Credulous and Too Proud to Admit Error

I like the guys over at Outside the Beltway. I’ve known James Joyner for over 20 years. They often get quoted here at BJ because they are generally reasonable conservative/libertarian. But they also demonstrate what is really a problem over on their side of the aisle, namely the fact that even reasonable right-wingers seem to have no functional BS detector.

Here is Doug Mataconis ranting about the Volt (General Motors Loses Nearly $50,000 Every Time It Sells A Chevy Volt):

If you’re a businessman and you’re losing $50,000 on every sale of a certain item you manufacture, shouldn’t that tell you that you’re doing something wrong? Shouldn’t it, perhaps, tell you that the idea of building the rebirth of your company on such a product is a mistake? We were told after the bailout that we’d see something new from Detroit. With the Volt, all we’re seeing is more of the same bad business decisions that got Detroit in trouble in the first place.

But, of course, Chevy isn’t losing $50k per Volt. It is making money on each sale, but that money has not yet been sufficient to recoup development costs. So if you amortize the total costs against the revenue so far you get a loss of $50K per car, even though each new Volt produced and sold is marginally profitable. If you’re a businessman in that situation you want to continue to make ’em and sell ’em to amortize those costs. Pretty basic sunk cost story, right? And pretty obvious too. I mean, isn’t it unlikely that production costs would be upwards of $85k per vehicle necessary to generate $50k losses per vehicle.

Anyway, I don’t read all OTB posts, but I clicked on this one because the headline was obviously false. And of course, several of us pointed that out to Doug in the comments thread. And yet, his only contributions to that thread doubled down on the claim, and he’s posted no correction/retraction.

But this is a pretty common thing I find with conservatives/libertarians. I am not sure it is deliberate, but rather a bizarre credulousness combined with an unwillingness to admit errors of fact. I mean, this is the McMegan problem too. I wish I could understand it, but I admit, I just don’t. It is almost like they don’t even want to get it right.

 






97 replies
  1. 1
    schrodinger's cat says:

    OTB guys belong on the blogs we monitor and mock list.

  2. 2
    cmorenc says:

    Conservatism can never fail, but the facts can fail conservatism.

  3. 3
    MaximusNYC says:

    GM views the Volt as an investment in its future. They are (wisely, IMO) willing to put some money into it now in order to work out the kinks of making electric and hybrid vehicles. They are, finally, running their business in a somewhat forward-looking way… instead of just cranking out gas-guzzlers to juice the quarterly sales figures.

    Wingnuts don’t understand this, of course. They also want to hate the Volt because they believe it’s “Obama’s car”. Never mind that Obama’s auto bailout people urged GM to cancel the Volt, and GM insisted on keeping it in development.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    But they also demonstrate what is really a problem over on their side of the aisle, namely the fact that even reasonable right-wingers seem to have no functional BS detector.

    I think this is a problem with all ideologues, zealots, and cynics.

  5. 5
    aimai says:

    It is ALMOST like they don’t want to get it right? Well. Yes. What causes you to qualify this obvious truth?

    aimai

  6. 6

    The really critical point is that a lot of those development costs are likely to wind up being amortized over future models, too. GM now has the technology to make plug-in hybrids, and you can bet that there will be more of them in GM’s future lineup. Maybe they’ll lose money overall on the Volt, but they’ve bought technological leadership along the way, and that’s likely to be a worthwhile price to pay.

    And FWIW, there are Volt ads on this post.

  7. 7
    GregB says:

    Has the right wing ever been so invested in cheering on American failure as they are now?

    They hate the Volt and they are pissed that Bin Laden is dead.

    Pretty much a bunch of America haters.

  8. 8
    BGinCHI says:

    Stupid people who act smart, and who have been successful at fooling others about their intelligence and knowledge, cannot back down from getting caught making mistakes. Doing so might get them exposed.

    See Bush, George W.

    And Kristol, Dumbfuck.

    Also Coyote, Wile E.

  9. 9
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @aimai: The fact that he is friends with Joyner? Just like the Village but without Sally Quinn and her parties.

  10. 10
    chopper says:

    yeah, this is high-school level economics here.

    you don’t factor in the cost of the factory when figuring out how much the first wingding off the line actually costs.

  11. 11
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    But this is a pretty common thing I find with conservatives/libertarians. I am not sure it is deliberate, but rather a bizarre credulousness combined with an unwillingness to admit errors of fact.

    Bill Clinton put forward the most plausible theory I’ve heard. They can’t do arithmetic.

  12. 12
    jefft452 says:

    “If you’re a businessman in that situation you want to continue to make ‘em and sell ‘em to amortize those costs. Pretty basic sunk cost story, right?”

    Conservatives will say that Liberals dont understand economics

    Yet basic stuff like this is beyond thier grasp

  13. 13
    Lev says:

    Right-wingers (and most center-right people) hated the auto bailout, and want GM to fail to “vindicate” them. The idea that the big three are all pretty healthy essentially proves that government intervention can work under at least some circumstances, which is not something they can allow. Since the obvious terminal illness of the US auto industry can’t be proven by normal business metrics, they have to resort to stuff like this.

  14. 14
    Linnaeus says:

    It’s very, very clear why right wingers are cheering so hard against the Volt specifically and Chevy/GM more generally.

    Because the U.S.-based automakers still have significant union representation of their workforces. That’s it.

  15. 15
    grandpa john says:

    @Baud: When did Mataconis become reasonable? Does he not realize that Free enterprise doesn’t mean that research, development and start up cost are free.
    Not every business out there is a vulture capital enterprise stealing its start up cost from the commpanies that they fuck over.

  16. 16
    chopper says:

    @Roger Moore:

    exactly. the first priuses didn’t cover all the myriad development costs toyota sunk in to the project either. eventually they sold enough tho, plus they had the R&D and infrastructure to make more hybrid models and license the tech to other companies. the rest is history.

  17. 17
    Bernard Finel says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Oh, it is more like the Village than you realize. Joyner and I are both in the DC area, too. Although yeah, no dinner parties.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @Linnaeus: Blue collar workers earning more than minimum wage should be scorned and btw did you notice how the Pres is ruining the middle class.

  19. 19
    Little Boots says:

    libertarians are like early christians.

    they want to be lied to. if it’s the right lie.

  20. 20
    Chris T. says:

    His calculator has gastritis, too.

  21. 21
    Little Boots says:

    they may be “nice” in some nebulous sense, but they will vote for any useless fuckwit who gives tax cuts to the rich, always.

  22. 22
    MacsenMifune says:

    @Lev: Right it fits the narrative they want to push.

  23. 23
    gvg says:

    Actually I’ve noticed that very few people have had any courses in economics or understand business models even if they are “in business”. I first noticed it while taking basic economics in college. People argue with the professors when the professors are simply presenting observed evidence. Not the theories about WHY something happens, the actual facts. If it doesn’t fit their preconceived notions, they can’t take it in. It was mostly macro not micro. People understand micro better. My theory is it’s because we wait till college to teach anything about it, whereas most subjects start in grade school and just get more elaborated on with grades-math, english, history, “social studies” etc. the other subject where people wouldn’t accept the professors teaching was statistics, same thing. Statistics isn’t quite just more math.

    If you spend anything to develop any new product and you don’t make that whole cost back on the first item you sell, then technically you’ve sold that product at a loss, operating under the idea mentioned. However It’s normal to not operate like that. I can’t think what would be made at all with that kind of stupidity. It’s normal to figure some time to recoup the costs, unless your either biased or don’t know much. That is why they put calculations of how many years until you recoup your florescent light bulb costs or LED, so people can decide when it’s worth it to them… normal calculations.

  24. 24
    BGinCHI says:

    @Little Boots:

    libertarians are like early christians teenagers.

    they want to be lied to. if it’s the right lie.

    Fixed.

  25. 25
    Woodrowfan says:

    wasn’t there a study last year that showed when conservatives were shown that they were wrong that they then doubled down and became even stronger believers in the falsehood?

  26. 26
    cyntax says:

    Funny how many conservative pundits don’t seem to know thing one about running a business. It’s almost like they’ve spent their whole lives living off some sinecure and not out make their Galtian way through the world.

  27. 27
    BGinCHI says:

    @Little Boots:

    libertarians are like early christians teenagers.

    they want to be lied to. if it’s the right lie.

    Fixed.

  28. 28
    Woodrowfan says:

    wasn’t there a study last year that showed when conservatives were shown that they were wrong that they then doubled down and became even stronger believers in the falsehood?

  29. 29

    They’re fundamentalists. Fundamentalists come in all kinds of shapes and colors and flavors. Josef Stalin and his minions were fundamentalists, too, just not religious ones. But they believed in Marxist-Leninism or whatever the hell it was, so deeply and abidingly that nothing, not facts, nothing at all, could ever sway them. They believed what they believed, and what they believed was true, whatever the facts might be. Things that actually happened, things they saw with their own eyes, well, those never counted if they didn’t mesh with what they believed. Marxist-Leninism was always right, even when it was wrong.

    And so it is with religious fundamentalists. Facts, science, all that crap, it’s all wrong. What they believe is right, and always will be. The Bible is inerrant. Show them somewhere where the Bible contradicts itself, and they’ll tell you it doesn’t. Because it can’t. See, the Bible is inerrant, and that’s that.

    And so it is with libertarians, some of them. Libertarianism always works, even when it doesn’t, and whatever we here believe, I’d call it regulated communitarian capitalism never works, even when it does. It’s all so easy, see? All you have to do is believe. That’s all. Libertarianism works. It just does, and any stray fact left lying around that seems to show that it might not work, well, that doesn’t count, because libertarianism works, damn it, so the fact must be wrong, the whole world must be wrong, life itself must be wrong, because libertarianism works, it always works, and if it always works, then logic dictates that there can’t be any evidence that it doesn’t, because it does.

    You say you can’t understand it, since it seems like they don’t even want to get it right. But you misunderstand what you’re misunderstanding here. See, they already are right. They’re always right. Even when they aren’t.

  30. 30
    hoodie says:

    I’m not sure it’s deliberate obtuseness but more an emotional investment in a vision of themselves vis a vis others that makes everything political. They have internalized a myth that they’re the smart ones and everyone else is stupid or venal. They’re like fucking teenagers.

  31. 31
    Little Boots says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    they’re nuts.

    it’s hard to get that when you were once conservative (hey, john) but it’s true.

    nuts. start to finish.

  32. 32
    hoodie says:

    I’m not sure it’s deliberate obtuseness but more an emotional investment in a vision of themselves vis a vis others that makes everything political. They have internalized a myth that they’re the smart ones and everyone else is stupid or venal. They’re like fucking teenagers.

  33. 33
    👽 Martin says:

    Shorter Mataconis: If you can’t turn a profit in 90 days, don’t bother.

    Great advice, moron.

  34. 34
    Yutsano says:

    @Linnaeus: Not to mention the Volt has gotten great reviews from the auto press. And is supposed to be a fun and zippy car to drive. It just gourds them that it’s not a total fail becuz DRILL BABY DRILL!!

  35. 35
    Little Boots says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    they’re nuts.

    it’s hard to get that when you were once conservative (hey, john) but it’s true.

    nuts. start to finish.

  36. 36
    rumpole says:

    That’s like saying that the Harry Potter film, which had a budget of approx $125 mil, was losing $124,999,990 on each ticket sale. What kind of businessman would invest in that franchise?

  37. 37
    Yutsano says:

    @Linnaeus: Not to mention the Volt has gotten great reviews from the auto press. And is supposed to be a fun and zippy car to drive. It just gourds them that it’s not a total fail becuz DRILL BABY DRILL!!

  38. 38
    👽 Martin says:

    Shorter Mataconis: If you can’t turn a profit in 90 days, don’t bother.

    Great advice, moron.

  39. 39
    James E. Powell says:

    But this is a pretty common thing I find with conservatives/libertarians. I am not sure it is deliberate, but rather a bizarre credulousness combined with an unwillingness to admit errors of fact.

    You are kidding, aren’t you?

    The willful misrepresentation (“You didn’t build that”) and the outright lie (“Obama gutted the work requirements for welfare”) are standard operating procedures of the right-wing.

    The bizarre credulousness is yours in thinking it was anything other than intentional.

  40. 40
    chopper says:

    Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continue… A-y-y-y!

  41. 41
    Little Boots says:

    @BGinCHI:

    merci

  42. 42
    hhex65 says:

    @Woodrowfan: Yes, it was called “The Republican Primary”

  43. 43
    piratedan says:

    it’s kind of scary to think about this mindset…. these guys would rather be “right”, standing in the ruins of a failed and crushed economy than be wrong and driving fuel efficient environmentally friendly cars and watching people continue to move up the economic food chain.

  44. 44
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Bernard Finel: Hey, I lived OTB too in MD.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jefft452:

    You’ll note that they spend a lot of time talking about how something is “Economics 101” but never get around to “Economics 102” where they cover things like amortization and capital investment.

  46. 46
    zattarra says:

    Given that GM doesn’t do one time payments for ED&T and most tooling anymore and insists it all be amortized into piece price by these idiots standards GM should never build a car because the first vehicle off the line must have every piece of program cost tied to it.

    It’s idiots like this that allowed Toyota to come in and own the hybrid market. If EV1 was allowed to progress like Prius was and now Volt is GM would have owned alternative fuel vehicles and electrics a decade ago and Toyota would never have taken command of that market. I remember getting calls to work on EV1 and being talked out of it by people who had been around longer than me who knew the idiots with no long term vision were going to screw up at GM and leave the development team out in the cold. Some of the best advice I ever got was staying away from EV1.

  47. 47
    👽 Martin says:

    @Yutsano:

    It just gourds them that it’s not a total fail becuz DRILL BABY DRILL!!

    Actually, I think it’s more because the right took the Volt as emblematic of why the auto industry was failing – that nobody wanted these hippie cars (you can’t put a gun rack in one!) – and that the certain failure of the Volt would prove that the bailout was a colossal mistake. The Volt became a proxy for the industry bailout, and so rather than argue that the auto industry should fail as a demonstration that Obama failed (because that was backfiring on them when they tried it) they just shifted that desire to the Volt. A failed Volt would be championed by the right that Obama fucked up in bailing them out.

  48. 48
    Sly says:

    I wish I could understand it, but I admit, I just don’t.

    Epistemologically, at its core, libertarianism privileges internal consistency of theory above adherence to observable reality. If the theory is sufficiently consistent with itself, then it must be true and any countervailing claims must, by equally necessity, be false. As such, libertarians always think they’re right because their positions make a kind of intuitive sense, even though relying on intuitions as a means of fully understanding the world opens them up to confirmation biases.

    There was some thread on OTB a while back on the filibuster, where Mataconis touted the virtues of the filibuster because it was there at the founding and the Senate was designed to be majoritarian. When it was pointed out to him, by myself and others, that the filibuster was added after the founding and questioned him as to why the anti-majoritarian elements other than the filibuster weren’t sufficient enough, he just doubled-down and started quibbling over definitions. The plain fact that everyone saw was that he wanted to believe the filibuster was necessary because he had to believe it; it was the only thing keeping Barack Obama from turning the United States into a statist, collectivist hellhole.

  49. 49
    Brian R. says:

    Libertarians want to feel right, not to be right.

  50. 50
    Steeplejack says:

    @Bernard Finel:

    I am not sure it is deliberate, but rather a bizarre credulousness combined with an unwillingness to admit errors of fact.

    It’s a byproduct of the authoritarian mindset. They want their opinions to be authoritative, so (a) they are drawn to broad, controversial statements of their positions–“They’re losing $50K per car!”–and (b) when they are called on errors they can’t back down because that undermines the all-important “authority” of the original statement.

  51. 51
    Little Boots says:

    I think I tried to post a comment that failed.

    Nobody eat at chik-fil-a for a year!!!!!

  52. 52
    Baud says:

    @👽 Martin:

    A failed Volt would be championed by the right that Obama fucked up in bailing them out.

    Wouldn’t they blame Romney? Obama was just following his recommendations.

  53. 53
    Scamp Dog says:

    If you’re paid good money to leave your BS detector off, you keep it off all the time. At least in public.

    Now is Mataconis a paid wingnut, or is he a volunteer pundit who’s a true believer? Either way, he won’t be dealing with the facts any time soon.

  54. 54
    Sly says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    These fucking people don’t even get through The Wealth of Nations, much less a comprehensive economics curriculum.

  55. 55
    Little Boots says:

    @Sly:

    Adam Smith would slap them, seriously. seriously slap them.

  56. 56
    aimai says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The whole argument is like arguing that the first head of lettuce harvested in a newly bought field “cost a million dollars” because the field and the planting cost a million dollars. Every business begins with a debt of some sort.

    aimai

  57. 57
    Humanities Grad says:

    @Little Boots:

    Deal. Of course, I’ve never eaten at a Chik-Fil-A in my life, so my shared sacrifice isn’t going to amount to much….

  58. 58
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    These days, the inability to admit you’re wrong defines conservatism more than – possibly instead of – any other principle.

  59. 59
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @aimai:

    It is ALMOST like they don’t want to get it right? Well. Yes. What causes you to qualify this obvious truth?

    Speaking of credulous.

  60. 60
    Schlemizel says:

    I have seen the same problem at the leak of odoriferous gentilemen with a bit more crazy. Thats why I don’t read them. I don’t read FDL either for the same reason. They are quite willing to take stories that are obvious bullshit and pimp them in spite of evidence. If this is what passes for ‘reasonable’ I’ll take batshit crazy for $1000 Alex.

  61. 61
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @BGinCHI: Also, too, Trump.

  62. 62
    Little Boots says:

    @Humanities Grad:

    me too. i boycotted, but I felt like a total fraud doing it. so, well, I meant to boycott.

  63. 63
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @Little Boots: Well you could start out walking towards a chick fil a and then go to someplace else.

  64. 64
    gex says:

    @jefft452: Of course. I have yet to find a conservative or a libertarian who can adequately tell the difference between FREE markets and COMPETITIVE markets.

    These guys celebrate Exxon making tens of billions of dollars in profits every quarter, and none of them can figure out that this is a market failure. Surely someone would do it for mere billions, and perhaps some would do it for hundreds of millions. But it seems maybe there are some barriers to competition.

    Every benefit of capitalism that they highlight comes from competition, not the kind of shit that we have going on in this country right now. Most industries are basically cartels.

    They don’t think we are utilizing greed to achieve greater things. They think greed IS the good thing. They don’t think profit is the motive, it is the entire goal.

    Oh, and I think it would pain them to know, competitive markets require active government involvement otherwise capitalism eats itself. Which is why they don’t bother to know that.

  65. 65
    Little Boots says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:

    I like the way you think.

    the nearest one might be in Atlanta, but I could sort of start toward there and then turn back.

    so, um, that sort of works for me.

  66. 66
    RSR says:

    One word: Solyndra

    If they manage to create enough outrage and hysteria about the Volt that GM kills it, then the Volt goes down in history as a boondoggle and a blemish on both the environmental movement and the Obama administration backed auto bailout. Treehuggers driving around in their bailout electric cars, and all that.

    If GM stays the course, then the vehicle potentially becomes a positive outcome for both.

    They have nothing to lose really, other than the opportunity to ding Obama on both environmental and economic fronts in advance of the election.

  67. 67
    Little Boots says:

    @RSR:

    or they could give it a rest and admit that nobody likes Romney, and never will, sort of like McCain.

  68. 68
    Sasha says:

    Two psychological truths:

    1. People prefer to be right than happy.
    2. People prefer to remain unhappy than admit they were wrong.

    Keep those two bits in mind and you will understand why so many folk support people and positions that are against their own economic self-interest.

  69. 69
    AnotherBruce says:

    Wow, I read that comment chain at Mataconis’ place. The commentors were almost all intelligent and far more cordial than I would be about his stubbornness. It was like watching a child shout “because” repeatedly to the question why? While a room full of adults were having an interesting conversation.

  70. 70
    Little Boots says:

    @Sasha:

    yup.

  71. 71
    jl says:

    Cost accounting is liberal junk science now? Guess so. Better keep your kids away from those econ and business 101 classes, they will get brainwashed by libs.

  72. 72
    Little Boots says:

    @jl:

    don’t look now, doc, but they’re CRAZY!

  73. 73

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    OTB guys belong on the blogs we monitor and mock list.

    Seconded, thirded, etc. No one needs to be taking these people seriously.

    Libertarians are hard-wired to believe that ‘shit (just) happens’. No need to plan. No need for human intention. The Free Market Fairy (may peace be upon it) will just magically take care of all our needs. And no do-gooders must be allowed to interfere.

    Things like govt subsidies for the transition to electric cars, high-speed rail, biofuels, solar etc are just WRONG dammit. Despite the fact that every major technological advance of the past two centuries has required govt assistance early on in its development.

    There even used to be a name for this system. Some would even say it was a big part of what allowed the US to leapfrog the UK in less than 150 years.

  74. 74
    Heliopause says:

    Anybody else reminded of this scene from a classic movie?

  75. 75
    SW says:

    ‘There even used to be a name for this system. Some would even say it was a big part of what allowed the US to leapfrog the UK in less than 150 years.’

    Government investment in the machine tool industry at the Springfield armory. For one thing. Interchangeable parts starting with the Springfield Model 1842 Musket. The rest of the world was still using files and hand fitting each part. The government built that. The entire basis of the modern industrial revolution. Machine tools that could produce parts that fit together interchangeably enabled mass production. There would have been no Henry Ford seventy years later without that government investment.

  76. 76
    tomvox1 says:

    And then Mataconis’s OTB colleague kind of stuck the final shiv in:

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.c.....liticized/

    Don’t let the tile fool ya–it’s a sort of fact-based beatdown–conscious or otherwise.

  77. 77
    f space that says:

    And, GM has probably been getting all kinds of tax write-offs from the evil Feds for the R&D costs as well. The wankery of this asshat knows no bounds.

  78. 78
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Mataconis is a douchenozzle, and OTB is only the worse for ever letting his sorry ass on the front page. That is all.

  79. 79
    tofubo says:

    i’m ona non-pol site that hasa buncha obama haters, when a story came up of the military buying some volts, hadda say something

    a: the US is the largest user of refined gasoline
    II: the US gov’t is the largest user of it in the US
    3: the military is the largest user of in within the gov’t (u.s.p.o. right behind them)
    anything to lesson the use of gas (which then frees up more petroleum for other uses; and therefore, by the grace of adam smith’s invisible hand and the laws of supply and demand, should lower the price we all pay)
    and yes, the washington beacon ?? a right wing rag run by a ISI grad and NRO alum who married Bill “i’ve been wrong about everything that matters” Kristol’s daughter, i trust and care what he says about as much as i can throw chris christie

    http://www.illinoisgasprices.c.....#038;ign=1

  80. 80

    @SW:
    Yep.

    Even more examples: Early investment in seaports (I type this with old Salem Harbor right up the street from me). A Postal System deemed so important that it’s explicitly called out in the Constitution. The Railroads. Electrification. Investment to make sure the telephone made it to rural districts. Aerospace is a big one (we went from a charming little bicycle with wings to the Saturn V in a little over half a century). Early ARPANET. Etc etc etc.

    Libertarianism is, in many ways… well, Un-American. Hell,laissez-faire used to be called “The British System” during Hamilton’s time.

    But somehow, in the interim, we’ve been tricked into accepting facile cynicism (IMO the true root of most Libertarianism) as a substitute for sophistication.

    That’s a big part of what’s killing our culture right now.

  81. 81
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Linnaeus:

    It’s very, very clear why right wingers are cheering so hard against the Volt specifically and Chevy/GM more generally.

    Unions are a part of it, but there are also (a) the auto bailout was something Obama was for and Romney was against and (b) electric/hybrid cars are un-american because they are insufficiently wasteful of hydrocarbon fuel, and because liberals like them.

  82. 82
    Chris says:

    @SW:

    My impression is that private enterprise often doesn’t invent things so much as wait for a few overworked nerds subsidized out the ass with government money to invent them and work out all the kinks. Once that’s done, THEN the Glorious Market comes in and sells it. Which, funny enough, is the exact opposite of the image of themselves as “risk takers,” “bold and innovative” that they want the rest of us to buy into.

  83. 83

    I just don’t. It is almost like they don’t even want to get it right.

    If your damn ideology involved this extent of denying reality and observable data you’d be pretty much in the business of not wanting to get it right, don’tcha think? If you got shit right you’d pretty much invalidate your whole existance…

  84. 84
    gwangung says:

    My impression is that private enterprise often doesn’t invent things so much as wait for a few overworked nerds subsidized out the ass with government money to invent them and work out all the kinks. Once that’s done, THEN the Glorious Market comes in and sells it.

    Which is pretty much how venture capital works most efficiently.

  85. 85
    Pseudonym says:

    @gex:

    These guys celebrate Exxon making tens of billions of dollars in profits every quarter, and none of them can figure out that this is a market failure.

    Actually this is not necessarily true. Participants in a competitive market can still show an “accounting profit” even though the “economic profit” should be driven to zero because the latter also takes into account opportunity costs, if I recall correctly. The right way to measure this would be to look at Exxon’s risk-adjusted return on investment.

    The larger market failure of course is the fact that externalities like air pollution (especially greenhouse gases) aren’t priced in.

  86. 86
    Pseudonym says:

    And I have yet to see any evidence of intelligent thought from Doug Meconium or whatever his name is.

  87. 87
    Skip Intro says:

    Doug’s legal commentary is pretty good, which makes sense as he’s a lawyer.

    I choose not to read his commentary on just about anything else.

  88. 88
    sherparick says:

    When a meme fits your belief system, then it just ought to be true, right? Really, we have been trying it more and more the ways the McMegans and Matonis of world like it, and it just keeps blowing up in our face (although not so much the 1%).

    By the way, this is a very anecdotal observation, but my perception is the class origin of most libertarians is from the upper middle and upper class set (I speak as someone who grew up in at least culturally upper middle class professional house and most of my boyhood friends were in the same class.) We started out being born on 2d or 3d base and congratulated ourselves on our obvious superior judgement, talent, and moral virtue in having chosen to be so born and found Ayn Rand’s ideology perfect for confirming our status as “masters of the universe.” Perhaps one of the budding sociologists out there might want to explore whether the data suppports this hypothesis.

  89. 89
    Bob2 says:

    The problem with OTB and pretty much every blog we mock and monitor is that they think a phd or other degree political in poli sci or government or a law degree mean they’re suddenly intelligent about how to deal with facts and science.

    This is not true.

  90. 90
    Ken says:

    what is really a problem over on their side of the aisle, namely the fact that even reasonable right-wingers seem to have no functional BS detector.

    no, the real problem is exactly as you said in the headline:

    1) Mataconis didn’t understand the stupid accounting mistake that the original reporter, and

    2) He’s too goddamned stubborn to ever admit that he is wrong, no matter how many times and how clearly a simple error is pointed out to him, as long as those fact disagree with the gut feeling he got after reading about the initial “outrage”

    In other words, the intelligence of James Joyner and some of the other contributors aside, Doug Mataconis is an absolutely textbook typical rightwinger – unable (or unwilling) to adjust his “worldview” when presented with those disagreeable facts

  91. 91
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Libertarians really don’t understand how capitalism works.

  92. 92
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    They’re not sunk costs, they’re fixed costs. They could also be sunk costs but not necessarily (they’re not mutually exclusive categories).

    This process of going into debt is common for new investent and product development, both personal and in business settings. You make upfront fixed cost investments in technological development and physical capital (a factory or in a personal setting a house or car) and then recoup those costs over time as the resulting product or service that those investments generate is sold (the amortization you refer to). This is economics 101. It’s why there is both a marginal cost curve and an average cost curve in those supply side models of the firm and its behavior.

    I thought conservatives were supposed to be experts in economics and markets. Apparently rumours of their expertise have been greatly exaggerated. And that’s the rub, they think they know what they’re talking about, but they don’t, and they can’t admit when their wrong because then everyone would know they don’t know what they’re talking about. So they double down on their wrongness and hope enough people are dumb enough to mistake obstinateness for being correct.

  93. 93
    Joey Giraud says:

    @Bob2: @Bob2:

    I suppose there must be some poli-sci majors with sense, but every poli-sci major I’ve ever known has been an idiot.

    Not unintelligent, but foolish and simplistic.

  94. 94
    Skip Intro says:

    @Joey Giraud:

    I suppose there must be some people who generalize like this with sense, but everyone I’ve ever met who generalizes like this has been an idiot.

    Not unintelligent, but foolish and simplistic.

  95. 95
    Revanch says:

    “It is almost like they don’t even want to get it right.”

    Bingo.

  96. 96
    Hob says:

    @tomvox1: And Mataconis is still defending himself in the comments to that post. Except he’s not even defending the point everyone is arguing against– he’s ignoring it, and instead attacking straw men along the lines of “So you think GM is perfect? Then why don’t you just marry GM?”

    Did anyone try asking him this: “If GM sells 100 more Volts today, do you think it is losing 100 times more money?”

  97. 97
    central texas says:

    Odd for a group that considers itself to be supportive of business, knowledgeable about investment, and the party of entrepreneurship, that they come across as innumerate, not to mention barely literate. And, of course, they think of a 100 billion cost overrun on a new DoD wetdream as a great economic engine.

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