Linky Friday #115: Fools, Criminals, & Politicians


Will Truman

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

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268 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    D1: I believe you mean a woman’s daughter dares her mother not a woman’s daughter dates her mother unless your into that sort of thing. What would Clancy say?Report

  2. Avatar Notme says:

    How could you not mention the passing of B.B. King?Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Notme says:

      Because he didn’t die. That was Ben E. King and his passing was noted on this site.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Road Scholar says:

        He has now, but it was overnight; the news was announced probably around the time this post went to press.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Road Scholar says:


        I hear that abe vagoda is still alive.Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Notme says:

          Yeah, my bad. But in my defense consider that 1) Ben E. King died like a week ago, 2) a number of online sources erroneously reported that B.B. King had passed, which resulted in 3) the Washington Post including the premature announcement of B.B.’s demise as an item in their weekly roundup of internet rumors that are not true, which I just read on Thursday.

          Then the King really does go and die. And you, quite accurately, bring it to our attention here before I had learned of it from other sources. And then I embarrass myself.

          The Universe is screwing with my head. I mean seriously, what are the odds that someone would actually die like a week after a false report of his passing based on mistaken identity by sloppy bloggers?

          But the important thing is that he was a musical legend who will be sorely missed.

          RIP, Mr. King.Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    C1 is one of those cases in which I realize just how different intelligent libertarians and I are, in our thinking. While Jason and I agree 100% on the police in this case, and likely agree close to that much on the plight of the poor, every other thing he says in that post is incomprehensibly wrong to me. That is, I simply cannot understand how someone could think or say them. I draw the exact opposite conclusion from this situation, in fact, because I see it as the opposite at each point.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Chris says:

      Interesting, I think I can see your point in that one could say the rich need property rights more than the poor because the rich have more to lose, whereas Jason is saying the poor need property rights more than the rich because if they lose what one would consider a typical amount that could be all of what a poor person has.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

      For what it’s worth, this is exactly how I feel when I encounter intelligent marxists and other assorted denizens of the far left (far operating as a descriptive term and not as a pejorative).

      I have an ongoing counter-factual fantasy in which the urban renewal of the 1960s and 70s wasn’t about moving people out of tenements into government-owned and administered superblocks, but instead was about taking dilapidated and abandoned neighborhoods and just giving them to the residents. The current process of gentrification happening in certain neighborhoods would be much different if the older residents of those communities feeling the pressure from wealthier newcomers had deeded title to their homes and businesses instead of just some fuzzy claim of having been there longer.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        Yeah, I figure the feeling is mutual. It’s just a fundamentally different set of pre-existing premises and conclusions that means that once we leave some basic common ground (e.g., a deep distrust of the police), we’re left being incapable of real communication, much less discussion or debate.

        One of the few signs that I have matured over the years is that the me of 20 years ago would have assumed that this was because Jason is an idiot, and not bothered to engage with him, except perhaps by hurling an insult or two before moving on. The me of now says, “Jason is really, really smart, but we still come to such vastly different conclusions; perhaps the source of this is where the meat is, and therefore where any discussion should take place.”

        And my method for urban renewal would have been to give the neighborhoods to the people, too.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to j r says:

        I consider intelligent Marxists and intelligent libertarians to be the same group, but opposite sides of the coin. I am just old enough to have caught the tail end of the era where Marxism was part of public discourse. Talking with those guys was just like talking to modern libertarians. In both cases, these are smart people who have a Grand System for how the world should work, but which cannot possibly work with real human beings. A smart person attracted to Grand Systems and lacking understanding about real people can equally easily go one way or the other. They tend today to go libertarian, but this is merely a matter of intellectual fashion. Should fashions change, they will go the other way. In many instances the exact same individuals will make the switch.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          Talking with those guys was just like talking to modern libertarians.

          Really? Jason is a modern libertarian. What’s his Grand System?Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

            Two Words: Hands Off
            (must admit, I don’t know Jason enough to actually say this is his system. But it works for Cardie to a large degree).Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          I call this type of thought a High Ideology, a system that only works if everybody believes in it and agrees to eternally abide by it. Libertarianism isn’t a high ideology though. Its more extreme sibling, anarcho-capitalism is. We had libertarian like governments in the past like the night-watchman government of the 19th century United Kingdom. These system preceded along fine even though it had a lot of critics. Whether they worked out not is a matter for debate.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to LeeEsq says:

            The word “libertarian” is so vague as to make it difficult to discuss, and very prone to tedious No True Libertarian digressions. It can mean civil libertarian, as how Michael Moorcock uses the word in his essay on Heinlein. It can mean a preference for less regulation and therefore regulations should be examined closely and skeptically before being adopted. From there it can mean everything up to and including anarcho-capitalism. Often it means nothing at all except that the individual in question wishes his taxes were lower.

            I agree that libertarianism is not a High Ideology for parts of this. But I also fully expect that many self-identified libertarians would deny that those other people are true libertarians.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

              I think of libertarianism as a direction rather than a destination. IMO, anyone who wants significantly less government control on either the social or economic dimension and less or at least no more on the other, is, in the context of the current political climate, a libertarian. If we legalize pot, ban asset forfeiture without a conviction, scale back military action, and cut government spending below 30% of GDP, I’ll rethink the qualifications of people who say “Thus far and no farther,” but why argue semantics with someone who will remain an ally for the foreseeable future?Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Yabbut, marijuana legalization, abolition of asset forfeiture, and reduced military action are unremarkable Democratic positions (though not necessarily exclusively so). Indeed, over the last 35 years, reduced federal spending is too. The last time it came within shouting distance of 30% of GDP was in the Clinton administration. Since the Reagan era it consistently has gone up in Republican administrations and down in Democratic administrations, all the rhetoric notwithstanding. So if these are the issues that most concern you, I would classify you as a mainstream Democrat. Yet most people who self-identify as libertarians vote, at the end of the day, Republican.Report

              • What’s funny is how recently marijuana legalization, abolition of asset forfeiture, and reduced military action were merely unremarkable liberal positions rather than fully unremarkable Democratic ones.Report

              • Avatar richardhershberger in reply to Jaybird says:


            • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

              There is a problem with libertarianism in the modern US. In the past libertarians held significant weight of the ‘no masters’ principle. Currently a portion of the movement is content in investing power in authority/regulatory statism.

              Authoritative libertarianism is the nonsense that much of the US is drifting towards.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

        in the 1960’s, we gave title and deed to the white residents, for better parts of the city, and pushed the blacks into superblocks. This was intentional, documented racism.

        Yes, the world would be better without it.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Kim says:

          In which @kim says something cogent, relevant and objectively demonstrable.

          And I’m not just saying that because she agrees with me… OK, maybe I am a little bit.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Chris says:

      Chris – this is interesting to me, as the extension of the language and logic of property rights to protect the interests of the poor is indubitably one of the signature achievements of mid-to-late 20th century progressive jurisprudence. Read the incredibly influential footnote 8 from Justice Brennan’s majority opinion in Goldberg v. Kelly, for instance. By treating welfare benefits as a property right, Justice Brennan was able to require government to meet due process requirements before terminating benefits. In so doing, the insecurity of welfare entitlements was contrasted with the security of entitlements for the wealthy, which was effectively unquestionable regardless of any constitutional due process requirements. In effect, the point there was precisely Jason’s (although I don’t know one way or another whether he’d agree specifically on the question of welfare benefits) – it is even more important for the poor to be protected by property rights than the wealthy.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I love that there was a case called Goldberg v. Kelly. The only way that gets better is if Kelly changed it from Fishbein.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Mark, in a sense, that’s not inconsistent with my disagreement. Ideally (for me, obviously, not for Jason), twisting the concept of property rights to include welfare entitlements would be unnecessary, but the reason it was necessary to do so was because they inherently benefited the wealthy, and in order for them to benefit the poor it was necessary to turn something the poor were receiving from the state into “property.”Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Chris says:

          I guess my question to you is, what would be the alternative to property rights, or something functionally indistinguishable?Report

          • I’ll also add that I think the stronger implication of Brennan’s point there is that entitlements for the wealthy needed little protection as property rights – indeed, IIRC, most of the items he listed in support of his point about entitlements for the wealthy were protected even though they were not necessarily deemed “property” at the time. In other words, by elevating welfare benefits to the status of property, he was elevating them to a level equal to entitlements for the wealthy – even though the security for those entitlements was not dependent on them being viewed as property.

            Here is the key passage: “It may be realistic today to regard welfare entitlements as more like “property” than a “gratuity.” Much of the existing wealth in this country takes the form of rights that do not fall within traditional common law concepts of property.”

            He then goes on to list a variety of things that the wealthy have that were protected by procedures even though they were not deemed “property.” In essence, he’s saying “let’s call a spade a spade” – these things are all property, regardless of what they’re called, and safeguards should be in place because they’re property, not because of who they happen to benefit.

            I actually don’t think (and have not for many years) Brennan was “twisting” the concept of property rights at all. He was recognizing that the definition and concept of “property” is indeterminate, fluid, and not something that can be defined a priori. Though not laid out in his opinion, my understanding of the “New Property” argument is that the definition of property is more a question of function than defined form. Property rights, in this view, are a bulwark against those with greater power – whether the powerful be the majority, the politically connected, or the economically dominant. See here (especially page 1777, and especially the reference to the original New Property piece that was the basis for Brennan’s opinion):

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Your wording of property rights being indeterminate is perhaps more accurate than my “twisting,” but gets at the same issue: property rights are indeterminate because it benefits existing wealth for them to be so. Using their indeterminacy to extent them to the poor is, in many ways, a radical appropriation of them for a purpose that they do not ordinarily serve (and are in fact one defense against), namely the redistribution of (indeterminately defined) property. This attaching the label “property to the appropriation and redistribution of “property” is what I was referring to as a “twisting” of property rights.

              In our current system, I’m not sure what I would use to replace “property rights,” because the system is built on property rights. This is why it was necessary to call something that was ordinarily considered anti-property rights “property” in order to give it the sorts of protections it needed (the protections usually accorded to property in part against this newly labeled “property”). And in a sense it is then true that the poor need property rights more than the wealthy, because the wealthy obviously reap their benefits on vast scales, while more often than not they are used against, not for the poor, but as with the case of the reevaluation of welfare entitlements as property, for the poor to benefit from property rights, we would need to start thinking of things as property that we hadn’t in the past.

              This is why JR’s example of urban renewal and giving the land to the people is a good one. What I mean by redefining property rights would, in this case, be redefining them to make those areas the “property” of the people who lived there, rather than outside property owners. In other words, what would be “property” would be defined in such a way that it would do away with the concept of private property altogether, but accord the same level of protection.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

                In other words, what would be “property” would be defined in such a way that it would do away with the concept of private property altogether, but accord the same level of protection..

                And this is likely where our main point of contention lies.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

                That’s what I figured.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Chris says:

                I’d wager that your idea for redefining property rights is nowhere near as radical as you’re assuming. In some ways, it seems little more than perhaps a massive expansion of the notion of adverse possession – unless the intent would be to have the government purchase the property from the existing landowners and give it to the residents, which wouldn’t be an expansion of property rights at all. Regardless, this would fall far short of rendering property rights meaningless.

                You could also be suggesting that, upon the landowners’ loss of title, the residents would collectively own the land (or building, as the case may be) rather than just the specific units or plots on which they each live, but that would just be a form of either tenancy in the entirety or tenancy in common (depending on how you structured it and whether you wanted to make the resulting interests individually alienable).Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Oh, I meant all property.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Also, if doing so wouldn’t be that radical within the current system (not all property, but property in cases like the ones to which J R was referring), then I hope we can convince some policy-makers to actually consider doing it. I wonder how politically feasible it would be.

                I’m just imagining the presidential debate answer in which a candidate says that his or her solution to urban poverty is, through the legal use of the notion of adverse possession, take the land and give it to the people who live there. I’m also imagining the ensuing white flight.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

                It would be fairly radical now. Back when the city was bulldozing neighborhoods to put up projects and landlords were burning down their own buildings for the insurance, it wouldn’t have been that difficult.

                For example, Detroit could certainly get away with some form of homesteading right now. They may already be doing just that. Wasn’t there some program giving artists and writers the chance to buy abandoned houses in Detroit for $1?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

                We’ve been working on this in Pittsburgh, and I’m pretty sure there’s relatively few white folks left to leave… (absentee landlords don’t count, surely…)Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Chris says:

                I didn’t say it wouldn’t be radical at all, just that it wouldn’t be as radical as you think. 😉

                In terms of abolishing all property, full stop, I get back to the question of “what do we replace it with” and, more to the point, who gets to exercise dominion over it? I cannot imagine a system where the answer to that latter question is something other than “majoritarianism/politicians,” (which was the very problem the creation of “new property” sought to address to protect the poor and vulnerable), the politically powerful, or the economically powerful, and in a manner even worse than is already the case.

                There may be an impulse towards majoritarianism, but that only works (and then only in theory, IMHO) to protect the poor if the poor are in fact the majority in a given country, which is obviously a situation we’d rather avoid.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Footnote 8 is crap. “hey, all these rent seekers successful, so heck with it”Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chris says:

      Jason’s piece wasn’t so bad in what it said so much as in what it left unsaid but implied.

      First, you have to keep in mind that he’s writing for CATO after all. So this isn’t just Jason speaking as Jason, but Jason speaking as propagandist for Chuck and Dave. There’s an agenda and a context, which doesn’t automatically make it wrong but needs to be kept in mind.

      The invocation of “property rights” is much like the appeal to “state’s rights” in that in the abstract it’s largely meaningless while in a particular context can be utilized for good or ill.

      The aim here is fairly obvious once you see it. When I was selling cars there was a well-worn technique of getting the customer to agree with you on a series of “safe” leading questions — Does it fit your needs? Do you like the way it drives? Is it comfortable? Color okay? Is the price right? — before you hit her with the money shot, Can we make a deal today? I think the psychological term for this is “priming.”

      What Jason is doing here is something very similar. He leads with a number of statements that any liberal is guaranteed to agree with, which establishes the importance to the poor of strong rights to the little real property they possess as well as the more abstract properties of civil liberties and social trust. This is then re-designated as the more abstract and general concept of property rights as a universal.

      What’s left unsaid, but which you can easily infer from the agenda and context I spoke of earlier, is the subsequent invocation of property rights as a universal for the real money shot, as a defense against taxation or other diminution of the properties of the rich. After all, we’ve already established that “property rights” are even more important for the poor than the rich, so why on earth would you, a good self-respecting liberal, want to hurt the poor by taxing the wealthy (particularly Chuck and Dave)?Report

      • Whatever happened to Vera?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Not to put words in Jason’s mouth or anything but I think you underestimate exactly how evil Chuck and Dave are.

        They’re so evil that they went out of their way to hire someone who believes the things he said. It’s not propaganda Jason’s spreading… but much like the secret conspiracy behind sending missionaries to the South American jungle, Chuck and Dave knew that they would have to send true believers out into the savages. Jason thinks that he’s actually telling the truth here.

        The same way that you’re providing us the truth of whomever is pulling your strings, RS.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

          I can confirm that Jason does, in fact, express the beliefs outlined in the piece even when he is not being paid to express them.Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird says:

          Propaganda is merely the marketing of ideas. There’s no requirement for the propagandist to not believe the ideas being sold.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Road Scholar says:

            Pretty much all political writers except amateur bloggers and their predecessor, that crazy guy photocopying his manifesto at Kinko’s, are getting paid by someone to do their thing. When professors at public universities call for higher taxes and more government spending and regulations, we can discount that because they work for the state, right?Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Road Scholar says:

            Chuck Norris!
            (No really, Bibi got him as an endorsement last election).Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

          Jason should be proud that he’s being paid to write things he would write otherwise.
          Chuck and Dave are well known for employing many who would rather work for their competitors.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:

        After all, we’ve already established that “property rights” are even more important for the poor than the rich, so why on earth would you, a good self-respecting liberal, want to hurt the poor by taxing the wealthy (particularly Chuck and Dave)?

        Has Jason ever struck you as a intellectual heavy hitter for the elite moneyed class?Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Poisoning the well is so much easier than coming up with a decent argument.Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Look, I like Jason. But you may recall the dustup a few years back involving ownership/control of CATO. As a result the organization is less of an independent think-tank for libertarianism in general and more of a direct mouthpiece for the guys cutting the checks. It just is what it is and Jason chose to continue working there. And he’s talented enough to have choices. You decide.Report

          • Avatar trumwill in reply to Road Scholar says:

            When the Koch were looking to take direct control, he started looking for a new job (publicly). It was only when the dust settled and it became apparent that the Kochs were not going to take direct control that he decided to stay.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Road Scholar says:

            What changes in Cato’s output have you observed that demonstrate this?Report

            • Cato filed an amicus brief in favor of gutting the Voting Rights Act. That’s clearly what the Koch’s would prefer, but I don’t know if Cato had always been in favor of disenfranchising the sort of people they didn’t think should be voting.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Lipstick meet pigReport

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dave says:

                My pre-OT opinion of Cato was that they were only slightly more honest and above-board than the partisan hacks at AEI and Heritage. Because of getting to know Jason, I had a much higher opinion of Cato. Perhaps that was unfounded.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Jason’s a good guy. But the fact that he’s writing for the KOCHS, who are rather … selective… in their defense of property rights for people who annoy them… makes his writing fucking hilarious, and not in an intentional sort of way.

                I will note that I do hold a rather personal grudge against the Kochs and that I do know someone who used to work for them.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Road Scholar says:

            @will-truman is remembering that correctly.

            I remember having conversations with him at the time. He was stressed out because he and Boegiboe have a daughter and they weren’t sure that they could afford things like their mortgage if he resigned, but he was still going to do it.

            Say what you will about Jason’s political leanings, but he absolutely did put them over a steady paycheck. It’s one of the many things I admire about him.Report

          • Avatar LWA in reply to Road Scholar says:

            Regardless of whether Jason is a nice guy or not, it is completely fair and honest to characterize CATO as a useful idiot of the plutocracy. Useful idiots aren’t actually idiots- they know they are being used, but they also know that their own objectives will be realized in the game.

            It would be more harsh and uncivil to say the opposite, that they are fools who don’t know they are being played.

            CATO gets paid by the Kochs to say things that the Kochs clearly do not believe.

            For instance I am pretty sure that like most libertarians CATO folks acknowledge that the single most effective way to reduce government spending and power is to cut the defense budget and reduce our global footprint.
            They also, in the best BSDI fashion, advocate for social welfare spending cuts.

            Yet when the Kochs choose to fund a candidate, when they put their money where the mouth is, they choose one that advocates enlarging the defense department and our global footprint. Who also advocates for social welfare spending cuts.

            Since neither the Kochs nor CATO are fools, we have to conclude that CATO is providing something useful to the Kochs, something that advances their desired agenda, and it isn’t their advocacy of defense cuts.

            This game of “Lets pretend to ignore the context of CATO’s funding source, and just focus on the argument” is the sort of silly antics you see at high school debate club.

            Jason isn’t running for president, Scott Walker is. Jason isn’t donating a gazillion dollars to a candidate, the Kochs are. What Jason personally believes or doesn’t is irrelevant. What CATO does, and whether it should be trusted when it advocates for the property rights of the poor, is entirely relevant.

            Thats why I remarked on Jason’s words about the property rights of the poor including dignity, trust and community.

            Where in the world does CATO, the Kochs, or Scott Walker demonstrate that this statement is sincere and true?

            Do Jason and the CATO folks advocate that this be taken seriously, that men with guns defend and adjudicate such rights? How did those words even make into his article? They just sort of pop up like a word salad garnish, something decorative to entertain and delight, without meaning to be taken seriously.

            Those who are edumacated folk know well that these words have actual meaning- the social justice teachings of churches lean heavily on human dignity and community as shared understandings, things to be enforced by law. Is that what Jason, this spokesman for CATO and the Kochs was referring to? Evidence indicates NO.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

              So even the vile can be nice?

              This whole thing is predicated on the notion that CATO is a mouthpiece for the Kochs, which assumes facts not in evidence. And given how Jason expressly felt about being the Kochs’ mouthpiece, we have reason to believe that’s not the case, unless we consider him to be a liar as well.

              In this sense, our appraisal of Jason actually matters in this conversation.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Will Truman says:

                How do you untangle the seeming contradiction between the Kochs words and actions?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

                The Kochs didn’t write that piece. Jason Kuznicki did, for CATO.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Will Truman says:

                So how do you untangle the seeming contradiction between the Kochs words and actions?

                It was a serious question. Are we supposed to think the Kochs are being foolish with their money? What are they getting out of their funding of CATO?

                Right now it looks like thoughtful nonpartisan CATO is the sparkler in the right hand, and the gazillion dollars streaming towards Scott Walker is the left hand no one is supposed to notice.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

                You’d have to ask the Kochs. We don’t really know.

                We do know that when they tried to exert influence over Cato, Cato revolted and Jason threatened to quit. When everything was resolved, Charles Koch had to step down from the board and limits were placed on what kind of presence the Kochs and their employees. And we know that the Cato people who were threatening to revolt – including Jason – found the resolution acceptable, suggesting that they still have the independence they feared they would lose.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to LWA says:

                “Veterans Benefits are the new Welfare”
                … what, you thought I didn’t have a fucking source for that quote?Report

              • Avatar trumwill in reply to Kim says:

                I assume you mean LWA, who said something like that recently.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                It is certainly appropriate to point out that somehow, in some fashion, CATO (and so Jason, as a voice of CATO) serve some function that the Koch Bros. think aligns with their preferences.

                I think it’s important to put this in the context of just how much money they have to throw around; billions; and it’s like broadcasting seeds — they’re throwing a lot out, knowing some will germinate.

                In fairness to Jason, it’s important to recognize that his views might inform and shape the Koch’s; that there’s some two-way give, there; though it’s seems very hard for little people to imagine someone we might be on a first-name basis with has some influence on the brightly burning stars, who, when they’re close, disappear in the glow and, when they’re too close, burn in the heat.

                To me, the more interesting question here would be Jason’s view on how his interests (beyond a paycheck,) align with the Koch Bros.; what comforts him when he goes to sleep at night.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

                The Kochs may simply believe that on balance their views sufficiently align with Cato that it’s worth continuing to support even if they are kept at a distance.

                Maybe they want a check on their own impulses, and feel that Cato keeps them honest.

                The Kochs may honestly view their own interests as being disaligned with it, but have a sentimental attachment to what they helped found during their more idealistic and less evil days.

                The Kochs may view a genuinely libertarian perspective as being something for the public good, even if they don’t always agree, and so they donate for the same reason that they donate to hospitals and the arts.

                We really don’t know. But the Kochs are the Kochs and Cato is Cato, they are not interchangeable, the latter is not a mouthpiece for the former, and Jason should have no trouble sleeping at night.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                the latter is not a mouthpiece for the former, and Jason should have no trouble sleeping at night.

                One of Jason’s (many) endearing qualities is that he is most willing to question himself first. He puts some effort into examining his own preferences, and does so in a way that presumes they’re not necessarily justified.

                I don’t mean to suggest that he should or does have difficulty sleeping at night, but to portray the image of someone willing to ponder and argue against himself.

                It’s not a common quality. But it is one to greatly admire and emulate.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

                I will note that Jason has threatened to publically repudiate the Kochs, were I to provide evidence of illegality.

                I feel like such evidence would put people’s lives in danger, and quite possibly cost Jason his job.

                The Kochs are people who scare Anonymous. And Anonymous isn’t the easily scared type.Report

              • Avatar Mr. Blue in reply to Will Truman says:

                Maybe we should ask him how he justifies it. Haha oh sorry I forgot, he left. Why was that again?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

              “He claims to be a liberal, but he sends his kids to school in a school district that is 93% White or Asian.”

              “She claims to be a liberal, but she doesn’t donate to charity or volunteer.”

              “He claims to be a liberal but he votes for the people who maintain the status quo.”

              “She claims to be a liberal, but she is a useful idiot for the plutarchy.”

              I am willing to run with this level of criticism if you are.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Jaybird says:

                All completely fair comments as far as I am concerned.
                Why don’t more liberals live in integrated neighborhoods, etc.

                If you want to focus on Jason’s arguments, I would prefer that- I don’t like talking about a guy when he isn’t here anyway.

                His use of the words dignity and community as things poor people possess without any regard for their actual meaning and implication is what attracted my attention.

                What do you think he means by those words?
                What implication do they have?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

                I suspect it’s because liberals are more interested in signaling piety than actually doing the work of changing the status quo.

                “Look at me! I’m praying in the public square!”

                That sort of thing. Behind closed doors, you wouldn’t know the difference between liberals and conservatives by their actions as much as by the television channels they watch or, maybe, the people they criticize on the internet.

                As for “community”, I’m going to quote him here: “their sense of community, which has to start (and I do feel a bit pedantic saying it) with the understanding that community leaders and enforcers aren’t just out to squeeze them for cash. That the leaders and enforcers don’t see them merely as yet another home to be searched, another gun to seize, another dog to shoot, and another marijuana conviction waiting to happen” and he also mentions “the networks of trust and expectation that can either live, or die, in our cities.”

                Those strike me as being good enough starting points to wonder if that’s what his puppetmasters, the Kochs, want us to think.

                As for “dignity”, he probably means some variant of the self-respect/self-worth related to the above. If I had to guess.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                If we’re going to disqualify everyone who doesn’t “do the work to change the status quo” from being described by the most common labels for th basic political orientations, then it seems like we’re going to need some new labels for people who think X would be better policy but aren’t activists on the point. It seems more accurate to me to say that activists are activists, and that’s that.

                Also, if we’re going to grant ourselves the ability to audit everyone’s votes in order to allow that their views are what they say they are, then I don’t know. It seems to me you can meaningfully be a liberal even if that means primarily protecting Social Security, look at the choices of parties who are actually going to be in power, and want to do the most with your vote that you can to keep the party that wants to privatize Social Security out of power (which is to vote for the party the will hold power instead). There are other ways to be liberal, probably better ones, but that one seems to me to qualify. Certainly enough that it seems to me that people outside the grouping should defer to people within as to whether such a person is “really” a liberal.

                But maybe I’m just crazy or a sellout.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Well, how’s this? We’ll only bring this shit up against our ideological opponents.


              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, that’s exactly what’s not a deal. You want to apply those kinds of tests to your tribe, you go ahead (and have fun with the fallout).Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                …not that it matters what I’ll agree to. You should of course do what you want to do.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Do you think that Road Scholar should see this little tête-à-tête as part of the fallout of his line of reasoning against Jason’s article or do you see this little discussion of ours as completely unrelated to any of the comments that came before?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m treating what you’re calling for as things you’re actually calling for. You do say you are willing to run with that line of criticism, not that you’d rather not. and it’s not like it’s unlike anything you’ve said in the past. You also do seem to me to be giving your true feelings in your 4:20 pm comment.

                For myself, I’ve never cared about Jason and the Koch brothers, and I am not a fan of having that be part of any discussion of things Jason writes. But I’m treating the things you’re saying here as things you actually think.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                …And not to criticize you, but because, being that they’re things that have been said, I want to say what I think is the problem with them.

                I guess because, yeah, I’m not sure I buy that you’re really willing to soundly reject the way of thinking about whether liberals are really liberals in that list of questions in quotes you wrote if others are willing to reject taking the Kochs’ relationship to Cato into account in considering Jason’s writings.

                (I also am not sure I totally follow the analogy.)

                But regardless, there all that is in pixels. I’m just dealing with what I’m seeing being suggested.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Personally, I’m happy to treat arguments as arguments in themselves.

                If, however, we want to play the “ah, but is the well poisoned game?”, I’m pretty sure that all of us will come up short. This guy lives in a school district with overwhelmingly white kids. That gal donates a grand total of $3 a year, and that’s because she checks off the “donate $3 to the general election fund” checkbox on her taxes. This other person limits their activism to comments on webpages… but if we make each of them give us their resume and tax returns and pore over them until we find something that allows us to say “Ha! I don’t have to listen to what you have to say because your restaurant accepted a catering job from the NRA in 2009!”, then we’re going out of our way to ignore arguments.

                We’re just signaling that we’re members of our own Team.

                I’d like to think that that last point is something we already knew of the people who would rather discuss someone’s employer than someone’s argument… but, hey, getting into the weeds and getting people to say “huh… I think I kinda preferred it when we were talking about the issue rather than whether my participation in Race for the Cure allows me to have an opinion on insurance policy” is always fun to watch.

                Hell, it might even prevent requests for proof of standing the next time something that Jason writes comes up.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah, that sounds a lot like, “You know, I’d rather not say any of this, but [a bunch of stuff I fairly obviously am pretty glad to get an opportunity to say]” to me.

                It’s seems like a pretty well-developed line of argument for being one you’re not inclined to make. I don’t really care whether you make it out loud: I care about whether it’s what you’re thinking anyway. And I think now I know whether it is.

                As to whether people actually make reference to The owners of Jason’s organization or whether people are philanthropic enough to be eligible to be liberals, I really don’t care about that at all. what matters is whether you think it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

                It’s seems like a pretty well-developed line of argument for being one you’re not inclined to make. I don’t really care whether you make it out loud: I care about whether it’s what you’re thinking anyway. And I think now I know whether it is.

                This makes me wonder what in the hell they teach in college these days. Are you kids honestly not taught to develop lines of argument for positions you don’t hold anymore?

                Jesus, no wonder this country is going to hell in a handbasket.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                If you think all of that is the wrong way to think about liberals, I’d love to hear you say it. Above, you say are willing to run with that kind of criticism, and yeah, it did seem to roll pretty trippingly off the tongue. I think it’s something of an indicator in this day and age: yes even with you, though of course there can be purely hypothetical lines of argument and I certainly deem you entirely capable of that. But that doesn’t mean seeing how willingly you went there, seeing also you explicitly say you’re entirely willing to go down that road, doesn’t make me think it’s somewhat more likely to be X (you think it) than Y (you don’t).

                But if you don”t, you can say so!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Dude, it’s the wrong way to think about *ANYBODY*.

                This includes Liberals.

                Thinking about the secret and hidden motivations behind an argument rather than thinking about the argument is a fallacy. It’s fallacious to engage in fallacies.

                Now, I’ll grant: it’s easy.

                But the whole “well, I know how you *REALLY* think and, as such, I get to deal with how you *REALLY* think rather than the argument you’ve actually given” thing is actually a way to avoid dealing with the actual argument given.

                Now, don’t get me wrong, if you find yourself in a situation where there have been solutions offered before and the solutions have been implemented before and the solutions have failed before, it’s probably fair to ask something like “how is this time different from last time?” but it’s not fair to say “you’re just hoping that this will fail just like last time!”

                It’s important to deal with the argument rather than the imagined arguments that are actually held by your interpretation of how the other person presents him or herself.

                It’s far too easy to assume that you’re right and other people are malicious and if they disagree it’s because they believe malicious things.

                Easy to the point of being a cop-out.

                So, to re-iterate, it’s wrong to treat liberals like that. Hell, it’s wrong to treat *ANYBODY* like that.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                …As I say, I have a preference that the Kochs not be part of discussions of Jason’s writing, but that’s because I want people to actually think it’s irrelevant. If they still have a bug up their butt about it, I kind of want to hear about it so it can be addressed.

                And I don’t think the best way to address it is to use it as an opportunity to advance other ad-hom bugs we have up our own butts and then say, see isn’t this horrible? (Because in fact it’s kind of fun – we get say what we really think!) Why not just skp to where we’re saying what we really think to start out with? I think a very, very small minority of people here still have any issue with Jason and the Kochs. Very small. Better to get it out and deal with it.

                And similarly I’m glad to know these are ways you think about liberals (not that it’s a shock). Allows me to deal with it.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Sounds good, thanks!

                (Thought I put that comment in a couple hours ago; didn’t take for some reason.)Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to LWA says:

              LWA– I’m against just about everything the Koch’s want and i don’t find a lot of CATOs stuff to be that good. I’m sure the Koch’s want less regs because it will save them money and they are pissed about getting fined for breaking regs. But most of this argument is petty and off the point. If Jason is wrong he is wrong based on what he said ( which i think he is). Tying CATO and the Kochs is just a proxy argument for other things. I’ve criticized plenty of Jason’s posts when he was here ( and he deserved to be knocked on some things). But find the fault in his writing. He seems honest and thoughtful to me. Wrong on plenty of things, but honestly so.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to greginak says:

                OK great.
                So lets talk about the Koch’s desire for less regulations.
                Is that even true?
                Strong property protection = Strong government regulation.

                In order to protect property, the government needs the size and strength to define property, administer it, adjudicate it, defend it, and punish those who violate it. All these things require massive amounts of regulation which presumably the Kochs desire very much.

                So which regulation do they want less of?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to LWA says:

                LWA, The Kochs have been heavily fined and criticized for being a major polluter ( see link below). They don’t want the eviiiiillll hand of the gov telling them how to run their business environment and externalities be damned. Those are regs they don’t like. They are fine with regs that help them.

                Look i hope the Koch’s political dreams are all crushed ( except for prison reform). And i’m fine with criticizing them as they well deserve. But this entire thread is pissy and focused on someone who i think is honest. It is to easy to get caught up in personalities likes the Kochs and make debates about people instead of ideas. All that does is sidetrack the conversations.


              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

                Man, Koch money is pure intellectual poison to you folks. If I got my knickers in a twist over which think tanks George Soros or Warren Buffet spends money on…

                PS The Kochs are busy funding the ACLU to the tune of $5M, do we get to start hating on the ACLU now, or is the fact that the money is to bolster Criminal Justice Reform efforts make it OK? I mean, Zic has it right, the Kochs spread money all over the place (I think they just sweat it out at this point). They way some of you are acting, all the Kochs can damage or destroy an organization just by donating money & creating the appearance of influence. I remember talking about a Koch funded education program for (I believe) the United Negro College Fund, and everyone acted as if the kids who benefitted would be Clockwork Orange’d into becoming good little capitalist libertarians.

                Seriously all, take a deep breathe & stop acting like Satan is taking notes from the Kochs. Money does not necessarily buy high levels of influence, or do we get to talk about all those foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, now that hillary is running?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Satan isn’t taking notes from the Kochs. if he was, he’d be doing better.

                I hold a personal grudge against the Kochs.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kim says:

                Yes Kimmie, we know.

                God help us, we know…Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Road Scholar says:

        B-but, it says right there that the poor possess the property right of Dignity! And Community! Why do the liberals want to take those properties away?Report

    • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Chris says:

      I liked Jason’s piece and I think he is mostly correct, however, I don’t think he properly addresses the overall picture of property rights, poverty, urban blight and such. I’ll try to say more on this later.

      I think the strongest part of the piece is the part that he gives the least attention (and that got completely forgotten about in this thread’s discussion of property rights and some bizarre assertions on Jason’s well-established credibility), and that’s the discussion of the damage that’s done to community. Jason began his piece with a lament about a seemingly frivolous event (a funny parade) that wouldn’t be going on this year and so he wouldn’t get to attend with his family. Against the backdrop of police violence, poverty and vandalism (or rioting or protesting or pick whatever word you want) this is a seemingly meaningless matter.

      But it is often these minor, meaningless events that bring some greater meaning to our lives. Things such as this parade are part of the fabric of the community. They bring people out onto the street, interacting, being a community and living in community.

      These sorts of events are important in our lives, and we should look at means of protecting or resurrecting them. This can lead to a questions as to whether property rights help protect these events, threaten these events or, more likely, do a bit of both.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    P5 Ross Douthat and any other conservatives who fret about declining birth rates should have their eyelid propped open with toothpicks and be forced to watch this at least five times.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to North says:

      But it so much cheaper just to take away women’s birth control.

      ETA: and we learned from the sensitivity training in Austin that it’s the cost that counts, not the impact on community.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

      Most pro-natalist conservatives I’ve read take the position that “If such policies work at bouncing reproduction rates, we should pursue them”… In No One’s Expecting, Last expresses skepticism at their efficacy (though he expresses skepticism of the efficacy of just about everything) but stages no ideological opposition whatsoever. I suspect that Douthat feels similarly, though ideologically even more inclined towards accepting such policies.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman Just to be clear: such policies work — what policies? Legally limiting contraception?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Will Truman says:

        This Douthat?

        Obviously, neither generous parental leave nor an expanded child tax credit is a magic bullet for the problem of family breakdown. But if Democrats were championing the first idea [Maternal Leave] and Republicans were championing the second [dramatically expanding the child tax credit in order to ease the burden on parents with young children], we would at least have the beginnings of a healthy conversation about family policy, instead of the conspicuous silence that surrounds the country’s biggest social crisis.

        I guess he got an advance copy of Oliver’s clip and used his own toothpicks.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

      My wife & I were fortunate that we could arrange for some Maternity & Paternity time, but not much (we both had to burn all out vacation & sick time) & since I work for a small company, in a small satellite office, I could not take unpaid leave.

      Still, we got more than a lot of folks did, which was good since we had an unplanned C-section, and Bug was tongue tied & needed help with nursing, & jaundice, etc.

      But there is this expectation that new mothers will have all sorts of free help from family so leave isn’t important, and that is just not something that exists in most of the country.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      Absent rampant sexism and misogyny, the best way to increase the birthrate is through policies that reduce the cost of having children. Maternity leave, paternity leave, universal pre-school to take care of kids when they are young but both parents need to work, universal healthcare, child allowances, and more. If women have any say in their reproduction and raising children are expensive, most are going to opt for fewer children.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        LeeEsq: the best way to increase the birthrate is through policies that reduce the cost of having children. Maternity leave, paternity leave, universal pre-school to take care of kids when they are young but both parents need to work, universal healthcare, child allowances, and more.

        Don’t a lot of European countries already have these things, and yet still have declining birthrates?Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:


          I think you need to look at the details. Italy has declining birthrates because they are still a hugely sexist country in many ways. France made it work somehow and no longer has declining birth rates. In Germany, there is still the ideal of “The Good German mother does not work”.

          Japan is trying really hard but is still a very traditionalist country and that is failing them.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            These “details” are not making sense to me, and sound a lot like “it’s not the system we want that is generally failing to produce the desired effect, it is the people who keep failing the system”.

            Italy has declining birthrates because they are still a hugely sexist country

            Huh? Don’t sexist countries usually have *high* birthrates, because women are expected to have babies? Especially legacy-Catholic (anti-contraception) countries?

            In Germany, there is still the ideal of “The Good German mother does not work”.

            Again, huh? I realize my experience there is completely anecdotal, but this was not my similarly-aged friends’ (that is, several German mothers) attitudes, at ALL, when I lived there briefly. They worked, and took full advantage of all the maternity/paternity/childcare options available (and which ARE pretty sweet, compared to what we get). They were pretty much the social-democrat ideal of modern women.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            you don’t know jack about Japan’s “trying really hard” and at any rate, they aren’t trying anymore (that contract got cancelled). That’s Kanon.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Glyph says:

          It depends on the details Glyph. Some Europeans have had success, some have not. The flip answer would be that presumably the state supports for maternity are inadequate.

          In a world of women’s equality the opportunity cost of having a kid is huge. Every time I think of it I am in awe of the power of the biological urge because rationally there’s very little reason to incur it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        the best way to increase the birthrate is through policies that reduce the cost of having children. Maternity leave, paternity leave, universal pre-school to take care of kids when they are young but both parents need to work, universal healthcare, child allowances, and more.

        The countries that have instituted these policies… have their birthrates gone up?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The whole working woman friendly policies thing is probably a canard as far as the birth rate conversation is concerned (which isn’t to say that you should necessarily not adopt those policies for other reasons).

        I will go out on a limb and say that the difference in birth rates between developed countries is most likely a function of how much economic growth there is, how many immigrants they receive and their ethnic makeup.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

          Also, demographics. Japan is hella OLD. (Iran, quite beside the point, is hella young)Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to j r says:

          I would guess that you’re right. People should have maternity and paternity leave because it’s a decent way to treat people and because parents should be able to care for a baby without losing their jobs. I doubt that it would have a huge impact on the birth rate.

          But then, I don’t think we should be worrying about low birth rates at all. There are tons of people across the world who want to live in European and North American countries. If we need more working-age people, then let them come here. They benefit from moving to a country where they want to be, and we benefit from their skills and contributions.

          The world faces a lot of challenges. “Too few people” is not one of them.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

          I will go out on a limb and say that the difference in birth rates between developed countries is most likely a function of how much economic growth there is, how many immigrants they receive and their ethnic makeup.

          I think you might have that backward. The economic growth is due to the decline in birthrate; an indicator that women have control of their lives and are able to contribute to economic productivity.Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

            I think you might have that backward.

            Most economic causes are also economic effects. These things tend to have lots of feedback loops. Immigration is the perfect example. Countries exclude immigrants, which makes their economies less dynamic, which leads to low growth, which leads people to become even more nativist and protectionist, which leads to less immigration, which makes their economies less dynamic…

            The economic growth is due to the decline in birthrate…

            That statement doesn’t make much sense. Declining birthrates are a sign of increasing economic opportunity for women, but the causality doesn’t work in that direction. This is especially true for countries that have large welfare states as people are constantly leaving the work force and need to be supported by new people entering the workforce.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

              This is especially true for countries that have large welfare states as people are constantly leaving the work force and need to be supported by new people entering the workforce.

              Just go look at graphs comparing increases in productivity and women’s participation in the work force and birth rates. While your at it, check out crime rates. The welfare state, the way you use it, obscures a lot of stuff. Social Security is part of the social safety net, but not the welfare state; people pre-pay. You can argue that it’s mishandled, and may/already-has morphed into welfare state; but that’s another problem; it’s not related to productivity, it’s related to funding and financing.

              Now if there are too many retiring people supported by two few workers because of declining birth rates, the answer to that problem isn’t increasing birth rates by making it more difficult for women to control contraception; immigration is a better option. Making women have more children simply lowers their productivity while their churning out replacement workers.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:


                None of what I am saying has anything to do with my particular feelings on the institutions of the welfare states or on what particular package of benefits that employers offer or governments guarantee.

                I am making a purely descriptive point and not a normative one. And I certainly haven’t said anything about, or remotely resembling, making women have more children.

                Low birth rates don’t bother me at all as I am pretty much an open borders advocate.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to zic says:

                Do you have some links to graphs? The main trend I recall in terms of productivity growth is that the per-person, per-hour productivity of labour has skyrocketed in the last few decades (and has not at all be matched by increases in wages); here’s one example for Australia, but the trend’s been similar across the developed world:

                That’s the productivity per-hour, so it’s not an increase resulting from a having a larger labour force due to women working. If you have evidence that bringing women into the workforce has had a major impact on productivity apart from that, I’m interested in seeing it.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to KatherineMW says:

                Productivity gains are generally a function of technological advances, education, and real capitalization. The entry of more women into the workforce could have some positive effect on productivity (which is an average, aggregate measure) if individually more capable women (like my personal physician) are displacing less capable men. Which very well may be the case.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Road Scholar says:

                It’s more, @road-scholar

                It meant that (particularly in the 1970s through 1990’s) that companies could hire more workers at flat wages because the supply of workers rapidly expanded, keeping down wage competition.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to zic says:


                Productivity is defined a number of different ways depending on precisely what one is trying to measure. As per usual, the lingo of economics tends to impede as much as enable communication. Labor productivity, which is what I was referring to, is

                … the value of goods and services produced in a period of time, divided by the hours of labor used to produce them. In other words labor productivity measures output produced per unit of labor, usually reported as output per hour worked or output per employed person.

                On the other hand,

                When all outputs and inputs are included in the productivity measure it is called total productivity. Outputs and inputs are defined in the total productivity measure as their economic values. The value of outputs minus the value of inputs is a measure of the income generated in a production process. It is a measure of total efficiency of a production process and as such the objective to be maximized in production process.

                So in that calculation labor input equates to the dollars spent on payroll, which is where you’re going with it.

                [Shrug] We’re both correct; we’re just talking about different things.Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to zic says:

            I’d say jr is right on this one, zic. As economic well-being rises, the birthrate falls. Virtually invariably. Even in countries with atrocious women’s rights records.

            The fertility rate (average number of births per woman) in Saudi Arabia has fallen from 7.2 in 1980 to 2.8 in 2010. That’s got to indicate something other than women’s liberation as the cause.

            That doesn’t mean that women’s lib doesn’t also have a positive effect on the economy. Like he said, a lot of economic trends are self-reinforcing. But the primary cause of high birthrates is poverty.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW says:

              @katherinemw my claim isn’t one of women’s lib, it’s one of women controlling their reproduction. If the birthrate in Saudi Arabia has dropped to 2.8, it’s because women (while they may not have the rights we have,) have some access to contraception. And I’m not claiming that access to contraception equates to access to work in Saudi Arabia, I don’t know about women’s workforce participation there.

              But I am claiming, most strongly, that increases in productivity resulted in women entering the workforce; in part, because more workers decreased wage pressures; house-hold wages remained stagnant, but work hours wage hours increased as both partners worked. The increased work hours (from women entering the work force in great numbers, beginning in the early ’70s) was part of the increase on productivity; certainly not the only thing, but one that should not be left out of the equation, it’s far too important, and often disguised by using house hold income instead of hours worked per household income. (This is a common error in how we analyze productivity/wage/household income/growth over time.)

              @j-r ‘s original quote addressed birth rates and family-friendly policies, and the claim that birth rates were a result of economic growth; I think that’s backward, economic growth in developed countries (particularly this one) are because of declining birth rates; and that decline in birthrates resulted in more hours worked per household for the same household wage. The growth was in productivity, with only a small increase in the wealth and income of individual households since 1970.

              ETA: this is a reflection of a conversation I had with roger the other day; there’s a link and data for comparisons there, skip up to Roger’s original comment and his response, which I treasure.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The notion that such benefits would result in greater reproduction is very intuitive… but it’s not really backed by much of substance. Like JR says, there may be reasons to do it, but a silver bullet it is not, and it has very little explanatory effect on national and international comparisons.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

          The pithy response, but likely the correct one, is simply that the benefits being offered are simply inadequate to overcome the opportunity costs involved. If you want more of something you subsidize it. If modern society imposes 1k in costs to having a kid and government offers a 200 subsidy then you will still get declining birth rates.
          I suspect the amount of subsidy necessary to push up the birth rate would be well beyond what conservatives or small government folks would ever willingly countenance.

          FTR, I’m uninterested in natalist policies. Beyond providing basic leave for maternity which is basically humane I think we can simply immigrate any necessary population replacements. Let the birth rates plunge!Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

            Here is what I had to say about it on my No One’s Expecting post:

            or example, while he does not express firm opposition to subsidized daycare, he does express skepticism of its efficacy on the basis of its limited success elsewhere. Without getting too much into anecdata, my wife and I had initially talked of three children but are now likely to content ourselves (God, nature, and biology willing) with two. Why? Delayed fertility. Why? Logistics, where confidence in our ability to find day care would have affected our decision-making greatly. Last is quite right to point out that individually this policy is not likely to have as large an effect as needed. My wife and I are one case, and with someone else it might be a different set of reasons. While a daycare stipend – that parents could pocket in the event that one of them is staying home or if they have relatives willing and able to take care of them – could make what we considered at the time to be “a logistical nightmare” a little more feasible.

            So what you say is logical. And it corresponds with my own experience and history.

            And yet…Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

              I don’t see the and yet angle really. If subsidies are insufficient to induce significantly higher child birth in Europe then the outcome there is in general keeping with that input. Some kind of baby factory mom aversion would pop up and voters wouldn’t tolerate it. What that says to me is that the electorate probably is very healthily indifferent to natalists warnings of demographic collapse.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

                The “and yet” is that there is no apparent (positive) relationship, nationally or internationally, between countries that have the sorts of programs we’re talking about and the sort of results that the natalists want. For every France, there are five failures of directed policies that need to be waved away. And that doesn’t even account for indirect policies, such as maternity/paternity leave, that are not in place here but are in place with places that have lower birthrates than here. Nor is there any seeming relationship between state policies of more robust support – including paid maternity leave in three states – and fertility rates.

                If this is a problem to be solved – which you do not believe and of which I am unsure either way – there isn’t much support for the notion that these policies are a way to do it.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

                Will, if every time you wear a green hat an anonymous gremlin vanished two grand out of your bank account you would very quickly stop wearing green hats. If government decided that it was in the national interest for them to have you wear a green hat and instituted benefits and programs for you to wear a green hat worth five hundred dollars do you think you would wear a green hat? A Thousand? I’d submit that until they started reimbursing you at least 2 grand their programs would produce outcomes that would be almost indistinguishable from localities that paid you nothing to wear a green hat.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to North says:

      Maybe I’m misremembering, but isn’t mandatory maternity (and, for that matter, paternity) leave something that Douthat has vocally advocated for? At minimum, those certainly seem like the types of policies that would fit very closely with his “Grand New Party” agenda.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        It is something Douthat has mildly advocated for when he’s at the most reformicon swing of his pendulum but it contrasts with his general GOP distaste for public assistance programs and the like.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to North says:

          Northie……that seems a bit unfair since much of the whole point of his Reformicon-ism is “these are the things where GOP distaste for government involvement needs to and should change.” I mean, sure it’s in conflict with that distaste, but that conflict goes both ways – GOP distaste for government involvement is in conflict with his general GOP desire to promote Christian family values. I’ve always understood the recognition of (and desire to resolve) this conflict to be a big chunk of Douthat’s raison d’etre.

          In other words, pointing out this inconsistency between concern over declining birthrates and distaste for government involvement is totally fair game, but Douthat is about the worst possible example of it.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Mark, I suppose I probably let my impatience with Douthat bleed through on this subject. Douthat has to spend a great deal of ink protecting his right flank lest he get David Frummed right out of the party. This means what when the GOP ka-smacks his reformicon ideas right across the face he goes limping back and does a fan dance article where he tries to soft peddle that the GOP budget proposals are the opposite of reformicon and are packed with imaginary numbers. I find that galling even though it gives Chait another chance to write a gleeful chait piece on the subject.

            Also, to be frank, since I am stone cold (verging on hostile) to the whole natalist angle my sympathy to Douthat levels are at a real nadir in this area.Report

            • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to North says:

              North: Also, to be frank, since I am stone cold (verging on hostile) to the whole natalist angle my sympathy to Douthat levels are at a real nadir in this area.

              You and me both. Natalism is, at bottom, just thinly disguised racism.Report

              • I sincerely hope that you’re confusing natalism with nativism here. Otherwise, you’re reminding of that unpleasant fellow who came on here a while back and called me a white supremacist.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Will Truman says:

                Will Truman,

                Yeah, I guess I am. But I disagree with both sentiments. And, unfortunately, though I fully recognize this doesn’t describe you, a lot of natalists are also nativists and vice versa.

                In a world with a population of eight billion and climbing, where bringing all those people up to first world standards of living would require the resources of four or five whole earths, where a third of the earth’s surface is under cultivation and most of the rest is simply unsuitable, and where global warming is a real thing and makes all the above even harder to deal with, I just can’t see too few people on the planet as our major problem.

                On the domestic front we have endemic un- and under-employment and we still have gobs of young people banging on our doors begging to be let in to work. There’s absolutely no concrete issues preventing us from adequately providing for our retirees or any of our other citizens. The problems are entirely of our own political choices revolving around account books of who owes whom how many pieces of pretty paper bearing likenesses of dead notables. Intelligent aliens would think us insane and nuke the planet lest we figured out interstellar travel.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    C1: I am more with Chris than Jason on this.

    C2: This story was depressing.

    D2: Again, I think someone needs to do a serious study of the various ways mental illness (this might just be straight up grifting thugh) intersect with the justice system. Last week, there was the woman in Oklahoma with a hand-written complaint against all the homosexuals or something like that. There is also the sovereign citizen’s movement which is obsessed with the UCC and will make strange pronouncements about how a court is invalid because the flag has a gold trim or something like that. It might not even need to be mental illness, there was a time when my FB feed was awash in people invoking the “Intellectual Property Code”. There is no Intellectual Property Code.

    D3: I see stories about stuff like this fairly frequently. Also with watching porn at work. I just don’t understand how anyone can think it is a good idea.

    D4: This was kind of cruel. The kid has autism and possibly can’t help him or herself.

    A5: I hope you are being cheeky with your phrasing on upstanding.

    A7: Again this is what frustrates me about Statestarcodex. He has a lot of really good information and goes through various solutions. Which solution is best? The one that most confirms with his recently discovered anarcho-capitalism. You would think a psychiatrist would be smart enough to wonder about their cognitive bias. I guess not.Report

    • D4 – The dummy, in my view, is the pilot. The situation appears to have been resolved by the time they redirected. (On Twitter, there is a parent/non-parent dynamic. A lot of non-parents are siding with the airline, taking the view that they shouldn’t take that child on a plane, etc. Though others are taking your position.)

      A5 – Most of the time when I use the word “upstanding” in the context of a person, the song “Signs” is playing in my head. Not always, but in this case.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Will Truman says:

        …taking the view that they shouldn’t take that child on a plane…

        Yeesh. As if autistic people should just hide under a rock their whole life.

        They had coach tickets. They tried to deal with it at the airport, but the kid would not eat. They had an easy-enough solution on the plane.

        Problem solved. Move on.

        Stupid pilot.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Will Truman says:

        As for the pilot, he might not have any choice in this. Between FAA regs and airline policy he might have been forced to land as soon as the parents said that she might start scratching. The fact that paramedics were called to meet the plane leads me to believe this is the case, as they didn’t just try to kick them off the plane. Sucks, but I am guessing that is the case when there is so much regulation involved.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to aaron david says:

          I’m not sure that is factually correct, even if it is effectively so. Pilots tend to have a lot of authority with regard to what they will or will not tolerate on a plane. Of course, they also have a lot of responsibility for the same, so while there probably isn’t a regulation requiring the pilot divert & land to remove the troublesome passenger, if the passenger gets out of hand & causes harm, the pilot may be in hot water for not diverting ASAP.

          Also, the pilot is possibly making decisions based on incomplete information as reported from the cabin crew.Report

          • Avatar aaron david in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            I will take your word for it, as I tried looking to see if the regs said anything, but as with all code books, if you don’t already know were it is, you wont find it. That said even if the FAA doesn’t have anything, the airline itself might. Also, you are correct that the pilot might be operating from bad information. Its hard to say, as that is a horribly written article that doesn’t seem too interested in the crew side of the issue.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      A7: I was right along with him until I got to his solution. I really appreciate they way he puts the numbers in context, but for someone to work that hard getting the problem fleshed out, he punted on the answer & made no effort to explore the implications of it.

      Still, the numbers & context were useful, so I wanted to share.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Which solution is best? The one that most confirms with his recently discovered anarcho-capitalism.

      That’s about as accurate as calling you a communist. Market pricing of scarce resources isn’t an anarcho-capitalist thing to do*. It’s an economically literate thing to do.

      *Especially when the government gets the money.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      Pricing for scare resources is simply the most efficient way of allocating scarce resources. There’s plenty of scope for government to exercise some control around a water market (and you’d need a fair bit of government activity to set one up). It’s not an anarchist solution, but it is the best solution.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    The Federalist proves that they are silly, silly, and deeply inconsequential people:

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I mentioned a few years back that I got married really late: 26 (almost everybody else inclined to marry was married by 23 — I only went to one other (first) wedding after mine).

      There were some on the site who said something like “That was late???” and another handful who said something to the effect of “I’ve lived in places like that.” (Trumwill said that he moved from a place where it was weird that he married so young to a place where it was weird that he didn’t have two kids yet.)

      Anyway, all that to say, it’s always interesting to see the marriage numbers and I’m curious to see the other numbers for those same areas and see if the points of data make anything approaching a line.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        I come from a place where everyone marries young as well. A lot of them are on their second marriages now.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

          I lived and worked on Salt Lake City for a few months. I had a co-worker who was more or less considered an old maid for being single at 24.Report

          • When I was in Deseret, most of the guys I knew above a certain age seemed to fall into one of a couple categories:

            1) Non-LDS, may or may not get married.
            2) LDS, probably never will. At least not a traditional marriage.

            That age was 25.

            Non-traditional meant “she’d been married before and had kids.”Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:


              I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but my son’s mother converted to LDS when she was around 30 (I dunno if she’s still practicing; she goes to church, I hear, but lord knows which one). Anyway, immediately, and I mean immediately, the folks at her Church began trying to marry her off to one of the “older” unmarried men, which meant to guys over about 23. They failed, but not for a lack of trying.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

                Interesting. She lives in Austin? I’ve known Mormons outside of Deseret, but I don’t know how much the social dynamics of Mormonism in and out of Deseret work with regard to marriage. I mean, in the more general social context, interactions between Mormons and gentiles is completely different. But I guess there’s no reason that the inner workings, including marriage, wouldn’t be about the same (though harder for us to see since we’re not immersed in it).Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

                Yeah, she lived in Austin at the time (she lives in a suburb now). She got into a Mormon social circle one way or another, and the end result of that was her converting. It was a relatively fast thing, too.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

                I ask because if she was still in Tennessee (which I didn’t think was the case since you share custody, but wasn’t positive) there is actually a Mormon hub in that state somewhere. One of the things I’d overhear is the smattering of Mormon hubs here and there. Tennessee being an odd one because it was east of the Mississippi. There was another one in Georgia. And that place they settled for a while in Illinois. I can only remember the name of the one in Illinois, because of its historical significance (Nauvoo).Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

                @will-truman I don’t know where the hub is, but this is in my hometown (it says Nashville, but it’s in Franklin):


                I used to pass it every day on the way to high school.

                @zic the local Mormon temple kept an apartment in my old apartment complex, where they put up their missionaries. This meant that I ran into them often, sometimes daily, and had a lot of conversations with them. They receive a great deal of training about how to talk to various religious groups, but apparently not atheists, because with each new pair I was an object of curiosity.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

                I asked those girls if the thought that being an atheist meant I didn’t have morals.

                They did not know how to answer me. The inner turmoil was fascinating to watch; they kind of did think I had no moral compass, and fervently believed, if I’d only listen and open my heart, that I’d see the light of their moral clarity; but saying that would frighten me away.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                We had a couple of Mormons (both young women) recruiting in our neighborhood a few weeks ago. I was out taking photos, and they happily posed for me in their tastefully-restrained sexy getups. They asked me if we could talk, and I said yes, and then asked what I knew about the Latter Day Saints. I told them what I knew, and they seemed to think that meant I was 75% on the way to being converted. Then I told them I was an atheist, and could I talk to them about my belief that any religion that didn’t full acknowledge women’s autonomy was committing sin. They nearly ran.

                Which put them at my front door, where my husband was home. He invited them in. They asked if there was a woman in the house, “No,” she’s out taking photographs. He said, as he left, he heard them muttering about ‘that atheist’s house,’ so knew they’re already encountered me on the street.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to zic says:

                That is hysterical Zic.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

          This might say something about whether it is good to get married young.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        It would also be interesting to see the hometown divorce rates and remarriage rates.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        It was the other way around. I lived in Deseret where not having kids made us abnormal, and then to the urban southwest where being married (and not having cohabitated first) made me kind of a freak.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        My mom was 33 when she married for the first time and 34 when Lee and I were born. This made her an outlier in 1980 but now among the people I know, this seems to be the norm or even older. There are lots of women freezing their eggs so they can have kids in their late 30s and 40s. About half the people I know are married with and without kids. Another half are not.

        As I said below, I think a lot of people know spend a long time single and then they are suddenly married before they know it.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          A few years later, in Brookline, MA, this was the norm. My first child was born when I was 26, and I was a good decade younger than most of the other kids’ mothers. I was also one of just a handful of stay-at-home mothers, and my friendship was cultivated as a backup child-care provider; particularly by single mothers or women with demanding careers but without au pairs.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to zic says:

            I was in my early-to-mid forties when I had my two kids. I am significantly older than the parents of other kids the same age. I am sometimes mistaken as being the grandfather.

            I was neither emotionally nor financially prepared for parenthood at the time, but it surely would have been a lot easier chasing toddlers around had I started ten years earlier.Report

    • 26 is an odd place to cut off marry/not-marry. A not-as-bad-place to cut off the difference between marrying young and not marrying young, though.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    A7: Random thoughts… (1) “Environmentalists” is largely the federal government in the form of the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. Backed by a Supreme Court decision that basically says that (in the language of western water law) water calls issued by the federal government for whatever purpose take precedence over other claims. (2) It’s more than just the cost of the alfalfa, it’s all the other stuff that disappears if the alfalfa isn’t grown. California is #1 in milk production by a very wide margin, #2 in cheese production, and #4 in cattle and calves.Report

    • Avatar Mo in reply to Michael Cain says:

      One third of the alfalfa is exported to China.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      That’s what I mean up above about how he punted the answer. Alfalfa isn’t grown as a cash crop, it’s cow feed. Stop growing Alfalfa & you’ll need to import it, or replace it with something that is less thirsty but just as good.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Getting rid of alfalfa struck me as an odd thing to do. The obvious solution is to establish market pricing and let the rest sort itself out. If alfalfa farming remains profitable under market pricing, great. It’s a good use of resources. If not, it isn’t, and it should and will stop.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          I’d encourage farmers to switch to drought tolerant cash crops & import alfalfa from elsewhere.

          Although this report suggests alfalfa is losing it’s appeal with farmers.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          I’m with BB on this, the basic problem is that the water is being given away to agriculture. The reason it’s being given away is because of an absolute rat’s nest of property rights, regulations and covenants. The “simple” solution is allowing market pricing or a market pricing element into the system. The problem is that a lot of those water rights are “owned” as property and a lot of influential constituencies do not like the idea of agriculture in CA having to pay for their water.Report

          • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to North says:

            North: The problem is that a lot of those water rights are “owned” as property

            Didn’t you get the memo? Property rights are even more important for the poor than for the rich. Why do you want to hurt poor people in California? Ya big meanie.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

            If there’s a legitimate case that they own the water rights, they could keep them. Per the Coase Theorem, the original allocation doesn’t have much of an effect on efficiency when there’s a functional market with low transaction costs. As unpleasant as the thought of paying them to do nothing may be, it’s better than paying them to use the water inefficiently.Report

            • From Wikipedia

              This 1960 paper, along with his 1937 paper on the nature of the firm (which also emphasizes the role of transaction costs), earned Ronald Coase the 1991 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In this 1960 paper, Coase argued that real-world transaction costs are rarely low enough to allow for efficient bargaining and hence the theorem is almost always inapplicable to economic reality. Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Also on topic and recently posted over on Realty Based Community.


              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Yes, I understand that, hence the qualifier about transactions. Note that “the Coase theorem” refers to a specific thing Coase proved, and not to the entire body of his work. This is a case where the transaction costs probably would be low enough, since we’re talking about selling an abstraction, in bulk quantities.

                Note also that Coase’s work predates the Internet, which has dramatically lowered transaction costs for many things. Coaesian bargaining still isn’t applicable to things like air and water pollution, but this is a case where it probably is.Report

        • The obvious solution is to establish market pricing and let the rest sort itself out.

          You guys make it sound like that’s easy. I’d love to hear some details to address the situation as it actually exists. A guest post, please?

          In the 11 contiguous states west of the Great Plains, the federal government owns about 40% of the land. The current status of the case law is that the feds are entitled to as much water as they want to use, without paying a cent. One of the reasons that many westerners live in fear of the Endangered Species Act is that if the feds decide that saving an aquatic species requires keeping an additional 10% of the water in the river bed, they get to do that regardless of the consequences to the people who were using the water before. My perception — admittedly biased and with which reasonable people can disagree — is that there’s no way in hell Congress will decide to start paying for that water. The vote will be split on geographic lines. Not the first time — when the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act was passed, every western Congress critter voted “No”, independent of party.

          In much of the west, water rights of the form “Farmer A may divert up to 10,000 acre-feet of water at certain points and times” is a property right. In many cases it’s a property right going back over a hundred years. Requiring Farmer A to now pay for that water, which may put the farmer out of business, is almost certainly a taking that will have to be paid for somehow. It’s impractical for western states to decide now to take the Texas route. Most of 50 years ago, the State of Texas took title to all of the surface water in the state and allocates it as they see fit. During the most recent drought, they put some number of long-time cotton and rice farmers out of business by not allocating any water to them for multiple years in a row.

          It’s not like we don’t already have enough urban/rural antagonism in the west. The current situation is basically (and California is weirder than this) that the feds get what they want, then ag, then the cities fight over the remainder. Given a market for the non-fed share, the cities will easily outbid ag. That makes the new situation the cities taking what they want, and ag fights over the leavings.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Michael Cain says:

            The word “Simple” is in quotation marks for that very reason Mike. I agree it’s not remotely easy, about half my little comment observed that a lot of powerful interests would fight that sort of thing to the death.

            That said, as you note, the people are in the cities. If the agricultural interests don’t figure out some sort of compromise to draw down their water uses it’ll come down to votes and water prices can only go so high before peoples mental images of bucolic farms get overwhelmed by their disinterest in paying a fortune for water while fodder growers etc.. get it for free. It’s not like sprawling commercial farms make that good a public relations figure anyhow.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Michael Cain says:

            A real “market” price may be hard to establish, but we have some idea of how much water we can use from any given source. Adjusting the price until we use that much water instead of more than that amount would take care of the pricing issue pretty well, though. True, it would be a vicious price change for a lot of operations, but that’s going to happen soon enough anyway if things continue according to trend. One way to soften the blow would be to start the operation by giving farmers a cash grant equivalent to the value of the water they were granted for free in the old regime and then slowly tapering that grant off. Farmers who didn’t use their water allotment would end up ahead. Farmers who did but managed to reduce their usage could pocket the cash as an incentive.

            If it comes down to bidding, yes urban users are going to way outbid rural users. That may have bad optics, but the bottom line is that the water you drink and wash yourself with is worth a crapload more than the water that goes into the strawberries you eat. Any outcome that had anybody at all outbidding household water consumers seems like it would be insane. At least, I can’t think of a reasonable one.Report

            • Any outcome that had anybody at all outbidding household water consumers seems like it would be insane. At least, I can’t think of a reasonable one.

              Intel’s 14 nm fab outside Phoenix can easily outbid household consumers. The Palo Verde nuclear plant uses gray water from nearby towns for cooling, but could outbid those towns for the source water if push came to shove. There may be other industrial concerns that could bid ridiculous amounts for the water they need.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I’m sure there are some industrial users who have a very high willingness to pay, but that shouldn’t actually have much of an impact on market prices unless they want to use huge, huge amounts of water.

                Inframarginal willingness to pay doesn’t really affect market prices. That is, if market price is two cents per gallon, it doesn’t matter whether Intel is willing to pay three cents per gallon or twenty cents. The market price will remain two cents as long as there are X gallons of water available per year and users collectively are willing to purchase no more than X gallons per year at two cents per gallon.

                Also, according to this, industry uses only 6% of Arizona’s ~7.5 MAF per year. I would not have guessed that Arizona had that much water, or that much. Intel in particular apparently uses only about 4,000 AF per year at a plant, and recycles most of that, returning it to the aquifers, so even less on net.

                So technically Intel is going to be outbidding households, but only for marginal uses like lawn watering. The main determinant of the price households would have to pay for water under market pricing would be farmers’ willingness to pay.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Cain says:

                None of those applications use enough water to make a difference, basically what BB said. It’s Farmers versus urbans and Urbans will always outbid and outvote them.Report

            • @troublesome-frog

              Given that quantities are easier to figure out, the best approach is probably tradeable permits. You can make it palatable to farmers by giving them some free permits for a while. The incentives work out the same since they can sell spare permits if they manage to conserve water.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Oscar Gordon: Alfalfa isn’t grown as a cash crop, it’s cow feed.

        Actually, it’s both. When I was pulling a flatbed I hauled a hell of a lot of alfalfa from farmers selling it as a cash crop to dairies and feedlots.

        I spent quite a bit of time pondering the economics of hauling low-value per ton hay halfway across the country instead of just putting the damn dairies where the hay is grown and shipping the much higher valued milk and cheese.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:

          I meant cash crop like Almonds, or lettuce. There is a healthy trade market for alfalfa, especially during droughts or other severe weather that wipes out the hay fields.Report

  8. D5: This happened in Stone Mountain, Georgia, so I expect she’d just had too much Hill People milkReport

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Stone Mountain the town isn’t actually in the hills. It’s a suburb of Atlanta, next to (or including) the Stone Mountain inselberg. If you’ve never heard of the Stone Mountain rock formation, I recommend looking at Google images of it. You will undoubtedly see a large carving on the side of the formation that might shed some light on this unfortunate situation, perhaps more light than invocations of the devil.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah that would explain things.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        I’m surprised that you went with “inselberg” over “monadnock”.

        Yeah, the 30 Rock references to Stone Mountain and its “hill people” were especially hilarious, both knowing what Stone Mountain *is* (a park, in the ATL suburbs), and what it *was*, historically.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

          Ah, I didn’t realize it was a 30 Rock reference. And I didn’t actually know the word “monadnock” until just now, or I would have used it, because damn that’s an awesome word.

          (When I went to Stone Mountain in the mid-80s (or maybe late 80s), the guide referred to it as an inselberg.)Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

          It’s also the hometown of Donald Glover, one of the show’s original writers.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            I didn’t know he was from there.

            I always thought the show had a lot of fun with their exceedingly strange descriptions of Stone Mountain; both because it was generally at odds with reality, and because I thought as a show with such an NYC-centric POV they were having a little fun with the “exoticness” of it (I think that a lot of New Yorkers probably imagine any place called something like “Stone Mountain, GA” to be just as insane and terrifying as Kenneth always makes it sound).Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

              That’s really weird. For some reason, I thought Kenny was from rural Pennsylvania.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

              “Science was my favorite class. Especially the Old Testament.”Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

              The best descriptions though were always Tracy Jordan’s of his childhood neighborhood. The “Wendy’s” bit just killed me.

              “It’s all coming back to me. Oh my God! I slept on an old dog bed stuffed with wigs! I watched a prostitute stab a clown! Our basketball hoop was a rib cage – a rib cage! Why did you bring me here? I blocked all this stuff out for a reason! Oh, Lord, some guy with dreads electrocuted my fish!”

              “All my life I’ve tried to forget the things I’ve seen — a crackhead breastfeeding a rat, a homeless man licking a Hot Pocket off the third rail of the G train!”

              “I’ve seen a blind guy bite a police horse! A puppy committed suicide after he saw our bathroom! I once bit into a burrito and there was a child’s shoe in it! I’ve seen a hooker eat a tire! A pack of wild dogs took over and successfully ran a Wendy’s! The sewer people stole my skateboard! The projects I lived in were named after Zachary Taylor, generally considered to be one of the worst presidents of all time! I once saw a baby give another baby a tattoo! They were very drunk!”


  9. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I participated in a long discussion of the CA water situation based on that post yesterday on Google+. We had a couple of people with agricultural background, and a couple of legal people, and it makes things make a little more sense.

    You should have heard one attorney who has moved here from Idaho exclaim as he researched how water rights in CA work. Prior appropriation AND riiparian rights, combining the worst aspects of both, according to him. This is complicated by several factors – alfalfa is often grown to fix nitrogen back into the soil, after growing corn or soy. So it doesn’t actually matter that much if it turns a profit.

    Second, alfalfa, if it is watered, will reseed itself, so if you’re growing it for cash, you have an incentive to keep going and just weathering the bad years. Hmm, it’s almost like that metaphor “weathering” comes from agriculture or something. There are several other crops like this in CA, especially where there are trees involved, one year of not watering them would kill the trees and there goes a 40 year investment. There are orange trees here that are 300 years old, it is said.

    And of course, someone brought up the Owens Valley Water War of the 1920’s. We don’t really want to go there again.

    So, it’s making a little more sense, but it still sucks. In good news, there was a thunderstorm here in the Bay Area yesterday.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Doctor Jay says:


      “And of course, someone brought up the Owens Valley Water War of the 1920’s. We don’t really want to go there again.”

      Forget it Doctor Jay, It’s Chinatown….Report

  10. Avatar Kim says:

    well written and eloquent, and hilarious when you consider the source
    (or, more accurately, the ability of the Kochs to persecute people for whom they hold a grudge).Report

  11. Avatar Notme says:

    I simply cant imagine why George S. Would forget such things.Report

  12. Avatar LWA says:

    “That’s part of why, paradoxically, the poor need property rights even more than the rich: What the poor possess is definitionally small. As a result, it’s all too easy to take everything that they have. Including their sense of dignity. Including their ability to trust. And, finally, including their sense of community…”

    Property rights now include dignity, trust, and community?

    I’m down with that.

    All snarking aside, what Jason is saying, intentionally or not, is that property rights are inventions that we create. A bit of music can be made into property. Or not, depending on our choices.
    Right of tenancy can be a property right, and strengthened or weakened depending on our public policy choices.

    Maybe this is why it is so common to talk past each other.
    Asserting “property rights’ as a self evident object, something which is discovered rather than constructed, allows everyone to argue for or against anything.Report

  13. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    There are people who think Avengers 2 is supposed to be a dig and critique of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Part of this is DC v. Marvel fan person trash talk and part of it is political. Some people are upset that Avengers 2 spent a long time dealing with issues like collateral damage and making sure civilians were not random casualties.

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It definitely looked like an attempt to make DC look bad in comparison by focusing so heavily on the heroes preventing collateral damage.

      They’re two big rival companies; they’re going to try to upstage each other, and take advantage of any flaws that are pointed out in each others’ films.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to KatherineMW says:

        1. The first mistake was trying to make Superman dark and edgy. Superman should be light and jaunty. Christopher Reeve was the best Superman. There is an earnestness about Superman. Sadly people confuse being portentous and dark with being significant and deep.

        2. The second mistake was hiring Zack Snyder as a director.

        3. I repeat myself.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Superman can be morose, he can be dour, he can be many many things… but he’s really not edgy. He is the UR-hero, and needs to really be that.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

            That’s what makes Superman a better supporting character than a primary one.

            That said, I didn’t think they went all that edgy with him. (Then again, I was paying attention when they were talking about really dark and broody Superman in the 90’s, so that is one of my points of comparison.)Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

              Far better than making superman into an asshole.
              (Tony can keep that job, but for the love of god,
              don’t ask people to repay you for saving their life.
              How the Hell can they do that, Stark???)Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

              Will Truman: That’s what makes Superman a better supporting character than a primary one.

              I thought the first Captain America movie was decent and never saw the second; but even though Steve Rogers is nowhere near Superman levels of power, there are certain similarities, and it seems to me that there’s a real market for a hero like that – explicitly patriotic (without being jingoistic), who does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because of some childhood trauma or character flaw.

              “I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.”Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Glyph says:

                Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best movie Marvel has made thus far. It’s worth seeing.

                And in terms of having an inspirational, virtuous hero, it feels like the Superman movie that should have been made (but with more political issues in the mix).Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to KatherineMW says:

                “Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best movie Marvel has made thus far. It’s worth seeing.”

                I respectfully disagree.

                I think its very conscious remembering what it was combined with its refusal to never not be fun made GOG the best Marvel movie.

                I agree that Winter Soldier was better than most, though.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                GoG is, in fact, the only one I’ve really enjoyed. The rest were just meh.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                GOG was a masterpiece and when you consider their setting and background its popularity is astonishing.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I found Guardians of the Galaxy to be completely underwhelming. Sure, it had plenty of funny moments, but the villain was flat, everything about the plot was predictable (yep, they work together, screw up, lose the Plot Coupon, become a team, defeat the bad guy using the Plot Coupon), and the main protagonist felt like the same “irresponsibe manchild playboy” character that’s common currency at present (ref: James T. Kirk, Tony Stark).

                I don’t think “It had a racoon and a tree as real characters!” is, by itself, enough to make a movie great.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                Yeah, the problem is that you get really simplistic movies.
                Punch Punch Cheer.

                Someone with a bit more depth to them gets a better story moving.Report

  14. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    C2: The inside story is that his rampage started when someone mispronounced his name for the last god-damned time.Report

  15. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Adam Gopnik on the ideological rigor that doesn’t allow the United States to maintain a proper infrastructure

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      As far as I know most airport terminals are private concerns paid for by user fees, so I’m not sure what he’s on about when he says that old airport terminals are a sign of Republican perfidy.

      “Trains take us places together.”

      Yeah, sometimes they take us to the morgue!Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Airlines rent out the terminals from the government but the airports are usually built, maintained, and operated by the government including the terminal areas.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      After slavery, one of the fiercest debates in the early United States was whether the federal government could spend money on what was called internal improvements or what we would call infrastructure. Slavery advocates tended to hate internal improvements for some reason. The more things change, the more they remain the same.Report

  16. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    M1: Is there a psychological term for using a public affectation of deep hatred to mask a deep and profound love of, admiration for, or sexual yearning toward another? Because I swear that’s what every liberal writer on the internet has toward David Brooks.

    Everyone says that they dislike Brooks and his writing, but I think they doth protest too much. And I know this because *I* really dislike Brooks and his writing, and so I choose not to read him. Liberals on the Internet, on the other hands, parse every singe phrase he writes over and over like it’s a 2-second clip from the Zupruder film.

    I swear, I think there is an inordinate number of political writers out there who wake up with an erection on Sunday mornings because they’re so damn excited to see what that David has written now, how they can write about it, and fingers crossed — if it will be the post that finally makes him pick up the phone and call.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I am overjoyed to call him Blinking Bobo, as that’s his own damn term, and it’s a silly one that makes me think of a chimp.

      Any day of the week, I’ll take Thomas Wilson over him (Maniac’s just awesome, no?)Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:


      I am largely indifferent towards David Brooks but I don’t read him. I suspect the target audience for David Brooks is people like my mom. She will never vote Republican but seems to like is columns. I suspect that is because David Brook’s reminds her of old-school Republicans instead of the modern rabid branch.

      I also never really got hate-reading or hate-watching as a thing. Lots of things seem to get hate read and watched including David Brooks, the NY Times Sunday Styles section, Real Housewives of Wherever, etc.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I think things are said to be “hate read” as a way for people to excuse the pleasure they get from reading/listening/watching. The pleasure they get out of it is probably not the pleasure it was ostensibly designed to provide, but pleasure they get anyway.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I like to hate read angry Redpill rants and neoreactionaries and stuff. David Brooks is amateur hour.Report

  17. Avatar Notme says:

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Notme says:

      If we’re hoping to get the death penalty overturned, this is probably the best case one could have hoped for.

      If you can change somebody’s mind using *THIS* case? Maybe the needle will actually move. Or some other less tacky metaphor.Report

  18. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:


    I didn’t know ‘black people’ was a racist term.

    “Bob, you worthless asshole.”

    “Oh jeez, I didn’t realize that he was so touchy about being called Bob. Crybaby.”Report

  19. Avatar Dand says:

    Duke professor suspended for comments on NYTimes editorial:

    Will he receive the same type of organized support that Steven Salaita got?Report

  20. Avatar Stillwater says:

    This probably deserves a post of its own…

    Nebraska abolishes the death penalty. It’s a really amazing story to read, what with the number of political vectors in play.

    Good on ya Big Red.

    Edit: OK, it’s not abolished yet. Gov says he’ll veto, state senate has veto-proof majority. So we’ll have to see how it plays out. Still, it’s pretty damn cool.Report