Monday assorted links


'speaks to veganism'? - a man who died two centuries before the term 'vegan' was coined is speaking how? From beyond the grave?

'Such tractable animals as are unfit for labours, must make compensation to men for their defence and protection some other way, since their support too requires much human labour; as they must have pastures cleared of wood, and be defended from savage creatures. Men must be compensated by their milk, wool, or hair, otherwise they could not afford them so much of their care and labour.' And that reads like the justification of someone in a position to make an offer that cannot be refused.

I'm a CUCK

The key three words are "much human labor".

"Paying workers costs too much" is a fundamental econnomic policy of Trump. In his private like he has a history of refusing to pay workers, or doing everything he can to pay workers less.

And his public policy, he's unwilling to maintain the supply of people willing and able to kill and chop up animals, and US born citizens have been taught guns are only to kill people, not animals for eating.

Which the gun industry sees as a far bigger market than the gun market for hunters which requires highly skilled gun users, capable of observation, patience, and the skill to chop up animals once the gun skill succeeds.

Factory produced food, using lots of human constructed capital, eg, vats operated by robots using chemistry and biology designed by workers paid to be impatient and experiment endlessly and respond positively to failure, which they will experience in a random walk evolution to something that substitutes for animal meat that requires "much human labor".

Of course, ghis applies to food that is groswn in dirt exposed to the environment. Nature is so vast and is defined by millions of organism that are impatient and try to reproduct even when faced with barriers to entry, like pesticides and antibiotics, and they too by random walk evolve to being immune to all the chemicals and biologics Monsanto, Bayer, et al sell at great profit to farmers to dump on the land growing food.

Thus, the need foor growing food in factories where the environment can be controlled to the point that evolution is thwarted by periodic total extinction of all biology by chemical or fire denaturing, so humans can introduce into this sterile environment the chemicals and biology to make food that robots can tend, package, and ship to humans to eat.

After all, paying workers cost too much and kills jobs.

Paying workers to weed costs too much so dumping chemicals kills the jobs of field workers. And cheaper food means you can eat two big macs per day for the same labor as before, due to cheaper lettuce, tomato, grain to feed cattle. Cattle that grow faster and with fewer skilled workers thanks to dosing them with antibiotics.

The future is food produced under patent protection with machines builtt and paid for by non-US workers using chemistry developed by workers who are as likely to be in Japan, Germany, or China as the US.

Then who cares what is done to the land and waters? Or what evolves to live there?

What? Timmy fell down the well?

If the point is that humans have benefited from animal exploitation throughout our evolution, then it is difficult to disagree. However, we happen to be alive during a unique time in our history. Beasts of burden have been replaced by machines, we are dying of obesity instead of starvation, and animals are raised in factories instead of family farms. It’s not inherently unethical to eat animals; it just happens that we no longer need to. The quote dates back to an era when nobody could have foreseen our current reality.

#1 For me it's a bit simpler than that. With the exception of very few, domesticated 'food' animals would not exist in their current form without us. Yes. We 'own' them. We made them for us, to be eaten, and to make more of. The calorie benefits to us early in our history and to our later processes by being omnivorous have never gone away. And they won't for quite some time.

#5 So...not too different than most of Latin America. Thanks. Got it.

By "us", you mean everyone but yourself?

Ie, do you tend cattle from birth to maturity, caring for every aspect of their health, and then kill them and chop them up, so you can eat them?

In Adam Smith's day, "much human labor" was understood to be the cost equal to the benefit of eating meat. Zero sum. Consumption equals labo; cost plus benefit is zero.

If you want lower costs, don't eat meat. Meat requires you pay "much human labor" if you don't do all the work personally.

I hunt. I also trap. I also eat beef and pork bought from the store. I paid someone for the rifle I use to hunt and I paid someone for 'much human labor' to kill it and process it for me.

I don't want lower costs. Meat is expensive, so expensive in fact, that the miracle of modern agriculture has lowered its cost to quite possibly the lowest it has ever been in human history as well as its availability to every single class and caste on earth.

Did French 18th century peasants eat meat? They ate carp, fished from French rivers with their own hands? Was that expensive 'human labor' or cheap 'human labor'? Millions of people now do it for fun, but they still 'do it themselves'.

There is absolutely, positively nothing morally wrong about paying anyone to birth, raise, feed, husband, slaughter, process, package, wholesale, and then retail an animal. And certainly nothing economically wrong with it either.

1 -"Hello, Broccoli."

5. Possibly correlated to the policy of such networks to hire woman talking heads based on bra size. Not that I'm complaining. Better to hear lies from a big-breasted woman.

5. “Across multiple studies, we find that access to Spanish‐language television is associated with decreases in turnout, ethnic civic participation, and political knowledge.”

But Spanish speakers are more likely to be accustomed to Spanish law traditions. Most of the Spanish colonies have become filed states.

#5 It is not that simple.

Portuguese is a dialect of Spanish so it is no wonder those countries like Brazil suffer the same fate.

Not at all. Actually, according tomscients, Brazilian Portuguese is much more faithful to Latin's inspiration than any other language.

#3: Why then do we complain so much about big business, via words, taxes, regulations, and a low political influence? Because just by being big, having money, and seeking money, big business violates ancient forager norms against inegalitarian distribution, overt selfishness, and especially against overtly selfish efforts to achieve unequal dominance. (Money is seen a power to dominate).

+1 for Mr. Hanson.

Isn't envy a better explanation? It is the catalyst for our feelings and our mind makes up a narrative to support those feelings.

I don't know who invented the Ten Commandments, but "Thou shall not covet" was a good one. Few people pay much attention though.

3. Corporate rock still sucks.

(1): Things have changed and there are now economic as well as moral arguments for reducing your usage of animal products.

Population is now large enough that our impacts cannot be ignored as they could before. Whether as pets or food, animals increase your resource usage. Beyond the inherent inefficiency of animal calories, consumer demand for animal products has trashed a significant fraction of the land and sea.
Meanwhile, our need for concentrated winter-available calories has dropped dramatically as it is cheap to ship and refrigerate food from sunnier climates.
And our dependence on animal slaves for power is a small fraction of what it was three hundred years ago.
Maybe the moral argument still holds water (it reminds me of social darwinism, but whatever), but the social cost/benefit of reducing animal usage has changed dramatically since then.

Also, it's Francis not Frances.

Smith would never have forgotten the proper spelling.

That's all fair enough as an argument (I believe it, but don't have any real stance of expertise to justify it, mainly on the risk of not believing if true+general consensus outweighs risk of believing if false).

But how do we transform the food system so that plant based production is economically more efficient and not just ecologically more efficient? It's obviously the case that nutritious, tasty and saleable animal based foods are cheaper to produce in today's environment, or there wouldn't be so much produced once income levels allow. There has yet to be a good way to implement this without just shifting the problem around.

Plant based production is economically more efficient for generating nutrients. When income levels increase, more animal based foods are produced for the relative luxury of taste.

I'm not sure that's the case for proteins.

As long as the traditional meat animals in the US are being fed with crops grown on land that could have grown grains and legumes for direct human consumption the meat protein costs more than the grain/legume protein.

Each November our Adirondacks, NYS hunt club hires a teamster and his two Belgians (large, draft horses) to haul our wagon (a converted manure spreader) over six miles of rugged, old logging road (about six feet wide) to the "forever wild" (no wheeled vehicles allowed) forest area the club has hunted since 1932. Two years, when we couldn't use the man, we hired a teamster with two Percherons - taller horses.

There is some demand for draft horse teams among land owners that want to selectively log their properties without cutting roads through them.

"consumer demand for animal products has trashed a significant fraction of the land and sea." I disagree. Is there anything more beautiful than a deep green pasture closed by a wooden barrier with cows peacefully grazing small flowers and grass? In comparison fields where plants grow are very dull, especially things like soy, corn, sunflower, etc. Only wheat may be very beautiful (in late spring-summer), and vine. And the rest of our use of land is often even worse : roads, parking, cheap housing, factories, resorts, etc.

1. Fair enough for the 1700's, but work animals and meat have been made obsolescent by modern technology.

No, they haven't. Brazil is the biggest halal meat producer in the world.

In this usage, I believe "halal meat" refers to a woman's penis

#4: Lamarckian evolution would be much faster than Darwinian. As such, it would be a strong counter-argument to the intelligent-design crowd.

Right, that explains the punctured equilibrium of evolution, and would solve the problem without resorting to such tricks as arguing genetic drift. #4 is not all all speculative, not even controversial.

Bonus trivia: years ago in on Usenet I got into a long thread about Neo-Lamarckianism evolution, which is shown in cichlid fishes in Lake Tanganyika, arguably, who pick the color of their mate based on seemingly random or 'fashionable' colors which persist through the generations (until it falls out of fashion) for seemingly no particular evolutionary reason (such as camouflage, e.g. Darwin's moth). Though you could argue the fishes are following the fashionable school of 'monkey see, monkey do' so it's environment.

I am not sure that is my interpretation. The threat of the finding that changes in environmental conditions can trigger genetic changes that are not random mutations is actually a threat to the original Darwinian conception of evolution much more so than the Intelligent Design people. They can always claim that God designed a being that would respond biologically to change. After all, the ID people are not unsophisticated rubes like the Young Earth creationists and have some legitimate criticisms of the Darwinian position.

I recall a lecture at New College, University of Tronto, not Oxford, at which many angry Darwinian fundamentalists attacked his theory of punctuated equilibria which postulates long periods of nothing much happening punctuated by periods of rapid evolutionary change by saying that it was an optical illusion. But punctuated equilibrium and all, Gould was still a Darwinian. I think that even at that time Gould was thinking about his thought experiment in which he claims that if the ‘tape of evolution’ were rerun from the Cambrian once again, we might see a world that was dominated by a very different groups organisms and stressing the randomness of survivaL. For him, there was an evolutionary lottery that was responsible for 'progress' and made the notion of an equivalent of the 'Whig theory of history' impossible in biology.

That having been said, the evolutionists are in much trouble as the Intelligent Design people at this time and both seem to depend on a leap of faith for which there is no solid objective evidence or even sound coherent theory.

#7 These are difficult to weight
1. How much does poverty cause poor health?
2. How much does poor health cause poverty?
3. How much does something else causes both poverty and poor health?

Are the people in Singapore similar to USAers?

I think 1 is wildly overstated. Or at least the pathways by which poverty leads to poor health is not as direct as inability to access healthcare. It's more likely that poverty leads to depression, which leads to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and drug and alcohol abuse. Providing access to medical care won't solve the underlying problem in those cases. Access to medical care really has little effect on the underlying lifestyle factors that cause most of our health problems. So you're not going to improve health by expanding access to healthcare. What's more likely to work is alleviating poverty via economic growth and lowering costs of basic necessities, especially housing.

Globally, the leading cause of abject poverty are crappy governments that refuse to allow the formation of strong property rights, consistent legal systems, and intermediary organizations not under centralized control. Africa, after all, was wealthier in the colonial period than Asia and remained so until the 1980s. ZImbabwe, for instance entered a long slow slide in economic performance in 1980 and only pulled out in 2007 when they dollarized the economy and began having some semblance of property rights. Pretty much everywhere that allows for stable rules and property rights has watched every measure of poverty decline over the last two decades. Venezuela meanwhile went the opposite direction by moving from a regime with reasonably strong property rights to the standard socialist confiscatoriate. This is why the average Venezuelan starved for part of last year.

Within the US, well poverty is most commonly "caused" by joblessness. At the current time that means people who are unable to perform even the most basic tasks reliably.

Of the poorest Americans, mental health is a huge issue. I would hazard a guess that most have at least one serious diagnosis. The problem is that they refuse treatment sufficient to let them live out of poverty and it is abysmally hard to medicate the delusional and psychotic.

Does poverty cause poor health? Not too directly. Poor people purchase more crappy food, smoke more, drink to excess more, and use more drugs - etc. In the main, though, if you are willing to radically change your life, any poor adult who can follow directions will normally be able to secure the resources to move out of grinding poverty and live a globally affluent life.

#3 is the real kicker in the US.

Doing drugs makes you a less reliable employee. It also gives you Hep A, Hep B, and Hep C on average. And then of course, drugs a fiendishly expensive long term vice. A lifetime worth of smoking at a pack day is the better part of a million bucks. Most of the poor drinkers I treat have alcohol budgets that are greater than their food budgets.

Likewise, doing poorly in school makes it harder to get employment. And it makes it harder for patients to adequately gauge risks (e.g. eating healthy is vastly harder when you are functionally illiterate) or comply with treatment.

Even more insidiously being poor tends to mean that your social contacts are also poor. You baseline deviates downward. People in absolutely terrible health who don't do drugs, don't have STIs, eat fast food only once a day, walk a mile or two a week, have diabetes "controlled" by medications, and only drink 15 or so beers a week think they are healthy. Their BMI, liver enzymes, and lipids are 50% above the upper limit of normal. They all know dozens of friends and family members who are worse in every health metric. So even when they try to "be healthy" their sense of "healthy" is so woefully out of calibration that they barely scratch the surface. Worse, bad habits, like cycling debt or keeping terrible hours and stress eating are normalized as well.

For better or worse, we do tend to trend towards those we know, love, and respect. Being poor does not force people to give up exercise. It does not force people to eat poorly ... but it makes all those and other decisions far more likely to be decided in an unhealthy manner.

You'll be blamed for "blaming the victim".

I often visit a financial forum where people seek advice. From time to time some poor soul reports a scam that he's fallen for. Often he's a mug who, I fear, has no non-mug friends or family who could have told him how to invest more wisely. It's a similar problem, isn't it?

To what extent is addiction a biochemical phenomenon? To what extent is the potential for addiction hereditary or primed by prenatal influences? I have a very low potential for addiction, but I assume that is one area in which I won in the genetic lottery.

#3..."Yet in the end Cowen wants to warn us that all this good stuff is an illusion covering an incurably selfish core. His whole picture seems greatly at odds with the view I elaborate in my book The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life: that we humans are similarly selfish at core and yet induced to act and look good by our social context and incentives. As friends, we may not consciously consider “each and every time of exactly how much reciprocity is needed”, but unconsciously we very much consider such things. I say that big business is no more essentially selfish than are ordinary humans, and that Cowen has offered no evidence to the contrary."

The a good book.

I kept staring at this blue sign. The clouds made a smoke ring. I looked around and I swear, everyone was tasting salt, all five of us, abysmally sharp, recondite, unrecognizable, and that was that.”
“What was it?” Tom said, raising his cigar.
“The size, the size of the shoe.” I looked above him. “Back then, before now, as it happens, I wasn’t sure of the fit.” I said.
“What about its fitness?” he said.
“Look, everything’s got an end,” I said.
“But the rubber,” he said, “that’s what burns.”
Sara came and put her hand on Tom’s neck. “Goodnight Augustin,” she said, blind as bat.
We smoked for a while, the sky’s bowl lit by touch--a wavy darkness of a stone’s throw. I pulled my necklace up around my face and held the leather band. “Back when I couldn’t imagine it. I mean anything. A tattoo, jewelry, even the clothes. But I bought this in Colorado.”
He took the square cross by his thumb. “Why don’t you try the casino tomorrow.”

If you buy the third-to-last sentence in #1, you don't need the rest. It says: The animals with reason and reflection are capable of higher happiness or misery than the others; so the interests of animals as a whole require that the superior animals should be preserved and multiplied, even at the cost of reducing the numbers of inferior animals.

#7: Cursory googling reveals that the US spends 17.9% of GDP on healthcare. Singapore appears to spend 4.9%.


Nothing should be written about Singapore's healthcare spend:GDP without first reading Random Critical Analysis on the relationship of healthcare consumption to actual individual consumption -

In short, Singaporean has really low consumption relative to GDP. Financialization makes up much of that GDP, rather more dramatically than in even Ireland and Lux.

Singaporean healthcare consumption is then about what you'd expect for their consumption level, on the lower end but not a major outlier.

No massive efficiency edge on healthcare consumption is evident in their consumption data, there's just not a lot of total economic activity in Singapore going on in consumption, compared to what you'd expect from the headline GDP figure and a country like the US (slightly above trend in consumption as % gdp).

Singaporean healthcare may become more difficult in the future, given Japan like age demographic issues -

But their historically low smoking rates / drug use / obesity compared to the US will probably help them, as is noted.

Re: ethnic media

I'd be curious if there was a way to replicate similar trends with various Asian language media or even past European media in the US.

Additionally one wonders if the negative effect on voting is that those who are tuned into Spanish-language media are more likely to be socially conservative/fiscally liberal and thus fit poorly into the American mainstream.

Lastly, given the rapid English acquisition, I'm curious if this is a lasting trend or a blip.

#7..."Primary care, which is mostly at low cost, is provided mostly by the private sector. About 80 percent of Singaporeans get such care from about 1,700 general practitioners. The rest use a system of 18 polyclinics run by the government."

This is similar to a plan I like adapted from Milton Friedman in which we divide up health services into that which can and that which cannot be reasonably shopped. No matter. We don't do low cost health care here. Too many powerful vested parties at the table.

So who do you want to fire?

Excluding all other costs (i.e. drugs, capital), US healthcare personnel costs are higher than most countries total health care expenditures. This is because we hire more people to do more things in the US. For instance, in California it is illegal to staff patients with nursing ratios of greater than 1 nurse : 6 patients (average is in the 1:4 - 1:5 range). In the Netherlands, for instance, the average is 1:10. In the UK the average is around 1:8.

And it gets worse for other staffing areas. Respiratory and speech therapy carry far higher loads in the rest of the world. And it is even worse on the admin side.

American medicine is dominated by labor costs and the vast bulk of those are the very wide pyramid at the bottom. Reducing costs without firing many people is basically going to be impossible.

How many people working in healthcare are actual caregivers as opposed to ancillary personnel? Yes, some of those are needed, but do we really need so many people in those non-care roles?

Singapore is 1/10,000th the size of US.

Sorry, correct in area, I was thinking population.

But what's the point? Are you claiming our high health care cost is explained by low population density?

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