The dystopia of Malcolm Harris

by on November 14, 2017 at 1:56 am in Books, Economics, Education | Permalink

He is the author of the new and interesting Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials.  Most of the book is about millennials as the generation that invests in itself.  Towards the end he lays out a somewhat separate discussion of what a future dystopia might look like, I am very briefly summarizing his seven points, noting that some of the headings are my rewordings:

1. The equitization of human capital.  This will start out as “win-win” transactions, but eventually will become “subprime human capital.”

2. The professionalization of childhood.  Kids will start preparing for fairly specific and very locked-in careers at quite young ages, and find it difficult to deviate later on.

3. “Climate privilege.”  The ability to live somewhere insulated from most of the costs of climate change will become a major marker of class and privilege.

4. Discrimination by algorithm.

5. “The Malfunctioning.”  “America will need institutions for people who just can’t make it….I don’t think this will be “funemployment” of a guaranteed minimum income.  It’s more likely to be an unholy combination of mental asylum and work camp.”

6. Misogynist backlash.

7. Fully tracked.  The “data self” will increasingly approach the “real self.”

Worth a ponder.

1 dan1111 November 14, 2017 at 2:07 am

#2 I’d be interested to know what he sees as evidence for this. To me it appears the opposite is true. People wait to decide on a career longer then ever before, with many college graduates still not sure of what they want to do. Also, there appears to be a lot less career lock in than in the past, with many people going in new directions later in life.

Also I would think his description has been true for most of history, with modernity being the only significant break in the pattern.

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2 dan1111 November 14, 2017 at 2:10 am

I have a similar objection to #5, where current society seems about the least likely of all time to be willing to put people in “an unholy combination of mental asylum and work camp.”

Obviously he’s predicting this for the future, rather than describing the present. But I’m not sure how we get there, or why.

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3 Dbltap November 14, 2017 at 2:17 am

The US prison system could be accurately described as “an unholy combination of mental asylum and work camp.”.

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4 clockwork_prior November 14, 2017 at 2:18 am

Pretty much.

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5 msgkings November 14, 2017 at 3:12 am

+1

Are not jails pretty much “institutions for people who just can’t make it….”?

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6 TMC November 14, 2017 at 8:45 am

Correct. They are NOT. Not making it and criminal activity are two way different things. Conflating the two does more harm than good.

7 msgkings November 14, 2017 at 9:47 am

There are more ways to ‘not make it’ than just one, but being a criminal is certainly one of the ways. I’m not assigning blame, which mostly accrues to the criminal, but those folks did not make it. Some folks don’t make it without going to jail of course. And some don’t make it and end up in jail. Jails are chock full of people who didn’t make it. A jail is indeed an institution (it is) for people (it is) who just can’t make it (regardless of reason, most of those people can’t). Where else would many of those types end up?

8 dan1111 November 14, 2017 at 3:15 am

Well…maybe. I’m sure the prison system could use improvement. However, on a global-historical perspective, current prison conditions in the U.S. are very good. There doesn’t seem to be a tend toward bad conditions.

Some people may argue that the current high level of imprisonment is turning prison into the destination for people who can’t make it in society, though. I don’t want to completely discount this argument, but I’m not fully on board with it either.

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9 clockwor_prior November 14, 2017 at 4:14 am

‘However, on a global-historical perspective, current prison conditions in the U.S. are very good.’

Debatable in a way, but sure, for most prisoners, most of the time, better than historical norms, though not as good as 1960s in the U.S. (imprisonment conditions in the U.S. have grown worse in the last 5 decades, particularly in comparison to other countries, though of course some nations have not improved prison conditions at all during that time frame). What is not debatable is the historically atypical high number of people imprisoned in the U.S., both from a current global perspective and historically.

And do not forget the interaction with points 4 and 7 in this regard.

10 dan1111 November 14, 2017 at 5:04 am

@prior, all valid points. While it’s not quite my view (to use a Tyler-ism), I can see a case being made in this way to support the author’s point #5.

11 Ted Craig November 14, 2017 at 7:26 am

“imprisonment conditions in the U.S. have grown worse in the last 5 decades”

Have they? After Attica and cases like Gideon, prisoners have many more rights today than they did 50 years ago. They can’t even serve the loaf anymore (https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2016/mar/31/use-nutraloaf-decline-us-prisons/).

There are more people in prison today, but I’m not sure the conditions are worse.

12 clockwork_prior November 14, 2017 at 7:53 am

‘but I’m not sure the conditions are worse’

Depends on one’s perspective, I guess. For example, this Supreme Court decision – ‘Brown v. Plata, 563 U.S. 493 (2011), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States holding that a court-mandated population limit was necessary to remedy a violation of prisoners’ Eighth Amendment constitutional rights. Justice Kennedy filed the majority opinion of the 5 to 4 decision, affirming a decision by a three judge panel of the United States District Court for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California which had ordered California to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity within two years.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Plata

It is worthwhile to actually read the article, and to realize that such conditions are a constitutional violation – and that it took almost a decade until the Supreme Court ruled on the matter, even as the prison population continued to grow. The section https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Plata#Subsequent_developments is particularly interesting for this little detail – ‘All told, prison realignment resulted in the largest drop in California’s prisoner population since Governor Ronald Reagan released 34% of inmates.’ (However, do note that ‘realignment’ meant that California shifted inmates from state run prisons to county run jails.) Of course, as of 2016, one can see the success of a court mandated reduction of to 137.5% of a prison’s designed capacity – ‘Nevertheless, California failed to meet the three-judge court’s deadline and needed to be granted another extension until February 2016.’

Your point about prison reforms is not wrong, of course. But the combination of nutraloaf and supermax did not exactly exist in the 1960s either.

13 Ted Craig November 14, 2017 at 8:15 am

No, but as the European Court of Human Rights pointed out the facilities even at a supermax include “television, radio, newspapers, books and telephone calls.” That’s more than almost all prisons in the 1960s offered. And whatever the latest case the court was slow hearing, it was an additional right. You’re starting out a lot farther from zero.

14 institutionalist November 14, 2017 at 1:26 pm

and so too the public “education” system

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15 dan1111 November 14, 2017 at 2:12 pm

I’m quite critical of public education, but this is silly.

16 albatross November 14, 2017 at 10:58 am

Herrenstein and Murray predicted something like #5 in _The Bell Curve_, as one possible bad future to be avoided. They called it “the custodial state.” Basically, think of a high-tech reservation for the underclass. It’s likely that most of the people subjected to that won’t be economically all that important–maybe nobody will much want to trade with them at all. So maybe they’ll be forced to work to get their benefits, but if so, it will be some kind of make-work to find work for idle hands so they don’t get up to too much trouble.

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17 JonFraz November 14, 2017 at 1:38 pm

There’s no need to herd people into “reservations”, which would encounter constitutional issues. The housing market tends quite naturally to keep the rif-raf out of the good areas– and to the extent that it doesn’t gated communities and HOAs pick up the slack.

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18 celestus November 14, 2017 at 8:58 am

Yeah, the “careers” point is stunningly wrong. At the same time childhood for 20ish percent of the population is professionalized in the sense that its entire purpose is to deliver a well rounded resume to a college, that would have been a better angle.

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19 Engineer November 14, 2017 at 9:29 am

Agree. The “early career lock-in” seems quite rare. One can think of aspiring professional athletes – Olympic gymnasts, tennis players, NBA hopefuls – where serious training begins before 10, the “career” sweet spot is age 15 to 25, and if you are not at least semi-pro level by 18 you are unlikely to ever get there. Perhaps some high end classical musicians fall into the same class.

Childhood track to heart surgeon or plumber – not so much.

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20 FUBAR007 November 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

It seemed fairly obvious to me that he was extrapolating from the “tiger mom”/extreme-overachiever phenomenon among segments of the upper-middle class.

I’m skeptical, however, that will be applied in any kind of wide-scale way down the class structure. I find #5 a far more plausible possibility for the poor, working class, and lower-middle class.

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21 Kevin E. November 14, 2017 at 10:34 am

“Tiger mothers” are mainly Asian immigrants. It hasn’t caught on among White people of any class, and my vague impression is that Asians who have been longtime residents of the United States don’t do it, for instance, the Japanese mostly immigrated prior to 1965, and you don’t hear about them doing tiger-mothering. If you are in China, where there is an extreme difference between people at the 75th percentile of income and people at the 95th, it makes sense. In America, people will ask “what would be so horrible about being at the 75th percentile? Why not let your kid enjoy their childhood?” The people putting their kids into private elementary schools will tell themselves it is “to put them on a path to a good college” to hide their real purpose as segregation academies. But they won’t be yelling at their kid that a B+ isn’t good enough.

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22 y81 November 14, 2017 at 10:37 am

But that style of parenting does not produce any sort of career lock. UMC children raised in a high-pressure environment are free to go into law, medicine, finance, or tech. Also possibly academia and music.

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23 Zach November 14, 2017 at 6:24 pm

Is Tiger Mothering an issue of competition between children, or between mothers?

Related question: is getting into a premium college more about setting yourself up for the future, or validating your past?

Lots of people go to mediocre schools and do just fine, economically.

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24 Josua November 15, 2017 at 9:08 am

If he was looking at the UK model, people selected their “track” pretty early (US equivalent 10th grade). Also if Charter schools catch on, I could see “speciality schools” being a big part of that. Speciality school would force students to choose very early (beginning of HS).

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25 Bob November 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

People can wait very long to decide on their career, as long as said career is largely unprofitable, or their choice is a career where their parents give the kid free outs. But attempt to go into the well paid side of tech when you only start prepping at 18: A large majority of the people coming in to the places that will pay you 300k+ were preparing for it before college, and in college, they did at least one relevant internship a year. This is kids that took their life deadly seriously for decades. I’ve seen situation where nothing less than two top internships was considered…. for an internship!

When you tie this to Average is Over, we see immense choice as long as you are OK with choosing a bad outcome, and the road to upward social mobility as a very narrow path that a kid has to start walking at around puberty.

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26 Andao November 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm

+1

Also, those US kids need to start focusing earlier to compensate for lower academic proficiency than international hires. Significantly more competition for good jobs today than 50 years ago

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27 clockwork_prior November 14, 2017 at 2:17 am

‘The ability to live somewhere insulated from most of the costs of climate change will become a major marker of class and privilege’

Not to mention an ability to predict the future in a way that has yet to be demonstrated.

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28 albatross November 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

This is silly. Under anything like the current mainstream climate change predictions, most of the US won’t be particularly affected. (Maybe there will be less snow or the best crops to plant will change a bit, but we’re not actually looking at massive flooding or desertification or whatever in the US.) “Climate privilege” is a fund culture-war attention-grabbing phrase, but doesn’t have much content unless you’re comparing most of the world to Tuvalu or Bangladesh.

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29 psmith November 14, 2017 at 11:37 am

” most of the US won’t be particularly affected.”

is totally compatible with

‘The ability to live somewhere insulated from most of the costs of climate change will become a major marker of class and privilege’

(and, hell, I think to some extent living where the weather’s nice is already a marker of class and privilege within the US, climate change aside. When people leave the Bay Area or LA because they can’t afford it, they usually end up in places that are uninhabitable during summer without air conditioning. I don’t know how it works in other pricey metros, though.).

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30 psmith November 14, 2017 at 11:41 am

Oh, and water availability is a potential future (in some cases current) concern for a lot of the “Open Access” cities too.

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31 Roy LC November 15, 2017 at 4:13 am

That is because they pick them over other places. If Massachusetts got as hot as ViRginia I would hate it, but its population would probably boom.

If we magically annexed Mexico and solved it social problems, do you really think that bad weather would prevent contemporary Americans from moving down there as the new sunbelt?

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32 Josua November 15, 2017 at 9:11 am

There is definitely a huge value to living by a large body of water, but I’m not so sure how much more value is added by weather conditions (not sure how much people care about weather from Seattle to LA).

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33 Timothy M November 14, 2017 at 3:01 am

“The US public school system could accurately be described as an unholy combination of mental asylum and work camp.”

Too true.

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34 msgkings November 14, 2017 at 3:13 am

This f**kin’ guy

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35 Evans_KY November 14, 2017 at 4:13 am

A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, Bruce Cannon Gibney.

“His essential point is that by refusing to make the most basic (and fairly minimal) sacrifices to manage infrastructure, address climate change and provide decent education and healthcare, the boomers have bequeathed their children a mess of daunting proportions.”–https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/17/generation-sociopaths-review-trump-baby-boomers-ruined-world

Touché. I will ponder his prognostications with a grain of salt.

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36 Kevin E. November 14, 2017 at 9:48 am

+1

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37 institutionalist November 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm

+1

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38 Larry Siegel November 15, 2017 at 4:40 am

Don’t that beat all. My generation has been vilified because we got our government to borrow a lot of money for spendthrift social programs that didn’t do much good; now I’m being told that the 40% of my income that I’ve paid in taxes isn’t nearly enough. Which is it? Some people just can’t be pleased.

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39 Steven November 14, 2017 at 4:21 am

The author tweets 20x/day and uses a voice that implies he is chatting with a large community of people he knows. Kind of ironic for him to be the defender of millennials.

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40 Iskander November 14, 2017 at 5:42 am

I was thinking of issuing shares to fund the acquisition of signalling skills, especially the use of “privilege” always and everywhere.

I could be just another drone, wouldn’t that be nice!

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41 Dick the Butcher November 14, 2017 at 8:00 am

Post-modern authoring is easy. Just run down the list and fling (caged monkeys flinging feces comes to mind) fling at each bullet point a couple thousand wisps of pedestrian prose.

To be fair, there are moderate, RINO, globalist, right-wing lists, too.

In NYC, there are families paying $50,000 tuition for their children’s pre-K educations.

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42 bellisaurius November 14, 2017 at 5:52 am

Powered with this information, I can prepare my young children for their future dystopia by teaching them how o create a good algorhythmic picture, and preparing them for the best possible future career available to them.

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43 Engineer November 14, 2017 at 6:42 am

#5 sounds like present day Baltimore (among other places), except the inmates are running the asylum and the walls are permeable, and there is little work.

Discussion at breakfast yesterday of the instance where 6 juvies stoke and wrecked a car. They had 126 prior arrests among them. What do you do with a city full of such broken people? I don’t see an effective solution.

#3. That’s risible,and should be treated as such.

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44 aMichael November 14, 2017 at 10:05 am

#3 – I almost laughed out lout, because we know how living outside of the coastal regions, which *MAY* get flooded, is SOOOO expensive in the U.S. Look at those soaring home prices in Iowa. I don’t know how anyone can afford it. Does he not realize that most of the country, which is plenty far from any coast line, is mostly just empty?

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45 Engineer November 14, 2017 at 11:39 am

Here’s the link to the story about the teens with 126 prior convictions. Three of them died in the crash.

“Sheriff Bob Gualtieri suggested the more serious charges against the surviving teens at a news conference Monday, a day after the Palm Harbor crash once again highlighted Pinellas’ deadly plague of juvenile car thefts.

He pointed to the teens’ extensive criminal records — 126 arrests among them, including several for auto theft — as proof that the juvenile system rarely holds a kid for long. No consequences equals no fear of doing it again, he said.”

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/teens-in-stolen-car-crash-had-126-arrests-murder-charges-possible-wvideo/2332984

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46 Thor November 14, 2017 at 3:56 pm

I read the linked piece, and then a few more for good measure. As usual, it puts paid to the far left’s position that poverty drives criminal behaviour.

Extremely depressing.

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47 JonFraz November 14, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Baltimore’s unemployment rate is 5.2%– a bit higher than Maryland’s overall, but hardly catastrophic. That is not consistent with there being “little work” available.

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48 Josua November 15, 2017 at 9:14 am

Dig into their age, education and ethnicity. I bet the unemployment rate is 4-10 times that amount.

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49 JonFraz November 16, 2017 at 3:15 pm

There is no doubt some uncertainty in the unemployment rate, as with all stats, but it’s absurd to suggest it’s that far off. And what does age (let alone race) have to do with it?

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50 rayward November 14, 2017 at 6:57 am

4. Who knew a few short years ago that the quants would be ruling and ruining our lives. Here’s a timely essay on the need and a way to make quants accountable: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/opinion/academia-tech-algorithms.html I’m not optimistic. Besides the blatant conflict of interest among academics, who are more concerned about collecting their share of the lucre than accountability, the damage being done is opaque: unlike cancer caused by cigarettes or death and mayhem caused by unsafe automobiles, the damage done with algorithms is done in the dark. Add to that the human capacity of self-deception, and it’s a perfect storm; indeed, how many comments have been written on this blog stating as a fact that Google and Facebook are “free”. Flying cars and spaceships to Mars are a diversion to exploit the human capacity to believe anything.
.

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51 Mark November 14, 2017 at 10:13 am

I really dislked Cathy O’Neil’s book. I didn’t think there was a way that I could wholly disagree with someone preaching the problems of overconfidence in data models.

I was wrong. Equal parts poor classification/justification, disparate impact doctrine, and half-baked normative ethics.

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52 Just Another MR Commentor November 14, 2017 at 7:17 am

Not sure why Tyler labels any of this as distopian.

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53 dearieme November 14, 2017 at 7:20 am

“6. Misogynist backlash.” There must be a word, corresponding to misogynist, for ‘a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against men’. What is it? Why do I never see it used? P.S. Don’t say mother-in-law.

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54 Boonton November 14, 2017 at 7:27 am

misandrist

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55 dearieme November 14, 2017 at 9:50 am

Thank you. There’s a lot of it around, this misandry. Given the record of Slick Willie I can understand why Heillary should be a misandrist. But is she?

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56 gab November 14, 2017 at 11:46 am

She could start a Misandrist club – Melania can be first vice-president

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57 institutionalist November 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm

formally the word is misandry, informally the word is “(most of the) blue checks on twitter”

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58 Boonton November 14, 2017 at 7:34 am

#6 seems to work against #4 and #5

It gets me thinking about Charles Murray’s ‘big sort’ where all the smart and talented people hook up with each other and society splits between elites who get more and more elite and a lower class that sinks down.

I wonder if forms of privilege whether it’s misogyny, racism, classism, or monarchy functioned as a sort of ‘sorting short circuit’. Perhaps society will need to develop an artificial type of short circuit (perhaps extreme anti-trust law enforcement?).

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59 Miguel Madeira November 14, 2017 at 7:57 am

“#6 seems to work against #4 and #5”

Why?

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60 Boonton November 14, 2017 at 2:09 pm

#4 and #5 are “4. Discrimination by algorithm. 5. “The Malfunctioning.”

These seem to be about doubling down on meritocracy. This would be contradicted by a “Misogynist backlash”. If you’re discriminating against women then by definition you will be ignoring meritocracy in at least some cases in order to favor men. If you’re a slave to meritocracy then how can you indulge misogyny?

My thinking is that just because pure meritocracy sounds fair and good doesn’t mean that it has no downsides. #5, for example, is what to do if some Americans ‘just cannot make it’. Combine superstar economics with meritocracy and you will get that. For example, today good but not great singers can make a living. Cover bands can be fun and a live singer at your wedding or party can be pretty impressive even if they are not top tier talen. But if tomorrow super high-resolution holograms can give you a perfect experience of the world’s best performing for you in your living room, I could imagine it would be impossible for anyone except the top few to be a successful singer.

We have been used to this in entertainment for generations now, but entertainment has been a limited slice of the overall economy. What if this model starts applying to the majority of the economy?

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61 JonFraz November 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

The rich and powerful always tended to marry the rich and powerful.

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62 Boonton November 14, 2017 at 2:22 pm

True but someone could become rich and powerful by ways other than merit in the past. For example, if you were ‘old money’ you would have an edge in the rich and powerful game. ‘New money’ people might have merit but their power was blunted by those who had power without much merit.

Think of college admissions versus the NFL. Some college students are there because they have excellent grades, others might be there because their parents are legacies who donate to the alumni funds and others might be there because the college suspects some things like test scores and grades are less objective than they sell themselves as being. NFL, though, is pure merit play. Your dad may have been the best quarterback to ever play you’re not getting in the NFL unless you can demonstrate skill.

If your goal is to just create the best football possible, the pure merit system has merit. But if your goal is to integrate the whole of society the other might be better.

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63 Josua November 15, 2017 at 9:18 am

Luckily, most men will sleep with anything with two legs. So that blow a hole in Murray’s book pretty quick. If men were as picky about partners as women were we’d already have a super race ruling us 🙂

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64 JonFraz November 16, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Actually, no– most men have their preferences and stick with them. It’s why overweight and/or homely and/or too old women are very often relegated to single status.

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65 Hoosier November 14, 2017 at 8:10 am

Millennial dare just a small percentage of us citizens, right? I think it’s people currently aged 16- 34 or something like that.

Why the overt focus? I don’t recall this type of branding in generations growing up in the 70s-90s.

Also, all kids under the age of 15 or so are no longer millenials. Shouldn’t we care a bit about what they’ll be like? Or is the term millennial a catch all for young people in general?

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66 dan1111 November 14, 2017 at 8:18 am

What about generation X and baby boomers? This generation stuff has been around for a long time.

I think it’s pretty dumb, though. It’s a model that is both wrong and not useful.

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67 Ted Craig November 14, 2017 at 8:22 am

” I don’t recall this type of branding in generations growing up in the 70s-90s.”

Really? You don’t remember Gen X being branded the slacker generation? Here’s how that happened, by the way. In 1991, just after thousands of young people in their late teens/’20s liberated Kuwait, there was a recession. As a result, many young people couldn’t find jobs. That’s normal in an economic downturn. But for some reason, nobody wanted to admit that. It had to be that this generation was lazy. Hence, the creation of the slacker myth.

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68 institutionalist November 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

that was the test run of inter-generational warfare waged by the baby boomers. they did it to the Xers first, and now they’re doubling down on their own children. They have an actual stew recipe for their grandchildren.

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69 catter November 14, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Ah, the sweet intergenerational harmony of the ’60s.

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70 vinny November 14, 2017 at 8:25 am

First of all they called the earlier generation Generation X. Though I haven’t heard that one in a while.

Secondly, in addition to there being many of them, millennials were the first generation to grow up with the internet and then came into adulthood during the Great Recession and its attendant lack of work for those newly in the workforce.

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71 Hoosier November 14, 2017 at 10:10 am

I do remember generation X, but it died pretty quickly. Millennialis get far more attention.

Very true about being first generation in internet era, but we’re already on to the next generation. Would be more interesting to hear about a new group.

It reminds me of all the talk of baby boomers, then you have a whole generation following forgotten about.

Barack Obama? Not a baby boomer. What about his generation? Just ignored?

So a bit if a rant, but all this generation talk has a bit of truth in it but it’s mostly just marketing of an idea.

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72 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 11:37 am

“Barack Obama? Not a baby boomer. What about his generation? Just ignored?”

Barack Obama was born in 1961. He’s a baby boomer which is generally considered to be the cohort from 1945-1965.

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73 vinny November 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Here’s one reason why you hear a lot about them:
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

“Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). “

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74 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 9:07 am

“3. “Climate privilege.” The ability to live somewhere insulated from most of the costs of climate change will become a major marker of class and privilege.”

We’re terraforming the planet out of the Ice Age. Our great grandchildren will look back and laugh at those that tried to portray Global Warming as a negative.

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75 Just Another MR Commentor November 14, 2017 at 9:11 am

Yeah I doubt it. But if it makes you feel self-satisfied, you can think that you slob.

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76 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 9:31 am

I don’t really need affirmation from some random poster on the internet that thinks name calling can make up for a distinct lack of wit.

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77 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:10 am

Wishes are wonderful things, you can even build a politics around them.

Or you can study up and see that “more northern latitude agriculture” does not necessarily balance “whoa, dislocation.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impacts_of_climate_change

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78 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 10:23 am

I didn’t say that “more northern latitude agriculture” balanced dislocation. However, it is one factor among many.

Directly from the source you list: “He found that unmitigated climate change could result in a reduction in welfare equivalent to a persistent average fall in global per-capita consumption of at least 5%.”

You’ll note that the source says unmitigated. However, the world has already spent 100’s of billions on climate mitigation, primarily in the form of renewable subsidies. So, naturally the 5% number is probably the upper bound and unlikely to ever happen. Furthermore, the history of these kind of predictions have indicated that they are almost always overstated.

Also, if climate change were likely to be that expensive and that dangerous, then one would expect the IPCC (and the environmentalists in general) to be pushing strongly for a nuclear power build out. Since they don’t it’s only logical to conclude that the risks from climate change are the same as or less than the risks of nuclear power. That’s my risk indicator. Until I see a movement by that group towards nuclear power I’ll will assume that the true risk is less than the advocates indicate.

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79 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:27 am

Nice of you to read it, but surely you understand mitigation is not 0 or 1.

And there is no science that even “100’s of billions” is “done.”

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80 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 10:31 am

Well let’s wait 50 years and if you’re right then you can say “I told you so”.

81 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:34 am
82 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 10:41 am

Sure, and to date all of the worst case predictions have been wrong. So, I’ll go with the current trend of data that indicates global warming will continue to be mild and that the effect will be mild.

83 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:45 am

What you are really saying is that many humans have a cognitive deficit.

They are shaped by evolution to have a strong short term bias for both survival and reward.

You and most people can’t grok a long term risk, and so you blame everyone who can.

You demand certainty, which is bullshit, but from your position, protective bullshit.

84 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

You seem desperate. I didn’t “demand certainty” anywhere in my comments. I merely pointed out that the best scientific data doesn’t indicate that Global Warming will be a catastrophe.

Your own link indicates that a worst case scenario is a 5% drop in per capita GDP. But that’s across a 50+ year time frame. A period when we can reasonably expect a growth of per capita GDP on the order of 100%.

How excited am I supposed to be when a worst case scenario is that mankind in 2067 will be 95% richer than it currently is instead of 100% richer than it currently is?

85 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 11:02 am

I am just really tired of comments threads as a “make up your own protective belief” bullshit zone.

Look at you.

You start by claiming climate change will be good. You end by throwing a “persistent average fall in global per-capita consumption of at least 5%” into the street.

86 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

“I am just really tired of comments threads as a “make up your own protective belief” bullshit zone.”

Do you realize how petulant you sound? There are clear well recognized benefits to global warming. You tried to steer the conversation to the negatives of global warming and I pointed out that even the worst case scenarios don’t amount to a catastrophe.

Here are some of the benefits:

“Climate change has done more good than harm so far and is likely to continue doing so for most of this century. This is not a right-wing fantasy; it is the consensus of expert opinion. Yet almost nobody seems to know this, says British scientist and journalist Matt Ridley.

The chief benefits of global warming include: fewer winter deaths; lower energy costs; better agricultural yields; probably fewer droughts; maybe richer biodiversity.
It is a little-known fact that winter deaths exceed summer deaths.”

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=23746

“Whether mainly natural or mainly artificial, climate change could bring different regions of the world tremendous benefits as well as drastic problems. The world had been mostly warming for thousands of years before the industrial era began, and that warming has been indisputably favorable to the spread of civilization. ”

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/04/global-warming-who-loses-and-who-wins/305698/

You’ll note that The Atlantic admits that previous global warming has been favorable and the turns to the speculative line that future global warming will be a mixed bag.

87 Anon November 14, 2017 at 12:08 pm

I am serious about climate, but very few people are. The first thing you would do if you were serious is shut down immigration from poor to rich countries if you were serious.

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88 Ricardo November 14, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Actually the first thing you would do is stop eating meat.

89 Chip November 14, 2017 at 10:24 am

The very second sentence in your link says:

“Given the inherent nature of economic forecasting, which involves significant degrees of uncertainty, estimates of the results of global warming over the 21st century have varied widely.”

A fancy way of saying the predictions are usually wrong.

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90 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:29 am

As JWatts and I were discussing, the discussion must include feedback loops.

How much mitigation are YOU going to support?

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91 Chip November 14, 2017 at 10:21 am

New studies are steadily downgrading the sensitivity of temperature to CO2, so probably less about terraforming and more about the human tendency to become emotionally invested in big ideas. Like religion.

According to this recent study, skepticism requires high cognitive ability and a strong motivation to be rational.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886917306323

Emotion is easy. Logic is hard.

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92 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:25 am

Lol, good troll.

“Why does belief in the paranormal, conspiracy theories, and various other phenomena that are not backed up by evidence remain widespread in modern society? “

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93 celestus November 14, 2017 at 9:13 am

3 is stupid. The first city to fall to climate change would be Miami Beach. Flyover country, the Black Belt, and Greater New Mexico have a couple centuries.

4 and 7 contradict each other.

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94 Roger Sweeny November 14, 2017 at 9:27 am

4 and 7 contradict each other.

Not necessarily. If you look closely at some of the complaints about using algorithms, the problem is that they are too accurate; they tell us things we don’t want to know.

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95 celestus November 14, 2017 at 9:58 am

I guess it depends on the thrust of 4, but I’m fairly sure from the author’s other dystopias that he means the meme “algorithms will racistly deny a black guy a loan because he was convicted of marijuana possession at 16 while the the white teens who smoked marijuana got let off with a warning. This shouldn’t have any effect on loan approval because he’s equally likely to repay the loan, but the algorithm sees Criminal_Record=1.” That’s exactly the kind of factor that would get overwhelmed as the data self converges towards the real self, if it is truly nonpredictive.

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96 Alistair November 14, 2017 at 10:12 am

Mmm. Yes, that.

It’s always hilarious when the optimisation programme starts to notice the statistical patterns in the data and all on its own uses ethnic group as an output predictor. It has to be yanked back hard by human operators who “know” there is no difference, really, regardless of the useful patterns actually discovered.

Blame it on waaaaaycist electrons.

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97 Roger Sweeny November 15, 2017 at 10:08 am

“algorithms will racistly deny a black guy a loan because he was convicted of marijuana possession at 16 while the the white teens who smoked marijuana got let off with a warning. This shouldn’t have any effect on loan approval because he’s equally likely to repay the loan …”

“equally likely to repay the loan” is an empirical statement and I’m not at all sure it’s true. I suspect what’s going on here is “Morally I think that this shouldn’t have any effect on loan approval so I will believe he is equally likely to repay the loan.”

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98 Eric Rasmusen November 14, 2017 at 9:14 am

“3. “Climate privilege.” The ability to live somewhere insulated from most of the costs of climate change will become a major marker of class and privilege.”

Ha! In the IPCC’s no-action scenario, the average temperature rises about 10 degrees F. That means Bloomington, Indiana’s average temperature rises to Birmingham, Alabama’s. It’s not that bad, folks.

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99 Just Another MR Commentor November 14, 2017 at 9:15 am

“That means Bloomington, Indiana’s average temperature rises to Birmingham, Alabama’s”

That’s actually pretty bad in my opinion.

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100 FUBAR007 November 14, 2017 at 9:58 am

Under such a scenario, the devil’s in the second- and third-order effects, chiefly in agriculture and mass migration from subtropical and tropical latitudes.

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101 Chip November 14, 2017 at 10:26 am

The planet is greening at a rate of 1% a year and more CO2 is estimated to be 70% of the cause.

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102 Brian Donohue November 14, 2017 at 10:57 am

Pace of change is an important variable. There is lots of historical evidence that ecosystems can migrate if climate change is gradual.

An analogy to social pace of change comes to mind.

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103 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:12 am

Heat waves don’t come in averages, but they can ruin a growing season, or a retirement.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-193867/Heatwave-kills-1-000.html

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104 Chip November 14, 2017 at 10:28 am

Cold kills on a much greater scale. Always has.

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105 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

Again, dislocation. The changes “surprise” infrastructure built for milder conditions. The orchard becomes untenable, the city electric grid cannot keep up with the air conditioning.

London was not prepared for conditions LA expects.

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106 byomtov November 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm

And what happens to Birmingham? Or Miami, New Orleans, etc.

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107 chuck martel November 14, 2017 at 9:21 am

#3. Where would that be? Prices of beach property don’t seem to be dropping very dramatically anywhere. What other locations will be so negatively affected by climate change that people will desert them? Drought-induced fire-prone areas of the Napa Valley? Big problem for the oenophiles, maybe. Daily tornadoes ripping across the Nebraska prairie? Seems unlikely. Many feet of snow around the Great Lakes? So what else is new?

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108 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 9:36 am

Somebody mentions Miami Beach. It’s so close to water level that it wasn’t considered viable for a city when Miami was founded. It’s certainly going to be affected by the minor rise in sea levels we are currently predicting over the next 50 years.

However, 50 years is a long time.

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109 aMichael November 14, 2017 at 10:08 am

So Miami Beach’s ground level gets submerged, and suddenly no one can afford to live in North Dakota? How large will the US population need to be and how much of the US would need to be flooded for housing demand in North Dakota to be totally consumed by the super wealthy?

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110 JWatts November 14, 2017 at 10:29 am

Oh no, it’s unlikely that even NYC will get flooded in the next few centuries.

” A 2013 study of past sea levels estimated that “we are committed to a sea-level rise of approximately 2.3 meters per °C within the next 2,000 years.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_sea_level

That’s a 7.5 feet rise.

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111 Mark Bahner November 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm

” A 2013 study of past sea levels estimated that “we are committed to a sea-level rise of approximately 2.3 meters per °C within the next 2,000 years.”

I laugh and give the wettest raspberry I can to people who write about what the planet will be like in 2000 years as though human technology and wealth will be unchanged from (or lower than!) the present. In *less than 100* years, it should be well within humanity’s technical and economic capabilities to lower the global CO2 level to the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm:

http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2013/04/global_warming_is_not_irreversible-1.html

P.S. That’s absent global thermonuclear war or takeover by terminators…and in either case, then 7.5 feet of sea level rise would be the least of our problems.

112 Steve S November 14, 2017 at 9:22 am

#3 seems like a tautology. The rich will live where it’s nicest and resources are less scarce? Color me surprised!

Besides you could paint the opposite picture that the current coastline will be destroyed and the wealthy will be hardest hit (or taxpayers due to NFIP??) Why don’t we care about those poor homeowners in East LA who now own multimillion dollar beachfront property?

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113 aMichael November 14, 2017 at 10:09 am

Amen. And I’m not even opposed to climate change. I’m just opposed to idiocy about its effects. The people on the coast line I’m really worried about are in Bangladesh, not Miami Beach, Malibu, and Manhattan. I’m sure the future wealthy who would have lived in those places will find some other uber expensive neighborhood.

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114 Floccina November 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm

+1

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115 derek November 14, 2017 at 9:33 am

6 That is when a plumber shows up to fix your toilet and has the temerity to expect payment.

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116 Kevin E. November 14, 2017 at 9:45 am

“‘The ability to live somewhere insulated from most of the costs of climate change will become a major marker of class and privilege’”

So presumably all that beachfront property in Malibu will become inhabited by the poor. More likely is that people in Malibu who believe in global warming will continue to bid up the prices for beachfront property, while laughing at the idiots in Kansas who don’t know that tornadoes are obviously caused by global warming and they would be so much better off if they just believed in it.(No actual cutting of carbon usage necessary.)

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117 Kevin E. November 14, 2017 at 10:22 am

“America will need institutions for people who just can’t make it….I don’t think this will be “funemployment” of a guaranteed minimum income. It’s more likely to be an unholy combination of mental asylum and work camp.”

I think funemployment is more likely. Consider the following:

http://www.unz(dot)com/isteve/nyc-paying-homeless-to-vamoose/

When you have a solid 10-20% of your population who “just can’t make it,” a combination of low human capital, a degenerate culture, and the child support model of the family which disincentivizes marriage, the question of how to handle them comes up. Actually addressing the “root causes”(to use the Left’s favorite word) is a non-starter, as the real root causes cannot be identified, we must pretend it is a primarily economic problem, lack of jobs due to automation is a popular one currently.(At the same time they will tell us we need immigrants to ‘do the jobs Americans won’t do.’) But the upper middle class and wealthy are more prosperous than they have ever been, so the natural solution is to give up some of it to pay them to go out of sight so they can be out of mind. This is why libertarianism is a non-starter for many in the upper classes who would seemingly benefit from it: they think to themselves that without government support, the lower classes would start protesting in the streets, pointing out their hypocrisy as a supposed believer in equality who practices segregation. I see both the upper and lower classes of society converging on this solution, a European-style expanded welfare state.

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118 Viking November 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm

The brown shirts have managed to make unz(dot)com unlikable!

What’s next from the SJWs? Book burnings?

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119 Viking November 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm

That was supposed to be:

The brown shirts have managed to make unz(dot)com unlinkable!

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120 derek November 14, 2017 at 9:47 am

3 When EPA regulations make air conditioning too expensive but for the most highly paid, that is what it will be called.

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121 derek November 14, 2017 at 9:52 am

5. The Bureaucracy.

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122 Guy Makiavelli November 14, 2017 at 10:59 am

“The Malfunctioning.” “America will need institutions for people who just can’t make it….I don’t think this will be “funemployment” of a guaranteed minimum income. It’s more likely to be an unholy combination of mental asylum and work camp.”

Sounds like Vonnegut’s Player Piano.

Bur really no asylums will be necessary if people stop defining their self-worth in terms of their careers (uniquely American thing to do anyway).

This will happen soon as it is becoming increasingly obvious that real talent: mathematical, musical, athletic etc. is only a minor component of “success”.

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123 chuck martel November 14, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Many Americans define themselves in terms of their possessions in addition to their careers. People fixated on classic or unusual automobiles, fashionable clothing, opulent housing, even the acquaintances they’ve made. A fringe benefit of the consumer society.

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124 Floccina November 14, 2017 at 11:02 am

3. “Climate privilege.” The ability to live somewhere insulated from most of the costs of climate change will become a major marker of class and privilege.

Canada where all the effects of AGW are likely to be positive.

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125 albatross November 14, 2017 at 11:08 am

Re: #2

The more we track people into good/bad lives based on what college they get into at 17, the more we’re going to encourage the ambitious to push their children into not having childhoods, because they’re spending all their time cramming for the standardized tests, or padding their resumes, or doing demanding classwork for their three AP classes every high school year. That doesn’t mean you start premed at age 8, but it does mean your 12 year old in the magnet middle school has three hours of homework a night and doesn’t get to do much of the usual “being a kid” stuff during the school year. But hey, that magnet school plus cramming for standadized tests will get him into a top magnet high school, which will help him get into a top college, which will help him get into a top graduate program, and so eventually when he’s 35, he’ll make partner or get tenure or finish his cardiology fellowship and get to have a life.

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126 Guy Makiavelli November 14, 2017 at 11:49 am

he’ll make partner or get tenure or finish his cardiology fellowship and get to have a life

Tenure, partnership etc. are tournament prizes that the managerial class put into place once upon a time to indenture their knowledge workers.

These institutions are no longer necessary. Indeed these institutions are inefficient as the partners and the tenured are generally the less productive. Today managers can make indentured servitude a basic requirement of staying employed.

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127 Mike W November 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Who the heck is Malcom Harris…and why should anyone care what he thinks?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/01/fashion/new-yorks-literary-cubs.html?adxnnl=1&_moc.semityn.www=&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1348232883-xL3q1Z/mK8t/t2wW09497g

Still see no reason to care.

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128 Josua November 15, 2017 at 9:33 am
129 Les Cargill November 14, 2017 at 6:43 pm

#3 -is available now. Just move away from the coasts.

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130 Clerk November 15, 2017 at 11:10 am

The Amazon link says Millenials are poorer than “even our great grandparents.” What evidence is there to that point? Seems completely implausible.

http://amzn.to/2yKxeK9

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