2013 January 29 Tuesday
Once Again Oppose Immigration Amnesty

Audacious Epigone has it right. This is insane. We have far far more high school drop-outs than we can possibly employ usefully. Demand for low skilled labor is dropping. US Senators should stop acting like morons and try thinking.

Having grown wary of this seemingly perennial amnesty push, I was at risk of apathy this time around, but tripe like the NPR segment has prodded me into action. I've contacted both my senators and my house member expressing my opposition to 'comprehensive' immigration reform. Pithily, I stated that unemployment is high, the need for low-skilled labor has never been lower, and a path to citizenship is a path to more Democratic voters (all three of my representatives are Republicans) with bastard children in one hand while the other hand stretches out to Uncle Sam.

If you're of a similar mind, please do the same. We've risen up and body-slammed the Establishment before. Let's do it again.

Pour on your derision. Rudely explain that you expect them to act in the interests of the nation and stop the influx of people who are a net detriment to those who are already here, especially our lower (and growing) classes.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 29 09:18 PM 
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Liberal Explains Why He Owns Guns

Novelist Justin Cronin owns a half dozen pistols. He's shopping for bigger weapons.

I AM a New England liberal, born and bred. I have lived most of my life in the Northeast — Boston, New York and Philadelphia — and my politics are devoutly Democratic. In three decades, I have voted for a Republican exactly once, holding my nose, in a mayoral election in which the Democratic candidate seemed mentally unbalanced.

I am also a Texas resident and a gun owner.

His thinking: He can't count on the police to be there when he or his family find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly in danger. That's the biggest argument for gun ownership. I'm thinking seriously that I've got to take the plunge. The latest DC liberal attempt at more gun control has me thinking if I wait too long ownership won't be possible. One thing I've noticed: a lot of sold out guns on gun store web sites. In liberal affluent Connecticut gun sales were up 71% in December 2012 from a year previous. Some guns are back-ordered 6 months.

The New York Times also recently ran a piece by a presumably liberal prepper who is afraid society could collapse.

MY OWN ATTEMPTS at prepping started at a point between the fall of Lehman Brothers and the corresponding rise of quantitative easing, when it occurred to me — as, of course, it did to many — that the financial system was appallingly unstable and that the realm of the possible now included a disruptive reduction in the value of our money.

I detect a growing liberal unease with the potential for quite substantial societal decay. This is an interesting development with important implications.

Fears of gun regulations might be serving a constructive purpose of making the citizenry much better armed. If we eventually go thru an Argentina-style financial panic and economic meltdown much more severe than 2008-2009 then an armed citizenry will help to maintain order.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 29 09:16 PM 
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2013 January 28 Monday
Has America Hit "Peak Jobs"?

Jon Evans argues America Has Hit “Peak Jobs”. That might be premature. The robot revolution doesn't seem like it is far enough along yet for that to happen. Though it is certainly true for some demographics. Notably, in 2012 employment declined for both high school dropouts and high school graduates. Also, more than half of all high school dropouts are not employed. Pay more attention to labor market participation rates than unemployment rates. The labor market participation rates tell a grimmer story.

My guess is there is a rising IQ threshold that divides those seeing net employment losses and those seeing net employment gains. Where is that threshold? Is it already above 100 IQ? How fast will the threshold rise?

There's not a simple working/unemployed threshold based solely on IQ. Obviously someone extremely motivated, conscientious, who feels a strong need to be productive, who accepts orders willingly, and who likes to work is going to be able to stay employed longer at an IQ level where most at the same IQ level are no longer working. Other attributes matter: luck, geographic location, health for example. But if we could make an accurate chart of IQ on the X axis and labor market participation rate on the Y axis we'd see a graph that rises towards the right, especially if those in school are removed from the calculations.

Jon Evans thinks we'll enter a post-scarcity society where people get paid to do not much of anything. I think this is a utopian view that ignores labor and capital mobility. Robot owners are going to need natural resources, wherever they happen to be. A country that does not have much in the way of natural resources could witness its wealthiest leaving to operate their robots wherever natural resources can be found. The natural resource owners and robot owners will have reason to trade with each other and with top scientists and engineers. They won't have much need for anyone else.

What will the superwealthy robot owners want? Nice climate. Physical safety. Rejuvenation therapies. Natural resources. Better robots and more advanced artificial intelligence. What won't they want? The vast bulk of the human race. The wealthy should start looking ahead to where they want to influence governments toward highly selective immigration policies so that the wealthy can have refuges in an overpopulated world with depleting natural resources.

This graph from the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics on education, income, and employment understates the extent of the change going on with IQ, training, and income. The unemployment rate is less important than the labor market participation rate. As mentioned above, over half of all high school dropouts do not work (at least not in legal work).

bureau_of_labor_stats_education_unemployment.gif

James J. Heckman and Paul A. LaFontaine pointed out in 2010 that the patterns by racial group aren't changing. Given America's demographic trends that does not bode well.

This paper applies a unified methodology to multiple data sets to estimate both the levels and trends in U.S. high school graduation rates. We establish that (a) the true rate is substantially lower than widely used measures; (b) it peaked in the early 1970s; (c) majority/minority differentials are substantial and have not converged for 35 years; (d) lower post-1970 rates are not solely due to increasing immigrant and minority populations; (e) our findings explain part of the slowdown in college attendance and rising college wage premiums; and (f) widening graduation differentials by gender help explain increasing male-female college attendance gaps.

The demand for high school drop-outs is on the wane. Supply looks robust and growing. Those who want cheap gardening services should be happy. Those who pay property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and other taxes far in excessive of services received should be worried. Those who are paying about as much in taxes as they get in services: that'll change as your services get cut and your tax load increases.

Will the most productive escape the growing clutches of the least productive and negatively productive? How's this going to play out?

By Randall Parker 2013 January 28 08:32 PM 
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2013 January 27 Sunday
Talented People Leave Great Britain

Brain drain from Britain.

Office for National Statistics figures obtained by Mr de Bois show that in the ten years to 2011, a total of 3,599,000 people permanently left the UK.

A small percentage were retirees. Most were between 25 and 44 years old. I bet they are more educated than the average Brit who stayed. After all, legal immigration into most countries is skills-based. Australia and New Zealand are the most popular destinations.

The Labour Party's leader apologizes for being too easy on immigrants. Whereas in America the Democratic Party pretends that immigrants are an unalloyed benefit.

Ed Miliband has suggested he could limit foreigners’ rights to benefits in the UK as he apologised for Labour’s failures on immigration.

It is very reasonable and entirely moral to want to regulate who gets to immigrate into a country. It is very reasonable and entirely moral to set the regulations on immigrants in order to benefit the people who already are citizens of a country.

America's immigration policy is unlikely to improve. So mentally I've moved on. What we need: A country where only talented people can go.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 27 08:17 PM 
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2013 January 26 Saturday
Marco Rubio's Plan To Further Impoverish The Lower Classes

James Antle III asks Will Marco Rubio's immigration reform win Hispanics for the GOP--or just impoverish working Americans? The correct answer: Just impoverish working Americans.

Rubio joins the Democrats in the pursuit of their goal of a greater surplus of lower skilled workers. The wages of the lower skilled and less able members of society haven't declined far enough.

Rubio sounds like a Bozo. As Daniel Larison explains, Rubio is also associating himself with Bush, McCain, and the neocons in foreign policy.

Since he first arrived in the Senate, Rubio has been going out of his way to associate himself with McCain and Graham to the point that he has become something of a caricature of a Republican interventionist. This could be proof that “the neocons appear to be more firmly in control than ever,” as Heilbrunn says, but it may also be that Rubio is miscalculating and letting his ideology get the better of him.

How the worst Republic Presidential candidates should dress: Bozo the Clown!

By Randall Parker 2013 January 26 08:32 PM 
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Marco Rubio'

James Antle III asks Will Marco Rubio's immigration reform win Hispanics for the GOP--or just impoverish working Americans? The correct answer: Just impoverish working Americans.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 26 07:56 PM 
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Is Inequality Holding Back Economic Recovery?

Left-leaning economist Joseph Stiglitz has an opinion piece in the New York Times: Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery.

You might scoff at this argument. But it just dawned on me: He's right at a very high level. What holds us back? An unfair inequality of ability. We have a small number of people who have very high IQs and a very large number of people with much lower IQs. This inequality of ability is holding back recovery. If everyone had, say, a 140 IQ our economy would be humming along. So many people would be making scientific discoveries and coming up with great technical innovations that the economy would be growing like a bad out of hell.

So I have a complaint for Barack Obama: Why haven't you closed the IQ gap by boosting everyone up to 140 IQ? Why are you letting people be held back by a lack of ability? Why haven't you designed an educational program that boosts the IQ of everyone? Surely you don't believe these people with lower IQs are that way do to innate abilities. So surely you must know a way to boost everyone's ability. So do it. End the inequality of ability. How can you tolerate it?

By Randall Parker 2013 January 26 12:47 PM 
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North Koreans Will Kill You For Questioning Their Peacefulness

On Vanity Fair Juli Weiner captures the essence of the North Korean government's glorious rhetorical flourishes. Peaceful North Korean People Will Go to War If Their Peacefulness Is Questioned Again!

We have been fighting North Korea for centuries. Why has this been kept from us?

"Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words," said Thursday's statement from the National Defense Commission, which promised "a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century."

The United States was secretly created centuries ago by Freemasons in order to fight North Korea. The Freemasons decided to organize the American Revolution in order to scale up US ability to fight North Korea. But in a previous life Kim Jong-un foiled the evil American plot against the glorious Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 26 12:26 PM 
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Economic Growth Went Into Reverse 10 Years Ago?

Tim Morgan of broker Tullett Prebon lays out an argument for why economic growth has stopped and reversed in some Western countries and why it may go into long term reverse.

This report is not, primarily, about debt, and neither does it suggest that the problems identified here are unique to the United States. Rather, the massive escalation in American indebtedness is one amongst a host of indicators of a state of mind which has elevated immediate consumption over prudence throughout much of the world.

This report explains that we need only look beyond the predominant short-termism of contemporary thinking to perceive that we are at the confluence of four extremely dangerous developments which, individually or collectively, have already started to throw more than two centuries of economic expansion into reverse.

Before the financial crisis of 2008, this analysis might have seemed purely theoretical, but the banking catastrophe, and the ensuing slump, should demonstrate that the dangerous confluence described here is already underway. Indeed, more than two centuries of near-perpetual growth probably went into reverse as much as ten years ago.

Declining EROEI (energy return on energy invested) is the most important element of his argument:

The killer factor is the non-linear nature of EROEIs. As fig. 1.5 shows, the effects of a fall-off in EROEI from, say, 80:1 to 20:1 do not seem particularly disruptive but, once returns ratios have fallen below about 15:1, there is a dramatic, ‘cliff-edge’ slump in surplus energy, combined with a sharp escalation in its cost.

Research set out in this report suggests that the global average EROEI, having fallen from about 40:1 in 1990 to 17:1 in 2010, may decline to just 11:1 by 2020, at which point energy will be about 50% more expensive, in real terms, than it is today, a metric which will carry through directly into the cost of almost everything else – including food.

Since I've been reading The Oil Drum for years these arguments are not new to me. If EROEI is new to you or if you want to read a finance guy's take on the implications of declining EROEI this report is quite interesting. The future trends in EROEI will determine the rate at which living standards decline in the United States. This is one of the reasons why I find mainstream inside-the-beltway DC political debate so irrelevant. The problems facing America (e.g. rising oil extraction costs, demographic decline, less low hanging fruit for innovation) are off the table for those who debate within the bounds defined by what is politically correct.

Also see a couple of Economist posts on the debt crisis and Tim Morgan's report.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 26 11:35 AM 
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2013 January 25 Friday
Audacious Epigone: Rates Of Unsolved Murder By State

Audacious Epigone has an excellent chart Rates of unsolved murder by state. Check it out.

That chart is a pretty good guide on where to be WTSHTF. Adjust for population densities, agricultural potential, and closeness to worse neighboring states (or countries).

While Nebraska and Kansas are lower than the national average their rates of unsolved murders are still 4-5 times that of glorious North Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho. Why is that?

Aud also takes a look at who owns guns. I am thinking I ought to buy one because I expect some day they'll become both harder to buy and quite necessary to own. My main fear is an economic calamity along the lines of Argentina's economic collapse where suddenly crime rates skyrocket. Under such conditions a home in a small town in Idaho with a few guns would offer substantial security advantages.

BTW, the push by California Senator Dianne Feinstein et. al. to ban lots of guns has had the effect of causing lots of guns to sell out. I've visited some online gun stores that list most of their Glock pistols as sold out. I hope this latest attempt to block gun sales fails and the manufacturers can catch up with orders.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 25 09:57 PM 
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2013 January 23 Wednesday
Good News About Women In Combat Roles

The Obama Administration has found a way to reduce our willingness to fight foolish wars in the Middle East: By lifting the ban on women in combat the Obama Administration will invoke instinctual desires to protect women. This will reduce popular support for foolish war ideas put forth by the neocons. What's not to like?

File this under: stupid liberal ideas that accidentally deliver big benefits.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 23 09:58 PM 
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2013 January 22 Tuesday
British Prime Minister: In/Out Vote On EU Membership

David Cameron wants to renegotiate British membership terms in the European Union and then hold a popular vote on the new terms.

“And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum.

Cameron is taking the position that Britain should not leave the EU, but rather negotiate terms that take back some power from Brussels. Others in his cabinet would like to exit now or just have a vote now.

The British are fortunate that they never adopted the Euro. That makes an EU exit much easier. Plus, the Euro sovereign debt crisis hasn't hit them as hard as it otherwise would have. Greece and Spain both have unemployment rates over 26% while Ireland is at 14.6%. Ireland's unemployment rate decline is partly due to emigration. Britain's unemployment level is 11.5%.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 22 10:08 PM 
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2013 January 21 Monday
Man Wins Suit Was Tricked Into Raising Babies Not His Own

Richard Rodwell wins a civil suit in Britain for being tricked into raising kids not really his own.

A husband has won £25,000 in damages for “bereavement” after his wife tricked him into believing children whom he raised until they were teenagers were his rather than the products of affairs.

The £25,000 seems like small potatoes considering the time and money involved. Guys, get your babies genetically tested by a company like 23andme.com. Don't wait to make a big investment in time and money. Find out right away. It is a prudent thing to do anyway just in case of genetic defects that need medical treatment.

Update: Paternity testing should be required.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 21 09:01 PM 
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Leading CEOs: Raise Retirement Age

People are living longer. To pay for it all people are going to have to work longer. The sooner we start raising retirement eligibility ages the less painful it'll be. If we don't do it sooner retirement ages will be raised in a hurry when US sovereign debt goes so high that it causes a financial panic.

A group of the country’s leading CEOs from the Business Roundtable has put out an entitlement reform plan that proposes to raise the eligibility age for both Social Security and Medicare to 70.

The Medicare change will be especially hard on people in their late 60s because most people in America get their medical insurance through their job. For those can't manage to stay employed in their late 60s, let alone in a job that provides medical insurance, the price of medical insurance will be too much for many. That pushes lots of people into Medicaid. So what to do? We need to make medical insurance with high deductibles combined with savings accounts the preferred way to save toward medical costs in old age. The medical savings accounts could bridge the gap for those in their 60s who need money to pay for medical care.

The medical savings accounts do not go far enough. What's also needed: the ability to buy medical insurance years in advance of when the policy would first be usable. In your 40s and 50s be able to pay toward a medical insurance policy that won't kick in till your 60s.

At the other end of the working age range we could also increase the number of people working. See my post Accelerate Education To Increase Tax Revenue, Reduce Costs.

Update: If we did not spend so much money on Medicare we could take a very small fraction of what goes into Medicare and double spending on medical research. Instead medical research spending has been cut. Getting expensive treatments for incurable diseases does less for us than medical research. Yet we spend very little on medical research as compared to medical care.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 21 08:23 PM 
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Neocons Oppose Chuck Hagel: Probably Good SecDef Choice

At The American Conservative Philip Giraldi looks at the neocon enemies of Chuck Hagel's nomination as Defense Secretary. I'd like to thank the neocons for letting me know that Chuck Hagel has the right stuff to be SecDef.

More recently, however, critics have taken to characterizing Hagel’s strengths as weaknesses. One of the most unusual pieces to take that line was an op-ed in The Washington Post by leading neoconservative Eliot A. Cohen, “Hagel’s military service is a scant qualification for defense secretary,” which was then essentially replayed by Jennifer Rubin on her Post blog as “Old soldiers don’t make for good Pentagon chiefs,” lest anyone miss the point.

The United States of America can not afford its current military or its current entitlements programs. The people who want to use the United States to pursue their own foreign interests do not want to accept that.

What's especially foolish about the interventionists is that they exaggerate what the US could achieve abroad even if it had an extra trillion dollars a year to spend on foreign interventions. It is not in the range of morally acceptable by today's mainstream moral sensibilities for the US military to set up the US as a colonial power to give some other nation the quality of government needed to make a substantially positive difference. Plus, even if the US was willing to intervene and set up a full on colonial administration (and e.g. Haiti would benefit from nothing less) the reasons lots of countries are messed up are so baked in that a large positive net effect is still against the odds.

Furthermore, the United States can not reengineer the Arab countries to make them friendly to Israel. So the biggest goal of the neocons isn't attainable. Even worse for the neocons, US support for Arab democracies produces elected Islamist regimes which are then harder to buy off with US foreign aid.

The folly of the neocons is mind boggling. For my peace of mind I've lost my interest in US foreign policy follies in the Middle East and Africa. The US has such big (and seemingly intractable) domestic problems that I'm pretty well diverted away from thinking about foreign follies.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 21 06:55 PM 
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2013 January 19 Saturday
American College Freshman Deluded About Their Abilities

Excessive optimism is baked into our genes. It is a pervasive problem that causes false predictions. But cultural influences that used to moderate it now amplify it. In Lake Woebegone America all kids are far above average.

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.

The self esteem movement has amplified an already big problem. Optimism bias is built into our nature. This is now amplified by the forces of political correctness against low assessments of a person's ability. We need the ability to call people on their deficiencies, weaknesses, shortcomings, and moral failings. "Lazy" is a label that should be handed out a lot more. Labels that should be passed out only very rarely: bright, exceptional, gifted.

Kids need to be told that they need to work hard. They need to be told realistically (based on IQ and other tests) what each of them, based on their psychometric measures, can hope to become if they work hard. And another thing: Montessori schools can not make dumb kids creative geniuses.

What I wonder: Do social media make it easier for people to segregate by IQ level and also by political persuasion so that the deluded are less likely to come into contact with people who will explain to them why they are wrong? Is the Dunning Kruger Effect getting amplified by technology?

Also, is politically correct blank slate liberalism creating a protective shell of feel good deluded pap around people's delusions? Has the very erroneous tabula rasa view of the mind (a.k.a. the Standard Social Science Model - really, academic social science is that bad) caused kids to be taught falsehoods about their potential that serve as the foundations of their delusions? I mean, who today is going to tell a kid he or she is not smart enough to become a rocket scientist or a medical doctor or a captain of industry? Who is going to steer less than super bright kids toward occupations that they are actually capable of mastering? The colleges today remind me of Bob Dylan's song It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won

Today it is the colleges that are the master con artists, luring each new crop of marks with the promise of unattainable goals.

Mangan thinks smaller families are one of the causes of narcissism.

Smaller families have ensured that parents treat each one of its little members as precious snowflakes; liberal parenting styles make parents believe that enforcing discipline and responsibility is an infringement on the precious ones' "rights"; schools are unable to enforce discipline for fear of lawsuits and, lately, disparate impact.

I worry that disparate impact doctrine will substantially grow as a source of drag on the efficiency of schools, workplaces, and law enforcement. We'll get lower productivity in schools and in workplaces. This will lower living standards. We'll get more crime as laws can't be enforced in proportion to who commits the crimes. What I wonder: Can clever elites work around disparate impact enforcement as they do in very liberal and very upper class Manhattan?

I expect much more disparate impact enforcement in the future. Since our liberals aren't on the verge of becoming honest about human differences a lot hinges on their ability to avoid damage to major institutions due to disparate impact. My guess is that they'll fail. Their local successes (e.g. Manhattan) will be outweighed by many losses elsewhere. Governments will surely become less competent.

Mangan thinks the narcissism is supported by high living standards. Median US household income peaked in 1999 and we are all the way back to 1995 for living standards, albeit with broadband access, cool smartphones and tablets. I expect further declines in US living standards due to immigration, natural resource limitations, and the budget and trade deficits. A lot of income from government comes from borrowed money. We can't sustain our current living standards.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 19 04:50 PM 
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Thought Criminals And Foster Children

The divisions If you want Great Britain to remain an independent state then you are a thought criminal in Rotherham (and no doubt lots of other places).

A disturbing example of Orwellian thought-crime recently caused some consternation in Britain. A married couple in the northern English town of Rotherham, who had foster-parented three migrant children—one a baby—lost the kids to the local Labour authority because they were members of the small but growing U.K. Independence Party. The UKIP advocates for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and for a restrictive immigration policy.

There was no indication that the couple, who had a history of successful fostering, was doing anything other than providing a stable and happy home for these children. The Rotherham council based its decision solely on the foster parents’ UKIP membership and hence their perceived views.

I really wish it was practical for the Left and Right to secede into separate nations. The Left's moral delegitimization of the Right has reached a point where I do not want to be in the same country as the Left. They've become too oppressive as well as destructive to the health of society.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 19 04:12 PM 
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2013 January 14 Monday
Well Liked People Can Throw Others Under The Bus

Lance Armstrong is going to testify against others involved in bicycle sports doping.

Acknowledging his doping past has cleared the way for Armstrong to take the next step in trying to mitigate his lifetime ban from Olympic sports. He is planning to testify against several powerful people in the sport of cycling who knew about his doping and possibly facilitated it, said several people with knowledge of the situation.

He derived far more benefit from this activity than the people he will testify against. Think about it.

My advice: do not help famous and popular people engaged in some questionable activity. You are far more at risk than they are and they won't hesitate to turn on you.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 14 09:07 PM 
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Chuck Hagel Not Crazy And Foolish Enough To Be SecDef?

It isn't worth much time to follow closely Obama's nomination of former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel's nomination for US Secretary of Defense. But it has some entertaining angles. While Chuck Hagel favors "a very careful decision-making process" if he's using one he's certainly not using it well. Doug Bandow points out some of Hagel's past positions. Yet these bad decisions are not enough for the Middle Eastern perpetual war camp.

He later explained to Vietnam magazine: “I believe in using force, but only after a very careful decision-making process.” Nor is the former Senator a noninterventionist like Ron Paul. He backed Bill Clinton’s counterproductive attack on Serbia and George W. Bush’s disastrous Iraq misadventure and supported John McCain for president in 2000.

However, unlike the Neoconservatives who dominated the Bush administration, Hagel opposed perpetual war.

My take on US foreign adventures:

  • If we are in it for the oil then why not just spend the money on hybrids, EVs, ground sink heat pumps, and bicycles?
  • If we are in it for anti-terrorism why not change our immigration policy and help Middle Eastern governments track down their revolutionary opponents? Most of the governments don't want jihadists running around either as they expect the jihadists to try to overthrow them.
  • If we want compliant governments then stop helping Islamists overthrow dictatorships. The Islamists win in the general elections and are much more hostile to the US than are the dictators.
  • If our primary goal is to protect Israel (and competing theories don't seem to make sense) then why not listen more closely to the Israelis than their supporters in America? The Israelis are more sane and realistic.

The unsound mind of John McCain opposes Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

While “the friendship, I hope, is still there,” Mr. McCain said, he remained worried about Mr. Hagel’s “overall attitude about the United States, our role in the world, particularly in the Middle East, and whether we should reduce the Pentagon further.”

Figure out on any subject which faction is most deranged. In America every faction is deranged about something.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 14 09:06 PM 
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2013 January 13 Sunday
Need To Sabotage A Relationship?

It is valuable to collect techniques for dealing with other people. You never know when you might need to change how someone else thinks and behave. With that thought in mind, an article by Eric Barker provides 4 behaviors by a partner in a marriage that indicate the marriage will end:

  • Criticism.
  • Contempt.
  • Defensiveness.
  • Stonewalling.

So I'm thinking: Do people do this intentionally as a way to get the other member of a couple to end the relationship? The person who gets the divorce papers handed to them can then portray themselves as the victim. How often does that happen?

Contempt (e.g. mockery, eye-rolling) is most powerful. Why? It tells the receiver you feel disgust.

You might then think that you should avoid showing disgust if you want to stay out of divorce court. But there's a cost to not showing sincerely felt disgust. Disgust suppressed finds other outlets and causes continuing negative emotions.

Subjects who were asked to suppress their disgust when shown images of, for example, a dirty toilet or a film depicting an amputation were able to do so. ‘But the emotion then found its way into the open through other channels’, says Grob. ‘At the cognitive level, they began to think about disgusting things much more often and also felt much more negatively about other issues. The same phenomenon occurs in a situation where you are not allowed to think of something, say a white bear. Precisely because you are trying to suppress that thought, it becomes hyperaccessible’.

Of course, if you just do not get married in the first place you can more assuredly avoid divorce court.

What I'm curious to know: How often do either men or women sabotage their relationship with the above techniques so they can get the other person to end it?

By Randall Parker 2013 January 13 04:57 PM 
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2013 January 12 Saturday
Beijing Air Quality Highly Toxic

The US embassy in Beijing has an air quality monitoring device on its roof. The scale is supposed to stop at 500 with anything above 300 considered hazardous. The US embassy just reported 755. It has since gone higher than the NYTimes reported. From the Beijing US Embassy's air quality twitter feed here's a higher peak at 845 or is it 755? Anyone know how to read it?

01-12-2013 20:00; PM2.5; 886.0; 755; Beyond Index

The 755 might be the ozone number.

Do not live in Beijing. If you find the career advantages of some time in Beijing to be too great to turn down get a really good air filtration system. The hard part is getting a system that can remove the smallest particulates. The smaller they are the harder they are to remove.

One wonders what Western corps do about their air filtration and whether their employees get air filtration systems at home.

What I'd like to know: how well can air filtration systems filter out smaller particulates? How much dangerous stuff can get thru a HEPA filter?

By Randall Parker 2013 January 12 09:14 PM 
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2013 January 08 Tuesday
Online Maps Of Gun Owners Hurt Or Help Gun Owners?

An online map of gun owners in suburbs of New York City is said to make the jobs of burglars easier by letting them know for which houses the owners won't confront them with a gun. Some gun owners are angry. But look at it rationally: The map has reduced the odds that the gun owners will be victims of burglars or anyone who might want to enter their houses to attack them.

In a nutshell: an online map of gun owners is an incentive to own a gun. Not owning a gun then becomes riskier.

I am practical about this: Beretta or Glock? What to buy?

By Randall Parker 2013 January 08 10:12 PM 
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Online Learning Continues Fast Growth

The online learning site Coursera is taking off.

The co-founders, computer science professors at Stanford University, watched with amazement as enrollment passed two million last month, with 70,000 new students a week signing up for over 200 courses, including Human-Computer Interaction, Songwriting and Gamification, taught by faculty members at the company’s partners, 33 elite universities.

This is happening just in time as the threshold for employability is rising. Start preparing now for unstable employment and a declining demand for many kinds of labor. Seriously, if you are currently employed it would be far eaiser to prepare now for your eventual change in employment and even in occupation and career for many.

Academia is next in line to get hit by (a long overdue) massive restructuring. People experiencing declining living standards increasingly can't afford to send their kids to colleges which are going to send those kids out into the workforce heavily indebted.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 08 09:45 PM 
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US High School Graduates Experienced Net Job Loss In 2012

Be warned: The threshold for employability is rising. High school graduates and high school drop-outs had substantial net job losses in 2011, and high school graduates did in 2012. Those with college educations experienced net job gains.

What I want to know: What is the IQ threshold below which employment is dropping in the United States? What's that threshold in other countries? How fast is the threshold rising?

At any given IQ level there will be winners and lowers. You can move yourself away from the unemployable and underemployed categories by gaining more useful skills. Even at an IQ of 90 some are managing to stay employed by developing skills that have some demand. You can take whatever your IQ level is and learn some of the most valuable skills your intelligence enables you to learn. You'll stay viable longer and make more money.

My advice: Use what IQ you've got. Get yourself to Coursera and start learning something useful.

You've got to raise your game. The median US household income is now back to the level it was at in 1995. In 2011 only the top fifth saw income gains. Get yourself into the top fifth. The ranks of the losers is far larger than the ranks of the winners. This isn't 1950s or 1960s America any more. Rising living standards are a thing of the past. If you want to at least break even you've got to rise above the masses. Go learn.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 08 09:04 PM 
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2013 January 05 Saturday
The Stupidification Of Math Teaching In America

It seems like the United States already has enough reasons to have a stagnant economy with declining living standards. We don't need any more reasons to decay. But the forces lined up on the side of decay keep looking bigger the closer I look. The US National Science Foundation funded the development of new ways to teach math. The new ways are retarded. The kids are taught less effective ways to do the most basic operations like multiplication. Really. Read the whole thing.

One teacher tried to explain the new method. "It used to be that if you missed a concept or method in math, then you were lost for the rest of the year. But the way we do it now, kids have a lot of ways to do things, like adding and subtracting, so that math topics from day to day aren't dependent on kids' mastering a previous lesson."

This was my initiation into the world of reform math. It is a world where understanding takes precedence over procedure and process trumps content. In this world, memorization is looked down upon as "rote learning" and thus addition and subtraction facts are not drilled in the classroom--it's something for students to learn at home. Inefficient methods for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are taught in the belief that such methods expose the conceptual underpinning of what is happening during these operations. The standard (and efficient) methods for these operations are delayed sometimes until 4th and 5th grades, when students are deemed ready to learn procedural fluency.

Why are such stupid ideas repeatedly tried in American high schools and grade schools? Here are theories:

  • Since university education departments attract dumber faculty and students than other departments it is a matter of the dumb leading the dumber. An obvious solution would be to abolish education departments in colleges and universities. Cut out the cancer.
  • Yet another stupid reaction to the denial of the findings of psychometric research about IQ differences. Since lower IQ kids can't be taught to do math as well as higher IQ kids blame the teaching method and try a different (albeit stupid) method.
  • Another leftist variation of the Rousseau Noble Savage idea where the mind is given more credit for wisdom to discover the truth if just freed from patriarchial oppressive regimentation.

Leftists in America try to paint the American Right as anti-knowledge and anti-reason. Yet skepticism toward academia is healthy and useful. Some academic disciplines (e.g. sociology, education) build up theories based on very wrong assumptions about human nature. Their studies are poorly constructed and they do a bad job of analyzing their data. They suffer from a bad case of confirmation bias.

We need much more online education in order to give the buyers many more choices that allow them to avoid the worst of American education. We can not expect existing institutions to repair themselves. We need to avoid them and work around them.

Update: how math gets "taught":

By Randall Parker 2013 January 05 06:09 PM 
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2013 January 02 Wednesday
Are You Preparing For Unstable Employment?

Maybe are aren't preparing for it because you are already experiencing unstable employment. So you are reacting to it rather than preparing for it. But reacting to it means you have fewer options for dealing with it and a more urgent need to deal with it.

If you are not dealing with unstable employment by preparation or reaction why not? You think you are immune? Unless you are either wealthy or retired with a great pension or have an extremely secure job you are not immune. So what are you going to do about it?

My take: you need to overshoot the level you want to reach. You need more skills, more successes, more money saved, a bigger reputation, and more connections than your desires for physical goods requires. You need to overshoot because the economy can deliver a pretty big blow to whatever level you've arrived at. Got technical skills? You can find them made obsolete by technological advances. Working in some industry as a medium or high level executive or marketer? Your industry could get gutted by foreign competition or new goods that render it irrelevant.

Look at watches: people aren't wearing watches as much because they look at the time on their phone. News reporters: road kill to craigslist and other internet advertising and information services. Are you a young truck driver? You aren't going to retire as one. Robotic vehicles are going to lay off cabbies, bus drivers, long haul truck drivers, and even quite a few bulldozer and backhoe operators.

Farming has already shrunk to a very small fraction of what it used to be. But it will shrink far more. Tractors will drive themselves and even refuel themselves. Crop picking will be automated. Mining is a similar story as Caterpillar and Komatsu produce autonomous mining vehicles.

My advice: Start training for your next job. Start saving for your next period of unemployment.

By Randall Parker 2013 January 02 10:42 PM 
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2013 January 01 Tuesday
Female Sex Therapist Peddles The "Too Scared To Commit" Myth

A book entitled The Men on My Couch promotes a recurring female myth about men.

The sex secrets of New York men reveal them to be a collection of neurotic, insecure, unfeeling perverts, too scared to commit to a relationship with someone they care for.

According to Big Apple sex therapist Dr. Brandy Engler, who has listened to the psychological issues of the men-folk of New York for seven-years, serial cheating, porn addiction and soliciting prostitutes are all symptoms of an inability to settle down in the big smoke.

Granted some of these guys might be scared of getting shafted in divorce court. But the "scared to commit" myth is propagated by women who don't want to face the biggest sexual instinct in men: the desire for variety.

Scared? Sure, scared of being trapped in a sex-less marriage.

“The number one complaint from men about women in long-term relationships is, ‘I don’t feel appreciated,’ ” Engler told The Post. “Men are looking for some expression that they are valued.”

Once married lots of women get fat or lose their interest in sex or both. Men want more sex than women do. A guy doesn't have to be scared of marriage to see that's a bad deal. As for serial cheating: it takes two to tango. Who ever are the cheating guys cheating with?

By Randall Parker 2013 January 01 11:39 AM 
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