2015 May 31 Sunday
Stephen Walt Thinks We Worry Too Much About Foreign Countries

Stephen Walt says Chill Out, America: TV news, think-tank pundits, and politicians all want you to see threats around every corner. Don't fall for it.

Unfortunately, this enduring exaggeration of external dangers can blind us to real problems. In fact, if you look at the past 25 years or so, it is abundantly clear that external enemies have done far less damage to the United States than we have done to ourselves. Saddam Hussein was a very bad man, but he wasn’t threatening or harming Americans after we kicked his ass in 1991. Ditto Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar al-Qaddafi, and the whole wretched Assad family. They were all problems, to be sure, but they weren’t threatening many Americans and U.S. leaders did business with each of them at one time or another.

The Iraq war cost us a few trillion dollars and our assorted interventions in the Middle East against dictators have let loose civil wars and the most repressive strains of Islam.

I agree with Stephen Walt. Our biggest problems by far are internal. The Eternal War wing of the Republican Party has alienated me fairly completely. Its allies on the Left ditto.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 31 10:14 PM 
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2015 May 30 Saturday
Companies Specializing In High Or Low Paid Workers

Is the large increase in inequality in America in recent decades driven by wider pay ranges within each corporation? No. The big divergences in salaries are happening between corporations.

The bigger driver of inequality, then, is that companies are becoming more specialized: Some employ mostly high-paid workers, and others mostly low-paid ones.

I'd like to see companies ranked by average pay vs profit growth rate. Are the companies with highly paid workers on average growing their earnings faster than companies with lower paid workers?

There is another angle to this story: Outside orkplaces both automation and greater segregation of neighborhoods by income are reducing the exposure of well paid people to lower income people. Well, the same phenomenon is playing out inside workplaces. It used to be that big industrial corporations employed most of the higher and lower earning people. Now companies that do a lot of design and development outsource manufacturing. Also, more manufacturing is done by machines. So companies are becoming places which insulate people by economic and cognitive strata.

Companies gain public relations advantages if they only hire highly paid workers who generate high value. They are able to brag about their great benefits and working conditions. By contrast, look at companies that utilize a lot of low value and low paid workers, Uber, for example,. Social Justice Warriors are upset at Uber over how much Uber drivers make. Reihan Salam argues that it isn't Uber's fault that there is glut of people available to do low skilled work with limited demand. I agree with Reihan. But the SJWs really don't want to know this.

My guess is that neither Plouffe nor Whetstone will make the most compelling case for Uber, which is that service jobs are often pretty terrible and that even if driving on the Uber platform is terrible too, it is, at the very least, less terrible. That is not a very sexy slogan. Yet it happens to be true. What critics of Uber need to understand is that their real gripe is not with Uber. It’s with larger forces that are making it extremely hard for service workers to make a good living, whether they’re driving cabs, washing dishes, mowing lawns, keeping offices and homes neat and clean, or doing clerical work.

Of course, a company with an overwhelmingly highly paid workforce can hire some administrative assistants and janitors, pay them really well, provide lots of perks in the workplace, and tell the world that the corporation's leaders are a bunch of great guys. This can work. I expect we'll see a lot more of this in the future as companies increasingly specialize by doing work in a narrow cognitive range.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 30 08:22 PM 
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Heather Mac Donald On Reversal In Crime Trends

The long national decline in crime rates has bottomed and and started reversing?

Gun violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year, according to Baltimore police, with 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend. May has been the most violent month the city has seen in 15 years.

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%.

She lists other cities with rising crime rates. Click thru and read the extent of it. Then she blames anti-cop messages from the media, Obama Administration, and some state and local governments. This seems plausible. The elites are pushing to slash incarceration rates (in spite of recidivism rate data) and state governments, partly due to financial woes, have already begun locking up fewer people starting about 6 years ago. But the reversal in crime rates in the most pathological cities happened so suddenly it must be a reaction to the rhetoric and legal threats to cops flowing from elite and media reaction to Ferguson and Baltimore. The cops are intimidated and fear prosecution for how they have to deal with dangerous people. The criminals are emboldened.

The upside: Some people will be enlightened by the resulting crime wave. Our elites have accidentally or intentionally initiated an experiment that causes a big pull-back by police and have intentionally initiated an experiment to reduce incarceration rates. The results will be educational.

Do not become a victim of the experiment. Think about how this impacts you personally and how it impacts friends and family. Become more careful about where you choose to live and where you choose to visit. Do not put your life at risk.

Update:Click thru to see 10 cities where you shouldn't live. The only surprise for me was Little Rock, Arkansas. Didn't know it was that violent.

Nationwide, 368 violent crimes were reported for every 100,000 people in 2013. Such crimes include murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. In America’s 10 most dangerous cities, there were more than 1,300 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

If you read this blog I'm going to guess you live in a relatively low crime area that is below the national average. Why do I guess that? I expect my readers are better educated than the average American and have the sense to choose to live in better neighborhoods.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 30 11:41 AM 
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2015 May 29 Friday
World Economy Lacks Lifeboats

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard summarizes the doom and gloom about the world economy. The worst part of it is that governments ran up big debts in the last downturn and central banks lowered their interest rates and never raised them again. They've got a much smaller tool set to use the next time the world economy starts contracting.

Stephen King from HSBC warns that the global authorities have alarmingly few tools to combat the next crunch, given that interest rates are already zero across most of the developed world, debts levels are at or near record highs, and there is little scope for fiscal stimulus.

"The world economy is sailing across the ocean without any lifeboats to use in case of emergency," he said.

500 basis points, 500 basis points, my kingdom for 500 basis points!

The next time the world economy goes into a recession the central banks will not be able to cut interest rates the needed 500 basis points (5%). Interest rates are well below that. What's left? Governments could run big budget deficits and have central banks buy their bonds.

Should you care about all this? That just depends. Are you vulnerable? Suppose jhard times come. Could your employer automate your job? Outsource it? Just shut down the line of business you are in? Go bankrupt?

In your career the best defense is a good offense. Step up your game. Take on more responsibilities. Change to a new role that requires you to learn much more. Take classes to learn new skills. Move away from a stagnant part of the economy to a city that has high tech growing companies. Don't just wait for the ax to fall.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 29 10:08 PM 
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Faith In Family Income As Determinant Of Success In Life

Check out this propaganda piece in the Gray Lady: You Draw It: How Family Income Affects Children’s College Chances.

I drew it and they told me:

  • You drew a more accurate picture of reality than about 96 percent of people who have tried so far.
  • You correctly guessed that children from the very poorest families face tough odds in going to college – only about one in four do.
  • You correctly guessed the exceptionally high rates of college enrollment for children from the very richest families – about 94 percent.

I did this without any belief in their tabula rasa doctrine and it was easy to do. I hold a more accurate picture of reality than the editorial and reporting staff of the New York Times. Low bar, I know. Alas.

Is it willful ignorance when the Gray Lady ignores, for example, a study of adopting parent income compared with randomly assigned Korean adopted babies See this follow-up post.

If you understand and accept the heritability of everything then the world becomes easier to understand. Still incredibly complex. Hard or impossible to predict a very wide assortment of developments. But many patterns become discernible once you accept that the genomes of all of our ancestors have been under constant selective pressure on genes that influence our desires, aversions, and cognitive abilities.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 29 09:40 PM 
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2015 May 28 Thursday
Baltimore Arrest Rate Down By Half, Murders Soar

Cops afraid to make arrests while citizens afraid to walk outside. Do not go to Baltimore.

The cut in half of arrest rates simulates what would happen if lots of people were let out of jail. Since elite opinion is increasingly of the view that too many people are in prison one can only hope that Baltimore is not indicative of what would happen in most other areas if arrest rated plummeted. I'd prefer some American state that I do not live in drastically reduces their incarceration rate so that the rest of us can learn. Preferably a liberal state in the northeast which has elites that think our incarceration rate should be more like Finland's.

Another headline: Baltimore police union: Cops more afraid of going to jail than getting shot

The views of the Mayor of Baltimore need to be born in mind:

It’s a very delicate balancing act, because while we tried to make sure they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.

The cops are giving criminals in Baltimore the space they need to kill and rob.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 28 08:58 PM 
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2015 May 24 Sunday
US Defense Secretary Carter Notices Iraqi Army Won't Fight

The Iraqi Army withdrew from Ramadi in the face of a much smaller fighting force. Someone higher up in the US government noticed this recurring unwillingness to fight.

"The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," he told CNN's State of the Union program. "They vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they withdrew from the site."

What are the reasons for this continued terrible fighting performance? A number of possibilities come to mind. For example, the soldiers were not trying to protect the territories of their tribes. Why fight for something that does not help one's tribe? Or, hey, who are all these people in this fighting unit? They are from other tribes. Why should I fight to protect them? Or, hey, I only joined the Iraqi Army to get paid, not to put my life at risk. Why would I want to do that?

I wonder if the Iraqi government should use mercenaries. They could offer mercenaries bonuses for capturing specific cities. What would it cost to recapture Ramadi? What would Ghurkas charge? Or perhaps some aging white South African mercenaries. They just did a bang-up job against Boko Haram in Nigeria (which also has an army that can't fight). Or go east and recruit some South Korean and Taiwanese military veterans to take a couple of cities.

Lets be real. The Iraqi army isn't going to grow some big cojones. Price out the cost of mercs to do the job and get it done quickly. I'd go for Palmyra first just because I care more about ancient relics than who controls Fallujah or Ramadi. But whoever pays for the mercs can capture whatever cities they want to capture.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 24 07:34 PM 
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Will American Speech Rights Decay?

We've lost some freedoms to progressive reinterpretations of the US Constitution. The Commerce Clause, for example, has been reinterpreted to grant the US government much more extensive regulatory power. The Takings Clause has been gutted at the expense of private property rights. Free speech seems like the next most likely battleground over rights.

YouGov's latest research shows that many Americans support making it a criminal offense to make public statements which would stir up hatred against particular groups of people. Americans narrowly support (41%) rather than oppose (37%) criminalizing hate speech, but this conceals a partisan divide. Most Democrats (51%) support criminalizing hate speech, with only 26% opposed. Independents (41% to 35%) and Republicans (47% to 37%) tend to oppose making it illegal to stir up hatred against particular groups.

I expect erosion of speech rights in the United States because the nation will shift left in its Presidential choices and those future Presidents will make Supreme Court appointments that are much more leftward leaning. Academia has already become much more hostile to dissenting views. The judiciary will follow as the ideologues trained in academia get appointed to court benches.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 24 06:53 PM 
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Young Getting Parental Financial Help Into Their 30s

22% of 26-34 year olds still get financial help from their parents. Click thru to read more details.

The newest crop of workers graduated with record student debt, historically high unemployment rates, and scarce hope of being able to afford a starter home.

The question is what to do about our growing lower class? I say for a start lets not import anyone who lacks the skills to make at least $20 per hour once they arrive or even set the threshold even higher. We do not need and do not benefit from more low-skilled and totally unskilled labor. So fix immigration. That's actually a part of the problem we can do do something about.

As for a higher minimum wage: I am glad that some jurisdictions are raising minimum wage to $15 per hour. I hope a lot more will. Then we can see how the elites try to find ways to make the unemployed masses productive. Plus, it will cut out demand for illegal immigrant labor with little skills.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 24 11:35 AM 
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2015 May 23 Saturday
War Nerd Gary Brecher On Alawite Casualties, Motivation

The Alawite (SAA) army in Syria has done well given the small population it draws upon.

The fact that the SAA may eventually collapse isn’t really as interesting as the fact that this tiny minority sect’s army has lasted so long against a Sunni majority that could swarm it with sheer numbers, if the Sunni Syrian population was really as fierce as the media make them out to be.

He says the Sunni Revival is greatly exaggerated. A fairly small fraction of the Sunnis are making Jihad.

The whole essay is interesting. The Alawites are more motivated because they are desperate. They'd be better off seceding from the rest of Syria. But I do not know that the rest of Syria would let them.

Fear of genocide might drive a large fraction of Alawites to flee into Lebanon, and possibly destabilize Lebanon in the process.

My sympathy is with the Middle Eastern minorities that have to live under Sunni Arab majority or even Shia Arab majority rule. The minorities ought to be given their own territories broken off into new sovereignties. But that won't happen, except for the Kurds.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 23 10:15 PM 
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Warren Buffett On Brutal Truth About Poor

Warren does not think education can help a significant portion of the population become capable of earning more than a bare subsistence. This is coming from the most accomplished investor in the history of the world.

The remedy usually proposed for this mismatch is education. Indeed, a top-notch school system available to all is hugely important. But even with the finest educational system in the world, a significant portion of the population will continue, in a nation of great abundance, to earn no more than a bare subsistence.

...

The brutal truth is that an advanced economic system, whether it be geared to physical or mental skills, will leave a great many people behind.

Buffett prefers an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. But I think that's a mistake because of the moral hazard. People need to work to earn money. What should be done instead: subsidize their wages. What should also be done: stop the influx of illegal immigrants with few skills who compete against the minimum wage workers.

This problem is going to become far larger because the robots are coming and a move to enact $15 per hour minimum wage is going to accelerate that shift.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 23 08:16 PM 
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ISIS/Daesh Flag Auctioned In Sydney Australia Mosque

Raised thousands of dollars for the mosque.

They say the money raised is going to be used to promote peace and harmony. That's peace and harmony in the only way they would find acceptable: with Muslims ruling over non-Muslims as second class citizens or worse.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 23 02:24 PM 
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Over Half Of American Population Lives In Suburbs

Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia, looks at how people characterize their neighborhoods and compares that to neighborhood populaiton density. Reports of America's urbanization have been exaggerated.

Three cities of the largest 10 are more suburban than urban, based on our analysis of how people describe the neighborhoods where they live.

Official government data obscures how suburban America really is.

Cities that are majority suburban are the most rapidly growing.

Will autonomous electric cars make urban or suburban living more appealing? Autonomous cars will make commuting longer distances easier. But they'll also cut the cost of taxi service in cities and reduce the need for car ownership in cities.

What I also wonder about: Where will the poorest of the poor live as automation eliminates more of their jobs? Will they live in dense pack apartment buildings in suburbs? Or in shacks and RVs in rural areas? Some are living in RVs in Wal-Mart parking lots and move around to adjust to seasons.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 23 01:50 PM 
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2015 May 20 Wednesday
Net Effects Of High Minimum Wages?

While I expect LA's coming $15 minimum wage will spur robot development, improve the quality of local services, and reduce interactions between customers and service providers Megan McArdle thinks a high minimum wage will produce deadweight loss due to a loss of economic efficiency.

In the short run I think Megan is correct. But in the long run higher minimum wage will boost economic efficiency by speeding the development and spread of automation technologies. Also, in the short run and long run higher minimum wage will increase unemployment among the least skilled, least driven, and least talented. The relentless advance of computer hardware and software technology promise to do that anyway. But higher minimum wage will cause that to happen sooner.

What a much higher minimum wage will also do: gentrify cities that already have other local conditions attractive to gentrifiers. Such cities should gradually ratchet up their minimum wage to $20 per hour. This will drive the low skilled work to outside the city's boundaries along with the low skilled employees and their families. This will improve local school scores, lower crime, free up housing, and all this will attract the gentrifiers.

Ben Casselman points out that the cities raising their minimum wages to $15 have well above average living costs. The people who manage to continue to keep their jobs when their wages go up to $15 per hour will still be pretty poor.

What I'd do if I was running fast food joints around LA: by franchise locations right outside the city boundaries. Alternatively, switch to franchises that have low-labor meals and support for payment kiosks. Automate, automate.

So far the number of cities moving to a $15/hour min wage (SF, LA, Seattle) isn't large enough to cause a big boost in fast food automation technology development. But throw in some more big cities (hear the call NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Jose) and that would change.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 20 05:09 PM 
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2015 May 17 Sunday
Ross Douthat on Mike Huckabee, Anti-Reform Conservative

Mike Huckabee represents retiree entitlements protecting conservatism. Conserve old age entitlements spending and oppose anything that competes with it.

So what competes with old age entitlements spending?

  • Military spending. A big conservative favorite.
  • Scientific research spending. Definitely a public good that benefits everyone and on the decline as it gets squeezed out by entitlements.
  • Roads and bridges. Again, a public good that benefits everyone. Though roads could be turned into toll roads.
  • The welfare state for the lower classes. This is the biggest vote getter that threatens to make the Republican Party into has-beens. Democrats are doing all they can to boost the size of the lower class with low skilled immigrants and plenty of business interests support this.
  • Education. Not a terribly effective but popular way to spend federal dollars. The big spending school districts (can you say "Baltimore"? sure) have bad outcomes while Utah has great bang for the educational buck.
  • Everything else.

The US military is going to be one of the big losers in all this. The US military is now top of the pops. But a growing China is in the process of making the seas near China dangerous places for the US Navy. But even before the cash crunch US military effectiveness has already started looking quite tarnished because in spite of lots of spilled blood and treasure it was not able to bring peace, love, and understanding to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Islamic neighborhood. Nation building, counter-insurgency strategy and shock and awe did not produce desired outcomes. But does it matter?

Infrastructure spending and scientific research spending are going to be losers as well. I expect more increases in taxes as well.

It comes down to the old folks and poor folks. The old folks and the poor folks are both growing in number. Poor folks are growing because they are more fertile, they coming coming in from other countries, and because industry is automating the sorts of jobs they used to work at. The old folks are a growing proportion of the population due to lower fertility rates and longer life expectancies.

Since their numbers are growing the old folks and poor folks could each individually get less from the government even as the total amount spent on their groups grows.

So what's going to happen? Means testing for old folks benefits seems like a matter of when, not if. How long until higher net worth people have to pay more for Medicare and get less in Social Security? Perhaps a large financial crisis in the 2020s will force this.

Fast economic growth used to allow the government to hand out more stuff each year without taking higher percentages away from each person. But economic growth has become too anemic for too many years and now the zero sum nature of the game as become clear and politics has become more bitter and negative. I expect this to get much worse before it gets any better.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 17 03:48 PM 
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Upper Class NYC Glam-SAHMs: Glamorous Stay At Home Moms

Who is out in Central Park with their kids? Glam-SAHMs: Glamorous Stay At Home Moms with advanced elite degrees whose husbands manage hedge funds and private equity. On the bright side they are having lots of kids. You might be surprised if you read the whole thing.

The big families and stay-at-home wives of these masters of the universe seem like a form of conspicuous consumption by alpha males. But they also want heirs. Imagine how much more enthused they'll become about big families once they can guarantee having all super kids. The next generation of hedge fund managers will jump on CRISPR-Cas9 offspring genetic editing to make their kids capable of functioning at high levels. No more regression to the mean with disappointing children. When genetic editing takes out most of the risk of having dud disappointing kids upper class family sizes will go up.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 17 12:03 PM 
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How Many Political Leaders Are Blackmailed?

Ron Unz looks at whether John McCain's period of time as a POW involved heroism or collaboration with the enemy. Then he asks an interesting question: does the existence of material that can be used for blackmail help a person rise to the top since the blackmailers know that the compromised person can easily be controlled?

The realization that many of our political leaders may be harboring such terrible personal secrets, secrets that our media outlets regularly conceal, raises an important policy implication independent of the particular secrets themselves. In recent years I have increasingly begun to suspect that some or even many of our national leaders may occasionally make their seemingly inexplicable policy decisions under the looming threat of personal blackmail, and that this may have also been true in the past.

Read the whole article before dismissing the idea.

We have plenty of other reasons why democracy is failing and the constitution no longer constrains the government. But this might be yet another one.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 17 11:04 AM 
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2015 May 16 Saturday
The Battle Of The Womb In The Middle East

At the time of Israel's creation 13,000 out of 65,000 Bedouins did not flee. There are now 240,000 Bedouins in Israel about 67 years later, 18.46 times more. That's almost a 4.5% growth rate per year. I wonder if the growth rate has slowed at all.

In the 20th century some groups got pushed out of areas or dominated because they lost the battle of the womb. Serbs got pushed out of Kosovo by higher Muslim fertility. Christians in Lebanon dropped as a percentage of the total population which set them up for defeat in the Lebanese civil war.

The 21st century will witness similar shifts in the power of various groups. What is going to happen in Israel and the occupied territories? Will Arab Muslims win a long demographic war against Israel? Or will Israel push Muslims out of Israel proper? Israel's Jewish growth rate is lower than its Arab growth rate. But the Haredi Jews have the highest growth rate. If the Haredis maintain their high growth rate they could push the overall Jewish growth rate above that of the Arabs.

The Christians in the Middle East will continue to lose ground, flee, and be killed. They've already lost the demographic war. The Yezidis are facing a bad situation as well.

I also wonder about Shiites versus Sunnis. Iran has a fertility rate below 2 in contrast to Iraq with a fertility rate above 4. But in Iraq are Shiites or Sunnis making more babies? Same question in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and other gulf states. I also wonder about the relative fertility rates more moderate versus more radical Sunnis. My guess is that the moderates are losing the battle of the womb.

Another interesting demographic war: Turks vs Kurds vs Arabs. The fertility rate of Turks is lower than the fertility rate of Kurds in Turkey. Some Turks fear they will become a minority in their own country some time in the 21st century. By contrast, the Kurdish fertility rate in Iraq, while high, is not as high as the Arab fertility rate in Iraq. So the Kurds might take over Turkey (or perhaps secede from it) but lose territory in Iraq.

Other Middle Eastern conflicts come to mind. In Yemen are the Houthis or Sunni Arabs winning the battle of the womb? How about the fertility rates of various Syrian factions? Will fertility rate differences determine who eventually comes out on top in Libya?

By Randall Parker 2015 May 16 08:21 PM 
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2015 May 15 Friday
Motives For False Rape Allegations

Beware of women who might have these motivations:

With the cooperation of the police agency of a small metropolitan community, 45 consecutive, disposed, false rape allegations covering a 9 year period were studied. These false rape allegations constitute 41% the total forcible rape cases (n = 109) reported during this period. These false allegations appear to serve three major functions for the complainants: providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention. False rape allegations are not the consequence of a gender-linked aberration, as frequently claimed, but reflect impulsive and desperate efforts to cope with personal and social stress situations.

I'd like to see more systematic research to measure the extent of false allegations in general. I once attended part of a criminal trial with my high school sociology class and it became apparent that a couple of employees had ripped off a store and tried to frame the (mildly mentally retarded) defendant. We watched as cross examination by the defense attorney basically destroyed the prosecution's case. After we left the court room we wondered whether charges would be brought against those who made the false claims.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 15 07:05 PM 
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2015 May 14 Thursday
How To Eliminate Child Poverty

Sometimes a crazy policy goal by progressives is so framed that only the possible ways to achieve it are far outside the Overton Window. Here is a crazy one I came across: If any household at 60% of median incomes has children then the children are defined as living in poverty and the goal is to end this horror.

For example, the last UK Labour government had a goal of ending child poverty by 2020, a goal accepted by the Coalition when it took over in May 2010. Child poverty was defined as children living in homes with less than 60 percent of median UK incomes.

You might think at first glance this goal is impossible. But play with it. There are ways, though all the possible solutions are extreme.

The most obvious way to achieve this goal is to convince or, more likely, require more than half the population to not make babies. Any household not in the top 40% could just not be licensed for reproduction.

Another solution: take all babies away from the bottom half and force the higher income households to raise the kids. That solution probably holds the most appeal for the tabula rasa faithful.

There's a labor market regulation approach: do not allow family without babies to earn more than 60% of median income and require businesses to pay all parents amounts that add up to 60%. How to reduce the disruption of such a wage restriction? Require one member of a married couple without kids to stay at home. At the same time, require both members of a married

There is yet another way: legalize polygamous marriage, especially by high earning men. But the money makers would not necessarily have to be men. A man could marry a couple of well compensated women and the 3 of them could make babies. But lower class women would need to either as small groups marry well paid men or as bigger groups bring their combined incomes to at least 60% of median income. A large enough group of women married to the same high income guy could provide child care for each other as well as do all household chores. But a few of them would need to be ready to go to work if the guy ever lost his job.

The key element in all these approaches is that some substantial group remains in the bottom 60% of households not earning very much. Single men and also women who do not want kids would have to play this part.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 14 04:20 PM 
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2015 May 08 Friday
With 36.8% Of Vote Tories Got Over Half Of Parliament Seats

While the Conservatives in Britain just won over half the seats in the British Parliament they did this with just 36.8% of the vote. An amazing consequence of the First Past The Post voting system. Between them Conservatives and Labour won about 67% of the vote. So about a third of the UK population voted for other parties.

While the UK Independence Party only has 1 Parliament seat it went from about 3% in the 2010 vote to almost 13% in the 2015 vote. The big gain by the UKIP of about 10% is the more amazing story of this election. Can the UKIP start winning majorities in some areas and get Parliament seats in the next election?

Will the Conservatives stay in the EU? Give the UK voters a chance to vote to exit the EU? Will the Conservatives cut back on immigration?

Andrew Stuttaford on "shy Tories":

Where did the pollsters go wrong? Probably by underestimating the amount of “shy Tories” that there are. Brits should pause to think of what it says about the country’s intellectual climate that so many voters on one side of the aisle are unwilling to disclose their voting preferences.

My guess is that if the people on the British Left stop to think about how well they've done in making conservatives afraid to express their views that they'll feel very self congratulatory. How thrilling to marginalize and delegitimatize your enemy.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 08 09:06 PM 
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Getting Hammered By Our Elites: Least Educated Hurting In Job Market

Why are workers without much education getting hammered? Since this is an article in The Gray Lady (aka The Blind Lady) it has no mention of immigration.

Stop immigration of anyone with an IQ below 120 and the salaries of the least cognitively able would not be quite so low.

Though in the long run the people at the bottom are all going to get replaced by robots. I have no idea what someone with an IQ of 80 will do for a living 20 years from now.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 08 08:28 PM 
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Labor Market Wants Technically Skilled And Few Heed The Call

Salary levels on the job market pretty much shout "study STEM subjects". But few people take that path. from the mid 1980s up to a few years ago the number of people getting STEM degrees stayed about the same while the number of college grads increased 50%.

Some people drop out of STEM degrees because it is hard. Others want to do work that involves more social interaction or caring for others. Check out what women major in at college. These college major choices are revealed preferences. What stands out: A very strong preference for the caring health professions. Useful jobs and fairly well paying too. But the women getting degrees in psychology are doing themselves no favors.

The women studying education are similarly wasting their time. Consider that the Teach For America idealists, while not really doing much good, are just as good at teaching as people who studied education as undergrads. So education degrees are a waste of time and money. But on the bright side, the numbers enrolled in teacher training have been plummeting.

Also on the bright side, the value added from STEM schools is getting more attention. Also on the bright side, some Ivy League graduates are going to coding camps after graduation to get the useful skills their expensive elite educations did not give them.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 08 07:15 PM 
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2015 May 02 Saturday
What Inner City Lower Class Really Like

Read this piece by Heather Mac Donald. Miss Linda is the crack addict mother of 3 adolescent boys growing up in Philadephia.

On Sixth Street, drug dealing is tantamount to a bourgeois occupation. Chuck complains that his middle brother, Reggie, lacks the patience for “making slow money selling drugs hand to hand.” Instead, Reggie favors armed robberies, to the admiration of his mother, Miss Linda. “He fearless,” she says. “A stone-cold gangster.” It would be a mistake, however, to think of drug dealing as a peaceful activity. Early on, a disgruntled supplier firebombs Chuck’s car. Chuck responds by shooting at the supplier’s home. In 2007, at the end of Goffman’s chronicle, Chuck is fatally shot in the head while standing outside a Chinese restaurant, one of three shootings that night in Philadelphia. The killer, Goffman writes, was “trying to make it at the bottom rung of a shrinking drug trade.”

Another part of the article:

Ned, 43, supports himself in part by stealing credit cards and intercepting checks in the mail. When he and his girlfriend Jean, a crack addict, need money for property taxes, they lure a cousin of Reggie’s (Miss Linda’s second son) to their house with the promise of gossip about a former girlfriend. Waiting there is a man in a hoodie, who robs the cousin at gunpoint. The unintended punch line of the story: Ned and Jean also get income from working as foster-care parents, a fact that does not apparently give Goffman pause but that speaks volumes, sadly, about the quality of parenting in the area.

Rob your cousin for property tax money. Just another day in Philly.

My sympathy is with the cops who have to keep us safe from these people.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 02 06:01 PM 
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Computers In Classroom Fail To Improve Performance

Larry Cuban, an emeritus prof at Stanford Graduate School of Education who has taught high school and worked as a school superintendent, says technology has failed to improve student academic performance See: The Lack of Evidence-Based Practice: The Case of Classroom Technology (Part 1)

Since 2010, laptops, tablets, interactive whiteboards, smart phones, and a cornucopia of software have become ubiquitous. Yet has academic achievement improved as a consequence? Has teaching and learning changed? Has use of devices in schools led to better jobs? These are the basic questions that school boards, policymakers, and administrators ask.

The answers to these questions are “no,” “no,” and “probably not.”

Test scores, the current gold standard policymakers use to determine academic achievement, show [i]

This is unsurprising to anyone who lacks the tabula rasa faith and has read the major findings of psychometric research. Since the computers aren't implanted inside brains of course they do not improve brains.

His second part: The Lack of Evidence-Based Practice–The Case of Classroom Technology (Part 2)

Politically smart state and local policymakers believe–here is where ideology enters the picture–that buying new tablets loaded with software, deploying them to K-12 classrooms, and watching how the devices engage both teachers and students will work; it is considered “best practice” because, well, “we believe in it.” The theory is that student engagement with the device and software will dramatically alter classroom instruction and lead to improved achievement. The problem, of course (you no doubt have guessed where I am going with this) — is that evidence of this electronic innovation transforming teaching and achievement growth is not only sparse but also unpersuasive even when some studies show a small “effect size.”

People with more Panglossian views think tablets, laptops, high speed internet, and virtual reality goggles are going to usher in a new age of super intellectual contributions by billions of humans. Wrong, wrong, and triple wrong. The computers will increase the productivity of those with the most cognitive ability while making much of the rest of the human population relatively less valuable. A growing fraction of the population will not work unless their wages are subsidized by tax revenue.

By Randall Parker 2015 May 02 11:02 AM 
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