Twigs and branches

by John Quiggin on April 11, 2021

(Overdue again!) Another open thread, where you can comment on any topic. Moderation and standard rules still apply. Lengthy side discussions on other posts will be diverted here. Enjoy!

Note: Unfortunately there appears to be no way to turn moderation off selectively, so the discussion here will be a bit slow. Still looking into options.

{ 62 comments }

1

J-D 04.12.21 at 12:38 am

In the Netherlands, the lower house* has voted for the record of the next round of government/coalition formation discussions to be made public. Pros? Cons?

In Dutch, de Tweede Kamer (literally, the Second Chamber); it seems that in English it’s become usual to refer to it as the House of Representatives, but since when?

2

William Berry 04.12.21 at 3:45 am

Another extra-judicial lynching by Glock 17 wielding MN police officer:
https://www.rawstory.com/minnesota-police-shoot-another-man/ (links to an NYT piece with video.)
A bit early, so there will likely be more detail later on, but it looks pretty f***ing egregious so far.

I have a fuzzy Eeyore and an air freshener hanging from the mirror of my Chrysler 300, but I’m an old white man so probably safe. /s

3

Alan 04.12.21 at 4:50 am

The Dutch second chamber is the only first chamber in the world that claims to be a second chamber.

4

nastywoman 04.12.21 at 6:53 am

and as our Resident ”Russian”? (Petrovna) reminded US about something which bothers me now – for a long time
that:
@nastywoman,
”If you have ever bought something produced offshore, for a fraction of the price you would have to pay to a unionized local producer, then perhaps you’re right: not unionization but you, possessed by GREED, are a factor leading to offshoring”.

Why are some people believing that the victims of outsourcing – are the instigators of outsourcing?
And not only Anglo Economists – who think it’s consumers – who force producers to be Greedy Rapture Capitalists by not willing to pay the prize for something like ”unionisation”?

I mean there is this ”Schwäbisch Unternehmer” who NEVER thought about ”outsourcing” or firing his (unionised) workers just because some consumers thought the underwear and shirts he produced in Germany with the highest (unionized) – labour costs were too expensive?

And that’s why he always was so successful – as that’s why the people always bought his underwear and shirts and NOT some ”crap” produced by some company wich outsourced to ”Slave Labour”!

So why in the World – did especially the Anglo-World outsource in such a GREEDY and stupid matter – and even a ”Perhaps Russian” also believes in such… weird economical (Anglo) Rules?

Is there a ”good” answer for this question from our Resident Economists?

5

Hidari 04.12.21 at 12:36 pm

Perhaps, now that Biden has asked for (and will get) the highest military budget for any country or state or organisation in human history, we could have a discussion about this?

https://twitter.com/AlanRMacLeod/status/1381354144825552902

6

William S. Berry 04.12.21 at 6:33 pm

Just a brief comment on moderation:

The practice of automatically placing every comment into moderation doesn’t work for open threads. The main idea of the open thread is t0 allow conversations among commenters on any topic. This is virtually impossible with the 100% pre-moderation.

There’s also an issue of timeliness. I made a time-sensitive comment last night which, as of this writing, hasn’t appeared yet. Today, the police murder of Daunte Wright is a top national news story. It would serve little purpose to post a link to an early news story about it now.

I suggest post-moderation just for these open threads. Otherwise, they’re basically pointless.

Just my NSHO.

7

Howard Frant 04.12.21 at 7:48 pm

Obviously, people will adapt their behavior to the knowledge that they are being observed. So how enforceable is this? Might they have back-channel communications? Also, who’s pushing this?

8

JanieM 04.12.21 at 9:58 pm

Some years ago, maybe around the time Henry Louis Gates was arrested trying to get into his own house, Crooked Timber had a guest post by someone connected with the police — a policeman who was studying for a PhD in some related field? — also a friend or acquaintance of one of the CT crew?

Can anyone who remembers that post (and there may have been more than one) point me to it?

9

DJ Orejon 04.13.21 at 9:41 pm

That’s interesting. Sort of like referring to the House of Commons as the House of Representatives. I wasn’t aware that this was a common practice.

10

de Pony Sum 04.13.21 at 10:33 pm

I came up with a list of 11 reasons a person could be negatively affected by relative income effects to dispel the idea that they just represent “envy”. Can anyone think of any additional cases?

A) Alexandria is less happy due to relative income effects. Because she is poorer than most of her neighbours, the thinning of the bottom section of the market for many commodities has reduced the variety of goods available for her to purchase. A greater portion of products sold in her area (or perhaps even her country) is aimed at the top of the market. For example, she can’t find many restaurants or clothes shops in her area that cater to her price bracket. She is particularly worried about gentrification. If her neighborhood becomes further gentrified, she may be pushed out of her home of many years, unable to afford the rent.

B) Jason is unhappy because his low relative income means that he is regularly disrespected for the “shabby” standards of his clothes, house, absence of bed-frame, etc.

C) Ebony is upset by relative income effects because she believes that income is a form of social recognition. Her relatively low income means she is not being justly recognized by society. In particular, she works as a hospital cleaner and does a lot of unpaid reproductive labour at home as well. Ebony feels that the millions of people like her deserve more. What she perceives as unjust pay stings her sense of self-worth.

D) Xi is upset by the high relative income of others because he believes these incomes give the rich disproportionate power, undermining democratic decision-making. If this hunch is right, he may be impacted by decision-making which actually does favour the rich- even when it doesn’t show up in changes to absolute income.

E) Marco is upset by certain very high incomes because he feels they have not been justly earned. He feels that the real contribution of, say, advertising executives to society – which may even be negative at the margin- is not at all proportional to their large salaries.

F) Theodora feels that huge disparities in income, and a focus on the top end of the market, mean she doesn’t see enough depictions of people like her in the media.

G) Bob is concerned that the low relative income of his ethnic group contributes to stereotyping and prejudice against them.

H) Jessica is concerned about her low relative income because it means that she can only afford to put her children in a residualised school. Since schooling is more stratified by income in more unequal societies, and more prestigious tertiary education institutions tend to select students from more prestigious secondary schools, this will put her children at a disadvantage. Note that this is strictly about relative income- it’s about the quality of the schools relative to each other, not their absolute quality. (Morgan 2021- personal communication)

I) Jennifer is lonely because she can’t afford to participate in the social activities of their peer group. When they go out drinking, her low relative income means she can’t join them. (Dannaher 2021- personal communication)

J) Simae feels instinctively humiliated by seeing many people of a much higher status than her, through a kind of automatic evolutionary reflex, or perhaps a response developed in early childhood. Noble or not, she can’t control this reflex.

K) Lisa is concerned about her low relative income because she believes that her unique entrepreneurial genius in starting a jet ski dealership in Florida has not been recognized.

( Originally posted here: https://philosophybear.substack.com/p/what-are-relative-income-effects . Very happy to talk with anyone who has thoughts on the relationship between envy and relative income effects. )

11

Tim H. 04.14.21 at 3:51 pm

No idea, but they want to give folks a peek at the sausage manufacturing.

12

notGoodenough 04.14.21 at 9:06 pm

Hidari @ 5

Sure.

The US spends far too much on its military, with huge amounts wasted on vanity projects, unnecessary excess, and ridiculous toys[1]. AFAIK, this has been the case for longer than I’ve been alive, and unfortunately I doubt it will change any time soon. While I’m not sure the “1.7% increase in military spending” is cause for the sort of hysterical histrionics you usually indulge yourself in, I would say that the US (much like many other countries, though to a vastly inflated degree) spends far too much (particularly given how much of this spending is pretty much unsupervised and unquestioned).

Indeed, many Democrat politicians have pointed this out and are arguing for cuts[2]; and while Biden should be commended for making moves towards ending some of the US’s military adventurism, should this budget pass he will also deserve criticism for this sort of bloat. While some argument could be made that this is a way to stimulate the economy that Republicans will find difficult to oppose (you know, like they have opposed raising minimum wage, abolishing “right to work laws”, stimulous checks for those in need, etc.), evidence suggests military spending is often the least efficient route to this (but then again, Biden may very well be pushing for money to spend in as many directions as possible, in order to protect against the Republican obstruction we are likely to see over the next 4 years).

Of course, it will be important to see how this shakes out in the specifics (for example, military spending can support other more important fields often otherwise neglected – even in my own field, my counterparts in US energy labs are often supported via DOD R&D). For example, if the money goes towards pork spending (to bribe future votes), improving R&D (in, for example, energy or monitoring climate change), or other such “military-but-not-really” spending, it may well be a positive move given the political realities of the US. Alternatively, if it goes towards more toys so that “top brass” can continue making “pew pew” laser noises, it will just be a continuation of the US’s disappointing record (worth criticising and opposing, but hardly something new).

Having said all that, I imagine there will be things to criticise during Biden’s presidency and I imagine there will be things to welcome. So long as there is more to welcome than criticise, he will have done vastly better than most of the presidents of the last 30+ years.

[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/its-time-to-rein-in-inflated-military-budgets/
[2] https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/biden-military-budget/

13

nastywoman 04.14.21 at 10:05 pm

@
”Just a brief comment on moderation”
and
”There’s also an issue of timeliness”.

I always enjoyed ”the complete outdatedness of CT” –
(trying to say it as much ”outdated” as possible)
as I sometimes thought –
how… ”crookedtimberlike” –
if all of my comments about the Pandemic –
would finally appear –
when the Pandemic is

over…?

14

J-D 04.15.21 at 12:57 am

That’s interesting. Sort of like referring to the House of Commons as the House of Representatives. I wasn’t aware that this was a common practice.

My impression of how common it is may be exaggerated, but I’m reasonably confident that it is at least more common than it used to be.

A related example which has (at least, this is my impression) been common for much longer is the use of the expression ‘Prime Minister’. For example, the Spanish-language title of the position currently held by Pedro Sánchez is Presidente del Gobierno, so it’s natural for Spanish people to refer to him in Spanish as Presidente and in English as ‘President’; but in English-language sources the position is routinely referred to as ‘Prime Minister’ and not as ‘President of the Government’. The Swedish-language title of the position currently held by Stefan Löfven isStatsminister, but in English-language sources the position is routinely referred to as ‘Prime Minister’ and not as ‘Minister of State’. English-language sources routinely refer to the position currently held by Benjamin Netanyahu as ‘Prime Minister’ and not as ‘Head of Government’, and so on. The only exception I can think of is that it is not routine in English to substitute ‘Prime Minister’ for ‘Chancellor’ (representing the German-language Kanzler) when referring to the positions currently held by Angela Merkel and Sebastian Kurz.

15

J-D 04.15.21 at 1:13 am

Obviously, people will adapt their behavior to the knowledge that they are being observed. So how enforceable is this? Might they have back-channel communications? Also, who’s pushing this?

If there are specific individuals or groups who are pushing for it, I don’t know who they are. If anybody’s interested, I could explain as much as I know about the background, but everything I know was pulled from news websites and Wikipedia where others can also easily find it. Are there general arguments for or against a measure like this don’t depend on the specifics of recent political developments? How would they be affected by the impossibility of enforcing a ban on back-channel communications?

16

JanieM 04.15.21 at 2:52 am

Per my question above about an old post on policing — my first attempts to find it via Google failed. But since it took almost two days for my comment to get through moderation, and who knows when the replies (if any) will get posted, I tried again.

I found references to the post in two places:

https://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/blog/2009/07/27/arresting-power/

http://aphilosopher.drmcl.com/2009/07/23/obama-the-professors-arrest/

They both link here:

https://crookedtimber.org/2009/07/23/police-discretion-a-different-perspective/

But that link gives me a 404 error, even though an earlier, at least loosely related post comes through just fine:

https://crookedtimber.org/2009/07/20/skip-gates-arrested/

Google gives me a lot of results about Brandon del Pozo, the police officer who wrote, or was prominently featured in, the missing 7/23/2009 piece. Since I remember his thoughts on the power and place of the police in our society to be extremely if subtly chilling, and implacably unbending, I’ll be curious to see what he’s been up to since then. (A checkered career, it looks like, just from skimming Google headlines.)

Funny that the post has disappeared.

17

J-D 04.15.21 at 4:05 am

I) Jennifer is lonely because she can’t afford to participate in the social activities of their peer group. When they go out drinking, her low relative income means she can’t join them. (Dannaher 2021- personal communication)

If I remember rightly (it’s years since I read it), in Alexei Sayle’s Overtaken, the main character socialises with a group of couples, and when one couple breaks up, the ex-husband continues to socialise with the group (with a new partner, I think?) but the ex-wife doesn’t because she can no longer afford the cost of their social activities, and there is an explicit discussion in the book (not between the characters, in the narration) of the possibility of the other group members paying for her and how it couldn’t work because of the disruptive psychological impact of the knowledge that she was being subsidised, leading to a conclusion about the effect of money in dividing people socially.

I have a friend that I have paid for at restaurants through a mostly tacit understanding, and it seems we can handle it, but it makes me conscious of how such arrangements could fail to work.

In The Castle, the main character subsidises the participation of an aged pensioner: the pensioner always says he’ll pay the money back, and it’s obvious to the viewer that (although nobody is crass enough to hint at the knowledge) everybody knows he’ll never be able to. It seems everybody’s psychologically adjusted to this, but there must be a psychological adjustment required, and it wouldn’t come equally easily to everybody. In a world with less difference between rich and poor, there would be less need for people to make this kind of sometimes difficult psychological adjustment.

18

nastywoman 04.15.21 at 9:05 am

and @
”Perhaps, now that Biden has asked for (and will get) the highest military budget for any country or state or organisation in human history, we could have a discussion about this”?

agreed –
if we first discuss that Biden has asked for (and got) the highest amount of dough for families with children and reducing poverty in my homeland –
AND
that he has asked for (and hopefully will get) the highest infrastructure budget for any country or state or organisation in human history?

How about that?
(as Biden – at the same – really wants to end the war in Afghanistan)

19

John Quiggin 04.15.21 at 9:33 am

William @6 I take your point. If I can work out how to do different settings for different posts, I’ll propose a move to ex post moderation for Twigs and Branches. Posts that breach the rules (in the non-disputable judgement of the CT crew) will be deleted or disemvowelled.

20

notGoodenough 04.15.21 at 10:25 am

JanieM @ 16

I´m not sure if this will be helpful, but perhaps use of the “wayback machine” (internet archiving) might support your endeavors? There I found several examples of the post I believe you are referring to, e.g.:

https://web.archive.org/web/20100206103113/https://crookedtimber.org/2009/07/23/police-discretion-a-different-perspective/

I hope this is of use to you – nG

21

Hidari 04.15.21 at 10:55 am

‘(as Biden – at the same – really wants to end the war in Afghanistan)’

Er….no. Biden says he really wants to end the war in Afghanistan. If he actually does and actually does pull out all US troops by September 11…fantastic! Huzzah! That would be great and a genuine break from the Trump regime (and the Obama regime FWIW).

But let’s just wait and see, shall we?

Generally speaking, and responding to @12, Biden talks a good game and has the advantage of an overwhelmingly favourable press corps (which, to put it mildly, Trump did not have). So there’s lots of good things Biden has said and promised. And that’s good. But we are literally less than 4 months into what will presumably be an 8 year presidency (Biden’s health permitting). So let’s just hold off the FDR comparisons for a few months eh? Or better still a few years.*

Many a slip ‘tween cup and lip and all that.

*American leaders might not be aware of this, but Tony Blair was similar brought to power with a similarly positive ‘vibe’ from the press corps: like Biden, they desperately wanted Blair to succeed. And of course the first Blair term of office was an astonishing success. It was only in his second, with his response to 9/11, that his popularity began to flag, and by the end of his third term, he was a lonely and despised figure, as of course he still is. So let’s just hold back on popping the champagne corks just yet.

22

Tm 04.15.21 at 11:01 am

@14 I suppose the difficulty for Anglos is that Spain is a monarchy and thus not supposed to have a president. The commonly used German equivalent for the Spanish head of government is Ministerpräsident, which is closer to the original but not an exact translation either. It is however a commonly used title in German, and it sems to convey the correct meaning, but doesn’t have a good English translation. Wikipedia has an entry for it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister-president) but that isn’t commonly used in English language news; BBC just uses “premier”.

23

Tm 04.15.21 at 11:16 am

@Hidary if you want to have a discussion about the defense budget, why don’t you say something interesting about it?

24

JanieM 04.15.21 at 11:43 am

notGoodenough @20 — Thanks! I never thought of the Wayback Machine, but that is indeed the post I remembered.

25

notGoodenough 04.15.21 at 12:58 pm

Hidar @ 21

I would gently point out that I have not made a comparison between Biden and FDR, and that I specifically qualified my statements by noting we do need to see what actually happens (and indeed noted that I think it likely we will need to look at the positives and negatives of the actions, and not the rhetoric).

However, with respect you bought up the topic and invited discussion. As you correctly note, it is quite early to draw conclusions (indeed, I believe the budget has yet to be finalised), so I am unsure as to what you wished to discuss if not hypotheticals? I am sorry if you found my response unsatisfying, but please do feel free to suggest a manner of discourse more in line with your interest (this is not intended as a derogatory, but merely to explain my confusion and invite your clarification).

As a general reiteration, I would agree that Biden´s record should be examined with respect to both positives and negatives of his actions, and certainly there appears to be plenty of time to see what happens and for these actions to disappoint/horrify/etc. (the proof of the pudding is in the eating, after all). While I appreciate your caution, as someone who has “limited expectations” of politicians in general I don´t believe I am in too much danger of over-enthusiasm.

Time will, as they say, tell.

26

Tm 04.15.21 at 2:12 pm

@21 “has the advantage of an overwhelmingly favourable press corps (which, to put it mildly, Trump did not have)”

Oh sure, our resident Trumpontrarian. Trump himself boasted that the press coverage of every fart of his was worth billions in campaign spending. And a picture says more than a thousand words: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13570724/media-obsession-emails

Shall we have a philosophical debate of what it means to have a “favourable press”?
For example: Is it “favourable press” or just fact-based news reporting when Biden’s popular and verifiable accomplishments get reported as accomplishments?
Or: Is it favourable or unfavourable when a politician who lies on average ten times a day gets tons of press coverage for every single one of his lies, some of it – but only some of it – pointing out accurately that they are lies? Professional con-men like Trump know the answer to these questions and it’s not what naive media bashers think it is.

27

Alan White 04.15.21 at 2:21 pm

“Biden talks a good game and has the advantage of an overwhelmingly favourable press corps (which, to put it mildly, Trump did not have).”

How far can your carts get pulling those wild horses? Jeez.

28

Gorgonzola Petrovna 04.15.21 at 2:46 pm

I like that this new administration keeps in place the tariffs introduced by the previous administration. Except for ‘pausing’ tariffs on imports from the EU.

I don’t like the return of imperialist rhetoric (the Anchorage talks) and escalation of imperialist bullying (vis-a-vis Russia-Ukraine relations, recently). The tiresome white-man’s-burden lecturing about ‘advancing democracy and human rights’. There’s going to be a whole lot of it now, I guess. Although, to be fair, some of it started during the last days of the previous administration.
Oh, and the escalation in Syria, of course.

29

steven t johnson 04.15.21 at 2:47 pm

Hidari@21 wrote “…Biden talks a good game and has the advantage of an overwhelmingly favourable press corps (which, to put it mildly, Trump did not have).”

The idea that Trump did not have a favorable press corps, when it gave him billions of dollars of free publicity instead of ignoring him like Sanders is bizarre enough. Fox News is mainstream media. Biden does not get good press there. This supposed overwhelmingly favorable to Biden press corps is past bizarre, into straightforward Trumpery. The idea is that the MSM is liars, but Fox et al. are actually fair and balanced, I suppose. Non-factual premises make failed arguments.

Disreputable sources like Fox, or the equally egregious Washington Examiner, are duly displayed in newsfeeds for msn.com or an internet provider like Suddenlink. You don’t get much more mainstream than msn. (CNN by the way is not favorable to Biden on Afghanistan.) The people who invest in audiences, i.e., the people who purchase advertisers, are still supporters of Fox and radio chains like Sinclair and Clear Channel. The owners are still quite fond of Trump’s disdain for mere rules. And they certainly still want to invest in the indoctrination of an audience in the proper ideas and values.

As to “Biden” keeping to the deadline, it is more probable that he will. The number one reason is that the Republicans would have to take lead but even they are hesitant to bet so much on this nag. Also, reversal would be weak, and a huge concession so early in his presidency would threaten political impotence. Further, if Biden is failing, then the number one influence becomes Dr. Jill. Like Nancy Reagan, the wives have fewer illusions about how profitable being tough really is.

As to the defense budget, the need to pacify the generals and colonels, who are largely Republicans at best, so far as I can tell, is I think a significant issue. The military stood down during Trump’s coup. The media of course will only talk about extremism in the ranks, but the real problem is extremism in the officer corps. As the intervention by the defense secretaries prior to January 6 revealed, those in the know are well aware that there are widespread sympathies in the caste for Trumpery, or even worse.

30

Hidari 04.15.21 at 4:03 pm

Fascinating fact: ‘In a February poll by Gallup a record 62 percent agreed that “the (established) parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”

Interesting then that the HR1 bill, currently being mindlessly cheered on by the corporate media, will make it ‘ harder for third-party presidential candidates to get federal financing, because it increases the amount of support candidates have to demonstrate to qualify. ‘ (although to be fair, it will make third party contests easier for other elections).

Given this context, the narrative that was spun and created by the corporate media (i.e. it’s Weimar in 1932, Trump is Hitler, Biden is FDR)* which had the desired effect of increasing voting for the establishment parties and decreasing them for the non-establishment parties, makes perfect sense.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/03/16/hr1-public-funding-third-parties/

*Fascinating fact: I was watching old editions of Firing Line with William F. Buckley on Youtube, which, despite his ghastly politics, is a concrete indicator of how much the media and intellectual life in general has degenerated since the ’60s. Anyways, there was a ‘student revolutionary’ on, and almost the first words that came out of his mouth were that the US in 1968 was exactly like Weimar Germany in 1932, and Buckley nodded sagely: he obviously didn’t think this was an outrageous thing to say. So it’s been Weimar in 1932 (in the US) for a while. I’m willing to bet that in 50 years time, assuming the Republicrats still control the US and the US Empire still straddles the globe, the chief topic of intellectual discussion will still be how close we are to ‘dictatorship’ and it will still be Weimar in 1932. In the United States, it seems, it will always be Weimar in 1932, even unto the end of the world.

31

J-D 04.16.21 at 3:35 am

Tjeenk Willink told a press conference on Wednesday that he sees his task as identifying the barriers to trust between parties and how they can be removed so that a new coalition can be formed. He stressed he was not interested in discussing the fate of individual politicians.

He said the next government should not be bound by a tightly drafted coalition agreement, which diminishes parliament’s ability to scrutinise and influence its policies. ‘It disturbs the balance of power and makes the opposition redundant,’ he told a press conference on Wednesday.

https://www.curacaochronicle.com/post/world/nl-trust-needs-to-be-restored-says-tjeenk-willink-as-coalition-talks-restart/

That’s dangerously muddled thinking. If policy decisions are going to be made by parliament, with all parliamentary parties contributing to them, then there’s no need to have a cabinet at all. On the other hand, if you’re going to have a cabinet that has an actual function, then it’s going to make policy decisions without all parliamentary parties contributing. Really, it’s got to be one or the other.

32

J-D 04.16.21 at 4:00 am

I suppose the difficulty for Anglos is that Spain is a monarchy and thus not supposed to have a president. The commonly used German equivalent for the Spanish head of government is Ministerpräsident, which is closer to the original but not an exact translation either. It is however a commonly used title in German, and it sems to convey the correct meaning, but doesn’t have a good English translation. Wikipedia has an entry for it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister-president) but that isn’t commonly used in English language news; BBC just uses “premier”.

Here’s a Dutch-language source using, interchangeably, both premier and (the official) minister-president:
https://www.businessinsider.nl/sigrid-kaag-premier-nederland/

In English, ‘Minister-President’ seems odd, or perhaps it would be better to describe it as exotic, and so does ‘President of the Government’. But there’s nothing exotic in English about Chancellor (which is actually used for German-language Kanzler) or Premier, or Head of Government, which would be a more direct translation (than Prime Minister) of titles used in a number of countries (of which Israel, as I mentioned, is one example).

Circling back to the Dutch Tweede Kamer, even if referring to it in English as the Second Chamber would seem exotic, calling it the lower house (of Parliament) would be more neutral and less reflective of an apparent Americanising influence than calling it the House of Representatives; or the name could simply be left untranslated in Dutch, in the way that (at least sometimes) English-language sources refer to Germany’s Bundestag, or Israel’s Knesset, or Iceland’s Althing. I feel as if both of these were more common in the past: if I’m right, what’s changed?

33

nastywoman 04.16.21 at 6:31 am

@
”Er….no. Biden says he really wants to end the war in Afghanistan”.

Er… yes – as before he does it – he would have to say it as a US President –
and about when he will finally do it and about ”So let’s just hold off the FDR comparisons for a few months eh? Or better still a few years.* – that just doesn’t work as he is already in the history books –
and it seem –
that I REALLY have to need to repeat that here
as:
”The US President – who with the American Rescue Plan has cut child poverty in my homeland the United States of America nearly in half”

AND I really –
REALLY!!!
like children!

AND I really wonder why just I?
ME-
MOI
always have to post that Biden really cut Child Poverty in the US nearly in half?
(and then somebody else posts: but, but,but,but,butnbut,butnbut…

34

Gorgonzola Petrovna 04.16.21 at 9:10 am

@nastywoman
“Is there a ”good” answer for this question from our Resident Economists?”

I recall one answer; it goes like this: ‘offshoring is a good thing, leading to greater global equality and global justice’.

What say you?

35

Hidari 04.16.21 at 10:39 am

Not going to comment much on this, as it’s mainly boilerplate DNC talking points.

A few comments:

1: of course it’s absolutely true that Fox News and Sinclair were absolutely pro-Trump (although Murdoch bailed out a few months before the last election). But they are by no means the only news media in the US, and, most importantly, they are not the news media of choice for the ‘educated’, mainly white, mainly male, middle class elite who work in tech, education, the media (i.e. the non-Trump media), and ‘public services’ more generally**. These people prefer to read /watch the NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN, the Guardian, the BBC, and so on.

And these media were of course aggressively and indeed hysterically anti-Trump throughout Trump’s term, relentlessly and mindlessly pushing the DNC ‘Trump is the New Hitler’ and ‘Trump is Putin’s Puppet’ (both mutually exclusive but hey-ho) memes, with little scepticism shown to either. Now the ‘Biden is FDR’ meme is (with equal lack of scepticism) being pushed by these news media, and it’s obvious why they are doing this, and cui bono and all that.

Now if you are going to turn and, with astonishing cynicism, then play the ‘Ah ha! but the news media weren’t really anti-Trump because they made money off him!’ (which is of course true) then that’s unanswerable, apart from the fact that that this is like a super weapon that destroys the enemy and also destroys your own troops. Of course the ‘opposition’ to Trump was performative. You think that the cynical, brutal conglomerates and millionaires who run the corporate media (and be assured, the Guardian and the NYT are quite definitely part of the corporate media) genuinely believed, or genuinely cared if they did believe it, that Trump was a Russian agent, or that he was going to turn the US into a dictatorship? Of course not. And we know this for an objective fact, because if they genuinely believed it, their behaviour would have been different (they would have left the country for a start). So we know it’s all bullshit. And we have always known that, right from the start.

So, therefore, the ‘liberal’ (i.e. pro-DNC) position is that the corporate media are all dishonest evil hacks publishing lies for money but that, at the same time, everything laudatory they publish about Biden must be unquestioningly believed. It’s for the bewildered reader to decide whether or not this is a coherent intellectual position or whether it is not.

2; ‘Is it fact-based news reporting when Biden’s popular and verifiable accomplishments get reported as accomplishments?’

As of this date, right now, Biden literally has no verifiable accomplishments. At all. Literally zero. His stimulus bill has only just passed and has barely began to ‘function’ yet. Will it cut child poverty? We don’t know. Will it pull America out of the Covid recession? We don’t know. Will it reduce unemployment? We don’t know. We simply have no idea how this stimulus bill will work, if it will work, how it will function, and (and this is the most important point) whether it will be enough and what happens afterwards.

I would so much respect for you guys if you just admitted that you were biased in favour of the DNC controlled Democratic Party (nothing wrong with bias, everyone is biased) and that you tend to like ‘news’ that flatters the DNC/Biden, and you tend to hate ‘news’ that flatters Trump and the Republicans and that whether this news is true or not is of less importance to you.

Incidentally not, I gather, that anyone here is interested in objective evidence, but the ‘news media is totally and completely biased against the DNC’ meme is problematicised by the fact that ‘that large portions of Democrats express trust in a far greater number of news sources’. Especially of course CNN, MSNBC (AKA the Joe Biden is Great Channel) and the NYT.

The pro-DNC ‘liberal’ American media-sphere not only dwarfs in size the pro-Republican media-sphere but also has international purchase, which the Republican side does not. Outside the US, no one cares about Hannity or Tucker Carlson or talk radio or Fox News let alone Sinclair. But people absolutely do read and care about the NYT and CNN: these are easily available and watched/read outside the US. And they are read by policy-forming elites, who generally speaking, trust and like them.

Final point: I’m loving the tone here, of bemused or ‘humorous’ patronising condescension, mainly coming from people who are not only wrong, but objectively and non-disputably wrong about easily verifiable key points. It really is true that True Believers of the DNC cult literally cannot accept the idea that anyone in their right mind would not want to worship at the Temple of Biden, and that, therefore, anyone who questions that he is (after 4 months!!) the Greatest President in modern American history must be mentally ill, or evil, or a Trumpist, or similar.

This is great stuff guys, keep it coming.

https://www.journalism.org/2020/01/24/democrats-report-much-higher-levels-of-trust-in-a-number-of-news-sources-than-republicans/

** These elites are gradually becoming more diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity, even as they get less diverse in terms of ‘education’ and social class.

36

Tm 04.16.21 at 11:03 am

J-D 31: I’m curious why you think “lower house” is a more neutral term. The distinction of lower and upper house historically reflects a system with one chamber for commoners and one for aristocrats. To my knowledge, it only still exists in the UK. Although the first chamber of the Dutch General States (Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal) initially was composed of aristocrats appointed by the king, it was democratized a long time ago and apparently is today also referred to as Senate.

37

nastywoman 04.16.21 at 11:10 am

BUT I thank my brothers TM – White and Johnson – that they came to the rescue of the Children of America and ALL
journalists who helped US to get rid of the worst Racist Right Wing Science MY life has seen –
and about:
”Given this context, the narrative that was spun and created by the corporate media (i.e. it’s Weimar in 1932, Trump is Hitler, Biden is FDR)* which had the desired effect of increasing voting for the establishment parties and decreasing them for the non-establishment parties, makes perfect sense”.
I –
ME
want to inform Hidari that this – ”narrative” ALSO helped my progressive friends in New Mexico to ”conquer” AND now the Capitol is next – and Trump never was ”Hitler” –
he was ”Liddle” Hitler for ”Tiny Hitler” and those are the worst ones as they have the power to make so many of my fellow Americans hate their Asian or Black Neighbours –
AND
WE – can’t have that –
Right – Hidari?

38

notGoodenough 04.16.21 at 2:51 pm

Hidari @ 29

Yet another new topic – how fun!

So, yes – it is fascinating that “In a February poll by Gallup a record 62 percent agreed that “the (established) parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”

Even more fascinating is when you look further into the Gallup poll details (note: usual caveat re polls and the usefulness thereof). For example, the choice of February (actually Jan21-Feb2) is a rather interesting one, for if you look at the data (R, republican; I, independent; D, democrat [1]):

Date : R/I/D
5-19 Nov 20 : 30/38/31
1-17 Dec 20 : 25/41/31 (Note: the increase in I correlates with a decrease in R)
4-15 Jan 21 : 24/45/30
21 Jan – 2 Feb 21 : 25/50/25 (this is the data @29 refers to)
3-18 Feb 21 : 26/41/32
1-15 March 21 : 25/41/32

Likely the astute commentators of CT will notice that while D remains relatively stable at ca. 30-32%, R decreased from 30 to 25 (with a correlated increase in I) in December – with one exception which is a brief spike (coincidentally this is the data the poll @29 refers to). Even more interestingly, R and I are the most likely to favour a 3rd party [2] at 63 and 70%; by contrast D favour a 3rd party 46% (an actual downturn since September). So, to summarise, the people most favouring a 3rd party are R and I (with I potentially having increased its share of R), while D seem relatively happy (and indeed, happier than before Biden was elected).

Indeed, it is worth noting that support for a 3rd party has remained fairly stable (57-62%) since October 2013 (60%), with the previous highest point (61%) being in 2017 (one year after Trump´s presidency). The previous lowest point was (as far as I can tell) in Autumn 2012 (46%) prior to which it had been at 58%. In short, support for a 3rd party is hardly exceptionally high compared to the usual baseline (I would recommend looking that the graph [1,2] to see this more clearly), and I would certainly wait for the next result before drawing any conclusions.

Even more interestingly, I couldn´t help but notice how this relates to the comment [3]:

[“the corporate media narrative”]“which had the desired effect of increasing voting for the establishment parties and decreasing them for the non-establishment parties, makes perfect sense.”

As previously noted, if anything “the narrative” appear to have had little-to-no effect on D support (which admittedly fluctuates, but has been around 30% since 2010), arguably little on R/I (which again fluctuate, but should be noted that 25/41 and 30/38 are hardly exceptional outliers – R+I changes like these here are not exactly uncommon), and arguably little on that for a 3rd party (again, 62% is the highest, but it has also been 61% in 2017 and 60% in 2013 and 2015 – so changes leading to similar levels of support are not exactly strongly correlating with Trump´s presidency or any commentary thereof).

The idea that “the narrative” has had any significant effect on political opinions at all seems, therefore, somewhat at odds with the data. Of course, this is just “level of support” measure by a poll – but if there is evidence that there has been any significant change in “establishment votes” resulting from a “media narrative” I´ve yet to see it [4].

Amusingly, as a side note, from this poll an examination of independent voters who lean D reveal more actually want the party to move more moderate (42%) than liberal (35%), and when looking at those who lean R the majority want the party to move more conservative (36%) than moderate (30%).

In short, it seems that contra to @29 [5], far from the “corporate media” squashing a populist uprising it would instead seem that the media coverage of Trump has had little influence on variations in % of popular support. Even worse for the argument, it seems the high degree of support for a 3rd party is hardly unified regarding what people would want that 3rd party to look like. Indeed, the numbers might even seem to suggest that increasing political parties would either result in a 3rd more centrist party, or multiple additional parties across the political spectrum (garnering less support than the current “establishment”).

But, this is public opinion polling – let´s set that aside for no, for surely it is certainly worth examining HR1 (the nausea-inducingly titled “For the People Act 2021”) in a little more detail?

“Interesting then that the HR1 bill, currently being mindlessly cheered on by the corporate media, will make it ‘ harder for third-party presidential candidates to get federal financing, because it increases the amount of support candidates have to demonstrate to qualify.” [6]

This bill does indeed make it harder for 3rd party presidential candidates to qualify for federal funding – the amount goes from requiring them to raise $5000 per state to $25000 per state. Now personally I think the effect of campaign donations and the money spent in elections is highly corrosive (and that we should worry more about reducing the upper limit than increasing the lower), but the question should not be “is this a significant move wrt. nG´s ideal system?” (no, but that´s because my ideal system would be so radically different that this would be a drop in the ocean) but rather “is this a significant move wrt. the system as it currently exists in the US?”.

So, it is perhaps worth noting that this raises the qualifying bar from > $100,000 to > $500,000. Will this really prove to be an onerous obstetrical for political parties? Well, let´s take a look at how this stacks up for 3rd parties in the 2020 election. So, Libertarians (3rd highest number of votes, with 1,865,724) cleared the bar; according to the Green Party (4th highest, with 405,035 – i.e. 22% of the votes the Libertarians received, or 0.54% of those Trump received) they cleared the pre-HR1(2021) bar (but it is not clear that they would have with the introduced limits). The Green party in 2016 and 2012 would seem to have, by contrast, succeeded and been eligible (as would the Libertarians in those years). But I will certainly admit this move might well threaten the populist electoral juggernaut with the 5th most support (Alliance), with their staggering 88,234 votes (though I can´t be sure, I think they would also still pass due to self-funding – though I might be misreading this)…

Now I wish to be clear, I certainly wouldn´t say that this aspect of the bill is good by any means (again, I neither support this particular amendment, nor do I support “money in politics” in general), and I will say that I can imagine negatives – but given the numbers it is hard to conclude that the most significant problem is “lack of finance” rather than…well, “lack of voter support”.

Indeed, surely it is worth noting that this change impacts presidential campaigns and not congressional campaigns – if one is interested in changing US politics, I can´t help but suspect 3rd parties would do better directing their attention to the latter than the former (given the limitations on Presidential power – even supposing a party is somehow incapable of getting a congressperson elected but can win a presidential election).

But could a system be arranged which negates this disadvantage and makes 3rd party (and 4th, 5th, 6th, etc.) politics more viable? Absolutely. But I see little reason to think (a) it would involve anything other than a huge redesign of the US political system from the ground up (not a bad thing – but were I overhauling US politics I can think of better hills to die on than “there is an increase in required funds raised to qualify for federal support of a presidential campaign”) or (b) it would result in much in the way of a dramatic change in politics in general anyway. Indeed, I suspect that if effective change is what is desired, it would have to start with an actual organised movement with popular support first before it got anywhere near the “presidential election stage” [7].

Thus, it seems to me that this particular alteration will hardly shift the needle at all compared to what would be needed. I´m not supporting it, of course, but it is hard to see why this is eliciting the degree of concern it is – unless the point were not to advocate for actual change but instead to find excuses to rail against the effect of the Democrats on politics while ignoring that of the Republicans (similar to, picking an example purely at random, promulgating in bad faith the notion that this relatively small change in finance is a greater problem for US politics than the Republican voter suppression – not, I´m sure, that anyone would ever do such a thing).

I would also like to note that there are things I found objectionable in this bill [8], and things that I think are very good. But as this post is already long enough, I will merely finish with a hope that should anyone read my comment (and well done if you do – I know my prose is hardly the most interesting or significant), they respond to what I´ve actually said (and not what they think I´ve said) [9].

References and footnotes:
[1] https://news.gallup.com/poll/15370/Party-Affiliation.aspx

[2] https://news.gallup.com/poll/329639/support-third-political-party-high-point.aspx

[3] https://crookedtimber.org/2021/04/11/twigs-and-branches-8/#comment-810054

[4] comparing elections with % popular vote R/D:
2020 46.9/51.3; 2016 46.1/48.2; 2012 47.2/51.1; 2008 45.7/52.9; 2004 50.7/48.3; 2000 47.9/48.4
This neglects, of course, the fine details, but it seems 100-(R+D) gives 1.8, 5.7, 1.7, 1.4, 1, 3.7. I should note that this is a very rough analysis – and certainly I welcome correction from anyone offering supporting data – but there seems little reason to conclude that there had been a massive shift away from 3rd party votes due to “media narrative” (if anything, it would seem Clinton was the exception rather than the rule – but speculation as to why that might be is beyond the scope of this comment).

[5] And again, I would like to emphasise that I would by no means posit my rough and ready analysis as particularly definitive, but it is – I would humbly suggest – slightly better than mere assertion. However, if there is data to support @29 (or in opposition to what I´ve stated), I would certainly welcome seeing it – I always appreciate an opportunity to improve my understanding.

[6] I could note that the use of “mindlessly cheered on by the corporate media” is interesting, given that Fox news opposes the bill. This perhaps gives yet another quanta of insight regarding a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to determining which media are “biased corporate stooges” and which are…er…”fair and balanced”, so to speak…

[7] Not to rehash the same tired arguments again, but I will say I think “coalition of progressive movements broadly aligned with left-wing socialist/social democrat ideals” is more likely to succeed at this than “let´s form a party which prioritises my specific interests in the exact order I prioritise them, and opposes anyone who differs from my exact ordering of interests by even the slightest degree”. Of course, this is purely personal conjecture, so I will leave it there.

[8] I do find it interesting how differently concerns are prioritised when it comes to the effects of large amounts of money being interjected into campaign finance – personally I would like to see maximum limit sets as low as reasonably possible to reduce the money flowing into politics (which should not only make it easier to finance a campaign but also help reduce the political power wielded by donors), as opposed to being concerned that the bottom most politically successful parties won´t raise enough from who-knows-where. But different people have different perspectives, I suppose.

[9] I really should not have to say this, but I suspect I probably have to anyway: I would gently remind everyone that this comment is examining the claims @29 wrt. the US system – it is not a comment on whether or not I support this change or the current US system as it is (though as a non-USian my opinion here matters little, of course). I would also like to state again that I am personally a socialist, who thinks that the majority of countries in general could do with much stronger left-wing politics (and the US in particular) – and I do think the US political system is somewhat buggered as it stands, and I do have strong objections to the way US politics is conducted.

I just don´t think that the issues highlighted @29 are particularly significant with respect to all the rest of the problems, nor do I think the analysis given was particularly sound. And I think that if actual change is to be made, sound analysis and clear identification of the most impactful changes to be made would be critical.

39

steven t johnson 04.16.21 at 4:38 pm

Hidari@35 I think is responding directly to part of my comment. My apologies if vanity deceives me.

1.The defense that the mainstream media is only that which higher SES people read strikes me as nonsense. The mainstream media is that which is read and viewed by the larger part of the population. (By the way, Twitter and Facebook are not quite the world.) The idea that Murdoch has no news in other parts of the world also strikes me as nonsense,,, on stilts. (Jeremy Bentham, I think.)

On a personal note, I never believed Trump is Putin’s puppet, for approximately the same reasons I never believed Clinton was a traitor because of Uranium One/Benghazi/Clinton Cash/email servers, much less because of Mossad agent Jeffrey Epstein blackmailing the Democratic Party pedophiles. I believe it shows breathtaking cynicism to ignore the way those non-stories were endlessly puffed by the mainstream media (including the higher SES!) while complaining that similar nonsense was directed against Trump. The owners of the country no more believed Clinton was taking bribes to direct US foreign policy than Trump was Russian kompromat walking. Getting indignant about such cheap cynicism in oligarchs seems naive, but selective indignation is, well, peculiar.

If there was a point about the media making money off of Trump, it is lost in the nonsense. Les Moonves may want to make excuses for giving billions in publicity to Trump and puffing him up, but Trump was supported by much of the mainstream media. As I mentioned, the media could have made money by puffing Bernie Sanders. But the first audience, the producers, and the targets, the people who buy advertising, preferred Trump. Supporting Sanders the same way would have been profitable too, but no matter what they say, when it comes to class, sometimes not even profit matters. It’s a little like how the profits don’t lead everyone in Hollywood to make porn. This reminds me of my sister claiming the mainstream media were hyping the covid panic for profits, while ignoring how much money they lost in sports alone. The uptick in news ratings made up for broadcasting the Olympics? Bless her heart.

In my judgment, the real support for Trump is not the filthy rabble, envious of their betters. I think his real die hard support is the so-called betters, not just the small businessman or the retired military, but the obscenely rich. The idea that the obscenely rich would oppose Trump for wanting to be a American-style fascist leader strikes me as particularly absurd: I believe Trump got far more support, from the mainstream media too, than one of his key predecessors in authoritarian plotting, Richard Nixon. Thinking they wouldn’t support Trump because he was turning away from the old, tired democracy gives them far too much credit, in my judgment.

There is an alternative between accepting everything pro-Biden while rejecting anything pro-Trump. Consider the ostensible issue, the withdrawal from Afghanistan. I’m inclined to believe the troops will be withdrawn. I also believe Afghanistan is meant to remain a free fire zone, a playground for covert ops and the shopping mall for crooked warlords, drug barons and corrupt politicians. I suspect the reality of actually working for their money will drive out private contractors/mercenaries, who I suspect are intended to remain as well. People have really foolish ideas about how efficient capitalism is, I think. It is good rhetoric to impose a false dichotomy. But selectively rejecting pro-Biden is more about favoring Trump.

2.The only thing I will say here is: The idea the DNC is a Leninist central committee is howlingly funny, or would be, were it not apparently sincere.

3.@29 was a comment of mine, Hidari was @30.

40

nastywoman 04.16.21 at 8:32 pm

@
”His stimulus bill has only just passed and has barely began to ‘function’ yet. Will it cut child poverty? We don’t know”.

Yes we do.

”Will it pull America out of the Covid recession? We don’t know”
BUT the bill cut Child Poverty by nearly half.

”Will it reduce unemployment? We don’t know”.
BUT the bill cut Child Poverty nearly by half.

And so we know – that this bill will cut child poverty nearly by have – even if we don’t know
if somebody who doesn’t know it – ever will know it?

And as I will get ”respect” –
if I just admit that I am biased in favour of a Party (nothing wrong with bias, everyone is biased) which cuts child poverty nearly by half and that I tend to like ‘news’ that flatters the Party which cuts child poverty nearly by half , and I tend to hate ‘news’ that flatters Trump and the Republicans – who didn’t cut child poverty by half –
and who
NEVER EVER WILL – that whether this news is true or not – as I just LOVE people who try to cut child poverty by nearly half.

And as I gather, that everyone here is interested in objective evidence,
I –
we offer Hidari a ticket from everywhere in the US to Miami next Friday in order to accompany US to families – who provide the ”objective evidence” for Hidari – that the bill cut child poverty nearly by half.

Final point: Everything else is ”Blablabla”

”This is great stuff – H – keep it coming.

41

Tm 04.16.21 at 8:49 pm

Stu 39: you make a good point when you say that the corporate media’s ceaseless promotion of everything Trump cannot be explained by cynical profiteering alone. I think we have to take into account the deeply misogynistic culture rampant in the media, some of which meetoo has brought into the open. Many of the men wielding media power, both fascist and liberal, must have felt a deep connection with Trump. That, and only that, also explains the unprecedented hate directed against Clinton by most of the media.

When “grab em by the pussy” came out, some of us poor naive souls (myself included) thought that was it. That surely was going to put an end to Trump’s political ambitions. We misjudged how many men, men without power but especially the powerful, admired Trump exactly for his unapologetic chauvinism. Trumpofascism cannot be adequately explained without attention to this.

42

J-D 04.16.21 at 11:48 pm

So, yes – it is fascinating that “In a February poll by Gallup a record 62 percent agreed that “the (established) parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”

That’s their declared preference but not their revealed preference. Given the choice, few Americans vote for third parties; nearly all American voters choose not to vote for third-party candidates. For the sake of contrast, compare the behaviour of American voters with the behaviour of Mexican voters; lots of Mexicans choose to vote for third-party candidates. The reasonable conclusion from the behaviour of voters is that lots of Mexicans want to vote for third parties while few Americans do. The fascinating question is why so many Americans say they want to vote for third-party candidates if in fact they don’t.

43

Alan White 04.17.21 at 2:47 am

“When “grab em by the pussy” came out, some of us poor naive souls (myself included) thought that was it. That surely was going to put an end to Trump’s political ambitions. We misjudged how many men, men without power but especially the powerful, admired Trump exactly for his unapologetic chauvinism. Trumpofascism cannot be adequately explained without attention to this.”

This. And thank you.

Hidari’s breakfast of champions. Now post another 2000 words of inanity Mr. Agent Orange.

44

John Quiggin 04.17.21 at 4:18 am

J-D I haven’t checked, but I assume Mexico doesn’t have constituency-based plurality (First Past the Post) elections, a system confined to handful of backward countries. So, you can vote third party and have an effect.

45

Gorgonzola Petrovna 04.17.21 at 5:29 am

It’s a big jump from “some of us poor naive souls (myself included) thought that was it” to “…many men […] admired Trump exactly for his unapologetic chauvinism“. Not nice. By the same token, one could assert that Bill Clinton was (and still is) admired for similar reasons. Also, not smart, self-deception.

46

nastywoman 04.17.21 at 5:43 am

@
”We misjudged how many men, men without power but especially the powerful, admired Trump exactly for his unapologetic chauvinism”.

Not only for that – but generally for being a complete ”Stupid a-social a…hole –
while the signs were always there – like from the beginning in ”Social Network” –
(the movie) –
As when ”Social Network”-
(not only the movie) was… ”released’ I had some friends who had worked on ”Social Network” -(not only the movie) –
and they were worried that ”Social Network” showed -(not only) ”Zuck” as a complete A-social A…hole – and so they thought they should do everything to fight the release of ”Social Network” -(not only the movie) –
BUT
THEN!! Zuck was very, VERY surprised that so many of his fellow American really liked the A-social A…holiness he showed in Social Network -(not only the movie)
and he realised it was ”trending” –
and who wouldn’t ”like” anything which is…
”trending”?

47

nastywoman 04.17.21 at 6:43 am

BUT I really have to comment this:
@39
”The owners of the country no more believed Clinton was taking bribes to direct US foreign policy than Trump was Russian kompromat walking”.

AS
I –
ME has found out – that you guys won’t believe what kind of silly stuff SOME owners of the country believe – and that’s why I’m always so… so? —- skeptical if people write:
”The owner of the country” or ”the Elites” or ”the Oligarchs” – as there are ”Oligarchs” or ”owners of the country who REALLY don’t believe that ”Belgium is a beautiful city”…
https://youtu.be/BnzXMRkBjMY

48

Hidari 04.17.21 at 7:00 am

One of the most disgusting trends of the Trump era was how elite intellectuals (a majority of whom, it must be stressed, were, and are, middle class, ‘educated’ white cis-males) used (and weaponised) the jargon of identity politics to mask their power-worship. I see this trend is going to continue for some time.

49

J-D 04.17.21 at 9:20 am

J-D I haven’t checked, but I assume Mexico doesn’t have constituency-based plurality (First Past the Post) elections, a system confined to handful of backward countries.

I hadn’t checked either. But I have now, and it turns out as a matter of fact that Mexico does have constituency-based plurality elections.

50

Tm 04.17.21 at 9:22 am

J-D 42 and others. Americans claim they are in favor of third parties but few vote for third party candidates, not even at the local or regional level where third parties arguably make more sense given the dumb electoral system. Re JQ 44 the UK and Canada also have FPTP but they do have more party diversity. Whether that is a good thing is a different question. The stability of the US two party system stands out. Americans suffer one of the dumbest political systems in the world and in 200+ years, there hasn’t even afaik any serious attempt at electoral reform. Perhaps we should conclude that despite the perennial complaints, Americans are really quite happy with their system, or simply don’t care?

Americans have been saying for decades how dissatisfied they are with their elected officials, and yet, and yet, every election they overwhelmingly return the very same incumbents they keep complaining about to office. The rate of incumbency is so high, with such a large share of uncontested races, that naive outside observers might be excused for thinking that US elections are merely for show.

I suggest to take the complaints Americans love to express in surveys with a grain of salt and give more credence to revealed preferences.

51

Hidari 04.17.21 at 9:29 am

Not really relevant to anything or anyone (heaven forbid) but an interesting story from Aeon magazine: interesting points (to me) highlighted.

‘To fully grasp the pernicious nature of the misinformation virus, we need to reconsider the innocence of the host. It’s easy to see ourselves as victims of deception by malicious actors. It’s also tempting to think of being misinformed as something that happens to other people – some unnamed masses, easily swayed by demagoguery and scandal. ‘The problem is that people are sheep,’ one friend said to me. I’ve heard this sentiment echoed time and again by others, the implication always being that they and I were not like those other, misinformed people. No: we were educated, had been taught to think, immune to dupery. But, as it turns out, misinformation doesn’t prey only on the ignorant: sometimes, those who seem least vulnerable to the virus can prove its keenest hosts, and even handmaidens….

Startling evidence for this possibility comes from Dan M Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale University…

Kahan argues that rather than being a simple matter of intelligence or critical thinking, the question of global warming triggers deeply held personal beliefs. In a way, asking for people’s take on climate change is also to ask them who they are and what they value. For conservatives to accept the risk of global warming means to also accept the need for drastic cuts to carbon emissions – an idea utterly at odds with the hierarchical, individualistic values at the core of their identity, which, by rejecting climate change, they seek to protect…

This hints at a vexing conclusion: that the most knowledgeable among us can be more, not less, susceptible to misinformation if it feeds into cherished beliefs and identities. And though most available research points to a conservative bias, liberals are by no means immune.

In a 2003 study, Geoffrey Cohen, then a professor of psychology at Yale, now at Stanford University, asked subjects to evaluate a government-funded job-training programme to help the poor. All subjects were liberal, so naturally the vast majority (76 per cent) favoured the policy. However, if subjects were told that Democrats didn’t support the programme, the results completely reversed: this time, 71 per cent opposed it.

He showed that subjects would support policies that strongly contradict their own political beliefs if they think that others like them supported those policies. Despite the social influence, obvious to an outsider, participants remained blind to it, and attributed their preferences to objective criteria and personal ideology.’

https://aeon.co/essays/why-humans-find-it-so-hard-to-let-go-of-false-beliefs

52

notGoodenough 04.17.21 at 10:01 am

J-D @ 42

Just to clarify, the italic text is a quote from @29 to whom I was responding (I do later point out “note: usual caveat re polls and the usefulness thereof”; and, though admittedly only in a very rough and brief way, touch on the actual votes in footnote [4]). While I did consider going into more detail on this point, I think doing so was a little outside the scope of my comment.

In brief, I do agree that “why is there a difference between declared preference and actual action?” is an interesting question. There are, I would tentatively posit, a number of potential answers – for example, it might relate to one or more (or none) of: inherent limitations in the poll (e.g. phrasing of questions, group data is collected from, etc.); belief that declared preference is not possible (e.g. not wanting to “waste a vote” on a party with little chance of success under the current model); declared preference being hypothetical and not practical (someone might have this preference in theory, but not support any of the current 3rd parties due to differences between these and their theoretical 3rd party); declared preference not being actual preference (for various reasons asking people their views does not always elicit useful answers); belief (correct or not) that under the current US system it is highly implausible for 3rd parties to win in general. I’m sure there are many other possible reasons (list is not intended to be exhaustive or even representative), and perhaps it is possible to assign confidence levels to possible/probable causes.

The difference between declaration and action is indeed an important one, and one which (to the best of my understanding) people have been grappling with in many fields for a long time (e.g. consider Howard Moskowitz and his findings on spaghetti sauce). Sadly I doubt I could add much to such a discussion except additional speculation, but certainly I will be interested in comments from others.

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notGoodenough 04.17.21 at 10:04 am

Errata: My previous comments “@29” were actually intended for “@30”. My apologies to both for any confusion or irritation my numerical error has caused.

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Tm 04.17.21 at 11:20 am

Hidari 48: do you really want to go so far as to call Tucker Carlson and his fascist propagandist friends “elite intellectuals”? Elite, sure, super privileged, influential, rich, mouthpiece of the ruling class, – but intellectual?

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John Quiggin 04.17.21 at 11:50 am

Hidari @51 Let’s present this a bit differently “Here’s a job training program that sounds really good on the basis of a 10 second evaluation. However, people who share your political preferences in general have looked at it and they say it’s rubbish”. Is it obviously rational to prefer your immediate response to that of experts with whom you generally agree?

Here’s my suggested compromise. First, ignore everyone you know to be a liar – Republicans, tankies and so on. If the people you generally trust agree, go with their view. If they disagree, try to work it out for yourself.

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John Quiggin 04.17.21 at 11:53 am

Following this view, and taking scientists as people who can generally (not always) be trusted, leftists have moved away from anti-science views on vaccination, homeopathy, and so on. Meanwhile, trusting Trump and similar, rightwingers have gone completely nuts.

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John Quiggin 04.17.21 at 11:56 am

J-D @49 Heavily modified by PR, according to Wikipedia.

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Dave Heasman 04.17.21 at 12:04 pm

“asked subjects to evaluate a government-funded job-training programme to help the poor. All subjects were liberal, so naturally the vast majority (76 per cent) favoured the policy. However, if subjects were told that Democrats didn’t support the programme, the results completely reversed: this time, 71 per cent opposed it”

Reasonable. If Democrats opposed it, Republicans must have proposed it and therefore it wouldn’t have helped the poor. Really, it wouldn’t have.

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J-D 04.17.21 at 12:13 pm

J-D @49 Heavily modified by PR, according to Wikipedia.

Modified, yes. But there are a lot more votes cast for third-party candidates (than is the case in the US) not just in the PR part of the elections but also in the simple-plurality single-member constituencies.

Also, as Tm correctly points out, both UK elections and Canadian elections feature simple-plurality single-member constituences exclusively, and yet produce much higher votes for third parties than is the case in the US.

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steven t johnson 04.17.21 at 3:21 pm

Returning to the military budget? I still think Biden increasing the budget is very much about trying to pacify the officer caste. Buying them was one of the reasons Trump raised military spending so much (and of course one reason why he hired so many generals.) The US military is not the Praetorian Guard of the Roman Principate. But it does have to be pacified.

On a closely related point, the urgent need to avoid the tankies’ Scylla when avoiding the Republican Charybdis, endorses the view that a powerful military is an urgent necessity for democracy, as it is a vital necessity in a threatening world. I wasn’t aware the tankies’ view of the US military as the sword and shield of imperialism had become an equal threat, though.

Last note on Hidari’s fury at how elitist PMCs are softening minds and hardening hearts, using the intellectual elite media (aka the MSM,) excusing their perfidy with nonsense about an attempted coup on January 6….the America First caucus is taking up the struggle. Though it may not become a real thing in practice, I believe it is portentous for the future.

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nastywoman 04.17.21 at 3:49 pm

and this is… quite… interesting:

In a 2003 study, Geoffrey Cohen, then a professor of psychology at Yale, now at Stanford University, asked subjects to evaluate a government-funded job-training programme to help the poor. All subjects were liberal, so naturally the vast majority (76 per cent) favoured the policy. However, if subjects were told that Democrats didn’t support the programme, the results completely reversed: this time, 71 per cent opposed it”.

Because the ”subjects” thought ”that Democrats” are so much… more knowledgable than they were…? – like the joke I used to play with my Republican grandfather whenever somebody asked him a question and I said:

Don’t ask him – he is a –

”Republican”!
Sigh?! – and that’s really a burden – as

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J-D 04.18.21 at 4:30 am

Consider also this:
In the 1894 elections for the US House of Representatives, 13% of votes were cast for third-party candidates; in the 1914 elections, 14%. What’s changed to make the figures so much lower now? Comparing then to now, the system of simple-plurality single-member constituencies is a constant, not an explanatory variable. Is it unreasonable to conclude that the proportion of people with a genuine desire to vote third-party is lower now than it was back then (no matter what they tell the opinion pollsters)?

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