Posts Tagged Hayek

Radioactive waste worries local governments / Officials seek guidance from central authorities on how to permanently dispose of sludge, ash : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri

Many local governments are troubled over how to handle waste containing radioactive cesium, including sludge discharged from water and sewage treatment plants, and ash.According to surveys by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and The Yomiuri Shimbun, more than 120,000 tons of such radioactive waste is being stored in Tokyo and 13 prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions.Although the government aims to establish a new law to create a government-led framework to dispose of the waste, it is uncertain whether this will resolve the problem quickly.

via Radioactive waste worries local governments / Officials seek guidance from central authorities on how to permanently dispose of sludge, ash : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri.

Is government helping or getting in the way? Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek wrote and spoke frequently about The Pretence of Knowledge. Essentially, it posits that there is a class of events or activities that are too complex for any person or group to manage:

“If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible. … The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.”

The earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis is a trifecta of disaster that has revealed the inadequacies of government per se to handle.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine that there is no government in Japan. Overnight, Kan and his cabinet have done a bunk. There is no central government to pass laws and tell people what they can and cannot do.

What would all the local governments do then? Who would they turn to?

And how about if they did that now? Many of them have been doing that, because the government did not respond in time, or not at all.

You might say, “But what about the funding? Local governments are faced with situations (cleanup of tsunami debris and radioactive materials, building a lot of temporary housing very fast, etc) which they cannot pay for. They need to be sure they will get central funds before they can make decisions!”

I say, “No more central funds. It’s all gone (Kan and his crew took it all with them)! Or imagine that it is. You’ll have to do without it.”

We may have to do without it yet. I don’t think this or any government can pay for what they are promising. Surprise, surprise, eh?

Wouldn’t it be funny if the entire Japanese Diet did a “John Galt“, and nobody missed them? The world didn’t collapse? Things got better?

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Video with English Caption: Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama of Tokyo University Tells the Politicians: “What Are You Doing?” | EX-SKF

From EX-SKF. I make a brief comment below the videos.

(If you don’t see the caption, click on the “cc” on the player menu bar to turn on the caption.)

Please share the videos with your non-Japanese-speaking friends.

Original written posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Captioned Video Part 1 of 2

via Video with English Caption: Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama of Tokyo University Tells the Politicians: “What Are You Doing?” | EX-SKF.

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My comment:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Austrian Economics and teaching

A teacher who obviously enjoys his work, talks about teaching and Austrian economics.

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Scientism is the idea that natural science is the most authoritative worldview or aspect of human education, and that it is superior to all other interpretations of life.[1] The term is used by social scientists such as Friedrich Hayek,[2] or philosophers of science such as Karl Popper, to describe what they see as the underlying attitudes and beliefs common to many scientists, whereby the study and methods of natural science have risen to the level of ideology.[3] The classic statement of scientism is from the physicist Ernest Rutherford: “there is physics and there is stamp-collecting.”[4]

This belief in the inevitable upward evolution of humanity, that human society and the world in general is always improving and can only improve, is what Lewis called “The Myth”. He grew up with it. He fought against it. Yet it still sings its siren song. Are we not also still in thrall to it today?

There it is: Weston’s disease is that for him, science has “risen to the level of ideology”. To be against scientism is not to be against science, but against a few people who go to an extreme and make science into something that it is not – an ideology. For those who remember, this is similar to Lewis’ criticism of Darwinism. He was not criticising Darwinism itself but rather some of its crazy supporters. As this writer puts it,

C.S. Lewis (1898–1963), perhaps the most widely read Christian apologist of the 20th
century, was careful to distinguish between evolution as a theory in biology and Evolution as an idea that came to dominate the politics and religion of his time. He noted that decades before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, poets and musicians had started proclaiming that humanity was inevitably evolving, onward and upward, to a glorious future    [

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Key ideas – a list in progress

Camouflaged !

Originally uploaded by Kamala L

See the picture? Can you help her pick out the handful of items that she really needs to keep?

What are the key ideas in the field you are teaching? If you are teaching American history or culture or literature, what are the key ideas that you think the students need to get over the next 15 weeks?

If you have to choose, which will it be: the Declaration of Independence or the latest Lady Gaga/Beyonce music video?

I’ve been listing certain key concepts that seem important for people learning English in Japan to know. Overarching these is the notion of the importance of ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Film-maker predicts hyperinflation; an economist disagrees. Which to believe?

On a forum I visit daily, a member had posted a link to an article describing a hyperinflation scenario in the U.S. I visited it. Later in the day, the website owner, economist and historian (and music buff) Gary North responded (members only):

I am writing this in response to a site member’s question. The member asked my opinion of this article.

Usually, I do not take the bait. If someone does not know enough to ask specific questions, it’s an “I’m wetting my pants” question. “It sounds so bad. Is the sky falling?” I then refer him to this article:

[I would also refer him to this article: Self-Inflicted Confusion and Paralysis: Thinking About the Economy Without Understanding Economics]  I am making an exception with this article, because it is so utterly, incomparably wrong-headed. It is so awful that it stands out like a beacon of incompetence. There is a grandeur to it. It is written with such confidence, yet it so completely illogical that it is breathtaking. This is World Cup finals nonsense…

It’s long. It’s also dead wrong. It’s long because it starts off wrong and tries to recover. It never does. Read the rest of this entry »

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