Asshole of the week

Tyler Cowen’s partial solution on poverty in America as printed in the New York Times:

If we are looking for a remedy, a greater interest in strict religions would help many of the poor a lot — how about Mormonism for a start? Just look at the data. Many other religions prohibit or severely limit alcohol, drugs and gambling. That said, this has to happen privately rather than as a matter of state policy…..

h/t LGM

It has to be the individual’s fault.  There are the deserving and undeserving poor, and it can not be systemic. 

Will Tyler argue that the agnostic, aethestic or liberal Christian dominated areas of the Northeast are economic hellholes compared to the Southern Baptist Belt and counties with high concentrations of Southern Methodists?

Will Tyler argue that America in 1932 was a hedonistic waste land strewn with lazy layabouts, but something happened after September 1939, and more specifically during the Summer of 1940 that made America, or at least America’s mass unemployed see some religious revival during these time periods that led to rapid mass employment?

Did America suddently get more religious in 1996 compared to 1991 as the Slackers/Gen X were now getting stock options instead of making great music?

No, he is trying to blame the poor while not looking at his theory that there is no such thing as demand sided recessions.  It is so much easier to blame the poor for being poor instead of saying that inadequate demand means inadequate jobs which means “job attractiveness improvement” becomes an ever increasingly expensive positional game of crab bucket politics.

Nah — can’t have that thought as it could call into question too much….

So Tyler Cowen is the asshole of the week

84 replies
  1. 1
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    This is nothing new.

  2. 2
    Michael J. says:

    I bet his theory could mansplain this chart of wealth gap (TPM) if only he had more column inches…

  3. 3
    Chyron HR says:

    Shut up and sing recommend some pho restaurants.

  4. 4

    This is such obvious, easily disproved bullshit. How about if I blame poverty on aliens hijacking the planes leaving the chemtrails in the air? Will the Times interview me?

  5. 5
    MattF says:

    Cowen emits a ‘reasonable’ vibe– but what he actually says– not so much.

  6. 6
    Splitting Image says:

    Don’t be too quick to award him the prize. It’s only Thursday.

  7. 7
    Mudge says:

    “Opium of the people”: Marx. It also is good to remember that half the population is below average in the distribution of intelligence and virtues. And what about gambling, the opiate of the several states.

    I wonder if any religion prohibits being an asshole. Tyler should join.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    how about Mormonism for a start?

    Just say no. LDS is a gateway religion which leads to more hard core faiths.

  9. 9
    p.a. says:

    As if there’s no Mormon poor? What does he think their tithing is about? As ‘conservative’ as Mormons claim to be, many of the original attempts at (small scale) socialism were by Christian sects. The Mormons are good at it, overlaying a socialist support network on a capitalist base. The Chinese are succeeding (so far) too- merging aspects of capitalism and communism.

  10. 10
    gogol's wife says:

    That column was what made my blood pressure go up yesterday. He’s a “libertarian with a small ‘l.'” Inequality is just inevitable. The middle incomes are a thing of the past, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    Yes, there are things we can do about it, like we did through the mid-twentieth century. Let’s just do them again, jerk.

  11. 11
    gogol's wife says:

    Actually, I’m talking about yet another puff piece of Mr. Cowen, by Eduardo Porter in the Business section yesterday.

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:

    Yep, this is the answer……

    especially for the Black poor.

    why shouldn’t they embrace a religion that had, in many folks lifetimes, said that they were going to HELL..

    not for the deeds that they did while on Earth..

    but, just because they were born Black..

    yeah, I can see the appeal of such a religion…


  13. 13
    JPL says:

    Ben Carson was able to rise out of poverty by the aid the government provided his family and he agrees with Tyler because his family was deserving. The poor now a days not so much. I loathe these people.

  14. 14

    Cowen is (a) an instance of the soft bigotry of low expectations: right wing intellection is so bad that someone who can sound coherent is taken much more seriously than his/her actual argument merits. And (b) this is why the rich right’s drive towards credentializing crap has been so important. Cowen’s an economist! At a university (w. a right wing nut job econ dept)! So the New York Times can come calling. Admittedly, economics itself is a discipline shot through with intellectual gaps and wheezes, so Cowen and GMU are hardly outliers (looking at some folks I could name at Harvard, for example). (Cough, cough Alesina).

  15. 15
    Hawes says:

    Damnit! I was hoping this would finally be my week to win.

  16. 16


    It also is good to remember that half the population is below average in the distribution of intelligence and virtues.

    Not even. It could be that the vast majority are below average, with a small number of insanely intelligent and virtuous people bringing the average up. It’s possible that most people are morons.

    Of course, if the vast majority of Americans are morons, then probability dictates that I’d be… hmmm. I’ll just stop here.

  17. 17
    Rob in CT says:

    I’ve never understood why any liberals think Cowen is worth a damn. I think it’s the phenomenon Krugman describes wrt Paul Ryan: there must be reasonable conservatives! Cowen sounds kinda reasonable if you don’t pay too close attention, therefore Cowen is a reasonable conservative. Yeah, no.

    Speaking of reasonable conservatives, Sully put up this CS Lewis quote:

    Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.

    Sully has his faults, and so did Lewis. And I’m not a Christian. But I have to say that paragraph is pretty amazing when contrasted with present-day US social conservatism. Tip ‘o the hat to Sully today.

  18. 18
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @Hawes: try harder next week

  19. 19
    mm says:

    There are a lot of very rich Mormons. And if you’re poor and the president of your ward sees that you are participating in the church, you can get help with your rent or be able to get food from the Bishop’s Cupboard. They take care of their own which yes is socialism. No problem there.

    But Utah has the fourth highest rate of bankruptcy in the country. They used to be number one. You can google it.

    I’m not sure why, but I would guess that Mormons marry young and have a lot of children very quickly. That would put a strain on anybody’s budget.

    There are Jewish hospitals and Catholic hospitals all over the country. Where are the Mormon hospitals. Other faiths have charities that help everybody. The Mormons keep their money for themselves.

  20. 20
    geg6 says:

    The real question is when isn’t he?

  21. 21

    @Rob in CT: Knowing Sully, though, I wonder if he only posted that because Christian hangups about sex — specifically, who it’s okay to have sex with — can create problems for him. If it happened to other people, I can’t say for sure that he’d care.

    ETA: Posting this here because I’m too damn lazy to go to Sully’s site and check the context for myself.

  22. 22
    iami says:

    Cowen is a diagnosed Aspie (as are many other “libertarian intellectuals”). It often makes him come off as a sociopath, but it’s really just his inability to recognize and account for various nuances of the social interactions and expectations that dominate the worlds of “normal” folks.

  23. 23
    Matt McIrvin says:

    It’s a nice rhetorical trick: Mormonism is unusual among strict religions in the US, in that the area where it prevails is currently relatively well-off.

  24. 24
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Karen in GA: apparently it is a thing now for a few kids to douse themselves with alcohol, light themselves on fire, and post the video of themselves alight online. I’m fairly certain that the number of super intelligent people is offset by the number who are unfathomably the opposite.

  25. 25

    @Suffern ACE: Perhaps, but I’m inclined to view teenagers as outliers because hey, teenagers.

  26. 26
    Suffern ACE says:

    I would still go with Michelle Bachman as the asshole of the week. I suppose accusing the president of encouraging unaccompanied minors to enter the country to conduct medical experiments on them is different than the standard idea that he wants them to be voters, but the Obama as the new Mengele idea is twisted fantasy even considering the source.

  27. 27
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @iami: I can undertand and sympathize with that view, but this is purely an empirical matter at its heart (explain the difference in unemployment rate between 1933 and mid-summer 1941 without talking about demand side policies — you can’t)

  28. 28
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Karen in GA:

    Not even. It could be that the vast majority are below average, with a small number of insanely intelligent and virtuous people bringing the average up. It’s possible that most people are morons.

    Of course, if the vast majority of Americans are morons, then probability dictates that I’d be… hmmm. I’ll just stop here.

    This is actually a popular belief among libertarian-style rightists; they figure that the 1% are the smarties, and massive inequality is the inevitable result of just meritocracy.

    It also allows an essentialist rationale for any massive ethnic, racial and/or gender misproportion in an elite group. You just postulate that membership in the group requires a level of intelligence far, far above what an ordinary person can muster, and then figure that tiny inherent biological differences in capability, such as one might not notice among ordinary dopes, are being magnified by selection for the upper tail of geniuses.

  29. 29
    someofparts says:

    Also, for bonus points, fundamentalist religion is a form of organized human rights crimes against women.

  30. 30
    Thunderbird says:

    @Suffern ACE: Local news channel had a brief story about that on this morning’s broadcast, and I was so dumbfounded, all I could do was shake my head for about a minute.

  31. 31
    MattF says:

    @Suffern ACE: I’d put that in a different category. And then put that category in a padded cell.

  32. 32
    Cervantes says:

    Excellent choice.

    And this keeps him in the running for the annual award, too, yes?

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    @Matt McIrvin: They will say anything, won’t they? It’s embarrassing.

  34. 34
    someofparts says:

    @Karen in GA: I live in Georgia too, so we are looking at some of the same communities. Around here, your explanation makes a lot more sense than saying that half of the people you and I meet are above average.

  35. 35
    Cervantes says:

    @Rob in CT: Quoting:

    That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.

    C. S. Lewis actually read the New Testament.

  36. 36
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Richard Mayhew: Maybe she can’t, but I can. This is not to say I can do it intelligently, just that I am at least as good as any Republican or Libertarian.

  37. 37
    Cervantes says:

    @Tom Levenson: What’s your particular beef with Alesina?

  38. 38

    @Matt McIrvin: But then, libertarians equate income with intelligence and virtue. Whereas in my made-up world, hyper-intelligent, hyper-virtuous people are happily living in huts and houseboats, figuring out ways to make the world a better place for all. It’s just that their test results blow the curve.

    (There are also soft, fluffy unicorns that shit rainbows.)

    Now, if you wanted to talk about half the population being below the median, I’m all for that.

  39. 39
    WaterGirl says:

    @Suffern ACE: I am trying to make sense of that. So do they burn and die? Or does the alcohol burn out so fast that they aren’t really hurt?

  40. 40

    @someofparts: To be fair, I grew up in Brooklyn, and except for the accents and the speed at which everyone talked, it was pretty similar. Specifically, I’m from roughly the same area where they filmed Saturday Night Fever. Remember the idiots portrayed in that movie? I do. I was surrounded by them.

    So the two places where I’ve spent most of my life have been full of morons. On a good day, I can remind myself that two places is a pretty small sample size, and that extrapolating from that is a bad idea. On a bad day I have no hope for humanity. Fun!

  41. 41
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @WaterGirl: In my misspent youth some, ahem, friends, would dip their hand in rubbing alcohol and light it. It burns out very quickly, before any pain can be caused. Or so they told me.

    This was a long time ago.

  42. 42
    WaterGirl says:

    @Gin & Tonic: You really did that?

    I did a lot of stupid things, myself, so I am not judging.

  43. 43
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Karen in GA: My fluffy liberal fantasy is more that most folks (even those of low measurable IQ) are basically all right, it’s just that the people with a particular sort of aggressive “hold my beer and watch this” dumbassitude can cause so much trouble. They’re blowing the stupidity curve. Just as the minority of aggressively evil people (and there’s considerable overlap with the other group) can cause evil far out of proportion to their numbers.

    The truth’s probably somewhere in between.

    There are age-related elements as well. Self-destructively stupid behavior seems to disproportionately manifest in teenagers and young adults, whereas the kind of IGMFY attitude that can destroy society as a whole tends to build with age.

  44. 44
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @WaterGirl: No comment.

    My only point is that there isn’t much new under the sun, especially when it comes to stupid teenagerhood.

  45. 45
    Ruckus says:

    My question is not, Is he worthy of the title, Asshole of the Week, it’s how do you decide on an award like this? There are so many obvious candidates to choose from, how do you narrow it down to just one person. You have the morons who aren’t smart enough to operate a gun reasonably, you have the politicians who view believe it’s their job to fuck over their constituents(and the rest of us as well), you have the morons who think that because we had an ice age and it’s aftermath-a warming we don’t affect the climate at all, you have the racists and pro-lifers who have to inflict their bullshit upon others to make their humble little lives seem worthwhile, you have the selfish who have to amass so much wealth that they couldn’t use in 50 lifetimes-let alone the 10-20 yrs they have left…….
    Need I go on?

  46. 46

    @Matt McIrvin: I like your theory better. Not sure which of us is right, but yours makes me happier.

  47. 47

    @someofparts: Mind if I ask what part of GA?

  48. 48
    john fremont says:

    As Barry Ritholtz asked Senators Kyl and Bunning when they started saying that the UI benefits were making people lazy and that and not structural issues with the economy was the explanation for the persistently high unemployment numbers after the the Wall Street Bailout:

    How would you explain the epidemic laziness that apparently afflicts Americans exactly at business cycle peaks, which is then somehow miraculously cured at business
    cycle troughs

    Tyler Cowen’s argument reminds me of Senators Kyl and Bunning stating a few years back that unemployment remained high in the US because UI benefits were too generous. The so called Funemployment hypothesis that some economists were discussing. In short, the unemployed have only themselves to blame. Barry Ritholtz spoke to this saying

  49. 49
    Belafon says:

    @john fremont: Announcers voice: “Wait until next time for the exciting conclusion.”

  50. 50

    When is Tyler Cowen not an asshole? That is his natural state of being. He is McCardle with the econ PhD. Always wrong and smug about it.

  51. 51
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cervantes: The thing about the Bell Curve type of right-elitism is that it’s easy for any bright kid to rediscover, it’s actually quite difficult to argue against, and you can tart it up with some math to make it look smart. So it basically never goes away.

    There’s also the associated “The Marching Morons”/”Idiocracy” idea (which has no evidential support, yet is endlessly seductive) that in modern society stupidity is reproductively selected for, so the gene pool is deteriorating unless we Do Something.

    I think part of it is the way we raise and herd teenagers. Almost everyone who suffered through an American high school has this intuitive feeling instilled in adolescence that the vast majority of people are complete morons, but they’re different. I think it’s partly because being a teenager just makes some people really obnoxious, and partly because high school is an environment in which obnoxious people are hard to get away from and can cause a disproportionate amount of grief. And in the mind of a teenager, “some obnoxious people” can easily grow into “almost everybody.”

    Liberals and conservatives and libertarians, they all get this feeling and respond to it in their own ways. Especially when you’re losing (and capital-L Libertarians are basically always losing), the political opposition gets identified with the moron masses. Popular culture and political ideas that pander to that feeling have a leg up. Consider how often young-adult fiction uses the “Chosen One” concept, or the idea of the persecuted young hero pushing against a toxically stupid dystopia.

  52. 52

    @Cervantes: I don’t know what beef Tikka’s minion has with Alessina but Alessina’s work on fiscal deficit was intellectually dishonest and mathematically shoddy. He argued with his coauthor that cutting deficits grows an economy.

  53. 53
    Rob in CT says:

    @Karen in GA:

    Oh, that’s pretty much a given. Hardline Christian teaching about sexuality is a real problem if you’re a gay guy like Sully.

    It’s generally true that he typically only “gets it” if there is some clear connection to himself. This is a fault of his, but it’s a fault of a LOT of us. Empathy requires work. Sully sometimes even puts in that work. Sometimes he faceplants.

    I did appreciate Lewis’ turn of phrase (cold, self-righteous prig).

  54. 54

    @Rob in CT: He never does get it where women are concerned, though. He is quite a misogynist pig, really.

  55. 55
    Rob in CT says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    That’s well-said, and I recognize quite a bit of my own thinking over the years in that post. I loved Idiocracy, for instance (though I recognize that no such genetic dumbing trend is actually underway). We all want to think we’re smarter/better than others.

    Go away! ‘Batin!

  56. 56
    Suffern ACE says:

    @WaterGirl: I think its supposed to burn off really fast and just singe a few hairs – look more dangerous as it is. And that is all good and well – until it isn’t.

    Hey, look. I used to think it was cool to light aerosol hairspray and pretend it was a flamethrower. So I really shouldn’t judge, but still…

  57. 57
    Rob in CT says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Not to mention his love of Charles Murray…

  58. 58

    Cowen is a diagnosed Aspie (as are many other “libertarian intellectuals”). It often makes him come off as a sociopath, but it’s really just his inability to recognize and account for various nuances of the social interactions and expectations that dominate the worlds of “normal” folks.

    @iami: Asberger’s is no longer a recognized disorder, so I’m just going to with the explanation that was obvious from the get-go and say this guy’s a full-throttle asshole who gets off on being cruel to those beneath him.

  59. 59

    @Rob in CT: A racist and a misogynist pig, then. How lovely.

  60. 60
    the Conster says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    She’s not an asshole, she’s a crazy-eyed loon.

  61. 61
    Cervantes says:

    @WaterGirl: Some have been seriously injured.

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:

    @Ruckus: You’re right: at some point it becomes an arbitrary choice, primus inter pares at best.

  63. 63
    Cervantes says:

    @john fremont: Quoting:

    How would you explain the epidemic laziness that apparently afflicts Americans exactly at business cycle peaks, which is then somehow miraculously cured at business cycle troughs

    You should say how they responded.

  64. 64
    someofparts says:

    and yeah, probability dictates … yep, I’m probably one of ’em …

    Matt McIrvin – well, thanks for the sobering perspective – time to re-think what I think … again, and again and ….

  65. 65
    Cervantes says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    it’s actually quite difficult to argue against

    There have been some good counters. Stephen Jay Gould’s, for one.

    But I guess maybe your point is that, for too many people on one side of that self-same Bell Curve, the bad argument is easier and more comforting to accept; whereas the valid argument is obnoxious and therefore difficult to follow.

  66. 66
    drkrick says:


    Asberger’s is no longer a recognized disorder

    This is not accurate. What is true is that in the latest version of the DSM the symptoms previously identified as Asperger’s are now classified as part of autism spectrum disorder. That’s a labeling change in a document that’s as much a billing code reference as anything else, not reversal of recognition of the disorder.

    That said, as an Aspie and the father of an Aspie I can tell you that the disorder is about difficulty in decoding and processing social input. As a group, we’re odd but not hateful. Lack of empathy isn’t part of the package although difficulty in targeting and expressing it appropriately can be. We’re no more or less likely to be assholes than neurotypical people.

  67. 67
    Mike in NC says:

    If the asshole is an economist at GMU, then he’s a paid stooge for the Koch Brothers, just like the entire department.

  68. 68
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @someofparts: I should add that I think it’s culturally bound. The whole set of emotions and ideas–“most people are really stupid, but I’m different”–seems prevalent throughout the English-speaking world, but less so elsewhere.

    Though it also seems to pop up a lot in emigres from the formerly Communist world who are having extreme reactions to Communist ideology, and its association with stifling political regimes (see Rand, Ayn).

    I also remember hearing that the support among psychometricians for an ineradicable genetic basis for group differences in intelligence was a largely Anglo-American phenomenon.

  69. 69
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Arguing with dipshit like this guy is like arguing with an ammosexual: the obvious answer to poverty is anything but unfucking the system that is gamed toward making the filthy rich even richer, and they won’t touch that. Just as with the gun fetishists, anything but guns has to be the real reason behind mass murders or gun violence…mental illness, video games, failure for everyone to brandish weapons at all times, etc.

  70. 70
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cervantes: Yeah, though Gould was a controversial figure for other reasons, so citations of his arguments tend to devolve into personal arguments about Gould.

    One of his historical claims, that Samuel George Morton (possibly unconsciously) fudged his measurements of human skull capacity, seems refuted by some recent re-analysis, which led a lot of people to argue that Gould’s whole line of argument should be mistrusted.

  71. 71

    @Rob in CT:

    It’s generally true that he typically only “gets it” if there is some clear connection to himself. This is a fault of his, but it’s a fault of a LOT of us. Empathy requires work. Sully sometimes even puts in that work. Sometimes he faceplants.

    I see what you’re saying, and I agree in general — even the kindest people faceplant from time to time. But as others pointed out, Sully’s also got the misogyny and the Charles Murray fanboi thing going on. He faceplants an awful lot.

  72. 72
    DuggleBogey says:

    Islam is such a religion.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    I see that Cowen finally got around to seeing Book of Mormon. Everyone knows that this is the plot of the play, right? White Mormon dude solves Africa’s problems by converting them to his version of Mormonism.

    Of course, the play is an absurdist comedy (it’s co-written by the “South Park” guys and Bobby Lopez, now of Frozen fame), but I’m not surprised that a libertarian has trouble understanding the difference between fiction and fact.

  74. 74
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Karen in GA: In a just society, being a Charles Murray fanboi would be a capital crime.

  75. 75
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    Entertaing, and shocking DeLong piece this morning:

    Neel Kashkari — who has proven himself an extremely reliable and conscientious employee in the past — spends a week in Fresno. He tries and fails to find [any] work. Someone whose market wage is in the seven figures — he is not a “zero marginal product” middle-aged male worker. And yet…

    You’ll be shocked, shocked to read the lessons Neel draws from his experience.


  76. 76
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Neel is very obviously an intelligent person, but is also an utter idiot. What, the solution is fewer regulations? Draws precisely the wrong conclusions from his experience.

  77. 77
    hoodie says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Perhaps the key is understanding the difference between stupidity and ignorance. In terms of intelligence, I would imagine Americans cluster around the mean in a roughly Gaussian distribution, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a multimodal distribution in knowledge due to such things as the tribal nature of human interaction and other environmental factors. Ignorance is a force multiplier for the aggressively stupid or other pathological types.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:


    As I said before, one of my (strongly Democratic) co-workers was horrified to discover that Kashkari was actually the least insane Republican running for governor. This was after Kashkari’s I really really really love guns! commercial.

  79. 79
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Cowan is giving us a rather gruesome rewrite on Marie Antoinette:

    “The poor have no bread.”

    “Then let them eat Jesus.”

  80. 80
    slag says:

    @DuggleBogey: That was my very first thought. My second thought was wondering out how he managed to keep “Join Islam” off his to-do list for the poors. Not clicking over to find out.

  81. 81
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Mike in NC:

    If the asshole is an economist at GMU, then he’s a paid stooge for the Koch Brothers, just like the entire department.

    He does double duty at Mercatus, the GMU wing that doesn’t claim to be anything other than a political bullshit factory.

    Complete Koch. And obvious sociopath.

  82. 82
    Funkula says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: Do you have any idea how many times a day you have to take communion to get a decent meal?

  83. 83
    john fremont says:

    @Cervantes: I found the blog post from a few years ago from where that quote came from:

    While I don’t know if Senators Kyl and Bunning ever addressed the point raised by Ritholtz’s guest blogger or Paul Krugman, most of the Tea Party commenters there recycled the same old, same old. FREX, Europe’s lavish UI benefits, anecdotes about that one sister-in-law that didn’t look for work while on UI etc. Typical responses from them, ignore the question being asked, hand wave, and rely on anecdotes. What was lost on them is that UI is an insurance policy that people use when looking for work and that they paid into. What’s wrong with filing claims when the jobs aren’t there? Again, the tea party types just hand wave and tell anecdotes.

  84. 84
    Cervantes says:

    @john fremont: Thanks. I had not seen that post at Ritholtz’s place. I’m as certain as one can be about these things that neither Kyl or Bunning ever addressed the question.

    I also agree with that last line about common decency — a quantity always in shorter supply than its name might suggest.

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