Assorted links

by on April 25, 2013 at 12:17 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The culture that is manga Japan.

2. One look at why income inequality is growing.

3. Overview of the current economic crisis in Slovenia.

4. I met Bush once and also thought he was very smart.  No need to waste comments space with banal observations about job involvement, morality, or Woodrow Wilson.

5. Markets in everything, Rhode Island breast milk jewelry edition, I am not sure if I believe this related product.

6. How much of the health care cost slowdown is due to the slowing economy?

7. Portland has a vegan strip club.

8. The wisdom of Scott Sumner, on the UK.

Go Kings, Go! April 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm

#4 Is comment space capable of being wasted?

#2 Is income equality measured on an after tax basis? Shouldn’t it?

john personna April 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

#4 Is there a non-banal explanation for the performance gap? When the library opening spin cycle is “but he was smart, honest” … maybe we should ask if that’s the best you’ve got. (could he be smart *and* a zero marginal product worker?)

Rich Berger April 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Gotta be better than the empty suit we have there now. Obama is not as smart as he is reputed to be and is undisciplined, lazy, arrogant.

Commenterlein April 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Congratulations on completely missing the point of Hennessey’s piece.

Rich Berger April 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Thanks. Coming from you, I’m sure that means a lot.

john personna April 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I can applaud some Bush actions (Marine Protected Areas) and agree with some policies (desire to reduce farm aid, to create a realistic guest worker program), without getting the play for dumb things like privatized SS or Iraq. Those were immoderate at the least, not the policies of a smart guy, unless he was a lazy one pandering. On the other hand I feel like I can connect the dots more with Obama. His policies are moderate and do not pander to the extreme wing of his party. And yes, an Obamacare that was Romenycare is an example of that moderation.

bjssp April 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I don’t think Bush was stupid, just intellectually incurious.

Anyway, Bush expanded farm aid, or were you referring to something on an international level?

Andrew' April 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Fixing healthcare is going to save the economy any minute now.

dearieme April 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Saying that W is more intelligent than Kerry is doubtless true but sets the bar pretty low. Anyway, whether he was intelligent or not (and I’m perfectly prepared to believe that the media were hopelessly biased on this point) his big decision on Iraq was dreadful.

Al April 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Yeah, creating a large marine reserve in the Pacific was one of the few things I can applaud about Bush’s presidency. I also applaud his support for health savings accounts.

But beyond that, oh man, the Iraq war: it’s a tough to believe in, even though Saddam was a true monster and his regime a monstrosity. So many US soldiers, so many Iraqi people suffered and died because of that decision. And it was a lot harder than Bush thought it would be. Smart people told him so, too. But he disagreed. Who turned out to be right on that one?

john personna April 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm

bjssp – my recollection was that GWB asked for low income cut-offs for assistance, that farmers making more than X would not be eligible, but that Congress would not accept and moved the bar higher. It was one of those times (like immigration) where Bush had the right position, in opposition to many inside and outside his party.

john personna April 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm

A funny comment, Andrew’. I don’t suppose you buy health insurance because you are paid a positive cash return. You do it to project against illness and loss. A national health care plan is also to protect against illness and loss, and is not directly a profit center. Certainly though a good fraction of GDP is now in health care. Come to think of it, I had about 15 years earnings in health care.

So Much for Subtlety April 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I am not sure people should be so quick to judge the Iraq War. It turned out fairly awful, but did George W make a bad decision to launch it? His plan, it seems, was to spread democracy across the Middle East. He failed to do it in his own term because they got bogged down in Iraq, but he was clearly right in that Arabs did want an end to the old order.

Where he went wrong was mostly the wrong of smart people, not the wrong of dumb people. He shared the modern multicultural Leftist assumption that we are all the same underneath and so of course Arabs wanted democracy too. No one predicted that the Iraqis would turn on each other’s knee caps with power drills. No one. Some Leftists were nostalgic for Vietnam, but they failed to see that Iraqis hated each other a lot more than they hated the Americans. The dumb people were saying what conservatives usually say – bigoted things like the Arabs are not yet ready for democracy because they are not, you know, White Christians. They need a firm hand to keep them in line. Views now common on the Left but unheard there before 9-11.

As it turned out, the War in Iraq was not that much of a disaster either. It has, I think, killed Islamism. It was a popular and growing ideology before 9-11. It still has the momentum to bring it to power in places like Egypt and probably Syria. But I think its day is done. People saw what it meant in Iraq and they decided they did not like it. It had to be tried before people could see if they wanted it.

derek April 26, 2013 at 1:08 am

If I had my druthers what happened in Boston would be happening in Fallujah or somewhere similar. Wars like Iraq are awful until you consider the counterfactual. There are not good alternatives, just bad and really bad.

john personna April 26, 2013 at 10:19 am

So Much for Subtlety – one of the themes we’ve heard from insiders was that GBW thought a market economy, and therefore a market democracy, was a natural state for humanity, and that the Iraqis (and of course Afghans) would “revert” to it without problem. The problems with this were first that when you grant “self determination” on another people, it isn’t “your determination.” Second, not every people are as shaped by Adam Smith. They may choose differently.

Ashok Rao April 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Only snarky comment I’ll make of (4) is that we should entertain the possibility where Hennessy is right that GWB is smarter than most MBAs. And still not all that smart. (I actually do think GW is a very smart man, John Gaddis – a Pulitzer-winning Yale historian – has written about Bush’s erudition and voracious reading habits).

On (7), I can’t wait for someone to open a paleolithic strip club. Unlike this one, the food might actually be better than the girls.

Really Curious April 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Read Greenspan’s book on how smart he thought Bush was

J1 April 25, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I wouldn’t want to see any of the vegan chicks I know naked.

Ashok Rao April 26, 2013 at 9:12 am

We disagree on that, but of course I don’t think either of our observations are significant.

Now, what is (probably) significant is that given two random Americans, one vegan and the other not, the former would be a safer choice.

joe April 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Keith Hennessey is happy to say that Bush is smarter than most of his MBA students. He is notably silent on whether Bush is smarter than Keith Hennessey.

prior_approval April 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm

So, chess as a metaphor for income inequality? Really?

Or is 2. not exactly the intended link?

Because truly, the offspring of Bill and Melinda Gates are going to be poster children of why extreme wealth has nothing to do with chess abilities.

And a Mongolian grandmaster is equally likely to be a poster child for why playing chess is not a road to vast riches.

Though admittedly, Kasparov does show how opposing a system also marked with extreme inequality of wealth, without any consideration chess talent, is dangerous work – and unlikely to be a road to riches either. Though his being beaten at the Pussy Riot trial had nothing to do with pawns or kings.

Bruce Cleaver April 25, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I too was a little puzzled, as the tie-in from youth chess to income inequality is oblique.

Perhaps he is meaning that hard work pays off, and even though the teacher practically hands them the path to success, most cannot be bothered to do the work. The 10,000 hours to mastery argument. It was rather distressing to hear her lament.

celestus April 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I think that what is spotlighted is how valuable it is to have the co-incidence of
- parental involvement/whip cracking (which is of course more likely when a child has multiple parents)
- being a two marshmallow eater (which is of course partly inherited, both through genetics and environment), and
- financial resources

Upper middle class children are more likely to have all three, and will tend to beat lower middle class children at chess, academics, starting companies…

prior_approval April 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm

‘Perhaps he is meaning that hard work pays off’

Though in the case of Bush, it seems that those who think he is intelligent defend him by pointing to his being lazy.

So, Bush is an example of how income inequality is irrelevant when one is already ensconced in the very upper class? Or was that too oblique?

Brian Donohue April 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm

At the outset, the teacher dreams of playing hooky and going to the beach on a daily basis. At the end, she tells us that she worries about being so obsessed with work. In between is the story of how she is ineffective in her job.

prior_approval April 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

‘No need to waste comments space with banal observations about job involvement, morality, or Woodrow Wilson.’

And here I was, thinking there was no reason to waste space talking about Bush’s intelligence.

Best satire site on the web, truly.

john chamberlin April 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm

where I work we call this sort of pronouncement from management, “autospoofia” ; that is, one could not craft such a piece as delberate satire/parody. Rather, ‘res ipse loquitur’.

Bruce Cleaver April 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Well said. It just had to be coming from p_a too, didn’t it?

Corner Cubicle April 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

The idea of Bush being intelligent doesn’t seem problematic from a “multiple intelligences” point of view.

I mean he seems to be an effective campaigner and good at obtaining political advantage in the short term. His capabilities as to long term strategy don’t seem so strong in hindsight though.

lords of lies April 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm

A lot of smart people believe in the fantasy of human fungibility. Bush’s belief in it is thus not proof that he is dumb.

Boris April 25, 2013 at 12:58 pm

#4 – the question of intelligence is a much less interesting one than that of leadership.

A president can hire intelligence – that’s what people like Keith Hennessey are for. He can’t do the same for leadership.

prior_approval April 25, 2013 at 2:28 pm

‘the question of intelligence is a much less interesting one than that of leadership’

Which is why both in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Bush’s leadership abilities were touted so highly. Right?

‘A president can hire intelligence’

Or better, one can elect an actor to play the role of president – and let’s be honest, which president do today’s Republicans still hold in the highest of esteem? And no joke – Reagan was the perfect person to bring the Cold War to its conclusion, and he went out big, in a way that all actors can envy – ‘General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ – in 1987. Two years later, it happened, of course. Which was only 24 years ago, actually. Are we still talking about Bush’s actions in the same glowing terms?

TMC April 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Given the results in 2008 and 2012, neither intelligence nor leadership were on anyone’s mind.

Andrew' April 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

It will not just be a repository for books, some of which Bush has read. The Bush Library will house both books and…both newspapers.

collin April 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm

#6 How much was the 77% of recession slowdown in helath expenses because of lowering birth rates. A lot of money is spent with child birth and this would short term lower medical expense per person.

Also, I suspect krugman’s question on why wages have not decreased with the Lesser Depression could be answered that health benefits is where the workers lost ‘income’

Ed April 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm

GW Bush’s problem was probably laziness (both intellectual and physical) instead of lack of intelligence.

Similar with an earlier Texan president, the “bads” we got from the Bush White House were on things where there is a near consensus in Washington (what Steve Sailer calls the “invade the world, invite the world” agenda) and the only one that might have been different under another leading national figure was the Iraq War. So the claims about him being some sort of uniquely bad president never held much substance. I don’t know about the “goods”, but I’m willing to be surprised as we get farther away from that period and gain more perspective.

TMC April 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm

From the article he didn’t seem to be intellectually lazy at all, and he was pretty famous for being very physically active. Probably the most physically fit president ever. I’ll mostly agree with your second paragraph.

Bruce B April 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

As implied in the link in #4, regardless of his smarts, Bush would still be dependent on his advisors for much of his information (GIGO) and would be constrained by his world-view.

I looked at Mr Hennessy’s “About” page, particularly the “About my work in the White House” section, where he appears to have left out the bullet point that he helped design, enact, and implement policies that would ensure we would run deficits during relatively good economic times because deficits only matter when the other party is in power.

Ray Lopez April 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm

@#4 – From the tone of the article–complete with pregnant pauses–it seems that Hennessy loves drama in the classroom. It was probably very awkward to hear him say that Bush was smarter than everybody in the room (which is factually impossible to verify) and for Hennessy not to crack a joke.

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=345494 –> thread shows Jimmy Carter had an IQ of 176 (higher than Einstein’s 135) and that G.W. Bush was not retarded (why is that a question that needs to be asked, lol?)

Cliff April 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm

It certainly does not show that Jimmy Carter had an IQ of 176. It says that someone else (nameless) at some point said he had an IQ as high as 176. There are probably under 1,000 people in the country with an IQ that high.

aaron April 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

Bush’s IQ is estimated in the 130s. Obama at 120.

TMC April 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Yes, and they worked hard to pump up his reputation as a smart guy. He was called a nuclear engineer because he worked on a nuclear sub, but only has a science undergrad degree.

Mark Thorson April 26, 2013 at 12:02 am

If you run the engine on a nuclear submarine, you are indeed a nuclear engineer.

RBL April 26, 2013 at 8:39 am

Jimmy Carter never served on a nuclear sub. He was an Engineering Officer on a diesel sub, and later enrolled in the Navy reactor training. He was detailed for a while in the hazardous cleanup of a Canadian reactor meltdown, but never completed the nuclear program. His father’s death obliged him to return to the family farm.

Ashok Rao April 25, 2013 at 1:58 pm

It’s difficult to deduce that Keynesians are wrong just by Sumner’s presentation. Labor market indicators are really, really murky. We’re talking about an economy with significant concentration of human capital and a falling wage share of GDP. As we know, the recovery has been highly uneven and most growth has gone to the top few. This means the output gap can fall substantially without any proportional movement in unemployment.

On the flip side, Simon Wren Lewis’ graph (http://ashokarao.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/uk-prod-boe1.jpg) indicates a fall in AS. We can explain lack of serious cost-push inflation if there is a continued shortfall in nominal expenditures (AD). This means fiscal expansion isn’t all too strong when normalizing for the business cycle.

And perhaps above all, “The fact is, it doesn’t matter whether the cyclicly-adjusted deficit is high or low. If it’s low, we look at the record high unemployment bad growth and realize more stimulus is needed. If it’s high, we realize whatever we’ve done has worked, but we need more to decrease unemployment.” Is this “almost impossible to refute”, yes. But that doesn’t make it a bad argument ipso facto. Natural selection’s also a beast to refute (you need to be irrational and/or religious).

My point isn’t that Keynesian policy is nearly as certain as natural selection. In fact, it’s theoretically a lot easier to disprove as well. But we don’t have lab conditions.

More here: http://ashokarao.com/2013/04/25/can-keynesians-explain-britain/

Rich Berger April 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Can anybody give evidence that Obama is “smart”?

JWatts April 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

It’s pretty obvious that Obama is smart. It’s also pretty obvious that Bush was smart.

Most people can’t disconnect their mood affiliation from their world view well enough to provide a reasonable base line. And frankly, it seems that ‘smart’ people are worse at it than others. They can get away with unreasonable views far easier than others, because they’re better at defending their rationalizations.

Rich Berger April 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Then it should be easy to give an example demonstrating his intelligence. I think he talks in catch-phrases, and avoids venues where he might be questioned or challenged. His handlers have basically sealed off his school records. I think his is a Potemkin intelligence.

msgkings April 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

There’s the problem…”I think he….”

It’s pretty obvious that no matter the ‘evidence’, you will think Obama is awful on every metric. That’s the mood affiliation JWatts referenced.

We get it, Rich. We get it all day from Fox News too.

Rich Berger April 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Couldn’t come up with anything, eh?

msgkings April 25, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Neither could you, Rich, for anyone you choose to champion as intelligent. No need to try, I already know who you do and don’t think is intelligent. See Roger Sweeny’s comment below, he gets it.

Rich Berger April 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm

You can’t come up with anything because you don’t have any defense of Obama. So you sidestep the question.

Bush was a (failed) oil man. He was president of the Texas Rangers. He was governor of Texas. Obama isn’t qualified to be the mayor of Wasilla. He was a failure as a “community organizer”.

msgkings April 25, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Talk about a sidestep…where on that list is anything relating to Bush’s intelligence? That’s a resume, and one that a person of average intelligence could amass as easily as a smart person could.

Steven Hawking isn’t qualified to be mayor of Wasilla either but he’s no dummy.

No, you’re just ignoring the common sense truth (both Bush and Obama are of above average intelligence) to go to Fox talking points. Again, we get it, Obama sucks, so he can’t possibly be smart.

MSG125 April 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Well, Obama does seem to have some pretty legit academic accomplishments. They don’t just let anybody be in charge of HLR nor hand out faculty positions at UChicago Law School.

J1 April 25, 2013 at 10:13 pm

We really need some sort of Godwin’s Law variant about the mention of Fox News.

So Much for Subtlety April 25, 2013 at 11:23 pm

MSG125 – Well, Obama does seem to have some pretty legit academic accomplishments. They don’t just let anybody be in charge of HLR nor hand out faculty positions at UChicago Law School.

But Affirmative Action poisons the pool. They don’t just let any White guy or any Asian do so. But Obama is neither. This may be unfair, but it exists. You cannot use Obama’s limited accomplishments in the part of the economy shaped by Affirmative Action to argue for his intelligence.

The fact is there is little evidence for his intelligence. He refuses to do what would settle the issue and release his transcripts. That must create a presupposition there is something to hide. Nor has he said or done anything that would indicate a particularly keen intelligence. Bill Clinton for instance completely changed the Democratic Party by putting forward a competently thought out philosophical position. Obama? Not so much. His speeches are banal. His ideas lackluster. His policies mostly the work of others. It would be hard to think of “an Obama doctrine” on anything.

Given that he may not be stupid. But the starting position must be that the circumstance evidence all says he isn’t. Nothing suggests he is. So we should assume he isn’t.

maguro April 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I would say that Obama’s probably about as smart as the average liberal politician. He articulates the liberal conventional wisdom reasonably well, but I’m not aware of anything he’s said or done that indicates he’s extraordinarily intelligent.

Therapsid April 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

A lame comment considering that the average liberal or conservative politician is vastly more intelligent than the average American.

maguro April 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

It’s only “lame” if you read it as derogatory rather than descriptive. Sure, successful politicians are smarter than the average bear, but the gushing about Obama’s intelligence goes way beyond that. I’m not saying he’s dumb, but I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that he’s a super-brilliant playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers kind of guy, either.

js April 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm

On Bush – if he would be able to get high grades at Stanford GSB without working, why was he averaging a C at Yale? I’m interested to hear if there’s a reasonable explanation here…

Tummler April 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Maybe because he didn’t give a shit about grades?

shecky April 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

A possibly critical failing that carried on far too long into his political life.

I can’t believe he was ever tagged as a low intelligence person. However at the end of the day, a person plagued by making monumentally dumb decisions has to be judged for better or worse as plenty dumb. Without dispute, remarkably unwise.

bellisaurius April 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Perhaps you need an inflation calculator to compare circa 1960 to modern day?

Michael Nielsen April 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm

“No banal observations” is the best short blog comment policy I’ve heard.

Jeff April 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I assume the Bush Library will house “My Pet Goat”

TMC April 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Only in the interest of being non-partisan.

BrentR April 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Maybe he was getting C’s at Yale because he was an immature, hard partying coke head that wasn’t really interested in learning at that time.

Pizza Man April 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Why is it necessary to have seperate girls and boys tournaments in chess? This is an honest question.

Jamie_NYC April 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Because best women are not in the same league as the best men when it comes to chess. The exceptions used to be the Polgar sisters – they have been trained for years by their parents to overcome this obstacle (to become very strong chess players able to compete with men) – for example, they avoided playing other women, etc.

DW April 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

Your comment suggests that the causal arrow points the other way – i.e. the best women are not in the same league as the best men because there are separate girls are boys tournaments in chess. So the answer might be that it is not necessary, it’s just how tournaments have been organized in the past.

Michael Smith April 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School would be mighty impressive for an intellect slouch. His temperament and analytical approach to policy decisions could also be interpreted as marks of a trained mind. Whether one disagrees with his decisions, as Mr. Hennessy pointed out in his article, is an entirely separate issue.

Michael Smith April 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School would be mighty impressive for an intellectual slouch. His temperament and analytical approach to policy decisions could also be interpreted as marks of a trained mind. Whether one disagrees with his decisions, as Mr. Hennessy pointed out in his article, is an entirely separate issue.

JSIS April 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm

#4 storytime ? When and in what context ? How does he compare to say Bill Gates

Bob Knaus April 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I said to my progressive friends many times “Bush is not unintelligent, he is anti-intellectual. There is a difference.” I don’t think I changed many worldviews. It does remain true that being anti-intellectual is a potential winning strategy for a politician.

Millian April 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Iraq. Katrina. Houses. Banks. There comes a point at which it doesn’t particularly matter whether you’re not smart or a smart guy who makes perpetually dumb decisions.

maguro April 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Haha, yes. Houses and banks. Because all the genius liberals were just clamoring to crack down on subprime lending and prevent the housing bubble, but the dummy Bush was able to outsmart them. Sure.

Ricardo April 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Well, judging by the infamous “credit snob” series from this blog in 2007 (see here and here), Robert Reich and Noriel Roubini were two such “genius liberals.” But it isn’t much trouble to concede that not “all” of them were clamoring.

maguro April 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Uh, how about coming up with some Dem politicians who wanted to tighten lending standards? It’s nice that some lefty academic economists had qualms about the housing insanity, but the liberals with votes in Congress – the ones who count – were overwhelmingly in favor of looser lending standards.

By the way, the Obama administration is still going after banks that don’t make enougj risky loans to poor minorities.

Roger Sweeny April 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Both Bush and Obama are extremely bright. You don’t get to be president otherwise.

However, they both have blinders and suffer from terrible hubris: the idea that if the cause is good, me and my people have the means to do it. So, the invasion to create a peaceful and democratic Iraq, and a thousand page slapped together law to bring health care to every citizen.

msgkings April 25, 2013 at 5:35 pm

This.

dearieme April 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm

“Both Bush and Obama are extremely bright. You don’t get to be president otherwise.” That’s an interesting dogma.

No president since Hoover, who was extremely bright, seems to me to have been terribly bright. And poor old Hoover proved to be not much cop.

msgkings April 25, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Nixon and Carter always struck me as pretty smart. maybe being too smart is a hindrance in that job.

Ricardo April 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Teddy Roosevelt was a published scientist. Yet the point about anti-intellectualism in politics is correct. As Richard Hofstadter pointed out in “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life”, TR’s carefully crafted public image as a macho cowboy rough-rider all makes perfect sense once you realize he had to convince voters that, despite being a Harvard-educated intellectual and a bookworm, he was not an introvert or a sissy.

Intelligence is not a hindrance to being President. However, being perceived as highly intelligent may be a hindrance to getting elected.

JWatts April 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

Intelligence is not a hindrance to being President. However, being perceived as highly intelligent may be a hindrance to getting elected.

I think this is probably wrong. Being perceived as effete is a hindrance in winning elections and most intellectuals come across that way.

Anon. April 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm

What selection mechanism do you believe sorts out the unintelligent presidential candidates? Because it sure as hell isn’t the voters.

anonymous around the block April 25, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Inspiring boredom in those who consider themselves the “powers behind the throne” is something that
politicians who are less than one standard deviation more intelligent than the general public
often do, to their detriment. This is analagous to the sorting mechanism whereby, in small towns,
girls who are less than one standard deviation more attractive than the others rarely wound up marrying the
sons in the richest family in those towns.

whatsthat April 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Osama bin Laden was also smart.

So?

Douglas Knight April 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Many people who have worked with Bush have commented on his intelligence. Contrary to Hennessey’s confidence, many of them said he was not very smart. But how many said he was smart and how many have said he was dumb? Hennessey is the first I’ve heard praise his intelligence, but maybe my sampling is biased.

TMC April 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

“but maybe my sampling is biased.”
May be so. I’d say a high majority of people I’ve seen comment on this said he was a pretty smart guy. A couple thought he was incurious … because he didn’t follow their advice.

Chip April 25, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Better a president who has owned a grocery store than one who edited the HLR. A life spent in academia is life filled with grants, subsidies and loans; cocooned from risk, sacrifice and people who actually work.

To go from student to professor to activist may actually be the most intellectually blinkered path to politics that one could create.

Ricardo April 26, 2013 at 3:48 am

The hard-driving assistant professors in economics I know all work 60+ hours a week split between teaching, writing referee reports, doing their own research, competing for grants (they don’t exactly fall into your lap unless you are already famous) and reading voraciously to keep up with the literature in their own field and do so with the distinct possibility that, even if highly talented, they might be unceremoniously kicked out of their job after tenure review and be forced to pack up and move to a completely different part of the country. This is after having spend their mid-late-20s doing pretty much the same thing at a borderline-poverty-level stipend back in graduate school. After tenure, of course, it’s a very different story but the notion that one is “cocooned from risk, sacrifice and people who actually work” by going into academia shows you have no idea what you are talking about. I wouldn’t compare it to owning one’s own small business (a route very few future politicians actually take) but it is very much comparable to other workaholic professions.

Chip April 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

Hmm, you must have forgotten the part where they invest their savings, take responsibility for employees, enter trade with strangers, balance the books, build something that the public wants and basically exist outside an institution not buttressed by grants, student loans, a tuition bubble and government subsidies.

You know, the real world.

Of course some in academia produces real value, but it is a ridiculously limited springboard for over seeing the private sector.

Politics Debunked April 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

re: the article on healthcare costs claiming: “He expects that higher co-payments and deductibles — cases in which an insured person needs to pay more for health care out of pocket — will have a major, underappreciated role in holding down costs in the future, too.”

The problem is Obamcare *limits* how high deductibles can be, and is putting in places various things that are likely to *increase* costs since the bill is fully of favors to special interest groups to help limit competition. This page details the many ways “crony capitalism” prevents us from having anything remotely like a free market in healthcare, which accounts for continuing cost increases. (and oddly, medical price inflation has remained steady, even if total spending hasn’t risen as much). The quote below on the actual page has hyperlinks to sources for the the assertions it makes:

http://www.politicsdebunked.com/article-list/healthcare
“Unfortunately Obamacare bans many high deductible policies to help drive up insurance premiums. In 2014 the deductible can’t be over $2,000 for a single policy, with higher caps for those under 30 and families (with possible adjustments for flexible spending plans, though it limits contributions to them). The MLR requirements for Obamacare may either increase the the cost to use the less high deductible policies it does allow or drive them off the market. “

ChrisA April 25, 2013 at 9:16 pm

#2 – what a great link. And I agree with the link title, to explain this to the confused; at the end of the day there are people who are motivated and people who are not. And the motivated people will win most of the time (pace the quip that the race is not always to the swift and the strong, but that’s the way to bet). Motivation (or willingness to work hard for a distant future) is the most important factor. Great resources and facilitators can only do so much. I also thought as I read the link that those who worry about income inequality and unemployement due to increasing automation also have nothing to worry about. One of the writers rival schools has 12 paid chess teachers. Her (publicly funded elementary in a low income area) school has teachers in sewing, guitar and cooking. This is a great example of new jobs appearing as people and societies get richer and richer through improving productivity.

#4 – Those who are missing the point – the point is that there is a strong perception in “elite” circles that Bush is dumb. And he wasn’t. So why is the elite perception wrong? I agree with the authors that East Coast (and European) snobbery about the Texas accent is one of the main reasons. You can see that in Europe certain regional accents are just perceived as “Dumb”, the Birmingham accent is like that.

Tom April 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

I am wondering why #4 is posted? There are many other first person accounts that contradict this. Yes, he has a Harvard MBA. MBA programs are much less rigorous than law schools. Lots of group work. With his family connections and priveleged upbringing, it’s nothing impressive. He didn’t stand out. If he’s so intelligent why did he need a Saudi Prince to explain to him the difference between Islam practiced in Iran vs Saudi Arabia? Those of us old enough to remember, know his whold gosh shucks, I’m from Texas routine with buying a ranch in Texas a few years before running for president was just a repoff of trying to by Reagan and distance himself from his dad’s NE Republicans. Presidents are ultimately judged by what they did for the country, not by where their family connections got them into school. The only thing Bush has always been consistent about is his allegiance to his friends and rewarding them. (Good to the oil industry and people like the Koch’s- who give to GMU).

Foghorn Leghorn April 26, 2013 at 6:58 am
prior_approval April 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Jeb Bush in 2016 – ‘Even smarter than his brother’

Sounds like a winning campaign slogan, doesn’t it?

Noname April 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm

#5: The breast milk ice cream in Britain was real…for about 4 weeks, then it shut down (I don’t remember why).
My first reaction upon reading about it was “yuck”…but then…thinking more about it, what could be more “yuck” than drinking milk that came from a cow’s breast? How is it that humans began drinking cow’s milk anyway? — Frankly I’m surprised a market never developed in human milk.

EM April 26, 2013 at 1:18 am

Asking fans (and Hennessey is clearly a fan) of W whether he was any smart is not really the way to convince people of W’s intelligence.

Vivian Darkbloom April 26, 2013 at 5:18 am
Chip April 26, 2013 at 8:20 am

Fundamentally, we don’t want a ‘smart’ president, particularly one lauded as smart. We need a president who recognizes he’s completely ignorant about an increasingly complex world and that he can’t pull a friggin lever and change the direction of the economy.

We are all basically stupid. Decision-making must be decentralized and politicians restricted to screwing up little things.

Matt April 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm

#2 – classic Tyler opacity! Is Tyler saying that sheer laziness accounts for growing income inequality? While perhaps making some related point about a context in which the bar for mere adequate performance is at once set higher, and yet the resources available to one who desires such performance have never been so abundant? Therefore, if one does not achieve adequate performance, one is most likely lazy?

Or is Tyler suggesting that in the past, the lower level of work required to attain basic competitive competence ensured that the fixed rewards were spread out more randomly across the chess playing population? And that today, small competitive advantages (easily acquired by simply exerting the work effort required to exploit the copious training resources available) lead to shifting the balance of rewards at the margins?

Is Tyler simply saying, everyone needs to up their game, and as soon as that happens, the balance will shift to a broader rewards distribution? Or is he suggesting that even if everyone puts in more effort, some people will be more well prepared/rewarded than others? So when the chess instructor says “…how is it possible for me to compete with [those well-developed chess programs]? When I can’t even get my kids to complete a tactics packet and show up? “, we not read this as “my students are lazy”, but rather, “my students are doomed no matter what because the other programs are inherently more likely to produce chess excellence”?

Is Tyler suggesting that certain families will have greater resources for their children and therefore, no matter how hard some kids work, they will be doomed because other kids had better training?

Or is Tyler simply saying, we are investing way too much human capital into chess excellence, (and other non-economic activities)? We’re wasting our time in this realm and should be teaching kids _______? If we stopped spending so much damn time on chess, perhaps our kids would be better prepared to function in the world? Chess is a luxury good? Chess skills are aspirational and a distraction for much of the population?

Or, wow! we really put a lot of effort in chess excellence. Great for those kids that can manage/afford it. Sucks to be a kid that can’t even think about chess skills because so much other crap is going on in their life.

DJS April 27, 2013 at 9:29 am

#4 – I think people sometimes overlook the fact that intelligence and judgment are not synonymous.

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