371 Comments

I don’t think we’ll get as many comments today as we have the last few days, so today’s piece may not be seen as performing as well at driving engagement. But in my view, this is Yglesias at his best: clearly and plainly teasing out issues of policy and politics in a way that makes this generally-reflexive-Democratic-partisan develop a deeper and more nuanced view of the issues at hand

5 out of 5 slices.

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Thank God I have to do my data science project today

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What do you think of data science. I’ve been trying to get my daughter to consider it as a 2nd major b

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As a former data scientist, I would strongly discourage majoring in such a program. It’s a highly nebulous title that means different things at different firms. For the mass majority of roles, it’s just better marketing for a data analyst position. For a small number of roles, it entails CS PhDs doing actually sophisticated work. Unfortunately, many people in the former role delude themselves into thinking they’re in the later role.

Worse, there was a huge explosion in data science positions throughout the 2010’s as firms wanted to do something with data and machine learning. Commonly, business value was poorly defined and useful results were rare. I’d expect a large correction in this field as tech firms tighten their belts.

Lastly, many common data science functions are being commoditized as I wrote about in 2019, https://liveramp.it/developers/blog/opinion-our-exciting-journey-as-data-scientists-onwards-to-higher-levels-of-abstraction/

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FWIW I’m planning to double major in Economics & History with a certificate* in S&DS

* Yale technically doesn’t offer minors; it does offer “certificates” which it says are totally not minors but which are, to the best of my understanding, basically minors; for more information see https://statistics.yale.edu/academics/certificate-data-science

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

Sick double major. Not studying economics formally in university is a regret of mine. What's your focus within the history major? Mine was medieval Europe, and I ended up writing my honors thesis on Sephardic Jews in medieval Spain.

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No idea but I'm taking two history classes on medieval Europe next year, one of which is taught by a guy named Hussein Fancy who focuses on Islam in medieval Europe IIRC.

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Politician for sure. I will be your blue collar fixer!

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Where I work we have a “data scientist” who is really just a SQL programmer, which is a perfectly respectable thing to be, IMHO.

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Yeah, I worked in data science-ish for 7 years, and my sense is that there's very little actually useful data science. Where it's actually useful, it's great, and a brilliant data scientist (I've worked with a few!) can be super valuable, especially when it comes to fields where you can turn insight into business/customer value in consistent ways (high frequency trading, detecting anomalies in data collection, detecting jumps in phenomena like wastewater viral loads, etc.). But so much of the time, companies think "if we do some data science, we'll find a lot of valuable info!" but almost all of the time, the info they find just looks like info -- "hm, seems like we had a decline of 4% among women two years ago, then an increase of 6% last year" -- and there's just no suggestion at all of anything actionable that comes out of it. "Data" seems like it will provide an answer in and of itself, but all the most important answers have to be made outside of the data; e.g., if you want to do an A/B test, well, *what* are you going to test? The data themselves won't tell you that.

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Interesting. For what it is worth, I had a buddy in undergrad who majored in brewing science. He got sick of brewing beer a couple years ago and went to an intensive 10 week data science boot camp. Now he has a good consulting job in NYC and seems really happy.

I agree that tech is currently tightening their belts but tons of other industries want people who know R and python to do statistical analysis

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

Gotta say Matt -- I'm a little surprised by this. Just thinking about use case and value creation here ... Are you familiar with any of these companies? The tech works on all of them. Probably a winner-takes-most-outcome and CCC has a huge advantage with their existing market share but right now there's no question that the entire industry is moving to photo only or at least photo first estimating. This is a $100M+ annual cost savings opportunity and then apply a market multiple to that for value. Hence why there's at least 4 players right now chasing it. This is just one I'm close to but I'd be shocked if this isn't happening in every industry.

https://cccis.com/insurance-carriers/claims-solutions/apd/repair-management/estimate-stp/

https://claimgenius.com/geniusinspect-claims/

https://tractable.ai/en/products

https://monk.ai/use-cases/

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What's the business value here? Is the idea that, say, a car rental company currently pays people $15/hr to make these estimates, and with this tech they wouldn't have to?

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No. Use case is insurance company adjuster inspections post-accident. This is during the claims cycle. At least $750 of cost is tied up in physical adjusters inspecting a vehicle. Cycle time is ~ 10 days for a repair vs. total loss determination. During which if the vehicle is non-drivable they are paying rental car days as well as storage costs.

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Matt. Sincerely thank you for this input. What would your recommendations be for growing fields? Right now her major is going to be biosystems engineering and microbiology with an eye on medical school. But she also has a strong interests in computers. Should I just encourage her to take decent electives?

Once again. I really appreciate you taking time to answer.

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For someone with an interest in computers, I’d recommend computer engineering or computer science. Hard to say what the trajectory of the tech field looks like, but there appears to be an ever growing application of computers and software, even outside of tech firms.

If she goes that way, the important thing for a tech career is internships. Can commonly provide a direct pathway to a full-time role after graduation, and is a big strength on resumes for a junior role.

Can also do a CS minor while focusing on another science or engineering degree. That minor pairs quite well with other science and engineering roles since there is a lot of interdisciplinary work between software, science, and engineering. Eg, using computers to automate processes, simulate systems, or collect and process data.

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Genetics + CS is the new hotness. Forget AI, computational genetics is going to change the world.

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Biology + CS/CE is a *very* solid combo. Genetics (which can lead to big data, as it did for one of my colleagues), health devices, instrumentation, etc. all flow naturally out of that background.

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The data scientists I work alongside in big tech all trained as actual scientists in some discipline, i.e. they have a track record of designing, conducting, analyzing, and publishing experiments in a way that passes muster in academia. I don’t think a “data science” credential would impress anyone. Never hurts to master R or SQL though.

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As someone that helps hire quants, I'd stay away from the major if not necessarily the classes. Returns to being able to code are very high when paired with in-demand related skills, but random data science programs do not seem to ensure meeting minimum requirements on that front. Idk about individual classes or programs though, and being forced to learn the analysis part probably has some benefit.

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It would be far better to get the basics strong in college, such as linear algebra, statistics and probabilities, and machine learning algorithms. That will provide all the tooling one needs for a career in data science. This coming from someone who has been in the data science industry (started out in consulting, then financial services) for 18 years.

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The class I’m taking isn’t great but then again I haven’t gone to lecture for 2 months so a lot of that is on me. But I’m gonna lock in and grind out the lecture recordings during reading week so hopefully it will be fine.

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As someone who got into the habit of not going to lectures in college, can confirm that it is a bad habit that snowballs.

This is the end of my lecture.

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Yeah I’m definitely not going to repeat this mistake in the fall

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On behalf of your father. Get your shit together dude. Step 1 to success is show the fuck up! (you have actually stressed me out!) Also, good luck.

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Only jumping in here because I see a bit differently than Matt and would encourage your daughter to dive deeply into the program / course work to gauge her personal interest. It might be a rewarding fit. As a 2nd major or minor or even just free electives -- I don't see a downside.

Current background, I run Data Science and Data Analytics for a medium size public company. As Matt says, there is a strong distinction between "real data science" (e.g., computer vision models) and analytics (e.g., data visualization, reporting). But - in my experience - the analytics roles can be stepping stone roles to the more technical, modeling roles if that's a career goal. There's definitely "commodification" going on but that's also opening up new "decision science" pathways that are more focused on implementation, customer adoption, value creation, etc. for the reasons Matt says. What's clear is this is a macro-trend and there's a lot of career path flexibility and growth tailwinds. Those a good things early in a career. Obviously less so if the path turns out to be medical school. But in a business setting -- for sure. Just generally -- getting comfortable pulling your own data, cleaning it, modeling it, understanding what it means -- those are differentiated capabilities for ~ any career path.

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Thanks for your input. My take away is that data science is a good field when paired with other knowledge skills. Perhaps as a minor or as electives. Is that accurate?

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Probably hard to generalize that much. For example, if she's on the med school track ... there might be better minors or electives that make her more competitive for MCATs and applications. But on most other paths -- the ability to work with relatively large datasets (i.e., larger than Excel) is a differentiator.

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Except for the first third where I was seriously concerned that he was going to write an entire piece solely on everything bagels.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

I mean, everything bagels are delicious and I would read that piece. But I actually think he made his point really well - “everything” bagels don’t actually have everything on them. You can have a “more than one thing” policy that has different, contrasting flavors that work well together - better, perhaps, than they would work individually. But you can’t literally put everything on a bagel. And you can’t try to accomplish every policy goal all at once. It won’t work.

The metaphor really worked for me. But now that it’s 8:30 my time and I haven’t eaten yet, it’s making me hungry.

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The problem with an entire article about everything bagels is that it would make me want to go get an everything bagel and I don't really feel like leaving the house right now.

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I have some homemade lox that I need to finish off soon, and I was planning to go on a bike ride anyway, so I should swing by the new bagel shop. Perhaps I'll make it an everything bagel today!

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"Everything bagels, explained."

"1. What are everything bagels?"

"5. This is exhausting, can we get a music break?"

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the cutesy part went on too long

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Someone does, the cream cheese is in the middle, and they're not very good.

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If someone starts selling everything bagel holes my weight loss plans are going to take a serious beating.

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RemovedApr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023
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Politically backing down over student loan forgiveness isn't really an option.

Besides, getting SCOTUS to strike it down for them really is brilliant. And since I'm not a fan of the program but I worry a fair bit about unconstrained executive discretion (eg Trump's border wall funding) this is a triple win. Biden doesn't bear the costs of the program, he gets to blame the conservatives for it not happening and the court commits to a relatively expansive view about standing to challenge agency spending/forgiveness that will make it harder to swat away challenges to executive action by the next republican president.

In the long term there may be costs to making the court do the dirty work but as long as it doesn't become a regular thing.

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founding

I think you are right. I really enjoy the discussions around policy on this site. But your comment reminds me of why I dislike politics so much. Yes, you have to win at politics in order to implement policy, but the lies, misdirections and unprincipled actions required to get votes is really unappealing.

I need to get better at ignoring the politically driven messaging & tactics to see the real-world policy implementations.

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Fwiw I don’t think the program was setup to be blocked by the court. It’s just a fortunate potential outcome that an inflationary program could be blocked now that inflation is what matters.

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The program doesn't comply with the Biden OLC's own memo about the parameters within which such a program would be legal, so I'm less sure about that

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> You have asked whether the HEROES Act authorizes the Secretary to address the financial hardship arising out of the COVID -19 pandemic by reducing or canceling the principal balances of student loans for a broad class of borrowers. We conclude that the Act grants that authority. The plain text of the HEROES Act authorizes the Secretary to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to” the federal student loan program, 20 U.S.C. § 1098bb(a)(1) (emphasis added), an authority that encompasses provisions applicable to the repayment of the principal balances of loans, provided certain conditions are met.

https://www.justice.gov/olc/file/1528451/download#page=20

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“Provided certain conditions are met.” The Biden program does not meet the conditions the OLC identified.

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Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that the Biden admin wanted it blocked (I just meant brilliant in the sense of it's a great political outcome for them). I think they'd still like to see it suceed because they believe in it. I don't so I'm happy about the outcome but if I was president I'd have never launched the program.

To the extent there is something slimey and political here I think it's forgiving the debts of the people who got to go to school (and are Dem leaning but unmotivated voters) even though school is a large net positive to lifetime earnings.

Sure, maybe college should have been government funded the whole time. But that's like looking back and saying: oops we should have had government funded contributions to your retirement accounts the whole time so we're going to cut everyone who contributed to their 401k a check equal to that amount. You're giving the money to the people who could afford to make themselves better off and not the people who decided they couldn't afford college and are poorer as a result.

But since I can't seem to convince anyone else on the left of that I'm pretty sure the Biden admin really believes in doing this and was hoping it wouldn't be challenged (even if this works out for them).

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

I think your attitude is not uncommon in the offline normie Democratic voting constituency (what "left" means anymore, I dunno).

It's just we don't like getting constantly shouted at about it.

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That's understandable but I fear that the fact that more moderate views don't get represented online is skewing the politics of our next generation of leaders, wonks and activists.

Or I just want to tell myself I'm doing something noble when I post my moderate left views on social media.

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The issue with real world implications is they are often only on the margins. And it’s rarely a direct line from Policy A to outcome B. I despise Trump. Think he is unstable, but I doubt my life will change materially in any way given two alternative realities where he wins vs Biden winning. I know that sounds flippant. But short of World War 3, Im not sure what will really change. Convince me otherwise:

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While I think that's true for most leaders Trump particularly seemed to cause a change in the level of vitriol and willingness to consider arguments on the other side. That affected my day to day experience.

Suddenly pointing out that an argument by the left against the right wasn't very compelling got you labeled a heritic not just someone you disagreed with and my experience talking with conservatives got worse too.

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This is an excellent point. I actually agree. Trump brings out the worst in everyone.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

The main reason I hate the very idea of Trump running again - let alone winning - is basically this. Everything he touches turns hateful, simplistic and dumb (which is not to say that I think Trump personally is dumb). I cannot stand the thought of four more years of endless debate about his verbal diarrhea, #Resistance pearl-clutching, and MAGA bullshit. I really can't.

That said, it's true that the best argument against Trump is basically about tail risks. What happens if China invades Taiwan with Trump in the White House? Or if another 9/11 happens? I think we got really lucky during Trump's term in that the late 2010s were - although nobody realized it at the time, because Trump - a pretty benign period geopolitically and economically. Nothing much happened until Covid, and Covid wasn't the kind of emergency that played neatly into Trump's worst impulses. (He said a lot of dumb stuff about Covid, but policy-wise he was fine-to-good.)

Well, that and the fact that he tried to stage a coup to stay in office. I do think it is almost certain the he will try to remain in office past January 2029 if he is in, or that he will try to turn the Presidency - or at least the Republican Party - into the Trump family's personal fiefdom. I'm not sure I like his odds of succeeding in this, but I really don't want to find out what happens when he tries it, even if he fails. The potential for large-scale civil unrest around this sort of thing - which could materially impact day-to-day life, albeit maybe not yours personally - is there; the odds of it are impossible to say but much higher than anything I would be comfortable with.

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I think there's a real risk that he decides to negotiate a deal with Putin over Ukraine's head and then tells Zelensky that he can accept the deal or have all US assistance pulled and face US diplomacy trying to stop Europeans helping Ukraine. And I think the deal would massively favour Putin - something like accepting the annexations of Crimea and the four southern oblasts, and neutralising Ukraine (ie no alliance and no arms exports to Ukraine from anyone).

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I might be off the track here, but we already have large-scale civil unrest; large-scale being defined as happening everywhere, all the time, albeit by individuals and small groups. People are angry and have no idea of how to get rid of it.

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founding

Most policy implications in today's world are only on the margins. We've been tweaking our system for 250 years and most of the big changes are either baked in already or unattainable due to system design choices made long ago. Plus, it's a really good system -- richest country, most powerful military, yadda, yadda -- so most people only want marginal changes.

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Agree, and this is especially true on the federal level because of the veto power on federal power that the States have in our system. Democrats need to get better at understanding that and stop whining, tilting against windmills, and daydreaming about what if we had a unitary parliamentary system.

We have a republican federal system, and that's not changing. Get used to it and learn to work with it instead of constantly banging your head against it.

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A man's (carefully considered, cost benefit analysis vetted) reach should exceed his (politically constrained) grasp, else what's there politics for?

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If you were a woman I could tell you one thing that would effect your life forever because of Trumps win in 2016. You would have had a previously guaranteed constitutional right taken away from you. Now, you may be glad it was taken away (depending on your position) but lots of women are unhappy about it. It’s a big material change to the lives of women in America.

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So, I have a story. My wife had an abortion at the age of 20. She now regrets it. Would make a different decision. (She isn’t anti-choice it’s a personal thing).

This brings to bear something a lot of people don’t think about. Some percentage of abortions are out of conveniences. In other words the child if born would turn out just fine.

Given that Matt just talked about trade offs.

I posit that there will be some children born in the future who wouldn’t have. Kids who parents live them. Who grow up to be successful.

Now there will also be kids who are born into poverty whose parents lives are materially worse off.

My personal philosophy is to have less restrictions so in that way I am more pro-choice, but at the same time I believe in Federalism in which states should be able to govern in their own way.

But I also think that it’s naive to pretend that their will be zero good outcomes from abortion restrictions. The real question is will there be more bad outcomes?

Remember, I have raised 8-daughters. One of my daughters is struggling because she is a single mother.

I am a personal pro-lifer. To the extent that I am against the death penalty (no I am not religious).

But at the same time, I am pro morning after pill. I’ve have driven to Oregon to pick up for daughters before.

Given all my conflicting views on this issue, I’ve come down on the side of Democracy. If people elect bad politicians who make bad laws, then they will be replaced.

I also acknowledge that I am not a woman.

I may delete this comment. I do not want to degrade anyone who feels passionately on this issue. Just explain why I personally am not passionate about it.

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It’s a fair point your making, in that what happens to women’s ability to make certain health care decision do not effect you directly in ways that matter to you.

Im just trying to point out that whether or not policies directly impact you or me, the fact they impact large numbers of Americans means they are due considerations when thinking about outcomes/trade offs.

Cards on the table, I think the way many European counties run their abortion policies tends to strike the right balance of trade offs. I think no restrictions and no abortions are very bad in the trade offs game.

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I agree: bear in mind that the whole European system is more than just a 12-20 week limit on abortions: the typical approach is:

Universal health care (of some description) and abortions are included, so there's no fees and abortion is available at every hospital (and abortion pills from just about any doctor's office).

Abortion on request up to the gestational limit (there may be a reconsideration requirement or a counselling requirement, but note that doesn't require staying in a hotel because it will be available at a convenient location).

Beyond the limit, abortion for medical reasons (fetus has no or minimal chance of becoming viable, continuing pregnancy is harmful to the mother's health, mother has another medical condition that requires teratogenic treatments) is available and the decision process on the medical reasons is routine and quick.

One of the features of the US regimes that have exceptions (either beyond a gestational limit, or for all abortions) is that they are difficult to obtain (often requiring an application to a court), and that abortions are only available in a small number of clinics/hospitals, rather than nearly everywhere.

For instance, abortions after 12 weeks in Norway require approval by an abortion board (two doctors, working in the hospital). Out of "about 600" applications per year, "20-40" are rejected and then automatically appealed (I couldn't find exact numbers, but these are from official documentation). Norway had 10,800 abortions in 2021 - so we're talking about 6% or so that need an application to the abortion board.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

I think this is a perfectly reasonable fear for women, but it's worth bearing a couple of things in mind:

-A national abortion ban at this point isn't really contingent on Trump *per se.* It is contingent on Republicans winning the Presidency and big majorities in Congress. [1] Whether or not Trump is in the Oval Office doesn't matter particularly for the outcome vis-a-vis another Republican. [2]

-A national ban would be deeply unpopular. I think it would be repealed within ten years, and quite possibly within five or six.

I'll add here that while I am personally quite pro-choice the case that abortion is a "constitutional right" has always been very shaky at best (it's not, like, free speech), and I don't really have a problem with states banning it if that is what their voters want [3], provided they a) allow for the usual exceptions, which includes not writing statutes that could be read as banning necessary medical procedures, and b) do not attempt to penalize women who travel to other jurisdictions for abortions. I realize, of course, that some state laws do not fit these parameters; I *do* have problems with those laws.

1. You could say "big majorities or eliminating the filibuster," I suppose, but I am personally somewhat skeptical that Republicans would eliminate the filibuster to pass a law that would generate immediate and severe public backlash. It's certainly not inconceivable - which is why I said this is a reasonable fear - but Republicans aren't stupid, at least about politics. I further suspect that enough Rs would cling to a states-rights argument so as not to have pass a deeply unpopular policy to kill a ban if their majorities were relatively narrow.

2. If anything, the odds of a national abortion ban are slightly *lower* under Trump than another Republican. Trump has staked out a relatively moderate position on abortion and I don't think he gives a crap about abortion or about the interest groups clamoring for a ban. I'm not sure he'd veto one if it passed Congress, but I'm also not sure he wouldn't.

3. It is true that most voters, even in red states, want abortion to be legal for at least some period of time. I hope we eventually get policies that reflect this.

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Trump winning in 2016 definitely affects a lot of things just because of his SCOTUS appointments. Likely harder to make the case that 2024 will be as contingent of an election, but I don’t plan to take my chances so I will be voting for — and donating to — Brandon.

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I get that. But unless you are going to get a girl pregnant in Idaho that has no access to drive across the border, I’m still going to wager your personal life hasn’t and won’t be materially changed.

But if u are in Idaho, come say hi!

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Rory what do you think of the ~vibes~ having a material impact on your life? During the Trump admin society seemed to overcompensate by going further left on social/culture issues, and now there seems to be a center-right backlash (a halting of the drift left at least) during the Biden admin

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I tend to agree with this backlash theory. People are naturally rebellious or at least motivated by fear of the enemy.

I don’t disagree that elections change vibes (especially with someone as polarizing as Trump). But vibes don’t necessarily equal change.

I’m going to use the example of gay marriage. Gay marriage would’ve happened no matter what. Perhaps the election of George W. Bush and Obama, and whoever changed the date it happen by a couple of years, but we still would of ended up there.

I sort of think that most things are like that.

Did this answer your question?

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Trump's slow-walking of PSLF approvals scares me. I'll be eligible for forgiveness in 2026.

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I had to Google it. But I think PSLF should be a non-controversial issue. I’ve read about how dodgy some companies are. Sincere wish u best if luck.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

Overturning of Roe is a big deal, and much more damage will continue for years to come due to SCOTUS extremist composition. HOWEVER in the post Jan 6th world I really really think all of this is dwarfed by the danger to democracy itself should Trump ever return to power. That he was not convicted by the senate following Jan 6th is a failure of the first rate. It literally imperils the future the republic.

Frankly anyone sensible should have known electing Trump in 2016 was a terrible idea, but any self-interested self-delusional naive doubt that could have somehow been conceivable back then is totally impossible now. Electing Trump is borderline suicidal. The stakes have never been higher.

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President Marco Rubio would have made the same SCOTUS nominations. Because I'm a Democrat, I didn't like them, but they had nothing to do with Trump per se.

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Justice Jeannine Pirro would have been much worse.

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I think there’s a pretty good argument that if the nativists really do win out over federal immigration policy, the economy is going to suffer hugely relative to its potential over the medium term. Which is going to constrain the return of every investment you or I might use to build a stable retirement and likely badly punish our kids.

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Devils advocate: perhaps an immigrant replaces you at your job and you have to take a pay cut.

Note: I am very pro immigration, but like all things the benefits of immigration are net positive, but there will be individuals who may suffer negative consequences.

But honestly, immigration is one of those things that I see changing the least.

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Ehh, that’s why you craft immigration policy to bring in a balanced group of immigrants, tilted even a bit in favor of high-skilled folks. There won’t be any job taking if aggregate demand is systemically and uniformly rising for basically all industries.

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Boring reply: 100% agree. We need to adopt Canadian or New Zealand point system.

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Presidents don't typically have that much impact on ordinary citizens' lives. But we rent a President for four years to handle the big, daunting crises that *may* come during their term. It was good we had Lincoln and FDR when our nation had to fight existential challenges.

If we put Trump in office for four years, it would obviously be unpleasant and bad for the political culture, but it might be survivable if conditions were otherwise peaceful. But how would he deal with a supremely demanding crisis? I suspect not very well at all. Obviously, we did face one with COVID and he should get some credit for expediting the vaccines, while on the other hand his rhetoric and some of his actions created permissions for people to take awful actions during the crisis. So not an A or an F; call it a C.

I'd like better than a C during our next great crisis, however.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

When Trump was first elected I remember my brother saying that given our position in society, relatively well off, middle age white guys we would certainly be fine, but that we should be worried about other folks. But I think you hit it when you list him as unstable. A president can take quick actions with terrible consequences, and the correctives to them take years. Trump is, I believe, uniquely unmoored from any consideration for anyone's well being beyond his own, and is capable of performing terribly counter to everyone's interest except his own poorly conceived interests.

I would again probably be OK, but with more than any President in my now longish lifetime, that might not be true.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

Given everything we now know, that's an extreme understatement. Nuclear war becomes a realistic possibility under Trump, constitutional crisis a high probability. The post WWII era of peace and prosperity created a very dangerous failure of the imagination in too many people.

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I think the current situation in Ukraine, which we ignore because it has settled into what looks like stalemate for now, still has potential to develop into something worse were the US to elect an unstable person as President, so World War 3” is not entirely off the table. As for the rest, it depends who you are--lots of people would probably be unaffected if we did devolve into a dictatorship (not saying that’s happening, just that it happens in lots of places and life goes on).

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The situation Ukraine with Trump as President would be that he and his buddy Putin could work a amicable partition of the country with the rump not able to be part of the EU. It would save the Chinese a lot of money.

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I think you're really underestimating how much long term damage having more Trump judges sitting on circuit courts can do. There are many Matthew J. Kacsmaryks out there and there will likely be even more lunatic judges if he's President again.

I think you really need to recognize too that overturning Dobbs basically affects every single woman in this country on a personal level. And if Trump is re-elected, it is likely with a Trifecta and there is a huge likelihood that a full abortion ban passes if there is a Trifecta (I think we've all come to realize how much the religious right is driving the bus right now when it comes to GOP policy).

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This has less to do with Trump than with electing any Republican. Which I would not like to see happen, but still . . .

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Seriously? Trump actively attempted to subvert democracy and steal the elections. He'll try again next time, being more prepared. A non-negligible contingent on the right is enthusiastically pro-authoritarian. Trump can and will test the very fiber of the republic's being and its democratic nature. It withstood the test once—not without casualties— but can you guarantee it will again? Trump being reelected is playing Russian roulette with everyone's freedom, let alone world peace and the economy. Your complacence is incredible.

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1. I don’t think Trump will win.

2. He failed miserably the 1st time. Will fail even harder the 2nd time.

3. I’m not complacent. I will vote against Trump. I try and sway other people to vote against him, while not alienating them. The bigger danger is Democrats that alienate swing voters.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

1. I certainly hope not (though apparently less confident than you) but our debate is about the consequences if he does.

2. He failed the first time mostly thanks to principled repulicans + judges who stopped him. The GOP has since undergone a purge and is more radical. The people willing to serve under his second admin are surely likely to be far more similar minded to him. His lack of experience was a blessing. As for the judiciary, its harder to say, but presumably its deterioration will significantly accelerate under a second trump term. He is unlikely to be forgiving of the appointees who "betrayed" him and may not be as willing to simply outsource the appointments to the Federalist Society this time round (and the FedSoc itself btw is soul searching at the moment and may not continue to promote very conservative, yet mostly principled, judges in future).

3. How to defeat Trump is separate question. Your ARE complacent in so far as you don't think his election will affect you personally and seem to me to treat it as somehow "normal" and not as the historic aberration of strategic proportions that I consider it to be.

P.S.

I certainly very very much hope you're right and I'm wrong. I hope even more that we'll never find out.

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On Number 3. Even though I’m not a gambler I am treating it like a bet. The outraged people will be outraged and motivated to vote against. I don’t think I can make anyone even more outraged. The swing voters whether u can understand them, exist. These are the ones who can go either way or stay home. These are the ones who are turned off by people yelling at them. Since I consider myself one of these swing voters, the best thing I can do is to put my efforts towards that.

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Nothing complacent about "trying to sway other people to vote against him, while not alienating them".

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"Convince me otherwise"

Trump has said that if he wins again, he will essentially purge all government agencies and replace current people with ones selected for loyalty to MAGA/Trump rather than competence.

Of course Trump may have been talking out his a** when he said it, but assuming he meant it, I find this a horrifying prospect. Think how much the government does (or tries to do). What will happen to society when a large percentage of government employees is replaced with incompetent lackeys? Do you want to be in a natural disaster zone when FEMA is run by Trump appointees?

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I look at voting for Democrats as having option value. Even though it's unlikely, Democrat's are more likely to liberalize immigration of skilled, educated people and require educated foreigners to return home after graduation. Democrat's are more likely to tax net emissions of CO2 and draft regulations that have somewhat the effect of such a tax. I expect Democrats at the national level to push a bit more for land use reform. [Why doesn't DoHUA do best practice research on land use regulations, and building codes and give grants to cities that experiment with them the way DoJ does for policing reform?] Democrats are more likely to reduce the structural deficit with taxes on high income people.

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Republicans could always propose their own plan to end the debt peonage and make higher education more affordable! They don't have to be "principled!"

As it stands now, they can only manage to endorse this system that acts as a de facto tax on students smart and ambitious enough to get into college, but not rich enough to get mommy and daddy to pay for it.

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founding

See, this is the thing I need to get better at ignoring. Thanks!

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You're welcome! Ignorance is bliss!

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I think it is fair to ask the other major party to also have opinions about solving major problems

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I think it’s fair to ask whether there is actually a problem that needs to be solved by government.

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founding

I don't want to use that feature. I learn something even from those who might be annoying.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

I have such overwhelming disgust for the way the elected branches dump their incompetent failings in SCOTUS' collective lap and then pretend like it's the court's fault they didn't do their job.

Edit: Maybe the most radicalizing events in my personal political memory were first GWB and then Obama flat out saying, "I think this is unconstitutional, but I'm signing it anyways." without getting immediately impeached for it.

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Getting impeached for signing a bill passed by Congress. OK, got it.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

Absolutely. Doubly so when it's an executive order.

Edit: though yea, kinda mechanically impossible to get the votes when it's a bill that passed. You the legislator should still vote to impeach for the oath of office violation even if you the legislator believe the president is wrong about the constitutionality.

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This works with Biden, because we can trust that, like FDR, to his core, he is a democrat who believes in rule of law. So when he plays hardball with the courts, I have confidence he is only testing the rules and giving the courts an opportunity to clarify where the lines and limits are, not trying to break the rules or the system. And he will abide by the Court's decision. That's a key difference between Biden and a lawless autocrat like Trump.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

True. But then again quite a few democrats, including in the senate(!) told Biden and fda to basically ignore the original ruling regarding the abortion pills *regardless* of the results of the appeal (that did in fact overturn it). We have to recognize that authoritarian or anti-rule-of-law instincts and attitudes are gaining dangerous ground on the left as well. It’s a national problem (exacerbated by the increasing partisanship in the courts, itself a result of the gutting of the filibuster).

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That suggestion that the FDA ignore a ban stunned me, coming from what I thought was generally "my side". It's still about using or threatening power.

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I agree and I'm glad that the Supreme Court had enough institutionalists to avoid doing insane things like overthrowing the system of FDA control of drug approval. But what if that had not been the case and the crazies had taken over SCOTUS? Ignoring the ban would have been terrible, but so would the Court upholding the ban. I view undermining SCOTUS with trepidation, but I fear a Court that has thrown caution to the wind.

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Why is “obey federal judges” more rule of lawy than “obey the fda.”

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It's not quite that cut and dry. You can interpret what many of them said as advocating an interpretation of the court orders that allowed them to take those actions. For instance, I think there is at least a facially plausible (but I haven't scoured her statements) interpretation of AOC as saying that the FDA can interpret the Washington ruling as letting it keep the regulations in place (and that they can choose not to enforce any violations).

TBF she definitely hasn't tried to resolve this ambiguity clearly in favor of the rule of law and that's bad but I'm not sure it's quite Andrew Jackson bad.

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Yes. That's why it's a good thing Biden is President and they are not. And that he picked a Vice-President who has the same philosophy on this as he does.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

That’s the greatest difference between the parties. The Democrats haven’t allowed the inmates to run the asylum - yet. But the potential is very much there, possibly a single primary away. This should be a serious cause for concern. Biden isn’t part of the madness but he is doing very little indeed to push back against it let alone trying to root it out. That careless complacence may come back to bite the country with a vengeance.

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Not being snarky: on what basis can one conclude Harris has the same philosophy?

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Possibly her professional background being so immersed in the legal establishment? That’s no guarantee, of course, but would I hope at least make it more likely that she’d appreciate the importance of the rule of law?

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By paying attention to how she has behaved her entire career.

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The only way to conclude Donald Trump was more threatening to the authority of the Supreme Court than Franklin Delano Roosevelt is to simply not know anything about Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency.

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Not true. Imagine Donald Trump in his second, third or fourth term, becoming ever-more like the Netanyahus, Erdogans, Orbans, and Putins of the world.

FDR, on the other hand, like Washington and Lincoln before him, was a rare example of a leader with the integrity, character and patriotism to use the great power we entrust to our Presidents as a trustee of the interests of the United States rather than only for their own personal power.

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While entertaining, the modern day reactionary right's insistence that FDR's threat to pack the Court was a greater threat to constitutional governance than the cessation of the New Deal policies and a very real risk of fascist or communist revolution on renewed economic crisis is... ahistorical, to put it mildly. They, of course, square that circle by pretending that an early end to the New Deal would have more rapidly restored the economic health of the nation, but... ya just can't fix stupid.

The Constitution is very, very difficult to amend, and as such has been repeatedly reinterpreted over its lifespan in ways which are wildly out of keeping with the original intent of the document but which can be reasonably interpreted from its language. The willingness to do this is probably the singular factor which has kept it from being replaced wholesale as part of a major political upheaval.

It's also why I laugh my ass off at the Constitution-worshipper crowd, who the Founders would rightly regard as fools, even if they wouldn't like the changes to the way in which the document is understood. Many of them, in fact, expected it to be replaced as part of major political upheaval much more frequently than has been the case.

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I'm not saying FDR was a bad president, I'm saying very specifically, he obviously was a more powerful and politically popular threat towards the specific institutional authority of the Supreme Court than Trump ever was. I also didn't bother to invoke the framers because they disagreed on a lot of things and several presumed the Federalists would simply rule forever, thus preventing mass party politics. That important precondition was over by 1832, to say nothing of 1932. No need to argue what parts of the New Deal did or didn't work; I'm making one specific argument about institutions.

Finally, I agree the barrier to amend the Constitution should be a bit lower than it currently is. I'd even speculate that we would have a healthier social politics if the ERA had both passed and then later been repealed when the consequences came all at once to the public, similar to prohibition. But on net, the Constitution is mostly good and the United States avoids a lot of worse outcomes in governance compared to its realistic peers (Russia, Brazil, India, China, the entire EU.)

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Fair enough. I'm so used to the folks who say these things being basically crypto-reactionaries that I mistakenly assumed the same here.

I don't disagree with anything in the last paragraph, I just believe that the flexibility which our living political culture has demonstrated around the essentially dead document has been crucial in preserving the constitutional order and most of the spirit of said document.

I am torn on whether a slightly lower bar to amendment would be a good or bad thing in aggregate, precisely because our culture of tiptoeing around and spreading out what are in reality fairly large constitutional changes has worked quite well.

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The Supreme Court has too much authority (infinitely more than explicitly given in the constitution) and it should absolutely be threatened

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I know FDR threatened to pack the court. Did he also threaten to simply ignore it?

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They are going to do neither.

Student loan clemency is going to be held as the "hostage" issue (a bit like abortion rights) for every upcoming election.

If Republicans ever get a trifecta again, it will be one of the first things on the chopping block, and Democrats can campaign on the fact that, as long as they retain majority, the debts will be held in limbo.

It's an easy win.

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That only works if the courts block the outright forgiveness. Otherwise it looks like dems aren't really trying to eliminate the debt and voters will be upset.

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Voters will not be upset based on how it "looks."

The debt-holding voters (and even current non-voters!) will be successfully sequestered into supporting the only party that supports the debt clemency.

As long as no one kills the hostage.

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They've already created an amnesty program that wipes out the debt. Absent SCOTUS intervention it goes into effect so if the court doesn't block it they can't very well rescind it.

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I'm not entirely sure what program you're talking about, because none seem to fit your description.

Ultimately, if the executive decides not to collect debts, with the power given to them by congress, all the incentives will be to keep delaying the collection of the debts, and keep threatening that the other party will enforce the collection of the debt.

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So that's one plan, the loan forgiveness plan. But I don't think SCOTUS is shooting down the Biden admin's pause on repayment or plans to restructure repayment rates. The former is important; Brookings pointed out it costs about 200 billion so far since Spring of 2020, when the Trump admin began the pause. It is also even less progressively targeted than the Biden admin's forgiveness program. I am pretty sure they're going to keep extending it as long as possible and hold it over the heads of young voters in 2024.

https://www.brookings.edu/2023/04/13/student-loan-pause-has-benefitted-affluent-borrowers-the-most-others-may-struggle-when-payments-resume/

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I would agree on the politics of this, except that with the current Court having become overtly political, Republican Presidents may not be deterred by the Court limiting executive authority--for one thing, if the Republican in question were Trump or someone like him, they might expect the Court to find a way to accept executive overstep when it’s “conservative.”

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This court didn't let Trump do things. The census case and Trump's subpoenas are two important ones.

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I'm not at all a "court watcher" but wouldn't you also say the Warren Court was "overtly political"? Or was their ideological anchor more politically neutral?

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

They made some very significant rulings, but they weren't actually political in the sense that the rulings were not easily predicted before hand either by the political affiliation of the members nor by the opinions of the people who had nominated or championed. They also weren't in any way united in an expressed ideological view of history, the constitution, or a particular method of interpretation.

They could best be seen as the culmination of trends throughout American society that concluded the unification of the country after the Civil War --- that is that the relationship between the government and its citizens was based on being American rather than Pennsylvanian, Floridian, Californian, etc.

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They were arguably “activist” and could be credibly accused of “legislating from the bench” at times, but they were not partisan—Earl Warren, after all, was a Republican. It was really a different world then. The controversy over Robert Bork (Reagan anti-abortion nominee who lost Senate vote), which brought out the partisan claws on both sides, was the beginning of the slide into the current totally partisan Court, where you can usually tell (on politically contested cases) which way a Justice will vote depending on the partisan identity of the President who nominated them.

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I'm not sure I agree with you on causation - Bork was controversial in the Senate more because of the Friday Night Massacre than because of his abortion views, and Scalia (who shared those views) and Kennedy and Souter (who were believed incorrectly to do so) all passed without much partisan controversy - and Thomas was controversial because of Anita Hill, not because of his abortion positions.

But you're certainly right as to timing.

Every justice since Bork's replacement (Kennedy) was either a solid conservative appointed by a Republican or a solid liberal appointed by a Democrat, with the sole exception of David Souter who was incorrectly thought to be a conservative when appointed by George HW Bush and was protested by both NOW and NAACP. While Bork's immediate predecessor (Scalia) was also a solid conservative appointed by a Republican, there were plenty of moderates and liberals appointed by Republicans and, once you get back to those appointed by Democratic Presidents (Carter had none, so there were no Democratic appointments between 1968 and 1993), plenty of moderates (and White, a maverick) appointed by Democrats too.

The biggest problem with the modern court is that it has no center. Planned Parenthood vs Casey brought a moderate decision from three centrists (Souter, Kennedy and O'Connor) balancing between a right (Rehnquist, Scalia Thomas) and a left (Stevens, Blackmun) - with White doing his usual role of being right on some issues and left on others, in this case aligning with the right. It's fine to have a Scalia or a Thomas or a Douglas or a Stevens or a Sotomayor - but you need people in the middle as well, and you need them to be the median voters.

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“The biggest problem with the modern court is that it has no center”

To some folks the biggest problem is that the court’s center is less progressive than they’d like, but that does not mean there is no center. See, e.g., the 3-3-3 court theory:

https://reason.com/volokh/2021/06/18/we-dont-have-a-6-3-conservative-court-we-have-a-3-3-3-court/

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I've seen Blackman make this argument repeatedly and I just can't get on board. The way I roughly see it is that Gorsuch and Thomas are ideologues that can sometimes produce interesting results (Gorsuch much more than Thomas these days), Alito is a pure GOP hack, Roberts is a diluted GOP hack who knows when to push back against them to try to save them from themselves, and Kavanaugh and Barrett are still *shrug* on their motive.

That's a bit of caricature that won't always be accurate, but it also illustrates how there isn't a clear continuum on a single dimension on the right wing of SCOTUS.

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I wanted to add that also as an attorney who grew up.in the 60's, I came to appreciate that (it seemed to me) many justices who had lifetime appointments often seemed to feel unfettered in the ability and right to modify how they thought. After all, they are continuously learning and at the level they're on, have to try to make sense of so many moving parts. Yet, like elected officials, there needs to be some limits so say 20 years f a SC judge might be fine, with an ethical ban to working as an attorney or lobbyist in the future.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

I have to say that, at 72, and growing up in the 60's and reveling in the then SC's rulings. I look back at SC being activist in the sense of admitting the calendar has continued since the Constitution was written. Anyone who believes in strict interpretation need only look at how implicitly racist it was. And in fact, weren't the Bill of Rights (and Amendments) actually responses to the reality that the Constitution couldn't be "knows all, sees all" because of the change of time and people?

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"I look back at SC being activist in the sense of admitting the calendar has continued since the Constitution was written."

Would you agree with that interpretation now between the Rehnquist and Roberts courts?

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No. I don't think I would, at least not to that extent. I meant the SC as I viewed the Warren Court when I was in early adulthood and starting to look around me. As I sit here, I realize I am unread (or forgetful) if there was an impact on the "activism" of the Court as it had to deal with the fast-changing world of industrialization, especially post WWI.

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“…it had to deal with the fast-changing world of industrialization, especially post WWI”

Only in limited ways, such as grappling with the. Legal implications of new technology. By and large, though, it is for Congress to deal with the world as it changes.

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Thanks, Ken. I know how it is supposed to work. I was curious and will look into the notion of SC judicial activism as viewed over the years.

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To be honest, the extended pause on payments has been close to a cancellation of debt. Especially for those of us in the PSLF program.

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This is MY at his best and possibly his most important role: basically addressing WH staffers directly and shaking them out of their groupthink. Our subscription money well spent !

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I periodically wonder if his Twitter trolling is deliberate chum to kick the online left into a frenzy and make them look like complete morons in front of this core audience, eroding their priors a bit because they have to watch their peers’ batshittery.

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That's a real Dark Matt take... I like it.

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I think people just don't like thinking about trade offs, because they induce cognitive dissonance. Natural gas causes climate change but also lets people heat their homes. People don't like thinking about that conundrum.

The 'everything bagel' situation is going to result in a significant volume of capital and labour getting wasted. The effort is less about delivering goods and services for the right price, and more about delivering 'jobs'. What goods and services are going to be delivered when the objectives are simultaneously 'climate action', 'racial and economic equity', 'US made', and 'union jobs'? I suspect you will see underqualified and overpaid people making poor quality and expensive solar panels and wind turbines. 'Climate action' is therefore going to suffer, unless yet more money is squandered.

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I hate the truth that people don't like thinking about tradeoffs.

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IMO, this is the root of so many of the problems with The Discourse - that, and the apparent inability on the part of so many people to understand that perfect fairness ("equity") is not actually achieveable in the real world.

It makes my head explode that so many educated adults think this way, but apparently they do.

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I'm getting in the habit of warning people that I'm going to engage in economist brain when I try to explain that tradeoffs are going to make their ideal solution not as ideal as they hope for.

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What I don't get is why this kind of critical thinking is, or should be, peculiar to economists. I was required to take a course in critical thinking my freshman year of undergrad, at my non-Ivy, actually state-school, undergrad liberal arts program.

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There's no great way to do it, because if you say "we should stop this particular initiative," then you're an enemy to whatever cause that initiative addresses. But if you say "we should try do less of all this" without specifying what should go, then people will (not unreasonably) put you on the spot: "so what would you cut??"

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I think it is (or should be) possible to discuss a proposal in terms of potential benefits and costs, associated tradeoffs, how to pay for it, and so on. But that isn't fun as a spectator sport in the same way the current Discourse is.

(Not that I think you're advocating for the current Discourse! I just think that dynamics like stopping initiatives, being friends or enemies to causes, and demanding to know which tax increases/spending cuts would be tabled before program design is...unhelpful. I get, though, that that's how such discussions work now.)

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There are so, so many laws on the books that are clear examples of the lawmakers belief that they can magically make things better, because there will be no tradeoffs.

Rent control is one of the most obvious ones. We'll just wave a magic wand, and everyone pays less rent. Yay!

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

You are aware that most wind turbines erected in the US are built here?

Solar cells have been an exception but the manufacturing process is becoming exceptionally automated and, I would argue, ripe for reshoring and near-shoring much of the supply line.

I get that this comment section is, in the main, strongly pro-market, as am I.

But sometimes I swear the reflexive doubt of any kind of state role in industrial policy just pushes people to say stupid shit that’s not even rooted in how some sectors are structured under market forces.

I’m deeply leery of wide-ranging industrial policy (we would fuck up any attempt at crafting a MITI, and even in Japan MITI’s inability to step back once they reached the frontiers of technological development has been ruinous), but CHIPS and the IRA are very narrow in historical terms.

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I think I've always been open to fairly aggressive industrial policy in the narrow realm of non-GHG emitting energy, even if I didn't always think of it in those terms in my mind.

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Our failure to prioritize stems from our broad coalition with many disjoint interests. Historically, leaders from our different factions would negotiate out a cogent and realistic agenda in private (ie, smoke-filled rooms). Each would understand the need to at times defer some of their goals as part of the broader plan and long-term success. Further, these leaders could sell this approach to their constituents by highlighting previous victories achieved through our coalition and ongoing commitment to the faction’s enduring objectives.

Yet that is impossible today, primarily due to social media and the fragmented media and policy space. For example, if a formal labor leader attempted to pitch this approach to their members, they’d be crucified across social media, particularly by amateur journalists and NGOs. This is a concrete example from Nov 2022 in, “Railroad unions struggle to get rebellious workers to ‘yes’ on contracts.” [1]

I’m becoming increasingly concerned about our looming resolution to this unstable arrangement. Particularly as each group comes to see their supposed victories as nothing more than cheap messaging. Eg, when the child care stipulations added to CHIPS Act funding are no longer seen as a success from the policy groups pushing it when they discover that it accomplishes so little. Generalize this trend across all groups and each will become increasingly frustrated with our coalition. That could lead to even more inflammatory rhetoric and even less willingness to negotiate.

My fear is that groups and their constituents will become increasingly disillusioned and disengaged with the political process. We already have some of that from former Bernie supporters that now just attack Biden and the Democratic party, while espousing cynicism with the American political system. We do not need more of that!

[1] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/15/railroad-unions-struggle-00066603

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I share the Bernie bros’ frustration. Single payer healthcare is a modest goal, we’d only be 70 years behind the UK and 60 years behind Canada. Nor would it upend the social hierarchy, confiscate the estates of the rich or make it that much easier to tell your boss to fuck off. Yet single payer is unlikely to happen before I retire. If we can’t even build out basic parts of the safety net, why not be cynical?

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You apparently might be surprised how many Americans do not want single-payer healthcare! They do not merely quibble about the trajectory, but in fact disagree about the target.

I am rather tired of the modern progressive conceit that if we merely get society to shimmy its way onto a certain trajectory, the eventual end product will necessarily be achieved. And everyone will realize they love it, because we are Right.

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I used to tell Bernie folks that under a single-payer system like the one Bernie envisioned, eventually a Republican trifecta would come to power and start dictating what healthcare women, gay people, and trans people would have access to. People don't argue about it as much as they used to from 2016 to 2019, but all the red state governments right now are pretty much proving my point.

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I’m not surprised, I don’t think single payer is going to happen. But it’s my core goal, so O want anyone who doesn’t support some form of heavily subsidized universal healthcare out of my coalition. I’d rather lose elections than lose on this issue.

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Credit where credit is due, before Bernie’s two runs for president the idea wasn’t even in the mainstream conversation.

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You realize that most developed countries don't have single-payer healthcare right? Canada and the UK aren't representative. Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands all have some sort of market based system.

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i support single payer because of its simplicity and my hatred for kludges. but i’m not an ideologue. any kind of universal coverage main paid for by the government would float my boat

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I don't want a robust public option as a gotcha sneaky end-around on the path to single-payer--I want it because I want a forking robust public option! Different organizations with similar end products but very different incentive structures can push and pull in different ways and keep each other honest.

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Australia!

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Get a couple of big states to mandate unified rate-setting and offer a public option (which negotiates drug prices) on their state exchanges and you’ve basically converged with the latter two.

Once you have used those two innovations as sticks to beat most of the rent-seeking out, we’ll have a much better clue what more need be done.

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I think that the everything bagel approach is sort of a natural consequence of a political system where

A: the only viable mechanism for passing any remotely contentious legislation is budget reconciliation

B: Thermostatic midterm dynamics give every president basically two years to do anything

C: You have two big but weak political parties who need to rely on organized interest groups to turn out votes, raise funds, and craft policy.

Fix these issues, and we probably won’t have so much Everything Bagel.

I think that Democratic electeds currently have the most agency over point C— they can work on building a more permanent and party-controlled set of policymaking and voter-mobilizing institutions— under leadership elected by party members or appointed by elected officials— to reduce their dependence on the nonprofit-industrial complex.

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The point about budget reconciliation is highly underrated. I recall a few years ago Matt Bruenig proposed that Democrats hash out their entire policy agenda behind the scenes and then simply pass it all under a single reconciliation measure. And the response was basically that lawmakers need both the pressure of actually voting and the pomp of a passed bill to "shit or get off the pot" so to speak. Paradoxically, the fewer opportunities you have to actually vote, the harder it is to get people to actually acknowledge tradeoffs.

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Repeal BCRA! I don't think point C will get better until that happens.

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Matt doesn't say it, but I will. Ezra wrote a good and important column but blew it by framing around a terrible metaphor.

People like everything bagels - they're the best bagels! To understand that he's saying "Everything Bagel Liberalism" is bad, the audience has to have seen Everything Everywhere AO, remember the relevant scene, and note that Ezra's referencing this, and not just everything-bagels-the-delicious-food.

It provides such an obvious, lowest-common-denominator response ("I like Everything bagels!" or "here's a picture on twitter of me eating an everything bagel") that it basically rebuts itself.

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Maybe the worst metaphor for an important concept since "Motte and Bailey", popularized by Scott Alexander. This one requires knowledge of medieval defense architecture, and even if you learn that, both words are meaningless to most people outside of the phrase, so no one can remember which is motte and which is bailey.

The whole point of a metaphor is to take a complicated concept and reframe it as something simple and familiar!

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Ah, yes, I guess it doesn't work as well for Americans. Works far better if you live in a country where there are remains of the actual castles everywhere and most schoolkids visit at least one as an school trip at some point in their education.

Castle architecture is a thing that English schoolkids often learn because they'll visit castles with school and sometimes with their families as well - kids tend to like climbing around castles and think that castles are interesting.

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If you want to think of a cultural place for it: you know the kids who love dinosaurs and will tell you the difference between a brontosaurus and a diplodocus? Knowing the difference between a crenelation and a machicolation is the same sort of thing for British kids (yes, they do dinosaurs too - the point is that it's a prototypical hobby/interest for 8 year old boys).

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In their defense, Ezra Klein does not win elections for a living, but Joe Biden and his staff do. So they have decided that they don't want to address that the Democratic party's growing platform is the major problem in a new macroeconomic environment. Doesn't matter what metaphor Klein uses, they don't care for his argument and will tell him to kick rocks.

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I think I agree with you but on the other hand if he didn't use such a metaphor it wouldn't have been seen by nearly as many people and maybe its better that it got more spread? IDK though.

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I am not sure that climate/industrial/Union/equity is the Democrats biggest everything bagel problem.

If I were a Democrat, I’d be more concerned about catering to their various demographic groups. White College graduates, black men and women, LGBTQ supporters, Hispanics, the Poor, while maintaining coherent policies.

Republicans have the same problems. They are increasingly building their support among working class of all Races while trying to cater to the Rich (who socially are increasingly liberal).

Where Republicans have an advantage is they don’t pretend to offer the working class any concrete benefits but instead concentrate on social issues in which their are fewer financial trade offs, allowing them to continue to cut spending and lower taxes.

Democrats have a much more difficult needle to thread.

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Sometime last summer I was talking to Avery James about this over the phone for like 2 hours

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Yep. For a decade I’ve been saying there is a real chance that the parties partially flip.

Do Democrats start catering tax cuts to their college educated?

Do Republicans start going to more pro working class policies?

Republicans advantage is they keep things simpler. Lower taxes....

Republicans want to do more... which inevitably requires more trade-offs.

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College educated workers are the ones who really pay tax, since all their economic upside is W2 wages and there are few opportunities to mitigate those (SALT and MID basically). Republican upside is more complex: small businesses, inheritances, real estate empires, etc. Much of this is outside of or treated with kid gloves by the tax code. It would make sense for the parties to flip on the issue of upper marginal tax rates. The Republican working class base is in LCOL regions and low tax brackets anyway, and the Republican elite aren’t salaried employees.

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I'm looking for signs of this too, although I wouldn't anticipate a complete flip in everything.

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It’s never a compete flip. It’s more of a vibe shift. A demographic shift. Like when southerners went from Democratic to Republican.

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"social issues in which their are fewer financial trade offs"

I don't think this is true. The tradeoffs are just as expensive, and just as prevalent. They are just more hidden (which I am sure is feature, not bug, for Republicans).

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I agree with a caveat; reducing interest group patronage and thus your future taxes while targeting immigration to higher skilled labor that doesn't immediately compete with your labor market bracket was a winning working class outreach for the GOP in 1890s, and it is a winning working class outreach for the GOP in the 2020s. It matters to lots of people that the governing party's policy doesn't erode their real wages through inflation and patronage to Democratic constituencies.

It shouldn't surprise people that the top issues GOP won the 2022 midterms on were cost of living, energy, and immigration. Not CRT or gender identity, although there are concrete ways the Democratic party makes bad policy in both of those dimensions too. They just aren't the top issues for most people, so I wouldn't list them as the top issue. Neither would Speaker McCarthy of course, who decided H.R. 1 would be an enormous energy supply-side bill.

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I started off against student loan forgiveness, but now my daughter has some. So.... forgiving loans would be good. Except my other daughter is about to start college, so what about her.

Man... even with scholarships and in-state tuition, college is expensive.

I’m 53, and my youngest is 12. Last night I figured out that I will be working until 63 at least. They are going to have to have wheelchair access up to the deck of the power plants. So I think the lesson here is have kids younger.

Anyway, I wasn’t exactly sure of the central point of Matt’s article, not because it’s bad, but mainly because I’m a bit groggy. But I never let comprehension stop me from rambling on about whatever I feel like.

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I feel your pain (I have kids in college), but loan foregiveness doesn't solve the long-term problem of affordability and future loan debt. Foregiveness incentivizes universities to keep raising their tuitions.

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You are absolutely right. That is probably my number one reason for being against student loan forgiveness.

And I have more kids going to college in the future than I have with current student loan debt.

The question is will tuition rise more than my daughters current debt, which is about $10,000.

But I should point out that I think it was either Matt or Noah who pointed out that college tuition is actually trending down, as the college age population decreases.

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I hope that trend continues. Many colleges have not been spending their money wisely, such as on every-growing bureaucracies that add little of educational value.

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One of the big transitions over the past few years is the removal of learning from education. Higher education is such a game of rent seeking admins.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

It's a band aid that won't stop the wound from festering. A beginning of a solution would be to legislate/ (de)regulate massive cuts to the admin bloat and force universities to go back to instruction primarily by tenured faculty. also states need to fund higher education again in a serious way, all those cuts are costly.

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You have to remember, as well, that in the countries which offer free tertiary education the trade-off is that the state tells you whether your kid can avail themselves of it or not.

I’d prefer to file the edges off our system instead of adopting the German one as most of our college leftists want.

Though watching the pool of post-liberal, race-obsessed lefty graduates from fourth- and fifth-rate liberal arts colleges dry up like tadpoles in a puddle under such a system would be nice.

Dammit, now I’m divided…

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My proposal is to find away to give colleges skin in the game for student loans.

Have them responsible for say 50% if all defaults.

The issue is finding a way to do this that doesn’t penalize minorities or 1st generation students.

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You could just have the federal government compensate the colleges for the extra underwriting risk for minorities, first generation, poor etc students. Basically, the feds cover the risk adjustment for qualities it doesn't want disvouraged (indeed that creates an opportunity for any college that can suceed at a greater rate).

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That is actually what I had in mind! Didn't think of the phrase underwriting though. Perhaps give bonuses for successful outcomes of more at risk populations.

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Hopefully that will take care of itself. I mean if the government compensates you assuming these populations will default at one rate and you improve their outcomes then you'll actually have a lower default rate.

And I figure you'd want the government to recompute the default risks something like every 10 years based on the performance data seen during that timeframe. This means that the incentive should be to admit those students and copy the best models so you can profit from the improved outcomes.

In fact I think this is a MUCH better system than affirmative action. It focuses on where the real problem is (broad based admission to colleges not PR at the ivies) and it doesn't create the same impression of 'their just here because of AA' and it gives these colleges an incentive to make sure they actually get good jobs rather than pushing them through the easiest major so they can get diversity points.

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That's still a particularly tricky one, because what are the conditions of the "defaults."

If you choose a career path that doesn't begin to pay off until after 10 or 20 years, or happen to graduate in a recession, or have some medical emergency, or just plain ole decide to get pregnant and/or start a family sooner than later, the financial viability of repaying a loan, that's still bearing interest, all goes out the window.

Debt is simply a bad way to fund the education required to be an effective and productive member of society.

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Just give the universities a 50% (modulo risk adjustment for ppl like first time students we don't want to discourage from being admitted) interest in the payment stream. You don't need to define default, it's just the expected repayment value (if the government wants to cover interest they adjust they cover the difference).

And I'm not convinced that loans for education are that bad a way to pay for it *if* you have guardrails to prevent against predatory colleges etc and make sure everyone can get such loans. We might also want to make schools refund a percentage if the student fails to graduate.

Yes, going into non-lucrative careers or careers that pay off much later may mean you build up interest. But that's just a reflection of the real world cost in resources consumed.

I'm a mathematician so I totally appreciate going into subjects that require a ton of education and aren't super renumerative. But I choose that because I enjoy that career and I don't see why taxpayers who might have decided to take a better paying job they like less should subsidize my career.

I feel like the real problem is the cost of college not the idea that people should in some sense pay back the cost of their training.

OTOH a large part of college costs is just the social experience of going off and living for four years. I'm onboard if we want the government to pay for that experience for everyone but we can't do that under the guise of it being all educational as an excuse to deny people without academic aspirations that benefit (if we cover living costs at schools that teach trades that might work).

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Eh. Why doesn’t the Dept of Education apply the same scrutiny they applied to for profits to traditional institutions. We basically stopped giving Federal student loans to for profits, but let non-profits still get federal loans while they engage in similar malfeasance.

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I've been noodling on it. I'm not sure that 50% is exactly the right amount. I'm not sure that colleges-only is the right set of... co-signers? Maybe some non-profits want to put their skin in the game for 20% of a kid they think has promise.

I do think some sort of co-responsibility is the only plausible path forward that doesn't just freeze out large swaths of the population.

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Lol, that would have the same effect of putting all the cut-rate liberal arts colleges out of business.

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If colleges aren’t value added, then, maybe they do need to go away

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