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The Self-Serving Jerkwad Bias

2012-06-23

I recently responded to someone on a Web forum with the statement:

Beware any claim that results in the least work and responsibility for the claimant.

I was immediately challenged to explain where this proverb originated. Sad to say, it’s something I’ve come up with all by myself.

The best solutions to many problems require interdisciplinary effort. For an IT example, you  might draw from networking, desktop, help desk, etc with the right combination of technology and effort.

When you ask an expert, “How should we solve this problem?”, and their response is an elaborate solution that requires the least possible involvement from their own area of expertise, you should be instantly suspicious. If they knew the right answer, it would probably have something to do with their expertise, which would imply some effort on their part. If their expertise wasn’t really applicable, and they were being honest, they’d just say, “I don’t know”.

But when their expertise suggests an answer that they don’t like, and they don’t want to commit to doing any work, they’ll make up some crazy-ass suggestion that puts all the effort on other people. That’s when they are being self-serving jerkwads.

If you happen to work with me, and you’re reading this article, then… rest assured that this description does not apply to you.

I’m an idealistic realist

2012-04-25

If you have any interest in the concepts of leadership, Madeline Albright’s interview on the Daily Show should be a textbook example.

Captain America: He’s not a man, he’s a team

2011-10-30

One of the things I found quite entertaining about Captain America’s character in his signature movie is that he’s not just a man, he’s a team. Early on, Steve Rogers aka “Captain America” selects a team of multi-talented soldiers to join him in his heroic efforts against the Nazi threat. In particular, he chooses polyglot soldiers from every allied nation… a great example of the value of diversity in work teams.

You Will Not Make Money in China, Part 2

2011-08-05
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Because even if you try to do the right thing and deal with the government’s taxes, tariffs and fees, they will still bankrupt you with corruption.

Protection? That’s one way of putting it.

2011-05-25

Frederic Bastiat liked to use simple examples to show how protectionism impoverishes many people to enrich a few, such as the story of Stulta and Puera.

The ever-vigilant Scott Lincicome reminds us that the damaging effects of protectionism are not limited to instructional allegories. Protectionism hurts real people, and destroys real jobs, and the chicken littles who continue to use the falling sky as an excuse are simply ignoring the facts.

Government “protectionism” is about effective as mafia “protection”.  The surest way to maximum economic gain for all — to “raise all ships” –  is to allow free people to trade freely, without a government finger on the scale of every transaction.

On the economics of automation

2011-05-13

This blog post discusses the importance of automation in programming, but makes some pretty deep statements about economics in general.

The whole point of automation is not to take away jobs, or solely to optimize at a new capital-to-labor ratio on the isocost curve. The point of automation is to make everyone’s lives better. A washing machine is not merely a machine that washes clothes. It’s a machine that gives you time with your child, or makes it possible to study for a new academic degree, or allows you to take a vacation every year. Every moment saved by machines is a moment spent doing something more desirable.

That’s why I’ve never understood the repeated lamentation that all the good manufacturing jobs are drying up. Good manufacturing jobs? If the job can be replaced by a machine, it’s not a good job, almost by definition, because that’s time you can use to do something more fulfilling.  And if you don’t have the motivation to do something more engaging than work at a machine in an assembly plant, then you better find it. Human advancement isn’t going to lag behind just for you.

If you haven’t seen it…

2011-04-28

Go, go right now and watch Keynes vs. Hayek Round 2, the followup to the amazing Keynes vs. Hayek video.

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