I don’t think bureaucrats and politicians are bad or dumb people.
But, I do think that many people misinterpret where bureaucrats and politicians go wrong.
This video is illustrating a point made by Adam Smith, but it’s also the central point that Robert Lucas made in pioneering the new-classical revolution in macroeconomics in the 1970’s (for which he won the 1995 Nobel Prize).
Smith called figures like the robot in this video “man of system”. Too many of our bureaucrats and politicians behave the same way: if all of us pieces on their gameboard would just stop moving, all their plans would work.*
* I saw an interesting example of this several years ago, that I wish I had on video. We had two big three year-old hound dogs, and we got a terrier puppy. The big dogs got along well with the puppy. But when he would get too rambunctious, the big hound dogs were kind of at a loss as to what to do: they wanted the piece on their board to stop moving when they wanted it to. How does an adult dog deal with this (when biting will get them in trouble)? It tries to sit on the puppy to make it stay still. Really. Now, think about bureaucrats and politicians. In many cases, is their behavior when the pieces on the board won’t sit still to enact rules and legislation to keep them from moving so much? This is what immigration law is about. And think about the bipartisan push of the last few decades to encourage home ownership: a scheme with the side effect of reducing movement.
Cross-posted from SUU Macroblog, which is required reading for my intermediate macroeconomics students and recommended reading for my principles students.
Two thoughts about this visualization of Domino’s delivery routes:
1) The bicycle deliverer is a piker. I delivered (by car) in the Buffalo suburbs for over 4 years. I covered about 100 square miles of territory, did over 100 miles of stop-and-go-driving on a weekend night, and the suburbanized swampy terrain had very few neat, homogenous rectangles.
2) What a great video for the transshipment portion of a linear programming or Excel class.
P.S. We have a distribution center (one of the red nodes towards the video’s end) for Wal-Mart located about 35 miles south of my home. I recently found out that it’s actually a distribution center for distribution centers: it handles mostly clothing, and ships nothing directly to stores.
I’ve actually seen this with the naked eye when my kids hang slinkys off the loft:
What I found most interesting about this, is that it is more or less the same effect that made the collapse of the World Trade Centers look … so faked.
Yes, we all know that it wasn’t.
But, you have to admit that the video is not what you would have expected something like that to look like circa 9/10.
But, a building is very much like a slinky: a single structure, with some elasticity, being pulled down by gravity. The analogy is even closer if we view a single floor of the WTC as a slinky. And that odd, pancaking, effect as the floors collapsed was each of those slinkys compressing towards the base, and then sending its energy into the next slinky.
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