Wednesday assorted links


yes, the two biggest cities in new jersey aren't actually in new jersey. And very few people live in DC proper. I really dislike these deliberately obtuse stories.

When I meet people and they tell me that they are from New Jersey, I always ask "Philly or New York?" I've only had one "neither" as a response (from someone who worked at Princeton).

But I suppose I would be unlikely to meet its denizens in my current travels, even though I spent some time in my childhood on the NJ coast.

Come, complaining about obtuseness at this comment section is bad form. We should simply accept whatever formulations someone wishes to make, without remarking on it.

And yes, lots of people use 'DC' when referring to the DC metro area, it is not in any way a surprise to anyone who grew up in Northern Virginia. Besides, how would one enter 'inside the Beltway' as a location?

Young professionals in Washington DC very much prefer living in the actual District of Columbia over the NoVa or Maryland suburbs. There's a substantial premium for an apartment in DC itself, and that premium has grown significantly since I moved to the area in 2010. Everyone knows somebody who lives in DC and refuses, on principle, to cross the river into Virginia.

I'm sure this is the exact same phenomenon as New Jersey vs New York, except that DC is much smaller than New York state.

(Full disclosure: I live in a Northern Virginia suburb and list myself as doing so on Facebook.)

4. Here is Cochrane's case for the VAT that's not gated (it's on his blog):

Cochrane is insane to think that every single individual would report every single item they purchased to the government.

With an income tax, all 350 milliom Americans would report at most 3 sources of income. With the progressive VAT, all 350 million would have to report thousands upon thousands of purchases. It would be an administrative nightmare.

Hey, we all did it when we were buying stuff online sales tax free, right? Right???

In his system, people would have the incentive to report their purchases because at the time of purchase, the maximum VAT is paid. If you don't report your purchase, well, then you just pay more taxes. Also everything you pay using a card would be reported automatically.

Cochrane says the tax and refund could be instantaneous, electronically driven. My question: What government computer system that interfaces with the public is instantaneous?

5. I have a dog. I love my dog. She is (almost) the perfect dog. But not everybody loves my dog, so I wouldn't take her to a restaurant, not inside or on the patio, even though I never feed her people food, so she wouldn't beg for a handout off someone's plate. She is a dog, which means that she does what dogs do when they feel the urge to do it. Unlike the polite Michael Corleone, she doesn't ask for permission to go.

#4. Cochrane is so obviously correct. Alas our political system is wholly incapable of disrupting the vested interests benefiting from the status quo. Rather than turning over the keys to the Chinese Communists as Cochrane has suggested maybe we would all improve our contributions to public discourse by rereading our copies of The Uses of Information in Society, pondering the lessons of the principle of subsidiarity, and taking a second to remember what empire building did to humanity in the 19th and 20th centuries, and open our minds to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, absolute power in the hands of remote, unconstrained authorities may not be the best ultimate solution to all the world’s problems.

Leftish, Socialisht, Progressives are always correct... in their own minds.

Thus the requirement for a "progressive tax structure" is self-validating & and a fundamental constant of the universe.

Reality is that all progressive tax systems are unjust. (SJW's take note)

Yeah, Cochrane has made the simple 19% flat tax of Germany and simply 17% flat tax of China into a horrible mess. Trump is correct in calling for a 15% flat tax on businesses by eliminating wasteful tax dodges like wasteful payment of wages and benefits!

Then the US will have the same tax system as China and Germany, but a lower tax rate. Deductions for outsourcing to US businesses, no deductions for outsourcing to non US businesses. And reward selling outside the US by not taxing non US revenue, and taxing only revenue from inside the US. Use the tax revenue to benefit US individuals. Just like China and Germany.

Cochrane is an idiot!

I have been arguing for the tax policy Trump et al have been pronising/calling for.

A 15% tax rate on businesses with the tax base broadened by eliminating tax dodges and deductions!

Eliminate the tax deduction for wastefully paying wages and benefits! Reward outsourcing jobs, but only to American businesses, ie, businesses can deduct the money paid for goods bought and resold made in the US, and for services rendered by American businesses.

But promote cutting pay and benefits by not allowing tax deductions for wages and benefits, including those the income to the business owner for his work. Higher productivity requires paying ALL WORKERS LESS INCLUDING THE BUSINESS OWNERS. If you want less of something, paying workers, tax it! Productivity will be increased! If you want more outsourcing, exempt it from taxes. If you want less of something, buying from non US firms, tax it. If you want more of something, revenue from selling outside the US, exempt it from taxes.

Trump is Correct! We need to adopt the tax system of Germany and China, but at a lower tax rate!

A 15% VAT instead of the 17% VAT of China and 19% VAT of Germany!

This lower tax rate on businesses with fewer wasteful tax dodges will generate more business tax revenues which can be used to cut the tax burden on individuals such as paying the private taxes imposed by health insurance companies - government exempts everyone from the burden of paying for health care and thus eliminating the burden of taxes for not paying taxes to insurance companies. This will promote business productivity increases by eliminating businesses paying worker health benefits.

6. Don't blame males my age (we get blamed for most everything), because the age distribution of mass killers clusters around two ages (average age 23 and average age 41). The author states that these two age clusters couldn't be more different. Au contraire. Age 23 is when a male is starting out on his journey, when the difference between success and failure is for the first time very real, apparent, and painful (in the case of failure). Age 41 is when a male can no longer deceive himself into believing he is a success, as the excuse of just starting out and success is just around the corner is no longer believable, even to the poor sap who everybody knows is a loser.

This is a good comment. The brevity helps.


Who are you, Mr/Ms Censor?

boomer complacency: not using paragraphs

#6 - But sample size was small N=70. Recall you can only at best suggest a Gaussian distribution with error less than about 5% with N >= 30, and even then it's hard to draw conclusions from such a small sample size. It could be the multimodal distribution shown ('twin peaks') is in fact two distinct distributions of N=35 each. That means the conclusions drawn are even more dicey than what the #6 author draws, which to me seem like psychobabble. The fact that Ted Bundy has admirers in prison means there's a lot of sick women out there, that's all, no big evolutionary insights. The so-called fact that 60% of men fail to reproduce is bogus seems to me, I think this author is confusing different concepts like long-term survivorship vs short term reproduction. I once did a computer simulation that confirmed the Pearson distribution and found that most men do reproduce but the probability of your line (genetically) surviving is only much greater than 50% if you have at least five offspring. If you have two kids only, the chances are only (as I recall) 25% that your DNA will 'live forever' (I self-published this on Usenet back in the days it was not all spam). If you believe in your "family surname" surviving forever, to have well over 50% chances of your family name surviving, you have to have at least five sons.

"The so-called fact that 60% of men fail to reproduce is bogus seems to me"

I for one thank you for doing your part to keep the percentage up Ray!

The percentage of men who have children is about 95%.

(citation needed)

Here's one that totally contradicts you:

That's not disagreeing with him, msg. He's talking about 1 generation down the line, that link is talking about hundreds of generations later.

Current census data indicates that about 80% of men reproduce at some point n their lives.
However, genetic research indicates that over human evolutionary history only about 40% of men reproduced.
In other words, men's brains evolved in an environment where their chances of reproducing were a lot lower.

Also wrong. The claim is that 40% of males have surviving lineages, not that only 40% were reproducing 50000 years ago

I agree that the size of the sample is way too small to make any kind of detailed conclusions. It's typical in social sciences, though. Make a study with bad statistics and invent stories around the random fluctuations you find from it. It's just an intellectual's way of seeing the face of Jesus in a toast.

You're making exactly the same point the article's author did. Did you not even skim the text?

#1. How many New Jersey people are ashamed to admit they're on Facebook?

(How many DC residents [and/or aspirants] are ashamed to admit they're on Facebook?)

# I think #6 falls short. He planned to commit suicide. How does suicide enhance your evolutionary fitness. Is there a next of kin benefiting ?

As far as status and seeking recognition, it's only partly evolution. Some people have an exaggerated need to be admired, recognized or to aggrandize themselves simply because they were ignored, or belittled as a child by unloving parents for whom the child was never good enough. I think that's more common.

Rayward above mentioned that 41 is an age one might know one is a failure. Perhaps the Las Vegas shooter knew for certain he would never have offspring, and elected to be mentioned as a footnote in a history book as preferable to complete obscurity? (Should we watch out for certain old bachelor posters?)

Heh. I wonder also if this guy maybe thought "damn I have so many guns and converters and scopes, don't I need to use them?"

What he had a lot of was ammo. I made a crude estimate of the lower bound, and I figure he must have fired at least 6000 rounds. He moved nearly a ton (possibly more) of ammo into his hotel room. We're probably talking about more than 50 trips down to his car or truck and back. He checked in on Thursday, so he had time to do it. About 12 trips a day, quite doable.

After firing the first 500 or 1000 rounds, there would have been lots of smoke in the room. Probably hard to see and breathe. That's almost certainly why he knocked out the second window.

I think we can agree he had a lot of ammo AND a lot of guns. As Mark Zuckerberg said, there's gotta be a way we can make it harder to do this.



We could make it harder by outlawing elevators, then people would have to carry all of that ammo up multiple flights of stairs. Possibly he might have to cut guns and ammo tonnage in half.

Why would he be limited to 20 pounds per trip?

We have a winner. PDa has made the most sensible comment about Vegas of all.

This carnage would literally not have been possible without elevators. Somebody should write Liz Warren to ban them.

Well sure, elevators. But it also wouldn't have been possible without automatic weapons for personal use. When deciding which to ban, you should go with the item with the least beneficial uses. You decide, cupcake.

Take a gene's eye view:

Imagine a 'scary dude' gene which predisposes the carrier to the possibility of a violent, suicidal outburst in response to disrespect and loss of face/status. Now, think of all the other 'scary dudes' who carry the same gene as the Vegas shooter. Haven't his actions increased the credibility of the others carrying the 'scary dude' gene? Won't people tend to go to more trouble to avoid pushing them too far?

And will the credible threat of violence make them even more attractive to women?


I think it's taking too far the explanatory power of evolution. Is there a gene for being a bad driver ? a messy eater ? a conservative economist ?

While there may well be an evolutionary drive for status seeking, the author has not proved that: 1- such a pathological extreme behavior is expressing status and leads to increased reproduction 2- status seeking is a consequence of evolution only, and there are no other drivers of status such as environment or culture.

If there is a gene for criminality/murder I think it would have been found by now. Most likely this pathological behavior it is a consequence of myriad nurture/nature influences. In the case of Charles Whitman it was a brain tumor driving him, not status

Imagine a trait causes a 2% chance of psychopathy and a 10% chance of tripling the number of descendants.

Looking at humans causes both the religious right and the insane left to lose their minds. Instead, observe chimpanzee behavior. Does status matter? Does it affect gene transmission?

Imagine a trait causes a 2% chance of being a messy eater and a 10% chance of tripling the number of descendants, and so on.

You're left to argue that a trait that increases fitness also produces psychopathy as an undesirable byproduct while at the same time it is proposed earlier that this same psychopathy is actually itself a manifestation of fitness.
We're much more affected by our early environment and culture than chimpanzees. A lot of our brain development happens ex utero. While chimpanzees when in superior numbers may attack rivals or other bands , they don't commit suicide in the process..

"As far as status and seeking recognition, ..."

We have the contrast of two real estate speculators.

One who got rich by failing spectacularly upward and increasingly being recognized for his failures.

And one who was very successful, reaping so much money that he couldn't spend it fast enough, and that got him no recognition. Success was unrewarded. But failure was and is highly rewarded.

But he is now Number One! He is First in American history. He is the Greatest Gun Murderer, the Greatest American Mystery.

Unlike McVeigh, he will never allow anyone to get answers that diminish his Greatness. Only the Saudis of 9/11 match his mystery, but they were 15 in number and thus lost to history, even thought they killed more, making them greater mass murderers.

And he ensured there was no great hero. No one to claim to be the anonymous killer of the evil of bin Laden.

I find it odd that the police who when confronted with unarmed men or women, or armed with knives, but killing no one, blaze away, but in Las Vegas, it took the police half an hour to charge in on an obvious mass murderer blazing away. An rather than using a key card to unlock the door, they used explosives to blow up the door. I guess protecting the public means protecting just the police. Quickly kill the possible threat. Take lots of time to kill the extremely obvious dangerous threat actively killing.

The part about evolutionary fitness is just speculation. But I think we all (I am assuming [correctly I am assuming] that 99% of the commenters here are men) know about what status means to men. And we all know what the grand act means in relation to status. Dead men have status. In the meadhalls of history the young listened enviously to the songs of praise sung about the dead and their great deeds and grand acts.

'He planned to commit suicide.'

Or not, strangely enough - 'Las Vegas police said there was evidence gunman Stephen Paddock intended to survive and escape his deadly attack at a country music festival on Sunday, and revealed that he also rented an apartment overlooking another music festival that took place in the city the previous weekend.

The disclosures were among several new details revealed by Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who also strayed into speculation that the man believed responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history had help.'

Hard to imagine how he thought he could escape, to be honest, though the police now have large amounts of data to work with. For example, possibly a vehicle that can now be associated with Paddock somehow pre-positioned/provisioned in a way that showed at least a belief in his ability to elude capture while fleeing the hotel.

#2. ah yes, renounce your identity, your family, your neighbors, and friends. Submit to the Holy Trinity of the EU, USA, and China and you will be blessed with many virgins or something. Anybody tempted to convert to this religion, just remember, once you join, you may never leave.

The case for citizen control of government rather than submission to supranational entities discussed here:

#6. Something is wrong with the frequency distribution. Either the graph is drawn incorrectly or there are way more than 70 observations. Also, even if one assumes that graphic is correct the "bimodal" distribution is a dip of about 2-3 observations at each age category. I'd hardly call that significant. That said, I find the inferences about status motives appealing. However, I wouldn't assume that guys in their mid-30s commit fewer spree killings simply because they are between status motivations.

#2 Because Rivers of Blood will flow if Madrid tries to enslave Catalonia.

I would think that a Catalonia secession would n]be closely comparable to the US experience in 1861 than to Brexit. Maybe that's because for me history didn't begin at breakfast this morning.

I think there is no Second Amendment in Spain, so Madrid will be able to get its way.

There was a 2nd Amendment in the US in 1861, and Washington still got its way.

Difference being a war which killed 600,000 men and dragged on for years.

Hungary. Tianamen Square. Holocaust.

I’m not a gun nut. But their whole shtick seems to be an armed populace is much harder to control. Hard to argue with on the merits.

The charitable version of the response from Vox/nytimes et al seems to be: your chance of the US infringing upon your rights is astronomically lower than the chance of being killed in a random mass shooting. Which, ok. Maybe. But show your work please.

"Hungary. Tianamen Square. Holocaust."
I wonder if there was a Second Amendment in the South from 1865 to 1964 and what good it has done for the oppressed there.
Also, thankfully, there were no professional militarymen siding with the South, right?

And indeed, there has been a lot of writing on how the 2nd Amendment helped blacks in the South in that period defend themselves.

So, thankfully, no oppresion in the South, right? After all, the Second Amendment explains why America is not the Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany. In fact, it would have saved the Jews from Nazi oppression...

No, it won't. Winds of Change blow in Catalonia!

In related news it looks like Brazilian separatists are following the lead of Catalonia.

"Inspired by the separatist vote in Catalonia, secessionists in three wealthy southern Brazilian states are redoubling their efforts to break away from the crisis-battered nation.

Residents of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana states are being called to vote in an informal plebiscite on Oct. 7 on whether they want independence."

#2 Because Rivers of Blood will flow if Madrid tries to enslave Catalonia.

I would assume that the same criteria would apply if Brazilia tries to enslave South Brazil.

#6 The Vegas shooter was the oldest mass killer on record. Far, far away from both of the bimodal peaks, the older of which is 41.

60 is the new 40?

He was depressed that within a year, he'd be on Medicare.

It was not his AARP status. It was the 47 fully-automatic assault rifles, the NRA, the Republicans, the IRS, Trump, the white privilege, the black lives matter, The Flag oppresses black millionaires, . . .

Some people can't understand the concepts of "inanimate object," evil, "no religious affiliation," etc.

Limit the heights and numbers of rooms of hotels. Paddock couldn't have killed all them red necks from the second floor of a hotel with 16 rooms.

Being in the periphery of news media is hard, like I've heard somewhere: In Africa we do not count wounded people, we count dead people... a day before Catalonia vote, English speaking regions in Cameroon planned a protest to declare the two Anglophone region independent of the country and split the bi-lingual West African nation into two different countries but the government - led by a long time autocrat - went way farther than Spanish police and 17 people have been killed including a deputy-mayor... Catalans please show your solidarity to your fellow "freedom fighters".

#4...The point of taxes is to raise money to pay for what actions government decides to take. From the standpoint of decency and equity and fairness, the wealthy should pay more than the less fortunate. As well, taxes should not make people poorer than before being taxed. In a progressive income tax, the tax should be on the increase in income from one year to the next. That is, the people who are taxed are those who have demonstrably become wealthier in the intervening year. If people want to pay less taxes, then they should reduce the amount of money the government spends, not try and push tax plans that do not guarantee people will be poorer after taxes or are a feeble ( because not the real point ) attempt to push people into spending their money in a particular way they deem properly incentivized.

A progressive income tax also figures into the best proposal for regularizing government operation, namely Milton Friedman's essay A Monetary and Fiscal Framework for Economic Stability.

So we should literally incentivize people to have less income every year.

I call parody. This cannot be real.

Potato, If you pay a 30 percent tax, you keep seventy percent. In no sense is $70000 a loss, it is simply less than you might have made ie $100000. Plus, the government provides you services. whether you want them ot not. If you don't, then, as I said above, you should focus on reducing spending.

If you find making $70000 as opposed to $100000 a significant disincentive to work, so be it.

“taxes should not make people poorer than before being taxed. In a progressive income tax, the tax should be on the increase in income from one year to the next.”

So the tax is on increases in income year on year. I still say parody. Even the bluest of Democrats don’t intentionally advocate incentivizing wage stagnation and stasis.

This would mean the marginal cost of investing becomes negative for those who have the means to invest. The equilibrium would be a massive breakdown in the economy.

Parody. Or extremely poor description of your intended tax scheme.

It's an income tax. The tax is on the additional wages/compensation. It's not a tax on investment.

Yes, Donald, and what is the intended result of the investment? To make more money, which becomes ______

Are you conflating wealth and income?

#2- "when countries in Europe renounce formal sovereignty this leads to more real sovereignty of the peoples of Europe. "

Can somebody explain this to me? Is he just saying that the peoples of Europe will become wealthier? I can't see how they are gaining any sovereignty whatsoever.

He defines "real" sovereignty as being able to levy higher taxes. When there are lots of independent countries, then tax competition will limit tax rates. If there were one, big global country, then it could raise tax rates with impunity. His argument confuses people with government. He defines "real" sovereignty as powerful government that can act with impunity. (Not just on taxes; his argument actually extends to all government action that might be limited by people "voting with their feet" or moving capital.) Most (thoughtful) people define sovereignty as being able to limit government's power over oneself. When foreigners control government, one has no sovereignty. When one controls one's own government, then one can limit such government's power.

#2 Not very, but one occurs to me:

Both are movements which imply some degree of separation from a larger market. Thus they impose limits of Smithian Growth - the growth merely derived from market size, market linkages and specialization.

In response, Libertarian Smith-fans find themselves to have less concern with liberty than they thought or expressed, and more concern with Smithian Growth than they thought or expressed.

#2. Is this a contradiction?

"The first myth is that there is an external enemy. ... For the Catalan nationalists the enemy is the Spanish government oppressing the Catalan people."

"The Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy stupidly decided to use violence to prevent a referendum in Catalonia, despite the fact that a peaceful referendum would most probably have led to a similar outcome as in Scotland.... The Catalan nationalists now have been given a fantastic boost thanks to Rajoy's stupidity. The TV images of Spanish robotic police officers hitting old and young to prevent them from voting."

Maybe there is an external enemy and oppression after all -- the one that sends in police officer to beat voters.

#4. I thought, wow, something I can agree with John Cochrane on. but then I read his blog and discovered he has not unearthed anything new and was extremely disappointed to see him not reference Bob Frank who has been writing about a progressive consumption tax for 10 years. I know that 'nothing is new under the sun' but to now acknowledge those who have come before? Not a good thing.

Dr Frank, unlike Cochrane, pairs the progressive consumption tax with a near 100% estate tax. His whole thing is success is based on luck. Which means estate taxes should be near 100%.

I agree with Dr Frank and James Buchanan on a near 100 percent inhertitance tax. All other attempts at influencing equality are bullshit. Add that to my income tax. Inheritance is not an investment.

Of all the crazy in progressive taxation policy, a 100% inheritance tax must be the most unworkable idea ever. A thousand legal and quasi-legal evasions present themselves to the mind...

As someone who lives in New Jersey, I would be ashamed to admit it, especially after admitting that I had a Facebook page.

#2 has some extraordinary comments:

"The second myth is that the people who fight for their independence have a clearly defined identity. The task of national politicians is to listen to the will of the people. There can be only one voice."

So, after all, there is no national identity and no "will of the (national) people".

Then the author goes on to tell us, two paragraphs on, that:

Large multinationals blackmail national governments in Europe, with the result that corporate taxes decline almost everywhere. In no country, however, is there a will of the people in favour of reducing these taxes. Yet this is the outcome because governments act as national entities. Were they to decide jointly on corporate taxes in Europe, multinationals would be unable to blackmail these governments and there would be no creeping decline in corporate taxes.

Suddenly, a pan European "will of the people" has emerged in favour of higher corporate tax rates, and it is self evidently good to have a single hegemonic state in order to force uniformity in tax rates, and presumably much else besides.

So long Double Irish. Apparently, you were never a conscious choice by the Irish and weren't part of their "will of the people".

And with you, in the idealism of this blogger, ones assumes any other policy variance choices that separate states could pursue to be attractive to international talent and money.

"Mass Killings: An Evolutionary Perspective" BUT the reason why that graph looks so jaggy is because N=70. Which is to say, that's a lot of surmising from such a small data set.

Although if we're talking evo-psych here, surely a reference to Chagnon's study of reproductive success among Yanomamo men is relevant?

Here's the short (PowerPoint) version: "Life Histories, Blood Revenge, and Warfare in a Tribal Populatioin: Cultural and Reproductive Success in Yanomamo Warfare."

'nationalists pursue more formal sovereignty they achieve less real sovereignty of the people. They want to take back control and they end up with less control. ..: when countries in Europe renounce formal sovereignty this leads to more real sovereignty of the peoples of Europe. . '

And war is peace, freedom is slavery, etc.

This is control in the meaning of : the control of elites and other busybodies to get their own way, rather than people's autonomy over their own lives.

Centralising bureaucracies are the enemies of freedom, and always have been. When it comes to government, local is beautiful.

#2: how is Catalonia like Brexit?

It would be good to make some predictions/bets? For Brexit predictions revolved around thousands of jobs displaced to Paris/Frankfurt/Dublin? For Catalonia would be thousands of jobs relocated to Spanish speaking places and other VW group factories that build cars on the same platform.

Clearly men without children are evolutionary dead ends enraged by their fate and so at risk of nihilistic mass murder. Given these data what then should we do about Tyler?

He keeps writing books, and blogs, and getting on podcasts and TV in order to compensate for his overwhelming "status humiliation."

If you lived in Arlington what location would you put on your Facebook profile?

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