Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Voting for Evil

So if you meet me have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
--The Rolling Stones

Have heard several people recently say that they will vote for the presidential candidate that they believe is 'less bad'--i.e., the one that is the lesser of two evils. I am reminded of Frank Chodorov's quote below.


Why compromise with evil?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Intolerance in Diverse Environments

Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel Larusso: Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have balance. Everything be better. Understand?
--The Karate Kid

Extending their previous work on victimhood culture, sociology professors Bradley Campbell (UCLA) and Jason Manning (WVU) propose how one form of cultural homogeneity amid other forms of diversity shapes conflict and moral climate.

Environments with little diversity give rise to moralities concerned with purity. To be moral is to share the belief's of one's ancestors, family, friends. Deviations from the norm become subject to ridicule and rejection. Heresy is seen as a serious offense.

Diverse environments, on the other hand, give rise to moralities of tolerance. Freedom of speech and religion are seen as rights. To be moral is to respect and value differences in others. Heresy is no longer offensive. On the contrary, opposition to diverse cultural expressions and opinions is viewed as offensive.

Why, then, do we see intolerance toward acts of 'underdiversity,' such as behaviors labeled as 'microaggressions,' in environments that seemingly value much diversity (such as college campuses)? Campbell and Manning argue that highly diverse environments become hypersensitive to even small challenges to diversity which results in a less tolerant environment. On its face, this argument does not resonate with me as it seems contradictory--i.e., diverse environments act like homogenous environments.

Their second explanation is more sensible. When administrative institutions populate diverse environments then those institutions become sources of moral dependency as individuals who feel offended by acts that challenge their views run to administrators for redress. As previously noted, this seems a straightforward extension of resource dependence theory as individuals become dependent on administrators to provide problem solving resources for their social coping problems.

In perhaps their freshest contribution, Campbell and Manning also argue that environments that are diverse on some dimensions but homogenous on others might paradoxically promote acts of intolerance. For example, college campuses, while diverse in many ways, are relatively homogenous when it comes to political views. As particular academic disciplines lean more to the left (e.g., sociology), then hostility grows in reaction to challenges to a discipline's sacred political beliefs.

Cultures that are not fully diverse--that have nested 'pockets of purity'--then, give rise to movements of intolerance.

The authors suggest two remedies in the context of university environments. One is to reduce the population of administrators to lower capacity for moral dependence that arises when individuals seek bureaucratic solutions to perceived offenses. Individuals would have to resolve conflicts on their own rather than leaning on administrators for help.

The other solution is to increase the political diversity of collegiate faculty. Balance left with more right, for example, in order to create a more stable and robust learning environment in higher ed.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Classification

There's a place where the light won't find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do, we'll be right behind you
--Tears for Fears

The opening thought of Marx and Engels (1848) was, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." They go on to blame such 'classification' on capitalism, otherwise known as free or unhampered markets.

Their insinuation, of course, was precisely backward. By the time Marx and Engels published their Manifesto, movement of world economies toward the capitalistic end of the spectrum was breaking down class systems--particularly with respect to income mobility. Never in the history of the world were more people breaking chains that bound their ancestors to the bottom of the social pyramid and beginning their ascent to higher standard of living.

A case that such mobility is slowing today and once again binding people to lesser economic destinies is reasonably grounded in the phenomenon of dwindling capitalism and growing socialism. As these pages have previously observed, Jeff Tucker notes that all Marx and Engels' ten points for destroying capitalism in favor of a socialistic state have been in motion for years.


Much of the allure involves the promise of 'free stuff' that drive democratic process toward a larger state. Paradoxically, the more free stuff people vote for, the more classbound (and less free) they are.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Golden Move

Now did you read the news today?
They say the danger's gone away
But I can see the fire's still alight
They're burning into the night
--Genesis

Nice move by gold on Fri out of the cup-and-handle set up. The yellow metal is now knock-knock-knockin' on 1300.


When did the metals start perking up? When extreme central bank policies such as NIRP began sparking serious thought about where and how to save cash.

Remember that gold is a bet on disorder, whether that disorder be financial, social, etc. Those bets are increasing.

position in gold

Friday, April 29, 2016

Intel the Tell

Well lately when I look into your eyes
I'm going down
--Bruce Springsteen

Am watching Intel (INTC) as a downside tell. After shrugging off bad earnings news last week, the stock has been leaking. This am it opened below both its 50 and 200 day moving averages.


If it gets moving lower from here, 28 seems the level of lore.

And the tape will likely move in lockstep.

position in INTC, SPX

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fly in the Ointment

Hans Gruber: Who are you then?
John McClane: Just the fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the ass.
--Die Hard

John Boehner's criticism of Ted Cruz and thumbs up for Donald Trump should send a signal to 'anti-establishment' Republican types. Cruz is disliked because he has been a fly in the ointment of the mainstream Republican agenda. Ideologically, Trump philosophically operates far closer to the GOP's position than the establishment cares to admit.

To the extent that Boehner can be viewed as a symbol of what's wrong with the Republican Party, then his criticism can be seen as an endorsement of Cruz's approach for those voters looking for real change.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Biting the Apple

It's not in the way you say you hold me
It's not in the way you say you care
--Toto

Apple reports its first revenue decline in more than a decade and the stock is down 'only' 7%. This on the heels of many other bellwethers reporting disappointing results only to see their stock prices shrug off the bad news.


Bulls will argue that this is a sign of strength and higher prices are imminent. Bears will counter that market participants are in fantasyland and that it's only a matter of time before the tape cracks.

I might add that we also have non-economic buyers in the market seeking to prop up the tape.

position in SPX

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Victimhood Culture

"John Spartan, you are fined five credits for repeated violations of the Verbal Morality Statute."
--Moral Statute Machine (Demolition Man)

In the context of recent 'microaggression' claims and 'trigger warning' responses observed on college campuses, NYU prof Jon Haidt reviews a recent article by two sociologists that lends explanatory power to the phenomena.

Campbell and Manning (2014) propose that moral culture is once again transitioning. In the 18th century, Western societies moved from cultures of honor, where people must earn honor and avenge insults on their own (e.g., let's duel), to cultures of dignity, where people don't traditionally engage in violence to settle transgressions between people. In dignity cultures, major transgressions are left to administrative or judicial bodies and minor transgressions are either ignored or settled by social means.

Dignity culture, the authors posit, is now giving way to a culture of victimhood. Victimhood culture encourages people to respond to even the slightest perceived offense against them. But instead of obtaining redress on their own, people must appeal to powerful others, such as administrative bodies, for help. People must make their case before these powerful bodies that they have been victimized. The very presence of these administrative bodies gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim.

From where I sit, this can be seen as an extension of resource dependence theory. Administrative bodies seen as having the power to settle transgressions offer a resource that people want. As such, people engage in behavior that keeps resources flowing in their direction. In this case, a new moral culture of victimhood is being created that fosters, as Haidt observes, 'moral dependence' and reduces capacity among individuals for handling interpersonal matters on one's own. As it weakens individuals, victimhood culture creates a society of intense moral conflict as people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims.

While Haidt's analysis focuses on recent phenomena observed in higher ed, it takes no genius to see how this theory applies much more broadly.

Reference

Campbell, B. & Manning, J. (2014). Microaggression and moral cultures. Comparative sociology, 13(6): 692-726.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rogue Rage

"So you're the little lady that started this great brouhaha."
--FBI Director Denton Voyles

Judge Nap also suspects that, should the DOJ decide not to indict Hillary Clinton for espionage, FBI employees will go rogue and release the information against Clinton in its entirety. Some agents and perhaps even the FBI director would resign.

Should this come to pass, then the Obama administration would face a political crisis not unlike the Saturday Night Massacre that surrounded the Watergate scandal and the Nixon administration.

Judge Nap believes that should this come to pass, Clinton will likely be replaced as the candidate for president for the Democratic Party.

As noted previously, one way or another, the people are likely to have the information.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Obama's Fiction

"This is a pleasant fiction."
--Lucilla (Gladiator)

Leftists love to tell fictions that place their policies at the center of economic turnarounds. Perhaps none of these false narratives is more popular than the story of FDR and his New Deal policies pulling the economy out of the depths of the Great Depression.

Recent comments by President Obama suggest that he would like to spin a yarn of his own. When citing which actions during is tenure that he was most proud of, the president said, "Saving the world economy from a great depression--that was pretty good."


Indeed, Mr President. Perhaps that feat will earn you a picture on the first ever $20 trillion debt note written by the US Treasury under your watch.