Saturday, November 19, 2016

Grabbing America by the pussy

Trump election shows us who we truly are

 People are going to go through the data pretty extensively, but by now we have come to the conclusion that the Democrat/Republican split is not too far from 4 years ago.

Trump picked up some white men and lost some women votes. Hillary did not pick up enough women to compensate. More minorities voted for Trump than for the previous guy, somehow.

This supports the hypothesis that groups will vote strategically to place themselves as high up in the social totem pole as they possibly can. 53% of white women voted Trump. This is despite all the very un-PC things Trump said and did. These women made the calculation that it's more important to keep the racism than it is to fight for gender equality. Better to deal with the bastards they know than the others who look and behave different.  It is a rational choice, albeit a disheartening one. White feminism is going to lose a lot of support over this one. If they have proven that their preferred world order is a profoundly unequal one, why would anyone else lift a finger for their cause?

That said, I am in general not too angry at people who supported Trump. The world changed a lot in the last generation. The social norms just one generations ago is now openly ridiculed. Not an insignificant number of people see that every social, political, and economic change in the last three decades resulted in the lowering of their status. They see the institutions that were supposed to safeguard their interest stab them in the back. Immigrants refuse to assimilate and instead stick to their own enclaves. Now one person comes and promise to throw a wrench into this machine, and appears to not be afraid of pissing off anybody. He disrespects the very institutions who have been perceived to be hurting the interest of people it's supposed to look after without consequences. It is very easy to view him favorably.

Maybe this is hindsight bias, but I have long suspected Trump to be smarter than he looks. It actually makes a lot of sense for him to run a campaign turning out his base. Black people was never going to vote for him anyways, Hispanics and other immigrants overwhelmingly go democrat and is unlikely to vote Republican no matter how conciliatory any republican try to sound. The base of republicans will never allow a genuine re calibration of racial dynamics in their country. What's the point of trying to win them when he was able to get the white vote out. Now that he has proven that he can win without giving minorities anything at all, what incentive does future politicians to be inclusive?

While I'm not a US citizen, the results of a Trump presidency is going to affect me pretty profoundly since America is what it is. However, taking a few steps back, the struggles people are having now is the same struggle people have been having for generations. Immigrants have a long history of being marginalized and reminded that no, there is a ceiling, if you try to pierce it there will be a backlash. I don't think it is a coincidence that Trump follows immediately after Obama, who is actually a pretty capable politician whom most of America is still pretty okay with. I have a sneaking suspicion that Kellie Leitch is going to go pretty far in her quest for power.

We are seeing a global backlash against more openness. This is because the gatekeepers too often co-operate with capital at the expense of labor. People are not stupid. They can see what's happening. When all they have is one lever to push, whether brexit, or Trump, or whatever else, people will push it to send a message.

So, what now? Same as always, really. Do what you can with what you have. Try and look out for yourself but not at the expense of your people. Make it so that the next person who is just like you will have it a little bit easier than you. Maybe one day, in a time far from now, we won't ever need to have this discussion again.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fertility Rate and Childcare

 Post at Penelope Trunk about Feminism and the prevailing norm about gender roles versus society expectations of it. Very much worth a read.

Fertility rate and childcare

When we talk about women trying to work while they take care of kids, there’s a lot of finger pointing: maternity leave laws should change, companies should provide flexible jobs, men should do more emotional labor…. But what we really need is for women to stop lying about their choices, achievements and struggles. A key step toward institutional reform is for women to be honest about what they are able to do and the resources that have to do it with.

I suspect that falling fertility rates has a lot to do with the role we expect women(and men) to take on when the alternative is just so much better. Comparing my friends who has kids vs my friends who doesn't. It's a very large sacrifice to have kids even for the ones who are happily married. For single, successful women with moderate amounts of disposable income, the trade off seems like a no-brainer.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Thoughts on Greece

So allow me to summarize.  Greece never really had the ability nor intention to live within its means.  The country has always been subsidized in one way or another.  There were some geopolitical considerations that had an interest in ensuring that Greece was not a failed state.  This was pretty clear from the outset when Greek joined the Eurozone.  It would need a material transfer of wealth from the rest of Europe, be it in the form of artificially low interest rates, capital transfer, whichever that allows Greek people to punch above their weight in terms of their capacity to produce versus the way the country consumed.  For awhile this worked.  Greece was granted European status and all the markets regarded Greece as more safe than it actually was.  In 2010, after the financial crises, it became clear that Greece as a whole owed too much and would not be able to pay back.  So at this point the Europeans came up with a solution: let Greece nationalize their private debt, give the Greek nation a bigass loan so that the previous debt can be repaid.  So now the problem becomes how is Greece going to pay this new debt.  Well, they tried, and they tried very hard.  They cut services down to a minimum.  They paid everyone they can as little as they can and tried to collect taxes even on the previous uncollectibles.  This wasn't enough, however, and it will never be enough for several reasons.  So now we have a situation where Greece keeps gutting its citizens welfare, paying what it can, while they work out deal after deal.  Looks suspiciously like they're going to try to squeeze everything out of Greece while they can.  One day there will be a reckoning, and they will discover non-compliance is probably the best course of action.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Canadian Tech Scene

From Tyler Cowen:

Some economic sectors are distributed everywhere, like every city has its dentist[s], and other sectors are quite clustered. Banking is pretty clustered — New York, London, Hong Kong. Tech has been evolving in a pretty clustered way; I don’t mean simple software support, which is more like dentistry, but big, grand projects — the next Google, the next Facebook, Uber. We see those come out of quite a small number of places, so Skype coming from Estonia is quite the exception. Even then, it was improved by people in the clusters.
I think any location, not just Canada, has to ask itself, ‘are we going to be one of those clusters or not’? And the correct answer may be ‘no’. It may also be the sector evolves so it’s less clustered and more like dentistry, and then everywhere including Canada would partake. But maybe the future is Canada will have a knowledge sector doing small-scale things like software design for local projects but not anything like its own Silicon Valley. I guess at this point that seems likely — that Canada will not be a huge innovative part of the knowledge economy.

I have to agree.  Recent expansions in Vancouver notwithstanding(they seem to be a stopover for foreign nationals before they get American Visas anyways), there's not a critical mass here to get the cluster going.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What you learn at 60.  Definitely worth a read.

"If you’re working for the man, it’s just a matter of time before you lose your job."

The rest is here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rent your children out for 15.99 an hour

So, Avis is buying zipcars

This isn't about zipcars though.  I was thinking, is the reason why people now rent rather than own the result of not an attitude shift but a downgrade in amount of resources available.  I remember a time when everyone had to own a car at some point.  It was just expected not to mention the suits, technology, fashion and whatever else one might presumably own.  So we know that income and aspirations have been affected by this great recession, especially among younger crowds.  So is this shift towards greater resource efficiency a reflection of reduced means or do people genuinely want less stuff?  The point in favor of my hypothesis that we're really renting more because we're generally poorer because rich people don't really own any less stuff, if you look at boats, vacation properties, horses, and whatever else ridiculously useless items that they collect.  They don't seem to be affect by this cultural shift. I'm supposing, if and when we have a broad economic upturn lifting all boats, we will see the data that settles this question.

If indeed we are seeing a genuine shift towards rentals, where does it stop? can I rent your children?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Because it is my nature

One day, a scorpion stood on the side of a stream and asked a frog to carry it to the other side. 'How do I know you won't sting me?' the forg asked. 'Because if I sting you, I'll drown,' the scorpion said.

The frog thought about it and realized that the scorpion was right.  So he put the scorpion on his back and started ferrying him.  But midway across the stream, the scorpion plunged its stinger into the frong's back.  As they both began to drown, the frog gasped, 'Why?'

The scorpion replied, 'Because it is my nature.'

That is all.