Monday, December 23, 2013

Information Asymmetry: Parallels in the Ridicule of the KKK and Obamacare's Pajama Boy

The very popular book Freakonomics dedicates Chapter 2 to information asymmetry.  The explanation of this dynamic in economics won Joseph Stiglitz the Nobel Prize.

The authors document how  ridicule is used as a counter-measure to the KKK's information asymmetry (emphasis added):
This chapter deals with how Real Estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan are similar. It goes on to say that they are our keepers of information and the information asymmetry causes them to have the power over people. The comparison comes to the fact that both parties have important information and are withholding that information. The two can also be said to have information that is dealing with Fear. Ku Klux Klan breeds fear through violence with its secret society while real estate agents deal with the fears of selling your house (largest financial transaction for most) for too little money or not selling it all.

The author starts out by giving a slight history of the Klan and how getting the information of the Klan out in the open led to its downfall. One man Stetson Kennedy and “John Brown” infiltrate KKK meetings and gather their secret information. They then take it and ridicule it on a national radio program, “The Adventures of Superman”.  Now that their secret information was disseminated it brought with it the dissolution of the KKK’s power. After this the Klan became unpopular and looses many members...
Ridicule, as an art form, is at its highest in Victor Davis Hanson's Pajama Boy Nation (HT: Instapunditand hopefully Obamacare will suffer the same fate as the KKK:
...Somehow we as a nation went from the iconic Marlboro Man to Pajama Boy — from the noble individual with a bad habit to the ignoble without a good habit — without a blink in between.

There are lots of revolting things in the Pajama Boy ad. After all, how can you top all at once a nerdy-looking child-man dressed in infantile pajamas while cradling a cup of hot chocolate with the smug assurance that he is running your life more than you his?

The Liberal Body-Snatchers

Still, there are one or two even scarier thoughts.

One, did the Obama appendage, Organizing for Action, really believe that such a sad-sack image might galvanize anyone about anything?  And two, did they really think that Pajama Boy would resonate with any young people outside of the New York-DC circus, as if to assume he would be persuasive: stay cool with retro geek glasses, pajamas, and hot chocolate like Pajama Boy, and then, presto, rush out to buy an Obamacare policy?

Out here in the rural middle of California — or most anywhere 30 miles inland from the coasts — Pajama Boy would last about two seconds pruning vines, or walking about the local Wal-Mart parking lot with his hot chocolate. Yet put him where his foot-padded pajamas bring dividends and for the last five years we all have lived out the consequences of his ilk’s ideological dreaming...
Related:  Social Commentary Through Juxtaposition



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