Thursday assorted links


'How to Heal'

Can we please stop using that word in today's political context? No one needs to heal. Perhaps we just disagree, and that's the way it is.

It's such a feminine phraseology and it's highly annoying.

I agree!

A reasonable request.

I find it especially discordant as when a child the other H-word in the title I was not supposed to even utter. "I hate beets." "I HATE Courtney." "We do not use the word 'hate.'"

This was not an effort to promote an elevated tone. Mother was Baptist; perhaps a Baptist thing.

Parents trying to make their children into little parents for the assist, without realising that the stages of adolescent and adult are necessary?

I don't hate anybody at this stage of my life, but I sure did used to hate tons of stuff and folk.

Reminds me of something Haidt said on NPR when he was plugging The Righteous Mind , that morality is to some degree an experimental science for the individual and that a kid who steals a comic book at 10 and feels awful about it afterward is going to have a more durable ethic throughout his life about pilfering than the kid who follows mores. Because he did the lab work, he gets it.

Very enlightened, that Haidt.

And see I thought the purpose of simple bright-line rules was to capture as many early, perhaps-impressionable converts as possible, out of the subset of people who do not and would never feel awful about stealing the comic book.

+1 Cat.

Dubious on this. I think this kind of thing comes from deeply fetishizing rich life experiences and personal, individualistic psychological subjectivity in development of the moral self and the generally development of a rich personal life narrative. (And to some extent the desire of children who were bullies and thieves in their youth to recapitulate a privileged position for themselves in the adult moral hierarchy and "win" again).

The effect seems to be to perpetuate the idea that those kids who were never rebellious, who never stole or fought or bullied anyone (the prototypical Asian straight A "good kid" for instance), that's there's something wrong or lacking with them, that they lack a true moral spine or core, or a real "authenticity".

I'd at least hope morality's more dependent on social learning and empathy and moral reasoning and innate qualities than committing evil acts and feeling guilty, and that, taking the idea further, there aren't special kind of moral grace and nobility that can only live forever in the minds of reformed murderers, rapists, thieves, bullies, con-men.

And Fed Chairmen. "Look, if your uniform isn't a little dirty, you didn't really play the game."

But hey, if sanctimonious suits you, wear it.

M+Cat: can't there be two paths to the same destination?

We were under orders never to "hate" anyone or anything, never tell anyone to "shut up" and never wish anyone would die. My wife -- from a different region and religion -- confirms these rules from her own mom.

Our admonishment was to save 'hate' for the truly despicable. We could pretty much only hate Hitler and serial killers, because we were diluting the word if we said we hated our English teacher or sister's boyfriend.

Hitler, you're right. Now the bar is lower, it's considered OK to hate someone if they're "Literally Hitler!"

Do you really think it’s reasonable to object to a phrase because it sounds feminine?

Nor is it rational. Rejecting a word because it sounds feminine is a very emotional response, and quite feminine in and of itself. That is if you believe women are more emotional than men.

The only good thing about "healing" is that it probably has reduced overuse of the equally annoying "closure"

It’s a little late to send a copy to James Hodgkinson, but how about Ben walking over to give Maxine Waters a signed copy?

Maybe you can write a book called "How to be a Cuck" by Rock Chestwell.

I should add Ben Sasse is highly annoying as well.

Right. Hes the answer to a question nobody is asking.

It seems to me, that when anyone says "couldn't we try to agree?" it is pretty to agree.

All you're doing is agreeing, in principle, to have an open mind.

I actually *really* hate the way you don't even glancingly proof-read your comments, new anonymous!

Sorry. I do, but probably too fast and too conditioned on what I expect to see.

Yes he is.

He gives me the impression of an unprincipled man who tries hard to look principled. It gets him press coverage.

He went to Harvard!

"He went to Harvard."

One of the best and the Brightest.

Sounds like Sasse is auditioning for "Conscience of the Senate" now that McCain is gone. But the best he can hope for is "Dr.Phil of the Senate"

That's hella cynical and probably more than a little true, but someone has to step up and get us past the nihilism and division.

Why? Things will still be screwed up. We need to settle this once and for all the old fashioned way. So, let's duke it out.

Do 'we'? Sad.

Dr. Phil can be bluntly self-deprecating. He got into the jury consulting business because 'I was a terrible therapist'. He discovered in practicing psychotherapy and counseling that he didn't have much patience with his patients and he kept wanting to say to them, "Look, here's your problem: you're a jerk".

There are a lot of really useless therapists, and they are kept very busy by the wealthy healthy that just want to whine about their existential angst. Having been unburdened of the life and death challenges faced by the poor and working classes, they use up the services of therapists such that if there were a good therapist around, that person would be unavailable to help someone that really needed it.

A good subject for Tyler, more important than all the silly musings he usually posts, would be the lack of mental health services for those that truly need it.

I could write a book about that - it would read like a Steven King horror story, one filled with injustice and irony.

4. Large cities have the greatest concentration of socialists/communists/collectivists, who cry the loudest about inequality and yet these cities have the worst inequality. Why is that? Why don't they tax themselves to death and redistribute the loot to achieve their utopia where everyone is economically equal?

Because "highest concentration" is still not very many people?

Exactly. They'll still be drowned out at the polls by everyone else who lives there, and wants enough services that everyone's not wallowing in filth, but still wants to take their check home and buy what they actually want.

Also, not much communism survives actually having to work for a living.

Lets try to be generous. People in SF and LA witness the less-able being squeezed out of their society most rapidly and broadly, including some who are old and have spent their lives in those places. It is understandable that population tends to view the problem as more severe than others.


Those old people saw their houses appreciate in value 300% or more over the last 35 years. Give me a break.

Enough to win NY and California.

NY and California may talk communist, but they are most decidedly not communist. The financial and technological industries wouldn't continue to be so strong there if they were as collectivist as people would like to claim they are (both inside and outside the states in question).

NY and CA together would supplant Germany as the #4 economy (by gdp) just under Japan. I really dont think communist/socialust/collectivist is a useful descriptor here.

Meant for tmc...

I think they are somewhat collectivist. More so than most states. Like everything else, it's on a sliding scale.

Fair enough. The corporation I work for is "somewhat collectivist" as well. As is Germany. As is Japan.

Wouldn’t you expect the most vocal critics of inequality to live in the most unequal places?

Wouldn't you expect the most vocal critics of murder to be murderers?

Victims of murder or members of a community with a high murder rate, sure. It’s not like I said that NYC penthouse owners would be the expected vocal opponents of inequality. Not sure how your comment follows.

Aren't they, though?

Really?! If your life depended on detecting a “socialist/communist/collectivist” you’re telling me knocking on penthouse doors would give you likely success?

How about the Big Kahuna himself? Just last night I fell asleep, hard, during the part of Stedman Jones' Marx book where he details how, despite their increasing penury (punctuated by the immediate squandering of gifts and legacies), Marx and both mothers of his children keep moving house, each time with a new living room suite (as we used to say before Paul Fussell sneered at us) and into a more "social address."

1 seems to be an over generalization. While some Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland have become more nationalist and less liberal, others such as the Baltics and Romania have not.

Ehh, the Baltics have since 1989 made it moderately difficult to become a citizen for Russian speakers (who don't learn the local language), pretty much hoped that the Russians would go home (since they were transferred there intentionally by the Soviets to reduce Baltic nationalism), and generally excluded the parties that the Russian minority votes for from government (again, for some understandable reasons of fearing loyalty to Putin.)

It's all understandable nationalism in a lot of ways, the fear of Russia, but it is some nationalism and not quite pure liberalism (though the countries are pretty liberal.)

The big reason for 1 is: the countries are shrinking in population. Shrinking in native population doesn't really make the populace more pro-immigrant, despite what arguments about needing to import workers say.

Yes, the theory is definitely stretching the reality. the East lost most of their young people, as immigrants to the UK and Germany. It's brutal and pervasive. Older pople tend to vote more conservative, which is why it's the 'not-socialists' who form government on the promise to not reform the pensions. Never mind no one will be around to pay pensions if no immigrants are accepted, general conservativeness of the population ensures center-right political majorities.

The immigrants they would get aren’t going to be paying their pensions, they would be a net drain, as Germany has found.

Of course, there is the cultural suicide drawback as well.

Got a cite? Even the AfD would be OK, if only because their approach to reality is so clumsy that it would be easy to show where they are wrong.

And you do know that the largest block of immigrants in Germany is European, right? German only cite -

But it isn't as if the Poles, for example, don't have a history when it comes to immigrating to Germany - 'During the late 19th century rapid industrialisation in the Ruhr region attracted about 300,000 Poles, especially from East Prussia, West Prussia, Poznań, and Silesia. They comprised about 30% of the Ruhr area population by 1910. Kashubians and Masurians also came. Participants in this migration are called the Ruhr Poles.'

#1 is nonsense. As is typical with many, they conflate "democracy" with "things I like"

That seems like a crazed reading of #1. Jeff R's reading below is reasonable by me.

#1 Seems like a Thank You Captain Obvious kind of blog post, but he's right that nobody ever mentions this, probably because that could be seen as legitimizing their anti-immigration policies.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if the left chose to keep this in its pocket, should it ever prove useful to recast the major events of the 20th century - and not just 1989.

The obvious slips out of mind if it is not repeated.

#3 - Five surprising facts about the new NAFTA (USMCA) says it is unconstitutional for the US to have an export tax, and therefore it's never been done, citing the below section of the constitution. But, the escape clause is the language in bold, so I think an export tax can be applied if Congress approves? Note also the improper, ungrammatical use of "it's" by the Founding Fathers (sic!)

"No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress , lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports , except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's [sic] inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress." — United States Constitution Article I, § 10, Clause 2

You don't even have the right section of the constitution

#1: After WWI the progressive ideal was "national self-determination," as all those nationalities and ethnicities had newly become visible as the great empires which had contained them for centuries collapsed.

And after WWII, the victorious allies worked mightily to move peoples and borders so as to avoid some historical border disputes (Alcase-Lorraine, the Polish Corridor, Upper Silesia, the Sudentenland to mention just a few). Of course this produced substantial resentments, and no one attempts anything so bold and disruptive today.

Yet the purpose seemed clear enough: "Border disputes breed wars and fuzzy borders breed long-lasting resentments and conflicts, and, after two world wars, haven't we have enough?" And indeed, one doesn't hear the word "irredentism" anymore. Nor has there been a general European war.

So, Eastern Europeans may feel justified in asserting their nationality and not wish to see it threatened by demographic experiments. Indeed, Poles (for example) may well see Poland primarily as the national home of Poles and not as some Eastern European cosmopolitcan crossroads.

But in the end the root question remains: does immigration exist primarily to benefit the immigrant, or to benefit the host country? Ideally it does both, but, that hasn't always and forever been the case, has it?

The EU's position seems to be that these Eastern European countries are essentially a basket of deplorables clinging to their gods, their guns and their ethnicities in the face of the EU's superior multiculturalism, and the sooner they're brought to heel the better.

In the 1930s the states in the USA were said to be "laboratories of democracy," but in the 1950s some of these "laboratories" asserted a right to deny some of their citizens equal rights in defiance of federal authority. Thus prompting the federal government to assert superiority. Today, I'd guess there are few indeed who think the federal government was wrong to do so.

Some would hold the situation in Europe analogous, but, is it? For although the Eastern European countries have expressed an interest in controlling their future demographics are not trying to do so by denying rights to any existing citizens. And the EU is not (yet) a single federal nation, with a constitution asserting federal supremacy.

Very good comment. Just a minor point: It is only USSR among "the victorious allies" who "worked mightily to move peoples and borders".
On the territory controlled by the western allies, the principle "return to the frontiers of 1938" was universally applied (except for two small villages in the Nice's alpine hinterland that de Gaulle took from Italy, just to show its independence from Roosevelt). It is true that in Western Europe, states were already nation-states and not much had to be changes (two notable, but smallish, exceptions are Belgium and Switzerland).

#2. So basically it's like Robert Putnam and Oprah Winfrey got together and wrote a book about contemporary politics in America.

#5 - tautology?

"But in the end the root question remains: does immigration exist primarily to benefit the immigrant, or to benefit the host country? Ideally it does both, but, that hasn't always and forever been the case, has it?"

You are 100% right. That is the root of the problem. Same here in the US, and pretty much everywhere else. You can see this especially when dealing with refugees. For the left, refugees are really just another name for migrants. What really surprises me about Europe is the degree to which the WW2 trauma still plays a role. Germans are by far the most left leaning group in this regard. I speak with Germans frequently and they are pretty much open to unlimited migration, regardless of country of origin and any social status. You can already see some countries (like Nordic countries and France) walking away from such positions, but Germans are holding tight. It is a very dangerous proposition in my opinion, but I guess we will have a real life test case to look at 50 years from now.

The benefit to Germany of liberal immigration policy should be obvious when considering Germany's demographics.

That benefit being replacement? I don't know a ton of Germans but the ones I do know are concerned about immigration

Well, the German language makes a much better distinction between 'immigrant' (such as anyone from the EU moving to Germany) and 'refugee' - most (western) Germans are utterly unconcerned about immigrants from the EU, but many Germans have doubts about taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

You are clearly not talking to a representative cross-section of Germans. The national back-patting over Merkel's move to open the borders in 2015 lasted about a week before significant backlash started. That backlash has grown steadily and now the relatively new and formerly minor AfD party, for whom reducing immigration is a major theme, is the country's second largest party, having eclipsed the traditional center-left social democrats.

'is the country's second largest party'

The AfD is the third largest party, at least according to the morning's SWR news report. The Greens are the second largest party, having eclipsed the traditional center-left Social Democrats.

2. Do we really need a lengthy op-ed piece from a member of Congress? (And why does the publishing house marketing department which handle's Sasse's work come up with such witless subtitles?)

#5. So Oscar Wilde was wrong then?

In the recent years, Poland took in 2 million immigrants, mostly from the Ukraine. Currently Polish authorities try to incentivize Asians to come, because supply of Ukrainians is limited. Polish government won elections riding on antirefugee wave so all of this is even more paradoxical and weird. Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was fired when he revealed that government is secretly pro-immigration and state-controlled media keep this influx of immigrants shush shush. According to OECD's International Migration Outlook 2018 Poland is top destination for temporary migrant workers ahead of the US.

That's funny, cuz the stream of Poles to Chicago seems unabated.

Immigrants from Ukraine (Christians) or some parts of Asia are perceived as more compatible with Polish culture or easier to assimilate. It's a pretty shrewd policy.

5. "importance of artist" def.: total number of images in six art history books of paintings by that artist. Apparently this is correlated with auction prices. What does this tell us? I say: nothing. This is not an economics paper...

#6, would be nice if the Japanese were equally "introspective" about the Korean comfort women and the rape of Nanking.

Re #1 : ditto for Quebec

#1 is an odd piece in that it seems to try to explain why Eastern Europe is not "pro-immigration" in a way that draws attention to this as an exceptional character, with a complex story about ethnic homogenity and national unity as perceived there as a hard won victory.

But this is not an exceptional character at all though! The Western Europe populace neither ever saw migration as a necessary consequence of the "open society" nor wanted migration particularly much (even from the rest of Europe, let alone the world as a whole). Neither do very homogenous nation states like Japan particularly seem liable to discard that ideal, despite lacking some history of fraught ethnic heterogenity.

The leaders in Western Europe simply went mass immigration anyway. It was never the fulfillment of some different cultural path that Eastern Europe is by some exception not on. It was imposed and then cultural sanction sealed the deal.

#4 "Larger cities are also more unequal" OK, but isn't this "Dog Bites Man"?

Larger countries should have higher possible inequality than smaller countries etc. The extent of division and differing returns to labour is larger in larger markets. This is also driven by higher incomes in larger cities, rather than lower subsistence at bottom range
(compared to the country that hosts them, e.g. Rio vs Brazil, London vs England, Tokyo vs Japan).

What we really want to know is where large cities stand in relation to their inequality possibility frontier and their predicted inequality following scaling laws (where global inequality is maximum and global size is also the maximum, etc.).

Though city inequality is interesting in relation to comments about the supposed correlation between inequality and political polarization - why aren't cities more internally politically polarized? Or are they?


...and Galenson continues to write the exact same paper yet again.

Yeah, I was wondering about that. I only read the abstract, it's a reasonable hypothesis and result but isn't this what Galenson has been researching and finding for what 20 years? What is different about this paper?

I could read it to find out, but there are thousands of other papers out there, and I won't be reading most of them either.

The overall correlation between artistic merit and market value is useful to point out, as Galenson has been doing for decades. But I think the next stage of interesting research would be to look at the (seeming) exceptions and figure out where or why the market goes "wrong". (Maybe this paper does that, but the abstract didn't mention it.)

6: Nice, but Japan -- and I imagine just about every other country -- is a mixture of people and organizations following those introspective principles, and failing to follow them.

I'm thinking of a couple of infamous examples of failure to follow their own principles. The Tokaimura nuclear accident occurred when three workers were told to prepare some liquid nuclear fuel (enriched with U-235) and they ladled it from buckets into a bigger container. The container held enough fuel that it reached criticality, blasting the workers with radiation (they died soon after) and setting off what would've been a runaway nuclear reaction except the heat from the reaction turned the water into steam, which stopped the reaction (until the water cooled and then it started again).

To say that the workers were not following proper procedures is an understatement. More fundamental though is why weren't they trained in the proper procedures? That's a managerial and organizational oversight of staggering proportions; forget about learning management from Deming, that's management from the Three Stooges.

And that's the company that's running nuclear power plants in Japan.

The other example is Japan's preparation for major earthquakes. For decades, since the the 1970s, we were told (often by the Japanese themselves) that Japan was the country best-prepared for an earthquake, with sturdy construction and emergency preparations.

It actually might be. But it's certainly not as well-prepared as we (and they) thought, as the many collapsed buildings and deaths from the Kobe quake showed, and of course the Tohoku quake (and tsunami) more recently.

After each major quake the Japanese look at the damaged and destroyed buildings and say hmm, I guess our buildings weren't strong enough after all.

I guess we can say that the Japanese are learning, their buildings and preparation are presumably better now than they were prior to those big killer quakes. But the article astutely says that we learn from introspection not experience. It appears that Japan's earthquake improvements are coming from bloody experience more than introspection.

I don't mean to say that Japan is incompetent in these regards. They may indeed be the best earthquake-prepared country in the world (Chile seems to do pretty well though, even in the face of mega-quakes like the one a few years ago). Los Angeles is US city that's best-prepared for an earthquake, or just about any other civil emergency. But that's not because they're wiser or more introspective, it's because like Japan they get regular real-life experience at dealing with earthquakes, wildfires, and floods and debris flows (which is like a flash flood, but on a hillside and with dirt, mud, boulders, and other debris mixed in with the water). So they gain first-hand experience.

After each sizable quake in LA, engineers and inspectors discover that buildings and/or freeways suffered more damage than expected ("hmm I guess our buildings weren't strong enough after all"), and LA upgrades its construction requirements.

So they're no better than the Japanese in that respect. OTOH, they and the Japanese are better prepared for earthquakes than any other city in the US. Portland OR has many old historic scenic buildings in both its downtown and central neighborhoods. Many of them are of brick or unreinforced masonry construction, I like they way they look when I walk or drive by them, but I also shake my head because when the next massive Cascade Subduction Zone quake hits those buildings will kill dozens at a minimum, probably hundreds of people. You don't see those type of buildings in LA.

Portland's been upgrading its construction requirements but the politically difficult question is what to do with the existing buildings; should they be retrofitted? Landlords objected to being required to upgrade the robustness of their buildings so recently Portland (or maybe it was the regional county commission, I forget) said okay we'll grandfather your buildings with regard to safety but we'll require you to post prominent signs saying that this building is not safe in an earthquake.

The landlords are fighting even that requirement, saying that it will scare away tenants and customers.

Well yeah, if people in Portland were better-informed and experienced (like people in LA who lived through the Northridge quake and other more minor ones), they would and should be wary of those buildings.

Those signs would permit people to make an informed choice. Not everyone has had the "privilege" of living in LA during the Northridge quake and learning firsthand about the risks that different buildings impose on the people inside.

2: Anyone want to inform ol' Ben that the Dems lost the election? You can expect the hatred to flow freely and publicly until the Dems manage to win an election.

Hell, Hillary said exactly this yesterday.

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