Tuesday assorted links

by on March 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. How did France, Canada, and Japan keep costs down for nuclear power.  This is also a good essay for understanding health care.

2. First accident with a self-driving car?  “The car was rolling at 2 mph and the bus at 15 mph. No one was injured.”

3. Sweden’s first unmanned food store, all you need is a phone.

4. Larry Summers on Donald Trump.  If you need further persuasion, just imagine Japan deciding to build nuclear weapons.

5. How black immigrants are reshaping America: “A full 9% of black Americans are immigrants…”

6. The Myth of the Rational Voter 2016, by Bryan Caplan.

1 Gafiated March 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

4. If it were anything like their other military Research, Development and Acquisition endeavors the Japanese bomb would be overpriced, over schedule and underpowered. It would also manage to outrage both types of Korean and every type of Chinese.

Eh, make the Mexicans pay for it.

2 skeptic March 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Hot tip: japan is 1-3 days away from having nuclear weapons. All components are pre-placed.

3 Peldrigal March 8, 2016 at 8:12 pm

Last time I checked consensus was nuclear delay around 2 weeks.

4 Brian Donohue March 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

#4. I didn’t find it persuasive. Not a fan of Trump, but Summers dishes up nothing beyond the standard fare. Won’t move the needle. At all. Who’s up next?

5 Peter M March 1, 2016 at 1:33 pm

I agree. This is nothing new. His view of Japan getting the bomb seems like he’s reliving WWII. [Larry, the Japanese are dependent on the rest of the world for their own economy. So are the Chinese] What scares me? That Israel and Pakistan have the bomb. I read a similar hysterical piece by a neo-con the other day that was very similar to this. Yawn.

On a scale of who I fear in the White House, I place Trump in the same category as Clinton, Rubio and Cruz. Cruz is likely the most dangerous. He seems to have an obsession with killing people he perceives as evil (read stories about his time at the Supreme Court and how he obsessed about death penalty cases). The four of them seem like perfect sociopaths.

6 RPLong March 1, 2016 at 2:25 pm

“On a scale of who I fear in the White House, I place Trump in the same category as Clinton, Rubio and Cruz. Cruz is likely the most dangerous. He seems to have an obsession with killing people he perceives as evil (read stories about his time at the Supreme Court and how he obsessed about death penalty cases). The four of them seem like perfect sociopaths.”

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

7 Former Clerk March 1, 2016 at 2:57 pm

My biggest fear is that the person in the White House is chosen by people whose opinions are essentially dictated by painfully moronic New York Times articles.

You should try engaging politics (and politicians) with hopes and aspirations- instead of (media created) fears. You wouldn’t want to be one of those simple fools who is given something to fear and then behaves precisely as he was directed, do you?

8 Brian Donohue March 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Tyler excerpted from Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders the other day. This is what he should have excerpted:

“It’s an election year, and candidates can’t stop speaking about our country’s problems (which, of course, only they can solve). As a result of this negative drumbeat, many Americans now believe that their children will not live as well as they themselves do.”

9 anon March 1, 2016 at 4:17 pm

You guys scare me. If you are America, we are in deep trouble. You seriously cannot gauge Clinton as the safe choice? A conventional politician? You seriously can’t see Trump as a wildcard, the kind of bet you make when you have nothing to lose?

I think we have much to lose, a great country already, and not one we need to burn down to build again.

10 Daniel Dostal March 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Don’t worry. Most Americans really do see Clinton as the only available choice. However, we can hardly voice our opinion with the amount of demagoguery about. Which Sanders supporter will listen to me when I say I’m voting for Hilary because she has actual policy goals that are achievable and not because I worship the ground beneath her feet?

11 Art Deco March 1, 2016 at 6:55 pm
12 Art Deco March 1, 2016 at 7:15 pm

(read stories about his time at the Supreme Court and how he obsessed about death penalty cases).

Stories written by whom?

13 Josh March 1, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I do t care the Donald, but it is absolutely disgusting that Summer’s would write that trump has “flirted with the KKK”. What a scumbag.

Secondly he worries about a “danger to the American project”. The American project can crawl up own ass and die. The “sane” candidates apparently want to continue to fight proxy war after proxy war, including doctrinal and psychological warfare against nominal allies of our nominal country, conquer and schism, invade and invite, forever and ever or at least until world war three.

Can’t we just find another black guy? At least black people don’t seem particularly interested in war with Russia.

14 Jamie_NYC March 1, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Well, I think it became obvious to a lot of people that this is about the struggle of ordinary people against the elite, where the elite will say and do whatever is necessary to preserve its position in society. So, “Trump has small penis”, “he never resigned his position in KKK” etc. all become fair tactic. I can’t remember who said it (Marx? Weber?) about the French revolution but it goes something like: “the elite would rather destroy the entire social order than relinquish any of its privileges.”

15 Peldrigal March 8, 2016 at 8:14 pm

It’s funny because the burgeous revolutions were elite revolutions.

16 The Original D March 1, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Agreed. Painting Trump as a scary monster just makes him more appealing to some, and it’s easily countered rhetorically. Summers and other pundits would do better by making fun of Trump. For starters, accuse him of having a small penis.

17 Art Deco March 1, 2016 at 7:11 pm
18 Dzhaughn March 1, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Summers says the possibility of Trump becoming president is dangerous. I suppose, but the suggestion that it should somehow be made impossible is more dangerous.

19 jb March 2, 2016 at 2:52 pm

That depends entirely on the nature and generalizability of the mechanism by which it is made impossible.

20 JC March 2, 2016 at 3:03 am

It sounds like Hayek telling the world the dangers of populism in either side back in 1930s and 1940s… Hayek was ignored by many people…

21 Lord Action March 1, 2016 at 1:16 pm

4. When Britain and France built nuclear weapons to have independent deterrent against the Soviet Union, that made us safer, not less safe. It significantly complicated the strategic picture for the USSR and made picking off the Western European nations with a US reluctant to get involved much less likely.

A nuclear Japan might help deliver the same dynamic with respect to China.

It’s not obviously a bad idea.

22 Dzhaughn March 1, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Isn’t it inevitable?

23 AIG March 1, 2016 at 4:14 pm

A nuclear Japan would be very much a good thing, I agree. I think Summer’s point is more about the US-Japan alliance and the benefit we also get by being close allies. Under a Trumpeterian presidency (God forbid!), he is likely to introduce more volatility in the region because the US would not be a reliable ally anymore. So his point still stands, even if his concern with a nuclear Japan is unfounded.

24 A Definite Beta Guy March 1, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Interesting line of thought, but I doubt it. The US Commitment to NATO was always credible. The USSR would have to be EXTREMELY convinced the US would not intervene for the USSR to attack. They would not bet their entire nation on a reluctant US refusing to fight.

The presence of British and French nukes then just means additional chances of accidental launches.

25 Peldrigal March 8, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Thought, both based on game theory outcome calculation and policy, was, and still is (it was brushed up after the invasion of Crimea) was that URSS could launcha a massive strike to industrial and population nodes in Western Europe, and then do a massive conventional attack. At that point, why should the USA accept tens of millions of casualties to reconquer radioactive rubble with no economic value?

26 Slocum March 1, 2016 at 1:29 pm

#3. Coming soon to a $15/hr min wage city near you?

27 RM March 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

@1. Two of the stated lessons in the link are 1) Stable regulations are essential for nuclear power to thrive and 2) Standardization of design helps. These lessons no doubt derive from information provided earlier in the article: “How did France pull this off? It helped that the country had only one utility (EDF) and one builder (Areva) working closely together. They settled on a few standard reactor designs and built them over and over again, often putting multiple reactors on a single site. That allowed them to standardize their processes and get better at finding efficiencies. Canada and Japan kept costs relatively stable with similar tactics.”

Why does Professor Cowen say that “This is also a good essay for understanding health care.”

Is he recommending a national, socialized health care system?

28 Urso March 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm

No matter what illness you come in with, you get the same treatment. Think of the cost savings!

29 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Yeah, ’cause that’s how universal health care actually works. Doctors dish out chemo to flu patients.

30 So Much For Subtlety March 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm

The other stated lesson is that letting Green groups engage in lawfare against nuclear power is a bad idea. The US opened the appeals process to every fringe dweller and as a result nothing gets built. France does not. I am willing to bet South Korea is a lot more robust as well.

The solution is legal reform. As with health care.

31 Mark Bahner March 1, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Uranium-fueled nuclear power is dead in the U.S. Wind, solar, and natural gas are simply too inexpensive for nuclear to ever compete. (And batteries will soon make the situation even more impossible, as the variability problem is greatly reduced.)

No disrespect to the authors of the paper, but as far as I know, they have a total of zero years of experience with the nuclear industry, or even the power industry.

32 Alain March 2, 2016 at 12:55 am

Sigh. A Vox article. What a load of crap.

The reason was environmentalists are the worst people in the world, and in the US we let them run amok. A few other countries put the clamps on them and were better for it. So what do we learn from this if we are at Vox? That we need a command and control economy. WUT?

Vox. Horrible.

33 Dan Weber March 2, 2016 at 1:22 pm

The article pointed out multiple times that we need stable regulations.

34 Alain March 2, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Stable regulations. What a terrific euphemism. Everyone can read into it what they want.

Call a spade a spade: we let greens run amok in the US and they killed nuclear power. The end.

But its vox, which is a useless rag, so they can’t do that.

35 Matt March 1, 2016 at 1:40 pm

6) This isn’t necessarily specific to Bryan Caplan, but Tyler’s last two posts (this one, and the one before it) got me to thinking about the idea of the rational economic actor and democracy, in my own broad lay terms. I don’t know how many people are true believers of the rational economic actor, or the wisdom of the crowds. I don’t know how much those theories overlap in individual people. But how many people subscribe to one belief, but not the other? i.e., belief in the rationality of individual economic actions, but an irrationality of individual political/voting actions? The two theories are related, are they not? Are they not complementary to each other? A rational actor should be rational across all choice domains, no? And if not, what perverts rationality in one domain, versus another? Does the time frame for the effectiveness of crowd rationality vary across different choice domains? e.g., maybe rationality wins out more quickly in economics than in politics? I am thinking there is a tension between believing in one version of rationality, but not the other, but maybe no one actually holds those contradictory views and I am creating a straw person? And I am sure I simplifying, misunderstanding the nuances of both theories.

36 eccdogg March 1, 2016 at 2:30 pm

I think that Caplan’s view is the following.

1) We bear almost zero consequences for our incorrect political views
1a) In fact forming correct views is costly as it requires work and may make us give up one of our cherished beliefs, so it is costly
2) Holding some beliefs makes us feel good regardless of whether they are correct or not
3) Therefore it is rational to hold incorrect or unsubstatiated political beliefs

In our personal economic life most of the time our beliefs have to pay their own way, there are consequences to holding some beliefs as compared to others. But even there when there are low consequence you have folks disagreeing about say evolution.

37 Joan March 1, 2016 at 3:20 pm

We spend most of our income on things we do not need that make us feel good that does not effect our survival, so how is this different than our political choices. It is only the poor that are punished for making bad economic choices .

38 eccdogg March 1, 2016 at 4:11 pm

I don’t think Caplan would disagree.

We buy things that will make us happy and are pretty good at predicting what will make us happy.

We vote in a way that makes us happy at the time we are voting not in a way that is aligned with good policy, social science, etc.

39 Joan March 1, 2016 at 5:38 pm

I stlldo not see the difference. Many of the things we do with our income that makes us happy are not aligned with our long term wellbeing cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc as well as not saving enough for future needs Some people would add we use too much energy from fossil fuels and that some peop have have too few or too many children

40 anon March 1, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Caplan might be right about the psychology, but I think it used to be balanced by a Organization Man worldview that it could be made to work.


What shape does democracy take in a nation that loses confidence in itself?

41 Hazel Meade March 1, 2016 at 4:28 pm

You left out that holding rational political views comes at a social cost. Having rational views puts you into conflict with all of your friends and relatives who have irrational views. It’s much easier to just agree with people and get along.

42 Too Late March 1, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Great point. That is a very important factor to this problem. People want to fit in, they want to look cool, to be accepted by their peers. Being irrational is very rational if it buys you social capital.

(Also, look at Trump; look at how far he’s gone being seemingly irrational.)

43 derek March 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm

#6. Maybe I’m repeating myself, but I really don’t think that Sanders’ positions are closer to those of the median Democrat than those of Hillary, especially if we think of the median Democrat as including the relatively moderate coalition of Obama.

44 Dulimbai March 1, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Check the news on Japan’s Takahama nuclear plant. Japan is unable to restart many of their reactors because cost-cutting has most power stations completely run down, and plant workers tend to be cheap high-school grads without technical expertise.

45 Ray Lopez March 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

@#6 – Trump’s unpredictability is a plus not a minus, as any game theorist knows. Who is North Korea or Iraq more likely to mess with? A rational ‘by the rules of engagement’ person like Hilary, or a ‘loco hombre’ like Trump? Clearly the former. Nobody messes with a crazy person, unless they think the craziness is just an act.

Caplan: “. Main 2016 worry: My base rate for war between the United States and another major power is about 2% per presidential term. For Trump, I’d up the odds to 5% per term. Yes, I know by some measures he’s less hawkish than his Republican rivals and Hillary. But his macho persona and casual remarks seem more predictive than his public statements.”

If that’s Caplan’s “main worry” he should just learn to love the bomb and vote for Trump.

46 AIG March 1, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Yeah, because unpredictable sociopaths are exactly the sort of leaders we want too. Worked out great last time with GWB.

47 Cooper March 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

George Bush was not an unpredictable sociopath. He was a Neocon who thought replacing Iraq’s dictatorship with a democracy would spread the ideals of democracy throughout the Arab World, transforming the Middle East.

He was partly vindicated by the Arab Spring. It turns out that repressive regime ARE unpopular and that people wanted change. The problem is that The People wanted to replace secular dictators with religious zealots.

Bush misjudged the priorities of Arab voters because he and his advisors had too much faith in the moderating influence of democracy.

None of that is based on sociopathy. If anything, it was the abandonment of cold, rational calculus that lead the Bush administration to overreach.

48 Multitudes March 1, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Exactly right. Bush had a soul. After 8 years of Clinton relentlessly bombing Iraq and starving children to death, Bush felt obliged to act like a human being. Whoever follows Obama will inherit a similar situation in Iraq (again), Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan. And he or she will be accused of overreach and aggression by the same Democrat hypocrites who mocked Bush I for not finishing off Saddam. For them, aerial bombardment of the brown skinned is noble diplomacy, but actually attempting to resolve a situation is warmongering aggression. Go figure.

49 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 9:42 pm

I’m pretty sure the democracy shtick was feed for the masses. If you actually believe in democracy, you don’t exclude most/all anti-American entities from the election. Assuredly, many people in the establishment had great hopes for spreading democracy, but democracy is not something you can force on people in a top down manner, a strategy basically antithetical to the principles of democracy.

50 JWatts March 1, 2016 at 9:54 pm

“I’m pretty sure the democracy shtick was feed for the masses.”

Whenever your thought starts with, I’ll just ignore what the other side actually says and assume the worst, then you’ve just painted yourself into an ideological corner.

51 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 4:09 am

I repeat, if it was actually about democracy, they would not have excluded basically all anti-American parties and individuals from participating in the elections. Moreover, the fact that foreign contractors and not domestic contractors got all the reconstruction contracts suggests that they never had any interest in the development of Iraqi economic capacity either.

Imagine if all anti-Iran parties were excluded from American elections. Would you consider that democracy?

What defense is there for the perspective that it was always about democracy?

What does it mean when Cheney said that the war would pay for itself?

Sounds like naked imperialism to me, with a flimsy cover of corrupted democracy which excludes anyone who wasn’t on the right side of the fight.

Pray, do tell, which ideological corner do you see me as lying in for the fact of seeing it this way? Explain by which logic and mode of reasoning you arrive at that conclusion.

52 So Much For Subtlety March 1, 2016 at 7:56 pm

George W Bush always delayed going back to Texas until after Christmas Day. Because he knew his entire staff and security detail would have to come with him and he wanted them to have Christmas Day with their families.[1] Hillary Clinton brutalized a 12 year old rape victim to get her client off and laughed about it afterwards.

Remind me again who is the sociopath? How many 12 year old rape victims do you find amusing?

Although in fairness Hillary is not unpredictable. She will say or do anything to get into office. Whatever her past positions, whatever she believes, none of it matters if an opinion poll tells her otherwise. Her record in Congress is one of almost neo-Con belligerency. No one mentions that because the mainstream media wants to make sure she gets elected and so are hushing everything up.

[1] I believe Obama has never once spent Christmas Day in Washington.

53 The Anti-Gnostic March 1, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Other than Rand Paul or Barry Sanders, has any other candidate besides Donald Trump expressed skepticism for Middle Eastern wars?

54 Brian Donohue March 1, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Barry Sanders? Are you saying Josh upthread might get his wish?

55 Derek March 1, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Isn’t Hilary’s position that the situation portrayed by the bush administration justified a yes vote, but that this portrayal, in hindsight, was misleading (perhaps willfully so) and that she would not have supported the war if she had thought bush was not explicating himself to congress in good faith? This might lead you to wonder if she will make future misjudgements, but surely it qualifies as skepticism.

56 jb March 2, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Barry Sanders would be prone to hasty decisionmaking. He is, after all, one of history’s leaders in rushing.

57 Yeah March 1, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Arguably our culture is already excessively anti-war


Having a nuclear war with a major power would be bad, but I don’t know why Caplan thinks Trump would do that. In fact Trump even says he would get along better with Russia.

58 The Original D March 1, 2016 at 5:09 pm

But his macho persona and casual remarks seem more predictive than his public statements

Predictive of what? Have we seen any evidence he’ll call in an air strike if he feels slighted?

Maybe a proxy would be his propensity for suing others. Is he known for filing nuisance lawsuits just to screw his rivals?

59 Peldrigal March 8, 2016 at 8:18 pm

I was about to give an answer to this, but then I said that it was just Ray Lopez

60 Todd Kreider March 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

#4 Summers: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a central element in our rebalancing toward Asia, could collapse. Japan would have to take self-defense, rather than reliance on American security guarantees, more seriously. And others in Asia would inevitably tilt from a more erratic America towards a relatively steady China.”

First, there hasn’t been much of a “rebalance” toward Asia and the effects on Japan would be extremely small relative to the decades long security arrangement. There might be other reasons Japan would want to enter NATO as a full member beyond wanting to join a missile building consortium, but TPP isn’t one of them. I don’t think Summers could name one country in Asia (apart from North Korea) that would “inevitably tilt” to the current China.

61 Josh March 1, 2016 at 4:05 pm

who cares? Why do I want Harvard or Hollywood to influence Japan. I just want my daughters to find a nice guy that can make enough money to have some grand babies with. why should I care if foreigners think people like Larry Summer’s are cool. People who care about politics are nuts. (This should not be construed as pro trump, just anti Larry summers).

62 Yeah March 1, 2016 at 4:09 pm


63 It's Over March 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

+1 Josh. People who care about politics are nuts. The rush of media and Larry Summers-types to shout how much they hate Trump is just ostentatious virtue signaling to impress others who really, really care about virtue signaling. In that article Summers quoted like three other guys, all of whom are exactly like him. Trump is a jackass, but I give him credit for not giving a shit what Larry Summers or Niall Ferguson or whomever thinks about what it all means for the foundations of Western democracy or whatever.

64 Art Deco March 1, 2016 at 7:06 pm

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a central element in our rebalancing toward Asia, could collapse.

He says that like it’s a bad thing.

65 carlolspln March 2, 2016 at 11:55 pm

+ 1

66 collin March 1, 2016 at 2:39 pm

I am sorry Bryan Caplan of Myth Of The Rational Voter reads like 90% of the population is stupid. I assumed the reason for Trump’s success is working class Americans especially in red states have had 40 years of stagnant wages and the Republican (as well as Democrats lost most of these voters the last 40 years) Party don’t have solutions.

67 AIG March 1, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Life is tough.

It’s tougher if you’re stupid.

There’s no solution to stupid.

If they have stagnant wages because they are stupid and send their kids to play football and basketball instead of learning anything useful in school, they wouldn’t be in such a mess. And the GOP has so far been smart enough to recognize that there isn’t a solution to these people other than to ignore them. That is, until Trump realized he can get their votes by appealing to their ignorance.

Either way, it’s not as if Trump’s policies are going to help out the stupid demographic. They will still be stupid, but now with more expensive imported goods.

68 Cooper March 1, 2016 at 4:50 pm

And yet the commentariat wonders why these voters don’t like the elites…

69 So Much For Subtlety March 1, 2016 at 7:45 pm

AIG March 1, 2016 at 4:20 pm

If they have stagnant wages because they are stupid and send their kids to play football and basketball instead of learning anything useful in school, they wouldn’t be in such a mess.

Isn’t that a little racist? I mean, shouldn’t you recognize the historical hurdles in the way of African Americans that makes football and basketball more attractive than the Eurocentric racist school system that systematically fails young Black men?

And the GOP has so far been smart enough to recognize that there isn’t a solution to these people other than to ignore them. That is, until Trump realized he can get their votes by appealing to their ignorance.

Oh wait, you weren’t talking about the people who gave Hillary a victory in South Carolina. You were talking about the White working class. Who are, at least, mainly still employed.

Either way, it’s not as if Trump’s policies are going to help out the stupid demographic. They will still be stupid, but now with more expensive imported goods.

Nor will Hillary’s policies going to help poor African Americans. Or middle class African Americans. As African Americans have done very badly under Obama. But what the hell – you think they are not smart enough to vote for someone who could come up with policies that would help them, right?

70 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 10:48 pm

“Isn’t that a little racist?” – where did he mention race, or even infer it in the slightest of ways? If you read discussions of stupid people as automatically referring to black people, then sorry sir, but you are the racist one.

Sounds like you’re taking the absurd reasoning of the SJWs to heart, chasing all sorts of shadows and accusing people of drawing accusative links of all sorts where there are none even remotely implied. For someone who routinely accuses people of double standards and hypocrisy, your hypocrisy is stunning.

71 asdf March 1, 2016 at 7:50 pm

How does importing low trust net tax liabilities help their situation?

America is a rich country. It stands to reason it could yield a middle class if it wanted to. People don’t need more cheap throwaway plastic crap bought on credit. They need strong communities, a healthy state, stable family life, etc. Immigration of NAMs is a net negative towards these goals.

If you can’t make society work for 100 IQ white people, what can you make work? Donald Trump is the least of your democratic worries if we are going to abandon 90% of our society into the abyss.

72 A Definite Beta Guy March 1, 2016 at 9:36 pm

“If you can’t make society work for 100 IQ white people, what can you make work? Donald Trump is the least of your democratic worries if we are going to abandon 90% of our society into the abyss. ”
Truth right here.

73 Art Deco March 1, 2016 at 7:05 pm

It reads like 90% of the population is stupid because that’s what Bryan Caplan thinks, and he thinks that because he’s constittuionally incapable of appreciating anything going on outside his skin. No workers have not had 40 years of stagnant wages.

74 JWatts March 1, 2016 at 10:00 pm

“No workers have not had 40 years of stagnant wages.”

That’s true, but the 20 year wage growth picture is pretty bad.

75 rayward March 1, 2016 at 2:42 pm

6. Caplan would be more convincing if he spent more time and energy with a little introspection rather than all of his time and energy faulting others’ irrationality, ignorance, and ideological incoherence.

76 Dan in Euroland March 1, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Yeah his arguments that people are “irrational” instead of deriving utility along dimensions different from his preferred goods are highly autistic. Economics usually works best when the economist tries to determine the preferences, beliefs, and constraints faced by the agents in the particular environment under analysis. Caplan instead makes broad sweeping claims with little understanding of the local and institutional details the people he is criticizing are in.

For a counterpoint here is a nice paper by Gilles Saint-Paul on when workers disfavor labor market integration in the EU: http://ftp.iza.org/dp1618.pdf

Caplan would dismiss such a sitution as “anti-foreign” bias instead of trying to understand why that bias exists. Its simply poor scholarship by Caplan.

77 Art Deco March 1, 2016 at 7:00 pm

if he spent more time and energy with a little introspection

Yeah, and Jose Feliciano would enjoy the scenery more if he’d take those dark glasses off.

78 Donald Pretari March 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

#1…I agree with Tyler. Concerning both health care and nuclear power we have too many special interests at the table in the US, and they also have too much of an ability to kill off sensible compromises. The result is a ratcheting up of cost in order to square the circle. This was, in fact, Milton Friedman’s point when he referred to the US health care system as having the worst of all worlds.


79 jorod March 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm

If you believe there are self-driving cars, I have a bridge to sell you.

80 dearieme March 1, 2016 at 3:07 pm

There’s a simple relation between nukes and health care. If the world would accept that a radiation dose rate at a nuke is no more dangerous than the identical dose rate in a hospital, then the costs of nukes , and their dismantling, and fuel treatment, would decline abruptly. Instead we have a superstition to the contrary. It’s madness.

81 carlolspln March 2, 2016 at 11:58 pm

Then move to Sellafield!

82 Stephan March 1, 2016 at 3:11 pm

# 4 Sumners tells us that Trump Isolationism is bad for us. What has our foreign involvement brought us ? The Middle East mess, The arab spring disaster, a failed state in Libya, 1.7 trillion dollar spent on foreign intervention, + millions of refugees overwhelming Europe.

83 AIG March 1, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Isolationism isn’t the same thing as not intervening in lost causes.

84 anomdebus March 1, 2016 at 3:21 pm
85 Bob from Ohio March 1, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Ah, Larry Summers.

“In 1999, he succeeded Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury. ” “Summers rejoined public service during the Obama administration, serving as the Director of the White House United States National Economic Council for President Barack Obama from January 2009 until November 2010” wikipedia

Democrat does not like Trump. I look forward to Codi Rice’s analysis of Clinton.

86 Bob from Ohio March 1, 2016 at 3:26 pm


87 ohwilleke March 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm

#4 I can think of few countries that I’d be more inclined to trust with nuclear weapons than Japan and few other countries have more justification for having them with Russia, China and North Korea all at their doorstep.

88 Cooper March 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm

If Japan goes nuclear, China will respond in kind by increasing its nuclear arsenal. That makes South Korea, Vietnam, the Phillipnes, etc. uneasy.

We don’t want an arms race in East Asia. It can easily spiral out of control.

89 A Definite Beta Guy March 1, 2016 at 9:23 pm

China won’t increase its nuclear arsenal. The nuclear arsenal is meant as a minimal deterrent, not a warfighting force. They don’t increase their arsenal and they border Russia, which is way more dangerous than Japan.

90 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 10:58 pm

How did it go last time Japan started on a military buildup? Granted, there’s a big difference between a nuclear deterrent and massive buildup of conventional arms, but considering that Japan has continuously been unable to look historical truth in the eye like the Germans and say “Holy smokes! We did that. NEVER AGAIN!” … I think there is reason for suspicion. Add to that that Japanese, while outwardly very polite, are internally very racist (I haven’t experienced this first hand, but I believe that just about anyone who has spent time in Japan basically understands this to be true). Having said that, it is easy to understand why the Japanese, much like Iran, might like a defensive deterrent of, say, a few hundred nukes (not that I believe this would necessarily make the world a safer place on average).

91 Spotted Toad March 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm

The phrase “white suprematism” is thrown around these days more than it should be, but it accurately describes an active and substantial portion of Trump’s support. I imagine he personally is no more racist than most politicians, but he has successfully tapped into a rich vein of racist anger and the genie isn’t getting back in the bottle.

92 Dan in Euroland March 1, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Homophily is found in many settings. As Alesina et al point out, it is a likely cause of the lower welfare state in this US: http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/alesina/files/423__0332-alesina11.pdf

93 Art Deco March 1, 2016 at 7:01 pm

but it accurately describes an active and substantial portion of Trump’s support.

Define the objects of contemporary ‘white supremacists”.

94 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 11:20 pm

If I understand correctly, and please feel free to improve upon this, but I think the following are basically common features: a) a belief that white people are genetically superior to all non-white groups, b) a belief that the laws of the jungle are the correct way to do things (the strong shall rule the weak), c) a willingness to use violence to achieve their political objectives, d) a refusal to acknowledge that anything about colonialism and any negative effect whatsoever on any non-European group, e) a refusal to acknowledge that existing racism has any negative effect whatsoever on any group.

But most especially a) and b).

I consider this as completely separate from the notion that white people may wish to identify collectively and work towards their mutual group interest, having observed that some other groups are doing the same. I wish we could get past all the identity politics bullshit, but for the fact of existing racism, I do believe that certain minorities have good cause to organize politically to overcome their challenges (whether they are adopting any sensible strategies whatsoever to these ends is an altogether different question).

I also consider this as entirely different from the run of the mill racism, which is sometimes simply rooted in discomfort with different people being around and a traditionally conservative sort of stance against social change. There`s a big difference between “Indians smell funny because they eat too much curry and therefore I don’t like them in my apartment building” and “Perhaps this group is a waste of air”.

Contrary views?

95 asdf March 2, 2016 at 12:52 am

a) White people have higher IQs and lower clannishness then NAMs (Asians are a whole other story). This is a scientific fact beyond debate at this point.

b) Actually, white people are unique in having formed one of the few cultures where that hasn’t been true, for whatever short an amount of time. It is true that most NAM societies and even NAM minorities within white countries operate under this “law of the jungle”. A big part of wanting to keep NAMs out is to maintain the higher liberal norms white society has achieved, norms that will be exponentially degraded as NAMs increase as a % of the population. I think you get confused here because in order to preserve liberal values you do need to defend your society from non-liberal invaders.

c) Actually, keeping NAMs out is a way to prevent violence. At a small scale by preventing things like riots and crime, but on a large scale because once NAMs become the majority it will probably lead to large scale conflict down the line. Third world immigration practically guarantees mass violence, whereas keeping them out prevents it.

d) Everyone knows what colonialism was like. However, its not hard to see that high IQ races (like Asians) have managed to overcome colonialism and low IQ races (like Africans) haven’t. This is true in their own native countries and in various countries around the world where they are minorities.

e) I’m not sure what the effect of existing racism is. From the evidence I’ve reviewed I think IQ differences are the main cause of disparate impact in performance. I don’t think anyone thinks nature/nurture has been decided 100% in either direction, and that goes beyond just race to the whole debate more generally.

Within the west I believe that we are net racist against whites, at least as far as most of our large institutions are concerned (affirmative action, political correctness, etc).

96 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 9:30 am

a) The facts relate to average outcomes on standardized tests, which can be explained by many factors other than genes. The way you portray it is not a “scientific fact”.

b) Sure, let’s be proud that we’ve moved well beyond the law of the jungle. We should not stop remembering what an achievement this is.

c) At manageable immigration rates, there is no reason to believe that foreigners contribute in any meaningful way to additional violence.

d) Check “Guns, Germs and Steel” for dozens of explanations for what you discuss. Also, Asian countries had millennia of experience in central administration, something not shared with the portion of humanity trapped on the wrong side of the Sahara, excluded from all exchange of goods and knowledge that flowed freely (but slowly) across Eurasia.

e) Indeed, the nature vs. nurture debate is not settled. Somewhere in the middle seems like the reasonable conclusion, like most things which are not, well, black and white matters.

The notion that whites experience more racism than others is pretty odd though. Have you ever been pulled over for being white? How many unarmed non-threatening white people are shot by US cops each year?

97 asdf March 2, 2016 at 1:41 pm

a) I’ve examined the explanatory factors other then genes and found them wanting. I think the evidence strongly points to there being a non-substantial genetic difference and I believe that with a pretty high probability of likelihood given the evidence.

b) Yes, we shouldn’t. That’s why we shouldn’t let the jungle back in.

c) Just about every per capita crime stat across the world is dominated by NAMs.

d) I’ve read “Guns, Germs, and Steel”. It’s a shoddy work that starts with its conclusion at the very beginning and then finds evidence to support it while filtering out anything that disagrees with the starting thesis. There is a reason he stops looking at evidence after a certain point.

Moreover, if you understood his thesis its self refuting. He states that people in different environments evolved differently (for instance, disease resistance and digestive adaptations), but then strangely says that stopped at the neck. Being a part of a civilized country affected China at a genetic level. For thousands of years those not adapted to society were weeded out, and those adapted to society had higher fertility. This is part of why there is a genetic difference between the races.

If the selection pressures are strong enough, evolution can happen over 1,000 years. That sucks for equalizes though, because:
1) 1,000 years is a long time to wait for equality
2) It implies strong selection pressures (i.e. lots of people dying of natural causes).

Or as Steve Sailer summed up:

“Diamond makes environmental differences [among the continents] seem so compelling that it’s hard to believe that humans would not become somewhat adapted to their homelands through natural selection.”

If you want to understand why Native Americans died of diseases G,G,&S is great. If you want to know anything about evolution above the neck its terrible.

e) It doesn’t have to be settled to the decimal point to know that a standard deviation in IQ is too great to be explained away by environment, especially given that all the work trying to use environment has come up empty.

I got beat up at school for being white. I had my charter school sued seven times for being too Asian and Jewish (no NAMs, couldn’t pass the math test). My mother and best friend were harass by educational administrators and town officials for applying to that evil racist school.

During the riots my city was burned and looted by blacks. I know people who were attacked for being white.

98 asdf March 2, 2016 at 2:18 pm

non-substantial = not insubstantial

99 Yeah March 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm

The Summers article only made me question whether Summers represents most Americans. I don’t understand why we should view Trump’s foreign policy in Asia as bad for Americans, or at least ordinary Americans. So maybe the TPP collapses-is that a really big deal? Trump is arguing that our defending Japan is not worth the costs. Where does Summers counter this argument?

100 Yeah March 1, 2016 at 4:34 pm


101 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 11:28 pm

It’s the ultra ultra long-run game. For example, if China takes Taiwan, how long until they are running routine airforce reconnaisance missions near Hawaii? Whether this is a rational view or not might be debated. I don’t see why there should not be open debate about this question, but given the current quality of political debate, I am not optimistic that rationality would win the day. Too many voters would easily abandon long-term strategic thinking for a $2 an hour pay raise (perhaps more than offset by inflation?) resulting from banning or taxing foreign competition.

102 Ted Craig March 1, 2016 at 4:05 pm

6. Why am I supposed to care about the take on current events from somebody who boasts that he doesn’t follow the news?


103 Yeah March 1, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I agree that US influence over the world matters. Trump seems to favor, not isolationism, but different ideas on how to influence-meaning either standing down or, if necessary, nakedly asserting power. The problem with the criticism of this so far from our foreign policy establishment is that they only present the downside of less soft power while ignoring the potential upsides of being willing, if necessary, to act brazenly.

104 Axa March 1, 2016 at 5:05 pm

#1 perfect way to keep the nuclear power costs down: do not take into account plant decommission costs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_decommissioning

105 JWatts March 1, 2016 at 10:12 pm

I’m not sure what your point is. From the article you linked: “In USA many utility estimates now average $325 million per reactor all-up (1998 $).”

So, it would take roughly $40 billion to mothball all 120 US nuclear reactors. For comparison, the US currently spends $7.3 billion per year on Renewable energy subsidies. All of our renewables combined don’t generate 1/4th the electricity that our nuclear reactors do.

106 Axa March 2, 2016 at 9:37 am

325 million of 1998 USD is getting closer to 500 million of today’s dollars and that’s just plant decommissioning. There’s also the issue of long-term waste storage. Decommissioning and waste storage cost can be as significant as building a new plant.

There’s no long-term nuclear waste storage facility in the US. In France, feasibility studies are being done to store nuclear waste in the Paris sedimentary basin. The question is the same in the US and France how probable is a nuclear waste leak and reaching groundwater? I’m optimist. There’s lots of people around the world working on the long-term storage problem. A solution will be found but until that moment, perhaps it’s good to stay with present capacity. Why grow today when there are still unsolved management problems?

I don’t know why you frame the situation as “nuclear Vs renewables” when natural gas is abundant and cheap. At least with natural gas you don’t have to worry about geological time periods where the deep nuclear waste storage can get closer to the surface due to erosion or natural rock fracturing can make rocks more permeable.

107 carlolspln March 3, 2016 at 12:02 am

“A solution will be found…”

I laughed.

108 The Anti-Gnostic March 1, 2016 at 5:59 pm

If Trump is elected president over steady-at-the-tiller Hillary Clinton, then Syria, Libya and Iraq will devolve into chaos, sending waves of refugees into Europe and threatening to draw in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia into a potentially theater-wide conflict.

109 Viking March 1, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Thread winner!

110 JWatts March 1, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Needs more Asian action.

If Trump is elected China will invade the Phillipines, nuke Japan and buy up all the coastal property of Australia, forcing Australians into a Mad Max like existence deep in the interior. …. And Mauna Loa will explode!

111 Ex-Pralite Monk March 1, 2016 at 6:40 pm

I am voting for Trump. American handled a black president. Now it’s time for an orange president.

112 JWatts March 1, 2016 at 10:16 pm

So, it’s down to Trump or Boehner, eh?

113 Albert March 1, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Anybody who thinks that the Canadian healthcare system is good needs to have their head examined..

17 hours wait time in Emergency rooms. Months waiting to see a specialist for things like cancer. Years for orthopedic treatment, so on and so forth…

114 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 11:47 pm

If you highlight extreme cases and claim them as the norm, things will always look pretty bad.

Last time I was in emergency, I was through in under an hour for a fairly deep knick just under the knee. It was not life threatening. Waits of 2-3 hours are common, and 6 hours are not unheard of if you show up at emergency with a flu or cough. Yes, there are instances of problems.

Cancer patients average 3.5 weeks from diagnosis to radiation. I know someone who has had a non-malignant tumour operated on three times, each time with less than one month from doctor’s appointment to diagnostics and surgery.

It takes an average of 40 weeks to see an orthopedic surgeon (not years), but you can easily go from doctor’s appointment and X-ray to pain killer prescription within the week. Most doctors have appointments for the same or next day if you are flexible, radiology clinics usually have an appointment available within a day or two, and at your first appointment you set the second appointment for 2 days after the X-rays.

It is not perfect, but you could hardly exaggerate the existing problems of wait times to a greater degree.

115 Dain March 1, 2016 at 8:28 pm

“…flirted with the Ku Klux Klan”

What complete garbage. He failed to respond adequately to someone else pointing out to him that some guy he has no association with said something positive about him.

Obama OTOH more than flirted with an actual terrorist, Bill Ayers, but the Obama presidency hasn’t been a disaster.

These startled and terrified pieces from the think tank crowd make me laugh.

116 Mark Bahner March 1, 2016 at 11:47 pm

“He failed to respond adequately to someone else pointing out to him that some guy he has no association with said something positive about him.”

I think his exact words regarding David Duke were, “I just don’t know anything about him.”

If he truly is so ignorant, it doesn’t speak well for him being President. But it was actually simply another Donald Trump lie:

Another Donald Trump lie

117 Nathan W March 1, 2016 at 11:57 pm

He attacks Mexicans as rapists and dealers, and will not stand down from the generalization. He attacks Muslims, and wants to bar them from the country. He attacks the Pope without half a thought about it.

But, he needs to think long and hard before he expresses an opinion about his KKK supporters, claiming zero knowledge of people he made public statements about a decade ago.

What words would you use to describe Trump’s tacit enabling of KKK et al., for the fact of refusing to so much as wag his finger at them?

118 ivvenalis March 1, 2016 at 10:12 pm

1. France, Japan, and South Korea all had or have ulterior motives for building nuclear reactors, and the latter two are ethnostates whose governments can do whatever they want domestically about Greenpeace types, up to and including putting them in front of a firing squad if they thought it was necessary. Canada’s example is interesting, I will admit.

4. Maybe if Summers acted more like Trump, he’d still be the President of Harvard or at least have retired on his own terms instead of having had to tuck his tail between his legs and scurry away because some vaporish harridan swooned when he emitted a plausibly true statement re: sexual dimorphism in humans. As the kids say nowadays, what a cuck.

If Japan thinks they need nuclear weapons, they should build them. The same goes for South Korea, and Taiwan. Do the Taiwanese really believe that Obama would nuke a Chinese invasion fleet? Why should they leave such a decision in the hands of a foreign power anyway?

5. I like how they still get the same privileges afforded to the descendants of slaves.

119 Ray Lopez March 1, 2016 at 10:32 pm

+1, I generally agree with your comments, though Japan is barred by its constitution and Summers as president at Harvard had little actual power I Imagine.

Your name however reminds me of an anti-tick, anti-mite medication I use here for controlling insect vectors on humans handling poultry (they don’t call them “FOWL” for nothing).

120 Graham Palmer March 1, 2016 at 11:20 pm

“ulterior motives” ?

All of the weapons states developed weapons before civilian reactors. Civilian nuclear was a spin-off from the military R&D, not the other way around. Japan and Korea have no weapons but went nuclear because they have no natural resources, want a degree of energy security (1 reactor typically holds a year of fuel, reliable western fuel suppliers), and want clear air in population dense countries.

121 ivvenalis March 2, 2016 at 12:10 am

Obviously nuclear power plants produce energy, which is great. But don’t kid yourself that it isn’t a dual-use technology. The specific accusation here is that one of the key steps in the production of nuclear weapons is the extraction and purification of plutonium from spent reactor fuel, and building nuclear power plants gives them the material they need to do it. South Korea has definitely been caught making sure they know how to perform this particular trick. As for Japan, in 2014 they agreed to turn over to the USA 700 pounds of reprocessed plutonium which they possess because, you see, they just can’t quite seem to get their national nuclear fuel cycle quite balanced.

Also, the presence of a nuclear power industry gives these countries the know-how required to safely produce and handle nuclear materials on an industrial scale, in addition to an excuse to import and stockpile partially-enriched uranium (or in Japan’s case, actual weapons grade material) as well as to train nuclear physicists, engineers, and technicians.

122 Graham Palmer March 2, 2016 at 12:56 am

Agree the issue is complex and fraught. No weapon has been produced with civilian grade Pu239, although people still debate about a couple of US tests in the 60s and the technical definition of ‘reactor grade’. The main determinant is intent, witness North Korea and Israel. Consider Japan. Nuclear provides a degree of energy security unavailable from fleets of LNG tankers sailing up the South and East China Sea. The attack on Pearl Harbour to secure the Dutch East Indies was an outcome of the US oil embargo.

123 Ray Lopez March 1, 2016 at 10:29 pm

@#1 – nuclear power costs lower in other countries–was very disappointed by this article. I’m pro-nuclear energy for next-gen systems, but the article failed to point out how other countries have lower safety standards, hence promoting current generation nuclear power. In Japan the technicians mix nuclear materials in plastic bucket (not as crazy as it sounds, since these materials don’t give off radiation that much unless at critical densities, but very un-kosher for protocol).

124 ChrisA March 1, 2016 at 11:36 pm

Re Nuclear powe, with natural gas at 1.70 per mmbtu, it will never make sense. If anyone really cared about the threat of AGW all coal fired plants would be outlawed. You could do this in 5 years with bat gas fired plants easily. And the cost of the electricity would be likely be lower.

125 Ronald Brak March 2, 2016 at 3:12 am

1. Once the effects of subsides are removed, the United States has had Power Purchase Agreements made for under 4 cents a kilowatt-hour for wind, and under 6 cents for solar. New nuclear in the United States appears to require a price of around 15 cents or more per kilowatt-hour to be built. So new nuclear is not going to be built anywhere there is a functioning electricity market. And no one wants to sink money into building enough new reactors in the hope of getting their cost below that of new renewables, which is a moving target anyway. Currently the majority of new generating capacity built in the United States is renewable and as both wind and solar generation are very bad for the economics of high capital, low fuel cost generating capacity such as coal and nuclear, the more renewable capacity that is built, the worse the economics of new nuclear gets.

126 Mike March 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm

#4. “It is that he is running as modern day man on a horseback—demagogically offering the power of his personality as a magic solution to all problems—and making clear that he is prepared to run roughshod over anything or anyone who stands in his way.” Or as Obama put it, “I have a pen and a phone.” (try to stop me). ACA passed, guess what – executive decision to suspend employer mandate for a couple years. And how it passed looked very much like “running roughshod” over almost all legislative precedent. Overreaching recess appointments, extra-legal EPA restrictions to put an end to coal power without any check or balance, and the list goes on of how those on the right would view Obama the same way. Further developing the point Summers says, “What will a demagogue with a platform like Trump’s who ascends to the presidency do with control over the NSA, FBI and IRS?” Again, Obama has had no little amount of scandal involving political dirty tricks at the IRS especially and accusations of abusive NSA policies. This is exactly the kind of concern we should have regardless of who is running for office. We should worry more about the growing tyrannical power of the office than who the occupant is. Trump could be a disaster and he scares the dickens out of me. However, you can’t blame those who think they just got run over by a train for 8 years when they go hop on their own train. (Is there a Trump train yet? Has to be. And I bet it is amazing, fastest ever, most beautiful…) Those on the left need to call out their leaders when they are exercising power that would frighten them if wielded by those on the right. And vice versa. Welcome to the “scared of executive power” team….

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: