Thursday, April 7, 2022

Thursday Links

  • Lockdowns and mass testing and contact tracing and masking are all Asian (primarily Chinese) policies, adopted en masse and with little forethought by western countries in Spring 2020. Our public health mandarins set aside their own planning and opted for Chinese mass containment instead, because they noticed the virus was not very deadly in Asia, and they assumed this was because whatever it was the Asians were doing was the thing to do. Mass containment is a worldwide delusional rain dance: Everyone hops about trying to coax water out of the heavens, copying whatever dance was current in the first place it started to rain. [eugyppius]
  • Mr. Musk agrees that, for so long as Mr. Musk is serving on the Board and for 90 days thereafter, Mr. Musk will not, either alone or as a member of a group, become the beneficial owner of more than 14.9% of Company’s common stock outstanding at such time, including for these purposes economic exposure through derivative securities, swaps or hedging transactions. [TWTR]
  • Humans have been using tobacco for longer than civilizations have existed. Every Indian tribe was using it when Europeans made contact with the Americas (the ones who could not grow it because of climate traded for it), and tobacco was a sensation everywhere that Europeans took it. This universality surpasses other widely-desired but not quite ubiquitous intoxicants like ethanol and cannabis. As a novel substance with psychoactive effects, it was also controversial everywhere it went, leading to moral panics and futile attempts at prohibition. In the past, tobacco tended to be smoked out of a pipe, as a whole-leaf wrap (cigar), insufflated (snuff), or chewed. Cigarettes as a form of nicotine delivery are only about a century old. They turned out to be quite harmful, which seems to stem from both the mode of delivery (combustion products inhaled into lungs) and also the dosage. Two packs of cigarettes - 40 cigarettes - worth of smoke entering the lungs every day is something very different than a daily pipe or cigar ("slow tobacco"). As the news about cigarettes and disease slowly diffused during the past sixty years, people gradually quit smoking and fewer younger people started. Everyone can see the blue line in the chart below falling, and naive extrapolation would tell us that cigarette use will be at zero soon. (Although at a pace of 2-3% annual decline, the cigarette businesses that currently trade for 10x earnings would have 74% of the current revenue in a decade.) [CBS]
  • If interest rates on U.S. government bonds ever rise - and I believe that that would happen automatically if a substitute currency or store of value superior to the U.S. dollar emerged - then the regulatory hazard will be obviated because there simply will not be the money to bother bakers about their flour bin latches. This extralegal state within a state is - just like the asset bubble, junk bonds, private equity - simply a creature of ultra-low interest rates. [CBS]
  • The reality is that the yuan has all the negative elements of fiat currencies—massive printing, lack of real support, central bank incentive to erode purchasing power—and none of the benefits of the dollar, the euro, and the pound—the free-floating pricing, legal and investor security, and an open financial system. [Mises]
  • While I have my disagreements with @MysteryGrove, he is right that living in a politically sympaethic local jurisdiction is important. Thus I'm going to come up with a list of large metropolitan areas that are fine to live in. They can be at most D+5 or so in Partisanship. The largest by far is Dallas-Fort-Worth-Arlington. Its about R+3 in PVI compared to the nation and whats funny is that white suburbanites and professionals are trending blue while hispanics in the area are trending republican. The second is greater Houston, which in 2020, compared to the nation as a whole, voted R+3. In Houston, hispanic and white collar trends are even more drastic. It barely changed overall in 2020 compared to 2016 and Harris County itself isn't nearly as blue(D+9 PVI) as Dallas, Travis or Bexas. I'm going to ignore the Atlanta metro because its basically gone for us. Even in 2012 a great deal of the area trended left vs 2008. That being said, the Miami Dade metro is a silver lining of 2020. Due to trends in certain areas, I'd say Miami is a future GOP stronghold. The next one, in order of population is the Phoenix metro. I wouldn't ever want to live there due to the heat but Arizona, unlike GA or Colorado, seems like a state that we can turn the tide in. I think it might just be the next north carolina. After that we have one of the only metros in California I'd even tolerate. That is the inland empire. It has about 2M people but its still a lean blue area. Riverside and San Bernadino, assuming trends in the hispanic areas continue, could be politically tolerable in 10 years. After that, we have Macomb County MI. Its a former GOP stronghold that fell out of favor with the republicans until Trump ran and now its a solid R county. It has about 900,000 people and voted for trump by about near or at double digits. We also have the Tampa, Clearwater, St Peterburg Metro. Its the definitive swing area. Pinellas County can't seem to decide which party it wants to support, going on and off every election cycle since 2012. After that we have the suburbs of greater orlando, in places like Seminole and Lake County. After that we have the Pittsburgh metro(although you should avoid Allegheny county like the plague if you're worried about corrupt judiciary. The final big iconic metro that might be in our column in the future is the Vegas metro. Its only 4-5 points bluer than the nation as a whole and the Democratic Party of Nevada is collapsing ever since the DSA took it over. The mayor of North Las Vegas switched parties too. [link]

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