82 Comments

I like the WH40K bunnies! I'm sure the Emperor approves...

On tax cuts - seems self evident, tbh. The macroeconomic environment/sector-specific economic circumstances are likely to dominate tax changes so completely as to make tax changes imperceptible.

So, sure, if the economy is hot, cutting taxes might ADD to industrial investment and corporate spending as companies use the extra funds to take advantage of the supporting environment. But in a recession or tepid environment? What would YOU do, if you were a CEO? Take the tax cuts and build your cash reserves/pay down debt, to lower your leverage?

At least, when it comes to VAT and/or personal income taxes, you can hope for a counter-cyclical effect. But corporate taxes? Unlikely... And no one ever started a company because corporate taxes dropped one or two points...

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16Liked by Noah Smith

You'd think a battle bunny would have some ear armor, but what do I know?

Maybe bunnies have insensitivities I don't know about. For example, horses have no feeling in their manes or tails.

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A few years ago, I was consulting for a state department of public health and one task we had was addressing maternal mortality. I tried to explain that the increase was largely due to changes in measurement, and you’d have thought I told them their baby was ugly. Complete inability to understand data, but lots of feelings.

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16

Noah, slightly off topic from this post but you mention frequently the unrest of the 2010s. I want deeply to believe that the period of unrest is somewhat over but the truth is from where I am it seems so much worse. Things like the Project 2025 (assuming Trump is reelected) and others seem designed to keep the period of unrest going on. Does this worry you at all?

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Are the two maternity charts from 1999 and 2020 supposedly measuring the same thing?

A number of countries had significant changes (e.g. >10%). Canada apparently rose from 2.4 to 8.4., an increase of 250%! That would have to be a change in measurement that far outstrips the US'.

With such wild swings and a wildly outlying South Korea, one suspects that we can't draw comparisons between countries at all: variances in measurement method appears to be greatest determinant of individual countries' results. Ff that's true, then those graphs are not useful for their intended purpose.

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"Living paycheck to paycheck" could be (and often is) defined as spending essentially all of one's income and not saving much of it. Technically, it means that the level of liquid savings (e.g., cash in the bank) can cover only a small faction of one's expenditures.

What this kind of definition suggests is that "living paycheck to paycheck" is a function of both the income level and the spending profile. Therefore, you can have people making, say, more than $100K, who feel they live paycheck to paycheck because they heavily depend on their paycheck to meet their spending commitments (which could include fancy gym memberships, tuition at private schools, etc). Missing just one paycheck would have a major impact on their lives.

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Thanks for the explanation on the pay-check-to-paycheck myth. I consider myself rather informed, but have fallen for this narrative. I do feel there are a lot of people in my generation (GenX) who got caught up in the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses consurmerism we developed in the 90s and 00s and are finding themselves with no savings, lots of debt, and a buch of crap. Many come from working class backgrounds and were raised with that mentality. I loved having a 401k and personally being in charge of investing for retirement, but moving away from pensions without properly educating my generation (or the Boomers that preceded us) on basic personal finance concepts is going to be a big issue in the next 20 years or so. But, maybe that is a false narrative too. Would love to hear more facts on this topic.

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Loved the analysis on the negative news issue. My thought on this for a while has been that it's both the death of local news / the hyper focus on national news.

The stat that first gave me this thought a few years ago was how violent crime is half of what it was in the 1980s, and yet everyone I asked, or any post I saw online was people complaining about how much more dangerous the world is today. The incongruity of this struck me as odd.

The internet and national news seems the best explanation. Hypothetical example: Thirty years ago, you had this idea of your town being a sleepy place with low crime, and everyone had that memory of the one time that guy murdered his wife 6 years ago. All you read or watched news wise was the local paper and the local evening news. Occasionally you'd tune into the nightly NBC broadcast and listened to Paul Harvey on occasion. So, you knew of bad crime issues elsewhere in the country, but your hometown was safe.

But the internet has now made every town local to you. Of the tens of thousands of towns across America, the rare murder story, mugging, or domestic violence assault everyone knew about is hitting the front page of national news or social media constantly. No need to wait up to 24 hours for the news cycle to mature before you read about it - details about the event are hitting your phone's notification bar within an hour of the event. You now have this sense that so much more is going wrong in the world and you feel less secure due to it, even though, statistically, you're twice as safe today as you were back in the time where you felt safer.

Couple that with the incentive that news companies have to tell sensational stories, or stories that make people angry to drive engagement, and now the well is poisoned even further. Feels like a prisoner's dilemma at this point. First news agency to opt out of the negative sensationalism dies at the feet of the others unless they join it in changing their rhetoric.

Also, with the contraction of local news being profitable, we're seeing a lack of local reporters who can do local journalistic investigations. Feels like local accountability is contracting.

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Wonderful news that American maternal health is probably improving rather than declining. Unfortunately, it's another example of why so many Americans distrust experts spouting statistics. So often, those statistics are revealed a few years later to be flawed.

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can you make solarpunk battle bunnies who are protected by remote drones

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Side note: please keep writing about how dysfunctional SF politics are. I love the city, but chronic, unsolved problems beg for systemic solutions. Not sure what or how. (Less power in the board of supervisors?) Maybe you can figure it out!

The latest insane story:

https://apple.news/AgFtgAUezS0KsTZuaxBChHg

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Please link to the transcripts of podcasts. If one wants to engage with the substance of what is said and not just the vibe, a transcript is necessary. [Can you ask GPT-4 to listen to the podcast and provide a written summary?]

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We need to give some recognition to the original battle bunnies: The Long Patrol. They were often understrength and always hard pressed, so they couldn't always make it to the battlefield on time, but whenever they did show up, you knew things wouldn't go well for the vermin.

Their tireless commitment to defending the weak, their willingness to face any foe on any field, and their good cheer under the most adverse conditions was an inspiration to little me, and made me want to be better. It still does.

https://redwall.fandom.com/wiki/Long_Patrol?so=search

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I do not believe very many economists ever believed that cutting corporate taxes AND increasing the deficit would stimulate growth. There are good theoretical reasons -- distortion in the corporate income tax system -- to believe that shifting from taxing corporations to taxing (higher) personal incomes would lead to more efficient use of capital and avoiding increased deficits would lead to more investment.

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You can curate your social media with positive news by following people who spread it.

https://x.com/johnrhanger/status/1747209736926159018?s=46

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