Saturday assorted links

by on March 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 JK Brown March 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm

” through out information”?

2 Thiago Ribeiro March 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

From the verb to through

3 rayward March 18, 2017 at 12:54 pm

1. Actually, Avent says nothing about the social safety net; indeed, he follows the sentence quoted by Cowen with a summary of these factors: an abundance of labor, downward pressure on wages, disincentive to invest in labor saving technology (because labor is cheap), labor’s loss of bargaining power, and a misfiring economy due to concentrations of income and wealth. Did Cowen even read the piece or did he just pick out the sentence he liked even though it had nothing to do with Avent’s thesis?

4 peri March 18, 2017 at 1:44 pm

I read more than the first paragraph for once. Though he didn’t elaborate, his very last sentence references “thin safety nets” that keep people from taking their job and shoving it.

5 peri March 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

I have unusually sustained attention today. I think it’s because I’m hangry and waiting on someone. Video game article: “The depression is the problem, Ashley says, not the games, but the hours he spends playing at Pro Evolution Soccer are making things worse.”

Long ago, my great aunt – who did not know a life of ease – gave me a little ring-bound recipe book printed up by her High Prairie Improvement Society (“… organized in December 1932 at the High Prairie schoolhouse. The club motto is ‘NEVER FAIL TO TRY’. The club color is blue. Each member through the years has tried to live up to the club motto. we enjoy our club and have many good times such as: picnics, ladies day out, Christmas party, and many other activities. We have a devotional at each meeting, a good lesson, and games …”).

Among the Wheaties Coconut Cookies and the Tuna-Biscuit Bake recipes [they’re all sounding good right now], the ladies have strewn bits of wisdom.

My favorite: Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime, and too tired at night.

I don’t care if it’s anti-intellectual, truer words have never been spoken.

There are many ways to be busy – some may be more appealing than others (viz. “accumulating points during long hours at the office”) – but playing video games is not one of them.

6 rayward March 18, 2017 at 12:58 pm

2. The absence of perspective (not just Podhoretz but all of the “intellectuals” – left and right) is suffocating. I sometimes criticize the navel gazers on college campuses, but Podhoretz and his ilk have no peers when it comes to navel gazing.

7 Art Deco March 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Who counts as his ‘ilk’?

8 Art Deco March 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Cucks like me!

9 Art Deco March 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

I agree!

10 Thiago Ribeiro March 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm

#2 I don’t understand what is wrong with pastrami…

11 The Cuckmeister-General March 18, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Shut up you cuck!

12 Thiago Ribeiro March 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm


13 Art Deco March 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Cucks like us SHOULD shut up

14 Thiago Ribeiro March 18, 2017 at 2:53 pm


15 Riche Bourgeois March 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm

All hail, puppeteers!

16 Art Deco March 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Yes, we should.

17 ant1900 March 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm

A) One of the best assorted links I’ve ever read here. Avent 1B in particular is great.

B) The Meals on Wheels thing – I hate everything about it. The unstated major premise that the federal government should be subsidizing a popular charity. The status quo bias in “if you make any cuts to X, then you are attacking Y.” No sense of purportion. The bad reporting and the clickbait headlines. If there’s one little vignette that better illustrates how screwed we are as a nation, I’d like to hear your nomination.

C) Reading both Cowen and Levine, it’s obvious to me Levine has been heavily influenced by Cowen’s​blogging style. If you aren’t reading Levine you need to start. He’s an impressive combination of legal and financial expertise.

18 Anonymous March 18, 2017 at 5:39 pm

MoW is supposed to net-net reduce state costs on more expensive social and medical spending. If that is true, I choose the savings. I can do that without checking my mood or affiliation.

19 Cliff March 19, 2017 at 12:39 am

Obviously you didn’t read the article, then

20 Anonymous March 19, 2017 at 9:50 am

I had read the article, the day before even.

ant1900 makes a separate claim, that we should exclude the category called “charity” from public spending. If the government does things like Medicare for seniors and MoW reduces net costs, should we really say “oh no, we can’t because one is charity?”

I think not. We should accomplish the goal (a safety net for seniors) as efficiently as possible.

21 Lonely libertarian March 19, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Last I checked Medicare was paid for – at least in part by taxes and premiums…
MOW is a charity…
A really good one in many ways…
Should have NO problem getting contributions from the intellectual idiots like Bezos, Schultz, Cook, Mrs Jobs et al…

22 The Other Jim March 18, 2017 at 7:24 pm

>The bad reporting and the clickbait headlines.

This, more than anything, is how we got Trump.

Given that CNN, NYT, WaPo and others are doubling down on the strategy… I suppose they want more Trump. Who are we to say no?

23 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 18, 2017 at 7:48 pm
24 The Other Jim March 18, 2017 at 9:10 pm


Thanks for proving my point, Spanky.

25 Cliff March 19, 2017 at 12:40 am

Sadly it shows nothing of the sort

26 The Cuckmeister-General March 19, 2017 at 9:10 am

It does however show that you are a cuckold!

27 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 19, 2017 at 11:01 am

Polarization is driven by believing fringe, but especially false, things. That link was about that process. There is more here:

But I tell ya, watch out for “we finally got one” in politics. After years of genuine authentic fake news “we finally got one” when Twitter is wrong for a few hours.

Like that’s the same as denying Obama’s citizenship for years.

Conservative fake news flourishes because of the right-wing media infrastructure — both mainstream and fringe — that has been cultivated for over a decade. A vast constellation of fake news-purveying websites have long lived in the dark corners of the internet, and mainstream conservative news outlets have fomented a toxic alternate reality in which venomous lies can and do thrive — neither of which the left has.

Don’t pretend “we finally got one” actually balances those books.

28 ChrisA March 19, 2017 at 2:50 am

Not being snarky, but isn’t Avent’s point just the old lump of labour fallacy warmed over? He doesn’t explain why this form of automation is different to the other forms that have being going on since the start of the IR. Sure it is more services and less manufacturing, but the peak manufacturing work force was only 12.5% of the workforce;
Current is about 5%, could this change in the circumstances of 6 or 7% of the workforce really be driving the whole economy?

I think the real explanation for flat lining wages is somewhere else, it is basically three combined things, first the fact that workers are taking their compensation in non-monetary ways, workplaces are much cleaner, safer, less stressful and easier than say 30 years ago. Manual labour is just a horrible way to earn a living, and I surely would be happy to give up some wages if I could avoid it. Secondly there is better sorting of people, the lack of median wage growth is partly due to a flattening of the curve, some people are earning less and some others are earning more. The better sorting is partly better systems of management (it is much easier to measure output now) and partly due to education growth. It used to be very difficult to differentiate between people at hiring when all the vast majority of people had was a high school diploma. Now a larger fraction of people are automatically ranking themselves by degree and by college. Finally social insurance has vastly improved since say the 1970’s. This consists of various government assistance like medicaid, but also employer offered insurances. This all is valuable even if not counted in wages, and the money eventually has to come from somewhere.

29 rayward March 18, 2017 at 1:11 pm

3. What produces complacency more than sameness; if Trump can be credited with making America great again, more than anyone Ray Kroc can be credited with making America the same, everywhere. Indeed, the McDonald’s operating is dedicated to making food look and taste the same everywhere one went. Kroc wasn’t about creativity, he was about destroying creativity. But who cares about hamburgers. Now wines are being infected by the sameness disease. We are really in trouble now!

30 prior_test2 March 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

The poor we will always have with us, but the devil makes work for idle hands – sounds as good an explanation for such an article of faith as 1.

31 Sandia March 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm

So, Meals on Wheels. Of the entire GDP, which are the things that must be provided outside of private markets? Why? Being a “good” or something that someone wants describes the entire GDP by definition, so that doesn’t cut it. Universal Income of some type takes away all this kind of necessity to decide.

32 Jason Bayz March 18, 2017 at 3:54 pm

1. “This is a critical point. People ask: if robots are stealing all the jobs then why is employment at record highs? ”

Answer is easy: it’s not.

“But imagine what would happen if someone unveiled a robot tomorrow which could do the work of 30% of the workforce. Employment wouldn’t fall 30%, because while some of the displaced workers might give up on work and drop out of the labour force, most couldn’t: they need the money. They would seek out other work, glutting HR offices and employment centres and placing downward pressure on the wage companies need to offer to fill a job: until wages fall to such a low level that people do give up on work entirely, drop out of the labour force, and live on whatever family resources they have available, or until it becomes economical to hire people to do very low productivity work — serving as the fifth landscape worker on the household staff of a very rich tech magnate, for example.”

If 30% of the labor was replaced, most of those people would remain employed, some transitioned into other roles, but many just sitting there and not creating any value, surfing Facebook or pushing paper across a desk. Or, redistribute the work around the firm so that people are employed for ~40 hours a week but are only actually working 26 of those hours. Is it economically efficient? No, and yet it pretty clearly exists, just try asking a random group of workers(ideally after they’ve had some alcohol) how many hours at their job, if any, they spend creating any real value. People ask how predictions of automation causing unemployment are different from those in 1950, well, in 1950, you would have gotten a very different answer.

33 Slocum March 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

“But imagine what would happen if someone unveiled a robot tomorrow which could do the work of 30% of the workforce.”

But this has already happened. Many times (though never over night — it doesn’t happen that way). The agricultural workforce is dramatically smaller than it once was. The same is true for domestic servants. And manufacturing. And secretaries, clerks, and bank-tellers (Bartleby is no longer a scrivener). And yet the economy repeatedly finds alternative uses for the displaced labor.

34 Joan March 19, 2017 at 6:23 am

The industrial revolution reduced both the fraction of the population that ” worked” as well as the number of hours in a work week.

35 The Cuckmeister-General March 19, 2017 at 9:08 am

Well Cucked my friend. WINK!

36 P Burgos March 20, 2017 at 12:52 am

Autor’s work on how trade with China has impacted employment in the U.S. would seem to indicate that when it becomes economical to replace a large percentage of the workforce with some other mode of production, employment and labor force participation do fall in ways that are socially disruptive.

37 Daniel Weber March 20, 2017 at 11:27 am

“if robots are stealing all the jobs then why is employment at record highs? ”

Answer is easy: it’s not.

Avent presents this fact unsupported near the end of his essay. What does he mean? It’s certainly not the employment ratio. Does he mean total employment? I hope not, because that would be a useless fact.

38 EmanuelNoriega March 18, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Who here doesn’t care from whom his hamburger is made only if it is broiled to perfection over flames of hatred?

The reality is that Tyler is big on acting Kek-y.

39 Matthew Young March 18, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Pizza delivery works.
I am a queue watcher, and check these food delivery businesses. Only pizza and Chinese have consistently survived.

40 Lonely libertarian March 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Sandwich – sub shops do more delivering than Chinese in our neck of the woods…

41 Cornflour March 18, 2017 at 5:15 pm

number 4: short interview, not review

42 Anonymous March 18, 2017 at 5:43 pm

Item 1 made a lot of sense to me. Consider Costco again, how it succeeded, multiplied its own worker productivity, while (by the mechanism described) reducing the workers delivering a lot of goods. There is much less labor intensity in stocking households than 40 years ago.

43 Some Guy March 18, 2017 at 6:17 pm

#2: Good example of regression to the mean. Norman Podhoretz was a super smart guy. His son, on the other hand, is a loathsome idiot.

44 Art Deco March 19, 2017 at 1:56 pm

No, not particularly good example. Norman Podhoretz was a capable editor. He’s not been a producer of much of interest except perhaps literary criticism which was penned 50 years ago or more. He’s quite extensively educated at tony schools, but less so than English professors of his generation, whom you’d seldom call ‘super smart’.

His son is neither loathsome nor (bar in the imaginations of palaeos who fancy themselves erudite) an idiot. It’s just that his son’s forte is as a book reviewer and not many people have ever been able to earn a living doing that. His parents have used their influence to carve out a career for him in topical commentary and editing, for which he has not much aptitude. That was not doing him any favors. His sister Naomi is a more perspicacious writer; however, she saw fit to get out of that business about 20 years ago and works for a PR firm. His other (surviving) sister is a newspaper reporter, but in Israel. J-Pod would have been better off in some other endeavour.

45 Tyler Fan March 18, 2017 at 6:21 pm

It’s not mood affiliation to be opposed to cutting CBDG (and by extension MOW) for the sake of a $50B increase in military-industrial complex spending. Or to find the attitude of a Mick Mulvaney distasteful.
Personally, I find the scrapping of the NASA mission to put the $10 quintillion asteroid into earth orbit the most offensive recent spending reprioritization.

46 Thomas March 18, 2017 at 10:42 pm

If you read the article you would know that CBDG provides very little of MOW budget, AND you would know that the Mulvaney quote is out of context fake news.

47 Troll me March 19, 2017 at 4:24 am

It strikes me as possible that people who are always complaining about fake news, but never providing specifics, let alone corrective facts, are full of baloney.

48 Tyler Fan March 19, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Thomas I know that and not just from reading the article. And if you didn’t struggle with logical inferences so much you would know the fact that MOW isn’t going to be decimated by the CBDG cut has zero bearing on the question of whether we should be cutting CBDG/MOW for the sake of a $50B increase in military spending.

49 Thomas March 18, 2017 at 10:40 pm

#6. The left is fighting to save this spending and CFPB and NEA and Planned Parenthood spending because it is a slush fund paid to the left. Pay for meals on wheels with grants to churches, pay for CFPB with grants to right wing radio hosts, put anti-islamists and economic conservatives in charge at NEA, pay for conservative and non-partisan hospitals to perform women’s health. Suddenly, the left won’t care about hungry old people, the ‘need’ for free-of-charge media, ‘seeding young artists’, and providing pap smears. All of these supposed reasons to support these programs are lies and simply changing to befeciary of these handouts to conservatives makes that obvious.

50 Troll me March 19, 2017 at 4:30 am

Is laughing while old pepole go hungry a right wing kind of thing?

51 Harun March 19, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Don’t forget ACA navigators, too.

52 Harun March 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

People may think this comment is insane. Before you do, realize the DOJ forced banks to send some of their agreed upon penalty fees to La Raza. Why would the state do that? It makes no sense except as some sort of political shakedown.

When I pay my traffic ticket, if they attempted to have 20% go to the NRA, we’d see outrage. So, why is La Raza being funded by financial regulatory penalties?

53 Harun March 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Of course, it doesn’t have to go direct to the NRA. Instead we could have it go to “firearm safety programs” that happen to be contracted to the NRA. Follow the money.

54 Art Deco March 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Agreed, it’s patron-client building. Groceries are a frequently replenished set of commodities for which taste and amenity are crucial. You don’t need to subsidize them. If you’re concerned about the real incomes of the old, you can add a tax credit or a small increment to Social Security. As for the providing culinary services, this is a niche welfare service well suited to philanthropy or to local government. No need for federal involvement.

55 Kevin Postlewaite March 18, 2017 at 10:49 pm

#5 It’s pretty clear that the author doesn’t understand how recommender systems work and that some people with poor taste over-rating a movie should not impact the predicted rating (recommender systems try to match your ratings with other users’ ratings to infer the rating for an unrated item, so over-rating is only a problem if the target user also over-rates).

56 Mark March 19, 2017 at 1:09 pm

1. Avent seems incoherent: The digital revolution caused low labour costs. But low labour costs caused firms to stop investing in technology. I think there are too many over-generalizations in his piece and they’re bumping into one another.

57 P Burgos March 20, 2017 at 12:55 am

I think a baseline for those sorts of articles on technological change and employment should be the inclusion of a detailed history of how this has played out in a particular industry and a particular location.

58 Harun March 19, 2017 at 1:16 pm

I’d like to know how many people intrigued by the dynamic difficulty part of video games imagined offering those less fortunate the lower difficulty setting, instead of offering the high skilled more acclaim for beating the game at Very Hard or whatnot.

I think the government should be checking out ways to do reward high taxpaying in a public way to encourage it. Example: I’ve been in a factory office in China where they proudly showed the appreciation plaques from the government saying “this business paid 1 million RMB in taxes.” A plaque is pretty cheap. Its like uncking an achievement.

Taxpayers should be present at the SOTU and honored. We could recognize them in other ways as well. Be creative.

59 Harun March 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Also, I wonder if employers could learn more about achievement / satisfaction. Why does it work in fantasy but not at the workplace? (Sales goals gold stickers, minor incentives, etc. seem cheesy?)

60 SPENCER March 20, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Meals on wheels –What happened to the republican claims that decisions like this are made better at the lower level of government. Local governments are making a decision that part of the block grant should be spent on the elderly.

So why should the federal government now decide that they are wrong?

61 Peldrigal March 21, 2017 at 9:19 am

“Decisions are better made at a lower level of government” usually means “Decisions are better made at the level of government my party is in charge of”

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