Monday, October 05, 2009

Comments on the Belmont Club
"Paying for the black helmet"

Gresham's Law, bad money (counterfeit) drives good money out of circulation.

This happens not only in the market for goods and services but also in social markets. As an organization becomes corrupted by individuals who subvert it to protect their incompetence or dishonesty then people who subscribe to the formal goals of the organization, if it is a voluntary or non-profit entity, will depart. If the organization is a business then the energy consumed by the dishonest and incompetent will impede efficiency and the more competent will depart.

Government organizations are political markets not simply because they are managed by politicians but because there is no objective standard by which an outside observer can judge success and failure, except for when failure becomes catastrophic. At that point the competence of some clerk is not going to be the focus of inquiry so there is effectively no accountability. This happens not only in government but in any large bureaucratic organization due to the Agency Effect. It is hoped that in a business that operates in a free market economic pressures will provide some incentive for owners and managers to weed out the grossly abusive or underperforming. However those who can or will not perform to the benefit of the owners of an organization, the citizenry if a public entity or the owners of a private business, can protect themselves by building a network of other associations so that the operating of the political market, even in a non-governmental organization, can overwhelm the functioning of the formal organization.

Democracy needs a network of informal associations to thrive and they will all function as political markets. These are the voluntary bodies that Alexis de Tocqueville described. Regrettably they will become corrupted over time as those who rely on them to escape the pressures of the formal marketplace subvert them. The personal failings and dishonesty that causes people to rely on political relations for protection can as wretchard notes become increasingly hard to conceal and the effort to do so can consume not only the individual but the organizations that they subvert to their purpose.

The Athenians got tired of hearing Aristedes called "The Just" and voted him out of office.

luddy barsen,
(re. a call to select trustworthy gatekeepers, he suggested eunuchs)
The Ottoman Caliphate treated everyone equally. OK, Muslims were more equal than others. That is they treated everyone like dirt.

... a position not acquired without some, shall we say, sacrifices?
- Julius Caesar: [of the Grand Eunuch]
H/T IMDB, from Cleopatra (1963)

(who uses a photo taken in Lebanon)
Meeting Christopher Hitchens did that to you?

Marie Claude,
(who praised Berlusconi)
he doesn't use viagra
How do you know?

Our host was kind enough to post my definitive quote on American Exceptionalism on "The power of legend" thread, #175.

Pascal Fervor,
(who linked to Newsome's cheer)
Good point. While it is terrible to be subjugated by a tyrant, the thought that they could have style and what the military calls command presence, like Lawrence Olivier's Crassus in Kubrick's Spartacus, would cushion the blow. The reality is that our oppressors are nasty little people who could never stand up for themselves without a posse of thugs or the force of the very law they make a travesty of behind them. Think of Obama, or Newsome, they are closer to Mankowitz's choice of Roddy McDowell to play a weak and sick Octavian in Cloeopatra.

Oct 6, 2009 - 8:16 am




1 comment:

Pascal Fervor said...

Rather than "Newsom's Cheer," it might be entertaining to tweak double-thinkers with "Newsom's Gaiety."

There will be many more Gaius opporpunities. This straight glib blade is currently running for Cali guber. :)

Thanks for the opportunity; and apologies in advance for the overload.