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Linky Friday #137: Nixon’s The One

Housing:

nixon1[Ho1] If Matt Y is right, then this is another reason why zoning is bad. {via Murali}

[Ho2] Some teenagers designed a movable village of tiny houses for the homeless.

[Ho3] Jeff Fong argues that California spending more on schools means fewer permits for housing.

[Ho4] At least arguably, the best and most cost-effective way of dealing with the homeless is to give them housing. Too bad you could never get Republicans on board with the idea.

[Ho5] On the other hand, half of state housing in New Zealand tested positive for meth.

Crime:

nixon2[C1] Spencer Stone, one of the heroes of the French Terror attempt, was stabbed in an altercation in Sacramento. Sketches of the culprits have been released.

[C2] Yikes. A school district in Florida is paying out a six-figure settlement due to some hypnotism gone very wrong.

[C3] While using racial slurs is wrong in most contexts, I kind of think this might be an exception.

[C4] An obstetrician and abortion doctor – previously sanctioned for performing home abortions – was found with a bunch of fetuses in his car.

[C5] Federal prosecutors are going after a Fox contributor for falsely claiming having worked for the CIA.

Politics:

nixon5[Po1] Hillary Clinton is apparently getting taller. I was actually under the impression that Rubio was shorter than 5’10″… roughly Paul’s height, actually. Am I wrong or has he grown taller, too?

[Po2] Sometimes Jeb is cool in spite of himself. But seriously, don’t mess with the SEC.

[Po3] Babies for Bernie!

[Po4] Harry Enten is giving Ted Cruz another look. Cruz wouldn’t have much of a chance in most elections, but this is an unusual one. I think there’s a non-trivial chance that the nomination is going to come down to two Cuban-American candidates. Tom Coburn probably isn’t happy about this prospect.

[Po5] For several Republican candidates, we’re approaching game time.

[Po6] It looks like Justin Trudeau is about to be prime minister. Richard Nixon called it when Justin was in diapers.

[Po7] From Greginak: An essay by Will Wilkinson regarding what can be learned from looking at social democratic countries like Denmark. It doesn’t provide easy answers to ideologues of any sort. Neither ideological left or right have all the comfortable answers to a free and prosperous and high government place like Denmark.

Progress:

nixon3[Pr1] Scientists have totally found an alien satellite! Well, probably not.

[Pr2] Self-driving cars are coming to Canada!

[Pr3] Jason Kuznicki speaks of the Two Deepities from Martin Heidegger {via Jaybird}

[Pr4] From Aaron David: The healing power of Atomics!

History:

nixon4[Hi1] Argo of the Sea: The history of “The CIA’s Most Famous Ship“, which came with a cover story that alarmed environmentalists.

[Hi2] I didn’t know anything about King Edward VIII other than the whole “Eddie the Quitter” thing. I definitely didn’t know about the Nazi thing.

[Hi3] Cooling may have been responsible for the end of Viking Greenland, but warming may not have been responsible for mammoth extinction.

[Hi4] Nabokov in Utah.

[Hi5] A nice little recap of the 1960 election.

United States:

nixon6[US1] Now that they no longer issue them, Maryland may take back its confederate license plates.

[US2] A surprisingly touching essay by The Voice of Richard Nixon. (or, more specifically, @dick_nixon).

[US3] I’m kind of hoping that Kimmie has some insider info on this story.

[US4] Redlining: Thank goodness this doesn’t happen anymore. Well, not out loud, anyway. (Also: this)

[US5] They say that buying is better than renting. Unless you’re black, anyway.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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213 thoughts on “Linky Friday #137: Nixon’s The One

  1. H04- The last thing people working with the homeless lack is ideas and a desire to give them money and housing. Finding the money is the hard part. When i worked for Large Catholic Homeless Charity we were constantly begging for bucks from people or the gov. The great advantage of the Feds is they give a set grant for a few years so you can build a program with knowledge it has chance to grow due to the stable funding. Donations are great but aren’t always stable.

    Finding or making appropriate housing is challenge. Aside from finding the money you have to find building that will take mentally ill or homeless people; that isn’t’ always easy. Of the chronically mentally need significant services to become stable.

    If the gov would shake loose a few billion homeless advocates would be more than happy to build programs and building and services.

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  2. C3 is a fascinating case. I can’t say that I have a cut-and-dried opinion on it. I wonder if the murder victim Carter Bascon Northington, was black. It appears that Elmore was not, but frankly, I’m not sure.

    However, I think that if other police associations are saying it’s out of line, it probably is out of line and unnecessary. They don’t like to condemn fellow officers. They probably know more about Duck Adams than we do, too.

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    • If people are talking about race and you still have to ask, the victim was white.

      Though in this case, you don’t need that heuristic. Apparently he was a minor local celebrity, and Google returns many images.

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  3. Ho1: I’d believe this. More housing stock, equals lower rent or mortgages, equals more discretionary income or savings.

    In related news, Jordan Weissman showed that millennials are the least likely to own homes and developers don’t see a need to build starter homes

    Ho5: IIRC the drug testing of most welfare recipients reveals a lack of drug use in the U.S.

    C5: It never quite occurs to me how people think they can get away with this kind of stuff. On the other hand, people get away with these kinds of frauds for years.

    Po7: Vox had an interesting article that said the Danes get a lot in terms of social services and goods but Americans get more in terms of consumption of material goods I(restaurants and other goods are cheaper). Interestingly, Danes also go for more cost-effectiveness in terms of employment by having one-man or driverless trains.

    Hi2: There were a lot of Hitler supporters in the 1930s who would come to regret it by September 1, 1939.

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    • Hi2: There were a lot of Hitler supporters in the 1930s who would come to regret it by September 1, 1939.

      Fascism cannot fail, it can only be failed!

      and developers don’t see a need to build starter homes

      I don’t think that’s true, actually. I think it may be that what you’re calling a “starter home” is either a) already too expensive to build to be affordable to lower income folks and so they build a little bit bigger to hit a wider demographic and make more money, or that b) various zoning regs and building codes are so tilted away from affordability that even folks who wanna build those units can’t get the plans thru the city. As one example we’ve talked about here, there seems to me lots of demand for micro-housing, and lots of interest from builders in developing those types of housing units. But “folks” won’t allow it to happen.

      Adding: as one example of why “starter homes” are priced outa the types of markets you (Saul) might like to see em, the price of labor in cities like SF is actually mind-bogglingly high, from what I understand. ANd of course that makes sense, given the overall cost of living in the city.

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        • Our local public radio station did a story on housing in Fort Collins CO and along the way interviewed various developers about why they weren’t offering new-construction, single-family, affordable housing units, and the short answer everyone gave was that between the price of materials and labor they were already at about 300K. Land is pricey, labor is pricey, and materials aint getting any cheaper. On top of that, of course, are things like easements and set-backs, parking, public spaces, minimum sq ft requirements, etc etc. So … yeah.

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          • In most markets, just the raw cost of land is beyond the reach of anyone wanting a “starter”home.
            The notion of a young nuclear family buying a home is what is growing outdated, markets/regulation notwithstanding.
            Not an endorsement just an observation.

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          • There’s no such thing as a new starter home anywhere along the Front Range. Hell, I bought a fixer-upper in Fort Collins five years ago to rent to my daughter and it’s gone up >50% not counting the fixing-up that’s been done. The prices for old houses in my suburb are going up like crazy because so many of them are in the old part of town that will be close to the light rail. The X in “the next million people will move to the Front Range in X years” keeps going down. My sister, living outside Chicago, says that she’d love to move to the Front Range but there’s no way they can afford housing.

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  4. Ho1: To bad there is probably very little that could be done about this. NIMBYs tend to be the type of people that are very good at working local politics and keeping things the way that suit them. The way zoning is handled in the United States gives them a lot of options for doing so. In Japan, zoning is handled on the national rather than local level. This gives Japan surprisingly affordable housing considering it’s population density.

    Ho4: Republicans in Utah have proven in favor of this, not Republicans in general. Utah’s Mormon background might make them a bit more open to communal solutions than other Republicans.

    C2: I read about this story a few weeks ago. I have no idea what the person was attempting to do by hypnotizing students or why he thought he could get away with it.

    C4: People need to learn to clean up after their done with work.

    Pr1: I was waiting for the spoilsports to appear.

    Hi2: British politicians considered King George VI’s stutter a positive because it decreased his chance of saying stupid stuff unlike his older brother. Edward VII’s marriage provided a very convenient excuse for British politicians who did not exactly trust him.

    US3: It was a mistake. Uber originally wanted to boil rather than poach the scientists. They will try to cook them better next time.

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  5. Pr3: I said this over there, but those aren’t deepities, and I’m disappointed that someone as smart as Jason would read something so lazily. Those are sentences from the third and fourth paragraphs of a lecture. They (and the rest of the sentences in those paragraphs) are basically laying out the direction the lecture will take, and mean very little without the rest of the lecture, which lays out the meaning of everything in those two sentences, and more.

    Worse, just a few sentences before the first quote, he writes:

    We would be advised, therefore, above all to pay heed to the way, and not to fix our attention on isolated sentences and topics.

    .

    Not only has he taken the sentences out of context, even after their author asks that we not do so, he’s taken sentences describing what the lecture is to discuss, and acted as though they are the whole of the discussion. It’s cheap and lazy.

    I say this as someone who has been influenced by that lecture, even though it’s one of the most explicit statements of his conservatism, or his suspicion of modernism, but also as someone who knows this sort of lack of effort is beneath Jason.

    /rant

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  6. Ho1: This is not the first time I’ve seen that argument made either – someone used it as a reply to Piketty. If its true its good news in terms of solving it. The problem with taxing capital is that its very mobile – if one country tries to tax it, it just flees to a lower-taxing jurisdiction. Furthermore even if you can nail capital down, taxing it is distortionary – people will move their money from capital to consumption if taxes rise too much. This is the reason capital gains are typically taxed at a lower rate than labour income.

    But land is highly immobile – it can’t flee jurisdictions nor can it be converted into other goods which makes it a prime candidate for taxation.

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  7. Ho1:
    There was a recent paper on this topic by Matt Rognlie, a grad student, that made a pretty big splash. Aside from debunking the “profits are eating up all the productivity gains” narrative, the quirk in the story is that the paper is basically an elaboration on a comment he wrote at Marginal Revolution.

    It’s disappointing that so many people who ought to have known better just ran with the narrative without even bothering to check the data, which are readily available on the BEA’s NIPA site.

    Anyway, one thing that Yglesias doesn’t make clear is what “rental income” is. It’s not what you think. If you rent your home or office from a corporation, their profits on that are classified as corporate profits, not rental income. If you rent from an individual or non-corporate business, that is classified as rental income.

    Most “rental income,” though, is something called “imputed income,” which involves no payments at all. For national income / GDP accounting purposes, the BEA pretends that the owners of owner-occupied housing rent the housing to themselves at market rates, and treat that as income (minus depreciation, I assume).

    This is a clarification, not a rebuttal. Yglesias’s point is pretty much spot on.

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  8. Saul Degraw: IIRC the drug testing of most welfare recipients reveals a lack of drug use in the U.S.

    There was a piece over at SSC about how those tests were a total sham. The courts wouldn’t let them do urine testing, so the test was literally “Do you use drugs? Check yes or no.”

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      • This is actually a very profound point, and the general principle here is worth elaborating on: Basic knowledge of ballpark statistics on a variety of topics and the ability to do simple mental arithmetic on them will enable you to detect vast quantities of BS that would otherwise go over your head.

        In the spirit of Linky Friday, here’s a somewhat related post by Bryan Caplan.

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        • I think this is one of the most important skills that most people lack. My classic example is the Fox and Friends report that the LAPD was buying 10,000 jetpacks for $100,000 each. Skipping over the idea that a police force is buying jetpacks is ridiculous, nobody ran the numbers and asked if it was likely that even a large city police force was just going to cut a $1B check for random equipment? Or that the number 10,000 sounds pretty close to the size of a very large police force and would work out to about a jetpack per officer?

          I’m very grateful to the people who tried to instill that in me. Just being able to say, “That sounds weird. What would it mean if it was actually true?” has saved me from nonsensical conclusions more times than I can count.

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    • The Courts wouldn’t let them use urine testing because that would be a violation of the 4th Amendment without a warrant and probable cause. Needing public assistance is not probable cause.

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      • Thanks, . This gives me a chance to illustrate my point about how basic statistical trivia can clue you in to BS. A bit under 10% of American adults and adolescents have used illegal drugs in the past 30 days. Are welfare recipients really one or more orders of magnitude less likely to do so? That seems unlikely. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

        n Arizona, 26 out of 87,000? Really? That can’t be right. Indeed, it isn’t. From the USA Today story linked as the source:

        The biggest reason is likely the way Arizona determines “reasonable cause.” Essentially, the state asks new recipients whether they’ve used drugs in the past 30 days, and only those who answer yes are tested. With no penalty for lying, a couple of dozen owned up. Of those, several tested negative; the rest failed to take the test.

        In Florida (quoting Lebron v Florida):

        During that period, 4,046 TANF applicants submitted to drug testing. Only 108 — 2.67% — tested positive for drug use: 44 for cannabinoids (marijuana); 24 for benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax); 10 for cocaine; 9 each for barbiturates and opiates; 10 for methadone; 3 for propoxyphene; 5 for amphetamines or methamphetamines; and 2 for PCP. Throughout that period, 2,306 additional applicants did not complete applications and submit drug-test results to DCF, even though they were otherwise eligible for TANF Temporary Cash Assistance

        Emphasis mine. Note that applicants were informed ahead of time that they would have to take the test, and would have to eat the cost of the test if they failed. Under those circumstances, it’s surprising that anyone failed the test. I’m certainly not suggesting that all 2,306 applicants who declined to complete the application did so because they knew they’d fail, but surely some of them did, and even a fraction would dwarf the number who actually tested positive.

        In Tennessee, 0.23-0.73%? You don’t really believe that, do you? Let’s see:

        Under the rules, all applicants for Families First, which provides a small monthly stipend for qualifying families with children, must answer a three-question written drug screening test.

        Applicants who answer “yes” to any of the questions — if they have used illegal drugs, lost or been denied a job because of drug use or had any scheduled court appearances related to drug use in the prior three months — are asked to take a drug test.

        In Utah, 12 out of 466? Well, that’s a little more plausible, but it still seems a bit low. And were there really only 466 welfare applicants in Utah? That doesn’t sound right. Following the links…yup:

        The data from August 2012 through July 2013 indicates the state spent almost $6,000 to give 4,730 applicants a written test. After 466 showed a likelihood of drug use, they were given drug tests at a total cost of more than $25,000, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, which administers welfare benefits and the tests.

        TLDR: None of these were straight-up random unannounced urine testing, as should be obvious from the implausibly low fail rates.

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        • Of course unannounced random checks make having a job or child care really difficult. Also unless you do frequent drugs tests it is hard to catch users of many drugs. Most drugs have short half lives in the blood. So if you test once a month, lets say, people can often use and minimize the risk of being caught. For people needing piss tests due to DUI’s or drug offenses they often have tests once or more per week just to try to stay on top of them. Lots of users can clean up for one test so its a real practical question of how often to you test people if you want to have it have more than a token chance of catching someone.

          Do you want to drag poor people one or more times a week with the hit that will take on keeping work or getting their kids cared for? What evidence is there that is a useful expense? Even with the screening you noted where is the proof that this will pay off in terms of saving more then it costs?

          BTW the use of simple screening tools is pretty common in various social service venues to narrow down who needs what.

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          • All of that reinforces the point I was actually making, which is that the results of these testing schemes are not actually representative of the actual rate of drug use among welfare recipients, or Americans in general. Studies where real money is not on the line show much higher rates, and even those probably underestimate the true rate (both for welfare recipients and the US population in general), since they rely on self-reporting.

            Nothing short of random testing with no warning or opt-out is going to give accurate results, and I’m pretty sure that’s never been done and never will be. Random drug testing for work doesn’t count, because people are warned that they’ll be subject to random testing, and can change their behavior accordingly, or decline to take the job, both of which bias the results.

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  9. re: US3. Haven’t asked, but know someone who works for UBER and Google. Not terribly surprised that CMU had hired folks for less than market, particularly when there wasn’t much of a market three years ago. Makes it easy for UBER to scoop up people.

    As to actual inside info? Let’s take Ashley Madison, which is/was a real company wrapped in a scam. Seems like a lot of people caught onto the scam and missed the real company inside. After all, a treehouse in Manhattan isn’t exactly cheap. A company that wasn’t actually making dates wouldn’t have something like that in stock. The real business screens both men and women, mostly weeding out losers and people who don’t actually want an affair (read: want a new husband, or some such). And it ranges from 60% women to 20% women, in a more or less seasonal fashion, with women being less available around the holidays.

    As to the rest of the company? A designed scam gets people coming and going. Who do you think gave the Canadian PIs the database of everyone from the scam-site? Kickbacks, kickbacks, kickbacks.

    And the best part? Suckers stay suckers for life, so they’ll just reconstitute the company afterwards, use the mailing list, and voila! instant success!

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  10. Po7: The thing that makes high-trust societies work is a lot of stuff that is really uncomfortable to discuss. Homogeneity in a handful of very, very important areas is in tension with the (yes, libertarian) ideal that people should be able to let their freak flags fly and it ain’t no thing.

    The second that a critical mass of the people playing the prisoner’s dilemma start thinking “hey, those guys I’m playing with are defecting!”, you’ve got a real problem. Maybe some of that problem can be addressed, at the very beginning, with public shaming and whatnot… but if that critical mass is merely silenced rather than convinced otherwise, you’re going to see a race to the bottom.

    The two practical responses seem to me to be to either:
    A) Ensure that people don’t have reason to think that the others are defecting (public displays of solidarity and integration into the culture, for example)
    B) Ensure that people don’t have reason to care that the others are defecting (whether the other person defects or not has no real cost to the members of the groups who don’t defect)

    A believes in monoculture in some very specific areas that would make us uncomfortable to talk about
    B believes in a much, much less robust welfare state (not necessarily a non-existent one, but nowhere near the one that A can support)

    What do you want more of?

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  11. H01
    This is a Vox article that reminds me why I hate Vox articles. The article proposes that zoning laws prevent density, therefore preventing people from buying houses, therefore causing the remaining houses to increase in value and create inequality.
    Damn those NIMBYS!

    There are many good arguments against functional zoning. This isn’t one. In most communities, density is held in check by a whole lotta factors, zoning laws being only one of the weakest.

    The argument even notes one, access and proximity to desirable things like employment. Removing zoning laws wouldn’t cause a low density parcel to suddenly have good proximity. It wouldn’t suddenly increase the roadways, infrastructure or schools. It wouldn’t suddenly make a neighborhood hip and desirable.

    Functional zoning is a relatively new creation, the outgrowth of the 19th century Industrial Age and early Modernism, and owes its logic to the automobile and mass production. It assumed that just as monofunctionalism worked well in a factory, a city could be designed similarly with manufacturing here, retail shopping there, and housing over there.
    Except that was fundamentally ahistorical, and conflicts with the way communities have traditionally formed and evolved. Functional zoning doesn’t cope with the complex interconnectedness of the human relationships that drive cities.

    On the other hand, it met the desires of the new middle class of the 20th century to be able to earn money in the dense city and live in the country.

    Those forces aren’t as strong as they were in 1920, and the benefits of mixed functions within a single block or building are more appreciated now.

    But just as functional zoning oversimplified the notions of how cities grow, so does the argument of greater density= more good.

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    • Err.. but wouldn’t removing zoning restrictions make those parcels that did meet the other criteria you mentioned able to be developed to higher density? Roads, in particular, are rather responsive in nature are they not? First you build up the density then the roads kind of follow along?

      I mean if I’m reading you right you don’t like functional zoning so wouldn’t you be down with doing away with it or simplifying it? More density=more good is certainly simplified but it seems more right than not, especially if the Vox’s premise, that the cap on housing development in highly desirable areas is artificial and is causing housing prices to increase, is correct which is certainly seems to be.

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      • I completely support ending functional zoning.
        But the key word here is “functional” zoning.

        For most people, zoning= Functional Zoning= The Only Possible Public Controls Over Development.

        But there are others, some better, some worse. Allowing increased density will definitely help some areas to solve housing shortages.

        But as with other things, there are negotiated tradeoffs. E.g. how will the city absorb and accommodate the new demands for infrastructure and schools for this new development- how does this advance or impact the surrounding neighborhood, the city, the region?

        IOW, the debate usually falls into trench warfare of “Rigid Zone rules” vs. “Pure Market Forces” neither of which do any good.

        This is the focus of the New Urbanism ( a really poor name, but the only one we got) which sees buildings the way we see individuals, as units of a larger body, plugged in and engaged in a dialogue.

        For most projects of any sufficient size and political juice, the zoning code is almost never followed anyway. Almost all large projects end up being specifically planned to a set of negotiated conditions, half of which are technical (provide standard driveway widths and fire truck turnarounds) and half are purely political (contribute to a low income housing fund).

        In my experience, these actually work better since they allow the stakeholders to provide input and for the project to respond flexibly.

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        • I see. The problem is that the two groups; individual home owners and everybody else both have legitimate but diametrically opposite desires; the home owners want the neighborhood to stay the same way it was when they decided they wished to own within it or at minimum get better; everybody else wants the neighborhood to increase in density and services to allow more people to live in that desirable location. There’s not really a way to easily reconcile that; if the home owners wanted to live in a denser neighborhood they’d buy in one from the start.

          There are tradeoffs but they’re not very hard. Denser housing means a denser tax base which gives the city much greater resources to handle the increased infrastructure and road needs. In general the city does better with denser housing and more people; one of the only issues where you hear non nativists kvetching about too many people are when it’s about housing. Businesses don’t complain about too many customers, governments and public organizations don’t complain about too many taxpayers. Regionally of course urbanism is positive; the ecological impact of urban living is significantly less than rural or suburban living.

          This also isn’t a simple matter of big dense developments vs valiant single home owners. The big dense developments, like you note, are the ones with the clout and connections to get built despite NIMBY screeching. The twisted distortions of NIMBYism are far more pernicious because the barriers they raise mean that only the highest margin housing (aka luxury housing) will have developers interested enough to jump through the hoops to build them which reduces (but doesn’t eliminate) the benefit to the housing market. The smaller fries, the smaller or lower margin developments, the person considering subdividing into a duplex, the apartment owner considering adding a small additional unit, the addiction assistance center, the half-way houses, those are the things that NIMBY’s block or shunt off into the periphery. Individually they’re not a lot but in aggregate they’d probably dwarf the large housing developments contributions.

          I am, for the record, not a believer in pure market forces with regards to zoning as it’s silliness (you can’t just slap a city together ad hoc) though the defenses raised of highly localized zoning strike me as similarly silly. The way zoning is set up in many urban areas now, though, is byzantine madness and it cannot be repeated enough that the wealthy have the money and inclination to blow through them so it’s the poor and those that service the poor who ultimately are getting mauled by them.

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          • I don’t know if I fully believe in this but I think people are inherently irrational. I think there can be lots of local governments and politicians that see themselves as serving Single-Family Homes on individual lots and they can go against density. The New Yorker ran an article on the long-time executive of Oakland County in Michigan and he quite explicitly saw himself that way. You also see this with resistance to public transport going to many areas like MARTA in Atlanta-Metro.

            Businesses want more customers but not to the extent that it will cause service to go down and have people get annoyed especially long-term loyal customers. There are also plenty of businesses that build their reputations on small but loyal customer bases. Plenty of doctors and dentists and other medical professionals say “we are not accepting new clients now.” One of the things that always confused me about neo-liberalism is that it seems to assume that everyone is always going to agree that more is better for everything. If this was true, there would be no such thing as a luxury good market and everyone would try to be IKEA or Hershey’s or McDonalds.

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            • Why not see them as inherently logical? “When I compare the opinions of those who are my constituents to the opinions of those who are not my constituents (but would like to be), whose opinions do I care about more?”

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              • It depends on how we are defining logical. It is logical in the sense that this is what my voters want and I’m going to get it for them. It is illogical because it leads to more than a few substandard outcomes for everybody including your voters. They might like their single family homes and that those people don’t have easy access to their suburbs but they probably don’t like their long commutes and all the traffic. On a larger scale, it does take a heavier environmental tool on the earth than dense urban settlement and transit use.

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                • Just add in a proviso and the circle is squared: shorten the time horizon to what people will care about and blame/credit me for come next election and the politicians position becomes crystal clear.

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                • On a larger scale, it does take a heavier environmental tool on the earth than dense urban settlement and transit use.

                  I wonder regularly how much heavier it actually is. Once you get to the point where you’re going to have 315M people widely distributed in the US, with heavy beef consumption, and practice industrial grain farming as a diplomatic tool, you’re pretty much committed to a heavy impact on the environment. The 2007 NRI estimates for the 48 contiguous states were 21% forest land, 21% range land, 18% cropland, and 6% developed land (the rest in other categories where use is more restricted).

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            • If you read the history on the subject, single-family homes on lots with a yard and garden have been the preferred form of housing in the United States since the 19th century and failing that a townhouse. According to Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, there was a lot of angst when Manhattan was growing very dense because proper Anglo-Saxon Protestants live in private homes and not on top of each other. American cities consisted of much for single family home stock even before cars existed because the size of the United States allowed for it. The historian Kevin Starr noted that Western cities, where most of the ideas about suburbia came from, were purposefully designed to be different from what most people would consider an urban area in his multivolume history of San Francisco.

              Cars, prosperity and certain policies simply just extended already existing preference and priorities and put it on steroids.

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            • They are only illogical if one assumes that the stated intent is the same as the actual intent. If the intent is not to help others, but to aliviate some sense of guilt, then what seems illogical is actually logical. Likewise, if the intent is not to create more livable spaces, but to ensure that, once one has bought in that one gets to keep that, again, what seems to be one thing is really another.

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            • I’m not sure what you’re contesting Saul. In questions of real estate and urban development everyone is being pretty rational about their self interests. The NIMBY’s especially cloak their position in a lot of self delusion and fig leafing to cover up what is fundamentally an FUIGM position and may well even believe it themselves but they’re still being rational.

              I can say with confidence businesses would rather have too many customers than too few. With too many they can either raise prices, expand to meet demand or simply let competitors share in the bonanza. Those are problems any business wants to have.
              Neoliberalism doesn’t say “everyone wants more” it says “by seeking to provide more we make accommodate those who want more and those who don’t want more will do fine sorting it out for themselves.”

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              • Considering the rise of MSRP, I wonder how much retailers actually can raise and change prices.

                Clothing seems to be the most interesting place for this. As far as I know, places like J. Crew generally charge the same amount for a shirt or pair of pants no matter where a store is located.

                You can also see this with independent boutiques that sell clothing made by others. I like shirts from Company X. You can buy these shirts at independent boutiques in SF, NYC, Charleston, Chicago, Portland, Madison, and on-line. Yet they always tend to be the same price or within a margin of error. I would think that someone would sell something for cheaper in Madison than they would in SF considering the lower cost of living and generally lower wages in the area. Of course with the Internet, people in SF would be able to go to the Madison store and have it shipped to SF.

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          • I agree with you that in the battle between NIMBYs and developers, its the marginal and powerless whose interests are discarded.

            I am actually indifferent to NIMBYism, for the same reason I am indifferent to developer’s interests. They are both asserting their own narrow self interest (i.e., “I want to maximize the value of my investment”), which in itself is legitimate. But they are not the entirety!

            Other times, though, the battles are about more inchoate and difficult to articulate terms- such as, what is the proper vision for future growth of our community? Should it remain a quiet exclusive enclave of McMansions, or become a active neighborhood of apartments and shops?

            The battles are framed as they are because most zoning codes and land use regulations can only be contested on preset terms. Mostly, if you want to offer input on growth and development, you are allowed to do so only within the terms offered- such as traffic, land use density, environmental protection, etc. So this leads to a lot of Lee Atwater-esque code-talking, e.g., “We don’t want subsidized housing here if-you-know-what-I-mean-and-I-think-you-do

            While I think there is considerable room for improvement, the current structure usually consists of immediate stakeholders such as the developer and neighbors, as well as secondary stakeholders such as local planning bodies, infrastructure groups, then tertiary stakeholders consisting of regional and statewide regulations protecting minority interests such as lower income citizens and the natural environment. Not a perfect arrangement by any shot, but the basic structure is about right.

            If it seems like there is a complex web of regulations and restrictions on development, that’s because the number and degree of people who have a legitimate stake in it are so many and varied.

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            • Fair enough LWA, but I’d say that position leaves one very little basis to be displeased about the current cost and availability of housing in those market areas then.

              And of course, when any neighborhood is asked “do you want to stay as you are or get slightly denser” the answer is almost always going to be “stay the way it is thanks” and I’m probably being generous sticking an almost in there. This applies just as much to a neighborhood of middle income single family dwellings as it does a neighborhood of Mcmansions, perhaps even more so since the middle income residents have much of their personal wealth tied up in that little single family bungalow of theirs.

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                  • Greater good= the rising tide that lifts all boats

                    Greater good= National Defense, the first leg of Reagan/Goldwater conservatism, Economic Prosperity, the second leg, Social Rectitude, the third leg.

                    If you don’t accept the concept of a greater good that can override individual interest, fine, just don’t call yourself a conservative.

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                    • I think that there is a greater good but I think it should be rarely invoked and only in the most urgent of circumstances such as gov’t intervention in the economy during WW2 and I’m usually suspicious when folks do so given it is so subjective It seems a favorite plea of liberals along with “for the children.”

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          • The problem is that the two groups; individual home owners and everybody else both have legitimate but diametrically opposite desires; the home owners want the neighborhood to stay the same way it was when they decided they wished to own within it or at minimum get better;

            Some of this problem is, for decades, housing has been the only ‘investment’ people have, and they get sorta protective of it. We built an economy where no one can save or advance in their life, but by God they can buy a house three decades ago and sell it when they get old for five times they paid for it, and that system will work forever. *entire housing market crashes, is quickly propped back up with a broom handle duct-taped to the side*. I said it will work FOREVER!

            Ah, giant structural problems in the economy: Is there nothing they can’t do?

            If we stopped treating houses as investments (Which they really aren’t…there’s no actual reason that real estate should much beat inflation.), we might have more luck with the insane NIMBYism going on with homeowners.

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            • Well sure David, I agree it probably would ease (but not eliminate) the problem*, but how?

              *NIMBY’s not only don’t want their property values to go down but even absent a decline or even with an increase they will reject increased traffic, pedestrians and lines at their local stores.

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        • But there are others, some better, some worse. Allowing increased density will definitely help some areas to solve housing shortages.

          Then why are you talking about functional zoning? I don’t see anything about functional zoning in the article. In fact, the word “zoning” doesn’t appear in the article at all, but only in Will’s blurb. The restrictions Yglesias calls out are restrictions on density, specifically restrictions zoning land for detached housing instead of apartments or townhouses.

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          • Zoning land for detached housing = Functional Zoning.

            Zoning codes assign functional uses for each zone- Residential, Commercial, Manufacturing, Agricultural, and so on, then assign degrees of density to each one.
            They layer multiple degrees of fine tuning on top of all that, but the underlying premise of most zoning codes is function, envisioning that any given parcel will be used for a single use.

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    • Not sure if this was mentioned yet, but there is more than a little logic & reason in the idea of industrial zoning.

      Not all modern manufacturing should be close to residential areas, even with very good pollution controls.

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      • Yeah, even the stuff that people think of as being “clean” can carry serious risks. Big IC fabs — and their high hundreds or low thousands of jobs — are located on the outskirts of metro areas for real reasons. Even Singapore, as crowded as that is, manages to put a pretty large buffer zone around their big fabs.

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              • The EPA estimates the value of a human life at around $9 million when doing cost-benefit analysis of regulations.

                When you drive a car, or even just ride the bus, you’re poisoning people. That doesn’t mean these activities should be banned—it means they should be taxed according to the negative externalities they produce.

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            • That addresses the issue of building factories near homes, but what about the issue of making sure homebuilders leave enough home-free room for factories?

              That is, if I go build a bunch of houses right in the middle of what would have otherwise been a good place to build factories, I’ve diminished the value of that land for future factory-builders, because now they have to pay a Pigovian tax to build the factories there. But I don’t have to a pay anything, because the factories aren’t there yet.

              I can see how Pigovian taxes would help to maintain existing zoning patterns, but that seems path-dependent. Or are you talking about a sort of soft zoning, where the government prescribes certain zones and taxes building outside the prescribed zone rather than banning it outright?

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              • You still have zoning, but instead of making it prescriptive it would function as Coasean rights-setting. If you build a factory in a residential zone, you pay a pigouvian tax. If you build one in an industrial zone then no tax applies (at least for localized externalities like noise, loss of view or traffic disruption). If you want to build a house in an industrial zone then fine, but you don’t get compensated for the inconveniences of living near industrial plant.

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    • FTA:

      he dismissed the idea that discrimination was the reason for the suit.

      “They’re just bitter they couldn’t get the price they wanted for their home,” Mr. Kessler said.

      IANAL, but isn’t that the point? I assume they are suing because they couldn’t get the price they wanted for their home, and the stated reason is policies that prevent them from freely selling to anyone who isn’t German.

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      • The covenant restricts the pool of potential buyers meaning that the sellers will most likely get less money. I find it interesting b/c while the use of racially restrictive convents been been quite widespread at one time I thought that by now most if not all of them had been tossed by the courts.

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      • IANAL, but would be willing to place a small wager that the homeowners will lose in court (assuming the landowners have enough money to defend the case). A private organization — the German American Settlement League — that owned land allowed its members to build/occupy a set number of houses there. Unlike a more contemporary HOA, where purchasing the property gets you automatic membership, this case works the other way. League membership is a precondition for purchase. The homeowners willingly joined the League so that they could buy the house (but not the land it sits on). Part of the reason that the prices for those houses are so low is that banks are unwilling to lend money in such a situation due to the difficulties in foreclosing and reselling (as was noted in the article).

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    • Meh…not really that good. College rock, as sort of noted, was not one specific sound or genre. It was all the music that couldn’t get played elsewhere. It was punk and hardcore and ska and edgy metal and new wave and synth and others. College rock faded because some groups were able to break through into the big time and big labels started to look to college radio for new music. Also MTV opened up new avenues for previously overlooked bands to get noticed. Once labels and big radio opened up to new sounds there was less of a need for the college radio to offer airplay to bands that couldn’t get played.

      College radio was the outlet for all types of music that was shut out of AOR radio. Once AOR dominance crumbled there was less of need for it.

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      • Yeah, I agree that article has some issues; if I have time later maybe I’ll get into them. It’s not totally wrong everywhere, and some of it is a matter of perspective.

        Suffice to say that when I got to the bottom and saw the author, I was like, oh, yeah. This guy. I wouldn’t totally discount the possibility of some trolling going on.

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      • My son has a music show on his college radio station. He largely plays songs from new, more or less unknown bands that have done concerts at or near the college. It doesn’t sound much like what that piece describes as “college rock”, though.

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        • “College Rock”, like “Northern Soul“, is a weird term, since it describes where the music is played, not where it was made nor any other quality inherent to the music or its production itself.

          Actually, Northern Soul is at least mostly all soul, so at least that’s half-descriptive. “Rock” is already a more elastic term than “soul”, and then the fact that it’s “rock that might be played on a college station” paradoxically expands its boundaries even further than would normally be expected. (Though similar to Northern Soul, College Rock places a premium on the obscurity/rarity of a recording or artist).

          So (back when I was there) Ministry and MC 900 Ft. Jesus and Renegade Soundwave and Fishbone/Fugazi and Bad Brains and R.E.M./Replacements and Cracker and Smiths/Stone Roses and Smog/Slint (and even some hip-hop like Public Enemy and De La Soul) were all “college rock”, despite those acts covering a fairly wide swath of stylistic ground (and of course, each ALSO belonging to other scenes which attempted to classify them according to musical/geographical traits).

          In addition to the reasons lists, the sheer overwhelming number of bands and microgenres now available at the click of a mouse (whether you live in the broadcast range of a college antenna or not), make “college rock” even less useful as a catchall descriptor than it ever was.

          So basically, it sounds like your son is still PLAYING “College Rock”, we just don’t call it that anymore. ;-)

          This is of course required:

          “Headed out to San Francisco / definitely not L.A.”

          https://youtu.be/t8hn5O7eBk4

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          • The other big factory in 80’s college radio was that was mostly the only place many huge european bands got airplay. It was also one of the best things about being a college dj; we got all the albums and singles without having to pay a fortune for imports. Lots of Euro bands had difficulty or couldn’t crack the us market despite having lots of success.

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  12. Ho4 – At some point, I’ve going to figure out why everyone who is doing the ‘Just give the homeless a fricking house’ solution that I’ve been pushing basically forever has decided to do it with tiny, standalone housing.

    That is, quite possibly, the most expensive per-foot, least efficient, least functional, way of housing a lot of people I have ever heard of. (They don’t even have restrooms!) It’s like we’ve literally forgotten that dormitories/motels can exist, that we can build building with shared walls and electricity and heating and air.

    Just take the plans for your average double-sided motel that you find at every highway off ramp, maybe shrink it a bit in size, make it out of more durable materials and less trim, build in a bed and a desk, and, tada. You’re done. 20 units of housing. Build a second floor and it’s 40.

    No, instead, let’s piece together one tiny house at a time. A house that probably costs *more* than each room in that building would have cost, and is smaller. And no bathroom, or heating/air, or well, anything.

    Is this because of zoning? Is it because no one wants to *commit* to the houses remaining there, so have to build goofy movable ones? Is this because it’s all being done by underfunded groups a single house at a time?

    What the hell is going on here?

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    • Who wants to build tiny houses for really poor people? Sure the gov could do it, but there are…ummm…some attitudes about gov spending money. Simple housing for many homeless people would be easy and basic and cost money. Helping the chronic homeless with substance abuse and mental health problems is much more labor intensive which people aren’t really fond of paying for either.

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    • Zoning is a big part of it, a tiny house is, as you observe, relatively acceptable to the NIMBY’s because it is cute and can be banished easily if it becomes problematic. Anywhere you try and build larger amounts of low income housing you can guarantee every established owner will fight you to the death to prevent it. Efficient? Absolutely, but no property owner wants to see a compact low income housing project go up next door. Hell they don’t even want to see a compact medium or even high income project go up next door.

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      • I think that if I were a property owner, I would definitely want to see compact high-income housing go up next door. When one comes, more are likely to follow, which means skyrocketing property values.

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        • Inexplicably, they built a luxury hirise by my parent’s house. Everyone freaked out for fear that it was one of many to come. Petitions were signed, the mayor and City Council voted out.

          There were no more to come. Now there is a mostly empty skyscraper standing by itself and almost nobody in it several years later.

          What does kind of suck is that an iconic harbor bar and night club was torn down for one of the many that never did come.

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        • Well we can say with good confidence that they’ll do better in a normal low income house or a duplex than they’d do in a little kennel which is functionally what the NIMBY’s support building to salve their consciences.

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        • ‘Housing projects’ do not fail. Racially isolated, extremely dense apartment-building-style housing projects in large cities fail.

          And when I say ‘extremely dense’, I mean it. Tens of thousands of people crammed in dozens of buildings.

          Which is why I proposed, basically, smaller, one-story ‘garden apartments’, which have a pretty good history as public housing. (Basically, you want to make sure there isn’t any common internal space where crime hides out of sight.) And you place these things actually spaced out.

          You put poor people in actual houses, it works fine. You put poor people in small apartment buildings, it works fine. You build a dozen 15 stories buildings right next to each other and cram them with poor people, it does not work.

          Secondly, the public housing projects that did fail, often failed due to complete and utter neglect by local governments, which then *lead to* other problems. The reason that the extremely dense ones failed and *other* forms of public housing works fine is that local communities *hate* the extremely dense ones and do everything in their power to kill them. (Which is why you build building that need almost no maintenance, and then actually maintain them.)

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          • The garden apartment housing projects in Washington DC and Alexandria VA (mostly built between the late 40s and the late 60s) are still crime and other social plague magnets and are in the process with being replaced with townhomes and apartments that intermix market rate and publicly supported units (all run by private development companies)

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            • All the housing projects I can find in DC (There don’t appear to be *any* in Virginia) are 199 or more units, which is way denser than I was talking about. And, just as relevantly, most don’t appear to be garden apartments. Here are the housing projects with problems:

              1) Potomac Gardens – A hellhole…of 352 non-garden apartments, which, hilariously making my point about ‘isolated’, are *fenced in*.

              2) Sursum Corda – it was a open air drug market’…of 199 non-garden apartments.

              3) Benning Terrace, aka, Simple City – this one is interesting. It’s non-garden apartments, sure, but they’re rather low density…and it’s sorta a success story. It *used* to be a huge violent crime nexus, but, uh, got fixed. Lack of density helped.

              Perhaps we are using a different definition of garden apartments. Perhaps I am using it wrong.

              I am talking about apartments with doors that open to the *outside*. Aka, a ‘motel’ designed building. It would be extremely odd to find this in a building over three stories.

              Garden apartments, from what I understand, are what you call buildings where it’s a two story building, but all the apartments open at the ground floor, and have internal stairs. (And thus everyone gets a lawn area.) But I’d actually be okay with the apartments being one floor, that’s not really required for what I’m talking about.

              I have yet to see a picture of any housing project, *anywhere*, that works like that.

              Meanwhile, the problems in *all* housing projects plagued with drugs and violence are *gangs take over parts of the common areas* like stairs and halls, which leaves me completely baffled as to *why they keep having those common areas*, or at least keep having ones that are not visible from the outside, which would completely and utterly stop that.

              If I’m living in something built like a motel, and there’s a guy standing outside his door selling drugs, a) he’s not really a huge concern to me, as I don’t have to walk down a hallway next to him, b) he’s out in the cold, and c) he’s visible to police!

              It’s like it’s goddamn rocket science or something.

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              • DavidTC: It’s like it’s goddamn rocket science or something.

                Rocket Science is much easier, mainly because (as Challenger demonstrated pointedly) it cares not for the politics or ideology of the participants.

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                  • Weather modeling is actually not hard. There are a few variables that make it tricky, but for the most part, we can do it.

                    That hard part is doing it well in a timeframe that gives us useful information, e.g. it isn’t the modeling, it’s the decisions & choices that are made to lean the model out such that it can return a prediction in a few hours instead of days.

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  13. C2 sounds like a witch hunt. I mean a literal witch hunt. Some bad stuff happened, so people needed someone to blame. They find someone who’s doing something they find weird or incomprehensible (hypnotherapy, in this case), decide that he must have magic powers, and then blame him.

    Or it could be that the lawyers are just using it as an excuse to sue the district, I guess.

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    • I agree it seems unlikely to me in the extreme that his hypnotizing them contributed significantly to the tragic outcomes, at least in any direct way (though it’s possible that choosing hypnotism over some more efficacious therapy, might be considered an indirect cause).

      It certainly is weird for three deaths in fairly quick succession to be linked to someone like this, though of course the causation (if any at all and not just a weird random coincidence) may run the other way – he may only have offered to hypnotize people who already seemed like they were struggling with some intractable problems.

      Which raises an interesting point about witch hunts in general – if “witches” (or gurus, or hypnotists, or spiritual healers, or acupuncturists, or whatever) tend to take on the “hardest” cases – the ones whom mainstream medicine has struggled to easily help – a significant number of these non-standard cases should be expected to go badly (they already were going badly, or the patient probably wouldn’t have ended up trying a treatment so unorthodox); that apparently-high failure rate is going to make the “witch” look bad, but that’s not necessarily totally their fault.

      If a depressed, suicidal person sees doctor after doctor and tries medication after medication, and finally ends up at a hypnotist’s door in desperation, and THEN kills themselves – that’s maybe not the hypnotist’s fault, even if he IS a total quack.

      But if that happens two or three times, people are going to be looking his way.

      And of course, there was that girl who accused of encouraging her suicidal boyfriend to do it; I suppose a hypnotist could theoretically be doing some subtle suggesting, to people who are already suicidal (Lord knows Hannibal did!).

      According to this, “Individuals with dissociative identity disorder have the highest hypnotizability of any clinical group, followed by those with posttraumatic stress disorder” – so, people who are already mentally in a bad way are more susceptible to hypno? Yikes. Seems like a recipe for possible disaster, which is why you don’t need amateur Principals doing it after they’ve been told not to.

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      • According to this, “Individuals with dissociative identity disorder have the highest hypnotizability of any clinical group, followed by those with posttraumatic stress disorder” – so, people who are already mentally in a bad way are more susceptible to hypno? Yikes. Seems like a recipe for possible disaster, which is why you don’t need amateur Principals doing it after they’ve been told not to.

        From what I understand of DID, hypnotism can be used in therapy of it. As in, like, an actual medical way. Not to ‘cure’ people, but to allow different personalities to surface and be spoke to. And when you actually think about how DID and other dissociative disorders works, it’s not odd that people with it are can be easily hypnotized…they’ve sorta already done it to themselves. (Not sure how helpful it is with PTSD.)

        That said, people should see an actual therapist who can hypnotize them, not some random principle who will do it. And it’s not the *hypnotism* that solves the problem…it’s talking to a therapist while *under* hypnotism. You can’t just put people under and then magically suggest their psychological problems don’t exist. Or, in this case, that they won’t feel pain, which, really, is an utterly stupid thing to tell people. (Pain exists for a reason! People without pain live extremely dangerous lives and it’s a serious medical condition!)

        That said, while this *might* be a witchhunt, it doesn’t mean the guy had nothing to do with their deaths. It’s easy and trite to say ‘People who are hypnotized won’t do anything they normally won’t do’,.

        But, uh, entering some sort of fugue state and then driving off the road, like Freeman did, is *exactly* the sort of thing hypnotism can make people do. People seem to be assuming he was ‘testing’ his lack of pain, but it seems just as likely to me that he hypnotized himself at the dentist and didn’t fully get out of it. I.e., the crash was an accident, but one attributable to the principle.

        Likewise, it appeared that McKinley was having some sort of extremely memory problems after sessions, which points to either the obvious hypnotism or some sort of organic problem in the brain. (Which would have probably been noticed previously at school, and wasn’t.) Memory problems can, yes, lead to suicide. That’s not to say there might not have been some underlying suicidal tendencies, but that’s exactly *why* you don’t screw around with people’s head and memories unless you’re an actual therapist.

        Palumbo, OTOH, appears to just be a normal teenage suicide. (EDIT: Of course, the school administrators, when they realized she was having trouble, should have *actually* presented alternatives goals and fallback positions, instead of trying to frickin hypnotize her into doing better on the SATs.)

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    • Oh for fishs sake. We raided an ISIS compound killed some of them and got a bunch of hostages out and you are complaining. You might get more traction if the ODS was turned up to 11 all the time.

      Admins have been fiddling with what is “combat” or not for years, nothing new there. “Advisors” are always in harms way.

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      • But Obama told us there wouldn’t be anymore combat. Surely he wouldn’t lie? If it doesn’t matter then why does Sec Def have to change his story. Stick with the first story instead of looking indecisive.

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        • I don’t know, I asked greg a direct legitimate question. Like I said, “Then why not call it what it is, “combat” and be done with it? Just be honest about what is going on.”

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          • And the answer is it is a sort of kabuki the gov has used for decades. We have advisors helping various militaries. In some cases they go on missions with them. This has happened since at least the 60’s. We don’t’ call it combat because in some cases the SO really should be staying away from action or their mission is to hang back offering guidance without pulling triggers themselves and finally because of the politics of admitting being in other countries. We don’t call it combat because of PR mostly aside from the other factors.

            There are plenty of reasonable criticisms of O’s foreign policy, this is pissy poo slinging. ISIS isn’t a major threat but if we nudge against them with bombing and aiding our allies, the Kurds, with SO then that is not a bad solution to a crappy question.

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    • Man, there’s just no making you happy notme. First you complain that Obama isn’t engaging the existentially-threatening ISIS threat with enough existential prejudice, now you’re bustin his chicklets for not using the right terms to describe what you wanted all along…

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