Source: Economists are rethinking the numbers on inequality | The Economist
Yet just as ideas about inequality have completed their march from the academy to the frontlines of politics, researchers have begun to look again. And some are wondering whether inequality has in fact risen as much as claimed—or, by some measures, at all. It is fiendishly complicated to calculate how much people earn in a year or the value of the assets under their control, and thus a country’s level of income or wealth inequality.
The conventional wisdom to have emerged from [recent wealth and income research] revolves around four main points. First, over a period of four to five decades the incomes of the top 1% have soared. Second, the incomes of middle-earners have stagnated. Third, wages have barely risen even though productivity has done so, meaning that an increasing share of GDP has gone to investors in the form of interest, dividends and capital gains, rather than to labour in the form of wages. Fourth, the rich have reinvested the fruits of their success, such that inequality of wealth (ie, the stock of assets less liabilities such as mortgage debt) has risen, too.
Each argument has always had its doubters. But they have grown in number as a series of new papers have called the existing estimates of inequality into question.
Few dispute that wealth shares at the top have risen in America, nor that the increase is driven by fortunes at the very top, among people who really can be considered an elite. The question, instead, is by just how much. … Proposals for much heavier taxes on high earners, or a tax on net wealth, or the far more radical plans outlined in Mr Piketty’s latest book, are responses to a problem that is only partially understood.
Source: The Real Class War – American Affairs Journal, By Julius Krein
The socioeconomic divide that will determine the future of politics, particularly in the United States, is not between the top 30 percent or 10 percent and the rest, nor even between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. The real class war is between the 0.1 percent and (at most) the 10 percent—or, more precisely, between elites primarily dependent on capital gains and those primarily dependent on professional labor.
While the top 5 or 10 percent may not deserve public sympathy, their underperformance relative to the top 0.1 percent will be more politically significant than the hollowing out of the working or lower-middle classes. Unlike the working class, the professional managerial class is still capable of, and required for, wielding political power.
Members of the top 5 or 10 percent have done better than the middle and working classes in recent decades, but this masks their dramatic underperformance relative to the top 1 percent (and especially the top 0.1 percent).
the costs of maintaining elite status—and passing it on to one’s children—have risen disproportionately for the top 5 or 10 percent. The ongoing decline of the middle and working classes may have reinforced the top 10 percent’s sense of elite status, but it also means that any backsliding would be catastrophic. These pressures have converged in two key areas in particular: real estate and education.
This underappreciated reality at least partially explains one of the apparent puzzles of American politics in recent years: namely, that members of the elite often seem far more radical than the working class, both in their candidate choices and overall outlook. … Many of the most aggressive proposals associated with the Left—such as student loan forgiveness and “free college”—are targeted at the top 30 percent, if not higher. Even Medicare for All could potentially benefit households earning between $100,000 and $200,000 the most; cohorts below that are already subsidized.
The purposelessness of many professional careers in the capital accumulation economy starkly contrasts with the growing number of unaddressed needs in the public sector. The legions of finance drones making utterly pointless discounted cash flow models could be far better employed designing a serious industrial policy. The engineers currently laboring over algorithms to make social media more addictive should be funded to focus on more productive technological advances. All the effort now devoted to coming up with new pricing strategies for old drugs could be directed at real medical problems, like increasing resistance to antibiotics. The vast resources invested in unprofitable ride-hailing apps and real estate arbitrage could have been used to solve America’s ever-increasing public infrastructure and housing challenges.
Source: Centralised DoH is bad for privacy, in 2019 and beyond
also: DoH: (Anti-)Competitive and Network Neutrality aspects
DNS is one of four ways in which such meta-data gets transmitted in plaintext. … Because DoH does not encrypt anything that is not also present in plain text, there is nothing to remove from the list [of parties with access to your browsing activity]. Based on this, we can conclude that as it stands, using DoH to a browser-provisioned cloud provider effectively worsens your privacy position.
Additionally, that third party then gets a complete log per device of all DNS queries, in a way that can even be tracked across IP addresses.
Even if further privacy leaks are plugged, DoH to a third party remains at best a partial solution, one that should not be relied upon as a serious security layer, since it will be hard to plug everything, especially if non-CDN content providers survive.
Encrypting DNS is good, but if this could be done without involving additional parties, that would be better.
Source: “Teacher Effects on Student Achievement and Height: A Cautionary Tale”, NBER Working Paper No. 26480, by Marianne Bitler, Sean Corcoran, Thurston Domina, Emily Penner
PDF: Teacher Effects on Student Achievement and Height: A Cautionary Tale
Estimates of teacher “value-added” suggest teachers vary substantially in their ability to promote student learning. … In this paper, we conduct a new test of the validity of value-added models. Using administrative student data from New York City, we apply commonly estimated value-added models to an outcome teachers cannot plausibly affect: student height. We find the standard deviation of teacher effects on height is nearly as large as that for math and reading achievement, raising obvious questions about validity.
Source: All Activities Monitored | The New Atlantis, by Jon Askonas
RE: Eyes in the Sky: The Secret Rise of Gorgon Stare and How It Will Watch Us All,
by Arthur Holland Michel
How military drone technology is quietly creeping into policing, business, and everyday life
The main theme is straightforward: Wide-area persistent surveillance, combined with machine learning and massive storage, is a novel technology that threatens civil liberties, even while it offers a number of new capabilities for serving the common good. But another theme runs obliquely through the book: What capacity do we, as individuals or as a society, have to shape — or prevent — a dangerous technological development?
Gorgon Stare was first developed to disrupt attacks in Iraq by IEDs (improvised explosive devices), which had become the main cause of death among U.S.-led coalition forces. … Like so many other technologies created for war, this type of surveillance has come home, and early adopters have found many inventive uses. Security companies have used it to protect events like NASCAR races — in one case, the surveillance system allowed a security team to quickly track back a hostile fan to his trailer to eject him from the event. The Forest Service deploys wide-area surveillance to monitor potential forest fire zones. And of course, a number of law enforcement agencies, ranging from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to local police departments, have experimented successfully, if controversially, with using the technology to fight crime.
Michel’s story thus displays the ethical problem of technological development in high relief. A small group of engineers came together to build a powerful weapon to meet the needs of war. In so doing, they have shifted, for everyone, the balance of power between citizen and state, between individual and corporation, and have eroded to the point of extinction what little remained of the natural rights of privacy, all around the world.