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  • Those who Beseige Shannon & the Schiavo Tragedy

    Posted by Ginny on March 25th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Thanks to Heiko’s and Jonathan’s comments; they have a sense of proportionality. Also Heiko shows us what a good study can do: narrow, real, thorough; then it points to modifications that will (clearly their motive) save lives.

    I delete most of my friend’s e-mails on Schiavo or skim them to be polite. To him, as a Catholic, this case has attained great significance. Quality of life, what is life – these are important questions and of course he believes quite strongly in what Pinker dismisses as the “ghost in the machine.” I’m closer to my friend in that, but not all the way. The tensions involve the big issues – what is life and what is death, the relationship between the family and state. This then moves to the ancient tensions: between the “new” family of the Schiavo’s marriage and the “blood” family of the Schindlers; between the state and the federal government, between the courts and Congress. So, now, not only have people of strong religious commitment weighed in, but so have doctors. Then, politicians entered: not always grandstanding, they are often legitimately moved by these two issues. The big hitters on constitutional law on the blogs then enlisted in the battle. Yes, I’ll admit its importance not only to my friend but to others, on both sides of most of these issues. I can only feel sorrow at her death and sympathy with her parents, her husband, and even those involved in what has become a pathetic circus in front of her hospice. But I still delete. I know my sympathies will be pulled & cloud my mind; I won’t be able to deal with the big questions. Others argue that the cliche is wrong; that, indeed, hard cases can make good law. I have my doubts. Certainly, my husband’s argument that dysfunctional families make bad law seems true. I suspect both sides have enlisted troops to satisfy gnawing uncertainties. Applications in family matters to such external authority comes from a “nuclear option” mentality and a lack of confidence. I sympathize but suspect it arises from an unwillingness to face truths at which most of us would blink.

    These further complications – attempts to bring in authority (of medicine, of family, of courts) – are also ways that others push delete. They don’t want to deal with the big question – what is life and where does it end – and so they return to the technical ones. They want to use their heads, but heads, overwhelmed, are not all that trustworthy in this dialogue.

    This blog, too, has been immersed in an argument. Since I’ve joined, I have never seen so many comments. I want to thank Shannon for raising the questions and bringing readers to our blog. But, those arguing against Shannon seem to ignore the basic questions we ask in freshman rhetoric: Who did the survey and who was surveyed? Why did they do it? What did they bring with them? A published study by Phillip Morris on tobacco’s effects should not be weighted as heavily as one done by a university researcher paid by the NSF. The fact that dsquared finds it libelous to point to the researcher’s motives ignores the first task of an analytic reader. Shannon’s conclusions are not libelous, they are central to any critique. While we need not throw out the conclusions of those with clear bias, we look at them warily. So, we were not surprised by the internal problems Shannon has found; these were likely to arise with any article pushed fast to a deadline and especially when that deadline was the American elections.

    We are also curious about the nature of information gathering: In the midst of a war, are those responses reliable? When American researchers are behind a study aimed at a British journal, does anyone think (in the middle of the war and probably for long after) the death of a beloved family member is going to be described as a combatant death? When we teach freshman induction, we point out that samples need to be sufficiently large, sufficiently varied, suffciciently representative. It takes fewer examples to accurately describe deaths at barricades. A repeated response, that the Lancet researchers risked their lives in acquiring data, is an ad misiercordium fallacy my students would recognize immediately, as they would the bullying approach of begging the question when a note of the obvious bias of the researchers is declared libelous.

    The arguments here ignore human nature. And, in fact, argue that it shouldn’t be considered.

    They also want to take us back to October. Shannon’s opponents seem much more willing to immerse themselves in arguing points with his interpretation of the article and less willing to deal with the elections in January. We want to know how interviewees answer in a country more and more patrolled by Iraqi police. And, we consider, at least in the back of our minds, the unrest in Lebanon, the hesitant first steps toward municipal elections in Saudi Arabia.

    So the pragmatist would want another study: one less hurried, larger, broader and more representative. And we would want researchers that began with less political bias and with whom we (all of us) feel a level of honesty and trust.

    We need to recognize big issues but we are distracted as we talk of internal inconsistencies. Those issues consider that basic scientific “replicability”; we ask how much research is driven by ideology. Because I’m not a scientist, I don’t feel the white heat of anger Shannon displays in his last post. But, that anger is rational and earned. And I sympathize.

    He would argue that the really big question that remains is the validity of modern science–what he sees as desecration of something in which he believes As in the earlier post on biology, he defends science against those who would use it as a pawn without respecting it.

    And for all of us, scientists and not, the really big questions remain. Are deaths from combat worse than deaths from democide? We know the twentieth century saw many times as many from the latter as from the former. Unfortunately, because democide is a symptom of a dysfunctional state, such democide often led to combat in which we did become involved. So, we ask, was the potential problem Saddam Hussein posed to us large enough to warrant our own losses of life? Theirs? Are the deaths different when caused by us, by insurgents arriving from Syria, by Saddam’s thugs? How do we untangle these deaths and compare their numbers. Ah, that seems easy to answer, deaths are deaths. But the truth is that if we value statehood we must admit Saddam Hussein was the Iraqi’s problem as Kim Jong Il is the Korean’s. How much authority do we want to give to the police in domestic disputes? Do we really want to take that position world wide?

    On the other hand, we do feel a responsibility and believe that a “connected” world is better for us and them.. Such chaos and, indeed, evil, is likely to in the end harm us as well as them. And, even if that were not true, our sense that the community held together by the “ligaments of love” has expanded from 1630 is, I believe, progress. But we must question our own motives – are we so driven by fear of future 9/11s, do we lust after their oil, and does our own emphasis, as Himmelfarb would put it, on the “politics of liberty” assume a universality of values that are peculiar to us.

    In the end, of course, even those questions are governed by bigger ones. Are some things more important than life? How do the Iraqis feel about the place they are in now as opposed to where they were before America invaded?

    Balancing those questions requires pragmatism & facts as well as theory. We really need science. We might well think differently of this balance if two people were on one side or half a million. I suspect we’d see the First Amendment trumped by the death of many hundred thousand Tutsis; that our representatives did not, not realizing, perhaps, the power of those virulent radio voices, is something we all view with shame. Our decisions are tempered by the non-theoretical, the real. But what is real must be real. The problem is that, at this point, we are not comfortable with the work that put that 100,000 onto the scale (and that now, I see in other blogs, has put a 125,000 weight). Indeed, I’ll admit, I don’t want it to be true; I believed it was a good thing to go into Iraq and I still do. But the problem with those scales is not just our lack of comfort with the science that produces such weights (legitimate uneasiness I would argue) but the refusal to note that elections, polls, etc. are beginning to weight the other side as well. I am willing to face a fact face to face, as Thoreau would observe. But the Lancet’s acquiescence in blackmail leads me to doubt 100,000 is such a fact. I am quite willing to believe that man is a fallen creature and more Abu Ghraib’s may well exist; I am quite willing to believe that man makes mistakes and that people have died needlessly at checkpoints. And I’m willing to believe that the U.S. bombs were was not so perfect collateral damage did not happen and perhaps happen often. We understand human nature – and that understanding makes us doubt any studies that don’t take that into consideration.

     

    25 Responses to “Those who Beseige Shannon & the Schiavo Tragedy”

    1. James R. Rummel Says:

      Good post, Ginny.

      James

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      I wondered where my feeding tube went.

    3. Mad House Madman Says:

      I’m just so sorry to see how such a private matter has noe become a national debacle. With politicians all jumping in to have their say. Really, who cares? who are you anyways?

      There is just so much wrong with this case, as a doctor, I can at least say that.

    4. Scotus Says:

      Ginny, without, in this forum, taking a stand on the Shiavo case, I am motivated to point out a factual (perhaps, better, conceptional) error in your comment. The ones who approve of the pulling the tube are the ones who take a “ghost in the machine” view. They say the ghost, i.e. Terri’s consciousness, left the machine of her body 15 years ago; so, all they are doing is allowing a broken, barely running, vacated machine to run out of gas. Those who oppose pulling the tube affirm that human existence is an integral unity of soul and body, psyche and soma. On this view, if Terri were not still “ensouled,” she would not be alive, such is the inseparable union of body and soul. Thus, they say, human life, even if, in a particular situation, it has little quality, is inherently valuable and should always be respected and never directly terminated. Whatever side one takes in this tragic case, it’s important to be sure to represent accurately the positions of both sides.

    5. Ginny Says:

      Thanks.

    6. dsquared Says:

      The fact that dsquared finds it libelous to point to the researcher’s motives ignores the first task of an analytic reader

      The specific thing which I said was on the face of it libellous was Shannon’s claim that the researchers had falsified their results. Could you make a correction, please?

    7. Carol Herman Says:

      Why would it matter if you “dealt” or didn’t deal? To the Shindler’s this isn’t a circus. Where were the supposed to turn? Anywhoo, as soon as Terri’s dead, I’m sure everyone can agree MICHALE ISN’T HER HUSBAND ANYMORE. (And, it would be a shame if he could get her body sent to a crematoria; just like in the old mafia. Without any respect to law.)

      I’m also fascinated that judge greer now thinks his signature, above all others, rules. Who elected him?

      And, how come there are rules that govern medical examiners; but in this case they can be tossed out the window? Or, maybe they won’t be?

      But as tragedies go, I want no part of religion that has Honor’s Killings. And, this sure looks like one.

      As did Waco, if you asked a few questions.

      Did you know Janet Reno had no right to call for tanks? That tanks in American streets aren’t general issue?

      When American saw tanks in China’s Teinemen Square, they “got it.” But in Waco death came first, and in much greater numbers against innocents, than just about any place out in the world (save the nazi beasts. And, the Soviet goons.) But, I mean among “normals.”

      I also don’t think this issue is just for the Right Wing extremists. If anything, those folks look mighty decent.

      Just as it took ordinary democrats to call Janet Reno and Wesley Clark OFF any opportunities they had to run for elected office. It’s the way it shold be in a democracy.

      And, yes, I am waiting to see what Congress does about its subpoenas. It’s not exactly clever of people to toss away their jury summons’ … or their traffic tickets. And, way back when HUAC (That’s the HOUSE, not Joseph McCarthy, in the Senate) … but when they held those Committee Meetings, Arther Miller didn’t have to marry Marilyn Monroe. Other marriage, of course. But by a man who didn’t love her much. I’d guess neither did the Kennedy’s love “that woman” much.

      But here, we gave a man a pass.

      Did we do the same for Billy Clinton when he touched the fat girl?

      Remove emotionalism from the subject. Just look at The Fairness Doctrine.

      I’m going to bet there will be an accounting, ahead. This was a grusome way to treat a Catholic woman; And,yes, the POPE spoke! He said “no.” How far do you separate Church and State, to make it impossible for a Catholic who wants the Pope’s ruling to stand, to make a mockery of it all?

    8. Palo Says:

      Man. What a fun place this is. I left for a few days and it is still a lot of fun. Now the hosts, relentlessly beaten and stripped of any pretension of scientific literacy declare victory and congratulate themselves. “Good post Ginny!” “Way to go Jonathan!”. This is like a neverending Monty Python episode. Which, obviously, were a lot of fun. Your parrot is dead guys.

      And, by the way, it is probably a good time to retire the silly “What Latin America Owes to the “Chicago Boys” link at the top. 60% of Argentina’s population going under the poverty level as a consequence of the “Chicago Boys” policies of the 90’s would probably be a good reason. Or the great increase in infant mortality in northern Argentina due to your hero, Chicago graduate Domingo Cavallo’s tenure as a Finance Minister. But, then again, you’ll probably find ‘bad science’ to count poverty and dead people.
      Time for Dr. Love to ‘debunk’ poverty in Argentina!

    9. Jonathan Says:

      Yes! The food here is terrible but the portions are so small. You are a man of rare insight.

      WRT Argentina, the government there repudiated its international debts and confiscated its citizens’ savings. Would you like to do business in a country like that? Me neither. Now tell me how this kind of incentive-killing behavior is in any way related to the respect for property rights, contracts and free markets that Chicago economists are known for.

    10. Palo Says:

      Jonathan,
      your taste for misleading facts is rather annoying.
      Argentina defaulted on her debt AFTER the financial crisis that resulted from 20 years of monetary and financial advice from the Chicago Boys (Cavallo, Roque Fernandez, Miguel Broda, and the most famous of all the Chicago Boys in Argentina, Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, the financial minister who transformed Argentina to the ‘markets capitalism’ over the corpses of 30,000 people.

      Try to learn before commenting.

    11. Jonathan Says:

      Palo,

      I agree that you dislike Cavallo et al, but can you be more specific about which “market capitalism” policies you believe were responsible for Argentina’s problems?

    12. Palo Says:

      1. privatization (oil in particular). Argentina sold its YPF oil company and now pays one of the highest prices for oil that is sold at international market price in a country that produces it. Before privatization, the cost was roughly the same because about 70% of the price of gas went to the national budget in different forms of taxes. Since privatisation most of that money went to Repsol-YPF shareholders instead, contributing to the large deficits that Argentina was building up.

      2. labor flexibilization that eliminated all safety nets in a country that was climbing to a 30% unemployement. That lead to the most active social unrest in modern times, with hundreds of unemployed taking to the streets (known as ‘piqueteros’)

      3. Privatization of Social Security (big on the ‘Free Market’ agenda) led to record public deficits that could only be sustained by loans that increased the debt burden until Argentina could not meet its payments any longer.

      4. Free market liberization that allow for the unregulated flow of money to and, mostly, from Argentina. The flow of dollars out of Argentina in the leading up to the 2001 crash is estimated in about a third of the total Argentina debt.

      Argentina was the most socially just country in Latinamerica before the Chicago and local ‘free market’ boys got to work there. In 1975 the rich top 10% had a share of the wealth that was 8 times that of the poorest 10%. Now that it’s 30 times higher. Unemployement was at around 6%, now it is 20%.

      considering what is said in this forum about Iraq and the assault on the only report that tries to understand what happened to the regular folks after the US invasion, I guess it is perfectly fitting that this crowd would be proud of the consequences of the ‘Chicago Boys’ intervention in Argentina.

    13. Jonathan Says:

      Palo,

      1. If the State has a revenue shortfall because it privatized companies, doesn’t that suggest that the State should reduce its spending? Why do you expect the shareholders of privatized companies to use their profits less productively than government used the revenues from nationalized companies? You appear to favor nationalized companies over private ones. Why? Privatization generally works well, as long as it done carefully to avoid self-dealing and the creation of perverse incentives. If it doesn’t work well, that suggests that it was handled badly rather than that it’s a bad idea in principle.

      2. The high unemployment was caused by government policies that wrecked saving and investment and businesses, and thereby destroyed jobs and job creation, not by liberalized labor laws. (How does “labor flexibilization” cause unemployment? The USA has much more flexible labor laws than do Germany and France, and much less unemployment. Greater flexibility makes it easier for businesses to hire and fire workers, which reduces the cost of labor overall and thereby increases employment.)

      3. Privatization of Social Security worked well in Chile, why not in Argentina? Again, the fact that a policy turns out badly might mean that it was badly handled rather than a bad idea in principle. In that case it is counterproductive to blame the principle rather than inept execution.

      4. Money flowing out of Argentina is a symptom, not a problem. The problem that causes this symptom is the Argentine government’s anti-free-market policies that make it risky to invest money in Argentine businesses or keep it in Argentine banks. Nobody wants to invest money in countries where the government might confiscate it.

      Argentina was the most socially just country in Latinamerica before the Chicago and local ‘free market’ boys got to work there. In 1975 the rich top 10% had a share of the wealth that was 8 times that of the poorest 10%. Now that it’s 30 times higher. Unemployement was at around 6%, now it is 20%.

      It’s worse now because the government ignored the free-market advice. Confiscating savings and failing to honor contracts are anti-free-market behaviors that have nothing to do with the Chicago Boys’ ideas.

      considering what is said in this forum about Iraq and the assault on the only report that tries to understand what happened to the regular folks after the US invasion, I guess it is perfectly fitting that this crowd would be proud of the consequences of the ‘Chicago Boys’ intervention in Argentina.

      You sound like an angry child. Do you want to have a serious discussion or do you want to insult us?

    14. Palo Says:

      Jonathan, you seem quite dogmatic about the wonders of free market, and you talk generalities probably trying to hide the fact that on this topic you seem to know very little. You can only repeat tiresome dogmas.

      “1. If the State has a revenue shortfall because it privatized companies, doesn’t that suggest that the State should reduce its spending?”

      No. It probably means that the now privatized company was actually quite effective as a state company (which YPF was) and the revenue generated was shared by most population in a sensible way. Norway does it and it ranks as one of the most advanced societies in the planet.

      “Why do you expect the shareholders of privatized companies to use their profits less productively than government used the revenues from nationalized companies?”

      Because very often in third world countries they do. The now privatized Repsol-YPF takes the revenue back to Spain, where it probably did wonders to consolidate the capital markets. That money is not used ‘productively’ in Argentina. So from the stand point of the common argentine citizen, privatization just took money from the argentine treasury to put it in foreign markets. It did not work well.

      “You appear to favor nationalized companies over private ones. Why?”

      I didn’t say that. In fact, telecommunications in Argentina probably benefited from privatization as the system got a much needed investment resulting in modernization. I talked about the case of oil in Argentina (the biggest of the privatized companies). The country as a whole was indisputably much better with the state-owned YPF.

      The point is precisely, that your ‘Chicago School’ dogma declares that privatization is always good, and seem unable to accept that in Argentina the result was not good.

      “2. The high unemployment was caused by government policies that wrecked saving and investment and businesses, and thereby destroyed jobs and job creation, not by liberalized labor laws.

      Wrong again. Unemployment in Argentina went up while the program by free market gurus was in effect. During the Menem government (the darling of the ‘School of Chicago’) unemployment went from 8 to 18% while at the peak of foreign capital investment, probably due to the fact that investment went mostly into speculative financial circuits and never made it to production.

      Once again, I don’t think you even know the particulars of the case.

      (How does “labor flexibilization” cause unemployment?)
      I never said it causes unemployment. If you read my post with attention you would see that I said that when unemployment was high, the labor flexibilization laws preached by the Chicago Boys and passed by a corrupt argentine congress resulted in millions of families falling off the system and forced into looking for food in trash cans, leading to social unrest.
      3. Privatization of Social Security worked well in Chile, why not in Argentina?

      Once again, dogma over facts. According to all reports, the Chilean model went badly and it resulted in less benefits for those that adopted the private system than if they stayed in the state system:
      http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60A13FC3C5F0C748EDDA80894DD404482
      Again, the fact that a policy turns out badly might mean that it was badly handled rather than a bad idea in principle. In that case it is counterproductive to blame the principle rather than inept execution.
      Oh, sure. That’s easy. I tell you to do A, B, C; if it works badly it means you did it wrong. By definition, right?
      4. Money flowing out of Argentina is a symptom, not a problem. The problem that causes this symptom is the Argentine government’s anti-free-market policies that make it risky to invest money in Argentine businesses or keep it in Argentine banks. Nobody wants to invest money in countries where the government might confiscate it.
      Man, once and for all, the problems we are talking about ocurred BEFORE any ‘anti-free-market policies’, not AFTER. It began while at the peak of foreign investment. I don’t understand why you would compound ignorance with arrogance.

      You sound like an angry child. Do you want to have a serious discussion or do you want to insult us?

      I didn’t try to insult anyone, I don’t think I did, but I do realize I can sometimes sound that way. Sorry if that was the case. I just find there is a lot in common in between the position you guys take on the Lancet study and this. That is, you don’t seem as interested in the facts as in attacking any evidence that you might be wrong. You just proved it all the more clear.

    15. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      I leave for a while and guess what…the same old dweebs hijacking a topic with another.

      Yes. I will admit the obvious on poor deluded Jonathan’s behalf. I have never set a foot there but Argentina was a complete and total heaven before the evil capitalists wrecked it. One only has to look at the hell Hong Kong and Taiwan are compared to mainland China to establish a clear correlation between free markets and financial crisis and poverty. The wonders of East Germany before reunification with the greedy bastards on the other side also comes to mind.

      Thankfully, Venezuela is clearly doing so much better under Hugo Chavez than those poor deluded fools around South America who are naively following western capitalist canards.

      Anyway. As of today, Terri Schiavo and Palo’s hobby horse finally have something in common : they’re both dead.

      It’s now time to go to the local church. Every day, I pray God that the people of North Korea be spared the capitalist nightmare their Southern cousins have been enduring for now five decades. The poor souls.

    16. Palo Says:

      Taiwan better than socialist China. China better (heck, 2 decades of 10% growth!) than capitalist El Salvador (heck, 9 decades of 95% poverty levels!). El Salvador better than…? what was the point? One can look at success of Hong Kong, or one can look at the disaster of Bolivia. Wait, I need to put East Germany on this… hey, their swimming team was on drugs! wait, so was Carl Lewis. darn.

      So, Silvain, any actual rebuttal on my points or your are just content with your pedantic ignorance on the effects of free-market policies in Latin America?

      BTW, Venezuela’s GDP is the highest in years. And its people voted for Chavez 8 consecutive times with more than 60%. But you are probably not as much for democracy as for free markets. Heck, who cares about killing and torturing chileans if my ‘Chicago School’-friendly dictator will love me?.

      Ahh, the good old days of the killing Juntas and their free-markets. Don’t you miss ‘em Sylvain?

    17. Jonathan Says:

      Palo,

      Is it socialist or free-market policies that are responsible for China’s high rate of growth since the late-1970s? Is it free-market or socialist policies that are responsible for the poor economic performance of El Salvador? You are quick to accuse others of overgeneralizing, so perhaps you will tell us why the tax cutting and deregulation which fuel China’s boom are incompatible with free-market policies. Perhaps you will explain how it is that countries start to do better economically when they adopt free-market policies, even if they have nominally socialist governments.

      Your evasion of the obvious WRT E. Germany suggests that you know better. OTOH your remarks about Venezuela are almost incoherent. You are deluded if you think Venezuela’s recent economic performance has to do with anything other than the high price of oil. Chavez’s dirigiste policies have seriously harmed Venezuela’s productive sector. (And the recent elections were about as honest as elections in Zimbabwe.)

      Look at the countries people want to leave. They want to leave Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba, etc. Always they go to countries that have greater economic freedom, not less. If your argument were valid, people would want to leave the largely free-market USA, yet almost all of the traffic is in the other direction. If free-market ideas were the cause of the problems in Argentina, why aren’t they causing problems here in the States?

      Ahh, the good old days of the killing Juntas and their free-markets. Don’t you miss ‘em Sylvain?

      So go to Cuba. Socialist killing juntas don’t bother you, right?

    18. Palo Says:

      Hey, guys, if you want to discuss socialism vs. capitalism, do it yourselves. That is not my beef. My argument was, and still is with taking credit for the ‘economic success’ of Argentina in the 90’s that so proudly and prominently appears on the top of your blog. I tried sarcastically to point out that I wasn’t interested in any unrelated arguments with all the absurdities about Hong-Kong, E.Germany that Sylvain brought up. But you guys want to discuss Cuba and Hong-Kong because you fail to find any arguments to defend the colossal disaster that free-market policies brought to most latin american countries, mainly Argentina. So lets keep the childish ‘go live in Cuba’ bs to a minimum.
      A few points simply because your selective examples and misleading facts annoy me:
      Is it socialist or free-market policies that are responsible for China’s high rate of growth since the late-1970s? Is it free-market or socialist policies that are responsible for the poor economic performance of El Salvador?
      Socialist El Salvador? I don’t know what books you read. Kindly provide your sources.
      OTOH your remarks about Venezuela are almost incoherent. You are deluded if you think Venezuela’s recent economic performance has to do with anything other than the high price of oil.
      Would you make a similar statement on Chile based on the price of Copper? Would you say that all the Chicago-School-trumpeted free-market ‘miracle’ of Chile is from an economy based on 40-50% copper exports? Would you also acknowledge that in fact Copper production was NOT privatised by the criminal Pinochet so it doesn’t really count as free-market? Let’s see if your intellectual honesty can go that far.
      Chavez’s dirigiste policies have seriously harmed Venezuela’s productive sector. (And the recent elections were about as honest as elections in Zimbabwe.)
      Really? Can you provide any proof on the dishonesty of the venezuelan elections? or is this another of those things that you just say without any knowledge?. International observers (most of them americans) clearly stated that there were no irregularities in the venezuelan elections. You obviously have no grounds for that charge other than you don’t like Chavez so you feel you have the right to lie and mislead about Venezuela in a public forum.
      Look at the countries people want to leave. They want to leave Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba, etc.
      You can always count on misleading facts by Jonathan. It must be only a momentary lack of country names in your mind that you forgot to mention Mexico, Haiti, South Korea, Taiwan, Paraguay, Ecuador, Pakistan, etc. etc.. Do you, by the way, know that more koreans and taiwanese emigrated to Argentina in the last decades than argentinians and venezuelan combined emigrated to the US? Of course you don’t. Facts mean nothing to you unless they fit your ideology.
      If your argument were valid, people would want to leave the largely free-market USA, yet almost all of the traffic is in the other direction.
      What a twisted logic. No, Jonathan. I talked always about free-markets in peripheral countries like those in latin america, and I argued that the main reason they don’t work is because capital tends to eventually flow out of those countries (we can discuss the reasons later). The difference with the US is that US is daily flooded with 4bn dollars of foreign money, which keeps the wheel turning. As Joe Stiglitz and others argued many times, if for some reason the rest of the world stops pouring money into US bonds and markets, the US would go the way Argentina went in 2001. But in the meantime, one obvious consequence of that constant influx of money into the US economy is that salaries can be artificially high, which in turn is a great reason for foreigners to come to live in the US. Argentina (or third world in general) capitalism exports money, US (or european) capitalism gets that money.

      So go to Cuba. Socialist killing juntas don’t bother you, right?

      Any killing state bothers me. I was a victim of one. One of my main problems with your proud standing behind ‘free-markets’ in Chile is that it hides the fact that it was carried-out by one of the most criminal cold-blooded dictatorship in the history of latin america. I never heard Milton Friedman or the Chicago School consultants repudiating the chilean government. As a matter of fact, I haven’t heard you repudiate it.

    19. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      So let’s summarize. Disagreeing with Palo, regardless of facts or evidence is ‘pedantic’, ‘dogmatic’, ‘arrogant’, ‘ignorant’, and a few more I’m missing.

      There is still hope that after much self-important huffing and puffing, the adolescent troll will realize the amusing self-referential consequences of his name-calling. Or is there ?

      In the meantime, one will note than when a free marketer points out to GDP growth or GDP per capita to support his position, he will be condescendingly told by the Palos of the world that GDP, income and money are not everything, assuming they are even relevant in the judgment of ‘social models’.

      Interestingly however, as soon as it comes to proving capitalism evil, all we hear about from those same critics has everything to do with money, capital and GDP : from income gaps and healthcare spending to median income levels etc. Money, money, money. Funny how that works.

      Case in point : China’s growth is 10% a year therefore you’re better off living there than in Hong Kong ! Game, set, match. I hope someone tells the poor people who still live in Hong Kong. I mean, they should know right ?

      Just like Cubans have better health care and education than Americans. That country’s reliably honest and truthful government says so, so it must be true right ? Which would go a long way explaining the thousands of wretched Americans risking life and limb every year swimming across the Florida Strait.

      Next thing you know, Chavez is a democrat. A former colonel who attempted and failed a coup in 1992, rigs election and the constitution to entrench his power and his cronies is a true democrat. Sure is. After all, Castro is one of his models and it’s mighty hard to argue with such obvious democratic acumen and credentials.

      At which point a pattern emerges: creepy autocrats in uniforms are OK if their madness, incompetence and corruption are justified in the name of socialism. Pinochet, evil. Castro, good.

      We are then told about Venezuela’s wonderful GDP, except once slight details such as the 16.9% inflation rate are taken into account, we find out that it currently clocks around -3.8%. Hmm. But wait ! If capitalist economic growth is inherently evil, negative growth has got to be good right ? Who can argue with such success in destroying wealth ? Wealth is bad so less wealth is good ! This Chavez dude is on to something. Genius, even.

      As for the nominal increase in GDP proper, all of it was due to rising oil prices which, I am sure, benefits each and every citizen of Venezuela. “It’s all about the oil”, after all.

      Last but not least, we must remember that if people are murdered by a state and that country’s economy is capitalist, capitalism must – and that is self-evident – be either responsible for, or intimately connected with those crimes. How could it possibly be otherwise ? As we well know, communism has never resulted in the deliberate killing, deportation or torture of anyone. It may be true that some ‘Great Leap Forward’ resulted in the death by starvation of about 30 million people, that one Pol Pot wiped out 25% of his country’s population and Fidel might be jailing and executeing dissidents but, you know….what does that have to do with socialism anyway ?

      Pinochet, though….now that’s an evil right here. Who cares if it took the guy a decade to kill what Stalin dispatched in a week. He believed in free markets. Inconceivable !

      Yawn.

      As this is not only still wildly off-topic and all too predictable, I shall go to the pub and drink to Che, Kim and all those virtuous comrades who strive and struggle to ensure individuals are ultimately freed from capitalism by submitting themselves to the common good as defined by the Fidels, Hugos and Palos of the world.

      Peace.

    20. Jonathan Says:

      Palo,

      You are welcome on our blog if you want to discuss issues in an adult way.

      But if you want to call us liars, put words in our mouths, say we sympathize with murderers, ignore our responses and demand we answer your questions, get your own blog. I’m done wasting time with you.

    21. Palo Says:

      Sylvain,
      I still see nothing related to my arguments on the miserable failure of the Chicago School ‘free markets’ as it relates to Argentina.

      I take it you have nothing to say but rehashed slogans. Enough said.

      Jonathan,
      Every time you have no arguments you turn into complaining about style. You sound like an angry child and discuss like such.

      You have a prominent link on top of your page to an article talking about the wonders of the Chicago School theories in Argentina and Chile.

      I asked, and got no answer:

      1. Are you guys still proud of Argentina going down the tubes thanks to the policies YOU guys claimed were yours?

      2. Do you guys acknowledge the Chicago Boys recommendations in Chile were instrumented over a pile of murdered chileans?

      To 1. I get ‘capitalism is great, Chavez is bad. If things turn good in Argentina it is thanks to us, if they turn badly, it is their fault.

      Predictable. Dogmatic. Pedantic. I stand by them all

      To 2. I get “go live in Cuba. Chavez is bad”.

    22. Palo Says:

      Why do you guys have such a problem taking the heat from my posts but have no problem in sending it my way?
      You save no words, analogies and references when trying to impeach my arguments, most I find unfair and unrelated (like I ever defended human rights violations anywhere?). It is only fair you also take it. In any case, passionate doesn’t mean disrespectul. I don’t like your stand on this topic, and I say it. You do the same. All is fine.
      BTW,the ‘angry child’ bit in the previous post was meant mostly sarcastically, because that is precisely what Gerwith called me before becoming so touchy about words. I do not know if Jonathan is an angry child.

    23. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Back from the pub…Should have stayed there.

      Arguments ? Where ? Loony assertions that general economic policy prescriptions are ‘instrumental’ to, or responsible for state murder constitute arguments ? No empty slogans there, of course.

      Tell you what. You are absolutely right. If Argentina’s economy collapses, it proves capitalism’s failings, regardless of the number of capitalist economies who either do not have those problems or have since recovered from them. And when a communist regime turns into an economic and human disaster, which happens virtually every single time, there is nothing wrong with the ideology. It’s pure coincidence and western propaganda.

      And yes, go for it. By all means, go live in Cuba. It’s not like they get a lot of immigration anyway so you should be welcomed. After all, western leftists rarely put their feet where their loud mouths are by moving to those supposedly wonderful socialist havens.

      I wonder why…After all, millions of people have given up everything and even risked their lives to move to America, Hong Kong, western europe, Taiwan, South Korea…But how many western socialists do the same the other way ?

      Odd, that.

    24. Palo Says:

      Sylvain. You obviously didn’t bother to read my original posts on the Argentine economy. Or, once again, you have nothing to say but to relive the old Cold War. No sense in discussing with a closed-minded ideologue.

      bah bye.

    25. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      The ‘ideologue’ defense. So original. So unpredictable.

      One must wonder how many posts it will take the frustrated adolescent to be done wanking off in public. I don’t mind teenagers indulging their natural impulses but come on….get it over with already.

      And next time, please keep it in the privacy of your own home. Thank you.