Imagine for a moment that by next summer, through some miracle of capitalism, every product you purchase cost half as much as its price today. Every tire, every banana, every patio chair, every sheet of paper, the cost of all of it would be slashed. Now ponder these questions.
How would this happen?
Would you even notice?
Would you be better off?
How would such a change be reflected in our economic statistics?
Who would benefit the most, the least?
What sort of things might become relatively more expensive if the price of all our stuff collapsed?
This exercise is important because it reflects a reality we’ve overlooked. We are living through a collapse in the cost of nearly everything. That sounds like a wonderful improvement in human existence, and it is. However, it is producing some strange and sometimes counter-intuitive outcomes, starting with the fact that few of us even recognize it happened.
No transformation this powerful, no matter how good or beneficial, can occur without inspiring fear. Insecurities fueled by this revolution are triggering political earthquakes in both major parties. Our world has been turned upside down in the best possible way, but we are struggling to understand what happened and what it means. If we want this process to continue, and we should, then we will have to recognize its implications for our culture and our biology.
Most creatures evolve solely on a biological basis. We have conquered our planet by developing the means to evolve on three, loosely connected planes: biology, culture and technology. As a weak, slow, soft-bodied creature, our biology leaves us poorly adapted for life on Earth. Our capacity to develop sophisticated cultures and technologies has powered us ahead of the rest of the ecosystem.
Through culture we developed capitalism. As that cultural adaptation rapidly spread it has powered an explosion in technological innovation. Those innovations, and the disruptive replacements that they bring, are now coming so fast that they are tearing at our biological limits, creating ripples in our culture.
We are reaching a point at which our technical developments may be limited by our cultural and biological capacity to absorb them. Our pace of innovation is straining the adaptations that enabled them in the first place. Our biology is being overwhelmed, both at a human level and on an ecological scale. We are in desperate need of political adaptations that can ease the pressure on our brittle minds and our strained ecology, allowing this remarkable pace of advancement to continue.
Two things can happen from here. We could experience a de-escalation of our evolutionary pace in the form of a widespread political or ecological failure. Or we could develop a cultural/political adaptation enabling us to continue, or even further accelerate, our technological advance.
The Politics of Crazy is an attempt, through a collection of short essays, to summarize this situation and describe possible remedies. Ideas described in the book are perhaps worth revisiting and refining. It might be helpful first to expand on the following evolutionary question in the context of technological advance: Why don’t we recognize what has happened to us?
More specifically, why do we find it so difficult to recognize how much life has improved over such a short timespan? And how do those limitations impose obstacles to cultural or political adaptation?
Certain evolutionary realities limit our ability to operate in a radically dynamic environment. We do not naturally recognize macro phenomenon. We experience weather. We do not experience climate. We experience our work, our earnings, and our day to day purchases. We do not experience an economy. We experience interactions with family, friends, and a local community. We do not experience politics. We remember family stories and myths. We have no innate consciousness of history.
Most importantly, we do not natively compare the past to the present, especially a past that extends back prior to our own individual adulthoods. Our commonsense experience of the world is a kind of snow globe, isolated from any natural awareness of the wider forces that shape our existence.
Our minds evolved across hundreds of thousands of years to comprehend and communicate reality in terms of symbols, archetypes, and myths. Our minds possess an astonishing capacity to process symbolic information and yet a relatively trivial natural capacity for math. In a fraction of a second a human brain can identify which food will taste best or which face is most friendly, a task that computers still struggle to master. No human alive can perform math at the speed of an obsolete Blackberry smart phone.
Literacy is a brand-new cultural adaptation for which our biology has not yet adapted. Humans have experienced a near-universal capacity for reading and writing for about four-five generations, depending on region. No similarly broad mathematical literacy has developed in humans and thanks to the rapid evolution of our machines it probably never will. We thrive on symbols and while struggling to leverage empirical tools. We are biologically evolved to perceive reality through myth and magic.
Education can empower us to leverage an adaption delivered from one of our greatest cultural innovations: science. Even when we gain the capability to use critical thinking skills and empirical knowledge to analyze the world around us, our minds tend to rebel against the exercise. What we learn through critical exercises is almost permanently at war with what we innately “know,” creating a hum of constant tension sometimes described as “cognitive dissonance.”
Commonsense is an excellent guide to day to day matters in a world of slow, incremental change. Our heads evolved in slower world. For hundreds of thousands of years, changes on a large scale occurred either very slowly over the course of many lifetimes, or in highly infrequent, catastrophic bursts. Major, noticeable changes happened perhaps once in a lifetime wrought by political violence or natural disasters.
Relying only on our natural senses, we do not cope well with a world in which Blockbuster Video or Lycos or Borders Bookstores can travel from birth, to ubiquity, to collapse in a couple of decades. Our minds cannot innately comprehend a reality in which our daily choice of motor fuels can influence global climate. A world in which jobs, marriages, community ties and every other aspect of our existence and identity is transient performs a kind of slow torture on our brains.
Sustained exposure to high levels of stress creates serious physical issues. Those problems are reflected in health statistics. More Americans die every year from drug overdoses than from car accidents. Most of those overdoses involve prescription medications. We use anti-depressant medications on such an intensive scale that their residue shows up in measurable amounts in river fish.
There is a temptation to dismiss the crowds flocking to see Donald Trump as merely racist or dumb. This is too simple a response. First of all, exactly the same forces of fear and insecurity are driving crowds of ‘educated’ voters to Sanders’ rallies. Trump may be attracting a pool of low-prestige voters, but that shouldn’t distract us from the signal being sent by our environment. Like our rising sea levels, they are marking a form of evolutionary pressure, a pressure we will regret ignoring.
Those who recognize the massive human value in our technological advance must recognize an additional reality. To support this transformation over the long term we must work to adapt our culture in ways that are sensitive to our biological limits. There is only so much dynamism our heads can tolerate. A century and a half ago we began to evolve a social welfare system to make the relatively rapid disruption and dislocation of capitalism supportable. As we race toward a kind of technological singularity, we need a similar political adaptation for our age.
That adaptation is coming, one way or another. We could get political leaders in the mold of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, who slam on the brakes of economic and technological progress, triggering the same class of catastrophe wrought by any other sudden halt. Or we will develop something smarter, something that will enable us to not only endure, but to thrive in a far more dynamic world.
How do we embrace these advances in a way that our biology can tolerate?
[…] From the GOPLifer archives: Has our technology outrun our biological limits? […]
More stating the obvious, but since the GOPe still doesn’t get it, we’re not close to it being said too much:
If and when the GOPe does things like ditch trickle down, or actually come up with real, spelled out in detail ACA alternative, then we will know that they have finally found a clue.
Richard North Patterson is one of my absolute favorite authors. I hope all of you will include him in your personal reading. He takes a real problem – generally a global one, and weaves a story around the subject while offering various points of view. In addition to his books being terrific reads, they are very thought-provoking. I’m glad to see someone of his literary statue taking pen to articulate on today’s political morass.
Thanks, Fly, for the post. I probably would have missed it.
Fly, trickle down is the r’aison d’être of the GOP. If they ditch it, what would be the point of even having a GOP?
Thatd be like asking the NAACP to just stop worrying about black people for once.
As more rational people and policy centers weigh in on what is happening within the Republican Party, it is important to understand that they did it to themselves.
In reading the pithy, scathing critique of the GOPe in Patterson’s piece, there was so much that was quotable and absolutely true, that it should be a primer for all political operatives and any who aspire or currently serve in elected office. I kept highlighting the “best” paragraphs only to discover yet another “best” paragraph. The criticisms, truths and lessons offer a thoughtful, brutally direct template for the Republican Party who care as much about our country as they do about their party’s survival.
Notably, Patterson made no comment about the Democrats. I have no idea as to his party affiliation, as he has been so even-handed in all of this books that it is not important. What’s important is a keen, caring, smart mind telling the truth to a party which I hope will listen and learn. There has been too much hurt and loss of opportunity through the self-centered GOP. We cannot afford more Republican intransigence. We just can’t. If Republicans win this important election, they will easily ignore insightful warnings like Patterson’s, as once again, they will have been rewarded for their bad behavior. That’s too high a price for our nation to continue to pay.
A few quotes from the article: “Alex Castellanos wrote: “If our self-indulgent Republican Party establishment had really wanted to prevent a takeover of the GOP, they should not have gorged on political power while they failed to do anything to prevent the decline of the country. Our leaders could have led. They could have done more than say ‘no’ to Democrats while offering no alternative.”
“Yet the sustained obliviousness of the GOP elite was truly impressive. Here is the small detail they’ve missed: The GOP has been offering the embattled middle and working classes tax cuts for the wealthy, wars they don’t want, and trade policies which leave them fearful for their jobs. In thrall to a political orthodoxy dear to the donor classes, the Republican establishment has lost touch with the base, believing that rhetorical red meat was enough to satiate the great unwashed.”
“Belatedly, the Republican elite is discovering the truth — when it comes to ideological purity, most voters care much more about the reality of their own lives. And a whole lot of them think that the GOP establishment has sold them down the river of free trade, lining its own pockets in the bargain.”
There is an opportunity for the Dems, if they shake off some of their blind spots. If they really did push for policies, be it UBI, or something else, that would help the economically displaced through the transitions discussed in this post, they would eventually win over the blue collar Whites. Yes, you have fools like the KY voters who vote against their own interests because of culture war issues that don’t affect their lives, and you need some tangible improvement in living standards to make those people see the error of their ways. Trump allows them to vent, but he hasn’t offered any realistic solutions to their problems so far.
Of course, this opportunity is equally available to the GOP.
I agree that Dems have an opportunity here, Fly. BTW, learned this morning that KY upheld a Democratic House majority. They were widely expected to lose to the GOP, but hey held on to see another day. So, someone in KY is thinking…now if they just hadn’t voted in the TP nutjob….Bevin, but the only consistency in voting patterns these days is that they are inconsistent (-;
A bit too long for my taste, but a good read regardless. I’d love to read him talk about the GOP and its taking advantage of the culture of white supremacy.
Many many people have said it before, but if you stir up a fervor, whether nationalistic or religious or ethnic, you run the danger of the fervor getting out of control and overrunning the agenda you were originally trying to advance in the first place. The Republican establishment sought to take advantage of social issues like abortion, homophobia, fear of immigrants and terrorists in order to promote an agenda of low taxes and small government. Predictably, they have lost control of events.
As one of those many people put it, sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.
That’s the blatant hypocrisy that pisses people off and, with respect to abortion, what gave fmr. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell his forever enshrined nickname of “Gov. Ultrasound”
For all their talk of small government, a lot of what today’s Republicans try to advance, in fact, comes with really, REALLY big government. Obviously though, they try to avoid this reality like the plague.
Sometimes it takes length to fully flesh out one’s thoughts. My favorite and I think the best post Lifer ever offered was on the South, and it was one of his longest. Millennials are Twitter and mobile message-oriented so it’s understandable that length is a turn off, even when it contributes to substance. The VOX article on Trump and the GOP that was posted a week ago (Brian?) was much longer but tremendously informative. Few people can take a complex subject/issue, and respond effectively with brevity. We are fortunate to have some excellent writers who comment here with great style and precision, then there is the “wordy” one (-; Syndicated columnists are good at this and the best pieces always leave me wanting to read a book from them on the subject. (Ex. Thomas Friedman)
Ryan, I want you to know I worked hard to make my response brief (-:
^Oh, I wasn’t talking about you, Mime. I meant Patterson’s article. Apologies for not being more specific.
I understood that, Ryan. No problem. I am wordy. It’s a fault. I’m just too lazy and old to change it!
I’m surprised that no one has commented on the CNN documentary series produced by Keven Spacey, “The Race to the White House”. Last week it profiled the presidential race between Kennedy and Nixon. Ugly politics and an outsider presidential candidate. Here’s a link to episode one if you wish to watch. Lots of vintage footage and historian narrations. It will repeat on CNN on Sunday evening. Check your local tv schedule.
Thomas Friedman, NYT columnist, and astute observer of domestic and international politics, has warnings for Democrats if Trump is the nominee. (1) Trump will move to the center if the nominee to appeal to independents and minorities; (2) An errant terrorist attack prior to the election will play to Trump’s advantage; and (3) If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, he “will indeed go after (her) in ways you never heard before and that will delight and bring back a lot of disaffected Republicans, whose hatred of Hillary knows no bounds. Again, beware.”
If you can stand watching one more debate, tonight’s is sponsored by Univision and the WaPo and will be simulcast on CNN. Given the singular focus, it should be different and interesting. Immigration promises to be a frequently visited topic.Tonight at 8pm, cst.
Nope, can’t take anymore. Let’s get this primary over with and buckle ourselves down for convention chaos. I’ve got the popcorn and soda ready and waiting. 🙂
A convention drinking game could be fatal.
Significantly, the collapse in the price of just about everything is accompanied by the collapse in the necessity for manual labor. The true value of just about any good can be calculated in terms of time and energy. Energy, in terms of the energy requirements to process raw materials into finished product. Time, on the cost side, in terms of how much labor is required to produce the project. Time, on the price side, in terms of how much time the product saves for the purchaser, or how much more enjoyable the product makes the purchaser’s passage of time.
The labor cost of just about every manufactured good is trending towards zero. Manufacturing jobs once left this country for cheaper labor markets. Manufacturing is now returning to this country, but the manufacturing jobs are not. The manufacturing process is now largely automated, performed by machines. And this trend applies not just to manufacturing, but also to the service sector – ATMs, LegalZoom, TurboTax, etc., etc.
The drop in prices is nice, so long as you have a job, or some independent means of income. Successful people my age have independent means of income via a lifetime of consistent investment. We are, literally, the “ownership” segment of society. Young people coming up, and those whom fate has not dealt with so kindly, are struggling. Declining median income and historically low workforce participation rates clearly illustrate the problem.
But all is not dark. Many trends in both culture and technology point to a bright future, even though our way of life will be markedly different. Witness the trend towards artisanal production of just about everything. Farm-to-table, field-to-table eateries. Bespoke clothing, furnishing and home goods. The gig economy of TaskRabbits and Ubers (which for all its growing pains, is providing workers with an unparalleled degree of personal freedom and flexibility in work). The democratization of the media, including the entertainment media, which makes it much easier for young talent to break into successful careers, e.g. Meghan Trainor. The increasing maturity and accessibility of 3D design software, 3D printing and CNC machining, which makes it readily possible for anybody with a good idea to make just about anything imaginable. This is all very cool stuff.
As cool as the future will be, getting there won’t be without pain. Our current societal norms foster dependence and conformity, which are the traits required for success in a traditional industrial economy. This is true of both corporate institutions and government institutions. But the future I just laid out will reward those who sport high levels of self-reliance, independence, flexibility and ingenuity. Turning the vast ship of culture to foster these traits will be the work of multiple generations. But interestingly enough, when we get there I suspect we’ll have arrived very much at where we started, for the personality traits and lifestyles I’ve described actually are far more similar to the culture of early America than they are to our current, decrepit industrial culture.
It’s interesting to hear the extrema of both parties rage against the machine. As if it will make any difference whatsoever…
If you mean “interesting” in the sense of the apocryphal Chinese curse, I must agree. “Interesting” times, indeed.
Tracy – To be honest, I didn’t. But now that you mention it, I do now!
Though I have to add, we’ve all seen worse times than these.
I agree with all of it. Every single bit.
Isn’t that a great argument for a universal basic income, if for no other reason than to keep a lid on the social pot while we adapt to this new world. Shrink govt interference, keep capital in private hands to be deployed as capital owners see fit, meanwhile people experience some ‘ownership’ in the whole operation while we all evolve toward a far more independent model of living.
My biggest fear is that the rabble on both sides are going to dismantle this beautiful machine. We came very close to such an interconnected, market-driven world a hundred years ago. It was ruined by two enormous and pointless world wars, fueled by fear. Give these folks some support and let the innovation continue.
All of the wonderful achievements created by the boundless imagination and genius of gifted hands and minds won’t make this world better if more people don’t get to participate. In addition to your Basic Guaranteed Income, America has got to get serious about quality, relevant education and universally available health care. These are two huge anchors to any creative era.
Thor and Mime: In theory, at least, everyone today is free to participate in a lifestyle of independence and flexibility. That was not the case in early America, not even in theory. Those special privileges of independence and flexibility belonged mainly to White men — legally, institutionally, and socially. It would be great if we could combine the flexibility and scrappiness of early America with the social and legal advances we’ve made over the years to include all races, genders, and classes.
Tutta, I am so glad you pointed out that life back in the colonial days was, well, lots better for men than it was for women – or, slaves, or girls, for that matter. But, yes, they were all scrappy and prepared the way for the development of a great country, so we do owe them a debt of gratitude.
I think the best way to create this flexible, innovative lifestyle is to just do it and not draw attention to it. Once you make a major announcement about it, you open yourself up to all kinds of intrusion. Just keep a low profile. The whole point of being independent is that you shouldn’t have to rely on the approval of others. Once you require the blessing of society, once your way of life becomes institutionalized, you lose that very freedom and flexibility that you so prize.
What? No revolution? Gee, I am so bummed!
>] “All of the wonderful achievements created by the boundless imagination and genius of gifted hands and minds won’t make this world better if more people don’t get to participate. In addition to your Basic Guaranteed Income, America has got to get serious about quality, relevant education and universally available health care. These are two huge anchors to any creative era.”
Education’s a tricky beast; I never quite know what to make of it. One thing I am sure of is that we HAVE to reform the fundamentals of how and what we teach young children as they’re growing up, particularly in Middle and especially High School. I shake my head in disappointment every time I remember just how much time I wasted back then learning all sorts of stuff that I’ve completely forgotten and never used even once in my life. Goodness knows I could’ve been putting that time to better use.
And I know this is going to sound vague, but I believe we’ve got to try and make the goal of the educational process to be fun. That is the single best way for anyone to learn anything; when they’re enjoying it.
In the meantime, we must look to more innovative ways of giving our children the fundamental skills they need to learn better; processing information, improving their short and long-term memories and most essential of all, developing their critical thinking skills in order to solve new problems more efficiently.
This is a daunting task, but we’re already seeing some ways to take it on. The N-Back program (http://www.themindflow.com/) is one that could help. Imagine if we could increase our students’ relative IQ just by having them play a game for a few minutes a day. It can happen.
I completely agree, Ryan, with everything you said. Thanks for the link. I’ll read it later. MassDem commented today on her wish to see Lifer expound upon educational reform that will be appropriate for the times – present and future. We are now a group of three. I’m sure Lifer has such an idea in his “bucket list”…just has to make time….
Chris, I’m glad our analysis is coincident, but as usual, our preferred mitigation strategies diverge. As everyone who posts here is well aware, I am generally rabidly averse to government social meddling in any form, but I’ll put that aversion aside for the sake of discussion.
If we simply cannot refrain from social engineering, then I would posit that we do so in a way that fosters the traits necessary for success in the coming century, namely, “self-reliance, independence, flexibility and ingenuity.” The problem with a universal income plan is that it is old school; it does the opposite and fosters dependence. That’s not what we need.
Rather than continuing to foster dependence on government, and the political rent seeking that inevitably accompanies it, how about we re-engineer existing, troubled social programs policies to foster positive traits for individual success? With regards to income management, instead of universal income, how about a universal abatement on personal income tax up to $X as part of a modified flat tax? With respect to SS, how about we convert it to a universal 401K plan, with automatic contributions by the federal government, and generous matching (2 for 1, maybe)? The former ensures that the young and the poor are not penalized for working, and the latter ensures that *everyone* has a shot a building real, inheritable wealth, and becoming a member of “the ‘ownership’ segment of society.” Healthcare could be addressed in the same way, with universal HSAs with automatic government contributions and generous matching.
The social meddling I’ve described here, while administered by the government, and intended to encourage certain desirable behaviors, has positive aspects in that it fosters wealth-building and independence – the exact opposite of the dependence encouraged by a universal dole.
BTW, don’t know if you an aficionado of speculative fiction, but if you are, you might peruse the works of Marko Kloos (Frontlines stories) and James S. A. Corey (The Expanse). Both have painted remarkably dystopian futures of societies characterized by, among other things, universal income. Be careful what you wish for. 😉
Capitalism IS social engineering. So is libertarianism and any other macro-level political or economic strategy. We live inside a culture. Every culture will have some collective rules.
I point this out as a way to emphasize that your aversion to “social engineering” may have more to do with dead 20th century dictators than with real world problems. Get past that aversion and it becomes possible to design a way out of this mess, one that preserves most of what we want from a government while slicing away its worst impulses.
The solutions you are describing would have made a lot of sense in the 50’s or 60’s. They are the perfect response to a mid-20th century industrial capitalist model in which we need people to launch into the job market as early as possible and stay there as long as possible.
We don’t need that anymore. We don’t want it. And we aren’t paying people to do it.
Rewarding careers start very late. They end early. Someone who starts at a job at age 18 and stays in it until retirement is usually one of the losers in this economic climate.
You approach, in this economic climate, works fairly well for people who already have some wealth on which to lean. It’s a catastrophe for people who don’t.
I’m harping on this b/c I see you and people who share your viewpoint as the most important bottleneck in the system. Folks on the left are going to resist a basic income because of the extent to which it diminishes govt power. So far, people on the right are resisting the idea b/c of their attachment to the idea that poor people are poor because they aren’t as virtuous as I am.
If we could somehow climb over that, we could get to a whole new era of government, market-driven, smaller, but still very effective. Otherwise we’re going to head backward to a bigger, more intrusive and increasingly unwieldy alternative nanny-state.
Some smart, lucky, hard working people have realized that careers can be shorter while productive and one’s “life after work” years be more fulfilling and longer. My husband, is 84 (he married a much younger woman ), and he began work after fulfilling a stint in the Army….He graduated from high school at 16 after skipping a couple of grades (yeah, he was pretty smart), and began work at about age 25. We married when he was 32 and he built his own company, retiring essentially at age 55, fully at age 60. He could have worked longer, we would have had more savings, but we had met our basic responsibilities for our children’s college funding, had no debt, and our retirement nest egg was adequate but not grandiose. He wanted to travel and have leisure for his garden and to spend time with me and the kids and anything else his heart desired. His work career was short but sufficiently profitable to allow us time to enjoy life after work. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 76, which was a blow, but at least he had had time to do a lot of the things with his life that were far more important to him than simply earning more money.
I share this because it is illustrative of the fact that working smarter and shorter is wise if it is possible. I totally recognize that it isn’t for many people. Mankind doesn’t yet enjoy the benefits of DNA manipulation to avert or avoid chronic illnesses. Therefore, if you can, retire and enjoy life while you can, because all the money in the world won’t replace mobility and intellectual impairment.
Tracy, my man, you are missing the point. IF we begin by leveling the playing field through quality, safe, relevent, avant garde education for ALL, that’s a huge first step. Then we have to give people a break from living paycheck to paycheck. Income tax reduction? Way too late. Your plan works for all the people (mostly White in America) who already are advantaged by birth, neighborhood, and school choices. Please look outside this small, protected circle at the entire world in order to appreciate the value of Lifer’s suggestion.
As a retiree, if we had to try to live on SS, we wouldn’t get very far, especially with the medical expenses we have. We have savings (at least we do today) and SS while not critical to our security, is very much appreciated. It doesn’t diminish us from our individuality or creativity, it simply “helps”. Maybe if your circumstances were different, or if your associations were a little more broad, you would better understand the value of a guaranteed minimum income. I know you have a different viewpoint and it works for you, but I submit that not many are so fortunate.
1mime and tuttabella, I view the development of a society plagued by conformity and dependence as the downside of our history. The upside, as tutta points out, has been the full flowering of the promise of equality so elegantly expressed, but so imperfectly implemented by the Founders and Framers. I, for one, would be utterly delighted if we could build a society that “combine[s] the flexibility and scrappiness of early America with the social and legal advances we’ve made over the years to include all races, genders, and classes.”
And 1mime, we are in the very midst of a *vast* revolution. We just live too close to it to recognize it for what it is. I would go so far as to suggest we may actually be on the cusp of a speciation event. We are certainly approaching the machine singularity, but as our understanding of genetics improves, along with the tools to manipulate our own genome, it’s highly likely that we’ll see severe social disruption associated with dramatic increases in lifespan (for those who can afford it), not to mention GATTACA-style social problems resulting from consciously directed genetic “improvements” (which, when directed solely by Ma Nature, are what we otherwise refer to as “evolution”). Those relegated to our current biological baseline will be rapidly left behind. I suppose we’ll just have to set up dedicated habitats for “free-range” baseline humans… 😉
No offense meant, Tracy, but your speculation that those who can afford DNA manipulation will live longer, healthier lives, and the rest……………………………
Hitler had much the same plan, only his was a little more immediate. Point is – if these scientific improvements can’t be utilized by “all” people, we’re just right back on the elitist train. That’s not what I want our country and world to look like.
>] “The problem with a universal income plan is that it is old school; it does the opposite and fosters dependence. That’s not what we need.”
With all respect, Tracy, you’re simply assuming that it will foster dependence. That being said, are there going to be some proverbial bad apples that will take advantage of it? Of course, but that’s the case no matter what social program you’re talking about.
People want to thrive. They want to succeed and to experience everything in life that would give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. The purpose of a basic minimum income is to give them a floor under which they will not fall; that they won’t have to worry about putting food on the table or having some money set aside to invest in education, a business or whatever else.
Furthermore, for all your talk of government dependence, let’s keep in mind that a BMI would do more for this than, perhaps, anything else we’ve done in our history. It would be the proverbial knife in the heart of poverty in this country, eliminating the need for food stamps, welfare and all the other programs that you hear people railing against. At the same time, government itself would play a remarkably smaller role. That’s a win for both small government Republicans and socially-minded Democrats.
That said, I can appreciate your concern for why you might think a BMI would be a bad idea, but I the heart of our difference on this issue is very fundamental; whether or not an American in this country, regardless of who they are, deserves a basic floor of security by which they can provide for themselves, their families and their future.
Your ideas, much as I can appreciate where they’re coming from, stem from the assumption that people are already working and that we merely need to supplement their already existing efforts. That reality, for a lot of reasons (some of them utterly heart-wrenching and senselessly cruel, mind you), doesn’t exist for all our people and we need to go further.
Chris, if you’ll kindly explain to me how a universal basic income does not foster dependency, I’ll gladly attend to your words. (You will note that for all your harping, you neglected that tiny detail.) I ask you to do so because direct empirical evidence of the deleterious effects of income subsidies (welfare) abound, both in this country and overseas. In general, the more all embracing the social safety net becomes, the more stagnant the economy, and the more ossified the social stratification. I’ve suggested (mandatory) easing of entry for the young, and building wealth over a lifetime as a cushion for retirement years, with everybody otherwise left to there own devices in between. I don’t see a path to doing more without causing more harm than good.
With respect to social engineering, you are confused. Don’t feel bad, as most denizens of the left have trouble with the concept. Social engineering by definition implies a social engineer, i.e. a central planner. Free enterprise, capitalism, and the commerce that results are the very antithesis of social engineering in that they are *emergent* phenomena, the natural byproduct of human beings exercising their natural right to free association. Nobody *designed* free enterprise; it’s just naturally results from humans being human and interacting with each other in an entirely consensual fashion. Just because somebody (A. Smith) expended the time and effort to describe what was already occurring, that doesn’t mean a social engineer *invented* it.
Contrast free enterprise with the socialism/communism, which are very much the products of social engineering. Socialism and communism are, by definition, platonic, rational systems consciously designed by social philosophers (M. Engels & K. Marx, with many embellishments by others over the years). Despite all the tweaking, these systems still continue to fail miserably because they run counter to human nature, as do most empyrean schemes of the left.
As a side note, I’ll refer you to K. Popper and F. Hayek, both of whom touch on the notion that the chief problem with central planning is one of information deficit, which (although neither mention it) dovetails in interesting ways with Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and related work on quantum indeterminism, not to mention the micro-scale physical processes of very common, but poorly understood physical phenomena pertaining to turbulence. One can’t help but suspect we are bumping into some basic, pervasive underpinning property of Creation. It implies that our ever-confident budding social engineers of the left had best get used to disappointment.
***explain to me how a universal basic income does not foster dependency***
That whole notion needs a dose of reality. Every last one of us is utterly dependent on government and politics for our survival. Those who imagine otherwise are entirely deluded.
Once the delusion of the independent actor with no dependence on a wider civilization disappears, then the rest of the picture falls into place. Then it becomes easy to understand why Hayek and Friedman backed a basic income.
No one survives on their own. Period. A civilization using a basic income would be inhabited by people far more independent of govt than any American who has ever lived.
Elizabeth Warren: “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
What do you think about inherited wealth?
As an engineer I am always aware of how much I rely of the work of past generations in everything I do –
Every “new invention” is just a thin veneer of originality on top of a thick base of existing knowledge
Without that carry forwards we would still be wondering what type of stone to make our hand axes out of
Just think of a UBI as everybody’s share of the general wealth of the people.
Wonderful analogy, Duncan, and I so agree. So did Issac Newton who said: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Duncan, you will enjoy a 6- episode PBS program by Steven Johnson entitled: “How We Got to Now”.
@1mime: With respect to N-Back, the link I gave isn’t an article, Mime. It’s the game itself. There are a lot of variations you can find (my particular favorite is the one called “Super N-Back” on the iTunes Store; one which allows you a lot more options to modify the game, even going so far as to add a “color” and “shape” option).
To make a long and technical story short, basically humans have two kinds of intelligence, crystallized and fluid. Crystallized intelligence; you can think of as the ability to ride a bike or to drive a car. After you’ve done it for a while, you don’t have to think about it. You just do it, hence the term “crystallized”.
Fluid intelligence, as you might guess, is the exact opposite. It entails your ability to process information on the fly, sorting it out in your mind and solving problems that you’ve just encountered. This, a lot of people thought, just varied from person to person and there wasn’t any way to actually improve on the underlying fundamentals. N-Back aims to change all that.
Basically, it’s a challenging memory game that improves both your short-term memory and your ability to organize information in your head. Like working out, you have to keep at it and play a little each day, but it’s really rather revolutionary and could flip the script on the conventional thinking of IQ.
It looks really interesting and fun, Ryan. I’ll pursue it. Probably will crash and burn, but, what the hey!
Ring the Godwin bell, 1mime. Well done! 😉
Eugenics is one thing (and a very “progressive” thing, at that). Merely suggesting that life extension and genetic engineering technology is likely to be scarce (and therefor expensive), in it’s early incarnations is something else altogether.
Tracy and Lifer – I hope you are still following this thread.
Tracy says – “Chris, if you’ll kindly explain to me how a universal basic income does not foster dependency, I’ll gladly attend to your words. (You will note that for all your harping, you neglected that tiny detail.) I ask you to do so because direct empirical evidence of the deleterious effects of income subsidies (welfare) abound, both in this country and overseas. In general, the more all embracing the social safety net becomes, the more stagnant the economy, and the more ossified the social stratification.”
Yet the link below contradicts. Am I missing something? Or is it that we believe something because it just seems right?
By the way, I had another link that compared labor participation rates directly, but found this WSJ link that I assume will have more heft.
I’m sure Tracy will respond that the drop off in employment is due to too many people on welfare. What is your opinion, unarmed?
What I find most interesting is that the countries that have the strongest safety nets, especially, Sweden, is finding a very positive correlation with employment. Your view?
Mime – I truly don’t know. The correlation seems wrong, y’know, going with what your gut tells you. I don’t know if anyone has studied it yet.
Gentlefolk, “standing on the shoulders of giants” aside, I’m reasonably confident that if we pay people to sit at home and contemplate their navels, that is *exactly* what a large percentage will do. (Some of us just can’t seem to sit still, but that fraction is an anomalous minority.) Sad experience since the first advent of welfare bears this quaint notion out. As the old adage goes, when you subsidize something, you get more of it and it becomes more expensive. That applies to paying people to do nothing, as it does to everything else. *It’s a zero-sum game, at best, and very likely a negative-sum game.*
Furthermore, if anybody thinks a UBI would be a no-strings-attached deal, or would long survive as a non-means-tested deal, you’d best get the prescription for your reality goggles checked. A UBI does not mean the end of politics, or a magical change in human nature. Anytime we take money from some and “spread the wealth around,” it’s never just about providence, or even mostly about providence. It’s usually about political renting seeking and the powerful seeking to *control* the behavior of the plebs. Political power and control, a tale as old as time. How about let’s just not play, just this once?
A UBI has been tried
The results were the opposite of what you predict
You can go by your theory
Or you can go by a real world test in Canada
unarmed, I can’t effectively speak to what’s going on in other countries, but the link supports what’s going on in this country.
1mime, you may find the following link interesting, particularly given your situation:
It blocked me, Tracy. I’m curious but not the type to game the system, if that’s the point of the article. I probably leave some things on the table but it gets to the point where it’s simply too much trouble to figure it all out. That means we private pay for a lot of services as we are Medicare not Medicaid. If there were some important parts that you have time to cut and paste, that would be great.
One additional comment about the Forbes article on disability fraud – People who abuse the system make it so much harder for those who legitimately qualify and desperately need this help. I have no patience for those who lie or misrepresent their condition to gain financial aid.
Tracy – You say what seems reasonable. But how do you explain the facts presented by the Great and Powerful Wall Street Journal? By the numbers, it seems that the larger the safety net the larger the inclination to work.
No attempt at explanation? A possibility?
Tracy – Sorry didn’t see the second reply. Maybe we should move the the link roundup? But to your point, are you saying we have a stronger and closer woven safety net than Finland and Sweden, That we are more socialist? Therefore we have a smaller workforce participation (percentage wise)? That can’t be what you are saying. Explain please.
That’s a great post. I think you’re bang on.
In a society like you describe, wouldn’t a basic income be pretty much a requirement?
That’s the only thing that gives me pause, frankly.
Let’s all hope for the demise of the neo-Luddite “rabble”.
GIven where we’re headed as a country and society, it will be soon enough. A recent report to the White House, iirc, said that somewhere around 80% of a large swath of jobs making under $20/hr are likely to be replaced by increasing automation and robots by 2025.
That’s right around the damned corner and we have a government that can barely even keep its lights on (sometimes not even that), let alone pass a basic minimum income.
Man, as soon as they get the “bugs” outta those robots, I’m all in!
Tracy, I agree with most of what you wrote. But I’m not sure what you are implying with the statement, “the future I just laid out will reward those who sport high levels of self-reliance, independence, flexibility and ingenuity. Turning the vast ship of culture to foster these traits will be the work of multiple generations.”
This has always been the case in America (and most other places, honestly). We have always prized and rewarded the self-reliant, self-motivated geniuses. I think the bigger question is what do we do about those who used to be (and in many ways are) still serfs? What do we do about those individuals who might be willing to work, but are not gifted with the skills needed to excel in the knowledge economy? A lot of middle class existences came from Detroit’s factories and a work ethic. The skills that made one a great factory worker are not the same as the ones that make one a great tech company employee. While our education system desperately needs to catch up with this reality, not everyone has it in them to be a knowledge worker.
We must have a system that keeps these decent, upstanding human beings occupied with a reasonable living standard. Doing so will cause some of the pain you mention.
If we rewarded skills – I would not be too worried
The main skill that we reward is the ability to pick the correct parents
The main determinant about your wealth – is the wealth of your parents
If you are a self reliant self motivated genius – then you are better off in Europe
If you are the child of a rich person then yes you are better off in the USA
Duncan – Better off in Europe? I guess you’re right. Look at all the startups in Europe. And the innovation. And the world-class universities. And the social structures that encourage risk taking. And the incentives!
Of course I’m being ironic. Given the choice between Europe and New Zealand, I’d take Kiwi any day. Where are you again? (And BTW, Quora is not a country. ;-))
JG – An unloaded question: Are the people of whom you speak better off today than they were before the industrial revolution? (Of note here is the fact that a surplus of unskilled labor is a very recent, and I might add, transient phenomenon, in the grand scheme of social evolution.)
Fifty, unemployment is only transient if it’s not you standing in the unemployment line. Really, unemployment peaked in 2009 due to the Great Recession, and though those numbers have dropped, we all know that there are many, many workers who either retired early or gave up, or are working in positions that under-utilize their skills.
When I read that phrase in Tracy’s otherwise formidable, visionary piece, I admit I found it elitist. There are undoubtedly those who don’t want to work and are quite happy to live off the labor of others, but, I really think they are the minority. Most people want work not only for security and to meet their responsibilities, but also for positive self-worth. You and I both know that there are cultural and societal factors that impact people’s ability to challenge up. Race, poverty, educational quality, familial dysfunction – these are largely outside a child’s control. To glorify a lifestyle and new world without acknowledging or helping those who are left behind, is not what America is all about.
I share JG’s concern about how we are going to help these people transition into this new information-based social order. For those of us who have good jobs, good educations, savings, and all the flexibility these attributes offer, there are many who don’t. Many not through their fault. I think we should and can help these people through job training that is appropriate to their ability and skills level. If we don’t, not only are we writing off a large part of our society, we will pay anyway through taxes and crime. Doesn’t it make sense to work the front end for children and the back end for those who have lost jobs due to a changing world?
Listen, Duncan, I respect much of what you write, but the statement that “If you are a self reliant self motivated genius – then you are better off in Europe” is without merit.
Why would I say this? Well, California has produced Google, Apple, Instagram, Uber, and a raft of other world-changing companies, often with principals from all over the world. Europe has produced the maker of Angry Birds. The Economist a few years ago analyzed the Fortune 500 companies that were founded since 1980 and concluded that continental Europe had produced one-seventh the number of the Bay Area.
If Europe were that big an incubator, then it would not lose all of its innovators to the U.S.
The comment was based on the fact that most of Europe has a much better “safety net” – things like health cover – than the USA, – so you can go and do your own thing at a lower risk than in the USA
I don’t know why there is a lower success rate but there are several factors
The USA has a larger “monolithic” one language customer base
Until recently a customer base that was much richer and had much more disposable income
Back in the 70’s the USA was the best place to be a working man,
Now, – maybe 20th?
But on average wages the USA is still ahead
This means that the European “customer base” is probably not yet richer than the US customer base – or if it is it has only recently become richer
So an analysis from 1980 when the USA had a decidedly richer customer base will definitely show that the USA will have more big businesses
So I will stick to
“If you are a self reliant self motivated genius – then you are better off in Europe” but add – you are probably more likely to make it big in the USA
50, the question you ask is filled with nuance. Yes, the “serfs” of today are better off – by orders of magnitude – than those of yesteryear. Chris recently posted comments to the effect that today’s kids are better off than Rockefeller in his hey-day. And it is true in many objective measures that are critically important.
But humans view things in a relativistic manner. While my worries about 50% of my kids dying in infancy might have happily receded, those same kids want a new iPhone every year and we need a new car and the rumors are the plant is going to close and Bob down the street is taking his family on a vacation to Daytona but I can’t afford to. Jealousy is an insidious force.
Inequality matters. We do not want to have our Marie Anoinette moment. How do we help the serfs before they realize they can seize the guillotine?
JG – Hmmm. Jealousy, huh. You may be right, but if we are to be driven by social forces related to who has the latest iPhone, or who gets to vacation where in this brave new world of privilege and options, we’re screwed.
Let them eat steak.
That is who we are – our cousins (apes) all went for big muscles and the Alpha male approach
We went for equality (or at least NOT massive inequality) – supported by lethal force applied to anybody who tried to be the big boss
for over 200,000 years
Since then we have had about 4000 years of oligarchies – but at heart we believe in and will enforce fairness
I recommend – Ultrasociety
I’ll check it out, Duncan. Thanks. I’ll get back to you.
Duncan, Europe may have been (may still be) a good place for the working stiffs. With their job protection, social benefits and strict working hours, it does provide a comfortable way of life. It will not stay that way. The youth unemployment rate in the EU is 20%. In several major countries (France, Italy, Spain, Greece) it is over 30%, approaching 50% in some. Those young people who are employed are on short-term contracts precisely because of all these benefits.
You might be the first person I’ve heard claim that the “monolithic” culture of the U.S. is a reason for its success. To my ears, living in a city in which a quarter of the population is foreign-born and the public schools have kids who speak 150 different languages at home, that seems a little peculiar. But never mind that – there is a reason Google started in California and not France, and it is definitely cultural, but if it had to do with language, Sergey Brin would have stayed in Moscow.
50 – yes, crudely put, it’s jealousy. You can’t fight biology. But it’s more about fair play – Americans are pretty tolerant of the idea that two guys can put in an equally long day, one in a suit and one in coveralls, and then drive home in their Mercedes and beat up Taurus. But when the differences in rewards for an honest day’s work get great enough, when that guy in steel-toed boots is one illness or car repair away from a payday lender despite his efforts, then he gets angry. It has happened several times in the past and leads to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
At the end of the day, in the society that Tracy envisions in the OP (one where most people don’t have jobs and yet corporate profits and economic indicators are perpetually trending upwards), two things will be necessary:
1) a basic income (or some form of massive social safety net) needs to be implemented.
2) we as a society need to fundamentally change how we think about “work”. We must breakbthe link between work and morality that has been necessary up until now (and will likely remain necessary for quite a while). No longer will we ascribe morality, integrity of character properties to the concept of ” work”. We won’t ascribe negative traits to things like not working. It will no longer be immoral or wrong to be lazy. Boring perhaps. Uninteresting. But not immoral.
The concept of “an honest days work” will stop taking on deeper meaning.
I’m not saying associating a good work ethic with a strong character is a bad thing. It has been necessary within the framework of our economic system to demonize those able but unwilling to work and idealize those willing to work the hardest. But those ideals and values won’t have much role in a society where 50%+ of society are simply not able to find jobs due to massive automation.
This isn’t a “decision” we will have to make as a society, to stop valuing hard work above and beyond the utilitarian value of said work. It will just happen naturally. Much the same eay that the stigma of personal bankruptcy naturally went way down during the subprime crisis because so many ppl went bankrupt. In a society when so many ppl cant work, there will be no stigma to not working.
It will fundamentally change how humans live out their lives, as it will completely upend the ethos humanity has lived under since time began, that of “if you don’t work, you don’t survive”
I would add one little phrase to your excellent statement, Rob.
“It will fundamentally change how humans live out their lives, as it will completely upend the ethos humanity has lived under since time began, that of …
“if you don’t work, you don’t survive, and you are not worthy.”
JG I don’t think it’s jealousy. I think that’s what 1%’ers say because it allows one to easily demonize those demanding change and thus, to dismiss them.
Saying “oh ignore them, they’re just jealous” is much easier then admitting that they might be right.
I think it’s one of humans being naturally hardwired to value fairness and justice. How many of us that watched Netflix “Making A Murderer” were filled with genuine rage at the obvious injustice of the case (even if Avery is guilty) even though we don’t know any of the participants?
I think most people are not “jealous” of someone with means for no other reason then they have resources. I think most people do not begrudge at all someone who earned their wealth. But when the very wealthy use their financial wealth to greatly expand their political power AND THEN use that power to pass laws that will devastate the poor and middle classes so that these people can throw another few billion onto the pile, most people have a serious problem with that, and its not in any sense ‘jealousy’.
When people are working 40 hours a week at Wal Mart and STILL need food stamps just to survive, while the company itself continues to make record profits, billions after billions, most of us have a visceral reaction to that, and again, its not ‘jealousy’.
To reduce the mix of emotions and anger at the current system to ‘jealousy’ is incredibly patronising, and the only reason to do it is to allow the status quo to continue in perpetuity. It seems an awful lot like victim blamimg. On top of all that, its just not accurate.
Of all the destructive emotions and societal forces that massive inequality unleashes, ‘jealousy’ is among the least relevent.
Whoa. I was going to reply to JG, but read RobA’s bit on work.
Listen: *Choosing* not to work and being lazy and expecting the rest to support your lazy ass is *immoral*. To assert that laziness should lose its stigma, how we should all embrace the slackers and dance the Andy Panda Polka is one of the most absurd notions I’ve read here since “he who shall go unnamed” left the fold. Social responsibility entails contribution.
I am not one of those who see the unemployed universally, as slackers. The problems of dislocation due to the changing nature of our economy that Tracy and others have mentioned here, are real and will get worse. We’re going to have to deal with that.
One of the problems I see is the gradual disconnect between choices and consequences. A free people need to have choices. A factory worker from Detroit who lost his job to automation, and failing some amazing clairvoyance on his part, deserves our support. And his children. The twenty-something carrying a banner on the notional mall bemoaning his inability to find a high-paying job with his degree in film studies receives none of my sympathy – only my scorn. But back to choices and consequences…
Tracy is suspicious of government meddling and social engineering. I share some of this skepticism. But let’s take the issue of education as an example. If we are to expand government services to help defray the costs associated with higher education, (and I think we should, at least on the basis of ability to pay), should we not also have some say as to what is studied? Want a degree in Women’s Studies or Jazz Appreciation, (or sociology), fine! Pay for it. Want to learn to weld, or study engineering, or biochemistry, we’ll help. This sort of gentle social engineering is in every way appropriate.
Large segments of the chronically unemployed are composed of those displaced from former occupations. Others are children of parents who were displaced or made bad choices. This swath of our society is deserving. On the other hand, there are indisputably those who count themselves among that number who just made poor life choices. Choices like dropping out of high school to hang out with friends. Or starting families way too early. Or getting a $150K degree in Art History. If we isolate completely choice from consequence in some sort of misguided, naive, and ultimately destructive Utopian experiment, designed to end, once and for all, inequality, we not only will have lost our edge – we will have lost our future.
Frankly, even feeling the need to post something so patently obvious is somewhat disappointing.
Fifty, I don’t know if you have either read HRC’s budget plan or heard her speak about education at the two recent debates, but she offered her idea on your point about educational relevancy. She was speaking specifically to the 42% rise in college tuition and was asked how to pay for it. One of her ideas was to ask states to invest more in the education of their young people by adequately supporting community colleges. The other, interesting point she made was that any time a college offered a course that didn’t benefit directly a market-relevant curricula, they should not be able to charge a student for it. That would remove a lot of curicula fluff and force colleges to more closely hew to the market.
Now, I’m going to put on my liberal arts major hat and tell you that I believe in the arts, I believe in the social sciences, but I also believe that students need to know going in what their job opportunities are. If they are passionate about their choice, and can demonstrate talent, these curricula areas are legitimate. After all, the world would be a rather bland environment without the arts.
And just to be clear, my statement regarding jealousy was in response to JG’s statement, “But humans view things in a relativistic manner. While my worries about 50% of my kids dying in infancy might have happily receded, those same kids want a new iPhone every year and we need a new car and the rumors are the plant is going to close and Bob down the street is taking his family on a vacation to Daytona but I can’t afford to. Jealousy is an insidious force.” JG understood what I was talking about. His scenario described a world of plenty. Of having to decide between new iPhones for the kids, or a vacation in Florida. Any attempt to level the field to this extent regarding ‘inequality’, is not even wrong. (To borrow from Wolfgang Pauli.)
Yes, I agree. We’re not talking about necessities here.
johng, 1mime, fifty, all very cogent comments. Duncan, you’re missing the point.
1mime, my intent was not to be elitist, but to suggest that we need to find ways to enhance independence and self-reliance across the board. I certainly don’t intuit that will be easy. The trick with managing Duncan’s social safety net is that you have to do so in a manner that avoids both political rent seeking and dependency in the populace. That’s tough, because *all* biological organisms are by nature *lazy*, i.e. we are pre-programmed to expend the minimum amount of energy required to assure survival and reproduction. The current state of the art in social safety nets across the western world is an abject failure in both respects.
Sam Adams once noted that democracies end by committing suicide. That suicide generally takes one of two forms. First, as Hayek and many other have pointed out, democracies are readily susceptible to morphing into totalitarian tyrannies. Second, as Friedman and Thatcher and others have noted, democracies tend to go bankrupt. Often, development of the latter state spurs the political transition to the former. In both cases, socialism is a necessary (and often sufficient) precursor. The harbinger of disaster is inevitably the centralized concentration of both political and economic power in the same hands.
With respect to the concentration of political and economic power in the same hands, it’s worth noting that the D.C. MSA is the one part of the country that has prospered mightily throughout this anemic economic “recovery.” It’s also worth noting that all of the “outsider” candidates have picked up on this and made hay with it. Bernie, with his talks of taxes on “Wall Street speculation,” Cruz with his railing against the “Washington cartel,” and the Donald with his anti-immigration and trade-protectionism stances, and general nativist fervor. (BTW, in my view Cruz and Sanders have nailed the proximate cause of our pain; Trump is concentrating on secondary symptoms. Needless to say, I view both Sanders’ and Trump’s solutions to the problem as being inappropriate to the point of representing a clear and present danger to the continuation of our republic.)
mime – I love the arts. I am a patron of the arts. In America, we do an excellent job of supporting them and fostering them *with private money*. I am in total agreement that this place would be barren and sterile without the arts and literature; A much diminished existence. Nuff said.
WRT the soft sciences, well, they pretty much don’t work. Study them if you wish – but not on the public dime – at least, and until some whisper of relevance can be demonstrated. I have not read HRC’s ‘budget’. From what you say, there will be parts of it I won’t hate. (Sorta like that vegetarian menu with cheese that I talked about a few days ago.)
Duncan – I scanned the ‘Cliff’s Notes’. There are some interesting ideas there, but we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. There has not been sufficient time for us to ‘evolve’ one iota since war ended the kingdoms. More keep trying to pop up, and if you think we can bash them back down by playing nice and cooperating, I’ve got news for you.
I”ll second that, Fifty. Ask Obama about all the cooperation he got from the Republicans from day one! People are what they are and wanting it to be different just won’t make it so…………
If the Cliff’s notes don’t talk about cultural rather than biological evolution they have missed the point,
I consider this book to be one of the ones everybody should read,
Capital in the 21st century
The Better Angels of our Nature
The World until Yesterday
And the old classics
Wealth of Nations
Advice to a Prince
Here, here for your classic reading list, Duncan! I’d add:
The Road to Serfdom
The Rights of Man
The Age of Reason and
The Constitution of Liberty
I’d better get reading,
The middle two I have – but I should re-read
The other two cost money – I will read one and see,
Bugger! – I tried to buy those and it says – “This title is not currently available for purchase”
I will read the Thomas Paine ones and come back to the others
Duncan – If you’re a Kindle guy, I think I can loan you The Constitution of Liberty.
I use a kindle – but I have never borrowed or lent a book – how do you do that?
Back at you in an hour. I’ve never done this either!
Erg! My sincere apologies, Duncan. I read up on the procedure. Some books are not available for lending, and this is one of them. 😦 Sorry about that… I guess we all learned something today, though.
Where do you get your books?
I’m a Science Fiction guy and I use BAEN
for the older books I use Gutenberg
Amazon is my last resort – unfortunately I end up there most of the time
Very astute observations Tracy.
Reforming our educational system to serve all the people is one key to our brighter future.
Lifer, can we see a post about education reform, what we need for the new society? Not that I’m biased or anything, but it’s a subject near & dear to my heart.
I share your interest in education for an information/technological society. As important as the changes therein, is a transition plan for those who are caught between their graduation and jobs which may also be transitioning. It’s really a lock-step process, or should be.
This just in from the Ottawa Citizen. *wink* Seems apropos of my pending annual migration north next month.
Dateline: Ottawa 9 March 2016
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.
The possible election of Donald Trump is prompting the exodus among Left leaning citizens who fear they’ll soon be required to hunt, pray, and agree with Bill O’ Reilly.
Canadian border farmers say its not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night. “I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn,” said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. “The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn’t have any, he left. Didn’t even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?”
In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields. “Not real effective,” he said. “The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn’t give milk.”
Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals Near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves. “A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions,” an Ontario border patrolman said. I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley Cabernet, though.”
When liberals are caught, they’re sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Trump campaign establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR.
In the days since the election, liberals have turned to sometimes ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers. If they can’t identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, We get suspicious about their age,” an official said.
Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are Creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies. I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just cant support them,” an Ottawa resident said. How many art-history majors does one country need?”
In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Joe Biden met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals, a source close to Biden said. “We’re going to have some Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might put some endangered species on postage stamps. The president is determined to reach out.”
Send em back. These Americans aren’t able to assimilate.
Besides, everybody k kws America isn’t send their best. They’re rapists, and murderers. Some, I assume, might be good ppl. But better build a wall just in case.
Don’t forget all the draft dodgers (-:
Oh, and that wall? Make America pay for it, and make it tall, reeeeel tall.
Thank you for the humor, Fifty. It’s good to laugh.
Heh! I almost addressed the above directly to you two, but forgot. Glad you received it!
Now I don’t care who you are, that’s funny! 🙂
But seriously, there are good Susan Sarandon movies??? Who knew?!
I don’t think so. But organic broccoli? Oh god… 😉
Democrats have a sense of humor, too, Tracy (-: They even “get” wry, witty humor.
Don’t let political correctness ruin Canada. It has to be said, those people aren’t sending their best. These are people with “lots of problems.”
I, of course, do my level best!
Our neighbors and friends to the west just left last week after two weeks with us, and our neighbors to the east are in Florida for the season. I’m working on them.
And after all, Canada did send us Mark Steyn. Love him, or hate him, he ain’t PC!
Dang, there goes my dreams of the Myron Floren Kibbutz!
And a-one-um and a-two-um. Showin’ yer age there, kid!
Fifty, I suspect the author of the Canadian piece had you with the sociologists….knowing how you love, love the soft sciences (-:
This was a wonderful piece of writing. Is it a regular contributing journalist or something special? I would enjoy reading more of his/her work….In fact, if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or some vampire candidate from the GOPe is elected, I might even have a subscription delivered to my door – in Canada!
Sociologist. Sheesh! I saw it years ago after the election of Dubya, and dug it up, and modified it a bit for currency, but I have no idea who wrote it originally. Hope whomsoever wrote it takes no offense. (Nor our host, for this wayyyy OT, lengthy post.)
Lifer tolerates my numerous OT posts, so, you’re in no danger a’tall!
Amazing that the piece of writing is years old….some things are timeless….Canada can always count on their neighbor to the South for some fine hooligans and shenanigans!
What else would expect from a best friend?
Some home-made, crusty hot French bread with a lovely omelet, si vous plait!
*you* expect… Sorry.
You gotta laugh or you’d cry for the state of our country.
I love this post “Technology vs Biology”.
So very refreshing to read something that isn’t about the election.
There so much good stuff in there and in the comments, and I am still mulling over it.
Thank you Lifer and Lifer’s commentariat.
Ezra Klein nails it! GOP elites acts surprised the base went crazy after they drove them crazy.
Soooooo yeah, that whole Sanders thing? How does kooky old Bernie Sanders beat Hill in a state that had him polling like, 20 points below her, with Nate Silver saying Hill had a 99% chance of winning?
If you take away Hillarys dominating Southern wins, she looks downright pedestrian everywhere else.
And as the GOP has shown us over the past 8 years or so, you need more then the South to win.
I also heard one of the pundits say there appears to be a major anti establishment mood on both sides of the spectrum in the rust belt. That does not bode well for Hill vs Trump.
I was shocked by Bernie’s win. Easily his biggest of the year.
However, it was a mere eight years ago that two Democrat candidates went back and forth through the primary season, with Obama building an early (insurmountable) delegate lead and then Hillary started winning a bunch of states.
That seemed to work out relatively fine for the Democrats eight years ago.
I think I would happily take the contest between two moderately sane candidates on the Democrats side rather than the clown car on the GOP side.
My fear is that the dark, malevolent force that is Ted Cruz is going to emerge as the “rational one” on the GOP. Imagine two years ago anyone thinking Cruz would eventually be the establishment side of the GOP house. The only thing that stops that from happening is the not inconsequential issue of the fact that it seems everyone really dislikes Cruz.
So, Team Trump!
His biggest of the year. .2%. Seriously guys, you gotta stop making fun of Republicans if you’re gonna keep this up.
Count me as one who is not laughing but worried about how America will be if Republicans win under either a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz. Very worried. I am paying attention to turnout and the breadth of appeal across America for these two campaign leaders. It’s sickening to me and I don’t find it funny – one bit.
An interesting point is that the Hispanic population/voter is starting to feel “left out”, per the NYT piece linked below. Norman Ornstein, a notable, rational political analyst and co-author with Thomas Mann, for the profound book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks”, says we are missing the dominant yet carefully subliminal theme in the Trump campaign of “race” – including Muslims, Blacks and Hispanics. Is it any wonder that Hispanics are resentful of Trump’s focus on the White working man with whom they compete for jobs?
Here is a voting block that could still be energized or who could simply decide to “sit this one out” as the candidates are not focused on the issues critical to them, namely jobs and immigration. The Hispanic author of the NYT piece sarcastically noted: “…endorsements from anti-immigrant figures like the controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio would help Donald J. Trump “do really well with ‘the Hispanics.’” Who cares about their issues, and who will get their support, “if” they decide to turn out?
Chris, I think what is so important about this contest is not the margin victory. Its that the polls were so catastrophically wrong, and what that might mean for future Midwestern rust belt states.
It could be a fluke. Or it could be that pollsters are missing something fundamental about that electorate. 538 calls it one of the biggest upset in modern political history.
What does this mean for IL and OH, both Midwestern rust belt states (with similar demographics and issues as Michigan) that currently have Clinton with big leads? If Sandees takes thise, thw race looks entirely different.
Or it could be a fluke. And even if it isn’t a fluke, it still isn’t enough of a shift to change the outcome. See Nate Cohn’s analysis on Twitter.
Since many of us don’t “tweet”, could you summarize Cohn’s analysis for us Lifer?
I’ll try to find that.
And definitely, it could be a fluke. But I don’t see why that’s any more likely then the narrative r that Hillary is far from inevitable outside the Deep South.
If we remove all the Deep South states (which are now done), here’s what we end up with:
HRC: Texas, Nevada, Iowa, Mass, VA (debatable if VA is a “Southern State”)
Sanders: NH, ME, MI, CO, Neb, MN, OK, VT, KS
Sobering and logical, Rob. There is so much at stake in this election. We are all so “attuned” to the risks inherent in a loss (for either party) that it’s possible to overlook the big picture, which is: America has survived worse. It will again. I just don’t want to go there and have to start all over again to fight for reason and fairness – which is pretty selfish because there are so many who have never attained it – ever.
If Michigan changes the race completely, and all of the remaining races match the outcomes from MI in terms of demographic shift, turnout etc….wait for it….Sanders still loses by hundreds of delegates.
To have a chance to win, he needed to win most of the early races by decisive margins. He didn’t. It’s over. All he is now is an irritant.
@Lifer He’s not just an irritant. He will lose but he is trying to gain a platform for his policy positions and is pulling young people into the Democratic Party. The amount of delegates he gets will be basically representative to how much lip the DNC is going to have to pay to their left flank. He wants to influence the race at this point, not win it, which was likely his goal from the beginning.
He’s also is helping Clinton by making it look like she’s not just being coronated and giving her a little debate practice before she starts tearing down Trump/Cruz. Hillary Clinton with Sanders campaigning for her would be an unstoppable duo, you’d get high turnout among both older dems and the younger ones and would have almost total party unity at that point.
Oh for heavens sake.
If you throw out all of the Deep South states, Clinton is still winning.
Out of 905 delegates in the states on Rob’s list, Clinton has won 474 and Sanders has won 431.
It isn’t the number of states you win, it’s the delegates.
It isn’t the number of states you win, it’s the delegates.
Make this your mantra and live accordingly.
Griff….Hillary had lots of delegates when Obama win (probably more than Bernie will have).
How much of an affect did that have on Obama or his positions? I think pretty negligible.
Come october, I don’t think folks are going to remember much of Bernie.
Of course, I’ve been wrong about everything this election cycle.
Clinton eventually served as Obama’s Secretary of State, so yes she had influence in Obama’s government. The thing was that Clinton wasn’t marginally different from Obama, either’s supporters would get behind the either. There’s a bit more of a difference between Clinton and Sanders, so you would need his support to get some of his supporters out as they may not be so enthused to turn out for Clinton. He will probably be campaigning for Clinton and chances are he will have much more prominance than he did before after her election.
People need to stop comparing this to 2008. It’s not 2008 anymore. Sanders isn’t 2008 Obama, but he’s not 2008 Clinton either.
While it isn’t 2008, people need to stop believing that this “Sanders thing” is a particularly unheard of phenomenon that is going to cause a political revolution. We have seen the story before, and the ending is generally the same.
Maybe this time it will be different…was probably what they thought last time too.
He won’t cause a revolution he’ll just expand the influence of his “wing” of the party, sort of like Patrick Buchanan bringing more paleoconservatives and culture warriers into the GOP fold via his run. The main difference being that while I have issues with Sanders (mainly that he’s too rigid in his thinking) the problems he’s espousing about social inequality and money in politics is real (if oversimplified) and are real potential threats to society, whereas Buchanan’s concerns about der gays getting married and Satanistic cults taking over the US was just depressingly crazy.
It was a huge surprise that the polls were so far off in MI. That was a big upset for Sanders.
But as there are no winner-take-all states in the Dem race, winning depends very much on winning in high population states with high margins of victory. Sanders is behind in his targets; he’s going to have to start winning populous states with large, decisive victories to make up his delegate deficit. Near ties aren’t good enough.
It isn’t impossible, but it also isn’t very likely.
See 538 for the numbers.
The question, though, is whether Sanders ascendancy makes him a better Dem nominee. I have always like Sanders, while feeling that Clinton is more skilled for the times. Obviously, I do not have my finger on the pulse of what’s motivating the majority of voters. At the end of the day, those of us who dig deep, think hard, and research like crazy, are not seeing things as simply as others whose votes are just as important, and possibly, more numerous. It’s humbling.
He is still mostly winning with white people votes, even in MI.
Clinton is better across the different demographic groups.
A good friend of mine from CO has 4 adult kids who are All Bernie supporters. She is a Hillary supporter but has to listen nonstop to their Hillary criticism. She keeps warning me (and she is politically astute) that Bernie’s supporters are probably NOT going to turn out for Hillary if she beats him. They’ve got a real trust issue with her and even though Bernie and Hillary have been careful in their personal attacks on one another, there have been enough comments to poison the millennial well. They don’t like her and they can’t relate to how she answers her critics. They definitely respond to Bernie’s “black and white” simple answers and solutions. Now, I’m not agreeing with them, just sharing what may be a real problem for HRC at the General, if she’s the nominee. Independents haven’t been breaking for Hillary either, although there is more acceptance of her than with millennials. Here’s a link that foreshadows the Hillary Millennial problem in the General. And, don’t forget that pesky email problem is still simmering on the stove. It’s conceivable that HRC could beat Bernie and lose in the General Election because people just don’t turn out. I keep going back to Michigan, a state she “lost” and Bernie took away from her in a last ditch push. Don’t say it can’t happen, because it can.
FOX News conducted two town halls Monday night for Democratic candidates Clinton and Sanders. Here is a link to the Clinton forum. It’s 27 minutes in length and is very substantive. I think you’ll find it different than the major debates. I missed it and suspect many of you did as well. For your information,
I’d like to offer some thoughts about ‘where we are’ in this interesting presidential race. Of course, I am a political neophyte and therefore my opinion is worth very little, never the less, here it is – a tome, not a tweet, for sure. (apologies for that) My focus is on what is happening over in the Blue Wall which of course is impacted by what’s happening over in Trumpgate.
With the stunning upset of Clinton in Michigan, piggybacked onto Sander’s Kansas win and others plus several close contests, the Democratic nomination is becoming less predictable. Despite her commanding delegate lead, “if” Sanders continues to win states outside of the deep south (which Dems will likely lose due to Republican dominance), he can catch up with Clinton’s primary delegate lead. Then, he will be able to make a compelling case for super delegates to switch their convention support to him and become the convention nominee.
Bear with me, please.
Here’s my reasoning. The GOPe and the DNCe will be looking at more than the Presidency. They both know that the odds of a presidential win will likely mean the Senate will track and SCOTUS control will be assured. Frankly, that is a gamble Democrats more than Republicans, can’t afford to lose. The GOPe will grudgingly give their support to the popular candidate (most likely Trump, but maybe Cruz or the “ghost”) and the GOP base will fall in line. If there is one thing that is indisputable, it is that Republicans vote. Democrats are far less predictable, consistent with their broad tent and historical fickleness for turning out to vote. (Which has been appalling demonstrated in the primaries at percentages running 20-30% less than the GOP turnout thus far). Will the DNCe gamble with a wounded Clinton if Sanders continues to generate enthusiasm, broad state success, demonstrated ability to raise funds, and mobilization of a huge, tireless Millennial population? Sanders offers a strikingly similar working class appeal to that of Trump while lacking support from the evangelical voters that Cruz has locked up. Sanders positions on issues are well articulated and (most important) “genuine and consistent” regarding unfair distribution of wealth and for the basic needs of ordinary Americans. He has “walked the walk” for years, and that comes across clearly. Further, Sanders has presented these positions forcefully, with civility and class while Trump has utilized foul language, bravado, and bombast. Surely, this will matter. I have not given as much consideration to a Cruz/Sanders match up but it would certainly present diametrically opposed political candidates and agendas.
Thus, the working class could have two dogs in the fight for leadership for the first time in decades. Who will present a better case to claim their ultimate support? A critical question is will millennials come out and vote in the general election, and can Sanders compete for a working class base that crosses party lines? If Bernie is the nominee, I think that is highly probable. The millennial and worker base enthusiasm for “their” candidate will get them to the polls to “close things out”, (to borrow a line from the Trumpster). Would they turn out for similarly for Clinton in a Trump or Cruz head to head? That is not assured. HRC is extremely well qualified but suffers from lack of enthusiasm in addition to a long standing animus from all levels of Republican voters. She may not garner enough support to counter Trump’s working class appeal to both Dems and Repubs who fit that classification. Would a Sanders have a better chance of competing for these critical blue voters? Would the critical Black base turn out for him? Sanders demonstrated in MI that he can cross over into the Black voter base outside of the south where Democrats will likely lose in favor of the northern, eastern and western areas of the country where Democrats have the best chance of winning. Sanders has picked up significant endorsements from notable Black leaders and that may pick up momentum as well as he looks more likely to be the Democratic nominee. He hascompeted well with Clinton for White voters outside the Gulf states. Sanders is the “come from behind” horse in the race and though the odds are long, he has a shot. He certainly has demonstrated the grit, stamina and ability to compete on the national stage, and, in my personal view, has earned the right (as has Trump), to fight for the party’s nomination on his own merits.
Although Hillary leads widely with super delegates, these people are not “bound” to her at the convention. Thus, if Sanders continues his upswing, winning OH and PA and other big states, he will compile a primary delegate count that is competitive with Clinton, producing a new dynamic in the campaigns as well as an exciting convention challenge. I believe that all bets are off for the assured nomination of HRC if Sanders comes in having demonstrated compelling wins and broad national support.
My oh my, have both establishments missed the message that is screaming across this country with Trump’s dominance and Sanders ascendancy. If the final scenario features a Trump/Sanders match up, the debates and focus would finally hone in on issues that are important, if not critical, to the working class, the untended majority of America, who are desperately seeking jobs and economic fairness. Abortion, immigration, tax cuts for the rich, national security are way down the list. FINALLY the working class will have a national forum for their needs that has been M.I.A. I do expect Trump to shift to a more dignified persona at this juncture as he will have attained the necessary delegates to secure his nomination and now must appeal the rest of the GOP base as well as wage war with his Democratic opponent. I do not see Sanders changing his message or his style which will be interesting to see if this works in his favor or is too narrow to win over America at large.
It ain’t over til the fat lady sings so hold tight, ladies and gentlemen! We have a real race to the finish on both sides. We’ve been waiting for a cataclysmic event to compel change in our political system. We may find it is finally happening. Let us hope it is change that is for the better.
Again, my apology for the length of my comments. Thank you for your patience and forbearance.
Mime, I don’t see the working-class voters who support Trump crossing over to support Sanders. The supporters of both candidates may be anti-establishment, but you have 2 very different types of anti-establishment. The Trump supporters seem angry and bitter, whereas the Sanders ones are disappointed but still idealistic and hopeful and simply more positive.
Oh, and Mime — could you please elaborate? 🙂
I’m ran plumb out of words, Tutta, for which we can all be grateful (-;
Plus, Sanders is an admitted “socialist,” which to Trump supporters means that Sanders is in favor of helping those very people Trump promises to take the country back from, instead of seeing that Sanders may also be trying to help THEM; or if they do realize it, thank you, but they don’t need his help.
1mime, the bottom line is that Hillary is an appallingly weak candidate. In ’08 she had her derriere handed to her by a community organizer with close ties to radical leftists. Now she’s got her hands full with a commie septuagenarian. Much of this stems from her character, or lack thereof. She’s displays a levels empathy and woodenness of personality on par with Mitt Romney. She’s managed to alienate just about every gun owner in America, a very sizable percentage of whom are Democrats. Add to this a long history of thinly veiled corporatist corruption and political influence peddling, not to mention a very real possibility of federal criminal prosecution, and a list of foreign policy failures as SoS as long as my arm, and it’s no wonder she’s experiencing some difficulty locking up a nomination that ought to be a shoo-in.
I have very little use for the Donald, but when he gleefully proclaims, regarding Hillary, that, “I haven’t even started on her yet,” Dems ought to be deeply concerned.
As weak as HRC may be from your perspective, she is light years better than anybody on your side of the aisle and so is that septuagenarian socialist. BTW, I’m still waiting for Mittens tax returns….and waiting….and waiting….But, really, what can you expect from someone who’s part of the 47%, believes gun violence could be curbed with better laws, believes there is an important role for government and it definitely is bigger than a bath tub, who appreciates and admires that Black community organizer/President who won by two landslides, and has great respect for that 75 year old man who is working his buns off as is his female opponent? It’s just hopeless to waste your valuable intellect trying to explain it to me. So, don’t.
She is the strongest major Presidential candidate since Reagan. And before Reagan, since FDR. She’s the only competent adult in this race anymore on either side. She’s going to make her opponent(s) look idiotic and finish with north of 350 Electoral Votes.
I hope you’re right, Lifer, but we were both wrong for months about Trump being a viable candidate (as was everyone else so we had lots of company….imagine, we were looking at the situation rationally….who knew that wasn’t going to work?). As we used to say when I was a wee little girl, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Lifer, you’ve played behind the scenes in politics, how likely is it that someone like Comey would use the power and independence of his position on the Clinton email investigation. Until I read this background from Th Hill, I didn’t realize how closely aligned Comey is to the GOP…going way back. Read it and see what you think.
Mime, I say Trump supporters are angry and bitter, but I admit I get that impression from the media. The 2 Trump supporters I have personal contact with are actually two of the most positive, optimistic people I know.
Positve and optimistic, but, really, and I mean no disrespect, if they are supporting Trump, are they rational? How can they watch him in action and feel secure about him being America’s President? Do they really understand the job of President? Could there be a disconnect in that regard?
LIfer asks: “What sort of things might become relatively more expensive if the price of all our stuff collapsed?”
I would say that the value of people (human capital/social capital) would increase greatly, but I fear that we would no longer be willing to spend time or money on something so “expensive,” because to engage with real, live people takes time, and we don’t seem to want to take the time to do it; and also, it costs more to utilize the services and talents of people to do the things that machines can do more cheaply. Or the only people we will pay for services are the ones we can get away with paying a super low wage.
OK, Tutta, now you’ve got me counting. I think you got me beat in number of words in one sentence (-: You know what? I enjoyed every one of them!
Mime, this stream-of-consciousness form of expression is good for me. I tend to be too rigid in my writing, too concerned about writing the perfect sentence, and I enjoy the freedom afforded by the laid back environment on this blog.
Me, too, Tutta, but I really do try to put a cogent thought out there, even though it sometimes is a long time getting there. I have noticed this about Pres. Obama in his responses to reporters. He’s rather lengthy in his responses and I believe his mind is spinning its way through lots of ideas on his way to his answer. It never bothers me although I have heard him criticized for being too “wordy”. I guess I can relate (-:
Well, I have always found President Obama very easy to understand. I consider his answers to be particularly clear and straightforward. I wonder what that says about me.
And, me. I find his comments thoughtful and carefully phrased. IOW, very Presidential. I am going to miss hearing his speeches and commentary, although I’m sure he will command even higher speech fees than Hillary (-: I googled “paid speeches by famous people” and noted that Dr. Phil is the highest paid in the group. What does that say about the speech market demand!
There are some people who are very wordy, and I just make a point to follow their train of thought as they speak, not letting myself getting too far behind or ahead of them.
It may have to do with the fact that I like to practice the art of simultaneous interpretation between languages, on my own, as a hobby.
I have a natural talent for learning languages, but I haven’t always been very disciplined about it.
Well, you’re right. Basically, anything that can’t be easily automated has seen its value rise enormously. Medical care, education, even haircuts are all more expensive in relative terms than they were forty years ago. Just about everything else, including food, is cheaper.
Within the category of “things” that can’t be automated, it is interesting to note that those professions which are most personal – clerics, psychologists/psychiatrists, physicians, house keepers, caregivers, etc. – are losing ground. The Catholic Church has had a particularly big problem attracting American males, and have resorted to importing priests from other parts of the world.
I think it’s important that those who deal with people’s deepest needs and problems are still needed. Doubtless, technological improvements can assist in many aspects of their job performance, but the most critical element is still the individual.
“resorted to importing priests from other parts of the world.”
Over fifty years ago my parish priest try to talk me into going into the priesthood. As this problem was going on then. He was from Ireland.
I was born and raised in south LA, a predominantly Catholic area. Even before we left this state in the 90s, this was becoming a problem. Priests were ministering to huge parishes. My point in raising this is to illustrate that technology can do wonderful things, but those matters of the heart and head require living, breathing human beings. Many of these professions that directly, personally serve people are struggling to find adequate numbers of qualified candidates. A computer can perform many diverse tasks, but it can’t hold your hand when you’ve lost a loved one. I hope technology will be used for good in our world while understanding the value and importance of human beings.
You can Google your way to the equivalent of a degree in programming anymore.
Tradework is doing really well.
30-40 years ago you became a plumber or electrician if you didn’t qualify/couldn’t afford to go to university. You could make a decent living. Today, I’ve got an old buddy who was making $160,000 as an electrician working in the oil patch in Alberta until last year.
Hes laid off now, and that also was a boom time so not totally apples to apples, but he’s now working as a “regular” electrician still making pretty good money, something like $60/hr
How are physicians “losing ground?”
There’s nothing all that surprising about the decline in the priesthood. To be really candid, that’s a pretty tough sell and people have lots of great options for careers and life. Also, should not ignore the fact that over the past forty or fifty years, the relative freedom and tolerance that homosexuals have enjoyed have made the priesthood considerably less attractive as an alternative.
I probably shouldn’t have focused on the Catholic Church, but it is what I know best. In talking to friends who are active in their Protestant church, they, too, acknowledge the difficulty of finding clergy who meet their needs and desires. The decline in religiosity towards a more secular nation is undoubtedly contributing to the lack of “pull” into religious service – even nuns – which, combined with the decline in church attendance, might will balance itself out.
I am intrigued by the suggestion of our new participant, Themosynaptic, that he actually got his insurance provider to stipulate to a domestic robot! So much for my concern about domestic jobs! I can’t say I think much of robots as presidential candidates….even with the ones we have now…not ready to go there (-;
@1mime Interestingly enough the number of self-described Pagans has sky rocketed in the past few years as an alternative to the increasingly disliked Abrahamic Religions among younger people. The future of religion will probably be deeply personal and individualistic (along the lines of, say, Buddhism or “spiritualism”) as the fundamentalists lose ground and even the Abrahamic Religions will have to strongly reform themselves along the lines of the Anglican Church to not collapse completely as the younger generations grow disillusioned with the homophobia, bigotry, agression, and general insanity that comes pre-packaged with religious fundamentalism.
Have no clue what’ll happen with Hinduism but it will probably be getting hurt as well (definetly the more conservatives varities) as India becomes better developed and more information/education becomes more prevalent.
I have no issue with moderate/non-authoritarian religious people, but the sooner the fundamentalists go away the better off we’ll all be.
Hinduism will probably adapt and adopt science, while preserving rituals.
As I understand it, there is no scripture that is universally accepted as the literal word of God(s).
As I see it, all the fights within hinduism appear to be cultural, rather than scriptural.
“there is no scripture that is universally accepted as the literal word of God(s)”
Try telling that to a fundamentalist!
“You can Google your way to the equivalent of a degree in programming anymore.”
I am an open source enthusiast. And occasionally write programs by using Google and books on programming for reference. The first language I learned was FORTRAN for the engineering degree I was working on about 40 years ago. If the opportunity had been available I might of made programming my career choice.
My career was in utility operations (which included laboratory analysis) and maintenance. Over the last 20 years more and more training has been internet based for industrial workers. This is a growing trend and is revolutionizing training as it is cheaper and people can learn at their own pace. If we are going to educate the world this is the only way it can be cheap enough for the masses of the world which include poorer US people.
As development is done with artificial intelligence surprising results are being seen. Many traditional white collar jobs can be replace by this new technology while many blue collar and technician jobs cannot. The key area is how much creativity does it take to do the job. Most of the trade and technician jobs depend on creativity as no job is ever the same and often problems have to be overcome by using a great deal of imagination and experience. They never really do the same job twice.
All of these trends are going to upset the current balance. Opportunity is going to be open to more and more people to compete as schooling becomes universal. And job worth is going to depend on being able to create new things or solve problems that do not take rote knowledge but creative problem solving often where no template exist. This change is going to effect white collar workers like book keepers, accountants, doctors, lawyers as most of what they do can be automated. Artist, writers, research scientist and other white collar occupations which take creativity I think will be OK.
I have read of the effort to write programs that write programs and programs that can write prose. So I wonder if even programmers will write themselves out of a job eventually. We are going to see more social unrest and it is not only going to be the white working class.
I think the key to tackling the technology versus biology conflict is through education, preferable the liberal arts. We should cultivate deep thinking, critical thinking, “macro” thinking among the general population if possible; otherwise we will end up with a select group of thinkers who might want to push their own agenda, and moreover, everyone should enjoy the privilege and the benefits that come from thinking deeply.
I know it’s easier said than done, plus a lot of people won’t have any interest in learning, but it doesn’t hurt to encourage it.
Especially in the classroom, Tutta.
Studying history would be helpful, because there you will find proof of our resilience, our ability to adapt to change over the centuries, even if the transition period is fraught with difficulty.
I’m also fascinated by the opposite of history– “future studies” – which seems to be a new, developing subject of study.
As a Political Science major working in a software company, I can vouch for this:
Whatever technology you learn in college will be obsolete in five years. The stuff I learned in Renaissance Art 314 I still use every day.
My favorite line from the Wash Post link:
“And the ability, like Abelard, to push forward, beyond received wisdom and practice and TO CREATE A NEW WORLD.”
This is what we are facing today — a new world.
Most enigmatic line from the article:
“Music is now mostly what we would call Physics.”
Lifer, you also had a few great English teachers somewhere along the way. Your grammar and sentence construction are excellent. You are able to take complex issues and present them in interesting, clear prose to a diverse audience. That is rare. Lawyers especially need strong communication skills. You have them in spades. Thank a teacher.
A technical education is all about the basics – maths, physics, engineering – none of which is anywhere near obsolete after decades
The liberal arts stuff is all very well but it is fluff in comparison and any well read person can easily pick it up
(unlike the technical stuff which is hard and requires assistance to learn)
Why, Duncan, those comments sounded rather elitist. Surely you can find a little place in your heart for those who hail from the right brain school and give us such interesting and entertaining creations like this:
As for earning a livelihood from right brain activity, they tell me that many in the field of entertainment pull down a rather substantial living….and many of them work with lots of left brain brilliant engineers to produce their glorious cinema, theater, music, art. It’s not an either or; it’s a lovely balance of both working separately and together to make this world a more fascinating place to live.
Viva la difference!
My technology degree fast tracked me into a software startup in 1987, but I needed to keep running to stay in the same place (insert Red Queen reference). My son has just started working at a CRISPR startup that he would never have got without his Bioinformatics degree – and he says he is also running just to keep up. This is the nature of the speed of technology.
As an aside, when I signed up for my long term healthcare insurance I got a written note that the money could be used to purchase a domestic robot (I hope not to need the insurance for 30+ years).
I believe within 25 years (and probably sooner) general AI will outperform humans, and it will be very difficult to control the technology.
Many people have asked if we could do better than this year’s selection of presidential candidates – perhaps we are looking in the wrong place?
I have been building applications and data warehouses for over 20 years, across multiple industries. My history degree has been essential in my success, providing big picture view, objectivity and empathy. We definitely need more! (Perhaps my only college regret is not taking my grammar more seriously, and for that, I apologize!)
The 538 blog tries to explain the GOP civil war. Interesting read, but nothing that has not been said here before. GOPlifer- are they stealing your material.
538 always is interesting, Turtles. You might appreciate this WaPo analysis about how the GOPe is mobilizing against Trump. Obviously, there are different opinions within the party about the wisdom of “trashing” a possible GOP presidential nominee.
““Republican donors are acting like the parents of teenage alcoholics,” Mair said. “They see all the signs of problems, but they don’t really want to admit and address the problem because that would entail them acknowledging that they didn’t do the right things along the way.”
““There is so much anti-Trump messaging out there, it’s flooded,” said Kellyanne Conway, president of Keep the Promise I, a pro-Cruz super PAC. “What could we say that isn’t out there?”
I think Republicans are going to have to be careful not to create sympathy for Trump. He’s not their “man”, but he is a Republican and he is working very hard to win under the GOP banner. There are many who feel that the GOPe are trying to have it both ways, and that they are going too far. One thing you have to admit about Trump – he’s a fighter and he has worked hard. Have respect for the effort if you can’t respect the man.
If anyone is interested in helping defeat Grassley, looks like he just got a legit opponent and the Daily Kos is passing around a hat.
Done. Thanks for the link, Rob. I meant to do this earlier but kept scrolling and the moment was lost. Of course, Grassley is the tip of the iceberg here – McConnell et al are the real boogymen, but it would send a message and keep the issue topmost.
Agreed Mine. Ibthink sending the message here is the crucial part, more important then the value of just winning a seat.
McConnel, Grassley et al are not inherently obstructionist. That is, its not some personallity defect that they can’t control which makes them obstructionist. They do it because in their calculations, its a net win politically. They’re wrong of course, and most Americans care less about ideological purity and more about government that works.
Hopefully a Grassley defeat will help that realization along.
“McConnell and Grassley are not inherently obstructionist”….
For over seven years, they’ve practiced the craft of obstructionism so well that I wonder if they remember how to actually do anything else? I realize it’s a base issue, but it’s also an establishment control. If the GOP base had been listening to their base all these years, Trump wouldn’t have gotten to the front of the stage. They haven’t so it has to be something more than the base…it’s THE DONOR base, not their rank and file “anybody but a Democrat” base. And, this donor base is what is going to have to have a come to jesus awakening, which they won’t until it isn’t working for them anymore. Remember, Wall St was big behind Obama in ’08. Not so much in ’12. The reason? He failed to give them more of what they had come to expect.
Lifer is spot on in his observation that the Republican Party will have to have a mid life crisis or they won’t change. I keep saying this because it’s true: why would the GOP change what’s been working for them? They haven’t needed the presidency even though they “want” the presidency. They can do pretty much what they want with control of Congress and SCOTUS – up until Scalia’s death. That threw a wrench into the works. No, the only hope for a rational, competitive, democratic process to be restored is for the GOP to lose badly enough that a two-term Dem President in combination with a majority Dem Senate (forget the House for another two terms) so that we can once again see concensus governing. Concensus that embraces the best tenets of both parties and allows government to function.
A few quarrels:
“our biology leaves us poorly adapted for life on Earth”
Actually, humans have adapted well to all versions of Earth, from hot climes of Africa to the much colder Artic.
Where we get in trouble on Earth is when we mess it up, i.e., pollute the air, water and soil.
“. . .we developed capitalism. As that cultural adaptation rapidly spread it has powered an explosion in technological innovation”
These days, innovation is overused, just another buzzword some members of the business class hope to claim.
Twitter, for example, much as I love using it, isn’t that different from a telegram in content. It has other useful attributes, but learning how to use them is more akin to reading a manual than innovation.
Salesforce, an app you’ve mentioned more than once, can be a fussy abomination to those who have to use it. That’s not innovation, either.
Even CRISPR, exciting as it is, is a lot like a dairy herd or a chicken flock: exploit the animal’s products without killing the animal. That fact that some researcher somewhere noticed how that bacteria’s immune system reacted to viruses is actually more interesting and truly a human technological advance: a human intellect observed and investigated, then figure out how to use it.
I feel we should temper our enthusiasm for things called technology. I actually blame early adopters – those thrilled by any techno gadget – for mistakes in cell phone administration and regulation, cable TV commercials, and lack of security on the internet. We should tamp down the giddiness and ask for more.
Personally, I try very hard to view the latest gizmos as tools, simply tools. Human are good at using tools.
I can honestly say that the stress-producing aspects of my life currently are the really loud and extremely bumpy neighborhood roads and the Katy Freeway I drive on each day. The solution to those stressors are political, not technical.
Well said. And if technology is stressful or provides too many interruptions that keep us from thinking deeply, there is an easy solution, because it’s within our control — turn it off, sell it, give it away, or recycle it. It’s a personal matter.
Poor infrastructure is not so easy to fix or avoid. It’s a political, societal issue, not so easy to control on our own.
Tutta, some of it we can control, but a lot we can’t. Technological progress is happening whether we like it or not, and it impacts so much of our life. Look around you at the gadgets that are NOT indispensible – mobile phones, computers, appliances. You do a great job of simplifying your life in this regard, and I salute you as this requires lots of personal discipline, but our society, and we within it, are pretty dependent on many of these devices and processes that are becoming technology driven. That obviously has good and bad points.
Give 1MIME the prize for the longest run-on sentence of the day! 45 words? Surely I can do better – and, I will. Pretty sad sentence structure….stream of conscious writing will get you into trouble.
My apology (-:
Mime, be thankful this is not Twitter.
I don’ use twitter therefore I’m not sure what you mean by your statement. Is it due to length? Guilty as charged. I seem to lack the skill or desire for brevity. It’s a fault. I kind of think things out as I write which is why you’ll find the 45-word sentences. I’ll keep trying (-:
I don’t use Twitter either, but it’s notorious for its 140 CHARACTER limit per thought.
Below my comment is a link, which I think makes for a great corollary to this blog post.
It discusses four possible directions that humanity can go as technology and automation increase abundance and decrease the need for human labor. I generally view two of the possible futures as “bad” with one being much worse than the other “bad” one, and two of the possible futures as “good”, with one being much better than the other “good” one.
My political views are more long term / future-oriented than most people, although unlike some, I realize that people who don’t quite see my way aren’t necessarily enemies, as much as near-term allies who will be, in the future, people I would consider political enemies…which is pretty much how history works in general, as today’s center-left liberal will be the next century’s staunch conservative. Forest for the trees, and all that.
That’s some pretty far out stuff. What do we do or not do next? Is there any clear path?
>] “How do we embrace these advances in a way that our biology can tolerate?”
We can rebuild ourselves. We have the technology. We can make ourselves smarter, stronger and in every way more powerful than we ever were before.
But, will we be nicer and kinder?
Speaking of technology and biology, I heard something cute today. Geeks don’t have “nanny’s” for the children, they have “nano’s” (-:
Have you seen this interesting study Lifer? It’s about how young people are getting far less out of the economy than they used to.
I think they aren’t accouting for some things, such as the reduction in the prices of goods and technological advancements, but they aren’t totally wrong either.
NPR has an interesting program on this morning about housing designed for millennials. ONe of the problems this age group face is credit scores. Their debt to income ratios are being dramatically impacted by student loan debt. They “want” to purchase but few can meet a 20% down payment or qualify for competitive loans. There is a need for a different kind of finance instrument to allow Millennials to use other financials as counterweights to their student debt so they can become nesters…..which the class overwhelmingly wants. The challenge for those who develop and market to this age group is helping them qualify, despite employment and potential. Shopping for a home after renting for years, many millennials become frustrated and bitter (Sanders?) that they are being locked out of housing despite having done all the “right” things. The one good thing is this group doesn’t seem to be attracted to “big”. They want “smart” and smaller which will help them with pricing.
Or the fact that no one really starts a productive career until they are almost 30, and almost none of those people who do start those careers will still have to work when they’re 55. Lots of variables in motion. The short of it is, this younger generation is the luckiest bunch of SOBs who ever lived.
I think (and hope) you’re right, but obviously something still needs to be done about student debts if we’re expected to go to college. It’s not like it was for my Dad or Grandfather’s generations where college was considered semi-optional, we really are told for our entire lives that if we don’t go to college we will end up working at Burger King (and not as the CEO either….)
(-: You could also see if Homer has gotten Trump’s email and obtained a position of high influence! You’d have an “in”, wouldn’t ya Griffin?
Honestly if I wanted to I could probably make some decent money by pandering to the current right-wing.
Step 1: Go to college while wearing a “TRUMP” hat.
Step 2: Record people getting upset with me (if I walk around long enough somebody will do something stupid, like attack or insult me)
Step 3: Send video to various conservative outlets and post it online, try to get interview with O’Reily/Hannity/AM radio hosts where I provide more “evidence” about how persecuted conservatives are and that Colleges are liberal brainwashing institutions.
Step 4: Write book on this and flog it on said shows and speaking tours.
I call it “The Ben Shapiro Method”. Gets you a decent career everytime.
*Raises hand* I can attest to that. 🙂
Lifer asks: “How do we embrace these advances in a way that our biology can tolerate?”
I would say that we should be realistic about technology and view it neither as the solution to all society’s problems, nor as society’s downfall; to never lose sight of the importance of human and social capital; to use technology as a simple tool which can make some aspects of life easier; instead of seeing technology as a threat to our livelihood, see it as the key to a new form of livelihood, or even see it as a tool that might reduce our need for what we have always considered to be our “livelihood.” Could technology lower the amount of basic income/employment required to live a decent life?
Still, I think it makes sense to be skeptical of advances/progress/technology, to step back and take a deep breath. To let oneself be carried away with something under the guise of “progress,” simply because it’s newer, shows a lack of awareness of the total picture, of all the potential consequences and pitfalls. It’s all to easy to get caught up in the excitement, and yes, in the consumerism that usually accompanies technology.
Like the Amish, eh, English?
Beautifully said, Tutta. I read your reply more than once and each time was impressed. As to your question, yes I think technology can impact basic sustainable income needs by reducing costs through greater efficiency. Whether it is through sustainable construction that reduces utility expenses, or battery/electric cars which will cost less to operate than fossil fuels and their attendant maintenance expenses, or health care and so on. What I don’t see technology impacting, and I think you totally get this, are human relationships. If anything, this may be the weak element in technological advancement. And, it’s a powerful price to pay for convenience and speed.
Lifer, I was struck by your paragraphs of “we experience (or not)”. One example in particular intrigued me: “We do not experience politics.” I’m having a hard time with that one because I feel we do experience politics. In your face so. Its effects impact our daily lives, concretely. I assume the point you are making that I am not getting adequately, is that these are esoteric paradigms that are so much bigger than our individual ability to control that we feel helpless to understand or change them. What did I miss?
Beautifully written, deeply thought. I will need to read it again in order to appreciate all the nuances.
I understood Chris to mean that unlike you, most of the population doesn’t understand the effect of politics on our day-to-day lives, which is why so many people don’t vote. They don’t see the connection between the two. “Politics” is a vague concept.
‘Politics’ is an aggregate. We vote, we put up yard signs, we talk to neighbors about issues, but we don’t individually *experience* the aggregate outcome in ways we generally recognize except in rare circumstances (Flint). To comprehend politics we need myths, narratives, archetypes, symbols.
It’s like the difference between a health care system and my broken arm. I only directly experience one of them. The other one I can only grasp symbolically. My ability to understand that my arm is broken is very high. My ability to understand the difference between a high-deductible HMO and a flex spending plan requires me to leverage education, symbolic reasoning, and data I do not store in my own head. Not everyone will be able to do that at a level of fidelity to reality.
That’s really what we’re talking about when we discuss our relative capacity to understand these aggregates – to what degree are we able to encapsulate them in a way that retains their fidelity to some external reality. Difficult stuff. Doing it well requires the use of a whole range of tools developed through our cultural and technological evolution, not just our biology.
Well, some of us see “government” as paternalistic, a “father” figure; or as an intrusive busybody, concepts we can relate to.
And we make technology more acceptable by assigning it human names and human traits.
Human existence has devolved to a daily editing process….what we can understand, what we allow, what we reject. So many choices. It’s both a blessing and a curse. As one of your older blog followers, I love what technology offers in broadening my world while lamenting the competition with simpler pleasures. When there are so many choices, our days are filled with a million little decision leaving little time to simply reflect in a world that is dashing by. After all, we can’t be experts at “everything”, even as the opportunity is close by. There simply isn’t time. And, time, I submit, is the commodity that holds the most value. It is finite.
Mime, and, biologically speaking, I literally get a headache from being faced with so many choices.
Also, when I walk into a Best Buy, surrounded by all that technology, I feel physically sick. Technology has that effect on me.
And they used to tell us dementia could be a blessing….getting older…no need to keep all that “stuff” in your head (-:
IOW, one’s capacity to understand aggregates just uses up all the grey stuff.
“My ability to understand the difference between a high-deductible HMO and a flex spending plan requires me to leverage education, symbolic reasoning, and data I do not store in my own head. Not everyone will be able to do that at a level of fidelity to reality.”
Most people cannot do that.
And farther up the reason tree is the ability to imagine things that did not exist or things that can only be seen and understood through complex manipulation of symbols and mathematics. Far fewer people can do that. So as our culture and technology move towards those abilities having the most value with everything else being devalued what do the vast majority of the rest of the people do? Your idea of a minimal universal income in some form will have to come. And people will have to find something satisfying to do with their time. Until things reach a new balance we will have social unrest. Trump and Sanders are probability not an interlude. But are a symptom of social unrest which will continue for a while.
***“My ability to understand the difference between a high-deductible HMO and a flex spending plan requires me to leverage education, symbolic reasoning, and data I do not store in my own head. Not everyone will be able to do that at a level of fidelity to reality.”***
I can’t do it either, not even with a good quality pencil and a calculator. I’m starting to recognize that we’re asking a little too much of ourselves and our peers with the way we’ve organized our civilization.
Yes, we are asking too much of people, especially older people, who as a group rival the Millennials in numbers. The challenges older people face in navigating the complexities that our government and social structures have imposed, in addition to our technologically-driven world, can be overwhelming.
As technology advances and more of our life’s appliances, controls, and processes are converted to digital, wireless and whatever is next, simply learning how to operate the the maze is challenging.
I appreciate this wonderful world around me even as I face challenges in functioning within it. And, I do miss the simplicity of yesteryear while being very excited about all the new changes. The real challenge is going to be the transition process – whether it is from fossil fuel to new forms of sustainable energy, electric or battery powered vehicles, smart homes and so much more. During the transition, it will be critical that as progress is made, real people will not be left behind.
To simplify, it’s why all of us who like to think we have a pretty good handle on the political process have been wrong about Donald Trump. Hopefully, that pendulum will swing back but my fear is his alternative.
Everything is attenuated and people think the life they lead now is the ‘right’ life. Now is the way it should be.
We tied health insurance to employment, for good reasons 60/70 years ago. It seems the way it should be, you work for money to acquire things, business gets a tax break, you don’t have to worry about a choice which could be overwhelming, especially the more we balkanize the risk pool.
Our children still get summers off to go work on the farm, among other things about modern life we don’t model or concern ourselves with in education.
Count me in with some iteration of year round school….possibly following the European model. Why waste expensive facilities, and why not “capitalize” on the opportunity to help kids learn more in a given time span? The year round concept could do some things differently – use some part of the time for special interest learning programs that the KIDS want, expose them to a career, or, need (remediation, reinforcement, etc.). There is so much more that can be done in public education but it will take money and, most important, public education will have to become a priority. Business ought to be all over this and parents should demand it.
This off topic, but Chris I respect your opinion on this topic. I have heard that the March 15th Republican primaries will basically decide whether they are going to a contested/brokered convention. Would you agree with that, and if so, what should we look for to determine that? For example, if Ohio goes Kasich, would that seal the deal?
Trump, who is ahead in the delegate count, needs to win 55% of the as-yet-unassigned delegates to have a majority. Another 554 are to be assigned between now and March 15. If Rubio and Kasich stay in until then, which seems likely, it’s hard to see either Cruz or Trump getting a majority unless one of them sweeps the big winner-take-all states on the 15th. That’s not going to happen. For Rubio and Kasich, their only hope is a brokered primary, the chances of which go up if they stay in.
If Trump wins both FL and OH, then he needs to take 48% of the delegates from the remaining contests (including the ones on those days) in order to earn a delegate majority. That is possible, though very difficult at the present rate. It probably won’t happen.
If he loses both states then we face a situation where no one has a realistic shot at a delegate majority. After such a loss, Trump would need to win 60% of the remaining delegates. Since the only people who could beat him in OH and FL are Kasich and Rubio respectively, it means deadlock.
If we get the most likely outcome, Trump winning FL and losing OH, then Trump would need roughly 54% of the remaining delegates. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.
Chances are that if anyone beats Trump in OH or FL we get deadlock. Trump wins both of those states and a delegate win is possible, but still a stretch.
Thank you Chris for explaining this so clearly.
I know you said in an earlier post Chris that you thought a brokered convention would favor Cruz because of the quality of his delegates compared to Trumps and because if they nominated Cruz they might keep at bay a revolt from the right.
A lot of people have talked about Ryan, Romney or Kasich as well. I would think Ryan over Romney again because it might hold off a revolt from the right. What are your thoughts on those three if Cruz wouldn’t get it?
First regarding Cruz.
This game is being played on two boards. On one board the goal is to stop Trump from getting enough delegates to end the race. Then there’s the other board.
Starting in a few weeks states will start the process of selecting delegates. Whoever those delegates may be, they might be bound to a candidate on a first ballot (more than one ballot in a couple of states), but almost none of these delegates are selected by the candidates (except in IL and one or two other places). They are selected via county and state conventions.
So the second game is to get as many of your people placed as delegates as you possibly can. That takes a massive organization, thousands of well disciplined people who are working for you when you aren’t around. Cruz has a heavy advantage here.
Image that a first ballot fails and the delegates are turned loose. What if 65% of the delegates are deeply tied to Ted Cruz. Will they care about the consequences of tipping the nomination against Trump? Probably not, since the voice in their head is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ loves Ted Cruz.
By the end of next month we should have some hints about whether that strategy is working.
As for Kasich, I’m pretty sure he’s nothing but cannon fodder. He has no real following and he’ll have little support at the convention. If Cruz fails to pack the convention with his people, then it seems like the delegates will be pressed to select someone who wasn’t just rejected by primary voters.
That brings us back to Romney or Ryan as you point out. Or maybe someone more obscure who people don’t know/hate yet. These scenarios are kind of fun, but the process will be ugly as hell.
In listening to Ben Ginsberg speak on the state level delegate process, I would expect that anyone who is in second place – which logically is Cruz – will have GOP Establishment assistance in working that process. They will punt on the first round, for appearance sake, then the delegates they’ve convinced to support their candidate will vote in the second/third rounds as requested, in effect, defeating the popular primary winner by the delegate process.
He made a very reasoned, clear case for how this could occur, and will occur unless Trump pulls off big wins in FL, OH or MI and a couple of other contested big states. Then Trump has met the minimum delegate threshold and the convention accepts him or dissolves into the chaos of a brokered convention and possibly the “sleeper” candidate emerges.
I would love to be a little bird on Ginsberg’s shoulder for the next few months…maybe a drone insect would do the trick. (Hmm, maybe someone in the DNC should be thinking along these lines (-: Some heavy duty scheming must be going on trying to anticipate every possible scenario. It seems to me that there is no situation where Donald Trump concedes if he’s close, so Cruz would have to come into the convention with enough delegates to claim the nomination, or take the prize in the state delegate process.
My concerns about Cruz are well articulated so let me simply say that I have more concerns about him as the Republican nominee than any other candidate – including Trump, and that is saying a lot. I wish I could see Hillary beating Cruz, but I don’t. The reason being, by that point, the Republican base will have consolidated around their nominee because there is simply too much at stake to not get behind him and win. The fallback could be the “ghost” candidate – Romney or Paul or whoever. I still think there would be hell to pay from Trump’s base, but it is a calculated gamble that the party seems willing to take to have a shot at the triple crown.
Lifer, as a precinct chairman, are you a delegate?
Thanks again Chris and 1mime. You both have very smart ideas.
(-: Happy to have you on board, Doug.
Who delegates break for is one thing, but if nobody gets a majority and the nominee is chosen in the back rooms, how likely is it that Trump voters eagerly support Cruz (or whomever)? Or that Cruz voters back Trump? Some largish voting block is going to feel disenfranchised and this does not make for enthusiastic voters come November.
In general, the enthusiasm for any of these candidates is tepid. Trump’s best numbers are 49%, in Massachusetts, a state that won’t vote GOP in November no matter who the nominee is. Cruz’s is 48% in Kansas, a state that will vote GOP no matter who the nominee is. Between them, they have only a handful of states in which they’ve gone over 40%. Virginia is the only state that can reasonably considered a swing state (of any consequence). Trump won this with 34%, with Rubio nipping at his heels and Cruz a distant third. How do either of these guys flip Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Missouri? Answer: they don’t.
JG, I think you are missing the point here. The GOP E. doesn’t CARE about Trump’s followers – They are expendable for a greater goal which is: capturing the 3 branches of government. Every vote/every delegate will be parsed and they are going all in on their efforts to attain their goal. Listening to Ben Ginsberg explain how this could be done was very educational to me, and I follow politics pretty closely. These people work deep within the bowels of the party and they know how to twist arms. Lifer knows this and I’m certain could share some pretty amazing stories about what goes on in the shadows of politics. People like us could never imagine or understand the lengths some will go to, to win. We’re too reasonable and rational. We are also too naive even though we are deeply interested and concerned. It just is way above our political pay grade.
All of the hard work will be done at the state level. By the time the convention is held, they will know exactly where they stand. Of course, you are correct, and as Ginsberg noted, errant things have happened in politics that skew the best plans. The goal is simple for the GOP: win at any cost in any way that gets the job done. Full stop.
Trump is also aware of what the E. is planning. Ginsberg said as much, and I expect Trump to fight for the win he’s so far earned.
BTW, on CNBC this morning, Jim Kramer made an interesting comment about Michigan’s vote outcome. They were discussing Trump’s slap down of Japan over tariffs on vehicles, and his colleagues thought he had erred. Kramer said that Trump had the pulse of the car industry leadership perfectly. They won’t say it out loud, but they are absolutely in favor of placing a big fat tariff on Japanese auto imports. Kramer felt that this could really help Trump in the primary if the industry leadership quietly got behind Trump on this issue, and again in the general, if he is the nominee.
Pays to listen to smart people.
Exactly how important have ‘principles’ been in human advancement?
“Principles,” as in values and conscientiousness?
In completely practical terms, being overly “principled” can hold us back and keep us from taking chances. On the other hand, being “principled” can be the practical thing to do if it helps keep the peace.
Political principles-whenever someone tells you whatever they think they can’t compromise.
Sticking to one’s principles (aka “stubbornness”) can be useful if it accomplishes something beneficial, as in the case of Rosa Parks. What if she had compromised?
I guess it’s not sticking to one’s principles and refusing to compromise in and of itself that’s important. It’s the ultimate goal that’s important. If it’s about sticking to one’s principles OR compromising, then the road to choose is the one that is most beneficial. But beneficial to whom? That’s another question. To society at large? Not really, because where does that leave the minority group? Or the individual?
The problem with NOT compromising is that it’s an all-or-nothing approach, so you run the risk of accomplishing nothing at all, whereas by compromising you might get a little bit of what you are striving for, which is better than nothing, and if you move gradually and incrementally, eventually you may reach your ultimate goal. OR, moving gradually and incrementally is not acceptable in certain situations, and you need to take drastic action.
In what meaningful way is life ‘worse’ now than before? Everyone who tells me what is worse usually tell me how some principle they value is no longer respected. Some are trivial, my freedom to live my individual life with as much risk as I desire. I’m as guilty as others, I spend too little time living and too much time observing.
I would say life is better than before. I love to waste time complaining about short attention spans and everyone being glued to their devices (aka “observing”) when I should just mind my own business (aka “living”).
“More specifically, why do we find it so difficult to recognize how much life has improved over such a short timespan?”
Because our principles are very often violated by the freedom more people have to make decisions for themselves. It does cut both ways, people are free to acquire the kind of firearms that Genghis Khan could only dream about, women are free to completely control their reproductive system without any male interference.
My very first thought after reading that question was that we have a tendency to focus on the negative, to see how life has gotten worse, than to focus on how it’s improved.
This is a great post. I just finished Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies. While it was useful to read his book I thought the general theme was wrong. He proposes that it is the complexity of economies which pushes prices ever higher. I think it is far more obvious that it is the limitations of our political ability to make good decisions. Population grows, and we need ever so much complex decision making. Cultures grow, and most often it is political and not economic stress that collapses them. I do realize that economy and policy are complexly interrelated.
I do wonder if the very technology that has brought about so much improvement in our daily lives and in society at large has eroded our ability for deep thinking, so that we are unable to see the big picture, and we see only what is before us at any given time.
I would give that a big YES.
Welcome back, GG! WHERE on EARTH have you BEEN?? 🙂
A friend working on her 300-page manuscript recently completed a month-long residency at an artist’s retreat. Policy limited phone use. No knocking on other residents’ doors unless invited.
She said she loved how the experience deepened her thinking about how she is revising her book.
She said she was too flittery and worked in a disjointed fashion before the retreat. Now she sounded so centered and thoughtful.
I want some of that.
Chris’s best post ever on this blog, and the best we can come up with is the flavor of Crayola Crayons??
The possible replies to the blog topic are so varied and so deep our brains can’t handle it, so all we can come up with is trivialities.
I just need time to come up with something befitting of the blog topic.
I’m sorry, Tutt, I couldn’t help myself. To make up for it, here’s something more serious. Keynes wrote “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” in 1930 on exactly Chris’s topic. Basically, what are we going to do when we have solved what he calls “the economic problem,” the struggle for our daily bread – which had always been the most pressing problem of the human race. He says (of 2030, or thereabouts) “Thus for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem – how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeable and well.”
http://www.econ.yale.edu/smith/econ116a/keynes1.pdf. Part II of this short essay is particularly interesting. More:
“We shall honour those who can teach us how to pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well, the delightful people who are capable of taking direct enjoyment in things, the lillies of the field who toil not, neither do they spin. But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair…Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.”
Of course, not all classes will have leisure time….Will we revert to “no” lawns, artificial residential turf? Houses that “clean” themselves? No more need for roads and bridges?
Food that prepares itself, or, “horrors” we cook ourselves? What of these people?
Keynes is talking my talk (-:
Don’t know if you receive The Weekly Sift, a liberal blogger, but his piece today referenced a book that sounds interesting and I was wondering if you were familiar with it.
“Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics”, By Richard H. Thaler (also wrote “Nudge”)
Here’s the opening paragraph: “Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are human predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.”
Here’s a link to a synopsis, fyi. http://www.semcoop.com/book/9780393080940
Mosler, have you been hearing anything about a quiet effort to repatriate offshore profits? Bill Moyers has a pretty scathing article on this warning that it is flying under the election radar.
What to say about offshore retained profits… The simple solution is to quit taxing corporations, and just tax people when wages or dividends are paid. Of course, we all realize that the simpler the tax code is, the harder it is to game the system…so that’ll never fly.
Theoretically, retained earnings are not a problem. It’s just money, and the Government can print more. If existing money is not being spent, it won’t cause inflation. It also won’t cause employment, but the additional money we could print and spend would replace the retained earnings for employment purposes. Given that I see no public benefit from an amnesty, why give favorable tax treatment to people who don’t seem to need it? Let them sit on their money, if it makes them happy.
Agree. Further, if they decide to do so, which I also feel is a mistake under the plan under discussion, the deal should encompass removal of all the loopholes they have been using to tax advantage their companies and repatriation rates higher as well. No free passes for corporations that have been gaming the system. As far as I am concerned, let them stew in the pot they chose. Sooner or later, they will need the U.S. more than the U.S. needs their off-shored money. Their investments abroad may not be profitable enough to park that money offside forever.
Absolutely. Elimination of corporate taxes should only be done along with elimination of breaks for dividends and capital gains, and other breaks like carried interest and stepped-up-basis.
The early morning CNBC pundits also brought up “carried interest”. Their comment asserted that this is not widespread. Well, then the constituency “for” it is small and privileged. Eliminate it while pursuing real tax reform.
Great post. Any thoughts on the transhumanist party?
You know what hasn’t changed since we were little? Crayons! Seriously, same box, same colors, heck, they even taste the same!
Crayons are an acquired taste.
The flavor of crayons was always so disappointing. Beautiful delicious colors that disappoint. Still, it beats PlayDoh
As a guy with two three year olds and a one year old, PlayDoh sucks. I remember playing with PlayDoh, so I was the idiot who bought their first sets of PlayDoh.
PlayDoh gets everywhere. Small pieces of PlayDoh get onto carpet, then little feet step on the PlayDoh. So, PlayDoh goes outside, and then for days there are small pieces of dried PlayDoh all over the patio. Also, the multiple containers of PlayDoh with all the different colors soon become multiple containers of purple PlayDoh as all the colors get mixed together. PlayDoh also has a distinctive smell that lingers on hands, tables, carpets, children in general.
PlayDoh is bad. Do not buy PlayDoh (or don’t have children).
I’m sorry…what were we talking about?
HT – Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Homer, you are such a good dad. I admire your parenting skills.
If you would like to further enrich your children’s environment, may I suggest a deluxe set of junior band instruments? Studies have shown that playing an instrument increases brain cell growth and increases neural connections.
It would be cruel to deny your sons this opportunity. (Make sure to get a set that has drums, cymbals and horns – lots of horns.)
Homer, I had forgotten that you and your wife have young twins. I have a book recommendation for you both – “Four Seasons in Rome”, by Anthony Doerr, the author of current best seller “All the Light We Cannot See”. It is the cutest, loveliest memoir of parents of twins (their first children) who travel to Rome at the ripe age of one month on a year’s writer’s sabatical to Rome. The challenges they face not only with the twins but in a country whose language they don’t speak, and a geography they don’t know, is fun. You will appreciate their sense of humor and many of the challenges they faced….Mostly, staying awake. Since Doerr is such a fine writer, his descriptions of Italy, as experienced with one kid on his back and another on his hip, and all manner of stored accouterments, will bring back fond memories, I’m sure. Check it out. Short (203 pp), simply a delightful read.
Another recommendation is a more serious book for parents of “younguns” that is designed for parents of pre-school children – just in time to save you from disaster! It’s entitled: “The Importance of Being Little”, by Harvard early childhood professor, Erika Cristaka. Believe me when I say, she thinks outside the box. I ordered it (grandchildren) after hearing the author interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. Here’s a teaser link to that interview.
Obj…my kids and wife might have a different take on my parenting skills. They are definitely momma’s boys who believe she is a goddess (they are not necessarily wrong), and I’m just the guy who hangs around a lot.
We did experience our first rodeo trip yesterday to do pony rides, see a chick actually hatching from an egg (very cool), seeing piglets born (kind of bloody and mercifully the crowd was too big for the boys to see it), horses pooping (big hit with the boys), and various carnival rides (as I’m hauling my middle aged butt up cargo nets and down slides as the “accompanying adult” for the three year olds’ rides). We also had our first train ride on the metro. All in all, a big hit with the boys, and then we all went to the driving range to hit balls (the one-year old is likely to be the best athlete of the gang).
Obj…your comment about loud musical instruments was somewhat in jest, but I am completely devoid of all musical ability. I cannot play any instrument, sing, hold a tune, keep a rhythm, dance, draw, paint, or sculpt. I am instantly jealous of anyone who has any artistic ability. So, the boys do have drums, a keyboard, lots of paints, we listen to lots of music, and we sing (poorly) lots of songs.
The toys that drive me the most insane are the 100-piece toys, “Hey, here’s a container of buttons of various shapes and sizes you can put together to make other shapes” or, “Here is a set of 74 miniature dinosaurs”. People who give those gifts are evil.
One of our guys has a fairly good ear for things, likes to sing, likes to dance around, and is a more verbal learner, so hopefully at least one of them gets some artistic ability. Since I have no skills in those areas, I have told my wife that we will torture them for at least a short term and make them take different music classes to see if something excites them. My wife and I argue about this, but I will at some point force all the boys to take dance classes. Boys who can dance are never lacking for partners. I tried to be the cool guy who was above dancing (I can sway back and forth to a slow song), but I was always very jealous of guys who could make their way around a dance floor.
I’ve not read the “The Importance of Being Little” but it sounds like the kind of thing I would like. I feel like I do too much of “Back in my day…”, but we used to just go play and figure out things to do. I think there is a beauty to that (and some cognitive advantages).
We do have flash cards and all the things parents now have (I made an elaborate Powerpoint deck of words for them to learn – and we still use it today as we work on spelling), but I think the boys have more fun (and probably learn as much – just differently) with “hey guys, here’s a bucket, a water hose, an egg carton, two pieces of wood, and a shovel, go play in the sandbox”.
Raising kids is a mind-screwing thing. You want to provide every opportunity for them to grow up a success, but I’m moderately convinced that at least 75% of it won’t matter.
The boys have the advantage of having a mom that is whip smart and highly motivated. Their grandpa is a musician/engineer/surgeon. I am blessed with the ability to talk in front of a crowd. They have moderately decent genes to do what they want to do.
I’m just trying to figure out a way for them to grow up to not be an ass. I want them to be nice to waitresses and waiters, to be curious about and interested in other people, and not be mean to people.
Right now, I’m waiting patiently for the one-year old to get big enough to just beat the s#*t out of the three year old that regularly torments him. No amount of “stop doing that to your little brother” works, and although the twins are big guys, the youngest one is tracking to be even bigger, and he’s more coordinated. At some point, he’s just going to haul off and deck his big brother, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to stifle the laugh I will have when it happens. I have no doubt I’m going to say, “See, I told you this would eventually happen.”
Just a little question in response to your dazzling soliloquy (-; just who suggested going out to the driving range? Must be some really short clubs around your house!
Suggest to your wife that she listen to the interview of the book “Importance of Being Little” while you go sit on the porch with a beer and try not to crack up while reading “The Four Seasons in Rome”. I’m telling you, this couple had an experience…..and, she nursed the twins! Doerr said he felt like he never slept, and he wasn’t the one with the built in bottles.
Legos are a gift from the devil (-:
Mime, for the golf, it was actually one of the boys who suggested it.
We asked them of they wanted to go to the park, and one of them said, “The one by the golf?” and when I heard that, boom, I was running up the stairs, changing into a golf shirt, and bringing down their golf shirts.
Much the chagrin of some of the older folks at my club, the club has moved to a more family-inclusive environment, so they re-did the pool and added kid-friendly features and put in a little playground area with swings. While we were there yesterday, there were three other kids under the age of 5 and another four kids under the age of 10 on the driving range and putting green.
I think we all try to keep the kids quiet, but it certainly is at least a slightly different environment when the kids are there. It is louder if nothing else. Rather than quietly hitting balls and cussing under my breath because I’m not hitting well, I hit one ball and then tell three little kids how good they are hitting the ball or helping them get it on the tee. We have to be much more distracting than just having an bunch of adults there.
The club realized they will struggle to stay in business if they only target retired white guys as members.
Really, Homer! Golf shirts at ages 1 and 3?! Even Tiger Woods waited until he was 4! And, this golf club for old White men….ladies allowed? Or, just loud, little kids with harried dads? I will say that our fifteen year old golf whiz didn’t start until he was 4, and I’ve been worried he would burn out. So far, he’s going strong, so maybe you’ve got the new normal going there!
The wacky PC liberal in me that everyone hates is happy Crayons saw the light on “flesh” as a beige color, so not completely unchanged.
Well, for the schoolmarm in me, Bernie Sanders just went down half a notch for saying in the debate last night that he was “literally shattered” over the water situation in Flint. As far as I can tell he is still intact.
However, he is a sweetie, so he loses only half a notch. Had it been Trump who misused the word “literally,” I would have given him a failing grade.
Excellent blog entry. This is one of the best, if not THE best I’ve read on this site.
… but is it literally one of the best? 🙂
No, just figuratively. 🙂
Rats! I was hoping for literally literally.
Rats? Literally? How many rats?
We’re seeing many splits on the left – and this debate has only exaggerated it.
And that’s partly because Sanders is unpolished and doesn’t walk on eggshells. And partly because Clinton is this year’s Mitt Romney.
And mind you, this isn’t a clear center – center left distinction either.
Two things that Sanders is in trouble for because he isn’t left wing enough.
The first that stuck out to me was the bit where Clinton tried to interrupt Sanders and Sanders shut down the interruption with “Excuse me, I’m talking. Let me tell my story and you tell yours”. I didn’t think much of this as I thought it was deserved, but apparently I’m wrong and twitterosphere tells me that this is the the most sexist thing ever.
The gun issue is another where Sanders isn’t for outright banning guns, and doesn’t think gun manufacturers should be liable for how people use their products. And that’s the problem – people want guns to be banned and making manufacturers liable is seen as an easy way to do it without breaking Constitution – just like the GOP has managed to do with abortion in the South (yay, John Oliver!).
Oh, and the playful jab about the Republican Candidates in the last debate and the mentally ill. If I heard that in a casual conversation, I’d laugh about it – and mind you, I do think the mentally ill most definitely need more help. But again, Sanders is the most inhumane insensitive creature in the world. And this, is why people are pissed off about the PC police. I don’t think anyone really thinks Sanders doesn’t care about the mentally ill, but even the slightest deviation from the orthodoxy in wording the most innocuous of political jabs is unforgivable.
Clinton on the other hand, took undeserved flak for her answer on fracking. Global warming extremists (and yes, I will use that phrase) would like to ban all hydrocarbons apparently – and that’s not reasonable. “Moving away from” is not equal to BAN BAN BAN, nor is it the best way to do things.
And she also did a horrible job of sticking with her support of trade agreements. Seriously – there’s an easy and effective case to be made for why trade agreements have been a net positive, but she’s doing the Clinton/Romney triangulation – and that’s beginning to not work in the age of the internet.
Clinton could have made an amazing case here, but she failed horribly and I literally have zero idea on where she stands on many issues at this point.
What we’re seeing is, partly, a split between the Bill Maher liberals and the Jezebel liberals.
It’s also partly a split between the economically center and center-right Dems and the leftist Dems.
Personally, I’m socially more of a Bill Maher liberal, and economically more center right, and that makes treat both candidates with some hesitation.
Clinton is possibly the most obviously visible symptom of the Patronage politics that the Dems do, and Sanders would apply a bandaid on a giant bleeding gash and call it a job well done.
Seriously more reasonable GOP, I.e. Lifer’s fantasy GOP could so easily steal me right now, and from what I’m seeing, many others too…but I guess that’s a non starter in the horribly broken two-party system…
Nobody is saying that we need an effective welfare state to deal with the worst side effects of globalization, but that globalization and free trade are good things in and of themselves – and I mean nobody, on either side of the aisle. Everyone is trying out different variations of 20th century solutions.
I think we need to kidnap Clinton and Sanders and have the mind control geeks suck out some of Clinton’s strengths – discipline, experience, organization, commitment and infuse Sanders brain. Or, we could do the reverse, suck out Sanders strengths – passion, clarity of thought and expression, consistency, personal appeal – and infuse Clinton.
Where oh where is the Clinton/Sanders combination clone? It ain’t on the other side….So, you’re right back where you started from – picking the best of the two (-;
For all it’s complexity and ability, the human brain really is a haphazard, jury-rigged construct.
Indeed. But what we see in the real world is that these changes affect different people in different ways, the burdens and benefits distributed unevenly. That’s something that has to be accounted for or socialmproblems arise.