Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Comments Section Strikes Back

Too funny. From one of the McArdle's posts on Greece:

  • I would just like to thank McMegan for maintaining a united front with every other journalist and commentator covering Greece by telling us ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER about any relevant facts, such as:
    - the specifics of Greece's fiscal policy status quo or status quo ante;
    - the demands of its creditors;
    - the counter-proposals of the Greek government;
    - the likely effects of the creditor demands;
    - the likely effects of the counter-proposals;
    - the views of any other parties, Right, Left or Center, about responding to creditor demands (e.g.: Does Golden Dawn even have its own position on Grexit?).
    After reading McMegan, and every other "analytical" piece on the Greek Debt Crisis, I have expended much time, expended non-trivial mental effort, and still have no firm basis for an informed opinion about the merits. Congratulations on going all the way to Athens and back without ever tipping your hand, even slightly, to your readers.
    • I wrote the piece on the party positions on Friday. The Communists want Grexit, slowly, not now; Popular Unity wanted to reject the third memorandum but didn't make parliament; Golden Dawn is the only large "tear it all down" presence left, and they got 7% of the vote. If you read those two together, you would have that information. What exactly is it that you would like me to summarize about the third memorandum--linked from the Friday piece, I might mention--other than that it calls for a series of tight structural administrative reforms combined with higher taxes and better enforcement? Which is also kind of mentioned in the piece? Would you have liked a blow by blow list of each little tax and administrative bullet point? Or do you feel that the internet would be a more informative place if I joined left-wing journalists in ranting about how the creditors are big fat dummies who don't get Keynesian economics?
          • Well that clarifies everything. Just like the GOP wants "smaller government" that is shorn of "waste, fraud and abuse." Now we can accept your assessment of the situation with confidence.

              • " Or do you feel that the internet would be a more informative place if I joined left-wing journalists in ranting about how the creditors are bigfat dummies who don't get Keynesian economics? Yes, it probably would. 

                The Greek debt cannot be repaid--you might want to cover that little detail while you're giving the austerians a big massage. According to the IMF (not me.)

              What I think Greece needs is someone, or some people, who will give up any hope of future political careers, and simply do any slashing and burning that's necessary. Those people would do well to take heed of General Sherman's advice about war: "There's no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it'll be over." The same could be said about strong economic leadership like firing unnecessary employees and really, truly collecting taxes. Then they can step aside to let people with no connection to them, no baggage, start with a fresh slate. At some point down the road, after the dust had settled, it would become clear what a blessing they were.

                • The problem is, the leadership of a nation cannot run it single-handedly. If the bureaucracy is corrupt or ineffectual, it makes all commands from on high quite a bit harder to implement.

                  • What exactly is supposed to be "slashed and burned" to the benefit of others?
                    What is the actual "scarcity" that is supposed to be addressed by this austerity?
                    Who does it help when we throw dumpsters full of food into landfills while people go hungry?

                      • What austerity?

                          • Whatever austerity the creditors are demanding of the Greek government, the specifics of which I do not know because NO ONE EVER GIVES THE SPECIFICS.

                              • Read the memorandum. I linked it on Friday. They give all the specifics. The reason people don't dive into the specifics is that they are very, very specific. The 30,000 feet summary is "higher taxes, better enforcement, administrative reforms to make Greece's civil service more productive"--i.e. exactly what you've been reading from every journalist writing about it.

                                Great idea. I'll just follow this daisy chain back to the hyperlink to the "Third Memorandum" and pluck through it myself. Because God forbid a working journalist actually give a coherent summary of the underlying factual issues for the layperson.

                                  • That rather was my point. Since you don't know the specifics, how do you know it's fair to call it austerity?

                                      • Because that is what everyone else calls it, and it might be sorta confusing if I decided to call it "asparagus" or "Voltron-lions" or "Trumphair." So I use the same word everybody else does.
                                        You got a problem with that, friendo?

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