Friday, June 16, 2017

2018: Will the fact-users strike back? Why we need... colonels.

Out of this year’s sickening political news-maelstrom — with one party seeming inept and the other insane — what keeps hope beating in my chest? The thought that mere ineptitude can sometimes change. Indeed, there are early signs! I’ll get to that. But first, a basic question:

What strategy should reasonable, fact-using Americans take up — politically — across the next two years?  Democrats, the fact-focused professions, people of calm goodwill and their moderate allies must choose. They can do either sumo or judo*

Indicators suggest that Democrats, at least, intend to continue going chest-to-chest, grunting and shoving with Republicans across the same-old polemical divides. Angry activists on the Democratic Party’s left demand that the same notions be proclaimed, just a whole lot more forcefully. If so, and assuming that swing voters do grow sick of the Trumpites — (as suggested in trends measured by 538) — then Democrats might “win” the 2018 mid-term elections, retaking the House and even the Senate by thin margins. A small improvement that will nevertheless leave us in perpetual gridlock.

That condition of stalemate has endured since at least 1995, destroying all memory of ancient virtues like “deliberation” or “adult negotiation.” And make no mistake: gridlock has always been the principal aim of Rupert Murdoch and the GOP lords. A narrow Democratic 2018 win will mean crushing defeat for the republic.

If our aim is to leap past gridlock — to end this latest phase of the American Civil War — then far more vigorous methods are called for, resembling judo, not sumo. Use your opponent's momentum against him. Swerve around his expectations.  

While pessimists bemoan that Democrats are mercurial, today's Republican Party is the most tightly disciplined political force in U.S. history — with its “never negotiate” Hastert Rule fiercely enforced by both Fox News and Tea Party activists. Alas, liberals are like cats, impossible to organize. That is, unless you are a miracle-worker, like California’s Jerry Brown.

Indeed, pundits write of a looming civil war within the Democratic Party, between radical (“Bernite”) activists and their old, moderate bêtes noirs, sometimes called Clintonian 'blue dogs.' Others laud the ferocity of Sanders supporters

But the real issue is this: can Democrats avoid internal fights and make a broad, united front, taking this campaign deep into Donald Trump’s America?

Vigorous initiatives are underway that aim for a more judo-like approach. She Should Run is one of several national organizations encouraging women and girls of all backgrounds to aspire to public leadership and contend for office.  

And 314 Action is a campaign to recruit scientists - yes, actual scientists, over 400 so far - to run against the most toxic, anti-science legislators. (Here’s how to donate - as little at $3.14 - to electing more folks who actually know stuff.) 

Again, as Donald Trump continues to sully the GOP brand, hopes rise. Democrats need to win 24 seats to retake the House, a challenge that appeared insurmountable months ago but seems less so with each passing day. “Even Senior House Republicans Are at Risk in 2018,” read a headline in the Cook Political Report, a sign of how serious Republican woes are becoming.

But let me reply, yet again, that such a narrow win will only be a slightly-different colored calamity for the Republic, and for civilization.  Instead of 24 seats, the aim should be 124! Plus toppling Breitbart-parroting fanatics from at least half of the state assemblies and governorships where they now govern so execrably.

== How to win such a broad-front campaign? ==

Consider that:

1- The right's coalition depends on many forms of cheating, from gerrymandering and voter suppression all the way to highly suspect voting machines that are deliberately made impossible to audit. (And recent tales of Russian meddling in such machines only raise more suspicion.) But it is worth noting that these methods, though effective, are brittle. One Supreme Court decision could send the edifice crashing. 

Even better, if just ten million sane-sincere American conservatives can be drawn out of the Republican tent, then GOP demographics - already fragile - will collapse. Those sane, decent, intelligent conservative neighbors already know their traditional "side" has gone mad. Desperate to justify continued loyalty, they stay glued to Fox News, gulping down anecdotes about screaming Berkeley protesters while murmuring the mantra spread by Sean Hannity and George F. Will: 

"Liberals are even worse! Liberals are even worse! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Liberals are even worse!”

Sorry, Bernie-bros, those ten million desperately-needed sane conservatives won’t be wooed out of that carnival show by shouting progressive nostrums at them.

They might be swayed by meeting democrats who share some of their values -- the healthier ones -- while coaxing them to put aside toxic memes. 

Hold that thought.

2- Only fools seek the death of American Conservatism -- rather than salvation from its current bedlam. It can happen! Before they passed away, both Barry Goldwater and Billy Graham recanted the excuses they had made for earlier bigotry. Adaptability, in the face of evidence, used to be an American hallmark — and yes, a feature of grownup conservatives. 

We must make clear that folks like Adam Smith, Dwight Eisenhower and indeed Ronald Reagan would be welcome at the negotiating table, so long as they argue with facts, not lies. 

Some conservative intellectuals are finally making the hard choice between love of nation+civilization, on the one hand, versus a party that’s gone insane. David Brooks and Jennifer Rubin are among the former, while the Worst American — George Will — continues moaning that Trumpism betrays, rather than reifies, the trends that Will himself helped propel. The former should be welcomed. As for the latter —

— sharp polemical stakes must stab the undead-elephant that hijacked U.S. conservatism. For example: why did the recent Republican National Convention mention only one prominent GOP leader between Reagan and Ryan? No governor, president or senator — so ashamed are they of their record at governance.

And democrats, absurdly, never once mentioned that.

3- Confront a bald fact: of the 238 House seats now held by Republicans, and several thousand in state assemblies, only a few dozen are "swing", or conceivably accessible by a liberal politician. In those thirty or so teetering districts, activists are welcome to put forward their beloved Bernie or Elizabeth or Maxine-types, go for it! 

But the rest of those districts are represented by conservatives because that is the temperament of the district’s voting majority. 

Sure, let’s fight for impartial districting and to demolish other cheats. Still, if a district is inherently conservative, then send in sane, logical, fact-loving and grownup conservatives to challenge the (mostly) loony, illogical, science-hating and flaming-immature incumbents!  Why should that be objectionable? Moreover, let’s stop waiting for local conservatives to generate their own primary challengers to alt-right maniacs. Take this fight to the general.

Try a thought experiment: Suppose the democratic candidate in a reddish district supports a woman's access to full health care and wants background checks on gun sales; in that case, does it really matter if he also likes country music and goes target shooting? 

If she's compassionate and not paranoid about "dreamers" who came to this country as children, and wants to ease us out of the insane War on Drugs, can you put up with her support for a strong military that is stuck in fewer overseas quagmires? 

If the candidate we put up for a GOP 'safe' seat respects science and journalism and teaching and medicine and thinks we should save the planet for our kids, will you forgive his crewcut and erect posture?

Note: in the recent Montana congressional by-election, democratic candidate Rob Quist combined good-old-boy styles with science-support and appreciation for civil rights. He was outspent 5 to 1 by Republican Greg Gianforte, and still came closer to winning than any Democrat in decades. And this despite both candidates sporting some questionable baggage. Observers are calling this GOP win a screaming danger sign for the Republican Party.

Which brings up our concluding point:

4- Colonels. What we need is lots and lots of retired U.S. Army and Marine colonels and U.S. Navy captains. There are thousands of them out there. A great many are offended and fed up with the Republican Party's current insanity, its open warfare against every single fact-centered profession, its deceit, betrayals and utterly perfect record of bad governance.  

The thing to remember about senior military officers is that they notice facts and outcomes! They have to. Like the way Russia is building 12 new naval and marine bases ringing the fast-melting Arctic Sea, with blatant intent to make it theirs. Climate denialism is a clear and present danger to the United States of America.  

And so is the Republican Party - in its current (mad) incarnation. More and more military folk can see this.

== We’ve seen this can work ==

In my own congressional district, California's 49th, the infamous right winger Darrell Issa just had the scare of his political life, when retired U.S. Marine Colonel Doug Applegate took him on, in a contest that ran so close we didn't know the results for a month. And this happened despite Issa (the richest man in Congress, it is said) waging a scurrilous media tsunami of misleading advertising. 

How did Doug do it? By bringing his mix of liberal and moderate positions before this largely conservative constituency with both calm logic and the stern mien of a senior officer. A marine with a ramrod spine, he got attention from Republican voters who had never before, in their lives, actually listened to a Democrat.

Can this near miracle be enhanced and amplified, across the nation? Will Democrats be able to recruit great numbers of retired officers, many of whom spent large swathes of lifespan as Republicans?

Here we have allies, not just in Donald Trump, who seems bent on offending the U.S. military officer corps, but the entire confederate madness that has hijacked the American right. For example, he U.S. military led the way in American desegregation and it sees no benefit, only great harm, coming from a spuming rise of bigotry. 

Senior officers know that our power derives in large part from scientific advancement, in which America has been the leader. And hence, the mad right’s all-out assault on science is an existential threat. Moreover they know that the right’s latest, paranoid rhetorical salvo — attacking a so-called “Deep State” of conniving officers and civil servants — is aimed directly at them.  

Next time, in Part Two, I’ll discuss the basic, psychological, social and political reasons why this approach is the best way to take the fight far beyond normal “swing” districts, boldly invading the very heart of a madness that has hijacked both American conservatism and the country that we love.

Recruitment of retired officers should start right away, if not yesterday, if not last year! These men and women swore to defend our country against foreign enemies. 

It’s time to call them back into service against the domestic variety — those who would blind and bind our mighty, brilliant, scientific nation and use hot needles of radical dogma to lobotomize the last, best hope of humankind.

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

Addendum:
 Stephen Colbert's riff of mature solidarity - after the DC shootings - was moving and apropos. It was also an ultimate geek-out,  when he said: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent"  ...   a line penned by Isaac Asimov, in the novel Foundation. (It's an aphorism spoken by the first mayor of Terminus, Salvor Hardin.) 

Stephen must have known that it will puzzle a majority of his viewers. Yet, he stuck to applying the wisdom of his true tribe. This nod to science fictional wisdom proves, yet again, he is 'one of us.' An American above all. But also a citizen of wonder.


======

======

See  an earlier judo proposal I made, for short straw Democrats to exploit - rather than exacerbate - Donald Trump's character flaws.


113 comments:

David Dorais said...

PLEASE David, make a point of contacting the people running Brand New Congress, Our Revolution and the new Sanders Institute asking them to read (and heed) your series here.

Zepp Jamieson said...

There is one element missing from your description of how Democrats can win in 2014. Since the Democrats already incorporate many of your suggestions, especially in purple - violet districts, it's where the element is really apparent, as Democrats keep losing.
You have to give voters something to fight for. We have lots of Democrats who approach with campaigns with a shy "Really, I'm just a Republican light. You, um don't mind if I run, do you?"
Democrats lose because Republicans cheat, because of the Russians and far-right propaganda machines, gerrymandering, voter purges, all of that.
But they also lose because they're too proud to fight. They keep letting the Republicans get away with this shit, and worse, they still let Republicans control the narrative. Social Security isn't "an entitlement"--it's a fucking RIGHT earned by people who worked hard all their lives. A livable wage isn't just a government giveaway, and it doesn't burden business: but it is absolutely necessary for a wealth and powerful economy. Democrats need to fight for the things that matter most to people, and not cow and say, "Well, maybe $12 an hour is enough," or "I would question our involvment in Syria or Iran, but I don't want to look unpatriotic."
They need, above all, as individual candidates, stand for something, no not measure their conviction against the hue of their district. It isn't enough to pander to the already converted; you need to persuade those who disagree that what you offer is, in fact a better way.

locumranch said...



I interact regularly with legal adults whose choose to ignore reasoned medical advice. This 'choice' does NOT make them infants, nor does it necessarily doom them to ill-health, certain death & adverse outcome, even when such choices do increase their probability of sustaining an adverse income.

At NO time, however, do I belittle them as 'children', nor do I accuse them of treasonous crimes against themselves & humanity, because they are ADULTS who are allowed to CHOOSE their own life course & actions, even when I consider those choices to be unreasonable, ill-advised & unscientific.

It follows that our most progressive & scientific friend David may disapprove of the choices that US conservatives make, but he must acknowledge that those ill-advised choices are theirs to make because of their status as LEGAL ADULTS.

David now insists, however, that those conservative adults who CHOOSE to vote & live in an 'unscientific' & ill-advised manner somehow forfeit their political majority, becoming as children worthy of subjection to a tyrannical Military Officer Corps acting 'in loco parentis'.

This is despicable, undemocratic & potentially TREASONOUS position for him to take, his proposed over-throw of the US Constitution & its associated documents, making him no better than the oligarchs & feudalists who he openly despises.

As he proposes nothing less than insurrection, he has forfeited my 'Best' until he recants this monstrously insupportable position.

______

From the last thread:

I greatly admire Alfred for his attempt to estimate early vs delayed monetary costs of climate change interventions, the problem being that such an estimate assumes monetary parity between today's monies & future monies, despite the non-comparable nature of trans-temporal monetary units.

If we so choose, we can try to compare monetary value over time, contrasting the value of the US dollar from 1917 to 2017, through the usage of a 'CPI Inflation calculator', giving an estimate that 1 USD (circa 1917) is now worth 21 modern US dollars, but such comparisons are extremely misleading because the possessor of 1917 monies could not hope to purchase the temporally specific items of 2017 (cellphones; computers) & vice versa.

The same problem occurs with minimum wage discussions, the false assumption being that the value of occupation-specific labour units remains fixed over time, independent of the temporal specificity of supply & demand.

Assuming a Supply & Demand economy, an oversupply (supply >> demand) of any product reduces its monetary value, whereas an undersupply (demand >> supply) increases its monetary value, regardless of historical precedence, so no trans-temporal monetary parity can be said to exist.

This especially true for consumer products, university graduates, cheese burgers, astrophysicists, carbon tariffs & climate change mitigation efforts, so much so that we cannot assume monetary parity (and/or 'cost savings') when we compare today's monetary expenditures to future expenditure estimates.

Monetary Value is all about CURRENCY. It's value exists only in 'The Present Time', as the term 'currency' is definitional, which means that we cannot assume that our current monies will have any comparable futurological value.

donzelion said...

"Democrats might “win” the 2018 mid-term elections, retaking the House and even the Senate by thin margins."
Maps, scientific processes, and dirty tricks say that is a tall order. Odds are extremely stacked against Democrats. But we may pick up a few seats, esp. in California, where Trump's agenda will hit hard.

My district is already represented by a decent Democrat; your colonel is a 90 min drive away. I'll go across the street to help either a pediatrician or a chemistry professor instead.

Trump is unpopular nationally, but if media fixates exclusively on Trump, he'll shield local representatives from closer scrutiny, making it hard for anyone to get to know the opposition candidates except through mailers and half-truths foisted by entrenched, well-funded win-at-any-cost elites.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "Looks to me like you are saying you are willing to do a little harm to the lowest paid people in order to prevent a bigger harm. Is that close?"

Yep (begrudgingly). And acknowledging that is why I'm not a politician. The political thing to say is, "nobody will ever be harmed by my plan, unless the enemy mucks things up!" But I am a realist.

"My solution of choice is to educate the prey, but I see no reason why both tracks can’t be worked simultaneously."
My preferred solution as well, BUT education is trickier than one thinks: the biggest value of education is not what you learn, but who you meet along the way. Excelling at calculus at State College makes less of a difference than mediocrity at 'elite' schools. The more elitist the elites grow, the harder for even well-educated folks from public schools to penetrate (save a handful of 'tokens').

Still, education and minimum wage hikes are substantially better solutions than the 'pitch fork remedy.' ;-)

donzelion said...

Alfred (stepping back another post): I was being facetious about putting aside $20 trillion, but just throwing some numbers to revisit starting assumptions on what something is worth.

"If insurers do what I think they will do in an environment where we do NOT promise to bail them out, I suspect capital owners of sea-side property will have to devote a bit more of their savings toward preservation"
I am less optimistic. Far cheaper to disguise solvency and shift the costs onto others. Insurers are very good at it. In the era when they, and bonds, were 'not' bailed out, the remedy was often wars, starvation rounds, and mass immigration when the financiers got it wrong. Bailouts were about limiting those sorts of error (and ultimately, reducing the proclivity toward violent solutions).

"I have a preference for letting those forces work, but I hear you and your concerns about fraud."
Fraud is one obvious form of cost-shifting, but the category of behaviors I'm concerned with are significantly broader. The key development, legally speaking, that followed the Renaissance through the Enlightenment was the theory that "costs should be borne by he who may most easily/cheaply avoid them" (the previous rule, "costs are borne by he God puts them upon"). This norm challenged the feudalists, who grew fat and secure by persistently imposing costs for their luxuries upon the serfs/slaves they controlled (or soldiers they commanded). Anything that upset their established expectations of revenue shifted power from their hands to the 'common man.'

Your investment story is a 'normal risk' of any venture. The sort of cost shifting I'm describing is the purview only of the largest (because, I suspect, your venture was not really intended for cost shifting at all).

"Regarding transparency cowboys, I think you underestimate the amateurs."
Perhaps, but I do not expect the cowboys to be angels or demons, simply people who gotta pay the mortgage. In such a world, whoever sets mortgage rates - and however they're set - will ultimately find no shortage of cowboys on their side.

But I will look up Burke's series if I can find it.

"I suspect we DO need to put some money into climate change prevention, but I’m inclined to tap the savings we already reserve rather than force more. One exception, though, is I AM willing to support a fossil carbon tax to put a price on an otherwise negative externality."
Then we have ample space of agreement upon which to start.

Kal Kallevig said...

Alfred

There is no reason to believe we can’t pick up some of what we do and escape to other land further inland.

For one meter in the US you may be partly right. But that one meter is global. How will you insure this? For example, Impact of sea level rise in Bangladesh

BTW, I liked Burke's series a lot also.

LarryHart said...

I just heard a story from my wife's high school days. Apparently, she was bullied by two boys for an extended period until she got a big, muscular girlfriend to come with her and beat the shit out of the guy in his own front yard. After that, the problem went away.

Point being, while "violence is not the answer" is great in theory, in practice, it requires certain offenders themselves to back off without requiring a violent response. In some practical cases, especially in dealing with bullies, violence turns out to really be the answer, in the sense that nothing else works, and violence does work. Does anyone really think that violence against ISIS is unwarranted. Or against Hitler in WWII?

When we in the United States say of an internal matter that violence is never the answer, we have to mean that our society hasn't degenerated to the point where violence is the only answer. I agree that we're not there yet, but I think we're as dangerously close to the verge as we've ever been in my almost-60 years on earth. Each of us can decide whether that degeneration is more because of liberal rhetoric or Republican arrogance. You know where I stand.

That's not a mere intellectual exercise. The bullies responsible for the breakdown of civility are the ones who have to make the first move in not doing that any more. They
can't be the ones demanding a unilateral disarmament from their victims. Life doesn't work that way.

David Brin said...

David D I have no contacts at those orgs and have no time to make cold calls. I hope this message will reach them by word of mouth.

Zepp, I agree that it is time to take the gloves off. There are SO MANY memes and talking points that I’d recommend, like the blatant fact that Adam Smith would be a democrat and every single metric of competitive enterprise, entrepreneurship and economic growth all do vastly better under democrats, all the time and every single time. OUTCOMES! I despair that candidates do not simply compare outcomes:

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

locum is slightly more cogent this time, and my response is polite. It is - go ahead and smoke and act stupidly in your own home. But when your stupidity is then pushed and forced upon the rest of us, sickening our children, threatening our planet, poisoning our environs, wrecking our economy, restoring brutal feudalism and savaging science… and you refuse to negotiate or listen to our complaints and then CHEAT to ensure that civilized processes cannot thwart you imposing your insanities on us…?

Then your doctor patient metaphor is out the window. It is criminal attempted murder. It is war. It is insanity and treason. And mealy mouth comparisons don’t change that.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | My medical choices have a limited possible impact range. The people closest to me are screwed if I don't take them into account and make unselfish choices. That's not the case on the political stage where votes create winner-takes-all outcomes. The whole point of democratic choice IS to choose a path forward that many would not prefer, but they will accept if they consider the technique used to be valid. For my medical choices to be like that, I'd have to put them up for a vote and accept the outcome of a fair vote. Ain't gonna happen.

You are comparing apples and oranges.

As for your perspective on money, it is a tad naive. I was in a similar position not long ago. McCloskey disabused me of it. However, I don't expect we will get to the future without a number of black swans arriving. Some may be damaging, but some might make this or that worry moot. Black swans DO make it difficult to compare costs. For example, if we trip across a technique to build Robin Hanson's ems before the end of the century (unlikely I think), it would be awful silly to spend now to avoid a problem later. Of course, we can't know if we will do it... or not... so we should consider all the scenarios we can imagine. It's not as if we don't have enough intelligent people to do it.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "The bullies responsible for the breakdown of civility are the ones who have to make the first move in not doing that any more."

If only that were going to happen. More likely, the non-bullies band together and put a stop to the behavior of the bullies. Your wife's solution during her high school days - unite with a friend - is the only realistic one in the face of bullies. When Thomas Hobbes proposed a theory of governance that could be paraphrased 'Victims of bullies lay down their guns to bring in a bigger, badder 'friend' able to crush any bully' - he laid a foundation that directly led to Adam Smith, John Locke, and Western political theory.

Alfred's nightmare (and ultimately every libertarian's nightmare, though perhaps not every Libertarian's) is that the government, intended to protect us from bullies, becomes their vehicle for oppression. I acknowledge this can happen, and would be A nightmare. But I also have seen what happens in the complete absence of governance, not only a nightmare, but a predictable and recurring one. Feudalism persisted thousands of years to address THAT nightmare, and is certainly an improvement. But we can do better still.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I wasn't thinking about teaching calculus. I was thinking more about statistics. Imagine the impact if a larger percentage of the voting public could parse the crap they are fed by politicians and employers. 8)

I have an old story of an employer who wanted me to calculate the average resolution rate of a certain kind of task. I delivered the mean and the standard deviation and got a very confused look from the recipient. What is this sigma thing? Well... I'm glad you asked. I lost the battle that time, but I learned a thing or two about management and fought it again later with different people. Dude! It's about quality! Heh. 8)

Ultimately, though, I was thinking more about entrepreneurship than I was about formal educations. When you have personal experience in creating jobs, you look at unemployment protection policies in a different way. They become about protecting the unlucky. Protecting victims is a different set of policies.

"costs should be borne by he who may most easily/cheaply avoid them"

I've heard that version and consider it a beautiful example of incoherent actions. I doubt there was a single soul on Earth who thought that idea in advance while thinking it was a good idea for something other than an attempt to shift costs. It describes how things have turned out for many of us and is at the heart of the positive sum nature of our markets. Back then, though, no one truly believed we were doing anything that wasn't zero-sum at best... hence mercantilism at the start of the revolution.

As for Burke's first series, the last episode focuses upon what options we have in a world of technologies we don't necessarily like and might actually despise. Consider Big Brother owning all the computers because only a few big players owned the patents and copyrights and they bought the government. It's a dark episode that ends with an upbeat suggestion to say what we want. What he couldn't see, though, was the nerds who were already stealing UNIX out from under AT&T. Nobody could see that except for a small group involved in the act. it changed everything, though. Utterly. I came across my first Linux/GNU zealot in '93 and he showed me what they were up to. Yowza. The parallels between their community and the science community were very obvious and not even slightly surprising once their motives were laid bare. That they would wind up shaping the landscape was never in doubt for me after that.

So, what group of amateurs are we not noticing today? There is an awful lot of them now that they are all connected and paying essentially nothing to coordinate actions that would have been cost prohibitive a generation ago. OMG.

Alfred Differ said...

I know a few minarchists and a couple of anarchists. I find them to be naive.

Humans will organize. It's what we do.

(Do I have to pay that insurance company to say that nowadays?) 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Thank you Larry. I don't want to advocate violence. It's just that I recognize some will turn it it when they feel it is necessary and I find it difficult to argue that they shouldn't. I get tired when people offer crazy economic projections that don't take into account the potential for human violence as a method of preventing the scenario. Reminding people of this possibility makes ME sound like the crazy one who wants blood to flow in the street, but sometimes it has to be said.

People who often feel victimized WILL turn to criminal techniques to even the score. I have stories from my grandparents on my mother's side of how it is done. it starts with theft and then escalates.

Feudalists don't run a positive sum game. They don't even run a zero sum game. Once some of us turn to the dark side, it is a negative sum game that spirals down into misery and blood.

Alfred Differ said...

@Kal | I suggesting encouraging them to get rich as quickly as possible. They are playing an economic catch up game. According to the stats, they started to take the game seriously in the late 90's. Is that when all the new fiber was laid down? Did they join the global market more completely around then? They can manage the enrichment on their own if we treat them like they can.

See for yourself. 8)

http://www.gapminder.org/tools/#_locale_id=en;&state_marker_select@_geo=bgd&trailStartTime=1800;&_geo=ind&trailStartTime=1800;;;;&chart-type=bubbles

Jumper said...

"People who often feel victimized WILL turn to criminal techniques to even the score."
Even tax evaders!

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"The bullies responsible for the breakdown of civility are the ones who have to make the first move in not doing that any more."

If only that were going to happen. More likely, the non-bullies band together and put a stop to the behavior of the bullies. Your wife's solution during her high school days - unite with a friend - is the only realistic one in the face of bullies.


My point above was not that the good guys should preemptively initiate violence, but that actual bullies tend to persist in the face of all negotiations until violence erupts back against them, and then they tend to back off. In their case, violence not only is the answer, but seems to be the only answer.

So in order for us to be a society in which "violence is never the answer", the bullies among us bear some responsibility for not pushing things that far. And they're currently failing miserably at it.

(It might help to know that I'm in the middle of re-reading "A Tale of Two Cities", and have just reached the storming of the Bastille.)


Alfred's nightmare (and ultimately every libertarian's nightmare, though perhaps not every Libertarian's) is that the government, intended to protect us from bullies, becomes their vehicle for oppression. I acknowledge this can happen, and would be A nightmare. But I also have seen what happens in the complete absence of governance, not only a nightmare, but a predictable and recurring one. Feudalism persisted thousands of years to address THAT nightmare, and is certainly an improvement. But we can do better still.


I understand the concern that government can become a bully. What I don't understand from libertarians--let alone Libertarians--is the total lack of concern that corporations and wealthy families can also become bullies. If the response is that corporations and wealthy families can't use armed coercion, then the person making that argument hasn't been paying attention.

LarryHart said...

following up on violence...

The reason that I prefer the ideal of "violence is not the answer" is because violence as a tactic is arbitrary. Once we accept violence, we're admitting that might makes right. In my wife's teenage example above, she was fortunate to have had a muscular girl as a friend. I'm retroactively glad it worked out that way, but it could just as easily have been the other way around. The bully getting his comeuppance was a kind of justice, but the fact that it was able to happen that way was pure happenstance. That's no way to run a railroad.

Putting it that way reminds me of a 1970s "Captain America" comic book in which a nihilist villainess calling herself the Viper murders the old Viper for no better reason than she wants to use his super-villain name. As she's getting rid of the body, she opines, "You stood in my way, and since I held the weapon, you died. Had it been the other way 'round, I would be lying in the dirt. There is no meaning here, only happenstance."

We rail against violence as a legitimate answer because we don't want to live in a society where happenstance determines the course of events. Realizing that desire, however, requires buy-in from those most able to threaten others not to push them to a situation where the arbitratiness of rough justice is no longer the main concern. There's probably a psychohistorical equation that explains the fact that social systems tend to eventually swing toward the smug and arrogant forcing society to beat them back down before civilized norms can be restored. Which explains why the tree of liberty has to be watered with the blood of patriots*.

* I don't think Jefferson's phrase means what people who use it in modern times think it means. The "patriots" are the ones resisting tyranny, not the tyrants themselves. So the phrase is not a call for shooting bad guys, but a call for standing up to the bad guys despite the risk that you will be shot.

TCB said...

THe Jefferson letter in question:

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith

Paris Nov. 13. 1787.
the people can not be all, & always, well informed. the part which is wrong [. . .] will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. we have had 13. states independant 11. years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure.

----------------------

As we see, Jefferson said "the blood of patriots AND tyrants". Agree or disagree, Jefferson does call for shooting back at tyrants.

phann son said...

"People who often feel victimized WILL turn to criminal techniques to even the score."
Even tax evaders!


goldenslot

Tim Wolter said...

Nothing to object to in today's posting, although many of the ideas are not new.

A Dem retake of the House is certainly possible. Senate is less likely but we live in times where all the conventional wisdom has been disproven, so the lopsided D vs R seats up for election may not be an insurmountable hill to climb.

What you are really talking about is winning over the moderate center. I would add a couiple more points as one who is in said center.

Apparently politicians of all stripe fear being "primaried" more than just about anything else. If nothing else it makes them actually work....and take actual stands on things. It is a disgrace that so many of our congressional elections have no plausible contest at either the primary or general level, but at least at the primary level it is possible.

So you should be supporting moderate R candidates in far right districts. Its only a baby step past what you are proposing, but itis the big one. Make deep red legislators stand up and debate their positions. Get them out in the open. In places where a D has no chance of winning support a centrist Republican.

Also, and I hesitate to mention it, D candidates need to develop considerable back bone on social issues. As a Party the D's continue to chose the wrong stands to dig in and defend. With due respect, and mindful of what people will think of this I will say that issues like transgender bathrooms and immigration from places that lack the rule of law will not win you elections. These issues are important to the few and deal breakers for the many.

I see less lock step behaviour from the current congress than you do. Many R's don't care for Trump one bit. The need to pull back the first ACA repeal is a good example of there simply not being enough votes despite the "numbers'.

T.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Unfortunately, most voters think Adam Smith was a linebacker for the Packers.
But DO tell them Smith's ideas, and they they exemplify what America is all about. Smith understood America was for the people, and not the corporations or the bloody churches. And he explained why this is a good thing. They'll get that.

Tim H. said...

Tim Wolter, if the liberal wing of the GOP can come back, that works nearly as well for me as Democrats winning. Please reconsider the notion that LGBT rights are ballot box poison, if that's what you meant, those people are just trying to get by, and those rights should be considered a sort of social libertarianism. Tim H.

Tim Wolter said...

Tim H
You err in generalizing from the specific. People just trying to get by deserve the support of all. Its when one set of rights conflicts with another that there is political tension.
The political center of which I speak has no issue with LGBT individuals doing their own thing.
But in any case I am just trying to give helpful advice. I have limited expectations on it being well recieved.
T.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

As we see, Jefferson said "the blood of patriots AND tyrants". Agree or disagree, Jefferson does call for shooting back at tyrants.


We're not disagreeing. In a war, there will be death on both sides. My point was that there is personal risk involved, and that Jefferson was warning that taking that risk that it will be your blood spilled is a necessary condition for preserving liberty.

What I was disagreeing with is that people who wear the "blood of patriots" slogan on their t-shirts (usually without the "and tyrants") seem to think it means:

* Shoot first at political opponents about anything you don't like
* Your opponents will be the only casualties

Thomas Jefferson:

we have had 13. states independant 11. years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state.


If Jefferson said that, then Jefferson is an ass. :)

Seriously, isn't that a lot like expecting nine women to give birth in a month?

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

"People who often feel victimized WILL turn to criminal techniques to even the score."

Even tax evaders!


Even Donald Trump.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

So you should be supporting moderate R candidates in far right districts. Its only a baby step past what you are proposing, but itis the big one. Make deep red legislators stand up and debate their positions. Get them out in the open. In places where a D has no chance of winning support a centrist Republican.


I agree with this. It's long past due that the threat of being "primaryied" necessarily pulls politicians to their party's most extreme. "Primarying" from the center is probably a necessary step back toward sanity.


Also, and I hesitate to mention it, D candidates need to develop considerable back bone on social issues. As a Party the D's continue to chose the wrong stands to dig in and defend. With due respect, and mindful of what people will think of this I will say that issues like transgender bathrooms and immigration from places that lack the rule of law will not win you elections. These issues are important to the few and deal breakers for the many.


I'm also not disagreeing here. Well, not in spirit anyway. I'd say Republicans made transgender bathrooms into a fight--maybe Democrats are guilty of taking the bait. "Immigration from places that lack the rule of law"? Aren't those exactly the places we want to let people escape from?

Well, I'll be the opposing voice on some of your specific examples, but I a with you on the spirit of what you said. Democrats do need to go back to standing for people on issues that matter to the many. Republicans have become the party of the few (the wealthy few, that is) and left most of the voters they've made suckers of behind. Democrats need to show those people that Democratic policies really are in their interest.

The problem comes with those Republican voters whose main issue is white Christianist supremacy. They'd vote for Satan against a Democrat, and there's no way the Democratic Party is going to win over their support. Nor should they be expected to.


I see less lock step behaviour from the current congress than you do. Many R's don't care for Trump one bit. The need to pull back the first ACA repeal is a good example of there simply not being enough votes despite the "numbers'.


Hmmmm, the first ACA repeal was indeed defeated, but the second one seems likely to succeed and exactly on the basis of "lockstep behavior". The rank and file Senators aren't even being shown the bill--they'll just be told to vote for it for the good of the party, and they will. The ones who defeated the first repeal--and who are not inclined to join with the other--are the so-called Freedom Caucus. They are rewarded for this behavior by the leadership demanding that the rest of the party vote for what they will accept in order to preserve the lock-steppedness.

What you are correctly perceiving is that the Republican congress is not taking their orders from Trump. Ryan and McConnell are in charge. And they're demanding the policies their donors want, and the bulk of their own voters be damned. That's not the way our government is supposed to work.

Midboss57 said...

With all due respect to our host, I beg to differ on his stance on getting the reasonable conservatives to switch democrats as a strategy to win. That triangulation to the centre strategy is what has been bleeding left wing parties all around the west. Democrats have been loosing posts in all levels of government, same for Labour in the UK and it even killed the Parti Socialiste in France.

The notion of safe seats for either side of the political divide is complete and utter nonsense. If there is one lesson that can be learned from last week's election in the UK it is that anything can happen, any territory can switch, and victory can come from the jaws of defeat. But to do that, I don't want to scare our politicians out there, but you are going to have to go out and earn each and everyone of those votes. That involves campaigning everywhere, no matter how unlikely victory might seem, defending everyone of your positions without reserve, engaging with not only the political active but also all those who gave up on politics, it involves taking positions that your potential voters want but your financial suppliers might dislike. It involves showing the courage to not back down against the Murdoch press, the financial lobbies and the form over function members of your own team. In other words, it involves EFFORT and the occasional show of courage.

I don't dispute that an alliance between the centre and the left can beat the far right. But things have changed now. Centrists, Blue Dogs, Blairites or whatever they want to call themselves, they are now the JUNIOR partner of such a coalition. They need to accept that fact, even if it hurts their egos and involves leaving their comfort zones.

locumranch said...



An attack on the maturity, majority & voting rights of one adult is an attack on the maturity, majority & voting rights of every adult, much in the same way that the protections that you desire must be afforded to those who disagree with you.

Quite graciously, David offers US conservatives the right to "smoke and act stupidly in your own home", and the conservative returns the favour by granting the US progressive the right to perpetuate their respective stupidities within THEIR own homes, while simultaneously forbidding them from "imposing your insanities on us".

Assuming 'reciprocity', what is 'good for the goose is good for the gander' and turnabout (which represents 'fair play') is to be expected.

Until recently, however, the US progressive has thwarted the attempts of the US conservative to invoke State Rights, violate the federal sovereignty clause,'Go Their Only Way or "act stupidly in your own home", until the US conservative returned that very favour by electing Trump & a conservative government, leading the US progressive to wail, gnash their teeth & scream 'Unfair! Unfair!'.

Now, the US progressive has repudiated the Reciprocity Principle.

Jerry Brown, the treasonous Governor of California, has become a recent supporter of 'State Rights'. He asserts the California is (in effect) a separate nation; he argues California's right to self-determination; he rejects federal law in regards to illegal immigration & climate change; he declares his state a 'sanctuary' from federal influence; he allies California with a like-minded 'confederacy' of other seditious US States; and he commits treason by negotiating directly with China & other foreign nations in defiance of federal authority.

He forgets the 'What comes around, goes around", goose-to-gander & 'turnabout is fair play' principle of Reciprocity, and his chit (account) is coming due.

Reciprocity, reciprocity, your actions have come true;
Reciprocity, reciprocity, your account is overdue.


Best

locumranch said...


@Alfred: Those who argue that fiat currencies have 'objective value' should try shopping in Venezuela, only after they allow me to pay my tab with rescinded Italian lire, Greek drachmas & Confederate dollars.

;)

Arizsun Ahola said...

locumranch,

Gold and silver have little more intrinsic value than does the dollar, euro, pound or yen. All of these things have the value they do because almost all of us agree to give them that value.

Fiat currencies also have the advantage of being able to be grown with an economy instead of creating monetary deflation based on an inelastic supply that is unable to be expanded at the rate the economy is growing. Deflation will kill an economy faster than hyperinflation, and we're not seeing even the desired levels of inflation.

LarryHart said...

Arizsun Ahola:

Gold and silver have little more intrinsic value than does the dollar, euro, pound or yen. All of these things have the value they do because almost all of us agree to give them that value.


Gold and silver seem more objectively valuable because they're generally accepted as having trade value across socio-political lines. But as far as that goes, the US dollar has been remarkably resilient in that regard as well. I was predicting the fall of the dollar for years before I finally changed my mind. It just doesn't happen.

You are correct that any notion of "objective value" is illusory. Just try eating a planeload of gold when you crash land on a deserted island.

Lorraine said...

Oh noez! The money cranks have arrived!

locumranch said...



Arisun_A & Larry_H are both correct. Currency is 'Representational', having little or no objective value in & of itself, serving as a 'stand-in' (an IOU, actually) for items like chickens, cabbages, clothing, automobiles & other barter items too inconvenient to carry around in your pocket for trade purposes.

And, like other 'I owe you' promissory notes, the relative value of modern currency depends on (1) the immediate availability of the desired barter items and (2) the solvency & honour of the institution that issues said promissory note.

Says the insincere IOU issuer, "You won't accept my dishonest promise of repayment as 'legal tender' for these barter items?".

"No worries then", says the monetary fraud, "I possess a near infinite supply of similarly worthless IOUs -- I print them by the lorry load -- How many promissory notes do you desire in exchange for the barter item I desire?"


Best

David Brin said...


“I see less lock step behaviour from the current congress than you do. Many R's don't care for Trump one bit. “

Like George Will, they intensely dislike the fact that DT has taken their craziness to new heights so blatant that they risk Ostrich Republicans actually lifting their heads out of holes of denial and admitting that US conservatism veered off course with Rupert Murdoch at the tiller.

Midboss said. : “With all due respect to our host, I beg to differ on his stance on getting the reasonable conservatives to switch democrats as a strategy to win. That triangulation to the centre strategy is what has been bleeding left wing parties…”

And thus - with all due respect - Midboss reveals that he did not understand my proposal, even slightly. Again, you only destroy an enemy by invading his territory. No one is asking Bernites to go to the center. Do your own thing and proclaim leftist agendas, wherever you think that has a chance to work. But your approach means conceding, from the start, 208 out of 238 GOP held House seats as unwinnable and never contesting at all the 38 states where the capitols are pits of Tea Party mania.

The notion that the left wing of the DP would scream at and reject refugees from that madness who are seeking a comfortable place withing a bigger liberal-moderate-sane-peoples’ tent, is simply proof that that left wing contains our own, home grown maniacs.

“An attack on the maturity, majority & voting rights of one adult is an attack on the maturity, majority & voting rights of every adult, much in the same way that the protections that you desire must be afforded to those who disagree with you.”

Exactly. So why have you been doing exactly that, screeching and dehumanizing and cheating and hating a majority of your fellow citizens for years? Openly declaring them to be evil and unworthy of negotiation? You nut case Fox-swill swallowers started this. You are the ones who forced the Union side to accept that it is war.

When we win, it will be “charity for all” and renewed offers of negotiation. Your confed- dominionist lunacy would crush us, end science, doom our children and declare us damned to hell.

David Brin said...

To be clear, it is typical for non-sapient humans to assume that their adversaries are like what they see in the mirror.

We... are... not... like... you.

Deuxglass said...

In France, we are having some very interesting developments on the political side that are till now, unprecedented in the post-war era. In the first round of legislative elections, Marcron’s party “En Marche” has literally swept away the two main parties. The Socialist Party used to have 284 deputies out of 577 in parliament but only 65 made the first cut this time around. The second round should cut that down to between 15 and 40. Most of the party leadership was eliminated. The Républicains did better than the Parti Socialiste but still they risk to fall under 100 deputies. Macron’s party made the cut in 437 out of 577 of seats. It is an amazing feat for a party that is hardly a year old. My hat’s off to Macron.
The turnout was very low but that doesn’t change the fact that the electorate massively abandoned the parties that they had supported I the past. This should strike fear into the heart of the other parties in Europe and that the same thing could and probably will happen to them and that there is little they can do about it. Being in an established party is no longer an advantage but a handicap in this new world because you are tied in the mind of the electors to the political elites’ collective failings. In France what just happened is that the voters decided to throw the bums out and start all over with new parliamentarians of which 85% have no experience in politics whatsoever!
Perhaps that is the way to go. Relying on the old established parties to suddenly get it together and start governing effectively looks to be a lost cause. States dominated by the Republicans aren’t doing that well but states dominated by the Democrats have not done much better if at all. California has been governed by the Democrats for such a long time that it should be heaven on Earth but it isn’t. I was looking through the US census data from 2015. In the report they calculated the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) which takes into account all transfer payments and rent levels and I found to my surprise that California has the highest poverty rate in the Nation at 20.6%. Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are well below. Why isn’t California doing better and with results like that why some there present themselves up as the model of the highest civilization on the planet? I like California and have traveled all over it. It is a fantastic state but I wonder why the Democrats in charge haven’t done better that that and they can’t blame it on the Republicans.
If you want to browse through it the link is here: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-258.pdf

Depending on one party or the other to save you is an illusion these days. With the French election we could be seeing something new. It’s an election where ¾ of the career politicians will lose their jobs. The old political power networks will be destroyed. We don’t know what will be put up in its place but it would be hard to do worse. It is perhaps the first revolution by the center, of those who reject the old party politics and who feel that those parties are the problem and not the solution they pretended to be.

David Brin said...

Deuxglass thanks for the update. I had wondered if Macron's new party featured experienced folks who defected from the old parties. Apparently not! Tell us, are the new people activists? civic leaders... technocrats?

I do take issue with your aspersions on California, which is doing spectacularly well. The latest budget invests in science and education and health and sustainables... WHILE pouring billions into Jerry Brown's reserve fund. Unemployment is at 4.7% and hence a figure that any European country would envy, especially France. And this despite: (1) California having to absorb floods of both immigrants and the homeless, who pour in because it's a great place. (2) having raised the minimum wage yet again.

California is so far ahead of its own ambitious energy targets that the legislature had to scurry and adjust them, bringing forward the goals for 50% sustainables and 100% sustainables by TEN years, each. Natural gas power plants which were built to wean us off coal power are now shutting down because they cannot compete with wind and solar. (To be fair, this is happening in Fossil Texas, too, but not through their own efforts. Private firms and cities are doing it, despite GOP obstruction.)

Governors of Texas etc keep coming to CA and proclaiming "move out of this high-tax state! Come to us!" Some companies do... and lose their best employees. And California generates five startups for every departure.

Oh, there will be pendulum swings... softened by Brown's fiscal prudence. And who knows if his successor will have his brilliance. One hopes that he has trained a generation of new, sensibly liberal and pragmatically visionary leaders. In some happy parallel world, he is president.

In this one, Jerry is President-in-exile, and treated that way by countless foreign leaders, when they want to talk to American grownups.

Midboss57 said...

David Brin said
And thus - with all due respect - Midboss reveals that he did not understand my proposal, even slightly. Again, you only destroy an enemy by invading his territory. No one is asking Bernites to go to the center. Do your own thing and proclaim leftist agendas, wherever you think that has a chance to work. But your approach means conceding, from the start, 208 out of 238 GOP held House seats as unwinnable and never contesting at all the 38 states where the capitols are pits of Tea Party mania.

I think there's a mutual misunderstanding in what we're trying to say to each other. I wasn't arguing against getting sane conservatives to switch sides. The behaviour I am attacking is one of sacrificing your core positions in order to do so, a process which alienates many of your former voters who will then not see the point of picking your side over the other if both intend to sacrifice their interests.

I do apologize for misunderstanding your position. Years of having my political beliefs viciously attacked by not only the Murdoch Media, but also the Blairite wing has made me a bit over sensitive to perceived attacks on the economic left. While I know you are sincere in your belief of attracting the sane conservatives for adult political negotiations, your position has sadly often been used as an excuse by politicians to avoid doing any actions that might make lobbyists unhappy. Once again sorry if I sounded sour.

However, one point I will continue disputing is that there are so places that can only be won by veering centre/right. There might be a few, but you would be be surprised how many votes are in for left wing policies if you can convince those that gave up in disgust on politics that you are listening to them (truly listening to them) and will not drop them the second there is a bit of resistance from vested interests. Nearly everyone made the same claim about the UK, and predicted the "loony leftist" Corbyn was going to cause a wipout for Labour like Clegg did for the Lib Dems. The exact opposite happened and now conservatives are on the ropes in the UK.

And for the record, I'm actually centrist, not a lefty. Angela Merkel is actually the world leader I respect the most. I'm merely on the side of the left because in the Anglosphere, electing the left wing is the only way to get a centrist outcome.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I understand the concern that government can become a bully. What I don't understand from libertarians--let alone Libertarians--is the total lack of concern that corporations and wealthy families can also become bullies."

That, my friend, is a sign of capture, and the ultimate problem of 'libertarian' organizing of all stripes: they know not who they serve or why, and deny that they serve anyone but an ideal. Libertarians (big L, little 'l') have been well-warned about the possible risk of a government run amok by monsters. Yet aside from our host, who raises the bigger threat of capture by feudalism? Meanwhile, romance and nostalgia exempt the caste most responsible for exploitation from critique - fixating instead upon the 'horror' of political correctness and civility (and anything that might regulate or disturb their opportunities to bully and exploit.

Yet the libertarian critique is a humbling, powerful, and worthy one for consideration. It is a tragedy that it's adherents have learned to distrust the side predisposed to listen and respond honestly, and instead, trust the side that seeks to capture and exploit them. 'Don't tread on me' indeed....

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

The “En Marche” candidates are way different from the deputies in the Assemblée Nationale. First of all 51% are women. Also they overwhelmingly come from the private sector and generally either are in management or other highly intellectual professions such as lawyers and doctors. One third of them own their own company. Very many of them attended Sciences Po which is a French “Grande Ecole”. Some have been active in politics in the right and the left but at low levels and far from leadership roles. I know of one well-known mathematician who is running on the ticket. H Cédric Villanie and is director of the l'institut Henri-Poincaré and a very flamboyant dresser. He describes himself as neither left nor right. By the way he won the Fields Medal in 2010.

The fact that the private sector is so overrepresented this time is important because traditionally about two-thirds of deputies have come from the public sector because of a quirky law. In France, if you work for the government and are elected to the Assemblée, you don’t have to leave your job. It just goes into limbo and when voted out of office you get it back with accrued seniority. There was no risk in running for office for them as opposed to those in the private sector. I hope and expect the new Assembée to get rid of that stupid law.

I know California has put in some very good policies that I agree with, nevertheless the high poverty rate is showing that the wealth is not trickling down. Why is that?

donzelion said...

Deuxglass: "...I found to my surprise that California has the highest poverty rate in the Nation at 20.6%."

More Californians pay more for less housing than darn near any other state in the country.
Property values are so out of whack compared to available incomes that they actually create 'poverty' - the price of housing falls out of reach for a larger share of our population than just about anywhere else in the country (NYC is worse, but much of NY state is significantly better, so on balance...).

"Why isn’t California doing better..."?
(1) Minimum wages enacted last year are barely starting to take effect.
(2) Look closer at the corridors of extreme poverty in California: they are all in deeply 'Red' territory (where dynasties held sway that became models for how to do it in Mississippi, Alabama, etc.).
(3) As in Mississippi, Alabama, etc., you'll find local feudal lords in California, holding court through a network of churches, social organizations, and small/large businesses that all depend upon a pool of cheap laborers. In those states, such folks dominate state government. Here, they're just one voice among many.

Californians more than anyone in America know both the possibilities and the problems with a 'strip mall' / 'mall/developer' style of housing - because i/t's a model, like McDonalds itself, we created. Californians are more intimately acquainted with immigration - and the possibilities for both pernicious exploitation AND wondrous experimentation - because folks from NY/Boston/Miami/China/Japan/Mexico immigrate here to experiment.

"why some there present themselves up as the model of the highest civilization on the planet?"
Not as a 'model' for civilization to adopt - but as a laboratory, offering endless experimentation with results that are worth considering. McDonalds and Silicon Valley are California experiments.

But most of our experiments come from observing the world: Europe has nearly free, universal higher ed: how close could we come? Europe has free universal health care, how close could we come? One effect of our experiments: property values skyrocketed, faster than incomes. Generating poverty. Particularly in regions where our less pleasant experiments resulted in uglier outcomes and the proto-fiefdoms that were also quickly discovered and reconstructed throughout, for example, the South.

David Brin said...

Deuxglass, thanks. Most enlightening! I would guess that En Marche will trigger strikes by adjusting labor laws… unless they can simultaneously negotiate higher taxes on the rich.

California attracts floods of the homeless and hopeful, every year. Even with a booming economy, it is very hard to keep up when the poor keep coming.

=======

Midboss: “I think there's a mutual misunderstanding in what we're trying to say to each other. I wasn't arguing against getting sane conservatives to switch sides. The behaviour I am attacking is one of sacrificing your core positions in order to do so…”

Sir, you are attacking a strawman of your own hallucination. No reasonable person - and no blue dog - is demanding Bernites abandon their goals. Only that they help to NOT ONLY elect your fellow leftists…

…but to CHANGE THE RANGE OF OPPONENTS THEY’LL BE ARGUING WITH.

Try, oh try, to envision a nation in which my program has shattered the Murdochian confederacy. Red America, still conservative by temperament, is now represented by scads of grownups who respect women and science, want a healthy planet and children, and refuse to let oligarchs vampire us…. yet they irritate you with ‘moderation’ on gun control and transgender bathrooms. Oh, the horrors! Bernites will be vexed by having to negotiate with decent adults who disagree with them about this or that detail!

The solution is to offer help in the Bernites’ running in swing districts, if they’ll help the Big Invasion.

David Brin said...

donzelion and Deuxglass... back in the 1980s I lived in Europe, and the US and especially CA were vastly ahead in university access, environmental laws, everything. Europe has done a terrific job in most categories... not unemployment and not racial tolerance. But we forget where they learned it all.

donzelion said...

Locum: the 'insanities' progressives threaten them with - desegregation, disrupting feudal holdings - are 'freedoms' conservative puppet masters want to defend. They cannot be explicit, so they invent new threats constantly. War on Christmas! Dishonoring veterans! Political correctness is crushing your freedom! Obama is a Muslim! Global warming is a hoax! Evolution is the anti-Christ at work, Hillary Clinton its abortionist handmaiden! Fight them before they turn your husband/wife queer and infect them with Hollywood morality!

"the conservative returns the favour by granting the US progressive the right to perpetuate their respective stupidities within THEIR own homes, while simultaneously forbidding them from "imposing your insanities on us".
The difference: progressives want to remove a lash wielded by conservatives on specific targets of bullying. Conservatives want to hold the lash. Or better yet, firearms.

Look through Trump's 'achievements' - move them to the real world, and you'll see a series of decisions to empower one group to ppress another.

Justice removed guidance on LGBTQ protections! Yay, now folks can discriminate against gays again! Sorry, had to cancel that contract with you to deliver services I promised, you're GAY, and I have a religious right to break my promise!

DHS removes guidance on prosecuting criminal immigrants - yay, now husbands can beat up their wives, and if they complain to the police, have them deported (as in Texas 2 months ago, true story). Hurrah! And if any of those house cleaners or dishwashers complain over wage theft, hahahaha...

"[Jerry Brown] rejects federal law in regards to illegal immigration"
In Texas, a husband beats his wife, she turns to the police, and that husband has her deported from the courthouse. California does not tolerate such games. Because Texas wants to engage in them, O LOOK! Democrats hate police! War on Christmas! They're comin' fer yer guns!

Locum doesn't know what he opposes, or what he serves. As with most members of the Confed army, he wants to fight 'Yankee oppression' - and refuses to do the math that indicates that the only oppression is limiting the ability for slaveowners to move slaves into new territory. As with most Republicans, he wants medicine, but refuses to follow the science that makes evolution the explanation for much of biology. As with many in mainstream America, he finds the LGBTQ world 'weird' and unsettling - but doesn't want to go and beat them up, or empower others to do so.

As with most Confeds, rather than ask 'what am I fighting for' he revels in the victories of his generals, and mocks the lack of comparable achievements in his adversaries leadership. But the Union may indeed find a few colonels worth promoting...

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :


On Friday, Gingrich took his hypocrisy to new heights, announcing his (remarkable) conclusion that, "the President of the United States cannot obstruct justice." This would be the same man who led the movement to impeach Bill Clinton on the exact same charge.


donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "back in the 1980s I lived in Europe, and the US and especially CA were vastly ahead in university access, environmental laws, everything."

I see very different Californias. San Diego County experimentation with high end health/defense/IT work contrasts with San Bernardino County experimentation with low end food/construction/shipping services. Hundreds of thousands of San Bernardino County residents would dream of baseline services comparable with those enjoyed by rural French.

We are no 'model' for the world to emulate: we are a laboratory, for people with good faith to explore and consider seriously. If California excelled in anything, it is in ensuring new experiments may proceed, for good or ill. Neither the left nor the right may block it.

California is effective in one thing though parts of America, and perhaps the rest of the world, might consider: in the South, decades of failure by local lords could be blamed on 'outsider exploitation' - the more the local lords actually failed, the deeper their power became entrenched, the better they became at inventing phantoms to blame for anything bad that remained unfixed. In California, one is only as good as one's next experiment: past successes or failures mean little.

locumranch said...



Don't let David fool you, Deuxglass.

According to the Guardian, California is a Slave State that exploits prison labour for economic benefit:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/22/inside-us-prison-strike-labor-protest

It's economy relies on illegal alien labour in direct & indirect fashion. Illegal immigrants make up nearly 10% of the state's workforce, dilute labour union bargaining power, force wages artificially low and contribute $130 billion annually to Californian GDP:

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-new-immigrants-california-economy-20140903-story.html

Tech Giants like Google, Apple & Microsoft abuse the H1B Visa System to screw over US tech workers, while reducing corporate salary expenditures by more than 50%:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/silicon-valley-h1b-visas-hurt-tech-workers/

California impoverishes its middle class with the highest tax rates, housing costs & living expenses in the nation & forces them (the middle class) to subsidise generous social programs for the benefit of competing foreign labour, pushing a beleaguered middle class further & further into poverty:

https://www.thebalance.com/california-state-taxes-amongst-the-highest-in-the-nation-3193244

http://www.scpr.org/news/2017/02/08/68882/california-housing-shortage-puts-the-squeeze-on-mi/

California has become a Vast Company Store built on the backs of the poor.

Not yet, but very soon, it will become indistinguishable from that Shining Beacon of Blue Urban Prosperity called New York, New York, where HALF the population is reduced to abject poverty in the service of a few progressive millionaires:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/nyc-poverty_n_5240355.html


Oooweee !! Us ignorant Red States sure want to emulate that economic miracle !!!


Best

LarryHart said...

So....

I keep hearing about how the Republicans almost have enough states on board to call for a new constitutional convention, and how they're hot to eliminate separation of church and state and enshrine gay-bashing into the new constitution. Maybe even bring back chattel slavery.

Now, I somehow doubt that 38 states are actually going to ratify such items if considered individually. BUT, what are the chances that the drafting of a new Constitution would follow the practice being instituted with health care--drawn up in secret and voted on before anyone reads it. Just "Are you in favor of the Republican Constitution or not--yes or no?"

Seriously, I never in my life thought I'd have to worry about having an escape plan from the United States of America. But unexpected and unprecedented has become the new normal this year.

David Brin said...

jibber jabber wagga-wagga... it doesn't matter to the fool that not a single thing he said is true. California has a balanced budget with surplus pouring into its wise reserve fund. The best universities, state colleges and community colleges in the nation. HALF of the nation's entrepreneurship! Produces between a quarter and a third of its food!

And people are welcome to flee this hell on Earth. Instead, they flood in, overwhelming even our better-than-average schools and services. While red states are caught in a bind. Those that invest in universities and californian methods get influxes of bright people who are turning states like Virginia and N. Carolina purple. Those that go troglodyte - Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, the Dakotas, etc are bleeding arterial gushers of both cash and their brightest youths.

Taxes are a bit higher on the middle, and our very involved citizenry VOTED for it! Taxes are high on the rich... and guess what... They stay, fool. They stay here. Where the action is. But do jibber-jabber on!

Duke said...

By the way, Billy Graham is still alive, although no longer a public presence due to illness and very old age - 98. This is in regard to the statement "Before they passed away, both Barry Goldwater and Billy Graham recanted the excuses they had made for earlier bigotry."

Deuxglass said...

donzelion,

I looked at your three points and I found you are wrong in each one.

1) High and rising real estate costs engender high and rising rents. If salaries do not keep up the result is less and less cash in the pocket for renters. It is not an abstraction but a real cost that makes the poor poorer and shoves the near-poor into poverty. The minimum wage increases are tied to inflation and not to increases in rent or real estate prices. The extra money will probably go into the pockets of the landlords and not go much to reduce poverty.

2) You didn’t do your homework when you claim that the areas of deep poverty are in Red territory. In reality the counties with the highest poverty rates are Los Angeles (25.6%), Orange (21.5%), San Diego (20.8%), Santa Barbara (25.4%), Santa Cruz (23.5%), Monterey (22.5%) and San Francisco (21.9%). Last I looked these are Blue areas. The coast area has the most population by far but also have the highest proportion of their inhabitants living in extreme poverty and in regular poverty. In general the Red areas, although not fabulous, have less poverty.

California uses a variation of the SPM so you can check their figures here:

http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=261
http://inequality.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/CPM_Brief_Poverty-Deep-Poverty_0.pdf

The paper from the Public Policy Institute of California also adds that one in five Californians are just above the poverty line and together with the official poor concludes that 40% of Californians are either poor or near poor. That is a scary statistic especially since real estate is rising there.

3)These terrible figures are in no way the cause of a “feudal lord” network that controls local government unless you want to define California democrats as evil feudal lords which they are not. Nor can you blame the immigrants because other states with heavy immigration such as Texas have much lower poverty rates.

Before I looked into it I had the impression that California was doing better in poverty than most others. It was a shock when I found that it was doing the worst in this most important metric. I am not sure the reason why but I would hazard to guess that California is overpopulated now and that as real estate continues to rise more and more Californians will be pushed into poverty.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Deuxglass/donzelion

How do you measure "poverty" - is it just a ratio of median income? or is it a measure of what it takes to live?

Deuxglass said...

Duncan,

The official method used by California to define poverty can be found here:

http://inequality.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/CPM_2012_appendices.pdf

It's a complicated and exhaustive process and not just an off-the-cuff formula. California's definition is just slightly different than the one used by the US government and gives quasi-identical results.

Deuxglass said...

Locum,

Thank you for the links but I am looking for California-specific reasons and your links gave events that happened in California but are not specific to that state. Prison labor exists in both Blue and Red states. High illegal immigration exists in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico yet their poverty rates are much lower. Abuse of the H1B visa occurs in other states as well. Several states have high taxes as well but manage to have lower poverty.

You cannot knock California for doing something that all the other states do. I am searching for reasons why it has the worst poverty level and although I don’t live there, I wonder if this phenomenon can spread to other parts of the country. It’s a though experiment for me.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

1- The right's coalition depends on many forms of cheating, from gerrymandering and voter suppression all the way to highly suspect voting machines that are deliberately made impossible to audit. (And recent tales of Russian meddling in such machines only raise more suspicion.) But it is worth noting that these methods, though effective, are brittle. One Supreme Court decision could send the edifice crashing.


And one Constitutional Convention could make the cheating bullet-proof even as Republican demographics die off. How many states might ratify a "This is a white, Christian nation" clause in the new Constitution? My dark suspicion in the middle of the night is "all of them".

locumranch said...



Argumentum ad populum.

(The Red States) are bleeding arterial gushers of both cash and their brightest youths (who) flood in (to blue urban areas on the promise of) better-than-average schools, services, economic opportunity, excitement & romantic opportunity.

What they find is over-priced education, exaggerated living expenses, crushing debt, financial exploitation, wage slavery, a life of poverty for 40 to 50% of city dwellers, impersonal hookups & functional sterility.

This story is as old as Aesop. David plays the part of the Town Mouse who brags about urban culture, comforts, wealth & opportunity but is blind to urban drawbacks, whereas I play the part of the Country Mouse who prefers to live in peace.

http://www.aesopfables.com/cgi/aesop1.cgi?4&TheTownMouseandtheCountryMouse


Best

Deuxglass said...

For comparison with other states poverty rates: United States average: 15.1%

Alabama: 17.6% Alaska: 10.4% Arizona: 18.8% Arkansas: 14.4% California: 20.6% Colorado: 11.2% Connecticut: 12.8% Delaware: 12.1% District of Columbia: 22.2% Florida: 19% Georgia: 16.8% Hawaii: 16.8% Idaho: 10.8% Illinois: 13.7%
Indiana: 12.4% Iowa: 10.5% Kansas: 9.9% Kentucky: 16% Louisiana: 17.9%
Maine: 10.2% Maryland: 14.3% Massachusetts: 15.1% Michigan: 12% Minnesota 9.1% Mississippi: 17% Missouri: 11.6% Montana: 9.8% Nebraska: 9.1% Nevada: 17%
New Hampshire: 8.7% New Jersey: 15.1% New Mexico: 17.1% New York: 17.9%
North Carolina: 13.9% North Dakota: 10.3% Ohio: 12.2% Oklahoma: 13.8%
Oregon: 13.4% Pennsylvania: 12.6% Rhode Island: 11.7% South Carolina: 16.3%
South Dakota: 10.2% Tennessee: 15.5% Texas: 14.9% Utah: 10.2% Vermont: 8.8% Virginia: 13.3% Washington: 11.8% West Virginia: 14.8% Wisconsin: 11.8%
Wyoming: 10.1%

*source https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-258.pdf

Looking at these figures i would conclude that prosperity or lack of depends less on the party in power than we think. In my experience when someone says that everybody knows that X is true, when I look into the original sources I often find the opposite is true. It’s not that are purposely being false. It more that what they believe was true in the past but is no longer the case. They are using old data.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

In my experience when someone says that everybody knows that X is true, when I look into the original sources I often find the opposite is true. It’s not that are purposely being false. It more that what they believe was true in the past but is no longer the case. They are using old data.


Exhibit A is the "everyone knows it's true" references to the liberal bias of the mainstream media. It was probably true before 1978 or so. Not so much now.

I don't know how many here have read "The Grapes of Wrath", which concerns the Okie migration to California in the dust-bowl years of the 1930s. We see a very different California in that era. The California authorities are the ones making sure that migrants don't become citizens or make demands about higher wages. They arrest dissidents and trump up fake charges without batting an eye. The federal camp is the safe space where California can't interfere.

The book also makes the point in expository narration that Californians are suspicious of migrants who might "want it more" taking over their state, having themselves done the same thing to the earlier Mexican residents.

LarryHart said...

Ok, enough gloom and doom for today. I'm spending the rest of it with the family.

Happy Father's Day, one and all to whom the greeting is appropriate.

locumranch said...



Some more data for you, Deuxglass:

https://www.census.gov/newsroom/blogs/random-samplings/2016/12/a_comparison_of_rura.html

"About 13.3 percent of people in rural areas lived in families with incomes below the official poverty thresholds. The poverty rate for people in urban areas was 16.0 percent. Income inequality, as measured by the Gini index, was lower for rural households than urban households."

""Across all four regions, poverty rates were consistently lower for those living in rural areas than for those living in urban areas, with the largest differences in the Midwest and Northeast."

"Among the states, 42 had higher poverty rates among people living in urban areas than those living in rural areas. Conversely, in seven states, people in rural areas had higher poverty rates. In one state (South Dakota), poverty rates for urban and rural residents were not statistically different from each other."


Best

David Brin said...

Aha! He took his vitamins: "David plays the part of the Town Mouse who brags about urban culture, comforts, wealth & opportunity but is blind to urban drawbacks, whereas I play the part of the Country Mouse who prefers to live in peace."

Attaboy! An actual argument that was cleverly parsed and that bore at least some overlap with objective reality!

Oh, but enjoy the obesity, hypertension, domestic violence etc that belie the image.... still, way above average fellah!

Lorraine said...

donzelion: (3) As in Mississippi, Alabama, etc., you'll find local feudal lords in California, holding court through a network of churches, social organizations, and small/large businesses that all depend upon a pool of cheap laborers. In those states, such folks dominate state government. Here, they're just one voice among many.

Sounds oddly reminiscent of an old movie starring Chuck Norris set in a (fictitious?) place called "Texas City" (strongly implied to be Texas City, California). I take it that could pass as a true story? Seemed somehow too extreme to believe.

donzelion said...

Deuxglass: "I looked at your three points and I found you are wrong in each one."

Hmmm...I thought I'd agreed with you that rising real estate costs was a problem, so how was I wrong there?

"2) You didn’t do your homework when you claim that the areas of deep poverty are in Red territory."
Look past the 2016 elections, and I can walk you through it neighborhood by neighborhood, because I've walked many of those neighborhoods myself.

But first, a word on SPM poverty rates. Historically, the 'official poverty rate' was used to determine allocations of government assistance - and on that measure, California, at 15% compares with Texas at 16.1, Florida at 16.0, and NY at 15.4. For some, but not all, government assistance, the SPM rate is used. The SPM is an alternate measure of poverty; the Official Rate is the standard term. Guess who wanted to make the shift?

Both are important and meaningful, and your ultimate point - large swathes of Californians just cannot afford housing - is entirely accurate.

"The coast area has the most population by far but also have the highest proportion of their inhabitants living in extreme poverty and in regular poverty."
Indeed. A person earning $40k is 'poor' in LA, but middle class in San Bernardino: hence, hundreds of thousands of such people relocate - residing in San Bernardino, working in LA. The poorest cannot buy a house elsewhere, or get necessary services, so they remain and try to make do.

"40% of Californians are either poor or near poor. That is a scary statistic especially since real estate is rising there."
The Official Rate is 15%, the SPM rate is 20%, so I'm not sure where you got that from. These are alternative indexes, not "15% + 20% = 35%" (please re-read that section of the census that sets this out).

But even 20% is too high. Hence, a person earning $20k in LA deserves federal assistance more than a person earning $20k in Mississippi.

"3)These terrible figures are in no way the cause of a “feudal lord” network that controls local government unless you want to define California democrats as evil feudal lords which they are not."
If you knew how Reagan and Nixon (and many other Californians) took their power, you'd reconsider that view. While some California Democrats are as bad as any Republican, you'd need to move past 2016, and back to the 1970s to understand the full story here. That will take more than 4096 characters.

"Nor can you blame the immigrants because other states with heavy immigration such as Texas have much lower poverty rates."
I do not 'blame' immigrants for anything - BUT immigration does magnify highs and lows and does concentrate both poverty and wealth.

Yet my point is that California is a test bed for fascinating experiments. We err. We correct our errors. We do not reward errors with prolonged power and the ability to block further experiments. Indeed, that's one reason why migrants flowed from those regions here.

donzelion said...

Lorraine: "Sounds oddly reminiscent of an old movie starring Chuck Norris set in a (fictitious?) place called "Texas City" (strongly implied to be Texas City, California). I take it that could pass as a true story? Seemed somehow too extreme to believe."

Not sure which Chuck Norris movie that would be. Norris, the person, did graduate high school in California, where he also made his initial name and money, after his mother migrated here from Oklahoma.

In terms of films that got parts of the dynamic 'right,' "There Will Be Blood, "Citizen Kane," and "Chinatown" come closer, each drawing some inspiration from actual history, but retelling it into something quite distinct (who really cares about the scam that enriched folks in Chinatown? It's all about the 'incestuous' love interest Faye Dunaway...

donzelion said...

Back to Deuxglass...re the Public Policy Institute numbers of 40% at or near poverty level: I don't actually question them. At least 40% of Californians cannot afford housing in California without help. California led the way in hiding diminishing real incomes behind 'household income' 40 years ago (as if we had anything to do with that theough policy), and now multiple income stream households (a factor in NYC that is difficult to measure).

The problems here are huge, the solutions offered tenuous, and much of the efforts, easily reversed.

Dr. Brin sings our state's praises; I'm too deeply connected with our failures to see that side alone.

But I can walk you through poverty at work in most of the state, particularly endemic, persistent poverty. And the red right hand behind it here is subtle, but real. People forget what came before Jerry Brown, and the work that has been put into place, slowly and surely to cure what has long been broken. LA riots never reached those neighborhoods most guilty of setting up barrios and slums. There is no easy solution, only struggle.

But there are so many intriguing experiments, and where else can one remake the world from one's garage?

LarryHart said...

From "A Tale of Two Cities", which could be torn from today's headlines:

-> Far and wide lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but
-> desolation. Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade
-> of grain, was as shriveled and poor as the miserable people.
-> Everything was bowed down, dejected, oppressed, and broken.
-> Habitations, fences, domesticated animals, men, women,
-> children, and the soil that bore them--all worn out.
->
-> Monseigneur (often a most worthy individual gentleman) was a
-> national blessing, gave a chivalrous tone to things, was a
-> polite example of a luxurious and shining life, and a great
-> deal more of equal purpose; nevertheless Monseigneur as a class
-> had, somehow or other, brought things to this. Strange that
-> Creation, designed expressly for Monseigneur, should be so soon
-> wrung dry and squeezed out! There must be something
-> short-sighted in the eternal arrangements surely! Thus it
-> was, however; and the last drop of blood having been extracted
-> from the flints, and the last screw of the rack having been
-> turned so often that its purchase crumbled, and it now turned
-> and turned with nothing to bite, Monseigneur began to run away
-> from a phenomenon so low and unaccountable.

Tony Fisk said...

This may not be the post for this, but it segues into David's contention that the brain is a lot more complex than standard singularitarians tend to think.
So, the next time you accuse someone of 'one dimensional thinking', be aware you are *really* being harsh!

Darrell E said...

David (Dr. Brin),

Thought you might enjoy this video clip of a very touching scene of Dr. Jane Goodall releasing a rehabilitated chimp back into the wild. Giving that your Uplift series are some of my all time favorite science fiction, I immediately thought of you when I saw it. Brought a tear to my eye. It's one of those things that can give one hope that maybe we will survive after all, and that maybe we do have it within us to achieve that better society we all dream of some day.

donzelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catfish N. Cod said...

Yes, my significant other is a hopefully temporary refugee from those usurious costs of living in the sunny state of California. And there is blame to go about, a blame I saw firsthand myself in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (God save it!). The name of the blame is "NIMBYism", a specific case of a more general problem:

The protection of one species of property over the evolution of a different species of property more conducive to the general welfare.

The efficient causes (see, I can do Greek philosophy too!) of NIMBYism, as well as of fossil fuel partisanship and protectionism of inefficient industries, are all of this type. Having procured property, be it real estate or mineral rights or human capital, the owners naturally want to use their political power to protect its value. This includes manipulation of public policy and of markets to retain value even when a reduction of value is in the general interest. Owners of fossil fuel reserves will sell at a slower pace if carbon taxes are imposed. Owners of freestanding houses will lose house value if a massive program of dense urban housing construction begins. Owners of skills in the coal industry, or of any technology supplanted by another, want to continue with their invested skill set rather than retrain for the more efficient and ultimately more profitable newfangled thingamajig.

Boston, New York, San Francisco, all the major cities -- all the greatest centers of our production and commerce -- they suffer from one primary problem: "The Rent Is Too Damn High." And this is because the homeowners of these areas -- middle and upper class, whether red or blue -- WANT it that way. There's nothing wrong with ANY of these cities' economies that a sufficient supply of transit-accessible housing wouldn't fix. But the sunk costs of suburbia -- not just physical infrastructure but the governmental and social constructions-- prevent it from happening, absent some shakeup of the political system from within or without.

I would love to move to California; it has all the virtues Dr. Brin espouses and more. But I feel I have to rise even higher in rank and pay to make it an economically worthwhile endeavor... and given my status as a relatively successful junior member of the same general profession as locum, that is really saying something.

Wealth distribution is a real problem in this country and California's wealth has not solved it. But then, I'd still rather have California's problems than Kansas' or Alabama's.

Catfish N. Cod said...

The critical question, as I see it: What is the balance between promotion of rural communities and urban ones? The cities cannot do without the farms, the mines, the transport systems. But the fundamental assumptions underlying the construction of the American landscape -- to wit, that a free market would support a nation of primarily small towns and rural landscapes, with scattered cities supporting them -- has been fundamentally undercut by technology. The cities have been ferociously outcompeting the lower-resource rural areas for jobs and innovations, despite the yawning wage and price gaps between them. You just don't need a lot of people in small towns throughout the country. You can make a good case that St. Louis, or Columbus, Ohio, or Chattanooga, Tennessee, are being unfairly passed over in our economy. But not a random county seat in South Dakota, or Texas, or Kentucky. The plain fact of the matter is that neither the economy nor the society gives them good enough reasons to stay. And so they leave; and so the town withers and dies.

Will we make a concerted effort to distribute our civilization across the vast available space? Or will we let capitalism enact its natural form, and consolidate learning, wealth, power and productivity into ever smaller spaces? One road leads to a less free market, with jobs and factories assigned by 'deal-making', corruption, feudal districting, bureaucracy, 'share-manufacturing', or any number of other less savory means of spreading around the work (i.e., the right to eat). Another involves massive subsidies and market distortions, as in Europe, to try and maintain a bygone age under glass and prop up communities for which there is no longer an economic rationale.

The last involves many small towns dying, as vast numbers of tiny villages already have in this country... and the survivors being the ones that could either attract the more productive members (and attitudes) of the blue clade, or adapted them to a more functional form of the red culture, or transformed themselves by reacting to market conditions that demanded change.

Like I said, the large cities have problems. They have sunk infrastructure, outdated transit, misaligned incentives in areas such as real estate. But unless they overspecialize to the extent of a Detroit, they'll be all right... and even Detroit is starting to bounce back. But I'd rather have the problems of a city than a small town, and I'd rather be in a small town (such as the one I grew up in) that wised up and started on the education-economic competition angle than one that sat around whining about a stacked deck.

The game doesn't favor idyllic farming communities anymore? Guess what: the whole planet's like that. It's not a conspiracy. It's technology. We all have to deal with it.

Alfred Differ said...

Last time I saw any stats on the subject, the net inflow of people into cities across the globe was running at about 1 million per month. One doesn't create small cities this way.

Also, last time I checked, cities are still considered one of the great examples of emergent order. There are things that humans intend and things that nature just does. Then there are the things in between like our languages and markets and legal systems. Cities that succeed aren't designed or intended in the sense of algorithmic task accomplishments. They happen because of individual intents, but not individual design.

Combine these two and one should see the folly of opposing the tsunami as humanity re-organizes itself in this century.

Zepp Jamieson said...

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/kepler-telescope-finds-10-more-possible-life-friendly-planets/

Over 4,000 planets found, including 50 Earth corrollates.

Sigh. How boring.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred Differ wrote: "Last time I saw any stats on the subject, the net inflow of people into cities across the globe was running at about 1 million per month. One doesn't create small cities this way."

Automation and AI are only going to accelerate this process. Rural life really is becoming irrelevant. At least, as far as societal needs are concerned.

Alfred Differ said...

Agreed. AI will be most accessible to us where our networks deliver large bandwidths, so it won't just be about the work we do in rural areas being replaced. Kelly argues that AI is fungible and will flow to us much like electricity does. Want to be part of the modern world and it's conveniences that will soon be requirements? Plan on moving or building the necessary infrastructure.

We did eventually electrify our rural areas in the US, but we waited until we got rich (and motivated) before doing it. I suspect we will do something similar with respect to the AI pipe.

Jumper said...

Currently AI is done in remote processors.

Tim H. said...

Alfred, it's worth remembering the Rural Electrification Administration, part of FDR's new deal. I suppose the United States could be considered wealthy in 1935, but a lot of citizens didn't feel like it was.

locumranch said...


Electrification hit my area in 1967.

Zepp says that "Rural life really is becoming irrelevant. At least, as far as societal needs are concerned," and he is half-right because (1) the US Rural Economy dies as the Urban Economy thrives, yet (2) he forgets that the Urban Economy relies on the Rural Economy for all of its food, water, energy & resources, so much so that your La-De-Da cities will die with us, as the fate of the urban & rural economies are inextricably entwined, and our rural demise is much much closer than you think, the average age of the US farmer being 58 yrs old with the average age of the farmer world-wide approaching 63.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/feb/04/global-food-security-old-age-timebomb

It would therefore behoove the Blue Urban Enlightenment to rethink its one-sided economic system that enriches the cities at the expense of the surrounding rural countryside before rural market failure occurs, but you won't, it will & your so-called 'victory' will be a short-lived Pyrrhic one.

The Blue Metropolis teeters on the brink: Detroit has been dead for years, the US Territory of Puerto Rico is officially bankrupt, Chicago & the entire STATE of Illinois is next, then maybe Baltimore, Houston, New York & Los Angeles.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/could-illinois-be-the-first-state-to-file-for-bankruptcy/


Best

Tim H. said...

Think of it as informal centralization, with private sector apparatchiks.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Hmmm. Rural Electification 1935. Motivated, yes. Rich, no.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Farming is getting ever more automated, and energy and resources aren't the big employers they once were. That's a process that began in the 20's. Back then, one in three Americans were farmers or ranchers. Now it's less than one in one hundred. A coal mine that once hired several hundred people now needs a dozen or less. Ditto timber and milling.

Alfred Differ said...

The US of 1935 was quite wealthy if you look beyond the subjective feelings of it's citizens. In terms of GDP/capita, we caught Britain in the first decade of the 20th century and except for a brief dip at the beginning of the Depression, we've stayed ahead.

Both Britain and France provide decent measures over long time spans because A) they collected the data and B) many think they were rich with their pre-WWI empires.

Upgrading Rural America in the 30's helped upgrade our Urban America too. It was a concept whose time had come, we were wealthy enough to afford it, and we were highly motivated to boost morale.

As locumranch points out, though, I was thinking more about electrification of the rural South. That came later as part of a social engineering effort. The Great Society. LBJ. The beginning of frequent TV imagery of the real state of America. What we saw didn't match how we envisioned ourselves and that moved a lot of people to change things. We WERE wealthy in the 1930's, but a generation later we were immensely so. We were hip-deep in fighting a Cold War, a Vietnam War, a Poverty war, and decided to put men on the Moon too.

If you make a list of what was happening in the world at the time, Americans were involved in an awful lot of it. We still are, so one has to look beyond the national budgets and projects to see it. Follow what individual Americans do to see the wealth in action.

The biggest difference I see between that world of the mid-20th century and today is that we Americans aren't even remotely alone in this wealth and the urge to use it. Billions are getting involved. The percentage of humanity living an impoverished life has been plummeting in the most recent generation.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Zepp and locum are both half right.

"Rural life is becoming irrelevant" in the sense that fewer and fewer people are needed for the primary sector of the economy. This means that the original communities built for those purposes are becoming smaller and smaller, and thus less and less the focus of the archetypes of society. The average person is not a farmer, or a miner, or a driller, or a fisherman. They are now specialty jobs.

But locum is also right, in that these jobs are now highly specific and extremely vital for their services to the rest of society. Like the elite programmers, or machine crafters, or designers of entertainment and fashion, they are becoming increasingly important and a lynchpin of society.

In a proper state of affairs they would be PAID as such, and farming, ranching, mining, &etc. would be lucrative trades that attracted investment, social status, honor & pride. (Some) of their small towns would become well provisioned and have the same degree of fancy services found in the big cities, allowing them to stand toe-to-toe with the big-city snobs. Instead we have Big Agriculture, Big Oil, etc. reducing the rural elan to another cog in a capitalist grinder.

They're both right that something is off kilter... but I hardly think this leads to the "bonfire of the vanities" that envious locum dreams of. More likely are tumbrels.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"The US of 1935 was quite wealthy"
That's a string of words that fits along with
"Cod liver oil is delicious"
"Please cut off my leg" and
"President Trump is honest."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Catfish: Can't speak for locum, but I think you pegged it.
Here in California, agriculture is considered the most vital industry in the state. However, it only makes up 4% of the state GDP.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Yah. I remember cod liver oil.
My mother tried to convince me it was good for me. 8)

It helps to think in relative terms, though. New York became wealthy very early for obvious reasons. From that, it's not hard to understand why early America built canals to connect NY to the mid-west and as that region became richer (re)built the National Road striving to connect St Louis to the Potomac.

Alfred Differ said...

@Catfish | In a proper state of affairs

They ARE paid well. However, they are immersed in a global economy, so the context for that pay isn't limited to the US.

In my opinion, the second greatest lesson from learning economics is the concept behind how we substitute one thing for another when our individual preferences don't align and we use prices to settle those differences. When nickel became too important for war purposes in the US during WWII, we quit making nickels out of the stuff and turned to silver. In a non-wartime economy, though, we do this stuff all the time and rarely think about what it does and not just with commodities. We do it with labor too. If I thought I could make more as a miner, I'd substitute my current employer for another one in a flash. I don't, though, because my employer is rather small and operates in a non-global context. They have to pay a premium as a result.

Context matters. My wife used to make small, crocheted toys for kids and sell them. Craft work I called it. She got a moderate price for them in a very tiny niche market, but couldn't compete outside it. The wider niche contained global providers who were industrialized AND had access to very cheap labor. The toys are cute and personalized and relative to the competing labor she WAS paid well. For a California resident, though, it was peanuts. Most of the potential buyers here substituted her personalized craft right out of their thoughts. They chose Made-In-China. 8)

David Brin said...

It doesn’t matter how many facts you present. A whimpering whiner will whine. Locum knows that net wealth flows FROM blue America to Red America, in vast floods. He knows that cities send the countryside vastly more than they would get just by sale of their products. Yet he yowls what he absolutely knows to be outright lies and opposite-to-true slanders about rural America being raped by the city, because he has to! Emotion over-rules any amount of verifiable facts. Hence bilious hatred of all fact professions. (Name an exception.)

Appalachia and rural whites had no friends in government or the cities, till FDR came. And Locum’s parents would slap him silly, today, if they saw what an ingrate they had raised. The hillbillies we knew from that era were boosted by the TVA etc… and later they were by far the biggest recipients of Johnson’s War on Poverty. The oligarchs rape locum’s folk over and over… but in a perfect illustration of the Stockholm Syndrome, they get on their knees and kowtow to their oppressors. as they did to the plantation lords.

Hey fellah, your cult relies on anecdotes like Illinois and Puerto Rico. Our side relies on facts, like almost ALL red states - except Utah =- are worse run and in worse shape than almost ALL blues. You point at our exceptions and scream "see?" We point at your vast majority and beg you to wake up and topple your local oppressors..

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, I was raised in a Scottish household, so my early youth wasn't what you would call a taste experience. Cod Liver Oil, haggis, and blood pudding. It's a wonder I didn't even up living in a dumpster behind a fast food joint, eating mouldy burgers and whimpering.
The canals were built in the 18th and 19th century, long before 1935. Not disputing NYC was rich, just not so much in 1935.

Alfred Differ said...

My father's side was Scottish, but my mother was English. She stopped doing it at some point, though. I think my brother and I were the kids from whom she learned what she COULD do that wasn't important enough TO do. 8)

My father didn't say this to us until late in his years, but when his family left western PA for Baltimore, the term 'hillbilly' was used for them by city folks... and accurately. They left as WWII ramped up. Jobs were to be found there. Huzzah!

I did get a chance to ask him what he thought of younger folks who had dark views of FDR. He said "They couldn't find their asses with both hands." It was a classic line for him always accompanied with a look of disgust. It was also many more words than he usually used which said a lot. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, my Dad was Labour, and when we came to Canada, he embraced the Liberals while Mum went PC. I was NDP, so we had a fairly wide range of politics. An Anglican, a Baptist and two atheists, just to keep mealtimes lively.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I am going to do what Alfred always complains that I do
Try to "engineer" our society

Cities - as far as I can see there is another positive feedback mechanism here - the biggest city has the largest workforce and customer base so it attracts more businesses,
These come from the smaller towns - and reduce the size of those towns
This process does not appear to stop on it's own - it just keeps on going

We see this here NZ - Auckland is the biggest city in NZ - about 1/3rd of the total population live in Auckland and over half of immigrants stay in the Auckland area

This end up with cities that are simply too big - they overflow their infrastructure and they end up with very high property prices and rents

IMHO we should be actively using regional taxation and subsidies to reduce this effect - just as we should be using taxes and inheritance taxes to reduce the concentration of wealth

The first stage should be
What is the "Best" size for a city? - the optimum size that can take advantage of all of the economies of scale without incurring too many of the penalties of excessive size

The "Best Size" may depend on the environment - a city that is limited in ground area due to hills (Dunedin) or water (Auckland) may have a different optimum that a city on flat land

Thoughts?

Alfred Differ said...

Well... 8)

To Engineer is Human.

You are welcome to keep trying, but I think you are missing out on a much more successful approach.
All I really ask is that you not use your voting power to have the politicians take your side. If your way to do it is so spiffy, you won't need the politicians.


I see cities as expressions of capital. It's not that the customers are here (though they are) or that the labor is here (though it is), but more that people decide to risk their savings here. If my neighbor decides to do that, I don't have to do as much research to decide whether I want to take that risk. I can rely upon his selfish interests to cover for me to some degree. That might not be wise of me regarding all my neighbors, so I'll be selective.

There ARE mechanisms that limit their size, but we've been working on the limits. Old limits regarding the cost of transportation put certain kinds of farms right at the edge of a city and other kinds further out. Not so much anymore, though, since transport has been industrialized. Other limits regarding diseases, waste control, and emergency services (all related in some ways) constrained population density. Add on transportation costs and one gets a limit to available labor. We've been working on that too, though, even if they haven't been reduced as much. How many of us actually lay awake at night fearing a plague? Current city sizes reflect not a runaway positive feedback loop, I think, but a set of quick changes to our limits. This is part of why I argue against the notion of a carrying capacity for humans on this planet. We are learning fast enough to make the illusion of a positive feedback loop look real. At any particular moment, the limits are there. In the next moment, though, some innovative soul may have moved one of them. The loop really IS an illusion, but so is the carrying capacity.

As for vampire cities, it certainly does work that way in some places. Paris dominates it's region. However, it doesn't work well in the US. We have a few very large cities, but they don't suck the life out of their nearby regions. (Sure. They DO slurp up children, but not enough.) They can't in the US. We are simply too rich. There is too much stored capital to be used to cram it into a few cities. Look at a map of our cities with populations above one million. There are quite a few of them and they are spread around.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

I totally agree that there are limits to city size
BUT what I see happening is that the limits cause extra costs BUT NOT to the ones coming into the city but to everybody

So a city gets so large that extra people cost more than the benefits
BUT the "cost" is spread over the whole city and the "benefits" go to the "new" people/company

The result is that the city grows past it's optimum size and the limits to growth don't actually slow the growth down

Jumper said...

The cost of the city is, unfortunately in the USA, spread over the incorporated area, and evaded over the rest.

Deuxglass said...

donzelion,

I apologize for saying that we weren’t in agreement concerning the real estate issue. I treated you badly on that.

The US census has statistics on domestic immigration going back to the Forties and one pattern is seen over and over. The rural areas end young people to the cities, as they grow older with children they move to the suburbs and when they retire they tend to move to a place that’s cheaper and with good scenery.

It is harder to raise children in big cities so the natural birthrate is low compared to rural areas and that is a pattern that existed ever since cities have existed. Rural areas export their excess populations to the cities where. Some prospered but more didn’t and usually died of disease. In fact it looks like nothing has really changed. If an ambitious young person today is obstructed in his rural setting then he immigrates to the city and searches for a niche just like he did in 2000 B.C. Mesopotamia. Cities then as now have very liquid job markets compared to the countryside but they also are very expensive to raise kids. Cities need that immigration to survive.

There is one thing that bothers me about the large cities. In my work I visited many cities both in Europe and the US. I noticed it 30 years ago and I have done an informal survey. You may laugh but I found that in big cities 60% of the pigeons have clubbed feet or other major deformations. Why is that???

I have a deep love of smoked cod livers and eat them several times a week.

locumranch said...


Hundreds of years ago, the English declared that the Scottish had 'out-lived their usefulness' from the English perspective, but that didn't end well for all concerned.

Farming, mining & resource extraction (all types) ARE becoming more & more automated, so it does follow that fewer & fewer workers are NEEDED to fulfill these increasingly critical roles within the so-called 'Rural Economy'. Therein lies the problem.

You neglect the Rural Community that this 'economy' serves.

Although farming, mining & resource extraction remain NEEDED, the communities that produce & sustain these workers to fulfill these needed roles are NOT needed and, as these communities cease, desist & die in a literal sense, so do these workers. This is the 'Market Failure' of which I speak:

HUMAN farmers, miners & resource extractors do not & cannot exist in a vacuum and, even though these workers remain absolutely INDISPENSABLE in fewer & fewer numbers, you err when you assume that these indispensable workers will continue to struggle, strive & labour in these roles for Urban Benefit after you've marched their unneeded children, wives & friends to the metaphorical Gas Chamber of community economy.

Best
____

Does anyone else rankle when David uses the term 'Hillbilly' to refer to every type of Red State redneck? It's as if he expects the Indiana Hoosier to feel a debt-of-gratitude to the Establishment for helping a few 'Hillbillies' in the Tennessee Valley. We are not interchangeable cogs in a wheel like those city-dwellers with their beards, beanies & pseudo-intellectualism. Beatniks, I think they're called. You Beatniks are all alike. You'd do well to 'Know your groceries', Daddy-o.

Jumper said...

I guess it's pointless to ask someone to learn about actual farming if all they want to do is pontificate about bullshit.
As for "hillbillies" those are my people from a few generations back and I get a smile out of it whenever Brin uses it. I'm not offended. Maybe it's because I never actually lived in the hills; my forebears left to cross the Mississippi and homestead out thataway.

Deuxglass said...

Science vs Philosophy

http://existentialcomics.com/comic/190

locumranch said...



Where do you live, Jumper?

I had coffee this am in a cafe full of agriculturalists and, excluding the servers, I was the youngest & most optimistic person in the room. Most continue farming out of sheer stubbornness, describe agriculture as a losing proposition & complain that their agricultural tradition ends with their death, suicide or retirement.

From a Red State perspective, the Probable Democalypse I describe approaches absolute certainty, having already occurred, as these rural communities are well past the socioeconomic point of No Return.

Learn to eat rocks.

Best

Jumper said...

I'm in Charlotte NC right now. The city. Most farm people I meet are over closer to the mountains. Same with the orchards. I don't know anyone who tries to make that their single income stream; that was disappearing by the late '60s. Most landowners I meet who farm rent out the land to others who like to manage, and who also have other income streams. Mostly right outside the city it's corn, soybean and a tiny smidge of cotton just for gambling. I met a lot of guys who never had land but grew up doing it and shifted to heavy construction equipment operation. Horsepower to a different end. Tobacco was getting put to bed back in the late '80s and early '90s. Most growers I knew were glad to be rid of it, especially with the buyouts. I never have the impression of a bunch of suicidal doomers. That comes more from the druggie types into the meth, crack, and bikes. Mill workers lasted until the '70s around here, both inside and outside the city. That's a different story. You might want to argue with brown lung disease, but I'm not up for going back to that. I guess if you're bound and determined to die, Oxy will serve your purpose. And constant preaching of doom.

Jumper said...

As far as eating rocks goes, I've been doing it my whole life if you count phosphate, and I do. My dad was a farm boy who went into the phosphate industry because in'45 everyone knew farming was a dead end for the individual. I don't worry about my food supply. I make my own tortillas from dent corn, and can have chickens up and laying in a few weeks here. I still have some of last year's pumpkins in the cupboard, and can grow sweet potatoes any time I want. Much of the city consists of spaces where that's possible. The aforementioned orchards around these parts include apples, and with some good ale yeast I can turn some apple juice into a party that will have a lot more people laughing than it will crying, as is the apparent preference of the locumranch crew.

Berial said...

Was American 'rich' in the 30's? I guess it depends on what you mean by rich. Don't forget that American became the 'arsenal of democracy' around this time because we had the GDP and resources that could do it.

Here's a really fun series from 'Extra Credits' about the The Resource War that I'm sure we all know about, but I think you will enjoy the series even so.

donzelion said...

Deuxglass: Apology accepted, particularly since I was perplexed: on your points about poverty in California (and rents), we are very much in agreement!

That said, the politics underlying it are very difficult to translate into gross statistics. There are reasons why no community wanted to zone for 'affordable' housing after the 1960s...

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | So a city gets so large that extra people cost more than the benefits
BUT the "cost" is spread over the whole city and the "benefits" go to the "new" people/company


Yes. If I put my engineering hat on, I’d say the damping force isn’t large enough. The oscillator is underdamped.

Do you see the theft in the taxation that enables this redistribution yet? 8)

Majority vote outcomes can move a lot of money and make it all look legitimate, but close examination reveals the disgruntled who aren’t even remotely inclined to see the redistribution as the dues they must pay to be part of the community. Some will grumble, some will vote, and some will leave… when they notice. Hide the deed well, and the system is even more underdamped.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Although farming, mining & resource extraction remain NEEDED, the communities that produce & sustain these workers to fulfill these needed roles are NOT needed and, as these communities cease, desist & die in a literal sense, so do these workers. This is the 'Market Failure' of which I speak:

This isn’t even remotely a market failure. The obvious solution is to replace the human farmers, miners, and what not with robots. A less obvious solution is to centralize the humans involved and enable teleoperation. Human workers DO need human communities, but human workers in any particular niche can receive these services in a number of ways. Traditionally, farmers were served by small farming communities. This tradition need not be so in a world of essentially zero cost communications.

It is not a market failure when a service that was once essential evaporates when it later becomes unnecessary. This applies to our jobs, social institutions, AND cities. Your fellow coffee drinkers are being stubborn in the face of a decision most of their neighbors made long ago. All things live and die. Sometimes stubbornness is noble. Sometimes it is just stupid.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

The "Cost" in a large city is NOT "taxation"
As a city becomes larger everything becomes more difficult - transportation - all types of business
This is the extra "cost" which gets worse as it grows

BUT this extra cost is on EVERYBODY not just the people who benefit from moving into the city

So in engineering terms this is NOT a question of "damping" but a constant force pushing it over

Alfred Differ said...

How do you suppose those costs get paid, though. Transport roads cost us money. In the city where I live, I can see the impact the pension plans have on potholes.

If the benefits go to a few and are paid by everyone else, don't you see that as a theft sometimes? We do in some cities where sports arenas fail to get city sponsored funding on ballot measures. Sure. Some jobs would be created, but by design. In the case of some of those ballot measures, the design obviously favors a few.

However, I think I see where you are going with your objection to my use of damping as the force limiting city growth. You point to forces that point the other way. Okay. Political forces? I suspect so as the economic forces I can think of are damped IF no ballot measures override economic natural selection forces.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
To me the biggest extra costs do not get "paid" - although the costs that do get paid with taxes like transportation are significant

The biggest costs are the additional time (time is money) for transport and the high housing costs

These are not taken from the citizens by taxation but taken by the size of the city

Alfred Differ said...

Spend long enough driving slowly on a CA freeway and bond measures for more or wider roads seem attractive.
High housing prices deliver higher property taxes. All sorts of things show up as fees over which we have about as much control.

I was involved in a startup that wanted to talk the city of Tustin into preserving one of their WWII airship hangers. The historical people wanted to keep it around and we were going to provide a commercial reason to add on to their list and use a small corner of one of them. Someone else wound up doing it besides us, but the city very much disliked the idea at the time. They saw the land put to better use as houses and wanted to tear it all down. The proposed use didn't generate enough revenue for them to justify the future budgets they had in mind. Obviously, things were heading to court and we couldn't really afford that. I didn't dig into it after that, but it was part of my political education. No matter which side one took, it was obvious political forces were coming to bear on economic outcomes.

If you want to argue that the biggest 'costs' are not things on which we put a value, though, I'll go along with that. Commute time eat into family time. Stuff like that would make sense to me.

David Brin said...

onward onward

onward

Unknown said...

Apologies if this has been already said in the 100-plus comments I didn't read.
I think EVERY GOP legislator should get a primary challenge from a science-loving centrist who believes in strict fiscal accountability.
Imagine -- if they all got primary challenges from "the left." The challengers would be saying, "Bring back Eisenhower. Bring back Senator Mark Hatfield. Bring back President Gerald Ford. Recall with great fondness how Senator Bob Dole worked with others."
I suspect most of these challengers would lose the election. But some would win. And all would change the GOP's internal conversation, probably for the better. Right now, it's the timid "don't rock the boat" voices whispering against the racists' shouting. Instead, the internal conversation should include some actual patriots shouting back. And yeah, I'd be thrilled to see retired military officers join this effort.