Natural Disasters are not like Recessions

In natural disasters:

1. Net migration temporarily collapses.
Screenshot (6)
2. Per capita income rises (due to the poorest people leaving).
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3. Unemployment is elevated for under a year.
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In recessions:

1. Net migration falls, though not necessarily into negative territory.

2. Per capita income falls.
Screenshot (8)
3. Unemployment is persistently elevated for well over a year (see above).

Inspired by Scott Sumner.


Unemployment During the Great Recession: Bursting Bubble?

A bit of background:
The U.S. housing bubble was mainly a Floridan, Arizonan, and Californian phenomenon. The U.S. state most heavily affected by the housing bubble was Florida, though most of the home equity losses took place in California due to its population. In the early 2000s, Las Vegas benefited from a “wealth effect” caused by rising home prices in California and was deeply hurt by both the fall in home prices and the Great Recession, much more so than the rest of the country. In the mid-2000s, Detroit was deeply hurt by manufacturing job losses caused by outside competition during the World Boom, had its real housing prices peak in 2003, and was hit by the Great Recession about as hard as the rest of the United States, being hit harder after 9/15 than before. Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama were not hit as hard by housing price falls as the rest of the U.S. Canada had a housing boom, but no housing bust to speak of.

The U.S. Great Recession can be divided into two periods, readily separated by the ever-memorable date of 9/15/08, roughly midway through the recession chronologically. Before this date, when, as you remember, Lehman Brothers failed, there was no consensus in the mainstream media that the U.S. was in recession. On that date, the consensus finally appeared. I was there, so I remember this. Indeed, the first nine months of the recession of 2008 didn’t suggest a recession much more severe than the recessions of 1990, 2001, or 1970, which were fairly mild, raising unemployment by roughly two and a half percentage points, never more than three. Instead, the Great Recession ended up raising unemployment by 5.6 percentage points, worse than any other U.S. recession since the Great Depression (so far). This was, as Scott Sumner says, due to falling NGDP. Indeed, nominal dollar auto sales were fairly stable during the Great Recession’s inflationary first half, while they collapsed during its deflationary second half. Falling NGDP was why the dollar price of gasoline rapidly fell, but did not boost real auto sales, or any kind of other indicator of economic confidence. Previously, the second-worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression had been the recession of 1973, which was an inflationary one not due to any notable demand shock. The second half of the Great Recession was not a pure demand shock, as August 1937-June 1938 in the U.S. was, but it was much more due to aggregate demand than any other U.S. recession since the 1940s. The fall in NGDP was due to the Fed not doing enough Quantitative Easing, and, more importantly, not targeting the forecast (i.e., imagining they’re powerless). Obviously, had the Federal Reserve not gone ahead with unprecedented Quantitative Easing, the recession would have been much worse. The roots of the sudden NGDP crash lay in a banking system-wide credit crunch resulting from sudden loan losses resulting in tightening credit standards, as well as an increase in demand for money due to recessionary expectations (which the Federal Reserve did not do anywhere near enough to alleviate).

The thing to understand is that before 9/15, unemployment was rising faster in the areas hit by the housing crash than it was outside the areas hit by the housing crash. After 9/15, unemployment rose fast in all areas of the country (though for some reason Alabama was hit harder than the rest of the country in both phases of the recession):

The Civilian Unemployment Rate is the U.S. Unemployment rate.

As you can see, Canada, due to having a separate banking system and monetary policy and not having a significant housing price fall, was not hammered by the recession much at all, but also had a much slower recovery. Las Vegas was hammered by both the housing price fall and the broader recession, as tourism to the city dried up. Florida and California were affected by the recession no more than the rest of the country after 9/15, but were significantly more affected by the housing price fall in 2007 than the rest of the U.S. Texas was less affected by the housing price fall than the rest of the country, due to it having almost no housing bubble, but was also less affected by 9/15. Why Alabama was so disproportionately affected by both parts of the recession remains something of a mystery. It had a late housing bubble, but did not have significantly higher housing equity losses than the rest of the country in proportion to its population.

Russia’s Recession is Over

Russia’s oil-price related recession (September 2014-April 2015) has been over for months. Were it two months shorter, it could not even be called a recession, by U.S. standards. Yet American news media continues to pretend Russia is still in recession while its unemployment rate has fallen for the third consecutive month -and pretty rapidly, too:
Screenshot (3)
A .17 percentage point per month decline in the unemployment rate would be hailed in the U.S. as a miracle, with Obama prominently declared the Greatest President Evah by the vast majority of Democrats. The best the U.S. has ever had during the present recovery has been a .125 percentage point per month decline from October 2013 to October 2014. This is another piece of evidence for Russia’s labor market being far more flexible than that in the U.S., and having been so since the 1990s.

Russia’s recession was, as most correctly understood, deeply connected to the September-December 2014 oil price fall (a milder deja vu of 2008). When the price of oil falls, Russian RGDP falls. As Russia had a fairly loose monetary policy this time around, this RGDP fall largely manifested itself in shared sacrifice (falling real wages) rather than (as in the U.S.) mass unemployment. Now, however, the price of oil has risen, Russia’s CPI has stopped skyrocketing, and the trend of economic conditions is generally back to normal. Of course, many still feel economic pain, much as many throughout the world felt economic pain in 2010 and 2011. But that doesn’t mean Russia is in recession, any more than the U.S. was in recession in 2010 and 11.

“The Improved Posting Experience” on Sucks defaults to the “improved posting experience” when I click on the Edit button on the published versions of the blogposts on this blog. The “improved posting experience”, for various reasons, sucks. should be embarrassed to feature it or so blatantly lie about it being “improved” or “easier”. Let us count the ways.

The large-buttoned, blue-colored, stylized, and menu-filled appearance of the “improved posting experience”, along with its paucity of text suggest that this “improved posting experience” was designed for smartphones, or at the very least, small screens. Yet, when I view it with my WinBook TW700, I find this:
Screenshot (19)

Now which genius at Automattic, Inc. designed that amazing new “improved posting experience” and its amazing useless empty space and redundant scrollbars?

Now let’s look at it horizontally, with touch keyboard panel (not opened above) opened (but only seen as empty white space):

Screenshot (22)

Aaaah… No text visible when typing, most buttons not visible when typing, and numerous overlapping buttons due to poor JavaScript. My favorite posting experience ever, you can be sure.

Now let’s compare the above monstrosity with the good old unimproved posting experience:

Screenshot (20)

Isn’t that infinitely less wasteful and making for a much better user experience? One scrollbar, much more functional space outside of the post window, and more text to know what you’re pressing on.


Screenshot (23)
At least you can see something in the post while the keyboard is open, no buttons overlap, and you can actually see what you’re typing (occasionally) while not having to rely on as many useless pop-out menus. Also, there’s a visible navigation window on the left absent in the “improved posting experience”.

The only good thing about the “improved posting experience” is that when one updates a post, an easy-to-click “View Post” button pops up on the screen.

Obviously, the old posting experience has problems. Typing on large pages is slow, as text pops up with a far longer lag than proper. The text is sorta small and sorta hard to tap on. But that’s no warrant for abandoning it in favor of a terrible so-called “improved posting experience”, with something like a twenty-to-one deprovement-over-improvement ratio.

If this is an “improved posting experience”, I’d love to see the least “improved” one the guys at Automattic could come up with.

Fortunately, there’s a way out of this “improved posting experience”: upload this script with the Scriptish add-on installed in Firefox (or see choice of script managers in other browsers here). I advise against Greasemonkey, as I’ve had some seriously negative experiences with it (namely, Firefox not starting).

As for the box reminding you to switch to the “improved posting experience”, you can just block it with AdBlock Plus’s Element Hiding helper.

Map of the World Mathematical Smart Fraction

Due to a recent uncivil discussion in the comments of the blog of Noah Smith, who listens too much to progressive media uncritically, I came upon the idea of mapping the mathematical smart fraction among fifteen-year-olds in most European countries, the Four Tigers, and some assorted other countries. What I did was
1. Find the recorded world mathematical PISA smart fraction on the fifth page of the document titled PISA 2012 Results in Focus: What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know.
2. Assume that any student who isn’t taking the test is not part of this smart fraction.
3. Adjust the recorded smart fraction for those not taking the test.
4. Map the adjusted PISA mathematical smart fraction.

And the result:
Source image file here, source data here.
The darker the red, the larger the percentage of the population supposed to be taking the 2012 PISA test that is proficient in middle school mathematics. White indicates there is virtually no smart fraction in the entire country- almost every fifteen-year-old living there is innumerate, lazy, or both. Notice the similarity in colorings between all the Balkan countries, including Greece and Cyprus (first-world places by any measure). Also, notice the lack of intelligence in Malaysia, the richest of the Muslim-majority Real Countries, as well as in all Latin America and the Arab world. There can be no question that without the Chinese, Malaysia would be a very poor place, indeed.

Politics Is Not About Policy

1. #BlackLivesMatter ignores 99%+ of Black deaths.
2. Reagan, despite having a fairly fiscally conservative presidency, is condemned by most of the American Left for the large size of the Federal deficits under him, while Obama, with a less fiscally conservative presidency, is condemned by most of the American Left for the insufficiently large size of the deficits under him.
3. Conservatives still occasionally pretend there is any risk of serious gun legislation in the U.S., despite the fact there is none, and never has been since 2008.
4. When Obama came into office, the anti-war movement instantly disappeared.
6. When the Presidency switches parties, the average member of the winning party instantly switches his perception of the economy to being more favorable than the perception of the average member of the losing party. Despite the fact that the Presidency in the U.S. can really only effect economic policy through the bureaucracy, and rarely does even that.
7. Every time the Islamic State is brought up, the New York Times commentariat always find some way to blame Bush, even though he defeated the Islamic State of Iraq by the time he left office and the existence (and every action) of the Islamic State is squarely due to deliberate Obama policy. They never, ever suggest any sort of strategy to defeat the Islamic State, falsely saying or implying that it is impossible or very costly.
8. This cartoon makes perfect sense.
9. Iran has never had nuclear weapons, despite being predicted to acquire them in five to ten years time since twenty years ago, the Iranian nuclear deal prevents Iran from ever getting nuclear weapons (as though the Iranian leadership ever wanted them, which they didn’t), if Iran ever wanted the destruction of Israel, it would do so with a simple march through Iraq and Syria, and, as long as one Israeli soldier is not worth ten Iranian ones, win, and states far more dangerous and trigger-happy than Iran (Israel, Pakistan, North Korea) possess nuclear weapons with no one giving two fucks. Yet, the Israeli (and American conservative) mainstream constantly complains about the Iran nuclear deal, saying it would lead to Iran getting nuclear weapons and destroying Israel.
10. SJWs often complain about harassment against their comrades, yet, are typically perfectly okay with doxxing their critics to encourage harassment against them.

Politics isn’t about policy. It’s about personality. BTW, by the standards of the Modeled Behavior blog, the country where politics is most about policy is Singapore, a dominant-party state.

Strange Utopia in Real Life

In my Strange Utopia I had my White main character (who is not even remotely based on me) have his bicycle and cell phone robbed by a Black man. Well, I can assure you that something quite similar happened to me today (or yesterday) -my car’s catalytic converter was sawed off and taken, probably by a Black man (probability >60%, given the demographic composition of the area I live in, the huge difference in average crime perpetration rates between Blacks and (Whites+Indians) in the U.S., and pictures in news). It’ll likely cost me in the neighborhood of $200-$300 (today’s currency) to replace it -similar to the $500 (future currency) it cost my fictional character to replace his stolen bicycle. Note that price levels in the Strange Utopia are arbitrary and assume low inflation due to the prevalence of MMT-style thinking.

Unlike my fictional character, I did report this crime to the police, as this is Real Life, not the Strange Utopia.

P.S. -Your daily dose of nutty Far Left biology professor PZ Myers (w/ nofollow value). I totally endorse this statement:

Let’s all of us white people stand together against these black people who simply don’t appreciate our white values and our shining white dreams!

Bretton Woods, Chaos, Price Stability

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Toggle the width under “Graph Settings”.

After World War II, there were three major phases (outlined in colored straight lines on the graph) in First-World-wide monetary history. Rothbard, being alive through only two of them, discussed only those two. During the Bretton Woods era in the 1950s and 1960s, short-term shocks to prices were serially uncorrelated between countries and inflation was typically kept below 10%, as each First-World country’s currency was tied to the U.S. dollar, which was tied to gold at the rate of $35 per ounce. The lowest rates of inflation at the time tended to be in rapidly-growing Greece. Over the course of the 1960s, as Rothbard describes, the dollar became more and more overvalued in relation to other currencies, leading to the gradual breakdown of the Bretton Woods system as other countries proceeded to pyramid their currencies on their dollar reserves, leading to average First-World inflation gradually rising from 1968 to 1971. Nixon abolished the Bretton Woods system on August 15, 1971 by permanently taking the dollar off gold. During the era of freely floating currencies between 1973 and 1999, inflation in every first-world country at first exploded (resulting in nearly a decade of high inflation and general monetary chaos) after only a little over a year’s break from Bretton Woods. This led to and resulted from the end of the Smithsonian Agreement, a 1971 attempt to remake Bretton Woods without the backing of gold. Obviously, the recession that resulted in 1973-1975 was due to an unfortuitous and coincidental supply shock concentrated in raw commodities, which, however, led the monetary authorities of numerous countries to view sky-high inflation as perfectly normal and acceptable. This phase of stagflationary monetary chaos lasted, on average, until May 1980, when oil prices ceased rising, though some countries (e.g, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Portugal) continued to have rising inflation into later months. In some countries newly risen into the First World, however, most notably Greece and Portugal, inflation remained sky-high well into the early 1990s.

During the 1970s, a series of ideologies, ideas, policies, and other non-insane (though sometimes wrong) stuff, to be later Christened by the Far Left (esp. academic Communists) neoliberalism, emerged into publicity. This incoherent and contrived linguistic innovation did not, at the time, have the negative connotation which it universally has whenever used today. Generally, it was the trickling down of oft-diluted free-market ideas from the Ivory Tower at the University of Chicago to the leaderships of both conservative and leftish parties in the United States, Britain, Denmark, Peru, Chile, Ireland, China (though indirectly and due to different circumstances), Sweden, India, and other, less important, countries. The First-World country least affected by this trickling down of free-market thinking was Greece, which in the 1980s elected a socialist government to power which proceeded to do just the opposite of what was being done in the U.S. and Britain at the time.

The rise of neoliberalism was mostly good and resulted in Great Things (like Paul Krugman in the 1990s not being routinely wrong), as well as some Not-So-Great-After-All things. Among these Not-So-Great-After-All things was the widespread agreement that the inflation which occurred in the aftermath of the breakdown of the Smithsonian agreement was wrong and could be corrected by central banks whenever it might emerge in the future. Another Not-So-Great-After-All Thing which resulted from the rise of neoliberalism was the idea that all countries should pursue price stability, that is, gentle inflation of between 0 and 2% (absolute upper bound: 7%, absolute lower bound: -7%), even in a time of economic stagnation (which the 1970s was). The simultaneous decline in inflation and unemployment around the First World during the 1990s confirmed numerous policymakers’ and economists’ beliefs that there was nothing wrong with low and stable inflation at all times. And, indeed, per se there isn’t, provided nominal gross domestic product growth remains solid. But that insight wouldn’t be at all well-known or popular until after 2008 (see Scott Sumner’s blog on this).

The Neoliberal era resulted in the creation of the Euro, a single currency for most of Europe. Japan, Israel, Canada, and the U.K. retained monetary independence, which helped to serve them well during the aftermath of the 2008-9 recession. Though the idea of a single currency for all First-World Europe wasn’t a bad idea per se, the way it was put into practice, as well as other rules relating to it, led to the systemic overpricing of Southern European (especially Greek) sovereign and private debt (a good rule for telling the responsible countries from the irresponsible ones is how many of their currency units were equivalent to one Euro when the old currency unit was abandoned). This had to end one way (Indonesianstyle) or another (depression; the way it actually happened). Though Ireland, a country well-known for its successful neoliberal reforms, suffered badly, the hardest-hit country in the aftermath of the Great Recession was undeniably the least neoliberal of the First-World countries: Greece, which suffered a somewhat more inflationary and longer version of the U.S. Great Contraction in the early 1930s. Portugal and Italy, other countries which were not known for their neoliberal reforms, also suffered, though never experienced above-20% unemployment like Greece and Spain did.

Yet, despite the huge differences in economic outcomes between the various First-World countries after the 2008-9 recession, inflation patterns in all these countries were generally very similar -low and stable, and always under 7% and above -7%. Price shocks were serially correlated, due to the great reduction in the number of First-World currencies and to the great agreement in monetary policy throughout the First World.

But, just like the high inflation of the 1970s and the Old Left economic thinking of the 1960s led to their own righteous demise in the 1980s and the 1990s, so did neoliberalism help lead to a backlash against itself. Eventually, the views espoused by Nobel-diseased Krugman and by the academic Communists became heard louder and louder on the Internet, even, sometimes, in the real world. Toxic economic policies which were refuted during the Great Depression began to be advocated for by leading First-World presidential candidates once again. Low and stable inflation, once declared optimal monetary policy, became feared. Thus, Greek voters elected a “radical left” government which immediately caused investors to run for the hills, forcing Greece into a temporary double-dip depression, which led that government to capitulate to reality and its creditors.

Unsustainable systems collapse, the apparent failures, whether coincidental or not, of one ideology lead to the rise of another, and ideas which sound great before they’re tried don’t always seem as great when they’re tried. Remember this.

The Confederate Flag

Ever since Dylann Roof’s killing of nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, in June, the Cathedral (and the American Left in general) has moved ever more viciously to ban the Confederate battle flag wherever it can get its hands, on the blatantly false pretext of Roof’s display of it before his killing. Indeed, Silicon Valley (one of the four pillars of Leftist dominance in America, the others being Hollywood, Academia, and the Media), Wal-Mart, and various American flag manufacturers have taken every step possible to ban all Confederate flags of every kind (except for the flags of Georgia and Mississippi) from their retail establishments. The worshipers in the Cathedral base their condemnation of the flag on it being “a symbol of racism”, “a symbol of treason”, and “a symbol of division”. Let us go through these allegations in detail.

The popular display of the Confederate flag at present cannot possibly be generally a symbol of slavery or racism. What, do Democrats seriously think that White Republican Southerners bearing the Confederate battle flag are going to rise up, march into the inner cities, put the niggers back in chains, and drive them to the countryside to push their unemployment rate to Soviet levels? Do they think they’ll re-institute segregation and Jim Crow the moment they’ll get their hands on government without Federal obstruction? It is obvious that even Democrats cannot be so lunatical as to believe such things. Rather, their objection to the flag must be based on something else. Faux antiquarianism is something that has become ever more common among the Left over the past year.

Indeed, while it is true that the Confederacy stood strongly in favor of slavery in the 1860s, had the Confederacy become independent (which is what the bearers of the Confederate flag are unquestionably supportive of), slavery would almost certainly have been abolished there after less than a quarter century of independence: the last nation to abolish slavery in the Western Hemisphere was the great state of Brazil in 1888 and American farmers in all parts of the country began suffering a severe fall in relative incomes since at least a decade before that year. Those who condemn the Confederate Flag quite often forget that the thirteen stripes on the flag of the United States stand for the thirteen colonies from which the United States was forged -each and every one of which allowed the ownership of Black slaves at the time of the flag’s adoption. Those who disagree with this comparison quite likely forget that during the War of Southern Secession, the Fugitive Slave Act was still enforced in the United States of America until 1864 -runaway slaves from Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, the District of Columbia (for the first full year of the war), and Delaware continued to be legally captured and returned to their masters until that year, and that the institution of slavery continued in Kentucky and Delaware until after the reconquest of and abolition of slavery in the entirety of the former Confederate States.

The Confederate flag is only a “symbol of treason” so far as the American flag is a symbol of treason against Great Britain: the only difference is that the Confederacy lost.

The Confederate Flag is, indeed, a symbol of division: division between the effete liberals of the North and Far West and the self-described “true Americans” of the American South, who desire a return back to the “traditional American values” of God, guns, and the monogamous heterosexual family. Necessarily, it is also a symbol of the political division of the United States of America: those bearing the Confederate Flag desire (at least in their hindbrains) Southern Independence, or, at the very least, greater Southern state autonomy from Federal force.

Frequently unmentioned or mis-mentioned by the Left, but most importantly, the Confederate Flag is a symbol of resistance: that is, resistance against Obama and the Clintons and against those elements of the Washington elite who do not conform to core Southern values. Those bearing the Confederate flag do not imagine the South existing today as it was, but as it could have been, free of the influence of precisely those who most vehemently condemn the Confederate flag today: academic, politico, media, techie, Supreme Court, and Hollywood leftists desiring the total submission of the southern states to their wills. The Whites of the southern states remain, on average, the most conservative, religious, and Republican-leaning in the country, and, thus, are the greatest threats to the Democrats’ attempts to dominate it. Any lowering of the Confederate flag is a mark of conservative submission, an indication of defeat without benefit, a sign of unconditional surrender. Do not imagine that the opponents of the Confederate flag will stop at its lowering. Their goal is never within sight of completion, not even in the Strange Utopia.

Now, I am a northerner. I do not bear the Confederate flag (despite the Alternative Right blog’s cheeky “Our Flag” caption)* and do not much care for Southern Independence. Had the South become independent, in the worst-case scenario, it would have become like Argentina or South Africa, in the best-case scenario, it would have ended up just where it is at present, with less leftism. I, however, fully support the freedom of the southern states to fly the Confederate flag, and I oppose all leftist attempts to limit its usage, whether private, public, or government.

*File only natively openable in Google Chrome. Internet Explorer 11, as usual, sucks at interpreting inputs into its address bar, and Firefox does not come with the ability to interpret MHT documents without an add-on.

A Strange Utopia

Wilson awoke. As he glanced at the clock, he shuddered. It was not that he felt cold -it was the third of July- nor that he felt frightened- there was nothing in his room to fear- but that he felt an overwhelming sense of loss. Of exactly what, he could not say.

It was not money. Ever since the passage of the National Inequality Elimination Act of 2024, all income was, by law, equally distributed. Wilson’s electricity ration of 200 kilowatt-hours per month per person was exactly the same as that of everyone else he knew. Nor was it of time -he had a fine amount of it. Roughly six hours, if not counting work, travel, or sleep. It was nothing that Wilson could point to with any real specificity.

He got out of bed and checked the news. Two Black men convicted of vehicle theft, four convicted of assault, and five convicted of armed robbery, all in the past week, all residing in the same town as he, had been pardoned under the racial equity quotas established by the Inequality Elimination Act of 2031 due to the discovery of a sentencing disparity between Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites charged with these crimes. The discussion in the news centered on whether this was enough to reduce the persistence of the unjust inequity in racial arrest and conviction rates by the police and juries around the country. A professor (of what field, Wilson did not remember) explained, in a crisp and confident voice, that the gap in sentencing and arrests would not end until racist and sexist selection of police officers by “competence tests” and “strength” requirements were finally eliminated from every page of local, state, and Federal law and random jury selection was safely replaced with a more scientific system for determining equitable racial outcomes in sentencing. Wilson ate his breakfast, consisting of a 100% American Whole Grain cereal trademarked by General Mills in a bowl of nonfat milk, some Florida oranges, and two Michigan apples.

Indeed, Wilson thought, reading the label on his cereal, his breakfast had to be 100% American. All trade with the lands outside the U.S. proper and the territories it captured or bought before 1940 had been strictly prohibited under penalty of thirty-five years’ imprisonment- the maximum sentence that could be imposed for any crimes except those defined as “exacerbated by dominant-group privilege”, such as Bernie Madoff’s or Ross Ulbricht’s, for which the maximum sentence was a limitless number of years in maximum-security prison. Even cocaine, rice, and heroin had to be home-grown.

Wilson stepped outside the multi-story apartment complex he resided in. It was owned by the local government, which, as Wilson remembered, built it under a multi-billion dollar contract with the National Construction Workers’ Union. Each resident was allotted one vote to make various important management decisions over the fate of the community, such as rent hikes, the budget allotted for repairs, the decision to expel any resident, and the establishment of any new facilities. Thus, while rent was sky-high, only kept under control by state rent-control ordinances, the complex’s budget was almost always deep into the red, the complex only being able to stay open by the generous application of Federal housing subsidies of apartments disproportionately occupied by non-heterosexuals, non-males, and non-Whites. The complex contained residents with genetic origins from almost every country in the world, including Azerbaijan, Tonga, and Papua New Guinea. This was typical of much of the United States since the 2030s. Ever since the Open Movement Act of 2020, one billion immigrants from all parts of the world, but mainly from India, China, Brazil, and Nigeria had made the United States their new permanent abode. “America”, said President Bush in October of 2020, “had at last begun its remetamorphosis into its historical namesake: a Nation of Immigrants”, his words obscured by the cheering of tens of thousands of Honduran and Salvadoran men and women gathered before him. Consequently, the apartment complex was not well-maintained, with hundreds of thousands of cigarette and marijuana butts, as well as tens of thousands of heroin and methamphetamine needles, being found scattered throughout the hallways, despite the high national taxes on the purchase of all these products and despite the fact that many dozens of less intellectually inclined teenagers were at work cleaning the hallways and the outside of the complex every day. Even while Wilson was exiting his apartment, he saw a methamphetamine addict, White, male, and grey-haired, in a black T-shirt, injecting another dose to keep himself placated while squatting on the filthy floor of the building he had slept in last night.

Wilson found his bicycle, unlocked it, and began his ride to work. Personal ownership of automobiles without written permission from the EPA had been eliminated under the Environmental Protection Act of 2024 and the International Carbon Dioxide Reduction Agreement of 2025. China was to implement this part of the agreement in thirty to thirty-five years. For now, the privileges granted to the overindulgent West for its first two hundred or so years of existence would temporarily be granted to the rising and poorer nations, which had not had the privileges granted by chance and fate to the rich West while it was rising. Wilson, of course, thought this ridiculous. Since 2027, the Chinese continuously had higher real per capita incomes than Americans, and, since 2035, higher median incomes, even in dollar terms. It was an injustice, Wilson thought, for China to get a disproportionately large share of the pollution permission pie than America simply because of the late date of il sorpasso. Wilson, naturally kept quiet, for fear of denunciation by those learned Chinese scholars who had become so prominent in the social sciences departments of the nation over the past thirty years.

As he was continuing cycling to work, Wilson marveled at the beautiful state of the roads he was cycling on. In Wilson’s youth, Maryland roads had been disasters, wreaked by potholes and in a constant state of congestion and disrepair. Today, American roads were, in every part of the nation (even Alaska, as Wilson had learned while vacationing there) every bit as good as those said to exist in Luxembourg or the Emirates due to the wisdom of the two Clinton presidencies, as well as the strong push for infrastructure spending by politicians of every stripe after the recession of 2019. In the old days, Wilson remembered, Americans were known for their devotion to their massive gas-guzzling pickup trucks, whose tires tore the roads apart like a lion’s teeth tears apart the flesh of its meal. In modern, civilized society, such titanic beasts of the road were unnecessary for civilized life, and, indeed, were widely understood to be detrimental to it. Today, America had a high-speed rail system which, though often sparsely used, was used by almost every American at some point in hir life, and was unrivaled by any other in the world, including those of Germany, China, and Japan. How the Americans of the 20th century could have greeted the expansion of car culture as a positive good was beyond Wilson’s comprehension. Were 20th century Americans deliberate Earth-killers? Or were they simply just stupid, their IQs pushed down by the copious quantities of lead in their automobile emissions and paint? Wilson didn’t know, and neither did most Americans his age.

As Wilson continued cycling by a row of evergreens, he saw a black-skinned man walking out from them towards the road, gripping his hand tightly. Wilson winced. For him to be noticed to have noticed that the person was black-skinned would, in a court of law, constitute a microaggression, an infraction punishable by a fine of $50 per conviction. Noticing that the person was male would not. Standards for determining the existence of microaggressions had been formulated by Justice Sotomayor in her majority opinion in Blake v. Regents of the University of California in 2021. Wilson kept pedaling.

“Yo’ moni, honké!”

Continue reading “A Strange Utopia”