Morning Ed: United States {2016.02.11.Th}

I would prefer a greater disparity – and preferably, determined at the local level on the basis of local needs – but I’m glad that Oregon at least recognized that not everywhere needs the same minimum wage.

Henry Louis Gates Jr tells the inspiring story of Robert Smalls, a slave who sailed himself to freedom and landed in the US House of Representatives.

Phoenix, Arizona: New home of disgraced evangelist Mark Driscoll and home to victorious Satanists.

Allan Bouruis at HotAir has a really strong piece on immigration.

A new study looks at the gender gap between girls and boys (with the former outperforming the latter) and determines that schools are at fault. At least, partially. On the other hand, boys just do more poorly when poor generally.

South Dakota’s sobriety program seems like something other states definitely should consider, while North Dakota leads the way on state spending for tobacco prevention.

The rise of the Second Ku Klux Klan, mapped. Relatedly, Lyman Stone looked at the demographic history of slavery in the United States.

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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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54 thoughts on “Morning Ed: United States {2016.02.11.Th}

  1. My problem with rules based on locality cost of living differentials, is that they create a self-reinforcing cycle that locks in the cost differentials and, likely, further enhances them. They’re common enough in setting federal wages, but that’s part of the reason why the DC area has gotten as pricey as it has. Plus, inevitable regulatory arbitrage wherever the boundaries are drawn.

    If Jim Bakker can make a comeback selling survival rations, Driscoll should have an easier hill to climb. As long as you’ve stayed away from sexual abuse (and at that, of kids) you can have a second act even if you’re still a hypocrite or a jerk or both.

    When I saw that Hot Air piece when it when up, I was like “oh, snap”. Though there’s always been Hot Air posters who don’t alway tow the conservative party lion on everything (e.g. I think one of the managing editors is an atheist), and they are usually berated in the commentary for heterodox opinions (like Bouruis of course was)


    • On the minimum wage, I think it can do that, but I also think that’s less bad than the available alternatives. I just don’t see much upside in raising the minimum wage in Central Pennsylvania to bring accordance with DC. That DC might want to avoid a price spiral seems like an argument to proceed cautiously, but I also think that ought to be DC residents’ call to make.

      I think the regulatory arbitrage on the boundaries is particularly less likely to be an issue for the minimum wage because so many of those jobs are location-dependent. It’s enough that I would prefer it be done on a county level than a municipal one (city lines sometimes make gerrymandered congressional districts look clean by comparison), but I think there is some natural relief here in that the place that wants to pay their employees a couple dollars less sitting at the county line has to be able to convince potential employees not to go to the other side of the county line for an immediate raise.


      • You know, I withdraw my objection.

        Putting aside DC’s special political status (i.e. if the home rule charter and/or Congress would allow such a thing), as a separate political entity, DC should already have the prerogative of setting the minimum wage of whatever it wants. Ditto for Maryland & Virginia. So this sort of thing could already happen, if we had proper federalism,

        Plus, regional regulation is already in place for some things, like the gasoline mixture (the summer blend makes gas in Loudoun typically about 10 cents more a gallon than in Winchester)


  2. There were a lot more Klaverns in New York State than I thought there would be since New York State operated as the political headquarters for what can roughly be seen as the anti-Klan forces. It was an urban Catholic, Jewish, and wet state that a growing African-American population. Basically, New York stood for everything the Second KKK hated about 20th century America.


    • The question that I always ask when I see a map like this is “Where is it different than a standard population dot map?” In this case, by eye, more than would be expected based on population in the eastern parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas; more in the rural parts of the Rocky Mountains; less in the upper Great Plains. New York has a large diverse population, with room for nuts of all flavors.


      • As kinda a boots on the ground observation, I typically see more in east Texas and east Oklahoma than in the western parts. I would guess my experience in general is that there isn’t much driving that faction until population densities are high enough to sustain factions.


    • There was overlap between Republican progressives and the Second KKK. This is ideological, Progressives tended to be anti-immigration (but not anti-African American), and instrumentalist — the political forces most opposed to government by technocrats and businessmen were seen as the Democratic party machines operated out of saloons, catering to recent immigrants who were rewarded with patronage jobs for their support. Progressives wanted to close the saloons, establish civil service, and limit non-Protestant immigration.

      I’m more surprised by the number dots in the South.


  3. The Oregon rule makes sense. Though I wonder if some places would be harder to divide than others. How would you tier a minimum wage in the Bay Area. By where people work or where they live? Lots of people live in Sonoma and Solano but commute into SF (and sometimes Silicon Valley!) Are SF-Oakland-Berkeley in close enough proximity to demand the same wage?

    Would LA, SF, and San Diego have different minimum wages?


  4. There was a lot to like about the Bouruis piece, but a couple bits jumped out at me as… kind of weird:

    Want to end illegal immigration once and for all? Destroy our own existence, our own prosperity, our own safety, such that life in the United States is worse than the proverbial hell holes illegal immigrants and refugees currently live in. Do that, and the world will stay home.

    The alternative is to improve the rest of the world’s existence, safety and prosperity; that will also make people more inclined to stay home. Counterintuitive as it may seem, I think this is actually considerably easier than completely wrecking the US, and is obviously a better solution for everybody involved.

    Republicans talk about liberty, but never do much of anything from a policy standpoint to advance it; they’re distrustful of it. If you truly believe that liberty is the way, how can you concede that “immigrants” and “refugees” that come here can’t be won by a message of free enterprise, self reliance, personal responsibility, and individual achievement? Unless liberty is a false premise, it is a message that applies to all, regardless of race, nationality, religion, etc.

    I… hmm. I think that the idea that some people can handle liberty and other people can’t, and that the lines may largely coincide with ones of race, nationality, religion, et c. is a depressingly traditional one.


    • I… hmm. I think that the idea that some people can handle liberty and other people can’t, and that the lines may largely coincide with ones of race, nationality, religion, et c. is a depressingly traditional one.I… hmm. I think that the idea that some people can handle liberty and other people can’t, and that the lines may largely coincide with ones of race, nationality, religion, et c. is a depressingly traditional one.

      There were always large numbers of Americans who defined liberty as the right to live a life in line with conservative Protestant morality. Liberty University has the strictest student handbook in the United States but they still see themselves as promoting liberty somehow. Republicans are somewhat heirs to the idea that liberty coincides with Protestant morality.


    • I think the more generous take on the Republican position is that (a) someone breaking the law to get here already shows compromised morals (though I realize the first part of the piece challenges this idea); (b) “liberty” may apply to all but that does not mean people from all cultures will accept or even interpret liberty equally. I’m much more on the side of the author than the side of protectionists, but it’s pretty naive to think that all people everywhere view liberty the way we do.


  5. The comments in the Allan Bouruis post illustrate why you should the comment section on some sites with care. They were toxic and had a lot of tough guy chest-thumping on how if they were in that position they would fix the situation rather than flee. What a-holes.

    I represent immigrants for a living and help them navigate the system but immigration is something that the United States always struggled with. There was always a significant plurality of the population that defined American identity more strictly than people who simply possessed American citizenship. For most of American history, a true American meant somebody who was Anglo or at least Northern European and Protestant. There were certain political beliefs that true Americans were not supposed to hold like socialism, anarchism, and other leftist political ideologies. The second KKK was just as much about hating the Catholics and Jews coming from Southern and Eastern Europe and tended to be further to the left than Anglo-Protestant Americans. A lot of Donald Trump’s appeal is that he is openly using the nativist ideology but in 2015 nativism expanded to included everybody considered white for the most part.


    • I agree with this, but to me the easiest way to spot the historical trends is to observe that in the Second Party System, the Democrats almost always focussed on race as the primary issue, while the Republicans almost always focussed on religion.

      Initially, the Democratic Party was a white man’s party, but even today race is the most defining issue of a racial coalition. The Whig/Republican strand tended to see Protestant morality as providing a necessary framework for self-government, and were most consistently opposed to open immigration (as well as territorial expansion). Lincoln did not understand how someone could be a know-nothing and opposed to slavery, but in his time those views were more commonly held together than his.


      • The Democratic Party focused more on race because immigrants tended to vote Democratic once they became citizens. Most of these immigrants were Catholic. Focusing on Protestantism and race would have been a dumb move for the Democrats. Despite this, a lot of Southern Democratic voters did not like Catholics much as the founding of the Second KKK demonstrates.


  6. In more random news, it appears the Oregon Standoff is finally over. The last four hold-outs surrendered this morning after the FBI proved a few points. And one really long, weird conversation. (It appears that one person — Sandy, specifically — was pretty much single-handedly responsible for keeping this going).

    Also, Clive Bundy was arrested this morning after landing in Oregon, on charges stemming from his original “standoff” with the Feds over grazing rights.

    Somehow, I don’t think the Great Cattle Revolution is gonna happen.

    Court ought to be fun. Might be a lovely high-profile case (although if I had to bet, it’ll all be down the memory hole by then) with sovereign citizens getting to sprout their crazy. Maybe make it a comedy companion piece for “Making a Murderer”.


    • To be picky, what I claim is not that we’re on the edge of Moore’s Law hitting physical barriers of the sort described in the article, but that Moore’s Law is on the edge of becoming unaffordable. Unless and until Intel and Samsung can find a market that demands enough parts that require 10 nm to keep a production line busy, they won’t build 10 nm fabs.

      There was an interesting line at this year’s EPIC conference: “There is no Internet of Things; there is only other people’s computers in your house.” I might have phrased it as “there is only computers in your house running other people’s buggy insecure malicious software,” but that doesn’t make as good a sound bite.


      • Hitting physical barriers is a good way to make things unaffordable. The two are often very tightly linked. Even if we haven’t hit the barrier yet, being on the bleeding edge of it gets the same result.

        “There is no Internet of Things; there is only other people’s computers in your house.”

        There is no cloud, just other people’s computers.


      • It seems to me that the Moore’s Law and the Internet of Things points reflect a single phenomenon: we are running out of stuff that consumers want computers to do. Ten or twenty years ago buying a new computer was exciting. The new wonder box would be able to do cool stuff your old clunker couldn’t, and would be much better at the things you used the clunker for. But for most of us, this is no longer true and hasn’t been for a while. I want my computer for word processing, surfing the internet, watching videos, and some light weight gaming. I want a large hard drive because my hobby of scanning old newspapers takes up a lot of memory, but otherwise there isn’t really anything I want my computer to do that my computer of ten years ago couldn’t.

        The Internet of Things is even more so. We are breathlessly informed that with it, we can check our phones to see if we need to buy eggs and milk, and perhaps kick the thermostat up a few degrees before we get home. Even assuming this all works, this seems an awful lot of excitement for not much payoff. I am reminding of my electronics engineering brother trying to convince our mother why she should want a computer, back around 1980 or so. She did not find compelling the possibility of electronically storing and indexing her recipes.

        Should Moore’s Law continue through a few more rounds, of course people will find stuff to do with the fancy new toys. I’m just not convinced that this will work its way down to mainstream consumer electronics, and consumer electronics has been the economic driver behind this. True AI, perhaps. There are cool things you could do with that, in the brief interval before our robot overlords take over.


          • Oh yeah, there’s a lot of stuff to do in biohacking. But why use chips when you can customize viruses? Grow them, not make them?

            Everything from “See this bacteria or virus here? Find it all and destroy it” to, as you note, “We’d like you to clean up a good chunk of these fat cells”.

            (Although honestly, I’d task them to destroy empty fat cells instead. Encourages exercise, although you can cheat it with fasting or fad diets. But mostly it won’t go crazy and kill off the fat you need, just get rid of those pesky fat cells your body rarely gets rid of. It’s why people will regain weight faster than they got it the first time. they’re not making new cells, just filling old ones).


        • Personally, I don’t think it’s a lack of interest in the “Internet of Things” (IoT) as much as an unwillingness on the part of the producers of such things to allow control of such things to ever slip from their grasp.

          I see people doing some really smart things with controllers like Arduino, & RaspberryPi, etc. Really smart home automation & security, or even just building neat things for their kids, or themselves*. But the bulk of the IoT devices out there are locked down, and if a person wants to go off spec, they have to ‘jailbreak’ the device, and most of those IoT companies really hate that. Most will instantly void the warranty, and there has been efforts to try and hold such consumers civilly liable (and I’m sure if they could, they’d go for criminally liable).

          I can completely understand the voiding of a warranty if a user wants to go off spec, but making it hard to jailbreak a device, or trying to make the device brick itself if a jailbreak is attempted, or taking legal action… It all puts a chill over the potential.


        • …and perhaps kick the thermostat up a few degrees before we get home.

          With the distinct possibility that the kid down the street will crash the electric grid over half the state by setting everyone’s thermostats to 62 °F on the hottest day of the year…

          A few years ago I built my own whole-house fan controller that could do more intelligent things than the usual high/low for X hours. I’ve been thinking recently that the state of the art has improved to the point that I could build something much more interesting now. I would have to think long and hard before I add code that lets it be run from the browser in my phone, though.


          • We got that whole NE blackout thingy without the computer technology. (someone was testing something they shouldn’t have been. And then the massively redundant power stuff decided to have “widespread issues”)


        • This is rather narrowly focused on one technology that hasn’t dramatically improved over this period. The big changes have been in the proliferation of smaller devices: 20 years ago, laptops were expensive niche products, while today they’ve displaced desktops as the standard consumer computer. Phones have seen an even more dramatic rise, from early email-equipped phones appearing in the late 90s to today’s ubiquitous smartphones.

          The increasing trend for computers to primarily serve as internet terminals is also enabled by Moore’s Law: cheap storage and processing (combined with abundant bandwidth) has allowed tremendous increases in the sophistication of online services, like streaming video at fairly amazing resolutions at low prices.

          I actually agree about the current IoT hype: “smart” appliances mostly seem to introduce new ways to fail for very little benefit. I think we’ll see some big things enabled by further Moore’s Law cycles, but I don’t know what they will be (and if I did, I’d hopefully be working on them).


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