Assorted links

by on December 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Worry about average tax rates.

2. What will you learn if you read every page of an issue of The Economist?

3. Are “lefties” the biggest exaggerators?

4. The long-term effects of the Tse-Tse fly, and short NYT interview with me about reading.

5. Vastu Shastra tips for your main door.  And here is one consultancy, MIE.

Dredd December 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

3. Are “lefties” the biggest exaggerators?

So far in the social science of Agnotology, the righties have the lead and look to be chump champs till the cows come in. Congrats are out of order however.

Rich Berger December 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm

2. That you’re not as smart as you think you are because you read The Economist?

Sam December 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Reading The Economist isn’t about reading The Economist.

Ray Lopez December 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

@#3: the absence of easy to domesticate animals in Africa has been noted by J. Diamond (I believe he mentioned the zebra is not like the horse, and cannot be domesticated–for one thing it bites). Re tse-tse fly: African scholars like John Iliffe have noted that this pest kept white men out of Africa longer than say out of South America, and hence delayed colonization of Africa, so it’s arguably a mixed bag (unless you think colonization is good). Further, domesticated animals made humans more disease prone (TB came from cattle) and weaker than the traditional African hunter-gatherer, and it’s harder than hunting too, though it did greatly increase population.

Roy December 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Africa has had a lot of cattle for a long time.

The tstse fly areas are pretty limited and its range grew considerably in the past few centuries as land use changed. For example in Kenya and Tanganyika its spread increased throughout the early phase of European colonization as both areas were cleared for farming, the spread of rinderpest destroyed pastoralism, and suppression of predatory groups like the Maasai increased both farming and population.

It is way too ommon to view SubSaharan African History as static and uniform, this is a big mistake.

Ray Lopez December 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Agreed, Africa had cattle since I believe 1000 BCE in most areas, But you have to admit the tse-tse fly does cut down on domesticated cattle,as the author makes the case in the paper. What really populated Africa was not cattle but the yam, at least in the Bantu speaking areas south of the equator.

Roy December 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Oh clearly, Africa’s disease history has been one if its defining aspects. I have always been fond of the theory that since we evolved in Africa over millions of years, Africa evolved with us, and the main reason for much of human progress is that we escaped the place and became an invasive species of less prepared environments?

Engineer Dad December 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm

“The absence of easy to domesticate animals in Africa has been noted by J. Diamond (I believe he mentioned the zebra is not like the horse, and cannot be domesticated–for one thing it bites)”

A domesticated wolf is a dog and a domesticated African wildcat is a house cat, yet, both wolves and wildcats will bite humans with little provocation.
Zebras were captured by Europeans and trained to pull circus wagons and perform circus stunts.

See http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675041973_Zebras_horses-performing-stunts_opening-of-circus_trainer-with-horses

Man has subtly manipulated the bloodlines of animals for generations to gain more direct control over his environment.

If you want to play with Jared Diamond in his mental sandbox, you should keep in mind you will look childish too.

Benny Lava December 14, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Circus trainers have tamed tigers too are they suitable for farm work? Why are there no tiger pets or tiger guards? Or for that matter if taming the zebra is so easy why aren’t they used to plow fields or raced on tracks or raised for meat on farms?

You look extremely childish and stupid to me.

mike December 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm

You are mistaking the breaking of a wild animal, which is what circus trainers do, with the cultivation of a naturally tame breed of tigers. The latter is what happened over centuries with modern day “tame” animals. With modern technology, tame tigers could be probably be bred relatively quickly except for the fact that they’re an endangered species and therefore such an experiment would be prohibited. And needless to say it’s not commercially viable either.

In other words, you’re arguing from ignorance.

mkt December 15, 2012 at 12:57 am

” With modern technology, tame tigers could be probably be bred relatively quickly”

That’s nice for us living in the 21st century, but how were human beings for the preceding 15 or 30 millenia supposed to domesticate tigers? Or zebras?

Even if we grant the claims that modern technology can result in the breeding of tame tigers and zebras, the fact remains that humans had over the course of 15 or 30 millenia (estimates vary) succeeded at domesticating dogs, and later sheep, cows, horses, etc. They did not succeed with the zebra or the tiger. For practical purposes (and for 30 millenia+), humans could not domesticate tigers or zebras. But they could domesticate cats and horses.

mike December 15, 2012 at 9:54 am

Are tigers and zebras the only two animals in Africa?

Careless December 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

How were they supposed to domesticate zebras? Pretty much like horses works. You think wild horses didn’t bite? I don’t mean feral horses, I mean wild horses. Aurochs and boars were two of the most dangerous game to hunt in the past, and we turned them into cattle and pigs.

I don’t know why you’re saying did not= could not. There are a lot of things that would have been domesticated if someone had a reason to. It’s obviously pretty easy to domesticate foxes, but humans didn’t. Why? Wolves made more sense and they had them first.

mike December 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm

re: Careless

Yes, the main problem these people are having is that they look at our currently domesticated animals and infer that the reason those animals were domesticated is because they were “domesticable” and the reason the corresponding African animals are not domesticated is because they were “undomesticable”. It’s like the old joke that America is more prosperous than Mexico because we took the parts with all the good roads… except they actually believe it.

Ricardo December 15, 2012 at 12:32 am

“Zebras were captured by Europeans and trained to pull circus wagons and perform circus stunts.”

You don’t appear to understand the difference between taming and domesticating an animal. The zebras you refer to were tamed (e.g. slightly less likely to visit death and destruction on their owners over time) but attempts at breeding zebras in captivity to yield kinder gentler off-spring have failed.

Engineer Dad December 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm

“but attempts at breeding zebras in captivity to yield kinder gentler off-spring have failed.”

If you referring to the Wikipedia entry on zebra domestication it is a jumble of contradictions with no references regarding attempts at breeding gentler zebras.

What would be required would be a domestication program similar to soviet scientist Dmitry Belyaev’s on Russian silver foxes, however, the result would probably not be recognized as a zebra by the press, and hence, proclaimed an utter failure.

Ricardo December 16, 2012 at 7:26 am

Um, no. You were the one who claimed that zebras could be domesticated, mistakenly cited cases where Europeans had tamed a few zebras from the wild as “evidence” of this claim, and then ridiculed Jared Diamond for claiming zebras could not be domesticated. The burden of proof is on you to cite a reputable source showing that zebras can or have been domesticated. And if you don’t have any citations on this subject, why not just back off and admit you have no business employing such an arrogant tone on a subject you evidently don’t know very much about?

Jonathan December 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Tyler is my reading hero, I will never catch up unfortunately.

prior_approval December 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm

‘If you can make your first $100 tax free but the 101st dollar is taxed at a marginal rate of 99% you’ll probably decide to earn $100 at most. ‘

Why? This logic makes absolutely no sense to me, at least when presented this way.

Again, very simplified – I work 8 hours, and am paid $100. I get a 5% raise or increase my billing rate by 5%, still working 8 hours a day, because the employer/client is requiring work from me that requires that much time.

Why would I not work 8 hours because of high taxes on income above 100 dollars? It isn’t as if an employer or a client is going to tolerate me working less than 8 hours, after all.

Unless I want to stamp my foot like a 3 year old and say it is unfair that somebody is taxing me. Or making me eat my vegetables – as noted, this is just a simple example of behavior and why anyone would be interested in it as an adult.

(And let’s not be fooled – marginal tax rates are pretty much a joke for a certain class of person – just ask a certain Trasury Dept. penalty paying, formerly unreported Swiss account holder with a really nice retirement package that apparently manages to avoid being taxed in any jurisdiction.)

Cliff December 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Your logic makes absolutely no sense to me. No employer or client will tolerate you working less than 8 hours? And why would you increase your billing rate by 5%, what would be the point? To squander your client’s money on government taxes so that you can have less work available in the future?

T. Shaw December 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

You should be overjoyed! The government lets you keep 1% of its money.

All things being equal, the $1 additional is the preferable option. But, if A needs to put out more effort, money, whatever, likely the 1% return turns “off” A, i.e., the additional effort, money, whatever is not applied.

Dan Weber December 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Apparently you go to work because you have to. Because . . . well, you have to.

Certainly not to get paid, which is the reason most people go to work.

Hey, I’ma cut everyone’s pay to $1 a day. They’ll still work because I won’t tolerate them not working.

T. Shaw December 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Brilliant!

chuck martel December 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I asked a Swedish industrialist that I guided on Alaskan moose hunts how he could afford to spend so much time away from his business sitting around a campfire and chasing Eskimo girls around the bars in Nome. He said that in Sweden the government takes half your income so everyone works half as hard. Of course, this was in the ’80s, so everything is all better now.

j r December 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

This story is automatically suspect. Most people say Alaskan Native or us another more derogatory term (although I don’t know if this was true in the ’80s). So that part I can overlook, but what wealthy Swedish man would go to Alaska to chase native women?

chuck martel December 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm

So what are you saying, that Eskimo girls aren’t attractive enough to entice a sophisticated European? The Spanish invaders of Mexico evidently found the local girls at least somewhat attractive, since their descendants now number in the millions. My half-Eskimo daughters better not read this or they might figure out some way to get an apology out of your racist body.

Benny Lava December 14, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Well you can’t argue with anecdotal evidence!

Dick King December 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

It’s rare to not be able to modulate your work effort, at least in upper-middle-class professional jobs. Perhaps this is not possible in a specific job, but workers can do it by choice of employer.

At my last job change, I had a clear choice between one company that had a reputation of paying well [and who had in fact made a lucrative offer] and who had a reputation of working its geeks hard, and other prospects. At then-current [mid 2011] marginal rates I chose the former. I’m doing that extra work that I would otherwise not have had to do. I’m being paid for it, and the economy is benefiting.

If a marginal tax rate of 99% or even 2/3 [including state taxes] had cut in at a level below the higher salary, I would likely have made a different decision.

-dk

JWatts December 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm

‘If you can make your first $100 tax free but the 101st dollar is taxed at a marginal rate of 99% you’ll probably decide to earn $100 at most. ‘

“Why? This logic makes absolutely no sense to me, at least when presented this way.”

I’m not sure what you would do. But in my case, I would immediately start negotiating for a company cell phone, car, more holiday’s, extra 99% taxed salary (or even 50% taxed salary).

Dan Weber December 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm

If you gain any personal use out of the company car (including driving from home to the office, and back) or the cell phone, you will be taxed on them, according to modern (last ~30 years) tax law.

mofo December 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

That has not been my experience. In any event, do you get taxed on more vacation time? If you are a contractor or consultant, you just stop working after you hit the max. Why would you bust your ass to make 1/100th of your normal rate?

Matt December 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I find the example baffling. Surely no one really thinks a 99% tax rate is a good idea. I mean, that’s just stealing, right?

Right?

Dick King December 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Well, Michael Moore is a person, and he did recently speak very approvingly about the 90% top marginal tax rates from the 1950′s…

-dk

Dick King December 15, 2012 at 2:17 pm

My reference is his movie, “Capitalism, a love story”.

-dk

Duracomm December 15, 2012 at 10:19 am

prior_approval,

You may decide to work for an additional hour and give 99% of what you earn to the government, rational people are not going to.

They are going to change their working hours and spend that hour with their family or doing things they like.

If a company told their workers that after seven hours of work you’ve made enough money so we are going to take 99% of your wages made during the last hour and “donate” it to our charitable foundation unions and team blue cheerleaders would be outraged at the very idea.

Somehow changing the word “donation” to “taxes” converts an outrage to a good idea strongly supported by unions and team blue cheerleaders.

Ashok Rao December 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

3. A run-of-the-mill liberal probably gets his daily news from, say, the New York Times. He doesn’t listen to Fox News or Rush, except on the Daily Show + Colbert, which select the most outrageous comments from Fox and company. Based on this, their opinion of liberals comes from a relatively respectable news source (the Times) while that of conservatives comes from a view clips of blowhard anchors.

Jack December 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

(2) To quote my freshman economics professor, Forget magazines and newspapers, read books instead! And to paraphrase Prof. Cowen, It’s OK to stop reading a book, move on to the next one (sunk costs are sunk, etc.)

I appreciate the work The Economist does, but I can’t think of anything significant I’ve learned reading it. (Ulaanbaatar the Capital of Mongolia? Learned it in grade school. Books, man, not weeklies.)

Ted Craig December 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I know an econ prof who says read newspapers, not books. The economy is too fluid.

8 December 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm

3. The comment section under the article confirms the findings.

JWatts December 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I’d like to think that most Liberal’s aren’t quite as ostrich like as the average Mother Jones commenter.

Adam December 14, 2012 at 6:38 pm

That was easily the best part of the whole article.

JRPtwo December 15, 2012 at 10:44 pm

For a sampling of depressing low quality comments, see the the nearly 2000 comments on Jennifer Rubin’s article on the fiscal cliff negotiations, “Boehner is trying, Obama is not.”
I’m so thankful for the high level of comments here.

chuck martel December 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Amen.

uffy December 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Group-focused moral concerns of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and physical/spiritual purity are all quite abstract concepts even if one has just taken a “test” to measure them and as such I don’t know that the findings in #3 are all that useful. Perhaps a similar study but with actual concrete policies would be of more use in understanding political differences.

But yes, it is easy to get the impression that everyday conservatives are literally Randian Objectivists when in reality a full 3/4 of them support a “public option” if the plan were run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, for example.

Jan December 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm

3. Are “lefties” the biggest exaggerators?

Yes, yes, oh my God they sooo are. It is inconceivable how much they exaggerate. They cannot have a serious, grown-up discussion about anything. They are toying with the very fabric of America. If what they propose goes ahead the consequences will be disastrous. They are playing a dangerous game!

These lefties blow everything out of proportion. They will probably have a totally unwarranted fit about gun rights after the shooting today and will threaten to take away hunting weapons and pistols needed to ensure middle class families’ property rights!

JWatts December 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Confirming the stereotype I see. ;)

jtf December 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Leibovitz’s piece just strikes me as a glorification of ignorance and provincialism.

David December 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

On Tyler’s reading: I’ve long been wondering how he affords it. Does he get the books for free? (As a history professor I get lots of textbooks sent to me for free.) Maybe he gets them from the library? GMU/Fairfax County must have an amazing–and amazingly up-to-date–collection.

Otherwise, it must cost thousands to read that much!

Ashok Rao December 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

If reading is a priority most Americans can afford to spend three to four thousand dollars a year to read, they spend more on clothes and accessories!

An acclaimed professor should have no problem whatsoever buying books. Though, if he travels abroad often, he might be able to get same-quality books very cheaply in, for example, India.

Careless December 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

He gets some of them free from publishers/authors looking for blurbs/reviews. No idea what portion he buys.

Nathan Goldblum December 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm

The joy of public libraries?

Floccina December 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Isn’t it the average average tax rates of wives that matters. Perhaps taxes should be individual.

Floccina December 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

#3 hasn’t it always been true that conservatives look at democrats as nice but misguided while democrats view conservatives as evil?

Ashok Rao December 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Not really. If you read Fox News comments threads, conservative blogs, or speeches by certain conservative comedians at Heritage you’re told that liberals are godless, evil, arafat-loving, family hating, sex fiends.

Engineer December 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Not really. If you read Fox News comments threads, conservative blogs,

Conservatives view liberals as dogmatic, shallow, innumerate, angry, arrogant, and partisan.

As for how the most liberal liberals view conservatives, the comments on the MoJo article say it all.

or speeches by certain conservative comedians at Heritage you’re told that liberals are godless, evil, arafat-loving, family hating, sex fiends.

So I guess you don’t appreciate Evan Sayet…. but he has an updated Allan Bloom- type of perspective that is worth hearing (or reading) once.

JWatts December 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm

“#3 hasn’t it always been true that conservatives look at democrats as nice but misguided while democrats view conservatives as evil”

I seldom see the actual use of the word evil, generally it’s some form of fascist, greedy, racist, sexist, heartless, stupid, ignorant, intolerant, etc.

The following comment comes to mind:
“they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Simon December 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm

How soon until Tyler calls gun control advocates to task for “mood affiliation”?

Jay December 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm

#3 is absolutely hilarious. Anyone want to bet if the exact same study with the exact same wording except for the fact that the results were flipped between liberals and conservatives Kevin Drum would write “One possibility is that the study is wrong.” or even bother reading the study?

I’m betting the ranch if the results were the reverse, Drum would have regurgitated the executive summary with the chart and he would have read no further into the study.

Urstoff December 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

Well people think much more critically about things they disagree with. At least, that’s what some psychological study said, but I didn’t bother to read it.

Willitts December 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

2. Diogenes has finally found an honest man in the District of Columbia.

I actually read all of the Economist, excluding the ads, because it’s length is perfect for the time I spend on the elliptical trainer, and it is published about as often as I use it.

mike December 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm

The Economist is a steady drumbeat of shallow dilletantism for people who are deathly afraid of a subject on which they have not formed an opinion coming up at a cocktail party.

axa December 15, 2012 at 3:43 am

#2: some people still read printed magazines and make a judgement based only in the printed version. nice try but we’re not on 1990.

Norman December 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

#4. That this job market candidate at Harvard could not bring herself to use “IQ” even once in the paper where it is most relevant, tells everything one needs to know about today’s academia.

Matt December 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Re: 3

One idea might be that if Conservatives are more communal in their values (I’m not sure they are, but stick with me), even if they have views of political orientation more consistent with reality, they might be more willing to amp up their own views to match the coalition they are supporting (or to oppose the enemy coalition).

On a similar note, it may be more important to have a realistic view of the coalition average when you have high conformity/binding values that require you to hew to an average (whereas people who are focused on the individual level can fantasize about some hated average X that they somehow never meet).

DocMerlin December 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Conservative groups are way in-group conforming than left wing groups, in my personal experience.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: