Monday, August 2, 2010

Why I Blog

I am doing this post because my last post is exactly a month ago and since today is the anniversary of that solitary post for the month, I thought I had better do something about my lack of effort.

I had been busy (indeed) and away (true). But the real reason is that I had nothing to say.

After my last post, I have been quite ashamed of myself for having make capital out of some poor soul who is trying to earn a living and here I was in the safety and comfort of where I am to make snide remarks. My alarm is that many people agreed and I find myself feeling that I have committed an injustice to whoever that guy is who is trying to earn a living, even if I disagree with the way the whole thing is being set up.

The other distressing thing for me is to have found out that some good soul has pasted my post in his blog thinking that it was a brilliant piece and there I found some commentator who said what crap it was just because I had just one miserable typo. That puts me off writing.

My problem is that I am quite a lazy writer. I never check what I have written. I start with the first word that comes to my head and goes right down to the last word and then press "send." I cannot bear to read what I have written. I just wanted to say something and I say it. Does one go over the words one has just spoken?

Words that sound the same get mixed up. Am I dyslexic?

I like hishamh's recent philosophical posts - which inspire this one. Mind you, I quite like the four blogs that I follow because they are clear. hishamh is a data guy who, as we now know from recent posts, is trying to avoid mixing business with pleasure. His recently declared self-inflicted code of conduct is very long and I that is why I summarised it for him by saying that he is a data guy.

de minimis has a style of writing which is intriguing as it tries to draw you into a point of view which is particularly unequivocal. And he has a far wider range of things to say than economists like us who are stuck in their own little economic boxes. I like him because his heart is in the right place.

sakmongkol AK47 takes a militaristic approach to blogging. I like him because he has important things to say to his people.

The fourth blog is not mankiw who I follow to see what is in the mind of the America academic but walla. Walla is a parasitic blogger. He does not have his own blog but he is in everybody's blog (blogs that I know of, that is). He has a view that no one blog is adequate to contain. I like him because he takes us all to a different plane.

I mention hishamh because his recent postings get me into this long and winding post about why I blog on economic policy but think like a theorist (or so I imagine).

I think economic policy has gone down the tube around the world, because economic theory has been stuck in the past and has not managed to get out of its old mouldy cupboard into the new world.

We have to begin to think away from the old structure of thought especially in economics. I spent the last thirty years working in the real world to get away from old theory. The sad thing is that many people do not know what they are doing especially in economics because they have not understood their economic theory well when they were in university.

They have the most basic elementary view of economics. The most misunderstood is the Keynesian multiplier, which seems to be the cornerstone of every wrongly formulated policy. With the multiplier, all wastingful spending the government appears to be justifiable. You do not need to go to unversity for that kind of thinking.

I blog because I want to fight the wrongful use of the Keynesian multiplier.

I do not like to quote data because I have spent too much of my life looking at data. I want to move away from the tyranny of statistics and learn to think logically with eyes fixed on the phenonomon of the real world.

How can you describe the real world without statistics? Do statistics describe the real world?

I work with models, more theoretical than econometric, because the econometric model is rigid in structure. With theory, I can begin to think - admittedly around some "stylised facts" as economists or development economists like to say.

I find economics fascinating as subject of study because it is a study of human behaviour as we go about the daily business of living and earning a living. I think this is straight out of Alfred Marshall's Principles of Economics. I think it is still the best reason for thinking as an economist.

Human beings live in fear of the unknown and the uncertain future. We create certainty through trust that is developed out of long practices and understanding as to how things are supposed to be. With trust, many things can be built because it is economically efficient without having to go back to the fundamental test all the time. Accreditation. We used to trust nature (God), machines, money and ourselves. There are many things we are calling into question as we go creative. In econometric modelling, this is called a structural shift where data (necessarily of the past) do not contain sufficient information of the future.

I blog to explore new thoughts and new ways of thinking about the world we live in. When we are deep into things, we lose sight of the perspective. That's why I take the side view.


Wenger J Khairy said...

Hi Epolicy

I was attracted to the title of your post. As a fellow blogger (not part of the Fantastic Four :-) ), we go thru periods where as you say, "we don't even dare read the rubbish we write".

But there are other posts which is such an ass kicker that I re-read in 10 or 20 times. Those are the posts that "simplify, economize and clarify" a lot of stuff.

I blog because I am a war monger. I declare war on the
a) Special Interests - i.e. those that spin stories in pursuit of their narrow agenda, often at the expense of the social fabric. Most of these guys are bloggers cum Blogger Political Outfits (BPO)

b) The Con-Sultans. Those that use a little bit of bombastic words to spin spin spin. These are the Pemandu, the so called financial, economic "analyst" (those that start their sentences with the word "we" as opposed to "I") and Gomen Ministers

c) The last one is the media. For the better part of the last 2 years, I have detected deliberate attempts to spin stories. The latest was how the Ling Liong Sik case was reported. It was deliberately designed to obfuscate and confuse. Thats the tool of the powers that be - obfuscate and confuse. By keeping things clear we force those jokers to up their game or get a huge amount of whacking

Wenger J Khairy said...

To prove my point, what on earth does this mean. :

"Ling is charged with misleading the cabinet between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002, ( Section 418 of the Penal Code). into agreeing to purchase 999.5 acres of land on Pulau Indah for a project, now known as PKFZ, at a price of RM25psf on a deferred payment method for a 15-year period, at a 7.5 percent interest rate . The cumulative interest paid would total RM720 million at the end of the repayment period."

I myself had to re-read it several times and try to understand what actually was the issue.

hishamh said...

Wonderful post, etheorist.

I think my motives were similar to yours, though in my case, I'm approaching the problem from the opposite end of the spectrum - what does the data really say, as opposed to how its spun.

Keep blogging my friend, we'll find the truth one of these days.

BTW, I use Windows Live Writer almost exclusively now. It has a tyrannical in-built spellchecker that won't allow me to post before checking the more obvious spelling mistakes.

walla said...

I am happy that etheorist has written again.

He writes with a rare quality - almost zen-like in its easy style which is all the more engaging for the depth of his thoughts which must have gone into each post.

Whatever he writes makes me think in more fertile ways than i could have imagined myself possible and that's the highest compliment i can pay anyone.

Of course it doesn't help that i would have liked to do other things than to sit and ponder stuff i'm least equipped for but then one can't help but instantly recognize real quality at the highest rank in all his posts which seem to have a magnetic calling for some comments or other.

Therefore those on the receiving ends of his occasional focus should see it more as professional contribution from a master of the common craft which illuminates the entire landscape from perspectives that are harder to see for their being self-evident. With sharp synthesis and strategic sweep, etheorist goes to the heart of the matter as would an expert taking an evening walk.

I like hishamh's posts too, especially for his precision of thought, careful choice of words, professional self-control and insightful charts. There is monograph quality in his posts which have been coming out at a remarkable rate. His code is itself a work of completeness, evidence of a mind which wants to achieve the best.

But because i expend so much energy elsewhere, i am not able to write more extensively in his blog save for some cryptic links which hopefully will also provide food for thought to his growing number of readers and admirers.

De Minimis i still owe thanks to for introducing etheorist's blog, although the latter may not be thanking the former for my coming here and messing up the place; maybe de minimis can help draft for etheorist an eviction notice attentioned to me.

De Minimis strikes me as a first rate mind with a most elegant style of thinking and writing and an almost perfect balance of thought. For matters which call for wisdom and proper measure, proportion and communication, de minimis is certainly de maximis in his field.

Sakmongkol is where you can find me easily. He writes important matters and i just tag along, probably out of some misguided assumption that i too have important comments to make which of course you will find rather amusing if not a misplaced belief.

Nevertheless, i like to think there is almost telepathic attunement in our thinking, even his choice of topic. I like the way he argues things out and his keen mind with rational thought processes shows someone who has read voraciously and deeply about a lot of important things, what more deliver his unique thoughts across with admirable flair and confident speed.

These reasonable conclusions alone would suffice to explain why i don't have my own blog. Having seen four giants, nano is the only scale left for me.

There are a few more blogs i occasionally visit; one belongs to a young lady of considerable intellect and verve. What amazes me is her incredible ability to deliver quotations with utmost fecundity which stop me in my tracks for their poignancy and value.

After this long post, and overly long posts seem to be my unintended trademark (sigh), i hope etheorist will continue to write more, not necessarily on just economic matters. I sense he has a great mind revealed here. And knowing that makes me feel a little less bored or sad about my years remaining.

I am sure there are a few more bloggers who are also gems in their own right. My only regret is that i don’t know where they are....