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1726  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Marco Rubio on: February 10, 2015, 09:59:42 pm
But, until he stops saying things like "the age of the earth is a great mystery," I will label him dumb.

He's saying what Republican voters (his "base") want to hear. That's hardly dumb in a political sense.

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."-Ronald Reagan

Is this what the GOP base wants to hear? Yes. Does that make this an intelligent comment? No.

The same goes for Rubio.

It's worth distinguishing between demagoguery and stupidity. To call the former "dumb" is to give it too much credit.
1727  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why are conservatives obsessed with labeling terrorism as Islamic? on: February 10, 2015, 12:07:41 pm
Racism.

Islam is not a race, so no, not racist. Just very stupid and short-sited.

"Welfare queen" isn't a race, either. That doesn't change its connotation.
1728  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Marco Rubio on: February 10, 2015, 08:47:13 am
HP, but I'm not sure what the grounds are for labeling him "dumb."
1729  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of Wulfric on: February 10, 2015, 08:41:33 am
The oldest boys in Lord of the Flies were twelve. I lacked the knowledge and skill with language to post intelligently at that age, but I was definitely a better person and almost certainly had more interesting thoughts than I do today. The same is probably true for most of us.
1730  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Just when I thought Cuomo couldn't stoop any lower... on: February 09, 2015, 11:15:27 pm
Why does the fact that exurban commuters dislike removing the Tappan Zee make it a "pipe dream"? Traffic levels and patterns of development are largely dependent on the means of transportation that are available. We could just as plausibly say that spending at least $6 billion to construct another bridge spanning the widest portion of the Hudson River is a pipe dream.

Because those suburban (not exurban - the NYC exurbs don't start until you go further north) commuters are voters and they would vote out any politician who wants to tear down their way to get to their jobs and to New York City.  The commuting patterns and patterns of development are already there.  It's a non-starter.

The new bridge will be funded one way or another.  It's only a question of how.

I'm not sure what your standard is for "exurban" - it is not a precisely demarcated technical term and the definitions that have been put forward are varied. If you mean that Rockland County is literally a part of New York City's CSA, fair enough, but, then again, so is Putnam.

The number of voters in New York State who benefit from the Tappan Zee bridge is, comparatively speaking, not particularly high. Rockland County's population is only just over 300,000, and other crossings are usually more convenient for drivers travelling to or from anywhere else on the Hudson's west bank. Of course, maybe you're counting people (like me) who frequently drive along I-90 in Upstate NY, since the current bridge collects more than enough revenue to cover its own maintenance and effectively subsidizes the operating costs for everything else under the Thruway Authority's auspices.

No politician needs to openly oppose building another bridge, anyway, as long there's a better use for whatever funding would otherwise go toward its construction.
1731  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Who is more representative of the average American swing voter? on: February 09, 2015, 09:53:31 pm
Bushie is always the correct answer: Political cluelessness is the defining feature of most swing voters.
1732  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Just when I thought Cuomo couldn't stoop any lower... on: February 09, 2015, 09:22:32 pm
BUMP

It occurs to me that maybe I conceded too much: there's a case to be made that you don't need to build a replacement at all

My practical side is undecided as to whether the idea to just not replace the TZB when it reaches the end of its life is, erm, a bridge too far in terms of short-term impacts (to say nothing of political backlash from folks who benefit from the perverse subsidies/don't have the imagination to see a better alternative).  But the Cap'n is absolutely right about the environmental, fiscal, and social costs of locking the region into continued car-dependency.  Any sane discussion would have had his point of view in the mix, pushing the Overton Window in a more sustainable direction.

Alas.

There is no question that the Tappan Zee Bridge needs to be replaced.  It is literally falling down, and will cost more in the long run to continually fix and maintain than to build a new bridge.  The Thruway Authority spent hundreds of millions in recent years to maintain the current bridge, including fixing gaping holes in the deck.  The bridge was built on rotten wooden pilings instead of steel or concrete because of a steel shortage during the Korean War when it was built.

Pipe dreams like tearing down and not replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge are simply not palatable to commuters in the northern suburbs.  More vehicles cross the Tappan Zee Bridge than the Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan.  Where would all that traffic go?  And getting rid of the bridge would make it nearly impossible for Rockland County residents to commute to jobs in White Plains and vice versa. 

Pipe dreams like building train lines along the bridge simply don't make sense.  Most of Rockland and Westchester Counties do not have the density to support trains from nowhere to nowhere, and there's little to no capacity to add more trains to Grand Central during rush hour, so routing Rockland's Metro North trains to Grand Central instead of Hoboken isn't feasible.  Bus transit is the best option, as it is flexible and doesn't require a high cost investment.  But, for some reason, urban planners don't like buses.  Nevertheless, the new bridge was designed to add transit later, if it becomes feasible.

The fact is that fixed mass transit systems don't make sense everywhere.  Cars and buses make more sense in less dense areas, which is what most of New York's northern suburbs are.

Why does the fact that exurban commuters dislike removing the Tappan Zee make it a "pipe dream"? Traffic levels and patterns of development are largely dependent on the means of transportation that are available. We could just as plausibly say that spending at least $6 billion to construct another bridge spanning the widest portion of the Hudson River is a pipe dream.
1733  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Just when I thought Cuomo couldn't stoop any lower... on: February 08, 2015, 06:13:50 pm
This project has been at the top of the agenda for a governor who, in almost every policy area, is extremely powerful and controlling. Yet even with a multi-billion dollar windfall and an apparent willingness to transfer money from any other account under his authority, he is struggling to scrape together enough funding. It's difficult to understand why the burden of argument should fall on those who oppose replacing the bridge.
1734  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Just when I thought Cuomo couldn't stoop any lower... on: February 08, 2015, 04:10:35 pm
You'd think that the fact that the Tappan Zee Bridge is literally too expensive to replace would be argument enough.
1735  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Governor Terrible (Brownback) to balance budget via cutting highway funding on: February 08, 2015, 04:00:58 pm
Ibn Rushd, take my daily commute to work and then tell me how "overbuilt" you think American highways are. The Texas DoT is finally building an interchange that should have been done years ago that will reduce my commute time by a good 10-15%.

For rural areas, highways are their only lifeline to the outside world.

The easiest way to reduce your commuting time is to reduce the distance between yourself and your place of work. In any case, I'm not sure why your daily commute should be the benchmark against which transportation policy is judged. I don't like my commute, either, but personal convenience is hardly a good reason to demand evictions and tens of millions in public funding.
1736  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Governor Terrible (Brownback) to balance budget via cutting highway funding on: February 08, 2015, 02:39:12 pm
FF. Not many American politicians are willing to take on the freeloading motorists who insist on pouring money into a highway system that is already comically overbuilt.

It's not really freeloading when highways are mostly funded by gas taxes.

~70% of state highway funding comes from sources other than the fuel taxes.

Quote
Also even non-drivers benefit from the existance of highways. How did the food in urban supermarkets get there?

Caiming that highways are overbuilt does not equate to claiming that there ought to be none. Come on, BRTD, you know better than that.
1737  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Governor Terrible (Brownback) to balance budget via cutting highway funding on: February 08, 2015, 01:46:49 pm
FF. Not many American politicians are willing to take on the freeloading motorists who insist on pouring money into a highway system that is already comically overbuilt.
1738  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: opinion fo jeb bush on: February 07, 2015, 11:48:52 pm
Worse than most Republicans, including his brother.
1739  General Politics / Economics / Re: Is "thinking like an economist" unhealthy? on: February 07, 2015, 08:01:16 pm
Maybe I should have picked another board, or clarified further. The point of my question isn't to make a statement about economics itself - hence the scare quotes around "thinking like an economist" - but about how it is translated into what is essentially a self-help movement based around the principles of self-interest and utility-maximization.
1740  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Target Corporation on: February 07, 2015, 04:54:35 pm
I've only been to their stores a couple of times, but my impression has always been that the biggest difference between Target and its competitors is wider aisles, cleaner stores, and the occasional adjoined Starbucks. Wal-Mart seems to have caught on, as its newer/newly renovated stores aren't much different. Anyway, as others have already said, anyone who pays their employees so poorly or engages in mass layoffs is clearly not an 'FF.' (And if that weren't enough, the effect that big box retailers have had on the American built environment ranks among one of the most destructive acts in the past century of American history.)
1741  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Summarize Previous Poster's Political Beliefs on: February 07, 2015, 04:36:30 pm
Confused social Darwinist who occasionally lets on to his underlying decency. Mellowing out with age, but still irritated by anyone to the left of Pat Buchanan. Maintains a strong sense of hostility toward members of outgroups.
1742  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Is George W. Bush still hurting the Republican Party on: February 07, 2015, 03:42:53 pm
No, not in the sense that "George Bush" is the first name that comes to mind when most people think of the word "Republican." And I doubt that most voters - aside from those who are members of the communities that were most directly affected - spend much time thinking about Hurricane Katrina or the Iraq War. Or, God forbid, Bush's failed Social Security privatization gambit. (Even on the Atlas, we don't talk about the last one nearly as much as we should.)

On the other hand, today's Republican Party is at least as much a reaction to George W. Bush as it is to Barack Obama - arguably, much more so.
1743  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Trends / Re: National Journal: The Emerging Republican Advantage on: February 07, 2015, 03:25:46 pm
The article makes two points, only one of which is convincing.

A) It's time to abandon the "emerging Democratic majority" hypothesis.

B) (A) implies that Republicans have a persistent structural advantage that will continue to grow as they win a larger share of voters with four-year degrees.

Who would argue with (A)? All that this piece adds to that dismissal is that even John Judis, the guy who popularized the idea of an emerging Democratic majority in the first place, doesn't accept in any more.

On the other hand, (B) seems every bit as flawed as (A) always has been. It's not easy to predict how coalitions will evolve, whether they will remain stable, or which party will manage theirs most effectively. Even if it were possible to make reliable predictions about political coalitions, inherently unpredictable exogenous factors - war, economic crisis, or a unique presidential candidate - are likely to throw a wrench in those projections.
1744  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: When do you plan on endorsing Hillary Clinton for President? on: February 07, 2015, 03:03:09 pm
Who, on 02/07/2007, seriously thought Obama was going to win?

Here's the betting markets following Obama's declaration:

Obama near record high.

DOWN: Clinton, Dodd
UP: Obama, Edwards

Democrats
Clinton 48.6
Obama 21.5
Edwards 13.5
Gore 9.6
Richardson 2.6
Biden 1.1
Vilsack 1.0
Clark 0.8
Warner 0.6
Dodd 0.2

Another myth that needs to die: "NOBODY gave the junior Senator from Illinois even a 1% chance!!11!!!!1!!1!!"

That's not much higher than the odds that Intrade gave Bachmann (max ~15%) and Huntsman (max ~20%) of winning the primaries at points in 2011. Even Newt Gingrich had nearly 40% for a couple of weeks. Intrade tells us something, but it's not necessarily a reflection of what serious political observers believe.
1745  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Why are New York's Italians more Republican? on: February 07, 2015, 02:53:34 pm
As PiT mentions, New York's machine politics are one part of the answer - although it ought to be noted that many, if not most, of those Italian-Americans were willing to vote for a few Democratic presidential candidates - FDR, JFK, and Al Smith. (What could the second two possibly have in common? Hmm...)

Like many whites living in urban areas, Italian-Americans began voting for Republicans in larger numbers during the 20th-century crime wave. You can see this in the results of both NYC mayoral elections and presidential elections. Many of these voters are what the term 'Reagan Democrat' originally referred to - although Nixon and Eisenhower also won them in large numbers, and even George Wallace had some appeal among those who were most anxious about crime, busing, and housing prices. The Sopranos does a pretty good job of depicting how many older Italian-Americans - especially those who can remember the "old neighborhood" - think and talk about race, and the resulting generational conflict.

What should also be remembered is that Italian-Americans in the Northeast are more likely to maintain a connection to a distinct ethnic identity because more of them live in neighborhoods with sizable Italian-American populations, work alongside other Italian-Americans, and regularly visit Italian-American relatives.

If you're interested in voting behavior in New York City's Italian-American neighborhoods, you might be interested in this ethnography, which draws a particularly instructive contrast between Italian-American and Jewish American political beliefs voting behaviors.
1746  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: When do you plan on endorsing Hillary Clinton for President? on: February 07, 2015, 02:04:28 pm
Who, on 02/07/2007, seriously thought Obama was going to win?

This authors of this DailyKos editorial did:

Quote
TUE DEC 05, 2006 AT 10:03 AM PST
2008: If Obama runs, he wins
 
Standard caveats aside (it's early, we don't have a set field, blah blah blah), it's hard to see how Barack Obama loses the nomination barring scandal or the mother-of-all gaffes. [...] Again, we don't know what the final field will look like, so things can dramatically change. But an entrance into the race would make Obama the prohibitive favorite. If politics is about seizing opportunities, it would seem a no-brainer for him to enter the race now.

The fact that this is literally the only prediction to that effect that I can easily find speaks volumes, though. The fact that Hillary wasn't inevitable in 2008 (as Lief pointed out while I was typing this) doesn't diminish just how spectacular Obama's eventual victory was.

This raises an interesting question - and not just about who wins the 2008 nomination if Obama didn't exist or had not run. If we were living in that counterfactual, and Hillary had won the Democratic nomination, would we be saying, in this alternate-2015, that her nomination was inevitable? Pundits talked about a "crowded" Democratic field in early 2007, but, in retrospect, that wasn't really the case.
1747  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: When do you plan on endorsing Hillary Clinton for President? on: February 07, 2015, 01:06:27 pm
I will most likely reluctantly #surrender2hillary at about the time of the Republican convention.
1748  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Opinion of Le Corbusier on: February 07, 2015, 12:30:56 pm
I am increasingly inclined toward believing that there is no such thing as a "good architect," but mid-twentieth century urban planning is outright evil.
1749  General Politics / Economics / Is "thinking like an economist" unhealthy? on: February 07, 2015, 12:10:48 pm
By "thinking like an economist," I mean economics-as-pop psychology, or something like what Levitt and Dubner are trying to convey when they talk about thinking "like a freak" in the genre's bestselling entry.

By their own admission, this approach does not always go over well:

Quote
We suggested to Mr. Cameron that he consider a similar policy in a different arena. What if, for instance... everyone were allowed to go down to the car dealership whenever they wanted and pick out any new model, free of charge, and drive it home?

Rather than seeing the humor and realizing that health care is just like any other part of the economy, Cameron abruptly ended the meeting, demonstrating one of the risks of thinking like a freak.

Obviously, many economists admit that health care is not "just like any other part of the economy" because health care markets are vulnerable to nearly every kind of market failure in existence. But policy implications are not the part of this story that this question is concerned with - instead, it's with the idea that economic concepts ought to be applied to our personal lives, that each of us ought to go around "thinking like a freak." Levitt and Dubner are hardly the only proponents of this approach - Tyler Cowen and Robin Hanson are two of the most prominent names associated with it, and it's the organizing principle for an entire subculture, i.e. the self-proclaimed "rationality movement."

I don't think that this is a matter of generic depressive realism - usually the first idea that people bring up when I raise this topic. Instead, I see at least two staples of economic thinking that tend to make people more unhappy:

(1) Once you begin thinking of any part of your life in terms of market norms, self-interest, and utility maximization - basically, once you begin doing your best to ape homo economicus - it becomes difficult to return to thinking in terms of social norms and relationships - even when the latter kind of thinking is more appropriate to the situation and yields better results.

(2) Once you develop a habit of thinking in terms of opportunity costs, any choice - especially choices involving a large number of alternatives -  becomes less satisfying.

Thoughts?
1750  General Politics / Economics / Re: Obama's lies on TPP on: February 07, 2015, 10:31:34 am
TPP aside, the tendency that politicians and bureaucrats have to present every potential program or policy in terms of "jobs created" is one of the most annoying trends in American political discourse. Creating jobs isn't an actual objective for most programs (including tax cuts) and, without exception, the numbers are complete trash. You will only ever see those figures in poorly-written reports and the sort of vacuous, self-promoting press releases that Adam T just quoted.

Also, while this probably isn't worth addressing in a Snowstalker thread, it'd be great to get a more serious response to concerns about the distributive effects of the TPP than the usual received wisdom from Macro 101.
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