Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Objectivism & Economics, Part 11

Objectivism and Austrian Economics: Salsman’s Revisionism. In the recommended bibliography of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, one finds more than a dozen books from economists associated with the so-called Austrian school, included eight works by Ludwig von Mises, whom Rand regarded as a “great economist” and whose works she recommended for dispelling the myth that ‘“laissez-faire’ capitalism is the cause of depressions.” Despite Rand’s endorsement of von Mises, Objectivism, under the influence of M. Northrup Buechner and Richard Salsman, has begun to distance itself from Austrian economics. Salsman has, in particular, focused his animus upon Austrian business cycle theory.
Another common claim about stock-price gains in the 1920s is that they were made possible by Federal Reserve “inflation.” This view is held by many supposed free-market economists—monetarists and Austrians—and is certainly a tempting thesis for those who oppose central banking. But was Alan Greenspan correct when he wrote [in the Rand approved CUI], in the mid-1960s, that the late-1920s represented a “fantastic speculative boom” that was triggered by “excess credit” pumped out by the Fed—credit which then allegedly “spilled over into the stock market”? This view of the late-1920s stock-price rise could not be more wrong.

Why is Greenspan and the Austrians wrong? Salsman explains:
In the Austrian theory of business cycles, it is easy to detect a lack of appreciation for the intelligence, wisdom and foresight of entrepreneurs, businessmen and investors. Austrian economists presume producers are easily fooled by government manipulations of money, credit, and the economy—especially by the alleged phenomenon of “artificially” low interest rates. They claim producers are conned into undertaking projects that later will turn out badly and require liquidation. In fact, producers are not fooled; they know, even if implicitly, which government policies are conducive to wealth creation and which are destructive. That is, they know when it’s worth producing and when it’s only worth shrugging. And when they shrug and production grinds to a halt, it does not grind to a halt because they had previously produced.

When the Austrian view of the business cycle is coupled with a malevolent-universe premise—with the view that in the economy or stock market “what goes up must come down,” that “all good things must come to an end,” that no long ride of unbroken prosperity can ever persist without taking on irrationally exuberant hitchhikers—the combination can be catastrophic. For it can bring even purported champions of capitalism to openly endorse destructive policies such as Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes, curbs on the stock exchange, and more burdensome government regulations.

I will discuss Salsman’s theory of the entrepreneur in my next economics post. I merely here wish to note the obvious ideological origins of Salsman’s ideas. Elsewhere on the web, Salsman has given 12 reasons why he disagrees with “contemporary” Austrian economics. I won’t list all the twelve reasons, since all but two of his reasons are either based on a malicious interpretation of Austrian doctrines or an inability to understand even the most basic economic concepts. But the last reason he lists is the most glaring and fatuous of all and gives the whole game away. Salsman complains of the “animosity (and/or indifference) towards Ayn Rand and Objectivism” manifested by Austrian economists. In other words, Salsman resents the failure of Austrian economists to bend the knee at the altar of Rand. But is that any reason to disagree with someone—that they don’t worship your own private idols? Does Salsman refuse to get medical attention from any doctor who is indifferent (or who entertains animosity) towards Rand? Does he disagree with any specialist who, even though Rand herself recommended him, is not an enthusiastic admirer of Objectivist (or approved of by ARI)? Here we see, quite plainly, the poisonous fruits of ideology—that is, of making subservience to a system of ideas more important than any other consideration, including every consideration of truth, justice, fact and science.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Typical argumentative strategy of this blog:
1) Show something you don't like about person X.
2) Show person X is loosely affiliated with ARI.
3) Identify ARI with Objectivism.
4) Conclude that Objectivism involves something you don't like.

What's wrong with this argument? Every move. Since when does Richard Salsman speak for ARI, or, for that matter, Objectivism? You'll find plenty of important Objectivists who disagree with Salsman and defend the Austrians.

BTW, mentioning pieces written by Salsman in TIA--edited by Tracinski who is *not* affiliated with ARI--does little to support your case.

Anonymous said...

Typical argumentative strategy of a randroid. Completely misunderstand somthing and try to act all high and mighty.

Red Grant said...

Greg, what do you think of "Human Action"?

What do you agree and disagree with it?


I tried to read it once about 10 years ago, but the English translation was truly atrocious.

I'm thinking of giving it a try using, this time, the trick I've learned from Stalin.

JayCross said...

Greg, exactly which of his 12 points show an "inability to understand even the most basic economic concepts?" That sounds like a rather sweeping accusation to make without elaborating at all.

Wells said...

Hello JayCross;

I don't really know enough about Austrian Economics to critique Salsman fully. However in an attempt to begin to answer your question I will take issue with and critique points 4, 5, 7, and 9 (See below for what Salsman actually said, according to Speicher). These points give me the feeling that Salsman knows nothing about Economics.

Concerning point 4.
Some Entrepreneurs chisel arbitrage and are damned proud of it.
Arbitrage is the act of making money off of the difference in price of some item in different markets. If the past this was done with sailing ships and ledgers, nowadays this is likely to be done with futures contracts and machines that crunch numbers very, very fast.

Generally though Entrepreneurs make money by selling something for less than the inputs would have cost them on the open market. Entrepreneurship is about finding an opportunity to do something better than it is currently being done, and then finding a way to get paid for doing that. That is not the technical definition of arbitrage, but it is exploiting the difference between what you can with your skills at whatever the business area is, organization, and promotion; and what someone else can do with the open market.

Also By the Way, the person who sets the price for any item is the end user of the item. Other people involved, (whether producers or speculators) are trying to make money off the item, and money can only be made if someone is willing to buy the item for its usefulness rather than its resale value. The buyer is king because he or she bankrolls the kingdom. The objectivist train of thought about the producer being king owes more to works of fiction like Atlas Shrugged Than to any actual economic philosophizing or research.

On point 5.
Capitalists are financiers, that's why they're called Capitalists. Capitalists are not to be confused with Entrepreneurs who start businesses (Although a person can be both, usually businesses are started by someone who is both and a worker(earns, or is supposed to earn anyway, a wage)).

Generally there are four ways to make money, which correspond to four types of income. The types of income are Rent, Wages, Interest, and Profit. A Capitalist makes interest because they allow their money to be used to fund ventures. An Entrepreneur makes profit by being where the buck stops for a venture.

I'm not saying a Capitalist does no work, Any money above the riskless rate of return requires actual work (basically determining what businesses can actually succeed and only funding those) in order to make. I am saying that the Capitalist once they have set themselves up makes the same money when they are sleeping as they do when they are researching companies. So the income is in fact passive.

Now to discuss 7.
To say this really requires someone be so blind that they Will Not See. Even if someone was to tune in to the new they can see the the tail end of a speculative bubble right now, in real time.

Basically here's what happens.
In Every market there are three types of participants. There are Producers, who make the good in question. Consumers who buy the good and use it, and Speculators, who buy the good and attempt to sell it at a higher price. You can also split the market into 'Hedgers' Who have a real interest in the good in question and Speculators who do not.
Usually the market for some good will go up and down, the producers and speculators will make money or not, and the consumers will get their goods at better or worse prices. Also capital (From Capitalists!) will flow into the market to help firms (run by Entrepreneurs!) make investments if the market is profitable. Returns will be on par with returns from other markets.

A Speculative Bubble happens when it becomes the received wisdom that returns in one particular market will be persistently higher then returns in other markets. Usually this happens in markets where the returns have been higher than average. This causes two things to happen. Capitalists, who want the highest rate or return, will invest in the Bubble Market. And Speculators will also invest by buying what the Bubble Firms produce, in hopes of selling it to Bubble Consumers for a price higher than they paid for it. The Bubble Entrepreneurs are able to make more of what they were making before, and still sell it, to Bubble Speculators (Who bid up the price because they are still more numerous).
If this stops soon after it starts you simply have a bunch of Speculators who look kind of foolish with Bubble inventory, and a few bankrupt Bubble Capitalists and bankrupt Bubble Entrepreneurs, the market works, you take your chances and sometimes you just lose money.
But if it continues, it grows bigger and bigger by more speculators and more capital until the only buyers left are bubble speculators, (real consumers having been all but priced out of the market). Some get clued into the fact that they are the greatest fools (From the greater fool theory of stock speculating), and they dump as fast as they can before someone else does. Causing a collapse.

Does this mean that businessmen are easily duped? I don't know what you are talking about. There is no duping in a speculative bubble. The returns really were higher than average (That's why the bubble started in the first place), The money Speculators were making was real (unless they used leverage to make money, then it was fake). Markets go up, then they go down, and no one really knows when they will do what. The ones who left early, and or diversified aren't bankrupt now, at the end. Just the suckers who went all in.
Finally 9.
This point also came from works of fiction rather than fact. Breathing Air is free because it is everywhere, and requires no special effort to acquire. The only place you have to pay for breathing air is in outer space, or underwater, because there is none. Oil costs $whatever a barrel because you have to go to the desert or go underwater to find it, bring a billion dollars of equipment with you (which is heavy and so needing effort to haul it, was made by workers who, are not everywhere, and want to be paid. And made of steel, which you can't just stumble over), and know advanced geophysics in order to drill a hole in the ground (taught by professors who are not everywhere, not at all abundant, and want to be paid).

Also Opportunity cost is the law of the world. You can only do a certain amount of stuff in a day or a lifetime, and you only have a certain amount of money. To spend a dollar on something requires that you spend that dollar on nothing else. To do something requires that you do not do something else. If I want to go to Berkeley I cannot, at the same time, go to Harvard. If I buy a Ferrari, I cannot, on my salary, afford to buy anything else. Because of this everyone is required to choose what is important to spend time and money on. Moralists have known this since 10,000 BC. Objective Economists should know this, and I think they do, but they should also show that they know it.

4, (their (absurd) theory of the essentially-passive, arbitrage-chiseling entrepreneur (and "the consumer is king"))
5, (their non-view of the role of the capitalist (financier-investor))
7, (their business cycle theory (to the extent it embodies the superstition of market "bubbles" or the alleged idiocy of easily-duped businessmen))
9, (their silly embrace of the neo-classical myth that economics is essentially about "scarcity" and their acceptance of the "opportunity cost" myth (but which Reisman properly refutes)

gregnyquist said...

Jay: "Greg, exactly which of his 12 points show an 'inability to understand even the most basic economic concepts?'"

The big one is #9: "[the Austrians] silly embrace of the neo-classical myth that economics is essentially about 'scarcity' and their acceptance of the 'opportunity cost' myth."

Scarcity as a myth? Surely he can't mean it--right? But then get goes on to reject what he calls the "opportunity cost" myth.

I'm sorry, but scarcity and opportunity cost are basic to economics. I'm not sure what ideological motive Salsman has for rejecting them, or in what way he smuggles them back into his system (for it's hard to believe he rejects them en toto—their fundamental to any economic thinking).

I would also include #6 (although this is obviously more controversial, because Salsman has mainstream economics on his side with this one): Salsman writes of the Austrian's "disdain for math and of General Equilibrium Theory." But it is precisely math and general equilibrium theory that constitute the great error of mainstream neo-classical economics. This view tacitly assumes that an economy is a mechanism--as if, for example, it were some giant swiss watch with all kinds of levers and gears. Being mechanistic, it also deterministic. No conception of free will (including, of course, Rand's extreme version) is logically compatible with it. Yet the theory is even worse than that. That portion of the present economic crisis that is due to derivatives (i.e., a major portion) grew out of equilibrium economics. All those hedge fund houses with their mathematical models were what drove the derivatives market. These people, in effect, replaced calculation with thought (sorry, but they are not the same thing!). A capitalist economy is not a mechanism. It does not exist in a state of equilibrium. On the contrary, under entrepreneurial capitalism, new combinations of using resources are constantly being introduced, triggering the whole process of "creative destruction."

I would also suspect that Salsman's inclusion of "radical subjectivity" and his gripe about "value-free" economics also falls under the head of not understanding basic economic concepts, but I haven't the time to explain why right now.

Wells said...

Greg;

Mathematics is an essential part of doing anything, Even economics. It is not enough to know that something 'costs alot' or 'is risky' or 'might pay interest'.
It is also necessary to know how much, and how much per month. Or what is the percentage rate of the interest, and how does it compare to a T-note. Or what is the probability of losing my shirt, and what is the probability of getting rich.
Sure Credit Default Swaps cost a lot of people a lot of cash (Millions of people, Trillions in cash by the way). But it is not the math that is evil. A certain fiction writer was able to make shit up without using a single equation.

gregnyquist said...

"Greg, what do you think of Human Action"?

I regard it as a great book, and economics would be in a lot better shape if it was based largely on Mises' work rather than on Walrasian equilibrium and the monetarist equation of exchange. Having said that, I still believe there are a lot of flaws in the book. Mises is far too rationalistic—an error that becomes particularly pernicious in Mises' most devoted followers, Rothbard and Riesman. There are also a number of doctrines in Mises that are partly, rather than fully true. Mises often hits the nail on the side of the head, rather than straight on: and so he over-emphasizes consumer sovereignty at the expense of entrepreneurial leadership, he over-emphasizes the role of time-preference as a determinant of the interest rate, and his grasp of the sociological and political aspects of economic reality are often naive and unsophisticated. Nevertheless, Human Action is one of those works that's great despite its flaws.

Wells said...

On Value Free Economics. But first, a short post on political science.

A long time ago, political scientists would create theories about how politics works. However these same political scientist always did this with respect to how politics should work. The work of a political scientist was to describe what the laws should be and how people should behave. They would describe how people actually behaved, but this was in an effort to describe a way to change people's behavior. If I recall correctly, this is called Normative political science.

This stopped around about the time of Machiavelli (When I said a long time ago, I meant Aristotle and Saint Augustine's time).

The Prince was a manual for how to gain and use political power, Nothing more. He described how politics works without describing what exactly someone should be using political power to actually do. Machiavelli had ideas about what the princes of Italy should be doing, but he doesn't share them in the book (except for one chapter, at the end) This is called Positive political science.

Now to come back to discuss Economic theroies.

Ayn Rand's economic theory would clearly be a Normative one. She not only describes her opinion about how the economy works, she also has an opinion about what economists, policy makers, and random people should be doing economically; and is willing to share it as an integral part of her economic theory.

I'm guessing that, according to Salsman, the Modern Austrians have a Positive economic theory, Which doesn't appear to be true; and that a positive economic theory would be wrong to have (which also doesn't strike me as true, but I invite someone to prove me wrong).

Again, I don't know exactly what Salsman is talking about. Maybe it's because he's talking balls.

gregnyquist said...

Wells: "Does this mean that businessmen are easily duped?... The money Speculators were making was real... Markets go up, then they go down, and no one really knows when they will do what."

I'm not sure businessmen are duped. After all, businessmen would be facing uncertainty whether markets were being "manipulated" by central banks or not. The people who are duped are the second and third rate speculators, the one's that get fleeced when markets crash. It isn't entirely true that no one knows when markets are going to go up or down. There are a handful of speculators/businessmen who are really good at making educated guesses about markets. And there are others who, while they might not know when a market is going to crash, nevertheless know that it's going to crash. Indeed, contrary what Greenspan has asserted, bubbles are pretty easy to spot. When the housing market doubles in the matter of a few years, that's a bubble. Any economically unjustifiable rise in prices is a pretty good indication that something is wrong, that credit creation through reckless central bank policies and/or wildcat debt leveraging in the private sector is pushing up an individual market to levels that can only be justified if we assume that prices are going to keep rising at their current rate of increase forever.

gregnyquist said...

Wells: "Mathematics is an essential part of doing anything, Even economics. It is not enough to know that something 'costs alot' or 'is risky' or 'might pay interest'. It is also necessary to know how much, and how much per month. Or what is the percentage rate of the interest, and how does it compare to a T-note."

This is a confusion of accounting with economic theory. Adding up the costs of things is an entirely different matter. The Austrians reject mathematics as a tool of economic theory; they don't reject it as a tool for accounting or for economic statistics. What mathematical economists do is they assume that the various economic factors that can be enumerated, such as the prices and quantities of goods, have constant relationships that can be described in mathematical equations. But since prices are determined by the qualitative judgments of human beings, this simply isn't true. "No ... constant relations exist ... between economic elements," as von Mises points out. "The equations formulated by mathematical economics remain a useless piece of mental gymnastics and would remain so even if they were to express much more than they really do."

Daniel Barnes said...

Good comments, people. Briefly: I think Salsman's strikingly romantic view of the entrepreneur is just another example of how Rand's fiction comes to replace reality in the minds of Objectivists.

The other thing that worries me right now is not so much the problems with the financial system, but the other supposedly failsafe rationalistic systems developed by the smartest guys in the room that turn out to be vastly irresponsible creations. I'm thinking for example of the control systems for the American and former Soviet nuclear arsental. This financial crisis should remind us just how much we are skating over the surface of some pretty thin ice...

Neil Parille said...

I don't know if anyone has given a complete list of Salsman's big twelve (he says there are more), so I will:

1) their "radical subjectivism," 2) their resort to inane "praxeology,"
3) their (virtually non-existent) profit theory,
4) their (absurd) theory of the essentially-passive, arbitrage-chiseling entrepreneur (and "the consumer is king"),
5) their non-view of the role of the capitalist (financier-investor),
6) their disdain for math and of General Equilibrium Theory (including their claim that markets are in perpetual DIS-equilibrium and that equilibrium is incompatible with economic motion or dynamism),
7) their business cycle theory (to the extent it embodies the superstition of market "bubbles" or the alleged idiocy of easily-duped businessmen),
8) their insistence that fractional-reserve free banking and anything short of a 100%-reserve gold warehouse is "fraudulent" (the view of Rothbard-Reisman- Skousen - but rejected by White, Selgin and me), 9) their silly embrace of the neo-classical myth that economics is essentially about "scarcity" and their acceptance of the "opportunity cost" myth (but which Reisman properly refutes),
10) their neglect (or ridicule) of the marginal tax-rate theory of supply-side economists,
11) their claim about "value-free economics"
12) their animosity (and/or indifference) towards Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

Neil Parille said...

A few more points:

1. Am I the only person who has ever wondered if Bill Gates would have been a successful businessman if he decided to go into the car business, or even the software business ten years after he did? He is no doubt a brilliant man, but there is a question of luck or timing as well.

2. Salsman takes a swipe at (apparenly) Reisman and Greenspan:

"I'm sometimes asked what accounts for Miss Rand's 'failure' to include, in her recommended list, the two men I believe to be the real giants in pro-capitalist political economy: Jean-Baptiste Say and Carl Menger. I've been told by a reliable source that she wasn't aware of them. I also know that at the time (1960s) their books were out of print (though not absent from the libraries). Thus I'm inclined to blame to those 'economists' who surrounded Miss Rand at the time - men I'll leave un-named - for neglecting to bring these giants to her attention, or to that of Objectivists generally."

3. Salsman's tapes are sold by the ARI, so I'm wondering if HQ has given the go-ahead for rejecting Austrian economics.

4. The Von Mises Institute has just put out a study guide written by Robert Murphy to Human Action, which is available for free on the web:

http://www.mises.org/story/3262

Neil Parille said...

As a final point, Geroge Reisman had a falling out with Leonard Peikoff and the ARI some years ago. I don't think it had anything to do with economic theory.

The ARI is offering a new course on economics by Brian Simpson, who is a student of Dr. Reisman, so perhaps the trend away from Austrian economics has stopped.

http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=DS81M

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

1. Am I the only person who has ever wondered if Bill Gates would have been a successful businessman if he decided to go into the car business, or even the software business ten years after he did? - Neil
___________________________________





Based on what I have known of his background, personality, and intellect

yes, Bill Gates would have been a successful businessman in other businesses, including car business,

just not as successful as the computer software business.



___________________________________

He is no doubt a brilliant man, but there is a question of luck or timing as well. - Neil
___________________________________




On this one, I agree with Machiavelli.

Luck is really more of what one makes of, using one's personality, character, intelligence.

It's less of something someone hands over on a silver platter.


The truth as I know of computer software business before Bill Gates started dominating is that


both Steve Jobs, and IBM had been in far better positions than Bill Gates to dominate the computer software business.


They both missed the "Big Picture" and/or lacked the will(aka personality and/or character) to stand up for what turned out to be their best interests.





___________________________________

4. The Von Mises Institute has just put out a study guide written by Robert Murphy to Human Action, which is available for free on the web:

http://www.mises.org/story/3262 - Neil
___________________________________





Thank you very much. I'll do Stalin "proud".

JayCross said...

Neil,

Gates definitely benefited from some luck. Here's a quote from "How to Make Wealth" by Paul Graham, a venture capitalist and decidedly pro-entrepreneur source:

"There is a large random factor in the success of any company. So the guys you end up reading about in the papers are the ones who are very smart, totally dedicated, and win the lottery. Certainly Bill is smart and dedicated, but Microsoft also happens to have been the beneficiary of one of the most spectacular blunders in the history of business: the licensing deal for DOS. No doubt Bill did everything he could to steer IBM into making that blunder, and he has done an excellent job of exploiting it, but if there had been one person with a brain on IBM's side, Microsoft's future would have been very different. Microsoft at that stage had little leverage over IBM. They were effectively a component supplier. If IBM had required an exclusive license, as they should have, Microsoft would still have signed the deal. It would still have meant a lot of money for them, and IBM could easily have gotten an operating system elsewhere.

Instead IBM ended up using all its power in the market to give Microsoft control of the PC standard. From that point, all Microsoft had to do was execute. They never had to bet the company on a bold decision. All they had to do was play hardball with licensees and copy more innovative products reasonably promptly.

If IBM hadn't made this mistake, Microsoft would still have been a successful company, but it could not have grown so big so fast. Bill Gates would be rich, but he'd be somewhere near the bottom of the Forbes 400 with the other guys his age."


That said, I agree with Red that he would've been successful in just about any other business. Just not as mega-successful as Microsoft.

JayCross said...

As an aside, "How to Make Wealth" is an excellent description of what a successful entrepreneur does, written by someone who works with dozens of them every day. As he tells it, the majority of them are not arbitragers.

Nor am I, or was I ever, an arbitrager in my entrepreneurial activities. I suspect most entrepreneurs aren't.

gregnyquist said...

Neil: "As a final point, Geroge Reisman had a falling out with Leonard Peikoff and the ARI some years ago. I don't think it had anything to do with economic theory."

The "falling out," or rather the excommunication of George Reisman from ARI had nothing to do with economic theory. It had to do, primarily, with a squabble between Peter Schwartz and Harry Binswanger with Reisman's wife, Edith Packard over ARI policy. The grizzly details can be gathered from documents listed here.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Certainly Bill is smart and dedicated, but Microsoft also happens to have been the beneficiary of one of the most

spectacular blunders

in the history of business: the licensing deal for DOS. - Paul Graham as quoted by Jay
___________________________________






That spectacular blunder, was it caused by incompetence on the part of IBM

or

was it caused by the random factor?


___________________________________

Neil,

Gates definitely benefited from some luck. Here's a quote from "How to Make Wealth" by Paul Graham, a venture capitalist and decidedly pro-entrepreneur source: - Jay
-----------------------------------
"There is a large random factor in the success of any company. - Paul Graham as quoted by Jay
___________________________________






So do you think Warren Buffet succeeded due to a large random factor?

Competent or incompetent managements are result of a random factor?


___________________________________

No doubt Bill did everything he could to steer IBM into making that blunder, and he has done an excellent job of exploiting it, but if there had been

one person with a brain on IBM's side,

Microsoft's future would have been very different. - Paul Graham as quoted by Jay
___________________________________





The fact that IBM didn't have a person with a "brain",

was it due to random factor

or

was it due to incompetent management promotion policy?

Wells said...

IBM is still one of the largest computing companies on Earth. Their blunder couldn't have been that bad.

If I recall correctly, their strategy was to make everything on an IBM Personal Computer standard, and to have everyone know the standard and how to make peripherals for it. This would cause there to be more choices for the consumer of computers provided that the consumer chose an IBM product.
It was a decent idea, and allowed them to beat Apple for the longest time (Which had every peripheral made in house, marked up by a great deal, and their standards proprietary).

However what happened is that people could build whole computers out of clone peripherals and random computer companies (Dell, HP, Compaq, etc) did exactly that. The OS that IBM contracted out to have made (MSDOS) was the true lynchpin of the system, because without it, no other programs on the market would work. IBM operatives thought the hardware standards were the lynchpin.
Intel, and later AMD, also made out like bandits.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Microsoft at that stage had little leverage over IBM. - Paul Graham as quoted by Jay
___________________________________





Paul is wrong. Microsoft at the time had a credible leverage.




___________________________________

Instead IBM ended up using all its power in the market to give Microsoft control of the PC standard. From that point, all Microsoft had to do was execute.


They never had to bet the company on a bold decision. - Paul Graham as quoted by Jay
___________________________________





Paul is wrong, again.



Microsoft finally demonstrated their Windows GUI at the Spring 1985 Comdex, shipping version 1.0 in the fall. Microsoft learned from DRI's experience with Apple and made Windows appear slightly different from the Mac GUI. Version 1.0 proved an embarrassment to Microsoft. It was incredibly slow, unreliable, and lacked the smooth performance of GEM and the Mac. Version 2.0 of Windows did likewise. Windows was completely rewritten for version 3.0 and released in the spring of 1990, with the most expensive software promotional campaign the industry had ever seen coupled with aggressive marketing (initial price was $39 and thousands of copies were given away free).



Gates did what neither IBM, DRI, Apple, Xerox, or the other GUI developers were willing to do. Namely, to make a total commitment, risking the entire company on the success of a GUI.

http://www.kegel.com/remedy/archive/newsx011.html

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

IBM is still one of the largest computing companies on Earth. Their blunder couldn't have been that bad. - Wells
___________________________________




Wells, your comment is so unlike you.

It reminds me of the argument sometimes I hear when I point out inconsistency in Rush Limbaugh's argument with certain ditto heads,


"If you are so smart, how come you are not as rich and successful as Rush?"


IBM did make a big boo boo, (as I saw it was more or less due to her confusion regarding the optimal mix of salesman-centric, legacy-support centric approach, innovation, portable, and compartmentalizion.)

and it wasn't random as stated by Paul Graham as quoted by Jay.




___________________________________

If I recall correctly, their strategy was to make everything on an IBM Personal Computer standard, and


to have everyone know the standard and how to make peripherals for it. - Wells
___________________________________




In addition, OS/2 lacked device drivers for many common devices such as printers, particularly non-IBM hardware.


[14] Windows, on the other hand, supported a much larger variety of hardware. The increasing popularity of Windows prompted Microsoft to shift its development focus from cooperating on OS/2 with IBM to building a franchise based on Windows


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS/2


Was that why IBM pushed OS/2?

Anonymous said...

Usually I can't stand this site but you are doing a real public service exposing Salsman. I read his twelve points and he's totally out to lunch on every single. Over the years I have spent way too much on ARI materials but I'm glad I at least never bought Salsman or Mr. B. Peikoff's philosophy tapes were very expensive but much more comprehensive than The Teaching Company's fare, of which I spent too much money there also. The ARI
series on Oliver Hendell Holmes was
also worthwhile but most of their offerings are ripoffs. Salsman doesn't appear to have the most rudimentary knowledge of economics
or history. Reisman's book is very
worthwhile but you have to overlook some gratuitous redbaiting
he does on Rothbard. Branden did the same thing in an exchange we had on Rothbard almost 44 years ago. I think NBI did much harm in
retrospect and it would have been
better for Rand to have written another novel or major philosophy work. I understand that hindsight is 20-20. Despite our disagreement
on Popper, Kant, et al, I do thank
you for exposing this fool Popper.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say "this fool Salsman."
Sorry about the typo.
Also left the word "one" at the end
of my second sentence.

Wells said...

Gerg Nyquest responded to my post on 12/19/2008 08:25:00 PM with a post on 12/19/2008 09:27:00 PM

He said.
"This is a confusion of accounting with economic theory."

And I will say
No it is not.

Gerg Nyquest also said
"The Austrians reject mathematics as a tool of economic theory;"
And I will say
This is dumb. If you are to measure anything you have to use mathematics. If you have a theory worthy of the name, you will have had to measure something, which means that you will have had to use mathematics.
Measuring things, (or observing external reality in philosophical talk) is the sene-qua-non of actual science. A person can be an economic theorist, which means that they will have at least documented economic history, or they can be a random guesser.