Assorted links

by on July 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. With so few farmers, why are farm subsidies so popular?  It’s not such a simple question.

2. New York is getting noisier.

3. Andy Harless on the taper paradox.

4. Zimbabwe is still capable of shocking us.

5. Somalia’s friendly skies.

6. Are these the most diverse cities in America?

Euripides July 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm

#4.- Markets in everything? Just jokes, that’s horrible.

#6.- Germantown? Haven’t been there in a while, it’s just one of the far away DC suburbs, I guess Tyler will be telling us about how good food is there next.

JWatts July 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm

#1. The important news is that the US House split Food Stamps out of the Farm Bill. Those two entirely unrelated programs should be separate bills with separate votes.

Brian Donohue July 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm

If I may: I’m not a crazy right-winger, I even voted for Obama in 2008, but MSM presentation of the news is really providing a hard left slant these days.

The whole sequester thing was an embarrassing exercise in failed propaganda and credibility-chipping-away-at.

This morning, I caught the CBS radio news (top of the hour), about as bland a MSM source as you can imagine. Paraphrasing:

“The crazy “House Republicans passed a farm bill that is a complete waste of time because it splits Food Stamps out from the farm bill, and they’ve been in the farm bill for 50 years, so of course it’s crazy unthinkable. Aren’t those crazy Republicans crazy?”

john personna July 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Isn’t there still a lot of foreign aid in there? Same theory, it’s in the farm bill because, in supporting purchases, it supports prices. Not to mention direct aid to millionaire farmers. (I certainly support an end to agricultural subsidies, but I am cynical of efforts to reduce only those subsidies we do not like.)

Andre July 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm

It is important to have separate votes so it is more obvious to people that Republicans don’t care anything about spending cuts and deficit reductions. All the arguments in Washington are just about who the money should go to. Clarity.

mike July 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm

“American history is a story of immigration and diversity. As of June 2012, people of color constituted 36% of the workforce, and the Census has predicted that by 2050, there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States. Our nation’s diversity is often a point of pride among residents, as well as an appealing aspect of the United States for newcomers and visitors.”

This reads like a parody of mindless PC drivel.

mike July 12, 2013 at 5:34 pm

It’s also funny and mindless the way the author defines “diversity” as having equal numbers of people from four arbitrarily chosen categories, although I guess it’s a step up from the usual genocidal definition of “diversity” as “% non-white”. If I must be ruled by such insane ideologues, a white person I guess I should prefer an ideology in which utopia is reached when the population is only 25% white to an ideology where perfection requires 0% white.

MD July 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Even worse, it was written by someone named Divya Raghavan. What does she know about my struggles as a white man? WHY IS SHE GENOCIDING ME?!?!

Cliff July 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm

We’re genociding ourselves with our fertility rate, I don’t think we need any help in that regard

MD July 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Yeah, race suicide is a totally reasonable thing to be worried about.

mike July 12, 2013 at 9:26 pm

I’ll bet Divya would feel the same way I do if someone came up with an ideology whose explicit goal was to make Indians a minority in India

prior_approval July 13, 2013 at 7:43 am

‘whose explicit goal was to make Indians a minority in India’

Who are these ‘Indians’ of which you speak? There is a nationality called Indian, of course – and by definition, that group of people will not become a minority, no more than the nationality called ‘American’ will become a minority in the U.S., as long as their nation exists.

This gives a good overview of how the only definition of Indian which makes sense is that of nationality – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_people

Popeye July 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

You’re a Real American, eh? Must be nice.

The Anti-Gnostic July 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Popeye’s comment seems to indicate contempt for the idea that there is any such thing as a “real American.”

He is entirely correct. America has no distinct people, no distinct faith, no aristocracy, no monarch. It’s just an idea sustained by the loyalties of its net tax producers. America is not an actual nation. It’s more like a very big shopping mall.

A ‘nation of immigrants’ is entirely accurate and describes the crystallized adolescence of the American state perfectly. America is doomed for the entirety of its existence to always be a ‘nation of immigrants’ and never be a ‘nation of natives.’ America must forever seek out increasingly transient, marginalized, exotic immigrants with which to people itself, lest it ever become that dread thing: an actual, organic nation-state. No polity modeling itself along these lines has ever persisted, and America will end when there are more people taking from the pot than giving to the pot, because there is no actual nationhood to hold anything together.

The sooner the United States of America devolves into its constituent nations the better.

Steve Sailer July 13, 2013 at 1:48 am

Most Diverse Cities

1. Vallejo, CA

First city in America to declare bankruptcy due to the subprime bubble!

Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Blind Side, and The Big Short) wrote “California and Bust” in the November, 2011 issue of Vanity Fair about Vallejo.

He tries to explain California’s dire finances by focusing on the fire department in Vallejo, the San Francisco Bay Area municipality that famously managed to go legally bankrupt in May 2008.

Lewis has an entirely legitimate complaint about the fire department’s pay. But it’s also worth noting a fascinating fact about Vallejo that Lewis leaves out of his story: it’s a perfect emblem of California not just because it’s broke, but because it’s so extraordinarily diverse.

Pat Buchanan laughingly quotes Dan Quayle telling the Japanese that “diversity is our strength.” Vallejo, therefore, ought to be the strongest city in America because it may have the most uniformly diverse population: 25 percent Asian (mostly Filipino), 23 percent Hispanic, 22 percent black, and eight percent multiracial.

So in the Quayle-echoed conventional wisdom, which Lewis doesn’t dare challenge directly, Vallejo should be paradise. After all, as one resident told Lewis, Vallejo is “a boat ride to San Francisco. You throw a stone and you hit Napa.”

And Vallejo has already arrived at that long-awaited nirvana of a Benetton commercial come to life, an entire city out from under the iron fist of White Majority Rule.

But instead, as Buchanan’s framework would predict, Vallejo epitomizes dysfunctionality. Suicide of a Superpower devotes several pages to liberal Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam’s landmark survey of 40 American communities:

“After thirty thousand interviews, Putnam concluded that ethnic and racial diversity devastates communities. In diverse communities, people not only do not trust strangers, they do not trust their own kind. They withdraw into themselves, they support community activity less, they vote less.”

There are several obvious reasons why diversity diminishes community effectiveness.

First, as Buchanan notes, “Anyone who has been in a debate on a racially charged issue like the false allegations of the rape of a black woman by members of the Duke lacrosse team knows how fast the room temperature can rise.”

Second, immigrants from corrupt countries like Mexico and the Philippines expect public affairs to be crooked and ineffectual, so they organize their lives around their clans and don’t try hard to be good citizens.

Third, and most fundamentally, diverse people, by definition, want diverse results—so they are more likely to wind up at loggerheads than a homogenous people.

Diversity thus makes public affairs ripe for exploitation by highly unified groups, such as, in Lewis’ article on California, the prison guard’s union and local firemen. Lewis’s reporting on how Vallejo’s fire department is an island of cohesion in a sea of anomie is excellent.

Moreover, because the vibrant residents of Vallejo tend to set their houses on fire more frequently than the duller residents of less diverse Northern Californian communities, the Vallejo FD attracted some of the most gung-ho firefighters from all over the region.

Not surprisingly, the Vallejo fire department—a rare institution in Vallejo with a high degree of what Putnam calls “social capital,” or espirit de corps among its employees—managed to outmaneuver the divided and listless citizenry in grabbing a slice of the pie bigger than could be afforded by the populace’s mediocre ability to generate wealth.

Therapsid July 13, 2013 at 2:11 am

I only wish you Steve Sailer were more diverse in your interests. You could devote that exceptional master race-worthy intellect to other issues than immigration and race relations.

TMC July 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Awesome reply. Very PC straw-man, no actual rebuttal of anything, and totally content free.

CMT July 14, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Awesome TMC reply: Very ad-hominem, good name calling, no evidence of any intellectual effort to undertand the idea behind the comment TMC is reacting to, and TMC’s comment is totally spite-filled.

anon July 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm

1. – It’s not such a simple question.

Really, Tyler? You’re just trolling here.

From the article:
“This was unexpected. The average number of direct agricultural constituents in a House district was only about 1 or 2 percent — there simply aren’t many farmers left in the United States. But those voters care a lot about farm policy. And most other voters don’t care much about farm policy at all — and are unaware of the costs of agricultural subsidies.”

Mancur Olson talked about this a long time ago. Concentrated benefits, dispersed costs. Gosh, wasn’t there an economist at GMU who covered all this? Hmm, what was his name…. Wasn’t he a Nobel Prize winner? Hmmm….
http://youtu.be/ffJFNEujeL4

The quality of the Washington press / pundits covering Congress has declined so much because the WaPo and other MSM outlets don’t hire journalists with real experience covering Congress, like the folks who cut their DC-reporter teeth at CQ.

wiki July 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Actually the Olsonian logic only scratches the surface of the problem. There are many other industries with similar characteristics which aren’t so heavily subsidized or protected. Why agriculture? Why is it so heavily protected in the most developed nations that arguably have the least benefit from protecting Big Ag? And conversely, poor nations with a comparative advantage in agriculture often tax poor farmers to subsidize urban workers thus hurting a nation’s competitiveness along with redistributing unnecessarily. This is such a persistent pattern worldwide that it cries out for a detailed theoretical analysis.

Therapsid July 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Because this particular tiny industry is most concentrated in sparsely populated regions of industrialized nations and therefore has an outsize influence in those regions, provinces, states, prefectures, etc.

mike July 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Also, those regions tend to be relatively homogeneous and self-sufficient and do not have a lot of factions competing for federal government largesse. I hear a lot of complaining about agricultural subsidies but when you look at federal spending gimmedats as a whole are these states getting more than their fair share?

Mark Thorson July 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Also, it’s a very old industry. Plenty of time to establish institutions for distributing the graft. Newer industries are much less well-connected. Compare alcohol and tobacco against the much less destructive drug marijuana.

Brian Donohue July 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

Exactly. This is part of year 150 in the transition away from an agricultural economy.

jk July 13, 2013 at 3:46 am

Why agriculture? Actually voters like to subsidize (small) farmers. In the US, only 19% oppose giving to farms smaller than 500 acres. Only 14% of EU citizens like to see a decrease in the support to farmers.

http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Globalization/GlobalTradeFarm_Jan04/GlobalTradeFarm_Jan04_rpt.pdf
http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_336_en.pdf

So voters seem to get what they want.

123 July 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm
Scoop July 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

The NY noise article suggests it’s extremely expensive to make an apartment relatively soundproof — “Soundproofing a wall starts at $5,000; a single window can start at $1,000, with giant windows costing $9,000.”

I feel sure that I read something a couple years that quoted builders and/or architects saying just the opposite, that it really did not cost all that much extra to make buildings pretty darned quiet (>5% extra???) but that developers always made them use materials so cheap that a person in his living room could hear quiet conversations in the hall, even in buildings designed for millionaires, because people won’t pay more for good soundproofing because they can’t see it the way they see granite counters (or whatever).

Anyone involved in construction or architecture know the answer? I’m not talking about soundproofing worthy of a recording studio. I’m curious how much extra it costs so that I’ll never hear the neighbor walking above me or his TV, assuming he listens at anything like normal volume, or the trash truck outside the room I’m sleeping in.

Ape Man July 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm

The simplest answer to your question is that everything construction related in New York City cost a lot of money. If the cost to soundproof a single window includes materials and labor it does not seem that high to me for the New York City area. This is what a sound proof window looks like http://youtu.be/7QCJM9tqvvI

A more detailed response would along the lines that it is easier to do things right the first time then it is to retrofit them. But I don’t think you really want lecture along those lines.

And yes the common trend in American construction is to do crap work because no one wants to pay a little more for quality. If something is labeled “Builder Series” you know it is junk.

byomtov July 13, 2013 at 1:08 pm

And yes the common trend in American construction is to do crap work because no one wants to pay a little more for quality.

Or maybe because it’s cheaper to do crap work, especially where no one can see it or recognize it if they do, unless they know a lot about construction.

As far as paying for quality, I think many buyers would pay for quality, if there were a realistic way of assuring themselves they were getting what they paid for. But long-term warranties are not common, and contractors go in and out of business – in a legal sense anyway – all the time. Statutes of limitation on lawsuits are short.

In other words, don’t blame the buyers. The market for newly built housing is a “market for lemons,” and quality builders haven’t figured out how to signal their attributes, or don’t want to.

Ape Man July 13, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Certainly, you have a possible alternative theory. I just can’t believe it based on my anecdotal experiences.

byomtov July 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I’m not sure it’s an alternative as much as it is a refinement.

You say people don’t want to pay for quality work.

I say people don’t want to pay for promises of quality work when they are not able either to verify the quality or obtain enforceable guarantees.

Like it or not, builders have a terrible reputation on the whole. And if we are going to rely on anecdotes, then it’s fully deserved. (A friend saw the paint on his newly built house slide off, because no primer was used, to take one example.)

Ape Man July 14, 2013 at 7:14 am

Of course builders have a bad reputation. Many of them deserve it and everyone in the industry knows it. Why do they stay in business? Lower prices then everyone else.

Even the builders who are not dishonest knowingly use cheap materials and less than best practices because they feel that otherwise they will not stay cost competitive. But again, I think builders are just responding to market pressure. Certainly in my experience rich people typically mange to find quality builders. The process of finding good builders is not hard, it is just that most people don’t want to do it.

Ape Man July 12, 2013 at 10:12 pm

As far as how much it would cost you to sound proof your apartment, that depends on the nature of the construction and the area you live in. I am going to guess that to meet your stated goals you would need quite rock, insulation, and resilient channels installed in the ceiling. What you are talking about is completely tearing out the existing ceiling (but not the structural supports) and redoing it with more expensive materials (Quite Rock is not cheap, and with the resilient channels installed, you might get away with just insulation depending on how fussy you are).

The thing is, resilient channels are not that expensive if you put them when you are building the room the first time. Nor is the insulation. But retrofitting after the fact? No going to be cheap.

Paul July 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm

6. I thought “diverse” would imply a broad range. 25% each of White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander actually sounds pretty boring. And shouldn’t the number of immigrants and languages count?

Keljopy July 13, 2013 at 5:00 am

I agree. I would think of somewhere that was say, 10% each of German, African-American, Mexican, Peruvian, Dominican, Filipino, Indian, Chinese, Samoan, and Iraqi decent as being more diverse than one that was 25% each of German, African-American, Mexican, and Filipino. Even moreso with a smaller percent than my example of even more ethnicities, even if the racial categories are more unbalanced. Add in more immigrants and languages vs. people that have been here for many generations, the forgotten native americans, and other measures of “diversity” like religion, political persuasion, sexual orientation, disability, age, income level, etc. and I think the claim that these are the “most diverse cities in America” is tenuous at best.

The Anti-Gnostic July 13, 2013 at 10:55 am

People don’t like diversity and tend to move away from it to the extent the government lets them. Consequently, over time cities become homogenous or at least stratified. A proportionate plurality in a single area requires a great deal of positive intervention by the central government backed by its threat of overwhelming violence.

Jacob July 12, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Why do so few articles about farm policy/politics mention the word “Iowa”?

Alex K. July 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Good point!

In retrospect it’s obvious, but I didn’t think of it.

Willitts July 13, 2013 at 1:31 am

3. And if everyone in a congestion slowdown all stepped on the gas at the same time, the jam would be broken. So everyone, on three. 1…….2….

Michael July 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

People ask me, “Have you gone on vacation?’ Just read ‘Somalia’s friendly skies.’ You know it was a great vacation, and I think I’ll go on to work a little more relaxed.

Jami July 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I work in the 7th least diverse city, Southgate Ca. this is mostly an industrial city…very few homes compared to other cities, so that kind of skews it. The houses are older and prices were lower because most people don’t like to live by refineries and industrial factories, so mostly the poorer immigrant workers moved in.
Funny how Ca has so many in both categories..I would think north east would have more diverse cities.

Anthony July 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Based on the definition used, the Northeast doesn’t have a chance. There aren’t enough Asians, or enough Hispanics outside New York, for any place to come close to Vallejo’s proportions.

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