FWIW: I hate them both. My dislike for Trump runs deep, and goes back to him barging into a functioning USFL in 1983-4. My dislike for Clinton runs deep, and goes back to the revelations about the White House travel office that came out ten years later.
… I have a slight preference for a Trump victory [in November over H. Clinton]. The reason is that the same mainstream media that would fawn idiotically over a Clinton administration would be appropriately merciless on a Trump administration. President Trump would not receive, because he does not deserve, any benefit of the doubt. President Clinton would receive, even though she does not deserve, every benefit of the doubt.
I like this logic, but I’m not sure how true it holds. For me, right now, it doesn’t seem like the media is being tough on Trump in the slightest.
Personally, my experience of the last 25 years is that I found a constrained (Bill) Clinton of 1995-2000, and the constrained Obama of 2011-2016 … tolerable.
As to Bush II and the Republican controlled Congress of 2001-7 … well … I wish they’d been more constrained on nonsense like Medicare Part D.
From a piece about the 2016 candidates, and whether it’s OK for them to have some unusual beliefs:
For a generation, the Left has been trying to change the subject from what kinds of policies Republicans seek to enact to what kinds of people Republicans are. The answer is, depending on the need of the moment: racist, poisonously elitist, disastrously anti-elitist, the party of Wall Street gazillionaires, the party of toothless hillbillies, godless capitalists, Christian fanatics — anything you might not want to be, that’s what they’d have you believe the Republicans are. [emphasis added]
Not sure about this?
Can you explain the differences in, say, the national defense policies of any pair of Republican candidates?
If not, your views towards them are probably being set by the left rather than by what the right is actually saying.
Just to make sure the search engine bots catch that text, it's: "I vaccinate my kids because I'm not crazy".
The majority of the arguments I've heard against vaccinations come from questionable sources and tend to be ill-informed and/or seeping in logical fallacies. For example, "I don't vaccinate my children because they put chemicals in those vaccines."
I'm not sure what else a vaccine should consist of? Perhaps some kind of fantastic concoction? Elf tears? Unicorn urine? Are those chemicals?
I really enjoy it when an anti-vaccine proponent throws in a dash of dystopian conspiracy.
"I don't vaccinate because the government is putting microchips in the chemicals that they use."
This is something I have actually heard someone say. They said it with a straight face. It was great.
Read the whole thing (with the title changed in the online version ... to protect the innocent or something).
I’m not going to claim that Japan is in great macroeconomic shape. In per capita terms, the country may not have peaked around 1990, but there certainly was a big kink in growth rates that occurred at that time. And Japan has been struggling with weak aggregate growth every since.
But, this is not the story you’ll here in the legacy media where comparisons of (national) debt to GDP are accepted without question. To these folks, Japan has the highest debt/GDP ratio of any developed country, and is headed for a crash. Here’s a common view:
To illustrate just how woeful Japan’s fiscal conditions are now, one merely has to look at how they were in March 1945. About half a year before Japan’s military-controlled government surrendered, Tokyo was borrowing at a feverish pitch to pay for its losing war effort and the Bank of Japan was furiously printing money to cover the soaring deficit.
The central government’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio stood at 204% at the end of March 1945.
More than half a century later, this ratio–a key measure of a government’s ability to pay down debt–is already above that milestone. The Ministry of Finance estimates it will reach 227% by the end of March next year.
That’s from The Wall Street Journal, which is supposed to know better.*
Do note, before I go on, that this is the same argument by people who worry that the U.S. is in trouble because our national debt is about 100% of our GDP (both are around $17T, give or take).‡
The thing is, this is mostly nonsense. Innumeracy at a basic level is being demonstrated here. Specifically, you can always compare a stock variable to another stock variable, you can always compare a flow variable to another flow variable, but when you compare stocks to flows you get a rate, and you need to be very careful that your interpretation of that rate isn’t nonsense.
In this case, debt is a stock variable defined in yen. GDP is a flow variable measured in yen per year. Do the math: the correct figure is not 227% but 2.27 years. Reciting that it’s 227% is a scare tactic. Stating that it’s 2.27 years sounds like nonsense because it is. This measure that they’re crowing about means that if Japan devoted all of its national production to paying off national debt, it would take 2.27 years. Except that’s silly because all the residents of Japan would starve.
Appropriate alternative comparisons, which can still show that Japan is in bad shape but which rest on a foundation of numeracy, include comparisons of national debt to national wealth (both stocks) or GDP to interest payments on the national debt (both flows).
The amazing thing is that this article actually includes the former, but, it’s down at the bottom (where no ever reads), and it’s really small (because it doesn’t tell a story that the sky if falling that will sell newspapers):
If there’s one asterisk to put after the shocking comparative figures, it’s that the debt-to-GDP ratios don’t take into account Japan’s huge asset holdings. At the end of March 2012, Japan’s central government had assets totaling some Y600 trillion, roughly half of its total liabilities projected for next March, separate MOF data show. And those assets include Y250 trillion in cash, securities and loans. Critics often say Japan’s fiscal health could quickly improve if the government sells some of those assets …
Folks, they’ve just put an asterisk on the only part of the article that’s actually coherent. Pity.
* Economists know that the reporters for The Wall Street Journal are not particularly conservative/libertarian, and can’t be expected to be an improvement over most other legacy media outlets. It’s the editorial page that sets The Wall Street Journal apart, and which upsets so many progressives.
‡ If you are worried about the national debt, please worry about the present value of unfunded future obligations, which is about 13 times larger. The problem with (announced) debt is how you make the payments to your debtholders. This means that unfunded obligations are the exact same problem, just with a different name.
Here's a pop quiz the Berkeley Energy Institute gave to readers.
Which of the following two choices leads to more fuel savings:
(A) buying a 15 mpg Cadillac Escalade instead of a 12 mpg Chevrolet Suburban, or
(B) buying a 50 mpg Toyota Prius instead of a 29 mpg Toyota Corolla?
Read it carefully: it's decision making at the margin. Ceteris paribus conditions are provided for the readers. "Assume you would drive the same distances and speeds no matter which car you have." Thus the total fuel use will be the least with the Prius and the greatest with the Suburban.
I care about this because the misinterpretation of nonlinearity in this example is very close to the misinterpretation of nonlinearity in casual analysis of macroeconomic policy and events. For example, it's really easy for dim bulbs in the legacy media to claim the the Great Recession was comparable to the Great Depression if they don't log the real GDP data first.
Most of this piece isn’t explicitly about macroeconomics. But it gets at the point that one of the things that makes thinking about macroeconomics and policy so hard is the breathless negativity which politicians the legacy media condition us with.
Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know. [emphasis added]
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