Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Two Things I Don't Get (Mainly One)

Jordan Weissmann piles on the "let's not take Romney at his word" wagon with regard to FEMA. One (the one everybody knows is a problem): Why does the fact that Romney flip flops a lot mean that he'll always flip to the reasonable position? Why are people always so confident about this? He might flip being relatively technocratic as Governor to being Tea Partier-in-Chief for all we know. Two (the main one): Romney uses many strong words, and it is quite difficult to thread Weissman's needle on this one. When King repeats: "Including disaster relief, though?" as his follow up, Romney replies: "We cannot...afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all." Ok, so we, the sophisticated, are to understand that Romney really doesn't mean that. But what is the message that comes down from our political elites? There is a lot of evidence that the views of the general public to a large degree reflect the attitudes of the elites. Why is it then permissible to use such strong language? To say we should read between the lines is to miss the point that many people won't. Why isn't this something to call Romney on?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Can't Say It Enough

The GOP members of Congress the last four years have been truly atrocious. This story is more important, but less exciting, then who will win the presidency this year. Notice the theme winding through this and this.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Smug Grad Students Being Smug

Overheard probably nice person smugly claim (I paraphrase) "I'm in Literature, so I can rip the claim that there is such a thing as truth apart." Grad students in Literature shouldn't be smug. They should spend their free time thinking of viable ways to defend the existence of graduate programs in Literature. Claiming we need them to show how there is "no truth" won't help.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Reports Of Racism's Death Greatly Exaggerated

Don't know why anyone thought racism isn't prevalent in the U.S., but anyone who says that (I've talked to some) has to deal with the fact that about 50% of Americans pretty much flat out admit it. I'm not saying the survey is perfect, but the results are pretty stark.

Random Speculation On Contemporary Crime and Punishment

Out of the blue speculations today: our legal and criminal justice systems are anachronistic in a lot of ways.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Some Politicians Are Not Good At Hiding Their Motives

The voter I.D. laws, for one obviously. But Rick Scott wants to penalize students who will pursue lower paying jobs. As Taborrok notes, if jobs in these fields are unavailable, students are already being penalized for choosing them - they accept that job prospects are worse and the ones available will be lower-paying or have fewer benefits, since the market does not demand them. The point of this legislation is not really to get people in STEM, it's to punish people who tend to be academics or liberals.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Women Are Criticized Differently Than Men Are

Megan McArdle, with whom I often disagree and would not often recommend reading, makes the correct point that influential women are not just often criticized, they are criticized differently than men are - often with fantastical scenarios of sexual violence involved. It's good to call people out on this.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nobody's Right, Everybody's Wrong

But Romney's the most wrong...
Romney last night: "I said they need -- these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that process, they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they'd -- they'd built up..."
Romney in 2011: "My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. I said from the very beginning they should go through a managed bankruptcy process, a private bankruptcy process. We have capital markets and bankruptcy. ... My plan, we would have had a private sector bailout with the private sector restructuring and bankruptcy with the private sector guiding the direction as opposed to what we had with government playing its heavy hand."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gender And Voting

Listen to the women...they tend to vote based on self-interest. From The Economist:
Dr Petersen and Dr Sznycer found that, regardless of country of origin or apparent ideology, strong men argued for their self interest: the poor for redistribution, the rich against it. No surprises there. Weaklings, however, were far less inclined to make the case that self-interest suggested they would. Among women, by contrast, strength had no correlation with opinion. Rich women wanted to stay rich; poor women to become so.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Liberals As Charitable As Conservatives

Andrew Gelman gives the head's up at the Monkey Cage:

We are not the first to ask whether partisanship affects giving. In 2006, Arthur Brooks made headlines with a provocative finding from his book Who Really Cares: despite stereotypes of liberals caring more about the poor, conservatives were purported to be more generous when it comes to giving to charities. These results stirred the political pot by taking “bleeding heart liberals” to task for their stinginess when it comes to their own money. . . . we demonstrate that these results are not robust, and appear to be driven by a non-traditional question wording for identifying liberals and conservatives. After correcting for this problem, there is no statistical difference between conservative and liberal giving, conditional on observable characteristics. Further, when we use partisanship rather than ideology to measure liberalism, there is no statistical difference in giving, regardless of whether we adjust for observable characteristics.

The Kid Is Back

Submitted dissertation. Fired up and ready to go.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


The Economist's Greg Ip makes the case that things are bound to get better. Since voters seem to care about trends and not levels, and things will be getting better, odds are that the party that wins the election this year will win in four years, as well.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blame Bush

It's sort of cliche to say, but the depth of the badness of the economy really is to a significant degree due to Bush's policies, and Romney's policies are more of the same.

"During the 2000 election, the growth of a budget surplus offered the country a major choice. Al Gore proposed to use most of the surplus to retire the national debt and the balance for public investment. George W. Bush proposed a large, regressive income tax that Gore warned would exacerbate inequality and jeopardize the soundness of the budget.
Then, as now, the Republican simply denied over and over that his plan would do what the Democrats said it would. Bush portrayed his plan as devoting just a small fraction of the surplus to tax cuts and described his tax cut itself as benefitting the poor far more than the rich. And you certainly could find circumstantial evidence to suggest that Bush might govern the way he portrayed himself, rather than the way his plan read. He had governed in a bipartisan way in Texas, he had explicitly denounced the conservative wing of the Congressional GOP, and he had surrounded himself with moderate advisers like Michael Gerson and Karen Hughes.
But Bush in fact followed through on what his plan actually did, which happened to be what Gore described it as, and not what Bush described it as. His promises to maintain the budget surplus and direct most of the tax cuts to lower-earners fell by the wayside. What mattered was the party, and the Republican Party was committed to a policy of regressive tax cuts."

Monday, October 1, 2012


It's just a game.
"We consider the relationship between collegiate-football success and non-athlete student performance. We find that the team's success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades. This phenomenon is only present in fall quarters, which coincides with the football season. Using survey data, we find that males are more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving."

Paul Ryan Thinks We're Suckers

The video is pretty funny.

Class Warfare

Remind me again: which side is winningSomething weird about saying people need rich people to create jobs but then decry labor as all on the government dole. Are they working in the jobs you create or are they welfare queens milking the government system?
"As a group we employ many millions of taxpaying people, pay their salaries, provide them with healthcare coverage, start new companies, found new industries, create new products, fill store shelves at Christmas, and keep the wheels of commerce and progress (and indeed of government, by generating the income whose taxation funds it) moving. To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment...
The President, in Cooperman’s view, draws political support from those who are dependent on government. Last October, in a question-and-answer session at a Thomson Reuters event, Cooperman said, “Our problem, frankly, is as long as the President remains anti-wealth, anti-business, anti-energy, anti-private-aviation, he will never get the business community behind him. The problem and the complication is the forty or fifty per cent of the country on the dole that support him.”

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