If You Don’t Like Rainy-Day Funds, Then Quit Doing Rain Dances
September 27, 2011, 11:05 pm
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A lot of people have made it a standard feature of their Reality-Based economic commentary that companies are ‘sitting on piles of cash’, with the implication being that the job #1 of a self-styled economy-fixer is to think of clever or innovative ways to cajole, trick, stimulize, ‘nudge’, or otherwise get companies to not ‘sit on’ so much ‘cash’. That – it is thought, via the standard Keynesian axiom that spending means wealth – is a key to ‘getting the economy running again’.

I think this is a case of what, I assume, are basically correct facts (companies holding lots of cash) being misdiagnosed. Let me try to help by suggesting that instead of ‘piles of cash’ we all start thinking of that cash as a rainy-day fund.

Now restate the complaint: lots of companies are holding larger-than-normal rainy-day funds. The good thing about this construction is that it naturally leads to a question: Why?

There’s only one rational answer: Because they think they might need it. But why would they think that?

Again, the answer is almost obvious: Because in their estimation, they are likely to face larger costs and/or smaller profit margins down the road.

What, I wonder, could possibly give companies that idea? Could it have something to do with – current government policy?

This constructively turns what has heretofore been a puerile, impotent whine (‘companies are sitting on too much cash!’) into a problem that appears to have a straightforward solution. The problem, clearly, is that these companies that are sitting on piles of cash holding larger rainy-day funds in reserve view their projected costs as high and/or profits as low. Any solution, then, would presumably address this directly – not by whining at companies to ‘stop holding cash’, but by looking for ways to reduce the costs they think they’ll face. In particular, to remedy this, the actual motivation behind ‘holding too much cash’, would require something approaching a Maneuver X.

This runs directly counter, of course, to the ongoing ‘progressive’ project of continually arguing for the government to go and get lots and lots of money from other people and from corporations in particular. Unfortunately, the people most energetically whining daily about ‘sitting on cash’ tend to be the same people most opposed to any form of Maneuver X and most psychologically committed to having the government not only do all the intervening and regulation-making it’s been doing, but doing a whole heck of a lot more of it. One could call this a classic case of cognitive dissonance, but on reflection I think this would require the people doing it to be aware of the internal contradiction inherent in their position.

Who On Earth Is ‘Elizabeth Warren’?
September 27, 2011, 9:41 pm
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Glenn Reynolds has some more responses to ‘Elizabeth Warren’. Funny, but seriously, who is this person and why are we studying these words of hers like they’re from the Talmud? I am being 100% serious here, I have no idea who this woman is or why it matters what she says or why her face would be put on some .gif next to some words she said. Lots of humans say lots of things we don’t put them all on .gifs next to transcribed text versions of those things.

Who is she??

In any event I still say my response suffices: the thing ‘Elizabeth Warren’ said/wrote is not an argument for something. It is not an argument for anything. I might be more inclined to respond to an argument if one were on offer. Next.

The Beginning Of Infinity
September 27, 2011, 9:34 pm
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I’m currently reading The Beginning Of Infinity by David Deutsche. It is about everything. Although I am only around 3/4 through it, I feel the need to plug it here because I haven’t seen much discussion of it out there. You should read it if you like ideas and most other things.

Here is a good interview with Deutsche by Elliot Temple, who says Infinity is “the best book ever written”.

September 27, 2011, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I heard that the (R)s have some other candidate now named Herman Cain who called President Obama a liar. It’s very sad to see in this day and age, but there’s really only one explanation here: Herman Cain is clearly a racist.

Sustainability: The Conservatism Of Our Age
September 27, 2011, 3:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

People who want ‘sustainability’ want to freeze everything in place. We need to use exactly all the same stuff, in the same ways, in the same amounts, indefinitely. If it looks like we won’t be able to in some respect, and would have to change something, this bothers them.

Why are people attracted to such a philosophy? Because they like the way things are. A traditional reason people like the way things are, of course, is that their lives are nice and comfy, full of wealth and ease and privilege.

This is what ‘sustainability’ is primarily designed to protect, then: its advocates’ privilege. It’s a modern expression of conservatism, in other words.

But it’s a conservatism in disguise, in denial about what it is, because its self-loathing adherents are psychologically incapable of admitting that they seek their own privilege. Hence, from time to time some Third Worlders or situations get drafted as mascots or poster-children for this philosophy, when its inherent conservatism and privilege/status-seeking nature needs to be masked.

All of which is a somewhat longwinded way of saying, I think this may be how you end up with atrocities such as this:

…in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming.

The case twists around an emerging multibillion-dollar market trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mechanisms for outsourcing environmental protection to developing nations.

The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad.

You’re so progressive, progressives. You’re so progressive.

Questions You Should Be Prepared To Field While Watching Part of Tron: Legacy (With A Four Year Old)
September 27, 2011, 3:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Is he a bad guy?
  2. If he’s a good guy why does he look mean?
  3. Are those the bad guys?
  4. Which ones are the bad guys here?
  5. Why is the good guy talking to the bad guy?
  6. Is the guy with a beard a bad guy?
  7. Where are they going?
  8. Why do they want to go to the portal?
  9. Is the girl a person or a program?
  10. Can she come to the people world?


  1. No, he’s the good guy.
  2. Because he has to fight that bad guy over there with a disc.
  3. Yes.
  4. The ones in orange are the bad guys. The ones in white are the good guys.
  5. He doesn’t know he’s a bad guy yet.
  6. No, he’s the good guy who got stuck in the computer world.
  7. To the portal.
  8. To get back to the people world.
  9. A program.
  10. We don’t know yet. But probably.

Question you will not have to field (thank goodness): Why does the bad guy look like the good guy without a beard? (Four year old doesn’t notice)


Giants Wrapup: Noruneyball Beats Moneyball
September 27, 2011, 2:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In the early ’00s, Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s set the world on fire with “Moneyball”, a game-changing philosophy of how to win most efficiently with a constrained budget. And it worked, sort of (the A’s made the playoffs a few years in a row). But they never won the World Series.

At the end of the decade, their cross-Bay rivals the San Francisco Giants went for a different approach, one I’ve christened “Noruneyball”. The way Noruneyball works is that you try to win while scoring as few runs as possible. The fewer the better! Part of the Noruneyball philosophy says that you should want to pack your lineup with overpaid has-beens.

‘A guy who made the All-Star team like, five years ago’ is a perfect, gritty, no-nonsense Noruneyball type player. Give him a $21 million/3 year contract, run him out there, and you can count on him to put up .220 numbers with single digit homers. That’s exactly the type of player you want if you’re implementing Brian Sabean’s new Noruneyball strategy.

Interestingly, in a stunning rebuke to Billy Beane and his sad, dwindling Moneyball followers, Noruneyball works: The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year while having a perfectly sucky offense almost incapable of scoring runs.

None of us expected that Sabes could top that magnificent display, but this year, I have to hand it to him, he did it. Not only couldn’t this year’s Giants score runs but I’m not sure they even got any hits. Sabean, along with what I can only assume must be a crack team of Harvard quants, somehow managed to assemble one of the absolute suckiest baseball offenses of all-time. And the result? They didn’t make the playoffs, but once again a winning season.

But to you Moneyball naysayers, all I have to say is: “scoreboard”. How many World Serieses did your guys win trying to (LOL) ‘get on base’ all the time? Ha don’t even answer that cuz you know you got no comeback. Noruneyball 1, Moneyball 0.


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