Thursday assorted links


Zero comments? Coke Zero tastes great.

But Mexican coca-cola tastes even better. Here in the Philippines the sad truth is that they mix high-fructose corn syrup with the sugar in regular Coke. Shame, shame. Coca-Cola (PH) also sells an 'off-brand' coke that tastes about the same as regular coke, but half the price, called "Pop Cola"

I was told Asian Coke is much better the one they sell in the West.

Kosher Coca-Cola, which contains sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup, is also alleged to taste much better. It's the one with no cap on the bottle.

That's kosher for passover coca-cola, all other times of the year HFCS is kosher.

I like West African Coke best. More cinnamon.

I've had foreign, regular sugar Coke quite a few times. Personally, I don't detect a huge difference in flavor, but I do find the regular sugar version to be less harshly fizzy.

Mexican coke is all over New Orleans. I don't know who is doing the importing, but it's done at a commercial scale with U.S. nutrition labels slapped on the bottle. And yes, it tastes much better.

Matt Yglesias' piece at Vox is rather remarkable. It's rare that the progressive express their desire for a dictator so openly: "Committed Democrats and liberal-leaning interest groups are facing a reality in which any policy gains they achieve are going to come through the profligate use of executive authority, and Clinton is almost uniquely suited to deliver the goods. More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned."

It does not surprise me at all, coming from Yglesias. I used to read him regularly when he wrote for The Atlantic; he has not made it a point to hide his contempt for people who do not share his ideology.

"A system of government based on the idea of compromises between two independently elected bodies will only work if the leaders of both bodies want to compromise. Congressional Republicans have rejected any form of compromise"

I think by compromise Matt means, you give us everything we want, and we will stop calling you extremists for a while.

Not Yglesias in particular. Pretty much all of them. Mark Shields might mean something different; he's also nearly 80 years old and was a staff aide to politicians who retired a generation ago.

Should we consider it a failure of the system that a significant enough segment of the population would rather gum up the works than compromise with the other side? Is compromised always assumed? Is it not working as intended?

Matt Yglesias wonders how, in a world that requires technical skill and social skills, those of us in the room have survived. It seems that most work for think tanks, newspapers, and other non-profits. Tyler replies that our presence in the room is indicative of marketing skills. Each of us has proven adept at marketing, with wealthy donors as our consumers in most cases...

What most concerns the discussants, including McArdle, William Galston, Jonathan Rauch, and Brink Lindsey, are the social implications of losing the middle class... Tyler insists that societies will not fracture, nor will redistributionist demagogues take power. Factors favoring stability include aging, surveillance technology, the skill of the rich at controlling the political environment, nativism, NIMBYism, and the basic comfort achieved by the lower class. He points out that Britain and Germany are farther along than the U.S. in the growth of the new lower class, and their societies appear to be stable–Merkel just won re-election by a wide margin.

Tyler says that in the long run mood-altering drugs may be a solution. Teles suggests that Tyler’s next book will be The Great Medication.

- Arnold Kling

Would a dicatorship be worse than plutocracy + a surveillance state + soma?

Yglesias (in Drum) writes of the extra-legal presidency: "I don't think this is a positive development, but it's the only possible development."
The only possible development? I guess figuring out how to moderate your platform and going to work winning elections in Red districts is just too hard for contemporary Democrats; better to just rush down the path to Chavezism.

What opportunities to moderate/compromise did Democrats/Obama miss?

What opportunities to moderate/compromise did Republicans miss?

What are the most immoderate positions of today's Democrats?

What are the most immoderate positions of today's Republicans?

I'm inclined toward the Hare, Poole, Rosenthal view that the GOP moving rightward is what's driving dysfunction ( Is there a different dataset that shows extremism is symmetrical?

She is the smartest liberal on the planet, which says more about liberals than about her. Hillary is a psychopathic liar and completely incompetent. Russia and Iran have won the world's largest oil producing areas; the ME and North Africa are in chaos; etc. Ergo, who better than Hillary to lead the accelerating drive to the end of the World as we know it?

I have to agree with you. Hillary is grossly abnormal, and it's indicative of the portside political culture of our time that this is considered acceptable.

You incline to the poin of view that flatters your prejudices? That's a refreshingly new hot take.

That's why I asked for a different dataset.....


Let me offer an easy example of a compromise Obama deliberately missed. Using a tiny fraction of the ARRA money he could have built a fence along the border with Mexico and stopped illegal border crossing (which is only part of illegal immigration). He could have made E-Verify national (de facto using Social Security no-match letters).

Having secured the border and cracked down on illegal employment, some type of Amnesty would have been an easy sell in Congress.

Instead, Obama went for unilateral Amnesties using his executive authority.

Why? Because Obama never wanted any type of compromise on immigration. He wanted (and still wants) Open Borders and a compromise would get in the way.

Just one example.

You are aware that during the early years of Obama's presidency net immigration turned negative (largely due to the bad economy) so despite all the storm and bluster on the racist Right it really wasn't a problem? Certainly not one we needed to build a Great Wall of America to solve.
As for E-verify, it's a Maginot Line defense, since it can easily be circumvented by identity theft, especially if the employer is in on the scheme (and the whole problem is that a great many employers are down with hiring illegal aliens).

What does illegal immigration have to do with race?


"You are aware that during the early years of Obama’s presidency net immigration turned negative"

Sorry, wrong country, president (or planet). Net immigration was never negative. See "U.S. Immigration Trends" from the MPI. See "U.S. Immigrant Population and Share over Time, 1850-Present". Not even close as it turns out.

"so despite all the storm and bluster on the racist Right it really wasn’t a problem?"

Two problems. First, unless you are presuming that the U.S. economy will be in a desperate crisis comparable to 2008/9 forever, using data from 2008/9 makes no sense. It also makes no sense to base long-term immigration policy on a crisis period, unless you happen to think that the crisis will be permanent. A fence would have been an excellent ARRA project to provide construction jobs in the short-term and job protection for Americans when the economy revived.

See also "2.5 million illegals cross border under Obama, less than Bush"

However, your reference to the "racist Right" is absurd. The Open Borders crowd is rife with racism (far more than the restrictionists). The leading Hispanic advocacy group is La Raza (NCLR). La Raza translates as "The Race" in English. That sounds bad. The truth is much worse. La Raza was actually invented by a Nazi sympathizer/activist in Mexico. Some folks in the NCLR have suggested changing the name. No luck so far.

"Certainly not one we needed to build a Great Wall of America to solve"

As my links (and many other sources show) demonstrate, relying on an economic crisis to stop illegal immigration isn't going to work. Fences work (see Israel) and work rather well. Since illegals enter the U.S. other ways, a fence isn't the total solution, but it would assuredly help. Since the least-skilled illegal immigrants tend to enter the U.S. via the border, it would have some positive selection effects.

As for the limitations of E-Verify, it's not perfect either. However, it has identity controls built-in and is far tougher than what we have now (nothing as it turns out). The fact that all of the cheap labor lobbies and pro-illegal groups bitterly oppose any fence and E-Verity should tell you something. They know that a fence will help stop illegals and E-Verify will cut off a great many illegal jobs.

Re: Peter Schaeffe

Net ILLEGAL immigration did turn negative for a while. It's my mistake that I did not specify that.
I am presuming nothing about the future-- I am talking about the past which is what the original post I was replying to was talking about (Why didn't Obama do thus-and-such six years ago?)

Re: it has identity controls built-in and is far tougher than what we have now (nothing as it turns out).

What we have now is the requirement to produce documentation showing you are either A) a citizen or B) allowed to work here. Which can be circumvented if an employer decides not to ask for the documentation and/or the applicant has fake documents. Same with E-Verify. However E-verify also has the bad feature that perfectly legit Americans can be black-balled from employment due to some bureaucrat's flub in the bowels of the SSA. I consider that to be stone-hard unacceptable (unless there's a plan B allowed for those instances where alternate documents are still acceptable-- but then we are right back where we are now)

Yeah, a fence will stop illegal immigration.

Even the Berlin Wall needed a heavily armed military presence to stop people from getting across, and some still did. A fence will cost a lot of money and slow people down for about two minutes.


"Yeah, a fence will stop illegal immigration"

Actually it will stop illegal immigration over the border with Mexico. See "What America can learn from Israel's West Bank security barrier." (Slate). Quote

"Here's one lesson Americans can definitely draw from the Israeli experience of building a fence to separate them from the Palestinians: High fences don't always make good neighbors. It didn't happen in the West Bank, and it probably won't happen in Texas. The country that builds the fence buys a sense of security, but the people prevented from getting to work, or shopping, or marrying someone on the other side will not be thankful for it. And the reason is pretty obvious: Fences work."

Your reference to the Berlin wall would be funny if it wasn't so wrong. Roughly 160 people crossed the Berlin wall each year. Illegal border crossing (including people caught, returned, and those that get through) are roughly 1 million per year along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Some people presumably can't tell the difference between (roughly) 1 million and 160. Some people can.

If a liberal advocated some program that was 99.99% effective and a conservative protested that the program failed in 0.01% of cases, you would ridicule the conservative opposition. However, that is exactly the level of analysis you have sunk to.

A fence might cost $7 billion. The ARRA was over $800 billion. Amnesty will cost $ trillions. Handouts for low-skill immigrants run $100-200+ billion per year. Money is clearly not the issue.

"slow people down for about two minutes"

Israel's fence has been near 100% successful and for a lot more than 2 minutes. Have you ever actually tried to climb a barbed wire fence? Try it and post some pictures. You won't be telling the same story.

Pretending that you oppose a fence on grounds of cost and effectiveness is just pretense. The facts are clearly otherwise. If you favor Open Borders, admit it and try to defend your position.

My point about the Berlin Wall didn't rely on the fact that few people got through. It's the fact that even though it was ginormous, it still required a massive manned presence. EVEN THEN, some people managed to get through. Same goes for Israel. The fence is compounded with massive military and policing presence. Moreover, the security border primarily serves to complicate life for Palestinians who commute between East Jerusalem and the Old City ... if people simply want to avoid the fence, all they have to do is go north where there is no fence (but they might still meet the military). I once passed through the "security fence" in Palestinian local transit, and all they do is check your Palestinian ID, so it's not like it actually keeps people out.

Unless you're planning to pay 100,000 soldiers to man the wall 24/7, which would be massively expensive, it will slow down illegal immigration about as much as graffiti artists are slowed down by the various barriers put in their way. Have you ever hopped a fence to get somewhere you're not supposed to be? It's not very hard. And if the fence is too high, it can just be cut.

Here's the deal. I'm not American. I don't care about low income workers in America. Well, I do, but my sympathy, as a human, but not as an American, lies with the people who are even worse off than America's current low income workers, and who are willing to work even harder for even less money. But hey, that's why you don't put a foreigner in charge of immigration policy.


"My point about the Berlin Wall didn’t rely on the fact that few people got through. It’s the fact that even though it was ginormous, it still required a massive manned presence. EVEN THEN, some people managed to get through."

99.99% success is what most people be consider to be "success". Your standards may differ. If it was any other subject, you would be laughing at at the critics.

"if people simply want to avoid the fence, all they have to do is go north where there is no fence"

Actually, no. See "West Bank Security Fence: Background & Overview". Quote

"As a result of the modifications, the length of the barrier is expected to be approximately 500 miles. As of July 2010, only about 320 miles (64%) of the barrier was completed and much of the rest was tied up by petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court and Justice Ministry deliberations."

The site has a map. You need to check it out.

"Unless you’re planning to pay 100,000 soldiers to man the wall 24/7, which would be massively expensive,"

A fence (particularly a double fence) is a force multiplier. It takes far fewer border patrol guards, if you have an effective fence in place. Why? First, far fewer people are willing to take on barbed wire versus walking over an open border. Second, it slows people down (a lot) giving the border patrol more time to get them.

Actually, 100,000 soldiers at $100K per year would be cheap compared to burden of illegal immigration. However, with the help of a fence, far fewer border guards will be needed.

"it will slow down illegal immigration about as much as graffiti artists are slowed down by the various barriers put in their way"

Really. We already have a fence along some parts of the border with Mexico and the results have been stunningly positive. See "San Diego Fence Provides Lessons in Border Control". Quote

""Here in San Diego, we have proven that the border infrastructure system does indeed work," Henry says. "It is highly effective."

Rancher Carol Kimsey, who lives in a valley near the Pacific Ocean on the U.S.-side of the fence, says the border barrier has improved the quality of life in the area.

"It was pretty seriously bad," she recalls of the prefence days. "They were tearing up everything. They'd just go through fences. They didn't care.""

"Here’s the deal. I’m not American. I don’t care about low income workers in America. Well, I do, but my sympathy, as a human, but not as an American, lies with the people who are even worse off than America’s current low income workers, and who are willing to work even harder for even less money. But hey, that’s why you don’t put a foreigner in charge of immigration policy "

I have a different suggestion. How about Canada adopting America's immigration policies? Perhaps bringing all of the problems of large-scale, low-skill immigration to Canada might change some thinking north of the border.

A fence takes about 30 second to cut through. Not much of a force multiplier. If you're really intent on this business, you're going to need a large wall, probably with a piranha-laden moat, completed by cameras, drones, and an enormous police/military presence. I'm not strictly an anti-fencer, I just don't think it's worth the cost in money and reputation.

The difference between Canada-USA isn't so much a matter of policy as geography.

Moreover, hasn't net illegal migration turned negative these days? At least it did for a few years ...

I would consider the conservative (political affiliation) estimates of the costs of illegal immigration to be a maximum bound, because they do not account for the positive impact that this pool of labour has on output and profits. I don't know if that changes a strict economic calculus of costs/benefits in favour of a piranha-, drone- and police-laden border, but it shouldn't be ignored.

I suggest that immigrant-friendly people would be more receptive to solutions proposed by conservatives if the proponents of these policies did not so routinely stir up racism in the act of seeking support for their proposals.

Compare something like "We would love it if the whole world could benefit from the opportunities that we have here, but the job of the government of America is to look out for the best interests of American citizens, not the citizens of foreign nations. (additional details on some estimations of costs/benefits which to not ignore the stimulus to production)..." with a something like "Keep those inbred rapists, murderers and pedophiles out. They are stealing our jobs!".

Even if you can show economic calculus that shows great economic benefit to strong controls on illegal immigration, I think it is worth opposing it even at great cost to the nation if it were to legitimize racist hate-mongering and fearmongering as a means of achieving public policy outcomes. Rather, the racists and white nationalists should feel obliged to enter into a civil and rational discourse (for example as you are doing) if they wish to be heard.

National interest is not a hard sell, if you can make the case. But when the argument is laden with racism and hate, a) most people will simply think you are fudging numbers to legitimize a policy preferred out of racist hate, and b) many people don't care about the costs if it means not giving in to racist hate as a means of achieving policy.

If they were to try to following approach, I think the fence builders would achieve greater success: First, say good things about how Mexicans are generally really smart and hard working people, but often don't have very good education and so compete with low income workers. Second present some numbers. Second, say good things about how Guatamalans are really smart and hard working people, but often don't have a very good education and so compete with low income workers. Then present some numbers. Wax lyrical about how much you would love to deliver the sun and moon for all of God's children, every human on the planet. And then get to the raw stuff and tell them that your job is to look out for the best interests of Americans, not Mexicans, Gutamalans, or any one else. That's your job, and you're doing it, and you love Mexicans and Guatamalans, etc. to death.

I think Jeb Bush could pull it off because people might actually believe him. But the Trump-style approach will never work, because too many people refuse to give in to the politics of fear and hate, even if there exists an economic case for the national interest. It is not in the national interest to allow fear and hate to rule politics.

Two more easy compromises that Obama could have made but spurned.

1. Put more tax cuts in the ARRA to get more Republican support.

2. Pushed for more Federal funding of public education in exchange for more "reform".

For the record, I don't support these ideas (at all). However, they were easy bipartisan compromises that Obama bypassed.

1) ARRA was about 30% tax cuts.
2) More Federal Funding and strings is a Republican view? I would note that Common Core was a reform supported by Republicans and done in conjunction with 49 states. It was only later that Republicans turned on it.


There is a lot more to the Republican education reform agenda than common core. See the Wikipedia article on NCLB. Quote

"The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills. To receive federal school funding, states must give these assessments to all students at select grade levels. The Act does not assert a national achievement standard. Each individual state develops its own standards. NCLB expanded the federal role in public education through further emphasis on annual testing, annual academic progress, report cards, and teacher qualifications, as well as significant changes in funding."

So yes, "More Federal Funding and strings" is indeed a Republican view. Republicans were (and most still are) deeply enamored of an education reform agenda based on accountability, student testing, teacher testing, school ranking, school choice, etc. They were (and are) quite willing to use the Federal government to impose their preferred agenda. If you doubt this, take a look at the actual provisions of the NCLB law. Singling out common core is missing the forest for the trees.

For the record, I think the Republican school agenda is of little or no value. However, the Democrats are actually worse...

However, since the Republicans wanted (still want) reform and the Democrats wanted (still want) $$$, a compromise was indeed possible.

Is there a different dataset that shows extremism is symmetrical?

The Republicans are standing under pretty much the same platform that Reagan did. Not that much different from Eisenhower to be honest although they have accommodated a few social movements like cheap divorce.

The Democrats tried to remove references to God and Jerusalem from their platform. They have embraced things that would have made Kennedy join the GOP like Gay marriage.

The extremism is entirely one sided. It ain't the Republicans.

Democratic politicians and activists [including the activists in the media] oppose every restriction on abortion including partial birth abortion bans, parental notification and waiting periods, all of which are overwhelmingly popular (2/3 support and up).

Extremists indeed.

Bob from Ohio,

The friendly media has protected Obama on this issue. However, Obama has explicitly opposed any restrictions on partial-birth abortion.

Our house, our rules. Maybe if you guys out there in Ohio started doing some economically useful activities we'd care what you thought.


"Our house, our rules."

What are you? Some kind of crazed immigration restrictionist? Only right-wing nutcases go around saying things like "Our house, our rules."

As for

"Maybe if you guys out there in Ohio started doing some economically useful activities we’d care what you thought."

Life for the factually challenged.

Ohio accounts for around 3.7% of U.S. exports and ranks 7th in the nation (in exports). Of course, Texas is number 1 (by far). The Texas number is partially inflated by petrochemical exports with (relatively) low value-added. Ohio's exports tend be manufactured goods with a higher value added.

Parts for planes and car parts, or in other words industries heavily reliant on government distortions.

Welfare under a different name.


You are wrong about this. Today's Republican party is not the same as Eisenhower's party (at all). Compared to the Eisenhower Republican party, today's Republicans are.

1. Heavily to the left on social issues (divorce, gay rights, multi-culturalism, immigration, racial quotas, etc.)

2. Heavily to the left on welfare state issues. Bush advertised Food Stamps in Spanish. He pushed for and got Medicare Plan D. The proliferation of "disability" under Bush didn't appear to be objectionable in the White House.

3. Heavily to the right on some economic issues. Eisenhower didn't have a problem with 90% tax rates (and 50% tax rates on corporations). Deregulating Wall Street would have never even occurred to Eisenhower.

4. Eisenhower's Republican party was comprised of economic nationalists. Hollowing out the U.S. economy via "free trade" was an anathema. Gigantic trade deficits were unthinkable. Outsourcing would never been thought of as virtuous. Explicitly importing cheap labor was viewed as wrong.

Overall, today's Republican party is far to the left of Eisenhower on social issues and the welfare state issues. It is also far to the right on economic issues.

The same changes have also occurred in the Democratic party by the way.

Eisenhower’s Republican party was comprised of economic nationalists. Hollowing out the U.S. economy via “free trade” was an anathema.

Tariff rates have declined pretty much monotonically since 1933. Neither were there exchange controls during the Eisenhower Administration.


"Tariff rates have declined pretty much monotonically since 1933"

See "Tariffs in United States history" (Wikipedia). Average tariff rates by year 1946 7.7%, 1948 5.5%, 1950 4.5%, 1951 5.5%, 1955 5.1%, 1960 7.3%.

See also "Table 4.1. Foreign Transactions in the National Income and Product Accounts" (BEA). The trade balance (goods and services in billions of dollars) by year was 1950 0.8, 1951 2.5, 1952 1.2, 1953, -0.7, 1954 0.4, 1955 0.5, 1956 2.4, 1957 4.1, 1958 0.6, 1959 0.4, 1960 4.2.

By contrast, some recent numbers are 2004 -619.2, 2005 -721.2, 2006 -771, 2007 -718.6, 2008 -723.1, 2009 -395.5, 2010 -512.7, 2011 -580, 2012 -565.6, 2013 -508.4, 2014 -530.

Even allowing for inflation and real GDP growth the change is massive. In the Eisenhower era, the U.S. enjoyed modest trade surpluses and worried (a lot) about trade deficits. Now we have staggering trade deficits (with terrible consequences) and we ignore them. See also "The Trade Deficit: An Update on Warren Buffett's "Goodbye Pleasure, Hello Pain" World" for a chart of the trade balance as a percentage of GDP.

"Extremism" is only possible to define relative to some set of views seen as the sensible consensus. A large number of what are now consensus views were extremist views a few decades ago. This is true not only in questions of fact, where we might expect to just know more, but also in questions of morality, where we're unlikely to be any *morally* better people than the inhabitants of 1900 or 1950 or 1700.

For example, the consensus view now among media and power elites is that gay marriage is a very good thing, so much so that opposing it is bigotry that (at least among a pretty large and visible set of people in media) should get you shunned. In 2008, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama supported gay marriage in their campaigns, so there's an idea going from mainstream enough that presidential candidates pretty-much all supported it[1], to one that is now widely derided as extremist. (Though I don't think opposition to gay marriage is considered extremist by most Americans.)

There's no new information about reality here--it's not like homosexuality is some weird thing nobody'd ever thought of before the 1980s. For that matter, it's not like there weren't plenty of long-term gay and lesbian couples around. They just got treated a lot worse, and referred to themselves as friends or roommates or something instead of as spouses.

Or consider the question of whether it's right for women to give orders to men, or for women to work outside the home as equal wage-earners. Those are moral questions, and ones on which the consensus view in 1900 and the consensus view now are 180 degrees out of synch. And yet, none of the remotely mainstream presidential candidates will express any moral opposition to a woman being president, or to women being able to have full-blown careers after being married and having kids. The consensus has changed. And again, this isn't a question of fact. (People might have opposed a woman president in 1950 on the theory that women couldn't handle power, and that's something that's not tenable in 2015 with a lot of powerful women demonstrably able to do their jobs. But the moral issue isn't about whether women *can* give orders to men, but whether they *should*.

[1] It looks pretty likely to me that Obama was in favor of gay marriage in 2008, but felt it was necessary for political reasons to oppose it. That supports my point--even a politician who supported gay marriage felt that he must pretend to oppose it to fit the consensus of 2008.

“I don’t think this is a positive development, but it’s the only possible development.”

It's funny because that's essentially what Hayek argues in the "The Road to Serfdom." The left spent 50 years complaining that Hayek's claim socialism leads naturally to centralized (abuses of) power was ridiculously alarmist, now Yglesias suddenly concedes he was right all along.

Some executive push (Obama) might be vastly superior to a Clinton shredding of the constitution. You can only push so far before things get unstable. Could Hillary be our first Queen?

I'll smoke what you're smoking.

Read the article and fill in the gaps. Maybe empress? Beware the tipping point.

The courts can stop anything that's anti-constitutional. What's the worry?

That one of the 5 on the right dies, I suppose. Or that Roberts Roberts it up

Why do mention the Caplan interview on your blog?

Is it because ypu think he is smart and has some clever arguments. Or is it to embarras him.

"Or is it to embarras him"

Doesn't he do that on his own well enough?

B, ca,

Quote from Caplan

"A better option than exclusion would be to restrict migrants’ eligibility for benefits "

Sure that is going to happen. When? Real soon now? Actually there is no need because

"Social Security is a forced saving" system.

Earlier I wrote that immigration is about "the bubble versus vs. the people". Indeed.

Some home truths about immigration in Portugal below. Of course, exactly the same comments can be made about France and Sweden. Of course, Caplan is utterly (and deliberately) ignorant about the economics of immigration. However, there are deeper issues as well.

From Miguel Madeira

"But they are being assimilated in mainstream french culture, or in a kind of universal, post-racial, ghetto culture (made of gangsta rap, school undiscipline, street gangs, occasional riots)? At least in Portugal, the sons and grandsons of African immigrants are almost absolutely disconnected from traditional African culture; but many of them have, as reference (for music, clothes, etc.), not the traditional Portuguese culture, but the Black American culture."

but many of them have, as reference (for music, clothes, etc.), not the traditional Portuguese culture, but the Black American culture.”

You mean blacks living with Portugal are commonly expressive evangelical Christians and dressed as nurse's aides and janitors?

He means gangsta rap culture, though lots of blacks in Portugal are involved in this sort of evangelical churches. Also what he said could be applied to natives in Portugal from low socio-economic background in general, so i dont think this is so linear. In general, except for Guine Bissau immigrants the level of assimilation is quite high in Portugal so i dont agree 100% with Miguel Madeira.

The immigrant experience in much of Europe is distorted by labor regulations that create huge levels of non-native unemployment (and for that matter, huge levels of native unemployment, but even more non-native unemployment).

In the US, you can hire someone and fire them the same day. Not so in France. US employers have more freedom to experiment with newcomers.

Also the monolithic cultures of European nation states is pretty stifling. The US is everything to everybody.


So Europe should ban immigrants? Is that what you are proposing? I would guess not. In your model, America would be an immigration success story for all immigrant groups and Europe would be an immigration failure story for all immigrant groups.

Alas, reality is not kind to such ideas. In real life, Asian immigrants are quite successful in (stifling) Europe and in the USA. Other groups are not. The U.S. is rife with immigration failures. So is Europe. The key difference is not the system, but the people.

2. I checked to see if there was a matching decrease in soft drink (soda) consumption in Australia and there was a 30% increase per captia in sugary drink downing from 1994 to 2006. Which was reported as a 10% decrease in a widely picked up on paper by a couple of nutritionists. Crikey! It looks like there's been a right old stuff up there. Anyway, it's a 30% increase, not a 10% decline, and I guess a lesson in the importance of double checking these sorts of things.

On the off chance anyone wants to cop an eyeful of the sorry mess you can scrounge a couple of details from this popular article here:

6. You can "prove" a lot of things by starting with the assumption that you are right and continuing from there. This sentence pretty much sums up that article:

"Despite the bipartisan popularity of immigration restrictions, these laws trap most of mankind’s skill, determination, and ingenuity in countries that cripple these precious assets."

And why it is, Caplan, that these countries "cripple these precious assets?" Is it the weather there?

American Open Borders proponents are fundamentally racist - talent can only bloom in the US, they assume. Most of the world's people couldn't possibly make their birth countries wonderful places to live, they assume, so bring anyone with talent ot the US and let the rest drown in filth.....

Ahhh... one of these BS tricksy arguments where you try to convince people that the people who want to give minorities a chance are in fact the racist ones.

Open Borders people aren't racist. The assumption is that these people will thrive if only that can position themselves in a system that is currently working.

I met some brilliant geniuses in Mali. But as a landlocked country with poor rainfall, few resources and a civil war persisting in the north, even the hardest working geniuses in that country have less earning potential than your average high school dropout in the USA. The argument of open borders people is that these people should be allowed to compete internationally for the best opportunities, much like citizens of the EU and USA can.

" even the hardest working geniuses in that country have less earning potential than your average high school dropout in the USA. The argument of open borders people is that these people should be allowed to compete internationally for the best opportunities, much like citizens of the EU and USA can"

And guarantee that Mali will have no hard working geniuses? What does a poor country like Mali need smart hardworking people for anyway?

I agree that it's a problem for Mali if all their geniuses leave. Is your motivation for Mali et al to become better places, or just to keep them out of the USA? And what Mali, for reasons of being landlocked, etc. just a really really bad place to be? Wouldn't it be better if they could all up and move to somewhere where nature and geography didn't make success essentially impossible?

I reiterate that it is beyond ridiculous to accuse Open Borders people of being racist. Rather, they want all people to have a chance.

"And why it is, Caplan, that these countries “cripple these precious assets?”"

We know why - it is a failure of institutions to provide economic freedom in those countries. Institutions become entrenched and difficult to change. The US is lucky to have an institution of high levels of economic (and personal and political) freedom. It is easier to get one a plane or drive a car across a border than to change a government.

I don't think we can ignore the fact that culture plays a role in forming institutions, and the US has had long histories of immigrants coming from messed up countries who did OK or their kids did OK.

Part of my DNA comes from Bohemia, which did not have universal suffrage for men when my ancestors came. Yet one of their children became a physician, and their grandchildren include a Ph.D. in biology. I know people from Central America whose relatives fought for communist guerrillas, yet one of their children is a doctor in the US, and someone close to me has Central American heritage but graduated from college with honors and is now part of the 1%.

I know plenty of Ph.D.'s of Russian heritage whose ancestors came from the time of an all-powerful Czar, or more recently Sergey Brin of Google who grew up in the Soviet Communist dictatorship.

Plus I know plenty of Indian immigrants, including the CEO of a large tech firm, and none of them seem to want to enact the "permit Raj" in the US.

US history is replete of people worried about the political leanings of immigrants. We can go back to the worries of Thomas Jefferson, who said:

"They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its directions, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass."

Yet it never happened. 200 years.

BTW the GOP used to have far more hispanic support when people remembered the Reagan amnesty...


Alas, check facts before you post.

"We know why – it is a failure of institutions to provide economic freedom in those countries. Institutions become entrenched and difficult to change. The US is lucky to have an institution of high levels of economic (and personal and political) freedom. It is easier to get one a plane or drive a car across a border than to change a government."

Institutions reflect (generally) the will, talents, and virtues of the people of a nation. Like it or not, when people cross borders they bring their will, talents, and virtues with them... and their ideas about institutions. One person can profit from institutions he/she did not (and would not) create. One person can take advantage of a society that he/she could not create and would never think to create. However, that's not an argument in favor of immigration, but an argument against it.

"the US has had long histories of immigrants coming from messed up countries who did OK or their kids did OK."

America stopped mass immigration around WWI because it wasn’t working. Americans got fed up with tenement slums, slack wages, radicalism, political polarization, etc. and reformed the system. The reforms worked. The prior waves of immigrants had a chance to assimilate and join the American mainstream. Instead of being dragged down by the next wave off the boat, they were able to move up. From 1914 to around 1970 we had very little immigration and our nation did rather well as a consequence.

Since 1970 mass immigration has resumed with all of the inevitable, doleful consequences. Worse, their is little evidence that the current wave will every fully assimilate. From ‘The Congealing Pot – Today’s immigrants are different from waves past” (National Review)

“They’re not just like the Irish — or the Italians or the Poles, for that matter. The large influx of Hispanic immigrants after 1965 represents a unique assimilation challenge for the United States. Many optimistic observers have assumed — incorrectly, it turns out — that Hispanic immigrants will follow the same economic trajectory European immigrants did in the early part of the last century. Many of those Europeans came to America with no money and few skills, but their status steadily improved. Their children outperformed them, and their children’s children were often indistinguishable from the “founding stock.” The speed of economic assimilation varied somewhat by ethnic group, but three generations were typically enough to turn “ethnics” into plain old Americans.

This would be the preferred outcome for the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans, who are significantly poorer and less educated on average than native whites. When immigration skeptics question the wisdom of importing so many unskilled people into our nation at one time, the most common response cites the remarkable progress of Europeans a century ago. “People used to say the Irish or the Poles would always be poor, but look at them today!” For Hispanics, we are led to believe, the same thing will happen.

But that claim isn’t true. Though about three-quarters of Hispanics living in the U.S. today are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, a significant number have roots here going back many generations. We have several ways to measure their intergenerational progress, and the results leave little room for optimism about their prospects for assimilation.


The children of Hispanic immigrants (the second generation) actually stay in school much longer and earn a considerably higher wage than their parents. In fact, the Hispanic rate of assimilation from the first to the second generation is only slightly lower than the assimilation rate of more successful groups of immigrants. Most second-generation Hispanics make up nearly as much ground as the children of European immigrants would if they grew up in the same disadvantaged situation.

But the good news ends there, and two problems arise. First, the second generation still does not come close to matching the socioeconomic status of white natives. Even if Hispanics were to keep climbing the ladder each generation, their assimilation would be markedly slower than that of other groups. But even that view is overly optimistic, because of the second, larger problem with Hispanic assimilation: It appears to stall after the second generation. We see little further ladder-climbing from the grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants. They do not rise out of the lower class.”

One of the tragedies of the immigration debate is the extent to which it is dominated by tenement slum sentimentality. We don’t need to worship the Statue of Liberty. We need to focus on our nation’s future.


Alas, check facts before you post.

"Part of my DNA comes from Bohemia, which did not have universal suffrage for men when my ancestors came. Yet one of their children became a physician, and their grandchildren include a Ph.D. in biology. I know people from Central America whose relatives fought for communist guerrillas, yet one of their children is a doctor in the US, and someone close to me has Central American heritage but graduated from college with honors and is now part of the 1%."

Really? Is that the best you can do? How about Ángel Maturino Reséndiz (The Railway Killer). He was a Mexican illegal who killed at least 15 people in the U.S. and Mexico "with rocks, a pick axe and other blunt objects". Should we use him as a representative immigrant?

Back in the real world, anecdotes are not data. The poor multi-generational performance of immigrants is well established. See “The Hispanic Challenge” by Samuel Huntington.

The author shows little improvement in education attainment across generations of Mexican immigrants.

“The education of people of Mexican origin in the United States lags well behind the U.S. norm. In 2000, 86.6 percent of native-born Americans had graduated from high school. The rates for the foreign-born population in the United States varied from 94.9 percent for Africans, 83.8 percent for Asians, 49.6 percent for Latin Americans overall, and down to 33.8 percent for Mexicans, who ranked lowest.”

See also “Honesty from the Left on Hispanic Immigration A provocative new book doesn’t flinch from delivering the bad news”

“Hispanics are underachieving academically at an alarming rate, the authors report. Though second- and third-generation Hispanics make some progress over their first-generation parents, that progress starts from an extremely low base and stalls out at high school completion. High school drop-out rates—around 50 percent—remain steady across generations. Latinos’ grades and test scores are at the bottom of the bell curve. The very low share of college degrees earned by Latinos has not changed for more than two decades. Currently only one in ten Latinos has a college degree.”

See also "Telles & Ortiz: 5th Generation Mexican-Americans Not Catching Up Educationally"

"Here are some graphs from the book. The first demonstrates the structure of their complex study. The “Original Respondents” column represented Mexican-Americans surveyed in 1965. Back then, among the first generation (immigrants) only 30% had graduated from high school. In 1965, the children of immigrants from Mexico had a 48% rate of high school graduation, and the grandchildren a 57% rate. But, when Ortiz and Telles interviewed the children of the 1965 respondents in 2000, they found stagnation, instead. In 2000, the fourth generation Mexican-Americans in their sample of the children of their original respondents had less education than the second and third generations. And the third column shows the same stagnation for the grandchildren of the original respondents, some of whom are fifth generation Americans."

I guess we should wait for the killer 6th generation? Maybe not.

"Plus I know plenty of Indian immigrants, including the CEO of a large tech firm, and none of them seem to want to enact the “permit Raj” in the US."

I won't offer any opinion about Indian immigrants specifically. However, immigrant support for the welfare state is overwhelming. See "Why Hispanics are Natural Democrats and what the GOP can do about it" ( Quote

"It is fashionable for Republicans to say that Hispanics are “Natural Republicans”, because they believe in ”hard work, entrepreneurship and family values”, or some similar combination of issues. They only vote against Republicans because the GOP is mean and doesn’t give illegal immigrants Amnesty.

For example Charles Krauthammer writes that Hispanics:

“should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example). The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants.”

This claim is demonstrably false. In 2012 Hispanics solidly support the Democrats on virtually every issue, not only on illegal immigration. This includes taxes, the size of government and health care. Less known is that increasingly liberal Hispanics now also support Democrats on abortion, gay marriage and contraception.

Why do Hispanics vote Democrat? The main reason is that Hispanics on average earn far less than Whites (henceforth “Whites” refers to non-Hispanic Whites). It is simply not in Hispanic material self-interests to vote for the party of limited government."

See also "Natural Democrats" (National Review). Quote

"Steve Dinan at the Washington Times highlights the data on native-born Hispanics that point to their natural inclination to support the :Left. The native-born, who account for the overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters, have higher rates of poverty, welfare use, single-parent families — none of which is suggestive of openness to a message of small government and moral traditionalism. As a Stanford political scientist told Dinan, "It turns out that Latinos are systematically to the left of whites on an entire array of economic-policy matters?'"

See also "Welfare Use by Immigrant and Native Households" (CIS). Quote

"Welfare use varies among immigrant groups. Households headed by immigrants from Central America and Mexico (73 percent), the Caribbean (51 percent), and Africa (48 percent) have the highest overall welfare use. Those from East Asia (32 percent), Europe (26 percent), and South Asia (17 percent) have the lowest."

"US history is replete of people worried about the political leanings of immigrants. We can go back to the worries of Thomas Jefferson, who said:"

Back when Jefferson wrote that, America had enormous restrictions on immigration (de facto). Only highly skilled immigrants could (generally) afford to immigrate to America. When it became possible for low skill immigrants to enter the U.S. public opinion shifted accordingly and we closed the door. From Tino (in MR)

"The other factor that has changed since 1840 is the cost of communication. Immigrants who moved than knew that they would lose most of their contact with home. Few if any went back and forth between Europe and the US. Letters were the only means of communication with the family. There was no family visiting constantly from the old country, no cheap calling cards, no internet, no the parents taking the children back and forth, no Irish or Polish language television and radio.

First of all those who came to the US faced a huge cost if they, and most importantly their children, did not assimilative as soon as possible. Secondly only those who were willing to assimilate and give up their old culture moved in the first place.

None of this is even remotely true today. Mexican immigrants take pride in defining themselves as Mexican or Hispanic, rather than American. Today this holds true for a majority of the S E C O N D generation Mexicans, who have stronger cultural tied with Mexico than the US Pew: “When asked which terms they would use first to describe themselves, a little more than half (54%) indicate that they primarily identify themselves in terms of their or their parents’ country of origin; about one in four (24%) chooses “Latino” or “Hispanic,” and about one in five (21%) chooses “American.”

It is the height of stupidity to rely on the argument “immigration to the US has always worked† when you essentially have one or two periods of immigration to rely on, that differ in cruicial aspects from today’s immigration:

†¢ Previous immigration almost entirely from Europe

†¢ Previous immigrants were screened out due to self selection, when the cost of travel was 3-4 years salary

†¢ Previous immigrants faces strong centripetal forces to assimilate to American norms. Today the opposite is true, as ‘diversity’ is the main religious of parts of the elite.

†¢ Previous immigrants did not come have a welfare state to depend on.

It is not some sort of iron law that immigration always works. It doesn’t. It is silly to think that the fact that some Americans opposed Irish immigration proves that any argument against any immigration episode is automatically invalid."

From a prior post of mine

"Try reading some immigration history. 19th century immigration was highly restricted by transportation costs. In real life, only highly skilled immigrants could (in general) afford to come to America. The number of immigrants was variable, but generally small.

Over time, technological advances (steamships) reduced the cost of immigration and less skilled immigrants started flooding into America. Public opinion shifted from supporting immigration to strongly opposing it.

The standard paper is

"International Migration in the Long-Run: Positive Selection, Negative Selection and Policy"

The abstract should help

"Most labor scarce overseas countries moved decisively to restrict their immigration during the first third of the 20th century. This autarchic retreat from unrestricted and even publiclysubsidized immigration in the first global century before World War I to the quotas and bans introduced afterwards was the result of a combination of factors: public hostility towards new immigrants of lower quality, public assessment of the impact of those immigrants on a deteriorating labor market, political participation of those impacted, and, as a triggering mechanism, the sudden shocks to the labor market delivered by the 1890s depression, the Great War, postwar adjustment and the great depression. The paper documents the secular drift from very positive to much more negative immigrant selection which took place in the first global century after 1820 and in the second global century after 1950, and seeks explanations for it. It then explores the political economy of immigrant restriction in the past and seeks historical lessons for the present."


"Thus, the proportion of the immigrants that were unskilled rose from 16 percent in the 1820s to 55 percent in the 1890s, while the share that were skilled fell rom 61 to 30 percent.""

Re: America had enormous restrictions on immigration (de facto). Only highly skilled immigrants could (generally) afford to immigrate to America.

Huh? So the immigrants who came to the US in the first half of the 19th century were all "high skilled"? Even the starving Irish in the coffin ships?

Re: no Irish or Polish language television and radio.

No, but foreign languages survived longer in the US than is usually thought. Some groups even made serious efforts to keep their languages alive, e.g., through religious institutions. In fact, the persistence of homeland religions (e.g., Catholicism, Judaism) among immigrant peoples, despite strong attempts to Protestantize them, was noted at the time and it was the subject of much and wringing by the nativists of those days..


Alas, check facts before you post.

"BTW the GOP used to have far more hispanic support when people remembered the Reagan amnesty."

Back in the real world.... Hispanic support for Republicans crashed after the Reagan Amnesty. Here is the D-R margin for presidential elections 1980 +21, 1984 +24, 1988 +39, 1992 +36, 1996 +51.

Hispanic voters responded to the Reagan Amnesty by shifting 15 points to the Democrats.

Nope. Hispanic support for the GOP crashed AFTER the GOP became identified with nativism.

Strongly agree with Mr Econotarian.

Yes, institutions reflect the work and values of people, etc. But they take centuries and longer to develop.

Which institutions have the present generation of Americans been a part of creating? I dare say, the average American doesn't know squat about development of institutions, and the amount of collective action, and sometimes force that this required.

Imperialism completely destroyed the political structures of most developing countries on the planet. Give it a couple hundred years in the absence of excessive foreign interference, and perhaps even some help along the way, and I think these people will be just as capable as anyone else to develop good institutions.


"Yes, institutions reflect the work and values of people, etc. But they take centuries and longer to develop"

Alas, life for the factually challenged.

South America has been independent for 200 years and is doing great. OK, not really.

European imperialism impacted only limited parts of Africa for a long period and much of Africa for only a few decades. Therefore the parts of Africa where the European presence was quite temporary are doing great. OK, not really.

European imperialism controlled much of Asia for centuries and other parts not at all. Therefore the parts (formerly) controlled by Europe are floundering and the independent parts are booming. OK, not really.

Much of the world was controlled by the Ottoman empire and was only briefly impacted by Europe after the Ottoman empire collapsed. This part of the world is prospering. OK, not really.

Your model of the world reflects an ideology of both self-hate and inflated cultural imperialism. For the self-hate part let me quote from Tino S.

"Making matters worse, multiculturalism morally privileges Third World cultures over Western culture. It preaches a modern version of original sin, damning Western civilization for historical crimes such as colonialism and racism. Much of public discourse today is devoted to endlessly reciting the historic crimes of the West. The problem with this discourse is not that the West is innocent of these crimes; it is not. The problem is that the blame-the-West interpretation of world history is one-sided. Endlessly recounting Western crimes against humanity while ignoring similar crimes committed by non-Westerners creates a dark and biased image of Western civilization. Meanwhile, the West’s contributions to humanity — such as democracy, the scientific revolution, human rights, and the industrial revolution — are downplayed or falsely credited to other cultures."

However, the inflated cultural imperialism is actually worse. You seem to believe the everything that goes on in the world is somehow a consequence of how Europe and the U.S. have treated the world. In 1950, that view had more truth to it (but not a lot). In 2015, countries rise and fall according to their own virtues (and lack thereof). Lee Kuan Yew put this rather well.

"I found many other fresh ideas and picked the brains of other highly intelligent people who were not always right. They were too politically correct. Harvard was determinedly liberal. No scholar was prepared to say or admit that there were any inherent differences between races or cultures or religions. They held that human beings were equal and a society only needed correct economic policies and institutions of government to succeed. They were so bright I found it difficult to believe that they sincerely held these views they felt compelled to espouse."

If you paid attention to the development literature, you would know that the duration of colonialism is positively associated with subsequent economic development.

PS - South America - 200 years to develop institutions from scratch? Not very long at all. And meanwhile, the American war on drugs basically makes it impossible for quite a few of them to develop effectively because the underground drug money basically corrupts the political system and diverts a lot of resources from money that could otherwise be spend expanding basic public infrastructure. With the gradual expansion of Mercorsur common markets, things are likely to get better for these countries, but the corrosive influence of the war on drugs still persists.

Africa - The places where European presence was most temporary are landlocked. Even Adam Smith had already figured out that that is a major impediment. The inland areas were never particularly developed at all, and the political systems of basically every coastal region in Africa was completely disrupted.

Ottomans - please name a single former Ottoman colony where Western interference does not continue to be significant. Borders drawn up with complete disregard to what makes sense culturally and historically, coups, invasions, wealthy economies which are hollowed out to the bone by oil-driven Dutch disease.

"Self hate" is bullshit twisted language of people trying to shame you into white supremacy. I have no shame for the past. It fucking happened, but I didn't do it personally and not in a million years am I going to apologize for it. But pretending that completely dismantling the political systems of a culture and nation and setting them up with dictators to rule by proxy is irrelevant? That is an argument for weak weak people who can't own up to history. You think it's one-sided because the crimes of non-Western places are ignored? That's beyond absurd. Try looking at the homepage of any news outlet on the planet, and you will find the wrongdoings of non-Westerners posted loud and clear each and every day of the year on just about every major news outlet on the planet.

The only point I agree with is that the West could do a better job of self promotion, in pointing out that other cultures have been able to benefit from using, and even copying, our technological advances. When faced with strong argumentation about the ill effects of imperialism, I am the first person to point out that the rapid technological gains facilitated by this massive market expansion and capital accumulation are now available for the world, and that in balance the long term (very long term) effects will almost certainly prove to be positive everywhere. But in this case I'm met with argumentation that it's all their fault, so of course I oppose this simplistic thinking which prefers to pretend that history has nothing to do with the present.

You wonder why people in some countries don't have a very good impression of democracy? Well try this. It's not democracy when anyone who isn't pro-American is barred from office, largely by virtue of when, post conflict, there is no amnesty and the losing side is prevented from accessing political representation. So you call them terrorists and say terrorists don't belong in government. Well if terrorists aren't allowed in government, then what option do they have but to take to arms? Barring the established leadership of entire groups from the electoral process is a surefire recipe for extremism. Why do so many Arabs boycott elections? Because they know it's a bullshit sham to offer fake credibility to one of two or three pre-vetted winners.

No, I don't think imperialism is to blame for everything. But you prefer to pretend that it has nothing to do with the story.

There's a simple answer for a positive relationship between duration of colonial rule and subsequent progress. They conquered coastal areas first, starting with the ones with the greatest potential for commercial exploitation and extraction. Leave them alone again, and they return to their natural position as being better positioned (compared to the last places to be colonized) for development. Also, strength of ties to the imperial centre implies ties that existed after decolonization, offering them somewhat better access to rich world markets. But actually, I'm curious about the literature you mention. I found a few hits online, but perhaps you can suggest one that makes a particularly strong argument for this interpretation of events.

No, I don’t think imperialism is to blame for everything.

Well, go on, name things wrong with South America and Africa that they're to blame for, and then tell us why they're not a problem for open borders.

High tariffs between neighbouring countries. Endemic corruption in a leadership which extracts bribes for resource extraction and doesn't prioritize increased human capacity as a means to increase the tax base. Endemic corruption on every major transportation route. Endemic corruption in public procurement, which goes to cronies, family and the ethnic group of the leader, rather attributing based on economic merit. Patronage systems which direct public supports to the political constituency supporting the leader rather than based on economic merit. Unfavourable geography (well, that's not quite their fault). Frequent coups and other "illegitimate" transfers of power.

I could think up more, but I think you're trying to suggest that I'm unable to attribute responsibility in their general direction, and I think the above proves that I am quite able to do that.

But I will not be made to defend open borders when the question at hand is immigration.

And I still agree with Mr Econotarian. Because institutions matter, and that's the entire argument.

<iStrongly agree with Mr Econotarian.

But strangely, you won't post after PF eviscerated him, and go upthread.

Hard to start a business when the roads are garbage and lined with duty officers every 20 miles who will extract bribes. Also tough when you can't find good help because the education system is not yet very high quality. Also, many developing markets have isolated themselves behind higher tariffs against neighbours and speak different languages which makes it difficult to access international markets, whereas the individual has an easier time learning a trade-oriented language than getting everyone in the company to do so.

Probably the brain drain the USA and EU doesn't help either. Or the fact of (in many cases) being led by kleptocrats who siphon off significant resources and put them in save havens - an opportunity that was never historically available for even the sketchiest and most corrupt of European rulers, who at the very least invested their stolen money in the domestic economy.

Meanwhile, cultural expectations that any earned wealth should be extensively shared with extended family might negatively affect incentives to pursue wealth - while most migrants send money to relatives on occasion, it is on their own terms and not a matter of daily requests from all manner of family and friends.

There's a short list.

Or what? Their excess skin melanin?

Why isn't it sustainable? If your economy runs on stealing and fighting that seems pretty sustainable until you get killed.

I don't mean stealing, I mean exercising eminent domain.

What is the difference between American conservatives in the South and Southwest and ISIS when it comes to religion being the foundation of justice and on fossil fuel and financial "capitalism"?

ISIS will survive as long as they get to expand the territory they can pillage and plunder just as fossil fuel "capitalism" can expand the territory they can pillage and plunder. Wall Street and banks will thrive as long as they can extract higher and higher rents just as ISIS does, because like ISIS, they no longer build capital, but simply capture existing capital for rent seeking. All justified by god giving them the authority to do these things for the greater glory of god.

And that analysis is purely economic given without moral judgement because in business profit, not morality, is the only virtue.

I haven't noticed of any beheadings perpetrated by American conservatives of any region. Your twisted logic disqualifies you from expostulating on morality.

Yup. mulp's head is mulp, as it always has been.

"I haven’t noticed of any beheadings perpetrated by American conservatives of any region"

Indeed, lynching is way down since 1968.

The difference between American conservatives who would like to impose Biblical law and ISIS ... well for starters, I don't think American conservatives would in a million years endorse slave rape as a means of stoking population growth. But I think more importantly, they are members of a broader society that hires an extremely large army and policing force which underlie the power of a constitution and democratic system which prevents them from being able to force their will on everyone.

I don't doubt that there's a decent constituency among conservative Christians to return to harsh legal sanction (multiple years in prison, even corporal punishment or execution?) for Biblical crimes which are deemed a fairly minor issue by quite a lot of other Americans (adultery comes to mind). But were they to get it in their mind to wage religious war a la ISIS, they would become enemies of the state and dead.

Personally, I think they would do better to focus on the example of Jesus and leave the judgmental BS to God, but is appears that many prefer to cherrypick verses which legitimize their preference for discrimination and hate speech against people who do not ascribe to their ways, an altogether un-American and way, if you ask me.


Back when the Klan controlled parts of the U.S. in the 1920s, they (the Klan) imposed their own version of conservative Christianity to a degree. Adultery and bigamy were treated as serious crimes (people were tarred and feather and flogged). Gambling and drinking were fiercely opposed. H. L. Hunt (of oil fame) ran gambling houses in various boom towns back then and had plenty of problems with the Klan.

Executions for "moral" offenses. I haven't read of any. Of course, I might have missed them.

The expropriation is mostly of public property.

3. I think Drum is quite correct that style of play emerges from the rules of play.

3. Or maybe the British Cuckservative Party doesn't pursue right-wing policies because their leadership really are a bunch of "moderates?"(i.e. cuckservatives)

Or can it be that following those policies are not necessary to win elections for the Tories in the UK (who seem to be doing very well these days with no need to change their platform).

I wonder if anything worth reading ever included a neologism involving 'cuck'. My guess is no.

Canterbury Tales. The cuckhold ("cokewold"). Debatable whether they are worth reading, but almost certainly more so than more recent applications of the "cuck".

Ah yes, those lovely words used to shame moderates into extremism. I imagine you consider yourself to be pragmatic and with a strong moral compass?

I don't know what He thinks but I think Renoir's paintings are beautiful.

No, the protest is appropriate. Renoir's later paintings are positively gross.

1. Inequality isn't moving people to the Right, it's moving people to the Left. It's not that the relatively poor and lower middle class (especially in the South but in every region) wish to terminate government social programs for themselves, they wish to terminate social programs for everybody else; indeed, they wish to enhance social programs for themselves. I have a home in the South and it never ceases to amaze me how my neighbors rail against government while feeding at the trough, the local car dealer dependent on selling a fleet of cars to the local government, the local contractor dependent on building schools and highways, the local doctor dependent on Medicare and Medicaid, the local lawyers perpetually running for public office as a prosecutor or judge, the largest local employer the local government. In the South, hypocrisy is as much a religion as piety, both equally practiced.

Why not write something coherent every once in a while?

It's not the full story, but I re-read his post and don't see anything incoherent in it.

The local car dealer is getting taxed no matter what, why not try to recoup some of his losses by selling to the local government as well?

But he is not trying to sell just three cars and letting other car dealers sell three cars so they can get their taxes back. No he's trying to sell more cars than the government needs so they sell their existing fleet as used cars, putting his competitor's cars back on the market at fire sale prices, subsidized by taxes on car dealers, especially his competitors.

While he is likely to complain he is being punished with higher taxes for his public service selling lots of cars to government, if the government were to argue in court defending against his lawsuit against awarding the contract to a competitor: "we awarded the contract to a competitor because the plaintiff is opposed to paying taxes, and by not giving him the highly profitable contract, we cut his tax bill substantially", the car dealer would cry foul, and proclaim he would happily pay taxes to get the contract selling cars to government.

Well, I like how Ben Carson being interviewed by Marketplace's Ky Ryssdal refused to list any specific cuts to entitlements he would do to cut the Federal spending to eliminate the deficit and pay off the debt, instead promising to solve the problem by cutting payroll.

Paul Ryan does the most aggressive slight of hand touch the third rail Federal spending non-cutting by talking of means testing Social Security benefits (they already are) while promising to increase Social Security benefits for the poor, and also making zero changes to benefits for a decade or more, but the budget will be balanced with taxes cut immediately.

Clearly, Republican candidates are fully aware they must win the votes of those over age 60 to have any hope of winning in most States, and that means they can never be specific about making cuts to the biggest welfare program in the US: Social Security and Medicare.

Two programs that are even more critical to citizens and businesses today than when Reagan took office in a political career built on tearing down Social Security and Medicare, based on his speechmaking for GE et al. Clearly, his greatest acting was in convincing people he believed in the ideas he sold. But when it comes down to it, Reagan firmly entrenched both, and made it impossible for the Tea Party faction in the Congress to touch them. Before Reagan signed the SS reform bill, SS required Congress acting every several years to keep its principles intact. Reagan isolated SS entirely from conservative attacks, requiring broad consensus to change.

For Medicare, the doctors and hospitals can never allow it to be eliminated. No conservatives are promising to bankrupt half the healthcare industry to balance the budget and cut taxes. Instead, conservatives promise that free market health care will increase access to health care because there will be more doctors and hospitals so you have more and better choices. Never do they speak of cutting payments in half by rationing health care with death panels or other drastic cost cutting measures.

Having been taken to the woodshed by George Borjas, Bryan Asperger Caplan goes blithely on as if nothing happened.

Can you provide a source? I fully believe you, but would like to watch/read it.

Edit: I meant provide a source of where George Borjas to Bryan Caplan to the woodshed.

Kevin Drum on why American conservatives are different.

No, it's just another display of superciliousness to be lapped up by his peanut gallery. Portside discourse for general audiences these days is pretty much reducible to that, impugning other people's motives and intellect, and various status games. It does not have to be that way, but that's the way it is. Why would the moderators fancy that's worthwhile to read? The same reason that Corey Robin is treated here as if he were a scholar?

One wonders why Art Deco spends his life trolling blogs of people he claims to hate. I guess life is boring when you are on the government dole.

Regarding what GOP would do if they had control, they did have control at fed level, 2001-07, when Bush had the WH, GOP controlled both houses of Congress (although I think Dems could filibuster in the Senate for some of that time), and also controlled SCOTUS, which played a role in getting Bush into the WH. So, we got a shift from a budget surplus to a big deficit, along with two wars abroad. Been there, done that.

Ah, but would those wars have happened absent 9/11?

We shouldn't confuse the "Global War on Terror" with "the Republican way of running government". The American people were demanding retribution after the 9/11 attacks and support for the War on Terror was bipartisan. It just so happens that the Republicans were in charge at the time and were able to use the wars as a campaign tool.

Popular wars instill confidence in The People and boost support for incumbent parties (see 1944, 2002) Unpopular wars make The People demand a change in government (see 1952, 1968, 2006)

What did 9/11 have to do with invading Iraq??

Clinton dealt with an attack on the WTC that attempted to bring down a tower by the method Alex Jones claims 9/11 was done - explosives planted on the building without invading Iraq. The attacks on the African embassies and the USS Cole did not lead to invading Iraq.

After five years of investigation looking for WMDs, all the evidence is that Saddam got rid of all programs, capabilities, and remnants of weapons while Clinton was boxing him in without invading.

And it was not the deaths of 9/11 that bothered conservatives because people dying violently is a fact of every day America life that is just "bad stuff happens" and government should not try to prevent it because doing so would take liberty. And it wasn't the property damage either, because nothing much changed after a Federal building was destroyed by terrorist McVeigh.

What followed 9/11 was just the desire to demonstrate the US is the only world superpower. What conservatives are campaigning on is undoing Obama's failed invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan that made the US look really weak and powerless. They are promising they will restore superpower status, and that can only be done by the willingness to use nuclear weapons. It was only by first dropping two nukes and then building a stockpile (paid for by aggressive tax and spend) of 60,000 nukes did the US become a superpower.

by the method Alex Jones claims 9/11 was done –

Why is it necessary to make reference to the lunatic Mr. Jones?

"After five years of investigation looking for WMDs, all the evidence is that Saddam got rid of all programs, capabilities, and remnants of weapons while Clinton was boxing him in without invading" We found stockpiles of chemical weapons, and active chemical weapon program, and a mothballed nuke program tucked away. I was also one who took the fact Saddam was looking to buy yellow cake as evidence that he was interested in pursuing nukes.


Of course the more appalling matter is that Bush could have stopped 9/11. He famously ignored a warning from CIA on Aug. 6, 2001 while on his ranch about Arabs training at airports. Maybe they could not have been stopped, but he told the CIA person that they had now "covered your ass" by telling him about it.

Let us be clear. When Bush took over, all the Clinton holdovers and transition people told the incoming Bush people that al Qaeda was Enemy #1, but this was very contemptuously dismissed in favor of the much higher priority, getting rid of the ABM treaty, which Putin has since used to denounce the US with good reason. If Gore had won, there may well not have been a 9/11 at all, much less either of those wars, and certainly the incredibly stupid one in Iraq.

He famously ignored a warning from CIA on Aug. 6, 2001

Did it ever occur to you that he received intelligence briefings daily with all sorts of static in them?

The record is clear that he and his advisers were told there was a serious problem with al Qaeda and they were just ignoring it because it was something the previous administration cared about. This was probably the most massively incompetent thing he pulled, besides the actual invasion of Iraq itself and his flamingly stupid killing of nuclear negotations between the Koreas, which led to North Korea obtaing nuclear weapons.

Barkley Rosser October 8, 2015 at 4:48 pm

The record is clear that he and his advisers were told there was a serious problem with al Qaeda and they were just ignoring it because it was something the previous administration cared about.

The record is not clear at all. As Art says, there was a lot of static. Seriously, what do you think he should have done to every single small scale warning and what do you think the Left's response would have been?

Since when did Clinton give a damn about al-Qaeda? What did he do when he had the chance? Blew up an empty factory in Sudan and what?

"Bush could have stopped 9/11"

If you know so much, what specific steps could he have taken to stop the hijackings?

I'm not convinced by Barkley's contention, but calling him a truther is trying to use a magic-word argument to shut down a discussion. If you have a good argument for why he's wrong, provide it. Or just say "I don't buy it." Don't try to use a smear to shut down the discussion.

Barkley Rosser October 8, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Of course the more appalling matter is that Bush could have stopped 9/11. He famously ignored a warning from CIA on Aug. 6, 2001 while on his ranch about Arabs training at airports. Maybe they could not have been stopped, but he told the CIA person that they had now “covered your ass” by telling him about it.

It is sad to see Professor Rosser join the Truthers. Bush was not warned about terrorists training at airports. He was given no specific warning about 9-11 at all. What he was warned about was preparation for a possible hijacking in order to free the Blind Sheikh. And even then only in very general terms:,_2001_Presidential_Daily_Brief

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [--------------] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

Notice airports are not mentioned at all. Nor is the World Trade Center.

What precisely could Gore or anyone else have done to avoid 9-11 based on this? Put more policemen on Federal buildings in New York?


Imagine if he had tried to push through the TSA with all its modern regulations based on a single note on his desk in August, 2001.

There would have been a public uproar! How dare he impose such draconian regulations for no reason!

and also controlled SCOTUS,

Put the bong down.


The 2000 election vote was 5-5 on straight partisan lines. Kennedy has been a regular swing vote, and it was not quite as solidly as more recently, until very recently, but GOP positions won far more often than not. Don't be silly.

No one who has paid attention to court rulings on social policy derived from the 14th Amendment would ever fancy the court has been 'controlled' by 'the GOP' at any time since 1937. Stop lying.

Wow, Art, you are right. The reason Bush ignored CIA warnings on 8/6/11 was because GOP had only a 16 seat margin in the House, and his deficit-enhancing tax cuts were due to Dems controlling committee structure in the Senate, and he invaded Iraq because he could not always get SCOTUS to vote his way. You are truly brilliant indeed.

Oh great, a Truther.

It was 7-2 on the equal protection issue, and 5-4 stopping the recount. As the NYT confirmed, the recount would not have gone Gore's way anyways.

You, as always, are an idiot.

they did have control at fed level, 2001-07,

No, they did not. The Democratic Party controlled the committee architecture of the Senate from June 2001 to January 2003. That aside, the Senate accomplishes precisely nothing other than bipartisan Capitol Hill conspiracies against the public interest because of its silly parliamentary rules. The GOP's pluralities in the House were a mean of 16 seats during the period running from 1995 to 2007. A half dozen recalcitrant New England Republicans and a couple of puppets for some local interest were enough to frustrate just about any initiative. That aside, George W. Bush was not ambitious or confrontational in the realm of domestic policy. The most controversial bit of business on which he was intent was...amnesty for Mexican turnstile jumpers.

There was never a surplus, we were already at war with both Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and the GOP was able to slightly slow the growth of nondefense spending while making the tax code more progressive.

although I think Dems could filibuster in the Senate for some of that time -

... You're uncertain if the Republicans had 60 seats in the Senate at some point in the last 15 years? Really?

3) The Arc of History bends towards Kevin Drum. Just ask him.

But he is correct that American Conservatives are different from European Conservatives. We clearly haven't got the message yet that we are so *over*.

Rubio/Fiorina 2016 with Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court by 2018 will be merely a speed bump, I'm sure.

It would be hard to beat that ticket.

6) I think many conservatives would be much more in favor of open borders if we had faith that, once over the border, they were educated in classical Western Liberal principles.

"that, once over the border, they were educated in classical Western Liberal principles."

See, that would be a compromise. Increased legal immigration, but the new immigrants have to go to George Mason for a semester or two...

3) Sounds like liberals are pining for Lyndon Johnson

1. The production of larger amounts of value by individuals may upset the Marxists, but like many things that upset Marxists, they are hugely beneficial.

Marxists aren't bothered by larger values of individual production, they are bothered by the fact that the productive apparatus is controlled by a very narrow segment of society, and that workers do not enjoy the full fruits of their labour.

That having been said, capitalism has made people generally too wealthy to listen to a call to arms for a Marxist revolution, even though there are existing injustices in the system.

Partly because Marxists have so overtly given up on giving a damn about material well-being. Anything that can somehow frustrate capitalist elites will do:

Some American conservatives would still like to encode Bibilcal Sharia as law. Ask a straight up question like "Would you support a move to replace the constitution with Biblical law?" and I'd put money on somewhere in the region of 10-20% support, whereas in Europe I'd be surprised with numbers even as high as 1% in most countries.

I think that the political alliance with right wing Christians with fiscal conservative and small government types has made it a lot more difficult for the right wing to focus on more traditionally right wing issues related to the economy, trade, etc. I'm pretty ignorant about Tea Partiers, but I suspect that this would be a strong explanatory factor in their general frustration with the Republican establishment these days.

It would be nice if the American system made it possible to escape this two-party trap it finds itself in.

Some American conservatives would still like to encode Bibilcal Sharia as law.

Some Canadian twits think in cartoons all the time. There is no such thing a 'Biblical Sharia'. As for theonomy, Dr. Rushdoony is dead, and never had more than a tiny following.

I can call it what I want. You are not required to like it. You know what I mean.

And ask those same Christian Conservatives if they would support actual Biblical laws such as the death penalty for adultery or death for people who change religions.

They'll say "of course not!"

If you actually walk into a church, the reverends aren't reading from Leviticus and demanding death for all infractions of God's Law. However, there are places in Iraq and Saudi Arabia where that is happening right now.

If you ask Egyptians or Afghans if they support the death penalty for adultery or blasphemy, you're going to get shockingly high margins that say yes.

I think if you were to start getting specific and explain to them what some of that might entail, they might be more in line with broader society. But posing the question as I suggested, I wouldn't be surprised to find a fair few takers.

As an aside, from the American situation ... the prime minister of Canada belongs to a church which explicitly states in a list of about a dozen key tenets that the only legitimate basis for law is Biblical law. I like to joke that this explains why he thinks he has the right to run roughshod over the constitution (the courts have had to slap him down dozens of times, and the current governing party must spend tens of millions a year fighting legal battles they are guaranteed to lose because they keep trying to pass anti-constitutional laws ... it must keep a lot of political donations flowing in from the evangelical base ... ).

Dear Peter Schaeffer, your comments are intelligent, fascinating, hilarious, and they outsmart the likes of Caplan and Tabarrok completely. Do you have a book or blog or twitter to follow? I would absolutely love to read more of your writings. When I do Internet searches on your name, I can primarily find Steve Sailer's blog quoting your comments from this site.

He has an amazing ability to cause people who disagree with him to give up completely and pretend he doesn't exist.

Schaeffer befiehl, wir folgen dir!

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