Monday assorted links

Comments

1. It makes a lot of sense that a multiparty parliamentary system would reduce polarization. It’s harder to hate the “other party” when you never know which party will be the “other party” and which will be a potential coalition partner.

And multiparty democracies rarely have a winner take all perspective, in comparison to the one being honed in the U.S.

Yes, winner-take-all is a completely unreasonable system. If 51% of people prefer one policy and 49% of people prefer another, public policy should pretty much end up right in the middle, not with the 51% getting everything they want. That ability to accommodate minority interests is a big reason why decisions should be made in the free market rather than by government, if 51% of people like one product and 49% like another, a company will produce both, maybe just slightly more of the product that the 51% like.

@Zaua - fair points, but keep in mind some political scientist or two point out that under the American "winner-take-all" system the two sides *traditionally* split their differences and end up pretty much both adopting a middle position.

Bonus trivia: Economist Ken Arrow once pointed out that two rivals on a street will often take up the same location, next to each other, in the middle of the street rather than on the most opposite ends. Competition does that (all sellers congregate in the same area).

But the US system is not winner take all. In 18 of 26 elections since 1968, the American people have voted for divided government. I'm just hoping we make it 19 for 27 this year.

The American people don't vote for a divided government, they vote for the individuals that they wish to see in various offices and those individuals may not belong to the same party .

C'mon Ray you're better than that. Arrow was ridiculously smart, but Hotelling's 1929 paper came out when Arrow was 7-8 years old.

@alz9794 - yes, quite right, it was Hotelling 1929 not Arrow, and from p. 53-5 from http://www.math.toronto.edu/mccann/assignments/477/Hotelling29.pdf notice how close competitors are to one another has analogs, says Hotelling, with Socialism vs Capitalism, Republicans vs Democrats having the "same policies", strip malls 'all being the same', public goods vs private goods, and I would argue, patented vs unpatented goods, not to mention price discrimination and monopoly profits. Note Hotelling assumes continuous functions which does away with duopoly instability (race conditions in electrical engineering). A fascinating paper.

Vulgarian Rhapsody.

"[1] his Mom was a mentally ill psycho [2] he too is a mentally ill psycho [3] everyone is mean to him."

Do you have a better explanation for Joker than inherent psychological instability plus problems he does not know how to deal with in a health way (Cf. "inherent psychological instability")? Oh, I forgot: he is supposed to fall into a vat of toxic something something. By the way, that is the origin story of 99% of the superheroes and villains.

Hanson doesn’t say wealth inequality created the Joker, he said the Joker was created because everyone was mean to him: “ Like most low class people, Joker isn’t particularly envious of or even focused on the very rich. He says he isn’t political, and he isn’t interested in ideology. He is simply mad at most everyone for either treating him badly or allowing others to do so.”

I thought Hanson’s analysis was very insightful and on the nose. I’ve been both high and low status at different times and in different aspects of my life. When I’m high-status, I worry a lot about fairness, whether I deserve that status and am using it benevolently. When I’m low-status, sometimes I just feel like burning it all down. Of course people can and should use self-control to suppress the feeling of wanting to burn it all down, but it’s not always so easy as seen in Joker and (spoilers, though no more than in Hanson’s article) at the end of Parasite.

+1 @Zaua - there was nothing remotely controversial about Dr. Robin Hanson's piece. It was classic literature interpretation, and pretty much spot on.

1. Klein: "Because American political memory uses the 20th century as a baseline, there’s a dominant assumption that the current, high state of polarization is the aberration, and the relative comity of mid-century American politics the state of nature. But the truth is more likely the opposite: The mid-century system was weird, party polarization is natural and here to stay, and the path toward a functioning political system runs through reforming the structures of American government to work amid polarized parties."

True enough: Dixiecrats aligned with Democrats created an allusion of comity. But I'll offer another explanation: today's politicians are pikers compared to those in the past. I mean, really, Trump and McConnell are the best the Republicans have to offer. And Schumer, Sanders, and Warren are the best the Democrats have to offer. While it's true that politicians of the past weren't model citizens, they were model legislators. Most of today's politicians are just raising money to get on the nightly news and re-elected. Sadly, here is an accurate description of today's Senate: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/utter-ridiculousness-us-senate/605566/

Klein has a bigger clue, I can tell from reading.

He has figured out the small state.large state divide but will not state the cause directly. Te polarization is indicated by the sudden stops in the senate on government budget. Continuing resolutions and temporary shutdowns have increased.

Repairing the state divide implies identifying and paying for cause and effect, Klein does not want that, it is against his priors like many economists. But, fixing the divide will be costly, about a couple of hundred billion a year, a huge cost to fix a broken system.

Neither party wants to make a commitment on that cost.

But it is an easily proven expense, easily calculated. It is the subsidy cost to small states that cannot compete in scale with our national programs. We will actually have to pay the small state capitals a compensation, no economists wants to admit that problem as it means they have to use the new math (abstract tree theory).

Economists are screwed, their imaginary sting pushing programs will continue to fail unless the divide is fixed, within the constitution. That means bribing the small states. The contradiction is causing severe mental illness among our favorite economists.

Klein isn’t an economist.

The problem with Klein et al. is that he is conflating polarization with party affiliation. It's a common problem, and one not discouraged by our cultural overlords for obvious reasons. But the divide we see today isn't Democrats vs. Republicans, right vs. left, or even liberal vs. conservative. It's people who choose to ally themselves with the existing power structure versus those who find it rotten to the core. That's why Orange Man garners the sort of vitriol that the Bushes, McCain, Romney, Reagan, etc. did not, in spite of all being at least nominally Republican conservatives. Only one of these people is actively seeking to uproot the current power structure.

The president is at the top of the existing power structure. Trump’s not some Leninist revolutionary trying to overthrow the government.

Trump hasn't done one single thing to 'uproot the current power structure'. Not one. I'm curious to hear Shark's examples.

Orange Man gets the vitriol because he's a completely different entity, a completely abnormal person to have as president. Past Dem and Rep presidents were each hated plenty by the other side, but they were politicians. Normal.

Trump is sui generis (wasn't that his main appeal?). He gets unique reactions because he is unique. And obviously because he goads them and elicits them. He's a loudmouthed, norm-breaking asshole, and he is treated as such. He loves it, by the way.

Let's put it this way: if Trump had never been elected, for example, we would have never heard about Burisma. That is to say, the fact that our elected (and unelected) officials regularly send billions and billions of dollars in "aid" to shithole countries, precisely because they know they can make it disappear from there, ultimately both enriching themselves, their family members, and friends, as well as bankrolling their other "wet work", this information would have never come to light outside of a Trump presidency. Same goes for the Epstein meme. If you want to see who has the most to lose from daylight, look at who is mobilizing their foot soldiers the hardest against Trump. The fact that these foot soldiers come from the bureaucracy, from the media, from Hollywood and the universities, from "ordinary" people in your everyday life, and that in spite of their very different origins they all seem to work together so flawlessly and without internal strife, that ought to be very disturbing to you. If it's not, it may be time to reassess whether you're unwittingly one of them.

Again, if Trump had no intentions against the status quo, there wouldn't exist the fervor that exists against him.

This is not as simple as "He's an ass, so people are an ass in response to him". You don't run an impeachment literally on nothing just because a guy is a Twitter blowhard. You don't let the media burn through what little accrued capital they had left to smear a guy because he says mean things. You don't tip your hand full of deep state bureaucrats because you think a guy is a white whateverist, not that our cultural overlords actually believe that.

Trump has been causing a mass panic attack for three years and change now. It's starting to become more clear each day why, and the answer is not because he's a fascist or whatever. It's because he is peeling off the mask that keeps the average person from discovering that their world is run by cultists, sexual deviants, and/or pedophiles who use the public dime to both enrich themselves and pick apart a normal society that would otherwise vilify them.

The fervor is because he's a uniquely assholish president. He's completely random, literally a (Simpsons) joke. He invites and dishes out abuse every day. People just don't like someone like that in the WH.

They ran an impeachment on Clinton for no reason other than the Reps didn't like him.

This is a perfect description of Trump by the way: " sexual deviants...who use the public dime to both enrich themselves and pick apart a normal society that would otherwise vilify them."

It's not that complicated dude. Trump isn't changing anything, he only cares about himself. The white working class isn't seeing any decrease in deaths of despair since his election, the swamp is still there and will still be there, this is trivially obvious.

The Shark is as accurate as a laser beam.

Nah. More like a comment for Infowars than MR.

"Burisma"

Here is the problem that Trumpian populists have, a problem that prevents them from making a good argument, or even comprehending in the first place:

Name a law that was broken.

If you can't (1) you are just making up arbitrary arguments about fairness and (2) you are offering no uniform standard that may be used to judge friends and enemies alike tomorrow.

I use the law (for example "obstruction of Justice") because it doesn't have those problems. The law can be judged according to rules, and it can be used today and tomorrow.

I suppose if you think a new law could be made, that's fine, but it might be hard. You can't say "children of elected officials may not work at all." And so then you are left trying to come up with a legal definition of what jobs are "bad."

Presumably Jared kushner doing foreign policy even when he was unable to get a security clearance is "good?"

Orange Man gets the vitriol because most of our elected official and many in the swamp are corrupt and they are covering it all up by making false accusations about Trump. They are terrified that we have a president that they do not own.

Speaking of foot soldiers...

No, there is not to my knowledge a law that says elected officials can't funnel money to countries where their hilariously incompetent sons serve on corporate boards. It would be silly, in fact, to assume such a law exists, given that it would have to be created by the very people who stand to profit from the practice (and we're not just talking about Biden, but also Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney among others).

It's all so above-board, in fact, that having anyone investigate the precise arrangements is grounds for withholding aid to Ukraine (as Biden admitted he did, before he un-admitted it), although we're also told that maybe or maybe not withholding aid to Ukraine contingent on finding dirt on the arrangement (the nature of said dirt being unclear, since the entire practice is perfectly legal) is grounds for impeachment, even though the impeachment does not claim that any laws were broken in investigating it. This is all very confusing.

Of course, the easiest way for Joe Biden to avoid the appearance of impropriety (and let's be clear, this is the issue, rather than whether his arrangement was technically illegal) would be to recuse himself from any dealings with Ukraine, or at the least to follow the protocols he was asked to follow to avoid a conflict of interest. He did not of course, which was not an issue until it became a way to get to Orange Man.

We were told all along, on that note, that the election of Orange Man was A Very Bad Thing in large part because he would use the influence of his position to enrich himself and his family through his dealings with foreign leaders. Projection being a hallmark of the mental disease known as leftism, we now find out that our old veep Gropin' Joe was doing just that. Good to know now that it's not a big deal, hopefully Trump gets all those hotel deals he wanted all along, or whatever.

Between standard political dealings, getting your kids a leg up on jobs and such, and what Trump did to a sovereign nation fighting off the Russians?

Also, Trump has done plenty of nepotistic crap too most notably putting a callow rich kid real estate investor in charge of the freaking Mideast peace process (!)

And in case you have forgotten,

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/478557-gao-finds-trump-administration-broke-law-by-withholding-aid-from

The law is a standard we can all use to hold politicians, and their children, accountable.

Bonus,

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-agrees-to-shut-down-his-charity-amid-allegations-he-used-it-for-personal-and-political-benefit/2018/12/18/dd3f5030-021b-11e9-9122-82e98f91ee6f_story.html

Is that the same GOA that overlooked Obamacare spending the same money twice so it appear to save instead of cost people money? Why yes it is.

I read the GAO link, 3 times. I even dug up the B-135564, the actual section 658 a&b of foreign assistance act

https://www.gao.gov/assets/210/204258.pdf

It is unclear to me how exactly this was a violation by Trump. This section has long been a major battleground between the executive and legislative branch since at least the 70s (possibly since the 1940s).

It appears to me the whole "gotcha" was based on a technicality (ie, didn't notify the congress)??

By the way that notice requirement is routinely ignored, so the same would apply to many other presidents

@Shark Lasers - "It's people who choose to ally themselves with the existing power structure versus those who find it rotten to the core" - perhaps true, but the irony is that Trump, like Lenin, is betraying his own class for short term gains (his trademarks) and the losers that back him are probably mostly depending on the "existing power structure" for their subsistence (welfare, social security, free cheese, etc).

Bonus trivia: if you think corruption is bad in the USA, you should try living in Greece or the Philippines for a while, where the existing power and governance structures favor people who are already rich. Like me actually, lol.

Like your friend Zaua above, you seem to have confused the existing power structure with the existing power structure as it is presented to you by approved outlets. Again, this is not an issue of red vs. blue; if it were, it would play out exactly as it has before. The fact that the script has changed considerably ought to be telling.

Actually it's because Trump deserves it, and the other Republican presidents were decent fellows. But I remember Bush II being (completely unfairly) compared to Hitler and his supporters treated as pariahs in "liberal" circles.

Describing Trump as opposed to the "current power structure" only makes sense if you make the highly ideological assumption that the core of the power elite consists of mid-level bureaucrats at regulatory agencies. This group has indeed seen its power diminish under Trump.

On the other hand, how about what Eisenhower called the military industrial complex? Even though the DoD has systematically failed to produce an acceptable audit of its spending, it has been rewarded with a larded up budget. Corporate interests of various sorts have benefited from a record lack of interest from regulators and prosecutors in pursuing violations of the law. Tax cuts have disproportionately benefited the wealthy and especially wealthy real estate interests.

Despite Trump's haphazard foreign policy (which is still decidedly tilted in the direction of Saudi Arabia and Israel -- how's that for bold thinking and radical disruption?), most elected Republican officials have fallen in line precisely because Trump is not actually dismantling power structures of any significance but is instead pursuing a fairly conventional conservative domestic policy of cutting taxes and regulations while appointing Federalist Society favorites to the judiciary.

Mid-level bureaucrats aren't the core of the deep state. If they were, they wouldn't need to be mid-level bureaucrats. This doesn't even pass a basic critical thinking test, use your head. A bunch of over-educated GS-12s are getting together to run a shadow government for personal profit?

The bureaucrats are just what they are, worker bees. They're the ones who do the dirty work for the people who are running the show. All it takes to buy them is a relative pittance or some grade-school-level blackmail op. I imagine many of them are recruited for the positions because they'll do it for free just for the power trip.

If you doubt this, look at the House impeachment witnesses, LTC Bearclaw and such. These are the guys you think are the brains behind the operation yet none of them are particularly wealthy or intelligent. The so-called whistleblower is a millennial, I doubt he can even tie his own shoes. It's far more likely that their handlers came to them when Schiff et al. was setting up the job and told them they were going to jail for their part in the Ukraine scheme unless they said what they were told.

Pointing at the defense contractors makes even less sense. Protip, if you can walk through a college campus and hear your explanation for who "the man" is it's not the answer. The problem with these guys is that you do have to produce something of value, pay employees, etc. It's far more likely that the defense companies are just your garden-variety government consultants out there hustling sweetheart deals from congressmen. I'm sure that many of their C-levels are on the inside in some form or another, but they aren't making their way running a legitimate business.

Again, you guys are not doing a good enough job of reading between the lines. Trump is not being impeached because he cut taxes and appointed judges while handing blank checks to Lockheed Martin. The corporate media isn't losing their minds running hatchet jobs on him because he cut the WOTUS rule. We don't have every celebrity in Hollywood being forced to use their platform to bash Trump because he's running the Bush playbook (well, maybe the Clinton playbook) in the sandbox. This is run-of-the-mill basic bitch conservative stuff that Jeb! would have done, so the question to ask is, why the panic?

The fact that you can't see the trivially obvious is sadly expected. Partisanship makes people stupid.

Trump is one of the biggest a-holes in the world. And somehow he managed to become president. The opposition is almost entirely about this. His policies haven't been that different from the typical Republican playbook.

He's an embarrassment, he's not a leader, he's just an awful person. And this is why he's hated. Also, he invites it with his own behavior. And he loves it! It's not that difficult, Shark.

He's not fundamentally changing anything about how Washington works. He's just not supposed to be there. That's why he gets attacked like he does.

Personally, while I agree with all of this, I don't feel the same level of existential dread about it. He's a clown, not a Hitler. The checks and balances are holding. Sadly, the Dems don't have anyone great to run against him, and with a strong economy he has a very good shot of re-election.

OK, and then 4 more years of a clown show. But the Swamp is here to stay, Shark. This isn't controversial to say.

Trump is, indeed, supposed to be there. He was elected. What's more, he didn't suddenly have a change in personality when he was. He's pretty much always been like this. The outrage, as it were, is because the people didn't do what they were told. For this, of course, they must be punished.

It's interesting to me that, much like our anonymous friend above, among many other establishment hacks, you seem to be less concerned about whether our political class is enriching themselves (and worse) on the public dime, and more about mean Tweets. Interesting, but not surprising, that you want the swamp to stay right where it is.

...or what you want. It's not going anywhere, and Trump is not the least bit interested in changing it.

I always question studies of music that ignore the music. In many cases, listening to metal for the lyrics is sort of like visiting a sewer for the paintings. And even when the lyrics are important, the music can make a huge difference. Battlore, Blind Guardian, and Led Zeplin all sing about "Lord of the Rings", but I don't think we can fairly group them into one category based on the lyrics alone.

Interesting study, but necessarily incomplete in a way that I'm astonished got past a review process.

A few hours of metal really does relax and refresh me; it's someone like Cat Stevens or Melanie who might send me over the edge. I pay little attention to metal lyrics but enjoy the vague sense of menace and evil.

I don't expect much from this study, though. Metal has become too varied to get ahold of. Aside from keeping the black T-shirt industry in business, metal fans don't go out and do anything special. They just debate whether group A reminds them more of group B or group C ... Is group D melodic death metal or black symphonic metal? Was Sabbath better with Ozzie or Dio? Is Arch Enemy better with Angela or Alyssa ...

For my money: Ozzy for Black Sabbath and Tarja for Nightwish. ;)

I think part of the issue is that metal has become accepted. It's legitimized. Folks who started listening to metal as kids now have grandchildren they're introducing it to (Dad is letting his grandkids listen to Black Sabbath, for example--much to my mother's distress). Metal is still metal, but the audience has changed and the genera has changed with it. And when that happens, the younger generation has to do something to separate itself from the older.

For someone trained in taxonomy the debates are amusing. Exactly the same debates happened in biology a few hundred years ago.

For my part, I'm a symphonic/gothic/Nordic metal fan. I've always been a fan of dirges, and metal does laments surprisingly well. And let's face it, Norse mythology may as well have been written by a metalhead--one of their legends is "Thor goes on a beer run, nearly destroys the world multiple times".

Progressive and melodic death here. Be'lakor, Arch Enemy, Fractal Gates etc., much respect for old-schoolers Lizzie Borden, Dio and Accept.

Metalheads do relish their rebellious reputation but it's funny, considering metal is the most literate and complex rock genre, with a big overlap of classical fans and performers. It also adopted the progressive, symphonic form when groups like Genesis and Renaissance ran out of steam.

Vocals are the weak link, so I just process the singer as another instrument in the mix and don't focus on lyrics. A well-turned phrase here and there is sufficient to communicate doom, gloom, alienation and dysfunction.

BTW I just saw Amon Amarth, maybe one of your faves. They're easy to like but it would be fun to study fans of a group whose every single song for 20 freaking years is about Viking gods and warriors, Thor's Hammer, Odin's mighty whatever and so on

Not a favorite but I definitely enjoy them!

I agree with everything you say about metal, and would only add that it is the most passionate form of music as well. I don’t think anyone listens to metal lightly. I may not like what a particular song is passionate about, but I have never heard a metal song that was just meh.

Fun anecdote: my mother hates metal, and used to argue that it had no redeeming value. After listening to “Nightfall on Middle-Earth” and hearing about Jag Panzer and Hammerfall, she had to reconsider. Still hates it, but respects the fact that the rest of the family loves it. A three-way argument that includes Shakespeare, Aristotle, Bulfinch, Poe, the Bible, and Epictetus tends to convince people that you know what you’re talking about.

I consider some classical composers metal. Pointing out that Bach was more metal than Ozzy did NOT earn me the goodwill of my Catholic school (nun) music teacher, though she admitted that it was true!

I'm a longtime opera-goer but I've come around to thinking music would be better off without words. Words particularize too much. The opera is about some king in 1600? Why would I care? Charles Rosen, the pianist and musicologist, noted that music needed words early on to contribute drama. Then along came sonata form, where harmonic tensions could provide drama without words and purely instrumental music came into its own. But lyrics live on, and in popular music tend to overwhelm the (often thin) music.

I like some lyrics. The interplay between music and lyrics can, in the hands of a skilled artist, be sublime—whether or not one knows the language (for my part I hold Enya as the best example of this). The problem with pop music is that the lyrics are bad.

#5: "Extra security was even added to watch for violence at Joker screenings; no such security was considered for Parasite."

Which sites are attacked by shooters? Places full of people such as Batman movie screenings, country music concerts or WalMarts. Which movie cinema is going to be packed? The one showing Joker or Parasite? Police deployment is not about "a style designed to appeal to low class sensibilities" but simply where more people is packed in a confined space.

Robin Hanson is losing his ability to think clearly. A good friend should disconnect him from the internet :/ The guy cannot see anymore that security deployment is done based on practical and not political reasons.

I'd argue that the reason police were deployed had little to do with practical reasons, and much more to do with emotional ones.

Aurora, or any mass shooting, has far too low of a frequency to be able to predict with "security deployments". What happened with Joker was mostly security theater.

It was widely mis-reported that the Aurora shooter was inspired by the Joker.

Put in the shoes of a backwater sheriff. Pretending you're doing something is a practical decision.

Joker wasn't the most popular superhero movie of the decade. It was Avengers: Endgame (which I think actually was the most popular movie of all time). Yet people were much more nervous about security risks at Joker. So it clearly isn't just about how many people are seeing the movie, it's also about the content of the movie itself, and how Joker is supposedly more likely to inspire violence than other movies.

I think the concept of movies inspiring violence is pretty exaggerated myself, and even the risks of shooters attacking movie theaters simply because a lot of people gather there is also a bit overblown, considering that movie theaters are vastly declining in popularity due to the rise of Netflix and such.

The overwhelming majority of movie showings do not receive additional security.

Hanson’s comments are borderline bizarre.
Which critics are suggesting that the killings in Parasite are ‘justified’ ?
It’s a black comedy.
Decent interview with the director here:
https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/10/bong-joon-ho-parasite-interview/600007/

#2 - "2. Joshua Gans honors Clay Christensen." - wow, the eulogy was badly written. The prose is awful. Check it out and see if you agree. Sample: "I had seen Clay speak once before. It was in awe [sic, missing "and it was in awe"]. I was writing my book and disagreed with most of what he was saying but [sic] the way he said it. "

And this guy teaches? OK. EOFL maybe? Also interesting besides the bad prose is how colleagues feud (the Christensen critic refused to meet him despite teaching in the same university). Sounds like economics professors.

Question for the class: how do you square Great Stagnation with Disruption and Creative Destruction?

He definitely has an unusual writing style. His lack of commas reminds me a bit of avant-garde modern poetry, but given his background, I doubt that's his intention.

My elderly mother spends her free time feeding the birds and squirrels in her backyard. She adores these animals, and they adore her back. If I am so fortunate as to outlive my mother, it would be very appropriate for her grave to include a bird feeder or similar. Yet I bet this would be against cemetery policy.

Maybe savage animals should procure their own food.

My somewhat dark take on this is that many of the European countries in question, such as the Germans, seem to become more polarized towards low affect towards the United States, rather than any political parties within country.

In the US, “the timing of the introduction of Fox News appears roughly consistent with the acceleration of the growth in affective polarization during the 1990s.” Hmm.

^^ Says the founder of JournoList.

Wait. That's weird. Why is the founder of JournoList publishing a book about political polarization?

...the path toward a functioning political system runs through reforming the structures of American government to work amid polarized parties.

Oh!

The founding and success of Fox is endogenous.

1. It is confusing to me how people constantly bemoan the US two-party system as promoting polarization. Our election campaigns might be polarized (and I agree that this is bad) but at the end of the day I do not see the output of the legislative process from DC as being particularly polarized.

If the _output_ of the political process was polarized, then I would expect abortion to be criminalized before Trump leaves office, and then I would expect a blanket amnesty for anyone arrested for marijuana by the end of the next one. Or whatever policies. The point being, if things were so polarized, I would expect dramatically different outcomes when different parties are in charge.

Instead, we see.... basically no change. For almost every policy that is even remotely controversial, we see remarkable continuity between administrations. In fact, this is a whole genre of political reporting in 2020: "Look at this horrible thing that Trump is doing... SURPRISE it was Obama's policy, Trump just kept doing it"

As best I can tell, the people who advocate for PR are just mad that US elections are undignified. The polarization they want to avoid isn't the polarization of our government, but rather of our culture. They don't like how everyone self-segregates on party lines in their personal lives.

But the thing is, you don't need to tear apart the current electoral process to do that. You could just.... _not_ be an asshole to people who disagree with you.

The fact that Klein thinks that this problem is so big that we should fundamentally change our electoral process, but doesn't think the problem is big enough that he should stop being an asshole to Republicans voluntarily, speaks volumes

In these culturally polarized times, you have a bit of a prisoners dilemma. Why should Dems like Klein stop being assholes to Reps if he knows they won't reciprocate? And vice versa of course.

The problem that is unique to our times is indeed cultural. It used to be no big deal if your friend or loved one or neighbor voted differently than you. There was a sense that while the other party may not do things the way you'd like, both parties wanted America to thrive, all of it not just their tribe. Now it's all about hitting the other team. It started down this road with the Clinton impeachment IMO.

People self segregate so much now. Red staters literally would die before moving to a blue city. Blue coastals the same before moving to the sticks. So much identity is tied up in the stupidest thing, who you vote for every 4 years.

"So much identity is tied up in the stupidest thing, who you vote for every 4 years."

There's 90% of the problem. We think of politics in terms of the president, and that's about as far as most people take it. I don't know many people who know who their senators or Representatives are, and I know fewer who know who's on their town council. If your focus is local, it's hard to be polarized--you quickly realize that everyone is trying their best, and if things get bad enough you move. Even at the state level there's a level of interaction that forces you to admit that the other side isn't completely insane. You learn there's a give and take, and that not all of the other side's ideas are bad. Less of a package deal. But if your idea of politics is voting for a single office holder, it's really easy to fall into an all-or-nothing mentality--you either won or lost, full stop, and EVERY policy choice is on the line.

Exactly my point. It's not even politics anymore, it's pure tribal signalling.

I question whether being an asshole actually accomplishes anything; I don’t think giving that up would really cost one’s ‘side;’ rather people insist on reciprocating hostility for emotional rather than strategic reasons, imo. Unilateral de-escalation probably would induce ‘the other side’ to calm down, even though it’s universally believed that ‘the other side will behave horrible no matter what we do,’ I think that’s just an excuse rationalize one’s own side’s behavior. Most people do habitually adjust their temperament to social circumstances.

On the subject of polarization in Australia - my take is that society is much more polarised than it used to be, but the polarization is not reflected directly in the political party's positions. The polarization is instead manifesting internally in the parties and in unstable leadership of the party in power.

That's an interesting take.

As an Australian the lack of change seemed about right. The hate toward Howard / Abbott / Morrisson on the left was pretty consistent as was the hate toward the Greens from the right.

As you say the parties haven't shifted that much while there has been leadership change. But this is perhaps just due to Rudd's surprise win and the ALP machine knifing him and the changes that also wound up bringing in with the Libs.

The one that seems weird is Germany. Germany now has 'Die Linke' with former Communists and various Marxists in one part and the AfD on the right with the SPD having been greatly reduced in strength. Surely they are more polarised now?

It is weird because East Germany is weird. In East Germany, many voters feel that the AfD or the Linke are not all that different and will vote for either party interchangeably, something that is fairly incomprehensible outside of East Germany.

I do hear the hate on the greens so much, but they're not in power so I think it doesn't play out in the greens. And I also hear the hate on Howard / Abbott / Morrison, but that's generally been much more issue focused - immigration and the environment. But I don't hang out with the labor left - my social circles are either conservative country or progressive professionals.

#1...This polarization meme is getting out of hand. I grew up in a very conservative small farming town in the Central Valley of California, then went to college at Berkeley and lived there for 33 years. The main difference between both places was the climate and number of things to do. Neither place was so homogenous as to seem like the Amish. On the contrary, the people in both places were recognizably American, and actually quite diverse. Urban life has always seemed a bit crowded and overwhelming, so I do feel a difference between the communities, but I pretty much went about my business in both places. The main shock came in going from my high school to college, which was, just in the first year, very tough.

1. Heh. Maybe if people like Ezra Klein stopped being Ezra Klein there would be less polarization. I suspect he is making this argument simply because his side is losing. Polarization is bad when I lose the argument. It is great when I win.

I'm not surprised to see Canada and Australia seeing an increase in polarization. Every federal election that I can remember had one or more parties campaigning on shutting down the Alberta and Saskatchewan economies. Oddly that creates resentment and polarization in politics.

4. Your animal can graze... for a fee. Otherwise, that is what the fence is for.

4. That would save on the burial costs. Just have to clean up the bones from time to time.

Bearded vultures?

Meh. Perhaps party polarization is the wrong thing to measure. The GOP rank-and-file completely dumped the establishment and voted for Trump in 2016.

Sanders may capture the 2020 nomination for the Donks, and yet many Trump supporters like Sanders.

Due to globalization, labor shares of income are declining globally. This probably aggravates racial, religious, ethnic, and sectarian tensions.

Notice that in every nation, globalization is not a populist position.

This problem of declining labor shares of income is aggravated by Rising housing prices in many nations, mostly due to property zoning but sometimes due to capital inflows born of large current-account trade deficits.

We may see Sanders vs Trump in 2020 and yet we may see the rank-and-file of both candidates not so angry at each other.

It is clear from fivethirtyeight.com that the recent polarization between the DEM and REP on average is mainly due to education attainment. However the scale of the polarization is reasonably large that it is more than just involving the outliers of both camps.

https://www.economist.com/democracy-in-america/2012/05/21/the-big-sort
"Personality and polarisation: The big sort"

The Big5 Openness trait is a measure of transparency, inclusiveness and collaboration. If the relationship between IQ and B5Openess is overall linear, then only one group giving most of the pot shots while the other side might just ignore them. Only when the relationship is nonlinear, e.g. having an inverted V or U shape, that there be active opposition from both camps.

On first glance there appears to be no overall correlation between IQ and B5Openness. However on closer inspection from the residue analysis there appears to be an statistically significant inverted V relationship with a break point at about IQ=90. It is interesting that both GBR and HKG are on the extreme right indicating non-inclusiveness. For GBR it is that the elites prefer inclusiveness with the EU rather than the local Brexiters. It is also no surprise that Belgium as an outlier with high national average IQ and B5Openess with Brussels as the center of EU.

https://i.ibb.co/nbSWVk3/iqope.png

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