Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible
Once it becomes ‘irreversible’, does that mean we can stop hearing about it? Irreversible things, I hasten to add, cannot be reversed even if we push through the Right Policies. So the great thing about claims like these is that they put a hard clock on the relevance of the chicken littlers. For example, here’s a quote:
“This is the critical decade. If we don’t get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines,” said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University’s climate change institute
What this means is that no matter what happens, starting on, I guess, (at least) Jan. 1, 2021, you no longer have to listen to anything Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University’s climate change institute says about climate change ever again. Either a global system of political-economic greenhouse controls will have been put in place to his satisfaction (and you don’t have to listen to him), or they will not have (and it will be too late to do anything, by his own reckoning, so you don’t have to listen to him). In this way the number of people we Have To Listen To should shrink monotonically with time according to the dates the various chicken-littles have asserted to be the ‘tipping point’. If we had the means/manpower, we could keep track of a Chicken-Little Decay Factor (=the % of scientists whose chicken-little claims of a ‘tipping point’ haven’t yet come and gone) and happily watch it shrink with each passing year. By the time the CLDF shrinks to below 10% I think we’ll have a good case for completely ignoring all of this stuff. That’s my solution to the global warming issue in fact and it’s probably the most practical one anyone has ever suggested.
Did Affordable Housing Legislation Contribute to the Subprime Securities Boom?
This working paper says No. (First sentence of highly-scholarly abstract: “No.”) It looks like their methodology is to check for whether they see statistical effects (on loans made, interest rates, etc.) just above and below various ‘affordability’ thresholds, assuming such effects must be linear and completely independent of all other factors.
I don’t have much to say about that statistical number-crunching exercise, except that I wonder why the authors would think there would need to be a discontinuity for there to have been any effect. Essentially they are saying ‘if we don’t see a much bigger change in lending to people with (say) FICO=X and income of Y-$1 than to people with FICO=X and income of Y+$1, then affordability goals had no effect’. But assuming the market would have fine-tuned their lending to such a degree seems to credit them with a to-the-dollar carefulness not really in evidence, and to underestimate the coarseness of their behavior in general. Maybe the market, being lazy, just lowered their standards across the board, knowing (or at least thinking) this would disproportionately satisfy the ‘affordability’ criteria as a byproduct? (After all, if the affordability criteria had been being met under actual market standards, there would have been no need for them; in any event it’s not as if there’s no correlation between income and FICO…) So you would see no discontinuity (i.e. loose mortgage money would have been flung at $X+1 people at pretty much the same rate as at $X-1 people) but it would be incorrect to conclude that the CRA etc. had no effect.
But indeed was there not a broad loosening of lending standards across the board? So do the authors consider this alternative explanation (that would invalidate their paper)? Someone let me know, b/c I really don’t want to read the whole thing, but I didn’t see it. In any event it’s clear there’s a perpetual bid in the economic field for papers that essentially Prove That Socialist Policies Do Not Have Any Of The Bad Economic Effects That Common Sense And Basic Economics Says They Should so feel free to whip up some of these ‘studies’ yourself (do some logistic regressions, etc. until you find a way to get to the “No” conclusion) if you want a few easy published papers for your CV.
Ezra Klein thinks We can’t afford another 18 years of health-care drift, and by implication, he thinks this is an argument against overturning the Obamacare law on constitutional grounds. Conspicuously absent from Klein’s pleading editorial is any argument or even assertion that Obamacare is constitutional. This is illustrative of a general property of Obamacare supporters, which is: they don’t actually care whether it is constitutional.
I am trying to be as neutral as possible in saying that: constitutionality is just not something they care about. What they care about are (what they think or at least pretend to think will be) cost savings, getting a ‘comprehensive system’ in place, and that sort of thing. They DO NOT CARE whether what they seek and hope for and argue for is constitutional.
Along the way, of course, at times they do claim that Obamacare is constitutional. But this is not a verdict they have reached by carefully reading and considering the constitution and then comparing it to what their favored law does. It is a verdict they have reached by reasoning that, since it is good and must be done, it must be constitutional somehow. The ones with a facility for language and essay writing are able to cobble together a ‘how’ (inevitably, something involving the commerce clause).
But this doesn’t mean they actually care about the constitutionality. They may or may not even believe it is constitutional, if they even seriously consider the question. Whether it is constitutional is not something this portion of the electorate cares about. Or – as with the Klein editorial above – even mentions. To a large extent this is just a conversation between two sides with different and non-intersecting concerns.
It sure would be nice if the pro-Obamacare side would admit it, at least once.
UPDATE: Aretae says no one cares about constitutionality of anything. I beg to differ with ‘no one’, because I do (or at least I think I do, unless I merely delude myself). Maybe I’m weird or strange in that regard as I sense I have a highly developed (or pathological) ‘legalistic’ moral sense (or I buy into the ‘legalist’ myth, if you will) which takes it as an affront when I see something like a ‘contract’ that is being violated. But whatever the case, I genuinely do.
I guess he does not believe me and I do not know how I can help. I guess I could name a situation where I believe the Constitution goes against my views, yet I still support the Constitution, and see if that helps?
Well how about the federal income tax. I hate the income tax! But I acknowledge that the 16th Amendment exists. Another example is that I believe individual states could establish state religions, even though I’d be opposed to that, since the 1st Amendment just says ‘Congress shall make no law…’. I’m not a big fan of the census but the Constitution requires it. Etc.
It’s the nature of things though that most of the Constitution takes the form of ‘list of things the government is empowered to do’ (and some things, it has to do). Someone who by disposition wants the government to do a minimal amount of things will naturally see the constitution as on ‘their side’ most of the time. That is, there aren’t a lot of examples of Things I Want The Government To Do, But The Constitution Disallows because there aren’t a lot of things I want the government to do full stop. So that’s the way it is.