Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Andrew Elrod has been getting a lot of play, building on his dissertation on the history of price controls. The inflation debate: Boston Review, and Equitable Growth. See also, Tooze

Elrod

It was the effort to control supply lurking within the project of price stabilization that produced the late-twentieth- and early twenty-first-century taboo against overtly political control of markets.

 J.W. Mason

And then at some point it will occur to us that, after all, isn't the interest rate itself a price? In which case, the debate isn't price controls, yes or no, but merely about exactly which prices to control. 

 Jäger replies:

Yes x1000 - if the interest rate is simply the ‘price’ of money, how have we not been doing intense price control for over a decade already?

When I read all this I think of all the time wasted on trolley problems. The doctrine of double effect, again, and so soon.

The language in the thing has changed. It was more concise a decade ago, but the link on the rights side of the page is still there.

The man who swings the axe is called the "Executioner"; the man who gives the order is called only "Governor". Officers send enlisted men to almost certain death but may not befriend them. Stanley Milgram’s 1963 experiments showed that physical proximity, of authority to subject and subject to “learner”, was the main factor in affecting the level of obedience to the command to cause harm.

A governor has an indirect relation to the execution that he's ordered. Interest rates have an indirect relation to price hikes. A manipulated economy and a command economy are not perceived as the same thing. And the fatalism behind the popular acceptance that power will out no longer holds when power is indecisive.

Democratic government is artificial, and democratic governance is always a bit of a sham. Most people have no interest in the work of self-government but they can still recognize the hypocrisy of self-interested leaders who claim to be selfless. They'll accept simple unfairness as natural but chafe at controls imposed by moralizing hypocrites who can't make up their minds. Putting an economy on a "war footing" succeeds only because it's temporary. And either way if unfairness goes too far people will rebel out of what they sense as self-preservation, still without wanting the full responsibilities of self rule.

Information is decentralized, and the point of government intervention should be to keep it that way. A sham democracy is still better than open rule of an elite, if only because the elite in a democracy is being refreshed from below and outside; experts need to fear amateurs and amateurs need to be watchful. It begins with that fact that you can't predict what will change you, and expands out to the world.

Agreements among stakeholders, including worker representatives. Ordoliberalism? 

I don't argue with specialists by pretending to be one. I don't argue with car mechanics about engines. I don't argue with soldiers about the best gun for the job. I don't argue grammar with grammarians. I don't argue technics; I argue application. Even arguing about art I'm a generalist. 

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