Tuesday assorted links

1. Esther Duflo’s Ely lecture, “The economist as plumber.”

2. Disappearing markets in everything: the last disco ball maker (there is noisy sound at the link).  And how bad is authoritarianism really?  And David Brooks on Bannon vs. Trump, I am always happy to see actual analysis of the Trump administration.

3. The best economic history works in the last decade? (pt. I)

4. AI now wins in heads-up, no-limit Texas hold’em poker.  That is a game of asymmetric information.

5. The books some Australian guy is looking forward to.

6. If they had served this up as parody, I would have thought it too exaggerated.  Did Darwinian processes really produce this?  I guess so.

7. Long Piketty blog post on productivity in Germany and France.  It does seem he is now blogging in English (and French) for Le Monde.


Here's a shortcut to figuring out if someone is spewing hot air: they write about Dugin as if he is somehow important to the Russian regime.

I think he is important as an apologist for foreign consumption. He has a quite following in Brazilian.

#2 I was always impressed by Pat Robertson's description in _The Turning Tide_ of his experiences in Pinochet's Chile. Strangely enough, people walked along the beaches and ate ice cream cones. Life for normal people isn't that bad--humans are very versatile and can survive or even thrive under a variety of regimes. Life only gets rough under these regimes if you're part of a subversive organization (i.e. a communist in Pinochet's Chile or a reactionary in Castro's Cuba, etc.).

No dude, life for normal people in Cuba was definitely bad...

Great little essay. It is something I think about often, some people live longer if less free, maybe if we locked people up we could increase length of life but that is not good.

I suspect your average violent prisoner with a long prison sentence (20+ years) has a longer life expectancy than a person with a similar person not in prison.

There were ice cream in the USSR, the best in the world according to some accounts. But not even alice cream in the world will ever be worthy of Freedom.

* was

The formulation of who/what is 'normal' is so simple it can just be thrown around, but if you dive into how people decided it I bet they get mad defensive. Many an embedded assumption I'm sure, the certainty that one belongs in the normal group must be very reassuring.

In the New Trumpist America the subversive groups are the Cucks and Beta Males which spells big trouble for the majority of this blog's readership

6. There are many paths: http://ikhras.com/fake-activist-exposed-the-real-linda-sarsour/

#7. I appreciate that Picketty acknowledges "On one hand, the present weakness of employment in France implies that the estimates of productivity indicated above are doubtless over-optimistic because the people excluded from the labour market are often the least well qualified."
However he assumes this "left-tail" of workers would have productivity 30% less than average.
It seems obvious that higher minimum wage laws, and really most labor laws, will increase labor productivity through selection effects, as less productive workers are excluded. Does anyone know of estimates of how the marginal unemployed are "pulled" from the distribution of labor productivity? That is, if there is a 1% increase in unemployment, does 50% of that come from the lowest quartile of productivity, with only 5% from the top quarter? And how does that change moving from an unemployment rate of 2-3% vs 5-6%? Without this type of adjustment it the metric of GDP per hours worked seems to give credit to economies that exclude people from the formal economy. If you were to look at third world countries where only the upper class are counted in federal employment statistics/formal employment, and everyone else is barely subsisting, you get a rosy picture BECAUSE people are excluded.

It also seems obviously important to adjust for demographic distribution, but how to address working age people vs retired folks who are spending down their wealth is not obvious to me.

I think the story goes beyond France sidelining low productivity workers via unemployment. As Bill Lewis notes in his book The Power of Productivity, France also lacks some low productivity jobs that exist in the US such as baggers at the supermarket. Remove low productivity people from the workforce and low productivity jobs and the numbers for GDP/hour worked skew upwards.

Since work hours per week go down, lot's of low productivity jobs do not exist such as childcare or home cleaning. Only the very rich pay for that.

>I am always happy to see actual analysis of the Trump administration.

And yet this is what you call actual analysis:

"In short, I suspect Steve Bannon is going to fail to corral the peripatetic brain of Donald Trump."

This is why your side lost the election. Keep it up!

Brooks has a low opinion of Trump. What a surprise.

Brooks is the consummate Cuckservative - why is ANYONE still listening to him?! Tyler is obviously STILL butthurt over the Trump win.

The problem is not that he has a low opinion on Trump. The problem is that he keeps issuin apocalyptic predictions again and again. His latest (that I know of): "Trump will almost certainly either resign or be impeached during his first year in office". We'll see. My prediction is that one of the most important impacts on popular culature and mass medial that the past election outcome will have is to expose bafoons such as Brooks.

To what end? If this process produced more intelligent pundits who produced more accurate predictions and analysis that conforms to the facts I'd be game to hear how. Instead 3 years from now some things I don't think we'll be hearing:

* Gee Hillary Clinton was a lot more sick than she let on!
* OMG, look at all these emails the administration declassified proving that the CIA, FBI, Justice Dept. etc. were keeping people from prosecuting Clinton, Obama, Biden, Gore, etc.
* Good thing jobs data was 'un-rigged'. Now we know exactly how many unemployed people there are!

None of this stuff will happen but not a single Trump partisan who spent their lives parroting those lines will be dismissed as buffoons.

That's true. Because the Right Wing media controls the narrative. So it can constantly distract the viewer with new Right Wing narratives when, inevitably, the old ones are proven to be false. The NYT and other supposedly Left of Center media publish tons of Right Wing media pundits, because of their desire to show "both sides" of every issue-- both the lies and the truth, that is. That way, viewers can find "the middle" viewpoint, which is to believe only half of the Right Wing lies that are being told, while half believing the truth also.

"* Gee Hillary Clinton was a lot more sick than she let on! "

Even through the filter of the television camera and make-up applied with a trowel Mrs. Bill Clinton hardly gave the impression of a vigorous, healthy individual, besides being past normal retirement age. It's certainly a legitimate concern that whoever holds elective office be physically healthy enough to perform the required duties. Sick people have trouble concentrating on the work at hand. That's why many jobs have a sick leave provision.


Valid concern? Sure from a generic stance sure. That wasn't the charge made, the charge made that she was specifically a lot sicker and weaker than she was letting on. For example, one site I follow published a very detailed argument she is suffering from late state Parkinson's.

OK so we have a valid test of that. If she has a serious, incurable or treatable illness that rendered her unable to do the job we'll hear about it over the next 4 years. If we don't then that demonstrate the assertion was false as clearly as if Trump doesn't resign or get impeached that will demonstrate Brooks is wrong.

But will we hear any coming to terms with those who pushed this theory? Or instead will it be recast the way the Birth Certificate fiasco was recast as 'getting to the bottom of it'?

Why is this coming up? Is she going to announce some disease that will take her? Must blame Republicans!

The opposite, there won't be any surprise disease. Just like there won't be any charges or convictions for what people claimed was obvious criminal activity.

On one side liberals are held to an ultra high standard. Let a single prediction fail to pan out perfectly and all hell will be paid. On the other side 'truth' is manufactured fresh each day without ever verifying whether any of it stands up.

" “Trump will almost certainly either resign or be impeached during his first year in office”."

That "almost" covers a lot of territory.

He is certainly not going to resign, not within a year, not ever. He loves, loves, loves being the center of the universe and would never willingly give it up prematurely.

I had hoped he would quit after getting bored and annoyed by the minutiae of the job, maybe after 2 years. But I think you're right he likes the spotlight too much. I'm still not sure if he'll run again, at age 74, risking failure, after having already proven he's a big winner, and accomplished lowering his own taxes.

I don't know if he will run again. He can retire as undefeated champ by not running but if he doesn't he will have to share the spotlight with somebody.

Not sure which way his ego will go.

What do you mean share the spotlight if he doesn't run? He just walks away undefeated like you said. He's not sharing anything, let some other guy fight for it. He'll always have a spotlight as an ex-president, the biggest one in history because he's Trump. I don't think he runs again, but maybe his ego says 'gotta do it again to really prove it'. So much pathology.

Sharing the spotlight during the last year while the campaign is on.

I feel odd saying this, but I think you both might be too cynical. It is genuinely possible that Trump believes he will be doing what is best for the country, and that he is the best person to do the job, and thus that he will be motivated to run for a second term as continued "Public Service." He likely already conceptualizes his campaign and coming first term in the same manner.

If accurate, I wouldn't say this is a delusion peculiar to Trump. I suspect most leaders believe they are doing what is best for The People/Nation/Empire, even the most corrupt. Indeed, perhaps the most corrupt even moreso: they have done so much good and sacrificed so much to do it - don't they deserve a little something extra for their efforts?

I strongly suspect the only leaders who don't feel this way are the incredibly rare hereditary monarchs who see no way not to go on and figures like Pietro de Morone (aka Celestine V) who were genuinely forced into the Papacy and resigned within months, but then he died in prison.

I can't read any more David Brooks because I've already reached my lifetime limit on exposure to his special brand of sophisticated stupidity (IYI in Taleb parlance). Let me guess - Trump fails the trouser test?

"Nobody reads the Bible more than me," Trump declared ahead of his third consecutive win in the GOP primary in the Nevada caucuses."

Yes. I have a very low opinion of a man who can state such absurd bullshit with a straight face, knowing the opposite is more likely the truth. I'm not sure how to compete against people who elected Joe Isuzu.

I can easily understand why people voted against HRC. I cannot understand feeling anything but regret in having to vote for Donald Trump. I don't know Donald Trump. I acknowledge that he might turn out to be a better President than I currently expect him to be. I said in September that he'd likely be business as usual for a GOP President. But the thought of future candidates running campaigns such as his is something I cannot accept easily. Therefore, I will continue to say that Donald Trump ran a campaign filled with prevarications and insults and a lack of decency and class. I hope his administration won't be run in a similar manner.

So you are hoping he changes into a different person once he enters office? Well, I guess a lot of people are hoping that.

I'm hoping he will govern differently than he campaigned, and that people will not emulate his campaign.

Kind of a no-win case for the US. If Trump ends up being a good President, that reinforces the idea that truth, even going through the motions of trying to look truthful, doesn't matter in a political campaign.

# 2 Send not to know. For whom the boll tolls, It tolls for thee.

#7 LOL "French and German productivity is at the highest world level" LOL....what a fool

He defines productivity as GDP per hours worked and then uses data to support his claim. Fools are the people who do neither but still think other people care about their opinion.

Joan, by the way, is that the standard definition of productivity in English? In French, on the contrary, "productivité" is "GDP per worker" and "rendement" is "GDP per hour".

The French are cucks!

It is the definition used by the BLS

Most credible sources put German productivity at about 70% of US productivity, French is about 60%.

Cliff: Nonsense! This OECD chart for 2014 (http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/industry-and-services/oecd-compendium-of-productivity-indicators-2016/labour-productivity_pdtvy-2016-8-en#.WHV_JGVSikg#page2) has Germany as $64 per hour, France as $65, US at $67. The US is number 4 after Luxembourg, Norway and Belgium, France number 7, Germany number 8.

Anyway, if you believe the GDP per capita figures, at both PP and current exchange rates, US GDP per capita is about 25% higher than France. This is completely explained away already by the fact that more people cork by capita in the US than in France: (1) as USA is younger, there is a larger proportion of people between 15 and 70, who can work. (2) The active population represents a larger part of the population that has the right age in the US than in France (this point is a little bit tricky: this is not true for prime-age anymore, but it the US more young people and more senior works -- unemployment is massive in France for youngsters and for people more than 55 years, and also retirement is earlier). (3) among the active population, there are less jobless people in the US (4.8%) than in France (around 10%). Thus even if you don't quantify (1), (2) and (3), you see that the difference in productivity between the US and France has to be much less than the 25% difference in GDP per capita. It is actually about 3 or 4%.

#2c: Trump will find he likes hanging around the global establishment the way he liked having the Clintons at his wedding.

That assumes the Davos set will tolerate Trump. It'll be a career limiting move in some foreign policy circles to be seen as being friendly with a Trump Administration after the border fence/wall starts going up, so the people who will be fighting for Trump's attention will likely consist of unrepentant neocons and the populist ethno-nationalists. Not sure I'd bet on the former. To the extent that these people represent "established institutions," as Brooks describes them, wasn't one of the lessons of 2016 that these once authoritative instutions have proven weaker than we realized? Regardless, I'm rooting for the ethno-nationalists. The Samantha Powers' and the Paul Wolfowitz's can all go sit on a knife.

Some people root for the ethno-nationalists, and on the same day some people are shocked that a women's movement would have ethno-concerns.

The latter actually supports the views of the former, but I wouldn't expect you to notice something obvious like that.

Imagine yourself an alien crab species, spying on earth. Wouldn't you actually see many groups vying for power using ingroup and outgroup narratives?

You get partial credit for seeing that "ethno-nationalists" are in a tug-of war, but a fail for thinking that "the other side" is the only other perspective.

I think we're talking about two different things, but I don't care to actually figure out what you're trying to say because it's likely just as tedious as everything else you spam the comments with around here.

Translation: tedious = doesn't agree with me

Darn, I wasn't supposed to mention our species or our mission.

"some people are shocked that a women’s movement would have ethno-concerns."

Why would we be shocked? We expect that kind of crap. The people who are shocked are those like Tyler Cowen*, those who tell themselves the Jeremiah Wrights and Andrea Dworkins of the Left are the radical fringe rather of liberalism rather than it's ideological core.

*Or at least his public persona.

If you do have to divide things into two sides, how about this rule: The more inclusive one wins.

In 6 we see people becoming silly and strident and ultimately risking inclusion as they pursue inclusion, which is sad, but at least they are looking for inclusion.

Maybe you can explain the case for inclusion among "white nationalists?"

I don't think there is a good reason to believe that the more inclusive side always wins, particularly at increasing levels of inclusiveness and with decreasing penalties for non-inclusiveness.

I think that, given a certain state of the world, there is an optimal level of possible inclusiveness, that a given culture will usually be at a certain temporary equilibrium point at a given distance from that optimum, and that a given culture can remain coherent across a certain range of inclusiveness which may or may not include that optimum.

The more inclusive side seems to have mostly won over the past 500 or so years of human history. I think the incremental benefits to greater inclusiveness have decreased (we've picked the low-hanging inclusiveness fruit), and I think the the penalty for non-inclusiveness is lower (you probably won't be conquered, with many of your men killed and your women and wealth taken by the more-inclusive victory). Indeed, within modern societies, aren't the highest birthrates usually within the more exclusionary/exclusive subgroups?

This goes back to arch vs spandrel. Some axis of inclusion strengthen the group, some do not.

It is at a minimum wasted energy to guard against positive gains.

But, the power of the outgroup framing, the reapplied fear of the unknown, is strong.

I have a different rule, when you have two sides, the one which is telling the truth wins.

"Inclusion" is the new Leftist mantra, replacing the old "Diversity." What you see in 6. is what always happens with Diversity, the Diverse groups don't like one another and feud with one another over power.

I'm a regular nationalist, not a white nationalist, alt-lite rather than alt-right. We of course don't have a "case for inclusion" because unlike the cuckservatives we don't play on your battlefield. That's why you find the need to concern troll as a "center-right" character.

Telling the truth, eh?

Were you telling the truth when you said the left invented inclusion?

Statue Of Liberty, anybody?

Note that I regard myself as a moderate pragmatist, and I like the inclusion my dad taught just fine. A 1950s vision.

Bad Day at Black Rock


Really? Who will be removing the plaque, (((Jared Kushner)))? (((Ivanka Trump)))? (((Jesus Christ)))?

Lol, he starts with "inclusion is new" and ends with "we'll be removing the (((Jewish))) plaque" from the Statue Of Liberty.

Just wow.

FWIW, that is not what Spencer Tracy was shooting for in 1955.

"Really? Who will be removing the plaque, (((Jared Kushner)))? (((Ivanka Trump)))? (((Jesus Christ)))?"

I'm not opposed to all Jews. The ((())) is merely a signifyer, a tool to understand history.

Wait the ((())) thing means you are 'opposed' to Jews? Why?

"once authoritative institutions have proven weaker than we realized"

Some have. And some have proven far far stronger. The Right Wing propaganda media, beholden to Right Wing donors to Congress, is far far stronger than anyone realized. Right Wing media propaganda has harnessed the strongest force, the force of hatred, which is stronger than love in most humans, to give the GOP establishment control of both Houses of Congress, the presidency, SCOTUS, most governorships, and most state legislatures. The Right Wing media focuses on liberal bashing and liberal demonizing constantly.

Propagandists don't have to offer a mark anything constructive. Propagandists just have to convince the mark that their political opponents are evil. The fear of the Great Evil drives the voter to the polls to vote for the supposed lesser of the evils.

It is not actually a problem in the least that the president elected with an R behind his name, doesn't have any allegiance to anyone besides himself, and has a tiny attention span. It's a feature, not a bug. Trump was simply the Trojan horse that Pence rode into the White House on. Trump, having zero impulse control or self discipline, will likely be impeached or somehow deactivated very shortly. And Pence, the Right Wing establishment guy, will have total or almost total control.

Your tinfoil hat needs some adjustment. Pence is just an underling for Dick Cheney.

Didn't pundits predict a similar outcome when crazy Andrew Jackson was elected president with John C. Calhoun as his running mate?

2b. According to this understanding of authoritarianism, America under FDR and during some other periods was an authoritarian society.

Even for whites, you mean?

I would be curious if the author thought of state enforced segregation as a sign of an authoritarian society.

6. "Darwinian" is an interesting nudge. Ingroup and outgroup identities are definitely about social cohesion, and social power, in a social species. In terms of how they play out today, I think it is a real question of arch or spandrel.

2c. "The result may be a million astounding tweets, but substantively no fundamental strategic shift — not terrible policy-making, but not good policy-making, either."

We can hope that, but there is a difference between wishes and fishes. And again, there is a danger here that too many wishes will add up as silent endorsement of bad policy.

Yes, too many wishes and too much positive thinking. Give him a chance. Hope for the best. That type of stuff. Well, okay give him a chance. But we should notice and protest immediately if Congress and/or the pres start to enact disastrous policies.

We need to stay alert for this. Citizens already have one victory there, in jamming Congressional phone lines, with demands that the house of Reps proposal to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence, be stopped. But it's probably only been postponed. So even that battle is not done yet.

"gut the Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence"

Big deal.

Discipline is actually determined by the leadership/members, not this organization that did not even exist until 8 years ago. The Senate has no such office.

This is a perfect example of partisanship. Imagine Bob's post if the Dems had tried the exact same thing.

It was created 8 years ago because several members of Congress were implicated in scandals that later sent them to prison. Maybe we can dismantle this institution if the House can go 10 years without seeing a member convicted of a felony.

The Ethics Office has nothing to do with prosecuting felonies. That is the Justice Department. It policies violations of House rules.

Paul Ryan and Donald Trump both were against getting rid of it. I, on the other hand, don't care either way.

Keep it, kill it, its meaningless. Congrats on the big victory.

Trump was only against getting rid of it, after the public outcry against getting rid of it.


The people involved are reputable researchers.

With Go, followed by heads-up no-limit hold'em, it's been a rough year or so for humans. AlphaGo primed me to expect surprises.

Surely in a lab somewhere, by now, there's a program called DeepWOPR playing practice games of Global Thermonuclear War. Don't tell it that the launch code is CPE1704TKS.

I'll bet Obama's failure-well speech will be a classic. Maybe I'll watch it on MSNBC for the full comedic effect.

Ha ha! You took the word 'farewell' but then made it into a word that sounds a little like it, including the word 'failure', because Obama is such a failure! LOLOLOLOLOL, take that Barack HUSSEIN Obama! Oh man what a sick burn.

Maybe he'll do his signature mic drop at the end. That drives the celebs and journalists wild!

Right? You really have that loser pegged. Barack Obama? More like Barack OBUMMER!

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

We're doing movie quotes now?

Live long and prosper.

OK, now you go.

It's only being polite. Many GOP-ers need to hear two words from Barack Hussein Obama, "You're welcome!" Alternatively, 63 new GOP House Representatives, 10 new GOP Senators and 14 new GOP governors are remiss and need to say. "Thank you! Way to go, Barry!"

"Sounds about right for a president who bombed 7 nations and became the first in U.S. history to be at war every single day of his eight year administration..." Ron Paul on Obama.

Obama is threatening to lead "The Resistance" against the GOP.

Unfortunately for the GOP, he lacks the patience to do so.

Yeah, too bad he doesn't have the patience of a guy like Trump.

"too bad he doesn’t have the patience of a guy like Trump."

Trump is a celebrity president just like Obama. Trump has his tweets, Obama his NCAA brackets, golfing and going on cool TV shows.

Yeah, Trump never golfs or goes on TV. All that stops now.

Point being, at least be consistent. If it's bad for the goose why isn't it bad for the gander?

"If it’s bad for the goose why isn’t it bad for the gander?"

Who said otherwise?

Obama was very effective at selling himself, re-elected and leaving with good poll numbers. He was a disaster for his party in part because he only sold himself.

Trump will likely have the same effect.

This comment oozes sexual frustration.

I guess so, I'm still a virgin. You don't have to be mean about it.

U mad, bro?

Mad? No way, I'm just giving props to Rich for his sweet takedown of Obummer. That stuff is comedy gold.

You'll find this to be hilarious too:



Ah, kings you little bitch, all you have are mockery and libel. A true mediocrity.

While you clearly have wit and careful argument LOL. You just handed me victory, son.

Liberal bashing 24/7/365 is required here, as on most political or economic Internet sites.

Is that what Republicans plan to do with all their power? Bash liberals for the next 4 years. We'll see how that works out when Republicans have all the power, and the voters expect them to actually do something constructive, rather than simply bash liberals.

Criticizing is easy. Governing is hard.

"Governing is hard."

Agreed, that is why Obama failed at it. He never has liked to work hard.

Wait a year or two. You and plenty of others will be feeling nostalgia for Obama.

"Criticizing is easy. Governing is hard."

This is certainly true.

#2 "That is, the mental image of authoritarian rule in the minds of most Americans is completely unrealistic, and dangerously so" I would counter that the author is dangerously naive about the downsides of authoritarian rule, and I'm sure that I don't need to remind an economist of the differences between an individual outcome and the average one. But hey, hats off to his perfect, boring regime; I hope he doesn't have cause to change his beliefs radically in the future.

He's just doing some positive thinking, a great American tradition. Of course, positive thinking can be very unrealistic, when huuuuge problems are staring you in the face and you just ignore them.

6: Intersectionality always seems like a great idea until you realize that the people calling for it actually expect you to take their concerns seriously.

One source of Trump support in the Republican debate was his repudiation of the Iraq war, and maybe by association the dozen or so other wars, invasions, interventions, bombing campaigns, etc. that we have going on at any given time. I fear Brooks is right that we will see a tug of war between globalist Great Game playing and some kind of Christendom vs Islam Great Game playing. But I wish we would get some actual skepticism about our next couple dozen violent foreign interventions.

I've seen a claim that O dropped an average of 70 bombs a day in 2016. Since the figure didn't come from Wikileaks can I trust it?
I suppose Trump could claim that his bomb-dropping will be more effective.

Anyway, to be not-W, not-O, and not-Hellary proved to be a successful stance.

Didn't work for any of the other people running though.

Trump won the primary for a number of reasons, one of which was because he surpassed others at hatred of people whom voters hated. He claimed Obama wasn't born in the U.S. until such time as he felt he could let go of that narrative. He did come out against Bush's Iraq War which voters would approve of if it happened again. but since it is past now, they can let themselves admit that it was a disaster. And he harnessed the Clinton hatred that has been so successfully spread by Right Wing media for literally decades, encouraging the "Lock her up" chant. No other primary contender held a candle to him at hatred and bullying.

Trump is even more expert than Right Wing media is at hatred. Bullying and hatred look like strength, in the eyes of weak or discouraged people who would like to be strong. In addition, DT has the Magic Charisma Combination of qualities that Americans worship: a macho alpha male type (supposedly-- The guy couldn't actually survive in the wilderness alone for 24 hours), a billionaire (supposedly-- We haven't seen his tax returns), a supposedly successful business man, a reality TV star, and a politically incorrect "rich white trash" person whom lots of people love and want to imitate.

People want to follow in his footsteps and be all of that too. They especially want to be "rich white trash" if they are currently considered "poor white trash" or "middle class white trash." That is, they want to remain ignorant, crude, mean spirited, perhaps racist, perhaps deplorable, and become rich-- which makes everyone think you are perfect, no matter how you act. DT's election is the ultimate proof that wealth conquers all-- that you can act any way you want, toward anyone you want, if you are wealthy enough, and people will still think you are perfect-- or at least act as if you are. Because you have the power. Money is power.

Trump's supporters keep supporting him, no matter what he says or does. By his own admission, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still retain their support. So when, not if, he gets into some wars, his supporters will easily change their mind. Since his supporters won the election, even if they did it by election machine fraud plus much help from Putin, Assange, and Comey, everyone is kneeling to the Man with the Power, and assuming that he is great, or at least not terrible, now. Time will tell.

There's no doubt that anything Team Red does now will be supported by Team Red, even if it was something they attacked when Team Blue did it. But both sides do exactly this.

Not to the same extent. False equivalence there. Dems didn't waste tons of taxpayer money on pointless hearings, like with Benghazi, or ever impeach a GOP president over consensual sex.

The GOP representatives did not impeach Bill Clinton over consensual sex but over lying under oath. From the wikipedia article: "The impeachment of Bill Clinton was initiated by the House of Representatives on December 19, 1998, against Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, on two charges, one of perjury and one of obstruction of justice." You really deserve your pseudo.

And if you don't see the difference, think that some people, like me, may approve of Bill Clinton having consensual sex in the oval office (actually I read the report at the time and it was so cute I was literally melting of sympathy for
Bill and Monica), but disapprove of his lying under oath.

It's too bad the culture hadn't quite gotten to the point where Clinton could have just admitted it. At least Trump has blown that hypocrisy away. Future candidates and presidents will be able to grab anyone's wherever and not have to cover it up.

"Dems didn’t waste tons of taxpayer money on pointless hearings"

What, were the hearings being catered by Wolfgang Puck? Did they fly everybody out to Honolulu for them? Wasn't everyone at those hearings already on the government payroll? Or was there a battalion of high-rent ambulance chasers jockeying with media types for seats in the hearing room? Maybe those in attendance at the hearings would have been doing something else more important, like meeting with steel company lobbyists to raise tariffs or requiring every state to have the same info on its driver licenses.

Benghazi Investigation Spends Fortune to Harass Hillary Clinton
The Benghazi Select Committee moves slowly but spends quickly, exceeding the budget of the entire House Intelligence Committee


Per the link: "Currently the State Department has 12 full-time staff members paid between $63,700 and $150,000 reviewing Hillary Clinton’s emails “a process that could cost more than $1 million” according to the National Journal."

That must mean that these staff members were hired for this particular project and weren't State Department employees prior to the investigation. It also means that these staff members will be made redundant after the hearings have been completed and leave the State Department, right? We all know that's not the case.

I sense some irony in your second and third sentences, but I agree with their literal meaning. Trump really did a great service to an open and post-puritan society. Let us recall that grabbing a woman anywhere (even if you're not married with her) is perfectly legal in all 50 states, provided that the said woman agrees (and of course the same holds if the woman is replaced by a man). That's just consensual sex. In these fictional grabbings extracted from Trump's random small talk with a friend, the women were more than willing. But "perfectly legal" does not mean "without stigma", and perhaps Trump (and the WaPo) has unwillingly done something to reduce that stigma.

last comment was a reply to msgkings, sorry.

@Joel: no, I was being direct. I'm glad the culture has moved on from making Clinton lie about smoking weed and banging interns to allowing Obama a drug-using past and letting libertines like Trump be president openly. There's probably a few talented people out there who have shied away from running because of 'skeletons' like this in their closets, maybe now they will say what the heck.

How much did the investigation into Scooter Libby cost? Spending a year or two trying to convict a guy that the prosecutor knew was innocent. He even knew the person who outed Plame, but did nothing because 'outing' Plame wasn't even a crime.

Trump hates warmongers, but wants to destroy our enemies.

We get to see which actually takes precedence.

4: I'm skeptical of the results here, the margin they are claiming to have won by seems unreasonably large. I suspect that a lot of the pros were not properly motivated to perform at a reasonably high level.

I would have been much more curious to see how the AI performs against the general population of online HU poker players. They could have tested this with far less money than the ~$9,000 prize money used here.

AIs have been beating humans at HU limit poker on the poker sites for quite a while now. I haven't followed the forums enough to know if they've been discovered beating HU NL as well, but ever since PokerSnowie showed up I've just assumed I'd be playing endless versions of PokerSnowie if I ventured back online, and PokerSnowy is solid.

The authors claim that the AI won 49.2bb/100. This is a ridiculously high win rate, but is reasonably achievable if we assume the AI just got very lucky and/or the pros were not really trying very hard. They later claim that they have some method to evaluate true "performance" which should remove the impact of luck, and that the AI's actual "performance" over the pros warranted a winrate of 48.6bb/100. I don't really understand how this works, but any process which concludes the AI should be winning against pros at a rate about 10x more than the best human without the aid of luck/variance is almost certainly flawed.

I think it's possible the pros were simply not trying and/or were playing in an unusual way in order to maximize their chance of winning the prizes with the minimal amount of effort possible. The vast majority of the participants did not play anywhere close to the 3,000 hand that the researchers wanted them to, and yet the data was still included it seems. It wouldn't surprise me if many of the pros decided the most effective strategy was to try and do something crazy/unprofitable to try and run up a big win early on in the contest, and simply decided to abandon the project entirely when this failed.

11 pros did complete 3k hands, and not a single pro beat the AI.

That list of economic history books is great. Is there a consensus view, or consensus set of arguments, on the Malthusian economics view. Has Gregory Clark weighed in on the Malthusian side?

I'm not sure I'd call this a consensus view but lots of historians now believe that the development of agriculture created a baseline standard of living that was a long-run equilibrium. In many times and in many places, there would be an efflorescence: new inventions, increased trade, a long period of peace after a war. The standard of living went up. This would lead to population increase, which would lower agricultural production per worker. This would eventually lower the standard of living to the equilibrium and often also decrease the population. (Ironically, major wars and epidemics often helped the people who survived because they now had more land to work and could produce more.)

This is sometimes called a Malthusian trap and nobody really climbed out of it before the Dutch in the 17th century and the English in the 18th. Technology has increased faster than population in the "developed" world. And the "demographic transition" has led to a relatively stable (maybe even decreasing) population there.

A nice little book is Jack Goldstone's Why Europe? The Rise of the West in World History, 1500-1850(2009).

'Why Europe...' If this book--or any along the same vein--doesn't devote a section on potatoes, then consider it incomplete. Shorter Why Europe?: The exchange of biology--micro, flora and fauna, and people between Europe and the Americas.

Also to this: resources in the Americas...after disease in the native populations gave unimpeded access to it.

There was also exchange between Asia and Africa and the Americas. Check out Charles C. Mann's 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (2011), a follow-up to his amazingly good 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2006).

The literal decimation of the native population of the Americas made it much easier for settlers. Alas, deportation and (partial or complete) extermination of populations is not unique to the Americas post-Columbus. It is tragically common in history. It doesn't get you out of the Malthusian trap.

Trump's opponents are as nuts as he is. I'm not feeling very optimistic about the future of politics in this country.

Considering the recent past I think you have lots of company.

Shall I call the wambulance? Politics is 0 sum, are you not feeling optimistic that your toady school class president will be doling out the treats? I recommend a nice long march in Washington, for something or other.

Are you kidding? I ain't taking no wambulance out of my fortified bunker safe space. I've got every season of Girls all cued up and as much kombucha as I can drink. My husband and I are going to hire an African-American lesbian to bear us two kids, one from his seed and one from mine. We'll abort those because that's just something we do for sport, then have two more. We can destroy America just as easily from here.

For fear of being (reasonably) censored, I will refrain from making an incredibly offensive comment. I will, however, leave the comment to your imagination.

Mmmmm, that sounds delicious. I have a really fertile imagination.

You aren't very good at satire. It's kind of one of those a little bit of sexual frustration creates an edge which makes you funnier too much sexual frustration and it probally means you have a personality disorder which precludes you from being funny. Maybe you and Nathan could spoon or something to get your groove back.

That's very hurtful, Sam. You are a proven master of wit and satire here and I only wish to reach a small approximation of your talent. Can I subscribe to your newsletter?

All of this oddly sexual bickering has left me confusingly-yet-fully erect.

False equivalence here. Wait a year or 2. I predict you, and everyone almost, will become extremely nostalgic for Obama.

As an opponent of Trump, like Obama, I am expecting him to deliver a health care system that provides better care to far more people than Obamacare, pays doctors and hospitals more so they are happy about the lack of regulations and rules, and that requires not taxes or insurance premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays, no waits or delays, no rationing of care, and let's everyone pick any doctor or hospital no matter how much they charge will no added cost to the patient.

I also look forward to Trump ending all terrorism, all wars, without any taxes nor Americans dying in any military action, simply because Trump says "STOP IT".

I also look forward to a million jobs drilling and fracking in the US on private land so there is no hint of crony capitalism, and gasoline costing 25 cents a gallon like it did when America was Great! back in 1969.

I look forward to a trillion dollars in wages paid fixing infrastructure without any increase in taxes, fees, tolls, and absolutely no taking of private property or harm of any sort suffered by anyone.

I expect Trump to fix everything for free. He promised the HE ALONE CAN FIX IT so that means it will cost me nothing for everything being made terrific by Trump.

You're as subtle as Meryl Streep and clever as Trevor Noah, keep it up! At what point in your day do you decide that it's time to stop slaving over the keyboard at your marginal job for that marginal government agency and start reading the comments here? To preempt your evasion of the question with another question, for me, it happens between noon and 7 PM depending on what rent-seeking task my overlords are demanding.

Wow, Mulp has obviously made some great points, since you can only respond with an ad hominem argument instead of a real one.

2: How bad is authoritarianism?

The author writes: "Most Americans conceptualize a hypothetical end of American democracy in Apocalyptic terms. But actually, you usually learn that you are no longer living in a democracy not because The Government Is Taking Away Your Rights, or passing laws that you oppose, or because there is a coup or a quisling. You know that you are no longer living in a democracy because the elections in which you are participating no longer can yield political change."

But the recent election showed that significant political change can happen! Even if there isn't a physical wall, clearly some kind of "wall" will be built: by which I mean that fairly unfettered immigration will cease or at least drop. Crude restrictions on entrepreneurship will be lifted. China won't be coddled. BLM can and will be criticized, even obliquely, and even by centrist bloggers. And so on.

Authoritarian moves -- such as the attempt by Donna Brazile to affect the outcome of the election by passing on debate questions -- are sometimes thwarted.

We don't have fairly unfettered immigration to begin with. That was just a Right Wing story made up to get votes through hatred of The Other, to frighten voters who seldom interact with immigrants, because there are so few of them.

The Right does tons more authoritarian things than the Left does. It's just that the dominant Right Wing media doesn't inform people about Right Wing authoritarian moves.

While Right Wing propagandists have been spending their time bashing liberals and accusing them of “fake news” whenever they tell a truth that is not convenient for the Right Wing, the Right Wing Congress has been trying to make it easier for themselves to get away with corruption.

“Monday (Jan. 2nd) House Republicans voted in favor of Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) proposal to gut Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence. The proposal would have placed the OCE under the control of the House Ethics Committee . The proposal removed the OCE’s ability to accept or investigate any anonymous reports of alleged wrongdoing by members of Congress; barred the panel from reviewing any violation of criminal law by members of Congress, requiring it be turned over to law enforcement; gave the House Ethics Committee the power to stop any investigation at any point; and barred the ethics office from making any public statements about any investigations.”


This proposal was stopped, or actually only postponed, after the outraged public– that is, Democrats only, because everyone else is too busy bashing liberals 24/7/365– jammed Congressional phone lines demanding that it be stopped.

This is what the Republican party is like. The Dem party isn’t perfect. But the Republican party is the one that has all the power right now, and is using it to try to enrich themselves and destroy the nation. While the Right Wing Congress does this, the Right Wing press keeps people constantly focused on liberal bashing.

You forgot to say false equivalence. Go back and write it again.

Thanks for proving I am right, by having no counter-arguments you can make whatsoever. All you can do is to tell me to say something I said on a previous thread, in addition.

That does not prove you are right. What are you, twelve?

(((2.))) I think now is a good time to remind you guys of this:


Re 6, I think somehow a page from Lionel Shriver's "The Mandibles" ended up in the NYT.

" And how bad is authoritarianism really? And David Brooks on Bannon vs. Trump,"

Placing those two together looks a lot like Tyler trying for a meta reading.

It's called juxtarandomness

And what is meta reading behind 6? "Darwinian processes?"

#6 Black women are stuck in their own victimhood narrative. They could not point at their own lack of achievement or bad choices having children with deadbeat men, it has to be white privilege that's the problem. Somehow white privilege isn't holding back Asian Americans. What about black privilege. African Americans get a 230 point bonus on Princeton application evaluations, Hispanics 185, Whites zero, Asian Americans -50.


Yep. It's a pretty sweet deal to be black in this country. I'm jealous.

You're right, much sweeter than being black in Africa

No I meant sweeter than being white in America, as your Princeton datum shows. All that black privilege.

Hey, black women were critical to the moon race and got their own car in the ticker tape parades right behind the car with the man or men in the can.

I take umbrage with this line of argument because I think it's a false dichotomy to look at the relative status of black and white Americans. It's analogous to looking at the status of Jewish and Arab Israelis and chalking up the difference to institutionalized racism. The more important comparison, in the case of Israel, is to look at the relative status of Jordanians and Arab Israelis. I don't think any reasonable person could argue that Israel has had a negative economic impact on Jordanians, yet Arab Israelis are much better off than there Jordanian counterparts. The question is then "what would there lives be like if Jews never settled in British Palestine?", and I think the Jordanians give a MUCH better proxy than the Jewish Israelis do (read George Gilder's "Israel Test" or the soil conservationist Walter Lowdermilk to see what British Palestine was like before the Jews came). In the same vain, I think stephan makes a very fair point, and I'd argue that the more important comparison is between black Americans and black Africans.

OK you take that umbrage and let black people worry about all the shit they have to deal with being black in the US. It's not a picnic.

I have seen black people picnicking in the US.

I think it depends on your familial income level and individual aptitude. You're probably better off being a 125 IQ, middle or upper middle class black guy than white guy, and better off being a 90 IQ, lower class white guy than black guy. There are more combinations of familial income and aptitude where I think you are better off as a white guy than a black guy. But I think most of the people who talk a lot about the issue come from those combinations where it is arguably more beneficial to be black than white given otherwise similar characteristics.

Not so sure about that, ask the black guys you know (if you know any, which is part of the point). No matter how smart you are, if you are black you will be prejudged a certain way, you will feel like an outsider in your own birthplace, you might even get arrested trying to get into your own house or shot while running away from a cop, etc. There are things like affirmative action set up to try to help here but most blacks would probably prefer to be white, and most (all?) whites would prefer not to be black.

That said, I wish affirmative action was more income or wealth based than race based.

'That said, I wish affirmative action was more income or wealth based than race based.'

No you don't.

I don't think that's a question where you could expect to elicit genuine responses, and I don't know of a way to actually offer people the ability to opt between black and white. I guess it could be experimentalized: for those who have a relatively small amount of black heritage and "look white," do they choose to identify as black or white? I would predict that among the 125 IQ, middle class background type who are facing college admissions or professional/government hiring decisions, "black" would be a popular choice. Perhaps not so much for the 90 IQ lower class guy (though there are issues of endowment bias, cultural identification, etc. that make it a lot more than a pure economic costs vs. benefits decision).

I think to the extent we are going to have affirmative action, it should be entirely income/wealth based. Due to racial differences in income/wealth distribution, this would still mean that such a program disproportionately benefits the same races that currently benefit from it (though the within-race beneficiaries would change, I think).

At the college/university/professional school level, I think there is little evidence that affirmative action actually benefits its intended beneficiaries or accomplishes its claimed objectives, and believe it should be eliminated in any form. If anything, I think those from disadvantaged backgrounds (whether due to race or socioeconomic status) are better off in the long term going to lower-ranked schools, outperforming their lower-aptitude peers and pursuing more difficult courses of study (which ultimately lead to better careers). I think that at both the individual and the society-wide level, we would be better off if more smart black kids were taking full rides to average state schools and coming out at the top of their class, rather than sending them to struggle as diversity props at more prestigious schools.

@Alain: LOL, you got me. I was spreading fake news about my preferences.

@TV: Good post, I agree with most of it. Just needs to be mentioned here once in a while that it sucks to be black in the US vs being white in the US, and that fact eludes many of the posters. If they would realize that maybe they wouldn't get so triggered by BLM and so on.

Sure, msgkings (I have no idea why but I've always thought of your name in the context of the LA Kings), but I think what I'm pointing out explains some of why you see people here lacking nuance on some of these racial issues. They are probably in that range of socioeconomic status and IQ where being black might arguably be more beneficial than being white (due to affirmative action), and they interpret racial grievances through that lens. They, genuinely, could imagine themselves being better off if everything else about them was the same except their skin color. So they just can't imagine how someone can argue that it can suck to be black.

@TV: Fair enough, but don't lose sight of the fact that while being a smart black person that gets college admission preferences is a nice benefit, it may not make up for all the other problems of being black, in terms of networking, success in sales, treatment by police, exclusion from parts of society, etc. Not sure as many would take the deal as you think.

3): Where is: https://www.amazon.com/How-Rich-Countries-Poor-Stay/dp/1586486683

'Reinert forces you to think. He reaches deep into economic history and the history of economics - the history of theory, practice and policy - creatively synthesizing an evolutionary, institutionalist, new 'canon', putting technological progress and production experience - 'learning by doing' - at the centre of economic development. '
- Jose Antonio Ocampo, UN Undersecretary General for Economic and Social Affairs

'Disinters those awkward truths the free trade theorists wanted dead and buried. Reinert's brilliant forensics rebuild a convincing economic blueprint for tackling world poverty.'
- Alex MacGillvray, author of A Brief History of Globalization

'Erik Reinert's book represents a breakthrough in our understanding of the links between technology and the wealth and poverty of nations.'
- Christopher Freeman, Professor Emeritus, SPRU, University of Sussex

'A fascinating overview of how contemporary economics came to follow its historic path, and of a different route it might have, and may still yet, pursue.'
- Robert Heilbroner, on Reinert's 'The Role of the State in Economic Growth'

They don't teach that trash in grad school, homie.

Greg Mankiw?


You might add the bat$hit craziest thing Trump has done to date: naming junk science peddling, frivolous lawsuit filing, anti-vaxxer hiney-kisser to Hollywood stars Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to chair a vaccine safety panel. Here's a little insight on his thought process: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article17814440.html

I'm sure somebody will say it's just Trump being super sneaky and that his secret plan is for Kennedy to be publicly exposed as an idiot but my rejoinder will be that the raw milk drinking, anti-vaxxing, placenta eating wackos on the Left and on the Right will only see this as the application of a badge of authority to their hare-brained ideas.

Isn't Trump an anti-vaxxer too, hence the appointment of another?

Why not discuss:
Hypothesis: The American voter shares much in common with Chavez's supporters in Venezuela and their beliefs about the place of free markets and government in society are becoming more similar to those Venezuelans. Their tolerance of such awful candidates as Trump or Clinton suggest the decline of civil society, with profound implications for our democracy.
Observation: The late night sessions in both corporate executive suites and non-profit board rooms due to the change in the Executive Branch demonstrates these clowns (that is (in this case) both our elected and appointed government leaders) have far too much arbitrary and discretionary power for a sustainable democracy OR a sustainable (pseudo) free-market.

Clinton was an excellent candidate, as long as you don't believe the lies told about her by fake news.

The problem is that there is too much fake news in the U.S., which made Trump look good, and people believed them. Also, Putin, Assange, Comey, and our easily hackable electronic voting machines each played their part well.

When it comes to fake, BHO is a master. See the numerous fainting spells females succumbed to during both his presidential campaigns: https://youtu.be/yhzkltz3ipI Hopefully there'll be lots of medical personnel available for his going away speech in Chicago, the babes will be dropping like flies.

Disagree. Clinton was corrupt as hell, but she'd never go full Chavez, Goldman Sachs would not like that. As far as free markets go, both candidates were broadly within the range of mainstream American politics. The notable thing that happened was that some conservative pundits were surprised to learn that Republican voters didn't like their extreme* libertarianism. I wasn't surprised.

*in the sense of being unpopular with the American people,

#1 - the lecturer and the lecturer host look a bit unhinged, like they haven't seen the light of day in a while. They need to take course in public speaking. Also optically the logo "ASSA" does not look appealing. The heavy French accent in the woman's delivery is a plus, as people I think assume she must be brilliant (maybe she is, but probably she's just rehashing old clichés of poverty alleviation that were debunked by William Easterly).

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