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Narcissism, the World, and the Rest of It

Interview granted to Goran Arsov of [sign in to see URL]

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1) You are the author of "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited" and an expert in matters concerning narcissism.

1.1 What are your three main advices to people dealing with narcissists on a daily basis like their family, friends, and coworkers?

SV: Make sure you have no further contact with them: resign your job, divorce your narcissistic husband, avoid your narcissist "friends" and children.

If you absolutely must remain in touch with narcissists: never criticize them and always offer gratuitous admiration and adulation (known as "narcissistic supply".)

2) You claim that Barrack Obama may be a narcissist.

SV: I published an article titled "Barack Obama: Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic" in July 2008, before Obama became President. It created a storm of radio interviews, follow-up essays, and articles in the right-wing conservative American media, and an avalanche of internet postings and tweets that has yet to subside, 6 years later. I must have hit a raw nerve.

3) Our Government has put into law a psychological test only for newly employed teachers. Do you approve of it?

SV: Yes. All professionals who are in regular contact with children should be periodically subjected to rigorous psychological testing.

3.1 Do you think it will have any effects; what?

SV: If properly administered, in an honest and professional manner, with no corruption, nepotism and cronyism, it should weed out those whose psychological profile indicates that they could constitute a threat to children and those who lack the basic emotional equipment to deal with children.

3.2 Do you think there should be one for all aspiring politicians as a part of their candidacy?

SV: Absolutely. And the same goes for law enforcement, the judiciary, the military, and parents. The right to become a parent should be regulated and be subject to psychological evaluation.

3.3 For all current politicians?

SV: All politicians should submit themselves to an annual medical exam, including a psychological structured interview. The results should be published and debated. Politicians who suffer from certain mental health afflictions should be disqualified from serving in any public elected office.

Part two: Politics

6) What is the significance of political parties' statutes for the functioning and "political culture" of it's members?

SV: Nothing much. Statutes and platforms are dead letter. No one bothers to actually read them, let alone adhere to them. They line up trash cans minutes after the election is over.

6.1 Can you give us some examples?

SV: Yes. Compare Obama's platform in 2008-9 to his actual actions and accomplishments in government. Of 100 promises he made in the campaign trail, he kept 3. In most cases, he adopted decisions that diametrically contravened his most fervent public, written vows.

6.2 What is the significance of political parties' statutes for the country as a whole?

SV: The platforms of political parties are like advertising, or like business plans: they are never truthful and they are founded on wishful thinking, not on thorough analyses. Political party platforms are rarely actual, detailed plans of action. The main role of a political platform is to demonstrate to the electorate that the party in question has a brand which is clearly differentiated from the brands of other political parties and that the party has the brainpower and the cadre required to carry out the arduous and intellectually challenging task of governing.

Part three: Economy

7) Do you think that bitcoins created today will exist after 100 years? Why?

SV: The Industrial Revolution led to the centralization of tasks that used to be carried out within the family unit: education, food production, transportation, and the manufacture of clothing, for instance, were all relegated from the family to massive, faceless state-run or privately-owned institutions. The family was hollowed out and, devoid of functionality, collapsed. Modern technologies have reversed this trend and are returning many of these tasks to the hands of households and individuals: self-publishing, home schooling, the personal computer, and 3-D printing are four examples. Microcurrencies and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin are the wave of the future, but the monopolists of money, the central banks, are going to put up a fierce rearguard action to defend their monopoly. No one can stop the march of progress, though, and people and corporations and private issuers will shortly be printing their own media of exchange and competing in the marketplace for the trust of users.

8) Please see first: [sign in to see URL]

8.1 Do you agree with the conclusion of the study? Why?

SV: I never understood why scholars keep rediscovering America and reinventing the wheel, year after year. There is nothing new, let alone surprising in this study. The idea of "crowding out" (that governments unfairly compete with the private sector for scarce economic resources) is old hat.

Still, my (highly unorthodox, I must add) view is that the private sector destroys the very wealth that governments so laboriously create - not the other way around.
It is a maxim of current economic orthodoxy that governments compete with the private sector on a limited pool of savings. It is considered equally self-evident that the private sector is better, more competent, and more efficient at allocating scarce economic resources and thus at preventing waste. It is therefore thought economically sound to reduce the size of government - i.e., minimize its tax intake and its public borrowing - in order to free resources for the private sector to allocate productively and efficiently.

Yet, both dogmas are far from being universally applicable.

The assumption underlying the first conjecture is that government obligations and corporate lending are perfect substitutes. In other words, once deprived of treasury notes, bills, and bonds - a rational investor is expected to divert her savings to buying stocks or corporate bonds.

It is further anticipated that financial intermediaries - pension funds, banks, mutual funds - will tread similarly. If unable to invest the savings of their depositors in scarce risk-free - i.e., government - securities - they will likely alter their investment preferences and buy equity and debt issued by firms.

Yet, this is expressly untrue. Bond buyers and stock investors are two distinct crowds. Their risk aversion is different. Their investment preferences are disparate. Some of them - e.g., pension funds - are constrained by law as to the composition of their investment portfolios. Once government debt has turned scarce or expensive, bond investors tend to resort to cash. That cash - not equity or corporate debt - is the veritable substitute for risk-free securities is a basic tenet of modern investment portfolio theory.

Moreover, the "perfect substitute" hypothesis assumes the existence of efficient markets and frictionless transmission mechanisms. But this is a conveniently idealized picture which has little to do with grubby reality. Switching from one kind of investment to another incurs - often prohibitive - transaction costs. In many countries, financial intermediaries are dysfunctional or corrupt or both. They are unable to efficiently convert savings to investments - or are wary of doing so.

Furthermore, very few capital and financial markets are closed, self-contained, or self-sufficient units. Governments can and do borrow from foreigners. Most rich world countries - with the exception of Japan - tap "foreign people's money" for their public borrowing needs. When the US government borrows more, it crowds out the private sector in Japan - not in the USA.

It is universally agreed that governments have at least two critical economic roles. The first is to provide a "level playing field" for all economic players. It is supposed to foster competition, enforce the rule of law and, in particular, property rights, encourage free trade, avoid distorting fiscal incentives and disincentives, and so on. Its second role is to cope with market failures and the provision of public goods. It is expected to step in when markets fail to deliver goods and services, when asset bubbles inflate, or when economic resources are blatantly misallocated.

Yet, there is a third role. In our post-Keynesian world, it is a heresy. It flies in the face of the "Washington Consensus" propagated by the Bretton-Woods institutions and by development banks the world over. It is the government's obligation to foster growth.

In most countries of the world - definitely in Africa, the Middle East, the bulk of Latin America, central and eastern Europe, and central and east Asia - savings do not translate to investments, either in the form of corporate debt or in the form of corporate equity.

Encyclopedia of Narcissism and Psychopathy

Buy 16 books and video lectures on 3 DVDs about narcissists, psychopaths, and abusive relationships
Mar/21/2014, 5:44 am Link to this post  

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