Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Rajmohan Gandhi on why we are all wearing the same pair of chaddis

When India became independent, some Communist nutters pretended it was still a slave to the Capitalist West. They were wrong. 

Similarly, some people pretended India was not a Hindu nation from which the Muslims had separated- if it was possible for them to do so. On the other hand, the notion that Tamils wanted a separate State did turn out to be a chimera as did the presumption that Indians wanted Soviet style Socialism or Gandhian type gobsiterry. 

Rajmohan Gandhi- now doing 'Research' in Illinois- writes in the Indian Express

What took place in August 1947 was emphatically not the creation of two nations,

Yes it was. In the previous year, Hindus had voted overwhelmingly for Congress, which Gandhi, in 1939, had described as a High Caste Hindu Party, while Muslims voted overwhelmingly for the Muslim League which was committed to the creation of Pakistan. Some stupid Dalits did, it is true, support JN Mandal who supported the Muslim League. But Mandal and his people were chased away from independent Pakistan.

 one Hindu and the other Muslim. 

This was a thorough going separation. Non-Muslims did not want to live under Muslim domination and vice versa though, no doubt, a much bigger number of Muslims were left on the wrong side of the border. They were condemned to sink politically and economically decade after subsequent decade. 

It was only the separation of contiguous Muslim-majority areas in the subcontinent’s north-west and east. 

That is all any partition is. The American Revolution was merely the separation of contiguous areas on the North American continent where the Rebels dominated. The loyalist areas became Canada. Similarly, Irish independence involved the partition of contiguous areas where Protestants predominated and the Treaty of Lausanne involved population exchange on the basis of religion such that Turkey received Muslims on the wrong side of the border while Greece received Christian refugees. 

Later, Pakistan indeed chose to become an Islamic nation,

As did Bangladesh. But Pakistan was ab ovo Islamic. It was created by the Muslim League.

 yet India remained a nation for all, 

except Muslims who had crossed the border in panic. A 1948 Act stripped them off citizenship.

with equal rights, firmly entrenched in its Constitution, for all its citizens, irrespective of religion (or race, gender or caste).

but non-Hindus expressed separatist sentiments wherever they dominated. Furthermore, India degenerated into an dynastic autocracy- tempered, it is true, by assassination. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has blamed Partition on Nehru. 

He blamed Nehru's ambition. The fact that Congress was in a hurry to get power meant that it agreed to Radcliffe drawing lines on the map. 

Assigning sole or main responsibility for that painful event to Nehru lacks any historical basis.

But is not as crazy as saying that partition did not validate the two nation theory. The fact is two nations did in fact come into existence. It is also a fact that Congress was greedy for power and showed scant regard for the plight of those who would be caught on the wrong side of the border. 

 It should be recognised, moreover, that if Partition had not occurred, all the residents of today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh would have been free to move to any corner of today’s India.

Where their throats would have been slit if they belonged to the wrong religion.

This should be realised by persons like Union minister G Kishan Reddy of the BJP who claimed, on February 9, that if Indian citizenship was offered, half the population of Bangladesh would migrate to India.

As opposed to Bengalis migrating the fuck away from Mamta's tyranny. Bangladesh did the sensible thing- viz. get rural girls into factory dormitories- and has pulled ahead of Pakistan and parts of India.

Who should be held responsible for Partition is not this article’s theme. 

Mahatma Gandhi's unilateral surrender in 1922 made Partition inevitable. 

Nor am I focusing here on movements or migrations of people.

Because that was what actually happened. This cretin prefers to focus on fantasy.

 My purpose is to recall that though the two-nation theory was indeed advanced by the Muslim League after March 1940 and by the Hindu Mahasabha from 1937, India’s 1947 partition did not validate the two-nation theory.

Though two Nations did indeed come into existence. Sadly, reality don't validate shit for Rajmohan coz he really is fucked in the head.

 It should also be remembered that the Constitution of India adopted at the end of 1949 totally rejected that theory.

Nope. It completely confirmed it. Muslims lost everything previously conceded to them. Cow protection became a Directive Principle. India, that is Bharat, has Hindi in Devanagari as its official language. Many Muslims lost citizenship. The first President had been a member of the Hindu Mahasabha. The Hindu triumph was so complete and Muslims so wholly marginalized that politics was about the progressive Hindus pushing back against the orthodox. 

Ignorance about one another is a reality in almost every society. 

As is ignorance of reality.

So is prejudice about groups different from ours.

As well as prejudice against our own- which is what might want us to do 'research' far far away

 But the history of human beings is, among other things, a story of growing awareness that all of us are the same underneath.

Moreover, we are all wearing the same pair of chaddis- right? 

When a Korean movie wins the Oscar in the US, 

it tells us something about American politics- viz. that it has become deeply divisive. 

when people of Asian descent hold powerful political positions in several countries in Europe and North America,

because they have become thoroughly assimilated. Priti Patel isn't prancing around in a Sari. Rishi Sunak aint doing Satyagraha against BoJo.  

when Indian-Americans not only win seats in the US Congress but hope, one day, to send an Indian to the White House, something like the two-nation theory can only be seen as a relic from a retrograde past.

No it can't. It is clear that Pakistan and Afghanistan are on a very different trajectory to Hindu majority area. 

Long ago, people indeed thought that other tribes, races, religious groups or castes were inferior, or superior, or menacing, or an easy target. We know better today.

No we don't. Either China is superior to India and will take Arunachal and gain access to Indian markets by brute force or else India- with or without allies- will prove it isn't inferior. 

It is important to find out if we are inferior in some field so that we can imitate those who are superior. Equally, if we have a superiority in some field, we must build further 'acquired advantage' upon it. 

The two-nation theory has to be rejected not only categorically but also thoroughly.

But that won't change the fact that the country will have to defend itself against Pakistan and its terrorist proxies.  

It is not enough to agree that as between Indian citizens no law can discriminate against anyone on religious grounds.

Though the Law does indeed do so. 

 Denying a path to citizenship to immigrants of a particular religion is an unconcealed expression of the two-nation theory, 

No. In 1948, it was explicitly stated and enacted that Muslims who had gone to Pakistan could not return to reclaim Citizenship or property. Rajmohan is simply lying his head off. The two nation theory was accepted by both his grandfathers. On the other hand a reckless disregard for the truth may well be a hereditary trait. 

apart from being a violation of the constitutional and human principle of equality.

There is no such principle. Equality under the law does not mean that the law itself must be equal. I and Prince Andrew are equally subjects of British Law. But I am not, by reason of birth, in the line of succession to the throne. 

Applied today to immigrants, the theory will be directed tomorrow against fellow-citizens whose ancestors were Indians several hundred years ago. 

That happened in July 1948. What triggered it was the return of some refugees from Lahore. The Constituent Assembly quickly passed a law stripping such people of citizenship even though their ancestors were indigenous for thousands of years. The reason given for this move was simply that the property the refugees had left behind was needed to accommodate those flooding in. There had been an exchange of population following the establishment of two nations. Pretending this did not happen is simply silly. 

Eventually, it will set neighbour against neighbour. It should be given no sustenance whatsoever, not even in the name of succour for the persecuted.

Why stop there? Why not deny that India ever became Independent? How could it have been colonized? There can only be one Nation on Earth. Indeed, we are all actually just one person wearing the same pair of chaddis. At any rate, this is the conclusion Rajmohan's further 'research' in Illinois will lead him to. 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Iyer's Alcman

Tho' long turned to dust & from no lust for gold
Sparta, thy maidens must spare not the old
Exulting in trinkets & their Goddess grey-eyed
To whom War too is a baby; Grace, genocide.

Envoi- 
Prince! What's funny is not that Pity grants me money, but that Harvest Dawn gleans me wit
 In Poetry's stables to shovel, Tyrtaeus, thy but Trojan horse's shit.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Shruti Kapila on Women as a Vote Bank

Mountainous Albania was a patriarchal, traditional, society with a tradition of merciless vendetta. This meant that some elderly women were accepted as men for the purpose of giving representation to a sept whose men had been killed or who had gone into hiding. Indeed, even the most feudal of patriarchal societies featured some women in political roles because they were treated as notional men in that they represented a particular lineage which lacked adult male heirs. 

The transition to parliamentary, more or less representative forms of government featured a decrease in such formal exercise of political power by women. Why? This was part and parcel of an increased specialization and division of labor which undermined traditional sources of authority while increasing the power of the market. 

As parliamentary seats gained in importance, competition for them increased with the result that women and vulnerable minorities tended to lose, not gain, representation. This led to a paradoxical situation where more backward polities had greater female and minority participation precisely because this was a token type of representation. Indeed, 'reserved seats'- e.g. for Dalits in India- lowered the prestige of Parliament and thus gave the aristocracy an excuse not to stoop to membership in such Assemblies. On the other hand, even the most blue-blooded might allow a young Princess, more particularly if she had married in from a lower status family, to kick up her heels in Parliament. Such was the case with the glamorous Gayatri Devi who got into the Guinness book of world records for winning her seat with the largest landslide ever.

No doubt, crazy Lefties identified women as 'proletarians' on the basis that the word means 'giving birth' and women do in fact go into labor when having babies. There was some silly notion that women and minorities would vote for the Left. Sadly, the Left was shite at least partly because it believed that the role of women in the revolution was to just lie back and think of Marx. 

Shruti Kapila, whose first degree was from Punjab University, writes in Print India- 
Even young undergraduates reading Indian politics with me, in distant Cambridge, have been quick to notice that Indian democracy strikingly has had a slew of women leaders.

Clearly 'young undergraduates' reading a worthless subject are normally very slow to notice things. Still, Kapila says that her very very special little flowers with very special educational needs have noticed that India- like Britain- has some women leaders. True the UK has had two female Prime Ministers while India only had one- the daughter of a previous PM- but does Britain have anyone comparable with Mamta- apart from Nicola Sturgeon? 

Perhaps. But who cares? The thing doesn't matter in the slightest.  

A few years ago, when Hilary Clinton failed to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, it showed the stark distinction between women’s leadership in India and America or — as the cliché goes — between the world’s largest and most powerful democracies respectively.

But Clinton did get the nomination second time round. What exactly is the stark distinction between women's leadership in India and America? Surely, it is that India is very rich while America is as poor as shit. That must be it- right? 

It is indeed a fact that women have held and continue to hold major offices of political power and routinely lead big and small parties alike in India — from Indira Gandhi to Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati to J. Jayalalithaa.

Hillary had a good shot at the top job. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have all had successful female leaders. But so has Britain and Germany and New Zealand and so forth. Of course, politics in the subcontinent is more personalized and dynastic and so political parties have less salience. On the other hand. Trump seems to have turned the Republican Party into a personal fiefdom.  

It is tempting to say that more affluent countries might see more gender dimorphism- e.g. Sweden having fewer women in STEM subjects than Iran- but politics doesn't seem to be a field where this happens. 

Yet, and this is the key paradox noted not least by my undergraduates, it is hard to escape the stark reality of gender disparity (and not merely inequality) in India.

It is indeed hard to escape India unless, like Kapila, you actually get a Visa to leave India. The stark reality is that the vast majority of Indians are as poor as shit because they have very very low productivity. Only about 15 million Indians pay Income tax- the figure in the UK is twice that though the tax threshold is double what it is in India. Thus there is very little scope for redistributive taxation. Furthermore the poorest Indians are the farthest from 'demographic transition'. Inequality increases when the poor reproduce faster than the comfortably off.  

The gender disparity is widely documented in statistics and everyday experience, as this disparity takes diverse forms of violence from female infanticide that has given a skewed sex ratio to rape and poor health indices, to say nothing of inequality of work opportunity, mobility, security and all manner of other challenges.

Is Kapila saying abortion is a crime? If 'female infanticide' is a form of violence what about male fetuses which are aborted? It may indeed be true that more women then men are raped. However the most prolific perpetrators of statutory rape in India are the prostitutes who service middle school kids during their lunch-breaks. On the other hand, it must be admitted that job opportunities for people who are constantly being raped might be fewer or less remunerating than those for equally skilled people who don't got vaginas.  


Why women emerge as leaders

Given all the odds stacked against her, what then explains the now-assured arrival of women political leaders?

They got raped or their mothers got raped or their daughters got raped. Indira Gandhi's maternal ancestors were subject to statutory rape which is how she became the daughter of Pundit Nehru and thus got to become Prime Minister herself. 

Kapila began her article thus- 

Declaring Asha Singh, mother of the 2017 Unnao rape survivor, as a Congress candidate in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, is certainly a symbolic move.

Sadly, it may symbolize stupidity and a crass attempt to woo women voters by the promise that if they are too busy getting raped then their Mummy can run for electoral office. 
One obvious answer would be that women derive their leadership credentials as members of already influential families.

Especially if the male members of that family are in jail. I suppose Kuldeep Singh Sengar's wife, now her husband is in jail for the Unnao rape, will move from panchayat level politics to the Legislative Assembly.

From the local zila parishad level to the office of the prime minister, women have emerged as political leaders if their families are already invested and secured in politics.

This is also true of men. In India people join politics so as to spend more time with their families. They quit when their brother or cousin or Mummy or Aunty kicks them out of their way. Indira, it is said, only entered politics after Shastri threatened to put in her aunty if she didn't step up. The main reason Indira, like Sonia, stayed in power was so as to pass on power to her son. 

But a more speculative and tentative answer is the opposite. Politics offers the best exit path from India’s deeply entrenched patriarchal society.

Unless, like Kapila, you can just can just get on a flight to Blighty or any other country which aint an utter shithole. 

Which woman 'escaped patriarchy' by entering politics? None at all. The fact is a woman in Indian politics has to maintain an image of either nun-like chastity or else that of the 'pativrata' loyal and faithful wife even if (as in the case of Feroze Gandhi) the husband is a philanderer or (in the case of Sonia) her religion does not frown on widow remarriage. 

The fact that the cretin Rahul, not the charming Priyanka, remains the Congress Party's candidate, shows that Indian politics isn't an 'exit' from Hindu patriarchy even for an Italian Catholic lady. 

If not to exit it entirely, then, at the very least, to step aside and preferably to sit on top of this iniquitous social structure.

Getting rich or getting hitched to someone rich, or just being a great big gangsta, would work better. Otherwise, you could just emigrate. 

The reason segmentary societies have dynastic politics is because the joint-family works as a favor-bank. Individuals may rise up as 'market makers' or arbitrageurs but if they don't have a family then they can't go out on their own. On the other hand there are cadre based Parties and some- like Modi- have risen on merit.  

True individual autonomy is possible for women especially if they emerge as political leaders, and you don’t have to look further than Mayawati, Jayalalithaa, or Mamata.

They were not able to have a normal family life. Mamta may be able to pass power to her nephew and that is why her TMC has some credibility. Jayalitha wasn't able to pass power to her friend Sasikala. Mayawati looks like an extinct volcano. Unlike Mulayam, she doesn't have a son or daughter to carry her party forward.  

To be sure, political office will not insulate even the most powerful female leader against misogyny.

Mamta says she was bitten by her own top cop. I'm not kidding. The guy sank his fangs into her- albeit while she was in opposition.  

By the same token, there seems to be no direct or deep relationship between greater gender equity and political leadership.

Nonsense! Where there is gender equality, political leadership is less likely to itself involve great political inequality. This is because gender inequality arises from the socio-economic aspects of gender dimorphism which themselves relate to the degree of specialization and division of labor in a Society relative to the openness of markets- i.e. the possibility of rent capture. 

In short, while Indira Gandhi, no doubt, was one of India’s most powerful prime ministers despite some targeted schemes and efforts, it is nevertheless hard to argue — much less remember her government — as one that made life significantly better for women.

Because her economic policies were shitty- but that was the fault of mainly male mathematical economists and Lefty cretins of various sorts. 

Indira worsened things for women in North India because she relied on the police. Thus when a drunken off-duty cop put his hand through a car window to fondle a woman's breasts and her husband and brother returned to thrash him, the guy got a bunch of his fellow cops to shoot the men and then take the lady off for a prolonged gang-rape session. Maya Tyagi was then charged with various crimes. Mrs. G only very reluctantly intervened. Then she was shot. Women wept their eyes out. 

Consider the 'Nirbhaya' atrocity. Kiren Bedi, a former top cop, appeared on TV to explain how Delhi could very easily be made safe for women after dark. But this would have made Delhi safe for men as well and thus Delhi's women refused to vote for Bedi as C.M. The truth of the matter is that women think rape is fine so long as it happens to other women. 


Parties and women as a vote bank?

It would, though, be a mistake to surmise that since the woman’s question is pervasive, it is free of partisanship otherwise marked by either generalised neglect or pure symbolics.

This is an utterly foolish sentence. If something is 'pervasive' it would must also be partisan- unless there partisanship does not exist. 

In India’s hyper-political society, why should the woman’s question remain non-partisan?

It is partisan. Every party claims that it will do wonderful things for women while its rival will kill and eat anyone of the female sex. 

On the other hand, it is true that some old rustic geezers vociferously opposed the Women's Reservation Bill. But nobody seems to be talking about reviving that now.

If anything, over the last decade, distinct stances across the political spectrum have become increasingly evident. The Congress — as with the latest declaration — seems to be primarily focussed on violence against women and women’s representation in legislature. This is evident from its leadership’s personalised support to rape victims like 2012 Delhi gangrape victim and her family,

but that shit went down on their watch! Shiela Dixit was all like 'my own daughter can't go out at night' while the TV showed that girls in Modi's Ahmedabad were roaming around freely at 11 o'clock at night.  

and more recently, the Unnao rape survivor’s family.

 Has your daughter been raped? Have a Party ticket as a consolation prize. You won't win but then being a political prostitute requires more than just a history of abjectness. 

Meanwhile, powerful regional leaders, notably Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee, are doing better with their women voters in comparison to the male vote.

Targeting benefits at women has this effect.  

The relatively new entrant of the Aam Aadmi Party seems to be po-faced at best and at worst, overwhelmingly male — at least in terms of women’s representation in its sole cabinet in Delhi.

Because Kiren Bedi's CM campaign bombed.  

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has arguably made the most audacious move. In criminalising triple talaq and making the Uniform Civil Code a central promissory issue, the BJP seeks to flatten or indeed ostensibly make and treat women as a uniform entity, at least before the law. It is audacious because it seeks to render minority identity as sectional or segregative in contrast to the woman as a universal and aggregative identity. This is to say nothing of polarisation, communalism, and majoritarianism that all feed directly into this viscerally divisive debate. The BJP has, in short, clearly staked the woman’s question in precisely this aggressive context of competing identities.

The thinking here is that Muslim personal Law is more favorable to demographic growth. Actually, only education and the participation rate matter.  Get rural girls into big factory dormitories. Bangladesh is doing so and thus has overtaken Pakistan and now parts of India. 

The upcoming long season of mini and mega elections, starting with UP and extending till the general elections in 2024, will test each party’s imagination and tactics on the women’s vote.

Thinks nobody at all. Either you pay a little money into the accounts of poor women to buy their vote or they vote for the other guy.  

What is clear is that there is a distinct gap and disconnect between female political leadership and effective gender justice in India.

What is even clearer is that people who talk of 'effective gender justice' are as stupid as shit.  

The party that can close that gap will succeed in not just creating, but also capturing that all-too elusive thing called the women’s vote bank.

Nonsense! This isn't what Prashant Kishore is saying at all. But then he studied engineering rather than stupid shite of the sort that Kapila teaches.  

Iyer on inequality

In an equal society, both life-chances and reproductive outcomes are almost equal save for a small random variable. Clearly, the fact that most male lineages have gone extinct as have, to a lesser extent, female lineages associated with low economic gender dimorphism or division of labor and gains from trade, shows that material equality in early societies was associated with radically different reproductive outcomes. Conversely, social stratification of an extreme kind permitted hierarchically lower lineages to maintain, or even increase, their share of the total population. In other words, accepting inequality has always been an evolutionarily stable strategy for the vast majority of lineages. The alternative to ‘apartheid’ genetic diversity (which it is regret minimizing to conserve) is egalitarian demographic replacement. True, the maths involved in showing this is quite recent but this unthought known has been around since the beginning of time. Humans domesticated themselves to inequality to gain the same benefit that domesticated animals did. Hegel’s ‘master-slave’ dialectic should be recast as a case of Slaves out-reproducing the Herrenvolk. Egalitarian regimes- and Hitler’s was one such in that a Corporal supplanted a General- soon turn genocidal. The Mayflower passengers initially established an egalitarian society and only gave up on that type of foolishness when they began to starve. Indeed, the highly inegalitarian American, or Australian, rapidly displaced indigenous peoples. Native Americans constitute 1.7 per cent of the population. African-Americans are 13 percent. Slavery, it seems, was better than Freedom in the only sense that matters to Biology.

Sedentary populations have often been invaded by more egalitarian tribes. France is named for the Francs, Lombardy for the Lomabards, England for the Angles and so forth. An egalitarian ethic can transform internal economic competition into a drive to conquer and establish dominance of an uncompromising, utterly amoral, kind. However, unless this translates into increased specialization and division of labor- i.e. more social stratification and inequality of outcome- such dominance is fleeting. 

This is not to say, that we should meekly put up with extreme concentrations of wealth and power. Rather, by studying philosophy or anthropology or literary theory, we should write articles or blogposts while quietly murmuring ‘boo to the rich’ as we go about our mundane tasks as metaphorical catamites of the plutocracy. 

V.D Choothapadhyaya’s classic study of the indigenous tribes of West Hampstead has influenced a generation of imaginary scholars whose work is unfairly neglected by a Eurocentric Academia. To recover the voice of the subaltern we must first, as Gayatri Spivak says, problematize the catachresis of imbrication involved in listening for its echoes in her next book. This does not mean we can put off urgent ‘bottom-up’ reform- e.g defunding the police so narco-gangs can take over. More importantly, we must address issues of gender and identity without giving way to either a doctrinaire insistence that everything is socially constructed because this generates an essentializing biological backlash which is already contributing to an upsurge in recreational incontinence which has overflowed the Academy.

As Prof. Sterelny points out, intimacy and trust among foragers can keep ‘alphas’ in check. I have often spoken of this to foragers who however get angry and say they are actually Actuaries or Accountants and that they won’t French kiss each other so as to establish intimacy because this will do nothing to check the declining alphas of their stock portfolios. This just shows the level of ignorance that prevails in the so called 'City' of London. This is not to let the intelligentsia off the hook. If our Societies are unequal, it is because our Epistemic system is concerned with not a level playing field of Knowledge but  siloed hierarchies of Credentialism. Also anyone teaching a non-STEM subject is as stupid as shit. 

Priyamvada Gopal wrong on Fredrick Douglass

Priyamvada Gopal in her latest book writes of a famous speech by Fredrick Douglass- 

On 4 August 1857, some three months after the commencement of the insurgency in India, though it is unlikely he was aware of it at the time,

Why? The NYT had begun writing about it a month previously. Douglass was trying to show, firstly, that Britain was on the abolitionist side and, secondly, African Americans were sensible and law-abiding and thus a potential source of national strength. Sadly, the British victory was seen as a sign of hope for the Southern States. Europeans were so inherently superior to Blacks that they could easily put down a slave revolt even if the slaves were the majority. 

the former slave and American abolitionist Frederick Douglass

who ran a newspaper and thus read all the newspapers and other dispatches available 

gave a speech in Rochester, in New York, felicitating a different revolutionary moment. Nearly 25 years before, in ‘one complete transaction of vast and sublime significance’, slaves in the British West Indies had finally been deemed human beings, restored to their rightful stature as free men and women. Three decades after the 1807 abolition of the British slave trade, often confused with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, Britain’s human chattel on the vast sugar and cotton plantations of the West Indies had officially ceased to be slaves, though they would remain compulsorily apprenticed to their owners for another five years. In the United States, however, slavery still flourished – as indeed it did in other parts of the world such as Brazil, where it carried on to the end of that century. Douglass was speaking to fellow abolitionists, gathered in Rochester to commemorate the West India emancipation, and he took pains to contrast Britain’s significant achievement with the ‘devilish brutality’ he saw around him in a formally democratic and republican land. The act of abolition, deriving though it did from ‘the moral sky of Britain’, had universal ramifications since, Douglass insisted, it ‘belongs not exclusively to England and English people, but to lovers of Liberty and mankind everywhere.’

Why is Gopal mentioning this? The fact is, all the Northern States had abolished or were abolishing slavery by 1804. But Canada, which remained under the British Crown, had also done so in 1793 as Douglass's ally or rival, Garrison who was from Canada, well knew . The reason Douglass was talking about abolition in the West Indies was  because

1) It was resisted by the local elite

2) It was financed by the metropole and turned out to be profitable for those local elites. Moreover, the emancipated Jamaicans etc. proved industrious and peaceful. 

In other words, Douglass was pointing to a peaceful, 'capitalist', way forward which would benefit his enslaved brethren while also releasing financial capital from Southern plantations and making it available for industrial expansion. 

Since Gopal is a stupid racist, she thinks Douglass was ignorant- he couldn't even read the Newspaper- and that stuff that happened in the British Empire mattered to him. The truth is quite different. Douglass was smart not despite his being Black but because he was Black and truly representative of the enslaved community. Gopal may not believe this because she is a bigot, but such is in fact the case. 

Consider the following-

Douglass’s speech paid due homage to the august ranks of British abolitionists. For those who had claimed that only Englishmen could ‘properly celebrate’ the West Indian Emancipation, he had a message: in that case all those who love freedom can ‘claim to be Englishmen, Englishmen in the love of Justice and Liberty, Englishmen in magnanimous efforts to protect the weak against the strong and the slave against the slaveholder’.

Douglass had lived in England for two years in the 1840s. He had met some of the old abolitionists. Indeed, the English took up a subscription so that his freedom could be purchased from what remained his legal master. All this was well known to Douglass's audience. What he is hinting at here is

1) the possibility of an alliance with Britain (in the context of the Crimean War and a possible revolt in India and elsewhere). This also had to do with some Southern States- e.g. Louisiana- which wanted to annex Cuba, even going it alone to do so, in defiance of Britain and France

2) British capital helping finance emancipation in return for infrastructure and other investment in cotton and other primary products needful for both the North as well as Britain itself. 

Douglass knew that the Brits hadn't abolished slavery in India. He also knew that there was no prospect of the North allying with a rival industrial power. However, he was in a subtle and nuanced 'heresthetic' manner creating room for maneuver such that the argument that Britain would side with the South in a Civil War was combatted. No doubt, the Southern gentleman claimed to be in the mold of the English squire or Cavalier; but the North might with greater plausibility claim a kinship with what was after all the leading industrial and financial power of the time.  

Thereafter, however, his speech took a curious turn. Douglass had also to counter the charge, made by some of his fellow American blacks, that to commemorate the West Indian Emancipation was to celebrate the achievements of others, specifically the deeds of white people, ‘a race by which we are despised’.

Douglass was castigated for his policy of dialogue even with slave-owners. However, African Americans understood that their autonomy increased if they were not wholly reliant on a bunch of White ranters or religious nutcases. 

In a two-pronged response, Douglass noted that, while in the North American struggle against slavery, ‘we, the coloured people’, had not yet played a significant role, this was not the case with Emancipation in the British West Indies. To the extent that they had been able to, the ‘rebellious chattel’ in Britain’s Caribbean colonies had strenuously resisted their oppression, and so ‘a share of the credit of the result falls justly to the slaves themselves’.

There had been slave rebellions which required the intervention of Imperial forces. The problem was that the American South could suppress any such revolt on their own. 

It is this insight that then leads Douglass to make his famous pronouncement: ‘The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle

Who didn't know this? Americans? Had they really forgotten their Revolutionary War? On the other hand, 'earnest struggle' was what had fucked up the less technologically advanced polities and what would fuck them up even more as the technological gap increased.  

… Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will.’ With an irony he was probably unaware of at the time – news of the Indian ‘Mutiny’ was only slowly making its way to and around Europe and America

Why couldn't this cretin just Google- 'first American newspaper report of Indian Mutiny'- before writing this stupid shit? She would immediately have seen that Douglass had already been apprised of the facts for a month before he made this speech.  

– Douglass quietly observed that some white abolitionists actively discouraged black initiative, expecting black abolitionists to ‘fight like the Sepoys of India, under white officers’.

Gopal may be too ignorant to know that more 'sepoys' fought for the Brits during the Mutiny, then against them. What Douglass is saying is clear. Even if some White ranters think that Blacks will provide cannon fodder for their cause- and even if they get some seemingly obedient 'Sepoys'- still those Sepoys might mutiny if it were in their interest to do so. Essentially, Douglass is hinting that emancipated Blacks would not automatically be part of any existing political camp. In other words, there could be broad, non partisan, support for this cause. 

This, Douglass says, must not deter him and others who would struggle for their own freedom; it is ‘no part of gratitude to allow our white friends to do all the work, while we merely hold their coats’. As he was speaking, of course, the ‘sepoys’ had, in fact, risen against their white officers in a bloody insurgency

of which he and his audience were fully aware because they read the newspapers 

that would alter the shape of the British Empire for good, ending the rule of the marauding East India Company in the subcontinent as the Crown took over full governance of British India.

 In other words, the fiction of Mughal rule was dispensed with. Why does Gopal think this was an improvement? 

Well over the century and a half since Douglass gave that speech, the notion that freedom from both slavery and imperial rule emerged thanks to the benevolence of the rulers continues to exercise a tenacious hold within certain influential strands of British imperial history and in the popular imagination.

No it doesn't. This is a convenient strawman for Gopal. However, the fact remains that some victories over slavery or foreign rule were conceded without much of a fight because a military solution could not pay for itself. But we can see that sort of thing happening in Afghanistan and Iraq and so forth.  

Both abolition and decolonisation – twin outcomes of Britain’s expansionary colonial project over three centuries – are all too frequently regarded as deriving chiefly from the campaigning consciences of white British reformers or as the logical outcome of the liberal and liberalising project that empire ostensibly always was, conquering in order to free.

Gopal may be correct about certain worthless University Departments which should be defunded or abolished. On the other hand, if we accept her argument, the corollary would be that we should ignore virtue signalers and 'progressive' intellectuals because they achieved nothing in the past and will achieve nothing in the future. They are a nuisance simply.  

Despite an abundance of histories of resistance, and not only from a nationalist perspective, which make clear the constitutive role of resistance to the imperial project, ‘imperial initiative’ – colonies ‘given’ their freedom when they were deemed ready for it – as the motive force of decolonisation remains stubbornly entrenched in much political and public discourse in Britain.

Why? Because it was true. Unlike France or Holland, the Brits didn't quit only after a long, expensive, and ultimately doomed attempt to crush the Nationalists. This turned out to be a very profitable strategy.  

Where, for Douglass, the story of Emancipation specifically, and freedom more generally, was one of universal aspiration and shared struggles,

but Douglass was a pragmatist who ditched the Feminists so as to get the vote for Black men because the Nation was not ready for female suffrage.  

in its most influential and popular versions it continues to be figured as a capacious British, or now Anglo-American, franchise generously extended to peoples across the globe.

What it certainly wasn't was the product of the nuisance created by bullshitting ranters like Gopal.

Edward Said observed correctly that ‘a standard imperialist misrepresentation has it that exclusively Western ideas of freedom led the fight against colonial rule, which mischievously overlooks the reserves in Indian and Arab culture that always resisted imperialism, and claims the fight against imperialism as one of imperialism’s major triumphs’.

Said was an American citizen coz his daddy joined the American Expeditionary Force at a time when America was far more racist than any country it was fighting. There were no 'reserves' of 'Arab culture' in his own Eurocentric shite. The fucker thought the Zahirites were onto a good thing. Why not Salafis or Boko Haramis who would slit his own Protestant throat? 

Writing in the 1930s, G.M. Trevelyan, Regius professor of history at Cambridge, understood such extensions to be ‘pre-eminently a result of our free institutions, our freedom of speech and association, and all that habit of voluntaryism and private initiative’.

So, Gopal's magpie mind links Said to Trevelyan. The odd thing here is that Otto Trevelyan had written a famous book back in the 1860's showing that 'Anglo-Saxon' carpet-baggers were 'marauding' all over Post-Mutiny Bihar.  

Today, where imperial initiative is not actively given the credit for decolonisation, we are offered the claim, here articulated by David Cannadine, that the Empire ‘was given away in a fit of collective indifference’.

Cannadine, unlike Gopal, knows a lot about Britain and its history. Facts are facts. The Dutch and the French sent troops to fight in Indonesia and Vietnam. The Brits couldn't get their men out fast enough from India. Why? The Brits were indifferent to India's fate. They were welcome to starve or slaughter each other under leaders of their own. There is a story about Enoch Powell telling R.A Butler that he just needed a couple of Gurkha regiments to reconquer India. Butler thought the fellow mad- which of course he was.  

John Darwin, meanwhile, paraphrases that school of thought in terms of the notion that ‘the British colonial empire was liberated more by the indifference of its masters than the struggle of its subjects’.

Perfectly fair. Churchill, it is true, wasn't quite sane about India but he preferred to take a shilling off Income Tax rather than spend it on the Navy- thus safeguarding the Empire. What changed during the Second World War was Netaji Bose's ability to get Indian soldiers to change their loyalty. The Naval Ratings mutiny was the final nail in the coffin. The fact is, the British tax-payer- unlike the Dutch or French tax-payer- wasn't prepared to spend a penny on keeping India. That's what 'indifference' means. 

This does not mean that the 'struggle' of 'subjects' didn't matter. However, the Empire only existed because those subjects were mainly interested in struggling against each other thus requiring a British Umpire to maintain Pax Britannica. 

In either event, the ‘granting’ or ‘giving’ of independence to British colonies once they were deemed ‘ready’ for it, remains a cause for national self-congratulation;

Nations should congratulate themselves. It is foolish to say 'As a Nation we have a habit of eating our own shit.'  

it fits neatly into an equally familiar establishment mythology about ‘English capacities to reform without violence or rejecting valuable past practice’.

This mythology is useful to us Brits. Gopal may think we should have an alternative mythology in which Nelson was constantly sticking his hands into the seat of his pants and pulling out handfuls of his own feces which he proceeded to eat at Trafalgar. But Gopal isn't British- unless she has become a naturalized subject of the Crown since moving here.  

Like all mythologies, this too relies on the selective elision of key strands in the story.

But Gopal is incapable of understanding those 'key strands'. She has read the same speech of Fredric Douglass that we all did. But she jumped to the wrong conclusion- viz. that Douglass didn't know about the Siege of Kanpur though American newspapers (he himself edited one such) carried the news about a month before he gave this speech- and then went on to write ignorant nonsense in a manner that disgraces the Academy. 

Friday, 14 January 2022

Tim Bergin babbling on Aeon

Why did changes in the legal minimum wage scarcely impact employment in the US but have a significant impact in France? The answer, for anyone who knows anything about either country is that the French changes were not cosmetic and were in fact genuine real wage increases. In the US they were cosmetic and, furthermore, scope for capital deepening was greater because of scale economies and higher mobility. However, there is a narrow but not niggardly market for hacks who ignore the obvious and just babble modish nonsense.

Tim Bergin is a financial journalist. That's one step lower than an academic economist on the I.Q scale. He writes in Aeon- 


For the workers who are curious why their wages have not increased in the past decade –

 and whose spouses or parents aren't continually telling them it is coz they are as stupid as shit and utterly lack any sense of enterprise or get up and go

while the incomes of some, such as footballers, have soared

celebrity footballers- sure. But signing up a star means you can raise much more money and keep a cut 

– the Bank of England’s website has a reassuring message:

Coz guys in dead end jobs are constantly jerking off to stuff on the Bank of England website- right?  No doubt, they also turn to the Oscars website to get the reassuring message that they aren't Movie stars and thus should not bother attending the ceremonies to perform the chore of having to accept an award and then give an embarrassing speech.

‘There is a method to this madness: the economic theory of supply and demand’.

If you haven't had a raise in a long time it is because nobody is demanding to employ you at a higher wage in some other role. Don't be a shmuck. Make yourself attractive to better paying employers or move elsewhere.

The bank’s website provides an ‘idiot’s guide’ to the economy that explains how ‘Supply and demand is a bit like an economist’s version of the law of gravity. It decides how much everything costs: a cup of coffee, a house and even your salary.’

But we all already know this. Thus, when you ask for a raise, you mention how much another company has offered you. If your boss can't match it, you walk.  But this involves getting others to demand your services. This is something we all understand. It is easier to get married, if the other party is aware that you are much in demand. If nobody likes you, it is more difficult to get hitched. The same is true about popularity. Peeps who are 'in demand' get invited to more parties which in turn makes them more 'in demand'. 


The US Federal Reserve Bank provides similar explainers for Americans who

were actually looking for porn 

want to understand how their country’s wealth is created or allocated, including a colourful downloadable infographic that shows how higher prices create additional supplies of goods,

rather than teens going ass to mouth 

and lower prices create additional demand. On its website, the International Monetary Fund notes that supply, demand and price are ‘magic words’ that make the economist’s ‘heart beat faster’.

whereas for sensible people, those magic words are bukkake or tentacle porn.  

For the economists in the neoclassical tradition, as most are, the world can be understood as a series of supply-and-demand curves – the X-shaped graphs that Alfred Marshall first made for his book Principles of Economics (1890) and that now litter almost every chapter of almost every economics textbook. Humans might be occasionally irrational but, en masse, orthodox economics says they respond to prices in a consistent and proportional way.

They respond to rewards and punishments- unless they feel they deserve to be punished or no longer find anything rewarding. 

People have what economists call ‘price elasticities’

If they respond to price changes- sure. But they may not do so 

that make their behaviour predictable and open to manipulation.

But those elasticities can only be discovered after the fact. As for 'manipulation', why limit your paranoia? Why not suggest that everybody is being controlled by the neighbor's cat? 

Other factors such as technology, taste, the weather and institutions can also influence human economic behaviour. But economists see their impact either as modest or predictable, and thus capable of being factored in to supply-and-demand models.

Why? An economist may be paid a little money to advise on price changes. In return for that payment, the fellow may say- 'if you raise prices, people will buy less. They will go to your competitor'.  On the other hand, if you pay a witchdoctor, he might say 'If you sacrifice a goat to Satan, your competitor's dick will fall off'. 

This neoclassical perspective is widely, although not uniformly, accepted by world political leaders.

Coz it inspires more confidence in voters than getting naked at a Satanic orgy and chopping the head of a goat while demanding that Beelzebub bite off your rival's dick. 

It informs and underpins policies on taxation, spending, labour market regulation, health, the environment and more.

That's a good thing. The alternative is lots of goats getting slaughtered and Beelzebub biting dicks off.  

The problem, and a key reason why economic policy often fails, is that, while Isaac Newton’s law of gravity can predict behaviour at all times anywhere on this planet, these and other supposed economic laws often fail.

This is nonsense. Particle accelerators exist on earth. That's why we use 'modified Newtonian dynamics' but with a new generation of accelerators, MOND too may be modified.  

Take labour markets: the Bank of England’s and the US Federal Reserve’s claims that supply and demand determine wage rates, and that wage rates determine labour supply and demand, is not based on the best evidence. Economists know this too (we’ll get to that soon).

This is bizarre. Central Banks play role in setting wages. They publish reports from time to time with the aim of affecting expectations re interest rates. But publishing reports is not their function any more than providing coffee and biscuits is their function though, no doubt, such items may be provided to staff.

According to these supposed economics ‘laws’ (and a cheery video on the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis’s website), higher wages make people work more, and lower wages discourage people from seeking employment.

But nobody gives a shit about the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  So what if they have a crap video on their website? 

In the real world, however, study after study over the decades has failed to find evidence of people working longer hours in response to higher net wages (be that through direct salary increases or tax cuts).

But those studies were shit. What econ says is 'ceteris paribus'- other things being equal- higher prices increase supply. But other things may not be equal. In particular, the 'Income effect' of a price change may swamp the 'substitution effect'.  

Over the long term, the data even more strongly tell us that labour supply does not respond to wage rates.

Fuck off! The data shows labour supply increased coz peeps came emigrating to America coz real wages were higher.  Ask any immigrant if he is working harder now then when he was back home having three siestas a day. 

Since the mid-19th century, real wage rates have risen sharply but hours worked by individuals have fallen significantly.

But lots more people have turned up in those places. So total hours worked have increased.  

The labour supply curve doesn’t slope up as the supposed economic ‘laws’ dictate but downward.

Nonsense! It does in aggregate. People from all over the world turn up wherever wages are high and rising. On the other hand, for any given individual, the 'Income effect' of a higher wage could increase leisure preference. However, such individuals could also have market power such that their own reduction of labor supply raises their rate. That's why the guys at the top play more golf while those in the middle slog away all hours. 

To put it in terms the Bank of England might understand, the labour supply curve defies gravity.

The Bank of England doesn't worry about wage inflation because we aint living in the fucking Seventies.  Trade Union leaders aren't constantly popping into 10 Downing Street for 'beer and sandwiches'. On the other hand, the Government does need to raise wages for nurses and other people who have increased work-load due to COVID. No doubt, the cretin writing this for Aeon would not approve. We don't need to raise the reward for nurses. They will be happy to just work for free. 

In practical terms, this means that if policymakers are trying, for example, to bring more women into the labour market,

Why the fuck would they want to do that?  Women have shown that they aint shy or retarded creatures who have to lured out of their homes and cajoled or cudgeled into making themselves useful. It is a different matter that policy makers may want to virtue signal by saying that is what they are trying to do. But then, almost all the time, policies are shit which shitheads 'make'.  

then assessing the issue via the lens of neoclassical supply-and-demand curves is unlikely to help them formulate effective solutions.

Cool. Don't raise the wages for women. Cut them. Let them work for free. That sure will be great for the economy. 

Hence the failure of so many tax cuts or relaxations of employment protection rules to nudge the economies in Europe and North America towards higher employment and growth levels.

People whose taxes are cut don't give a fuck what claim is made in order to make it happen. Less employment protection means lower 'compliance costs' which means more profit. Why pretend that the guys who finance politicians aint doing it in order to have more money.  


Labour supply is more a function of culture and institutions than price,

So let's not pay the workers. Just give them the right type of culture and nice Institutions- like Labor Camps.  

and this is not a new idea.

Cult leaders have always known about how brain-washing can get you a slave labor force. 

In 1978, the American Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow stated plainly that the neoclassical article of faith that all markets clear – which is to say, settle on a price, where demand and supply are matched – was nonsense.

Wow! The guy discovered that 'gluts' occur only five thousand years after everybody else did. Markets don't clear. Sometimes there's just more fish, or grapes than people can consume. 

‘It is plain as the nose on my face that the labour market and many markets for produced goods do not clear in any meaningful sense,’ Solow wrote.

Which nobody who lived through the Great Depression didn't know. 

The failure of the neoclassical framework to explain important segments of economic life hasn’t dented economists’ faith in the universal applicability of supply and demand curves.

But supply and demand curves which hit the horizontal axis before they can meet- i.e. the market does not clear- are easy to draw.  In the Labor market, wage can't go to zero because workers have to eat in order to work. So some get jobs. Some don't. 

In the past 40 years or so, in fact, the trend has been to claim that such economic principles apply to more and more domains of life.

But, in the past 40 years, people have stopped paying any fucking attention to economists precisely because of globalized markets. 

Dig even a little into the data on tobacco taxes, and one is hit by some anomalies

Why dig at all? Like duties on alcohol or petrol, the thing was about revenue. 

Up to the 1980s, for example, smoking was seen as driven by cultural factors and the product’s addictive nature – researchers even struggled to get funding for studies that sought to investigate whether price could influence consumption.

Researchers struggling to get funding are as stupid as shit. Smoking like drinking 

But at the turn of the millennium, convinced by a raft of economic studies claiming to have established that smokers in developed countries had a clear and fixed ‘price elasticity’ with respect to tobacco, the World Health Organization declared price to be ‘the single most effective way to decrease tobacco use’. And, indeed, since 1980, real tobacco prices have increased as a result of taxes, and people are smoking less.

But Governments raised taxes to get revenue. Nobody gives a shit about the WHO- for very good reasons, as COVID has shown.  

Yet dig even a little into the data on tobacco taxes, and one is hit by some anomalies. Firstly, economists claim that the short-term price elasticity of demand for tobacco is around 0.4, and in the long term around 1 (meaning that a 1 per cent price drop would cause a 1 per cent rise in demand). If this is accurate, it means price increases drove the vast majority, or all, of the drop in smoking that occurred over the past 40 years. Given that in surveys most people say they quit for health reasons, this seems a stretch.

This is silly. When ciggies were cheap, peeps were constantly lighting up and then immediately stubbing them out- like in the old timey movies. People who didn't like ciggies still had ciggies. My parents didn't smoke but there was always a fresh pack of Benson & Hedges in the fancy Burmese Silver Cigarette tray. 

Second, the fact is that the pace of price increases and smoking rates are not well correlated. For example, the real price of cigarettes in Britain was lower in 1990 than in 1965, but per-capita consumption was 20 per cent lower.

Because pipes were still cool in the Sixties. Harold Wilson's pipe was considered sexy. By the Eighties only old men (and me) smoked pipes and the duty on them was much lower because pensioners were poorer back then. Still, it is true that people were quitting smoking or not taking it up because the English had become conscious that having horrible teeth and disgusting breath was reducing their chances of a bunk-up. Anyway, it was the char-lady who always had a fag protruding from the side of her face. 

On the other hand, some bulimic Sloanes and wannabe ballerinas were smoking like chimneys because they thought this would keep them thin. 

What really changed, beginning in the 2000s, was the culture around smoking.

And what really changed that culture was economic forces.  

The greatest indictment of the application of neoclassical price theory to smoking is the way those people with the least financial incentive to respond to the price signal appear to have responded most strongly, while those with the strongest incentive were not impelled to react. Today, in affluent neighbourhoods in Britain smoking rates are under 10 per cent, whereas in some poor ones it’s 50 per cent.

Because tobacco is a 'Giffen good'. As with other staples or addictive substances, as the poor pay more for it they have less to spend on other things with the result that they buy more of it. Currently you have a steak and a baked potato. Potato prices rise. You end up buying two potatoes and no steak to fill your tummy- if you are an abject loser. But there will always be an underclass of losers.  

If neoclassical theory were sound, those numbers would be reversed.

No. We expect richer people to have more access to 'gross substitutes'. We expect the abject and beaten down to have fewer and fewer options. 

Around the world, this trend is replicated. That’s a fundamental breach of neoclassical economic principles.

Not if- as cigarette companies do- you properly segment the market and discover the different types of representative agents it contains. Aggregation problems bedevil Econometrics, unless it actually pays somebody to find out the truth.  


The consequences of claiming that you’ve scientifically proven that consumption can be proportionately impacted by price manipulations is enormous.

Fuck off! There are no consequences whatsoever.  You can claim to have invented Time Travel till you are blue in the face and nobody will pay a blind bit of attention. However if you discover something useful and get very rich, people will beat a path to your door no matter where you hide yourself. 

In this case, for example, faith in the theory delayed by years all the health warnings, advertising restrictions and smoking bans – all those measures that really contributed to a denormalisation of smoking.

Fuck off! Governments saw taxes on tobacco as a cash cow. But once price elasticity increased, they had to look at the other side of the picture- viz. higher future spending on health care (sadly, the fucking Doctors were keeping working class males alive after they retired. This meant the Government couldn't cheat them out of their pensions and health entitlements). 


Some economists have questioned the profession’s obsession with price.

As opposed to what? Culture?  Do we really want Economists to be gassing on about how everybody should listen to Beethoven because this would incline them to work for free? 

In the later years of his long life, Ronald Coase,

who studied Commerce, not Econ, at the LSE because he wanted to be a Solicitor 

one of the most influential members of the conservative Chicago School of Economics, began to lament how economists in the 20th century had gone down the rabbit hole of focusing on price sensitivity.

Price sensitivity is about opportunity cost- i.e. what substitutes are available. Globalization means there are more substitutes. Elasticity increases. Pricing suddenly becomes very important. Ask the Rust Belt. They priced themselves out of the market and are now feeling very sorry for themselves.  

Coase's theorem, properly understood, says 'who owns what doesn't matter'. All that matters is who has the higher opportunity cost for a given resource. He can pay the other guy to use it or Society could allocate it to him. Provided deals can be made, deals will be made. 

He said that, rather than studying real-world wealth creation, as early economists such as Adam Smith sought to do, their successors had focused on building mathematical models of the world and probing datasets to find correlations consistent with the models.

Smith didn't make money. Ricardo did. Wealth creation was well enough understood because a lot of it was going on wherever you looked. Meanwhile a few people looking to enter service industries like the Law or Accountancy or the Government Bureaucracy or Journalism took a few courses in Econ at Uni. That's it. That's the whole story.  

Coase didn’t consider such work to be empirical, dismissing it as ‘blackboard economics’.

Coase, as a student of Sir Arnold Plant, had looked at how firms work and realized they 'internalize externalities'. However, if taxes or compliance costs increase, they can disaggregate and use contracts of adhesion to escape exploitation. 

In the past two decades, there’s been a turn against ‘blackboard economics’. Some younger economists have made careers out of going out and studying the world as it actually is, and deriving an economics – insights, conclusions and solutions – based on this empirical work.

Fuck making careers. Did they or did they not become mega-billionaires? That's the only question we are interested in. We all now understand that you are only a good economist if you are either making billions or saving somebody billions. Having a career talking stupid shite is about as impressive as making money of perverts on the internet who pay for live-cam footage of you taking a dump. 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley have been especially prodigious in producing such economists.

While China has risen and risen.  


Isaiah Andrews, one of these new ‘empiricists’, won the 2021 John Bates Clark Medal – the most distinguished economics prize in the United States. Andrews has worked on the problem of publication bias – whereby research that confirmed prior beliefs could have a better chance of being accepted by academic journals.

So the guy won a prize for showing that the stuff for which the prize is being awarded is worthless shit.  Cool. 


Melissa Dell, another of the new ‘empiricists’, won the 2020 Clark Medal for work that highlighted the importance of institutions in the development of economies.

And Clarissa Bell will win for highlighting the importance of economies for the development of Institutions and then Galissa Jell will win one for highlighting the importance of importance.  

Her award signalled a real shift.

Or an imaginary lift.  

For almost a century, the economics establishment has downplayed the role of institutions, in part because institutional factors don’t easily fit into the mathematical models that generate precise, scientific-looking results.

Actually, there is no difficulty in putting in proxies for them.  


The 2012 Clark medallist, Amy Finkelstein, has used randomised controlled trials in healthcare to understand how people use and are impacted by insurance coverage.

Though everybody else already understood this and then some.  

Her work has revealed how such markets can defy the laws of supply and demand,

This is nonsense. Her big discovery was that having health insurance improves health. However, everybody already knew that going to the Doctor improves health and that having medical insurance means you avail of medical remedies more often.

Without demand and supply there is no market. It can't defy shit because it doesn't exist.  

and shows that government intervention can help address market failures.

Or create them.  


Markets don’t respond, as neoclassical theory claims, to the sudden hike in wage rates

Yes they do. Short run elasticity may be low. Long term it is high.  


Another indication that economists have at last moved to study the world as it is, the award of the 2021 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences went to three empirical economists including David Card. Few people have been at the receiving end of the economic establishment’s ire as much as Card.

Utterly false. Card is a quiet Canadian who doesn't make waves. His work on post 1980 Cuban migrants to Miami, which did not greatly lower wages for the unskilled, is seen as pro-immigration which is what most economists are- either because they are of immigrant ancestry or because they are right wing or because of political correctness. 

However Card's work was obvious shit. Everybody had seen 'Scarface'. The knew about cocaine. The fact is the Cubans were both creating businesses and staffing them in a segregated manner. Consider the following- In 1977, Cubans owned 7 336 businesses in the Miami-Hialeah area, most of them in services, retail trade, and construction. By 1992, Cubans owned 46 900 firms. Clearly Card was a silly man- but all Nobel Prize winning Economists are silly. 

When Card’s work was first published, one Nobel laureate declared it ‘equivalent to a denial that there is even minimal scientific content in economics’.
That was Buchanan who was pretty old. I suppose he meant that this type of cherry picking made the profession look ideological, not scientific. But that boat had sailed over a decade previously.
Until the early 1990s, the accepted orthodoxy among liberal and conservative economists was that the minimum wage killed jobs.

No. What changed is that Union power had declined and so minimum wage laws could no longer be used to limit employer's ability to outsource which in turn reduced Union enrollment in a virtuous circle that broke the back of that beast. The problem was that the minimum wage would have to be linked to the 'replacement rate'- i.e. there would be a knock on effect on Social Security and other such entitlements.

One reason this whole issue doesn't greatly matter any more is that Federal States are extracting less and less from all but the upper quartile though immigration distorts this to some extent. This means that minimum wages are part and parcel of local 'Tiebout sorting'.  But this will favor indigenous people in various ways- in other words Labor won't be a commodity market. 
It simply had to, because the laws of supply and demand said the measure pushed the price of labour above the so-called ‘equilibrium wage ‘or clearing wage at which supply and demand were matched.

No doubt, there was a lot of hypocrisy- not to mention downright ignorance- in the profession. Still, back in the Eighties, it was not at all obvious that Unions might not make a comeback and increase their market power by raising the price of the substitute.

Card and his colleague Alan Krueger conducted studies that found, in a number of cases, that meaningful increases in the minimum wage had not led to lower employment in fast-food restaurants – the type of business commonly affected by the measure.

But the type and ownership of fast-food restaurants changed. In some cases there was capital deepening, in others there was increased self-employment or the substitution of those beneath the age of coverage.  

The research received a lot of publicity, and near total rejection by some of the most eminent economists, for example Gary Becker, Robert Barro and James Buchanan, who likened colleagues who accepted Card’s work to ‘camp-following whores’.

They needn't have bothered. Unions were dead in the water. The supposedly pro-Labor political parties didn't want to listen to Union bosses because they were stupid or evil or both stupid and evil. Still, political parties will take money from anybody- no matter how repulsive.  

In any case, it didn't matter what type of drive by regression you did to get your Junk Social Science PhD, new technology was making skills of that sort reasonably remunerative. Indeed, smart guys like Bezos could make big money out of Econ PhDs. 


History, however, has been on Card’s side. Study after study (140 in the UK alone) has found that even large increases in the minimum wage have failed to lift unemployment.

These are meaningless studies. If you have eyes in your head- or just ears to catch all the new foreign languages being spoken on the streets- to realize that ceteris has not been paribus. 

Labour and product markets don’t respond, as neoclassical theory claims, to the sudden hike in wage rates.

So lets not raise the wages of nurses in the NHS. See how that works out. This is the other side of the coin. 

First, employers in the US and Europe have reported that they can easily pass on minimum wage increases to customers.

In the short-run- sure.  Then China eats your lunch and suddenly everybody is flipping pizzas for Chinese tourists and thus too busy to wonder when it all began to go wrong. 

To ‘blackboard’ economists this makes no sense – after all, if customers were prepared to accept higher prices, the companies would have already tried to increase them. But it appears the wage hike fundamentally changes the behaviour of both employer and customer in a way for which theory cannot account.
Yes it can. Previously, there was a Nash equilibrium. After the public signal re. minimum wages, there was an Aumann correlated equilibrium. 
In effect, we see that consumers of services or goods do not have fixed preferences; they either do not have a price elasticity of demand, or it’s so subject to change that estimates of it are as useless as predictive tools.

Rubbish. Smart people get rich because they have an intuition as to the direction of that elasticity though its computation is in a higher time class.  Econ isn't like Physics. Ordinary people have never met a quark. But guys who don't know the meaning of 'Shapley value' have better intuition for what it might be, than any game theorist, in contexts familiar to them. This is because they have superior ideographic knowledge. 


Card’s Nobel Prize is a sign of economics advancing along scientific principles of learning from its previous errors.

No. It is a sign that there's been a big literature on this.  

A clearer sign is the fact of governments in the UK and Germany, which had been sceptical about minimum wages, proceeded in 1999 and 2015 respectively to introduce them.

With the result that Income inequality increased.  

Yet every introduction of a minimum wage and every above-inflationary increase is met with warnings from the economic establishment.

Who get paid just as this cretin is paid.  

For example, when Germany proposed a minimum wage, the state-appointed panel of economic experts known colloquially as Germany’s ‘wise men’ called the suggestion that the measure would not kill jobs ‘a vast illusion’.

It killed a lot of micro firms which raised productivity overall. On the other hand, in some sectors, this may reduce dynamic efficiency. But Germany may have missed that boat anyway. The bigger problem that country faces is the depopulation of the East. However, it should be noted that poverty and welfare dependency have not been affected. There are also some questions about enforcement. It may be that the biggest overall effect will, with hindsight, prove to be reinforcement of an ethnically segregated Labor market. 

More recently, the economist Larry Summers warned last year that US President Joe Biden’s proposal for a $15 minimum wage would cause employers to ‘shift away from the most vulnerable and inexperienced workers’, while Britain’s most widely cited economic forecaster, the Institute of Fiscal Studies, warns at least once a year about the potential employment effects of the UK’s typically modest minimum wage increases. Card told me that outside the field of labour economics, where scholars had studied the subject in detail, many of his fellow economists still struggled to accept the findings.

But they still get paid for repeating the same shite year after year, decade after decade.  This journalist can then get to recycle this same article ad nauseam.

Incidentally Aeon has very kindly deleted my comment on this crap. I offer it to you here-

Economists know that the Economic theory of Economic credentials emphasizes the worthlessness of the content of what is taught or said. The thing is merely a screening and signalling device. In other words, an Economist is a guy whom for a modest wage, you can get to spout sycophantic drivel while being very very boring and stupid. On the other hand, you can hire quants with a bit of Econ and point them at specific things and pay them quite well while yourself, like Bezos, becoming a mega billionaire. In my experience it is always possible to find one guy- even one with an Econ PhD- who has the sensible solution to the underlying problem. But that’s why you need the other, celebrity-craving, tossers to cater to the demand created both by rent seekers as well as that which would exist for prudential reasons (i.e. we may not want a particular regime to succeed because this will embolden them to do something utterly bonkers). All the examples given in this essay are foolish. They point to the shitty nature of Econometrics, by reason of aggregation problems, not to any great fault with the neo-classical model adjusted for Knightian Uncertainty. Everything mentioned in this essay as an indictment of Marshallian econ was known by the end of the nineteenth century though some technical terms were invented afterwards. Thus the ‘Giffen good’ whose consumption rises amongst the poor (or addicted) as its price rises was known to Marshall though perhaps Slutsky’s analysis of the Income and Substitution effects and Hicks’s work on this were not known. By the late Seventies, almost all the mathematical tools were available to recast Econ theory in perfectly ‘realistic’ terms. However because of Goodhart’s Law type problems it was always the case that Econometrics would harm policy making. Coase, of course, wasn’t Coasian. He originally studied Commerce to become a Solicitor. It is enough to displace Mathematical Econ by a Muth Rational and ‘Hannan Conistent’ type of ‘Law & Econ’ for a perfectly servicable positive Econ to exist. Here, instead of ‘duality’ you would have ‘adjointness’ by reason of not optimization but regret minimization- i.e the thing would be Category Theoretical not stupidly Topological. Why hasn’t this happened? The answer is the same as why Professors of Philosophy or Literature or History or other such ‘sub-Humanities’ are utterly stupid, ignorant and paranoid. Briefly, only careerist cretins will do PhDs in that nonsense and so those subjects have become adversely selective. In Econ, this doesn’t matter at all because computing power and data accessibility have increased exponentially. Smart dudes can just get very very rich and then, like Soros, hire utter imbeciles so as to destroy in advance their own vision for the world. There are some mathsy Economists- Aumann, Myerson even Chichilnisky when young- whom I liked. But then I once rated David Lewis!- but the Maths had moved on and even ignorant hicks like me, thanks to Wiki and Stack Exchange, can now very quickly gain and flesh out superior insights after a bit of Googling while sipping a Rum & Coke. But this is a pretty useless activity befitting only a Socioproctologist- i.e. a guy who gets his jollies by pointing a finger at stupid Academic assholes. Economia is discovery. Akreibia is as Wittlesstein put it ‘shitting higher than your arsehole’. Economists and Economics as a subject should have no impact whatsoever. It is stupid and makes its minions stupider than they need to be. Mimetics- imitating what smart peeps be doin’- is all that matters. Sadly, I am the sole member of the Institute of Socioproctology (where I’ve been demoted to Asst. Director after a Me Too incident involving allegations of self-abuse) and thus Tardean Mimetics rules out any major reform of Econ as a profession. Vide https://socioproctology.blogspot.com/2019/03/keyness-big-mistake-thinking-economists.html (https://socioproctology.blogspot.com/2019/03/keyness-big-mistake-thinking-economists.html)