Poster Propaganda And Second-Guessing Voters
August 31, 2012, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m not sure what to think about this video. It seems wrong in a bunch of dimensions to the extent that maybe they all cancel each other and (once filtered through the electorate) net-out to something right. I dunno. I was done trying to second-guess the American electorate long ago.


Here are just some of the problems I see with propaganda that pushes in this direction.

First, there is a sort of implied notion that young people voted for Obama in 2008 with a view towards job prospects and such. This accords with absolutely nothing in my memory of that time. A 19-year-old who voted for Obama in 2008 was not thinking of jobs, she was thinking that Obama was a hip slim black guy and the (R)s are old geezers who screwed things up and did wrong wars on places. She was thinking that Obama Cared About The Environment, Poor People, and other mascots. She was also thinking about a bunch of stuff she made up about Obama in her head. Literally nothing that has happened since then refutes this logic. Certainly, the fact that recent grads struggle with high unemployment does not refute this. An argument that goes like ‘Obama promised he’d get you all awesome jobs, and that’s why you voted for him, but look, he hasn’t!’ sounds pretty compelling, until you realize (a) No he never did promise anything of the sort and (b) That’s not why you voted for him anyway. (To remind: black; hip; leftist.)

Second, there is an overarching argument being made that a U.S. President’s job is to Make There Be Jobs. I am naturally uneasy with this concept. Whether and to what extent there are Jobs in the economy is a product of larger forces than any one guy. Granted, all Presidential elections are inevitably about this, whether that’s right or fair or not. It is also probably true that Presidential policies, whatever they are or aren’t, have some measurable effect on the economy, and therefore, ‘jobs’. But there’s just a nagging problem with running commercials telling voters ‘you’ve gotten a raw deal because you voted for XYZ for President and he didn’t Make There Be a job for you’ unless you yourself have an ironclad plan to Make There Be A Job for the same person you’re telling this to. Much as I prefer Romney to Obama, or rather Romney Inc. to Obama Inc., which in particular means I predict Romney would have more sensible economic policies, the idea that something President Romney is going to do will Make There Be Jobs for whatever target audience he’s trying to pitch this to is laughable.

However, here’s where it gets tricky: maybe that target audience will become convinced that he will. Indeed, for all I know maybe they will become convinced by this video. Who’s to say? The video does seem ‘well produced’, well-made propaganda. Who am I to say it won’t work then? This becomes an exercise in second-guessing a group of people I believe to be (by and large) shallow and dumb in their voting choices, however, so it sort of makes my head hurt. You see the problem.

Decision ’12: A Plebiscite To Register Your Opinion, Yea or Nay, Regarding Dirty Harry Talking To A Chair
August 31, 2012, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

That’s what it looks like it’ll boil down to, folks. Fasten your seatbelts!

Has ‘American Pie’ Actor And National Treasure Jason Biggs Actually Been A 13-Year-Old Girl All This Time?
August 31, 2012, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

His wiki page implies he’s a 34-year-old man, i.e., an adult.

Meanwhile, he uses the word ‘totes’.

Doesn’t compute.

Should Chris Matthews Be Given Some Kind Of Racial-Awareness Award?
August 31, 2012, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

After all, from the sound of things, he sure lives near has to drive past and look out his car-windows at a lot of black people.

That sure must be tough for him. But he does it!

Runners And Catchers
August 31, 2012, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hardball Times has this discussion: Why can runners hit catchers—and only catchers?

I recall writing about this here. Looking over it, everything I wrote still applies: Catchers who try to ‘block’ a runner without having the ball should just be called for obstruction, and meanwhile, runners shouldn’t be rewarded for knocking out of the fielder’s hands a ball that got there ahead of them. Even aside from the injuries they cause, none of the plays that allowing these things incentivize are good or interesting parts of baseball in the first place.

Just play ball.

Yglesias Advocates Massively-Regressive Tax Increase
August 31, 2012, 11:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Matthew Yglesias on Romney’s nostalgia:

He thought the America of the 1950s and 60s was a good place and a land of opportunity. Which is interesting, because looking forward his view is that avoiding a return to Clinton-era marginal income tax rates is crucial to preserving America’s status as a land of freedom and opportunity. But back in those Romney salad days, those rates were up at 70 percent or even higher. Yet somehow life went on. It’s worth thinking about.

Okay, let’s think about it! I thought about it.

Looking at inflation-adjusted tax rates (not marginals – who cares about marginals? – I’m talking about rates) in 1963, when the top marginal rate was last 91%, vs. today (35%), my quick, dirty, and hopefully minimally-buggy Excel vlookup() and sum() work suggests that net (federal, income) tax effective-rates on a single/married-filing-separately person were anywhere from 30-90% higher back then, on all income categories. Rates in the $50k-110k range (adjusted to 2011 dollars) are perhaps ~30% lower now but those on the low and high ends have seen far higher reductions.

So, it’s true that higher-income folks were billed more in (federal, income**) taxes back in Romney’s utopia. But it’s also true that lower-income folks were billed more. To restore the greatness of 1963 then, we’ll obviously need to raise everyones’ taxes by at least 30% of their current rate. It does seem to be the case that we could squeeze higher incomes more than that, and ‘life would go on’. But only – apparently – by also really sticking it to those making $30k and under – indeed, however much we wish to 1963-ize our tax code, in rate-increase terms we’ll need to squeeze them every bit as much as we’re going to have to stick it to those making $150k or more, as this graph clearly demonstrates:

Of course, the Matthew Yglesiaseses of the world would be the first to point to basic marginal utility theory and say that such a change to the tax code is effectively regressive – raising lower-income folks’ taxes by X% hurts them far more, while higher-income folks are able to more painlessly absorb the same X% extra hit. Nevertheless, having taken his advice to heart and thought about it, I find that Yglesiaseses’s analytical approach and the lessons of history makes it rather inescapable that (if we want to raise higher-income marginal rates at all) that’s what we’re going to have to do, in order to reestablish America as the good place, the land of opportunity of Mitt Romney’s youth.

Or we could just, y’know, not raise taxes at all, on anyone. Absent an actual argument to do so, I mean.

**Obviously, we are ignoring all other changes to the tax environment that have simultaneously occurred since then which may mitigate or even reverse the picture of changes to the tax code these numbers paint: the more-than-doubling of Social Security taxes, the introduction of Medicare (which didn’t exist), the fact that state taxes, sales taxes and property taxes are probably much higher than they were then (if they even existed at all). But that’s totally fair for me to do, and to focus on federal income tax numbers in pure isolation from everything else, since that’s exactly what Matthew Yglesias did.

Did Romney Accept?
August 31, 2012, 8:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was so busy fact-checking his speech that I forgot to check whether he accepted their nomination.

If he didn’t accept? Boy, that would be awkward.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not watch a single millisecond of the (R) convention.


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