Randoms of the past week

February 29, 2012

Kipling and Moldbug

– Steve Sailer reviews the reviews of Charles Murray’s book.

– Wilhelm Durand doesn’t like "neoreactionary." Instead, he likes "autocratist." I’ve always like Moldbug’s suggestion of "royalist" – it’s quite effective at evoking an awkward silence. (Read the whole post for more on whether people believe in HBD). He also nicely sums up something I’ve said before:

If any given area of technology has advanced in the past 50 years, it’s because it’s become highly computerized, not because of breakthroughs in hardly any other area.

I’d go a bit further and say that declines in many other areas have been covered up by advances in computing power.

Tweets from Park Slope (HT: Rod Dreher)

– John Derbyshire on Dharun Ravi.

Clio and Vladimir on Monarchy (HT: Anomaly UK). Devin added some thoughts.

Smart Flight:

The point is that people out there are working their asses off, getting stressed out, having diseases and even dying because of the stress. And all for the only purpose of avoiding proles. Which means you need a house in a nice neighbourhood. And if you have kids, you will want to take them to a school without proles. And oh God that’s worth a fucking fortune. So the cycle of stress, and women in the workforce, and broken marriages, and just general shit goes on. All to avoid proles.

– Whites (like me) that live around a significant number of blacks from Hail:

The integrity, dynamism, and viability of our Multicultacracy itself is dependent upon, heavily dependent upon, enough of the native population not experiencing it.

Where the white man went wrong.

– The Confederacy was roundly defeated, and is therefore still a favorite target of ridicule for leftists, like this libertarian. Let’s go with this dude’s argument that the was was fought over slavery. What then, does it say about the war that it didn’t end slavery? And that Southerners correctly predicted that outcome? Nothing good for the North, I suspect.

– nydwrace on Christopher Lasch.

This pretty much settles it for me.

Progress

– It’s getting too hard to parody liberalism and academia (but I repeat myself). Here’s a professor supporting "after-birth" abortion. Apparently she doesn’t watch South Park.

Mangan on monogamy

– It still always sort of surprises me that when people see that government employees are rich and powerful, their first reaction is to get pissed. Why not just become a government employee?

Unamusement has some good posters about race. It’d be fun to start some about democracy. How about this picture?

– Bring back colonialism one and two.

– Chicks like dudes that beat them up, Grammy edition (HT: Whiskey). Also, one in four British women are dating three dudes at the same time (HT: Ferd).

– Tips on being a good reactionary.


Randoms

February 20, 2012

Neoreactionary

– Half Sigma thinks elites really believe that HBD is false. I disagree. As someone else once said somewhere (I can’t remember where), all of us who believe in HBD would be super rich if only the people who "don’t believe" in HBD actually acted like they don’t believe in it. The elites may not say that they believe in HBD, but they spend their money as if they believe in it. On the other hand, sometimes elites admit they believe in HBD. For example, here’s Bruce Springsteen wishing that the US was whiter.

– A brief against democracy

– Remember, we live in an open, tolerant society.

Interracial marriages and earnings

Rethinking Deepthroat

– Dear Dodd and Frank, Thank You.

Half Sigma on Murray. And Chuck.

– At Auster’s:

every time there is some savage violent crime, the police chiefs and police spokesmen are all over themselves wondering what the perpetrator’s "motive" was, making the discovery of the inner workings of some savage’s mind the most important aspect of the case, the sine qua non of understanding the nature of the crime, almost as though, without that metaphysical knowledge, it hasn’t really been established that there was a crime.

– The decline and fall of the American empire.

– Reading Scott Sumner is weird. For example, 2008 wasn’t that long ago. I remember earning a negative real yield on my savings, while the Fed was lending against all sorts of new kinds of "assets" and bailing out everyone in sight (see, e.g. AIG’s counterparties). I also remember mainstream economists (and conservatives) loving every minute of it. I guess he remembers it differently.

– Is there any problem that ending the drug war won’t solve?

– Wong Chow Mein on Jeremy Lin

– I’ll probably be quiet for the rest of the week, but that should keep you busy.


Randoms of the day

February 14, 2012

This is actually precisely the opposite of what Yale did to Britain post-war.

– Will the sex robots get here before the untreatable gonorrhea? Either way, it’s progress.

– You almost have to be racist about your doctor

– 21st Century America sure is vibrant.

cxlxmxrx on Murray

Frost on Valentine’s day:

The twenty-first century! The Age Of The Man-Child!

The callous, carefree cad with whom women are beguiled.

But they ask: What has become of men we could respect?

The men with better lines, than “Hello – are you wet? ”

The answer is, that man is dead. The Man-child is his heir.

Commitment and monogamy? Not while they have their hair.

Now ladies, you may think this world to be a bit macabre,

But happy Valentine’s anyways! Now how ’bout a blowjob?


Fun with taxes

February 14, 2012

Last year at tax time, I asked whether my wife and I should stay married. As I noted then, the tax code says ‘no’ – being married cost us lots of money in additional taxes.

This year’s question is whether or not my wife should keep working.

The numbers in this analysis are heavily rounded for simplicity and anonymity. Taxes are (by far) our largest expense, but next year (with two young children), childcare will be next.

We made a lot of money last year. We’re not quite in the top 1%, but we’re close, with income of roughly $325k. My wife made the larger share of that amount (57%).

For 2011, we’ll pay a lot of taxes (Federal and DC) – rough $115k. Our average tax rate is about 35%.

If my wife wasn’t working, I’d pay a total of about $25k in taxes, making my average tax rate about 18%. Put differently, my wife working raises our tax bill by about $90k.

Having two kids with a nanny or in daycare would cost us roughly $50k after taxes (a nanny is a bit more expensive and day care is a bit less). At an average tax rate of 35%, we have to earn something close to $80k (pre-tax) to pay for childcare.

Adding up the additional taxes (90k) and childcare costs (80k) you get $170k of income that goes away.

My wife would make more than that next year, but she has to work a lot to make that money. At a certain point, her hourly wage becomes ridiculous. Therefore, it looks like the answer to the question of whether or not she should work is ‘no’. Obviously, this is a subjective decision. We’d make more money (and save more for retirement) if she keeps working. The returns on her working are just very low, given the amount of time she has to spend working. It looks like, for us, the returns are not worth the time and energy. This is too bad for the government, the nanny that we won’t hire, and the guy who we’ve kept half-employed doing work on our house.


Randoms of the day

February 13, 2012

– Steve Sailer’s review of Charles Murray is finally up.

– Chinese chicks love me.

– Samuel L. Jackson understands democracy better than most.

In an interview with Ebony magazine, Jackson explained, "I voted for Barack because he was black. ‘Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them … That’s American politics, pure and simple. [Obama's] message didn’t mean [bleep] to me."


Kling’s questions on governmment

February 12, 2012

Arnold Kling posts some questions on government. He doesn’t expect answers, but I’m going to provide them (for my own entertainment).

1. Is government subject to diminishing returns to scope? In the business world, it is usually considered a better strategy to stick to one purpose rather than to constantly get into new lines of business. The thinking is that if you try to combine too many businesses, you end up being ineffective. Does this consideration apply to government? If not, why not?

The problem here is that in business, there’s a clear and measurable indication of success and failure: profit.

In government, there’s just as clear an indication of success and failure: power. In government, the more power you have, the more successful you are, by definition. The more lines of business you have, the better. The success of increasing power is not to be confused with efficiency – they are unrelated. Who cares about efficiency?

Thus, diminishing returns to scope don’t kick in. Success in government is identical to scope. The bigger your scope the more successful you are.

2. Are government monopolies efficient? In theory, in the business world monopoly is efficient, because it eliminates duplicate overhead. (Monopoly is inefficient in theory because the monopolist charges a price that is too high, but we might suppose that government will not do that.) In practice, however, monopoly is inefficient because without the pressure of competition, business practices tend to stagnate. Is government immune from this stagnation problem, and if so, how?

PC LOAD LETTER

3. Most new businesses disappear within a few years. Most government programs persist. Does this persistence indicate that government is more effective than the private sector at choosing carefully which initiatives to undertake, less effective at choosing which initiatives to terminate, or both?

See 1. All that matters is scope of control. The fact that you control an obsolete area is immaterial – you are by definition effective, since you control an area. Your challenge is to milk it for all it’s worth.

4. Because of the profit and loss system, businesses are accountable to some extent for keeping their promises. (There are weaknesses in accountability mechanisms, to be sure. Most notably, an executive with a short-term focus can gain personally while making decisions with adverse long-term consequences.) In government, the main accountability mechanism is an election. But most government workers are not subject to elections, and elections are very crude expressions of voter preferences. Overall, is the accountability mechanism in government nearly as effective as that in business?

No, in fact, in many cases, there is an anti-accountability mechanism. If you fail in some ways, your budget may increase.

In another post, Kling suggested that he liked President Obama’s re-org proposal. A government re-org is not a re-org in the private sense of the word. Instead of increasing efficiency, a government re-org will be co-opted to increase the power of certain people in government. It thus becomes a power struggle. In a government re-org, no one actual government employee would lose his job (at least not for long). Moving the deck chairs on the Titanic is not a re-org. Proposals like this will be co-opted by the bureaucracy and used to increase their power. It’s almost better not to talk about the problem.


Happiness studies and children

February 12, 2012

Chesterton: "A child is a creative contribution to creation. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved."

Happiness studies always find that children make people report lower levels of happiness (it’s important to distinguish making people report lower levels of happiness from people actually being less happy).

Things that make people self-report as happy seem to be very shallow. Additionally, people don’t seem very good at determining what makes them happy. The things that have made me happiest have always required some serious effort (i.e. before achieving success, I would have said I was unhappy, but afterwards . . . bliss).

I wonder if the best way to find happiness would be to do the opposite of what broad-based happiness studies suggest.