“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

blue states and red states

When, in 2004, Bush won the election, LI analyzed the results for the paradox in them – the Red states, we said, were electing a man who’s main task had been to pile money on the investor class, who are concentrated in the Blue states And we also said, fuck the Red states, stick the broom up their ass.

Well, the endgame, as far as the Great Fly is concerned, follows this logic off the cliff. We said then that the coming recession would target the red states. In the South and West, the easy money has always been in selling land. In the 80s, this led to the S and L bust. That turned out to be a net plus for the Red States, who were floated by tax money that came from the Northeast. It feels good to be a rent seeker, and George Bush personified the breed, so they flocked to the polls to elect him.

But the investor class had long learned its lessons from the S and L bust. The suckers, this time, were selling the land to each other, as always, while the real money was being made taking bets on the flea circus. And now America is preparing to strip itself of its economic power to please the investor class. This can’t be analyzed by party, although that is the dumb category clung to in the political blogosphere. This is about investors and debtors. The investor class just happens to be concentrated in heavily democratic states. Their reps are going to make damn sure that they get taken care of. Meanwhile, red state reps are torn between their usual kleptocratic impulses and the angry calls from the folks at home, who want the old days back, when they could coast on government insured programs, using credit limits that were the result of government fiscal policy, in order to buy and sell land at tell each other, gubmint ain’t the solution, its the problem. Its the battle of two rentseeking classes going down. Fun for the whole family.

I’m of two minds about the ongoing robbery. On the one hand, people I love are going to be hurt. On the other hand, this nation used its years of bogus prosperity to push two propositions: that we had a right to invade and massacre at will any place in the world; and that we had a right to fuck up the earth’s atmosphere until we were good and tired of it. Shouldn’t these days, these forerunners of grief, be considered condign punishment for this thoughtless nation?

The latter is probably the most deadly of the deadly American sins. Unfortunately, a nation that starts descending into the pits, economically, doesn’t shut off its emissions, although at the moment, there is less car driving and shit. Rather, it can’t afford the technology to clean up its power plants, businesses and households. Poverty, or relative poverty, will not equal a cleaner America.

There is a remark I hear over and over, and it makes me sick: I can’t understand economics. Economics is a model ruled social science. If you strip out the equations from a model, you get relations. Narrative relations. Models are stories. If you can understand a story, you can understand economics.

Now, I’d recommend, I do recommend, my essay on this topic in the preface to Silja Graupe’s The Basho of Economics. Alas, I know only two people who read that preface. And one said she couldn’t understand it. I realize that it is not written in the free and easy style I would use to write an email to a friend, but fuck, occasions call for different styles. Go read it. In it, you will find a description of the favorite story, down the years, of orthodox economics.

In American culture, there is only one group that holds to a more rigid narrative pattern than neo-classical economists. That is the Harlequin romance company. You can write off to Harlequin and get a sheet in which to fill in the variables to make a story. The inputs can differ a bit, but the output, the happy ending, is almost invariable. The difference is that in economics, the stories are invariable. They always come out with market clearing. That is the happy end around which the whole world of economics, as a science, revolves. But the story is refuted over and over by the world – and economists hate that. Thus, the attraction of thinking of the current crisis as a market clearing one – liquidity in the banks – instead of what it is, a symptom of the deep, corrupting inequality in wealth that have been allowed to overrun our economy. The economist has an instinctive reaction to market clearing problems, but is averse to the messiness of inequality, and would prefer to read that out of the model. Just as Harlequin can’t afford ambiguity in the heroine – she might be attracted or raped by the evil character, but she can’t traipse around and have several lovers, for instance – economists can’t afford to let in too much of the world into their story. If, for instance, economists had looked at the rise in oil prices earlier this year and had let in the part of the world that was about the threat of war against Iran, they would have had to “politicize” their analysis. That they could look back and find, regularly, stockpiling of commodities before a war escaped them entirely. They were content to make it a doable story of speculators versus supply and demand, and soon came home to the equilibrium that explains everything. They can’t help themselves.

7 comments:

JCD said...

LI, sends us a .pdf of your preface and we'll read it. Being among the credit squeezed, we can't exactly afford 89 USD. And my uni ain't got it either.

northanger said...

AQ 822 = THE BASHO OF ECONOMICS: FOREWORD BY ROGER GATHMAN = THE ZEN MILLIONAIRE'S 12-STEP 'ANTIRAGE' MEDITATION.

AQ 1068 = MAD AS HELL? TRY THE ZEN MILLIONAIRE'S 12-STEP 'ANTIRAGE' MEDITATION = BRIGHT ARMY OF AESTHETICISTS WITH CHAOS AT THEIR FINGER-TIPS = CREATIVE POTENTIALS OF MATERIAL SYSTEMS TO FORM FREE BODIES = FOR I AM THE SOFT SINUOUS ONE ENTWINED ABOUT THEE, HEART OF GOLD! = HARRY POTTER & THE ALCHEMICAL TRADITION IN ENGLISH LITERATURE = HINT OF A LARGER NETWORK HIDDEN SOMEWHERE IN THE FOLDS OF THE MAP = INTENDED TO REFLECT THE COMMUNITY'S SENSE OF THE PROBABILITY = LUCK IF YOU'VE EVER BEEN A LADY TO BEGIN WITH, LUCK BE A LADY TONIGHT = MAN IS LIKE A FOUNTAIN, ALWAYS THE SAME FORM, NEVER THE SAME WATER = MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS.-ISAIAH 56:7 (AQ-489 JESUS AND THE MONEY CHANGERS) = SELF-DEFENSE KIT AGAINST MANIPULATIVE SEMANTIC DISTORTIONS.

AQ 1335 = THE BASHO OF ECONOMICS: AN INTERCULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE PROCESS OF ECONOMICS = KEY TO UNDERSTANDING DELEUZE AND GUATTARI'S TRANSCENDENTAL GEOPHILOSOPHY = MONTERROSO IS OFTEN CREDITED WITH WRITING THE WORLD'S SHORTEST STORY = PROVERBS 26:11 AS A DOG RETURNETH TO HIS VOMIT, SO A FOOL RETURNETH TO HIS FOLLY = THE ACE OF DISKS PICTURES THE ENTRY OF THAT TYPE OF ENERGY WHICH IS CALLED EARTH = THE COMING TECHNOLOGICAL SINGULARITY: HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE POST-HUMAN ERA = WITHOUT REPRIEVE, ADJUDGED TO DEATH, FOR WANT OF WELL-PRONOUNCING SHIBBOLETH.

roger said...

Thanks, North!
I think people can go to the Google books site and read most of the preface. The link to the site is:
http://books.google.com/books?
id=mucMlmcFME8C&printsec=
frontcover&dq=basho+of+economics&sig
=ACfU3U1CaVS9RFyJn87J_9nhidVBx8QGkw#PPR18,M1

JCD said...

Ah, excellent.

northanger said...

AQ 1068 = IF THE TEST OF TRUTH LAY IN A SHOW OF HANDS OR A COUNTING OF HEADS (Chapter 4, "Magic and Religion"; AQ-269 THE GOLDEN BOUGH).

northanger said...

AQ 638 = DEEPER MAGIC FROM BEFORE THE DAWN OF TIME (AQ-92 ASLAN, AQ-185 DEEPER MAGIC, AQ-245 THE DEEPER MAGIC) = A SPLENDID EFFORT TO FOLLOW THE PLOT (AQ-1200, AQ-353 PERMISSION TO WIN) = AN ANNOTATED MULTILINGUAL CHECKLIST (AQ-428 LES PAPILLONS DE NABOKOV) = DARK MATTERS, FIREWORKS & PENTAGRAMS = FORM FIRST MOON-BASED SOFTBALL LEAGUE = GET A GROVE ON WITH THE SINGULARITY = HACCP-BASED INSPECTION MODELS PROJECT = HYBRIDIZING CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH (AQ-262 KUANGLO-SAXON, AQ-494 VIROTECHNIC UNDERCURRENT) = NATIONAL STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE ACT, 1994 = NON-LINEAR VOCALIZATION PROCESSES (AQ-210 INITIATION) = PETITION OF RIGHT AGAINST THE CROWN = RISE, O MY SNAKE! IT IS NOW IS THE HOUR = SELF-ORGANIZING SYSTEMS FEATURES (The patterns found in the phase space of self-organizing systems have various features, such as "AQ-197 ATTRACTOR," "AQ-203 BIFURCATOR," and "AQ-405 ZONE OF SENSITIVITY," which are the respective names for: AQ-2032 {1} A REGION OF PHASE SPACE TOWARD WHICH SYSTEMS TEND ONCE THEIR STATES APPROACH A CERTAIN CONDITION OR "BASIN OF ATTRACTION" (attractors thus represent patterns of behavior of the system); {2} AQ-1278 {2} POINTS AT WHICH SYSTEMS FLIP BETWEEN ONE REGION OF PHASE SPACE AND ANOTHER (bifurcators thus represent trigger points when a system changes patterns); {3} AQ-2723 {3} A REGION WHERE BIFURCATORS CLUSTER AND AMPLIFY EACH OTHER'S EFFECTS, SO THAT SMALL DIFFERENCES IN THE SYSTEM'S PARAMETERS CAN PROVOKE DRASTIC CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR (zones of sensitivity thus represent crises in the "life span" of a system); AQ-154, 197, 203, 225, 231, 257, 262, 266, 270, 294, 295, 328, 344, 354, 358, 371, AQ-376 PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR, 382, 383, AQ-389 FOUND IN THE PHASE SPACE, SYSTEM'S PARAMETERS, 399, 405, 418, 421, 433, 449, 450, AQ-454 EMPIRICAL GEOPHILOSOPHY, 495, 544, 556, AQ-563 TRANSCENDENTAL GEOPHILOSOPHY, 574, 583, 586, 618, 630, 634, 660, 693, 753, 785, 787, 793, 809, 816, 822, 830, 831, 837, 847, 850, 899, 994, 1084, 1128, 1138, 1144, 1160, 1184, 1252, 1278, 1324, 1386, 1445, 1582, 2032, 2527, 2664, 2723, 3192, 4047, 9142, 13012) = THE INGENIOUS GAME OF JUGGLING WORDS = THE NATURALIST CREED OF DESHOULIÈRES = THE THIRD CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF THE LAW = THE WORLD FROM A HIP HOP PERSPECTIVE.

northanger said...

AQ 1156 = FIRST EMERGENCE OF THE PHENOMENAL FROM THE ARCANE OBSCURITY OF AKASHA (Ace of Swords) = AGENTS SERVE TO CHANGE THE VIRTUAL FIELD, CREATING NEW FITNESS PEAKS (AQ-454 EMPIRICAL GEOPHILOSOPHY) = CROSS A STAKHANOVITE WITH A SADIST AND HE'LL EMIGRATE TO SOUTH AFRICA (Cyber-Punk: The Final Solution, Mark Downham) = QUALITATIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE EMERGENT PROPERTIES OF THE SYSTEM (AQ-454 EMPIRICAL GEOPHILOSOPHY) = SACRED KING WHO SERVED AS PRIEST OF THE GODDESS DIANA AT ARICIA IN ITALY (AQ-295 REX NEMORENSIS) = SOLE SOURCE OF SYSTEMIC PROFIT UNDER LTV-THEORIZED CAPITALISM = SUDDEN WISH OR URGE THAT PROMPTS AN UNPREMEDITATED ACT OR FEELING (Impulse).

AQ 1606 = WORLDWIDE MYTH OF A SACRED KING WHO MUST PERIODICALLY DIE AS PART OF A REGULAR FERTILITY RITE (AQ-295 REX NEMORENSIS) = BEN & JERRY'S BEN COHEN'S INTERNAL-EXTERNAL TEMPERATURE DIFFERENTIAL AND EQUALIZATION THEORY (AQ-314 AT LARGE AND AT SMALL) = IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT PROVIDING BETTER SECURITY IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL GET THEM LOVED (AQ-353 PERMISSION TO WIN) = PROVIDES AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY FOR PHILOSOPHERS AND GEOGRAPHERS TO COLLABORATE (AQ-454 EMPIRICAL GEOPHILOSOPHY).

AQ 1613 = AENEAS AND THE SIBYL PRESENT THE GOLDEN BOUGH TO THE GATEKEEPER OF HADES IN ORDER TO GAIN ADMISSION = IT IS DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE OF OUR TIMES TO ACCEPT THE COUNTER-WEIGHT TO THE CONSCIOUS WORLD (AQ-508 MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS) = THERE'S A TENDENCY TO TRY AND SUGGEST THAT AL QAEDA CORE AND AL QAEDA IN IRAQ ARE TWO SEPARATE THINGS.

AQ 1661 = IN THE SHADOW OF THE BRONZE SOLDIER: ESTONIA REMOVES RED ARMY MEMORIALS AND RESTORES SS GRAVES = THE NOTION OF A SACRED KING WHO MUST PERIODICALLY BE SLAIN BY HIS RIVAL AS PART OF A FERTILITY RITE = THOUGH THOU CLOTHEST THYSELF WITH CRIMSON, THOUGH THOU DECKEST THEE WITH ORNAMENTS OF GOLD (AQ-148 JEREMIAH 4:30, AQ-4776).

AQ 1907 = RESTRICT THE TERM "REPRESENTATION" TO THE CONSCIOUS RECOGNITION OF THE PROPERTIES OF CONSTITUTED BODIES (AQ-454 EMPIRICAL GEOPHILOSOPHY) = THE CHARACTERISTIC FEATURE OF PRIMITIVE MAN, I BELIEVE, IS THAT HE DOES NOT ACT FROM OPINIONS HE HOLDS ABOUT THINGS (Ludwig Wittgenstein).