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The American Politics thread

Magrat Garlick

Global Moderator
Haha please don't tell me you were one of those students who decides in Week One that it's all a cover for a conservative agenda and you're not going to engage with any of it.
More that I was curious, but found it both too easy and with too little explanatory power about real-world humans. Still got an A though.
 

Uppercut

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More that I was curious, but found it both too easy and with too little explanatory power about real-world humans. Still got an A though.
This is interesting because I would have said the super-easy models have tonnes of explanatory power. Nobody bothers teaching any empirical tests of them because the models are so powerful that it would be incredibly boring. Here's a study finds that wheat prices were lower in years with good harvests. Duh.

What you say is true about Finance though.
 

wpdavid

International Coach
This goes back a while, but at my school we had Keith Joseph pay a visit circa 1977 to extol the virtues of monetarism. Which gives some idea of the preferences of my economics teachers.
 

NZTailender

I can't believe I ate the whole thing
Poetic licence there. There's countless of pointless middle men jobs that exist to get extra money via 'services'.
 

Ausage

Cricketer Of The Year
Poetic licence there. There's countless of pointless middle men jobs that exist to get extra money via 'services'.
Pointless according to whom? There is certainly a ton of entropy associated with making big organisations run efficiently (at all) but it doesn't mean that the roles that keep the wheels turning are pointless (also inefficient clerical roles are the kind of excesses generally associated with government bureaucracies over private enterprises).

To be a bit more detailed, my main issue with the article is that it seems to make assumptions that allow the show to align with the authors politics. For example the paragraph on the show satirising the idea that you just have to work hard to get ahead seems like it could be taken in a number of ways depending on the politics of the viewer. That said the article is clearly aimed at someone who both watches Malcolm in the Middle and aligns with the authors political viewpoints and I'm in neither category :p
 
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NZTailender

I can't believe I ate the whole thing
Pointless according to whom? There is certainly a ton of entropy associated with making big organisations run efficiently (at all) but it doesn't mean that the roles that keep the wheels turning are pointless (also inefficient clerical roles are the kind of excesses generally associated with government bureaucracies over private enterprises).

To be a bit more detailed, my main issue with the article is that it seems to make assumptions that allow the show to align with the authors politics. For example the paragraph on the show satirising the idea that you just have to work hard to get ahead seems like it could be taken in a number of ways depending on the politics of the viewer. That said the article is clearly aimed at someone who both watches Malcolm in the Middle and aligns with the authors political viewpoints and I'm in neither category :p
No, the point of the article is that the show is more of a subtle critique of American working class life than one might expect on the surface. I think the working hard to get ahead aspect is particularly apt, though obviously not a blanket for everyones experiences.
 

Ausage

Cricketer Of The Year
No, the point of the article is that the show is more of a subtle critique of American working class life than one might expect on the surface. I think the working hard to get ahead aspect is particularly apt, though obviously not a blanket for everyones experiences.
Sure, but my point was that "Dad starts smoking, son works out the money he's spending is enough to send him to college" isn't necessarily a parody of the Reagan/Thatcher rhetoric of people being poor because they don't work hard enough. It could just as easily be interpreted as being about how people's short term decisions create long term rods for their own backs. It depends very much on the politics of the viewer. But as I said I don't watch the show so I might be off the mark here.
 
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NZTailender

I can't believe I ate the whole thing
Sure, but my point was that "Dad starts smoking, son works out the money he's spending is enough to send him to college" isn't necessarily a parody of the Reagan/Thatcher rhetoric of people being poor because they don't work hard enough. It could just as easily be interpreted as being about how people's short term decisions create long term rods for their own backs. It depends very much on the politics of the viewer. But as I said I don't watch the show so I might be off the mark here.
It literally pointed out the analogy in the following sentence about poor people being poor because "they spend their money on stupid things like ciggarettes which is why they're poor". Which ignores the human aspect of why people smoke, as well as the fact that tobacco is a huge cornerstone of modern capitalism, when you consider advertising and marketing for example. The double edged sword of YOU NEED THIS BUY IT and haha you're poor because you buy these things.

But whatever.
 

sledger

Spanish_Vicente
I think Ausage is right inasmuch as one's view on these things are inevitably shaped by their own politics. Unless something is overtly anti something then people will find a way to spin it according to their own persuasions. I remember a few years ago lots being written about how the Dark Knight Rises was a piece of capitalist propaganda for instance. Not something I ever really bought into, but I guess some people did. Probably the same with this piece on Malcolm in the Middle.

In any event, I think if I thought about this too hard it might spoil Malcolm in the Middle for me. I'd rather just enjoy it as the excellent slapstick stupidity that it is rather than think too hard about it looking for subtle nudges and messages that may or may not be there.
 

Uppercut

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I think Ausage is right inasmuch as one's view on these things are inevitably shaped by their own politics. Unless something is overtly anti something then people will find a way to spin it according to their own persuasions. I remember a few years ago lots being written about how the Dark Knight Rises was a piece of capitalist propaganda for instance. Not something I ever really bought into, but I guess some people did. Probably the same with this piece on Malcolm in the Middle.

In any event, I think if I thought about this too hard it might spoil Malcolm in the Middle for me. I'd rather just enjoy it as the excellent slapstick stupidity that it is rather than think too hard about it looking for subtle nudges and messages that may or may not be there.
TBF The Dark Knight Rises toyed with politics pretty explicitly. It's a story about legitimate anger at a corrupt establishment being exploited by a super-villain to replace it with a much worse establishment.

Malcolm in the Middle is hardly "socialist". It's just laughing at how dysfunctional institutions really are, especially family. Socialists aren't the only ones who get to do that.
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
It literally pointed out the analogy in the following sentence about poor people being poor because "they spend their money on stupid things like ciggarettes which is why they're poor". Which ignores the human aspect of why people smoke, as well as the fact that tobacco is a huge cornerstone of modern capitalism, when you consider advertising and marketing for example. The double edged sword of YOU NEED THIS BUY IT and haha you're poor because you buy these things.

But whatever.
Yeah this is all true (or at least arguable) but I think Ausage's point is that it could just as easily be interpreted as an sincere portrayal of the idea that poor people/families are usually poor because of poor choices as it could be as a parody of that idea. Whether that idea is actually the reality of the world isn't the point; the point is that seemed to be portrayed as the reality for that family at least in that episode, and I didn't see any real evidence of it being a parody in the way the author claimed. it was presented in the same way all the other themes he noticed throughout the show were.

The writer made some interesting observations and I didn't mind the article, but he seemed far too quick to use an episode that IMO probably went against what he was saying as supporting evidence for his point by calling it a parody. Someone could have gone the opposite way and wrote an article about how it was a show in support of meritocracy, citing that episode as the prime example and pointing to all the themes to the contrary the socialist writer noticed as 'parodies' instead.
 
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Athlai

Not Terrible
I'd personally say that Malcolm in the Middle is just a late 90s - early 2000s take on the disintegration of the "nuclear" family that was more typical in sitcoms of the 70s-early 90s. Would be interested on a critical examination of Married with Children.
 

Shri

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
So Chelsea Manning was pardoned. Have a feeling Snowden would have probably been too if he had come back at some point. Obama wag.
 

Ikki

Hall of Fame Member
Fair enough. In the UK most people don't study Economics in school at all. Introductory micro usually sets out a basic supply/demand model that explains the dead weight losses associated with taxes and price-fixing, then discusses the limitations of these models- externalities, asymmetric information, market power etc. But the limitations are usually more intuitively well-understood beforehand, so like Halsey says, the net effect tends to move people's views to the right.

Introductory macro almost always teaches both Keynesianism and Monetarism. Maybe 75%+ of academic macroeconomists are Keynesian, and the monetarists are keeping their head down lately because cross-sectional evidence on the post-2008 recovery supports Keynesian models so strongly. The conservative/liberal split is about 50-50 though. So you have a lot of small-government types that still want counter-cyclical deficit spending- they just want it done via tax cuts rather than increased public spending.

What makes your comments about Keynes strange is that, among the general population, almost nobody is Keynesian. You ever tried telling people we should respond to a recession by cutting taxes and increasing the deficit? It's very deeply counter-intuitive. When this was an electoral issue in 2010, pro-austerity parties won almost everywhere.
Interesting about the UK schools.

I don't think the Monetartists, or Austrian's, are quiet because the evidence supports Keynesian models. Economic improvement in the short term is as they expect. The part that makes it hard to be vocal about it is because it is easy to demagogue their positions when it looks good in the light of the current day, rather than as they theorise that it creates bubbles or distorts the market eventually harming us worse.

When people use the term Keynesian, in a non-academic way, they are referring to government interference in the economy in terms of wide-ranging stimulus programs. It's a term that has been used in that fashion a lot since 2008. It may be an inaccurate way to describe it but I guess from laissez faire perspective it isn't as important as they'd consider both bad. I guess those that are actually Keynesians probably dislike the description as much as proponents like the Austrian's dislike that many of the austerity programs aren't actually programs that cut taxes and government.

----

As for the other discussion going on, I think it is possible if you are an something like an econometrist to make claims and show proof that disregard political positions. But I would agree with the notion that your political beliefs greatly influence your economic ones and it's kind of obvious why that would be.
 
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Ikki

Hall of Fame Member
I'm surprised there wasn't much of a discussion here regarding the Trump fake news, pee story.

Honestly, with all the bull**** going around, it is hard to trust anybody. I heard someone describe that this election has been like someone has turned on the lights and you can see all the trap doors and such now and it's hard to turn off.

What makes it extra concerning is that many on the left are using Trump's refusal to talk to Acosta as an indication that he is going to rule with an iron fist and that it would undermine media and free speech. They've really run with that narrative. Although it is concerning, is it surprising that he'd do that, at least once? It's kind of pathetic that CNN/Buzzfeed even published that in light of the nonsense that has already been exaggerated towards Trump. And I say that as a free speech advocate. I hope Trump is open with the press because it will just give them an excuse to rile up the tensions already existing post-election.

On the other side, you hope that this doesn't feed into the resentment and mistrust the Trump supporters already have and it doesn't become an excuse for them to lessen these freedoms. IMO the last thing you want is a commander in chief whose party also controls both houses and who has the support of a huge amount of people to do bad things, even if they have been aggrieved.

I know it is getting into conspiracy theory realm...but it seems the people behind the curtains really want an all-out war.
 
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vic_orthdox

Global Moderator
To me, CNN were right to report what they did - that Trump and Obama had been briefed on the documentation and ties to Russia.

To then release the document itself, with all the unverified claims, as Buzzfeed did, is wrong. There's no doubt that Trump's team has taken the opportunity to conflate the two things, and continue to attack the mainstream media - in this case CNN.
 
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