That google blackhole.

Is it just me or does the internet form into a black hole of uselessness when you’re looking for information for an assignment or study purposes.

I’ve got two courses happening at the moment. There’s a Certificate III in Instrumentation and Control and the introductory accounting course, that is a part of the business diploma I’m working on at the moment.

The accounting stuff ain’t to bad when it comes to online research as they outline a lot of the resources you need to reference.  It’s only a few points here with that and there (with this course) I’m reminded of the issue I’m having a bitch about tonight.

The Cert 3 really is the one that’s really brought this aspect of online learning to my attention. There’s the usual supply of reading material that’s given to you and then there’s the other stuff, which you’re expected to look up online.

And this is where you can waste hours if you have the patience.

There’s a downside to letting anyone post whatever ideas they want on the internet. And having a search  engine that works off looking for key words doing it’s thing, well that leads to a lot of pages of nothing as I’ve found out recently.

I now know there’s a lot of guys from India that are process engineers, that like to post quite extensive Powerpoint presentations about the subject online.

Sorta helpful but not really.

I’ve found this leads to a massive amount of time spent looking into pages and sites that may have some form of reliable data on the subject you’re looking to learn from. Which is fuggen infuriating, when you’ve got a job and thus limited time to spend doing your homework.

IMO. That’s a business improvement opportunity right there. Don’t waste your clients money and time by lacking a focus on what it is you’re wanting them to learn. When you’re designing an online course, be concise about the reference sources you want your students to using in the study. It’ll benefit them and leave them recommending your services to other like-minded people in the target segment of the market.

 

 

On tax cuts for the rich and Panama.

We fight for and against not men and things as they are, but for and against the caricatures we make of them.

J.A. Schumpeter

The ‘Ol Trickle Down™ myth,

You see trotted out by all the Tax and Spend types all the time when their political opponents work towards tax cuts for businesses. And when you take the time to consider the basis of the claim and some of the counter arguments against it, you have to wonder if someone’s missed out on the idea of doing their homework on the subject before opening their mouth and letting us all know the obvious.

The idea behind the trickle down economics has been traced back to William Jennings Bryan in 1896 in his Cross of Gold speech. The term “trickle down” emerged in a column by comedian actor Will Rogers in 1932. These days it’s used to critique the Supply Side school of economics by those who believe any tax cuts for the wealthy or business owners, robs those at the middle and lower portions of the economic scale due to the expected decrease in government tax receipts.

My issue with this claim is when you look into the subject in detail, you find it’s often little more than a political ruse used to goad the conversation in a certain direction. It’s fundamentally lacking, in any serious analysis of the economic situation both current and historically, to claim that any recognised economic identity has advocated this as a means to economic prosperity.

As an exercise that’d help understand this claim is you could simply consult any serious economic school of thought and see if that idea has ever been substantiated as a course of action they’d advise a government to take.

Consider also when you observe the number of political actors across the globe that use this phrase, the dishonesty is amplified. There’s always a need for taxes or borrowing to fund the ideas that our politicians. After all, they have a vision for us and we need to pay play our part, right? And if we elect the right one, we’ll get something back for it, right?

I often wonder if they think that no-one notices that their schemes of wealth redistribution alway seems to have that wealth, first passing through the hands of those in government, they’re supporting at the time. I also wonder if there’s a majority that sees this factor and just accepts it as being how life is.

Now it has to be said that there is merit in the claim in a roundabout way. That cutting taxes doesn’t automatically ensure that wages will increase. But as we know, life ain’t that simple and any assumptions on complex issues like the economy require those assumptions to be founded on a correct basis.

A dynamic that will shed some light on the possibilities of the complexity in economics that I have found, comes some economic history that Thomas Sowell did in his writing on the subject Trickle Down Theory and Tax Cuts for the Rich.  He writes that “under the high income tax rates at the end of the Woodrow Wilson administration in 1921, vast sums of money had been put into tax shelters such as tax-exempt municipal bonds, instead of being invested in the private economy, where this money would create more output, incomes and jobs”.

There’s always more at play then what the critics who focus on singular issues may want to allow to be suggested. It reminds me of those who claim the wage gap between males and females is due to sexism aimed at women. It’s a multivariate dynamic, with when considering the issue of taxes being missed by governments often being due to their own influence.

A while back we had the Panama Papers episode surface internationally in 2015 and the net it cast was world-wide and included links to a number of persons of influence around the globe. Now, the ICIJ website link I’ve cited here acknowledges that there are legitimate uses for offshore companies. I see this as just another example, as Sowell describes, of the effect of tax laws and the methods that the investor class will make use of to avoid excess costs.

The point I’m trying to make here is that, when those political actors behave like they want to give the average punter a fair go i.e. more taxes equal more publicly funded services and therefore promote schemes that are economically founded on these premises. This approach can create the kinds of results that provide the folder for the subjective assessment of the wealthy, that part of society that invests in industry and economic activity beyond a day job when they choose not to play along as nicely as the high tax proponents would prefer them too. They didn’t get to where they are by being stupid. And at the end of the day, it’s often the case that those political actors make tax rules creating the loopholes the wealthy use to legally avoid tax.

Now, there has to be a point at where we recognise the obvious and be willing to compromise and make sense of how things work. And when this challenges our world view, well the that world view needs to take a back seat and give way to methods that make the best of a complex situation.

I’m not backing one side or the other here. I don’t consider myself to be that economically literate (hence the blog). We can have certain services that are better provided by coming together (in the form of ‘good’ government) but the proponents of this method need to recognise the limits of this concept.

The partisan baiting of the electorate needs to be laid bare for what it is and that’s can be a difficult thing to do when we are a polity of taxpayers who expect a return on our taxes. And I realise that your average voter isn’t going to be some well read economist. I’ve tried studying the subject myself and have failed to fully comprehend the subject (and its many schools of thought) but as I’ve said complex dynamics require an honest assessment.

When we give in to an idea like taxation on all and sundry, just because we think that it will reward us with better services thus being a good thing socially, we fail to even grasp the effect of the use of taxes to facilitate those services. Opportunity cost, I’m hinting at you this time.

I’m not pleading the case for some libertarian ideal here, you only need to see how governments can waste huge sums of taxpayer money to provide evidence of that. There needs to be an understanding of the concepts of perverse incentives and unintended consequences that accompany any complicated plan we want to enact. The idea that you have a hammer and every problem’s a nail doesn’t stand the test of time.

I guess what I’m arguing for is that ever elusive balance factor when it comes to governments spending our taxes. The problem of just how much is too much or too little is a complex scenario that isn’t solved by baiting people with a single sentence response to a solution that is a damn sight more complex than that type of response.

 

 

 

 

Troll/not Troll.

Observing the goings on in the cyber circles on social media can be interesting. There’s the obvious lack of the visual to provide the cues one could rely on when communicating face to face with another human that’d assist with grasping the ideas being discussed.

Another aspect of this type of communication is learning to rely on understanding the way people write to develop your understanding of the identity of the person you are reading about. This process unfortunately can be subjective at the best of times due to the fact that some social media platforms limit the ability of their users to articulate their views.

One of those cyber circles I frequent is the MRA presence one Twitter. Now for starters , I don’t view this group as large and varied as some might. There’s this idea that if you’re somehow anti feminist you’re an MRA, which is kinda cute but doesn’t withstand the torture test that the proving process requires.

And to be honest I haven’t fully delineated what I’d call an MRA but I’ve a fair idea of the go/no go dynamic regarding this one. I say that as someone who’s not fully engaged with that scene and doesn’t have a working history with that group.

I’ve only detailed my entry into this circle lightly in the past and as someone who’s got a life to live, the time constraints on gaining a full understanding of the topics the MRA movement seeks to promote have negatively impacted my grasp of what’s happening here.

That said, I’m of the viewpoint at this stage that I’ve intuitively positioned myself as a sceptic of the current political dynamic regarding the sexes and the related progress of life on this planet so far regarding these discussions.

If you can see what I’m saying, I guess I won’t have to explain that hang up in detail.

Now, onto the focus example of this post. There’s a Twitter user who goes by the ID @takedownMRAs. He pops up every now and then sniping at the likes of Paul Elam and Cassie Jaye etc, some the profiles associated with the MRHM, I look at from time to time. And for want of applying the Golden rule of trying to see the better of anyone you interact with I’ve tried to understand this person’s viewpoints as they’re presented.

I’ve had no personal interaction with this profile so far but upon observing the activity this individual presents we can see with a little deduction, the angle of approach used by this person.

My aim here is not to focus singularly on this Twitter user due to their antics but to use their actions as an example of how the use of social media can be misleading and counter productive the progress of the conversations we have around any of the issues we discuss online. There are plenty that fall into this dynamic, willing or other wise but I think for the sake of this exercise, this example is sufficient.

I’m also aware I’m going over familiar ground here but its an exercise that is beneficial in the social media age and the development of my own thoughts surrounding this dynamic.

I’ll refer to this Twitter user as TDM from here on with this write up and focus on those random occasions I’ve witnessed this user’s activity.

One of the recent examples I witnessed was TDM posting on Cassie Jaye’s Twitter feed inferring that her work was deficient when it came to checking the claims of the person she interviewed, in respect to Cassie critiquing the media’s reaction to an edit of the recent Last Jedi film.

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Now, in this example it’s obvious to see that the quoted comment and the attached excerpt from the affidavit are focused on two different aspects of this event. The fact that this Tweet is observable by anyone who wants to see it also is revealing. It’s telling that a take like this, from a Twitter user who has 15.3 thousand followers, thinks that this approach isn’t constructive as well. And it continues along this tangent whenever TDM engages in a conversation about MRAs. Check the profile, you’ll see it all pile up there.

You’ll see TDM referencing other social media users, for example Eivind Burge, that TDM claims is an MRA that the MRA scene has vehemently rejects due to Eivind’s views, to put it in his own terms, on “male sexuality”.

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The building of a critique of the MRA movement supporting by putting the likes if Eivind on display, as an example of a MRA, is a clear case of a strawman argument. A little homework can set you straight on what I’m on about here. It’s seems a little under thought when you step back and consider the range of voices involved in this conversations.

Now, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an example of weak trolling not designed to be taken seriously but when you read the interactions between TDM and others you’ll see the other red flags that give some insight into the mindset behind these posts. And it’s on that basis I believe there’s something more interesting going on here.

When you see argument markers that borrow phrases and terminology from concepts and ideologies it’s an immediate give away, when you see how they’re used, that lets you know whether the user understands them or not. And with TDM’s example we see the usual pro BLM, white privilege critiques, claims about patriarchy and late stage capitalism that offers the observer the chance to position themselves regarding the discourse they could have with this person. In TDM’s case it’s the stereotypical PoMo/Marxist/pop sociology gibberish that’s all so fashionable in certain circles these days.

The only way you could claim they’re trolling is if you would critique them for advancing a viewpoint without understanding the short falls of the concepts they’re employing in their own critiques. And detailing those short falls is another discussion altogether.

It’s at this point I’m once again reminded of the Keynes quote about the influence of ideas not fully understood.

“Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist”. 

TDM isn’t the only one who fails here, hell even I would put my hand up for that one as a default position, I aint no genius know all. But that said it’s sloppy in debates, to advance incautiously and critique others from a foundation that can be taken apart easily.

And hiding inside an echo chamber of like opinions wont suffice as well. Ya gotta stay on top of your game if you want to be effective at this.

All that said, I’m not above recognising this person’s efforts as good if they make a valid point. We are all human and suffer the ability to maintain a false or underdeveloped interpretation of what we see in the world. And I think, all in all, we mean well but we have to be conscious of the sum of our efforts. And it’s on that basis I’d claim that the conduct like I’m observing from the likes of TDM fall desperately short of the mark of any attempt for the greater good. This Twitter user comes across as bitter about the world due to how they have allowed themselves to see it. This ain’t a good mental place to get comfortable with yourself.

My summation for this exercise would be that it’s obviously important to know what you’re on about. Applying then Golden rule of personal with interactions, while initially suffering the possibility of being naive or unassuming, can give all the involved parties some room to move in developing your own understanding of a subject.

But you can’t play nice with stupid forever. And allowing yourself to wander off the map, like the example I’m talking about here, doesn’t do anyone any favours in the long run. This nonsense will go full circle and it’s hard to defend if you have a history of this kind of conduct. And in a way it’ll allow you opponents to use your work against your own efforts. Which when you see that as an option, you’d think you’d avoid that course of action like the plague. Obviously, some can’t see that light at the end of that tunnel.

 

 

 

Surfacing again.

My on again off again blogging habit has played its hand, as it will. A wee bit has happened between drinks here. Any ways, I’m aiming to be more productive this year and as I’m more a person who finds organisation appealing as opposed to someone who works, due to inspiration. As I wanted to do originally, I’d like to develop my blogging habit to accommodate a weekly presentation of my thoughts, in order to force myself to consider how I see the world in a more thorough manner. I guess it’s up to me to achieve this and I guess time will tell if this plan works out to be something I believe I need.