World view – Wednesday

Tuesday GMT


For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.

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  1. The Consultant

     /  5th December 2018

    Interesting article from an always interesting writer, Culture Matters. Some sample quotes:

    Libertarians and classical liberals know and care about government. They know and care economics. They don’t know or care about culture.

    One result is that, when faced with cultural outcomes they dislike, people who surely know better fall back on explanations that sound eerily reminiscent of how leftists and populists describe markets.

    Either a small group of powerful people determine the public’s attitudes and behaviors or somewhere there’s a magic lever and if we could find it and pull it everybody would agree with us. We just need a good documentary film and more celebrities.


    The mid-20th century period in which the modern libertarian movement arose is now looked upon with great nostalgia, especially in the United States. As my friend Brink Lindsey puts it, the right wants to live there and the left wants to work there.

    Well, not this Righty, but I can’t think of many Leftists in the West who don’t pine for the good old 1950’s economies. Postral also makes the point that the 1950’s effectively produced the 1960’s, with numerous writers becoming household names by getting stuck into the “Ike Age” (Hat Tip, Rocky Horror Picture Show).

    She highlights a couple of examples of how these cultural challenges and changes mixed with economic changes, first with the example of fashion designer John Galliano, who was born in Gibraltar and grew up in South London as the son of a plumber. His career was made possible by two cultural phenomena: Thatcherism and punk. Punk brought together kids of all classes, while Thatcher’s economic reforms encouraged entrepreneurship. There’s a great quote on his example.

    Same in the USA, but in a different world from fashion:

    In 1956, defying the era’s powerful norms of corporate loyalty, a group of engineers dubbed “The Traitorous Eight” left Shockley Semiconductor to start their own company, Fairchild Semiconductor.

    That startup gave rise to a second generation of companies, including Intel, which gave rise to still others, and on and on. As Silicon Valley grew, employee behavior once deemed traitorous became the new, much-admired norm of high-tech entrepreneurship. Would we admire that behavior if it didn’t produce wealth?

    A shift in cultural norms contributed to and had feedback from the economics of the marketplace.

    Finally there’s this quote, which refers to something we all tend to forget about (including Lady Luck):

    …we should not confuse what the market values at a given point in time with what is meritorious. Market value is strictly a matter of relative scarcity—of supply and demand…

    Commanding a higher salary doesn’t demonstrate your intrinsic superiority. Your economic value is historically contingent and separate from your merit.

    Naturally people who think their merit should command higher pay don’t appreciate such cold analysis. And economically successful people absolutely hate the idea.

    I always enjoy the teeth-grinding that happens whenever some academic casts an envious eye at the annual income of people in sports.

    • Gezza

       /  5th December 2018

      I’m always amazed that anybody even pays sportspeople that much. No worries though. They get sod all out of me.


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