Links to Consider, 10/14
Rob Henderson on practical psychological advice; Bethany Mandel on parenthood; Polarization Kills; Brink Lindsey on the status divide
By the way, for October 24 Monday evening Zoom get-together for subscribers, I propose discussing David Hackett-Fischer’s Albion’s Seed. Who is game for that?
Reviewing and quoting from a book by Robert Greene, Rob Henderson writes,
“People don't understand that the person above them who seems so powerful and in control often has insecurities. The truth is, the higher up you go in a hierarchy, the more insecure you become. The more you worry about whether people truly respect you.”
This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true enough for enough people that it is a well worth internalizing.
…Do not be the court cynic. Express admiration for the good work of others. If you constantly criticize…some of the criticism will rub off on you, hovering over you like a gray cloud wherever you go. By expressing modest admiration for other people’s achievements, you paradoxically call attention to your own.”
Advice I wish I had gotten and paid attention to by the time I graduated from college. You may find other points in Henderson’s long list more compelling.
From the loss of my parents, I decided to bring forth into this world a lot of life. And that’s what my home is filled with: life. Life, and also two bunk beds, two cribs, bulk packages of wipes and multiple sizes of diapers from Costco, and more half-broken plastic toys than I can count. I learned from my parents how truly short life is, and how incredibly valuable it is, and that instead of trying to optimize for money or quiet or “me-time,” I should do what brings me deeper happiness and fulfillment. Which isn’t to say my days are all blissful and fulfilling.
It reminds me of when I taught high school. It’s rewarding even though you have many bad days.
Jacob Wallace, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham & Jason L. Schwartz write (abstract),
This study constructs an individual-level dataset with political affiliation and excess death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic via a linkage of 2017 voter registration in Ohio and Florida to mortality data from 2018 to 2021. We estimate substantially higher excess death rates for registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats, with almost all of the difference concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available in our study states. Overall, the excess death rate for Republicans was 5.4 percentage points (pp), or 76%, higher than the excess death rate for Democrats. Post- vaccines, the excess death rate gap between Republicans and Democrats widened from 1.6 pp (22% of the Democrat excess death rate) to 10.4 pp (153% of the Democrat excess death rate). The gap in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats is concentrated in counties with low vaccination rates and only materializes after vaccines became widely available.
I wonder what Bret and Heather would say about this study. To me, it clearly implies that vaccines reduced excess death rates.
Imagine what would have happened had the vaccines been approved before the election. At that time, the word was going around in progressive circles that you could not trust a vaccine rushed into approval by the Trump Administration. As one of my friends put it, “I’m not going to take a Trump vaccine!”
Suppose that progressives had dug into an anti-vax position, which held even after the election (especially if Trump had won). In response, the Republican base shows their solidarity with Trump by lining up to get jabs.
It would be nice if we had a better heuristic than to rely on our political tribal feelings to make individual decisions.
In my view, the fundamental reason for the inegalitarian turn — not just in the United States, but throughout the advanced economies — was a qualitative downward shift in the leverage and status of ordinary people. The contributions that ordinary workers are able to make to the organized division of labor are simply less important than they used to be, and as a result those workers and their families have suffered a loss of collective power and a decline in social status.
The industrial revolution seemed to elevate the masses. Mass production. Mass production. But then,
technological progress weaned itself from dependence on large cohorts of ordinary workers in the home markets of the frontier economies.
…As technological progress outgrew its dependence on mass labor, it came to depend on a new mass elite of managers and professionals. Such occupations only constituted about 10 percent of the U.S. work force back in 1900; they account for 35 percent today. When the elite was tiny, those outside of it took comfort in their numbers; there was no shame in being an ordinary working stiff, and plenty of basis for pride. But as the industrial working class dissolved and the new elite bulked up, being outside the “meritocracy” started to feel more and more like failure.
Figure 1 in the Wallace et al paper on excess deaths by party seems to actually demonstrate the opposite of their abstract – ie that vaccines don’t do much, if anything for mortality. Taken individually, there is essentially no improvement in excess deaths from the pre-vaccine wave to the post-vaccine wave for either party despite the fact that a majority of the most vulnerable got vaccinated, even among republicans. If vaccines truly worked to reduce death, we would see both parties’ mortality drop *significantly* given the large number of vaccinations administered, but with democrats perhaps dropping further. We don’t see that at all. In fact, if the timeline of the graph were unlabeled, no one could possibly fill in the date where vaccination began, which seems like it should be a prerequisite to claiming a breakpoint.
This seems like a case where they overthought the problem when the obvious conclusion wasn’t what they wanted.
> it came to depend on a new mass elite of managers and professionals.
There's an assumption buriedi. The word "depend". The managerial elite is by it's nature a coordination network which gets to decide on the flow of resources in society.
So, to the extent that it has grown over the last century, is it really doing any work the world depends on , or is it simply doing self-justifying busywork?