Linky Friday: Blood Money


Mandalay Bay photo

Image by TDelCoro Linky Friday: Blood Money

[Cr1] I’ve been listening to the John Sanford “Prey” series, all of which involve serial killers. One of the premises of the books are that serial killers are actually more common than we think, we just don’t link them. Maybe computers can!

[Cr2] Plot, counterplot.

[Cr3] Right on Crime, a pro-reform conservative outfit, points to the failures of Ban The Box.

[Cr4] Matt Walsh looks at all the things we still don’t know about the Vegas attacks.

[Cr5] Maybe their suspicions weren’t entirely misplaced.

[Cr6] A judge applauds a killer.

Business & Labor:

delivery drones photo

Image by Linky Friday: Blood Money

[BL1] Revolution! Hamilton Nolan wants to make life tougher for the rich, and not entirely by way of political action (which they can evade anyway).

[BL2] Debt collectors in the US can be pretty nasty, but take a look at China. [NYT]

[BL3] San Francisco says no to delivery drones.

[BL4] Down with tipping culture!

[BL5] Amazon is trying to get humans and robots to work together.

[BL6] If it looks like nothing can ever change with regard to workplace sexual harassment, progress was made in an unlikely sector.

[BL7] A report on the end of retirement.


tcu football photo

Image by Vironevaeh Linky Friday: Blood Money

[Sp1] Maybe a reason that colleges spend so much money on athletics program is that it attracts students. “[FAU head coach] Kiffin’s impact has transcended football. Kelly told ESPN earlier this month that FAU’s out-of-state applications for the 2018 fall semester were up 35 percent.”

[Sp2] Nothing says Alt-Right like Merry Christmas and watching the Army-Navy game.

[Sp3] Well, this looks kind of suspicious.

[Sp4] Ana Marie Cox writes about how she became a TCU football fan. It involves her relationship with dad.

[Sp5] In the middle of a celebratory parade, an Astros coach nearly died.

[Sp6] David Bixenspan argues that Vince McMahon has been making a more GOP-oriented product for years. What’s interesting is that defying some stereotypes, wrestling has among the leftier of fan-bases.

[Sp7] Relatedly, a look at wrestling documentaries. Two of the ones I’ve seen, the Ric Flair 30 for 30 and Beyond the Mat which spent a lot of time on the fate of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, were insanely depressingly. I have the ethical problem with wrestling that a lot of people do with football, where I think there is more the WWE could do than the NFL can.

[Sp8] R-S-T-L-N-E… or not.


snow plow photo

Image by Robbie1 Linky Friday: Blood Money

[X1] A first-person account of being a freelance Amazon delivery person. Reminds me of my stint of delivering flowers, except he probably never got stiffed like I did.

[X2] Snow, snow, everywhere, but not a plower to plow in Maine.

[X3] Eric T Styles writes about his stint as a first black Tiny Tim.

[X4] Matt Lewis gives lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life.

[X5] This is why nobody likes you doctors.

[X6] Just because you win doesn’t mean you won’t get left with coal.


Linky Friday: Blood Money

Image by dmsumon Linky Friday: Blood Money

[Sc1] Learning from rockets about volcanoes. A new volcano may be forming in New England… eventually. We need to figure out a way to redirect this volcanic energy to the Pacific and see if we can create a new continent.

[Sc2] Bringing glowing Avatar plants to life.

[Sc3] The good news is that science can finally give you a new head of hair. The bad news is that they may need to replace your scalp first.

[Sc4] We had some scientific breakthroughs five years ago. How did they hold up?

[Sc5] Some scientists never got their due.

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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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133 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Blood Money

  1. Cr1: He is a short emaciated man good at algorithms, it is a collection of circuits to process said algorithms. Together they fight crime.

    Cr2: Whenever I encounter stories like this, I wonder what percentage of the population consists of people like those described in these stories. They seem to be distressingly more common than we want. People who act mainly on impulse without regard to anything else.

    Cr6: America represents the downside of taking discretion away from judges, the United Kingdom the downside of giving judges too much discretion. Even if you want to excuse the assisted suicide, at least convict for the theft offenses. I’m generally leaning towards allowing suicide but not in a free for all manner.

    BL1: Of course Hamilton Nolan is stupid enough to argue for the return of Propaganda of the Deed. It didn’t work in the 19th century and early 20th century and it won’t work today. There is a school of thought that believes only a super-big destructive disaster or war can really level income inequality because as the second link demonstrates, the wealthy are very good at immunity to normal politics. If income inequality does have coercive effects on society than this really sucks.

    BL2: Damn it, I thought debt collection in China would involve fancy king fu fighting and flips.

    BL7: Retirement seems to have lost luster for the Baby Boom generation. Many can’t afford it. Those that can afford to retire are really into whatever their doing and don’t want to retire. This creates a celling on positions available for younger people and creates more frustration.

    X5: The Doctors would argue back that it is too easy for humans to indulge themselves these days and therefore binging on holidays is no longer necessary. People eat and drink too much on ordinary days to.


    • Cr6: I didn’t realize the UK gave judges that much discretion. From my wikipedia research, it appears this was a criminal killing, but official prosecutor guidelines state that it may not be in the public interest to charge these types of offenses if the victim had reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide; and that the suspect was wholly motivated by compassion. It would appear that the judge wore three hats, abdicating the responsibilities of the legislature and the executive.

      I personally don’t like any of what I read; it appears to be a trap for the less well-informed to mistakenly think that they have clear evidence of consent, that the prosecutor’s guidance is binding and unalterable, or that the judge assigned to your case will follow this judge’s example in believing “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”


  2. Cr1: Ugh. No. I think one of the worst things in entertainment media is that it is filled with stories about how there are lots of secret psychopaths and serial killers out there. I think this has a corrosive effect on society and makes people enact stupid policies towards crime.

    Cr5: This was a horrible and depressing story.

    Br1: I think Lee is basically right about the stupidity of Hamilton Nolan but I’ve been thinking about wealth discrepancies lately of the kind Hamilton Nolan mentions in the article. I’ve just come back from my third trip to Singapore to visit my girlfriend’s family. This year, we also spent a few days in Malaysia for a wedding of friends. The bride’s family is seemingly very well to do. They live in a luxury condo on a golf course but it is a compound under fairly high security measures and I think that they need to live that way to be safe. As far as I can tell from my brief visit, almost every decent housing compound in Malaysia has high security. I wouldn’t want to live that way. Singapore is relatively or much more equal economically and a lot safer. Same with the United States. I’m not as far to the left as Hamilton Nolan on these issues but I can’t understand why anyone would be okay with living in a country where being relatively wealthy requires living under armed security. Isn’t it much better to live in a place where you can walk around and not have to worry about being the victim of crime? Or you can live in a good house that is not under heavy security 24/7?

    BL7: Stories like this make me think that mid-20th century economics was a vast exception to a rule and we are know returning to the typical norm where people work until they literally cannot. I don’t know if US society is equipped for this. One of the things that makes things relatively easier in other cultures is that they have few or zero taboos against intergenerational living even if you are doing well. My girlfriend got a brass ring job after university and she lived at home until she went to business school. In America, this would get you labeled as a weirdo freak especially if you have a good job. In many Asian cultures, it is entirely normal and has no stigma. The same thing is true for older people, they are expected to live on their own and maybe want to instead of moving in with their children.


    • Singapore is relatively or much more equal economically and a lot safer. Same with the United States.

      Much safer, yes, although Singapore’s just about the safest country in the world, but Malaysia’s homicide rate is down in European territory. It also has only marginally higher income inequality than Singapore.

      I’m not as far to the left as Hamilton Nolan on these issues but I can’t understand why anyone would be okay with living in a country where being relatively wealthy requires living under armed security. Isn’t it much better to live in a place where you can walk around and not have to worry about being the victim of crime? Or you can live in a good house that is not under heavy security 24/7?

      Are you suggesting a causal connection here, or are you just saying that rich Malaysians should move?


  3. Cr1: The take away should not be, “Ohhh, scary serial killers!”, it should be, “Local PDs are often insular, and unwilling to share, nor acknowledge realities.


    • Really though, why do we tolerate PDs not sharing information with federal databases? I’m fine with letting every little podunk do it’s own thing, as long as they upload required data to the FBI. They don’t want to? Fine, no more federal dollars, or surplus military equipment, or asset forfeiture sharing, etc.


      • “Uploading the data” is a lot more complex than you’d think. I just spent the past few years trying to sell a solution to network together and search the heterogeneous systems across local PDs and it’s an unholy mess.

        My takeaways were:

        1) You can’t make money doing business with local police departments. They don’t get anything done.
        2) They express great interest in data sharing and get right to the edge of it, but they’re always “too busy” to finalize the paperwork and approve the new systems. Papers sit on peoples’ desks forever.
        3) Their databases are garbage. Their computers are garbage. Their IT is a mess. But half of them managed to fill out the paperwork to get an MRAP and find the budget to maintain it and drive it around.

        The whole experience made me want to take up a life of crime. As long as catching me would require them to do anything at all that’s not part of their daily routine, I’d be fine.


        • At times I wonder just how many of our problems are, at the core, because government agencies can’t properly communicate, because government employees are not actually interested in communicating with each other.

          Still, cut off the federal grants and 1033 access and the PDs will figure out how to make it happen in short order.


      • Its more like a hostage scene:
        “Give me what I want or I will kill the hostage!”

        “OK, what do you want?”

        “To kill the hostage.”

        The goal of the Trump base is a return to a world where women and minorities are subservient to white men. As I mentioned before, there isn’t really any coherent policy goal other than this. Every goal which is articulated, is in furtherance to this.


          • I recall reading how the framers of the Declaration of Independence deliberately phrased it as “self evident truths” about “inalienable rights”.

            They framed it in terms that tolerated no negotiation or compromise. Their dispute was not meant to be a haggling over the tax rate on tea or tolerance for churches other than the Church of England.

            Their goal was to be recognized as fully equal beings with the King of England.

            Your question isn’t really aimed at Chip Daniels, middle aged Christian het-cis white guy.
            Your question is more properly aimed at black people, women, gays, everyone left outside the barriers of a Trump rally.

            How much of their human dignity and human rights are they willing to negotiate away?
            And why would you even ask that of them?


              • My goal?
                Expansion of voting rights. Strengthening of Medicare and Social Security, perhaps even a UBI. An end to predatory fines and bail. Greater enforcement of police behavior.

                And the acceptable cost?

                I’m not even sure how to answer that. Between something as trifling as paying higher taxes, all the way up to violent civil war I suppose.
                The reason I can’t answer that is that this is not something Chip can game out in isolation.

                When we look back on violent rebellions, their actual policy demands usually sound reasonable and unworthy of bloodshed.
                The Yemen civil war, and Arab Spring, arose from a single street vendor whose cart was confiscated.
                The Watts riots were ignited by a single traffic stop.

                But these trigger events, and the resulting policy demands are driven by the underlying sense of alienation and disrespect.

                What would it take for minorities or the poor to lay aside politics and take up violence, and what would it take for me to join or oppose them?

                I don’t know in advance.

                As I mentioned in my comment about the Boomer’s retirement prospects, at some point an army of impoverished elderly people may have a trigger event, maybe a raid on a homeless encampment, or starvation death of an old man, which will cause Social Security and Medicare to change from being something we can discuss calmly, to something we kill people over.

                Really, half of this is up to Republicans to answer. How badly do they want to cut Social Security, and what cost are they willing to suffer?


                • And the acceptable cost?… I’m not even sure how to answer that.

                  As a thought experiment, what policies that the other side wants would you exchange? Just as an example for discussion, would you accept, in exchange for stronger Social Security and Medicare, a national ID card and laws with teeth that required such a card in order to hold a job?


                  • would you accept, in exchange for stronger Social Security and Medicare, a national ID card and laws with teeth that required such a card in order to hold a job?

                    As an aside, what’s with the huge fetishism in the USA (and the UK) about National ID cards?

                    Most countries have them (being the multinational polyglot elitist I am I have, not one, but two), they are fairly useful, for instance, it cuts the risk of identity theft if I have to show my ID card to open a credit card account. And, unlike in your paranoid fears, no one really stops you in the street and asks “papers, please”

                    Hey, I’m fine having a National ID Card in exchange of protecting the Spotted Owl.


                    • Two or three generations of Hollywood using “Papers, please!” as a symbol for the bad guys. General mistrust of the police in practice.

                      At some level, for some people, a sane national ID program (where there is essentially unlimited assistance in making sure that people who are eligible get one) makes voter suppression impossible.

                      Me, I think I’ll live long enough to see the US get one, when both sides agree that they want a (different for the two sides) subset of the consequences badly enough.


      • Even though you are doing your dada thing, which you do you, I think opposition is the only path.

        Trump keeps no promises. He never has and never will. Dealing with him is a corrupting and toxic force. If the Democratic Party were to try and deal, they would end up like all those contractors who thought they were hitting a gold mine and ended up in bankruptcy.


              • FTR, I’m not saying the Democrats should cooperate with Trump (I think it depends on what we’re talking about, but the answer will usually be ‘no’ until they have a majority and a lot of leverage.

                Just saying that the results of McConnellism are mixed and it’s hard to get the upsides without the downsides. “We’re not them so we won’t run into what they ran into” doesn’t work when you adopt their game plan.


                • Yeah, agreed. that’s what I think as well. The Dems shouldn’t play ball until after the midterms, and only then if they regain the House and have leverage to get substantive concessions from Trump rather than tokens. The practical constraint here isn’t Trump, seems to me, but McConnell, who won’t want to play ball at all unless Trump gets involved.


                • The two parties are not symmetrical, though.

                  The Democrats have actual policy goals shared with their base.
                  The Republicans don’t.

                  There really isn’t anything the Trump base wants in terms of legislation, which is why they suffer no consequences for inaction.
                  The Wall and Muslim Ban are just shared hate-signaling, and I believe they know damn well on some level, that those coal jobs are never coming back.

                  They are happy to see the tree huggers and hippies get punched, but it doesn’t particularly matter how. The Secretary of the Interior could just take a photo op of himself roasting a spotted owl and consider his agenda accomplished. They could be pacified with a law banning NFL players from kneeling.

                  Whereas, single payer, DACA, or a UBI and student loan debt relief are very real and achievable goals, which could easily be enacted with a Dem majority.


                  • I think DACA is in the cards, and some student debt relief, but the others will be watered down quite a bit. Except that if we have four years of primal screams, watered down won’t be enough. If it’s single payer or bust, the only hope is to give them something called single payer that isn’t.

                    Is the Democrats treat their base like the Republicans treat theirs, the outcome won’t be totally different.


                    • If it’s single payer or bust, the only hope is to give them something called single payer that isn’t.

                      The last time single payer was pushed a few Senators publicly backtracked from the language the next day. So some of them are paying attention to the downside risk. I totally agree with you that Dems need to *not* oversell what they have no chance of delivering.


                          • My general sense is that Democratic voters are to the left of their politicians on economic issues and to their right on social issues. David Shor (Civis analyst, well to the left of most of OT if that matters) actually argues that the average Democratic politician is pretty well to the left of the average Democratic voter and has cited economic issues specifically.

                            So I dunno.

                            I still look at the average Democratic politician and don’t see 50 votes for health care once the specifics are announced and the opposition is revved up. I wrote an entire post on this so I won’t rehash, but nothing that has happened since changes my views here.


                              • My “evidence” is only anecdotal and impressionistic, but from my observations of Big City, a lot of people here seem to vote Democratic but for religious reasons are pro-life and ambivalent-about-gay rights. In both cases, it seems linked with their religious beliefs (Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical) and membership in racial/ethnic groups that see themselves as distinct from the mainstream (white ethnics, Latinos, and African Americans).

                                Now, it’s not set in stone and again, my evidence is only impressionistic. And I don’t mean to paint them all with one brush. And things like ssm seem to have much less pushback than my impressionistic observation might expect. But I see a social-conservative leaning trend.

                                By the way, I accidentally “reported” your comment. I in no way meant to and am sorry about it.


                                • I understand where you’re coming from. To offer the contrasting viewpoint I’d highlight SSM and gay rights in general. The Dems were in a very defensive crouch on gay matters basically from DADT on and stayed basically in the “not for SSM but opposed to anything that would block SSM”* posture right up until the public began A) passing affirmatively SSM laws directly and B) began winning big time in the courts on SSM (and the Supreme court itself seemed to be looking really hard at public opinion on SSM when they decided Obergefell).

                                  I mean we’ve seen what it looks like when the courts get to the left of the public: Roe v. Wade. Obergefell hasn’t shaken out to anything remotely like it no matter how much Rod clutched his pearls and screams about wedding cakes**.

                                  *which, I’ll note, a minority of leftier gays excoriate them for whereas the vast majority of gays recognize the enormous value that posture yielded us.
                                  **Though if the SSM/quiltbag crew go after religious institutions next I’d be jumping off that train. I just don’t think they’re going to do it.


                                    • Huh, then I’m really confused.
                                      The Dem politicians say “oh no, I’m not in favor of SSM, I believe gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.” But they block any legislative actions to enshrine that position in law as discrimination against gay people. How on earth would that put them to the -left- of the Dem voters who then through ballot initiatives and court cases affirmatively establish SSM?


                                      • North: The Dem politicians say “oh no, I’m not in favor of SSM, I believe gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

                                        Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always believed that gay marriage should be between two people of the same sex.


                                      • I see your point better now. Here’s my response: The Dem politicians probably really wanted to legalize ssm but knew/believed doing so would cost them too many votes from socially conservative people who would otherwise vote Democratic.

                                        Even to me, that sounds like too much an ad hoc explanation and grasping at straws/moving the goal posts on my part. It also sounds like I’m claiming to read the politicians’ minds and secret thoughts, which of course I cannot do.

                                        However, I do think there’s at least some evidence to demonstrate the Dem base was more conservative on the issue than the politicians. If you look at this Wikipedia datum, only one state enabled ssm through popular vote. (To me that seems low, and I seem to remember more states doing so… maybe Wikipedia isn’t always right?).

                                        The rest, before Obergefell, were enabled either through state legislatures or through court cases. When it comes to state legislatures, it seems clear (to me) that the Dem base either approved of ssm already (which would support your argument) or that those who did oppose it didn’t oppose it so much as to be an issue on which the Dems would stand to lose (which might support my argument, but again, I’ll forgive you if you think I’m grasping at straws, and in the end it could support your argument because if they’re opposed but not really that much, then maybe we can say they didn’t really oppose it).

                                        When it comes to court cases, it’s hard to decipher how much they reflect popular (or at least popular among the Dem base) attitudes. As you know, courts often forbear making decisions when the public “isn’t ready” for them, and so the cases from that Massachusetts case on to Obergefell might very well substantiate what I take to be your view that the Dem base was either to the left of or in tune with Dem politicians. But court cases are also non-majoritarian mechanisms, one effect of which can be to check the majority’s wishes. Just because court cases gradually legalized ssm doesn’t mean that the Dem base supported them.

                                        Finally, I have to acknowledge I’m being clumsy with my terms. I talk about the “majority,” but that of course includes non-Dems as well as Dems and Dem-leaning people as well as members of the “Dem base.” I also haven’t defined “Dem base.” I suppose that would refer to the people who always vote Dem and who make a point to vote in the primaries. Maybe if we looked more closely at primaries, etc., we might find your argument stronger and mine weaker.


                            • How does the jibe with the analysis that many politicians (in both parties) think that voters are more conservative than they really are?

                              I suppose Democratic politicians could be to the left of their base and still overestimating how conservative their base is.

                              There are socially conservative Democrats but I don’t think they are quite to the levels of the Christian Right. Far from it.


                              • When Shor talks I listen, but he hasn’t talked enough about it to really commit. On social issues, they may not be consistently conservative but have conservative views here and there (abortion, affirmative action, etc) and it doesn’t take much to be to the right of the Democrats on social issues generally these days.

                                By and large, I think our political class and media and those with a voice generally are more economically conservative and socially liberal in aggregate than the voters in aggregate. Platformed Republicans are more EC/SL than general Republicans, Platformed Democrats are more EC/SL than general Democrats, and so on.


                            • Based on my experience with state legislatures, I stand by my usual statement that any state legislature as a whole will be more conservative than that state’s voters as a whole. I don’t attribute this to evil intent, but simply that as a consequence of the constraints on who can run in practice, the legislature will be older, whiter, richer, and more male (I draw the line at “maler”) than the average voter.

                              Small business owners (including partners, etc) will be grossly over-represented. Hourly wage slaves will be grossly under-represented.


                          • Socialism is like Obamacare; The thing everyone loves, so long as we call it something else.

                            I sit here in my rent controlled apartment writing this with socialized electricity, drinking socialized water, eating a sandwich made possible by regulated agricultural cartels, subsidies and price controls.
                            Later I may go out for a ride on a socialized bicycle on socialized streets to the socialized park, and see if there is a socialized concert this weekend.

                            America has socialized health care for elderly and veterans, along with and a rudimentary UBI in the form of Social Security, the EITC and SSDI, disability and unemployment insurance.

                            And the only way the Republicans can get elected is to lie and promise not to want to change any of this.


                            • A few years ago my Rush-listening, socialism-hating father-in-law went on a long rant about Obamacare being too socialist for his tastes and ended by asking me, sorta accusingly, why Americans couldn’t have healthcare like the VA provides. Or Medicare. A person can’t get that confused all on their own. It takes help from others.


                            • Socialism is like Obamacare; The thing everyone loves, so long as we call it something else.

                              True. Free money is popular. Getting other people to pay for our stuff is popular.

                              The problem is the whole “running out of other people’s money” flaw. Socialism well deserves it’s rep.


                          • Stillwater: A plurality of Republicans (45 percent) told Gallup that upper-income Americans don’t pay enough in taxes

                            This probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. There’s a widespread myth that the rich pay little to nothing in taxes. Now, it’s theoretically possible that every single Republican answering the question that way has a good idea of current effective tax rates as a function of income, in the same way that communism works in theory, i.e. only if your theory is garbage.

                            More likely, most of them just bought into the myth that rich people pay little to nothing in taxes, and are thinking something along the lines of, “They should be paying at least a quarter of their incomes.”

                            Note that further down in the Post story you linked it mentions another study in which only 26% of Republicans agreed that people making more than $1,000,000 per year should pay an effective rate of 30%.

                            Polls that ask people whether the rich should pay more or less in taxes are pretty much worthless, because the vast majority of people have no idea what the status quo is.


                  • I might phrase it somewhat differently, based on my local experience.

                    Democrats tend to care about policy at a high level: single payer, UBI, relief on trillions of dollars of student debt.

                    Republicans tend to care about policy at specific low levels: western farmers dependent on irrigation about the EPA’s definition of “waters of the United States”, or hunters about narrow specifics of Interior’s federal land use policy.

                    If the Dems win control of both the House and Senate next November, I expect that the Republicans will ax the filibuster and spend six weeks getting rid of thousands of low-level regulations, then trust to President Trump to stop the Dems from restoring them for two years.


                    • I doubt that for three reasons:
                      -Demented as they are the GOP still understands the filibuster serves their causes far more than it limits it.
                      -The GOP Senators, at least a few of them, ain’t gonna sign on for that kind of diminution of their individual power.
                      -Also the GOP has absolutely no idea what Trump would do with a Dem majority in both houses and without the filibuster they’d have absolutely no control over the outcome.


                      • They know in 2021 there’s a good chance they lose everything for a little while. Unless they are 100% positive the Democrats are going to blow it up then, it’s not worth it.

                        Also their going to be really busy approving every single nominee they can, and they don’t need to kill the filibuster for that because it’s already dead.

                        Lastly, if they had that kind of discipline, they would have passed a lot more than they presently have.


                        • The GOP has historic discipline for obstruction. Remember that Collins was virtually tied up in a closet during the ACA to prevent her from contributing.

                          I, myself, wouldn’t weep bitter tears to see the filibuster go for the same reason I don’t think the GOP is (even now) idiotic enough to wipe it out.


              • Among the other reasons that it led to difficulty was that, as none of what they were passing was going to ever become law, almost none of it was being scored and what little scoring that was done wasn’t publicized. I am curious, said curiosity never going to be satisfied, just how many of the Republican Congress critters were surprised in 2017 by the scoring of the earliest versions of repeal that said ~20M people would lose insurance, or surprised to learn from polling that the voters in general hated that idea.


            • Worked quite well for him.

              That thing where Republicans wrote a “repeal Obamacare” bill every other week and sent it up and Obama vetoed it? That was sweet.

              I recommend that the Democrats try “Medicaid For All!” and send that up to Trump every week.


              • Worked quite well for him.

                Exactly. The issue is whether Dems think their electoral fortunes increase by cooperating with the GOP. My own guess is that they won’t be rewarded, will probably be punished, and that the GOP would gain another “win” to rally their own voters to the polls. But that’s obviously just a guess.


                • There’s no shortage of bills they could send up to Trump every week for him to veto… and no shortage of promises that they could make for these vetoed bills.

                  “This bill will address global warming, save the lives of 100,000 Americans every year, and increase the literacy rates of our neediest children.”

                  And then Trump can veto it. For the seventh time this year.

                  That’s something that they could totally run on.

                  Why does Trump not want to address global warming, save the lives of 100,000 Americans, or increase literacy?


                  • There’s no shortage of bills they could send up to Trump every week for him to veto… and no shortage of promises that they could make for these vetoed bills.

                    They control neither the House nor the Senate, so they not only can’t send any to Trump, they can’t even get them to the floor.


                    • And also, chest-thumping bills is easily the most self-damaging thing the GOP did in terms of sabotaging their ability to get stuff passed.

                      If Democrats vote 36 times for single payer, they will have a hard time selling universal coverage via public option to their people and probably still won’t be able to pass single payer when the time comes.


                      • One of the most common complaints from conservatives, including bewildered members of Congress, was why they didn’t introduce one of the 60 or so healthcare bills they’d *already* passed during the Obama years. So yeah, you’re right.


                      • I’m seeing a weird argument here:

                        1. Implacable opposition by the minority party is a brilliant strategy. Evidence for this is how the right won such gains from 2010 to 2016, leading to capturing 35 statehouses and all three branches of government.

                        2. Implacable opposition by the minority party is a terrible strategy. Evidence for this is how the GOP failed to overturn Obamacare, after they captured 35 statehouses and all three branches of the government.

                        The failure in all this crystal ball gazing is that politics isn’t static; tactics that were terrible last year might be good this year, or vice versa.
                        In 2020, the early favorite for the Dem nomination is in fact Shrieking White Hot Ball of Rage.
                        Base turnout is the critical factor, and that depends on making people both focused and enraged, while confident and hopeful.
                        There isn’t some surefire, can’t miss, 100% reliable strategy.
                        Like I mentioned below in my comment about retirement, how the American people react to adversity is unpredictable.


                        • Another nuanced argument is that some of the things they did were very successful and the Republicans paid no price for it and so there are few political reasons not to do the same… but also that some of the things they did came at substantial cost (which they are paying for now) and Democrats should think twice about doing those things, thereby improving their benefit/cost ratio.


                          • That is almost certainly the correct view. However it also should be clear why some on the liberal side find it hard to swallow. The D’s need to avoid using a winning tactic since it might lead to them having the prez and majorities in both houses which might make it harder for them to then get their policies passed. Ummm yeah, that is tough sell. However, again, the parties have different constituencies and beliefs about process and goals so, to quote someone “we need to go high ( or least higher) when they go low” is the right road.


                            • I’m dubious that the GOP post Bush strategy is easily replicable on the left. I just don’t think the left is as uniform as the right is. There isn’t any principle (or more specifically a general theme) that you can bray over and over that the entire left will rally behind the way the right did. Each of the lefty constituencies want different, sometimes opposing, shit.


                              • Oh I agree, i don’t think the D’s could make it work and it’s also a bad idea. I get why some D’s want it, but they are a bit blinded by anger and R hypocrisy. D’s in congress have a far wider set of views then the relativity monolithic R’s. Gosh knows it only took a few centrist D’s to squash the far larger HCR most D’s wanted.


  4. BL1:

    I have personally stood in a room full of hedge fund titans and billionaire investors warning one another explicitly that inequality must be addressed lest the U.S. become a place like Latin America, where rich people are forced to live behind walls, surrounded by armed guards, because of the very real risks from the rage of the poor.

    So what is the problem? They recognize the problem, but not enough of them? They aren’t smart enough to solve it?


    • Consider the historical position of the auto industry on most major safety or pollution-control changes. Consistently, the CEOs all say, “We know adding XYZ is important. Each of us individually would like to do it. None of us, individually, dare do it because the marginal consumer buys the cheaper car, and because Wall Street will crucify us. Please require us all to do it at the same time by regulation.”


      • That’s kinda my point. If all the 0.01%ers know that the mob is rattling the front gate, why aren’t they telling government to regulate the 0.01%?

        I mean, I’d prefer they do the right thing voluntarily, but if they truly feel that the government is needed to prevent defectors…


        • What makes us think the rich even can solve “inequality”?

          I suspect the problem isn’t on their side. Make a list of things which prevent the poor from rising and “abused by the rich” probably isn’t high up there.

          I mean, how many poor people did Bill Gates have to abuse in order to gain his wealth? Steve Jobs? Both of them sell to the mass market, most of the poor are probably better off for their existence(s).


          • I doubt the 0.01%ers can solve inequality, but they can stop trying to stop other people from working on the issue just because it might impact their fortunes. And I mean that seriously. Short of Venezuela level asset seizure, the likelihood that the wealthy will be significantly less wealthy is pretty slim. IMHO*, the reason they oppose moves to address inequality (at least, the moves that might cost them something) is less about having their wealth significantly reduced and more about the loss of power** and prestige that such moves might cause.

            *I have my suspicions on the web of interconnected things that fuel the inequality issue, but those suspicions are not something I can properly defend because it’s not my field. I know enough to know that I don’t know enough.

            **And trust me, I’m not keen on the answer being high effective tax rates on the wealthy or corporations, I’m not interested in the power such funding would attach to going to government.


            • One question is what, if any, policy solutions should be put in place to remedy the problem, but I think we all know that on this issue policy takes a back seat to politics and ideology. So the more appropriate question is something like: “What policies can be introduced to remedy radical inequality which a) don’t redistribute wealth via coercion, b) don’t disincentive entreprenuership and job creation, c) don’t embiggen government’s regulatory apparatus, d) don’t favor the political fortunes of liberals and Democrats, e) don’t give a larger share of opportunity to people who don’t “deserve” it, f) don’t violate the American principle of radical individualism, g) don’t punish the winners to help the losers, and so on and on. IOW, our political culture has created veto points within American culture for literally *any* policy proposal upsetting the currently untenable status quo.

              My guess is that as the establishment GOP loses power within conservatism pro-socialist/pro-redistributive policies are going to gain wider support in the electorate.


              • IOW, our political culture has created veto points within American culture for literally *any* policy proposal upsetting the currently untenable status quo.

                This is where the academics, et. al. come in, since they can help strip away the veto points that are more about ‘the feels’ than anything else. But I get your point.

                Related: Postrel had this in Bloomberg a few days ago (got it from Jon Rowe) regarding how occupational licensing is adding barriers for people from moving to where the jobs are.


                • This is where the academics, et. al. come in, since they can help strip away the veto points that are more about ‘the feels’ than anything else.

                  Honestly, I think we’re waaaay past “acedemic” solutions to these and other problems. Academics, after all, got us into this mess. :)

                  If I had to guess which way the winds are blowing, I’d say the prevailing breeze in the near future will be against intellectually-driven policy analysis. We’re going to see increased agitation for implementing X, regardless of what the smart-guys say about it.


              • The first step is to actually identify the problem. Gates and Jobs did good things for the country, we’re better off for having tolerated them. A war against successful people for being too successful seems unlikely to result in more successful people. I would suggest the issue is more a lack of opportunity.

                Things to do as a society:

                1) Entrepreneurship and fiscal literacy should be taught in High School.

                2) Make “The Millionaire Next Door” required reading. It’s basically a “how to be financially successful in the real world”.

                3) Clamp down on rent seeking, especially through gov policy. That includes spurious licensing requirements, and also predatory local police departments.

                4) Clamp down on anti-job government policies. This includes taxing job creation, making the requirements and tracking burdensome, increasing risk, etc. Job skills are mostly learned on the job. We want the creation of a job to be the first stick out of the bag and not the last. Job creation should be a right, not a privilege. Making job creation second to various societal goals is a problem.

                5) Make it real clear that although society doesn’t punish certain behaviors, the real world does. I.e. having children before one becomes fiscally stable has risks and long term fiscal consequences. The same could be said about excessive drug use, gambling, etc.

                6) Get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers. “Picking winners” is often code for “letting the politically connected use gov resources to kneecap everyone else”.


      • Sure, that’s reasonable, but my criticism still holds. These are the people who are steeped in that wealth, who claim to be the ones who are smart and talented enough to be worthy of it. They should have an inkling as to what the real issue is, should they not?

        And, if they can not understand that water is wet because they are fish, then they should be open to listening to people outside that rarefied strata who can offer insights into the issue, right?

        I mean, I’m just fine working from a basis that taxing the hell out of them will not solve the problem of inequality, and as such we should not do that, but then we need an alternative direction to move in, because the current direction of ‘trickle down’ isn’t working either (wages might be finally on the rise again, but my understanding is that the growth is still small, and limited to specific sectors).


        • These are the people who are steeped in that wealth, who claim to be the ones who are smart and talented enough to be worthy of it. They should have an inkling as to what the real issue is, should they not?

          Why would they? Understanding the root causes of inequality is a matter for the social sciences, and social scientists are not well represented in the top 0.1% of incomes. It’s a question of expertise, not intelligence.

          I mean, I’m just fine working from a basis that taxing the hell out of them will not solve the problem of inequality, and as such we should not do that, but then we need an alternative direction to move in

          Absolutely, and for all I know taxing the hell out of them is the solution, for matter there may not even be a problem here at all. OR maybe neither of those things are true. What I’m advocating for is academics and government researchers digging into the problem to work out what is going on, after all this sin’t something that’s happening in the rest of the world, so its probably something particular to the US that is causing it.


          • after all this sin’t something that’s happening in the rest of the world, so its probably something particular to the US that is causing it.

            Is this objectively true?


            • New Zealand’s inequality hasn’t changed in nearly 30 years. Other countries have experienced increases or decreases in recent decades, but as far as I’m aware an inequality rise related to the top fraction of a percent of incomes running away from everyone else is a US-specific phenomenon.


      • But inequality isn’t the problem – its the visible symptom of whatever the problem is.

        I think this reverses things. Either inequality is a problem or it isn’t.* If it isn’t, then, well… If it is, tho, it’s not a symptom of another problem, it’s the result or effect of a particular set of policies and practices. Those policies and practices aren’t “problems” in their own right. Eg., the rich and ambitious love them! They just *may* (and in our case, do) lead to undesirable outcomes. How or whether to change them is a contentious political issue even if the policy solutions were crystal clear.

        *I think it very much is a problem.


    • @james-k

      You are not considering the possibility that it could just be feigned concern. The super-rich already lead very separate lives from most people including well-to-do people. It might not be as bad as South America or even necessary but they already live in world’s where they get driven around and don’t deal with the hoi polloi. It is questionable whether they do anything resembling a chore or just outsource everything.

      IIRC Rex Tillerson had his own elevator at Exxon and it took him straight from his garage to his office. I wonder how much of the .01 percent is like this.


      • Sure it can be feigned concern. Which is easy to check by looking at how much effort they are making to suss out the causes of inequality and address it.

        Personally, I’m sure some of them are concerned, but not enough to get politicians to act. I’m betting there are a very large number of 0.01%ers who are strongly convinced of their own worth and right to every dollar they can get*, and aren’t interested in worrying about inequality.

        *Regardless of how honestly or honorably they got it. Things like pump & dump schemes can be ‘legal’ in certain, specific contexts, but that doesn’t make them honest or honorable.


        • “Personally, I’m sure some of them are concerned, but not enough to get politicians to act.”

          I consider this a distinction without a difference. Though as Still says below, they could sincerely think (or tricked themselves to believing) that their ideological priors of a low-state with a fully unleashed capital can help resolve income inequality the most.

          Unfortunately there are all number of pundits and journalists willing to be lapdogs for very rich people and their self-serving ideas.


          • I phrased that badly. I think there are some that are very concerned, and may actively be lobbying politicians to do something, but their numbers and influence is insufficient to the cause because there are X many other 0.01%ers who are lobbying for the exact opposite.


      • You are not considering the possibility that it could just be feigned concern.

        I think there’s two ways in which the concern could be genuine. The first is by internalizing the obviously false principle that limited government, low taxes, job-creating reinvestment, and a “free market” will lift people out of poverty. The other is that there’s a threshhold below which the peasants really will start revolting, and keeping them in line, with police power, costs money. So perhaps they believe that we, as a society, are right at the edge of a very pricey level of unrest and violence which only throwing a few bones to the poor will prevent.


        • limited government, low taxes, job-creating reinvestment, and a “free market” will lift people out of poverty

          I think this is not necessarily a false statement, but I don’t know how effective this is given current corporatist strategies and tactics.

          The ability to create a business and grow it into something significant enough to provide a solid middle class existence is a tough nut when the big companies are constantly feeling pressure to grow grow grow and in as many directions as possible. It’s hard to be a small business owner when the big companies are constantly moving into your market space and driving you out of business. It forces the small business owner to find ever smaller niches, or to be able to exploit new markets. This is a big reason why software/apps is so popular right now – small initial investment, lots of niche and new opportunities, and if you move fast enough and get popular enough, you can cash out early But doing something straightforward, like owning a retail business, is much less of a payoff, unless you are very shrewd &/or creative when it comes to business.

          In short, it’s still possible to be an entrepreneur and be successful at it, but it’s not as simple or straightforward as it once was, and it takes a lot more talent and education on average to do it well, and a lot more startup capital if you hope to get off the ground fast enough to avoid getting steamrolled by a larger company deciding to move into your market. All of this narrows the population who are able to take advantage of the right wing dream. If we want to take a free market approach, then more needs to be done to level the playing field, and that doesn’t mean just lowering taxes and regulatory or occupational burdens, but also removing protectionist policies and eliminating the socialization of losses, especially at the higher levels.


  5. Bl7:
    I think retirement and elder care for Boomers is going to become an increasingly volatile issue.
    Right now it is an abstraction; people look at the 25K in their retirement fund and know abstractly that it’s insufficient, but they are still paying rent and buying groceries.

    But like with all political crises, there will come a tipping point of panic and rage as you get millions of households unable to work, unable to pay rent.

    I just can’t predict how that will play out.
    Maybe it will bolster a Trump-like “Us versus Them” movement, or (more hopefully) a “All In This Together” sensibility.


    • There seem to be two stories going on with Boomers and retirement (and probably a lot more boring stuff that is not getting reported on):

      1. You have stories like the one here about working-class boomers who benefited from the ahistoricity of the mid-20th century economy and are now screwed; and

      2. You have stories about upper-middle class professional boomers with good jobs and/or incomes who don’t want to retire and this creates a drag on younger generations because opportunities to rise up in the ranks aren’t opening up due to a lack of boomer retirement.


      • Because there is no single Boomer archetype; The leading edge Boomers, particularly the white middle class got the free college education, snagged good jobs, many with pensions and bought the cheap houses which are now gold mines.

        The trailing edge and minority members of that cohort missed out on all that and are now landless wage serfs without savings.


    • With retirement it’s interesting because the normal release valve; revolt; isn’t available. No one’s going to be afraid of hordes ofr geriatric revolutionaries. OTOH seniors vote at very high levels so unless the younger cohorts adapt to that fact a revolt won’t be necessary. Seniors boomers with insufficient resources will simply vote themselves what they need.


  6. Cr1 – This seems to be a popular item for discussion. On the one side, I imagine people are better at keeping secrets than the government is at finding them out. On the other hand, there are a lot of patterns in data that pop up at random, and the larger the dataset, the more of these random patterns emerge and are erroneously interpreted as meaningful. See, for instance, the medical profession.

    Cr4 – Humans are obsessed with trying to explain these incidents logically, as if there were some rational decision-making process involved that we could all understand, when it’s more likely there is not. See, for instance, this article I wrote on the Giffords shooting in 2011:

    X5 – A poor attempt at humor, perhaps?

    Also, the notify me of follow-up comments by email function has not been working.


  7. Sc4 mentions male birth control, not not the reversible vasectomy. As RISUG it’s under clinical trial in India, and as Vasalgel it’s expected to enter clinical trial in the US on 2018.


  8. Sc1:

    and it seems as though there is definitely something rising up from deep within the Earth in the region

    It’s Satan! He’s finally come to smite that den of sin!


    Bosons – Seems like a good idea to NOT build a particle accelerator in an area with a high degree of strong seismic activity.

    Crispr – Why can’t they share the patent? That aside, gene editing using Crispr is pretty damned exciting.


      • Oh, I don’t trust USG to handle this particularly well.

        But I do think that how we handled it last time facilitated “kicking the can down the road” more than anything else.

        Well, we’re down the road. I suppose kicking the can again remains an option.


        • To me, it’s not a matter of the USG being able to hande it well or not, it’s the fact that it’s the easiest thing in the world for the regime to blame unrest on foreign provocateurs and influences in order for the regime to regain credibility. And of course, if that is an actual credible claim (unlike say, Mississippians meddling in Alabama elections), then the regime has a trump card, so to speak.


            • The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most….

              Diagraming this sentence would have been the curve breaker in 10th grade English class.


              • The current gambit that I see playing out on the twitters is some variant of “WHY ISN’T AMERICAN MEDIA COVERING THIS THE WAY THEY COVERED THE PUSSY HATTED BRIGADES!”

                Without taking into account that the American Media is currently enjoying a Saturday night in a three-day weekend.

                As the guy who got the “make Jaybird come in, he doesn’t have kids!” shifts during all of my 20’s and half of my 30’s, I admit to a small amount of schadenfreude but no more than that.

                That said, 2017 seems to have decided to go out without allowing for a Christmas Truce in the news cycle and those who thought it might are damned fools.


                    • Now there *WAS* a short period where both the NYT and the Warshington Post got this really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really wrong.

                      (Check out the screenshot of the headlines on this tweet.)

                      Thoughts and prayers go out to the protestors, of course.

                      I’ve considered changing my facebook picture.


                      • Here’s an interesting tidbit found in one of the few news sources you can trust anymore: Popular Mechanics.

                        An Iranian government official claimed earlier this week that its Russian-made air defenses were compromised by Moscow, leaving Iran and its allies defenseless against Israeli airstrikes.

                        (They link to this story in the Jerusalem Post.)

                        I don’t know if the Iranian official actually said this, of course. Nor do I know whether it’s true even if the Iranian official actually said it.

                        That said, taking it at face value, the Iranian Officials seem to have lost a very, very, very, very important international ally at a really, really, really, really inconvenient time.


                • American media and people are virtually incapable of understanding foreign politics without forcing it into our own framework of domestic politics.

                  Some of this is parochialism of being an imperial superpower. We enjoy the luxury of not needing to know where Iran is or who its players are. Part of it is our literal inability to read their media, so we have to rely on interpreters who may or may not have an agenda to push.

                  Notice how the Syrian civil war played out in American media. A quarter of a million people dead, half a nation displaced, and yet few stories providing real information on who the different factions were, what they wanted.
                  Mostly this was because the politics were a wicked tangle of ethnic, religious, geopolitical, and nationalist factions which are incomprehensible to American sensibility.

                  So we can expect American media to create a framework of good guys and bad guys, and translate domestic Iranian politics into our own.


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