Tuesday assorted links


#1: Let me summarize it: the Democratic party is not representing the interests of blue-collar workers (and NAMs) any more, and that's great, because they are losers anyway. All welcome our new tech overlords!

Democratic party is not representing the interests of blue-collar workers. The blue-collar workers rejected the Democratic Party in the elections 1980 - 1988 and then they voted for Ross Perot in 1992. Since then they have been the elusive voter deciding the elections despite neither party can return the workers to the economic model of 1960. A family with a single income worker with union protection.

To me, "blue collar" doesn't mean only the workers who are employed in manufacturing (literary wearing blue overalls) but everyone whose job doesn't require college education. Most of these workers are not member of the unions. Also, large majority of NAMs are "blue collar" by this definition.

Simple the number of blue collar workers with union membership was a lot higher in 1960 than it is today. And because blue collar working was dominated by union workforce, there was probably was some spillover benefits for less unions jobs like small company drivers or mechanics. The definition of laid off your job in 1960 meant the company had to 'lay off' workers due to cost cuts but would hire first these workers when times improved. (Just watch the Honeymooners as Ralph is constantly laid off and rehired)

The number of families supported themselves with retail jobs was a lot lower in 1960 and most retail was worked by second wage females or young 16 -24 workers.

And finally, this is the historical memory of 1960 as well so it does not represent a perfect reality.

So, whose interests does Hillary Clinton represent (other than her own, of course)?

Bill Clinton ran as a "New Democrat," but Hillary seems more of an Old Democrat? (No, not her age: her politics). Whatever she's selling, it's certainly not "The age of big government is over" (let alone libertarianism).

If you want to see one place where the battle between the two groups in the Democratic Party is happening, look at Uber. The wealthy, educated, tech-oriented Dems really want their Uber, while the taxi drivers and their hard-bought local politicians (e.g. DeBlasio) want the competition from Uber blocked.


Why would reorienting the democratic party towards the concerns of a small sub-set of the affluent make any sense? There are not that many tech billionaires.

Tech overlord friendly politicians won't necessarily win even in silicon valley. Silicon valley has lots of the traditional democratic constituents. Lots of the ethnic groups that traditionally vote democratic. Old school democrats do perfectly well there.

Donations of course!

They are going to get the Black and Mexican vote in any case.

5: Egad, that was excruciating. The Vogons cannot compare.

I've barely begun the poetry but the prose leading up to it is rancid. Somebody trying that hard to be smart and funny and failing at it should apply to be an NPR host pronto.

That, too. Flowery language. Very flowery.

The largest flowers smell like rotten meat.

Not to belabor the point but every intellectual try-hard who wants to be hip enough to reference the Grateful Dead uses the the exact same tired reference. Out of a massive catalog, "what a long, strange trip" is the best any of these hacks can muster.

If Hillary doesn't bust that line out with winking self-satisfaction on the campaign trail while Ivy-hippies everywhere finger themselves, I'll eat my shoe.

I'll admit, I just skimmed through that the first time. They actually name-dropped the Grateful Dead at the same time.

And here, I was just thinking "emetic tripe" was an oddly constructed mixing of metaphors.

Ha, yes, good catch there.

#7. I read somewhere on the interwebs (probably here) that a lot of high-performing players in English-language scrabble are not from English speaking backgrounds.

That said: all the good scrabble players I know are fluent English speaking crossword fiends with a talent for puns. Or at least a liking for puns. It seems there are two strategies.

There are too strategies. Three points, please.


He is just trying to buy his way out of Hell for Phantom Menace.

He could cure cancer and still have debt left over on that one.

"Old woman, old woman,
You robbed her of three minutes peace of mind,
And though you live unto a hundred years,
And wash the feet of beggars and give alms,
And climb Croaghpatrick, you shall not be pardoned."-- The Countess Cathleen by W. B. Yeats

He's pissed at his neighbors for scuttling his studio plan, so trying to strike at their home values.

"George Lucas’ wealthy neighbors rejected a proposal for him to expand his film studio onto a piece of California property.

Now the filmmaker is seemingly striking back.

The “Star Wars” creator unveiled plans Thursday to build a massive affordable housing complex consisting of 224 homes on the Bay Area land, KPIX-TV reported."

This looks suspiciously like an "Up Yours" to the neighbors.

And who can blame him?
Personally, i think it's a hilarious come-back. Socially speaking, in uppity California liberal circles, it's acceptable to oppose a nearby movie studio, especially one as vulgar as LucasFilm. But it's so not acceptable to be against "affordable housing". Despite the fact that the last thing these people want nearby, even worse than a movie studio, is a bunch of sweaty vulgar plebians stinking up the area with their McDondalds and their Walmart.

Can you blame them?

This would make a great documentary. I could root for/against both sides.

Blame them or not, the Marin liberals cannot publicly talk about opposing certain types of people (other than Republicans) living near them, especially not the economically disadvantaged, without tarnishing their social justice cards. The torturous construction of their objections will be exciting for this spectator.

Well the Wal-Mart would be missing--no way the classy Marin County would approve such a parasitic big box style establishment--but yeah.

There may be some slight cognitive dissonance, but Teddy Kennedy and his neighbors had no problem opposing windmills on Cape Cod, and I don't fancy Lucas's neighbors will hesitate any longer in opposing his plans than the average libertarian professor hesitates before taking a job at a state university.

It seems perfectly acceptable to be against affordable housing in California; see all of the regulations in SF that prevent high-rise apartments from being built. Preserving the rich, white, genteel look of SF is much more important than making housing affordable for anybody.

Now there are enough millionaires. Not before he became one though.

#1: This was really, really interesting essay

>At its core, the book argues that changes in the economy also changes the political ideology in power

This is something Marxists have been saying since the mid-1800s, modeled in a somewhat reductive way by grand-daddy Marx himself in the base-superstructure model (the base, the economy, determines the superstructure, being political and social institutions)

However, I am not very optimistic on the potential for tech billionaires to push society into progressive directions; the data here shows that they hold somewhat progressive ideas around some issues, but rest assured that their liberal ideas are firmly elite-centric; in situations where maintaining wealth and power are in contradiction with collectivism, meritocracy, environmental protections, etc., you can be certain that they'll choose the former.

Which is to say, I don't think tech billionaires are going to do much about the distribution of power in modern society.

It seemed to me that they were suggesting that the Dems will be pushed closer to Libertarian philosophies and away from backing unions. The latter is clearly evident, though it's hard to attribute it to tech billionaires.

I actually think the Parties are moving towards the Matt Yglesias Democrats and Ross Douthat Republicans.

Ah, the Morons-Without-Courage Party.

I actually think Ross is pretty brave to publish some of the Catholic-themed junk he writes.

On some issues, yes, tech elites are more libertarian; but on other issues (i.e. state intervention into people's health choices) they are firmly pro-government. So there are some interesting contradictions here when you view these by rigid ideological categories, but these contradictions disappear if you look at them through the lens of class power.

I live in San Francisco, and work at a start-up in Silicon Valley. Most of the techies that I know are apolitical in the sense that they think government is too slow or useless. They aren't really "joiners" either. What do they believe? You mention state intervention into people's health choices, but they are definitely not supportive of the government regulating consumer genetics or having to get a doctor's approval for a blood test for instance. I really think on most issues they trend towards libertarian. If I rack my brain, I could probably find some issues where they are pro-government as you say, but that doesn't really register as a solution to them. Why try to get a law passed, when you can invent an app for it is probably a good way to summarize their point of view.

I have no data to back up any of these assertions of course.

That doesn't matter. Who do they vote for? What politicians and organizations do they donate to? What columnists do they read? What do they tweet?

Rationally they share the religious right's skepticism of government. Emotionally they drift toward the progressive activism of the left.

Do people vote rationally or emotionally?

See what Keynes wrote about Marx.

They don't need no democrat party. They can sit in their BVD's, pull out their internet checkbooks and redistribute wealth. Same same Warren Buffett.

The article was interesting, but I am having trouble getting over the cognitive dissonance. They want more regulation, in health care, environment, housing, everything but their own area of discipline (see: Uber, copyright laws, immigration).

There is an old saw about how a person is most libertarian (or was it conservative?) in the field that they know best. I've always thought that to be seriously off the mark, but I guess these tech billionaires are out to prove me wrong.

They're constitutional (little c!) libertarians who believe that a large part, if not majority, of the population are too dull to make wise choices by themselves. Liberty for me, paternalism for thee.

Or else they just grew up in a millieu where everyone knows that nice, intelligent people are left wing so they have left-wing opinions about anything they don't care about and libetarian opinions about the few things they think about.

Well that's a relief. A society run by tech billionaires may not be perfect but it sounds a lot better than Marxism, either traditional or the watered down version you espouse. In point of fact meritocracy is not a progressive idea. Liberalism has always stressed that' the provision of equality of opportunity is a positive force that leads to implements in society. Progressives instead believe in a doctrine of equality of outcome and that meritocracy in fact supports "elite centric outcomes", which of course it does.

"Progressives instead believe in a doctrine of equality of outcome and that meritocracy in fact supports “elite centric outcomes”, which of course it does."

Says who? Not Progressives.

Actually, Marxism has long been quick to wrap itself up in "scientific socialism". This is yet another iteration of the fallacy of the elites. Been there, done that.

Most progressives I know/have known favor equality of opportunity. Haven't known any to say they want equality of outcome. Many will decry current unequal outcomes, but I understand the primary criticism to be that those outcomes resulted from unequal opportunities. The exception to this may be the tip top of the income distribution, where many find it hard to justify CEOs and bankers making tens of thousands times what their employees make.

Beauty is word deep.
Why select these arbiters?
Bad and good abounds.

my haiku lost formatting :-(

+1 for bad poetry

#1: I think Greg Ferenstein is intellectually just a half-step away from becoming a fanatical devotee of Vilfredo Pareto's sociological writings.

#1. "The ultimate goal is to make life as close to the college experience as possible"

The main college experience is not research and study but a frat party. Welcome our Animal House Overlords.

Group of young Aspergers cases given way too much power too fast want to recreate environment most unlike real world as possible. This should work out about as well as all those twenty somethings that got elevated to Emperor in Roman times.

Which is to say a mixed bag?

They earned what they have, it is more than can be said for Republican plutocrats. Not to mention that, unlike most of their detractors and the yokels Republican usually pay lip service to, they seem to have done pretty well in the "real world".

Sam Walton earned what he had just as much as Marc Zuckerberg. What are you talking about?

I'd take engineers and business people in the real economy over the person who "invented" things like Twitter when we are talking about earning ones keep in the real world.

3. Sure, the mobile web sucks; but people are still using it. If one mobile website takes too long to load, readers can go read a different website. The fact that they don't go elsewhere tells you that they're OK with it.

Compare with television: if a channel outputs 59 minutes of commercials per hour they'll have no viewers; but if they output just one minute of commercials they won't make enough money. Over time the number has settled to around 15 minutes per hour. Popular shows can pump more ads and people will stick around to watch. We're just seeing the same phenomenon on the web.

Paraphrasing Berra, the Mobile Web is so slow no one uses it anymore.

Everything web sucks. Basic browsing is OK, everything else is basically worthless. Web videos suck, web user interfaces are bad beyond belief, blogs and forums in stone age of usability.

you're right. the internet is in a sorry state, it is kind of worse than when it first got started.

What self-respecting Silicon Valley nerd wants to be associated with the party of stupid. Maybe the party of dreamers and the naive, much like the Silicon Valley nerds themselves, but not the party of stupid.

Agreed, the party of evil is definitely a more natural fit.

You two don't seem to know what you are talking about. The techies out here come in all flavors.

The techies are mostly white, male, high income and entrepreneurial. That would normally tend to signal a strong affinity for conservatism.

However, these are greatly outweighed by the liberal societal norms of northern California. They don't support the GOP because it's culturally unacceptable to support a party that opposes climate change legislation, gay rights and "diversity". They also don't approve of the general religiosity of the Right. Highly logical people (as software engineers must be) tend to frown on Jesus talk.

As Andrew Gelman documented, having a high income (and being white, male, etc.) signals a strong affinity for the GOP in red states. In blue states, these things signal a stronger affinity toward what one call moderate libertarianism. This makes the association between income and propensity to vote Republican much weaker in blue states many of these people care quite a bit about social issues.

Your comment is consistent with all of this -- I think it's just worth pointing out this isn't just true of Northern California but is a more general blue state phenomenon.

Most techies I know are socially liberal but fiscally conservative, with maybe a bit of nudge-style social engineering thrown in. What party is that?

It's the prevailing party wherever you happen to live, because socially awkward people with no genuine convictions tend to go along with whatever their neighbors say.

#1 - The rift was earlier, starting with the Hard Hat Riots in NYC. Since then, the Democrats have tiptoed away from the working class as too white, too provincial, too armed and too religious. So now the Democrat Part is all about identity politics to avoid talking about things like off-shoring and importing cheaper, browner labor. That's why stupid old white men like Bernie Sanders who talk en he talks about the poorhouses and the chimney sweeps union are going to get booed by the Democrats' most loyal demographic. The leadership are hoping that sensible white lady in the pants suit wins the nomination to postpone that circular firing squad brewing on the Left. But to win she needs ... the white working class. What to do, what to do. Of course, Trump vs. the Republican Party is the same thing playing out on the Right.

We have needed an election campaign like the one shaping up in 2016 for some time.

You're ignoring a bunch of complexities here. The Democratic Party was, and continues to be, about superficial notions about how to help the disenfranchised (working-class, people of color, etc.), mainly by appealing to elites from these areas (i.e. union leaders, black political figureheads) who have little to no real connection with the masses they claim to represent and speak for.

The white working class was split in 1970 (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2013/09/the-myth-of-the-hardhat-hawk/), and is split today--mostly because neither party actually addresses their interest. The same is true for people of color, and women, and LGBTQ people.

This sounds just about right, and the biggest thing the Democrats have been trying to do lately, with the "War on Women" is pump up a female identity-politics based group to serve as Hillary's base of support.
The problem is Obama's coalition was based so heavily on blacks and hispanics that bringing in a white women requires some shuffling of their electoral strategy. Bill Clinton had the white working class but that demographic doesn't mix well with the black and hispanic immigrants that Obama has brought in. So we have an older wing of the Democratic party kind of fighting for Hillary to represent the traditional white working class interests that Bill had, against a newer younger wing that's trying to build an identity-politics group around women's interests. It's unclear to me if either one is really a viable strategy though.

When a political party starts harping on cultural war of identity politics issues, the first question to ask is whether they are seeking votes or seeking donor dollars. My guess in the example you cite is the latter. Obama -- and most other serious candidates -- have smart people working for them and are well-informed enough themselves to know that economic issues are much more important when it comes to getting votes. Even then, Presidential elections at any rate are increasingly decided by a relatively small number of people living in a handful of swing states. It is unlikely either party is going to make major changes in how they actually appeal to voters.

On economic issues, women -- yes, even white women -- tend to lean Democratic. The reasons aren't obscure either. Women, on average, earn less than men, face higher levels of economic uncertainty and -- especially for single or divorced mothers who assume primary responsibility for taking care of their children -- have rather understandable reasons for wanting a safety net or basic social insurance in place. Republicans -- again, not surprisingly -- get the most votes from women who are either married or have high-paying jobs.

Grossly oversimplified. Both parties, of course, "tiptoe away" from poorer constituencies to some extent because so much focus goes toward fundraising. The relative decline of unions has predictable consequences for how much attention Democrats pay to them.

That said, just about every exit poll and opinion poll in existence confirms that poorer people tend to vote Democrat and wealthier people tend to vote Republican.

Wrong. The wealthiest vote Democrat. The top 25 wealthiest counties, wealthiest zip codes, wealthiest congressional districts all vote D by very large margins. And the polls of the highest earners vote a majority D.

It's easy to forget that unions still represent the biggest source of donations: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

If you want to fly for free just get an airline job, they will actually pay you. It doesn't change the fact that the best airline cabin is worse than any reasonable home and less interesting than any campsite. Furthermore, the only good seat on a plane is the one where the pilot in command is sitting.

I guess I disagree with the conclusions about silicon valley. The keystone pipeline hasn't been built, immigration is still painful and mostly illegal even though it would be fairly easy to get something enacted to allow people from top schools a clear path to citizenship, and charter schools are still mostly prohibited. It is along way from what tech really wants which is individualized education without required physical attendance.

Anyway, if you are in tech and value liberty leave California. Lets get as much capital and talent to Texas, Utah, and fight them to the best of our ability.

random unrelated comment of the day on #1: They have one totally unrelated graph which shows how preschool teachers are overwhelmingly blue and police sergeants overwhelmingly red. They might as well have changed the caption to "women" and "men", the same ballpark percentage would apply.

Not really, actually; women lean Democrat, but the percentages are much smaller than the preschool teacher-police sergeant gap


"Women lean Democratic by 52%-36%; men are evenly divided (44% identify as Democrats or lean Democratic; 43% affiliate with or lean toward the GOP)."

"The ultimate goal is to make life as close to the college experience as possible: a life dedicated to research, exploration, and creativity, while automation ensures that everyone has enough food and leisure time to pursue their unique contribution to the world."

1. This was not my experience at Fancy U.

2. It does remind me of this wistful passage from Pollyanna that I read at Fancy U.: "In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic."

Was any communist society ever remotely like that?

In practice pretty much all communist societies immediately devolved into everyone spying on their neighbors and making sure to look like they were constantly busy will doing no more than the bare minimum amount of work. If anyone was caught hunting, fishing, or raising cattle just as they had a mind, they would have been reported immediately to the local committee and sent to some labor camp for reform. Almost everyone in the USSR was pigeonholed as X type of worker and ONLY X. Nobody got to do whatever they wanted. If you had a talent for gymnastics, the Party would identify you in grade school and ship you off to a training facility where you did nothing but that until you got too old for it.

"Almost everyone in the USSR was pigeonholed as X type of worker and ONLY X. Nobody got to do whatever they wanted."

-The U.S.S.R. wasn't North Korea, Hazel. You still got to choose your job, but persistent unemployment was not just nonexistent, but illegal.

If everyone got to choose their job, the USSR would have been full of millions of movie stars. I'm pretty sure the selection was limited and people were "placed" at jobs where the state felt they were most useful.

Not really. People chose courses of study and could compete for limited spots in their preferred department at university, and in jobs, based on test scores and qualifications, once they finished studying. I lived in a former Soviet country for a while and I don't remember anyone ever telling me the state had just decided what their job was going to be for them. It wasn't like you could just show up at the bakery because you decided that was your destiny, and I'm sure there were more limited options than we have, but it didn't sound all that limited. Now I did hear about people getting harassed by local officials if they just decided to stop working. Unemployment wasn't tolerated and they would help even alcoholics find some crappy job that I'm sure they didn't enjoy.

In East Germany, in case you voiced your disapproval of the communist party line then you would NOT be allowed in certain (interesting) studies and jobs. Been there, done that. Whatever anyone is telling you, the system we now have in Germany is vastly superior for personal liberty.

No one who's ever actually worked a skilled job a day in their life would have written that. It's absurd. If you try to "fly an airliner in the morning, design memory chips in the afternoon, perform orthopedic surgery in the evening", you probably won't live to pontificate over literature after dinner, seeing as they all require months or years of training just to even start out in. Of course, what Marx really meant was that if you just do what he says you'll be able to eat ice cream in the morning, drive race cars in the afternoon, and bone hot chicks in the evening, but if he'd put it that way no one would have taken him seriously.

The tech-topians do share this flaw with Marx. They think the end state of society is one in which everyone is pretty much like them and shares their taste for high-brow pursuits.

For the average high-IQ tech geek, the internet is a dream come true in terms of the amount of knowledge that it places at your fingertips and the opportunities it provides to collaborate with others on new projects. For many others, it's the place where you can share cat pictures and watch videos of guys falling off skateboards or being kicked in the nuts. Which also illustrates the diversity in the college experience between high-IQ, intellectually curious geeks and, well, lots of others.

I mean I GUESS beer gardens and Game of Thrones are high-brow pursuits. I mean I GUESS.

A great day indeed. I read an article almost a whole day before Tyler posted it!

#4 was a cool story but incredibly too long and not very well written. I really would like to know just how he managed to have his parents pay less money for a first class ticket than an economy flight. *shrug*

Paragraph 1: writer thinks "comprise" means "constitute" --> paragraph 2: did not read

#1 - The problem with that analysis is that all of that political power is concentrated in one or two metropolitan areas, so will probably not translate to the national level, where a party's political power needs to be distributed across states to have influence in both the presidential and congressional elections.

Not to mention that the broader Democratic party appears to becoming more populist and hostile to the meritocracy oriented culture of silicon valley, not more accepting of it, especially when you look at the growing popularity of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Look at how Uber divides Silicon Valley. Some liberal workers' rights folks hate getting converted into "contractors". Others are existing taxi drivers and hate competition. The contractors and consumers of Uber's services love it.

#7 It is interesting to note that there is a significant number of Nigerians in the WESPA list.

#7 Wow, of the top 100 scrabble players in the world listed in the WESPA list, 22 are from Nigeria, the highest number of nationals. That weaken the claim that the high performing Nigerians immigrants in UK are specially selected.


18|United States







2|New Zealand



Comments for this post are closed