Posts tagged with 'SocialDynamics'
Mar 16, 2009
The tendency for prices to fall during recessions has declined over time. An increasing proportion of the effect of any reduction in aggregate demand shows up as a reduction in real output. We shut down our factories rather than running them with lower wages and lower prices for finished goods; in the event of deflation reducing collectible property taxes, a city will fire half of its schoolteachers rather than cut any teacher's wage.

The longer a society remains stable, the more freighted down with special interest groups it becomes. Unions or cartels of businesses slow an economy’s response to change because they require the assent of many members in order to effect a change. This makes wages and prices much stickier than in a classical free-market economy."
Mancur Olson as paraphrased by Philip Greenspun. original


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Jun 27, 2007
Are crowds wise or dumb?

Groups of people are dumber than their constituent members when they exchange words, like in committees, boards, governments, meetings, etc.

Groups of people are smarter than their constituent members when they exchange actions. Markets are smarter than individuals because currency is a surrogate for action.

— me


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Oct 18, 2007
Whatever it professes, practical politics has always been about the systematic organization of hatreds.


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May 6, 2007
One had no time to think. There was so much going on. The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway.

How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? I do not know, I do not see, even now. To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty. instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, “everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. in your own community, you speak privately to you colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, “It’s not so bad” or “You’re seeing things” or “You’re an alarmist.”

And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further.. So you wait, and you wait.

And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying “Jew swine,” collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. You have gone almost all the way yourself.


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May 22, 2008
A fanatic redoubles his efforts when he has forgotten his aim.
— Santayanainfo as quoted here and here


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Dec 7, 2007
In the long run the ‘minor’ virtues are the only ones that matter. Politeness is more reliable than the moist virtues of compassion, charity, and sincerity; just as fair play is more important than the abstraction of justice. The major virtues tend to disintegrate under the pressures of convenient rationalization. But good form is good form, and stands immutable in the storm of circumstance.


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Oct 3, 2007
A species is defined as a set of individuals who can breed only with each other. The restriction on breeding doesn’t have to be genetic, it can be based on compatibility of belief system, or on connection within a social network. As our population grows and technology causes greater and greater variation, mankind is starting to speciate.


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Oct 3, 2007
Increasing variation in productivity is a good thing. In a low-tech society you don’t see much variation in productivity. If you have a tribe of nomads collecting sticks for a fire, how much more productive is the best stick gatherer going to be than the worst? A factor of two? Whereas when you hand people a complex tool like a computer, the variation in what they can do with it is enormous.

If your society has no variation in productivity, it’s probably not because everyone is Thomas Edison. It’s probably because you have no Thomas Edisons.


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Apr 14, 2008
Working-class unions and middle-class environmentalists are very different organizations.

The middle class is prone to seeing the working class as rigid, self-interested, narrow, uninformed, parochial, and conflict oriented. The working class tends to perceive the middle class as moralistic, intellectual, more talk than action, lacking commonsense, and naïve about power.

Each side has a different standard for evaluating information. The working class trusts experience, and the middle class believes in research and systematic study. The result is a wide gulf in understandings of nature, sustainability, economics, and human conduct.

They seek change differently. The working class seeks to build power to confront external threats, while the middle class hopes to change people’s motivations, ideas, and morality.

The middle class tends to have greater faith in the ability of bureaucratic institutions to accomplish its goals. The working class, by contrast, is often the weakest party in conflicts and tends to pay the costs of many political and economic decisions. Its strategies reflect both this vulnerability and the interpretation of politics as a conflict about interests.

Fred Rose according to Aaron Schutz


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Jan 24, 2008
There are two separate social hierarchies, one based on wealth (desperate, nervous, coasting) and one on education (reads nothing, reads Time, reads The Economist). The two used to be tied together because only the rich could afford education. In the 20th century they drifted apart. The interesting question is whether they will converge again, not because wealth causes education, but because education causes wealth.


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