Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Declining trust in our expert castes: what are underlying causes?

Having recently participated in the worldwide March for Science, I can only repeat my assertion that the "War on Science" is about a lot more than nerds and EPA grants.  You cannot name a fact-centered profession -- from teaching and medicine, to accounting and economics, to the U.S. military officer corps -- that's not under direct assault. 

Given that these professions created the vast profusion of wealth that uplifted our nation and planet, this is not a matter of classic "left" or "right." So how in the world did we get to this point?


In the recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Tom Nichols (professor at the Naval War College) appraises: "How America Lost Faith in Expertise And Why That's a Giant Problem." An incisive discussion -- from his book, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge

Nichols is cogent and on-target. But today I want to dig even deeper, down to the very roots of this phenomenon, showing that the War on Fact People is rooted in core mythologies that all Americans share! (Along with millions of others, around the world.)


I'll get back to that. But first, what some others are saying about it.


== Fear is key ==  


Let's start with civil servants.  “Declining trust in government has spread across nearly all advanced industrial democracies since the 1960s/1970s,” writes political scientist Russell Dalton: “Regardless of political history, electoral system, or style of government, most contemporary publics are less trustful of government than they were in the era of their grandparents.”  

This despite the fact that we are richer and better off by almost any measure you can name.

We all knew that Congress is the least trusted institution in American life, according to polls (yet, in each district, we keep re-electing our own crook.)  But surprisingly, churches have also taken a steep hit, and are now trusted by much less than half. Well, maybe not so surprising, giving the hysterical harpies who make up most of the boomer generation of pastors.  

Moreover “at last count, 1 in 4 Americans supports the idea of their state seceding from the union.”  Oy. What is driving this?


In a recent Stone Kettle blog, Jim Wright says: 

      "Conservatives, and many liberals too, have been conditioned by three generations of fear-mongering. It’s always something to be afraid of. Commies and Rooskies,  Red Chinamen and Black Panthers, Ebola, the brown horde south of the border, gangs and gays and atheism, with terrorists around every corner....

"75 years ago, in America’s darkest hour, a crippled man in a wheelchair told Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself. Americans hitched up their pants, squared their shoulders and faced their fears. Today? Politicians tell people to be afraid. Media networks  invent things to fear, from Truthers to Pizzagate. Americans are addicted... we wallow in fear. But conservatives own the market...."

Wright is a veteran with a tough, rural background and the sort who might, in a different setting, be amiably libertarian-conservative. But he is also science and progress loving, sane and hence deeply angry over the hijacking of American conservatism. Indeed, he is on target about the role fear plays in our civil war. I'll get back to it soon.

== Don't trust people who know stuff! ==  

All right. I promised a set of different perspectives on why tens of millions of Americans -- who benefited  spectacularly from the rise of science and other kinds of expertise -- let themselves get talked into bilious rage toward all expert professions. I've been exploring this for years. This capsule summary (with links) reveals hidden factors
:


1) Suspicion of Authority or SoA is the central lesson taught in almost every Hollywood film along with countless popular novels and songs, going back to the origins of the Republic. As a general reflex, this core mythology kept us free! No authority figures should be exempt. "Faceless bureaucrats" and "faceless corporations," snooty academics and zillionaire oligarchs. Any power center could be a source of Big Brother -- including elites you happen to like. 

And yes, in theory, one can imagine a technocratic dictatorship of nerdy know-it-alls -- pushy, conformist, patronizing perfessors. It's unlikely, for dozens of reasons! (Have you ever tried to herd cats? Now try getting ten million highly competitive, confidently curious and irksomely well-informed scientific "cats" to agree on an Orwellian agenda.) 


But sure, it's healthy for some citizens to express wariness toward that 'elite.' Even (ungratefully) toward all of the smartypants castes who engendered way more than half our wealth. Skepticism and criticism are fine.  Only...


2) One elite using another as distraction.


... alas, all this ire toward nerds-as-dangerous-oppressors is blatantly a scam! One that has latched onto Suspicion of Authority (SoA) as a propaganda tool. 


We've seen zillionaire oligarchs finance relentless propaganda -- on Fox and alt-right media -- aimed at riling millions into hating knowledge 'elites.' They accomplish this by stirring up that pre-existing SoA reflex to aim in just one direction. Never at neo-feudal aristocrats!  Always at the very fact-people who stand in oligarchy's way. 


(And just to be clear: there is a portion of the far-left that does the same thing.)

Flattery is a big part of the technique. Hollywood teaches us to admire authority-resisting underdogs!  So every American political movement (yes, liberalism too) portrays its followers as brave underdogs, striving for righteousness against the momentum of a majority that marches, lemming-like toward cliffs of tyranny. It brings to mind a comment by A.A. Milne.



The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. 
The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. 
The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. 


This "you are the brave underdogs" approach has been especially effective in neutralizing the Libertarian movement.  In theory, libertarianism - which distills the very core of Suspicion of Authority - should have offered millions of liberty-oriented Republicans a place to flee, upon seeing that their party has gone mad. Given that the GOP now stands for repression of both economic and personal freedom, this should have been a no-brainer. 

Yet, there has been no mass desertion of Republicans to the Libertarian Party. Those would-be recruits nearly all scurried 'home' to the GOP on election day, exactly as the owners of the LP - the lords Steve Forbes, Rupert Murdoch and the Kochs - intended, when they set out to suborn and buy the movement. 

Elsewhere I explain (and even deeper here) why those millions of libertarian-minded republicans have clung to a loyalty that makes no sense, while confident that they are the wise ones, and not tools.

3) An Age of Amateurs.  

There's a wholesome side to questioning the authority of know-it-all experts. As I explain in this video, the 20th century's professionalization of everything served humanity well, but could not continue. That vast trend is fast being replaced by an era when hundreds of millions will have side avocations, wherein they are almost as capable as their day-work. 


It's already happening with burgeoning expertise among amateurs, ranging from black-smithing to inventing to volunteerism to (yes) science!


Naturally, there will be an adversarial edge to this. People rightfully fear that scientists will act like old-time priests and lords and guild-masters, erecting barriers, preventing interested outsiders from joining the fun. And yes, at times we do see glimmers of old fashioned guild-protection. Fortunately, it's not substantial. 


Today's experts have been largely welcoming of the amateur trend. Scientists compete with each other to get on PBS shows explaining the latest discoveries! And there are now countless opportunities for citizen science -- ways for aficionados to get involved in projects in astronomy, biology, ecology and so on.


Still, suspicion of jealous, careerist exclusion lurks, and the oligarchy's propagandists have exploited it.


4) Back to fear


As Frank Herbert put it in Dune -- "fear is the mind-killer." One study showed that just mentioning the word death in passing will bias what fraction of people soon after are willing to sit next to a person of another race, or prioritize terrorism, or even listen to scientific facts. And yes, study after study shows that Republicans are more fearful than Democrats


Says Sheldon Solomon (author of The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life
in Human Mortality Denial and Terror Management: “When people are reminded of their mortality, they think more about money, alcohol, consumption, short-term satisfactions, close-in loyalties and chauvinistic politics.”

As I've described elsewhere, fear controls so many of our perceptions, such as where we perceive our "horizons."  
   Horizons of worry -- whether you fret over scraping together your next meal, your next harvest or how to preserve an ecosystem a century from now. Fear controls the range of worry.
   Horizons of inclusion -- whether you hunger to expand the tribal circle to include others... or resent constant pressure to do so.
   Horizons of acceptable change -- whether you dread/resent the modern flood of disruptions (and the expert castes who propel change) or else hunger to leave feudalism far behind us and seek a better tomorrow. Perhaps even inspired by science fiction. 

Going back to Jim Wright: "Republicans have been leveraging fear to get elected for decades, they’re coming for your guns, they coming for your religion, they’re coming for your daughters, they’re coming for your jobs, they’re coming for your way of life. Be afraid! Be afraid!  Trump was just better at tapping into that fear than anybody else."

Is this consistent with the bluster and macho preening of so many red-confederates? How can it not be? Blue Americans live in the cities that are terror targets, yet they mostly want to get on with life and big projects, aware that death-by-terrorist ranks way low on any list of likely dangers. 

Our parents in the "Greatest Generation" experienced more loss during any week than we have from the entire War on Terror. Our greatest defiance of terrorists would be to deny them our fear. 


5) The Strong Father.


Here's one that a few smart pundits have at least mentioned. The brilliant master of language, George Lakoff, tried to tell the Clinton campaign they were combatting Trump in all the wrong ways. 


They decided that the best way to defeat Trump was to use his own words against him. So they showed these clips of Trump saying outrageous things. Now what Trump was doing in those clips was saying out loud things that upset liberals, and that’s exactly what his followers liked about him. So of course they were showing what actually was helping Trump with his supporters."


Indeed, why would fundamentalist Christians support the most opposite-to-Jesus human on the planet? As I explain elsewhere, it is because he so galls and infuriates all the same people they also hate!


Lakoff continues: “All progressives and liberals have a moral worldview, what I described as the nurturant-parent worldview. (But despite his many anti-hispanic statements,) many Latinos voted for Trump. Why? Because “strict father” morality is big in Latino culture. The campaign was not looking at values. They were looking at demographics, and they missed the role of values.”  


Indeed, this is why I will soon post my big demand!  That the Democrats recruit 3000 retired U.S. Army and Marine colonels and Navy Captains to go forth and run in every deep red district in America.  We have stronger fathers - and tough mamas - in the reality-based community.  Strong enough to be calmly confident. Strong enough not to be hysterics. Strong enough not to be afraid of strong women.  Strong enough not to be afraid of facts and science.

6) The Old Switcheroo


Often, lies are rooted in truths. Take, for example, how propagandists justify the War on Science - and against every single knowledge caste - from teaching and economics to medicine and now the Officer corps. They begin by rooting it in an aphorism that everyone knows to be true!

"Just because someone is smart and knows a lot, that doesn't automatically make them wise."

Well, when it's put that way, I doubt you'd find a single human on the planet who disagrees. We are all delusional, at one level or another. Which is why science - one of the most competitive of all fields - teaches us to admit "I might be wrong."

Only watch the way the War on Science and Smartypants is conveyed on Fox etc. Listen carefully, and you'll notice that the aphorism is implicitly re-stated as:

"Just because someone is smart and knows a lot, that automatically makes them unwise."

It's not a huge leap... one that's easy to imply by leveraging all the other resentments (like SoA) described here. Of course it's also insane, which is why you never hear it said explicitly!  

How else could these svengalis get millions to reflexively despise all the folks who study and  understand ten thousand topics... including fine-grained, cellular, gas-vapor models that accurately model weather and climate on six planets? How else can they cast spite toward the men and women you will run to, when cancer looms?

I have found that the best way to fight this sneaky attack is to lay it bare, as I just did. And then to point out again and again that scientists are among the most competitive humans our species every produced.  And hence, whenever they actually do agree on something, perhaps it's unwise to ignore them.

Question scientists! But also assume that - till proved otherwise - they are wise.

7) Racism and bigotry

Some of you wrote in and -- okay, okay, I admit it -- old fashioned xenophobia, bigotry, prejudice and all that play major roles in the re-ignition of the Confederacy, our 250-year old fever that seems to boil up, once per generation.  The dark side of our force.

In fact, this falls under "fear" and limited "horizons" of inclusion.  But all that seems a bit abstract, in the face of a skyrocketing of nasty racist and anti-semitic attacks.

Still, I believe our average, conservative (red) neighbors are mostly good-hearted people. They don't feel racist, in their hearts, even if their habits are wince-worthy. Indeed, my final listed deep-motivation is a grievance that's based on real (if psychic) injury. Something that "we" in the North-Union-Blue-Urban America do to our neighbors, every single year. 

In some ways, we do to our red neighbors the worst thing you can do to another human being.

8) The June Trauma.

Underneath all the other causes for confederate hatred lies a grudge with some real basis. Something searingly traumatic that Blue America does to Red (or gray) America every year... 


...stealing their children.


What hurts is an annual brain drain. Every June at the local high school (the center of all life in rural towns), the brightest kids weep and hug and swear to keep in touch… then scoot away as fast as they can to universities and bright cities. 



See this portrayed in... Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild.

Those cities and universities and smartypants fact-professions thereupon, at a deep, psychic level, become associated with blandishment and the theft of hope! Quite essentially robbing small town America and Americans of their children.


The city as Mordor. The university as a witches coven. The "fact people" as satanic tempters and ruiners of good boys and girls. 


And yes, it is that bad. That is how they see us, kids. The very same cities and universities that created the wonders and medicines and toys and wealth that citizens take for granted... the cornucopia that pays nearly all the taxes and where urban populations soldier on, shrugging off the threat of terrorism... those glittering realms are viewed - with some cause - as child-stealing molochs.


Face the truth: it will do no good to use facts and evidence to show we aren't Sauron worshippers. Or that Blue America is in no sense less moral than Red America. Compare rates of teen sex/pregnancy, domestic violence, gambling, divorce, obesity, STDs, crime, bullying, and so on, then show us the purported rural superiority! Think about how urban Americans have been portrayed for all our lives, as rude, immoral, thoughtless, uncaring, deceitful, filthy, cowardly and unneighborly. (Well, that final one seems a fair cop.)  

 Sure we must confront lies and slander, but actual victory - resuming our confident, pioneering push into the frontier of tomorrow - will come only if we start by acknowledging these undercurrents.

There are ways to deal with each of these underlying causes... but we won't accomplish a thing by ignoring that they are there.


154 comments:

Carl M. said...

What people are sick of are demands to do serious lifestyle downgrades based on tentative scientific findings.

And then there is the gee-whiz popular scientific reporting which spews out reports on incorrect hypotheses and dead end technology on a monthly basis. This kind of credibility reducing noise predates Russian interference by decades. (Imagine making policy recommendations based on articles from Popular Science or Science Digest.)

Treebeard said...

At the end of an age, people lose faith in the old gods, old priesthoods fall and are replaced by something else. The gods of science and technology have reached some kind of cultural dead end, where their leading spokesmen are massively arrogant, spiritually bankrupt Dawkins/Krauss/Tyson "I fucking love science" types and tech moguls who warn incessantly of a dystopian future of human obsolescence via robot, if not full-on Terminator scenarios. Meanwhile, we hear hype about colonizing Mars but still haven't been past LEO for 45 years and counting. Scientists may have facts on their side, but what they lack is inspirational power, moral authority, humility and ability to connect to people outside their bubbles, and that's why they are failing.

Tom Crowl said...

I've been engaged in an email conversation with one of those fact-based, deep state elites

We were discussing the United Airline fiasco... and I'm attempting draw a parallel between that issue and things like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

That there's a commonality to them which stretches across the society (and on to Europe) which is related to the problems which large organizations have in maintaining Trust between the organization and the constituent/customer.

Is it possible that the problem of "elites" is exacerbated by wealth division... and that an economic elite seen as unjustified by accomplishment (I shared your post re the Yahoo pay package) and wealth disparity... can catalyze a more general distrust of both institutions and the intellectual elites needed to run them.

From my message to him on this:

"A few thoughts: looking at the problems of bureaucracy whether at an airline, the pentagon or anywhere else... (and we all have examples whether it about dealing with the DMV, cable companies or other large organizations)...

Is there a point where the system is simply unable to handle the scale? And are the scaling problems solvable? .

When I try to imagine working for the airlines as a flight attendant (or anyone who must deal directly with customers)... my bet is that I'd end up hating those I'm charged with serving... and its not much different as a passenger... I feel as though I'm simply a piece of meat getting the same level of consideration and respect as a steer on the way to slaughter. To a considerable extent management and the higher levels of the political class are sheltered from these issues.

(Jared Diamond wrote about this problem of isolated elites)

And that's simply because very rational economic forces can lead to a situation which is contrary to human well being whichever side of the equation you are on... employee or customer... especially when management can avoid the burdens which scale produces.

For much of the population its the same way when dealing with any number of organizations. Like you, I have some experience with the difference having a little pull somewhere can make.... more because of my ex-wife than any quality of my own (she came from very, very old money and her father was prominent in a major media corporation).

Tom Crowl said...

(cont)

My concern is that scale itself in human organizations is simultaneously inevitable but MAY be unsustainable... i.e. manageable up to a point but not truly 'fixable'... and will inevitably reach a point of beyond which it's problems cannot be adequately addressed... leading to either collapse... or perhaps more likely lead to corruption, stagnation and the death of a creative, innovative culture.

i.e. that in some sense and ironically human adaptability can lead to very pernicious states... we can tolerate a great deal of abuse.

Both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, as well as the growing distrust of institutions across Europe and the Western World share a relationship to the issue of a failure to address very fundamental and expectable problems that arise with scale.

The Tea Party largely blames the failure of government while OWS blames the private corporations. Both are right and both are wrong (in terms of understanding what I believe is the underlying problem, which is related to the social distance between the bottom and the top in a civilization.)

(to me its ironic that both OWS and Tea Party Republicans think the other side are idiots... when at root their issues are very much related to one another... and few seem to recognize that)

Moreover the problem is related to expectation! In other words, we in the West tend to believe in the importance of the individual... and we expect to live in a society that will respect that.

We're lucky for that individualist legacy (up to Ayn Rand who abused the concept).. at the same time both big government and big businesses are essential for at least some services and products.

Cultures can and have devolved back into closed, stagnant societies (rise and fall of Islamic culture?) and at least in some cases its the problem of failing to address the problem of an out-of-touch political/economic elite... which when under threat embraces forms of fundamentalism and anti-rationalism in order to maintain an unsustainable social construct.


So I'm arguing that unless we recognize that the issue in each individual case is related to a more general problem in the relationship between large institutions and the individual... creative, innovative culture is in peril... and will ultimately ether fracture or stagnate. (or blow itself up... which in some Jungian sense may be behind the success of the post-apocalyptic trend in movies and popular entertainment.)

i.e. there's a strong social desire for a return to the small, cohesive group against the world (or the superhero fixation which is similarly about empowering the individual in contrast to a world in which he/she feels powerless and overwhelmed.
(interesting that our first super hero craze arose during Depression.... another time when systems seemed to be failing.

However,there's no returning to those roots... so the dilemma is to satisfy the desire w/o destroying the large social body.

RE the guaranteed income...(another topic we were discussing) your points are valid and need to be addressed. I'll make that a separate message but I believe its a question of connecting a social safety net to accompanying social obligation and both a reality and perception of meaningful input mechanisms into governance.

(In other words maybe job guarantees and/or public service requirements rather than welfare)

Hence my support for the advocacy micropayment... which is not necessarily about offering wisdom from the bottom.. (though that's an important hope and expectation)... but rather about a pathway for its heat... which may be just as irrational as our CEO pay scales but isn't felt by the political classes.

David Brin said...

Yes Carl M. You hit it on the head: "What people are sick of are demands to do serious lifestyle downgrades based on tentative scientific findings."

I totally agree that a minority of silly and illogical Americans cluster around Big Lie propaganda rasputin outlets and guzzle exactly that koolaid message. You are right! That is what they are sick of.

Notwithstanding that the thing that they are "sick of" does not exist as a major phenomenon. Hurl all the fox-zoid anecdotes you want, those anecdotes about chiding, finger-wagging lifestyle police are just anecdotes, illustrating a silly-ass fringe that casts no shadow on the overall process or participants in science. Nor upon the majority who know that this is koolaid.

Hey Treebeard, will you stop raving and act like an actual man? With testosterone and equipment? And actually come up with statistical evidence for your spenglerian decline of the west? While you mutter and grumble about the senescence that fills your marrow, the majority of your countrymen are young at heart, taking on challenges that no other generation dreamed of.

Okay okay, we'll get off your lawn. Fart.

Tim H. said...

Consider the possibility that many that hold the levers of power, or have access to the ears of those who do, see no utility in anything that is outside their narrow field of view, excluding any endeavor with a payoff that isn't immediate, or primarily benefits those they deem unworthy. This doesn't make dreams impossible, but they will need to demonstrate their utility within the attention span of the gatekeepers, kinda' kludgy, but a real path...

David Brin said...

Seriously Carl M? You would nurse victimhood over a little chiding from a fringe? And let yourself thus overlook the massive oligarchic putsch that aims at destroying all elites standing in the way of feudalism?

Whoops. So much for libertarians liking competition. All hail the plantation lords!

Carl M. said...

There are times when the environmentalists make me want to puke -- literally. A couple years ago I dropped quite a bit of money on an expensive piece of shit dishwasher that doesn't sufficiently rinse the dishes in order to save water. I have to run it through a complete cycle twice -- the second time without soap -- in order to avoid wanting to barf.

A few years before that, I bought a new washing machine -- which doesn't fill up.

And you cannot buy a sedan with a full sized trunk any more without going antique.

These are material losses.

Meanwhile, vocal environmentalist Leonardo diCaprio flies his personal eyebrow specialist in from Australia...

Carl M. said...

Here's another one to ponder. Which is more unhealthy: 1. a bit of second hand smoke or 2. super tight "environmentally friendly" buildings that retain indoor air pollution?

I don't know the answer, but have a gander at the asthma stats.

I don't recall many classmates with asthma when I was a kid, and I grew up in tobacco country.

---

And just what constitutes a healthy diet? Methinks the science is still a bit unsettled. But that didn't stop George McGovern back in the 1970s.

Carl M. said...

I can remember when the liberals were skeptical of what scientists and engineers could do. Remember "You cannot hit a bullet with a bullet"?

Which is harder:

* Computing the trajectories of a few tens of thousands of warheads?

* Solving a system of nonlinear partial differential equations in four dimensions for the entire planet?

Hmmmmmm.

Carl M. said...

Slate gets it:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2017/04/the_march_for_science_was_eerily_religious.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_top

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: The logical flow from the first to the second of your points is quite sound, and these alone may suffice to account for where we are today. "We" tend not to focus on the effect of propaganda and advertising - most people assume they're immune to being influenced by such things, and yet, SOA + "manufactured distraction" = an easy formula to replicate, and are replicated throughout nearly all established media clusters (both the 'legit' and esp. the 'fake' variety).

FoxNews repeats the mantra that the FDA is killing off 'good' companies that create jobs -
while Reps ignore the workers themselves (and their failing pension funds), and toddlers needlessly dying. They repeat it enough times so that anyone who ever dealt with the FDA assumes they're evil...

The one factor you didn't refer to in your list, which I find most relevant, is demographics. Or perhaps you did refer to it indirectly, by discussing 'fear.' People in their 50s-70s look at mortality differently from folks in their 20s-40s. Boomers 'naturally' believe Medicare/Medicaid aren't 'big enough' to handle those "other" people, that social security probably won't be around in 20-30 years, that long term investments into science, education, infrastructure are futile...because they won't be around in 20-30 years to see the benefit. So get yours now...

"it will do no good to use facts and evidence to show we aren't Sauron worshippers...Sure we must confront lies and slander, but actual victory will come only if we start by acknowledging these undercurrents."

While I like the notion of recruiting colonels to exploit the 'father figure' yearning, perhaps the bigger goal ought to be empowering elders to participate economically - esp. in the age of robots. They physically CAN...but how many actually want to? How many want to because they enjoy contributing, v. those who need to because their retirement ain't what it used to be...?

A.F. Rey said...

So Carl M., did you buy your dishwasher and washing machine to solve the problem of Leo diCaprio flying his eyebrow specialist from Australia? Or did you do it for some other reason, like saving energy or saving water?

Those problems for which you bought those appliances are still there, and would still be there even if Leo hadn't wastefully flown his specialist. These are big problems that require large numbers of individuals to act together to solve. And while a few individuals may not follow the program at all times, they are basically negligible. It is the sum of the population that needs to change.

While the irresponsible actions of those who should know better are annoying, keep your eye on the big picture. The problems are real, and it will take real action from all of us to mitigate them. A few backsliders won't make a huge difference, and so shouldn't make a huge difference to you.

Carl M. said...

I bought a washing machine to clean my clothes. The old one was leaking and I was not aware that the government had ruined the basic top loading washing machine, a technology that was mature 50 years ago so that California would have enough water to grow vegetables in the desert.

I'm old enough to remember when they grew vegetables out east where the water is.

Carl M. said...

Time for some Democrat science:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wllc5gSc-N8

Duncan Cairncross said...

Carl M
You just didn't do your homework!
The "Government" has NOT banned certain washing machines
All that "Government" has done is to require the manufacturer to put a sticker showing how much water it uses on the damn thing
The reason than most of the machines use a lot less water is that the market then DEMANDS the low water machines

Do your homework and stop blaming "Government" for your lack of due diligence

The same with your "Trunk Size" !!

Carl M. said...

And then there was the time when idiot government agents invaded the family plantation placing flags around a wet spot in a field in order to declare it "wetlands". The spot was one of the highest points in the county. The soil had a high clay content.

My elderly cousin (once removed) armed himself and chased them off.

Dagobert said...

I bought a dishwasher and a washing machine in CA recently. My mom bought a dishwasher. We have not had any problems with any of them. Of course, we did a ton of research first. Seems like there are a lot of shoddy manufacturers out there these days.

LarryHart said...

@Carl M,

Ok, for maybe the first time, I see what you're railing against. Busybodying is an annoying aspect of (some) leftists, and it does become counterproductive when it makes enemies out of people like yourself.

What I would say in response is that weaker dishwashers (or toilets) and airtight buildings are not what scientists were marching about.

Carl M. said...

Duncan, it appears the market has responded -- maybe. I recall no "deep fill" option when I shopped a few years ago. After being stuck with the POS I have the only option I saw on the web was buy a Speed Queen and hack it.

I see a Maytag that fills up 14.5" with "deep fill" option. Still seems shallower than old school washing machines, but I'll measure my in laws' machine for comparison before I pass judgment.

For Trunk Size, you need to get a van or SUV. High wind cross section and people can look in the windows and see your stuff.

David Brin said...

Lively stuff Carl!

But...

Jiminy Carl, I live in California and I don’t have that dishwasher, nor that washing machine. In my experience, appliances are better than ever. They last longer, use less water, energy, detergent. (Though you do have to allocate twice as much TIME, per wash.)

And cars are spectacular examples of an industry competing vigorously at every level of price, quality and performance… WHILE meeting society’s arching goals of better efficiency. After the dems imposed CAFE standards in 2009, the rate of improvement of quality/price/efficiency only accelerated. It's almost incredible how much car you can now get for 500 to 1000 hours of work.

That’s not anecdotes. Them is statistics. It proves that industries who look longer term can adapt to politically negotiated societal goals in ways that are win-win-win positive sum.

Have you considered that perhaps the problem is you, not doing due diligence as a consumer?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Airtight buildings!

I remember when buildings used to have "air bricks" to ensure a minimum circulation!

But when I built this house I made it as airtight as possible
It is incredibly easy to add air circulation
And very difficult to reduce it
So the sensible thing is to build as tight as possible - then ADD the air circulation that you want
If you are in a cold place you can even do what the Scandinavians do and use the outgoing air to heat the incoming air

Trunk size! - I can get more in the back of my Legacy Wagon than any "full sized car" and my car is a fraction of the size
And again - its NOT government regulation that prevents you from buying huge horrible old cars just the fact that nobody buys such things anymore

Regulation = Things you ought to be doing anyway but are too short sighted to see

In the USA there are also regulations that are bought by lobbyists - you need to fix your system to fix that

David Brin said...

Sure second hand smoke was an overcompensation. That happens and sometimes my libertarian hackles are raised by paternalistic meddling. But again and again you toss out anecdotes and ignore statistics.

Jesus, you cite SOCIALIST PATERNALISM as a cause of athsma? Good God. How can any turpitude compare with the way companies conspired to hide data about the effects of lead in gas and in paints? Or the deadly effects of tobacco. (See how I - personally - had a role in getting the lead out. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/01/getting-lead-out-quirky-tale-of-saving.html )

“Socialist” meddling to alter market forces was totally legitimate in those cases. Along with the fact that we now have both whales and an ozone layer. And kids now eat fish caught from a dock in downtown Pittsburgh. Jesus man.

One thing correlates with less Athsma above all, growing up with a dog.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Carl M wrote: Time for some Democrat science:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wllc5gSc-N8

You -do- understand, I hope, that Rachel Bloom is a comedian, and not a scientist?

David Brin said...

But the following is just moronic, my friend:
“Which is harder:
* Computing the trajectories of a few tens of thousands of warheads?
* Solving a system of nonlinear partial differential equations in four dimensions for the entire planet?”

Feh! (1) They AREN’T successfully hitting the bullet with a bullet! That was the promise and it wasn't delivered, making it a legitimate focus of criticism. Criticism in which I do NOT take part, because --

(2) Most top scientists know it doesn’t matter. It's not necessary to hit a bullet with a bullet. The anti-ballistic missiles will work, anyway, for reasons I can’t say.

But you display the same darned anecdote obsession. The ABM system is not a core liberal cause. Indeed, many techno-libs favor nuclear power. Liberalism is not a uniform cult, like the right has become! Indeed, many libs shrug off fighting over ABM because it is a technology program and might bear fruit, some day. Those few dems who vigorously opposed ABM were legitimately skeptical and they are serving an adversarial function.

If climate “skeptics” were doing the same thing, we’d be fine.

They aren’t. The climate cult is obsessed with preventing science, with preventing policy from being informed at all by science. There is no comparison. They are not skeptics, they are insane cultists.

“Solving a system of nonlinear partial differential equations in four dimensions for the entire planet?”

Crap man, WHERE HAVE YOU LIVED FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS? That is exactly what the weather guys have done, in one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of all time. Their fin-grained, cellular gas-vapor dynamics models are spectacular! So much so that they expanded the old joke of a “4-hour weather report” into magnificent 10-day projections that reap billions in benefits for farmers, tourism, governments and so on.

These people know their stuff, Carl. They are vastly, vastly smarter than you. And yes, it gives them insight into climate. And yes, they are scared. Every. Single. One. of. Them.

David Brin said...

Okay, the “wetlands” thing can get offensively officious. So? Fight liberal over-reach case by case. Disparaging in GENERAL the movement that actually tries for a sapient look at problems is a damned silly extrapolation.

“I'm old enough to remember when they grew vegetables out east where the water is.”

Okay, now I know what happened to the old Carl M. He got old. This is just cranky get-off-my-lawn bullshit. California is the most productive place on the planet for many reasons, including cultural. And we pay plenty for water and STILL raise food more efficiently than anyone. And as weather and climate shift, the efficient methods we pioneer could save the planet. Anyway we compete well.

Dig it. We. Compete. Well. Libertarian. High tax California will take on anyone and beat em at any game.

LarryHart said...

@Carl M,

Are you seriously arguing that, because it's inconvenient for people to give up their lead and tobacco, the scientists who quantify the problems inherent in those things are the real problem?

Carl M. said...

If California wants to have no-flush toilets and no-rinse dishwashers in order to grow tomatoes, fine. What bugs me is imposing dry climate standards across the country. Parts of this country are wet -- very wet. In return for the humidity and the mosquitoes, I want plumbing that works.

I think the Old Farmer's Almanac could give a decent ten day forecast...for San Diego. Where I live the forecast changes every four hours on wunderground.com.

----

It's the smugness and double standards here that set me off. You have become a liberal version of everything you say you are against.

As for California, nice debt/GDP ratio you got there. Not as bad as South Carolina, but...
http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/state_debt_rank

David Brin said...

"What bugs me is imposing dry climate standards across the country."

Show us what specific Orwellian regs you are talking about? Fuggggg. Any civilization with a smidgen of prefrontals will apply mild, persistent and predictable market pressure toward ensuring that capitalism is incentivized in ways that we see looming ahead. That is called sapience.

There is a spectrum of legitimate opinion about sustainable tech. But any sane person knows we'll need more of it and it is wise to apply moderate market pressure to include EFFICIENCY -- alongside price/performance/quality -- as a parameter that is rewarded. And since consumers have been shown to be price-driven above all (since they have little money - the 0.001% have it all) then someone has to think 20+ years ahead and make efficiency something that companies seek.

You claim economic understanding, while revealing none. We don't know what wild swings the climate will perform and droughts are seen in Florida and Alabama. If you are going to ask companies to get more efficient, only some of that effort can be regional. Indeed, much of it must be international.

Oh no! The mean federal government - which is charged with looking beyond the 5 year commercial ROI horizon -- imposes some moderate market pressure for EFFICIENCY to be included as a product optimization parameter, along with price/quality/performance! How horrible! Oh, noooooooooo!

Only, it has worked magnificently in automobiles. And in home appliances, for those who are diligent enough to actually buy decent products.

"I think the Old Farmer's Almanac could give a decent ten day forecast...for San Diego. Where I live the forecast changes every four hours on wunderground.com."

What stunning bullshit! Weather forecasting is now a science of supreme subtlety and effectiveness, dealing with a chaotic system so well that it beggars the mind. That you cannot see this is just... well... sad.

"As for California, nice debt/GDP ratio you got there. "

Malarkey! CA does what any sensible government does. It borrows in hard times in order to invest and then pays down debt when times are good. Look at the rate of DECREASE of that debt ratio, fellah.


David Brin said...

"It's the smugness and double standards here that set me off. You have become a liberal version of everything you say you are against."

Okay, now you are at last being honest. You see me all on one side and are being ornery-contrary and I can dig that! But these are not normal times. I still aim barbs at the left! But they are not (yet) the danger to our entire enlightenment and nation and world and survival that the insane right and the lobotomized oligarchy are.

You think I want the left to BECOME as bad? They will! Google searches for "Karl" and "Marx" are skyrocketing. Do you want that bullshit back? It is where the microcephalic right is taking us.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Carl M., who peed in your cornflakes this morning? I don't remember you being this concentratedly curmudgeonly in previous posts. A little cranky, sure, but willing to discuss the things that made you so. BTW, my 2013 Honda Fit has more room in the back than any car I previously ever owned. I put a chest freezer in it that wouldn't fit in my old Taurus, and it usually gets 38 mpg highway. For toilets, get a Toto: low flush, and it handles anything up to what Dave Barry used to call an Act of Congress. American Standard not too bad either. All those things were developed in response to consumer demand, in addition to government standards. Not all the changes are bad.

David Brin said...

Oops, sorry, the average ROI horizon for most businesses is no longer 5 years. It's roughly one year. There's your sapience and wisdom of the marketplace.

Chris Heinz said...

Inspired by FDR, I wrote this song just before the 2010 election, which swept the Tea Party into power, beginning our most recent downhill slide. I should quite writing songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zROOus7DiFs

donzelion said...

Carl M: re the wetlands

I've heard some Rush Limbaugh nuggets on this precise point over the years - the 21st century replacement for rants about 'welfare queens.'

"My elderly cousin (once removed) armed himself and chased them off."
He drew a gun on federal government officials? They got scared, ran off, never came back with more guns? Unlikely, unless this was decades ago. Transparency and broadly shared knowledge today makes direct defiance of the government fairly rare, and fairly brief.

The EPA gets challenged in court all the time. Very rich people don't hesitate to call in legal guns to fight their battles - most folks can't drop $500k+ to do so. Hence most of the EPA works through 'voluntary measures' - e.g., your elderly cousin, like many others, may well have voluntarily claimed his own land was a wetland (for a tax deduction, special water right, or exemption from a mosquito control ordinance), then later on, discovered other implications from his voluntary claim (much more common with timber trust land, but happens in many other contexts).

The problem is that today, there's a platform to bash the government - Rush has a large cadre of hangers on. A respectable media outlet will let 'both sides' speak, but Fox & Friends have no such interest unless they can stack the deck (and bash the others that give a 'fair and balanced' hearing that doesn't fit with the dogma).

In this frenzy, a measure to ban gun sales to people who have attempted suicide gets presented as though it were a measure to break into your house and steal your weapons. A measure to keep toddlers from dying from air pollution gets presented as tyranny (even though most folks, if asked, would prefer not to kill toddlers).

And, for our host's personal concerns, the folks who can say, "Yes, XXX ppm of YYY chemical in the air is ZZZ% likely to kill ### toddlers per year" get treated as though they were simply espousing any other silly opinion.

Tim H. said...

Carl M., on the trunk space issue look more to the bean counters than the government, contemporary cars are designed to minimize the number of parts, eliminating a line of cars must've looked great on a spreadsheet. We may see something like the old full size cars return, I understand that there are businesses remanufacturing Ford Crown Victorias for police departments that don't find mid size and SUVs acceptable, and if there's enough demand, we'll see new full size cars again.

Carl M. said...

The trunk issue is due to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard. SUVs got classified as trucks. Tighten the standards for cars and people buy trucks instead.

And you are just plain wrong about the wetlands thing.

(The biggest drainer of wetlands was the government. Bigly.)

Carl M. said...

Here's a little thought experiment for ye: think of all the pop psychology that has come out in the last few years about priming, subconscious biases, and addictive technology. Imagine if the Republicans had come out saying the science is "settled" and called for reregulation of the entertainment industry like in the Hayes Code days.

I would expect quite a bit of "denial" from the other side. Maybe even some Tea Party style mentions of the Constitution.

Now suppose that Pat Robertson called for lawsuits suing defenders of Hollywood naughtiness for the damages caused by crime and broken homes.

locumranch said...


Knowledge & Wisdom are non-homologous concepts as those who possess knowledge are not necessarily wise & those who possess wisdom are not necessarily knowledgeable in the sense that knowing 'more' is non-equivalent to knowing 'better', the difference between the the two being experiential discretion and/or judgement.

A university degree in Child Psychology, for instance, does not automatically qualify said degree holder as a good parent, especially if said degree holder lacks in both maturity & real world experience, just as hard science knowledge does not translate as expertism in politics, sociology & morality.

Likewise, Expertism is non-homologous to Parental Authority as the parental latter assumes hierarchical authority over an infantilised & immature other & the expert former makes no such assumption in regard to parental authority or infantile subservience.

The correlation between Mortality & Conservatism is self-explanatory: Those who possess a mature knowledge of their personal mortality are less likely to trust their continued wellbeing to the judgement of even an expert other, whereas those who childishly assume personal invulnerability are more likely to hold all others as both harmless & trustworthy.

It follows that those who self-identify as progressives tend toward relational immaturity, being more likely to accept their subservience to the parental analogue of the Expert and less likely to assume either personal mortality or the parental reproductive responsibilities of the mature adult (leading to drastic reductions in birth rates), whereas the mortality-aware conservative is more likely to assume mature parental reproductive parental responsibilities & reproduce (leading to higher birth rates) and less likely to assume a subservient & infantile relationship with an expert parental analogue.

Best

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

In this frenzy, a measure to ban gun sales to people who have attempted suicide gets presented as though it were a measure to break into your house and steal your weapons.


Well, strictly speaking, the Libertarian position should favor allowing people who want to kill themselves to do so. Forbidding them from buy guns would be like forbidding hungry people from buying food.


A measure to keep toddlers from dying from air pollution gets presented as tyranny (even though most folks, if asked, would prefer not to kill toddlers).


As with the filibuster and (some day) the electoral college, the only way to get anything changed in this country is to get Republicans to make the change. Marijuana became legalized in many states when it stopped being a question of personal freedom over one's own body and became a way for cash-starved states to pull in revenue.

With that in mind, these issues have to be successfully marketed toward Republican goals. Since old white rural men (Republican voters) are trending upwards in suicides, maybe gun sales to that target should be limited in order to keep more Republican voters from removing themselves from the electorate. And the measure to prevent pollution from killing toddlers could be presented as a way of preventing post-uterine abortions.

Tom Crowl said...

From John Adams' :

"Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

If we understand that governments are inherently complex/chaotic systems we have to agree that collapse is inevitable... though in practice such a system at least theoretically can last longer than the universe itself.

Of course the same is true of a monarchy... though it can likely be more durable since it attempts to suppress chaotic elements and impose order.

Unfortunately, vibrancy in a civilization requires a tolerance for a greater degree of 'chaos' in a civilization.

SO... free societies are always more difficult and balancing between the fall towards anarchy versus the reach toward authoritarianism is a battle that literally CAN'T ever end.

Hence... Democracy is a preferred but very persistent pain-in-the-ass.

Right now we're drifting towards authoritarianism (hence a Dr. Brin as well as sorts such as myself... tend toward the left).

At another time (speaking for myself at least)... I might find myself drifting to the Right. I believe that's the way Dr. Brin sees it but I can't speak for him.

HENCE... any quasi-religious conviction in either direction.. is not seeing the larger situation.

Its about maintaining the balance (criticality).

Of course we all can and do disagree about which direction the civilization is moving at any particular time.

As is evident every day I turn on the news.

Whether or not this realization is usable in any rigorous sense... is a question for Hari Seldon.. but worth thinking about.

Tom Crowl said...

P.S. This is why I hate the question "Are you a conservative or a liberal? Left or Right?"

I literally don't know how to answer... on which issue? And do you mean today or tomorrow?

Tim H. said...

Carl M., partially correct, CAFE has indeed distorted the market and it's absence elsewhere in the world hasn't led to an explosion of gas guzzlers, but the market wasn't there to justify the new platforms needed for the old full size cars. Anyway, who sneaks friends into drive-in movies anymore?

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

If we understand that governments are inherently complex/chaotic systems we have to agree that collapse is inevitable... though in practice such a system at least theoretically can last longer than the universe itself.


Heh. A distinction without a difference? How is a system which will inevitably collapse, but could outlive the universe before that happens different (to us) from a stable system?


Of course the same is true of a monarchy... though it can likely be more durable since it attempts to suppress chaotic elements and impose order.

Unfortunately, vibrancy in a civilization requires a tolerance for a greater degree of 'chaos' in a civilization.

SO... free societies are always more difficult and balancing between the fall towards anarchy versus the reach toward authoritarianism is a battle that literally CAN'T ever end.


This sounds like the beginnings of the laws of psychohistory.

Tom Crowl said...

Larry Hart:

RE: "How is a system which will inevitably collapse, but could outlive the universe before that happens different (to us) from a stable system?"

Answer: The key word is "could"... and because it probably won't... its all about probabilities.

Think of our immune systems... they operate at a point called criticality... on when end failing to defend the system (those children forced to live in bubbles because their immune system is not working) versus the other end ... auto-immune disease.... (it works TOO much)

In fact our whole bodies are complex-chaotic systems... and they inevitably fail. VERY,VERY probably before the end of the universe.

donzelion said...

Carl: "Now suppose that Pat Robertson called for lawsuits suing defenders of Hollywood naughtiness for the damages caused by crime and broken homes."
I'm not sure if he did personally, but litigation against the porn industry (and Hollywood) was a staple of his fellows. Robertson's group worked on nitpick moral laws - ordinances on paper bags covering smut, zoning ordinances against movie theaters in general, pasties on strippers, g-string bans - etc. They protected the morality of rural America so thoroughly that now all those kids each June look to staying home with Mom & Dad and eschewing school to lead goodly lives that do not involve meth or opiates at all...(sarcasm)

"Imagine if the Republicans had come out saying the science is "settled"...
When Nixon launched the EPA, and Ford expanded it, Republicans did precisely that. Reagan thought they were being silly. Republicans didn't always hate science: indeed, the devil's bargain they struck with the God-for-sale gents didn't start until the '70s, and didn't fully dominate until the '90s.

"I would expect quite a bit of "denial" from the other side. Maybe even some Tea Party style mentions of the Constitution."
Possibly. I like to think that I'd have been out there denying eugenics from the beginning. But that was always pseudo-science.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

Now suppose that Pat Robertson called for lawsuits suing defenders of Hollywood naughtiness for the damages caused by crime and broken homes.


Point taken about Republican busybodying. Personally, I'd like to see a limitation on violent video games, but that's just me, and would probably get me kicked out of the Liberal Club.

More to your point, though, there is a distinction which should matter to libertarians. The Republican moralists want to restrict entertainment whose negative effect is to make people more likely to want to engage in harmful activity. When you start using government to control what might influence free individuals, you're treading on First Amendment stuff (if only the spirit of that law) in a way that I would expect libertarians to have serious reservations about.

OTOH, when you blame scientists for demonstrating a link between certain behaviors and certain physical-world consequences...well, the counter-example (to me) would be if I were to be a "gun denialist" who claimed that there is insufficient evidence that pointing a loaded gun at someone and pulling the trigger actually results in that person's death. What I mean by that is, the consequence of increased greenhouse gases is a warmer and more chaotic earth. What we want to do with that information is a socio-political question involving (among other things) cost/benefit analysis. But the physics itself is not political, and you can't claim that the scientists are acting badly because you'd be more comfortable not knowing what is true.

I might prefer to believe that my bishop which rests on a black square might be able to end up on a white square later in the game, but no amount of denialism or wishing will make it so, and a strategy which depends on such an outcome is doomed to failure. The experienced chess-player who explains that to me is not at fault.

Carl M. said...

Many other parts of the world that have auto manufacturing have high gasoline prices. This results in smaller cars without the boom in trucks and SUVs. (I actually favor high gasoline prices. Government needs money. Global warming might be a near term problem. Dependency on OPEC oil is definitely a current problem.)

That "market isn't there" thing is utter BS. The correct statement is "market isn't there enough to justify paying the CAFE penalties." Sell too many big cars and you pay a CAFE penalty on all the cars in your fleet. If allowed, Ford could sell plenty of Crown Vics.

--
P.S. has anyone here tried to drive a recent Toyota Corolla? What a clown car! (At least for someone six feet tall.)

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

Answer: The key word is "could"... and because it probably won't... its all about probabilities.


I know, and I wasn't arguing against you. Just pointing out that when you said "we have to agree that collapse is inevitable... though in practice such a system at least theoretically can last longer than the universe itself", you could just as easily have said "we have to agree that collapse is inevitable... though in practice such a system might not collapse after all." That's the distinction without a difference.

Tom Crowl said...

Another analogy is to the question of proton decay... some believe they must decay eventually (I'm in no way an expert in that area but I tend to agree)...

Though so far no experimental evidence or confirmation

But that the probability is so low and that decay is so rare that its still not measurable.

Democracy isn't as lucky.

Tom Crowl said...

Larry Hart.. got it... your's is a better formulation of the sentence.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Well, strictly speaking, the Libertarian position should favor allowing people who want to kill themselves to do so."
But not necessarily with firearms. Aside from the mess it leaves behind for someone else to clean up, there's always the risk of someone gunning others down during their exit. Many libertarians would accept a suicide regime (e.g., Oregon's, which I think is still unique in the USA) with certain restrictions.

"Marijuana became legalized in many states when it stopped being a question of personal freedom over one's own body and became a way for cash-starved states to pull in revenue."
I don't know any Republicans who endorsed it as a revenue raiser. More like the prison lobbies are in remote outposts (NIMBY), so deconstructing the Nixon/Reagan 'war on crime' rationale wasn't impeded by the same entrenched insiders as, say, lead in the air or water.

But I think I concede on your bigger point: somehow, one has to 'market' ideas to Republicans, in a world where a very specific type of marketing has taken hold and crowded out counter-programming.

Smurphs said...

Carl M said:

(The biggest drainer of wetlands was the government. Bigly.)

Absolutely correct. The Army Corp of Engineers is by far the biggest drainer of wetlands. But they are not doing it at the behest of the liberal, fringe, lefty environmentalists. Government is not the enemy, government is a tool. Just who is wielding this tool today?

Lots of things are wrong with our government, I agree, but your examples suck. If you want to complain about evil government, complain about gerrymandering; complain about money equals speech (i.e. legalized bribery); complain about corporations that MUST, BY LAW, work only for the interests of the shareholders, within the law but otherwise without ethics or morals, and yet, they can have religion.

Thousand of stupid or unnecessary regulations exist, I think we'd all agree. But the solution is not to burn down the entire nation (Steve Bannon's solution), or to just cut two regulations for every new one (Trump, nice sound bite but a little indiscriminate). We can do better.

To paraphrase our host, every once in while, you'll find some regulation that seems obscure, but when you look at it, you'll find some actually Wisdom behind it.

(Doc, sorry for mangling your work, it's been a long time since I read the Uplift War trilogy. Hmmm, might be due for a revisit this summer.)

LarryHart said...

Smurphs:

Thousand of stupid or unnecessary regulations exist, I think we'd all agree. But the solution is not to burn down the entire nation (Steve Bannon's solution), or to just cut two regulations for every new one (Trump, nice sound bite but a little indiscriminate). We can do better.


Trump's "two regulations" thing is insane. What if we were to turn that back on conservative issues?

"For every person you put in prison, you have to let two prisoners go free."

"For every drug or personal behavior you make illegal, you have to legalize two others."

"For every billionaire you appoint to your cabinet, you have to fire two more."

LarryHart said...

Smurphs:

Doc, sorry for mangling your work, it's been a long time since I read the Uplift War trilogy. Hmmm, might be due for a revisit this summer.


Great summer reading. A while back, I spent six consecutive summers reading each of the books of the two trilogies. (I like to savor my books)

You are familiar with the second Uplift trilogy, I hope.

donzelion said...

Tim H.: "partially correct, CAFE has indeed distorted the market..."

Depends on how one defines 'the market.' If one excludes the workers building the vehicles (as many do) then perhaps yes... From the mid-'80s through 2003, Detroit financed its worker pension plans with profits derived substantially from sales of autos to the Middle East (not the largest sales destination by volume - but the largest by profit margin by far).

But then, it would be just as accurate to say CAFE eliminated a market distortion whereby Arab customers subsidized investments into Detroit's various 'gas guzzler' lines by buying those cars exclusively (to take advantage of their own subsidized petrol), which in turn resulted in U.S. firms that were dependent on selling that sort of vehicle in order to pay off their ever-growing long-term debt obligations.

And that's not even getting started on the other forms of corporate tax support divvied out to the petrol sector in America...a subsidy that dwarfs any other sort of energy investment by far.

Tacitus2 said...

The notion that you need to get Conservatives - which is not the same as Republicans - on board to effect change is rather obvious really. If Progressives, to simplify quite a lot, are always saying "change more" and Conservatives saying "not so fast" then the synthesis of these viewpoints represents current societal consensus.

A messy, inefficient and frustrating way to run a society but arguably better than the other obvious poles.

And to comment on the initial post, it could better be called "A crisis of Faith". When an individual or a society is willing to accept certain things as "given" it is easier to move ahead. (Or back I should think).

Europe is out ahead of us in being a Post Religious society. But once you declare God is Dead you have opened the floodgates. What else in the way of things we can't entirely prove is fair game to be scoffed with the same disdain as is used for "Flying Spaghetti Monster" snark?

Political leaders and their Parties? Pah, hardly deserving of our Faith and Trust. Media that looks to be MiniTruth and/or dissembling rants? Nope. Science? Well that one gets tricky.

When things with a strong whiff of political agenda are put forth in a format that scarcely encourages insightful discussion they don't get much traction.

Toddlers and air pollution. Horrible. But have you drilled into the CDC data charts? Mortality in the 1-4 age group is the lowest of all cohorts. And per the most recent (2014) data is continuing to drop. Any small uptick would look huge but be numerically small. (but of course each case is a personal tragedy, lets not forget that). Linking air pollution to specific deaths. How? If obvious things like asthma have you controlled for smokers in the house, age of housing, racial variations in asthma rates? Lets look at availability of health care. And access. And compliance rates.

You get my point. Marching with silly hats and clever signs is superficial.

Work harder.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

The notion that you need to get Conservatives - which is not the same as Republicans - on board to effect change is rather obvious really. If Progressives, to simplify quite a lot, are always saying "change more" and Conservatives saying "not so fast" then the synthesis of these viewpoints represents current societal consensus.


Point taken, but that's a little different than what I was talking about. I perceive an ingrained bias in America that Republicans are "allowed" to do things (procedurally) that Democrats would be vilified for, because Republicans are perceived to be the real patriotic Americans and Democrats are perceived to be some sort of upstarts who have to be shown their place when they get too uppity. For that reason, when Bill Frist threatened to blow up the filibuster (including for legislation) in the mid-2000s, I was hoping he would actually do it. Because I knew that Democrats would never be permitted to do such a thing, but Republicans would, and once it was done, it wouldn't matter who did it.

I also believe that if a Republican ever wins the popular vote but loses the electoral vote, the Electoral College will be neutered the next day.

You yourself (yes you personally) once posted here that if Mitch McConnell perceived President Obama as a threat to the nation, he should do anything constitutionally allowed to obstruct that threat. But those who have (IMHO) better reason to see Trump and his Republican enablers as a clear and present danger are supposed to recognize that we lost and to bow to the electoral mandate.


You get my point. Marching with silly hats and clever signs is superficial.


Like the Tea Party? See what I mean?

Work harder.


That's the conservative answer to everything. :)

I kid, but kidding on the square.


raito said...

You know, way back in 1937 Dale Carnegie hit it on the head. And we seem to forget more of it every year.

The only way to make anyone do anything is to make them want to do it.

Nagging won't make them do it. Banning it will make them find a way around it. You must convince them to want to do it.

And that's what a lot of the article and subsequent comments are about. treebeard complains that scientists aren't convincing enough, and I can't disagree. Good at science, not as good as presenting it. Successful politicians specialize in convincing people they want to do womthing (at least as far as voting goes).

The idea of marketing ideas works on all sides.

It seems as though the US left prefers to nag (even wrongly). The right prefers to convince (even wrongly). The left appears to believe that using convincing tactics is coercion of some sort, or underhanded. The right appears to have no such compunction.

As for PhDs, at least, there's 2 (very) broad categories. The first insists on being called by their title, and believes that because they managed to get that title, they know about everything. Unfortunately, this category spends a lot of time talking. The other sort understands just what their title means. It means they've added to the sum of human knowledge (though it's not the only way) in some area, and that having done so does not automatically grant them expertise in any other area. Note that I say automatically, because many have managed expertise in multiple areas.

Things could probably be turned around by getting the first category to shut up, and getting the second to talk.

The company I currently work for is about 1/3 PhDs. Fortunately, all of them I interact with are of the second sort. And it gets interesting looking at which things I know that they do not, especially given what we do.

And I'm not surpised on the secession numbers. 'Blue' doesn't much like giving away their money. 'Red' doesn't much like giving away its future.

As for tight buildings, my house has a magic switch. It's located in the front hall closet. What does it do? It turns on the bathroom fans. Why is it there? For one value of 'there', it exists because the regulations say tight buildings must have a ventilation switch in order to be certified for something-or-other that no one really cares about except the builder who gets a tax break for building that way. FOr the other value of 'there', no one wanted a switch that apparently did nothing on their wall. So the builders lobbied for a change in the regularions to allow them to put it where no one can see it.

On my list of projects is a switchplate that says 'magic' on one position, and 'more magic' in the other ()for those of you old-school computer people).

David Brin said...

I was just driving in Europe. No cars have trunks anymore. It is hatchbacks all the way down. I learned why, driving the narrow roads.

Never saw a Tesla S there. Have you ridden in one, Carl? It is immense.

Some libertarians were enraged by motorcycle helmet laws and I kind of agree… you should be able to buy extra insurance or post a bod to settle the cleanup costs and trauma of onlookers when you spread gore and brains across a city block. Do that and I say let your hair blow free!


Tacitus: “Marching with silly hats and clever signs is superficial.”

Absolutely, my friend. It has to happen. The marching is necessary. But is accomplishes little.

What will matter is getting a million sane conservatives like you off your butts and angry enough to take your movement back.

David Brin said...

“As with the filibuster and (some day) the electoral college, the only way to get anything changed in this country is to get Republicans to make the change. Marijuana became legalized in many states when it stopped being a question of personal freedom over one's own body and became a way for cash-starved states to pull in revenue.”

Say whaaaaa? Except for Alaska, it’s all blue states doing the legalizing. And on average they are in vastly better shape, economically, than red states.

The rest was just bizarre.

David Brin said...

“Here's a little thought experiment for ye;”

Fun thought experiment, Carl, but that’s all it is. The libertarian mythos that “liberals want freedom of the bedroom and conservatives want economic freedom” is stunning bullshit. In fact, the right is responsible for destroying market competitiveness at every level. Their thumb on the scale for vested interests and oligarchy is outrageous. But they have cojoled LP’ist libertarians into worship of property, instead of competition.

Propertarian libertarians want tax cuts and fewer bureaucrats! The only threat to freedom and markets is government. Republicans are our fallback, hold-your-nose loyalty! Yippee.

Competition-loving libertarians know that all good things become toxic when too concentrated. Oxygen, water, food. And property. Concentrated economic power leads to cheating, which led to feudalism across 6000 years. Adam Smith denounced Oligarchy. The real tea party was against oligarchy.

Competition-loving libertarians want markets (and democracy/science etc) to have the maximum number of skilled and confident and eager participants. Read that again. And hence, uplifting all children from grinding poverty would be a worthy joint project using (yes) government… so long as that’s the outcome. (It has been the outcome, for generations.) Infrastructure and health and enviro regs are justifiable as enhancers of the number of fair market competitors.

Competition-loving libertarians would notice that our social order (not accounting for race/gender) was at its flattest under Rooseveltean rule sets. And that anti-monopoly enforcement can and does keep markets competitive.

Competition-loving libertarians can see that 5000 CEO cheating, reciprocally conniving golf buddies are no better a caste for “allocation” than bureaucrats are.

The Wells Fargo board of directors were just re-elected by the way. If there was ever proof that “private” means far less responsiveness and accountability than government, now you see it.

donzelion said...

Tacitus: I didn't drill into the CDC charts.

My frame of reference was directed at Michigan v. EPA (2015), which turned on whether the EPA erred in failing to count the costs of a regulation BEFORE counting the number of toddler deaths and issuing a rule (thereby acting 'unreasonably').

The EPA estimated that it's 2011 rule would prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 cases of asthma every year. The Supreme Court ruled that while the possible deaths are meaningful, (1) the EPA failed to duly consider the cost of compliance with the rule as written at the proper time (the EPA calculated a $9.6 billion cost, but didn't do so early enough), and (2) failed to consider that an even stricter rule (that would have cost orders of magnitude more) was actually the rule most widely endorsed by the scientific community (the EPA had adopted a 'compromise' position under Obama, not as strict as the initial recommendations).

I am unaware of any legit science that challenges the death toll - for toddlers and otherwise - but in the filings from the 29 states that opposed the EPA rule (including Scott Pruitt's), challenges were made as to who was liable. Some were facile. For example, one argument asserted that portions of those 11,000 deaths (yes, many toddlers in that number) failed to carve out "other causes" - like mercury poisoning from fish. Amici responded that fish often accumulate mercury eating other fish, who get exposed either in the sea or from water flows...(duh!).

But in Republican circles, the real debate was represented as "the EPA, acting on dubious science, is imposing a job-killing regulation!" The science itself was brushed aside. Inconvenient truths often are.

Carl M. said...

The government forced my bank (Wachovia) to merge with Wells Fargo.

Carl M. said...

Cutting two regulations for every new one is an arbitrary path to a goal, much like CAFE.

If the goal is burn less fossil fuels, you could:
* Drive a clown car that gets 50mpg
* Drive a big car but live close to work -- or telecommute
* Put more people into the big car
* Drive a big car to the public transport station
* Buy a Hummer and have Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, and a few other sanctimonious hypocrites pull it from their bicycles
* Drive a big car but have an energy efficient home

Jumper said...

Leading the wind power states is Texas. Leading the electric vehicle push is old Republicans in golf carts in golf course communities. Raito is right.

.........

As long as we are being curmudgeonly, how about those bathroom sinks designed so you have to bend at the waist just to wash your hands? How much sickness is caused by Pavolovian reluctance to wash one's hands due to the pain in the lower back from that awkward bending? Do we blame the ignorant working men, or the elites and their diabolical sink designers? Is it science or stupidity that caused this?

Paul SB said...

It’s sad how easily this forum gets distracted by one crank going off the rails, when someone else was writing about really interesting and meaningful things that are worth discussing. But instead we find ourselves engaged in beating off the same willful ignorance we get from Fox News, Hannity, Limbaugh and the like.

Tom Crowl brought up some very substantive issues, one of which is the surprising similarity between the loonies on both the left and right. Carl M. is illustrating one side – the right-wing blinders that blame the other side for everything (I, too, have a washing machine and dishwasher and have no problem with it, and my 2016 Toyota has plenty of trunk space – enough to pack luggage for my entire family plus my telescope – and meets CAFÉ standards [and I’m 6 feet tall, Carl, you’re blowing it out your anal orifice). This is not to say that we do not need to deal with fools who have drunk the kool aid of extremist propaganda, but when someone brings up real substantive issues, it would be worthwhile to explore them, and not just get completely distracted by the same old equine excrement.

Tom pointed out that the extreme right (exemplified by the Tea Party idiots) and the extreme left (the Occupiers) are reacting to the same problems, they are just blaming different institutions for them. The right blames government for everything while the left blames big business for everything. Reality is that both are to blame to a certain extent, but ultimately both are symptoms of a much more fundamental problem. Though he didn’t use the term “scalar stress” Tom basically hit it on the head. All systems – including social systems like a civilization – operate off of feedback loops, and those loops (+) often grow to the point of collapsing under their own weight. When that happens to a civilization – what we call the collapse of a civilization – it’s not pretty.

I would contend that if we don’t want to end up in the dustbin of history like the Roman Empire or the Shang, we should be concentrating more on dealing with our scalar stress problems. I have seen a growing trend in popular science books in the past several years. More and more of them are pointing out that human beings are not robots, they do not work well when treated like cogs in a machine (whether that machine be a government machine or a corporate machine) and we, as a species, would be much better off spending less effort trying to make our bloody hierarchies more efficient and more effort on making them more human. I am currently reading one that is looking at it from the corporate angle, showing how corporations that treat their employees and customers like human beings are actually more profitable than corporations that follow the rape-and-pillage model – Paul Zak’s “The Trust Factor”. It is a fascinating read, though as one of those commie pinko godless black and/or illegal alien vegetarian lesbian lefties, a book about corporate governance isn’t exactly what you would expect, is it?

The shift is already happening. It’s just a question of whether it will be too-little-too-late, or if people will start to get that the shift is what will allow us to survive and thrive in spite of the imminent collapse that would otherwise happen when doing the same thing harder fails to fix the problems created by doing the same thing for generations.

Tacitus2 said...

Donzelian

It is always interesting to see the legal perspective on things. But don't doubt for a moment that there is dubious medical science out there. The EPA has its agenda, and I say that with full appreciation for the work they have done - over an array of administrations - to improve air quality.

What I should have gone into more deeply but did not due to character limits, is the extent to which lots of medical studies need to be scrutinized so very carefully. Industry Sponsorship can shade all kinds of results.

Although Conservative in many ways I would, if given the reigns of power, start RICO proceedings against every drug company currently doing business.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Jiminy Carl: “The government forced my bank (Wachovia) to merge with Wells Fargo.”

Wachovia was a mismanaged mess and your interests were protected by the same government that has just protected you from having unwanted extra accounts added - against your will - by predatory Wells Fargo officials. The ones who were punished in both cases were not savers, like you, but Wachovia and Wells stockholders who failed to keep an eye on their corporate officers and who thus deserved the penalties.

The fact that they re-elected the WF board proves that the stockholders deserved the punishment. So, exactly what is your complaint, again?

Your list of energy saving options boils down to: “If we can see a need to become more efficient and use less fossil fuel, then the right approach is to adjust capitalist market incentives as generally as possible and let individuals choose the mix of efficiency savings best for them.”

Surprise! I am libertarian enough to prefer your approach! But that market incentivization then requires heavy taxes on fossil fuels. And removal of all the cushy tax bennies now enjoyed by fossil fuel exploiters. And pouring money into alternatives research.

But sure, leaving the details to markets and consumers is best.

donzelion said...

Carl: "The government forced my bank (Wachovia) to merge with Wells Fargo."
Would you prefer to just have lost your money when Wachovia fell, as in 1931? Wachovia personnel did nothing wrong, save those who managed the risk exposure. But a bank is a beast that lives on risk management (and pays salary to those personnel, regardless of the risks it imposes on others).

The libertarian approach to financial regulation was the norm until FDR. We had waves of starvation, civil war, massive systemic poverty, genocide...as did most of the rest of the world that similarly failed to regulate these risks. Britain could manage its risks by colonizing others (and making them suffer the consequences of miscalculations). As did most empires. It failed every time (but in failure, either a socialist revolution followed - or a feudal retrenchment).

"Cutting two regulations for every new one is an arbitrary path to a goal, much like CAFE."
Trump's "two for one" bargain is arbitrary. CAFE is not. The purpose of CAFE was to enable the US automakers to compete globally - without being forced by market pressure to reap the 'low hanging fruit' baked in through petrol subsidies in America (and certain other markets, like the Arab states), and thereby getting trapped into the same cycle of boom and bust that marked them for the previous 20 years. Since the federal government had just bailed them out (Ford indirectly, GM and Chrysler dramatically), there was pretty strong leverage for standards to be imposed.

Coal, on the other hand, is a totally different matter. Coal plant partnership interest holders (junior partners in master limited partnerships mainly) tend to be the richest folks in many rural areas - and they fought tooth and nail. And with Trump, they won a major victory - thereby securing their next vacations...

Jumper said...

"The government forced my bank (Wachovia) to merge with Wells Fargo."
umm, not exactly. The government in '08 was offering a lot of banks to not die of their own natural (fraud and greed) causes. We can learn about this from the internet.

LarryHart said...

raito:

And that's what a lot of the article and subsequent comments are about. treebeard complains that scientists aren't convincing enough, and I can't disagree. Good at science, not as good as presenting it. Successful politicians specialize in convincing people they want to do [s]omthing (at least as far as voting goes).


I'd say that Democrats aren't convincing enough.


It seems as though the US left prefers to nag (even wrongly). The right prefers to convince (even wrongly). The left appears to believe that using convincing tactics is coercion of some sort, or underhanded. The right appears to have no such compunction.


Hmmmm, not so sure I agree about the right. Certainly the left prefers to nag, or more accuratly, the left assumes that its own rightness will shine through and that persuasion is a kind of lowbrow activity which is beneath them. But the right? Well, yes, they excel at what Norman Goldman calls "branding and positioning", which are kinds of persuasion, your honor. So I'll give you that. But how many right-wing attempts just failed in congress because the voters were not persuaded and let their congresspeople know that?

Republicans convinced voters that Obamacare would kill them, or that Hillary was a threat to the nation. But they most certainly did not persuade people that they wanted to ban Muslim refugees, or that they wanted Obamacare repealed without a replacement, or (10 years ago) that they wanted Social Security to be privatized. Heck, they can't even convince enough of their own voters that they want a border wall.

Many high-profile Republican efforts have been driven by their donors and think tanks, and are not popular with the man on the street. In such cases, their powers of persuasion don't seem to work all that well.

Tom Crowl said...

Thanks PaulSB...

Its very difficult to get people interested in the "meta" issues that underlie the surface political issues that we all (including me) get caught up in.

I'm convinced its in the "meta" (i.e. what underlies our political fires rather than the fires themselves) where approaches to problems in governance must be found.

Neither political Party any more is interested in this (in fact they avoid it). SO... I'm pounding on the door.

I'm trying to be like an alien species looking down on the planet and is asking "Just what makes them act this way? Why do they keep sabotaging their own civilizations?"

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

“As with the filibuster and (some day) the electoral college, the only way to get anything changed in this country is to get Republicans to make the change. Marijuana became legalized in many states when it stopped being a question of personal freedom over one's own body and became a way for cash-starved states to pull in revenue.”

Say whaaaaa? Except for Alaska, it’s all blue states doing the legalizing. And on average they are in vastly better shape, economically, than red states.


Yeah, in hindsight the marijuana example was a weak one. Although I'd say that Republicans stopped fighting so hard against legalization when it was presented as a "states rights" issue.

The rest...well, back in 2012 when some Republican named Donald Trump briefly thought that Mitt Romney would win the popular vote but lose the electoral, he Twittered up a storm about how people should take to the streets in protest. Naturally, he didn't mind when he won the same way four years later. I get the idea that his supporters are right there with him in both instances without any congnative dissonance. I get the impression that the only reason the electorate at large accepts (if grudgingly) the notion that the electoral vote might go differently from the popular vote is that a Republican ended up winning, at least every time that it has come up since the Civil War. If it ever goes the other direction, there will be such a cry throughout the land that we will surely let the Electoral College go.

Apologies to Charlton Heston and Cecil B. DeMille. :)

donzelion said...

Tacitus: "What I should have gone into ... is the extent to which lots of medical studies need to be scrutinized so very carefully."

Conceded: SOA can be healthy.

But scientific authority is best challenged by other scientists. They're a competitive lot; they'll rip cheaters within their field to shreds. When non-scientists interfere as with the ridiculously disingenuous "fish cause asthma deaths, not coal" argument - they exploit fear and ignorance to shift costs away from those who impose them upon others (since scientists, by and large, are not bankrolling large litigation teams).

"Although Conservative in many ways I would, if given the reigns of power, start RICO proceedings against every drug company currently doing business."
Two thoughts:
(1) Prosecuting for RICO is notoriously difficult. A good defense will run a few million dollars, but these drug companies are no mere street peddler. Proving a racketeering claim would be orders of magnitude harder than proving racketeering claims against banks for the 2007 crisis - since most pharms are ultimately operating more like a 'bank' than a 'lab' (albeit handling items far harder to value than most collateralized debt obligations).

(2) Most drug companies would LOVE your approach - 'chase the bad guys on criminal matters - but omit those nasty tax and regulatory matters' While a few bad eggs get pursued by a zealous prosecutor, they can save hundreds of millions in 'stupid' regulatory costs...and offer a $5 rebate while raising prices by $500 for their latest delivery device.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I was just driving in Europe. No cars have trunks anymore. It is hatchbacks all the way down. I learned why, driving the narrow roads.


I was in Germany last summer, and we noted how popular the Smart Cars were over there.


Some libertarians were enraged by motorcycle helmet laws and I kind of agree… you should be able to buy extra insurance or post a bod to settle the cleanup costs and trauma of onlookers when you spread gore and brains across a city block. Do that and I say let your hair blow free!


Heh. The trick would be making the higher cost of insurance the norm, with a discount for wearing a helmet. Like the way smoking is treated now by employer health plans.


Tacitus: “Marching with silly hats and clever signs is superficial.”

Absolutely, my friend. It has to happen. The marching is necessary. But is accomplishes little.


Yes and no. It accomplishes little in the way of direct legislation, but as the tool of people who are without a majority in any branch of government, it seems to have accomplished the goal of putting congresspeople on notice not to do too much damage. So far, those marches have prevented Obamacare from being replaced with a much worse plan and kept the pressure on congress not to completely whitewash the Russia connections.

The Tea Party accomplished even more in their day using similar tactics.

Paul SB said...

Tom,

"I'm trying to be like an alien species looking down on the planet and is asking "Just what makes them act this way? Why do they keep sabotaging their own civilizations?"
- I've been doing this all my life. It's a thankless job, though, like so many efforts help our fellow hominids and steer away from the cliff. I'm tempted to type up a few excerpts from the book I referenced, as well as an earlier one by the same author.

Next question: since most of our regular commentators get that the left/right axis is stupid and distracting from the more substantive issues, anyone here car etc comment on those more substantive issues? Yes, I know we have very good reasons to be up in arms about our current dire political straights, but more and more it is becoming clear that it will mostly be bottom-up approaches that make the differences, as the top-down models are failing us miserably. Anyone have any ideas for how civilizations can reorganize themselves to meet the challenges we face today, and will for the foreseeable future? The old Aztec calpulli system probably isn't going to cut it.

Paul SB said...

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.
- A. A. Milne

I know we have some first-rate minds here...

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

The cost for riding without a helmet is not realized by dying in a crash. That's fairly cheap. It's turning from an animal into a vegetable that really costs. Sometimes for decades. That said, I recall getting the odd looks for riding at the helmet law rallies. In my helmet.

Jumper,

Worse are facilities where the sinks just don't work right. Ever have to wipe soap off your hands with a kleenex sized towel because none of those ultra-modern sensor faucets will actually turn on. Happened to my son in Chicago a couple weeks ago. At Shedd aquarium, which somewhat ironically has large posters on the walls near the bathrooms about how much water they save. Easy to save when you don't dispense any.

On the other hand, I lean a bit towards the idea that we mostly wash our hands after bathroom duties because the sink is there. No question that washing is good for sanitation. But even our high school toilets didn't grow much of a culture in biology class. That honor went to the end of the diving board.

Paul SB,

Part of the exhausting effort of moving forward is vigilance. It would be very easy to slip back to various dark ages. But what else are you going to do?

As far as human companies go, there's a few things. First, once the company is big enough, it no longer matters much what those at the top even want to do, if they're busy enough with other things that they don't impose their will on the culture. At my last job, it was both amusing and depressing to hear the founder expound on how glad he was that he was able to run a company that supplied the funds for so many people's lives (it had about 1K employees at the time). But he didn't appear to notice the absolute toxicity of certain departments until his ex-sister in law retired early. And even then, nothing got done. At that was at a privately-held company that didn't care as much about quarterly goals.

I think my favorite book in that vein would be First Break All The Rules, which I read because my wife was reading it for her MBA. A bunch of Gallup guys tried to figure out how to predict which business units would meet their numbers. They did their work, then set out to see whether they were right by applying their system to a large retail concern, where, in theory, all employees had the same resources, even if the size of their unit (store) and numbers differed. Their predictions were something like 90%(?)(anyway, well above change). And their method? Ask 7 questions of the persons at the bottom of the ladder. Don't talk to management. Don't talk to executives. Talk to the people who are doing the work. And the questions were ones like, "Do you have a best friend at work?" The following chapters after that were about ways to genuinely get positive answers to those questions.

As for the future, there may be something to the corporate structure of Robinson's Mars series. Workers own the companies. Management are contractors. Apply that to government somehow.

LarryHart,

Well, Democrats weren't convincing enough, too. But I wasn't talking about them. And, yeah, the GOP convinced enough to vote for them, but not enough to get some things done. If I were so inclined, I'd think that the voters figured out that old adage from Star Trek, 'having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting'. But I'm a bit skeptical that lessons have been learned. On the other hand, what exactly did they thing those guys were going to do once in office?

raito said...

Re: Banking

I'm still of the opinion that the correct reaction to 08 would have been to pump the bailout money into the FDIC, and let the banks fail. Possibly killing the golden parachutes along the way (which the bankruptcy courts might have gotten away with). The investors wouldn't have lost any money, assuming they had those sort of of accounts. The debts held would have been bought cheaply, and probably serviced by the same personnel (though some would probably have lost their jobs). Yes, the stockholders would have lost their investments, as well as anyone who risked their money in unprotected accounts. But investments sometimes fail. I'd need a better look at the numbers to know if it would have worked out on the balance sheets, but I don't see a downside.

See, back in 1998 when I was explicitly in AI, I was asked to figure out how to solve a problem. That problem was how to approve subprime mortgages over the net without human intervention. I figured out a lot of things while figuring out the central problem. One thing I figured out is that not one of the people I spoke to or asked about who actually approved those mortgages at the time could offer any explanation at all as to why they're approve one and not the other. I also figured out that the goal wasn't to approve only good mortgages. It was ot approve nearly all mortgages, and be able to point to the computer is the mortgage defaulted.

Incidentally, the technique I used was the Kohonen self-modifying map (which was relatively new at the time). How it works is to construct an n-dimensional space, where n is the number if input data per test case, and populate it with small random values. Then for every test case, you bias the space with those inputs. By the end, you have clusters of cases. You take your live case and figure out where it will land, and figure out what it's near. This was nearly perfect, as we have all the mortgage applications ever, along with the history of the ones that were approved.

Amusingly, the PhD founder of the company refused to use the method because, as he said, he didn't understand it. He wanted to wrote an expert system. Except that that usually requires that some expert be able to tell you how they make their decisions. The very thing the experts were unable to tell me.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

"... And their method? Ask 7 questions of the persons at the bottom of the ladder. Don't talk to management. Don't talk to executives. Talk to the people who are doing the work. And the questions were ones like, "Do you have a best friend at work?" The following chapters after that were about ways to genuinely get positive answers to those questions.

As for the future, there may be something to the corporate structure of Robinson's Mars series. Workers own the companies. Management are contractors. Apply that to government somehow..."

- Now that's the kind of first-rate thinking hominids need to engage in! I haven't read the Mars series (I haven't read much in the decade and a half since becoming a teacher) or I would try to speculate on ways to adapt his idea to government. Sounds like direct democracy, which is only really possible on the small scale of the old Swiss canton or with modern communications technology. Would you have civil servants be drafted like in the army, to prevent the development of an entrenched bureaucracy?

I remember our host bringing up objections to the idea of direct democracy, but it was awhile ago so I don't remember what those objections were. I barely remember what I did yesterday, or how to write a resume, so that isn't saying much, I admit. Hopefully he will have the time to remind us.

Jon S. said...

I wouldn't rely too much on the words of John Adams as to the properties of democracies. Remember, after all, that he wanted the office of the President to be entitled as "His Highness, the President of the United States of America, and Protector of the Rights of the Same" - and given his later actions (most particularly the Sedition Act, making it illegal to criticize any member of government) I'm quite certain he meant it to sound exactly the way it does.

Jon S. said...

Oh, by the bye, Dr. Brin, I recall your once recommending the webcomic Freefall (freefall.purrsia.com), just as they were beginning to dive into the issue of the rights of AI in a situation where the AIs outnumber the humans by rather a lot. I was wondering, however, if you've been keeping up, as I for one find the most recent issue raised highly intriguing. (The colony of Jean recently granted AIs full citizenship; in the latest strip, the question is asked - what should happen to the mechanical part of a cyborg when the organic portion dies? The particular cyborg in this instance is the Chief of Police, who for medical reasons is permanently bonded to his AI-controlled exosuit, Eleanor...)

donzelion said...

Raito: I cannot say what better course might have been in 2008 - only that risks of contagion were identified, and contagion effects have a way of spreading to vulnerable folks long before they hit stronger players in the money game. The big fish know how to shift the cost of their behavior easily - unless one believes in their magnanimity and steady foresight...I do not.

"But investments sometimes fail."
When a million dollar investment fails, the system sheds few tears - money popping into and out of existence at that level hurts a few families. But a billion dollar investment = massive contagion risk. And a $100 bn failure? Hard to be certain.

Lorraine said...

Carl M: What people are sick of are demands to do serious lifestyle downgrades based on tentative scientific findings.

You know what I'm sick of? Serious downgrades in employment and economic security expectations, based on the idea that risk management was somehow underpriced or oversold back during the golden age of bennies.

LarryHart said...

raito:

And, yeah, the GOP convinced enough to vote for them, but not enough to get some things done. If I were so inclined, I'd think that the voters figured out that old adage from Star Trek, 'having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting'. But I'm a bit skeptical that lessons have been learned. On the other hand, what exactly did they thing those guys were going to do once in office?


It's hard to think back as far as last summer and fall, but I don't think anyone thought these guys would be in office. That's why they could promise anything that sounded good. It's the political equivalent of "The Producers"--you can sell many times 100% of the shares in "Springtime For Hitler" knowing that it's a flop, but once it becomes a smash hit, you're in trouble.

LarryHart said...

Another example of procedures which are ok as long as Republicans are the ones doing them--deficit spending. Back in the Bush/Cheney days "Reagan taught us that deficits don't matter." Suddenly, on Jan 20 2009, deficit spending was the ultimate threat to our nation and had to be combated immediately, even in the midst of a Great Recession. Now, less than 100 days in, we're getting a tax plan from the Republicans which explodes the deficit, and the only issue being debated is whether to favor the rich or the regular guy.

No one is seriously discussing the tax plan based upon its impact on the national debt. Where are all of those Tea Partiers who frothed at the mouth over Obama raising the debt, but "Didn't like Bush doing it either"?

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Larry Hart: The Republicans are pressing to have the tax plan voted and passed on before CBO scoring, which is a violation of the law. They tried the same stunt with TrumpCare, and the scoring won't be nearly as bad as the Ryan abomination will have.
Expect it to add six trillion to the debt, over and above projected deficits over the same ten year period.

Carl M. said...

LarryHart -- I agree with you on the deficit spending! Bill Clinton deserves kudos there.

Though I think it is going to take a new political party to actually get a real solution enacted on that front going forward. There has been a LOT of interest in launching a new political party in this past year. (My guide on the subject is on the front page of the big G.)

David Brin said...

Parasitism at the top:
http://evonomics.com/no-wealth-isnt-created-top-devoured-rutger-bregman/

Carl you writhe desperately to avoid the plain fact that the Democrats should be the Libertarian hold-your-nose fallback ballot choice, replacing the Republicans.

The former agree with you on personal freedom and HALF of the democratic party is the most pro-market and pro Adam Smith force in American life. The only force fighting for market competition.

Sure, the other half of the DP is slightly socialist. Better fought inside the tent. And no where near as evil - in every libertarian sense - as the ENTIRE GOP has become.

Duh? Clinton kept his word as a Keynsian. Deficits to stimulate, in hard times... BUT SURPLUSES in good times. You can negotiate with an honest Keynsian. You cannot negotiate with a lying feudalist lord.

BTW Jerry Brown did the same thing.


Daniel Duffy said...

Nobody does a better job of exposing the deep divisions in this country than Chris Arnade:

https://medium.com/@Chris_arnade

>"We are a divided country, split along race and class. We are also divided by education. Front row kids, many with post graduate degrees, versus the rest.... The divide between the two is huge. It is beyond just living in different places, and voting for different people. The divide is at its core about having different concepts of value and personal meaning....The front row kids (who live in big cities and university towns) primarily find meaning through their careers, and hence through their education. It defines who they are. Their community, and their neighborhoods, are global. They moved towns often for their careers....The back row primarily finds meaning through their local community, and its institutions like church and sports. They live in places they have long lived in, and their families have lived in. They didn’t leave for education, didn’t leave for jobs....This is often by choice, many want to stay close to family, but it also because some have had to. Many had to stay to care for sick family, or because they fell behind early. Some had difficult childhoods. Grew up in a place that offered little chances at an elite education....Here is the big thing, the big change. The front row kids have won. Won really big. They now control the economic, social, political, and cultural agenda. They set the rules for everyone and have made some big changes."

His writing is heartfelt and his photos are heart breaking of rural and small town America in despair.

(cont.)

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

But I would like him to address three issues in depth that he only glosses over in his writings.

The first has to deal with the unwillingness of Trump supporters to buy a cheap bus ticket and go where the jobs are instead of “bitterly clinging” to those dead communities they value so much. Every American immigrant throughout history has picked up and moved, crossing oceans to get here and leaving ancestral communities, families and friends forever. Every pioneer did the same, crossing deserts and mountains and often dying along the way. African-Americans 100 years ago fled Jim Crow by hoping trains to Northern cities. My own people the Irish escaped famine and crossed the Atlantic on “coffin ships racked with typhus — only to find signs that said “No Irish Need Apply”. They held funerals for those who left Ireland because they knew they were never coming back. My ancestors lived in the worst slums and did the worst jobs until they work their way up.

I cannot think of anything more un-American than refusing to pick up and move to a better place — so no, I have no sympathy for people who refuse to do so.

Second, he needs to interview a few of those elite “front row” kids, not just the “back row” kids. Ask them why they have little or no sympathy for Trump’s supporters. I think you will find that these attitudes go back to high school when they were the unpopular nerds working hard to get good grades. We all know the high school reunion stereotypes: The former star quarterback is now unemployed and drawing disability. The former homecoming queen is now fat, divorced and living in a trailer park. The nerd that got wedgies in gym class is now a tech millionaire. The mousey girl who stayed home on Friday nights is now a celebrated author.

The front row kids don’t have fond memories of the back row kids and feel they are just getting what they deserve — how this has shaped their attitudes is something you should be exploring. For the past decade America has had a high school reunion where the former golden people realized that their lives suck compared to all those nerds.

So the 2016 election was basically "Revenge of the Un-Nerds".

Third he needs to look at the coming technological avalanche that is about to wipe out the rest of Red Rural America, not just coal country. Red Rural America does not have much demographic, economic or technological life left in it. The migration to Sun Belt states is to Sun Belt cities like liberal Houston, rural west Texas counties are actually depopulating — only a matter of time before it turns Texas blue. Most Red States, like Nebraska and West Virginia are losing population, leaving behind only very old uneducated white folks. As they say down South, nothing kicks harder than a dying mule. The 2016 election was that kick.

(cont.)

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

Economically and technologically, Red Rural America will soon have no reason to exist.

Got coal?
Nobody cares because fracking gas is cheaper and solar energy is now cheaper in most areas (the Chinese just cancelled 103 coal burning plants in favor of expanding their already impressive renewable energy industry — so overseas markets won’t save the coal industry).

Got oil?
Nobody cares because we will be driving EVs (Tesla now has greater market valuation than the Ford Motor Company).

Got cattle and livestock?
Nobody cares because we will grow meat from stem cells (its already on the market and the price of a lab grown hamburger patty fell from $300,000 to $3 in a single year)

Got farms?
Nobody cares because we are turning old warehouses into vertical farms in the hearts of major cities worldwide from Newark, to Singapore to London to Tokyo — growing crops 24/7/365 more cheaply without the transportation costs needed to haul fruits and vegetables
cross country.

Got farm labor?
Nobody cares because any remaining outdoor farming will be done with robots and drones.

Got small town manufacturing?
Nobody cares because we have robots, automation and algorithms that replace repetitive human labor on the factory floor and 3D printers that can customize batch production from anywhere.

Got a fishing boat?
Nobody cares because we will be harvesting multi-modal oceanic farms for kelp, fish and shellfish — and the fishing industry can finally advance from the hunter/gatherer stage.

A new technology — fracking — killed coal. These newer technologies will kill what is left of Red Rural America’s economy, leaving Blue Urban cities as the only source of economic growth and prosperity. Multicultural, cosmopolitan, globalist oriented cities based on advanced high technology economies with all sorts of non-white people from all over the world living in them. The “poorly educated” that Trump loves so much need not apply.

Within a generation all of Red Rural America becomes Appalachia.

It’s already happening, which explains the anger and despair of rural Trump voters.

Tacitus2 said...

Daniel

Much truth in what you posted. Change is always hard, always disruptive. And I don't doubt that those (of us) with conservative leanings are less thrilled about it. But there are some changes that Red America has embraced enthusiastically. "Phones" if you can still call them that, have made rural America much less insular. Fracking has transformed the economies of some very red states and is part of a resurgence in some ways of life dear to we Redsters. Farming. Actual manufacturing of tangible things. Heck, even the iconic family car. Where would they all go if oil were priced at whatever price surly middle eastern theocracies chose to set it at?

And change, with its bitter clingy effects, bites Blue also.

The internet has devastated the mainstream media that at least in recent memory has been very Pro-Democrat. Higher education, that other deeply blue industry.....where is it heading in an era when the collective knowledge (if not the collective wisdom) of humanity is a click away?

You could say that Change is achromatic, impacting Red and Blue, Black, Brown, White and whatever. But you could better speak of it as being Full Spectrum. It radiates everywhere, sometimes in far UV or IR spectra that we can't see directly but are having significant impact nonetheless.....

Tacitus

Carl M. said...

Actually David, the party that most mixes markets and egalitarianism is a religious party: the Solidarity Party. I dislike the name, and I fear that they might be too Georgist, but at the moment they are the closest party to me ideologically. (I left the LP ten years ago.)

----

As for R vs. D. The Horrible Ogre has given us a Supreme Court justice who is better on civil liberties than Obama's nominee. My would not be surprised if he gives us a carbon tax before he's through. (It will start as yuge tariff on OPEC oil.)

He may yet turn his horrible bluster into reality. But it hasn't happened yet. The D's are going into the same mode as the Troofers, Birthers, Faux News, etc. did under Obama. I see it here.

Putsch? Just who is violently suppressing speech at the moment? Who is spraying mace in the face of women who wear the wrong color hat? Who can't take a joke?

I didn't vote for Trump, but I found myself slightly relieved when he won.

(Remember, if that glass based lithium battery pans out, we will have mass quantities of electric cars before we get a consensus on global warming. Solar power is on the cusp as well. Dave Ramsey is saying nice things about solar panels as an investment. So chill out.)

George Carty said...

Daniel Duffy, what would you suggest be done to help the denizens of Red America (and Brexit Britain) who would dearly like to move to the opportunities of the big cosmopolitan cities, but are unable to either because they can't afford housing there, or because they are trapped by obligations to care for elderly family members who refuse to move?

What's wrong with Georgism, Carl M? Isn't the high cost of living in Blue cities one of the roots of how divided America currently is? Note that Paul Krugman's old split between "Flatland" and the "Zoned Zone" lines up very closely with the 2016 electoral map, with Trump winning Flatland and Hillary winning the Zoned Zone.

Tom Crowl said...

A point re guaranteed income and other forms of govt. benefits generally... as they relate to cultural unity.

(this may not seem connected to an anti-expert issue but it may be that anti-expert is related to a more general failure of a heterogeneous culture to maintain the sort of 'cultural loyalty' on certain critical cultural values throughout its sub-cultures)

SO... for consideration:

How might FDR's tenure and the history of the period been different if the plight of the unemployed been 'softened' by things like Food Stamps and H.U.D. subsidies?

Now I support these things... but its also fair to say that its the lack of them that pushed the desperate into the streets and threatened such disaster to the system that it could be said that THAT'S would made the reforms possible.

And that w/o those bodies in the streets force for change would have been insufficient.

Would it have blunted needed "heat-from-the-bottom" necessary to prompt reform? AND catalyzed an anti-expert sentiment?

On the other side of it... (i.e. "Would a guaranteed income make people become lazy and a work ethic would die...)

a recent piece of data (just an anecdote) offering a different question:

I've not a fan of the "royalty fandom" thing. I could never understand all the excitement about the doings of a bunch of people with inherited wealth being worshiped just for being born. And frankly I still feel that way.

But I recently heard that Prince William actually works 20 hours a week as a paramedic in an air ambulance service... a regular shift... sometimes middle of the night or getting up at 4 in the mornng...and while I'd never paid any attention to the royal crowd before... my opinion of him at least went up by miles.

Now obviously he's got a great "guaranteed income"... and has the option of quitting any time he wants... and most 'royals' don't do this sort of thing...

But what is the quality in him... and others with wealth who nevertheless work hard at various endeavors... that makes this his VOLUNTARY decision?

And how can it be engendered across the culture as a whole. I not only suggest that it can be done... but the un-natural condition is that its NOT the general cultural norm.

Carl M. said...

George, I am a semi-geoist myself. But I have seen a radicalism in the geoist community that resembles the Zero Aggression Principle radicalism in the LP. Some of them think McDonald's and Wal Mart are in the ground rent business. (Wal Mart *does* cash in on its positive externalities, just as many grocery stores do. Land becomes valuable because there is a Wal Mart sitting next to it: lot's of shopper traffic.)

More importantly, if you try to tax away ALL ground rent, bad things happen. I went through some use cases.

I am all for making real property taxes a bit progressive in order to bring back family farms and make independent homesteads affordable in the Blue areas. I favor externality taxes and taxes on radio bandwidth. I could even go for taxes on older copyrights.

But if you tax away all ground rent value you:
* effectively perform eminent domain without compensation for locals when outsiders "discover" a community.
* make it impossible to make money growing timber
* force all farmland into production -- eliminate private parkland (Virginia has an anti-Georgist property tax system, which results in beautiful country roads. Tradeoffs...)

And you don't fix the tax death spiral problem of aged cities. Ground is negatively valuable in the core of Detroit. Complete Georgism = no tax base.

And what do you do in general with land that has a market value less than its "unimproved" state? (This is common enough with clear cut forest land. Also a problem with contaminated lots and high crime areas.)

--
There is a justifiable reason for taxing human-created wealth too: fee for protection services. Even buying the libertarian notion of taxation=theft, such fees can be justified. If the government service is at least twice as valuable what the market would produce without government, then it is theft with adequate compensation. No social contract theory needed. No worship of a constitution written by slave owners. Same underlying moral rule as for private agencies. Yet no strident call for anarchy.

(Epstein comes close with his writings on proper use of eminent domain. I throw in a factor of two in order to make government operate by the same underlying moral standards as other players.)

---
I'd reserve the Georgist stuff for funding a basic income.

Paul SB said...

Daniel,

You made some great points here. I would like to add a couple more that in some ways complicates the picture, though. You can look at the tendency of rural red-state people to cling to their ways and to their locales in neurological and genetic terms. Neurological means oxytocin - people who live in small, tight-knit communities are usually much happier than people who live in big, anonymous cities, because a tight-knit community causes human brains to release oxytocin. Oxytocin is a serotonin agonist, meaning it causes the release of more serotonin, which itself is antagonistic to stress hormones like cortisol. This is why people who attend church (or synagogue, mosque, temple) regularly are generally much happier than those who don't. It's nothing to do with God, Jesus, Allah, Brahma, Krishna or Buddha, it's the community (Paul Zak makes the point that there are atheist groups that meet on Sundays like any church and get exactly the same stress reduction benefits as church goers). It's ironic that living in big cities, surrounded by millions of people, so often makes people feel isolated, increasing their stress, their anger, depression and in a vicious cycle their sins elf isolation. But on the other side of the ledger, the dwindling economic viability of small-town life is depleting their populations, as you point out, and impoverishing people who have relied on low-education, low-brain power careers. This is having the effect of shrinking those communities that in the past gave them the oxytocin they need to live mentally healthy lives. Most drug use, whether it is in the big city or your more recent rural opioid epidemic, is misguided attempts at self-medication.

But there is also a genetic component to this. I was just reading a research report last night in which they examined a gene for oxytocin, finding that there are two alleles in one particular spot (the classic Mendelian inheritance pattern called Complete Dominance) that make some people more sensitive to oxytocin while others are less sensitive to it. Guanine is dominant over Alanine in that location, so if a person inherits GG or GA, they have a relatively high sensitivity to oxytocin, while a person who inherits the homozygous recessive alleles AA has low sensitivity. Likely those people - like your Irish ancestors - who risked typhoid to cross the raging sea were people who were more likely to carry the recessive trait, but not universally, since extreme circumstances like famine can drive people to act against their instincts. I would bet that if you sampled the DNA of people who remain in small towns, you would find a lot of those dominant alleles. Likewise if you go to big cities and sampled DNA from people who attend church, book clubs, sporting events, etc. you would also find a lot of those dominant alleles. Modern transportation technology makes travel and migration so much less dangerous than in the past, so more people with the dominant (oxytocin sensitive) trait will have an easier time moving from their native communities.

Paul SB said...

Daniel con.t,

However, I suspect that our current economy, which makes mobility a plus for economic success, will tend to favor those who have the recessive alleles - more likely to pack up and leave to get better work, more money, and raise more successful children, passing on their recessive alleles. But there is another issue that your words brought to my mind. Those nerds who were bullied as children in school may be more financially successful as adults, but they also have higher incidence of mental disorders caused by the bullying they get in our barbaric, concentration-camp school system. Here's how the genetics plays out. People who have the dominant (G) alleles are more sensitive to oxytocin. If they have a happy, healthy childhood, they grow up to be happy, healthy people - probably people who go to church, book clubs and/or sporting events regularly and get their oxytocin needs met. But if they were bullied as children, abused, neglected or experienced trauma (and growing up in the ghetto is a catalogue of traumas), then they develop social anxiety, causing them to withdraw from exactly the social interaction that would give them the oxytocin that they need. This results in a raft of mental disorders like clinical depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD (it's not just soldiers who get PTSD - all it takes is to be very young while your parents chronically scream at each other). If, on the other hand, you are homozygous for the recessive allele (A), you don't develop the social phobia that leads to a life of misery.

Fun stuff, right? Sometimes you need to look at it in terms of population genetics, in addition to the factors people normally talk about.

Darrell E said...

Paul SB,

"It’s sad how easily this forum gets distracted by one crank going off the rails . . ."

An excellent comment, the entire thing, in every respect. I couldn't have said it half as well as you did, but by the time I reached your comment I was really motivated to try.

rayto said...

Daniel Duffy,

My high school experiences are much different than you portray. Then again, as I said, most of the professors children went to my high school. Being smart was a good thing there, and encouraged by the administration. Yes, I was the oddball, because I played football and was on the math team.

But when I finally was able economically to go to college, my second job was working part time as a bouncer at a local club. One night, a bunch of guys I went to high school came in. They were out of place, all of us being about 29 or so. The average age at the club were a lot younger. Now, these were guys I knew, but not guys I hung out with. I'd been in the same homeroom as one of them in sixth grade, had been in the same confirmation class with another, a couple were on the football team, etc. So just acquaintances. We talked for a bit about how our lives were going, and it came out that I was at the local university. One of them said that they'd always known I'd do well. I think he thought I was in graduate school or something. I did n't have the hear to tell him that I'd only just then made it to the university because of finances.

And I went to a reunion. Nothing like what you describe. But I was a bit miffed that the senator who I traded homework with couldn't remember my name.

George Carty,

I suggest that the movement should go the other way around. As has been mentioned, the internet has made some aspects of location obsolete. If there's a ready labor force available at lower cost, why is no business flowing back? Well, some is, such as Amazon warehouses and the like. But not all that much. I could see some internet space provider dropping some of those portable data centers somewhere rural, and training enough people to keep them going. And any heavy-duty sysadmin is likely to be remote anyway (as one example). On the other hand, I do recall that while living in Texas and looking for jobs in Wisconsin, an interview with a software company that hadn't listed its location. It was in northern Wisconsin, near to nothing. As you might imagine, they had a very hard time getting anyone to move there. They asked why, and I pointed out that they were the only such employer within a hundred miles. If things didn't work out, the only solution was to change careers, or move. And the tech generation has at least learned that lesson from their unionized manufacturing forebears. Multiple eggs, multiple baskets.

Tom Crowl,

The British Royalty generally isn't too bad. The Princes all end up with a stint in their Armed Forces. Sure, they end up pilots or other very skilled positions, but they are there. Of course, part of the reason is as an example, "What do you mean you won't? The Prince did..." And part of it is the realization of that Victorian Arthurian ideal -- those above are responsible for those below (As an aside from last time around on this, yes, Arthur's son was awful. But not all of the myths have Mordred as Arthur's son. And in none of them does Mordred succeed to the throne, though he does come to it illegitimately in some.)

Paul SB,

In the Mars series, one effect of contracted management is that the workers are both on the bottom and the top. They follow management's direction, but also elect the board of directors, which rides herd on management. In essence, this should be how our democracy works (though the direction comes from legislation, rather than management). But one difference is that the set of management companies is much larger, and compete more vigorously for the contracts, and can be dismissed at any time. Our current political management companies do have one thing they agree on completely -- no third party, no more competition.

Carl M.,

If Walmart wasn't in the ground rent business, why would they place such egregious restrictions on their abandoned properties?

matthew said...

Rayto - Oregon has a host of data centers out in Prineville, which is exactly as you describe. Rural, but close to very cheap power. Deep, deep red. Politically changing quickly now as Facebook is the largest local employer, followed by Google and Apple (not sure of the order of those two for second and third largest).

Carl M. said...

I don't know anything about Walmart abandoned properties.

What I do note is that Walmart frequently sets up in properties that could easily have been used by others years before, but weren't. But when Walmart did set up, the surrounding area went up with it.

A couple of examples (use google maps to verify):

1. Tappannock, VA. Town sprawl skipped over a low spot way back in the 1970s. Exurban development (Safeway and People's Drug (new CVS)) came and went long before Walmart showed up. Walmart built on the low spot and at the same time up went multiple satellite stores and a Holiday Inn.

2. Asheville, NC. Walmart reclaimed an EPA hazardous waste site. There was nothing but the abandoned Sayles Bleachery on the stretch of road in question. Today, lot's of satellite stores: https://www.google.com/maps/@35.5772943,-82.5144635,17z

As I wrote above, this business model is not unique to Walmart. I seem to recall reading that real estate was a major part of the movie business back in the Studio days. Build a theater and the surrounding land becomes more valuable because people are coming by to see a movie. Additional land value emanates from the theater; this is not hogging natural resources.

Both governments and private businesses can generate positive externalities which affect land values.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, everything you said is wise. And yet you ignore the unevenness in RAGE. Just as blue-urban folks who wear the terrorism targets on their chest shrug off fear of terrorism while red-rurals shriek, so it is toward change. Yes, change wreaks uneven effects upon everyone. Blue folks are likely to spot opportunities because their reflex is to view change that way.



Daniel Duffy, agree with you about that “heartfelt” message about our divide. Only I start even more offended. It is hate-drenched propaganda of the sort we’ve endured for generations. The snarling thugs who bullied the “front row kids” are now whining because they cannot bully nerds anymore and because their own kids are rushing off to college, too.

Oh, sure, what I just wrote was outrageously confrontational and unsympathetic and overly generalized a slur against non-college whites… and Chris Arnade earned every word. Because I did nothing more that respond in direct proportion to that SOB’s outrageously confrontational and unsympathetic and overly generalized a slur against college folk who created the vast tsunami of wealth and progress that Chris Arnade’s people enjoy.

I disagree a bit about farming. Urban growing of food will be a huge game changer, as will tissue culture meat and moving away from animal death (I still eat meat, but I know I won’t, at some point.) But farming will remain vital, just changed.


I give up on CarlM. He has fully drunk the koolaid that an anecdote, here and there, means more than any statistic. “Putsch? Just who is violently suppressing speech at the moment? Who is spraying mace in the face of women who wear the wrong color hat? Who can't take a joke?”

Anecdotes. Anecdotes. Anecdotes. Anecdotes. Anecdotes. Anecdotes. Anecdotes.

The GOP is systematically doing everything in its power, daily, to ensure total power to the oligarchy that Adam Smith denounced and that ruined freedom and enterprise in every single culture other than ours. But YOU are obsessed with a few screeching lefties shouting at wrong colored hats.

You do not stand for freedom or markets or competitive enterprise. You are a lackey, sir.

Existence Reader said...

@Daniel Duffy:

"Got cattle and livestock?
Nobody cares because we will grow meat from stem cells (its already on the market and the price of a lab grown hamburger patty fell from $300,000 to $3 in a single year)"

I was looking for a meatless burger, where can I buy it?

Carl M. said...

David,

So, do you support getting rid of the federal income tax and closing the Federal Reserve? These were put into place by a Confederate. (Wilson was more of a segregationist than Strom Thurmond.)

Sometimes I detect signs of intellect here. That's why I return now and then. Other times I feel like a Jew in a John Birch Society meeting.

--
Meanwhile, the not very Confederate Atlantic Monthly reports:


https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/a-chilling-threat-of-political-violence-in-portland/524334/

Anonymous said...

I cam to the realization recently that the striking difference primary between the two parties:

The Democratic Party: Wants to be effective administrators, and operate the general functions of government and society. They want to be the one to have the job, and do a good at it.

The Republican Party: Wants to wield power to limit their opposition, enrich them selves and game the system for themselves. They just want money, power, and be lazy.

Neither right now are particularly interested in actually fixing all the problems the rest of have to deal with on mass.

David Brin said...

"So, do you support getting rid of the federal income tax and closing the Federal Reserve? These were put into place by a Confederate. (Wilson was more of a segregationist than Strom Thurmond.)"

Stunning! He veers from proving aboslutely nothing by anecdote anecdote anecdote...

... to arguing by guilt by association? Wilson was a contradiction. So? We remember the postives as more significant than his negatives.

And the Fed and income tax CORRELATE spectacularly with the era of fast rise ofd flat-fair-open-competitive-startup capitalism.

donzelion said...

Carl M: Wilson was many things (racist, among them), but I cannot see him as a Confed, at least not in any sense our host uses the term.

As a Princeton don, he was hardly anti-science. His political science favored strong executive leadership, conceiving the presidency as a 'cockpit' (a notion that drew little support from Dems of that era). Women's suffrage, the federal reserve & the federal income tax, war in Europe (and use of military in Mexico), the Clayton expansion of the Sherman anti-trust act, and the rest were manifestations of a common Rep and Dem courtship of Progressives and an idealized sense that a strong country must have strong leadership that "did something." Scientific processes, administrative processes, and more were intended to fix problems that arose with the 'tragedy of the commons' - a concern that libertarians have immense difficulty addressing.

If Wilson was a segregationist, he was a 1916 segregationist - a man of his times, with limited interest in expanding contentious racial rights given role Dixiecrats played in the party. It would be a few decades before the Dems decided they didn't need to appease both Progressives and bigots.

donzelion said...

LOL, posted too late, but anticipated the argument. ;-)

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Oh, sure, what I just wrote was outrageously confrontational and unsympathetic and overly generalized a slur against non-college whites… and Chris Arnade earned every word. Because I did nothing more that respond in direct proportion to that SOB’s outrageously confrontational and unsympathetic and overly generalized a slur against college folk who created the vast tsunami of wealth and progress that Chris Arnade’s people enjoy.


Our side keeps being admonished that forceful language and such is "no way to get them to vote for you", as if we haven't been reviled as traitors and mongrels and not real Americans for decades now by those on the right who see no downside in insulting city-dwellers, minorities, and liberals.

LarryHart said...

Existence Reader:

I was looking for a meatless burger, where can I buy it?


Costco. They have bean burgers that won me over, and I'm the type who wants meat of some sort at every meal.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Our side keeps being admonished that forceful language and such is "no way to get them to vote for you", as if we haven't been reviled as traitors and mongrels..."

Indeed. Tactically, the device is comparable to the tactic of very wealthy folks convincing poor/middle class that lawyers are their enemy - revile them, ridicule them, sponsor a few of the worst sort to ensure that most in the middle despise/fear the group as a whole - and then use your own lawyers to steamroll the middle class and extract wealth from it. It worked so well for one knowledge profession that using the precise same measures against others - urban 'elitists,' folks with a higher education, immigrants, scientists - is a simple expansion of the existing apparatus.

I wish I knew a way to break that cycle. At the very least, acknowledging it is a start.

Carl M. said...

David's Scientific Method:

If it favors a Democrat, it is data. If it favors a Republican, it is an anecdote.

-----

In order to get a relief from the echo chamber thinking, I turned on a bit of Glenn Beck this morning. He and Mark Sanford were criticizing Trump's proposed tax reforms because they would raise the deficit.





Catfish N. Cod said...

@ Carl M.:

I'm not surprised. Sanford, being a mugwump in the system, doesn't have to kowtow to anything -- the Machine already hates him, he can speak freely. And Beck has likewise freed himself from hate to take whatever position seems best to him. The amazing thing about Trumptaxes is that from virtually every position except financial plutocracy, it stinks.

* It kills nearly all loopholes, so special interests hate it. (This includes many corporations and other upper classes.)
* It explodes the deficit, so anyone who actually cares about the deficit hates it.
* It likely is an effective tax increase on the middle class.
* It creates immediate and obvious tax loopholes to lower all wealthy income to the foolishly low corporate rate.
* It completely swings the tax code in favor of capital gains, massively tilting the system towards further consolidation of wealth.
* Oh, of course we have to kill the inheritance tax and promulgate dynasties again.

Will this spur some economic activity? Sure, for a little while -- but it doesn't even build infrastructure or lasting institutions, as borrow-and-spend would. It certainly does not move the nation in the direction of a Laffer equilibrium; any fool who actually knows the theory can tell that we are not on the negative-slope portion of the curve. If you want to know what the effect of Trumptaxes would be, look at Kansas.

The question is not whether this incompetency will last. The question is: whether there is some way we can avoid having a collapse of American economic, political, and diplomatic power as the mechanism by which the incompetency will be removed?

Much of the prodigious civil and governmental brainpower of this country is going simply into keeping the chaos in check. Even if successful, it ties up our resources simply in the tussle to keep the engine of American capability from exploding. I can only hope something good comes out of this in the form of new community and civil participation and institutions designed to prevent this sort of chaos from returning.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

David's scientific Method:

If it favors a Democrat, it is data. If it favors a Republican, it is an anecdote.


Carl's scientific method:

If the evidence demonstrates that Republicans are deplorable, then the evidence must be mistaken.

This Anonymous poster above has it right:

The Democratic Party: Wants to be effective administrators, and operate the general functions of government and society. They want to be the one to have the job, and do a good at it.

The Republican Party: Wants to wield power to limit their opposition, enrich them selves and game the system for themselves. They just want money, power, and be lazy.


No scientific evidence or data is going to show that one side's goals are superior to the other's. If you really believe your clade is the Master Race and that the rest of humanity is lucky to benefit from your leadership, then you're going to look at the same evidence that proves to me that your side is deplorable and come to the opposite conclusion.

Scientific evidence and data comes into play concerning how things work (or don't work). If your side wants to eliminate the national debt, but implements policies that blow that debt up instead, then the evidence shows you're being foolish. If you think the debt will be eliminated by reducing taxes via the appropriately-named Laugher Curve, then scientific evidence and data can show that your theory is sound or not sound. But you need a goal in mind in order to scientifically evaluate how to best get to that goal.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

* It creates immediate and obvious tax loopholes to lower all wealthy income to the foolishly low corporate rate.


Just as a normal middle-class individual, is there anything to stop me from incorporating myself and having all of my income taxed at the corporate rate?

Before gay marriage, I used to wonder if individuals could get around that by incorporating themselves and merging.

If corporations are people, my friend, then the corollary is that people are corporations. I think locumranch would have to agree with my semantics and logic.

David S said...

The problem with closing loopholes and lowering tax rates is that the congress that makes these changes has no control over future congresses. Future congresses are lobbied by special interests to put the loopholes back in (and not raise taxes to offset). Accepting campaign donations to create these loopholes seems to be part of the job description.

I'm not sure what you can do to prevent this, as it seems impossible for current politicians to put limits on the actions of futures politicians.

David S said...

Larry,

I believe one problem is that if you self incorporate, then you cease to be an employee, but a subcontractor and this creates all kinds of benefit and tax problems (employer supplied health insurance goes away, you become responsible for your own social security and medicare taxes [both employee+employer sides], you get a 1099 instead of a W-2, etc).

Labor law may not allow you to classify yourself as a subcontractor. If you employer sets your hours/manages your tasks/provides you the tools to do your work you are an employee. This means that your employer is required to follow labor laws about things like overtime compensation, provide healthcare (ACA rules regarding companies of a certain size, etc.)

Note: I'm not a lawyer.

David Brin said...

Carl's IQ has gone straight to hell: "If it favors a Democrat, it is data. If it favors a Republican, it is an anecdote."

No, son. If it points at a screeching imbecile who does not represent anything but a sliver or a faction, then it's an anecdote, whether it's Berkeley numbskulls shouting down conservative speakers or gool-ol boy rednecks doing sieg heils at Trump rallies. Both are disgusting. They prove nothing. Unless they get approval from the movement's leader. Or unless they are statistically provably significant.

Statistics are another matter. EVERY GOP administration has one priority and only one -- arranging for oligarchic raids on the economy. The Iraq Wars had two beneficiaries - Iran and Bush Cheney contract services companies. Supply side tax cuts poured wealth from our carotid arteries into open maws without once, ever, at all, even once, having the predicted outcomes.

Removing oversight from banks led to the giant S&L ripoff in the 80s and the vampire suck of the 2000s.

Name one major metric of US national health that did better across the spans of either Bush administration than across the spans of the Clinton and Obama admins.  You cannot. Nearly all such metrics declined - many plummeting - across Bush regimes. Nearly all rose, many of them by a lot, across both DP terms. The record of almost perfect mal-governance would make any sane or scientific-minded person flee the GOP screaming and never trust them again.

Clinton & Obama scored better in every category, including rate of change of deficits and military readiness and every sane conservative desires. Quibbling-wriggling-squirming will not change that.  And Clinton-Obama were sabotaged 3/4 of the time by the laziest and nastiest (GOP run) Congresses in US history.

Now I know I am wasting my time, trying to show the difference between anecdotes and statistically verified facts about a party's agenda. Not one of the facts that I have offered Carl either shifted him or prompted refutation from him. Because he cannot refute them and he cannot shift.

David Brin said...

This was my fault. Carl kept throwing up anecdotes about this or that prissy-silly lefty behaving badly and I kept answering with statistical and other demonstrable proofs that republicans (deliberately) suck at governance. We were comparing apples and bananas!

Moreover, since Carl cannot offer a single example of positive outcomes from GOP governance or policy, he HAS to stick with anecdotes.

Okay, son. If you really want, I will match every anecdote about some loony-frothing Berkeley pussy-hatter with a hundred anecdotes of neo-nazis, Klanners, oligarch competition destroying cheaters and pussy grabbers. Would a hundred to one do? Do you doubt that I could do it? Okay then, a thousand to one?

Put enough money down and I'll do it. You know I can.

LarryHart said...

David S:

I believe one problem is that if you self incorporate, then you cease to be an employee, but a subcontractor and this creates all kinds of benefit and tax problems (employer supplied health insurance goes away, you become responsible for your own social security and medicare taxes [both employee+employer sides], you get a 1099 instead of a W-2, etc).


I'm not a lawyer either, so caveat emptor. But let me try this out. Suppose you incorporate yourself, but separately still continue to work for salary and benefits as an individual. You take all of your income and use it to buy shares in your own corporation. Then, every time you spend money on anything (food, house, car, etc) the value of your stock drops because the corporation is taking a loss on its holdings. The capital loss on your stock offsets the income that you received.

I'm sure there are holes in there, but consider that a first draft.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

As Mr Spock said: "If I let go of a hammer on a planet that has a positive gravity, I need not see it fall to know that it has in fact fallen."

Likewise, if I hear of a Republican plan that claims to help the average American, I need not know the specifics of its duplicity to know that in fact, it is a fraud.

Carl M. said...

Liberal brain rot has set in. Sad.

Jumper said...

I'm no lawyer either, Larry, but I think most of what you propose is illegal... at least avoiding payroll taxes while doing this.
The tax code is complicated because of loopholes diabolically clever accountants have exploited in the past. This fact isn't complicated so my first impression of people who gripe about regulations is they were out to cheat someone recently and discovered why they can't.

I bet Saul of Tarsus heard some interesting stories.

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

I'm no lawyer either, Larry, but I think most of what you propose is illegal... at least avoiding payroll taxes while doing this.


I wasn't proposing that you'd avoid payroll taxes. Just that you'd end up being owed a refund based on your capital loss, which would somewhat offset your income.

I also acknowledged that I hadn't thought through all of the details.

But I don't think I suggested anything illegal. The more likely flaw is that the math doesn't actually work out in your favor.

David Brin said...

"Liberal brain rot has set in. Sad."

So it's down to tweet-growls? Not one statistic refuted. Not one assertion answered. Not one example of positive outcomes from GOP governance. Not one. At all, of any magnitude.

The confederate madhouse declares war on every single knowledge or fact profession... but it's "liberals" with "brain rot."

Ah.

Tim H. said...

As opposed to the conservative brain rot of simultaneously seeking "Big rock candy mountain" for the .01%, and constraining the government's ability to serve the 99.9%? Ever wondered if a government acting under the constraints desired by conservatives might find it difficult to project the power and influence that have been so profitable to the private sector? I realize much of that was mere debating points, but in the age of Trump, were liable to get them enacted.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

Liberal brain rot has set in. Sad.


It's not like we have any actual power over policy or anything, but history will prove us correct in our diagnoses. No doubt, there will be a lot of "Who would have thought xxx could happen???" where xxx is your evidence of brain rot.

LarryHart said...

With two days left, it sure doesn't look as if impeachment in the first 100 days will be a reality, so I take some small comfort that my predictive powers aren't as bad as I thought on November 9.

We might have to wait 1360 more days after all.

LarryHart said...

...sorry, I meant 1363 days. 1362 as of noon today.

Sorry if I got anyone's hopes up. :)

Paul SB said...

Darrell,

Thanks, it's always good to know that somebody appreciates my thoughts and words. I think that if more people were aware of both the genetics and the neuroscience of human nature, they would make better political choices - and Zak's new book is showing that they will also make better management choices. Who has not suffered under toxic management and seen how clearly that the toxic culture of American business is crippling us as individuals and ultimately society as a whole? Good scientific evidence refutes those ancient prejudices that are completely frogging up our lives and our country.

But this all too lengthy exchange with Carl M. gives the impression that there is little hope of ever making our lives any better. Every statement he made was refuted by several people, yet instead of being persuaded by facts he clings to baseless beliefs and resorts to childish name-calling. It makes me think that adulthood is a rare commodity in our culture. To me, an adult is a person who is not so insecure that they have to pick a clique and conform to it militantly in order to feel like a worthwhile human being. Too many people here are exactly like this. Dr. Brin is right that in terms of America's two major political clades, the one on the right has this problem much, much more profoundly than the one on the left, but the left has its emotionally insecure, militant conformists, too. I have encountered enough of them, but immaturity among right-wingers is so much more the norm it's hard to find a self-styled conservative who is mature enough to concede a point and accept the possibility that they might wrong about anything, anything at all. For some reason that particular party tends to attract the kind of people who freak out if you hang the toilet paper the "wrong way" in your bathroom, put the salad fork on the "wrong" side of the plate, dresses too casually on a Sunday (and they can't see how their anal-retentive habits completely contradict their loud claims to believe in freedom.

Zak says that we have a very bad balance between testosterone and oxytocin in our culture, but I think that is an epiphenomenon. My suspicion is that this imbalance - and the stunning immaturity that comes with it - is a result of our over-emphasis on personal freedom and undervaluation of the personal responsibilities necessary to keep any human society from crumbling into self-destructive factionalism. More proof that humans are social animals, not the "rugged individualists" of myth, will help, but there are huge swaths of people who simply will not allow themselves to be convinced of anything that contradicts the propaganda they grew up with. I see this as an emotional Sunk Cost Effect, meaning that they have spent too much energy insisting that they are right that admitting that they are wrong would be too embarrassing. So they resort to childish name-calling and ridicule, since logic and evidence don't work for them.

We can hone our rhetorical skills on fools like that one - or our more regular trolls - all we want, but the needle isn't going to move until people like Zak, De Wahl, Hrdy, Bronson, Klein, Principe and hundreds of other scientists who get it start influencing Hollywood and the TV/Internet producers. Good fiction, widely distributed through the visual media, will influence more people to see the obvious that their traditions deny.

Paul SB said...

Rayto (is this Raito getting a little more fancy?),

The Mars system sounds a little more sensible than how we elevate management to godhood/übermensch status. American democracy built a system of checks and balances into government through the Constitution, but neither of the other main power bases of society - business and religion - have these checks and balances, which is why they so easily corrupt government. They are themselves so easily corrupted from within. You said that management can be dismissed in that system, but not by whom.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Carl M wrote: "If it favors a Democrat, it is data. If it favors a Republican, it is an anecdote."

You'll have to show some examples of Republican scientific rigour. You know, like holding a snowball in the Senate in January and saying this disproves global warming.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

To me, an adult is a person who is not so insecure that they have to pick a clique and conform to it militantly in order to feel like a worthwhile human being. Too many people here are exactly like this.


They'll just throw the accusation back at us: "You just militantly conform to your clique of 'those who don't pick a clique and conform to it militantly', while refusing to credit the point of view of those who do pick a clique and conform to it militantly."

It's a version of Russel's paradox--if X is defined as "the set of all sets which do not contain themselves", then does X contain itself or doesn't it?

Or can God create an object so heavy that He Himself can't lift it?


Dr. Brin is right that in terms of America's two major political clades, the one on the right has this problem much, much more profoundly than the one on the left, but the left has its emotionally insecure, militant conformists, too. I have encountered enough of them...


What Norman Goldman derisively calls the "Progressive Purity Police". Like Bernie supporters who didn't support Osoff in the Georgia 6th because he's "not a progressive". So I guess they'd rather have a Republican in that congressional seat then a Democrat who actually had a chance of winning it, because that will show the Democratic Party that they can't win with candidates who can actually gain widespread support--they'll have to run George McGovern and lose 49 states!

So yes, there is a faction on the left engages in such thinking and causes the party to flounder. OTOH, the entire right-wing engages in such thinking, and wins elections, but then can't govern. Now that we know that, what do we know?

Paul SB said...

Larry,

"Now that we know that, what do we know?"
- My cynical side would say that what we know is that we are doomed. There is a lot of human history to support the contention that we are doomed, and much less to suggest that there are ways we can avoid the fate of every other empire - to end up in the dustbin of history after destroying ourselves in paroxysms of factionalism. What gives me hope is that the scientific community is starting to fight against this, by plumbing the depths of the human genome, examining the human mind and brain with exciting new technologies and clever experimental designs and outright refuting the bullshit myths that lead people to behave in ways that will ultimately destroy us.

It's vital to dispel these myths. Genetic Determinism is a huge one. Old sayings like "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" that sound like folk wisdom are ways to keep people down and prevent people from achieving great things in life simply because of the circumstances of their birth - like the particular shade of brown their skin has, what does or does not dangle between their legs, physical disabilities that have no effect on their intelligence or ability to conceive great things, or simply being the children of people who had little money. This is a big part of the crap that has to be shoveled out of our culture.

Another yuge one is the idea that competition is everything, and that stuck up, hyper-competitive, high-t, hate-mongering, robbing, cheating, pussy-grabbing Gordon Gecko bastards are the saintly, deserving and worthiest members of human society that we all either successfully emulate or get the L tattoo permanently stuck to our foreheads and prospects for a happy, healthy and successful future. Competition is good on the soccer field, and it has its place in other arenas of society, but it is not holy, godly or even especially human. Think of all the professional athletes whose arrogance creates such a toxic atmosphere that they become a detriment to their teams (A-Rod) or get taken out of the running by allowing their testosterone-fueled arrogance to land them in prison (there's a few names we can name here). That kind of self-indulgent thinking, promoted by our media (as when Daryl Strawberry was allowed to finish the baseball season before going behind bars for rape) trickles down to every level of society. When I was in college I used to go over to a friend's house to play volleyball on the weekends. He was an ex-marine who had an older home with a huge side yard, instead of the more typical back yard of today. He set up the net as soon as the snows stopped falling, and friends and family ranging from age 10 to 67 would come for friendly games, community and the healthy benefits of being outdoors. But there were a couple 20-something, hyper-competitive guys who wanted to turn the little tradition into practice for more serious competitions that involves prizes and trophies, and they got to be so obnoxious that soon the school-age kids stopped coming after having these big males spike the ball on their heads, the older folks started to stomp off in a huff, and even most of the people in their prime years who came just to destress had enough. But the end of one summer it was just the one roof the house and two guys showing up, the tradition ruined. next summer Art didn't even bother setting up the net. No more relaxation. Competition becomes poison when it is treated as a religious tenet.

I suppose I'm ranting a bit here. Sorry for that!

You are right about how the immature react. We see this from locum and the twig all the time, and clearly this other guy has jumped on the bandwagon.

I had forgotten about Russel's Paradox. I like the way you think... Too bad there is no emoticon for a wicked grin. That would be useful.

dennisd said...

Our elections are designed to choose a person who wins over one or more losing candidates. Our votes do one thing only--- they provide the measurement for who wins and who loses. The salient feature of an election is winning (or losing). Everything else such---as 'sending a message' or registering displeasure about a candidate (Hillary haters)---is secondary. Republicans get it. Democrats (in particular the so-called progressive wing of the Democratic party) don't get this. They remain fixated on 'purity tests' and rigid PC ideology which have little to do with actually winning elections.

raito said...

Paul SB,

Looks like a reply disappeared.

Management could be dismissed by the board, which is made up of the owners (the workers).

But that requires more competition amongst management, which the Mars series apparently had. US government really has only 2 sets of management consultants, which may be a problem.

And the one thing that those 2 consultancies agree on is that they don't want any more competition.

Jumper said...

Now you're straw-manning, Paul. I doubt you'd find that many people who "worship" Gordon Gecko-ism. They would throw a lot of caveats at you and probably re-invent government oversight in the process of replying. Just a poor copy they make up on the spot. :)

.............................

In the last few years I have been getting more peeved at ignorance rather than less. It's the internet. Wanna-be lawyers, for instance, can quickly find actual case law on the net, and read it. Same with an abundance of general knowledge. You can type questions into Google now and likely have a good answer pop up. What kind of lizard is this? What is Muqtada al Sadr doing that's not been in the news? What is coal mining really like these days? What was "ethyl" gasoline? It would take a day at a library just a few years ago; now all those can be answered in an hour from my sofa or portable device.

The idea that people with no curiosity, only badly stale urban legends bouncing around the brain, should have mass influence, is just wrong. And before the contrarians kick in, this does not mean blind acceptance of blather.

LarryHart said...

dennisd:

The salient feature of an election is winning (or losing). Everything else such---as 'sending a message' or registering displeasure about a candidate (Hillary haters)---is secondary.


It makes some sense to include "Wanting to still be the good guys when we win" in the mix. After all, if (for example) the Democrats have to embrace Supply-Side economics in order to win, then what's the point of winning? (I ask from the POV of a voter, not of a politician whose salary depends on winning)

So you have to do two things: Win elections and retain a certain level of principle while doing so.

The latter is where the devil is in the details. Purity tests are inherently "small tent". The opposite of "big tent" inclusive policies which appeal to a broad segment of the electorate. Purists either hope that their "small tent" is still big enough to win, or else they care only about purity and are ok with losing elections. The Republican purists seem more the first type, while Democrat/progressive purists are more like the second.

The idea of the progressive purists is "So what if Hillary had won? Or so what if a Democrat might have taken a Georgia congressional seat? Because each of those candidates is flawed in some ways, their victories would have been as bad as Trump and the Republicans. Better to let Republicans keep winning until enough voters not only demand a change of party, but will be ok with everything we believe in." I don't see how anyone can witness the reality of Trump/Republicans and still think that is the case. But then I didn't see how anyone could witness the reality of Bush/Republicans and still think that is the case.



Republicans get it. Democrats (in particular the so-called progressive wing of the Democratic party) don't get this

LarryHart said...

...that reply was meant to follow all of the italics, not sit in the middle of them.

Sorry.

Tacitus2 said...

Carl M seems to have taken a break. He does make a point, rather badly of course, in regards the tendency of honest people to dismiss things that don't fit their world view as anecdote and to fill in gaps in the way they wish things to be with extrapolation.

This caused David to get a bit riled up, as is his wont. (And his privilege of course).

It made me think of his offer to swap anecdotes at a 100 to 1 or 10000 to 1 ratio. Now I will not hold him to that but it got me wondering.

In the First Hundred Days there have been a lot of media reports on Hate Crimes, presumably inspired by President Trump and carried out by his rabid followers. The very clade of Klansters and heel clickers who feature so prominently in Brin's Demonology.

So, David and others. Of the Hate Crimes that have been investigated and resolved what proportion were "genuine". By that lets just specify White and/or Christian people carrying out heinous acts specifically at Otherly Faithed or Pigmented?

Sure, there are plenty of swastika on a wall somewhere incidents that could be anything, but are most likely immature pranks. But seems to me that the high profile stuff like the woman who claims someone was going to set her on fire for wearing a hijab, the tipped over Jewish tombstones, the torched black church....they do not support the notion that there is a frothing, writhing, inchoate Nuremburg mob out there...

100:1? can you manage it? Its ok to say you were a bit exercized and got carried away.

Tacitus

donzelion said...

re self-incorporation (advice from a lawyer) -

Don't even try. The simple tricks available to those without sophisticated help are well-trod trails, well-known, and likely to result in far greater liabilities than temporary savings. If you really want to play the various incorporation gambits (and there are many), get thorough counsel from the outset, which will run you a good $100k (and save you far more - if your earnings exceed $1 mill/year). I do not offer that sort of advice, but know some who do. Typically, you will pay considerably every year for the benefit: the cost exceeds the benefit for nearly all people, save those in the 99% bracket.

I can go on at length, but bear in mind, whether you classify your income as capital or as wages, the IRS will reclassify it according to its own mechanisms as they apply the tax code: you do not control this, they do. An aggressive mechanism can escape detection - for a time, but unless it does so for 7 years, it does you little good. Small fry are much easier targets for the IRS than big fry, and the $100k used to set things up right goes a long ways to saving you $1 mill for tax defense (which you may not be able to afford when the time comes). Or you can buy 'tax aid packages' - from folks who sell basic incorporation and a few gambits to suckers in volume - who will be off to Panama or Helvetia after pocketing your money by the time the IRS comes knocking.

donzelion said...

Jumper: "I'm no lawyer either, Larry, but I think most of what you propose is illegal..."
Possibly not, depending on precisely how it is accounted for and which taxes are paid.

Larry: "But I don't think I suggested anything illegal. The more likely flaw is that the math doesn't actually work out in your favor."
Correct; it very seldom works out in your favor. A misclassification may become illegal when there is an intent to evade (and intent is surprisingly easy to prove, as the mechanisms used - and drastic changes in tax position - show a design). These sorts of schemes are an area that billionaires benefit from, but even millionaires seldom can. Having studied a few of these devices at the corporate level (even billionaires seldom compete with the intricacies of the biggest corporations)...the game is best avoided. Just be aware that the biggest Americans can reduce their taxable income to 15-18%, in ways that most of us cannot, but almost never to 0% (the biggest foreigners, however, have a far easier time with this...).

donzelion said...

Tacitus: "Sure, there are plenty of swastika on a wall somewhere....they do not support the notion that there is a frothing, writhing, inchoate Nuremburg mob out there..."

I both agree with your point and think it merits extensive study. Jewish Americans are not at risk of a new Holocaust in America - not by a long shot. The risk of sporadic graffiti or more brutal attacks on synagogues is real, but vastly smaller than the attacks on mosques and various temples for other groups. Were a major leader to try to arouse a frothing mob to violence against Jewish Americans, I am quite certain such a mob would amount to a handful of deranged degenerates (who unfortunately are able to arm themselves quite heavily, so must be taken seriously, but pose no threat to the group as a whole).

But against Muslims? Immigrants? There, I am not so sure. Obama was accused of doing 'nothing' about immigration, despite one of the most brutal and far-reaching LEGAL clampdowns on immigrant communities that has ever been conducted. The implication is that the Trumpists who regard Obama as 'weak' on immigration demand extra-legal measures. They will not be appeased by expanding existing border walls a few hundred miles...

donzelion said...

Jumper - re Paul SB's point - Actually, I think you'd find many people - left or right - "worshipping" Gordon Geckoism - in a compartmentalized fraction of their life. I suspect that Paul's point, "Competition becomes poison when it is treated as a religious tenet" - merits a corollary, since competition has a way of expanding to crowd out other aspects of life, which taken to extremes (whatever an extreme is in this context) can result in gross harms to self and others.

"You can type questions into Google now and likely have a good answer pop up. What kind of lizard is this? What is Muqtada al Sadr doing that's not been in the news? What is coal mining really like these days? What was "ethyl" gasoline? It would take a day at a library just a few years ago; now all those can be answered in an hour from my sofa or portable device."

Getting a 'quickie' answer isn't the problem; it's the deluded reliance on a 'quickie' answer. Your time in a library years ago would still require you to actually read something and spend time to understand it. The time it takes to read, process and understand hasn't changed, but access to a quickie summarized answer creates the delusion of having obtained comparable knowledge to those who spent years studying a thing in detail.

Once upon a time, folks relied more on Farmers Almanacs than meteorology. Folks studying at Google University often replicate that error, accepting the false certitude of an almanac for the equivocations and probabilities of a meteorologist. And yet -

"The idea that people with no curiosity, only badly stale urban legends bouncing around the brain, should have mass influence, is just wrong."
I am not so sure. Such people constitute the mass, after all - none of us is curious about all things, or capable of closely studying each thing worthy of study. It is possible that they are less injurious to themselves and others than one would expect...

Jumper said...

Quickie summarized answers are now disposable due to the internet. Obviously it's those other people who misuse Wikipedia, not us.

The problems have been with us forever. (40 years ago subscribers to Psychology Today mostly joined the Dunning-Kruger Club.) The solutions are new and game-changing. The Maytag repairman lost his job, finally, because of YouTube.

David Brin said...

Tacitus said: “100:1? can you manage it? Its ok to say you were a bit exercized and got carried away.”

You miss the point, my friend. I was all neener-neener that my “side” would win, even if the battleground were over anecdotes. Moreover you know darn well that right wing haters are worse, both qualitatively and quantitatively than there campus screecher lefty counterparts.

You also know I am actually “a plague on both your houses,” at both types.

But you miss the point. Our political tussles should not be about nor controlled by screechers of either side. While Carl made it repeatedly about anecdotally offensive lefties, I kept returning to VERIFIABLE STATISTICAL EVIDENCE. The great enemy of Fox-ism.

You are among the few who has even tried (and I believe failed; but you’ve tried) to come up with even a single metric of US health that has done better — attributably resulting from — across spans of Republican governance. But, even if your counter example stand, they are minuscule quibbles from a vast and blatant overall disparity in governing ability. And in stunningly obstinate clinging to bad ideas.

These challenges are vastly more valid than whipping out and comparing anecdotes.

Can you name for me one profession of high knowledge and skill that’s not under attack by Fox/Trump &cohorts?  Teachers, medical doctors, journalists, civil servants, law professionals, economists, skilled labor, professors… oh, yes and science. And now the military officer corps.

Name one GOP leader between Reagan and Ryan who was even mentioned at the 2016 Republican Convention. Except for Newt, all were brushed under the rug, including both Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Dennis (friend to boys) Hastert, Tom (convicted felon) DeLay, Boehner. In fact, name a republican between EISENHOWER and Ryan who was even mentioned by the party at the RNC, other than Reagan and Newt! This shows how writhing ashamed Republicans are, of their record at governance.

You’ve heard it all before. But the core point here is about apples and bananas. It is loopy to use anecdotes of a few leftie idiots to counter massive proof of the right’s plunge into incompetence and insanity at policy and governance.

Especially since - yes - there are vastly more and vastly worse anecdotal rightie monsters, too.

sociotard said...

First, "June Trauma" would be a great name for an action movie Heroine. Or perhaps a female punk band.

Also, everybody did watch that lamb in the artificial womb? because if that doesn't look like living in the future, I don't know what does. (or maybe living under Saruman the White)

Tacitus2 said...

David

"You’ve heard it all before." Boy, howdy have I ever!

"It is loopy to use anecdotes of a few leftie idiots" You, Sir, threw that gantlet by offering to trade anecdotes 1000:1.

"even a single metric" Yes, we have danced this before. I have opined that you do not play by fair rules as you dub yourself judge, jury, and court of appeals.

I occasionally point out moments when your rhetoric gets the better of you. To the detriment of discourse and to your political points of view.

We often seem to miss each other's points.

Not always, which I suppose is good, but often. Such are the times we live in.

Tacitus





David Brin said...

"You, Sir, threw that gantlet by offering to trade anecdotes 1000:1."

And you paid ZERO attention to the argument arc. Which was (and remains) that "even though I am confident I could out-anecdote you... THIS IS NOT ABOUT ANECDOTES!"

"We often seem to miss each other's points."

Yup. And there is a reason. Because all you ostriches have left, to bury your heads under, is anecdotes and aphorisms and incantations and voodoo spells like Supply Side.

Whenever we try to turn the conversation over to actual, fact-centered differences in POLICY OUTCOME, all be get, in return is another wave of desperate anecdotes and aphorisms and incantations and voodoo spells like Supply Side.

Tacitus, my friend. Bring us lefty-flake anecdotes when you have ANY that match the Oklahoma City bombers, the southern church massacres, the sig-heil traitors. Till then, can we veer over to the War on All Fact-Users?

David Brin said...

onward

onward

dennisd said...

@Larry Hart
Good points. I'm right there with you on this. Principles matter. We most definitely want our political candidates (win or lose) to be the good ones who strive to live by the principles of a civilized society.

Anonymous said...

Am i surprised people still rely on Government to help them. Good luck with that. The big guns in Washington only remember us when they need us, typical human nature playing politics shipping all the aids to foreign countries. I was deep down in debt untill decided to be brave, take my own faith in my hands. Hired a guy (info@ms.falconforensics.net or www.falconforensics.net) that helped me clear all my student loans and mortgages rather that than sticking up a store. I cant say i haven't earned it, i pay my taxes they bail out corporations don't they, how about the little guys? grow some balls and stop depending on politicians fight for yourself a word is enough