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Berkeley Student And Trump Supporter Sues University For $23M Over Attacks By Liberal Protesters

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Berkeley Student And Trump Supporter Sues University For $23M Over Attacks By Liberal Protesters Conservative UC Berkeley student Kiara Robles accuses the university of "willfully withholding police manpower" because they disagree with conservative views. [ more › ]
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sfrazer
138 days ago
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Just another collegiate snowflake afraid of having her ideas tested in the marketplace.
Chicago
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wmorrell
138 days ago
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How precious.

Martin Shkreli Is Still Talking

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On a recent evening, Martin Shkreli was drinking beer at Tuttles, a bar in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan that has sticky wooden tables and sports playing on TV. He was taking a break from two activities that now consume much of his time: writing computer code for a new company he heads and meeting with his lawyers in anticipation of his upcoming criminal fraud trial.

See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

Related:
Is Wall Street Responsible for Our Economic Problems?
The Utterly Insufficient Efforts to Separate Trump from His Businesses
A Big Fine, and New Questions, on Deutsche Bank’s “Mirror Trades”
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sfrazer
195 days ago
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Turing, Godel. Funny how he doesn't name companies after himself.
Chicago
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cjmcnamara
195 days ago
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shared just for the headline

How Donald Trump Hypnotized Scott Adams

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In August 2015 viewers of the first Republican primary debate could be forgiven for thinking that Donald Trump was finished. “You’ve called women you don’t like…
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sfrazer
203 days ago
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Both of these are things he says:

He sucked at his job (formula errors in basic spreadsheets)

He was passed over for promotion because of "diversity initiatives"

I think that sums up Adams pretty well.
Chicago
acdha
202 days ago
That gave me pause earlier today: how many other guys like him are in the tech industry, slowly turning into right-wing cranks because the alternative is admitting that they're not the special snowflake of their self-image?
superiphi
200 days ago
not just guys though, this one's universal. Though blaming diversity is a prerogative of white men...
acdha
200 days ago
That's the key distinction for me: people get passed over for promotions all the time, but only white men of a certain bent have the default assumption that it was unfair. Most of us figure out at some point that we don't have much in common with the white men at the top either but some are never willing to see what's clearly in front of them.
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acdha
203 days ago
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Scott Adams, totally not an MRA despite signed copies of MRA books and the girlfriend half his age: “I don’t talk about where we met. People make judgments. We met the normal way people meet.”
Washington, DC

Socialism Is Bad

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I get a worrying sense that socialism is becoming cool again. You can see it all over social media where people brag about joining the Democratic Socialists of America, and in the popularity of the socialist magazine Jacobin. If Trump fails terribly, I worry that left populism will be what replaces it and the end result will be a more socialist U.S. That’s bad because socialism is bad. Given the growing popularity of socialism, I think it’s worth talking about why socialism is bad specifically.

Matt Bruenig has written a useful piece on socialism that I think is a jumping off point. As usual with Matt, it’s written with clarity and specificity that is appreciated. Unlike a lot o vague paeans to how socialism is good and we should have it, Matt offers specific plans for how we could get to government ownership of business.

The plan calls for the gradual socialization of existing companies, and Matt tells me on twitter that this would apply only to large firms. It may be appealing to think of a massive, centralized company like Apple and assume that it wouldn’t matter whether the government slowly became the sole shareholders. After all (ignoring the importance of options in executive compensation for the moment) the shareholders aren’t doing the innovating, the employees are. What does it matter who the dividend checks go to?

One issue is that the government would not just own but control companies, and this plan doesn’t tell us what they would do with that control. And yes, Matt does see this control as a benefit and not a cost to be avoided. Would Apple be free to innovate with the government controlling it? Or would they be forced to onshore all their production? It would be a lot easier for Trump to push Ivanka’s clothing line if the government owned and controlled Nodstrom, Sears, and K-Mart. It is hard to both desire control presumably as a means to some unspecified end and also to assume this control won’t have negative consequences for productivity.

Second, even if we could easily socialize every large company in the U.S. without negatively affecting them, this does not tell us about the future large companies who don’t exist yet. If socialism was in place in 1995 would we have Google today? If we were socialist in 1975 would we have Apple today? Why would small business founders grow their businesses knowing that this would cause them to be socialized? This is especially true given that you can’t socialize the globe at once and companies on the cusp of growing large enough to be socialized would be free to locate in, say, New Zealand.

Fast growing, small companies are a very important source of new job creation and innovation. More productive firms are more likely to grow, and less productive ones more likely to exist. Telling firms to stay small or be socialized is going to give small, successful companies incentive to avoid the important growth dynamics that are essential to a productive economy. To take one recent example for how costly inefficiencies like this can be, Garicano, Lelarge, and Van Reenan examine laws in France that affect only firms with 50 or more workers. They find that this creates more small firms than would otherwise be the case, and the distortions lower GDP by 3.5% by increasing unemployment and keeping productive firms below their optimal size.

Indeed, a broad literature shows that the inability of small successful companies to grow is an important factor that holds back economic development. Hsieh and Klenow show that in the U.S., as manufacturing firms age they get bigger. The effect can be seen in the graph below, from Charles Jones “The Facts of Economic Growth”.  Hsieh and Klenow estimate that if U.S. firms expanded as slowly as they do in India and Mexico, total factor productivity in the U.S. would be 25% lower.

klenow

Because he is Matt Bruenig, I know exactly how he will reply to this: if reducing firm size along some margin is bad, then making firms be bigger must be good so let’s just mandate all firms be large somehow. Of course this ignores the fact that it is not arbitrary size that is good, but a system that incentivizes the most productive firms to grow and the least productive to shrink or exist. It is the productivity increasing selection mechanism of capitalism that matters, and not just the mere outcome of firm size that should be mandated by politicians like some kind of dial to turn up or down.

Socialism is bad and it is bad that socialism is becoming cool again. Nevertheless I enjoy reading Matt Bruenig and other new socialists who clearly lay out their ideas for how it all would work. I think entrepreneurship, productivity, dynamism, and reallocation are first order factors for economic growth and socialists should address these issues. There are many other reasons why socialism is bad, but I think this is an important place to start.

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sfrazer
252 days ago
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Yeah, I'm seeing a lot of "socialism is bad" without much supporting evidence.

There's a middle-ground between 100% laissez-faire capitalism and complete government ownership of all businesses.
Chicago
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dukeofwulf
251 days ago
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People are rightly unnerved by companies with too much power, because we've seen how it can go wrong. Well, the largest company in the world by revenue is Walmart with $482 billion in revenue last FY. US government revenue in FY2016 was $3270 billion. Include state and local, and that jumps to $7030 billion.

One would think that, given the recent election, progressives would be backing away from philosophies that vests undue power in the government. We've just seen how easily those reins can be taken by a malefactor. We've also seen lots of large companies step up against that malefactor.
salsabob
251 days ago
duke, the vast majority of federal spending is for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - all that spending goes to individuals who then spend it in the private sector. Then there's Defense spending. Do you think Apple, Amazon or Google should be providing money to people instead? Do you believe they should be running our military? And at the local level, government spending goes almost entirely to schools, social services, roads, police and fire departments. You want Walmart to do that? Weird.
dukeofwulf
251 days ago
salsa, you're putting words in my mouth. I consider myself a moderate. Example: I support Dodd Frank and ACA, and think that neither went far enough. My point was that the US government is by far the largest organization on Earth, and it's fair to be skeptical of any attempt to increase its power further due to the risk of its abuse. - And yes, funds dedicated to SS, Medicare/Medicaid, schools, roads, etc are still under government discretion, and are a source of government power. I don't care if Amazon gets ripped off by their purchasing manager by giving a bid to their cousin, because I don't own Amazon; but if that happens to government, that's the people's money.
salsabob
244 days ago
dukeofwulf, your metric of government power ($'s spent) is just too simplistic particularly in regard to comparisons to the private sector. The public sector is not driven by profit motive or investors' best interest; instead, it is driven by poltical choice of the electorate - that's why most of government dollars go to safety nets and Defense spending at the federal level and schools and roads at the local level. No other entity is going to do that anywhere near the levels of the government because there is not enough PROFIT in it. What you are saying by confusing power with government spending is that you want less safety nets, less Defense, less education. less roads. If what you are concerned about is government power, you need metrics that address regulatory power. Whether you like it or not, Dodd Frank provides enormous government power and comparable at little actual government spending. The ACA is something in the middle, it has considerabe government spending in the form of subsidies to individuals buying health insurance and it provides considerable government regulatory power over the insurance sector. I'm just suggesting that if you become a tad clearer on what is actually power, you may find your government to be a tad less scary. On the other hand, if you delve into the power of information, you may find Amazon to be a tad more scary.
dukeofwulf
244 days ago
Uh... so you agree that the government has a scary amount of power, not only by the virtue of its massive budget but also due to its power to enact and enforce laws and regulations? You seem to be proving my point. Regardless, you continue to take my simple observation and expand it into a political philosophy that I simply don't hold.
kleer001
251 days ago
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Companies need to have lifespans like other living things. Different legal instars. Moultings and matings.
subbes
252 days ago
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this post is wrong :)
SF Bay Area

Facebook passwords are case insensitive

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sfrazer
278 days ago
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This is not nearly as bad as Amazon's old method. The headline is inaccurate as well: case isn't ignored, the entered password is retried with the case of all characters inverted.

There are 2 other transformations as well: invert only the first character, remove the last character.
Chicago
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fxer
278 days ago
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Reminds me of when Amazon truncated passwords to 8 chars and were case-insensitive due to the use of crypt()
http://www.techspot.com/news/42209-amazon-security-flaw-lets-you-log-in-with-wrong-password.html
Bend, Oregon
freeAgent
278 days ago
Fake news? I hope.

The Actual Reason Markets Do Not Work In Healthcare is... Pain!

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Today, David Brooks asks whether or not markets function well in the American health care system and he seems to think that, when it doesn't, it's largely because health care providers know so much more about health and wellbeing than health care consumers:

As you know, the American health care system is not like a normal market. When you make most health care decisions you don’t get much information on comparative cost and quality; the personal bill you get is only vaguely related to the services; the expense is often determined by how many procedures are done, not whether the problem is fixed.

You wouldn’t buy a phone this way.

The real issue is that you don't buy a phone because you are experiencing intense pain and discomfort and believe that the purchase of a phone would make the pain go away.  Buying a phone would be like buying health care if and only if somebody twisted your arm out of your socket and agreed to let go and reset you if and only if you present your credit card to the AT&T store.

Health care transactions are almost all performed under duress. Now, later on, Brooks says, "Patients on a gurney can’t really make normal choices..." but that's about it, and it's not even clear that he's talking about pain and discomfort here, he may mean that the patient has been anesthetized.

Maybe I'm weird, but I don't go to the doctor for every scrape, bruise or headache. I go once a year for a physical because it's the right thing to do and for a follow up if I am directed.  If I show up sick or hurt, I am really sick or hurt.  A limb has been damaged.  The flu is so bad I had a hard time even making it to his office.  Okay, I'll go in for a flu shot, but that's to prevent the pain that I know is coming if I don't.What I pay for such services is the functional equivalent of protection money.

When does the stock market not work?  When people are forced to sell stocks against their will.  A lot of the health care market functions as a market in crisis.  In the stock market, it's sellers forced out.  In the health care market, it's sufferers forced in.

Says Brooks:

Laser eye surgery produces more patient satisfaction than any other surgery. But it’s generally not covered by insurance, so it’s a free market. Twenty years ago it cost about $2,200 per eye. Now I see ads starting at $250 an eye.

Well, okay.  The market functions, over time, for elective procedures.  But let's not expect people to negotiate over serious, sometimes chronic conditions. Every time somebody suggests a market-driven health care solution, they are suggesting that patients negotiate with providers while under considerable duress. YIf you ever buy a phone that way, you're buying it from the mob.

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sfrazer
280 days ago
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"Twenty years ago it cost about $2,200 per eye. Now I see ads starting at $250 an eye" I'm 100% sure this model will work with cardiac arrest.
Chicago
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