Open Thread and Link Farm: Shrill Pool Party edition

  1. Why it’s fine to cast POC actors in traditionally white roles, but bad to cast white actors in POC roles, explained with a jar of chocolate covered raisins.
  2. Wilbur Ross broke law, violated Constitution in census decision, judge rules – The Washington Post
    “Ross claimed he was acting at the request of the Justice Department in the interest of enforcing the Voting Rights Act. In reality, the “evidence establishes” that the voting rights explanation was just “a pretext” and that Ross “acted in bad faith” when he claimed otherwise. He pursued the citizenship question after hearing from then-White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Kris Kobach, the vice chair of Trump’s now-disbanded voting fraud commission.”
  3. Volunteers Sentenced for Leaving Food and Water for Migrants in the Arizona Desert – Hit & Run : Reason.com
  4. Federal judge shuts down Trump administration’s discrimination against children of same-sex couples.
    “U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of California rejected the State Department’s startling assertion that a married gay couple’s son was born ‘out of wedlock’ and thus is ineligible for citizenship.” Fucking hell, what asshats. They’d go back to putting people in jail for gay sex in a second, if they thought they could get away with it.
  5. Women Do Ask for More Money at Work. They Just Don’t Get It.
    These findings contradict some well-known earlier studies; this study’s different findings could be because it compares men and women in similar jobs. “Previous studies that reached the “women don’t ask” conclusion often failed to account for certain types of jobs (and industries) being dominated by one gender, focusing instead on the overall number of men or women who’d reported salary negotiations, which — given the number of women who work jobs with ‘non-negotiable’ salaries — skewed their findings.” (Alternative link.)
  6. The girl who executed Nazis after seducing them in bars dies aged 92 – NZ Herald
    It’s hard not to wonder what I would have done if I had been around then. I’m certain I would not have been this courageous.
  7. In a first, U.S. calls on German banks to close BDS accounts – BDS – Jerusalem Post
    The ongoing opposition to free speech on this issue is mind-boggling.
  8. “The Tragedy of the Commons” is a terrible and racist paper.
    “…we’ve let a flawed metaphor by a racist ecologist define environmental thinking for a half century.”
  9. It’s time to stop calling climate activists hypocrites | Ricochet
    I sometimes consider doing a cartoon on this subject, except that Matt Bors has already done the perfect cartoon on this subject.
  10. Cultured meat will now be regulated by the FDA and USDA – Vox
    Interestingly, this is regulation that lab-grown meat makers are really happy about. (Because it reassures investors.)
  11. The American Family Act, Democrats’ dramatic plan to cut child poverty, explained – Vox
    It can’t pass while the Republicans hold the Senate and White House, but it’s still good to get this on the Democratic policy agenda. The plan would pay all households (except rich households) $250-$300 per child, every month. “Poverty among children would fall from 14.8 percent to 9.5 percent, meaning 4 million kids would escape poverty. Deep poverty — the share of kids living on half the poverty line or less — would fall almost by half, from 4.6 percent to 2.4 percent.”
  12. The Curious Career of Martin Brest | Dirk Knemeyer
    The director of “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Midnight Run,” “Scent of a Woman,” “Meet Joe Black” and the famously disastrous “Gigli”… and although there are rumors, no one actually seems to know where his is now.
  13. (132) Robocalls: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – YouTube
    I thought this one is unusually funny – especially his discussion of why he won’t use snail mail, which begins at about 8:10.
  14. ‘Whores But Organized’: Sex Workers Rally for Reform | by Molly Crabapple | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
    There’s nothing new here in terms of policy proposals. But the inroads into getting support from politicians seem new to me. I’m disappointed that NY NOW rallied against the NY decriminalization bill.
  15. Very good twitter thread by Alexandra Erin on the limits of smoking guns.
    “I am convinced that no scene in any superhero movie is less realistic than Batman Returns when Batman plays Penguin saying ‘I played this city like a harp from hell!’ for Gotham and they turn on him, instead of saying ‘You don’t understand his humor.'”
  16. (132) Flight of the Conchords- Albi The Racist Dragon
    Funny parody of stupid fake liberalism. I came to this via Lindsey Ellis’ evisceration of the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake.
  17. Alan Krueger was the rare economist whose work improved the lives of millions.
    Dr. Kruger’s research on the minimum wage has been cited on “Alas” many times over the years. He was crucial to the practice of natural experiments to economics. Kruger, who advised both the Clinton and Obama administrations, was only 58, and his final book, on economics and pop music, is scheduled to be published this summer.
  18. Ramsey Orta filmed the killing of Eric Garner — and police and prison guards have punished him for it -Chloé Cooper Jones
    Content warning for prisoner abuse. A long, depressing read.
  19. Men’s Rights Firm Teases ‘Hot New Girlfriend’ In Ad Somebody Thought Was Cool | Above the Law
  20. A short video by a group of female animators about standing up against a serial harasser in the animation industry.
  21. How the CDC’s opioid prescribing guideline is harming pain patients – STAT
  22. 3 Ways John Wick is Deeper Than You Realized – Kiva Bay – Medium
    Interesting stuff about the use of color, and the symbolism of cars, in the first John Wick film. (I wouldn’t call it deep, but I love that film.)
  23. What Referendum? Florida GOP Set to Exclude Up to 80% of Felons From Voting
    The law requires all court fees and fines – which can be very high (“As the WLRN report detailed, any conviction for drug trafficking—even a low-level, non-violent conviction—carries a mandatory fine of $25,000 to $500,000 per count”) – to be paid before voting rights are restored. Basically, a poll tax.
  24. Voting Rights Roundup: Iowa GOP wants to legally ban many students at public colleges from voting
    Unless the students sign a statement saying they intend to remain in Iowa after graduation. But private college students don’t face this requirement.
  25. This Cohen hearing fight was everything wrong with how America talks about “racism” – Vox
  26. Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals | Martin Lukacs | Environment | The Guardian
  27. A Rediscovered Portrait of Harriet Tubman Is Unveiled
  28. Mesa Airlines Flight Attendant Held by ICE for two months Has Been Freed – but could still be deported.
    She’s lived in the US since she’s a toddler, married to an American, works and pays taxes – but ICE is still trying to deport her to Peru, and might succeed. There is no logic here, no rationality – just bigotry. But this is what the Republican party wants our country to be; this is the issue, more than any other, that Trump ran on.
  29. Opinion | Getting Rid of the Electoral College Isn’t Just About Trump – The New York Times
    None of the arguments for the electoral college are true. (Alternative link.)
  30. Tell Me I’m Fat – This American Life
    I thought this episode of This American Life was really good. I was especially struck by “act 2,” in which Elna Baker, who lost 110 pounds and kept it off, discusses her experience.
  31. ‘Shrill’: A Fat Girl’s Review of Aidy Bryant Show – Variety
    I think this review is very accurate, including how painful watching the first few episodes can be (despite the funny). I loved the show. (Show trailer.)
  32. Shrill Accused of Plagiarizing Pool Party Scene. But is it a coincidence? | IndieWire
    Yes, it’s a coincidence. One thing I’ve learned from political cartooning is that basic ideas are thought of by different people independently ALL THE TIME. And sometimes those people publicly accuse you of plagiarism. (Also, the pool party scene, in episode 4, is amazing – the best scene of a good series).
  33. How ‘Shrill’ Made Aidy Bryant’s Best Outfits From Scratch
    Because they had to, because they couldn’t find the clothing they wanted in Bryant’s size. (Alternative link.)

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131 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm: Shrill Pool Party edition

  1. 101
    J. Squid says:

    I’m still not seeing how Anything you’re complaining about, RonF, is taxation without representation. It’s people being unhappy with their elected representatives’ taxation choices, sure. But it isn’t taxation without representation. Neither is the fact that one party is more likely to support increased taxation than another. It sounds like your actual complaint is that there are too many people in your locality not voting your preferences. That, to be sure, is not taxation without representation.

  2. 102
    Michael says:

    @nobody.really#99- Agreed, sort of. I’ve felt the same exhaustion, the same frustration at trying to explain things that most people can’t understand. And sometimes (but not always) the people I’m trying to explain them to are feminists. There are many perspectives the majority of people can’t understand and some of them conflict with each other.

  3. 103
    Ben Lehman says:

    conservatism is a philosophy for coping with scarcity; liberalism a philosophy for coping with plenty

    I should know better than to discuss a Scott Alexander quote as if it actually means anything — but good lord this is a stupid premise that I cannot help myself.

    A casual look around the world will reveal that, almost always, the exact opposite is true. Countries with high levels of wealth and resources (Saudi Arabia, for example, or Brunei) tend towards conservative, reactionary politics. Whereas scarcity has been a driver of positive social change throughout history (think about the female workers in WWII).

    Conservativism — keeping large swathes of your population immiserated, under-educated, or unemployed — comes at an enormous cost to your economic growth, among many other costs. It is a luxury good, conspicuous consumption on a grand scale, one of the most expensive luxury goods available. Shortfall, on the other hand, means you need all hands, which in turn creates opportunities for all.

  4. 104
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Mandolin (or whoever read her comment, I guess),

    I don’t understand why you consider my name to be contemptuous. It is a reference to Wittgenstein’s statements: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” and “The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.”

    Wittgenstein is arguing that language and understanding are inseparable and one cannot comprehend things if one lacks the linguistic ability to describe it. This is also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.

    The implication of this is that one should be very careful with the words that one uses. Many terms are actually abstractions of more complex realities. A huge risk is then that if the abstractions simplify and/or distort reality, using these terms will not merely result in simplistic and/or distorted claims, but will actually simplify and/or distort the understanding of reality by the person. Similarly, (sub)cultures who adopt certain terminology can thereby adopt a collective simplistic and/or distorted understanding of reality.

    None of that is specific to some people or some (sub)cultures. I see both a duty to critically asses my own use of language, as well as the use of language of others.

  5. 105
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    nobody.really,

    In each case, the protagonist feels the need to conform to the norms of a new (and higher) social class, yet is chastised by an uncomprehending member of his or her prior social class for failing to conform to that class’s norms.

    This can be generalized to a cultural conflict. When two cultures have clashing norms, norm enforcement and/or punishment often happens to those from one culture who try to navigate the spaces of the other culture, as their behavior which conform to the norms of one culture is not accepted in spaces which conform to the norm of another culture.

    Of course, those with less status/wealth/etc are generally less able to enforce their norms, but their ability is not non-existent. In particular, acceptance can be withheld by the powerless. People who are partly between cultures often crave acceptance from both cultures, yet get denied by both, as they don’t adhere properly to the norms of either culture.

    This can act like quicksand, preventing social mobility. People from less successful (sub)cultures who adopt behaviors that can produce good outcomes, but that go against the norm of their (sub)culture, face attempts to get them back in line from the (sub)culture they came from. However, they simultaneously have people from the other (sub)culture(s) reject many of their other behaviors. So this can then lead to people giving up on those successful behaviors.

    An example is students who study hard, but then get rejected by those who see this behavior as a despicable behavior of an outgroup, like nerds, the upper class or white people.

    In the long run, intellectual arguments probably do little to change people’s minds anyway, other than to lay the ground.

    I would argue that intellectual arguments do little in the short run, but that they do much more in the long run.

    However, I think that demonstrations often work much better than theory. My mother’s opinion on gay people is much more based on when she lived next to a gay couple than on theoretical notions about the morality of certain sexual practices according to general principles.

    I sense people tend to be motivated by things such as hope and fear, compassion and tribalism.

    True, but we can shape people’s hopes, fears and tribalism with intellectual arguments and/or facts.

    Influencing terminal values generally seems hopeless, but you can change people’s minds on how their terminal values can be best achieved.

  6. 106
    Ampersand says:

    LOL, just to clarify, is it your claim that you’re unaware of what “LOL” generally means in internet debates? Or that you are aware, but that it’s a complete coincidence?

  7. 107
    Chris says:

    I know what LOL means, but I have to admit I don’t see how that means LoL’s username is “contemptuous” of the other commenters here. Is the theory that it’s a subtle way for him to laugh at the rest of us with each post? Because I usually disagree with LoL, and I’m not getting that tone from him.

  8. 108
    desipis says:

    nobody.really:

    In the long run, intellectual arguments probably do little to change people’s minds anyway, other than to lay the ground.

    Intellectual arguments, or perhaps more specifically logic and evidence, are more influential in contexts where rationality has a higher value. My experience in the field engineering has included many instances where a good argument backed by evidence has changed how whole teams operate. If intellectual arguments are failing, then I think it’s important to look at the culture and the things it values more than rationality (and why), and not just assume such failure is inevitable.

  9. 109
    Michael says:

    @Ben Lehman#103-Scott explains exactly what he means here:
    https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/
    There is some truth to Scott’s analysis, although it’s not completely true. Revolutions happen when things get better but not good enough. The revolutions of 1989 happened under Gorbachev not Stalin. The civil rights movement happened after lynchings had declined annually and the lethal convict leasing system had been abolished.

  10. 110
    nobody.really says:

    I theorize that we observe less gratuitous cruelty today—fewer gladiator battles, bear pits, bull fights—because people are generally better off, and can afford to extend more compassion to others. If this pattern continues, I suspect that dynamic to continue, too. As Scott Alexander opined, conservatism is a philosophy for coping with scarcity; liberalism a philosophy for coping with plenty.

    I should know better than to discuss a Scott Alexander quote as if it actually means anything — but good lord this is a stupid premise that I cannot help myself….

    Conservativism — keeping large swathes of your population immiserated, under-educated, or unemployed — comes at an enormous cost to your economic growth, among many other costs. It is a luxury good….

    Well, Michael beat me to the punch. But since I’ve written this, I’ll post it.

    Perhaps you’d prefer Mario Cuomo’s version?

    It’s an old story. It’s as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. The strong they tell us will inherit the land!
    We Democrats believe in something else. We Democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact.

    I understand Alexander to argue that conservative philosophy makes more sense in a world in which, for example, humans face imminent extinction (“the zombie apocalypse”). Petty concerns for equality will merely ensure that everyone dies equally; thus, equality, justice, compassion—those are the luxury goods that conservatives believe we cannot afford.

    A casual look around the world will reveal that, almost always, the exact opposite is true. Countries with high levels of wealth and resources (Saudi Arabia, for example, or Brunei) tend towards conservative, reactionary politics.

    I don’t know if I see the same correlation that you do. Here are the top* and bottom 10 countries by GDP/person according to the International Monetary Fund 2018, and the top and bottom 10 countries for freedom according to Freedom House 2019.

    Highest GDP/Person…………………Most Freedom
    Qatar……………………………………………Finland
    Macau………………………………………….Norway
    Luxembourg*……………………………….Sweden
    Singapore*…………………………………..Netherlands
    Brunei………………………………………….Canada
    Ireland*……………………………………….Australia
    Norway………………………………………..Uruguay
    United Arab Emirates…………………..Luxembourg
    Kuwait………………………………………….New Zealand
    Switzerland………………………………….Denmark
    Hong Kong*…………………………………Ireland
    United States
    Malta
    Japan
    South Korea

    (Ok, I added a few extra nations because the countries with asterisks receive a distorting amount of GDP from their status as tax havens.)

    Lowest GDP/Person………………………Least Freedom
    Central African Republic………………..Syria
    Burundi………………………………………….Tibet
    Democratic Republic of the Congo…Eretria
    Malawi…………………………………………..South Sudan
    Niger………………………………………………Turkmenistan
    Mozambique………………………………….North Korea
    Liberia……………………………………………Western Sahara
    South Sudan………………………………….Equatorial Guinea
    Sierra Leone…………………………………..Somalia
    Madagascar…………………………………..Saudi Arabia
    Comoros………………………………………Sudan

    Yes, Saudi Arabia appears on both the least freedom list and the richest list—but South Sudan appears on the least freedom list and the poorest list. Meanwhile, Ireland, Norway, and Luxembourg appear on both the richest list and the most freedom list.

    What many of the richest countries have in common is an economy dominated by natural resource extraction, especially oil. This tends to produce atypical social dynamics known as the “Resource Curse,” which may not generalize to nations with economies that are not dominated by natural resource extraction.

    Whereas scarcity has been a driver of positive social change throughout history (think about the female workers in WWII).

    Does it really make sense to say that the US faced greater scarcity during WWII than during the Great Depression? Well, kinda. There was high demand for labor relative to supply. And that tends to happen during a war, plague, or booming economy. If you like Option C, I’m guessing you wouldn’t like living in a poor nation.

    Are there OTHER ways to increase the demand/supply ratio for labor? Well, one (contested) strategy is to ban immigration. Another is to reduce the birth rate/practice infanticide. And another is to segment the labor market and declare certain people out-of-bounds. After wars, social dynamics tended to push women back out of the labor force. Out of uniform, black men were relegated to marginal parts of the labor force. Along with people with disabilities. People with criminal records. People with tattoos. People without college degrees—even for jobs that would not obviously require college degrees. Other forms of credentialization—teaching certificates, law degrees, etc.—are arguably means to constrict the labor supply, thereby driving up employment opportunities and compensation. There are many ways to segment the labor market.

    Which is more stable—a one-engine plane or a two-engine plane? There’s always a chance that a plane’s engine will fail. But if your plane is designed to REQUIRE two engines, the chance of catastrophic failure doubles. In Nickel and Dimed Barbara Ehrenreich noted that the US used to have a norm of one parent working out of the home, and one working in the home—and little savings. But when the man lost his job (or his ability to work), the woman COULD seek out some employment. Today we have a norm of two parents working—and little savings. So if EITHER spouse loses a job or the ability to work, they’re both screwed. Thus the rise of bankruptcies.

    Some people like unionization: by constricting the labor supply, unions promotes the welfare of workers—inside the union. And some people liked the norm against married women working outside the home—for much the same reasons. The breakdown of that norm has led to greater equality among the sexes. But in practice, it has also led to an increase in the labor supply—that is, husbands and wives competing against each other in the labor market, thereby driving down each other’s wages, all else being equal.

    You can say the trade-off was worth it. But there was, and is, a trade-off. One manifestation of the trade-off is the disaffection among white men who lack the benefits of other forms of labor restriction (union membership, credentials)— arguably leading to the rise of Trump.

  11. 111
    David Simon says:

    @nobody.really Can you cite evidence for your claim that married women working outside the home has reduced wages? I follow the theory, but I’m a little skeptical that it worked out as you say in practice.

  12. 112
    Ampersand says:

    Does it really make sense to say that the US faced greater scarcity during WWII than during the Great Depression? Well, kinda. There was high demand for labor relative to supply. And that tends to happen during a war, plague, or booming economy. If you like Option C, I’m guessing you wouldn’t like living in a poor nation.

    Are there OTHER ways to increase the demand/supply ratio for labor? Well, one (contested) strategy is to ban immigration. Another is to reduce the birth rate/practice infanticide.

    I don’t think you understand what caused the scarcity of labor during WW2. You seem to think labor’s scarcity is caused by a reduction in the number of citizens, which eventually leads to a reduction in the number of workers.

    But during WW2, what actually happened was a vast increase in the number of jobs, not a reduction of workers. Soldiers aren’t unemployed – they have jobs. And at home, women weren’t just doing the jobs drafted men left behind; there was a increase in industry, creating new jobs (because we were manufacturing more weapons, more uniforms, etc). And although much of it was off the books, the women joining the workforce almost certainly created more work for others, because they were probably outsourcing a portion of work they might have done themselves prior to the war (i.e., laundry).

    The empirical evidence is pretty overwhelming that increasing immigration doesn’t increase unemployment. There are three reasons for this. First of all, there isn’t a fixed number of jobs regardless of the number of people, which is what you seem to think. Having more people creates more jobs. They eat, they pay rent, they buy clothes, they see movies, their children go to school, etc etc – and all of this creates work.

    Second of all, immigrants aren’t randomly distributed throughout the country. Immigrants who seek jobs move places where there are jobs. Anyplace that actually does have a fixed number of jobs – maybe a small town with no industry? – wouldn’t attract immigrants.

    Third, because immigrants tend to move to places where there are jobs they can do, overall they increase productivity. (For example, if there’s a town in desperate need of bricklayers, adding more bricklayers will make everyone whose work depends on good bricklaying being available more productive.)

    Also, workers in a unionized industry can get paid more than workers in a non-union industry, on average, even though the non-union workers might still earn less than the union workers. This is because if Factory A is unionized, Factory B can’t allow its wages to be too much lower than Factory A’s, because they don’t want Factory A’s workers organizing Factory B’s workers.

    This is called “the union threat effect,” and a number of studies have documented it. (This is why right-to-work laws tend to lower nonunion wages). However, some studies haven’t found it. My take on this is that wages are actually very complex, and the presence of unions is only one of a number of factors that matter.

  13. 113
    nobody.really says:

    Can you cite evidence for your claim that married women working outside the home has reduced wages? I follow the theory, but I’m a little skeptical that it worked out as you say in practice.

    Well, this time AMP beat me to the punch.

    I remarked that adding to the labor supply would tend to depress wages all else being equal. And outside of a laboratory, all else is pretty much never equal.

    In particular, as you get two income earners per household, you get more cash wealth (perhaps at the expense of other kinds of wealth; perhaps not). With more wealth, households consume more. And with more consumption comes more employment. So you get endogenous countervailing trends.

    The same dynamic applies to immigration and child-rearing: Yes, they add to the labor supply, thereby depressing wages. But they also consume, thereby stimulating demand and increasing wages. Mere theory can’t tell me which dynamic predominates.

    But This American Life did a two-hour documentary called “Our Town” (Parts One and Two) about the effects of immigration on the economy–and how complicated the analysis is. With an influx of Latinx immigrants to Albertville, AL, SNAP usage went from 8% of the population to 16%. But in little towns without Latino immigration, SNAP usage went from 11% to 26%. Why? Towns without immigration are dying towns. The schools closed, the bars closed, the banks closed. With no employment, more people go on public assistance.

    If America starts importing goods from abroad, that may compete with your own domestic business, and you may lose your job. If American starts importing PEOPLE from abroad, you may lose your job in competition–but you may get a newly created job providing goods and services to these new people.

    Again, in the abstract, I can’t tell which effect predominates. But my sense is that pro-growth policies–more employment, more immigration–tend to produce greater GDP than anti-growth policies save.

  14. 114
    Ampersand says:

    In Scott Alexander’s essay, linked to by Michael, Scott proposes that people in a disaster take on conservative values. He writes:

    I propose that the best way for leftists to get themselves in a rightist frame of mind is to imagine there is a zombie apocalypse tomorrow. It is a very big zombie apocalypse and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be one of those ones where a plucky band just has to keep themselves alive until the cavalry ride in and restore order. This is going to be one of your long-term zombie apocalypses. What are you going to want?

    […]

    Fourth, you’re going to be extremely suspicious of outsiders. It’s not just that they could be infected. There are probably going to be all sorts of desperate people around, looking to steal your supplies, your guns, your ammo. You trust your friends, you trust your neighbors, and if someone who looks different than you and seems a bit shifty comes up to you, you turn them away or just kill them before they kill you.

    Fifth, you’re going to want hierarchy and conformity. When the leader says run, everyone runs. If someone is constantly slowing the group down, questioning the group, causing trouble, causing dissent, they’re a troublemaker and they can either shut up or take their chances on their own. There’s a reason all modern militaries work on a hierarchical system that tries to maximize group coherence.

    Sixth, you are not going to be sentimental. If someone gets bitten by the zombies, they get shot. Doesn’t matter if it’s really sad, doesn’t matter if it wasn’t their own fault. If someone breaks the rules and steals supplies for themselves, they get punished. If someone refuses to pull their weight, they get left behind. Harsh? Yes. But there’s no room for people who don’t contribute in a sleek urban postapocalyptic zombie-fighting machine.

    This is how people act when they are in a disaster, Scott suggests, and therefore conservatives are people who believe they are in a disaster.

    As a counterpoint, I want to quote from Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell, a book about how people can, and often do, pull together in disaster and help and trust each other much more than they do in ordinary times. There’s a lengthy excerpt from A Paradise Built In Hell here, which includes this passage:

    Katrina was an extreme version of what goes on in many disasters, where how you behave depends on whether you think your neighbors or fellow citizens are a greater threat than the havoc wrought by a disaster or a greater good than the property in houses and stores around you. (Citizen, here, means members of a city or community, not people in possession of legal citizenship in a nation.) What you believe shapes how you act. How you act results in life or death, for yourself or others, like everyday life, only more so. Katrina was, like most disasters, also full of altruism: of young men who took it upon themselves to supply water, food, diapers, and protection to the strangers stranded with them, to people who sheltered neighbors, to the uncounted hundreds or thousands who set out in boats—armed, often, but also armed with compassion—to find those who were stranded in the stagnant waters and bring them to safety, to the two hundred thousand or more who volunteered to house complete strangers, mostly in their own homes, via the Internet site hurricanehousing.org in the weeks after, more persuaded by the pictures of suffering than the rumors of monstrosity, to the uncounted tens of thousands of volunteers who came to the Gulf Coast to rebuild and restore.

    In the wake of an earthquake, a bombing or a major storm, most people are altruistic, urgently engaged in caring for themselves and those around them, strangers and neighbors as well as friends and loved ones. The image of the selfish, panicky or regressively savage human being in times of disaster has little truth to it. Decades of meticulous sociological research on behavior in disasters, from the bombings of World War II to floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and storms across the continent and around the world, have demonstrated this. But belief lags behind, and often the worst behavior in the wake of a calamity is on the part of those who believe that others will behave savagely and that they themselves are taking defensive measures against barbarism. From 1906 San Francisco to 2005 New Orleans, innocents have been killed by people who believed that their victims were the criminals and they themselves were the protectors of the shaken order. Belief matters.

    That passage reminds me of a quote from Mr. Rogers:

    Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

    Looking at Scott’s essay with this in mind, I would say right-wingers – or, at least, right-wingers as Scott describes them (#notallrightwingers) – are not merely acting like people who believe they are in the midst of disaster. Rather, they are people acting like people who 1) are in a disaster, and 2) believe that other people will inevitably act like violent barbarians in a disaster.

    The difference isn’t believing that we’re in a disaster or in a time of plenty. We all, at some level, believe we are in a disaster. Many leftists I know look at climate change and Trump and the Electoral College and gerrymandering (etc etc) and believe we’re all doomed.

    The difference, if I were to put it in terms as simple as Scott’s, is this: some of us think that the way to respond to disaster is to form armed encampments and shoot to kill; others believe the way to respond is to try to help.

    (Putting things in such simplistic terms is obviously too crude. When a hurricane hits, both leftists and right wingers will be among those going out to help. There may be some truth to Scott’s theory, or my repair of his theory, in terms of big social movements, but at the individual level there are endless exceptions and nuances to any rules we make up.)

  15. 115
    nobody.really says:

    Does it really make sense to say that the US faced greater scarcity during WWII than during the Great Depression? Well, kinda. There was high demand for labor relative to supply. And that tends to happen during a war, plague, or booming economy….

    Are there OTHER ways to increase the demand/supply ratio for labor? [Yes….]

    I don’t think you understand what caused the scarcity of labor during WW2. You seem to think labor’s scarcity is caused by a reduction in the number of citizens, which eventually leads to a reduction in the number of workers.

    But during WW2, what actually happened was a vast increase in the number of jobs, not a reduction of workers. Soldiers aren’t unemployed – they have jobs.

    Fair enough, I was thinking of the civilian economy. But whether discussing the civilian economy or the whole economy, the issue is the relationship of supply to demand. I agree that this relationship can be altered by increasing demand. That’s what I meant by “booming economy.”

    But the relationship can also be altered by decreasing supply. For example, when plagues swept across N. Europe during the Middle Ages, the labor supply shrank–with predictable consequences:

    Before the plague, rising population had kept wages low and rents and prices high, an economic reality advantageous to the lord in dealing with the peasant and inclining many a peasant to cleave to demeaning yet secure dependent tenure.

    [Following the plague,] the rural worker indeed demanded and received higher payments in cash (nominal wages) in the plague’s aftermath. Wages in England rose from twelve to twenty-eight percent from the 1340s to the 1350s and twenty to forty percent from the 1340s to the 1360s. Immediate hikes were sometimes more drastic. During the plague year (1348-49) at Fornham All Saints (Suffolk), the lord paid the pre-plague rate of 3d. per acre for more half of the hired reaping but the rest cost 5d., an increase of 67 percent. The reaper, moreover, enjoyed more and larger tips in cash and perquisites in kind to supplement the wage. At Cuxham (Oxfordshire), a plowman making 2s. weekly before the plague demanded 3s. in 1349 and 10s. in 1350….

    The lord, however, was confronted not only by the roving wage laborer on whom he relied for occasional and labor-intensive seasonal tasks but also by the peasant bound to the soil who exchanged customary labor services, rent, and dues for holding land from the lord. A pool of labor services greatly reduced by the Black Death enabled the servile peasant to bargain for less onerous responsibilities and better conditions. At Tivetshall (Norfolk), vacant holdings deprived its lord of sixty percent of his week-work and all his winnowing services by 1350-51. A fifth of winter and summer week-work and a third of reaping services vanished at Redgrave (Suffolk) in 1349-50 due to the magna pestilencia. If a lord did not make concessions, a peasant often gravitated toward any better circumstance beckoning elsewhere. At Redgrave, for instance, the loss of services in 1349-50 directly due to the plague was followed in 1350-51 by an equally damaging wave of holdings abandoned by surviving tenants. For the medieval peasant, never so tightly bound to the manor as once imagined, the Black Death nonetheless fostered far greater rural mobility. Beyond loss of labor services, the deceased or absentee peasant paid no rent or dues and rendered no fees for use of manorial monopolies such as mills and ovens and the lord’s revenues shrank. The income of English lords contracted by twenty percent from 1347 to 1353….

    As the Black Death swung the balance in the peasant’s favor, the literate elite bemoaned a disintegrating social and economic order. William of Dene, John Langland, John Gower, and others polemically evoked nostalgia for the peasant who knew his place, worked hard, demanded little, and squelched pride while they condemned their present [times] in which land lay unplowed and only an immediate pang of hunger goaded a lazy, disrespectful, grasping peasant to do a moment’s desultory work….

    I agree with Amp that IN GENERAL, pro-growth policies (more workers, more immigration, more kids) increases GDP/person. But business cycles change. And especially during periods of slower growth, people may look for ways to constrict the labor supply. These strategies may be socially harmful in the long run, but effective in the short run.

    The world is arguably better because more people can use NOLO to write their own wills–but this has depressed the labor market for lawyers, who had previously benefited from the constricted supply of people who were entitled to offer such services. The world is arguably better because of Uber and Lyft–but they have depressed the labor market for taxi drivers who had previously benefited from a constricted supply of people who could offer their services. That’s supply and demand.

  16. 116
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    I’m aware of what LOL means. However, I didn’t pay attention to the initialized abbreviation when choosing my nick. I rarely use initialized abbreviations when addressing others, the main (or only?) exception being Richard Jeffrey Newman, who got upset when I addressed him as Richard and who demanded that I used his full name or an initialized abbreviation, which I did.

    I first noticed what my nick abbreviated to when people started responding to me with LOL or lol.

    This is an interesting accusation, because I’m getting blamed for the behavior of others. No one is forced to address me with LOL. Perhaps some people access this blog though a mobile device where copy/paste is difficult, so they prefer to type names & abbreviate those to save keystrokes? However, they can also call me ‘Limits’ in that case (or even just ‘Lim’ if typing more than three keystrokes is too much labor). I don’t really care, as long as it is clear who they are addressing.

    I consider it quite unfair that I’m being attacked for being addressed by others in a way that I never asked them to. Frankly, I have a hard time not seeing this as part of a pattern where what I say is interpreted as bad faith a lot of the time. Apparently even my nick is now seen by some as part of a sinister plot to manipulate other users into laughing at what I say, which supposedly is then hurtful to them??? I’m not even sure what the actual supposed harm is here exactly.

    Anyway, with the silliness out of the way:

    The empirical evidence is pretty overwhelming that increasing immigration doesn’t increase unemployment.

    A complication to studies that examine this is that migrants respond to economic incentives: migration increases during economic booms. This creates a confounder: as economic growth increases both migration and employment, if you simplistically correlate migration with employment, you will actually measure the effect of economic growth on employment as well. I’m not sure about the extent to which studies into migration effects for society as a whole are able to control for this confounder.

    Even if we ignore this complication, the conclusions of studies seem mixed, differing by country and circumstance.

    For example, this study found that in Spain, immigration didn’t increase unemployment in times of economic growth, but did during times of crisis (note that this is what you’d expect if the study was bad at correcting for the aforementioned confounder, resulting in the study falsely attributing the effects of economic growth to migration).

    The study also notes that:

    On the one hand, studies carried out in the OECD countries (Jean and Jiménez, 2011) and Portugal (Martins et al, 2011) have come to the conclusion that there is little empirical evidence to infer that immigrants replace native workers. On the other hand, studies carried out in Finland (Feridun, 2004) and France (Edo, 2013) find significance evidence to infer that immigration has adverse employment effects and immigrants undeniably replace native workers. These differences in study results can arise because of political differences among countries and different approaches and assumptions made by economists when carrying out the studies.

    A further complication is that many of these studies tend to treat society as a monolith. However, there is substantial evidence that many policies that increase the GDP benefit the already well-off the most, while the harms mostly accrue to the downtrodden. In general, we see that countries with more egalitarian policies pay for it with a lower GDP per capita.

    In the case of migration:

    As with the impacts on employment and unemployment, several studies have found that effects are different for high vs. low skilled/paid workers. For example, Dustmann et al (2013) find positive effects for most workers but negative effects for the lower paid; they found that a 1 percentage point increase in the ratio of migrants to non-migrants leads to a 0.6% decrease in wages for workers at the 5th earnings percentile and a 0.5% decrease at the 10th percentile. Another study focusing on wage effects at the occupational level found that, in the unskilled and semi-skilled service sector, a 1 percentage point rise in the share of migrants reduced average wages in that occupation by about 0.2% (Nickell and Salaheen 2015).

    The MAC (2018) estimated that an increase in the number of EU migrants corresponding to 1% of the UK-born working-age population resulted in a 0.8% decrease in UK-born wages at the 5th and 10th percentiles (i.e. people in the bottom 5-10% of earners), and a 0.6% increase at the 90th percentile (i.e. high earners). In practice, this means that between 1993 and 2017, the total effect of EU migration on the wages of UK-born workers was estimated to be a 4.9% reduction in wages for those at the 10th earnings percentile, a 1.6% reduction at the 25th percentile, a 1.6% increase at the 50th percentile, and a 4.4% increase at the 90th percentile. The calculation of the total impact should be interpreted with caution, however, because the model estimates the short-run response to migration, which is expected to disappear over time (MAC, 2018: 32).

    Note that these are just the financial effects. A lot of the complaints are about consequences of migration that are about quality of life issues, rather than just income.

    My strong impression is that there is immense bias among globalists to ignore and deny the negative impacts of their globalist policies on the less well-off, in particular the less educated, in favor of narratives that favor their policies, which in turn favor their desired lifestyle. Discontent with this seems to underlie the ‘populist’ revolt in many Western nations.

    You note in your later comment that Trump voters seem to feel under siege. Have you considered the possibility that they have correctly determined that traditional politicians make policy at their expense and yet falsely deny that they do (with most of the media supporting them), resulting in a loss of trust in not merely the policies, but the honesty of the politicians and the media?

    Imagine crashing your bike after a car hits you. Then the driver gets out, says that he will help you, but proceeds to hit you in the face, saying: “don’t you feel better now?” Would you object to the cyclist getting very angry at the driver and appealing to authority to get the driver to stop hitting the cyclist?

    Of course, in this scenario the cyclist is a Trump voter and the authority is Trump, with the establishment being the driver.

  17. 117
    nobody.really says:

    My strong impression is that there is immense bias among globalists to ignore and deny the negative impacts of their globalist policies on the less well-off, in particular the less educated, in favor of narratives that favor their policies, which in turn favor their desired lifestyle. Discontent with this seems to underlie the ‘populist’ revolt in many Western nations.

    You note in your later comment that Trump voters seem to feel under siege. Have you considered the possibility that they have correctly determined that traditional politicians make policy at their expense and yet falsely deny that they do (with most of the media supporting them), resulting in a loss of trust in not merely the policies, but the honesty of the politicians and the media?

    Funny you would say this; Amp has done a variety of cartoons on this topic.

    I sense the labor market is shifting. In the long run, we may experience much less demand for labor, largely due to automation. But in a world in which the primary vehicle for allocating society’s wealth is the labor market, and in which people’s sense of self-worth is tied to employment, people will be desperate to find reasons why they cannot achieve their ambitions. And that brown guy over there will always be an easier target than amorphous social forces combined with social indifference.

    I don’t mean that globalism has NO effect on the labor market for unskilled workers without a college education. But there are SO many better ways to address the problems of this group than isolationism. “Build the wall” may be 99% symbolism, 1% substance, but desperate people will take that policy over nothing.

  18. 118
    nobody.really says:

    The difference, if I were to put it in terms as simple as Scott’s, is this: some of us think that the way to respond to disaster is to form armed encampments and shoot to kill; others believe the way to respond is to try to help.

    Scott Alexander’s essay reflected his effort to identify with the conservative mindset as he understands it. Amp does not dispute Alexander’s idea that his scenario may provoke the relevant mindset; rather, Amp argues that it SHOULDN’T because people generally don’t behave all that badly after disasters.

    Of course, Alexander argued about civilization-collapsing disasters: You are under constant threat; there will be no rescue; you will be left to your own devises indefinitely. No matter how bad Katrina and the waves were, no one imagined that they would destroy civilization. (Well, grunge rock people, maybe….) After the storm, people had cause to fear a damaged house, tree, or powerline—but not that someone would hunt them down and kill them.

    The perception of vulnerability during the collapse of law and order is not entirely illusory. Piracy really happened (and happens?) The looting and violence that occurred in New York City during the power outage of July 13, 1977, really happened. The looting and property damage following the shooting deaths of Michael Brown, Antonio Martin, Freddie Gray, and Mansur Ball-Bey really happened. The gang violence and mob justice currently gripping Guatemala really happens.

    Yet clearly these are atypical events. The idea that these threats might influence the worldview of many people in the US arguably reflects the Availability Heuristic—a cognitive bias whereby things that stick in the mind causing people to think that the things occur more frequently than they do. Natural selection causes us to fixate on threats and opportunities, hope and fear, so images of people being victimized may have outsized importance in people’s minds.

    When was the last time you picked up a hitchhiker? When was the last time you went hitchhiking? There’s little evidence that hitchhiking led to abnormal amounts of victimization, yet today this previously commonplace practice is regarded as excessively dangerous. We warn children against “stranger danger,” even though abduction by strangers is vanishingly rare.

    I expect other dynamics also play a role in the conservative mindset. Perhaps conservative people build their identity around a sense of self-sufficiency, and thus feel especially threatened by the idea of appearing stupid and naïve for having failed to take precautions. I have not built my identity around being a sophisticated city-dweller, so if I get lost there, I won’t like it—but I won’t regard it as a threat to my core competence. But when my wife sees me struggling to start the lawnmower, look out. (And NO, I will NOT go groveling to my neighbor and make a display of my incompetence as a man—so stop suggesting it.)

    Also, I speculate that greed may play a role. People resent having to pay for rescuing others, and to avoid the cognitive dissonance of requiring rescue themselves, they overcompensate in seeking to ward off threats. It is far from clear that owning a gun is an effective way to ward off threat—let alone a cost-effective way—but clearly plenty of people do it.

    Recall the 1978 Battlestar Galactica TV series. At the height of the popular Nuclear Freeze movement, this show depicted the last human survivors of an attack when naïve human leaders sought to negotiate a peace treaty with the Cylons, and were betrayed when their guard was down. The show seemed to express and vindicate the conservative psychodrama perfectly. Perhaps coincidentally, the nation would shortly elect Ronald Reagan president, and a new arms race with “the evil empire” was begun.

  19. 119
    AJD says:

    No matter how bad Katrina and the waves were, no one imagined that they would destroy civilization. (Well, grunge rock people, maybe….) After the storm, people had cause to fear a damaged house, tree, or powerline—but not that someone would hunt them down and kill them.

    The perception of vulnerability during the collapse of law and order is not entirely illusory. Piracy really happened (and happens?) The looting and violence that occurred in New York City during the power outage of July 13, 1977, really happened.

    This seems circular. What’s the relevant difference between the NYC power outage of 1977 and Hurricane Katrina? Although no one imagined either of them would “destroy civilization”, surely the latter was closer to doing so, and closer to a “collapse of law and order”, than the former.

  20. 120
    nobody.really says:

    This seems circular.

    Scott Alexander seeks to create a scenario whereby he (and we) might put ourselves into the mindset of more conservative people. He postulates the zombie apocalypses, wherein people are living in a lawless wasteland subject to constant risk of lethal attack, without hope of rescue.

    Amp argued that, whatever the merits of this exercise for invoking a mindset, it is irrational because evidence demonstrates that people did not act in this manner after Hurricane Katrina.

    I note that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina did not resemble Alexander’s scenario. I expect that people in New Orleans expected (if mistakenly) that FEMA would arrive promptly to pick up the pieces–or, at worst, people retained the capacity to catch a MegaBus out of town. Thus, I don’t find it surprising that people did not act as if sharing their supply of bottled water might imperil their own chances of survival.

    But then I went further, noting a number of circumstances under which law and order actually DID break down–albeit temporarily–even in the absence of a zombie apocalypse. This implies that Alexander’s conditions may have been more stringent than necessary–and that people who embrace this conservative worldview may seem more justified (if not sympathetic) than Amp acknowledges.

  21. 121
    Ampersand says:

    Amp argued that, whatever the merits of this exercise for invoking a mindset, it is irrational because evidence demonstrates that people did not act in this manner after Hurricane Katrina.

    My point was also that Scott’s exercise doesn’t work, because many people don’t respond to the idea of a zombie attack the way he thinks we will.

    I mean, Scott predicts that “you” (the reader) will react by becoming extremely religious, and: “If someone looks like they’re doing something that might offend God, you’re going to very vehemently ask them to stop.” But I don’t think that would be my reaction. Would it be your reaction, Nobody?

    The point of the exercise, as I understand it, is to evoke recognition in the reader; to get the reader nodding along and saying, “yes, that feels accurate, I would act like that if the Zombie apocalypse were on, that only makes sense.” If reading Scott’s essay doesn’t evoke that response, then – at least for that reader – his exercise has failed.

    But I don’t have that feeling of recognition for much of Scott’s list. I think that’s because Scott is assuming that some responses are near-universal when they aren’t. Put another way, in his assumption that readers in general are going to read his description of how people act when faced with apocalypse and nod with recognition, Scott is making a mistake about human nature.

    That doesn’t mean that humans never act badly in a crisis. But acting in the so-called “liberal” ways that Scott says are a response to living in a world of plenty – generosity, caring for the stranger – is a normal and common reaction to disaster. I see no reason to think that would stop being true in a zombie apocalypse.

    (I believe that Scott was only trying to add some impish humor to his essay by bringing in zombies, rather than intending some deeper meaning. But it’s ironic that zombies – a metaphor for fear of invading hoards – is the example Scott chose. It is the “fear the invading hoards” mentality – rather than a universal human response to crisis – that encourages some people to become paranoid and ungenerous in a crisis. Or when they believe they’re in a crisis.)

    (I also don’t think Scott was attempting to say “this would only happen with zombies, and not with any lesser crisis.”)

  22. 122
    nobody.really says:

    I mean, Scott predicts that “you” (the reader) will react by becoming extremely religious, and: “If someone looks like they’re doing something that might offend God, you’re going to very vehemently ask them to stop.” But I don’t think that would be my reaction. Would it be your reaction, Nobody?

    Yes, Alexander’s hypothetical works for me; it puts me into a more conservative, tribalist mindset. (Moreover, that mindset was the overarching theme of The Colbert Report. Remember the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear?”)

    That said, I’s don’t have a gut-level grasp of Alexander’s religion thesis. Two possibilities:

    First, I understand that plenty of people, confronted with their impending mortality, DO turn to religion. Some combination of comfort in ritual, comfort in a view of the afterlife, and Pascal’s Wager, I imagine. And I guess some of those people might adopt a dogmatic version of religion. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Alexander is talking about.

    Second, perhaps Alexander is talking about religion as a marker of tribe. Imagine you’re an ISIS suicide bomber involved in a covert operation where the success of the mission and everyone’s life depends on absolute loyalty to the cause. Then your fellow suicide bomber says, “Ready to go! But, you know, I’m not really so sure about Sharia law. Honestly, there are a lot of scholars saying that it’s really more culture-bound than religious, and I think our Imam has really gone over the deep end on that one.” Given that everyone within earshot have staked their very lives–and perhaps their next lives–on the success of the mission, how much “free-thinking” do you think they’ll want to entertain? It might be a perfectly fine intellectual argument–but just at that moment, people don’t want to hear intellectual arguments; they want to hear expressions of loyalty and resolve. And loyalty to the success of the mission may prompt them to shoot that “free-thinker,” lest he be signalling something less that full support.

    This strikes me as perhaps closer to what Alexander might be saying. Perhaps I’m projecting. Then again, he’s a shrink, so maybe I’m just primed to think I’m projecting. Or primed to think I’m primed. This is getting complicated….

  23. 123
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    nobody.really,

    I don’t mean that globalism has NO effect on the labor market for unskilled workers without a college education. But there are SO many better ways to address the problems of this group than isolationism.

    We have an extreme amount of globalism already and many are pushing hard to increase it further, yet any demand to moderate it a little bit is immediately resisted with shrieks that this will result in isolationism, which is treated as an all or nothing proposition. Supposedly, rolling back globalism a little or even just keeping it stagnant will result in the apocalypse.

    It’s like a rich person complaining that even an 1% increase in the top tax rate will stop all innovation and entrepreneurship, as people then have no motivation to work hard, yet seeing no problem with a complete abolition of taxes for the rich and the resulting cuts in welfare and such.

    I constantly see a completely unwillingness to compromise by globalists who have this delusion that they are reasonable and moderate, yet who fiercely resist concessions to the already very disenfranchised victims of globalism. Then when the disenfranchised desperately throw a wrench in the machine (Brexit, Trump), the globalist wail and gnash their teeth, amazed that these people that they’ve dismissed in their hearts and minds for supposedly being bigoted and racist, which in practice seems to mean fighting for their own interests just like any other group does, manage to not lose each and every battle.

    These dramatics by those whom are heavily favored by the policies of the last decades make a total mockery of their dismissal of the concerns of the actually disenfranchised.

    Fact is that real wages have been stagnant for the lower class for decades. You can keep claiming that they shouldn’t vote for political outsiders because they won’t solve their problems, but after decades of failing mainstream politicians who promised hope and change, people are more and more fed up with their interests being ignored in favor of increasingly navel-gazing concerns of the elite. Clearly, one of the biggest problems of our society is that the small group of elite and rich CEO’s doesn’t have 50% elite and rich women. Judging by the attention this gets, this is considered worse by the media than the many deaths caused by the opioid crisis.

    When the lower class also feels actively disrespected and attacked for their norms and values, you can add feelings of being culturally oppressed to the feelings of economic oppression.

    The establishment just won’t get those votes back by more of the same:
    – denying the problems of globalization
    – proposing unworkable solutions (retrain as programmers, everyone!)
    – proposing solutions that go against the values and needs of the downtrodden (for example, many want decent jobs, not handouts)
    – treating poor whites as an afterthought, even though there are more of them than poor blacks
    – ‘progressive’ policies that favor the upper middle class and ignore the needs of or actually harm the lower class
    – etc, etc

  24. 124
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand-I think Scott’s point is that a long term disaster is different from a short term disaster. He writes “This is one of your long term zombie apocalypses”. And he talks about the need to cut down on funding non- practical science. And he uses the fall of the Roman Empire as an example.His point is that a short-term disaster is different from a period of scarcity lasting years- in a short term disaster people expect things to go back to normal relatively quickly and don’t have to make long term changes in their usual behavior patterns. Now that doesn’t mean Scott is completely right- just that short- term disasters aren’t good counterexamples.

  25. 125
    nobody.really says:

    [R]eal wages have been stagnant for the lower class for decades….
    The establishment just won’t get those votes back by more of the same:
    – denying the problems of globalization
    – proposing unworkable solutions (retrain as programmers, everyone!)
    – proposing solutions that go against the values and needs of the downtrodden (for example, many want decent jobs, not handouts)

    I find merit in much of what you say. Some thoughts:

    [R]eal wages have been stagnant for the lower class for decades….

    1. Who is this “lower class” that has experiences wage stag nation for decades? When you compare the income of people earning at the bottom 25th percentile of earners in 1980 to people at the bottom 25th percentile in 2016, you see growth—like, 120% REAL growth. That’s hardly stagnation.

    In contrast, when you compare people at the 75th percentile in 1980 to people at the 75th percentile in 2016, that income grew by about 45% in real terms. 45% over 36 years? Not quite stagnation, but certainly much more modest growth.

    99th percentile? About 75% real growth. That’s slower growth than those at the bottom. But don’t cry for them: Since the top 99% starts so high, even a mere 75% growth over 36 years captured 27% of all the wealth created over that period. In contrast, the bottom half of the distribution curve, while having relatively high growth RATES, only capture about 12% of all the growth over this period, because they start so low.

    Now here’s the kicker: As a globalist, I’m discussing income growth rates across the WORLD.

    So sure, we can acknowledge that the US working class is fighting against globalism. But let’s not pretend that they’re fighting for the “little guy”—‘cuz the little guy doesn’t live in West Virginia; he lives in China and India. Global capitalism has done more to eliminate poverty, hunger, and disease throughout the world than all the world’s charities put together. When we clamp down on globalism, it amounts to taking money from some call center guy in Bangalore, wasting some large percentage of it, and transferring whatever’s left to some guy in West Virginia. Is that really good public policy? I got no problem with helping the guy in West Virginia—but seriously, can’t we think of anyplace else to get the money than taxing call center guys?

    So here’s a crazy thought: Why not tax the gajillionaires who have benefitted from globalism—getting them to share some of globalism’s gains with those who have borne globalism’s losses? Doesn’t that seem like a fairer system?

    – denying the problems of globalization

    2. I don’t THINK I’m denying the problem of globalization. But I may see it differently than some people—thus, I may see problems with alleged “solutions” to the problem, and may see different solutions.

    – proposing unworkable solutions (retrain as programmers, everyone!)

    3. I love the idea of retraining people to become computer programmers. And yeah, it’s mostly been a bust.

    If you haven’t figured it out by now, the upper classes think education is the beloved solution for EVERYTHING. After all, THEY largely benefitted from education, and they project themselves onto others.

    Once upon a time, roughly 10% of people graduated from college, and they tended to get jobs in the top 10% of status (often top 10% of pay, but not always). Today we send 33% of our kids to college—and we’re frustrated that they don’t all land in the top 10% of status. Hmmmm….

    – proposing solutions that go against the values and needs of the downtrodden (for example, many want decent jobs, not handouts)

    4. Here we get to the nub of the problem: What is a “decent job,” and how do you imagine we should create them?

    In 1935, a Canadian politician William Aberhart complained that airport construction would take forever because the manager used men with picks and shovels rather than modern construction equipment. Aberhart was informed that the project’s goal was to create as many decent jobs as possible. Oh, Aberhart said, in that case, take away the picks and shovels and let them work with forks and spoons. (The story has since been become folklore, attributed to many famous people.)

    Today, nigh unto all airports are built with construction equipment—eliminating a number of “decent jobs.” Today I communicate with you via the web, rather than sending a letter—eliminating a number of “decent jobs.” Today I type my own work, rather than asking a secretary to take dictation—eliminating a number of “decent jobs.” Today I push my own buttons on elevators and pump my own gas—eliminating a number of “decent jobs.” Today I have machines that wash my dishes and cloths—eliminating a number of “decent jobs.” Today I drive a car rather than a horse and buggy—eliminating a number of “decent jobs.” Today planting and harvesting is done by machines—eliminating a HUGE number of “decent jobs.” And so on.

    Which of these changes should we reverse? And if we’re unwilling to reverse these, why should we reverse or stymie future innovation and automation?

    Donald Trump complains about the decline of US manufacturing. In fact the US has never manufactured more stuff than it does today. The problem is not with a lack of manufacturing; the problem is that manufacturers have found ways to produce with many fewer workers.

    Of all the threats to workers, the threat of globalization is dwarfed by the threat posed by automation. Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s Race Against the Machine (2011) describes how quickly the capabilities of software and robots are improving. Tyler Cowen’s Average is Over (2013) predicts a world in which all productivity is conducted by a small class of technical experts, and everyone else is relegated to a comfortable if undeniable second-class citizenship. Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots (2015) describes a post-work world with robots and machine intelligence running everything, triggering the need for a techno-socialism. Similar themes can be found in Thomas Piketty’s Capitalisms in the Twenty-First Century, Chris Hayes’s Twilight of the Elites, and Ryan Avent’s The Wealth of Humans (2016).

    But in truth, they were all late to the party. In 1930 John Maynard Keynes wrote Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren describing his view of how the economic future would unfold.

    At the time, the world was caught in a deepening depression. “We are suffering just now from a bad attack of economic pessimism,” Keynes noted. But Keynes believed that, once the world had overcome its Depression, growth would resume and living standards would return to the upward path they’d been on previously. He acknowledged that rapid technological improvement would cause some short-term discomfort (“a temporary phase of maladjustment”), but urged readers not to lose sight of the big picture:

    All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem. I would predict that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence will be between four and eight times as high as it is today….

    Keynes predicted that time spent working would dwindle to perhaps fifteen hours a week, and then to nothing. And the main problem humanity would face would be just what to do with itself in a world of abundant leisure.

    Thus far, Keynes has been right: Rich economies have already experienced at least a fourfold improvement in living standards. It seems likely that some, by 2030, will enjoy an eight-fold rise.

    But we achieve this astonishing productivity with ever less demand for labor. What are we going to do with this abundance of leisure? And how much longer can we stumble on, pretending that the labor market is a sufficient means for distributing the abundant wealth of our society?

    You say you merely want “decent jobs,” as if that were some small request. In an ever richer world, I can envision getting everyone an income. But “decent jobs”?—that may become the luxury of luxuries.

  26. 126
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    nobody.really,

    This topic is one where you can argue many different things depending on what statistics you pick. For example, one of the major causes of reduced incomes for less educated men in particular is them dropping out of the job market. They aren’t considered unemployed, as they don’t actually seek jobs, but that doesn’t mean that certain policies didn’t cause them to give up on seeking a job and end up in a dissatisfied state of ennui. So you get different findings if you look at the wages of the employed or the average wage/income of all people, including the non-working.

    In contrast, we see that women more often have jobs and work more hours, which is probably the only reason why less educated women have (seemingly) seen a smaller decline and/or less stagnation.

    We also see that differences between regions are huge. For example, Boston saw a 52% increase in earning per employee between 1970 and 2014, while Michael Moore’s Flint saw a 33% decrease.

    There are also differences between various periods. Basically, after WW II we had a huge increase in wages & living standards, which then started to decline. The more recent the period you take, the more people seem to be affected by stagnation/decline (if we ignore short term depressions and booms).

    Another issue is that inflation is now measured differently and may not reflect people’s perception of their buying power and/or quality of life. So the calculated ‘real wage’ may actually be higher than it is actually considered to be by workers. Or people’s wages may not even reflect their perceived well-being. If the most important thing that you want is a partner or friendship or respect or…, but societal changes have made these things less achievable, although your real income increased (a little), then you may be able to buy a new smartphone more often, but this may not feel like you are better off if this is a poor substitute for what you really want/need. When very large numbers of people are far more dissatisfied than they ‘should’ be, perhaps our measurements are not actually measuring the right things.

    When you compare the income of people earning at the bottom 25th percentile of earners in 1980 to people at the bottom 25th percentile in 2016, you see growth—like, 120% REAL growth. That’s hardly stagnation.

    1980 was in the middle of a severe recession, while 2016 was just when nearly all economic indicators regained their pre-recession levels. So your choice of period is going to overestimate wage growth.

    If you want to make a fair comparison, you need to compare two dates that are both in a similarly severe recession or are both not in a recession.

    Now here’s the kicker: As a globalist, I’m discussing income growth rates across the WORLD.

    Yes, I’m aware of the Elephant Graph.

    I think that the claim that the increase in living standards of the world poor is largely caused by (extreme) globalism in the West is mostly hubris. The transition in China to a far more capitalist and open system was independent of our policies (note that I’m in favor of moderate globalism). Without China, most of the rump of the elephant disappears.

    So I think that policies that benefit the top half of society get falsely legitimized by claiming that they help the global poor. Huge gains can be made in the second and third world, but largely by better policies in those countries, not empowering multinationals to exploit people worldwide and drive down their tax burdens at the expense of workers, concentrating people in a few overcrowded regions while large areas deteriorate, etc, etc.

    Keynes predicted that time spent working would dwindle to perhaps fifteen hours a week, and then to nothing. And the main problem humanity would face would be just what to do with itself in a world of abundant leisure.

    Thus far, Keynes has been right

    Yes and no. He was right that wealth would increase a lot. He was mostly wrong in his claim that we would or could translate this productivity into shorter working hours across the board. We are working fewer hours on average than in the past, although much more than 15 hours (actually over twice that many). However, working hours are actually correlated with productivity. The most productive people work the most hours, while the least productive work the least. This is the opposite of what you’d see if people would buy free time with their productivity.

    The most productive people typically don’t actually have a choice to work 20 hours a week for half a salary. Probably, this is because productivity is non-linear with working hours for most of their jobs.

    Increasingly, Western society is bifurcating into high-ability people that produce the vast majority of value and whom we burden heavily so their stress levels go through the roof & low-ability people that feel useless and worthless & combat this with various escapist means.

    The fundamental problem with Keynes’ idea as well as the common automation theory is that they ignore that solving certain bottlenecks just ends up creating/revealing new bottlenecks. The outcome of large scale automation is fairly predictable IMO: we become even more dependent for our wealth and progress on the work output of an ever smaller fraction of people, whom we need to have work 40 or more hours a week because their abilities to do the work that automation cannot do is crucial. We cannot spread this work out over the people who lost their jobs due to automation because they mostly lack the required talent. The combination of work hours and talent is the magic formula, lack either and you are not worth that much as a worker.

    A common proposed solution for this is a UBI, but the more generous that is and the less we spit on the jobless in general, the more the small subset of society that produces most value will feel that their burdens are unfair. If they scale down their effort, we all feel the consequences in slow progress and such.

    Some ‘rationalists’ are already thinking a step further, with their singularity fantasy, where they reason beyond mere automation to the full obsolescence of the human mind for labor due to the development of AI with superhuman ability. Then we burden the AI with doing the work, while we merely leisure/volunteer. This is then fully ethical, as the AI doesn’t have human complications like autonomous desires, stress, a need for love and such, so ‘exploiting’ it is not actually possible.

    A small complication is that this superhuman AI may not be feasible and if it is, is not going to be here tomorrow.

    You say you merely want “decent jobs,” as if that were some small request. In an ever richer world, I can envision getting everyone an income. But “decent jobs”?—that may become the luxury of luxuries.

    The solution to societies ills in the first 3/4 of the 1900’s was social democracy. It worked very well at first in large part because it allowed many more people to exploit their talents, which often went unused before. However, at a certain point the low hanging fruit was plucked and we started lowering educational standards to pretend that we are still making good progress in educating people better.

    The rise of SJ seems to be a response to the stagnation, where the lack of progress for certain groups is blamed on ‘isms’ (like racism and sexism), even though the evidence very strongly points to other causes.

    Of course, at this point you expect an answer from me, but alas, I don’t really have one. Of course, I would like to go to a post-work society, but I don’t see how we can get there in the short term.

    In many ways, Western social democracy has become corrupted along the way: excessive regulation that try to eliminate risks at the expense of huge burdens and other forms of cost disease, huge benefits given to large companies and/or the facilitation of tax evasion, excessive burdens on entrepreneurs, multiculturalism, excessive credentialism, etc, etc. We may breath some life back into Western societies if we address these, although it probably merely slows the decline (but buying time to a new paradigm shift can be immensely important).

    Ultimately, I don’t think it is or should be my burden to come up with the solution for the long term. My claim is that we are currently largely in denial, blaming the wrong causes for our problems. Lots of smart people are working hard on proposing and implementing solutions that cannot work, because the mainstream consensus about the problem(s) is wrong. As a society, we need to take a step back and honestly look at what (good) science actually shows (and if we lack scientific understanding, do more and better science to figure it out) & then actually work on solutions that address the causal mechanisms at play, rather than to make policy that works according to false theories and thus doesn’t work in practice.

    Sticking with the lies just makes our society fall apart, as people do notice that the solutions are not working (not just white Trump supporters, but also black Democrats and others) & will increasingly blame others.

    In other words, I want our society to dedicate its smart minds to honest and good problem solving.

  27. 127
    nobody.really says:

    [O]ne of the major causes of reduced incomes for less educated men in particular is them dropping out of the job market. They aren’t considered unemployed, as they don’t actually seek jobs, but that doesn’t mean that certain policies didn’t cause them to give up on seeking a job and end up in a dissatisfied state of ennui. So you get different findings if you look at the wages of the employed or the average wage/income of all people, including the non-working.

    In contrast, we see that women more often have jobs and work more hours, which is probably the only reason why less educated women have (seemingly) seen a smaller decline and/or less stagnation.

    A fair refinement of the data. Here’s one more: Over time, the paid workforce has become more female, more brown, and more educated. In other words, we should expect to see a disproportionate share of white, male, uneducated people dropping out of the workforce—‘cuz they’re retiring. To make some larger statement about the decline in labor force participation, we’d need to control for each segment of the labor force by age.

    We also see that differences between regions are huge. For example, Boston saw a 52% increase in earning per employee between 1970 and 2014, while Michael Moore’s Flint saw a 33% decrease.

    Again, fair enough. But what are we trying to measure? Say, discretionary income?

    America is urbanizing, with ever more people flocking to the big cities. One consequence is that the cost of living (especially housing prices) declines in rural areas/small towns relative to big cities. So we see a huge growth in salaries paid in cities relative to the rest of the country because employers MUST pay such salaries to attract a workforce able to pay the rent. “Earnings” are up in Boston and down in Flint—but the changes in discretionary income will be much smaller because the cost of living has skyrocketed in Boston and (I’d guess) fallen in Flint.

    (This fact makes it hard to establish a nation-wide minimum wage. $15/hr may seem ludicrously low in Boston, but ruinously high in Flint.)

    If the most important thing that you want is a partner or friendship or respect or…, but societal changes have made these things less achievable, although your real income increased (a little), then you may be able to buy a new smartphone more often, but this may not feel like you are better off if this is a poor substitute for what you really want/need. When very large numbers of people are far more dissatisfied than they ‘should’ be, perhaps our measurements are not actually measuring the right things.

    Uh … ok. But I don’t know what this refers to. Do we have any special reason to believe this dynamic is more prevalent today than in the past?

    First some things have gotten more expensive—education, health care—and others have gotten cheaper—intellectual property/communications. Many people would rather sacrifice ice cream than sacrifice their phones. Is this really a sign that people lack social connections?

    Second, compare women’s capacity to command respect today relative to the past. Now reflect that women are the MAJORITY of human beings in the US. Now let’s add men from various ethnic minorities. Now gays. Now nerds. Now disabled people. Etc. Etc. Given all of these changes, what basis would anyone have to conclude that society has experienced a net decline in satisfaction?

    [True, many women report less happiness than in the past, but this arguably reflects how people process questions such as “How happy are you?” The question provokes people to compare their current circumstances to their expectations. If your highest ambition is to become a wife and mother, there’s a good chance you’ll achieve it. If your highest ambition is to become president, there’s a good chance you’ll be frustrated in that ambition. But I don’t find surveys showing that these women want to return to a world in which their sole social role would be as a wife and mother.]

    I sense that less educated white males may experience some dissatisfaction over their loss of status and prospects. But I wouldn’t characterize that dynamic as a basis to jettison financial data as a proxy for welfare.

    When you compare the income of people earning at the bottom 25th percentile of earners in 1980 to people at the bottom 25th percentile in 2016, you see growth—like, 120% REAL growth. That’s hardly stagnation.

    1980 was in the middle of a severe recession, while 2016 was just when nearly all economic indicators regained their pre-recession levels. So your choice of period is going to overestimate wage growth.

    If you want to make a fair comparison, you need to compare two dates that are both in a similarly severe recession or are both not in a recession.

    Fair enough. But when averaged over a period of 36 years, how much difference does the fluctuation in the business cycle make? That’s longer than three Great Depressions!

    I think that the claim that the increase in living standards of the world poor is largely caused by (extreme) globalism in the West is mostly hubris. The transition in China to a far more capitalist and open system was independent of our policies (note that I’m in favor of moderate globalism). Without China, most of the rump of the elephant disappears.

    So I think that policies that benefit the top half of society get falsely legitimized by claiming that they help the global poor.

    An plausible argument. Anyone got any data on how much globalism contributed to the growth of developing nations, vs. internal reforms?

    Huge gains can be made in the second and third world, but largely by better policies in those countries, not empowering multinationals to exploit people worldwide and drive down their tax burdens at the expense of workers, concentrating people in a few overcrowded regions while large areas deteriorate, etc, etc.

    Again, not sure what this refers to specifically.

    [W]orking hours are actually correlated with productivity. The most productive people work the most hours, while the least productive work the least. This is the opposite of what you’d see if people would buy free time with their productivity.

    Is it? I think this pattern is precisely what we’d expect. As demand for labor declines, we’d expect to find people dropping out of the (paid) labor force in proportion to their productivity and affinity for work or leisure (unpaid work).

    The fundamental problem with Keynes’ idea as well as the common automation theory is that they ignore that solving certain bottlenecks just ends up creating/revealing new bottlenecks. The outcome of large scale automation is fairly predictable IMO: we become even more dependent for our wealth and progress on the work output of an ever smaller fraction of people, whom we need to have work 40 or more hours a week because their abilities to do the work that automation cannot do is crucial. We cannot spread this work out over the people who lost their jobs due to automation because they mostly lack the required talent. The combination of work hours and talent is the magic formula, lack either and you are not worth that much as a worker.

    A common proposed solution for this is a UBI, but the more generous that is and the less we spit on the jobless in general, the more the small subset of society that produces most value will feel that their burdens are unfair. If they scale down their effort, we all feel the consequences in slow progress and such.

    Yup, this is my thesis, too–except I don’t see the problem.

    Look, Michael Jordan was a singular talent. VERY few people could produce like he did. And when we found those people, we worked them as much as we could—even though there were a number of other people sitting on the bench, waiting for their opportunity. In short, the work was VERY unevenly distributed. Why did Jordan put up with it? Because we paid him massively with dollars and prestige. True, we also taxed him heavily, and used those revenues to finance a variety of government services. But Jordan continued playing nonetheless—at least, until the day he decided to hang up his shoes. And what happened to productivity then? Other great talents arose to take his place, and the game continued.

    In a world with very few jobs, each job will carry some prestige. Very talented, very rare people will compete for the honor (and paycheck) of doing them—even in the face of the option of just taking a UBI check. Yes, they’ll burn out from time to time—only to be replaced by other very talented, very rare people. Just as we see in professional basketball.

    The rest of us will have to achieve our sense of self-worth via some other means. But honestly, how many of us achieved our sense of self-worth by comparing our basketball skills with Michael Jordan’s? Most of us must endure the insight that we are not the world’s greatest talent or foremost authority regarding … well, anything. Yet we endure. I expect that we will face a very real challenge of filling our days. (As I say, there is no joy in having nothing to do; the joy is in having things to do—and then not doing them!) But that very challenge will drive people to compete for the honor of working.

  28. 128
    nobody.really says:

    The outcome of large scale automation is fairly predictable IMO: we become even more dependent for our wealth and progress on the work output of an ever smaller fraction of people, whom we need to have work 40 or more hours a week because their abilities to do the work that automation cannot do is crucial. We cannot spread this work out over [more] people….

    Women don’t step back from work because they have rich husbands…. They have rich husbands because they step back from work….

    The returns to working long, inflexible hours have greatly increased. This is particularly true in managerial jobs and what social scientists call the greedy professions, like finance, law and consulting — an unintentional side effect of the nation’s embrace of a winner-take-all economy….

    Just as more women earned degrees, the jobs that require those degrees started paying disproportionately more to people with round-the-clock availability. At the same time, more highly educated women began to marry men with similar educations, and to have children. But parents can be on call at work only if someone is on call at home. Usually, that person is the mother….

    Four decades ago, people who worked at least 50 hours a week were paid 15 percent less, on an hourly basis, than those who worked traditional full-time schedules…. Today, people who work 50 hours or more earn up to 8 percent more an hour than similar people working 35 to 49 hours….

    More jobs requiring advanced degrees are up-or-out — make partner or leave, for example. Even if they aren’t, work has become more competitive, and long hours have become a status symbol.

    For the most part, women who work extreme hours get paid as much as men who do. But far fewer women do it….

    Today, a smaller share of college-educated women in their early 40s are working than a decade ago[, perhaps because] highly educated women are more likely to have children than they recently were. Eighty percent of women in their early 40s with doctorates or professional degrees are mothers, up from 65 percent two decades ago…. In 1980, only half of women working in the 10 highest-paying occupations were married, and only a third had a child…. By 2010, they were slightly more likely to be married than other working women, and just as likely to have a child.

    Meanwhile, being a parent, particularly a mother, has become more intensive. Working mothers today spend as much time with their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s. The number of hours that college-educated parents spend with their children has doubled since the early 1980s, and they spend more of that time interacting with them, playing and teaching….

    Men are much more likely to have a spouse who’s on call at home, which enables them to reap the benefits of being on call at work…. Three-quarters of men in the top 1 percent of earners have an at-home spouse. Just a quarter of women in the top 1 percent of earners do — and they are likely to be self-employed, suggesting that they have more control over their hours….

    Conventional wisdom, especially in the greedy occupations, is that this is impossible [to have white-collar workers hand-off projects at the end of their shifts] — certain people are too valuable and need to be available to clients anytime. But some professions have successfully challenged that notion. Obstetricians, for instance, used to be on call when patients went into labor. Now it’s much more common for them to work eight-hour shifts in a hospital — and many more women do the job.”

  29. This Twitter thread, after yesterday’s synagogue shooting:

    I love this poem that @rmennies shared. Jewish poets, can we start a thread to share our work? Please share anything you want. Abrazos.https://t.co/4Ut1nECxIb— 🐎 Rosebud Ben-Oni 🔭 (@RosebudBenOni) April 28, 2019

  30. 130
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    nobody.really,

    To make some larger statement about the decline in labor force participation, we’d need to control for each segment of the labor force by age.

    Has already been done. The labor force dropout for men between 25 and 54 has almost tripled since the 1950s.

    One consequence is that the cost of living (especially housing prices) declines in rural areas/small towns relative to big cities. So we see a huge growth in salaries paid in cities relative to the rest of the country because employers MUST pay such salaries to attract a workforce able to pay the rent.

    They don’t have to pay salaries that match the cost of living increases if the labor supply for certain types of jobs is increasing compared to demand. Instead, those workers may have to deal with quality of life decreases. For example, they may be forced to live further away or accept smaller living spaces. One of the complaints of the yellow vests in France was that many people were caught in a vice between being pushed further from away from their jobs and a fairly sudden increase in the costs of fuel. So their slow decline in quality of life suddenly sped up.

    Or they may just give up, especially if they manage to get themselves written off in a way where they get decent welfare.

    Is this really a sign that people lack social connections?

    I didn’t say that the issue was a lack of social connections. It may be something more subtle, like (including) the quality of social connections decreasing as people increasingly play a role in their interaction in real life and are only honest and ‘real’ when anonymous online. Or people having more trouble with relationships. Or people having fewer children and having them later. Or people putting their children in child care a lot. But probably it’s a combination of a lot of things.

    Second, compare women’s capacity to command respect today relative to the past. Now reflect that women are the MAJORITY of human beings in the US. Now let’s add men from various ethnic minorities. Now gays. Now nerds. Now disabled people. Etc. Etc. Given all of these changes, what basis would anyone have to conclude that society has experienced a net decline in satisfaction?

    [True, many women report less happiness than in the past[…]But I don’t find surveys showing that these women want to return to a world in which their sole social role would be as a wife and mother.

    You are doing several common things:
    – Treating groups as all having the same desires, interests, etc.
    – Presenting the only options as accepting the current course or going back to the 50’s.
    – Arguing or implying that if we adopt more of certain progressive policies, things will get better and better.

    My belief is that policies tend to have returns like this. If you start at the left of the graph, then increasing those policies makes things better, but at some point the low hanging fruit has been plucked, which has two consequences:
    – The gains from adding more and more of the policy become less
    – The costs/negatives of adding more and more of the policy become greater

    Unfortunately, people tend to fall in love with policies, especially the kind of people who are most vocal, politically active, etc; and when they personally benefit (at the expense of others). So even when the policy becomes more damaging than beneficial, many people will keep fighting to increase it. This is especially problematic when the group that benefits is in power (like globalists). Note that my views perfectly explain the survey outcomes that seems to baffle many progressives: Western people being fairly satisfied with their current situation, but very dissatisfied with the direction things are going. This is exactly what you’d expect if you are just past the hump and things are steadily declining: people then don’t want to lose most of those policies, but don’t like getting more of them either.

    You claim that the majority of society now feels more respect due to progressiveness, yet if you ask people, they often don’t agree. I think that this is especially true because a lot of progressives seem to believe that saying rather nasty things about certain groups or policies is politically correct.

    If your highest ambition is to become a wife and mother, there’s a good chance you’ll achieve it. If your highest ambition is to become president, there’s a good chance you’ll be frustrated in that ambition.

    One of the consequences of the lies that we are being told about how easy men, whites, heterosexuals, etc have it; is that many people are being deceived into unrealistic ambitions. I believe that the ratcheting up of expectations is not merely an autonomous process, but strongly encouraged by the progressive narrative. This is also why so many people identify as victims, as this allows them to escape the high expectations: “You aren’t a failure, society failed you.”

    Yet this can very easily result in people ignoring the consequences of their own choices and getting angry at society, or worse, groups in society, for supposedly making it impossible for them to have it all.

    I sense that less educated white males may experience some dissatisfaction over their loss of status and prospects.

    Women too…

    Surveys and statistics show that women have a fairly strong preference for a partner who has equal or greater earning potential, even if they themselves earn a lot. Ironically, the greater workforce participation of women has reduced the wealth transfers from rich men to poor women and has reduced social mobility for women by way of marriage, especially for less educated women.

    The irony of progressive politics is that it enabled a far more harsh competition as you now have families with two high earners vs families with 1 or 2 low earners, which results in a larger gap than there used to be, when high earners used to exempt their wives from work.

    Black women seem very dissatisfied in particular. Progressives have been reasonably successful in redirecting a lot of dissatisfaction into anger at society, which gives the silly outcome that satisfaction about women’s place in society is declining as society is more progressive than it ever was and women are more free to make choices than ever.

    I think this pattern is precisely what we’d expect. As demand for labor declines, we’d expect to find people dropping out of the (paid) labor force in proportion to their productivity and affinity for work or leisure (unpaid work).

    It’s what I expect, but it’s not what Keynes claimed. He argued that the 15 hour work week would become standard. Earlier, you said that Keynes was correct…

    Very talented, very rare people will compete for the honor (and paycheck) of doing them—even in the face of the option of just taking a UBI check.

    I would argue that people differ in talent and motivation, where people can have one, but lack the other. You can now draw a Venn diagram, where the overlap is the people who are both talented and motivated enough to do the job and do it well.

    Historically, self-motivation hasn’t been sufficient to make the group that overlaps large enough for many professions, so we apply outside motivation. This includes rewards for those who do a good job and punishment for those who don’t. A large UBI takes away a lot of this reward and punishment, especially for young people, who have to make a lot of sacrifices to develop their talents.

    A large UBI only works if this has changed sufficiently and/or if we somehow manage to exert strong pressure purely by social means. I question very much whether we are close to that or even, whether we can ever achieve it. Ultimately, I think that the burden is on UBI advocates to prove that what was true in the past, is no longer true, which is and should be a tough ask, because situations rarely radically change where lessons from the past suddenly become irrelevant.

    The returns to working long, inflexible hours have greatly increased.

    Indeed and especially when combined with the greater investment in kids that you note, it is nearly impossible to combine such a career with raising kids, while retaining a certain lifestyle (although the rich can have others raise their kids for them). The well-educated are putting off having children pretty much as late as possible, given the biological clock. At that point, we see that women drop out of a high effort career at huge rates.

    The common feminist claim seems to be that this is the fault of men, who would allow women to have such careers if they would reduce their working hours and care more. I never see feminists note while arguing this that the returns to working long, inflexible hours have greatly increased and wonder whether the loss of income by opting out of that is actually considered acceptable, including to women.

    Men are much more likely to have a spouse who’s on call at home, which enables them to reap the benefits of being on call at work

    Which in turn means that the spouse reaps those benefits, as men make huge wealth transfers to their partners.

    Again, this is a part that feminists typically leave out, even though it is extremely important, because it can explain why women tend to accept these arrangements, where they work much less or not at all, rather than demand that they and their partner work the same hours and care equally.

    This explains the disparity between surveys where women say that they want their partner to care more and where men say they want to care more vs the actual choices that people make, where such a choice has serious consequences.

    But some professions have successfully challenged that notion. Obstetricians, for instance[…]. Now it’s much more common for them to work eight-hour shifts in a hospital — and many more women do the job.”

    You have to be careful with these examples, as an influx of women tends to result in changes to work conditions and compensation, in response to women’s desires. As women enter a field, you commonly see that non-monetary compensation increases, including reduced working hours, at the expense of direct pay. This often presented by feminists as being due to discrimination.

    So causality may be the opposite of what you suggest, where the influx of women came first and the changes to work conditions come afterwards. This seems to match the facts a lot better for obstetricians, as the increase in female workers seems to have come before the change in working conditions. Note that there may often be a feedback loop where a greater influx causes the job to be more tailored to women, which increases the influx of women, etc.

    Fact is that the vast majority of obstetricians in training are now women (probably in part because women favor this field and partly due to discrimination against men). There also seems to be a shortage in obstetricians and a far greater shortage predicted for the future. So if hospitals are going to attract the obstetricians they need, they will have to cater to these young female obstetricians. Obstetrician salaries seem to be below average, despite the shortages, which may be a consequence of this, with employers accepting less productive employees (due to reduced and/or more flexible working hours), but then giving less monetary compensation as a consequence.

    As long as the preferences of men and women differ, based at least partly on different expectations on men and women, the logical outcome is that there will be a lot of male-dominated and female-dominated workplaces, which each cater to the demands of that gender.

  31. 131
    nobody.really says:

    Do unions support public financing for campaigns? Well, yes and no….

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