Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Too Many Experts

In theory, diversity is about accepting people different than you; in practice diversity means those who ignore diversity have more moral clout. Thus, my kid's schools do not have little birthday celebrations (eg, cupcakes) anymore because the new Somalis don't celebrate birthdays, and we wouldn't want to implicitly single them by having birthdays as was done for years. No one can mention this sucks in public, however, without being called in intolerant bigot, and as we all know, diversity is The Most Important Thing public schools teach. Or a bunch of Hasidim move to a small town in Iowa to run a kosher meat packing plant (and hire illegal immigrants at $5/hour), avoiding the locals in their social activities and in schools, referring to them as shiksas and goyim, and the locals, not the new asocial group, needed to learn to 'understand and respect each other's differences'. An institution that employs a bunch of autistic types is 'diverse', even though no individual who works there is accepting of diversity except management. Thus, diversity is about acceptance when you are passive or 'leading', but for those who are not considerate about existing mores or who are doing, it's a pretext for being insular.

Such are the paradoxes of modern life, the kind of thing that makes life difficult for machines trying to pass a Turing test, such as the fact that being 'hot', 'cool', or 'warm' are all compliments. Similarly, experts are supposed to tell one what to do, but in practice they merely help rationalize whatever one wants to do. Expert opinion usually spans the space of conceivable opinion. To wit, the WSJ has an article on the current economic mess, and interviewed several well-known economists. Here's their advice:


Barry Eichengreen: $300MM for banks, $800 fiscal stimulus.
Ken Rogoff: more inflation
Robert Hall: sales-tax holiday paid by the Federal government
Robert Shiller: subsidize financial advice (here here!)
Alan Blinder: Infrastructure spending stimulus
Anil Kashyap: shut down ‘bad’ banks
Jeremy Stein: audit banks
Adam Posen: shrink the banking sector
Douglas Diamond: convert bank long-term debt issued after the TARP to equity, make it easier to wipe out equity shareholders
Markus Brunnermeier: put in a new regulator framework for banks

So, give money to the banks, shrink them, extinguish debt or equity in banks, regulate them or audit them--perhaps all of the above! Also, give out tax rebates and spend more. In other words, whatever the Federal government can do, it should do, say the experts

The point is that expert opinion does not focus, but from a meta perspective, merely rationalizes. Thus, it means almost the opposite of what a single expert does. The paradox is like the way diversity, in practice, is license to insularity. A thing in practice is the opposite of what it is in theory.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

the illegal immigrant reference was a cheap shot. better employ illegals as a hasidim, whatever that is, than massacre innocent people as true blue americans dressed as santa do.

Eric Falkenstein said...

I am highly pro-Semitic and pro Israel, so I don't feel bad criticizing this group out of fear of being called a bigot against Jews. Steven Bloom wrote a scathing book on the incident (Potsville). The Jewish Daily Forward had an article on this issue in 2006, and was rather critical of how AgriProcessors was treating its workers.

I agree its better than killing someone, but that's a weak benchmark.

J said...

I have nothing to comment but my admiration for the exquisite politeness of not celebrating kindergarten birthdays in attention to Somali toddlers´s presumed sensibilities. We have a folk-saying here: You are hastening the coming of the Messiah (and SDF´s revelation?).

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

well i'm not pro any of those things (though if they really paid for the land think they should have it) and i actually think that if you choose to live somewhere is because you like their culture/habits so at a minimum you want to look like them. no burkhas, turbans or those little hats, not to mention flying mexican flags and that boricua shit. you love mexico, fine. go live there. but then i'm european so i can be a bit nationalist.

yet the illegals mention weakened your argument. as if americans don't employ illegals. or not only you went to the innocent iowa community and act differently, but also dare breaking the law. please.

Anonymous said...

As a member of the tribe, I'll say that I find the Hasidim bizarre. That said, Goyim and Shiksa are just words from another language for gentile and non-Jewish woman. They aren't derogatory any more than calling someone black or a woman is derogatory. It's just descriptive.
Several more points about these Hasidim:
1) They weren't even slaughtering the animals humanely, as required by Jewish law. So the place might have had rabbi approval, but it really wasn't Kosher.
2) The Hasidim would have been much better off running their plan in Chicago or NYC, where people wouldn't have noticed 300 illegal immigrants showing up at a factory.

Anonymous said...

Do not see the relationship between the bad behavior of Hasidim, or other ethnic groups exercising a veto over public practice by others in the name of diversity to the central point of this post:
Policymakers shopping the spectrum of economic opinion to support their previously held belief.

I agree: The Hasiim are behaving badly (although no differently than many other business owners in urban areas).

But what does a have to do with b?

Anonymous said...

Eric, I assumed you were criticizing a group of people in Postville that used a facade of being religious while also doing bad things. And not criticizing all Jews or even Orthodox or Hasidic jews. Those religious hypocrites just happened to be Jewish.

But still don't see how it relates to the main point of the post.

Eric Falkenstein said...

The point is paradox. Diversity equals insularity. Expert opinion equals any opinion.

Eric Falkenstein said...

as per shiksa and goyim being non offensive, I agree they are funny to use in company where you know your audience very well, just like calling women 'chicks' is often fine. I find it great fun when used by my friends. But no Jew would speak in public, say as a businessman or politician, and use these words. So flouting this convention by indiscriminate usage suggests a willful indifference to shiksas and goyim. Politeness is two-sided: not giving unintentional offense, and not taking an unintentional offense.

In the 1960's, white southerners would say 'nigger' meant nothing, just a reference to a group. Indeed, 120 years ago, it was a neutral term. But as blacks took offense to white usage of the term, using it now suggests a willing indifference to their preferences.

I often use black as opposed to African American, but only for economy of speech purposes. Indeed, you will see that many blacks and liberals switch back and forth, in large part I believe because using 7 syllables to say something in 1 gets old real fast.