Catch-up splat

Having been traveling, I neglected some of the more controversial issues of the last week, but here are a few points of catch-up.

On the immigration study, I liked Reihan’s recent post very much.  It is now the case that 23 student organizations at Harvard’s Kennedy School are protesting the fact that the dissertation was awarded, while nominally defending academic freedom of course.

For all of the brouhaha over Niall Ferguson, everyone is forgetting what Robert Skidelsky wrote in 1977, Skidelsky too it seems.  I don’t agree with either the immigration study or with Ferguson (at all, in either instance), but the response has been a case study in…something or other.  There is a glee and also a selectivity to it all which I am uncomfortable with, to say the least.

Within the span of a week, it is remarkable how rapidly the UK has moved toward a serious debate over leaving the EU, and that is after the UKIP election results were revealed (calling Timur Kuran!).  Our London cabbie, on the drive to the airport, still calls it “the EEC.”  With apologies to Thomas Friedman, I say this movement is for real.

The Novel Coronavirus seems to be human-to-human transmissible in a manner which is very worrying (more here).  When your thought is “that one might be too deadly to be a real problem,” it isn’t actually good news.  Fortunately the French health minister tells us that “Nothing is being left to chance,” including presumably which mutated strains of the virus will survive and spread.

What’s remarkable about the IRS tax scandal is that it was admitted, keep that in mind when revising your Bayesian priors.  Don’t forget about Bloomberg too.  Are all of our phone calls being recorded?

I do understand the back story, but still I become uneasy when the Secretary of HHS goes on a fundraising campaign from affected parties.  In lieu of naming rights, you get…what?  Can you say you “gave at the office”?  The voting booth?  Can they then rent out the mailing list of which companies gave?

The Republicans on Benghazi have learned from the Democrats on Mitt Romney and leveraged buyouts; define your opponent early in the public eye.  It is working, if only because most media accounts, even sympathetic ones, do not include pictures of a radiant and smiling Hillary Clinton with the story.

A twelve-year-old stabbed his eight-year-old sister to death.

Might we have a budget surplus in two years’ time?

The WSJ reviews Knausgaard, and “Babs” Walters will be retiring.

What have the old gods done for us lately?

Could it be this pizza?

OK people, now you can go nuts in the comments, get it out of your system.


Pakistan has elections. Business friendly party in power.... Stock exchange breaks all records.

Could your prediction on Pakistan as the last great region in the world underachieving finally come to pass?

How signficiant is the business-friendly thing? (That's not a rhetorical question.) Western media make PML(N) and PPP seem interchangable. However I am guessing they represent something like the centre-right and centre-left respectively.

On the other hand, maybe the journalists are right: personality, populism and pragmatism tend to trump left-right ideology even in the west; and I would have thought even more so in Pakistan.

Pretty significant. What will happen is anyone's guess, but the PML(N) and the PPP are quite different, especially in terms of getting things done - the Sharif's like and take on and finish big undertakings while Zardari preferred keeping everyone happy with small doings.

God I love to hate those people, but I still don't get the Benghazi thing. Maybe they are telling people what they already know, or maybe the average person is dumber than I think.

I also wonder if most people simply don't get the race thing because they are blinded by their team loyalties.

Yglesias, as usual, has jumped the gun, the three eyed crow storyline has barely begun.

As to Benghazi, I thought until the IRS thing that this wasn't going anywhere, especially after Romney muffed it, with an assist by Candy Crowley, in the second debate, but now I am not so sure. I think Benghazi is possibly becoming an actual threat now.

This issue about Keynes and homosexuality may actually be one of the best arguments for the domestication of homosexuality through gay marriage and gay adoption.

In the particular case of Keynes, though, Ferguson was provably wrong. My first reaction when I heard Ferguson's statement was confusion and surprise that Ferguson didn't know of Keynes' apparently successful marriage with a Russian ballerina and of Keynes' desire for children thwarted by a miscarriage. Keynes' childlessness was a result of fertility issues, not of any disinterest in the future, and provably so.

So he did have kids?

The answer to that question depends on when you think life begins.

Well, off-topic, but life obviously begins at conception. That's biology. Some people consider that different from 'having kids.'

You can just about hear Skidelsky chortling in the WaPo piece where he says his ideological adversary Ferguson should "stop digging."

But as Tyler shows, no one is immune to making blunders and saying the odd stupid, careless thing ... including Skidelsky. I wonder if he'll be raked over the coals in the same manner as Ferguson? No, what do you mean, no?

On Benghazi, there seems to be a strange definition emerging within some circles of the phrase "politicizing an issue". Some seem to be suggesting, without stating so explicitly, that because Hillary Clinton might possibly run for President in 2016, that there should be no investigation of Benghazi that might potentially yield results that would be politically embarrassing to her. To not grant this sort of "political immunity" to her would be to "politicize" Benghazi.

I have not yet fully digested the connection that TC just made between the fabrication of a story about a YouTube video to cover-up the true nature of a terrorist attack on an embassy and the legal, voluntary transfer of ownership over an asset partially financed by debt where the cash flows of the acquired asset are used to secure and repay the debt.

In this context I take "to politicize" as "to take an issue beyond the fundamentals and flog it unduly to try to gain political points and gotchas." The obvious problem applying that definition is the subjectivity in "beyond the fundamentals" and "unduly." I don't know if Benghazi is being politicized or not, but I do find myself wondering if there is any there, there. What's the core charge?

-Chris, who will now be Chris S after the emergence of others named Chris. Happens all the time, thanks Mom.

David Frum has been the most sensible of the main stream pundit class

Low skilled people, yet alone immigrants, are a net fiscal drain. It is a simple matter of wages*tax_rate minus benefits (mostly medicare/medicaid). I am not sure that there is anything to agree with here. Its just basic algebra and data. You may disagree with the larger point, but if you cant agree on the basic facts then this debate is way beyond any semblance of rationality.

That is the government-centric view, which would jive with my cursory views on Frum. Remember, government-centric myopia is the cause of all of our current upheaval...well that's an opinion.

The study I linked to last week showed that the economy of California (despite not being directed by people with sociology degrees) had no trouble assimilating immigrants positively while the government does so at a loss. Government could simply stop wasting money.

"These reports also conclude that immigration has net positive effects for the overall economy, although there may be individuals who suffer negative consequences."

"The fiscal impact of immigrants in recent years was negative. Public service costs exceeded taxes paid."

Pretty intuitive stuff. Immigrants are like poor people-possibly because they are poor people. Implications: Educate natives (or free up the economy) to create more positive-sum slots for immigrants. Fix entitlements and rationalize taxation and disbursement between state and Federal so states aren't made losers by the Feds failure to have an immigration policy. Personally, I'd like to see us fix the falsely related immigration issue so we can have a border.

I am with you on entitlements. Though no one seems to be making it a pre-condition to amnesty/open borders. It is easy to say entitlements are the real culprit, and then....? I don't see any political coalition, or anyone in the chattering classes actually arguing to change future fiscal outlays specifically so we can allow more immigration. So if you are libertarian minded what is the 2nd best course? Get to Cali quicker?


2nd best ain't my bag, baby.

I am pro-immigration, even leaning towards completely open borders. I admit, though, that a "balanced approach" of pairing immigration reform with entitlement reform makes sense and might even gain enough conservative support to make immigration reform more likely. It does seem that the current discussions so far have been completely one-sided, involving only immigration reform, with no willingness to compromise on, and lots of obstruction of, entitlement reform.

The problem is that the argument that we need to slash entitlement programs broadly popular with the public in order to allow a bunch more people to immigrate just doesn't have very much appeal. It looks too much like asking people to sacrifice their benefits for the good of people who are not even citizens.

I'm shocked that Democrats want to turn a fairly straight-forward issue like immigration reform into an excuse for wealth transfers. That almost never happens.

I'm actually shocked that the stupid party can't use that to their advantage.


Who said what you are suggesting? It's actually pretty straight-forward, something like vesting, what everyone rational does when they do anything like offer benefits to people.

Not that we shouldn't slash entitlements, and popularity is not an argument, in fact it is part of the problem, but that's a separate least to someone who wants to find actual solutions to problems.


If the Republicans made entitlements reform a precondition for Amnesty, two things would happen. First, Democratic support would go to zero. The Democrats will never agree to any entitlements reform as a condition for Open Borders. They want cheap labor, cheap votes, and a larger welfare state, not a smaller one. Second, Hispanic voters would freak out. They vote for welfare. Remember that Bush got 39-40% of the Hispanic vote. How did he do it? He advertised food stamps on Spanish TV. What else did he do? There was the housing bubble.

It seems like what I'm talking about is more likely to limit immigration and then slow the welfare state than continuing to do what has gotten us where we are.

If it is already a lost cause, then just humor me.

If it was so intuitive, it would follow that Mexicans, Somalians, Nigerians, Liberians, etc. are good for their respective economies, or that immigration from Detroit would be a net positive for Silicon Valley.

Immigrants are only a drain on the public fisc because we give them money. The immigrants who were the ancestors of most of the people posting here were not a drain on anything because they were not allowed to be. I'm not sure they had a higher skill level than today's immigrants - in fact, given the hodgepodge of names they adopted at Ellis Island, it seems like most of them couldn't read. But they had to be positive marginal product workers or they would have starved. Most did quite well. We would benefit from looking back at the policies which produced that result, and emulating them.


The welfare state isn't going away any time soon, irrespective of your desires. Indeed, Open Borders is making it relentlessly larger in at three ways.

1. The immigrants are heavy consumers of handouts (obviously). Forget Heritage. From Borjas.

"I am sure that I'm not the only one who's noticed how almost all of the discussion over California's budget problems managed to avoid using such words as "immigrant" or "illegal". So I decided to do a few calculations using the 2008 Current Population Survey to follow up on Instapundit's remark. Well, here are some interesting results for your perusal--no remarks are needed:

All statistics give the fraction of households in the LA metro area that receive some type of assistance--either cash, food stamps, or Medicaid:

All households: 20.9%
Native households: 12.7%
Immigrant households: 33.2%
Immigrant households with a citizen head: 26.4%
Immigrant households with a non-citizen head: 40.1%
Just to put things in context, 40% of households in the LA metro area are immigrant households"


"There's also been a lot of fake fog thrown into the the question of whether immigrants pay their way in the welfare state. It's time for some sanity in this matter as well. The welfare state is specifically designed to transfer resources from higher-income to lower-income persons. Immigrants fall disproportionately into the bottom part of the income distribution. It is downright ridiculous to claim that low-skill immigrants somehow end up being net contributors into the public treasury.

And, finally, it's time to start worrying about the future. Even if immigration were to stop completely on its tracks right now, the consequences of what's happened in the past 30 years will continue for decades. What will happen to the children and grandchildren of today's immigrants? For instance, will the descendants of today's poor immigrant groups join the middle class or form a new underclass? How much ethnic inequality will there be 20 years from now, and how much social, cultural, and political conflict will arise as a result of this?"

2. The immigrants eventually vote and they vote overwhelmingly for a larger welfare state. The Pew Hispanic center found that Hispanic Republicans were more supportive of the welfare state than white Democrats (and even black Democrats apparently). Importing people who want a bigger welfare state won't shrink the welfare state. That's an easy idea to understand.

3. Open Borders pushes natives onto welfare. See "Immigration and African-American Employment Opportunities: The Response of Wages, Employment, and Incarceration to Labor Supply Shocks
by George J. Borjas, Jeffrey Grogger, Gordon H. Hanson

The employment rate of black men, and particularly of low-skill black men, fell precipitously from 1960 to 2000. At the same time, the incarceration rate of black men rose markedly. This paper examines the relation between immigration and these trends in black employment and incarceration. Using data drawn from the 1960-2000 U.S. Censuses, we find a strong correlation between immigration, black wages, black employment rates, and black incarceration rates. As immigrants disproportionately increased the supply of workers in a particular skill group, the wage of black workers in that group fell, the employment rate declined, and the incarceration rate rose. Our analysis suggests that a 10-percent immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group reduced the black wage by 3.6 percent, lowered the employment rate of black men by 2.4 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate of blacks by almost a full percentage point"

The study is about black Americans. The conclusions apply to all racial and ethnic groups.

Spoiler alert: we HAVE open borders...and in the worst way.


"Spoiler alert: we HAVE open borders…and in the worst way."

No. Comprehensive Immigration Reform would be much worse.

1. Illegals will be able to compete for a wider range of jobs. That makes them less complementary.
2. Illegals will be able to massively expand their welfare usage over time. See Heritage, Borjas, and gravity.
3. Illegals will be able to import their family members (legally or illegally) massively expanding the dependent class.
4. Low-skill legal immigration will be massively expanded (33 million over 10 years, not all low-skill).
5. The guest worker program will kick huge numbers of the natives out of the workforce and into dependency

Milton Friedman once observed that illegal immigration was great for the economic as long they remained illegal. Of course, that's no longer true. Even as illegals, they are massive tax eaters..

Okay, but aren't we on a trajectory to getting exactly that?

Had people listed to 'me'...damn! Almost 15 years ago...

Have you ever considered that the economy can because government does?

It couldn't possibly be that simple, could it.


"It is now the case that 23 student organizations at Harvard’s Kennedy School are protesting the fact that the dissertation was awarded, while nominally defending academic freedom of course."

Actually, they aren't. Here is a quote.

"Even if such claims had merit, the Kennedy School cannot ethically stand by this dissertation whose end result can only be furthering discrimination under the guise of academic discourse."

The motto of Harvard is "Veritas". Perhaps something more like “Por mi raza hablará el espíritu” ( “The spirit shall speak for my race”) would be appropriate. That's the motto of UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Maybe “Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada" ("For the Race, everything, outside the Race, nothing") might be better. That's the motto of the NCLR (The National Council of La Raza). La Raza mean "the race" in Spanish although the actual meaning is deeper and darker.

It's both encouraging and depressing when elites don't know what they are doing. I wish student groups feeling the need to express outrage would simply issue press releases shouting "I love black people!"

re: "Might we have a budget surplus in two years’ time?"

That claim is based on the CBO.The Federal Reserve did a study last year of the CBO’s past few decades of deficit projections. It says (where RW=”Random Walk”):
"the CBO’s cumulative 5-year projections are considerably worse than
projections from the RW model; [...]the deficit projections beyond a
year were unreliable. Importantly, we found that the projections were
biased in the direction of underprojecting the size of the deficit or
overprojecting the size of the surplus.”

So any optimism needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It is partly due to the sequester they are fighting to overturn. In general it is based on the unrealistic "baseline" scenario the CBO uses where laws aren't changed.. so even e.g. laws they habitually always renew are assumed to expire. They have begun doing often a second "current policy" alternative forecast which is often still too optimistic (assuming too much GDP growth, etc), but is at least a little less out of touch with reality.

The CBO is assuming 3.4% GDP growth in 2014. If you don't believe that number, then the budget number doesn't work either.

"One conceptual question for those of us with a humanitarian interest in bettering the lives of the global poor is this: should we try to rescue some trivial share of the global poor by allowing them to work and settle in the U.S., and accept that they will tend to cluster in the bottom fifth of the U.S. socioeconomic distribution while spending a significant sum of money to help them lead dignified lives in a high-cost country? Or should we devote this significant sum — or some much larger or even much smaller sum — to interventions that might benefit a much larger share of the global poor, e.g., by making investments in mitigating various environmental health risks?"

Yes, because the West has such a great handle on how best to conduct military and financial interventions to raise the living standards of folks in those countries . . .

Posting about the 12-year old who killed his stepsister? Either MR is becoming a tabloid or there is some layer of depth I am too weak-minded to discern. Agreed re: revising priors. For shame on the Ferguson apologia. It's like citing (otherwise) highminded people from 80 years ago with regressive views on race to deflect blame from some contemporary racist.

'or there is some layer of depth I am too weak-minded to discern'

Try this -

'A Kentucky mother stepped outside of her home just for a few minutes, but it was long enough for her 5-year-old son to accidentally shoot and kill his 2-year-old sister with the .22-caliber rifle he got for his birthday, state officials said.'

Not being a loyal reader, it is possible that this incident may have been highlighted here, something along the lines of an item using the 'The culture that is country X' tag line. Or this one - 'On Saturday in Tennessee, a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed the wife of a sheriff's deputy.' April 11, 2013

But now that the spotlight on children handling firearms has shifted, we can discuss the dangers of knives - since really, it is children killing children that is the important thing, and not how they do it.

Especially when looking at this from the above link - 'Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.'

But since every house has knives, there should be a plethora of stories of children killing others using knives, as there are with children killing using firearms, right?

So, here is the 5th result of this google search - "accidental child stabbing death america" ('accidental' because murder - as in the case of the 12 year old - requires a certain age to be aware of, which is certainly not met by a child that is 5, 4, ...)

'An Indiana dad was accidentally shot to death by his 3-year-old son after the little boy got his hands on the loaded weapon as the family sat watching television, police said.

“We have no reason to believe there’s any foul play involved,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin told WMBF-TV. “We think is purely a tragic accident that could have been avoided.”

Michael Bayless, 33, was blasted with a single shot from his own handgun as he sat with his wife and their four kids inside their Salem, Ind., home, police said.

The rest of the family watched in horror as the 3-year-old squeezed the trigger and mortally wounded his dad. Bayless was dead at the house when cops arrived.

“It was an accident that could have been prevented if the handgun had been out of the reach of a 3-year-old child,” Goodin told the television station. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way.”' (Love the tabloid style - 'blasted' indeed.)

Oops - another firearm fatality caused by a child. The culture that is America.

Which means it is now time to talk about knives.

In a contest of anecdotes, which one wins?

There's a reason people writing in public hedge by saying "*allegedly* stabbed" until there's a conviction.


"I don’t agree with either the immigration study or with Ferguson (at all, in either instance), "

I am curious to know why you don't agree. I haven't read the immigration study, but having an estimate of the cost which can be examined and criticized is at least a start. Proponents of the immigration bill don't seem to be presented any substantive arguments in favor. Haven't we had enough massive bills pushed through with little discussion of their effects? What is sorely lacking with legislation is a follow-up review to determine whether the law achieved its goals. Of course, with modern liberalism, it's not the results but whether your intentions were good. You can always pass another bill to correct the bad effects.

Yeah, just ask GWB and his fellow Republican lawmakers who doubled our national debt. Damn modern liberals.


Why is that liberals, who generally hate GWB, turn into pathetic fanboys (and fangirls) when the subject is immigration? Did it ever occur to you that Bush might have (and still is) just as crazy (and wrong) about immigration as Iraq, tax cuts for the right, "the ownership society", privatizing Social Security, etc.

Did it ever occur to you that Bush (and Rove/McCain/Graham/etc.) see immigration as a way of creating a society (radical inequality, mass poverty, gated communities, intense racial/social divisions, academic failure, etc) that liberal generally (and correctly) oppose?

Stated differently, why do liberals drop any pretense of liberal values when the subject is immigration?

First of all, your logic in the second paragraph seems tortured to me. Many (perhaps most) liberals see immigration as a liberal value much in the same way that they see wealth redistribution as a liberal value: helping the downtrodden.

Unlike most/many liberal-minded folks, I'm not in favor of open borders. I favor limited immigration by lottery and weighted according to the needs of the country. I also favor some, but limited redistributionary federal/gubernatorial programs.

My comment, however, was specifically in response to this:

"What is sorely lacking with legislation is a follow-up review to determine whether the law achieved its goals. Of course, with modern liberalism, it’s not the results but whether your intentions were good. You can always pass another bill to correct the bad effects."

Whether from a legal review standpoint or not, parties don't often look back and admit regret for massive spending programs.


Liberals see immigration through the prism of racial identify politics, political power ("undocumented Democrats"), and a vast new constituency for expanding the welfare state. Some liberals like the cheap servants as well. Nancy Pelosi actually runs a winery with illegal labor (you can't make this stuff up).

The lack of concern for America's own poor and working people is stunning by its absence. The Gang of 8 Amnesty bill exemplifies all of this on a staggering scale. Liberals play the race card with Amnesty for illegals. Republicans get a "guest worker" program to crush working Americans and keep them down.

What do ordinary folks get? The shaft both ways. The remarkable thing is how few liberals have a problem with any of this. A notable exception is John Judis (TNR). See "Immigration Reform Is Labor's Loss The Senate plan will benefit businesses, not low-wage workers".

Has a single Democrat of note (or of no note) denounced the Amnesty bill? The guest worker component of the Amnesty bill?

I understand that some (most) liberals favor Amnesty for the existing illegals for compassionate reasons. I don't agree, but the impulse isn't far fetched. However, you would think that Amnesty would be coupled with immediate employer sanctions (E-Verify+), a double-layer fence on the border, and drastic cuts in legal immigration, and no guest workers of course.

That would be a pro-worker, pro-American, liberal program. The Republican corporate elite would hate it with a passion. Rank-and-file Republicans would generally be supportive.

Why don't the Democrats even try such an approach?

"Racial identify politics, political power ("undocumented Democrats"), and a vast new constituency for expanding the welfare state"

A really funny (tragic) note is Democrats using Grover Norquist and Douglas Holtz-Eakin as "authorities" on the economics of immigration. Under all normal circumstances, Democrats despise these folks (particularly Grover) with a well-justified passion. Make the subject immigration, and its Open Border über alles.

"“What is sorely lacking with legislation is a follow-up review to determine whether the law achieved its goals. Of course, with modern liberalism, it’s not the results but whether your intentions were good. You can always pass another bill to correct the bad effects.”"

Sorry, I didn't write that.


Here is what a real liberal thought about immigration. From Samuel Gompers (himself a Jewish immigrant from the UK).

"America must not be overwhelmed.

"Every effort to enact immigration legislation must expect to meet a number of hostile forces and, in particular, two hostile forces of considerable strength.

"One of these is composed of corporation employers who desire to employ physical strength (broad backs) at the lowest possible wage and who prefer a rapidly revolving labor supply at low wages to a regular supply of American wage earners at fair wages.

"The other is composed of racial roups in the United States who oppose all restrictive legislation because they want the doors left open for an influx of their countrymen regardless of the menace to the people of their adopted country.'

Yeah, DS! That one left a mark.

Silver lining: 100 years (1913: income tax and the Fed) of it and people that vote for a living haven't overwhelmed people that work for a living. Four more years . . .

This year the federal deficit will be two-times larger than the largest GWB deficit.


"Of course, with modern liberalism, it’s not the results but whether your intentions were good."

Right. So now, the Iraq War and the Global War on Terror are liberalism? Team Blue and Team Red are on the same team.

And if you haven't seen substantive critiques of the Heritage immigration paper, it's probably because you're not really looking for them.

History teaches that things will deteriorate.

Between 1986 and 2000, the imbeciles in congress enacted seven illegal alien amnesties which made 5.7 million illegal invaders “legal.” In 2006, after 20 years, we have 11 million additional illegal invaders. If we don’t do it differently now, we will have 25 million more illegal invaders in America by 2016. None –not one—of those amnesties resulted in a drop in illegal immigrants. Today, there are four times as many illegals as in 1986. Go figure.

- The 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act blanket amnesty for an estimated 2.7 million illegal aliens
•1994: The "Section 245(i)" temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens
•1997: Extension of the Section 245(i) amnesty
•1997: The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act for nearly one million illegal aliens from Central America
•1998: The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti
•2000: Extension of amnesty for some 400,000 illegal aliens who claimed eligibility under the 1986 act
•2000: The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, which included a restoration of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty for 900,000 illegal aliens]

The pizza in Da Michele was one of my best culinary experiences when I lived in Napoli (and the standards were high!). La Taverna del buongustaio was also fabulous. And cheap.
I never saw a pizza topped with hot dogs and french fries, to be honest. But it is true that taking pizza to go was quite common. They also loved fried stuff, which was a bit of an issue from a health point of view because it usually was very good. Oh, and the sweets... I guess I'm hungry :)

Oh, come off it. UKIP isn't even the Parti québécois or the Scottish National Party. At best, it's Social Credit under Réal Caouette, a regional protest party run by a colourful demagogue who promises the earth to ignoramuses with no idea how the world or the global economy work, and offers them a scapegoat for all their problems. Even if UKIP aren't just a scam with no real purpose beyond keeping Nigel Farage in his seat in Strasbourg (and if the stories about Farage told by former lieutenants can be believed, that's a huge if), the best they're ever likely to manage in Westminster is a few seats in rural England. They can't govern, and aren't going to.

Look at it this way. UKIP is the only mainstream party actively supporting withdrawal from the EU. If support for leaving the EU were strong enough and hardcore enough that a referendum would have any real chance of passing, UKIP would have formed a government by now. As it is, there was no serious talk of a referendum in Quebec or Scotland until after the PQ and SNP formed governments. Give me a call when UKIP actually win a council in England---or a few seats in Westminster.

Look, it has gotten tough around here recently in terms of eurogeddon - so any news of a fringe party is good news in getting that narrative back up to speed, or at least back to some sort of wheezing existence. Because for all the EU sturm und drang highlighted here over the last couple of years, one would have expected at least a good eurogeddon by now.


Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, etc. Heard of those places?. Checked unemployment rates lately?

Sure have - after all, I live in Germany.

And strangely, the system is still creaking along, in typical modern European fashion.

But like most people in the EU, I know with certainty that the euro will fade into history - just as the DM, the Ostmark, the Reichsmark, the old franc, the new franc have all faded away.

This is why it is so easy to mock the idea of eurogeddon as propagated here - everybody in the eurozone older than 20 can already remember the currency they grew up with having been replaced.

Though current poll results show that almost 70% of Germans are satisfied with the euro, the highest rate of approval the euro has ever had here.

From Reuters

Most Germans oppose euro, French also losing faith: polls

BERLIN/PARIS | Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:50am EDT

(Reuters) - Nearly two thirds of Germans think their country would be better off without the euro and French support for the currency is slipping, although the French are much more reluctant to imagine life without it, two polls showed on Monday.


The UKIP isn't decisive. The shift in elite Labor and Tory opinion is. The British establishment has moved against Europe. See " Will Britain Leave the EU? The status quo always looks impregnable until it looks doomed." Forget what John O’Sullivan has to say on the subject. Look at the Brits he is quoting. Lawson, Lamont, Healey. That's the big leagues of UK politics.

Here is the core truth. The UK never joined the Euro (and that was before the Euro turned radioactive). The rest of Europe is moving towards either a federal state or collapse. Either way, the UK wants to stay out.

If a European Federal state was a great success 30 years from now, the UK might feel impelled to join. At this point, getting on a sinking ship doesn't look like such a good deal.

'Will Britain Leave the EU?'

Which is nicely mirrored by 'Will Scotland leave the UK?'

Not everyone in Britain seems to want to stay there either. Apparently, the Scots may think that the EU is a better place to be than the UK.

We will see how it works out in a couple of decades.

Re: the Ferguson brouhaha. It is the Hans-Hermann Hoppe scandal all over again! What, nobody remembers the Hans-Hermann Hoppe scandal?

I do, but few people outside libertarian circles have. Far more people with the sense to know better took Ferguson seriously than had ever even heard of Hoppe, much less had an opinion either way on his work.

Tyler wishes to signal with this post that he likes right-wingers and dislikes left-wingers, but he's aware that right-wing beliefs are often wrong so is reluctant to go much further than sneering at leftists.

Here are data tables on how the various ethnicities, including Total Hispanics and Mexicans, do on the five major postgrad admissions exams (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, and DAT).

Not much change over time.

Import better test-takers. Problem solved!

Import worse test-takers and that worsens a lot of problems.

In terms of the budget surplus ...

Here. Tyler, is where I don't fully understand some of your deficit reduction writings. Let's see if I fairly summarize your position:

(1) There are reasons why deficit reduction now makes sense, even if the time horizons on the real deficit problems are at least a few years down the road. You had a convincing, lengthy post on this a couple months ago. However, you long list of supporting reasons applied entirely (or almost so) to entitlement programs, and mostly to entitlements to the elderly.

(2) You have argued in favor of the sequester, but mainly on a combination of non-deficit reasons (i.e., the cuts are good for other reasons) and negative reasons (certain cuts are unlikely to have much if any negative effect on the economy). (Let's note but set aside the fact that your arguments on this have, to come extent, assumed or argued for (politically unlikely) redirection of some some of the sequester cuts to other programs.)

Here's the thing - # 2 doesn't really help with number one. I would add that, with a few exceptions*, most of the current deficit cutting energy in the real world is focused on non-entitlement spending. But I would go further, and argue that, by decreasing short run deficits and perhaps even achieving a surplus, doesn't a lot of the current focus on non-entitlement spending actually decrease the possibility of meaningful entitlement reform?

*Exceptions being the CPI changes to SS, which, however one feels about them, are a fairly big deal in terms of deficit reduction, and VERY relevant to your point about why we should act now, and medicaid reductions proposed by the Republicans, which would result in smaller though still meaningful reductions, albeit not really address the political economy arguments for action now, as the political salience of medicaid doesn't approach that of medicare/social security.

Are all of our phone calls being recorded?

How many Petabytes of storage would that take? Assuming they retained the recordings for a year. Even assuming they had the ability (highly doubtful) to dynamically compress it all.

I'm very skeptical whether NSA can pull this off.


Easy math. Say each person talks for 1000 seconds each day and it takes 1.3 KB per-second to record the conversation (a high estimate). That 1.3 MB per day or 474.5 MB per year. For the entire population of the United States, that's 150,000 terabytes. At $100 per terabyte, the cost of the disk drives would be around $15 million. Of course, the total cost (racks, power, servers, etc.) would be much higher. Perhaps in the $100-200 million range.

Public data shows that Google and Apple have (much) larger data centers. Could the NSA do it? Obviously they could.

'At $100 per terabyte'

See below - but that number is way, way too high.

Yes, I'm convinced. $100 million doesn't sound like a lot with DoD's deep pockets. Seems like they could pull it off after all.

A solid guess - 130 TB a day, which is a piece of tiny cake for the NSA.

Here is somebody just roughing out the numbers -

'But let’s find out! Let’s look at the cost of storing all these calls.

Americans use about 2.3 trillion minutes on cell phones per year, which is about 378 billion seconds per day. I didn’t find a good stat for landline usage, so let’s double it to 750 billion seconds per day.

The open source codec Speex can encode voice at 1400 bits per second.

This gives us:

7.5e11 seconds/day
* 1.4e3 bits/second = 1.05e15 bits/day
/ 8 bits/byte = 1.31e14 bytes/day
/ 1e12 bytes/terabyte = 131.25 terabytes/day

How much does that storage cost? Cloud storage is getting crazy cheap - even if you outsourced it to Amazon, at their lowest priced archival storage, it would cost just $0.01 per gigabyte.

131.25 TB/day * $10.24/TB = $1344.00/day

The actual price would be lower - the government can splurge for a better codec, and probably can achieve similar (or better) economies of scale.

I’m surprised by this result myself, but it looks right. I did the calculation another way with different sources, and got a very similar result.

Now, this is just the storage cost for a certain amount of time. It doesn’t count all the other costs of encoding and infrastructure and searching this information. But it’s really well within the government’s capabilities. Google does far more impressive things with search, and Facebook eats 50 TB of photos and videos per day.'


Most of you numbers look right (and the conclusion is not in doubt). However, 1400 bits per second with a Speex code? The government needs high voice quality for several reasons, not the least of which is that many of the conversations of interest won't be in English.

If they have a lot of computation relative to storage, they could record most calls as text and only keep the voice if they have a hard time with the text-to-speech or if certain flags are hit. For example, you could record all the Arabic calls as sound and keep only the text for the English calls.

How many phone calls are occurring at this instant? A million? 10 million? Live speech-to-text is a tractable problem. Probably the number goes down at night, so with one day's storage you can load balance if you don't mind a little lag.


Funny. "Person of Interest" fan I presume? Yes, speech to text gets you down to a few hundred bits per second (at most).

The only person I talk to now on the phone is my mother. And good luck to them who have to listen to that. The rest of the time it is email, text or face to face.

Seriously if I wanted to conspire with other people, I would want to do it face to face until I knew them quite well anyway. And I would establish a code for any electronic conversation just as a matter of course. It seems like this would only be of use for the more stupid criminals.

The IRS targeting homosexual groups was uncalled for, even if they were from Libya and could spread a potential pandemic.

That's not a nice way to refer to the US Republican Party.

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