513 Comments

I'm glad kids from Yale are finally getting opportunities to have a platform.

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Me too. For too long Slow Boring has been dominated by Harvard men (and women). Diversity is our strength 🦾

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Matt could make a nice gesture, and one I’d appreciate, by hiring a researcher from a state flagship. Yet Milan would have been an idiot to choose UMass over Yale. He’s really smart, he does good work, and we should all be proud that America continues to produce fine young minds.

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Where did Ben go?

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GW

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Which is equivalent to a state flagship, but it’s different because he’s not in college.

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Jun 5Liked by Milan Singh

This article resonates well with a segment of the emergency Politix podcast where Matt and Brian discuss the value of relitigating early Trump era issues. It's easy to forget that every presidential election 1/3 of the 18-30 demographic has aged out and 1/3 is brand new. It helps me understand how the youngest segment is reacting to Trump - many were minors during his presidency and came of age during the Biden admin, so their first formative political experience is the rocky comedown of the pandemic, and their memories of the Trump admin seem calmer by comparison.

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Well also I don’t think that from the standpoint of someone who started college in 2021, Biden taking over necessarily looked like an improvement in Covid policy.

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Also, even in the Ivies, or circles of the Ivies, everyone isn't super-political, or super into political details or position knowledge.

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Jun 5·edited Jun 5

This article reinforces my sense that the current of this election is being driven less by policy issues or even the candidates themselves and more by 1) a specific anger that things are more expensive now than they were five years ago and wanting to punish someone for it, and 2) a broader feeling of nostalgia for 2016-2019 and hope that by re-electing The Management from that period things will go back to the way they were pre-pandemic. This is why I have trouble taking any discussion of campaign messaging seriously: it's all Vibes, man.

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Vibes and campaign messaging seem like related topics

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I get that, but even after listening to your discussions with Brian about messaging I'm not convinced that messaging strategies like "remind people Trump is a terrible person", "point out The Economy is Good, Actuually", or even your "Here are how Trump's proposed policies will make things worse" address that this election is essentially a referendum on things that have already happened.

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Pointing out how Trumps policy’s will make inflation worse seems higher value than the other strategies mainly because it hasn’t really been tried at any scale

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Per Future Forward's ad testing, the most persuasive stuff is contrast messaging

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Anywhere we can read up on that?

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Nowhere public I don't think

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i think no one is trying it because getting voters to reason or care about specific economic policies is typically a fruitless endeavor and is highly unlikely to work, because most people do not understand things (as is evidenced by this article where Milan interviews people who I am sure are all very bright and yet they are all woefully politically illiterate minus the one global affairs kid)

but i agree that they might as well try it anyway it's not like they will have a shortage of campaign funds

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It might be helpful for people who are voting Trump because "I want prices to go down" will be bad because prices will go up under Trump.

But OTOH I feel like any voter who is using this framework is likely to be very economically illiterate, and extremely unlikely to believe you about this, even with evidence and reasoning.

Prices went up while Biden was in office, therefore Biden must be the cause, and they will go down if I vote for someone else, is likely the furthest anyone in this category is likely to think.

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Very easy to overestimate a campaign’s ability to influence vibes.

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But only to a point. If Democrats had listened to Larry Summers and trimmed down the checks, maybe America wouldn't have lead as dramatically in consumer inflation in late 2021 (before the energy shock in Europe due to Ukraine) and Biden would be polling better on cost of living. If Biden's DHS people hadn't ripped up Remain in Mexico so eagerly and suspended deportations for 100 days, maybe Biden wouldn't be doing damage control with the executive order this week. Real policy choices were made, they had consequences, and it's somewhat constraining how easily the incumbent can persuade voters he will make better choices on these issues in a second term.

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Has there been any rigorous work to determine which components of ARPA were most contributory to inflation, between individual checks, state and local money, etc?

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Yes, lots of interesting research on this. The SF Fed argued 3 percentage points in US by end of 2021 was due to fiscal stimulus[1]. Obviously that leaves 6 percentage points to explain, and there it looks like COVID supply shocks are a likely culprit[2]. Now, that might sound underwhelming (hence "lead as dramatically" as my counterfactual hinge), but I think it has serious implications for how much the Fed had to raise rates later. The rates, in turn, have large implications for financing car and house purchases, which are likely the missing piece driving American consumers' persistently terrible economic ratings even as the inflation rate has fallen and unemployment remains incredibly low, which we typically call a great economy[3].

[1] https://www.frbsf.org/research-and-insights/publications/economic-letter/2022/03/why-is-us-inflation-higher-than-in-other-countries/

[2] https://www.nber.org/papers/w31417

[3] https://www.nber.org/papers/w32163

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Thanks for the sources - exactly what I was wondering!

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Exactly, especially with immigration!

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Jun 5Liked by Milan Singh

The median New York Times reader is old.

Why am I starting a post this way? Because Matt over and over again has noted over that these articles about goings on at college campuses keep getting written because they keep getting read by readers. And not just campus protests about Gaza. Just go back in your head and think about the number of op-Eds, think pieces, long form stories about various professors “cancelled”, cringy DEI stuff, first person POV from professors about college students today etc.

And yet here is Milan pointing out that most of the cringiest stuff that gets most of the clicks or has the most articles is just so far removed from most college kids experiences or concerns. And you know what, I can say from personal experience this fits. Was in college starting fall, 2001 to 2006. So 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq invasions. All events way more impactful to all Americans than the current Gaza war. And I went to a school where kids would particularly politically engaged (lots of children of parents who worked in Washington). And you know what we talked about most? What parties are you going to Friday? Who wants to see that new spider man movie with Tobey McGuire? Wait who’s dating who now? Dude where did this Tom Brady guy come from and the Patriots are good now? Normal young college kid stuff.

And here we are today and based on our best understanding of survey data, young people are doing less drugs and having less sex than 20-25 years ago. To the point you get social conservatives fretting that kids maybe aren’t having enough sex (I can’t emphasize this enough just astonishing for someone who’s formative years is the late 90s and early 2000s*).

So to those readers clicking on all those Gaza protest articles and “cancel culture out of control” articles. Hate to break it to you but what it says is you’re old. The fact these articles are most viewed on New York Times might as well being a flashing message of “get off my lawn”. I really hope posts like this from Milan can create at least a sliver of genuflection from older readers and news watchers.

*I’m actually (I think) aware what actually ties late 90s social conservatism, current fretting over birth rates and yes current evangelical love of philanderer Donald Trump. Something that’s crystallized almost daily. All of this is about trying to control women’s agency. Specifically, trying to control how women have sex and control a woman’s own body. It’s how you can be an anti-abortion zealot and also love Trump. News out of Texas just last few days just adds another data point to me that it’s really this simple as far as I can see.

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"All of this is about trying to control women’s agency."

This is insane. It's crazy how much the conspiracy mindset poisons even the smartest people, distorting their understanding of society and increasing our baseline levels of hostility.

Do people exist for whom that would be the point? Sure, but ironically, they're the mirror image of the campus protesters you identify as an atypical minority. More often, the people you're talking about harbor heartfelt objections to what they view as murder, are genuinely worried about depopulation or concerned about the emotional and social hazards of a sexually permissive culture. It's true that they value women's agency less than you or I do, and that's bad, but it's much different than "the cruelty is the point". (To say nothing of the broad, cross-ideological trend away from acknowledging agency at all.)

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+1 and I always assume anyone making the "All of this is about trying to control women’s agency" argument doesn't actually personally know many, if any, pro-lifers. Because while I'm sure there are some people who malevolently want to "control women's agency," there are also clearly a lot of people (including all the female pro-lifers I've ever personally encountered) who appear to just be extremely invested in the idea, "Babies = Good therefore Abortion = Bad," without much, if any, deeper thought on the subject.

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I actually agree. I’ve made the comparison a few places but worth reiterating here.

Left wing NIMBYs often sincere motive is to help disadvantaged communities. Left Wing NIMBYs actual agenda is driven by wealthier homeowners trying to protect their house values.

I’ll elaborate too. On an individual basis, if you go to a zoning meeting an answer you’ll get from an individual NIMBY is some version of protecting the “character of the community” and often some defense of protecting existing residents. But let’s be real here. Talk to a lot of these same people long enough and some real reasons start coming out about why they oppose development; apartments bring “those people” being one I’ve heard and read more than once. Matt is fond of trying to point out NIMBY is very often not about racism but I think even Matt would tell you that’s at least still a big factor (especially decades ago when these anti development laws were enacted).

There are millions of pro life voters out there. To say I know what goes on deep in the mind of all of these voters would be extremely silly. But I have talked to pro life voters when doing campaign work. And yeah, like the NIMBY stuff, it became clear how much pro life stuff was pretty tied to views about traditional gender roles with more than a few people I talked to.

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Gender roles seem orthogonal to the abortion issue in general, though. There's no self-evident inconsistency between "I think a woman's place is in the home making dinner for her husband and raising her children" and "If the marginal child would be inconvenient, abortion is okay." Presumably even people with extremely traditional gender role attitudes make widespread (if lower than gen-pop) use of birth control, or at a minimum haven't made it much of a policy issue.

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Control over one’s reproduction is absolutely central to overturning traditional gender roles. Now, this should mean contraception rather than abortion, but sadly, not everyone is diligent about their contraceptive use.

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It's worth noting that there are a huge number of women with sympathy towards traditional gender roles. There aren't that many women who self-ID as feminist, for example.

Also, I think "traditional gender roles" are also fairly orthogonal to "controlling women." Women in traditional relationships--for example, stay-at-home moms who think the first role of a woman is to be a wife and a mother--do not see themselves as being controlled or unequal.

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I grew up in a place where pro-lifers were about 50% of the population. So I met a lot of them. Every one of them, to a man/woman, were also against:

- sex education in grade school

- sec education in high school that didn't explicitly advocate abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy

- teaching kids how to put on a condom (see above)

- condom machines in bathrooms (many, condoms in general)

- giving teens the ability to get a prescription for the pill without their mother's consent or knowledge

and a host of other things that would demonstrably reduce abortions (remember, this is back during Roe/Wade, abortion was absolutely legal).

Curious, isn't it?

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This isn't curious at all - you might as well say "how curious, that they're opposed to murdering every woman capable of childbirth" as if they're some kind of monomaniacal anti-abortion AI.

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These logical leaps and mind reading efforts are always so bizarre to me. I see nothing crazy about the following responses to your examples (none of which are mine, but I don't struggle to believe or understand those who disagree with me on these issues):

- sex education in grade school

RESPONSE: Children are too young and impressionable to be exposed to sexual themes.

- sec education in high school that didn't explicitly advocate abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy

RESPONSE: Teaching children about sex and how to engage in it in ways that lessen the negative consequences will only serve to encourage more sexual behavior, and children engaging in sex is bad for a whole host of reasons (unwanted pregnancies, poor social outcomes from out of wedlock children, not to mention that STDs can still be transmitted if prevention measures are engaged in. After all, children are not super responsible, so they may plan on being safe and then abandon it when their hormones overwhelm their decision making).

- teaching kids how to put on a condom (see above)

RESPONSE: See above.

- condom machines in bathrooms (many, condoms in general)

RESPONSE: See above.

- giving teens the ability to get a prescription for the pill without their mother's consent or knowledge

RESPONSE: This is a serious decision that an underage teen is not well suited to make. We require parental consent for all kinds of things, and medication that can have side effects, sometimes serious, is not something that children should be deciding without their parents input.

Honestly, I don't see why we infer nefarious motivations to millions of people around these issues. I disagree wholeheartedly with them, but they're all more than willing to explain to you why they hold these attitudes. You choose not to believe them because of this grand conspiracy theory where they've all agreed not to say what their REAL motivations are, but secretly they all agree that what they're actually interested in is controlling women's bodies. I find it very odd.

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All of those responses basically boil down, though, to "I don't care about abortion as much as I care about controlling your behavior"

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They literally don’t though. I have no idea where you’re getting that from.

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Do you think gun violence is a big problem in this country? If so, do you think that public schools should offer classes in safe gun handling and storage?

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Yes.

Not sure if you were trying to pull some weird "Catch the lefty in his hypocrisy" jedi mind trick on me, but I am sorry sir, this is the Slow Boring comment section.

FWIW where and when I grew up, this was not 100% left/right coded. Lots of pro-life catholics who nevertheless voted Dem back in the day.

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Fair enough. My point was not so much about hypocrisy as trying to illustrate that there's a difference between policies that mitigate certain effects of bad behaviors and policies that reduce the bad behaviors overall. I know now it's not your view, but I imagine some Democrats probably believe that given you own a gun, it's better to store it safely than not. But, normalizing gun ownership by teaching gun safety in schools is counterproductive if the goal is to minimize the private ownership of firearms. Anyway, the mirror image re: abortion and sex education is more or less my view.

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That sounds like a great idea to me.

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As someone who attended Catholic schooling, this is accurate. That said, it is clear that misogyny is pretty pervasive in the online, alt/post-religious right, which gives them a point of alignment against abortion despite not having the same religious misgivings.

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Sure, but it's impossible to understand, let alone combat, the pro-life movement by acting as though the guy living in his parents' basement with a Pepe avatar sporting a Hitler moustache while posting on an Andrew Tate subreddit is the median member. A 50-something woman with an overly-friendly demeanor, closet full of floral-print dresses, and thirty photos of her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews posted on her desk and around her cubicle is probably much closer to the median and she's not going to take seriously the claim that prohibiting abortions after a heartbeat is detected will inevitably result in women losing the right to vote and own property.

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Oh, I agree - but these days the average Republican staffer is more likely to be the incel than the nice 50-something woman.

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Jun 5Liked by Milan Singh

Sorry but no. If the anti-abortion crowd cared about babies, they would do everything in their power to strengthen the social safety net for mothers and children. In reality, most anti-abortion conservatives don’t give a hoot about helping babies once they’re born.

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There is a vast and legitimate gulf between "don't murder" and "expansive welfare state".

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Abortion is not murder

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It's not, but that's typically how pro-lifers frame it, which is what I think Lapsed Pacifist was referencing, not what his own position is.

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Correct.

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If you meant in a legal sense, you’re correct. If you meant in a moral sense, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

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Seems much more correct morally than legally these days.

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Yes it is.

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I’m sure you understand that many women abort (not “murder”) their embryos because they feel they can’t afford to raise them, and a strong welfare state would help.

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The fact that nobody on the left argues “make the welfare state stronger then ban abortion” shows this is all a strawman.

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Ever heard of Elizabeth Bruenig? Or, like, Catholics at Niskanen?

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Abortion opponents presumably would argue that the murder prohibition they think applies is freestanding and independent of the welfare state issue by the same reasoning that makes it illegal to, like, mercy-kill homeless people. The goal being advanced is the deontological dictate "don't murder and punish murderers" rather than the goal of increasing the number of babies born by hook or by crook or the welfare of said babies once born. There isn't supposed to be a need for a marginal disincentive to commit murder, in general.

The preferable equilibrium solution (from both pro/anti abortion sides, really) to the problem would be to disincentivize people without the means of raising babies from getting pregnant, rather than either suborning baby-murder (assuming you believe abortion to be such) or subsidizing births among the cohort of people who lack the means to raise their kids.

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This is an incredibly strange response that I have a hard time integrating into what I know about you. I can think of dozens of specific reasons people might not advocate for a stronger social safety net, even though they care about babies. In broad strokes, they would probably fall into some combination of:

- Competing priorities.

- Lack of confidence in the government.

- Deep-seated, principled opposition to welfare.

- Opposition to promoting babies generally, as opposed to babies among specific sub-populations.

What's more, it seems like the fertility crisis is indeed welfare-pilling a fair number of conservatives!

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1) "competing priorities" is exactly what he said -- anti-abortionists don't really care that much about babies compared to other things they want / don't want, so forcing women to have babies they don't want or can't afford without offering a credible safety net is a kind of easy "no regrets" policy option for them, not a principled position about improving the lives of babies or mothers;

2) Lack of confidence in the ability of government to send out monthly or annual checks? That's one of the things at which the government excels... ;

3) "Deep-seated and principled opposition to welfare" that helps parents raise children is exactly the same as "competing priorities" -- it betrays a lack of concern for the health and welfare of the very unwanted children that the anti-abortionists insist be brought into the world, which is why we continue to have higher rates of child poverty than senior poverty;

4) "Opposition to promoting babies generally..." - By definition abortion bans do not distinguish among "sub-populations", so the thrust of this objection is that these "principled opponents" would be fine subsidizing the "right kind" of accidental and unwanted babies, but won't do it because it would inadvertently help some of the "wrong kind" of accidental and unwanted babies, who they would prefer to see wallow in poverty than to help;

I hope you're right that something is welfare-pilling these monsters you describe, but you know, tick-tock.

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> "competing priorities" is exactly what [s]he said ...

There's no way to have a constructive conversation if you're going to interpret sentences in an highly idiosyncratic way without at least acknowledging the more conventional / likely meaning.

Dropsophilist wrote "if the anti-abortion crowd cared about babies [*], they would do everything in their power to strengthen the social safety net for mothers and children."

You could argue that's ambiguous and say that the sentence fundamentally needs clarifying because you can imagine several interpretations, which could be clarified by inserting additional text at the spot I marked with [*]:

- "at all"

- "more than anything else"

- "given what that would entail for me"

Maybe you've got some other ideas. At any rate, I think it would be wrong - I think that in context, the sentence clearly implies the first option (or perhaps the third option, particularly in some sense of "what was meant", but that's less effective rhetorically), but it would be more conducive to discussion that what you've done here which is pretend that she obviously meant number two, which is ridiculous given that, as far as I know, no one has claimed that.

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Sorry if my response above seemed unfair, but:

1) I don't think Dropsophilist was ambiguous under any normal interpretation of this discourse; the implausible reading would be that she meant something like anti-abortionists are physiologically incapable of summoning normal empathy for human beings (your "number one");

2) The conversation is about your reasons / excuses for anti-abortionists to oppose welfare-enhancing programs for the children they insist on bringing into the world over their mothers' objections. I don't think any of those reasons / excuses make sense or show any intellectually consistent concern for the welfare of this particular group of children;

3) So I would be interested in why you think that's the wrong conclusion (if you do), or what other, better justifications these people can offer for their anti-abortion + anti-welfare-for-mandatory-children position.

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The real solution is to abort the pro-forced birth vermin ASAP

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I want to reinforce your very last point; Hungary's Orban is the right's current darling and he has a variety of policies to provide handouts to families. If you go country by country it's a top priority of many other right-wing leaders.

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To be fair to Orban (who doesn't usually deserve it), pro-natalist social welfare policies have been pretty ubiquitous in "classic conservative" circles going back to the 19th Century, so he's not really "welfare-pilled" as much as being consistent with politicians like Bismarck.

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I dashed off my comment quickly on my way out the door and I omitted any nuance, you’re right.

My logic goes as follows:

1. Many women who abort say they do so for economic reasons; America is worse for mothers than many other wealthy countries; e.g. no government mandated maternity leave.

2. If pro-lifers cared about babies as their top priority, they would push for policies that make it easier for women to have babies.

3. But they don’t.

Disclaimer, of course there are pro-lifers who do support a strong safety net. But they seem to be a minority.

Also, in fairness, “I support x as long as doesn’t cost me anything “ is a common position; see: all the people who claim to care about climate change but scream bloody murder when gas prices go up.

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I didn't list “I support x as long as doesn’t cost me anything“, but should have - that and "cognitive dissonance" both had a place on my mental list.

Most importantly, I'm not trying to argue that those positions are correct*, just that they're reasonable, recognizable configurations of human sympathies that explain anti-abortion voters' behavior better than "they want to control women's bodies".

* Though many of them have merit, I'm still pro-choice and support some a social safety net.

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Couldn't pro-life people just flip this around and say you'll do anything for a poor baby girl except use the law to protect her from being killed for being a girl up to the minute before she is born? It's often best to argue the possible (de)merits over the possible motives of policy.

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“they would do everything in their power to strengthen the social safety net…”

Many of them donate time and money to their church. Or by “social safety net” do you mean only government welfare spending?

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It’s the only legitimate kind.

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Similarly, if liberals really cared about "universal healthcare", they'd focus all their efforts on providing healthcare to those most vulnerable and for whom healthcare would be most beneficial: babies in utero. Since they instead approve of abortion, we can conclude that leftists don't care about healthcare at all; it's just a front to expand the government and take a big step toward socialism. This sort of reasoning is correct and fair, I'm sure you'll agree, since it's what you're engaged in.

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You don't have to argue about safety nets.

Pro-Life activists make up the vast majority of opposition to things that would reduce unwanted pregnancies, such as sex education and access to contraception (notice I am not talking about subsidies, just access). At some point, the common denominator is clear.

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They also think that taking away the social safety net is what is best for the babies. It infuriates me to my core but that is what they think.

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If you just *give* babies food, they'll never learn the value of hard work. Babies need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps!!

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I think you're comparison with campus protestors is extraordinarily instructive. Because the cases are basically inverted.

The campus protests or clearly wildly to the left and out of touch with not just Democratic elites but regular Democratic voters. If anything, the protestors have actually harmed their cause with how extreme some of their demands have been. You have a few Democratic politicians like Primila Jayapal who have had some pro Palestinian sentiments and yet even here see her statement on Hamas. https://jayapal.house.gov/2023/12/05/jayapal-statement-on-hamas-use-of-rape-and-sexual-violence/. Maybe most importantly, Netanyahu is about to have a speech to a joint session of Congress with both Hakeem Jeffries and Chuck Schumer inviting him to speak.

With abortion? Yeah the GOP establishment is the fringe. Ken Paxton is the attorney general of the state of Texas, not a 20 year old student at University of Texas. Sam Alito is a sitting supreme court justice, not a law student at Yale. Please see the actual state laws passed in Texas. Please see the recent law passed in Louisiana regarding mifepristone. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/louisiana-law-abortion-pills-controlled-dangerous-substances-rcna153937.

Like everyone else here, I've see the results of the state ballot initiatives in places like Kansas and Kentucky. Given the demographics of these states, that means there were a whole lot of voters who classify themselves as "pro life" who said to themselves these strict abortion restrictions go too far. These are the people you allude to I suspect have the "heartfelt" objections to abortion who I suspect if I talked to for awhile we could possibly come to some sort of understanding on the issue. And there is clearly probably millions of people who fall into this bucket.

But the GOP establishment and elite. Different story. And lest we forget at the end of the day these are the people who actually pass laws and prosecute cases.

So if you want me to amend my statement to say that on individual level, pro-life voters can have some pretty varied reason for their beliefs; pretty varied beliefs about what should or shouldn't be legal and often very heartfelt earnest reasons for being pro-life. 1000% no question. But as a political movement? Or the main leaders? In other words the people who actually create policy? Yeah, I actually think I'm going to stand my claim and defend it.

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We've got plenty of common ground here, and I'm comfortable with your amended position.

There's no question that the GOP establishment straight-up welcomes people that match your original description, but I don't think it's useful in a discussion focused on voters.

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Fair enough I guess.

Maybe I should bring up almost an opposite figure on the left to see where I'm getting at.

Aaron Peskin's opposition to housing seems very heartfelt. From wikipedia "As a student at UC Santa Cruz, Peskin was the spokesman for a student group called Campus Association for Responsible Development which sought to limit enrollment growth.[9] Peskin sued the school over a plan to build more student dorms". So this isn't some new thing where he's changing his positions based on who pays him most ala Trump. He really does think more housing is bad and apparently has felt this way for awhile. And he's probably the number 1 most powerful NIMBY in SF. His stated reasons are varied but include his apparent belief that he's protecting the interests of the most vulnerable residents of the city.

His actual policies are really about protecting the interests of wealthy SF homeowners. He spearheaded blocking waterfront development in SF at the behest of wealthy homeowners who don't want their views spoiled.

In other words, saying Aaron Peskin's heartfelt beliefs are about helping the disadvantaged and that his actual agenda is about protecting wealthy homeowners is not in tension. Give him a lie detector and Peskin probably passes. And yet it's also the "truth' that his NIMBYism is really about catering to his wealthier constituents personal grievances.

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What about the examples you provide (Paxton, Alito) rebuts Deadpan's point? It would seem just as easy (easier?) to categorize their stances as being based on a heartfelt and genuine belief that abortion is murder than it is to say that they're trying to control women's agency. Can you expand upon your claim that those mainstream individuals prove that it's not about protecting life so much as controlling women?

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I wrote below, but I think helps get at what I'm trying to say here:

Maybe I should bring up almost an opposite figure on the left to see where I'm getting at.

Aaron Peskin's opposition to housing seems very heartfelt. From wikipedia "As a student at UC Santa Cruz, Peskin was the spokesman for a student group called Campus Association for Responsible Development which sought to limit enrollment growth.[9] Peskin sued the school over a plan to build more student dorms". So this isn't some new thing where he's changing his positions based on who pays him most ala Trump. He really does think more housing is bad and apparently has felt this way for awhile. And he's probably the number 1 most powerful NIMBY in SF. His stated reasons are varied but include his apparent belief that he's protecting the interests of the most vulnerable residents of the city.

His actual policies are really about protecting the interests of wealthy SF homeowners. He spearheaded blocking waterfront development in SF at the behest of wealthy homeowners who don't want their views spoiled.

In other words, saying Aaron Peskin's heartfelt beliefs are about helping the disadvantaged and that his actual agenda is about protecting wealthy homeowners is not in tension. Give him a lie detector and Peskin probably passes. And yet it's also the "truth' that his NIMBYism is really about catering to his wealthier constituents personal grievances.

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Also, GOP politicans have to survive primaries and primary voters (of all stripes) skew towards the more extreme members of that party.

Maybe it's not a deeply-held belief, maybe it's a fear that they'll be punished for the deeply held beliefs of their primary voters if they don't try to pass these laws, but that _still_ is consistent with Deadpan's point.

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They have no heartfelt beliefs because they’re not actually human beings. Does cancer have heartfelt beliefs?

Ken fucking Paxton? Let’s be real. He’s just Trump with a law degree, and both are tumors, not people.

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Tomato tomato :)

But seriously, in these cases I feel it is worth asking whether these individuals’ views are more consistent with a pro-life or with a pro-“control” ethos.

I’m not sure that their pro-life bona fides withstand that kind of scrutiny, but I’ll acknowledge this isn’t something I have deep familiarity with.

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It also is using an emotional appeal to try to ignore the actual moral issue. I mean, was Me Too all about trying to control men's agency? Yeah, viewed from a certain way, it was. But that certainly doesn't mean that its goals were bad. Every law is an attempt to control people's agency by stopping them from doing the prohibited thing.

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This is a good point. Any proponents of government want to control agency.

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The readers are old, but the writers appear to be writing for each other, which I think was kind of the point that the new WaPo leadership was making. A lot of very online people who are older care about the protests, but as we see in most polling, most Americans don’t rate Israel-Gaza in the top 5 or even 10 issues they care about. Journalists writing for their peer group are one of the reasons for general disconnect from media, I think.

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to some extent i think this is rational.

if you think about the dynamics of a shrinking industry, where simply being a decent performer is not enough to guarantee job security even during a period of high employment across the economy, it seems that cultivating an impression internally that you are a significant journalist doing significant work is pretty important so that you have allies.

besides that, a lot of clicks are driven by social media and a lot of *those* clicks are driven by journalists reposting each others' articles to their followers with slight commentary, so obviously writing about what those people will want to comment on is important

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Meh, those allies at the peer level aren’t going to protect your job when it comes time to do layoffs.

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Suspect this is part of it as well. But editors are older as well as actual owners. To buttress Matt's point, MSM media are profit making entities. Young reporters may like to write about particular topics because its important in their circle, but they're not getting the go ahead from above to write the 4th, 6th or 8th story on a particular topic unless the previous stories drove traffic previously.

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I subscribed to the NYT about a month ago and for the first couple of weeks I was genuinely wondering if I was somehow using it wrong because the coverage was so dominated by campus protests.

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Not just the NYT. Yesterday's LA Times had an article about how "tension and anxiety pervade the UCLA campus." I walk around the campus all the time and I've never seen such a joyous bunch of undergraduates enjoying the spring weather and celebrating their upcoming graduation.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2024-06-04/ucla-after-protests-uc-strike-stokes-tension-anxiety

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It's really kind of amazing to see that a lesson MSM took from Fox News is that there is a lot of money to be made from scaring old people about kids today.

On a related note, thought these were two revealing articles to me was this article in the Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2023/03/negativity-bias-online-news-consumption/673499/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/24/briefing/boulder-shooting-george-segal-astrazeneca.html

The second one was especially instructive. It's about COVID and negativity bias, but I feel fairly certain is attributable to all sorts of topics and attributable here. Given the age profile of typical Times reader or Fox watcher there is clearly a huge incentive to highlight any extreme behavior young people are up to even if it's wildly unrepresentative.

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Jun 5·edited Jun 5

"I walk around the campus all the time and I've never seen such a joyous bunch of undergraduates enjoying the spring weather and celebrating their upcoming graduation."

You know that the graduate students are on strike again, though, right? There was a picket line outside Murphy Hall not three days ago.

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Yeah, I observed one of their bigger protest sessions in front of the library the other day. I suspect this is entirely performative and the strike will end when, duh, the academic year ends in a couple days.

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I mean grad students are year round, and I’m all about grad student strikes, having been one myself.

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First of all, campus protest and "cancel culture" is covered obsessively in right-wing media, where the audience is REALLY old, so I have no idea why you think this is somehow related to the NYT. Second, if there is any important takeaway from the article it's that young voters are at least as ill-informed and sub-rational in making political choices as the median voter, if not more. The difference is that they lack even the most basic sense of history or experience, which permits them to say things like "things seemed calmer under Trump". Third, "sliver of genuflection" is both a terrible metaphor and a very odd request -- asking "old" voters to be grateful or deferential to "young" voters when we've just learned that they are the same or worse as voters than everybody else. On what basis would anybody genuflect to that?

Finally, the idea that "you can be an anti-abortion zealot and also love Trump" is not an explanation of anything, but a description of some group of voters who are profoundly confused morally, intellectually and politically, and who don't seem to understand how elections work or that they lead to consequences outside the world of "vibes". If you are looking for gratitude from "old voters" for this group of "young voters" so addled by Spiderman movies (?) that they literally cannot keep the basics of causation straight, I think you're looking in the wrong place.

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As a college student contemporaneous with you, I would say we occasionally talked politics, and we watched the Daily Show, but politics wasn’t really a huge focus.

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Bloomberg has been running excellent articles speculating at the causes of the "everything is too damned expensive" vibe. They pick apart all kinds of historical data and metrics for inflation and find *huge* swings in some very specific areas that don't show up in a lot of analysis. The two that stood out to me were:

1) Disposable income hit generational highs during the pandemic, when everyone was cooped up at home, cashing government checks and not spending money on gas, travel, restaurants, etc. Then, the combination of supply chain problems, going back to work and inflation caused it to crash to generational lows. Thus, not only do people have the recent memory of a life with plenty of cash (circa the end of Trump's term), they are experienced the huge, negative rate of change that bottomed out while Biden was in office. People habituate easily and are generally much more sensitive to change; e.g., things were bad in 20212, but the derivative was positive and voters gave Obama a second chance.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-05-17/trump-leads-biden-on-income-living-standards-election-2024-economy-scorecard?utm_source=website&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=copy

2) If you track "anti-core inflation", i.e., of all the things that are volatile and don't respond to rate hikes and so aren't taken into account by The Fed, they haven't been this high since 1974. When they break out the numbers by category, it is totally bananas to see how fast the price of things like fast food and personal care (e.g., hair, dental, shaving stuff) shot up and how high they are compared to historical numbers. The media likes to run stories about people complaining about the price of eggs or whatever, but that feeling that you're buying the same stuff every week, yet the total at the bottom of the receipt is going up is absolutely correct.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2024-06-03/trump-verdict-versus-inflation-both-will-polarize-election?utm_source=website&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=copy

Combine just those two metrics and it is easy to see how "but wage growth is outpacing inflation" is completely at odds with the lived reality of a huge part of the electorate. You really do have less money in your bank account and you really are spending more money to maintain the same standard of living. (And to my fellow Xers who are more concerned about their 401(k) contributions, remember when you were in your 20's and you had to check your account balance before getting $20 from the ATM and then weighing how many cigarettes you had left against how many soft tacos you would need after the bars closed.)

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It's also important to note that most real wage gains have accrued to the bottom quartile of workers with the top quartile seeing the lowest gains. So what you have is the most politically active group (basically saying "It's great that real wages are up but I can barely afford the same lifestyle I had 5 years ago despite making more money."

Ultimately, Biden isn't going to convince anyone that the economy is good even if it is by traditional metrics since most. Like Matt has written extensively about it therefore makes more sense for him to hammer Trump for his policies that will make things even worse.

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I understand why, e.g., Paul Krugman doesn't say "suck it: this is what a fair economy looks like", but you'd think someone would have dreamt up a better counter-narrative to "the economy sucks" than complaining about misinformation.

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Which is why it's generally pointless to try to convince somebody the economy is good if they believe it's bad, even if that belief is unfounded. You're better off trying to point out how the existing bad economy will get worse if Trump is elected and implements his stated policy goals.

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Jun 5·edited Jun 5

Which seems like the system working: those who are impacted the most by inflation are the ones who saw the most wage gains. Or maybe raising the wages of fast food workers just makes fast food more expensive?

Either way, you're spot on that the correct answer is "Trump wants to put a 10% tax on almost pretty much everything Target and Walmart sells and then jack up prices by using taxpayer money to round up all the farm and slaughterhouse workers and put them concentration camps". But because we live in the Dumbest Timeline, Trump says "Democrats want to quadruple your taxes" and half the country believes him.

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Yep. When I ask my friends how they think about Trump's 10% tax on everything and other inflationary policy positions they just say "Things were better under Trump so I'm sure they won't be worse now."

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I mean, they’ll probably be right. Trump is so incompetent he may not be able to do much, and he may just be able to ride the coattails of the improving economy and people will feel better. I won’t, because the Trump presidency was fucking terrible for my mental health.

I don’t trust this conclusion bc I’m afraid Trump will get a trifecta and he and the lizard people at Heritage can implement their agenda to cause real damage, but I understand why low information voters would feel that way even if they aren’t a fan of Republican policies. I mean if we’ve learned anything in the years since W it’s that the president doesn’t really call many shots, it’s Congress.

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During my early 20s in the early 2000s I remember going to a dollar beer bar on Thursday nights and waiting until after midnight to close my $12.00 tab to ensure my Friday paycheck had hit my checking account.

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I just find it hard to believe people are nostalgic for "I had lots of money in the bank because I wasn't allowed to do anything fun other than binge watch Netflix." But I'm willing to accept its true.

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I feel like fast food is obvious. You can't really serve $1 cheeseburgers in a world with $15 minimum wages. I do not know who could have seen this coming.

Note that I am not offering a personal opinion about whether $15 minimum wages are good or not. I think it is closely related to whether you think $1 cheeseburgers is good or not.

And it goes beyond that, it isn't just fast food. We have a $15 minimum wage now, and restaurants have raised prices to cover that....but we're still tipping 20%? Going out got crazy expensive, crazy fast. But again I will say.... this is what you wanted, right? Did you really think someone would magically just give all the workers more money and no one would pay for it?

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Right - the big issue here is that its the same people who demanded raises to the minimum wage that are now complaining. I'm not surprised when conservatives complain about prices, but there's a ton of "people are suffering due to high prices" coming from the left.

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I think that one thing that is complicating all this is that two areas where prices are really high right now are food and housing. In both cases theses are typically a much larger percentage of your monthly income the lower down the income scale you go and, for housing more uncertain.

Inflation has caused me to raise the salaries of my employees to keep up with cost of living. To pay for that, I have raised my rates. I don't think anyone is voting for Biden because the price of legal services is higher than under Trump (although, if they were, it might be worth pointing out that Trump himself seems to be single handedly running up demand in that market.)

But my housing costs having gone up much at all. I already owned a home and he only increase in monthly housing prices for has been an increase in property insurance. Indeed for me, the cost of my monthly housing has done down in terms of real costs as inflation has pushed everything else higher. If I was a renter and facing ever increasing rents that were already above 33% of my income as is common in Seattle, I would be feeling inflation in a different way.

Similarly, my groceries have gone up but my monthly grocery bill compared to my mortgage, employee salaries, etc makes up a fairly small percentage of my monthly budget. Higher prices might mean that I eat in more and eat out less but groceries are unlikely to break my budget because they didn't make up a big enough percentage to start with but back in my poor student days, food made up a much bigger percentage of my budget and if they went up 10%, I would feel that as much more of a pinch.

I think higher minimum wages are overall better for lower income workers even with the higher costs but I'm not surprised those higher costs hit hard and if we don't do something about increasing housing supply so that folks can get that under 33% of their budget, I don't think tinkering with the minimum wage much more is going to make a big enough difference to make people feel secure.

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We demand it come out of profit and executive salaries, not consumers. That should have been part of the minimum wage increases.

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I don't think that there is a good way to limit profit but I do think that pricing would be different if we limited executive pay to be some set multiple of their lowest wage workers. CEO salaries have gone up tremendously in the last year, well above what other workers are seeing.

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As always, over my lifetime

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You're asking for total centralized control of the entire economy? I can't wait until the Trump administration gets a hold of it.

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Just regulation

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How's do you read this blog and still have no idea how markets and government work?

You cannot implement price and wage controls via static legislation. So you end up with a regulatory body that needs total surveillance of the economy to know what to charge and who gets paid. This body (which I'm sure will never be staffed with power hungry monsters, cross my heart) will be responsible for dynamically ordering the entire economy, because otherwise prices can't move when, for instance, you have a crop shortage, a bridge closure, a bad storm that disrupts production or transport, or a workers strike. So in order to keep prices at something less than a terrifying absurdity where your currency is meaningless (which would be great for the world since USD is a major reserve currency) you get Soviet style central planning.

This is not an improvement over passing wage increases to the customer, in case you were wondering.

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I know this is more caused by California's new minimum wage rather than general inflation, but I paid $32 for two Chick-fil-a meals last week. Like, what?

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If the minimum wage is $15/he, paying $16 for a meal out seems fine.

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It's $20/hr at fast food restaurants, except for bakeries, for some reason. Before the law went into effect the same Chick fil a meals were a total of $25.

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"except for bakeries, for some reason"

Panera has very effective lobbyists.

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Panera is not excepted. This is actual misinfo

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Especially if you raise wages without imposing profit maxima and price controls

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lol

Price controls would simply result in Chick-fil-a not existing

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can’t y’all see he’s joking

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Nah the executives would just need to take a haircut. Better to nationalize it anyway, because Republicans should be punished, and then it could run at a loss even.

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That is just not how markets work (the first part, not the nationalizing thing) And nationalized food sounds amazing, in the sense of the word of"That is amazing that you found the one thing that would probably be less popular than inflation"

I get that you are a bit of an anti-capitalists, but I promise you that markets exist in communistic economies, too.

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The lived reality of a huge part of the electorate? 46% of the population sees their personal financial situation as "excellent" and 36% view it as "fair." Only 17% view it as "poor."

https://news.gallup.com/poll/644690/americans-continue-name-inflation-top-financial-problem.aspx#:~:text=Currently%2C%2072%25%20of%20upper%2D,%25)%20and%202021%20(72%25).

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I would describe my financial situation as fair to good, but I still have less money in my account and am spending more on insurance and other staples, so comparatively I feel worse than a few years ago.

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That's why I like the Bloomberg analysis. It shows that people are actually in good financial shape, personally, and that economy overall is doing quite well. But I think it nicely explains why, despite those facts, the vibe is "prices are too damned high" and why people keep saying they are upset about inflation even though technically it has subsided.

The first article I linked to even shows that, despite big swings, financial indicators (personal and macro) are back on the trend line and are where they were projected to be before all the tumult of the pandemic. And yet, as the second one shows, fast food prices really have spiked and really are above the trend line.

Basically every economic metric has a high-amplitude, high-frequency feature somewhere in 2020-2024, so you can, of course, cherry-pick to create a narrative, but it isn't going to be "things have actually been totally normal and stable for the past four years".

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I think there is a general feeling in the upper middle class of "My wages have gone way up, why am I not rich?"

Most people dream or fantasize about getting big pay bumps, and all the great quality of life that comes with it. So when their wages are up 20%, but there cost of living is up 18%, they are fine.... but they expected to be rich, not fine!

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Can you say more about the "anti-core" inflation? The items you mentioned seem really specific and I'm just trying to get a broader sense of what sorts of items are inflating relatively quickly and which are not. Is fast food going up because of wages, the price of inputs or something else?

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From the article:

To start, there is what I call “anti-core inflation,” which tracks the combined rise of food and energy prices, the two elements excluded from the core number of most interest to politicians.

Then they go on to pick out specific product categories. The gist is that, while these things are excluded from core inflation, they have historically been fairly constant as a percentage of consumers' budgets except for specific periods where they spiked, like in 1974 and now.

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This suggests an addendum to Matt's median voter description, the median voter is low information about politics.

Also, it largely validates the old fundamental models. The best thing an incumbent can do is to have the economy be in good shape. The more mechanistic models maybe aren't great at predicting out of sample, because there are too few training points and too many ways to measure economic performance. But, it's clear that voters who don't obsess over politics are going to take strong ques about presidential performance based on what they think of the economy.

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Hasn't it been shown that 90-95% of voters are low-information about politics, depending on how aggressively you define "low-information"?

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for sure, 90-95% may be a little aggressive but it is definitely extremely high. politics seems to be an area where Americans are particularly ignorant, which is probably not good for a republic.

two pew polls show that more Americans know that deforestation is a cause of soil erosion than know even one right guaranteed by the first amendment

https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/11/07/what-americans-know-about-their-government/

https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2019/03/28/what-americans-know-about-science/

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I spent a few minutes searching for my sources and I have to agree. It looks like 90-95% is indeed way too aggressive by any remotely forgiving interpretation of "medium- or high-information voters".

I suppose my main point was a reminder that SB readers are extreme outliers in terms of knowledge about politics.

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This actually likely means the Gaza issue is even less important than even Milan portrays it, because his sample of friends is skewed towards the type of people who might care about it.

At any rate, this is all quite depressing. Because it's not really clear that Biden can make the sale to young voters who think he hasn't responded to their concerns on the economy.

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I think one view of this is that it’s all superficial (“vibes”) but as I’ve said before I think it’s actually pretty deep and profound — progressives reacted to the events of 2012-2020 by crafting a whole ideology based on the premise that inflation & interest rates would always be low, and they’ve been extremely slow to pivot back to a worldview where trad offs are real and efficiency matters. Trump is worse on this and I think the country will suffer when he wins. But he has the brand of having made choices that were roughly appropriate for the time he was president.

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I don't think it's just progressives. Having interest rates so low for so long has disincentivized saving. Most Americans should be happy with interest rates increasing, because they can earn more interest risk-free, but since so many people spend more than they save and buy cars that are too expensive, the higher interest rates are leading them to feeling more pain.

It's also worth noting that young people are disproportionately more likely to take out a mortgage - the most valid reason for borrowing money. The pain there is real, and I empathize with friends who have seen both housing and borrowing costs skyrocket.

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Yeah it’s weird to talk about interest rates and only talk about the psychology of Progessives. ZIRP clearly had wide ranging impacts on the entire economy. Derek Thompson had a very revealing podcast to me that almost everything about television in the last 15 years can be explained by ZIRP and specifically streaming. Because borrowing costs were so low, it gave license to Netflix to green light insane amount of shows and programming at huge cost. And other media platforms felt the need to keep up. Explains so much of why there was an insane explosion of content and why now you have the insane situation now of companies not releasing finished tentpole movies because it actually saves the company money.

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Completely agree. Society, but particularly mid to older millennials, benefitted from other companies' borrowing costs being so low. As somebody in their mid-30s I was basically in the exactly right demographic to benefit from this.

I remember being able to get $5 Uberpools home from work whenever I missed the bus, and the Uber pool never stopped to pick anybody else up since my route was unique enough. Felt like they were basically handing me money

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I was in college from 2012-2016, which was the peak time of Netflix having the rights to all the popular TV shows from the other networks: The Office, Friends, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc. I see many complaints online from people in my same age group about how now Netflix is more expensive and doesn't have all the popular content anymore.

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The point about interest rates is true but it's worth noting that the economics of streaming (and a la carte TV programming generally) have not made a lot of sense since the very beginning and the problems that industry now has were probably inevitable.

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I feel like this is really underreported by mainstream news, maybe because they don't understand economics, it's not broadly interesting, or I'm just not seeing it (or some combination). I'm really left wondering now - which version of the economy is better overall?

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Jun 5·edited Jun 5

They are not actually earning more interest risk free. If inflation is 0 and you earn 2% then the situation changes so that inflation is 3% and you earn 5%, you're real return is the same. If you happened to be earning 2% in 2022 when inflation hit 8% then you lost 6% of your money in a "risk free" investment. This was very frustrating for the people it happened to...

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When was inflation 0 and when were savings account interest rates 2% in the 2010s?

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It was an simplified example to demonstrate a point.

Most savings accounts haven't been anywhere near 2% in decades. The current average savings account is paying 0.61% right now, so the fact that it's up from .01% is actually bad if inflation is 1% higher because your losing real dollars faster.

https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/average-savings-interest-rates/

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The average savings account rate is misleading imo since most people park their savings at banks like Chase which still offer virtually zero interest in their saving accounts. One can easily get interest in excess of inflation through other FDIC-insured savings accounts and money market mutual funds. This was not true previously

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I wonder what percentage of the total US personal savings are in these really low interest rate accounts. Many large banks are still only offering 0.01% for savings! If it's a large percentage like I assume, and even if the median person doesn't have a lot in these accounts (because they don't have a lot of savings in general), it should be a scandal how much money consumers are losing from this.

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My Ally Bank account earned 2% in 2018 after the Fed slightly raised rates under Yellen. It now earns 4.2%.

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To some approximation, savings balances are just future housing down-payments. Interest rates going up is good for savings balances in and of themselves, but then you're going to need a bigger one to buy the same house at an acceptable monthly cost.

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That's right. I do think you are right in your tweets to nudge Dems towards talking about how Trump's agenda is inflationary, precisely because there's still a lot of folks on the left who would rather not admit inflation is a problem at all because it means they would have to pay for any programs they enact with taxes or spending cuts.

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>Trump is worse on this and I think the country will suffer when he wins.<

I know you regard him as the favorite (that's what the polling says), but "when" (as opposed to "if") seems dire. Are Biden's prospects really that bad?

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Two contradictory points:

1. Biden's prospects are pretty bad in the sense that he is clearly losing in the polls and it's hard to come from behind in a polarized country, especially if you are 81 years old and double-especially when you are POTUS and have a day job.

2. Biden has been slowly making up ground in the swing states. He may have taken small leads in Michigan and Wisconsin, which means he may just have to make up a point or 2 in Pennsylvania to win. He was looking much worse a couple of months ago.

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If Biden wins it will be because Trump loses. He's doing a better job than I expected at appealing to voters to vote FOR him, but his best shot is Trump campaigning more widely as Trump. I sometimes forget how unpopular Trump actually is beyond his base.

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“Trump is going to end political freedom” might work better in the fall than in June.

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I think the problem isn't nearly as much the message as the messenger.

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Just demonstrates Matt’s point about exposing Trump’s pro-inflation policies.

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People, even smart people, simply can’t process that message with the little bandwidth they are willing to allocate to it.

Biden talks about how Trump tax policy will increase inflation and people hear “Biden wants to raise taxes.” Biden talks about how deporting low wage workers will drive up the cost of food, various services, and construction costs, and people hear “Biden wants open boarders.”

It doesn’t help that Biden isn’t great on inflation either with his Buy American and failure to deregulate.

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Yes but...does anyone believe Trump will have the courage of his convictions (to riff on the title of today's Politix) and sit back and not adjust in the face of rising inflation? Or will he try anything and everything (including ideas of questionable legality) to get it under control? Now, maybe the dearth of intellect in the GOP will prevent an actually helpful response, but regardless, I doubt his supporters believe he'll stick to his policy ideas come "hell, high water, or inflation". As Matt and Brian discussed last week, most of his supporters don't believe anything he says is serious to begin with! Just that his motivations are in the right direction.

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Trump: *shoots someone on 5th Avenue*

The Median Voter: Well, his *heart* was in the right place.

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Trump: *shoots someone on 5th Avenue*

The Median Voter: Biden walks very stiffly.

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Norman_Rockwell_Freedom_of_Speech.jpg

I believe Trump would lose some voters if he shot someone on 5th Avenue.

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The premise of you statement is that Trump understands what inflation is and will have people around him that can tell him accurately what should be done and he will do it.

That is pure fantasy. I mean, his proposal to end inflation is ridiculously inflationary. The emperor has no clothes here.

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Sure, but you don't have to convince me, you have to convince his potential voters. Right now they trust him more, and arguments from nerds probably won't change that.

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...and that Biden needs a counter. I don't see the campaign taking about what they're doing to bring down prices?

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Jun 5Liked by Milan Singh

This is a winnable election if Biden can persuade the electorate that Trump’s policies will lead to higher prices, which they will.

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I think a major probelm is many low-information voters think like Trump does: they believe other countries will pay the tarriff rather than themselves.

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I really doubt they are even getting as far to know that he is going to impose tariffs. It really always seems to be "prices were lower under Trump" and then just completely ignoring the context of pricing rising way less in the US than they have around the world.

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An even bigger problem is that most American media outlets are either wholly anti-free trade or at least protectionist in a manner consistent with them being pro-"national industrial strategy," so they aren't going to bother to try to correct that impression.

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founding
Jun 5Liked by Milan Singh

I am just so impressed by Milan's writing and research. I don't know what I was doing as a sophomore in college, not it certainly wasn't anything as good as this! I'm surprised housing prices don't show up, but I wonder if people lump that in with "inflation" generally?

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if his friends' parents in cambridge own their homes then they're set to inherit millions of dollars in assets, so it makes sense that it's not that much of a priority

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That doesn’t make sense, since my friends will be living independently for 20-30 years before their parents pass

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Of course, but it makes saving for retirement a bit less frantic.

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A $2m house that you won't receive for 25 years at a 6% discount rate is still almost half a million dollars

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Jun 5·edited Jun 5Author

That doesn't help you pay rent today Allan

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It helps the young worker save less. Also, parents with that kind of equity often give their kids five figure or even small sex figure gifts when it comes time to buy a house. And they absolutely should. Helping your kids build home equity is a small time form of inter generational wealth.

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right my point was not about liquidity but rather that this specific cohort has less concern about housing costs than those without rich parents

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Yes, housing and student loans both appear to be policies where we've collectively decided we'll handsomely reward many people in their 40s at a serious cost to their late 20s and early 30s when they would often want to start families (and thus face many costs.)

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Yeah, I don’t see why the pro-marriage, pro-natalist crowd here is so anti-student loan forgiveness - and I say this as someone who paid off my student loans - most lower middle class and up people do not want a partner that brings significant debt into the marriage and will postpone kids until they own a house (with a mortgage or not). It feels irresponsible to do otherwise. Being an adult in America means you own your house.

Unless they’re a doctor or something that has a clear path out of debt. These debts, and the high price of housing and higher mortgage costs, and the concomitant poor work-life balance they impose - you need two incomes to work that debt down - are a significant part of young people postponing marriage and starting families until, for many, it’s too late, especially for large families.

Remember the beginning scene in Idiocracy? The lumpen will continue to give birth to low-effort children that they fail to equip for life, but I’m not sure that’s a great solution, nor enough to be a demographic solution.

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Will they? The bulk of many people's assets are tied up in their home, so if they need money later in life for assisted living or other late life events, they are likely going to sell those homes and use the proceeds to pay for expenses.

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If you are implying that wealthy people worry less about housing, you are probably right, but I don't see why the actual house ownership of the parents matters. Maybe an only child might plan to live in his/her parent's house, but most will not. So you get half a house' worth, or maybe a third, or less, 20-30 years from now.

It'll be nice for your retirement, but very unrelated to you buying a house in the next 10-15 years. And even if you are wealthy, you are going to be a little pissed that when the Gen Xers bought houses, they paid 200k, and when it is "your turn", you are going to pay $1 million.

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I am Gen X, so at the age where my peers have elderly parents. This isn't directly related to the subject at hand, but those whose parents don't own their own home have more worries and usually will have more money coming out of their own pocket to support their parents.

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Jun 5·edited Jun 6

I was surprised too. Because I see housing as the one thing my generation (Gen X,) had better. Almost everything else seems better for Gen Z - crime, AIDS treatment, legalization of weed, availability of jobs, etc. Well, social life was definitely easier when I was young. Which sometimes confounds me because it is so much easier for people to get and stay in touch with each other now.

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It seems all the jokes about Gen X being overlooked is true. Every time I typed Gen X, autocorrect changed it to Gen Z.

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Always nice having more data to back up Matt's claims about The State Of Things like the youth vote. I know he often what the refrances polls and stuff, but I rarely click through to validate, so having the results right in the post is good practice.

"The job market is terrible right now [...] if there is a way to stimulate more jobs right now, we need it." -> "[The youth] are no less informed than the average voter and their voices need to be heard more."

Please forgive the strangled gurgle of epistemic despair coming from my direction. I really do want to believe The Kids Are Alright, but it's hard sometimes. It's hard and no one understands, except fellow SB readers and others who are pilled on Full Employment Economy. Same thing with Prices Are High -> Trump Is Working Harder To Reduce Prices -> What Tariffs And/Or Workforce Decimation? (and those are just the somewhat-concrete policy things we *know* about!) Keep experiencing Andrew Gelman amnesia whenever such inconsistencies come up.

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I had a similar reaction to that job market quote -- it made me wonder if a SPECIFIC job market (e.g. lucrative entry-level tech and tech-adjacent jobs for recent college grads) is much weaker than it used to be, and that's being extrapolated to the job market writ large.

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I can tell you from even my own experience this is true. White collar jobs in finance are not nearly as plentiful as they were two years ago due to interest rates. Real Estate finance (my particular remit) is perhaps particularly hit hard by high interest rates.

So in other words, the exact sort of jobs a Yale grad would be very likely to be interested in are the ones that are least plentiful right now. Another good data point showing that even among the most educated, views of the economy are skewed by particular personal experiences.

I’ve also maintained that part of the reason there is a disconnect with views of economy and actual economic performance is this bifurcation with the white collar and blue collar job market. Jobs are very plentiful in blue collar industries. Think hospitality. But the types of people to be interviewed by WSJ or who New York Times reporter may personally know are likely white collar. Heck surveys in general likely to overweight white collar workers. Just a lot to suggest to me where some bias in coverage of the economy might be coming from.

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Read carefully, Gabe doesn’t go to Yale and is not interested in tech or finance or management consulting.

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Jun 5Liked by Milan Singh

Point taken.

I should note part of my thinking for my post is there is an old saying about Yale graduates and how they "tumble down to wall street" (tried googling the exact quote and somehow only ended up with articles about Yale's endowment. Thanks google).

So yes, my particular point about finance and real estate probably won't apply to Gabe*. But I stand by my more general point. This disconnect between white collar and blue collar job market is very real and I think it is part of the story that people like Will Stancil are trying to point out on Twitter.

*My major in college was History and Government. Fully expected to be working in Washington for most of my life. Instead for the last 15 years I've living and working in NYC metro. Just a little heads up that your planned career paths from age 18-22 have a funny way of going in directions you don't expect. Just friendly old man advice (turned 40 last October). On a side note. I'd recommend the movie "Up in the Air". Honestly, feel like it's an underrated Clooney performance. But also kind of touches on this stuff. Always, happy to give movie recommendations where I think appropriate too :).

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As an academic watching our graduates (BS and PhD) struggle to find jobs*, I feel this is clearly true. I also see a number of people who've been in industry for a few years posting on linkedin about looking for work. My developing thesis is that companies that expanded into new areas during the ZIRP days have now shed those and the people along with them, instead focusing on their core revenue-generating business. So while it's a great economy if you want a low-wage service job, beyond that, it's extremely rough. I would love to read some articles with data though that backs up (or refutes!) my anecdotal impressions.

*Just as an example, I have an email just received from a PhD grad last year begging for help networking. He said that while he's gotten some interviews, he's consistently beat out by people with more experience. I assume those people were recently laid off.

**As another example, another PhD graduate was only able to find a six-month position and is still waiting to see if the project will be extended to a full year. Similar story - some interviews, but he is not competitive against more experienced candidates.

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Wait you mean this group of voters wasn’t a free pass to be as progressive as I want to be without consequences? Huh there’s an interest group with explaining to do.

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Jun 5Liked by Milan Singh

As one of your frequent antagonists in the comments, this was great, Milan! (Your longer-form writing is excellent in general, and I'm impressed by it even when it's wrong, like "Lock Him Up")

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Thanks DT

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Sort of OT but as someone from a military family I’m always shocked by anyone in the armed services supporting Trump given his draft dodging and the utter disdain he has shown for those who have chosen to serve their country. Would love your friend’s feedback on that.

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People have a confused perception that ideological conservative policies or Republican policies or Trumpian policies to the extent they are distinct are effective vengeance or counters to cultural avant-gardism and cultural feminization.

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Jun 5·edited Jun 5

How people self-identify is less important than what they actually believe and vote for. I suspect that "the median young voter" self-identifies as "moderate" because he (since only young men are cited here) has already shifted his personal Overton Window so far to the left that it really does seem "moderate" to him. I don't read the willingness to vote for Trump as support for him (the article makes that clear) as much as a general contempt for institutions and the pragmatic view that a Trump vote is the most effective way to tear them down. No comfort there.

And "Shishir is planning to vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 'because my values align with many of his. He values his physical health very much, he works out and is in amazing shape for his age. I think this says a lot about a person and their discipline.'" would be hilarious if it weren't so terrifying. I hope that the attitude -- and the lack of information on the "value" the man puts on "physical health" that it expresses -- is limited to a few, but I fear that it is not.

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You’re really misreading the Ranger’s words if you think he wants to tear down institutions. His top issue has been gun rights since high school, and it’s entirely rational to vote for Trump if that’s your top priority.

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Who gives a damn about democracy, the peaceful transfer of power, or respect for the rule of law? The important thing is I get to keep my guns!

These are words I would expect from an anarchist, not a conservative.

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