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Matthew Yglesias complains on Vox: Want a good public education for your kids? Better be rich first.
He features this chart:
It doesn’t take a socioeconomic genius to see the logical problem here, as many already have on Twitter. The plot correlates a measure of a) how smart the students are vs. a result of b) how wealthy the parents are, binned by school. And lo and behold it reveals the (wholly unsurprising) fact that higher family wealth correlates with kids who do better on tests.
What’s that got to do with how ‘good’ the school actually is? (Unless of course by ‘good’ you mean something else entirely.)
So that’s funny enough. What really makes that post a perfect-storm for RWCG-fodder though is that (as usual with Matthew Yglesias) it seems likely there’s an autobiographical angle. I know it’s unsporting and against the rules of polite debate to point this out, but it’s just that so often, the (ostensibly class-conscious and disinterestedly progressive) topics that interest Matthew Yglesias tend to magically align with whatever’s going on in the life, and threatens to hinder the social advancement (or even mere convenience) of, one Matthew Yglesias. I’m not gonna bother to dig up links but if you wish you can find Yglesias posts on such things as
- Things that inconvenience him (e.g. how Amtrak trains handle boarding procedures, the bad wi-fi on Amtrak, or more recently, brick sidewalks that make it hard to push strollers)
- Things that he finds aesthetically displeasing (e.g. cracks in the sidewalk)
- Zoning rules which make housing more expensive/restricted, especially in DC (a big interest of his especially around the time he was buying a condo in…DC)
To pause on that last item for a moment. The conservosphere made a big deal of his purchase, which I criticized at the time. (Dude’s gotta live somewhere, this is just what stuff costs where he is, etc.) But now that he’s (as his readers also know) recently had a kid, and suddenly blogging about these (faux) ‘school goodness’ statistics, surely one can be forgiven for connecting some dots and wondering, golly, where would that Logan Circle condo he bought a couple years back places him on the DC public-school-zone map. Can’t one?
Well, it’s not that hard to look this stuff up, and best I can tell (I could certainly be wrong), it should place him in Garrison. Just to be clear, that’s the lonely dot in the lower-right quadrant, with a relatively high average home price but a super-low (~25%) test-score metric on par with some of the more, er, diverse areas. Yet just nearby are acceptably upper-right-quadrant schools Seaton & Cleveland, and he would appear to be tantalizingly close to that top-rightmost dot Ross, representing Dupont Circle.
So, I mean. I’m just gonna ask it. Is that what the bleeding-heart lefty is really complaining about with this piece? That his pricey condo still wasn’t enough to get him to the cream of the crop areas where the public-schools are ‘good’ (i.e., where the kids his kid would be mixing with come from more uniformly-wealthy families)? I mean like, damn, what’s an important voxsplaining progressive gotta do to keep his kids from the rabble?
Of course, never fear. I’m sure his kid is destined for private school anyway, and/or they’ll sell out & move to the ‘burbs before kindergarten. Can’t wait to see the caring selfless disinterested lefty blog-post socioanalyses that’d result from that.
UPDATE: I rest my case, I guess. Kind of anticlimactic really. Like, he doesn’t even have any self-consciousness about it.
@chingos But what’s happening with Garrison? Inquiring Logan Circle minds want to know.
— Matt! (@mattyglesias) July 21, 2015
— Matt! (@mattyglesias) July 21, 2015
UPDATE 2: A more careful analysis that correlates home-price to something that actually does try to measure school quality, ‘median growth percentile’. Which may not be a perfect metric but at least (unlike mere test scores) it tries!
The result for Yglesias’s school?
But I crunched the numbers, Matt, and Garrison is hardly terrible. If you had used better metrics, you would have discovered it’s just about average.
So we see that according to the data, Yglesias’s complaint can simply not be that his local school is ‘bad’. It can only be that the kids it contains test as if they are, on average, from poorer families. One possible, even likely, reason for this phenomenon is that the school just has a high dispersion in wealth/demographics – i.e., some kids from wealthy and super-wealthy families mixed in a population with a larger bloc of kids from poorer families.
So again, I’m just wondering, what precisely is Yglesias’s complaint with all this fretting about whether his nearby school is ‘good’? Gee, I wonder.
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You may have heard that J.E.B. “Jeb” Bush recently ‘promised’ 4 percent economic growth. You may have heard this because he gave a speech whose contents are often being reported/headlined as ‘promising’ 4 percent economic growth. This has sent Smart People into a tizzy of feverishly writing rebuttals. They just can not let this ‘promise’ stand.
Looks like here’s the relevant part of the speech I think they’re all talking about:
So many challenges could be overcome if we just get this economy growing at full strength. There is not a reason in the world why we cannot grow at a rate of four percent a year.
And that will be my goal as President – four percent growth, and the 19 million new jobs that come with it.
I don’t know about the English comprehension of Smart People. I’m not a Jeb Bush fan, but to me, this is just him saying a) ‘there is not a reason in the world’ that growth can’t be four percent, and b) that’s his ‘goal’.
What on earth is the big deal? What do you want him to say? This is like the blandest gruel to be angry about.
Taking the statements in reverse order: ok, Smartypants, should it not be the stated goal of a Presidential candidate to enact policies that he thinks would increase economic growth? And is there a reason in the world that growth can’t be four percent?
To read Smart People, you’d think their answer to the second question is yes: an economic growth rate of four percent is somehow a physical impossibility, like traveling faster than the speed of light. If this is the case it’s a pretty recent development. Back in 2009-2011, recently-elected President Obama’s own OMB was projecting higher than 4% growth rates for the future-year 2013. Why weren’t the Smart People out in force then, to tsk-tsk and ‘debunk’ that projection, insinuate that Obama and those in the OMB who made the projection must be economic ignorami, and remind us all condescendingly that everyone who knows any economics at all knows that the magical threshold of 4% is metaphysically impossible? (Or is it just that it only became metaphysically impossible sometime after 2011?)
Something about this ‘4 percent’ number really strikes an emotional chord with Smart People. Look at ’em. They need to rebut it, to debunk it, to spin and fight against it.
What’s really going on? Two big factors.
When/where Smart People merely disagree that a policy being proposed by Bush as part of his “4% Growth” project will indeed increase growth, they’re (being Smart) not content to just say that. “I disagree that will promote as much growth as he is implying”, after all, is a pretty underwhelming rebuttal. Ok, so you disagree with an (R) policy, big deal, we already knew that. That’ll never win the debate! No, better to gussy-up that opinion with #science by making-up a straw man (‘promise’) and then claiming it’s ‘impossible’. Smart People have an emotional need for their opinions and preferences to somehow all be #science.
The other factor here is that, for at least some of the policies in question, Smart People don’t actually even disagree that they’d promote growth. They just don’t like those policies anyway, and don’t want people to like or want them, regardless of how much growth they’d engender. Hence the need to paint a 4% growth target (or any round-number that, they fear, sounds like a significant goal/benchmark) as unattainable and not even worth seeking. “Yes ok I admit that’d increase growth, probably, but it’s only like 0.1% or something, not even worth doing.” This wouldn’t be surprising because the typical Smart People menu of policy preferences is chock full of items that ‘only’ clamp down on growth by a number like 0.1% (each). Of course, add up 20 of them and you could get from 2% to 4% growth by just not doing them, but that’s precisely what Smart People don’t want you to notice.
So instead we get the desperate, emotional smoke-and-mirrors that is ‘Jeb Bush promised 4% growth LOL that’s so dumb he doesn’t know any economics I have a economics PhD let me tell you how dumb that is in a hastily-typed-out op-ed!!1′. Which is so very Smart.
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Millennials claim they want fresh, healthy, locally sourced food.
Do they? Do they really? Or do hack commentators who like to comment on ‘Millenials’ just claim this sort of thing on their behalf, projecting all their own values and ideas of coolness onto ‘Millenials’ based on what they (the commentators, often/usually Millenials themselves) think all Millenials should like?
The actual content of the story is that if you look at the actual data, it shows ‘Millenials’ patronizing McDonald’s a lot (as you might expect of any less-wealthy demographic subgroup). For some reason this content is accompanied by a video featuring a bunch of interchangeable twentysomething internet-journalist ladies talking about how counterintuitive that supposedly is, because of what ‘we all know’ about Millenials. Enjoy.
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In a review of True Detective:
I’m not even sure what “True Detective” as a series is definitively about, other than just how hard it is to be a man, specifically a white one.
Whoa! Where on earth did this throwaway ‘white’ mention come from?
Why is the reviewer noticing the race of the actors?
Why is he scoffing at a fictional situation in which fictional characters have hard and bad things happen to them, entirely based on the fact that those fictional characters (at least, judging form the actors portraying them) read as ‘white’? Is the implication that people who are white can’t possibly have hard lives and therefore that no fictional stories in which they do should ever be written?
Why does he even insert race, apropos of nothing, into his analysis of the show in the first place? Why would their race even be a thing on his mind at all when analyzing this TV show, which isn’t really about race one way or the other?
None of these things are things he could get away if the race in question were anything other than ‘white’. But since they are white, it’s fine and cool to casually toss out racist remarks.
Just another instance of Random Acceptable Racism™.
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Fredrik deBoer is still apologizing for and trying to deal with the internet fallout (and, seemingly, career suicide) he got from saying he likes the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates a lot but didn’t like it SO MUCH that he wanted to marry it.
Hot DAMN white SWPL-talibans sure are strict in their enforcement of the SWPL-commandment that you must love Ta-Nehisi Coates with the flame of a thousand suns and place him above all others.
DeBoer’s review of the new movie Trainwreck is worth reading. From it I learn what it’s about: Amy Schumer is a thirtysomething promiscuous skank (who looks like, well, Amy Schumer – i.e. not bad, not great), but then realizes she shouldn’t be so promiscuous on the way to landing a successful big-city doctor who is best buds with LeBron James. Because, as we all know, successful big-city doctors who are best buds with people like LeBron James are totally likely to fall in love with & wife up thirtysomething ladies who look like Amy Schumer and only recently realized they shouldn’t act like promiscuous skanks. That happens like all the time, it’s totally realistic and not a fantasy or anything.
But seriously, the real problem here – as usual with this type of pop culture ephemera – is that the fantasy may well work for the actual Amy Schumer (who wrote the screenplay & which is apparently semi-autobiographical), just not for 99.999% of the other people watching the movie who are not Amy Schumer.
Some dumb survey about Canada came out which implies that the best city to be a woman is the one in which everybody is equally poor. Illustration of the idiocy of using ‘inequality’ as a utility metric, and of made-up social-science metrics and ‘rankings’ in general.
This piece by one Michael Sonmore in New York Magazine about how happy he is that he is in an open marriage wherein his wife has sex with other dudes (and what it ‘teaches him about feminism’) is making the usual rounds. People are reacting to it as if it’s real, which is understandable enough, but there is grounds for suspicion. Who is this ‘Michael Sonmore’, alleged house-husband and happy-that-his-wife-is-happy-having-sex-with-other-guys? Google exact-text searches for Michael Sonmore are suspiciously scant – indeed, they all appear to trace back to this article. He has essentially no online presence of any kind. If we presume this is a person with writing aspirations – you know, a writer? – that’s very odd. I mean, how did NY Mag even line up this piece with this guy? How did the article come to be? We almost have to imagine (if the story is real) some editor there happens to know the guy personally, knows of his situation and its feminist implications, and asked/begged him to write a piece about it even though he’s not a writer (or even employed). The only other possibility is that the guy’s a real writer, the situation is real, but ‘Michael Sonmore’ is a pseudonym. That seems more likely, but seems to contradict all the supposed pride and happiness he feels about his open marriage and his wife banging other dudes. Doesn’t it? Why isn’t he happy to share his real name?
So, a puzzle indeed. Add it all up and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out some chick wrote this piece.
Nassim Taleb becomes the latest economist (well, sorta, in his case? what exactly is he?) to weigh in on the totally-economics-question of climate change, under the familiar guise of the (totally retarded and vacuous) ‘precautionary principle’. Apparently, the less sure we are that climate models are even correct, the more we should want to restrict CO2. Indeed, the inadequacy of the models “may even constitute” the case for CO2 restrictions. Or something. Presumably in the limit if we had no knowledge of anything and no science whatsoever we should want to restrict 100% of CO2 emissions (and by extension, emissions of everything). It’s just the Precautionary Principle!
I feel unsporting to make fun of Taleb though, because in a way we’re a lot alike. I mean what’s his huge crime here, he arrogantly doodles out half-baked theories and some lazy math equations with no context or knowledge of or serious contact with the actual field in question – its history, its literature, its actual practitioners? Man after my own heart, really. (I mean, doing literature reviews is hard and boring, and to dip into a field that’s not your own and get up to speed you’d have to talk to people and stuff. Screw that!) The only difference is that when he does this, it actually gets published for some reason.
Finally, Scott Walker is in hot water for giving an excellent and honest answer to a dumb question:
CNN’s Dana Bash asked Walker, “Do you think being gay is a choice?”
“I don’t have an opinion on every single issue out there. To me, that’s, I don’t know,” Walker answered. “I don’t know the answer to that question.”
I’m in shock just rereading this. What an amazing answer. What a great answer. It’s not only a great answer, it’s the correct answer. Gentle reader, is ‘being gay’ ‘a choice’? You don’t know. I don’t care what you say: you don’t know and nor do I. But Scott Walker is a politician and actually admitted it. That’s rare. That’s amazing. That’s refreshing. That’s laudable, in and of itself. If we don’t praise a politician the one time he gives such an honest answer, what sort of public discourse will we deserve?
Don’t answer that. There’s no need. We deserve crap and sophistry and being lied to because that’s exactly what we ask for.
This occasion is no different. Smart People are, of course, up in arms at Walker’s incorrect answer. ‘I don’t know’ is incorrect: everyone, certainly every politician, must know whether ‘being gay’ ‘is a choice’. This is especially the case for anyone seeking the office of Presidency, since by tacit agreement the job description of the President is now apparently 98% focused gay people and all sorts of gay stuff. How can he not know and still expect to be President! Unthinkable.
Of course you must ‘know’. Because this question, of whether being gay ‘is a choice, has a correct answer. And that answer is, um, well let me see, why are you asking?
If it’s about whether gays can get married (to each other), then of course being gay isn’t a choice.
If the context is whether there’s ‘gay DNA’, which might allow parents to screen for gayness and abort, then um well it’s not so cut and dried, is it?
If the context is celebrating and applauding someone like Cynthia Nixon or Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli, it’s even more complicated. After all these people for much of their lives weren’t gay in any sense of the term, but then something happened and they became gay. If gayness isn’t ‘a choice’ (which is isn’t!), this shouldn’t be possible, or at least cries out for some elaborate explanation. But so even though it can’t happen, when it does happen (because it’s evidently possible), we should celebrate and mindlessly applaud it and just forget about the whole ‘choice’ question because what were we even talking about I forget.
So you can see, by not adhering to the totally-coherent orthodox answer I’ve just outlined in the foregoing, Scott Walker has proved himself a grade-A-certified dummy.
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To read Steve Sailer is to think ‘geez, how could I not have noticed this’.
Seriously, sixty years ago, “urban renewal” was all the rage, although cynics joked that cities, in effect, were attempting to engage in “Negro removal.”
Nowadays, everybody who is anybody wants to move back into the city, so white progressives have become obsessed with exposing all those vicious racists in the suburbs and exurbs, and using disparate impact thinking to force them to take more blacks from the city.
It’s only a coincidence that this would open up more prime urban real estate for gentrification, right?
Geez. I really should have noticed this.
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People inclined to point to a growing* economy (*starting from a low trough) tend to also decry ‘austerity’, in effect low deficits, as being anti-growth, so I guess it’s worth pointing out that this great economy (if that’s what it is) has come at a time of sharply declining** deficits (**starting from a high peak).
In particular, there’s still no coherent reason whatsoever (other than spite/envy) for lefties to want to raise taxes, on anyone.
Getting Superman wrong:
Superman isn’t good or special because he’s an alien who crashes on Earth and ends up being incredibly powerful. He’s special because after all that he becomes someone who always does the right thing because he was raised by a couple of decent people from Kansas.
Red states have more ‘inequality between neighborhoods’ while blue states have the most distressed cities. I guess this is supposed to be a…tradeoff? – like, okay, having economically-distressed cities is bad and all, but ‘inequality between neighborhoods’ is…really bad too? Clearly anyone living in a red state should want to make all their cities more distressed so as to reduce inequality. It’s a clear tradeoff!
Am I the only one annoyed that even the one lefty guy willing to criticize the fawning, slobbering, embarrassing adulation for every word emanated from Ta-Nehisi Coates still takes great pains to point out that he really likes Ta-Nehisi Coates’s writing? Like, Coates only falls short when compared to someone called James Baldwin (“James fucking Baldwin”) – which in this context is NOT, I gather, a reference to the former Chicago White Sox pitcher as I had initially assumed.
Hey, I totally support the ‘right to strike’. It’s just that I also support the right of your employer to fire you if you do.
Did you see how much the stock prices of health insurance companies and hospitals shot up after the Supreme Court refused to strike down the Obamacare subsidies for states without exchanges?
Yup. And totally predictable (which is why I bet on it as an Obamacare-hedge).
The Bootleggers-Baptists idea explains so much. Have you noticed how the (widely-panned, especially by Smart People) new season of True Detective is all about a nexus of association between do-gooder big-government projects and organized crime? Here’s an old post of mine on that.
Paper finding defaults occurred across incomes, being cited as ‘data’ showing us meanie righties are (as usual) dumb to blame the mortgage crisis on loose credit standards etc. I don’t know what to say at this point, this is still just the wrong kind of argument.
The explanation given for why defaults occurred everywhere amounts to just observing there was a widespread craze to lever-up to buy houses for quick profit. Why was there a craze? Because people all over, from all incomes, figured prices would go up. Okay, so far so good.
Why did people all figure prices would endlessly go up? Hmm? Some unfathomable exogenous reason that just magically appeared out of the clear blue sky and cannot be identified or accounted for? Or could it, possibly, have had something to do with the easy government money that had been being thrown at mortgages, including – specifically – significantly expanding the potential buyer base by climbing down the credit spectrum (which, sorry, had everything to do with government efforts regarding housing)?
If this credit expansion, the climbing down the credit stack, occurred (and does anyone seriously dispute that it did??), then its effects would necessarily have been felt at all levels of the housing market, at all income levels. That’s part of how markets work – it’s just basic economics – these sectors the housing market are not hermetically siloed-off from each other. So you simply can’t ‘disprove’ that it had such an effect by pointing to defaults among higher incomes, or whatever. That’s simply the wrong kind of argument, and it cannot be correct, sorry.