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Covid 19

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/16/2020

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/10/200pm-water-cooler-10-16-2020.html

Unmistakable rise in all regions now, including the Northeast. Ugh. Super-ugh. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…

“U.S. Virus Cases Climb Toward a Third Peak” [New York Times]. • From earlier this week, but readers who follow these charts will remember that I’ve been remarking on this, in my quiet way, since the curves first turned upwards.

Unmistakable rise everywhere. Including Texas, in the past few days.

College: “Off-campus “super-spreader” event linked to 125 virus cases at Monmouth University” [CBS]. “Through extensive contact tracing, the rise in cases was linked to a single event held about two weeks ago, Monmouth president Patrick Leahy wrote Friday. This event was held off-campus, although school officials did not specify what kind of event it was, only calling it a ‘social gathering.’” • Which is ridiculous, since now we cannot add to our store of types of locations or social settings to avoid! College administrators are just the worst.

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. September 9: No changes. September 14: No changes. September 21: No changes. September 22: Ohio moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. September 25: Ohio moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. September 30: Iowa moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. October 3: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican; Iowa moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. October 6: Arizona moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic; Iowa from Leans Republican to Toss-up; Indiana from Likely to Safe Republican; New Mexico from Likely to Safe Democratic. October 8: NE-2 moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. October 13: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. October 16: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican.I would say the election is no longer static.

Here is an early voting calendar. Maybe we’ll have a whole series of October surprises, since election day is gradually being devalued as an event.

“How to Vote in 2020: Everything You Need to Know” [Bloomberg]. “Casting a ballot in the U.S. isn’t always easy, with a complex web of varying state rules governing how and when you can vote. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced even more complexity in 2020, as many states have made significant changes to allow for more early voting or voting by mail. More changes could come as lawsuits in several states wind their way through the courts. That’s why Bloomberg News is answering these critical questions so you’ll know what you need to do to make sure your vote is counted in the 2020 election.”

Here are is an enormous spreadsheet on voting equipment, so you can check your own jurisdiction (hat tip, UserFriendly. I should really aggregate these onto a map…).

“California Ballots Mailed and Returned Tracker” [Political Data]. • California only, sadly.

NEW “Where’s My Ballot?” [Alex Padilla]. “Tracking your vote-by-mail ballot—when it is mailed, received, and counted—has never been easier. The California Secretary of State is now offering Where’s My Ballot?—a new way for voters to track and receive notifications on the status of their vote-by-mail ballot. Powered by BallotTrax, Where’s My Ballot? lets voters know where their ballot is, and its status, every step of the way.” • Ballottrax. Shoulda gone long….

“State Fact Sheets” [Georgetown Universitty]. “[F]act sheets for all 50 states explaining the laws barring unauthorized private militia groups and what to do if groups of armed individuals are near a polling place or voter registration drive.”

All the deadlines, rules, and voting hours to know when casting your ballot in the 2020 presidential election” [Business Insider]. “Here are 12 interactive graphics, charts, and maps Insider created to answer your most common questions about voting in 2020.”

Swing States

Here is my list of Swing States, with votes in the Electoral College and selected ballot initiatives in parentheticals):

  • Arizona (11) (marijuana; taxes(=)
  • Colorado (9) (taxes, lottery, abortion, paid medical leave)
  • Florida (29) (minimum wage)
  • Georgia (16) (declaratory relief)
  • Iowa (6) (Constitional convention)
  • Maine-02 (1) (vax)
  • Michigan (16) (oil and gas royalties; privacy)
  • Minnesota (10)
  • Nebraska-02 (1) (payday lending; gambling)
  • Nevada (6) (marriage)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • North Carolina (15)
  • Ohio (18)
  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Texas (38)
  • Wisconsin (10)

Inspired by the thread starting with Arizona Slim’s comment here, I went to Ballotpedia and added selected, hopefully hot button, ballot initiatives, because sometimes they affect turnout. If you live in a swing state, please comment if I got the hot buttons wrong!

“Trump, Biden shower ad money on Phoenix, Philadelphia, Florida’s I-4 corridor in final stretch [USA Today]. “Biden outspent Trump 2-to-1 on television ads in North Carolina and Florida, 3-to-1 in Michigan and 4-to-1 in Pennsylvania, according to Advertising Analytics…. Ground zero this year is a handful of crucial television markets in Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Florida is the biggest ad magnet. The tipping point of the perennial swing state runs along Interstate 4 from Tampa to Orlando, a belt that holds pockets of elderly voters, suburban women, Latinos, military service members – each among the demographic slices targeted to win the presidential race.”

CO: “Colorado reports ‘bonkers’ increase of 2,400 percent in early voting” [The Hill]. “More than 300,000 Colorado voters have already cast their ballots for the Nov. 3 elections, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Thursday. Griswold announced the news in a tweet, adding that this number was ’24 times more than at this point in 2016.’… The numbers from the secretary of state’s office also indicated a gap in early voting between Republicans and Democrats in the state. Of those who had voted by Wednesday evening, 46 percent were registered Democrats, although voter registration data shows that they make up only 30 percent of registered voters in the state.”

FL: “The fight for Florida may hinge on senior voters” [CNN]. “The fight for the senior vote is punctuated by the fact that Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, are jockeying for support among their own peers. Nearly one in four eligible voters this fall are 65 and older, according to estimates from the Pew Research Group, which is the highest in more than four decades. And considering seniors are far more disciplined about voting than their children or grandchildren, the voting bloc is even more critical to win over…. Once again in Florida, signs of an exceedingly tight race are plentiful, with passionate support for Trump on display from flagpoles to front yards. Trump admirers say they are more driven than ever to help reelect the President, who they say is being unfairly blamed for the coronavirus. ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous,’ said Ann Aleksinas, 80, who stopped to chat as she carried her library book along the shopping district of Vero Beach. ‘It’s a pandemic that’s all over the world, it has nothing to do with President Trump. He’s done his very, very best to protect the American people.’

She said she does not believe seniors will abandon Trump, declaring: ‘They’ve been around the world a few more times. They can see what’s going on.’ A question holding a critical piece to the November puzzle is just how many Trump supporters from 2016 have soured on the President. Trump campaign aides say it is only a sliver of his supporters and point to major voter registration gains among Republicans to close any gap.” • I’ve seen the argument that I’d rather be ahead in the polls than registration. But that assumes the pols aren’t gamed or, more subtly, Frank’s “airtight consensus” in the elites turning every poll into a push poll. (I left out the quote from the CNN reporter who questioned Democrat door-knockers about what Seniors were thinking. Come on.)

MI: “Michigan bans open carry of guns inside and near polling places” [Detroit News]. “Michigan is prohibiting the open carry of guns within 100 feet of polling places amid fears of voter intimidation during the pivotal Nov. 3 election, prompting criticism and the possibility a lawsuit from Second Amendment advocates. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent guidance to local election officials on Friday — 18 days before Election Day — to clarify that the open carry of firearms on Election Day in polling places, clerk’s offices and absent voter counting boards is banned. ‘The presence of firearms at the polling place, clerk’s office(s), or absent voter counting board may cause disruption, fear or intimidation for voters, election workers and others present,’ the new guidance says.”

PA: “Pa. has rejected 372,000 ballot applications — most of them duplicates — bewildering voters and straining officials” [Inquirer]. “Pennsylvania has rejected 372,000 requests for mail ballots, straining election offices and bewildering voters in one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds in the presidential election…. More than 90% of those applications, or about 336,000, were denied as duplicates, primarily because people who had requested mail ballots for the state’s June 2 primary did not realize they had checked a box to be sent ballots for the general election, too. Voters have also been baffled by unclear or inaccurate information on the state’s ballot-tracking website, and by a wave of mail ballot applications from political parties and get-out-the-vote groups. County offices across the state have been forced to hire temporary staff and work seven days a week to cope with the confusion…. Though it may deter some people from voting, the mass rejection of ballot applications is unlikely to have a big effect on turnout. Voters who submitted duplicate applications should eventually receive a ballot. Those who don’t can still vote at the polls on Election Day.”

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Biden says crime bill was a ‘mistake’ during ABC town hall” [The Hill]. • That’s the headline the editor wrote. But (1):

A member of Biden’s campaign later took to Twitter to clarify that Biden was speaking of a 1986 crime bill that included mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

VP Biden was talking about the ’86 crime bill – that’s the one that included mandatory minimums for drug offenses (in fact, the 1994 crime bill did not), which was what VP and George were discussing. https://t.co/Me7UOcQ1wR

— Stef Feldman (@StefFeldman) October 16, 2020

Biden’s support for the 1994 crime bill during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has drawn criticism over the course of his presidential campaign.

Oh. But (2), what Biden said. The transcript;

George Stephanopoulus: (32:49): In the meantime, an awful lot of people were jailed for minor drug crimes after the Crime Bill.

Joe Biden: (32:53) Right.

George Stephanopoulus: (32:54) Was it a mistake to support it?

Joe Biden: (32:55)

Yes, it was. But here’s where the mistake. The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally.

To their credit, the Hill reporter reported this correctly. But not the editor who wrote the headline. (And how the heck does Biden get to escape responsbility for drafting a bill where the states and localities would undo, presumably, the goals of his legislation?

UPDATE Biden (D)(2):

“A vote does not equal support” seems like an odd theory of democracy.

Buttigieg (D)(1): West Wing Brain:

Can’t do brunch if you’re feeling pressure! (Sad to say, I think a lot of voters find this pitch appealing; it’s connected to the liberal Democrat thirst for decorum.)

Trump (R)(1): “Trump rages at allies as potential October surprises fizzle” [CNN]. I’m not a mind-reader so I’ll leave the emotion out of it. Nevertheless: “The developments he not-so-secretly hoped might resuscitate his political chances — from a pre-election coronavirus vaccine to a damning trove of Justice Department findings to a massive new stimulus package complete with another round of checks emblazoned with his signature — have all faded in likelihood.” • Yep. “Once optimistic he could use the powers of his office to coerce well-timed wins, Trump now finds his efforts running up against political headwinds, regulatory burdens and plain reality. He is days away from reaching the last feasible point in his administration when promising something in “two weeks” will improve his electoral chances.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Last Exit From Autocracy” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. “Americans have lavished enormous powers on the presidency. They have also sought to bind those powers by law. Yet the Founders of the republic understood that law alone could never eliminate the risks inherent in the power of the presidency. They worried ceaselessly about the prospect of a truly bad man in the office—a Caesar or a Cromwell, as Alexander Hamilton fretted in “Federalist No. 21.” They built restraints: a complicated system for choosing the president, a Congress to constrain him, impeachment to remove him. Their solutions worked for two and a half centuries. In our time, the system failed. Through the Trump years, institutions have failed again and again to check corruption, abuse of power, and even pro-Trump violence.” • I think the system failed, at the very latest, in 2000 with Bush v. Gore — that is, in the administration in which David Frum, war criminal, served. See e.g. the New York Tinmes “Unchecked and Unbalanced“:

In fact, as this important book, “Unchecked and Unbalanced,” points out, the Bush White House has repeatedly sought to expand its powers, often doing so in secret, while sidelining both Congress and the judiciary. President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without obtaining a court order on calls and e-mail messages sent from the United States to other countries. He has issued a steady stream of signing statements, signaling his intent not to comply with more than 750 provisions of laws concerning national security and disclosure, most notably one that questioned Congress’s authority to limit coercive interrogation tactics. And the administration has claimed that the president’s war powers give him the authority to detain people indefinitely and deny them access to lawyers and the courts, a policy that it would later be forced to modify in response to legal challenges.

I remember making the argument at the time — and I wasn’t the only one — that, as above, Bush had arrogated executive, legislative, and judicial powers to himself, which Madison pronounced “the very definition of tyranny.” Frum was not merely a witness to, but a participant in, that process. Either Frum has the memory of a goldfish, or Frum is — hold onto your hats here, folks — completely unprincipled and incapable of self-reflection. Odd, for A Hero of The Resistance™, but here we are. It does make you wonder if Biden is quite the shovel to dig us out of the fascist cesspit that liberal Democrats seem to think he is.

Trump (R)(3): “Why They Loved Him” [New York Times]. “There is little doubt that Mr. Trump is president today because of blue-collar people like Tim who were once a reliable pillar of the Democratic Party. About 55 percent of voters who expected to support Mr. Trump during the 2016 primaries identified as working class, according to a 2015 study by the Public Religion Research Institute. Fewer than a third who backed other Republican candidates identified as such.” • Note that’s not the general, and in fact on average, Trump voters were wealthier than other Americans. That in no way contradicts a thesis that working class voters, at the margin, gave Trump the victory. (Of course, the Democrat base is becoming increasingly wealthier, and at some point in the not-too-distanct future, they will be, and be seen as, the party of oligarchy. Quite a switch!)

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“Review: ‘The West Wing’ reunion brings the fight to Trump. And it doesn’t even name him” [Los Angeles Times]. “Just after midnight Thursday, less than a month from election day, and with voting already underway across the country, HBO Max began streaming “A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote,” a splendidly executed restaging of an old episode in support of Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan, nonprofit group dedicated to getting people to the polls.” • For those who are not already familiar with it, “West Wing Thing” is the podcast to listen to. It’s… acerbic, and many listeners haven’t even watched the show, so you don’t need to.

SC: Well known UI problem butchered by touch-screen vendor:

Needless to say, this doesn’t happen with paper ballots.

Obama Legacy

NY: “Ray McGuire to leave Citigroup to run for mayor of New York” [CNBC]. “Valerie Jarrett, a longtime close advisor to former President Barack Obama, will act as co-chair of McGuire’s campaign, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.” • Who doesn’t love a [x] Black banker?

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Ritual gestures of fealty:

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Retail: “Headline Retail Sales Again Improves in September 2020 – Almost Like The Pandemic Never Occurred” [Econintersect]. “Retail sales modestly improved according to US Census headline data. The three-month rolling average improved. There seems little overall impact from the coronavirus.” • (!!).

Retail: “U.S. Retail Spending Picked Up Strongly in September” [Wall Street Journal]. “Retail sales increased in September for the fifth month in a row, as consumers prepared for further months of working and studying from home by spending strongly on vehicles, sporting goods and at home-improvement stores. ‘Consumers are playing catch-up’ on spending, buying things that they didn’t purchase in the spring, said Calvin Schnure, senior economist at Nareit, a trade group that represents real-estate investment trusts. Friday’s report ‘shows that the consumer recovery remains on track as we head into the holiday season.’”

Inventories: “August 2020 Business Inventories Marginally Grow” [Econintersect]. “Headlines say final business sales data (retail plus wholesale plus manufacturing) improved month-over-month. The rolling averages improved. Inventories remain somewhat elevated.”

Industrial Production: “September 2020 Headline Industrial Production Declines And Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say seasonally adjusted Industrial Production (IP) declined month-over-month – and remains deep in contraction year-over-year. Our analysis shows the three-month rolling average improved…, Note that manufacturing is in contraction year-over-year – but capacity utilization is in expansion year-over-year.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary October 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Improves” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: Slowing employment growth, the resurgence in covid-19 infections, and the absence of additional federal relief payments prompted consumers to become more concerned about the current economic conditions. Those concerns were largely offset by continued small gains in economic prospects for the year ahead. The Current Conditions Index recorded its second small reversal, the first being in June, but even at its best, it has never come close to its December peak, being still down by 26.5%.”

Leading Indicators: “09 October 2020 ECRI’s WLI Marginally Improved” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward marginally improved and remains in expansion…. In theory, this index is now indicating that in the second or third quarter of 2021 the economy should be in expansion year-over-year.”

* * *

Shipping: “Vast majority of air cargo companies are unprepared to transport Covid-19 vaccines” [STAT]. “As much of the world focuses on vaccine development to alleviate the pandemic, a new survey finds that just 28% of the air cargo companies that will play the highly crucial, behind-the-scenes role of transporting Covid-19 vaccines far and wide feel prepared for the job. At the same time, 19% of these companies report that they feel “very unprepared.” And only 54% of airfreight providers currently have some of the necessary equipment for handling vaccines, according to the survey, which was conducted by the International Air Cargo Association and Pharma.Aero, an organization of air cargo carriers that specialize in shipping pharmaceuticals.” • I can’t read farther than the paywall, but I would not expect all shipping companies to be able to handle refrigeration; the real issue is capacity.

Shipping: Destruction, presumably creative:

Travel: “New jets promise to revive supersonic travel” [BBC]. “Nearly two decades later the world is edging closer to again having passenger jets that can fly faster than the speed of sound. This month, Boom Supersonic rolled out its XB-1 supersonic test plane. It’s the first civilian supersonic aircraft since the Soviet Union’s Tupolev TU-144 in 1968. The skinny, sharply-pointed machine will allow Boom to confirm aspects of the design of its proposed Overture, a much more elegant delta-winged project that echoes Concorde. Overture is intended to carry between 65 and 88 passengers across oceanic routes, sparing human populations the supersonic boom generated by its Mach 2.2 speed. NASA has a more outlandish test aircraft in the wings, the spindly X-59. This will fly in 2022, chasing the prize of sustained supersonic flight overland. This means finding ways to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the supersonic boom. Then there’s Aerion, claiming its AS2 design will offer civil supersonic flight by the end of the decade. But with just 8-10 passengers the AS2 is aimed at an entirely new market, that for supersonic business travel.” • I think we should be slowing business travel down, not speeding it up…

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 15 at 11:55am

The Biosphere

“Prioritizing where to restore Earth’s ecosystems” [Nature]. “Ecosystem-restoration targets already feature prominently in global and national policy frameworks aimed at limiting ongoing biodiversity loss and climate change. These targets are set mainly in terms of the total area or percentage of land to be restored. But how can this restoration effort be best distributed spatially to maximize benefits for both biodiversity conservation and efforts to tackle climate change?… Strassburg and colleagues confront this daunting prioritization challenge head-on using a new multicriteria approach based on a mathematical technique called linear programming. This enabled them to optimize restoration outcomes that balance the benefits for biodiversity and climate-change mitigation, and the associated costs, in a variety of ways. The authors carried out their analysis using state-of-the-art data sets that describe the spatial distribution of: ecosystem types expected in the absence of major human activity; current land uses; the potential for carbon sequestration by living and dead organic matter; habitats of vertebrate species; and expected restoration costs. Strassburg et al. show that the benefits and costs of restoring a given total area of land depend very much on where this restoration is undertaken. Prioritizing the spatial distribution of restoration using a single criterion of benefit or cost generally performs poorly in achieving desirable outcomes for the other criteria. For example, restoring 15% of the world’s converted lands by focusing solely on maximizing benefits for climate-change mitigation would achieve only 65% of the gains potentially achievable for biodiversity (assessed as the resulting reduction in risk of species extinctions) if the restoration focused instead on maximizing biodiversity benefits. optimizing for all three criteria simultaneously yields a solution that would achieve 91% and 82% of potential gains for biodiversity and climate-change mitigation, respectively, while maximizing cost-effectiveness.” • Do we have any linear programming mavens in the commentariat?

Health Care

“Living with Covid19” [National Institute for Health Research]. “There is a widespread perception that people either die, get admitted to hospital or recover after two weeks. It is increasingly clear that for some people there is a distinct pathway of ongoing effects. … A major obstacle is the lack of consensus on diagnostic criteria for ongoing Covid19. … The fluctuating and multisystem symptoms need to be acknowledged. A common theme is that symptoms arise in one physiological system then abate only for symptoms to arise in a different system. There are significant psychological and social impacts that will have long-term consequences for individuals and for society if not well managed. The multisystem nature of ongoing Covid19 means that it needs to be considered holistically.” • Our health system does “holistic” really well, so not to worry.

“‘Long Covid’ symptoms can last for month” [Financial Times]. “Covid-19 has left many patients with debilitating, varied symptoms months after the initial infection has cleared, raising fears about the long-term health costs of the pandemic…. ‘A common theme is that symptoms arise in one physiological system then abate, only for symptoms to arise in a different system,’ the NIHR [above] report said. … A study in Italy found that 87 per cent of people discharged from a Rome hospital were still experiencing at least one symptom two months after the onset of Covid-19. At least 55 per cent had three or more symptoms including fatigue, breathing difficulties and pain in joints and chest.”

“Resources” [Long Covid Support]. • A links page.

“Scientists discover genetic and immunologic underpinnings of some cases of severe COVID-19” [National Institutes of Health]. “New findings by scientists at the National Institutes of Health and their collaborators help explain why some people with COVID-19 develop severe disease. The findings also may provide the first molecular explanation for why more men than women die from COVID-19. The researchers found that more than 10% of people who develop severe COVID-19 have misguided antibodies―autoantibodies―that attack the immune system rather than the virus that causes the disease. Another 3.5% or more of people who develop severe COVID-19 carry a specific kind of genetic mutation that impacts immunity. Consequently, both groups lack effective immune responses that depend on type I interferon, a set of 17 proteins crucial for protecting cells and the body from viruses. Whether these proteins have been neutralized by autoantibodies or―because of a faulty gene―were produced in insufficient amounts or induced an inadequate antiviral response, their absence appears to be a commonality among a subgroup of people who suffer from life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Happy John Brown Day!

Guillotine Watch

“In Bay Village, Someone Called Cops on a Sleeping Homeless Person. It was a Statue of Jesus.” [Cleveland Scene]. “Twenty minutes after a “homeless Jesus” sculpture was installed on the grounds of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, someone called the cops. Created by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, the sculpture depicts Jesus as a homeless person lying on a bench covered in a blanket. It was purchased by the local Community West Foundation and has been traveling to churches and other religious organizations across the region since October, 2018.” Now, to be fair: “Bay Village police chief Kathy Leasure confirmed the Oct. 12 call to Scene and said that the caller had advised police dispatch that they were unsure if the homeless individual was a human being or a statue.” • But… perhaps approach the figure closely enough to tell?

Class Warfare

“Why Is So Much Redistribution In-Kind and Not in Cash? Evidence from a Survey Experiment” [SSRN]. From the abstract: “Our survey experiment offers a large, demographically representative sample of respondents a hypothetical choice between a cash transfer and a transfer that can only be spent on a bundle of “necessities.” We make three main points. First, survey respondents overwhelmingly preferred in-kind over cash transfers to the poor. The most important reason for this choice is paternalism: the belief that the poor will not spend cash on the right things. The preference for in-kind was common to a majority of virtually all segments of the general population, though not to a sample of intellectual elites. Second, stated preferences suggest that respondents are willing to redistribute considerably more in-kind than in cash. We also surveyed the poor, who preferred receiving cash, but not as strongly as the general population preferred redistributing in-kind. The modesty of this preference among the poor in part comes from a sizable minority that preferred in-kind redistribution, which many anticipated functioning as a self-control mechanism. Third, a randomized treatment explaining the value of choice significantly increased the preference for cash over in-kind, but it did not change the overall preference for in-kind.”

Surprise, unemployed people manage their money. Thread:

“It’s no wonder hundreds of millions have been spent on Prop. 22. A lot is at stake” [Los Angeles Times]. “California has never seen anything like this. Nor has any state — a record $200 million spent on a single ballot measure…. It’s Proposition 22, a ballot initiative bankrolled by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and the like to override a new state law that requires their ride-hailing and delivery drivers to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. If the drivers are reclassified as employees, their pay and benefits would increase. But the app-based gig companies say there’d be far fewer jobs because customer fares would rise and demand for rides would fall. The companies probably couldn’t even operate in California, they say.” • So, they should go. We did fine without them, and they’re parasites anyhow, as Huber Horan has exhaustively shown.

News of the Wired

“He Married a Sociopath: Me” [New York Times]. “Outside of my family, my loyalty to the truth is what has enabled me to connect with other people. As a doctor who specializes in the research of sociopathy, I prize credibility and integrity as my greatest asset.” • Interesting article.

“First room-temperature superconductor excites — and baffles — scientists” [Nature]. “Scientists have created a mystery material that seems to conduct electricity without any resistance at temperatures of up to about 15 °C. That’s a new record for superconductivity, a phenomenon usually associated with very cold temperatures. The material itself is poorly understood, but it shows the potential of a class of superconductors discovered in 2015. The superconductor has one serious limitation, however: it survives only under extremely high pressures, approaching those at the centre of Earth, meaning that it will not have any immediate practical applications. Still, physicists hope it could pave the way for the development of zero-resistance materials that can function at lower pressures.” • Dang!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (CM):

CM writes again on primroses: “I think the dramatic differences in height are due to competition for sun. But their growth also seems to be erratic. And there is one rosette in that photo (foreground) that has produced no stalks, pods or blooms whatever — biennial feature?”

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