Climate Change Headline: “Trump to Planet: Drop Dead”

Let hope it does not come to that, but at 3 PM today, this may be the tragically perfect headline:

“Trump to Planet: Drop Dead”

That, basically, was the NY Daily News headline  (Ford to NYC: Drop Dead) in 1975 when then President Ford came out against loan guarantees for the bankrupt New York City.  Ford the narrowly lost New York, and so the 1976 election.

Today may be the planetary tipping point.

Update: Lets hope that this does Trump’s Presidency in.  Later on June 1, the Huffington used the same language to headline their coverage on their main page, apparently as of 3:36 PM that day (posting time of actual article.)

NBER Report Suggests We Should Not Blame Polarization on the Internet.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has long been a highly respected and independent source of analysis on economic and statistical matters.  So it is well worth paying attention when they focus on the impact of the Internet on polarization.

A recent Report concludes:

We find that the increase in polarization is largest among the groups least likely to use the internet and social media.  .  .  .  Across intermediate age groups, the growth in polarization is consistently higher among older respondents. Polarization increases more for the old than the young in eight of the nine individual measures. A similar pattern emerges for groups of respondents divided by our broader index of predicted internet use.

The paper admits that there may be ways of explaining the phenomenon to dissolve the inconsistency, but, given its breadth of measures, that seems unlikely.

Indeed un-linking Internet access statistics from polarization does not exclude the possibility that the existence of the Internet incentivizes the taking of extreme positions, and that those incentives work on populations regardless of their internet access.  It may be, or example, that what the Internet did was make it possible for marginal voices to be amplified much more by mainstream media who reach lower information people.  In other words, we would be worse off without the Internet.

However, when you think about it, the “beauty” of the “Internet did it” meme is that no one needs to take responsibility.  Not the commentators, not the politicians, not the newsfolks, not the religious leaders.  Not the increase in inequality, not the massive insecurity, not the reduction of need for those with traditional blue collar jobs.  Not the increasing costs of housing and education and the impossibility of getting both.

Holding people responsible for what they say and advocate — and what they said yesterday, and weeks, months and years ago is easier than ever before.  Understanding economic change should also be easier than ever.

So, while the Internet alone may have some second order effects, its much more important to look at the big picture of ideas and leadership.



Will the New York State Zero Cost Public College Commitment Make the Partisan Divide Between the States Worse?

Its astonishing that the new New York State budget, assuming it gets approval from the rubber stamp members of the legislatture, includes a guarantee that anyone in a family earning less than $125,000 (after phase in) will not have to pay any college tuition to go to SUNY or CUNY.  It is not a perfect plan, for example you have to stay in the state for as long as you received benefits.

But it will act as a magnet for families in terms of where they move, increasing the appeal for those who are deeply committed to education.  Moreover those already in the state will surely obtain more eeduction, and learn to think and vote like grads.

Given that education is such a high predictor of voting behavior, its hard not to think that in the long term, and particularly if similar plans are adopted by other states, that this will speed up the political “sorting” already going on.

Simply put, education oriented states are investing more in education, will attract those committed to education, will increase the numbers with education and thus change both individual and aggregated voting behavior.  Those who do not value education will not choose those states.

That process does not make state red states less red, or blue states less blue.

Conversely, a federal “no cost” guarantee, as urged by many, would perhaps tend to have the opposite effect.  At a minimum with a such a program low education commitment states would end up subsidizing high education commitment states .  At least the change would reduce the opposite current state transfer effect, in which blue states generally making much larger federal revenue contributions.



The Really Bad Demographic News for Trump’s Gang is the Rising Number With Graduate Education Experience

As noted in my recent blog, quoting Fivethirtyeight:

Trump actually won whites who earned only a bachelor’s degree by a fairly wide margin. Just as big a gap was between the votes of those who graduated from college and those who went to graduate school. The latter group supported Clinton in much larger numbers.

Actually, for whites, College Graduate Trump margin is 14%, for some grad school (i.e any at all) Clinton margin is 13%.

Now losing a group is not a problem, if you get other groups, unless the group you lose is already big, and getting bigger faster.  This from the Census Bureau, back in 2014, as of 2013 (data including all races):

The number of people with some graduate education now exceeds the number who have just a bachelor’s degree –36 million to 30 million, one of the interesting findings in the newly released 2013 educational attainment table package.

An interesting aspect of the increase in education has been the rising tendency of people with a bachelor’s degree to return to school and get more education. The number of adults who have completed some graduate school increased 24 percent from 2008 to 2013, from 29 million to 36 million. That is to say, 7 million more people have experienced at least some graduate school education than was the case five years ago. As you can see, going to graduate school for additional education beyond a college degree has become the majority experience for those with a bachelor’s degree.  (Bold added.)

That is good news for lots of reasons, not least in its long term voting projection implications.

Strange Op-Ed on “Can the Democrats Move Right?’

Ross Douthat has an op-ed in the Times that I find hard to understand.  I think his suggestion is that you move to the center (and I do not think he means Rockefeller Center) because that’s how you win elections.

But which of these arguments as to why Democrats should do this works as reflecting accurate facts?

Democrats lost the popular vote.

Democrats lost the demographic groups that are expanding.

Democrats lost to a campaign that embraced the agenda of corporations and banks

Democrats lost to a person who has shown he values the “family values” that Democrats supposedly have contempt for.

The key to winning was states that will gain electoral college votes, specifically those in the Midwest.

The voters agreed with the wining candidate on most issues.

The policies the winner seems to be pursuing will help the people who voted for him.

There are plenty of reasons for the defeat, and they will become clearer over time.  But I very much doubt that any of them really support a “move to the right” strategy, even though after most elections moving to the center would be a good idea.

No, this election needs a more sophisticated analysis of what is going to happen to low-information voters as they realize that the job situation for them is going to get worse and worse into the foreseeable future, and specifically, that the person they voted for does not have their interests at heart.  In other words, what does the fact that Tea Party voters, feeling betrayed, turned to Trump, tell us about what Trump voters will do after realizing a second betrayal.  Or rather, what will happen when the Trump campaign is willing to turn more intensively to demagoguery to hold their voters support in the face of that risk (like recycling the flag issue, surely not.)

The answer, surely, is simply turning low information voters into high information voters.






I Went to School with Twits Like Blair and Cameron

I went to an English so called “public school” in the 60’s.

The behavior of first Blair and now Cameron comes as no surprise to me.  At the risk of seeming judgemental, I knew lots of these kids, and believe me, they all run to type.  (Not to say that all the kids at that school were like that, indeed no.)

These kids were (and remain) entitled, utterly self-confident, with a belief in their right and obligation to reshape the world.  This came from class, from socialization, and from arrogance.  (This is not the arrogance that defends against uncertainty which many of us might be accused of being guilty of, but rather the real, necessarily un-examined, thing.)

These kids really believed (and believe today) that their privileged education was some kind of earned reward.  To the extent that it might really be a reward to their ancestors, that was just as, perhaps even more, fine.

Moreover, that education prepared them to rule the world, again not so much as a matter of technique, but of utter self-confidence.

John LeCare, in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, perhaps got it best when he had Connie Sachs, the forced-out British intelligence research head (quote reconstructed from memory) say, with more sympathy than I can muster, even now:

“Poor dears, born to rule the waves, and now with a voice that hardly caries across the water.”

Its no surprise that being Bush’s poodle might have some appeal.  Nor that one might grossly misjudge ones ability to manage a referendum process.