Things tagged pol:

Tech C.E.O.s Are in Love With Their Principal Doomsayer

Nellie Bowles in The New York Times with a profile of Yuval Noah Harari (use the archive link to bypass the paywall):

His prophecies might have made him a Cassandra in Silicon Valley, or at the very least an unwelcome presence. Instead, he has had to reconcile himself to the locals’ strange delight. “If you make people start thinking far more deeply and seriously about these issues,” he told me, sounding weary, “some of the things they will think about might not be what you want them to think about.”

Germany Acts to Tame Facebook, Learning From Its Own History of Hate

Katrin Bennhold in The New York Times (use the archive link to bypass the paywall):

Germany, home to a tough new online hate speech law, has become a laboratory for one of the most pressing issues for governments today: how and whether to regulate the world’s biggest social network.

We dance together, we fight together!

The Quiet Americans Behind the U.S.-Russia Imbroglio

Keith Gessen in The New York Times (use the archive link to bypass the paywall):

During two decades, on and off, reporting in Russia and the post-Soviet states — in the turbulent ’90s, the wealthy but depressing aughts and finally during the eruption of violence in Ukraine — I occasionally heard people talk about how “the Americans” wanted this or that political outcome. The events in Ukraine demonstrated, or seemed to demonstrate, that behind the visible facade of changing presidents and changing policy statements and changing styles, “the Americans” were actually a small core of officials who not only executed policy but also effectively determined it. The continuing wars in Ukraine and Syria, the apparent Russian campaign of targeted assassinations on foreign soil, the widening gyre of sanctions and countersanctions and the still-festering question of Russian meddling in the 2016 election have made for the worst relations between the two countries since the 1980s. Understanding how to get out of this mess will require understanding how we got into it. There may be no better place to start than with the people inside the American government who have been working on the subject since 1991 — the Russia hands.

And insights:

As for Russia, it’s a threat that needs to be handled, not exaggerated. “We have to talk to them,” Oliker says. “If we don’t talk to them, things are going to get a lot worse. Yes, they hacked our election. Did they invade Ukraine? Yup, they did that. But we talk to countries that do bad things all the time. We have to talk to them, and as we’re talking to them, we have to understand that they don’t think they’re evil. I was testifying on the Hill not long ago, and I was saying, ‘The Russians think they’re acting defensively.’ And the senators were like, ‘But we’ve explained to them over and over that we’re not a threat.’ Like, are you serious?”

Zwack, the retired brigadier general who once waited for the Soviets to break through the Fulda Gap and now teaches at the National Defense University, agrees. “Short of a shooting war, you have to find bridges,” he says. “Some people say, ‘It’s not business as usual with the Russians.’ But it’s never business as usual with the Russians! They’re the one nation on the planet that, on a bad day — they’ll go away, too — but they can take us off that planet.

A Rubicon

Daniel E. Geer, Jr. at Hoover Institution:

Optimality and efficiency work counter to robustness and resilience. Complexity hides interdependence, and interdependence is the source of black swan events. The benefits of digitalization are not transitive, but the risks are. Because single points of failure require militarization wherever they underlie gross societal dependencies, frank minimization of the number of such single points of failure is a national security obligation. Because cascade failure ignited by random faults is quenched by redundancy, whereas cascade failure ignited by sentient opponents is exacerbated by redundancy, (preservation of) uncorrelated operational mechanisms is likewise a national security obligation.

What’s the Cure for Ailing Nations? More Kings and Queens, Monarchists Say

I’m more a fan of dictatorships, but sure, monarchies are preferable to representational democracies.

Leslie Wayne in The New York Times:

A recent study that examined the economic performance of monarchies versus republics bolsters their views. Led by Mauro F. Guillén, a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the study found “robust and quantitatively meaningful evidence” that monarchies outperform other forms of government.

Distributional Impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Quiz for you: Do “the rich” pay less taxes under the new tax plan?

Ok, now look at this data:

Sill say so? By what definition?

Via John Cochrane.

The hard road of free markets

John Cochrane lays down some wisdom:

The sad paradox of free markets is that free markets do not need people to understand them to work. But democracy does require voters to understand how things work.

Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II

Ben Thompson at Stratechery:

I believe that Ajit Pai is right to return regulation to the same light touch under which the Internet developed and broadband grew for two decades. I am amenable to Congress passing a law specifically banning ISPs from blocking content, but believe that for everything else, including paid prioritization, we are better off taking a “wait-and-see” approach; after all, we are just as likely to “see” new products and services as we are to see startup foreclosure.

One law professor's overview of the confusing net neutrality debate

Orin Kerr presents Gus Hurwitz on The Volokh Conspiracy:

The most confounding aspect of the contemporary net neutrality discussion to me is the social meanings that the concept has taken on. These meanings are entirely detached from the substance of the debate, but have come to define popular conceptions of what net neutrality means. They are, as best I can tell, wholly unassailable, in the sense that one cannot engage with them. This is probably the most important and intellectually interesting aspect of the debate - it raises important questions about the nature of regulation and the administrative state in complex technical settings.

The most notable aspect is that net neutrality has become a social justice cause. Progressive activist groups of all stripes have come to believe that net neutrality is essential to and allied with their causes. I do not know how this happened – but it is frustrating, because net neutrality is likely adverse to many of their interests.

The Ideological Turing Test

What it would take to change my mind on net neutrality

Tyler Cowen at MR:

Keep in mind, I’ve favored net neutrality for most of my history as a blogger. You really could change my mind back to that stance. Here is what you should do.

The effect of partisanship and political advertising on close family ties

Using anonymized smartphone-location data and precinct-level voting, we show that Thanksgiving dinners attended by residents from opposing-party precincts were 30 to 50 minutes shorter than same-party dinners. This decline from a mean of 257 minutes survives extensive spatial and demographic controls. Reductions in the duration of Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 tripled for travelers from media markets with heavy political advertising—an effect not observed in 2015—implying a relationship to election-related behavior. Effects appear asymmetric: Although fewer Democratic-precinct residents traveled in 2016 than in 2015, Republican-precinct residents shortened their Thanksgiving dinners by more minutes in response to political differences. Nationwide, 34 million hours of cross-partisan Thanksgiving dinner discourse were lost in 2016 owing to partisan effects.

From the abstract of this paper by M. Keith Chen and Ryne Rohla, which I haven’t read. Via MR.

Things that go bump in the night in Riyadh

David Hearst:

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Hariri’s resignation, the Saudi purge, and the Houthi missile fired at Riyadh are interconnected

Delaware's Odd, Beautiful, Contentious, Private Utopia

Jesse Walker in Reason:

Arden’s origins go back to the Delaware Invasion of 1895 and ‘96, when the Single Tax movement tried to take over the state. The Single Taxers were followers of Henry George, a 19th century economist who argued that government should be financed solely by a tax on land values. No income tax, no sales tax, no tax on the improvements to a property—just one tax on land. The campaigners crisscrossed the state in armbands, knapsacks, and Union Army uniforms, delivering streetcorner speeches and singing Single Tax songs (“Get the landlords off your backs/With our little Single Tax/And there’s lots of fun ahead for Delaware!”). More than a few got tossed in jail for their efforts.

The invasion was a flop. A disaster, really. Not only did their gubernatorial candidate get only 2.4 percent of the vote, but within a year the movement’s foes would insert a provision into the state constitution that made a George-style tax impossible.

Unable to achieve their ideas at the ballot box, a group of Georgists decided to take another approach. In 1900 they acquired some farmland outside Wilmington, created what amounted to a community land trust, leased out plots to anyone who wanted to move in, levied rents based on the value of the unimproved land, and used the rent money to pay for public goods. In other words, they set up a private town and enacted the Single Tax program contractually. And with that double experiment in communalism and privatization, Arden was born.

Politicians reject evidence that conflicts with their beliefs

Casper Dahlmann and Niels Bjørn Petersen in the WaPo:

We conducted a survey of 954 Danish local politicians. […] We then divided the politicians into two groups. One group got the data — but without any information as to whether the school was public or private. The schools were just labeled “School A” and “School B.” The other group got the exact same data, but instead of “School A” and “School B,” the schools’ titles were “Public School” and “Private School.”

If politicians are influenced by their ideologies, we would expect that they would be able to interpret the information about “School B” and “School A” correctly. However, the other group would be influenced by their ideological beliefs about private versus public provision of welfare services in ways that might lead them to make mistakes.

This is exactly what we found. Most politicians interpreting data from “School A” and “School B” were perfectly capable of interpreting the information correctly. However, when they were asked to interpret data about a “Public School” and a “Private School” they often misinterpreted it, to make the evidence fit their desired conclusion.

How Washington Made Harvey Worse

Michael Grunwald in Politico:

Hurricane Harvey was a disaster foretold.

Nearly two decades before the storm’s historic assault on homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast of Texas this week, the National Wildlife Federation released a groundbreaking report about the United States government’s dysfunctional flood insurance program, demonstrating how it was making catastrophes worse by encouraging Americans to build and rebuild in flood-prone areas.

Inside the C.E.O. Rebellion Against Trump’s Advisory Councils

Before they could make a statement announcing their decision, however, Mr. Trump spoke. He had caught wind of their planned defection and wanted to have the last word. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”

You can’t quit, you’re fired!

Ben Sasse on the Space between Nebraska and Neverland

Tyler interviews Ben Sasse:

I do think that one of the things we misunderstand about our politics — maybe I’ve two things that I think we misunderstand about our politics.

One, most of our political problems are downstream from culture, and we keep acting like we’ll be able to fix our politics with politics, and I don’t really think we can because our politics are a mess because we don’t understand where we are in economic history: this transition from industrialization to whatever the digital economy looks like, and therefore shorter and shorter average duration of jobs, and therefore a transition from villages and urban ethnic neighborhoods where there was known, dense social networks to this new thing.

We’ll produce new forms of social capital, but it might take half a century or a century, and it’s going to be really painful and disruptive as we go through this time.

NPR Tweeted The Declaration Of Independence And Some Trump Supporters Were Offended

Julia Reinstein at Buzzfeed:

In celebration of the 4th of July, National Public Radio tweeted out the Declaration of Independence in a series of more than 100 tweets on Tuesday.

I am amused by Buzzfeed’s slug: we-hold-these-alternative-truths-to-be-self-evident