Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why people hate economics :: Arnold Kling

If there was no God, we'd make Her up. This also means humans impute evil where there is none.

Paul Bloom's essay "Is God an Accident?" in the latest issue of The Atlantic, suggests that humans' belief in God, Intelligent Design, and the afterlife is an artifact of brain structure. In this essay, I am going to suggest that the same artifact that explains why people are instinctively anti-Darwin explains why they are instinctively anti-economic.

Bloom says that we use one brain mechanism to analyze the physical world, as when we line up a shot on the billiard table. We use another brain mechanism to interact socially, as when we try to get a date for the prom.

The analytical brain uses the principles of science. It learns to make predictions of the form, "When an object is dropped, it will fall toward the earth."

The social brain uses empathy. It learns to guess others' intentions and motives in order to predict their reactions and behavior.

The difference between analytical and social reasoning strikes me as similar to the difference that I once drew between Type C and Type M arguments. I wrote, "Type C arguments are about the consequences of policies. Type M arguments are about the alleged motives of individuals who advocate policies."

Type C arguments about policy come from the analytical brain and reflect impersonal analysis. Type M arguments come from the social brain. In my view, they inject emotion, demagoguery, and confusion into discussions of economic policy.
. . .
The many political crusades against Wal-Mart reflect type M thinking. For example, the state of Maryland, where I live, is considering legislation forcing Wal-Mart to provide expensive health insurance to its employees.

The type M brain sees Wal-Mart management as Scrooge, and Maryland's politicians as the ghosts that are going to get the company to see the evil of its ways. However, Basic type C economics says that forcing the company to provide more health insurance benefits would lead to
lower wages for Wal-Mart workers.
Read the whole thing.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Is Wal-Mart evil?

Not according to the public, especially those on a low income. Criticism of Wal-Mart in the media is not reality-based. It comes from elitists like me who want to be surrounded by something a bit more elegant than a box. We don't represent the majority, and our views aren't any more legitimate than the average joe's.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Some Megachurches Closing for Christmas :: AP

Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said.

"If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to church on Christmas morning?" she said.

Among the other megachurches closing on Christmas Day are Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, Ky., near Lexington, and Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, outside of Dallas. North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., outside of Atlanta, said on its Web site that no services will be held on Christmas Day or New Year's Day, which also falls on a Sunday. A spokesman for North Point did not respond to requests for comment.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Saving lost books :: Dynamist Blog

The internet has saved many a lost book. Old books are finding new readers. It may even be saving used book shops.

Well, not just the internet, but the internet and the profit motive.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks arrested.

December 2, 1859
John Brown executed.

"My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

"We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter."