Hot House Flowers, Robin Hood in Reverse, Midwest Agriculture is Screwed

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Hot House Flowers

Steve Sailer had this up on his site with some comments. It’s short so I’ll post the whole thing below.

Two groups who I think share a lot of unappreciated similarities are liberal gentrification critics and conservative immigration critics. Both want to take a dynamic and free society and freeze it in time, because they like it how it is now. And both assume we have a high level of ownership over our neighborhoods and our country.

It’s true both neighborhoods and the country overall exist within democracies and so we have some legitimate say in what happens there, but it’s simply not the case that we own it. Both contain homes and property owned by others, which you don’t own. As a result, your neighbors are free to sell their homes to whoever they please, and for gentrification critics and immigration critics this can be a problem. The United States is not our shared property, but a free country and free society where we have various rights.

Perhaps all the existing residents could decide that to the best of their abilities they want to legally freeze everything in time and keep it just how it is. But remember that the country looks how it does today because past residents were willing to accept change. The desire to freeze it now, to block new entrants and stop change, is a selfish act that denies future generations the right to see their country and neighborhoods evolve, just as they have evolved to this point.

Imagine if every neighborhood from the 1950s remained frozen in place, and strict laws managed to mandate static relative socioeconomic status and ethnic and cultural makeup. In retrospect of course it seems silly and hubristic to pick a singular point in time, -say 1955- and declare that everything is perfected now compared to all prior states and all possible future states. Of course when we’re taking about now instead of then, many find the right to preserve current conditions to be obvious and not silly at all.

Maybe this message is wholly unneeded for the sophisticated readers of the blogosphere, but I think for sure it is broadly under-appreciated. The only reason we have have gotten to this current state that you wish to preserve forever is that past generations resisted that impulse. It’s a free country, and that means we don’t own it.

The bit of commentary that got my attention and made me laugh is this:

I’m always amused by how people congratulate themselves on how sophisticated their simplistic ideas are. The concept of diminishing marginal returns appears to be unknown to them, for example, but that doesn’t dent their self-confidence.

Sailer is not a wordsmith or a humorist, but sometimes his dry wit is pretty funny.

Modern times means you can Google the writer and learn a lot. Adam Ozimek, according to his LinkedIn profile, has spent most of his life in college. He has had a short tenure at a consulting firm that sells expert testimony to trial attorneys. That sounds terribly dodgy to me, but everything to do with civil litigation is dodgy. Otherwise, Adam Ozimek has spent his life either in school or doing school work for hire. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing that would strike a normal man as work.

That’s the thing you always see with economists. It is rare to see one with any experience in the practical world. Most are career academics. Others bounce around government and private think tanks. In some respects, economics has become a guild like the law. It has its own language, credentials and hierarchy. The law is the marshal profession of the managerial class. Economics is the priestly order of the managerial class. If your kid has an abrasive personality he goes into law. If he is socially awkward he goes into economics.

Years ago I was involved in a lawsuit. During discovery, the topic of billing consulting fees came up. I forget the details, but there was a question about fees billed to the other party. The attorneys were flabbergasted by the idea of marking up fees billed to a client. At first I thought it was some sort of lawyer gag, but I realized they were serious. They simply had no idea how a business makes a profit. In this case the business hired consultants and billed for their time.

Similarly, I had a discussion with a German doctoral student at Yale over beers about business topics. He was an interesting guy and his specialty was currency markets. I have an interest in the history of money so that’s how we fell into conversation. Once we moved to more mundane matters like balance sheets and financial statements, the guy was completely lost. He expected to leave college and head into finance. I could not help but wonder how he would manage without knowing something about how a business functions.

The political class now draws its members from the managerial class. Ted Cruz was a lawyer, for example. Jindal was a consultant for McKinsey. Tubby from New Jersey was a lawyer for the government. The staff in Washington is chock full of guys with resumes similar to Adam Ozimek. It is fair to say that the people who run the government have little in common with the rest of us. They are brimming with self-confidence as they look through the glass of the terrarium at us.

Found at the Z Blog.

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Robin Hood in Reverse

State and local taxes in the United States take the most from those who have the least, undermining efforts to redress inequality.

Those who earn the least pay the most in nearly every state across America. Or rather, the poorest citizens pay the highest proportion of their incomes to local and state governments—twice as much in fact, as the top one percent. And this regressive system, this inversion of the idea that taxes should be linked in part to a citizen’s ability to pay, tells us a lot about how we talk about fairness today.

Often when people say “taxes”, they mean the federal income tax. When Mitt Romney said that “47 percent” of people would vote for President Obama “no matter what,” he was referring to the 47 percent of Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011. Some of those people were retired, and most of the others paid payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security. But the federal income tax system is quite progressive, scaling from a 10 percent rate at the bottom to a nearly 40 percent rate in the top income bracket. Tax breaks like the Earned-Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit mean that lower-income Americans sometimes have a negative federal income tax bill—the IRS sends them a check. These progressive provisions in the federal tax code are crucial tools for cutting poverty and inequality.

But according to a new report from The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the impact of those federal tax breaks is largely offset by the burden of state and local taxes. Here’s how state and local taxes break down as a percentage of income: The richest Americans pay the least.

Graphs and more HERE.

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This Map Shows Why Midwest Agriculture is Screwed

A look at which states’ farmers could benefit from climate change—and which ones will lose big time.

The ongoing drought in California has been, among other things, a powerful lesson in how vulnerable America’s agricultural sector is to climate change. Even if that drought wasn’t specifically caused by man-made global warming, scientists have little doubt that droughts and heat waves are going to get more frequent and severe in important crop-growing regions. In California, the cost in 2014 was staggering: $2.2 billion in losses and added expenses, plus 17,000 lost jobs, according to a UC-Davis study.

California is the country’s hub for fruits, veggies, and nuts. But what about the commodity grains grown in the Midwest, where the U.S. produces over half its corn and soy? That’s the subject of a new report by the climate research group headed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer (whorecently shut down rumors that he might run for Senate).

The report is all about climate impacts expected in the Midwest, and the big takeaway is that future generations have lots of very sweaty summers in store. One example: “The average Chicago resident is expected to experience more days over 95 degrees F by the century’s end than the average Texan does today.” The report also predicts that electricity prices will increase, with potential ramifications for the region’s manufacturing sector, and that beloved winter sports—ice fishing, anyone?—will become harder to do.

But some of the most troublesome findings are about agriculture. Some places will fare better than others; northern Minnesota, for example, could very well find itself benefiting from global warming. But overall, the report says, extreme heat, scarcer water resources, and weed and insect invasions will drive down corn and soybean yields by 11 to 69 percent by the century’s end. Note that these predictions assume no “significant adaptation,” so there’s an opportunity to soften the blow with solutions like better water management, switching to more heat-tolerant crops like sorghum, or the combination of genetic engineering and data technology now being pursued by Monsanto.

The map and more found HERE.

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