Thursday assorted links


1917: The start of modern political discourse
1917: The Russian Revolution and the beginning of 20th-century socialism

Coincidence?? :)

If we accept this, then perhaps the next "era" of political discourse will begin around a new revolution that signifies the beginning of a new, 21st-century socialism. I'd keep my eye on Rojava, Kurdistan and Chiapas, Mexico for that.


Also WWI saw the introduction of much more extensive, technocratic, government in the USA and UK. I don't know about other countries.

17th Amendment also probably had a big effect. 1917 would be the first year the majority of the Senate was popularly elected.

The 17th Amendment had almost no effect. It merely altered some the distribution of social skills to be found in the Senate.

Of course the 17th Amendment had an effect. Pre-17th Senators were State employees who kept their jobs partly by respecting the 10th Amendment. Post-17th Senators relied on promising people in your state stuff (welfare) at the expense of people in other states.

The 17th and 19th created the American welfare state.

No, they were not state employees. They were federal employees. Keeping their jobs meant respecting the interests of state legislators. What those interests are depends on context. In the context in which we live, you swap out politicians talented at running large scale fund-raising and publicity campaigns and you substitute politicians who build relationships in legislative bodies. Neither are particularly adverse to public expenditure. You get fewer upChuck Schumers and more Greaser Al D'Amatos. That's all.

upChuck Schumer! Hilarious!

@ dsgntd_plyr: Does that suggest the U.S. government might be better if a larger share of its employees were unelected bureaucrats?

The 1917 state of the union address took place before the Russian revolution.

Scratch that. It was given in December(!). These days, it's given in January.

@Arjun: Chiapas? They have today satellite TV and a football team to get distracted of their problems.

The attention they got in the late 90s helped them a lot. They started the 90s with infant mortality rate in 46/1000, for 2013 it went down to 14/1000 and estimated to go to 10/1000 for 2020. Still high but not the oppressive poverty that cause revolutions. By 2020 it will be close to Mississippi level of 2014. Do you expect the 21st century socialism arising in Mississippi?

"the oppressive poverty that cause revolutions."

That's not how it works.

Yes, that's a not so strong point but the general idea is people living with relatively good life quality and expectations of improving are not going to leave home and die for ideals/desperation. It would be great to bet: more people of Chiapas going to the US for a job or revolution?

I have no evidence beyond my intuitions for this, but my guess is that the same personal properties that would incline you toward revolution at home also incline you toward emigration--lots of people who are healthy, young, and brave who might otherwise have been looking to fix the broken political system in Mexico probably decided instead to head to the US and make a better life here.

Revolutions are driven, top-down, by (usually) well educated malcontents. However, they need a large supply of cannon fodder. Gangs now siphon them off. And malcontents move into tenured positions.

"1917: The Russian Revolution" - were you thinking of the Revolution or of the Bolshevik coup d'etat afterwards?

I would think that the link to Woodrow Wilson, the father of modern progressivism and the imperial presidency, would be the most relevant here. This CNN article even claims that Wilson turned the State of the Union into a major speech and also began the modern presidential press conference [].

Correct, prior state of the unions were not political in the sense they were after Wilson. They tended to have lists or give status of programs like a CEO to the Board of Directors. Different audiences.

I believe that the federal budget in FY 1915/16 accounted for about 1.4% of gross domestic product, give or take. War expenditures were contextually huge, but the country had completely demobilized by the end of 1921. Even during the New Deal, the ratio of federal expenditure to domestic product did not exceed 0.07.

I imagine with a federal budget so small, there was an epidemic of homeless elderly individuals and people dying in the streets due to a lack of health insurance (and, you know, the lack of antibiotics).

"Recent experience has convinced me that the Congress must go further in authorizing the Government to set limits to prices. The law of supply and demand, I am sorry to say, has been replaced by the law of unrestrained selfishness."

- Woodrow Wilson; State of the Union. December 4, 1917

An economist of my acquaintance told me he'd had a conversation with Joseph Stiglitz when Siglitz had visited his campus for personal reasons. Among the things Stiglitz told him was that when he worked in the Clinton White House, he'd discovered that a great many policy disputes turn out to be arguments between economists and lawyers, who have quite distinct worldviews. Wilson was a lawyer. (And a tiresome prig).

it isn't really taking advantage of anything. it is making the server pay attention to how much they are giving you. the same thing at BBQ restaurants without the "THIS ONE INSIDIOUS TRICK WILL MAKE YOU THE MASTER OF THE SELF RIGHTEOUS INTERNET UNIVERSE" angle. If you order a full slab of ribs invariably you will have several puny ribs. Because you are getting like 12 ribs. But if you only order a half slab they will all be good ribs because a tiny rib looks bad. It is the same with this. They won't make you a tiny little scoop of something because it looks stingy.

5. Why would chefs be decrying the lack of competition? Classic supply and demand logic would say they should be celebrating it.

A chef is a manager. A cook is not.

They can't find anyone to work for $11/hour in a city with a median rent of $1200/month. Maybe they could try higher wages?

Prices should reflect scarcity. If there aren't enough workers available to cook your food, the price of restaurant meals should go up and the extra revenue can be spent increasing the wages of cooks to address the labor shortage.

It's the same as the farmers complaining that they can't find anyone to work a 12 hour shift in the hot sun picking peaches for $7.25/hour.

First with the alternative soundtrack to the Demon Sheep (for the previously unhip)

Regarding Singapore novels, Epigram Books (the publisher for the novel Tyler linked) is currently having a 50% off sale in honor of Singapore's 50th anniversary. That discount applies to the book in question, as well as their selection of "Singapore Classics". The books may be picked up at the publishers office, for those who frequent the country but do not have a shipping address there. The sale ends 15-Aug.

#2 If Chipotle takes a cue from the airlines, they should sue Mr Grosz to prevent him from even telling him anyone about this.

#8 "The soul of an octopus"

Wow! there are over 6300 proposals in the SXSW "panelpicker"... How many slots are all these proposals competing for?

1917 was around the first time that the State Of The Union address was spoken, rather than written -- so no wonder it is rhetorically distinct!

Technically, Washington and Adams delivered a speech as well, but it was directed to the legislature; when Wilson resumed the practice, he was speaking to the American people as well.

I think delivering the address in person was a practice resumed in 1913, not 1917.

#2 - I wait until the employee puts the first scoop of chicken on my burrito to ask for double chicken. The size of the first scoop isn't compromised by the knowledge that I'm getting a second scoop. The employee has also shown their default scoop size and have to match it a second time.

I also ask for medium salsa after they put on the mild, they don't charge for extra salsa that way. (I pay for the guacamole so I feel like this behavior is justified)

The mild salsa is essentially tomatoes, which are, to my mind, an entirely separate condiment from salsa. Similarly, you would not have to choose between cheese and sour cream. Once you get past the meat section, it is ridiculous to think that you don't get to choose basically every other topping. Sometimes people ask for the vegetarian veggies on their burrito, this is pushing it but still basically okay.

This is why Moe's is my preferred burrito place, it's set up more like subway, where burritos are priced based on the amount of meat and whether or not you want guacamole and everything else is added based on your choices. They also give away fresh tortilla chips and salsa.

They never charge for double salsa.

No, they never charge for double salsa, but they do get a bit annoyed and are trained to give you one serving and move onto cheese and sour cream options.

In my experience, I get less attitude and the process moves along quicker if I ask for medium salsa after they have added the mild.

Mastering the chipotle order process is important folks.

Even a simple wordcloud may be pretty revealing sometimes.

Those Chipotle and fast food hacks are all over reddit. Chipotle burritos are already too large for a single serving. Let's them beetus hacks.

#2 Why would I want 93% more rice? That's just cheap filler. Tacos >>>>>> Burritos.

#1 And folks should be paid to explore this question because...why? Who even asked the question?

#5 I'm shocked, SHOCKED! That the solution to a labor market problem is MOAR IMMIGRATION!!! Who could've predicted that?

Related. When did The Left stop caring about higher wages for workers? Because whenever immigration is mentioned Liberals make the case *for* low wage work.

I was . . . interesting . . . that the idea of paying cooks more didn't get much attention in that article. There was a mention that restaurants might not be rolling in money, but so what? Charge more if it's needed. If the article had said something like, "there is a huge shortage of chairs in restaurants. We used to be able to buy chairs for $3 each some time ago, but now we can't get any chairs for that amount, or they are crap if we can. What can we do?", people would think the people saying this were nuts. But they idea that they might have to pay people more seems too hard to understand. The market, it's a funny thing!

I agree, the obvious solution is to pay more money.

"5. Why the current shortage of cooks?"

" In New York, for instance, where an average cook can expect to make somewhere between $10 and $12 per hour, and the median rent runs somewhere upward of $1,200, living in the city is a near impossibility."

Ummm, yeah, I think I figured out how to solve your shortage.

So, yes, this is very interesting, and it's interesting to examine the contrast between Bernie Stander's stance on immigration and the modern Democratic party. Sanders recently commented that open borders was a Koch-brothers right wing thing.

I attribute the change to the increasing importance of identity politics within the Democratic party. The Democrats more and more are attempting to cater to racial and ethnic identity groups, who are generally poor, rather than old labor. Immigration is a huge issue for Hispanic voters, so there is an incentive to be more liberal on immigration, purely to court Hispanics. It's no longer really about working labor for them, it's about largely poor minority groups that are big consumers of social welfare services. To the extent that labor is still important to the Democrats it is public sector unions, where the jobs are often essentially mechanisms to provide low-skilled people with make work - school cafeterias, DMV clerks, etc.

I think it's easy (and common) to overemphasize the long-term strategy aspect of parties' and candidates' political positions. A lot of the time, they're taking the easy-to-argue-for or more-sympathetic-sounding side of the argument to make themselves look and/or feel good. One way you can see this: overwhelmingly, discussion of immigration policy tracks with the speaker's like or dislike of immigrants.

Now, this doesn't make any sense. Even if the average Salvadoran coming to the US to hang drywall is a deeply sympathetic character (as he kinda is, given that he's taking risks and enduring hardships to make a better life for himself through hard work), that doesn't tell you whether letting another 100,000 Salvadorans come to the US is good for the country. *That* question turns on the economic and social effects of the immigrants, how much they consume in government services/added burden to taxpayers, distributive effects (the Americans on the left tail of the bell curve are probably the big losers, but for obvious reasons they're neither articulate nor good at organizing), etc. And there are plenty of people who will discuss those issues (as Tyler and Alex will). But the average public voice on immigration is all about liking or disliking immigrants, or accusing others of doing so.

One thing I find particularly ironic is that African-Americans likely have the most to lose from increased immigration. They're disproportionately at the low-wage, low-skilled end of the scale where immigrants will come in and fill those jobs and replace them - people are less racist against Hispanics than against blacks. And yet Obama has shifted the D's towards a pro-immigrant stance.

There are a couple of plausible explanations for this one in my opinion.

1. Black people are strongly averse to anything that sounds like racism.

2. Black people elites know that more immigrants mean more leftwing voters which means a weaker White Conservative Establishment.

3. Black voters don't like mass immigration but prefer a leftwing party with mass immigration to a Rightwing party without it.

4. Black voters just aren't that informed about the impacts of mass immigration on their wages and have been told repeatedly that their suffering is the result of the aforementioned White Conservative Establishment.

"But the average public voice on immigration is all about liking or disliking immigrants, or accusing others of doing so."

Quite often charges of racism are used to shut the debate down. It's a scurrilous tactic, but it is effective.

Michael Lind, the odd critic of mass immigration in the Democratic Party, wrote an article about 15 years ago which included an account of an off-the-record conversation with a Democratic Party campaign maven. The point in this man's mind was importing more Democrats, because the non-exotic wage earner was a lost cause for the Democratic Party. Tony Blair pursued the same course of action in Britain. That tells you who the portside party is loyal to, and it ain't us. The Harry-Truman-era Democratc Party is long gone.

Another curio has been the disposition of black politicians. A generation ago Barbara Jordan and Coretta Scott King (to name two) were antagonistic to mass immigration and used their influence in the Democratic Party to resist it. Nowadays, black pols care more for their deals with hispanic pols then they do for the economic interests of their own constituents.

It's all about the government spigot.
Putting Democrats in power so they can hand out goddies from the public coffers takes precedence over the negative effects of immigration on their constituents in the private market. it's all good if you assume that the amount of free stuff oughtwighs the loss in wages and employment.

Also, the tools to harass despised subcultural groups enters into it. The Democratic Party is a stew of aggression.

"Quick, open the borders before someone gets a pay raise!"

There's surely been plenty written about a "geopolitical 20th century" as beginning with the onset of WWI and ending with the collapse of the USSR (and its extra-territorial empire). But instead of looking for trends in the SoTU, one might look at progress in standardization of common objects, such as screw threads.

Efforts toward national standardization of mechanical fasteners accelerated during WWI, but international standardization lagged; apparently there was still a good deal of incompatibility in fasteners among allies during WWII. The Unified Thread Standard (for inch-based screw sizes and threads) was not adopted (by the Screw Thread Standardization Committees of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States) until 1949.

Today ISO metric screw threads has (mostly) been adopted worldwide, yet ISO did not exist until 1949, and it was not until 1960 that SI units were formally adopted. Perhaps international trade would have eventually driven international standardization, yet in fact the world wars, with their need for co-ordination between allied forces, seem to have been the primary drivers here.

(Just to contrast a Small Data interpretation against the paper's Big Data view.)

1. I noticed the sentence set off at the end, "The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Columbia University."

In other words, the post is simply a re-written press release.

#2. I've seen my boyfriend basically do this. it was hilarious. He asks for extra rice and then basically every other topping, including the grilled veggies and the corn salsa, but not the guacamole. The problem is that the server has no knoledge of what you are going to add later and thus cannot calibrate earlier portions for the size or number of toppings your going to add.

Granted, I'm sure Chipotle calibrates their price under the assumption that some people are going to order bigger burritos. Many people can't finish a whole one and won't want to take half a burrito as leftovers so there's a limit to how big the typical customer will make them.

#5 Where is Dean Baker's article that employers could simply pay more money here? In reality most skill working class positions have not had a real wage raise increase since the Nixon adminstration (some in late 1990s but not enough to cover the fall from 1974 -1993) So maybe libertarian nightmare that working families will get a raise might happen.

Two other points:
1) I don't believe immigration is a solution, as these are skilled positions and I believe it is mostly second (not first) generation Hispanic people taking the positions.
2) It appears the market has a major sheepskin effect here. My guess is employers have cut back so much on the job training the last 50 years (restaurants did not need the degree 50 years ago) that they only want culinary school candidates that are falling in numbers.

Tyler, there is a lot of coming shortage in skilled working class jobs that employers are going to have to train their work forces. What would you recommend?

"So maybe libertarian nightmare that working families will get a raise might happen."

You really don't understand libertarian philosophy at all. Libertarians are absolutely for businesses paying the market rate for labor and for employees demanding as much money as they can get. Libertarian's are against government mandates forcing people to work for less than the market rate (slavery, peonage, etc) or government mandates forcing businesses to pay more than the market rate (minimum wage, forced unionization, etc).

Any belief that it's a Libertarian nightmare for working families to get a raise is not coming from a Libertarian.

I completely exagerated my claim and understand that libertarians want market rates. So why isn't Tyler suggesting higher wages for skilled working class positions or employers play more of role in the training of employees? That would end the shortage with free markets.

From liberatarians, there has to be a big concern that developed world family sizes are shrinking A LOT and I don't see this turning around. Why? Because the optimal age to be married and have children is 30+ so small family sizes are shrinking which will decrease the workforce in 20 years. And since skilled working class jobs have had very stagant wages, I believe this is impacting family size. In 1960 a hard working man could earn a decent living and be married and a father by 25. (I suspect this is why Bryan Caplan hates education so much. He wants the return of the young working class married and children by 25.)

That doesn't seem to be the way things are going according to demographers:

"In 1960 a hard working man could earn a decent living and be married and a father by 25."

That's often stated, but it's essentially a cherry picked statement with little meaning to modern society. It didn't apply to black males or females. The wages of white males in the 1950's & 1960's was artificially propped up by the exclusion of black males and females to much of the work place and by most of the rest of the developed world recovering from the effects of WW2.

And even with those caveats the median household makes more money in real terms than it did in 1968.

"So why isn’t Tyler suggesting higher wages for skilled working class positions or employers play more of role in the training of employees?"

If you'll look at the historical data (scroll to the bottom to see the inflation adjusted numbers) you'll note that the changes to median household income have been substantial for the top 60% of households (3rd, 4th & 5th quintiles). Modest for the 2nd quntile. And meager for the lowest quintile.

It's not the skilled labor force that has stagnant wages, it's the unskilled and semi-skilled labor force.

Household incomes increasing is not the same as wages...Household income shot up in the 1970 and 1980s a lot because there were a lot more two income and there are a lot more educated jobs out there.

My simple take is the skill working class position are getting tight because the Boomers are retiring and later generations have avoided these positions. (I work with truck companies so there is a shortage of diesel mechanics and truck drivers.) chose to enter these jobs as they won't paying as well and now the shortages are coming. As mentioned the businesses might have to train some of the employees for these jobs instead of employees paying for the schooling.

"I would be surprised if the slowdown in Mexican immigration isn't responsible for more of the problem than many people realize," said Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University who has written extensively about the economics of restaurants. "This sector is, as anyone in it will tell you, kept afloat by immigrants, especially Latinos. They're essential to its health."

Right. There was no restaurants before the Mexicans came.

5. Why the current shortage of cooks?

When they say shortage, they must mean that they cannot recruit cooks at a wage that is low enough to keep them happily in the business. The thing about eating out is the demand is not strong if prices rise, people will eat at home more.

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