Keeping up with the FITs 11/14
Matt Shapiro on vaccinating kids; Bari Weiss and Yascha Mounk talk to Andrew Yang; Tyler Cowen on inflation; Razib Khan talks with Tanner Greer; the new University of Austin
There were no severe cases in the placebo group or in the vaccinated group. This doesn’t mean that the vaccine *doesn’t* reduce disease severity. We certainly expect that it would reduce rates of severe disease in kids, but we don’t have the data to tell us how much.
He followed the deliberations over whether to authorize the vaccine for children aged 5-11. He refers to a small study of this not-very-vulnerable group. If it were my kid, I would be an anti-vaxxer. The benefit of vaccination seems to be negligible. I have not seen evidence that it would reduce spread if you vaxxed kids. And it’s not like MMR or polio, where a one-time vaccination is sufficient. I myself have gotten three shots, because at my age I think that the benefits are non-negligible.
Interviewed by Bari Weiss, Andrew Yang says,
everyone's adhering to their incentives and their incentives are not around either reality, truth, or public good. It’s about generating energy, money, votes.
Most of the discussion concerns the viability of a third party. Yang says
I think if you have Biden versus Trump, there is an easy 20-25% of the country that if you have a credible alternative, they get on board.
The number is potentially much higher, but I would quibble with the word “easy.” As Yang clearly sees, we’re conditioned to fear the other side so much that we are reluctant to throw our votes away on a third-party alternative. So it might be especially hard for a third party to get anywhere now.
He makes the case for ranked-choice voting. Talking with Yascha Mounk, Yang gives an example.
the Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski is the only Republican senator up for reelection in 2022 who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Her approval rating among Alaskan Republicans is, according to one poll, 6%. It is indeed political suicide to go against Trump. But now, she's not subject to a party primary where only the Republicans will vote on whether to bring her back. She can bring her case to the entire Alaskan public, who will decide via ranked-choice voting if she's in the top five, which she will be. That incentive switch freed up Senator Murkowski to vote according to her principles. We can do the same thing in other states around the country as quickly as possible—we have about 12 months to do it. And I then realized that this is the genuine path that could save us from the dysfunction by making it so that our leaders aren't catering to the 10 to 20%—the most extreme voters—but instead 50.1% of the general public.
Over much of the last two years, labor supply contracted significantly, in large part due to the pandemic. That means the economy produced less. If you produce less, sooner or later you have to consume less, too.
And if the government runs big deficits to increase spending, but you have to consume less, prices have to go up. That is what I have been saying all along.
I wish I could read everything Razib Khan recommends.
The podcast (with a transcript) between Razib Khan and Tanner Greer is self-recommending. Greer recounts how anti-Communism united libertarians, nationalists, and social conservatives. But more recently libertarians get thrown under the bus.
when conservatives look at the problems that have overcome America in the last 30-40 years, the kind of problems that led to Donald Trump being elected, they see libertarianish ideas everywhere. They say free trade as an example, help deindustrialize the American heartland helped lead to the opioid crisis helped create the situation where people are desperate. And where you know, the living standards of American whites have been cratering, and they'll go out and say this is libertarians fault. This has served the interests of financiers and corporate bigwigs, but it hasn't helped average American people. And then the other side of it is that they also blame libertarians for maybe hobbling their own movement. Their argument kind of goes like this. When the left is in power, they do not fear using the government to pursue their own social ends. Why do we lose the cultural war because when the left is in power, they use the government to make sure that everyone believes what they want. But we never do that.
They proceed to talk about one of my favorite books, David Hackett-Fischer’s Albion’s Seed, and Greer says,
the average Trump supporter, he's an individualist at the end of the day, whereas so much of the conservative intellectual energy at the moment is being run by basically communitarians people who have extremely communal visions of what the good life should be
In their suspicion of elites and of government, the Trump base are like the descendants of the Scots-Irish borderers. The NatCons are more like the mirror image of the Woke Puritans.
Greer offers a theory of cultural/generational change.
any old set of orthodoxies is going to have problems with the next generation, because the next generation wants to develop their own things. And then on top of that, the next generation isn't living through the same circumstances that caused the previous generation to create the orthodoxy, which they are now imposing. So there'll be attracting new ideas. And if you have a set of people and institutions which can provide those ideas, you might start winning them over. This won't be apparent for a while though
Finally, many fantasy intellectual stars signed on as “advisors” to the start-up University of Austin. To read more about this project, I recommend James M. Patterson. I am a doubter. I think we need to unbundle the university in order to replace it.
Re Shapiro It's hard to show non-transmission, but it just seems logical that jazzed up the immune system enough to reduce severity would reduce transmission. And the downsides are low.
"And if the government runs big deficits to increase spending, but you have to consume less, prices have to go up." This leave out the Fed. Deficits do not increase spending if the Fed does not agree. Taxing and spending decision affects who spends; the Fed determines the total amount of spending. You might say the Fed mis-estimated how inflation would respond to its management of monetary instruments and that your estimate back then was better.
Re Khan on Libertarians. Partial credit. Assuming we give Libertarians credit for freer trade (focusing more on getting other countries to reduce their restrictions on our service exports than our goods exports) coupled with structural deficits that (paradoxically) overvalued the dollar created a lot of problems. But it was conservative being more successful in reducing taxes than restraining spending that produced the deficits.
Re Khan "the average Trump supporter, he's an individualist at the end of the day" This may explain not getting vaccinated because they do not care about transmission, but does not explain anti-immigration sentiment as immigration is a positive sum game in material terms.
The meme “they use the government to make sure that everyone believes what they want. But we never do that” is used by partisans of all sides. Of course conservatives use the govt. to influence people’s beliefs. Everyone does this when they are in power.
“I think we need to unbundle the university in order to replace it.” Totally agree. It will not be too long before a Woke army invades U. of Austin in an administrative Trojan Horse. The idea that a comprehensive liberal education is necessary in order to write software or engineer a bridge belongs in the past. People need marketable skills, which can be taught without extreme ideological indoctrination and at much lower cost, probably without bricks and mortar.