nhaliday + coming-apart   96

Dollar General Hits a Gold Mine in Rural America - Bloomberg
“It reminds me of a craps table,” Brown, the commercial real estate analyst, says. “Essentially what the dollar stores are betting on in a large way is that we are going to have a permanent underclass in America. It’s based on the concept that the jobs went away, and the jobs are never coming back, and that things aren’t going to get better in any of these places.”

HOW DOLLAR GENERAL BECAME RURAL AMERICA’S STORE OF CHOICE: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-dollar-general-became-rural-americas-store-of-choice-1512401992

The Supply Chain In Lieu Of The Welfare State: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/12/04/the-supply-chain-in-lieu-of-the-welfare-state/

“Over the last five years a new Dollar General opened every four-and-a-half hours…”

That is from The Economist. The article attributes much of the success of the chain to its location decisions, such as opening near churches, schools, highways, and post offices.
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Where Has Progress Got Us? - NYTimes.com
THE TRUE AND ONLY HEAVEN Progress and Its Critics. By Christopher Lasch. 591 pp. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. $25.

reviewed by William Julius Wilson

Lower-middle-class culture, Mr. Lasch argues, reflects an emphasis on the family, the church and the neighborhood. A community's continuity is valued more highly than individual advancement, social solidarity is favored over social mobility and the maintenance of existing ways takes precedent over mainstream ideals of success. Parents want their children to succeed in life, but they also want them to be considerate of their elders, to willingly bear their responsibilities and to show courage under adversity. "More concerned with honor than with worldly ambition, they have less interest in the future than do upper-middle-class parents, who try to equip their children with the qualities required for competitive advancement."

Mr. Lasch acknowledges the provincialism and narrowness of lower-middle-class culture, and he does not deny that "it has produced racism, nativism, anti-intellectualism, and all the other evils so often cited by liberal critics." But, he maintains, in their zeal to condemn such objectionable traits, liberals have failed to see the valuable features of petty-bourgeois culture -- what he calls moral realism, skepticism about progress, respect for limits and understanding that everything has its price.
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Credit Scores and Committed Relationships
We document substantial positive assortative matching with respect to credit scores, even when controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. As a result, individual-level differences in access to credit are largely preserved at the household level. Moreover, we find that the couples’ average level of and the match quality in credit scores, measured at the time of relationship formation, are highly predictive of subsequent separations.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
In Defense of Individualist Culture | Otium
The salient feature of an individualist environment is that nobody directly tries to make you do anything.


I see a lot of writers these days raising problems with modern individualist culture, and it may be an especially timely topic. The Internet is a novel superstimulus, and it changes more rapidly, and affords people more options, than ever before. We need to think about the actual consequences of a world where many people are in practice being left alone to do what they want, and clearly not all the consequences are positive.

But I do want to suggest some considerations in favor of individualist culture — that often-derided “atomized modern world” that most of us live in.

We Aren’t Clay

interesting: https://slatestarscratchpad.tumblr.com/post/162329749236/httpssrconstantinwordpresscom20170627in-de

Patriarchy is the Problem: https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/patriarchy-is-the-problem/
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june 2017 by nhaliday
The Dream Hoarders: How America's Top 20 Percent Perpetuates Inequality | Boston Review
this is ominous
Has the Democratic Party Gotten Too Rich for Its Own Good: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/opinion/democratic-party-rich-thomas-edsall.html
Saving the American Dream: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/saving-american-dream/
It’s not just about the people at the top
- Amy Wax

ow can we arrange things so that more people with different levels of affluence can prosper and live meaningful lives? How can we make the advantages that the rich now “hoard” more widely available, thus reducing their incentive to separate themselves? Although these goals are elusive and difficult for any society to attain, ours can probably do better. But the changes required would be far bolder than the tepid ones Reeves proposes, which do little to disrupt current “structures of privilege.” And more dramatic reforms might also advance the causes he holds dear, including enhancing mobility and reducing inequality.
So here goes my laundry list.

Let’s start with Reeves’s proposal to ban legacy admissions. Not only would this increase fairness, but it would discourage private contributions. This would, in turn, promote the worthy goal of defunding the Ivies and other selective universities, which have become counterproductive sites of snobbery, dogma, and progressive indoctrination. Save for the kind of scientific research that benefits everyone, they don’t need any more money and could do with much less.

But we shouldn’t stop there. As suggested by the late Justice Antonin Scalia during oral argument in the Grutter affirmative-action case, selective admissions should simply be abolished and students admitted by lottery, except for math and hard sciences, for which a simple test can determine entrance. The steep pyramid of colleges, in which the affluent crowd monopolizes prestigious institutions, will be immediately flattened, and the need for affirmative action would disappear. In this respect, our system would simply mimic those in northern European countries like Holland and Germany, where enrolling in the university nearest to home is the usual practice and there is no clear elite pecking order. And since fewer than a fifth of colleges take less than half their applicants, with only a tiny group much more competitive, this change would have no effect on most institutions of higher learning.

While we’re at it, we should give up on the fetish of college for all by significantly reducing the number of students attending four-year academic programs to no more than 10 to 15 percent of high-school graduates. The government should dial back on student loans and grants to universities, except for scientific research.

That step, which would reduce the burden of educational debt, is not as drastic as it appears, since many students who start college end up dropping out and only 25 percent of high-school graduates manage to obtain a four-year degree. At the same time, we should step up the effort to recruit highly qualified low-income students to the most selective colleges across the country—something that Caroline Hoxby’s research tells us is not currently taking place. Finally, we should copy some of Western Europe’s most successful economies by tracking more students into job-related nonacademic programs, and by redirecting the private and public money that now goes to universities to creating and maintaining such programs.

More broadly, the amounts freed up by defunding elite colleges and private schools should be used to help average Americans. The Gates Foundation and other rich private philanthropies should stop chasing after educational schemes of dubious value and devote their billions to improving community colleges, supporting the people who attend them, and dramatically expanding vocational programs.

Although Reeves does mention vocational education, he does so only in passing. That option should receive renewed emphasis. And private donors should provide grants to thousands of students of modest means, including stipends for rent and living expenses, to enable them to do the summer internships that Reeves claims are now so important to getting ahead.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Yale Law Journal - Amazon's Antitrust Paradox
This Note argues that the current framework in antitrust—specifically its pegging competition to “consumer welfare,” defined as short-term price effects—is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon’s dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output. Specifically, current doctrine underappreciates the risk of predatory pricing and how integration across distinct business lines may prove anticompetitive. These concerns are heightened in the context of online platforms for two reasons. First, the economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits, a strategy that investors have rewarded. Under these conditions, predatory pricing becomes highly rational—even as existing doctrine treats it as irrational and therefore implausible. Second, because online platforms serve as critical intermediaries, integrating across business lines positions these platforms to control the essential infrastructure on which their rivals depend. This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors.

Amazon Must Be Stopped: https://newrepublic.com/article/119769/amazons-monopoly-must-be-broken-radical-plan-tech-giant

Amazon Will Go To Denver: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/09/10/amazon-will-go-to-denver/
Real things cities are offering to get Amazon HQ2
*Chicago: Let Amazon keep employees' income tax
*SoCal: Give away $100M in land
*Boston: City employees working just for Amazon
*Fresno: Let Amazon decide how to spend tax dollars

Washington, D.C., might have a leg up, having already hosted Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos for visits when he considered acquiring the Washington Post, which he now owns. Mr. Bezos also purchased the former Textile Museum in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood for $23 million in 2016 and is currently turning it into a private residence.

28-year-old makes millions buying from Walmart, selling on Amazon: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/28-year-old-makes-millions-buying-from-walmart-selling-on-amazon/ar-AAupB8i

Thread: Why Amazon’s HQ2 is going to Fairfax County


walmart is the only entity that has even a slim chance at preventing jeff bezos from intermediating every commodity exchange in the world, u must respect

"I tried to save you, but you didn't listen. Now you'll have to face Him alone..."

What Amazon does to wages: https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21735020-worlds-largest-retailer-underpaying-its-employees-what-amazon-does-wages
Is the world’s largest retailer underpaying its employees?

Flat or falling industry wages are common in the cities and towns where Amazon opens distribution centres, according to an analysis by The Economist. Government figures show that after Amazon opens a storage depot, local wages for warehouse workers fall by an average of 3%. In places where Amazon operates, such workers earn about 10% less than similar workers employed elsewhere.

What Amazon Does to Poor Cities: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/02/amazon-warehouses-poor-cities/552020/
The debate over Amazon’s HQ2 obscures the company’s rapid expansion of warehouses in low-income areas.

The Facts Behind Trump’s Tweets on Amazon, Taxes and the Postal Service: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/us/politics/trump-amazon-post-office-fact-check.html

If Workers Slack Off, the Wristband Will Know. (And Amazon Has a Patent for It.): https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/01/technology/amazon-wristband-tracking-privacy.html

auto-management -> automation dystopia: http://marshallbrain.com/manna.htm

Amazon’s vision for the future: delivery drone beehives in every city: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/23/15860668/amazon-drone-delivery-patent-city-centers
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That's OK. (For Now.) - Reason.com
This is like a reversal of the industrious revolution studied in my JEBO paper: new consumption technologies are money cheap but time pricey

participation has changed along an understudied margin of labor supply. I find that “in-and-outs”—men who temporarily leave the labor force—represent a growing fraction of prime age men across multiple data sources and are responsible for roughly one third of the decline in the participation rate since 1977. In-and-outs take short, infrequent breaks out of the labor force in between jobs, but they are otherwise continuously attached to the labor force. Leading explanations for the growing share of permanent labor force dropouts, such as disability, do not apply to in-and-outs. Instead, reduced-form evidence and a structural model of household labor supply both indicate that the rise of in-and-outs reflects a shift in labor supply, largely due to the increasing earnings of men’s partners and the growth of men living with their parents.

Pointer from Tyler Cowen. My thoughts:

1. When we think of labor force participation declining, we think of, say, John Smith, deciding to never work again. What this paper is saying is that the statistics reflect something different. One month Smith takes a break, then next month he gets a job and Tom Jones takes a break.

2. I think we have always had a large number of workers who are not fully employed year round. That is, there have always been a lot of workers who take breaks between jobs. This is common in construction work, for example.

3. I don’t know if this matters for the phenomenon at hand, but we used to have inventory recessions. In those cases, workers would be out of a job for a while, but they would still be in the labor force, because they were waiting to be recalled by the firm that had laid them off.

4. It seems to me that this is an important paper. Re-read the last sentence in the quoted excerpt.

Job outlook growing worse for young American men: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/01/02/job-outlook-growing-worse-young-american-men-opinion/996922001/
As one might imagine, the absence of a job, quality education, or spouse has not bred otherwise productive citizens. Multiple studies have found that young men have replaced what would otherwise be working hours with leisure time at a near 1-1 ratio. Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago, found that young men spent a startling 75 percent of this leisure time playing video games, with many spending more than 30 hours a week gaming and over 5 million Americans spending more than 45 hours per week.

Higher suicide rates, violent crime, and drug addiction among young men have followed. Suicide rates in the United States are at a 30-year high, with men more than three and a half times more likely to take their own lives than women. Around the United States, violent crimes, homicide in particular, has increased in two-thirds of American cities, with overwhelming young male perpetrators driving the increase. A 2015 Brookings Institute study estimated that nearly half of working-age American men who are out of the labor force are using painkillers, daily.

These problems have been “invisible” for too long.

As video games get better, young men work less and play more: http://review.chicagobooth.edu/economics/2017/article/video-games-get-better-young-men-work-less-and-play-more

Why Are Prime-Age Men Vanishing from the Labor Force?: https://www.kansascityfed.org/~/media/files/publicat/econrev/econrevarchive/2018/1q18tuzemen.pdf

Prime-Age Men May Never Return to U.S. Workforce, Fed Paper Says: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-23/prime-age-men-may-never-return-to-u-s-workforce-fed-paper-says
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Who Will Make Our Coffee in Pret? | Quillette
Immigrants Keep an Iowa Meatpacking Town Alive and Growing: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/29/business/economy/storm-lake-iowa-immigrant-workers.html
Waves of Asian, African and Latino newcomers have filled jobs at pork, egg and turkey plants where wages have fallen and work has grown more grueling.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Assortive mating and income inequality | West Hunter
More than in the past, we have doctors marrying other doctors, rather than nurses, basically because of an increase in assortative mating for education. Ceteris paribus, this would tend to cause greater income equality among families. Is it the main driver of increasing income inequality?

Not at all. Most of the increase over the last 30 years has been among business executives and people working in finance. Since 1979, 58% of the expansion of income of the top 1% of households has this origin. For the top 0.1% of households, it’s been 67%.


Now I’m about to say something a little dangerous – so get your nitroglycerin pills ready.

Maybe those finance guys and CEOs are delivering enormously more value than they did in the 1950s!

For those remaining readers that haven’t died laughing, increased assortative mating probably has contributed to income inequality. Just not very much. Changes in the tax code, outsourcing, automation, smothering the board of directors in cream, and inattentive stockholders all matter more.

capital gains: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/assortive-mating-and-income-inequality/#comment-24318
Educational Homogamy and Assortative Mating Have Not Increased: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.nber.org/papers/w22927.pdf
1960-2010, so all post WW2
Highly educated women partner more often “downwards” and medium educated women partner less often “upwards”
The new assortative mating (phenotypical, perhaps no change in genotypical assortative mating) due to women outnumbering men at university
If this means less genotypic assortative mating, then BAD NEWS: the smart fraction will shrink, and #decline will accelerate
Counterrevolutionary and reactionary elements warned it was a mistake to debauch higher education by over-expansion. Maybe they were right?
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may 2017 by nhaliday
A sense of where you are | West Hunter
Nobody at the Times noticed it at first. I don’t know that they ever did notice it by themselves- likely some reader brought it to their attention. But this happens all the time, because very few people have a picture of the world in their head that includes any numbers. Mostly they don’t even have a rough idea of relative size.

In much the same way, back in the 1980s,lots of writers were talking about 90,000 women a year dying of anorexia nervosa, another impossible number. Then there was the great scare about 1,000,000 kids being kidnapped in the US each year – also impossible and wrong. Practically all the talking classes bought into it.

You might think that the people at the top are different – but with a few exceptions, they’re just as clueless.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The Audacious Epigone: White despair in the General Social Survey
1/4 WWC report having been depressed, rates still a bit higher for whites among upper classes
Prevalence of Depression by Race/Ethnicity: Findings From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449298/
A Cross-Ethnic Comparison of Lifetime Prevalence Rates of Anxiety Disorders: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931265/

Racial-Ethnic Differences in Psychiatric Diagnoses and Treatment Across 11 Health Care Systems in the Mental Health Research Network: https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.201500217
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The Ghost of Conservatism Past | Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Educating for Liberty
Conservatism may have a future in America, but it will arise most likely from families and intentional communities that live as a counterculture to self-immolating American liberalism, and not as something that will be created in a political laboratory by the educated or from the wreckage of a Flight 93 administration in Washington, D.C.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The origins of the Forbes 400 - Marginal REVOLUTION
I view it this way.  Generational connections now matter less and starting with lots of working capital matters less.  Smarts, drive, and education all matter more.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Income Inequality | Inequality.org
Worsening American Income: Inequality: Is world trade to blame?: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/worsening-american-income-inequality-is-world-trade-to-blame/
America: A dromedary, not a Bactrian camel: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2017/05/america_a_drome.html

Department of Awful Statistics: Income Inequality Edition: https://thedailybeast.com/department-of-awful-statistics-income-inequality-edition
A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality: https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/a-guide-to-statistics-on-historical-trends-in-income-inequality
Income inequality in the United States: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_in_the_United_States
The Geography of U.S. Inequality: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/06/upshot/up-geo-inequality.html

40 Years Of Income Inequality In America, In Graphs: http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/02/349863761/40-years-of-income-inequality-in-america-in-graphs
good charts of trends in income percentiles, wage stagnation, etc.
Wage Stagnation in Nine Charts: http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/
Middle-class wages are stagnant—Middle-wage workers’ hourly wage is up 6% since 1979, low-wage workers’ wages are down 5%, while those with very high wages saw a 41% increase
Cumulative change in real hourly wages of all workers, by wage percentile,* 1979–2013

A Relentless Widening of Disparity in Wealth: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/business/economy/a-relentless-rise-in-unequal-wealth.html
Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/07/opinion/leonhardt-income-inequality.html
American Inequality in Six Charts: http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/american-inequality-in-six-charts

US income inequality: caused by financiers and tech entrepreneurs: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2006/09/us-income-inequality-caused-by.html
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Secular decline in testosterone levels - Rogue Health and Fitness
A Population-Level Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels in American Men: http://sci-hub.tw/10.1210/jc.2006-1375
Secular trends in sex hormones and fractures in men and women: http://www.eje-online.org/content/166/5/887.full.pdf
Small n and older sample, but interesting that while testosterone decreases have been large for men they’ve been even larger (in % terms) for women; wonder if this contributes to declining pregnancy and sexual frequency, rising depression.

Strangelove: https://youtu.be/N1KvgtEnABY?t=67

People offering human-centric explanations like cell phones: Note also that the sperm quality of dogs has decreased 30% since 1988.


mendelian rand.:
1 SD genetically instrumented increase in BMI was associated with a 0.25 SD decrease in serum testosterone

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility: study: https://nypost.com/2018/01/08/ibuprofen-linked-to-male-infertility-study/

Tucker Carlson: "Men Seem To Be Becoming Less Male": https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/03/08/tucker_carlson_men_seem_to_be_becoming_less_male.html
Carlson interviewed Dr. Jordan Peterson who blamed the "insidious" movement being driven by the "radical left" that teaches there a problem of "toxic masculinity." He said ideological policies focus on "de-emphasizing masculinity may be part of the problem."


Those are the numbers. They paint a very clear picture: American men are failing, in body, mind and spirit. This is a crisis. Yet our leaders pretend it’s not happening. They tell us the opposite is true: Women are victims, men are oppressors. To question that assumption is to risk punishment. Even as women far outpace men in higher education, virtually every college campus supports a women’s studies department, whose core goal is to attack male power. Our politicians and business leaders internalize and amplify that message. Men are privileged. Women are oppressed. Hire and promote and reward accordingly.

But it also hints at an almost opposite take: average testosterone levels have been falling for decades, so at this point these businessmen would be the only “normal” (by 1950s standards) men out there, and everyone else would be unprecedently risk-averse and boring.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Liberalism's Future by R. R. Reno | Articles | First Things
The survey was designed to expose two ranges of preferences. The first concerns how individuals rank their self-interest as compared to the interests of others. A fair-minded person sees them as equal. A selfish person is more likely to prefer his own interests. An “intermediate” person (the term the research paper uses) falls in between. The second preference concerns the relative importance of equality as compared to efficiency. A person who favors equality is willing to accept lower efficiency, while those who favor efficiency focus on growing the pie rather than cutting it evenly.

About half the Yale Law students are intermediates, people who give themselves a bit of a preference. The other half tilts strongly in the direction of the selfish. When it comes to equality or efficiency, which is to say, pie growing, the Yale Law students overwhelmingly opt for the latter.

To illuminate these results, the researchers did some comparative work. They mined data about under­graduates from the University of California at Berkeley. Then they looked at Americans in general.

The comparative results are fascinating. Under­graduates at the University of California at Berkeley tilt even more strongly in the selfish direction than the Yale Law students. They’re also efficiency-focused, though less so. The general population, by contrast, shows markedly different preferences. They’re significantly more likely to be fair-minded than selfish. They’re also more likely to favor cutting the pie equally rather than emphasizing efficiency to grow the pie.


The remarkable preference for efficiency we see in the overwhelmingly Democratic student body at Yale Law School also sheds light on today’s progressive priorities, which focus on identity politics, especially sexual identity. Gay rights are favored by rich liberals in large part because they’re seen as a cost-free way toward greater equality. There are lots of well-educated gays and les­bians who look, act, and think just like other elites. Sexual ­orientation “diversity” requires no bending of meritocratic rules, no set-asides, and no expensive, large-scale government programs.


I regret that places like Yale now use young people in such transparent ways: minorities bring “diversity,” rich kids keep the money flowing, foreign students facilitate the formation of a new global network, and meritocratic winners ensure “excellence.” There’s something intrinsically ugly about engineered “communities,” especially ones engineered for the purpose of maintaining and extending power. (Why would anyone concerned about the future of our society give money to these universities?)

So I wish Yale President Peter Salovey the worst. May the universities continue on their trajectory toward becoming rigid, mechanical, and artificial communities dominated by rent-seeking faculty, populated by alienated students, and governed by feckless administrators. Such institutions cannot attract loyalty, and they cannot create a culture for the future.

In some ways, this is a natural evolution of the increasing importance that racial inclusion has taken on in academic environments. Since the civil rights movement, racial inclusion has in the United States been the central measure of whether an institution has stood by its ethical commitments. Universities and academics were, more than any other institutions, the ones that pursued and promoted that measure of legitimacy, as it was meanwhile incorporated into law in the form of disparate impact legislation and a large portion of federal regulations; clearly their commitment to that ideology extends beyond affirmative action in admissions. Universities seemingly sincerely believe that their role in the world would diminish if they were seen to be non-inclusive institutions. (Seen to be is perhaps the operative term here, since visible diversity is what is most important.) When that ideology turns against the institution itself, what can a college president do but bow before it?

But there probably is still one more source of the inversion of power. Colleges and Universities garner an increasing portion of their donations not from the ordinary millionaires of old, but from the mega-rich created by our New Gilded Age. While the merely rich probably swing conservative in their political beliefs, this is not at all clear of the very richest people in the world; Carlos Slim, for example, #2 on the 2014 list, is the largest shareholder in the New York Times whose editorial board endorsed the protesters, and speakers aligned with the Black Lives Matters protests are have been regular guests at Aspen Ideas, Davos, and similar gatherings of the global rich. Whether Eisgruber is bowing before an impassioned undergraduate– or before the Davos Set’s priorities– is hard to know.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: The Rise and Fall of the Meritocracy (BBC podcast)
1. Where meritocracy came from

The word ‘meritocracy’ was coined by my father, a left-wing sociologist called Michael Young, to describe a dystopian society of the future. In his 1958 book The Rise of the Meritocracy, he imagines a 21st Century Britain in which status is determined by a combination of IQ and effort. He acknowledged that this was fairer than an aristocratic society in which status is simply passed on from parents to their children, but it was precisely because meritocracy gave a patina of legitimacy to the inequalities thrown up by free market capitalism that he disapproved of it.

2. Is a meritocratic society fairer?

The political philosopher John Rawls pointed out that a meritocratic society isn’t necessarily fairer than an aristocratic one. After all, the qualities that meritocracy rewards – exceptional intelligence and drive – are, for the most part, natural gifts that people are born with. Since successful people have done nothing to deserve those talents, they don’t deserve the rewards they bring any more than they deserve to inherit a fortune.

3. Complete equality of opportunity

For a society to be 100% meritocratic, you need complete equality of opportunity. But the only way to guarantee that is to remove children from their parents at birth and raise them in identical circumstances. If you don’t do that, the socio-economic status of a child’s parents will inevitably affect that child’s life chances.

4. Is it in the genetics?

According to the political scientist Charles Murray, meritocracy inevitably leads to a genetically-based caste system. Why? Because the traits selected for by the meritocratic sorting principle are genetically-based and, as such, likely to be passed on from parents to their children. Genetic variation means some highly able children will be born to people of average and below average intelligence, but the children of the meritocratic elite will, in aggregate, always have a competitive advantage and over several generations that leads to social ossification.

5. Noblesse oblige

One of the things my father disliked about meritocracy was that it engendered a sense of entitlement amongst the most successful. Because they regard their elevated status as thoroughly deserved, they’re not burdened by a sense of noblesse oblige. At least in an aristocratic society, members of the lucky sperm club are afflicted by guilt and self-doubt and, as such, tend to be a bit nicer to those below them.

6. Is America the most meritocratic country?

Americans like to tell themselves that they live in the most meritocratic country in the world but, in fact, it may be one of the least. In most international league tables of inter-generational social mobility, which measure the chances a child born into one class has of moving into another over the course of their lifetime, America is at the bottom.

Toby Yong on meritocracy earlier: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2015/09/meritocracy-and-dna.html

meritocracy and credentialism:
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april 2017 by nhaliday
William Galston: Visions of a Permanent Underclass - WSJ
In 1958, as millions of American high-school students were beginning their long infatuation with George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," a major figure in the British Labour Party, Michael Young, published a far more prescient futurist tract. His essay, "The Rise of the Meritocracy" described a year-2034 dystopia in which general intelligence determined the distribution of income and status.

The losers knew that they were failures, and the ideology of meritocracy had eliminated the moral basis of complaint: The losers deserved their subordination and should accept it. In the end, they didn't, and they revolted against a system that insulted their dignity.

Fifty-five years after Young's neglected classic, economist Tyler Cowen has entered the fray with his latest book, "Average Is Over," which analyzes the dynamics behind the rise of what he terms the "hyper-meritocracy." As his point of departure, he takes some well-known trends—growing economic inequality, falling male wages, declining labor-force participation and the rising share of the national product flowing to capital rather than to labor.

Citing the work of economists such as David Autor, Mr. Cowen depicts a polarizing labor market, increasingly hollowed out as middle-skill, middle-wage jobs disappear. The Great Recession, he argues, unmasked the fact that U.S. employers had taken on more middle-wage workers than they needed or could afford. That's why so many displaced workers are being forced to accept new jobs at lower wages—and why so many others have dropped out of the workforce.

The main driver of these disquieting trends is technology—specifically, smart machines that can do (and do better) an ever-rising share of what human beings do to earn their living. As this proceeds, some will win out: people who work with and around smart machines; managers who can organize these people; individuals with high general intelligence who can size up new situations and quickly learn what they need to know; and conscientious subordinates with the key new virtues of reliability and team play. Everyone else will lose out—except the marketers who know how to appeal to the wealthy.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Educational Romanticism & Economic Development | pseudoerasmus


Did Nations that Boosted Education Grow Faster?: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/10/did_nations_tha.html
On average, no relationship. The trendline points down slightly, but for the time being let's just call it a draw. It's a well-known fact that countries that started the 1960's with high education levels grew faster (example), but this graph is about something different. This graph shows that countries that increased their education levels did not grow faster.

Where has all the education gone?: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=




The Case Against Education: What's Taking So Long, Bryan Caplan: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/03/the_case_agains_9.html

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/whats-college-good-for/546590/
Students don't seem to be getting much out of higher education.
- Bryan Caplan

College: Capital or Signal?: http://www.economicmanblog.com/2017/02/25/college-capital-or-signal/
After his review of the literature, Caplan concludes that roughly 80% of the earnings effect from college comes from signalling, with only 20% the result of skill building. Put this together with his earlier observations about the private returns to college education, along with its exploding cost, and Caplan thinks that the social returns are negative. The policy implications of this will come as very bitter medicine for friends of Bernie Sanders.

Doubting the Null Hypothesis: http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/doubting-the-null-hypothesis/

Is higher education/college in the US more about skill-building or about signaling?: https://www.quora.com/Is-higher-education-college-in-the-US-more-about-skill-building-or-about-signaling
ballpark: 50% signaling, 30% selection, 20% addition to human capital
more signaling in art history, more human capital in engineering, more selection in philosophy

Econ Duel! Is Education Signaling or Skill Building?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/03/econ-duel-is-education-signaling-or-skill-building.html
Marginal Revolution University has a brand new feature, Econ Duel! Our first Econ Duel features Tyler and me debating the question, Is education more about signaling or skill building?

Against Tulip Subsidies: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/06/against-tulip-subsidies/




Most American public school kids are low-income; about half are non-white; most are fairly low skilled academically. For most American kids, the majority of the waking hours they spend not engaged with electronic media are at school; the majority of their in-person relationships are at school; the most important relationships they have with an adult who is not their parent is with their teacher. For their parents, the most important in-person source of community is also their kids’ school. Young people need adult mirrors, models, mentors, and in an earlier era these might have been provided by extended families, but in our own era this all falls upon schools.

Caplan gestures towards work and earlier labor force participation as alternatives to school for many if not all kids. And I empathize: the years that I would point to as making me who I am were ones where I was working, not studying. But they were years spent working in schools, as a teacher or assistant. If schools did not exist, is there an alternative that we genuinely believe would arise to draw young people into the life of their community?


It is not an accident that the state that spends the least on education is Utah, where the LDS church can take up some of the slack for schools, while next door Wyoming spends almost the most of any state at $16,000 per student. Education is now the one surviving binding principle of the society as a whole, the one black box everyone will agree to, and so while you can press for less subsidization of education by government, and for privatization of costs, as Caplan does, there’s really nothing people can substitute for it. This is partially about signaling, sure, but it’s also because outside of schools and a few religious enclaves our society is but a darkling plain beset by winds.

This doesn’t mean that we should leave Caplan’s critique on the shelf. Much of education is focused on an insane, zero-sum race for finite rewards. Much of schooling does push kids, parents, schools, and school systems towards a solution ad absurdum, where anything less than 100 percent of kids headed to a doctorate and the big coding job in the sky is a sign of failure of everyone concerned.

But let’s approach this with an eye towards the limits of the possible and the reality of diminishing returns.

The real reason the left would support Moander: the usual reason. because he’s an enemy.

I have a problem in thinking about education, since my preferences and personal educational experience are atypical, so I can’t just gut it out. On the other hand, knowing that puts me ahead of a lot of people that seem convinced that all real people, including all Arab cabdrivers, think and feel just as they do.

One important fact, relevant to this review. I don’t like Caplan. I think he doesn’t understand – can’t understand – human nature, and although that sometimes confers a different and interesting perspective, it’s not a royal road to truth. Nor would I want to share a foxhole with him: I don’t trust him. So if I say that I agree with some parts of this book, you should believe me.


Caplan doesn’t talk about possible ways of improving knowledge acquisition and retention. Maybe he thinks that’s impossible, and he may be right, at least within a conventional universe of possibilities. That’s a bit outside of his thesis, anyhow. Me it interests.

He dismisses objections from educational psychologists who claim that studying a subject improves you in subtle ways even after you forget all of it. I too find that hard to believe. On the other hand, it looks to me as if poorly-digested fragments of information picked up in college have some effect on public policy later in life: it is no coincidence that most prominent people in public life (at a given moment) share a lot of the same ideas. People are vaguely remembering the same crap from the same sources, or related sources. It’s correlated crap, which has a much stronger effect than random crap.

These widespread new ideas are usually wrong. They come from somewhere – in part, from higher education. Along this line, Caplan thinks that college has only a weak ideological effect on students. I don’t believe he is correct. In part, this is because most people use a shifting standard: what’s liberal or conservative gets redefined over time. At any given time a population is roughly half left and half right – but the content of those labels changes a lot. There’s a shift.

I put it this way, a while ago: “When you think about it, falsehoods, stupid crap, make the best group identifiers, because anyone might agree with you when you’re obviously right. Signing up to clear nonsense is a better test of group loyalty. A true friend is with you when you’re wrong. Ideally, not just wrong, but barking mad, rolling around in your own vomit wrong.”
You just explained the Credo quia absurdum doctrine. I always wondered if it was nonsense. It is not.
Someone on twitter caught it first – got all the way to “sliding down the razor blade of life”. Which I explained is now called “transitioning”

What Catholics believe: https://theweek.com/articles/781925/what-catholics-believe
We believe all of these things, fantastical as they may sound, and we believe them for what we consider good reasons, well attested by history, consistent with the most exacting standards of logic. We will profess them in this place of wrath and tears until the extraordinary event referenced above, for which men and women have hoped and prayed for nearly 2,000 years, comes to pass.

According to Caplan, employers are looking for conformity, conscientiousness, and intelligence. They use completion of high school, or completion of college as a sign of conformity and conscientiousness. College certainly looks as if it’s mostly signaling, and it’s hugely expensive signaling, in terms of college costs and foregone earnings.

But inserting conformity into the merit function is tricky: things become important signals… because they’re important signals. Otherwise useful actions are contraindicated because they’re “not done”. For example, test scores convey useful information. They could help show that an applicant is smart even though he attended a mediocre school – the same role they play in college admissions. But employers seldom request test scores, and although applicants may provide them, few do. Caplan says ” The word on the street… [more]
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Why Have Marriage Rates Declined – spottedtoad
Oh, the Times they are a-Changin: https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/oh-the-times-they-are-a-changin/
Is this really because of Tinderpocalypse, or porn, or a second sexual revolution, or the alleged ability of desirable men to avoid commitment because another girl is always a swipe away?

Whatever it is, it seems distinctive and troubling that the marriage rate has generally been dropping more quickly even as the economy has recovered.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
‘How dare you work on whites’: Professors under fire for research on white mortality - The Washington Post
the paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078

The Nobel laureate Angus Deaton discusses extreme poverty, opioid addiction, Trump voters, robots, and rent-seeking.

co-authored the "dead white people paper" w/ wife

point about expansion of education seems important


Diverging Life Expectancies and Voting Patterns in the 2016 US Presidential Election.: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28817322
Changes in county life expectancy from 1980 to 2014 were strongly negatively associated with Trump's vote share, with less support for Trump in counties experiencing greater survival gains. Counties in which life expectancy stagnated or declined saw a 10-percentage-point increase in the Republican vote share between 2008 and 2016.

DESPAIR AND DECADES-LONG DEINDUSTRIALIZATION: https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/despair-and-decades-long-deindustrialization/

WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE: https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/weve-been-here-before/
A concept that seems to me to be missing from the Ruhm vs. Case/Deaton debate on “deaths of despair” is that of social crisis.

This seems to me to be the case for American Indians, who began experiencing what looks like a similar social crisis to non-college educated whites about a decade beforehand: rapidly escalating rates of suicide, drug overdoses, exit from the workforce, and even alcohol-related deaths (which were already very high for American Indians well before 2000, of course):


The common thread here would seem to be replacement of workforce participation with transfer payments, particularly cash transfers (since, my own reservations about Medicaid aside, increases in in-kind payments and SNAP since the 80s haven’t seemed to exert the same disruptive effect.) As I’ve said before, it seems very likely to me that technology will push an ever larger segment of society out of the economy, sooner or later, but how to prevent this from tearing apart our social fabric I don’t know.

Once It Was Overdue Books. Now Librarians Fight Overdoses.: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/nyregion/librarians-opioid-heroin-overdoses.html

somewhat related: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/male-loneliness-in-suburbia/
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The Peculiar Populism of Donald Trump - The New York Times
Instead, he points out, the United States has gone in two seemingly opposite directions over the past 15 years, becoming “significantly more secular-rational, while losing ground on self-expressive values.”

Whites living in low density, exurban and rural areas are driving the shift back toward survival values, Wilkinson argues.


How Fear of Falling Explains the Love of Trump: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/opinion/how-fear-of-falling-explains-the-love-of-trump.html
In these conversations, she said,

it wouldn’t take long before another topic spontaneously came up, blacks, their problems, their call on government help. At the bottom of the imagined slide was the situation of blacks — teen single moms, kids out in the street at night, slacking off in school, drugs, drink. So, yes, the feeling was, “if we don’t turn this thing around, that could be us.”

Why Fathers Leave Their Children: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/opinion/why-fathers-leave-their-children.html
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 - Charles A. Murray - Google Books
Watching the European Model Implode

The simplest way in which the advanced welfare state will lose attractiveness is the looming bankruptcy of the European welfare states.

The financial bankruptcy is not anything that even the cleverest planner can avoid. As publicly financed benefits grow, so do the populations who find that they need them. The more people who need benefits, the more government bureaucracy is required. The more people who rely on support from the government and the larger the government, the fewer the people in the private sector who pay for the benefits and for the apparatus of the state. The larger the number of people who depend on government either for benefits or for their jobs, the larger the constituency for voting for ever-larger government.

These are arithmetical realities that have become manifest in every advanced Western country. They have brought some European welfare states within sight of bankruptcy as I write. Fertility rates that are far below replacement throughout western Europe ensure that the productive native-born population will fall still more in the years to come.

There is no permanent way out of the self-destructive dynamics of the welfare state, but Europe has a tempting palliative-encouraging large-scale immigration of younger populations who work in the private sector and pay taxes that make up the revenue deficit. It won't work forever-sooner or later, the immigrants, too, will succumb to the incentives that the welfare state sets up. But the more immediate problem is that most of the new workers come from cultures that are radically different from those of western Europe. In some cases, those cultures despise the values that led to the welfare state. The United States will have a chance to watch these events unfold before our own situation becomes as critical, and the sight will be a powerful incentive to avoid going down the same road.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
dk on Twitter: "Fall of paternalistic environment/institutions 4 helping ppl stop procrastinate disproportionately hurt low SES ppl: https://t.co/8EW0R1AkMs https://t.co/9LKnU8kjeb"
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Sustainability | West Hunter
There have been societies that functioned for a long time, thousands of years. They had sustainable demographic patterns. That means that they had enough children to replace themselves – not necessarily in every generation, but over the long haul. But sustainability requires more than that. Long-lived civilizations [ones with cities, literacy, governments, and all that] had a pattern of natural selection that didn’t drastically decrease intelligence – in some cases, one that favored it, at least in some subgroups. There was also ongoing selection against mutational accumulation – which meant that individuals with more genetic load than than average were significantly less likely to survive and reproduce. Basically, this happened through high child mortality, and in some cases by lower fitness in lower socioeconomic classes [starvation]. There was nothing fun about it.

Modern industrialized societies are failing on all three counts. Every population that can make a decent cuckoo clock has below-replacement fertility. The demographic pattern also selects against intelligence, something like one IQ point a generation. And, even if people at every level of intelligence had the same number of children, so that there was no selection against IQ, we would still be getting more and messed up, because there’s not enough selection going on to counter ongoing mutations.

It is possible that some country, or countries, will change in a way that avoids civilizational collapse. I doubt if this will happen by voluntary action. Some sort of technological solution might also arise – but it has to be soon.

Bruce Charlton, Victorian IQ, Episcopalians, military officers:
Again, I don’t believe a word of it. As for the declining rate of innovation, you have to have a really wide-ranging understanding of modern science and technology to have any feeling for what the underlying causes are. I come closer than most, and I probably don’t know enough. You don’t know enough. Let me tell you one thing: if genetic potential IQ for IQ had dropped 1 std, we’d see the end of progress in higher mathematics, and that has not happened at all.

Moreover, the selective trends disfavoring IQ all involve higher education among women and apparently nothing else – a trend which didn’t really get started until much more recently.

Not long enough, nor is dysgenic selection strong enough.

ranting on libertarians:
About 40% of those Americans with credit cards keep a balance on their credit cards and pay ridiculous high interest. But that must be the right decision!
” then that is their decision” – that’s fucking obvious. The question is whether they tend to make decisions that work very well – saying ‘that is their decision” is exactly the kind of crap I was referring to. As for “they probably have it coming” – if I’m smarter than you, which I surely am, using those smarts to rook you in every possible way must be just peachy. In fact, I’ll bet I could manage it even after warning you in advance.

On average, families in this country have paid between 10% and 14% of their income in debt service over the past few decades. That fraction averages considerably higher in low-income families – more like 18%. A quarter of those low income families are putting over 40% of their income into debt service. That’s mostly stuff other than credit-card debt.

Is this Straussian?

Examining Arguments Made by Interest Rate Cap Advocates: https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/peirce_reframing_ch13.pdf

Interest rate caps on $1,000 installment loans, by US state, today and in 1935
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Managerial state - Wikipedia
Managerial state is a concept used in critiquing modern social democracy in Western countries. The term takes a pejorative context as a manifestation of Western decline. Theorists Samuel T. Francis and Paul Gottfried say this is an ongoing regime that remains in power, regardless of what political party holds a majority. Variations include therapeutic managerial state,[1] welfare-warfare state[2] or polite totalitarianism.[3]

Francis, following James Burnham, said that under this historical process, “law is replaced by administrative decree, federalism is replaced by executive autocracy, and a limited government replaced by an unlimited state.”[4] It acts in the name of abstract goals, such as equality or positive rights, and uses its claim of moral superiority, power of taxation and wealth redistribution to keep itself in power.

Samuel Francis argued that the problems of managerial state extend to issues of crime and justice. In 1992, he introduced the word “anarcho-tyranny” into the paleocon vocabulary.[10] He once defined it this way: “we refuse to control real criminals (that's the anarchy) so we control the innocent (that's the tyranny).”[11] Francis argued that this situation extends across the U.S. and Europe. While the government functions normally, violent crime remains a constant, creating a climate of fear (anarchy). He says that “laws that are supposed to protect ordinary citizens against ordinary criminals” routinely go unenforced, even though the state is “perfectly capable” of doing so. While this problem rages on, government elites concentrate their interests on law-abiding citizens. In fact, Middle America winds up on the receiving end of both anarchy and tyranny.[10]



James Burnham’s Managerial Elite: https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/02/james-burnhams-managerial-elite/

James Burnham and The Managerial Revolution / George Orwell: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/james_burnham/

Book Review: James Burnham’s Suicide Of The West: https://www.socialmatter.net/2016/12/19/book-review-suicide-west/

In 1964, a book was published which described the Puritan Hypothesis, the concept of No Enemies to the Left, the Left’s tactical use of the Overton Window, virtue signaling, out-group preference, the nature/nurture debate, the Corporate-Managerial character of liberalism, and the notion of conservatism as nothing but a pale shadow of liberalism. This book was James Burnham’s Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism.

It is one of the latter works of a man made famous by his hypothesis of a Managerial Revolution in the mid-20th century, where the old, bourgeois elites were being displaced by a class of high-verbal IQ specialists, where wealth as a source of status was being replaced with credentialism and political creedalism, and where the accumulation of wealth was becoming a product of political-corporate collaboration and rent-seeking, rather than innovation and production.


According to Burnham, liberalism is “a set of unexamined prejudices and conjoined sentiments[9],” which undergird a post-Christian society and which emerge from the high verbal IQ “opinion-makers” which he defines as, “teachers, publishers, writers, Jewish and Mainline clergy, some Catholic bishops, the Civil Service, and the leaders of the monied Foundations[10].” These sentiments and prejudices are largely unspoken and unacknowledged by the liberals which hold them, but form the foundation of their perception of the world and reality, from their idealistic doctrine of Man’s perfectibility to their moral preference for anyone who is not them.

What this means is that the liberal’s notions are not derived from principles but from instinctive, gut-level reactions to situations which are then rationalized post-facto into the categories of Peace, Justice, Freedom, and Liberty[11]. Trying to understand liberal thought by beginning with these principles is working backward, and theorists who attempt to do this create theories which lack in predictive accuracy; in short, it’s bad science. Predicting that the liberal will pursue egalitarianism flies in the face of the reality that liberals do not care about equality for outgroups like poor whites, divorced men, or Christians suffering religious persecution in Islamic countries. What most accurately predicts liberal behavior is the combination (or possibly merger) of the No Enemies to the Left doctrine and the moral asymmetry doctrine. In any conflict between the “less fortunate” and the “oppressor,” the liberal will either side with the “less fortunate” or explain away any atrocities too great to ignore by denying the moral agency of the group due to “oppression,[12]” always defined in accordance with No Enemies to the Left.


The source of this sentiment and prejudice according to Burnham is the replacement of Christianity in the West by a bastardized Calvinism incapable of dealing with the human problem of guilt and the psychological need for forgiveness. Christianity provides a solution to the problem of guilt in the person of Christ, who forgives sins through his death on the cross in a way that liberalism cannot[14].

Because forgiveness is not available in liberalism, the liberal elevates the problem of personal guilt to the level of the abstract and institution; the concept of the white race, in Burnham’s account, is a liberal invention in order to create a scapegoat for the personal guilt of the liberal. Likewise, the notion of institutional racism is the other fork of this same motion, to rid the liberal of his personal guilt for sin by placing sin at the level of abstraction and society. One function of this abstraction is that it provides an easy way for the liberal to absolve himself of sin by turning his guilty self-hatred against his neighbors and country. The liberal declares that he is not racist because everyone else is the real racist. DR3 was not a conservative invention but an expression from liberalism itself, which began as YouR3 and USAR3 then continued into Western CivR3. This is one of the reasons that, as Vox Day states, SJWs Always Project; the core of their belief system is the projection of their personal sinfulness onto others and onto abstract concepts.


Burnham gives one sliver of hope to a non-liberal future. First, he demonstrates that the various special-interest groups of “less fortunates” are not liberal in any real understanding of the word. These groups, of which he focuses on blacks, Jews, and Catholics, are fundamentally operating at the level of tribal self-interest, to the point of nearly being non-ideological. The “less fortunate” groups are riding liberalism’s moral asymmetry so long as that gravy train holds out and show no evidence of holding any real allegiance to its doctrines. Secondly, he argues that white labor is only superficially liberal and supports the liberal agenda of the Democratic Party only insofar as it provides tangible benefits in the form of higher pay and less hours[16]. Liberalism is a doctrine for the managerial class of the white majority which justifies their prejudices, so it should be no surprise that Burnham believes that blue-collar whites will slowly drift out of liberalism as it becomes increasingly hostile toward their interests.

Why the West Is Suicidal: https://home.isi.org/why-west-suicidal
How do you gauge the health of a civilization? There are geographic and demographic, strategic and economic, social and spiritual measures. By almost all of them, Western civilization appears to be in trouble. Fertility rates in the U.S. and Europe are below replacement levels. America is mired in the longest war in her history—having spent seventeen years in Afghanistan come December—with no glimmer of victory in sight. Indeed, for the West’s greatest military power, one war shades into another in the Middle East: Iraq, ISIS, Syria, Yemen, perhaps soon Iran, none ever quite won.

The West remains rich, but the Great Recession of a decade ago and the sluggish recovery that followed suggest that our prosperity is faltering. Workers and the middle classes fear losing their jobs to automation, immigration, and financial chicanery. The destruction of old party coalitions and the dethronement of liberal elites on both sides of the Atlantic by new congeries of nationalists, populists, and socialists are an index of economic as well as political dissatisfaction. Meanwhile pews continue to empty throughout what was once Christendom. The religious group growing most quickly in the U.S. and Europe are the churchless “nones.”


Burnham wrote in a spirit of hope, not despair: his book was intended as a warning against, and corrective to, the path of Western self-destruction. He was heard in time—or perhaps the West just received an unearned reprieve when Soviet Communism imploded at the end of the 1980s. Today, as a post–Cold War liberal world order underwritten by American power unravels, thoughts of suicide have returned. And like Burnham, another National Review mainstay, Jonah Goldberg, has written a book called Suicide of the West.

Goldberg’s Suicide is subtitled How the Rebirth of Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy. His book is, in some respects, the opposite of Burnham’s earlier Suicide, whose subtitle was An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism. Goldberg can fairly be called a liberal conservative, and his Suicide argues for the preservation of a civilizational patrimony inherited from the Enlightenment. This includes economic liberalism (in the “classical” sense); religious and political pluralism; and faith in democracy, properly understood. Burnham, by contrast, was… [more]
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Mob at Middlebury college attacks speaker Charles Murray, injures his host « Why Evolution Is True

It should have been me, rather than Charles Murray, giving that talk at Middlebury.
Because I would have enjoyed it.
Arguing can be fun, but that’s not what I was thinking of.
Kursk was a warzone, Berkeley is a bunch of people posturing. I was in tougher fights in junior high. Much tougher, in high school.
Greg has a point about Berkeley in particular. A saving grace of today’s radical left is that they’re bad at violence. That’s why there have been relatively few serious injuries despite their rioting.

With time, or if they become leavened with rougher elements of the Democrats’ base, that may change.
“bad at violence” – Marshal Tukhachevsky they’re not.
I’m not sure playing tough guy is actually all that helpful against a mob of guys who mean you harm. Once the numbers get stacked against you badly enough, you’re screwed.
Not if you’re driving a car. Not if you have a .45. More generally, these are students at a liberal arts college, one aimed at kids that aren’t particularly smart. Sure, they might could swarm you – but they are not very good at physical violence. Remember the SDS: when they made bombs, they killed more of their own members than than their targets [Greenwich Village townhouse explosion].

Any kind of physical competence is increasingly looked down upon in the United States, but the trend is especially strong in these circles. As for skills in physical violence – it is to laugh.

Murray is at AEI, and hangs out with that sort of people. Toads. I find that hard to understand.
I was once invited to give a talk at AEI. I decided not to, because I hated their guts. I would be a lot more comfortable giving a talk at a whorehouse or an insane asylum.

jfc this piece

We have our own opinion, but as social scientists we hoped to get a more objective answer. So we transcribed Mr. Murray’s speech and — without indicating who wrote it — sent it to a group of 70 college professors (women and men, of different ranks, at different universities). We asked them to rate the material on a scale from 1 to 9, ranging from very liberal to very conservative, with 5 defined as “middle of the road.” We also offered them a chance to explain why they gave the material the score they did.

American college professors are overwhelmingly liberal. Still, the 57 professors who responded to our request gave Mr. Murray’s talk an average score of 5.05, or “middle of the road.” Some professors said that they judged the speech to be liberal or left-leaning because it addressed issues like poverty and incarceration, or because it discussed social change in terms of economic forces rather than morality. Others suggested that they detected a hint of discontent with the fact that Donald Trump was elected president. No one raised concerns that the material was contentious, dangerous or otherwise worthy of censure.

We also sent the transcript to a group of 70 college professors who were told that the speech was by Mr. Murray. The 44 who responded gave it an average rating of 5.77. That score is significantly more conservative, statistically speaking, than the rating given by the professors unaware of the author’s identity (suggesting that knowing Mr. Murray was the author colored the evaluation of the content). Even still, 5.77 is not too far from “middle of the road.”
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Gummo - Wikipedia
Gummo is a 1997 American dystopian art film written and directed by Harmony Korine, starring Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell, and Chloë Sevigny. The film is set in Xenia, Ohio, a small, poor Midwestern American town that had been previously struck by a devastating tornado. The loose narrative follows several main characters who find odd and destructive ways to pass time, interrupted by vignettes depicting other inhabitants of the town.

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march 2017 by nhaliday
They All Did – spottedtoad
The worsening prospects for low-education American workers over the last 40 years is a hard problem because it is overdetermined. Almost every plausible candidate for a cause of this deterioration has its partisans, and all of them have believable evidence at hand. Immigration, deunionization, “bad trade deals,” automation, low-inflation monetary policy, slowed GDP growth, worsened human capital, regulatory overreach, mass incarceration, cultural changes that make working less attractive, fragmented families, welfare state programs and technology that make not-working tolerable if not enjoyable, government programs and philanthropy dedicated to “fighting” various social ills that instead create vested interests in perpetuating those problems while disrupting civil society that can actually ameliorate them, reduced social trust, cultural fragmentation and diminished sense of national identity, unhealthy lifestyles, an education and credential-based economy that necessarily excludes a huge fraction of the society, a ruling class that despises half the country…

No one wants the real cause to be: all the above.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
It Came Apart: What's Next for a Fractured Culture? - YouTube
Join AEI’s Charles Murray and the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol for a special event as we analyze the rise of Trump and ask what’s next for an American culture and political system that appear to be fractured beyond recognition.

some points by Murray:
- mostly pessimistic, can't think of a good solutions for many trends
- automation going to reward one subset of labor force (computers/IQ)
- going to hit white collar jobs too, eg, lots of law work is pretty routine
- advocates a UBI
- going to be worse for men then women: healthcare, service jobs, social capital, conscientiousness (I think he folded in agreeableness too)
- coming apart, decline in marriage, etc.
- predicts an increase in religiosity ("20th century was anomaly")
- decline in religiosity has been higher in working class then upper-middle [ed.: absolute level still higher, right?]

- if social capital's so bad just replace them? [ed.: inverse weathervanes...]
- ~90% of Trump voters voted for Romney
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Progressive Cities vs. Conservative States - The Atlantic
The dark side of cities: http://theweek.com/articles/689554/dark-side-cities
President Trump often paints Americans cities as either liberal elitist enclaves or crime-ridden hellholes. Meanwhile, cities' defenders praise their flourishing, dense, and diverse communities that thumb their nose at Trumpism.

But defenders of the city also go further: They argue that changing technology and the network effects of density all favor the creativity and innovation of diverse metropolises. In other words, cities are supposed to do better than other places, and everyone who doesn't live in one already should get moving. Cities dominate American society like never before because of what they did right, these promoters say.

But actually, cities succeeded because of what the country did wrong.

A small number of liberal urban clusters certainly do dominate America's economic output. Rates of productivity growth are higher in cities. And over the last few decades, rates of business and job creation during recoveries fell off a cliff in less-dense areas — but held stable in the most dense areas.

Yet the productivity growth rate and the GDP growth rate across the entire national economy slowed to near record lows as cities rose in prominence. Certainly, agglomeration effects and dense innovative cultural milieus have real economic value. But how much value compared to other forces is the question.

More to the point, rates of job and business creation in dense areas held stable as rural areas died. They didn't increase to compensate. Economic vibrancy and opportunity didn't move to the cities. They just drowned everywhere else, while cities became the economy's only remaining life rafts.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Success, Ability, and all that
Better to be Lucky than Good?: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/03/better-to-be-lucky-than-good.html
The arXiv paper below looks at stochastic dynamical models that can transform initial (e.g., Gaussian) talent distributions into power law outcomes (e.g., observed wealth distributions in modern societies). While the models themselves may not be entirely realistic, they illustrate the potentially large role of luck relative to ability in real life outcomes.


Of course, it might be the case that better measurements would uncover a power law distribution of individual talents. But it's far more plausible to me that random fluctuations + nonlinear amplifications transform, over time, normally distributed talents into power law outcomes.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Random Notes | pseudoerasmus : speculation on future of dysgenic fertility
So chances are, as economic growth sails forward, there will be in the future a persistent mismatch in the number of men and women who are employable and gainfully employed. And thus there will also be a persistent mismatch in the number of men and women who could be assortatively mated. Unless women by the millions decide to marry well beneath their status and support lout-husbands, or become single-mothers through various options for reproduction, the fertility of the lower half of the income distribution could drop. Maybe not, but why not?

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january 2017 by nhaliday
Fertility Responses of High-Skilled Native Women to Immigrant Inflows
low-skilled immigration -> cheaper childcare -> higher upper-class fertility

Natives and Migrants in Home Production: The Case of Germany: http://doku.iab.de/discussionpapers/2016/dp2816.pdf

there's also prob a case to be made that whatever social stigma there was preventing market forces from pushing women into work... was good

not necessarily a contradiction imo. capital relentlessly seeks factor price equalization, needs strong culture/authority to resist such

Policies, such as the minimum wage, that affect the cost of marketization, have a large [negative] effect on the fertility and labor supply of high income women.

Is the Market Pronatalist? Inequality, Differential Fertility, and Growth Revisited: https://www.tau.ac.il/~davidweiss/BHLWZ_October_2017.pdf

Figure 1: Fertility by Income Decile 1980 & 2010. Authors calculations using Census and American Community Survey Data. See Appendix A for more details.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
The emptiness of life will save us from mass unemployment | pseudoerasmus
I don’t I have much to add to the debate about the dystopian robot future scenario envisioned by many people. But I do think the nightmare scenario is less mass unemployment than a kind of revamped neo-mediaevalism. I’m not predicting that, so much as saying that’s the worst-case scenario. {Edit 28/12/2016: This was written more than 2 years ago as a half-joke to mock trends in luxury consumption more than anything else.}
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december 2016 by nhaliday
Rolling Stones – spottedtoad
I’m not 100% convinced that dads make a huge difference to their kid’s individual development; there are of course reasonable arguments on either side. But I’ve become convinced that the end of married fatherhood is a hugely politically and socially destabilizing force, and that the particular form of the married family was deeply important to both the rise of capitalism and the gradual expansion of liberty where and when it occurred. There are multiple reasons to doubt Deirdre McCloskey’s sanguine conclusion that The Great Enrichment of capitalist wealth and political equality will expand to every corner of the globe, but this seems like one of the important ones.

THERE ARE TWO AMERICAS…: https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/there-are-two-americas/
…with almost wholly separate life histories:

Age Women Have Children by Marital Status: First Births 2016

Now for some good news (of a sort). Changes in family structure for kids have largely ground to a halt.
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december 2016 by nhaliday
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