The Straw Poll


Best take I’ve heard on the Straw Poll?  It’s there for political reporters to have something to talk about.  Nate Silver has a post showing it can actually be reasonably predictive, but still, we are talking about something where the voters themselves of candidates on their behalf, pay for them to participate.  What I had never paid enough attention to notice before, is the incredibly small numbers involved.  I saw this chart of results in the Times and said to myself, “Seriously?!

All this hulabaloo over just a few thousand Iowa voters?  Wow.  Nobody (including me) ever said our primary process was rational.

On a related note… Go Bachmann!!  Will be quite interesting to see what Perry’s entry does to her.


The rich are different

They’ve got more money.  But some interesting research shows that’s not the only thing.  They’re also selfish bastards :-):

Psychologist and social scientist Dacher Keltner says the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish.

In fact, he says, the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class “ideology of self-interest.”

“We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way, and some work on compassion and it’s the same story,” he said. “Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.”…

In other words, rich people are more likely to think about themselves. “They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,” said Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Because the rich gloss over the ways family connections, money and education helped, they come to denigrate the role of government and vigorously oppose taxes to fund it.

Of course, what’s not addressed here is why.  Does being rich just turn you into a selfish bastard or does being a selfish bastard make you much more likely to be rich.  I suspect it’s a bit of both.  And this speaks all the more highly then of rich people who aren’t selfish bastards, i.e., Warren Buffet.

The Wonk Gap

So, earlier this week I was thinking about the fact that there just doesn’t seem to be any of the equivalent of my favorite wonky liberal bloggers (i.e., Klein, Drum, Chait, Yglesias) on the right.  Maybe they’re out there, but if they are, I don’t think anybody reads them.  Coincidentally enough, just a couple days ago I was having lunch with a former student and now PhD Political Science student and she said she’s been asking everyone she knows if they can name a serious, policy-oriented blogger on the right.   No good answers.  If you wanted to count the pure libertarian bloggers, i.e., Tyler Cowen and Will Wilkinson, there’s certainly some serious and thoughtful (though sadly, wrong) voices out there, but as for any true “conservatives” I just don’t think they exist.  Just further evidence that liberals actually take policy seriously and see politics as a means to a policy ends.  I just don’t see any evidence that mainstream conservatives take policy seriously.  And just to be clear, “no more taxes ever” and “smaller government is always better” and “get those gays away from me” are not taking policy seriously.

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