Today’s Must Read- “The Nationalist’s Delusion”

This Adam Serwer piece on the economic anxiety myth should be a must read for everyone. It’s such a good piece that it is hard to figure out what to quote, so let’s just start from the top:

THIRTY YEARS AGO, nearly half of Louisiana voted for a Klansman, and the media struggled to explain why.

It was 1990 and David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, astonished political observers when he came within striking distance of defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, earning 43 percent of the vote. If Johnston’s Republican rival hadn’t dropped out of the race and endorsed him at the last minute, the outcome might have been different.

Was it economic anxiety? The Washington Post reported that the state had “a large working class that has suffered through a long recession.” Was it a blow against the state’s hated political establishment? An editorial from United Press International explained, “Louisianans showed the nation by voting for Duke that they were mad as hell and not going to take it any more.” Was it anti-Washington rage? A Loyola University pollster argued, “There were the voters who liked Duke, those who hated J. Bennett Johnston, and those who just wanted to send a message to Washington.”

What message would those voters have been trying to send by putting a Klansman into office?

“There’s definitely a message bigger than Louisiana here,” Susan Howell, then the director of the Survey Research Center at the University of New Orleans, told the Los Angeles Times. “There is a tremendous amount of anger and frustration among working-class whites, particularly where there is an economic downturn. These people feel left out; they feel government is not responsive to them.”

Duke’s strong showing, however, wasn’t powered merely by poor or working-class whites—and the poorest demographic in the state, black voters, backed Johnston. Duke “clobbered Johnston in white working-class districts, ran even with him in predominantly white middle-class suburbs, and lost only because black Louisianans, representing one-quarter of the electorate, voted against him in overwhelming numbers,” The Washington Post reported in 1990. Duke picked up nearly 60 percent of the white vote. Faced with Duke’s popularity among whites of all income levels, the press framed his strong showing largely as the result of the economic suffering of the white working classes. Louisiana had “one of the least-educated electorates in the nation; and a large working class that has suffered through a long recession,” The Post stated.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Mandates and hardship exemption thresholds

The Senate tax bill may be taking a whack at the individual mandate for health insurance.  There are two very different analysis of the impacts.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) thinks that this is a big deal.  They project a savings of $338 billion dollars over ten years and 13 million more people being uninsured.  The savings is a direct function of lost enrollment.  Standard and Poor does not think this is a big deal.

 We estimate that repealing the penalty will increase the number of insured by about 3 million-5 million by 2027, and save the federal government about $60 billion-$80 billion over the next 10 years. Our impact analysis of this repeal is lower than the recent analysis published by the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO; November 2017). The CBO has forecasted 13 million more uninsured in 2027 and $338 billion of reduced federal deficit over the next 10 years. The key difference between our estimate and the CBO forecast has to do with the Medicaid and Individual insured market segments. “Our estimates are lower because we believe that it is not the mandate penalty, but the intrinsic financial incentives available to most eligible enrollees that drive enrollment in these two markets,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Deep Banerjee.

Fundamentally, the difference lies in how important the “taste for compliance matters” and how many people an analyst will assume will be a reverse Woodworker.  In 2012, 2013, 2014, there was a lot of discussion about people who had always been eligible for Medicaid but were not signed up for Medicaid. Some of them would come out of the “woodwork” to sign up because health care and health insurance became far more salient.  The analytical question is how many people who are currently signed up would not sign up absent the mandate.

One of the arguments made by many liberal health wonks is that the mandate is too damn weak. It is 2.5% of income or $695 per year per adult without coverage for the year. It is capped at the price of an average Bronze plan. There are also numerous exemptions. The biggest exemption is the affordability exemption. The IRS exempts individuals from the mandate if there is no Bronze plan that costs less than 8.05% of income.

On for 2018, this means the mandate exemption has wildly variant thresholds. Almost the entire country, a single 40 year old has to pay the mandate tax if they make more than $100,000. However, 566 counties on have a mandate exemption less than 400% FPL ($48,080 for a single individual). Here the calculation is whether total healthcare costs plus the mandate penalty are less than the total premiums even after receiving subsidies. Approximately another 1,000 counties have a mandate exemption ranging from 400% to 500% FPL ($60,100). This is well over half of the counties. Another 500 counties have a mandate exemption up to 600% FPL. The rest of the counties have exemptions at 600%-1,200% FPL for a single 40 year old.

If we only look at 21 year olds, the mandate has bite at lower incomes as premiums are geared at a 3:1 ratio. The mandate is almost toothless for 64 year olds because of the 3:1 premium gearing.

This is a behavioral economics problem more than a simple cost accounting problem as the mandate is fairly weak and where it is pervasive, there are significant subsidies available. I don’t know how much of an impact removing the mandate is on a psychological basis.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Speaking of Marathons…

(Drew Sheneman via

Been sitting on this, but it feels like we can use a little positive feminism right now. From the NYTimes, “How the ‘Shalane Flanagan Effect’ Works”:

When Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon [November 5th], her victory was about more than just an athletic achievement. Of course, it’s a remarkable one: She’s the first American woman to win in 40 years, and she did so in a blistering 2 hours 26 minutes.

But perhaps Flanagan’s bigger accomplishment lies in nurturing and promoting the rising talent around her, a rare quality in the cutthroat world of elite sports. Every single one of her training partners — 11 women in total — has made it to the Olympics while training with her, an extraordinary feat. Call it the Shalane Effect: You serve as a rocket booster for the careers of the women who work alongside you, while catapulting forward yourself…

Here’s how it worked until Flanagan burst onto the scene. After college, promising female distance athletes would generally embark on aggressive training until they broke down. Few of them developed the staying power required to dominate the global stage. And they didn’t have much of a community to support them; domestic women’s distance running was fractious and atrophied. In 2000, for example, only one American woman qualified for the Olympic marathon, after training alone in her Anchorage home on a treadmill.

But things changed after 2009, when Flanagan joined Jerry Schumacher’s fledgling running group in Portland, Ore., called the Bowerman Track Club. She was the team’s lone woman, and worked with him to create something new: a team of professional female distance runners who would train together and push one another to striking collective success. They were coached by a man and surrounded mostly by male runners, but over time Flanagan and her teammates outperformed the men in the national and global arenas.

Instead of being threatened by her teammates’ growing accomplishments, Flanagan embraced them, and brought in more women, elevating them to her level until they become the most formidable group of distance athletes in the nation. National championships, world championships, Olympics: They became some of the best runners in the world…

To be sure, Flanagan’s unapologetic competitiveness is not universally popular, but she is respected for it. Flanagan boldly acknowledged the work she put into her marathon training and was unabashed about wanting to win before the race. Her victory in New York involved fist-pumping and profanity-laced affirmations as she crossed the finish line in front of millions of viewers.

We usually see competitive women, particularly athletically excellent women, only in one of two ways: either competing to defeat one another, or all about team over self. But that’s a flawed, limiting paradigm. The Shalane Effect dismantles it: She is extraordinarily competitive, but not petty; team-oriented, but not deferential. Elevating other women is actually an act of self-interest: It’s not so lonely at the top if you bring others along…


Apart from remembering that teamwork is good for all participants (not least during the countdown to Thanksgiving) what’s on the agenda for the day?

And Conyers

Another shoe drops:

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.

We need to see all of them, and now.

Open Thread: Viva Puerto Rico!

The Republican Party forced Donald Trump on the rest of us; now it looks like he’ll destroy the Republican Party in return…

In the wish lists of Democratic strategists, one imagines the arrival of tens of thousands of Democratic-leaning voters to Florida, seemingly overnight, ranks pretty high.

Two months after Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, new data suggests that’s exactly what’s happened.

Figures on school enrollment provided to CNN from the Florida Department of Education suggest that well over 50,000 Puerto Ricans will have moved to Florida and made it their residence heading into the midterm election next year.

These voters are likely to be strong Democrat supporters, as an analysis by Dan Smith, a University of Florida professor, found that heavily-Puerto Rican districts only gave 15 to 35% support to Trump…

“The demographic change to Florida has the potential to affect Federal and state elections,” said Michael McDonald, professor of political science at the University of Florida, who maintains the United States Election Project. When the 2020 Census is released, continued population growth in the areas where Puerto Ricans live will likely mean more districts at the state and Congressional levels are drawn favorably for Democrats, he added.

Several news articles show that already more than 150,000 people have moved to Florida from Puerto Rico. But those figures are likely too high, say experts following the migration. Numbers in that range are often provided by the Florida Division of Emergency Management but only count travel through Florida airports from Puerto Rico. They do not show the number of people who have moved to Florida and settled there, which is more important to understanding who will vote there…

Texas is getting a lot of migrants from the island, too.

Of course I’d much rather all these people didn’t have to suffer needlessly because the current Oval Office occupant is a selfish prick. But organizing desperate voters to get what they need from an unresponsive government is one of the Democratic Party’s best skill sets…

Every rose has its thorn

Sorry, Charlie:

Eight women have told The Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.

Can’t say I’m surprised. I remember him drooling over Penelope Cruz in the most cringe-worthy manner on 60 Minutes once.

Always hated the guy. I’m partial to drunks but he took it a little too far on air.

Here’s thing with him and his ilk. Act like a fucking professional! Perv on all the women you want to on your own time but not when you’re working with them or worse yet when they work for you and certainly not when you’re on tv. Drink all you want but don’t show up for work visibly hung over every damn day. I guess I’m from the old school when it comes to doing your job.

Update. I didn’t mean Rose could grope women on his own time, that’s assault. I just mean if you want to hit on women in a clumsy way, do it at a bar, not at your workplace. People deserve a workplace that is free from having to deal with that kind of shit.

Fat Cat

My nightly ritual, shortly after feeding Steve, he informs me his meal was not enough:

He’s amazing.