Archive for November, 2022

Home Alone … it’s not just Kevin McCallister!

November 29, 2022

Over the T-Day weekend, we watched the movie classic Home Alone with grandkids …

… or, as the 4-year-old kept calling it “Provolone”

So, the phrase “Home Alone” was front-of-mind for me … so the below WaPo chart caught my eye.

The data is from the BLS’ American Time Use Survey (ATUS) measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities, such as paid work, childcare, volunteering, and socializing.

In the last category “socializing”, a stark trend occurred”:

Of course, during the Covid lockdown period, people isolated themselves more, i.e. “time alone” spiked.

Pre-Covid, folks were spending about 2 hours a week alone.

That increased to 10 hours per week … and has stayed there post-lockdowns.

Not exactly hermit territory, but statistically significant.

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Social behaviorists hypothesize that social relationships were weakened or broken during Covid … and wonder if they’ll be restored over time … or whether less socialization is a new normal.

If it is a new normal, psychologists warn of an apparent correlated trend in anxiety, depression and aggression.

WaPo’s observes:

You can help reverse these trends today without waiting for the researchers and policymakers to figure it all out.”

What to do?

  • Take advantage of the holiday season … accept the invitations that are offered … and offer a few invites yourself.
  • Be proactive and reach out to rekindle relationships that may have wither a bit during Covid.

Good advice.

The whole WaPo article is worth reading.

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P.S. In the movie Home Alone, Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) was a young boy whose parents inadvertently left him behind when they took a trip to Paris.  Chaos ensued.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2022

It has been a tough couple of years.

So, it’s a good time to focus on the many reasons we still have to be thankful.

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Another remote learning casualty: attractive females’ grades … say, what?

November 22, 2022

Here’s one that you might not have seen coming…

According to economic researchers in Sweden:

During the pandemic, as education moved online following the onset of the pandemic, the grades of attractive female students deteriorated. Source

Hmmm…

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Maybe this is something that we should have expected.

In a long ago HomaFiles post, we asked (and answered) the question:

Do better looking students get better grades?

To answer the question, Prof Robert Kaplan of San Diego State University conducted an experiment:

Faculty subjects were asked to grade an essay written by a student.

A photograph of the student was attached to the essay.

The grade given for the essay correlated strongly with a subjective attractiveness scale evaluated by other judges.

What is interesting is that all the subjects received the exact same essay, and the photograph attached to it was randomly assigned.

Bottom line: Physical attractiveness effects grading

Here’s what’s going on …

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According to Douglas Hubbard in “Measure Anything”

This is an example of the so-called “halo effect”

If people first see one attribute that predisposes them to favor or disfavor one alternative, they are more likely to interpret additional subsequent information in a way that supports their conclusion, regardless of what the additional information is.

For example, if you initially have a positive impression of a person, you are likely to interpret additional information about that person in a positive light (the halo effect).

Likewise, an initially negative impression has the opposite effect (the “horns effect”).

This effect occurs even when the initially perceived positive or negative attribute should be unrelated to subsequent evaluations.

For the  most memorable example of the halo effect see Biases: The “halo effect” … rock on, sister!

Be sure to watch the video … it’s priceless.

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So what?

Several studies have coined the correlation between attractiveness and grades to be a “beauty premium”.

It accrues when classes are held in person … but losses some of its sway in a zoom call.

It’s as simple as that…

More re: Covid learning loss

November 21, 2022

More research calibrates the problem.
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We previously posted that…

According to The Nation’s Report Card the pandemic school shutdowns took a near catastrophic toll … especially in math.

Pre-Covid, over 42% of 4th graders were considered proficient in math; that percentage slid to  36% during the Covid shut downs.

Similarly, pre-Covid, over 34% of 8th graders were considered proficient in math; that percentage slid to 26% during the Covid shut downs.

All of those numbers are pretty dismal.

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Moving the ball forward…

Researchers at Harvard and Stanford used the latest The Nation’s Report Card results to analyze the achievement drop in different school districts nationwide. Source: WSJ

As expected, there was a correlation between learning loss and the length of school shutdowns.

But, the learning loss was far greater than expected in poorer school districts (think: urban public school districts) than in better-to-do school districts (think: suburban public & private schools).

Said differently, evidence confirmed that poor children disproportionately suffered from pandemic-era disruptions.

In (poor) districts where 69% or more of students received lunch subsidies, children lost the equivalent of two-thirds of a year of math between 2019 and 2022.

In comparison, in (richer) districts where only 39% or fewer got free or reduced lunch, students fell less than half a year behind.

A case on point:

Falls Church City Public Schools is the second-most affluent district in Virginia, with an average household income of nearly $147,000.

There students fell less than 0.3 of a grade level behind in math.

In Richmond City Public Schools, where 93% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch,  children fell 1.96 grade levels behind.

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My Takeaways

> Reconfirmation that learning loss from Covid shutdowns “statistically” significant … as “little” as about 1/2 year in “richer” districts … up to 2 years in “poorer” districts”

> Concern that, while some parents are supplementing the schools with tutoring, etc., I’m still having a hard time hearing about or seeing any substantial, broadscale catch-up programs in our schools.

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Geez, even our lowly #27 worldwide ranking in academics is at risk… there’s lip service … the problem sure doesn’t seem top of mind.

Will somebody please pass the crow?

November 18, 2022

About the election polls
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A week or so before the election, the NY Tomes published a poll in conjunction with its polling partner Sienna University.

The poll’s results were contrary to the red wave being reported by other big name polling outfits.

Like many, I dismissed the NYT-Sienna Poll as an outlier… after all, it was the Dem partisan New York Times.

But, now that most of the dust has settled: The NYT-Sienna got all 4 of the most closely watched Senate races right.

Note: On the 5th — Ohio — NYT-Sienna pegged the race as a dead heat.

Not kinda right …  nearly perfectly right!

Their share of votes predictions were practically dead on the final results.

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How does that compare to the other top name polling services?

> The RCP’s poll-of-polls and Silver 535 were close in Ohio … had Kelly in AZ … but mis-called winners in NV, GA and PA

> Trafalgar … was closest to the pin on Ohio … but miscalled winners in NV, GA, PA and AZ … OUCH!

> NYT-Sienna … called ties in OH and NV   … but were spot on the other 3 races.

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My take: The NYT-Sienna poll was the clear winner this round.

Time to eat, so pass the crow to the other pollsters … and me, for buying into Trafalgar and the “wisdom of the (pollster) crowd”.

Oh well… better luck next time, right?

America’s political polarization in 4 charts …

November 16, 2022

It’s not new … and it’s not all Trump’s fault.
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It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

Biden lays it all off on Trump and his MAGA supporters. … totally ignoring the role that he (Biden) and Obama played.

Let’s look at some inconvenient facts and put them in perspective…

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Way back in 2014, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd observed:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.

Todd’s observations were true then, and they’re true now.

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Based on the latest Pew data (from 2017, the latest Pew data I could find)), here’s where we stood:

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What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

Less than 10 percent in each party overlaps ideologically with the other side.

That’s where we are.

How did we get here?

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Let’s add some historical perspective …

Back in to mid-90s, there was a divide, too, but the distance between the peaks was relatively small.

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Put another way…

In 1994, a couple of years into the Clinton presidency, Pew found that 36 percent of Republicans were more liberal than the median Democrat … and 30% of Democrats were actually more conservative than the median Republican.

The blue and red curves pretty much blended together … with a big clump of folks overlapping in the center.

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Then came the Bush years.

Many pundits claim that Bush forged the great divide.

But, the facts are to the contrary.

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By midway through the Bush presidency, the ideological peaks had converged even closer.

The biggest area of the chart is the dark blue section … which indicates the a very middle of-the road America.

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Now, let’s advance the calendar and look at 2014.

By the 6th year of the Obama presidency, each side moved further to their extremes .

Less than 10 percent in each party overlapped ideologically with the other side.

Here’s where we were in 2014.

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Now, let’s look at what happened between 2014 and 2017 (Pew’s latest survey)…

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Note that the dark blue “middle of the road” has shrunk.

The red section flattened a bit … with more conservatives moving to the middle.

But, the light blue section has moved to the left (away from the middle) … with a peak moving further to the left.

The data only covers part of the first year of the Trump administration so, for the most part, it’s the legacy that Obama left for Trump.

Certainly, the polarization was amped up during the Trump years.

But, Biden may want to look in a mirror before he starts laying all the blame on Trump.

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P.S. I wonder why Pew stopped publishing this data and it’s cut-to-the-chase charts.

The right track – wrong track paradox.

November 14, 2022

A vast majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, but a slim majority voted for the status quo.

As one political pundit put it:

In my view, the strangest thing about the midterm election is how rigidly it preserved the status quo.

At a time when something like 70% of voters say we are on the wrong track, and explosive issues like crime, the cost of living and illegal immigration are roiling the electorate, voters nevertheless turned out for incumbents.

Are voters really that attached to the status quo?

Let’s drill down on that question…
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In the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections, much was made of right track – wrong track polling.

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In round numbers, over 2/3s of Americans think the country is on the wrong track … the other 1/3 think the country is on the right track or have no opinion one way or another.

From that data alone, it was reasonable to expect that the election would usher in sweeping change.

But it didn’t.

How can that be?

Again, just isolating on the right track – wrong track measurement, the answer is simple…

Americans may agree that the country is on the right track … but they don’t agree on what constitutes a right track.

From 50,000 feet, it may be that half of the wrong tracker think that the current track is too progressive … and half think that the current direction is too conservative.

For arguments sake, let’s assume that, objectively, the current status quo leans left.

Add the “too conservative” wrong trackers to the “right trackers” and, bingo, you have a voting majority.

Simple arithmetic, right?

So, why did so many pollsters and political pundits fall victim to the right track – wrong track paradox?

Viva la Gridlock!

November 11, 2022

The stock market soared yesterday because…
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First, the numbers…

Yesterday, the stock market soared … the S&P was up 5.54% to 3,956.

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Let’s put that number in perspective…

The S&P at 3,956 is:

  • 3% higher than when Biden was inaugurated (01/20/21 S&P = 3,841)
  • 17% lower than the sugar-high market peak (12/27/21 S&P = 4,766)
  • 11% higher than the Biden era market trough (10/12/22 S&P = 3,577)

To summarize, the market today is about where it was when Biden was inaugurated … has recovered about 1/3 of the 25% peak to trough decline … and is up 11% from the trough.

So, you can either feel bad (still down 17% from the peak) … or good (recovered about 1/3 of the peak to trough decline).

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For today, let’s focus on the positive … yesterday’s bounce … and ask “why?”

There were 2 near-simultaneous events yesterday morning.

  1. The reported inflation rate for October was down to 7.7%
  2. Media vote counting arbiters conceded that the GOP was on track to gain control of the Congress.

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My take:

The 7.7% is statistically insignificant from the recent inflation running rate … it’s likely month-to-month noise … and likely driven by a decline in residential housing prices … which is, perhaps, a blessing for renters, but a curse to homeowners (whose home is a big chunk of their net worth).

So, I don’t place much weight on the 7.7% inflation rate driving the market gain.

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I think the market gain was driven by the near certainty that the GOP will control Congress and we’ll have split government gridlock for the next 2 years … and, at least, an end to reckless government spending.

Here’s hoping…

Election turnout: Gallup nailed it!

November 10, 2022

One chart provides some clues into the election results
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The below chart hit my email box early on election day.

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I glanced at it … then dismissed it as an outlier to the polls and punditry on turnout.

Most said sky high turnout, especially among fed-up Republicans and inflation drained budgeters.

And, the “generic ballot” gave the edge to the GOP

Getting to the point…

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Gallup queried folks on whether they were more or less enthusiastic about voting in the 2022 midterm election compared to prior midterms.

As the above chart illustrates:

In 2010, 2014 and 2018 … GOP voting enthusiasm was very high … and higher than Dem enthusiasm

But, for this year:

  • GOP voting enthusiasm dropped from 72% in 2018 to 49% this year … a whopping 23 percentage point drop.
  • Dem voting enthusiasm also dropped …  from 69% % in 2018 to 57% this year … but, 8 percentage points higher than GOP voting enthusiasm

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According to an AP / WaPo analysis, turnout (as a percentage of eligible voters) did, in fact, drop this year … down to about 48%

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And, if the mix conforms to the Gallup voting enthusiasm mix, it suggests that proportionately more Dems were “enthusiastic” and more of them turned out to vote than GOPs.

If the actual turnout numbers confirm that conclusion, it’ll explain a lot about the election results … and, Gallup should get credit for spotting the marker.

Yipes! GOP snaring defeat from the jaws of victory?

November 9, 2022

Hoping for gridlock to stop my IRA bleeding.
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I gotta admit, I thought inflation, crime, energy independence and strong borders were a strong hand.

But apparently, not strong enough to win big against abortion, climate control and open borders.

My early morning takeaways:

> So much for the polls, betting markets and political pundits … red wave dissipated somewhere off-shore.

> Kudos to my friends who have already moved to Florida … land of sunshine, low taxes, effective government and common sense.

> Obama got his man …Pennsylvanians should feel so proud.

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> Laxalt and Johnson should eek out victories to keep the Senate 50-50 … as of 6 a.m.

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> Best GOP Senate scenario is that Herschel wins a run-off, but that race has a groundhog day feel to it … and a Walker win would crown Romney as the new Manchin (ouch).

> Pundits are still saying that GOP will eek out a Congressional majority and we’ll see legislative gridlock and a stream of entertaining investigation.

> If the pundits are wrong again, my (our) IRAs, 401Ks and 528s are screwed … batten down the hatches, folks ,,, stock up on Chef Boyardee

Yipes!

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P.S. Looks like a vindicated Biden against a surging DeSantis in 2024.

The dogs just aren’t eating the dogfood…

November 8, 2022

A left-leaning think tank blisters Dems with a data-rich pre-mortem.
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Pre-election, many Dem pundits started lamenting dumb voters (only on the right, of course) and bad messaging … failing to tout touting Biden’s accomplishments and failing to convince the unwashed that climate change and “democracy” are on the ballot, not Biden, inflation, crime or illegal immigration.

That is, until Third Way — a center-left think tank backed by some of the biggest names in Democratic politics — sounded an alarm about deep-seated party flaws. Source

Channeling the Third Way report, Axios outlined the “brutal bill of particulars”.

  • “Democrats are underwater on issues voters name as their highest priorities, including the economy, immigration, and crime.”
  • “While Democrats maintain a lead on handling certain issues like abortion and climate change, voters also rank these issues as lower priorities.”
  • “Voters question whether the party shares essential values like patriotism and the importance of hard work. … Only 43% of voters say Democrats value hard work, compared to 58% for Republicans.”
  • “Even in the areas where Democrats are trusted more [including education], it is not clear that voters are sold on Democrats’ approach or ability to get things done.”
  • Democrats are benefitting from a perception among voters that Republicans are extreme, but…  voters think Democrats are extreme as well.”

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Bottom line: Third Way concludes that Democrats are “out of touch on priorities, ideology and values”.

Other than that, how did you like the play Mrs. Lincoln?

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P.S. The entire Third Way report — loaded with polling results and analysis — is worth reading.

Key Senate Races: Game Day Bets & Odds

November 8, 2022

Election Day morning…
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The chart below summarizes what the PredictIt betting market, Election Betting Odds and Silver 535 are saying about the key mid-term Senate races.

Bottom line:

  • Vance is a prohibitive favorite in Ohio
  • All 3 sources agree that Walker is an odds-on favorite in Georgia
  • Silver calls Nevada a toss-up … others call Laxalt an odds-on favorite
  • Silver has Oz a slight favorite in Pennsylvania … others have Oz a stronger odds-on favorite
  • Toss-up in Arizona …Silver has Kelly as a slight favorite … others have Masters a slight favorite … call it a toss-up

It’s Silver against the bets & odds….

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Key Senate Races: Final-Final Polls

November 8, 2022

What the polls are saying on election morning…
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OK, I jumped the gun yesterday when I recapped what I thought were final polls.

A couple of pollsters reported “fresh” polls yesterday and overnight.

So, today — election day — let’s re-recap the major polls: the RCP poll-of-polls, Trafalgar (right-leaning, historically accurate), NYT/Sienna (left-lurching) and, of course, Nate Silver’s 535.

Bottom line:

  • Trafalgar calling all 5 (OH, NV, GA, PA, AZ) for GOP
  • Silver calling AZ for Kelly … other 4 for GOP
  • RCP final: Toss-up in AZ … other 4 for GOP
  • NYT / Sienna on another planet <= no surprise
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  • Runaway for Vance in Ohio
  • Strong lean to Laxalt in Nevada
  • Slight lean to Walker in GA … Kemp’s coattails … UGA football fever – Herschel put the Dawgs on the map!
  • Slight lean to Oz in PA ,,, Silver flipped from lean Fetterman to lean Oz … Oz pitching Biden’s “close all coal plants” blurt
  • Masters close but no cigar in in Arizona … only Trafalgar calling it for Masters … others may be under-estimating Lake’s coattails

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Key Senate Races: Near-Final Scorecard

November 7, 2022

What the polls are saying…
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Yesterday, we recapped the betting markets and odds.

Today — the day before the mid-term elections — let’s recap the major polls: the RCP poll-of-polls, Trafalgar (right-leaning, historically accurate), NYT/Sienna (left-lurching) and, of course, Nate Silver’s 535.

Bottom line:

  • Runaway for Vance in Ohio
  • Strong lean to Laxalt in Nevada
  • Slight lean to Walker in GA (Kemp’s coattails, UGA football is the talk of the state and Hershel’s a UGA football icon)
  • Pollster duel in PA: Trafalgar has Oz up by 2; Silver has Fetterman winning … in rallies Trump drew an overflow of 17,000; Obama only filled half of a 10,000 seat arena
  • Masters close but no cigar in in Arizona

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Hope & Change?

November 7, 2022

“If you don’t vote for my man, John Fetterman, true democracy will be at risk. It’s a fact”

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Is this really how Obama wants to be remembered?

A pretty big step-down from “Hope & Change”….

Key Senate Races: Odds & Bets

November 6, 2022

Sunday … 2 days until election.
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The chart below summarizes what the PredictIt betting market and Election Betting Odds are saying about the key mid-term Senate races.

Bottom line: A GOP runaway in Ohio … a widening GOP lead in Nevada, approaching runaway status … a statistically significant and widening GOP lead in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

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Specifics from Election Betting Odds

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Still more: Some people just shouldn’t vote!

November 6, 2022

The late humorist Andy Rooney cut to the chase.
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Let’s recap…

A couple of days ago, we posted “Some people just shouldn’t vote!” … triggered by a WSJ opinion piece by Peggy Noonan that argued:

If you’re not serious and don’t take our political life seriously … stay home and vote in good conscience next time.

We bolstered Noonan’s piece with an excerpt from GU Prof. Jason Brennan’s book The Ethics of Voting:

All adult citizens have the right to vote … but that they shouldn’t exercise that right unless they are informed, rational, and aiming for the common good.

Yesterday, we posted a contrary point-of-view expressed by former President Obama:

You’ve got to find Cousin Pookie, he’s sitting on the couch right now watching football.

He hasn’t voted in the last 5 elections.

You’ve got to grab him and tell him to go vote.

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Let’s consider one more opinion on the subject.

Back in 1984, Andy Rooney — a culture observer & humorist — presented his point-of-view on 60 Minutes.

Rooney’s take on voting:

“If you don’t know anything about anything refrain from voting”

More specifically, Rooney argued:

You hear a lot of talk about getting out the vote these days.

Local politicians are even using government workers to try and register welfare recipients, for example, and several of the big corporations are pretending they’re “Mister Nice Guy” by telling everyone to get out and vote in commercials. .

The companies are trying to sound patriotic and all-American.

Patriotism is selling very well this year. I don’t want to sound un-American or as though I don’t believe in democracy, but I’d prefer to leave a sleeping vote lie.

If someone has a natural inclination not to vote, because he or she isn’t interested, that’s OK with me.

I don’t want my vote cancelled out by some numbskull who hasn’t thought about the issues.

I hate the thought of having anyone dumber than I am vote.

In Russia, more than 90 percent of the people vote.

Does this make Russia a nice country to live in?

In the United States, not many more than half the eligible voters go to the polls in an election year.

That’s OK with me, too.

My advice to you is this: If you don’t know anything about anything, please stay right where you are.

Don’t get out and vote.

Rooney is probably turning over in his grave these days.

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P.S. Unfortunately, CBS moved the video clip behind the Paramount+ pay wall … too bad … it’s a classic the way Rooney delivers the message.

More: Some people just shouldn’t vote!

November 5, 2022

Former President Obama begs to differ…
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Yesterday’s we posted “Some people just shouldn’t vote!” … triggered by a WSJ opinion piece by Peggy Noonan that argued:

If you’re not serious and don’t take our political life seriously … stay home and vote in good conscience next time.

We bolstered Noonan’s piece with an excerpt from GU Prof. Jason Brennan’s book The Ethics of Voting:

All adult citizens have the right to vote … but that they shouldn’t exercise that right unless they are informed, rational, and aiming for the common good.

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Well, a couple of loyal readers reminded me of a classic contrary point-of-view on the subject.

Raise your hand if you remember, remember former President Obama “Cousin Pookie” get-out-the vote rally cry.

You’ve got to grab your friends. You’ve got to grab your co-workers.

You know, don’t just get the folks you know are going to vote.

You’ve got to find Cousin Pookie, he’s sitting on the couch right now watching football.

He hasn’t voted in the last 5 elections.

You’ve got to grab him and tell him to go vote.

I didn’t say it … Obama did:

click to view video clip
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Take that Ms. Noonan…

Remember Scott Brown?

November 5, 2022

John Fetterman sure does!
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Flashback to 2010 …

Obama had a filibuster-proof 60-40 Senate.

Then, Teddy Kennedy died, making it 59-40 with a vacancy.

No problem for Obama … quick special election in Dem-heavy Massachusetts would restore 60-40.

But, a stud with a pick-up truck got the GOP nomination. His name: Scott Brown.

Brown had sex-appealing charisma and an aura of “authenticity”.

Did I mention that he was a Republican?

Sure, he talked some about GOP-leaning positions, but his bumper sticker simply read:

Scott Brown #41

Not his jersey number, his potential position a filibuster restorer.

It worked!

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Fast forward to today…

Have you caught any of Fetterman’s brief and “to the point” campaign pitches?

Post-stroke, he has a tough time articulating his policy positions.

That’s probably a good thing since his signature priorities are freeing criminals from prisons and opening public heroin injection sites … neither of which is wildly popular these days.

But, he has a strong plus factor for Biden-loving Democrats:

“I’ll be the 51st Democrat in the Senate”.

As long as he can reliably pull the Senate voting lever, nothing else really matters, does it?

Against all odds, it worked for Scott Brown.

Might work for John Fetterman.

Perish the thought…

Some people just shouldn’t vote!

November 4, 2022

Sounds blasphemous, doesn’t it?
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In today’s WSJ, the normally sober-minded Peggy Noonan opined:

If you’re serious and take our political life seriously, please go Tuesday to the polls.

And if not, admit it to yourself and try to become a better citizen so you can vote in good conscience next time.

A provocative thought, Peggy …  but not exactly original.

Let’s do a HomaFiles flashback

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First posted Sept. 9, 2012

Every election cycle, I scratch my head and wonder blasphemously whether “one man, one vote” makes sense.

Surveys routinely reveal that a majority of Americans have marginal knowledge of government, politics, and political issues.

Try this: ask folks to explain the difference between the Federal deficit and the Federal debt … ask them where the money that funds, say unemployment benefits, comes from.

Jason Brennan is a rare breed … a libertarian business prof at Georgetown.

His research is at the nexus of ethics and politics.

He wrote an insightful book called The Ethics of Voting that I consider a classic.

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The essence of Jason’s argument is that all adult citizens have the right to vote … but that they shouldn’t exercise that right unless they are informed, rational, and aiming for the common good.

Let’s drill down on that conclusion…

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More specifically, Prof. Brennan argues:

“If a citizen has a right to vote, this means at minimum that she ought to be permitted to vote — no one should stop her or deprive her of the vote — and that her vote must be counted.

However, if citizens do vote, they must vote well, on the basis of sound evidence for what is likely to promote the common good.

That is, in general, they must vote for the common good rather than for narrow self-interest.

Citizens who lack the motive, knowledge, rationality, or ability to vote well should abstain from voting.

Some voters are well informed about what candidates are likely to do.

They know what policies candidates endorse and whether the candidates are sincere.

They know the track records and general trends of different political parties.

Other voters are ignorant of such things.

Another way voters vary is in their degree of rationality .

Some voters are scrupulously rational, while others are irrational.

Some have patently stupid beliefs.

“[Some citizens] are politically engaged, but they are nonetheless often ignorant of or misinformed about the relevant facts or, worse, are simply irrational.

Though they intend to promote the common good, they all too often lack sufficient evidence to justify the policies they advocate.

When they do vote, I argue, they pollute democracy with their votes and make it more likely that we will have to suffer from bad governance.”

* * * * *

Ken’s Take: An interesting perspective that has been constantly on my mind during this election cycle.

At least read the sample chapter … book is available in paperback at Amazon

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

Joe’s giving me an 8.7% raise!

November 3, 2022

And, he rushed to tell me before the mid-term elections.
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Here’s an email that I got from the Social Security Administration on Oct.15:

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A couple of takeaways from the email…

  1. The 8.7% COLA (cost of living increase) is the Fed government’s inflation estimate … required to keep SS recipients whole 2023.
  2. The notice was sent to Social Security recipients on October 15.

What’s interesting about the date?

> Last year, we SS recipients were notified of the 2022 cost-of-living increase (5.9%) on December 3, 2021.

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> Two years ago, we SS recipients were notified of the 2021 cost-of-living increase (1.3%) on November 3, 2020.

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Let’s recap …

> Based on Trump’s last year in office (2020), the inflation-based COL increase for 2021 was 1.7%

> Based on Biden’s first year in office (2021), the inflation-based COL increase for 2022 was 5.9%

> Based on Biden’s 2nd year in office (2022 YTD), the inflation- based COL increase for 2023 is 8.7%.

Ouch.

But, that’s not really new news, right?

What’s more interesting (to me) is the timing of the announcements.

The past years’ practice had been to notify SS recipients of their COLA adjustments (for the next year) in late November or early December.

This year the COLA notification was sent on October 15 … a couple of weeks before the mid-terms.

Coincidence?

Call me skeptical.

I can just envision Biden screaming:

“I protected your Social Security benefits against inflation … and, the Republicans want to take them away.”

That’ll be me screaming when he reads the words from the teleprompter …

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We’ve gotta take a told-ya-so lap on this one…

We alerted loyal readers to this probable Biden scam way back on Oct 17, 2022 at 06:45am

Yes, that was me screaming Wed. night…

Key Senate Races: Odds & Bets

November 3, 2022

OK, let’s see what the betting markets are now saying with less than a week to go…

The chart below summarizes what the PredictIt betting market and Election Betting Odds are saying about the key mid-term Senate races.

Bottom line: A GOP runaway in Ohio … a widening GOP lead in Nevada to near-runaway status … statistically significant but narrowing GOP lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia … a toss-up in Arizona.

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For comparison, here’s what the most favorable Dem-leaning NY Times poll is saying:

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Both can’t be right.

My inclination: Follow the money!

Oct. Update: If the earth is warming, why isn’t Baltimore?

November 1, 2022

I hate to impair a popular narrative with actual data, but…
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Like much of the U.S., the Baltimore area (where I live) was enduring an apparent heatwave this summer.

It was hot enough that, even I, momentarily thought: “Maybe the earth really is warming.”

Then, I started looking harder at my monthly electricity bills from BGE (Baltimore Gas & Electric).

Besides usage info, BGE reports the average monthly temperature, for the current and prior years (the red boxes below).

We previously reported in the past couple of months that year-to-date temperatures in the Baltimore area have been a couple of degrees colder than the prior couple of years.

Well, I just got my October bill and guess what.

The trend is continuing.

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The average October temperature this year was 55 degrees …  10 degrees colder than last year’s 65 degrees.

Hmm

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Getting more granular, a local Baltimore TV weather anchor pulled together a daily temperature chart for October.

The bottom line: A majority of days in October were colder than the historical average (aka. “normal”) by an average of 5 degrees; a minority of days were warmer than normal, by an average of 4 degrees

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Was October a fluke?

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Nope.

To dig deeper, I pulled more historical data from my BGE file…

Below are the average monthly temperatures in Baltimore (as reported by BGE) for January to October in years 2020, 2021 and 2022

image

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What does the data show?

  • Again, this year (October 2022) was 10 degrees colder than October 2021 … and 7 degrees colder than October 2020
  • More broadly, comparing year-to-year temperature by month, all 2022 monthly temperatures were equal to or colder than 2020 temperatures
  • Compared to 2021, only one month — February 2022 — was hotter than the 2021 temperature (40 degrees to 36 degrees) … all other months in 2022 were colder than their comparable months in 2021.
  • The 10-month average (January to October) for 2020 and 2021 were essentially equal at 61.6 degrees and 61.4 degrees respectively.
  • The 2022 10-month average (January to October) was 2.9 degrees colder in October 2022 than it was in October 2021 …. and 3.1 degrees colder than it was in October 2020.

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My take

  • It’s conceivable that BGE’s data collection is wrong … or that Baltimore is a complete outlier that’s not representative of the rest of the earth …. but, I doubt either is true.
  • The data probably doesn’t indicate that the earth is cooling … but, it sure as heck doesn’t support a global warming narrative.

Somebody’s gotta explain to me:

  • If the data shows that my average   local temperatures have dropped about 3 degrees from 2 years ago (and one year ago) — why should I believe (with “settled science certainty”) that the earth will be a degree or two hotter 50 or 100 years from now if I keep driving my SUV?

This circle doesn’t square…


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