Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘Society

New vs. good as illustrated with some numbers and units

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The issue of new vs. good has appeared repeatedly in my writings. In my backlog, I have a text intended to go more into depth on various such issues, e.g. when and whether modern society and modern norms are better than those of yore. A particular issue is that various systems and approaches might address different problems (cf. below) and/or different situations;* another that there is an automatic jump to the conclusion that “newer is better”, without actually investigating the evidence. Consider e.g. the development of money and the road from coins-valuable-per-se to pure fiat money (and soon, maybe, CBDCs) over stations like notes-convertible-to-gold and the Bretton-Woods system. Here the impression given is often one of steady progress, while, in fact, one set of advantages and disadvantages has been replaced by another at each step of the way. In as far as there has been a monotone “progress”, it has been in favor of the government** (and, maybe, the banks) at the cost of the people—a bad thing, for the most part. Similarly, consider the idea that more and more schooling is better, never mind what results the schooling actually achieves, never mind the issue of diminishing returns, and never mind the crucial difference between education (good) and schooling (often a very poor means to the end of achieving education).

*Reading the “Federalist Papers”, e.g., it is crucial to keep in mind both how the world has changed since the writing and that they were written light of a certain set of experiences and problems partly alien to the modern reader—and that the modern reader’s experiences and problems might be partly alien to the authors. There would, I suspect, have been a great many changes, had they been written today. As a counterpoint, in tone with the overall text, many in the modern world, especially on the Left, seem to be blind to the many points that still apply.

**E.g. in that increasing the money supply and/or devaluing existing money has grown easier over time.

As this type of text might end up exploding into a dozen installments, with no true advantage in demonstrating the principle, I will just deal with portions of one sub-field, for the purpose of illustration, and then drop the backlog item: numbers and units.

The dominance of the decimal system* and the switch to “decimal units” (e.g. meter and liter over foot and gallon; often coinciding with SI-units) and “decimal money” (e.g. pounds–pence over pounds–shilling–pence) is almost invariably described as a great progress in the sources that I have seen, beginning in school—a good-bye to the dark ages and a triumph of enlightenment, an abandoning of the obscure and random in favor of the consistent and logical. In reality, the perceived obscurity and randomness often goes back to the failure of modern judges to understand the reasons that actually were there.

*In at least two regards: (a) Replacing use of fractions (e.g. 1/2) with decimal numbers (e.g. 0.5). (b) Abandoning various more informal uses of/thinking in non-decimal groupings, e.g. dozens. With a wider net, possibly without the “dark ages” angle, I also treat: (c) Preferring math based on 10 instead of e.g. 60. (To look at other aspects can be tricky: The overall history of numbers and what might be considered a decimal or proto-decimal system is sufficiently complex that I would need considerable research to draw proper borders. Note e.g. the complication of the difference between using 10 as an informal base for numbers, e.g. by “fifty” amounting to five tens, and using a formal base-10 positional system for arithmetic.)

An unambiguous progress can be argued with units in (at least) two regards: that (a) units have been increasingly standardized with the introduction of SI units,* (b) these units have connections between them that make conversions** and math easier. However, neither of these are inherently tied to the decimal. It would, for instance, have been possible to standardize a twelve-inch foot, a three-foot yard, a 1760-yard mile, and whatnot internationally; it would, for instance, have been possible to keep the foot and replace the gallon with something based on the cubic foot.

*The meter is the meter everywhere, e.g., while units like the foot had different definitions in different areas and at different times. (Time-wise, there has been changes to the meter too, but much smaller and in a more “backwards compatible” manner.) Indeed, even in the current U.S., which has been reluctant to adapt SI units resp. “metric”, there are different definitions for e.g. the gallon in different contexts and there is need to differ between e.g. solid (weight) and fluid (volume) ounces.

**For instance, “a cubic meter” and “a thousand liters” describe the same volume, while no such easy conversion, to my knowledge, exists between foot and gallon. (The exact definitions of various SI units have varied over time, but the definition of liter is probably still one cubic decimeter, corresponding to the volume of a cube with a side of 1 decimeter/0.1 meter.)

The more interesting aspect of the “decimalization” of units is the switch from seemingly random multipliers between units of the same dimension to a consistent use of multiples of 10. The most commonly used “metric” units of length are likely the millimeter (0.001 meters), the centimeter (0.01 meters), the meter, and the kilometer (1000 meters).* Similar “imperial” units include the inch (1/36 of a yard), the foot (1/3 of a yard), the yard,** and the mile (1760 yards)—with some funny additions like the furlong at 220 yards or 1/8th of a mile.

*In my native Sweden, followed by the very popular “Swedish mile” at 10 kilometers/10,000 meters.

**The yard appears to be far less common than the foot in my own encounters. I include it/use it as a base, because it is approximately the same size as a meter (1 yard = 0.9144 meter), which makes the comparisons a little easier. However, they are by no means exact in nature, as both the millimeter and the centimeter are more than an order smaller than the inch resp. foot. Feel free to mentally limit the comparison to e.g. centimeter/inch, meter/yard (or meter/foot), and kilometer/mile, which are all pairwise of the same order.

But now consider dividing* a meter into three equal parts, and we have a brief overview of many of the issues at hand, e.g. in that the decimal system cannot even properly give the right share of 0.333333333333333… meter,** while the fractional system can (1/3 meter) and while 1/3 of a yard is a convenient foot—which needs neither fractions nor decimals.

*Here and elsewhere, references to “dividing”, “division”, whatnot should often be seen with an eye at both the mathematical operation and a more physical act, e.g. for the purpose of sharing in equal parts.

**There are conventions of notation, e.g. that a bar is put above (or sometimes below) a set of numbers to indicate that they repeat without limit. However, these are shady for everyday use and not even necessarily expressible in all contexts—let alone necessarily understood by the average man on the street.

This idea of easy division seems central to many old units and e.g. the Babylonian mathematics, based on 60. Consider e.g. what divisors work cleanly with various “imperial” resp. “metric” units.

To take a more critical example,* consider buying something in a package of 10 resp. 12 (i.e. a dozen): In even portions, the former can be divided as 1 x 10, 2 x 5, 5 x 2, and 10 x 1 while the latter allows 1 x 12, 2 x 6, 3 x 4, 4 x 3, 6 x 2, and 12 x 1. Now repeat this with 100 vs. 144 (i.e. a dozen dozen or a gross**).

*Cutting a meter into three will not usually lead to a great conflict. If in doubt, any injustice, e.g. by giving 333 millimeters to two takers and 334 to the third, might be lost in measurement errors.

**A unit once so popular that the Swedish word for “wholesaler” is (used to be?) “grosshandlare”—someone who traded by the gross.

Or, similarly, money: One of my first encounters, as a young child, with issues like these involved Scrooge McDuck and Donald’s three nephews. The latter had found a 5-dollar bill and were arguing about how to divide it. They consulted Uncle Scrooge, who gave them one dollar each—and kept the balance as a fee. If we look at the “old” pound, there would never have been a problem: 5 pound would have been the equivalent of 1200 pence (5 x 20 x 12),* which is easily and evenly divisible by 3, for 400 pence each. (Resp. 1 pound, 13 shilling, 4 pence.)

*Why not a consistent 20 (or 12) shillings to the pound and 20 (or 12) pence to the shilling? Likely exactly to introduce new factors: 20 is 2 x 2 x 5 and 12 is 2 x 2 x 3. By taking these combinations, the full pound has four nice factors of 2 and one each of 3 and 5; by going 20–20 or 12–12, there would have been two of the one and none of the other, which would have been suboptimal for purposes of division.

As we can see, a dozen might well be superior to a group of ten for many purposes (even the greater size aside), and even base-12 can be superior to base-10 for arithmetic—depending on what arithmetic is intended. Similarly, what is the smallest number divisible by all of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6? The answer is 60 (= 2^2 x 3 x 5). As a bonus, 60 is also divisible by the respective counterparts of 60, 30, 20, 15, 12, and 10. This makes 60 very convenient for certain types of arithmetic.

The 60 seconds to the minute and the 60 minutes to the hour has a Babylonian source* and Babylonian mathematicians were big on the number 60. (And contrast the divisibility of 1 day = 24** x 60 x 60 seconds with e.g. 1 day = 10 x 100 x 100 “neo-seconds”.) We also have 360** degrees to a circle, 60 minutes to a degree, and 60 seconds to a minute. This brings us to failures of the metric systems to take over. For instance, why not replace the 360-degree circle, resp. 90-degree right-angle, with a 400-gradian circle, resp. 100-gradian right-angle? (As has been attempted.)

*If possibly with a few intermediaries.

**Why specifically 24 resp. 360, I do not know, but it is of secondary importance. Do note that both involve additional simple factors, with 24 = 2^3 x 3 and 360 having another factor of both 2 and 3 over what 60 already provides.

The failure might be more a matter of tradition than math,* but 100 and 400 only contain prime factors of 2 and 5 (e.g. 400 = 2^4 x 5^2), while 90 and 360 also contain prime factors of 3 (e.g. 360 = 2^3 x 3^2 x 5). The first few divisors of 400 are 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10; the first few of 360 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10. Among the first ten natural numbers, the one misses 3, 6, 7, 9—the other just 7. (360 is the smallest number only missing 7; the smallest also including 7 is 7 x 360 = 2520.) In many ways, 360 is more practical than 400: Take something as simple as giving the degrees of the angles in an equilateral triangle. With 360 degrees, their sum is 180, which gives 60 for each. With 400 gradians, their sum is 200, which gives 66.666666666666666666… (or 66 2/3, if fractions are allowed).

*And mathematicians often go down an entirely different road and use the radian, with 360 degrees = 2 x pi radians.

That there is nothing magic about base-10 is also demonstrated by the popularity of base-2 (and base-8/base-16) in computing. Here, too, older units can be more compatible in approach, if arguably more incidentally so. Consider e.g. “metric running” in track-and-field. Typical distances include 100, 200, 400, and 800 meters, with a nice doubling—but then follows a break to 1500 meters, a doubling to 3000, a break to 5000, and a doubling to 10.000.* In the olden days, the (coincidentally?) approximately same distances were based on the mile (1760 yards) for 110 yards, 220 yards, 440 yards (the famous quarter-mile), 880 yards, 1 mile, 2 miles for a consistent doubling—and with the potential to continue onwards without interruption and in nice, even quarter-mile laps.**/*** Indeed, 1760 has the prime factorization 2^5 x 5 x 11, which is very heavy on factors of 2; another two are added by going down to inches; and the mile in inches is divisible by all natural numbers between 1 and 12, except for that elusive 7.

*After which the matter is made even more complicated by the Marathon and half-Marathon.

**For instance, the 1 and 2 miles were run in an even 4 resp. 8 quarter-mile laps, while the modern equivalents of 1500 and 3000 meters are run as 3.75 (!) resp. 7.5 laps of 400 meters. Note complications like different starting and/or finishing lines being needed for different races.

***I am uncertain what distances actually were customary beyond this, and it might well be that a 3-mile run was more popular than a 4-mile run. Even absent a doubling, going from 2 to 3 miles feels more natural than going from 3000 to 5000 meters.

Above, we also saw the issue of fractions vs. decimal numbers in cases like 1/3 vs. 0.333333333333333… Decimals have some advantages over fractions, e.g. in that calculating 1/4 + 1/5 = 9/20 might be harder than 0.25 + 0.20 = 0.45. (And certainly so for some more complicated fractions.) Ditto in that it is easier to see that 0.55 is larger than 0.54 than that 11/20 is larger than 27/50. However, with fractions, we can handle e.g. 1/3 + 1/5 = 8/15 exactly, while 0.333333333333333… + 0.2 = 0.5333333333333333… is a horror. Multiplication by 3, e.g., is computable* using fractions but not using plain decimals read a digit at a time.** Generally, all decimal numbers with a finite number of post-decimal places and all with a repeating finite group (e.g. a constant stream of 3s or the constant stream of “90” in 10/11 = 0.909090…) can be represented by a finite-length fraction—but not all finite-length fractions (e.g. 1/3, 10/11) can be represented by a finite-length decimal number.***

*In the computer-science sense.

**For a stream of digits like 0.333333333333333…, the multiplier would never be able to output a first digit when the 3s continue without end. If the stream ends, or if another digit than a 3 shows up, it is clear that one of 0 and 1 can be output as the first digit, but as long as the 3s continue the decision for even that first digit cannot be made.

***Some numbers, e.g. pi, would require an infinite-length version of either. (However, infinite-length fractions are not customarily used, and, if needed, some other means would likely be found, e.g. an infinite sum of fractions summing to the right value, an infinite series of fractions converging to the right value, or an infinite “continued fraction”, the latter of which might be the closest equivalent to a decimal number with infinite post-decimal digits.)

Excursion on units for special contexts:
Notwithstanding the extensive use of SI units, non-SI units and units not trivially reducible to SI units are popular in specialized areas. Consider e.g. the light year and the electronvolt. As this text is not intended to discuss units for the purpose of discussing units, only to use them as illustration of another issue, I ignore such complications above.

Excursion on over-use of the millimeter:
In somewhat naturally metric countries, like my native Sweden, the meter and the centimeter are more common than the millimeter for most measurements and whatnots. When e.g. the non-metric USanians or the late-coming British use metric there seems to be a strong tendency to jump to the millimeter, e.g. in that a natural “1.5 m” is turned into “1,500 mm”. This, notably, even when the implied type of exactness is neither needed nor guaranteed—to the point that the same source might convert this to (the slightly larger) “5 feet” without a bad conscience. (If in doubt, “1.500 m” would have a more unambiguous exactness than “1,500 mm”, as the former has four significant digits, while the latter might have two, four, or, maybe, even three.) As to why, I can only speculate, but one possibility is that there is some type of prejudice, paralleling the main topic above, of seeing a more exact looking or otherwise impressive number as, in some sense, better, without actually thinking the issue through.

Excursion on 7:
That the number 7 has so little luck above likely relates to its relative size and its status as a prime—there is comparatively little value for the money in adding a factor 7. However, the oddity of the mile, which has a factor 11 (a number with similar issues to 7) might be coincidental. As a contrast, units of weight include 14 (2 x 7) pound to the stone but no similar factor of 11 in any of the units known to me.

Excursion on the seemingly complex as an intelligence test:
An interesting idea is that those with more intelligence might have an easier time to master some of the complications of old, say, how-many-X-goes-into-a-Y or keeping track of the relative value of gold and silver coins. If so, they would have had the additional benefit of favoring the intelligent, which might have been good for society. As a counterpoint, if the less intelligent had trouble reaching a sufficient mastery, this might well have had negative effects, e.g. in a reduced work-quality or misallocation of resources.

Excursion on infectious readings:
Much of the above is unusually stilted even for me. This is not deliberate, but likely a side-effect of re-reading portions of the aforementioned “Federalist Papers” recently. (On the contrary, I have re-written some portions to be less stilted.) As much as I disapprove of the style, I currently have to exert some effort not to accidentally emulate it—or “try hard not to be as bad”. On the upside, I am not quite as abstruse.


Written by michaeleriksson

March 29, 2023 at 10:02 pm

An interesting overview of problems with COVID-handling

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Post-anniversary, my COVID-readings have dropped to almost nothing, but I did stumble upon a very interesting text yesterday: 40 Facts You NEED to Know: The REAL Story of “Covid”.

On the upside, it gives a thorough overview of many of the problems involved, including use of faulty or flawed statistics (notably, based on poor tests and a poor division between “died from” and “died with”), the problematic approach to vaccines (notably, wholly inadequate testing and the highly unusual mRNA angle), and the ineffective or outright harmful countermeasures (e.g. ventilators, lockdowns, and, again, vaccines).

On the downside, it is a bit polemical and might to some degree use straw-men* or exaggerations. I advise particular caution with “Part I: Symptoms”, especially in light of the repeated use, including in the article title, of quotation marks** around “Covid” and its variations (e.g. “Covid19”). (And, of course, I do not vouch for the correctness of any individual claim.)

*For instance, the first item is a claim that COVID and the flu have identical symptoms, which I suspect to be not entirely true in detail, which definitely applies similarly to some other disease comparisons (and is unremarkable), and which can miss aspects like relative likelihood and typical severity of any given symptom.

**With scare-quotes being the most likely explanation among the multiple uses of quotation marks.

A discussion of potential malignant abuse and/or creation* of the pandemic to push a political agenda, after the main list, is particularly interesting. I tend to favor Eriksson’s Razor(s) over conspiracy theories, and am also a frequent user of Hanlon’s Razor, but I do find it almost impossible to believe that what happened was just a matter of coincidence, conscious (prime) movers acting without coordination, incompetence, whatnot. Certainly, these, especially incompetence, played in; certainly, much of what happened can be explained by after-the-fact opportunism. However, after more than three years of ever-mounting absurdities and utterly inadequate explanations of prior actions, I cannot see them as enough.

*In the sense of creating a storm in a teacup by taking a non-crisis and pushing propaganda and mis-/disinformation until it looked like a major crisis.

(In a bigger picture, for which I have a text in planning, it is quite clear that we live in a type of reverse democracy, where elected governments do too much to influence the will of the people, with the people’s own money, and are themselves influenced too little by that will—to the point that some governments try to dictate to the people what opinions they may and may not have.)

A few other items of particular interest:*

*With the usual reservations for formatting, etc.

18. There was a massive increase in the use of “unlawful” DNRs. Watchdogs and government agencies reported huge increases in the use of Do Not Resuscitate Orders (DNRs) in the years 2020-2021.


The increase is attributed to a deliberate pushing of DNRs, regardless of the will of the patient and relatives, and interests me on two counts: Firstly, that I have no recollection of hearing about this in the past.* Secondly, my recent writings on life-and-death choices (cf. [1], [2], [3]), which overlap in the idea of less-than-voluntary death. Indeed, pushing DNRs to e.g. free up hospital beds or allowing more transplants would be quite in the same line.

*But I have heard a few complaints of a general and non-COVID push for more DNRs.

[In item 19.]

[Use of ventilators] was not a medical policy designed to best treat the patients, but rather to reduce the hypothetical spread of Covid by preventing patients from exhaling aerosol droplets, this was made clear in officially published guidelines.

This is another first claim to me, but it does have the advantage of explaining why there was so strong a drive to use ventilators early on, contrary to typical practice, and, maybe, why ventilators became a non-topic after the early phase. (However, it is also notable that hospitals were often given flawed incentives, in that patients on ventilators led to more revenue than patients not on ventilators, and that it might make more sense to investigate the motives of the incentive creators.)

34. The EU was preparing “vaccine passports” at least a YEAR before the pandemic began. Proposed COVID countermeasures, presented to the public as improvised emergency measures, have existed since before the emergence of the disease.


In fact, vaccination and immunisation programs have been recognised as “an entry point for digital identity” since at least 2018.


Here there is a possibility that the EU and/or other entities are maliciously using COVID to force the people into various control measures, in order to enforce long-term compliance. This is consistent with other observations, in that “government of the people, by the people, for the people” does not at all match the ideal of many Leftists, many politicians, and many civil servants/government bureaucrats, who put the government first and the people second—a recurring theme in my writings. (And/or put something else first in a similarly perfidious manner, e.g. their own careers or their favored causes.)

Written by michaeleriksson

March 26, 2023 at 10:28 pm

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Inflation comparisons based on a receipt from 2020

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A weakness of my various writings on inflation is that I usually lack exact price comparisons. At an extreme, in [1], I noted that a certain brand and package of toilet paper was priced at 4.05 Euro, which was “more expensive than in the past”.

Today, I found an old receipt and the price of 2.86 Euro for what must be the same product. The receipt is from October 5th, 2020, to be compared with [1], published on January, 11th, 2023, or roughly 27 months later. This gives us a relative increase of 4.05/2.86 or roughly 42 percent in 27 months, and a yearly average of (4.05/2.86)^(12/27) or roughly 17 percent.

To this must be added that the inflation rate is unlikely to have been uniform, which could give us a single year of well above those 17 percent at some point.

Comparing with a receipt from yesterday, I only see two items in common with the 2020 receipt:*

*Note that both items are from house brands (Ja! resp. Rewe) and that the “average” German price level for comparable products is higher. The below “per year” values are a little higher based on 27 months, a little lower based on 29 months.

Chewing gum at 1.25 -> 1.49, for roughly 19 (overall) and 8 (per year) percent.

Pizza at 1.76 -> 2.19, for roughly 24 (overall) and 10 (per year) percent.

(In both cases with reservations for “shrinkflation” and other issues that I cannot detect based on the receipt.)

This is better and more in line with claimed* inflation, but “better” does not imply “good”, and we must not forget that these numbers could and should have been a lot smaller, and would have been so with more sensible politicians.

*One of my original motivations to write about inflation was the discrepancy between various official inflation measures and the actual price changes on my food purchases, combined with a suspicion that “cost of living”, in general, was affected more strongly than official inflation measures might lead us to believe. At the end of the day, “cost of living” is what really matters to most of us.

Excursion on prices ending with a “9”:
On yesterday’s receipt, 13-out-of-13 products had a price ending with a “9”. On the 2020 receipt, it was 1-out-of-10. What the implications of this might be is up for speculation, but my speculation would be that the store is holding back the current prices a little for reasons of psychology and that the “true” price of this-and-that might average another few cents more. Cf. parts of [2].

Written by michaeleriksson

March 21, 2023 at 12:29 pm

Further Galeria closures / Follow-up: German department stores (and COVID-19)

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Back in 2020, at an early stage of the COVID-lockdowns, I wrote a text on German department stores ([1]). In an excursion to a text from last month, I noted:

[…] I have likely not set foot in a department store in the almost three years since [1]—in part, due to the relatively low benefit; in part, due to the COVID-countermeasures, which saw a long stretch of forced downtime and made me lose any habit of department store visits. Further, that German Wikipedia points to severe and continued problems for the sole major player left (Galeria / Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof), including repeated Schutzschirmverfahren, which, in my understanding, are comparable to the U.S. “Chapter 11”.

Today, I learn that a new round of closures is part of the latest Schutzschirmverfahren, including the Galeria in my local Wuppertal, which might make the issue semi-academic. This could bring the total number of stores down from 129 to 77. (Cf., in German, [2] and [3].)

Contrast this 77 with the “170-or-so” mentioned in [1]—and even this number was likely very considerably smaller than when I moved to Germany in 1997. (But note that the current Galeria resulted from the merger of two previous chains, which makes numbers hard to compare.) On the upside, as early as in [1] there was a potential threat of 80 closures, and the actual number of closures in the almost three years since has been lower, which points to some possibility that stores are saved over time.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 16, 2023 at 2:07 pm

Third COVID Anniversary / Follow-up: Various

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In a few days, we will have the third anniversary of my first text on COVID.* In the year since the last anniversary, COVID-mania has petered out and I am going through a period of low motivation to write. Correspondingly, I will just mention a few brief points:

*See [1] for the original text and [2] resp. [3]/[4] for the previous anniversaries.

  1. These new twelve months have, again, confirmed my fear that the countermeasures would do more harm than good. They did—and by a very considerable distance.
  2. There are some (based on my state of knowledge) inconclusive signs that the after effects of the countermeasures, especially lockdowns and market sabotage, will continue to hit the business world, that many who managed to get through the prime crisis were left sufficiently injured and with sufficiently reduced reserves that they might yet falter. (Not to mention the losses in e.g. missed growth opportunities for those who do survive.)
  3. The likely long-term effects on humans, especially on children, might be far worse. Adult health, youth education, socialization of infants, whatnot, have all suffered massively through the countermeasures. Here, too, much of the damage might only become noticeable in the future.
  4. Developments in knowledge during these three years have almost without exception come down on the side of the “sceptics” and against the likes of Fauci, Birx, and Ferguson. COVID, lockdowns, masks, vaccines, …—on each item, the “sceptics” were right and the self-proclaimed “experts” wrong.
  5. Nevertheless, there are large groups, especially of politicians, who stubbornly insist that this-or-that was a success, that millions of lives were saved, that inflation is just “greedy capitalists” (“price gougers”, Putin, or similar), whatnot. Whether this is stupidity/ignorance or intellectual dishonesty, I do not know, but it is absurd, intolerable, and horrifying.
  6. There are no true signs that the reckoning that is so urgently needed will take place. At the end of the day, the perpetrators of this travesty, be they incompetents or evil manipulators, will get away unpunished, unless some drastic change takes place. Bad as that is, the worst part is that the main reason for a reckoning is to prevent repetitions. Without a reckoning, repetitions are more likely, especially if large parts of the population have already been indoctrinated into seeing various idiocies as normal and acceptable.

Excursion on “amnesties” and the like:
A common attitude among the early COVID-fanatics in light of later developments (apart from the aforementioned denial) is some variation of “We did what we thought right, no-one could have foreseen what would happen, and we cannot be blamed!”. Well, there were a great many others who did foresee what would or could happen, be it with an eye at the economy (like yours truly), at medical issues (note, in particular, the Great Barrington Declaration), at consequences for children, whatnot. Moreover, many of us openly warned about negative consequences. Our warnings were ignored—worse, we were condemned and defamed en masse as e.g. COVIDiots, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers,* anti-science extremists,** peddlers of mis- and disinformation, … But now, they suddenly claim that no-one could have foreseen this-and-that!

*Notably, with no regard for the degree of opposition (including very sensible positions like a “test more before we inject half the world”) and with no regard for opposition to specifically the COVID vaccines vs. opposition to vaccines in general, which is a very, very different thing.

**The idea that someone like yours truly would be anti-science, even without the “extremist”, is absurd—and quite insulting.

To any policy maker or advisor who calls for a self-serving amnesty: Not only should you have foreseen the potential negative issues on your own, had you had a brain and actually used it, but you were told about the potential negative issues—you were outright and explicitly told! You have no excuse whatsoever and you have no right to an amnesty. That you have the inexcusable audacity to ask for one merely serves to condemn you further.

Excursion on the “precautionary principle”:
A common excuse by COVID-fanatics is the “precautionary principle”, that we must act strongly because we do not know how bad COVID could be. This is disingenuous and turns the world on its head. In truth, the “precautionary principle” would dictate that we proceed with caution with the countermeasures, as we know that humanity easily survived e.g. the Spanish Flu,* but we do not know how bad e.g. the effects of lockdowns would be—those of us who used our heads and understood even elementary economics knew that they would be bad, but to predict the exact consequences was near impossible. If we look at the vaccines, there might never, through the entire course of human history, have been a better example of when the “precautionary principle” should have been applied—to not inject (or try to inject) billions of humans with multiple doses of poorly tested vaccines. What if things had gone very, very wrong? (As opposed to the “somewhat wrong” that we have reason to suspect today.) What if the vaccines had turned out to be troublemakers on par with Thalidomide? Certainly, no precautionary argument concerning something so trivial as COVID could have outweighed that risk.

*Note that even the very early estimates around COVID, outside the panic-mongering of idiots like Ferguson, pointed to a lesser danger than once from the Spanish Flu—and incomparably lesser than from some of the epi- and pandemics of even earlier times. As is, COVID turned out to be closer to the regular flu than to the Spanish… For that matter, cancer kills more humans per year, year in and year out, than COVID.

Then there is the damage to Rechtsstaatlichkeit and democracy… To this, note that principles of this type are especially important when things go wrong, to prevent governmental and other abuse, to reduce the risk of totalitarianism and dictatorships, etc. To swear by such principles in times of smooth running and then to abolish them when a crisis appears, well, that is incompatible with the very ideas behind them—like building and bragging about a storm cellar and then, when a tornado actually comes, to remain above ground “because reasons”. Again, the “precautionary principle” speaks against the policies of the COVID-fanatics—the true COVIDiots.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 12, 2023 at 1:22 pm

The Leftist Germany

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To demonstrate the horrifying influence of Leftist ideologies in Germany:

I briefly skimmed through the news on ARD text (a site without archiving of old contents) and stumbled from the nominally* Conservative CDU wanting to form yet another coalition government with its nominal* arch-enemy SPD (Social-Democrats; this time in Berlin), to the SPD run federal government wanting to enforce a Feminist (!) foreign policy, to price-controls taking effect on various forms of energy (and retroactively, at that).

*In U.S. terms, CDU is a party dominated by RINOs and “Cuckservatives”. Merkel, especially, was a disaster for German non-Leftism, in general, and Conservatism, in particular.

To this, I note that a sane Germany, governed by facts and reason, would see SPD in a niche existence and as an entirely unacceptable partner in any government, be it federal or state based; that Feminism has done everything that it can to discredit it self, and still, weirdly, is taken seriously and propagated by idiot politicians; and that the current energy situation is exactly when market forces would have been beneficial to increase the availability of energy and to ensure that energy goes where it is the most needed. (That the energy crisis is mostly created by the politicians, to begin with, does not make matters better.)

Written by michaeleriksson

March 1, 2023 at 9:03 pm

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Do utilitarian arguments have a place in society?

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My previous text included a quote with the sentence “Yet this is a calculating, utilitarian argument that has no place in a society that values both individual rights and human dignity.”. By and large, I am in agreement, as both calculating* and utilitarian arguments tend to lead to a bad place, especially through neglecting the rights of others and/or the rights of the individual. (Moreover, there is some ambiguity as to whether the author rejected this specific “calculating, utilitarian argument” or such arguments in general.)

*With some reservations for what is considered “calculating”. Also cf. below.

However, neither is automatically a bad thing. Consider a utilitarian example and ethical dilemma:

Have a train rush down a track, with no possibility to stop the train in time, no lever to pull to redirect the train (much unlike the dilemma of which this example is a modified version), and no other loopholes or clever solutions available. On the track, we have three persons tied down, two with the same rope, one with a separate rope. You have time enough to cut exactly one of the ropes and to help the newly freed of the tracks, while the other(s) will be run over.

There are now three choices:

  1. Free none of the three.
  2. Free the one.
  3. Free the two.

All other factors equal, the typical utilitarian conclusion, that the two should be freed, is perfectly compatible with even a strongly individualistic and anti-collectivistic take on ethics. Indeed, saving the two is likely what almost everyone would choose.

(When factors are not equal, other decisions can be more likely, e.g. when two archenemies resp. a single love interest of the chooser are at stake, or when the one is a child of ten and the two are both in their eighties.)

A “calculating example” is trickier, especially as there is likely to be more debate around what is or is not calculating behavior, a calculating argument, whatnot. However, consider a slight modification of the above, where there are just two persons on the track, each tied down with a separate rope, and otherwise the same setup. You have reason to believe that the one will give you a hefty reward for freeing him, while the other will give you a warm thanks and not one dime. It might well be that they are both, in some sense, equally deserving of rescue,* but who could fault you for choosing the one with the reward? The death toll would be the same in both cases, with the main difference that you would or would not have some extra money.

*Note that the absence of a reward does not automatically imply e.g. ingratitude, which could conceivably have justified a “less deserving”. Say, to keep all-other-factors as equal as possible, that the two are identical twins, only differing in details, one of these details being that the one remembers where they had jointly buried some money and that the other does not.

However, note that these examples are carefully chosen and that small changes to the conditions can lead to different conclusions about e.g. whether something “has [no/a] place in a society that values both individual rights and human dignity”. For instance, the original dilemma, involving switching or not switching a train down a new track, actively killing one who was set to live in order to save two who were set to die,* is much more likely to lead to differences in opinion.

*Or whatever numbers happen to be used. As an additional complication, many might choose differently depending on whether we have two-against-one or, say, twenty-against-one.

To return to a medical setting (as in my original text), note the similar difference between a physician performing triage after a collision between two trains and a physician deliberately murdering a patient in order to have organs to transplant into several other patients.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 27, 2023 at 4:22 pm

Life-and-death choices III

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In a text on life-and-death choices ([1]), I noted:

For instance, over the last few months, I have heard repeated claims of excessive pushing of “assisted suicide” (likely all relating to Canada). Assisted suicide might seem like an increase in one’s own self-determination. When done correctly, it might even be so.* However, when suicide becomes a “solution” actively offered by e.g. the government or a hospital (as opposed to something requested by the patient), maybe even one pushed as “the best option” (or similar), this fast ceases to be the case—especially, when the concerns of others are given priority.**


**Consider thinking like “if this patient dies, we have a free bed for someone else and maybe an organ or two to transplant”, “if this pensioner dies, there is more pension money to go around”, “if this prisoner dies, society is free from the costs of keeping him incarcerated and he is guaranteed not to commit further crimes” (also see excursion), and note the fate of Boxer in “Animal Farm” and many in “Soylent Green”. (Also note how often the dystopic works of old appear to be used as instruction manuals today—not as deterrents.)

Today, I encountered claims that Doctor endorses idea of suicide through organ donation ([2]). Some quotes:*

*Here and below with reservations for formatting, etc.

A recent bioethics paper raises some age-old arguments around an issue that strikes at the heart of ethical organ donation: organ donation euthanasia or ODE.

The Dead Donor Rule (DDR) is cornerstone to the public trust and ethics of organ donation. But for some, including Dr. Didde B Anderson, limiting the donation pool only to those actively dying or dead violates a principle of personal autonomy and is “paternalistic.”

As summarized in Psychology Today (PT), Anderson argues that healthy people who wish to donate an essential organ — a heart, for example — to save the lives of others should be allowed to do so, at the cost of their own lives.

Here something very similar to my original points apply, in that this might superficially seem like an increase in self-determination, but that the net-results could be very negative. This especially once the interest of others, utilitarian principles, and similar enter the equation. Apart from what is discussed in the remainder of [2], I note how easily this could move us towards exactly one of those Boxer or “Soylent Green” situations, especially when combined with coercion, economic incentives, reductions in medical services, etc.

One of Anderson’s main arguments is that allowing someone to choose to commit suicide for organ donation would lead to better organ viability. Yet this is a calculating, utilitarian argument that has no place in a society that values both individual rights and human dignity. […]

[Dr. Jonah Rubin of Harvard Medical School] says that creating a system that ignores the DDR — where an otherwise physically healthy person could request euthanasia for the purposes of organ donation — would inevitably create perverse incentives and unintended social consequences. If killing oneself for organ donation becomes a praiseworthy act, the mere mention of organ donation on a suicide-minded patient increases psychological pressure and starts to erode their autonomy.

Yet another issue in the same family, which could soon turn into guilting e.g. those in pain,* the elderly,* the poor, or the already suicidal into death, maybe in combination with claims that “You will no longer be a burden on your family!”, “You will no longer be a burden on society!”, “You have a civic duty to [whatnot]!”. (Note the difference that organ donations make to the situation: hospitals and the like now have incentives to push such a line in order to get organs for other patients and/or make more money.)

*In these cases, with reservations for organ viability, which can vary greatly depending on the cause of pain, how elderly, etc.

In a follow-up ([3]), I wrote:

[…] we have issues like where to draw the border between assistance and murder/manslaughter/whatnot, what level of encouragement (to go ahead) is tolerable in what setting,* when there should be an obligation to provide alternatives, when an offer to assist and/or a request for assistance should require a “cooling off” period, etc. […]

*That such encouragement can and often should be illegal is clear. Consider e.g. a deeply unhappy high-school student who is exposed to “encouraging” bullies. Even in a more medical setting, a case can often be made, as seen by how many who experience gender-dysphoria have been prematurely encouraged to take irrevocable steps. An analogous, “suicide affirmative”, approach could lead to a great many unnecessary deaths—maybe including that someone who engaged in a “call for attention” pseudo-attempt is encouraged to try again and with professional help to guarantee success.

Coincidentally, this matches up well with another recent article from the same source as [2]: Plan would let kids seek euthanasia … without telling parents! ([4]). This article discusses a potential horror, in light of the above, how easily manipulated today’s youths appear to be,* the gender-dysphoria epidemic, etc. Note, in particular, that youths who commit suicide and donate their organs would be a gold mine for an unscrupulous hospital.

*Whether the youths of yore or the adults of today were/are better, I leave unstated.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia have become rapidly accepted in Canada under the government’s Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) program, but there are still efforts to expand it even further. A new government report on MAiD was recently presented to Parliament, urging the inclusion of minors in the eligibility for physician-assisted death — without parental consent.

The committee then made the recommendation that Canada should begin, within five years, funding research and consulting “with minors on the topic of MAID, including minors with terminal illnesses, minors with disabilities, minors in the child welfare system and Indigenous minors.”

Here an interesting potential drift is present: while the current first effort seems to be focused on the terminally ill (cf. other parts of [4]), this continuation points to the mid- or long-term inclusion of those with disabilities, on welfare (burden to society!), and, for some reason, the “Indigenous”*.

*How they plan to get away with that one is unclear… I suspect that it is a case of a horrifyingly unfortunate formulation, e.g. with the intent to give the “Indigenous” preferential treatment in consultation, as a quasi-DIE measure and as opposed to a go-die measure. (Note a recent similar blunder where pushers of that absurd and linguistically nonsensical “people first” language made a claim along the lines that “the poor”, “the disabled”, and … “the French” would be insulting labels.)

Additionally, the report recommended that minors be able to be euthanized, even if their parent doesn’t approve […]:

That the Government of Canada establish a requirement that, where appropriate, the parents or guardians of a mature minor be consulted in the course of the assessment process for MAID, but that the will of a minor who is found to have the requisite decision-making capacity ultimately takes priority.

So, minors are supposed to be allowed to kill themselves, in addition to undergoing sex-change procedures, without parental consent—but they do not have the right to enter a binding contract on their own, to have sex, to get married, to drink, whatnot.* Indeed, such acts are often illegal even with parental consent…

*With reservations for what applies in any given jurisdiction for the age at hand. The laws can vary considerably.

Now, I am open to discuss what should and should not be allowed at what age, with or without parental consent, but any sane system must have a consistency of principle. Such a consistency would not be present here. (And tends to be absent, more generally, when politicians are present.)

Written by michaeleriksson

February 27, 2023 at 3:05 pm

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On the attempts to cancel “Dilbert” and Scott Adams

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In recent news, the comic strip “Dilbert” appears to have been partially cancelled after author Scott Adams made statements condemned, typically without quotes, as e.g. a “racist rant”.

I made a brief search to find out what he actually had said and mostly came up empty. One of the few hits that actually contained quotes was at American Thinker*. Going by what is written there, neither “racist” nor “rant”** truly applies:***

*That a decidedly non-Leftist site is one of the few that actually gives specifics is telling: the typical Leftist approach is to shout “Racist!”, give no proof, and hope to be believed in a blanket manner.

**While the gross abuse of “racist” on the Left, and especially among the actually racist parts of the Left, is a known issue, it also seems to me that the word “rant” is quite overused, as another indirect attempt at discrediting someone, per se, rather than to discuss his actual claims, underlying reasoning, the facts of the matter, etc.

***In addition to the usual disclaimers about formatting, etc., note that the below contains considerable re-quoting and resulting quotes within quotes.

Adams became a nationwide trending topic after he said that black people are “a hate group and I don’t want to have anything to do with them.”

While a very generalizing statement, and one that does seem to be legitimately worthy of criticism at that level of generalization, it should be seen in the light of:

Adams was referring to a Rasmussen Survey that revealed that only 53 percent of Black Americans believe “it’s okay to be white.” Twenty-six percent think “it isn’t okay to be white,” while 21% remain undecided.

BLACK AMERICANS ONLY: “It’s okay to be white.” 53% agree, 26% disagree, 21% not sure

“Black people can be racist, too” 76% of agree, 27% disagree, 8% not sure.
https://t.co/5pYBvT00qn — Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) February 22, 2023

The first portion is something much more problematic, something that truly should be cause for alarm, and something that truly should be filling the news. Going by this survey, between 26 and 47 percent of Blacks are a hate* group—and this even restricted to Whites as the object of hate, without looking at e.g. the wide-spread anti-Asian and anti-Hispanic sentiments in the Black population.

*At least, by the standards of the Left, which invariably fails to make a difference between e.g. “hate” and “loathing”. Also see a discussion of “hate speech”.

As an aside, the Left and/or more specific Black hate-groups (e.g. BLM) have pushed hard to make statements like “ALL lives matter” and “It’s OK to be White” be, paradoxically and contrafactually, considered hate speech, which shows how far gone the debate is and what mindlessness and hateful distortions rule on the Left. The haters are given a free rein and those objecting to the haters are condemned as—haters.

He also said the following:

Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from black people.

Wherever you have to go, just get away. Because there’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed, right. This can’t be fixed. You just have to escape.

As far as I can tell, he is factually at least approximately correct in this regard. I have seen a great many sources (note e.g. [1]) give experiences and statistics on these matters that point to “get away” being sound advice. In the future, this might change, but it will be a long-term process and it will require a complete rethinking of U.S. policy* towards Blacks and a reversal of e.g. Anti-White hate propaganda as pushed by CRT, the history-distorting 1619 Project, and similar anti-scientific absurdities.

*Including over-lenient treatment of criminal acts, affirmative action, and the like. Cf. e.g. parts of [1] resp. the discussed book.

A potentially important point is that he said “This can’t be fixed.” (etc.), not e.g. “They can’t be fixed.”. The latter might, depending on details, have been genuine racism; the former is not.

He then cited CNN anchor Don Lemon to claim that there’s a “correlation” between a “mostly Black” neighborhood and “a bunch of problems he didn’t see” in majority-white areas.

Again a factually true claim. (To boot, with the complication that it is unclear whether Adams, as opposed to just Lemon, would have been worthy of criticism, had the claim been faulty.)

Adams also said that he was going to stop helping black America because it doesn’t seem to pay off.

It makes no sense to help black Americans if you’re white.

Again, he is factually correct: Firstly, at least the type of help and “help” so far given,* seems to make matters worse. Secondly, the help does not seem to result in gratitude but in calls for more help and gross entitlement issues. (And, no, just shouting “Slavery!” or “Jim Crow!” is not a justification for such help. See e.g. [2].)

*However, other types of help could conceivably be beneficial, e.g. that Blacks are directed away from ghetto/gangsta culture, taught to take responsibility for their own lives (ditto many of the younger Whites), etc.

He added that videos of black people beating white people had convinced him that whites should not help black people and whites should not live in communities with a large percentage of black people.

Here he makes an error, if not one different from those that the Left and mindless Leftists make on a very regular basis: Just looking at videos implies that the overall impression could be distorted by selection effects. Statistics are what counts in situations like these.

All in all, if* Adams deserves a cancellation, the same applies several times over to the likes of Xendi, Sharpton, and AOC. In fact, a very significant part of the Democrat top, including Biden and Pelosi, are more deserving of cancellation.

*An “if” that hinges both on whether Adams truly did something sufficiently wrong, and whether cancellations are a legitimate tool to begin with. I am highly sceptical to both.

I would certainly encourage any and all readers who has seen “Dilbert” disappear from e.g. their daily papers to write a letter of protest to the resp. paper/whatnot. Hell, throw in a threat of cancelling the subscriptions and show that “go woke, go broke” is a real thing!

Excursion on Dahl and increasing distortions of words:
In light of my recent text on Roald Dahl resp. the distortions of his works by Leftist BigBrother-ites, I cannot suppress the fear that we will soon see something worse, namely distortions of the words various persons have spoken/written as explicit own opinions (as opposed to opinions uttered by characters in works of fiction, opinions that might be speculated based on events in works of fiction, and similar). Adams is still alive and could put up a fight, but Dahl is dead and can as little put up a fight against such distortions as he could around his books. So, instead of e.g. cancelling Dahl for being an evil whatnot*, why not just take any statements made and twist them into another direction? If someone is otherwise tolerable, why not just add (fake) explicit statements to his history to create the impression that he was a staunch supporter of various Leftist causes? (Note e.g. how Feminists are very keen on slapping the label “Feminist” onto historical characters, long dead and predating the word “Feminist”, with no regard for how these characters might actually have reacted to such, often unfair and potentially defamatory, claims.)

*The “whatnot” possibly depending on the mood of the day.

As exaggerated examples of principle:

“Give me social security or give me death!”

“There is nothing to fear but White Supremacy!”

“One small step for man, a giant accomplishment for womyn engineers!”

Excursion on me and Adams:
Long ago, I wrote a text on the most important advice for company life—read Dilbert. This, I have to admit, is not an advice that I have followed over the last fifteen or more years. The reasons are simply that (a) I grew fed up with a particular brand of humor and a certain set of standing jokes (too much of anything…), and (b) the Dilbert strip is often quite depressing.

I cannot speak for how the strip has developed in the years gone by, but I must concur with that younger version of me to the point that having read (and thought about!) just one or two years’ worth of the strip-that-I-knew can make a major difference in developing the right understanding of stupidity in the office and the irrationality of various actors (e.g. HR and middle management), the right level of cynicism to have and level of caution to apply, etc. Moreover, an occasional re-exposure, in order to be reminded, does not hurt—it is so easy to forget how problematic some persons are until it is too late.

Of course, any such benefit from reading the strip, as any other benefit, e.g. of amusement, is entirely independent of what views Adams does or does not hold, what statements he has or has not uttered in an interview, etc. By reducing access to the works of a particular author, more might be done to harm his readers/viewers/whatnot than to harm him.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 26, 2023 at 3:44 pm

No gratuitous gratuities / Follow-up: various

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On the 11th, I published a text on the expectation of five stars for a standard performance ([1]); on the 12th, I published a text on poor attitudes in service workers ([2]), especially with regard to the connection between being paid and doing one’s job; on the 13th, I encountered someone else’s complaint about expectations around tips: “Here’s A Tip: Stop Expecting Gratuitous Gratuity For Simply Doing Your Job”.

Sub-topics in the last include poor service combined with the expectation of a tip, tips expected even outside service situations,* tips at least semi-determined by the recipient,** a deterioration of service mentality since the author’s own days of waiting tables, and a widespread entitlement culture.

*Going by the article, there appears to be evermore tip jars in the U.S., even when no other “service” is provided than e.g. handling a cash-register. (Living in Germany, I cannot speak from own experience.)

**Notably, through giving the customer a limited set of options, from which 0 is absent. A further detachment from the actual service is introduced by making these options percentages, implying that the same service can be more or less expensive depending on the price of what was ordered. (Notwithstanding that approximate percentages are common in traditional tipping too.)

To this, I note that the justification for tips from the customer’s point of view is an ability to reward or not reward a server based on the quality of service. Ditto from the server’s/worker’s point of view, as an incentive to provide better service and a way to earn better for doing a better job. When tips are disconnected from these justifications, e.g. because the customer does not set the tip or because a tip is expected even after poor service (and/or outside a service situation), tips become pointless. Now they are nothing more than a way to shift costs from the restaurant or whatnot to the customer in a hidden manner: instead of the restaurant paying a regular wage to the server and charging the customer accordingly and openly, the server receives a reduced wage, the customer sees a price in the menu that does not reflect reality, and then the customer pays twice—once to the restaurant for the meal; once to the server for the service.* Of course, when tips are expected more often, when larger tips are expected, and/or when tips are expected regardless of service, this mechanism also implies a gradual hidden increase in the de-facto price and, thereby, a hidden increase in inflation (note several recent or semi-recent texts on inflation).

*Here some additional complications ensue, e.g. as to how VAT is handled and whether separate tips are tax deductible and/or reimbursed by the employer for e.g. representation dinners. These do not affect the big picture, however—and I suspect, knowing governments, that the current system is geared against the customer.

A few quotes:*

*The usual disclaimers about formatting, etc., apply.

As someone who waited tables and tended bar for roughly a decade, I am a fierce defender of the service industry. In fact, in the rare instance my wife and I argue, it’s likely because I tipped 40 percent for perfectly average service.

I believe, and always have, that good service should be rewarded. But sadly the act of tipping is no longer a service contract. Rather, it has become a requirement for the most menial transactions.

[In relation to a personal experience:]

Being expected to tip for bad service is one thing. But being expected to tip for no service is quite another.

[…] We walked up to the counter and ordered, as one does at a Wendy’s, and the “server” handed me a number for our table and flipped over the infamous screen, which was defaulted to a 20 percent tip.

Not knowing what lie ahead, I naively accepted and signed, only to pour my own water, get my own refills, and bus my own table. I couldn’t help but think, “Shouldn’t they be giving me 20 percent?”

I remember well the days of providing full service to an eight-table section because Tanner or Tyler or Tucker had partied too hard the previous night. Nearly every shift was chaos. Just imagine six hours of a table of seniors complaining about the temperature of the tea while an angry father frantically flagged you down because his child had spilled his soda, and a drunk divorcee demanded another martini — this time “with alcohol, please!”


These days it’s a miracle if you can get these kids to look you in the eye, let alone do their job. […]

Excursion on non-tips that appear to be tips:
One of the most perfidious and despicable scams that I have ever encountered relate to tipping in Germany (the same scam might or might not be used elsewhere): Some companies running public toilets have a small table, with a small bowl, containing some coins, on it and a poor looking attendant next to it. The setting creates the unmistakable und unambiguous impression that this bowl is for tips to the poor looking attendant. Many give accordingly, including yours truly before I became aware of the scam—that some of these providers do not consider these tips tips, but forbid the poor looking attendant from even touching the money and proclaim a complete fiction of a “freiwilliges Nutzungsentgelt” (“voluntary payment for use”). This, then, dishonestly turns what was obviously intended as a tip for the employee into a pointless (and very involuntary) gift to the employer.

Excursion on other scam-like tricks:
Sadly, similarly scammy tricks (that might fall short of being scams in a technical sense) exist. Consider e.g. buyer’s premium, where an auction house already paid by the seller collects an additional fantasy amount from the buyer; real-estate agents who perform a service for the seller and charge the buyer (cf. parts of [3] and [4]); and, of course, VAT and other on-top-of-the-real-price amounts that go to the government.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 15, 2023 at 10:11 pm