Assorted links

by on January 16, 2011 at 10:51 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. Virginia isn't the South any more.

2. Where people buy their hair.

3. Ezra considers issues of mandates and regulations (contra my earlier claim of "underreported").

4. Unemployment rates by profession.

5. Pecuniary externalities in Berlin lead to non-pecuniary externalities in Berlin: "…wealthy newcomers to districts like the now fashionable Prenzlauer Berg have been treated to an often weekly ritual of car torching."

6. Did the hard core left disappear from the blogosphere?  If so, why?  I believe this post is quite wrong but it is thoughtful and interesting and worth the read.

1 Peter January 16, 2011 at 7:15 am

If the wig makers are flexible as to the length of the hair required, there tragically is a vast amount of hair available close to home thanks to American women. God damn it.

2 Andrew January 16, 2011 at 7:20 am

"The good thing about giving regulators a lot of power and discretion going forward is that they don't have to use too much of it now."

What's the bad thing?

3 dave January 16, 2011 at 7:56 am

response to #6

I'm confused. It doesn't take much to start a blog. After all, you've typed this on your own blog. There should be no shortage of left wing blogs if there are enough people out there that believe in it. You don't need money or resources to start a blog.

I guess your problem is that pure left wing blogs aren't very popular. After all, if they were more popular then the blogs you listed then they would be driving the debate. They aren't popular though, not to many people enjoy reading them or agree with their opinions. That's your problem. You can't force people to start wanting to read socialist blogs. If they don't want to, they don't. You can hardly blame it on money and power when the cost of making a blog is zero and anyone with a computer can access it.

I read a lot of political blogs, they are easy to find. A google search, a link, etc. Maybe your views just aren't that popular.

4 Andrew January 16, 2011 at 8:19 am

I guess I'll do my part and leave Ezra alone since he's part of the vast neoliberal conspiracy. Or should I do my part and ridicule him? This is so complicated.

5 ben January 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

i don't think ezra really gets to the core of the issue which is that the mandates attempt to privilege some consumers of insurance over other consumers by mandating that certain things have to be covered. i don't think this is so much insurers vs consumers but maybe more consumers vs other consumers. though, maybe i'm wrong and insurance companies have in the past have been able to make supernormal profits by screwing over their customers.

6 dave January 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

As for the general leftist bloggers turning all "soft", what did you expect. People express themselves through voting. Voting against GWB leave one open to support a very wide variety of policies. Voting for Obama means supporting his policies. And his policies are centrist policies. These people don't want to see him "fail" and they don't want to tell people not to support him. So they twist and turn themselves and give up principals to be on the "winning team". Do you not think the same thing doesn't happen on the right? Do you think libertarians like voting for a war monger corporatist president? In a two party system there is little room for nuance because there is no way for an individual to express nuance since their only method of expression is voting for one of two people.

7 Gary January 16, 2011 at 8:48 am

#6 "the kind of confidence that can only come from having money you didn't earn"

8 Laserlight January 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

Rather than "Virginia isn't the South any more", it would be more accurate to say "Part of Northern Virginia isn't the South any more". I sometimes suspect that NoVa people don't realize this, but there's rather more to Virginia than NoVa.

(In my opinion, Norfolk/Virginia Beach isn't the South either; it's the Navy).

9 Andrew January 16, 2011 at 10:58 am
10 Dan of the Fjord January 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

Dave,

For JDs its about level of pay versus total debt.

11 Dan of the Fjord January 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

FE: Jacobite Tory Bloggers

The only one I have come across is Mencius Moldbug. If there are others, let us know.

12 Peter January 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

About the unemployment by profession: I'm in law school so I wanted to check out what the numbers looked like. I expected something really dire given all the histrionic stories of droves of JDs roaming around unable to work. But the numbers are actually really quite good. What gives with all the hand-wringing. It looks like the doom and gloom just isn't supported by the numbers. Or am I missing something I should be worries about?

See the recent New York Times article, Is Law School a Losing Game?

13 anonymous January 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

6 — The hardcore left is mostly gainfully employed in universities, and consequently nearly all of their publishing efforts are channeled exclusively towards careerist advancement within academia.

However, as Noam Chomsky once pointed out, very little of this prodigious output is accessible or remotely relevant to anyone whose career does not depend on claiming to understand it. The result is a self-quarantined echo chamber. If a vast right-wing conspiracy had undertaken to neuter and spay the hard left, they could not have devised a more perfect system.

After an "emperor has no clothes" dismissal of such academic publications, Chomsky concludes:

The left intellectuals who 60 years ago would have been teaching in working class schools, writing [popularizing] books […], participating in and speaking for popular organizations, etc., are now largely disengaged from such activities […] There's a huge gap that once was at least partially filled by left intellectuals willing to engage with the general public and their problems.

He doesn't mention blogs only because there weren't any in 1995, when this was written.

The lamest part is where the original poster admits that he once had the opportunity to reach a much wider audience and get paid to do so, but turned it down for "fear that my blogging will come back to ruin my career in the academy". He then whines that "I reserve the right to want more from left-wing blogging and punditry than I am capable of providing myself."

So much for Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world".

14 dirk January 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm

"Conservatives in America tell you precisely what they want."

Not true. One thing Sailer is right about is that Republicans can't come out and say they don't like a group because of its race, they have to come up with other reasons for say, being against Mexican immigration without saying "it's because they're Mexican."

They can say that in the blogosphere, but not even on AM radio will they say that.

"Leftists can usually only get elected by lying about what they would like to do."

All people running for office are lying cocksuckers. Ideology has nothing to do with it.

The radical right is much more a part of the conversation in the blogosphere, for whatever reason. Moldbug isn't dismissed out of hand merely because he is against democracy and doesn't think history has treated the Nazis fairly. Outright socialist, however, are dismissed out of hand if they say they are outright socialists.

15 Afshin January 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I'm frankly disappointed in Tyler's annotation that Freddie's post is "quite wrong" without taking the time to write out any explanation. I respect his posts and deeply admire his ability to concisely make his opinions clear. But at times I feel the sense of authority that one develops over time with writing makes it difficult to see that writing off other people's posts the way Tyler has undermines the fruitful exchange of ideas. All that we're left with is the curiosity in why Tyler thinks Freddie's post is "quite wrong" with the qualification that he did find Freddie's post interesting. It's a subtle point but it's something that disappoints me, because it's like a pat on the back for good effort while being told that such writing is not ready for discussion at the big boy table.

Although, the discussion in the comments have taken up this void and fleshed out some disagreement. But it's not hard to see that Freddie had to come in and defend himself by repeating his points. Yet, as an aside, I felt that he succumbed to the same criticism he voiced where he conciliated to the point that people don't have the opportunity to make a nuanced point in a two-party system. This point is discouraging as it is a self-defeating argument; it's the argument that makes the problem not within us, but in the system. So while we continue to knock ourselves as leftists for understanding the way the world works on a more principled perspective and pointing out the neglect in the current system, the right continues to hammer away and driving out such criticisms as anti-American or anti-capitalistic so they can continue to promulgate anti-empirical ideas as solutions in order to disregard the failures such ideas have caused in the past.

If one wishes to vote for a war monger corporatist then one can't feel sorry for how difficult that decision was. It's unbecoming for a nation built on rational discourse. If one's fear of being wrong is motivated by the desire to be on the "winning team" thus placing limits on hearing the other side in an honest way then the problem is not with the system but in the priorities one has set for themselves by placing himself before his nation. If one wishes to have such a set of priorities then for that person it isn't a problem. But let's be honest here, it's the winning motive then that has stunted rational discourse at all levels, from television to the op-eds in newspapers to the blogosphere. And it's the point that I took from reading Freddie's post that with all this discussion on civil discourse or on any other political issue. There's is no round circle table on any level of media. There was hope that the blogosphere would be that round table, but it too has been adversely affected by the "careerist attitude" which has become the sacred cow of D.C. and the business culture that has D.C. within its grasp.

The alternative to my mind is a willingness to understand the failures of both sides. David Brooks on MTP today discussed the ramifications of mental health de-institutionalization under the Reagan era. And this, I'm sad to say, was the first time I heard a conservative criticize any of Reagan's social policy. He didn't expand on it much, but the implicit argument was there (yet this time under a more secure society rather than a personal well-being perspective) that there is a void for social welfare institutions to fill. This was an example to the start of nuanced point-making that hasn't had any airtime for the past thirty years.

16 Spock January 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm

So the genuine socialist left doesn't exist, what's the big deal? There aren't any Feudal Moncarchist bloggers either. We should be praising the death of worthless ideologies, not wondering where they all went.

The end of socialism during the second half of the 20th century as an ideology that is taken seriously was probably the single greatest thing that happened then when it comes to global welfare.

Reading that post made me quite happy.

17 Sebastian H January 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Ezra says something frighteningly naive at the end of that piece: "The good thing about giving regulators a lot of power and discretion going forward is that they don't have to use too much of it now."

Yikes.

18 RR January 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

@ Hieronymous Goat

Considering the end result , the Professors who dominate must be failures , since very little of their ideology , that you imply , seems to be surviving in the minds of the recipents.

19 Gabriel E January 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I believe it's said as: Virginia ain't the south no more.

20 Anthony January 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

There are "leftist" blogs, if by "leftist", the article's author means "anti-market". The problem is that anyone with any awareness of history knows just how disastrously bad an idea it is to remove most economic activity from the market and to place it under the control of the state (or some sub-state political collective or syndicate). Thus the only audience for "leftist" blogs is the seriously ignorant or the seriously delusional; neither of which will provide an interesting community of commenters or linkbacks, which is what is needed for a blog to break into the big time.

Most variations on the "far right" don't have such a uniformly disastrous track record, and thus will occasionally bring up arguments which are worth engaging with by people within the "respectable" consensus. There are flat-out nazi blogs, but only people on the far right bother to engage with the nazis, mainly to point out to their other readers that they themselves aren't nazis. (Because, really, the actual nazis don't have anything interesting to say, either, except coincidentally.)

21 Careless January 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm

The comments in response to Freddie's post aren't addressing what Freddie's saying. It's like high school with students just mouthing off b.s. just to get participation points. Please read his post if you're going to address it, otherwise you're making yourself look like a fool.

To save everyone the trouble, since the author had so much trouble doing it the first time around, I'll quote his fourth update, which is quite clear

"what I think is lacking is a dedicated pro-labor union presence online. I take it that such a presence would have it's own extremes, one of which would be genuinely socialist."

So are there any strongly irrational pro-labor union blog sites out there that fit his desires?

22 Careless January 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm

If the wig makers are flexible as to the length of the hair required, there tragically is a vast amount of hair available close to home thanks to American women. God damn it.

A) this is such a strange sexual fetish to push on an economics blog, B) it's a very strange fetish to push anywhere when it's something you can probably arrange to match your desires in your personal life.

But seriously, if you get dumped because you asked a girlfriend to grow some pubic hair, I'd like to hear that it actually happened

23 cassander January 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Washington, DC: A city of northern charm and southern efficiency.

24 Oreg January 17, 2011 at 1:02 am

#3: If basic coverage is not standardized down to the details it is very difficult (read: impossible) for an average customer to compare prices. This lack of market transparency leads to market inefficiencies and higher prices. Ezra fears for "innovation in insurance design". Basic coverage is a commodity. Proper competition on prices is much more important for commodities than innovation. There is enough space for innovation in gold-plated plans on top of basic coverage.

This is exactly how Switzerland does it: Tightly regulated basic coverage for which insurers compete on price, supplemented with largely unregulated extra plans. That works very well.

25 MD January 17, 2011 at 4:51 am

Careless: So are there any strongly irrational pro-labor union blog sites out there that fit his desires?

Afshin: Why irrational? Is anything that discusses pro-labor irrational? This is so disconcerting.

Work on your humor sensors. He's using some hyperbole about Freddie's request that the blog be "extreme" for sarcastic effect.

26 jimi January 17, 2011 at 10:26 am

#1 I think you meant to type "Virginia ain't in the South no more."

27 Afshin January 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

MD, got it. Thanks for the heads up. Blogs are messy.

28 TGGP January 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Mencius Moldbug is more marginal than Chomsky and Zizek. He is a blogger, after all.

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