Linky Friday: Blood & Sweat


infant photo

Image by afrokai Linky Friday: Blood & Sweat

[C1] German Lopez interviews someone that says we can’t blame the War on Drugs for mass incarceration. Xenocrypt has been calling this (and making other interesting observations) for a while.

[C2] Stephanie Cohen wants more juvenile delinquents to read. Well, wants them to be made to read.

[C3] As best as I can tell, this story is legitimate. Which makes it interesting that it seems to have picked up almost exclusively by rightward tabloid outfits. (Daily Mirror, a leftward tabloid, being the exception.)

[C4] This is one of those plots they put on a legal show as comedic relief to the main, darker plot.

[C5] Ruth Graham looks at collisions between church, medicine, and the law.

[C6] A case of mistaken identity.


[H1] Yes, but would it still be worth living?

[H2] Wow.

[H3] Sweden has figured out how to prevent people from dying from smoking, and tobacco control advocates will never forgive them for it.

[H4] OF course, the greatest trick they’ve pulled off in the US is for tobacco to become a class issue without being considered a class issue. Once you’ve done that, there are no more competing interests to get in your way.

[H5] If we’re worried that Trump is losing his mental faculties, there are better ways to test for it than remote diagnosis over television sets.

[H6] The ethical questions here are manifest. This isn’t the only area where “What if knowing less is more?” comes into play.

[H7] To be honest, I worry more about antibiotic resistance than I do climate change, but maybe I just need to have a little more faith.


vacation beach photo

Image by heschong Linky Friday: Blood & Sweat

[L1] Don’t work while on vacation. Not even a little bit. (Also, porn.)

[L2] Walmart would like its employees to do it a favor, while their driving home anyway. I would like them to specify how the compensation is going to work.

[L3] This is pretty much every bored dayjobbers dream.

[L4] WordPress is closing its gorgeous San Francisco office because nobody was using it.

[L5] Jane the Actuary is skeptical of the concept of self-insured family leave.

[L6] This is a cool story not only because Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are good, and because it was a janitor that came up with the idea, but because the janitor was actually rewarded.


cat photo

Image by chen.xiahong Linky Friday: Blood & Sweat

[G1] Adam Ozimek touts some of the reasons that property taxes are better than Georgian land taxes.

[G2] Some of these lists of ways democracy is different overseas are simply a product of having a Westminster system and at least one of them applies to many states as well.

[G3] Benjamin Straumann argues that republicanism, in the classical sense was something of a smokescreen during the founding of the United States.

[G4] Turns out, it’s not so difficult to start up a shell company. Even for a cat.

[G5] CapX looks at attempts to disrupt poverty by moving people around.

[G6] The Courier looks back at Scotland’s smoking ban, ten years in. Bar owners have not been pacified.


Linky Friday: Blood & Sweat

Image by leighblackall Linky Friday: Blood & Sweat

[M1] I wonder if Sling and some of the others are going to carry the new CNN spinoff channel.

[M2] Bill deBlasio sounds like Donald Trump when talking about the media, but it’s totally different.

[M3] I have long wondered if Law & Order SVU has been the scripted TV show with the most deleterious effect on society. James Shanahan and Michael Morgan argue that – for reasons similar to my views of SVU – all sorts of television lead to Trump.

[M4] If we were to pass a law saying something like “No non-competes unless you’re paying the more than $75k a year or giving the an option for a stake in the company” I would be okay with that.

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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209 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Blood & Sweat

  1. M4: I think there should be a nation wide adaptation of California Business and Professions Code 16600:

    “Except as provided in this chapter, every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.”

    Non-competes are anti-worker, anti-trade, anti-capitalistic, and anti-democratic.

    H1: No.

    L2: This would need to be their hourly wage and would open them up to overtime. I can see Walmart trying to do otherwise and the class actions for unpaid overtime.


    • I bought a business a little over a month ago and in the contract for the sale, I specifically wrote into it a non-compete clause. I would not have bought the business without that, as the seller could simply turn around an create an identical product to sell to customers he already knew and had a relationship with. Non-compete’s are vital.

      Now, they maybe used in inappropriate ways, but that doesn’t violate the concept.


        • I can see the justification for a non-compete in an employment contract, but it would have to be very narrowly crafted. You shouldn’t have, for instance a non-compete that says a Google employee can not work for any company that produces software, or operates a search engine service. But I could see the value in saying that an engineer who was working on Google’s search engine could not take a job working on Bing, but could still work at MicroSoft, as long as it wasn’t on a search platform.


          • Maybe, but it should also be attached to some significant compensation then. Sandwitch makers should not have to sign multi-year noncompetes for no extra pay as a condition of employment.


            • Oh, hell yeah. I mean, my point about narrow tailoring is that you have to be looking at protecting IP/trade secrets, not just trying to recoup normal training costs.


      • This is why the whole thing smells fishy to me. Just back-of-the-envelope, it seems like there’s absolutely no way to pay their employees even minimum wage plus mileage and have the delivery be economical. Think about how cheaply UPS can get a package delivered. A chunk of that his how efficient their last mile process is. Without a truck loaded with packages and designed for easy unloading combined with an efficiently planned route, it seems like you’re doomed to pay way too much for delivery. Even a few minutes of extra driving at minimum wage starts to eat into that few dollars of shipping cost you plan to save.

        It seems more likely that WalMart thinks it has found a legal way to make them do the work without paying for it and the service will fold when it finally works its way through the courts.



    A new book called Dream Hoarders argues that it is not the 1 percent that is holding back progress but we need to focus on the upper 20 percent and push back against people who claim they are just scrapping buy on a good 6 figures a year.

    There is a lot of truth in this but as the author admits it is not easy politics. Even the Democratic Party finds it hard to raise taxes on people until income level reaches 250K.


    • I don’t know if it’s the book or the article, but the way these articles get written about the upper-middle class is pretty… off. Not necessarily the bits about us being a bunch of overpaid twerps who desperately cling to every scrap of privilege, penny of home price, and tax expenditure we can get our hands on, because they obviously have our number on that account. But they really make a lot of hay out of cultural markers that have more to do with living in New York, DC, or the Bay Area than with being UMC.


      • That’s my read as well. You mean the UMC enjoys education and safe neighborhoods while still being able to save for retirement? They sound like absolutely awful people! Get them!

        Many of the actual policies he proposes are very sensible. Curbing our stupid tax expenditures and all that jazz sounds great. But so much of the argument for it sounds less like, “This is good policy because it stops subsidizing things that need not be subsidized,” and more like, “You should have the thing he has, and he shouldn’t have it because he’s a soft, lazy shit with bad leisure preferences.” So basically, politics as usual.


    • There need to be some serious carrots in place for that demographic to make it work. Income in that range does give people a considerably better than median lifestyle but getting there typically requires some serious student loan debt and living in the most expensive parts of the country, plus being ineligible for any sort of public relief. Obviously no one should shed tears for that group. Speaking as someone who is roughly there though, you end up a middle man between your employer and your various creditors, one corporate restructure away from the same shitstorm as everyone else.

      Personally I’d be fine taking the tax hit but only if my student loans were discharged or 100% tax deductible and I was guaranteed free (or European style cheap) tuition for my kid. Some sort of socialized childcare wouldn’t hurt either. But that’s the reason it doesn’t happen. Under our current structure you’d be taking more from people who are well enough off not to benefit from any relief the state offers but at the end of the day are only marginally more secure than middle middle to working class.


      • What I have noticed about government day care is that the biggest advocates I know for it are middle class professional families where both people get psychological satisfaction from their careers.

        I think the big issue is that a lot of UMC types put up hard barriers like keeping their schools, public and private, away from outsiders. A few years ago, there was a big issue when a well to do town called Orinda went after a young girl who was the daughter of the maid of a family. IIRC the maid lived with the family or had an arrangement but the school still tried to kick the girl out.

        I also suspect a lot of UMC people get their degrees debt free or from the bank of mom and dad. Plus help with downpayments, rent when working their first low paid jobs (articles suggest this is not uncommon), etc.


        • I also suspect a lot of UMC people get their degrees debt free or from the bank of mom and dad. Plus help with downpayments, rent when working their first low paid jobs (articles suggest this is not uncommon), etc.

          A lot do, but a lot don’t. Stuff like “having enough money to send your kid to a private college without debt” is sort of like a class marker within the UMC.


          • UMC people are some of the biggest complainers about student debt because so many of them are burdened by it even if they have a job that allows them to eventually pay it off.


        • I have no disagreement on pulling down whatever barriers you’re talking about. Come one, come all. Granted I also chose to live in a still heavily working class Hispanic neighborhood (admittedly we are slated for gentrification) because I like easy access to the city and interesting dining options. Either way I’m probably not the one that needs convincing.


      • Another issue in opportunity hoarding is that the U.S. still uses legacy admissions especially at elite universities which open lots of doors and the always present connections.

        I was in court yesterday and an attorney was introducing her granddaughter to the Judge. The girl was only a high school sophomore in Menlo Park and working in her grandmother’s office.

        I was able to survive the law school crisis better than most because of connections and even when I was unemployed I did okay.


        • IIRC the Swedish government did a study during the 1960s or 1970s and determined that a daughter of a college professor who wants to go into medicine is more likely to end up as a doctor than the daughter of a cop, who would probably end up as a nurse. This is with the help of an egalitarian education system and fully developed welfare state with steep income taxes and cultural homogeneity at the time.


          • That actually makes a lot of sense. Kids often want to be able to relate to their parents, and vice versa, so it makes sense they’ll pick a profession when that is possible. A cop & a nurse can relate and trade work stories, as can a doctor and a nurse, but a doctor and a cop would be speaking two separate languages.

            My dad was a draftsman, and it’s almost impossible for him to find anything to relate to the work I do, because my career is just so far outside his wheelhouse I am speaking a foreign language to him.


            • My father was an electrician, and in high school I took “electronics” (which in practice was a shop class where we actually learned almost nothing except simple iterations of Ohm’s law and how to do a poor job soldering). The main reason I took it, though, was because my father was an electrician because I was otherwise not interested in the subject.


          • I don’t know why anyone would expect otherwise. Cognitive ability is strongly hereditary, and it takes more of it to be a professor than to be a police officer, and more to be a doctor than a nurse.


        • Another issue in opportunity hoarding is that the U.S. still uses legacy admissions especially at elite universities which open lots of doors and the always present connections.

          I’m not a big fan of legacy admissions, but I do have to wonder how big the problem really is. If you’re bright enough to be competitive at the type of school that has a substantial chunk of legacy admissions, you have *tons* of options for college. You will get in somewhere, and that somewhere will be perfectly fine.

          Sure, getting into Harvard will give you connections for life and make a long term difference, but we’re no longer talking about at ticket to a UMC lifestyle here. You can get to the UMC lifestyle by going to any decent university and choosing your career wisely.


          • True, but legacy admissions is a thing pretty much down the line. The marginal non-legacy applicant who gets rejected by Dartmouth is going to have a lot of other good choices, but how about the marginal non-legacy student at Colgate that they displace?


            • I had to look up Colgate, but it still looks like we’re talking about a moderately selective school. With the scores that put you on the bubble there, you still have plenty of options. I get your point that there’s ultimately a finite number of seats and one new ass means one ass gets displaced, but I’d be a lot more concerned if it seemed like the legacy numbers were actually high all the way down the line.

              The impression I get is that as you move down the selectivity line, the legacy percentage drops off pretty rapidly. It seems like you wouldn’t have to travel too far down the line before the effect of legacy policies on your probability of admission is way down in the noise next to cosmic rays and the school needing somebody for the curling team. Are there really a lot of students at Colgate who come from a line of Colgate alumni and attend as family tradition the same way there are at the top 10 schools?


              • The left, for the most part, doesn’t ignore self-interest, which is why they tend to favor things like using progressive taxation to fund welfare state programs or universal benefits like education.

                Yeah, you’re probably right.

                Though some families do have traditions like that.


              • Some quick Googling shows me that Colgate’s admissions rating is 27 percent which is a lot more selective than most universities in the United States.

                Legacy Admissions goes to more than just HYPS. I’d say it is an issue for almost all selective colleges and universities in the U.S. where most graduates tend to do fine and there is name recognition.

                The research shows that people who graduate from elite schools probably would have done well anywhere but I certainly get more credit (deserved or not) when I say “I went to Vassar” because it has a reputation as being among the top. Though Seth Meyers allegedly took a dig at us last night* and the Simpson’s makes fun of Vassar because Matt Goering’s mom went there.

                I think the hoarding comes from the idea that all these legacies are filled with traditions and shared knowledge and looking out for each other. You can see it with Old Miss or Alabama in the South or Tulane.

                *The dig seems to be that Vassar is where you go when you can’t get into the Ivy League. It did seem like a lot of my classmates really wanted to go to Brown.


            • Do legacy admissions displace anyone? As Saul says, the point is to get donations. Donations are what allows elite colleges to offer need-based financial aid, and presumably to increase class sizes. It may be unfair, and it may dilute the value of the degree for students who got in solely on their own merits, but it’s not clear to me that it actually makes it harder for other students to get into good colleges.


          • Many legacy admissions can probably get in on their own success these days. Most elite universities would blanche at admitting a really unqualified person in as a legacy. At least I’d hope they would.


            • I think the issue is that it helps the marginal kid and perhaps it should not. Why should being a third-generation Yale help a kid who is on the fence as opposed to a on the fence kid who is the first in their family to go to college?

              The answer is donations.


              • Donations is the primary answer and private institutions are always going to seek them. The secondary answer is that the elite colleges like HYPS have long institutional memories and history. Things like generations of a family going to them helps fits well into these institutional histories. It makes them feel venerable and that’s important to the people who work for old institutions.


      • Getting the UMC to sacrifice themselves and their wants for the sake of people bellow them is going to require a political miracle without serious carrots. That’s why the most durable parts of the welfare state are the parts that are universal and make high taxation bearable for the UMC. Parts reserved for the working class or people in poverty are less popular. Many advocates for income equality love mean tested programs and basically seem to think that the UMC should sacrifice themselves.


        • Yes, some on the left think they UMC should sacrifice themselves. Kind of like when they argue that folks should send their kids to public schools instead of private ones. Why do they ignore self interest?


          • Because the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or whatever that line from Search for Spock was.

            I mean, it’s a nice sentiment, and it carries a lot of truth, but it can not be an overarching philosophy.


            • I’m left of the median commenter here (even though, like Saul, I’d be a neoliberal shill on LGM), and I’m one of the big UBI evangelizers here.

              I’d be happy to give up 10% or so to make it happen (as long as it was progressive enough). But even I would start to blanch at 25%…

              Hoarding? In some sense, sure. But as long as it’s humans, perfect fairness ain’t in the cards.


              • I don’t really like the term ‘hoarding’ either. Perpetuation of self interest within an obsolete social contract seems more on point, but you know, clicks clicks clicks.


              • There interesting thing about LGM is that many of the posters are middle-class and above professionals. There is a working class contingent but their size is hard to gauge.

                Erik does get a lot of pushback when it comes to his rants on schooling because I suspect many LGM readers with kids do send their kids to schools that Erik would not approve of morally.


        • Which is exactly why I oppose means testing. If you really want to get into the reasons why we have the problems we do with economic mobility and this sort of weirdly unspoken and impossible to resolve class warfare in our society this is it. The 18-19% that still live roughly the American dream would have to take a big hit in the tax restructuring to make a more sustainable and egalitarian country but all the political momentum is against expansion of the welfare state and in many instances for gutting it entirely. If the only real choice is sacrificing you and yours versus FYIGM well… I think that’s an easy call for most people.


          • We have one party that is so dedicated to gutting the welfare state that they are writing a tax cut bill and calling it a healthcare bill even though tens of millions will loose their insurance if they succeed. The other party wants to maintain and even expand the welfare state but faces some constitutional hardball.


            • “We need to do this because we all have responsibilities to each other.”

              “If we all have responsibilities to each other, what are their responsibilities to me?”

              “I can’t believe you’d ask that. What a horrible question! I just can’t even.”


              • “If we all have responsibilities to each other, what are their responsibilities to me?”

                Exactly the same as yours to them. I’m surprised you asked

                For instance, the ACA , in its majestic equality, forbids insurance companies to deny coverage to the rich as well as the poor for preexisting conditions, for mental issues and addiction problems, and to their dependants under 26 y.o.


                • In practice, some people are consistently the beneficiaries of these supposedly mutual responsibilities, and some are consistently stuck fulfilling them.


                  • In practice, some people are consistently the beneficiaries of these supposedly mutual responsibilities, and some are consistently stuck fulfilling them.

                    Perhaps. The Left is obsessed with people camping out in the upper levels of income, the Right with camping out in the lower levels, and it’s unclear to what degree this is a problem.

                    Normally we’re presented snapshot data, “the 1% earned this in 2000 and this in 2016” with the underlying assumption that the 1% in those two years were the same people. Or we’re presented similar data for the bottom with the same assumption.

                    The moral case for strong welfare is much stronger if it’s a once in a lifetime event. The moral case for “soak the rich” is much less if it’s a once a lifetime event (selling a business you’ve spent 30 years building, etc).

                    Also if we’re talking about inequality, benefits, and income, then we really should be dealing with “after gov benefits” figures rather than “before”.


              • “If we all have responsibilities to each other, what are their responsibilities to me?”

                You’re responsibility isn’t to any particular individual, which seems to me the fallacy in the argument. Instead, it’s a responsibility to a social order which allows you to flourish. Defection is individually rational but collectively irrational. Same ole problem as ever.


                • … it’s a responsibility to a social order which allows you to flourish. Defection is individually rational but collectively irrational.

                  Even from a collectivist ethics stand point, there are issues.

                  1) These programs must be sustainable, i.e. not break the budget. The politics of them often requires “more”, regardless of the math. Every new Progressive politician needs to find a new program to create.

                  2) These programs must make things better, not worse. Not just the first dollar being spent but the last. The reluctance to subject these programs to a cost benefit analysis on a yearly basis suggests making things better isn’t the point.

                  We already know some of these programs encourage/enable dysfunctional behavior. We should have a calm sensible discussion on that… but any attempt results in demagoguery and claims that cutting even one dollar will result in people starving in the streets.


                • “You’re responsibility isn’t to any particular individual, which seems to me the fallacy in the argument. Instead, it’s a responsibility to a social order which allows you to flourish. Defection is individually rational but collectively irrational. Same ole problem as ever.”

                  Still, you and I have obviously different outlooks on the world, and every once in a while you mention that my view doesn’t match the real world. What you have written sounds a lot like the ‘social contract’ stuff. I don’t see that as real world.

                  There are people who die every day with people walking past them that could help, but there is no real social contract. The reality of helping an individual relies on recognition that a person must abide by the theory. That this doesn’t occur in vast quantums of society shows that the theory isn’t robust or even wide spread.

                  Do you have any facts or data that at least shows X amount of the world population practices the social contract theory? We’re not counting anything forced on the population like taxes or welfare state, just general self-mandated practice?


                  • What you have written sounds a lot like the ‘social contract’ stuff.

                    Joe, as you should know by now, my account of the state isn’t social contract theory, it’s the stationary bandit theory.


                    • Ah yes, I apologize. I remember you saying that before and looking into some of Olsons work.

                      As I have said before I think Ian Morris makes a better case for Geography

                      Even though he goes on at length about domestication of plants and animals and farming, I have tended to attribute the developments based within an increasing ability for people to increase tangible capital formation and high rates of exchange.

                      I also don’t agree with many of Ians analysis of the leviathan being a peace keeper.


                • “Okay, I’m meeting my responsibilities to the social order as an ongoing concern. What are their responsibilities to the social order?”

                  “No, you’re not. By asking the question, you’re not meeting one of your responsibilities.”


                  • Jaybird, one reason I find these types of arguments counterproductive is that the anti-statist, libertarian line of argument you’re pursuing leads to incoherence: the state cannot be justified from a priori principles but given human nature the state, or the functional equivalent of state power, is logically entailed as a matter of fact. The end of the line of thought is a bunch of angry, confused libertarianish wandering thru intellectual space petulantly denying what’s pretty apparent: that their argument is a reductio on their own premises. It’s just a waste of time, if you ask me.


                    • Read the questions as being other than anti-statist or libertarian.

                      It’s just a waste of time, if you ask me.

                      I think we’re going to find ourselves wishing that we had quick and handy answers to these questions.

                      Primarily because, when they start getting asked in earnest out in the wild, they won’t be even close to anti-statist or libertarian.


                      • I think we’re going to find ourselves wishing that we had quick and handy answers to these questions.

                        Start the ball rolling then. What’s your quick and handy answer to the question?


                        • There are the “describing the way things are” answers, of course.

                          Those include “there are a lot of laws that only get enforced in those neighborhoods” and “police treat you like a valued customer but treat them like a deadbeat who wants to use the bathroom without buying something first”.

                          But those can’t be the “official” answers.

                          Yet, anyway.


                        • “What’s your quick and handy answer to the question?”

                          The reason we want to see your answer is that any answer Jaybird gives will obviously be either the product of racist homophobic misogyny, the desperate grasping of the rich to maintain their advantage over the poor, or intellectual navel-gazing irrelevant to consensus reality.


                    • “one reason I find these types of arguments counterproductive is that the anti-statist, libertarian line of argument you’re pursuing leads to incoherence”

                      I don’t get the sense he’s asking about statism or libertarianism. I think he’s asking why it’s Obviously Morally Wrong to ask whether people receiving public welfare have any obligations in return.


                      • I don’t think that the fact that it’s Obviously Morally Wrong will be sufficient reason to prevent people from asking the questions.

                        Which sucks because it seems to me like this is happening right around the same time that The Authorities are dead set of flushing away any semblance of moral authority they have by acting like members of a gang rather than as Law Enforcement.


                        • “I don’t think that the fact that it’s Obviously Morally Wrong will be sufficient reason to prevent people from asking the questions.”

                          I’m not worried that people won’t ask the questions.

                          I’m worried that other people won’t be willing to provide answers beyond that it’s Obviously Morally Wrong to ask questions, and that asking why it’s Obviously Morally Wrong is itself Obviously Morally Wrong.


                          • That gets to the heart of the issue, DD. Either you think moral obligations entail redistribution from the wealthy to the poor, or you don’t. If you think redistribution doesn’t make sense, then you obviously reject the moral argument and should be demonstrating why it’s wrong. If you think red. does make sense and on moral grounds, then you should defend it. If you think redistribution makes sense but not on moral grounds, then make that argument. But merely saying “the question is important and no one’s answering it!” when everyone on in this chain – me, Joe Sal and notme – already answered it while you and Jaybird haven’t it is a form of self-indulgent and pointless mental masturbation.


                            • “Either you think moral obligations entail redistribution from the wealthy to the poor, or you don’t.”

                              That’s not the question Jaybird’s asking, though.

                              “We need to do this because we all have responsibilities to each other.”
                              “If we all have responsibilities to each other, what are their responsibilities to me?”
                              “I can’t believe you’d ask that. What a horrible question! I just can’t even.”

                              His question is, why that third sentence? Why is it Obviously Morally Wrong to suggest that the social obligations that compel redistribution might also compel non-preferred behaviors by the recipients?

                              This is not a discussion of whether it’s wrong. It’s a discussion of why the immediate answer is “that’s Morally Wrong!” It’s a discussion about how the discussion about this goes.

                              And if you don’t give that answer, well, then we’re not talking about you.


                            • Either you think moral obligations entail redistribution from the wealthy to the poor, or you don’t. …

                              No. Attempting to narrow the options to a binary choice is the fallacy of the False Dilemma. No one on any side is in favor of people starving to death on the street.

                              It’s possible to think society has obligations and still think the answer to “how much redistribution should there be” should be something other than “more”.

                              Call it the marginal theory of distribution. The first dollars spent this way are wildly useful, they prevent things like starvation. However at some point it also strongly encourages people to make dysfunctional choices.

                              To answer your question about what is the obligation of people on the dole, the obligation is to be on the dole as little as possible; To be a net contributor to society over the course of their lifetime.


                              • Ahh, so you’ve moved from “what are their obligations to me?” to “but, I’m obligated to help them be better people”, eh? That must be the Christian in you peeking out from behind the robes.

                                Still not seeing this as interesting or important except as a negative critique of the welfare state (and state generally). Otherwise it’s just reg’lar ole politics. (You’re aware that the US already has redistributive welfare programs, right?)


                                  • Let me try to clarify my thoughts on this. The original question, what are their obligations to me?, is an ugly question indeed.

                                    But if it is not answered, the argument that “we all have moral obligations to each other” rots from the inside. If “we all have obligations to each other” means, in practice, “you’re the only one who has moral obligations worth talking about and certainly the only one who should be corrected for not meeting them”, you’re going to find all kinds of weird pathologies bubbling up in the society.

                                    If the counter-argument to this trivial if not downright banal point is that people have a moral obligation to be better than that, I think you’ll be disappointed with the level of moral seriousness your moral authority and moral insight receives.


                                    • If there is not a clear concise response to the the question “what are their obligations to me” after my obligations to others has been defined, then you know the true answer is “shut up and do as you’re told”.

                                      That’s all you really need to know.


          • …why we have the problems we do with economic mobility…

            In the last 2 decades I’ve bounced around in the quintiles. Very, very rarely do I see stats that admit being in a quintile this year isn’t the same as being in it next. Instead we are shown snapshots.

            When I think of the various factors that a snapshot doesn’t capture (choppy income, retirement bonus or just retirement, education before starting work, etc) mostly those factors lean towards a snapshot understating mobility.

            …a more sustainable and egalitarian country…

            The number of relatives who have decided to not get married so they can be unwed parents and collect benefits is now four (that’s up one since last year).

            I’m unconvinced increasing the welfare state is going to result in good things, even (especially) good things from a social mobility standpoint.


        • My grandfather told a story that made me laugh as a child but makes a little more sense looking at that chart. He talked about working for Buick and the day he got a raise to sixty cents an hour. He talked about the heady feeling of how he was making money *EVERY MINUTE*.


          • My mother talked about working for “37 1/2 cents an hour, plus tips” as a waitress in the late 50s. I was always aghast at how poorly she was paid “back then.”

            running across an “inflation calculator” online one day, I tried it out on a lark…turns out it’s about $3.40 today. Still not minimum wage (but given how a lot of locations set wages for “tippable” employees, it’s not as far off today’s mark as one might think…I think minimum wage for “tippable” employees can be as low as about $2.15, still)

            Then again – the restaurant she worked at got a lot of bus and tourist traffic, so tips were often pretty crappy.


          • Almost certainly pretax, and certainly before the benefits of various programs are figured in. Also the median/average/upper numbers for the lowest quintile are cut off low income at “zero”.

            Quintile numbers seem like they’d be problematic for measuring inequality because it’s a snapshot of income and ignores lifestage, choppiness of income, different structures of financial reward, don’t adjust for benefits, and don’t adjust for cost of living.


    • There is a lot of truth in this but as the author admits it is not easy politics.

      Yes, there is some truth to this… but some of the policy proposals step deep into rewarding disfunctional behavior in the same of “equality”.

      SOME of what is going on is exclusionary policy, but get rid of that and I seriously doubt things change much.

      Wave a magic wand and make one of my kids a disfunctional mess. In 10 or 20 years they’ll have dropped a social level or three. I lack the resources to make their life work if they can’t do it themselves.

      In a level playing field, the kids whose parents value education, hard work, physical health (meaning that normal BMI the article mentioned), etc will end up with significant life skills and thus significant life advantages.


    • “A new book called Dream Hoarders argues that it is not the 1 percent that is holding back progress but we need to focus on the upper 20 percent and push back against people who claim they are just scrapping buy on a good 6 figures a year.”

      sic transit Occupy Wall Street, I guess. I did think they had a pretty good message about how the way that you can now experience economic insecurity despite not being a drunken bum sleeping in a cardboard box, but it seems that didn’t Solve All The Problems and so we’re back to “effacer la bourgeoise”.


  3. C3: Rightest tabloids picked this story up because it fits their narrative about sexual assault while other media outlets did not pick it up because it does not fit their narrative about sexual assault.

    H1: A lot of the health advice that works seems anti-pleasure in one way or another. What they are saying is true based on human biology, most humans really don’t need to eat as much as they do and the key to maintaining a good weight is learning to be comfortable with hunger, but it is hard.

    H3: We can’t let people of fun without cost now, can we?

    L1: The employers of the world aren’t going to care one bit. If they want you to do some or a lot of work even though your on vacation than they will make you.

    M3: We had a discussion of this when Saul wrote his post about the Frankfurt school. A lot of people think that the world is more dangerous than it is because of television. Its been a problem with media long before television existed. Newspapers, books, radio, and movies also pushed moral panic.

    Unrelated but part of my brain always read Law & Order -SVU as Law & Order SUV, Special Vehicles Unit, and imagined it as show about traffic cops and courts to protect precious parking resources in the big city.


  4. M4: My company has a deal where they will pay for your education (or training or whatever) but there are two stipulations:

    1) you have to pass (they ain’t paying for no Fails/Incompletes)
    2) you have to stay with the company for two years before they consider the debt paid (that is, they’ll pony up, but if you leave before two years are over, they’ll expect reimbursement for their reimbursement)

    This strikes me as eminently fair.

    The one that drives me up the freaking wall is when Jimmy John’s has non-competes for its sandwich creators. (Good news! They stopped doing that.)

    I was speaking with a buddy who works for an entirely different company and he said that his company did a review where they found that it was easier to become a Vice-President by working for the company for two years, going to another company and getting a promotion there, coming back two years later with a promotion, going somewhere else to get a promotion, coming back and getting a promotion, so on and so forth until you come back as upper management than it would be to start in the mail room, bust your hump for the same number of years, then make upper.

    That is to say: if you were loyal to the company, you’d never make upper until your career was almost over. If, however, you came from elsewhere? Oh, yeah! They’d *TOTALLY* give you the job.

    They’re reviewing this policy because, they found, it rewards people running off if they can find a better deal somewhere else.

    I remembered thinking “I can’t believe that management didn’t just say that they were going to start issuing non-competes.”

    Of course, if they started doing that, maybe everybody would start doing that, and *THEN* where would they find upper management?


    • …he said that his company did a review where they found that it was easier to become a Vice-President by [jumping between companies example]…

      Back in the day one of the policies I fought against at Bell Labs was the one that said someone with a masters degree could be hired on as a full member of technical staff on the say-so of a supervisor and two MTS. Someone who came in with a bachelors as an associate MTS, got an MS on their own time (and the company’s tuition payments), with multiple years of in-house work experience, still required sign-off by two vice presidents in order be promoted to MTS. I could never decide if that was the dumbest personnel policy, or if the one that said you should put your best technical staff on the list for promotion to management, rather than the ones that demonstrated technical competence plus management skills.

      Both of them were traditions that came out of Research, where people with less than a PhD were hired to be strictly assistants, and everyone took a turn at being the group manager for a couple of years and then went back to real work.


    • They’re reviewing this policy because, they found, it rewards people running off if they can find a better deal somewhere else.

      You know when I complain about how people obviously don’t make the effort to really think through the incentive a law or policy is creating….


      • My experience every single job I’ve had. Excepting the first.

        “Holy cow. This job is great! I can’t believe how dysfunctional my last job was!” followed soon by “Huh… I guess this part is messed up here, kinda… but the healthy parts are so much better than the weird stuff.”

        And then, a few years later, I get a new job and the same thing happens.

        I suppose it’s important for people to learn about new and different pathologies.


  5. L2: I see vast potential for problems far beyond the mere question of compensation. When I get deliveries the procedure consists of a ring of the doorbell and the package left on my front stoop. If during a weekday, the doorbell ring is strictly presumptive. All I know for sure is that the package is on the stoop when I get home. This works just fine. I have never had any problem of packages being stolen. But it obviously does happen. So who gets blamed when some expensive electronics doesn’t make its way to inside the house? If I were an employee being asked to drop the package off, I would absolutely want to know what the procedures are when shrinkage occurs.


    • My mileage varies greatly from week to week.

      Sometimes they knock and if no answer call my phone of record.

      Sometimes they leave it and say they knocked, and I can confirm they didn’t because I was sitting 8 feet away.

      Behavior not correlated at all with shipper, size, weight, or intrinsic value of package.


      • When we were in an apartment I had a terrible time getting UPS to leave a package at my door. I would sign the sticky note left on the door, call them, write pleading letters, whatever. They just wouldn’t do it. At best they would leave it at the rental office, which I could only get to on Saturday, and which didn’t really want a stack of boxes addressed to various tenants. The upshot was that I would only order from vendors willing to ship USPS, who never gave me any trouble.

        Then we bought a townhouse literally less than a thousand feet away from the old apartment. UPS routinely leaves boxes there without being asked. The kicker is that in the apartment the layout was such that only three other apartments would see the box sitting there, while with the house it is on a front stoop in front of God and everybody.

        This clearly is a matter of policy not to leave boxes at apartments. I don’t claim that this is a company-wide policy, but it is (or was) the policy here.


        • Wow. I foolishly decided to take advantage of the free shipping to get our barbecue from home depot.

          I came home to find a ‘we missed you’ note stuck to the door, informing us that for our convenience the package was available for pickup at a store further away than the nearest home depot.

          There followed a month-long back and forth, by the end of which the front and back doors both had multiple of those signed drop-off authorizations stuck to them, and 8×11 sheets of paper with large-print, simple-vocabulary notes in sharpie. The package, when it finally made it to the house, had about half a dozen different labels instructing the driver to drop it off in the yard.

          My wife was home once when a driver came by – they ran up the steps, slapped a “you weren’t home” note on the door alongside all the other signed ones, and had the van in gear before she could run from the kitchen to the front door.


          • It seems remarkable to me that we’ve had two decades to solve this problem and haven’t done it.

            I suspect it’s not unrelated to the fact that it primarily effects the types of people who live in apartments and not the types of people who live in houses. Even so, you’d think that apartment associations would get together and go to the shipping companies with *something*.


            • But dragonfrog’s story makes it clear that this was a house. While there is a sociological element to this, I think the real issue the delivery companies overworking their drivers. The incentive is to perform the quickest possible action, which may be entirely unrelated to actually delivering the package. Hence the bit where the “you weren’t home” note is stuck on the door as the wife tries to flag the driver down.

              I think what is really going on is the delivery companies are set up for deliveries to businesses. The delivery guy rolls the cart of packages into the office, the receptionist signs for them, and he goes on his way. I have never heard of anyone having a problem with this system, which is why many people have personal packages delivered to their office. Compare this with home delivery where the driver pulls up in front of the house, gets the package out of the back. carries it to the front door, rings the bell, waits a reasonable time for a response, then fills out the little note if there is none. From the driver’s perspective this is a ridiculous waste of time. Easier to skip the package entirely and jog up to the door with the note already prepared. Or just leave the package out front, which solves the problem for the driver.

              Which way things go seems to be subject to extremely local variation. I am perfectly happy with finding the package at the door, but in a different neighborhood I would be complaining about it. I suspect that someone in my old apartment building complained and the entire complex was put under the ban.


              • It also works if you live in a building with a doorman or concierge that can take the packages. I only did once in my life. If FedEx/UPS leaves a package at my place it is going to sit on the street and get swooped up. Lee lives in a building with a front desk and he can have all sorts of things dropped off and/or picked up including dry cleaning.

                Daniel Gross at Slate theorized that Amazon is purchasing Whole Foods because it provides a great solution to the mile end problem. You can order whatever you want from Amazon (including Whole Foods groceries now) and pick up the package at one of the 431 Whole Foods across the United States. San Franciscans have at least 6 that they can pick from across the city.


                • How about the tens or hundreds of millions of Americans that don’t live near a Whole Foods? 431 isn’t a lot and I imagine that they are highly concentrated in affluent areas.

                  People who live near a Whole Foods but don’t have a car are also going to find going to Whole Foods for deliveries to be annoying. Laundry detergent is heavy.


                  • Well they aren’t going to end using the Post Office for everyone or even in places near Whole Foods stores but it does give them a handy logistics advantage as well as good storage for food.


                  • Amazon already has scheduled delivery for large/bulky items; expanding that is straightforward on the front end (though not necessarily as much so on the back end).

                    How much are people willing to pay? It’s all trade offs. A person can live in a place where they don’t need a car and don’t have the expense of a doorman or similar that makes outdoor parcel drop-off safe. Seems reasonable if they have to pay for scheduled delivery.


                  • This is just what I was going to observe – I think the nearest Whole Foods to me is like an ninety minute drive one way, some of it through pretty unpleasant traffic.

                    The “online to store” system is great if (a) you have that store near you and (b) the store is reasonably well-stocked/in an area where delivery time to the store is not a big issue.

                    I’ve never done “online to store” – I had the option to do so when I bought a dehumidifier recently, but the “deliver to your nearest Home Depot” claimed it would have taken a day longer than the FREE UPS delivery to my home. And it’s an hour’s round trip to the Home Depot nearest me. In fact, even if I had one in town I’m not sure why I’d do the “pick it up in store” when home delivery is free AND a day faster.


                        • I suspect that when things shake out, what we’ll discover is important is Amazon just purchased a very large refrigerated warehouse (or long-term anchor-tenant lease on such a warehouse) in almost every major metro area in the country. If the Whole Foods retail outlets supplied from those break even, terrific, but the more interesting things will probably involve direct-to-consumer delivery from the warehouses. That’s their business model*, they’re really good at it, and it’s where they’ve been investing.

                          * Arguably even including the e-things side of the business like AWS and streaming.


                • Sounds like we’re almost reaching the levels of service of 18th century London, when one could allegedly get the grocery list to the postbox in time for morning mail pickup, and have the groceries arrive at the door in time to cook them for dinner.

                  I remember watching the scene outside a grocery store in Rio de Janeiro – there was a fleet of bikes like this one, constantly coming and going – people coming from inside the store to load up parked bikes, and riders pulling up, parking their empty bike, hopping on the next full one, and heading out again.


              • Longer than two decades to get this straight, I think. UPS operated for 6 years before acquiring its first motorized delivery vehicle, a Model T Ford.

                My co-workers got to laugh at several one-sided phone conversations in which I reassured an operator at whichever shipping company that I really wouldn’t mind if the barbecue got rained on it its cardboard box, because I was going to discard the box and leave the assembled barbecue outside to get rained on.


            • I don’t think so. I suspect it is a fundamental aspect of human nature.

              My NY office once sent me a check via overnight that was important for a court filing. The check was listed as delivered (and it required a signature) even though it was no where to be seen and my front desk staff don’t recall FedEx delivering it. We called FedEx and their response was “Eh. We delivered it.”

              Turns out to probably went to a different suite on a different floor and I got the check a few days later (someone just dropped it off at the front desk in a rather unceremonious fashion). This was after we canceled the check and the staff sent another one via overnight.

              I’ve also had issues with certified mail not being handled in the proper way when I am using certified mail for a reason.


              • Had this happen once at my old job. Dropped off at such and such a time, signed for by squiggle. Never found out where it went, but it was neither of the other two buildings wothon a quarter mile. We asked.


        • the last apartment I lived in, UPS wouldn’t leave packages because of fear of theft (or that was what they claimed). They told me I could “just drive to the regional center and pick it up” (that was an hour away). Powell’s Books, whom I ordered from heavily in those days, was willing to put a note in my file to “Only ever ship USPS”

          The neighborhood I live in now probably isn’t any safer from theft, but UPS has no problem with leaving stuff. (Then again: I’m usually home for the day by the time UPS dude’s route takes him to this neighborhood).

          AFAIK, nothing has ever gone missing from my front porch. However, several greeting cards I’ve mailed out (like birthday cards) have gone missing in the past year; apparently there are people in the USPS who skim them out and check to see if there’s cash or gift cards in there. (There never were in any of mine, but it’s still annoying to lose a card you mailed out)


  6. L6: What is really amazing is that this guy ended up with a position of responsibility. The company could have cut him a check for a couple thousand dollars and he would have been happy. Make it ten thousand and do that giant check routine in front of his co-workers and we have a feel-good story. For him to end up as a vice president requires a higher-up to have the mental flexibility to move this guy from the “assembly line drone” category to “human being with agency.” This is a rare ability. Kudos!


  7. C3: I read the piece. I found myself wondering what evidence they had that was so good that they brought charges. Remember, Beale is being prosecuted for whatever the legal term is for bearing false witness. So this isn’t a case of “damage her credibility enough to let the accused get off”. No this is prove beyond reasonable doubt that she falsely accused people.

    And if someone does that, they should be prosecuted.

    But the piece gives us no evidence other than the prosecutor saying something about “improbability”. Which is not enough to put someone in jail, to my mind. I mean, they must have some evidence, right?
    So what is it? How did you break this case? Did you think it wouldn’t matter to us?

    Which leaves us with all those photographs. They are non-verbal, so the meaning is whatever you might assign to them in your head. I wonder how many people see that and think, “Well, she’s so ugly nobody would want to rape her”. Of course, that’s not really how it works. We all know that, right?


    • Doctor Jay,
      When a forensic expert takes the stand, and says “This bruising on the face is inconsistent with the testimony on how it was acquired” — this is his way of saying “that’s improbable.”

      There are rape kits. They exist. That someone who has had this string of things happen to her would not be using one?? This is unlikely, given the prior that she has reported earlier rapes to the police.

      They are presumably using the lack of “I went to the doctor and got treatment” as well — if someone talks about a vicious gang rape (I presume, without evidence from the article, with some injuries), and then doesn’t go to the doctor…


      • Did I misread the article in question? I looked through it twice and I didn’t see any mention of forensic experts or bruises. Maybe I missed something. I would have liked to have read about that. All I read was the prosecutor saying the sorts of things prosecutors say.

        I looked at the Fox News article on this story and it was even thinner. Again, no mention of any evidence of any kind. Just the accusation.

        Just to make clear my own purposes, this is a media critique, not a legal system critique. Why do all these media outlets think that the actual evidence is uninteresting as compared to the accusation?


        • Doctor Jay,
          No, the reference to bruises and forensic experts was to something that happened in Pittsburgh right before Obama vs McCain (with someone faking an assault). I know someone involved personally in debunking that, so… it springs to mind.

          As a critique of the media, it stands well, and I shouldn’t disagree with it. I would point out that the completely unnecessary picture of the accused, instead of the actual facts of the situation, makes the media look even worse.


    • One thing I did notice, the QC noted that none of the men were known to the woman in any significant way (it was all Stranger Rape, which is pretty rare to begin with), and all the names of the accused have a (to my eye) middle eastern (or other ethnic sub-group) spelling.

      Like maybe it became obvious this self-described lesbian keeps getting assaulted by members of the local immigrant population, and maybe the physical evidence is really thin, and alibis are solid enough…


      • I think the data point is too bizarre to draw too many conclusions from. I say that as someone very skeptical of the claim that there’s a rape epidemic in this country, on colleges or otherwise (I know the story was the UK).

        Maybe, as you alluded, we could learn something about how British law enforcement is approaching immigrant communities. Even then there weren’t many details of how the accusations played out or how the conviction was obtained.


  8. [G6] both here in Alberta, and in Saskatchewan where i grew up, bars used to be full of a permanent choking fug of smoke. When the provincial governments banned smoking in bars, there was the predictable hand wringing that this would forever cripple bars, everyone would drink at home, etc etc.

    Then… silence. I know nobody, literally nobody, who has expressed a dislike for the ban. And by god i know people who complain about the municipal sewage and water treatment that are the reason they haven’t lost loved ones to dysentery.

    Even smokers like it – they may have to go outside to smoke in winter, but they aren’t coated in a thin film of tar when they leave.


    • df,
      I suppose people in Canada must be blind, then.
      Or, rather, that they don’t know what they should be complaining about.
      Do you know what banning smoking screwed up MOST?

      I’ll give you a second…

      Lighting in bars. Specifically, the lighting that is part and parcel of mating rituals and date finding. So, nu, if people are having trouble finding dates… (because the new unfoggy lighting is less flattering), they can lay that down to bars and lounges missing the smoke.

      But you’re just going to hear people complaining about dates and how hard it is to get one.


    • I remember that debate. The Econ 101 crowd insisted that there could not possibly be a market for smoke-free bars, since if there were they would already exist. Exhibit 1,572 of “We don’t live in an Econ 101 world.”


    • Harrump, G6 link doesn’t work anymore. Personally, I think we can ban smoking in some bars and allow it in in a limited number (through some bidding process). That way both sides can get what they want.

      they may have to go outside to smoke in winter

      This itself is (predictably) becoming less of an option in the US.


      • Unless you consider second hand smoke to be something customers might acceptably be able to opt in to for an hour or two a week, but unacceptable to let any employer require workers expose themselves to for 40 or more hours a week. That was the nature of the bans here – it was *workplaces* where smoking was banned, on the grounds that people are required to spend extended periods there.

        Like, do you consider it closer to drinking – businesses can apply for liquor licenses, whose numbers jurisdictions could cap and offer by bid? Or do you consider it closer to handling asbestos – where we’ve decided the hazards of the stuff outweigh any business’s interest in requiring its employees to take on the risk of handling it if they want employment?

        Somewhere in between you might be able to have smoking pubs be some kind of customer-owned co-op, with a small and capped number of weekly work hours per member.


    • (To clarify, I know lots of people who expressed opinions ranging from concern to dislike right up to distress before the bans were implemented. Within one year of their passage, I know nobody wanting to go back.)


  9. [L2] the thing that strikes me about this proposal is that it cuts against the grain of the conventional wisdom regarding organizational efficiency and division of labor that’s been the thing for what, now 200 years?

    eta – I mean, this isn’t too much off from Great Leap Forward era people making wrought iron in their backyard kilns.


    • the thing that strikes me about this proposal is that it cuts against the grain of the conventional wisdom regarding organizational efficiency and division of labor

      I could see it as a temporary thing in some low-volume locations while the company is deciding on what scale they want to be in the home delivery business.

      The delivery experiments I’m more fascinated by are Amazon’s. Hiring the USPS to do Sunday deliveries (just for them) between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Running their own fleet of jets and vehicles in major metro areas rather than paying UPS. Denver’s in the big leagues now — our sorting center was upgraded to a complete fulfillment center this year, and Prime Now started in much of the metro area yesterday.


      • I think I’ve now seen around my neck of the woods (suburban DC) he USPS people and trucks delivering Amazon stuff on Sundays outside the Xmas holiday season.

        I’m surprised that doesn’t get more attention as a weird mix of a private company using (but paying for) quasi governemental assets.

        (I’m thinking the USPS drivers are paid well enough to not initiate complaints on their end. Because you don’t want to piss off postal workers.) (Though far, far fewer of them are Vietnam vets these days)


        • Btw, because the internet isn’t clear on this – are FedEx and UPS still regulated differently? I wonder if Amazon’s increasing vertical integration will finally shake loose this oolie.


        • Yes. I get packages on Sundays with semi-regularity. I don’t typically see the delivery vehicle, though.

          I also sometimes get packages from people driving Budget vehicles instead of UPS/FedEx/USPS.

          They’re doing some interesting things.


  10. H1 is the kind of story that makes me want to stick my fingers in my ears and go “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

    but yes, the “would it be worth living” question: I once saw a man interviewed who was trying to do this. I had two impressions:

    1. He spent an awful lot of time chopping up mountains of raw cabbage and iceberg lettuce; that seemed to be most of what he ate.

    2. He moved and spoke v. slowly. Reminded me of a turtle. Perhaps that’s a side effect of slowing one’s metabolism, which I presume is the desired effect to get longevity here.

    Also, given the way the world is going now? I doubt I want to live to be 120 or 150 or whatever. I’d rather enjoy cheesecake now and clock out somewhere in my 90s. (Given family history – my mom’s side, the recent generations have lived up into their 90s or cracked 100, my dad’s side they died younger but a lot of them worked in professions or had habits directly linked with earlier risk of cancer, and that was usually what took ’em out.)


  11. L4: This strikes me as good news. They’re clearly getting good results without having anybody in the office, so rather than saying, “Everybody come into the office and use this expensive building,” they’re just eliminating the cost center. If more companies worked like this here in Tech Land, I think it would be a better place.


  12. G3: After republicanism become a subject of individual sovereignty it changed in a very distinct way. History was just the lead up to that point. Classic liberalism was afflicted with the Hobbes sense of importance of government, the breakthrough was the ability to cast that sort of structure aside.

    The leviathan worshippers still persist, liberal democracy ideas continue to rattle over barren terrain.


  13. [C1]
    Well, that’s a problem. If mass imprisonment isn’t linked to the war on drugs, then things just got a lot harder. Letting people out will (and maybe should) be viewed as inflicting more violence on minority communities.

    Yet another example of (crazy) people taking things seriously when we expect them to not do so.


    • Letting people out will (and maybe should) be viewed as inflicting more violence on minority communities.

      True, but the answer isn’t “lock them up longer”, it’s rehab them so they can peacefully reintegrate into society. But no one wants to do that, because it’s seen as coddling prisoners. And then those same people complain that prison is just teaching criminals how to be better criminals.


      • True, but the answer isn’t “lock them up longer”, it’s rehab them so they can peacefully reintegrate into society.

        Yes, that’s the perfect answer. But assuming an imperfect solution; Is mass incarceration so bad that releasing violent prisoners without successful rehab won’t be worse?

        And I’m asking the question because I don’t know the answer. I could argue it either way.


        • It’s pretty context dependent & nuanced, which is not something our DOC system is terribly interested in.

          When I think about corrections, it’s pretty obvious we have all the incentives turned around. Prosecutors should get rewarded for seeking justice, not convictions. Corrections should be rewarded for rehabilitation, not incarceration. But developing metrics for those things are hard, and no one seems interested because being tough on criminals is more politically valuable than seeking justice or reducing recidivism.

          (Ergo, I don’t blame DAs and Wardens alone, they are responding to the incentives the public is offering them)


          • When I think about corrections, it’s pretty obvious we have all the incentives turned around.

            That sounds right. How have other countries avoided this? The adversary system is pretty widespread, as are self interested politicians.


            • Not all other countries have. A few have embraced a truly rehabilitative approach (re: Norway), I think most just choose to reserve lock-up for the most violent or most repetitive offenders, and use fines and community service for everything else.


  14. Amazon is purchasing Whole Foods.

    My guess is that this is about storage for their food delivery business and infrastructure


    • Saul,
      This isn’t the impression I get, and I talk to people whose polling is a lot better than 8,000 folks for six years.
      They had you polled too (and Hanley, for that matter).


    • Nobody wants to talk about his findings because he is black.

      “Black political science professor says X is due to racism. Film at 11.”

      But the result is probably correct, although not because of racism.

      What were voters seeing in the year or so prior to the election?

      Well, we saw massive, unchecked waves of illegal immigrants pouring across the border and getting bused to cities all over the US by our immigration officers. Many of the immigrants had diseases we’d long been rid of, so we started having outbreaks of measles and all kinds of things. Then during the campaign we saw violent rioters waving Mexican flags, attacking Trump voters, and destroying police cars.

      We saw a Muslim in Orlando walk into a gay night club and murder fifty people. We saw devastating attacks in Paris, Nice, and other European cities that had taken in waves of Muslim refugees, and we saw Obama and Hillary insisting that we would take in hundreds of thousands – without really vetting them.

      We saw a string of violent race riots in Missouri, Maryland, and other cities, along with the slaughter of policemen in Texas by a race obsessed black man, and we saw constant marches filled with angry protesters issuing lists of demands. We saw a Department of Justice that was siding with lawlessness.

      And we saw a Democrat party that was bending over backwards to not only not address any of these problems, but promising to make them much much worse.

      Was their a backlash? You betcha!


      • CDC reminds you that Mailing Chicken Pox Lollies is a Federal Offense.
        CDC also wants to remind you that those were Native Born Appalachians doing this stupidity.

        George, The Deporter In Chief title still goes to Obama. Trump hasn’t even come close to sending so many home.


    • No one wants to talk about it because the good Professor still needs to explain why the “racist” vote went for Obama twice before switching to Trump.

      My expectation is all of the “racist” vote goes for the GOP normally and would/should be subtracted out as a “party line” group that doesn’t actually influence the election. I.e. “racist” voters are not also “swing” voters.


      • Trayvon Martin happened in 2013. Obama spoke a lot more about issues related to black kids being shot by non-black people after that. Before that, a lot of Obama/Trump voters could tell themselves he was one of the “good ones.”

        Also, I’d also point that Obama’s original “honeymoon” ended when he dared to defend a black Harvard’s professor when he was being harassed by the local cops for trying to get in his own home.


        • I always wonder why Obama didn’t bother to talk about all the black kids that kill other black kids every day. As for Gates, he should have let the cop do his job and figure out what was going on at the scene.


          • You don’t “wonder” about any such thing. You just assumed he never mentioned it. And unsurprisingly, you assumed wrong.

            And your bullshit about Skip Gates plays extremely badly today. Today, any question that the cop who murdered Philando Castillo will get away with it was dispelled. It was proven again that there is, in fact, nothing a black person can do that will make them safe in the presence of a police officer.


        • Trayvon Martin happened in 2013. Obama spoke a lot more about issues related to black kids being shot by non-black people after that.

          Trayvon Martin died on February 26, 2012, and yes, Obama did speak out, and then in November of 2012, those darn “racists” voted for Obama again.

          And then 4 years later, in an act of racism, they didn’t vote for HRC. Because the only way to not be a racist is to vote for the Democrat, no matter how openly corrupt she is.

          The GOP could have run a Hispanic and it STILL would have been an act of racism to vote for him over HRC.


  15. Michele Carter, the texting suicide girlfriend, was convicted of manslaughter for failing to act. This strikes me as incredibly bad precedent. Michele Carter’s behavior was callous but its not the type that warrants a manslaughter conviction. She shouldn’t have been indicted in the first place.


    • I think she went WAY past “callous”.

      In response to a text from Roy saying he was ready to follow through with his plan, Carter allegedly texted, according to the documents, “Good because it’s time, babe. You know that. When you get back from the beach you’ve gotta do it. You’re ready. You’re determined. It’s the best time to do it.”

      The documents allege that Carter stayed on the phone with Roy for more than an hour while carbon monoxide filled the car.

      After Roy died, the documents state, Carter allegedly texted her friend, “His death is my fault. Like, I honestly could have stopped it. I was the one on the phone with him and he got out of the car because [the carbon monoxide] was working and I … told him to get back in.”


      • When I first heard of this case about a week ago, I thought as Lee does. Then I read some of the reporting on it and that reporting largely is consistent with what you relate. If those facts are true and if there are no other relevant developments that aren’t being reported, then I’m inclined to agree that she should be guilty.

        Those are big “if’s.” I’m wary of how the media reports such things, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have the facts.


    • Michele Carter’s behavior was callous but its not the type that warrants a manslaughter conviction. She shouldn’t have been indicted in the first place.

      The question is what crime, if any, should she have been charged with. Given that the textual evidence (heh) makes her intentions crystal clear involuntary manslaughter seems wildly inappropriate in this case.


      • My wife’s take was kind of interesting. She viewed it almost entirely as a question of whether the victim should be considered competent and whether she should have considered him as such. If he was not, and she should have considered him not, then guilty. If competent or if she viewed him as such, then not guilty. And in the health care system in this country, suicidal is *usually* considered not-competent barring some special circumstance, so she leans towards guilty.


        • Prosecutor said to ignore everything that happened before and focus only on the part where the guy stumbled, half poisoned, out of the car and she talked him into going back.

          I’d think someone half out of it with CO poisoning is “incompetent” so maybe that plays a part.


        • I think I agree with your wife.

          And even if the young woman wasn’t *legally* guilty, she was sure as heck *morally* guilty. The whole concept of the thing repulsed me – having watched friends go through treatment after having had suicidal ideation.


      • I’ve seen a number of lawyerly types suggest that other states would have had more appropriate laws to charge her under, but MA didn’t, so they wound up going with involuntary manslaughter even though it didn’t really fit.

        As much as I think she deserved to go down for something, that’s not how things should work.


  16. [C4] I suspect is making a mistake of underestimating all the effects of the drug war.

    It notes that most inmates “most serious” offence is not a drug offence (I’m assuming it’s stacking them ‘violent’ topmost, then ‘property’ then ‘drug’). It does not address:

    – how many of the property offences were committed in order to buy the drugs whose use, cost, and addictiveness are partly fuelled by the same war on drugs

    – how many of the violent offences were committed in circumstances arising from the drug war’s necessary linking of drug sales to criminal gangs.

    – how many of the inmates’ are in on worse convictions, after a first imprisonment for drugs that resulted in their becoming both “unemployable” and entangled with worse criminals

    I do agree that the US is now sufficiently mired in over-incarceration that just shutting down the war on drugs isn’t going to be enough to get it out. The incarceration sector of the economy is as big as it is, and it’s not going down without a fight. Prison operators, prison guards’ unions, police – they’re going to fight back. Within the context of efforts to reduce over-incarceration, they’ll to need to be addressed as the enemy, even as they are allies in other efforts.


  17. [C1] – We’l always be a much more violent nation that requires locking up a lot of people than other First World nations as long as we’re a nation that continues to fetishize and glorify guns and gun culture.


  18. C1 [drug war not responsible for mass incarceration]: Well, this is certainly inconvenient for me and my desire to end the drug war.

    I do wonder–and by “wonder,” I mean I advance this as a hypothesis but don’t really know–whether much of the violence is fueled by the illegality of the drug trade. Making drugs more illegal ratchets up the price and makes drug dealing bigger business and a higher stakes game than it might have been. That, in turn, might ratchet up the violence and indirectly fuel incarceration for violent offenders.

    There’s a lot hoops that have to be jumped to prove that argument, and it likely will never be proven in full. The right answer may very well be along the lines of, “there’s some truth to it, but it still doesn’t explain most of the mass incarceration.” And again, I’m probably primed to want to believe that argument even though I may be wrong.


    • Ehhh.. not so much. It’s not so much saying that the drug war isn’t responsible for mass incarceration so much as the data keeping is really bad so we can’t say for sure IF the drug war is responsible for mass incarceration or not.


      • It’s not so much saying that the drug war isn’t responsible for mass incarceration so much as the data keeping is really bad so we can’t say for sure IF the drug war is responsible for mass incarceration or not.

        A grim possibility is mass incarceration is a response to cultural changes that were created by the war on drugs. So after we end the war on drugs, it might take multiple generations for culture to change again.

        How long did it take for Prohibition’s criminals to lose power after it ended?


        • You could be entirely right, I’m certainly highly inclined to agree. As I read it, though, the article was mainly a declaration of defining what is unknown rather than staking out a position regarding that. In that it was both disillusioning, discouraging and useful.


    • “I do wonder–and by “wonder,” I mean I advance this as a hypothesis but don’t really know–whether much of the violence is fueled by the illegality of the drug trade.”

      That’s a really useful question. If someone robs a 7-11 to get money for drugs, is that a drug crime or a violent crime? If two dealers shoot each other, is that a drug crime or a violent crime?


  19. [C1] From Xenocrypt’s column: “Pfaff thinks it shows that mass incarceration was driven by prosecutors becoming more aggressive and more willing to file charges, which is certainly possible but not necessarily the only possibility?—?maybe arrests fell because police started focusing more on offenders who were somehow more serious.”

    But maybe both are true. Maybe prosecutors got more aggressive because arrests went down. If everyone coming into the dock is Definitely A Serious Criminal (as opposed to some kid who got busted for dealing and is going to plead down to simple possession and be out of jail very nearly before you sit down to dinner) then you’re more likely to treat them with the seriousness they warrant.


    I’ll also say that twenty percent of all offenders is hardly something I’d describe with “only”. Twenty percent of the current rate is a number that’s higher than the total rate was before the increase started.


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