Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The End Of The Harris Candidacy

I should probably not waste time on this, but I was a fan of Kamala Harris, and her ending her candidacy while still in fifth  place in the polls, if in a long slide, has me disappointed.  As it is, given her declining polls, lack of money, and reportedly internally divided campaign staff, there, her chances of actually getting the nomination had falle n to effectively zero.   It is actually an act of class on her part to get of the overly crowded Dem field.

In light of  the recent sharp decline of Warren as well who is now running #4 among Dems, we now have three white males on top.  As it is I confess that I favored both Warren and Harris over all three oof those and the rest as well.  How is it these problematic three whilte males are on top (I reocgnize that especially supporters of Sanders and Buttiegieg will dispute this and may well show up here to properly correct me and tell us of their virtues, and they as well as Biden do have virtues).

I am going to put it out there: I think both Warren and Harris, especially the latter, have been held to a higher standard as women and Harris as a minority woman, than the white males. They are not allowed to make any errors or even appear to make an error.  The white males can bungle and have serious issues, but hey, not a problem, or at least not a fatal problem.  They can go on for the next day.

Soomething that played a role in the decline of both Warren and Harris (and Warren may yet make a comeback) has been their effort to overcome the split among Dems over what to do about health care.  Both of them initially, or at least at some point, signed on to the "Medicare-for-all" label for a single payer government run health insurance system that would eliminate all private insurance, following Bernie's lead from 2016 and maintained now, all of this being part of a fight over who was the "most progresive" candidate.  Of course, neither Warren nor Harris could beat Bernie for that title, and Bernie's true believers have stuck with him, even if his support has not expanded.

As it is, "Medicare-for-all" is a label that is not great if one looks at it closely.  That is because, frankly, Mwdicare by itself sucks.  It is crappy coverage.  Pretty much everybody actually on Medicare also has supplemental private insurance od some sort as well. So in fact this was a misleasing label for what really should probably be called "Canadian-style single payer."  But this is a minor point.

The more important point was all the pollls showing that while a majority says they support "Medicare-for-all" when asked that, if one adds "with all private insurance ended," the support has always plunged.  Most people have private insurance and most of them like their  insurance  or are afraid of losing it.  So both Harris first and then Warren tried to deal with this, tried to deal with this, only to fall on both of their faces.

So first it was Harris, saying while she was for Medicare-for-all, she would not immediately abolish private insurance.  It was a bomb.  Both sides dissed her.  Big surprise, same thing happened when Warren not unreasonably also sought a middle way, go slowly on Medicare-for-all.  Ironic  As ir is, I think both of them took reasonable positions, but they have been political disasters.  As it is, I think this internal Dem arguing over this issue is just stupid.

On the matter of Harris, I am now too late going to mount a defense of her on the the other matter that she got hurt badly on.  Well, a further matter was what put her briefly on top: that her attack on Biden on the race issue in the first debate was overdone and problematic as people came to think about it, and her  attack failed to move African Americans away from supporting Biden.  But the matter that really hurt her was the attack by Tulsi Gabbard near the end of the second debate of her record as a DA and AG, and she never really recovered from that.

Here is where I wish to mount the defense I now feel guilty of not making publicly earlier, especially as I was aware of the response.  I think the reason Harris did not respond clearly in the debate is that Gabbard's attack was filled with so many fale or misleading atatements that Harris could not on the spot in the time given respond to all of them.  As it is, the very next day that Gabbard was shown to be full of it, but that report involved subtlrlirs and complications and was simply not picked up widely.  It became unknown, with the publicity being that Gabbard had successfully exposed terrible problems with Harris's record.  She was not perfect, so, bring on the white males!

I have reason to believe I shall not get this link right, but it can be tracked down on Politifact from Aug. 1, 2019.  It is at politifact.com/california/article/2019/aug/01/were-tulsi-gabbard-attacks-kamala-harris-record-c .  Since that  will probably not work, let me lay out the points made in it.

So Gabbard made a string of accusations.  The one that actually sticks to some extent is that Harris was in a hypocritical position given thaat she admitted  to having smoked pot but was putting pot smokers in jail, while later supporting legalization.  Well, of course she was enforcing the law, but apparently there  was a dramatic decline in the arrest rate on this during her time as AG, from 817 in the first year  down to 137 in the final year. She was accused of not allowing new evidence to be applied for Kevin Cooper.  That did happen, but it happened before she was in and done by people she had not control over.  She was accused of supporting tightening punishment of famillies, but that was lower level officisls and she made them stop.  Another issue involved raising cash bails.  This was put in place while she was DA in SF by certain judges for violent crimes.  She was not responsible for this and in the Senate supported reducing bail.  The bottom line is that almost all of what Gabbard accused her of was either exaggerated or just plain false.  But, hey, a black woman cannot make any mistakes.

One positive here is that I think this may raise the chance Harris might become VP nominee.  If Warren gets the nomination, it wll not happen: two women ia too much.  Biden might not pick her, both because he may still be angry over what she did in the first debate and also does not need her to increase his support among African Americans, but he also may need more to pick Warren to unify with the left wing of the party.  But for Both Sanders and Buttigieg, especially the latter, she looks like the obvious VP pick. We shall see.

BTW, one reason I have been for her is that I know her dad, retired Post Keynesian Stanford economist, Donald J. Harris of Jamaica originally, whom I had in grad school and greatly respect.  ironicallly he and his daughter fell out during her campaiign over the pot issue, when she jokingly replied to an interviewer, "Of course I am for pot legalization; I am a Jamaican," which her old man did not appreciate at all.

Barkley Rosser


AXEC / E.K-H said...

Occasional economics reminder

Get it econ suckers: microfoundations = false, macrofoundations = true
Comment on Lars Syll on ‘What is (wrong with) mainstream economics?’

Lars Syll maintains: “The basic problem with [the] definition of neoclassical (mainstream) economics ― arguing that its differentia specifica is its use of demand and supply, utility maximization and rational choice ― is that it doesn’t get things quite right. As we all know, there is an endless list of mainstream models that more or less distance themselves from one or the other of these characteristics. So the heart of mainstream economic theory lies elsewhere. The essence of mainstream economic theory is its almost exclusive use of a deductivist methodology. A methodology that is more or less used without a smack of argument to justify its relevance.”

Arrow formulated the essence of the neoclassical approach in more general terms: “It is a touchstone of accepted economics that all explanations must run in terms of the actions and reactions of individuals. Our behavior in judging economic research, in peer review of papers and research, and in promotions, includes the criterion that in principle the behavior we explain and the policies we propose are explicable in terms of individuals, not of other social categories.”

This translates into this set of neoclassical hardcore propositions, a.k.a. verbalized axioms: “HC1 economic agents have preferences over outcomes; HC2 agents individually optimize subject to constraints; HC3 agent choice is manifest in interrelated markets; HC4 agents have full relevant knowledge; HC5 observable outcomes are coordinated, and must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub)

There is a simple test of scientific competence: if you do not feel ― after thinking about HC1/HC5 for a second ― the urge to vomit you lack elementary scientific reflexes. And if you think the axiom set is acceptable as the starting point of economic analysis you are forever beyond help.

The point is: economics is NOT about the behavior of agents but about the behavior of the economic system. Economics is NOT a social science but a system science. From this follows methodologically that economics has NOT to be based on microfoundations but on macrofoundations. Microfoundations are the lethal methodological blunder of economics and the reason why both orthodox and heterodox economics are scientifically worthless. So, microfoundations have to be abandoned. The move from false microfoundations to true macrofoundations is called Paradigm Shift. It was Keynes who messed it up 80+ years ago but economists have not realized it to this day.

So, every economist faces the option to do the Paradigm Shift or to be buried at the Flat-Earth-Cemetery together with the preceding Walrasian, Keynesian, Marxian, Austrian losers and their heap of proto-scientific garbage.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke


pgl said...

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke - read Dr. Seuss's Marvin K. Mooney. Will you please go now?

You don't get my point? Your long winded off topic rants are nothing but trolling and no read of this blog wants you to waste space here this way.

marcel proust said...

While I appreciate the Suess reference, a little disemvoweling goes a long way. For instance

*cc*s**n*l *c*n*m*cs r*m*nd*r

G*t *t *c*n s*ck*rs: m*cr*f**nd*t**ns = f*ls*, m*cr*f**nd*t**ns = tr**
C*mm*nt *n L*rs S*ll *n ‘Wh*t *s (wr*ng w*th) m**nstr**m *c*n*m*cs?’

L*rs S*ll m**nt**ns: “Th* b*s*c pr*bl*m w*th [th*] d*f*n*t**n *f n**cl*ss*c*l (m**nstr**m) *c*n*m*cs ― *rg**ng th*t *ts d*ff*r*nt** sp*c*f*c* *s *ts *s* *f d*m*nd *nd s*ppl*, *t*l*t* m*x*m*z*t**n *nd r*t**n*l ch**c* ― *s th*t *t d**sn’t g*t th*ngs q**t* r*ght. *s w* *ll kn*w, th*r* *s *n *ndl*ss l*st *f m**nstr**m m*d*ls th*t m*r* *r l*ss d*st*nc* th*ms*lv*s fr*m *n* *r th* *th*r *f th*s* ch*r*ct*r*st*cs. S* th* h**rt *f m**nstr**m *c*n*m*c th**r* l**s *ls*wh*r*. Th* *ss*nc* *f m**nstr**m *c*n*m*c th**r* *s *ts *lm*st *xcl*s*v* *s* *f * d*d*ct*v*st m*th*d*l*g*. * m*th*d*l*g* th*t *s m*r* *r l*ss *s*d w*th**t * sm*ck *f *rg*m*nt t* j*st*f* *ts r*l*v*nc*.”

*rr*w f*rm*l*t*d th* *ss*nc* *f th* n**cl*ss*c*l *ppr**ch *n m*r* g*n*r*l t*rms: “*t *s * t**chst*n* *f *cc*pt*d *c*n*m*cs th*t *ll *xpl*n*t**ns m*st r*n *n t*rms *f th* *ct**ns *nd r**ct**ns *f *nd*v*d**ls. **r b*h*v**r *n j*dg*ng *c*n*m*c r*s**rch, *n p**r r*v**w *f p*p*rs *nd r*s**rch, *nd *n pr*m*t**ns, *ncl*d*s th* cr*t*r**n th*t *n pr*nc*pl* th* b*h*v**r w* *xpl**n *nd th* p*l*c**s w* pr*p*s* *r* *xpl*c*bl* *n t*rms *f *nd*v*d**ls, n*t *f *th*r s*c**l c*t*g*r**s.”

Th*s tr*nsl*t*s *nt* th*s s*t *f n**cl*ss*c*l h*rdc*r* pr*p*s*t**ns, *.k.*. v*rb*l*z*d *x**ms: “HC1 *c*n*m*c *g*nts h*v* pr*f*r*nc*s *v*r **tc*m*s; HC2 *g*nts *nd*v*d**ll* *pt*m*z* s*bj*ct t* c*nstr**nts; HC3 *g*nt ch**c* *s m*n*f*st *n *nt*rr*l*t*d m*rk*ts; HC4 *g*nts h*v* f*ll r*l*v*nt kn*wl*dg*; HC5 *bs*rv*bl* **tc*m*s *r* c**rd*n*t*d, *nd m*st b* d*sc*ss*d w*th r*f*r*nc* t* *q**l*br**m st*t*s.” (W**ntr**b)

Th*r* *s * s*mpl* t*st *f sc**nt*f*c c*mp*t*nc*: *f *** d* n*t f**l ― *ft*r th*nk*ng *b**t HC1/HC5 f*r * s*c*nd ― th* *rg* t* v*m*t *** l*ck *l*m*nt*r* sc**nt*f*c r*fl*x*s. *nd *f *** th*nk th* *x**m s*t *s *cc*pt*bl* *s th* st*rt*ng p**nt *f *c*n*m*c *n*l*s*s *** *r* f*r*v*r b***nd h*lp.

Th* p**nt *s: *c*n*m*cs *s N*T *b**t th* b*h*v**r *f *g*nts b*t *b**t th* b*h*v**r *f th* *c*n*m*c s*st*m. *c*n*m*cs *s N*T * s*c**l sc**nc* b*t * s*st*m sc**nc*. Fr*m th*s f*ll*ws m*th*d*l*g*c*ll* th*t *c*n*m*cs h*s N*T t* b* b*s*d *n m*cr*f**nd*t**ns b*t *n m*cr*f**nd*t**ns. M*cr*f**nd*t**ns *r* th* l*th*l m*th*d*l*g*c*l bl*nd*r *f *c*n*m*cs *nd th* r**s*n wh* b*th *rth*d*x *nd h*t*r*d*x *c*n*m*cs *r* sc**nt*f*c*ll* w*rthl*ss. S*, m*cr*f**nd*t**ns h*v* t* b* *b*nd*n*d. Th* m*v* fr*m f*ls* m*cr*f**nd*t**ns t* tr** m*cr*f**nd*t**ns *s c*ll*d P*r*d*gm Sh*ft. *t w*s K**n*s wh* m*ss*d *t *p 80+ ***rs *g* b*t *c*n*m*sts h*v* n*t r**l*z*d *t t* th*s d**.

S*, *v*r* *c*n*m*st f*c*s th* *pt**n t* d* th* P*r*d*gm Sh*ft *r t* b* b*r**d *t th* Fl*t-**rth-C*m*t*r* t*g*th*r w*th th* pr*c*d*ng W*lr*s**n, K**n*s**n, M*rx**n, **str**n l*s*rs *nd th**r h**p *f pr*t*-sc**nt*f*c g*rb*g*.

*gm*nt K*k*r*t-H*ndtk*


2slugbaits said...

Barkley Rosser With respect to Warren, a big part of her problem is that initially she went to great lengths to emphasize that private health insurance (presumably even as a Medicare supplement) would be abolished on day one. She tried to walk that back fairly late in the day, so that undermined both her credibility on her principal issue. If she had presented a more moderate, phased-in Medicare-for-All plan from the very beginning, then she might be doing better than fourth place today. Now Bernie staked out an even more radical Medicare-for-All proposal than Warren, but that radical position hasn't hurt him. Why? It could be because Bernie's a man, but I suspect a more likely explanation is that no one seriously believes Bernie will be nominated. Short of another heart attack, there's not much room between Bernie's floor and Bernie's ceiling.

I'm not sure how much weight we should put to the double standard for women argument. Not zero weight, but not a lot of weight either. One way to test this would be to follow Sen. Klobuchar. Her positions are nearly identical to Biden's and her being a woman doesn't seem to hurt her. There was a brief story about her being aggressive with her staff (and that is a sexist charge not thrown towards men), but that story didn't seem to have legs. Klobuchar has been moving up in the polls and I suspect at the expense of Harris and Warren. If Klobuchar gets trashed in a way that Biden or Mayor Pete don't, then we'll have a pretty good sense as to how much weight to put on the double standard argument.

FWIW, a long time ago I predicted a Biden/Klobuchar ticket. Biden is old and clearly not up to 8 years. He might not even make 4 years. He's definitely lost a step or two, although all I really care about is that he seems to have the best chance of beating Trump. But because Biden is clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, this is one time when the Veep choice really matters...a lot. Klobuchar is probably our best chance to see a woman president because I believe a Warren nomination just gives us 4 more years of Trump. Klobuchar is unlikely to win the Democratic nomination in her own right, but could become president by first becoming vice-president. She would also help in the Electoral College because she comes from a midwestern state that only narrowly went for Clinton. And the governor of Minnesota is a Democrat, so the Dems wouldn't lose a Senate seat as they would if Warren became the Veep.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Klobuchar may be "moving up" in the polls, but shehas never been ahead of Harris nationally in them. If she really got up high enough to be taken seriously, she would get trashed again.

I also think Biden-Klobuchar unlikely. She is too much like him. If he gets the nod, he will need to pull in the left wing of the party. I continue to see both Warren and Harris as more likely for VP with him than Klobuchar.

BTW, it may be sexist, but I take seriously that story about Klobuchar's high staff turnover. I have been around, and that is not a good sign. Trump has it, and she reportedly had the highest rate in the whole senate. We would be hearing more about that if she were actually more serious for the top spot nod.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

BTW, Klobuchar has done fairly well in the debates, although not top of the line, clearly is thoughtful and intelligent, and has some appeal in Iowa as a neighbor.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Another thing that may well help Harris for the VP nod is that she may really stand out during the senate impeachment trial. She has done so during Senate Judiciary hearings previously. Klobuchar not so much. A lot of Dems may find themselves having second thoughts about turning against her for the top spot after the impeachment trial.

Also, although she gave Biden a hard time in the first debate and he seemed to forget about her existence in the most recent one, reportedly she has been quite friendly with the Biden family.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and helpful discussion for me.

AXEC / E.K-H said...


You say: “Interesting and helpful discussion for me.”

I heartily agree: Klobuchar or not Klobuchar is the most profound question in all of economics.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

kevin quinn said...

Barkley: I too am an admirer of Donald Harris' work. I wonder what it was like for him at Stanford, as the lone heterodox voice in the department? I am a big fan of the Milgrom and Roberts textbook, Economics, Management and Organization, a text that was really a pioneering contribution to the field of information economics. I wonder if Harris was an influence at all: e.g. in the discussion of efficiency wages, M&R consider the Bowles and Gintis point about the inefficiency of spending real resources on better monitoring as opposed to raising wages.

BTW: Egmont, really: go away!

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Cross-posting on special invitation of Kevin Quinn

Economics ― the science that never was
Comment on Michael Roberts on ‘Economics as a social science’*

“Recently, Benoît Cœuré, a leading French member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, delivered an address to economics students at the job forum of Paris School of Economics. He wanted to explain to the gathered students that becoming an economist was a great thing to do and paid well. … But the money was less important because ‘your PhD should be fuelled by your passion and your love for research rather than by hopes of earning more money’.”

Economics officially declares each year to be a science with the “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. The problem is that economics does to this day not satisfy the well-defined criteria of science. And this means that economics is a fraud. Economists have never been scientists. Since Adam Smith/Karl Marx they are clowns and useful idiots in the political Circus Maximus. Economics is NOT part of science but of the entertainment industry. The EconNobel is the Oscar for the best science look-alike.#1

The challenge for economists is this: “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum)

Economists do NOT have the true theory but many opinions. The major approaches — Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT — are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent and all got the foundational economic concept profit wrong. Economics is a heap of proto-scientific garbage.

The outstanding characteristic of the economist is utter scientific incompetence. Economists are simply too stupid for the elementary algebra that underlies macroeconomics. This seems surprising because economists are often accused of applying too much math. However, the fact of the matter is that they do not understand how to apply it properly. As Feynman put it: “They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. ... But it doesn’t work. ... So I call these things cargo cult science because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential.”#2 The stupidity of economists is the ultimate reason why all economic models are provably false.

Worse, economists are not only stupid but politically corrupt. Let us take macroeconomics as example.#3 In his General Theory, Keynes asserts: “Income = value of output = consumption + investment. Saving = income − consumption. Therefore saving = investment.” (p. 63)

This two-liner is conceptually and logically defective because Keynes NEVER came to grips with profit. “His Collected Writings show that he wrestled to solve the Profit Puzzle up till the semi-final versions of his GT but in the end he gave up and discarded the draft chapter dealing with it.” (Tómasson et al.)

Let this sink in, the economist Keynes NEVER understood profit, i.e. the foundational concept of economics. So, Keynes’ I=S is false and by consequence the multiplier and all I=S/IS-LM models. Instead, Q=I−S is true with Q as macroeconomic profit. Neither pro-Keynesians nor anti-Keynesians spotted Keynes’ elementary blunder in 80+ years — except Allais.#4 Needless to emphasize that lack of the true theory never hindered an economist from giving economic policy advice.

See part 2

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Part 2

Because Keynes got macroeconomic profit wrong for the most elementary case, economists messed up the more complex sectoral balances equation which reads (I−S)+(G−T)+(X−M)=0.#5

This provably false equation, though, is applied by MMTers.#6 It provides the theoretical foundation for the MMT policy of deficit-spending/money-creation. And this is the point, where scientific incompetence becomes hazardous to the general public.#7 Economists bear the intellectual responsibility for the social devastation of all economic crises since the Great Depression.

As Monsieur Cœuré summarized it: “… economics is a social science. Models will not take away the burden and responsibility of making judgements. Economics involves much trial and error — you have to take decisions in the fog when you can barely see your hand in front of your face. This makes our profession exciting!”

The general public does NOT need this kind of excitement. The sooner it can leave 200+ years of scientific incompetence and generously rewarded agenda-pushing for the Oligarchy behind the better.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

* Michael Roberts Blog

#1 Scrap the EconNobel

#2 What is so great about cargo cult science? or, How economists learned to stop worrying about failure

#3 Get it econ suckers: microfoundations = false, macrofoundations = true

#4 How Keynes got macro wrong and Allais got it right

#5 The axiomatically correct balances equation reads (I−S)+(G−T)+(X−M)−(Q−Yd)=0.

#6 Down with idiocy!

#7 Econogenics: economists pose a hazard to their fellow citizens

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...


I think Don H. was substantially isolated in the Stanford dept. Doubt he had much influence on M and R. Duncan Folwy played a major role in his hiring, but then did not get tenure becauuse of his heterodoxy.

jamzo said...

this is an unusual election cycle

and i do not refer to trump

circumstances had media hyping candidate horse race a year before primaries

circumstances attracted huge number of candidates without large place in memory of citizenry

(aside .... what were economics that facilitated that)

senator harris is a prime example ... a jump too far ... well known in california ... not well known across the nation ... hoped she could do an obama ... "crowded out?"

how could any candidate without a previous level of "celebrity" among the populace gain any traction