2013 June 30 Sunday
Obama Insider Threat Program Aimed At Leakers

Government workers encouraged to report on each other. Reminds me of stories of people reporting on each other in East Germany under the communists.

The program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations of loyal Americans, according to these current and former officials and experts. Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

Agencies are using this program to suppress leaking of unclassified information.

The article has an interesting side chart about how leaking due to allegiances to a separate country or cause have more than doubled since 1990. But this is the logical result of policies the Cathedral supports: anti-nationalism, pro-globalism, multi-culturalism, immigration. People feel less loyal to a system that is less loyal to them. People who came from somewhere else, and even their children, identify with their country of origin. When identity as Americans takes 3rd place over other identities the national security bureaucracy, no doubt committed to diverse hiring practices, has to start treating its workforce as enemies.

Obama's Insider Threat Program, much like the extensive NSA spying, seem like symptoms of a country that is shifting from a high trust to a low trust culture with fewer shared loyalties and less shared identity.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 30 09:50 PM 
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2013 June 29 Saturday
Arab Spring Unleashes Illiberal Repressive Masses

A big Blue Pill vendor is confused. Read this New York Times editorial on the failure of Arab Spring to unleash (supposedly suppressed) forces of tolerance and freedom.

Even in a region where violence has become all too commonplace, the killing of four Shiite men in Egypt last weekend seemed particularly vicious. According to news reports, a cheering Sunni Muslim mob armed with clubs, swords and machetes raided a house in a Cairo suburb where about 30 people were marking a religious festival and beat, stabbed and lynched the four men. Video footage showed the victims’ bodies, bloodied and motionless, being dragged through the streets. Among those killed was a prominent Shiite cleric, Hassan Shehata.

Given that 84% of Egyptian Muslims favor death for those who leave Islam it is hard to see an elected Sunni Muslim Brotherhood theocracy and its subjects should be expected to be tolerant toward religious minorities. Middle Eastern populations are notable for their illiberalism. So how to explain the Western left's embrace of multi-culturalism?

Arab Spring unleashed the majority masses to repress religious minorities.

At the onset of the Arab Spring in late 2010 and early 2011, many world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, expressed hope that the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa would lead to greater freedoms for the people of the region, including fewer restrictions on religious beliefs and practices. But a new study by the Pew Research Center finds that the region’s already high overall level of restrictions on religion – whether resulting from government policies or from social hostilities – continued to increase in 2011.

Before the Arab Spring, government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion were higher in the Middle East and North Africa than in any other region of the world.1 Government restrictions in the region remained high in 2011, while social hostilities markedly increased. For instance, the number of countries in the region experiencing sectarian or communal violence between religious groups doubled from five to 10.

Fundamental tenets of the left's secular faith are based on falsehoods about humanity.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 29 01:27 PM 
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2013 June 28 Friday
A Liberal Case Against Low Skilled Immigration

You might find it hard to believe that just a few decades ago the Democratic Party represented the interests of the lower and middle classes as economic classes. Now a liberal feels need to explain why he's speaking heresy on a subject where the Democratic Party has abandoned economic interests in favor of ethnic interests. Writing in the New Republic liberal T.A. Frank lays out why he turned against the left's view on immigration.

All in all, I became convinced that high levels of low-skill immigration are good for wealthy Americans and bad for poor Americans. Far more important, high levels of illegal immigration—when you start to get into the millions, as we have—undermines unions and labor standards, lowers wages, heightens social tensions, strains state budgets, widens income inequality, subverts the rule of law, and exacerbates class divides.

He notices that open borders are not compatible with the welfare state. Milton Friedman understood this. Open Borders Libertarians are in denial of the end game for what they are advocating. Frank recognizes the problem:

And generous social benefits cannot coexist with an open border. (Nor can a more egalitarian society.)

Liberals haven't figured out yet that with immigration they are winning a very Pyrrhic victory. They are going totally defeat Republicans the voting booth with rising numbers of lower class immigrants who will faithfully vote for donkeys. But the liberals aren't going to get enough tax revenue to pay for an extensive welfare state that their majority voters will support. We will end up with higher taxes, lower wages for the lower classes, and lower welfare benefits per person.

The Libertarians are worse. Most of them deny the threat that Open Borders poses to their freedoms. Even more insane, Don Boudreaux would rather lose his own freedom than give up his secular faith. Secular faith is worse than supernatural faith because of the resulting need to create a utopia in this world which is bound to fail

I still support open immigration. I cannot bring myself to abandon support of my foundational principles just because following those principles might prove fatal. I cannot tolerate state power to interfere with my and others’ freedom of association, and with people’s freedom of migration, on the grounds that scaling back such state power might lead to more state power wielded in other dimensions.

I can remember when I wanted my values to be accepted by all and for those values to be the right values. I remember when I thought there was something exalted in holding onto values and beliefs that led me to support policies to bring about a this-world utopia. I gave up those beliefs because I decided they amounted to an immature and doomed rebellion against physical laws. I did not want to advocate for policies that would make society worse.

I think secular faiths are worse than supernatural faiths because their strongest believers are much more eager to create a utopia in this world. They'll make huge irrational and destructive bets in this world in order to create their utopia. By contrast, believers in supernatural utopias often accept that utopia is for the afterlife. They have less need for impractical idealism in this life.

The Open Borders advocates miss big violations of rights already in American society. Boudreaux already tolerates state power to interfere with freedom of association on a massive scale. America's labor laws, especially the racial preferences laws and regulations, are a massive interference with freedom of association. Why aren't libertarians bent out of shape by this? Because they let liberals define many moral issues.

Getting back to you and your life: I think the middle class hasn't really internalized the impact on them from the demographic transformation of America due immigration. Do not wait until it is too late before you figure out what it means for your retirement. In a nutshell: Old age entitlements promises will be partially reneged upon. Old age benefits will have to be cut to fund benefits for growing numbers of younger poor people.

The shrinking middle class will need to work longer. So I repeat my advice: pursue a career strategy that will keep you employed longer. Another idea: find another country to live in. I can't say I see a good alternative yet. But many changes in the US will certainly reduce the advantages of being an American.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 28 07:57 PM 
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2013 June 23 Sunday
International Crime Rates: Where Not To Vacation

Check out this Wikipedia page on global high crime cities by murder rate in 2011.

What is interesting about it: 20 Latin American cities have higher murder rates than the worst American city (which in 2011 apparently was New Orleans). Then 8 more Latin American cities (including San Juan Puerto Rico) before Detroit at position 30. The position of San Juan highlights how invisible Puerto Rico is to Americans even though it is a US territory. We hear a great deal about the worst American cities. But San Juan? Nope.

Mexico has 9 cities more dangerous than Detroit. Juarez (147.77 murders per 100,000), Acapulco (127.92 murders per 100,000; change your vacation plans), Torreon (87.75), Chihuahua, Durango, Curiacan, Mazatlan, Tepic, and Veracruz. Hey, I think I'll vacation in New Zealand (0.9) or Australia (1.0) or incredibly safe Polynesia (0.4). Hong Kong (0.2), Singapore (0.3), Japan (0.4), or Iceland (0.3). Check out that Wikipedia page. Use it to plan your vacations. Honduras at 91.6 murders per 100,000 is the worst. Western Europe (around 0.9) is pretty safe. Chinese countries (1 or lower) are safe. It is a shame that the Americas are so dangerous since they are close by. Forget Jamaica (40.9) and US Virgin Islands (39.2). Venezuela (45.1) is even worse. Ecuador (18.2) has less than half the murder rate of Venezuela but still very high. Edward Snowden would be better off in Ecuador.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 23 08:58 PM 
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America's 10 Most Dangerous Cities

It is important to know where to stay away from. Flint is most dangerous measured by overall violent crime. I am surprised at how high up Stockton California is on that list. The lists differ depending on what they measure. By overall crime rate Detroit wins top spot. The criminals of Detroit are overall strong players. By murder rate Flint is tops with Newark NJ, Jackson Miss, and Baton Rouge Louisiana making the list. But the top competitors for murder and violence are in a pretty tight competition. In 2011 New Orleans had the highest murder rate and it was in second place for overall violent crime. But Toledo had the highest burglary rate in spite of having a fifth of Detroit's murder rate.

Keep in mind that overall violent crime and other forms of crime are measured less accurately than murder. At least in New York City incentives on the police to under-report crime are probably distorting the official figures. For innocent people the murder rate is a less than ideal measure because in some areas gangs fighting for control drug and other businesses can kill each other a lot and not kill so many others. But if you are torn between whether a city is safe enough due to a big discrepancy between various crime measures you probably shouldn't live there.

Any readers live in one of the war zone cities? If so, how do you handle it?

We need finer granularity information on what to avoid. Parts of cities and towns can be very dangerous.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 23 08:05 PM 
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No Way To Emulate The Success Stories Of Our Time

One reason to to read Marginal Revolution is that Peter Schaeffer shows up in the comments:

The Washington consensus has definitely lost its credibility in the last few years. However… No new model has replaced it. Chavism (Venezuela’s system under Hugo Chavez) hasn’t attracted a lot of followers for obvious reasons (not enough oil). China’s model is the supernova success of our time. However, their is no ‘China model’. China doesn’t promote itself as a model (so far) that the rest of the world should emulate (unlike China under Mao or the United States today). Nor is it obvious how other countries might ‘be like China’.

Europe would like to be a model. However, Europe is so visibly failing that virtually no one (outside of Europe) thinks that Europe’s combination of gigantic welfare states, neoliberal economics, etc. is a plausible system to emulate. That’s really the story of our time. The gods have fallen. The success stories of our time either can’t be emulated or don’t want to be replicated. Of course, no one is much interested in the ideas of the losers.

The success stories can not be emulated. Even worse, the success stories are turning into failures. Europe is a case in point: The economic disaster in Greece is part of a larger economic depression in Europe with economic contraction for the last 6 quarters.

The happy talk about how immigration provides a way for a country to improve has run up against harsh reality too.California used to herald changes that many expected to benefit the rest of the country and world. But the decline of California has made that sort of talk rare today. Peter Schaeffer explains one of the reasons: health care costs. Peter Schaeffer's shocking calculations on health care costs per American resident: $12 per hour worked. (ParaPundit added links to the sources Peter mentions)

Basically all you need is total hours worked and total health care outlays. The Conference Board publishes something called the Total Economy Database. It gives hours worked per year at 1,708 and employment at 143.823 million. That gives total hours at 245.65 billion. The Total Economy Database also directly reports total hours as 246 billion.

The Economic Report of the President (EROP). Table B-35 gives total employment at 143.305 million. Table B-47 gives hours worked at 33.7 per week. A little math gives total hours at 251.127 billion. That’s rather close to the Conference Board data.

National Health Expenditures appear to be in the $3 trillion range. Once source (“U.S. Healthcare Hits $3 Trillion”) specifically estimates the number at $3 trillion. However, there is some weirdness involving the accounting for the doc fix. Another estimate is $2.807 trillion. This is derived from a nominal GDP of $15.684 trillion from the BEA and health care spending at 17.9% of GDP.

Another source gives much higher numbers. See “The hidden costs of U.S. health care: Consumer discretionary health care spending” from Deloitte. Their estimates are way over $3 trillion. However, some aspects of their methodology are suspect (including unpaid for care by family members). Note that Deloitte also suggests that large numbers of out-of-pocket health care dollars are not being captured in the standard estimates.

If $3 trillion is the correct health care number, then $12 per hour is about right. You can tweak the number up and down a bit by changing your estimate of health care spending, but it’s going to be in that range.

See also “2012 – The Year In Healthcare Charts” in Forbes for some more data.

People with low earning power are very expensive for the rest of us. They can't pay their total life costs for medical care let alone food, housing, car insurance, utilities, clothing, education and food for their kids, transportation, parole officer supervision, cost of incarceration, cost of police to investigate and arrest them, and more.

Time to emigrate? But where?

By Randall Parker 2013 June 23 10:44 AM 
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Nick Hanauer Proposes $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post opposes the large minimum wage increase advocated by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.

But no one’s proposal goes quite as far as that of Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist worth hundreds of millions of dollars who’s made a name for himself as an extremely wealthy critic of economic inequality. Hanauer proposes raising the minimum wage to $15, a more than doubling of the federal minimum.

Even $15 per hour isn't much. Let us put this in perspective. You might be shocked to learn (courtesy of venture capitalist Peter Schaeffer's calculations) that medical costs in America work out to about $12 per hour across the 245.65 billion hours worked per year in the US economy. Anyone who does not achieve a career average earnings per hour way above $12 isn't even covering the medical costs of their life. This is, btw, a reason to keep out low earning immigrants. They can't pay the costs of their medical care, let alone the education of their children, their use of roads and highways, policing, fire departments, and assorted other government services. America is not a low cost society. Nor is it a society where the mentally less able have a future in the work force. The era of the zero marginal productivity worker has already arrived (and I keep trying to get people to look at this link).

Dylan Matthews, being a liberal writer for the liberal house newspaper of the US government, instead wants to subsidize parasitism thru the tax system. You work hard and others live off your labor. EITC is Earned Income Tax Credit. EITC recipients do not earn. They just get a tax credit. This is a major source of welfare payments in America.

If he wants to help poor workers and not subsidize corporations, then he should advocate expanding the EITC and funding it with a new tax on corporations.

Dylan Matthews points out that EITC helps single moms, as if that is an advantage. What about the long run? Right now anything you subsidize you get more of.

A high minimum wage offers a few advantages:

  • Few low skilled people will enter the country because the demand for their labor will collapse.
  • Businesses will be incentivized to automate tasks that suddenly become much more expensive. Productivity will rise.
  • The focus on education will shift toward training for skills that enable someone to get work for at least $15 per hour.
  • Those making less than $15 per hour who keep their jobs will pay more in taxes and will qualify for fewer government hand-outs.

My guess: in the long run the net taxpayers of America (those who pay more than they get back) will be better off with a $15 per hour minimum wage.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 23 09:48 AM 
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2013 June 22 Saturday
Cohabiters Happier Than Married People

I'm thinking it makes guys happier to not be trapped in a sex-less marriage.

The study, which followed 2,737 people for 6 years, found that cohabiters said they were happier and more confident than married couples and singles.

What is going on here? A few possibilities:

  • Women in marriages think they can stop trying as hard. Put on weight. Don't wear make-up. Get stingier with sex. Bet cohabiters have more sex.
  • Married people feel trapped. Just the knowledge that the only way out is divorce court makes unhappiness even worse.
  • The kinds of people who want to get married may feel more duty-bound. Not going as much for happiness.
  • Marriages last longer and give people more time to get unhappy with each other.

Got any more ideas on this?

By Randall Parker 2013 June 22 08:07 PM 
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2013 June 20 Thursday
The Gang Of 8 Immigration Bill Smells

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama likened the immigration bill to mackerel: “The longer it lays in the sun, the more it smells.”

Ann Coulter notices a pattern with "American" terrorists and suggests an obvious way to avoid terrorist attacks: keep out the people who become terrorists.

Our elites are our biggest enemies because they favor policies that lower our quality of life.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 20 09:41 PM 
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2013 June 19 Wednesday
Mickey Kaus On Lobbying Against Immigration Bill

Make your views known and be assertive about it.

Here is the Senate phone contact list. Here is the House list. Your elected representatives want to hear your views on the Schumer-Rubio Legalization First bill (S.744)! Be polite–you don’t want to get their backs up. If the aides to whom you talk are testy in return, you’ll know you’re making progress. … P.S.: It’s OK to call swing senators even if they are not your senators. The Senate is supposed to represent the interests of the entire nation. And you can work for or against a senator even if he or she is in another state.

The immigration amnesty will accelerate America's decline. It can be stopped. The House is the key battleground.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 19 10:55 PM 
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2013 June 17 Monday
Rubio Staffers: Only Star Performers Deserve Jobs

While robots are destroying jobs on a massive scale the US Senate is trying to increase the influx of low skilled workers. In spite of the illegal influx a declining number of high school grads and high school drop-outs are working. Even the illegals can't find enough work. This comment by a staffer of US Senator Marco Rubio shows hostility to the vast majority of American workers (and people who used to be workers who are unemployable in the current labor market).

“There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.”

Not every worker is a star performer. In fact, few workers are star performers. That's the idea about the star performers: they are the exceptions. What Rubio's staffers are saying is that anyone who isn't exceptional (way over 90% of workers) don't deserve their job and deserve to have their job taken by imported workers. Screw the masses in other words.

The "don't want to do it" are far outnumbered by those who are seen as useless by the employers. Most of those could have easily found factory jobs and worked at them successfully 50 years ago. Outsourcing, immigration, robots, and information systems are cutting demand for less skilled workers. Yet the majority of the US Senate want to flood the labor market, especially at the low end. This will only make that problem much worse.

The Senator really believes exactly what his staffer said in background. But he neve argues it in public.

We strongly objected to the magazine including that background quote in the piece because it’s not what Sen. Rubio believes or has ever argued.

Rubio's aides have their knives out for workers in every sector of the US economy.

Rubio Aide 2: But the same is true for the high-skilled workers.

Rubio Aide 1: Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.

One downside to the decline of the private sector labor unions: there's no strong organized force left against the unbridled power of capital.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 17 08:35 PM 
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2013 June 16 Sunday
The Middle East Foreign Policy Burlesque Goes On

I juxtapose a David Goldman (Spengler) article: The Russians Think We’re Wrecking the World on Purpose with an Elliot Abrams article: Neoconservatism: A Good Idea That Won't Go Away. Abrams is obviously not at all embarrassed by the failure of US policy in Iraq for example. After trillions of dollars costs, hundreds of thousands of US soldiers with brain damage from WMD blasts, and an Iraqi government much closer to Iran (supposedly our enemy) who has won? The New York Times reports: China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraq Oil Boom.

Tony Blair, who famously teamed up with George W. Bush to do the Iraq invasion (which was deeply harmful to US interests) thinks the West should intervene in Syria. By contrast, Sarah Palin makes more sense: "Let Allah sort it out.”

“We’re talking now more, new interventions, I say until we know what we’re doing, until we have a commander in chief who knows what he’s doing … well, in these radical Islamic countries aren’t even respecting basic human rights, when both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, Allahu Akbar, I say until we have someone who knows what they’re doing, I say: Let Allah sort it out.”

The Sarah wants us to think a competent President could competently intervene in the Middle East. I say such Presidents (Bush Sr comes to mind; ditto Tricky Dick Nixon) are so rare that we should stay out. Besides, we've got no crucial interests at stake.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 16 07:36 PM 
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2013 June 15 Saturday
Chinese Governments Expect Responsible Reproduction

Here is one of the ways I envy the Chinese:

The central Chinese city of Wuhan has published a draft ordinance that would fine women who have children out of wedlock more than £17,000.


Other parts of China such as Beijing and Guangdong province have already adopted similar regulations.

An academic was found who prefers to allow the same decay that inflicts Western societies.

"The regulation is ridiculous," Wang Qiong, a professor at Wuhan University, told the China Daily.

"What if a woman chooses to have a test tube baby without getting married? Should she also be fined?"

Yes, of course. We can lengthen our hiatus from the Malthusian Trap by creating selective pressures against the sorts of irresponsible behavior that the Malthusian Trap used to select against in Europe and China.

In freer America where rights recognized as a result of responsible behavior a person with a long criminal rap sheet can do illegitimate kid making on a scale that the Chinese would scarely believe: Tennessee man who fathered 22 children by 14 women sued for child support; ‘I was young an ambitious and I loved women’.

It would not surprise me if the Chinese started sterilizing the worst sorts of criminals. Once genetic variants that contribute to criminal behavior are identified the Chinese government could select for an even lower crime rate by targeting criminal reproductive capacity.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 15 11:08 PM 
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Obama, Syria, Israel

What I do not get: Do the Israeli leaders or Israel's supporters in America think an Islamist Sunni government in Damascus would be less a threat to Israel than Assad's minority Alwawite/Shia regime? If so, why? What is in for Israel that a shift toward supporting Sunnis in Syria is not opposed by one of America's most powerful factions on the subject of America's policies toward the Middle East?

Are democratically elected theocracies less a threat to Israel or more a threat? They seem like more a threat to me. Am I missing something?

By Randall Parker 2013 June 15 09:39 PM 
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Tony Blair On The Problem With Islam

First Blair spins.

There is not a problem with Islam. For those of us who have studied it, there is no doubt about its true and peaceful nature.

Blair's with versus within sophistry gives him the bow toward political correctness that allows him to feel safe enough at least bring up one of the core problems with Islam: it is a religion that defines a political system.

But there is a problem within Islam, and we have to put it on the table and be honest about it. There are, of course, Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu ones. But I am afraid that the problematic strain within Islam is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view of religion – and of the relationship between religion and politics – that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies. At the extreme end of the spectrum are terrorists, but the worldview goes deeper and wider than it is comfortable for us to admit. So, by and large, we don’t admit it.

Islam is at its core incompatible with Western societies. The Muslims who accept values like freedom and separation of religion and state are Muslims who are just not embracing their full religion. Sure, such Muslims exist. But Islam's set of religious beliefs extend far further into the realm of politics and government than Christianity's core beliefs. Jesus was not a ruler. Mohammed was.

Rod Dreher responds to Blair:

In what sense is “true” Islam peaceful? I don’t doubt that most Muslims are peaceful, but that’s not the same thing as saying that the doctrines and teachings of the religion are peaceful, in the sense of being non-violent and tending towards living in harmony with others.

Dreher thinks maybe Islam can be made more apolitical. I do not believe this. The best we can hope for is for fewer people to believe the religion. But secularization seems less likely to occur in Muslim societies.

It can be done, in theory. The Roman Catholic Church was bitterly opposed to liberal democracy (including one of its key values, religious liberty) in the 19th century, but became reconciled to it in the 20th. The Church traveled a long way in a relatively short time. The trick is to change without making it look like you’re changing. Can Islam pull that off? I don’t know. For one thing, unlike in Catholicism, there is no centralized institution for determining Islamic orthodoxy. More importantly, Catholicism could make the adjustment because Christianity is intrinsically apolitical, at least by comparison to Islam.

I remain a Separationist: They live in their countries. We live in ours. We do not involve ourselves in the politics of their countries. However, such an approach goes against what America's globalizing elites want to do with the world.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 15 09:33 PM 
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Big Shift Toward Temporary Employment Due To Obamacare

Job prospects for the lower classes weren't already grim enough. Hence the need for Obamacare and immigration amnesty. Mish Shedlock summarizes:

  1. Temporary hiring at Wal-Mart has gone from 1-2% to 10% in a year
  2. Employees face an 8-36 percent increase in healthcare premiums in 2013
  3. Part-time employees now need to work 30 hours instead of 24 to get coverage
  4. 61% of the stores in the survey were only hiring temps or were not hiring at all
  5. Regular employees have seen their hours cut

I say again to my readers: The middle is crumbling. You've got to go up or you are going to go down. Get yourself lots of skills that will set you apart from those who are taking the down escalator. Lots of things are coming together to make living standards lower for most of the population. Low skilled immigrants, Obamacare's disincentives for hiring full time employees, and robotic automation are among the reasons living standards have gone down for many people in the last 20 years. More to come.

The sorts of companies that still hire high school grads and high school drop-outs are shifting to temporary employment to escape the costs of Obamacare.

A Reuters survey of 52 stores run by the largest U.S. private employer in the past month, including one in every U.S. state, showed that 27 were hiring only temps, 20 were hiring a combination of regular full, part-time and temp jobs, and five were not hiring at all.

Before the recession of 2008 median household incomes never regained their peak of the late 1990s. As of fall of 2012 median household income was back to the level of 1995. California's fall in state per capita GDP presages the nation's fall because California is living America's demographic future.

Employers who hire for high-paying occupations will continue to hire lots of directs because medical costs are a small percentage of total costs and they need directs who will stick around and accumulate knowledge of company practices. But for lower IQ workers the job market is especially grim. Since 1997 total employment of high school graduates has dropped 9% and total employment of high school drop-outs has dropped 14%. For black men the labor market is especially grim.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 15 10:59 AM 
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2013 June 11 Tuesday
Mickey Kaus: Time To Wake Up Against Immigration Amnesty

Time to rouse up and send emails and phone calls against the latest push for immigration amnesty. This worked in 2007. It could work now. Phone calls. Emails. Physical letters. Post cards. Let them know you are there and care.

There’s a list of Senate phone numbers and emails here. Numbers USA has a handy page that lets you send a fax here. The Capitol switchboard is 202 224-3121.

Ignore the f—ing scandals for a few days and save the country from Chuck Schumer.

I'm with Mickey. Hey fellow bloggers, do a post on this. Ask other blogger you know to do the same. Send emails to your friends with the contact info.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 11 09:13 PM 
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Senator Tim Kaine Speech In Spanish For Immigration Amnesty

The Senator from Virginia is obviously seeking to remind us in every way possible of the extent to which the elites want to elect a new people.

The Tower of Babel story in the Old Testament is meant to remind us that not being able to speak a shared language is a handicap. But we live in an era where we are supposed to unlearn actual reality and embrace a fantasy reality.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 11 07:49 PM 
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2013 June 10 Monday
Robert Schiller: Make Social Security Based On Real GDP

Yale economists Robert Schiller argues Social Security payouts should be tied to the nation's economic health.

One alternative that we should consider is a different kind of index switch, linking retirees’ benefits to gross domestic product per capita, in current dollars. This measure responds to inflation just as the C-CPI-U does, but, in contrast, it also responds to changes in the nation’s resources, as measured by real G.D.P. There could also be corrections for other factors, like the dependency ratio, which compares the number of “dependents” (retired people and children) to the number of working adults.

Tying old age retirement benefits to the nation's ability to pay can either be done sooner with formulas as Schiller suggests or will be done later in financial crises. My guess: it will be done later, with more abrupt and painful effects under enormous pressure. Lack of economic growth has caused political stalemate as politicians no longer can find the money needed to buy off and placate political factions.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 10 10:23 PM 
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2013 June 09 Sunday
We Can Not Afford A Gap Between Consensus And Actual Reality

Mencius Moldbug, in a post about an essay by Sam Altman, fingers a basic problem in American society: academia and major media embrace a view of reality that is at variance with actual reality in crucial ways.

The basic problem with our society is a disconnect between consensus reality and actual reality. We actually have no shortage of natural leaders. But they cannot actually lead us anywhere. They are operating in consensus reality rather than actual reality. Their joysticks are not plugged in. When the consensus is nonsense, sober good sense is nonsense. Nonsense is no use to anyone.

We face problems which we can't even seriously attempt to solve because of that gap between consensus reality and actual reality. The educational policy of Bush Jr and Ted Kennedy, "No Child Left Behind", failed due to a willful ignorance of actual reality. The current immigration debate takes place without key actual reality facts as part of the discussion. The character assassination of Jason Richwine shows how far our elites will go to keep actual reality out of the debate.

Sam Altman embraces a couple of views that I also hold: First, a society can only go up or down. A society can't easily stand still. Also, the US economy and assorted European economies are not growing fast enough to buy off all the competing demands that democracy (i.e. larcenous voters) make on net taxpayers.

I believe that growth is not only critical for startups, but for most systems. Either you’re growing, or you’re slowly dying. Perfect equilibrium is rare.

One system that seems to be in early death throes is the United States government.


Without growth, we’re voting against someone else’s interest as much as we’re voting for our own.  This ends with lots of fighting and everyone feeling screwed, broken into factions, and unmotivated.  Democracy does not work well in a zero-sum world.  Autocratic political systems probably work better with growth too, but the effect of a lack of growth is likely less pronounced right up until the revolution.

Altman seems to think one cause is a more anti-science mood among the American people. I do not see that. What I see: a declining fraction of the population have sufficient intellectual octane to understand difficult scientific subjects, let alone to do original path-breaking scientific work. Yet we still have a great many scientists. The problem: an exhaustion of low hanging fruit, both scientifically and with natural resources.

Altman says the long term US economic growth rate has slowed from 5% to 2%.

The trendline goes from just under 5% to just under 2%. This is a much more significant drop than it appears, because it compounds exponentially.

Utopians of libertarian and liberal bent want to imagine we can easily return to the old growth rates if only their policy prescriptions were followed. Libertarians and liberals do not want to give up their myths because they do not want to give up their fantasies of their own versions of utopia.

The decline in Californa's relative standing among the states for per capita income shows that in spite of the presence of Silicon Valley companies the average ability of the populace matters far more. California is doing poorly in NAEP scores.

But aren't some trends really positive? Steven Pinker thinks we are on a great long term trend toward lower crime. But New York City's police might be cooking the books to report a decline in crime.

Felony assaults, along with all other major crimes in the city, have sharply decreased over the last decade, according to the New York Police Department.

But during much of that period, the number of assault victims taken to emergency rooms nearly doubled, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

In the long run advances in nuclear power, solar power, batteries, stem cells, gene therapy, genetic engineering for agriculture, and a large assortment of other areas might end up weighing more heavily than what is going wrong. But we do not live in the long run. We can not hop in a time machine and go forward 40 or 50 years. We live in a series of short runs and in those short runs Western societies show signs of stagnation and decline in spite of advances in computer and communications technologies.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 09 10:54 AM 
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2013 June 08 Saturday
John Dingell: A Case Against Democracy?

In one district in MIchigan the Congressional seat has been in the family for about 80 years.

Dingell, who turns 87 years old next month, has since then been elected 29 consecutive times, and only twice with less than 60 percent of the vote. If that wasn’t enough, his 1955 victory came in a special election to replace his father, John Sr., who died in office after serving 22 years in the House.

Massachusetts similarly fixated on the Kennedys for decades.

Anyone see a way to make monarchy work? See a mechanism for how to choose a leader that would be better than democracy? We've got a powerful wealthy elite buying influence and making a big impact on who is available to vote for. Meanwhile we also have a growing lower class voting for spending on themselves. This is working poorly. The American political system shows increasing signs of failing. We need something better.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 08 10:00 PM 
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Mutual Fund Management Industry: Parasites

Half Sigma has made it a point to distinguish between value creation and value transference activities. He's correct to draw this distinction because some really large scale value transference activities are going on. Money managers transfer value from you to them and give nothing in return.

By 1960, though, the mutual fund business was booming, and selling investors on high-cost, high-risk products called "performance funds." Within a few years, researchers armed with more statistical skills (and these new things called computers) were examining the industry's performance and finding it wanting. "[W]e find no evidence to support the belief that mutual fund managers can outguess the market," Jack Treynor and Kay Mazuy of the consulting firm Arthur D. Little reported in the July-August 1966 HBR (sadly, we don't have the article online). Multiple academic studies soon backed up that conclusion.

They've continued to back it up ever since.

The investment industry is a giant extraction industry.

To many observers, the investment industry of today is like a giant extraction machine. The incredible growth in the industry during the last forty years has resulted in a billionaire’s club made up of the owners of asset management firms, hedge funds, pension consulting organizations, and the like — and tens of thousands of others in the business have gotten plenty rich from the mother load of fees.

You are better off investing in low fee passive index funds.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 08 02:05 PM 
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California Falls In Per Capita Income Rankings

California was in the 8th position in 2007 but is now in the 15th position. Connecticut is in 1st place.

How far the mighty have fallen. Back 1978 Connecticut was in 1st place and California was in 2nd place.

This is an inevitable outcome of immigration.

California's drop in median per capita income has probably been steeper. The average has been held up by Silicon Valley.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 08 11:59 AM 
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2013 June 06 Thursday
Even Harvard Students Fleeing Humanities Over Job Prospects

Harvard University students increasingly do not see a humanities degree as a viable starting point for a career. Even a Harvard degree has limited value without skills to go along with the high IQ that acceptance at Harvard usually means.

At Harvard, humanities majors have fallen to 20% in 2012 from 36% in 1954. In the last decade, the decline in humanities students at Harvard has been particularly pronounced, with one-third fewer prospective freshmen expressing interest in the field.

It is great news that more students are heeding the message that we have a very competitive job market. People who major in more useful subjects will do more productive work. Already the people with less than college degrees are facing worsening job prospects. The IQ thresholds and skills thresholds for good career prospects are going to keep going up.

Another needed development: turn down tax funding of universities whose students can't manage to graduate. The average SAT for the U with only 4% graduation rate: 715. Imagine what IQ tests would show about the students of schools with low graduation rates.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 06 09:52 PM 
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Obama's Surveillance State And Terrorist Immigrants

The editorial board of the New York Times complains Obama's surveillance state goes too far.

Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.

Hey, if terrorists are such a massive threat that the US government needs to suck data out of the servers of the biggest internet companies, with more internet companies joining, with all Verizon call records turned over to the Feds (and likely the same for other phone companies), then isn't it time to stop letting the kinds of people into the country that make the threat so seriously large?

Take the Boston running event bombing. If some Chechens hadn't been allowed into the country the bombing never would have happened. We are not under any obligation to let in Chechens. Our elites will argue otherwise of course. But their interests and our interests have diverged and the distance between the interests of the majority and the elites keeps getting wider every day. They want to manage us with a massive surveillance program so they can let anyone into the country. Oppose it.

My advice to you: stop watching TV news. Unplug from the most powerful propaganda sources. Our elites pump out reality distortion messages. Your challenge: figure out the people who have taken the Red Pill and read them.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 06 08:21 PM 
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2013 June 01 Saturday
The Positive Influence Of American Culture On Muslims?

19% of US Muslims are unprepared to say that suicide bombing is never justified. Do you feel relieved? That compares favorably to 28% of global Muslims who take the same position. The Cathedral (i.e. major media and universities) members can absorb this information with their faith unshaken.

I would like to know whether this difference in attitudes between Muslims in America and the rest of the world is due to more highly educated Muslims coming to America as compared to those living in the rest of the world. Or is the difference due a blend of Muslim ethnicities and nationalities come here which is not like the average distribution in the Muslim countries?

If you are a witness to a terrorist attack in the US beware of getting your name into the press. It can get dangerous. What percentage of the rest of the American citizens and immigrant residents believe suicide bombing is ever justified? My guess is very very low.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 01 01:49 PM 
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Volcker: Public Administration Degrees Lack Rigor

Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker knows that math is important. Statistical illiterates are being trained to run governments.

This is a profession that needs shaking by the neck. One of the things some of the schools may not like what I’m about to say is that there’s no real consensus on what a degree in public administration means. What is the content of the curriculum you have been taught? Is it rigorous enough? I think the answer often is that it is not rigorous enough. They do not have statistics analysis, how statistics should be used and abused. What insights can other management techniques of quality control or other matters relevant to CEOs have for public administration? Should there be more on-the-job training, more internships? These are issues that should be explored.

Math is hard and does not come naturally to the vast majority of humans. Even though we are ruled by a highly educated academic and journalistic elite (The Cathedral) these people are mathematical illiterates who do not hold pursuit of the truth as their highest value. So high verbal IQ fools pelt us with never-ending streams of propaganda and attack enemies of the Hivemind. Your best bet is to turn off the TV news and study the Dark Enlightenment and the Voldemort View (the view that must not be named). It helps to be a neoreactionary thinker to understand the world correctly.

By Randall Parker 2013 June 01 11:24 AM 
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