Weekend reading

It’s always useful to look at your country through the eyes of foreign observers.  I strongly encourage people to read this FT article, which discusses political correctness on campuses:

Since then, there has been a backlash against individual professors that seems only a step or two away from a Cultural Revolution-style shame circle.

If I were teaching freshman English, I’d have students read a book on the Cultural Revolution, as well as 1984 and Brave New World.  Just to give them a better sense of what’s happening in their own time and place.

If you look closely, however, there are actually two separate issues highlighted in the piece—left wing bias, and obsession with “safe spaces”.  As this Reason post shows, Republican students are almost as dismissive of free speech as Democrats:

[Among college students] Just 44 percent of self-identified Republicans said that hate speech was protected by the First Amendment, compared with 39 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of independents.

It seems like the extreme fear of being made uncomfortable is a generational thing, which crosses party lines.  (BTW, don’t take this as a typical boomer post trashing young people.  I think the millennials are much better than my generation in all sorts of dimensions.  For instance, they seem more polite and less violent.)

When I heard about Professor Weinstein’s problems at Evergreen College, I wondered if I was getting the full story.  Maybe he was sort of provoking the students.  And then I read this, about another Evergreen professor:

Nancy Koppelman, an American studies and humanities professor, described being “followed by white students who yelled and cursed at me, accused me of not caring about black and brown bodies, and claimed that if I did care I would follow their orders.” Ms. Koppelman, who is 5-foot-1, said the students towered over her, and “the only thing they would accept was my obedience.” She reported that the encounter so unnerved her that she was left physically shaking.

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, many of the victims were themselves devoted communists, who passioniately believed in the cause.  In America’s Cultural Revolution many of the victims are progressive faculty members.

During the early years of blogging, I followed bloggingheads.tv.  The best talks involved Glenn Loury and John McWhorter.  Vox.com has a very interesting interview of Loury:

My argument about political correctness is not tendentious or partisan — it’s analytical. The core of the argument is that when groups care a lot about maintaining conformity of belief on some matter of critical interest to them, then the hunt for heretics is always ongoing. We’re always looking for deviants. The willingness to speak in certain ways can be a sign of deviance, because if speakers know that punishment awaits them for speaking in particular ways, the only speakers willing to take the risks are indeed people who are not reliable on whatever the core belief or value is.

Loury and McWhorter both influenced my views on race.  (Their views are not neatly classifiable as “liberal” or “conservative”.)

How bizarre is America, circa 2017?  Consider the following two recent comments, one from a former NBA player, and one from the head of one of America’s most prestigious think tanks.  Which would you expect to be calm and thoughtful, and which would you expect to be rash and stupid?

There are some very thoughtful people working at Heritage.  I really feel sorry for them, being represented by a boss (Edwin Feulner) who sends out this sort of garbage in a fundraising letter.  Yeah, Trump is trying hard to “drain the swamp of corruption and privilege”.  Trump believes in the impartial rule of law, not blind loyalty to the leaders who happen to be on “our side”. Just pathetic.

PS.  Let’s have a vote in the comment section.  Which of Feulner’s five sentences is the most moronic?

Update:  Congratulations to Angela Merkel.  Like her or not, she’s the leader of the free world.  Also congrats to the FDP, my favorite German party.  Their vote share rose from below 5% to above 10%, so they are back in the government.


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56 Responses to “Weekend reading”

  1. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    24. September 2017 at 08:06

    Only sentence one isn’t totally moronic. The other 4 are equally idiotic.

    One other note, maybe millennials being polite and nonviolent goes hand in hand with being afraid of different views. It’s all part of being docile and insecure.

  2. Gravatar of Major-freedom Major-freedom
    24. September 2017 at 09:43

    Nothing in Rortyism, or Utilitarianism, can solve the problems listed in this post.

  3. Gravatar of Cloud Cloud
    24. September 2017 at 09:53

    Kind of off-topic here…

    But a similar thing is happening in HK right now, about the right to discuss HK independence in the campus.

    Not just the university is banning the discussion… patriotic outsiders and the government keep pressuring the university to ban those discussions.

    My point is, it is much more like Cultural Revolution here, right now…

  4. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    24. September 2017 at 12:34

    The former NBA player’s, Steve Kerr’s, statement is idiotic. The Heritage Foundation letter is reasonable.

    The pro athletes are peacefully protesting. The president peacefully criticized them. Steven Kerr and others are peacefully criticizing the president’s criticism. None of these forms of peaceful speech are illegal and none are immune from consequences or further criticism.

    President Trump is representing the mainstream viewpoint that people find this type of controversial political advocacy inappropriate for a sports game. People want to enjoy their sports leisure without the controversial politics ruining it.

  5. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    24. September 2017 at 12:44


    Congratulations to Angela Merkel.  Like her or not, she’s the leader of the free world.  

    This argument is SO childish. The US is the most important country of the free world by far and Donald Trump is POTUS. This fact alone makes him the leader of the free world, like it or not. And just because the guys from the NYT couldn’t bear this FACT, they came up with this ridiculous story about Merkel (even she laughed about it when she heard about it and said that it’s untrue). Wake up Scott, in this case you are the one living in a dream world, who makes up his own facts just because you can’t stand reality. Sad.


    Also congrats to the FDP, my favorite German party.  Their vote share rose from below 5% to above 10%, so they are back in the government.

    They are back in the Bundestag. This doesn’t (automatically) mean that they are back in the government. They are a bunch of unworldly snobs, so I’m not surprised that you like them. But it would have been better for nearly everybody else if they remained dead.

    They could be part of the government though because the second biggest party of these elections, the Social Democrats, said that they don’t want to govern!!! Another really childish behavior. Little hint for the traitors from the SPD: If you don’t want the power don’t run in elections.

  6. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    24. September 2017 at 13:09

    The first statement is not true. “Americans” didn’t elect Trump to do anything. He lost more American votes than he won. Nonetheless, everyone wants to “drain the swamp.” So I give this statement a pass.

    The second statement is the most moronic.

    The third and the fourth simply echo the second. So the second gets the prize.

    The first part of the last sentence is probably true. The writer is probably sick of complaints about Trump. He calls it whining, but I’ll let that pass. The second part is, of course, absolutely moronic. He is wrong that most people agree with him. On the other hand, the people on the Heritage fundraising list probably to agree with him. So he has some reason to write what he did in a letter to a targeted audience.

  7. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    24. September 2017 at 13:26

    I agree with Massimo Heitor on this one. Like him I bet that most people find this type of controversial political advocacy inappropriate for a sports game. Not to mention that those “protesters” directly attack the flag and the hymn of the United States, which doesn’t make too much sense, distracts from the real issue, and is seen as an direct insult by many.

    It’s a typical Trump story: The elitists and the media think “Now we got him” but in reality they are mixing up their own published opinion and dreams with public opinion. That’s the pattern how they lost the whole election in first place. You would think that by now they realized their mistake and would adapt but so far I don’t see it. Arrogance must be bliss.

    @Russ Abbott

    He is wrong that most people agree with him.

    Trump is targeting his audience. It might be smaller but it was big enough last time when it really counted. That seems to be what matters to him. A bit short-sighted in my opinion but nevertheless successful (so far).

  8. Gravatar of Dune Dune
    24. September 2017 at 13:57

    Massimo said:

    “People want to enjoy their sports leisure without the controversial politics ruining it.”

    Need a safe space?

  9. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    24. September 2017 at 14:18

    Where’s mbka when you need him? I told him that AfD could rise to unimaginable heights because of the migration crisis. And now they are the third biggest party in Germany. They came out of nothing. Kind of mind-boggling. Before that they weren’t even in the Bundestag. In some parts of Germany (like Saxony) they are even the strongest party. But I bet mbka knew all this beforehand, like always. His first words will be “It’s no surprise that…” and “I knew that….” followed by a “You are a genius, Scott. I completely agree with you, Scott”.

  10. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    24. September 2017 at 15:42

    Claims leftwing students expressing their freedom of speech is Maoism

    Claims Merkel is leader of the free world
    https://www.popehat.com/2017/09/21/guest-post-by-colin-cortbus-angela-merklels-empire-of-censorship-and-deception/
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/world/europe/germany-bans-far-left-antifa-website.html?mcubz=3
    http://www.dw.com/en/germany-approves-electronic-ankle-bracelets-to-monitor-extremists/a-37365188
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/world/europe/germany-36-accused-of-hateful-postings-over-social-media.html?mcubz=3
    Expects to be taken seriously

    I don’t care the least bit about student protests. Asses are asses. I care a lot about government taking away people’s freedoms on a massive scale. Merkel is behind a lot of the latter. I’d hate to visit Germany now; it’s a repressive nightmare. Worse than Evergreen State, by every account. At least those f*ckers don’t get you imprisoned for your tweets.

    Do you understand what the word “free” means, Sumner? Leftwing students expressing their freedom of speech ain’t a threat to liberty. Shouting student idiots aren’t gonna put you in prison. Merkel might.

    The third sentence is the most moronic; Trump ain’t draining the swamp.

  11. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    24. September 2017 at 15:43

    Claims leftwing students expressing their freedom of speech is Maoism

    Claims Merkel is leader of the free world
    popehat.com/2017/09/21/guest-post-by-colin-cortbus-angela-merklels-empire-of-censorship-and-deception/
    nytimes.com/2017/08/25/world/europe/germany-bans-far-left-antifa-website.html?mcubz=3
    dw.com/en/germany-approves-electronic-ankle-bracelets-to-monitor-extremists/a-37365188
    nytimes.com/2017/06/20/world/europe/germany-36-accused-of-hateful-postings-over-social-media.html?mcubz=3
    Expects to be taken seriously

    I don’t care the least bit about student protests. Asses are asses. I care a lot about government taking away people’s freedoms on a massive scale. Merkel is behind a lot of the latter. I’d hate to visit Germany now; it’s a repressive nightmare. Worse than Evergreen State, by every account. At least those f*ckers don’t get you imprisoned for your tweets.

    Do you understand what the word “free” means, Sumner? Leftwing students expressing their freedom of speech ain’t a threat to liberty. Shouting student idiots aren’t gonna put you in prison. Merkel might.

    The third sentence is the most moronic; Trump ain’t draining the swamp.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. September 2017 at 16:00

    Everyone, Lots of you missed the point. It’s silly to focus on whether each sentence is true or not, the most striking thing about the fundraising letter is that it’s written at the level of a kindergartener. It insults the intelligence of the reader. “Trump was elected by the American people to drain the swamp”? Who talks that way?

    Christian, You said:

    “This fact alone makes him the leader of the free world, like it or not.”

    Sometimes your struggles with basic logic leave me breathless.”

    Massimo, Do you know anyone who enjoys having to waste several minutes of their life listening to the national anthem before each game? Protests make that experience slightly more interesting.

  13. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    24. September 2017 at 16:09

    Uh, Sumner, every political party talks that way in its fundraising emails; this is nothing new. It’s been true since the beginning of fundraising emails.

    And why do you ignore my point about the ridiculousness of calling Merkel the leader of the free world while simultaneously calling exercises of students’ freedom of speech Maoism? Merkel got your tongue?

  14. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    24. September 2017 at 16:15

    @Dune

    Need a safe space?

    I assume viewers want to watch sports when they pay for sports — and not politics. Horrendous idea, I know.

    I also would believe those excessively high-income-clowns more if they spent half of their income on the issue that’s reportedly so very important to them. Otherwise I fill this under “publicity stunt” and “virtue signalling”.

    Americans sports seem to be in general decline. The NBA is a boring league, maybe even a boring sport. Baseball is a boring sport already (who is watching this???). And the NFL seems to have a big problem with CTE. Who would have thought that crashing your heads against one another like madmen is bad for your brain?

  15. Gravatar of BC BC
    24. September 2017 at 17:25

    FYI, on the hate speech survey results. The question asks whether the First Amendment protects hate speech — it does, of course — not whether the responder thinks it *should*. It’s unclear to me from that question whether college students are against free speech or just ignorant of First Amendment law. Maybe, based on what they see on college campuses, they just assume that the First Amendment must not protect hate speech.

    Other questions in the survey do ask what college students think speech policy and law *should* be [https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2017/09/18/views-among-college-students-regarding-the-first-amendment-results-from-a-new-survey/]. One question indicates that 61% of Dems, 47% of Republicans, and 45% of Independents would prefer that colleges prohibit offensive speech to create a “positive learning environment” rather than allow offensive speech to create an “open learning environment”. Also, 62% of Dems, 39% of Republicans, and 45% of Independents think it’s acceptable for student groups to disrupt speech they find objectionable by shouting so that the audience can’t hear the speaker.

  16. Gravatar of Dune Dune
    24. September 2017 at 18:09

    @Christian

    “I assume viewers want to watch sports when they pay for sports — and not politics. Horrendous idea, I know.”

    By that logic, I assume Berkeley students pay tuition so they can attend class and learn things, not be party to Milo Y. and Ann Coulter’s insult publicity machine.

  17. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. September 2017 at 18:15

    OT, but I am banned from commenting on Econlog, so I will comment here.

    Scott Sumner posits the middle-class in the USA is doing better than ever, as seen in rising median family incomes.

    Surely true in some regards.

    But keep in mind:

    1. Income is not wages. There may be a surge of income in the bottom ranks due to government transfers. This could push up the median, while most people working—the employee class—see no gains, or even losses.

    2. There could be gains in other better-off households due to non-wage income, such as rents, interest or dividends. Families that depend primarily on wages would slide lower, while the median family income rose on these families who also get non-wage income.

    3. Hours worked? Is the median being pushed up by two-income families? Has the 120-hour-a-week two-earner professional couple stereotype replaced the dad-on-the-factory line? In my old circles, yes. In that case, income for many families could be higher, but hours worked far higher.

    4. Hedonics and housing. Major puzzle here. Housing costs are exploding in key regions such as West Coast, Boston, NY. In general, it is thought the CPI overstates inflation. Maybe so, but if so, unevenly. Also, in a change from the 1960s, there is a sense that one cannot “choose” to live in sketchy neighborhood. Every US city suffers from property zoning, and thus “closed access” to “safe” neighborhoods with “good” schools.

    5. Health care, better than ever, but…fantastically expensive, yet the better care benefits primarily the elderly, maybe many past their expiration date. Healthy employees pay much more for coverage, but if you are healthy, you don’t need it.

    6. Payroll taxes. Yes, forced savings, so the money is not “stolen” from working families. Still, the FICA tax rate was 3.65% in 1965. It is now 8.55%, or 7.65% (employer matches to double effective tax rate, by some methodologies).

    As the economist said, “You can walk across Lake Erie, the average depth this year is only four feet. Much better than last year, when it was five feet!”

  18. Gravatar of AlecFahrin AlecFahrin
    24. September 2017 at 19:32

    Cloud,

    Advocating forceful independence from a sovereign nation in organized groups at public institutions is not normally allowed in any rational nation. If it was, those nations would cease to exist quite quickly. Comparing a public university operating within the law by stifling organized groups that advocate forceful independence, to the Cultural Revolution, is simply absurd.

    In reference to Sumner,

    Do your libertarian views extend to all instances? Do you believe that there should be any limits on public speech? The Supreme Court has ruled that there are many limits to public speech that damage the “public’s interests”. It is rarely enforced by the Supreme Court because society and local laws/norms punish those who step out of line.

    As an anecdote, I myself am one of the millenials you talk about here.
    At my current location, I CANNOT admit I reluctantly voted for Trump. I’d likely lose my future and be tarred and feathered for decades to come. Many Trump voters (and Bernie supporters) were reluctant because they were shamed into silence by the maoists/nazis who inhabit social media and public broadcasting.
    Yet, wouldn’t I also support the silencing of an imam that advocates hate against jews?
    Wouldn’t I support the silencing of an evangelical pastor who deludes hundreds of children who know no better? I’d personally say yes. My views of free speech are closer to those of many Europeans.
    Do I hypocritically despise the people who would hate me for who I am while I also advocate for limitations on those I oppose? Not really. I believe there should be limits and I believe that your words and your beliefs matter. I just accept that as the reality of living in this world.

  19. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    24. September 2017 at 20:18

    It sounds like the faculty is even more averse to free speech than the students. Is the faculty lounge a safe space?

    Mr. Cohen says he would prefer for the university to bar inflammatory right-wing speakers from coming to campus and spend the money now going to security on legal fees defending the ban.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/us/free-speech-week-berkeley.html

    As for the students, I wonder if technology is playing a role. Distinctions between private and public speech, and official and unofficial speech, and non-threatening vs threatening speech (fire in a theater) are all getting blurred thanks to social media. Before, someone could do their job professionally, then tell their friends at a bar their belief that illegals should be deported. Now, their opinion goes out on social media, it is called “hate speech”, and violent flash mobs show up. All three distinctions are blurred.

  20. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    24. September 2017 at 20:25

    Both statements are moronic; the first for the content, and the second for the drama.

    Remember the NFL fined players for wearing shoes supporting 9/11 victims, and banned stickers supporting Dallas police. Players don’t have a right to engage in political protests on the job (see previous post), and are usually banned from doing so if it is bad for business. The customer is always right, in this case for choosing to boycott the NFL.

  21. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    24. September 2017 at 21:03

    Christian List,

    I was waiting for you on that one. So there we go, you get me when you need me.

    “This argument is SO childish. The US is the most important country of the free world by far and Donald Trump is POTUS. This fact alone makes him the leader of the free world, like it or not.”

    You’re a leader if you inspire people to want to follow you. So when people around the world declare Merkel as their leader, that, and that alone, makes her the leader. Like it or not. No one says that kind of thing about Trump. His name might inspire fear, among the US’s friends that is. But that’s about it.

    AfD’s rise to “unimaginable heights because of the migration crisis. And now they are the third biggest party in Germany. They came out of nothing.”

    Huh? FPOe in Austria did much better, it rose to the strongest party over 20+ years of relentless fearmongering, in the absence (!) of a then-current actual migration crisis. So in Germany, in the presence of an actual crisis, a 13% protest vote is regrettable, but not “unimaginable”. (“Denkzettel” type of vote, also see Switzerland etc. Lega Nord in Italy. FN in France. etc). They didn’t come out of nothing either, they came out of just shy of 5% in 2013. I wish Merkel had done even better of course, but in the light of what you predicted about her impending total doom and annihilation just a year ago, I’d say she’s done rather well in climbing back. Also note that the rabid Seehofer’s CSU lost as much, in proportion, as did Merkel’s CDU. His own flirtation with AfD type reasonings didn’t save him. So I see this more as the people’s blind rage than a consistent shift in tendency, for now. The unsavory parts of Germany have found a vehicle to express themselves politically, in a way it had to happen at some point.

    And OF COURSE I agree with Scott on the FDP’s return. Love’em!

  22. Gravatar of Bob OBrien Bob OBrien
    24. September 2017 at 21:33

    The NFL players are reacting to Trump’s comments by refusing to honor the national anthem. I watched the Seahawks and Titans game and none of the players came out of the locker room until after the national anthem ended. My reaction was that this group of rich football players are disrespecting many of their customers who, like me, believe this country is the greatest in the world. This cannot be good for the NFL. I, for one, am much less likely to watch or attend NFL games in the future.

  23. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    24. September 2017 at 22:58

    The FDP get my outsider vote too 🙂

    Loury and McWhorter have influenced my thinking too. But I have come to conclusion that Americans should stop talking about race, because what they have is a collection of ethnicities and race is the wrong category (because human capital, social capital and parenting patterns are the crucial things, and they are ethnic-cultural not racial).
    http://lorenzo-thinkingoutaloud.blogspot.com.au/2017/07/the-race-delusion-in-american-politics.html

  24. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    24. September 2017 at 23:14

    re: @Christian List

    “it rose to the strongest party ”

    should have read “it rose to the strongest opposition party” (that was in 1999 actually)

  25. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    25. September 2017 at 05:21

    When I was a child in school, the first thing that happened every day was the principal (or someone from her office) would come on the PA system and tell us all to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Some student would then come on the system and recite the Pledge, and we all were supposed to join in. I always hated the forced conformity, and my small act of independence was to stand silently. If a teacher was looking directly at me, I’d mouth the words, but silently.

    I felt the same way about school prayers.

    Standing for the national anthem at ball games and other events seems equally pointless and offensive to me. Why should we? Free people should not be pressured to participate in rituals. (And if we’re really going to have to do this, can’t we at least get a national anthem that (i) is actually something normal people are able to sing, and (ii) has something to do with our country, rather than it’s flag? The lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner make absolutely no sense.)

    Having said all that, I still think this post is off target. Sure, Edwin Feulner’s fundraising letter reeks of stupidity. But as E. Harding points out above, that’s par for the course for fundraising letters. I’ve seen countless fundraising letters from right-wing, left-wing and religious groups for years. They’re all written like that. Every fundraising letter I can ever recall seeing was full of hyperbole and outright lies. It seems that that’s what works.

    Yes, there are decent people working at Heritage and other think tanks. Maybe they feel bad when they see the fundraising letters that get people to pay their salaries. But they can always quit if it really bothers them. And when they do, most likely they’ll be replaced by people who are not as bothered by the fundraising.

  26. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    25. September 2017 at 05:29

    @Benjamin Cole,

    Most of the points you are making apply much more to average family income rather than median family income. In principle, the median family is one particular family that sits at exactly the the 50’th percentile of incomes. Half of all families have more income, and half have less. That median family probably doesn’t get many government transfer payments or own much in the way of investments or rental properties. The median family almost certainly doesn’t have two professional incomes, nor does it live in expensive coastal housing.

  27. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. September 2017 at 06:14

    ‘My reaction was that this group of rich football players are disrespecting many of their customers who, like me, believe this country is the greatest in the world. This cannot be good for the NFL. I, for one, am much less likely to watch or attend NFL games in the future.’

    Exactly, and something the famous political theorist Michael Jordan understood. When asked why he didn’t endorse political candidates, he responded, ‘Republicans buy underwear too.’

    Not to mention the level of self-unawareness of these guys. Just who is it who is being divisive?

  28. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. September 2017 at 06:17

    For a good, eyewitness account of The Cultural Revolution’s dynamic;

    https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Swans-Three-Daughters-China/dp/0743246985

  29. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. September 2017 at 06:30

    ‘The median family almost certainly doesn’t have two professional incomes, nor does it live in expensive coastal housing.’

    Funny though, Jeff, the median size of newly constructed homes increased by about 40% in the same three decades that the median family income was supposedly stagnant.

  30. Gravatar of Dune Dune
    25. September 2017 at 06:34

    Patrick needs a safe space too. NASCAR guys…NASCAR.

  31. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. September 2017 at 06:40

    Just to bring the housing statistics up to date (I’d given the median size of new houses circa mid-2000s);

    https://www.census.gov/construction/chars/highlights.html

    ———–quote———-
    Of the 738,000 single-family homes completed in 2016:

    686,000 had air-conditioning.
    71,000 had two bedrooms or less and 336,000 had four bedrooms or more.
    25,000 had one and one-half bathrooms or less and 273,000 homes had three or more bathrooms.
    178,000 had stucco as the primary exterior wall material.
    200,000 had a full or partial basement.
    61,000 had concrete framing.
    The median size of a completed single-family house was 2,422 square feet.
    ————-endquote————

    That last is up from roughly 1,600 sq ft in 1973. About 50% larger.

  32. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    25. September 2017 at 06:42

    Not understanding the First Amendment is bad of college Republicans, no doubt, but I don’t remember hearing about violent protests by Republicans on campus like the left wing Evergreen protests you reference.

  33. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    25. September 2017 at 06:43

    If nothing else, this NFL situation, along with the response to it by many older white fans, makes it pretty clear to me that the original thesis about fear being a generational thing is not correct: America has been afraid of being made uncomfortable for a long time.

    For best results, stir this ingredient with ‘The Complacent Class’ and let it simmer. That’s America today.

  34. Gravatar of Dune Dune
    25. September 2017 at 06:51

    Bob…what the NFL needs to do is create a trigger warning prior to the playing of the anthem, so that old fat white guys won’t choke on their greasy hot dogs when they see that their favorite players don’t share their love for all things country, military, and police.

  35. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    25. September 2017 at 07:14

    @Patrick

    The median family isn’t buying the median new house. Purchasers of new houses tend to have higher incomes, as new houses are more expensive than older ones.

    As you say, houses being constructed today are bigger than the ones constructed decades ago. However, according to the US Census Bureau, only about 3 percent of the 135 million housing units existing in 2015 were built after 2009. It will take a long time before those big new houses are occupied by the median family.

  36. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    25. September 2017 at 09:14

    Sumner, the leader of Germany is not the leader of the free world. No one individual is leader of the world, as much as it makes you giddy to envision.

    The leaders of the free world can only be individuals leading by way of 100% mutual consent. The legal right to deny the freedom of 49% of the population is not freedom. And, in practise, even the 51% are denied freedom because they can’t choose none of the above and have that choice made affective in their own lives without threats of violence against them for non-obedience.

    Angela Merkel and Donald Trump are leaders of unfree dying nation states.

    “”Trump was elected by the American people to drain the swamp”? Who talks that way?”

    You’ve never actually explained the problem with that sentence by the way.

    Washington DC is indeed a (metaphorical) swamp. DC is full of uncivilized activity and is a danger to innocent human life, much like a swamp.

    The people who speak like that, are better speakers than those who merely restate it and pretend that constitutes a rebuttal or challenge.

  37. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. September 2017 at 10:07

    ‘It will take a long time before those big new houses are occupied by the median family.’

    Longer than the 40+ years since 1973?

  38. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. September 2017 at 10:09

    ‘Patrick needs a safe space too. NASCAR guys…NASCAR.’

    Then why is it the big bad NFL players who are doing the whining?

  39. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. September 2017 at 10:20

    How is Merkel the winner? Here’s an alternative take;

    https://www.steynonline.com/8142/alternative-reality

    ————quote———-
    On Sunday GroKo [Grand Coalition] fell apart. Before the election, the “grand coalition” held 504 of the 598 seats plus the then 33 “overhang” seats (again, don’t ask: it’ll make your head hurt). Today it’s down to 399. Both major parties – Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and Martin Schulz’s SPD scored their worst results since the foundation of the German Federal Republic in the rubble of the Third Reich. Frau Merkel lost 65 seats and Herr Schulz 40. The latter has said that the SPD will not be part of any new government. So GroKo is over.

    Meanwhile, having been told there is no alternative, German voters went looking for one and found Alternative für Deutschland. Founded a few months before the last German election, AfD has all the problems that any new party attracts in democratic societies, but it fought a nimble election campaign, with witty and effective advertising. The poster of two lissome lovelies in swimsuits with the tag “Burqas? Here we prefer bikinis” attracted most attention, and caused a fit of the vapors on this side of the Atlantic among the pearl-clutching pajama boys who police American progressivism.

    ….The reaction of the German establishment was even loopier. The former leader of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, warned that “for the first time since the end of the Second World War, real Nazis will sit in the German Parliament”. AfD has some coarse types among its membership, but, even down the murkier end of the batting order, they’re not actually Nazis, and demonizing their voters will not work. ….

    Hence the now familiar phenomenon of the “unacceptable” party outperforming its pre-election polls. The shut-up crowd learn nothing. Anti-AfD protesters were out in the streets last night shouting down the new Nazis – which seems a pretty sure bet to intensify the phenomenon of “shy” AfD voters, and accelerate the divisions between West and East Germany. It is not a sane or prudent response to what ought to be a sobering moment for GroKo types: A party that did not exist until four years ago is now the third largest in the Bundestag with 94 seats.

    Below them, Germany’s traditional third party – the Free Democrats – were pushed into fourth place, and “the Left” (an admirably straightforward party name) and the Greens make up the rest. That’s another reason why the SPD has announced they’re out of the grand coalition. If Germany were to remain governed by a Merkel/Schulz GroKo, the next largest party in the Bundestag gets to be the Official Opposition – and that would be AfD, and nobody in Berlin’s establishment wants to normalize AfD any more than Sunday’s election results did.
    ————-endquote————

  40. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    25. September 2017 at 10:23

    @sumner,

    “Do you know anyone who enjoys having to waste several minutes of their life listening to the national anthem before each game? Protests make that experience slightly more interesting.”

    Ceremony is supposed to be predictable, consistent, and comforting, not interesting and provocative.

    @Russ Abbott,

    “‘Americans’ didn’t elect Trump to do anything.

    Yes, they did. The American people absolutely did elect Donald J Trump. And there were certain issues that fueled this: Changing public rhetoric was a big one. So was reducing levels of immigration.

    “He lost more American votes than he won.”

    In the 2016 election, Trump won 306 American electoral college votes which is more than he lost.

    “He is wrong that most people agree with him.”

    A majority of the people who regularly watch sports for leisure, probably were genuinely annoyed with unwanted controversial and racial political advocacy and did side with Trump on this specific issue.

    @Dune,

    “Need a safe space?”

    Very funny.

    “By that logic, I assume Berkeley students pay tuition so they can attend class and learn things, not be party to Milo Y. and Ann Coulter’s insult publicity machine.”

    If Milo ambushed audiences by interrupting sports games + breakfast brunches + normal college classes, yes, that would similarly offend people. If Colin Kaepernick and others hosted speaking events for their political viewpoints that people were free to attend or avoid, that wouldn’t be offensive.

    @mbka

    “You’re a leader if you inspire people to want to follow you. So when people around the world declare Merkel as their leader, that, and that alone, makes her the leader. Like it or not. No one says that kind of thing about Trump.”

    1. Trump gives me great personal inspiration unlike any other political figure of my lifetime. I genuinely believe that he is the greatest American president of all time, greater than Lincoln or Washington or even Reagan.

    2. This is a narrow definition of leadership. Many leaders deliver great governance, management, or innovation, with a low key personal profile that doesn’t inspire emotion or passion for itself.

    3. People lavish this type of praise on Merkel mainly as a rebuke against Trump or as a mere figurehead for popular progressive ideology. I don’t see much specific attachment to Merkel herself.

  41. Gravatar of LK Beland LK Beland
    25. September 2017 at 10:31

    The NFL is in a strange position.

    By boycotting Colin Kaepernick, it probably lost some progressive fans. BTW, I have no opinion about his ability to play as a QB in the NFL; just pointing out that this led many liberals to tune out. However, this likely had little effect on the NFL’s short-term ad revenue. Their fan base probably isn’t very liberal–not as conservative as NASCAR’s, but still solidly right-of-center.

    Now the NFL is also pissing its conservative fans. Who will be left?

    Also, it’s hard not to notice that the President systematically creates distractions as Trumpcare votes approach.

  42. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    25. September 2017 at 12:34

    @Massimo:

    “I genuinely believe that he is the greatest American president of all time, greater than Lincoln or Washington or even Reagan.”

    Thank you for posting this, now I can save time skipping your posts as the ravings of a lunatic, like MF’s.

  43. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    25. September 2017 at 14:55

    Scott, how long have you been getting Heritage’s emails? Were they scholarly musings citing p-values under Obama?

  44. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. September 2017 at 19:57

    Ben, You said:

    “You can walk across Lake Erie, the average depth this year is only four feet.”

    Would have been a good analogy if the post was about average income. But it wasn’t. So it wasn’t.

    Bob, The best solution is to stop performing the national anthem at games.

    Lorenzo, Good point.

    Jeff, Do you get fundraising letters from Cato supporting Trump? I don’t.

    Bob, I have been getting them for years, but I don’t recall anything close to this stupid. I have no problem with them trashing Obama. I may not always agree, but it’s a defensible opinion. But defending Trump in that childish way is just beyond the pale. Does Heritage not know that Trump is a demagogue and a phony? This is supposed to be a “think tank”. I’ve met children that could immediately tell that Trump is a con man, just by listening to him for 5 minutes. Heritage can’t see that? Really?

  45. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    25. September 2017 at 20:08

    Jeff:

    Family median income distribution: It all depends.

    The median family income could be pushed up (for non work-related reasons) if government transfers go mostly to the lower middle class. Say people in the fourth decile from the bottom.

    At the same time, we might see median family incomes rise due to two-income families of professionals—they earned it, but they are a little bit monetarily richer than yesteryear, due to a lot more work hours.

    Jeff and Pat S on housing: Housing production has shriveled up, and new housing is built for the upper class today. The vast housing tracts of yesteryear built for the middle class, such as Lakewood CA or Mission Viejo, are no longer undertaken.

    National housing production has been cut in half and never recovered. A whole segment of the economy has atrophied, perhaps permanently. If so, housing will become more and more expensive in the US. Open borders for immigrants? Sure, bring in more people and not build the housing.

    Also, due to regulations and zoning, the manufactured housing industry has been crushed. Crushed!

    http://www.manufacturedhousing.org.php56-9.dfw3-2.websitetestlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/399temp.pdf

    Back in the late 1990s, the nation produced nearly 400,000 manufactured housing units a year. That is down to 60,000!

    Sure, new housing is larger, if you outlaw the building of affordable new housing.

    BTW, I see this on the West Coast: People buying homes for $600,000 to $700,000 that sold for $40k in the 1970s, or for no-money down and $50 a month in the 1950s.

    How to do the hedonics on that?

    If you are working for a living in the U.S., your living standard is probably lower today than 50 years ago.

  46. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    25. September 2017 at 22:06

    Benjamin Cole,

    “If you are working for a living in the U.S., your living standard is probably lower today than 50 years ago.”

    So in 1967 USA, the average working 19 year old could afford a car, had a portable microcomputer with videophone capability in her pocket that connected to the knowledge of the entire world nearly for free in any corner of the country at any time, and was covered by much beloved/much hated (but pretty darn universal) health care? I won’t even mention gender relations, sexual health or the like.

  47. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    26. September 2017 at 03:34

    mbka:

    Actually less teens are driving now, probably due to insurance rates. Have you stats on auto ownership rates by 19-year-olds 1967 vs. today?

    I gather teens can be covered under Obamacare, so I guess that is an improvement from 1967.

    The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is lower today than in 1967 (yes, measuring inflation and what index to use is problematic, but on the CPI). I assume most teens would work for minimum wage, so a teen today is arguably paid less than 50 years ago.

    Could a teen today skip college get a job in trucking, manufacturing or construction, and raise a family?

    They did in 1967.

    The smartphones/tablets are incredible. But saying a single technological wonder has raised living standards is a pretty thin reed.

    Weekly earnings for full-time male employees are lower now than in 1979, and yes again you have inflation measurement issues,

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LES1252881900Q

    But jeez—these numbers sure say something is wrong. After 50 years of economic growth, we pay minimum wage workers less? Male workers make less, unless you jigger the numbers with the right inflation index?

    This is pathetic.

    BTW, I am not calling for more social welfare.

    I am calling for an end to property zoning, an end to the criminalization of pushcart vending another self-employment opportunities, and much lower taxes on wages.

    And an end to a Fed that targets a minimum rate of unemployment that is consistent with about 1.5 people unemployed and actively seeking work for every job opening.

    That is, our central bank is in the business are creating permanent, institutionalized job shortages.

  48. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    26. September 2017 at 04:47

    @msgkings,

    “Thank you for posting this, now I can save time skipping your posts as the ravings of a lunatic,”

    Really? Simple admiration of Trump is so extreme to qualify as “ravings of a lunatic”? Well, you are free to self select conversation that agrees with your viewpoints.

  49. Gravatar of Cory Cory
    26. September 2017 at 06:04

    Re Christian List:

    I disagree that the NBA is boring. In my humble opinion the regular season is probably too long given how many teams are not really going to compete for a championship and that can make some of the regular season games boring but the game itself – at it’s highest level – is not boring today. Watching these teams move the ball and take high percentage shots is much better than the hand check era/illegal defense era in my humble opinion where Michael Jordan could get a free throw if the defense tried to react to doubling him too soon.

    Funny enough – this sentiment that American sports are somehow in decline seems to echo the pervasive claim that America and the world in general are in decline.

    On the contrary, I think the NBA for one is much better than it was even a decade or so ago. The stars are great representatives for the league for the most part. I mean really compare LeBron James and Steph Curry to even the great Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley – Jordan leaving the league under shady circumstances at the height of his career with gambling issues lurking underneath the surface, Barkley proudly rejecting that he could be a role model for kids, etc.

    In major league baseball you have the Cubs and the Indians in one of the greatest World Series’ of my lifetime last year – between two famously down on their luck teams. Every pitch in that series had you on the edge of your seat – and really throughout the whole playoffs.

    And, you have more home runs than ever before this year without guys looking like Mr. Olympia.

    Indeed, I would say that 2016 – with the dramatic ending to the SuperBowl and Peyton Manning going out on top, the last second shot to win the NCAA national basketball championship, the dramatic ending in the early 2017 football national championship game following the 2016 season with Clemson toppling the Alabama juggernaut, the dramatic turns in golf e.g. Spieth’s stunning collapse at the Master’s, the historic cubs win over my Indians in a great world series, the Cavs triumph over the Warriors to bring Cleveland their first championship since the 1930’s…etc. etc – was probably the best year overall for sports top to bottom that I can remember in my 32 years.

    My sense is that, while things like creeping political correctness will continue to baffle, In spite of it all, American sports like the world continues the slow slog into trying to be greater than ever before even in the face of people who see inevitable decline everywhere they look.

  50. Gravatar of Cory Cory
    26. September 2017 at 06:20

    Dune:

    You wrote:

    “Bob…what the NFL needs to do is create a trigger warning prior to the playing of the anthem, so that old fat white guys won’t choke on their greasy hot dogs when they see that their favorite players don’t share their love for all things country, military, and police.”

    I loled. It’s like we have two separate factions demanding political correctness in this country. It baffles me that individuals who often decry the left’s suffocating political correctness fail to see that demanding certain behavior with regard to the national anthem, patriotism, etc. (even if this is a popular viewpoint) is a kind of demand to adhere to political correctness.

  51. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    26. September 2017 at 08:22

    @sumner,

    “The best solution is to stop performing the national anthem at games.”

    Why stop there? Maybe the NFL should discard the silly pretense of football entirely and transform into the Linda Sarsour show featuring Hezbollah, Assata Shakur, and the Pisschrist.

  52. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    26. September 2017 at 11:18

    @Massimo- actually I can just rearrange two words in your sentence:

    Extreme admiration of Trump is so simple to qualify as ravings of a lunatic, yes.

    I’m not saying every Trump voter is nuts, but you got a screw loose if you think he’s the best president ever.

    Again, thank you for the Massimo heuristic.

  53. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    26. September 2017 at 11:22

    @Cory: you are right, American sports are doing as well as they ever have (follow the money, as always).

    One nit to pick, though, is that there’s still a few Mr. Olympias hitting the most dingers: Stanton and Judge look like Marvel superheroes. The HR surge is from a (proven) juiced ball, it’s not guys hitting 70 now it’s a record for not-that -powerful guys hitting 20.

  54. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    26. September 2017 at 16:33

    By all standard metrics for what makes people believe themselves superior to others, as Sumner believes himself superior to Trump, the funny thing is that Trump appears to be superior to Sumner, by wide margins.

    How much money did Sumner donate to victims of the recent hurricanes?

    Demagogue and phony? I’ve seen those words, well, extensions of the root words, being used to describe this blog.

    Self-reflection. There is none of that here.

  55. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    26. September 2017 at 17:55

    Scott Sumner on medians vs. averages:

    Okay, let me re-phrase.

    The economist advised his camping party, “We can wade across Lake Erie this year. The median depth is four feet, not seven feet like last year.”

    Medians, like averages, can hide a wealth of sins and virtues!

    Okay, going back to my Stat 2 college text (I aced the class, btw) we find this example:

    In year 1 a society has 11 people, each with income exactly as numbered. Mr. 1 gets $1, Mr. 2 gets $2…Mr. 11 get $11.

    So in year 2, the bottom five misters get their incomes cut in half.

    Yet the median income is unchanged!

    In this case, a simple average might have told you more.

    But more than that, in the real world, how are incomes related to work hours, rents, dividends, interest, and government transfers?

    After taxes?

    And the adjustment for inflation is questionable. The hedonics on housing would strain King Solomon.

    In the real world, we could see median family incomes rise, but only because the two-income families have replaced the one-income family near the middle of the median range. Most people raising children with both parents working do not describe living the life of Riley.

    And how about rising payroll taxes? Rising sales taxes? Median incomes could rise as reported, but be taxed away.

    Is the employed middle-class better off today than 50 years ago?

    I would call it a toss-up but less well off on the margins, and much depends on where one lives, one’s health, one’s skill at evading taxes, and if one prefers two-income work hours.

    But, I do not know many people who would work if they won $5 million.

    Ergo, I assume most married women are working as “they have to.”

    When I win the lottery I will stop working too.

  56. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. September 2017 at 12:40

    Cory, Christian doesn’t understand the NBA, that’s why he finds it boring. I don’t understand soccer, not surprisingly I find it boring. But at least I understand that the issue is me, not soccer.

    Ben, You said:

    “Ergo, I assume most married women are working as “they have to.””

    Then you’d be wrong

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