Re: We have achieved unity

1

So you're telling me that demographics that tend to be poorer on average also tend to spend most of their money on tangible things, rather than mutual funds, etc.? Weird!


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:33 AM
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I don't think it will necessarily go ugly. There are any number of explanations available that don't suggest something ugly about African-Americans or Latinos.

I do wish they'd broken out Iranians, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:36 AM
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Adam, I'm pretty sure it controls for income.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:37 AM
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3, continued: That is, "comparable whites" suggests that it controls for income, but I'm confused by this:

Moreover, we show that accounting for differences in reference group income characteristics explains most of the racial difference in visible consumption.

Too bad it costs $5.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:40 AM
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Man, this is something where I'd like to see someone I trusted with some statistical chops read the paper and opine on whether or not it's nonsense before worrying too much about what it means if it's true.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:41 AM
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3: I think Adam's claim--though, obv., he can speak for himself--might be that you find a certain showiness in people from communities that are largely poor, whatever the income of the specific individual. And in Iranians.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:42 AM
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2: yeah, I loved reading the thread's start over there: it's just because they're poor and health care is pricey! says one cartoon, and the other says LOOK AT THE ASIANS!1!! So good.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:45 AM
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I was making no cultural generalization whatsoever.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:46 AM
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8: Yours is the first comment that seems to reference culture. I'm not sure to whom you are responding. Assuming it's me, I'm not clear what the factors of "culture" are that you're speaking about. Are you saying that you think that if someone well-off had their income drop a lot for a few years, you'd see the same behavior?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:50 AM
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a certain showiness in people from communities that are largely poor

Yeah, I can see some of that explained by defensiveness. To offer an anecdote, a woman I worked with on a case when I was a first year, a contract attorney, mentioned once that she'd been hassled by the police as she went to do her laundry (I don't think she was actually arrested -- stopped and questioned, maybe). And she blew it off as a perfectly natural thing to happen -- she'd run out in flipflops (they weren't fashionable yet) and ratty clothes, with her hair a mess, and "I looked like a crack ho." And you know, she was very slim, and black, and she treated it as if it were a natural mistake by the cops (a little cranky about it, but not outraged particularly), in that thinking a skinny black woman in Upper Manhattan was a crack ho was absolutely to be expected.

If those are your background expectations (looking slovenly makes you a probable criminal), you're probably going to worry more about your presentation. So that could explain some of the effect, if it exists.

I still wouldn't want to assume it exists at all, without someone competent looking at the paper, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:51 AM
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4: I assume it just means that the reference group for the non-white groups is more likely to be poor.

I think they should do an equivalent study on old money vs. new money whites. It'd go over big at the yacht club.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:51 AM
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Whatever -- I wasn't thinking that it controlled for income.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:53 AM
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It's interesting how in certain contexts displays of slovenliness are a manifestation of cultural capital.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:00 AM
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11--
great study! it is true that there is far too much ostentatious vulgarity at the yacht club these days. most distasteful.

sully's video: he posted that as a defensive reaction. i.e., honest, i'm not being a racist this time. i hate poor *white* people too.

i don't find it hard to understand, but i do find it not so funny. i have a fairly high tolerance for british humor, but there's just not enough funny in that one.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:01 AM
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10 -- The version of this with which I'm familiar has female and minority lawyers resisting casual attire in the workplace, lest they be taken for staff (professional or otherwise).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:02 AM
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am I the only one who can't understand the speech in Sullivan's embedded video?

You is not well Westwood, man.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:03 AM
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sully's video: he posted that as a defensive reaction. i.e., honest, i'm not being a racist this time. i hate poor *white* people too.

Don't think so. I believe it's a commentary on the foolishness of white kids imitating black "street" speech.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:04 AM
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It's interesting how in certain contexts displays of slovenliness are a manifestation of cultural capital.

I have a great idea. Let's discuss how to dress at the opera.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:05 AM
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Let's discuss how to dress at the opera.

Shiny, baggy track suit, baseball cap backward, big sneakers, bling. What's the controversy?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:06 AM
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15: even in a suit BigLaw decides I'm the court reporter when I take a dep. Grr.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:06 AM
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I totally want a baggy track suit.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:07 AM
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19--
i'm old enough to remember that it actually was a bfd when woody allen showed up at a black tie event (opera vel sim.) in requisite clothing but shod in sneakers.

and yes, he was displaying cultural capital, i.e. the fact that he had a certain license to epater.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:08 AM
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I have a great idea. Let's discuss how to dress at the opera.

I actually went to the opera last night dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and a blazer. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem (the DC opera is rather casual), but I hadn't realized that this was the big fancy opening night gala performance (I got last minute discounted tickets). Half the guys there were in tuxes. I think I was literally the most underdressed person in the place. How very embarrassing.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:12 AM
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18: I intend to try to get rush tickets for. I'll let you know.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:13 AM
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Successful crack hos dress well, whereas unsuccessful ones dress poorly. I thought everyone knew that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:15 AM
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25--
john, you're being vulgar again.
old money don't care if they are successful or not; the question is whether they come from a long line of crack hos or not.
did they come over on the mayflower, turning tricks for rocks?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:18 AM
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I knew a guy who married a crack whore. He thought she was reformed, but turns out...


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:24 AM
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"One of my ancestors came over on the Mayflower, but without extensive genetic testing we'll never be quite sure what his name was."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:26 AM
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Too bad it costs $5.

You can get it for free here.


Posted by: cdm | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:26 AM
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Yeah, I can see some of that explained by defensiveness.

I was thinking that I could see some of it based on socialized behavior based on a community's rational expectations. If you're at the income floor, with little reason to believe you can move up from that floor, buying lottery tickets makes much more sense. That can behavior seems rational, even if a rationale is never made explicit. And that behavior can be passed on.

My suspicion is that most of our behavior is significantly influenced by peer group throughout our lives. It will be interesting to me to see if this result holds in thirty years.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:27 AM
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Oh, god, it's going to be seventeen thousand comments over at Sullivan's on a variation of theme, "This proves that all those blacks are lazy and too into bling and hippity hop and they shouldn't take my tax money to service those welfare queens in their Lexuses, but I'm not racist because I haven't actually said nigger."

On the assumption the paper's statistics are accurate, a couple thoughts. I want to know, not the percentage of income, but how many dollars we're talking on average per household or whatever.

And here is why. I'm using B as an example because of her really brave series of posts on her income. You had a ton of people arguing that the $10 a month Netflix fee should be axed on the grounds, somehow, that this was keeping her from having a down payment. I, dsquared, and a few others pointed out that that bit of excess spending money wasn't keeping B from owning a house. The problem was just the housing costs and nothing that wasn't drastic was going to do much more than nickel and dime for an extra $1000 a year.

So imagine now that you're poor, and the thing is, everyone around you is poor (aren't more poor whites rural or suburban and more poor blacks all clustered in districts of cities?). And you spend $50 a month getting your nails done. As a percentage of your income, it's pretty high, because you know, you're poor. It's not like the cost of luxury goods is on a sliding scale. But socking it away over a year wouldn't mean you'd get to send your kids to private school or college or move into a nicer area. And while it would be good to sock it away, maybe, if it's not going to make much of a practical difference to your life, but at least you can do is look a little nicer.



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:30 AM
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Chavs are quite funny. So is Tony Blair:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sluVp4oknJw&mode=related&search=


Posted by: Rich | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:30 AM
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Oh for fuck's sake. From the longer abstract at the top of the paper:

We then demonstrate that controlling for the average income of the reference social group eliminates most of the conspicuous consumption differences across races: Blacks spend more on visible goods because their local communities are on average poorer than those of similar Whites.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:38 AM
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Cala, screw you, my nails look great.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:39 AM
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So imagine now that you're poor, and the thing is, everyone around you is poor (aren't more poor whites rural or suburban and more poor blacks all clustered in districts of cities?).

You know, that brings up a cost-of-living effect that I wonder if people control for. If the rural urban split is real (which I'd guess it is, I'm just not looking at numbers), then poor whites are likelier to live in areas with a low cost of living than poor members of minority groups, particularly in relation to housing. Saving for a house, in Elgin ND, is a practical endeavor for someone working a minimum wage job; not so much for someone in the Bronx.

Similarly with cars -- they're not being counted as conspicuous consumption in the study, I don't think. My broke, rural relatives have a hell of a lot of cars, and spend less on other stuff because of car-related expenses. If they were that poor and living in the Bronx, they just wouldn't have cars at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:39 AM
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I'm reading the paper now. The introduction is pretty unobjectionable. Their argument seems to be that your status is judged based on a) your visible consumption, and b) the average wealth of the group you are a member of. So if you are black, you have to work harder to prove that you are not poor. They emphasize that their hypothesized mechanism is not race, or cultural differences. The difference is solely that race can be used as a class marker.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:39 AM
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They exclude North Dakota from the sample, John.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:42 AM
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33: Huh. That makes this: We demonstrate that these differences exist among virtually all sub-populations,

really poorly phrased, then, doesn't it, as the difference doesn't exist among sub-populations matched by income of reference population.

Really makes you think that social scientists need to do focus-grouping or something on their abstracts -- hand them out before publication, and see what people think they mean, and edit until they don't confuse people anymore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:43 AM
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I was told long ago that the first thing Quebecois do if they get a little money is buy snappy clothes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:46 AM
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I was told long ago that the first thing Quebecois do if they get a little money is buy snappy clothes.

If they have any left over, they buy books and food.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:48 AM
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I just had a decent conversation about this the other day. I think comity was reached around something like: minorities do not have access* to the more subtle cultural indicators that whites can use to flaunt their wealth, and so they do it in other, "visible" ways.

* The point we had to ignore to achieve comity was whether minorities truly didn't have access to these cultural indicators, or whether they avoid them so as not to "act white."


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:50 AM
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They rerun their tests with controls for housing expenditure and city size, which should control for a rural/urban effect.

Also, an important point which I'm sure the racists at Sullivan's site are too dumb to pick up: if you don't control for income, the effect goes away. The average black or Hispanic person spends less on conspicuous consumption than the average white person. It's only when you control for income that their effect appears.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:52 AM
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31--
if you mean 'the daily dish', then sullivan doesn't have a comments thread (though you can email him stuff and he may post it. he has posted about a half-dozen of my letters to him over the years.)

33--
so it looks like the entire race-baiting angle is just a wild goose chase? it's nearly all an income-effect?

jesus--sully should never be allowed anywhere near a sociology study, a study that involves numbers, or a study that involves race.

go back to protesting torture, andy--you did some good there, anyhow.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:54 AM
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I don't think "visible consumption" is the only status marker--education can absolutely be a status marker, & while it's not visible walking down the street it sure as hell is when you apply for jobs. It's more like, at income X, status is most efficiently purchased by spending a couple hundred bucks on nice clothes & a good haircut, whereas at income 30X, you've got a perfectly decent wardrobe etc. already--you're going to get much more bang for your buck with an Ivy League diploma instead of a collection of Armani suits & Tiffany jewelry.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:04 PM
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I was told long ago that the first thing Quebecois do if they get a little money is buy snappy clothes.

Well, duh.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:04 PM
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So the paper reads a long the lines of: "a) Poor people conspicuously consume. b)Black people are poor. c)Black people conspicuously consume" ? What a waste of time.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:08 PM
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Oddly, Celine Dion doesn't seem to. A veritable paradox.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:09 PM
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No, as I understand it (and I have only skimmed the paper very quickly), the result is not being driven by an income effect. The authors begin by claiming an empirical fact certain subgroups engage in more conspicuous consumption than others. A possible explanation of this fact is that (a) individuals use conspicuous consumption to signal their status; (b) if your reference group (=race) is poor, then it is more important to use this signal, so controlling for individual income, people from poorer groups engage in more conspicuous consumption. Thus differences across races need not be due to cultural difference; they are explained by differences in the average income of the reference group.


Posted by: cdm | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:09 PM
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Katherine, they control for educational differences, and they do not have an effect. Anyway, your posited effect would show up in income anyway, since it affects your ability to get a job.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:10 PM
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Right, this:

So the paper reads a long the lines of: "a) Poor people conspicuously consume. b)Black people are poor. c)Black people conspicuously consume" ?

Should read

So the paper reads along the lines of: "a) People who live in poor communities conspicuously consume (proportionately more than people who don't). b)Black people live in poor communities (proportionately more than white people). c)Black people conspicuously consume" ?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:12 PM
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46 is completely wrong.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:12 PM
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No, no, no! Poor people conspicuously consume less than middle class people or rich people!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:13 PM
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How's 50, or have I missed something?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:13 PM
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Isn't 50a saying that poor people conspicuously consume more? Actually, I just looked at the paper some more, and now I'm confused as to what they're saying on that point.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:19 PM
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What I meant to say in 50(a) is that if you control for income, person A who lives in a poor community (where he's average to affluent for his community) will conspicuously consume more than person B who lives in a non-poor community (where despite having the same absolute income as person A, he is comparatively much poorer). I don't know that the word 'proportionately' did all the work I meant it to do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:22 PM
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too lazy to read the thing myself, but if i get 33 + 48 right, the story goes like this:

the behavior of an individual at an income level is partly explained by their own income level, but also by the average income level of the "reference group" (=racial category) that they belong to.

so if i'm doing pretty well myself, but i'm from a poor race, then as a result i will buy more flashy crap than i would if i made the same income but came from a wealthy race.

but...as 33 says, the determinant factor doesn't seem to be race per se, but rather the average income of all members of that race (in the u.s.?), since if you shifted the numbers around so as to ask 'what would happen if average black income and average white income were the same?', then the difference in consumption of flashy consumables disappears, too.

so it's not a first-order income effect, i.e. the inter-racial differences are not simply due to differences in income, individual by individual, but it may be a group-mediated income-effect, in that if we could level out the average income of the groups as a whle, then the differences would disappear.

zat right? which i understood what the group-level controlling looks like. i.e., how do you model the counter-factual 'if the average income of blacks and whites was the same, then...."?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:23 PM
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sorry--final line of 56 should read "wish i understood etc."
yglesias disease.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:25 PM
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I thought the study was saying that spending varied within the sub-populations thelselves, in ways partly predictable by race--not just between one community and another.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:25 PM
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46 - So the paper reads a long the lines of: "a) Poor people conspicuously consume. b)Black people are poor. c)Black people conspicuously consume" ? What a waste of time.

So what I am saying is that this is not what the paper is saying. Indeed their starting observation that there are differences across races is only visible after they have controlled for income.

54 - They're saying (I think) that poor people conspicuously consume less, which is not surprising because they spend less. Then, after you control for income, different groups have different levels of conspicuous consumption.

However, I am becoming very aware that I should not say too much unless I'm really willing to read the paper carefully, and given that it's 2:30 am here, I'm not going to do that now.


Posted by: cdm | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:25 PM
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you spend $50 a month getting your nails done. As a percentage of your income, it's pretty high, because you know, you're poor. It's not like the cost of luxury goods is on a sliding scale. But socking it away over a year wouldn't mean you'd get to send your kids to private school or college or move into a nicer area.

That $600/year put into a savings account with about a 5% return will become about $20,000 in 18 years. Not taking a position here, at all, just noting. My only thought is that perhaps a good nonpofit cause would be to educate people about compound interest.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:26 PM
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I haven't read this thread, as I'm working, but I just wanted to share that my very poor white cousins in Okla. spend outrageous amounts (which they borrow, steal, and beg for) on cars, shoes, and (not kidding) golf equipment. Every time I visit, their mother reminds me that someday soon I'll have a serious PhD's income, and that those boys need money to help start their careers as (1) a pro golfer, and (2) a Chris/tian ra/p ar/tist.

And their favorite activity? Bitching about blacks with bling and escalades, especially the ones who are banking it all on impossible sports and music stardom.

God, I hate my family.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:26 PM
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56: Is that different somehow from #6, or distinguished from #30?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:27 PM
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Yeah, the definition of 'reference community' in the paper is racial:

The basic idea is that visible consumption should be declining as the income of one's reference group goes up. We treat those of one's own race, living in the state, as the relevant reference group.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:28 PM
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(In particular I'm passing no judgment right now on whether the research is good or not; I'm just trying to understand the authors' claims.)


Posted by: cdm | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:29 PM
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55 might be right. They look at individual states, and they find that in states where your social group is richer, you conspicuously consume less.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:29 PM
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to follow up on 60, I remember reading about a community group that did just that, more or less-- they encouraged people to put even small amounts of money in savings. The point wasn't so much to leave it alone for 20 years, but to build up enough money so that emergency expenses (the example I remember was airfare to a relative's funeral) wouldn't come with outrageous credit-card interest. Having a few months' expenses in the bank can be really profitable if it saves you from catastrophe.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:30 PM
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" into a savings account with about a 5% return "

A savings account with a 5% return?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:30 PM
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That $600/year put into a savings account with about a 5% return will become about $20,000 in 18 years. Not taking a position here, at all, just noting.

I hate to be depressing about things, but $20,000 in 18 years would disappear into the maw of a college education with no benefit whatsoever. It would be a down payment on a house; probably not much use for private school, given the time frame (that is, if you're saving now, your kids are probably going to be out of school in 18 years.)

A financial plan that turns current hardship into $20K eighteen years down the road doesn't sound like one that's worth all that much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:32 PM
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62--
yeah, my speculations in 56 are consistent with your speculations in 6 & 30.

it's just that you said it a lot more concisely.
threads don't like that, scmt.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:32 PM
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One thing to note here is that the various groups who spend money on bling (AWBs cousins, blacks, Quebecois) do make contributions to entertainment and culture that stodgier Lutheran types don't.

Around here, even though it's a pretty poor area, there's a general rejection of bling, pizazz, funk, and all other forms of excitement and fun except for beer and scratchoffs. On the other hand, I have come to believe that depression is regarded as normal or laudable here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:33 PM
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But of course 66 does make a good point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:33 PM
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68: The childless aunt of a friend religiously saved quite a considerable chunk for her niece's education. Unfortunately she put it in the niece's name instead of holding it until needed, and it was deducted from her financial need. A really horrible story.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:35 PM
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Brock's got the same story, although I think in his case it was his parents.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:37 PM
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62--
also--
your 6 & 30 came before fl's 33, which at first seemed to change the landscape considerably. before the import of the weasel phrase "reference social group" became clear, it looked like the quote in 33 said that controlling for income made the difference disappear.

i always try to use a bit more prolixity to justify my earlier prolixity.

i am prolix. i stand outside abortion clinics with a banner that reads "choose lix!"


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:37 PM
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20 -- You might want to talk to someone about non-verbal signals.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:41 PM
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I totally want a baggy track suit

... if J. Press makes one in pinstripes.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:45 PM
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And pleats, slol.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:46 PM
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someday soon I'll have a serious PhD's income

*boggle*


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:50 PM
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"J. Press" s/b "Hickey Freeman"


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:51 PM
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"J. Press" s/b "Hickey Freeman"

Yeah, sorry. Especially if you want pleats.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:53 PM
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78: Well, they see that I'm doing fine on 20K/year, so if I make, say, 45K as an Asst. Prof., that's 15K/year I could hand over to them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 12:59 PM
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RMP stats:

65% of FL's raters add a hotness pepper.
23% of Slol's do.

Once again it's on, flat-front boy.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:02 PM
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81: Now you can tell them it all has to go to conspicuous consumption to confirm newly-elevated social status.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:03 PM
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82: Nothing like blogging those counterintuitive statistical results. Perhaps explainable by virtue of the reference population of faculty at your respective schools?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:05 PM
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I'd be curious to see the gender breakdown on the students giving Labs and Slol chili peppers.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:10 PM
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From the comments I gather that Slol's students are too busy writing down the pearls of wisdom to actually see what he looks like.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:10 PM
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87

Slol's 4/24/07 rating is the best ever.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:14 PM
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75: Yeah, I totally should have stared down the swans in the marble fountain in the lobby.

(Okay, I'm exaggerating. A little.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:15 PM
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89

wait, there's a site that ranks professors' hotness in chili peppers?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:17 PM
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90

Rate My Professors


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:18 PM
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91

Yeah, it's just easier for men to differentiate. Everyone in the room in a jacket and tie is a lawyer.

This is bogus from a fashion perspective, but dull, mannish suits help; a suit with a menswear-kinda jacket looks normal on a lawyer, less likely on someone with a staff job. I hate the status implications of that (the more feminine your clothes, the lower your status!) but I think it helps.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:19 PM
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92

Damn it, my husband's not listed.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:19 PM
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93

Is everyone just cribbing Onion articles into their research grant applications these days? Geez.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:22 PM
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90: Also counterintuitively, Labs' average 'easiness' is quite low.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:23 PM
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95

Zing! LB, you're on fire today.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:24 PM
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87: On the way to meet slol for the first time, one of his graduate students warned me not to be put off by how much snappier he'd be dressed than me or anyone else ...

... and I'm still 15% hotter than him. (Though admittedly 27% less hot than FL. It's the height, I tell you, the height.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:26 PM
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I felt so much wealthier when I lived in Quebec, though I was much poorer. Window dressing was completely different there; the intent seemed to be to make the street more beautiful for everyone and to celebrate and have fun. When I moved to Toronto all the shop windows seemed to say, "Look at this, you can't afford this. It's not for you."


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:28 PM
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It's the brief-writing related despair.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:28 PM
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91: yep, there's a correlation with a more fitted summer-type suit. If it gets hot enough I cease to care, though.

My husband's not on that site & one of his RA's is.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:30 PM
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100

Katherine, you could add him, but that's cheating.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:32 PM
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Yeah, I don't think he'd appreciate that.

Comments: "Excellent lay."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:34 PM
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I used to get lots of chili peppers on RMP. I'm trying to figure out what changed, and I guess it's that I'm now teaching classes that rarely have boys or out lesbians in them, or maybe it's that we talk about sex so explicitly in class that I cultivate a very unsexy persona in order to do so. Plus, I'm old now. Boo.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:36 PM
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no, totally add him. it might make his day some time (provided he doesn't know it's you.)
i get no ratings of any kind--don't seem to exist. strange, since i had thought that being hateful would be sufficient to get rated.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:38 PM
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question:
do black and hispanic profs get more chili peppers (controlling for income) than white profs do?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:40 PM
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102: Oddly, you've got one rater who speaks appreciatively of your physical appeal, and still doesn't give you a chili pepper. Weird.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:41 PM
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There's a fundamental misunderstanding here about how conspicuous consumption needs to be to be Conspicuous Consumption. We're all assuming (with the paper's authors) it needs to be blazingly obvious to even the most oblivious member of the public: clothes, cars, jewels. But that's not the case. Going to Tanglewood to be seen by half a dozen acquaintances who will tell their friends they saw you at Tanglewood is just as much conspicuous consumption as dressing sharp.

Different cultures conspicuously consume differently -- duh!

There's no real need to drag out socioeconomic explanations for the differences. Matt F. notes, quite rightly, that the Washington Opera audience is, in general, casually dressed. You can see dinner jackets and decollete, but they aren't the rule. The Baltimore Opera audience, on the other hand, is much dressier. You really want to push for a socioeconomic explanation?


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:45 PM
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Unfortunately she put it in the niece's name instead of holding it until needed, and it was deducted from her financial need.

You know what's really annoying? People who have a bit of money that they want to transfer to the next generation, but who are too cheap to go to a lawyer and get a trust drawn up. So they open up UGMA or UTMA accounts, not recognizing that little Grayson or Saoirse is going to be legally entitled to that money when they're somewhere between 18 and 21, depending on the state, and so if Grampa and Nana don't want to see it all blown on iPods or the drugs, they have to unethically and illegally hide the money from the beneficiary of the custodial account, necessitating a huge headache and lots of yelling for back office financial industry employees. Lousy rich people.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:48 PM
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105: Yeah, that was my gay male friend who was drunk at Thanksgiving, making salacious RMP comments about everyone at the party.

Wow, I hadn't looked in a while (we're discouraged from doing so by the administration). Some people totally hate my guts! I'm kind of fine with that, really. I think what happens is that, when you have a class that's really emotionally caught up in the material and excited about it, and there are one or two who don't get why everyone else is having such a fabulous time, they get really angry and hostile about it, even when I'm totally fair to them, which they all admit, even on RMP. They know I don't play favorites, but I don't get credit for it. They act like they "beat" me somehow by getting a good grade despite hating me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:48 PM
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107: I have had conversations along these lines with people I know (who really should know better).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 1:50 PM
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107: Saoirse?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 2:06 PM
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111

107: As in Saoirse?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 2:43 PM
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112

Cala's obviously right, as are the points about income across subgroups--another thing that it doesn't sound like the study took into account (perhaps indirectly) is the question of generational poverty. If my folks were working class in the 60s and made a respectable, if low, amount of money, and I'm working class now and make the same amount more or less but it doesn't go nearly as far, I'm poor--but I may have certain things (furniture, say) that I've inherited, along with the idea that hard work + savings might help me be respectable again someday. If my folks were migrant laborers, or my mom was a housekeeper, in the 60s, and their folks were farmworkers and housekeepers as well, for as far back as I can remember, then I'm less likely to have inherited any kind of movable goods and much less likely to buy into the idea that hard work + savings gets you anywhere at all.

Re. the "if you save for 18 years you'll have $20k"--sure, assuming no one in your family gets sick, there are no emergencies like an eviction or a broke-down car, etc. Unlikely. Might as well have the damn manicure.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 3:18 PM
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Plus what AWB's saying: if everyone in your family is poor, and you manage to save even a tiny bit, you're going to come under an enormous amount of pressure to help the rest of your family. Sure, you can be an asshole and say "no, that's my savings, I want to be able to buy a house in twenty years," but the cost of doing that is going to be an awful lot of resentment and possible isolation from your family and friends. High price to pay.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 3:21 PM
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Slol's hotness is far too refined for your average undergraduate. SEK and Labs are just trashier and more obvious, is all.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 3:22 PM
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But he does really need to get over himself, it's true.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 3:28 PM
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81, 113: Yeah, I think this is a huge and underappreciated effect. The economic value of having family that are uniformly self-supporting and don't need to be bailed out is incalculable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 3:29 PM
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I feel like I saw a study recently that worked on quantifying the effect in 113, but I'm not sure where. I need a "search every web page I've visited in the last month" button.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 3:48 PM
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118

I knew using the word 'incalculable' was a mistake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 3:53 PM
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The cost of having a family of shiftless leeches is 17.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 4:03 PM
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120

The value of having a caring family willing to help you is infinite.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 4:04 PM
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Everything's relative.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 4:04 PM
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Every relative is a thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 4:07 PM
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117: It's called "Google Desktop Search."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 4:08 PM
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I hate to be depressing about things, but $20,000 in 18 years would disappear into the maw of a college education with no benefit whatsoever. It would be a down payment on a house; probably not much use for private school, given the time frame (that is, if you're saving now, your kids are probably going to be out of school in 18 years.)

The first statement is hyperbole. $20,000 less debt is $20,000 less debt. A down payment on a house or condo or whatever would be a nice deal. And yeah, wasn't thinking about privtse school, but college, given the 18 year time frame. (It would be $26,000 if you held it till 22, when the kid was out of college). (and $45,000 if you picked a good fund that averaged a return of 9% a year.)*

Still, not a lot of money, and assuming it doesn't get eaten by something else.** I'm not making any recommendations. But the larger point is that this is one of the almost-sureways of developping some money. It takes a lot of time, but it's worth mentioning that savings is a possible route to grow your descendents out of poverty. Saving and sacrificing is hard, and, true, a lot of people get lucky and don't have to do it. But I wouldn't knee-jerk dismiss the idea.

*I feel like such a dork when I talk about that stuff.
** although one could point out that you'd still be better off, having saved in the first place, rather than not. esp., as Labs noted, if it keeps you out of debt, which is expensive.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 4:59 PM
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The first statement is hyperbole. $20,000 less debt is $20,000 less debt.

I was thinking of the 'reducing need' problem -- only one-for-one if the money's in the kid's name, but even an increase in the parents' assets will reduce the 'need' you can get financial aid for.

But more broadly, I'm just having a hard time picturing a situation where $20K would make a significant difference in your options going forward -- allowing a different neighborhood, or different educational opportunities, or something. It's not impossible -- say, someone wanting to buy a house, and having the income to swing the mortgage but no downpayment, but I'd think for most people that kind of money would be money that would be very nice to spend, but not enough to change your life.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 5:10 PM
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Although in Elgin ND, you could buy three houses for that much. So I may simply not be thinking clearly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 5:22 PM
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if everyone in your family is poor, and you manage to save even a tiny bit, you're going to come under an enormous amount of pressure to help the rest of your family

I have a friend who is constantly dealing with that issue in their relationship with their family (most recently, the family had a water heater break, and didn't have the money to fix it) -- obviously very stressful.

In the realm of anecdote, I will mention this story from The Gift, and that there were some good comments on this McMegan post -- for example a reference to this article


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 5:24 PM
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I read this thread backwards and it took a long time to realize "RMP" didn't mean "Robust McManlyPants". It started out with comment #105, and I was wondering if AWB had made a discretion error in outing Robust McManlyPants as her gay male friend who was drunk at Thanksgiving.

So anyway, I'm glad someone pointed out that it's impossible for one poor person to save money. A family can band together, but if all members of a family need money, one member who gets some money cannot keep it to himself.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 5:26 PM
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(and $45,000 if you picked a good fund that averaged a return of 9% a year.)*

That's assuming civilization doesn't crumble, an event I expect to occur any time now that I have a 401(k).


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 6:00 PM
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You too? It's amazing how much I dislike having money invested in equities I don't control. I would be ever so much happier owning X% of an apartment building somewhere that I could go kick. Or gold coins under my mattress.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 6:05 PM
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Yes, gold coins. In an enormous room, so I can push them around with a bulldozer like Scrooge McDuck.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 6:12 PM
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65% of FL's raters add a hotness pepper.
23% of Slol's do.
Once again it's on, flat-front boy.

Weak, Hickey. Of course, everyone followed your lead, didn't they?

Suppose, hypothetically, that Slol has an 11 hotness raring, and Labs has a 7 hotness rating. Does this mean you can determine percentage hotness by dividing by the total number of raters?

No, because of the way hotness is calculated:

The chili pepper is based on the SUM of the "hot" and "not hot" votes, where hot is +1 and not hot is -1. A chili pepper only shows up if the sum is positive. If the sum is zero or negative, no chili pepper is displayed. In addition, we display negative sums as zero, because we're nice guys. :)

So what it (hypothetically) means is, 11 more of Slol's raters thought he was hot than not, while 7 more of FL's raters thought he was hot than not. FL's conclusion is not warranted.

Also, you should quit rating Labs hot, Ben. Once was enough.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 6:27 PM
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131:Scrooge McDuck? An excuse to troll. Hey, first comment in days, and I have read everything. But Stirling Newberry was inspired by the Randite's autobiography, and is the only fucking honest intelligent economic commenter out there (Hi Brad!).

Can We Talk Greenspanism ...Just chock-full of brilliance. and helps explain why I want a revolution.

"In game theory we have what is called "rollback". Rollback is when you start from the end state and work backwards through the steps that got you there, because what you are looking for is the point on the chain where a change could be made to the dead variables that will change the outcome. If you know that rich and powerful people are going to place big bets on the eat babies case being the downside, then you have to do something about that. Otherwise they will keep doing it until it happens. And then they will do it again, because you just bailed them out from eating babies, so they are going to double up the bet that you will do it again." ...SN

That insight alone is worth the price of admission. 1st law of economic history & politics: the rich will eat babies (or force you to eat your own) or leverage that worst-case scenario (war or depression) if you don't pay them off or kill them. They can afford the gamble.

There is a lot more.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 6:31 PM
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Happily I have avoided acquiring a RMP rating of any kind.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 6:31 PM
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Oh, and what the MY's of the IR world don't seem to undestand is that leveraging war & depression & revolution have always been the conspicuous consumption of the rich. When you have your needs and security met, you gamble. Increasing inequality is not a good thing.

To wave hands at the topic.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 6:39 PM
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"Good night to Greenspanism, that belief that by back room intransparent manipulation of the system that the great dictatorship of the propertariat can be brought about. Because that is what Libertarianism really is, that there is a revolutionary class, and that in the end the struggles of capitalism must bring about the dictatorship of that revolutionary class, and then government will wither away. They just think it is a different group of people who have the revolutionary consciousness to never betray the interests of the structure. They are wrong, as well. " ...SN

Greenspan became a fucking revolutionary in the 50s, an open ardent revolutionary, more radical than Norquist or anyone. He had major influence on policy for forty years (the volunteer army) and his actual hands on the levers of power for thirty years. AFAIK, he never renounced his Randism.

And at the moment when there is a chance to assess the career of Greenspan, this revolutionary genius, the guy I consider the most important actor of the 2nd half of the 20th century, what do I get out of DeLong & Thoma et al? Trivial bullshit and distractions, war for oil and ill-advised testimony and which pres was smarter.

Useless fucking liberals.

Trolling over.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 7:14 PM
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can I tell you guys something hideously embarrassing? I actually and for trues feel irritated that tasteless nouveau riche types are wearing expensive jewelry etc. to the maidstone club in EH. diamonds during the day! gel-tip nails! wtf? I want to lie down for a while and sit up when everyone has papagallo flats and lily pulitzer sundresses on, the way god intended. maybe a tasteful, chalky-thick coral pedicure such as my great-aunt sports. and these stupid big houses! like cape cods on steroids, these tedious, be-shingled things loom out through the trees. wretches. I realize that this means I am a bad person. it's not even that I think all those old-timey social register types are better than anybody, but they have a distinctive mode of living, and I want them to remain what they are even if I never go there.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 09-17-07 12:42 AM
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Snotty Jay Gould old money.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-17-07 4:40 AM
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137: The NRs must be sneaking into the club with fake IDs. It's like Bella Fleece Gave a Party.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-17-07 6:13 AM
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Saving and sacrificing is hard, and, true, a lot of people get lucky and don't have to do it. But I wouldn't knee-jerk dismiss the idea.

Not dismissing it. Let me come down on the side of the pennypinching and thrifty. Just trying to explain that whatever benefits might come from saving, assuming that the money makes it into the savings account, are long-term benefits, and aren't likely to be readily to mind to someone who isn't already in or at least around wealth.

It's easy to plan for 20 years out when you know people who have done things twenty years out, and you have an idea of what the next twenty years will be like if you save and you like that idea. But I'm not sure that a $20K downpayment would get you far if you were bouncing between minimum wage jobs and public assistance, or that it would help much to send your kid to college if you couldn't get him out of his current schools.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-17-07 8:24 AM
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I'm just having a hard time picturing a situation where $20K would make a significant difference in your options going forward

one scenario: suppose you live in a state such as Louisiana where you can get the state to pay your tuition, but you still have to support yourself. $20k would be the difference between needing a full time job or a part time job, which some might think is significant. (also, in LA, you lose that scholarship if you fall below 12 hours per semester)

Anyway, it's all a caclulation based upon your own view of reward and benefit, and your own optimism or pessimism.

aren't likely to be readily to mind to someone who isn't already in or at least around wealth.

Yeah, I see this as sort of the crux of the matter. I mentioned that this (education) would be a good cause for a non-profit, and it seems to me the argument is about whether or not it would be a worthwhile endeavor.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-17-07 9:03 AM
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