Stupid People

Way back in the olden thymes, I became acquainted with the phrase “pseudo-intellectual poseur.” The person using it was a very liberal person aiming it at some other liberal person. I no longer remember why I was privy to this bum fight, but the phrase stuck with me. The Brits have an old word that conveys a similar sentiment. George Galloway once called Chris Hitchens “a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay.”

As in all of these progressive bum fights, the person hurling the accusation is most likely projecting what they hate about themselves onto the object of their anger. Progressives are full of self-loathing, among other things. George Galloway is a windbag and grifter, the very definition of a popinjay. In the bum fight I witnessed, the two combatants were both mediocre minds pretending they were something better.

Anyway, the phrase “pseudo-intellectual poseur” always comes to mind when I think of Vox. There’s a humorless scold quality salted with a genteel prissiness one used to associate with upper class homosexuals. Mostly, it is mediocre minds prancing around as intellectuals when they would be better off teaching English at a public middle-school.

This is a great example from Matt “Don’t Call Me Julio” Yglesias.

Studies done in the United States show that immigration raises average incomes of native-born Americans, including native-born Americans with low skill levels. Immigration is, of course, even better for the incomes of the immigrants themselves, which makes reduced barriers to migration one of the biggest possible game changers for overall global growth. What’s more, as the Economist’s Ryan Avent has recently shown, more immigration could be a highly effective fix to the currently hot topic of secular stagnation.

Now, put aside the fact that we could fill out those same posters with pictures of Pakistani pimps and their teenage victims. Yglesias is claiming that the laws of supply and demand do not apply to labor markets. After all, if increasing the amount of low-skilled labor increases the wages of low-skilled labor, we have stumbled upon a truth that invalidates the foundations of economics. Everything we know about economics is therefore wrong.

Of course, that’s not the case and Yglesias is a stupid person for saying it. His frequent use of the phrase “game changer” is one of those easy to spot signs that the person using it is not very bright. Stupid people love talking about game changers. At the root of it is the magical belief that utopia is just around the next bend. But, they think it sounds clever so they decorate their language with it as well as other abracadabra phases.

7 thoughts on “Stupid People

  1. Voxaplainations often fail in a similar manner. I’d be amused by the thinly veiled attempt to put an intellectual veneer on what is progressive propaganda, but that amusement is highly attenuated by the fact that legions of low information voters buy into their performance as being erudite…

  2. Cycles of economic growth and decline are easy to justify in retrospect and impossible to predict from the vantage point of the present.

    Occasionally, some cat (out of the 10,000 or so other charlatans in the fortune telling business) gets the broad outlines of the next cycle correct and is praised as a prophet until his next prediction is inevitably wrong.

    The fact the economists use the term “cycle” to describe phenomena that have no fixed period or amplitude shows what a pack of psuedo-scientific fakirs they are.

    Like most utility functions, the immigration utility curve is likely to be an inverted “U.” (Take oxygen as an example: a partial pressure of less than .17 atmospheres will asphyxiate you pretty quickly. A partial pressure of greater than two atmospheres will poison you just as dead.) There is probably some benefit to some cheap immigrant labor in a partially automated economy. Too little will cause commodity and basic service prices to jump and cause the middle class to invest too much in necessities rather than education, property, equity, etc. Too much cheap labor will start to depress middle class blue collar wages in general and cause a rise in external costs like crime, the dole, and urban blight.

    The fact that we seem incapable of discussing this issue in a rational way (much like the insanity of legislatively mandated annual increases to entitlement spending) tells me two things: 1) The policy makers who understand the math behind immigration and economic growth and aren’t talking publicly about it are con men, cheats, and demagogues. 2) The ones who are too dim to understand the math are being manipulated by the ones who do.

    The question that our benighted elites should be asking themselves and could possibly influence through policy is what do you do with all of the cheap labor once nearly everything from picking fruit to hanging drywall has been automated? Soylent Green, death camps, and euthanasia are not among the approved answers and will cause you to lose all credit for your answer.

    • Unnecessary People.

      Earlier this year the crazy person that is Fred Reed (though for a crazy person, he gets A LOT of things right) proffered his economic treatise. Like most things Fred, it’s a fun read.

      “…….Finally even these measures ceased to be enough. College graduates began living with their parents and lining up for jobs a Starbucks because there was no need for them anywhere else. Resort was had to outright charity. Thus food stamps, Section Eight housing, free lunches at school, AFDC, and all the other disbursements of free money. Those receiving the free money no longer had any incentive to work even if the opportunity offered. In the cities generation after generation now lived on charity, largely illiterate and in what is never called custodial care. They are simply unnecessary. There is nothing for them to do. So they don’t do anything.”

      • According to Nancy Pelosi, we should be on the cusp of a renewal of the arts, a virtual Rennisance (like the one they had in France) because now all the Julia’s can quit their slavish 9-5 dungeons that provided health insurance and do arty stuff or web design.

    • The media were pretty good when they were reporting the 5 W’s about interesting or sensational stuff that happened in the last 24 hours or so. Even when they started doing investigative pieces that were often serialized over several days or printed in the Sunday supplement, they were still OK though the investigation was often tied to some cause or another. When every j-school jamoke started turning every article into an opinion piece with each rushing to fill his work with the latest post-modern folderol, then the whole thing falls apart. The internal contradictions were too great. One the one hand, the j-school droolers are puffing out their hollow chests and boasting to everyone how objective their fact-checked, meticulously researched articles are. On the other hand, they are unashamedly pitching their causes, opinions, and prejudices in the same articles. A lot of this probably is due to incentive structure. A beat reporter or international correspondent probably doesn’t make much. But Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd party in the Hamptons with the elite and own mansions. How else can you prove you are op-ed material except by demonstrating it in your reporting?

  3. I will admit, my younger self was not too concerned about illegal immigrants.

    The “game changer” for me was when I read about farmers complaining about the shortage of stoop laborers willing to accept a pittance wage. It’s not so much that I want my lettuce to be more expensive. Why does your business problem become an excuse to upend the generally accepted law of supply and demand?

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