Linky Friday #49


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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104 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Ho3-According to the article the growth between suburban and urban areas seem about equal percentage wise. As commentators in the section pointed out, since suburban areas tend to have lower populations to begin with; you need fewer people moving in to get higher growth. Lets say you have a suburb of 10,000 people and an urban neighborhood with 50,000 people. If a 1000 people move into both in a given year than the suburban neighborhood has a higher percentage of growth because of the lower population.

    Another issue is that current zoning laws favors building low density single family houses over higher density apartment buildings through out the United States. Obviously this makes moving into a suburban area better. Highways and roads get more funding than public transportation to.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      As commentators in the section pointed out, since suburban areas tend to have lower populations to begin with; you need fewer people moving in to get higher growth.

      This is true, but backwards. More people live in the suburbs than in the city centers, and so equal growth rates actually mean suburbs continue to have the population advantage. A lot of this depends on what we count as “city” and “suburb” of course.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        But what does it mean to live in the city center? Most of the major cities in America consist of a downtown area and lots of dense neighborhoods. Very few people live in Chicago’s Loop or San Francisco’s Financial District, the city centers but lots of people live in dense neighborhoods near them and many of these neighborhoods do not conform to the stereotypical suburban look.

        However, if your defining the center city as the anchor city of a metropolitan area than most people live in the suburbs than the center city.Report

      • The most straightforward way, to me, to define city versus suburb is by way of city versus metro. The city of Houston has two million people, but the metro has six million. Dallas and Fort Worth have a combined two million, the DFW area has nearly seven million. Seattle and Tacoma have a combine million, out of 3+ for the area. These numbers are pretty typical.

        In each instance there are people you can look at and say “These people are really more city” and “These people are more suburb”… but we’re looking at a pretty huge disparity here. I’m not sure there is a definition you can use where the suburbs don’t out-populate cities, in the aggregate.Report

      • Here’s an article talking about relative vs absolute growth, essentially saying that relative growth is larger in the cities, but absolute growth is larger in the suburbs.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Houston and Dallas are pretty much giant suburbs that happen to be under one city government. Neither are particularly densely populated and the usual housing type is a single family home. When I have to travel to Charlotte for work, its the same thing. It might be politically a city but its not what I call urban by any stretch of the imagination. The typical neighborhood in Houston, Dallas, or Charlotte is probably indistinguishable from a suburban neighborhood.Report

      • The US Census Bureau admits that there is no readily accepted definition of “suburban”. Lots of people seem to use the Bureau’s “inside an urbanized area but outside of the principal city” classification. Certainly that fails often; when I stand in the center of a residential street that’s the border between Denver and my inner-ring suburb, there’s no obvious difference in the housing and life styles on the two sides of the street. Without question, much of Denver’s population lives in areas that would be classified as suburban by most people: single-family homes, strip malls, dependence on cars.

        To Will’s point, though, using the classification above for suburban and letting rural mean “outside an urbanized area”, the US population split in very round numbers is 25% rural (and declining), 25% urban, and 50% suburban.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Michael Caine, I think that we need to use cultural defintions to define the difference between suburban and urban. To me a suburb is dominated by strict land use, single family homes, and dependence on the car. Most people would describe many of the Sun Belt cities as being more suburban than urban in character. When I’m in Philadelphia or Boston, it feels more like a city than Charlotte.Report

      • I suspect that if you use those as definitions, Lee, the disparity becomes considerably larger. Most of the two million people in the City of Houston get classified as suburban. The same being true for a whole lot of cities. I think there are a lot more people in that category than living in Newark and other cities that might be wrongly considered suburbs under the “city lines” methodology.Report

      • Lee, I think it’s just a matter of time. We’ve got the computing horsepower and storage capacity to put the Census Bureau’s people-by-address data together with Google Earth imagery and make the desired classification. I also think that Will is right: the percent of population living in “suburban” areas by such a measure will be quite a bit bigger than the numbers used today. This will be particularly true in the South and the West, where there weren’t many established large cities prior to the widespread availability of cars. I like Las Vegas as an extreme example. The working man’s Model T was introduced in 1908. Las Vegas population in 1910 was 800; today the “city” proper is right at 600,000; and the metro area is 2M.

        Have to wonder what it does to the “rural” count as well. I stop for lunch in North Platte, Nebraska at least a couple of times per year. Just under 25,000 people, almost all single-family homes, strict in-town zoning, shopping and such clearly laid out under the assumption that everyone has a car. The lifestyle is suburban, even though there’s no “principal city” nearby for them to be a suburb of.Report

      • What size population does it take to count as “non-rural” right now?Report

      • What size population does it take to count as “non-rural” right now?

        The Census Bureau seems to change the definition every census. It used to be that non-rural meant >25 miles from a town/city with a population >25,000. In Nebraska, that meant extending the boundaries for Omaha, Lincoln, and Sioux City, Iowa out 25 miles and the rest of the state was rural. Now the Bureau has two categories of non-rural: “urban areas” that are >50,000, and “urban clusters” that have >2,500 and <50,000. Some amount of Nebraska’s former non-urban population now falls into one of the urban clusters. Under the old formula, New Jersey and California were tied for the “least rural” crown; under the new, New Jersey wins and California is only fourth.

        There’s always been a substantial divide between the western states’ (my 11-state West) rural population percentages. Under the new formula, California(4), Nevada(6), Utah(10), Arizona(11), Colorado(13) and Washington(15) are among the 15 least-rural states; Oregon(28) falls about in the middle; and the remainder are much farther down the list. Most of the western states, particularly those in the top 15, are rapidly becoming less rural. Generally bad news for the Republicans there; Colorado’s Republican Party shows signs of developing an “I favor rural interests” litmus test for candidates for state-wide offices, which I think will turn into a disaster at the polls.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        “To me a suburb is dominated by strict land use, single family homes, and dependence on the car.”

        This definition covers wide swaths of Washington DC, both higher incomes and lower incomes.Report

      • It used to be that non-rural meant >25 miles from a town/city with a population >25,000.

        Blech. Rural, not non-rural. The Census Bureau also seems to go back and forth on whether they want to call it rural or non-urban, and my fingers occasionally produce non-rural by accident.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        I think you’re demonstrating how much our “baselines” matter. Like you, I grew up just outside NYC. My hometown is 10 minutes from Manhattan, had a population of approximately 40K, and has multiple commercial districts in town. The majority of the population live in single-family homes but there are a good amount of two-family homes and several large apartment complexes. A car is typically needed, but there are public transportation options and the town is very walkable. Population density is approximately 6500/square mile.

        To you and me, this is quite obviously a suburb. It’s not downtown Manhattan. There are no skyscrapers or subways or taxis. But if you took someone from middle-of-nowhere Wyoming, they’d look at my hometown (Teaneck, NJ) and think, “Holy crap… this is the big city!” Wyoming’s capital (Cheyenne) has a population of 60K but a population density of just 2900/square mile.

        Without an objective measure, we are left using subjective and often relative measures, meaning people from major cities like NY and Chicago are heavily skewed and people from the middle of nowhere are similarly skewed the opposite direction.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

        Seems to me that the cultural term “urban” is often identified with legalistic term “city”. And that the term “suburbs” is similarly confused with “outside the city limits”. Likewise, the term “rural” *tries* to pick out an lifestyle based on economic interests which don’t comprise the cultural definition of urban/suburban.

        Density matters here. Yesterdays suburbs are nowadays parts of the “city”. Also, what was rural culture yesterday is now a suburb of the city.

        Alternatively, density doesn’t strike me as capturing what people want to say about the distinction either. But maybe it’s the best metric to try to make these types of terms useful given the inherent vagueness of what we mean when we talk about “rural America”.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Wasn’t it a previous Friday link that pointed out the government uses something like 20 different definitions of rural, including at least a half dozen different ones just in the USDA?Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    [C1] I recently switched out of a chain of strip-mall hair-cutters to an old-fashioned barbershop, with spinning pole and guy-gossip and the combs resting in that blue alcohol solution. Picked the guy with the worst haircut in the place to cut my hair and was pleased with the result. It’s cash only, but cheaper than the chain and the quality of the cut, and the atmosphere, was better than the strip-mall franchise.

    [He5] I have a feeling I may prefer to remain ignorant here.Report

  3. Avatar NewDealer says:

    En1: I think environmentalists want oil to decline for more reasons than it is a limited resource. They want it to decline because of how fossil fuels accelerate climate change and other damages. This is also the concern against fracking. We might be a long way away from clean energy but we should be spending lots of R and D money into developing it. Also I find it interesting/revealing that conservatives seem to think liberals are incapable of happiness. I’ve seen this more than once.

    C1: Barbershops have been undergoing a renaissance in those creative class centers known as Brooklyn and San Francisco. They have a purposefully turn of the century kind of feel. They are kind of expensive. 40 dollars for a haircut and 40 dollars for a shave. 75 if you get a haircut and a shave. I think of them as a beauty parlors for men. I go to a place that charges 25 dollars. The chains don’t do it for me because they don’t know anything about curly hair.

    C3: One of those posters was a straight up Nazi poster from WWII and extremely anti-Semitic, the one with the Star of David. Another was very racist against Asians and said they would turn white women into their sex slaves. I’m not sure you want to highlight these as awesome or that the io9 did.

    H01: I’m not fond of the creative class meme either even if I really like all those NPR-White People-Indie Rock-Creative Class things. I don’t know about the politics of the writer but I do think I know why businesses choose to remain in blue cities or start there instead of places like Cleveland (part of another Matt Y essay) or one conservative wondered to me about why doesn’t tech move to South Dakota or Oklahoma. The older and established cities already have what high talented employees want: good bars, good restaurants, entertainment and cultural opportunities beyond the multiplex and local sports, etc. Plus the weather in San Francisco is a lot more temperate than Alaska or Texas at the other extreme of weather.

    H02: I don’t think you get to decide that suburbs are winning by changing the definition of what counts as a suburb.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

      C3: The posters are ridiculously over the top. That’s what makes them wortwhile. Not really agreement with the over-the-top rhetoric on them.

      Ho1: South Dakota (Sioux Falls) suffers due to an inability to find great workers who want to live there. Tech has been expanding quite a bit into the other places. I think the ultimate answer to why they haven’t relocated en masse is that companies mostly anchor where corporate chiefs want to be. Marissa Meyer has no problem with Silicon Valley’s cost of living. So why move to Austin? (That’s an oversimplification. First, because a lot of their employees like it there. Second, while Yahoo may not be making any sort of shift to Austin, a lot of tech companies are opening offices in cheaper locations.)

      Ho2 is about a $20,000 house. Assuming you’re looking at Ho3 and/or referencing my conversation with Lee, I don’t think I am being particularly creative in my definitions. Nor do I think the author of the article is being creative. He’s looking at the biggest city compared to the suburbs. I think that’s generally the way to go, except for sibling city cases (ie Seattle-Tacoma, or Dallas-FW). I think it’s hard to come up with a consistent system where cities are more populated than suburbs. You may be able to come up with a system where urban growth is outpacing suburban growth, but then it goes back to the reverse of what Lee was talking about: it’s easier for the smaller to sustain larger population growth than the larger.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

        Techies have no problem affording to live in the Bay Area. It is the non-techies even non-techie white collar workers who are having the affordability issues. So using a billionaire CEO as an example is kind of silly. The Bay Area affordability problems have to do with techie salary and benefits (including for entry-level programmers) making a lot more money than everyone else. It is one particular segment of the industry that is booming while everyone else is continuing at pace or contracting.

        I have yet to see many examples of these techies who want to live in South Dakota or Boise or Omaha despite what I hear. They want to live in Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor, New York, Los Angeles, etc.

        The affordability issue in the Bay Area is roughly techie v. everyone else. Just like in New York it seems to be roughly finance v. everyone else.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

        I think the dual city metro issue is bigger than you think.

        The NYC Metro Area is really big. It covers at least three states (NY, NJ, and Connecticut) but also parts of Pennsylvania and possibly Massachusetts. There are a good number of people who rent a small apartment in NYC but have their house in Pennslyvania or Mass or elsewhere. They tend to do four-day workweeks in the city and leave on Thursday night for their out-of-state homes. It also contains more cities than NYC. New Haven, Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Poughkeepsie, Yonkers, and White Plains are cities but also have a lot of commuters who work in NYC.

        The San Francisco-Bay Area is 11 counties and contains the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose. Walnut Creek also potentially counts as a small city but again a lot of people live in Walnut Creek but commute to San Francisco which makes it both a bedroom suburb and a city. Sacramento is also considered part of the SF Bay Area.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        C3: Over the top posters are hillarious in retrospect but vehemet anti-Communism wrecked a lot of havoc at the time it existed with near literal witch hunts in the United States. When you know what started as a party, people thought that they were over the top and nobody would take them seriously until they got control and started the biggest war in human history.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Imagine how much Stalin would have been able to accomplish if Hitler hadn’t opposed him.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        ND- We went over this before but look at Ho4. The reason why San Francisco and other metropolitan cities are having an affordability crisis is that there isn’t enough housing. Demand is outpacing supply and NIMBYs are preventing the building of necessary housing by refusing to change the zoning laws to allow for taller, denser construction. Outside of SF and Oakland, all the cities and towns want to forbid the building of apartments and other multi-family homes. SF residents want to have their cake and eat it to in that they want cheap housing but they don’t want their aesthetics of San Francisco to change.

        You also go to barbershop, its just cheaper than the hipster ones because they only give you a haircut rather than an experience.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:


        That is an offensive thing to say to someone who is Jewish. I think the whole who was worst Stalin or Hitler thing needs to stop, it is probably the silliest and most offensive of ideological pissing matches. They were both really bad and “Imagine how much Hitler would have accomplished without Stalin stopping him” is an equally valid question.


        San Francisco is building as fast as it can. The only other thing it can seemingly do at this point is use emenient domain to buy low-level units, raze them, and build up. SF and NYC are also doomed by limited geography which everyone wants to ignore. SF also has the whole Earthquake proofing issue which makes building a slower process. I don’t think anyone wants high-rises that will come crashing down during a quake.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        The problem is that there is plenty of places in the Bay Area that can be urbanized to hold more people but aren’t because of zoning issues.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Will Truman says:

        Some of the anti-communist posters were over the top. Most of them, even the over the top ones, were spot-on correct though.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Would you say that that comparison would be more, or less, offensive than a comparison between the Nazis and the American anti-communists?Report

      • ND, as a general rule, never look at New York City as typical. Elsewhere I used Houston and DFW, but you see the same thing in a lot of places (Minneapolis-StP are 700,000 out of 3m, Milwaukee is 600k out of 1.3-1.5m. NYC is large enough that even the surrounding cities have a stronger claim to city-hood than many cities.

        Honestly, my own suburb has a claim to city-hood insofar as most of the people I knew there lived there and worked there and it was, in many ways, its own unit. But nobody – and I mean nobody – would look at the area as being a city of 250k strong. They’d look at it as a suburb in a city of millions. I actually pushed back against the notion that it was a suburb for the longest time… to no avail. The only time I ever hear of places of Redmond (WA) as being “Not a suburb” is during conversations like these.

        Most of the software developers I know have little or no desire to live in Silicon Valley. Which says more about the developers I know than it does about developer desires. The same is true if you’re talking about developers in SV… it’s not a representative sample-set. I don’t think they want to live in Omaha (and never suggested otherwise) but I do think a lot of them would be content to live in Austin or even DFW where they can afford a nice house. Others, of course, would not be very content at all.

        In any which way, we have a real tendency to stick our economic centers precisely in places that make it rather difficult for non-elites to be able to afford it. I don’t think this is entirely unrelated to the fact that the people making the decisions are not the ones that have difficulty affording it.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman says:

        San Francisco is building as fast as it can. The only other thing it can seemingly do at this point is use emenient domain to buy low-level units, raze them, and build up

        I just can’t buy either part of this. The “as fast as it can” assumes that there are no delays caused by unnecessarily restrictive zoning regulations or bureaucratic red tape. And the suggestion that the power of eminent domain is necessary to buy lower-valued properties is falsified by the history—in every city–of parcels being privately bought, razed, and rebuilt. If the value of doing so is there, the private developer can afford to pay the price. What eminent domain does in those cases is allow the developer to avoid paying the full value, which is its future use, not just its value at present use. It’s a wicked rip-off of current property owners for the benefit of those who are already better off.

        This will especially be the case for SF, where homeownership rates are low. Homeowners can be resistant to moving at any price, because of emotional attachment. But owners of apartment buildings are profit-motivated; offer them a price that profits them and they’ll sign as quickly as you can put the paper in front of them–cash on the barrelhead beats dealing with pesky tenants!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman says:

        I don’t think anyone wants high-rises that will come crashing down during a quake.

        SF has plenty of high rises, many of them located on the soft soils–even landfill of what used to be the bay–of downtown, none of which came crashing down in the Loma Prieta quake. Japan has plenty of high rises, too. We know how to build for most earthquakes. It’s expensive, yes, but the presence of 30-50 story buildings in SF shows it can be profitable.

        Maybe 100 story skyscrapers aren’t a good idea in earthquake zones; I don’t claim to know what the limits are. But replacing three or four 2-3 story apartment buildings with a 10-20 story one is obviously doable with modern building technology, and creates dramatic increases in housing units.

        The problem in SF is not lack of space or earthquakes; it’s political, by which I mean there are a variety of resistances that feed into the political system to act as a brake on growth, such as concern for current inhabitants/communities, objection to the type of people who can afford luxury condos, a desire to retain SF’s current look and feel (both it’s cutesy romantic look/feel and its counter-cultural feel–imagine a 40 story post-modernist apartment building in Haight Ashbury!). It’s all understandable, so I think we should see it for what it is, and not whitewash it with inaccurate concerns about the performance of high-rises in earthquakes.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        James, I agree completely. A lot of the problems with urban housing is caused by people wanting to have their cake and eat it to. That is they want the city of their choice to have cheaper housing but they want to maintain a certain aesthetic look. You really can’t have it both ways. NYC is doing the right thing by rezoning places and allowing more housing to be built.

        That being said, the construction is going on at a slower pace than I imagine. The Williamsburg waterfront is scheduled for completion in 2030. I suppose that we take more care of environmental and safety issues than we did in the past but 2030 still seems to be a tad long for me.Report

      • The problem in SF is not lack of space

        I would argue that it’s both lack of space and sub-optimal levels of development. More the former than the latter, though. They could develop more than they do, which would help, but would only help so much. On the other hand, the resistance to development would matter a lot less if it were situation somewhere around Killeen, Texas.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman says:


        Compare SF to Hong Kong or Singapore. I really don’t think it’s lack of space, but unwillingness to use its space maximally.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Loma Prieta was a 6.9 centered in Santa Cruz. Worst case would be much, much worse.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Techies have no problem affording to live in the Bay Area.

        That is, young people, often single or with two incomes and no kids, who have jobs with the best-paying firms, don’t face affordability issues.Report

      • James, this is one of those areas where I think we are fundamentally different from a lot of other countries. While we are completely in agreement that we should build up as much as the market with bear, I don’t think market-bearance comes close in the US as it does to other countries. We have certain expectations when it comes to space, and we have more other places we can move to when the apartments become too small, too high, and so on.Report

      • Worth noting: Population density in Manhattan is lower now than it was 30 years ago (and 50 years ago, and over 30% lower than it was 100 years ago).Report

      • I have yet to see many examples of these techies who want to live in South Dakota or Boise or Omaha despite what I hear. They want to live in Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor, New York, Los Angeles, etc.

        If I recall where you prefer to live correctly, I’m not surprised. I have family in the Omaha area and have heard/read about the growing tech base there. (I also have a tendency to extrapolate from my own high school/undergraduate days in Nebraska, so take the following with the necessary grain of salt.)

        It’s not the same group of people. Working in telecommunications research here in the Denver area, I met both people who would be attracted to tech work in Omaha, and those attracted to tech work in the Bay Area. They’re largely different sets of people; the Bay Area tech folks weren’t interested in Omaha and the Omaha tech folks weren’t interested in the Bay Area. There are large cultural differences outside of the work. The jump from a small town in Nebraska to an engineering/science program at the University in Lincoln to a start-up tech firm in Omaha is one thing. To make the jump to the Bay Area or NYC is another. I think it’s equally hard for someone who grows up in or around truly large cities to make the jump “down” to Omaha.

        The emphasis of the tech can be quite different as well. To pick on stereotypes, if your biology research is for genetically-modified corn (say, with the kernels being rich in precursors for making plastic) then San Jose is probably not a good place to set up shop. Omaha, on the Iowa/Nebraska border, is.Report

    • ” I don’t know about the politics of the writer but I do think I know why businesses choose to remain in blue cities or start there instead of places like Cleveland (part of another Matt Y essay) or one conservative wondered to me about why doesn’t tech move to South Dakota or Oklahoma.”

      I haven’t read the Matt Y. essay, and I don’t know much about Cleveland, but when I think of its politics, “Blue” seems more appropriate than Red. And although Ohio probably leans Red, it’s swing state status suggests to me that it’s not solidly so.

      And as someone else suggested above, if you live in SF, among other people who live in the SF-area, you’re more likely to know people who prefer to live there than prefer to live elsewhere, regardless of how the numbers shake down.

      And for all I know, the backwater city that certain people now look down on might, in 20 years time and with the help of free enterprise zones and some anti-union policies, might very soon become acceptable to those who just need a few coffee houses, bars, cultural amenities, and light rail systems to meet their needs. People like to be among others like them and tend to find it difficult when those others aren’t of the similar social class or ethnicity or religious preferences or educational background. I personally believe we’re all like that, but let’s not pretend that parochialism is a value only of provincial hicks.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    C1-I technically get my hair cut on a unisex saloon but its a relatively expensive one and they have barbers for the men. Its also designed to mimic a late 19th century barbershop. I think that the suburbs also contributed to the death of the barbershop because they were local institutions, the type that post-WWII suburbs were brutal on.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I got my hair cut yesterday at SportsClips. Not really intentionally, but because it was open and Fantastic Sams was not. One of my early jobs was sweeping hair at one of those chains, so that’s where I typically go. The chain where I worked if I can, but an equivalent if I cannot.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    He5 – That list of foods wasn’t too traumatic. Only one entry from Subway, and I wasn’t going anywhere near that crab salad anyway. As for Wendy’s, I didn’t know why the chili was so bad, but I knew that it was bad.

    And seriously, how could anyone eat McDonald’s or Burger King’s fish sandwiches? They’re terrible. McDonald’s is worse, but neither one is any good, and they’re pure grease with mayo on top. If I’m going to eat something that’s bad for me, I want it to at least taste good.Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    I really enjoyed the Star Trek economics post. If you followed the links off of it to the original posts it references you pretty much have a complete rational breakdown of the Federations’ economic system and a good link to the economies of today. Maybe it’s just the trekkie in me but I found it enormously optimistic and cheering.Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Do you really not get why whose worse arguments between Nazis and the Communists are bad and don’t really do anything to people who suffered under one or both groups?

    I see libertarians and conservatives making the Stalin and Mao killed more people than Hitler argument fairly often? Why is this an important talking point to win? There are not many people on the left who admire Stalin and those that do are rather old and dying pretty quickly. Most people on the left are probably more likely to admire FDR, JFK, MLK, Ceasar Chavez, or much more mild Democratic Socialists like Nye Bevan and Clement Atlee and David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir (if they are also Zionist like me). It is only in the fever dreams of libertarians that huge swaths of the left are still enthralled with Communism and Stalin. And yes I consider there to be a big difference between Mixed Market Democratic Socialism as practiced in much of Western Europe and Israel over what the Soviet Union tried.

    So why is this Nazi v. Stalin fight so important? Wouldn’t it be better just to admit that neither Nazism or Stalinism are desirable?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer says:

      I try to let such arguments lie, but when people make comparisons between the Nazis and the anti-communists, I just can’t help myself.

      I’m like an animal.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird says:

        I was just pointing out that some of the posters in the link were anti-Semitic Nazi Propaganda posters. It had a Hammer and Sickle in a Star of David. The one that was racist towards Asians was American and pretty much following the same kind of “protect the virtue of white womanhood” that was part of the heart of the White racist movement in the United States.

        Neither of these are admirable.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Perhaps one thing you are missing Jay, is that anti-commies in the 30’s often rushed to embrace Hitler because he was anti-commie. Sure the H-man was bellicose and aggressive, but so was the Kaiser before him; it’s just sort of a German thing. One of the defining patterns of the post war era in US foreign policy was arming and supporting right wing bastards because they would fight left wing bastards. So we were against Mandela for years because he was lefty and our bastards in SA were righty.

        Or as ND says they were both terrible and there isn’t really much more that needs to be said. It is blindness to keep supporting one MF’er just because he is on the correct said of the spectrum and fighting some MF’er on the other side.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        Anti-Communists were also against admitting Jewish refugees before or after WWII because we Jews were viewed as natural reds and threats to White Protestant Capitalist America.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        Just as anti-Nazis during the 30s joined the Communist Party. Of course that was purely evil, and if they were still getting blacklisted for it into the early 60s, it served them right.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to NewDealer says:

      There are not many people on the left who admire Stalin and those that do are rather old and dying pretty quickly.

      We got you moving in the right direction; now we’re just trying to keep the pressure on so you don’t stop short of the goal. 😉Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        He gazed up at the taut face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the thin, drawn lips. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Ayn Rand.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer says:

      And there’s no one with any influence who admires Hitler.Report

    • @newdealer

      I almost completely agree with you here. My only objection is that most libertarians I have known online don’t tend to make the “most lefitsts are Stalinist sympathizers” argument. That argument has, in my experience, been the domain of certain neo-cons I’ve known personally and some bloggers who make wide-ranging, thesis-less statements that are hard to understand but seem to brush any critic of Godwin’s bane with a “pro-Stalin” viewpoint.

      But again, you’re mostly right. Harping on the comparison is offensive.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    [Eu2] In Slovakia, as elsewhere, radical pro-market reforms have been good for economic performance—in 2007, for instance, the Slovak economy expanded by 10 percent.

    I wonder what might have happened in 2008/2009 to disenchant the Slovaks with the wonders of radical deregulation.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    En4: I hate articles that quote a politician saying, “We’re building a new type of nuclear reactor!” and the author can’t be bothered to ask any follow-up questions, or do even a bit of research, in order to indicate just what “new” might mean. The article mentions an Italian company whose website suggests they have some experience with research-scale lead-cooled fast-neutron reactors. Describing that as new is at least a bit of a stretch; small reactors of that type were used in Alfa-class submarines and the Russians have a number of lead-cooled commercial designs in active development.

    More interesting, I think, is the sheer number of countries with developing economies that are looking seriously at nuclear power for reliable base-load power generation (and in some, use the waste heat for desalinization). Unlike Iran, almost all of them are not interested in building their own and are happy to sign on to the IAEA requirements. They’re dealing with Russia, China, Korea, and Japan because those countries are willing to sell technology (and in some cases make the necessary long-term loans). I’ve argued for a long time that the architects of US foreign policy were making a serious mistake in ignoring electricity as the foundation for modernizing a developing economy. Now the US is in the position of (a) being seen by those countries as opposed to others having nuclear power and (b) having no alternative to offer. Kind of odd that we seem headed in a direction where a country that wants to modernize is left with, “Well, we know that the US isn’t going to be any help, so…”Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Plus a thousand Michael. It’s a crying shame. I don’t understand why Canada isn’t more of a mover in that area though, they have an excellent program. Maybe they don’t peddle it hard enough or maybe it’s that heavy water reactors are just too fishing expensive.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to North says:

        Canada’s international experiences haven’t been good. India built bombs. Romania signed a big contract they couldn’t afford. Sales in Argentina got screwed up by devastating inflation, a military coup, and corruption investigations. Korea went into the reactor business for themselves. China has said things that suggest their long-term plan for the few CANDU reactors they bought is to burn spent fuel from light-water reactors in them as part of handling the waste stream.

        I expect China to be the big mover in the future simply because (a) they can afford to make more loans to potential customers and (b) they’re building so many of their own reactors they have the resources to sell everything from “here’s a design you can license” to “we’ll design, build, and operate it for you”.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        Well done, that makes perfect sense.Report

  10. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Can you think of any American city that is like Hong Kong or Singapore? How about any European city? Can you think of any American who wants to live like that?

    I think that level of upzoning fantasy only exist in the heads of a few neo-liberals and libertarians. I’m all for higher buildings but I don’t think you will ever turn the Bay Area into the next Hong Kong.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to NewDealer says:

      Even Andrew Sullivan who is a lot more sympathetic to Matt Y and other neo-liberal upzoners than I am admits he left Manhattan because he could not take diminished sunlight from the upzoning. Though I also think he was determined to hate NYC.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

      What is your solution to SF’s housing problem than?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I see SFand NYC as eventually becoming a city of wealthy people and corporate headquarters while most of their head count lives and works elsewhere.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Will, there aren’t enough wealthy people more SF and NYC to be composed only of wealthy people. If you count all five boroughs than NYC is also too geographically big to consist only of wealthy people, unless your using a broader defintion of wealthy.

        People have been predicting these things for a while and it never happens.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I use the term pretty broadly. Not just wealthy people, but those associated with corporate headquarters, people who work directly for the wealthy, and so on. It seems that this is the sort of thing that’s been happening in NYC and SF for quite some time now. I am just thinking that it will become more pronounced with time. Especially as it becomes harder for employers to pay people living in SF a middle-class salary. I don’t think it’ll be quite like the aerospace industry leaving LA in extent, but presumably something has got to give as the nation grows and SF doesn’t.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        These things have been predicted since the end of World War II if not earlier. We have Frank Lloyd Wright’s broadacre city and nothing close to that has come about. There are still tens of millions of people that like city life and the number is growing even if more people live in suburban areas.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think to some extent it already has happened. The growth of the suburbs and sun belt is somewhat indicative of this. San Fransisco has roughly the same population now as it did in 1950, and I think San Fransisco is far more a province of the wealthy now than it was back then.

        Would you disagree?

        So what do you envision happening? The valve has to release somehow. I don’t think adequate housing will be built to keep up with the number of jobs that would (but for costs) ideally be situated there. I don’t think the tech companies are going to pick up and leave (although they could) but I would expect most growth to occur elsewhere because… well… there’s only so much room in San Fransisco to grow, isn’t there? There are only so many non-tech-workers you can price out of the city.

        Do you really think there’s going to be a huge housing boom? That employees will be infinitely willing to pay higher and higher costs of living to avoid moving to Austin or Denver? How do you see this shaking out?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        San Francisco has roughly the same population that it did in 1950 but a lot of that represents recovery from loss due to suburbanization. I’d also point out that a lot of suburban growth has been around the old cities rather than away from them. The Bay Area has many more people than it did in 1950. In 1950 San Jose was a rural town surrounded by farm country. Now its a million plus city with a light rail system. That represents urbanization.

        People also thought that public transportation was dead in 1950 but many cities that never previously thought about public transportation and lovingly got rid of it in favor of the car are building light rail systems. Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, Seattle and even Phoenix are putting more emphasis on public transportation. What I see happening is the urbanization of the suburbs.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        In 1950, the cities defintely had more vibrant working and middle class lives but that ended through a complex series of government and private sector policies. Federal policies favored single-family homes and highways over apartments and public transportation. In a non-subsidized market, we might still get suburbinization, a more healthy mix of urban and suburban life, or less suburbs because there too expensive for the private market to build without subsidies from the government.

        Would we have mass suburbanization without a road system to encourage it?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think edge cities are a big part of the equation, and the formation of new cities around older ones. The other big part of the equation, though, is the growth of large cities out of midsize ones that aren’t near the more traditional of cities. Especially booming “suburban cities” like Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta (each of which gained more than a million people between 2000 and 2010). Point being, I see considerably more action outside of cities like Boston or San Francisco than inside of them.

        I don’t disagree with the notion that suburbs will see more urbanization, though eventually they too will get crowded and the farmland outside of them will start becoming more residential (and not with rowhouses and condos, though there is the hopeful possibility that those will come after as land values go up).

        As to the question of whether or not we would have seen the mass suburbanization without the subsidization of roads and whatnot… I think it depends. If the roads were never built at all and traffic was throttled then yeah, suburbanization never would have happened (which doesn’t say much because it wouldn’t have happened regardless of the desires of the people). On the other hand, if more of the cost had been shifted to the users, I think you still would have seen quite a bit of suburbanization (albeit probably not as much) for the same reason that Phoenix grew despite having an extremely inadequate road system until relatively recently.

        I am more than happy to try to distribute costs towards those who choose to live lifestyles that consume more public funds. The objections to which are mostly along more liberal grounds – use taxes are regressive by nature – and so it’s kind of odd that public subsidy gets turned around as a reason to throttle or prevent suburban development. Ultimately, of course, most people come down on the side of using public subsidies to finance lifestyles that they themselves find preferable – urban or suburban, art or professional sports, and so on. For my own part, I have relatively little strong preference between city vs suburb vs country. I am mostly interested in affordable living (both in terms of out-of-pocket expenses as well as tax dollar subsidy).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Affordable living is an interesting concept. I think that a lot of suburban cities have made choices that made sense at the time but will come back to bite them latter. After WWII, transportation planners argued that Los Angeles should buy the Pacific Electric system and turn it into a mass transit system for Los Angeles. Naturally, this did not happen and LA because the model for the car centric city. I’m pretty sure that when Los Angeles started building up their public transportation system, it came back to bite them since turning the Pacific Electric into a mass transit system would have been a lot cheaper than building one from scratch.

        The problem with the suburban city model is that a lot of it seems cheap at the time but not really meant to last for the long run. A lot of post-WWII suburbs aren’t in great shape infrastructure wise from what I here and the decision to ignore mass transit was a mistake. Its not even incompatible with the suburban city model. All of Australia’s big cities are on the suburban city model and the sprawl just as much as our cities if not more. They all have better public transportation systems though.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        People also thought that public transportation was dead in 1950 but many cities that never previously thought about public transportation and lovingly got rid of it in favor of the car are building light rail systems. Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, Seattle and even Phoenix are putting more emphasis on public transportation. What I see happening is the urbanization of the suburbs.

        Bingo. And it is not a coincidence, in my thinking, that all of the places you listed are western cities. I have a hypothesis that it’s a combination of factors that most of those have in common that has them all building light rail at the same time. I know Denver much better than the others, so will stick to that, although I think similar cases can be built for the others. When Denver’s trolley system was abandoned, it wasn’t suitable to expand to the inner-ring suburbs, or even most of the outlying parts of Denver. And as automobile traffic had increased, the trolleys’ benefit was outweighed by the inconvenience they caused. Downtown Denver never went through the sort of urban core collapse that happened farther east. The city continued to grow, as did the inner-ring suburbs. Now the metro area has reached an overall population where building more lane-miles in Denver and the inner-ring suburbs to accommodate growth in the outlying areas is prohibitively expensive. A light-rail system makes sense (and for the kind of service it offers, is a large step up in quality compared to current express bus service). Given the population distribution and tax bases, the majority of the cost will be born by the suburbs — as was the majority of the cost for Coors Field, the Broncos’ stadium, the public subsidies for the performing arts center and the Museum of Natural History, etc. Denver has done, IMO, an admirable job of being “first among equals” in dealing with its suburbs.

        Contrast that to, say, Cleveland. In 1960, Cleveland was nearly double the size of Denver. Today it’s smaller than Denver, having shrunk by half while Denver was growing by a third. The two MSAs are close to the same size, but Cleveland’s is shrinking slowly and Denver’s is growing rapidly. Cleveland’s rail system was largely built prior to 1970 (and some of it before 1940) and has daily ridership below 30,000. Ridership on Denver’s new system is more than double that, and will almost certainly double again in 2016 when two more suburban lines and the line to the airport open. Cleveland (and its suburbs) seem to me to lack the kind of structure and the population trends that would make expanding their system valuable.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Cleveland is a poor comparison to Denver. Its public transportation system consists of two tram lines that existed before World War II and a subway line that started when Cleveland just hit about the right population mark for a subway system. Cleveland hit its population height in the 1950 census and when they started building the red line, its planners had no reason to foresee that Cleveland’s population and subway base would collapse.

        I’m also not sure if the Western cities had to abandon their tram systems. They certainly had more than a few civil servants that advocated for keeping and modernizing them from what I’ve read. Its just that they weren’t listened to. Los Angeles had enough people in the metropolitan area to justify it.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Cleveland is a poor comparison to Denver.

        That’s largely my point. In the 11 states from the Rockies to the Pacific, all but one major metro area is doing something serious about rail (Las Vegas is only talking). Los Angeles should have started long ago, but they’re doing something. Outside of that region, not so much. Exclude Texas, and the Boswash corridor where they’re connecting to long-existing rail transit, and really not so much. I want to understand why, and how the differences might affect regional attitudes towards other energy issues that are going to have to be dealt with in the not-so-distant future.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to NewDealer says:

      Can you think of any American who wants to live like that?

      If you’re willing to cough up a few several million then you can live in landed property in Singapore among other like minded white folk. What Singapore has done well in building upwards is avoiding monotony. American cities are designed in a grid pattern that makes for relatively easy navigation, but bad aesthetics. The city centre in Singapore is a relic of our colonial past, hell to navigate unless you know it like the back of your hand or you have GPS but very pleasing to the eye.

      But, what really makes Singapore aesthetically pleasing is that the roads are lined by trees that manage to branch out over the road, cooling down what would otherwise be another urban heat sink. Of course in Singapore, the sun is not your friend, because things get so uncomfortably hot. Lee Kuan Yew said and I kinda agree with him that air conditioning is what made Singapore successful, because without it people would have started moving to cooler pastures in droves.Report

  11. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    [Ec1] On page 1, Strain makes the excellent point that

    It is hard to imagine an educated worker in her prime working years with a kid at home having allowed a $300-a-week check to stand between her and a strenuous job search for over half a year.

    Then on page 2 he suggests helping these people find jobs by lowering the minimum wage.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      In fairness, Mike, he actually suggests government intervention to make up for the lost earnings from lowering the minimum wage IIRC.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

        To bring the total up to current minimum wage, which is still below the $300/wk he disparages.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to North says:

        What’s wrong with this idea: tie subsidies into the provision of living wages via a minimum wage floor by subsidizing the wage rather than the individual? If we care about incentives and human dignity and whatnot then wouldn’t such a policy motivate people to actually work in order to receive the financial benefit rather than “grift”?Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to North says:


        wage-subsidies are a fairly great idea. I like them. I just don’t want to hear complaints that they allow Wal-Mart to free-ride on government money.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to North says:

        Well, the complaint isn’t that they’re free-riding on government money perse – it’s that free-marketeers like to say that Walmart’s actions are justified because Efficiency! And Productivity! And that’s leaving aside the fact that “the government’s money” is a redistribution to the poors from an illegitimate “taking” from those well-off enough to support the practice. I mean, it’s a “taking” either way, right? So why not incentivize work rather than grifting?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to North says:

        Oh, and thanks for responding, Murali. I’d never heard of that solution before, but apparently you have. So I’m glad you took it seriously.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to North says:

        I can’t remember where I saw this, but at least in policy circles here if not world wide, the debate on safety-net provision is between wage support/subsidy and guaranteed income policies. And isn’t the EITC something like what you are recommending? that is, people get money from the government if they are working but are earning less than a certain amount?Report

  12. Avatar Blue says:

    [eu2] The word “Slovak” is usually an adjective. When it’s a noun, it refers to the language. The country is either Slovakia or The Slovak Republic.Report

  13. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I read T2 when it came out earliest this month. My biggest takeaway from it is that I don’t get what lefty ideals actually are these days.Report

  14. Avatar RTod says:

    (He5) : I have to say, I think most of the “shocking” secrets are pretty lame. In fact, the whole thing was kind of eye-rolling to me.

    Most of the exposes are simply so obvious that they don’t really need an insider. That a $5 foot long Subway sandwich uses imitation crab and not $30/lb. fresh, real crab meat isn’t exactly rocket science, and I’m pretty sure anyone who’s eaten something with a lot of mayo on it can deduce on their own that there’s a lot of mayo on it.

    It’s also pretty odd to criticize a restaurant for not treating food as a commodity. The thing about PF Chang’s lettuce wraps annoyed me, and feels like the kind of complaint made by people who would never bother making something like lettuce wraps that at home. It’s also speaks to a depressingly high level of ignorance about how the actual place where you work makes their really slim margins.

    Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that the people that complain about the cost of restaurant food being more than the cost of the ingredient total are the same people that complain that restaurants need to pay food service providers a higher wage and give them paid time off.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to RTod says:

      Almost every time my wife and I go to a Chipotle one of us will mention how the price we pay is so much i>less than if we were making it ourselves. And I really believe that. There’s no way the two of us could purchase, prepare and store all those several ingredients on anything like the price point they charge at the counter.

      Of course, I’d be happy to pay a higher price to cover the increase in wage rate if it ever comes to that. But even then I think it’d be good value.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to RTod says:

      The basic formula for pricing food is one part ingredients, one part labor, one part overhead, and then add your margin. It is also important to consider that restaurants pay for ingredients very differently than you or I: they buy in bulk from wholesalers. Maybe PFChangs can make the lettuce wraps for under a buck, but you or I never could.

      I’m reminded of a website I found once that guaranteed gourmet recipes that all cost under $3 (or some absurdly low price). The problem was, if you read the ingredient list, it’d say things like “1 Tablespoon Chinese 5-spice Powder: 9-cents.” Well, the problem is you can’t buy a single tablespoon of Chinese 5-spice powder; you need to buy the whole jar. Maybe you can find a smaller jar, but it is still going to cost alone more than the entire stated cost of the meal. And unless it is an ingredient you will use all the time (e.g., salt, oil), you can’t average out the cost as they imply you can. But it is this nonsensical method of thinking that allows people to shake their fists at “overpriced” food.

      There are some pricing inefficiencies… some McDonalds locations still price their 20-piece nuggets at a higher price than they price 5 4-piece packs, but this is probably due to company policy on the latter (i.e., The 4-packs must be on the discount menu) and local pricing influencing the former (i.e., airport location rents are higher). And even the Big Mac thing, which I’ve seen… my wife is a Big Mac fan… were I to go pick up some McDs and come him and say, “Honey, I saved us $2 and all you have to do is build your own Big Mac,” she’d throw the damn thing in my face. And this is a woman who is generally very thrifty! Still, you go to McDs as much for convenience as anything else. The minute I start building my own sandwich, I know I’m going to think, “I might as well have just stayed home and made myself a good burger.”Report

  15. Avatar Murali says:

    I call bullshit on Ec3. Sure inflationary policy may help maintain full employment, but inflation hits the poor harder than it does the rich. Singapore has full employment and has been running an inflationary monetary and regulatory policy*. Real incomes of the bottom 10% have decreased in the past 5 -8 years where the government was running an inflationary policy.**

    Furthermore, prior to the past decade, Singapore has managed to have full employment even with 43% of the workforce being guest workers without having an inflationary monetary policy.

    *Arguably inflation was brought about not by loose monetary policy, but because the government stupidly decided to further tighten the labour market even when we were already at full employment by restricting the inflow of guest workers. Because, you know, demagogues are abound and grow like mushrooms the moment there is the slightest hint of the possibility of political defeat at the polls.

    **caveat: that decrease may be attributable to the financial crisis which may have required a quasi inflationary policy. These things are difficult.Report