2016 February 07 Sunday
Cognitive Elite In California Support Rest Of State

Silicon Valley is carrying the rest of the state.

The San Francisco Bay Area has accounted for more than half of all job growth in California since 2007, though it accounts for less than one-fifth of the state’s population. Robust Silicon Valley earnings have also driven up income among the state’s elite and bolstered California’s budget. Last year, capital gains—profit from the sale of investments—accounted for nearly 10 percent of general fund revenues.

Bring in brains and thrive. Bring in people to do your manual labor, well then don't thrive.

Los Angeles is in with the losing parts of the state.

L.A.’s struggles predate the recession of 2008. In the past 20 years, greater Los Angeles has lost 3.1 percent of its jobs, according to a 2014 study by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

The pattern in California fits a larger national pattern. America is dividing up into tiers with big differences of income. Rural counties are going down along with some urban areas. Other urban areas have the brightest knowledge workers and they are thriving.

I expect this trend to become even more pronounced as more routine work gets automated. Already the employment prospects for the intellectually less able are dismal.

In a sane world we'd use knowledge of these patterns to set immigration policy and trade policy. But we don't live in a sane world. The great awakening is still some years off but probably less than 10 years.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 07 09:47 AM 
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EU To Pay Macedonia To Isolate Greece

EU ministers are proposing to pay non-member Macedonia to build up border obstacles to prevent the immigrant horde from leaving Greece to enter Macedonia on their way into the heart of Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated the stampede and she's refused to say that Germany will stop accept the Middle Eastern and North African immigrants.

The European Union is upset with Greece for not spending money they don't have to block the flow of immigrants,many of whom are not war refugees and those who were already had safe haven in Muslim Turkey). The EU mininsters want to bottle the up the hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of immigrants in Greece.

Greece isn't allowed to deport the immigrants. This is considered inhumane to refugees.

Europe has decayed.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 07 09:33 AM 
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2016 February 03 Wednesday
EU Shameless: Blames Greece For Refugee Crisis

Guess which of Greece's borders the EU is talking about: EU gives Greece warning to fix border 'neglect' and EU exerts pressure on Greece via Schengen threat and EU urges Greece to take steps to tighten bloc's border and this EU call to more tightly control Greece's border:

“Greece is seriously neglecting its obligations and there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by the Greek authorities.”

By external borders you might think the EU is referring to Greece's border with Turkey. After all, that's where the refugees (called forth by Germany chancellor Angela Merkel) come from. Nope. The EU wants Greece to stop the flow of refugees out of Greece northward!

Only the Dutch are being practical: Dutch suggest EU sends migrants heading to Greece back to Turkey.

Think about it. The leader of the most powerful state in the European Union makes statements that cause a stampede of people to head from the Middle East and Africa to the EU. Poor Greece is overrun and told it can't stop refugees from entering from Turkey. Angela Merkel makes like her position is high moral principle as well as a boon for the entire EU. But now the EU is threatening to kick Greece out of the Schengen area unless Greece bottles up migrants in Greece so they can't make it to Germany.

Really, think about it.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 03 10:07 PM 
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2016 February 01 Monday
White Middle Class Rebelling Against Both American Parties

How Both Parties Lost the White Middle Class

Today, the vast middle of the middle fears that unless you're on the way up, you're on the way down.

I've been making that argument here for years because it seems correct. I've been arguing that you had better try to go up because if you aren't trying to go up you are very likely headed down. My sense of it was that a lot of people in the middle are in denial on this point. I'd expect government workers to feel immune and perhaps people in some industries that haven't been hit yet by lots of automation and outsourcing.

In the essay above R.R. Reno argues that a big split is between those who benefit from globalization and those who are doing poorly as a result of globalization. But he only captures one part of it. The three causes of this split are automation, global trade, and immigration.

Reno is right when he argues the Left derides the white middle class:

The message: White middle-class Americans aren't just irrelevant to America's future, they're in the way.

Meanwhile the Right has people deriding anyone who isn't an innovator or entrepreneur. So the (shrinking) middle feels abandoned by both parties. Makes sense. They really have been abandoned by both parties. Hard to believe this would happen and so they've been slow to figure it out. They've just finally started to express themselves by voting for candidates who at least pretend to feel loyal to them.

My favorite Bureau of Labor Statistics page (yes, I have a favorite BLS page) is about employment population ratio by educational level. Look at how the high school grads and high school drop-outs are faring against those with some college or a bachelor's degree or better. I think this drop in status and employment is a long term trend that won't reverse any time soon.

My advice continues to be the same: go for skills and move to places that will give you better opportunities for advancement. Even if Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders gets elected in November 2016 the prospects for the middle will not brighten. I think Trump could slow the decline but not reverse the fortunes of the middle class. Sanders probably can't even do that much.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 01 10:44 PM 
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2016 January 30 Saturday
Calling Men On Their Failure To Protect European Women

Interesting way to go at the European immigration problem: Where are Europe's men? Faith Goldy on the 'testosterone recession':

While women in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere are being groped and raped by Muslim migrants, many are asking, "Where are their men?" As Faith Goldy of TheRebel.media notes, the ones that aren't wearing miniskirts at protest rallies (!) are apparently doing nothing at all.

Telling men they are being wimpy and lame and unmasculine is one way to get them to take more responsible political positions.

By Randall Parker 2016 January 30 05:01 PM 
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2016 January 18 Monday
Elite Donor And Media Gatekeeper Function Weakening

Startup Boy on the 2016 Presidential election and surge of dissident candidates:

The elites lock the crown behind two massive gates – it costs a billion dollars to run for president. And incalculable, favorable mass media exposure.

This works well – so well that the elites get lazy, handing off presidential power within dynasties – between fathers and sons, husbands and wives.

Statistically speaking, what are the odds that the two most qualified candidates to be president out of 300 million people are siblings? Or married?

Great question. This is what makes the elite preferred choices for 2016 so insulting. They can't even be bothered to rotate the job thru other families. What is this? Argentina?

Startup Boy says look, the hold is weakening.

Bernie spends a bit on ads. Trump doesn’t bother.

It’s not just publishing – the Internet lets anyone donate little bits online. Bernie taps the crowd – over a million dollars a day from small donors! Again, Trump doesn’t bother. He just self-finances.

The mass media barrier is down. The money barrier is down.

A mob is pushing Bernie. Trump is pulling one behind him.

The elites are livid. They sneer at the masses – Uneducated. Socialist. Racist. Luddite.

The elites are worried. Facebook and Twitter silence dissident voices. Popehat says they have a right to do it but Twitter lies motive.

Nevertheless, I do fault Twitter for is its hypocrisy and its outright lies about what it claims that it is doing. Twitter is not at all interested in making Twitter a "nicer" place, nor promoting more constructive discourse. Twitter is taking a side in the culture wars, and it has chosen that it will be the destination of choice for the "social justice warriors" echo chamber.

First point: I agree that Twitter is taking sides. But how severely? The answer is very important because it bounds what we can do about it. It might be taking sides only enough to give SJWs an advantage without doing it so flagrantly that it creates sufficient demand for a more open competitor.

If Twitter was to heavily lean left in its censoring then a competitor could spring up and meet an unmet need. But even then we'd run the risk that the competitor would be like Fox News, which attracts the American Right but represents elite interests and doesn't cover issues it doesn't want the right wing base to think about.

The internet has improved the ability of dissident voices to be heard. But I'm not discounting the elite establishment's ability to consolidate big social media sites thru mergers and editorial control and get us back so something not too far from the old status quo. It won't be like in China where the government lays out the censoring rules. But it'll still be done by the elite. So it is not clear that the weakening hold of the gatekeepers is permanent.

By Randall Parker 2016 January 18 04:36 PM 
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2016 January 16 Saturday
On The Immigrant Deluge In Germany

Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Müller thinks 10 million refugees will come to Europe. Gerd Müller is either innumerate or doesn't want to shock his audience too much. Hundreds of millions or even billions will come unless Europe puts a stop to it.

The populaces of the Western countries need to get their minds around the hundreds of millions of people who want to immigrate to the First World. Even those numbers are a huge underestimate because they are a snapshot at a given point in time.

Lately I've started reading the Deutsche Welle news site. They've got an English language version. Some recent articles: German finance minister calls for option to deploy troops in wake of Cologne attacks. To be clear: Angela Merkel favors an immigration policy that makes the deployment of troops necessary. Another one: German town bans refugees from swimming pool. Why? Sexual harassment complaints. Again, made necessary by Angela Merkel's immigration policy. Another one: Rhine town cancels Carnival parade following Cologne assaults Poll: Germans increasingly skeptical of refugees. Police go after North African gangs: Police conduct massive raids in Düsseldorf's 'Maghreb' neighborhood.

Also from the Daily Mail: Forty per cent of Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian migrants registered in Cologne have been arrested for crimes, police figures reveal. The German government, like other Western governments, tries to prevent its populace from finding out things that will cause them to reach conclusions the elites do not want them to reach. Imagine all the data about immigrant crime in Europe was made public. What would it tell us?

By Randall Parker 2016 January 16 04:17 PM 
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2016 January 13 Wednesday
Students Desperate To Find Something Worth Protesting

Back in the 1960s students had lots of very weighty issues to protest about, most notably the potential of getting drafted and sent to Vietnam to get blown up by a mine out on a jungle trail or by incoming mortars fired by Victor Charlie. Nowadays, as this article listing college student protests of 2015 demonstrates, students are scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with a way to rebel: 10. UC San Diego Students “Free the Nipple”

One organizer told News10 she wanted to, “normalize the female breast.”

Nothing new here folks. Bra burning was already done back in the 1970s. Men did not complain since nipples show up thru the shirt much more distinctly when not shielded by a bra. I say yes to more breast protests.

Oberlin students are reduced to protesting that General Tso's chicken was not serve with culturally authentic sauce. It is like they are competing with The Onion.

Young Muslim jihadists run off to Syria, Iraq, or Libya to fight for the Caliphate. They put their lives on the line a cause they believe in. Contrast that with great PC moments in 2015 on US college campuses.

1. Hating pumpkin-spice lattes was declared sexist.
2. A university language guide stated that the word “American” was “problematic.”
3. A university study declared that we have to accept people who “identify as real vampires.”

Life is too easy in America and the kids have gotten decadent and trivial in their moral outrage. Pumpkin spice lattes? These students are pathetic. Real vampires? Fantasy. Normalizing the female breast: what masculine American male is going to oppose well endowed women walking around topless?

Politically correct college students lack creative talent. They can't come up with a worthy cause. So they dream up caricatures of a worthy cause. Pathetic.

By Randall Parker 2016 January 13 09:06 PM 
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2016 January 01 Friday
Cheap Offshore Income Flows For Everyone!

See For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions. The hedge fund managers can afford the legal fees to set up offshore tax shelters to funnel their income to avoid taxes.

Now, am I going go to all anti-billionaire and demand they be taxed like the rest of us? No way. I'm for equal opportunity. I demand that Congress (or the President of the United States via executive action like Obama has been doing with immigration policy) lower the regulatory obstacles for setting up offshore shell corporations to make them accessible by all. In the name of equality everyone should have a Bermuda corporation.

If (and this is a big "if" even in the face of the Great Republican Revolt) the Republican elites want to demonstrate to Democrat Trump supporters who have been shafted by the cheap labor lobby on both sides of the political aisle and rejected by the Left that the corrupt Republican donor class and their lackey trained official conservative lapdogs do not speak for the whole of the Republican Party then one way to do it is to enable cheap offshore tax shelters for all.

Obviously there are other ways to signal some residue loyalty to the American middle class. But this way is the funniest way I've come across so far. Your thoughts?

By Randall Parker 2016 January 01 01:29 PM 
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2015 December 31 Thursday
Hillary Clinton Wants To Create Lake Woebegone America

All chidren must be above average: "Now, I wouldn’t keep any school open that wasn’t doing a better than average job." That's the word from Hillary Clinton speaking on the campaign trail in Keota, Iowa.

This would of course lead to a rather rapid rate of close closings and new school openings. Would we need to build new school buildings to replace about half the schools that get closed every year? Or just fire all the teachers and hire new people into the teaching profession to replace them? Or just fire the administrators and open new schools in the same buildings but with new school names? Perhaps everyone would take a turn teaching or administrating 1 year in a new school before it got shut down for being below average.

We live in an age of denial. The evidence about child development is clear. The behavioral geneticists and psychometricians have shown us compelling evidence. But the Left can't handle it. Over the next 10 years the consequences of these advances will yield evidence down at the level of thousands of genetic variants for why some kids are below average. Will the denial continue unabated even in the year 2025? I'd like a time machine so I could look ahead and find out. I'm getting bored by the never ending stream of nonsense spewing from elite mouths.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 31 10:39 AM 
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2015 December 24 Thursday
Issues With Muslim Immigration

"Lorenzo from Oz" makes a number of points about Islamic sensibilities, its reaction to modernity, and immigration.

Of the existing civilisations sharing this planet, only one is prominently having an extended temper tantrum about modernity; an extended temper tantrum with a distinctly homicidal edge.

He goes on to contrast Islam's reaction with that of Japan, China, and Latin America. He says Salafism is a revolt against modernity. That sounds about right. Then he gets into immigration.

Once Muslim minorities start heading towards 10% of the population, then enclave problems are much more likely to develop and cooperation with security forces is likely to be much patchier and resistance to the agents of the state is likely to develop. Accepting a Muslim minority of that sort of size is also, effectively, a decision to export one's Jews.

Will American Jews eventually become concerned about their co-religionists in Europe?

Differences in values and priors matter.

The notion that there are no issues specific to Muslim migration is nonsense on stilts. Of course there are: it is very different, religiously-defined civilisation with very different presumptions and framings. Yelling "racism" does not change that, although it does close down debate: so is precisely the sort of shouting polarising that is not in any way helpful.

The whole post is quite long and nuanced. Have a read.

Quite a few on the Left are somewhat blind to certain forms of opposition to their vision because their mental framework precludes serious opposition stemming from something other than the culture and religion found on the American Right (or what's left of it). Surely they think Muslims must be reacting to Western oppression. What else could possibly get them so worked up? The deep rooted assumption of Liberal Manifest Destiny (that the whole world will inevitably see the wisdom of The New Yorker or The New York Times) makes them discount the threat from their real enemies. So we go barreling along into greater folly.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 24 12:10 PM 
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2015 December 23 Wednesday
2 Order Of Magnitude Murder Rate Range For American Cities

Crime dangers are highly local. St. Louis Missouri has a murder rate over 2 orders of magnitude higher than Chandler Arizona: 49.9 vs 0.4 per 100k population.

Most of the worst cities (St. Louis, Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Newark NJ) are not a surprise. Next worse is Buffalo and then Pittsburgh. I'm surprised by Pittsburgh. My impression was that it was greatly recovered from its worst rust belt days. But Pittsburgh at 22.4 is substantially worse than Philly at 15.9. I would not live in any place with a murder rate above 10 per 100k and really would avoid 5 per 100k.

What else is weird: Seattle and NYC tie at 3.9. I would have thought Seattle was lower crime than the Big Apple. But gentrification and aggressive policing have worked wonders. Los Angeles is at 6.7 and San Francisco is at 5.3. Big favored liberal professional destination SF isn't as safe as NYC? But Chicago at 15.1 is far worse, though not quite as bad as Philly. Indianapolis at 15.8 is worse than Chicago. I would not have expected that either.

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Portland Oregon is at 4.2. Not bad by American city standards. But I expected an even lower number. Its become an iconic urbanist knowledge worker town like SF.

Of course, larger cities are big places and there are much more safe areas and much more dangerous areas. But I'm not keen on living in a safer part of Chicago or a safer part of Philly. I wonder which of the higher crime cities have big gradients of crime rates across their cities and which have more evenly distributed crime.

What else is interesting: the relative rankings of cities differs quite a bit by crime type. Oakland California comes up worst for robbery and auto theft. Anchorage Alaska is worst for rape (admittedly a highly inconsistently reported crime). Tucson AZ is worst for overall property crime. That's surprising to me. Cincinnati is worst for arson.

The take-away from all this: It matters where you live. It also matters where you vacation and where you or your kids go to college.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 23 06:10 PM 
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Donald Trump Second Least Hawkish GOP POTUS Candidate

The man most popular among the supporters of The Great Republican Revolt, Donald Trump, is sane on foreign policy compared to mainstream (i.e. supported by elites) Republican presidential candidates. Only Rand Paul is less hawkish. Surely Hillary Clinton is more hawkish than Trump as well. Look at her policies toward overthrowing the Libyan government - which let open the gates of hell into that country and now ISIS controls a substantial chunk of Libya. Yet the press tries to portray Trump as extreme and rash.

I've steadily lost respect for the reasoning ability of our elites and the elites in Western Europe. They've made a series of bad decisions and show no signs of getting back to reality.

Curiously, the Trump Revolt is strongest among less educated voters. I suspect that smarter people are most heavily targeted by elite propaganda and so more likely to drink the Kool-Aid.

From David Frum's The Great Republican Revolt:

These populists seek to defend what the French call “acquired rights”—health care, pensions, and other programs that benefit older people—against bankers and technocrats who endlessly demand austerity; against migrants who make new claims and challenge accustomed ways; against a globalized market that depresses wages and benefits. In the United States, they lean Republican because they fear the Democrats want to take from them and redistribute to Americans who are newer, poorer, and in their view less deserving—to “spread the wealth around,” in candidate Barack Obama’s words to “Joe the Plumber” back in 2008. Yet they have come to fear more and more strongly that their party does not have their best interests at heart.

Really, they do not have their own party. The Democrat elites abandoned them in favor of a permanent majority of Hispanic voters. The Republican elites pretended to embrace them but elite interests are increasingly diverging from those of the middle class.

Will the Republican Party fork? Will the Democratic Party eventually fork as well? It is also made up of a coalition of increasingly diverging interests.

The divergences of interests on the Left will grow for multiple reasons. The Democrats have multiple growing divisions: black vs Hispanic interests; classical liberal rights supporters vs illiberal #SafeSpace identity warriors; upper class cognitive elites vs lower class; tech industry management that wants to hire only cognitive elites vs racial preferences warriors. The list goes on. Can the Democrats manage all that? Seems like the divergences of interests will grow too large for them to reconcile.

The divergences of interests on the Right are growing as well. Downwardly mobile white middle class aspirations are likely to be frustrated (albeit to a lesser extent) if Trump wins. Automation is going to continue to kick the high school drop-outs and high school grads down to lower rungs on the economic ladder. Taxi drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers, short order cooks and many other occupations are going to get automated out of existence by 2030. Ditto most remaining factory jobs.

Wal-Mart is a big source of employment for lower class whites. Wal-Mart is the biggest employer in 20 states. But Wal-Mart will automate and people will continue to shift more of their buying online. Robots will take over all the work in order fulfillment warehouses. Wal-Mart is losing marketshare to Amazon. In 20 years time it seems very unlikely that Wal-Mart will be the biggest employer in America. I expect its staffing to drop in half or more.

The bitterness of American politics is going to grow. Trump's rhetoric a symptom, not a cause. What we are really seeing with Trump's rhetoric is a challenge to elite marginalization of anyone who opposes their will.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 23 10:29 AM 
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2015 December 22 Tuesday
Vladimir Putin Says Use Islamic Caliphate For Target Practice

Scott Adams adds walls and finds this idea appealing:

Once we get the Caliphate walled-up, we can dump the Guantanamo Bay leftovers there too. Compare that to Plan A, in which we release them and they kill us.

Walls: Is there anything they can’t do?

Adams advocates for renaming ISIS to Virgin Zombie Target Practice.

Will advances in robotics eventually doom all insurgent movements? Will the biggest capital owners be able to devastate any insurgency? Is ISIS going to accelerate the development of robotic ground forces that will make human labor ineffective in fighting for a religious or political sect?

By Randall Parker 2015 December 22 09:47 PM 
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Children In China's Cancer Slums

Parents and grandparents in China impoverish themselves to afford anti-cancer drugs for young children. They live in very small and crude apartments to save money for drugs. It is a sad story.

China has limited medical insurance. The cost of the drugs is driven up by multiple layres of distributors. People do not trust cheaper generics.

Again, it is a sad story.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 22 06:05 PM 
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2015 December 13 Sunday
Trump Does Not Need Media Support Or Help

David Roberts says the media don't like Trump because he does not need them.

Their trepidation has less to do with the fact of Trump lying than with the way he lies. They don't mind being properly lied to; it's all part of the game. What they cannot countenance is being rendered irrelevant. Trump is not kissing the ring. He barely bothers to spin the media. He does not need them, or give two shits what centrist pundits think. Their disapproval only strengthens him. Media gatekeepers are in danger of being exposed as impotent bystanders.

This is an article written from the Left. Roberts goes on to argue there is more lying emanating from the Right than the Left. That's hard to tell. Why: It is hard to tell whether tabula rasa Leftists believe what they say. Maybe they do. In that case they aren't lying but spew out a very high mix of inaccuracies. The Left is, relatively speaking, more detached from reality At least on the Right some dissident factions are clearly truth seekers and discussing reality. But the Left promotes a secular religion based on a mythology about human nature that is divorced from what we know about real humans.

Parenthetically, I am very curious to see how the Left handles the discoveries that are coming about human nature over the next 10 years. Some really big discoveries are in store because the cost of DNA sequencing has plunged orders of magnitude, putting a great many discoveries about cogntive function and genes within reach. What Judith Rich Harris explains in The Nurture Assumption will be demonstrated at the level of DNA sequences.

Another analysis of Trump from the Left by Jay Rosen. Along the way Rosen offers an explanation for why the press and campaign advisers all think the same way: “Institutional isomorphism”. They want to be able to move around to different organizations in their careers and so they all say similar things. Of course this makes the MSM and even Republican campaign consultants left-thinkers. What's great about Trump is that he doesn't need to make a career in politics or to hire mainstream campaign consultants or former reporters. If we had another dozen people in public life who were independent of the group think of the press our public debates would be a lot more real and we'd get a lot less group think propaganda.

If you are trying to figure out how Trump is managing to do so well then Dilbert creator Scott Adams has written some great stuff on the man Adams calls the Master Wizard and Master Persuader.

My sense of it is that the left-leaning media are now all in a big group think trying to figure out how to stop Trump. They would love to stick us with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Can a few of them get clever enough to find ways to neutralize his strengths? That's the thing to watch in the coming innings of this game.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 13 11:52 AM 
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2015 December 12 Saturday
Pay Diffs have grown Inter-firm, not Intra-firm

Some economists think that claimed growing wage differences between top executives and lower ranks are a myth. Within each firm wage differences haven't grown. The big growth in wage differences has happened between firms.

There are several potential explanations for these findings. One possibility is increased sorting: that is, perhaps, in the 1980s firms were employing workers from a broader set of skill levels but have become increasingly specialized over time, so that now firms employ workers from narrower skills groups. Therefore, some firms pay much higher average wages than before because their average worker quality has increased. And vice versa for firms that are now paying lower than before.2

A second potential explanation (which is not necessarily mutually exclusive with the first one) is growing productivity differentials across firms

My guess is there is much more cognitive sorting between firms. The smartest are getting concentrated into firms that do not hire so many people at lower cognitive levels. Look at the decrease in manual labor at manufacturing firms. Robots do more of the manufacturing and other work is done in less developed countries.

Even more, look at the software firms. They have much higher salaries for most of their workers and very few lower skilled workers. They outsource janitorial, building maintenance, and kitchen work. Also, the ranks of secretaries have been decimated by computer word processors, email, and other office automation software.

Is this useful knowledge? I suspect so. What to do about it? Switch to firms that pay more. Develop skills that will get you in the door at higher paying firms. Apply for jobs at places far from you if the local firms do not pay well.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 12 07:25 PM 
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Turkey Set Up Ambush For Russian Bombers?

Defense analyst Pierre Sprey, who was on the team which originally designed the F-16, lays out his reasoning for why he thinks the Turkish government plotted to take down a Russian bomber.

What is Erdogan's motive? Did Erdogan do this to shore up popular support by whipping up nationalist sentiment? That's probably part of it.

But another reason could be that Russia's bombers are disrupting supplies to ISIS that flow across the Turkish border with Syria in the area where the bomber was shot down. Read claims that Turkey allows supplies to flow to ISIS. Here is a fairly detailed list of allegations of different ways Turkey supplies ISIS (same here).

I still do not see an end game for the war in Syria. The Kurds are the most competent opposition to ISIS. But the Kurds are not eager to fight ISIS on territory which does not contain Kurdish villages. So the Kurds will advance only so far and stop. The Kurds won't try to close all Syrian border crossings with Turkey because Turks threaten to step in and stop them if they try.

Within the US many commentators about the Syria conflict quoted in the mass media have financial (and ethnic) interest that do not get reported along with their commentary. The various nations intervening in Syria also have a large assortment of interests in the Syria conflict. Turkey's interests are most complex with financial, religious, and ethnic interests at stake.

I see some interesting lessons from the Syria conflict:

  • Russia is the biggest (only?) defender of Christians in the Middle East. The United States shows no interest in their plight and US policies make Christians in the Middle East far worse off.
  • Kurdish nationalism is getting strengthened by events in Syria even more strongly than by events in Iraq. The Kurds have come back from near defeat in Kobani to carve out the Rojava region and have created a somewhat secular society, quite modern by Middle Eastern standards. Unfortunately, the Kurds aren't sufficiently numerous and able to make this into a large shift in the nature of Middle Eastern societies. Good for them but so what.
  • Angela Merkel really is bat shit crazy. Just from her response to the immigration surge from the Middle East and Africa that's obvious. But Merkel picks now to restart Turkey EU membership talks. Considering Turkey's role in Syria that's way crazy.
  • There are many conflicting interests in the Middle East and lots of countries are willing to use one country as a battle ground to fight over their conflicting interests.
  • Nothing is learned because faith in the West's secular religion among its elites is still unquestioned. Elites of Western countries have learned nothing so far about the threats to the sustainability of liberalism in Western countries, let alone learn why global liberal manifest destiny isn't in the cards.

Since moderate opposition continues to be an oxymoron in the Middle East and the West's elites are still in thrall to their secular religion the West lacks a coherent policy for the region.

By Randall Parker 2015 December 12 09:15 AM 
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