Interesting reading

January 18th, 2020


A Quinnipiac poll out this week shows Mr. Sanders with 39% support among Democrats under 34 and only 7% of those 65 and older. Gaps between the old and young have shaped American life at least since the 1950s, and it was the boomers themselves who made rebellion synonymous with youth. But this axis of today’s struggle could change politics for generations to come, as millennials reject the country’s capitalist consensus and embrace socialism in record numbers. Fifty percent of adults under 38 told the Harris Poll last year that they would “prefer living in a socialist country.” That outlook recurs in many more surveys and far surpasses figures from even the radical heydays of the ’60s and ’70s. In 1974, pollster Daniel Yankelovich found that three-quarters of Americans 25 to 34 felt the country had “moved dangerously close to socialism.”

Critics often blame today’s socialist surge on millennials’ laziness. More charitably, some note that left-wing professors dominate college campuses. One free-market economist has a different explanation. Edward Glaeser, a Harvard professor and Manhattan Institute senior fellow, believes the problem lies more in economics than culture or education.

Mr. Glaeser, 52, argues that young people have radicalized politically because “there are a number of ways in which the modern American economy isn’t working all that well for them.” Many public policies make it harder to get a job, save money or find an affordable home, leaving young idealists thinking, “Why not try socialism?” But that cure would merely worsen the disease.

Mr. Glaeser decries policies that constrain the job market and increase the cost of living compared with what the economy would produce if left alone. “In many cases,” he says, “there seems to be a sense in which insiders have managed to stack the deck against outsiders.” People who have secured a foothold in one way or another—homeowners, union laborers, retirees—have advocated policies that make it harder for “newcomers,” including immigrants and young people, to advance.

Consider the housing market. “In the 1960s and earlier,” Mr. Glaeser says, “America basically had a property-rights regime that meant that anyone who had a plot of land could pretty much put up anything reasonable on that plot of land.” Since then, cities and towns have circumscribed the areas where homes can be built, capped numbers of units, and imposed strict requirements on developers—all of which raise prices. “So there’s this intergenerational redistribution that’s occurred by restricting housing supply.”

People who bought homes while the rules were lenient, or who are wealthy enough to have bought lately, have seen their values soar. Meanwhile, “younger people just don’t have housing wealth.” By 2013, a 35- to 44-year-old person at the 75th percentile had less than half as much home equity (adjusted for inflation) as his counterpart did 30 years earlier.

Prices are especially inflated in high-income metropolises such as New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. As a result, many highly educated millennials forgo future earnings and settle in less expensive places like Salt Lake City, Boise, Idaho, and Nashville, Tenn. “We have people who are moving to areas primarily because of housing being inexpensive rather than because it’s particularly productive,” Mr. Glaeser says. Those who lack college degrees can’t afford to live close to the well-paid service jobs in major cities. “Prior to 1980, poor people moved to high-wage areas,” he says. Today, “we have a trickle.”

The shift of income toward those Mr. Glaeser calls the “entrenched” is most explicit in entitlement programs. “The original Medicare design is relatively mild,” he says. A comparatively young age distribution and a limited range of treatments made the plan feasible when it began in 1966. “But basically the system is set up so that no matter what medical treatment can be created, they pretty much all get to be paid for.” The program now exceeds 3% of gross domestic product. Young people “see many of these benefits, including Social Security” as “going to older rich people.” They’re funded by payroll taxes, which snag a disproportionate share of low-earners’ paychecks.

Taxpayers also pony up ever more to fund the retirements of government employees. “Some of the most egregious things at the urban level are the public pension plans,” Mr. Glaeser says. “This is a system that stacks compensation very strongly toward the end of life with very long, very generous pensions.” Public liabilities have swelled since 1960 as government hiring outpaced population growth, and state and local pensions now claim about 1.5% of GDP each year. Each payment to a former bus driver or teacher might come at the expense of a young family’s savings or a small-business owner’s investment in new jobs.

How did the land of opportunity become overgrown with policies that keep newcomers from moving up? Mr. Glaeser cites a theory developed by the economist Mancur Olson, author of “The Rise and Decline of Nations” (1982). “Olson had this vision of how economies rise and fall,” Mr. Glaeser says. “A successful, stable economy acquires these interest groups, which essentially block change, which protect their interests, and which make it impossible to do anything new.”

Thus the Uber scam in CA, which is about protecting a donation group. And then there’s His Royal Majesty, the King of The Skim is the Scam.

ALSO: government stupidity update via the GAO.

A few more Iran comparisons

January 17th, 2020

So Iran is around number 95 in the list of countries in GDP per capita today, right around Jamaica, if we recall correctly. We don’t know where it was on the list in 1979, but this is not a story of Iran’s progress, rather the opposite.

40 years ago Iran’s GDP per capita was 1.4x that of Korea, and now Korea’s is 6.8x that of Iran. Wow! Not good for a country with the 4th largest oil reserves in the world.

As we said the other day, no wonder the people are fuming and rioting.

Angry numbers produce angry people in Iran

January 16th, 2020

Iran’s GDP per capita in 1979 was $2400, and in 2018 was around $5300. The US numbers are $11,700 and around $63,000. Iranians were promised a lot at the beginning of this story 40 years ago:

Iranians “were promised free electricity and a share of the country’s oil revenues every month. They expected to sleep snug in their warm beds at home in the winter, to stay cool in the sultry summers and to do nothing except spend their oil revenues and eat “chelo kebab”! So, they joined the fray and chanted, “Death to the Shah!” and “Death to America!” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had indeed promised his followers free electricity and cash from oil revenues.”

Instead, what they got, via the numbers above, was a decline in Iranian GDP per capita vs. US from 21% to 8% in forty years (with lots of money going to nasty warmaking). Lots of lessons in all this, and here is one from Angelo Codevilla: “Human beings can tolerate almost anything from rulers except demonstrations of incompetence.”

Takeaways: (1) a two thirds decline in relative GDP per capita over 40 years is nothing to write home about; indeed, it is something to riot about. (2) Finally, this story is utterly obvious, based on the dramatic numbers. Where is it being reported?

A little enjoyment

January 15th, 2020

We couldn’t watch the debate for two seconds, for the obvious reasons. Ugh. But this commentary is ok. As a bonus, we learned that someone from the UN once made sense. We’ll not say much about a former colleague who made most of his money from coal etc. and now says he’s going to “save the world.” Van Jones is right about these characters. Jeesh.


January 15th, 2020

Some days you don’t learn anything: “Well, the regime — the protesters are — are protesting, as I understand it, this brand of protesters, about the fact that that plane went down. And many students were on that plane. And these are largely students in the street.” Aha!

OTOH again, Austin Bay

You learn something new every day

January 14th, 2020

It turns out that Gulags are Good! Gosh. However, we can think of 1,053,829 people who might disagree with that.

More numbers, some falling 50%

January 13th, 2020


Beginning around 1990, China’s auto market grew continuously from virtually nothing into a behemoth, eclipsing the U.S. by 2009 and posting many years of double-digit-percentage growth along the way. An expanding middle class fueled demand for new vehicles, prompting foreign auto makers to create joint ventures with locals and invest heavily in building new plants. The total number of cars owned by China’s 1.4 billion citizens reached 260 million last year.

Foreign and domestic auto makers, habituated to growth in a market where their biggest challenge was building factories quickly enough to meet demand, are hurting. General Motors Co. posted its biggest-ever China sales drop last year and warned of a tough 2020. Ford Motor Co’s annual sales fell for the third year in a row, by 26% to 570,000 vehicles — less than half the nearly 1.3 million vehicles it sold at its peak in 2016.

Must be the Orange Man wreaking international havoc. Have to check CNN to find out…

444 days too many

January 12th, 2020

The 1979 hostage crisis was one of the worst things ever handled, er, mishandled. Despite the family being lifelong D’s, just couldn’t pull the lever in 1980 for the guy who screwed things up. Roger Kimball has a good piece on the current insanity: “the oblivion that wraps historical and political stupidity in blinking impunity will also extract any toll of responsibility from those future cheerleaders who denounce Donald Trump today. It is all part of the human comedy, distracting, amusing even, when approached with sufficient cynicism. It is not, however, agreeable or edifying.” Even worse than 1979, take a look at the front-runners today – they’re even worse than Carter. Even after the two generation breakdown of the US education system, the nuttiness makes no sense at all. (Yes it does: it’s all the result of global warming.)

Another day

January 11th, 2020


On Saturday, protesters with Iran’s MEK Freedom Movement took to the streets in Tehran to protest after Iran’s government admitted having shot down a Ukrainian plane by mistake, killing 176 people on board. Iran’s government claimed that the U.S. airstrike killing Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani had united the country, but the protests disproved that narrative.

“Protests erupt against the Revolutionary Guards at Amir-Kabir University in Tehran due to authorities’ incompetence and negligence after the recent plane crash that killed more than 176 people,” Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad reported on Twitter. “Some people had claimed Iranians were united after [Soleimani]’s death. Think again.”

“‘IRGC, shame on you. Let go of our country’ – chants at [Iran protests] today in Tehran’s Amirkabir University after the Revolutionary Guards admit to shooting down a [Ukrainian plane],” M. Hanif Jazayeri, an Iranian journalist based in Britain, tweeted. He summarized remarks from National Council of Resistance of Iran leader Maryam Rajavi, who called the plane crash “a great crime that Iran’s people will neither forgive nor forget.”

WaPo: Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do. It’s a war crime,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate. Apparently some folks like Orange Man’s ideas better than the US media and politicians.

As wise as a six year old

January 10th, 2020

We knew a six year old whose favorite joke went like the following. Q: what’s the difference between a goat and hard butter? A: But, get it? But. Fast forward to today, and now we have great spokesmen for the USA with all the wisdom of this six year old.

Well, duh…

January 9th, 2020

BBC: “Iran has said it will not hand over black box flight recorders recovered from a plane that crashed with 176 people on board to manufacturer Boeing or to the US.” Gosh, that’s going to make it impossible to figure out what happened. Duh.

Salmonella was a shockingly bad guy

January 8th, 2020

He was going to have the Saudi ambassador killed at a restaurant in DC, in addition to all the other horrible things he did. His “status as a career terrorist and the ayatollah regime’s career commitment to financing, training and using terrorists are absolutely essential contexts for understanding the latest clashes in the long war on America that Khomeini proclaimed in 1979.” Frankly, it’s amazing that he was still alive until the other day, but that says a lot about the quality of his opposition, until now. The president gave a fine and brief talk about all this, and it has given us some optimism about the future. It speaks well of the secretary of state as well, and it certainly has made the president’s MSM critics look like the fools they are. Want an example? – consider this ridiculous 1160 word critique of the president’s 1050 word remarks by FIVE writers at the AP. They remind us a little of that green lady in the movie. Here’s hoping.

“the grand figure of our revolution”

January 5th, 2020

That’s according to Iranian state television, which is pretty much all anyone needs to know about Soleimani. If you do want to know more, here’s a list of his Top Ten atrocities. BTW, we’re doing some work looking at the top US companies making military drones; nice to know the drones work pretty well.

Lots of opinions

January 4th, 2020

Petraeus, Codevilla, VDH, Hollywood, CNN (oops, that’s not even about Iran), Carlson, and on and on. Russia, China, NK, and on and on and on. We’ve got some strong opinions as well, but we’ll defer on those, since opinions seem to be racing far ahead of facts at this point.

Funny guy

January 3rd, 2020

Cruz: “Perhaps it would have been a better idea to send him $1.7 billion in unmarked bills, in pallets on planes in the dead of night, so he could kill more Americans.”

Bonus from the Secretary of State: “I’ll be straight up with you. You have folks who served in the previous administration who are telling the Iranian leaders today, ‘Just hang on. President Trump will lose in the election in November and we’ll go back to appeasement. America will write you a big check, we’ll underwrite your terror campaign around the world, we’ll give you a clear pathway to a nuclear weapon system. Just wait until the Trump administration is finished.’”


January 2nd, 2020

at Cornell 166 to 6, at Stanford 151 to 17, at UCLA 141 to 9, and at the University of Colorado 116 to 5. where did 93% of the dough go? Thx Bainbridge and AT.

Happy New Year

January 1st, 2020

Maybe we’ll be back tomorrow or maybe we’ll wait until the Three Unwise Men get indicted. In any event, Happy New Year!

Pick your universe

December 31st, 2019

Here’s a Colorado political ad featuring St. Greta. Here’s the commentary from the page featuring the ad: “You and I face a crisis unlike any in human history but we can change course. How? By demanding respect for science and reason, by treating the climate crisis as an existential threat—and by electing leaders who will too. Watch our new video and chip in as much as you can to spread this message today. We’re taking on an enormous fight and winning won’t be easy. But the stakes are too high to do anything less. This is an emergency. Let’s act like it.”

What’s that we hear? Oh yeah, it’s Putin and Xi laughing in the background as they celebrate helping turn half the USA into idiots. Did we just say idiots?

Hide the decline.

Another mini-edition of two universes

December 30th, 2019

Best of 2019 on Pacifica BB. If you’re one of the deplorables, you are a racist deplorable as is the guy you like, and this comes from all PhD professors at the highest universities. They are quite open and comfortable in their judgments, as are most in the skim is the scam world. Business and entrepreneurs are so tacky, don’t you know. Something really big is going to have to change to end this suicidal foolishness — big and unfortunately extremely bad. A very bad time for this country…

Update: the rare PhD VDH discusses the “battles against a now hard-leftist Democratic Party, the NeverTrump Right, the media, the academic and cultural elite, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the Washington deep state. Never underestimate how greatly the hatred of Donald Trump can warp the mind of a Ph.D.”

And lock up Uncle Pennybags

December 29th, 2019

“Give every American the opportunity to attend a two-year or four-year public college without paying a dime in tuition or fees.” K-12 education: Add $450 billion to Title I, $200 billion for students with disabilities, $100 billion for “excellence grants,” and $50 billion for school upgrades. Student-debt forgiveness: Write off $50,000 for households with incomes under $100,000.

Make companies with revenue over $1 billion obtain a new federal charter — separate from the current state charter system — that requires them to “consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders.” Give workers 40% of board seats.

Medicare for All: Mandate government coverage for everyone, including for illegal immigrants, with no copays or deductibles. Phase out the private plans of 170 million Americans.

Green New Deal: Spend $3 trillion, including $1.5 trillion on industrial mobilization, $400 billion on research, and $100 billion on a Marshall Plan. By 2030 hit 100% carbon-neutral power and 100% zero-emission new cars. Retrofit “4% of houses and buildings every year.”

Banking: Pass “a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act that breaks up the big banks.” Let the U.S. Postal Service “partner with local community banks” to provide “basic banking services like checking and savings accounts.”

Recruit 10,000 people to “a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps.” End entry fees at national parks. Buy flood-prone houses “for low-income homeowners at a value that will allow them to relocate.”

Tax the investment gains of the wealthiest 1% as ordinary income, meaning rates near 40% instead of today’s 23.8%. Apply the tax annually on gains via a “mark to market” system, even if the asset hasn’t been sold.

Also: Everyone except Uncle Pennybags can Pass Go and collect $200 or $200 trillion. No need to guess who proposes this, it could be many of the candidates, the squad etc. But the most important part of the program has been left out: (1) Rename the country.