Friday, December 08, 2017

Who Will Win the Election? The Party That Governs Better


Allan Lichtman, the historian who has successfully predicted all the presidential elections since 1984, reminds us that that the main theme of such an election is a referendum on how well the party in power governed.

This is good news - the candidate horse race is really secondary to the years of achievement, or non-achievement, which lie before the race.  This is as it should be.

The Republican Party has had total control of government for a year.  They have done almost nothing with it.

On the basis of Lichtman's findings, I think they are building toward a disastrous 2020.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Conservatives Want a "Strict Father" To Make Everyone Personally Responsible - Except Corporations


George Lakoff has argued persuasively that an underlying cause of the deep conservative/liberal divide is that, while both tend to view government as like a family, they have different theories of what kind of parent is best to lead a family.  He calls these two views "strict father" and "nurturant parent," respectively.

This helps make sense of why conservative policy is so hard on welfare recipients.  They believe a strict father should make children become responsible and self-supporting.

This also explains why they want "fathers" of all kinds to have a free hand.  Theirs is a patriarchal theory in the most literal sense.

Which brings us to the mystery of "trickle-down economics."  As an economic theory it has failed repeatedly.  However, conservatives doggedly stick to it as the solution to all problems.  Give the rich more money and give corporations a free hand, and they will do what is best for their dependents.

Liberals regard corporations as economic institutions, which respond to incentives.  If you want them to create more jobs, then tie their tax breaks to actually producing more jobs.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Good News: India Outlaws Sex With Child Brides


The Indian Supreme Court closed a loophole which allowed sex with a young teen by her husband.

Now, 18 is the age of consent across the board, even for married girls.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

I Don't Care About Sports Unless It Touches Me Personally. This is Like How Many Conservatives Feel About Social Problems.


Liberals have long lamented that conservatives seem to care about social problems only if the problem affects them personally.

Since "care for the harmed" is the heart of liberal ideology, this approach seems unjust to liberals.

I had a "shower thought" about this question this morning:  I feel the same way about sports.  I only care about a team or a game or a sport if it affects me personally.  I don't really care about sports as such, and only have a vague notion of what it going on with professional and semi-professional (Division I) sports.  Very occasionally a local kid will have a notable sports career, and I will want to have some idea of how that person, and that person's team, are doing.

I feel the same way about the sports team in my town and my college.  I care because I know some of the players, or their families.  And I care a bit because it matters to my neighbors.

But I don't regard sports teams as marking my "tribe."

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Online Dating Seems to Increase Racial Intermarriage


The researchers hypothesized that online dating would take people out of their social networks. Since our networks still tend to be mono-racial, expanding them by algorithm into a much broader world is likely to make them more diverse.

The rapid increase in racial intermarriage matches the predictions of the model.

Yes, some people specify that they only wants to see potential dates of their own race.  But most people do not.

This is from a correlation study, so take it with a grain of salt.

One interesting side note:  A steady ten percent of marriages seem to come from college connections. Since about a quarter of Americans go to college, this is an extraordinarily high proportion of marriages in the college class.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Silver Lining of the Trump Election: Mobilizing Millennials to Civic Action


Millennials supported Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election by 20 points -- the biggest gap of any generation.

Moreover, the 35% who supported Trump "are less experienced in civic and community engagement ... and they are less likely to say that they would take up a formal civic opportunity (like regularly volunteering for a nonprofit organization)." 

Clinton supporters, by contrast, were more engaged in civic and political life to begin with.

The Tufts study, taken just after before and after the election, thought that the high level of civic mobilization of the Clinton voters would depend on whether the Trump administration attacked "individuals and organizations with diverse viewpoints, including those of young people largely oppose him."

Now that we are almost a year after the election, I think we can clearly answer that question in the affirmative.