Saturday, February 11, 2017


One of the greatest insights of economics is that individual incentives work while group rewards and punishments don’t. Collective guilt doesn’t work to change anyone’s behavior. In the end, collective guilt, fashioned from bogus analysis and delight in stereotypes, is mere slander. It’s a formula for constant antagonism and it’s poisoning American politics.--Easterly

According to NYU political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, waging war is one of the surest means to success for a president, at least as far as getting re-elected constitutes success.
"A sociologist is constantly amazed by the obvious."

The 48 elections since 1824 have produced 18 presidents that received less than 50% of the popular vote. In 1876, with 51%, Tilden is the only presidential loser to win a majority of the popular vote.

Iconoclasts! Fifty statues of Christ and other Christian figures have been defaced and smashed apart in a crime wave sweeping parts of Germany.

Meme: n: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. It was coined in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, by British scientist Richard Dawkins which he defined as "a unit of cultural transmission." 
The Greek root was mim-, meaning "mime" or "mimic." The English suffix -eme indicates a distinctive unit of language structure, as in "grapheme," "lexeme," and "phoneme." So it is a sort of bi-lingual pun.

Data show that people don’t identify as happier today than a half-century ago. If true, that is perhaps evidence in favor of the “hedonic treadmill” theory of psychology, which claims that people quickly get used to improvements in their lives and take them for granted. Now of course there may be a problem distinguishing between comfort and happiness.

One of the rarest of all Enigma Machines, the M4, designed for use by the German Navy during World War II, was sold earlier this month at Bonhams for $463,500.

Who is....Robert Gates?

Craig Murray insisted that the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks did not come from the Russians, and were given to the whistle-blowing group by Americans who had authorized access to the information. 

President Obama famously mocked Mitt Romney in 2012 for suggesting that Russia was our principal geopolitical adversary. Yet today they are upset over the closeness of secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, to Vladimir Putin. And apparently shocked, shocked (!), over the Russian efforts in the U.S. elections. Re: the latter, Obama has promised action. Another line in the sand?
On the other hand, what the Russians are being accused of is revealing the truth. The truth! And they are denying it! Crazy. Maybe a new crime: "Unwarranted revelation of the truth."
(I am not approving of hacking or theft here but it is a strange combination of factors.)
So we are facing the bizarre situation of American politicians routinely lying in campaigns and objecting to the release of their own communications--which are truthful.
Disinformation is a fascinating field and everyone should inform themselves about it. (For example, what if all the scurrilous DNC conversations about Sanders were untrue? What if the clearly bigoted discussions regarding Catholics were planted by the Russians?)

According to the ABA, for the first time, women make up a majority of law students, holding just over 50 percent of the seats at accredited law schools in the United States.

The Squid and their numbers: Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) has agreed to pay $56.5 million to resolve a U.S. class action lawsuit accusing it and other banks of rigging an interest rate benchmark used in the $553 trillion derivatives market.

Gunmen killed five female security employees and their driver on their way to work at Kandahar airport in south Afghanistan, officials said, the latest episode of violence against women in the country’s security sector. I wonder whose idea the "female security employees" was? Remember when the Americans were making the tribal councils in Iraq have women members--until they were missing meetings because they had been murdered.? Forcing social change from the top down.

Pennsylvania gasoline tax will rise eight cents in 2017 to become 72 cents per gallon, the highest in the nation.

The “race to the bottom” is yet another common myth about free trade and globalization that is refuted daily by what is actually happening in the world.  If the theory were true – that a major driver of investment decisions for American multinational companies is a remorseless search for cheap labor and low standards abroad – then we should expect that most outward foreign investment from the United States would flow to low-wage, low-standard countries.  The reality is quite the opposite.  The large majority of U.S. outward investment flows to other rich, developed, high-wage, high-standard countries.--Griswold

In its January issue, National Geographic is featuring nine-year-old transgender rights activist Avery Jackson on its cover.

Free Trade!  What is it?  Why, breaking down the barriers that separate nations; those barriers, behind which nestle the feelings of pride, revenge, hatred, and jealousy, which every now and then burst their bounds, and deluge whole countries with blood; those feelings which nourish the poison of war and conquest, which assert that without conquest we can have no trade, which foster that lust for conquest and dominion which sends forth your warrior chiefs to scatter devastation through other lands, and then calls them back that they may be enthroned securely in your passions, but only to harass and oppress you at home.--Richard Cobdon

"Obama should submit any Putin documents to WikiLeaks to be authenticated to our standards if he wants them to be seen as credible." This is a tweet from Wikileaks; the thieves want to authenticate the stolen emails! Curioser and curioser.

In The Prince, written in 1513, Machiavelli advocated openly that in the art of ruling efficiency has to be more important than ethics, and that rulers often have to lie, cheat, and take all sorts of measures that are cruel and ruthless. It is nice to know that current leaders are part of a historical philosophical tradition.

Former Secretary of Defense, Robert  Gates said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on the Russian hacking: "Putin saw the United States withdrawing from around the world. I think actually the problem has been that President Obama's action often have not matched his rhetoric. His rhetoric has often been pretty tough," Gates said. "But then there's been no follow up and no action. And if you combine that with red lines that have been crossed, demands that (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) step down with no plan to actually figure out how to make that happen, the withdrawal from the Middle East, from Iraq and Afghanistan and essentially the way it was done, I think it sent a signal that the U.S. was in retreat." "I think some of the things that have been done have accentuated that impression around the world. And I think Putin felt that he could take advantage of that," Gates explained.

“The only phone call Donald would always take,” a Trump insider told Politico last July, “was Ivanka.”

When immigrants enter the workforce two very important other things change. First, immigrant workers spend or invest their earnings, both of which activities increase the demand for labor – thus putting upward pressure on wages. So more happens than just their lower wage. A second change is one that was emphasized by Adam Smith: larger supplies of workers, as well as more consumers of the economy’s output, lead to greater specialization. Jobs change.  As Smith explained, this greater specialization makes workers more productive.  This increased productivity, in turn, causes wages to rise. From Bordeaux, who then adds, "the population today of the 13 original U.S. states is more than 34 times larger than it was in 1776.  And yet wages in these states today, far from being lower."
The response would logically be, "But a lot more is going on in the economy than just the immigration," which is exactly the point.

AAAaaaaannnnnndddddd.......a cartoon:

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