Monday, 16 January 2006

Commenting on the commentators

Deborah Coddington has belatedly discovered blogs and has told the Herald all about it. She finds "Planet Blogger" to be nothing short of "a sad, pathetic sphere..." "I feel genuinely sorry for the blogsite hosts who strive to supply a political service the market obviously wants," she says, before scurrying back to the safety of the MSM, which clearly isn't supplying the market -- or is at least supplying it only very poorly.
This could be a good forum for free discussion. I imagine, however, that the genuine commentators, who use their real names and don't hurl abuse, get fed up and find a life in the real world.
Deborah's sympathy is not something too many bloggers will appreciate, but her bitching about some commenters on some blogs does resonate, even if her understanding of defamation doesn't. (Yes, Deborah, bloggers are subject to the law of defamation as well.) "Illiterate ranters" she calls commenters -- and that's you lot she's talking about, just so you're clear. Being called names herself by some commenters hasn't endeared her to the breed apparently:
What did the pundits say about me on David P Farrar's blogsite? Singling out the most colourful quotes - "anorexic drag queen in high heels", "Boring, Irritable, Testy, Catty, Hateful [spells bitch]", and my favourite - "white trash gold digger".
Poor Deborah. But what is it with some blog commenters anyway? If they're anonymous, they are too frequently rude and unhinged. If they're pseudonymous they're too often too poorly argued. And if they're here at Not PC there's just not too many comments to go around -- at least not so many after the rude and unhinged are deleted. Why Not PC doesn't reap a rich harvest of comments commensurate with the number who read it, I really have no idea - instead, most posts have tumbleweed running through the comments section. I've been told I put people off because I'm "so cold and unfeeling"; because I "use too many big words"; and because, I've been told more than once, I'm "too frightening"! Little old me!

Feel free to leave your own theory below. I promise not to bite. In fact, I won't say anything at all lest I scare you away.

Linked Article: Free rein for illiterate ranters - Deborah Coddington


  1. If one wants to see sad and pathetic, try this site:

  2. A large part of it might be that many of your posts don't explicitly invite discussion in the manner of, say, DPF's posts, which often contain inherent cues for response.

    For me, your politics are so Martian to me that most of the time it would be too surreal to write comments ;) - however everything is fairly and engagingly (if vociferously) worded, and dissenters get respect, which is fairly rare from my limited perusings of the blogosphere.

    Just back from Sweden, and 'blogging' as a phenomenon is getting large amounts of media coverage...


  3. I read the first few paragraphs, and I just cringed. This is a good example of a person loosing their face and not even knowing it. Almost akin to someone writing that he just detected that the earth revolves around the sun.

  4. Just reading DenMT's comments: what's Martin about believing that NZ would be better off if everyone just kept their own money instead of politicians taking it to bribe a portion of the electorate to vote for them?

    It's not that we're doing so well. We gave money to certain countries 40 years ago that since long have surpassed us in quality and quantity of everything.

  5. Berend: PC's libertarian views on laissez-faire environmentalism are about as far as you can get from my own views, hence the 'Martian' call.

    Having said that, he is consistently polite, fair and considered in response whenever I am (infrequently) moved to challenge his arguments, which is more than you can say for most political pundits across the blogosphere. So kudos is due, I think.

  6. denmt...PC's views on the enviroment are based on objective facts about man, nature and the laws of cause and effect.He proposes solutions to problems caused by those who didn't realise they were on Planet Earth where A is A and things are what they are and not what we may wish them to be.If there is a Martian on this thread it ain't PC!

  7. "PC's views on the enviroment are based on objective facts about man, nature and the laws of cause and effect"

    Okay, I'll bite.

    Problem of laissez-faire environmentalism: the Tragedy of the Commons.

    If individual advantage from using more than a fair share of resources are low, this works well. Eg, NZ sea-fishing 100 years ago. If the disadvantage to the group caused by an individual gets too high, this stops working: eg Canadian Atlantic fishing 20 years ago when over-fishing destroyed the fishing grounds.

    Look at London pollution 100 years ago when all they had to stop polluters was common law (and it wasn't up to the job). Air pollution was a killer issue (literally). The killer smogs could affect the factory-owners family too - but to him personally the advantage of adding to his families wealth and risk via pollution outweighed the disadvantage. His neighbour just got the increased risk of dying, and not the wealth.

    The Tragedy of the Commons is just cause and effect: a very basic mathematical model can demonstrate it in action. You cannae change the laws of mathematics cap'n: game theory isn't something you can just wish away. You can, of course, pretend that such inconvenient laws of economics don't exist: as PC seems to do.

    And before PC leaps in, yes, an alterative to regulating use of the commons is to:

    Privatise the commons.

    Problems: transaction costs and natural monopolies. If transaction costs are low, and the market is such that no natural monopoly exists, this will work well. But either high transaction costs or a natural monopoly will cause this to fail to be economically efficient. Again, that's basic cause and effect. Again, basic game theory and economic history both show this.

    Example of a situation with high transaction costs:

    If you privatised the national parks, then to make money you'd need to charge everyone entering any park for entering - and more if they stay longer. Consider the costs involved in collecting and enforcing that. Ideally you'd also like to take money from those whose air is cleaner, or whose view is better, or whose enjoyment of life is improved just by knowing that certain species are being preserved.

    A better example, of course, is the air you breath. How would you privatise the air?

    Of course, there is a group that is attempting to take some the clean air, and implement a user-pays regime for dirtying it. That user-pays regime is a set of pollution taxes starting with a Carbon tax. The group trying to implement user-pays for this resources is the Green Party.

    Meanwhile there's an attempt to privatise global pollution, so that carbon pollution is to be treated as a marketable commodity, so that pollution rights must be bought and sold. That's called the Kyoto Treaty.

    PC, of course, opposes these attempts to charge for use of resources because he believes that lack of regulation will magically avoid the Tragedy of the Commons and give him a Free Lunch. But lunch isn't free - any more than clean air is free. The only question is who is paying for it.

  8. Well if there were those among us with the good character to compliment and encourage this resource with their own patronage and genius they might hesitate for fear of being misunderstood, their typos ridiculed (in a pot-kettle-black type way.) I can only speculate, for I know no fear.


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