30.11.20

BEARS WEEK ENDS PROPERLY.

The Chicago Bear quarterback who has recorded the most touchdown passes against Green Bay Packers defenses is Sid Luckman, with sixteen.  (Go ahead, look it up.)  On the corresponding Packers list, Bart Starr recorded sixteen, and he is third on that list.  Aaron Rodgers, who has a Bart Starr award, recorded four touchdown passes last night alone, and he's still chasing Brett Favre.

The Monsters of the Midway ... mostly weren't monstrous.
The Chicago Bears have a vaunted defensive line, one of the NFL’s best. That defensive front is the franchise’s headliner. With the mess of a quarterback situation in Chicago, an embarrassment that only gets worse with each Mitch Trubisky snap, the defensive front is asked to keep the Bears competitive.
Mitch Trubisky, recall, was drafted ahead of a few other collegians you might have heard of. Ordinarily, though, nobody second-guesses Bear defenses.
[Packer head coach] Matt LaFleur had flexibility. Any play the Packers head coach wanted to call, he didn’t think twice. LaFleur’s offense isn’t short on superstars. Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer. [Running back Aaron] Jones is a Pro Bowl talent. Davante Adams is perhaps the NFL’s best wide receiver.

In this offense, during this 41-25 drubbing of a Bears defense that hadn’t allowed that many points in four years, the Packers' offensive line took a backseat to nobody.

“Our line just did everything that we needed them to do,” LaFleur said. “It makes it a lot easier. No doubt about it. When you have your whole playbook open, and you can call plays that are complementary, and then we're getting big yards in the run game. … I thought they did a fantastic job. It starts up front. We knew that controlling the line of scrimmage against one of the better front sevens in the National Football League was going to be critical.
Let's pause for a musical interlude.


Perhaps we can quantify the suckitude.
The chasm between the Packers and Bears can be seen throughout most of their rosters. It starts with quarterback, where the gap between Rodgers and Trubisky is the gap between an aircraft carrier and tugboat. The one matchup that's supposed to favor the Bears is in the trenches.

The Packers owned that matchup all four quarters. What the offensive line did Sunday night does not happen to this Bears defensive front. That star defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was unavailable, inactive because of a hamstring injury, certainly did not help the Bears defense. The Packers offensive line was so overpowering, Hicks' presence might not have made much difference.
A coach you might have heard of stressed blocking and tackling, and one of his successors had to learn to stress those skills.

In Chicago, they're starting to think about the succession.  "The Bears have been absolutely awful on offense the last two seasons, and it’s hard to see an alleged offensive guru keeping his job when they start cleaning up this mess at the end of the season."  Quarterback controversies are nothing new in Chicago, but Sun-Times sports reporter Patrick Finley is being more aggressive than any CNN reporter will be toward Joe Biden.  "For perhaps the final time, Trubisky’s mortal sins were upchucked onto the about-to-be-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for all the NFL to see. Comparing him to Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson — two quarterbacks available when Ryan Pace traded up to draft Trubisky four years ago — almost feels cruel."  There has already been a purge in Detroit.  Will something similar be coming in Chicago?
Four years after being drafted, Trubisky turns the ball over as though he doesn’t know better. Is it damning of [general manager Ryan] Pace, who picked him? Or of head coach Matt Nagy, who has watched Trubisky get worse for each of the last three years? Or is Trubisky just what some feared the day he was drafted: a great athlete who is unnatural when he’s on the field?

Yes, yes and yes.
The Packers still have a game with the Bears, in Chicago to end the regular season. The Bears are likely to be a better that day.

GOVERNOR PRITZKER TRAILS BY 6,201.

The geographic area and population of Illinois are both similar to those in Sweden, and there are similarities of the Chicago and Stockholm metropolitan areas.  But  Springfield politicians are hazardous to your health.  Governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Lake Geneva) continues to micromanage and destroy local businesses.

A service called Worldometers has been keeping track of coronavirus infections and deaths, disaggregated in a number of ways.

The latest report from Sweden counts 243,129 infections and 6,681 deaths.

The latest report from Illinois counts 720,114 infections and 12,882 deaths.

The same people who dunked on Florida for careless reopening might be ignoring the carnage in Illinois.
Last week, Illinois reported 15,415 cases in a single day, more than Florida ever did in a single day. This is despite Illinois' population being 40% lower.

Many of you probably did not know the dire situation in Illinois. That's because no mainstream media chose to report it.
Last week, the governor trailed by 5,706.

29.11.20

I. ADVENT.



The Christmas story begins with Caesar Augstus conducting a census.  Luke 2:1 mentions "all the world," something that might have come as a surprise to the Chinese emperor, or whatever chieftan ruled over the Mississippian tribes.

Was it any accident, dear reader, that a religious origin story would coincide with an attempt by a temporal leader to assert universal sovereignty?  Further, does the description of the assertion matter.  In the King James Bible, Caesar intends for all the world to be "taxed."  Did the compilers of that translation have something like the Domesday Book in the back of their mind?  The Revised Standard Version gives "enrolled."  Might that be a more accurate rendition, or might those compilers, working out of several Protestant traditions with links to Mayflower congregations, have the tradition of keeping good records that began with the Plymouth colonies in their minds?  Then, there's the Swedish translation, which gives "skattskrifvas" as the the objective of "kejsar Augustus's" order.  Google Translate doesn't like the spelling, but it offers "taxable" as the translation, and that's not inconsistent with the churches of Sweden having responsibility for the secular and sacred records, and those are pretty comprehensive back into the eighteenth century.

Now, if any fragments of that Roman census still exist, those would likely be of some interest to genealogists.

ADVERSE SELECTION.

Kevin Williamson went on a trip through Appalachia.  For all of the efforts of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and all the other do-gooders who have taken up the cause, the area remains a poverty pocket in part because the most ambitious people have long since bailed.
Like its black urban counterparts, the Big White Ghetto suffers from a whole trainload of social problems, but the most significant among them may be adverse selection: Those who have the required work skills, the academic ability, or the simple desperate native enterprising grit to do so get the hell out as fast as they can, and they have been doing that for decades. As they go businesses disappear, institutions fall into decline, social networks erode, and there is little or nothing left over for those who remain. It’s a classic economic death spiral: The quality of the available jobs is not enough to keep good workers, and the quality of the available workers is not enough to attract good jobs. These little towns located at remote wide spots in helical mountain roads are hard enough to get to if you have a good reason to be here. If you don’t have a good reason, you aren’t going to think of one.
It's not that these parts of the country suffered a singularly bad day, such as when The Pennsylvania Railroad reduced the payroll in the Altoona, Penn., backshops, or when Big Steel saw the folly of maintaining small open-hearth works in the Mahoning Valley.  "The employed and upwardly mobile leave, taking their children, their capital, and their habits with them, clean clear of the Big White Ghetto, while the unemployed, the dependent, and the addicted are once again left behind."  There still is a sort of commerce, based on public assistance, and causing furrowed brows among advocates of the Nanny State.
Once a month, the debit card accounts of those receiving what we still call “food stamps” are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day the accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum — are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases of soda; reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.”
The naïve technocrats, in their naïvete, labor under the delusion that taking pop off the distribution list will somehow defund the druggies.
Last year, 18 big-city mayors, Mike Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel among them, sent the federal government a letter asking that soda be removed from the list of items eligible to be used for EBT purchases. Mayor Bloomberg delivered his standard sermon about obesity, nutrition, and the multiplex horrors of sugary drinks. But none of those mayors gets what’s really going on with sugar water and food stamps. Take soda off the list and there will be another fungible commodity to take its place. It’s possible that a great many cans of soda used as currency go a long time without ever being cracked — in a town this small, those selling soda to EBT users and those buying it back at half price are bound to be some of the same people, the soda merely changing hands ceremonially to mark the real exchange of value — pillbilly wampum.
Ultimately, the pop-to-pill economy suffers from a toxic mix of well-meaning enablement and contemporary relativism.
In effect, welfare has made Appalachia into a big and sparsely populated housing project — too backward to thrive, but just comfortable enough to keep the underclass in place. There is no cure for poverty, because there is no cause of poverty — poverty is the natural condition of the human animal. It is not as though labor and enterprise are unknown here: Digging coal is hard work, farming is hard work, timbering is hard work — so hard that the best and brightest long ago packed up for Cincinnati or Pittsburgh or Memphis or Houston. There is to this day an Appalachian bar in Detroit and ex-Appalachian enclaves around the country. The lesson of the Big White Ghetto is the same as the lessons we learned about the urban housing projects in the late 20th century: The best public-policy treatment we have for poverty is dilution. But like the old project towers, the Appalachian draw culture produces concentration, a socioeconomic Salton Sea that becomes more toxic every year.

“The government gives people checks, but nobody teaches them how to live,” says Teresa Barrett, a former high-school principal who now publishes the Owsley County newspaper. “You have people on the draw getting $3,000 a month, and they still can’t live. When I was at the school, we’d see kids come in from a long weekend just starved to death. But you’ll see those parents at the grocery store with their 15 cases of Pepsi, and that’s all they’ve got in the buggy — you know what they’re doing. Everybody knows, nobody does anything. And when you have that many people on the draw, that’s a big majority of voters.”
There's still not enough "seeing how to live" in the shadow of the projects, either.
If nothing else, Election 2020 revealed a deeply divided nation -- two Americas, not one -- though that dividing line marked anything but an even or obvious split. A startling number of Americans are trapped in wretched conditions and hungry for a clean break with the status quo. On the other hand, the rampant voter suppression and racialized gerrymandering of the last decade of American politics suggests that extremists from the wealthier America will go to remarkable lengths to undercut the power of those at the bottom of this society. They have proven ready to use every tool and scare tactic of racist division and subterfuge imaginable to stop poor Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, and white potential voters from building new and transformative alliances, including a new electorate.

It’s time to move beyond the defeatist myth of the Solid South or even the dulling comfort of a Midwestern “blue wall.” Across the South and the Midwest, there are voter-suppression states still to win, not for a party, but for a fusion movement of the many. The same could be true for the coasts and the Southwest, where there remains a sleeping giant of poor and low-income people yet to be pulled into political action. If this country is ever going to be built back better, to borrow Joe Biden's campaign pledge, it’s time to turn to its abandoned corners; to, that is, the other America of Martin Luther King that still haunts us, whether we know it or not.
That could get interesting, if the coronavirus lockdowns that are destroying the lives of people who weren't in a position, back in March, to work from home and stay in safe pods, also create a coalition of people who will not be made into vassals.

The challenge, and Mr Williamson has recognized that, is that there's a tension between a political order in which the Powers that Be don't treat fellow citizens as vassals, and a political order in which the right to be left alone might leave people behind and in a bad place, as in the hollows and in the slums.
What America needs most right now, then, is boring old bourgeois libertarianism: the lived philosophy of peacefully enjoying life and property while mostly minding your own business. That philosophy rules out attempts to enforce orthodoxies of thought and expression, no matter how good the cause, and refuses to treat other people's lives and property as dispensable in the pursuit of political goals, no matter how noble.

When people reject those principles, they create civic spaces where no one can thrive—in the long run, not even them.
The current pass has been a long time in coming. The Beats and the hippies were for the most part in a position to opt out when it was fun and opt back in because it was still possible. Much the same thing is true of the credentialed nihilists who thought deconstructing bourgeois norms was an interesting exercise, but did they give up their tenured posts?  The people left in the decaying neighborhoods had no such succor.  Buckle in.

28.11.20

KARNEVAL.

We'll continue the run-up to our traditional launch of Fasching with noch ein Schnitzelbank, this one from Philadelphia.


The version tacks some Philadelphia local color on after the traditional (if you view the Maders poster as canonical) list of items.  That's absolutely fine: would you believe there is even a scholarly paper about the origin and style of Schnitzelbank songs, both in North America and in the German-speaking lands of Europe?  (Some of the exhibits are what the culture-studies types would call "problematic," if not worse, read at your own risk.)

Now head down by Wanamaker's where the streetcar bends the corner around and enjoy!

MUST BE A GOOD BOOK.

Michael Pratt, assistant principal in the Nashville schools, notes,  "I was fortunate because I grew up around readers."  He's now on a mission.
Almost four years ago, Michael Pratt began making sure students saw him reading every day.

He read in the hallway. Over his lunch hour. After school. He did it first as assistant principal at John Early Magnet School and then in the same role at East Nashville Magnet High School.

Curious, students would approach him. "What are you reading?" they'd ask. "Must be a good book."

Pratt used their curiosity to explain how reading is the cornerstone of everything they did in school. If students dismissed books as boring, he asked what subjects they liked, explaining there was a book for everything they were interested in.
It's such an important project to him that his colleagues, business associates, and fraternity brothers are in on the project.
Black boys need to see more Black men reading, he said. Accomplish that and progress could flow into a host of areas. It's just that simple, yet just that hard. And it's more urgent than ever.
That project goes beyond the usual culture-studies commonplaces.
Pratt’s personal watershed moment came three years prior to the coronavirus pandemic when he conducted unscientific surveys with groups of African American boys. He asked them if they liked reading. How often they read? And if they did not read, he wanted to know why.

He heard that they didn't have enough time, that it wasn't interesting, that the stories didn't relate to their lives or experiences. And then a larger theme emerged.

They didn’t see Black men reading. Some had not seen a Black man reading for pleasure in months.

"I’m a strong believer in you can’t believe what you can’t see," Pratt said. "If you are not around people who look like you who read, then it won’t be high priority.”
The reading is fundamental. What the youngsters see in the visiting readers is pretty important, too.  Let Myra Taylor, principal at Buena Vista Elementary, explain. "They are seeing other Black men, who look like them, that are in shirts and ties, that are reporters, authors and engineers leaving here and going to work. They may not see that in any other place."

I'll close this report with an exhortation from E. C. Hartwell's Story Hour Readings, Book 4. "Read one good book each month! Add one word each day to your vocabulary!"  Let's hope these young men and their mentors succeed at that task.

THE AXE IS QUARANTINED IN MADISON.

Last fall, the Wisconsin football team reclaimed their ownership of Paul Bunyan's Axe.

This fall, a coronavirus-shortened season already ran afoul of Northwestern in Evanston.  Now it's Minnesota having to shorten its season thanks to coronavirus infections, and on the week of the Axe game.  Thus endeth any chances of Wisconsin being able to play in the conference title game, as the team will not have played sufficient games.  Bowl-eligibility might still be a possibility.

Cold Spring Shops has heard rumblings of Wisconsin and Minnesota attempting to play the Axe game on the last day of the season, the way it ought to be, if the opponents currently on the schedule agree to play each other instead.  That might be too many moving parts in a season that's too weird already anyway.

25.11.20

ANOTHER CONTESTED THANKSGIVING.

That's a tradition almost as old as Thanksgiving, certainly as old as this weblog.

I'll repeat my message.

I give thanks for your readership and your comments.

Spare a few moments thanks for the young people in harm's way around the world, for the people in emergency services who deserve to sit down to the turkey without the alarm ringing, for the people in transportation, tourism, and entertainment passing on their family gatherings to enhance yours.

And yes, if your assessment of risks allows you to travel and to gather with friends or relatives, do so.  It seems as though the woke-scolds would still like to ruin your gathering.


I suppose the safe socially distant thing to do with such people is tell them to put a mask on it.

RUN TO WIN.

One of the few fall sports to compete has been cross-country running, although even that is subject to lockdowns.  Despite the off-course issues, the Northern Illinois University women claimed a conference title.  Their showing might have been strong enough to earn a bid to the national meet, currently scheduled for the Ides of March in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

SEND HAL 9000 AND A PROBE TO SATURN TO SERVE THE WARRANT.

Today in "Even Our Science Fiction is Dated:"  Giant Metal Monolith Discovered In Utah Desert Possibly Extraterrestrial, Definitely a Code Violation.
Who, or what, might have placed the 10- to 12-foot structure in the middle of the desert is shrouded in mystery. [Helicopter pilot Bret] Hutchings told [television station] KSL that it looked like a new age art installation. [Utah Department of Public Safety] spokesperson Lt. Nick Street said that the monolith was assembled using stainless steel and pop rivets, suggesting human origins, but making it hard to guess its age.

"It could have been placed there 50, 60 years ago and because of the material it's made out of it hasn't weathered—it was meant not to," Street told USA Today, adding, "It's definitely an interesting installation."
Stanley Kubrick's monolith references hit the big screen in 1968.  If this thing is extraterrestrial, the public authorities (which is to say, the same people who have lately been telling you to have no fun) had better watch themselves.
"It is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you're from," said DPS in a press release. The federal Bureau of Land Management will determine whether further investigation of the monolith is warranted.

One certainly hopes the origins of the structure are terrestrial. There would be few better ways to sour Earth's reputation in the galaxy than exposing off-planet visitors to the onerous restrictions and red tape we place on the development of federal lands. After all, beings capable of interstellar space travel have almost certainly evolved past the need for such barbaric regulations.
Not to mention that in the book version of 2001: A Space Odyssey the first thing the Star Child did with Earth was detonate all the orbiting nukes.

24.11.20

A GENERAL PURPOSE PASSENGER RAILROAD EMERGES IN FLORIDA.

Brightline, which has suspended its passenger train service for the duration of the social distancing mania, continue to think about After.

One dimension of what is to come appears to be the upscale service from the ports and airports to the amusement parks.
“Brightline will offer a car-free connection to the millions of visitors from around the state and the world who plan to make Walt Disney World Resort part of their vacation plans,” Brightline President Patrick Goddard said. “Our mission has always been to connect our guests to the people and places that matter, and Walt Disney World Resort is a tremendous example of this.”

Added Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle: “We’re excited to work with Brightline as they pursue the potential development of a train station at Walt Disney World Resort, a project that would support our local economy and offer a bold, forward-looking transportation solution for our community and guests.”
The proposed Disney Spring station appears to be in the style of the existing stations, with what strikes me as too much check-in theater and too much walking to get from ticketing and baggage checking to trackside.

The carrier is continuing to work with Florida Commuter Rail authorities on participating in some sort of more traditional commuter operations.
The [Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners], in its resolution, has now directed the County Mayor or County Mayor’s designee to finalize negotiations with Brightline on an access agreement, “in an amount not to exceed $50 million paid in one or more installments and $12 million per year for an agreed upon term,” and for “negotiating agreements for operations, maintenance and funding and development for all capital improvements” and for “completing all due diligence and any necessary approval by the Federal Transit Administration,” among other measures.

Again, no decision has been made on who would operate the new commuter rail system—Brightline or South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), which runs Tri-Rail. The 71-mile Tri-Rail commuter rail service operates between Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties on right-of-way west and parallel to the FECR main line. It does not go to downtown Miami, but to Hialeah, and riders must change there for Miami-Dade Transit’s elevated Metrorail line to go downtown.

“Developing a commuter rail system along the economic centers of Miami-Dade County will provide more access to jobs, cultural centers, arenas and other locations critical to residents,” said Commission Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade County. “Transportation remains key to moving our county forward and creating much-needed economic opportunities.”
Tri-Rail, and the Orlando area commuter trains called Sun Rail, currently use the former Seaboard, now CSX tracks also used by Amtrak's Silver Meteor and Silver Star.  The commuter operations and Amtrak do not honor each other's tickets, although a few stations serve both types of trains.  It's going to be interesting to see what happens along the old Florida East Coast, with one operator and two classes of trains, the commuter service and the ports-to-mouse service.

THIS IS WHAT INTERCHANGE LOOKS LIKE.

There's an excellent set of links on Cafe Hayek today.  Just go there and keep clicking.  The key takeaway comes from John Tamny.  "What’s ridiculous eventually self-immolates."

THEY DESERVE TO GET IT GOOD AND HARD.

Voting Democrat is a thing in third world California, and Right on the Left Coast reacts to a list of San Francisco eateries, some of which I might have heard of, that are closing permanently with a good question.  "How Many of The Owners and Employees Voted For California's Democrats?"

THERE ARE ELEVEN PLAYERS, AND LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE A MISTAKE.

Milwaukee sports broadcaster Bryan Dee offers words of wisdom.
After fumbling away Sunday’s game against the Colts, Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdez Scantling tweeted that he received threats on his life from fans. Packers fans.

Are you kidding me? You don’t think the guy feels bad enough already? He knows that he made a mistake. To be frank, the Packers should’ve closed out that game long before MVS was in that position to begin with.

The defense blew coverages.

Aaron Rodgers missed throws.

Players missed blocks.

It happens.

Look, we all care about sports a lot. And it hurts when our teams let us down. But, at the end of the day, it’s just a game. A game played by real people with real feelings that are really fallible.

So, next time you’re angry after a game…think…take a breath…empathize…and please, do not press send.
The dual proposition is equally true: in order for Bart Starr to sneak in with seconds remaining, or Aaron Rodgers to find Randall Cobb, a lot of other players have to make plays to make those closing heroics possible.

A SAFETY CULTURE SELF-DESTRUCTS.

Heather MacDonald explains.
An advanced civilization builds towards the future, as the Pilgrims and other New World settlers understood. It accumulates social and economic capital to be drawn on by individual discoverers and entrepreneurs for further progress. Now, however, we are cannibalizing our economic inheritance, in the fantastical belief that government transfer payments, generated from ever increased debt, can substitute for private economic activity. Our capital, now being recklessly destroyed by arbitrary government fiat, will take generations to rebuild. We take for granted everything that hard-won prosperity has provided us — well-functioning services (compared to Third World disorder), dependable maintenance, the luxury of choice. We will miss such prosperity when it follows the fate of those millions of businesses whose loss is causing despair, substance abuse, and suicide.

A mature civilization understands that risk is part of life and that there are higher purposes — even mere sociability — than avoiding death at all costs. No great venture can be accomplished if staying safe is life’s only guiding principle. Now, however, our elites mock courage and perseverance, explicitly repudiating the virtues that built this country. President Trump, upon leaving the hospital after a coronavirus infection, admonished the country to not ‘be afraid’ of the virus, in the Washington Post’s ;words, and to not ‘allow it to dominate’ our lives. That imminently reasonable exhortation, once expected in a leader, is still being denounced by public health experts and the media nearly two months later. If Americans do not repudiate this ethic of fear, future Thanksgivings will be even bleaker than this year’s.
In the name of safety, "Coronavirus panic has set America back hundreds of years."  New Age superstitions turn out to be no different from those of Salem.

23.11.20

PRICE DISCOVERY INCLUDES DISCOVERING, AND CONSERVING ON, TRANSACTION COSTS.

 That's two Cold Spring Shops themes neatly bundled in one Caleb Fuller essay.

Transaction costs arise when exchanging parties take steps to mitigate the threat of opportunistic behavior. As [Yoram] Barzel notes, a buyer has an interest in inspecting a good’s “attributes”—its size, quality, freshness, color, or similarity to other units—in order to verify that what is given up in exchange is perceived as less valuable than what is gained. (Resources that consumers perceive as having different attributes are different goods in the Mengerian approach). However, “measurement” of a good’s attributes is costly. The “problem” with measurement is that its costliness, unlike the money price, does not accrue to the exchange partner’s benefit. Relative to a perfect, Nirvana world where measurement is unneeded, measurement costs are pure waste! This suggests that buyers and sellers could affect exchanges at a higher net price if they could agree to a low-cost means of rendering measurement activity superfluous. Sellers would gain by receiving a higher money price; buyers would gain if the increase in the money price is less than the reduction in measurement costs. How then can exchange partners reduce measurement costs and enjoy these gains?
The frictionless world of textbook "perfect" competition makes most of these difficulties go away by starting with identical products offered by identical sellers using identical technologies, in part because that story works tolerably well, in part because if you try to introduce transportation or search costs (there are a few overlaps, and more than a few subtleties) too soon, it gets even more confusing than even the standard price theory approach often is, and in part because it's convenient for technocratically inclined academicians to bring in the reality in the form of "market failures" that "warrant government intervention," which is not at all the case.  (That approach is the Democrat tax code instruction manual, it's also a convenient way to keep economists in side gigs as policy consultants.)

In that world, anything that doesn't look like what A. C. Pigou or Paul Samuelson drew up on a blackboard, or what Kenneth Arrow or Joseph Stiglitz showed to be first-best-optimal by a rigorous argument, maybe in Hilbert space, must be some nefarious plot to separate people from their money.  It gets even more lurid if diamond merchants are involved.
One possibility is for sellers to do something which makes it in the buyers’ best interests to refrain from expending resources on measurement. Perhaps counterintuitively, one way to achieve this goal is to raise a buyer’s cost of measuring, so that less of it is undertaken. Barzel offers a few illuminating examples. DeBeers, once the owner of a large majority of the world’s diamonds, interacts with its distributors only on a somewhat curious, “take-it-or-leave-us” basis. After having assessed a potential diamond dealer’s request, DeBeers will present the distributor with a package of diamonds that roughly matches the description. Next, the buyer is asked to make a choice: Make the purchase or forgo dealing with DeBeers ever again. Instead of seeing nefarious market power inherent in the “take-it-or-leave-us” offer, Barzel argues that this practice reduces the sorting and negotiation costs that buyers would otherwise incur.
The curious practice of the movie studios, back when there were only a few movie studios, requiring movie houses to consent to show all of the studio's offerings, might have had a similar purpose.

Taken together, discovery of efficient institutional arrangements, discovery of efficient bundles, discovery of the relevant price, it's all the same calculation problem.  "Along the same lines, in free markets, the decision about whether to implement a measurement cost reducing arrangement is also subject to economic calculation. Certainly, the opportunity to participate in exchanges where the distribution of goods’ attributes is narrower is a benefit to buyers who can spend less time and fewer resources inspecting."

STRESS TESTING THE CONSTITUTION.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito makes a trenchant observation for our time. "[W]henever fundamental rights are restricted, the Supreme Court and other courts cannot close their eyes."  That's too much for at least one Slate contributor.  "Alito abandoned any pretense of impartiality in his speech, a grievance-laden tirade against Democrats, the progressive movement, and the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic."  By their fruits shall ye know them.

THE RULES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE.

Science is for hoi polloi to worship, and the nachalstvo to ignore.  Waffle House is for hoi polloi to eat hearty, and their chief executive officer, Steve Cortes, tells the nachalstvo to ... be more respectful.  "Those pushing for harsh restrictions are almost all credentialed-class elites who don’t suffer personal professional consequences from lockdowns."  He's not yet into full-on civil disobedience, but the nuances are behind a Business Insider paywall.

On the other hand, if the people who are doing the overnight deliveries and cooking the food so that the symbolic analysts don't have to cook any more stop making the deliveries, perhaps that will concentrate a few minds among the people who are fine with quarantines as long as they're not inconvenienced.

SECOND SECTION.  At Insta Pundit, Ed Driscoll finds a John Miltimore essay that makes two important points.  First, individuals have the responsibility for determining their own risk exposures.  "It’s certainly true that some activities are going to pose greater risks than others, but the reality is that only individuals can determine how much risk is worth taking to engage in a given activity."  Second, dissent is the highest form of patriotism, but sometimes, the highest form of patriotism involves taking on additional risks.  "Ehmer’s opposition to lockdowns should be applauded, but eventually it may require more than words to break the lockdown spell. It may require peaceful but assertive action."

There has already been a good deal of emergent civil disobedience.  Perhaps there will be a great deal more during the Festive Season that is starting now.

THE BERLIN WALL MOMENT FOR THE COMMON SCHOOLS.

Parents are discovering what passes for online education, and the lengths to which common school teachers are going to avoid teaching in person, and they might not like it.
Families are waking up to the fact that they have been powerless when it comes to K-12 education for far too long. This realization is already pushing parents to unenroll their children from the public school system. It could also push them to demand their children's education dollars back from that system. In this sense, the public school monopoly's latest failure to meet the needs of millions of families just might be the straw that breaks its own back.
The discontent might be strongest in precisely those districts where people are willing to pay a lot of property taxes for a house full of amenities to get the better test scores and perhaps better-behaved classmates as part of the bundle.  (Apparently, the bundling makes possible the creation of homeschooling pods or pooled resources to hire tutors, which is to say, effectively a small private school.)

GOVERNOR PRITZKER TRAILS BY 5,706.

The geographic area and population of Illinois are both similar to those in Sweden, and there are similarities of the Chicago and Stockholm metropolitan areas.  But  Springfield politicians are hazardous to your health.  Governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Lake Geneva) continues to micromanage and destroy local businesses.

A service called Worldometers has been keeping track of coronavirus infections and deaths, disaggregated in a number of ways.

The latest report from Sweden counts 208,295 infections and 6,406 deaths.

The latest report from Illinois counts 664,620 infections and 12,112 deaths.

21.11.20

KARNEVAL.

We'll continue the run-up to our traditional launch of Fasching with noch ein Schnitzelbank, this time the version Detroit's Dakota Inn use.


This version was recorded at the January 2020 gathering of the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club (and yes, for a while, there was a Volkswagen presence in Michigan, although they missed the opportunity to build a Rabbit plant in Warren).  That is, it might be one of the last public singalongs before Michigan's dictatorial governor, Gretchen "Schlachterfrau" Whitmer (D-Hell) decided that having fun was a good way to get Chinese Lung Rot.

As of today, the people operating the Dakota Inn hope to be open for business again come 8 December.

Let's hope so.  Until then, find yourself a suitable Karneval video and sing along.

GRIDLOCK IS GOOD.

Veronique de Rugy kicks off today's doubleheader.  "Voters are often rationally ignorant; however, some of them still may have noticed the slew of House votes that would leave them with less money in their bank accounts, less control of their lives, and higher cost-of-living expenses for years to come." Not to mention, arbitrary quarantines and self-styled progressives indulging themselves like tsarist princes and princesses.
For more evidence that the voters' lack of enthusiasm for progressive policies likely explains the Democrats' reduced majority in the House, one should consider this election's down-ballot outcomes. Illinois and California, two of the most progressive states in the Union, provide good examples. In Illinois, voters rejected by a 55 to 45 percent margin the so-called Fair Tax Amendment. That progressive tax scheme would have amended the state constitution to replace the flat income tax with a progressive one.

In California, some serious progressive dreams to steal more freedom from people were crushed. Proposition 22, for instance, saved Californians from an attempt by regulators to upend the digital platform economy by forcing the industry's companies to reclassify independent contractors as full-time employees. Voters disallowed cities to impose rent control and rejected a massive property-tax increase with Prop. 15.

In more fiscally sound states, voters took some power away from the legislature. For instance, Colorado voters adopted Prop. 117, closing a loophole in the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which subjects tax hikes to voter approval but not fees.
Those are all positive developments.

Steven Greenhut walks off the night-cap.
In an authoritarian state, the people pay heed to everything the Dear Leader utters. Consider that as you hang on every tweet from the president—or wait for the governor's daily edicts about which businesses may be open today. I'm not sure what we can do about our current predicament, but the best idea—from an election perspective—is to keep our governments as politically divided as possible.
Gridlock doesn't frighten him. Or me.

I'll close with a challenge to political science types who might be dismayed by continued gridlock in government:  show me some Pareto improvements.  It's easy enough to argue that the Senate favors small-population states over large (for some reason we always hear about Wyoming as opposed to California but rarely about Vermont as opposed to Texas) or that presidential electors make some individual votes less relevant (in part because the House was last enlarged in 1929 and tweaked but ultimately not expanded for Alaska and Hawaii) or any number of other theoretical quibbles, but if that argument is ultimately "Democrats would do better" it isn't going to convince people who aren't disposed to vote for Democrats to listen.

GOVERNMENTS EXIST TO SECURE RIGHTS.

Gabe Kaminsky gets it.  "It seems our government has become so enwrapped in this disturbing vision of protecting the people that they have forgotten to leave personal responsibility up to the people. They do not trust us anymore. They only trust themselves and their inflated egos."  That's nothing new, but welcome to the party.  "The government needs to have the guts to believe in the American people and entrust them with the inalienable right to make decisions about the trajectories of their lives."  Problem is, that generates neither Positions of Authority for people who think themselves Wise Experts to  occupy (I'm looking right at you, Anthony Fauci) nor rents for the Aristocracy of Pull to generate and dissipate.

Speaking of Anthony Fauci, "Dr. Fauci made it very clear that America citizens essentially have no pre-existing rights or constitutional protections when it comes to this targeted medical problem, which the public health authorities have unilterally decreed to be a societal threat."  Yes, and the people who see every opportunity to Apply their Expertise as reason to invoke "Moral Equivalent of War" are likely to invoke "Moral Equivalent of Pandemic" in future.

It's on us, dear readers, to say no, to ask the tough questions, to undermine them, if necessary, with mockery.

BEFORE CHINESE TYRANNY BECAME THE TOP STORY OF THE YEAR.

There is still a concentration in railroad engineering (the civil and mechanical kind, with calculus, not the away from home tied to the 'phone kind, with no home life) at the University of Illinois, and, just before the plague, some of their students ventured to China to hear the steam whistles in the snow.  "The revenue operation can be found in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, outside a small desert mining town called Sandaoling. In this barren Silk Road stopover, where spoken English is about as common as a non-smoking bar (rare), steam engines built in the 1980s still labor to pull coal trains out of a large pit mine dug into the arid landscape."  That's correct, built in the 1980s, which undoubtedly puzzled works managers when steam locomotives contributed to China's export surpluses.


A train peacefully passes the ruins of a Uyghur Mosque in the Nanquan area of the old town of Sandaoling. The mosque has since been demolished. (Taken in 2014)
Zezhou Wang photograph retrieved from Trains.

I bet the mosque has long since been demolished, and some of the locals loaded aboard more modern trains to be sent to get their minds right.

WHICH SUCKS MORE, CHICAGO BEARS OR CHICAGO DEMOCRATS?

The failure of dictatorial governor J. B. Pritzker's (D-Lake Geneva) progressive income tax amendment has led to some long-overdue perestroika moments among the Party of Daleys.
California and Illinois share many political characteristics. Corrupt one-party rule. Outrageous salaries and pensions for state workers. And looming debt and cumulative liabilities that threaten bankruptcy. But California saw Republicans turn over Democrat control of a number of House seats, even as Dems retain control of the state government.  At least the Dems in Illinois are scared of their corrupt control being exposed. In California, they remain bulletproof in their own minds.
Enough so, or perhaps the governor would like to find a tame Republican to hold the bag when the crunch comes, that the state house speaker is in trouble.
“If Speaker Madigan wants to continue in a position of enormous public trust with such a serious ethical cloud hanging over his head, then he has to, at the very least, be willing to stand in front of the press and the people and answer every last question to their satisfaction,” Pritzker said. “Written statements and dodged investigatory hearings are not going to cut it. If the speaker cannot commit to that level of transparency, then the time has come for him to resign as speaker.”
Let the record show that Mr Madigan became speaker of the Illinois general assembly before the Chicago Bears last won a Super Bowl.  Maybe we owe the Soviet Union an apology, they at least had the good grace to disband when their gerontocracy and their politics proved to be past their sell-by date.
Prior to Thursday, Pritzker had tried to keep some distance from the controversy, at first saying only that Madigan should resign if the allegations are proved true. He stepped up his criticism slightly following the Nov. 3 general election, during which Pritzker’s signature graduated tax amendment went down in defeat, suggesting Madigan should step down from his role as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois because the cloud of scandal surrounding him had become a liability for the party.
Future empirical social scientists are going to have a good time disentangling generalized corruption from urban unrest from ineffective yet intrusive public health measures in Illinois.

DONALD TRUMP DESERVES THE TRUTH, EVEN IF IT'S UNPLEASANT.

More common sense from National Review's Jim Geraghty.
President Trump did not win the election. He came surprisingly close, considering how he was running during the worst pandemic in a century, after a sudden and severe economic shock, and his own difficulties staying on-message. He won a bunch of states that he needed — Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina. He lost Georgia by two-tenths of a percentage point, Arizona by three-tenths of a percentage point, Wisconsin by seven-tenths of a percentage point, Pennsylvania by 1.2 percentage points, Nevada by 2.4 percentage points, and Michigan by 2.8 percentage points. His ardent push in the final weeks probably helped keep the Senate close to GOP control and diminishing the Democratic advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives down to a handful of seats. That’s more than respectable.

But we are now two and a half weeks since Election Day. Other than California and New York — which is a separate story, worthy of tackling another morning — the voting is done, the counting is complete, and in some cases, the count has been completed twice. There are no more absentee ballots left to arrive, no more provisional ballots to sort out or dispute. Many, if not all, of the court cases have been resolved. As of this morning, 15 states and territories have certified their vote results; by dinnertime tonight, Georgia and North Dakota will have joined them. The 2020 election is over — other than those Georgia Senate runoffs, and a Louisiana House runoff between two Republicans — and it is time for Americans to move on with our lives.
That is, to the extent Our Political Masters let us move on. Gridlocking the coot and forcing a showdown between corporatist Democrats and communist fellow-travellers calling themselves Democrats, even better.

20.11.20

WALK AWAY FROM THE LIBERAL PLANTATION.

Outkick columnist Jason Whitlock is on fire.  He started just over a week ago, calling out a comedian called Dave Chappelle for offering people what is effectively a woke minstrel show.
Chappelle’s great-granddaddy’s defining characteristic wasn’t his skin color. He took on the identity of a typical 19th century American, seeking and spreading knowledge, freedom and Christianity.

It’s what we (black people) used to do before liberals re-imagined our purpose in life, before we self-imposed Black restrictions under the guise of 1970s Black pride associated with hairstyle, clothes and slang language.

Acting Black took precedence over acting smart, acting American or acting Christian. The tent poles of William David Chappelle’s existence were remade. Acting smart was acting white. The self-determination of freedom was cast as a racist, conservative plot to deny government assistance to black people. And Christianity was redefined as the primary tool of slavery, not the primary motivation of abolitionists.

No other American racial group lives under a restrictive burden of skin color. They are free to think, behave and believe as they see fit without threat of racial ostracization and recrimination. They’re free.
That's another way of saying "idiocy of authenticity." But he wasn't done.
Is there any other race of people who would prefer Cardi B as a representative over Ben Carson? She would go well ahead of Dr. Carson in a black racial draft staged by Bryan Tucker, Neal Brennan and Dave Chappelle. Who else would consider a rapper more worthy of respect than a doctor?

This is the sad social construct white liberals have established for black people.
I think that's called demonstrating absurdity by being absurd, but is he wrong to suggest that lowering behavioral standards in schools doesn't have consequences? "The price for this bigoted insanity is that black children grow up wanting to compete in the Unapologetically Black Olympics rather than to showcase intelligence. They’d rather be Dr. Dre than Dr. Carson."

Mr Whitlock continues to ask difficult questions.  "Does the capital B make it less likely for another George Floyd-Derek Chauvin confrontation? Or does it make it more likely for all black people to be seen as George Floyd?"

His most recent essay gets to the political economy of restorative justice.
In 1965, political sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan authored what would come to be known as the Moynihan Report, a study of The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. Written to influence President Lyndon Johnson’s policies regarding America’s black-white racial dilemma, the 16,000-word Moynihan Report spelled out the devastating impact of 350 years of racial oppression on the black family. It predicted that the growing matriarchy defining black culture would undermine the progress of black people in a Western society built for patriarchal families.

Today, the Moynihan Report reads like a biblical prophecy. Fifty-five years ago, Moynihan argued black people’s survival in America was a modern miracle.

“A lesser people might simply have died out, as indeed others have,” Moynihan wrote.
Unfortunately, people viewed the Moynihan report as blaming the victim, and the worst-case scenario is what we saw.
Our skin color and the degenerate behaviors white liberals have deemed as authentically black have become the hallmarks of black culture. There’s nothing blacker than repeatedly saying “nigga” in public spaces or having a baby mama/daddy or dealing drugs to survive poverty. The highest form of blackness is being a victim of racism, especially if it involves a white cop.
Don't get caught in the authenticity trap.
The ugly truth is the Left has exploited black America for six decades, beginning with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s disastrous “war on poverty.” And why? The same reason the Democrat Party exploits and panders to every other minority and disparate group — the ballot box. Everybody and everything the Democrat Party supports, opposes, defends, or attacks can be connected to the ballot box with no more than two dots.

Democrat, Republican, or somewhere in between, Jason Whitlock believes it’s past time that black Americans refuse to live on the liberal plantation — simply because of the color of their skin. Amen.
There's nothing wrong with getting votes, that's how a constitutional republic makes public decisions. There's everything wrong with getting votes by keeping constituents destitute and pointing to their destitution as a reason to earn additional terms in office.

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF FORGIVING STUDENT LOAN DEBT.

Call it what it is: a regressive transfer.
Forgiving college debt is a slap in the face to those who paid down their debts early, those who minimized their borrowing by attending cheaper schools or working during their studies, those who forwent college entirely, and those suffering under other kinds of debt. College-loan forgiveness is also a poor way to stimulate the economy in the short term during the COVID-19 malaise, because there are plenty of groups more deserving, because much of the forgiven debt wouldn’t have been repaid for years anyway, and because the forgiveness would probably be taxed. And it’s virtually guaranteed to be regressive, for the simple reason that Americans who went to college are a richer-than-average bunch.
It's also a dilemma for Joe from Scranton. "Joe Biden ran as a moderate who could unite the country. Hardly anything could be more divisive than shunting taxpayer dollars at folks who’ve been to college while low-skilled workers bear the brunt of our current economic pain." Particularly to the extent that those debts were incurred in the pursuit of dubious degrees.

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR CALLING TYRANNY TYRANNY.

Kelly Stafford, consort-in-chief to Detroit "How will Aaron Rodgers beat us this time?" Lion quarterback Matthew Stafford, recently expressed exasperation with life as destroyed by dictatorial governor Gretchen "Schlachterfrau" Whitmer (D-Hell).
I’m so over it. I’m so over living in a dictatorship we call Michigan. I understand there’s a pandemic, and I understand it’s very scary. I’m scared of it too. If you are at risk, do not leave your house until there’s a vaccine. But shutting down all these small businesses, things that people have worked their life for, shutting them down again is not the answer. Because they will not make it.

So once we are able to leave our house, once this dictatorship decides to let us have some freedom, there will be nothing left. I’m just over it. I see all these people and it brings me to tears.
She subsequently backed away from using the term "dictatorship," but why?

Reason's Jacob Sullum is made of sterner stuff.  "After violating his own rules, California's governor offers deceitful excuses and announces new restrictions for the little people." There's more:
Newsom's "big mistake" was not just hypocritical; it was a challenge to the rule of law, which does not allow exemptions for the famous, wealthy, or politically powerful.

As J.D. Tuccille notes, this sort of double standard is par for the course during the COVID-19 epidemic, when politicians such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.), Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) have felt free to flout the disease control safeguards that mere mortals are told to observe. "We're expected to suffer discomfort, economic pain, and emotional distress or else pay fines and even serve jail time," Tuccille writes. "Government officials, meanwhile, take offense when called out for violating the standards they created."

While Newsom did not take offense, he did offer excuses, and he did not acknowledge that he was breaking the law he had laid down—not merely its "spirit," but its specific requirements.
Democrats all, you notice. Science is for hoi polloi to worship.  Tucker Carlson nails it.
The picture of [the governor's party], known henceforth to history as "The French Laundry Photograph", is the year 2020 condensed to its essence. Here you have plutocrats dining with lobbyists, ignoring the very orders they're so self-righteously imposing on others, gorging themselves in seclusion as the people they're supposed to be helping wither and die. And then when they're caught, they lie about it.

How perfect is that? It's all there. Every element --hypocrisy, greed, selfishness, stupidity. This is our national moment in a single picture.
It is tyranny, and it's on each of us to respond accordingly.
This is an act of hostility against the population of the country. They despise you and they're flaunting it. This is how people who don't like you behave. They force you to do one thing, they do another, they get caught, they're not embarrassed and they keep forcing you to do the thing they're not doing. That's an act of hostility. They don't like you.
When the Trumpian populists find common cause with the intersectional populists, things will get interesting in a hurry.

TODAY'S TOM CLANCY DROOLFEST.

In The Bear and the Dragon, a Russian prospector discovers lots of gold and oil just north of the Chinese border, and the mandarins in Pekin decide to have it for their very own.  Read the book to find out what happens before a scared junior officer flips a nuke at Washington, D.C.  The Navy shot it down.  "The Missile Defense Agency announced that a U.S. Navy destroyer shot down a dummy ICBM in the Pacific Ocean with an SM-3 Block IIA missile. Previously, only ground-based interceptors had accomplished the feat." Yes, that's pivoting to an actual news release.  In the novel, the shootdown was accomplished by an SM-2 Block III fired from Gettysburg, alongside a pier in the Anacostia River.  Rick Moran notes, "For all of Vladimir Putin’s braggadocio about his new “wonder weapons,” Russia isn’t even in the same ballpark as the U.S. when it comes to missile defense. And we have Ronald Reagan to thank for it."

19.11.20

LOCATION, LAND USE, AND CORONAVIRUS.

Reason offers a report from the field.
Senior Editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown moved from an apartment in the heart of Washington, D.C., to a suburban apartment building in Cincinnati, Ohio, while Staff Editor Liz Wolfe moved from a house with a chicken coop in Austin, Texas, to a brownstone apartment in Brooklyn.
Land values have gone up in suburban Cincinnati.
Now, within a few miles of my suburban Ohio apartment complex, I can choose from four local independent breweries (plus a number of other restaurants that at least keep a couple of local and seasonal beers on tap). I can get good Thai food right on my block and fast-food mediterranean fusion across the street. I can find decent wine and grass-fed, organic beef at the nearest gas station convenience store. I could find, were it not for the pandemic, free park yoga and a farmer's market. And in part because it is the pandemic and in part because these are just our times, most cultural or intellectual products I want can be accessed online.

I know these are all small or aesthetic things on their own. But being back here has really driven home how certain parts of the suburbs that used to, well, kind of suck don't suck anymore.

One downside? There are far fewer drive-in movie theaters around than when I was growing up. Bring back drive-in theaters!
Sorry, all those metrofexuals with their artisanal store fetishes have driven up the land values, and that's why the drive-in theaters went.  In New York, on the other hand, the technocrats are destroying the agglomeration economies that once made the cities the places to be.
Like with so many things, this is a tale of unintended consequences and the inability of central planners to forecast how people respond to restrictions. The ever-changing restrictions will also blindside restaurant and bar workers, many of whom have put considerable effort into adapting to previous rounds of rules and restrictions.

It's hard not to feel bad for the bar on my block, which opened in December 2019 and was hit with pandemic restrictions less than four months after opening. Like so many other Brooklyn and Manhattan restaurants, the bar extended seating into the street, and the ugly barricade boxes were transformed into gorgeous planters. The patio got a roof and removable walls in the last few weeks to protect bargoers from the elements. They're doing everything they can to adapt, but it still might not be enough to stay profitable.

I'm horrified by how many service industry folks—and people in other high-contact industries that can't be made remote, like tattooers—who have worked incredibly hard throughout this pandemic might descend into undeserved pauperdom as the virus and the state work in tandem to shut things down.

I see this reflected in the disparate effects between my New York and Texas social circles. In New York, many friends are white-collar workers who can work remotely from home, whereas a striking number of friends in Texas have encountered loss of income or significant work disruptions that arise from working in jobs where you can't transition to remote. In Texas, I know nannies and pastors and animal control responders and bouncers and barbacks whose jobs have changed dramatically since March. And some jobs no longer exist at all, of course.
Oh, the jobs still exist, but the transaction costs incurred to make the necessary contracts have just become so high that it's uneconomic to overcome them.

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN, PART III.

Smith College functionary Jodi Shaw sits down with The American Conservative's Rod Dreher.
If you haven’t heard of Jodi Shaw yet, you will. She is waging a one-woman battle against one of America’s most elite liberal arts institutions, Smith College, located in one of the most left-wing towns in America, Northampton, Mass. She has been a liberal all her life, but she simply got sick and tired of being made to feel by the college that she is a bad and deficient person because she is white. And she said so.

She said so on a series of YouTube videos in which she says that Smith’s so-called “antiracism” campaigning is in fact racist against whites, and have created a hostile workplace environment. You can watch them all here; start with “Dear Smith College, I Have A Few Requests.” One of the more interesting aspects of her case is that she points out what she sees as the class hostility inherent in Smith’s antiracism campaign, namely that it is privileged white people dumping on working class white people to assuage their bourgeois guilt.
It's Smith, which makes the campaign even more precious: it is privileged primarily white WOMEN simultaneously networking their way into the commanding heights of the Establishment whilst thinking of themselves as among the oppressed.  At the same time, the matriculants are learning to get away with things that might destroy their prospects at a real job interview.
The dining staff for example, one of the lowest paid groups of employees on campus, have arguably the most contact with students and as such, are most likely to be the object of racial allegations. They serve the students three meals per day inside student residences. These staff work hard to ensure the material well being of students who are receiving a $70k+ per year education, which for most, is double their annual salary. Whether a student is “full pay” or not, it is difficult to argue that a student at Smith is not in a highly privileged position relative to staff. The power dynamics already in place between staff and students are exacerbated by the college telling students that all white people are racist and immediately enacts disciplinary measures against staff whom students report for racially motivated or other behaviors related to offense around immutable characteristics. There is no due process procedure for staff, no transparent policy through which these staff can go through.
Sometimes, that breakfast or dinner meeting with the hiring team is in part a personality test, in particular, how does the new hire treat the servers.  Meanwhile, the Militant Normals living within Occupied America are connecting with each other.
I have also received many communications from people at other colleges and organizations. They have connected to say thank you, to express support and offer words of encouragement. Many tell me they cannot do the same out of the (legitimate) fear of losing their jobs, so they are glad that I am doing it. All of this support is very encouraging to me. Speaking out has given others some hope that this ivory tower tyranny has an end date.
There still is school choice, and the Seven Sisters are subject to market tests. " I ask anyone considering going to or sending their child to Smith College to engage in some careful examination of what is going on across all levels (students, staff and faculty) at the college before making a commitment."

The president of the college concedes that Ms Shaw has done nothing illegal.  "You should know that the employee has not violated any college policies by sharing their [c.q.] personal views on a personal channel."  Engage in wrong-think, though, she evidently has.  " Further, we believe the video mischaracterizes the college’s important, ongoing efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive living, learning and working environment."

THE YEAR OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT WOMAN.

Part of the emerging shape of Washington's next iteration of gridlock is a House Republican caucus with more entrepreneurs, ethnics, and women.
Promoting women politicians in particular can mean walking a tricky line in the GOP. Republican voters often say they are voting for the best candidate, regardless of gender or race.

And there were echoes of that when NPR asked [Tom] Emmer, the National Republican Congressional Committee chair, if celebrating women's victories qualifies as so-called "identity politics."

"These people are not going to be great representatives just because of their gender, their race. These are people with incredible backgrounds," he said. "And I'll tell you that we wanted the best candidates. That's what we were looking for across this country."

On the other hand, while [New York representative Elise] Stefanik stressed that she worked to back high-quality candidates, she also stressed that it's important for the party to try to make its lawmakers look more like the party itself. She also believes she's proven something to her party leadership.

"I was really proud that [Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy, [Minority Whip] Steve Scalise and many of my male colleagues embraced this effort, including Tom Emmer, who learned pretty quickly that it's important to prioritize recruitment of women candidates and nontraditional candidates," she said.
The article concludes, "Lawmakers, like voters, vote based on party, not gender."

PAY ATTENTION TO THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

Low-flow toilets or dishwashers are only as good as the strength of the lower flow.  Remember this sermon?  "Some of the work-arounds are straightforward: take longer showers, flush the toilet two or three times, use mechanics' cleaning supplies (sparingly) in the laundry. But maybe the Wise Experts ought pay more attention to the unintended consequences, and the propensity of people to develop work-arounds."  Perhaps now is a good time to buy a new dishwasher, or washing machine.  "You might finally be able to buy a dishwasher that gets the job done, unless Joe Biden changes the rules again."  Reason's Sam Rutzick concludes, "People should also be able to buy the products that best suits them."  They also ought to be able to assess their own risks of catching Wuhan coronavirus by going out in public, but then Wise Experts would actually have to do something productive with their times.

18.11.20

AMTRAK'S EXIT STRATEGY.

Running the overnight trains three times a week sheds revenue more rapidly than costs.  Amtrak's management are aware of that, and they're doing so anyway.  Apparently, the people in charge of Canada's remaining long-distance trains are doing the same thing.

DEMOCRATS BUY OFF RICH PEOPLE, TOO.

Remember William Schneider's observation, "When did the Democrats plunge into the fatal error that somehow it is acceptable to be rich, virtuous to be poor, and that the only sin is to be a member of the middle class?"  Keep that in mind, dear reader, and the proposed bailout of the most prosperous parts of the country under the rubric of coronavirus relief makes sense.
We can extrapolate from this figure that the [bailout] would dole out many hundreds of millions if not billions more to other wealthy towns and cities.

It’s not even the only provision of the bill that can be fairly characterized as a handout for the rich. The package also includes items such as student debt relief, which further burdens cash-strapped taxpayers yet only helps a relatively well-educated and well-off subset of society.

But wait: Aren’t Democrats supposed to be the progressive party fighting for the working class? That’s certainly what their rhetoric would suggest. Yet the Democrats included cash handouts for wealthy constituents in predominantly liberal areas such as Wellesley, Mass., Malibu, California, and Old Greenwich, Conn. in their emergency response package nonetheless.

This offers another painful reminder that government officials—no matter their professed partisan or ideological principles—will always and inevitably end up wielding their power in a manner prone to favoritism and clientelism
Yes, and sticking it to members of the middle class who aren't part of your coalition of degreed professionals and welfare recipients, and who don't vote for your party, anyway, is simply business as usual.

LISTEN TO THE ECONOMISTS.

Reason's Jacob Sullum summarizes the growing public frustration with arbitrary, stupid, and monomaniacally Fauciesque coronavirus shutdowns. "When there is little rhyme or reason to COVID-19 control measures, politicians should not be surprised by the skepticism and resentment they provoke. Worse, arbitrary legal restrictions may encourage Americans to disregard official advice and resist the voluntary steps that are crucial to reducing virus transmission."  It doesn't help when politically approved mass gatherings get a pass while politically disapproved mass gatherings get deplorable-shamed, but then, you knew that.

The good news is that slowing the spread of the Chinese Lung Rot is a constrained optimization problem.  John "Grumpy Economist" Cochrane elaborates.  "The goal of pandemic policy must be to maximize the economy (maximize utility, if you're an economies) while keeping [the effective reproduction rate less than one]."  Tracking the instantaneous reproduction rate is straightforward.  Today's estimates range from 0.90 in Mississippi to 1.43 in Vermont.

That's not what the governors are doing.
Policy should assiduously focus on measuring the reproduction rate, and policy initiatives should be keyed to that measure.

Right now, national, state, and local lockdown measures are keyed to the test positivity rate, which the media are also obsessed with. The test positivity rate is about the dumbest number to look at and control. Using the test positivity rate or even the correct prevalence of infectious people to gauge policy guarantees covid cycles.

The test positivity rate takes the people who happen to come in for any reason to get a test, and measures what fraction are positive. 10 in 100 is the same as 1000 in 100000. As in that example, you can have the same test positivity rate with vastly different fractions of people in the community infectious, and thus vastly larger danger of going out. Even if we do measure the correct fraction of people infected, via random testing (a big improvement), it is a mistake to crack down when that number is large, and to ease up when that number is small. Ease up when small leads to a high reproduction rate, and the cycle restarts. Measure, and respond to the reproduction rate.
It might be that the clarity of shutting down on the basis of the test positivity rate dominates a response based on the reproduction rate, and yet with people bridling at the continued micromanagement from their governors, a more subtle approach might keep people going along until the vaccines become available to the general population.