Sunday musings

I hadn’t known Ed “Let’s take the con out of econometrics” Leamer was the VP on the Larry Kotlikoff ticket.

The quality, and popularity, of Sully raises anew the question of why Hollywood doesn’t make more such movies.  Which is the scarce input?  The script?  Yet virtually every Clint Eastwood movie seems to come up with a good script.  I suspect “a recognized auteur with bargaining clout” is what is scarce.

Insects are not so scarce, but the marketing is tough:

Aketta grows its crickets in the United States and fills orders on a first come, first serve basis with weekly harvests. The company sells cricket flour and whole-roasted crickets. Flour is made from 100% milled crickets and has a “deep, earthy, umami flavor with hints of raw cocoa.” Sold in small batches of 1 to 1.5 lbs. Order online.

Here are many more insect food sources, but the claim is that the most innovative insect-selling start-ups are in Europe.

This story has scary good photos:

The Bund reached the height of its prominence on February 20, 1939, when some 20,000 members held a “Pro-America Rally” in Madison Square Garden.

Inside, jackbooted Nazi supporters filled the aisles while speakers ranted against President “Frank D. Rosenfeld” and his “Jew Deal.”

Outside, some 80,000 anti-Nazi demonstrators furiously protested the event, clashing with police and attempting to gain entry to the arena and shut it down.

The Bund called George Washington “the first fascist.”

Chileans remain upset at their semi-privatized pension system (NYT), and I say that is now the country to sell short.


The Retronaut makes it to Marginal Revolution!

My girlfriend threatens to cook crickets for me, but has not .. to my knowledge.

We could condem those jackbooted Nazis, but I am told that would be almost the textbook definition of bias, on our part.

'but I am told that would be almost the textbook definition of bias'

By who? Germans certainly condemn jackbooted Nazis, and really, it is hard to find people who don't condemn jackbooted Nazis. Apart from anti-Semites and racists and people with dreams of a 1000 year empire with eugenics finally being applied to enhance the glory of the Aryan race, that is.

And really, who cares about the opinion of sore losers concerned that someone might be biased against them.

A link to current affairs.

John Heilemann on the Deplorables

Let me see if I get this straight - calling jackbooted Nazis deplorable now requires an apology?

Note this is not talking about whatever Clinton siad, but the actual words of the post - 'that would be almost the textbook definition of bias'

Jackbooted Nazis, at least the proud ones, do not need anyone to apologize to them, anyways.

Only losers care about apologies when their feelings are hurt by someone, at least for those that remember the glorious visions those jackboots represented. Robespierre or Napoleon may have pointed out the need for destruction in creating a new order or in warfare, but those jackbooted Nazis were the ones that advocated destruction to keep the Volk pure - and then had the will to implement their visions through invasion and mass death.

I think this is where Tyler was going. In the last 24 hours we have had two twisted themes. On the one hand White Nationalists See Trump As A Chance To Break Into The Media Mainstream. On the other we hear that denouncing stuff like that is bias itself.

No idea where Heilemann is really coming from, a false equivalence that Clinton plays nice while Trump trash talks, or a more insidious normalization of evil.

Meida Matters? Really? Sinking quicker than expected, Ray.

Media Matters? Really? Sinking quicker than expected, Ray.

Tyler knows who I am. I use a valid email. I ain't Ray. There are differences. The Asian woman who threatens to feed me crickets is quite close to my own age.

One should always be careful when speculating where Prof. Cowen is going, as this little passage illustrates - 'Eugenics was a very popular idea with Progressives earlier in the twentieth century, and also with economists (in particular, pdf), and ultimately the Nazi connection will be seen as a bump in the road.'

That's right, a comprehensive implementation of a vision of eugenics that resulted in the deaths of millions will be seen as roadbump in Prof. Cowen's appraisal of a future he considers likely.

"The Asian woman who threatens to feed me crickets is quite close to my own age."

OK, that's something Ray would never say.

Godwin's Law strikes again. It never takes long.

Let me cut through anon's dog whistles and codes. 50% of Trump's supporters are 'deplorables' according to HRC. That 50% is primarily white, cis-hetero men. The deplorables are nazis according to anon. Nazis deserve to have their rights violated or perhaps even be killed.

See BAMN. There are already violent, leftist 'antifas', which attack 'nazis' as a cover for being an anti-capitalist, anti-white, anti-right hate group.

The language policing against 90% of the population and the violence against outspoken Trump supporters is just a prelude to what the revolutionary left wants, and what it has done time and time again.

"The language policing against 90% of the population..."

OK, then.
And, yeah, the "Revolutionary Left" is Hillary Clinton. Well, if in this world Reality has a well-known bias, what else to do but invent another one, right?

I like above to the actual words of alt-right white supremacists above.

How smart is it to pretend they never happened?

Or another easy one. Roger Ailes.

When in history could a man under suspicion of sexual misconduct publicly join a Presidential campaign?

Never before. And never before would he be kept on, praised, after admitting guilt.

So is Roger deplorable? Or do you jump in his >1/2 of the basket and defend him?

As opposed to running for President? and getting re-elected? Now husband of presidential candidate, if it weren't clear enough for you.

At least he's not a rapist, like the previously mentioned.

There were a lot of rumors about Bill Clinton, but he didn't have accusers line up like Cosby or Ailes.

Why not? Another perfect conspiracy? Or maybe it was all smoke, no fire.

"When in history could a man under suspicion of sexual misconduct publicly join a Presidential campaign?"

Kudos, That's the most amazingly clueless comment I've read all month!

"In an election year when Bill Clinton’s policies and personal indiscretions have faced intense scrutiny, Hillary Clinton is beginning to shape the role her husband would play in her administration, zeroing in on economic growth and job creation as crucial missions for the former president."

False equivalence for the win?

The Lewinsky thing was unseemly, but consensual. Bill has not had to pay out millions.

Really, this is the way YOU drag down our culture. You accuse your enemies of BS and then support the double down on your own side.

Ah well, if you think Bill == Ailes, you define yourselves.

Not even worth talking to.

There's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to allegations of Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct.

"Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States (1993-2001), has been publicly accused by several women of sexual misconduct. Juanita Broaddrick has accused Clinton of rape; Kathleen Willey has accused Clinton of groping her without consent; and Paula Jones accuses Clinton of sexually harassing her. Other women have alleged adulterous affairs with Bill Clinton (e.g., Dolly Kyle, Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky). "

"On appeal, in the midst of his trial for impeachment based on false testimony in the Jones case (about his affair with Monica Lewinsky), Clinton was faced with the prospect of having to go under oath again and testify more about his sexual history. Instead, Clinton agreed to an out-of-court settlement, paying Jones and her lawyers $850,000 to drop the suit.. Clinton's lawyer said that the President made the settlement only so he could end the lawsuit for good and move on with his life."

anon, your selective 'awareness' of relevant facts is bordering on the ridiculous at this point.

I'd love to be a civic nationalist type. But the prior-test2 types are making it very clear that I, or my children, are in a fight for survival. They are perfectly ok with the violence against Trump supporters in San Jose and Chicago. They also think the rape of 1400 girls in Rotherham and god knows how many elsewhere, are a small price to pay to avoid being called a Islamaphobe.

The white nationalists would have no traction if the SJWs didn't use so much eliminationist rhetoric and support violence against us deplorables.

This inherent projection made me laugh.

anon starts a thread with the following comment:

"We could condem those jackbooted Nazis, but I am told that would be almost the textbook definition of bias, on our part."

Obviously, he's implying that people he disagrees with are similar to "jackbooted Nazis".

Then he posts this comment:

"Really, this is the way YOU drag down our culture. You accuse your enemies of BS and then support the double down on your own side."

Significantly more Trump supporters have been violently attacked by Clinton supporters than vice versa. So yes it's really biased to pretend that the victimized side is the jackbooted one.

Anon is actually a perfect example of the kind of mentality that became a commissar in Soviet Russia.

That is not really a rational argument, because (1) we are not voting for violent protesters to be President, and (2) the candidates have not equally encouraged violent protesters.

They have not equally suggested that the other be shot.

But let's put it on me. It's my fault, not the candidates, not the violent protesters themselves, men

Good work Sam.

Thankfully neither candidate has suggested that the other candidate should be shot. Your fevered misrepresentations of Trumps words aren't facts. Secondly what's particularily Naziesque about calling for the assassination of a political rival. If you are going to make up facts to suit your argument then make up facts that fit.

Only one candidate in this race has used Hitleresque eliminationist rhetoric directed at tens of millions of Americans and that's Hilary Clinton. Im sorry that your soul is warped enough to be ok with that. The scary thing is you are clearly good at following orders.

The "second amendment remedies" thing was enough for the Secret Service to have conversations with the campaign. It is true that the campaign admitted no wrongdoing, but wear it.

The rest of your comment is just what I was talking about. Consort with racists. Retweet racists. Retweet that Jewish star, then edit it quick to a sheriff's star.

Then claim that the people noticing are the real racists.

Label tens of millions of American iredeemable. You are OK with that? That's pure eliminationist rhetoric Goebbels would have loved. He'd have come up with something a lot more clever than basket of deplorables though.

She has walked back the fraction herself. I would put it lower as well, but the really disturbing thing was the number of people who said "count me in the basket."

Either they are really uninformed, or they are signing on to the David Duke wing of Trump support.

Now Sam, who is playing the big lie right now? I, who notice Duke, our you who seek to hide him?

anon, are you that dense?

It was a polite way to say 'shove it up your exquisitely manicured ass'.

Is that you Pepe?

Why are the Hillarybots going on about this? Are they seeing their core support soften as the venality of Hillary becomes undeniable? Maybe if she outspent Trump 6-1 or 8-1 she could dig herself out of a hole of her own making. Gotta rile up your side to get them to write really big checks.

You don't see any connection to Tyler's original piece?

Did the people inside the room complain about the "legality" of the counter-protesters outside?

Venality changed to legality by my tablet

"Why are the Hillarybots going on about this?"

My guess is they are getting nervous. I still think Hillary is going to win the election. In general, she's a good campaigner and Trump is a bad campaigner. But it's certainly been much more of an uphill battle than I would have expected.

And the weekend news of Hillary's medical issues certainly rattled the Betting Markets.
Hillary has dropped 7% after Sunday's news cycle (as of 11:45 am EDT). Though she's still sitting at a 61% likelihood of winning.

The uncertainly now is driven by the awareness that she might actually have sufficient medical issues as to preclude her making it through to the election.

@JWatts: I'm curious, would you prefer (pretty clean) Kaine over (pretty shady) Clinton, versus Trump? Or do you prefer Trump to Kaine too? As someone who only hopes the awful Clinton wins because Trump is worse, I find her ill health a positive.

I don't know anything about Kaine, but if I had to pick blind, I'd lean toward him over Trump. Though I would still likely pull the lever for Gary Johnson if it was between the three.

Thanks, JWatts. So you are voting Johnson then? I sure am.

I believe it was called the German-American Bund. It's leader was Fritz Julius Kuhn, who in 1939 was convicted of embezzling funds from the organization and tax evasion. Not much has changed in 77 years.

The correct name for a national socialist oriented organization can be a bit tricky, though the German language wikipedia article does its best, reflecting the language of the people writing the big checks to keep the organization going - 'Der Amerikadeutsche Bund (DAB), auch Amerikadeutscher Volksbund oder German-American Bund, war eine nationalsozialistische Organisation in den USA vor Beginn des Zweiten Weltkrieges.'

Chile got blocked from going through an extended period of socialist mismanagement ending in hyper-inflation and disaster in the early 1980s because of the 1973 coup. Maybe they have to go through that before things can balance back and they can take more moderate policies - staunch leftist politics haven't lost their romanticism yet.

If only Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security!

' ' Manuel Riesco, an economist with the National Center for Alternative Development Studies, agreed that the funds had done well — for themselves. The money they collect from salary deductions is more than twice as much as they pay out in pensions. “That’s a huge surplus they will never give back,” Mr. Riesco said. “The state is spending large amounts of the federal budget to compensate for the failure of the private system. And as the population gets older, what do the A.F.P.s do? Reduce pensions even more. It’s a perverse and irrational system.” ' '

This comment does not make sense. The Chilean system was not designed to be a PAYG system where the AFP's pay out now to one generation what they take in now from another generation. Given Chile's demographics it should be running a surplus.

For Sully, I suspect it's because it's a movie with a low ceiling (comparatively). It will probably make around $100 million or so. The foreign take looks to be about 25% of domestic. For a blockbuster (say Capt America 3), the foreign take is 200% of domestic. The movie studios seem to prefer to shoot for the moon and have many failures with a couple giant successes.

I'm sure that's a general question for the economists. Why do entertainment companies prefer going for high-risk/high-reward events, rather than steady mid-listers? If you listen to novelists, there's a lot of complaints from authors who sell steadily and are moderately profitable that the major book publishers don't like to deal with them.

I suspect it's because identifying what exactly a Sully type movie is is quite difficult.
That said Hollywood made a fictional, darker version of Sully with Denzel a few years ago so that's what probably made the movie more attentive to studios. Studios like doing stuff similar to stuff they've done before.

Moreover I take it Tyler has never seen J. Edgar or Hereafter. If anything Eastwood like Gibson is the kind of director that needs a good story far more than a good script. The fewer words the better for both.

Right. The screenwriter of Clint's "Hereafter," Peter Morgan, pretty much apologized to the public for how half-baked his script was, explaining that he flew out to San Francisco thinking he and Clint would work on fleshing out his thin first draft only to find out that Eastwood and Matt Damon had already shot a sizable chunk of the movie.

Zemeckis's "Flight," with Denzel as the pilot and John Goodman as his dealer, is terrific.

"Flight" in 2012 made $94 million domestically, but only $68 million overseas. The budget was only $31 million, so it was highly profitable, but I believe Zemeckis and Denzel waived some of their usual guaranteed upfront payments to get the movie made.

And it was really, really good. So even though "Flight" was quite profitable, it wasn't so profitable that it made Hollywood executives feel like there must be $100 bills just lying on the sidewalk in the mid-budget dramas for grown-ups category. What happens if the next movie of that type you finance only turns out to be a little above average?

> Why do entertainment companies prefer going for high-risk/high-reward events

I believe it comes down to the same principal-agent problem commonly identified in Wall Street. Movie executives and traders are implicitly given a put option. If their risk succeeds they get paid out big, but if they lose the worst that can happen is they're fired it. Heads I win, tails the shareholders lose.

Last year's "Jurassic World" had a production budget of $150 million and made $1,670 at the box office worldwide.

And that's not counting the toys.

Toy movies pretty much subsidize the rest of the movie industry.

Yes, I remember looking at some Disney numbers. Some movies are produced at a loss, but profits come from toys.

Wasn't Chile the example prized by the Chicago-school economists of how to do pension reform?

Aketta is not priced as a non-scarce foodstuff.

Yeah, I was interested until I saw the price.


The article doesn't really seem to breakdown what's going on here. Relative to the amount paid in by current retirees, the Chilean pension scheme in aggregate is paying out much more today than US social security. The scheme has enjoyed a generally bullish super-cycle. The reason certain pensions are so low in Chile is because unlike the US or Western Europe there's no embedded re-distribution. In traditional social security benefits don't scale linearly with contributions, whereas in Chile they do. That makes it a relatively bad deal for the low-income and intermittent workers (like mothers who take off extended time during working years).

The issue comes down to traditional social security serving two distinct purposes: a forced savings retirement plan and a broad wealth redistribution program for the elderly. On the former count, Chile has been an astounding success. If we want redistribution, then we should simply acknowledge that. There's no reason to fuse these two objectives into a single program. It's a bad design and prone to cockamamy schemes. Simply have private pensions, but declare welfare for low-wealth seniors. The only reason this isn't politically viable is because Americans hate "welfare". Social security allows poor seniors to hold their head high, and pretend that they're simply reaping what they "paid in".

It isn't just poor seniors who have gotten to do this- in general, only those who died relatively early in retirement got less than they paid in adjusted for the return SS got on its special bonds. That will change given current law- there are people paying in today who would have been better off owning the same bonds in a private account.

"there are people paying in today who would have been better off owning the same bonds in a private account."

Sure, but most of them won't have anyway of knowing who they are ex ante because Social Security functions partly as a universal insurance scheme. If you become disabled while still relatively young or if your breadwinner spouse dies before the kids turn 18, Social Security is a pretty good deal and will keep you and your children from sinking into poverty. Also, if you survive into extreme old age, Social Security provides a certain degree of financial security.

The U.S. should have built a Pinochet factory. The return on investment would exceed all foreign and military aid combined, vastly curtailed the cost of the war on drugs and solved the illegal immigration crisis before it began.

this is a perfect MR comment in microcosm, inasmuch as i have no idea whether you are dead-serious right-authoritarian or merely trolling.

This is an even better microcosmal comment inasmuch as a leftist pretends that MR is full of bunch of authoritarians as opposed to mostly being full of weird Walter Mitty types like Ray Lopez, chamber of commerce types, and hard left Soros-bots like anon.

Sam, Sam, Sam. As they say, if you see a moderate as far left, you might just be far right.

I wonder what it means when you are blind to the racism? Maybe you should explain. Are "Mexican" judges born in the USA to be trusted?

I would hate to put words in your mouth.

I didn't realize the chamber of commerce was advocating raping political prisoners with dogs and carrying out global extrajudicial killings of political dissidents. my, how times change.


You've both been trolled. Yes, you are on opposite sides of the current political theater. Can we please not turn into Slate and salon, and just debate the issues?

Pinochet was an amoral dictator and did horrible things. No, the US is not responsible for what happens in other countries. Yes, non Americans have moral agency, be it murderers in Chile or murderers in Cuba. Did we stop the coup? No. Did we invade the country and change their government? No. Did the CIA tell Pinochet we would not interfere? By all accounts yes.

Here's a crazy idea, what Chileans do is none of our business. Non-interference should be the default situation.

sure pal, that's a lovely line of thinking. non-interference is complicity, even if our national intelligence apparatus isn't in bed with the dictator of the day. America first and devil take the hindmost is philosophically reprehensible.


Your condescending tone aside, what is your preferred policy then? What should the US do when faced with situations like these? What should our criteria be for interfering in the governments of other countries?

Can you come up with a principle based criteria for intervening? Or is this just a complaint that the CIA funded Allende's political opponents? I agree that was stupid and wrong. I'm not sure what your overall point is. At the end of the day Chileans overthrew Allende.

By all means, I'm open to convincing and I'm not here to score political points. I'm also unconvinced there's a more moral policy than letting other people live their lives.

The CIA has done some stupid and immoral shit over the years, but it's closer to impotence than omnipotence. It has money and can effect change sometimes on the margins, that's about it.

sorry for the tone; the specific history of US foreign policy engagement with the world at large (especially vis. latin america) has left me with little charity. in as far as your question it's obviously one of the hugely important issues any government of means has to face. for a hegemon like the US it's even more germane, and i'm sure i can't give you an adequate answer with my high school education. i'd say something like 'act to reduce aggregate suffering; never tolerate barbarity'. defining those terms with precision and translating them into a foreign policy platform is outside of my pay grade. i just find the general attitude here - one that grants dictators and autocrats respect for making the trains run on time and fending off nebulous 'communism' - depressing, especially for an ostensibly libertarian blog.

The Chileans overthrew Allende after impeaching him and having the Supreme Court declaring his rule by decree illegal. Just didn't stop the socialist dictator.
This was of course illegal, unlike the Iranian exercise where the Shah exercised his Constitutional authority to sack the Prime Minister, which is of course how a Constitutional Monarchy works.

Pinochet did some bad stuff, but he also saved Chile from a Cuban-style Communist government. The alternative would have killed orders of magnitude more, not to mention condemn millions to abject poverty. The best ideological mirror is the ANC. Both Pinochet and Mandela are responsible for a few thousand innocent deaths. Both overthrew reprehensible and oppressive governments. Do the ends justify the means? I think you can make the case either way.

However, what isn't intellectually defensible is to laud one and condemn the other. Either both Pinochet and Mandela are heroes. Or neither are. What's evident of a major left-right bias asymmetry is how the intellectual climate treats one and not the other. You can't mention any of Pinochet's accomplishments without naysayers bringing up every single human rights abuse. On the flip-side when Mandela died, anyone who mentioned the ANC's history of terrorism was labelled a pedantic racist.


This is the real takeaway. Politics in the US has become so insane and stupid that we identify with morally repugnant groups because they fit our ideal for x,y, or z. Pinochet was a murderer. So was Mandela. Murder is wrong, a priori. Pinochet and his desaparacidos program was evil. So was Mandela and the ANC necklace program of lighting rubber tires around peoples' necks and letting them suffer an excruciating death. Champions of humanity don't resort to murder of innocents, and evil in the name of good is no excuse for murder. This is French Revolution level moral bullshit justification.

"Murder is wrong, a priori."

If Americans believed it, they wouldn't even have a country. Either the Natives or the English woukd own it.

"The best ideological mirror is the ANC. Both Pinochet and Mandela are responsible for a few thousand innocent deaths. Both overthrew reprehensible and oppressive governments."

That's a bizarre comparison. What Mandela was imprisoned for was a low-level campaign of sabotage against government facilities and buildings. Mandela didn't "overthrow" any government -- he was democratically elected once the South African government agreed to legalize the ANC and give black people the right to vote. Once elected, he worked to establish South Africa as a liberal democracy and kept the peace among the country's various communities. Keep in mind that most people were predicting a period of blood-letting if not all-out civil war in the aftermath of the 1994 election.

In fact, the better comparison would be between Mandela and Pinochet's democratically elected successors. Both oversaw the transition toward liberal democracy and both refused to prosecute or purge their predecessors for gross and illegal abuses of human rights in the interests of internal peace.

Until now I had not heard of the Amerikadeutscher Volksbund. But the fact that it existed should give pause for thought to all supporters of mass immigration.

1. What happened to the enumerated Tyler?

2. Is this the start of a more conversational Tyler?

3. I no like it.

Eight ounces of flour for $28? lol

Regarding palatability, is there a single example of a society increasing consumption of insects in favor of animal meat when it gets richer?

Not actually a bad deal depending on the exact flavor profile. Fried chicken with a really strong umami profile on the flour might be damned amazing, even more so than the normal fried chicken. A spicy chocolate dipping sauce could replace your standard BBQ for dipping. I'll admit, I am tempted.

MSG is way cheaper than $3.50 per oz if you want umami, and that's before taking into account that you're still using regular flour.

That is why I have been against privatising SS. SS is a welfare program that was disguised as Ponzi scheme to make it palatable to the voters. Time to lose the disguise and pay all the retirees the same amount in retirement about $225/week or about $900/month.

It is social insurance. As such, it functions as a forced savings system, a moderate form of redistribution, and as a basic national insurance scheme all at the same time. SSI is the only part of Social Security that is truly a "welfare" program since it does not depend on having a work history.

+1, Social Security has some problems. The biggest being that in roughly 20 years, it will only pay at 75% of the current level. But it basically works.

The looming funding issue could be fixed by a combination of removing the income cap and bumping the retirement age up 2 or 3 years.

Medicare, Medicaid and unfunded public pensions are much, much bigger issues.

I don't understand why it's such a huge deal to bump the retirement age higher. Start now moving it back a couple months every year. Yeah, old people vote, but is that really such a big deal?

+1 to both JWatts and Shane M here

I have a better plan. Wait until I retire and am fully vested, then drastically cut benefits starting the next year. (every baby boomer on earth)

"Chileans remain upset at their semi-privatized pension system (NYT), and I say that is now the country to sell short."

Soon or later, Chile will fall as ripe fruit and Brazil will be ,ade whole again.

you've tipped your hand!

It doesn't matter. There is nothing they can do to stop us! Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth.
We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

Those kind of comments are really creepy. I sometimes wonder if you aren't a Troll deliberately trying to make Brazilians look bad.

Yeah, for Americans who killed the Natives and stole Mexican land or exterminated Filipinos or helped the Mujahideen or raped Iraq (or raped Japanese girls, by the way) are heroes, but Brazilians who want Brazil to be made whole again are "creepy" and "bad".

That's a nice straw man you are setting on fire. I'm sure he had it coming.

American hypocrisy surely deserves to be burned as a sacrifice on the altar of Civilization.

Thiago is still mad the US crushed Brazil in the Great Southern War of 1891. "Benjy's Boat to Brazil" was the hugely popular song of the time commemorating Benjamin Harrison's triumph over (and killing of) Deodoro da Fonseca.

It is a lie! There was no such a war! In 1891, Brazil repulsed the treacherous British Aggression and crushed the Second Fleet Uprising... From Guararapes in 1649 when Brazil defeated the Dutch to French Guyana in 1808 when we defeated France to Paraguay in 1970 when we crushed the strongest South American Army to Italy in 1945 when we freed Italy from the Nazis to 1946 when we crushed the Japanese Uprising to 1965 when we crushed the Dominican aggressor, Brazil was never defeated. It will bever be defeated.

Balderdash! Your patriotism blinds you to history. The US crushed Brazil in 1891 and we can do so again any time we wish. Of course, today you are beneath our notice.

It is a lue, you coward! We wil bury you!

It is a lie, you coward! We wil bury you!

Coward? How dare you! It is the absolute truth! I demand satisfaction!

You are a coward, a blackguard, a rascal!

Easy Mr. Alexander Magnus Ribeiro, why don't you start with Paraguay? There are some unfinished business from 1870.

The savage Paraguayan aggressor was crushed by the Brazilian people, its ingratitude and treachery were repaid one hundred fold, its carcass given to the birds and the wild animals. Its savage regime threatens our citizens in Paraguay and pretends it can attack our Southeastern states as they did in the 1860s, but they know they can't dare to carry out their threats. If they tried, no stone in Paraguay would be left on another.

Once when I was visiting LA I airbnb'd with a mid-level studio apparatchik. I asked him pretty much the same question:

"Considering that shooting an empty chair for 90 minutes Hollyowood-style would still cost about $10m in equipment rental, crew and soundstage rentals, why do so many crappy movies get made? Are good screenwriters so expensive?"

His answer:
"Screenwriters are pretty much the cheapest line item in a movie budget. Nobody starts up wanting to make a bad movie, and in fact almost every movie made starts out with a great script. But then the marketing exec calls and says "hey I know the movie is set in London in the 19th century, but we're trying to break into China. Could you add a Chinese character?". Then the lead actress agent calls and says that her client is pulling out of the project unless you rewrite her part to X Y Z, and sends over some sample lines. And so it goes on. This is why tv series are so great now. There is too little time of outside forces to screw it up."

"“Considering that shooting an empty chair for 90 minutes Hollyowood-style would still cost about $10m in equipment rental"

Wow. How friggin much is Obama's life story going to cost? You know he'll want it in real time.

Is Mr. Clint Eastwood attached to this project?

Clint Eastwood wins Oscar in the lead role.

Isn't the chair the one tasked with the lead role (or is it just a woody role)?!

"This story has scary good photos:"

They should have used some of those photos for "The Man in the High Castle" series.

Professor Cowen--

Please feature Professor Kotlikoff on a future "Conversations with Tyler." He is an expert on the fiscal gap between our promised future entitlements and our government's (insufficient) incoming revenue. In a more rational universe, this would be one of the Top 3 issues in our presidential campaign. Instead, it is virtually ignored. By contrast, the relatively irrelevant marijuana issue is getting many multiples of the press.

You can help reverse this travesty!


I am wondering if Tyler can explain more about why this report about protests over the poorly functioning Chilean social security system have him "selling Chile short." Is it that people have now waked up to how bad a system it is? Is it that the place is about to be taken over by awful bad socialists who will ruin the economy in various unspecificied ways? Is it that there has been corruption, some of by nominal socialist and involving the social security system?

I admit, it is not obvious to me that the Chilean economy is about to go down the toilet. For all his Chicago connections, Pinochet did not reprivatize the copper industry, and in fact the economy did not begin to perform well until after he moved off the harder line Chicago program and did things like reintroduce controls on short-term capital flows. What has happened recently that suggests some major slowdown or collapse? These demos or an impending takeover by wild Chavista-style socialists?

Oh, and though people who like to justify Pinochet like to claim Allende was going to turn the nation into Cuba (and Castro was supporting Allende), the evidence supporting that claim is nearly nonexistent. I would note that until Pinochet pulled his coup, Chile was the one South American nation that had been a continuously functioning democracy, and Allende was democratically elected, unlike in Cuba, where Castro seized power in a coup from a dictator who had also seized power without being elected and where there were no elections, although,of course, we really do not know what Allende would have done if he had not been overthrown.

I only learned about the Kotlikoff-Leamer ticket a week or so ago. It's sort of the reverse of Peter Navarro and the Trump campaign: it's quite common to see economists sign up as advisors for a presidential campaign, but Navarro has become a bit of a strange economist.

Kotlikoff and Leamer have top-flight credentials as economists, but their presidential campaign is strange, quixotic at best.

Regarding Chile:

Please try to imagine a world history over the last 70 years where the US implemented a non-interventionist foreign policy.

At a minimum, the Korean peninsula is a unitary communist state and the USSR continues to exist. Eastern Europe is still under the boot of the Kremlin and radical communist-inspired/funded guerilla movements continue to inflict terrorist attacks on western Europe.

Battling communism wasn't pleasant. We made a lot of mistakes. Lots of innocent people perished. We undoubtedly overreacted in many instances (e.g., Vietnam). But ultimately the world is a better place without the Soviet Union. That would not have happened if we had let communism spread unimpeded.

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