Sunday assorted links


#2 Monterrey is not Monterey.

Well, the wall is still in its developmental phase.

You people haven't been paying attention. Los Angeles is Mexico, or vice versa.

I cannot remember - were you one of the people on the Mexican film maker thread claiming that such Mexican film makers were actually Hollywood film makers, and thus not actually Mexican ones?

No. If a Mexican film-maker exists, I couldn't name her/him.

Apparently, I wanted to be more outrageous.

Don't watch the Oscars? Neither do I.

You forgot to say Los Angeles is "low IQ."

But then,

Also looks like a good graph for density.

Partially, but also a graph for getting things done. A graph for not blaming your problems on progressives.

Well, sure. 10 people can get more done than 1. GDP per capita would be more interesting. Overall in the same direction, but still interesting. Maybe add in PPP too.

Not the same granularity, but California looking pretty good .

And the highest poverty rate in the country!

lol, that is more LA than L.A.

Do you guys ever check anything before you vomit it onto comments?


Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

You guys are going to give up on L.A. and use statewide data? (I found that article pretty rambling and not terribly numeric anyway)

Thank you for #3, a lovely article.

Depends on how you see it. To me it is quite sad. A religious community is breaking up and they are being assimilated into mainstream Canadian society. They are being Assimilated into the Poz. Lesbian witches cannot be far behind.

They would have been better off sticking to raising pigs.

Ok ok, but you gotta admit hockey is a better religion than any of the other organized myth communities.

Sorry, I've had one too many hockey sticks shoved up my ass to agree.

Do you mean "organized myth communities" like the socialist, er, Democrat party; liberals; 90+% of academia; 99% of the lying media; Obama-worshiping imbeciles; . . .

FYI: for you big government idolators: "Government is where bad ideas go to achieve immortality." Stephen Green @Instapundit

"like the socialist, er, Democrat party"

Of course, I remember the capitalist surge under W.

"99% of the lying media"

It keeps hiding the Democrat pizza pedophiles.

"Government is where bad ideas go to achieve immortality.”
Well, fortunately, a certain set of bad ideas failed to achieve immortality.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history." Dwight Eisenhower
Talking about bad ideas, can we stop looking for the WMDs now?

Is this where you put fake news in all caps?

The Hutterites are an entirely different beast of a religious community. They aren't afraid of integrating modernity into their communities in the least.

Oh and they are viciously efficient...

5) What I have been braying about on this blog for years

"Singapore ... shows that it is quite possible to collectively own the means of production while also using price systems to assist in the allocation of productive factors. This is what market socialists have been saying for a hundred years."


ahh yes, the infamous "3rd Way" fantasy between collectivism and personal freedom -- the U.S. also operates that way in practice, but Singapore leans much more to collectivism. Collectivism always means oligarchic-rule, in practice.

There are many varied degrees of collectivist/socialist society, but the degree of permissible personal & economic freedom is always ultimately decided by the state oligarchy. Peaceable individual freedom either exists in a society or does not exist. It certainly does not exist is Singapore... where the government owns almost half the capital -- and 90% of the Singapore population lives in government-owned housing.

That article was an eye opener.

Really? Because most people with even a glancing knowledge of Singapore would not be surprised in the least.

I saw gleaming cityscapes and busy, well off people. I saw some apartment buildings and what we call condominiums, and it never occurred to me that they were leasehold. My bad.

My Singaporean (he is ethnic Chinese) pal, an upper middle class manager spends s lot of time at work. And rises very very early to get there, stays many hours but doesn’t work that hard. I suppose he makes important business decisions but during the day he’s free to surf the net.

The right I guess has illusions about it being a free market utopia and the left sees it as a capitalist haven with a puritan undercurrent (anti chewing gum etc).

+1 I've thought a lot about Singapore and felt that the post was very illuminating.

Okay but how is this different than the property tax system in the US? In most places, but particularly in certain places such as NJ, you are clearly renting the land. In a socialist system, apartment units are allocated according to rules. In Singapore, you can transact units if you agree on the price. The glaring step is that Singaporean government builds the units. But this is also true in German where the state pension funds owns 60%+ of the habitable buildings and everyone rents.

In both places, the government has a reason to select the right apartment size for the average buyer! Its how they collect revenue. If there was no private sector (i.e., if they were really socialist), there would be no revenue to collect and no real price signal.

Don't forget Singapore is homogeneous and about half the size of NYC. Those with collectivist dreams for the US think with sophistication like nation=nation, therefore Singapore=USA

Singapore is 70% chinese, 20% malay, ~10% indian, and we're homogenous?

Look, if you want to argue against collectivism, good for you, but please be accurate with your facts.

In fact, I will argue that it's this very diversity that requires strong communitarian control to ensure the various fringes don't get out of control. Our mosques and churches are heavily watched, clerics and priests have to be vetted by the authorities first.

I mean, that's fairly homogeneous. It's no Norway, sure, but compare it to New York City which is 44% white, 25% black, 27% Hispanic, and 12% Asian.

If against NY, probably. But against the US, which is what he was saying the collectivist push was directed towards?

Completely off.

So... from an American point of view, 90% Asian and 10% South Asian? That's homogeneous.

Yes, I know, don't group the Chinese and the Malay in the same bucket, but America does just that. "White," after all, is Irish and Italian and German and English and Polish and Russian and... Seriously, if the United States divided ethnic categories with the same fine-toothed separation as the Old World does, no group would reach 15% of the population. Maybe 40% in the countryside.

Yeah. Homogeneous.

Malays are austronesians and typically regarded as very separate from chinese. English/german would be more akin to han/mongol, or han/manchu, or han/korean.

The chinese/malay split would be more like English and Kurds.

Don't be disingenuous.

Or English and Finns, yes.

Singapore started out market socialist but their ruling class was heavily influenced by the Chicago School in the 70s and since then policy has trended in a more corporatist direction. If they were a larger country with less need for soft power they would have gone full fascist by now.

Me too. Having been there, and seen the ports, it was always strange to hear the American conservative fantasy of Singapore as just a market economy that pulled itself up by its bootstraps. There was effective (and fairly unique governance) but a lot of path dependence as well.

All well, most of these indexes of best and worst countries are just telling us stories their authors want to tell.

5) I couldnt help but notice that the blog that featured the Singapore article has a donation link. They are supported by small donors so that they dont have to compromise their message in the case of being sponsored by corporate money. As is the case with the arrangement between the Kochs, the Mercatus Center and this blog.

No, no - this is the web site of two GMU econ dept. professors. Any other connections are purely incidental and/or coincidental and/or accidental.

Now, MRU is another story. Originally a tale of two GMU econ dept. professors, a $4 app, and youtube. Strangely, however, that story has changed, as noted here -

Well. what a surprise, that was a Mercatus link, and not one to MR. Strange how that works sometimes, isn't it? Just another example of that incidental and/or coincidental and/or accidental framework.

Besides, this web site has a number of ads too, undoubtedly ensuring its continued independence.

"Of course, I am de facto often trying to persuade people of particular views and facts..." (Prof Cowen)


ahh, the big-picture on what this MR Blog is really all about

(...that was a good URL link)

Any evidence that this blog or the MC is being influenced in any way at all by the Kochs?

They do have a donation link. The absurdity is to think that does not compromise their message just as strongly as anyone who takes money from a single big donor.

More transparency would be nice. People could make that determination themselves.

Obviously it's up to them.

Transparency, especially for some blog, is overrated. Arguments are not made any better or worse based on who's funding their distribution, and forcing disclosure can lead to excessive retaliation, which undermines people funding unpopular ideas.

Da fuq Jan, you’ve been here for several years at least. Any indication that Tyler doesn’t say and do exactly what Tyler wants? Me neither: Tyler’s his own man and then some.

Moreover I seem to recall only one link to the Koch brothers, and that was a good interview with one of them.

'They do have a donation link.'

Honest question. Even after turning on images/javascipt, using ctrl-f for 'donate,' I see nothing where one can donate to this web site.

Where is that donation link?

In the upper right hand corner of the page (top of the page):

"People's Policy Project is supported by over 1,800 small donors pledging $5 to $15 per month. This funding source allows us to do our work without being compromised by the corporate money other think tanks rely on."

Then there are two buttons - one for "Support on Patreon" and the other for "Support on Actblue." They use the word "support" rather than "donate," though if you hover over the link for Support on Actblue you can see the word "donate" in the link.

The Kochs are pretty famous for making no-string donations to libertarian or individual rights groups. They have often donated to groups that contradict their business interests. Let's see Soros do that.

'for making no-string donations to libertarian or individual rights groups'

State universities, on the other hand, are a different story - 'In 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached.

First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller.

Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired.

And third, Bruce Benson, a prominent libertarian economic theorist and Florida State University economics department chairman, must stay on another three years as department chairman — even though he told his wife he’d step down in 2009 after one three-year term.

The Charles Koch Foundation expressed a willingness to give Florida State an extra $105,000 to keep Benson — a self-described “libertarian anarchist” who asserts that every government function he’s studied “can be, has been, or is being produced better by the private sector” — in place.

“As we all know, there are no free lunches. Everything comes with costs,” Benson at the time wrote to economics department colleagues in an internal memorandum. “They want to expose students to what they believe are vital concepts about the benefits of the market and the dangers of government failure, and they want to support and mentor students who share their views. Therefore, they are trying to convince us to hire faculty who will provide that exposure and mentoring.”

Benson concluded, “If we are not willing to hire such faculty, they are not willing to fund us.”'

OK, not always, but quite often. And +1 for them countering the leftism on a college campus. I'd guess a simple donation to the university would have been used to further ideology that was directly against what they believe.

"The donations are no strings attached. And Soros!"

"Ok, fine, there are strings that happen to support Koch business interests. And on second thought, strings are actually good."

Jan prefers a dude who helped the Nazis hunt Jews and wants to end national governance to some brothers who want to ensure Jan has the freedom to be a complete tool.

No, they (at least the one reported here) didn't support Koch's businesses. Reading comprehension. Soros' donations often help his business. Funny how less off shore drilling supported by Soros helped his oil investments in Southern America.

... the amount of small private donations depends on how many people like that blog "message" -- therefore, the blog authors are not totally free of financial constraints on their message publication. Their message must "sell" to donors.

Private persons and corporations may (legally) spend their money any way they like ... that you disagree with 'their message' is not a valid indictment of private persons and corporations publicly expressing themselves.

#6: Indeed, but why would someone like Malcolm Gladwell or Stephen Curry to teach a master on-line class?

I assume they are not paid very much for these courses. I would find it hard to believe it is for the groupies. It is online for one thing. For another, the value of your average blue spiky haired, nose-ringed Borderline-Personality-Disorder-pretending-to-be-a-student would be low. Likely negative in fact.

So it is a mystery. Maybe it is to show off to their mothers?

The customers will be relatively young professionals with a decent amount of disposable income. (Some rich kids may also get their parents to pay for it.) The content will simply inform people's hobbies or be viewed as entertainment.

Or the customers are cucks like me!

Why would GM Garry Kasparov, former multi-time world champion, now retired, teach a master class in chess, giving away his secrets? Recall, if you're a chess fan, that he was famous for his preparation in the opening, his opening book, which he claims some of his seconds (his helpers) appropriated if memory serves me right. Is he giving away the store? Does Kasparov need the money? I doubt it. Teaching detracts also from his political ambitions. Yet, there's a master class by Kasparov in chess!

Bonus trivia: Kasparov's Immortal Game: (Garry Kasparov vs Veselin Topalov "Kasparov's Immortal" Hoogovens (1999), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 4, Jan-20 Pirc Defense: General (B06) 1-0 )

Do you cuck in real life too Ray?

Does anyone in the comment section not gain enjoyment from sharing what you know and the community that conversation builds?

"Thus, Singapore is a land where almost everyone is a long-term public housing tenant."

While I don't refute the arguments made in this post, I suspect that people who 'lease' HDBs in Singapore do not feel like they are a public housing tenant. 99 years is a long time in a country just over 50 years old and these 'leases' are routinely bought and sold, not a typical characteristic of a lease.

Besides, what is exactly is home ownership? People in the US, UK, etc. may 'own' their land, but they typically can't develop it without government permission, are subject to expropriation, and pay annual taxes to keep it. Should they be considered tenants too?

@#5 - an excellent article, and 99 year leases are not the same as Fee Simple Absolute ownership (ask Macao and Hong Kong). Indeed, Singapore is market socialism, and sadly "the future" it seems (as Hayek lamented too after WWII, he saw the writing on the wall), not free-market capitalism.

Ray, one could make the case that Singapore has the best features of market capitalism and market socialism while the U.S. has the worst. Maintaining social harmony seems to be Singapore's top priority, while in the U.S. it seems that maintaining social disharmony is the top priority. Just yesterday in a speech in Pennsylvania Trump stated that he received 52% of the women vote in 2016. Well, he received 52% of the white women vote. And social disharmony isn't restricted to Trump. Social justice warriors define our differences based on relative power imbalances they attribute to historical inequities, inequities that must be eliminated by shifting the relative power imbalances. It's a zero sum approach to social disharmony. So while Trump and his followers wish to strengthen the relative power imbalance, social justice warriors wish to reverse the roles. Of course, there's a very large difference between the social justice warriors and Trump: the social justice warriors are a few loud voices on college campuses, while Trump and his political party control all branches of government. In America, we are not all in this together.

Social justice warriors are only on campuses? No, it is more accurate to say that they have colonized campuses.

And most forms of journalism.

And corporate HR departments.

“And social disharmony isn’t restricted to Trump” — that’s right, e.g., race relations problems were perceived to have doubled from 2009 to 2016 under the first minority president

That sort of thing happens when a black men is living in the White House and the white man resents it. Duh.

Or you have a president stirring the pot the whole time. Suddenly you have the Justice department's community department spending money in Florida to foment public opinion against Zimmerman to try to force charges against him. Pretty shitty behavior, but par for the course for that administration.

Who knew @rayward was so #woke and #blm? Next he’ll be explaining that Hillary lost because of sexism, he’s so #metoo. But the new found coherency is welcome, quite different than the usual verbal diarrhea and obsession with Paul the Apostle.

Singapore's method for "maintaining social harmony" is banning discussion of social problems so everyone saves face. That does not work in a Western liberal democracy.

Is this about feelings?


In addition to the extensive government regulation via zoning laws, 90% of mortgages in the U.S. are backed by Fannie & Freddie and are given generous tax breaks on the interest to boot, so the U.S. also has a quasi-socialist home ownership system unfortunately.

Mostly agree. We bought an HDB years ago (my wife is from SG) and while they’re leased over 99 years, they behave like private property. You need income to get a loan, the loan terms are similar to private property, they’re bought and sold in the market, and prices can fall, leaving you with a loss.

There is a subsidy built in for first time HDB buyers but the fianancial requirements for that purchase are strict. As are the social requirements. Don’t bother applying if you’re an unmarried couple for example.

So while most of the housing is public it isn’t public housing as we Imagine it. They’re mostly bought by couples with decent incomes and a history of financial and moral responsibility. You can’t say that about government housing anywhere in the west that I know of.

Term-limited private property sounds like it would have neat side effects wrt land bubbles. If house ownership has a time limit, the price increase over time will be slower and maybe even end up as a price decrease, discouraging "investment" in second and third homes. Thought a 99-year term limit is probably too long for that effect, by the time these leases are running out many things can change including a repeal of the limits or a change in political borders..

Nobody is really sure how the government will handle the 99 year leases rolling over. HDB's weren't really built to last 100 years though, so people are being slowly relocated to newer buildings while retaining their existing leases. I believe some of these relocations have come with lease renewals and some have not, don't recall.

How many of those 99 year leases have turned over yet? I wouldn't call them a success just because they haven't had issues 30 years into a lease.

AFAIK, most of those leases running out have been reappropriated by the government under the SERS scheme.

But there are two caveats.

1. The government is not obliged to buy back the leases. Some landed properties that had a lease of 60 years will run out in 2020, and their current occupiers (definitely not owners) are SOL.

2. Even if the government buys back the lease, e.g. under the SERS scheme, I believe there is still some loss incurred by the lease holder - IOW, the compensation is still below market value. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the government makes the announcement about SERS, then prices the buy back to the market value AFTER the announcement. Obviously, after any announcement about the 'end' of the estate, the market prices of the estate properties will drop as nobody will bother buying something that is going back to the government.

It's folly to rely on leases in the super long run. The end goal for any household in Sg would be try to secure a landed freehold, but these are so, so rare.

2) How would a lesser Mexico be possible? It is already Mexico.

You do realize that half the USA, the "Whigs" were against the Mexican-American war of 1846-48 which expanded the USA by something like one-third? The enemy of my enemy is my friend was the logic.

Bonus trivia: Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor!

The point is, many times, our Emperor asked Maximilian to give up. Brazilian guidance was ignored and a few decades later Mexico was at war with the USA.

I always think of Singapore as basically a large shopping mall for that part of Asia, internally autocratic but subject to intense competition so run intelligently. And of course you don't have to go very far in that area of the world where socialist inspired regimes didn't do so well (Pol Pot etc). The advantage of democratic capitalism is that you don't need Lee Kuan Yew running your country to do OK.

You forgot about the refineries and oil related activities - 'Singapore is described as "the undisputed oil hub in Asia". The oil industry is responsible for some five percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). It generated an estimated S$57 billion dollars in 2009. Technology used for oil refinement and trading centres in Singapore is on the cutting edge, and many well-established petroleum businesses, such as Exxon Mobil and Lanxess, are based in Singapore, owing to the country's "safe environment" and ideal trading location.

As a global financial hub, Singapore provides for 25 per cent to 35 per cent of commodities trading in Asia, according to International Enterprise Singapore, a government agency. It is also Asia’s largest physical oil trading hub. Additionally, it is home to the world’s largest bunkering port and the world's two largest oil rig builders SembCorp Marine and Keppel Corporation.'

Refineries are there because of the ports. The ports were there because of the British East India Company. The British East India Company was there because of the sea route to China. Path dependence. Literally and figuratively.

The refineries are mainly there because of Malaysia and Indonesia having large oil reserves, and an obscure oil company called Royal Dutch Shell. Of course the port played a role, no dispute, but there were a number of fine ports owned by the British Empire that lacked the most important element in prompting the refineries to be built there in the first place.

Malasia and Indonesia are big, Singapore is small, so saying they "need" to be in the small place?

The Dutch were the main colonizers in that part of the world. The Brits came along later.

Sure, but as regards the placement of Singapore,

"Raffles hoped to challenge the Dutch by establishing a new port along the Straits of Malacca, the main ship passageway for the India-China trade. He needed a third port since the British only had the ports of Penang and Bencoolen. The port had to be strategically located along the main trade route between India and China and in the middle of the Malay Archipelago."

LKY decreed that the language would be English, the value system Confucianism, and the economic system capitalism. No organic growth or emergence from complexity there.

#6 - I'll flip a coin. Heads, it's money. Tails, it's ego.

Could be either, but I would add a passion for the subject. When I first started working in high tech more than 30 years ago I was amazed by the number of people who would spend hours every day helping people, in this case with coding, for no apparent reason. I got to know these people really well over a period of almost 10 years. They do it because they love it.

I doubt Tyler needs to get paid to talk about chess. In fact, I would guess this blog is a labor of love, but I could be wrong about that one.

I meant to write: "...helping people in the online forums...".

#4 Tirole's popular economics book covers a broad swath and is a good read. Chapter 14 and 15 deal with the digitization of economy, two sided markets and how one side shoulders the higher cost. Recommended.

Re #5 Singapore -- the NYC government has its fingers in everything and the place (about as big as Sing) is a total mess with a corrupt bureaucracy, high taxes, overpaid municipal workers, and poor services, incompetent school system, broken mass transit, decaying public housing, the addled and addicted wandering the streets as if they just walked off the set of a zombie movie. So I don't know that i would hold up heavy government involvement in the economy for everyone (assuming that is a fair picture of Sing.).

No, that is not a fair picture of Singapore. In fact, Singapore could not be more different than anywhere in the United States, especially New York. Singapore operates within the rule of law, has defined private property rights, has independent courts, little corruption, and despite the ownership described in the article, Singapore’s government consumes a significantly smaller share of the economy than does government in the US. These are the factors cited in the Heritage Foundation index of economic freedom: And I imagine these are the ideals to which Caplan was referring. Not sure who the authors think use the economic freedom index as shorthand for capitalism, but they would indeed have been sloppy, almost as sloppy as those that posit that government control of resources is what boosts the Singapore economy. The factors in the index of economic freedom are ideals against which US urban areas come up decidedly lacking regardless of how “capitalist” they might be.

Singapore and "independent courts" in the same sentence, hahahahaha don't make me laugh

#6 Where passion and demand converge and emerge. It's the futchah!

Number 6 - I suppose even old Warren Buffet suffers, from time to time, from imposter syndrome. And he can legitimately claim to have "demonstrably" succeeded better at what he did than anybody else (not at being a poor boring little old fat man with stupid political opinions, that was not my point --- at being an investor - let's keep this honest!)

As for Curry, his first shot at being the champion in a league that is itself in steep decline was when he was 19 (which is, I think, the youngest age of a player on an NBA championship team - I forget the player's name, but I think it was some guy from the Hanseatic League: but a winner is a winner), and he is almost 30 now. In all but 2 years he and his team were losers, and this is in the declining limited field of action known as "professional basketball in the USA." He can't really trash talk anyone - he was a loser almost every year, with 2 exceptions, of his life. And he could have won every year beginning at age 19.

As for Gladwell, he does not know if he can brag that he was once a promising young athlete. He can! But he writes book after book about people who he admits are more insightful and smart than him. Big mistake! He should write about dogs and science (not "human science", science) and poetry and cooking. The people he praises in his books would prefer that, for their sake and his sake.

A long slow reading of history reveals that almost all of history that is worth remembering was first experienced by "second-rate" people, God bless their hearts.

And, to tell the truth, there never were any first-rate people whose names anybody remembers much (well I remember a few, and people who think the way I do remember a few, but I consider the 'history' most people think of as 'history' to be more or less at the level of interest at which that guy who thought of Moab as his washpot would have thought of Moab, with respect to level of interest). (In case you wonder why I would say that - review the life stories of the five or six most famous leaders of nations in 1944. All were great disappointments to their parents, except Churchill, and even he, famously, dined well and heartily the day he learned his daughter had died. Losers, every single one of them.).

Knowing all that, the question asked in number Six answers itself.

Dante probably wrote a couple of extra cantos that did not make the final version: someone asked Cato why he never asked the souls seeking passage to the other shore about their memories - surely his life would be better if he spent just a few moments a day asking the random passenger some simple question, which might have had a beautiful answer, some question such as (you lived on the earth for so long and for so many years, was there one memory under the starlight - of all your memories, I am only asking about a memory under the starlight - which you remember as a memory of a night when you knew, as you now know, that God wanted to be good to you?) Who would not much prefer to read a version of the Divine Comedy with accurate and well-written answers to such a question (and before you think that is a stupid question, reread the flat verses Dante wrote about Cato).

And of course all those old New Yorker cartoons with thousands of variations of some gag about St Peter at the Gates and some "cosmopolitan banter" that was supposed to make the eager subscriber of the New Yorker laugh -

it was all a lie. and was not all that funny. not compared to the truth. The truth - by virtue of being the truth, not a lie, and by virtue of being the truth, ultimately amusing - (I am tired of posting long comments, so just imagine the rest of this comment is a long well-reasoned criticism of the hundreds of "St Peter at the Gate of Heaven" cartoons which the New Yorker foisted on its all too humble correspondents for so many years. Thanks for reading).

#1. Two words: Systemic risk.

5. Singapore is very small, mostly Chinese descent. Government keeps a tight reign on things to discourage radicalism. They have had a difficult time trying to prevent being swallowed up by bigger states. Autocracy seems to be in their stars.

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