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#2 is good. And timely. Thank you.

Important and always timely topic but it would be nice to have a little more meat to it in terms of tips for being polite.

Did you miss this?

Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

#6: Is this another promotion for open borders?

'The project is aimed at encouraging the migration of New Brunswick's healthy moose population into mainland Nova Scotia, where the species has been endangered since 2003'

Ah, I see that in Nova Scotia, which is the only place I've seen moose, both backpacking on Cape Breton, and riding a motorcycle there, that there are actually two type of moose, one which is not endangered (and are unlikely to use the Canso Causeway to continue their successful immigration pattern - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canso_Causeway) -

'2. What is the difference between mainland moose and Cape Breton moose?

The mainland moose and the Cape Breton moose are two separate sub-species. On the mainland, the moose are Alces americana and in Cape Breton the species is Alces andersonii. The original indigenous population of Alces americana in Cape Breton was extirpated in the late 1800's - early 1900's. The cause of this extirpation remains unknown. The current population in Cape Breton started from the introduction of 18 Alces andersonii moose from Alberta in 1947 and 1948. The moose from the mainland are native to eastern North America.

3. How many moose are found on Cape Breton? What is the mainland population?

The Cape Breton Island population currently numbers about 5,000 animals. The mainland moose population is estimated at 1,000 animals or less. Aerial and ground surveys have been used to estimate the moose population.'
http://novascotia.ca/natr/wildlife/sustainable/mmoosefaq.asp#mm2

I may add, that Nova Scotia is July is fantastic - the other 11 months, considerably less so. And it is also the best place for fish and chips imaginable - probably because the cod is truly fresh, and the potatoes from either PEI or Nova Scotia beat those from Long Island or Ireland. Unsurpisingly, Prof. Cowen's advice about the best place to eat have no application when it comes to Nova Scotia - but then, when you see the swordfishing boats with the harpooner's place at the bow, you might understand why malls aren't the best place to find good seafood - http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/sustainable-durable/fisheries-peches/swordfish-espadon-eng.htm

4. I suppose even a freshman can have insight. While the freshman notes the differences in the recovery of the housing markets in the different regions, he doesn't connect all of the dots, namely, the differences in the recovery of the economy in the different regions, with those realizing much of the gains in both located in NYC and the Bay area. In other words, rising inequality is very much a regional phenomenon. And the very nature of housing is local - it isn't "portable" to use the popular term. Does that make it "structural"?

Southerners and mid-westerners are often considered similar in that both are polite. My mid-western friend (Wisconsin) told me, a Southerner, there's a difference: with mid-westerners, it's sincere.

The difference between Southern politeness and Mid-Atlantic demeanor, is that up north we don't bother to pretend to care.

4. WTF?

I stopped reading at the quote. But, should have earlier stopped. Is English his second language. He is all over the place making statement with no background.

"Homeownership rates have been in persistent decline since well before the crisis, and the recession didn’t really accelerate the trend."

The data say otherwise. See the home ownership rates. The dollar figures are maximum FHNMA/FHLMC conforming loan amounts. Think they're correlated?

"1960 62%
1970 63%
1980 64%
1990 64.2% $202,000
2000 66.2% $252,000
2004 69.2% $333,000
2006 69% $417,000
March 31, 2012 65.4%

Mortgage interest rates are up from early 2013 lows, but still in a historically low range. Even if lender funding costs fall to zero, mortgage interest rates cannot go much lower.

Here what's holding down home ownership: It's the economy, stupid. Median family income stays below pre-recession levels. They can't amass downpayments and can't afford monthly payments.

Widespread owner occupied single family homes driven by massive government incentives is a circumstance that ought very much to go away. The distortions these policies introduce are mostly negative.

I am amazed at the number of people who comment on the housing market without looking at the rate of household formation.

Back in the 1960s-70s the baby boomers growing up meant there was enough household formation to justify 2 million housing starts.

Now,at best household formation would justify something on the orders of 1.1 to 1.3 million annual housing starts.

Moreover, that was also true during the bubble of the 1990s when we went ahead and built 2 million new homes anyway..

Household formation isn't entirely exogenous. It depends on incomes, housing affordability, credit availability, desire for mobility, and culture. In the 1960s young people wouldn't be caught dead living in their parents' basement. On an almost nonexistent income, they would rather live 6 to a ghetto apartment. (At least that's what I did.) Today, things are different and the difference is cultural.

One issue with household formation stats in the past decade or two is they fail to record the large number of undocumented households (e.g. illegal immigrants).

Re #5:

I understand that reasonable people can disagree on all kinds of issues. I know that police can run into all kinds of well armed criminals. I understand that a case could be made that there are some situations were armored cars could help police perform their legitimate functions. But can't we all agree that if a situation arises on US soil where it comes to needing mine resistant vehicles (which even the military thought were to big for ideal use in urban areas) that it is time to call out the national guard and declare martial law?

From "America's Social Democratic Future" by Lane Kenworthy Foreign Affairs, January/February 2014:

"[I]f U.S. government expenditures rose from 37 percent of GDP, their 2007 level, to around 47 percent, that would place the United States only a few percentage points above the current norm among the world’s rich nations."

The “37 percent of GDP” represents U.S. government expenditures at all levels: federal, state and local. It would amount to about an additional $1.5 trillion in government spending.

So where does Kenworthy propose these additional tax revenues come from?

"As a technical matter, revising the U.S. tax code to raise the additional funds would be relatively simple. The first and most important step would be to introduce a national consumption tax in the form of a value-added tax (VAT), which the government would levy on goods and services at each stage of their production and distribution. Analyses by Robert Barro, Alan Krueger, and other economists suggest that a VAT at a rate of 12 percent, with limited exemptions, would likely bring in about five percent of GDP in revenue -- half the amount required to fund the expansions in social insurance proposed here." [Among the 18 western EU countries the standard VAT (there are lower rates and exemptions for various select goods and services) runs from a low of 19% in Germany to a high of 25% in Sweden and Denmark.]

So there would be half...what about the rest?

"A mix of other changes to the tax system could generate an additional five percent of GDP in tax revenues [including]:

"a return to the federal income tax rates that applied prior to the administration of President George W. Bush." [This has already been done for "high income" taxpayers. A further reversal of the Bush tax cuts would fall on taxpayers with income below $200k.]

"an increase of the average effective federal tax rate for the top one percent of taxpayers to about 37 percent" [this would raise about $200 billion annually];

"an end to the tax deduction for interest paid on mortgage loans, new taxes on carbon dioxide emissions and financial transactions, an increase in the cap on earnings that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax, and a one percent increase in the payroll tax rate."

In other words, of Kenworthy's proposed tax increases of $1.5 trillion to fund expanded social spending only about $200 billion would fall on "the rich".

Are there any politicians out there saying this?

#2. Never ask someone what they do. Suggested question: you must have had an interesting day, what happened?

In DC is is the first or second question when you meet someone.

That # 2 goes from a pretty good (though not faultless) rule- "don't touch people's hair unless it's explicitly allowed" (perhaps especially not African American's hair if you're a white person) to the general rule "don't touch people unless specifically invited" suggest to me that he's not as in touch as he thinks. Knowing the right way to touch people is a hallmark of being polite. Thinking that you should never do it unless invited shows that one isn't really polite, but rather something else. Being polite means understanding these differences w/o necessarily being able to explain the rules. But, this certainly isn't the rule.

I come from a low touch culture. We have a word for people that touch other people a lot and that word is Canadian. I once had dinner with Canadians. By the time desert came round, on an emotional level I felt as though I had just had sex with all of them. Personally, I would say that if one doesn't know the correct way to touch people, then not touching them is polite. I would would describe someone who knows when and how to touch people as friendly, empathetic, kind, a people person and other vague adjectives rather than polite. People who have difficulty interpreting non verbal signals that indicate that touching someone is appropriate are often those that end up being very formally polite, since they find its better to err on the side of caution in the relations with people. Or alternatively, they can end up being really annoying. It can go either way.

5. Who doesn't?

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