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Saturday, June 25, 2016

QOTD Charlie Pierce

Really realiably quote of every week day. He's wonderful. I was going to tweet part of this, but gave up on the 140 character limit when I couldn't resist quoting the 280th
it seems to me that there are several ways for the Remain crowd to eventually win the day, especially if The Elites are as powerful as the Leave gang thinks they are. If they think they could stand the gaff, they would simply ignore the results entirely; the balloting was close enough that they could be tempted to do just that, although it might require tossing David Cameron into the Channel, which might just be a unifying moment. They could bury the question in Parliament until the silver anniversary of the coronation of King George VII, who is presently growing teeth in some palace or another. The procedure for departure from the E.U. is untried, so it probably could be monkey-wrenched into infinity, or until a large portion of the Leave constituency goes off to glory, which ought to be any minute now.
I'd add that they can have another advisory referendum on the exact same question. Such a stunt is not explicitly forbidden by the UK's unwritten constitution. It sure seems that Bremain would win (the national currency dropping 10% against the dollar gets attention -- I think this is good for the UK but then I'm not a Brexit voter).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Daily Drum Comment

Read this post (it is good)

my comment

I tend to agree with you. I will, in fact argue that your two efforts to find some way to agree with the people who say people are pissed don't work.

1) wages. The hint from 16 data point regressions by political scientists is that it is often the economy stupid, but in particular the change in the year of the election. Real wage stagnation from 2001 on should not cause people to be pissed in 2016 but not in 2012. In fact, real wages have been growing recently. Of course people don't believe that (perceived inflation is always higher than measured inflation) but they should be less sure that their real wages are shrinking than usual not more sure.

2) family structure. Oddly you seem to assume that all adults are parents. Both the suffering single mom and the alimony paying dad are parents. Single adults without children have less reason to be angry (especially if they are living with their partner without formal marriage and uh men). I think the trend you need to look at is the trend in children living with both parents. So I googled and found that that fraction has been increased (a tiny bit) in the past few years. "The proportion of children living with both parents, following a marked decline between 1970 and 1990, has fallen more slowly over the most recent two decades, dropping from 69 percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2012. By 2015, the proportion had actually increased, to 65 percent."

On the other hand, not all "illicit drugs" are created equal. Those numbers include marijuana which doesn't make people pissed maaaaannn . In contrast opiates make people dead and leave people who care about them emotionally devastated. A summary statistic which sums marijuana, crack, meth and heroin is of only limited usefulness. (note that to be honest I included crack use of which I believe has declined).

"OK so what is happening Robert ?" asks no one at all. I'd guess two different things. I didn't expect Trump to be nominated, but I can understand why Republican voters do the opposite of what the Republican elite want -- this is the "wrath of the conned" hypothesis (I'm a pathetic Krugman groupie even when writing about politics).

Sanders is the first left populist oh roughly since Bryant. I have to mention that I have been predicting for decades that pundits and main stream Democrats will be surprised by the level support for class war. I think this was obscured by the illusion that Obama was a leftist (which is odd given how clearly he expressed his moderation in 2008). It is also true that Clinton was an extraordinarily established establishment candidate. Almost all the other main stream Democrats declined to run. That gave Sanders a (near) monopoly on Democratic sufferers from Clinton Derangement Syndrome and Democrats who don't want the party elite to tell them how to vote. Also she is stuck with her husband's choices from the 90s when the party was very different.

Both parties show anger over the power of the donor class (Trump was self funded before he wasn't). This is clearly a strong sentiment. 80% of Republicans want Citizens United to be reversed. I sure can understand this anger, since I share it. It is clear (and demonstrated with regressions with large sample sizes by Larry Bartles and others) that money is political power in the USA. No one ever thought this was OK. The support for the (lying as always) "my own money" candidate and the "$27 dollar average donation" reflect this anger over politics. Even excellent economic outcomes wouldn't make democracy for sale to the highest bidder OK. I'd say this is a strong aspect of the PPP Trump mentioned (pissed public politics).

Finally, I'd advise you to avoid clicking on twitter notifications. One way to avoid them might be to delete all twitter apps and never ever type in a browser.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The usual on Drum Yglesias and Taxes

Kevin Drum wrote

If you want to increase taxes on zillionaires, I'm with you. But if you really want to make a dent in inequality, you should also be eager to raise taxes across the board and then spend the money on things like pre-K, health care, and so forth. That's probably where you'll get the biggest bang for the buck.

and I wrote my usual comment.

Excellent as usual. Looking at the second graph, I too thought I had a point, then I noticed that I had confused "World Bank" and "Household" (don't you hate it when that happens).

On the other hand, I think "bang for the buck" is an unfortunate metaphor. The reduction in GINI per dollar is greatest if one taxes extremely high incomes and gives the money to the poorest (as in reversing welfare reform but I will not go there). The bucks involved in "Social Security, Medicaid etc" are extremely numerous and the huge bang corresponds to a moderate bang per buck ratio.

I think the valid question is not "per the buck" but "per the unit of political capital." However, I think this means that soaking the rich is a key part of any plausible anti-inequality policy. The cost in political capital is negative, since the policy is wildly popular. I just saw a poll in which an absolute majority of GOP likely voters supported higher taxes on income over $250,000 per year. Even if one fights for higher taxes on high incomes and loses, Republicans will have fought the proposal and won. This is politically costly for them.

It is vastly easier politically to extract bucks from high income people. Also they need them less than less wealthy people. Bucks from the wealthy work just as well as funding for government programs as bucks from the non wealthy.

I actually don't understand your view (notably shared by Matt Yglesias who I also respect). I will try and fail to come up with an explanation

1) given the huge increase in government spending which we (or at least I) desire, higher taxes on moderate incomes are needed, because an attempt to raise all the money from people with incomes over 250,000 per year would imply tax rates which cause unacceptably large incentive effects (mostly of the form of making tax avoidance even more attractive). Why look at how poorly the US economy performed during the whole period when the top marginal tax rate was over 70 % (hint way better than it performed when the top marginal tax rate was below 70%). Yes, straw man argues, one might attempt to have high rates and not cause costly tax avoidance by plugging loopholes. But that never works (except for whenever it's tried). I don't find argument 1 convincing at all. I'm also fairly confident that you don't either.

2) such extremely high taxes on high incomes are politically impossible. This has the advantage of being true. But even slightly higher taxes on moderate incomes are politically impossible while moderately higher taxes on higher incomes can be enacted (see your graph). Importantly, I don't know of much of any evidence that opinions on whether taxes on high incomes are too high or too low has anything to do with how high or low those taxes are. All elected Republicans always want lower taxes on high incomes. Most other people have consistently supported higher taxes on high incomes. The marked change since 2009 has passed almost un-noticed.

I don't see how anyone can believe argument 2. It is an argument about what is politically possible based on rejecting all evidence from polling and all historical evidence about what has and hasn't been done (and therefore demonstrably doable) in the past 3 decades.

So I remain mystified. I don't find your conclusion convincing. I have no idea how you reached it. I am puzzled.

Area Couple Quarrels About Money

Well, that seems awkward: "A lifelong Democrat, Bruce Rauner's wife Diana campaigned enthusiastically for the Republican multimillionaire businessman during his 2014 bid for Illinois governor. Now the child-advocacy group she leads is among 82 social service providers suing her husband's administration for payment of over $130 million locked up in Illinois' unprecedented budget fight with Democratic legislative leaders." My wife and I have had our little disagreements, but I can assure you that we have never argued about $130 million.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Did the Donald keep the aspidistra flying ?

Kevin Drum asks "What *Did* Donald Trump Mean by "No PP"?"

"As you'll recall, after forgetting what "TPP" meant in a speech last night, Donald Trump smirked and made a little joke to his audience: "What you mean is, 'No PP.'" Or, perhaps, "no pee pee." But what did he mean?"

I guess he was referring to "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" by George Orwell

The BB in 1984 is an echo of a sort of the PP in "Keep the Aspidistra Flying". It stood for "Pedic Perspiration" (as in "uh oh foot odor" from my childhood) and pathetic protagonist ad-man and wannabe poet Gordon Comstock was somehow involved in an extremely horrible ad campaign warning about "PP".

No doubt Trump is as fanatical an Orwell fan as I am (except he treats "1984 an instruction manual" -Brad DeLong).

Since Donald Trump always lies, I assume he was suffering from severe pedic perspiration.

No way in hell would I be willing to fact check that one