Author Archives: Dumbagent

Inequality is relative too

From Dr Arthur Shenfield’s Myth & Reality in Economic Systems:

 We have already noted that in capitalism wealth comes to those who serve the masses.  Thus in capitalism the inequality of condition is little more than the difference between the Cadillac and the Chevrolet, the Parisian couturier’s model and the excellent mass-produced copies of it, caviar and the equally nutritious cod’s roe. In pre-capitalist societies it was the difference between the mansion and the hovel, between silks and rags, between exquisite luxury and frequent famine.

In socialist societies it is between the luxurious country villa and the miserable worker’s flat, between the special shops carrying high-quality goods imported from capitalist countries reserved for the Party elite and the endless queueing for the shoddy products of socialist industry imposed on the masses.

Piketty on US Inequality

As explained in

Piketty is being celebrated for supposedly demonstrating that the deep structures of capitalism tend toward ever-greater inequality. But in the United States—the most unequal of all the advanced economies—the main explanation offered for the growing gap between rich and poor is that 100,000 or so corporate managers are being overpaid. What’s getting all the attention is Piketty’s depiction of rising inequality as the tragic flaw at the heart of the entire capitalist economic system. But what’s really going on, at least according to Piketty, is a comparatively narrow and shallow problem of corporate governance.

Happy Birthday Ocean

In honor of book author and founding member Ocean Gebhardt’s birthday, a collage of photos representing some of our favorite posts (click on the images to be taken to the posts).

An Alternative to our most inefficient form of transportation

An Alternative to our most inefficient form of transportation

Proving the dead weight loss of Christmas

Proving the dead weight loss of Christmas

The face you get if you tell him markets are a zero sum game

The face you get if you tell him markets are a zero sum game

And, just for the record, how he actually looks when he is debating the great theories and ideas you read in this blog:





Deirdre McCloskey: market-tested innovation

I cite a citation:

Think of the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, big wealth accumulators in recent times. It wasn’t the magic of compound interest on capital that made them rich; it was intellectual property. They created billions of dollars of business from virtually nothing at all. If you measure the profits as a return on the small amount of initial capital invested, then it looks huge; but capital was no more important an ingredient of the original Apple or Microsoft than cookies or cucumbers.


Capitalism’s nature is not, contrary to Piketty’s claim, to forever protect and augment existing capital.  Central to capitalism’s nature is what McCloskey calls “market-tested innovation.”  And this innovation inevitably destroys the value of older, less-productive capital that is in competition with with it – in competition with the new capital, the new goods, the new production and consumption processes, and the new knowledge that innovative entrepreneurs create.

All at Cafe Hayek.

Words to ponder

From Coyote Blog, on education and affirmative action.

My only thought on this is one I have had a long time about colleges and diversity.  Universities are, if anything, institutions based on ideas and thought.  So it has always been amazing to me that university diversity programs focus not on having a diversity of ideas, but on have a diversity of skin pigment and reproductive plumbing.

I’ll have a large slice of employment, please

Thomas Dalrymple responds to Paul Krugman Slice of Labour.

He concludes:

Mr Krugman’s argument is not the argument in favor of labor market rigidity as above, however. He is what one might call a slice-of-cake man, where an economy is a cake to be sliced rather than a dynamic organism to be nurtured, and where supply and demand can be managed without reference to price. There may be cruder economic ideas, but I don’t know what they are. He is also, of course, a proponent of ever-greater government stimuli to the economy. In this article, he quotes John Maynard Keynes on the dangerous influence of ideas. I wish he had quoted Keynes’ eloquent words on the effects, social, psychological and economic, on the debauchment of the currency.