Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interesting Times

I'm not particularly afraid of what's happening.  I'm young, I have a career in a field which is not merely in demand but hopelessly understaffed, and I save a substantial portion of my income and still have substantial room to make cuts in my lifestyle.

We're rapidly approaching a dead end, and are still accelerating.  Libertarians have been predicting this moment for something like twenty years - the brief respite of the Clinton era, funded largely by a technology bubble, was not enough and will not return.  We consume and spend too much, and the hard stop is looming ever-closer.

The far left has proposed a budget which increases spending and relies on economic growth to survive.  Republicans have proposed a budget which decreases spending, but not nearly enough; it merely postpones disaster.  Many on the left honesty believe that printing off more money to finance the federal budget is fine, and many on the right honestly believe we can get out of the mess we've put ourselves in by blaming the left and cutting their programs only.

We live in Interesting Times.

I'm a hardcore Objectivist, but one thing makes me different from many of my fellows - I believe rule of law trumps final destination.  How we get there is more important than that we get there.  That's not what makes me different.  What makes me different is that this applies not only to the way things should be run, but how we get to the point where things are running that way.

Any change must be gradual; we can call businesses or individuals parasites until we're blue in the face, but ultimately people have structured their lives and business plans around expectations which the government has created, and government must allow sufficient time for plans to change; it is not merely destructive to change the rules on short notice, it is immoral, for the same reasons that government changing the laws under which contracts are governed and making those laws apply retrospectively to contracts signed before the law was passed would be/is immoral.

Rule of Law is not merely a pragmatic position, but a principled one, and it takes precedence.  Rapid changes to the way our society is structured are not principled, they're arbitrary.

A principled position dictates therefore that we cannot even make the changes we need to make right now.  They needed to have been made twenty years ago; it's too late now, and we're in for some pain.

The changes that are necessary?  Taxes increasing over a period of five years, and then decreasing again over the next five.  We can't expect to grow our way out of this problem.

Spending decreasing over the same ten year period.  Regularly.  Social programs have not achieved what they set out to achieve; scrap them, but do so gradually.  People need to be able to plan for changes in our societal structure, remember.

Scrap social security over the next years, sunsetting further benefits so that after the ten year period, nobody is due for new benefits (leaving existing benefits in place until the people in question die.).  We should not ever be -obligated- to be in debt, which is what Social Security amounts to.


H/T: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/06/free-market-harassment.html
Link to article: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1743691&http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1743691##

Short of the article: Women get paid higher wages in jobs with higher levels of sexual harassment directed at women.

The surprising piece of information to me is that men demand higher wages still to put up with sexual harassment directed at men.

Hansen's point revolves around the idea that this wage premium makes sexual harassment in some sense okay, a proposition I agree with; wage premiums for sexual harassment are a natural extension of my belief in the legalization of prostitution.  Nobody who thinks prostitution should be legalized should be opposed to this.  (I would like the facts of which companies and occupations which have high levels of sexual harassment to be public knowledge, to optimize this relationship, and ensure that men and women negotiate for fair compensation in advance.)

My point is going to be directed at the fact that men demand higher premiums - this fact flies in the face of my expectations.

There are a few different possible explanations; one could be that averseness to sexual harassment is more extreme in women than in men (that is, more women than men who do not want sexual harassment are not willing to put up with it for any price premium, or put the price premium out of the market).  Another could be that the study itself is flawed, something I never discount.

One possibility I cannot exclude, however, is that men are simply more averse to sexual harassment, and are more likely to leave such a job, or to demand higher wages to put up with it.  Rephrased conversely, in a way that matches my expectations more closely - women are more likely to put up with such a job without posing any additional demands.

I insistently believe that the solution to many of the problems women deal with is not to raise boys more like girls, but to raise girls more like boys.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Nobody should study martial arts for the purpose of self defense without also studying the use of firearms; in order to be capable of reacting appropriately to firearms, you must not only understand them, you must understand how your opponent will use them, what mistakes your opponent is like to make, and what his weaknesses will be.

Every martial artist should be proficient in the use of firearms if he takes self-defense seriously.

Studying martial arts without studying firearms is studying the punch without studying the block.