Tuesday assorted links

1. Tim Taylor on BrexitBernanke on Brexit.  And Angus defends Brexit.

2. Michael Pollan defends psychedelic drugs.

3. Georgiana Houghton at the Courtauld is one of the best and most revelatory exhibits I have seen.  Hardly anyone has heard of her, yet she was one of the very best nineteenth century artists.  Make sure you use the magnifying glass, from both short and long distances.

4. How can the USA get away with spending so little on long-term care?

5. On some cooperative benefits of war.

6. Is Danish mobility actually so high? (pdf)


'Make sure you use the magnifying glass, from both short and long distances.'

Because it best simulates a psychedelic experience?

Or was the Belgian beer so good that the difference between something in and out of focus was irrelevant at the time?

If wait formothers define our lives for us, we will end up missing being alive. Sorry but it’s just the way I feel…

I don't understand what this has to do with my post.

Turnabout is fair play.

LSD and mushrooms do tend to enhance the appearance of detail.
Whether that detail is accurate detail is a separate question.

In France we provide free day care. Time the land of "freedom" catch up.

We could have as much free day care as we wanted, but prefer to produce useful things instead, like steel, cars, milk, chemical weapons, hydroelectric power plants,oranges, airplanes and communication satellites.

So caring for children is a "useless" task?

My wife provides all the free daycare our daughter needs. Certainly some people over the years have tried to make her feel like that was a waste of her abilities, but I never thought so.

The BLS would tell you it is free and it produces no discernible economic output.

I think it costs you about 50% of her prior gross pay and adds to output by something more than that. You're giving up her post-tax pay, and you're doing so voluntarily so you must be getting something better.

I found it profoundly useful so we arranged that one of us made the income necessary so the other could do the important work only a parent can do.

To suggest that some bureaucrat or low paid semi trained person could replace that is ridiculous.

Most adult performance is due to genetics, not environment. So it is more economically efficient to have those whose skills are better aligned at watching kids watch the kids, and those whose skills are better aligned with other kinds of production doing that production.

You aren't just paying for outcomes, you're also paying for the quality of the childhood experience.

Suppose having a SAHM for you and your siblings and undergoing 8-6 daycare put you in the same place economically as a 30 year old. Which would you rather have experienced?

Also, taxes. SAHM labor is tax free. That's a huge hurdle for daycare to overcome.

Mr Econotarian,

Anyone who believes that is welcome to raise their kids in a total slum (say, West Baltimore) and send them to a blackboard jungle of a school. And why fuss about college? Or VocEd for that matter?
I doubt you'll find many takers though.
Genes count for something, but upbringing also matters. A lot.
Obvious and simple example: every one of us has genes that allow for the use of language. But what language one speaks is determined by one's upbringing-- the languages one hears as a baby.

We must focus in growing the economy and the military budget . After we retake and secure the lost territories and crush the enemy, we can have all the fingerpainting we may desire.

What are the parents doing while the kids are in "free" daycare?

Why they're working to pay all of the taxes to cover the cost of the "free" daycare, of course.

Which gets to the rub of the matter. "Free" daycare is not free. It's an income transfer to those with high incomes to those with low incomes.

I kinda doubt childcare is THE reason taxes are so high and parentS need to work.

About 0.7% of the workforce is employed in pre-schools and child care centers, and it's not a capital intensive industry.. I doubt the cost of that does more than influence the decisions of parents on the margin.

"About 0.7% of the workforce is employed in pre-schools and child care centers ..."

In France? I imagine the "free" government provided day care increases the usage in France considerably over countries where it's not "free".

Outsourcing early childhood day care--"free" or otherwise--is worse than useless; it is harmful.

Agreed. And as presumably the only MR reader who has actually worked in a daycare setting - and a relatively "good" one - I can attest that the one thing children do not feel by four o'clock in the box of a room where inevitably they must spend most of their day - is "free."

They are weary; hungry but not really sated from being plied with snacks; cranky; simultaneously over- and under-stimulated if that's possible; and increasingly ill-behaved, or if they are not themselves ill-behaved, then at the mercy of their ill-behaved peers, of which there are a more-than-representative sample, just as there are more boys than girls. Some children, you see, are more likely to be dropped off at daycare than others.

The only saving grace: the women who worked there - uneducated as they are, and often transient, tending to have tumultuous home lives - are sweet and much more patient than most of us could ever be (more so than perhaps is even advisable, for children). They genuinely like their charges, and find them interesting. So, in some instances - especially the instance of the mothers who returned home after dropping their kids off, and not to work - I concede a child may indeed be better off at daycare.

Freedom means getting things for free. The French often misunderstand the meanings of our words.

The problem with the French is, they don't have a phrase for "laissez-faire" in their language.

Or a word for "entrepreneur."

Isn't it obvious that they lack that "je ne sais quoi?"

I once polled single mothers about "free daycare" and they would rather have a very small amount of money (about $20/week) instead. Some would not even take it if it were free.

Daycare is expensive AND daycare workers are paid poorly.

Some people want cheaper daycare AND higher pay for daycare workers.

These people struggle with math...

Are we to be slaves to math?!

Math was made for Man, not Man for Math.

"Some people want cheaper daycare AND higher pay for daycare workers."

Generally, those are the same people that keep lowering the mandatory ratio of child care workers to children.

They're looking at the production possibility frontier and saying, "but why can't we be all the way in the upper right space where everything is free and awesome? Economists are [insert expletive here]!"

If you subsidize daycare (and is probably what these people want), it is exactly this that you will have - cheaper daycare AND higher pay for daycare workers

They already had childcare arrangements satisfactory to them. It would have added nothing to their utility.

In my country we do everything correctly. All other countries have inferior processes and should become exactly like us. Except, of course, they should accept our superiority in all things.

(I know there's no chance they'll accept my personal superiority in all things, so I must appeal to being a member of a greater community I don't really impact.)

I get confused when prior_approval uses multiple handles.

If wait for others define our lives for us, we will end up missing being alive. Sorry but it’s just the way I feel…

If you don't routinely carry a magnifying glass, a cell phone camera makes an excellent substitute for examining details of paintings.

Indeed, take a quick picture, then swipe to enlarge it.

Also, you can take a picture of only part of the painting and swipe to enlarge. It's fantastic.


I can think of several possibilities:
1) Greater healthcare spending in the US results in a healthier over-65 population
2) Disability is substituting for long-term care spending
3) The (former) need to have a job in order to get health insurance kept anyone who could work in the job market and off of long-term care.

It will be interesting to see if these numbers change as the result of the ACA

4) Families provide a lot of long term care for free. While there's a scolding stereotype of families dumping Grandma in a nursing home as soon as she stubs her toe, I have found that sort of thing to be rare. Most families I've known (including my own) have bent over backward to care for ailing and failing relatives at home unless and until the medical needs became so overwhelming that professionals were in fact needed. In a couple of cases where elders were abandoned to The System it was due to the fact that those elders had severely mistreated their children when they were young-- in effect making their own bed and having, at the end, to lie in it.

It's not the medical needs. It's the time involved in supervising the subject, the labor involved in seeing to it that tasks of daily living are performed (especially the toilet), all conjoined to the behavioral problems of the subject. Mild dementia conjoined to extant (but ordinary) personality problems can make a subject nearly impossible to care for. Nurses who have some skills dealing with difficult elderly (and no history with a given patient) can commonly do this more effectively.

The cases I am citing mostly involved things like ALS, cancer etc. Though I know of a couple cases of people with Alzheimers who were also cared for at home. One died from cancer (at home, with help from hospice). I am not sure what the other died of-- he was basically just like a big somewhat retarded child for years. Not mean or unpleasant, but a bit mischievous.
My step-mother's mother was eventually placed in a nursery home-- she was not suffering dementia, but rather severely limited mobility due to a stroke. Her house served (And still serves) as the office for the family contracting business so someone was always with her during the day. On weeknights they hired a private duty nursing assistant.On the weekends they took turns-- three sons and a daughter (my step mother, who had to drive four hours there and then back once a month) staying with her. What wrecked this arrangement was when one of the sons was diagnosed with ALS and was obviously going to have his own severe medical needs very soon (he died at home however).

While there’s a scolding stereotype of families dumping Grandma in a nursing home as soon as she stubs her toe, I have found that sort of thing to be rare

Can't happen in New York. You need to have a considerable deficit of mobility or presence of mind to be a candidate for nursing home care. Assisted living is strictly private pay, either out of personal resources or LTC insurance, as is 'independent living'. Although there are some lousy places (and social workers will warn you), there are well-run places with dedicated staff at all levels.

A tough situation I know of, a man was losing his sight and a woman was descending into dementia. "She's gotta be his eyes and he's gotta be her mind", their one and only child told me. I think they both eventually went into care locally, IIRC.

Another tough situation I know of: a second wife, 86 years of age, but her husband into a home. His children stopped speaking to her. "Oh, they visit him every day", her daughter tells me. It was their stated position that the decision on where he was cared for was theirs, and the labor to care for him was hers.

Another tough situation: a bachelor engineer, 46 years of age, is able to retire on savings and does so to care for his elderly parents. His father, not mobile and deaf as a post, lasts nine years. His mother descends gradually into dementia. After nine years, she wasn't quite sure who that old man was living with her was. She lived another 7 years, dying at age 94. I think the last year or so, her son, age 60, put her in a home.

See, caring for the engineer's parents was zero cost!

Gdp increased faster as a result because engineering is wasteful spending that leads to increased productive capital which drives out monopoly rents destroying wealth.

So, you've added tastelessness to your chronic confusion.

mulp actually has a point this time.

The engineer's labor seems to be misallocated in this case. Especially given that at 46 he should have been in his prime productive years. One would think he could have hired a nurse to care for his parents instead of dropping out of the workforce though.

I'm very pleased I will never have to encounter you face to face.

"mulp actually has a point this time.

The engineer’s labor seems to be misallocated in this case. "

Only from a strict Utilitarian point of view. Perhaps the Engineer enjoyed caring for his parents more than his job. If he could spend his own money and do something he preferred, more power to him.

Personally, I find it strange that anyone would give up their career in mid-life in order to care for their dying parents.
This is probably because I love my career and didn't much care for my parents (who have both passed).

I guess if I hated my career and loved my parents a lot that might be different. Just not how I imagine anyone sets out imagining their life is going to go. You usually try to pick a career you like and want to be successful at, and if you do that, chances are, you're not going to want to abandon it. But, if you change your mind and hate your career maybe it's not a big sacrifice.

Long term, though, that guy is going to have less savings to support his own retirement. At 60, and out of the workforce for 14 years, nobody is going to hire him. As a bachelor he presumably has no kids, which means there's not going to be anyone around to return the favor. So basically, he's going to be rewarded for his sacrifice by dying alone in a state-run nursing home.

He was spelled some by his sister, niece, and nephew. His brothers were hors de combat, but since he pulled up stakes an relocated to Texas down the road from one of them, I'm guessing they had a congenial understanding. They're in business together now.

Really, Hazel, this isn't that mystifying.

"Really, Hazel, this isn’t that mystifying."

It isn't that unusual. It is mystifying. A society that puts parents way ahead of children has something wrong with it.

I don't know the details, so I don't want to criticize this specific case.

Re: A society that puts parents way ahead of children has something wrong with it.

It 's not a "society" doing it. It's an individual family making the choice.

I don't understand your point.

There's also such a thing as "respite care": the old person goes to a nursing home for a short stretch to give the family a break. A cousin's husband dying from ALS went to a nursing home for two weeks as a respite for his wife, kids, kids' spouses and grand-kids when everyone was exhausted from caring for him.

4. Apparently the US is spending 1.2% less of GDP on long term care than the OECD average.

Merely bumping that up to OECD levels would cost $200B per year.

Meanwhile, all of the Obamacare tax hikes only raised around $50B-$60B per year.

The Boomers are just beginning to become senior citizens, and they vote. So look for this to change. I don't see much activity in this area yet, so it's probably a good opportunity for someone who wants to get ahead of the curve and figure out a way to exploit this future trend.

The vast bulk of the increase in birth cohort sizes occurred during the years running from 1939 to 1952. Birth cohorts have since then fluctuated around a set point of 4 million. The 'boomers' have been retiring for 15 years.

Can't we be happy that the US is underspending on a medical category for once?

Not being in the labor force is a bad thing?

So, how do you provide free long term care full time while at the same time working full time in the labor force?

Or provide free child care while working full time?

Economists can't quite get around zero sum, TANSTAAFL.

Don't want to pay for things with taxes that weren't paid for with taxes a century ago, but don't want the economy and culture of a century ago because twice as many people need to be in the labor force earning money that produces rents for Wall Street.

To understand the social problem of the 30s, FDR'S technocrats wanted to know about the non-farm population. People living on farms had capital assets that let them produce the food they eat, the fuel they burn without paying wages or paying for goods. A farm is socialism or communism. Thus all labor data collected and statistics were for only those where work was exchanged for money exchanged for goods.

So, the statistics collected in the US are still rooted in policy needs during the Great Depression.

Economists try to deduce things about the total culture of the US by using statistics for the part of the economy FDR built a street lamp to cover. Rather than building more street lamps (costs too much) or upping the wattage of the FDR street lamp (costs too much, validates FDR'S big government), the areas in the shadows is assumed to be just like the part that is lit.

Having lost the keys to drive the car, the search is under the lamp post. Not finding the keys, and not seeing the car, the conclusion becomes there is no car to drive, even though everyone arrived by car.

Just because many people work without pay does not mean they are not workers who are doing a lot of work.

It's just no one wants to measure the work without pay, especially when Wall Street can never extract rents from work for no pay.

Re: People living on farms had capital assets that let them produce the food they eat, the fuel they burn without paying wages or paying for goods.

Some of the food they eat: the couldn't produce everything: salt and many spices for example.
As for energy, what you are talking about? They had to buy gasoline/oil/coal/electricity on the market.


No matter the facts, blame the Americans, we're the ones doing it wrong.

What, you thought mulp was going to deviate from the script on this one?

4. Taylor doesn't mention the most important reason: Medicare doesn't cover long-term care. Medicaid does, but there are (at least) two problems with Medicaid: you have to be poor to qualify and Medicaid long-term care facilities are awful, dreadful, and a disgrace. Back when I was a tax lawyer, estate planning was mostly about avoiding estate and gift tax; today, with an $11 million estate tax exemption (for married persons) it's mostly about qualifying for Medicaid when it's time to put grandma in the nursing home. Times have changed, That doesn't mean it's hopeless for seniors with assets who might need long-term care. What's developed in health care are layers of care between acute care hospitals and nursing homes, the intermediate care facilities (such as "rehab hospitals") providing temporary care that qualifies for Medicare. Anybody with a senior in the family knows the routine: to the acute care hospital, then to the rehab hospital, then home, then back to the acute care hospital, then to the rehab hospital, then home; rinse and repeat. Of course, that only works when the senior has someone who will manage her care for her. Taylor mentions long-term care insurance. Yes, right. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2016-03-10/why-no-one-can-afford-long-term-care-insurance-and-what-to-use-instead

"Estate" planning was always primarily about faking impoverishment to qualify for Medicaid. There were always a lot more people in that position than on the margin for the estate tax. Your customers may have been relatively high-end.

Artificial impoverishment is still a big deal today. The "estate" part of the process has shifted from avoidance of the estate tax to management of the income tax consequences of inheritance, particularly with RMDs on inherited IRAs. There's still plenty of planning business in the single-digit million estate range.

You need to dump the assets at least 5 years in advance in New York, or there will be clawbacks. There are protections for family homesteads, so the functional spouse does not have to sell the house.

I think the 5 year rule is common. Start spending and gifting early. And make sure to keep good relationships with your kids if you're counting on continued access to your "gifts." God forbid they sell the summer home on Nantucket.

There's also Hospice for the terminally ill, which often allows the dying to remain at home until maybe the very end.

#1: Tim Taylor and KPC were good. Bernanke needs to step up his game. Some of those comments seem premature.

1. "Angus isn't defending 'Brexit'. He's pointing out the objections to it are ludicrous. Ben Bernanke tells us the 'costs will exceed the benefits' without offering any quantification of either or even a definition of what a 'benefit' is. Taylor is passably sensible, but his comments on the size of the British economy are inane.

Timothy Tyler makes the assumption almost all economists make: there will be no significant changes in medicine and health in the 2020s and 2030s. 2016 in the West and Japan represents the peak in human health that will not be surpassed, or at least until there is Star Trek medicine, but that isn't until the year 2235.

Back on Earth, away from the Econosphere, by the early 2020s, the average length of long term care will shorten in all countries and keep continuing to shorten so that an end of life decline would occur over a few days or at most a few weeks. Right now it is estimated that about 70 percent of Americans over 65 will need "long term care" at some point but that is looking back on what happened in the past. Nobody under 40 today will ever experience what is usually understood as long term care, apart from the possible few weeks at the very end.

I noticed that the NY Times' front page story on dogs in rapamycin trials didn't make the cut for one of Tyler's 6 or 7 news stories of the day. I checked, and Cowen put only 4 stories the following day: Venezuala falling apart, The Amish PAC, Why America can't be Denmark and Restaurants returning to tipping. There was room that day!

Oh, human trials for NMN to raise NAD levels start soon. Never a dull moment in the burgeoning health pill world.

Why are you so sure about that?

Today's middle aged American adults are seeing declines in their health relative to previous generations. Higher rates of drug use, alcoholism, obesity, etc. are having major negative impacts on health.

Smokers die pretty quickly at around age 70. Lung cancer is quick.

Obese diabetics with Alzheimer's linger on for many years.

Minimalistic robots that can automatically help someone to the bathroom, bring prepared food and medicine at appropriate times backed up by telepresence nursing will replace and enhance current health care. I think the desire for companion ship will trend towards elderly group homes with just such arrangements.

I'm somewhat doubtful about the idea of smart robots. But I expect to see devices 'smart' enough to handle well defined tasks like those above common place in the next 20 years.

Also, we'll probably see robots that can clear a table of dishes and load the dishwasher, or move a clothes hamper to a clothes washer and load it, then later load the dryer and the place the dried closes back into the hamper. Possible even do some basic folding. Etc.

Note sure how practical it is, but it freaks me out to watch:


Jesus. We're doing a lot of Rude AI's groundwork for it.

I've been listening to what scientists who work on longevity have been saying since 2003. Around 2010, more scientists started to give estimates of when the first pharmaceutical health pill would be available. As David Sinclair noted on NPR's Science Friday in 2013, researchers usually avoid giving estimates, but enough of the bigger names started to that I took an average, including of the researcher who has headed up the dog study who thought a lot hinged on the FDA, The pharmaceutical times ranged around 2018 to 2023 for anything better than what exists: maybe rapamycin, maybe the NR supplement..

These would reduce the likelihood of getting all diseases of old age by some percent. Sinclair hopes overall 10% at first but thinks eventually it will be over 50%. Of course, at the same time work continues on cures and therapies (stem cells) for those age related disease. Those over 55 or 60 with more ailments than in the past wouldn't be unexpected in a period where technology improves to keep people alive but not to treat them back to complete health.

Someone 45 today will be 65 in 2035, when the improving health pills and therapies will have been in wide use for a decade. A few weeks ago Larry Summers was the first economist/policy person to consider older Japanese might benefit from gene therapies in 2025.

I can confidently assert that your 'predictions' will not come to pass as soon as you [naively] believe.

We need to have a much richer understanding of how life actually works at the molecular level.

Decades of research & work await us.

But, thanks for playing!

ps It would be interesting to get Mark Thorson's view on this topic

is this like how aspirin doesn't work because biologists don't understand all the mechanisms involved? Much has been learned in just the past few years. Until a Japanese researcher published in an obscure article the results of a fluke experiment, it was not known that NAD+ levels in cells that decrease from age 40 played role in aging. Researchers like him (Shin) and Guarente argue that NAD seems to be critical in how the mitochondria communicates with other parts of the cell.Taking NR or NMN seems to boost that in mice and humans. The effects on humans have been studied about two years so results should be out this year.

There is no reason to think that we will have the status quo out for 'decades' based on what the top researchers are saying. Economists don't have any science background so don't know what to make of these developments. It is much easier to ignore them and keep using simplistic projections that a sharp 13 year old would never make.

" Economists don’t have any science background so don’t know what to make of these developments"

1) We are in heated agreement

2) I am not, and shall never be, an economist.

Your salicylic acid non sequitur diminishes your point.

#3 "One reason [Houghton is not widely known) is that she was a woman in a world that only saw artistic genius in men."

Twaddle. There was a huge flourishing of successful, respected women painters in the second half of the 19th century.Just start with the "New Women" Mary Cassat, Ellen Day Hale, Lizzie Coffin, Elizabeth Nourse, Cecilia Beaux. Rosa Bonheur for crissakes was one of the most popular painters of her age. Other favorites, Anna Goldthwaite, Marie Bracquemond, and I am embarrassed to admit there are so many more with whom I am unfamiliar. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_Painters_of_the_World The story of women painters is so much more than another tedious oppressor-oppressed tale. Houghton may not have been recognized in her day, many great artists both male and female are not, however, to understand her story one might do much better to examine the similarities with Hilma af Klimt, another overlooked visionary artist (possibly due to her husband's influences), or even to earlier William Blake whose work was not recognized during his life time. I'd argue the power and genius of visionary art is that it is so singular that criticism has to grow and mature to appreciate it. Rather than victims, visionary artists pave the way for new aesthetics and new understandings. Perhaps that is why they die so unrecognized.

Describing her as one of the best 19th century artists also strikes me as aggressive contrarianism taken way too far. Out of a century that gave us Sargent, Rodin, Alma-Tadema, Carpeaux, Monet, Inness, and about a million other painters and sculptors operating at the limit of possibility in the arts... I mean, one likes who one likes, but the claim is silly.

Reading that list only confirmed my impression that like skateboarding or sitar playing, "19th century female impressionist" is a category of human endeavor broad enough to support exactly one household name.

@ 4. "The less costly, harder-to-implement, and more satisfactory answer is to encourage ways for people to receive only the degree of assistance they really need, so that they can live in their homes or their communities as long as possible while being supported by family and friends, but still have a backstop of public support for institutional care when needed."

Isn't that what we have?

Unless an expensive and intrusive bureaucracy makes the decisions, the answer is no.

Exactly. This article is written as though self-reliance, flexibility, and diverse solutions are bad things. If the solution didn't come from the top down, it's no good.

One sentence in the article struck me: "the US is falling so far below the average in its spending on long-term care". To me, that's like complaining about US food stamp usage going down.

Like school adminisrators, they measure performance in terms of inputs.

"1. Tim Taylor on Brexit."

This article seems to agree with the assesement that the "Leave" coalition had at least some similarities to the American revolutionaires. It also makes me suspect that Tyler Cowen would have been a Loyalist during the American Revolution. ;)

No offense meant Tyler.

There was an article in History Today about a decade ago which estimated the number of crown employees in the capital during the time of Charles II to be about 600. Somehow I suspect they were less of an imposition than the Brussels crew.

"the number of crown employees in the capital during the time of Charles II to be about 600": so about 599 plus Poor Nell.

I am genuinely curious about this. The Colonies broke away from a large political and economic union at much larger transition costs than Brexit. Most of their complaints were, all things considered, pretty minor. No Taxation Without Representation was a nice rallying cry, but if the Colonies had been given Representation, it wouldn't have meant a whole lot.

I've never understood their complaints. Some were so minor that no sane man would risk his neck for them. Some were so huge that the whole population of the Colonies would have rebelled and it would all have been over in weeks. Presumably there must have been some historians who have tried to work out what the real motivations were. It can't all have been a desire to renege on debts to London merchants, to avoid the consequences of the growth of abolitionist sentiment in Britain, and simply to seize political power for its own sake? Can it?

No, not really. Slavery was economically inconsequential in New England and the mid-Atlantic, and they still participated avidly. Massachusetts was the most rebellious colony.

As for your London merchants, that might have been a motive for someone like John Hancock (and I think he did have liabilities he did not wish to satisfy), but only a small minority were in the town and most people were in agriculture. There was cash cropping (tobacco in that era, cotton later), but a great deal of it was subsistence farming. The towns had artisans, merchants, and professionals. It's difficult to imagine their enterprises required remote financing. There were no banks, IIRC, until 1792. I doubt a narrow social stratum making their living from shipping could whip the rest of the population in a lather that way. The leadership stratum were gentlemen planters (Washington, Jefferson), professionals (Adams, Witherspoon), artisans (Revere), and merchant-artisans (Franklin).

"gentlemen planters (Washington, Jefferson)": I don't know whether Washington was competent, but Jefferson was notoriously incompetent in business; he amassed huge piles of debt - or so I have read. I can't claim to have studied the matter.

As for New England, I've seen some hints at a jihadist motive, of pastors frightening their congregations with tales of the Church of England being imposed on them. Any truth in it?

What I could really do with is a couple of books worth reading i.e. not simply repeating uncritically the US foundation myths, but trying to get to the bottom of what happened. I did have a look at a book by Howard Zinn but it proved to be sub-marxist ranting, so that was no good.

Regarding Washington, Mount Vernon paid. Jefferson's finances were a mess, but a certain minority's are. Given how lax Anglican establishments were in the South and in the Maritimes and how unsuccessful were efforts to institute exclusive establishments in New York and New Jersey, I'd assume that's an urban legend you'd heard. The rigor of New England Calvinism was also dissipating from one generation to the next. The titular religious establishments were eliminated by 1833, and all but two or three by 1800.

The de facto Catholic establishment in Quebec was an issue.

Try Peter Oliver's origin and progress of the American rebellion. It's freely available online and it is a primary source writte. By a well place Massachusetts loyalist. It's also just a really fun read. It's biased as heck but you will learn a lot. I read it seven or eight years ago, but I still remember the name ebeneizer mackintosh.

Also Bernard bailyn's ideological origins of the American Revolution is a classic.

The true history of the American Revolution by Sydney George fisher is also helpful in understanding particularly the motives of the rebels outside of New England. It also makes sense of how the rebels actually won.

You're forgetting there was an armed rebellion in 1794 suppressed by the Washington Administration. The issue was excises on liquor. Our forefathers were flinty and right contentious.

No clue. The disputes started over the Stamp Act and the Proclamation of 1863. The best explanation I can think of off-hand is that in a society where nearly half the population consisted of yeoman farmers who lived and died consequent to their own labor and much of the remainder of the population was self-employed, people tended to have a neuralgic reaction to taxation of any kind, especially when the services in question were of dubious utility to them and those levying the taxes a months-long voyage from where they were living. I think feudal dues had dissipated in Britain by the late 18th century, but the peasantry there still had only rights of occupancy on the land they farmed and were accustomed to being pushed around by the gentry and peerage.

I understand that the American colonies were the lowest taxed civilisation in history. That doesn't mean, of course, that they wouldn't be keen to avoid even the lightest extra burden.

"I understand that the American colonies were the lowest taxed civilisation in history. "

I doubt that. The colonies taxed and paid for a lot of their own services. Then they paid some direct taxes to the Crown. In addition, they paid indirect taxes in the form of a government regulated market for buying and selling that forced all non-domestic transaction through English shipping and companies.

JWatts brings up an important point.

The British demanded that Americans conduct all of their trade along mercantilist lines with tariffs designed to protect British manufacturing interests. It might not have shown up as a direct "tax" but it imposed a serious cost on American economic independence.

The Indians suffered under a similar regime and rebelled for similar reasons. I'd also mention the Indian salt tax which amounted to around 7.5% of the income of a typical Indian laborer and was regarded as a painful burden.


Lastly, there was the Prohibitory Act which effectively blockaded all American ports. This more than anything sparked a revolt of the merchant class.

The taxes may or may not have been well-designed, but they were justified. Britain had spent a lot of money defending the colonies from French and Spanish encroachment, and the Frenmch and Indian War was not cheap. The problem, I think, is that the taxes were imposed by decree, not requested. Since the Middle Ages Englishmen expected to have input into any taxes they paid via the House of Commons. Charles I lost his throne and his head when he tried to do an end-run around that requirement. Even Elizabeth had gotten some back-talk on her revenue raising schemes, and not even Henry VIII, the most tyranical of all English kings, could raise taxes on his own. The colonist complaint about "No taxation without representation" seems trivial to us now, but at the time the attempt to impose taxation by fiat with no local input really was seen as a profound act of tyranny, and as worthy of rebellion as the Parliamentarian rebellion of the 1640s had been

Taylor points out that the promise of a common market and lowered trade barriers was used to trick the UK into what eventually became the EU and the planned elimination of national sovereignty. Other pro-EU commentary seems to ignore that fact.

Britain was in the EU for 20 years before the Maastricht Treaty and the shenanigans around it's ratification were an indicator that thimblerig was the game. I don't think Jean Monnet hid his objects back in the day.

2. One complimentary trip per year could do wonders for the national psyche.

One thing I wish there was research on was the impact of psychedelics sub-divided by IQ group. My anecdotal evidence is that psychedelics seem to have generally very positive, mind-opening effects on those who are already brilliant or creative (e.g. Steve Jobs, Francis Crick or Aldous Huxley). But when it comes to your run-in-the-mill 80 IQ hillbilly, acid trips seem to involve the worst combination of the manic destructiveness of meth binges and the brain-dead judgement of a drunken stupor.

I think it takes a good deal of raw cognitive capacity to process the depths of psychedelic consciousness distortion. I'd surmise at least the bottom three quartiles of the population simply accept it as random madness, and don't really take anything away from it.

Re #4, I suspect the author's question can be largely answered by noticing that he is comparing exclusively public spending on long-term care rather than total public plus private.

@#5 - "What is clear, though, is that trauma can strengthen, not weaken civic life" and, "At first, even Miguel was skeptical of his results. But in the past decade, 19 studies have come out documenting the same thing, not just in Sierra Leone, but also in Uganda, Burundi, Georgia, Israel and Nepal. The evidence has been adding up." -

I think this 'war fosters social cooperation' hypothesis is wrong. I think what the studies are finding is this: poor people (of the kind that have everything taken away from them by war) are more "generous" than rich people who have not been impacted by war. It makes sense, without having to resort to artificial 'evolutionary biology': if you're poor, you have nowhere to go but up, and wish to cooperate with your fellow man; by contrast, if you're rich, you have nowhere to go but down, and could care less about cooperation. Certainly that explains 1% me.

By 'generous' of course I mean poor people being generous with their time, with their cooperation, with their trust of those around them in similar straits; obviously not generous with money, which they don't have.

"If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones. John Steinbeck

1) Three good links. Taylor's post is illuminating, and I've enjoyed reading others like it. The insights of Americans visiting the UK during the referendum have offered an invaluable antidote to coverage offered by the US and European media, which both subscribe to a similar elitist, cosmopolitan, pro-EU worldview (Megan McArdle's column on Brexit describes this phenomenon; Taylor, meanwhile, astutely observed echoes of American revolutionary slogans in the Leave campaign's rhetoric which was mirrored by much of the British pro-Leave press). As others have mentioned, the collective mourning of the US media over Brexit has been bizarre, and it was equally unusual that a US President could travel to the UK and openly campaign on one side of a domestic issue without the usual complaints against American arrogance. I'm not convinced by Taylor's assertion that "if countries don't want to deal with the UK for whatever reason, there are lots of other options out there." The UK seems to punch far above its weight in finance, high technology, math, science, and the arts, among other sectors. The composition and proximity of the UK's economy makes it less replaceable than Taylor suggests. If the EU wants to erect punitive tariffs that's their prerogative, but the consequences would be mutually damaging.

The Angus post is a welcome response to the anti-democratic post-Brexit meltdown we're seeing, and I share his exasperation. I can't recall witnessing such a relentless and diffuse attempt to delegitimize a vote on so many fronts. Dissecting the vote by region and demographics is a ridiculous exercise, and the but-fors have been equally silly. (The UK would have voted Remain, but for the dreary weather; but for the Sun's latest op-ed; but for the Queen's choice of hat that day.). Every individual loves democracy when he personally agrees with the will of the people; when he doesn't agree, he thanks God in Heaven that we have constitutional checks against the people's fickle passions. I don't recall hearing these critiques against pure democracy before the vote; to hear them after is sour grapes.

#3) Grading on a curve?

#4) To see the silliness of this question, consider an analog: How can Europe get away with spending so little on defense? Just because one polity spends a lot on something doesn't mean that level of spending is necessary or even beneficial. American seniors seem extremely dynamic and adaptable in securing the care they need. A combination of family, friends, neighbors, churches, and senior communities in warm climates, supplemented by a social safety net, seems a cost-effective model for long-term care. If other countries find it necessary to spend so much on long-term care, maybe it's they who have a problem and not us?

Re: #3 and grading on curves... sometimes the people in the comments who suggest signaling for the reason behind something posted have a point. What would you say was the primary editorial topic of the linked article, leaving out the painter herself from contention?

I believe the explanation for the very low expenditure on long-term care is that the US has invented an in-between solution: senior living. My elderly parents moved into a senior living apartment in their mid-80s. It had a cafeteria for dinner and would bring meals up if needed. It had a bus to take them to doctors. A handy-man was on call. Maid service/laundry service. But they paid for it as if it was just their rent. It would not count as "long-term care". Another factor is that the US is pretty good at rehabilitating stroke victims, who would otherwise be a huge disabled population, so they can live on their own again (both my parents).

OT: AI beat top gun


Those 65 or older in 2013 were born in 1948 or earlier, so a large portion of that group experienced early childhood in nations at war. Deprivation of that sort could leave a mark to be experienced as poorer health throughout life, including greater decline in old age. On that chart of health status, the nations with the healthiest feeling old people are New Zealand, Canada, United States, Australia, Sweden, and Switzerland.

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