Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Gender Gap in Extreme Math Intelligence

In tests of extreme math intelligence, boys still outscore girls in the US but the gap is closing fast

Whether this is because boys are innately better at math or if girls are socially conditioned not to be math superstars remains an open question. But the latest round of test data strongly suggests the difference rests with the latter.

And which data strongly suggests this? If the gap has narrowed, maybe it’s due to revisions of the SAT, with the trend towards newer tests being easier, lowering the effective math ceiling for high-scoring boys. It’s not that girls are getting better, but the test has become easier, allowing more women to score in the top .1%. The pre-1995 version is regarded as harder than the 2005 revision.

But second, why is the gender gap, whether it’s IQ, math, science, or technology, a problem that merits so much attention? No one complains that tall people are over-represented in the NBA, but everyone gets all worked up about women being underrepresented in the sciences or about there not being enough minorities in Silicon Valley tech companies (apparently Indians and Asians don’t count as diversity according to the left though). Now imagine in order to accommodate players of all heights and to ‘narrow the height gap’, the NBA were required to make the baskets only 4-feet high. Attendance, ratings, and profits would suffer considerably, but at least vertical equality could be achieved. It sounds sounds pretty absurd when you frame it that way, but it’s no different than how the left puts equality ahead of results. When the left bemoans how Silicon Valley is not diverse enough, they want successful companies to ‘lower their baskets’ at the expense of shareholders, company culture, and overall corporate well-being.

Hillary’s 12 point lead shrinks down to just ONE POINT

November 8th cannot come soon enough as the Hillary campaign watches its lead, once as high as 12 points, evaporate to just two:

And this was before the Friday email story, so it’s possible Trump may be ahead by a few points by now. Nine days is an eternity in an election this close and with so little time left…and the timing could not have have been worse for her…a definitive link between the Clinton Foundation and breach of law, and it may be over.

Come Tuesday, millions of Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds, from home makers, to while collar professionals, to contractors who drive pickup trucks, will converge at their local polling place, and from the privacy of their voting booth give their metaphorical stamp of approval to the one who will (or at least try) to make America great again, Donald J. Trump. And maybe he will win. And if he does, it will be a major repudiation of big-state liberalism. Goldman and other donors will not be pleased.

First it was Brexit and now this. Maybe we’ll look back fondly at the tranquility that characterized pre-2014 society, that ended when the damn that held decades of national angst finally burst. People having enough of trade deals they neither like nor understand. Tired of a recovery that may have lifted the boats of Wall St. but not theirs. Or nothing happens an this all blows over as it always has in the past, which I think is a more likely possibility, but the former has increased in odds. I don’t want to fall into the doom and gloom/sensationalism trap of declaring a ‘new paradigm’ just because the ‘status quo’ suffers a small setback here and there.

According to 538, Hillary’s odds have fallen – sightly- from as high as 85% last week to now 78%.

One reason her odds are still so high as to do with the electoral map, which still favors Clinton:

As it stands (assuming the polls are correct), Trump needs Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, and Colorado.

The ‘nightmare’ scenario is if the results for these states are too close to call and are challenged. It would be like Florida in 2000 but multiplied by five. The recounts would take months, and then if Hilly gets indicted it gets much more complicated. There is possibility Hillary is undone not by people voting for Trump, but by her own malfeasance.

Clinton crashing and burning as vote nears

Last week I warned that the left was prematurely declaring victory for Hillary, and now the tables have turned as Trump gains in polls and email news surfaces.

I bet Hillary wishes the election were last week…at the rate her campaign is imploding, she may not make it.

The wheels are coming of the bus for Clinton as her leads narrows from 12 points to just 2..wow

National poll: Clinton leads Trump by 2 points

Clinton is down from the 12-point lead in the initial four-night rolling average, which was conducted last Thursday through Sunday. | Getty

New Poll Shows Clinton Plummeting As Indpendents Rally Behind Trump

British polling experts who didn’t see Brexit coming on why the US should be prepared for a similar upset

no kidding…Nobody knows what will happen

Donald Trump catching up with Hillary Clinton in poll

Poll: Trump chipping away at Clinton’s lead

New Poll: Hillary Leads Trump By Only Four, Drops Eight Points In A Week

POLLING SHOWS TRUMP, CLINTON IN DEAD HEAT

Calls for revolution if Hilary wins:

Poll suggests Donald Trump supporters agree election is ‘rigged’; some calling for revolution

Some Donald Trump Voters Warn of Revolution if Hillary Clinton Wins

Emails in Anthony Weiner Inquiry Jolt Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said the emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, which law enforcement officials said was an F.B.I. investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is married to Huma Abedin, the top aide.

What happens if she wins but is later indicted and doesn’t step down? The law is murky in this scenario.

5. If the investigation continues after the election and Clinton wins and is inaugurated before a decision is made. Could Clinton be indicted when she becomes President?

The law is unsettled when it comes to this situation, but most opinions tend to believe Clinton would luck out, due to the philosophy that Presidents — and only Presidents — are immune from prosecution while in office.

Hilary’s odds have narrowed for 85% to 81%, although this is still too high..I thin it’s more like 55-65% in her favor:

GOP insiders: Polls don’t capture secret Trump vote

“I’m not sure how big a factor it is, but there is definitely a ‘Bradley effect’ going on out there,” said a Virginia Republican, referring to the African-American mayor of Los Angeles who led in polls but lost unexpectedly in the 1982 California gubernatorial race. “I personally know many Republicans that won’t admit that they are voting for Trump. I don’t like admitting it myself. It won’t matter if Hillary is up more than 5 points, but we might be in for a surprise if Hillary’s lead is less than 5 points on Election Day.”

Why Scott Adams of ‘Dilbert’ fame risked his reputation by sparking controversy in the election

Adams clearly relishes offering these polemical blog essays and head-turning theories. One recent post wondered whether Twitter was “shadowbanning” him; another post took on the intersection of gender politics and geopolitics; and just a week ago, he wrote: “If Trump gets elected, and he does anything that looks even slightly Hitler-ish in office, I will join the resistance movement and help kill him.”

Poll: Trump Voters Found to Be More Knowledgeable on Policy Than Clinton Voters

In total, the rates at which voters gave the correct answers varied from a high of 43% for Trump voters to a low of 31% for Clinton voters:
43% for Trump voters.
37% for 35 to 64 year olds.
37% for males.
35% for undecided voters.
34% for females.
34% for 65+ year olds.
31% for Clinton voters.

From personal experience on both left-wing and right-wing communities, the latter are more informed of the issues and less susceptible to groupthink. There is much more conformity on ‘left’, whereas on the right’, if you read the comments there is always arguing and nitpicking over loose ends (about God, government, philosophy, history, etc.), which you don’t see as often in left-wing blogs and communities, which tend to focus on simpler things, not complicated stuff like philosophy. The ‘left’ has a tendency to reduce issues to a simple good-bad dichotomy, whereas the right (at least online) understands that these terms are ill-defined and subjective, and that something that seems ‘good’ often carries an opportunity cost or externality. The left says we need free stuff for all, but the ‘right’, who are better informed and incredulous, ask ‘Who is going to pay for it?’ The left appeals to ‘low information‘ voters more so than the right, although all major parties have a lot of uninformed voters. Far-left variants of liberalism, such as Marxism and democratic socialism, rely on the uneducated masses for support and have anti-intellectual bend to them. Although some leftist intellectuals support Marxism and socialism, in practice such ideologies are anti-intellectual.

Corrupt Democracies

This story is going viral: Europe’s traditional left is in a death spiral. Even if you don’t like the left, this is a problem

The entire article can be read here

The decline of the center-left has contributed to Europe’s contemporary economic and political problems and hindered finding viable solutions to them. The left is no longer able to play its historic stabilizing role.

After World War II, European societies were built on principles that owed a lot to center-left ideas. There was widespread agreement after the war that the political chaos and social upheaval associated with the Great Depression had been the consequence of unregulated markets, so the idea that they should be left unregulated again was an anathema. And so, when European political economies were rebuilt, they were designed to ensure that capitalism was reined in by governments. This postwar order worked remarkably well: The three decades after 1945 remain Europe’s period of fastest growth ever.

Politically, this order’s effects were equally important. Workers and employers became more willing to cooperate, and in place of the centrifugal dynamics of the interwar years, when tough times drove voters to the extremes, good times during the postwar years drove voters back to the center. Thanks to a new relationship between democratic governments and capitalism, Europe was able — for the first time in its history — to combine economic growth, well-functioning democracy and social stability.

Just because strong growth coincided with more regulation does not prove regulation helped growth. This is a simple confusion of cause and effect, that is all too common in journalism.

Although the Great Depression was a setback, the author ignores the decades of growth that preceded the depression. There is no statistically significant evidence that unfettered free market capitalism is a net-negative on economic growth. Although this may lead to more boom-bust cycles, the net gain afterwards is still positive in terms of new technologies, increases in productivity, and new businesses. When the technology bubble burst in 2000, the technologies themselves didn’t go away. The left assumes that asset bubbles, when they burst, undo all prior gains, but this doesn’t happen often. Also the Depression had more to do with an overvalued stock market and poor policy that made the depression worse, than deregulation.

Also, as quoted by Milton Friedman, you cannot have both a welfare state and open borders.

The fact that authoritarian economies and societies (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, etc.) have seen significant economic growth and expansions in recent decades further douses water on the author’s thesis that a liberal ‘social order’ is a necessary ingredient for strong economic growth. By contrast, South America and Southern Europe, both which have democratic governments, have had decades of corruption, for example Brazil and Venezuela:

Corruption is an important part of Brazil’s politics. For years, embezzlement and corruption have been involved in Brazilian elections, and yet the electorate continues to vote for the same convicted politicians.[3]

In 2014 a bribery scheme surfaced within the state-owned oil company that gave the scandal its name. Executives at Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) took bribes from contractors and funneled money into the campaign funds of the governing political parties.[4]

Just going through a 1996 edition of Time magazine, a feature story, War Against Sleaze, lists a dozen countries with parliament/constitutional governments that have been afflicted by various corruption scandals typically involving bribery, election rigging, or misappropriation of public funds, in addition to sectarian violence.

Because monarchs are wealthy and have “indefinite political tenure” they are possibly less corruptible than politicians. Northern European countries such as Denmark, Norway Sweden, and Netherlands have monarchies and have among the lowest rankings in corruption:

Michael Moore Endorses Trump?

There’s a viral video going around by Michael Moore about why Donald Trump will win, almost as an endorsement:

It’s funny how this is the same Michael Moore who did this:

Michael Moore like any politician will change his tune when the timing is right.

He has a point though. Since the early 80′s, the GOP has been a duopoly of neoconservatism and Cato-libertarian neoconservatism, without any other options. Both have very similar economic policies. Trump does not fit either mold, and any voters find this refreshing, as neocon economic policies, especially as pertains to trade and immigration, have fallen out of public favor since 2008.

But being that it’s Michael Moore, reductionism and appeals to emotion at the cost of accuracy is par for the course. At around 1:32, it’s hard not to roll your eyes. It’s obvious why the left has trouble connecting with with blue collar voters. It’s as if everyone who isn’t like him is dysfunctional ‘trailer trash’ like on Springer, who needs his sympathy.

Blue collar workers are not poor, unsophisticated homogeneous rubes whose jobs would not exist if not for people like Michael Moore. Rather it’s a very diverse assortment of jobs that fall under the label ‘blue collar’, some of which are very specialized and pay good money – jobs such as elevator repair, HVAC installation, plumbing, and die making. These are also jobs that are hard to outsource. You cannot pander to blue collar workers in the same way the left panders to minorities — it does not work.

In Michael Moore’s America, there are only three types of people: autoworkers, laid off autoworkers, and evil executives who spend every waking moment trying to find ways to fire the remaining autoworkers. His obsession with autoworkers stems from growing up in Flint and experiencing first-hand the closures of auto plants in the 80′s, but the whole country isn’t like that. Autoworkers are only a small part of the total ‘blue collar’ labor force, and has been shrinking for a long time. Manufacturing has given way to specialized, hands-on service jobs (repair, sharing and gig jobs, hospitality and concierge) that are hard to outsource or automate. The auto repair and parts industry is booming because people are not replacing their cars as often. Also, Trump’s support spans the professional, upper-middle income class too. Not to mention that many foreign automakers build factories in America:

If these factories were to close as a consequence of a trade war, American jobs would be lost, which is an example of how policy in an interconnected world can have unintended consequences. Free trade may destroy jobs but it may also create jobs too. I’m sure Trump and or his economic advisers are aware of this.

In the video he mentions foreclosures, but the foreclosure ‘starts’ have returned to pre-2008 levels:

As the successes of Reagan and Bill Clinton show, voters are more receptive to a message of optimism than pessimism. Instead of being told everything that is wrong with America and their lives, they want to be given hope. Online it’s different…there is a lot more pessimism than what you see on TV. Michael Moore’s brand of class warfare and divisiveness doesn’t work as well for national politics as it does for his documentaries.

Despite indoctrination, a college degree may still be the best path out of poverty

From Washington Post: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

I had to double-check because the chart seems to contradicts the author’s thesis that the American meritocracy is dead and that upward mobility is impossible.

It doesn’t look so bad when you consider that 67% of poor college grads are at least 50-percentile in wealth compared to 49% of rich high school dropouts. It’s even better when you compare poor high school dropouts vs. poor college graduates, which is why a college degree may still be worth the money and the best pathway out of poverty, especially if you major in STEM.

This is why, despite being on the ‘right’–and how colleges have become like ‘West Point’, but instead of producing lieutenants they are producing SJWs–I’m not so quick to join the anti-college bandwagon, because the evidence still suggests that a college degree is worthwhile, especially for STEM. Yes, there is a a lot of student loan debt, but also a ton of financial aid, too, for students of all socioeconomic levels. There is almost no excuse for someone of a reasonably high IQ to not take advantage of these generous financial aid programs to major in STEM.

Some of the most common arguments against college are as follows:

‘I have a degree and all I can find are crappy jobs. Therefore, college is useless.’ This is a legitimate grievance, and I have empathy for millennials who have degrees and are unable to find decent jobs, but this not necessarily proof that college is worthless. For every story of indebtedness and bad jobs prospects, there are other stories, especially on Reddit, of 20 and 30-something graduates in fields such as accounting, STEM, or finance who have solid six-figure jobs, a home, and are paying off their student loan debt. In the case of grads who have bad jobs, consider that getting the degree may have been necessary to get the job in the first place, and despite the low pay, is better than having no job.

‘Look how rich and successful I became (in a field outside of my college degree); the degree is useless, because I became successful in a field that is not applicable to the degree.’ You see this a lot – college grads who major in finance or computer science who become rich and successful in fields outside of computer computer science or finance, and so it would seem like the degree was not necessary. But when you look closer, often these people leveraged their degree early in life, and after amassing financial and social capital (thanks to the early job opportunities and connections afforded by the degree), were later able to parlay these resources to an unrelated endeavor.

‘I became really rich and successful without a degree and or after dropping out.’ Examples include Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, although to their credit neither boasted like this and were more humble. There’s a major survivorship bias here. 80-95% of small businesses fail within a decade, and failures never get as much media attention as successes, giving the false impression that most small businesses succeed. Then you have post-2008 economic trends that favor big, successful companies, that can leverage cheap credit, economies of scale, and networking effects, to keep growing and crowding out smaller businesses. As I explain in Pencil Pushers, success in entrepreneurship requires top-5 percent talent, whereas most day jobs require maybe only top-50 percent talent, to make less money. Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs were able to leverage their superior IQs (as well as connections, family wealth, luck & timing, and other factors) to succeed wildly without a college diploma, which is not applicable to the vast majority of college dropouts who try to follow in their lead, and fail.

Look at all the failed efforts since 2011 or so to create a viable competitor to Facebook (remember Ello, which I correctly predicted would fail), Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, just like tons of money was wasted trying to create a competitor to Google (Bing anyone? There’s a joke that the only reason Bing has market share is because everyone who buys a PC must first use Bing to install Chrome) or the iPod and iPhone (Zune anyone?). The money could have been better spent on Facebook stock (which has surged from $30 to $132 in just four years, and keeps going up to no end), Google stock (up 1100% since 2005), Amazon stock (up 150% since 2014), the S&P 500 (which has nearly doubled since 2011), or on Bay Area real estate (which also has doubled since 2011) than starting an actual company. That’s how easy wealth is created…by piggybacking on existing successes, not trying to create one from the ground up. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the best one.

Contrary to the $200,000 figure cited by James Altucher and others, the average debt per graduate is only around $25,000 – or about the cost of a new car. But unlike a car new, which loses 30-50% of its value after the first year, a degree creates wealth both in terms of higher lifetime earnings and as an inflation hedge. This is because wages for non-graduates have lagged the CPI, and college graduates have seen the most wage growth since the 2009 recovery. This makes a degree a good hedge against inflation and wage deflation.

It doesn’t bear repeating that the higher education system is broken, that too many students are taking on debt to major in low-ROI subjects, and that there is a lot of indoctrination, but as bad as it is, a college degree may still be the best shot for reasonably intelligent people to enter the middle class.

Why Post-Election Revolt and Crisis is Unlikely, Part 2

In an earlier post, I argued that the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election would likely not lead to national upheaval, but I want to expand on it.

As the Great Depression showed, economic crisis does not necessarily lead to revolt. But historically speaking, revolt generally occurs during periods of extreme economic disruption and diminished well-being, typically as a consequence of war that indebts the nation. Second, it’s typically the wealthy, well-connected, and educated that foment revolution, not the poorest, which is kinda counterintuitive. But look at Donald Trump, who himself optimizes the ‘elite’, who rose to power by lending an ear to the concerns of millions of Americans when the other candidates seemed deaf. Che Guevara, Engels (who funded Marx), and Bin Laden – all had wealthy upbringings.

Revolution may also occur when the financial interest of elites are threatened, or if elites are able harness the frustrations of the proletariat to force a regime change. For example, there is evidence the American Revolution was the work of plantation elites:

According to von Borch, it was a colonial aristocratic elite espousing republican principles that articulated the revolt against England:

“Here we have what is, perhaps, the most deep-seated paradox in the emergence of America. The ‘Virginia dynasty’ of the first presidents of the independent federal State—Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe—came from precisely this planter aristocracy. Within that aristocracy there developed the powers and the ideas which made the colonies independent of England and gave them a free, if conservative, domestic regime. The revolution against England was planned on the dignified estates on the banks of the Virginia streams….

Consider the Russian Revolution, lead by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, which overthrew the Tsarist autocracy (specificity Tsar Nicholas II., who was executed along with his family as a consequence of the revolution). Extreme poverty, worker strikes, and joblessness following the first world war, that had significantly weakened the Russian Empire, were aggravating factors:

The war also developed a weariness in the city, owing to a lack of food in response to the disruption of agriculture. Food scarcity had become a considerable problem in Russia, but the cause of this did not lie in any failure of the harvests, which had not been significantly altered during wartime. The indirect reason was that the government, in order to finance the war, had been printing millions of ruble notes, and by 1917 inflation had made prices increase up to four times what they had been in 1914. The peasantry were consequently faced with the higher cost of purchases, but made no corresponding gain in the sale of their own produce, since this was largely taken by the middlemen on whom they depended.

But Lenin himself was an elite, born to a wealthy family and had a law degree. Generally, history shows revolutions are led by elites who put their comfortable lifestyle on hold to advance a cause. Disaffected people will not mobilize without someone in charge behind the scenes giving orders. This makes a second revolution in America less likely, as someone has to first rise to the occasion to get the ball rolling and bankroll the actual revolution. For example, George Soros and other elites who funded BLM.

Regarding war, debt, poverty, and revolution, other historical examples include the French Revolution, in which major financial crisis and debt due to France’s costly involvements in the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution, played a role. Same for the rise of Hitler, precipitated by Germany’s debt and weakened economy due to losing WW1.

However, although revolutions require a leader and considerable financial and organizational support, ‘lone wolf’ insurgencies don’t, and it’s possible there will be an upsurge in domestic terrorism should national sentiment decline substantially. As the 2002 Beltway sniper incident showed, which for nearly a month paralyzed much of the Maryland and D.C. regions with fear, the economic and psychological impact of terrorism are significant relative to the number of people and costs involved, which is why it’s effective and why governments expend so much resources trying to thwart terrorism. Same for the 1982 Chicago Tylenol poisonings, which attracted global media coverage and mass hysteria despite only seven deaths.

But, economically speaking, America is a long way from becoming like post-WW1 Russia. Around that time, 60-75% of the Russian population were illiterate peasants, so the conditions for revolution were a lot more ripe back then than now. Although US involvement in the Middle East has been costly, its nothing compared to the debt and hyperinflation that faced the Wiemar Republic.

Social media is like a portal to ‘Middle America’, and it’s not uncommon for middle class households to have multiple TVs, luxury brand automobiles, large SUVs, expensive iPhones with equally expensive phone plans, and designer clothes. Lifestyles were much more minimalist in earlier generations, mainly because people simply didn’t have the disposable income and credit to buy stuff. Since the mid 80′s, there has been an explosion in consumption as credit and nominal wages have surged, and technologies and free trade have make electronics and other tangibles cheaper and more accessible.

Inflation-adjusted consumer credit gained only slightly from 1965-1985 but began to surge afterwards and again in the mid 90′s.

The result is a higher standard of living – but perhaps at the cost of ‘community’, as explored by Robert Putnam in his influential 1995 essay Bowling Alone. As recently as a generation ago, entire families would gather to watch TV, because often they could only afford a single TV, to watch one of maybe a handful of shows that were available at the time. Nowadays, every family member has a personal computer and TV and can choose to watch one of thousands of shows by his or her own self, thanks to technologies like Netflix.

From Social Matter Escaping Muddied Experience:

American society has been structured so that natural experience is minimized and in its place are mediated experiences that an expert or team of experts have crafted, edited, framed, and even written for the individual. The mixing of true experience versus mediated experience is discussed in detail in Jerry Mander’s book Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television from the 1970s. This does not stop with television, but has morphed with the growth of the Internet. Television still reaches so many and has such power due to its physical effects.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems. Many millennials are struggling, the post-2008 recovery is uneven and hasn’t produced enough good-paying jobs, and millions of Americans have anxiety over job loss and or going broke if there is a medical emergency.

Although America seems (especially if you listen to the media) more divided than ever, such division has always existed. In the 60′s, it was division over segregation vs. integration. Perhaps the media is also playing role by focusing on the negatives and overlooking the positives, and this shapes people’s perceptions of the economy and society.

But the problem is, although Americans are far from starving to death, existential anxiety is a more intractable problem (you can’t just throw money at it and make it go away), and solutions are hard to come by. Material wealth and consumption doesn’t necessarily bring fulfillment or peace of mind. Maybe the answer is cheap and abundant entertainment. Maybe it’s religion. Maybe it’s promoting financial literacy so people will save for a rainy day and retirement (thus creating peace of mind) instead of frittering money on positional goods, although this may also hurt America’s consumption-based economy.

Liberal Media Trying to Prematurely Declare Hillary Winner

In the days following the release of Trump’s 2005 comments, something unexpected (at least for the left) happened – people suddenly stopped caring, but more importantly, Trump’s polls did not budge.

This happens all the time – the liberal media tries to fan outrage – and initially people are outraged ‘omg Trump said the p-word! He must step down’, but then it fades, much to the disappointment of the left, who hoped it would have staying power.

The comments were quickly subsumed by ‘pop culture’ and people find it funny more than offensive. Ironically, the left, through their own doing, has made the public inured to remarks that perhaps many generations ago would have been more shocking (back when Bruce and Carlin pushed the edge of the envelope), but now it’s like ‘whatever’.

And same for the media’s efforts to equate Trump with fascism, which also didn’t stick despite the left’s best efforts.

A few days ago, on the heels of Trumps ‘lackluster’ third debate performance, the media created a narrative that Trump had resigned himself to losing the election, and that Trump contesting the results should he lose, a sign of ‘instability’ or an ‘affront to democracy’ on his part:

GOP braces for Trump loss, roiled by refusal to accept election results

At charity roast, Donald Trump delivered what might as well be a campaign eulogy

Campaign eulogy? A little presumptuous you think. The left is so desperate for Trump to lose, why bother with the actual…um…election and counting of the votes. Screw that. Let’s just just say Trump lost.

The left has to invent reasons for Trump ‘falling behind’ as if these reasons are revelatory or important, when it’s old news.

Now Trump is coming back, just a day later:

Trump gains on Clinton, poll shows ‘rigged’ message resonates

Trump knew what he was doing all along…he knows that many Americans share his suspicions of the integrity of the voting process. Even Gore, a favorite of the left, contested the results of Florida in 2000.

The reality is, the people who are ‘appalled’ by Trumps’s demeanor or comments about women were never going to support him. That’s why these ‘horse race’ polls are meaningless. 95% of the country is decided, as is the case in every presidential election at this time. It boils own to the 5-10% undecided – those in swing states – who matter. Despite 24-7 media coverage, the polls have been in a 10-point band since July, which is pretty remarkable given all the stuff that has happened, and is further evidence that minds tend to be made up long before the voting actually begins:

This is just like Brexit, where for months there was only a 5-10 point difference between ‘exit’ and ‘remain’ all the way until the vote (‘exit’ won by 4 points).

This is why elections and politics is mostly a waste – inordinate amounts of time and resources are spent trying to woo no more than a million or so swing and undecided voters, who hold the ‘fate of the nation’ in their hands. This is somewhat analogous to the 1955 Issac Asimov short story Franchise, in which a a single voter “Voter of the Year” represents the entire electorate.

From Nate Silver Clinton Probably Finished Off Trump Last Night:

That’s not to say that a polling miss is impossible. Our polls-only model still gives Trump a 14 percent chance and our polls-plus forecast a 17 percent chance, although that’s before accounting for any impact of last night’s debate or some of the other circumstances I’ve described.

So a five point difference equals 82% chance of winning. Yeah, the electoral map slightly favors Hillary, but to assign an 85% chance of Trump losing based on a five to seven point difference in the polls seems absurd.

Individualism vs. the State

From Social Matter The End Of Atomistic Individualism: A Theory On Who You Are

The purpose of this thought experiment is an attempt to formulate a new, sustainable, non-atomistic understanding of the concept of individualism. Modern individualism, as a product of the Enlightenment, has the function of isolating and alienating individuals from God, society, and eventually even from themselves. From Putnam’s Bowling Alone to the transgender movement, modernity loudly proclaims the inability of people to belong, even to themselves. It instead offers a vision of individualism, in which the person creates themselves in their own image, as if Adam were to form himself in the Garden.

Just as it is vain to think that a lump of clay will form itself into a man, so it is equally vain to think that an alienated, atomized person can create in themselves a personality out of the muck of consumerism and mass media. Modernity tells us that we can form our own personality with tattoos, body modification, consumerist consumption, and status objects like automobiles.

But Putnam is also a strong proponent of democracy. One can argue that atomic individualism, with is related to libertarism, is antithetical to democracy and the democratic process. Sometimes, I think we want it both ways: to oppose both individualism and democracy, but this may not be logically consistent. The answer , like many things, seems to lie somewhere in the middle. This could mean a community united by commonalities (such as culture), but without democracy, and individualism is also preserved. This is similar to the nation state concept:

The most obvious impact of the nation state, as compared to its non-national predecessors, is the creation of a uniform national culture, through state policy. The model of the nation state implies that its population constitutes a nation, united by a common descent, a common language and many forms of shared culture. When the implied unity was absent, the nation state often tried to create it. It promoted a uniform national language, through language policy. The creation of national systems of compulsory primary education and a relatively uniform curriculum in secondary schools, was the most effective instrument in the spread of the national languages. The schools also taught the national history, often in a propagandistic and mythologised version, and (especially during conflicts) some nation states still teach this kind of history.[20]

But I have also heard arguments that individualism is inextricably linked with liberalism and that individualism is an ‘enlightenment’ ideal. But a distinction must be made between enlightenment ideals, which are the antecedent to neo and classical varieties of liberalism, versus welfare liberal ideals (which is a more recent development). The former supports individualism, but also the possibility of unequal outcomes that may arise from it. The latter seeks conformity in the form of egalitarianism and equal outcomes (higher taxes, more social spending, wealth spreading, etc.) despite giving the outward appearance of supporting individualism. Marxist and other far-left variants of liberalism also oppose individualism, preferring the state to mandate ‘equal outcomes’ as well as individual subservience to the state.

But both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ seem to have a love-hate relationship with individualism. For the ‘left’, they like individualism as a way to rebel against the status quo, but the also oppose individualism if it leads to too much wealth inequality or what they perceive as oppression (such as ‘homophobia’ of a baker for not making a baking a ‘gay cake’); for the ‘right’, they like individualism in context of free markets, personal autonomy, and personal property, but oppose it because it may lead to the breakdown of communities, decline of organized religion, the separation of church and state, and increased ‘moral decay’.

The libertarian or minarchist position, which is somewhere in the middle, may be the most logically consistent in bridging this schism, that strikes a balance between individualism and cohesion. Minarchism is like a shopping mall, where stores exist as individual entities under the patronage of the mall, a symbiosis of sorts where both the mall and businesses benefit. Business pay the mall in exchange for the benefits the mall provides (such as security, infrastructure, and customers). Because it’s elective, businesses don’t have to join, but America’s tax system isn’t and individuals, businesses have to pay to fund services they don’t want or need.

And from Family and Individualism:

In any society, there is probably an optimal balance between individualism and collectivism. A society that is 100% atomized, by definition, is not a society. But history also shows that total conformity is no better. Those quirky people on the right side of the Bell Curve, with their idiosyncrasies, are needed for society to advance technologically, while everyone else goes about tending to civilization. If you go through Charles Murray’s database of human accomplishments, you’ll find virtually all accomplishments were made by smart people. Liberals value social justice and equality over quantifiable results. The left wants America to be a nation of takers, not creators.

Related: Individualism vs. Thede

Post-election rioting and crisis: It’s not going to happen

The media is entertaining the laughable premise that there may be rioting and revolting en mass should either Trump or Hilary become president.

As I have said again and again, the media, by in large, is useless. It’s a giant time-suck that fools people into believing they are being informed, when it’s really about pushing advertising spliced between hype and sensationalism. Without advertising, the vast majority of media would have no reason to exist, as it creates no economic value on its own nor has any redeeming value to society. There’s a saying, ‘voting is bad for your soul’. So is the media.

Nowadays, anyone can create ‘news site’ or write an article for a supposedly reputable site and pass it off as being authoritative. Here is one such example: After Trump loses: An ominous American future imagined, in which the author speculates that a Clinton presidency may lead to mass rioting and economic collapse. And there are other articles that speculate the opposite, that there will be crisis and revolt should Trump win, which is equally risible. Although I want Trump to win, and America will do better under Trump than Clinton, the stakes aren’t as high as the media hype would suggest. Every four years, it’s the ‘election of the century’, a ‘new paradigm’, and ‘all or nothing’, and other premonitions that this election is more important than the 45 or so others that preceded it and the world didn’t come to an end, but this one will.

So why won’t there be rioting? Many years ago, some people were concerned that activating the newly built Large Hadron Collider would trigger a chain reaction that would turn the world into a super-dense blob of ‘strange matter’ and of course ending all life in the process. Then some scientists calculated that similar heavy-ion collisions occur naturally, such as on the moon, which obviously after billions of years hasn’t turned into a ball of goo, and thus it was reasonable to assume the collider was safe.

Likewise, the much worse conditions have existed in the past, but nothing has happened beyond sporadic outbursts such as the Watts riots in 1965 and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. if Americans were going to rebel en masse they would have done so in the late 1970’s – a period of high inflation and, overall, a much worse economy. Or during the Great Depression, which was even worse. The misery index, generally regarded as a measure of well-being and is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate, is – historically speaking – low:

But that’s not a complete picture, nor is it a vindication of Obama or Clinton. Rather, thank the ingenuity of free market capitalism and America’s best and brightest whose innovations boost living standards and create jobs, as well as thank America’s reserve currency status that keeps borrowing costs and inflation low. Americans may think they have it bad and find many reasons to complain, but other countries have it much worse.

From Brookings Are Americans better off than they were a decade or two ago?

The bottom line: According to this metric, Americans enjoy a high level of economic welfare relative to most other countries, and the level of Americans’ well-being has continued to improve over the past few decades despite the severe disruptions of the last one. However, the rate of improvement has slowed noticeably in recent years, consistent with the growing sense of dissatisfaction evident in polls and politics.

Other factors play a role, and as I discuss in Explaining America’s Economic and Social Stability, America owes its stability to its strong economy, culture of consumption and innovation, large geographic size, and cultural heterogeneity.