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|Thursday, January 19th, 2017|
|Please, Oh Lord, Let Me Be Wrong -- Or Smarter. One of those two.
While contemplating the most recent spectrum auction and the evolution of the industry and policy over the last few years in the shower this morning, I was blinded by a deep insight into the political science problem of licensed v. unlicensed spectrum.
If my theory is correct, the current game is unwinnable from an unlicensed spectrum perspective in the short term (10+ years) because there is an unsolvable collective action problem on the unlicensed side.
Mind you, it is blindingly obvious when stated intuitively, and in retrospect. But it wasn't clear until I actually thought it through in all its particulars why the current strategy of the last 15 years has now run its course and is a dead end.
I need a giant delta-S carved on my tombstone. Damn.
This has nothing to do with the most recent election. That is a transient tactics issue. The broader collective action problem is the one that needs solving.
I should not be too hard on myself. It's not like the last 15 years have been wasted. Nor was the insight possible without empirical data. And I really need to run this by some actual poli-sci game theorists to confirm. I might still be wrong. Or, after my panic settles down, I might get more clever.
Yeah, I'm vague-journaling. Actually, what I'm doing is panicking. Yes, this is what wonk-panic looks like. Because if I'm right, then I need to figure out if there is any realistic way of altering the collective action problem. Otherwise I should give up on spectrum policy and go back to wireline.
|Wednesday, January 18th, 2017|
|Insanely Boring Trade Association Produces Super Rational, Boring Solution For ACA Problems.
The American Academy of Actuaries has now issued a report on: "How Can the ACA Actually Work So That People Have Affordable Insurance and Stuff."http://www.actuary.org/files/publications/Acad_eval_indiv_mkt_011817.pdf
it basically provides a substantive, boring critique of the current ACA (summary: "still not enough people buying enough insurance to be sustainable, based on the general ACA rules about non-discrimination and minimum standards) and comes up with a very boring list of what you would do if you actually wanted to solve the problems and have a working ACA.
Most people will not even hear about this, never mind understand why it is important. But this is likely to be an extremely important document in the behind the scenes debate on "WTF do we do now?" for both Ds and Rs.
|Vox Article On Resegregation Seems Ass Backward
Came across this on Vox which purports to show the resegregation of America.http://www.vox.com/2017/1/18/14296126/white-segregated-suburb-neighborhood-cartoon
The article claims that unlike white flight, where a few African Americans or Latinos moving into a neighborhood prompted white Americans to flee to the suburbs in the 1960s, "resegregation" in the suburbs is occurring more gradually largely based on decisions by individuals when they chose to move. In particular, the article focuses on the fact that white people are more likely to have ideas about black majority neighborhoods (similar to the way Trump keeps thinking they are all like Fort Apache, the Bronx).
But the article is very poorly sourced and seems to be drawing the wrong conclusion. The lead example is Worthington, MN, which went from a population of 9,000 nearly 100% to 12,000 of whome 1/3 are Latino.
What happened was a new meat processing plant opened in Worthington. As a result, Latinos came to work there. They communicated to friends and family looking for work that there was a big meat packing plant expanding. So the town grew.
The changing demographic had nothing to do with white flight, or even white sauntering, and everything to do with the Latino migration practices. Whites living in Worthington still lived there. Indeed, the rate of decrease in the white population overall slowed. True, other whites did not increase their migration along with Latinos, but why should they have? There were particularly things that attracted a new population of Latinos fairly quickly. There was nothing particularly new or interesting to attract non-Latinos, assuming they had even heard of Worthington, to move there.
Nor is the pattern described a particularly novel pattern. It is only novel when compared with demogrtaphic drivers of the 1960s and 1970s.
There is a reason why you can find towns in whatever geographic region we put the Dakotas and MN that are all Swedish, or all German, or all of some other particular white ehtnicity. Migrants tend to go to where there are other, similar migrants. True, this tends to be mostly urban areas -- because that's where the jobs are. This leads to some odd distributions that most people rarely notice, like a comparatively large Somali population in Minneapolis.
The article also fails to cover the most dramatic counter-example of its thesis: gentrification. Anyone in major urban hubs of San Francisco and New York City and DC know that white people are moving like crazy into primarily African American communities because of more affordable housing. This puts pressure on housing prices, which tends to push out the original residents. While creating resegregation, it is not because white people are afraid to move into Oakland or the Bronx.
There are so many other things wrong with this thesis that I need to stop myself. The more I look at it, the sloppier it appears.
|The more important headline in the CBO Report on Repeal and No Replace
The headlines were full of reporting on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impact of repeal of the ACA (aka Obamacare). You can find the Report here: https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52371
As usual, everyone obsesses over the wrong headline from an advocacy perspective. Sure, 18 million people losing insurance is pretty awful -- especially if you are one of the 18 million. But the more significant headline is that everyone else with insurance is likely to experience a 25% increase in premiums.
Everyone. All those people who don't think it impacts them. It totally impacts them.
Why? Because of the way insurance works. The CBO used the 2015 repeal bill as the baseline for analysis. That bill eliminates a bunch of things like the individual mandate and the subsidies and the Medicaid expansion but keeps things like the ban on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. So costs for insurance providers will go up, and they will have many fewer customers over whome they can spread those costs. So the costs go up for everyone still in the pool.
Yes, this is a death spiral. This was true before 2010. Trying to get out of that death spiral was one of the reasons why the healthcare industry was interested in some kind of reform. The death spiral problem is now even worse, because the ACA did a lot to change the fundamentals of the industry and reallocate various costs. Eliminate a bunch of changes while keeping other things in place dramatically accelerates the death spiral for everyone
. Not just the uninsured. Not just the rural hospitals. Not just the drug companies. Everyone.
It is against these
funding issues that the plans proposed by Republicans must be measured. It is uninteresting to most people whether a "health savings account" gives people they don't know real health insurance coverage so they can continue to afford care or not. It is of great interest to almost all people if they will experience a 25% hike in premiums next year.
Likewise, insurance companies themselves are not indifferent to these price increases, and do not have absolute freedom to charge as they please. The large ones are aware that a 25% across the board hike makes them a target of state insurance regulators and popular anger. That won't stop them, of course, because cash is cash. But they will pressure members of Congress to come up with better ways to address the problems.
It has not yet appeared to penetrate most Republicans that a solution that results in a 25% insurance premium hike for all their constituents in 2018 is not a politically viable solution -- even if you can pass it. They may hope to blame it on Democrats. Who knows, they may even succeed. But Republicans appear unaware of the scope of the gamble they are taking, or how difficult it may be to undo the damage once it happens. It would help considerably if advocates worked to educate them -- and the public at large -- that we are all in this together.
|Saturday, January 14th, 2017|
|Here at Arisia
Shabos is now over. Need to get out and do stuff.goldsquare
Would have loved to have gotten together, but I don't think it works. Am seeing parents Sunday so perhaps next time.
|Wednesday, January 11th, 2017|
|Monday, January 9th, 2017|
|And we are now up to 5 . . . .
Republican Senators who have expressed serious "concerns" about repeal and replace. These are: Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of KY, Robert Corker and Lamar Alexander, both of TN, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Mind you, none of them have gone so far as to actually publicly commit against voting for "repeal and replace." But for those of us who recognize the dance, this is an opening step -- and a fairly significant one. Each defection emboldens others, especially since we are now past the point of simple Republican majority. To repeal and replace, Mitch McConnel must persuade at least 2 of them to change their mind and decide that their "concerns" are satisfied. This may be harder than expected, as there are now lots of Republican Governors who also think Congress shouldn't repeal without a replacement in hand.
Feel free to point out that they might all still fall in line. But what's up with the last minute switches? If, as I keep hearing shouted from the rooftops, Republicans just don't care about anything but repealing Obamacare and enacting the agenda on which they have been running since 2010, then why would all these guys even pretend to have last minute concerns.
Well, lets see. TN is home to the HQ of one of the largest rural hospital chains in the country. Repeal of Obamacare could potentially cost them billions of dollars.
KY and AK have huge numbers of constituents dependent on Obamacare. They also have, by taking the Medicaid expansion and embracing O-care back when they had Democratic Governors, avoided the rural hospital closing crisis that is seriously impacting SC and GA (which did not take the Medicaid expansion).
Mind you, there are plenty of changes which would still suck ass, but would be acceptable to these various interests. But rural hospitals and insurers and others with big bucks riding on losing lots of paying customers and subsidies are not known for trusting politicians on their word. This is especially true when no one has come up with a useful solution to date. The Republican proposals by and large still leave lots of people uncovered or with crappy plans, which still results in millions of paying customers for rural hospitals, drug companies, medical service suppliers, home nursing companies, etc. no longer being able to pay for these services.
That is pure loss
Why didn't anyone think of that before? Well, Democrats never made that argument. Democrats were all blah blah lives blah blah moral duty blah blah Republicans are cruel monsters who want to kill people and have them dying in the streets. Turns out, Republican (or Republican leaning) voters didn't believe this argument. They assumed that when Trump said "we will repeal Obamacare and replace it with something terrific," he was telling them what he was actually going to do -- whereas Democrats are all about making sure all those "other people" get covered and stuff.
It didn't help that the ACA has a lot of problems that a sensible, functional Congress would have addressed over the years, and therefore our Congress utterly refused to do it.
One of my dictums of advocacy. "This isn't about what argument you find compelling. It's about what convinces those you need to convince."
But it is also true that the stakeholders Republicans care about didn't focus on the studies and other things you need to get them to take these concerns seriously until it became clear that Republicans were actually serious. After all, if you are rural hospitals, why waste money on a study about something you don't think is going to happen?
But now? Well, the game is afoot . . . .
|Thursday, January 5th, 2017|
|On The Importance of Empathy In Addressing Racism and Sexism
A good article summarizing a bunch of the research.http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/15/13595508/racism-trump-research-study
For myself, I have always found it frustrating that we (meaining progressives) generally extol the theory that race and sex are social constructs, thus the whole idea of racism and sexism are artificial creations. Nevertheless, we treat racist or sexist behavior (or speech or attitude) as a sing that the person is a "racist" and that these actions are a window into the soul, barring said racist or sexist from the elect forever as assuredly as Puriticans believed external poverty was a sign that God had marked you as bound for Hell on the day of your birth.
Part of this is the confusion between "empathy" and "patience" and "permission" and "forgiveness." I've become a big fan of cognitive behavior therapy in recent years, and much of it revolves around identifying the persistent negative thought patterns and behavioral patterns that create the bad behavior (e.g., overeating) and gradually altering and connecting them. For example, transforming the idea of exercise from a punishment for "lack of will power" to something that you can enjoy and appreciate it's many positive effects. Or, in the more dramatic case of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), getting the brain to unlearn the patterns that were locked in place from the stress.
So consider the question of how to change people's attitudes on racism and sexism, particularly the less obvious ones that people often deny they have. The article runs through some of the issues and problems, including "white fragility." White people get very, very upset at being thought of as racist or sexist or that the things they casually do and say could hurt (either emotionally or in some other way) people of color when they don't mean to do so. This fragility does not mean that white people get a free pass to act as they please, but it is important to recongize the phenomena and strategize about how to deal with it in a way that will be more effective. Again, if someone has PTSD, so that a loud, unexpected noise prompts them to go into a fighting stance or physically tackle the person nearest them to protect them from an IED explosion, we don't ignore the dangers of these behaviors to others. But we (hopefully) don't tell the PTSD sufferer to "get over it." We need to confine someone suffering PTSD for treatment, but we do not tell the person so confined we are cofning them because they are an evil, agressive person and this punishment will get them to think about how awful they are.
The burden, sadly, falls on those who wish to reduce racism or sexism in the same way it often falls to family members to intervene to help someone suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. It is neither fair nor easy. But we can at least stop making the situation worse by proclaiming lack of empathy a virtue and efforts to understand capitulation.
|Wednesday, January 4th, 2017|
|The Older I Get The Less I respect Political Scientists
Increasingly, as I read political science studies and political science articles, I lose respect for political science as a field. Why? Because it is increasingly divorced from actual politics. It has become a beaching ground for behavioral theorists and economists who apparently found those departments at their university of choice full.
I will grant, my big bugaboo on this at the moment is various statistical studies that are similar to what I see in economics and the worst kind of behavioral theorists. Now I am not opposed to statistical studies per se. But i became deeply suspicious of them when I got into designing them and debunking them starting with the national broadband plan in 2009. While it is totally possible to do a good statistical study on user preferences, user exerience or other things, it is just much much easier to do a really bad study and then dramatically over emphasize its meaning.
Sometimes this is deliberate. "Tell me the outcome you want and I will design the study" is a fairly well known industry trick. But a lot of time it proceeds from a rather simplistic idea about express preferences, implied preferences, and P values. And then discounting anything else that disagrees with your conclusion.
In fairness, however, much of the distortion also goes to press reports who find "nuance" too newsie.
Now lets stipulate that human beings are a tricky bunch, and not super good at self-reflection. People who proudly think of themselves as not racist or sexist are often a bundle of absolutely racist and sexist assumptions. What is less understood is how powerful these may be in any indiividual and what other connections may or may not counteract them. Additionally, we understand that exposure to different groups tends to reduce negative assocaitions -- but not always. People can, and do, make exceptions in their mind.
Importantly, as all these caveats indicate, it's a complicated phenomena. What I find more frustrtaing is the contradiction between discussion of racism and sexism (and even race and gender) as a social construct, while simultaneously treating them as immutable charatceristics.
Which brings me to the point of this rant. Vox's coverage of this study on Trump voters (again):Racism and Sexism Predict Support For Trump Much More Than Economic Disatisfaction
Part of my issue here is a long-standing debate about the general maleability of people. I saw with my own eyes people say things in 2016 that they found offensive in 2015 without even realizing they had changed their mind. Why? Because racisim and sexism are indeed learned behaviors. If you hook up with Trump for one reason, and stay for others, you will start speaking the language and internalizing the culture.
It's also annoying because no one is saying that racism and sexism weren't involved. Of course they were. So this study finding that more racist or sexist you were the more likely you were to vote for Trump, whereas the "economic distress" category is less good as a predictor, should not be terribly interesting. (I also have problems with the measure of economic distress, which is all over the map on the post-mortem. There are lots of people who are employed at jobs with decent wages who voted Trump not because they are currently in distress, but because they fear the trends of offshoring and automation and believe that "they" are getting advantages "they" don't deserve.) As a political organizer, I don't find this information terribly useful or interesting because it fails to get at what's important to me -- how many people do I have to flip to win next time, and how do I flip them conssitent with my actual morals and goals. If the answer were "get them to be less racist or sexist," I'd be happier. But no one who focuses on race or gender in the political race seems to have an answer to the "how do you make them less racist or sexist" question other than "keep telling them what racists and sexists they are." As the author of the Vox article linked to above wrote in an earlier article, there is good scientifc evidence that while you can work to diminish racism and sexism, telling people how racist and sexist they are is not one of them
All of which gets me back to "political scientists seem to know less and less about how politics works." The study is, at best, confirmatory that if you were racist and/or sexist, you gravitated toward Donald Trump, and being racist or sexist was a stronger indicator than mere conomic distress. But it doesn't tell us anything useful about combination, change over time, or why voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 suddenly became more racist.
I want more complex studies and better reporting, dammit.
|Watching the Train Crash
I am a wealthy white guy in a major urban area. Even so, I will probably be screwed over by the "repeal and replace" Obamacare strategy Republicans just agreed to.
Why? Well, start here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/im-a-former-health-insurance-ceo-and-this-is-what-obamacare-repeal-will-do-2017-01-02
Well before Congress passed the ACA, pretty much everyone agreed that our health care delivery system, and the way we paid for it, had severe market failures. So it woukld be bad enough is we just teleported back the state of things in 2007. But proposed repeal and delay promises to strip away everything, eventually, but hopefully before that we will come up with something wonderful.
Asking insurance companies to participate in the exchanges and offer coverage in poor areas, with no assurance that they will get compensation, with almost certain reduction in the medicaid expansion, and with Republicans promising that they will prohibit bans based on lifetime conditions, is crazy.
Which means in 2017, we can expect a lot more exchanges to simply collapse as insurers rush out.
That has huge impacts on everyone. For one thing, insurers have no way to predict their market in the interim period. The non-exclusion and the "keep you kid until age 25" provisions will still be in place for national coverage -- based on Trump and Congressional Rs. That means everyone's premiums will go up.
Why, because that is how insurance works
. It's one of the major reasons the cost of insurance was in a death spiral in the '00s that prompted Dems to push for universal health isurance (based on expanding CHIP in 2007 and Romneycare back in MA). The cost of coverage is allocated over the entire pool. Health care *costs* have continued to rise as a function of lots of things unrelated to the insurance market (well, kinda related, but then we need to get into 3rd party payer issues, which makes this even more complicated).
At any rate, if you read the article linked to above from a former insurance industry big-wig turned Case Western professor, you will get a glimpse at the Dirk Gently Hollistic Insurance problem. Crash a major piece, and the ripples go everywhere. Pull out the exchanges, and the overall insurance pool drops. While that helps the insurer in the short term, it drives up costs/down profits to the drug companies, hospitals, pharmacies, etc. who were getting paid for the sicker patients. They all have to raise their prices to meet ther profit incentives or see their stock prices drop. So they raise their
prices. This makes it worse for hospitals and other caregivers who are not able to turn away uncomepnsated care, or whose reimbursement rates are fixed by contract with insurers or Medicare/Medicaid. Hospitals have to either fail financially (which happens with alarming frequency), cut back on care, or increase the cost to the comepnsated care patients. The later, of course, drives up insurance for the remaining people who can afford it.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
|Gilded Rage: Interviews With Trump Supporters
This is actually a very interesting interview with Alexander Zaitchik, author of a new book called Gilded Rage.http://billmoyers.com/story/chatting-trump-supporters/#.WG0F6hANi3A.facebook
Zaitchick spent 2016 going to Trump rallies, getting to know Trump supporters, and interviewing them for his book. He did not describe himself as a reporter, but as a writer doing a book on why people seemed excited about Trump as a candidate. He discuses the proces of people getting to know him and being willing to talk to him and what he came away with.
Surprise, it's complicated!
|Would Removing Online Anonymity Make People Politer? New Study says no.
Turns out that the theory that online behavior turns negative because of anonymity was based on some 1980s experiemnts that were (surprise!) simplified in the popular retelling. Recent research does not support the theory. To the contrary, there is now a body of research that indicates that revealing true identities increases harassment of target groups, even when the harasser is not anonymous.
Or, put another way:
Some people are jerks.
It is often factors such as fear of punishment/penalty that moderate behaivor, as well as acclimation to and sensitivity around social norms.
Anonymity does not appear to meanginfully contribute to these factors to the point where removing the cloak of anonymity by itself alters behavior.
|Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017|
|Most Reasonable Article on Kerry Israel Speech I've Seen So Far.
This is technically from Washpo's "fact checker."https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/03/fact-checking-john-kerrys-speech-on-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/?utm_term=.3b225b24b8e1
As the author notes at the beginning, however:Fact-checking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a bit of a fool’s errand. The two sides have their own narratives, which are virtually impossible to reconcile. Meanwhile, supporters of Israel in the United States — and even Israelis — have also split into seemingly irreconcilable camps, with their own sets of facts and assumptions about the root causes of the conflict.
Sadly, this is true. So true that one cannot even begin an article without readers lining up their various sides. But this piece offers some good supplemnetary details on why the UN Resolution last week and Kerry's speech are, in fact, departures from U.S. policy and even previous UN resolutions. Notably, the resolution for the first time locks in the 1949 "greenline" as an immutable boarder -- and the article explans why this is problematic from the Israeli perspecitve.
More importantly, the article tracks Kerry's source material. This is not to dispute its accuracy, but as part of the above statement of highlighting that lots of people have different interpretations on core facts. Nor are they wrong. For a start, International Law is hardly the crystal clear creature that it is often portrayed to be. Heck, even domestic statutory law, which is much more straightforward, is often subject to differeing interpretations and where interpretation of the same facts as violating a regulation or being permissible is often hotly contested.
Reading the article won't answer these questions or resolve strongly held opinions, but it may provide the interested observer with a better understanding of what people are arguing about.
|Friday, December 30th, 2016|
|So What Do Americans Think About Obama As He Leaves?
PEW has this survey showing fairly positive marks for Obama, along with the feeling that he didn't manage to do a lot to address the major problems facing the country.http://www.people-press.org/2016/12/14/obama-leaves-office-on-high-note-but-public-has-mixed-views-of-accomplishments/
Not surprisingly, there are huge partisan divides on everything from whether Obama made a difference, whether his failures will outwiegh his successes, or even how much they like Michelle Obama (you have to be really partisan to hate Michelle Obama).
What is interesting in all this is both how Americans are now thinking about the dismantling of Obamacare and othe Obama programs or preserving them (most not happy with what they have, but lots want to see things improved rather than eliminated).
All of this is important for how the political environment plays out, and what happens going forward. I would be as suspicious of the idea of a permanent Republican majority as I was of the permanent Democratic storyline in 2012.
|Tuesday, December 20th, 2016|
|Looking for A Room Share For Arisia
Made a late decision to go to Arisia. I see that the Westin is full. Anybody have space for me to crash at the Westin? Becky is staying home so I can take floor space if need be.