Thursday assorted links

Comments

#7) "six indicators that define the middle class: having one’s own home, a car or two in the carport, taking a family vacation every year, sending kids to college, and having some retirement savings."

Consider two families: (A) Dad is a foreman for a construction company, Mom is a secretary, and Junior enlisted in the military this year after graduating from high school. They did not go on vacation last year because Junior played baseball all summer. (B) Family on food stamps. Most would consider (A) to be middle class but maybe not (B). Perhaps, a better indicator of middle class are those not dependent on government assistance for food, housing, and other basic living expenses. Maybe, the middle class would be declining under that definition as well. But, welfare (non-)dependency seems to be a much better indicator than specific consumption choices, at least to someone that was not part of the White House and Administration in 2010.

Oops, obviously comment is about #6.

Eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 are indicators of poverty. If lack of eligibility for these defines one as middle class, we are simply defining "middle class" to mean "not poor."

And, of course, plenty of government assistance comes in the form of direct cash assistance via the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Social Security. These benefit a broader group of people and it's not clear how these forms of government assistance affect your definition.

Nowadays "middle class" includes what used to be called "working class." As you say, it merely excludes the poor. So what are we to call the former "middle class"?

I forgot about subsidized school lunches and student loans, which are food and education subsidies that reach into the "middle class."

neither rich nor poor is not a bad definition of middle class.

Isn’t the real objection to growing underclasses? That would precisely be captured by welfare dependence

Another advantage of your proposal is that it properly defines most NYC dwellers as middle/upper class despite stereotypically renting and lacking personal automobiles.

Deirdre would have made a good mum if she had been born a lady.

How rude of you to not support the delusion.

Like, what are you getting out of this? Does her gender situation scare you so much you have to make fun of it? Are you just feeling the need to remind everyone here you are a bigoted social conservative? Do you think this is clever or funny?

I'm genuinely curious because I can't figure out why anyone would post something so stupid and mean. What's the upside?

This was covered (so to speak) in the Emperor’s New Clothes. Your response to the obvious being pointed out? How dare you!

Perhaps the reason is to trigger people like you.

Rich is childish like that.

Chauncey's point, as I see it, was innocently to praise Deirdre's admirable mum characteristics while noting that "her" equally admirable diamond-hard male characteristics somewhat tend to dilute the mum effect.

2. WHO has epidemiologists that can't code so it makes sense the World Bank gets economists that can't spreadsheet.

Who says that the spreadsheet result as initially presented (and amplified by all the anti-deficit fans that have gone so conspicuously quite since 2016) was a mistake?

Go where the narrative takes you, it is the way to rise to the top of the economics ladder.

“Half of the vaccines that have already gone into clinical trials were discovered by Chinese companies.”

America not only doesn't make anything anymore, it's falling behind on R&D. No wonder Trump is drunk on hydroxychloroquine.

https://www.npr.org/2020/05/19/858977817/china-leads-the-worldwide-race-to-develop-a-covid-19-vaccine

Way back when, Tom Friedman wanted us to notice the number of college degrees being produced in China.

"No no" people said, "Those aren't real college degrees."

But you know, let's keep on making sure that our educational system is optimized for maximum loan volume.

“People are saying...” “People said”

You’re becoming your mirror image

You claim you are not old, so for reference when Friedman wrote The World is Flat he cited big numbers for graduations in China. Push back by his reviewers included the criticism that many Chinese universities would not be recognized as such in the US. That their certificates were not equivalent to our Bachelor's.

Perhaps to some degree that was true, but I think to a large degree it was just that people didn't want to accept that hundreds of thousands of people were graduating with the STEM degrees.

For a more complete picture, I think you have to consider how many of the top Chinese were educated in the US.

A fraction, but from what I remember of those days and those criticisms, there were multiple tiers of universities within China as well.

Another thing we might not have been prepared for was at the top tier would become excellent.

More so as we scare top tier students back to China.

“People are saying...” “People said..”

Trumpian

You can lead a troll to water but you can't make him think.

Google "Tom Friedman numbers gap"

I should say big numbers for graduations in China and India.

I'm not sure I have the energy to go back and reread The World is Flat (2005), but it might be one of those sad cases where the author became universally reviled for telling the truth.

I missed on that one, my first answer should have been:

"Vaccines? It's all signaling!"

“People have been saying”

“Half of the vaccines that have already gone into clinical trials were discovered by Chinese companies.”

America not only doesn't make anything anymore, it's falling behind on R&D. "

Well I suppose Europe isn't even worth mentioning then.

Europe is clearly a declining trade block. I can understand why the Brits wanted free agency.

This was “all hands on deck” for people in China a month or two before anywhere else (and there are more people in China than the US and Europe combined) so it’s not surprising that they’d also be at the forefront of vaccine development.

Yes. China knew about the virus earlier than anyone (second was presumably Taiwan’s spy agency) and China is an authoritarian state where the CCP can command many science teams to work on x or y.

Communist command economics (of which China still has a good part) does like those Stakhonovite metrics - "3000% steel production! 500% concrete! 700% vaccines!".

We'll have to wait and see how many have scientific merit and efficacy.

Janet Napolitano's new race based admissions tests for the University of California is our elite's ploy to have all Asian citizens and residents emigrate back to their countries of origin.

Can't wait to see what kind of asinine World Bank scandal gets Carmen Reinhart the boot.

#4...Very Good. #6...People decide for themselves how things are going and where they are. Pointing to figures from an economic analysis is not going to move people. Personally, I think we can do better within the bounds of the system we now have, and, in any event, the others are proven disasters.

6. Also did that study track people over time?

Or is it another one of those take a given population in 1988 and compare them to a given population in 2018?

What sorts of controls did they use for immigration? None?

3. Montgomery AL and possibly by extension the entire state and not just Central Alabama, is not doing as well - "Montgomery, Ala., is facing a severe shortage of intensive care unit beds, the city’s mayor, Steven Reed, said Wednesday.

The coronavirus pandemic has “maxed out” the city’s health care infrastructure, forcing some acute care patients to be diverted to hospitals nearly an hour and a half away in Birmingham, Reed told reporters. As of Wednesday morning, only four ICU beds were available across all four of Montgomery’s hospitals, he said.

“I want us to really think about the seriousness of that, because none of us know who may need that ICU bed today and who may need that this evening, tomorrow or over this extended Memorial Day weekend,” Reed said at Wednesday’s news briefing.

Alabama has lifted many coronavirus-related restrictions, but Reed warned on Wednesday that the city was facing a “dire” situation and that Memorial Day Weekend was not the time to ease up on social distancing or wearing masks. Many of the patients in Montgomery’s hospitals live in rural areas that lack emergency rooms, and the shortage of beds poses a risk to people throughout Central Alabama, he said."

Central Alabama is well known for its crowded public transit and cold dry May weather, for those uninterested in looking for context concerning the spread of a virus and its effects on hospitals.

Fake news. Post a link.

“Montgomery AL and possibly by extension the entire state and not just Central Alabama, is not doing as well "

Montgomery is a city of 200k people a hundred miles from Birmingham (another 200k) and Mobile (another 200k) in a state of 5 million people. (Google)

About 1/4 of those 200k are over 65. https://cber.culverhouse.ua.edu/resources/alabama-indicators/

Further, the crimson tide won the College Football national championship 5 times in the last 10 years. AL is doing just fine.

A bunch of poor old people drawing social security and poor diabetic drug addicts drawing Medicaid dying might decrease GDP in some ways but will also have benefits. Probably net neutrality to mild negative to economy of Alabama and US as whole. As long as Saban stays healthy, Tide will still make it to SEC playoffs. Huddle House will remain open.

The WaPo. “Keeping Fear Alive”!

Not only the Montgomery story, but this one too, filled with fake news -

Coronavirus hot spots erupt across the country; experts warn of second wave in South

Dallas, Houston, Southeast Florida’s Gold Coast, the entire state of Alabama and several other places in the South that have been rapidly reopening their economies are in danger of a second wave of coronavirus infections over the next four weeks, according to a research team that uses cellphone data to track social mobility and forecast the trajectory of the pandemic.

The model, developed by ­PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and updated Wednesday with new data, suggests that most communities in the United States should be able to avoid a second spike in the near term if residents are careful to maintain social distancing even as businesses open up and restrictions are eased.

prior, take your trolling elsewhere you sound desperate. Trying to desperately glean any piece of bad news you can find.

Isn't this fairly obvious? Just like happened in Singapore, there will be intense cluster flare ups of corona occurring for the foreseeable future. Where and when they happen is happenstance, to a major extent, but also inevitable.

+1, exactly

The other thing is that personal choices are going to matter far more than political policy up until you are willing to incarcerate the suspected infected.

It looks like Covid had pretty heterogenous spread with the majority of chains dying out (in contrast to say measles where every chain goes exponential). If we can limit the number of people any individual can potentially infect to something on the range of 20 that may be enough to keep R below 1.

Getting people to do that requires a lot of personal choices and I predict that public compliance by the least agreeable people is going to have far more of an impact that whatever is de jure on the books.

The goal is voluntary change of behavior and the key demographic are the people who think the risk is overblown. 90% of efforts should be going to cajoling, flattering, or otherwise getting these folks on board. Which, unfortunately, seems to be the exact opposite of what the loudest folks in society are doing.

I'm having a hard time seeing an "opening up" which allows gatherings in optimum spread size (say 20-200) and then wins by voluntary behavior change.

Whether it's a bar or a church, people will find reasons to go.

For what it's worth, my county (Orange, California) is still seeing case growth.

https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc

Still, talk in the county is on opening up. I feel like this is a microcosm of American response. How can it even work?

Because people have decided the cure is worse than the disease. I'd rather play russian roulette and take my 1 in 1000 chances of dying from this than watch every single person I know lose their life's work.

Would you stay locked inside if it meant 1% of your net worth disappeared every day? Every person I've asked that tells me how important the locks downs are has said they would NOT continue to lock down if it mean they were losing 1% of their net worth every day.

Would you?

I don't think you understand compound interest. Opening up does not extend "this" when you have rising infections. It extends *worse*.

I deal in exponentials and logs every day for work. In fact, I've hit the log button on my RPN calculator no fewer than a dozen times this morning for work. And the e^x button too. Yes, I understand them.

But you avoided the question: Would you be FOR continued lockups if it mean you were losing 1% of your net worth per day? In other words, completely broke in 3 months? Would you be FOR continued lockups if it meant you were losing your house in a 2-3 more months of this?

I avoided that question because it leads to a humblebrag.

Avoiding that as much as possible, my stock market losses were actually pretty large at one point, and I didn't blink. I was still more concerned with lives lost and people like supermarket checkers.

> I avoided that question because it leads to a humblebrag.

I'm not talking about lost temporarily and then bounced back. I'm talking about gone for good, and never coming back. In other words, 90 days of lockdown means you are destroyed financially and starting over from square zero with a massive blemish on your credit report because you walked on the house.

Would you take lockdown if every day mean 1% gone for good? Bill Gates most certainly would not. Your average Seattle tech employee would not (I've asked many).

And yet, people like you are happy to mandate this to farmers, a businessman that owns an HVAC business, a dentist, etc.

Humility is in order in all directions here--humility toward the disease, plus humility toward an incalculable economic (and possibly political) disaster caused by possibly overzealous government efforts to prevent its spread. And yes, baked into the concept of economic growth is that the economic harm caused by this is in some way permanent: Partly because of lockdowns, post-virus growth will start from a lower level. There is a permanence to that.

There is no good solution to this pickle, except that widespread personal responsibility can probably allow the economy to "reopen" while preventing flareups of the disease. The definition of responsible behavior, at this point, seems obvious: Don't visit grandma; wear a mask when in indoor public spaces; keep large public gatherings suspended; hold every possible business meeting online; allow and encourage employees to work from home to the maximum extent possible; keep shopping trips to a minimum; work with borrowers and tenants on debt and rent forbearance, etc. Most or all of this amounts to individuals taking an honest look at every aspect of their daily routines and business models and having common-sense flexibility with them. Freedom and Responsibility are always lovers. The only difference now is that this kissing, copulating couple is demanding we watch and remember them in stark daylight.

Regarding bad credit, one thing government could do is create a new "Chapter P" bankruptcy, in which a judge certifies that a bankruptcy was due to the pandemic and not poor management. That way, post-virus, lenders and landlords would be more willing to extend credit or lease space to the bankrupted businessperson. If we're going to bankrupt businesspeople, the least we can do is get the monkey of "bad credit" off their backs. As a society, we have an interest in this: To recover, we'll need everyone's best efforts, and phony bankruptcies that put chains on our ambitious entrepreneurs are not the way to get those efforts.

Hear, hear. +10 i.p.

> one thing government could do is create a new "Chapter P" bankruptcy

Yes, very good point. Something is needed here.

I'm just surprised how many take the attitude "Screw them, I've got mine and I'm still getting a paycheck" and utterly fail to possibly understand what others are going through. I've never seen so much overt selfishness in my life that I can remember.

Unquestionably, in a zero-sum view of economics, which is all too common among Americans today, there arises a screwy, ready-made status scoreboard that generates "haves" and "have nots" out of any situation. But the status machine does not result from a failure to understand what others are going through. It is, rather, a confused celebration of the plight of others. If you're a zero-summer, then someone else's suffering must be your gain.

Mostly, though, I think this results not from meanness--Americans are generally almost too nice--but from confusion. It's unfortunate that we don't have one word for the competition of the marketplace, in which buyers are bidding on goods and the score is set separately by each participant's view of their own outcomes, and another word for the zero-sum competition of sports, in which the score is set by rules; there can only be one winner in a game and one set of division leaders in a season; and there is a certain built-in contempt or pity for losing teams.

I get the sense that many folks apply the sports concept too liberally, leading to faulty interpretations of the social world around them.

I'm not sure it's explained by a zero-sum mindset. Those that are gainfully employed, in most cases, just haven't though about it. And when I ask them the question if they'd take 1% per day permanent loss on all assets in order to continue lockdown, they say "no" and they'd want to get back to work. Because, if you own a 40 person HVAC business, or other small business owner (dentist, plumber), you are watching you life's work vaporize before your eyes. It starts as you plow through reserves, then savings, then retirement, then assets. Your people are scatter, undergo life changes, relocate, aren't coming back.

Our press and media, unfortunately, haven't focused on the economic destruction of small business owners. The laid off workers are making more than they've ever made here. And they are all loving this. Seattle just voted to allow you to stop paying rent for up to 5 or 6 months, and the missed payments are to be paid back over ~3 months per month you've missed (eg miss 2 months, you have 6 months to pay it back). Which will be impossible. It's Seattle just telling the guy that owns two rental units to eat it. Of course, he still needs to make his mortgage payment, pay his taxes, pay his insurance, fix the stove that breaks on the unit that isn't paying.

Yes, you're spot on here. Because modern labor markets provide seriously good economic opportunities for people with technical or sales skills, a lot of "haves" in today's world are employees, not business owners. And the legions of these folks are growing. I'm one of them. These folks can work from home just fine, and probably even more productively. Running a business, even a business that can be run remotely in front of a computer screen, is totally foreign to them. The one exception is people with jobs that interface with small businesspeople (think lending reps or leasing brokers).

My zero-sum point is more related to a desire for status, a concept that plays a larger role in zero-sum mental models. A lot of employees, whose pay depends heavily on rank in an organization, unsurprisingly take a zero-sum, status-oriented worldview more generally. In any organization, there can be only one CEO. The ranks of a corporation are, mostly, zero sum. If your goal is to be CEO, then you're going to mentally arrange people in an organization in a cascade down from a CEO and you're going to arrange people in a country down from... well, who knows... It doesn't matter. As long as they're arranged by status instead of other qualities, and as long as your status, in your model, is higher. I'm not sure the media can do much about this. The media reflects popular opinion. It doesn't set it.

This is very unlike businesspeople. A business person mentally arranges people (at least those who aren't family or friends) by asking what value they bring to enhance her business.

The “so what?” is important. I think we’re mostly free of massive and misguided federal government intervention at this point, but there is still opportunity for the feds, states, locals, and courts to slow the recovery more than they already are.

I think I get your point, but some will use the same fact to support more or longer lockdowns, to try and delegitimize the less awful politicians reopening, and to support ridiculous government spending and intervention.

The “so- what” should be: keep practicing good hygiene, states should be prepared to support localities with low hospital capacity, people won’t be willing to go back to 2019 activities anytime soon so allocate capital away from airlines and theaters, it might not be too late to invest in testing at scale.

Herd immunity is what we’ve defaulted to in US. There is no other alternative right now, but we can still make things worse!

It's looking like we can escape the need for herd immunity. If new infections remain at around 20,000 or 25,000 per day, as they have been, we're looking at about 10 million total infections after another year--far short of the approximately 200 million that would be needed for herd immunity. Suppression seems to be working. Let's roll with it until we get a vaccine.

I wouldn't view herd immunity as a goal but as a backstop for utter failure.

And directly relevant to a link saying that Georgia's reopening is going fine. The capital city of Alabama is not doing well at the moment, in another state where reopening (to the extent that Alabama locked down at all) is not going fine.

In other words, the American south is a land of contrasts.

>forcing some acute care patients to be diverted to hospitals nearly an hour and a half away in Birmingham,

Oh, the humanity.

#3) Oddly, the article makes no mention of Georgia policy that may account for its reopening "success": nursing homes still ban visitors and communal dining, bars are still closed, over-65's and chronically ill are still under shelter-in-place orders. If GA's reopening is indeed working, it's because the most problematic venues and populations haven't reopened at all.

Here in Georgia, we have this thing called “common sense”. While it’s great our gov’na has encouraged the old and sick to stay home, they would have done so anyways. Bars and restaurants in Atlanta and Brunswick (go back and forth between city and beach on 45min Delta flight that is also open) are actually open and have been for a couple weeks. Idk where your getting “shelter in place” facts. No one here has ever sheltered. We went out less and stayed about 6ft away from people we don’t know. Except the Ahmaud Arbery protesters crowing they sidewalks.

Common sense in GA looks lower from where I'm sitting.

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/crowds-on-chattahoochee-river-in-roswell-lead-to-action-concern/85-f7d1d498-c6e0-4b5d-9576-0f2bfca90df9

As long as the most at risk are self-isolating I don't see the problem.

Great example. I would post the California beach pics from a month ago and claim Californians are all morons but everyone has seen that. Young people are dumb everywhere. You could prob find an example of 20 somethings disregarding social distancing in every state. Or they could have made a Facebook group where they all discussed and decided the threat to their age group is low and asked that everyone who doesn’t regularly interact with anyone over 65 come down for a good old fashioned shoot the hooch river orgy.

Why? Serious question. The ones I saw, other than the one where they were protesting the closures showed a huge area with people spread out. There has been little indication that there is spread outside.

Overall, that's great news. Though it sounded like the author was kind of unhappy that everything was going well in Georgia. Those qualifiers in italics were almost comical.

"That yet is important. ..still reflect the state of the epidemic before reopening.. Reopening in Georgia may be going fine — for now..

6. The declining middle class and yes based on consumption data.
---
Egad! Poorer and dumber.

3. From the link: "declining daily case counts were actually a window into the past". Meaning it takes weeks for infections to become apparent. MikeW makes a real good point. I would add that many offices have not re-opened yet, as office workers continue to work from home. Let's hope for the best, but it's way too early for a victory lap. This holiday weekend might prove if there's hope or false hope. Part of my family, a large part, is gathering for the long weekend, all different ages and from many different places, congregating in one place to celebrate the holiday and the end of the pandemic. Yesterday I suggested to the matriarch for that part of the family that she should consider staying away. Fat chance she will heed my advice. She misses her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I suspect this will be repeated all over the country.

And the sooner and more often it does, the sooner we get our inheritances. Make sure to call your parents and grandparents once a week and make sure they have a will. Encourage them to distance and wear masks but understand most won’t and respect that this is a free country.

4. Deirdre at once extols the massive economic growth in China as the result of economic liberalism and trade and condemns China's version of state capitalism that set China on its path to massive economic growth. Of course, the combination hollowed out the middle class in the West: while the world is a far richer place, it came at the expense of the middle class in the West. Is it any wonder that state capitalism might appeal to more than a few in the West. If one can't beat them, join them. There's a silver lining in every cloud. The Trump administration's incompetence should give everyone pause about the potential benefits of state capitalism in America. Cowen attributes the incompetence to "government", refusing to acknowledge it's a unique version of government: the Trump version. It's just as well. But while the Trump administration's incompetence might discourage the appeal of state capitalism, the pandemic has accelerated concentration in the American economy (and the contrast between winners and losers), as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google not only have weathered the storm but will emerge as a much larger and more powerful force. The difference between state capitalism and economic concentration is semantic not substantive.

The Galbrathian consensus-unions, nationalization, and cartelization that created a strong middle class in the USA from 1945-1970 almost brought the country to its knees.

Major US companies couldn’t compete, cities were going bankrupt, interest rates had to go through the roof to combat stagflation.

Fans of that era tend to forget that all of that Galbrathianism blew up on itself....

True we would of maintained a much bigger middle class had those policies stayed in place. But that’s simply because we would of all been poorer.

The good ole USA has a median income of 31k a year. Germany is 23k. France is 21k. Those two countries are hardly as neo liberal as USA.

" that created a strong white middle class in the USA from 1945-1970"

Fixed that for you. That period was great for white working males, not as great for minorities and women.

Do you have any proof or data?

Was it bad for them or merely not quite as good?

You seem to make it sound as it its a zero-sum, which in all likelihood it is not.

"You seem to make it sound as it its a zero-sum, which in all likelihood it is not."

No, it certainly wasn't a zero-sum situation. Economically, the lower half of working males have had roughly stagnant income for decades. Women's wages have grown substantially. Minority wages have grown though it's spotty. For example black women have had a tremendous change in wages, lower half black males probably aren't any better than white males.

"Was it bad for them or merely not quite as good?"

I would describe the late 40's through the 60's as maybe a 3 on a 10 scale for black American's. Not the 1 of slavery, not the 2 of 1865 to 1941. But a 3. Whereas now, it's maybe a 6 vs a 7 for white Americans.

Granted, that's a purely subjective scale, so it's likely more wrong than right, but still that's my mental model of progress over the last century and a half.

The people that say blacks in America are currently oppressed are idiots. But the ones that refuse to admit they were oppressed 50 years ago, and still are slightly behind are also idiots.

+1 - I think we are understanding the same thing, my main objection was to how I initially read what you wrote.

The data suggests that 2 was reached by something like 1890 with some regression during the Wilson era and maybe the 1900s. By 1945 we likely were seeing a 4.5 and by 1970 had gone up to 6.5 with today being a 7.5.

I would peg the white numbers something like a 4 in 1890, 6 in 1945, 7.5 in 1970, and something like a 9 today.

When you look at rates of growth the real scandal is not from 1945 - 1970 or even from 1920 - 1945. It is 1970-2020. Had we merely continued trendlines from 1970 we would have had far less racial inequality today.

Well these are made up numbers, so the scale is purely subjective, but ....

On a 1 to 10 scale , it's seems a stretch to say White numbers are a 9 today. That would imply that the gap between the median white family and the wealthy/successful is very small.

Then again, my numbers were all made up to start with ;)

What do you think the planter class had back in 1860? I mean sure they had social status but they lacked basic medical care, running water, air conditioning, and tasty food that didn't spoil. A slave would be a 1, but the top end of society would, generously, be a 1.5. I certainly would far rather be a "poor" negro in the 1960s than a "rich planter" in the any time before 1860.

What with all the antibiotics, surgery, vaccines, running water, refrigeration, air conditioning, computers, cars, planes, etc.

And I would certainly endorse that the gap between the median white family and Jeff Bezos today is lower than between the average slave family and the average planter.

Suffice it to say the greatest absolute gains by black Americans were made before 1960 and arguably before WWII. The largest relative gains were again far earlier than imagined. 1970 is around when the wealth gap started opening wider and where a lot of other progress metrics stalled.

We have indeed sunk below the trendline that may grandparents built for black Americans.

Ok, good points!

Actually it was relatively better for minorities than for whites during that era.

Blacks for instance saw their life expectancy grow by 14% and their individual incomes roughly double (constant dollars). Whites of that period saw a 7% growth in life expectancy and their incomes increase by around 35%.

This of course pales to the relative gains made back at the start of the 20th century.

In absolute terms, sure the differences in some areas grew larger. But that period has less growth in absolute disparity than the period that came after it.

The relative disparities only began to grow, and grow dramatically, after this period. My money, as always, is on culture. Prior to 1970 blacks were more likely to be married and less likely to have children out of wedlock than whites. From what little I have read, blacks appeared to be less likely to use drugs and more likely to be employed as well as having higher rates of military service.

No, disparities have shrunk since 1970: https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/06/27/1-demographic-trends-and-economic-well-being/. Black median household income was 55% of white in 1970 and 60% today. The gap in poverty, unemployment, and educational attainment rates have all fallen since 1970 as well. The cultural issues you note were a strong countervailing force creating greater inequality but not enough to outweigh the equalizing effect of the reduction in discrimination.

The source you provided shows a growing wealth gap.

Black folk in the US tend to be in the South and tend to have more female headed households.

So some compression in income may be from relative gains in South and among women. Net Black gain beyond that may be very low....

Medians are also, uh... Not always capturing increases in income inequality.

The convergence between the South and the North was already mostly completed by 1970. Actually, the geographic issue is a good point but it really explains the pre-1970 convergence between blacks and whites, not post-1970. From 1910 to 1970, nearly half of all blacks in the US moved from the South to the North. Since 1970, this migration has stopped and actually gone into reverse a bit. So pre-1970 convergence was due primarily to migration, which could not continue forever: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Great_Migration_(African_American).

The female-headed household phenomenon is also more recent. The fact that black households have become more fragmented in recent years also suggests that the disparity in household incomes in recent years overstates the true degree of racial disparity.

It does continue post 1970 for sure to some degree, up to at least 1980 - https://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2018/01/why-has-us-regional-convergence-declined.html , though at a lower rate thereafter.

There's also migration within states and regions to consider; even where people moved south, they did not move to lower income regions within the south... But higher income regions are also higher cost regions, so...

Re; female headed households, the gender effect does matter - Black women even out-earn White women of similar education background, for'ex, and pattern of greater engagement in market labour by Black women pretty old...

Another aspect is that the White population has probably aged faster, with more retirees who've shifted towards lower incomes (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/30/most-common-age-among-us-racial-ethnic-groups/). Median age is about 10 years older.

Essentially, I'm just arguing here that 5% is pretty small, and might be swallowed up plausibly by these other factors.

Another example - https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/

Hourly income gaps between White and Black men constant, White and Black women accelerating, between 1980-present.

Therefore any income convergence can only be due to relatively increased hours for Black group?

Cross country comparisons of median income are useless because incomes across countries are not fungible. 31k in the US means having to live in very dangerous unpleasant underclass areas and struggling with healthcare, education, etc expenses.

Is this really what you think or sarcasm?

"31k in the US means having to live in very dangerous unpleasant underclass areas "

I think you need to get out more.

If said, $31K household income (for 2+ people) in an area with a high cost of living, then yes that's largely true. But a single person living in Pensacola, FL would be fine.

Places with low cost of living tend to have few jobs, are far away in the middle of nowhere, have an underclass of opioid and alcohol addicts, etc.

$31k in the US is fine if you're young and have well off parents and family that you can inherit from and sponge off, or if you're going for a bohemian lifestyle in which you're foregoing the ability to have a family and middle class lifestyle and respectability.

"Places with low cost of living tend to have few jobs, are far away in the middle of nowhere, have an underclass of opioid and alcohol addicts, etc."

Pensacola FL is fine. And you stipulated someone making $31K per year, so few jobs is kind of a moot point.

However, more on point:
"The median wage in 2019 is $19.33 per hour, which translates into about $40,000 per year for a full-time, full-year worker."

Also the Federal definition for poverty is $12K per year for a single person. It's "$30,680" for a family of 5.

https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

Such a shit mobile experience. Hope this was right line to respond to. But wouldn’t good/bad for white men correlate with good/bad for Whit women? So maybe earnings for women were worse but they just lived on one income? Maybe better now but trade off on family time!?

4. McCloskey is another commentator to once again violate the “law of Trump.”

The “law” argues that Trump can not be multiple conflicting concepts all at once.
He can not be too fascist about the virus, too laissez faire, too states rights, and too federal authority all at once.

And I’m not sure Macron and the South Korean President can be called “liberal” while Trump is “fascist.”

Is it not true that test and trace requires mandatory quarantines for South Koreans?

Is it also not true that France demanded every citizen have a written document with them as to why they were out and about during quarantine??

That facsist Trump wants to let people out of lock down. He's clearly drunk with power!

You've exeeded the double negative quota

Pretty much everything McCloskey-wise you can read, you have to read with the understanding that it is defense of or propaganda for a particular bourgeois social background, and its tastes and norms.

'"Bourgeois Dignity" is everything!' is the McCloskey thesis of note, after all. (And quite the worst theory of the industrial revolution it is too). Liberalism, to McCloskey, is about being boosterish towards the bourgeois class, making sure it reigns over the poor, or the landed or military aristocracy.

So, to such a mindset, a populist that's pro-business, pro-laissez faire, seems not to desire or to seek accumulation of further powers (no department of homesec, here), etc, must be illiberal.

(And "2% IFR, higher for oldsters" is ridiculous; would result in a number that's probably 4x the real thing, off by the same factor, in the opposite direction, as those who equate it with the flu.)

I would love to see a debate between McCloskey and Patrick Deneen. Deneen would rip the foundation of McCloskeys argument, which is Adultism by pointing out that liberalism undermines the adult virtues. I'd like to see McCloskey's reply.

Agreed wholeheartedly. Externalities and incentives... We stopped legislating against "victimless crimes" and wonder why we now must pay the numerous social costs. Addictions, Declining IQ, declining birth rates (see how well that's worked for Japan's economy), the list goes on.

Liberalism has done many good things and a largely-liberal economic system has achieved a great reduction in poverty, without doubt. But we can also see the decay that that has had on our societies, and that propelled populists such as Trump to power.

I generally like Donald’s takes, but find this one puzzling. I can’t tell if he is ripping Trump for reacting too much or too little. Is it that Trump (and Faucci) treated COVID like Ebola or that Trump did too little, and what is necessary about stay at home orders? People didn’t need government to tell them to change behavior. 2% death rate from COVID is pulled right out of the arse and $1.8B Ebola seems impossible given low R (kills too quickly).

Lots of quotes from people relevant 200 years ago.

I would frame the problem as starting with Nixon going to China to hollow out American lower middle classes with wishful thinking in Chinese commies who emphasized economics and hegemony over humanity. So like, in America, when we got rich we voted for Clean Air Acts and started eating at McDonalds while China encouraged Foxcon but ignored the fact that the Chinese people still liked to eat bat shit battered fried
chicken.

#6. Here is how they define middle class: "having one’s own home, a car or two in the carport, taking a family vacation every year, sending kids to college, and having some retirement savings." Now that seems reasonable, but I'd quibble with whether declines or increases in these categories signal a change in middle class status.

Take having a car or two: are more people living in cities where public transit is a more desirable option. If you are a 100% remote worker who decides instead of having 2 cars like your parents, you share a car with your spouse instead since you don't actually go to work... does that make you not as "middle-class" as someone else?

For sending kids to college... more kids are going to college now than in the 80s (percent of 18-24 year olds enrolled has been flat since ~2011) and most of that has come from 4-year enrollment.

Don't have time to find a non-gate version, but take #6 with a large grain of salt.

People living in cities are less likely to be middle class because affording middle class families is much more expensive in cities. City families tend to be wealthy amd well off upper middle class, or poor underclass.

4. Appreciated the link to McCloskey's essay. A long read, but worthwhile.

Indeed. I particularly liked this:

If you think covid 19 is bad epidemiologically, try ebola. Imagine if President Obama and the WHO and others had not jumped on the outbreak. To fix ideas, suppose that in the US during the autumn of 2014 Donald Trump had been in charge, disdaining African countries as “shitholes” of no consequence, or for that matter if in France the president had been Marine Le Pen, disdaining all foreigners. Covid 19 is easy to get but does not have very high mortality, maybe 2 percent, higher for oldsters. Ebola is harder to get, but once you are infected it has 50 percent mortality, for everyone. If the ebola outbreak of 2014 had been met with the ignorance and insouciance of Trump and Le Pen instead of intelligent action by the state and by non-state entities, one can imagine deaths worldwide of, say, 1.8 billion. That’s billion with a B. Thank God for Obama. And even now thank God for Macron, who at least is somewhat rational.

Yes, bizzare take when, at the time, the Obama reaction was seen to be haphazard and slow. Ebola was at least a known entity.

Firstly, I wonder if she understands the Democratic party were the folks damning all non-white, non-OECD countries as shitholes? You Schumer, Pelosi, Biden, warren, AOC, etc all on TV telling us exaclty which countries they thought were shitholes.

That paragraph was an insane rambling by McCloskey.

When we think of rationality, we must think of hymns of praise to God for sending Barack Obama to save 1.8 billion lives...

> . Imagine if President Obama and the WHO and others had not jumped on the outbreak.

Trump is a germaphobe that doesn't care a whit about spending money to protect the US. I'm pretty sure he could would have spent a lot more on the issue AND would have been more proactive in closing travel routes.

Obama's H1N1 response was very, very weak compared to Trump's sars-cov2 response.

Ebola requires poor sanitary and hygienic conditions to spread. As such it isn't a serious threat to first world nations

I typically like McCloskey, but this was a muddle. She's made no effort to understand any of this.

Agreed. Rush job. Larded with pot shots at Trump that are of dubious relevance.

Agreed. McCloskey's timing is way off. If we take the notion of fascism seriously, that begins around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and gets deeper as time goes on: The first Roosevelt, Wilson, second Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, NIXON [!], ALL from Bush I until Obama. Trump is an amateur.

Fascism is a brand of socialism, or contemporary progressivism.

For more on an original mind on this, Mussolini, see from Cato

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/economic-leadership-secrets-benito-mussolini

3. "Georgia is in a similar situation. It has also seen its COVID-19 infections plateau amid a surge in testing. Like Texas, it reported more than 20,000 new results on Wednesday, the majority of them negative. But because, according to The Macon Telegraph, it is also blending its viral and antibody results together, its true percent-positive rate is impossible to know." https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/05/cdc-and-states-are-misreporting-covid-19-test-data-pennsylvania-georgia-texas/611935/

What's the significance of blending viral and antibody test results? "The intermingling of viral and antibody tests suggests that some of those gains (the drop in the percentage of test results that are positive) might be illusory. If even a third of the country’s gain in testing has come by expanding antibody tests, not viral tests, then its ability to detect an outbreak is much smaller than it seems. There is no way to ascertain how much of the recent increase in testing is from antibody tests until the most populous states in the country—among them Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania—show their residents everything in the data."

This same thing was happening in Virginia up until last week when the governor got called on it. The response was that it really didn't affect state wide percent positive (increasing from 13 to 14 percent). But as we know, there is variation. Fairfax County (the county with the highest number of cases) had its percent positive go from 19 percent to 24 percent once antibody test were removed from the testing total.

Yet in that Post article, Virginia was identified as the only state doing such mixing. Interesting that turns out not to be the case, and the Post's reporting was inaccurate, though the objections to such mixing remain valid.

Here's the Post article I read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-antibody-covid-19-tests-northam-reopening/2020/05/14/fa9f62b0-95e4-11ea-82b4-c8db161ff6e5_story.html. It doesn't say anything about how other states treated antibody tests nor does it imply that Virginia was the only one doing it. The Atlantic article hinted at other states mixing the testing data, but at that point last week, Virginia was the only state that had confirmed (i.e. been caught red-handed) mixing the testing data. Was there another Post article to which you were referring?

My mistake -- it was an Atlantic article from a week ago.

“You can’t win” by keeping viral and antibody findings separate in public data, he said, adding that combining the two tests’ results was the only way to improve Virginia’s position in a list of states ranked by the number of tests they had conducted per capita. “If another state is including serological tests, and they’re ranked above Virginia, and we are not, and we’re getting criticized for that, [then], hey, you can’t win either way. Now we are including them, and our ranking will be better, and we’re being criticized,” he said.

We could not find evidence that other states are blending test results in the way that Mercer claimed. In an email, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health claimed that Arizona, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia also mingled viral and antibody results. This is false: Those three governments either separate out, or do not report, the result of negative antibody tests to the public.

www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/05/covid-19-tests-combine-virginia/611620/

I don't know if the Atlantic's claims about West Virginia and DC are true, but here's a May 5 update from Arizona (https://directorsblog.health.azdhs.gov/covid-19-dashboard-now-includes-data-about-antibody-testing/): "Today we updated our dashboard to include additional information about laboratory testing for COVID-19 in Arizona. This new enhancement provides a look at antibody testing for the first time. Previously, data on the ADHS dashboard only included diagnostic (PCR) testing information." So it seems that the Atlantic was correct on how Arizona treated antibody tests.

I couldn't readily find info on WV and DC, but the author leaves the door open for other states mixing test data by saying, "We could not find evidence that other states are blending test results in the way that Mercer claimed", which, at that point last week, was true. Now that more reporting has been done in the wake of the Atlantic story, we're finding out that other states did blend PCR and antibody tests data. I'd say this is a pretty big win for journalism.

The lack of transparency of the testing data makes one wonder if it's intentional. Many governors who have been asked if their states' test results were blended have denied it, only for a closer inspection (mainly by the media) to reveal that the results were blended. Even some states which issued corrected test results have refused to reveal the underlying data, and their web sites have ambiguous descriptions of the data. I suppose Cowen would would expect nothing less (or is it more) from state governments, but whether this conduct is intentional or not, it's endangering the lives of the public. If the conduct is intentional, it's criminal. There is no accountability in the Trump administration, as Trump fires anyone who might investigate potential misconduct and blocks the testimony of anyone who might reveal misconduct. The lawlessness of the administration has passed down to the states.

The CDC reports data the same way. There's an Atlantic article out as well; apparently this is a coordinated fallback talking point now that the overall news is good. Just to be clear, rayward is calling it "criminal" that Trump is deferring to his scientific experts and permitting them to propound public health policy.

#6: "six indicators that define the middle class: having one’s own home, a car or two in the carport, taking a family vacation every year, sending kids to college, and having some retirement savings"

Not a bad definition but I only count five indicators in there, unless "having a car" counts as one indicator and "have two cars" counts as another indicator.

I think a measure that takes square feet of living space into account, and that includes both renters and homeowners, would be better. Home ownership as a measure of middle class status fails at the extremes; West Virginia has very high rates of home ownership (or did, the last time I checked) -- but a large proportion of those homeowners live in mobile homes. Conversely a lot of people who we would consider to be middle class or upper middle class and who live in dense expensive cities might rent their homes or apartments -- but if they're middle class they'll have more bedrooms and bathrooms and square footage than the lower class people do.

Car ownership shares some of these problems; residents of large cities might opt for public transportation over car ownership, while still being middle class.

The article is gated for me, so I can't see how they implemented their definition of middle class. It's not a bad definition, but strikes me as a little too simple and one-size-fits-all.

6. This definition of middle class seems like it reflects a particular culture rather than economic well-being: “having one’s own home, a car or two in the carport, taking a family vacation every year, sending kids to college, and having some retirement savings.” In my 20s, I would’ve only arguably met one out of these five criteria (vacation every year, but not with family) even though I was making a six-figure income. For some people, particularly in big cities, a car is more hassle than convenience and it makes more financial sense to rent than buy. And many people don’t have kids to send to college or families to go on vacations with. So right away four of the five criteria are not going to apply to significant numbers of people who could very well have middle-class or higher incomes.

Middle-class should be defined in terms of a dollar value of consumption rather than saying a particular conventional basket is “middle class.”

Also, what’s the sixth indicator? The article says six but only lists five.

+1, the definition used is fraught with subjective bias.

Elon Musk will soon own no homes. The original definition will then properly define him as not middle class.

"Also, what’s the sixth indicator?" The ability to count.

"Dollar value of consumption" is completely arbitrary, and if you don't look at baskets, no comparisons across time and place are possible.

Congratulations to Jason Crawford, one of the winners of the Progress Studies tranche of Emergent Ventures. It is nice to see that the grant to boost his writings and career as public intellectual on topics of progress and the benefits of economic growth and industrialism has borne fruit.

8. "The course will also prompt students to consider the future of progress, and what part they want to play in it."

To hear this tale told, "progress" today enjoys phenomenal status, if not objective status: at least as real as cash, it must be more real than Almighty God or the Providence once imputed to the celestial deity.

Id est: the young darlings have not been told, are not being told, and will not be told by any partisan of "progress studies" that progress is a temporal myth that continues to be peddled as an apologia for modernity.

"Progress studies" consists at least in part (if not in the main) of rank propaganda, in other words.

#2. Tyler, on Reinhart, read this interview just published

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/05/carmen-reinhart-named-chief-economist-at-the-world-bank/

It's amazing that she still lives by the slogan "This time is/not is different". Her book with Rogoff was just a timely collection of poor data on financial crises, but none of them had done serious analytical and policy work on financial crises. Now she claims that in early March she warned the economic consequences of COVID-19 would be far direr and far longer than other economists predicted. She is wrong because she didn't say anything about the government's response to the pandemic, and more importantly, she still doesn't know how to describe this response. As Robert Higgs has said, again and again, this time the response was the same as in previous critical episodes (see John Tierney's yesterday's column https://www.city-journal.org/the-politics-of-fear ). The only difference, a very relevant one, is that the response has been marked more by state and local governments than the federal government. In particular, the speed and the magnitude of the economic crisis have been the consequence of state and local governments' lockdowns and their reluctance to lifting them promptly.

"In particular, the speed and the magnitude of the economic crisis have been the consequence of state and local governments' lockdowns and their reluctance to lifting them promptly." This appears to be untrue regarding say consequences for March and April. People were voluntarily staying home and in Georgia (for example) they still are staying home. Here's Open Table (https://www.opentable.com/state-of-industry) data. "This data shows year-over-year seated diners at restaurants on the OpenTable network across all channels: online reservations, phone reservations, and walk-ins." You can click through and find the data for individual states or download the data yourself. For May 20, Georgia is down (year on year) 85%. This is 3 weeks after the opening of Georgia. This is not conclusive as there are still restrictions.

So look at the run up to Trump's European travel ban (which seems to be what kicked everything off... I'll leave it to the reader to guess why the European travel restrictions had a much bigger impact on behavior than the China travel restrictions), which was mid-March. Georgia didn't issue a lockdown until the beginning of April, though Athens issued a shelter in place order on 3/19. For Georgia, on 3/16 year-on-year restaurant volume down 66%, 3/17 down 88%, 3/18 down 93% (all before any action by the state or local governments). Texas was on a similar trajectory before issuing SIP orders.

Could the lockdowns be holding the country back going forward? I think so. But by no means are the lockdowns the reason the economy started tanking in March. We might have seen a bit more economic activity by now without lockdowns, but getting the magnitude on that would be complete guess work.

Thanks. You may be right and perhaps people "were voluntarily staying home". But I wonder if people's and governments' responses were preceded by "the politics of fear" (see Tierney's column).

I live in Chile and I spent three nights in NYC starting on Tuesday, March 3, and those days there was nothing to fear (I was with an 11-old grandson and there was not a single instance in which we were concerned about coronavirus, although we were before leaving Santiago for SF on Friday, February 14). Back in Santiago, on Tuesday, March 10, I received calls from NY telling me about the virus and the possibility that we could have been infected (when we arrived in Santiago on Sunday, March 8, I had a long talk with people in charge of inspecting passengers from the U.S. because of information that they had received on Saturday and they asked me to report any symptom over the next 14 days). On Wednesday, March 11, I spent time talking with relatives and friends in SF, Boston, and NY to confirm that we were ok. Why were they suddenly so concerned about the virus?

Probably a good thing that people in New York became more scared, no? I think it has a lot to do with the exponential growth of the virus. One day things look fine. The next day they don't. March 11 is also when the NBA shut down. It's a big signal for how seriously to take the outbreak when an organization whose purpose is to make money says that it doesn't want to make money.

It also has to do with the messaging from public leaders. Here's a cynical/half-joking version of why people got scared, so take it with a grain of salt: No one freaked out over Trump's China travel restrictions because Trump hasn't met a travel ban he didn't like. But when Trump started restricting travel coming in from Europe, people took that as "Whoa... Trump is willing to ban white people from coming to the country, too. We should take this thing seriously."

Yes, it's a classic situation where there's a tipping point. I.e. not a smooth gradual increase in say public perceptions of danger, but due to the exponential growth of infections and deaths, there's a period of blithe ignorance and unconcern -- and then a "yikes!" moment.

Moreover, most (though not all) models tell us that due to that exponential rate of growth, time is of the essence. Even a three-day delay in reaching that yikes! moment has an exponential effect on what the numbers look like three or four weeks later.

Those consumption metrics for defining the middle class are completely out of touch with lifestyle preferences of millennials.

Millienials do not like cars.

They certainly do not like homes in suburbs.

Few start families.

Family vacations and car ports? What year is this??

So how is this not simply a change in lifestyles rather than income singnals?

Don't worry, they'll grow up - eventually.

Millennials are starting to age out of these trends and start families, and buy detached single family homes.

Sure but an urbanite of any stripe who has a good income, rents but saves a lot of money shouldn't fall out of the middle class just because they don't own a car or a house.

I agree with that. I don't agree with Terry's assertion that Millennials are *that* different from other cohorts. Most will follow similar trends to their parents, just ten-fifteen years later in life.

I had an Uber ride from a guy that managed restaurants. He said the latest thing is chains restaurants that aim to not appear as chains because then they lose all cachet with millennial. That is, millennials do love Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs, but for some reason, they don't like to tell people they eat there. So, you take a place with food adored by the masses, and make it seem like a one-off, and then you take that exact same menu, tweak the experience, locate it 30 miles away with the different name. The only real efficiency you lose is having to print additional menus. Hire a manager with ear gauges and tattoos, and suddenly you're feeding millenials chain-restaurant food, but at a premium because they think it's a cool place.

Also, make no mistake: Young people have wanted to live in the city forever. Until they needed more space and/or got sick of room mates.

That's why the suburbs were born.

Re: #6 Mark Perry has a better explanation: https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/yes-the-us-middle-class-is-shrinking-but-its-because-americans-are-moving-up-and-no-americans-are-not-struggling-to-afford-a-home/

"There has been a shrinkage of America’s middle class over time (by either measure above), but it’s not a story of economic gloom and doom, characterized by a “widening gap between what Americans earn and the housing they can afford” but rather a positive story of economic prosperity and upward mobility that has gradually but consistently lifted millions of lower-income and middle-income US households into higher income groups over time. The fact that nearly 28% of US households annually earn $100,000 or more runs counter to the widespread narrative of an American middle-class in decline and deserves much greater attention as evidence of a dynamic and prosperous America with significant income mobility."

I think this is right to a large degree, but I'd like to see regional cost-of-living differences taken into account. While the region you live in is part of a consumption bundle, it seems that if you are going to claim that Americans are better off (especially by noting the share of households making more than $100k), you'd want to know how many of those households making over $100k live in places where houses cost $1,000,000. How this would affect the analysis is not clear as it would also brighten the picture in the lower cost of living regions.

Yes. Maybe this covid thing will make this more clear that the US is made up a lot of very different regions. Aggregate numbers are very misleading.

+1. But it's also the case with most large countries...

3: The Georgia re-opening is going extremely well.

So in Tyler's world, it "seems" to be going "ok."

1. So he was in the unique position of being able to tell the coroner his co-morbidity himself: being a wild and crazy guy. No wonder he was elected mayor. I wish we had someone like that here. My town is governed by a Serious Man, who is yet, somehow, not a grown-up: the worst possible combination.

#5: “It’s fascinating to see how busy Bodmin Moor was. It’s a real eye-opener. It seems to me it was much busier back then than it is now.”

Climate change, dear: it was the Roman Warm Period. Far easier to make a living up there.

5. was a really fun read.

Anyone have any public, free LIDAR resources for the US? I've done similar work using aerial & satellite photos for industrial archaeology research, but the quality of LIDAR is just so much better. I haven't found any accessible LIDAR maps to use, though.

https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-lidar-data-and-where-can-i-download-it?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products

#6 as I frequently do I wonder how much of that is due to Euclidean zoning. Allowing euclidean zoning seems to me one of the most obviously bad policies in the USA. Next might be ethanol.

"define the middle class: having one’s own home"
Also I wonder if they properly adjusted for homes being nicer and bigger than they were.

“ If voters got their pick of president today in a race between Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the former president would take the seat “in a massive landslide,” according to a new poll commissioned by a left-leaning PR consultant.

The poll of registered voters found Obama would win the imaginary election with 54% of the voters compared to 43% who supported Trump.”

To paraphrase Bull Durham:

I don’t know how we got the 43.

H/T Drudge who has done some self reflecting since 2016.

I often enjoy McCloskey 's writing, but she is the perfect example of "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". She's reasonably intelligent, but she uses that intelligent to double down on everything she already believes, rather than questioning her biases.

please have dierdre on your podcast sometime

4. "Yet, I take it you value human liberty and human flourishing."

I don't think it's safe to take that for granted anymore. In post-Roman Judeo-Christian thinking, individual souls are eternal and institutions are gone in a blink of an eye. (The Declaration of Independence is an apotheosis.)

Now, no longer compelled by Judeo-Christian ideas, we regard individual souls as without lasting value, dependent on Institutions for survival. Institutional flourishing is the new value.

It's the prosperity of the ranch that matters, not that of the livestock.

4. Sounds likes McCloskey has thrown in with the clerisy and shares that classes phobia of intellectual pluralism and authentic liberal dynamism. Not sure what she thinks that she is accomplishing with this piece other than to sanctify gentry liberal pieties and herald the new, EEO complaint processing and federal energy-subsidies based economy.

As a Georgia resident, I've been watching the case numbers closely. A little worrisome is that the last two days have had daily case counts above 750. That hadn't happened in a couple of weeks. Also, I'm skeptical that we have seen a surge in surveillance testing. The mortality rate in Georgia as of the first Monday after the reopening was 3.9%. Today it stands at 4.3%. Shouldn't surveillance testing be catching more light cases? In that case I would expect the mortality rate to be decreasing. The reopening hasn't been a disaster by any means, but case counts don't seem to be heading to zero any time soon.

What is your source? I don't see it at Georgia dept of health
https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

Since Georgia reopened, I've kept a spreadsheet of the deaths and case counts for Georgia as a whole and the counties near me from the midday and night reports on the official Georgia site. From the total counts I can calculate my own daily case counts, the mortality rate, moving averages, etc.

McCloskey gets too excited for her own good. Orange Man Bad is not an argument.

Autocratic? Fascistic? He is mediocre but the safest man we have had in a long time.

The isolationists and pacifists should be pleased. He is the least aggressive president we have had since Hoover in military action. Of course, it would be nice to have nice progressive Democrats who were so much better, like Wilson (WW1 and Spanish flu), FDR (WW2), Truman (Korean War), JFK (Cuba, twice), LBJ (Vietnam), and Obama (Afghanistan, Libya). Don't forget Clinton's air wars on Iraq and Serbia.

There were better Republicans than Trump also. Bush #1 (Iraq, Panama), Bush #2 (Afghanistan, Iraq), Reagan (Lebanon), Nixon (Indochina).

Civil liberties? Oh please. Has Trump put 100,000 members of an ethnic minority into concentration camps by executive fiat (FDR)? Or locked up or censored his political opposition and befriend the KKK (Wilson)? Spied on the campaign of a competing party and tried to send them jail (the Obama-Biden gang)? Wiretapped political enemies, or using the IRS as a weapon (LBJ)? And Nixon and Watergate? Try to kick his opposition off the airwaves (JFK)?

It is just a cheap cliche' that Trump is some sort of fascist, a story spread, ironically enough, by politicians whose aim to control us more.

And while it is true that a fascist or communist can be nationalist, a nationalist can also be liberal or conservative. And a communist can be an internationalist (like Trotsky) or a fascist can be internationalist (like those who want a world government run by "experts").

I also reject the idea that Hegel was a proto-fascist. He was liberal by the standards of his time and place. The end of history would be realized with liberty. He may be wrong but he was not a fascist, nor a communist.

Seriously. Partisan fever dream, devoid of value.

I don't used loaded terms like "fascist" very often because the focus will be on the definition of fascist. The followers of Trump though are without principles, mere poodles . You can tell this because his followers never mention his 100 Day Plan, and numerous issues he's gone back and forth on. He promised to get rid of the debt, balance the budget, push for Congressional Term Limits, bring back industry, coal, and lamented the fact that his first term would be economically problematic because President Obama had locked in a recession through his incompetence. He guaranteed that. You don't know what to believe until he tells you, and you will shift positions in an instant if he does. As a human being, he's one step up from Larry Flynt. The defenses of Trump are intellectual petulance, a constant crybaby chorus. That's Trump, and I'm being generous. Whatever else anyone else is, that's Trump. Admit that and your own slavish worship and we might get somewhere.

In a big and wide opinion survey comparing 2016 to 2020, I expect you'd find roughly as much opinion reversal among those that did not vote for Trump, as in those that did.

As in "The strange death of left wing anti-globalization" as it changed in the late 10s from being an anti-American, anti-capitalist movement to a pro-American, anti-socialist movement.

Left wing anti-globalization never went anywhere: there was plenty of vocal left-wing opposition to TPP while Obama was president.

The difference here is mostly on the right. Donald Trump took the sentiments of Pat Buchanan and Le Pen in France and mainstreamed them.

Pointing to Obama era protests doesn't really help too much when I'm arguing mostly for an ongoing shift, much of which was post-Obama, and happened pretty suddenly after that.

Left wing anti-globalization was and is mostly anti-American, anti-West and anti-neoliberal; while you find some die hards, there's a lot of shift away from it, as much of the left has simply reversed their opinion once the people they perceive as the "other tribe" have begun to oppose it on pro-American, pro-West, and pro-liberal grounds. They've certainly gone a lot quieter and sometimes pro-globalization as a force for cosmopolitanism and post-nationalism (and for bureaucratic managerial states like China, whose model they seem to warm to). Not just change on the right.

Donald P's thesis that Trump 2016 voters are much more likely to shift doesn't hold up; at least as much of the cultural left have reversed themselves on issues since 2016, simply because of who is perceived to now be for them...

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