Tag Archives: NAFTA

WHAT, ME WORRY?

The man—and I use that word only in its most general sense—pictured above has proven to be startlingly incompetent throughout his life. Yet he constantly brags about his superiority in all manner of things. Sad.

Actor Stephen Fry (yes, I, too, have barely heard of him) was voted the most intelligent person on TV in the U.K according to this article in HuffPo wherein he provides an explanation of why the man pictured above has so many supporters who believe everything he says, even when it is obviously pure twaddle and outright lies.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-fry-explains-lies_us_591550ebe4b00f308cf4323c

Fry believes a psychological lesson helps explain this effect.

 

For example, researchers found students who were least proficient often overestimated their own abilities.

“The skills they lacked were the same skills required to recognize their incompetence,” Fry said. “The incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.”

That’s now known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect was developed by psychologists at Cornell. It considers that incompetent people

fail to recognize their own lack of skill

fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy

fail to accurately gauge skill in others

recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

Both Fry and Wikipedia offer oversimplifications of Dunning-Kruger, but the entire Dunning-Kruger paper can be found here:

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.64.2655&rep=rep1&type=pdf

We focus on the metacognitive skills of the incompetent to explain, in part, the fact that people seem to be so imperfect in appraising themselves and their abilities.1 Perhaps the best illustration of this tendency is the “above-average effect,” or the tendency of the average person to believe he or she is above average…

That, the man pictured does to the max. Indeed, the Washington Post compiled a litany of such claims last October. Among them

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I’m the one who can truly fix them,”

“I think nobody knows the system better than I do.” (on government)

“Nobody knows more about trade than me.”

“There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”

“So a general gets on, sent obviously by Obama, and he said, ‘Mr. Drumpf doesn’t understand. He knows nothing about defense.’ I know more about offense and defense than they will ever understand, believe me. Believe me. Than they will ever understand. Than they will ever understand.”

“Because nobody knows the system better than me. I know the H1B. I know the H2B. Nobody knows it better than me.”

And, of course, there is his constant bragging about his negotiating skills.

He understands the tax laws but insists he can’t release his tax returns because he is under IRS audit. The IRS tells him he can, though whether he is under audit is a private matter.

He “knows the system” but yet many appointed positions remain unfilled that are vital to the workings even he wishes to occur.

As to the military and the generals, he also promised to have a plan to defeat ISIS “within 30 days” Still not done.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/trumpometer/promise/1375/develop-plan-defeat-isis-30-days/

And when the Seals mission in Yemen went awry did he take responsibility because he knows the military? Hell no.

On Visas he knows more than anybody? Several federal judges have told him he does not. And that is compounded by his utter lack of understanding of how the federal courts work—or else it reveals that he doesn’t care that federal courts exist, he wants to be a dictator.

On trade he’s an expert? He’s gone from totalling condemning NAFTA to a willingness to renegotiate with Canada and Mexico on some of its terms. All the while he ignores mountains of evidence that NAFTA is not a disaster, but at worst only a lukewarm success for the United States

And negotiating skills? Gee, where were those demonstrated when Republicans were forced to give up ACA repeal and all the program cuts he wanted in order to keep the government financed for the remainder of this fiscal year? He got NOTHING he wanted.

This piece provides a more recent perspective on Dunning-Kruger.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/11/revisiting-why-incompetents-think-theyre-awesome/

Unfortunately, in those places ruled by the smug and complacent, a classic paper has become a weapon. The findings of Dunning and Kruger are being reduced to “Stupid people are so stupid that they don’t know they are stupid.” Rather bluntly, Dunning himself said, “The presence of the Dunning-Kruger effect, as it’s been come to be called, is that one should pause to worry about one’s own certainty, not the certainty of others.” And that humorously suggests the Dunning-Kruger effect is now a candidate to become a second Godwin’s law.

Like Dunning, I do not take such a dim view of humanity. In fact, Dunning-Kruger and follow-up papers give us cause for hope. They show that people are not usually irredeemably stupid. You can teach people to accurately self-evaluate—though, in their specific examples, this also involved teaching them the very skill they were trying to evaluate.

(Godwin’s law, incidentally, is the proposition that in any comment thread, if long enough, some comparison to Hitler will emerge.)

But remember the fourth point of D-K

recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill

While that may be true, that presupposes that the person demonstrates a desire to cure their lack of skill. In our present case, do not hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

What, ME worry? Damned right I worry.

 

Advertisements

THE WHARTON FOLLIES

Wharton Follies is an annual Spring comedy show written, produced, and performed by Wharton MBA students. A certain graduate of Wharton…from its undergraduate school, not its MBA program…has brought this follies idea onto the national stage and it is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week production with only occasional unscheduled but very brief intermissions. It is, of course, headquartered at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washngton, D.C. which provides the primary stage but its road companies are legion and come in a variety of packages for your entertainment.

They may be presented as a political rally before a decidedly less than capacity Pennsylvania Farm Show Arena which somehow was “record attendance” or at Town Halls across the country where the legislative provocateurs who kowtow to that certain graduate have been drawing nearly uniformly panning reviews, to even the bushes at the White House where the chief spokesman for that certan graduate took to hiding from reporters seeking an explanation of that day’s performance.

Now, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has a mostly deserved reputation for churning out top business leaders. But this certain graduate, one could conclude, is the exception that proves the rule. For his economic beliefs and ideas are decidely a bunch of hogwash. They defy facts, logic, and a rational thought process.

In his personal life he has demonstrated that a teeny tiny loan of just $1,000,000 from his father, and the use of that same father’s name and connections and  loan guarantees and the provision of other financing, as well as that certain graduate’s ultimate inheritance of possibly as much as $200 million from his by then dead father can be built into an empire worth much less than if it had been invested in an index fund and he could have avoided the ignonimy of six bankruptcies, a failed football franchise, a failed airline, a university that was both a fraud and a failure, and at least one year—1995—in which he lost over NINE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS from all his multiple enterprises.

Along the way he excoriates NAFTA and any notion of international trade that takes jobs away from the United States to foreign climes while simultaneously shipping production of his own line of clothing overseas and purchasing steel from China to build at least his Las Vegas hotel if not other of his edifices. (And his daughter is equally adept at these same business maneuvers.)

And the hell of it all is that his Follies play to an audience that gets no bang for their bucks.

Nevertheless he persists. In an interview with The Economist, partially recounted here

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/05/11/donald_trump_thinks_he_invented_the_phrase_priming_the_pump.html

that certain graduate inexplicably lays claim to coining the phrase “priming the pump” as a metaphor for cutting taxes to stimulate the economy.

Yes.
We have to prime the pump.

It’s very Keynesian.
We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?

Priming the pump?
Yeah, have you heard it?

Yes.
Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.

The phrase itself dates to at least as early as 1840 in reference to pumping water from the ground but economist John Maynard Keynes used the term beginning almost a century ago when describing how government spending, in times of economic distress, could put money in people’s hands so that the economy would improve. Of course this certain graduate perverts the term in the sense that he speaks of tax cuts for the already rich, not the expansion of government spending that will “prime the pump”. So not only did he NOT coin the phrase, he does not even understand its meaning.
If you can stomach the entire desultory interview have at it.

http://www.economist.com/Trumptranscript

I note that, as usual, the certain graduate is either grossly misinformed or outright lying in his statements on a regular basis. I would have fact-checked but my time is limited. I’m preparing for my 100th birthday in thirty years and have not the time to spare.
However, some real facts about our trade with Mexico provide some enlightenment. There is no denying that we run a deficit in our trade with Mexico. For instance in 2016 that deficit was just over $63 Billion. We exported $231 Bn and imported $294 Bn worth of goods. But, predating NAFTA, in 1985 that deficit was $5.5 Bn but with a total of slightly less than $33 Bn in total trade between the two. In other words the total volume of trade between the U.S. and Mexico in 31 years increased 16 times while the deficit in trade increased only 12 times. Of course there are differences from year-to-year but the U.S. Census Bureau provides this handy chart to trace the history of such trade.
Trade with Canada in the same period has been more of a roller coaster ride. From a deficit of $21 Bn in 1985 to just over $11 Bn in 2016 seems like a huge improvement under NAFTA with a four-fold increase in volume but, beginning in 2000 through 2008 that deficit ranged from $48 Bn to $78 Bn. However, since 2009 it has never been more than roughly $36 Bn. Hmmm, what do those years coincide with?
With regards to Mexico, furthermore, experts like to point out a key fact: 40% of the parts in a typical Mexican product originate in the United States, according to the Commerce Department. And that’s a key reason why 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade just with Mexico, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Can we thus assume that this certain graduate was not exposed to an examination of facts during his Wharton years that would have led him to contrary approaches to economics than he now espouses? Or can we thus assume this certain graduate is simply fact averse under any and all circumstances.
What is clear is that the value of a Wharton education is bigly lost on some of its graduates.
Sad.