Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

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JCD
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Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by JCD »

I'm not asking this as a way of whining about a particular moderation decisions, but rather out of concern that nearly all of my content could easily be put into the eternal debates department. I've been on something of a personal journey around the deep theories that drive money/economics, all of which can end up in politics.  The more abstractly one talks about money the more these topics become tied to policy.  Even empirical data can be seen as biased, ala post truth world.  In the post I cite, I can see how the last few responses may seem to be flowing towards politics or even eternal debates. Since it was tossed into a "locked" forum without mod comment on that decision, I can't ask if it was the specific topic, the direction the topic was going in or if this forum's policy is moving towards avoiding certain styles of money topics.  Perhaps money topics with even the appearance of politics in it should be avoided?  Should anything macro be avoided?  For instance currency strength in part can be seen as a vote on the confidence in the polity that generated the currency including its political policies.  Should discussions on currency be avoided if they are likely to enter into politics via this route?  Maybe it goes more extreme where topics of passion, like the fed, MMT, etc. need to be avoided, ala the Kegan3 discussion previously?  With the eternal debate sub forum locked, I wonder how much is deliberate intent is to move towards Kegan3 vs this particular topic crossing a line.  

I can't help but hear jacob saying "(Don't try to game this by starting it up elsewhere!)" and then wondering if much of my writing is doing just that because money is politics via other means.  I have been worried about this for some time, but didn't see any moderation in my writing.  I have thought of discussing varying economic ideas like the Austrians school, but I worried it could be just another eternal debate waiting to happen and I'm not interested in making the life of the mods even more difficult.  I don't want to be that PITA 1% that the mod team dreads dealing with, so I'm hoping for a little clarification on the forum's goals post politics locking.

jacob
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by jacob »

Since the last crisis (final straw) I want and do spend much less time on the forum than I used to. Whereas I would previously adopt a wait and see attitude or moderate with a scalpel or try to steer errant threads back on track, I now use the much cruder technique of simply banishing threads to politics purgatory at the first sign of trouble.

There are definitely subjects that are at much greater risk of turning into eternal disagreements. Indeed, there are live threads where I suspect it's only a matter of time before someone oversteps. However, rather than spend half a day on conciliation and explaining "why" anymore, I'll simply shitcan the thread. Basically, the diplomatic scalpel has been replaced with a sledgehammer. Moderating is not something I think too much about anymore. Because I don't want to.

One might say that the interpersonal complexity of the moderation enforcement has collapsed and so enforcement has degenerated to a level of "shoot first and ask questions later". Or metaphorically speaking, instead of treating the infection, the limb just gets amputated.

The short answer is, therefore, that by starting threads that can easily be politicized, you risk losing them. In particular, if they contain little in terms of personally actionable details and much in terms of normative abstractions on what other people should do, it doesn't take much anymore.

ertyu
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by ertyu »

@JCD, in my opinion the reason why all these discussions eventually end up at politics is that most content online which discusses economics and money - podcasts, blog posts, etc - ends up at politics, and deliberately so. It's not a bad strategy if you think about it: people who look up information on investing usually have something to invest, and more often than not are afraid to lose it. They can be very easily triggered by arguments that reduce to sophisticated explanations of how such and such political candidate / party will somehow "take their money:" they will tax them, they will create (hyper)inflation, whatever. Investing content to be found online, by which I mean sophisticated one, aims 2 things. One and most important, to sell research, an ETF, or a hedge fund. Two, to sway public opinion to the speaker's preferred trade or political agenda. One tier below this are people who scare people on youtube for views, and who might or might not also sell memberships to trading groups etc. And finally, it's common trolls scaring people on reddit with incendiary comments. Many people, even intelligent ones, will end up riled up and radicalized.

Imo it's not that anything macro should be avoided, but that humans, in general, are incapable of having nice things. For instance, look at the discussion on MMT we tried to have, it took about 7 posts for it to devolve into ranting and ad hominems. Personally, when discussing macro and finance, I have two modes. Mode one are my "positive" opinions - how things are. Aka, a straightforward analysis of how certain policy choices impact certain investments. Mode two is "normative" - how I think things "should be" -- here I include things like, "there should be redistribution of wealth in the states." In general, if one hopes to have a productive discussion, one should stick to mode 1. But people like their ranting too much.

JCD
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by JCD »

@jacob That actually is more liberating for me, in that I'd rather have a thread killed after responses fail to meet both our expectations rather than simply not ask/discuss at all. At least at present, maybe half the time I actually get valuable, useful response(s) before I start to get the feeling the topic is either coming off the rails a bit or is simply giving me answers I already thought of. A 50% hit rate isn't bad in my mind. If a few of my threads generate questionable responses and are killed in the cradle, I really can't complain. The fact that you've done this work for nearly a decade, while retaining sanity is impressive and I can understand not wanting to continue to manage the squabbling. Anyway, thank you for your time and service.

@ertyu Let me start by saying I do agree with your points. I think in part it all comes down to the fact that the economy is simply how we manage the work we have and the output it creates. Marxism gives you one sort of answer while the Austrian school another and the Chicago school yet another. The schools give windows into the world, be it classifying people in classes or discussing the signal prices give or discussing how one can attempt to control one of the variables of the economy at the expense of the other variables. One can discuss any of these in a academic sense - How the theory works, what natural experiments have occurred, what the empirical data currently shows, etc.

I think the problem is there is always an implied "how things should be" to empirical test data. If you can say "With this experiment, if it fails, I would conclude, baring experimental issues, that theory xyz is invalid." That sort of statement is typically seen as a fine scientific statement. If you say that same statement about a topic which revolves around how one fundamentally believes the world works, then it often becomes a personal attack. Hedgehogs in particular are susceptible to this problem.

This leads to statements like how that experiment is bad, no good, evil and only a son of a gun would suggest such a thing! To give an example, a true believer in communism will hate on all the "so called failed communist regimes" when "we've never tried communism." This sort of response often has very personal elements to it and is rarely directly open to falsification. Falsification would require you to give up your pet theory. They won't say anything like, "Those were legitimate attempts at communism but having studied the record, I believe it only invalidates x, y, z factors. To fully test the theory a, b, c factors would need to be applied. I don't know of any natural tests for a, b, c factors, but if an experiment exists with those factors, I would say I have run out of ideas on how to prove this theory can work. Given the risks from the previous tests, I would hesitate to implement such a system due to ethical concerns." Such a statement opens up the possibility of a very core hedgehog idea being fundamentally flawed and that seems to be very costly to a person's core well being or at least that is my current theory. Not to say no one can ever reach that level of maturity, but it seems rare indeed. I don't currently have a test to falsify the theory, but am open to any suggestions.

Campitor
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by Campitor »

JCD wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 8:31 am
I've been on something of a personal journey around the deep theories that drive money/economics, all of which can end up in politics.  The more abstractly one talks about money the more these topics become tied to policy.
The wikipedia definition of Politics: Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, 'affairs of the cities') is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.

With the aforementioned definition in mind, you can't talk about money or the theories surrounding money without it incorporating the political aspects of each theory because money itself is a form of politics. For money to have value it has to be mutually perceived as a means of exchange. This mutual perception is a result of the political views regarding money. When those perceptions don't align, currency begins to lose value. How money is managed, perceived, and utilized is impacted by the political pressures resulting from differing economic systems.

Trying to divorce politics from money is like trying to divorce government from politics. You can certainly discuss economic theories without politicizing the conversation but then all you have are fancy theories with no practical means of applying them or judging their merits. Any discussion of monetary theory/policy has to include the incentives created by those theories/policies because at the end of the day it will be humans managing and utilizing the currency. And human incentives = politics.

JCD
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by JCD »

In a general sense I agree with you @Campitor, but in a specific sense I do not.  In general I think money and politics are strongly bound together.  Inputs and outputs of any monetary system will include politics.  Yet, I believe you can discuss the history of an idea, the logic of an idea or even the usage of an idea in society without creating a value judgement or in other words without judging the political inputs or outputs.  We can discuss the gold, bitcoin or fiat without injecting a particular personal opinion.  Imagine a topic on that subject which says something like:  "The gold standard failed in a variety of eras.  Fiat historically fails, going all the way to debt jubilees in the Bible.  Is it ever wise to go from the gold standard to fiat?"  In an analysis of these systems I can respond with something like "switching from gold to fiat is likely going to eventually fail, based off these 500 currencies that have failed in the past 300 years, but it was done during many wars temporarily with limited downside" or I could respond by saying "switching from gold to fiat is like shooting myself in the foot, it won't do me any good and in the end will end badly."  The first response is data driven, with a genuine effort to not create value judgement while the second answer gives no data for the belief and adds little to the topic.  I would still point out that the first response doesn't explain what the limited downside is, but this is just a over simplified example.  If we were going to discuss the politics of the switch one might say "In the 1970s we broke from the gold standard because of the heavy debt burden left by previous generations.  The outcome thus far has been greater overall wealth, less war, but a more fragile economy with greater wealth inequality.  The wealth inequality is not likely due to the change over to fiat as we saw previous examples of this during the gold standard, but the decrease in war may in part be due to the change in the gold standard...."

Max Weber famously discussed how sociological researchers should strive to do research in a value neutral method.  I'm not going to say anyone can absolutely hit such a mark, but I do think one can be self aware in the analysis and make an effort to speak in a neutral style.  General scientific objectivity may not be perfect, after all Thomas Khun, et al have pointed out lots of flaws in that effort, but one reason to write on a forum is to have others with very different backgrounds point out flaws in the thinking or to show contradicting data they have.  My bet is not everyone shares my perspective or objective and that unfortunately is likely to get more topics tossed into the locked pile, but that is the risk I'm willing to take as long as I'm playing within the rules of the game jacob has set up.  I just wanted to make sure I understood the rules because I got the sinking feeling I might be unintentionally violating them.  I also bet that many folks don't have the time, effort, attention, self control and skill to make such an effort.  I know I don't always and during those times I try not to write anything.  I guess in summary I agree there is a great deal of risk in writing such posts as there is always going to be a bias towards injecting political opinion and I agree that politics and money are tied at the hip, but I don't think the analysis must be political, even if it contains an assessment of politics.

Campitor
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by Campitor »

JCD wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 2:59 am
..but one reason to write on a forum is to have others with very different backgrounds point out flaws in the thinking or to show contradicting data they have...  
And therein lies the problem. Not everyone can be objective nor does everyone express themselves in the same "voice" using the written word. Essentially, depending on the restrictiveness of the moderation or the inclinations of the moderators, the only voices that are heard are those singing the same chorus which is how echo chambers occur.

Sometimes ideas and theories need to be debated vigorously. The vigorousness of these debates, regardless on how apolitical they may be, can be interpreted as being political, especially when discussing monetary policy since you cannot do so without ascribing an adjective, all which have been politicized, to the monetary policy being discussed: Marxist, Austrian, Keynesian, Laisse-Faire, etc.

To have any meaningful discussion on monetary policy requires pointing out the flaws and benefits of each system which runs the risk of offending someone since very few intellectual discussions are divorced of emotions. Even Jacob himself gets passionate about certain topics. We're human and as much as we would like to think we can divorce ourselves from our emotions/prejudices when talking about politicized topics, such as monetary policy, the timber of the conversation will always tilt towards a locked forum because politicalized topics will tend to attract vigorous debate.

In the end, if you looking to learn, explore, and shake the tree of knowledge to see what falls out, you will need to run the risk of starting a topic that will get locked. I suspect, if the topics are started in good faith, and you underscore the rules you would like everyone to stick to, you won't earn Jacob's ire even if the topic is eventually locked.

jacob
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by jacob »

I largely agree with this. However, since I'm no longer interested in moderating (I'm the only one who is moderating. There is no longer a team, since 5+ years), this is also why we can not longer have these passionately vigorous debates here w/o risking "splitting up the ERE family" (again). Someone is going to say something that triggers a war of words because they picked up some A/B-tested trigger word in an echo-chamber somewhere else. It's like generating a border-skirmish by putting soldiers who have been demonized in each others eyes next to each other. You won't have to give the order (plausible deniability). You just have to put them next to each other.

This demonization has been dialed up to 11 over the past 5ish years.

So peace keepers have to work harder than ever.

In "new math": value of debating controversial subjects here - cost of moderating them < cost of losing people.

Partially because these variables have changed for me and the world, this work is no longer worth it, so I've reverted the forum to the "thanksgiving rule": Never discuss religion, politics, and cars with family.

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Alphaville
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by Alphaville »

so (for anyone reading)

is there such thing as a good internet place to discuss macreconomics free from ideological warfare these days?

i only know for sure it can't be the youtube comment section :lol:

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Jean
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Re: Moderation: Overlap between money and politics

Post by Jean »

I started a telegram group, but i'm Alone on it now

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