Horst (Germany)
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Karl Horst (Germany)

“Supply and demand does not apply to labor markets” This is actually correct. Labor supply and demand does not function the same way as other economic commodities. One need look no further than automotive industry to see the difference between the VW Transparent Factory in Dresden and Henry Ford’s assembly line 100-years ago. Where Ford had thousands of people on the assembly line, a modern factory can produce more vehicles with better quality, lower costs and fewer people. Multiply this across hundreds of thousands of factories making everything from light bulbs to jet aircraft and you start to get the… Read more »

Fuel Filter
Guest
Fuel Filter

Karl, there is so much wrong with your comment that I don’t even know where to begin a cogent critiqué, so I’ll just say this: Supply and demand is so immutable a concept that it begins in nature itself (pre-dating human existence by, oh, at least 100s of millions of years). For God’s sake, it even applies to friggin’ plant life. The “law” of S&D is simply a human expression of natural law.  Verstehen Sie? Can’t you just state bloody obvious?  Just like Krugman you try to shoehorn some crackpot theory onto objective reality. The more you try to explain… Read more »

Karl Horst (Germany)
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Karl Horst (Germany)

@ FuelFilter – The “law” you state is based on an outdated model that applies to commodities, not human labor. Clearly you don’t understand how modern industry works. Are you another one that thinks it takes one person to run one machine. A Luddite, perhaps? The need for human labor is going away whether you like it or not. Ford’s production line is a simple example, but it’s also a fact. Foxconn replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots this summer.This is the future of mass production, and you should get use to it. Humans are becoming less and less necessary… Read more »

Member

I’m interested in anomalies, at the time I read your comment it was at a neg 4 (?). But the comment was valid, fitted in and elucidated a necessary point. Yet it irritated several readers. Obviously someones thought you were p*ssing in their rice bowl. Thinking about it, I believe that it was the amorphous human job classification versus the (new) industrial work process that raised their ire. “I am a skilled worker, I am needed” against the ‘skill’ is now IN the machine and the computer process that is running and controlling it. Fewer bodies, even skilled bodies are… Read more »

Saml Adams
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Saml Adams

Same reason Fortune 500 companies die. You can see the existential threat to a business coming, often for a long time. But there are so many people invested in the current processes, or have nice predictable cash flows coming in from existing business that require little or no capex to function that the effort and risk of changing things is just not worth it in their short term calculus. The immediate benefits are too great. Even now, working on a turnaround of a division of a global financial services company I am astonished at how many of the legacy employees… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

With all the recent talk about Economists, I have been wondering why they get judged by performance on publishing instead of results. Someone like my favorite punching bag, Krugman, should be judged like a Major League Ball Player. How many hits did you get this year? How many singles? Doubles? Triples? Home Runs? Grand Slams? Of course, ‘close’ counts also but a day late and a dollar short is no way to go about prognosticating about their chosen field. The MLB players does not make excuses for striking out with bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th with two… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

It is mind boggling to try to understand how someone cannot understand that the supply and demand curves for labor apply equally as for any other resource. Maybe people get confused by the word “labor.” But if you have an over supply of MD’s, Journalists, JD’s, MBA’s, Engineers of any specialty, Scientists, etc., their inherent value in the marketplace drops. Simple. We are not talking about disruptive technologies or other stochastic shocks to the economic system. Labor is the same input as rice or corn or copper or steel or cotton, etc. If you have too many, then they are… Read more »

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest
Karl Horst (Germany)

@ LetsPlay – To your point “If you have too many, they are cheap. If you don’t have enough, their value goes up.” But this assumes the classic economic theory of the four production factors; land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship is still true. This model assumes human labor is even necessary in the first place – when in fact is not. And the need for land, while necessary physically, is also declining. For example digital production and distribution where the value (or need) of human labor remains at zero regardless of demand for the product (e.g. digital music, movies, blogs,… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Karl, what is the old axiom “They aren’t making any more land?” At least not in the sense of building islands and landfill from sand dredging as in the ME for their island paradiso’s for the rich and famous who want to vacation in the desert! It is still a limited resource, i.e. good land on the coast with beachfront property always in high demand. That is until someone convinces everyone that the seas will rise, the shores will flood and everyone dumps their holdings out of fear. I don’t think that has really happened. I see Obozo has one… Read more »

Anon
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Anon

There’s no good reason why our leaders .. Etc.
Maybe they are just dumb people who think they are smart.

james wilson
Guest
james wilson

The ruling class dream of open borders and the end of citizenship in fact require the omnipotent surveillance state. If it were any other era that state is impossible. and that is why the importation of alien and hostile populations never happened. Conservatives favor law and order so they must favor the surveillance state without ever stopping to think they are cutting their own throats. Huck Finn never had it so easy suckering Tom to paint his fence. We get a hostile population and a hostile government all for the same price.

Uncola
Guest
Uncola

Conspiracy defined: An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act. Cabal defined: A conspiratorial group of plotters or intriguers. A secret scheme or plot. If I was part of a cabal of elite globalists (or I guess the new term now is “multi-nationalists”) I would work to conspire together towards economically collapsing sovereign governments to bring about a New World Order. At the same time, I would also utilize the liberal left (or I guess the more recent term is “progressives”) – and their useful idiots – to bring about lawlessness. To do this, I would implement… Read more »

Member

That means the state cannot rely on people “doing their duty” as they no longer have a duty to the state. Well, not to quibble, but the populace undoubtedly will continue to have a legal “duty to the state”. What they will cease to have is much reason to give a shit about the state anymore. Unless of course, the elites can inculcate in the locals a sense of ‘cosmopolitan patriotism’ (I read a piece on this idea recently but can’t find it readily). I’m reminded about how people can have a strong sense of loyalty and devotion to the… Read more »

Member

…collective madness… used to be the reason people gave for why the Germans went nuts and backed Hitler. Germany was the most advanced and sophisticated culture on earth and then within one generation it veered into barbarism… but to date no one has ever explained why the Germans turned to Nazism Well, surely the answer is that to contemporary Germans it didn’t seem to be either madness or barbarism. A major strain of Nazi thought was to abandon the traditional divisions of society into economic classes and religious denominations that were mutually inimical and to replace these centers of identity… Read more »

Member

The open borders types never bother to explain how their new borderless society will work or what would happen if it turns out to be something other than paradise.

We know what happens, but everybody is afraid to say it. War happens. We’re already well on our way to the next big one. The only real ingredient missing is for the other side to bulk up enough to resist the U.S. military. Or the U.S. military is stripped down so they can compete. Either works.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

How about both happening together. Makes for an interesting scenario doesn’t it?

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

The next borderless world will develop just like the one that was sorted out by the Peace of Westphalia.

Member

There’s another possibility and that is our betters have been gripped by some sort of collective madness I believe this is the case. We all have idiots in our families. People that can’t seem to function very well on their own. We would love to take care of them, since they are our family, but we simply don’t have the means. The elite class has the means, and so they tuck their idiots away in NGOs, nonprofits, and the government bureaucracy where they have a nice living, but can’t really do any harm, they think. The truth is however that… Read more »

michael x.
Guest

Today’s prize for the pithiest comment goes to the Zman himself. In fact, it is so good that I am going to use it as the sub-heading on my blog: “… in a world without borders…. there is no “we.” Think on that for a moment. With open borders “we” will not build any schools. With open borders “we” will not build any schools. With open borders “we” will not build any roads, and so on. “Open borders” is pure nihilism: conceptually barren, without meaning or purpose. What kind of people would embrace such a concept? The kind of people,… Read more »

Shelby
Guest
Shelby

Michael x, you just made way too much sense. “Silly people” really hits the nail on the head.
And why do we have to let soros in our country? He isn’t a citizen is he?
I need to believe that Trump voters will pour into the streets on Election Day.

Member

You’d have to get back to antiquity to find this level of madness. It’s almost as though feudalism evolved as an antidote or rejection to precisely this sort of crazy. The anti-urban, anti-diversity, localist, small-c catholic religious tendencies, lack of literacy, and cultural heroism almost seem designed to prevent this kind of mess from happening.

Wilbur Hassenfus
Guest
Wilbur Hassenfus

“They just pretend that can’t happen”

Because they don’t give a red rat’s ass if it happens. It’s a minor embarrassment for a news cycle, that’s all.

sam L.
Guest
sam L.

Clearly there are a lot of “libertarians” who don’t know or understand the meaning of that word.