Friday, September 30, 2022

The Best Economic/Political Prediction of the last few years

Who made the Best Economic/Political Prediction of 2020?


I assert that it was yours truly.


Sure, some savvy folks projected (I did) that Vlad Putin would enter into a warlike spasm end-game, once western agencies were unleashed (post-Trump) to fight back. Others were on target with election forecasts, or tech breakthroughs, or investment strategies… and I am on-record (from 15 years ago) predicting that 2023 would see the ‘flying car.’ 


Amateurs can get it right, sometimes. 


But how about forecasting the exact pattern of US federal deficit-to-GDP ratio, across all administrations?


Allow me to submit for your consideration a chart that I’ve displayed online since 2015, followed by an amended version that I published in Polemical Judo (2020). It shows the stark and perfectly pure difference in fiscal management between Democratic and Republican administrations, since the Second World War, plainly revealing that Democrats are alwaysthat is absolutely always – the fiscally prudent ones… 


… and that Republicans are absolutely always spendthrift wastrels, apparently bent on throwing our children into the poorhouse.


If that seems opposite to all you ever heard – e.g. about supposed GOP sobriety and penny-pinching - then shame on you for accepting clich├ęs without question!  And triple shame on the Democratic pundits and politicians who allowed that lie-incantation to stand for generations. 


(There are reasons they did this; I’ll get to those reasons in a minute.)


Here’s the 2015 version, and you can see my point quickly enough. During every Republican administration, the rate of accumulating public debt accelerates… in math terms that is called a positive 2nd derivative of public debt. In graphical terms, that means the center pivot of the debt trajectory across GOP terms is always above the curve.




The curve trends downward across democratic administrations, as the rate of accumulation of public  debt declines. Deficits decelerate. The 2nd derivative of debt is negative. 


That chart extended until 2015 or so. Now see a second chart offering the exact same data (over a wider period from WW-II up to 2017) with different graphics that some of you might prefer.



Now, skip ahead to 2020.
I self-published Polemical Judo in hope that a politician or pundit – even just one - on the Union side of this phase (#8) of the US Civil War would show enough agility to actually try some new tactics. My hope (and hard work) was forlorn. But never mind that. Here’s the version of the chart that I included in the book, showing my prediction for the incoming Trump administration. And yes, that forecast came true, to a degree that’s eerie.


Moreover, look at the next slide’s red & green arrows in the upper right, showing most-recent trends. They portray (a bit off due to MS Office) how Trump and then Biden wrought exactly the same pattern that I’ve tried to get folks to notice since 2015. 

Again, it is a perfect correlation that no one declares with the vehemence it deserves. Not even Robert Reich or Al Franken.




Okay, last chart. It shows the same effects, only in the FIRST derivative of public debt-to-GDP. And yes, the trend – again – is absolutely perfect.


== The biggest mystery in all this ==


Finally, why do dem pols never bray about this, since it should help corner a million wavering decent-folk Republicans into realizing they’ve been had, for decades, by a hypocritical cult incantation?  Shouldn’t this totally absolute correlation help peel many thousands away from the lobotomized, jabbering-treason Fox cult? 


Should not some dem pols or pundits at least try?

The reason that they don’t is simple. Because of the left. Because our own side’s cults – while fantastically less-harmful than the Mad Right – are still nut jobs who yowl insipid nonsense like ‘Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).’ 


“If deficits are going down, it means we’re not spending enough!”


Instead of viewing this ‘fiscal responsibility correlation’ as a wonderful weapon to eviscerate Republican hypocrisy, those leftists are guaranteed to behave exactly the way Fox wants to portray all Democrats -- as extravagant wastrels who want only to spend us into penury.


Yes, Joe Biden and the Democratic political castes did just spend a vast amount in their stimulus bills. They also fixed a few (far from all) of the horrendous ‘supply side’ vampire tax cheats that the GOP has given to blood-sucking oligarchy, across the last generation. 


That, plus re-funding the IRS to go after the cheater moguls and Wall Street parasites and inheritance brats, is why the net outcome of the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi bills will be to reduce poverty, unemployment, infrastructure decay AND deficits, yet again. 


It's win-win that could be parlayed into electoral victories, if played right. (Bets whether our own mad wing will allow it, though? Sanctimony is always preferable to pragmatic progress.)


== Anybody listening? Hello? ==


And so, there we are. A factual correlation so perfect that it ought to be a powerful weapon for the side of the Enlightenment Experiment, or at least the basis for many aggressive wagers… 


…but alas a correlation that will instead (again) only appear on this blog. Because… well…


…In fact, I haven’t the foggiest notion why I have to shout these things into apparent vacuum. Maybe I should finally take a hint and shut t f up.. 


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


== Addenda ==


Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would require super PACs and “dark money” groups to disclose large donors, The Washington Post reports.


Despite supply chain ructions and war caused by the prior administration. Bet me now over comparable actual economic outcomes... including federal deficits... across full democratic vs republican administrations.  I have not met a Foxite with the guts of a tardigrade, to back up their blowhard assertions.



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


== Final question ==


Would these missives get a lot more attention if I did them as podcasts? I don't really want to. 


But look at this guy.


Oh, he's entertaining and clever. Makes a few good points, amid all the pyrotechnic drama... and knows virtually nothing about privacy other than shallow surfaces.


 But 850,000 views? Jesus. Nobody reads anymore.  We're doomed, I guess, after all. 


104 comments:

David Brin said...

SMBC time again.

This is the theological answer to Revelations, actually. The dinosaurs were victims of a huge grudge on the part of Noah.
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/right-in

ere's the fantasy of all those neo monarchist twits;
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/noble

And this one channels my comedy THE ANCIENT ONES:
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/full-moon

Wisdom
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/stages

Unknown said...

We’re reading, David. My wife runs a bookstore and sales have never been better. People are paying attention.

duncan cairncross said...

As a died in the wool "Lefty" I would agree with the howl of

“If deficits are going down, it means we’re not spending enough!”

But your examples show clear as day that "too little" spent in the right place is vastly hugely more effective than "a lot" spent in the WRONG place!

Giving money to the rich is like helping a hydro scheme by adding water AFTER the dam
Giving money to the poor is like adding water BEFORE the dam

You can give huge amounts of money to the rich and it simply does NOT help
Giving to the poor is EFFECTIVE - and we do need to give more

Not sure how you handle that with Faux News - not sure it makes ANY difference what "the left" or anybody actually SAYS those bastards will simply lie about it anyway

Mike said...

A major factor is Republicans' use of what I have called the Politics of Denial (the title of my 1996 book--reprinted by MIT Press in 2016 with a new Introduction as "Raised to Rage: THe Politics of Anger and the Roots of Authoritarianism").
Childhood experiences of harsh punishment create higher support for punitive public policies in adulthood that have a strong component of power, toughness and retribution (e.g., the death penalty, use of military force). We have multiple peer-reviewed studies validating this effect. Here is a 2020 interview we did with MIT Press about Raised to Rage: https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/authoritarianism-in-training-donald-trump-roots-of-anger/?fbclid=IwAR33UYmcJ6vPxbIFupp3ClQvsoV3UkeXajLg4k9_vfM8g_TpMujeh4Za41Y. Our model is "affect displacement."

This relationship remains significant even after controlling for parents' political ideology: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2014-10459-005

In our original paper, we did an experiment asking people to state their attitudes to the death penalty either before or after recalling their childhood punishment. In the Recall group, support for the death penalty was significantly reduced. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1996-14193-001

Republicans have been very good at activating emotions of fear and anger that have their roots in childhood.

Lorraine said...

I'm not crazy about podcasts, but it's become impossible to ignore the fact that the blogosphere is dead, dead, dead. I suppose it had to be killed (pivot to video, anyone?) because blogging has near-zero entry costs and apparently there's a law of economics to the effect that no online activity can go unmonetized. Meanwhile every YouTuber is doing a Patreon to buy that Neumann microphone or Radracr gaming chair.

gregory byshenk said...

David, in the main post, writes:

Finally, why do dem pols never bray about this, since it should help corner a million wavering decent-folk Republicans into realizing they’ve been had, for decades, by a hypocritical cult incantation? Shouldn’t this totally absolute correlation help peel many thousands away from the lobotomized, jabbering-treason Fox cult?

Should not some dem pols or pundits at least try?

The reason that they don’t is simple. Because of the left. Because our own side’s cults – while fantastically less-harmful than the Mad Right – are still nut jobs who yowl insipid nonsense like ‘Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).’


Do you really think this "reason" makes sense? That not just the more conservative Democrats, but those who basically hate the left, are just afraid that some nut jobs will disagree? I'd say this doesn't even pass the laugh test.

I would suggest that the actual reason is that such arguments have shown themselves to be ineffective. You have gone at at some length about the "war on expertise": how far do you think someone will get with the "lobotomized, jabbering-treason Fox cult" with some complicated egggead argument about the "2nd derivative" of a function or "the center pivot of the debt trajectory"?

It is not that this sort of thing is unknown to anyone actually paying attention. A Google search for "economy does better under democrats" will provide pages and pages of results of people pointing out (in both opinion and news pieces) that the Democrats do better on pretty much every economic measure than the Republicans.

But the argument is one that you cannot make in 30 seconds to someone who doesn't already understand the math, so after making it the response is something like "yes, that's what you say, but the Republicans cut taxes!"

And this is what kills the plan. When it comes down to it, very few people really understand what the deficit (and debt) are about, and even fewer actually care. Yes, it is a convenient stick for Republicans to beat Democrats with when there is talk about spending money to actually help people, but even those wielding the stick don't actually care, for the most part. What the vast majority of voters care about is "I want lower taxes", and that is the extent of their understanding.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

Giving money to the rich is like helping a hydro scheme by adding water AFTER the dam
Giving money to the poor is like adding water BEFORE the dam


I've literally been ranting that exact thing for decades now. Money doesn't "trickle down" from rich to poor. It falls as if in a gravitational field from low concentration toward high concentration.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

…In fact, I haven’t the foggiest notion why I have to shout these things into apparent vacuum. Maybe I should finally take a hint and shut t f up..


In response, I re-posted my excerpt from Bluebeard as an explanation of why you are not getting through to the general public. For some reason, Blogger seems to have deleted the newer post. I strongly suggest you re-read it on the previous comments page, and understand that you are the first kind of specialist mentioned, but you require an alliance with the other two in order to make headway.

David Brin said...

Mike very interesting stuff and yes, I recall your research. And attitudes of Red America do have a lot to do with fear, as many have shown. I am sure you’ve seen my ‘horizons’ essay making it darn plain.Altruistic Horizons: Our tribal natures, the 'fear effect' and the end of ideologies
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2015/07/altruistic-horizons-our-tribal-natures.html

Greg B seriously? You are telling me the far-left would NOT leap to punish Biden the very instant he bragged that deficits were going down? They are already simmering with resentment that he has left them no choice but to support him. They will betray the democratic coalition at any excuse, proved time and again.

LH… some might argue I am already a decent practitioner of the other two arts. I am spread too thin.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH… some might argue I am already a decent practitioner of the other two arts. I am spread too thin.


Some might argue that a working combination of all three specialists would not find themselves having to ask whether they should simply shut the f up.

I think I'm actually somewhat qualified as the third type--the one who can explain anything to anybody in terms they'll understand. What I'm not good at coming up with my own things to explain. I even occasionally refer to myself as a translator droid. But I'm less in a position to be paid attention to by those with power to change things than you are, and the people who listen to me at all are mostly those who already agree with me. We're desperately in need of that second specialist--the one who has credibility when vouching for us as being worth listening to.

David Brin said...

Good stuff from Duncan… though please… you were DYED in the wool. The other spelling makes me sad.

Unknown said...

Dr. Brin,

I argued similarly in the lead up to the 2016 election; a Republican (now GQP) victory would mean higher deficits. My reasoning was simple - taxes would be cut and military spending increased. I was actually treated to the response that tax cuts would increase government revenue due to supply side magic*. Against this, even the Krugman struggles in vain - it's one of the "Zombie Ideas" he mentions in his book.

I'll also throw in (even though I have almost no economic training) that classic economic theory involves transactions that are only a subset of human economic activity, much of which does not involve money. Alfred touched on this in the last thread. He might not agree me, though, that a benevolent AI's reordering of human economics might well look like MMT.

*To be fair, the proponent then frowned and said, "Well, it's got to improve the economy SOME TIME..." So maybe some light was dawning on that far-off darkling plain.

Pappenheimer

Unknown said...

Also, Dr. Brin,

I once had to clean some llama wool for a spousal project (creating a garment from raw wool to thread to cloth) and it was obviously from a very dirty llama and that something HAD died in the wool.

Pappenheimer

Unknown said...

Larry,

" It falls as if in a gravitational field from low concentration toward high concentration."

That describes air flow in meteorology, by the way. Adjusted by Coriolis force and local geostrophic effect (terrain), of course.

Pappenheimer

David Brin said...

Unknown that is why I cannot comprehend why even bright guys like Krugman cannot conceive of using simple illustration-polemics to make the point.

Academic speech and convolution do not match the effectiveness of: "Wager $$$ NOW whether Republican administrations have EVER been as fiscally responsible as ALL Democratic ones are."

---

Former (and probably current) Putin stooge Michael Flynn is railing against US aid to Ukraine.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

You are describing a leeching process. Water dissolves salts of copper and carries them away to be concentrated somewhere. We mine for copper wherever those places are.

Money moves one way, but value received flows the other way… except where money is taken and redistributed.

gregory byshenk said...

David Brin said...
Greg B seriously? You are telling me the far-left would NOT leap to punish Biden the very instant he bragged that deficits were going down? They are already simmering with resentment that he has left them no choice but to support him. They will betray the democratic coalition at any excuse, proved time and again.

No, I am not. Indeed, I suspect that at least some on the far left would complain if Biden (or anyone else) bragged that deficits were going down.

I am saying that this is not the real cause of the problem.

Not only is the "far left" in the USA a tiny part of the population, but the ones who would refuse to vote a Democrat in such a case are the ones who are already doing so.

The real cause is that there would be some small cost to Biden (or someone else) bragging in this way - if only in twitter rants and additional media commentary about "Democrats in disarray" - with no benefit, because it would succeed in convincing almost no one to change their vote.

Let me ask a question. You move in fairly rarified intellectual circles, among those who can follow your math and who are not already prejudiced against expertise. How many people - individuals, even, in situations where you can take the time to explain - have you convinced to change their vote based on this argument?

David Brin said...

"Not only is the "far left" in the USA a tiny part of the population, but the ones who would refuse to vote a Democrat in such a case are the ones who are already doing so."

Sorry GB but both assertions are dead wrong. The woke-ist fierce lefties are a huge minority in the DP. They do some good by keeping pressure on for progress... and there are millions of them who are eager for the day when they might do in the DP what MAGA has done in the GOP.

What? you think we don't have on our side many righteously science-hating dogmatic sanctimony junkies of our own? Jesus.

Tell it to President Al Gore. It takes a LOT to get them to hold their noses (while not lifting a finger) to help the Union side. Obama used two things - polemical genius and being black.

Tim H. said...

Found an interesting take-down of "Trickle-down economics" embedded in a critique of the militant lunacy of UK "conservatives":
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/01/trickle-down-liz-truss-thatcher-blair-osborne-britain-keir-starmer
Tip of the hat to the commentariat @ charlie's diary.

David Brin said...

SMBC. This is the theological answer to Revelations, actually. The dinosaurs were victims of a huge grudge on the part of Noah.
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/right-in
ere's the fantasy of all those neo monarchist twits;
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/noble
And this one channels my comedy THE ANCIENT ONES:
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/full-moon
Wisdom
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/stages

But this one is (as the author admits) just a lame rant, buying into the desperate propaganda against universities that is subsidized by a world oligarchy who know that the one thing standing in the way of their all-out power is a quarter of a billion nerdy professionals trained at those universities. Could universities be improved tremendously? Easily… by the students themselves! By once a month picking AT RANDOM some door on campus to knock on and ask: “Pardon me, but what do you do here?” Do that once a month and you will graduate with something far more important than the diploma.
https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/liberal-education

Still, he has this in common with me: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/garden

Alfred Differ said...

Flynn is railing against US aid to Ukraine

Of course he is. I doubt he has much choice in the matter any longer. At best, he's doing what's necessary to keep his son out of prison. More likely, though, is he's rationalized an anti-patriotic stance thinking he knows better than all the rest of us.

David,

If you want to do podcasts/videos like that, you'll likely need a small team backing you up. Much like getting a book from thoughts to shelves, there is a team of people with various skills. They aren't as big as movie production teams, but the guys who try to go it alone... look like they're going it alone.

I bought some audio gear many years ago. Still have it. Recorded myself a few times on a topic I think I know well. Faced a learning curve with the audio management software that I began to climb. I eventually stopped when I pondered redesigning my office to work as a sound studio.

I could have done it, but I wasn't THAT dedicated to the new skill set. It would have made a whole lot more sense to team up with someone who already had the skill but lacked something I could bring to the team.

Acacia H. said...

Quick science-based question for you, Dr. Brin, and something that might tickle your astrophysics itch.

I have a hypothesis that "dark energy" and the expansion of the universe is in fact caused by gravitational waves stretching the fabric of space-time. The initial rapid expanse was caused by initial gravitational waves reflecting back on each other and stressing space-time through constructive and destructive interference patterns. But then everything "slowed down" for a while until we started seeing black hole and neutron star mergers. These are creating additional gravitational waves, and with the increasing number of black holes and neutron stars out there, the fabric of space-time is being stretched more and more, and thus accelerating the expansion of the universe as a result.

We could even, in theory, observe this in action if we see several pairs of neutron stars or black holes merging within the same region of space. The resulting constructive and destructive interference in the gravitational waves would "distort" space-time in that region, resulting in some regions expanding the tiniest bit faster than other regions. Of course, such detection would require extremely powerful telescopes unless they occurred within our own galaxy, but in theory it still would be detectable.

What are your thoughts on this hypothesis?

Acacia H.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Acacia

You need to use your "model" to do some "predictions" about just what the universe would look like
Then check those against the known observations

THEN use it to predict some observations that we have not done yet

gregory byshenk said...

David Brin said...
"Not only is the "far left" in the USA a tiny part of the population, but the ones who would refuse to vote a Democrat in such a case are the ones who are already doing so."
[...]
What? you think we don't have on our side many righteously science-hating dogmatic sanctimony junkies of our own? Jesus.


I do think that there are dogmatic sanctimony junkies on the left. The thing is, that is not the issue.

Tell it to President Al Gore. It takes a LOT to get them to hold their noses (while not lifting a finger) to help the Union side. Obama used two things - polemical genius and being black.

This depends a bit on which "them" you are talking about. The 2020 election was unique, due to a strong and (in some ways) charismatic third party candidate. But even then, Nader received less than 3% of the vote, which was less than half that of what Anderson received in 1980 and less than one-fifth of what Perot received in 1992. And recall that in 2012, 2016, and 2020, the Greens received no more than 1% of the vote - and in every case less than the Libertarians. Are you suggesting that Clinton and Biden were tailoring their campaign to the "far left"?


But again, this is not the point I was making. The point is that every strategy must balance costs and benefits. Bragging about deficit reduction has a cost - I think a trivial one; you think a larger one - but that must be balanced by some greater benefit, or it is a failing strategy.

Yes, your argument - that Democrats are more fiscally responsible than Republicans - is correct. But it is also complicated and not easy to put into a 30-second pitch, in that it relies on things like "a positive 2nd derivative of public debt" and "the center pivot of the debt trajectory" that are not obvious to the majority of the population, sound like egghead-speak, and will easily be countered by those feeding "the lobotomized, jabbering-treason Fox cult". Not logically, of course, but just by ridiculing the eggheads. And thus it will convert no one.

You mention Gore above, but recall that part of the reason Gore lost was because he was "too smart" (as Richard Reeves put it in a column a month before the election). H wrote:

This is what I thought: Al Gore just clobbered George W. Bush in their first television debate. It was the most one-sided candidate contest I've ever seen.

[...]

I was surprised, then, two minutes or so after it was over, to realize that Vice President Gore probably lost the debate in the real world. I watched the action, if that's the right word, on ABC News. That network switched to Tampa, Fla., where correspondent Linda Douglass was talking with your usual group of "average" voters. The first person she handed the microphone to was a young woman, who said she kind of agreed with Bush when he accused Gore of using "fuzzy numbers."

That was a clever phrase, but it did not impress me because whatever Al Gore is, he's not fuzzy. Bush is the fuzzy, fudgie one. But what she said next about Gore made powerful sense: "I couldn't follow what he was saying."


That is the issue. An argument - no matter how good it is - will not convince people if they don't understand it. And if people don't understand it, then it can be countered by a Reaganesque chuckle or a bit of ridicule of the egghead who is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the "ordinary American".

Tony Fisk said...

"You are telling me the far-left would NOT leap to punish Biden the very instant he bragged that deficits were going down?"

As it happens, the last tweet from the man himself reads:
"@JoeBiden: Republicans are always talking about the deficit. Well, guess what? The last guy increased the debt with tax cuts for big corporations. Not a penny of it was paid for.

This year, we've reduced the deficit by more than $1 trillion."


Blue touch paper lit...

Tony Fisk said...

... offered in spirit of experiment.

Unknown said...

Are, then, the far left leaping to punish Biden?

Pappenheimer, who avoids twitter like the proverbial snow-covered minefield

locumranch said...

Our good host doesn't understand why other humans won't follow his direction to achieve perfection, even though L. Sprague de Camp provided the answer to this question about 80 years ago in a link given in the last thread.

The answer goes something like this:

If you truly believe that perfection is the only thing worth striving for, then why in heck would you (or anyone) follow the direction of another imperfect human if you truly believe that perfection is the only thing worth striving for?

It's a Kafkatrap of an answer that cannot be countered without a breathtaking display of comeuppance-worthy arrogance, ego & hubris, plus it provides the rationale behind the heretofore inexplicable 'War on Smart People'.

Please let me know if & when any of you Smart People solve this puzzle because, when you do, I will help you 'heal the world'.


Best

Alan Brooks said...

Who says anything about perfection? Religionists? Communists? Do physicians seek perfection?
All the majority of people do is attempt to make the ‘Best’ (as you sign-off after every comment) of things.
Such as this:
https://pbs.twimg.com/tweet_video_thumb/FeEcmzGWAAAS73X?format=jpg&name=small

Acacia H. said...

Duncan, I do not possess the mathematical skills to actually work out the math to see if my hypothesis works or not. What I'm thinking of would be the initial statement from which real scientists with the knowledge work upon.

One thing I truly hate about "Dark Energy" and "Dark Matter" is that these things just "exist" without our being able to "see" them. Our host is rightfully skeptical about magic. To me, Dark Matter and Dark Energy is physics "magic" to handwave away what we cannot explain otherwise. But we have detected and measured gravitational waves. If these can be used to explain the "Dark Energy" phenomena, then I'll be quite happy at de-mystifying an aspect of physics that should not be handwaved away as magic under a different name.

Acacia

David Brin said...

Acacia hi. Your scenario re dark energy is fun what-if. And it is a joy to live in a society where the ‘priests’ encourage amateur ruminations. The good news is that it is a plausible-sounding scenario. The rub is that folks like Kip Thorne have certainly explored every possible contribution to the gravitational wave fluxes in the early and present universe.

G-wave interference certainly plays a role in LIGO studies… though not to the degree that I posit in my speculations (in EARTH) re ‘gravity lasers’ !


Greg B: Nobody had effects on US politics like Nader and Stein. They could easily have said “trade votes with each other so our movement will gain momentum, but NOT in states like Florida where human destiny hangs in the balance.” Nader’s effect on the global ecosystem netted a vast NEGATIVE across his entire life, because he did not do that.

“Bragging about deficit reduction has a cost - I think a trivial one; you think a larger one - but that must be balanced by some greater benefit, or it is a failing strategy.”

There are two paths to wiping out the confederate-Putinist-MAGA madness. (1) Keep the coalition together and get out the reluctant lefties. (2) peel away decent US conservatives by hammering that that Fox has lied to them. Brag points that might achieve the latter (“We cut deficits and businesses flourish and competition rises, under us”) WILL cause lefties to sneer “Biden Pelosi are just Republican lite!”

You know that. You have likely seen it. I sure have.

Such people are (like our resident flatlanders) wholly incapable of seeing positive sum.


Tony F. Howdy. Yeah, Biden can get away with making the point a bit. He doesn’t dare hammer it, alas.

(Enjoy our summer (no big fires, please) and then please give it back?)


locum is raving at a strawman again. No pertinence to anything having to do with anything I ever said. Sigh.


Larry Hart said...

Acacia H:

But we have detected and measured gravitational waves.


I'm confused. Not pretending to be for effect, but really confused. I thought gravity wasn't a real thing, but just an illusion produced by the bending of space-time. If gravitational waves are a real thing, then why does that other idea persist?

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

When something like that is an illusion, that doesn't make it not useful to use in the model.

The illusion, though, is really about gravity as a 'thing' independent of space-time. Electromagnetism is. Gravity isn't.

(The high end unification theories try to make all the forces kinda the same thing. There are a few ways to do it, but casting them as geometric illusions in some large dimensional space is one of the things we try.)

No matter what form these forces take, though, waves in them just fall out from the way they propagate. The waves are a classical metaphor that remains useful when a lot of interactions occur. (Not as useful for single events.)

David Brin said...

Acacia, when you have a shape... and that shape is deformed by a force, that deformation tugs on neighboring regions and a wave propagates.

===

Any of you have links about the cosmetics billionaire who tried talking trump into buying Greenland. The moronically narcissistic reasons are obvious. But could they really have been so stooped about execution? Anyone sane in this century would have started with a cash and charm campaign at the native Greenlander indigenous community. Not all billionaires are morons. But I’m realizing it is a majority.

Larry Hart said...



Here's one article:
Dr Brin:

Any of you have links about the cosmetics billionaire who tried talking trump into buying Greenland


https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/us/politics/trump-greenland.html

Although it doesn't say much about why the billionaire wanted the deal. For Trump, it might have been because of how huge Greenland appears on maps where longitude lines are pictured parallel to one another.


He [Trump] added: “I love maps. And I always said: ‘Look at the size of this. It’s massive. That should be part of the United States.’”

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Acacia

The biggest issue with ideas like yours appears to be that "Dark Matter" (detectable by gravity) is not "uniform" - it appears to be "clumpy" - and with no discernable pattern
(some galaxies appear to have a lot more than others)

If future observations show some sort of pattern THEN an idea like yours may be useful

David Brin said...

LH it was DT's bid to get next to Jefferson on Mt Rushmore.

Tacitus said...

Hey all.

I check in every few weeks, see what's going on at the old stand. The economics discussions I find inscrutable and the political stuff moderately alarming, but in both cases y'all are drawing on your own situations and life experiences and so I approve wholeheartedly in the expressive activity.

But once in a while something catches my eye. "...the blogosphere is dead, dead, dead."

I understand the perspective. Blogging, just anybody putting thoughts out into the ether, never took off as expected. I can't speak for DB but I keep slogging away three times a week because I enjoy the activity and feel it helps me sharpen my thinking generally and expression of thoughts specifically. I've never tried to make a dime off of it and can't see why anyone would want to.

But the problem is worse, far worse. I think communication as a whole is dying. Pick your metric. Newspapers, broadcast TV, book sales, lately even streaming services have had down turns.

What's left? Twitter, to the extent that Musk is not correct about it being inhabited by bots, is a megaphone of the superficial. Youtube has some great niche stuff, especially How To material, but so much of it is dreck. 10 hours of gentle rain music. People's mighty accomplishments in Minecraft to bookend what I assume are minimal achievements in the real world. Try disabling History and clicking "Don't show me this" liberally for a while and you'll see what dross they send you.

It is driven from the bottom up. Our educational system no longer seems to be trying very hard to teach kids communication skills. I say this fully realizing how hard this job has become.

Tomorrow I'll be speaking to a Learning in Retirement group. Great folks, I can make allusions to Hadrian's ambiguous sexuality and they'll get the reference. Tuesday I'll spend time with the FIRST robotics team. Brighter by far than the average HS kids they still give me blank stares when I use words like "atrophy". It's becoming a TikTok world of non communication.

Well I'm still fighting. Thursday I am starting up my middle school cryptography, puzzle solving, logic class. "Devices" by instructor permission only. Solve the series of puzzles and figure out the 6 digit code that opens the padlock and they get entirely unhealthy snack foods as a reward.

The fight isn't lost, but we are contending with a rising generation whose interface with reality involves small glass screens, shallow ideas and emojis.

Tacitus

duncan cairncross said...

Tacitus

That "cry from the heart" is the same as every generation since the Romans!

"Todays kids are not as good as we were" -
When in truth "Todays kids are BETTER than we were"

Larry Hart said...

Tacitus:

What's left? Twitter, to the extent that Musk is not correct about it being inhabited by bots, is a megaphone of the superficial. Youtube has some great niche stuff, especially How To material, but so much of it is dreck.


I think one thing you're noticing is that there is no longer any such thing as "the public square" in which the same information is received and agreed upon as true by the community at large.

You're old enough to remember how, after a particularly provocative episode of All in the Family or M*A*S*H or name the tv show, people at work the next day would be discussing what happened. They all saw the same thing. And if something was prominent on the news--the three networks and local radio--everybody heard about the same thing at (roughly) the same time.

Life doesn't seem to be like that any more. Both news and entertainment are compartmentalized such that we don't even agree on what really happened or what's true any longer. So you can put your thoughts "out there" all you want, but even if you find an audience, there are millions more people who won't see it than those who do.

David Brin said...

Tacitus good to have you come by and thanks for having your hand in, at robotics.

While I am tempted to sing "Kids!" from Bye Bye Birdie (Someone recite here the $ quote-verse!) I think you are missing the forest for trees.

US high school grads KNOW very little, it's true. Because the beight half spent most of their HS classes ARGUING. They are very very good at that. Then in college, many of them decide to learn some actual stuff.

Unknown said...

Tacitus,

Youtube contains a lot of dreck to be sure, but some of the niche stuff is gold. As a history major I was impressed by the Midway (Battle of) trilogy created by Montemayor - highly accurate and free from large explosions, though there are lines in it ripped straight out a specific history book. There's also a guy, nom de e-plume Atun-Shei, who did a series debunking the Glorious Lost Cause myth so beloved south of the Mason-Dixon line, and (embarrassingly often) north of it too, called "Checkmate, Lincolnites!", and who footnotes his videos. Hilarious and informative.

Pappenheimer

scidata said...

Tacitus: communication as a whole is dying

Anything that is made too easy is destroyed. Perhaps counter-intuitive, but the experience of many (including myself, and Mark Zuckerberg ultimately).

"Fricative Computing" (actually about frictional writing) by Moshe Vardi (2013)
https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2013/5/163774-fricative-computing/fulltext

Cari Burstein said...

Blogs aren't as popular as they used to be but hopefully they don't die out entirely. I realize a lot of people prefer other ways to get their information, but I can't stand watching YouTube videos. Most are dreck or overly "entertainment" oriented for my tastes, and you can't easily scan to see if it's actually something of interest to you. You also can't process it as quickly generally as reading, or jump around with ease. I also find it difficult to process auditory information as well as reading, so if I do find something that I must watch in video form, I turn on the closed captioning if there's no transcript and then cringe at how badly it's done.

Podcasts are even worse to me- they're entirely auditory which means I pretty much can't process them effectively. Some might have interesting content, but a lot feel like they're just full of silly shoved in entertainment elements. To be fair most of my exposure to YouTube and podcasts are things my boyfriend likes to watch/listen to, since they are not my preferred form of entertainment. But I find even when he's watching or listening to something that interests me, I find it so difficult to engage in the format.

For some content I'm sure a video or a podcast is the best way to present the information, but the types of information that interest me feel best served by a blog format so I'm glad there are still folks like Brin and ElectoralVote.com and Scalzi that regularly post to them. It'd be nice if Stonekettle made more frequent posts- his are great but so rare!

I think the world has room for a lot of variety in formats of content and I do hope we don't overly consolidate into specific ones.

Acacia H. said...

There's always Tumblr. I know folks claim it's dead all the time, but trust me, it's around and still kicking. And it's not all pornbots. ;)

There's always going to be a place for blogs and long-form written thought on the Internet. Because there are people who actually enjoy thinking and reading. This is true even among the youngest out there.

Acacia H.

Larry Hart said...

Cari Burstein:

It'd be nice if Stonekettle made more frequent posts- his are great but so rare!


He seems to have gone mostly to Twitter now, and just posts on his site every blue moon.

Larry Hart said...

@Everyone,

I don't think Tacitus's lament was that you can't find anything worth reading on the internet, but that you can't easily find an audience for your own thoughts.

Tacitus said...

Larry

I'm not especially concerned about whether people read my stuff. What does concern me is what I perceive as a decline in "literacy" in all its forms. Writing and reading ability. Being competent at organizing ideas and presenting them in coherent form. Speaking in a live format. Heck, simply being able to sort out the dross from the gold and being able to concentrate long enough to learn things. Yes I'm an old man yelling at punks to get off my lawn. But the longitudinal studies of say, reading ability, bear me up. Significant tail off in the last couple of years. Yes, Covid. But that educational disaster can't be considered a sole cause of generation TikTok. Just as it took its Darwinian toll of marginal businesses it accelerated what I see as an ongoing failure of our educational system.

I can always talk to my grandchildren, and to dogs and small forest creatures. They find me exceedingly entertaining.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Envious of the grandchildren.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Envious of the grandchildren.


If you build it, they will come. :)

matthew said...

We can thank billionaires and hedge fund managers for the decline in reading. There has been a concerted effort by the ultra-rich to buy up and ruin newspapers, websites, short video formats, network channels, etc. in order to control the messages and monetize what cannot be controlled.

From the NYT getting rid of its public editor, to CNN and the Washington Post destroying the careers of anyone doing media analysis within their organization, we are seeing a deliberate attack by the ultra-rich on basic literacy.


gregory byshenk said...

David Brin said...
There are two paths to wiping out the confederate-Putinist-MAGA madness. (1) Keep the coalition together and get out the reluctant lefties. (2) peel away decent US conservatives by hammering that that Fox has lied to them. Brag points that might achieve the latter (“We cut deficits and businesses flourish and competition rises, under us”) WILL cause lefties to sneer “Biden Pelosi are just Republican lite!”

So let's assume that this is true. Let us suppose that "hammering" the point (as you acknowledge, the point has already been made by Biden) would quadruple the "lefty"/Green vote from the last election. That would bring it to just over one percent. If we suppose that it would make the vote twelve times higher than the last election, then it would equal the percentage of the vote Nader received for the Greens in 2002 - which is the very best that the Greens have ever achieved, and their support has never reached even half that level again.

This means that, if I understand your argument, you seem to recognize that this strategy would not be able to convince more than a tiny percentage of potential Republican voters to switch their vote. I argue that this means that hammering on deficits is not an effective stategy (recognizing here that "a good argument" and "an effective strategy" are two different things.) After all, if "Democrats cut deficits (if you look at the second derivative)" really were effective at changing the minds of Republican voters, then it wouldn't matter if it cost the support of half a percent of potential Democratic voters.

But if it does matter, then that is because it will not be effective in convincing Republicans to vote differently.

I think that there are multiple reasons for this. First, the argument is difficult for the average voter to understand, and therefore easy to counter (regardless of the truth or validity of that counter). Second, the number of voters who actually care about the deficit is very small. If they did, then they would have turned out Ronald Reagan and all the other Republicans who ran up the deficit. There are others, as well, but these are the most relevant to the current question.

David Brin said...

GB you are squirming. Sorry man, but you know that the worst harm is not done by Jill Stein activists, but by the far larger clade of preeners who listen to those activists and then shrug "why should I bother voting?" Lefty preening as an excuse for already decided sloth - not just at the polling booth but a general failure to step up and be active - goes to VASTLY more than 1% and you know it.

As for peeling off semi-sane MAGAs, I offer DOZENS of polemical methods in POLEMICAL JUDO. Some have worked in experiments. Most have never been even remotely tried. Hence your last two paras are just rationalized malarkey.

Bill_in_the Middle said...

This is one thing that troubles me about Elon Musk.
https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2022/10/3/7370220/

David Brin said...

BILinTM-
Elon is like many with Aspergers, obsessed with "Aha!" logical riffs. Yes, Kruzschev did a weird thing with Crimea with long range unimaginable consequences. But a plebiscite now would reward the ethnic cleansing that Russia has performed in all occupied territiories, starting in 2014.

A more likely outcome. Crimea and an eastern swathe of the Donbas oblasts become neutral entities where anyone may return to former homes and a referendum is planned in TEN years, so tempers can settle. Zaporiszhia goes back to Ukraine, so Putin does not get rewarded with the Sea of Azov being a Russian lake. And Ukraine can join any alliance it damn well pleases, while the RF must pay war reconstruction reparations.

Alfred Differ said...

Meh. Let’s blame billionaires for another social turn we dislike?

Newspapers collapsed under predictable stresses. Revenue vanished when they couldn’t bring eyes to their advertisers and then they couldn’t pay for talent. The only way to have saved them would have required we uninvent the internet.

duncan cairncross said...

Re the suggested Ukraine "votes"

Up until Russia actually attacked this February then the "ethnic cleansing" would probably have rewarded Russia
The actual fighting will have changed that massively - I suspect a fair poll today would have 10% in favor of joining Russia!

Also note Elon Musk has probably made the second most important individual contribution to the Ukraine resistance (after Zelensky)

The "deficit"
Most of the US population is as you say not too bothered
But up until 2016 the polls showed exactly the same for the UK and "BREXIT" - for the vast majority it was about 16 in their "important" list

Then somehow it became very very important to most people

Not sure if that is helpful but just because something is not seen as important NOW does not mean it cannot be important tomorrow

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding Elon…

Anyone branding a new product “Dishy McFlatface” has a special kinda something going on in his head.

duncan cairncross said...

Anyone branding a new product “Dishy McFlatface” has a special kinda something going on in his head

Its called a sense of humour -
Everything Musk touches from "Ludicrous Speed" to Plaid echoes that massive sense of humour

scidata said...

Re: "uninvent the internet"

That's an extreme version of what Moshe Vardi was on about. Along with online dating and automated stock trading. A poignant argument for pen and paper. I don't think it's troggish to admit that humans struggle in a frictionless world. It's not even AI; the 2010 flash crash was utterly mindless.

David Brin said...

So frustrating! Reports so far do not indicate if this 'debris trail' from the recent DART impact on Dimorphos is an orbital track or a sunlight-driven dust tail like that from a comet. Still... it is way cool!

https://gizmodo.com/telescope-spots-huge-debris-trail-nasa-dart-1849610800

And yes, by providing scads of Starlink stations to Ukraine when they were needed-most, Elon earned a little patience from mobs of armchair generals and diplomats who've done far less.

Cari Burstein said...

Yes, I'm aware Stonekettle mostly posts on Twitter these days. I don't consider Twitter a particularly useful form of communication. I did start following him on Facebook and occasionally he posts interesting things there too, but mostly it's his long form essays I enjoy and he almost never posts those anymore sadly.

locumranch said...

Elon Musk and Seth McFarlane are the same person: Check their photos.
_______

Hail, Tacitus!

Rather than a decline in literacy, it's more of a collapse of our collective interest as we pretend to 'know' that our current official take on circumstance is the only correct & true take on current circumstance.

We're a Dead Time culture, stuck in between acts, waiting for what comes next, following a much ballyhooed & triumphant 'end of history' in which all of our big & important questions appear to have been answered.

On to this blank screen, some project (in every sense of the word) and create bold & improbable spectaculars, but most are passive, having been conditioned to stimulus-response.

To those motivated few who choose to fight all odds & swim against the tide, I'm impressed, even though this may not be the best action if you are to survive.


Best

gregory byshenk said...

duncan cairncross said...
The "deficit"
Most of the US population is as you say not too bothered

But up until 2016 the polls showed exactly the same for the UK and "BREXIT" - for the vast majority it was about 16 in their "important" list

Then somehow it became very very important to most people

Not sure if that is helpful but just because something is not seen as important NOW does not mean it cannot be important tomorrow


Whether or not people actually care about something has nothing to do with whether or not it is important. People care about taxes and inflation, but the deficit is too abstract and very few people understand the complex relation between deficit, taxes, inflation, and the rest. And this lack of understanding extents to a large number of those who do claim to care about it.

An example of the problem here is to be found in the occasional attempts by Democrats to counter the "tax and spend" claim with the response that Republicans pursue a "borrow and spend" policy. Unfortunately, this has never been particularly successful, because what people care about are taxes, not spending. (Well, apart from a small number of libertarian-leaning people who are opposed to spending in general, but these aren't people than Democrats are going to attract.)

Tacitus said...

locumranch

Dead time? Perhaps. I prefer to think we are in a phase that is akin to just before the Antonine or "good" emperors of the Roman Empire. The irreplaceable Mr. Gibbon:

"If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus. The vast extent of the Roman empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of virtue and wisdom. The armies were restrained by the firm but gentle hand of four successive emperors, whose characters and authority commanded involuntary respect. The forms of the civil administration were carefully preserved by Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines, who delighted in the image of liberty, and were pleased with considering themselves as the accountable ministers of the laws."

Decline and Fall was of course a commentary on the British Empire of his day. He admired many things about Rome while being liberal with his criticism. The Antonines figured out, for a while anyway, a means of transferring power without bloodshed and without the necessity of crowning incompetent butchers who happened to be sons of a better man. And the Empire had at that time pulled in its over extended frontiers and fortified the ones it meant business defending.

There are many parallels to our own times. I make this as an observation not as a cry to battle where we draw our respective gladii and start a fratricidal political fight.

Gibbon would not approve. Nor do I.

Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

Cari Burstein:

I'm aware Stonekettle mostly posts on Twitter these days. I don't consider Twitter a particularly useful form of communication.
...
but mostly it's his long form essays I enjoy and he almost never posts those anymore sadly.


I can't argue with any of that.

Larry Hart said...

gregory byshenk:

An example of the problem here is to be found in the occasional attempts by Democrats to counter the "tax and spend" claim with the response that Republicans pursue a "borrow and spend" policy. Unfortunately, this has never been particularly successful, because what people care about are taxes, not spending.


What that proves is that those "deficit hawks" don't care about the deficit. Because borrowing-and-spending increases the deficit, while taxing-and-spending does not. And they always prefer the former to the latter.

Darrell E said...

gregory byshenk said...

"I think that there are multiple reasons for this. First, the argument is difficult for the average voter to understand, and therefore easy to counter (regardless of the truth or validity of that counter)."

I don't see that as the problem. The RP doesn't spend any effort to counter arguments against their claims that the DP increases the deficit, and that increasing the deficit is really, really bad. I agree that the general voting public doesn't know much of anything about the deficit and for most it's too complicated for their attention spans, but the real problem is nothing at all to do with reasoned arguments or facts. It has to do with propaganda. Well executed, ruthless, planned propaganda efforts over decades. The RP doesn't explain anything. They don't need to. They simply lie, the same lie, over and over, consistently for years. And of course they know they are lying. And the public is swayed. This sort of Big Lie tactic and how populations respond to it is well known and has been around for all of history. The RP has conditioned their voters, and to one degree or another even their opponents' voters, just like Pavlov conditioned his dogs. The RP doesn't have to spend any time countering arguments against their deficit claims. They've simply conditioned people so that they are impervious to such claims and done it so well that even showing them simple graphs that clearly demonstrate that the truth is opposite of what they've been conditioned to believe has no impact on them.

How do you counter that? I'm not sure, but I suspect it takes a mixed bag of many tactics and time. Arguments, or "debates" if you prefer, are one of those tactics. They can be effective in making incremental progress, particularly in spectators. Ridicule is another worthwhile tool. And clever tactics to counter the propagandists should definitely be attempted. Seems to me the DP should hire the best marketing experts they can find. Or maybe put together a Manhattan Project level project to try and figure out how to beat this age old Big Lie propaganda tactic. That would be worthy of a Nobel prize. Heck, it would be one of the most significant achievements in human history.

"Second, the number of voters who actually care about the deficit is very small. If they did, then they would have turned out Ronald Reagan and all the other Republicans who ran up the deficit. There are others, as well, but these are the most relevant to the current question."

I don't think that's accurate either. Again with the "it's propaganda." Lots of voters care about it in the sense that it is one of the bullet points in their scripture, programmed into their beliefs by relentless propaganda, that validates why the DP is scum that should never be allowed to have power. It's there whenever its needed to add weight to their belief that the DP are the bad guys.

Unknown said...

The USSC is currently generating headlines like this: "Supreme Court Justices Get Chance To Dismantle What’s Left Of Voting Rights Act" and 3 justices are already agreeing that the U.S. Constitution empowers state legislatures alone to determine how elections are run.

OPEC has decided to cut production, in a pretty obvious attempt to influence the US election in favor of the "what climate change?" party here.

NATO foreign policy teams are apparently taking Vlad the Defenestrator's nuclear threats seriously - as in, "how are we going to respond?"

I have not yet quite despaired, but even the good ideas I hear from the sentient faction of humanity are starting to sound like:

"I think that deck chair over there needs to be realigned with the Grand Staircase."

Going for a walk in the hills, and hoping to feel more optimistic upon return.

Pappenheimer

Alfred Differ said...

NATO is doing its job.

When has OPEC not been interested in moving US policy?

SCOTUS matters in a system where check and balance is written into our constitutional fabric.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, yes that period of Pax Romana was somewhat golden... though tell it to the people of Judea.

Stonekettle fans... how about ome of you go on his twitter feed and say "I know a place where there are still fascinating full essay blogs every weekend!"

Pappenheimer we are in tense times when the competence of our nerd and defender castes has been set free after constraint by Putin's puppet. It is likely why Putin launched his desperate gamble.

I pray they can get defectors who will bring over the kompromat.

---

matthew said...

Alfred, it is billionaire social media and hedge fund managers that killed the newspaper and refuse to turn to a micropayment model. Because they are making *money* destroying literacy and democracy.

How many local papers are still locally owned?
What happens when a local paper is bought by a media conglomerate?
What happens when the billionaire owner of the Washington Post decides that he no longer wants media criticism in his paper of record?
What happens when the oligarch publisher of the NYT decides that the Public Editor must go?
What happened to CNN when the new oligarch owner decides that CNN should be Fox-lite (and gets rid of the media-criticism show)?

Remember that Epstein started his blackmail operation by subverting the MIT Media Lab. Remember where the term "yellow journalism" came from.
Remember that the period where America was the most healthy and vibrant was co-incident with the period of the greatest journalistic ethics and competition.

David Brin said...

The answer to Putin's braying justifications is simple: "You have stripped almost all RF troops from NATO's borders with Russia. You would not do that if you thought NATO was a threat. You know you are protected (for now) by Western public opinion against escalation. But just try a nuke. One. Or gas or whatever."
A pack of Finnish cub scouts could reach the Urals in 2 days.

Alfred Differ said...

matthew

I don't buy it. In this case... literally.

I used to deliver a local paper. I remember them very well.

1. They've always been beholden to their owners.
2. They've always depended on advertising revenue.
3. Owners generally wanted to make money, so they had said what would drive revenue.
4. SOMETIMES... subscription costs mattered enough to influence what got said.

Yellow Journalism was one of the US history topics taught to me as a HS junior that really, really stuck with me. The Press is free only in the sense that government can't dictate much of what it can't say. It's never been free of its owners, though. Wanna start a war? Convince publishers it's important to start a war.

The internet radically changed the revenue model. That led to collapses which always leads to ownership changes before dissolution is considered.

What you have now is a different crop of rich people owning those voices.

Don't like it? Think the micropayment idea is a winner?
Start your own and prove it.

Seriously... It's not that hard to print on paper nowadays. It's not that hard to establish for-pay websites.

So... No. I don't buy it. Literally. I don't think the micro-payment system will actually work unless enforced by law. Obviously I'm not a fan of such laws.

duncan cairncross said...

Unlike Alfred I believe that anti-trust types of laws restricting the amount of "the media" that can be owned by a single company/individual ARE a good idea

gregory byshenk said...

Larry Hart said...
What that proves is that those "deficit hawks" don't care about the deficit. Because borrowing-and-spending increases the deficit, while taxing-and-spending does not. And they always prefer the former to the latter.

Well, yes, that is at least arguably true in the majority of cases. But, as I said, it doesn't matter, because the voters don't care either. "But the deficit!" is nothing more than a stick to beat those who would like to spend some of the budget to help people.


Darrell E said...
gregory byshenk said...
"I think that there are multiple reasons for this. First, the argument is difficult for the average voter to understand, and therefore easy to counter (regardless of the truth or validity of that counter)."
I don't see that as the problem. The RP doesn't spend any effort to counter arguments against their claims that the DP increases the deficit, and that increasing the deficit is really, really bad.

But that's part of the point. If the arguments about how deficits work are complex and most people don't understand them, then one doesn't have to provide a solid counterargument. One can get away with nothing more than ridicule of the eggheads and how they talk down to "real Americans".

An argument that listeners does not understand is not convincing to listeners. Yes, those who already agree may nod and feel superior, but it accomplishes nothing for those who do not.

Alfred Differ said...

duncan

I didn't mind anti-trust laws wrt the media many years ago. I think they are less necessary now.

Monolithic media entities have always been a problem no matter who the owners are. Just a generation ago, content delivery was an expensive proposition, so opponents of trusts needed a little help. The way to beat them nowadays is to deprive them of readers thus of mindshare. The costs opponents face in this internet world are much smaller.

Unknown said...

"A pack of Finnish cub scouts could reach the Urals in 2 days."

Important history lesson from the last 300 years = even if the current Russian government is corrupt and incompetent, never march on Moscow. These things don't end well - do you want those draft evaders pouring back across the borders to defend their homes and loved ones? The smartest thing Kaiser Wilhelm's handlers ever did was to instigate a civil war and conclude an advantageous treaty. Might not be as good an idea now with nukes that could get loose.

Pappenheimer

Darrell E said...

Given the dismal general quality of news these days and the general downward trend over the past couple of decades or more, I don't think the free market is up to the challenge.

Alfred, I can't tell if you think the general quality of news hasn't changed for the worse or if you think it has but we are just going through a period of upset due to the advent of the internet and no regulation is required to improve the general quality of news. I think both of those views are inaccurate.

And this isn't a trivial thing. To be clear, I don't the RP could have had anything like the degree of success they have had with their decades long propaganda campaign during the era of Ed Murrow and Walter Cronkite. In that era the standard of news journalism was not to simply relate what both sides have said, especially the juicy stuff, and call that unbiased.

David Brin said...

"A pack of Finnish cub scouts could reach the Urals in 2 days."

You miss my point. Which was an exaggeration of the fact that VP no longer has credible conventional forces facing NATO

Unknown said...

Certainly, point taken first time. But exaggerations like that grate on my brain. I heard enough French military jokes in the service that they left a bad taste.

Pappenheimer

David Brin said...

Point taken Pappenheimer. And yet, America often does the unprecedented.

Kindness to enemies even amid the fading stench of chimneys and cordite.

Counter-mercantilist trade rules during a pax empire, uplifiting the world.

Plunging into a stupid quagmire in Afghanistan to benefit the Cheny family - the land where empires go to die - and shrugging off any harm to ourselves. Even fleeing in gnomy was just a shrug... leaving 5 million Afghani women and girls educated and uppity.

No, it's only the nukes... and the reliable stolidity of Russians toward suffering... that deter me from thinking about the Urals.

But you are right. If Russians don't do it themselves, it won't be done.

Alfred Differ said...

Darrell E,

Quality in journalism isn't quite objective nor subjective. I'd put it in that class of things you know when you see it, but mostly know it by its absence.

I am of the personal opinion that quality in news reporting hasn't changed a lot. What has changed is the volume of crappy news and that moves the average quality which some misinterpret as absence of quality.

The costs associated with publishing online have collapsed to near zero, so the minimum advertising revenue needed to maintain these outlets is also near zero. Compare that to higher costs associated with traditional (especially newspapers) media and you've got a very serious problem if you can't sell the public on the 'experience' they get from the higher cost source. IF news consumption is treated like commodity consumption, low prices ALWAYS win. If news consumption is sold as an experience then anything is possible.

Look at FOX news consumers for example. Are they there to consume a commodity? Hell no. They want the experience they get. They want their sanctimony fix. Watch the pundit shows with the sound turned down and examine the facial expressions of all the talking heads. They are drenched in emotions related to incredulity and smugness. FOX sells an experience for it's watchers and does it rather well.

Now look at traditional local newspapers. What are they selling? Experience? Not likely. Almost all of them almost always sold advertising space and wrote just enough news to ensure their advertisers of a sufficient supply of eyeballs. Is that something you'd pay a lot to buy? In that past, we did because there were no viable options. Today, options exist where I don't pay anything at all AND I don't think I should be paying to be presented to advertisers. Where do I get my news now? Not from sites that sell space to those who want in front of my eyes. Not much. Not anymore.

———

We aren't going back to the days of Cronkite without there first being a thermonuclear war destroying our civilization causing us to re-invent everything. Even then it might not work out. Our internet is really a single beastie and is proving to be the most resilient thing ever invented by humanity.

scidata said...

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
- Fred Rogers

gregory byshenk said...

Alfred Differ said...
I am of the personal opinion that quality in news reporting hasn't changed a lot. What has changed is the volume of crappy news and that moves the average quality which some misinterpret as absence of quality.

The costs associated with publishing online have collapsed to near zero, so the minimum advertising revenue needed to maintain these outlets is also near zero. Compare that to higher costs associated with traditional (especially newspapers) media and you've got a very serious problem if you can't sell the public on the 'experience' they get from the higher cost source.


The costs of putting "something" online have indeed collapsed. Unfortunately, the costs of producing quality content (reporting, fact-checking, editing, etc.) have not. Arguably (see Baumol) they have become (relatively) more expensive than they used to be. A predictable result is that low-quality "news" drives out higher-quality. And this can happen even if a majority of the reader/viewership would prefer the higher-quality.

I would also note two other things.

First, the quality of news reporting has indeed declined. I recall from my childhood that the (hyper-) local newspaper, serving less than 50K people, had a staff of reporters, regularly covering things like local politics, school board meetings, and the like. It is now part of a conglomerate and there are less reporters covering the news for ten times the population, with the obvious decline in quality of news. And the larger dailies, like the Chicago Tribune have similarly declined.

Second, be a little careful about comparing "cost". Yes, Fox costs something to produce (though it is not as high-cost as producing actual journalism), but remember that the viewers by and large don't pay for it, (or at least don't have a choice to pay or not), because it comes as part of their "basic cable" service. As such, it is not operating in a free market the way that newspapers are.

IF news consumption is treated like commodity consumption, low prices ALWAYS win. If news consumption is sold as an experience then anything is possible.

I tend to read this bit as: "news has lost out to entertainment; just accept it."

Lorraine said...

Is Journalism a Merit Good?

Acacia H. said...

"Stonekettle fans... how about some of you go on his twitter feed and say "I know a place where there are still fascinating full essay blogs every weekend!""

Stonekettle's fans (and I am one, though I don't read his stuff often anymore) are less interested in "fascinating full essay blogs" and more interested in how he crafted his essays. Also, he didn't constantly plug old blogs of his which would require searching or clicking links and instead just put everything you needed right into the essay - at least, the essays that I recall off the top of my head.

Honestly, Dr. Brin, while I love your stories, your political blogs tend to be... scolding, more than amusing anecdotes that make you think. Your scientific blogs though... those are the ones I truly love reading. It's at that point that your passion comes out and you catch a glimpse of the man who looks, wide-eyed, up into the night sky and has the stars reflected in those eyes.

Acacia H.

Acacia H. said...

Oh, and as an aside... I personally think that all newspapers and television news should be required to be nonprofit, so that they no longer have incentives to be biased toward certain groups. You would not see a news reporter at Fox News being negative toward those companies that Fox News is indebted toward, and are less likely to see reporters from the Washington Post being quite as... apt to paint in a truly unbiased note the state of, say, Amazon.

If newspapers and other news organizations were nonprofit, they would no longer be fixated on maximizing viewership. And in doing so, they would hopefully return to that which they ultimately should focus on: the news itself.

Acacia H.

David Brin said...

Point taken Acacia... and yet...

I get that "your political blogs tend to be... scolding" is a valid crit... except... in comparison to Jim Wright? ... seriously?

;-)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I get that "your political blogs tend to be... scolding" is a valid crit..


There's a matter of personal preference involved. Several others here seem to wish you were all science all the time and leave off the politics. Me, I come for the politics and stay for the science.

matthew said...

I think Acacia has a valid point about the construction and makeup of posts here.

Dr. Brin has a few points that are truly revelatory in the political sphere. Unfortunately, he is *not* a good ambassador for those points.
See the riff on "three people to get a message across" from earlier on in this discussion. OGH shrugged off the earnest good advice he was getting on that subject.

Dr. Brin's high-water mark for politics is The Transparent Society, a first-class book laying out a genius (and important) argument. This blog has its great moments, but overall is a rehash of the same set of concepts, over and over again. Sometimes the repetition is a good thing, but Dr. Brin relies on his own works far too much.

And the big problem is Dr. Brin's personality when he argues for his ideas. He comes across as an utter asshole much of the time (as do I, pot and kettle here). But I think that Dr. Brin gets in the way of his best messages *often*.

It is unfortunate since they are important ideas.

Larry Hart said...

@matthew,

When I said "I come for the politics," I don't just mean that I want Dr Brin alone to foist ideas onto the rest of us like some Indian guru. I mean I enjoy the discussion in a group that is on the Enlightenment side. To some extent, I just enjoy being among a group of people who can actually think critically. And as for actual ideas on how to fight authoritarianism, they come from the rest of you as often as from the host.

Acacia H. said...

I wouldn't say that Dr. Brin comes off as an asshole. He just... can get disagreeable at times and his attempts at snark can fall short of the mark. Terms such as "malarkey" or "rant" or even "seriously?" act to question the intelligence of the person you are arguing against, which has been shown in psychological studies to cause people to double down on their arguments. The method by which you can convince folks to accept your argument is more to take elements that you agree on (or even least disagree on) and then guide them from there toward the path they want to take.

Acacia H.

Antony Rain said...

Dear Professor Brin, do you think it is possible to apply a machine learning algorithm to your data? For example, logistic regression or something similar? In order to predict further economic parameters?

I recently tried using logistic regression to predict box office receipts: unprofitable/profitable project. The model trained on a training sample of 1000 films showed a prediction accuracy of 0.92 on a test sample.

The analogy is certainly strange. However, if the president is the director of the film, and we also have a producer, a screenwriter and others. There is also a film genre (= liberal Party or Republican Party)

David Brin said...

Ukrainian parliament signs law offering $$$ to defecting Russians who hand over a fighter jet or a warship. Infographic shows bounties for anything from trucks ($10,000 US) up to helicopters ($500,000) to jet fighters ($1 million) and combat vessels ($1 million).

Sure, but defectors also want SAFETY, so throw in a new ID + apartment in Lviv... or at least a set of Groucho-glasses.

https://up-ship.com/blog/?p=50765

David Brin said...

Anthony Rain, welcome here. As it happens, my neice co-runs a company that does that kind of success analysis for movies and scripts. Is it something you wish to pursue?

I'd love to see some group TEST the political tactics I proposed in Polemical Judo to see if any of them correlate with success. The refusal of dem pols to even glance at new approaches is a general trait I find worrisome.

Acacia's crits are read (several times) and considered. That's the best I can offer, since (a) I disagree about some of them but (b) I know my disagreement can be colored by reflexive defensiveness and (c) several are on-target... but if a guy can't blow off a little immature steam in his own blogmunity, what's it for? ;-)

Matthew's gripes are taken in the context of his extremely wide range of credibility-building or credibility-incinerating past ejaculations here. CITOKATE means I read his crits twice. CONTEXT made me snort at them a couple times.

Still... CITOKATE.

matthew said...

"Matthew's gripes are taken in the context of his extremely wide range of credibility-building or credibility-incinerating past ejaculations here. CITOKATE means I read his crits twice. CONTEXT made me snort at them a couple times." That is fair enough, thanks.

Here is a *very* interesting article on internal power-plotting in the Kremlin regarding their war. Lots of perspectives that I've not seen yet elsewhere. Highly recommended reading, even if the article and headline should be taken with a grain of salt:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/oct/07/intense-dread-and-infighting-among-russian-elites-as-putins-war-falters

David Brin said...

Nothing surprising in the Kremlin article. Some new names. No one stood up heroically at the Duma. They have no heroes.

Treebeard said...

Yeah the Guardian, that's the place I'm going for accurate information about what's going on in the Kremlin. That and Rachel Maddow's show. Gaslighting yourself: a favorite pastime of Anglos for decades, if not centuries.

Here's a little pro tip: your Big Media (like Big Tech) is integrated into the military-intel psy-ops machine (see Operation Mockingbird). When you see a story about Russia or other big imperial rivals in those media, it’s more than likely part of a psy-op (in the immortal words of CIA director Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."). Keeping this in mind will help prevent you from being gaslit by CIA and MI6, if that’s important to you. If not, then keep reading those rags and believing that Saddam had WMDs, Russia sabotaged its own pipelines, what Afghan women really wanted was to learn about urinal art, Xi is on the verge of being toppled, Russia will be out of ammo next week, and whatever absurd nonsense they’ve come up with this week.

I do like this idea that standing up to your government and defying your own war machine makes you a hero. Tell that to Ed Snowden and Julian Assange, eh? Of course a “hero” here means someone who acts in Pax Americana’s interests, no matter where they happen to live. Because as our host has made clear many times, America is the galaxy’s savior and everyone is really an American inside, so what else could a hero do? When Americans and Westerners finally get over this universalist delusion, there might be some change of a more peaceful world, but not before, as 500 years of almost non-stop war and colonization of the rest of the planet demonstrate. Ultimately this is the issue, which rival leaders make clear if you actually listen to their words instead of the professional gaslighters in your imperial media.

Alfred Differ said...

gregory byshenk,

"news has lost out to entertainment; just accept it."

I won't intentionally tell you how to cope with changes going on around us. What I will point out is that this change is part of a tide. I don't think it can be stopped.

However, if you want high quality journalism… pay for it. You did in the past, right? It's still out there, but not in your local newspaper unless you live in one of the giant cities. Ad revenues collapsed for the little guys and they can't afford to buy what you want them selling you at the old price.

I used to deliver a paper for a town that couldn't have been more than 40,000. Grand Forks North Dakota. Bicentennial era. I lived on the nearby air base way back when the city itself still had 1st and 2nd streets. Their local paper was purchased by pretty much everyone in the area because that's how they knew what was going on. My delivery area was defined more by who didn't buy it than who did.

The Herald was a Knight Ridder property when I was a kid, but along the way it was bought by McClatchy who sold it back to someone 'relatively' local (Duluth) in 2011. The buyer was a competitor, though, who is obviously going for a regional monopoly in ND. Their paper and the Herald are the two top circulating ones in the region.

So… where am I supposed to look for when everything went to hell in a hand basket? The Herald's circulation was in the neighborhood of 31K in 2011 and probably not radically different from when I was a kid. Did their quality change? Did their local coverage change? All likely since their revenue model had to have collapsed. McClatchy sold them along with a swath of other Knight Ridder properties. Why? They don't need to say it out loud. Revenues collapsed.

Y'all are trying too hard to explain quality changes. Revenues collapsed because the internet was born. Everything else among the local papers is likely just the usual buying and selling of properties.

————

That's not the case in the big circulating newspapers. Rich boys wanting to start a war focus on them because they already have readers in large numbers. The owner of a press has always had a say in what that press prints, so it makes sense to buy one when one intends to sway public opinion.

David Brin said...

OKaaaaaaay. And so I must choose between...

... a generally open nation in which the administration keeps changing hands between parties who hold huge investigations of each other while both the partisan and the non-partisan press are pirhanas looking for scoops...

... and an entirely controlled one in which critics fall out of windows and all media are controlled by a cabal who have held power this entire century and are desperately sure any change will lead to their own deaths.

Riiiiight Treebeard. Your cult screams hate at every fact using profession... at the very theoretical notion of facts... assuming that ten MILLION members of those professions... utterly reciprocally competitive with each other... are simultaneously suborned,,,

...while the enemies of Adam Smith denounce competition in all its forms.

Are you actually a member of a cult that believes the drool you just treated us to? Or is your assignment to waste my time, actually... actually answeri

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Are you actually a member of a cult that believes the drool you just treated us to? Or is your assignment to waste my time,


More and more I'm thinking Russian troll, if not Russian 'bot. No one can actually believe that crap, but the assignment might be to sow doubt.

David Brin said...

Naw LH, you can (even now) tell by diction this is a US raised beta-plus who seethes at Huxley with a lifetime rage at limitations he is smart enough to perceive... but never overcome... and hate for those who can.

onward


onward

Antony Rain said...

Thank you for your feedback, Dr. Brin!

Analyzing the success of films and scripts is a very interesting and promising activity, which I would love to join, as I have some experience. I sent an email to you about this.

With regard to the refusal of political forces from flexibility and adaptability, here I agree with you, this is a destructive approach. To the best of my ability, I would try to analyze "Polemical Judo" (this activity is more difficult).