2016 June 29 Wednesday
Can Britain Manage To Do Brexit?

The European Union does not want other countries to follow in the UK's wake, Therefore the EU will seek ways to maximize Great Britain's pain from EU withdrawal while minimizing the EU's pain from the same. Ideally the EU would like to see Britain give up the attempt.

I think the EU has some advantages and tactics it can use to make the cost of Brexit fall much more heavily on Britain:

  • If Britain's withdrawal causes a drop in trade between Britain and the EU the drop will be larger per British citizen than per EU citizen because the British are fewer in number.
  • The EU can select industries to be hit by higher tariffs based on the ease with which the production in Britain can be shifted to the continent. Britain loses economy of scale on any product that gets blocked from trade between Britain and EU by EU-imposed tariffs.
  • Britain has a much larger diplomatic job to do to work out the withdrawal. The EU already has trade agreements with various nations around the world. Britain lost its own such agreements when it joined the EU. Now Britain has to negotiate lots of agreements.
  • Britain's own elites (notably including diplomats who will have to do the negotiating) aren't going to be eager to work hard to negotiate new terms for Britain with the EU and with other nations around the world.
  • The elites in Britain's traditional ally the United States would like to see Britain fail in its attempt at EU exit. So the government of the USA will probably drag its feet at negotiating new trade deals with Britain.

What Britain needs is some leaders who can rally around them civil servants and business leaders who are eager to negotiate new terms for Britain in the world economy and who are also eager to capitalize on various forms of flexibility that Britain gains from Brexit. What I think British leaders could do to nullify the EU's attempts to punish it:

  • Rapidly negotiate trade deals with other major countries (Brazil, India, Canada, Australia, Japan, China if possible, USA if possible, maybe even Russia) that take automatically effect upon Brexit. The more deals it makes the stronger its negotiating hand will grow with Brussels. I would even go so far as to argue that it should negotiate those deals and only then invoke EU article 50.
  • Develop alternative financial regulations that will attract financial firms to Britain (and think about Bitcoin/Blockchain and other alternative payment mechanisms in this context).
  • Identify the most innovation-hostile EU regulations and craft replacement regulations to go in effect upon Brexit.
  • Identify industries in continental Europe that could be enticed to relocate to a more friendly regulatory and tax regime in Britain.
  • Change immigration policy to brain drain the world. Do not allow in lower skilled workers but make it very easy for the very brightest and highest skilled workers to be brought it. Make Britain a desirable place for companies to set up research and product development facilities.
  • Grant stronger privacy rights for corporate data in corporate data centers. Make Britain a desirable place to build very large data centers.

If Britain very rapidly codifies all the changes that take place upon Brexit well in advance it will actually create a large business constituency for Brexit. Businesses that discover they will stand to gain from Brexit will then become boosters for Brexit.

To make this work the British government should ask British companies to each draft proposals for changes they would like that would become possible once Brussels no longer calls the shots. For example, lots of product standardization regulations could be repealed that the EU passed to make many products all the same across countries. Allow more diversity and ease of exploration of alternative solutions to problems.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 29 08:46 PM 
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2016 June 26 Sunday
Leaders In China Reject Progressive Future

Xi is purging.

In the last eighteen months, Chinese schools have been instructed to shun Western values. This has involved directives from the education ministry, censorship of books, and shaking down academics. Xi believes that Chinese thought should be rooted in the classic tradition of China. These acts are reported in the Western press without any self-awareness. Western universities select for progressive orthodoxy, purge non-believers and wrong thinkers and tightly control what is published, promoted, and taught. China is giving the same direction, but in opposition to progressivism; it’s just a bit more overt, as far as the eyes of Western media are concerned.

Wonder when the progressives will get upset about this. Maybe never.

This does not just apply to the academic realm.

Chinese authorities have “banned all depictions of gay people on television, as part of a cultural crackdown on “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content.“” This is not simply about homosexuals, but since the West adores homosexuals for now, this is the worst element of the ban. Extramarital affairs, underage relationships, homosexuality, and perversions are now banned, as well.

I wish Samuel Huntington was still alive to opine on what this portends for the future. Will the various non-Western civilizations develop even greater immune responses to Western ideas? Picture a future where Chinese biomedical advances make offspring far less likely to do things the leaders find morally objectionable. Political differences will be amplified by offspring genetic engineering.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 26 07:44 PM 
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Join The Progressive Side For Greater Freedom Of Speech

Scott Adams thinks he has more freedom of speech now that he's endorsed Hillary Clinton for president of the USA.

Many of you can’t talk about this topic without being accused of sexism, losing your jobs, and being cast out of your social groups. But I can talk about it because I endorse Hillary Clinton for president. I did that for my personal safety, because I live in California, but still, I’m on the progressive side now. That gives me some extra freedom of speech.

Originally Adams endorsed Hillary because he figures he's less likely to be assassinated that way.

So I’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, for my personal safety. Trump supporters don’t have any bad feelings about patriotic Americans such as myself, so I’ll be safe from that crowd. But Clinton supporters have convinced me – and here I am being 100% serious – that my safety is at risk if I am seen as supportive of Trump. So I’m taking the safe way out and endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

Adams thinks Clinton has a new adviser who is teaching Hillary to use the same persuasion techniques as Trump uses. He thinks Clinton now even has a chance of winning. Though Clinton's rhetoric is more likely to get Trump supporters beat up.. If you go to a Trump rally go with a gang for mutual protection.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 26 07:17 PM 
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Brexit, Transnationalists, Nationalists

Great Britain is going to exit the European Union. Good for them. Britain is lucky it still has its own currency. Otherwise Brexit would be very difficult. Megan McArdle argues that the transnationalists need to make peace with their nationalist neighbors who have their own interests and preferences. But I do not see that happening.

Even simple self-interest suggests that it may be time for the elites in Britain and beyond to sue for peace, rather than letting their newborn transnational identity drive them into a war they can’t win -- as happened with so many new states in the 19th and 20th centuries. Try to reforge common identities with the neighbors they have to live with, and look for treaty rules that will let them live in peace. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that transnationalism is any more capable of tempering its own excesses than the nationalism that preceded it.

I do not think the global elites are capable of tempering their excesses. I've made a related argument in here. The elites want what they want and aren't going to give up wanting it and trying to get it.

What's needed: a reshuffling of a slice of the world's population so that many transnationalists can all live in the same city-states without nationalists (think of several Singapores). These places would be Transnationalistan or perhaps Global Land. Global Land can be a set of cities with little countryside around them. A sort of Hanseatic League perhaps. The people living in them could be lawyers, bankers, marketing executives, and other symbol manipulators. People from New York City, London, Paris, Brussels, and Frankfurt could move to them or their existing cities could be carved out into separate countries.

I expect the reshuffling to happen eventually. It won't happen yet because it requires a much higher level of automation to allow knowledge workers to break their commercial bonds with everyone else. Once the globalist symbol manipulators have very little need for service from human manual laborers the globalists aren't going to need to live near a servant class. Many of them won't want to support the lower classes with taxes on their higher class incomes.

The highly robotic and automated future isn't necessarily going to bring all the symbol manipulators together in a few city states. Rather, knowledge workers with different kinds of moral, social, and esthetic preferences could cluster in different city states. We could witness the emergence of rival city states that compete to most efficiently create congenial living and working environments for the knowledge workers with low taxes.

Another factor needed to make the city states viable: even greater mutual revulsion between the nationalists and transnationalists. I think the transnationalists aren't going to trim their sails. So rising revulsion seems at least plausible. Consider Streetwise Professor's views:

This is a global phenomenon: the Trump insurgency in the US is another example. What is most disturbing–and most revealing–about the reaction of the elites to these outbursts of popular opposition to their direction and instruction is their lack of self-examination and humility, and their immediate resort to scorn and insult directed at those who had the temerity to defy them. Immediately after the results were clear, those voting leave were tarred as old/white/stupid/poor/uneducated/racist.

Totally lacking was the question: “If argument and evidence are so clearly on our side, why did we fail so miserably in convincing people of the obvious?” To these self-perceived elites, their superiority is self-evident and any opposition can only be attributed to mental defect or bad faith.

It is natural to not want to be ruled by people who see you as mentally defective. So a break-up of assorted polities makes sense as a way to separate the condescending elites and the proles.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 26 01:17 PM 
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Ethnicities In San Francisco Schools; Culture Wars

San Francisco leans very heavily toward the Democrats. With that in mind check out the racial distribution of children in San Francisco schools and be sure to compare the school names to the racial distribution in each school. I'd like to know the direction of cause and effect between school names and racial distributions. Note what these (overwhelmingly Democrat) parents and voters say about their attitudes toward the schools. It is all pretty funny to me.

SF and NYC demonstrate what happens with the highest concentrations of American liberal upper class. The behavior of that upper class is instructive. There is a really big gap between the rules they want to enforce on the rest of us and what they do for themselves. That is also demonstrated by police behavior in NYC. They want safe streets even though that means police behavior that they'd rule totally beyond the pale if it happened in flyover country. Their hypocrisy is cheeky.

Funny behaviors of elites remind me of the recent (and still on-going) battle over Britain's membership in the European Union. Recently the non-elite parts of the population of England voted to have Britain (really just England since Scotland will secede) leave the European Union. This has elicited a lot of revealing responses from media and intellectual elites. Take this one from Foreign Policy: Brinsanity: The British people have spoken … and lost a lot of credibility. Really Englishmen, you've disappointed a Foreign Policy writer. Whatever were you thinking? Streetwise Professor does a great job of looking at the condescension of our elites. My take: they want what they want no matter how foolish that is.

When I was a kid we played army and shot at each other a lot. Now a kid who ate his pop-tart into the shape of a pistol and used it to shoot at other kids had his suspension upheld by a judge. This (and many other things) reminds me of how I recently came across Nassim Nicholas Taleb using this acronym: IYIs (Intellectuals-Yet-Idiots). We have a lot of IYI people writing in the press.

While the elites would deem it morally illegitimate for the proles to want to secede from a polity run by the elites a different standard holds for elite desires.

The elites have decided that prejudice based on political affiliation is good if it is prejudice directed at their opponents. For this and other reasons I really think breaking countries up into subcountries is a good idea. Best not be ruled by people who think you are morally inferior trash.

A Harvard economics prof understands what believers in homo economicus refuse to grasp:

Of course, if you delegitimize any identity that produces political opposition to what you want then it is a lot easier to reject any policies that respect someone's identity.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 26 01:17 PM 
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2016 June 19 Sunday
Hunger Spreading In Venezuela

Check out the latest news from the unfolding tragedy of socialism, stupidity, and democracy which is Venezuela: Venezuela’s Season of Starvation: Amid sky-high inflation, dangerous shortages, and political unrest, Nicolás Maduro’s regime is on the verge of collapse and Venezuelans Ransack Stores as Hunger Grips the Nation and Lost generation forming in Venezuela as violence, hunger plague schools.

The stories in those news reports are like others I've posted in the past. But the decline has gone much further. Hunger is spreading. What's amazing is the passivity of the population.

If I was Emperor of the Western Hemisphere I'd have Maduro removed along with all his ministers. Then I'd lift all price controls and return all seized businesses to private hands. I would also lift all currency controls too. Then I'd have Venezuela stop paying debt and use what little revenue it earns from exports to buy food. This is all pretty obvious stuff to do.

Talented people in Venezuela would be best off leaving. Why stay when the majority are capable of electing fools like Chavez and Maduro who are incapable of learning how an economy works?

By Randall Parker 2016 June 19 07:56 PM 
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2016 June 18 Saturday
What To Do About Ideologies?

Toni Airaksinenis recovering from a plunge into feminist ideology.

For example, feminist ideology taught me that any opinions that were conservative, or just didn’t align with the party line were violence. It also taught me that the best way to fight opposition is to try to silence it. Don’t like what someone says? Protest them. Shut their event down.

In retrospect, the fact that I openly embraced an ideology that claimed that holding a conservative viewpoint is the same as life-threatening violence, isn’t just absurd, it’s embarrassing. How was I so deluded?

The advent of conservative speakers being de-platformed or harassed by screaming social justice warriors is a logical consequence of an ideology that equates conservative opinions with physical violence.

What's surprising is that she's been able to start pulling herself out of this mindset. What fraction of people who are taught to think like this ever go thru withdrawal?

I pretty much do not want to be around people who've embraced an ideological faith. Probably one should visit with secular believers to keep up with what various secular faiths are up to. But I'd prefer they and I live in different political jurisdictions, preferably all the way up to the national level. Better to live with people who are more practical, rational, and interested in evidence.

What causes ideologies to flourish in the modern era? I think turning away from beliefs in supernatural religions leaves an unfulfilled need in a lot of people for an overarching explanation of how society works, what is the meaning of life, and, especially, who is good and who is evil. Some people have a strong need to point to an out-group against which their in-group is defined. I think it best these in and out groups are defined across national borders.

You might think one could fulfill one's need to understand life by, say, understanding math and science. But its beyond the mental ability of most people to understand even lower division calculus classes, let alone the more complex stuff. People have a hard time grasping evolution because the numbers of involved in making low probability events into high probability events are hard to get one's mind around. Complex systems are hard to model in one's mind.

Really really smart people who embrace crazy ideas like Marxism has other explanations too. For example, the extent to which people are bothered by inequality varies across the political spectrum and is probably inherited. People who are hardwired strongly against hierarchy or strongly against inequality (and these are separate attributes I think) are going to be in rebellion against a market society even if its poor people are way better off than a those in a communist society. They can't help it. Their instincts are just too strongly driving them to be upset.

I suspect brain genetics research is eventually going to lead to the discovery of genetic variants that make even very smart people more prone to embrace assorted forms of secular faith. Then I'd love to see a group surreptitiously get DNA samples from assorted intellectual crazies, test their DNA, and then float the test results on the web in a way that avoids the ability to trace back to who did this.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 18 06:40 PM 
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2016 June 11 Saturday
The Insanity Of Liberal Arts Colleges

This article about Oberlin College gives you a sense of how much humanities have decayed in the United States. The faculty are under attack from their students and neither faculty or students make much sense. The author of the piece takes the students seriously. What the students really need: criticism of their embrace of victimhood and their whining.

Protests continued through the winter. Harvard renamed its “house masters” faculty deans, and changed its law-school seal, which originated as a slaveholder’s coat of arms. Bowdoin students were disciplined for wearing miniature sombreros to a tequila-themed party. The president of Northwestern endorsed “safe spaces,” refuges open only to certain identity groups.

What high school students in America need: information about which colleges are most crazy and which are least crazy. The rational students should cluster in the saner institutions and just avoid the crazies. If those who are obsessed about victimhood, identify politics, and safe spaces go to colleges that only they attend then other students can go to the remaining colleges and get a decent education.

High school students should think seriously about online learning options that are aimed at developing quantitative skills and job skills. If they go for more practical learning they'll also, at the same time, avoid the safe space insanity.

I worry that the cult of victimhood will only grow. People who haven't been wronged will make increasing demands on the rest of us. How to deal with them short of breaking the United States up into a few different countries?

By Randall Parker 2016 June 11 08:31 PM 
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2016 June 05 Sunday
Scott Adams Fears Hillary Clinton Supporters

Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert comic strips about corporate office workers, has decided that endorsing Hillary Clinton for president is his safest bet because her supporters are more likely to assassinate him for being the opposition than are Trump supporters.

If you seriously think you are at that much risk then the thing to do would be to leave the country. Scott has made a lot of money from Dilbert and other pursuits. He could afford to buy permanent residency somewhere else.

The animosity the Left has for the Right keeps going up. I think the Left is angry that computer technology has enabled people to communicate around the gatekeepers who previously enabled the Left to control the bounds of discussion. The Left is getting more strident and more vehemently declaring their opponents Nazis, haters, racists, oppressors, patriarchical, and the rest of it. I'm wanting a political divorce that puts us and them on opposite sides of a border.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 05 10:39 PM 
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2016 June 04 Saturday
Twitter feed real_peerreview is gone. Replacement Needed

If you've never read @real_peerview then have a look at what you missed.

There is a need for others to take up the task of publishing excerpts of crazy peer reviewed Social Justice Warrior academic publications. The rest of the world needs to see how crazy and hostile they've become. Your enemies run the academy. More departments are falling every year.

Update: A group has heeded the call. See the Twitter stream RealPeerReview.

By Randall Parker 2016 June 04 09:14 AM 
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2016 May 30 Monday
Turkey Fights Internal War With Kurds, Split With US on Syria

Good article in the New York Times: Turkey is fighting a big Kurdish insurgency within Turkey's borders. The Kurds do not want to be ruled by the Turks any more than they want to be ruled by the Arabs or Persians. The Kurds have become more nationalistic and determined to achieve independence.

Turkey is, in theory, America's ally. I say in theory because in practice that's not really true any more. National interests of Turkey and the United States have diverged for a variety of reasons, notably including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the shift of Turkey away from secular nationalism toward Turkish Islamic nationalism. In Syria Turkey prioritizes the overthrow of Assad's government. But the United States sees ISIS/Daesh as the big threat because ISIS has carried out terrorist attacks in Europe. These attacks have been made possible, of course, by lax immigration law enforcement followed by Angela Merkel's insane invitation for masses of Middle Easterners to deluge Europe.

But back to Turkey: the Kurds do not want to be ruled by the Turks. The Turks do not want to give up a piece of their country (or at least the leaders of the Turks feel that way). How is this going to resolve? Are the Turks just going to grind down the Kurds and kill large numbers until they take back control of all Kurdish towns and cities?

Will Kurds flee Turkey for the Kurdish zones of Syria and Iraq? Will that enable the Kurds to capture even more of Syria and Iraq?

It is my impression that Kurds are more fertile than Turks. Will the Kurds eventually (thinking decades) be able to carve off a piece of Turkey to make part of Kurdistan? Also, will Kurdish Iraq remain a separate state from Kurdish Syria? Will the Syrian Kurdistan become more feminist and secular due to PKK influence?

In the short to medium term the United States has the problem that its interests and Turkey's interests are diverging in Syria. Factions that the United States wants to bomb are factions that Turkey (and even Saudi Arabia) want to support. Can Turkey prop up al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra Front against American or Russian bombing? What about Ahrar ash-Sham? It is supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia while allied with Nusra. Russia bombs it. Is the United States being ambiguous about it because American policy makers want to pretend that Saudi Arabia is our ally?

The only somewhat secular factions in Syria are Assad's government and the Kurds. Salafists dominate the remaining big players. What is the US position toward these Salafists? What do Washington DC players see as a winning scenario for US interests? It is really hard to tell. I wonder if they know themselves. I suspect not.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 30 04:53 PM 
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2016 May 29 Sunday
Bernie Sanders Has Praised Castro, Sandinistas

Hey, its totally unfair to claim that Bernie Sanders only likes Scandinavian socialism. Lets not do that any more. Here's why: When Bernie Sanders Thought Castro and the Sandinistas Could Teach America a Lesson

As mayor of Burlington, Sanders praised the regimes of Nicaragua and Cuba—claiming bread lines were a sign of economic health and press censorship was necessary in wartime.

What about Venezuela? As I see it Venezuela has a big upside: Suppose you want to do intermittent fasting to turn up autophagy (where your body tears down old worn intracellular components) as an anti-aging strategy. Well, you might not have the willpower to pull it off. Plus, you need to be able to concentrate on a full stomach at work. Well, food is hard to get in Venezuela and people are getting lots of extra days off to save electricity. Plus, just sitting in food lines takes many hours. These conditions are highly conducive to intermittent fasting.

What about the voters of Burlington Vermont? What's with them? I think they need to go live in Cuba or, even better, Venezuela for a few months. North Korea would be good too.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 29 10:21 PM 
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Why People Support Trump

A 22 year old Trump supporter living near SF explains to Conor Friedersdorf why he's switched from Libertarian voter to Trump supporter:

For me personally, it's resistance against what San Francisco has been, and what I see the country becoming, in the form of ultra-PC culture. That’s where it's almost impossible to have polite or constructive political discussion. Disagreement gets you labeled fascist, racist, bigoted, etc. It can provoke a reaction so intense that you’re suddenly an unperson to an acquaintance or friend. There is no saying “Hey, I disagree with you,” it's just instant shunning.

This guy makes the point that the election is about whether PC speech control will continue to go up under Hillary or get attacked by a sitting president. I'm much preferring the latter.

In August 2015 Friedersdorf published 30 views of Trump supporters. Lots of different motivations including strong opposition to political correctness. The sense that Trump will fight for his supporters looms large.

“Trump has never lied to me whereas all of the other Republican politicians (like McConnell & Boehner) have. They don’t fight for my side. Nobody fights for my side. Trump fights. Trump wins. I want an Alpha Male who is going to take it to the enemy. I am tired of supporting losers.”

For a long time the Republican base has been tools for the Republican elite. The base (and quite a few independents and Democrats) is sick of that. They want to back a winner who will work for them.

Another recent Friedersdorf piece on Trump is an interview with a gossip columnist who used to deal with Trump extensively back in the 1990s. The interview brings out Trump's extraordinary skill at managing the media and shaping his image. Hillary Clinton and her managers are clearly not in his league.

T.A. Frank has a couple of pieces in Vanity Fair that further explain Trump's appeal: The One Issue That Could Destroy Hillary Clinton (immigration of course) and Why Democrats Are Becoming the Party of the 1 Percent (because the 1% insanely favor open borders).

This has been a fascinating election so far. Populists came along with enough talent to motivate the disgruntled masses. Bernie Sanders has only limited skills at appealing to the dissatisfied. But they are sufficiently dissatisfied that he's made Hillary's job of getting the Democratic nomination much harder (it helps she's got something like negative charisma too). On the Republican side the master persuader is sucking in all the media attention and mobilizing a lot of people who wouldn't even vote normally (given that both parties are against them). So this election has just gone off in directions I did not foresee. Have a look at the links above if you want a better understanding of why this election is so different than normal.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 29 08:33 PM 
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2016 May 28 Saturday
In Venezuela Suburb Brownish Colored Water Comes Once Per Week

Venezuela keeps getting worse. The Venezuelan people should rise up and overthrow the socialists. Venezuela is shutting down. The government stores that sell well below market prices create incentives that make the situation much worse. People are quitting productive jobs to work as black market traders. The government has damaged the economy in numerous ways and is run by paranoid Marxists who think the CIA is to blame, not their own destructive policies.

The opposition won a majority of the national legislature. But the government put people on their supreme court who vote to strike down laws passed by the legislature.

How would you like to live in a country where you get water one day a week? Where the government shuts down 2 days a week to save electricity? Where schools shut down part of the time to save electricity? This is crazy. But the Venezuelan people are still too foolish and have still not risen up to overthrow their government.

Socialism is failing in Venezuela. A socialist, Bernie Sanders, is running for president of the United States.. Bernie Sanders does not want to discuss the failure of socialism in Venezuela.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 28 08:38 AM 
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2016 May 17 Tuesday
Andrew Sullivan Complains About Trump

Andrew Sullivan complains at length about Donald Trump: America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny

It was increasingly hard not to see in Plato’s vision a murky reflection of our own hyperdemocratic times and in Trump a demagogic, tyrannical character plucked directly out of one of the first books about politics ever written.

On the other hand, Sullivan sees the intensifying craziness of the progressives.

For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.

He goes on to describe how the white lower classes are vilified by progressives who are much higher up in the status and income hierarchy.

Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well. A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to “check his privilege” by students at Ivy League colleges.

Well Mr. Sullivan, the progressives are only getting worse. GOPe figures cower before the progressives and offer little substantial opposition to their insanity. I say a charismatic figure is needed as a weapon against the progressives and Trump is the only one who has arisen. Nothing less will fight back effectively and the insanity (e.g. open borders, and the latest Title IX insanity: little boys going to the little girl's lavatory) keeps getting worse. We can count on the MSM to take the side of progressives no matter how insane they get.

Sullivan complains that Trump supporters are violent. Wait a second. Opponents of Trump literally block roads to Trump rallies. Trump opponents try to disrupt Trump rallies. Trump opponents physically attack Trump supporters. The Trump supporters get angry about this and Sullivan ignores their legitimate grievances - morally delegitimizing them just like the progressives do.

Sullivan goes on to vent at length about Trump. He should put so much effort into venting against the progressives and propose another way to stop them. I think Trump is reasonable compared to Sullivan.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 17 06:14 PM 
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Criminal Kids Become Jihadists In Netherlands

Kids who go off to jihad do crime first. If this is true the implications are very important.

But Martien Kuitenbrouwer, a former mayor of West Amsterdam, who has investigated radicalization for the past decade, said years of paying close attention to the Muslim community had yielded some valuable insights about who becomes an extremist and why. Criminality and jihadism “are part of the same stick,” she said. “Nearly all the kids who go to Syria have a background in crime.”

I'd like to see systematic gathering of evidence on this question combined with psychometric and genetic testing.

Biosocial criminality researcher Brian Boutwell argues that genes play a large role in causing criminal behavior. These kids who become jihadists are, on average, genetically different than kids from the same ethnic group who do not become criminals or jihadists. If we knew the genetic locations responsible for these differences we could predict who was more likely to become criminals or jihadists.

By contrast, blaming the behavior of children on parenting practices is usually wrong. Its what the parents gave the kids at the moment of conception that matters the most.

There's still a role for environment, at least for jihad. If the kids weren't raised as Muslims it would not occur to them to become jihadists. Though they'd still become criminals.

Kids who sneak off to Syria and get killed by Russian or American smart bombs or by Kurdish women fighters are kids who are lowering the future crime rates of France, the Netherlands, and other countries of origin.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 17 04:10 AM 
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2016 May 16 Monday
No Medicines, Broken Machines In Venezuela Hospitals

What is happening in Venezuela is a horror story. Read it. Imagine a hospital that no longer has running water, let alone soap. In government hospitals the death rate of babies has risen over two orders of magnitude. Entrepreneurs are getting shafted. If your factory union forces you to buy toilet paper on the black market you'll go to jail. I think of Atlas Shrugged. Venezuela has become totally dysfunctional.

President Nicolás Maduro must be dumb. How else to explain the large number of appallingly stupid things the Venezuelan government does?

What I do not understand: Why haven't the Venezuelans risen up in revolt? Even though the lower classes are probably not bright enough to understand what has gone wrong I would at least expect them a lash out in anger sufficient to overthrown the government. But no. Not so far.

If I was king of the world I'd carve out a piece of Latin America for more talented Latin Americans and let them flee to this paradise while keeping out the rest of the population.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 16 03:14 PM 
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2016 May 10 Tuesday
Preppers Buying More Property

Sales are up for many kinds of prepper products.

Likewise, sales at bunker builder Rising S Co. have never been better. They shot up 20% to 25% over the past two years for the radiation-resistant shelters, which can be sunk 33 feet underground and tricked out with gyms, greenhouses, and water filtration systems...

I do not buy the political instability argument for building remote second homes that can function off-grid. Maybe another Carrington Event is reason to prepare. Maybe a massive killer pandemic. But economic depression? Doesn't seem like a reason to move to a remote area even if the depression happens. There'll still be an economy and specialization of labor will remain a huge benefit of civilization. So I'm not seeing it.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 10 10:21 PM 
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