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Good Manners vs. Political Correctness, by Bryan Caplan

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My first face-to-face encounter with political correctness came in 1989.  All undergrads in my dorm at UC Berkeley were strongly urged to attend the all-important DARE meeting.  Not DARE as in "Drug Abuse Resistance Education" but DARE as in "Diversity Awareness through Resources and Education."  I had disdain for this simple-minded leftist propaganda then, and the recent return of political correctness seems even worse.

These days, however, I'm also often appalled by the opponents of political correctness.  I'm appalled by their innumeracy.  In a vast world, daily "newsworthy" outrages show next to nothing about the severity of a problem.  I'm appalled by their self-pity.  Political correctness is annoying, but the world is packed with far more serious ills.  Most of all, though, I'm appalled by their antinomianism, better known as "trolling."  Loudly saying disgusting things you probably don't even believe in order to enrage "Social Justice Warriors" further impedes the search for truth - and makes your targets look decent by comparison. 

Against both political correctness and the trolling it inspires, I propose an old-fashioned remedy: good manners.  Everyone should feel comfortable speaking their minds - as long as they're polite.  In slogan form: It's not what you say; it's how you say it. 

Every child knows the basics of politeness.  Talk nicely.  Don't yell.  Don't call names.  Listen and respond to what people literally say.  Don't personally insult people.  Don't take generalizations personally.  If someone's meaning is unclear, don't put words his mouth; ask him to clarify.  And of course, don't escalate.  If someone's impolite, the polite response is to end the conversation, not respond in kind. 

Isn't this just "tone policing"?  Sure.  People can and should comport themselves like ladies and gentlemen.  You can fairly criticize Social Justice Warriors for one-sided tone policing - their failure to police their own tone.  And you can fairly criticize them for acting as if there's no polite way to reject their views.  But proper tone policing is what makes conversation productive and pleasant.  (And of course, the more pleasant conversation is, the more we're likely to constructively converse).

Aren't some positions inherently impolite?  Maybe, but they're so rare we needn't worry about them.  If someone says, "Your whole family should be murdered," they almost always say so impolitely.  To put it mildly.  But there are clear exceptions.  It's not impolite to simply be a utilitarian, and in the right kind of trolley problem, utilitarianism implies murderous answers.  While I'm not a Peter Singer fan, he seems polite to me. 

But isn't trolling fun?  For some people, it obviously is.  But trolling is still very bad.  If someone trolls you, you should just politely end the conversation and find someone worth talking to.

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ahofer
14 hours ago
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"These days, however, I'm also often appalled by the opponents of political correctness. I'm appalled by their innumeracy. In a vast world, daily "newsworthy" outrages show next to nothing about the severity of a problem. I'm appalled by their self-pity. Political correctness is annoying, but the world is packed with far more serious ills. Most of all, though, I'm appalled by their antinomianism, better known as "trolling." Loudly saying disgusting things you probably don't even believe in order to enrage "Social Justice Warriors" further impedes the search for truth - and makes your targets look decent by comparison. "
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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freeAgent
12 hours ago
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I wish we had more considerate conversations these days. It would certainly help if the American people hadn't elected the Troll in Chief currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave (when he's not golfing in Florida).
Los Angeles, CA

Monday assorted links

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The post Monday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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ahofer
2 days ago
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saved for the meta list of classical recordings
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Labor’s “share” in a Garett Jones World

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Timothy Taylor looks at an article on the secular decline in labor’s share of income, and he concludes

These explanations all have some plausibility, but it isn’t clear to me that, taken together, they adequately explain the fall of more than four percentage points in labor share in the decade or so from the early 2000s (roughly 61%) to the years right after the Great Recession (just above 56%). The labor share does show some sign of rebounding in the last couple of year, and it will be interesting to see whether that turns out to be true bounce-back or a damp squib.

“Labor’s share” is one of those macro-Marxist concepts that I distrust. It ignores the heterogeneity of labor. Some workers have few skills. Others have highly marketable skills. It ignores heterogeneity of capital. But perhaps even more important, it ignores the fact that most of us are Garett Jones workers, who do not produce output but instead produce organizational capital.

As an example of a firm with a high labor “share,” consider a 1990s dotcom, which has lots of dreams but little revenue. For many of the dotcom darlings, labor’s share was way over 100 percent, and hence they went bust. Those that survived are now living off the organizational capital that they developed back in the day, which could make for a low labor share today.

In some (many?) firms, the labor share is arbitrary. For example, my guess is that as of now the “labor share” at Google is low, because the organizational capital that it built up during its first decade of existence is very valuable relative to the necessary labor input to keep it running. But Google has a lot of leeway. The more it invests today in organizational capital (research into driverless cars and such), the higher will be its (current) labor’s share. The more it just sticks to its existing business and trims workers in the research areas, the lower will be its labor’s share.

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ahofer
8 days ago
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good point
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The AHCA’s mandate replacement doesn’t make sense to me

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I’m having a really hard time with this. I’m going to try and walk through my dilemma in the hope that someone will be able to make me understand.

The Republicans hate the individual mandate. I get that. I don’t necessarily understand their rationale, but I accept it. They also, however, understand the need for some sort of carrot/stick to get healthy people to buy insurance so that we don’t get adverse selection and see the private insurance market enter a death spiral. So they need to replace it.

We have discussed this before. There are many ways to solve this adverse selection problem without a mandate. Open enrollment periods, penalties for not signing up, loss of protections, inducements for keeping coverage, etc. We have written about this again and again and again and again and again and again. So I’m not saying that you can’t replace the individual mandate.

Many wonks believe that too few healthy people are joining the exchanges. This is leaving the risk pool too expensive and leading to higher premiums. To fix that, we could increase the size of the mandate penalty (stick), increase the size of the subsidies to make insurance cheaper (carrot), or both (carrot and stick).

The AHCA plan, though, goes at this sideways. It eliminates the stick. It reduces the carrot. And it then puts in a new plan – the 30% insurance markup if people lose continuous coverage.

In theory, making people pay a lot more if they don’t buy insurance as soon as they need to will make healthy people join the market. If they know it will cost a lot more if they wait until they are sick, or if they know it will mean they won’t have community ratings if they don’t purchase plans early, they should buy in – reducing adverse selection.

But this plan doesn’t really do that. It’s a one-time, one year, 30% markup on insurance. That’s a tiny, tiny penalty in the scheme of things.

Let’s say I’m single and I’m in my late 20’s, and insurance costs me $3000. With the promised $2000 subsidy, I’d have to pay $1000 more to get insurance. Or… I could just forego it this year, and if I need it next year, it will cost me $3900 (I will owe $1900). In just one year, I make money. If I skip a number of years, I can save even more. I’m not sure this is much of a stick.

They could fix this by increasing the size of the stick or by sweetening the deal with carrots, but they didn’t.

Moreover, the incentive is totally in the wrong direction. The individual mandate punishes those who don’t buy insurance – every year. As long as I remain uninsured, I will be penalized. I will be hit again and again, until I buy insurance. That’s a stick.

The new AHCA penalty works in the opposite direction. Once I’m out of the market, I’m left alone. It’s not until I re-enter that I’m hit with the penalty. The longer I stay out, the longer I avoid the pain. It’s an inducement to remain uninsured.

We know what needs to happen to reduce adverse selection. We need to make the carrots and/or sticks stronger. This seems to do the opposite. I don’t get it.

@aaronecarroll

P.S. I’m also not entirely sure that this aspect of the law can pass muster for reconciliation. It’s an insurance regulation, not part of the federal budget.

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ahofer
13 days ago
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"I’m also not entirely sure that this aspect of the law can pass muster for reconciliation. It’s an insurance regulation, not part of the federal budget." supreme court said its predecessor was a tax...
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When Government Picks Winners, It Mostly Chooses Losers

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In an article for Cato mocking the Obama Administration for creating energy technology forecasts that run to the year 2300, Pat Michaels wrote:

Consider the case of domestic natural gas. In 2001, everyone knew that we were running out. A person who opined that we actually would soon be able to exploit hundreds of years’ worth, simply by smashing rocks underlying vast areas of the country, would have been laughed out of polite company.

Energy statists on the Left today are trying to get rid of coal-fired electricity generation in this country (due to climate concerns).  But one thing that few people remember is that a significant reason we have so much coal-fired electricity generation in this country is that energy statists on the Left in the 1970's mandated it.  I kid you not:

The Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act (FUA) was passed in 1978 in response to concerns over national energy security. The 1973 oil crisis and the natural gas curtailments of the mid 1970s contributed to concerns about U.S. supplies of oil and natural gas. The FUA restricted construction of power plants using oil or natural gas as a primary fuel and encouraged the use of coal, nuclear energy and other alternative fuels. It also restricted the industrial use of oil and natural gas in large boilers.

As a further irony, and absolutely typical of government regulation, this regulation banning oil and gas fired plants because oil and gas seemed to be running out was really trying to fix a problem caused by another regulation.   The government had caps on oil and gas prices through the 1970's that artificially reduced supplies.  Once these price regulations were removed, we suddenly had an oil and gas glut in the 1980's and the FUA was eliminated in 1987.  Watching regulators chase their tails in energy policy over the last 40 years would be comical if the effects of their repeated mistakes were not so dire.

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ahofer
13 days ago
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"Watching regulators chase their tails in energy policy over the last 40 years would be comical if the effects of their repeated mistakes were not so dire."
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Brown Brothers Harriman employee says "This is a zoo. avoid at all costs!"

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From Brown Brothers HarrimanEmployee(Past Employee - 2,016)&dash Rating 1 out of 5 — Mon, 6 Mar 2017

Pros
Used to be in a mall

Cons
This place is full of outdated, bureaucratic process. The employees are not friendly and HR is profoundly idiotic. There is no work life balance as IT employees is grossly overworked, while they keep hiring non technical people in teams with no work.

Advice to Senior Management
Re-evaluate your corporate culture. Fire half the HR team. This will fix most of your issues in no time.

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ahofer
14 days ago
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"Fire half the HR team. This will fix most of your issues in no time." huh.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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