nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
To listen to some leftists, you'd think there's something filthy about doing things to make a profit. After all, anything that's done for profit is going to be the worst feasible quality offered for the highest possible price.

However, when I look at much of what I buy, I see that much of what I buy is decent stuff and not terribly expensive

To listen to some libertarians and right-wingers, you'd think that government is nothing but theft and murder and power-grabbing, and all it can do is spread misery.

However, I can see that a lot of government services are at least decent and genuinely useful.

What's going on? After all, the leftists and the libertarians are pointing to some real incentives and processes.

People I've floated these ideas to have suggested that government keeps business from being as awful as it might be. Government does exert *some* pressure on price and quality (not always in the direction one would wish--see price supports), but there isn't nearly enough government to *make* companies offer stuff that's fit to buy.

I believe that what's mostly going on for both business and government is a combination of the desire to do things well (distributed through all levels of the organizations) and habit/tradition/inertia which can lead to defaults of accomodating the people one is dealing with.

If my theory is correct, you want organizations which are somewhat responisive to incentives, but complete responiveness to simple incentives is *not* what you want. See this article about Walmart--they keep squeezing their suppliers till some of the suppliers lower quality or go out of business.

Here's my prediction about Walmart (I was wrong about the election, but that isn't going to stop me)--they'll keep squeezing their suppliers until Walmart becomes known as a place to buy crap, and it will gradually go under itself. Maybe they can prevent this by focusing on quality as well as price, but that would take a huge change in company culture and it's hard to imagine doing it successfully.

On the government side, you want them to care about elections, but you can't afford to have that be the only thing.

There's a bit in Gregory Bateson about how living systems never try to maximize just one thing.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
To listen to some leftists, you'd think there's something filthy about doing things to make a profit. After all, anything that's done for profit is going to be the worst feasible quality offered for the highest possible price.

However, when I look at much of what I buy, I see that much of what I buy is decent stuff and not terribly expensive

To listen to some libertarians and right-wingers, you'd think that government is nothing but theft and murder and power-grabbing, and all it can do is spread misery.

However, I can see that a lot of government services are at least decent and genuinely useful.

What's going on? After all, the leftists and the libertarians are pointing to some real incentives and processes.

People I've floated these ideas to have suggested that government keeps business from being as awful as it might be. Government does exert *some* pressure on price and quality (not always in the direction one would wish--see price supports), but there isn't nearly enough government to *make* companies offer stuff that's fit to buy.

I believe that what's mostly going on for both business and government is a combination of the desire to do things well (distributed through all levels of the organizations) and habit/tradition/inertia which can lead to defaults of accomodating the people one is dealing with.

If my theory is correct, you want organizations which are somewhat responisive to incentives, but complete responiveness to simple incentives is *not* what you want. See this article about Walmart--they keep squeezing their suppliers till some of the suppliers lower quality or go out of business.

Here's my prediction about Walmart (I was wrong about the election, but that isn't going to stop me)--they'll keep squeezing their suppliers until Walmart becomes known as a place to buy crap, and it will gradually go under itself. Maybe they can prevent this by focusing on quality as well as price, but that would take a huge change in company culture and it's hard to imagine doing it successfully.

On the government side, you want them to care about elections, but you can't afford to have that be the only thing.

There's a bit in Gregory Bateson about how living systems never try to maximize just one thing.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
I've been feeling sure that Kerry will win, so I'm raising the stakes for my subconscious by making a public prediction.

A lot of it may just be that I've never voted before, but I'm voting for Kerry this time because Bush terrifies me. If there's me, how many more habitual non-voters will show up for Kerry?

Other, easier predictions: even if one side gets a solid win, there will be law suits. Nader will get almost no votes.

I will note that after I read Asymetrical Information, a conservative-libertarian blog (including some comments), I begin to wonder if I'm spending too much time in the echo chamber, but then, so are they. AI and Making Light both tend to attract people who are intelligent and not obviously crazy, but they might as well be writing from two different universes.

Just for the fun of it, here are the stats from the Reason Magazine poll of various libertarians and (other) weirdos--I think it's pretty much people who have written for, edited, or been interviewed by the magazine.

2004
Kerry 12 1/2
Bush 11 1/2
Badnarik (libertarian) 7 1/2
Won't vote 6
Can't vote 1 (not US citizen)
Won't say 3
Other 1
Undefined (Florida resident) 1
Not Bush or Kerry 1
Still thinking 2 (article compiled in August)


2000
Bush 9
Gore 4
Browne (libertarian) 14
Nader 6
Doesn't vote 7
That Florida voter again 1
Won't say 2


Margin of error--I only went through the article once when I tabulated, so there might be an off or lost vote here and there. This adds authenticity to the process.

Conclusions: It's a close race. Nader isn't getting a lot of votes. It looks as though the weird people votes are going to the the major parties with more of them going to Kerry. Any theories about how many weirdos are out there?

And if you're not totally sick of politics already, I recommend the article--some of the people interviewed are pretty funny.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
I've been feeling sure that Kerry will win, so I'm raising the stakes for my subconscious by making a public prediction.

A lot of it may just be that I've never voted before, but I'm voting for Kerry this time because Bush terrifies me. If there's me, how many more habitual non-voters will show up for Kerry?

Other, easier predictions: even if one side gets a solid win, there will be law suits. Nader will get almost no votes.

I will note that after I read Asymetrical Information, a conservative-libertarian blog (including some comments), I begin to wonder if I'm spending too much time in the echo chamber, but then, so are they. AI and Making Light both tend to attract people who are intelligent and not obviously crazy, but they might as well be writing from two different universes.

Just for the fun of it, here are the stats from the Reason Magazine poll of various libertarians and (other) weirdos--I think it's pretty much people who have written for, edited, or been interviewed by the magazine.

2004
Kerry 12 1/2
Bush 11 1/2
Badnarik (libertarian) 7 1/2
Won't vote 6
Can't vote 1 (not US citizen)
Won't say 3
Other 1
Undefined (Florida resident) 1
Not Bush or Kerry 1
Still thinking 2 (article compiled in August)


2000
Bush 9
Gore 4
Browne (libertarian) 14
Nader 6
Doesn't vote 7
That Florida voter again 1
Won't say 2


Margin of error--I only went through the article once when I tabulated, so there might be an off or lost vote here and there. This adds authenticity to the process.

Conclusions: It's a close race. Nader isn't getting a lot of votes. It looks as though the weird people votes are going to the the major parties with more of them going to Kerry. Any theories about how many weirdos are out there?

And if you're not totally sick of politics already, I recommend the article--some of the people interviewed are pretty funny.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Unless there's a solid majority in the polls for one candidate that's reflected in the election results, half the country is going to think the election was stolen, except, perhaps, for a few mathematically inclined folks who think that really close elections are decided by noise.

There was a plausible argument in the Wall Street Journal back in 2000 about there being more and more close elections as both parties become equally good at running. Close elections are no more surprising than the way track and field times have been converging.

I wonder whether this is at all good for democracy--huge stakes are being decided by nothing much.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Unless there's a solid majority in the polls for one candidate that's reflected in the election results, half the country is going to think the election was stolen, except, perhaps, for a few mathematically inclined folks who think that really close elections are decided by noise.

There was a plausible argument in the Wall Street Journal back in 2000 about there being more and more close elections as both parties become equally good at running. Close elections are no more surprising than the way track and field times have been converging.

I wonder whether this is at all good for democracy--huge stakes are being decided by nothing much.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Just thinking about the hostages from various countries who've been killed by insurgants in Iraq. I don't have time to look for links--I should be getting ready for Worldcon--but it's been a fair number of hostages from a variety of countries, and another bunch who've been captured and released when their countries or companies knuckled under.

I just wonder what sort of payback might be coming along.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Just thinking about the hostages from various countries who've been killed by insurgants in Iraq. I don't have time to look for links--I should be getting ready for Worldcon--but it's been a fair number of hostages from a variety of countries, and another bunch who've been captured and released when their countries or companies knuckled under.

I just wonder what sort of payback might be coming along.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
When they get done with the Swift Boat thing, there's going to be some serious investigation of US atrocities in Viet Nam. I don't think anyone a year or two ago would have suggested this as a likely side effect of the 2004 election.

People worry about outsourcing, but I'm betting that China and India will move on to more equal competition. I'm guessing on the numbers, but I'll bet that there will be Chinese and Indian car companies with noticable exports to the first world within a decade.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
When they get done with the Swift Boat thing, there's going to be some serious investigation of US atrocities in Viet Nam. I don't think anyone a year or two ago would have suggested this as a likely side effect of the 2004 election.

People worry about outsourcing, but I'm betting that China and India will move on to more equal competition. I'm guessing on the numbers, but I'll bet that there will be Chinese and Indian car companies with noticable exports to the first world within a decade.

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