Photo of the day

Really cool set of London at night from above (via Alan Taylor).  Now here’s some soccer fields for urban density:

Five a side football pitches, 20 Union Street, Manchester. (© Jason Hawkes)


Too hot for TED

Well, here just a day after I mentioned how much I love TED, it turns out that they are shying away from political contreversy where a venture capitalist has taken on the whole “rich are job creators” business.  Via National Journal (and thanks to Mike in Chapel Hill’s FB  feed):

 The slogan of the nonprofit group behind the site is “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

There’s one idea, though, that TED’s organizers recently decided was too controversial to spread: the notion that widening income inequality is a bad thing for America, and that as a result, the rich should pay more in taxes.

TED organizers invited a multimillionaire Seattle venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer – the first nonfamily investor in – to give a speech on March 1 at their TED University conference. Inequality was the topic – specifically, Hanauer’s contention that the middle class, and not wealthy innovators like himself, are America’s true “job creators.”

“We’ve had it backward for the last 30 years,” he said. “Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs. Rather they are a consequence of an ecosystemic feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit. That’s why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.”

National Journal also published a transcript of the talk.  Here’s some juicy bits:

For thousands of years people were sure that earth was at the center of the universe.  It’s not, and an astronomer who still believed that it was, would do some lousy astronomy.  

In the same way, a policy maker who believed that the rich and businesses are “job creators” and therefore should not be taxed, would make equally bad policy.  

I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.

That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me. 

So when businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it’s a little like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.
Would be nice to see this go Elizabeth Warren style viral.
And since I started writing this post, it looks like due to the controversy, they have released the video:

My Republican personality

After reading a recent Chris Mooney post, I was inspired to take a closer look than I have before at the American Political Science Review piece on the “Big 5” personality factors and their relationship to political ideology.  Turns out they are relying on the TIPI (Ten Item Personality Inventory) to assign these traits rather than a longer inventory.   I’m sure the TIPI has been well-studied and is generally a valid shorthand for more extensive personality questionnaires, but in my case the results were quite at odds with longer personality inventories I’ve done.  As mentioned earlier, “openness to experience” is typically a key element of a liberal personality and on a longer test, I did score above average.  As this TIPI summary explains:

Openness is characterized by originality, curiosity, and ingenuity.

  • This factor is sometimes referred to as Culture because of its emphasis on intellectualism, polish, and independence of mind.
  • This factor is also sometimes referred to as Intellect because of its emphasis on intelligence, sophistication, and reflection.

Yet, what is the actual measure in the TIPI?

I see myself as open to new experiences, complex

Seems like very different thing to me.   Oh, I’m a complex intellecutal alright :-), but I am certainly not somebody who seeks out new experiences.  I’ve got real issues with the validity of these.  On its face, these seems like quite different constructs.  Answering this particular question honestly, I put “disagree strongly.”  On a similar level, the conscientiousness measure is based on two items where my answers were in complete contradiction.  I agree strongly that I am “dependable” and “self-disciplined”  yet I also agree with the (reverse-coded) statements that I am “disorganized,careless” (you should see my desk!).  Which is it?  These are simply not the same construct.   Here’s how I came out in an on-line TIPI:

Of course, a summary measure isn’t going to work for everybody and maybe I’m an outlier, but I have to admit to seeing conclusions based on this as potentially problematic.  And yes, I am a damn emotionally stable extrovert.

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