Friday, February 26, 2016

Then What Was WWII?

I'm not sure why it hasn't come up, but with all the criticism of Friedman's paper on the effect of Sander's proposals, this line from Christina and David Romer's work seems telling:
The estimated demand - induced effects of Senator Sanders’s policies are not just implausibly large but literally incredible.
How do they explain the growth effects of WWII spending?  That happened more than a decade after the start of the great depression and followed a much stronger recovery (though still not fully recovered) but now a similar response is "literally increadible"???  I don't get it.  It's like they know history and so don't want to repeat it but the part they don't want to repeat is a the impressive economic development that started with the New Deal and then surged with WWII.

It's like they've given up on the prospect of a stronger economy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Really Wish Krugman Would Stop This Shit

Krugman publishes a comparative plot.  Here's another plot that looks a lot different than his, under which 5% growth doesn't look even a little crazy.  Which should be used?  Well that depends a lot on how you view the models/policies, probably how long a president is in office for, and the timing for effects of said policies (which will not be implemented).  Again, Krugman should know better, which is the real problem with his anti-Bernie posts.  He argues that Sanders (and/or his supporters) are not facing reality then he turns away from reality himself.

I don't even really care who wins the Democratic primary.  I, personally, can't vote for Hillary Clinton because I am very opposed to her more militaristic foreign policy which, despite her protests, is very well represented by her vote for the Iraq war.  Bernie has lots of flaws and certainly wouldn't be my first choice for a not-Hillary candidate but that's who's left.  Krugman's continued insistence that Bernie Sanders supporters are thoughtless dreamers who don't care about reality just really pisses me off.  

At this point it seems reflexive on his part: "People disagree with me so I must be on to something, let me repeat it!"  

I really don't like being a Sanders shill (because, again, don't actually care much who wins) but lots of the dickish behavior of Clinton supporters pisses me off as much as the Bernie-bros, and it particularly pisses me off when it comes from someone like Krugman on the pages of the NYT.  The Bernie-bros are bigger assholes but they don't have the institutional megaphone that Clinton backers have (because Clinton has all the institutional support, much of which has treated Sanders as a joke from the start).
So, to supporters of both Democratic candidates:  
Your preferred candidate does not have all the answers and supporters of your preferred candidate's opponent are not deluded robotic simpletons without capacity for thought.  Stop fucking treating them as such.
(Note to supporters of any GOP nominee:  Sorry, but your preferred candidate really is either stupid, a yuge asshole or, likely, both.)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Yes, They Should All Be Available...

...Probably to everyone but definitely to researchers.  It actually does impede scientific progress for relevant research to be hidden behind paywalls.  Sure, some people/groups can afford to pay, but not all.  I'd add that there is so much research out there that may seem relevant when looking at title/abstract but if you read the actual paper you find that the details are not actually relevant at all (this may or may not be due to a poor abstract).  

Yes, in most cases you can contact an author and get access (not always...I don't have ready access to all my publications; I can get them, but it would take some effort...'course I'm not the PI), but that doesn't always help, and even if it does it dramatically increases the amount of time it's going to take to get all the relevant publications.  I hope her site stays up and that more research becomes available through it. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I'm not terribly sure that it isn't as prevalent on the left, just different associations.  I am quite sure that most of the GOP base doesn't actually care about (or even like) most of the actual GOP platform. I thought that GOP party officials actually understood that but I guess not.

People who vote for Democrats want democratic policies enacted: tax the rich, improve social security, get everyone helth care, curb pollution...  People who vote for Republicans mostly just don't like people who vote for Democrats.  Oddly, though, they do like a lot of Democratic positions: they like social security and medicare, they have no problem with taxing the hell out of rich people, most of them don't really even care about stopping the gays from marrying or women from having control of their bodies beyond the fact that gays and womenfolk are more liberal and "fuck the librulz."

I've wondered in the past whether the continued rightward movement of "centrist" Democrats like Clinton would eventually lead to some Republicans taking over the liberal positions left behind (confiscatory taxing of the rich, and more generous social security/medicare, jailing the heads of corporations who destroy communities/environments).  Trump actually kind of does this.  To be fair his positions on the issues aren't exactly clear, but it doesn't matter because he hates on the libturdz and the corporate GOP both and his supporters love him for it.

Kill the Penny (and Nickel)

I know most people don't really care, but this shouldn't be difficult.  The continued existence of the penny is purely the result of lobbying by the only group (industry) that profits.  Everyone else loses and legislators should fix it. Maybe Elizabeth Warren can champion the issue in the senate?

Then we can kill the nickel and dollar bill and start minting $1 and $2 coins like a civilized nation.

More Defensive Krugman

I really don't get it.  It's fine that he supports HRC, but how is it that he can be so blind as to treat Sanders supporters the same way so many of his [right-wing] critics treat him?  Ignore substantial differences (which may be either pro-Sanders or just anti-Hillary) and construct magical straw-unicorns.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Not Understanding Krugman's Defensiveness Here

Paul Krugman clearly supports Clintion in the primary, and for sensible reasons.  But his attacks on Sanders supporters are, frankly, bonkers.  While I'm sure there are people who support Sanders for the reasons he mentions, generalizing from them is like the people who generalize from a small number of Clinton supporters who only support her because she is a woman.  It's, for lack of a better word, stupid.

I find the attacks on both of the Democratic candidates (remaining) to be pretty small minded, petty and, yes, stupid.  While it isn't surprising from many people I would think Krugman would be more thoughtful about it, but he really seems very reactionary and defensive.

I read the Vox article he quotes from and my takeaway was that this election has messed with the historical based prediction models and you can't effectively extrapolate what will happen.  If a more conventional Republican were to win, then maybe you can go back to those.  But that is looking less likely as time passes, and if the GOP nominee is Trump or Cruz or even Rubio then you are likely looking at a general that will not shape up as the historical models would predict.

Also, that Nixon - McGovern as a basis for comparison is just weird.  Yes, McGovern was a radical liberal, but Nixon was to left of much of his party's base and in many ways more liberal than most "conventional" Democrats today, including Obama and Clinton.  He was a Keynesian for God's sakes!  If you really wanted to try and parallel that election then Cruz is the McGovern equivalent and Hillary would be Nixon (she is to the right of most of her party base, Cruz is a radical conservative).  Trump is who the hell knows what, and Sanders is, in reality, only a bit more liberal than Clinton.  Mostly he is just not apologetic about his liberalism, and that matters to lots of Democrats who are tired of politicians who they vote for not representing them.  Not defending their views.

In terms of what can be accomplished, neither Clinton nor Sanders will be able to do much as president thanks to the US House (gerrymandering has pretty much guaranteed a GOP majority until 2022).  It may be that Clinton will be better at getting things done in spite of that.  It could also be that Sanders would be able to shift the Overton window such that better results become possible [in the future].

Who the fuck knows?

Friday, February 05, 2016

Crappy Statistics

Vox in talking about the liberal/moderate/conservative line and how it helps Clinton presents this chart:
This is an example of incomplete data that doesn't actually help inform.  If more conservative people call Romney liberal, Obama very liberal, and themselves very conservative, but more liberal people call Romney conservative, Obama moderate and themselves between moderate and liberal you can end up with that plot even if far more people are Obama supporters than Romney.

The perception of self vs. others is important and it is likely different between liberal and conservative individuals.  This plot is only useful if more liberal individuals and more conservative individuals have the exact same relative perception.  Nothing about that chart would imply they do.  

Obama is, on a historical scale, pretty much the same as Regan, which, at the most liberal, would put him right down the middle.  Romney, as governor would have been similar, though Romney the presidental candidate ran as closer to very conservative than moderate.  

Anyone using that chart to draw general conclusions is either lazy or bad at statistics.  Those numbers don't mean what they look like they mean.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

GOP: The Party of Hucksters

Been reading about the fractures opening up between different groups in the GOP.  It's kinda hard to tell, but it seems like lots of folks are very surprised by all this (yes, mostly beltway pundits who are, historically, wrong about everything, but also the GOP party "establishment" and even some Dems). Seems to me like a pretty obvious result of the game the GOP has been playing, and I think a lot of it goes back to them becoming the anti-science party.

It's a logic issue.  Science is structured, logical, tested, verified.  You have an idea about something (hypothesis) then you run tests against that to see if it works, if it does you progress, if it does not then you rethink your hypothesis.  By rejecting science (yes, particularly evolution and now climate change) you reject that thought process, and any supporters you retain will also have rejected that thought process.  This can work short term just like a magician (wave one hand over here toward issue people in the room care about, while really you just want to do something unrelated over there), but over time you will find that there are better magicians.

Once those better "magicians" realize that you don't have to be substantive to get ahead in the GOP, they will naturally gravitate toward that party.  Eventually you have a party where large numbers of the people [running for office] don't have any particular notion of what being in the GOP means beyond "whatever I want it to mean for me at this moment" and characters like Trump and Cruz make perfect sense in this telling.

So the GOP is not united in any given policy dictate, and so even the numbered list given in the article is largely wrong.  You can find lots of exceptions to any of those points and you can find people in any of the other "camps" that drift into many of the points listed.  Trying to break the GOP down into ideologically coherent groups is a fool's errand.  There are a couple, but mostly that party has become the anti-whatever party.  Go to the GOP with whatever it is you don't like about [government, America, liberals, other religions, other races, other nations, gays, city folk...] and you can find a candidate who will parrot that emotion back to you in such a way that you will think it is their own.

The closest most commentary comes to getting at something that unifies the GOP is "whiteness", and yes, if you are a white supremacist you probably vote Republican (if you vote), but even that oversimplifies things, because whiteness isn't necessary, it's largely incidental.  In a nation where white men used to have all the power, the result of increasing equality absolutely means that white men are the "losers" of the game, so the people most likely to be drawn to an illogical anti-whatever party are much more likely to be white, and to be men.  What truly unites and defines the GOP is the anti-logic aspect.  Most clearly seen with the rejection of science that began in earnest in the 90's this is what has pushed the GOP to be the party of hucksters.

Monday, February 01, 2016

One Way: Bankruptcy

I'm not sure how the corporate law works in Germany for a VW bankruptcy and restructuring, but there's no reason to think that the world's nearly-largest automaker will cease to exist.