#noted Feed

Hernandez & al.: Catching Covid-19—Noted

Daniela Hernandez & c.: How Exactly Do You Catch Covid-19? There Is a Growing Consensus https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-exactly-do-you-catch-covid-19-there-is-a-growing-consensus-11592317650: ‘It’s not common to contract Covid-19 from a contaminated surface.... Fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus.... The major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly—or singing, in one famous case—maximize the risk.... Reopening... to protect public health... includes tactics like installing plexiglass barriers, requiring people to wear masks in stores and other venues, using good ventilation systems and keeping windows open when possible.... Better protections for nursing-home residents and multigenerational families living in crowded conditions, they said.... Stressing physical distancing and masks, and reducing the number of gatherings in enclosed spaces. “We should not be thinking of a lockdown, but of ways to increase physical distance,” said Tom Frieden, chief executive of Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit public-health initiative.... The group’s reopening recommendations include widespread testing, contact tracing and isolation of people who are infected or exposed.…

.#coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-26

MOAR on Kissinger & Pinochet—Noted

And news on the relationship between Pinochet and Kissinger: Boston.com: Cable Ties Kissinger to Chile Controversy http://archive.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/04/10/cable_ties_kissinger_to_chile_controversy/: 'the U.S. State Department became concerned that Condor included plans for political assassination around the world. The State Department drafted a plan to deliver a stern message to the three governments not to engage in such murders. In the Sept. 16, 1976 cable, the topic of one paragraph is listed as "Operation Condor," preceded by the words "(KISSINGER, HENRY A.) SUBJECT: ACTIONS TAKEN." The cable states that "secretary declined to approve message to Montevideo" Uruguay "and has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter." "The Sept. 16 cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger's role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots," Peter Kornbluh, the National Security Archive's senior analyst on Chile, said Saturday. Kornbluh is the author of "The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability." Jessica LePorin, a spokeswoman for Kissinger, says that the former secretary of state dealt many years ago with questions concerning the cancellation of the warnings to the South American governments and had no further comment on the matter.... William D. Rogers, Kissinger's former assistant secretary of state, said Kissinger "had nothing to do with" a Sept. 20, 1976 cable instructing that the warnings to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay be canceled. Rogers died in 2007... .#noted #2020-06-25

Simon Wren-Lewis: "Social Consumption" & COVID-19—Noted

The bottom line appears to be that ending “lockdowns” will not produce rapid economic recovery. People have increased their savings substantially—are planning to do next year, after the plague has passed, things that they can reasonably postpone to next year. Such an increase in savings requires an increase in planned investment spending (or in government public consumption spending) to maintain macroeconomic balance. But that maintenance of macroeconomic balance is not being greased by government action to make sure that that investment spending appears. And government consumption spending is not growing but shrinking as a new wave of austerity kicks in. But what about ending the lockdowns? Doesn’t that help? Probably not. Ending the lockdowns gets more people sick—which further raises savings. And the lockdowns themselves did not so much decrease spending as shift spending from nonessential (restaurants) to essential (grocery stores and take-out) spending categories:

Simon Wren-Lewis: Locking Down Too Late but Ending Lockdown Too Early https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2020/06/locking-down-too-late-but-ending.html: ‘All this is important... because it means that the number of new infections is declining very slowly, which in turn means that most people will not return to previous patterns of ‘social consumption’. That in turn means that there cannot be a complete recovery. We do not know at what level of daily infections people will be happy to resume social consumption, but it is bound to be well below 17,000. The difference between R=0.8 and R=0.9 in getting to that much lower number of infections is measured in months, as is the difference between R=0.9 and R=0.95. We are relaxing lockdown at much higher levels for daily new infections compared to Italy, France and Germany. Relaxing the lockdown might (I stress might) be justified if there was a tried and tested alternative mechanism to suppress R. That mechanism does exist: a well functioning and comprehensive track, trace and isolate (TTI) infrastructure.... It seems clear that many/most of the scientists advising the government also think lockdown is ending too quickly. The alert level remains at 4, despite Johnson/Cummings’ wishes. As Rafael Behr put it, “Johnson's relationship with science has gone the way of most of his relationships.” Yet this divergence does not seem to worry him and those around him at all, which is a bit odd for a government that kept claiming they were following the science. I should resist the temptation to suggest that all this is obvious. When I modeled the economic impact of a pandemic I was surprised at how much of aggregate consumption was social. It isn’t just pubs, restaurants and tourism, but large parts of recreation, culture and transport. These sectors make up over a third of consumption. Even the demand for clothing may decline if there are no parties to go to. The pandemic creates a huge demand shock even without any lockdown measures like school closures. That is why many better-off households have been saving much more during the pandemic.... There is no trade-off between public health and the economy: better public health (less COVID-19 infections) is the sure way to a substantial recovery. The idea that we have to lift the lockdown for the sake of the economy is the new austerity.... Could we get a similar recovery by some other means, such as a large fiscal stimulus? The short answer is no. Because social consumption is such a large proportion of the total, you would need a ridiculously large increase in spending in other sectors even to come close to substituting for that loss. The only reason why you would contemplate not doing the first best option, getting infections down, is because your ideology is screwing your common sense. Which is a pretty good description of how this government has dealt with this pandemic so far… .#noted #2020-06-25

Andy Matuschak: Narrated Explorables: Three Mental Models https://medium.com/khan-academy-early-product-development/narrated-explorables-three-mental-models-e16e0d80e4c1: 'Today our former colleagues Ben Eater and Grant Sanderson published Visualizing quaternions, an exciting addition to a hazy new medium. It combines video-like narrative explanation, interactive representations, and game-like challenge prompts. At first, it feels like watching a YouTube video that uses great visualizations to explain something… but then you realize that you can interrupt the speaker to manipulate with the representation, and they intermittently prompt you to do so with some challenge. How should we design such systems? What are their prospects? I’ll explore a few ideas here. I know of no common name for this medium, so I’ll call these narrated explorables... .#noted #2020-06-25

Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us—Noted

Let me not think about our current problems and dysfunctions for a moment and instead cast our eyes forward to the task of how to build something closer to Utopia over the next decade, after this mess wins its way to its likely very sorry end. The thoughtful Annalee Newitz is worth listening to as we face the task of constructing a better functioning public sphere. We can certainly do it. But it almost surely cannot be built on the backs of advertising supported social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Company will probably have to die and be replaced by subscription and by public services:

Annalee Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/30/opinion/social-media-future.html: 'My quest to imagine a different reality: Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next.... What will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?... Erika Hall’s design firm Mule.... “I absolutely believe that you can design interfaces that create more safe spaces to interact, in the same way we know how to design streets that are safer,” she said. But today, she told me, the issue isn’t technical. It has to do with the way business is being done in Silicon Valley.... [John] Scalzi... imagines a new wave of digital media companies that will serve the generations of people who have grown up online (soon, that will be most people) and already know that digital information can’t be trusted. They will care about who is giving them the news, where it comes from, and why it’s believable. “They will not be internet optimists in the way that the current generation of tech billionaires wants,” he said with a laugh.... There isn’t a decent real-world analogue for social media, and that makes it difficult for users to understand where public information is coming from, and where their personal information is going. It doesn’t have to be that way.... Public life has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else. We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms—and give it back to human beings. We may need to slow down, but we’ve created democracies out of chaos before. We can do it again... #cognition #democracy #noted #politicaleconomy #publicsphere #2020-06-25

Worthy Reads for June 20, 2019

Worthy Reads from Equitable Growth:

  1. Relationships between user and supplier firms were never arms-length. But while the assumption that they were may have been a minor error three generations ago, it is a major error today. We need more people like Susan Helper thinking about the consequences of the information and technology flows generated in today's value-chain economy. Such flows are a very important piece of our community of engineering practice: Susan Helper: Building High-Road Supply Networks in the United States: "A different kind of outsourcing is possible—'high-road' supply networks that benefit firms, workers, and consumers... collaboration between management and workers and along the length of the supply chain, sharing of skills and ideas, new and innovative processes, and, ultimately, better products that can deliver higher profits to firms and higher wages to workers. Firms could take a key step by themselves, since it could improve profits. Collaboration among firms along a supply chain can lead to greater productivity and innovation. Lead firms can raise the capabilities of supplier firms and their workers such that even routine operations can benefit from collaboration for continuous improvement...

  2. This is exactly the kind of work we at Equitable Growth want to see carried out by exactly the kind of young people we ought to be financing. Very well done: Ellora Derenoncourt and Claire Montialoux: Minimum Wages and Racial Inequality: "The earnings difference between black and white workers fell dramatically in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This paper shows that the extension of the minimum wage played a critical role in this decline. The 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act extended federal minimum wage coverage to agriculture, restaurants, nursing homes, and other services which were previously uncovered and where nearly a third of black workers were employed...

  3. Inequality leads to leverage. Leverage leads to instability. Instability leads to depression: Heather Boushey: A New Economic Paradigm: "We should let go of the workhorse macroeconomic models.... [that] have all but ignored inequality in their thinking... [making the] 'implicit, if not explicit, assumption... that inequality doesn’t matter much when gauging the macroeconomic outlook'.... [In] the long-term picture or consider[ing] the potential for the system to spin out of control... higher inequality increases the likelihood of instability...

  4. I am trying to think through what the issues we should be talking about when we talk about "manufacturing jobs" really are. I am not having a great deal of success: Resonse to Noah Smith: Yes, Susan [Houseman] is right; yes, the index-number problem rears its ugly head; yes, there are absolute numbers and there are employment shares; yes, there is manufacturing; yes, there is non-computer manufacturing; yes, there are traditional blue-collar occupations. One reading of Susan is "traditional blue-collar occupations are of special concern, and manufacturing excluding computers is important because computer manufacturing is not really a blue-collar semi-skilled easy-to-unionize source of employment". That characterization of computer manufacturing is increasingly true over time—but it also applies increasingly over time to sunbelt manufacturing as well...


Worthy Reads from Elsewhere:

  1. The Fed now seems to be saying: "We misjudged the situation late last year. We are going to reverse our policy. But not quite yet." And I do not understand the frame of mind in which that is a coherent system of thought. I wish they would explain: Tim Duy: Rate Cut On The Way: "The Fed turned... dovish... basically announcing a July rate cut.... The proximity to the lower bound coupled with low inflation was always going to lead the Fed to err on the side of a rate cut. It just took them some time to find their way there.... It would be exceedingly difficult to pull back on a rate cut now. Nor is there any reason to...

  2. The evidence for the position that minimum wage increase can often be an effective policy for equitable growth continues to pile up: Péter Harasztosi and Attila Lindner: Who Pays for the Minimum Wage?: "A large and persistent minimum wage increase in Hungary.... Employment elasticities are negative but small even four years after the reform... 75 percent of the minimum wage increase was paid by consumers and 25 percent by firm owners; that firms responded to the minimum wage by substituting labor with capital; and that dis-employment effects were greater in industries where passing the wage costs to consumers is more difficult...

  3. I am with David Autor here: individual tasks that are components of jobs will be automated, but human thought and judgment will continue to be able to add value throughout the economy. There is, however, nothing to require that a world of abundant capital and sophisticated computers will be a world in which the income distribution will be relatively equal: David Autor: Polanyi’s Paradox: Will It Be Overcome?: "Jobs are made up of many tasks.... Understanding the interaction between technology and employment requires thinking about... how human labor can often complement new technology.... The tasks that have proved most vexing to automate are those demanding flexibility, judgment, and common sense—skills that we understand only tacitly. I referred to this constraint above as Polanyi’s paradox.... Is Polanyi’s Paradox soon to be at least mostly overcome, in the sense that the vast majority of tasks will soon be automated? My reading of the evidence suggests otherwise...

  4. In very important dimensions, Europe is handling the coming of the Second Gilded Age significantly better than we are handling it here in America: Thomas Blanchet, Lucas Chancel, and Amory Gethin: Forty Years of Inequality in Europe: "Despite the growing importance of inequalities in policy debates, it is still difficult to compare inequality levels across European countries and to tell how European growth has been shared across income groups. This column draws on new evidence combining surveys, tax data, and national accounts to document a rise in income inequality in most European countries between 1980 and 2017. It finds that income disparities on the old continent have increased less than in the US and shows that this is essentially due to ‘predistribution’ policies...

  5. One very peculiar thing about America is majorities that believe that government doesn't have our back and indeed, shouldn't have our back. This is a very puzzling attitude to see in a democracy: Gillian Tett: Why Japan Isn’t Afraid of Robots: "The social safety net.... 63 per cent of people in Japan think that it is up to the government... to help the population adapt to automation.... In the US, however, only about 30 per cent of the public expect the government to help.... A recipe for anxiety: some of America’s current problems can be traced to the sense of abandonment felt by many workers in deindustrialised regions...

  6. Anybody who has spent any time looking at the data knows that it is in the boom, not in the depression, that the work of sectoral readjustment is done. Indeed, that work cannot be done in the depression. In the depression nothing is profitable. So how could entrepreneurs possibly judge then what will be profitable when the depression is past? They must wait for the boom to see: Robert Heilbroner (1996): The Embarrassment of Economics: "Schumpeter arrived in his famous riding habit and great cloak, of which he divested himself in a grand gesture. He greeted us in a typically Schumpeterian way: 'Gentlemen, a depression is for capitalism like a good, cold douche'. The remark shocked us...

  7. Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie: Simpson's Paradox: "Any claim to resolve a paradox... should explain why people find the paradox surprising or unbelievable.... When the paradox does occur, and we have to make a choice between two plausible yet contradictory statements, it should tell us which statement is correct.... A paradox... should entail a conflict between two deeply held convictions...

  8. When "Prince of Whales: suddenly shows up in my timeline, only one thing can possibly be gong on: Darth: "😹 u know it wasn’t even a typo: he really thinks it is prince of whales: https://delong.typepad.com/.a/6a00e551f0800388340240a4b31ac9200b-pi

.#noted #weblogs #2019-06-20

Roser: Is the World Making Progress Against the Pandemic?—Noted

I confess that I really wish that Max Roser & company would do more than just color-code the confirmed case data by frequency of testing. What we really want are estimates of true ‘rona plague cases, inferred from testing frequencies and confirmed cases. My own guess—but I am not an epidemiologist https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/05/worst-coronavirus-response-in-the-world-by-the-most-incompetent-ignorant-and-undisciplined-president-imaginable-donald-tru.html—is that the United States is still missing two out of three new ‘rona cases, and that our true nationwide case replication rate R here in the United States, after shrinking to 0.85 per week in mid-May, is now back up at 1.00 and is about to start growing again, as Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and southern California shift from being hot spots to being inferno spots.

It is, I must say, one hell of a time to have a big revival-style campaign event in Arizona.

But other people could do a better job at guessing at the answers to these questions than I can, and I wish they would:

Max Roser & al.: Is the World Making Progress Against the Pandemic? We Built the Chart to Answer This Question https://ourworldindata.org/epi-curve-covid-19: ‘Data on the number of confirmed cases only becomes meaningful when it can be interpreted in light of how much a country tests. This is what the chart shows.... Trajectories show the daily number of cases. The goal is for every line to bend towards zero. And line color gives an indication of the quality of a country’s data at each point in time. If a country finds a case for every few tests they perform the line is shown in shades of red. Here it is likely that the unknown number of cases is high.... The darker shades of blue mean that a country does many tests for each case it finds.... The goal is that a country tests widely in relation to its outbreak, shown by the line color turning into dark shades of blue.... Two very different groups of countries.... Slovakia, Thailand, New Zealand, South Korea, and Germany... monitored the outbreak well... were able to bend the curve and bring down the number of confirmed cases.... These are not the only countries, that achieved this; you can add for example Austria, Iceland, Slovenia, Tunisia... Latvia... similar trajectories.... Brazil, Mexico, the United States, UK, Sweden, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and Nigeria... test little... report unfortunately still very high daily case counts… #coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-25

Kottke: Vietnam, Population 95 Million, Has Recorded 0 Deaths from Covid-19—Noted

I am sure that they missed some deaths, or that the ruling party regards reporting zero deaths as a boasting point to be maintained. But it looks as though as long as they can maintain their 14-day quarantine requirement on those entering the country, the Vietnamese have this plague licked, and life can return to normal. They, and New Zealand, and Mauritius and company, may well get out of this thing with the least economic damage:

Jason Kottke: Vietnam, Population 95 Million, Has Recorded 0 Deaths from Covid-19 https://kottke.org/20/06/vietnam-population-95-million-has-recorded-0-deaths-from-covid-19: ‘Vietnam, a nation of 95 million people that borders China, has recorded only 334 total infections and 0 deaths... currently on a 61-day streak without a single community transmission.... They acted early and aggressively.... From the BBC: "Vietnam enacted measures other countries would take months to move on, bringing in travel restrictions, closely monitoring and eventually closing the border with China and increasing health checks at borders and other vulnerable places. Schools were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January and remained closed until mid-May. A vast and labour intensive contact tracing operation got under way. 'This is a country that has dealt with a lot of outbreaks in the past', says Prof Thwaites.... By mid-March, Vietnam was sending everyone who entered the country-and anyone within the country who’d had contact with a confirmed case—to quarantine centres for 14 days. Costs were mostly covered by the government, though accommodation was not necessarily luxurious...." Forced bussing to quarantine centers in the US, could you even imagine? Better that hundreds of thousands of people die, I guess. The Vietnamese health system also implemented aggressive contact tracing… .#coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-25

Münchau: Merkel’s Successor Must Confront Germany’s Decline—Noted

Since 1945 and since 1995 Germany’s economic growth trajectory has been the most successful and impressive in the entire global north. But, with respect to individual people, there is a rule that the richest are not the wisest and smartest, but rather those who have overleveraged, underdiversified, and been very very lucky. The judgment of the richest of the superrich is, in fact, on average rather poor, and always at least tinged with Dunning-Krueger monomania that the universe has not yet called to account. Is the same true of countries? The very sharp Wolfgang Münchau fears that it is—that Germany’s economic success has led it to a place in which its institutions are in fact poorly built to manage the future, producing a “misdirected focus on fiscal surpluses” and a lack of focus on the need for innovation:

Wolfgang Münchau: Merkel’s Successor Must Confront Germany’s Decline https://www.ft.com/content/b0dc8008-4f4a-11ea-95a0-43d18ec715f5: ‘The Merkel years... as the moment when Germany lost its technological edge through a misdirected focus on fiscal surpluses and lack of innovation.... Germany’s medium-sized industrial companies… are still grappling with digitalisation. The country has not made the necessary investments in mobile telecommunications.... The car industry was unprepared for the shift to electric…. Merkel’s spontaneous decision to switch off nuclear power stations has made Germany more reliant on fossil fuels, putting the country on course to miss Paris climate targets...

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Edlagan & Monroe: Equitable Growth Expert Focus—Noted

We at Equitable Growth are launching a new monthly feature: Expert Focus. Please check it out—and please tell us how we could launch it better so that it becomes more effective and more useful:

Christian Edlagan & Maria Monroe: Expert Focus: Leading Black Scholars on U.S. Economic Inequality & Growth https://equitablegrowth.org/expert-focus-leading-black-scholars-on-u-s-economic-inequality-and-growth/: ‘In this installment of “Expert Focus,” we highlight Black scholars whose cutting-edge research draws on the respective roles of history, power, and institutions.... William A. Darity, Jr... stratification economics, an approach to economics that focuses on economic disparities between persons, groups, and regions.... Dania V. Francis... socioeconomic disparities in education, wealth accumulation, and labor markets... how to design and carry out a reparations program.... Trevon D. Logan... historic links among intergenerational economic mobility, race, and the Black-White divide in income and wealth.... school segregation, disinvestment from public goods, and divergent levels of investment in education since the 1950s have combined to create a nexus of low mobility for Black Americans.... Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman & Fanta Traore.... As the share of Black women awarded doctorates in economics is declining, groups such as the Sadie Collective—co-founded by Opoku-Agyeman and Traore, a senior research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board—provide crucial support to help Black women thrive in fields where they are woefully underrepresented and where they can sometimes feel out of place.... Jhacova Williams... the role of structural racism in shaping racial economic disparities in labor markets, housing, criminal justice, higher education, voting, and other areas…

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Worthy Reads for June 27, 2019

Worthy Reads from Equitable Growth:

  1. If you did not read this when it came out five years ago—or if it is not fresh in your brain—you need to read or reread it today: Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman (2014): Exploding Wealth Inequality in the United States: "Income inequality has been on the rise... [with a] large portion of this increase is due to an upsurge in the labor incomes earned by senior company executives and successful entrepreneurs. But is the rise in U.S. economic inequality purely a matter of rising labor compensation at the top, or did wealth inequality rise as well?... (Hint: the answer is a definitive yes, as we will demonstrate below).... Currently available measures of wealth inequality rely either on surveys (the Survey of Consumer Finances of the Federal Reserve Board), on estate tax return data, or on lists of wealthy individuals, such as the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans...

  2. One would imagine that market logic would lead inescapably to a consensus for expansionary fiscal policy when safe interest rates on government debt are very low and unemployment is high. When safe interest rates on government debt are very low, government debt is a very valuable asset to hold—hence any government that regards the creation of private wealth as a plus should be eager to create more government debt. And when safe interest rates on government debt are lower than the economy's growth rate, there is no sense in which long-term debt must be financed via taxes—hence those who want to reserve fiscal space either for other forms of future spending or for future tax cuts should have no objection. Yet even the most Keynesian audience in mainstream economics was extremely resistant to this message when Larry Summers and I tried to propagate it most of a decade ago. And I do not see how to break through—how to add expansionary fiscal policy in a recession to our panoply of recession-fighting tools in light of our failure to succeed in breaking through most of a decade ago: Various: Discussion of J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers: "Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy...

  3. And if you did not read Austin Clemens and Heather Boushey a year ago last spring on the need to track growth not just for the economy as a whole but for Americans at every point along the income curve, you should go do so: Austin Clemens and Heather Boushey: Disaggregating Growth: "Measuring who prospers when the economy grows.... The National Income and Product Accounts, or NIPA (also referred to as System of National Accounts, or SNA, outside of the United States), were a radical advance in economic measurement when they were instituted in the early 20th century. These accounts track aggregate output and income for the national economy. Most notably, they measure Gross Domestic Product and the quarterly fluctuations in GDP that tell us if the economy is growing or contracting. Before their advent, ascertaining the health of the economy was an inexact and patchwork procedure...

  4. Great conversation between Heather Boushey and Emmanuel Saez. My favorite highlight: Heather Boushey: In Conversation with Emmanuel Saez: "Kansas... illustrates beautifully from a research perspective even though it’s a disaster in terms of public policy... tax avoidance... pass-through businesses... huge incentives for high-income earners to reclassify... a big erosion of the wage income tax base in the state... a much bigger negative impact on tax revenue than would have been predicted mechanically.... When governments have actually to balance their budgets, they realize that taxes are useful, and that brings the two pieces of the debate together.... Certainly Kansas didn’t experience an economic boom...

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Litman: Cautious Congratulations—Noted

Leah Litman: Cautious Congratulations https://takecareblog.com/blog/uci-commencement-speech: ‘I... offer... cautious congratulations—congratulations on joining a profession that will offer you the tools and the credentials to do… just about anything you want to do.... But the congratulations I offer is cautious because as all of you graduates know, not all Presidents, not all Senators, and not all Supreme Court Justices have done great things; many of them have fallen well short of even doing good. So... I also want to caution you about the profession.... After Brown, it was lawyers—law professors who argued the decision was wrong because it favored blacks over whites... did not offer a “neutral principle” that gave as much consideration to white people as to black. It is lawyers who argue that courts cannot stop the President from rescinding the protections of the DACA program because it would do grave harm to the separation of powers.... It was lawyers who argued that the federal government cannot provide health insurance to Americans who cannot afford it. It is lawyers who argue that Congress cannot provide protections against breaking up Native American families, or that law schools cannot refuse to fund positions at employers who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. You can be whatever kind of lawyer you want to be. But... there is nothing about being a lawyer that requires you to do good. That has to come from you. There will be professional pressures that will make it difficult for you to do justice, even when you want to.... Do not be indifferent to the lives of people who are different from you. Otherwise you may become one of the people who says“don’t worry about the DACA case; if it’s rescinded it’s not like they’re going to deport the DREAM-ers.” Do not let false neutrality be the enemy of fairness. Question people who say that they are not separating families, they are just enforcing the laws. Laws can fix some injustices. But law can also create injustice too.... You have made the kind of commitment and put in the kind of work that will allow you to do justice. We all have to find ways to do justice.... Don’t wait until it is too late to do so... .#noted #2020-06-25

Davies: Belligerent Idiots Are Not Good at Game Theory—Noted

Daniel Davies (2011): The ECB and the Davies Folk Theorem https://crookedtimber.org/2011/11/18/the-ecb-and-the-davies-folk-theorem/: ‘If... being [thought] a belligerent idiot with no sensible regard for one’s own welfare was worth the candle, in the sense of conferring benefits which outweighed the cost of gaining it, then everyone would want to get that reputation, whether they were genuinely an idiot or not. But if everyone wanted that reputation, then everyone would know that simply acting like an idiot didn’t mean that you were one, in which case it would be impossible to establish a reputation as an idiot.... It’s one of the more important things in game theory that a signal has to be a costly signal.... A reputation in deterrence theory is something that is worth having, but not worth getting. People who use the word “signal” in this context (usually on the basis of a poorly understood or second-hand reading of Schelling) don’t always seem to realise that they are explicitly admitting that the costs of being in Iraq are greater than the benefits… .#noted #2020-06-24

Gould-Werth: Low-Wage Worker Casey Miller:—Noted

It is essential to dig down through the numbers to the real lives of representative and typical people whom the numbers aggregate: Alix Gould-Werth: What's happening with low-wage workers who are benefiting from the 600 boost in weekly unemployment benefits[?] https://twitter.com/alixgouldwerth/status/1275078011021225992 I’d like to introduce you to one of those workers: Casey Miller. Casey’s job designing and serving high-end cocktails was his passion. He made about 700 a week, including tips...

...When the coronavirus hit, he feared contracting COVID-19 at work. Then, the bar closed, and his worries shifted to his economic future. The servers hosting his state's Unemployment Insurance system crashed. But Casey was persistent. He filed at 3 in the morning, when web traffic was low. Now, each week, he receives $60 in regular benefits and a 600 pandemic-specific top-off. The simple 600 increase lets average workers cash unemployment checks roughly equal to their old paychecks. The lowest earners bring home more than they made on the job, and the highest earners bring home less....

This is a smart way to target benefits. What did Casey do when he received an unemployment check that was larger than his paycheck? He spent it. To make ends meet, he needed every penny of his unemployment check.... While high-earning workers save benefit dollars, low-earning workers spend them out of financial necessity. And these low-earning workers are precisely who is being affected by the coronavirus recession. So, the extra 600 creates a virtuous cycle. Directing cash to those who need it most channels dollars to businesses, which employ more workers, who in turn have income to spend.

Those worrying that the 600 will disincentivize a return to work miss the point: With 4.6 unemployed workers per opening, what jobs are they trying to incentivize people to take? And many low-wage employers are operating at the expense of worker safety. Letting the 600 top-off expire in July spells disaster for our families and for our economy…

.#noted #2020-06-24

Mitchell: Bold Policies to Ensure Broad-Based Recovery—Noted

This. This. This. This will be very much worth spending part of your Thursday watching; David Mitchell: Bold Policies to Ensure Broad-Based Recovery https://equitablegrowth.org/equitable-growth-webinar-will-explore-bold-policies-to-ensure-a-broad-based-economic-recovery/: ‘The recovery from the coronavirus recession must be different from the previous recovery.... To have a chance of emerging on a stronger footing, with less economic and racial inequality and more sustainable economic growth, policymakers need to respond with robust, evidence-based measures that attack the underlying problems causing inequality and help achieve economic security for all. As part of our Vision 2020 initiative to ensure that the election-year economic policy debate focuses on big ideas grounded in the latest research, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth is hosting a webinar with top economic experts on June 25 to discuss the kind of bold policy initiatives that can help transform the U.S. economy.... Two panels. The first, “Democratizing the Economy,” will focus on the need for new or drastically reformed institutions to address how financial institutions and the Federal Reserve have exacerbated inequality. The second, “Building Power for Workers and Families,” will describe how enhanced collective bargaining rights, public benefit and social insurance programs, anti-discrimination protections, and other power-building policies… .#equitablegrowth #noted #2020-06-25

Campbell: Relative Prices and Hysteresis: Evidence from US Manufacturing—Noted

It was from economic and technological historians like Nate Rosenberg, David Hounshell, and my own great great uncle Abbott Payson Usher’s works that I first learned about the crucial importance of externalities from communities of engineering practice in fueling industrial-age economic growth. Here we have the smart Doug Campbell showing the importance of such factors in slowing US economic growth in the past generation in America, where the political system prioritized tax cuts for the rich and financialization above other concerns:

Douglas Campbell: Relative Prices and Hysteresis: Evidence from US Manufacturing https://ideas.repec.org/p/cfr/cefirw/w0212.html: ‘A central tenet of economics is that prices matter. A corollary is that in a world with sunk costs, historical prices can affect current economic outcomes. There exists a large theoretical literature on exchange rate hysteresis, but recent empirical treatments are scarce. To fill the gap, I employ new measures of real exchange rates (RERs) to study the impact of large, temporary RER shocks on the US manufacturing sector. To identify a causal impact of RER movements on manufacturing, I test whether sectors more exposed to international trade respond differently when relative prices appreciate. I also compare the US experience to Canada’s in the mid-2000s, when high oil prices and a falling US dollar led to an equally sharp appreciation of the Canadian dollar. I find that temporary RER shocks have a surprisingly persistent impact on employment, output, and productivity in relatively more open manufacturing sectors, and that the magnitude of the shock in the early 2000s was large enough to have played a role in the onset of secular stagnation, lending support to the Bernanke Hypothesis… #noted #2020-06-24

Paulus: COVID Was Never “Under Control”—Noted

A conceit of my in-draft economic history of the long twentieth century is that it was the American century, and that it came to an end, finally and ultimately, on November 8, 2016—when the second minority government led by somebody really not up to the job of president in anyone’s estimation took control. But I confess I did not think that even Donald Trump and his enablers could do so much damage. And I confess that I did not think that the most competent rank of Trump enablers would be as… simply stupid… as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin really does seem to be:

Shannon Paulus: COVID Was Never “Under Control” in America https://slate.com/technology/2020/06/covid-never-under-control-america.html: ‘We need to remember this as we proceed with reopening: If we’ve learned anything in the past several months, it probably ought to be that the coronavirus is hard to contain.... Or at least, some of us have learned that. On Wednesday, in making a case for restaurants opening up indoor seating, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin suggested otherwise: “I don’t see why on an indoor basis, socially distanced, that restaurants can’t be serving indoors,” he said. “Particularly in parts of the country where COVID is under control.” He also seemed to not understand why indoor dining is a particular point of focus: "This distinction between indoor & outdoor seems a bit random, and I don’t know what people would do when it rains..." Let’s set aside Vox journalist Aaron Rupar’s correct point that people dining indoors is scientifically more dangerous for COVID spread than people dining outside. Mnuchin’s other suggestion is that the virus isn’t really an issue in some places of the country. He thinks that there are some places where case counts are low (this is objectively true) and that in these places we can begin loosening restrictions on activities not slowly and thoughtfully, but significantly... #coronavirus #depression #macro #noted #publichealth #2020-06-24

Goolsbee: 'Rona Cases, Not Lockdowns, Depress the Economy—Noted

Hell of a moment to have a large, loud indoor gathering in Arizona: Austan Goolsbee: 'The results from March-May https://twitter.com/Austan_Goolsbee/status/1275575900499775488 suggest that the fact that cases are back on the rise is very ominous not just for public health but for the economy. If people get scared again, a lot of activity may start to tank.... Short version: they don't do much. Of the 60% drop in consumer activity, only 7 came from shutdown orders. Fear of the virus is the main thing. The collapse of economic activity in 2020 from COVID-19 has been immense.... We have consumer visits to 2.3m businesses in 110 industries through the crisis. We tracked down the county level shutdown orders and can compare across borders in the same metro area where the policy differs.... Evidence of fear as the driver: 1) more covid deaths in your county drive down economic activity signif[icantly] even including metro-week dummies, 2) people heavily shift visits away from larger/busier stores to smaller/less busy ones in the same industry (and especially if lots of local deaths). We have data up to late May and include some states ending their shutdown orders. The increase in economic activity is just as modest coming out as it was going in. Policy itself isn't the driver. But there is one way policy matters: diversion from one kind of business to another. We have essential/non-essential definition in each place. Non-essential business collapses. Essential business soars. Restaurant/bar orders cause massive hit there but an equally big increase to grocery and food stores.... If people get scared again, a lot of activity may start to tank.…

.coronavirus #depression #macro #noted #publichealth #2020-06-23

State cases 2020 06 23

State new cases 2020 06 23

Marx: Letter to Lincoln—Noted

Karl Marx & al.: Letter to Abraham Lincoln https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/iwma/documents/1864/lincoln-letter.htm: ‘When an oligarchy of 300,000 slaveholders dared to inscribe, for the first time in the annals of the world, "slavery" on the banner of Armed Revolt, when on the very spots where hardly a century ago the idea of one great Democratic Republic had first sprung up, whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the eighteenth century...

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Farrell & Schneier: Information Attacks on Democracies—Noted

I find this incredibly difficult to grasp and retain, but I do think it is one of the most important arguments of this decade: Henry Farrell & Bruce Schneier: Information Attacks on Democracies https://www.lawfareblog.com/information-attacks-democracies: 'Democracy is an information system. That's the starting place of our new paper: “Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy.” In it, we look at democracy through the lens of information security, trying to understand the current waves of Internet disinformation attacks. Specifically, we wanted to explain why the same disinformation campaigns that act as a stabilizing influence in Russia are destabilizing in the United States. The answer revolves around the different ways autocracies and democracies work as information systems...

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Graydon Saunders: Learning Teamwork—Noted

Graydon Saunders: Education: Teaching Insecurity Management https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/07/comment-of-the-day-yes-the-failure-modes-of-making-jam-are-pretty-scary-_graydon-on-homers-odyssey-and-david-drakes.html: ‘You don't get an understanding of anything important about insecurity management—that fear is in you, so killing fear means killing yourself; that you are helpless, but maybe not hapless; that it is not so much "bare is back without brother behind it" as "lone monkeys die"—in the abstract, by study, or by reading. You get it by doing actually dangerous things in groups. (I do not mean "fight in a war"; I mean "use power tools", "split wood/use an axe", "build something to keep the rain off and sleep under it", "assemble a pontoon bridge", "portage in haste", "use a wood-fired oven", "make jam" (think about the failure modes for a minute), and such like; all of these things can hurt or kill you, and at group scales you can't possibly take sufficient care of yourself by yourself. Such activities don't usually do us any harm because we're pretty good at being a band-forming primate and working out social mechanisms to control the collective machinery of our effort.) Much effort has gone into preventing any such thing for anyone we'd call "educated" for a few generations now, and this is a mistake. If you have no personal experience of the whole band-forming process, this might benefit the Randite myth of the individual and it certainly benefits the corporate desire to prevent any ganging up on problems by the prey animals, but it does not benefit you at all. Education could do with much, much more of "theory informs; practice convinces." If you want people to exhibit empathy for those whose state is not theirs and whose expertise is different, you need to make most of education involve failure; do this material thing at which you are unskilled. Allowing education to be narrow, and to avoid all reminder that the world is wider and that to a first approximation everyone is utterly incompetent, just encourages arrogance. Arrogance is terrible insecurity management; it makes the other monkeys less inclined to help you. (Yes of course we should overtly teach both insecurity management and band forming best practices in simple overt language)...

Nathanael: 'This is a truly good comment. Try "Get home from random location without ID, money or family". (The topic of the Odyssey, in fact!)…

.#education #noted #teaching #2020-06-20

Doug Jones: My Handaxe—Noted

Doug Jones: My Handaxe https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/my-handaxe-4/: ‘Possession is a social relationship.... Robinson Crusoe didn’t 'own' anything on his island before Friday came along. Linguists have noted something interesting about the language of possession.... Compare... João went to Recife. Chico stayed in Rio. The gang kept Zezinho in Salvador.... The Crampden estate went to Reginald. The Hampden estate stayed with Lionel. Thag kept axe. Of course the Crampden estate didn’t go anywhere in physical space, but it still traveled in the abstract social space of possession.... The Russian preposition y means at/near when applied to a place (People are at Nevsky street) but possession when applied to a person (Hat is 'at' Ivan = Ivan has hat.) What may be going on here... mental machinery for thinking about physical space... gets retooled/borrowed/exapted for thinking about more abstract relationships... close and distant social relationships... time ahead and behind… #noted #2020-06-20

Rivera & Walker: Weekly COVID-19 Data Update, June 18—Noted

Jessica Malaty Rivera & Peter Walker: Weekly COVID-19 Data Update, June 18: The Regional Gap Widens https://covidtracking.com/blog/weekly-covid-19-data-update-june-18-the-regional-gap-widens: ‘If the average lag between symptom onset and death reporting is roughly 28 days, as suggested by the CDC, we should see this week’s death counts as the result of COVID-19 infections from the week leading up to Memorial Day. We would look to next week’s death numbers to reveal more about the outcomes of new cases from Memorial Day gatherings and reopenings... #coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-18

Thomas Robert Malthus: Birth Control as the Technology That Dare Not Have Its Name Be Spoken—Noted

Thomas Robert Malthus (1798): An Essay on the Principle of Population (1st ed.)_ http://www.esp.org/books/malthus/population/malthus.pdf: ‘Mr Condorcet’s picture of what may be expected to happen when the number of men shall surpass the means of their subsistence is justly drawn. The oscillation which he describes will certainly take place and will without doubt be a constantly subsisting cause of periodical misery. The only point in which I differ from Mr Condorcet with regard to this picture is the period when it may be applied to the human race...

...Mr Condorcet thinks that it cannot possibly be applicable but at an era extremely distant. If the proportion between the natural increase of population and food which I have given be in any degree near the truth, it will appear, on the contrary, that the period when the number of men surpass their means of subsistence has long since arrived, and that this necessity oscillation, this constantly subsisting cause of periodical misery, has existed ever since we have had any histories of mankind, does exist at present, and will for ever continue to exist, unless some decided change take place in the physical constitution of our nature.

Mr Condorcet, however, goes on to say that should the period, which he conceives to be so distant, ever arrive, the human race, and the advocates for the perfectibility of man, need not be alarmed at it. He then proceeds to remove the difficulty in a manner which I profess not to understand.

Having observed, that the ridiculous prejudices of superstition would by that time have ceased to throw over morals a corrupt and degrading austerity, he alludes, either to a promiscuous concubinage, which would prevent breeding, or to something else as unnatural. To remove the difficulty in this way will, surely, in the opinion of most men, be to destroy that virtue and purity of manners, which the advocates of equality, and of the perfectibility of man, profess to be the end and object of their views…

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Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963): Letter from a Birmingham Jail—Noted

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963): Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.] http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html: ‘16 April 1963 :: My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms...

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No. Roland Fryer's "Race & Lethal Force" Paper Never Made Much Sense to Me...

Cody Ross & al.: Resolution of Apparent Paradoxes in the Race-Specific Frequency of Use-Of-Force by Police https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-018-0110-z: ‘Analyses of racial disparities in police use-of-force against unarmed individuals are central to public policy interventions; however, recent studies have come to apparently paradoxical findings concerning the existence and form of such disparities. Although anti-black racial disparities in U.S. police shootings have been consistently documented at the population level, new work has suggested that racial disparities in encounter-conditional use of lethal force by police are reversed relative to expectations, with police being more likely to: (1) shoot white relative to black individuals, and (2) use non-lethal as opposed to lethal force on black relative to white individuals https://www.nber.org/papers/w22399.... All currently described empirical patterns in the structuring of police use-of-force—including the “reversed” racial disparities in encounter-conditional use of lethal force—are explainable under a generative model in which there are consistent and systemic biases against black individuals.... Statistical assessments of racial disparities conditioned on problematic intermediate variables, such as encounters, which might themselves be a causal outcome of racial bias, can produce misleading inferences. Population-level measures of use-of-force by police are more robust indicators.... Research on encounter-conditional use-of-force by police can also fruitfully contribute to public policy discussions, since population-level measures alone cannot address whether racial disparities are driven by disparities in encounters or disparities in use-of-force conditional on encounters. Tests for racial biases in the encounter-conditional use of lethal force, however, must account for individual-level variation across officers in terms of race-specific encounter rates or risk falling to Simpson’s paradox.…#noted #2020-06-14

Baldwin: The Fire Next Time—Noted

God gave moses the rainbow sign

James Baldwin (1963): The Fire Next Time https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-baldwin-fire.pdf: 'You may be like· your grandfather in this.... Well, he is dead, he never saw you, and he had a terrible life; he was defeated long before he died because, at the bottom of his heart, he really believed what white people said about him.... You really are of another era, part of what happened when the Negro left the land and came into what the late E. Franklin Frazier called "the cities of destruction". You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger. I tell you this because I love you, and please don't you ever forget it.... I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. One can be, indeed one must strive to become, tough and philosophical concerning destruction and death, for this is what most of mankind has been best at since we have heard of man. (But remember: most of mankind is not all of mankind.) But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime. Now, my dear namesake, these innocent and well-meaning people, your countrymen, have caused you to be born under conditions not very far removed from those described for us by Charles Dickens in the London of more than a hundred years ago. (I hear the chorus of the innocents screaming, "No! This is not true ! How bitter you are !"-but I am writing this letter to you, to try to tell you something about how to handle them, for most of them do not yet really know that you exist. I know the conditions under which you were born, for I was there. Your countrymen were not there, and haven't made it yet. Your grandmother was also there, and no one has ever accused her of being bitter. I suggest that the innocents check with her. She isn't hard to find. Your countrymen don't know that she exists, either, though she has been working for them all their lives)...

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Cicero: Those White People in Britain—Too Stupid to Even Make Good Slaves...

Marcus Tullius Cicero (1 Oct. -54): Ad Atticum 4.17.6 http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=PerseusLatinTexts&query=Cic.%20Att.%204.17&getid=0: ‘Scr. Romae K. Oct. a. 700 (54). Cicero Attico Sal.... Ex fratris litteris incredibilia de Caesaris in me amore cognovi, eaque sunt ipsius Caesaris uberrimis litteris confirmata. Britannici belli exitus exspectatur; constat enim aditus insulae esse muratos mirificis molibus. etiam illud iam cognitum est neque argenti scripulum esse ullum in illa insula neque ullam spem praedae nisi ex mancipiis; ex quibus nullos puto te litteris aut musicis eruditos exspectare…' ('From my brother's letter I gather surprising indications of Caesar's affection for me, and they have been confirmed by a very cordial letter from Caesar himself. The result of the British war is a source of anxiety. For it is ascertained that the approaches to the island are protected by astonishing masses of cliff. Moreover, it is now known that there isn't a pennyweight of silver in that island, nor any hope of booty except from slaves, among whom I don't suppose you can expect any instructed in literature or music...) #noted #2020-06-13

Kipling: The Gods of the Copybook Headings—Noted

Rudyard Kipling (1919): The Gods of the Copybook Headings http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_copybook.htm: ‘AS I PASS through my incarnations, in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations, to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers, I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all...

...We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn.
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind....

With the Hopes that our World is built on, they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things....

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew.
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled, and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man.
There are only four things certain, since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit, and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing, and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

.#books #noted #kipling #2020-06-10

Henry Farrell: End of Bleeding-Hearts Libertarians—Noted

Henry Farrell: Broken Hearts https://crookedtimber.org/2020/06/09/broken-hearts/: ‘US libertarian intellectuals are increasingly divided.... Some are opting for a renewed commitment to democracy (where they are building arguments that are in some ways far more radical, and in other ways less radical than standard liberals)... pushing them towards... political commitments... rang[ing] from... NeverTrump Republicanism through to... Elizabeth Warren. Others are doubling down on the commitment to markets (and, tacitly, or explicitly, the Schumpeterian benefits of continued inequality), and a more opportunistic approach to politics where they are willing to strike tactical policy alliances.... This divide has surely been sharpened by the events of the last few weeks, and is likely to get sharper still over the next several months… #noted #2020-06-09

Peggy Noonan Says Trump's Base Are "Gross & Stupid People"

Occasionally—not often—and largely by accident, Peggy Noon writes something true: Peggy Noonan: On Some Things, Americans Can AgreeJ https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-noonan-deplorable.pdf: ‘[Trump] explicitly patronized his own followers... as if he was saying: I’m going to show you how stupid I know you are. I’ll give you crude and gross imagery and you’ll love it because you’re crude and gross people. And some would love it. But... not most.... His base... his 40%... [he will] keep it.... He is proud of his many billionaire friends and think they love him. They don’t. Their support is utterly transactional. They’re embarrassed by him. When they begin to think he won’t be re-elected they will turn, and it will be bloody and on a dime.... He should give an Oval Office address announcing he’s leaving.... He won’t be outshone by his successor. Network producers will listen to Mike Pence once and say, “Let’s do ‘Shark Week.’ ” But you know, America could use a shark week… #journamalism #noted #2020-06-08

Duncan Black on James Bennet...

Duncan Black: You Expect Us To Read Our Own Opinion Page? https://www.eschatonblog.com/2020/06/you-expect-us-to-read-our-own-opinion.html: ‘"Hi James, do you have anything to say?" "We published Cotton’s argument in part because we’ve committed to Times readers to provide a debate on important questions like this." "James, did you even read it?" "Uh, no." Society can only survive so many generations of elite failsons running everything. They're stupid and lazy and immoral and dishonest and they think they're smarter than you because of where they fucking went to high school (James went to St. Albans, you know)… #journamalism #noted #tags #2020-06-08

Psychological Paths to Collaboration...

Smart observations through the lens of French collaboration after 1940 and eastern European collaboration after 1945:

Anne Applebaum: Why Do Republican Leaders Continue to Enable Trump? https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/07/trumps-collaborators/612250/: 'The point is not to compare Trump to Hitler or Stalin; the point is to compare the experiences of high-ranking members of the American Republican Party, especially those who work most closely with the White House, to the experiences of Frenchmen in 1940, or of East Germans in 1945, or of Czesław Miłosz in 1947...

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James Bennet Dodges & Weaves...

I like Michael Bennet a lot: his position is that he pushes for policies where he can see a path to getting 60 votes in the senate. By all accounts Doug Bennet was a great president of Wesleyan. But James Bennet—both at the Atlantic and at the New York Times—appears, by all accounts, to have been the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong job, and to have lacked the self-awareness to understand that:

Ben Terris: Can the Bennet brothers Save the Establishment? https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-terris-james-bennet.pdf: 'In early 2014... Caitlin Flanagan... the state of fraternities in America.... The article included the story of a female student who was raped at a Wesleyan University party, and the ugly court battle that followed---during which the college tried to defend itself against a lawsuit by blaming the woman for putting herself in an unsafe situation. [Father] Douglas Bennet... was not president of the college at the time of the sexual assault or the subsequent court case... mentioned in the story only in passing.... James agreed to recuse himself from any role in editing the story, but Jennifer Barnett, the managing editor at the time, said in an interview with The Post that "over the course of producing the story, he abused the staff and undermined the editorial process."...

...James mistreated Scott Stossel, the editor in charge of the story, often in "hard-to-detect ways," such as not inviting him to staff gatherings, ignoring his emails and cutting him off when speaking in front of colleagues. When reached to comment, Stossel, who still works at the Atlantic, said in an email: "James, with whom I worked for a decade, was an excellent, highly principled editor-in-chief and I'm very proud of the journalism we produced under his leadership. In this particular situation, circumstances put James into an impossible position, so he was recused from working on that piece, which we published as a cover story, to general acclaim."

Barnett said she reported James to human resources three times during the episode. In an email, she told Scott Havens, who was then president of the Atlantic, that James had been acting "openly hostile" toward Stossel. It was "affecting every aspect of the magazine production," she wrote, "and is quite literally making me ill." "Hi Jennifer, thanks for reporting this," Havens wrote back. "Please know I'm also aware and involved." (Havens declined to comment for this article.)

After the story published—without any changes made by James—James called the managing editor into his office. "He told me to 'be very careful,'" Barnett said. "That he was 'in this for the long game.'" A short time later, James was promoted to co-president of the Atlantic and eventually lured back to the New York Times. But not before Barnett left journalism. "I quit because of him," she said—adding that it wasn't only the fraternity story but the atmosphere James created.

"I'm astonished and very sorry to hear this, but there's no way I can defend myself. I've said I would recuse myself from anything related to my brother's campaign, and this article clearly falls into that category," James wrote in an email when asked to comment...

.#noted #2020-06-08

Trying to Prevent Another Subpar Recovery

A slow recovery from the coronavirus recession will be a societal policy choice. But I think that it is a societal policy choice that we are going to make. Adam Ozimek is trying to push back the tide, and it is a tide:

Adam Ozimek: '[Labor market] matching matters https://twitter.com/ModeledBehavior/status/1269979410947506177. The argument from the G[reat ]R[ecession] was never that recovery could happen overnight, but that it could have happened significantly faster...

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Recession Ready Returns...

I am writing before this event has taken place. But I am extremely confident that it will be—was—very interesting and very useful:

Heather Boushey & co.: Recession Ready: Fiscal Policy Options to Support Communities and Stabilize the Economy https://www.hamiltonproject.org/events/recession_ready_fiscal_policy_options_to_support_communities_and_stabilize_the_economy: 'Monday, June 8, 2020 :: 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT :: Online Chat Washington, DC: The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth will host a webcast discussing the importance of expanding aid to state and local governments as part of the continued fiscal policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The webcast will begin with a fireside chat with Rep. Don Beyer, vice chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, and Heather Boushey of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. The webcast will also include a roundtable discussion between Jason Furman of Harvard University, former Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter, and Jay Shambaugh of The Hamilton Project. The webcast will coincide with the one year anniversary of the release of The Hamilton Project and Washington Center for Equitable Growth book, "Recession Ready: Fiscal Policies to Stabilize the American Economy"... #equitablegrowth #noted #2020-06-08

WCEG Jobs Day Charticle...

Always smart, always interesting, always useful. I am, however, going to suggest that Kate, Carmen, and company focus more on employment rather than unemployment numbers. I am becoming increasingly skeptical of how much the unemployment rate, as the CPS questions are asked and answered, corresponds to the reality of our economy:

Kate Bahn & Carmen Sanchez Cumming: Equitable Growth's Jobs Day Graphs: May 2020 Report Edition https://equitablegrowth.org/equitable-growths-jobs-day-graphs-may-2020-report-edition/: 'On June 5th, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on the U.S. labor market during the month of May. Below are five graphs compiled by Equitable Growth staff highlighting important trends in the data. As the overall unemployment rate declined to 13.3%, this was led by a decline in white unemployment from 14.2% to 12.4%. Meanwhile, Black unemployment increased slightly from 16.7% to 16.8% and Hispanic unemployment declined from a historic high of 18.9% to 17.6%.... Employment across sectors began to rebound in May, and growth was led by leisure and hospitality after this industry lost nearly half of all employment in the prior month.... After the most extreme decline in employment levels in history in April, the prime-age employment rate moved upward in May to 71.4%... #equitablegrowth #noted #2020-06-08

A Job Losers' Stimulus...

A very smart piece from Iona Marinescu. One of the frequent complaints about unemployment insurance is that it is not incentive-compatible on the job search dimension. A cash bounty for those losing their jobs whether or not they get quickly reemployed would eliminate this worry:

Ioana Marinescu: Moving from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to a Job Losers' Stimulus Program Amid the Coronavirus Recession https://equitablegrowth.org/moving-from-federal-pandemic-unemployment-compensation-to-a-job-losers-stimulus-program-amid-the-coronavirus-recession/: 'My proposed policy, the job losers' stimulus program, is a cash stimulus for workers who have lost their jobs regardless of whether they remain unemployed or find new employment. Compared to only providing higher unemployment benefits to the unemployed, the job losers' stimulus program boasts the twin benefits of providing greater support to workers who have been most affected by pandemic-related job losses while also modestly increasing overall employment. The exact size of the impact of this new stimulus program is difficult to predict, but a simple policy simulation shows that it could increase the amount of stimulus by 34 percent and allow an additional 6 percent of workers to exit unemployment and return to work within 4 months of losing their jobs... #equitablegrowth #noted #2020-06-08

Equitable Growth Shifting More into the "Race & Economic Growth" Spacer...

The WCEG, historically, has been much more of a “class” than a “race” organization—and more of a win-win pie growing than a redistribution-per-se organization. We very much need to shift more in the race and intersectionality directions. Where, I think, there is a gap we can fill is in pushing forward especially hard on research on the aggregate costs to the economy as a whole of racial prejudice, discrimination, and oppression:

Equitable Growth: Elevating Economic Research on Racist Violence & Exclusion in the United States https://equitablegrowth.org/elevating-economic-research-on-racist-violence-and-exclusion-in-the-united-states/: 'On May 25, 2020, a police officer murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis...

...one of the most recent murders of Black people either by law enforcement or by civilians who faced no immediate consequences... Ahmaud Arbery... Breonna Taylor... Tony McDade, David McAtee... far too many others... the unacceptable view of the expendability of Black lives... the undeniable harm caused by racism and the persistent damage that is present today....

The violence and repression wielded against Black people, often carried out by authorities at all levels of government in the country or implicitly sanctioned by those same authorities, is deployed in order to minimize Black Americans' political power and economic opportunity.... It is impossible to understand our economy, our failure to ensure broad-based growth and stability, and the economic connections to social and political power without addressing these forces in our policy frameworks and policymaking.

That's why the Washington Center for Equitable Growth is elevating key empirical research... on incarceration and police militarization, as well as economic consequences of racist violence, exclusion, and disenfranchisement.... Equitable Growth must still do much more...

.#equitablegrowth #inequality #noted #racism #2020-06-08

My Cousin Jonathan Cooks One of the 17 Best Takeout Burgers in NYC...

Lucy Meilus, Kelly Dobkin, & Tae Yoon: Best Burgers in NYC: Good Burger Spots for Delivery & Takeout Orders https://www.thrillist.com/eat/new-york/best-burgers-nyc: ‘Lucali Burger. Bond Street Cafe. 365 Bond Street, Brooklyn: Located in Gowanus right by the canal, this local American cafe specializes in coffee, breakfast items like avocado toast, and a hefty list of sandwiches both hot and cold. Remaining open during COVID, Bond Street Cafe has continued to offer its regular menu for takeout and delivery, in addition to adding a special burger made in collaboration with famed Brooklyn pizzeria, Lucali. The Lucali Burger’s double patties are made with a blend of brisket and short rib from local butcher Paisanos and is served with melted American cheese, onions, pickles, mustard, and ketchup between a seeded roll… #coronavirus #food #noted #2020-06-07

Gandalf the Grey Talking Shop...

Gandalf the Grey talking shop. Since none of the eight people he is talking to are wizards, nobody he is addressing has the slightest idea what he is talking about—except possibly Legolas: Gandalf: The Fellowship of the Ring: 'I found myself suddenly faced by something that I have not met before. I could think of nothing to do but to try and put a shutting-spell on the door. I know many; but to do things of that kind rightly requires time, and even then the door can be broken by strength. As I stood there I could hear orc-voices on the other side: at any moment I thought they would burst it open. I could not hear what was said; they seemed to be talking in their own hideous language. All I caught was ghâsh: that is “fire”. Then something came into the chamber–I felt it through the door, and the orcs themselves were afraid and fell silent. It laid hold of the iron ring, and then it perceived me and my spell. What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command. That proved too great a strain. The door burst in pieces. Something dark as a cloud was blocking out all the light inside, and I was thrown backwards down the stairs. All the wall gave way, and the roof of the chamber as well, I think… #books #noted #2020-06-04

How Are We Supposed to Teach?

My day job as a professor is teaching people at the college level. Americas colleges and universities are highly, highly effective as teaching institutions: we boost people’s incomes by about 7% for each year attended, and it looks as though only 2%-points of those 7 are signaling and selection—the rest are true value. Moreover, those who major in my discipline, economics, appear to gain an extra 20% in income relative to those similarly situated who major in some other non-STEM discipline. Plus we genuinely believe that we open mental doors, and give our students the tools they need to live richer lives.

But there has long been a problem with colleges and universities as an industry: we do not really understand how we do it. Much of what we do is give lectures, assign readings, and administer tests. But the research shows that most of our students learn very little from lectures, are rather poor at learning from readings (when they do them, rather than take a look at the pile we have overassigned and give up), and cram for tests in a way that turns test studying into the opposite of effective reinforcement learning.

The smart money has been that our success as an industry is primarily the result of the social-intellectual rather than the formal-intellectual component of higher education. But we are not sure. This problem, however, has been on the back burner for years… generations… perhaps centuries… because our “customers” have long been highly satisfied.

But now this knowledge problem of ours has suddenly become urgent. The social-intellectual component of education has come crashing down in the age of coronavirus. We badly need to retool. We badly need to retool immediately. Yet we do not know how to do so:

Scott Galloway: How Coronavirus Will Disrupt Future Colleges & Universities https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/scott-galloway-future-of-college.html: ‘The value of education has been substantially degraded. There’s the education certification and then there’s the experience part of college. The experience part of it is down to zero, and the education part has been dramatically reduced.... At universities, we’re having constant meetings, and we’ve all adopted this narrative of “This is unprecedented, and we’re in this together,” which is Latin for “We’re not lowering our prices, bitches.” Universities are still in a period of consensual hallucination with each saying, “We’re going to maintain these prices for what has become, overnight, a dramatically less compelling product offering.” In fact, the coronavirus is forcing people to take a hard look at that 51,000 tuition they’re spending.... It’s a great year to take a gap year.... Ultimately, universities are going to partner with companies to help them expand. I think that partnership will look something like MIT and Google partnering. Microsoft and Berkeley. Big-tech companies are about to enter education…

 #berkeley #cognition #noted #teaching #universities #2020-06-04

Eric Budish Is a Genius...

The insight that a good way to talk to non-economists is to point out that there is a major kink in the benefits as you go from R greater than 1 to R less than one seems to me likely to be very important and likely to be exactly right. And I think the figure Eric put up on the screen during his talk is one of the best ways I can think of to convey that insight to non-economists: Eric Budish: R Less than 1 as an Economic Constraint: Can We “Expand the Frontier” in the Fight Against Covid-19? https://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/eric.budish/research/Budish_expand_the_frontier_covid19.pdf: ‘This note suggests that we view R Less than 1 as an economic constraint, allowing social welfare in the traditional sense (economic activity, societal well-being) to be the policy objective. This formulation highlights two key questions at the intersection of health and economics research in response to the Covid-19 crisis. First, what activities maximize social welfare subject to the constraint that disease-transmission is contained, i.e., R Less than 1. Second, what are ways to “expand the frontier” of how much social welfare we can achieve while keeping disease-transmission contained. For example, could widespread use of masks and gloves, society-wide campaigns to “wash your hands,” “stay home if sick,” and “don’t touch your face,” and aggressive testing, together allow us to meaningfully increase the level of economic activity and societal well-being that is possible while keeping R Less than 1?… #coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-04

U.S. & China: Economy Size

Note to Self: How does the U.S. economy really compare in size to China's right now?: Statistics Times: Comparing United States and China: "The United States and China are the two largest economies of the world in both Nominal and PPP method. US is at top in nominal whereas China is at top in PPP since 2013 after overtaking US. Both country together share 40.75% and 34.27% of total world's GDP in nominal and PPP terms, respectively in 2019. GDP of both country is higher than 3rd ranked country Japan (nominal) and India (PPP) by a huge margin. Therefore, only these two are in competition to become first. As per projections by IMF for 2019, United States is leading by $7,128 bn or 1.50 times on exchange rate basis. Economy of China is Int. $5,987 billion or 1.28 times more than US on purchasing power parity basis. Acc to estimates by World Bank, China gdp was approx 11% of US in 1960 but in 2017 it is 63%. Due to vast population of China, more than 4 times of US's population, difference between these two country is very high in terms of per capita income. Per capita income of United States is 6.38 and 3.32 times greater than of China in nominal and PPP terms, respectively. US is the 8th richest country of the world whereas China comes at 72th rank. On PPP basis, United states is at 12th position and China is at 75th... #noted #2020-06-04

"Your Young Men Shall See Visions, & Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams..."

Luke: Acts 2 KJV https://biblehub.com/kjv/acts/2.htm: 'They were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, "What meaneth this?" Others mocking said, "These men are full of new wine." But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them...

...Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath... #noted #2020-06-04

Hoisted from the Archives: Moral Fault Attaches to Anybody Who Pays Money to or Boosts the Influence of the _New York Times

There are many, many reasons why moral fault attaches to anybody who pays money to or boosts the influence of the New York Times. This is one: Thomas L. Friedman (2003): Because We Could: "The failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.'s) in Iraq is becoming a big, big story. But is it the real story we should be concerned with? No. It was the wrong issue before the war, and it's the wrong issue now. Why? Because there were actually four reasons for this war: the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason and the stated reason...

...The ''real reason'' for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn't enough. Because a terrorism bubble had built up over there—a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things ''martyrs'' was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such ''martyrs'' was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die.

The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world. And don't believe the nonsense that this had no effect. Every neighboring government -- and 98 percent of terrorism is about what governments let happen -- got the message. If you talk to U.S. soldiers in Iraq they will tell you this is what the war was about...

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I Do Not Trust This Supreme Court...

I am not nearly as confident as Ben Thompson is here. Right now we have 5 Supreme Court justices who are partisans first, Republicans second, Americans not at all, and judges to a negative degree. I have no idea what they will do should Trump’s “executive order “wind up in front of them. The Supreme Court might rule 9-0 against Trump. It might write a 5-4 “non-precedental” upholding on whatever very narrow ground it can find for the particular case brought. It might go all in for Trump, 5-4:

Ben Thompson: Trump’s Executive Order, Section 230 In Court, Public Forums https://stratechery.com/2020/trumps-executive-order-section-230-in-court-public-forums: ‘The problem is with the summary of subsection 230(c)(2)(A).... The part that the executive order is missing: "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected". That’s a pretty important clause!.... Congress clearly enacted § 230 to forbid the imposition of publisher liability on a service provider for the exercise of its editorial and self-regulatory functions.... The imposition of tort liability on service providers for the communications of others represented, for Congress, simply another form of intrusive government regulation of speech. Section 230 was enacted, in part, to maintain the robust nature of Internet communication and, accordingly, to keep government interference in the medium to a minimum...

...The... applicable... case... is Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck... explicit that, except for extremely limited cases, private corporations were not state actors, and thus not beholden to the First Amendment, even in cases where they were fulfilling government functions like running public access television channels.... To be honest, there is a part of me that hopes Trump signs this order. The arguments I have gone through, particularly Section 230, are increasingly widespread, and it would be gratifying to see them soundly refuted in court, as I am confident they would be…

#noted #2020-06-04