Thanksgiving in the Land of Liberty

A round-up of Thanksgiving policies in the Land of Liberty (TM), COVID-19 edition:

Feel better about paying $trillions for the military that protects us from losing our liberty to the Canadians or Mexicans!

An immigrant originally from Moscow: “I never imagined that one day people would have more freedom in Russia than in the U.S.”

If you’re a sports car enthusiast, this floor sign from the National Corvette Museum might be a good addition to your living room before the relatives show up…

(Photo taken on Monday. Hardly anyone was adhering to this rule. Just as the Swedish MD/PhDs predicted, once you tell humans that masks will protect them, they don’t worry about proximity to other humans.)

Readers: I hope that your turkey cooking goes well! Our dish towel:

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Social media will shift the age of the American electorate?

What happened with the age of the average American voter in 2020 versus 2016? Was it younger due to the hourly nagging of the typical young person by various social media platforms?

Separately, is it good or bad that the voting age skews younger? I spoke with a smart 13-year-old in a coastal elite school system. What had she learned from her immersion in an all-Democrat neighborhood (many government workers!) and from all-Democrat teachers? “I’m a Democrat because of the issues that are important to me.” Such as? “Like it is legal right now to kill LGBTQ people.” I.e., she will be voting Democrat to ensure the outlawing of murder.

(Of course, I couldn’t resist asking why there were any gay people left in the U.S. “The New York Times informs us that our country is packed with people who hate the LGBTQIA+. If it is legal to kill gay people, why wouldn’t these anti-gay Americans have killed all of them?”)

GermanL in a comment on an earlier post pointed us to Peter Schiff:

Even back then, everybody wasn’t voting. You had to be 21 to vote. That means you’re in the workforce for many, many years because people generally got out of school at 12 or 13. So you had been working for many years. In many cases, you had property qualifications, you had poll taxes, you had literary tests. There were all sorts of ways that they limited the suffrage, just so it wasn’t everybody voting because they recognized the damage that you could create when you turn elections into advanced auctions on the sale of stolen goods.

If social media is, in fact, a force for reducing the age of our electorate, what should we expect these young people to vote for? Free college tuition and student loan forgiveness?

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How could the U.S. election results ever be verified?

Trump and Biden are both claiming victory in the most recent election. I tend to believe Biden because this is consistent with my prediction regarding how a timid cower-in-place population would vote. But how could anyone be sure who is correct?

In most countries there is a national ID card system. Citizens show this ID in order to vote. There can be a record of which ID numbers went to the polls (or to an Internet e-voting service) in every district nationwide. With such a record, a 10-line computer program can verify that nobody voted twice, for example. (Start with Quicksort in Haskell!)

How can it work in the U.S.? Maybe we know that “Joe Smith” voted in both Florida and Pennsylvania, but how could we ever determine whether these two voters are the same person or two different people?

Also, with mail-in ballots, how do we know that they were filled out and sent back by people who were (a) alive, (b) actually resident in the state, and (c) not voting in any other state? (see “Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises” (NYT, 2012))

(The working class don’t seem to be convinced that the system cannot be manipulated by the elites. I was at an airport in New Hampshire recently talking to a mechanic. A military-schemed Sikorsky S-92 was departing. The mechanic said “That was probably Joe Biden dropping off another box of ballots.”)

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Time for graduate school in Trump hatred

If we regard the lead-up to the election as a Bachelor’s degree in Trump-hatred, can the post-election activity be thought of as grad school? From “Voting Trump Out is Not Enough,” by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (New Yorker):

Like tens of millions of Americans, I voted to end the miserable reign of Donald J. Trump, but we cannot perpetuate the election-year fiction that the deep and bewildering problems facing millions of people in this country will simply end with the Trump Administration. They are embedded in “the system,” in systemic racism, and the other social inequities that are the focus of continued activism and budding social movements. Viewing the solution to these problems as simply electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both underestimates the depth of the problems and trivializes the remedies necessary to undo the damage. That view may also confuse popular support for fundamental change, as evidenced by Trump’s one-term Presidency, with what the Democratic Party is willing or even able to deliver.

The hated dictator’s name appears more than 20 times in this article.

With Trump gone, it is apparently time to listen to the scientists who said that the shutdown would cost more lives than would be saved from Covid-19:

Today, in Philadelphia, where I live, there is not a single aspect of life that the pandemic has not upended, from work and school to housing and health care, pulling poor and working-class African-Americans, in particular, deeper into debt and despair. The uncertainty of the moment, let alone the future, feeds fear, frustration, hopelessness, and dread. In Philadelphia, shootings are on the rise, and the murder rate is growing. … African-Americans make up eighty-five per cent of the city’s shooting victims. Even before the pandemic, drug overdoses in Black Philadelphia were on the rise. In the first three months of shelter-in-place orders, a hundred and forty-seven Black residents died by accidental drug overdose, forty-seven per cent of drug deaths in the city. … Job losses have overwhelmingly affected low-wage, minority workers. Since May, as many as eight million people have been pushed into poverty, with Black families overrepresented among them. … Thousands of people have already been evicted during this crisis, and nearly one out of six renters have fallen behind on their rent. Nearly one in four renters who live with children report that they are not up-to-date with the rent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s unprecedented moratorium on evictions was too good to be true: the Trump Administration recently signalled to landlords that it would allow them to challenge the eligibility of tenants. This leaves the viability of the C.D.C. moratorium up to the discretion of individual judges, who may or may not honor it. Local organizers and activists have tried to fill the gap created by federal neglect with relentless mutual-aid organizing, but it is hardly sufficient.

Our cities are actually run by good people:

It is not a Trumpian slur to observe that many of the cities where Black suffering takes place are also governed by proud members of the Democratic Party. Instead, it illuminates the depth of the bipartisan failure to address the tangled roots of racism, poverty, and inequality.

But they have been let down by the U.S. economy, which is only about half as large as it needs to be to support the subsidies that low-skill and/or non-working Americans require:

In Philadelphia, which, ignobly, has among the highest proportion of poor residents of any big city in the country, thousands stand on the cusp of eviction. Twenty-two per cent of households in the city are severely cost-burdened, meaning that they are spending half or more of their income on housing costs, which is well above the national average. Before this downturn, sixty-one per cent of households headed by Black women in Philadelphia were spending at least thirty per cent of their income on rent, compared with fifty-three per cent of households headed by white women and forty-four per cent of households headed by white men.

(The author doesn’t mention this, but what will really help these folks is 45 million immigrants to compete with them in the rental market:

(from Migration Policy Institute). Econ 101 tells us that when demand is boosted by 45 million, prices for scarce rentals will inevitably fall.)

Not enough money is being diverted from rural America (i.e., the counties that voted Republican) to the cities (i.e., the counties that voted Democrat):

The likely gridlock in Congress next year will lead to more stagnation in local government, as communities become hamstrung by a lack of federal funding.

(I should do a separate blog post on this. I wonder if the reason that people in low-density parts of the U.S. vote for smaller government is that big government spends nearly all of its money in cities. Hospitals, federal buildings, central post offices, community centers, concert halls, courthouses, etc. all tend to be built in downtown areas. The bigger the government, the larger the transfer from rural counties to urban counties.)

The core problem is the existence of Republicans:

That conclusion may seem to be supported by the shocking fact that upward of seventy million people voted to reëlect the most corrupt, venal, and brazenly racist President in modern American history. … The insistence on unity between the two parties almost always comes at the expense of those whose needs are greatest. How would a Biden Administration incorporate the views of a Republican Party that has supported a white-supremacist President, voted for Trump’s plutocratic tax cuts, advocated for the separation of families at the border, and facilitated the heist of a Supreme Court seat in hopes of fulfilling the right’s fantasy of ending access to abortion and destroying any hint of government-backed health insurance? We were told that this Presidential race was the most consequential of our lifetimes, that it was a contest between democracy and budding fascism. Why would Biden welcome the foot soldiers of Trump’s authoritarian politics into his coalition?

And the struggle will continue even if Trump disappears in his Boeing 757, beyond the reach of even the most vindictive Democrats:

The need in this country dwarfs the best of what Biden has put on the table for changing our current condition. But the demonstrations of the summer, the ongoing campaigns for mutual aid, and the growing movement against evictions are demonstrable proof that power is not only generated in mainstream politics but can be garnered through collective organizing and acts of solidarity. They also foretell a future in which the country does not return to a long-forgotten normal but is animated by protests, strikes, occupations, and the ongoing struggle for food, medicine, care, housing, justice, and democracy.

One reason that I voted for Bernie Sanders (twice!) was his logical consistency. In my opinion, we shouldn’t run a country that says housing is a “right” and then provide subsidized housing to only one quarter of those who qualify. At the same time, building the 7 million additional low-income housing units that are required (NLIHC) will cost roughly $5 trillion. Not only don’t we have an extra $5 trillion lying around, but every year an additional million or so low-skill immigrants arrive whose correspondingly low income would entitle them to subsidized housing (i.e., even if we got 7 million new units built by the end of 2021, we’d still have a substantial shortfall).

The Democrats actually did have control of the Presidency and Congress in the first two years of the Obama Administration, right? And they couldn’t find enough money in the U.S. economy to achieve their policy goals? If the Democrats’ huge advantage in funding is sufficient to take control of the Senate via the Georgia runoff votes, will they be able to fund their dream programs in 2021 and 2022? Or will they discover that the U.S. economy has grown at a much slower per-capita rate than their dreams?

Related:

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Californians vote against government sorting by victimhood status

In How are Californians doing in restoring their race-based university admissions scheme? I predicted that Proposition 16 would get 45 percent of the vote from people in victimhood categories (Black and Hispanic) and then 15 percent of the remaining vote, thus resulting in a 53-47 overall vote.

The actual vote was 44-56.

Aside from general stupidity, how did I get this wrong? One problem with my simplistic analysis is that a lot of Hispanics are under 18 and therefore ineligible to vote. So I should have looked at the size of these victimhood groups relative to the overall population, but with under-18s excluded. (Median age for Hispanics in California is 29; median age for whites nationwide is 43.6; Black Americans also have a lower-than-white median age, by about 5 years)

Also, not everyone votes his/her/zir/their self-interest. Even a proposition intended to help Blacks and Hispanics might not get 100 percent of the vote from Blacks and Hispanics. Seven percent of Blacks identified as Republicans in 2016 (Pew), for example, despite the party’s Equal Opportunity (as opposed to Affirmative Action) tendencies.

So… chalk this up to another one of my election predictions that failed.

(See also Elite coastal Jews advocate discrimination against white and Asian males on the NYT’s efforts to sway Californians into believing in government-organized sorting by race.)

Let’s also check in with Mark Zuckerberg uses his $110+ billion wealth to lobby for a tax increase on people other than Mark Zuckerberg. The goal of the crazy rich was to soak the not-all-that-rich by increasing commercial property tax rates. This failed 48.3/51.7.

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Win or lose, should Trump hand over everything COVID-19-related to Biden and Harris?

“With Winter Coming and Trump Still in Charge, Virus Experts Fear the Worst” (New York Times):

Regardless of the election’s outcome this week, President Trump will be the one steering the country through what is likely to be the darkest and potentially deadliest period of the coronavirus pandemic, and he has largely excluded the nation’s leading health experts from his inner circle.

Mr. Trump will still have control of the nation’s health apparatus and the bully pulpit that comes with the Oval Office until Jan. 20, as infections approach 100,000 a day and death rates begin to rise as hospitals are strained to their breaking points.

The article goes on to note Donald Trump’s many deficiencies when it comes to coronapanic and listening to scientists (listening to the Swedish MD/PhDs or the heretics who wrote and signed the Great Barrington Declaration does not count!).

Why is it obvious, though, that Trump needs to deal with this at all? Whether truth, justice, love, and #science win the election or not, Trump has the power to appoint Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to executive positions tomorrow, right? Since Biden and Harris say that they know how to keep Americans safe from coronavirus, why not let them start keeping us safe tomorrow? Trump and the courts, perhaps, can limit Biden and Harris to doing stuff that is within the bounds of the Constitution, but otherwise let them do whatever they want. (Example: Biden and Harris wouldn’t be able to order a state shut down or reopened because those powers are thought to belong to states (though maybe not! If the First Amendment doesn’t prevent governors from locking down a state, maybe the Constitution does not prevent a president from locking down the country?))

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Blame Libertarians for election confusion?

We’re celebrating here in Massachusetts because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib have been reelected by the wise American people (USA Today). Regarding the folks who were actually on my Massachusetts ballot, most candidates ran unopposed so it isn’t worth discussing the typical “race”. Question 1 passed (about 75/25), which means we can pay state workers to monitor what car manufacturers are doing with their telematics interfaces. Question 2, ranked choice voting, failed (55/45).

The issue of ranked choice and minor parties leads me to wonder whether Jo Jorgensen and the Libertarians are responsible for the fact that we can’t be sure right now how much ridicule should be heaped on me for my failed prediction that Biden-Harris would win. Let’s check out the NYT Results Map:

The NYT hates Libertarians so much that it takes at least three clicks to learn about any Libertarian votes. But if we click down into Wisconsin, which Biden-Harris leads by 1.1 percent, we learn that 1.2 percent of voters chose Ms. Jorgensen. Biden-Harris lead by 0.6 percent in Nevada, with 86 percent of the vote tallied. The Libertarian vote, 0.9 percent, is larger than the difference between mainstream candidates.

Biden-Harris has a 0.2 percent lead in Michigan and 1.1 percent of voters there chose Libertarian. Trump is leading by 1.8 percent in Georgia, but it would be 3 percent if all of the Libertarians had voted for Trump rather than for Shutdown Joe. It’s a similar story in North Carolina. He Who Must Not Be Named leads 1.4 percent with 95 percent of the vote tallied, which is apparently not sufficient to predict the outcome. In NC, 0.9 percent voted Libertarian. If they’d voted against the promised bigger government of President Harris, the spread would be 2.3 percent.

(I’m a small-L libertarian, but it is difficult for me to get behind Joe Jorgensen. She has come out in favor of legalized prostitution, for example. Sex work has traditionally been regulated by state governments, not the federal. So a Calvin Coolidge-style president wouldn’t express an opinion on the subject. It is also unclear how prostitution could ever work in the typical U.S. state, in which it is more profitable to have sex with a high-income customer and harvest the child support than to go to college (or even medical school) and work. See “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage” or just look at the entrepreneur who successfully mined out the Biden family via Hunter Biden. An exception to this rule is Nevada, in which child support profits are capped at about $13,000 per year per child and, as it happens, prostitution is legal in some counties.)

Readers: What do we think? Fair to call the Libertarians the spoilers of 2020? In a country where most voters want a bigger government, higher taxes, and more regulation, should the Libertarians recognize that by running their own candidates they are simply helping Democrats?

Alternatively, if the Republicans were smart, would they try to appease the Libertarians into not running in swing states? Maybe agree to add a Libertarian-themed goal or two into the Republican platform (Rand Paul can draft! (note that “Rand” is short for “Randy”, not a reference to Ayn Rand)). Share some funding with Libertarians in the non-swing states to get the message out. Basically do whatever it takes to stop Libertarians from running in Nevada and the rest of the states described above.

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Biden wins Massachusetts with 2 percent of the vote

The New York times reports: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Massachusetts’ 11 electoral votes”. I read a little more of the page and learned that this fact was reported with 3 percent of the vote counted. In other words, Biden won 2 percent of the votes and that was enough for the NYT to say that he won the state election. Why not report “Biden won” at 7:01 am, then?

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Election outcome prediction?

A Dutch friend asked me, during a weekend WhatsApp, to predict the election outcome. (He also asked “Why couldn’t the Democrats have run Tutankhamun or Elvis? They’re at least as alive as Joe Biden.”) I responded that it was impossible for anyone to predict anything because (1) people who support Trump would be afraid to give an honest answer to a poll-taker, (2) the U.S. “news” is now mostly propaganda designed by the editors to achieve their desired electoral results. “It’s impossible to get unbiased information about what people outside of one’s immediate neighborhood actually think.”

But maybe for fun we can have a bragging rights pool on this blog!

I will go first. I’m a big fan of the “tomorrow will be the same as today” method of weather forecasting and also that people vote their personal interest. So a Ph.D. who works in a government-funded university, a physician who benefits when the government directs more money to health care, and a lawyer who gets paid to help companies navigate the regulatory landscape will all vote for the Democrats and the promised bigger government. A working-class native-born American who is being financially injured by low-skill immigration (Harvard study) will vote for the Republicans. A small business owner who can’t afford the lawyers necessary to thrive in a heavily regulated high-tax environment will similarly vote Republican.

The one factor that I think could drive change is that Americans have been convinced that the federal government can control whether or not people become infected with COVID-19. The raging plagues all over Europe, in countries with governments previously considered excellent (if costly), can’t compete against American media constantly reminding us that Trump is personally responsible for every COVID-19 death on U.S. soil. Also, a lot of Americans are depressed after being locked down for nearly 8 months. Depressed people are willing to try almost anything to escape depression (even the antidepressant drugs that don’t work). Finally, the coronapanic and associated governor-ordered shutdowns have left more Americans than ever dependent on the government. People on welfare tend to vote for Democrats. The “Trump has no empathy” attack has been common in 2020 and it makes sense only if voters expect that the government will be their primary source of housing, health care, food, etc.

I’m going to consider WalletHub’s ranking of states by coronavirus restrictions as a guide to where Americans are eager to surrender what had been considered their freedoms and have the government take care of them. Two Trump states from 2016 that have meekly submitted to lockdowns and school closures are Texas and Pennsylvania. Florida, on the other hand, ranks high in freedom and the governor ordered teachers to teach. So I am going to predict a Trump victory in Florida and a loss in Texas. (Maybe this will be wrong because Bloomberg’s $millions for felons changed the electorate in Florida so much?) The locked-down-and-rioting population in Pennsylvania accepted Rachel Levine (“an American pediatrician currently serving as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health. … She is one of only a handful of openly transgender government officials in the United States”) as their guide so they’ll accept Joe Biden.

Let’s look at the results from 2016: 304/227 in electoral votes. We subtract 58 for the cower-in-place folks in Texas and Pennsylvania and now Donald Trump goes home to tax-free Florida at 246 while President Harris comes in with 285.

Summarized by our unkind friends in lockdown across the pond:

Backup prediction in case the above is spectacularly wrong: Trump won’t win any state that he didn’t win in 2016. Joe Biden’s promise to lock everyone down will be too compelling for a nation that was risk-averse and is now fleeing to what it perceives as security.

Potential second theory: social media companies will deliver this election to the Democrats by driving high turnout (thought to help Democrats and hurt incumbents). I opened Facebook yesterday and almost the entire page was obscured by the company’s in-house ad urging me to vote:

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