How Much Fraud Occurred in the 2020 Election?

Previous blog entry: How the Left is Crazy.

We needed to make a timely decision as to who was to be inaugurated on January 20th. We have a whole system of laws and courts through which an election can be challenged, and charges of election fraud can be made and evaluated, and the president brought charges to those courts and lost. Donald Trump is not the first person in this country ever to go to court and not get the result he wanted. The way “law and order” works is that, rather than shooting at each other or beating each other up, we take our case to the courts and live with the result, for better or for worse.

Nearly all lawyers agree that the vice president does not have unilateral authority to overturn an election. Theoretically, the election could be overturned if both chambers voted on January 6th, 2021 to do so, but given that the Democrats had the majority in the house, that was never going to happen.

So if the election was going to be overturned, it had to happen before the electoral college votes were counted on December 14, 2020, and really even before that, before individual states ratified their results. That was why, after the December 14th vote was taken, senate majority leader Mitch McConnell accepted the results and congratulated Biden on his victory.

Were there irregularities in the election? Of course there were. An election consisting of 160 million votes will have some illegal votes, some dead people voting, some irregularities and mistakes in counting. This is unavoidable. But the question is, “Were there irregularities on a scale sufficient to justify throwing out the result, and was sufficient evidence of this provided in court in time to flip states before their counts were ratified?”.

What about all the evidence of fraud presented by Trump and his lawyers prior to that?

Nothing Trump said was said under oath. He was not legally accountable for lying when he said those things. To my knowledge, nothing that president Trump has said since he took office in 2017 has been under oath.

Trump’s legal team, notably Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, pursued a two-track strategy:

  • They held press conferences, during which they were not under oath so there was no penalty for perjury, and made wild allegations of vast conspiracies to change thousands of votes.
  • They then filed lawsuits, and when in court under oath, where the penalties for a lawyer who lies are very severe, offered little or no evidence, even saying, in some cases “This lawsuit is not alleging voter fraud.”, or filing lawsuits about legitimate voting irregularities, but where there were so few votes in dispute that it would not flip any state if they prevailed.

It is clear that Trump’s legal team realized that the lawsuits they filed had no hope of overturning the election. Their goal was to try the case in the court of public opinion, and the lawsuits were a token effort to create the illusion of legitimate legal action. They relied upon much of the public being insufficiently sophisticated to notice the drastic difference between what they were saying while under oath and when not.

Another strategy they pursued was talking about “releasing the Kracken”, “the Kracken” being a dump of persuasive evidence of massive voter fraud. It should be pointed out that all the legal deadlines to overturn the votes of states before the December 14th deadline came and went and surprise, surprise “the Kracken” never materialized, in fact now it’s January 13th and “the Kracken” still has yet to see the light of day. There is not, and never was, a “Kracken”.

The whole time all this legal activity was going on, the Supreme Court consisted of a 6-3 majority of Republican appointees, 3 of them appointed by Trump himself. Such a court was guaranteed to be sympathetic to any legitimate evidence of Democratic voter fraud presented to it. If Trump’s lawyers had any legitimate evidence of voter fraud sufficient to flip any state, let alone adequate to overturn the whole election, they could bring that evidence to a lower court, and if they didn’t get satisfaction there, appeal up to the Supreme Court, and win. The fact that that never happened is, by itself, evidence that Trump’s claim to have evidence of voter fraud does not hold water.

You might wonder why this essay doesn’t respond to a lot of specific claims of voter fraud that were floated in the media (though not in the courts). It is important to stress here how false conspiracy theories usually work. They usually spin a very intricate, detailed story consisting of rabbit holes within rabbit holes, some of the details true and many more of them plausible, so that it will take an honest person years to even understand the theory, and many lifetimes to rebut it all. Often this vast body of details doesn’t add up to any consistent, coherent world view.  Eventually, the person is presented with so many details, none of them conclusive but many on shaky ground, that eventually one becomes convinced that the theory MUST be true by the sheer quantity (as opposed to quality) of arguments they’ve learned.  The thing about fraudulent conspiracy theories is that they make up so many detailed pseudo-facts that in the time that it takes to debunk one of them, they can make up a dozen more.

One might argue that voter fraud sufficient to change the result of the election occurred, it just couldn’t be proven. Perhaps, but the fact is, both Trump and his lawyers asserted, many times, before the deadlines to ratify state results had passed, that they had such proof. But they never presented it in court. The conclusion from that is that they were lying the whole time — and that conclusion is inescapable. I cannot prove that significant fraud did not occur, just like I can’t prove that UFO’s aren’t real. But the evidence is overwhelming that Trump and his lawyers perpetrated a con on the American public.

The mainstream media, while being totally opposed to anything Trump did since being elected, did a poor job of convincing anyone who was committed to giving the president the benefit of the doubt. All the MSM did was say, over and over again, was that the president had “no evidence” of voter fraud. This was not convincing to anyone who was reading the right-wing media which was floating many, many detailed stories of “voter fraud”.

Trump’s lawyer Sidney Powell told wild stories of a Venezuelan conspiracy to hack Dominion voting machines to change thousands of votes from Trump to Biden. No evidence of this was ever filed in court. Immediately after congress certified the election in January, Dominion sued Powell for slander for $1.3 billion. American slander laws are very weak, the plaintiff has to meet a very, very high burden of proof to prevail. If there is any truth whatsoever to anything Powell said about Dominion, then Dominion will lose the case. I predict that they will nail her to the wall.

Note that the Democrats did far more poorly than pollsters were predicting in house and senate races. If the Democrats were able to mount a conspiracy to change ballots, why didn’t they give themselves a lot more seats in both chambers?

To believe that the election was “stolen” from Trump, you must believe that:

  • The voting machines can’t be trusted.
  • The hand recounts of paper ballots that confirmed the tallies from the voting machines can’t be trusted.
  • The election officials, including the ones who voted for Trump, can’t be trusted.
  • The media, including National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Ben Shapiro, and Megyn Kelly, can’t be trusted.
  • Trump’s attorney general William Barr can’t be trusted.
  • The lower courts, including the ones where the judges were Trump appointees, can’t be trusted.
  • The appellate courts can’t be trusted.
  • The Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, 3 of them chosen by Trump, can’t be trusted.


  • Donald Trump can be trusted.

Trump and his lawyers perpetrated a systematic, deliberate fraud on the American public, to create an illusion of a “stolen election”, and continued to stoke his conspiracy theory and fan the flames until he eventually used it to incite a violent attack on the seat of government.

Bill Chapman, Republican

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How the Left is Crazy

I frequently hear calls from the left for social media to censor the right’s “misinformation” and “hate speech”. But this loses sight of the fact that the left, as well as the right, is substantially losing touch with reality, just in a different way. While conversation on the right is suffering from a lack of responsible gatekeepers of debate, conservation of the left is suffering form too much censorship.

From the left, a person’s demographic dominates their identity. Demographics are ranked from “privileged” to “victim”, and individuals don’t have rights, only groups do, except for “privileged” groups, which don’t. Members of “privileged” demographics are born guilty, and are terrible people unless they despise their own demographic. Facts that don’t fit a certain narrative are off-limits. Dissidents are not merely wrong, to be reasoned with and gently corrected, but rather, “bad people” to be punished into silence. Once someone is labeled a “bad person”, apologies don’t count, no redemption is possible, no solution exists other than to completely ruin the individual.

The only acceptable narrative is that “victim” demographics are in no way responsible for their own fate, that they have no personal agency, no hope of improving their lot as individuals, and their problems can only be fixed by radically reforming our overwhelmingly “bigoted” society.

One problem with this view is that it tells poor rural whites without a college education that, since they are supposedly “privileged”, not only are their grievances unworthy of consideration, but they actually have more than they deserve, while they realize damn well that they’re on the bottom of totem pole. They are told that their heroes are villains, that there is nothing of value in their heritage, and that everything they believe in should be held in contempt. The fact is, they’re not going to take it. They cannot be blamed for rejecting this world view and seeking alternatives. Unfortunately, a lot of them have placed blind faith in Trump as their most trusted source of information, which is about as misplaced as trust can possibly be.

And rural whites without a college education have been really suffering. As more of the population has become college educated, many of the college educated aren’t really that bright and didn’t learn that much in school, and they wind up doing jobs that, a generation ago, were done just fine by people with only a high school diploma. So the choice of jobs for those without a college education has been steadily shrinking.

Six months ago, after the death of George Floyd, the left went into a state of extreme hysteria. There was tremendous energy given to the problem of police bias against blacks. But the conversation was heavily censored, and certain facts were deemed inadmissible:

  • While there really is a problem with young black males being hassled by cops much more frequently than is necessary for law enforcement, and we really should try to find a way to solve this, the conversation was not allowed to discuss the reason for it: that the black rate of violent crime is radically higher than the white one, and cops doing their jobs see this day in, day out, for years, and wind up being biased against blacks. Absent consideration of this fact, the liberal consensus developed that the problem was that police were “bad people” who were doing it just to be mean as part of “systemic racism”.
  • The number of unarmed blacks killed by cops was very, very low, given that we live in a country of 330 million people, and has been decreasing. It happens so rarely that it really is not a significant influence on black life expectancy. On the other hand, a black male was many orders of magnitude more likely to be murdered by black criminals than by white cops while unarmed. Figures were sometimes given on total numbers of “blacks killed by cops”, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of those were armed criminals engaged in shoot-outs with the cops.

Absent these facts, a consensus emerged that it really made sense for blacks to fear being shot by cops while unarmed as their leading cause of death, and the conversation converged on “defund the police” as a solution, which was just plain stupid and cost the Democrats dearly in the voting booth.

The employees and leadership of the major social media companies are overwhelmingly liberal if not outright left-wing, and they are moving in the direction of censoring conservatives more and more. If this progresses further, eventually we will probably see an exodus of conservatives to more sympathetic social media platforms, and conservatives and liberals will talk to one another even less than they do now.

Gillette “The Best Men Can Be” Ad

In early 2019, Gillette decided to run an ad catering to their entirely male customer base. So then, what good trait can be associated with masculinity to talk about?

Well, whoever was in their ad firm decided that there is nothing good about masculinity, it was an entirely toxic thing, consisting mostly of bullying other males and oppressing women, and the best a man could be would be to rein in other males engaged in these offensive behaviors. The ad also made very clear that it felt that it was not a minority of males engaged in the problematic behaviors, in fact the “good” males solving the problem were in the minority.

There was a lot of negative press following the ad, and some positive press from women’s magazines. Notably, the ad came out at the height of the #metoo movement.

While it is clear that bullying and oppressing women are bad things, the allegation that a majority of males participate in these things is just not credible to most of them, and strikes many as a grossly unfair accusation. Furthermore, the allegation that it is exclusively the domain of males to rein these behaviors in is just factually incorrect — if bullies and sexist men were having a lot of trouble when it came to getting girlfriends and wives, there would be very few of them. It is widely observed by males that those males who behave as feminists would have them do are usually actually last in line for female affection.

The stupidity of such an ad campaign was staggering. You don’t sell things by insulting the demographic you’re selling to. I wondered “Didn’t they show it to any focus groups before running it nationwide?” I looked it up, and actually, they did, and a lot of people, including men, liked the video. But what their focus groups were not keeping track of was the fact that a large share of the people who disliked the video felt strongly enough about it to boycott the product. This was especially a problem since there is pretty much no detectable difference between the quality of Gillette’s shaving products and those of their competitors, so switching brands took little effort or sacrifice.

I was not a Gillette customer at the time, but if I had been, that would have stopped, and I have a friend who had been shaving with Gillette all his life and responded to the ad by permanently switching to another brand. Gillette announced a $5 billion loss soon after running the ad, which set records as being one of the most disliked videos on YouTube.

I made a post on Facebook criticizing the stupidity of the 2019 ad campaign, soon after it came out and long before the $5 billion Gillette loss, and something very strange happened. A Facebook friend who I barely knew from college, who had never before said anything in response to any of my posts online, replied with an absurd cheap shot that questioned my masculinity. His reply was immediately “liked” by my two most feminist female Facebook friends, in fact one of them “loved” it.

This was followed by a long argument with the women not saying anything, with the guy exposing that he really was profoundly ignorant of gender issues, having accepted everything the mainstream media said on the subject without question – no wonder he liked the ad!

One point I made that never got a reply was, suppose Afro-Sheen had run an ad showing African-Americans acting out negative stereotypes, with the only good representatives of the group (clearly shown to be a minority of them) being the Afro-Sheen customers, who reined in the destructive behaviors of the others? Clearly that would be a highly offensive ad, so why wasn’t the Gillette ad offensive in the same way?

Clearly, my college acquaintance and my feminist Facebook friends were punishing me – his post was so snarky, unfair, and outright vicious that that was clear. Why did I, in their minds, deserve to be punished?

Well, I think in the social justice mindset, members of “privileged” demographics have a very strong moral obligation to despise and disavow their own demographic. “Privileged” demographics are to be slandered and insulted at every opportunity, and anyone who gets in the way of that is obstructing progress. Someone who openly identifies with a “privileged” demographic, takes pride in it, and defends it against criticism, is a highly offensive person. And the reason the hypothetical Afro-Sheen ad that I discussed was obviously offensive while the Gillette ad was not was because males are “privileged” and African-Americans are not.

But one has to think about the conundrum that the makers of the Gillette ad found themselves in. How could they have made an ad about positive aspects of masculinity? Suppose they had shown shots of men climbing a mountain, hunting, designing a spacecraft, or winning a dogfight in a jet? That would have been offensive to feminists – we have women doing all those things. While most of the people doing those things are males, the reasons for that being the case are highly controversial – saying that the reasons have anything to do with innate gender differences is a good way to get fired – feminists feel, quite strongly, that the under representation of women in such endeavors is all because of “the patriarchy” – a global conspiracy of evil males to oppress women.

Gillette had had a highly successful “The Best a Man Can Get” ad 30 years earlier, depicting men succeeding at various things, especially at getting the approval of women, including several wedding scenes. But the focus was not so much on the nature of masculinity, but rather just success in general.

America’s Reality Problem

Right now, the political right is so out of touch with reality that they resist taking easy, reasonable precautions against acquiring COVID-19 when their lives depend on it. So the question is: how did we get here?

The left feels that the right wing should quit reading right-wing news sources and just get all their information from nothing but the mainstream media. But we need to understand why that is unacceptable to many.

The mainstream media is not without fault. The perception of reality that it promotes is deeply flawed in some ways, and highly insulting to many Americans.

To begin with, it propagates a view of identity politics that has several flaws:

  • All demographics are plotted on a continuum ranging from “victim” to “privileged”, and “victim” demographics are not allowed to be criticized, which is problematic in instances when those demographics are at fault.
  • They ban all discussion of any reason for a difference in outcomes between demographics other than discrimination and injustice. Most demographics have deep cultural differences, and some may have intrinsic differences, but any mention of either is deemed “bigotry” and not allowed. They then talk about differences in outcomes all day long and come to a grossly exaggerated estimation of the influence of discrimination and injustice present.
  • They tell individuals from “privileged” demographics that they, as individuals, bear an inescapable burden of guilt for past actions by their demographic, including for events that occured long before they were born and often far from where they’ve ever lived, and that redemption is impossible.
  • They stress that the most salient aspect of a person’s identity is their demographic. This makes everybody more conscious of demographic differences than ever, making it harder to refrain from discriminating, consciously or subconsciously, and harder for everybody to get along.

So any discussion of identity politics that takes place in the mainstream media or among liberals has centrally relevant factors so aggressively censored from it that it becomes so far from reality that the whole conversation is just not worth having.

Add to that the fact that the mainstream media and the left are extremely eager to drag identity politics into everything, all the time.

The mainstream media is also factually inaccurate when covering anyone who questions the liberal consensus about identity politics. For example, when both Harvard President Larry Summers and then James Damore, a highly talented software engineer at Google, speculated on reasons other than discrimination for the under representation of women in STEM, nearly every news story in the mainstream media that covered either of them reported that they said that the average woman is less intelligent than the average man, when if you read what either of them said (follow the links) not only did they not say that, but they were obviously well-informed enough to realize it was not true. Psychology professor Jordan Peterson is also a critic of the left’s identity politics, and nearly all coverage of him in the mainstream media, including in supposedly “reputable” publications, are vicious hit jobs that put words in his mouth that he did not and would not say.

Liberals reading nothing but the mainstream media come to believe that privileged demographics are genuinely evil. At the same time, when someone from a privileged demographic reads the mainstream media, they find it loaded with content that is both personally vilifying and, at the same time, completely divorced from reality.

Religion is another factor. The left has become increasingly secular and contemptful of Christianity, which those on the right find highly offensive and threatening.

In my opinion, the mainstream media is completley worthless when talking about identity politics, but pretty good on most other things. Most educated people fall on the left side of the political divide (educated people from vilified demographics usually disavow any identification with their demographic — a requirement for membership in the intellectual elite) so the mainstream media does tend to be well-informed. The right-wing media is immature, unsophisticated, and unreliable.

So we wind up with these two poles in American society who find one another evil and threatening, despise one another, and are out to destroy each other.

Cue the entry of contrarianism. The two poles hate each other so much that if one side takes an opinion first, the other side will react against it. Any issue becomes completeley polarized, and the truth falls between the cracks.

How Has “Hate Speech” Affected “Hate Crimes”?

I was reading this very long (and very interesting) article about hate speech by the Heritage Foundation, and they made the point that, even though the US currently has no laws against “hate speech”, the rate of hate crimes has been declining.

I did a double-take at that. Most of my news sources are from the liberal media, and I’ve constantly been hearing stories about a “massive wave of hate” that’s been sweeping the country as the consequence of our electing a president who is enthusiastic about border enforcement.

So I decided to look up statistics.

I don’t trust the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center), because I was reading their material and they mentioned that they considered it to be a “hate crime” when someone distributed flyers with which the SPLC disagreed, so they’re obviously drastically inflating their numbers. And the ACLU has gone completely insane — I read, on the ACLU website, that they filed a lawsuit to force public men’s rooms to provide free tampons because “men” need them.

So I got statistics on hate crimes from the website of the Department of Justice, the FBI, specifically. The data goes back to 1996. I got the US population for each year from Wikipedia in order to calculate hate crimes per million people.

The data does show two noticeable 1-year jumps of increasing hate crimes — a 16.3% increase after Trump was elected (much smaller than most people reading about that “massive wave of hate” would have expected), and a 19.4 jump in 2001, which was probably caused by hate crimes against Muslims in the wake of 9/11.

The second year of Trump’s presidency showed a tiny decrease in the rate of hate crimes, basically the level stayed constant.

But the trend that is really remarkable is that the level of hate crimes has been decreasing long term, pretty radically, as the Heritage article pointed out. Even after the post-Trump increase, the level of hate crimes is still nowhere near what it was pre-Obama, let alone during the Clinton years. So we have been getting better at getting along, in the absence of hate speech laws.

Bear in mind that these figures are for “hate crimes”, not murders. For example, of the 7,120 hate crimes in 2018, only 13 were murders and 2,641 were property crimes, mostly vandalism. Of the non-property crimes, 2,039 were acts of “intimidation” — often if not usually serious crimes, but it sounds like no one was actually injured.

So what does this mean for the wisdom of introducing “hate speech” laws? Suppose that hate speech laws would reduce the rate of hate crimes (I said suppose because I don’t think it would). Would muzzling 320 million people to prevent 1,054 incidents, most of which caused no physical injury to human beings, be justified?

The Heritage article makes another point — while most advocates of hate speech laws claim to be promoting a climate of dignity and respect, it is a false claim. For demographics considered to be “oppressors”, they really have absolutely no dignity in mind — in fact, their model of a healthy speech climate is one where they get to dump massive abuse on “oppressor” classes, who are to be forbidden to speak in self-defense.

Racism in Flushing

One Saturday, I wanted to go out Karaoke singing, so I went to Flushing, an Asian neighborhood in New York City with a lot of Karaoke clubs.

Using the Google Map, I was able to find one, and I walked in the door. Everyone else present was Asian. There weren’t very many people, a music video was going, and a man was singing in Chinese.

The waitress walked up to me and I expected her to show me to a seat. I said to her “I’ll have a Tsingtao, please.” (Tsingtao is the Budweiser of China).

She said to me “No Americans.”.

I turned and left the bar.

But thinking about it, I thought “What awesome people! I want to be around them as much as I can!”.

The incident showed how political correctness is completely alien to Asian culture. It’s not even that they reject it, as I do, it’s that they don’t even understand how it’s supposed to work. That waitress had no idea that what she said to me was illegal, or that there was anything wrong with it.

In American culture, I am considered “privileged”, which is an extremely heavy burden. It means that anything I do or say is wrong, that all the problems of less privileged demographics are my fault, and that I’m a horrible monster unless I despise myself and my own kind.  My culture tells me that the most salient aspect of my identity is my demographic, and I am to despise that demographic.  I will go a long way to avoid cooperating with such a scheme in any way.

If I hang around with the sort of people I ran into in Flushing, sometimes they’ll tolerate my presence, and they won’t blame all their problems on me, they won’t hold it against me if I’m proud of who I am and where I came from. They may think we’re dumber than them and that we stink, but I’ll take it, it’s worth it.

Not all Asians see things this way. Particularly Asians who are born in the US, or immigrated at a young age, are poisoned by American culture — they know that they’re supposed to hate white people and white people are supposed to hate themselves.

In the presidential election in 2016, a majority of white women passed up the chance to vote for the first serious female presidential candidate in history, choosing instead a self-confessed “pussy-grabber”. Most Democrats aren’t aware of that statistic, and have no credible explanation for it. But perhaps the problem was that the Democratic Party was selling a philosophy that demanded that, as white people, these women hate themselves?

What is Paul Krugman Smoking?

I’m finding it hard to have any respect for Paul Krugman.

Ten years ago, I read a book of his, “The Conscience of a Liberal” and wasn’t terribly impressed. Here is my review of it. Krugman seems to agree with the general liberal consensus that the law of supply and demand is magically suspended when it conflicts with Democratic Party policy — that is, he claims higher minimum wages won’t kill jobs, and immigrating vast numbers of low-skilled workers won’t have a significant effect on wages.

But what he says about Mike Bloomberg and Wall Street in this recent column really takes the cake.

Krugman says “there is no evidence that Wall Street’s mega-expansion made the rest of the economy more efficient. On the contrary, growth in family incomes slowed down as finance rose”. Krugman’s playing tricks with the data — the way to tell whether “the economy is more efficient” is to look at average income, which has been increasing a lot, but Krugman’s source on “family income” tracks median family income. Yes, most of the spoils of increasing productivity are going to the most highly skilled and that is a problem, but since when does any economist in his right mind think that it’s Wall Street’s role to counter economic inequality? And the increases in productivity were not caused by the efforts of low-skilled people, but rather by the innovations of the highly skilled, so is it hardly surprising, or even all that unjust, that those are the people that the market assigns the rewards for the gains they have created. And it is disingenuous to complain about the lack of increase in low-skilled wages without mentioning that 75% of legal immigrants don’t get in on skills, and our borders are very poorly enforced against low-skilled illegal immigrants, resulting in a flooded low-skilled labor market.

And he goes on “And the runaway growth of finance set the stage for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”. Yes, the mainstream media has told everybody that no one but the finance industry had any role in the financial meltdown, but it’s a lie: the primary cause of the meltdown was that 90% of everybody in the country, the politicians, the home buyers, the bond rating agencies, and yes, the big banks, believed that it was a fundamental law of physics that, at the national levels, real estate values were guaranteed to rise. Anytime everyone is thinking that way, there will be a bubble, and when bubbles burst, it’s painful, especially when the bubble was financed with borrowed money.

Krugman describes the product that made Mike Bloomberg his billions, the “Bloomberg Terminal”. And Krugman has no idea what he’s talking about. He says that the advantage of it is that “traders with Bloomberg Terminals can react to market events a few minutes faster than those without.” and says “After all, does getting financial information a few minutes earlier do anything significant to improve real-world business decisions that affect jobs and productivity? Surely not. Bloomberg has, in effect, made his billions off a financial arms race that costs vast sums but leaves everyone pretty much back where they started.”.

If the Bloomberg Terminal were used for high-frequency trading (HFT) I think Krugman might have a point, but it isn’t, and he doesn’t. The terminal is useless for HFT — it gives information to human traders, who are many orders of magnitude too slow to do HFT. The advantage of the Bloomberg terminal is not simply that it gets information to the trader more quickly than he could otherwise get it, but that it has thousands of functions to do financial analysis that the trader can’t do at all without it. In other words, it does exactly what Krugman says it doesn’t: it helps to significantly “improve real-world business decisions that affect jobs and productivity.”.

The quality of investment decisions is very important — it means capital is going to companies most likely to make the most optimal use of the money, and that capital loaned to consumers and home buyers will be allocated according to those who need it most yet are most likely to pay it back, meaning that capital will go the furthest.

OK, so Krugman doesn’t like billionaires or bankers all that much more than Bernie Sanders does, so he’s going to try to trash Bloomberg, but that doesn’t justify a Nobel prize-winning economist saying such profoundly ignorant things.

American Universities: A Failing Institution

The universities, as an institution, are failing American society.

To a large extent, universities have a monopoly on giving people credentials. Many jobs that were done just fine by high school graduates a generation ago now require a college degree. Most of the value of a degree from an elite college is that it demonstrates to employers that you got high SAT scores in high school, which are correlated with IQ, and employers are legally prohibited from finding out about one’s IQ any other way. Any test an employer gives a job applicant has to be very narrowly focused on specific job-related skills, which is only workable in highly skilled disciplines, but in the case of a liberal arts or business major, the employer has nothing to go by but the name of the school.

The US News and World Report ranking of colleges does not in any way take into account how much students learned in college. College students only take the GRE’s or other standardized tests in their senior year of college if they are planning on going to graduate school, which is a minority of the students, not enough of a sample to gauge the learning of the whole student body. The reputation of a school is mostly driven by research done at the school, which obviously doesn’t apply to teaching colleges. In addition, one thing that frequently happens at research schools is that professors neglect their teaching to focus on their research, and then give most of the students A’s so they won’t complain. All of this means that neither hiring employers, nor students applying to college, have any way of assessing which schools are doing the best job of teaching. It may well be that a student of a given IQ will learn more at an affordable, obscure teaching college than they would at a gold-plated research school, but in the absence of any measure of learning, how would we know?

Among people at or below the age of college seniors, American society is extremely age-segregated, and college students have a very big decision to make that will affect their whole lives — they have to choose their major. And they make this decision mostly in isolation from people who are earning a living. The only adults they are exposed to are the faculty and grad students. I was visiting a college and there were only a few people in the room, one was a college professor, and the other was a student trying to decide on her major, and she asked him for advice. He gave her a long speech about “Follow you passion, blah, blah, blah, do what you truly love.”. That’s great advice if you want to become a college professor, but it’s terrible advice for most people. To make tenure as a college professor, you have to be in the top 5% of people in your major, in fact probably better than that. And most people aren’t that smart. A wise choice of college major is one that leads to high probability of a career that you will find reasonably enjoyable that is going to provide at least a decent standard of living for the rest of your life, and the likelihood of that coinciding with the subject where one finds the classes the most fun is remote.

Universities are spending a fortune on highly-paid administrators and, of course, lavish landscaping. Part of the need for all the administrators stems from the fact that over the last few decades, American middle-class children are raised under unprecedented levels of constant supervision, so that by the time they reach college, the need for a lot of supervision continues, so that cost is unavoidable until we reform our child-rearing practices. And the landscaping doesn’t really contribute much to learning, but it’s vital to the all-important claim, credible or not, of being a supposedly “elite” school.

Inflation of college tuition and textbooks outstrips pretty much all other types of inflation by a large margin, and it’s breaking American society. The average student graduating with a bachelor’s degree is $37,000 in debt — and that’s just the ones who make it through! American society is funneling as many students through college as possible, including many who really lack the aptitude to benefit. Such students often fail out, deeply in debt and lacking any credential to help them dig their way out of the hole. And many students who do graduate haven’t really learned much.

Part of the cause of the inflation is that student loans are so easy to get, and students are told that the education is guaranteed to pay for itself, so students keep borrowing more and more, and paying whatever is demanded. The absence of any measure of learning quality is also deeply problematic, in that it is hard for obscure schools, or new ones, to prove themselves, establish a reputation, break into the ranks of the “elite” schools, and provide some competition in the system that would lead to a downward pressure on costs.

This epidemic of debt is ruining the lives of young people. They’re taking longer to establish new households of their own, often living with their parents for most or all of their twenties, which is no picnic for them or their parents, taking longer to get married, and taking longer to have kids, even though opinion polls show they want marriage and kids just as much as the generations before them. The whole experience is driving many young people to conclude that capitalism is a failing system, when what’s destroying their lives is just one institution in American society, not capitalism.

What is to Be Done?

One solution being bandied about a lot is to have the government offer everyone free college. This would do nothing whatsoever to solve the quality control problem, and in the context of runaway cost increases, be like pouring gasoline on a fire, as costs would skyrocket even faster, posing an unacceptable burden on the public purse.

Break the monopoly that colleges, especially the elite colleges, have on credentialing job applicants. Let employers see standardized test scores. This would lead to more students taking standardized tests at college graduation, to impress employers. We would have some measure, however imperfect, of learning quality, so that unknown schools could really compete. And employers could even opt out of hiring college graduates and make do with high school graduates who got reasonable scores on their SAT’s for those jobs that don’t really require a college degree.

And not all standardized tests are necessarily as bad as the American “No Child Left Behind” tests: Testing Done Well.

One objection to making test scores public would be that some ethnic groups score worse on tests, particularly tests that correlate highly with IQ. The current system deals with this in that college admissions departments are less demanding of high test scores for applicants from certain minority groups. Perhaps the standardized testing agencies could adjust scores according to the ethnicity of the student, to the same amount that college admissions departments do. In fact, given that cheap DNA testing of ancestry is available, it would be possible to demand a DNA test of any test-taker demanding preferential treatment, to avoid people gaming the system by lying, or inflating the significance of a barely detectable amount of preferred ancestry.

How to Start a Meetup Group is a website designed to help you organize a club. First, someone joins, which is free, and then they join which groups they want to attend, which is also free. Most members of meetup belong to many groups. Once someone has signed up for, it is nearly effortless for them to join an additional group.

People who are meetup members are people who are interested in going out and attending events, so they tend to be people who are interested in getting out and doing things and meeting people, more so than, say, typical Facebook members. Furthermore, when you create your group, you list about a dozen interests relevant to the group. When people sign up for, they list as many topics that interest them as they want. People who have expressed an interest in topics relevant to your meetup will be informed via email of your group’s existence, which typically will result in a stream of people joining the group.

Prepare Before You Start. It is important to set up your group right at the beginning, because in the week or two after you create your group, meetup will send out emails to all the meetup members in the vicinity who have expressed an interest in the topics of your group. This initial mailing is really your chance to get members and get off the ground. So you want your group to be up and running and as attractive as possible when that mailing goes out.

Decide upon your group’s title. Search for it on Meetup and make sure there isn’t already a meetup with that name.

Decide upon your meetup group’s cover photo. Even if you’re not a good artist, Google Images is a great source of public domain images you can use, and with a little tailoring in photoshop you can render them to have the right aspect ratio. You want two images — a horizontal rectangle for the main group cover photo, and a square one for the logo to be displayed on sub-pages.

Write up what you’re going to say on the group’s introduction, at least 3 paragraphs explaining what the group is about and what sort of activities you will have.

Decide upon what your meetup group’s URL will be. It will be of the form<your choice> where ‘<your choice>’ can be anything you want, unless it’s already taken. The URL’s of EVERYTHING on your meetup will start with that, for example a typical event URL will be<your choice>/events/258837669/ where the “258837669” is auto-generated by Ideally, ‘<your choice>’ will be short, since you might want your group’s URL on your business card, and you will be emailing URL’s to events all the time.

Plan at least 3 events in the future before starting the group. People will be much more interested in joining a group if they can see that is it active, and if they can see what sort of events are planned, and where they will be held. Be very clear in the write-ups for the events about what sort of activity will take place.

Ideally, have a different graphic for each event.

Next, create the meetup group. You will have to give a credit card which will be charged $90 every six months. For that $90, you can organize as many as 3 separate meetup groups based upon a single email address.

Under “Your Members” you have several choices:

Firstly, you can require organizer approval for people to sign up. This is almost never desirable unless there are some types of people you really don’t want. If you opt for this, it means people will try to sign up, and then not be let in right away, so they can’t start signing up for events until after an organizer has approved them, by which point they may have forgotten about the group.

You can require a photo. Nearly all meetup members have a photo up, except for people who are not very computer savvy, typically older people. Some people like to be anonymous, so they put up pictures of cartoons or landscapes.

Next, you can ask questions, which can be mandatory or optional. Typically it’s good to keep them short, like “What did you hear about us?”. You might want to add “Anything else you’d like to say?”, which is useful — there’s a field for them to enter an “Introduction”, but it’s very limited in the length of answers they’re allowed to give, while answers to questions may be much longer.

Then write up a little note to be emailed to people in response to their signing up, welcoming them to the group and telling them how you look forward to seeing them.

Next, choose the topics. You only get 15, so choose them carefully. This can make or break a group — the topic determines who will be informed of the existence of your group.

Under “Content Visibility”, you usually want “Public”, unless your group’s members are embarrassed to be there, like if it’s an Alcoholics Anonymous meetup. If you choose “Private” that means that people trying to decide whether to join your group can’t examine upcoming events or look at your member list.

Under “Communication”, you have a few choices. “Mailing List”, if fully enabled, allows any member to send an email to everybody in the group at any time. You probably don’t want this because idiots will spam your members, who will quit the group in droves. You can set it to moderated, so that people can send emails, but the emails have to be approved of by you, or you can turn it off altogether, which is what I always do.

he Message Board is a good feature, it allows people to have long discussions without spamming everybody. However, the meetup website has evolved so that the feature is largely hidden and most meetup members don’t even know it exists. Also, when someone creates a thread on the message board, the organizers aren’t informed. I had a guy post an interesting YouTube video on the message board of my meetup once, and I didn’t notice it until six months later, and when I did I loved it and read the book it was based on and used it as the basis for an event.

Unless you are going to be charging people to attend events, the currency and money options aren’t important.

If you have any assistants or co-organizers in your group, once they join, you can set them up to have special roles, like “co-organizer”, “assistant organizer”, or “event organizer”.

  • Event Organizers have the authority to schedule events and email the members.
  • Assistant Organizers have all the privileges of Event Organizers, but may also kick out hecklers.
  • Co-Organizers have all the privileges of Assistant Organizers, and may also edit the meetup group’s introduction page and change all the settings of the group.
  • There may only be one “Organizer”, who is the person who pays for the group, but they have no privileges that “Co-organizers” don’t.

I’ve been organizing meetups since 2006, I done a lot of them, some that succeeded, and some that failed miserably. The important things to get right are to choose your group name and topics well, and have the meetup set up well with multiple events in the future when the initial e-mailing goes out, to get off the ground.

The Betrayal

American society is designed by smart people, for smart people. Meritocracy is one of our core ideals, where the most talented will rise to the top and reap the economic rewards. American folklore is rife with stories of talented people born to humble origins who rose to spectacular wealth.

A lot of effort has been expended to extend “equal opportunity” to the masses. Through standardized testing of high school students, universities are able to identify talented students across the country and offer them scholarships to leave their hometowns and go to colleges far away from home, often in another state. There, they make friends with classmates at their own intelligence level, leaving their forgotten hometowns behind.

A “cognitive elite” has emerged, of people who went to prestigious colleges and then went on to high-paying jobs. Most of their closest friends are from college or their careers, and share their own intellectual level. This elite has traditionally controlled the hubs of culture, those being the mainstream media, Hollywood, the universities, and the K-12 teaching profession.

It is basic human nature to do everything one can to put one’s children into a position of privilege, so the cognitive elite has done a great job of making sure that most of their children also wound up in the cognitive elite of the next generation, sparing no expense toward that end. And of course, it helps a lot that intelligence is heritable.

So American society has become intellectually stratified, and the cognitive elite has developed a completely different culture, with different habits and values, to those outside of it. This is particularly illustrated by the 2012 book Coming Apart by Charles Murray. Knowing that his book would be read almost exclusively by the cognitive elite, Murray included a questionnaire about the customs and habits of white people outside the cognitive elite to demonstrate to readers how deeply they were out of touch with that culture. The book was more prescient of the coming of Trump than anything else that I have ever read.

The cognitive elite had some pangs of guilt about those who were less empowered, but efforts to fix this problem were limited almost exclusively to helping ethnic minorities and women, and specifically the most talented people from those groups, doing absolutely nothing to address the interests of people in general who just weren’t born particularly book-smart.

The cognitive elite developed a deep-seated contempt for those Americans who weren’t members of it, which was communicated through the hubs of culture which they controlled. Those left out of the elite felt this message loud and clear.

A globalist ideology emerged within the cognitive elite, that free trade across borders would bring prosperity to all, and the free movement of peoples across borders would be an unmitigated gain. Globalism did a great job of improving the prosperity of the cognitive elite, but manufacturing jobs that those outside the elite depended upon fled to the third world, devastating many communities, and competition from low-skilled immigrants, legal and illegal, undermined the bargaining power, and with it, the wages and working conditions, of low-skilled Americans.

Anyone who criticized global trade was dismissed as ignorant of economics, and anyone objecting to any kind of immigration was punitively dismissed as a “bigot”. An American of average intelligence from a community that had been devastated by globalization had few options, and was given advice like “learn to code”, something only feasible for someone whose intelligence was among the top 20%. Moving to a city meant leaving family and friends, and facing a drastically higher cost of living that a low-skilled person would have tremendous difficulty affording. The cognitive elite broadcast a constant, repetitive message to society: “If you’re not smart, screw you“.

So there was a very large mass of people who felt deeply betrayed by the cognitive elite. Since the gatekeepers of American culture all belonged to that elite, those who felt betrayed were prevented from airing their grievances. But with the emergence of talk radio, blogs, and social media, the “forgotten people” found a voice.

Trump promised to enforce the borders, against both migrants and imports, which was exactly what the forgotten people wanted to hear. He had had summer jobs at a young age on construction sites and learned to socialize with construction workers and relate to them on their own level, and he always spoke that way in public during his campaign and continued while in office. To the cognitive elite, he sounded like an idiot, but to the less educated masses, he seemed relatable, lacking in presumption, and very, very importantly, not a member of the hated cognitive elite.

As Trump emerged as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Fox News lined up behind him.

Social media and the proliferation of news sources has led to a deep political polarization of American society, so much so that it’s very hard for people from opposite ends of the spectrum to have a civilized conversation. This is exacerbated by the fact that the left has such aggressive rules about what may or may not be said that its basically impossible to express the conservative world view (or, for that matter, any realistic one) without violating them.

I don’t think Trump has done a very good job of keeping his promises. The borders are not enforceable without bipartisan cooperation, and he doesn’t have a bipartisan bone in his body. His way of phrasing things just reinforces the liberal conviction that everything he does is stupid and mean-spirited.

But the cognitive elite should realize that there were legitimate grievances driving his rise, and that those grievances need to be addressed, or others (hopefully less abrasive and more competent) will follow in his footsteps.

The cognitive elite has a very, very strong opinion that anyone who is poorly educated or not book-smart is not worth listening to and can be dismissed out of hand. This means that the cognitive elite completely dismisses all input from outside of itself.

Most of the liberal end of the political spectrum are using conspiracy theories about magical forces on the Internet to dismiss the legitimacy of Trump’s election, and as an excuse not to do the homework of engaging in constructive, civilized debate with people with whom they disagree, and have utterly failed to face the reality that Trump voters are motivated by legitimate grievances and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand as “deplorables”. Such people see Trump as an aberration that came from nowhere for no reason, like Godzilla rising from the ocean to attack Tokyo.