“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.”
― C. S. Lewis

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Trump head fakes a veto

...decides swamp is a wetland.

Trump is signing an insane anti-budget delivered to him by a Congress of Fools.

Economically unhinged. Justified as funding the military, but an existential threat to the country.

$500 million for Planned Parenthood. NICS checks to be changed to keep some Seniors from owning guns. Continued funding of sanctuary cities. 25% of the Bill's paper volume is dedicated to earmarks.

Democrats made me do it. Trust me, I won't do it again.


Science Contemptists

A few examples of those who have attracted Progressive contempt because they point out uncontroversial scientific facts Social Justice Warriors don't want you to hear:
Dr. Charles Murray. Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers. Dr. Judith Curry. Dr. Jordan Peterson. James Damore. Dr. Amy Wax. Dr. Bret Weinstein. Lindsay Shepherd.

Dr. David Reich bravely makes a bid to join them. RTWT: How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’, but here's a short excerpt.

What makes genetic racial stereotyping,
[S]o insidious is that [these claims] start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes. They use the reluctance of the academic community to openly discuss these fraught issues to provide rhetorical cover for hateful ideas and old racist canards.

This is why knowledgeable scientists must speak out. If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing differences among populations, we risk losing the trust of the public and we actively contribute to the distrust of expertise that is now so prevalent. We leave a vacuum that gets filled by pseudoscience, an outcome that is far worse than anything we could achieve by talking openly...

...a natural response to the challenge is to learn from the example of the biological differences that exist between males and females. The differences between the sexes are far more profound than those that exist among human populations, reflecting more than 100 million years of evolution and adaptation. Males and females differ by huge tracts of genetic material — a Y chromosome that males have and that females don’t, and a second X chromosome that females have and males don’t.

Most everyone accepts that the biological differences between males and females are profound. In addition to anatomical differences, men and women exhibit average differences in size and physical strength. (There are also average differences in temperament and behavior, though there are important unresolved questions about the extent to which these differences are influenced by social expectations and upbringing.)

How do we accommodate the biological differences between men and women? I think the answer is obvious: We should both recognize that genetic differences between males and females exist and we should accord each sex the same freedoms and opportunities regardless of those differences.
A few thoughts.

"[R]eluctance of the academic community to openly discuss," is a serious misunderestimation. Try, "The academic community openly and actively suppresses."

"If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing...", well anything the SJWs don't like discussed, we avoid censure and unemployment.

"[T]here are important unresolved questions." Not for the Left. Not about sex, gender, climate change or race.

As populations go, "most everyone" is far less likely to be true if the population is university professors of Sociology, English, Education, or anything ending in "Studies." The denial of biological difference between men and women, for example, is seriously advanced by many credentialed academics. To present the case, we have Dr. Nicholas Matte, professor of gender studies at University of Toronto:

Dr. Matte is but one academiot forced by postmodernist dogma to make such assertions, because to allow discussion of an inconvenient scientific fact threatens his life's work. Better to impugn the scientific method. Better to equate speech you don't like with violence. Better to be a laughingstock.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Google's new motto...

...Don't be Facebook.
At Google, of course, that would not mean "respect user's privacy." It would mean "don't get caught."

I see Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reacting to his company's poor user-data stewardship by inviting regulation. Not regulation of his company; he's asking for political advertising to be regulated.
“Actually, I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with CNN that represented some of his first public remarks since the Cambridge Analytica controversy plunged his company into crisis and led to calls for his testimony before Congress.

“I actually think the question is more ‘What is the right regulation?’ rather than ‘Yes or no, should it be regulated?’” Zuckerberg told CNN.

The Facebook CEO said that “he would love to see” new transparency regulations for political advertisements. Facebook has been criticized for a lack of transparency.
OK, Mr. Zuckerberg, I'll take a shot at "What is the right regulation?"

First, it's not about political advertising. You're looking to make government regulation a CYA for Facebook: "Look, we followed the regulations!" You're asking to "consult" with government on how political advertising should be constrained. Foxes. Henhouse. Plus a helping of partisanship and financial self-interest.

Advertising isn't the problem. The problem is your business model and its intentional lack of honesty.

The regulation of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Apple, etc. should start from the premise that users own their identity data, including when it's aggregated. This enables micro-payments to those whose data is aggregated, each time it is accessed or updated. Basically, an identity copyright law. You're using my identity, you have to pay me.

Defining ownership of the data as the individual’s would require absolute positive opt-in - data can’t be sold without payment and unless specific permission is given. Big Data like their interminable click-through contracts; they love changing the terms of service at will; they love hiding the opt-out buttons. We need these contracts re-written. One thing would happen for sure; the mandatory opt-in buttons would be prominent and they would list the payment to be gained.

Granting ownership of users' data to users also encourages companies who gather and store it to be careful with it as a fiduciary duty. CEO Zuckerberg appears to agree that that is a good idea.
On Wednesday afternoon, Zuckerberg published a post promising to audit and restrict developer access to user data, “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you.”
He's right, Facebook doesn't deserve to serve you for exactly the reason he gave. The word "serve" in that sentence can be interpreted in two very different ways. Zuckerberg is only too happy to "serve" you to advertisers. This attitude is long standing, as noted by the New Yorker in 2010
In [an] exchange leaked to Silicon Alley Insider, Zuckerberg explained to a friend that his control of Facebook gave him access to any information he wanted on any Harvard student:

Zuck: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard

Zuck: just ask

Zuck: i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns

Friend: what!? how’d you manage that one?

Zuck: people just submitted it

Zuck: i don’t know why

Zuck: they “trust me”

Zuck: dumb f*cks

While Zuckerberg claims he's matured since that exchange, "if you ever need any information" nonetheless remains the raison d'être of Facebook. Zuckerberg went on to say, “I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again.” Well, since privacy violations and sleazy ethical conduct just keep happening, he must be a slow learner.

In 2006 Facebook’s introduction of "News Feed" made information public that users had intended to keep private. In 2009, Facebook made posts public by default, when they had been private, again by simply changing its ToS. That attracted the attention of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In 2011, Facebook was caught tracking you with its cookies even after you had logged out. Zuckerberg is worried about regulating advertising, but Facebook had no problem in 2013 with the posting of beheading videos. In 2014, the company was forced to acknowledge that it had conducted a psychology experiment intended to manipulate users’ emotions.

The current angst over Cambridge Analytics should be directed at Facebook business practices. The same thing happened in 2012 with the Obama campaign - except with Facebook's active participation. At the time this was considered a clever advertising use of social media by the Democrats.

So, suddenly, 6 years later, Zuckerberg wants political advertising regulated? You know he made the offer because his lobbyists would write the legislation. It'll turn into a barrier to competition while likely eroding freedom of speech.

Facebook has repeatedly violated agreements with users, changed ToS without warning, hidden privacy controls deep within users' profiles, made and allowed unethical use of its data, and directly participated in targeting election advertising. Maybe they'd be more careful, ethical and transparent if you owned the data.

A final word from Zuckerberg:
The real question for me is, do people have the tools that they need in order to make those decisions well? And I think that it's actually really important that Facebook continually makes it easier and easier to make those decisions... If people feel like they don't have control over how they're sharing things, then we're failing them.
Only one way to fix that. Give them control.

Further reading on owning your own identity:
Who owns your identity?
Google's Alphabet, "A" is for amoral

Monday, March 19, 2018


Protectionism is trickling down from Washington, and leading the charge is Michigan state Senator Rick Jones, yet another economically undereducated Republican.

At present, Michigan buys road salt on a best price basis. However, our legislators are discussing a 6% tariff (note: this was originally 8%, as some of the articles quoted below state) on salt purchased out of state. There seems to be only one company which would benefit from the tariff.

Road salt bid bill could raise prices for Michigan
In 2017, the state awarded nearly $16 million in contracts for 349,265 tons of salt. Detroit Salt Co. was awarded $4.4 million of that, while Compass Minerals was awarded $9.8 million, according to the DTMB. The remainder went to Morton Salt and Cargill.

More purchases are made by local governments, according to Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the DTMB. State and local governments spent a combined $48.1 million on road salt in 2017...

Detroit Salt has about $20.1 million worth of contracts with Michigan, about one-fifth of the state’s total, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis.
This Detroit News article is confusing. If $20 million is one-fifth of the state total it adds up to $100 million - more than the $64 million (16+48) the article otherwise suggests. Or is $48 million the total of "State and local government" salt purchases?

The numbers also don't square with the statement that Detroit Salt has one-fifth of the state contracts AND $4.4 million of $16 million in state contracts - which is more than a quarter. Either we already pay Detroit Salt above market prices, these are multi-year contracts or something else is going on that the article fails to reconcile. In any case, we can derive some reasonable approximations using other sources.

I looked to a state of Michigan Attorney General's report on the Winter of 2014-2015. Following are some notes from that report:

It was recently reported that public agencies in Michigan use nearly 2 million tons of salt annually to clear snow and ice.8

The contracts expire on August 31, 2016, with two 1-year options, but prices are rebid every spring. The contracts serve MDOT, and approximately 300 local public entities.

According to MDOT, the 2014-2015 winter season average cost of road salt for the state and local road agencies was $65.81 per ton...

Compass [Minerals] was also the only bidder in 2014-2015 in all of the counties in the top half of the Lower Peninsula, including Missaukee County...

The mine is [2014] currently running at full capacity...

Detroit Salt did not have enough inventory to bid on all of the MiDEAL requests.
What does this tell us?

1- The cost of the 2 million tons of salt used in 2014-2015 was approximately $132 million.

2- Contracts are multi-year, but get repriced.

3- Northern counties in the lower peninsula can be glad they had out of state suppliers.

4- In 2014 Detroit Salt was running at capacity and had depleted inventory. Employment couldn't be increased.

And if you read pages 20 and 21 of that report, you'll see some of Detroit Salt's problems were self-inflicted. Notably, their choice of delivery methods.

To preserve some fraction of Detroit Salt jobs, Senator Jones is asking taxpayers for $8 million in taxes. That's nearly $113,000 per job/per year, assuming all 70 jobs are at risk. It's likely, though, that we're not talking about total layoffs, so the cost per job "saved" would be much higher.

The minimum annual $113,000 cost per job also ignores the cost to distributors, private users of road salt, and truckers. Neither does it consider the negative effect on employment in salt related businesses. It doesn't contemplate the possible deterioration of roads, or increases in accidents due to more parsimonious use of road salt. It doesn't recognize lost opportunity costs; every extra dollar spent on salt could have gone to fix potholes. Those things are unseen by Senator Jones.

It's worth noting that Detroit Salt is a subsidiary of the Kissner Group, a Canadian company.

Detroit Salt's leading competitor, Compass Minerals, is a US company operating a mine in Canada (Goderich, Ontario), while Detroit Salt is a Canadian company operating a mine in the US. So, the only possible point of this tariff is to "save" a few jobs at a single Michigan company outside of Senator Jones' district. More from Crain's: Bill seeks to help Detroit Salt gain edge over Canadian firms
The only Michigan company that sells a mined product to the state is Detroit Salt, which employs about 60 people on Sanders Street in southwest Detroit...

Sen. Rick Jones, a Republican from Grand Ledge who sponsored the bill, says the state should do what it can to protect Michigan workers' jobs. He said he's not concerned that the state might grant an incentive to a company with Canadian ownership, in part to offset competition by other Canadian suppliers.

"You call it a Canadian company," Jones said. "I call it Americans, Michiganders, working here in the state of Michigan, and we need to support them and not workers somewhere else. If it is based here and providing 60 to 80 jobs to people here in Michigan, I consider it a Michigan company."
I call it a subsidy to the Kissner Group.

Purchases of salt mined in Ohio would also be affected. Ohio already has tariffs on salt similar to the Michigan proposal, but they don't apply them to Michigan. Senator Jones' bill would apply our tariff to Ohio. I wonder how long Ohio will continue Michigan's exemption?

One would have expected this to be a violation of the Commerce Clause in either case. Apparently, "an exception to the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause applies to states if state government is acting as a participant in the market and not a regulator." This is semantic gymnastics. It's regulation by price-fixing.

All this central planning seems to be at cross purposes, with taxpayers caught in the middle by politicians pandering to populist economic ignorance. It's just too complicated for them to pick winners and losers. One reason for the lower price for Canadian salt is said to be the $CDN/$US exchange rate: Something our president complains is an economic weapon in China's hands. Simultaneously, he is doing his best to weaken the Canadian dollar by threatening to blow up NAFTA. Meanwhile, Rick Jones is clueless about anything except buying votes with your money.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Negotiating tactic

I keep seeing this defense of the President's tariff policy: "The threat of trade war is just a smart negotiating tactic. Chill out."

I concede the possibility that it is a negotiating tactic. However, that doesn't make it an intelligent or wise negotiating tactic.

One problem is that lying about the economic effects of tariffs encourages Americans’ economic ignorance; which is already a yuge, yuge problem.

If Trump was insisting global warming is caused by humans and that female pay is 75% of male pay, how would that work out? Those are economic negotiating positions, too. And they are lies.

Trump Doesn't Understand How Tariffs Work, Brags About Making Up Trade Stats

Update 5:50PM
Edits for clarity

Sunday, March 11, 2018


I'm re-posting a piece (slightly shortened) from August 2012, because I want to present experimental results supporting its thesis.

The evidence comes from psychology professor Jonathan Haidt, referenced in an article from Quillette which is linked and quoted following the re-post, and is worth reading in full.

In 2015, Haidt started Heterodox Academy in order to promote Viewpoint Diversity in the Academy.

In the following when I use the word Liberal with a capital "L," I mean Progressives, as very distinct from classical liberals. It is unfortunate that Progressives hijacked the word liberal. That might have been their last actual idea. It has forced us to say "classical liberal" in general conversation so as to be understood.

Also, the author to whom I was reacting used "liberal," and explaining why she was wrong would have lengthened an already longish post. Not to mention attempting to decode her point that Liberals aren't left, using 3 or 4 different terms.

Liberal Ayn Rand?

At Slate, Beverly Gage asks "Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?"
Ask Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan how he became a conservative and he’ll probably answer by citing a book. It might be Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Or perhaps he’ll come up with Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, or even Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. All of these books are staples of the modern conservative canon, works with the reputed power to radicalize even the most tepid Republican. Over the last half-century, they have been vital to the conservative movement’s success—and to liberalism’s demise.

We tend to think of the conservative influence in purely political terms: electing Ronald Reagan in 1980, picking away at Social Security, reducing taxes for the wealthy.
The answer to "Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?" is right there, in the first sentence of the second paragraph. It's blindingly obvious (it's even Ms Gage's point) that "Liberals" don't think in terms of ideas. Ideas are hard work, intentions are easier. Liberals like to think in terms of intentions, and mostly they think in terms of how they interpret the intentions of others based on their own intentions to improve humanity. Liberals don't think like free people, they think in terms of how to apply power to the purpose of perfecting their fellows. To a Liberal, making everybody else perfect is what Liberty means...

You might as well ask why there's no "Liberal" John Galt. A question you couldn't ask if you'd bothered to pay attention to certain compelling arguments from your opposition. Even if the ideas weren't compelling to you, would the demands of diversity not require you to attempt to understand? Would not a reasoned defense of your own ideas demand it?

And here the answer is again - in the first sentence of the third paragraph:
Liberals, by contrast, have been moving in the other direction over the last half-century, abandoning the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools. This may seem like a strange statement at a moment when American universities are widely understood to be bastions of liberalism, and when liberals themselves are often derided as eggheaded elites. But there is a difference between policy smarts honed in college classrooms and the kind of intellectual conversation that keeps a movement together. What conservatives have developed is what the left used to describe as a “movement culture”: a shared set of ideas and texts that bind activists together in common cause. Liberals, take note.
But it's yet more subtle than that. First, the tea party people needed no institutional bastion of conservatism, controlled by an insular elite, to "re-educate" them. They'd have a hard time finding one if they did. They didn't need the ivory tower re-education camps in the first place. They get it innately. They fundamentally understand it. When they read Ayn Rand, they can see today's headlines. Our president's [then Obama] success as a community organizer doesn't make them swell with pride. Rather, it reminds them of Wesley Mouch.

"Liberals" have not abandoned the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools, they have abandoned the idea that anyone but them is allowed ideas. They are shocked, shocked when anyone deigns to challenge their intentions.
Liberals have channeled their energies even more narrowly over the past half-century, tending to prefer policy tweaks and electoral mapping to big-picture thinking. When was the last time you saw a prominent liberal politician ascribe his or her passion and interest in politics to, of all things, a book? The most dogged insistence on the influence of Obama’s early reading has come from his TeaParty critics, who fume constantly that he is about to carry out a secret plan laid out a half century ago by far-left writers ranging from Alinsky, the granddaddy of “community organizing,” to social reformer Frances Fox Piven.
In fact, no. Tea party criticism is not about the books Obama may have read, it's about the books he "wrote."
Liberals may argue that they are better off knocking on doors and brainstorming policy than muddling through the great works of midcentury America.
Policy without theory is untestable, and I can see why "Liberals" would consider that a strength. It allows them the excuse that without Obama's stimulus the unemployment rate he promised wouldn't go over 8%, but hit 10% (and more), deserves a Mulligan. He meant well.

And that Obama predicted the unemployment rate, with stimulus, would now be 5.6% is irrelevant. Get that? Not below 6%, but 5point6%. This is the same administration that quibbled over whether an unemployment rate of 8.254% should be reported as 8.3%.

So much for the precision wisdom of the centralized planners. You know, those very same people who turn out to be even more wrong than our president... in some book written by Ayn Rand...

And, finally, a note is required on the lead sentence of the closing paragraph:
In the current election this means that liberals also run the unnecessary risk of ceding intellectual authority to the right.
Excuse me, but this is the risk Liberals continually choose. They do it gleefully, confident in the ascendance of their intentions, and with no thought about ideas. There is no necessary or unnecessary when peering down from the summit of moral superiority.

This election may represent increased risk for those who don't have, or care about, ideas; but they don't care enough to read Atlas Shrugged or Capitalism and Freedom to find out about the ideas that oppose them. Many of us who've read Atlas, have also read Das Kapital and Rules for Radicals and The Black Book of Communism. We have some idea what we're up against, and, unlike Ms Gage, we can even name Liberals we used to consider serious thinkers. We were wrong, but we could say why.


Liberals have largely lost the ability to respond to ideas. Ideas not their own make them angry. They have come to see ideas as the instruments by which they become victims. Ideas with which they disagree are, therefore, literally violence.

Now, I'd like to turn to professor Haidt as quoted at Quillette, for psychological research showing how Liberal disdain for ideas damages their ability to think. Not that they care: To them, it's a feature, not a bug.
The Psychology of Progressive Hostility

In his remarkable book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, [Jonathan] Haidt recalls a telling experiment. He and his colleagues Brian Nosek and Jesse Graham sought to discover how well conservative and what Haidt terms ‘liberal’ (ie: progressive) students understood one another by having them answer moral questions as they thought their political opponents would answer them. “The results were clear and consistent,” remarks Haidt. “In all analyses, conservatives were more accurate than liberals.” Asked to think the way a liberal thinks, conservatives answered moral questions just as the liberal would answer them, but liberal students were unable to do the reverse. Rather, they seemed to put moral ideas into the mouths of conservatives that they don’t hold. To put it bluntly, Haidt and his colleagues found that progressives don’t understand conservatives the way conservatives understand progressives. This he calls the ‘conservative advantage,’ and it goes a long way in explaining the different ways each side deals with opinions unlike their own. People get angry at what they don’t understand, and an all-progressive education ensures that they don’t understand.

Haidt’s research echoes arguments made by Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions and Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate. Both Sowell and Pinker contend that conservatives see an unfortunate world of moral trade-offs in which every moral judgment comes with costs that must be properly balanced. Progressives, on the other hand, seem to be blind to, or in denial about, these trade-offs, whether economic and social; theirs is a utopian or unconstrained vision, in which every moral grievance must be immediately extinguished until we have perfected society. This is why conservatives don’t tend to express the same emotional hostility as the Left; a deeper grasp of the world’s complexity has the effect of encouraging intellectual humility. The conservative hears the progressive’s latest demands and says, “I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but I think you’ve overlooked the following…” In contrast, the progressive hears the conservative and thinks, “I have no idea why you would believe that. You’re probably a racist.”
"Liberals" don't think in terms of ideas. And worse than that, they've come to think in terms of stifling ideas. This makes them resistant to persuasion; which explains how they can claim skepticism about "climate change" is anti-science, while simultaneously denying there is any biological difference between men and women; describing science as racist; decrying rigor in engineering; and rejecting the theory of evolution.

It's all intentional, if devoid of actual ideas.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


A very short history of US steel making after WWII.

How the U.S. Squandered Its Steel Superiority

In the early 50’s the Europeans were rebuilding their steel industry with new technology:
"The cost of building steel mills using the basic-oxygen furnaces was 40 to 50 percent lower than conventional open-hearth factories; operating costs were 25 percent lower, though some studies suggested even greater cost savings.

But it was the productivity gains associated with the new process that should have really raised eyebrows. One factory that made the shift could produce 40 tons of steel per hour using the open-hearth process, but after installing basic-oxygen equipment, it managed to quadruple that figure.

Unfortunately, Big Steel was too proud to notice Europe gaining ground. In a typical advertisement from the era, U.S. Steel claimed it was a company “where the big idea is innovation.” But this claim -- much like so many of the braggadocios claims of today -- could not hide a more disturbing reality.

Indeed, throughout the 1950s, as Europe’s steelmakers built new factories around the basic-oxygen process and simultaneously demolished its remaining open-hearth furnaces, Big Steel made endless excuses. Representatives of the Big Three -- Bethlehem, U.S. Steel, and Republic -- repeatedly claimed that the jury was out on the new method, all evidence to the contrary."
And by the 60’s little mammals were nipping at the heels of the Big Steel dinosaurs. It’s quite ironic that one of the biggest corporatists now whining for protection is Nucor, whose success was profiled by Clayton Christensen in Innovator’s Dilemma (2011).

Nucor and others started out making re-bar, which is easy. Bethlehem, U.S. Steel, and Republic saw no money in re-bar, and let Nucor have the business. The upstarts climbed the market chain by recycling scrap steel (with "mini-mills," which don't use blast furnaces), and eventually achieved continuous strip steel casting; the high margin product. They ate Big Steel’s lunch.
"But there’s a final twist to this tale that highlights the absurdity of Trump’s strategy. In the 1960s, a man named Ken Iverson took over a conglomerate that acquired a stake in the steel business that became Nucor. Iverson then bet the firm’s future on making steel using the electric arc process, building the first American facility in 1969. It began growing at an exponential rate, competing rather effectively with foreign producers, to say nothing of other American producers.

As other steel producers begged for protectionist trade policy, Iverson mocked the idea. In an interview in 1986, Iverson noted that protectionist measures already instituted hadn’t had the desired effect. “As soon as prices began to rise so that the steel companies began to be profitable, they stopped modernizing,” he said. “It's only under intense competitive pressure -- both internally from the mini-mills, and externally from the Japanese and the Koreans -- that the big steel companies have been forced to modernize.”"
Nucor is now the largest US steel maker. They used to understand the definitions of innovation, capitalism and competition.

Lack of innovation and unwillingness to compete - sustained by protectionism - is what toppled the big guys from overwhelming superiority. Maybe if Reagan hadn't ordered “voluntary restraint agreements” in 1984 to reduce steel imports, and Dubya hadn’t put steel tariffs in place in 2002, US steel companies would by now have had an epiphany.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Trump's tax increases

Tariffs are alleged to benefit the US at the expense of foreigners. In fact, they benefit a small coterie of businesses at the expense of everyone else.

The increased cost of houses due to the President's lumber tariffs doesn't just mean fewer houses being sold, it also means those who do buy houses have less money to spend on furnishings, or a new automobile. It doesn't just mean fewer jobs in construction, it means fewer jobs building couches and cars.

The economic argument for tariffs is, therefore, nonsense. Tariffs neither increase US overall employment, nor raise US wages.

But, the President says, for steel it’s not economics, “It’s a national security issue!” Really? While it’s true the US steel and aluminum industries will benefit from forcing consumers to pay more to steel companies and to aluminum producers, the makers of tanks, airplanes and munitions will experience higher costs. How, exactly, does increasing the cost of the things our military uses to defend us increase national security? It does so only if "national security" is defined as "the profits of the steel industry.” Which, by the way, "posted a combined net income of $869 million in Q4 2017," while "all the charted steel stocks, except for one, showed increases in average share prices."

But, the President objects, “What if we can’t produce steel in the future because the US industry disappears?” Well, the US is the world’s 16th largest steel exporter. Nearly 60% of those exports go to Canada and over 30% to Mexico, markets our President is endangering by threatening to torpedo NAFTA. We could stop exports to “protect” domestic supply, but that would increase the "trade deficit".

In 2017 (through September) we exported 7.6 million and imported 26.9 milliion metric tons of steel, for a difference of -19.2 million. For this to be a national security issue we need to assume a few things. 1) We don’t have spare capacity to handle the shortfall. 2) We do not stop exporting steel. 3) Extreme measures (like WWII scrap drives and diversion of steel to military from consumer production) cannot be taken.

Let’s see. According to the Department of Commerce, in 2017 (through December):

  US Steel production “Capacity utilization was estimated at 73.9%.”
  "Total U.S. steel production in 2017 was 81.6 million metric tons.” Which includes
  8 mmt of exports.

  "Total [domestic] steel demand in 2017 amounted to 99.7 million metric tons.”

This leaves us about 18.1 mmt short for the year.

81.6 mmt represents 73.9% of capacity, so another 28.8 mmt could be produced with the remaining 26.1% capacity. Or, comfortably more than we import and without ceasing to export.

Tariffs are taxes. The president is raising them - and threatening trade war.

Here’s 5 minutes of Milton Friedman on this question:

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Jordan Peterson discussed in The New Yorker

Interesting article: Jordan Peterson’s Gospel of Masculinity.

Many black writers seem to aspire to be Ta Nehisi Coates. That is, intellectual pretenders.

Kelefa Sanneh is able to resist, though the New Yorker article title subtly labels Peterson a sexist by conflating Peterson's audience demographics with his message. The message, in fact, has no sexual orientation. That it resonates with a male audience more than with a female audience is because men and boys are routinely vilified as a group. So the idea of ‘redemption' through individual responsibility is more compelling for males.

Sanneh says, "modern liberal culture" when he should be clear and say "Cultural Marxism" or "Postmodernism." It's a misuse of the word "liberal" even in today's context, and specifically in Peterson's context. Peterson only uses the word to describe a Canadian political party, or to claim he is a "Classical liberal."

Summarizing Peterson as, "by turns, a defender of conformity and a critic of it" is a misleading twist. There's some banal truth in it, but Peterson's main concerns are how humans can find meaning and truth. Differentiating order from chaos on a case-by-case basis is a consequence, not a motive. Sanneh, in fact, almost says so, "he [Peterson] thinks that if readers pay close attention, they, too, can learn when to be which," but doesn’t quite accept the appropriate inference.

Sanneh writes, "Peterson excels at explaining why we should be careful about social change, but not at helping us assess which changes we should favor," but any careful consideration of Peterson's body of work cannot help but provide exactly the guidelines needed to openly debate organic social change. That's exactly his point about the value of Western Civilization, despite its flaws.

The message is simple. To paraphrase, “Take responsibility for your life. Start small. Do things which are better for you, your family and your community - today, next week, next year. You already know what those things are.” What short circuits this simple plan is group identity politics and the culture of victimization. It’s hard to know when to conform and when to dissent when your conform/dissent divide is defined by a collective.

The fact that Peterson advocates personal responsibility over intricate laws governing how everyone should live is another social change guideline. Sanneh: "We can, most of us, sort ourselves out, or learn how to do it. That doesn’t mean we will ever agree on how to sort out everyone else.” Exactly. We’re not responsible for sorting everyone else out, and should avoid the impulse. Sanneh seems not to see that that's the point.

These are minor quibbles, however, with a well written and perceptive article which will reach an audience that needs to hear it. For example, Sanneh writes,
"In “Maps of Meaning,” he [Peterson] traced this sense of urgency to a feeling of fraudulence that overcame him in college. When he started to speak, he would hear a voice telling him, “You don’t believe that. That isn’t true.” To ward off mental breakdown, he resolved not to say anything unless he was sure he believed it; this practice calmed the inner voice, and in time it shaped his rhetorical style, which is forceful but careful.”
You can see Peterson carefully, constantly rechecking his beliefs in his lectures.

I was interested enough to check Sanneh out a bit. His father is a practicing Roman Catholic, and Yale Divinity School professor of World Christianity who happens to be a black Gambian. His mother is a linguist teaching at Yale; she's a white South African.

In 2015 Sanneh penned a surprisingly dispassionate (for a New Yorker article) look at race and culture - “Don’t Be Like That: Does black culture need to be reformed?” in which, to some extent, he defended the 1965 Moynihan Report’s points about the disintegration of American black families.

"To some extent," because while Sanneh acknowledges there are two sides to the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown, he never mentions that "Hands up! Don't shoot," the meme that provided the impetus for NFL "Take a knee” protests, was a fabrication (according to Barack Obama's DOJ) used in the ongoing exploitation of blacks for political gain. In itself a collectivist contribution to the decline of black family values.

The 2nd article could have been a chapter in Charles Murray's Coming Apart. It ties in to Peterson's message in pointing out the damage to people that results from abandoning individual responsibility in favor of group victimization politics and from banning some questions from public conversation.

P.S., You can get a free copy of Maps of Meaning here. And I can also recommend 12 Rules for Life, still Amazon's number one most read book more than a month after its release.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Values of the Patriarchy

The ideals of The Enlightenment brought us freedom of conscience, liberal democracy, free markets, the astounding success of the scientific method; and reductions in violence, poverty and ignorance unprecedented in human history.

Dr. Steven Pinker: Defending the Enlightenment.
In Enlightenment Now, the Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker defends [Enlightenment] ideals...

[N]o country had an average life expectancy above 40 years in 1800; now the global average is above 71. In 1947, 50 percent of the world's population was undernourished; now the number is 13 percent. "The gross world product today has grown almost a hundredfold since the Industrial Revolution was in place in 1820, and almost two hundredfold from the start of the Enlightenment in the 18th century," Pinker points out. In 200 years, the rate of extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 per day) has declined by 90 percent, with half of that decline occurring in the past 35 years...

And in the last two centuries, literacy has risen from less than 12 percent of the world's population to over 83 percent today. The global literacy rate for young adults—ages 15 to 24—stands at 91 percent.
Most people would think this huge improvement in the human condition was a good thing. How much defense could it require? Well, apparently we've been doing it all wrong.

Enlightenment values today are under attack by postmodern cultural Marxists. Patriarchal oppression is supposedly baked into the very fiber of Enlightenment values and, therefore, Western Civilization. Academiots denounce capitalism and freedom of speech; they contend that "'traditional science' is rooted in racism", that science, as and because it is defined by Western civilization, is a tool of racism and sexism, and lament "the emphasis on academic "rigor," calling it a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege"”.

From this reasoning, comes one more 'logical' conclusion: Elon Musk's idea to colonize Mars - a feat of the scientific method and rigorous engineering - springs from a desire to rape and pillage.
The patriarchal race to colonize Mars is just another example of male entitlement

The desire to colonize — to have unquestioned, unchallenged and automatic access to something, to any type of body, and to use it at will — is a patriarchal one...

It is the same instinctual and cultural force that teaches men that everything — and everyone — in their line of vision is theirs for the taking. You know, just like walking up to a woman and grabbing her by the pussy.

[T]he impulse to colonize — to colonize lands, to colonize peoples, and, now that we may soon be technologically capable of doing so, colonizing space — has its origins in gendered power structures. Entitlement to power, control, domination and ownership. The presumed right to use and abuse something and then walk away to conquer and colonize something new...

As if history hasn’t proven that men go from one land to the next, drunk on megalomania and the privilege of indifference.

The raping and pillaging of the Earth, and the environmental chaos that doing so has unleashed, are integral to the process of colonization. And the connection of the treatment of Mother Earth to women is more than symbolic: Study after study has shown that climate change globally affects women more than men.

“Women in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood,” a 2013 United Nations report noted. “Women charged with securing water, food and fuel for cooking and heating face the greatest challenges. Women experience unequal access to resources and decision-making processes, with limited mobility in rural areas.”
Before the Enlightenment, women in developing countries had nastier, more brutal and shorter lives. Those arguing against core Enlightenment values simply assume that their epistemology ("a different way of knowing", in feminist jargon) would have resulted in greater progress. Exactly how this would have happened is explained with some vacuous hand-waving and reference to feminist principles, like these, charges of cultural appropriation, and condemnation of any act judged imperfect.

Well, the jury is still out on whether women in developing countries are warmer, but there's no question they are generally better off. Even if their cultures reject Enlightenment ideas.

The ways in which they are not better off primarily involve female genital mutilation, beatings sanctioned by certain non-Western cultural traditions, and forced isolation - like confinement to the house absent male accompaniment and enforced dress codes. These markedly misogynistic anti-Enlightenment cultural quirks draw little fire from the feminists, postmodernists and cultural Marxists, because they consider all cultures morally equivalent: Except for those based on Enlightenment values, which are inferior.

I think Camille Paglia has the right of it:

"If civilization had been left in female hands we would still be living in grass huts."

But there would be nice curtains.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Health Insurance and Health Care are not the same thing

Most recent data from Canada, where there is universal health insurance: Waiting Your Turn - Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2017 Report
Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian health care. In order to document the lengthy queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures in the country, the Fraser Institute has — for over two decades — surveyed specialist physicians across 12 specialties and 10 provinces.

This edition of Waiting Your Turn indicates that, overall, waiting times for medically necessary treatment have increased since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 21.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 20.0 weeks reported in 2016. This year’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history — is 128% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.
Unsurprisingly, when supply of a good is bureaucratically rationed, shortages result. When the good is "free," it's worse.

Somebody should tell Nancy and Bernie.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fantasy identity groups

If you're somehow unaware, there's a new movie with a black super-hero.

So, of course, the New York Times wonders if white parents should let their kids wear Black Panther costumes. The conclusion seems to be, "Only if it's combined with a lecture on white privilege."

The Times had a hard time finding anyone to condemn the idea of white kids having a black hero, and included the appropriate response to their own race click-baiting - "Sterling K. Brown, a star of “Black Panther,” [is] thrilled at the prospect of children, black and white, dressing up as the title character."

They did find one academic who sounded a cautionary note:
"As parents, or even as the people creating costumes, we need to be very aware of what that says,” said Brigitte Vittrup, an associate professor of early childhood development and education at Texas Woman’s University. “There’s not a whole lot of black superheroes, so this is a really important thing, especially for black kids growing up.”
I wonder if any of the people who worked on the movie, especially the costume designers, were white or yellow or red or brown? I bet most of the people making the costumes for the kids are yellow.

The usual suspects are wandering in the fever-swamp muttering about "cultural appropriation" ... of a comic-book fantasy created by guys named Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

While it's risible (and racist) to assume black kids will be damaged by watching white kids emulate a black hero, the Times opinion is clearly expressed in its illustration:

I guess concern about white kids honoring a black hero would be the flip side of "acting white" except that the imaginary country is "a technological utopia known as Wakanda," where one has to suspect education is revered - and color blind.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Enemy of the good

In 1883 the Brits borrowed 40% of their GDP and committed the funds to ending slavery throughout the Empire. The loan wasn’t paid off until 2015. This recently came to light via a Tweet from the British Treasury, “Here’s today’s surprising #FridayFact. Millions of you helped end slave trade through your taxes.

Slave owner compensation was still being paid off by British taxpayers in 2015

The link is from the Russians (TV-Novosti - Russia Today, or "RT"), so it’s intended to point out the evils of Western Civilization. I guess that would be “Civilisation” in this case.

The problem is that it was slave owners, not slaves, who were compensated. Of course, this set off a Twitter storm of condemnation. Who wants to be taxed to pay slave-holders, or their descendant corporations?

The question of what would have been reasonable compensation paid to ex-slaves in 1883, “immediate reparations” I guess, is apparently not to be asked. Would it have been just for the Crown to compensate those who had been slaves? Yes. If the cost had been an order of magnitude higher (which is likely) would slavery in the British Empire have been ended as quickly? No.

To argue otherwise is to argue that those who were slaves in 1883 should have been kept in slavery longer, along with their progeny.

I find it praiseworthy that a government should recognize a moral evil in which it has been complicit and do something about it. What was done was not perfect, that does not make it reprehensible.

Abolition of serfdom in Russia is claimed to have occurred in 1861.

Not, of course, counting the state slavery of the Gulag, present day slavery in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, or current Russian use of North Koreans as forced labor with the apparent approval of both governments.

A tangential note: I wonder how long American taxpayers were paying for loans taken during the Civil War, in addition to the cost (economic and otherwise) of the 600,000 who died ending slavery in the United States?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Appropriational relativity

Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation

Shreena Gandhi, a religious studies professor at Michigan State University, claims that whites who practice yoga are contributing to a “system of power, privilege, and oppression.” I.e., white American yoga participants are promoting white supremacy. Whites should acknowledge cultural appropriation from immigrants, “such as Indian women to whom this practice rightfully belongs,” she says, demanding yoga be “decolonized."

Black American yoga appropriators aren't mentioned. Apparently because:
Yoga contributes to our economic system, but never forget this system is one built upon exploitation and commodification of labor, often the labor of black people and people of the global south...

[I]n order to uphold the foundation and on-going functioning of white supremacist and racial capitalism, white people are taught to be ahistorical and emotionally repressed...

Especially during this time when the underbelly of capitalism — white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, and xenophobia– is being exposed, it is imperative that everyone, especially those who have access to spiritual practices like yoga, ask difficult questions of ourselves and one another.
O.K. A couple of questions occur to me.

I wonder if Shreena Gandhi uses electricity? Gilbert, Edison, Tesla, Franklin, Galvani, Volta, Faraday, Coulomb, Oersted, Ampere, Ohm, Kelvin, Siemens, Westinghouse, and dozens of other dead white cisnormative patriarchal colonialist oppressors not of her culture are wondering if they should complain.

And, while we’re talking about a “system of power, privilege, and oppression,” I have to ask about the Dalit. And in consideration of brutality against Indian women (to whom this practice rightfully belongs) — suttee.

Here's what Sir Charles Napier (supreme commander of the British Indian Army) had to say to Indians who were preparing their native ritual of suttee, the burning alive of a wife after the death of her husband:

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

Do whites get any credit for NOT appropriating some cultural traditions?

Thursday, February 08, 2018


There is a definite discrepancy in pay between male and female Uber drivers.

Based on data covering almost 1.9 million Uber drivers who provided more than 740 million Uber trips over 2 years, we know that male drivers earn about 7 percent more than Uber's female drivers. Uber has given us an almost perfect experiment. Unlike comparing wages for lumberjacks to salaries of kindergarten teachers, it is precisely controlled for job description and execution.

With only that information, feminists might be momentarily overjoyed that their "wage gap" claims have been justified. However, no fair-minded person could claim this discrepancy results from misogynistic discrimination. The pay is solely determined by a sex-agnostic algorithm. Can you imagine what would happen to Uber if there was code saying, "If sex = "male" then wages = wages * 1.07?"

I'm sure (because I've written about the academiots who promote the idea, notably here and here), that radical feminists will claim the algorithm is nonetheless biased because math and science are racist, sexist creations of the heteronormative patriarchy. Really. That's no exaggeration.

The rest of us will wonder what the bona fide reasons are. Turns out that they are the same reasons discovered by studies going back decades: There is no wage gap when differences in industry, occupation, continuous years in the workforce, level of education, field of study, experience, and number of hours worked are considered.

In Uber's case, on average:
Men take higher risks (they drive 2.2 percent faster).
Men have more driving experience; which they develop by driving longer hours over a longer Uber tenure.
Finally, men drive in more lucrative locations.

That last may be a result of more experience (better location value awareness), and lower risk aversion (driving in less safe locations at less convenient times).

In any case, the Uber "wage gap" is unequivocally a result of different choices made by male and female Uber drivers, and it is a confirmation of Jordan Peterson's point to Cathy Newman: "You have to ask why there's a gap."

As noted, this isn't new information, but the Uber experimental data is as pristine as it can get. One could reasonably call it definitive confirmation of those earlier studies mentioned above.

Equality of outcome feminists will likely insist on changing the Uber algorithm: "If sex = "female" then wages = wages * 1.07." Just so it's "fair."

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Feminist Business School

While Cathy Newman was giving Jordan Peterson the third degree, she suggested that the non-existent "pay gap" could be eliminated by enforcing more feminine traits in the workplace. Four minute snippet:

Well, Cathy's got Evergreen State College graduate Jennifer Armbrust on-board. Armbrust's degree is in Critical Theory.

Here's the condensed syllabus of her Feminist Business School.
[C]apitalism is an “economy that values masculine traits” such as “meritocracy,” “competition,” and “individualism.”

Shunning the “profit seeking motive” of traditional commerce, the Feminist Business School advocates that businesswomen adopt more “feminine traits” such as “gratitude,” “intimacy,” and “connecting with nature.”

“The feminine economy proposes a new set of values and redistribution of money and power based on feminine principle...”
I think this qualifies under Peterson's comment, "That doesn't predict success in the workplace."

Well, maybe in Venezuela. The bar's pretty low there.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Won't be watching

I would have liked to acknowledge the creator, but 10 minutes looking hasn't helped:

Friday, February 02, 2018

Full of sound and fury, signifying complacence to tyranny

I'm tired of "the memo." I don't watch television news, I barely listen to the radio. I like it quiet. But, I do read - stuff leaks in around the edges.

Of course, the FBI agents (D, Swamp) and DOJ personnel (D, Deep State) who, at the least, used unverified Democrat oppo-research to manipulate the FISA Court are to be condemned. And they should face severe punishment pour encourager les autres. However, the real problem is the surveillance state.

Rand Paul and Justin Amash, for example, have been trying to do something about that. Les autres? Not so much.

Yes, entrenched bureaucrats acted politically; which is to say, immorally. No surprise there. It's precisely why the power of the State needs to be dialed back. There's no other solution.

We need to return to a rule of law fitting the Constitution. But who is talking about that?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Inconsistent consequences

The United States has recently imposed tariffs on Canadian lumber, Korean washing machines and Chinese solar panel components. The President is itching to slap import duties on steel. All those tax increases offset the income-tax cut, while enriching crony capitalists, fomenting a net reduction in American employment, and curtailing consumer choice.

How do these increased taxes balance out with the recent income-tax reduction?

The income tax cut will give 25 million taxpayers in the middle income quintile (or those with incomes from $49,000 to $86,000) an average of $930 of their own money back, BT (Before Tariffs). That's about $25 billion.

I pick that quintile because I need a number, calculating the net-net of tax increase/decrease is very complicated, and the absolute dollar amount of all income-tax reduction is (naturally) skewed toward the top quintile.

Washing machines
The effect of a $50 increase is more economically significant than for lower or higher quintiles. The lowest quintile can't afford a washing machine in the first place, and pays no income tax. Using the second lowest quintile could open my argument to charges of cherry picking. For higher quintiles $50-$100 in disposable income is irrelevant. For the discussion, I take the middle quintile as the exemplar of consumer sensitivity to the effect of increased tariffs.

In any case, what's the amount of the offsetting tax increases? Well, washing machines, on average, will each cost $50 to $90 more. Ten million are bought every year. Consumers will pay at least an additional half billion dollars annually; not counting the as yet unknown additional consumer cost of the threatened steel tariffs.

I'll call the mid-quintile share of that 50%, or $250 million.

Solar panels
Costs for residential solar panel installation will increase by an average of $650.

In 2017 there were only about 2,500 residential installations, so the residential cost increase would total a bit more than $1,500,000. Peanuts. It won't make much difference for the mid-quintile.

Note, though, that commercial/utility scale installations would have a much higher value, and do have an effect.

This is because of the inherent contradiction of Fed solar panel policies. The Feds give a 30% tax credit for installing solar, while raising the price through tariffs. Taxpayers in all quintiles are subsidizing all solar projects, so there's a tax of 6.5% (the tariff's contribution to increased gross install costs) times the 30% subsidy on taxpayers in all quintiles. Taking $210 million as the revenue of the solar power industry in 2017, that would be about $40 million (6.5% x 30% x $210,000,000). This is a rough approximation, because I don't know the breakdown of that revenue. What it does show is that the solar industry is not very big, and the clout to have a tariff imposed can't come from its industrial importance. Must be "climate change" hype.

Of that total, let's call the mid-quintile cost 15%, or $600 thousand.

New housing
The lumber tariffs added about $1,000 to the cost of a new house, pricing some 300,000 families out of the housing market. An estimated 1,202,100 housing units were started in 2017. That's over a billion dollars, a disproportionate amount of which falls on the mid-level quintiles.

If one-third of that total falls on the mid-quintile, it's a third of a billion.

Total cost
Now the total is approaching $600 million. Not much compared to the income tax decrease. But the real burden falls on the consumers who actually pay the extra $50 on their washing machine, the extra $650 on their solar installation, and the extra $1,000 on their house. They didn't get a tax cut. They had their wealth redistributed to corporatists.

But, it's more than just the increase in consumer costs: It's also loss of jobs in retail, because fewer washing machines will be sold; the job reduction in construction of new houses; and the requirement for fewer installers of solar panels.

When steel tariffs are finalized, the job destruction in steel-using industries will be additive to washing machine manufacturing and solar panel installation. It will also affect car makers, pipeline building, skyscraper construction, tractor manufacture, ship building, etc.. Consumers will pay this tax, too.

There's no doubt tariffs on steel will cost jobs in steel-using industries. It's happened many times before. If Trump's tariff accomplishments are anything like George Bush's, we will see a cost to American consumers of $400,000 per "saved" steel job and the loss of more jobs in steel-using industries than all employment in steel manufacturing: The Perils of Protectionism

All these effects have been known since at least Adam Smith, and are documented by analysis of US tariff experimentation back to at least 1984.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Feminists outraged

Well, they ought to be, anyway.

Oxford University extends time for maths and computer science exams in bid to help women get better grades
Because Patriarchy, I guess; and the need for equality of outcome.

An alternate headline could have been, "Most Oxford females 17% slower than most males in math" Sub-head: "Women who can compete equally shortchanged."

It is not clear from the article if males were also given extra time. If males were given equal opportunity, it would be interesting to know if there was any change in males' scores. And, if males improved, and if the grades are on a curve; did male scores improve enough to negate the females' increased scores.
A document obtained by the Times, under Freedom of Information laws, showed that faculty at the university believed the changes could: 'mitigate the... gender gap that has arisen in recent years, and in any case the exam should be a demonstration of mathematical understanding and not a time trial.'
Well, maybe, but time has value in the real world. Say, in how much you get paid. Maybe these women will just have to work 17% more hours.

Finally, what's with "gender gap that has arisen in recent years?" I thought it was the result of centuries of patriarchal oppression.

Collectivism isn't Right or Left

Jordan B. Peterson Is the Furthest Thing from the Alt-Right
Peterson’s claim that identity politics is “genocidal in its ultimate expression” is no exaggeration. Hitler’s military invasions and death camps were the ultimate expression of the racialist and nationalist identity politics that spiritually drove Nazism. And Stalin’s weaponized famines and “gulag archipelago” were the ultimate expression of the class warfare identity politics that spiritually drove Soviet communism.
Identity politics is necessarily collectivist. Alt-right or Ctl-left, Nazi or Communist: “Nothing outside the state, nothing above the state, everything within the state.”

Now shipping

My copy has arrived.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
- Jordan B. Peterson

#1 Best Seller in Popular Applied Psychology
#2 in Books

Still at pre-release pricing. Probably not for long.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Cultural appropriation?

Alternate title: "Leftwing autophagy"

Boston Globe:
Elizabeth Warren’s Native American problem goes beyond politics
There’s a ghost haunting Elizabeth Warren as she ramps up for a possible 2020 presidential bid and a reelection campaign in Massachusetts this year: her enduring and undocumented claims of Native American ancestry...

Some tribe members want her to apologize to Native Americans for claiming heritage without solid evidence. Tribes across America have spent centuries denouncing whites who claim Indian DNA without a clear basis, claims they find deeply offensive.
And some of them don't care.

Full disclosure - My family history is that I'm 1/4 American Indian. Never questioned this, since I knew my grandmother.

Then again, I've never checked any ethnicity box on some form to get hired. Since Warren did, I suspect that's why she's stuck for an apology.

Friday, January 19, 2018

More on Peterson's interview

Some more buzz on Jordan Peterson’s recent BBC interview. Jordan B Peterson, Critical Theory, and the New Bourgeoisie

1,713,144 views of that interview as I start writing. I’m 3 of them. ;)

1,749,983 as I post.

I linked to it yesterday. I should have embedded it. Better late than never:

But, to the article. Progressives hold (and contemporary society ignorantly acquiesces) that equality and liberation are "unquestioned moral good[s] that no reasonable person could disagree with.

Well, as JBP points out, it depends on your definitions. If those definitions are informed by Critical Theory the outcomes are, as Peterson says, “sub-optimal.”

I would say “morally indefensible.” The interviewer was so immersed in prejudice(s) immune to moral distinction that she couldn’t follow Peterson’s points and kept trying to put words in his mouth: To wit, her unthinking, reflexive arguments against positions she imagined he held. This is not the interview she was looking for.

And readers of Christina Hoff Sommers will recognize that she (Sommers) pointed this out - "boys and young men are now becoming increasingly alienated from the educational system” - long ago in The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (2000).

As Peterson says at 22:10 of the interview, when asked why freedom of speech grants him the lattitude not to use transgender pronouns under force of law: "In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive.”

Peterson has done an interesting one-on-one conversation with Camille Paglia, I think he should also sit down with Sommers and Dr. Steven Pinker.

A case can be made that the main problem with GOP politicians (they are hardly alone), is an unwillingness to offend. Too agreeable. To the extent this is true, it argues that a Trump is necessary - if still not sufficient. It does not argue that you have to go out of your way to offend everyday, however.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dr. Jordan Peterson

Never fails to impress, and this is even better than most.
Interviewer (hostile): Why should your right to freedom of speech trump a trans person’s right not to be offended?

Peterson: Because in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. I mean, look at the conversation we’re having right now. You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable. […] You’re doing what you should do, which is digging a bit to see what the hell is going on. And that is what you should do. But you’re exercising your freedom of speech to certainly risk offending me, and that’s fine. More power to you, as far as I’m concerned.

... a few seconds pass...

Peterson (chuckling kindly): Ha. Gotcha.

Interviewer:You have got me. You have got me. I’m trying to work that through my head. It took awhile. It took awhile. It took awhile.
Watch the whole beautiful thing. Half an hour well spent.

And, BTW, Peterson has a new book out. My copy will be here next Tuesday.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Public/Pirate partnerships

Friday, I noted Michigan's private marketing bureau rip-off. It just gets worse.

Michigan Senate Bill 97. Emphasis mine:
To give state and local government agencies the power to enter into joint operating arrangements with a particular business for purposes of building a hospital or transportation facilities. The private operator would benefit from tax exemptions and its governmental partner's power to impose property taxes, borrow, take private property using eminent domain and more. The government agency involved could choose the private sector actor without necessarily having to accept the lowest bid. The projects could be proposals from a private developer.
This is just a corporate version of the SEIU dues scam and is no less reprehensible simply because there's a different set of government approved thieves. The Granholm Democrats licensed a union to steal Medicaid dollars from taxpayers. The Snyder Republicans are getting ready to legalize similar looting by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, and Matty Maroun (owner of the Ambassador Bridge). Of course, it's endorsed by the Chamber of Cronyism.

H/T Right Michigan where you can find out who to call to kill this assault on Michigan taxpayers.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Rent Seekers

Bills Make It Easier For Private Marketing Bureaus To Force Dues on Businesses

This regulatory statist, public/pirate partnership should cease. The parallels (rent-seeking and arbitrary, bureaucratic consumer punishment) to Trump’s trade war impulses are educational opportunities for the economically ignorant.

Update 01/13/17:
It occurs to me to ask how this is different from the SEIU dues-skimming travesty?

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Professor Nancy Hopkinsism

Toni Airaksinen:
Based on interviews with 8 female STEM students, two professors recently concluded that "masculine" norms are to blame for the lack of female STEM graduates.

According to the professors, these masculine norms include “asking good questions,” “capacity for abstract thought and rational thought processes,” “motivation,” “independent” thinking, and a relatively low fear of failure.
The study is titled, Gendered Student Ideals in STEM in Higher Education, by Laura Parson & C. Casey Ozaki

Laura Parson's Ph.D is in "Teaching and Learning (Higher Education), 2016, University of North Dakota," one of her research interests is "- Rigor in the curriculum design and program evaluation process." Apparently, she didn't get the memo from Purdue that "rigor" is a partriarchal scheme and on the list of banned thought.

Dr. Ozaki "...earned her Ph.D in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education in 2009 from Michigan State University... She is specifically interested in the intersection between students' epistemology and meaning-making development in relationship to their decision-making about and strategies for persistence in higher education."

Notice, neither one of them has any direct knowledge of STEM. They're both in Education Departments.

Here's the abstract, with corrections:
Using the framework of feminist standpoint theory,

Starting with our conclusion, we worked backward to find evidence to support it,

...this study explored the everyday work of undergraduate STEM students to identify STEM institutional cultural norms and standards that organize and inform the organization of everyday work for undergraduate women majoring in math and physics.

...this study of 8 (count 'em, 8) female STEM students, who were asked leading questions, is the complete story of 500 years of refining the scientific method. And we said "everyday" twice to make sure you know we think the scientific method is a chronologically challenged crock of patriarchal Western Privilege, irrelevant to today's teaching needs.

Data collection and analysis focused on how the interface between undergraduate women and STEM education was organized as a matter of everyday encounters between students, faculty, and administration through their experiences inside and outside the classroom.

We talked with 8 students and our like-minded colleagues in the Education Faculty. Everyday.

Undergraduate participants reported challenges meeting some of the characteristics of successful math and physics students (e.g., taking risks, asking questions, putting school first) and preferred a collectivistic environment.

We found some females aren't successful math and physics students because they reject common sense behaviors leading to success across all fields and think males should take their tests for them.

These characteristics are evidence of a masculine STEM institution, which also creates a masculine ideal that women students are expected to meet and exacerbates their discomfort in the STEM environment.

Females shouldn't be expected to meet any standards that make them uncomfortable. Like “asking good questions,” “capacity for abstract thought and rational thought processes,” “motivation,” “independent” thinking, or putting school first.
Here's why some Academiot Journal would publish it (University libraries are forced to buy it):
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This is not to say that there aren't differences between men and women, though Larry Summers got hounded out of Harvard by female careerists STEM scientists like Nancy Hopkins for suggesting there are, it is to insist that those differences can't be bridged in STEM by disparaging a capacity for abstract and rational thought.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018


While I appreciate President Trump's judgeship appointments, regulatory reductions, foreign policy initiatives, rejection of the global warming hysteria, and many of the new tax policies; this Presidential tweet is an example of why I can't get on the Trump train:
"Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!"
Here's what he should have tweeted:
"Why is Amazon, having a choice of parcel delivery services, paying the bloated United States Post Office the price established by federal regulators, making goods cheaper to Amazon customers? ... Duh! Rhetorical!

The Postal Service cannot charge "MUCH MORE," or the business would go to UPS and FedEx. Amazon, as a huge customer, should expect to get a volume discount.

The USPS is a part of the swamp, so that formulation should have occurred to someone with business experience and an understanding of free market economics. The President does not possess that understanding, further evidenced by his similar approach to international trade.

It is a major failing. Without economic freedom there is no freedom.

The USPS benefits from protectionism via a monopoly on first class mail. Trump would have them price themselves out of the only market where they make money.

The decline of first class mail is, however, only partially responsible for the decline of the USPS. Other reasons are: Regulatory denial of first class mail increases, the health care and pension liabilities the Post Office has assumed (169% of the fiscal year 2016 revenues), excess real estate, and bureaucratic inefficiencies; all results of a federally mandated monopoly. This is exactly what happens to protected industries; misallocation of capital, mispricing, insensitivity to customer needs, complacency about markets - resulting in inability to innovate or compete.

The President cannot see that the protection of US Steel will have the same result as protection of the USPS, perhaps because his business experience has involved a great deal of government subsidy layered on to inattention during his basic economics classes.

Go Bag

If you're into backpacking (or would like to be), or if you're wondering how you might improve your Go Bag, this Kickstarter project might be of interest:
A Conversational Guide To Backcountry Equipment

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hold the presses!

David Thompson's catalogue of SJW tripe (next post down) is a good start. However, we can't close the list of 2017 SJW nonsense until at least mid-January, to allow time for reporting to catch up with the continuous sludge deluge.

Reconcile this with #MeToo, please:
University of Iowa derecognizes Christian club because of ‘sexual moral conduct’ rules for leaders: suit

The anti-science Professor Millar:
Feminist Professor Praises 'Happy Abortions' in New Book

The aptly named Professor Ponce:
Prof urges 'abolition of white democracy' during lecture

And, for the lifetime achievement award, there's Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D, umb):
'I'm a queen and I demand to be treated like a queen!'

Motes in Left eyes

David Thompson's very partial list of "2017 through the eyes of Social Justice Warriors":
The Year Reheated

TOC mentioned some of these, and others, under the "academiots" tag.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


If the Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA warrant against the Trump campaign, and the evidence for that is growing strong, some employees of the FBI and DOJ face serious legal difficulty.

Here is an excellent walk through and timeline summarizing what is known about the Steele dossier: Clinton campaign propaganda appears to have triggered Obama administration spying on Trump’s campaign.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected POTUS, it is doubtful any of this would have become known.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Defenestration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I am pleasantly surprised by the performance of President Trump. I retain major objections to his ignorant trade policies, among other things, but I did not expect him to perform as well as he has in general.

One of the things he’s accomplished is to expose the true intentions of the Progressives. Rather than the insidious slide toward Cultural-Marxism, he’s managed to bring them out of the woodwork all at once. Probably earlier than is good for their agenda.

Like everything, there’s a risky side to this.

I am of two minds about the uninterrupted, screeching hysteria from the Left. At first, Conan the Barbarian’s prospect of “crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of their women” - one woman in particular - was amusing.

However, I’m increasingly worried that the irrational cacophony is seriously damaging. Given the caterwauling, maybe I’m naive in thinking mutual respect, or at least feigned civility, ever actually existed. Of course, the President shares some blame for it via his puerile Tweeting habit. Still, those who own the protracted frenzy are the ones who control it.

Progressives will blame their actions on the President's supposed racism and narcissism, but nothing he's said is any worse than things said by former President Obama (and arguably not as bad as "typical white person" or "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow").

It is not the President's fault that his opponents are insisting upon a vision of race diametrically opposed to what we learned from Dr. Martin Luther King. How long will it be before there's agitation to tear down King's statues?

What Progressives are doing is teaching ideologues of a different tribe that Dr. King was terribly wrong about character, and that skin color trumps everything:

The Left Doubles Down On ‘Who? Whom?’
What’s interesting to me, though, are indications that the Cathedral — that is, the formal and informal cultural-liberal power structure — is going to double down on demonizing whites as a race…

…here’s what the Cathedral left needs to know: you aren’t going to be able to count on conservative people like me to help you oppose the alt-right, because you are their “respectable” left-wing mirror image

…increasingly fewer people on the right are going to listen to conservatives like me, because they see us as holding to outdated principles that are incapable of stopping the left-wing power grab. The Cathedralized left sees no reason to be fair, so why should they?
Read the whole thing.