Biden, Warren, and Sanders are Beardstown Ladies?

Today was supposed to be the last Democratic Presidential primary. We’ve heard primarily from three candidates: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren (though this article says that all of them are essentially just repeating things that Bernie Sanders said in 2016).

All of these Democrats have said that, through the magic of higher tax rates on the rich, the Federal government will be showered in tax revenue, breaking out of Hauser’s Law that found revenue to be limited to about 20 percent of GDP, independent of the headline rates (1945-2015). In the page pandering to Catholic voters, for example, Biden promises to “get rid of the capital gains loophole for multi-millionaires.” So a multi-millionaire would have to pay a 50% ordinary income tax rate, federal plus state, on capital gains but wouldn’t be able to move to Puerto Rico for 183 days/year and pay 4% instead under Act 22 (and that would be to Puerto Rico, so the Federal Government would get 0%).

I wonder if this kind of magical thinking about the possibilities of a high return on an investment of tax rates is partly due to the politicians’ age. They’re all senior citizens and senior citizens can be prone to mistaken estimates. One of the most famous examples of this is an investment group of women in their 70s known as the Beardstown Ladies, They believed that they’d achieved a 23 percent annual return on investment, beating the S&P 500. When younger people analyzed their returns, the conclusion was that the return had been 9 percent annually, underperforming the S&P 500.

[Some more fun stuff… All of the Democrats told us that immigration will make existing residents of the U.S. better off. It doesn’t matter how low the skill level of the immigrant nor how much in the way of government-provided services the immigrant needs. A 75-year-old migrant who does not speak English and who needs $2 million in health care will make every existing American slightly richer. Admitting several million elderly disabled non-English-speaking immigrants would make us crazy rich.

Joe Biden will deny that there is anything special about having been born with a physician-identified biological female sex at birth (“LGBTQ+ Equality”; what about LGBTQIA+?), but the rest of his policy pages refer to “women” as though it were a persistent well-defined category of humans.]

Readers: What do you think? Are the leading Democrats examples of the elderly being bad at arithmetic? Should we all make sure that we have a durable power of attorney set up for the day that we turn 70 and can’t trust ourselves to make a stock trade?

Full post, including comments

Trump/Pence signs save communities from coronaplague

“Understanding Spatial Variation in COVID-19 across the United States” (National Bureau of Economic Research):

We also find that the severity of the disease is politically patterned: even when controlling for density, counties with a high proportion of Trump
voters in the 2016 general election have lower cases and deaths.

In other words, even the coronavirus cannot bear the sight of a Trump/Pence sign on a front lawn!

So… if you want to find a place in the U.S. where children are likely to be able to go back to school in September, a thinly populated state that voted for Trump in 2016 is the safest choice.

Combining the election results map with states ranked by Covid-19 deaths and states ranked by population density… it looks like the states in which children are most likely to be able to go to school, play on the playground, run around without a mask, etc. are the following:

  • Alaska (no income tax)
  • Wyoming (no income tax)
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota (no income tax)
  • Utah
  • Idaho
  • Nevada (no income tax)

Among the above, my bet is on South Dakota as the least likely to be perturbed by the plague. Based on my source on the ground there, the state had a minimal shutdown, actually tried to reopen schools before the year ran out (unionized teachers thwarted these efforts, though), and has committed to reopening schools and universities in the fall (example).

Readers: What are your bets for which states will offer residents the closest experience to a normal life? (not a “new normal”, which is code for “bad”!)

Full post, including comments

Are the BLM protesters protesting against their own actions?

Friends on Facebook are posting support for the Black Lives Matter protests going on around the U.S. A few brave souls post selfies from the (daytime) protests themselves (the vast majority prefer to show their support by updating their Facebook status!).

My stupid question for today is why city-dwellers need to protest to obtain the changes that they seek. The typical American city in which protests have occurred is ruled by a single political party voted for by a population that overwhelmingly identifies with that one party. If the people who live in a city want a different mayor, want the police department to be disbanded and started over from scratch, etc., why didn’t they already just vote for that? What obstacle was in their path?

Consider a few of the cities that have been in the news lately. My friends on Facebook are saying that the protests are necessary #BecauseRepublicans.

If the single-party voters and politicians in the above cities want to change something, why does anyone have to protest? Why can’t they just change whatever they want to change? Nobody from a different party is opposing them.

I tried asking the Facebook righteous this question. Here are some responses;

Jack is suggesting only Republicans will make the argument that black people need to be more aggressively policed. The prediction is true (regardless of your view on the merits of the argument, because some arguments are only made by one party or the other.)

(What difference does it make what arguments Republicans put forward? Why would the Mayor or the City Council of any of the above cities listen to an argument from a Republican?)

Republicans are the Core of Trump’s supporters, White Supremacists, and folks who never questioned the most bizarre acts of Trump.

(But if those Republicans live and vote in the suburbs, how can they stop the people of Minneapolis, for example, from voting to disband the police department, fire the city employees involved with management of police, replace the mayor, hire a new police force with different objectives, etc.?)

What’s it like for folks who are just trying to live in these towns? A friend in Venice, California (on the border with Santa Monica):

LA looks like a zombie movie. Every business boarded up and spray painted. Mobs with picket signs constantly. Everyone wearing masks. Never seen more thieves in a city in my life. People attempted to rob my house on a Friday at 930p while we were home.

In the chat group, a San Francisco resident responded to the above with security camera footage of a dark-sunglasses-wearing thief sifting through the day’s Amazon and UPS deliveries on his doorstep and taking a package.

A more rural Californian responded: Your stories make me feel better about my decision to live with the plane fueled up and the guns loaded. Lucky for us we are in a highly armed gated community. My father just bought a gun for the first time since when we were in Russia in the 1990s. [She speaks with an accent, so I assume she is an immigrant.]

To all of them, a member responded “Wyoming awaits.”

Separately, from a physician friend: “I bet Canada feels like they live in the apartment above a meth lab.”

Readers: The mayors of the big cities where protests are occurring have come out to support the goals of Black Lives Matter (example from San Francisco). If almost everyone in a city agrees that particular changes need to be made, why can’t they simply make those changes?

Related:

  • “Critics denounce Black Lives Matter platform accusing Israel of ‘genocide'” (Guardian, August 2016): The policy platform titled A Vision for Black Lives, is a wide-spanning document that was drafted by more than 50 organizations known as the Movement for Black Lives. … In the Invest/Divest section of the platform, the group criticizes the US government for providing military aid to Israel. “The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people,” the platform says. “Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people.” (If the U.S. police kill only the occasional citizen while Israel is committing “genocide” against millions of Palestinians, why is BLM bothering to protest anything being done in the U.S.?)
  • L.A. Protest Draws 50,000
Full post, including comments

Elizabeth Warren wants to fight inequality with a $3 billion ferry for the nation’s richest people

Are you a lower-middle class taxpayer in Iowa or Arkansas? Elizabeth Warren wants you to buy $3 billion in ferry tickets for the nation’s richest people, i.e., folks who can afford summer houses on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and similar island retreats: “Markey, Warren, Keating Seek Federal Aid for Steamship Authority”:

With the financially strapped Steamship Authority in mind, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation is requesting $3 billion in aid to keep the country’s ferry industry afloat.

In a letter sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer on May 7, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Cong. Bill Keating pleaded for additional dollars for ferries, citing the SSA’s plummet in passenger traffic and the fiscal strains caused by the pandemic.

What else can middle-class taxpayers in the mostly plague-free “flyover” states buy for us?

(How much does $3 billion buy when it is not a U.S. state government spending the money? Indonesia has a Navy with roughly 140 vessels and 55 aircraft to patrol its 3,000 x 1,100 mile territory, which includes 17,504. islands. The total military budget of Indonesia is about $9 billion (Wikipedia), so presumably the Indonesian Navy spends close to $3 billion per year.)

Related:

Full post, including comments

Canadians want us to have all of their assault weapons

My gun enthusiast friends are excited by “Canada bans assault-style weapons after its worst ever mass murder” (CNN):

“You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa. “So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in this country.”

“These weapons were designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada,” Trudeau said.

Commonsense gun control, certainly. Canadians don’t want anyone to be shot and killed, so the weapons will be melted down and turned into shovels to dig up oil sands that can be turned into crude oil (after emitting tons of CO2 for processing), right? Maybe not:

The ban is effective immediately but disposal of the weapons will be subject to a two-year amnesty period. Trudeau said some form of compensation would also be put in place but the firearms can also be exported and sold after a proper export license is obtained.

So there is “no use and no place for such weapons in Canada”, but maybe, in Justin Trudeau’s opinion, people in Detroit need them for blasting coronavirus out of the air?

[Update, inspired by a comment below: Human life is priceless, which is why we need to shut down our economy for 50 years, if necessary, to prevent even one needless death from Covid-19. Assault rifles are dangerous and put human life, which is priceless, at risk. Why wait two years to collect them? Shouldn’t the weapons be collected no later than Monday at 5 pm?]

Full post, including comments

Will anyone pay attention to the Democrats now that Bernie is gone?

Bernie Sanders, my personal favorite candidate among the Democrats, has dropped out of the primary race. I wonder if this will actually hurt the Democrats. If there is no contest at all, who will pay attention to the anything that Biden does or says between now and Labor Day? How many people tune into a one-person boxing match?

[Why do I love Bernie? He is the only one willing to say “this is dumb” with respect to spending 17 percent of GDP on health care and not covering everyone (I proposed a universal coverage system back in 2009, it has some similarities with Germany’s). Bernie is the political example of zero-based budgeting. Congress sets the budget, so all that Bernie or any other president can do is suggest. It is not that I am fond of most of Bernie’s specific policy ideas so much as it would be nice to have someone in D.C. who pushes a zero-based budgeting idea. Ronald Reagan might have been the last president to do this (Congress ignored him).

Biden’s political philosophy on what Americans should get for the 35-40% percent of the GDP that is government is based solely on the assumption that whatever the government was doing/spending in the past was optimum (maybe not the last three years of the criminal Trump dictatorship, of course, but certainly in 2016). So Biden proposes slight tweaks to government programs from 2016, perhaps adjusting for inflation or maybe adding a mask and ventilator budget for the next respiratory disease epidemic.

Bernie, on the other hand, asks “You’re working 1 day out of 5 to pay for health care. What do you want the system to do for you?” and “Housing is a fundamental right. How much do we need to budget to put everyone in a house without a waiting list?”

Biden’s approach is comparable to the way that big dumb corporations did things in the 1960s. We spent $X on marketing last year so let’s spend $X*1.07 this year. Nobody in Dumb Co. asks “What would be the optimum and/or necessary amount to spend on marketing?” The U.S. has built the world’s second largest welfare state, as a percentage of GDP, without anyone, since the mid-1960s, asking “What do we want our welfare state to provide and to whom?”]

Readers: Was it a strategic error by the Democrats if they didn’t beg Bernie to keep campaigning, even if it isn’t fun to campaign from one of your Vermont mansions via webcam?

Separately, how are my Facebook friends reacting? A West Coaster:

His friends respond:

Which rapist do you want? Biden or Trump?

Stand up and work for the platform. The platform is more important than any one person. The ideas. FDR’s ideas!

(Which of FDR’s ideas does she like? Interning anyone who might be considered likely to wage domestic jihad or to be infected with coronavirus? See Korematsu v. United States.)

The Biden Believers don’t seem too worried. Here’s an April 9, 2020 meme that got 1,700 shares within the first 5 hours:

Full post, including comments

Drafting coronavirus into the Army of the Righteous

March 20, 2020 Facebook posting from a wealthy (via marriage) Democrat:

Civil liberties, covid-19,Trump, and November election on my mind.

Her friend responds:

As much as I want this whole Covid-19 thing to be over, my biggest fear is that it will abate and the stock market/economy will rebound in time for the November election and Trump will claim credit and be re-elected.

Clicking on the friend’s page reveals a late middle-age woman with a cat, no sign of a husband, birth in Massachusetts and residence in Vermont, a recently graduated son (let’s hope she sued for child support in Massachusetts, which is much more lucrative than suing in Vermont!). Googling her name brings up a LinkedIn page that says she has worked for the state government in Vermont since 1982.

How did other friends respond to the response?

original poster: “and the 1200/ month got eligible families will help him too. Grrr.”

female-named friend #2: “it’s so orchestrated too!”

male-named friend: “I share your fear of his being reelected; however, my greatest fear is clearly the immediate problem– the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health of all Americans, and will quickly overwhelm our health care system.”

[On that last one: Not only are viruses smarter than humans, but there is a virus more evil than Trump himself?!?!]

I’ve also seen a lot of Facebook postings from Democrats enthused about what they hope will be differential death rate; the healthy brown virtuous Bernie supporters will sail through the coronaplague, while old white Republicans will be culled from the voting herd.

The most confusing and fascinating phenomenon is the continued stream of anti-Trump abuse being posted by Facebookers who live in New York and California. Sometimes they will say that Trump is intentionally trying to harm “blue states” (they got a letter from God on the subject of Trump’s intentions so they know what motivates him?). As Commander in Chief, Trump had the discretion to send the Navy’s two hospital ships anywhere in the world. If “all lives have equal value” and we’re right about the “science” (epidemiological prophecies), the most logical places to send the ships are Brazil and Sweden. Due to their failures to lockdown, science tells us that this is where unfettered exponential growth will occur. Or maybe to India or Africa, both of which are going to be short of hospital beds.

If Trump believes, unreasonably, that American lives have more value than non-American lives, he could easily have decided to send the ships to Florida and New Orleans, i.e., a swing state and a state that voted for him.

When I point this out to the New York and California-based Trump haters, they are not motivated to reduce their level of contempt and hatred. Trump is a “fool”, a “sociopath” (but not one smart enough to send the ships to a state where people might vote for him?), etc. One popular retort is that Trump does not have the authority to tell the ships where to go. The President is only Commander in Chief during wartime and this is not a war. Therefore, it is a mid-level Navy bureaucrat (the Trump haters can’t say which one, but they are confident that Trump does not a say) who made a technocratic decision to send the ships to LA and NYC (this does not make logical sense; California is not forecast to run out of hospital or ICU beds while Louisiana will run out of both).

Full post, including comments

Wailing over Elizabeth Warren’s defeat betrays heretical anti-rainbow flag religious beliefs?

A Facebook friend who is passionate about both Elizabeth Warren and the Rainbow Flag (LBGTQIA+) religion posted “Elizabeth Warren endured sexism at every step of her campaign” (Guardian):

The next president, it is now assured, will be a man.

Setting aside the insulting dismissal of Tulsi Gabbard, this statement betrays extreme cisgender-normative prejudice and a denial of gender fluidity. How does the author (or anyone) know that Joe Biden won’t identify as a woman by the time January 2021 rolls around?

Nobody predicted Bruce Jenner adopting a new gender ID, right? Is there something more inherently male about Joe Biden than there was about Bruce Jenner? (an immigrant friend after Super Tuesday: “I can’t believe they picked the most demented puppet. The guy had to be defended by his wife from a vegan. He needs a physical and a head CT. Strikes me as a guy with cortical atrophy.”)

If there is nothing special about being born with a doctor-identified female biological sex, how can there be anything special about Elizabeth Warren compared to Joe Biden purely on account of her (potentially transitory) current gender ID?

From March 9, 2020 in our righteous neighborhood (Lincoln, Massachusetts, soon to be home of the most expensive school building, per student, ever constructed in the United States):

Related:

Full post, including comments

Thomas Edison and electronic voting

Another day, another batch of primary elections. (How are the candidates doing? Is it obvious at this point that Biden (“the senile puppet,” as an immigrant friend puts it) will win everything?)

I recently finished Edison by Edmund Morris. It turned out that, like the Iowa Democrats, Thomas Edison thought that tabulating votes was a problem in search of a tech solution:

Working nights at Western Union, and by day literally under Williams’s roof in a third-floor attic, Edison invented and made half a dozen devices, including a stock ticker, a fire alarm, and a facsimile telegraph printer (“which I intend to use for Transmitting Chinese Characters”). He executed his first successful patent application on 13 October [1868; age 21] for an electrochemical vote recorder, whittling the submission model himself from pieces of hardwood. “To become a good inventor, you must first know how to use a jackknife.” It was a clever device—too clever to be commercial, as he soon found out. Designed to speed up the laborious process of vote counting in legislative bodies, it took signals of “aye” or “nay” from electric switches on every desk and imprinted them on a roll of chemically prepared paper, in each case identifying the signal with the legislator’s name. At the same time it separately tabulated the votes on an indicator dial. Edison’s dream of seeing his “recordograph” clicking and spinning in the chambers of Congress dissolved when he heard that speedy voting was the last thing politicos wanted in the passage of bills. They needed time to lobby one another in medias res. Edison resolved that hereafter he would invent only things that people wanted to use.

Since at least 1868, then, we have been inventing better machines for counting American votes, but nobody has worked on inventing better Americans!

Full post, including comments

Popularity of Bernie Sanders proves that Marx was right?

Karl Marx remains one of the most referenced and taught authors in Academia today. The best that one has been able to say about him was that he was a great historian and sociologist, but a failure as a prophet. It was supposed to be a rich industrialized country that turned socialist and, ultimately, communist, not a relatively poor and just-beginning-to-industrialize country such as Russia. (the Bolsheviks got a big boost from Germany, though, which may have distorted the natural course of history)

What if the socialist governments that returned to a market system, e.g., in Russia and China, were not evidence that Marx was wrong, but only that the particular countries that had adopted socialism weren’t rich enough?

The U.S. right now is in an unprecedented position of material prosperity. Americans on welfare today have a far higher material standard of living than did middle class Americans in Marx’s time. Suppose that Bernie wins the primary elections and then at least wins the popular vote in November. Wouldn’t that be evidence that Marx was right? Once a country is rich enough, the working class citizens will demand socialism and many of the elites will go along with this.

Full post, including comments