Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Incomplete thoughts on Delong's question

So Delong wonders how we can smooth the skew in the income distribution from having a information economy in the US (or perhaps a better paraphrase is his assertion that the US is the information part of the world-wide economy) and having patents and copyrights as the only means to administer (most) intellectual property rights.

Wouldn’t risk averse agents insure against this randomness in firms that pool the results of intellectual inquiry (with properly designed contracts to incentivize effort, i.e. make tenure, become partner)? Isn’t this almost exactly the MSFT business model?

This sort of model would have to be extended further, but I suppose it could be possible to pay everyone, from gardeners to geophysicists, for their time spent thinking in the shower, on the chance that they will come up with a great idea. I envision firms that could rate people as efficiently on prospects for invention as they can now with prospect for default, competing against each other for the marginal inventor/citizen. A sentence that uses the word blogs and/or blogads should be in this paragraph.

The questions that remain are why is this process so slow, what is the role of government, and would it make more sense for entities like GOOG to manage it or the Government?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Germanization as Anti-Angell Rationale

So I am doing a little work on my current paper (in my day job) by fleshing out some historical anecdotes about how much of Eurasia was as thoroughly raped as the Americas or SE Asian colonial possessions because most it was also at some point a colonial possession of some other country, when it occurs to me that Germanization is an example of the anti-Angell rationale for war. Lower classes in Germany became middle and upper class in Bohemia.

As a brief review, I posit here that Norm “War is impossible because it costs everyone involved more economic resources then they could possibly gain due to the destructiveness of modern weapons,” Angell is incorrect since he does not consider the value of relative social position, which can neither be created nor destroyed. Essentially, non-elites attempt to advance their position by becoming the elites over foreign populations (native elites are usually successful at directing the angst of the demos outward instead of allowing for internal social mobility).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Something I've been thinking about

Are we witnessing the high water mark for democracy? While democracy is wonderful at eliminating corruption, it seems to be belligerent, contentious, and spendthrift.

And let me be clear, I am talking about the process of legitimating societal mores by collective expression of assent, not “freedom of expression” or other such inalienable rights. Democracy is not a very good guarantor of such rights.

Indeed, it seems that America, as a (somewhat) stable and successful “democracy,” was a novelty for quite some time before Britain and France finally also began to self identify as democracies. However, as I have stated previously, I believe that the success of our system is due mainly to its anti-democratic aspects (I could also add that the success of the British system may also be attributable to similar anti-democratic components).

However, it seems like democracy may be manifesting one of its flaws in the US currently, in the form of a massive government budget deficit. I am not entirely certain that democracy can deal with this problem. Saving money means spending political capital, and successful politicians tend to prefer saving the latter by spending the former. The problem of our growing debt could eventually fester into a serious threat to global stability.

More immediate is the situation in Israel. There, the will of the majority of Palestinians seems to be acceding to the idea of war with Israel. Does this assent legitimate that belligerence?

Less immediate is China. Would they be correct to allow the hundreds of millions of poor dissatisfied peasants in their country to express that dissatisfaction? In other words, would they be correct to put the operation of the largest political-military entity in the world into the hands of angry people with a 5th grade education? In all likelihood, the Chinese elites will direct that anger and resentment at an external foe (probably Japan) in order to protect their own position in society.

So for now, I leave the solution as an exercise for the reader.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

9-11 9-11 9-11, I do what I want!

Some gay dude on Fire Island wants to bring his dog onto the nude beach:

JULY 13--A New York man who says that he suffers from a debilitating skin condition and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the September 11 attacks is suing for the right to have his rat terrier accompany him to a naked beach on Fire Island.
My impression:

"9-11 9-11 9-11, I do what I want, 9-11 9-11."
And who can blame him? It seems to have worked for the Republicans, so far.