Category Archives: Economics

How Blame Fails

A bookstore in London noticed something in the sales lists of the top 500 rare books sold at auction in 2018: no woman broke the top 20. In fact, they began to average 1 woman every 100 books. They call this grim:

blame

Any set of data can be analyzed in limitless arbitrary ways. This same data, for example, would probably show that men of a certain age appear in the top 500 than men of other ages. Books probably come from some centuries more than others.

A more thoughtful person would probably not notice or care about any patterns. After all, this is a list of rare books sold at auction. The types of books that become rare and the demand for those books are contingent on innumerable causes. Maybe the third-place book made it so high because the author recently had a resurgence from a movie based on his work. Maybe copies of dozens of the books were recently discovered in an old library, allowing them to be sold. Maybe books written by women are produced in larger quantities than books written by men such that they never become rare. It’s all speculation. Professional investigations could be performed on each book and the buyers (if the data is available) and it might take years. It doesn’t seem to be a valuable use of time.

But what is a valuable use of time for the Perpetually Outraged is to quickly look down the official list of victims (from least to most victimized) to see if any are represented less than half the time. At the top of the list is women in general, followed by select racial minorities, etc. Lucky for this bookstore, they didn’t have to go very far down the list.

The bookstore doesn’t spend any time considering what the possible causes are for the results. Obviously, as men wrote more books in the past than women and older books are typically the ones that become rare, the obvious explanation is that we see exactly what we expect. There’s no systematic bias against women by people who collect rare books or people who auction them. There’s just fewer rare books written by women. Reflection is anathema to the Perpetually Outraged, so we fall instead to the default position of blame.

Feminists on Twitter soon took the data to say things it did not say:

blame2

Aside from some severe misunderstandings of scarcity (scarce books cannot be auctioned more frequently than less scarce books), the Twits also presume that sexism is to blame for the apparent discrepancy. Why do women have fewer rare books? Sexism. There can be no other explanation. Even though it would take a great deal of effort to determine if someone is a sexist (hating someone for their sex requires incredible knowledge of one’s inner thought life), the Twits have no problem applying the term to a bunch of strangers. Strangers whose names are not even known.

Where reflective, thoughtful people might, in extreme circumstances, wonder how best to improve their own writing, the feminist Twits blame sexism. It’s much easier that way.

The article concludes by reminding us both that female authors are not taught as frequently in the UK as male authors* (for likely similar reasons as above), and also that entire bookstores dedicated to feminism exist without issue. This isn’t something the author of the article should be so excited to mention. If women are read less than men even without dedicated bookstores selling only books written by men all while women do have such bookstores, feminists have bigger problems to worry about. The conclusion isn’t that men are sexist, but something much simpler: people in general don’t like female authors and blame keeps the harshness of reality out of sight for feminists.


*Maybe the accidentally anti-feminist Transgender movement will helpsolve” this problem by having men produce books while claiming to be women. That way men still write all the books, but ideologically pure liberals will stop noticing.

Advertisements

There’s No Such Thing as Free

This image has been popping up on social media frequently the past few days. I thought I’d critique the hell out of it, because its content is as foul as the language it uses:

15965156_594257584101494_97997607295255909_n

Let’s take this emotional-tirade-pretending-to-be-an-argument one falsehood at a time so as not to cause ourselves permanent brain damage.

What .. is wrong with Americans who aren’t on board with free healthcare.

  1. You’ve already committed the fallacy of equivocation.
  2. There is no such thing as free healthcare.
  3. Presuming you are actually referring to a system where the government taxes its citizens and pays hospitals directly or funds universal health insurance, there are economic, moral, and practical reasons to oppose.

I’m Canadian and I don’t care that I pay extra taxes…

  1. Is this an argument?
  2. Why do your preferences constitute objective moral law for everyone?
  3. You probably don’t pay taxes in the first place. If you did, you’d probably care.

… so a little boy in Alberta can have open heart surgery or an elderly man in Nova Scotia can get the heart medication he desperately needs.

  1. This is sentimentalism, which is not an argument. Feelings do not constitute an argument.
  2. I bet heart surgery is covered by private insurance. So is heart medication.
  3. Government subsidized college in the US has increased in cost by magnitudes in only a couple decades. Do you suppose medical costs might parallel this? Do you simply not care about these implications, or have you never taken a course in basic economics?
  4. Even if it is noble for these people to receive money to cover their needs, why is it noble to take that money from people by a government backed by military force? Charity is one thing. Taking money by force and redistributing it is not charity.
  5. Do you donate money to such causes?
  6. Are you aware that scarcity exists whether the state pays for something or not? A market can easily get goods and services to where they are needed most by price increases and decreases. Your system devolves into rationing to people the government picks. They probably won’t pick that elderly guy in Nova Scotia.

It’s called taking care of people.

  1. It’s called socialized medicine. Whether it more effectively “cares for people” than a free market is a dubious claim.
  2. Your tax dollars being whisked away by an unseen government, put into a giant pot, and then that same government spending money on drugs or surgery is not “care” any more than a machine “cares” when you press buttons on it and it makes you coffee.

I’m glad I pay so that people can have a good quality of life.

  1. You probably don’t pay. I suspect you are a leech on the system. What you mean to say is that it makes you feel good that other people are forced to pay because you vote for liberals to take their money.
  2. Did people not have good quality of life before bleeding edge medicine? If not, how can you make bleeding edge medicine a prerequisite for good quality of life?
  3. Are you sure the system increases quality of life in the first place? Are you sure everyone’s quality of life might not be enhanced without government theft?

It’s called being a decent *** human being.

  1. It’s called socialized medicine.
  2. Your childish moral superiority complex does not constitute an objective moral standard by which you can bash everyone else.
  3. People who oppose socialized medicine have good reasons for it. You don’t have good reasons to ignore them.
  4. You’ve equated being a decent human being with being a socialist. Are you sure you want to do that? Are you really really sure? Because I can think of some people you might not consider decent who were socialist demagogues and who maybe, just maybe, murdered hundreds of millions of people. It was for a good cause, though.
  5. You are a pompous ass, not a decent human being.

The most irritating thing about all of this that you know the woman who wrote it is convinced she is better than you because she votes to take away people’s money to give to others. She’s never thought about any potential flaws in the system (rationing, cost increases, inefficiencies causing death because of no market corrections to fix them). But it doesn’t matter.

On second thought, the most irritating thing about it all is that her vote is equal to the vote of an economic scholar.