Tag Archives: politics

2016 Predictions

How confident should we be? People tend to be overconfident.  One way to figure out if our confidence levels are correct is to test our calibration levels by making predictions and seeing how many of them pan out. Inspired by Slate Star Codex’s predictions, here are my predictions and accompanying confidence levels. For the sake of convenience I will choose from confidence levels of 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95% or 99%. All predictions are by December 31, 2016 unless noted otherwise.

World Events

  1. Liberland will be recognized by <5 UN members: 99%
  2. Free State Project to reach goal of 20,000 people in 2016: 50%
  3. ISIS to still exist: 80%
  4. ISIS to kill < 100 Americans 2016: 80%
  5. US will not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 100 US soldiers: 80%
  6. No terrorist attack in the USA will kill > 100 people: 80%
  7. Donald Trump will not be Republican Nominee: 80%
  8. Hillary Clinton to be Democratic nominee: 90%
  9. Republicans to hold Senate: 60%
  10. Republicans to hold House: 80%
  11. Republicans to win Presidential Election: 50%
  12. I will vote for the Libertarian Presidential Candidate: 70%
  13. S&P 500 level end of year < 2500: 70%
  14. Unemployment rate December 2016 < 6% : 70%
  15. WTI Crude Oil price < $50 : 80%
  16. Price of Bitcoin > $500:  60%
  17. Price of Bitcoin < $1000: 80%
  18. Sentient General AI will not be created this year: 99%
  19. Self-driving cars will not be available this year to purchase / legally operate for < $100k: 99%
  20. I will not be able to rent trips on self-driving cars from Uber/ Lyft: 90%
  21. Humans will not land on moon by end of 2016: 95%
  22. Edward Snowden will not be pardoned by end of Obama Administration: 80%

Personal

  1. Employed in current job:  90%
  2. I will have less than 300 Twitter followers: 60%
  3. I will have authored > 12 more blog posts by June 30, 2016:  50%
  4. michaelelgart.com to have >4,000 page loads 2016: 50%
  5. These predictions are underconfident: 70%

Sports

  1. Miami Heat make playoffs 2016:  80%
  2. Miami Heat will not make Eastern Conference Finals:  90%
  3. Duke basketball wins 1 game or more against UNC: 60%
  4. Duke basketball makes it to Round of 32 in NCAA Tournament: 70%
  5. Duke basketball does not make Final Four: 90%
  6. USA wins Olympic gold medal in basketball: 70%
  7. Kevin Durant will not be highest paid NBA player during 2016-17 season: 70%
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, Gage Skidmore

Why We Should Stop Talking About Trump

I made a pledge not to talk about Donald Trump about a month ago. I felt that he was getting too much media coverage, and since I believed he had no chance to win the nomination, I felt that every person discussing him was to his benefit…and to the detriment of everyone else on Earth. I made that prediction based on a few factors (Nate Silver does a good job talking about them here), mostly that Trump has no campaign infrastructure, no party support, terrible favorability ratings, and early polling is essentially meaningless. Of course, he also doesn’t have any cohesive platform and the ideas he does have are atrocious, but because the conversation about Trump never died down, his terrible ideas have stuck around despite his inevitable campaign collapse. Continue reading

Public Domain Image - White House Photograph Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library.

The Limitations of the Left-Right Spectrum

I.

I came across an article whose thesis is that people with my worldview are gravely mistaken about everything they believe.

How many liberals and progressives have heard this? It’s ridiculously common. Hell, even David Koch of the Koch brothers has said, “I’m a conservative on economic matters and I’m a social liberal.”

And it’s wrong. W-R-O-N-G Wrong.

You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm.

Despite the age of the article (it was published in May), I’m interested in this for a couple reasons. One is that if we take “economically conservative” to be in favor of free markets (not always clear), then “economically conservative and socially liberal” is a good working definition for moderate libertarianism or classical liberalism. Believing libertarianism is just “wrong” is something that needs to be addressed given the large amount of people who identify as such, including myself. I was hoping for a strong critique of libertarianism, but it seems that the author mischaracterizes some libertarian positions. What’s more, if the author’s argument is correct, there are no real political positions outside the Left-Right political spectrum and perhaps none outside the Left at all! This would severely limit political discourse and our creativity in forming policy solutions to society’s challenges. Continue reading

The Idealized Presidential Platform

If you were running for president, what would you run on?

These days there are more presidential candidates than ever, and those candidates like to come up with idealized policy proposals that have no chance of passing to post on their websites and shore up their ideological credentials. I’ve decided to join the ruckus with my own mix of libertarian proposals from fairly obvious to extremely radical. I’m going to be treating these pieces as a first draft of my hypothetical presidential platform with room for growth and change, and I won’t be delving too deeply into any single topic.

The Republican National Convention, held in Philadelphia, June, 1900 – Public Domain Image

Continue reading

New Horizons, Prediction Markets, and other Links

This morning, the New Horizons probe had its closest approach to Pluto.  It’s pretty cool that human ingenuity has gotten to the point where it’s possible to launch a rocket, and then 10 years later get it within a couple thousand miles of a (dwarf) planet orbiting ~6 billion kilometers away from us. But keeping with this blog’s theme, this doesn’t seem very libertarian! Isn’t this a big waste of money and resources for the government to be sending probes to Pluto?  Well, yes, obviously.

 - Public Domain Photo from NASA

This picture of Pluto cost $650M

Continue reading

Primaries and Democratic Reform

The 2016 Presidential Campaign has gotten underway with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Marco Rubio announcing their campaigns to win their respective party nomination.  The Republican field looks to be the more interesting primary until there is an actual challenger to the Hillary Clinton juggernaut, which may never materialize. In addition to the announced Republican candidates, it is likely that at the very least Jeb Bush and Scott Walker will join the race sometime soon (Ohio governor John Kasich is also looking more likely).

Changing the Republican Party...maybe

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0

As a moderate libertarian/neoclassical liberal, I’ve been looking forward to a Rand Paul campaign for some time. Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns were a much needed challenge to the stale rhetoric seen in campaigns for the past 20 years. Finally hearing a Republican who opposed continuous foreign wars and pulverizing civil liberties was refreshing. Of course, Ron Paul’s challenging of traditional Republican ideas did not mean he was a moderate. Uncompromising might be a good euphemism. Exceedingly reactionary might be more appropriate. His ideological purity on most issues meant his campaign could never move very far beyond its own base. Not that I minded! But it would be interesting to see what a more moderate candidate could do. Continue reading

Analyzing the Minimum Wage: The Data

Today, we will look at the vast amount of data and see what conclusions we can draw from them, first looking at more seemingly partisan data on the Right and Left and working up from there (see my previous posts on Rights-based arguments and the importance of empiricism in economics).

The Right

This is one of the meta-analyses of Neumark and Wascher (the economists most cited in opposition to the minimum wage increases).  On page 115 we find the great line: “What is likely most striking to the reader who has managed to wade through our lengthy review is the wide range of estimates of the effects of the minimum wage on employment, especially when compared to the review by Brown et al. in 1982.”  That’s for sure. Continue reading

Analyzing the minimum wage: Rights based arguments are meh

The minimum wage debate has reentered the political stage with special promotion by President Obama, starting with his State of the Union Address this past January.  The political huffing and moral rhetoric surrounding the topic may give the impression that it is a straightforward issue; on one side are the corporate employers who are watching out only for their bottom lines and their profit margins, while on the other stand the working poor who could use a  helping hand from legislators.

As is often the case in politics, the actual issues at hand are far more complex and interesting than the rhetoric would have you believe, and I think debate about the minimum wage misses not only a great deal of understanding of the other side, but also a great deal of research done on this topic.  This series of posts (next and final posts) will construct a thorough picture of the motivations behind the minimum wage through an analysis of both the politics surrounding the minimum wage as well as the extensive economic research done in the past 20 years. Continue reading

Supreme Court confirms states can ban racial factors in school admissions, hiring

This is from a Politico story covering the topic and there are too many good quotes to pass up.

The outcome of the case was not a shock, but the lopsided, 6-2 vote signaled the court’s continuing rightward shift on issues of race.

Over the past week, I’ve tried to expose myself to more areas of the leftist blogosphere, and it is fascinating how often blogs like to accuse the right of racism, rather than talk about actual policy ideas. Continue reading

You are being monitored by your government

Last night, a story broke when The Guardian confirmed that Americans were being subjected to widespread, untargeted spying by the NSA (Glenn Greenwald broke the story for those who don’t know of him).  To quote:

In plain language: the order gave the NSA a record of every Verizon customer’s call history — every call made, the location of the phone, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for the phone and call — from April 25, 2013 (the date the order was issued) to July 19, 2013.  The order does not require content or the name of any subscriber and is issued under 50 USC sec.1861, also known as section 215 of the Patriot Act. Continue reading