Friday, April 22, 2016

Some Odd Scholarhip by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand had some strong positions against the points made by Immanuel Kant. Consider this excerpt:

"The “phenomenal” world, said Kant, is not real: reality, as perceived by man’s mind, is a distortion. The distorting mechanism is man’s conceptual faculty: man’s basic concepts (such as time, space, existence) are not derived from experience or reality, but come from an automatic system of filters in his consciousness (labeled “categories” and “forms of perception”) which impose their own design on his perception of the external world and make him incapable of perceiving it in any manner other than the one in which he does perceive it. This proves, said Kant, that man’s concepts are only a delusion, but a collective delusion which no one has the power to escape. Thus reason and science are “limited,” said Kant; they are valid only so long as they deal with this world, with a permanent, pre-determined collective delusion (and thus the criterion of reason’s validity was switched from the objective to the collective), but they are impotent to deal with the fundamental, metaphysical issues of existence, which belong to the “noumenal” world. The “noumenal” world is unknowable; it is the world of “real” reality, “superior” truth and “things in themselves” or “things as they are”—which means: things as they are not perceived by man."

This excerpt contains many misrepresentations of Kant's breakdown of the human mind, as Kant wrote in "The Critique of Pure Reason".  Kant argued that the human mind, specifically, the phenomena, must process concepts and precepts via The Concepts of The Understanding(12 of them) in the construct of Space and Time. The notions of Space and Time, are not things outside of us, but they are part of our intuition. When objects are presented outside of us, in them of themselves,  humans process these objects and they gain knowledge and understanding from their experiences. Those experiences are defined by Concepts, things that exist prior to our understanding of them via our senses, and our precepts, things that come from our experiences via our senses.

No where does Kant in his writings state that these concepts, as they are processed in our mind via Space and Time, are not "real". He argues that they are "real", as they are called phenomena. Phenomena are "tangible" objects in Space and Time, via our senses,  pushed through the concepts of the understanding, which allows our minds to gain knowledge.

The noumenal world is not a "separate" world per se. These are concepts that can not be placed in the phenomena world, things that are filtered via Space and Time. Yes, they are "things as they are", but they are much more abstract concepts: e.g Freedom, Soul, God, and the like. Can these concepts be processed via Space and Time, and projected into our minds? Answer: No.

In short, this is one example of Rand's mis representation of Kant's positions.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The 'Natural Interest Rate' Is Always Positive and Cannot Be Negative

The 'Natural Interest Rate' Is Always Positive and Cannot Be Negative:

Key Excerpt: "Some economists have been arguing that the “equilibrium real interest rate” (that is the “natural interest rate” or the “originary interest rate”) has become negative, as a “secular stagnation” has allegedly caused a “savings glut..."
The notion of a negative interest rate is against nature. The concept of interest rate is based on the human action of choice and preference, as the actor moves in space and time. For example, we choose things based on the preference of things that will provide us some sort of "pleasure". If a person chooses item (x) before item (z), this means that in that moment in time, item (x) is preferred over item (z).  This process happens in space and in time. Time has passed forward, as the actor moves from item (x) to item (z). The definition of the natural rate of interest is the price ratio of goods at two different points in time. Based on this definition, and the notion of time, and space, the natural rate of interest can not be negative. Also, we can not go backwards in time based on our actions. This notion makes the concept of negative interest rates fallacious.

Ayn Rand and Karl Marx: Guilty of Bad Scholarship

While Ayn Rand and Karl Marx provided seminal works that pushed intellectual scholarship forward these two respective thinkers are guilty of some bad scholarship. Quick thoughts on three things Karl Marx or Ayn Rand got incorrect:

1. Marx on Hegalian Dialectic-This was not central to G.W. F. Hegel's aesthetic writings. Hegel used it in his logical discourse, as it appeared natural in nature, however, it was not created to "control" or manipulate others.

2. Immanuel Kant-Rand claimed Kant was the "most evil man in history". One, that is false, simply because, well...I take that claim. Secondly, Kant's "Critique of of Pure Reason", or his "Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics", simply demonstrated how man is able to formulate and synthesize concepts in space and time, governed by certain universal laws or principles. He was NOT attempting to usurp reason. Not at all.  His treatise simply acted as a guide to "tighten up" or strengthen the process of our use of reason. It is a disservice to all scholars to accept this Argumentum ad Hominem pushed forward by Rand, and never investigate Kant's work on this subject. Many may take issue with Kant's analysis on Ethics, as that is quite fine.

3. Marx on Labor Theory of Value-Marx believed that Labor spawned the end value of a product. When a firm sold that product, the "profit" yielded was not "shared" with the workers. This is a false hood. The notion of value is subjective to the individual, as we have preferences of things we act upon. The work of Eugen Bohm Bawerk debunked this labor theory of value, in his work, "Marx and the Close of His System". It is a devastating blow to Marx's work in "Das Kapital"..

Ayn Rand has a cult-like following, as does Karl Marx. These incidents of bad scholarship does not mean that their overall work does not have any meaning, or make them less relevant.  It just means that the Kant and Hegel deserve deeper investigation. Also, the notion of the labor theory of value requires deeper critical epistemological analysis.

Contrary to White House Claim, Compensation Has Been in Line with Productivity | Mercatus

Contrary to White House Claim, Compensation Has Been in Line with Productivity | Mercatus

"The White House has been among those who believe in the productivity-pay gap claim that workers’ productivity rose at a high rate over the last four decades but growth in real earnings failed to keep pace and instead changed at a nearly flat rate (see the green line in the chart below). These arguments continue to fuel the debate on contested labor policies such as the overtime pay rule and minimum wage increases. A more careful and comprehensive analysis of real worker pay and productivity data, however, shows that worker compensation is closely tied to worker productivity. "

Thursday, April 14, 2016

We're Still Haunted by the Labor Theory of Value | Steven Horwitz

We're Still Haunted by the Labor Theory of Value | Steven Horwitz

Marx falsely believed that the end value of the product, was based on the cost of labor that went into the creation of this product. Adam Smith believed this, as this was a common theme for most classical economists. This was a misleading belief.

The Marginalists Thinkers, Carl Menger, Stanley Jevons, et al, discovered that value was subjective to the individual. Also, Eugen Bohm Bawerk introduced the inter-temporal notion of the natural rate of interest. This notion also helped debunk the labor theory of value in many academic circles.

One can still see this argument rear its head in many places in political and social discourse. However, it is still a falsehood, thanks to the work of the marginalist thinkers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Who’s in Charge, Capitalists or Consumers? | Steven Horwitz

Who’s in Charge, Capitalists or Consumers? | Steven Horwitz


"Opponents of economic freedom have a twisted view of entrepreneurs, imagining them to be greedy exploiters of both workers and consumers. But advocates of free markets can have their own distorted ideas of entrepreneurship. Our vision is often a romantic one. We imagine the heroic businessperson who comes up with a new idea, device, or method; who persists against long odds to bring it to market; and who profits greatly when it revolutionizes an industry."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Three Lessons Learned from Tesla’s Success

Three Lessons Learned from Tesla’s Success:

Excerpt: "Last week, we saw some new threats emerge against the existing auto industry."

Note: I am not sure if pre-orders mean that something is "successful".

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Money Supply and the Velocity of Money

Money Supply and the Velocity of Money: The Mainstream View of Money Velocity is flawed. It compares the movement of money like movement of an object in the science of physics. All of it is based on the notion of the equation of exchange. Analysis of that equation and the notion of "The Velocity of money" will be covered at another time.