Federal pay freeze

January 27, 2011

Even though my pay is frozen, it looks like I’ll get a raise of about 6% this year. I’ll get the details in a couple weeks.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time in which I was afraid that I might not get a pay increase. It’s been very hard.



January 26, 2011

We’re looking into day-cares and nannies. My preference would be hire a nanny, but we’ll see what happens.

It’s really funny to discuss nannies with the SWPLs in my neighborhood. In general, they don’t want to hire black nannies, but they don’t want to admit that they don’t want to hire black nannies. There is one exception to this – it appears that people are willing (and eager) to hire black nannies if the nannies have recently immigrated from Africa.

The easiest way to weed out American black nannies is to require that the nanny know a second language – even it’s some obscure African language.

In the park, when you look at the nannies with kids, the nannies naturally break into three groups: Hispanics, American blacks, and African blacks.

Finally, I’ll note that an incredible number of otherwise law-abiding SWPLs – mostly lawyers and government employees too! – also have nannies that they pay off-the-books.

Randoms of the day

January 25, 2011

More on Fed "independence"

John Robb links to a very interesting article on neo-feudalism. The article argues that Davos is a return to feudal era diplomacy. Davos has never made more sense to me.

A guest post at Ferdinand’s place on Reactionary Self-Improvement.

Reactionary-lite at The American Interest:

Today’s libertarians sometimes like to call their blue model liberal opponents “unamerican”. Nothing could be farther from the truth: if Yankee New England isn’t American, nothing is. If John Winthrop, Cotton Mather, the Mayflower Compact and the first Thanksgiving aren’t part of the American story, friends, we don’t have a story. That doesn’t mean Boston is always right, much less that in its current state the Puritan big-state tradition in American has useful answers to offer, but it also means that Americans inspired by this tradition will continue to add to the discussion over our future.

And far from being dead and buried, the Puritan political tradition in America is best represented by our current president; intellectually and morally, President Obama is a distinguished representative of Boston at its best.

Abolishing politics

January 25, 2011

Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

– Robert Conquest

David Frum has a proposed State of the Union Address at Esquire.

There is perhaps no more striking progressive belief than the belief that bodies can be created through a political process but, once created, can operate independently of politics.

A moment of thinking with a coherent mind will render this proposition absurd, yet it is held by nearly everyone.

Frum (a Conservative Republican, we are told) uses a magic wand to create independence in two areas:

The Federal Reserve board is our most important recession-fighting tool. I am disturbed by recent attacks on the independence of the Federal Reserve. Like all the presidents since the creation of the Federal Reserve a century ago, I will defend the independence of the Federal Reserve.

The Fed, of course, is not independent in any meaningful sense. It’s enthralled with one particular ideology – Keynesianism – that enthrals mainstream economic opinion that is in turned governed by a close-knit group of academics and bureaucrats. The Fed cannot diverge from mainstream academic economic opinion, by definition as its leaders are selected from a pool of mainstream economists. Said opinion is determined largely by tenure committees and federal grants. Nothing about this process is independent in any meaningful sense. Independent bodies set up specific metrics for success and failure. The Fed does not. Independent bodies are held responsible for failure. The Fed is not. Perhaps most ironically, the Fed is "independent" in the sense that it is not held responsible for its failures – a perfect inversion of the real meaning of independence.

On to Frum’s second example:

I propose that all revenues from gasoline taxes, aviation fees, and other similar sources be placed in a fund directed by an independent infrastructure bank. The bank would be permitted to issue bonds up to a certain level, too. Instead of Congress writing a highway bill every five years, the bank would develop a list of priorities — no politics allowed. I’d suggest we have seven directors of the bank. Three would be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Two would be nominated by a conference of the Republican state governors, two more by a conference of the Democratic state governors. The directors would serve fixed and overlapping terms.

I swear that this is what he is actually proposing – it is not a reactionary parody of something a progressive would propose.

We have 7 members of the Board. Three are appointed by politicians of one sort. Two are appointed by politicians of another sort and the remaining two are appointed by politicians of yet another sort. When you shake that up, what do you get? Politics cubed? Nope, you get the absence of politics, according to Frum.

Maybe if the independent infrastructure bank had existed before Robert Byrd died, he would have retired from the Senate after being appointed to the Board.

Black cities vs. white cities

January 25, 2011

I’ve lived in two black cities and two white cities. The biggest difference between black cities and white cities is service.

In white cities, service jobs are performed by white kids or white adults (the adults are often the sort who are “just doing the job to pay the bills while they work on their art”). In black cities service jobs are performed by blacks.

When I first moved to DC, it took me a long time to get used to the fact that the mail might come at 10:00pm (or not come at all). That sometimes when someone takes my order for a coffee they might look pissed off at me for interrupting their day. That sometimes my order won’t come and that if I mention this fact to anyone, they’ll get really pissed off at me. That cashiers in the grocery store will stop working when their cell phone rings (most grocery stores in DC now block cell phone reception in the store to prevent this, but this means that you can’t make a call from the grocery store). That some weeks the trash collectors will skip a house or two or simply forget to come down my alley (and calling to ask for them to come back is a huge waste of time).

It’s well known that even the most politically-correct white people flee cities if there’s any possibility that their children might have to attend a school with a meaningful percentage of black kids, but if we leave the city, it will probably because we just want a normal trip to the grocery store.

I remember after I first moved to DC, I went to the DMV on a Wednesday morning. I got there a bit before it opened and waited in line to get in. After I made it past the initial line and got my number, I proceeded into a waiting room. The waiting room consisted of two groups of chairs split by an aisle. Everyone that was already in the waiting room was sitting on the right side. Naturally, I moved toward the left side . . . until I realized that someone had vomited on the floor in the middle of the chairs on the left side. I was at the DMV for approximately 2 hours. In that time no one cleaned up the vomit. It was apparently normal – no one cared.

At the DMV in Seattle, on the other hand, I was in and out in 5 minutes and I had a nice chat about the weather with the lady who gave me a drivers license.


January 25, 2011

Obsidian is criticizing me and I can’t figure out what he’s talking about. Could someone explain to me what he is criticizing me for so that I can respond?

In the interests of defending myself, I’ll be charitable and try to create a coherent argument against myself based on what Obsidian has written.

Here’s my guess as to what his argument is:

1) He thinks that HBDers believe that every characteristic of any given human being is 100% heritable.

2) I wrote a post about passing advice on to my progeny.

3) point 2) implies that I would be changing my progeny’s behavior, which contradicts point 1)

Therefore, I don’t really believe in HBD. QED

Is this his argument?

Assuming that it is, it easy to see why it’s retarded. Point 1) is an absurd caricature of the HBD position. HBDers (and biologists generally) believe that human actions and abilities are largely heritable. When "largely" is quantified, it’s usually put in the 60%-80% range. In other words, a given person’s abilities are 60%-80% determined by genetics. Personally, I think the 80% side of that range is probably correct, but there’s still a lot of room for a person to be affected at the margin by non-genetic factors.


January 24, 2011

I’m wondering if my readers have any questions for me. Specifically, I’m wondering what people would like to know about working for government agencies. If you have any ideas, comment in this post or email me: fosetiwp.