Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mea culpa!

So, today, Alan Greenspan realizes that the economic theory that has guided his life for forty years—and that he used to run the monetary policy of the United States—rests on incorrect assumptions. Apparently, overseeing the internet bubble didn't help him see it or prevent him from beginning the housing bubble as a way to help us out of that one. I never understood why he was highly regarded when he was in office—I suppose it was the way he nurtured the image of the incomprehensible mandarin, with his mysterious mutterings that made us all think he must really be smarter than the economists who could actually make themselves understood or perhaps his long-ago associations with Ayn Rand—but I don't think he gains any merit for figuring out now that he helped screw everything up. 
He's done us no good; it's time for him to shut up.

Keep your money for your campaigns

Quite rightly, American political law forbids foreign nationals from donating money to candidates or campaigns. So, for instance, my partner, who is a permanent resident of the United States but a citizen of Argentina, cannot donate money to McCain or Obama or for Proposition 7 here in Californian or against Proposition 8 or in favor of either of the two very annoying people running for our City Council seat—seriously, guys, if I keep getting mailings from you, I will write in someone else.
The idea, of course, is that those who are not citizens should not have a say, either through their votes or through giving funds to help people or campaigns gain others' votes, in our political campaigns. All for the best, I say! 
For, while there might seem to be something mildly unfair about being governed by those you did not get to pick, that is the difference between citizenship and non-citizenship, or anyway one of the differences.
But, by parity of reasoning, it seems that people from outside California—i.e., non-citizens of the State—should be barred from donating to campaigns within the State. There is something distasteful and disingenuous about the massive amounts of money pouring into California to support Proposition 8—a referendum to change the State's Constitution to bar same-sex marriage, since the (mostly conservative) State Supreme Court has ruled that there is no basis in the Constitution for making a distinction between heterosexual and homosexual marriage. By what right should residents of New Jersey or Minnesota or Utah (the campaign is largely bankrolled by the Latter Day Saints and there aren't that many Mormons in California) have a say in campaigns that affect Californians? We don't let them cast ballots here, why should we allow them to spend money to influence the vote here? (And, I'm willing to be fully principled: I don't think any out-of-State money should be allowed in our campaigns, whichever side it's on.)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

On causality

One of our Vice Presidential candidates believes that, without worrying about what causes global warming—after all, that is living in the past and everyone knows that the past is utterly irrelevant to the present or, heavens, what we really care about: the future—we can come up with a solution for it. Many other people might have thought that to stem the effect one would need to eliminate or alter the cause. Could her lack of basic causal reasoning abilities help explain why she also doesn't believe in evolution or seem to have a grasp of scientific method? What else might she be unable to fathom?