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1  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 15$ Minimum wage introduced by Bernie - 152 House members & 31 Senators support on: Today at 07:07:04 am
Stop being tendentious. There is a no consensus among economists about how a large increase in the minimum wage would affect employment.

This proposal waits long enough to phase in the full increase that we can argue about how large an increase it actually is. This might even be deliberate sleight-of-hand: "Fight for $15" has always been more of a rallying cry than an actual policy proposal.

I have even defended the $15 minimum wage on these terms before; but that is no excuse for refusing to take its consequences seriously, and it is probably better suited to grassroots action anyway - i.e. something that people can organize around at the local and statewide level, where its implementation is more likely to reflect local conditions. The United States is much too large and much too economically diverse for the same minimum wage to make sense across the entire country.

Needless to say, none of us knows enough about changes in the cost of living, employment, or productivity to know whether a $15 minimum wage at the federal level will make more sense in nearly a decade. That said, it will almost certainly be difficult to defend its value to the poorest parts of the country.

More than doubling the federal minimum wage is far from the only anti-poverty intervention available to the United States today. There is no reason to pretend that it is either this or barbarism. And it makes no sense to pretend that anyone who opposes a federal minimum wage of $15 must therefore support a $15 minimum wage nowhere, or, even worse, no minimum wage at all.
2  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Forum glitch on: Today at 06:48:00 am
Why is your Atlas demonic?

I use a browser extension that overrides the formatting on most websites to dark background and light text. It is easier on my eyes.

It also has the advantage of removing much of the image-based Web 2.0 clutter. This is my main reason for using the extension: I was looking at a few old websites when I realized that almost all of them are easier to read than the distracting kaleidoscope of garbage that you find on most web sites today. Linear, minimalist, and mostly text-based design is good.

We don't have that today for the same awful reasons why fast food restaurants post pictures of numbered menu items and college professors are forced to expend more effort creating an entertaining experience for their students than an edifying one.

Of course the latter is not obvious on the Atlas because the site was designed two decades ago and has not changed since aside from the unfortunate addition of a "like and share" button at the bottom of the page.

The extension was not the cause of this glitch, however.
3  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Favorite AltRight figure? on: Today at 12:59:54 am
Scott Alexander, Beet? Really?
4  About this Site / The Atlas / Forum glitch on: Today at 12:54:52 am

Note that all four posts have the same timestamp. Has anyone else seen anything like this?
5  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 15$ Minimum wage introduced by Bernie - 152 House members & 31 Senators support on: Today at 12:25:05 am
Wherever that came from, Shadows, I advise you to save it for your letters to the editor and Facebook wall posts. It is an extremely sloppy defense and one that raises unhelpful questions: For example, why should the productivity of a minimum wage worker track overall productivity? It is pretty clear that recent gains in productivity are not evenly distributed.

Anyway, whatever the virtues of a $15 per hour minimum wage are, I am not so eager to hasten the work of creative destruction that is hollowing out this country's small cities and rural areas. Nor am I eager to hasten the work of creative destruction that is reducing new firm starts in this country.

A person is not better off being forced to move away from the family, friends, and the institutions that raised them so that they can live in a major city where their productivity is high enough to sustain a $15 per hour wage.

Nor is that a person better off giving up the way of life that they have always known to pursue a new way of life, one that someone else has designed to meet the federal government's new minimum productivity standard.

Few people realize just how coercive this is. Someone who is content earning $10 per hour in her neighbor's shop is suddenly left out of a job and forced to move to someplace else where she can earn more.

It could be an Amazon warehouse in the suburbs of a major city: I am sure that most of you know how Amazon treats its employees.

Maybe this person preferred the familiarity, autonomy, and respect that were available to her working in the small shop that paid less. Maybe she liked having the freedom to stay in her hometown. Maybe she was able to live more affordably there, not just because housing is cheaper outside of major cities but also because people with strong relationships nearby can rely on each other for everything from help repairing a vehicle to free vegetables out of the garden.

This is not meant to sound idyllic; it's just an example. People face trade-offs when they seek employment, even low-wage work, and raising the minimum wage limits their ability to manage these trade-offs. To be clear, this does not imply that minimum wage laws are awful and ought to be abolished. But when we are discussing such a drastic increase applied to such a diverse set of people, places, and circumstances, this should give us some pause.
6  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Time for Democrats to shun the "white working class"? on: May 25, 2017, 11:41:25 pm
Why would a political party categorically shun any large and diverse demographic group?

The "white working class" in the US includes large numbers of people who are young, unmarried, irreligious, or enrolled in public benefits - all groups that vote heavily for Democrats, to the extent that they vote at all.
7  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Opinion of mainstream media on: May 25, 2017, 11:35:57 pm
Most of it does exceptionally well at meeting its aim, i.e. making a quick profit off of ignorance, illiteracy, and fear. It is passable as entertainment.

On the other hand, I am sure that most of us can identify reporting that we trust and value. At the national level there is plenty of good journalism, although it can be a struggle to identify and I don't blame anyone for failing to get at it. You certainly will not find it on your television.

Local and statewide coverage is a wasteland in all but the largest places. If you don't know the right people than you'll never know what is going on. And I don't mean that in a conspiratorial "what is really going on" sense, either. I mean it literally. You might have a couple of paragraphs, a thirty-second news report, and a few public notices to go on at best.

I don't understand what "alternative" media includes. The news of our era is overwhelming enough that almost anything might qualify: blogs, podcasts, online radio, YouTube channels, etc. All of which could be created by someone who is an academic, an activist, a journalist, an entrepreneur, a party operator, a publisher, or maybe some combination of all of these categories.
8  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 15$ Minimum wage introduced by Bernie - 152 House members & 31 Senators support on: May 25, 2017, 11:15:54 pm
Democrats really aren't interested in winning outside of the wealthiest metros, are they?

I realize that a $15 minimum wage polls well, but no one should delude themselves into believing that this is viable everywhere. There are entire states in which the median wage is below $15 per hour.

If you want to help low-wage workers without harming the businesses that employ them, reduce their payroll tax rate and raise or remove means-testing for public benefits so that more are eligible. You don't need to double the minimum wage.

By the way, of course corporate Dems like Booker can support this: Even if we assume that it's meant as more than a rallying cry, a $15 minimum wage would do much less harm to major employers like Wal Mart, Amazon, and McDonalds than it would to small employers, especially those in the smallest and poorest communities.
9  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Winter is Coming (GoT is back) on: May 25, 2017, 11:04:11 pm
Anyone else feeling a lack of enthusiasm for the coming season? It's a social enough occasion for me that I will watch anyway, but I'm not excited about it.
10  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: MT-AL: Rob Quist (D) vs. Greg Gianforte (R) vs. Mark Wicks (L), May 25 on: May 25, 2017, 10:44:00 pm
Is it fair to consider Quist's failure a failure of Bernie's populist angle? Quist had a lot of baggage of his own. He wasn't the best candidate for this race.

It's easier to continue discussing the idiosyncrasies of two well-known characters than it is to think seriously about the Democratic Party's problems. The party would not have more than a handful of candidates to run who are anything like Bernie Sanders even if they wanted to field one in every district.
11  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: MT-AL: Rob Quist (D) vs. Greg Gianforte (R) vs. Mark Wicks (L), May 25 on: May 25, 2017, 10:38:28 pm
I know some people are probably going to complain about the DCCC not investing in this race, but their decision not to invest and to lower expectations is looking pretty smart. Losing this race isn't a big deal. What would have been a bigger deal is if Republicans were able to both win the race and argue that they beat expectations (and the DCCC).

This is consultant-talk, i.e. polished bull$hit. They have lost a race that was fought to within single digits by a flawed candidate running in territory hostile to the party.

Expectations would not have been high in any case, and even if the result had been a disappointment it would have been a strategically meaningless one and soon forgotten.

Anyone trying to draw grand conclusions about the National Mood based on a single special election for Congress is deluded, but a seat gained is a seat gained and it seems pretty clear that this one was winnable.
12  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: MT-AL: Rob Quist (D) vs. Greg Gianforte (R) vs. Mark Wicks (L), May 25 on: May 25, 2017, 10:31:02 pm
So much narrative. It's eating us alive.
13  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of Kingpoleon on: May 25, 2017, 10:02:24 pm
I would tell you what my grandfather used to say about people who act like him, but then my post would be deleted.
14  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of trump blasting NATO for not meeting their defense requirements on: May 25, 2017, 09:48:20 pm
The past couple of decades suggest that we would all be better off if the world were less unipolar. Too much depends on the increasingly dysfunctional institutions of a single large democracy, and the internal politics of the United States are much too fraught with anxieties about real and imagined threats to the country's international dominance.

If this changes, it would be better that other rich democracies make up the difference instead of the unstable and the illiberal. A large chunk of responsibility for this would necessarily fall on the US's NATO allies.

O/c DJT is not speaking as a critic of US power, which puts a radically different slant on his claims, even if they are meant as no more than insubstantive taunts
15  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Favorite AltLeft figure? on: May 25, 2017, 09:04:56 pm
No such thing, these people have nothing in common, etc.

What is the value in subsuming every semi-marginal character from more than half of the political spectrum under one label?
16  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Space exploration on: May 25, 2017, 09:00:33 pm
Much, much more. Building a working space elevator, for example, would pay huge dividends on the upfront money

How on earth can you claim this with any confidence?

     Stuff like this is part of the problem with leaving science funding in the hands of politicians. Large sums of cash are wasted tilting at windmills because these people have no concept of what is actually feasible.

It almost reminds me of the manifest-destiny-in-space science fiction that was extremely popular in the US up until the 1970s or so.

Of course that had some romance behind it, a sense that "the stars are our destiny," not just dubious claims about the expected value of space elevators or Dyson spheres.

Come to think of it, after some reflection, another cultural touch-point comes to mind.

17  General Politics / Individual Politics / Were the moon landings real? on: May 25, 2017, 08:44:37 pm
I don't remember seeing this asked here before. If I've made some minor error in phrasing the poll statement, please ignore it; I'm not trying to ask a trick question here.

For clarity, my answer is (A) completely true. I have never met someone who seriously believes that the moon landings were faked, and most polling puts this belief well within troll-answer, Giant Asteroid 2016, "Hitler = FF", approve-of-AHCA territory.
18  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Space exploration on: May 25, 2017, 12:55:56 pm
Much, much more. Building a working space elevator, for example, would pay huge dividends on the upfront money

How on earth can you claim this with any confidence?
19  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: The Kalwejt Foundation for the Promotion of Atlas Hilarity on: May 25, 2017, 12:55:09 pm
Much, much more. Building a working space elevator, for example, would pay huge dividends on the upfront money
20  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Cost of single payer in Cali would be more than entire general fund budget on: May 24, 2017, 05:08:08 pm
Democratic leadership are more comfortable running anti-abortion Democrats in hostile territory than they are running pro-single-payer Democrats in safe states. Feinstein's comments are typical.

So they tolerate the occasional Democrat who isn't 100% in-step with NARAL on a few races per year they probably won't win anyway.   If it were a question of being 1/10th as strong as single-payer supporters are right now among viable candidates, the party leadership would be freaking out about upsetting their donor base.

And how many Democrats have anything more than a symbolic interest in single-payer?

I don't know what politicians having a "more than symbolic interest" would mean. 

I'm confused here: are you upset about the Democrats not sufficiently supporting single-payer, even though you aren't totally convinced it's the way to go?  Or are you just upset that there are Democrats who oppose abortion?

I am upset by the terms of debate that the leaders of the Democratic Party appear to prefer. Their party line on health care is not as harmful as the Republican version, but it is every bit as incoherent. Democrats at least nominally support universal coverage, but like the Republicans they have no interest in solving our cost problem.

If the party had more than a symbolic interest in single payer, it would be in the platform. Left-leaning think tanks would release detailed single-payer plans. We would have debates not just about the amount of savings that we could achieve under single payer, but also about how we would obtain those savings. And the party's leadership would not treat the idea as a joke to be dismissed or humored in turn depending on political exigencies.

(FTR - I am stridently pro-choice, but I do not object to the party tacitly supporting candidates who are not in marginal districts. I do object to the party's leadership figures getting mealy-mouthed about it, though.)
21  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 538: Donald Trumpís Base Is Shrinking on: May 24, 2017, 03:39:43 pm
The thing I'm keeping an eye on is Trump's job approval among Republicans:


Isn't this difficult to interpret without longitudinal data? i.e. Trump supporters are more likely to identify as Republicans than they would be with someone else in the White House, while those who decide that they dislike Trump are more likely to stop identifying as Republicans, even if only temporarily.

Maybe party ID isn't dynamic enough to matter most of the time, but even a shift in the vicinity of 10% of those who identified as Republicans one year ago would be enough to markedly alter what is reflected in polling data.
22  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Cost of single payer in Cali would be more than entire general fund budget on: May 24, 2017, 09:23:13 am
Single-payer advocates are much too caught up in making vague and implausible claims about how much it would save.

Let me be clear that I don’t want to discourage anyone from supporting single-payer care. Universal health care is a matter of justice, and single-payer health care is one route to that end. It could be the best one.

But health care in the United States is extraordinarily expensive. As you all know. But what is less frequently acknowledged is this: Add up the various forms of government spending on health care - public insurance programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP; insurance for government employees; direct subsidies for hospitals and medical education; public health programs, non-profit tax for hospitals, the employer insurance tax exclusion, etc. – and the result is incredible: Public health care spending per capita in the United States is already higher than it is in rich countries that have universal health care.

These comparisons tell us that >8% of GDP is usually enough to pay for universal health care. Unfortunately, our government is already spending that much. Maybe much more, depending on what tax benefits and indirect spending you include.

Do not claim, as so many discouraged liberals do, that political support for massive public health care spending does not exist in this country. What probably does not exist is the political support for putting a fifth of GDP toward public spending on health care. But that does not exist anywhere else in the world, either.

Unless we make care much more affordable, we are unlikely to achieve anything resembling universal health care. Unfortunately, handwaving about the benefits of single payer does not help with that.
23  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Cost of single payer in Cali would be more than entire general fund budget on: May 24, 2017, 09:08:42 am
"The reports are being misquoted. The analysis says that we SPENT $367b overall in 2016. But our healthcare spending is going up 6% per year. This means we're currently on track to spend ~$389b in 2017 and ~$412b in 2018. So a $400b program would mean a $12b savings next year."

Why on earth would anyone expect to predict spending with this kind of precision? You'd be lucky to get this close in a forecast of actual health care spending. Hypothetical spending given a massive change to the entire system? Forget about it.
24  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Cost of single payer in Cali would be more than entire general fund budget on: May 24, 2017, 08:59:35 am
And I'm not saying that single payer itself would be the politically hard part.  I'm saying that a single payer system that contains costs and is as cheap as it is in other countries is politically hard, because spending less $ on health care means an economic hit for a large # of people making $ off the current system.  Yes, other countries have much smaller amounts of health spending, but they *always* had smaller amounts of health spending.  Taking money out of the system is difficult.

This is fundamentally correct - single-payer health care would not automatically ward off the entrenched interests and rent-seekers that drive costs - but the cost difference is more recent than most people realize. Until 1980, per capita health care spending in the United States was in line with spending in other rich countries.

This points less toward dysfunction in the deep roots of US health care and more toward a catastrophic spiral originating within the past thirty years.
25  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Cost of single payer in Cali would be more than entire general fund budget on: May 23, 2017, 08:55:02 pm
Health care comprises close to 20% of GDP in the United States while most other countries are closer to 10%, and health care spending in the US is growing more quickly. The cost differences are pernicious, affecting virtually every facet of health care, and with no clear single factor explaining why the United States is so much more expensive.

In other words, this is not especially simple. Our health care system really is that unaffordable for most of us and, as a whole, unsustainable.

Even if you assume that rich Americans have enough income to feed this growing monster indefinitely, and that the political will exists to reappropriate it, there are other public spending priorities to consider: parks, universities, libraries, recreation programs, public spaces, basic research, environmental protection, infrastructure, the list goes on.

The reality for many Americans is that health care spending is crowding out everything else - not only at the household level, but also in terms of public spending and what businesses can afford to re-invest. When do we decide that it's too much? When it reaches a quarter of GDP? A third?
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