Wednesday Assorted Links


1. The Hillary Man Id. Also read this and this. Probably the best-written glimpses into the Hillary Man’s mind. Horrible views of course, but people with exactly these views constitute somewhere around 25% of the U.S. voting population. That’s why cuts to Hispanic and African immigration are necessary.

2. The Media deserves to be nationalized and politicized, part 444445

3. FBI leaks to NYTimes, CIA leaks to WaPo

4. Dem ratings dip to nearly GOP levels; Trump’s approval rating continues to dip

5. Richard Carrier overviews the arguments against Q

6. The whole point of Krugman’s column is to simply bash what he wrote in the latest edition of his textbook

7. Income-to-rent ratio for college grads in their 20s highest in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota

8. Economic booms now raise births, not marriage

Sunday Assorted Links

1. Men, Whites, Silent Generation, better educated more likely to correctly North Korea on a world map; Blacks, Women, Generation X least likely

2. Montana U.S. House debate. Race believed to be highly competitive by pollsters and skilled observers.

3. This is basically how a bunch of the climate alarmist rhetoric works

4. Internet archive to start ignoring robots.txt

5. This isn’t a bad take

6. In Eastern Europe, atheists are most likely to oppose Muslim immigration

7. There are more than twice motor vehicles and parts dealer jobs than motor vehicles and parts manufacturing jobs in the US

8. Venezuela

On preventing sectionalism


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John Cochrane makes the only even barely persuasive argument for the U.S. electoral college method of selecting presidents I’ve ever heard, which is that the electoral college, by making votes in already very heavily partisan states worthless to candidates, discourages presidential candidates from fanning the flames of promoting their own party’s most safest section of the country above all the others. Of course, James Madison made a similar argument, but for a somewhat different system of selecting electors to the electoral college. Madison argued for winner-take-all by district (the closest the U.S. has to this currently is the system used in Maine and Nebraska, though Madison supported having all electoral votes be allocated by district, without any statewide component), in place of winner-take all by state, on the basis that

The States when voting for President by general tickets or by their Legislatures, are a string of beads; when they make their elections by districts, some of these differing in sentiment from others, and sympathizing with that of districts in other States, they are so knit together as to break the force of those geographical and other noxious parties which might render the repulsive too strong for the cohesive tendencies within the Political System.

that is, winner-take-all by district would be less prone to sectional parties and be more likely to promote truly national ones than winner-take-all by state.

Now, granting the truth of this -there would be no point for Democrats to campaign in Nebraska or Republicans to campaign in Maine were their electoral votes allocated statewide-, and assuming the districts were drawn by independent commissions (as in California, Arizona, Minnesota, etc.) to eliminate all complaints of gerrymandering, what would be the result of the U.S. moving to a system of allocating electoral votes entirely by district? It would lead to politicians ignoring the vast majority of the country, an even larger portion than that ignored by the current winner-take-all the state system of allocating electoral votes. It would result in presidential candidates promising all sorts of favors to the tiny number of swing districts in, say, southern California, suburban Minnesota, southern Nevada, and rural Iowa at the expense of the entire rest of the country. It would lead to political apathy in every portion of the country outside those key swing districts. It would make Americans subject to the vicissitudes of the thoughts of a few over the general opinion of the many. This would be a great deprovement on even the present way of candidates concentrating on key swing states. But these same criticisms of the district method apply equally as well to the current method of winner-take-all by state.

The electoral college rewards presidential candidates who prioritize the interests of swing states at the expense of those of safe states. Thus, while hemorrhaging margins in the vast, but safe states of California and Texas, Donald Trump sacrificed their interests to those of the key swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan by promoting protectionist and nativist policies. Is such dictatorship by the minority befitting of a democracy? And though it is true that the electoral college as it exists today does result in the winner’s margins more evenly spread out within the states he wins, it also allows his offensiveness to the states he loses to be as large as is conceivable without any trouble for his political fortunes. Is a Republican candidate today being able to ignore California’s slide into becoming a 90% Democratic state or the Republican candidates of the late 19th century being able to totally ignore the South truly healthy for government? Abraham Lincoln, whose election by the swing states of the electoral college caused the War Between the States by his disregard for the interests of the South, could never have won a national popular vote precisely due to his extreme unpopularity in the South. Thus, the present electoral college permits -indeed, encourages- the infinite increase of sectionalism within the states that comprise the losing coalition by incentivizing the winner to promise benefits for the swing states to be paid for by the residents of those states he cannot win. Under a national popular vote, however, if a presidential candidate aims to increase his votes by fanning the flames of sectionalism, whether of the safe states of his party or of the swing states, he is likely to symmetrically alienate the voters of the other sections of the country, thus bringing these efforts at boosting vote share to nought.

In short, even the best argument for the Electoral College over the national popular vote as a method of selecting presidents is badly lacking. Politicians are much more incentivized to play sectional zero-sum games in the electoral college than under a national popular vote.

Now; this is not to say Trump did not deserve to win; far from it. Both candidates knew the rules of the contest beforehand, they would have had very different strategies were the rules different. Trump had the better electoral college strategy under current rules, and there’s nothing wrong with following the rules as they exist.

Monday Assorted Links

1. Canada’s booming; the upper Midwest (exception: Minnesota) isn’t. Also, NAFTA caused shipping U.S. manufacturing jobs to Canada.

2. The uberwonk

3. Assad says the truth

4. The West Wing

5. Funniest thing I read today

6. Your daily dose of slave morality (read the comments) A Lockean interpretation of such a doctrine (see Locke’s Second Treatise, Paragraph 18) would be Grade A subversion of the enemies of truth and beauty, but is not necessary due to the sheer pathetic nature of it.

7. Russia might build a naval base in Aden if peace negotiations succeed in Yemen

8. Carter Page and mindless Dem Establishment thoughtworms

9. Axel McKibbin goes full populist. I have my reservations, but this is a potentially defensible stance.

10. Rising education does not equal rising IQ. I am inclined to agree with Scott Alexander and Bryan Caplan on Tulip subsidies.

Sunday Assorted Links

1. Worries about the great sellout

2. Andrew Sullivan actually writes a good article, for once. Read the comments; they’re gold.

3. Raimondo on the great sellout

4. France is cooked

5. The decline and fall of rebel aspirations in Ghouta

6. Maduro: Venezuela’s worst president?

7. LIFE Magazine’s The Case for Warren (for non-American readers, Governor Earl Warren of California would be later confirmed as Supreme Court Justice by Eisenhower in 1952 and become perhaps the most radical dictator America has ever seen in its history)

8. The carbon tax question

As I predicted, there were not enough Dems for Ossoff to win in the first round

I think I summarized my thoughts on Georgia’s sixth congressional district well in my Heart of Atlanta post.
The sixth congressional district:

Left: this Tuesday’s results (credit: NYTimes)
Center: Swing between the 2016 and 2012 presidential election results (credit: DDHQ)
Right: 2016 Republican primary results (blue=Trump, green=Rubio; credit: Ryne Rohla)

Bullshit candidates are excluded from all charts, for obvious reasons.

There were somewhat more Dems in this district than I thought, though. Certainly, many only became so due to Trump’s campaign run. Attendance for Tuesday’s special election was well above expectations, and even higher than in the 2016 presidential primary.

Friday Assorted Links

1. Tennessee goes for corporate welfare instead of allowing lower-cost city-owned internet network to expand

2. People go to church for the sermons

3. As standards rise to college level in High School, they fall to Middle School levels in College

4. Steve King disappointed about Trump failing to end DACA. King’s district had one of the largest concentrations of Obama-Trump voters in the country.

5. Bluepiller on why the red pill works

6. Kim Jong Un’s New Look. I’m liking him a lot better than Kim Jong Il, but still not a fan.

60 Responses for my quiz of politieconomical knowledge

The summary statistics are these:

Mean 7.4 (out of 21)
Standard Error 0.259508445
Median 7
Mode 7
Standard Deviation 2.010143768
Sample Variance 4.040677966
Kurtosis -0.920193616
Skewness 0.034711704
Range 7
Minimum 4
Maximum 11
Sum 444
Count 60
Download a Copy of Harding’s Quiz #1 (Responses).

The most frequently missed question was the one on Goldwater’s share of the vote in Mississippi. Only four out of sixty got that one right, and the correct response option was the one the smallest number chose. Apparently, Goldwater’s segregationist appeal has been memory holed by everyone except election junkies.

The most correctly answered question was the one on whether percentage Black or percentage gun owners best predicts the homicide rate. This was a two-option question, so only one way to miss. 90% got this one right. At least we don’t need to be at that dead horse.

Hillary’s use of Republican rhetoric was successful: the majority wrongly mistook Her pronouncements for either Juan McSame or Willard Mitt Romney. Whoever answered Donald Trump wasn’t really reading, because that’s clearly a “he thinks” at the end.

The South African GDP per capita question was one where conventional racist bias fails the one using it. And most people failed that one. Come on, guys, on rare occasion, Black rule can improve on White rule in some ways.
The answers:

The lowest poverty rate county in Michigan question was correctly answered by the majority, but I think it required Googling the answer to really be sure of, because that answer isn’t really intuitive.

Sunday Assorted Links

1. I would much rather be governed by young people than old people. Even if they did support Remain.

2. Public confidence in science has remained stable for decades

3. Obama had more balls than Trump

4. One of the few good MSM articles (mentioning al-Qaeda)

5. Beating the West in the art of propaganda (not that hard to do)

6. Graham is a case for something, though not what he advocates for