restaurants of the future Archives

April 9, 2009

You mean... life is NOT like a fountain?

"An economic life closer to our biological environment: smaller companies, richer ecology, no leverage. A world in which entrepreneurs, not bankers, take the risks and companies are born and die every day without making the news."
Sound nice? Not to all of us, I suppose, what with our squadron of hardened property-is-graft set ever a-hovering near. But that's Mr Nassim Taleb, the bright-looking gent pictured above, probably at a $50k lecture engagement.

He's the Frank Perdue of the great financial reformation now under way on planet earth. For plumper chickens, just substitute black swans; the ceaseless self-promotion is identical.

Sometimes Nassim turns his attention from the swans and peddles stuffing. Here's a sampling of his current stump-standard Gibran-ish gourmet fillers:

"What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail.

"[in our present system] Evolution... helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks, hence the most fragile become the biggest

"It is the asymmetry of the bonus system that got us here. No incentives without disincentives: capitalism is about rewards and punishments, not just rewards. hence the most fragile become the biggest.

"In France in the 1980s, the socialists took over the banks. In the US in the 2000s, the banks took over the government. This is surreal.

"Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”.

"Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is not homeopathy, it is denial.

"Citizens should experience anxiety about their own businesses (which they control), not their investments (which they do not control).

"Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the “Nobel” in economics, banning leveraged buyouts, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching people to navigate a world with fewer certainties."

What do you think? Agree with too much of it for your own comfort?

Never fear -- it just goes to show ya, critiques even coming from opposite directionss often look alike. Its only in the solutions where the differences come out (echo of Tolstoi here?).

Let's get back to the lead-off quote: "an economic life closer to our biological environment."

What shameless pandering -- and what hubris, this hollow anology between Mother Earth's living skin and bourgeois society.

"Smaller companies, richer ecology, no leverage." Nassim is speaking for mother Earth again: smaller is beautiful, he hears her saying. (But who came up with the baluchitherium?) "Richer ecology" presumably means greater diversity -- of something -- afforded no doubt by the Lebensraum created once we outlaw limited liability titans. But diversity of whats, Nassy ole boy -- whats? Proudhon-ite cobbler shops? High-tech garage ops? Or is smaller only operationally defined here, as built with "no leverage"?

On the face of it, that seems to imply no credit system for business firms beyond equities.

"A world in which entrepreneurs, not bankers, take the risks" If this doesn't mean no bank loans to business -- then what are banks for? Just the depository functions of the payments grid? And of course the locus classicus of loans -- usury DBA household credit. You know, ARM mortgages, zero interest car loans -- death on the installment plan, in short.

Proudhon redivivus, or just a shameless flatterer of sensible Babbits like Paul Dombey of Dombey and Son?

I find this all "very figmentary", as my younger sister, ten-ton Patty Paine, once said after first reading the Communist Manifesto.

restaurants of the future

A few days ago I aired my dislike of what I called "drafting the constitution of Utopia" -- the temptation many Lefties have (and not just Lefties, of course) to sketch out what things will be like after the Day of Jubilo.

By the merest coincidence, a few days later, on one of my lefty mailing lists, a much-valued correspondent dropped a reference to something old Doctor Karl Marx wrote, in the little-read afterword to the second German edition of Capital. I'm sorry to say it was new to me, but I'm glad to have it. Forgive the pedantry, but it's just too good; translation follows:

So wirft mir die Pariser »Revue Positiviste« vor, einerseits, ich behandle die Ökonomie metaphysisch, andrerseits – man rate! –, ich beschränke mich auf bloß kritische Zergliederung des Gegebnen, statt Rezepte (comtistische?) für die Garküche der Zukunft zu verschreiben.

"The Paris Revue Positiviste takes a fling at me because on the one hand I treat economics metaphysically, and on the other hand -- go figure! -- I confine myself to the mere dissection of things as they are, instead of recipes (Comte-ian ones?) for the restaurants of the future."

"Restaurants of the future" will henceforth be a recurring topic here.

About restaurants of the future

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the restaurants of the future category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Reptile du Jour is the previous category.

Return to Baracks is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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