Sunday, August 29, 2010

We need to get at it -- "Entrepreneurs Fuel Post-Katrina Business Boom"

This is how New Orleans will be reinvented. These are the people who make America what it is, the people who make us resilient.

"It was that sense of re-evaluation," he says. "It was a personal re-evaluation. It was an economic re-evaluation. It was a cultural re-evaluation. People here were inflamed with that sense that, 'OK, we're not sure what the way forward is, but we need to do something. We need to put ourselves in motion. We need to get at it.' "
The boom in entrepreneurs is evident in the numbers collected by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.
Co-director Alison Plyer says that since the storm, 450 of every 100,000 adults in New Orleans have started a business. That's 40 percent higher than the national rate.


Become an entrepreneur, not an economist

One of the things that soured me on libertarianism is that it seems to be dominated by intellectuals who talk about the market but aren't willing to put their money where their mouth is and leave the classroom to become actors in the market.

Peter J. Boettke...the 50-year-old professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia is emerging as the intellectual standard-bearer for the Austrian school of economics...

In the last decade at George Mason, he has helped recruit the Austrian school's leading scholars and drawn students from around the world. Roughly 75% of his students have gone on to teach economics at the college or graduate level.


Read that last sentence again: "Roughly 75% of his students have gone on to teach economics at the college or graduate level."

Why aren't they becoming entrepreneurs? We don't need more economists. We need people to start businesses. Entrepreneurs are the creative agents in a market economy, they are the ones who make it all work. If you are really inspired by the idea of the free market then why on earth would you become yet another social science technocrat with tenure at a state university? Why wouldn't you want to roll up your sleeves and take action in the market?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fake American-heritage narratives

Crafting narratives to manage your perceptions is not just an occupation of the Left. Since the 1950s Conservatives have been manufacturing a "tradition" and narratives for the purpose of providing legitimacy for their 20th century (now 21st) ideological interests. Will Wilkinson offers some clarity:

Foster is mistaken in the claim that there are “two kinds of libertarian,” one deriving libertarian conclusions from evidence-free armchair cogitation, the others simply discovering a ready-made libertarianism in the trunk of their “uniquely American historical inheritance.” There is no form of libertarianism that simply falls out of our cultural endowment, as American moral culture has never been remotely libertarian. The average Tea Partier is, like the average voter, a collection of reflexes, prejudices, resentments, and demands that add up to no coherent philosophy at all. The heritage of the progressive managerial social insurance state is no less an authentically American one than is the heritage of Jim Crow apartheid, the heritage of utopian collectivist frontier communes, or the heritage of founding-era republican liberty for propertied males. It is the business of conservative elites to fabricate a narrative and ideology of authentic Americanism, and to convince the right-leaning public that this is what their particular concatenation of impulses really comes to, in order to give it some strategically useful partisan shape and motivation.
Foster’s worry about my sort of libertarianism isn’t really that it’s a “rationalist” ivory tower abstraction remote from the lived experience of the allegedly natively libertarianish American tradition. It’s that the application of any rational scrutiny (libertarian or not) to the efforts of conservative elites to construct bullshit American-heritage narratives tends to get in the way of elite conservative political aspirations.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Variations on a theme

A comment I left at tdaxp in June 2005:

We are in a 4GW war with Islamic fundementalists. This is a state vs. a non-state actor. And this is not only a war that involves violent action, but it's also a war of ideas. The challenge that we face is in providing an alternative vision to what the jihadists are providing. Now there's been a lot of talk on blogs about the inadequacies of American public diplomacy. The reality is that we don't have time to wait for the politicians and bureaucrats in public diplomacy to get with the program. So what if another level were created, another level made up of non-state actors within the US, that were designed to fight the ideological war (no violence that's the state's monopoly). These organizations would not be subject to the political and bureaucratic labyrinths, but would pursue the ideological war independently. They would be entrepreneurial and able to adapt and respond quickly as circumstances changed. Al Qaeda has adapted itself to take advantage of the characteristics of our free society. What if we marshalled the characteristics of the free society to our benefit? The entrepreneurship, decentralization, the "chaos" of civil society.