Marriner Eccles

Marriner S. Eccles was another of the early Keynesians of which there were quite a few. Keynes wrote the book but the ideas were in the air then as they remain today. This is from Wikipedia.

Marriner Stoddard Eccles (September 9, 1890 – December 18, 1977) was an American bankereconomist, and member and chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.Eccles was known during his lifetime chiefly as having been the Chairman of the Federal Reserve under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He has been remembered for having anticipated and supporting the theories of John Maynard Keynes relative to “inadequate aggregate spending” in the economy which appeared during his tenure. As Eccles wrote in his memoir Beckoning Frontiers (1951):

As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth … to provide men with buying power. … Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. … The other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped….

Eccles was and is seen as an early proponent of demand stimulus projects to fend off the ravages of the Great Depression. Eccles was famously rebuked by Congresswoman Jessie Sumner (RIL) during a House of Representatives hearing on the increasingly liberal policies of the Roosevelt administration and the Federal Reserve, when she said, you just love socialism.” He became known as a defender of Keynesian ideas, though his ideas predated Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936). In that respect, he is considered by some to have seen monetary policy having secondary importance and that as a result he allowed the Federal Reserve to be sublimated to the interests of the Treasury. In this view, the Federal Reserve after 1935 acquired new instruments to command monetary policy, but it did not change its behavior significantly. Further, his defense of the Federal Reserve-Treasury accord in 1951 is sometimes seen as a reversal of his previous policy stances.

Economic clowns at every turn

Fascinating title from an article in the Financial Times: Why economists keep being wrong on policy. It comes with a bit of interesting content in its description of the nature of economic theory and policy:

The abiding sin threaded through it all was that of certitude. Perfectly plausible but untested theories, whether about the money supply, fiscal balances and debt levels, or market risk, were elevated to the level of irrefutable facts. Economics, essentially a faith-based discipline, represented itself as a hard science. The real world was reduced by the 1990s to a set of complex mathematical equations that no one, least of all democratically elected politicians, dared challenge.

Thus detached from reality, economic policy swept away the postwar balance between the interests of society and markets. Arid econometrics replaced a measured understanding of political economy. It scarcely mattered that the gains of globalisation were scooped up by the super-rich, that markets became casinos and that fiscal fundamentalism was widening social divisions. Nothing counted above the equations.

And what is the conclusion?

And now? After Donald Trump, Brexit and Covid-19, it seems we are back at the beginning. Time to dust off Keynes’s general theory.

It does make me laugh. Donald Trump created the greatest economic upturn in American history but that remains completely invisible to these clowns. It would never occur to them to examine just what happened and why it might have worked. But the notion that Keynes and his General Theory have been absent from policy and need to be brought back may be the most stupid comment I have seen on economic theory and policy in a very long time.

Harry Harlow’s experiments on love and affection

Rhesus monkey clings to surrogate mother.

I have  just run across this experiment in the psychology of mother love and it is fascinating. This is from Harlow’s Classic Studies Revealed the Importance of Maternal Contact. What amazes me is the criticism he endured for his supposed cruelty to animals.

Infant rhesus monkeys were taken away from their mothers and raised in a laboratory setting, with some infants placed in separate cages away from peers. In social isolation, the monkeys showed disturbed behavior, staring blankly, circling their cages, and engaging in self-mutilation. When the isolated infants were re-introduced to the group, they were unsure of how to interact — many stayed separate from the group, and some even died after refusing to eat.

Even without complete isolation, the infant monkeys raised without mothers developed social deficits, showing reclusive tendencies and clinging to their cloth diapers. Harlow was interested in the infants’ attachment to the cloth diapers, speculating that the soft material may simulate the comfort provided by a mother’s touch. Based on this observation, Harlow designed his now-famous surrogate mother experiment.

In this study, Harlow took infant monkeys from their biological mothers and gave them two inanimate surrogate mothers: one was a simple construction of wire and wood, and the second was covered in foam rubber and soft terry cloth. The infants were assigned to one of two conditions. In the first, the wire mother had a milk bottle and the cloth mother did not; in the second, the cloth mother had the food while the wire mother had none.

In both conditions, Harlow found that the infant monkeys spent significantly more time with the terry cloth mother than they did with the wire mother. When only the wire mother had food, the babies came to the wire mother to feed and immediately returned to cling to the cloth surrogate.

This is what he said in reply to his critics:

Remember, for every mistreated monkey, there are a million mistreated children. If my work will point this out, and save only one million human children then I can’t get overly concerned about ten monkeys.

At least his colleagues seemed to understand the nature and importance of his work.

In 1958, Harlow was elected president of the American Psychological Association. At the APA’s annual meeting on August 31 of that year, he delivered a seminal paper titled “The Nature of Love,” cited in Love at Goon Park (public library) — Deborah Blum’s masterful chronicle of how Harlow pioneered the science of affection.

This is the experimental result that mattered.

His most famous experiment involved giving young rhesus monkeys a choice between two different “mothers.” One was made of soft terrycloth but provided no food. The other was made of wire but provided nourishment from an attached baby bottle.

Harlow removed young monkeys from their natural mothers a few hours after birth and left them to be “raised” by these mother surrogates. The experiment demonstrated that the baby monkeys spent significantly more time with their cloth mother than with their wire mother.

In other words, the infant monkeys went to the wire mother only for food but preferred to spend their time with the soft, comforting cloth mother when they were not eating. Harlow concluded that affection was the primary force behind the need for closeness.

I suspect this is as much true for adults as it is for children.

Children at the Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children in Sighetu Marmaţiei, Romania, in September 1992

But no sooner to I come across that, I came across this: 30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact. And there, in the midst of the story there was this:

Neuroscientists tended to view “attachment theory” as suggestive and thought-provoking work within the “soft science” of psychology. It largely relied on case studies or correlational evidence or animal research. In the psychologist Harry Harlow’s infamous “maternal deprivation” experiments, he caged baby rhesus monkeys alone, offering them only maternal facsimiles made of wire and wood, or foam and terry cloth.

Why use monkeys when you can use real children.

By design, 68 of the children would continue to receive “care as usual,” while the other 68 would be placed with foster families recruited and trained by BEIP. (Romania didn’t have a tradition of foster care; officials believed orphanages were safer for children.) Local kids whose parents volunteered to participate made up a third group. The BEIP study would become the first-ever randomized controlled trial to measure the impact of early institutionalization on brain and behavioral development and to examine high-quality foster care as an alternative.

And then they were assessed and then re-assessed again.

When the children were reassessed in a “strange situation” playroom at age 3.5, the portion who displayed secure attachments climbed from the baseline of 3 percent to nearly 50 percent among the foster-care kids, but to only 18 percent among those who remained institutionalized—and, again, the children moved before their second birthday did best. “Timing is critical,” the researchers wrote. Brain plasticity wasn’t “unlimited,” they warned. “Earlier is better.”

The benefits for children who’d achieved secure attachments accrued as time went on. At age 4.5, they had significantly lower rates of depression and anxiety and fewer “callous unemotional traits” (limited empathy, lack of guilt, shallow affect) than their peers still in institutions. About 40 percent of teenagers in the study who’d ever been in orphanages, in fact, were eventually diagnosed with a major psychiatric condition. Their growth was stunted, and their motor skills and language development stalled. MRI studies revealed that the brain volume of the still-institutionalized children was below that of the never institutionalized, and EEGs showed profoundly less brain activity. “If you think of the brain as a light bulb,” Charles Nelson has said, “it’s as though there was a dimmer that had reduced them from a 100-watt bulb to 30 watts.”

And then later in the article we come to this.

As early as 2003, it was evident to the BEIP scientists and their Romanian research partners that the foster-care children were making progress. Glimmering through the data was a sensitive period of 24 months during which it was crucial for a child to establish an attachment relationship with a caregiver, Zeanah says. Children taken out of orphanages before their second birthday were benefiting from being with families far more than those who stayed longer. “When you’re doing a trial and your preliminary evidence is that the intervention is effective, you have to ask, ‘Do we stop now and make the drug available to everyone?’ ” he told me. “For us, the ‘effective drug’ happened to be foster care, and we weren’t capable of creating a national foster-care system.” Instead, the researchers announced their results publicly, and the next year, the Romanian government banned the institutionalization of children under the age of 2. Since then, it has raised the minimum age to 7, and government-sponsored foster care has expanded dramatically.

But in the end, both sets of children ended up damaged. This is a passage towards the end of the article.

The neuropsychologist Ron Federici was another of the first wave of child-development experts to visit the institutions for the “unsalvageables,” and he has become one of the world’s top specialists caring for post-institutionalized children adopted into Western homes. “In the early years, everybody had starry eyes,” Federici says. “They thought loving, caring families could heal these kids. I warned them: These kids are going to push you to the breaking point. Get trained to work with special-needs children. Keep their bedrooms spare and simple. Instead of ‘I love you,’ just tell them, ‘You are safe.’ ” But most new or prospective parents couldn’t bear to hear it, and the adoption agencies that set up shop overnight in Romania weren’t in the business of delivering such dire messages. “I got a lot of hate mail,” says Federici, who is fast-talking and blunt, with a long face and a thatch of shiny black hair. “ ‘You’re cold! They need love! They’ve got to be hugged.’ ” But the former marine, once widely accused of being too pessimistic about the kids’ futures, is now considered prescient.

Federici and his wife adopted eight children from brutal institutions themselves: three from Russia and five from Romania, including a trio of brothers, ages 8, 10, and 12. The two oldest weighed 30 pounds each and were dying from untreated hemophilia and hepatitis C when he carried them out the front door of their orphanage; it took the couple two years to locate the boys’ younger brother in another institution. Since then, in his clinical practice in Northern Virginia, Federici has seen 9,000 young people, close to a third of them from Romania. Tracking his patients across the decades, he has found that 25 percent require round-the-clock care, another 55 percent have “significant” challenges that can be managed with adult-support services, and about 20 percent are able to live independently.

Harry Harlow was not just right, he was more right than he would ever know. It is common sense and indeed obvious; it is very hard to provide warmth outside a family relationship.

Bo Snerdley speaks

Plus this, which really is beyond even the normal level of disgusting.

The official lie beats the truth every time

And this article comes with more or less the same title: Exposed: The Media Has Been Lying About The Capitol Protests.

What is common about all of these media-fed narratives?

Not one of them is true. Not. One.

Let’s take each claim in turn.

The “fact” that five people were killed is false. Only one person is known to have been killed inside the building. She was a protester who was shot at close range by a police officer. (Had she been a minority, there would have been riots in the streets over police brutality.)

Two others died of “medical emergencies” while they happened to be on the Capitol grounds – which is not uncommon in mass gatherings. Another was apparently trampled by protestors climbing the Capitol steps – which is indeed a tragedy.

But you know what? Nobody cares. The people who matter least to our political leaders are the ones whose votes they seek. See, for example, this by Karl Rove: Donald Trump smears don’t diminish Mitch McConnel. Actual outcomes in the real world count for nothing. This is what matters, as factually untrue as this most certainly is:

Trump may not be fully aware of shifting currents among congressional Republicans. More members now admit privately that Trump had no coat-tails in the November election. Especially in the suburbs, some Republicans and many GOP-leaning independents refused to take his lawn signs or support him. That’s why so many Republican congressional candidates ran ahead of the former president.

That’s what matters, will someone get funding and support from the party itself?

Why were the following people famous while they were still alive?

Just thinking about how one might just possibly get around the cancel culture of invincible ignorance that is the most notable characteristic of so much among the left today, and I thought about that kind of question. You might include the following names among the list just as a start.

  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Charlemagne
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
  • William Shakespeare
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Copernicus
  • George Washington
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Captain James Cook
  • Adam Smith
  • John Stuart Mill
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Karl Marx
  • William Gladstone
  • Winston Churchill

The list should be, of course, much longer and there should be dates and historical periods associated with each of them. An education consists of knowing who did what, when they did it, perhaps even some speculation why they did what they did, so that there is an understanding of why the world ended up in the way it is. And it wouldn’t hurt to know a bit of something about modern chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology as well.

Woke stupidity has already been in Australia for quite a long time

This is from Instapundit

WOKE STUPIDITY COMES TO AUSTRALIA: Governor General’s staff to be asked to do woke ‘privilege walk’ so they can identify how entitled they are while being asked bizarre questions like ‘were your parents ever addicted to drugs?’ Proper response: “I’m entitled not to be subjected to this idiocy.” 103

There is also the following string of comments that are worth noting. But bear in mind as your read these comments that for myself, the second best decision I have ever made was coming to Australia in 1975 (with the best, getting married to my blesséd wife five years later). Nevertheless, I understand what these people mean by their comments, even agree with many of them. But we in Australia are a minor political entity, one that has supported by sending troops to fight side by side with the United States in every single war the US has found itself in the midst of since 1900. No exception to that, and I also think there is no other nation that can say the same.

And Australia has proven, with the Wuhan virus and their totally hysteric reaction to it, that it is the world’s most insane country – which is no easy feat in this crazy world.

You’re thinking of Melbourne. The rest of Australia has been open and business as usual almost the entire time. Melbourne had the hysterical reaction and the lockdowns and curfews and arrests over Facebook posts – and also had 90% of the total COVID deaths in Australia.

Does Melbourne have a disproportionate percentage of folks with shiny, slip-on, shoes and PERFECT hair and nails?

Of course, Australia was already known as the country that sanctioned their swimmers because they took pictures with some guns in Texas. Friggin pictures!!

Melbourne is the only state or province or whatever it is that went into the latest insane lockdown house arrest of the citizenry (and others unlucky enough to be there) but the whole country is crazy and acting as if the Wuhan virus is Ebola or something.

Sydney is New South Wales. Their state governments are basically run exactly like they’re running Britain. Heavy on the government emergency powers and light on anything respecting constitutional rights

Our constitution is frankly utter shit when it comes to civil rights. I’ve long supported stealing the US Bill of Rights, and just:

1. Cross out “Congress” and write in “Parliament”.
2. Add enough profanity to make it clear we mean it.

Everyone in the world seems to be doing the Communist Chinese Wuhan virus dance on their citizens’ heads That’s no surprise for 90% of the world, but some in the West (ideologically, speaking) have gone particularly apeshit with it. We’ve got New York and California and Minnesota and Washington and others who are competing for “World’s craziest tyranny” award. I’m just saying that Australia is in the lead by a decent amount. I’ve been watching the Australian Open and it’s been a total joke what they did to the players (and are doing). Of course, most of the tennis players are scumbag leftists and BLM supporters and America-haters, so they deserve it.

I get what you’re saying though its a huge embarrassment all over. I’ve not had any hope for Australia for the last couple of years because of their idiocy they imported from Europe (Britain in particular). Australians should be way better than this. Heck their Constitution was almost entirely based off the American Constitution with influences from Canada added in to keep it within the Westminster style.

If you judge us by our news media, you get about as accurate an impression as if you did the same for the US.

The US has its (many) lunatic states, too, that have been doing fantastic impressions of COmmunist China and worse. But Australia is still crazier.

Seriously, I live here. I can walk straight over to the shops, sit down in a restaurant, without a mask, without any fuss at all. I have never once needed to wear a mask. I got some just in case when there was an outbreak near where I live, but I still have them all, unused. No, I don’t live in Melbourne. I have a colleague who does, who basically couldn’t leave her home for weeks.

Look, when people point to what New York did with trying to quarantine people from out-of-state (totally un-American and un-Constitutional) and stalking out-of-state license plates, and say that the US has gone nuts, I wouldn’t argue with them. Things are not that bad around me … but the fact is that they very easily could be … because the US went nuts. Biden in the White House just shows how truly nuts this country is. This is the worst time for the whole world. The stuff going on, now, is so dangerous and evil … this time in history is going to be a cautionary tale millenia into the future. The insanity and stupidity and evil that pervade the West, right now, … is really something else.

Yes, and Australia doesn’t even have the constitutional protections you guys do. There’s no law preventing the rest of this country going nuts the same way Melbourne has; it just hasn’t happened yet. I think Western Australia would have rioted if their lockdown had lasted more than five days, particularly since it was on fire at the time.

Our Constitution is a dead letter, now. It’s gone.

Not quite ready to give you guys up yet. I’ll do what I can. Like, um, release an indestructible social network.

Heh. It’s a start. There’s going to be a reckoning coming for the Western world. Very soon. This is what we are all seeing right now. But it’s a crapshoot as to which way it all turns out. But, things are broken.

People have been dying for a long time for a lot of reasons

The page above is taken from The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore for February 17 which shows, if you can read the print:

During the week which ended on this day in 1719, the following diseases and conditions proved fatal to the inhabitants of London.

Not all of them died, of course, but only some. And none of them died of Covid-19, unless it was Covid-1719. Meanwhile, back in the real world of modern life as we live it today, we have this: The cult of Dan — coming soon to a garbage bag on you.

A person from Melbourne’s CBD wears a garbage bag during their transfer to the Pullman Hotel in Albert Park. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

This is where we have progressed to today. I will end with a quote from John Stuart Mill which seems especially apposite:

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of [their] own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

We do not deserve the freedom we have been bequeathed and will soon lose it if we do not mend our ways assuming it has not been lost already.

I hope the death of Rush Limbaugh today is not a metaphor for much else that is going on.

AND NOW TO ADD TO EVERYTHING ELSE THERE IS THIS: From Tony Thomas: Daniel Andrews’ Bad Case of China Envy. Read it through and see if our freedoms are not actually on the line. The accompanying picture really does say something worth thinking about.

“A perspective on the operation of an economy that has unfortunately entirely disappeared”

Here is a very nice review of my Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy in The History of Economics Review, written by Nathan Saunders, linked here. I can only say how grateful I am to find a review of the book written in sympathy with its aims and arguments. Here is his opening para:

The aim of Steven Kates’s latest book – Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy – is for readers to appreciate John Stuart Mill’s deep and broad understanding of economics along with the whole of the classical school from around the middle of the nineteenth century through to its final and complete disappearance with the publication of The General Theory in 1936. Moreover, Kates argues, it is our loss that we have primarily ignored the timeless principles embedded within classical theory. Presented between the covers are many arguments as to why Mill and his classical contemporaries should be front and centre within the economics discipline to this day. The following are five arguments from his book, presented in no particular order, with which I strongly agree.

He then goes through the five reasons why classical theory should be at the forefront of our understanding of how economies work. Of course the main reason is that modern economic theory, with its Keynesian demand management ethos embedded at every stage in the process, has never been able to provide a solution to a single economic downturn on even a single occasion since The General Theory was published. As discussed in the review:

Kates presents Mill’s fourth proposition on capital: ‘Demand for commodities is not demand for labour’. This proposition has not been refuted by the Keynesian revolution, nor by anyone else for that matter. Kates states: ‘The level of employment was unrelated to the level of aggregate demand … [and Mill] understood the errors embedded in any such attempt’ for policy-makers (221). Mill emphasized the harm embedded in such policies, an understanding that has disappeared, even as an issue to be debated. Mill kept all four of his propositions on capital pragmatic, commonsensical, and timeless. Moreover, Kates defends this momentous fourth proposition not only by drawing upon his knowledge of the history of economic thought, but also through a discussion of the many failed efforts to short-circuit recessions through increases in public spending.

Dead on. Let me recommend the book to you, but also might I suggest that you ask your local library to order a copy both for yourself to read along with others.

BTW the heading is taken from Nathan’s own text.