Monday assorted links


#1: curious if he has a translation he likes best.

A translation he prefers?

I recognize the existence of patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, Western cultural and military hegemony, and neocolonialism, and believe in a moral duty to end them. I support comprehensive gun control. I support immigration without restriction. I am antiwar in almost all cases. I call for an immediate cessation of hostilities against the Muslim world, the closure of vast numbers of American overseas military bases, and drastic cuts in our defense budget. I advocate for a comprehensive dismantling of the NSA and CIA and the end of all programs of mass electronic espionage on the citizens of this country and those abroad. I believe in the need for prosecution of America’s large body of war criminals who have wrought ceaseless devastation on innocent, defenseless people. I call for the immediate, comprehensive, and permanent dismantling of our nuclear arsenal. I support strong environmental regulations and robust efforts to reverse global warming, end the depletion of our natural resources, and save endangered plant and animal species and their habitats. I believe that the most profound moral task of the 21st century is to redress a world of terrible inequality and oppression, a task which can only be completed with a vast effort to dismantle systems of human inequality and to close the vast material gulf between those who enjoy historic, economic, demographic, social, cultural, political, and practical privilege over those who don’t.

I am guessing not. Preferring one over the other would be heteronormative or something. The problem is that if he is serious about closing the gulf between those who enjoy historic, social and culture privilege over those that don't, he needs to read some Bourdieu as Jean-Louis Salvignol points out below.

Someone who likes War and Peace or some vile piece of modern art is displaying membership of a hierarchical structure that is alienating to those who are locked out of the system of meaning embedded in a class based society. That is, the function of reading War and Peace is to let the proles know that they are proles, and other members of the upper middle class know that you are part of the elite. It is possible that he might actually like it, but mainly it is the class thing.

So he needs to stop eating sushi and eat at KFC instead. He needs to stop reading Tolstoy and start reading the Left Behind series. And Game of Thrones has nothing on Days of Our Lives.

Otherwise he is just not being serious.

I think he's reasonable enough to, someday, realize how dumb some of those stated positions are, but it's going to take a while. Ironically, he seems to spend more time trying to explain why people who agree with him should stop acting like lunatics than actually discussing those beliefs.

He is Leftist politically, rather than Progressive religiously, I'd say.

I really was not trying to get political with that comment.

Reads like the Nicene Creed for the painfully Progressive.

'App reads your CV, tells you how much you are worth.'

Priceless - but when it comes to your wages, one can reasonably assume that it is your employer that makes that decision.

And considering that being female means you are considered to be of less worth than a man, as reflected by what one is paid, one does wonder if the results are prefaced by something along the lines of 'If female, these results reflect current reality - the discount of x% is reflected by our data.'

I guess being demonstrably wrong does not bother you or discourage you from saying something?

Not to mention that employers don't "decide" what the wage rate is. I thought this was an economics blog?

I ws slightly puzzled by #5, When I think of a nation's "IQ" I don't thinkof the aggregate - or whatever - IQ of its citizens, but what the behaviour of the nation indicates its IQ to be. In other words, how well it manages its history, resources, economy, strategy and so on. Some nations just seem to be pretty smart at how they navigate their way through time, and some seem pretty dumb, and I don't think it has so much to do with the IQ of individuals. Very smart individuals who can't cooperate are going to be a dumb nation.

See Italy - one of the highest average IQs in the world, utterly unable to form a stable government since WW2.

Maybe not having a stable government is a positive,not a negative--especially if you are a libertarian.

A stable government is a more powerful government and is able to implement policies.

I use to amuse international corporate executives by claiming to be more optimistic about Italy than the rest of Europe because the Italian governments would intervene in the economy less than other governments. If the UK or France said it was going to implement certain policies you could be confident they would do it and generally impost a cost on business.But even if the Italian government enacted similar policies you knew the Italian business community would find ways to get around it and the cost of the policy would be much less in Italy.

Exactly how has the unstable governments hurt Italy? There growth record is among the best in Europe.

This right here is a big reason I'm not a libertarian anymore, though I once was. Banking on low-trust dysfunction to lead to libertopia is a fool's enterprise and it never works. It's far better to shoot for the Nordic model and hope you land as close as possible.

You ought not to confuse rates and levels. Italy has caught up some, but that's precisely because it tethered itself to less dysfunctional EU institutions. China also has a very impressive growth record, but that's not a sign that the authoritarian capitalist model is better than the Western model; it's a sign of how horrible outright communism had been.

It’s far better to shoot for the Nordic model and hope you land as close as possible.


Let's get started. Mass immigration of truculent muslims, rates of child seizure by state social workers which exceed those in America and Germany by a factor in the double digits, and an utterly irreligious populace in which the state church is a jobs program for clowns. Oh, and lets find an equivalent of the Wallenberg clan to own a third of the property (or therebouts).

Truculent, now that is a ten-dollar word if I've ever heard one.

More to the point, if you are dead set on making Scandinavia out to be hell on earth, I'm afraid I can't help you, and I suggest you consider the possibility that you are engaging in some serious motivated reasoning. Just about any country would kill to have the trust levels and social/political institutions of, say, Denmark.

Odd. There are a lot more Swedes in Canada than Canadians in Sweden.

Take a well run moderate to large size city in the US and you have Denmark. In a place with 5.6 million people you probably will run into the guy who runs the health service or police if you get around a bit.

No, I'm dead set on pointing out some of the reasons that I'm not interested in this country emulating them and find the cretins that run Scandinavia disgusting. Bradford deLong wants to live there, he can waddle over to the nearest consulates and see if one will offer him a visa.

"Just about any country would kill to have the trust levels and social/political institutions of, say, Denmark."

Those high trust levels are eroding fast, and immigration is the reason why this is happening. Seriously, the 'Scandinavian high trust society' was probably an accurate characterization in 1960, and perhaps reasonable even in the 1980s or 1990s. But compared to 30 years ago things have changed a lot. The high trust societies we used to have are rapidly disappearing and some aspects of them are probably already gone for ever. Other aspects will be soon enough.

Given how easy it is to see the writing on the wall at this point, I'd be more tempted to use Scandinavia as a cautionary tale than anything else. Far from all policies currently implemented in these countries contributed to making the Nordic countries successful, to the extent that they are, and some of the current policies - especially Sweden's immigration policy - actually rather seem to indicate to the outside observer that the politicians in charge have decided to try to figure out what would be the fastest way to destroy the country. Many places in Sweden are still far from 'hell on earth' places yet, but that's mostly because they started out at such a high level of income/trust/etc. and only a fool would not expect things to deteriorate rapidly in the decades to come.

I'm writing this from Italy. The cultural achievements of the Italians are almost unparalleled, but the streets are dirty, the modern architecture is atrocious and detracts from the classical architecture, the outskirts of the cities are poor, and the officials are corrupt and incompetent. Although I'm a small-L libertarian, I think there are such things as public goods, and the Italian government is not providing them effectively. You have to have some kind of government, and having an honest and efficient one is an advantage to a country.

"Exactly how has the unstable governments hurt Italy? There growth record is among the best in Europe."

Minor point, but no, not really. Italy was doing well up to the eighties, but its average growth rate through the 90's was about zero, and its GDP today is back below 2008 levels. Add 13% unemployment, 43% youth unemployment and 132% Government debt/GDP, and things don't look so hot.

"The Christian Democrats were the inevitable axis of any government coalition: they stayed in government from 1948 to 1994. Back then, Italy had an astonishingly fast turnout of prime ministers, but the political system was remarkably stable. Actually, we changed governments so often because, within the very same coalition that was going to be in power no matter what, that was the way in which you made people happy: political parties kept an equilibrium among different factions, by rotating in ministerial roles."

Plus, Italy survived the Aldo Moro kidnapping and assassination without devolving into complete chaos. A sign of a pretty resilient political system.

Um, that's not a but. it's a feature.

"utterly unable to form a stable government since WW2."

Completely untrue. This is a myth because people associate prime ministers with "government." Italy had a very stable government from the late 1940s until the end of the cold war. Just like Japan, the major parties (Christian Democrats and Socialists) basically agreed to keep the Communists out of power and to share the spoils between them. The fighting at the top was mostly just theatre, the bureaucrats didn't change, and Italy was a very succesful country for over 40 years. Once corruption scandals and the end of the Cold War destroyed the old arrangement, Berlusconi took over and more stability ensued, even if it was an economically disastrous stability long term. Italy's problem has never been lack of stable government - just the opposite. Government jobs, especially in the South, were considered desirable and employment for life. Government in Italy is so stable it is completely unresponsive to the needs or demands of the voters.

IQ, necessary but not sufficient.

Nutrition is a hugely underrated econo-political factor. Micronutrients in particular. Iron, iodine and fluor are way more important than monetary and fiscal policies.

So are Bechtel and Halliburton.

I really enjoy reading rebuttals to concerns about 'designer babies,' as posted in response to that Klein post -

'A government powerful enough to limit or prevent genetic engineering by the "private sector" might well be powerful enough to use it anyway and then we would get some of the costs that Dan fears with fewer of the benefits.'

The current German government is intentionally designed - with lots of input from the nations that destroyed the previous version - to be considerably less powerful than the government that had been able to engage in total warfare in pursuit of its goals.

And yet, currently, there is probably no single society with a broader consensus utterly opposed to eugenics as that than modern Germany, where genetic engineering is truly unacceptable, regardless of how it is rebranded and remarketed.

But then, modern Germany has an awareness of eugenics which dismisses the idea that the previous regime's visions of a much better world were a mere road bump. Based on empirical evidence, as a few million bodies tend to be a hard to overlook bump in the road. At least among the children and grandchildren of those who did the mass killing, that is.

I would describe the same facts somewhat differently: Germany is still very much in the process of rebranding, of convincing people both domestically and internationally that a clean break exists between the country and its pre-1945 century legacy. The project of appearing as unscary as possible is at the core of the rebranding. Germany can't endorse anything that could be connected to eugenics for the same reason that the new eagle on the Reichstag can't look more threatening than a chicken. Any alternative, harmless or not, it would leave a bad taste in the mouth, and Germany can't afford that.

The new cozy, sweet Germany is the most effective rebranding in history. I actually buy into it. As a Jew, I am quite comfortable there.

They can have their old eagle if they want it.

@4. Even if it was financially and physically doable, the idea of seasteading to escape regulation and politics as usual was doomed from the start. The problem isn't that regulations prevent you from freely *developing* new ideas and products, the problem is in regulations preventing sales and use (e.g. autonomous cars and drones). It doesn't do any good to take to the seastead to develop great new ideas if you can't sell them anywhere. And how many high-achieving, high-earning people are going to want to live on an isolated island in the middle of nowhere? Ask the dwindling number of people living on Pitcairn Island:

The immense start-up cost of seasteading was also foreseeable from the start. As far as libertarian competitive governance projects go, the Free State Project has had a lot more staying power, even though it's been funded at something like 1/20th the level of The Seasteading Institute:

Or, possibly, even libertarians don't want to live with other libertarians.

Pitcairn is not only extremely isolated it has also traditionally been controlled by one giant inbred family, not that I am a fan of freesteading.

I've now been reading about Pitcairn all day. How many MRevvers would it take to overthrow the inbreds?

In reviewing the Chinese bailouts, it still hits me this is a speed bump recession like 1907 Panic or the late 80s S&L crisis. These significant but not major crisis that only slowed a multi-decade growth down for a couple of years and the economy would adjust back to growth afte 3 - 5 years. The local governments are busted with $3.5T that will go onto the bank and big government balance sheets. (And didn't the S&L accelerate the end of local banking institutions? And 1907 panic was one of the reasons the Federal Reserve were created.)

#6 Does anyone ever adjust the employment/population ratio charts for demographics? Like all adults between 18-67 or 22-67?

"IQ" is a veil for other social, institutional advantages? say it ain't so!

#3 is excellent. Had not heard of the 60/40 rule before.

I thought it was the 70/30 rule. In the Chicago area, Evanston and Oak Park never became all-black because the 30% black threshold was never breached, so whites stayed (and eventually gentrified some of the black areas, moving the ratio back to 75/25 and, in Evanston, beyond). Neighborhoods where the 30% threshold was breached quickly went to 99% black.

In terms of DC restaruants and segregation, I suspect this is more a function of the restaurants that he frequented than of actual segregation.

And I find it hard to beleive he didn't see any non-white people on 90 out of 160 visits. Maybe no black people, but plenty of Asians and hispanics around.

The only thing "excellent" about (#3) Todd Kliman's piece on "restaurant segregation" (a problem which he admits does not actually exist) is how he wrote it and Oxford American published it to burnish their anti-racism credentials while preening in front of a mirror. The piece is all about Kliman's feeeeeelings and the vibes he gets from his interlocutors but does not discuss any factors which could actually explain why his favorite twee restaurants don't have many black patrons-- such as the fact blacks are less affluent on average so visit pricey restaurants less often. That's not the only factor, but Kliman literally doesn't care so why should we? Kliman's anti-racist pickle polishing isn't meant to analyze or explain the supposed racial disparities in restaurant patronage in D.C., it's just supposed to show how Kliman and his publisher are the sort of politically-correct white people who agonize over the paucity of blacks in their favorite restaurants-- a horrible problem which must be the fault of some other white folks somewhere, and we all know who they are, right? People who live in Missouri, that's who.

he says he went to a variety of restaurants.

but to be honest, if you around lunchtime in the DC downtown area to a subway/potbelly's you do see a representative crowd.

think it is not prices, but the type of food that is segregating.

Openness-to-experience correlates with verbal IQ. Openness-to-experience is likely a proxy for interest in novel and adventuresome restaurant dining experiences.

On average black Americans lag white Americans on IQ by about one standard deviation (from the white norm). Average black Americans lag Jewish Americans and the sort of white Americans who enter professional (lawyer, doctor) and literary jobs in D.C. by somewhat more than a standard deviation.

So, the problem with "Openness-to-experience" is that it is not true openness, but openness-to-experiences-that-jibe-with-researchers-preconceived-preferences.

If dude wants to eat in restaurants with more black people, maybe he should open his palate a little wider, and try and experience the things that people-who-are-not-like-him enjoy, instead of inhabiting the same narrow clique of trendy restaurants.

Blacks do not eat sushi since their parents did not. Whites eat sushi even though likewise their parents did not. Logic!

“To know the protocol. To interact with a sommelier. Whites—not all whites, but more whites—have been doing it for longer. They tend to know these things...

No we don't. Very few whites have ever been to a restaurant with a sommelier, and the vast majority wouldn't want to, because it would be too embarassing.

I perceive that the author's real question is why top-1%-income blacks don't go to the same restaurants as top-1%-income whites. And the reason may well be that the only people whose parents taught them about sommeliers are white.

This will ruin my nostalgia value, let's not do it!

#3. Excellent, really. In the background Pierre Bourdieu, notably La distiction:

Cultural capital, good and bad taste, etc...The beneficiaries of this absolute cultural and social hegemony are the same people who denounce vehemently income inequality. Piketty and is like. All this can't be reduced to black and white. In France they call it the Republican Meritocracy.

Actually no. The prime consumers of Piketty's book are the educated middle and upper middle class. The same people who fill the restaurants Tod Kliman visits.

Isn't it what he's saying?

Yes you are right. I should have read it more carefully. Sorry Jean-Louis

Seasteading doesn't work for the same reason that Silicon Valley is so successful: Network Effects

Silicon Valley has lots of smart people who are constantly networking with each other to discovery the latest and greatest tech gadgets. If San Jose had 9,000 people instead of 900,000, it wouldn't be able to sustain so many large tech powerhouses.

And who wants to pay the cost of building new land? It would be much cheaper to just buy the Pitcairn Islands from the British government and set up a country there. The problem is that the geographic isolation significantly reduces the opportunity to interact with new people and come up with new ideas. Even New Zealand, a well run country with millions of residents struggles to develop a domestic high tech industry.

3. If you think restaurateurs freak out near the 60/40 line, you should see the tip-subsisting wait staff!
[ducks for cover]

Re seasteading, I wonder if anyone knows some examples of colonizing new environments in the past century that worked. Were any places formerly uneconomical to exist in but thanks to new technology, a successful town arose?

Las Vegas comes to mind.

Dams and aqueducts aren't really new technology; although maybe at the scale that waters the American West it is.

Maybe some tropical cities that couldn't exist with modern medicine? Could Brasilia exist without it?

And Phoenix? Would millions of octogenarians be able to live in the desert like that without air conditioning?

#3 Its all dog whistles and "micro-agressions", excuse me, "coding".

Kliman seems like a sad man, thinking about race all the time and filled with "white guilt".

Has he learned how to monetize it? Supposedly, Tim Wise lives in a house that's bucco nice.

Apropos of nothing, this is life in Nevada today.

#3. Not excellent. Awful.

Seasteading was always a joke.

In a 2009 essay, Thiel described these island paradises as a potential “escape from politics in all its forms.”

No politics? No rules? No courts? No laws? WTF is that about? Besides, how do you have any sort of organization that doesn't end up with politics?

“The high cost of open ocean engineering serves as a large barrier to entry and hinders entrepreneurship in international waters. This has led us to look for cost-reducing solutions within the territorial waters of a host nation.”

Wow. There's a surprise.

the dominant narrative that defines billion-dollar-plus startups such as Uber and Airbnb. Their rise is understood as a function of their willingness to defy government.

A function of their willingness to defy government? Look, I like uber and use it often. But what they are doing is applying modern communications technology to a stick-in-the-mud business. They have to fight regulations some places, but that's not the reason they are successful.

#8: I always thought net worth was assets minus liabilities. Income is just a component of worth.

#3: what a loser.

I was disappointed with number 6. It had been a while since I looked into labor force participation, so I did an update:

I don't think the Fed needs to be in any hurry to raise rates, but the labor market doesn't have weakness that is hidden by cyclically depressed labor force participation.

A more rational interpretation is that employers and economists have been fighting labor for decades, getting them to behave rationally to market signals and cut the supply of labor.

And labor supply has ceased to be sticky in the past decade and has been shrinking, JUST AS ECONOMISTS AND EMPLOYERS WANT.

Along with that call for reduced labor force is also the implied call for reduced or declining GDP, assuming they are actually understanding economics in the real world. TANSTAAFL.

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