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The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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December 13, 2019 • 25 Comments

As I’ve often mentioned, a striking example of the dysfunction of our social discourse is how we can make almost no progress on what ought to be one of our countries least intractable problems — Latino littering — because everytime anybody (e.g., Tucker Carlson, Amy Wax, or Ann Coulter) points out that we have a Latino littering problem, the Conventional Wisdom shrieks in outrage over this Blood Libel.

If you can get them to calm down a bit, they tend to back up to the claim that there is No Evidence.

Of course, there is plenty of evidence, but then they specify academic papers. And, in truth, our problem of Latino littering is understudied academically, precisely because so many influential people get spitting mad over it (for reasons that are much murkier, and of course haven’t been much studied at all).

But it does turn out that there are a few academic studies. For example: Carr and Williams, 1993, “Understanding the Role of Ethnicity in Outdoor Recreation Experiences” in the Journal of Leisure Research.

Carr and Williams interviewed people at four spots in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California, including the notorious East Fork of the San Gabriel River. They didn’t record behavior, just attitudes, but the findings were clear: Whites (Anglos) and American-born Chicanos had been well-indoctrinated in pro-social ideas about forests, while Latino immigrants had not. On the whole, SoCal Anglos & US-born Chicanos are aware that you shouldn’t litter in the mountains, while Latino immigrants aren’t. It turns out that the researchers arrived at roughly the same conclusions in 1993 that I did in 2013: Shaming people into not littering more or less works, as long as you try.

One explanation is that those of Anglo origin and more acculturated Hispanics, by virtue of their long-term residence in the United States, have been exposed to an intensive anti-litter, anti-fire campaign. The messages range from...

December 13, 2019 • 57 Comments

From ESPN:

Giants waive CB Janoris Jenkins after ‘offensive’ tweet to fan

7:19 AM PT
Jordan Raanan

The New York Giants waived cornerback Janoris Jenkins on Friday, two days after he made an inappropriate remark to a fan on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Jenkins called a critical fan a “retard” when taking exception to questioning about why the stats Jenkins was using to showcase his effectiveness weren’t contributing to victories.

Jenkins said Thursday that the usage of the word was “slang” that is “just part of my culture.”

What culture is NFL cornerback Janoris Jenkins? I don’t have a clue … He could be Samoan, white, South Asian …

Nah, just kidding. All 64 starting cornerbacks at the beginning of the last 16 NFL seasons have been black.

(For background, a cornerback is a football defensive back whose job is to guard one of the offensive team’s best wide receivers. The job is to inflict the maximum disruption of the offense’s carefully designed passing plays.)

Giants coach Pat Shurmur met with Jenkins on Wednesday and said in a statement Friday that Jenkins’ refusal to admit that what he did was wrong led to his release.

Hmmhmmmhh … an NFL cornerback who is aggressive, hostile, and self-assured … That’s NOT the kind of cornerback we want on this team! Here at the New York Giants, we like our cornerbacks meek and mild. We want them to sound like old NPR Morning Edition announcers.

“It was an unfortunate situation,” safety and captain Michael Thomas said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate.”

Jenkins, 31, had one year and $11.25 million remaining on his contract.

The Giants are 2-11 this year and probably aren’t going to be a whole lot better next year, so why pay a 30-something defender $11.25 million when you can wriggle out of your contractual obligation by being shocked, shocked that he used the word “retard”?...

December 13, 2019 • 57 Comments

From the New York Post:

Tessa Majors murder: Suspect, 13, arrested in stabbing of Barnard student
By Tina Moore, Larry Celona, Khristina Narizhnaya and Amanda Woods December 13, 2019 | 8:29am

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested in the fatal stabbing of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors — as new details emerged Friday about the murder.

Law enforcement sources told The Post the teen confessed to detectives that he and two of his middle-school buddies headed out Wednesday evening planning to pull off a string of muggings.

The menacing young trio first targeted a man in Morningside Park, near Barnard, in Manhattan, but for some reason, they got scared off, sources said.

Then they spotted Majors, a Virginia native and musician, near stairs at the park around West 116th Street and Morningside Drive, sources said.

The teens snuck up behind the 18-year-old woman, grabbed her and swiped her bag before stabbing her, sources said.

“He said they tried to rob her. Then she was stabbed, and she died,’’ a source said. “They were trying to rob her, she resisted, and they stabbed her.’’

… Paulina Pinsky, 27, a writer who went to Barnard as an undergrad and has lived in the area her whole life, said, “I think about that 13-year-old. I think about how desperate he must have been for something.”

How long until Ava DuVernay, director of “When They See Us” about the Central Park Five, is hired by Netflix to concoct a five part miniseries on how the Morningside Park Three’s beautiful black baby bodies were framed by whites?

By the way, have you noticed this too? Often when I click on a New York Post article, soon the fan on my computer comes on and my CPU slows down.

In general, right of center websites like the Post seem more prone to push the envelope of monetizing clicks in ways that generate big externalities for users.

December 13, 2019 • 45 Comments

From Bloomberg:

Taylor Swift Calls Out Soros Family in Fight With Private Equity

By Kelly Gilblom and Lucas Shaw
December 13, 2019, 1:20 PM PST
Investment firms helped finance the purchase of her old music
Carlyle and Soros didn’t do due diligence on deal, she says

Taylor Swift renewed her criticism of private equity, calling out the Carlyle Group and the Soros family for helping her nemesis Scooter Braun purchase the rights to her old music.

Well, to be precise, I haven’t been following the evolution of the Carlyle Group since 9/11, but it then had embarrassing / interesting connections to the Bin Ladens and Bushes. But she definitely mentioned “the Soros family” by name.

December 13, 2019 • 129 Comments

From PinkNews:

Jeremy Corbyn shares his pronouns in solidarity with trans community at PinkNews Awards
NICK DUFFY October 16, 2019

December 13, 2019 • 64 Comments

I found Congresswoman Tlaib’s Twitter bio of interest:

@RashidaTlaib
Unbossed Congresswoman for Michigan’s #13districtstrong

Mama working for justice, social worker at heart, Detroiter, Palestinian American, proud Muslima.

Detroit, MI RashidaForCongress.com Joined December 2011
2,552 Following 862.4K Followers

Is “Muslima” a word? Wouldn’t it be “Muslimah?” And how long until it becomes “Muslimx?”

December 13, 2019 • 55 Comments

From MedicalXpress, a website that writes up scientific papers:

Genome study shows that Iran’s population is more heterogeneous than previously believed
September 25, 2019
University of Cologne

The first genome-wide genetic characterization of the Iranian population reveals highly heterogeneous ethnic groups with a high degree of genetic variation. Members of eleven selected Iranian ethnic groups took place in the study, including large groups such as Iranian Persians and Azeri, but also smaller ones like Arabs, Baluchi, Gilaki and Kurds.

… In many cases, their source goes back many thousands of years. The results, obtained from the first genome-wide genetic characterization of the Iranian population by this team, appeared in PLOS Genetics, titled “Distinct genetic variation and heterogeneity of the Iranian population.”

The researchers analyzed the genetic data of 1,021 volunteers whose parents and grandparents identified themselves as belonging to one of 11 selected Iranian ethnic groups, including large groups such as Iranian Persians and Azeri, but also smaller ones like Arabs, Baluchi, Gilaki and Kurds. These volunteers were sampled all over Iran. They found out that Iranian Persians and Kurds, for example, exhibit high in-group genetic variation which is larger than that of, for example, Germans. However, the entire gene pool has remained largely unchanged over at least the past 5,000 years, but probably [not over] the past 10,000 years.

… Furthermore, Britons and North Italians are genetically more similar than some ethnic groups in Iran. “This was somewhat surprising,” Michael Nothnagel said. “Until recently, many scientists had assumed genetic variation across present-day Iranians to be rather homogeneous.”

My impression is that Middle Eastern culture has a strong tendency toward endogamy and passing on peoplehood. The Jews are the most famous Middle Eastern group that is still around, but there are...

December 12, 2019 • 24 Comments

A topic of perpetual amusement to me is how even though we are all supposed to believe that ex-men transgenders “always felt like a girl on the inside,” most of the ones who were prominent before their transitions, such as libertarian economist Donald/Deirdre McCloskey, were known for having extremely unfeminine minds. And still do.

You used to be able to mention that in the New York Times. For example, from the New York Times in 1999:

A Transsexual Economist’s 2d Transition; She Says Gender Determines One’s Approach to Her Field
By Louis Uchitelle
June 19, 1999

… No one has given Deirdre McCloskey more support through her gender-crossing than her 75-year-old mother, Helen McCloskey. She is the widow of a prominent Harvard professor, an expert on constitutional law who died of a heart attack in 1969, just as their eldest son, Donald, completed his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard and joined the University of Chicago faculty.

Helen McCloskey admired her husband’s achievements, which she associated with maleness, and she sees in Deirdre the same ”steely male intellectual quality” that her husband had, and Donald, too. Men, she argues, are the builders, the creators. … The subject of the steely male mind came up at breakfast.

”This is my firstborn, my wonderful, wonderful child who is so bright,” she said. ”One reason I can accept what she has done is that I do not see dramatic changes in her intellectual qualities acquired over a lifetime.”

The daughter is uncomfortable. ”Having done the steely bit,” Deirdre McCloskey said, ”I know where its cracks are, where its foolishnesses lie.” And the mother replied: ”Those are conclusions you could have come to as a man. It is a maturing process. I think that had you remained a man, you would have matured. You would have softened.”

December 12, 2019 • 139 Comments

Map of Spanish PISA results via /u/bulfcc on Reddit:

As usual, clear N-S gradient, if not as steep as in Italy.

Incidentally, the north is in demographic free-fall (2x deaths as births), while the south is stable (births~=deaths).

Here’s the data from 2018:

Not good, but a predictable pattern.

***

Thanks to another Twitter user (@caodivino), I learned that there are also regional IQ results for Portugal:

One surprisingly take away from the regional Portuguese IQ results is that Lisbon may be the single largest concentration of cognitive ability in the Iberian peninsula. OTOH, the rest of the country is similar to Southern Spain.

Spain has recently started to do marginally worse than Portugal in PISA assessments, though one must also adjust for Spain having more in the way of low quality immigrants.

Still, this does seem to be a good sign for Portugal moving some way to closing its inexplicably large productivity gap with Spain.

December 10, 2019 • 65 Comments
  • Sugonyaev, Konstantin, and Andrei Grigoriev. 2019. “Эффект Флинна в России.Экспериментальная Психология 12 (4): 50–61. [PDF]

This is the latest paper based on Sugonyaev’s n=238,363 database of Russian online test-takers run by the Ministry of Defense.

Refer to my two existing articles on this for more details on methodology:

Here is the keypoint graph from Sugonyaev and Grigoriev’s paper:

This shows a Flynn Effect of ~2 IQ points relative to the late Soviet era, sorting by date of birth.

Note that this broadly tallies with PISA results [see right], in which Russia moved up from a PISA-equivalent IQ of 95 (OECD mean = 100) amongst the ~1985-1994 cohorts (PISA 2000-2009), to around 97-98 by the time of the 1997-2003 cohorts (PISA 2012-2018).

Why might we expect to see a Flynn Effect in Russia?

Even though it has dysgenic reproduction patterns, like any other industrialized countries (and most of the Third World), Russia still hasn’t maximized gains from the environment. In particular, my long-standing thesis is that potential Russian IQ gains were largely nullified during the 1965-2000 period by the late Soviet era alcoholization crisis.

According to an OECD survey of adult cognitive skills c.2012, Russia has the second-lowest difference between the performance of its oldest (55-65 y/o) and youngest (16-24 y/o) cohort of any major industrialized country bar England & Northern Ireland. The Soviet alcoholization crisis began precisely around the mid-1960s, i.e. just around the time those 55-65 y/o’s had physically matured. Intermediate generations were wrecked, despite increasing wealth up through to the end of the USSR. Meanwhile, Russia’s Generation Z is coming of age at a time characterized by (a) alcoholization rates gradually returning to “normal country” levels; (b) greater wealth than any previous...

December 10, 2019 • 16 Comments

You may remember me writing about my visit to Volokolamsk in 2017, which did not leave the best impression. However, even these out of the way towns are steadily getting better, as my subsequent visit this summer would demonstrate.

***

Volokolamsk 2019

Some typical views driving about Volokolamsk. This is a monument to the Bus Driver.

The T-34 monument, a hallmark of small Russian towns that were heavily afflicted by the war.

This Italian restaurant (“Zotto”) opened up in front of the Volokolamsk Kremlin (covered in the old post) in late summer 2017, just a small time after my first time in Volokolamsk on coming back to Russia.

Crumbling commieblock with Wildberries screen.

***

Nativity of the Virgin Church

Founded in 1537, finished in 1541, at the site of a 13C monastery, where once upon a time dwelt Joseph Volotsky.

In the 1930s, as there were serving proto hierarchs Pavel Andreev, Alexander Zverev, Vladimir Smirnov, priest Dmitry Rozanov, and the novice Maria Vinogradova. All were killed in November 1937-February 1938.

***

Lenin Museum & Electricity Station

The Kashin Electricity Station, whose main claim to fame is that it was presented as the country’s first rural electric power station and that Lenin was present at its opening on November 14, 1920.

In reality, in the context of those times, it was all show – overall electricity production wouldn’t exceed 1916 levels until the mid-1920s.

 

***

Repairs

The Great Patriotic War memorial, whose sorry stated I had noted, has been fixed.

And the ruined Znamenskaya Church to the west of the town now looks to be in the final stages of restoration.

***

Monument to the 28 Panfilov Heroes

Constructed in 1975 to commemorate a Red Army “last stand” against the German advance that, in actuality, turned out to have been mostly made up.

***

Military Museum

That same site also features a much more recent WW2 military museum in a...

December 6, 2019 • 94 Comments

The PISA 2018 report has detailed regional data for Canada, Spain, and Kazakhstan (as well as more limited regional data for eight other countries), which you can find on pp.255-260 of PISA 2018 Results (Volume I) [excel].

We have already had maps of regional PISA-based IQ in Italy, Spain, Russia, and Germany, but this is the first time AFAIK that we have detailed regional results from Kazakhstan.

And here’s the data on which this is based:

Sources: Population data as of 2016; TFR data as if ~2009 (1, 2).

One of the nice things about HBD is that there are few surprises that go against intuition, and the regional PISA results from Kazakhstan are no exception to this.

(1) One can immediately make out the correlation between this, and areas of concentrated European (primarily Russian) settlement:

(2) The PISA-adjusted IQ of Kazakhstan is around 85.4 (relative to OECD), which is almost a standard deviation lower than Russia’s and well in line with Grigoriev & Lynn’s estimate of 87.7 (relative to UK).

(3) Kazakhstan’s two capitals – the old Soviet era capital of Almaty with 2 million residents (90.2), and the new capital of Astana (now Nur-Sultan), with 1 million residents (90.3) – are both significantly above the Kazakhstani mean. Furthermore, the gap, at around 5 IQ points, is similar to that between Moscow/SPB and the Russian average.

(4) All the correlations – between IQ and shares of ethnic Russians and Kazakhs; between fertility rates and IQ; and between fertility rates and shares of ethnic Russians and Kazakhs – are exactly as one would expect.

Incidentally, if one was to extrapolate the regression curve to 100% Kazakh or 100% Russian (no capitals), you’d get a Kazakh IQ of 78 and a Russian IQ of 103, respectively. Despite this method’s lack of rigor, this is still remarkably close to Grigoriev and Lynn’s estimates of a mean British IQ of 82.2 for Kazakhs and of 103.2 for Russians in...

December 2, 2019 • 358 Comments

PISA 2018 results dropping in a few hours.

https://www.oecd.org/pisa/

Use this thread for discussing them.

In particular, I am excited to finally get some definitive answers on the Ukrainian Question. (And Belarus).

***

UPDATE: The results are in. Raw data.

***

My classic IQ related articles:

Those of you who can read Russian can also check out my article Русская Ноосфера: масштабный обзор уровня IQ по регионам России for Sputnik & Pogrom.

In the next few weeks, I plan to augment that article with the new data from Ministry of Defense online cognitive abilities testing, as well as the PISA 2018 results. Then translate/convert it into English for publication at The Unz Review.

December 2, 2019 • 91 Comments

As I have written in prior posts, Russian demographics continues to improve as it has throughout the Putin era (Russian Demographics in 2019).

Life expectancy is going up very rapidly, constituting a new record of 73.6 years as of the first eight months of this year. Deaths from external causes continue to plummet, including homicide rates, which will probably fall below American levels this year for the first time since the late 1980s. Deaths from external causes, and abortion rates, also continue to converge to “normality”.

But the one big exception in this otherwise positive picture is fertility rates, which have plummeted from a post-Soviet high of 1.78 children per woman in 2015 to 1.58 in 2018, and are set to drop below 1.50 this year.

Now in fairness, this is a worldwide trend, which demographics blogger Cicerone has chronicled on Twitter. Its causes are unclear. Even so, the fertility retreat in the post-Soviet world has been particularly abrupt, having already annulled about half the recovery relative to the post-Soviet nadir in Russia and Belarus (and almost completely so in the Ukraine).

If this continues, then Russia’s future population trends will hew to my (modified) “Low” prediction from 2008, which sees a stagnation/slight decline in Russia’s population through to 2050.

That said, I will continue to maintain that this is a temporary reversal, at least in Russia’s case, on the basis of two pieces of evidence.

1. Russia’s fertility preferences remain relatively high compared to other European countries.

A year ago, I wrote a history of Russian fertility preferences. I have now become aware that the Levada Center has also been carrying out polls on this topic, and the latest data have desired Russian fertility creeping up to late Soviet era highs (2.63 children per woman as of October 2019). This is in sync with a 2018 poll from VCIOM that suggested Russians desired 2.57 children per woman, up from 2.32...

December 1, 2019 • 215 Comments

Is the talking point I’d use if I was in the business of making pro-Russia propaganda.

Poll:

Of course, a more accurate summary is that there has been no major change in this indicator since records began.

This hasn’t stopped the Western media from weaponizing the latest Levada poll to blare out the onset of the nth wave of Russian youth fleeing from PUTLER.

… based on a modest uptick in the percentage of 18-24 y/o’s saying they want to emigrate (blue).

But young people everywhere are more energetic and explorative, so to get a better picture of whether Russians truly hate living in their own country you’d have to compare like to like, e.g. all age groups.

The percentage of all Russians wishing to emigrate as of this September 2019 poll is at 21%, which is somewhat higher but broadly in line with the long-term average.

Meanwhile, 20%-21% of EU citizens have wanted to emigrate to another country during the 2010-2017 period – basically the exact same figure as in Russia now.

December 1, 2019 • 71 Comments

There’s one crucial difference, and not many people seem to recognize its importance.

“ZOG” pretty much controls the US, which has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of the rest of the world (and 63% of US voters), curtailed its otherwise extensive freedom of speech protections by criminalizing the BDS movement, and whose Conservatism Inc. division shuts down questions about the USS Liberty meme as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. The social pressure against discussing these basic questions and the genuine fervor with which many American boomercon normies support the “greatest ally” rhetoric must make things even more enraging.

Conversely, ZOG doesn’t rule Russia. The power of the Jewish Lobby in Russia is so modest that even the Armenians have more influence (Foreign Minister – Lavrov, RT head honcho – Simonyan, etc).

Sometimes, things really are as simple as they seem. This succinctly explains why the Alt Right in the US is obsessed with Jews, whereas Russian nationalists generally are not.

This was not always the case. In the 1990s, when “ZOG” did have large influence over Russia (see Semibankirschina), the “patriotic opposition” movements were dominated by entities such as National Bolsheviks and various other “red-brownists”. But since then, the political influence of the Jewish oligarchs has been severely curtailed, so much so that it has long ceased to make sense to even call them “oligarchs.” In the most comprehensive ethnic survey of Russian oligarchs to date, Jews made up 20% of the individual billionaires and 25% of their aggregate capital. Massively disproportional relative to their share of the population, to be sure, but nonetheless cardinally different from the situation two decades ago. And, needless to say, Russia doesn’t serve as Israel’s bulldog on the international arena.

Consequently, there’s no reason for...

December 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

In addition to repeatedly pointing out how gun grabbing is a geezer’s game rather than child’s play, another hobby horse is drawing attention to the fact that women are more pro-life and less pro-choice than men are*. In 2018, the GSS asked for the first time about the moral dimension of abortion. Among women with a firm opinion, most think abortion is immoral. Among men with a firm opinion, most do not think it immoral:

Given that women are generally more left-leaning than men are, this is all the more remarkable. Do not be fooled into thinking pussyhats are representative. NAWALT! Really, most women aren’t.

According to the GSS, though, most women (53% of them) who do not think abortion is immoral report experiencing poor mental health over the last month, while the majority of women (also 53% of them) who think abortion is immoral report no mental health issues. Empirically investigating stereotypes is our raison d’etre, don’t forget!

GSS variables used: ABMORAL, SEX, MNTLHLTH(0)(1-30)

* This trend is not as pronounced as the inverse relationship between age and support for gun grabbing is, and some polls find women to be modestly more pro-choice or no less pro-choice than men. To pretend that the issue breaks along gender lines though, as the corporate media so often does, is blatantly dishonest.

December 14, 2019 • 3 Comments

Cell phone video of a white boy being pummeled by several black kids on a public school bus in Florida:

From blacks being sent to the back of the bus to whites already there being savagely beaten for sport in a couple of generations.

Parenthetically, I’ve not seen evidence this attack was motivated by the victim’s support for president Trump. Maybe that’s being glommed on for the sake of sensationalizing the story, but the incident is actually more sobering if it has nothing to do with national politics than if it does.

After tracking down the combined middle- and high-school the students involved attended, I took a look at the school’s demographics:

Very diverse.

The school gets terrible marks across the board, but we can rest easy knowing that “diversity in school leads to long-term benefits for students”. Seriously, greatschools.org is a great resource, but the sort of activism it advocates will accentuate problems rather than ameliorate them:

I’d say the video provides a clue about the answer! On the other hand, white students at Hamilton are suspended at higher rates than blacks in the state of Florida on the whole are. This is hollowed out, drug-addicted, flyover America at its worst.

It’s tedious to have to perpetually repeat the point, but sources like World Star Hiphop and Colin Flaherty daily showcase incidents that would be, were the races reversed, national news stories replete with great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Because they get the Who? Whom? wrong, though, they stay confined to World Star and Flaherty, receiving a story or two in the local news at most.

Hamilton is a poor county in north...

December 12, 2019 • 27 Comments

From news on the Conservative party’s big night:

The first big Labour scalp claimed by the Tories was shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman, who lost Workington on another 10% swing.

The typically working class ‘Workington Man’ voter was identified as a key target by a right wing think tank at the start of the election campaign.

Imagine if the unthinkable happens–this stunningly unexpected, enormous tactical gamble becomes a sustained political strategy.

December 11, 2019 • 66 Comments

It’s yet to be seen whether Trump’s stamp on the Republican electorate will be indelible or wash away once he’s gone. Since becoming the de facto spiritual leader of the party in late 2015, though, immigration has jettisoned to the top of the issue importance list and free trade has come to be seen if not as the god that failed then at least as the god whose worshipers are experiencing a serious crisis of faith.

The following graph shows percentages, by selected demographic characteristics, who say it is more important “to keep industrial jobs in the U.S., even if prices in stores are higher” than it is “to keep prices low, even if some jobs are lost”. “Not sure” responses, constituting 24% of the total respondent pool, are excluded:

Libertarians wept.

The next graph shows pro-trade deal sentiment as measured by support for “the federal government negotiating more free trade agreements like NAFTA”. Sentiment is calculated as (2*%strongly support)+(%somewhat support)-(%somewhat oppose)-(2*%strongly oppose). “Not sure” responses are treated as falling between “somewhat support” and “somewhat oppose”:

Democrats are the real free trade extremists!

Cato and Koch are out. Who’s in to replace them remains an open question. There are rumors of a Peter Thiel damascene conversion. But why stop there? Mr. Michael “Borders, Language, Culture” Savage has a son worth twice what Thiel is. Let’s populist like a rockstar, already!

December 9, 2019 • 166 Comments

2020 electoral maps based on RCP general election polling for Trump vs Biden, Sanders, and Warren through December 9th, 2019 follow.

The Biden brutalization:

The RCP average has Trump beating Biden in Texas by less than one point, and Texas was one of eleven states where Trump performed worse in the actual election than polling predicted he would in 2016. If Biden wins Texas in this scenario, the electoral blowout intensifies to 406-132.

Texas’ time is near. Being the only state in the country where whites vote more Republican than non-whites vote Democrat is not going to be enough in a place that is 41% white and falling and where just one-in-three births are to white babies.

On the other hand, Trump could have traded mighty Texas to Hillary in exchange for tiny New Hampshire and still won in 2016.

On the other other hand, Georgia may flip before Texas does, and once both have gone blue the GOP will have to take both Minnesota and Maine to fight to a 269-269 draw.

From the GOP’s perspective, Texas and Georgia are terminal but the party’s electoral winter need not necessarily set in during the 2020s. If the party is able to sustain its 2016 gains in the upper Midwest while additionally picking off a couple of small New England states like Maine and New Hampshire, Republicans could continue to win presidential elections into the 2040s.

Polling up to this point shows Trump not only getting crushed in Michigan and Pennsylvania but also beaten in Ohio, so seeing the path to continued electoral relevance and managing to walk down it are two very different things.

The Sanders savaging:

The Warren whipping:

Polling is incomplete for the rest of the Democrat field. Several states also have results for Buttigieg, but a few do not. He falls in between Sanders and Warren in how he fares against Trump in the states he’s included in.

Though the polls portend Republican disaster, the markets have general election chances at close to a coin flip, Republicans...

December 8, 2019 • 26 Comments

Are there any municipalities in the US that provide home owners the option of making a lifetime property tax payment exempting them from property tax liabilities in the future? I’d envision something like this–a property is assessed at $100,000 and the county rate is 1.5%. The owner’s annual property tax bill is thus $1,500. The county offers to waive all future property tax assessments on the property for as long as the owner remains alive and retains the property for something like ten times that annual rate of 1.5%. If the owner takes offer and pays $15,000, he never has to pay again.

Searching around, I’m unable to find any such arrangement. I’m not sure why. Reducing current budget shortfalls at the expense of the solvency of future budgets is hardly unique in the world of government finance. Third-party lenders would step in, but it’s not obvious why that be a bug rather than a feature.

I’d think it would be an attractive revenue generator for local pols concerned about this year’s budget but not budgets a decade out, though it appears I’m incorrect. Countries that don’t have property taxes essentially mandate this by levying a stamp duty on property taxes. Monaco, for example, collects 6%-7% on property transactions but does not levy property taxes, so there is international precedent for it.

December 8, 2019 • 29 Comments

COTW from Charles Pewitt:

If the so-called economy is “booming” according the corporate propaganda apparatus, why can’t the privately-controlled Federal Reserve Bank raise the federal funds rate above 3 percent? The answer is that the asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate would immediately implode if the federal funds rate were to got to 4 percent, and that is 2 percent less than the normal fed funds rate of 6 percent.

The Fed attempted to gently increase the federal funds rate in 2018 with the stated intention of raising them four consecutive times in 2019. The result was one of the worst Decembers in the history of the American stock market. Instead of raising, the Fed has cut three times this year.

That the funds rate is headed to zero means we’re approaching the ultimate stress test for the global credit system. How does a system based on debt survive sustained nominal negative interest rates? In such a hypothetical scenario that will become all too real sometime in the next couple of years, cash under the mattress will generate a better real return than treasuries will. But the enormous asset bubble is sustained by credit, the credit is sustained by treasury debt, and the treasuries are sustained by providing a better return than cash. If cash provides investors a higher return than treasuries, investors will pull cash out of the system.

When a dollar is pulled out of the system, the total nominal value of the asset bubble declines by much more than one dollar. When that dollar was in the credit system, it was booked as an asset on the balance sheets of several institutions. I give the dollar to the branch bank, the branch bank gives it to an investment bank, the investment bank gives it to another investment bank, that investment bank gives it to a private company, that private company gives it to a supplier, that supplier gives it to a fund manager, that fund manager… at this point that single dollar is now counted as an...

December 7, 2019 • 62 Comments

That used to be a frequent refrain on Radio Derb. Though the gag has been made emeritus, the advice is even better today than it was when the Derb introduced it. As he explains:

The percentage breakdown is private-sector 76 percent, government 16 percent, self-employed 8 percent.

So one in six of us works for a government, federal, state, or local.

Which group does best on salary? Go on: see if you can guess. It’s government workers, of course. Median earnings 52½ thousand. That’s six percent higher than the self-employed and fourteen percent higher than the poor shlubs toiling away in the private sector.

If you break down government workers into two further categories, state and local workers in category one, federal workers in category two, which does better?

Again, which did you think? Federal workers are way out ahead, median earnings 66 thousand. Even state and local government workers are ahead of us private-sector and self-employed losers, though.

Moral of the story: Get a government job! — federal for strong preference.

The public is in broad agreement. A recent YouGov survey asked respondents if they would encourage or discourage a young person considering working for the federal government from doing so. The following graph shows net encouragement by selected demographic characteristics. Net encouragement is calculated by figuring (2*%strongly encourage)+(%somewhat encourage)-(%somewhat discourage)-(2*%strongly discourage):

Responses for all groups are positive on net. That is, everyone is generally encouraging of the idea–old black Democrats especially so.

Though it is well known that a government gig is a gravy train, opinions of the people with said gigs is embarrassingly low as the results from several additional survey questions show.

First, how frequently the government can be trusted “to do what’s right”:

Uh, it looks like a couple of relevant potential responses are missing there. It’s not a transcription...