Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Voter Fraud, Immigration, and Economic Disparity

== The New “Voter Fraud” Commission ==

As usual, Democrats are right to complain… and they are doing it all wrong.

President Trump declared a commission aimed at justifying his unfounded voter fraud claims.  (“Millions cast illegal ballots, giving Hillary Clinton her huge popular vote margin.”) But instead of appointing a blue-ribbon, bipartisan committee of nationally respected sages, the commission will be spearheaded by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, often tied to white nationalists.

Riiight.  Go to Kansas - by far the worst governed state in the Union - for wisdom. I'll get back to that, later.

To be clear, I have never objected to gradually ramping up requirements that voters show ID. (See my earlier,more extensive postings on this.) But we need to bear in mind:

(1) There is no factual evidence that this is a major problem requiring urgent-rapid action. Voter fraud has repeatedly been shown to be almost nonexistent.

(2) Other forms of cheating are either blatant -- gerrymandering -- or seem extremely likely - e.g. many red states use voting machines that cannot be audited and are made by known-rabid rightwing partisans.

(3) There is a simple test as to whether red state GOP legislators pushing voter ID laws are sincere, or attempting bald-faced suppression of US citizens exercising their rights.  What is that simple test? When red states pass these restrictions, do they also allocate money for compliance assistance

Whenever the federal government – or most states – apply new regs upon business, there is almost always some provision offering those businesses help in complying with the new regs. Sometimes the help is modest, often it is substantial. But the principle is well-established. Moreover, if a new regulation’s impact hits small fry hard – like mom and pop establishments – then the calls for compliance assistance are compelling!

So, here’s the simple test. Have any of the GOP-led state legislatures who passed stiff voter ID laws also alloted funds to help poor citizens to get the IDs they need? It's a win-win, since getting clear ID will also help poor folks to do banking, establish businesses and lift themselves out of poverty. A concerted effort to help a state’s citizens get ID would be both beneficial and prove that those legislatures were sincere. It would refute the accusation that these laws have one sole purpose – cheating.

Okay, here’s the crux. The on-off switch. The total fact that proves criminality and treason. Not one of these red states have passed even a single penny of compliance assistance, to accompany a stiff, new regulatory burden they slapped on their poorest and most vulnerable citizens.  In fact, many of these red – no, they must be called gray – states went on a binge of closing DMV offices “to save money,” mostly in poor or democratic-leaning counties. They made compliance with their own law harder. Deliberately much harder.

Hence the indictment is proved. As it is with the utterly laughable-hypocritical “commission” that Donald Trump just appointed.  They are exposed as liars. Cheaters. Betrayers. Hypocrites and traitors. Confederates.

== Disparities in wealth.. and lifespan ==

Want the wealth disparity problem brought starkly home? Look at this chart. Then ponder what one worried analyst wrote, in late April:

"What is interesting is that whereas Mr. Trump was elected (partly) because he promised to improve the condition of the American worker, since his election, the 0.1% have gained the most as the stock market capitalization has increased by over $2 trillion. Therefore, by now the wealth of the top 0.1% should exceed the wealth of the bottom 90% for the first time since 1941. Remarkably, the recent pronouncements by Trump and coterie suggest that they equate the stock market strength with a strong economy as well…."

Notice how the blue line started surging upward, in tandem with the red line's fall, with the arrival of Ronald Reagan's tax cuts on passive capital gains. 

Tell me. Do you actually think the crushed middle class will continue to drink the plantation lords' koolaid -- the soothing rhetoric that the beneficiaries of this trend aren't the ones to blame for it?

 Lifespan disparities among the races have been narrowing (in the U.S.). Good news... though that may change. Meanwhile, lifespan disparities have been increasing geographically. Look at the map. Now squint and correlate it with our red-blue divide. Several observations:  (1) Appalachia and the Olde South got huge help from FDR, then Kennedy and Johnson, and these disparities declined. (2) They started climbing again directly after the arrival of Nixon-Reagan and the installation of GOP governments in those states.

Indeed, look at the fiscal condition of states like booming, creative and budget-balanced California vs disasters like Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and...

There is something called Outcomes Correlation. When outcomes so clearly correlate with policies, that doesn't prove the policies were responsible for the outcomes. But it does create that presumption. It shifts the burden of proof onto those who hold otherwise. In this case, the correlation suggests that citizens of these states should recall why their parents adored FDR and Kennedy and Johnson.

It suggests that they have been very badly governed by their GOP state leaders, whose confederate policies (favoring rich plantation lords) might be discredited compared to policies that show blue states doing ever-better.  Outcomes appraisal should "trump" left-right dogmas or identity-populism. Outcomes appraisal is a sign that you are sapient, capable of examining what's in your self- interest.

What's in your outcomes-correlated self-interest? To never trust a Republican Politician with a burnt match, ever, ever again.

See outcomes appraised in some detail, if you dare: Do outcomes matter more than rhetoric?

== Kansas, Kansas, doodle doo ==

Oh, I promised a further thought about Dorothy's home state.

Almost hidden in the announcement of a $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia -- in which Trump treasonously swore to help the sheiks and princes 'get a great deal' from U.S. companies -- is a small matter of industrial shift.  Using Saudi money as a cudgel, Trump coerced agreement from Boeing, Lockheed etc to move production from blue states to red ones, at least partially, with Kansas the biggest beneficiary.

Sure, this is partly just more mean-minded politics.  While Democrats in power sent heaps of blue state generated money (and NASA centers) into Appalachia and the South as part of anti poverty programs, Republicans push cash flows in the same direction as a matter of pure spite and vengeance, with California and New York special targets.

 But there's a particular reason to single out Kansas for this latest huge largesse. You see, under Sam Brownback, the GOP-led state government there doubled down on "Supply Side (voodoo) Economics," slashing taxes on the rich while chopping services for the middle class and poor. The theory posits that giving gushers of gifts to the aristocracy will stimulate economic activity so much that it will erase deficits. In fact, SSVE has never worked. Once. Ever. At all. Anywhere or at any time.

Sure enough, Kansas is now drowning in debt, bankruptcies, ruined schools and collapsing infrastructure. KS voters punished the GOP in the last election, but nowhere near as much as seems likely, next time. Worse yet for the plantation lords, the Kansas economic collapse is so stark that maybe, at long last, a large majority of Americans will get riled up and thoroughly smash the trickle-down insanity.

The lords' hope - underlying the Saudi Arms Deal - is that transferring production from Washington State and California to Kansas will federally prop up the latter state's disaster enough to keep the delusion going for just a while longer. 

And now you understand the insidious sub-text, beneath the news.

== Points of disagreement ==

I’ll happily offer up moments when I don’t disagree with President Trump. (In part because it maintains my credibility to oppose his many deficiencies.) Two of these are found in his admiration for some Canadian policies.  For example, he recently spoke positively of Canada’s single-payer healthcare system. Which we are are now more likely to get, since the recently passed GOP “Obamacare replacement” will explode in short order.

Another is in the under-discussed matter of LEGAL immigration, which has far greater effects than the infamously transfixing topic of undocumented incomers.

“In the U.S., about two-thirds of permanent residents are admitted to reunite with family members,” writes Paul May. “Less than 20 percent are admitted because of their professional skills. In Canada, by contrast, it’s almost the opposite: more than 60 percent of permanent residents are admitted via the economy class, and only a quarter are admitted because of family reunification.” 

The family reunification system, set up by the democrats, is horrible.  Oh sure, it sounds nicely moral and goody-goody and I support reuniting parents and children and young siblings.  But beyond that, it is actually deeply immoral, giving advantage to people in the “home country” who are already way luckier than their neighbors, by having American cousins who send money and advantages. This luck advantage is wretchedly indefensible and has no justification at all.  

Why not let in folks who can adapt to US society swiftly and productively, giving us a win-win? Can you think of any better way to keep us rich and diverse and vibrant -- and rich -- enough to keep being generous in the world and letting in more?

== Miscellany ==

* People are prank calling President Trump's new office to report illegal "criminal aliens" — just not the type of "aliens" President Trump had in mind when he created the office.

* An elder thought: I do wonder if I am the only person on the planet who remembers how, in the 60s and early 70s, there were economists hand wringing a worry that seems utterly weird, today.  At then-present rates, if all the pension plans were fully vested, then by 2010 the workers would - through those pension plans - "own the means of production."  They would own the factories and have the largest share of stock equity.  Then came wave after wave of refusal to vest the pension funds... and the 'problem' is now entirely forgotten!

I can't even get economists my age, like John Mauldin, to remember this.  They get uncomfortable and change the subject. Do any of you remember it, at all? With citations?

* When was America great? I have eviscerated the confeds’ first, reflex answer — the 1950s of “Happy Days” — is easy to refute. But then, romantic nostalgists are adaptable. As they keep moving the goal posts on climate change, they will shift when they say American greatness peaked. Though this article shows how even the first billionaire, in 1916, lived in many ways worse than most middle class Americans of 2017.

Romantic nostalgia is an ancient poison, as described in this interesting piece. “How Nostalgia Made America Great Again.”  See my takedown of 1950s nostalgia here. The Greatest Generation - of that era - wanted desperately to make a better world... and they succeeded.

Anybody who wants to go back to the 1950s insults the great men and women who lived and strived and worked then!

 * A meme warfare unit? A hilarious spoof that ought to be true!


59 comments:

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "(3) There is a simple test as to whether red state GOP legislators pushing voter ID laws are sincere, or attempting bald-faced suppression of US citizens exercising their rights. What is that simple test? When red states pass these restrictions, do they also allocate money for compliance assistance?"

Actually, this is a more troublesome than you let on. It's not whether money is allocated, but how it is actually spent. Easy to register voters at elderly accommodations - particularly homes where FoxNews is blaring on shared community television 24/7. Harder to register voters who need a mobile registration truck to come by (preferably, when folks are around to be registered, rather than when they're working).

And in those elderly homes, who verifies and purges the deceased from the registry? Bigger problem than most people realize, esp. in rural areas, where there are strong incentives to retain people on the voter rolls AND in the census count who vote predictably...for preferred parties.

"Compliance assistance" per se is probably not a bad thing, but spent by a strict partisan, for partisan purposes, it sure can be. A 'national identification card' would be a better solution, issued automatically to everyone who turns 18, tied to a national registration that verifies addresses (so people do not relocate to vote in multiple precincts, like Trumps kids apparently can) - but of course, that sounds like black helicopters and a millenialist nightmare.

Alfred Differ said...

Yipe. I've been approached by "libertarian candidate" Zoltan Istvan about his run for California office.

Heh. That's what you get for talking to any of us at all.

I took a peek at some of the statements made by our candidates at our national convention last year and hung my head in shame. I saw a whole lot of illiberal crap and was thankful a former Republican governor was still willing to push them aside.

Without a lot of outside blood from people upset at their original party, we get the residue. We get people who would rather be right than win.

Our local party takes the attitude that it is better to go it alone and focus on local elections. Yes. We are libertarians. No. We aren't like them over there. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

What's up with Clarence Thomas?
Seems there IS a limit to gerrymandering.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "Do you actually think the crushed middle class will continue to drink the plantation lords' koolaid -- the soothing rhetoric that the beneficiaries of this trend aren't the ones to blame for it?"

Alas, yes - and worse. The sagging middle will increasingly drink koolaid for want of alternative beverages. More accurately, they'll drink 50 flavors of koolaid made available to them, Britbrat Berry, FauxNews Fruit, AM apple juice...

When it is useful to the folks running the koolaid stand, the sagging, angry middle will start hearing names far more often, some of which have been planted in the last few years: Soros! Buffett! Gates! Zuckerberg! Hollywood! Oprah!

Names they won't hear, at least not quite so often, are Bezos, Huff, and a few others who've started investing in their own media outlets.

All of this has happened before...specifically, 1871. In the 1930s, the American press corps was a mostly professional body of skilled practitioners dealing in a 'high tech' industry. In 1871, they were...not. In the 1930s, industrialization reached a stage where either a radical reformation (FDR) or a totalitarian reformation (others) was feasible - in 1871, weak presidents (even some who 'appeared' strong), strong regional players, vast secretive cabals building even vaster empires, and rampant corruption...an era in which 'morality' meant wearing proper cleavage coverage, manufactured by the starving peons of myriad distant lands...

Jumper said...

Justice Thomas is a libertarian, for those who didn't know.

Tim H. said...

Kris Kobach on a voter fraud commission? Fox guarding the hen house indeed.

Tom Crowl said...

I agree with pretty much every point in this article.

One point re "even the first billionaire, in 1916, lived in many ways worse than most middle class Americans of 2017."

While this is true... it can create a false assumption that an increasing "absolute" level of affluence should produce political peace.

I'd suggest that its the 'relative' level of affluence (in comparison to the affluence of others in the same social body) which has greater relationship to a public's trust in the political system.

This 'relativity' issue isn't the only factor influencing how the condition will play out... one culture may stagnate... another may revolt.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

What's up with Clarence Thomas?
Seems there IS a limit to gerrymandering.


Thomas believes in color-blindness. He's against affirmative action, but he's apparently also against affirmative action for whites.

Duncan Cairncross said...

The
"We need to divert the resources to the genuinely gifted and qualified. To the achievers of society- the ones who pay your bills by their innovation, genius, and hard work"

Is absolutely correct!
They the 90% are the ones who are being starved of resources by the blood sucking 0.1% parasites

We need to absolutely LOSE the stupid idea that there is only a small creative minority!

90% of people are creative - they have created all of the improvements that we all enjoy

YES only 0.1% actually manage to make (steal) a lot of money - but we are all humans

We are all the race that is doing the fancy space stuff
AND
All of the rest of the stuff that ordinary people are doing - from Hot Rods to Paintings to DIY robots to God only knows what

There is NOT a tiny creative minority!! - we - the creative - are the bloody MAJORITY!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

* People are prank calling President Trump's new office to report illegal "criminal aliens" — just not the type of "aliens" President Trump had in mind when he created the office.


Remember during the presidential debates when people called the police to report watching a crazy man stalk a woman on live national television?

I'm so glad I traveled to Europe last summer instead of now. I'd have to pretend to be Canadian to avoid embarrassment.


donzelion said...

* When was America great?"

Confed Dishonest Answer: 1862. Because, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
Confed Honest Answer: 1830s. Land was $1.25 an acre, and all ya had to do was shoot some injuns in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi. With slaves, you had a high probability of earning a remarkable return farming cotton, and with trade exploding to the UK, there was a ravenous global market.

Oligarch Dishonest Answer: 1890. Trusts, trusts, and more trusts. (Dishonest only due to survivor bias...)
Oligarch Honest Answer: 1871. Nobody had even heard of trusts, but a handful of lawyers setting them up for a handful of 'entrepreneurs.'

Union Dishonest Answer: 1961...civil rights, baby! MLK Jr., JFK, RFK... (and that little thing called total global annihilation that everyone forgets...not to mention polio, which while vaccinations existed, had not yet been universally deployed...)
Union Honest Answer: I'd say 2010 - we have never had it as good, on the whole. So much more could have been done, had America not made the choice we made then...

Duncan Cairncross said...

* When was America great?"

In real terms - 2017

In relative terms (to "The Rest of the World") - about 1980 - ish

donzelion said...

Duncan: Why not 1999? Aside from being a great year to party (see Prince), unlike 1980, we were
- in a prolonged boom and just going nuts over a cool new technology that promised to revolutionize everything, in which we were dominant
- all major foreign threats were mostly addressed (Japan? an afterthought by '99, and China wasn't even on the radar much...Russia was a mess...the Middle East on the verge of peace - which we actually helped broker...) - and we had no sense of our own vulnerability
- crime was dropping impressively (in 1980, it was still on a big upswing)

Pretty good year on the whole.

David Brin said...

LH don't be Canadian. Proudly avow to be an American, resisting the confederate occupation of our nation's capital.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi donzelion

Somewhere about 1980 the USA was overtaken as the best place for a normal guy -
By 1999 there was simply no comparison the USA was a LOT worse than most of Europe

Not sure exactly when Germany and the Scandinavian countries overtook the USA - it may have been later than 1980 -

But when I worked in the USA in 1997 the British working man was quite a lot better off

Somewhere between 1980 and 1990 the USA lost the "Best Place"
I mean the USA kept getting better - so USA 1999 was better than USA 1990 - and USA 2017 is better than USA 1999

LarryHart said...

Sigh. Just as I thought. The Republican brownshirt won the Montana election. Violence against liberals and the media is a feature, not a bug.

Flypusher said...

There is no doubt, when you look at what Trump promised to working class Whites, and the likely consequences of his budget and the actions of the GOP in Congress, that these people are on course to be totally screwed over. Trickle down economics is a farce, millions of people would be kicked of their health insurance, and the opioid epidemic will only get worse from proposed cuts to NIH funding and Sessions's desire to go back to the old school war on drugs. But there’s one set of promises Trump is absolutely following through on, the stigginit portion of the platform. He promised the base scapegoats on whom he would inflict the pain, and even though the courts have stymied a bunch of the stigginit agenda, the base sees that he’s trying, and they love him for it. The question is what level of pain from the Ryan-McConnell-Trump-trickledown-screw over does it take to overcome the joys of stigginit? There are sadly a lot of petty, spiteful people out there who will overlook being shafted if "those people" are getting it worse. This sort of divide and conquer ploy is older than the republic.

Flypusher said...

"Sigh. Just as I thought. The Republican brownshirt won the Montana election. Violence against liberals and the media is a feature, not a bug."- LarryHart

Yeah, that bums me out too. I hope Quist tries again next year. Jerk-face hasn't endeared himself to the media and that hopefully has consequences.

Paul SB said...

I was looking at that longevity map and noticed that overall life expectancy in Montana seems to have kept up with the rest of the nation except in a few counties, but you see a more consistent rise in the rest of the region. It makes me wonder what housing is like in those counties.

Another I noticed is a bit south of there, in my home state, there are 2 counties where longevity has gone up more than most other places in the nation. A couple of the darkest blue spots are Eagle and Pitkin Counties. These are interesting because they make the point about longevity and wealth disparity. These are the locations of Vail and Aspen respectively - both ski resort towns where the cost of living is so high that the hapless folks who work at the ski lodges and McDonald's in those towns can't afford to live there, they mostly live in smaller towns within an 80-mile radius and have a very long, scenic (but dangerous in winter) commute every day. The higher life expectancy is not so much a matter of location as it is the wealth of the minority of people who are rich enough to actually live there.

Maybe someone here who hails from a Southern State can fill us in on details in that part of the country.

Tim H. said...

Two things that might really help Trump's base, allow some inflation to make American products more affordable in the world market and make credit card interest deductible again. Not holding my breath for either one, the GOP's base would oppose both measures. BTW, pointing out the differences between what Trump campaigned on and what the GOP leadership wants seems like it might have some entertainment value.

LarryHart said...

Flypusher:

"Sigh. Just as I thought. The Republican brownshirt won the Montana election. Violence against liberals and the media is a feature, not a bug."- LarryHart

Yeah, that bums me out too. I hope Quist tries again next year. Jerk-face hasn't endeared himself to the media and that hopefully has consequences.


A few weeks ago, SNL did a parody of "Matt Lauer" interviewing "Trump" (Alec Baldwin), and when "Trump" admits firing Comey to obstruct justice, "Lauer" says excitedly into his headset, "Is that it? Did we get him?" Then after a short pause listening, "Oh, nothing matters, huh?"

Trump is the epitome of that, but it applies to the entire Republican Party. There is no line they can't cross that would make their voters change their minds and reject them. For the wealthy, their tax cut/no regulation agenda is all that matters. For the rest of their voters, freedom to inflict harm on others is all that matters.

raito said...

Note than in WI, compliance assistance was tasked to the GAB, which was in the process of being dismantled.

My comment from 'Solving problems: Energy, Climate and Remaking the Planet' (couple weeks ago)

"Meanwhile, interesting stuff in the field of looking at life expectancy, The Journal of the AMA just published their latest findings. Not unexpectedly, it seems that smoking, being obese, and being poor makes you die younger.

Here's the link to the article:
http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2626194
and an animated gif of the results 1983-2014:
http://www.npr.org/assets/img/2017/05/08/longevity-3.gif

One bright spot: Menominee County WI, had a 8-13 year gain in life expectancy. It's still behind, but it's something. For you folks who don't know, that's largely a reservation. The Dakota reservations didn't do as well.

And gosh, those places where people live a long time? They tend to be in cities!

Anyone want to correlate this with the map of the last presidential election by county (http://brilliantmaps.com/2016-county-election-map/)? It correlates well, with some exceptions, such as the lower Mississippi.

So not only are those rotten cities stealing the rural youth, it's probably going to make them live longer, too! How horrible!"

Paul SB,

Also see if those counties in Montana are reservations. And Aspen is one of the creepier places I've ever visited.

Also, from Worlds Of If, Jan. 1953, Science Briefs, pg. 111 (not a complete quotation):

"Dr. Wexler also points out that the Earth has become hotter. This is supported by the work of physicist Gilbert. N. Plass of The Johns Hopkins University, who has recalculated the opacity of carbon dioxide to long-wave heat radiation and found it to be much greater than formerly believed. With so much industrial activity adding carbon dioxide to the air, the result is a greenhouse effect in which short-wave heat arrives from the sun but longer heat waves are prevented from escaping the Earth."

donzelion, Duncan Cairncross,

1980 stank, especially if you were young. 6 months trying to get a minimum wage job? 2010 wasn't so hot, either. Sure, we had just turned the corner back from 2008, but just. All that said, I don't think there was a year great for everyone.

Flypusher said...

"Trump is the epitome of that, but it applies to the entire Republican Party. There is no line they can't cross that would make their voters change their minds and reject them. For the wealthy, their tax cut/no regulation agenda is all that matters. For the rest of their voters, freedom to inflict harm on others is all that matters."

I 100% agree. The GOP isn't even pretending to be embarrassed by hypocrisy anymore. Might makes right and the ends justify any means. The people you mention aren't worth engaging. But there are people who didn't vote, people who will be newly eligible to vote, and that segment of the Left who allowed the perfect to be the enemy of the good (or at least the not-horrific), Those are the people who can be persuaded, and there are enough of them to outvote the regressive elements.

LarryHart said...

raito:

All that said, I don't think there was a year great for everyone.


1977 was the greatest year in history!

Purely personal reasons, but it wouldn't surprise me if other people just happen to have fond memories of that same year.

LarryHart said...

Flypusher:

The GOP isn't even pretending to be embarrassed by hypocrisy anymore.


Back during the W administration, my very astute brother put it thusly: "They're not even pretending any more. All they're doing is pretending to pretend."

LarryHart said...

Flypusher (redux) :

The GOP isn't even pretending to be embarrassed by hypocrisy anymore.


One of the best examples--a reporter asked Mitch McConnell if he'd consider a Senate rule making it explicit that no Supreme Court will be accepted in a presidential term's final year. McConnell didn't even answer the question, but just gave that little chuckle--the same one Mike Pence gave whenever someone accused Trump of saying something that he said just five minutes ago--which clearly meant that it was funny because everyone is in on the joke that the prohibition on a final year only applies to Democrats.

A.F. Rey said...

There is no line they can't cross that would make their voters change their minds and reject them.

To be fair, I've heard that about 40 percent of the votes in Montana were cast (by mail) before Gianforte body-slammed the Guardian reporter. So almost half the voters didn't have a chance to change their minds because of that incident.

Although I can't honestly say if it would have mattered...

Darrell E said...

1977, the year of the Commodores Musical Extravaganza.

1980 was good for me.

2010 good in the US? For anyone in a sector significantly impacted by the crash 2010 sucked. That was about the time that your "stashed away for a rainy day" resources were getting real low and you were wondering just how long things could stay so depressed and regretting, with the aid of 20/20 hindsight, that you didn't get out in 2007 when you could see things going down though you never imagined things could go so low and stay that low for so long, because if you had gotten out then you hardly would have noticed the crash.

LarryHart said...

@Darrell E,

2010 gave us "Citizens United" and the Republican wave election.

Personally, I liked the movie version better. "All these worlds..." :)

Paul SB said...

Raito,

You nailed it on those Montana counties with lowest longevities. Blackfeet, Crow & Fort Peck Reservations. I also checked South Dakota, because the only red counties (by that map's color scheme - lowest longevity) were there, and they also mapped out onto Native American reservation. Not a huge surprise, given the depth of poverty and lack of opportunity in these places. Took me about 5 minutes to check this...

I haven't been to Aspen since I was young enough to be excited by a wind-up toy mouse, but I used to enjoy going to Breckenridge when the summers got too hot in my Denver convection-oven brick apartment. Very quiet in the summer. There was a little Chinese restaurant that had the hottest hot and sour soup I have ever tasted - owned and operated by a couple from China who both had advanced degrees (the husband in physics, I can't remember the wife's - land of golden opportunity!)

sgr said...

RE "elder thoughts" on pension funds and workers owning the means of production:

You're probably thinking of Peter Drucker's 1976 book, The Unseen Revolution: How Pension Fund Socialism Came to America. https://www.amazon.com/Unseen-Revolution-Pension-Socialism-America/dp/1483207625

Note Drucker was a management guru of his day, not an economist -- so the economists you're talking to probably don't know much about it, or are uncomfortable since it's no longer a mainstream view among them.

Catfish N. Cod said...

A succinct description of the divide in America: http://cdn.thewire.com/img/upload/2012/10/25/rendered/522697659bc4c329e63b25bc0be50eda_574x657.jpg

The history and political division of America is told in its population density. At the far left, the rezzes and wilderness (frequently similar), with Native Americans and some whites. Then, small towns -- overwhelmingly white with some black and Hispanic components. At the right, the melting pot of urbanism, where demographic dominance has already disappeared. According to the Census Bureau, this is what future America looks like.

It would be *fascinating* to see "white" further broken down into its components. What would you bet that the "recently white" of southern and eastern Europe, the middle East, etc. are higher in the right half of the "white dominance" section?

A.F. Rey said...

Further on the Montana special election: the result looks pretty good for Democrats for 2018.

Per the article from before the election at FiveThirtyEight: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/montanas-special-election-could-give-the-gop-another-reason-to-fret/

[T]here are 120 other Republican-held House districts that lean more Democratic than Montana. Even a close Gianforte win (say, by 10 points or less) would be consistent with a national environment that heavily favors Democrats...

The consistency here is key. Any single House special election is susceptible to district-specific factors... But special elections
as a group have done a decent job of forecasting the following midterm’s House results. When a party vastly underperforms the past presidential vote consistently, it tends to do poorly in the following midterm...

In other words, if the GOP candidate puts in an underwhelming performance in Kansas,
and in Georgia, and in Montana, it’s probably safe to conclude that there’s something going on nationally rather than in just those three states specifically.

Gianforte only won by 7 points. :)

Tom Crowl said...

Speaking of Montana...

The new Far Cry 5 take place in Montana in present time featuring fundamentalism... and 'religious patriots"... in a timely story built around the cultural divide afflicting the nation.

Games are getting controversial and have things to say.

FAR CRY 5 - 9 Minutes of Extended Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED3PkzV7u7g

Tom Crowl said...

The new Montana rep doesn't believe in retirement... because he says the bible doesn't mention it... and because Noah was 600 years old when he built the ark.

Great thinkers those Republicans... and somehow the same guys combine their religiosity with Ayn Rand Objectivism... admittedly an impressive example of mental agility of a sort.

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

The new Montana rep doesn't believe in retirement... because he says the bible doesn't mention it...


Is he planning to ride a donkey to Washington DC? Because the bible doesn't mention airplanes either.


and because Noah was 600 years old when he built the ark


Well, that's the friggin' point of retirement, isn't it? If Noah was still punching time at his day job, he wouldn't have had time to build an ark.


and somehow the same guys combine their religiosity with Ayn Rand Objectivism... admittedly an impressive example of mental agility of a sort.


Rand wasn't just kind of atheistic--her out-and-proud atheism was central to her philosophy. One character in...was it "The Fountanhead"?--declares that she can tell if someone loves life by whether that person believes in God (the correlation between the two was inverse). And yet, religious conservatives somehow claim Rand as their own. Paul Ryan worships Rand, and yet his Catholicism supposedly informs his politics.

Apropos Catholicism (though not Rand), does anyone find it as amusingly ironic as I do that Newt Gingrich's third wife convinced him to convert to Catholicism?

Alfred Differ said...

amusingly ironic

Heh. Not really. Lots of guys will do things for women. We get mushy in the head occasionally.

Regarding Rand, he wouldn't be the first person to live with dissonance. Even libertarians who try to be pure in their ideology live with it. I suspect it is fundamental to the human condition.

Jumper said...

Anyone who predicts immanent doom - or eminent doom, for that matter - because of religious hypocrisy among the leaders, shouldn't hold their breath.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

"does anyone find it as amusingly ironic as I do that Newt Gingrich's third wife convinced him to convert to Catholicism?"

Heh. Not really. Lots of guys will do things for women. We get mushy in the head occasionally.


Was my point too subtle? :)

I realize the rules have relaxed, but within my lifetime, having a third wife would have meant disqualification from the Catholic church, as opposed to having one convince you to join (and still being eligible to do so).

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Heh. Yah. Too subtle for this non-believer to catch. 8)

I DO recall that they prefer you convert to marry one of them, though. Funny thing that is. Mushy headed males making decisions on something that is supposed to be so important never struck me as a good idea to have as a faith requirement. It's too much like asking children to make decisions that require adult faculties they don't have yet.

If I was in the mood to design a faith, I would label mushy headed males as incompetent in many ways until they emerge from the hormone broth. Even for things that aren't faith matters, we should probably be careful about letting them sign contracts. 8)

I did a career 180 degree turn when I met my wife-to-be. I have no doubt I would have at least questioned that choice had my head been clear. She DID notice it and revealed years later that she had been worried at the time that I might regret it and blame her later.

Ah well. This is about Newt, though. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Har!

Jumper said...

Letting the elders run the church is not exactly a new proposition. It has its downside as Iran might suggest.

David Brin said...

sgr thanks! I had forgotten Drucker's name. And yes, his book may have transformed US history more than any other since WWII, inspiring the oligarchy to concoct Reaganomics.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Afred Differ asked, "What's up with Clarence Thomas?"

Perhaps, passing a store window, he saw his reflection.

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Hey, I'm not Catholic either, but for some reason, all of my serious girlfriends have been, including the one I married.

Neither of us converted, though. In fact, one of the few conditions we had to explicitly agree on was that our marriage was not about religion, and that neither of us would expect the other to convert, or to do anything religious for that matter.

Alfred Differ said...

Jumper,

Yah. If all the elders are pure hypocrites and simply want to control the younger males, I could see that. As far as I can tell, though, some of the elders actually believe what they preach. Whether it is a church that requires celibacy of their priests or not, I would think they'd recall that men can't think straight at times. I'm not talking about the lay people or uneducated priests, though. I'm talking about the scholars among them who should know better. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Good for you both. That takes courage and discipline. 8)

LarryHart said...

@ "When was America great?"

The answer probably depends on where you are located.

New York City is greater in the 21st century than it was in the 1970s and 80s. California seems to be at its all time greatest now.

Illinois was maybe at its recent high point in the 1980s and 1990s, until governors George Ryan (Republican) and Rod Blagojevich (Democrat) decided that a budget surplus is meant to be spent during good times so that we can have a nice large deficit during a recession. Thinking back, I think we lost our influence big time when Illinois congressman Dan Rostenkowski was ousted from his chairmanship of what was always referred to as "the powerful House Ways and Means Committee."

Catfish N. Cod said...

Sorry. Drucker? Reaganomics? I don't see the connection. Maybe I'm slow today.

David Brin said...

Drucker prophesied that if pension funds were fully vested as under contract, sharing profits with the workers, then worker would wind up owning the biggest chunk of the means of production. Reaganomics was not JUST an experiment in Supply Side "stimulus" (at least then it sounded plausible and had not yet been thoroughly disproves... and not JUST a raid to feed vampiric rentier parasites....

...it had a deeper motive to answer Drucker's prediction and cancel the calamitous arrival of socialism. And that goal was achieved so thoroughly that Drucker is now barely remembered.

Paul SB said...

An ugly and far-reaching example of unintended consequences. Drucker seemed to be trying to do the right thing, but in going public with that idea he raised the alarm of the oligarchs and kleptocrats.

Coincidentally, the oxytocin researcher I am trying to hook up with - Paul Zak - was a protege of Drucker, and his university is connected with the Drucker School of management.

LarryHart said...

I'm about 2/3 of the way through "Starship Troopers", and I have to say that it's more interesting reading than I had been led to believe, and I'm not clear what people have found objectionable about the content. I've seen reviews that refer to the book as fascistic and I don't see anything like that. If anything, its as good of a sympathetic explanation of life in the military as this lifelong civilian has seen in some time. The fact that it is set is a science-fictional spacefaring future is almost incidental.

The fact that it's the future only matters in the sense that it posits a social system which has not yet been tried in real history. There's some merit to having the voting franchise be earned by having proven that one values (****NO SPOILER***) above personal consideration. I'm not 100% convinced that completion of a military tour of duty is the best way of establishing such, but neither can I suggest a better one off the top of my head.

donzelion said...

As I recall, in the 1990s, Drucker was a leader of a group of economists eho critiqued the European style of management, which vests numerous positions of authority in workers typically (seats on the Board that other shareholders cannot terminate), vis-a-vis the Anglo-American 'true' capital, where executive managers are fully loyal to the shareholders.

Then a wave of bankruptcies wiped out about half of the firms he praised. The books and articles pumping that theory were quietly forgotten, but we analyzed that in law school with a wry chuckle.

Paul SB said...

Larry,
I suspect a lot of the animus a lot of people have had for that book comes from familiarity with the kind of right-wing fascists who can't read between the lines and describe themselves as militant Heinlein fans, and the inability of said critics to read between the lines themselves. Small-minded people can be quite vociferous about their misconceptions.

A couple threads back Dr. Brin recommended a book which is looking to be quite relevant to this thread here. I'm about 1/3rd into "Born Anxious" and it has already clarified something very important about the relationship between poverty and stress disorders. Why do some people grow up in poverty and do just fine while others are crushed under its weight, while some in wealthier circumstances are the same - though not in equal proportion. Oversensitive genes related to how the stress system behaves are probably distributed throughout any given population, but stress itself is not. Stress exists at all SES levels, but is much greater the further down the scale you go - and we didn't need the Whitehall Study to know this, though we did need it to prove it. But what turns out to be more important is the epigenetics. A person - rich, poor or in between - who is born with a sensitive variant of a cortisol gene is likely to be high-strung and much more susceptible to stress-related disorders, but stress experienced in early childhood or even in utero can methylate (switch on) this variant even in people who would otherwise not express it. Thus the lower life-expectancy of people in a low SES is not so much about their genes as it is about how their environment affects their genes. Not only can people who have the less sensitive variant have their cortisol system stuck in a permanent on position by early stress, but it can work the other way, too. People who have the hypersensitive version can have it switched off by growing up in a very safe environment with very attentive parents.

This shoots the assumptions behind meritocracy (either Social Darwinism or Divine Justice, depending) with 21st Century science. Hopefully this kind of stuff will become more widely known.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

Very interesting. I've never read Drucker, so I only know about him second hand. Did he change his tune after those bankruptcies? He lived for at least a few years afterwards. Recently I have been hearing a bit of criticism of the "shareholder first" mentality in business management, though as a general rule memes like that can take a long time to flush out of a system. The people most infected with them are the older generations who generally hold most of the financial power.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: "I'm about 2/3 of the way through "Starship Troopers", and I have to say that it's more interesting reading than I had been led to believe, and I'm not clear what people have found objectionable about the content. I've seen reviews that refer to the book as fascistic and I don't see anything like that. If anything, its as good of a sympathetic explanation of life in the military as this lifelong civilian has seen in some time. The fact that it is set is a science-fictional spacefaring future is almost incidental."

The book was a blend of several tropes. Heinlein believed that any society big enough to require ID cards was moving toward authoritarianism.RAH wasn't particularly opposed to authoritarianism--regarded it as utterly necessary in the military, but also believed it was essential that humanity have "escape valves to frontier worlds. In Mid-Twentieth Century America, this wasn't an uncommon view.
He also postulated war against an implacable and immensely powerful foe; against, not an unusual theme in the wake of WW2. He considered solidarity and obedience to authority to be essential under such stresses.
He also considered the loyalty of comradeship to be essential.
His "Time Enough for Love" is a pretty dreadful book, but his descriptions of 1917 America gripped in war fever makes for interesting parallel reading: the authoritarianism of Starship Troopers is far perferable to the social fascism of TEFL.

Flypusher said...

@ "When was America great?"

The answer probably depends on where you are located.

New York City is greater in the 21st century than it was in the 1970s and 80s. California seems to be at its all time greatest now.

Illinois was maybe at its recent high point in the 1980s and 1990s, until governors George Ryan (Republican) and Rod Blagojevich (Democrat) decided that a budget surplus is meant to be spent during good times so that we can have a nice large deficit during a recession. Thinking back, I think we lost our influence big time when Illinois congressman Dan Rostenkowski was ousted from his chairmanship of what was always referred to as "the powerful House Ways and Means Committee."

===============================

It's also a very good time to be in the Houston and Austin metro regions.

Tony Fisk said...

Larry. Starship Troopers is a pretty good read (I found the Verhoeven movie surprisingly more watchable than I expected)

Subsequent good reads in the same vein are "Forever War" and "Old Man's War"

David Brin said...

onward

onward

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