LIFE IS CHEAP

Unfortunately the long post will have to wait for Wednesday (it's laden with arcane historical references and thus totally worth it) but for now, please note this comment from Larry "I might run for the Senate" Kudlow on CNBC regarding the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake / tsunami / volcano / meltdown / apocalypse:

In these tough economic times, isn’t it nice to know that calamitous natural disasters needn't have an adverse affect on your investment portfolio? After the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan failed to induce a market nosedive, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow expressed his relief in terms that seemed to appall even his fellow cheerleaders for capitalism: “The human toll here,” he declared, “looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.”

Kudlow issued a perfunctory apology, stating that he "flubbed" the line he intended to say. That is possible. It is also possible that this reflects how people of his political-economic mindset see the world. The only relevant cost in any transaction is the financial one. Whether 10,000 people die (or get laid off, or lose access to health insurance, or work 60 hour weeks and still fail to make ends meet) is not the Market's concern. Nor should it be your concern, savvy investor.

26 thoughts on “LIFE IS CHEAP”

  • Are there any Populist politicians anymore?
    I think we need someone to remind everyone else (Be that a member of congress or a mouth piece that people listen to) that CEO's make 300% more than their lowest paid employee as one concrete example of how the "rest of us" actually live.

  • My comment is directly related to Ed's comment on the 60 hours a week workers & how their lives are apparently perceived to be just as cheap…

  • Grumpygradstudent says:

    One of the central ideas I try to teach my students is that economic efficiency is only one among many possible values society might want to pursue (when you're at a school that's dominated by economists, the lesson tends to be that efficiency, defined as pareto optimality, is some kind of uber-value that automatically outweighs everything else).

    if you want any of those other values, you better not put all your eggs in the basket of the free market. Thankfully, that's one thing democracy is good for. We can tell economists to fuck off and grab ankle if we choose to.

  • The market didn't crash. A 1.5% drop is hardly a crash. Anyways, I made my Equus africanus asinus diagnosis of Kudlow's personality long before this most recent example of dumbassery. He's so friggin over rated.

  • Monkey Business says:

    @a: Short Answer: No. Long Answer: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

    There is no such thing as a populist politician anymore because the vast majority of politicians are wealthy, and consequently do not give a single shit, much less two, about the rest of us that beg for table scraps. They care about their constituents: the rich and the companies they control. Everyone else can go fuck themselves. There is no one in Congress working two jobs to make ends meet. There is no one in Congress running up credit cards because they can't pay their bills. There is no one in Congress facing foreclosure and repossession. Our elected leaders are not us.

  • "The only relevant cost in any transaction is the financial one. Whether 10,000 people die (or get laid off, or lose access to health insurance, or work 60 hour weeks and still fail to make ends meet) is not the Market's concern. Nor should it be your concern, savvy investor."

    And this is why I left the neocon ideology behind over a decade ago.

  • One could have said "Although the human and property loss has been unimaginable, so far the market seems to be holding steady in the wake of this tragedy."

    I think that's about the most positive spin I could put on his thought, if I were feeling charitable. Which I'm not.

  • That's a pretty boneheaded way to say, "Given that there's nothing we can do about the loss of life and property, it's good that we didn't also suffer a market downturn AS WELL." Simple algebra states that LL + PL + ML < LL + PL, right?

  • A 17% drop in the Nikkei over two days seems crash-like to me. They've had bad times anyway, but this is more pain for them.

    And I apologize for the bluntness, but the number of the dead varies so widely in the news that I'm lost. Australian broadcasting confirms 2400, the Japanese news I've read (only eigo-wa) says 5,000 including missing-and-presumed, and the US press is using 10,000. Sorry to ask, but is there a common source for these widely disparate numbers?

  • A 17% drop in the Nikkei over two days seems crash-like to me. They've had bad times anyway, but this is more pain for them.

    Good point, and our Dow Jones index has dropped 200 points. Cramer should have kept his yap shut. His insensitive, crass comments so inflamed the Gods that they crashed the economy to teach him a lesson.

    That can be the only explanation Or else, he had jumped the gun and was colossally wrong.

  • Karma is a bitch.

    Someday YOU are going to say something in public that you flub. May you get justice instead of mercy.

    "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Guess Who?

    //bb

  • I blame business schools for much of the sentiment we hear every day. No longer is there and ethical basis for decisions, only short term revenue and "efficiency" in everything.

    I work with many MBA's who, in most parts of their lives are really pretty decent people. They take care of their families, donate to charities, and live otherwise responsible lives yet when it comes to business, they think absolutely nothing about laying off a guy that has spent 20 years making the bosses rich simply because they found a new "talent pool" in some untapped foreign labor market.

    In my mind, the real purpose of government is to limit the reach of free market economic policies. You may not be able to legislate morality but you most certainly can set up a system that encourage full employment and provides for those that find themselves behind the economic eight ball through no fault of their own.

  • Fifth Dentist says:

    "'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' Guess Who?"

    Abe Kabibble?*

    * Better known as Abey the Fishman.

  • Nunya blames business schools and then regurgitates their ideology word for word.

    You've heard of regulatory capture, now think democracy capture. These are not real politics. Government is not neutral. Rethink everything.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    Kudlow doesn't care much about us as long as we buy the garbage his friends deliver. When we stop buying, starve to death or die of illness we cannot afford care for, then Kudlow will die too and his friends will join. We will win sooner than later.

    Business schools don't teach economics. If students are influenced by American Capitalism, it's delivered indirectly. Furthermore, the majority of business profs are liberals.

  • "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

    Great! So when's Helen Thomas getting her job back?

  • @bb:

    "Flubbing the line" was the guy's half-assed coverup when he realized that his audience wasn't quite as monstrous as he believed them to be. There is no way to say "Well lots of people died, but hey, at least the market's good!" that isn't completely hideous. It shows the basic, callous disregard for the value of human life inherent in certain worldviews. To even be *thinking* about what somebody's fucking stocks are worth at a time like this requires that you not give a rat's ass about the fact that *people are dying*.

    If your father/sister/son/aunt/godson/best friend was just drowned in a tsunami, would *you* be checking your stocks to see if they dropped?

    There is no 'flub' here. He said what was on his mind, completely oblivious to the idea that other people might see such naked materialism as repulsive. Once he got some backlash, he tried to backpedal.

  • Major Kong:

    Even here in the boonies, Ms Thomas was well known as an anti-Semite long before she was busted… twice. Just listen to her questions from back in the day when she was Front Row Helen at the WH.

    Unless you have me some hard wired proof of serial insensitivity on Mr. Kudlow's part, my original comment stands.

    The fact that you would defend Hamas Helen shows that you are:

    a.) being provacative w/o deep relection (done that recently myself) or,
    b.) hmmmmmm (that's fun considering y'all Lefties do that to us all the time…)

    //bb

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