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There's actually a good set of data explaining Trump's win - the "Poland A versus Poland B" data. Check out the following from the TomGram blog: John Feffer, Donald Trump and America B "... Since its post-Communist transition, that country is often described as having cleaved into two parts, commonly known as “Poland A” and “Poland B.” Poland A links together an archipelago of cities and their younger, wealthier inhabitants. Poland B encompasses the poorer, older parts of the population, many clustered in the countryside, particularly in the country’s eastern reaches near the former Soviet border. ... You can find the equivalent of Poland A and Poland B elsewhere in Eastern Europe, too. The capitals of the region -- Prague, Bratislava, Budapest -- enjoy per capita GDPs well above the European average, while rural areas suffer. The B populations, however, have not taken their increasingly second-class citizenship quietly. Throughout the region they’ve risen up to vote for populist, often rabid, right-wing parties like FIDESZ and Jobbik in Hungary and GERB and Ataka in Bulgaria that voice their disappointment and swear they’ll make their countries great again. These parties are consistently anti-liberal in the European sense, opposing both an unregulated market and tolerant open societies. Even in the Western European heartlands, you can see a Europe B coalescing around nationalist, anti-immigrant parties like the National Front in France, the UK Independence Party in Great Britain, the Swedish Democratic Party, and the Freedom Party of Austria (whose leader just lost the country’s presidency by 0.6% of the vote). While Europe A tries to keep the EU show going, Europe B is already heading for the exits. (Think: Brexit in England.)" If the Democratic Party is to survive, it needs to start crafting a message to "America B" showing that diversity and tolerance helps them rather than hurts them - and stop with one-sided "free trade" initiatives and give-aways to Wall Street. If we continue letting the Republicans equate diversity with "special privileges" and job opportunity losses ("quotas"), we're in for very grim times.
Toggle Commented Nov 27, 2016 on On Krugman And The Working Class at Economist's View
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There are a number of reasons The Donald won - the 30+ year campaign to demonize Hillary, the FBI's unprecedented press conference, the fake news explosion, etc. However, the basic reason is the increasing desperation of the middle class. Given a choice of more of the same slow decaying job flight, or someone skilled at convincing people that his latest project will bring back prosperity - enough people chose to believe Trump's promises, and gave him the win. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the jobs don't come back - my bet is that Mr. Trump will need a foreign enemy to blame things on, and for the people to unite against. He'll likely pick China. China's got its own problems, and will likely pick the US as its foreign enemy scapegoat. Look for trouble in the South China Sea in 2019 / 2020.
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Republicans and trolls use the same "rope-a-dope" strategy: they say outrageous things seeking to stir up anger, making it difficult to engage the rational side of one's brain. It's Steve Bannon's whole media strategy: As Bannon made clear throughout that interview, he thinks he’s a lot smarter than his liberal opponents. So he assumes that he can play them by tossing out lines like that one about the power of dark forces and watch them set their hair on fire while he carries on with his plans. In other words, Bannon throws out incendiary bait that triggers System 1 thinking while he strategizes about how to outmaneuver them with System 2 thinking. System 1: Fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious System 2: Slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious Source: Washington Monthly blog
Toggle Commented Nov 25, 2016 on Whale at Whiskey Fire
Entering into an business arrangement with no exit strategy if things aren't working out is a very bad idea. That's what makes these arbitration boards so dangerous - they can arbitrarily decide whether a law is meant to protect people, or as a restraint on trade. Consider what happens if the US decides to, say, ban the import of Internet-capable devices that lack basic security protections. Are they doing it to help prevent DDoS attacks such as the one that shut down major web sites recently - or as a restraint on imports? Should an arbitration board really have the power to make that decision?
The problem I have with Airbnb is that by ignoring the licensing and regulatory requirements for their industry, they motivate other providers to push for a "race to the bottom." After all, why should a hotel have to comply with, say, handicapped access requirements, or pay hotel taxes, if the Airbnb providers can ignore these requirements? It's only a matter of time before the larger hotel chains get into the act, and start having "off the books" rooms at nearby apartment buildings. As to rent control issues - allowing renters to easily violate the anti-subletting clauses of their leases with little fear of detection has a number of drawbacks - starting with landlords pulling the more desirable units permanently off the long-term rental market, and speculators outbidding long-term residents for the nicer units in a given market, then being forced to cut prices due to oversupply. (Look at the current fracking industry issues with oversupply forcing frackers to sell oil below the extraction cost merely to have some income to offset fixed expenses.) All in all, disrupting a market is a fun catch phrase until your life is being disrupted. Boom and bust cycles in housing are fun for speculators, but not so enjoyable for renters when their local housing market is in a constant state of flux, where landlords are either evicting you from your apartment in order to cash in on short-term rentals, or going bankrupt from a lack of business.
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DeDude is right - the primary cause of too big to fail (TBTF) bank risk-taking is that there's no downside for the folks who earn large bonus checks from taking such risks. Pass laws making it easier to prosecute such behavior, or enacting mandatory 5-year vesting periods for bonuses (with a "clawback" provision to reclaim losses from the persons who earned large salaries and bonuses from taking such risks), and we'd see the problem considerably reduced. At present, everyone holds up Arthur Anderson as a bad example - irresponsible people put bonus checks over ethical behavior, and took down the whole company. Now, nobody wants to take down an entire company - and the laws are so lax that they can't punish individuals, so the problem continues.
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All ISIS/Daesh is doing is taking credit for actions performed by crazy and/or angry people. It is a form of terrorism, because it attempt to frighten people into taking certain political positions, such as viewing bigotry as a rational action. It's working, too, at least in this comment thread - but it isn't "sneaking past our defenses." Instead, it's just words. Remember, the goal of ISIS is to discredit the idea that we can all get along in a multicultural environment. ISIS/Daesh seeks to trigger racism and religious bigotry in the US, followed by massive human rights abuses and denial of due process. It's modeled on al Qaeda's successful campaign to portray the US as hypocritical for advocating the rule of law by tricking us into giving up on the idea when we felt threatened. Racial/religious profiling won't stop terrorism - remember the man who killed nine people at a black church - or the man who shot the Sikhs in Wisconsin? Classic "lone wolf" terrorism, even if the media only use that term for actions performed by certain religious/ethnic groups. The real problem is that the planet is running out of resources - so people feel threatened and insecure. Given the ever-increasing population and the fixed amount of resources available*, we'll be fighting each other more and more to either protect our resources, or take resources from others. *The First Law of Thermodynamics: matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed, only its form can be changed. Just because we keep finding more oil doesn't mean we won't run out at some point - all it means is that we haven't found it all yet. Fresh water is also getting scarcer - we're pumping the aquifers dry.
Shouldn't the criteria used for belief in conspiracy theories be irrational beliefs? Consider these four questions: 1) “Much of our lives are being controlled by plots hatched in secret places,” 2) “Even though we live in a democracy, a few people will always run things anyway,” 3) “The people who really ‘run’ the country are not known to the voters.” 4) “Big events like wars, the current recession, and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people who are working in secret against the rest of us.” The four questions posed by these researchers do not attempt to determine the factual basis underlying the respondent's answers. Given the Citizens United decision, and organizations such as ALEC, it seems rational to conclude that a few rich billionaires and SuperPACs, operating largely in secret, have great influence over politics in these United States. However, UN black helicopters ferrying people to secret FEMA camps under abandoned WalMarts don't have similar supporting evidence. The methodology used by these researchers fails to look at underlying facts, thus equating fact-based concerns with delusions. It's like asking people whether they think large numbers of people are trying to kill them - some underlying facts are also required before dismissing their fears. In Catch-22, Yossarian said that he was afraid that large numbers of people were conspiring to kill him. The squadron's doctor pointed out that as a US bomber pilot in WW2, the German Army was indeed trying to kill him. The researchers in this study would equate Yossarian's fact-based fear with those of someone with paranoid delusions having no basis in reality. It takes more than establishing that both Yossarian and the paranoid person share a belief that large numbers of people are conspiring to kill them before one can conclude that their fears have an equal basis in reality. The researchers merely established that their research was designed to support their desired conclusion.
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2016 on I Got Bulldog Skin at Whiskey Fire
Gee, a sermon from the priests of High Broderism at the WaPo. How totally expected.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2016 on I Got Bulldog Skin at Whiskey Fire
Shouldn't they credit the economist Sam Vimes of Anhk Morpork for this theory? "Vimes earns $38 a month, and a pair of quality boots that lasts ten seasons costs $50. He can't afford $50 boots, but he can afford $10 boots that last a whole season. However, at the end of ten seasons he has spent twice as much on boots as a rich person who could afford to initially spend the $50, all the while still having wet feet because of the quality. This, to Vimes, explains how a wealthy person could have double the luxury as Vimes does by spending half as much." Terry Prachett's Nightwatch (quote from the Houston Press' THE 5 MOST BRILLIANT PRINCIPLES POP CULTURE GAVE US
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I remember the last time the dreaded Politically Correct trend swept the nation - or at least, the pages of bilge generated by lazy pundits. What's really going on, of course, is that folks other than those on the right are insisting on airing their views - and sometimes seeking to suppress folks with opposing views from speaking their minds. The Right used to have a monopoly on this - and are now upset that powers they once exclusively wielded are now being used against them. They want to return to the 1950s, when only the Right had the ability to suppress speech they didn't want heard. Censorship of offensive ideas is bad, regardless of whose views are being censored. However, the folks protesting the dreaded "PC Police" are also the first ones to try and suppress speech that they themselves don't like (See e.g. the Dixie Chicks, or the boycott of Doritos by the same folks who decried the boycott of Chik-Fil-A.) I'd suggest that government suppressing speech is bad (so public universities shouldn't regulate speech). However, until right wingers start advocating forcing Oral Roberts University to invite Iranian mullahs on campus to try and convert their students to Islam, I'd suggest that they either shut up about the PC Police, or begin calling themselves the Wingnut Police.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2015 on Freak Speech at Whiskey Fire
Indeed. For that matter, students are taught ideal gas law ( in beginning Chemistry and Physics classes to teach basic fundamentals of how gasses behave, and then introduce more and more real-world complications (such as Van der Waals equation.) And so, teaching free market theory by starting with an infinite number of providers and rational consumers with perfect knowledge operating in a realm where everything can be bought and sold in a market is a good starting point. What far too many people do is decide against making all those messy real-world corrections (monopolies, irrational consumers, public goods such as clean air and clean water...)
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To quote Hunter S. Thompson: "even a blind pig finds the occasional acorn."
Toggle Commented Jun 28, 2015 on OK Then at Whiskey Fire
Conservatives define morality as anything which allows them to either keep their existing power, or seize more. Moral relativism, thy name is Republican.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2015 on Ceep Cool with Koolidge at Whiskey Fire
Does the use of Che Guevara's image in a capitalistic enterprise (such as selling T shirts) amuse someone like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen? Or do these folks simply recall Che's death by a secret police death squad as a triumph of the rule of law? (/snark)
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2015 on Waving That Bloody Shirt at Whiskey Fire
Terry made the world a more cheerful place through his writing, and we are all diminished by his untimely death.
Toggle Commented Mar 15, 2015 on Buggerit at Whiskey Fire
That's it exactly - they're angry about other grifters scamming the marks that they were planning on scamming themselves.
I'd suggest examining another Greek philosophy in the context of banking systems: "nothing to excess." It's the Goldilocks dilemma: too many regulations and too few regulations yield non-optimal results. The trick is to set a level of regulation that is "just right." Currently, we're in far too little regulation territory. One solution: get rid of the "I'll be gone, you'll be gone" short-term income maximization motivation by paying bonuses in company stock, and putting a 5-year hold on selling it (or using it as collateral). This would have to be imposed by law to avoid prisoner's dilemma issues, but it would go a long way to fixing our current financial markets. Can't do it now, as there's not enough political will - perhaps after the next crash...
Toggle Commented Jan 30, 2015 on A Moral Case for Bank Money at Economist's View
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As government ratchets increasingly to the right, the right keeps moving the goalposts further right. Before long, they'll claim that the John Birch Society was a communist front organization...
Toggle Commented Jan 25, 2015 on It's a Hypothesis at Whiskey Fire
Standardized tests are absolutely worthless for measuring teacher performance for two reasons: 1) To be at all meaningful, you'd need to test students both at the beginning of each year as well as the end of each year, and measure improvement by how much they had improved. 2) More importantly, standardized tests typically measure rote memorization of facts rather than how to use those facts. One classic example of this was described in Richard Feynman's book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: ... I discovered a very strange phenomenon: I could ask a question, which the students would answer immediately. But the next time I would ask the question, the same subject, and the same question, as far as I could tell, they couldn't answer it at all! ... After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn't know what anything meant. When they heard light that is reflected from a medium with an index, they didn't know that it meant a material such as water. They didn't know that the direction of the light is the direction in which you see something when you're looking at it, and so on. Everything was entirely memorized, yet nothing had been translated into meaningful words. In the misguided quest for measurable metrics, we're generating a legion of students trained to memorize and regurgitate facts - without training them how to use those facts. Another case of poorly-chosen metrics causing decision makers to make bad decisions.
I'd say that if the Affordable Care Act taught us anything, it's that the current Republican Party does not negotiate in good faith. Remember all the unilateral concessions that President Obama's team made? Remember how the Republicans got one concession after another, and still voted against it? As others have pointed out, the Republicans tried everything they could to block this legislation. In the post-Gingrich era, Republicans routinely conduct a scorched earth negotiating policy against the Democrats, where the Republicans enact all their policy objectives while accepting only unilateral concessions from the Democrats. Had the ACA not been passed with Democratic votes (despite every obstruction the Republicans could muster), there simply would not have been any legislation at all.
Toggle Commented Jan 11, 2015 on Policy Uncertainty at Economist's View
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Yeah, restaurants and bars have never had problems with people passing out from too much alcohol. (/snark)
Toggle Commented Jan 3, 2015 on Weird Weather Patterns at Whiskey Fire
Yes, and freshman physics is classically described as the study of frictionless elephants whose masses can be ignored. Freshman start on oversimplified versions of physics, and then more and more complications are added. So, too, with economics: one starts with the basic analysis framework that consumers are all coldly logical, unemotional self-centered greedheads with perfect knowledge and an infinite number of competing suppliers, and everything is bought and sold in a market. Then, one starts adding complexities: monopolies, imperfect knowledge, non-logical behaviors, goods which are not bought and sold in markets (clean air and water), etc. Some of the basic premises of elementary economics should be challenged, such as the idea that humans are rational creatures rather than rationalizing creatures. However, it seems unrealistic to be able to explain complex economies in an introductory course.
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Yeah, building a new casino is a guaranteed moneymaker - can't fail! Just ask Atlantic City... Two More Atlantic City Casinos May Declare Bankruptcy (NY Post, September 30, 2014) There could soon be just six Atlantic City casinos in operation. ... There were 12 at the beginning of the year.
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2014 on Shocker in Gloomtown at Whiskey Fire
I'm not so sure that income inequality hasn't always entered into the opposition to EPA regulations, if only indirectly. Consider the price of housing as a function of distance from a polluting business. The immediate impact of an industry generating significant air pollution is inversely proportional to the distance one's home is from that industry, so expensive housing tends to be farther away from polluting industries than cheaper housing. Imagine if a power plant belching out noxious fumes and soot is directly upwind of, say, the most prestigious country club in the area - but does not affect air quality in residential areas. Now imagine an identical power plant, but this time sited in a location surrounded by the homes of the poor and lower-middle class. Imagine further that the plant's owners and the rest of the upper and upper-middle class residents live upwind from the plant and are not often exposed to the soot and the smells. Wouldn't we see opposition to the respective plants linked to income levels? The "get the EPA off our backs" meme has similar correlations: the rich see added expense to install pollution controls, and no direct benefit to themselves because they are rarely exposed directly to the pollution. Add in the increasing ideological opposition to having the government provide anything of benefit to the population other than military, police, and fire services, and one sees opposition to government pollution regulations with a correlation to one's income level.
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