Election 2020: Installment 2

It will be a while before there is some reliable polling about the presidential race. In the meantime, I’ll post about relevant issues, such as Trump’s popularity, the state of the economy, and the status of the COVID-19 outbreak.

POLLING

At this stage, it’s best to compare Trump’s standing against Obama’s when Obama was seeking reelection eight years ago. Trump’s relative standing has declined sharply in the past year, though it may (or may not) be on the rebound:


Derived from Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking polls for Obama and Trump.

Voters’ perceptions of the state of the union is important, too. That perception has gone south with the rise of COVID-19 and domestic unrest. It may be irrational to blame an incumbent for matters beyond his control, but that’s what a lot of voters do. And Obama, by contrast, went into the election of 2012 with a rising tide to good feeling to buoy him.


Derived from Rasmussen Reports Right Direction/Wrong Track poll.

Trump’s numbers, by election day, will depend in large part on the perceived state of the economy. A robust turnaround will help him. A weak turnaround or new dip will hurt him.

STATE OF THE ECONOMY

The employment numbers are still bad, despite a sharp turnaround. The following graph shows the real vs. nominal unemployment rate (method explained here):

Uncertainty about COVID-19 and the state of the union has put a damper on investor’s resurgent optimism about the future of the economy:

COVID-19

Much attention is being give to the resurgence of confirmed COVID-19 cases; less is being given to the continued decline in the rate at which COVID-19 is producing deaths nationwide. Inasmuch as the response to COVID-19 has become politicized, the effect of the contagion on the outcome of election 2020 will depend, in part, on which piece of news takes center stage. Generally overlooked factors are the relative rarity of COVID-19 and the greater rarity of deaths caused by it. The following graphs sum it up:



Based on statistics recorded here. The projection of deaths is based on the rate at which deaths have declined since the peak rate on April 21, 2020.

Churchill’s “Divisiveness”

Sir Winston Churchill said many memorable things in his long and eloquent life. Nowadays, much of what he said would be considered “divisive”, that is, espousing the defense of liberty and reason. Here are some examples (drawn from this site):

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.

There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Speaking of Cultural Appropriation …

… as I was here, I have a serious bone to pick with the parents of yore who broke the gender barrier by giving boy names to girl babies. There was a time when Ashley, Beverly, Evelyn, Leslie, Marion, Meredith, Merle, Shirley, and Vivian were boy names (exclusively or predominantly). The Brits even had girl-name equivalents for Leslie (Lesley) and Vivian (Vivien).

That was in the dim past. Naming has since gotten out of hand:

In 1910, just 5% of American babies named “Charlie” were girls. Over 100 years later, girl Charlies took over their male counterparts for the first time in 2016—making up 51% of the share.

With little fuss or fanfare, Charlie has gone gender-neutral….

Quartz analyzed the Social Security Administration’s public data on baby names to find out whether what happened with “Charlie” is an exception, or part of a wider trend. Our results show that, on average, the country is slowly moving toward using more gender-neutral names. And a few popular names are leading the way.

To analyze the trend, we calculated a “genderedness score” for every American baby name—and for the country on the whole. The score goes from zero to one. A zero means a name is perfectly non-gendered. That is to say, exactly half of the babies with that name are boys, and the other half are girls. A one, meanwhile, means the name is used exclusively for one gender. So a lower score means a name is more gender-neutral, and less biased.

“Biased”? What’s biased about calling a boy by a boy’s name and a girl by a girl’s name? The PC brigade to the contrary  notwithstanding, sex (a.k.a. gender) isn’t “assigned” at birth — it just is.

Anyway …

American parents have long had a strong preference for gendered names. The overall genderedness score was 0.97 in 1920, meaning nearly every kid had a name that was used almost exclusively for just boys or just girls. The score is falling, though. It hit 0.946 in 2016, the most recent year the SSA has name data for. The 1920 score is close to the historical average for names like “Billy,” “Selma,” and “Otis.” Names around the new—less gender-specific—number include “Jerry,” “Aden,” and “Orion.”

That’s another thing: Made-up names that have no historical roots. (And don’t get me started on “black” names.)

Continuing …

Several popular names, Charlie among them, are driving this trend [toward gender-neutrality]. No girls named “Blake” show up in the data at all until 1951. But today, one-quarter of American Blakes are female. And it’s not just boys’ names being given to girls, either. “Marion,” for example, has seen a major shift from girls to boys….

Many other popular names from the 2016 dataset are also gender-neutral, including “Finley,” “Justice,” and “Armani.” Here are the least-gendered 20, only including those with more than 500 babies with that name.

Name Gendered score Births
Charlie 0.02 3,448
Oakley 0.05 1,009
Justice 0.05 1,257
Landry 0.07 612
Armani 0.07 962
Skyler 0.09 1,667
Azariah 0.1 656
Finley 0.16 2,961
Royal 0.16 1,134
Lennon 0.19 1,095
Hayden 0.2 3,942
Casey 0.22 834
Emerson 0.23 3,163
Rowan 0.24 3,522
Baylor 0.24 548
Dakota 0.24 2,266
River 0.24 2,943
Remy 0.24 1,042
Emory 0.25 715
Phoenix 0.26 1,945

At the same time, some names are becoming more gendered. “Ashton” has gone from being pretty equal to primarily a boys’ name. “Harper” used to be more common for boys, but is now over 97% girls. And the most popular names from 2016 score high on the genderedness scale—Emma and Olivia at 0.99, and Scarlett and Victoria at 1.00, without a single boy.

Given that the average is moving the other way, though, it seems these mono-gendered choices are slowly becoming less popular. Gender-neutral options like Parker, Jordan, and Riley were among the top 100 in 2016.

Note the number of made-up names and names that (in saner times) would be thought of as masculine (e.g., Landry, Finley, Lennon, Casey, Emerson, Baylor, and Emory).

Unmentioned by the author is a phenomenon that would be obvious to an attentive reader: The appropriation of names (like cultural appropriation generally) is a one-way street. Girls get to do it (well, their parents do); boys just suffer in silence (or else) as their names become sissified.

You’ll know that the cultural revolution has succeeded when Emma, Scarlett, and Victoria become accepted as boys’ names.

Real vs. Nominal Unemployment Rate

The labor-force participation rate peaked in January 2000:

The business-cycle recession of 2008-2011 slammed full-time employment; the temporary closures of 2020 had the opposite effect:

The real vs. nominal unemployment rate (setting the real unemployment rate equal to the nominal rate in January 2000, and adjusting for subsequent changes in the labor-force participation rate and the fraction of employed persons working full-time):

Go here for an explanation of the method and the reasons for the decline in the labor-force participation rate from 2000 to 2016.

“Cultural Appropriation” Is a Stupid Concept

Just for the fun of it, let’s divide the world into the old racial categories — Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid — and stipulate that they are associated with broadly different cultural heritages. By cultural heritages, I mean not just such things as weird languages, funny dance steps, and peculiar ways of decorating oneself, but also such things as the STEM disciplines, the technologies resulting from their application, and various other refinements (or lack thereof) in the various arts (e.g., plastic, visual, musical, and terpsichorean).

Now, it is widely believed by those persons who are sensitive to such things that Caucasoids commit grievous social sins when they adopt and adapt (i.e., appropriate) the cultural artifacts of Mongoloids and Negroids. But Mongoloids and Negroids are free of sin when the appropriate the cultural artifacts of Caucasoids.

This is a good thing for Mongoloids and Negroids because, unlike Caucasoids who claim to detest cultural appropriation, they know where they would be without it. Where’s that? Living in primitive conditions without the following (and much more):

Computers (of all sizes)

Internet

Smart phones

Radio and TV

Movies

Automobiles (of all kinds), airplanes, and trains (including subways)

Mass production of myriad products, from foodstuffs to folderol

Complex and efficient distribution networks for the aforesaid products

The vast array of services that has accompanies, enabled, and evolved with the aforesaid artifacts (and other)

Classical music

Country music

Various sports (e.g., baseball, basketball, soccer, football)

That’s enough of that.

Now consider the number of Mongoloids and Negroids (billions, actually) who benefit from such things. And consider the number of Mongoloids and Negroids in the U.S. (millions, certainly) who are among the country’s top earners because of such things.

Where would those billions and millions be if cultural appropriation were banned by force of law?

A New Direction

Nothing that I say here will have any effect on the downward spiral of the United States into an anti-libertarian oligarchy, controlled by an academic-media-information technology-regulatory complex that is intent on the suppression of straight, white persons of European descent who aren’t members of the complex, and anyone (regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin) who dissents from the party line du jour.

The oligarchs themselves will do everything in their considerable power to control the narrative and keep their followers in line by using the contemporary equivalent of bread and circuses (tawdry entertainment; sensational, biased “news”; transfers of income and wealth; further erosion of the institutions that inculcate and enforce traditional morality; etc.).

You can read what I have said about such matters (e.g., here) — and much more — by consulting the list of categories and the tag cloud in the sidebar, and by reading selections from my (very long and semi-organized) list of favorite posts. I will say no more, having said more than enough, to no avail, in a blogging career that spans more than twenty years.

But, as an inveterate analyst, I will continue to produce statistical charts and tables that probe such matters as the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, Trump’s polling, the outlook for election 2020, climate data, economic indicators, and the ideological direction of the Supreme Court. So, from now on, I will publish posts on subjects that lend themselves to statistical treatment — without commentary. (Well, I may throw in an occasional bit of barbed humor.)

I will report, you may decide — or despair — as you wish.

Racism in Action

Here. It’s not what you expected, is it?

The perp — a young-ish black man — had previously been arrested more than 100 times

Why was he walking around free?

Why aren’t white’s rioting and burning down buildings?

(See also “Crime Revisited“.)

COVID-19: The Disconnect between Cases and Deaths

As many (including me) have observed, COVID-19 case statistics don’t give a reliable picture of the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Just a few of the reasons are misdiagnosis; asymptomatic (and untested) cases; and wide variations in the timing, location, and completeness of testing. As a result, the once-tight correlation between reported cases and deaths has loosened to the point of meaninglessness:


Source: Derived from statistics reported here.

So when you hear about a “surge” in cases, do not assume that they are actually new cases. It’s just that new cases are being discovered because more tests are being conducted. The death toll, overstated as it is, is a better indicator of the state of affairs. And the death toll continues to drop.

Less Discrimination Means More Discrimination

From a piece by Jordan Davidson in The Federalist:

The United States Supreme Court on Monday ruled [in Bostock v. Clayton] that the definition of sex in a federal civil rights law expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity, ensuring the protection of gay, lesbian, and transgender people from being reprimanded or fired at work. This controversial decision comes after multiple failed legislation attempts in Congress over the last 15 years to rewrite the definition of the word “sex” into law.

The ruling was 6-3 with Justice Gorsuch and Justice Roberts, both appointed by Republican presidents, voting with the majority while Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh dissented on the grounds that the definition of sex is not the Court’s decision.

Kavanaugh’s dissent includes this conciliatory aside:

Notwithstanding my concern about the Court’s transgression of the Constitution’s separation of powers, it is appropriate to acknowledge the important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans. Millions of gay and lesbian Americans have worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit—battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives. They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today’s result.

Granting more “equality” to yet another identity group means that employers are less likely to hire and promote — and more likely to fire — white, heterosexual males under the age of 40 who are undeniably of European descent. It’s the only group that can’t claim employment discrimination. Well, maybe it’s not the only group, but it’s certainly the only group that comprises more than a fraction of a percent of the populace. And you can bet that the minuscule minorities will eventually acquire more “rights” than the aforementioned white, heterosexual males.

So much for equal treatment under the law. To paraphrase George Orwell’s observation in Animal Farm: All persons are equal, but some persons are more equal than others.

Reflections on Aging and Social Disengagement

Aging is of interest to me because I suddenly and surprisingly find myself among the oldest ten percent of Americans.

I also find myself among the more solitary of Americans. My wife and I rattle about in a house that could comfortably accommodate a family of six, with plenty of space in which to have sizeable gatherings (which we no longer do). But I am not lonely in my solitude, for it is and long has been of my own choosing. Lockdowns and self-isolation haven’t affected me a bit. Life, for me, goes on as usual and as I like it.

This is so because of my strong introversion. I suppose that the seeds of my introversion are genetic, but the symptoms didn’t appear in earnest until I was in my early thirties. After that I became steadily more focused on a few friendships (which eventually dwindled to none) and decidedly uninterested in the aspects of work that required more than brief meetings (one-on-one preferred). Finally, enough became more than enough and I quit full-time work at the age of fifty-six. There followed, a few years later, a stint of part-time work that also became more than enough. And so, at the age of fifty-nine, I banked my final paycheck. Happily.

What does my introversion have to do with my aging? I suspected that my continued withdrawal from social intercourse (more about that, below) might be a symptom of aging. And I found this, in the Wikipedia article “Disengagement Theory“:

The disengagement theory of aging states that “aging is an inevitable, mutual withdrawal or disengagement, resulting in decreased interaction between the aging person and others in the social system he belongs to”. The theory claims that it is natural and acceptable for older adults to withdraw from society….

Disengagement theory was formulated by [Elaine] Cumming and [William Earl] Henry in 1961 in the book Growing Old, and it was the first theory of aging that social scientists developed….

The disengagement theory is one of three major psychosocial theories which describe how people develop in old age. The other two major psychosocial theories are the activity theory and the continuity theory, and the disengagement theory [is at] odds with both.

The continuity theory

states that older adults will usually maintain the same activities, behaviors, relationships as they did in their earlier years of life. According to this theory, older adults try to maintain this continuity of lifestyle by adapting strategies that are connected to their past experiences [whatever that means].

I don’t see any conflict between the continuity theory and the disengagement theory. A strong introvert like me, for example, finds it easy to maintain the same activities, behaviors, and relationships as I did before I retired. Which is to say that I had begun minimizing my social interactions before retiring, and continued to do so after retiring.

What about the activity theory? Well, it’s a normative theory, unlike the other two (which are descriptive), and it goes like this:

The activity theory … proposes that successful aging occurs when older adults stay active and maintain social interactions. It takes the view that the aging process is delayed and the quality of life is enhanced when old people remain socially active.

That’s just a social worker’s view of “appropriate” behavior for older persons. Take my word for it, introverts don’t need it social activity, which is stressful for them, and resent those who try to push them into it. The life of the mind is far more rewarding than chit-chat with geezers. Why do you suppose my wife and I will do everything in our power to stay in our own home until we die? It’s not just because we love our home so much (and we do), but we can’t abide the idea of communal living, even in an upscale retirement community.

Anyway, I mentioned my continued withdrawal from social intercourse. A particular, recent instance of withdrawal sparked this post. For about fifteen years I corresponded regularly with a former colleague. He  has a malady that I have dubbed email-arrhea: several messages a day to a large mailing list, with many insipid replies from recipients whose choose “reply all”. Enough of that finally became too much, and I declared to him my intention to refrain from correspondence until … whenever. (“Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”) So all of his messages and those of his other correspondents are dumped automatically into my Gmail trash folder, and I no longer use Gmail.

My withdrawal from that particular node of social intercourse was eased by the fact that the correspondent is a collaborationist “conservative” with a deep-state mindset. So it was satisfying to terminate our relationship — and devote more time to things that I enjoy, like blogging.

Another Footnote about Anarchy

Seattle is what happens when the circle of anarchists is widened to include people who believe in force rather than dreamy abstractions about how private defense agencies can keep the peace. The problem — as realists like me have long noted — is that there are a lot of people who don’t believe in peace because it limits them to what the can earn honestly. And goes against their violent nature.


Related posts:

Anarchy: An Empty Concept
Anarchy, Minarchy, and Liberty
Friedman on Anarchy and Conservatism
A Few Thoughts about Anarchy
Extreme Libertarianism vs. the Accountable State
It’s the 1960s Redux
Apt Quotations for a Riot-Ridden Country
Anarchy: A Footnote

Anarchy: A Footnote

In “A Few Thoughts about Anarchy” I opined that if

anarchy were a viable option, it would have long since thrived. If it seems to have eked out a tenuous existence in isolated cases because of state sponsorship, isn’t that evidence of its inviability? And if it hasn’t thrived because statists of one kind and another have suppressed it, isn’t that also proof of its inviability? Call it a non-existence proof.

What we are now witnessing is the use of anarchy (enabled by left-statists) to strengthen the power of the central government. Blacks will get more handouts; more preferential treatment in hiring, promotions, college admissions, etc.; more suppression of speech that offends them (and white leftists), including facts about disparities in intelligence and violence; and more lenient treatment by police and courts (which will abet more violence by blacks). The rest of the populace will bear the costs, though affluent white leftists won’t care and will be glad of the consequences for middle- and low-income whites.

It is telling that some prominent left-statists (e.g., Nancy Pelosi) can’t bring themselves to denounce the movement to abolish police departments. What could better signify the symbiosis of left-statism and black privilege?

(See also “It’s the 1960s Redux” and “Apt Quotations for a Riot-Ridden Country“.)

Apt Quotations for a Riot-Ridden Country

I was browsing The Great Quotations and came upon several quotations that strike me as especially apt today.

The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny. (Edmund Burke)

The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence. (Adolf Hitler)

All social disturbances and upheavals have their roots in crises of individual self-esteem, and the great endeavor in which the masses most readily unite is basically a search for pride. (Eric Hoffer)

The dictatorship of the proletariat is nothing else than power based upon force and limited by nothing — by no law and absolutely no rule. (V.I. Lenin)

Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe. (Theodore Roosevelt)

The mass never comes up to the standard of its best member, but on the contrary degrades itself to the level of the lowest. (Henry David Thoreau)

Bleeding Heart Libertarians (the Blog): Good Riddance

Ist kaputt. Why is it good riddance? See this post and follow the links, most of which lead to posts critical of Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

It’s the 1960s Redux

The death of George Floyd, which was caused (if only indirectly) by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department, has met with predictable reactions:

1. Trump is to blame for creating an “atmosphere of hate”.

2. The cop’s behavior is symptomatic of “systemic racism” in the United States.

3. Ergo, rioting — not just in Minneapolis but in some other large cities as well.

My thoughts:

1. The “atmosphere of hate” line is high irony, inasmuch as Trump and those who support him are targets of unremitting hatred. There’s a lot of psychological projection at work here.

2. The charge of “systemic racism” is symptomatic of systemic stereotyping by leftists who don’t want to acknowledge the next point and its consequences (discussed below).

3. Persons of low intelligence are more prone to violence than their more-intelligent peers.

The underlying problem hasn’t changed since the wave of urban riots in the 1960s:

Blacks, on average, are significantly less intelligent than whites of European descent, East Asians, and Ashkenzi Jews (a special class of whites of European descent).

Therefore, blacks generally earn less than than members of the other groups because (a) they are less employable and (b) their skills are less valuable (except for the small fraction of blacks who make it big in sports and entertainment).

Blacks, like most human beings, tend to live among persons who are similarly situated: economically, culturally, and racially. “Racism” is a two-way street.

Because large cities contain high concentrations of low-income blacks, resentments can quickly generate violence — not just where a triggering event occurs but wherever low-income blacks are concentrated.

A triggering event — like the death of George Floyd — ignites the simmering and long-standing resentment that must be felt among a large segment of the black population. That resentment is about the failure of blacks generally to advance relative to whites. The source of the resentment is found in the rhetoric of white “liberals”, who constantly peddle this untruth in return for black votes:

The social and economic distance between blacks and whites is due to white racism, and nothing else.

Another Big Lie from the left yields another tragic consequence.

Release Your Inner Introvert

I believe that the tendencies toward introversion and extraversion are inborn. But like many innate traits, their expression is influenced by environment. A born introvert, for example, may have to act like an extravert because of his job, the friends he has made, or some other social aspect of his life.

But lockdowns have allowed tens of millions of persons to work at home rather than in an office. And lockdowns have greatly altered socialization: no dining out, no social gatherings, no church-going, etc.

Such changes, I suspect, have caused many millions of suppressed introverts to discover that they are happier than they were before the lockdowns began. Work is less draining because it is less “close up and personal”. The absence of socialization comes as a surprising relief — no more anxiety about what others might do or say that requires a response or comment; no more anxiety about participating in events the one doesn’t really enjoy.

Not all reborn introverts will continue to enjoy their new freedom, of course. But many of them will do more of their work (perhaps all of it) from home if they are given the option of doing so. And many of them will allow some social “obligations” to lapse, and feel good about it.

So lockdowns have a liberating aspect. Who knew?

Is Trump Taking My Advice?

I made a case, here and here, for preemptive action against Big Tech’s censorship of conservative viewpoints. There has been some movement along anti-trust lines, but Trump’s executive order on social media is a big step in the right direction. Stewart Baker (The Volokh Conspiracy) explains:

The order really only has two and a half substantive provisions, and they’re all designed to increase the transparency of takedown decisions.

The first provision tells NTIA (the executive branch’s liaison to the FCC) to suggest a rulemaking to the FCC. The purpose of the rule is to spell out what it means for the tech giants to carry out their takedown policies “in good faith.” The order makes clear the President’s view that takedowns are not “taken in good faith if they are “deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service” or if they are “the result of inadequate notice, the product of unreasoned explanation, or [undertaken] without a meaningful opportunity to be heard.” This is not a Fairness Doctrine for the internet; it doesn’t mandate that social media show balance in their moderation policies. It is closer to a Due Process Clause for the platforms.  They may not announce a neutral rule and then apply it pretextually. And the platforms can’t ignore the speech interests of their users by refusing to give users even notice and an opportunity to be heard when their speech is suppressed.

The second substantive provision is similar. It asks the FTC, which has a century of practice disciplining the deceptive and unfair practices of private companies, to examine social media takedown decisions through that lens.  The FTC is encouraged (as an independent agency it can’t be told) to determine whether entities relying on section 230 “restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.”

(The remaining provision is an exercise of the President’s sweeping power to impose conditions on federal contracting. It tells federal agencies to take into account the “viewpoint-based speech restrictions imposed by each online platform” in deciding whether the platform is an “appropriate” place for the government to post its own speech. It’s hard to argue with that provision in the abstract. Federal agencies have no business advertising on, say, Pornhub. In application, of course, there are plenty of improper or unconstitutional ways the policy could play out. But as a vehicle for government censorship it lacks teeth; one doubts that the business side of these companies cares how many federal agencies maintain their own Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. And in any event, we’ll have time to evaluate this sidecar provision when it is actually applied.)

That’s it.  The order calls on social media platforms to explain their speech suppression policies and then to apply them honestly. It asks them to provide notice, a fair hearing, and an explanation to users who think they’ve been treated unfairly or worse by particular moderators.

I would take a much harder line (follow the links in the first sentence of this post). But something is better than nothing. It’s a shot across the bow of Big Tech, though I would prefer a nuclear-tipped torpedo below the water line.

A Word to the Unwise

This post is aimed at young-ish heterosexual males, though persons of other persuasions may find it amusing — or provocative.

It’s hard to tell love from lust when you’re in your late teens or twenties, and possibly even your thirties. But if you are inclined to wed, proceed cautiously. Here are some reasons for caution:

!. There are lots of good fish in the sea. Don’t be bowled over by the first woman who returns your infatuation, or the one who catches you on the rebound from a failed relationship.

2. Marry in haste, repent at leisure. If you take obligations seriously — and you should if you want a happy marriage — you are inviting years and decades of repentance if you make the wrong (hasty, uninformed) choice.

3. If you are not a “liberal” at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain. Men and women don’t always follow the same political path through life, and divergence can badly strain a marriage. Be on the lookout for hints that your intended is a “liberal” at heart, that is, all for the “general good” of mankind but not big on personal responsibility, accomplishment, and liberty. (See #4.)

4. Like mother (or father), like daughter. Not necessarily in looks, but very likely in personality. Get to know the parents, if you can, and take stock of  their traits. If one parent (or both) exhibits a trait or traits that you will find it hard or impossible to live with, be wary of wedding the daughter. (See #1.) The list of traits that might be unbearable is too long to recite here, but these are a few that I would watch for: nagging, controlling, crabby, self-centered, spiteful, resentful of the success of others, and unforgiving.

Election 2020: Installment 1

I was right about Election 2016. Now I’ll start posting regularly about Election 2020. It will be a while before there is some reliable polling about the presidential race. In the meantime, I’ll post about relevant issues, such as Trump’s popularity, the state of the economy, and the retreat of the COVID-19 outbreak.

There’s good news and bad news in this post. Whether the good news is good and the bad news is bad depends on whether you prefer Trump to Biden (or his replacement).

One piece of good news for Trump is the decided drop in the rate at which COVID-19 cases and deaths are occurring (if you believe the official numbers). Here are my tallies, averaged over 7 days to smooth over delays in reporting:

It’s too soon to know whether the curves will ascend again (or ascend significantly, if they do) as a result of “reopening”, which began in earnest over the Memorial Day weekend. Stay tuned.

Two pieces of very bad news for Trump are the sharp declines in (a) his popularity (as measured by an unbiased pollster, Rasmussen Reports) and (b) Americans’ view of the state of the nation (also as measured by Rasmussen).

This is worrying (or not) because it reflects sharply declining poll numbers for Trump, as against rising poll numbers for Obama at this stage 8 years ago:

And this is worrying (or not) because voters’ assessment of the state of the nation is well below where it was when Obama was reelected:

A piece of provisional good news is the possibility (to which I subscribe) of a quick turnaround in the economy. But don’t take my word for it. Consider this:

In early April, Jason Furman, a top economist in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard, was speaking via Zoom to a large bipartisan group of top officials from both parties. The economy had just been shut down, unemployment was spiking and some policymakers were predicting an era worse than the Great Depression. The economic carnage seemed likely to doom President Donald Trump’s chances at reelection.

Furman, tapped to give the opening presentation, looked into his screen of poorly lit boxes of frightened wonks and made a startling claim.

“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” he said….

“Everyone looked puzzled and thought I had misspoken,” Furman said in an interview. Instead of forecasting a prolonged Depression-level economic catastrophe, Furman laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever.

Since the Zoom call, Furman has been making the same case to anyone who will listen, especially the close-knit network of Democratic wonks who have traversed the Clinton and Obama administrations together, including top members of the Biden campaign.

Furman’s counterintuitive pitch has caused some Democrats, especially Obama alumni, around Washington to panic. “This is my big worry,” said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, “It’s high — high, high, high, high.”…

Furman’s case begins with the premise that the 2020 pandemic-triggered economic collapse is categorically different than the Great Depression or the Great Recession, which both had slow, grinding recoveries.

Instead, he believes, the way to think about the current economic drop-off, at least in the first two phases, is more like what happens to a thriving economy during and after a natural disaster: a quick and steep decline in economic activity followed by a quick and steep rebound….

Furman’s argument is not that different from the one made by White House economic advisers and Trump, who have predicted an explosive third quarter, and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who said in late April that “the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again.” White House officials were thrilled to hear that some of their views have been endorsed by prominent Democrats.

“I totally agree,” Larry Kudlow, head of the White House National Economic Council, replied in a text message when asked about Furman’s analysis. “Q3 may be the single best GDP quarter since regular data. 2nd half super big growth, transitioning to 4% or more in 2021.” He called Furman, whom he said he knows well, “usually a straight shooter. Hats off to him.”

“I have been saying that on TV as well,” said Kevin Hassett, a top Trump economic adviser, who pointed to a Congressional Budget Office analysis predicting a 21.5 percent annualized growth rate in the third quarter. “If CBO is correct we will see the strongest quarter in history after the weakest in Q2.”

Peter Navarro, a Trump trade and manufacturing adviser who’s a Harvard-educated economist, called the high unemployment America is currently facing “manufactured unemployment, which is to say that Americans are out of work not because of any underlying economic weaknesses but to save American lives. It is this observation that gives us the best chance and hope for a relatively rapid recovery as the economy reopens.”…

[A] former Obama White House official said, “Even today when we are at over 20 million unemployed Trump gets high marks on the economy, so I can’t imagine what it looks like when things go in the other direction. I don’t think this is a challenge for the Biden campaign. This is the challenge for the Biden campaign. If they can’t figure this out they should all just go home.”…

Between now and Election Day, there will be five monthly jobs reports, which are released on the first Friday of every month. The June report, covering May, is likely to show another increase in unemployment. But after that, Furman predicts, if reopening continues apace, the next four reports could be blockbusters. “You could easily have 1 to 2 million jobs created a month in those four reports before November,” he said.

He added, “And then toward the end of October, we will get GDP growth for the third quarter, at an annualized rate, and it could be double-digit positive economic growth. So these will be the best jobs and growth numbers ever.”…

Furman is an economist, but he had some strategic advice for the Biden campaign. “Don’t make predictions that could be falsified. There are enough terrible things to say you don’t need to make exaggerated predictions,” he said. “The argument that we are in another Great Depression will look like it was overstated. Trump can say, ‘Two million deaths didn’t happen, Great Depression didn’t happen, we are making a lot of progress.’”

The stock market reflects Furman’s (and my) assessment:

Give them jobs and their hearts, minds, and votes will follow.


Related posts:

Is a Perfect Electoral Storm Brewing?
“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”