Friday, July 20, 2012

False decision

A friend pointed me at a recent article (What America needs to decide: Is health care a market good or social good? (Julie Mack column) ), which emphasizes, to me at least, the problem with some much of passes for political analysis on the left: Goo-gooism and plain poor argumentation.  It's almost as if these folks don't want to win the political argument.

Take for instance this false dichotomy:
"We haven't resolved the core question," she said. "Is health care a market good? Or a social good?"

If it's a market good, then "we're all on our own," she said. If it's a social good, then there needs to be universal access,  in the same way that we've long had free public education for grades K-12.      

Ain't that begging the question?  Whether social education is a "social good" is being debated.

Why can't we sully our hands and make practical arguments. 

It is easy to make solid arguments that universal health care would portray it as an economic "good", and for that matter even an national defense "good." 

Granted this required making arguments, which can be challenged, and defending them.  Which is harder that just saying something is a "social good".  Not much harder, mind.

One can well argue the "social good" argument is up there with God's will -- either you buy it or you don't but you can't argue it.

This is of course a logical, calculated, and non-emotive argument. It is a frightening argument to some, because such and must entertain the value of health or education to the economy and the functioning of the state and society, it must establish criteria, it must entertain the pros of the opposition position. 

The article goes on to beg another question:
Yet if health care is a market good, that comes with the realization that some people will die for lack of health care. "Is that the country we want to be?"
It make me long for Chairman Mao: "People die all the time."
Don't beg the question, realize that whatever decision is made, different people will live and different people will die, some will be better off, some will be worse,

It is sullying to give arguments that make us understand that overall this country will be healthier, richer, or more secure.  It might even get the policies approved.

Armed Propganda

In the 60's and 70's various left wing terror groups used to speak of 'armed propaganda.'

No one seems to remember the idea, but it does seem to work.

What sparked this thought on my part was an article on the aftermath of the Norwegian mass shooting of last year (Norway after Breivik: Populists Gain Lost Ground - SPIEGEL ONLINE), and one comment in particular:
Oslo-based historian Einhart Lorenz, who studies right-wing populism in Norway, has been astounded by the gains the party [the right-wing populist Progress Party (FrP)] is starting to show again. "Even if there is no direct responsibility, there is at least an association between the xenophobic atmosphere that the FrP has created and July 22," Lorenz says.
When one remembers the surge in the militia movement's profile following the Oklahoma City Bombing, or the effect of the implied violence by the Tea party in 2009, (or for that matter the rise in prestige of a minor Bavarian party or an unstable Venezuelan colonel following failed putchs ) I don't see how this can be a surprise.

Armed propaganda, particularly on the right, work.  Perhaps it is because all the rest of us do is wring our hands, and be fair. There are necks need wringing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Microsoft’s $6.2 Billion Writedown

This article in the Daily Beast (Microsoft’s $6.2 Billion Writedown Shows It’s Losing War With Google - The Daily Beast) is one of many that are a just cause for scharden freude for a number of people I know personally, member of aQuantive when it was bought out.

I can't recall, however, any article talking about the main reason the purchase failed.

There is talk about changing markets, etc, but from the evidence I have seen the reason was simple: Microsoft management system. 

After the acquisition, upper management paid little attention to the integration.

Of course, the new people were moved about and cherry picked needlessly, but the biggest damage was in how the acquisitions organizational structure -- which seemed to work -- was abandoned in favor of Microsoft's.

This entailed destroying the identity of the acquisition and its products through division and by housing its members in various existing Microsoft's divisions that had been in the same field .

This meant putting the acquired people and technology with, and generally under the direction of those people who had failed to produce a competitive product in the first place. So the technology was diluted and trashed.

This is absolutely the norm at Microsoft -- and though they may have worse management than most companies -- common in acquisitions.

I would be interesting in knowing why this is not being discussed in the press about the write down.