Monthly Archives: May 2015


‘Rent seeking’ is generally understood as a pejorative.  And this article is not different in that way…

But, it does seem to use the term differently from the common pejorative use, which generally describes behavior.  In Vox here, Mathews describes Stiglitz et al as defining ‘rent seeking’ as a broad type of commerce, with others being production, service, etc.

It’s fairly intuitive, but I had not been highly contemplative of the rent seeking ‘rent seeking’ sector.

Anyway, you get the feeling Stiglitz, Piketty… the usual crew… think generating rent from assets is bad…cuz the wealthy own (the) assets.  And that you’d change the nature of this dynamic with say higher capital gains / investments taxes.

Well, maybe…. But I’m not sure the underlying assumptions are good.  I doubt the large size of the ‘rent seeking’ economy is a result of tax policy.  And I’m not sure the size of the ‘rent seeking’ sector is good, bad, or indifferent.  It just is

Gallup to the left…

Mostly.  Guns being something of a stunning exception (I’d say that yes, guns are a social issue among other things).  It is an ungainly comparison though.  You look at that list and read ‘the country is moving left’ on social issues, and that’s to say a libertine direction.  The country is moving towards the libertine on guns and we do not understand this to be ‘moving left.’  But what is aligned, is that the shift toward the libertine reflects an advance of secularism within the country.  And, I allusioned a point about this some weeks before… arms, small arms, are as they are in America because there’s never been a state church or even a dominant faith in this country that could give a sanction of legitimacy to national gun control like they’ve had in Europe.  So what I’d say is…. in a country getting more secular, there’s not actually much chance the advance of gun rights is going to get rolled back while other libertine advances continue apace in a leftward direction.  Despite, ya know, the assumption being it’s all white old religious people that are intransigent on guns….


Hypocrisy discernment:  Elizabeth Warren’s house flipping

I suppose there’s a set of assumptions where you’re to conclude Elizabeth Warren is a hypocrite for engaging in the unseemly business of house flipping…  but I’m a contrarian you know, so I guess it’s that I think those assumptions are probably wrong.

The trope you start with is that the profits gained by house flipping are absurd.  Ya know, you pay say $30K cash for a house and sell it with some improvements for $120K 6 months later… that’s $90K!  Well, you execute the improvements with cost effectiveness and market it to sell quickly and then navigate the transactional landscape with a certain diligence.  That’s what we call ‘work’.  People get paid for ‘work’.  And $90K was the gross before expenses, and the house could basically occupy the whole 6 months of your time.  It’s just to say, house flipping is a job that pays comparably to some other decent jobs and you can excel if you can survive the learning curve w/o losing your ass.  Not that I ever did it, but I got my side business that is analogous in that its good money but not easy money.

So that’s not a hypocrisy for Warren, and she was somewhat removed such that she was merely capitalizing / profiting from an enterprise being run by her brother.  Maybe there’s some irony to be observed in that ‘investment’ such that it exploits an arbitrage situation created by the ‘tragedy’ of foreclosure.  But, someone’s got to do it and it’s not as if Warren is so far left that she’s proposed we outlaw the buying, remodeling, and selling of homes.

There’s also some moral umbrage in that it was for ‘quick bucks’.  I do think the notion of ‘quick’ –ness is obviated by having your cash tied up in an asset that takes so much effort to resell.  Selling houses ain’t easy.  And there’s the risk.

And… there’s kinda something morally upright about having your money in … houses… rather than say in a brokerage account doing the financialization thing.  Very Warren-esque.

Discernment: it’s not hypocrisy

Non-grafty arms deals

This one, I’m not sure it’s actually a story for the reason people might think it is:  What’s the actual nature of the quid pro quo, such that it appears?  There’s this requirement the State dept. sign off on arms deals to authoritarian regimes.   But they always sign off, don’t they?  That’s what we do in the US.  We have arms makers, and they supply a lot of despots… this has been going on a long time, its commerce, it gets approved….  It would be one thing if the State dept had been denying these deals before Hillary was Sec, and started approving them after, but no one demonstrates that and I have my doubts it’s the case.  There is the thing obviously where countries make donations to the Clinton foundation with some expectation that it’s ingratiating on some level but they are not actually getting favors from the Clintons…  the Clintons can be criticized for their role in this gambit to a point, but it’s not graft.  Which they’ve done, they’ve done graft.  Pardons for contributions, etc.  This ain’t that.

K, so while I was writing this yesterday, the Vox-like metric I had in mind was furnished.

Still, I could see increased approval of arms deals to ‘belligerents’ being more easily explained by this administration’s diminished deference to Israel, something like that.  Just to say, still not grafty though there’s a superficial correlation to the Clinton Foundation donations.  See, the donors think they are buying something with the donations, but they are probably not…

Jots w/ dots 5/27

I said that:  On Pedal Pub, Newscut cut goes with bullet point hot takes.  Like I did.  Related:  I like my answer better, a churlish lefty bicyclist thing.  And I implied that, re disdain for suburbanites

Grubergate:   Olympia Snowe’s perspective isn’t persuasive, she’s too often the apostate used to rebut Republicans.

I want to have that discussion, where we debate the left’s plan to allocate how much of the economy gets devoted to sneakers and deodorant.  It’s a Mill’s utilitarian thing I think.  I’m against utilitarianism.  You need a lot of ostensibly frivolous commerce in the economy such that you can float pacemaker and antibiotics research on the churn, stuff like that.  You need abundance.

Might be fair to say  This nostalgic lament is typical, but it was the case for me like quite a few others.  The thing that made me love it and prepared me to play at a (…very low) organized level was thousands of hours of unorganized sandlot ball in my youth.   My kids don’t play BTW, they were bored to tears and then failing to hit the ball and being challenged by it is not something they were ever consumed with…

Well, ESPN mlb does think the Twins are vapory and will regress to the mean.  IE, the baseline metrics are mediocre and given a big enough sample size the teams performance will reflect that…. Good golly, last night with the relief pitcher change in the 9th… that was something unique.  Perkins comes in to close with runners on, he’s a lefty.  Sandoval is a switch hitter.   It’s almost a commandment like rule that the batter in this case goes to the side where he has the assumed platoon advantage, which would mean right handed for Sandoval.  But he doesn’t, cuz lefties are oddly hitting like .300 against Perkins with righties hitting .150 or so.  So Sandoval bats left.  He did hit an infield single or something with no runners scoring.  Twins did win.  But… that’s what they do with stats these days, convinces them to violate the commandments at times.

Pedal Pub

Hot story, hottest of the hot, and I am obviously obligated to comment:

1 – As a prank, the Mad Max water attack thing has some inherent humor provided it’s done with some good-hearted mirth.  Should be funny.

2 – Apparently, that mirth is lacking.  Really, pedal pub should not engender any vitriol whatsoever among anyone.  Yet it does, with most disdain coming from Minneapolis’ young and urbane set.  Further refine that to mostly just Minneapolis bicyclists.  They don’t like the pedal pubbers…. Why?  Seems to be kind of a churlish lefty misanthrope thing…. they think pedal pub is a bastard hybridization of bourgeois decadencies …. sitting on your ass and drinking beer and being a tourist… that manages to besot the holy sacrament of bike riding along the way.   That’s best as I can figure.

3 – The cops… I don’t know what point to revisit among the hundreds I’ve made over some recent months here.  They’re overboard…

Jots w/ dots 5/26

I said that: City Pages on suppressors  From very blue Blue Stem Prairie no less.

Pitching is kinda dangerous:  I never got hit by a shot back to the mound.  Such that nationally, fatalities seem to occur once every couple years, I always thought the potentialities there required something like adult velocity to the plate and then an adult swing and exit trajectory to generate enough emc(2) to create a mortal skull fracture.  Now, the youth baseball environment has changed.  They’re all better players, and every team has a couple kids with prodigy quality athleticism it seems. But still, it’s hard (for me) to fathom 15 year olds can create a ‘speed of the game’ scenario where someone gets killed.  But pitching is dangerous and there’s always cosmic bad luck.

Twins are good:  Despite extraordinary passion and some very nerdy neural features, I did not matriculate to being one of this era’s new breed of stat heads.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t say that stuff isn’t good, and doesn’t mean I value gut instinct more…. but lacking the statistical background, all I got is gut instinct, little bit of a scouting eye….  Twins are good, they’ll make the playoffs.  We’re in an era of parity, and with the playoffs the way they are you gotta win about 88 games to get in.  They’ll get in, get over that fairly low hurdle.  They’re not great but they are exhibiting some spirit and quality of play, with this not seeming vapory, they’ve leapfrogged some teams.  They’ve got lucky, some things have turned around for them with necessary players performing better than adequate.  Big thing:  Torii Hunter is old and immobile, and not a good outfielder, but they didn’t have a productive bat like that in recent years to just bust up patterns of consecutive outs…

We win again

Public Safety Bill SF878 signed by Gov. Dayton moments ago.  Silencers legalized in MN, among other things in the bill.

That’s quite the thing, such that there was a pretty defiant veto threat over silencers from the Gov. in the last few weeks.

Update:  ya know, we have crappy news reporting around here.  I was looking for news on the public safety bill with the suppressors in it, and find this:  In there is a detail that implies Gov. Dayton did not make good on his veto threat because the bill was adjusted re his veto threat, ie “scaled back”.

Well, this was news to me and I follow things in the news with better than casual diligence.  So I searched to find the nature of this ‘scaling back’

Apparently there were some penalties for criminal misuse of suppressors that were codified, maybe in conference.  Which is not to say, really, that suppressor legalization within the state was ‘scaled back’.  But whatevs, it allowed Dayton to save face with some low-info people within the Democrat coalition.

If I get a suppressed piece it will be a vintage Colt Woodsman or High Standard HD-MIL… like something a WWII OSS guy would have had.  Fits my personality, I don’t like the Germans and I shoot .22’s

Our hot and dry future with global warming…

So as I shared earlier, TPM is pretty sure the future that global warming brings us will be exactly like Mad Max…. hot and dry.

Why, I ask as a dilettante, is that?  Why is that the assumption?  Ya know, besides that it’s scary…

Figure, you take solid carbon and atmospherize it, en masse, as humans and volcanos and meteors have done… it either makes the atmosphere denser or it increases the size of the atmosphere.  And you get a greenhouse effect, which means more warmth… I guess….and though warmth has been great for biological life throughout the world’s history, has meant fertility and abundance, it’s bad in this case… cuz right where we’re at now, it’s the precipice… science knows that, 97% consensus…even though it’s been warmer before, and it wasn’t the precipice then….Anyway.  If it’s warmer, water evaporates and goes to the air.  Ya figure with a mildly more carbonized atmosphere there might actually be some capacity for the atmosphere to hold more water vapor…  But it’s never going to rain apparently; the earth will be parched out everywhere like Mad Max.

Hot and dry is bull, like quite a few other things.  And hot and wet isn’t actually a problem.