Observations on “Censorship”

An Econbrowser reader, defending the use of the term “China virus” instead of the Covid-19 term, writes:

That would seem accurate.

A China virus is not racist, it’s placist. Other places with epidemics (arguably all racist): Spanish flu, German measles, Lassa fever, West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme Disease (Connecticut), Ebola Fever, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), Zika fever, Japanese encephalitis, Marburg Virus, and Norovirus (Norwalk, Ohio). And let’s not forget Legionnaire’s disease, discriminatory against veterans!

I think a Chinese-American professor censoring criticism of Xi’s China is a really bad idea. A really, really bad idea.

Two observations:

  1. Context is important: There have been numerous attacks on Americans of Asian descent (not just Chinese) because of the incendiary rhetoric used by Mr. Trump. See e.g., Time.
  2. If multiple individuals criticize something, one single person does not take ownership. E.g., if Xi and numerous American economists criticize Trump’s unilateral approach to trade policy, are the numerous American economists siding with Xi?

135 thoughts on “Observations on “Censorship”

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ Mr. O’Rear
      I can’t quite make out if this is humor or not.

      What would be a nice middle ground on all this, is we had more emphasis on the root of the problem, which is the practice of “wet markets”. What’s the American version of “wet markets”?? One could argue buffet style restaurants and buffet style eating is a harbinger for germs, and has probably spread a lot of disease in America. The current worn out cliche is “petri dish”. Am I arguing we should ban Buffets in America?? I must confess a certain affection for them as I ate at many of them growing up. But the reality is, when you have 300+ people touching the same spoon and then touching another spoon that a different “set” of 300+ people have touched, knowing how many men I have seen in my life in public bath rooms don’t even go to the sink, and about 75% who do go to the sink don’t touch the soap dispenser and just run their hands under tap water for 5 seconds counts as “washing their hands” (I wager the female ratio is near exact the same), you can count me totally unsurprised after around mid-February this thing was going to spread like wildfire. What are the odds someone who thinks rubbing their hands with soap for 35-40 seconds is a huge burden in life is going to wear a mask?? Maybe Americans ought to look in the damned mirror before they start using insulting tones as they tag geographic names to viruses.

      I sure wouldn’t mind looking at the “hidden video tape” footage of a camera zoomed in on their household bathroom faucet everytime PT and “Princeton”Kopits take a dump. Don’t ask me where my money is placed on the Vegas lines on that one or you might get the dry heaves.

      1. Moses Herzog

        I venture to say the current, or roughly 5 year (???) time span pre-February 2020, “fad” or “craze” for food trucks or street vendors is also a haven for germ spreading. Is that as bad as transporting animals with cages piled on top of each other vertically so the animals cr*p on each other?? Probably not, but still not the most hygienic.

  1. pgl

    Steven Kopits writes a lot of intellectual garbage like this but you have to understand that he is desperate for attention. And he has figured out that if he panders to the Trump sycophants, he gets to be a guest on Fox and Friends.

  2. sammy

    Menzie,

    Conservative commenters and conservative politicians are regularly subjected to much worse direct insults from liberal commenters here than PT’s oblique reference. So it seems like an excuse just to ban Peak Trader, with a dose of virtue signaling thrown in.

    1. pgl

      Good grief Sammy – such pathetic whining. Look – you are free to comment here or not. If you make honest comments all will be fine. But if you choose as you so often do make stupid partisan comments, then don’t be such a damn baby when we call you on it.

      Read the GD time article. These people were just living in my city and they were attacked by your racist buddies. That is a lot different.

      Grow up troll.

      1. noneconomist

        As long as Sammy is content playing the role of red headed step child (heretofore the province of CoRev) and pedaling his bike around bumping into walls with Trump bumper stickers attached, he’ll be fair game for those attempting to explain the real world to him and attempting to save him from himself.

    2. pgl

      Sammy’s comment is likely very insulting to true conservatives who happen to abhor racism as much as I do. Of course PeakTrader is well known for his racism as is Donald Trump. And Sammy wants to defend clear and blatant racism? OK if Sammy wants to admit to be a racist – fine. But not all conservatives would be defending this garbage so those real conservatives might tell Sammy to shut the f&&& up.

    3. 2slugbaits

      sammy PeakTrader was not banned because he blurted out some insult to another commenter. He was banned because he violated Menzie’s terms of use with respect to making a racist comment. See the difference? That said, if I were the site owner I probably would not have banned PeakTrader for the simple reason that I don’t think he actually understands why his “China virus” reference was out of line. My sense is that PeakTrader is pretty dense and not terribly bright. My personal view is that he should have been lectured and shamed and banned only if he proved to be a repeat offender. I’m not a fan of cancel culture, but I am a big fan of public shaming along the road to redemption.

      As to conservatives oftentimes taking a beating, maybe it’s because of the poor quality of their arguments. We have people here who brag about never opening an econ textbook and pride themselves on not knowing basic statistics. But yet those same people don’t understand why their comments provoke a lot of derisive snickering from their betters.

      BTW, what’s so bad about virtue signaling?

      1. Baffling

        I think you give peaktrader far too much credit for the possibility of personal growth. He has demonstrated an inability to learn and grow over several years now.

      2. pgl

        PeakTrader has been a perpetual offender. And we have asked him many times to drop this offensive nonsense. Now may he is – as you suggest – too dense to get the message. But damn!

    4. macroduck

      First, your lie of omission is really not fooling anyone. Saying liberals bad-mouth conservatives without also saying that conservative talk radio and tv and blogs and websites have not made the bad-mouthing of liberals their bread an butter is a crazy-a$$ lie of omission.

      Second, you have offered the lowest form of discourse – what partisan hacks say about partisan hacks – your standard. That’s hardly a surprise, coming from you, but Menzie is free to adopt a higher standard. It’s his blog, not yours.

      And third, lists of arguments like this one should include three points because of the rule of three, but I don’t need three points. Your comment was so weak they a 2/3 effort to rebut it is easily enough. You goal in posting something that weak could only be getting a head-scratch and a “whose a good boy?” from your masters. Nobody else could possibly value nonsense like that.

      1. noneconomist

        Limbaugh has made “liberal” a four letter word for well over 30 years. For years, socialists, communists, traitors have been widely accepted by those on the right if the subject’s views Veered too far from their own.
        Why, even St.Sammy recently bad mouthed the future President elect and his family with accusations of thievery and rampant drug use. But compared to his hero in the White House, his comments are relatively mild even if equally childish.
        Crazy Sammy? Sleepy Sammy? Lyin’ Sammy? Little Sammy? Sound familiar?

  3. pgl

    ‘I Will Not Stand Silent.’ 10 Asian Americans Reflect on Racism During the Pandemic and the Need for Equality

    This looks like an excellent piece which I will read right now. One comment about where I live (Park Slope). We are not that far from Sunset Park which is another interesting part of Brooklyn that has its fair share of Chinese residents. I doubt any of them support the Xi government but all of them live in fear of Trumpian racism. If Princeton Steve does not get this – he needs to get out more in the real world.

  4. pgl

    ‘I think a Chinese-American professor censoring criticism of Xi’s China is a really bad idea.’

    Princeton Steve babbled so much BS that I must have just missed this incredibly dishonest statement of his. NO ONE is censoring criticism of the Xi government. We are condemning the racism of Trump and his sycophants. Unless Princeton Steve has an IQ in the single digits – he knows the difference. Which means he owes an apology for such an insulting statement.

  5. joseph

    Steven Kopits: “If the virus was created or modified in the lab — which I personally think is most plausible …”

    Would you like to apply a confidence interval to that “plausibility?”

    Just wondering. Thanks.

    1. pgl

      Princeton Steve will next tell us that it is plausible that Biden stole the election. Stupid rumors never die.

    2. Steven Kopits

      At a guess, Joseph, I would think that it’s more likely than not that the virus was created or stored at the Wuhan lab. The lab had both the technical experts and the equipment to do so, as I understand it. The coronavirus could have been created in the lab — it is technically possible. The very complexity and multifaceted manifestation of the virus suggests designer input. I read that the Wuhan facility was subject to an exclusion zone in October, based on publicly available cell phone data. The suppression of Chinese experts by Chinese authorities, the destruction of the Wuhan food market without a trace, the lack of cooperation from Chinese authorities, the subsequent issuing of a new security directives to biolabs in China — which applied to the Wuhan lab and maybe one other if I believe what I read — suggests that there was some sort of issue, an escaped pathogen being one. Finally, the whole thing in China smacks of a cover-up, which would be unnecessary if the virus had developed naturally.

      Does that mean the virus came from a lab? As I understand it, it appears this virus could have originated naturally, but there is no documented pathway. So, overall, I think it more likely than not that the virus came from the Wuhan lab. But that does not mean it did.

      That’s also consistent with China’s current state of development. It’s not uncommon for a fast-growing country to see its technical capabilities advance faster than its political and institutional culture. (This relates directly to my comment below.) It’s the kind of accident we might expect at this point in China’s history. So next time, the authorities are probably going to pay close attention to their experts, rather than trying to suppress them. In political circles, the lesson will be: “Let’s not do that again.” And that’s the way institutions develop. This accident was probably predicted in half a dozen technical papers in China, all of which were ignored by higher-ups. (To wit, think 9/11 in the US.) But once the accident happens, power devolves to the technical experts and creates institutional norms and practices. Put another way, it’s disasters like this which create a competent bureaucracy and technocracy over time and better insulate technical professionals from political pressures.

      I’d note that this institutional integrity is exactly what Donald Trump was trying to destroy, with some considerable success at the FDA and CDC. institutional fabric is very valuable: How many times do you want to go through the learning curve with a global pandemic? In any event, if you have some historical sense and a more sophisticated view of institutional capability and organizational development, then you value institutional memory and competence. This is a huge — and perhaps principal — failing on the grassroots right: A total lack of appreciation for what institutions do and mean. Those on the far right have no idea how important these institutions — including the institutional process of elections — are to their own security, liberty and quality of life.

      Having said that, institutions can become hostages of their own traditions and bureaucracy. There is a need to drain the swamp from time to time. And that does include, say, the FDA. (See Alex Tabarrok’s many posts on this over at Marginal Revolution.) The principal failing of bureaucracies is the lack of pressure to consider Type II errors, that is, errors of omission. Everything comes down to Type I errors — errors of commission — and practice easily devolves into CYA compliance exercises. This failing has been glaringly obvious at the FDA.

      You can fix that by changing the compensation of politicians (bureaucracies will follow the object function of their owners — Congress in this case) and using a Three Ideology model. That’s well above everyone’s pay grade here, I think, but it is both technically feasible and necessary to insure the stability of democracy in the coming century.

      I can’t give you a confidence interval in this case regarding the source of the virus. And that’s important. Confidence intervals can be calculated mechanically. But that does not mean they should be, and I would argue they are inappropriate if you are unsure of meaning or quality of your data (eg, the Harvard MPR study). It can create, in the mind of the lay or policy reader, an impression of certainty or confidence that is not warranted by the underlying data or collection methodology.

      1. pgl

        “I would think that it’s more likely than not that the virus was created or stored at the Wuhan lab. The lab had both the technical experts and the equipment to do so, as I understand it. The coronavirus could have been created in the lab — it is technically possible.”

        Utter BS. We had the technical ability to do the same and to plant it in Wuhan. I hope the scientists in China are reading this and I hope they sue you for such garbage.

      2. mac

        The fact that you think (or claim to think) something is, of course, of no consequence at all. This is one of you little poses – implying that your stated opinion carries weight. Paragraph after paragraph of blather, mimicking the look of analysis, aims to create the impression of weight. There is no more reason to believe that the Covid-19 virus was created in a lab than to believe moon landings were faked.

        Your posturing would be amusing if it weren’t so tedious. Please, at least make your poses amusing.

      3. Ulenspiegel

        “At a guess, Joseph, I would think that it’s more likely than not that the virus was created or stored at the Wuhan lab. The lab had both the technical experts and the equipment to do so, as I understand it. The coronavirus could have been created in the lab — it is technically possible.”

        That is most a nonsensical hypothesis. The most likely origin of the virus was according to experts the fur industry in China.

        1. Steven Kopits

          You are asserting that you know, not think, but know that the origins were natural and could not possibly have come from the lab in Wuhan.

          Go ahead. Convince me. Show me the evidence trail.

      4. baffling

        “The very complexity and multifaceted manifestation of the virus suggests designer input.”
        steven, my first impulse was to assign blame to the lab. however, over time the preponderance of evidence suggests it was not from the lab. it also appears that wuhan may not have been the first city, it simply caught fire there. this would sink your lab accusation.
        however, i would like to point out your comment on “designer input”. you are correct. it is called natural selection and evolution. my guess is that you have a high school level education in biology and genetics. probably would be useful to upgrade your knowledge base in this area with some real study of the topic, rather than rely on populist education through the media. not meant to be a put down. most of america has old and limited exposure to these fields today.

        1. Steven Kopits

          Maybe.

          If you gave me a week, I could probably give you a more informed view. I don’t have a week, and frankly, I still have not seen a good, balanced assessment of the whole narrative. I don’t think the behavior of the Chinese government is consistent with someone who thought this was just a natural accident.

          1. baffling

            while there have been a few instances of human involved development and release of pathogens, that number pales in comparison to the number of pathogens that emerge naturally. so if you want to embrace the low probability event, you need to have more evidence than speculation. the light you saw zipping across the sky last night COULD have been a ufo (low probability), but the high probability answer is a meteorite. but my guess is you are not going out and publicly embracing the idea that you saw a ufo last night.
            “If you gave me a week, I could probably give you a more informed view. I don’t have a week,…, ”
            then you probably should not be commenting on the topic to begin with.

          2. baffling

            steven, i’ll give you an article that hints more towards a lab release than natural selection. but i will warn you, based on this article, if you want to claim lab release i think you will agree that us researchers probably played a significant role in the creation of the virus. but it has some nice historical narratives that should interest you.
            https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/coronavirus-lab-escape-theory.html
            if it were lab release, i think you will need to blame more than china for the development of a biological pathogen. the us has been intimately involved in the funding and creation of these items around the world, especially in china.

  6. Steven Kopits

    I was, of course, referring the to banning of PeakTrader for using the term ‘China virus’. I see it as an extreme and discriminatory step. Moreover, because it is by a Chinese-American professor in an attempt to suppress what appears to be implied, but deserved, criticism of Chinese authorities, the optics are terrible and I believe serves no one, and in particular, the Chinese-American community whom you are ostensibly seeking to defend.

    To explain, consider the possible outcomes of the current US relationship with China.

    The Cool War Remains Cool
    Perhaps the best case scenario involves the perpetuation of the current strained relations between China and the US. I do not see it getting much better under Xi. Americans are thus, and likely will remain, edgy with respect to US-China relations. A single article in Breitbart or some other alt-right publication questioning Chinese-American sympathies could do considerable damage. We most certainly do not need such sentiments fanned by a Chinese-American professor banning a commenter for referring to the coronavirus as ‘the China virus.’ Even in the most charitable interpretation, the gross negligence and willful misconduct of Chinese health and political authorities have trashed the global economy and killed more than 300,000 Americans. Censoring a commenter for highlighting this grim situation reflects poorly both individually and, given the polarization of the US body politic, could be one item enlisted for xenophobic rhetoric against the wider Chinese-American community. In a world where 140 Congressmen and 11 Senators are prepared to scrap US democracy, we do not need more censorship or more us-versus-them. No community, including the Chinese-American community, should provide easy ammunition for the far right to demonize them.

    The Cool War Turns Hot
    China’s aggressive actions in Hong Kong, and its subsequent squeeze on Taiwan are signaling that China intends to challenge US hegemony — or at least free use of international waters — in East Asia. Recently, China’s newly minted aircraft carriers have started to shadow US carriers in the Taiwan Strait. Will this remain a shadow conflict, or does Chinese President Xi intend to use those carriers in action? Events in Hong Kong signal that it may be the latter.

    I would add that democracies are historically terrible at deterrence, because the voting public knows it will carry the cost — in lives and treasure — of any material conflict. Upon the German invasion of France, Belgium and the Netherlands in May 1940, the US public by a margin of 93 to 7 wanted to remain out of the war. Only with Pearl Harbor in Dec. 1941 did public fully embrace the prospect of war. For democracies, appeasement is the default option, and that is often interpreted as weakness. History is replete with dictators who mistakenly judged the US and other democracies to lack resolve. These include Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Stalin and Kim Il-Sung in the Korean War, and the example perhaps most telling, Galtieri and the Falklands War. Clearly, this latter war could have been prevented by a single phone call from then President Reagan to Argentine strongman Leopoldo Galtieri, who mistakenly believed the US would remain on the sidelines in the Argentine conquest of the Falklands. That the war occurred at all can be solely blamed on the indecision of the US president.

    Has President Xi paid a high price for the suppression of freedom in Hong Kong? It hardly seems so. Does he believe the US will spill blood and treasure in defense of Taiwan? I think he will put China in the position to force the issue. And if he is like so many dictators before him, he may well underestimate US resolve. After all, what is Taiwan to the United States? This again raises the risk of conflict.

    If that occurs, if say a US carrier is sunk in the Taiwan Strait, the situation for Chinese-Americans in the US will become untenable overnight. The last thing it would need is a track record of Chinese-Americans appearing to suppress criticism of China.

    China needs to become a democracy. Now
    The only truly safe course of action for China, the US and the Chinese-American community is for China to become a functioning democracy. Right now.

    If China continues to develop, then it will by default become a world, and perhaps the world power. This can only be achieved safely in the context of governance in China that respects due process, individual rights, international law, and engages in constructive and cooperative behavior with other nations. In other words, China can only complete its rise to power safely if it is governed by the standards of civil society, and this can likely only be guaranteed by a democratic process. For certain, a China under Xi will be headed — as it has been these last several years — in the wrong direction.

    Call for Democracy in China
    It is my belief that the interest of the Chinese American community — as for other Americans, and indeed the global community — is to call for democracy in China, to do so publicly and persistently, and to compel our lawmakers to do as much. Those who value civil society should commit to universal principles, of which free speech is one. And most of all, we need to commit to universal principles abroad, no more importantly than in China, which holds the world’s future in its hands. China needs to become a democracy. It’s time to start that project.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Steven Kopits: Call for Democracy in Russia
      It is my belief that the interest of the Russian American community — as for other Americans, and indeed the global community — is to call for democracy in Russia, to do so publicly and persistently, and to compel our lawmakers to do as much.

      1. Steven Kopits

        This is comparing a dragon to a dragonfly.

        China is an important country. Russia, but for its nukes, is not. If a global war is to erupt, it will and must involve China. Russia could get involved, but only as an adjunct to China.

        China is developing and will continue to develop, in all likelihood. Within this decade, it will become the economic and military equal of the US. How the relationship between the US and China evolves in this period will determine the lives of every one of us, just as the coronavirus has. And for the same reasons.

        I have spoken of institutional friction above, where China’s political and social culture lags its economic and technical development. We’ve seen this with other countries. But China is systemically important in ways that Russia is not, indeed in ways in which only the US is a peer. The political culture and political development of China is therefore potentially the single most important issue on the planet in the next decade. Imagine that China proves as careless in its military policy as it has in its public health policy. What happens if we get the nuclear war equivalent of the coronavirus by way of institutional learning?

        If we want peace, how then to best insure appropriate governance in China? One can simply wait and hope for the best. That’s our de facto policy, in foreign policy, in economics and in military policy. Maybe that will work.

        But that’s not the trend we’re seeing under Xi. As I look out prospectively, a military confrontation looks more likely than not. And if that confrontation involves critical values regarding how the global system will be operated, then that war could prove utterly disastrous for all of us.

        I believe the best guarantee of peace is a democratic China, and for an important reason. Voters have different incentives than dictators. For dictators, more is better. More power, more money, more land, more people. Dictators tend to be naturally acquisitive at the macro level and that historically leads to war.

        Individuals, however, are not that interested in empires. They just want to live peaceful and prosperous lives with respect for individual rights, due process and political accountability. They are acquisitive only at the micro level, with an incentive to avoid wars which their sons will fight and their taxes will pay.

        I suppose my working assumption is that China should, or perhaps could, become the global hegemon in the world of my children. That does not particularly bother me if that hegemony is providing those traditional public goods provided by Pax Romana, Pax Britannica or Pax Americana. Pax Americana, whatever its faults may be, has spread the greatest prosperity the world has ever seen — with China the primary beneficiary. The US inherited and manned the system of the British. I would not be unhappy if the Chinese inherited and manned the system left by the Americans.

        But that’s not the trend we are seeing in China today. Xi is taking China ever farther from the concept of a universal system operated for the benefit of all. An imperial order, a proper hegemony, must ultimately be underpinned by liberal principles.

        What will it take for China to get there, assuming it does. (And I assume so.) Will we have to do a replay of the coronavirus in the form of a military conflict. I certainly hope not, but expect so.

        Our best chance to avoid that outcome is democracy in China. That’s my view.

        1. pgl

          mac got it right: “Paragraph after paragraph of blather, mimicking the look of analysis, aims to create the impression of weight. There is no more reason to believe that the Covid-19 virus was created in a lab than to believe moon landings were faked. Your posturing would be amusing if it weren’t so tedious. Please, at least make your poses amusing.”

          Get a clue troll – no one is reading your garbage.

    2. pgl

      “because it is by a Chinese-American professor in an attempt to suppress what appears to be implied, but deserved, criticism of Chinese authorities, the optics are terrible and I believe serves no one, and in particular, the Chinese-American community whom you are ostensibly seeking to defend.”

      So if a white economist blogger such as Brad DeLong banned PeakTrader for his incessant racism, the “optics” would be AOK? What Princeton Stevie is suggesting that Chinese-American bloggers have fewer rights than the rest of us? My God – you are even more insulting than PeakTrader.

      Look Stevie – you have your own blog so you are free to run it as you choose. I could care less as I have not checked it out for a good reason – your comments here are long winded spells of utter BS and life is short.

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        pgl: Yes, that’s exactly what Steven Kopits meant – 100%. And I agree the “optics” are bad with anybody who thinks anybody who looks different from the conventional stereotype look of an “American” will never be accepted by many of his/her fellow citizens. And, sadly, he may be right. But one shouldn’t let “optics” guide determining what is right and what is wrong.

        1. Steven Kopits

          “…anybody who looks different from the conventional stereotype look of an “American” will never be accepted by many of his/her fellow citizens. And, sadly, he may be right…”

          As a personal matter, I would always resist this statement.

          From a liberal point of view, interactions should be voluntary. In that world, in comes down to the quality of the individual, not their appearance. My father was the world’s leading orthopedic surgeon for dwarfism, and some of his patients suffered from shocking deformities. When you first saw them, you would draw an involuntary breath. But interestingly, once you sat down and talked to them for an hour, it all sort of disappeared. That’s who they were. That’s liberalism to me. It’s all about the individual, and in my experience, I like individuals from all ethnicities and nations. If you want to have fun, try Latins Americans. If you want hard-working, entrepreneurial people, take the Chinese. In my liberal concept of the world, I want people to be judged by the quality of their character. I think that’s a natural human impulse.

          The high conservative perspective (and I qualify as a high conservative) is curious. It depends on whether you are on the boat or in the water. In this perspective you have no obligation to those outside the group. You don’t have to have open borders. However, if they are in the group — on the boat, as it were — they count as passengers under the captain’s protection. Thus, high conservatism represents universal standards, but only within the group. To wit: I can accept deporting illegal Mexicans. That is legal and within the implicit contract the undocumented made when they crossed the border. I also think it’s cruel and pointless in most cases, but it is legal. On the other hand, if we are not going to deport illegals — and we are not — then they must be given status suitable to live normal lives here. The alternative is a kind of anarchy, a perpetual twilight existence of neither legality nor illegality. It is a cyst on the body politic. This is not conservative at all, and therefore I reject it as immoral from the high conservative perspective. If someone is in your community, then you have to treat them as members of the community, with rights and expectations attendant. That’s regardless of race or religion.

          All this becomes more problematic in the low conservative zone. This is the region of grassroots conservatives where identity does indeed matter a lot. It is an us-versus-them place, and there are people in that group. For them, race and religion can matter a lot. The high conservative has a fiduciary obligation to this group, but that includes restraining certain xenophobic and provincial impulses. Trump did obviously just the opposite: he unleashed the unredacted impulses of the lower middle classes in most unhealthy ways.

          From my perspective, Menzie’s statement makes me sad. I think one should be judged principally by their character. And for me, anyone falling into our group — our nation and our communities — should be treated the same as everyone else. I have no patience with mindless discrimination and absolutely no tolerance for cruelty. I think a good society has standards of comportment, but anyone meeting those standards should be treated with equal respect, kindness and consideration.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: I too think one should be judged by the content of one’s character, rather than the color of one’s skin. Unfortunately, neither the current president, nor perhaps 20% of the electorate, is an adherent of this view. So you can cling to what you *want* the world to be — I’m merely giving my judgment of the way the world is.

            Just sayin’, as one who’s on the receiving end (admittedly in a very light way). Look up references to “Where are you from?” and “Where are you *really* from?”.

          2. pgl

            For a moment Menzie had me reading something you wrote when he wrote:

            “one should be judged by the content of one’s character, rather than the color of one’s skin.”

            Not precisely how MLK (my hero) wrote this but he captured the spirit. You on the other hand have no effing clue – none at all. You do not mind deporting Hispanics? Oh yea – you made a name for yourself denying the deaths of Puerto Ricans after Maria. You know – Trump is disgusting. You are worse. Could you just shut up before you insult everyone? DAMN!

      2. Steven Kopits

        I am generally opposed to banning people, but to the extent that I am, it revolves around comportment, not ideology. The reason to have comments is to engage in debate, including the factual basis of any argument.

        To your question, are Chinese Americans different and is banning related to ethnicity different than for other reasons. I would argue yes on both counts.

        For example, suppose a Spanish website banned PeakTrader for calling the 1918 pandemic the Spanish flu — which is truly a misnomer. Well, first, I would think it a huge overreaction and the blogger something of a jerk. (For the record, I do not think Menzie is a jerk by any means.) But it would not have systemic implications. I doubt 10% of Republicans could find Spain on a map.

        Not so for China. Right now, our relationship with China is strained, and I believe it will become more strained, with an expectation for a military conflict within this decade. Thus, I expect some episode the equivalent of Pearl Harbor prior to 2030. I think I need hardly point out what happened to Japanese-Americans subsequently. The stakes are higher for Chinese-Americans than they are for the Spanish and therefore greater precautions should be taken. Managing optics, as superficial as that may seem, is one example of taking greater precautions.

        Second, the legitimacy of US democracy is under considerable strain from the right. When the left seeks to similarly exclude people and stifle debate — and your behavior is designed to do both, as is Menzie’s banning of PeakTrader — it in essence lowers the left to the level of the right. And that’s a weak position, because the left cannot sell one item of great importance: identity. It can only sell individual liberty (or principal, not agent, to use the Three Ideology Model). If neither system is liberal — in the sense of being open — then the right has a better selling proposition, and the reason that the middle class will typically favor the fascists over the socialists.

        This is even worse if an ethnic component is added. The essence of identity is differentiating ‘us’ from ‘them’ (which a liberal system does not do by definition). In a situation where the US has an evolving enemy — and in the public mind, China’s heading that way now — giving an easy target for segregating one into ‘them’ is a bad idea. A really, really bad idea. It is giving away a freebie that later may become important, depending on how events turn out.

        Now, do I think Menzie is a China apologist? No. Do I think Menzie is thoroughly intimidated by China? Absolutely.

        But he is hardly alone in this.

        Nevertheless, there is a bigger picture. If China follows trend, if this trend leads to open conflict with the US, then Menzie will regret not having taken a more public and determined stand to argue for democracy in China. As I have stated: Our best hope for China’s peaceful rise to superpower status is the rapid development of that country’s internal democracy.

        1. pgl

          Asian Americans are getting beat up just for being Asian. And you dare write that the Chinese are different and have no right to complain about clear racism?

          “When the left seeks to similarly exclude people and stifle debate — and your behavior is designed to do both, as is Menzie’s banning of PeakTrader — it in essence lowers the left to the level of the right.”

          Menzie was not stifling debate dumbass. He was rightfully objecting to sheer and blatant racism. Again – shut the eff up.

          1. Steven Kopits

            Forgive me, calling it ‘the China virus’ is not racist. It is placist. It does not at all mean that all Chinese are bad. It does, however, indicate that the first outbreak was in China and does implicitly point the finger at Chinese authorities. That corresponds to my understanding of the situation. Based on my understanding of event, I believe the carelessness, stupidity and repression of Chinese authorities can be blamed, possibly for the virus itself, and with considerable justification for the uncontrolled outbreak. Was there a colossal screw up in China? Best I can tell, yes.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: Wow. As I wrote earlier, context is important. So I’ll put you in with Trump in terms of views. I’m sure you’ll be of the view “BLM” as a rallying cry is wrongheaded.

          3. Steven Kopits

            Menzie, I don’t mean to pick on you. But banning PeakTrader for calling it the ‘China virus’, when there is a plausible case that Chinese research, security and political authorities trashed the global economy and killed a million people? I think we can reasonably be unhappy about that, and I think banning PeakTrader is an incredibly bad idea for the reasons I have outlined in detail.

            What I see is that everyone is still behaving like its 1995. You, Rogoff, Frankel, my dear uncle, a lot of establishment economists. It’s not. It is not. Your implicit model is that you can win through combat. If the right wants to fake elections, then you can censor non-believers.

            I think that is phenomenally wrong-headed, for two key reasons.

            First, the tide of history is running conservative right now, as I have explained before. I think you are holding a wasting hand and are more likely to lose than win. For goodness sake, if we had not had covid and Trump were just marginally more competent, do you not think he would have been re-elected? What then? You may think American democracy is solid and unassailable. I look at Hungary and am very seriously worried about what could happen here. So, I take nothing for granted, and I believe a strategy based on exclusion and censorship is doomed for the left. That’s my analysis. Disagree if you like.

            Second, the very act of fighting an ideological war is phenomenally destructive, regardless of who wins. Is the intent to make us choose between censorship and loyalty tests? Is that the battle to have? I want none of that.

            Finally, my concern is that cries of racism and BLM devolve into slogans, rather than action. What is the outcome you want? What is the outcome other people want? How can one frame the problem? What are the points of intervention? How do we measure success?

            Where are your technical skills that you spent years acquiring and mastering? What ever happened to actual policy analysis?

            I fear everything has devolved into identity litmus tests and there is very little room for hard core analysis that may actually hurt someone’s feelings. Let me say it again, I believe we have just dodged a very big bullet, but I think the underlying social forces remain intact and that historical trends favor them. And further, the rise of China under Xi represents very great, and potentially existential, risks whether or not President Xi grasps the implications of his actions.

            Therefore, I think it is time to start looking for new tools, new approaches and a little moral courage.

            If you want to take me to task in a piece entitled, “Should Economists Really Call for Democracy in China?” Go ahead. I welcome it.

        2. Barkley Rosser

          Steven,

          I have stayed out of this discussion until now, but I seriously think you owe Menzie an apology. You stated that “Do I think Menzie is thoroughly intimidated by China? Absolutely.” You have absolutely zero grounds for this insulting claim, which he has rather gently pointed out is not to be taken seriously. But somehow you have it in mind that he must run around loudly demanding democracy in the PRC, and if he does not and instead bans PT for saying “China virus” after Trump and some of his followers have repeatedly used that phrase in an openly hostile and racist way, Menzie must have done this out of somehow being intimidated by the PRC.

          I shall go further than others have. Most have got it that Menzie takes these clearly racist comments very seriously because they have been directed at “his ethnic group and community.” Yes, but I suspect it is more than that. I suspect it is personal. He is afraid for himself and his family very personally as a result of this, not just the broader ethnic community to which he belongs, even though Madison is a mostly liberal progressive place. But it is not completely so. A half century ago Bill Dyke was elected mayor there, who in 1976 was the running mate for VP of Lester “Ax-Handle” Maddox, notoriously racist former Governor of Georgia (no Jimmy Carter he), who ran for president.

          I think Menzie dinged well your bizarre demand that somehow he become some major voice in some campaign to turn China “into a democracy” with his remark about maybe Russian-Americans should be running around demanding that Russia become a democracy. As someone married to a Russian-American, this gets personal for me. But it also shows a serious flaw in your whole push. If the PRC were to become a democracy, would that mean that it would stop asserting its power vis a vis neighbors and the US position in the world?

          After all, your family is from Hungary, which is technically a democracy, with Orban calling it an “illiberal democracy.” Menzie sort of joked about Russian-Americans demanding Russia become a democracy, but technically it is. Heck, the US won the Cold War, and the command socialist economy and the USSR itself were ended, with nominal democracy and a peculiar version of market capitalism installed. And what do we have? A democratically elected and according to most polls still supported by a larger percentage of the population than Trump ever has been in the US leader in Putin invading neighbors and conquering their territory. We have nominally democratically elected Erdogan in Turkey, also supposedly supported by a majority of his population, also invading neighbors.

          By all accounts nationalist sentiment is rising strongly in China. If it were to become a democracy, it is likely it would become one of these illiberal nationalist ones like Russia or Turkey or Hungary, and any elected president of it would probably continue to assert Chinese interests abroad, in the ways you have been whining about, possibly even more vigorously than it does now.

          So, Steven, I think you owe Menzie a pretty substantial apology.

          1. Steven Kopits

            “Do I think Menzie is thoroughly intimidated by China? Absolutely.”

            That’s what I think. If Menzie wants to run a post, “Why Economists Should Call for Democracy in China” or something similar, I am happy to apologize and retract my statement. That we should be having this discussion at all, Barkley, is a measure of the intimidation. I honestly do not know why a formal, determined and persistent call for democracy in China is not a priority for pretty much anyone in business or government. But it’s clearly not, unless you care to find me a paper trail.

            So, sure. Give me a reason to apologize beyond two small bullet points hidden in a comment reply.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: Why should I — an American with no financial interest in China (unlike our current president) — be intimidated? I don’t have any close relatives in the country. I don’t plan to be moving there. I don’t plan to work there. I don’t plan to be working with any public or private entities there.

            So why pick me out to call me intimidated. I’ll let the non-blind answer.

            You will get your wish – a full-fledged post on the subject on why you should apologize.

          3. Steven Kopits

            OK, so let me again distinguish Russia from China.

            I have no problem with Russia being a democracy, and I would welcome a more established democracy there. My concern, however, is that democracy must, as some level, exist in the hearts of the people. I don’t know that the Russians have arrived at that point emotionally and psychologically. Therefore, if I were to prioritize, I think the more important thing is good governance. And we know how to achieve that, although liberals are loath to entertain the thought. But Russia is not systemically important, except in the context of a war that includes China.

            As an Eastern European, I am sorry to say that I think more highly of the Chinese public than I do of the Russians. China is a country well on the way to being middle class with a large portion of the population prepared to undertake the obligations of a civilized country. Democracy works in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Of course, it’s been imperfect and taken time to develop. And that’s ok. But there has to be a start.

            I have every expectation that President Xi would be returned to power given a free election in China. And I don’t mind that. But if you depend on the electorate, then cracking down on Hong Kong or disappearing Jack Ma is something that might make you unpopular. And if there’s anything an elected official hates, it’s being unpopular. Standing for public election, therefore, puts certain constraints around a politician and tends to force behavior back towards the median voter. And I’m ok with that.

            Again, my primary concern with China is not its internal governance. Nor is it with China’s rise to power. If Li Keqiang were president, I would probably be reasonably relaxed, democracy or no, because I would have faith in the sophistication of leadership — just as I did before Xi. Best I can tell, Xi is just another unsophisticated, power-hungry dictator. He is a risk — a risk to China (already manifest), a risk to the US (already manifest), and the risk to the rest of the world (already manifest).

            So what if Xi screws up in a military confrontation with the US the way China screwed up with the coronavirus? What then?

            If you take out your ruler and draw a line through recent events, where does that take your forecast? For me, it would seem to suggest a military showdown in the South China Sea before 2030. Is that not the most plausible, or at least a reasonably plausible, outcome?

            If that happens, you’ll be nostalgic for the pandemic, back when days were good by comparison.

          4. Steven Kopits

            It is events in Hungary and across the globe that concerns me. As you know, I use the Three Ideology Model. This was developed in Hungary based on events I observed there, the most notable of which was the migration of the fiscal conservatives / free marketers (SZDSZ) to the left, the left, in 1994, to cohabit with their former jailers, the Socialists. What that told me then, and events around the world show us now, is that the median voter boundary moved with the collapse of communism. Whereas before the egalitarians were on the left and the fiscal conservatives were on the proximate right, today, the social conservatives are right on the median voter boundary and the fiscal conservatives are on the immediate left. Thus, the ‘active’ front in politics is no longer between socialists and fiscal conservatives, but between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives.

            And social conservatives can be a dangerous bunch, because identity can trump enlightened self-interest. Loyalty can beat reason. We’ve all seen that now with the last election.

            But here’s the thing: the natural left-right divide is between the principal and the agent, between desire and duty, between our self interest and our social obligations. That puts the classical liberals on the left, as they were in Britain pre-1918. That’s the organic split, and it’s not likely to go away in a world with slower economic growth and an aging population. So, the current left-right divide is potentially durable. Social conservatives may crowd the median voter boundary for centuries to come.

            And it’s much worse than that. Look at Hungary. The conservatives control both sides of the median voter boundary, by a great margin. In Hungary, 70% of voters voted for the right or far right. The socialists and free marketers combined control only 20% of the seats in parliament. And I think those trends are headed our way, to wit, Trump’s notable inroads with Hispanics and blacks.

            So what should we do about it? If you think censorship and banning is a good idea, it is, on the right. That’s the stuff of loyalty tests, not individual rights and reason. That can work for the Trumpians. But it’s a dead end for the left, because the left is literally built on the rights of the individual. So it’s about beefing up the pitch of fiscal conservatism (by extension, largely burying egalitarianism) and creating structures to better channel the impulses of the conservative right (and not all these impulses are bad, by the way).

            If one is to take the route of ad hominem attacks and censorship, then the strategy is one of direct confrontation, of win or lose, regardless of the merits of the argument. For now, time is not on the side of the liberals. I think it’s a bad strategy.

            But if not that, what then?

          5. Barkley Rosser

            Steven,

            Well, I think Menzie has spoken pretty eloquently and definitively for himself. You are wrong and you even more seriously owe him an apology after this digging in on your ridiculous charge. He is not and there is no reason for him to be. It is appalling that you have not only made this charge, but doubled down on it. Time to apologize, big time.

            I would note that he has played it straight in terms of discussing China, with most of his comments focused on economic issues, the main focus of this blog, with him presenting lots of discussion of the trade war and somewhat less on Chinese forex policy and a few other matters. I do not see him having pushed either a strongly pro or strongly anti China position in any of these discussions.

            So, again, you really super duiper owe him a huge apology, Steven.

          6. Barkley Rosser

            Steven,

            China has a larger and growing economy than does Russia. It is arguably more important “systemically” than Russia. But Russia and the US are the only nations in the world with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out the human species by setting them off. China may be heading to join them in that particular club, but it has a ways to go.

            I think you are weirdly naive that democracy in PRC would somehow reduce its bad behavior, given the nationalist surge there. Putin has tossed various oligarchs in jail on trumped up charges to public applause. He has annexed Crimea and invaded parts of eastern Ukraine, again to applause. Indeed, when a nation is full of surging nationalism as China is, aggressively asserting perceived national interests abroad is an old method of gaining popularity, certainly in democracies.

            I agree that things in Hungary are bad news. Now they have not invaded any of those neighbors they continue make noises about owning territory of, but in fact Humgary is democratic, and unfortunately it is a, if not the, poster boy for how aggrieved nationalism in a nation can lead to all sorts of unpleasant outcomes even within a largely democratic context, which Orban has been gradually chipping away at for some time.

          7. Steven Kopits

            Barkley –

            I think Menzie’s next piece is at least a partial start, a ‘B’ effort, and I’ll give him a ‘B’ apology. Good start. Thank you for taking, even if tentatively, a stand, Menzie.

            Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the ban on PeakTrader, I would never have touched the topic. But being banned for calling it the China virus when Menzie tolerates all sorts of ad hominem attacks? Please.

            On the other hand, if did give me an opportunity to ponder my expectations for the Sino-US relationship. Implicitly, I expected it to come to war, but that was the first time I had actually articulated the matter to myself. If it does, well, that’s going to be bad.

          8. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: If ad hominem were prohibited, there’d be only 50% comments remaining.

            The policy is prohibiting racist/bigoted/misogynistic comments – and all those are judgment calls. I think most people will understand why I made these calls on PT and The Rage.

        3. baffling

          “Our best hope for China’s peaceful rise to superpower status is the rapid development of that country’s internal democracy.”
          steven, you do not achieve this by trying to force another country to become a democracy. you achieve this by showing the world the best version of democracy yourself, and demonstrate the results. if you want others in the world to embrace democracy, you need to show it works and is successful. right now in the usa, the republican party with trump is demonstrating that democracy is not a shining example for which other nations should aspire. if you want to tell other nations how to run their country, you better have your own house in order.

          1. Steven Kopits

            See my comment, I think it is above.

            I think we are re-asserting our commitment to democracy and democratic norms with the election of Joe Biden.

            At the same time, I don’t think you can act sequentially. I don’t think you can wait for for perfect democracy in the US before calling for democracy in China. Again, China’s internal governance is not of paramount importance to me of itself, but because China under the current system is a potentially mortal threat to all of us, in that a China under Xi is unlikely to be able to accede to superpower status without a test of force.

            Finally, I personally think that the current version of democracy in the advanced countries has run its course. I believe it is time to professionalize politics, and one does that by tying pay to performance. The Three Ideology model provides the framework for that.

          2. baffling

            “I think we are re-asserting our commitment to democracy and democratic norms with the election of Joe Biden.”
            only committed by approximately half of the country. the other half of the country is showing the rest of the world how to derail a democracy. we are not a shining example, even if/when biden takes control. we showed a lot of flaws in the democratic system. we are setting it up so the half the population can say “he is not my president” and will continue to follow the will of their “true” leader trump. that is not a normal functioning democracy, when the losing side does not concede.

  7. Not Trampis

    Sorry Menzie but this banning is silly.

    Look I have little time for either PT nor for people calling a virus from whence it came but saying this is racist???
    A person who calls a virus from whence it come is a prat but the reasoning on being a racist is quite specious to me.

    It is your blog and you make as many silly decisions as you like.

    The USA is a strange place

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Not Trampis: When one has been enduring 10 months of “China virus” and “Kung Flu” rhetoric emanating from Mr. Trump, it seems context is useful in considering whether a term is racist/xenophobic.

      1. macroduck

        Menzie, many blogs maintain more stringent standards than yours. They do so in part to encourage valuable discourse in comments. Your comment section is routinely overrun by back-and-forth over troll comments, making discussion of real interest, such as for instance discussion of your actual post, unlikely. Ban the guy with the inflated-ego-handle for racism. Ban him for idiocy. Ban him for irrelevance.. Ban him for bad breath. Just ban him, and make the world a better place. You deserve better commenters.

        Life is to short to put up with trolls. It’s your blog.

          1. baffling

            steven, you have a control freak problem. you want to tell other nations how to run their government. and you want to tell others how to run their blogs.

            I made a comment previously, but i will repeat the essence of it here. the best way to get others to operate “your” way, is to demonstrate clearly how “your” way is the path to success. be it a blog or a nation. create an example for others to follow. stop telling others how to run their business. if your own blog was successful, you would have far more credibility in telling others how to operate.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: In an ideal world, people would write under their own names. In an ideal world, people would understand statistical theory before writing about statistics.

          3. baffling

            “Say it with your own name, Baffs, and lay claim to some credibility.”
            anonymity and credibility are not mutually exclusive constructs steven. i guess you need to read up on history, publius.
            “Using your own name only requires courage.”
            no it does not. are you saying that many of the founding fathers lacked courage? really steven, this was a silly comment on your part. it is an act of machismo, not logic.

      2. Not Trampis

        Sorry mate but as we say down under it doesn’t pass the pub test.
        It is your blog however.

        I live in a suburb in Sydanee that is heavily populated by people of chines origin. Those clever ducks were wearing measks before any of us realised what was going on.

          1. Moses Herzog

            Stop it, my Dad used to drive our family out towards the center of the city on weekend mornings for dim sum. I’m gaining more weight lately and you’re making me hungry.

        1. Dr. Dysmalist

          Not Trampis:

          Just as Kopits’s going on and on about the CCP’s policies and/or actions is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, so is your observation about the timeliness of mask-wearing by people of Chinese descent in Sydney’s suburbs. I assume that the fact that you don’t live here means that you’re unaware of the way that Trump and the MAGAmorons have made “China Virus” into a thoroughly racist reference. The reason attendees at his rallies cheer so loudly every time he uses the phrase is because it’s now completely racist, especially with his frequent mispronunciations of “China.” That’s why they love it so much.

          It may not seem like a big deal Down Under, but here it’s a great big effin’ deal. Those who use the phrase, including Trump, are signalling to other racists, and they think the rest of us don’t get it, or don’t completely get it. In reality, they may as well wear swastikas and white KKK hoods. That would be equally as subtle.

          If PeakTrader is 1% as smart as he thinks he is, he understands this. His use of the phrase in a blog comment simply illustrates his extremely low regard for the rest of us relative to his extremely high regard for himself. He thought he could get away with it because he thinks the rest of us are so stupid.

          The ban is plainly good riddance to bad rubbish.

          1. Not Trampis

            The mask comment was of course irrelevent it was a mere observation. As for the racism issue if it is such a big deal I would have thought you could express why it is better,

      3. Moses Herzog

        This was my thought on it I stated on December 28 before the correct decision to ban PT for using this terminology. I thought it must have been one of my greatest thoughts ever on this blog because Barkley Junior labeled it “barely coherent” which is kind of like the blog version of being awarded 20 Michelin stars:
        http://econbrowser.com/archives/2020/12/state-gdp-relative-to-national-peak#comment-246616

        What’s the old saying about porn?? “It’s hard to define but you know it when you see it” ??? I think that in this case, we all know why PT and Kopits enjoy using this terminology. It’s purely for sadistic and embittered reasons. They feel threatened because they know China is gaining in international stature. And whatever we feel personally about the morality and ethics of Beijing leadership, this is a reality some people cannot face~~and lash out in consequence, in ways which are not productive to ANYONE. Other than folks like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, QAnon, Breitbart, AlexJones and one and on and on who profit from that feeling of threat from China.

        If a 12 year old wandered on this blog and said “the _____ virus” should they be banned?? NO, but they should be corrected and guided to the more educated way of expressing it. PT and Kopits are not 12 years old.

  8. Not Trampis

    two picky notes

    The spanish flu did not come from spain. It was named thus because they did not fight in the great war.

    The new strain did not come from England but South Africa

      1. macroduck

        They apparently share some, but not all, mutations. Which came first is unlikely to be obvious to the casual observer.

  9. rjs

    re: Context is important

    i’ve seen a quite a bit of use of the “Chinese flu” name around the web and it all seems to be racist in intent, often with the sub-context of absolving Trump for the mess he’s made of the US response….i haven’t seen any use of that terminology as if were a proper name for that virus…

    there’s also some use of the terms “Wuhan flu” which generally carries more of the “placist” connotation that your reader defends…that might be a passable slang alternative…

  10. ltr

    A single article in Breitbart or some other alt-right publication questioning Chinese-American sympathies could do considerable damage. We most certainly do not need such sentiments fanned…

    [ Guy is threatening people of Chinese descent; this is of course a repeat of a threat by the guy. We have had a President, who used prejudice as a tool and in so doing fostered and cultivated prejudice. The legacy of prejudice that this president leaves will be troublesome, but will be overcome. The guy threatening people of Chinese descent, for possibly having improper sympathies is scary, but will be forgotten. However, the threatening scariness of the guy needs to be pointed to. ]

  11. ltr

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/15/opinion/trump-twitter-racist.html

    July 15, 2019

    Racism Comes Out of the Closet
    The dog whistle days are apparently over.
    By Paul Krugman

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/29/opinion/trump-racist.html

    July 29, 2019

    A Racist Stuck in the Past
    In Trump’s mind, it’s still 1989.
    By Paul Krugman

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/opinion/tulsa-race-massacre-racism.html

    June 18, 2020

    Tulsa and the Many Sins of Racism
    The ugly story didn’t end with the abolition of slavery.
    By Paul Krugman

    [ Paul Krugman repeatedly sought to teach what this President has been about. ]

    1. pgl

      “In reality, violent crime in America’s big cities is near historical lows, and all the available evidence suggests that immigrants are, if anything, less likely than the native-born to commit crimes. But the association between nonwhites and crime is a deeply held tenet among white racists, and no amount of evidence will shake their belief.”

      Even before Trump – Joe Lotto (RUDY’s boy) ran for mayor against Bill deBlasio with a true dog whistle campaign. Lotto reminded us that the last Democratic mayor was black (he was a good mayor even if RUDY attacked him) and that deBlasio’s wife is black. Our crime rate was way down but Lotto pretended that was all due to RUDY (not true) and if we elected deBlasio crime would rage out of control. The most galling part was an ad on the R train (the one I often use) showing a 50ish white lady in fear of something, which of course the subtle message being there was some black dude on the train about to attack her. Fortunately Lotto got only 25% of the vote for his dog whistle campaign.

    2. The Rage

      About Zionism and supporting China through back channels via control of him via debt??? That is what Drumpf is. A con man globalist. A lackey for segments of the elite seeking $$$$ fracture.

  12. Moses Herzog

    I want to go no record here, as one who consumes a pretty good deal of both general blog content but one who especially consumes economics blog content. This blog is one of the most tolerant of “over the line” comments in all of Economics blogging, and arguably blogging period. . I want to add that generally I view that as a strong point of the blog (a positive attribute), rather than as a negative. Kwak and Johnson (of the formerly iconic and technocrat weighty “Baselinescenario” blog) also had an incredibly tolerant view on allowing semi-offensive comments on the blog. I am hopeful that this policy will be retained, and as of this moment, I see no “change” in that regard. Menzie has many aspects he has to think about which “we” as readers may sometimes forget (I am aware of these things, but have to confess to intermittently “forgetting” them at my own convenience):

    —-How Menzie is viewed from what appears here by his collegial peers

    —-The perception of Menzie by his students, female, Asian, white, LGBTQ etc.

    —-HIs own sense of morals/ethics, whether that contradicts what commenters say, but are allowed to say in the name of open discussion.

    —- TIME in cleaning out comments, for whatever reasons. This is one I feel a modicum of guilt as far as pushing things on vulgarity (which sometimes I feel “necessary” for strength on point or to vent anger). I also feel guilty about sometimes putting up YT music links here when enjoying adult beverages (which I am hopeful Menzie has filtered, but am actually afraid to go back to those threads and look). Whether Menzie lets those comments in or not, it takes TIME Menzie really doesn’t have to clear them out, but donates to us readers in kindness and I suspect out of Menzie’s strong belief in furthering people’s knowledge/education.

    —-Imagine what Menzie’s family and Asian friends think when reading these things, and how he hears about it. ALL of us are subject to feeling very hurt, when our own interest group or our own community feels “let down” because they feel (rightly or wrongly) they have been “let down” by a lack of defense. Again, I do not know but suspect Menzie has had to internally swallow a lot of this hurt from some in the Asian community who feel he does not filter ENOUGH which Menzie remains neutral on in operation of the blog, but probably hurts on an internal level (as it would any normal human being).

    I suspect (but do not know) Menzie allows what some view as a “free for all” in comments because his parents taught him (along with Menzie’s own obvious appreciation for World and American History) how society is when people aren’t allowed open dialogue to find the best answers and open dialogue to let out emotions, which when those emotions are “capped” inside people, tend to come out eventually in more damaging and destructive ways over time.

    I believe readers here (maybe I include myself here to some degree) have been spoiled by Menzie’s tolerance, and because of being spoiled we have lost an appreciation for how much Menzie has allowed all views on here. I hope he does NOT change on this. I do not believe the PT ban is “a change” in a very well outlined precedent Menzie has set here. Just because the parents (read blog host) is kind, and the children (read blog readers) act a little spoiled sometimes, does not mean the parent hasn’t been clear in where the lines of behavior are.

    1. Moses Herzog

      * First sentence in my above comment should read “go ON record”. In my next reincarnated life I plan on being a better typist and better proofreader. Wish me good luck on that one.

  13. Moses Herzog

    Out of respect to Menzie, who must have a piercing headache due to all these horsey puck comments, I will state my thought in a more subdued fashion, but I think everyone here will get my point. “Princeton”Kopits comments are just as bad or worse than PT’s comments in a “certain regard”. I also believe it is the blog host’s right alone to make that call. I’m left wondering what this aside by Kopits actually meant??
    “and even the Burmese (Myanmarese? yuck.) ”
    https://econbrowser.com/archives/2021/01/the-current-administrations-current-official-economic-forecast#comment-246851

    I’m very happy to be educated on what “yuck” was made in reference to here. I’ve never heard word terminology selection referred to as “yuck” before, and if the correct word usage is Burmese, why not just say Burmese and leave it at that???….. but…… as I’ve mentioned before, my mind works differently than others.

  14. Dr. Dysmalist

    I’m a late middle aged white man living in the Midwest, so I don’t have an ethnic or racial stake in the use of the phrase. The first several to many times I heard the words “China Virus” were from Trump himself, in long video clips from one of his rallies, and from several of his rallies at that. To my honky ears, there is no question that Trump used it and meant it as a racial slur. Absolutely no question.

    To my mind, anyone else using the phrase after Trump did is trying to a) piggyback on Trump’s slur while maintaining a (very weak) claim to impartiality, b) a monumental idiot, or c) both. C is the most likely option.

    Now, as someone who has seen the benefits of inclusivity to several groups in real life, I absolutely deplore the use of those words. Anyone using them should be subject to sanctions, up to and including banishment from a blog. At some point, each of the Usual Suspects has posted at least one comment that should have gotten them banned, in my opinion. If the extremely long grace period granted to them is over, so be it. I for one will mourn not a bit.

  15. The Rage

    Maybe it can be the Italian cold as the global variants seem to start there??? It started through the bat meat trade from Vietnam in 2019. China loves that meat. The early stages were much less contagious.

    1. pgl

      China imports meat from Vietnam? Our Russian bot has gone full blown racist. Come on Rage – cut the garbage.

      1. Willie

        Batshit insane is an appropriate descriptor, considering the context of the Rage’s comments.

  16. joseph

    A big part of Donald Trump’s appeal is that he gave the racists permission to be openly racist again. A big part of why they are so devastated by his election loss is that they will have to go back to suppressing their inner racism. It’s eating them alive and they really don’t like it.

    I’m all for eliminating the pollution of the discourse. Nobody is required to give them a platform. Turning a blind eye to it just emboldens them to go even further. As much as they don’t like it, you have to just tell them “No.”

        1. The Rage

          He is jewish. Fully on his father’s side and partially on his mother’s. Classic lapsed Ashkenazi family who then hides. Ivana was similar in her Ashkenazi heritage and Ivanka basically went back to middle ages religion. You guys are the ones being played.

          1. Barkley Rosser

            Oh wow, you had not fully exhibited your adherence to wacko anti-Semitic conspiracy theories here before, “The Rage.” Frankly, if Menzie is going to ban people, you look like the obvious next candidate, even ahead of Moses Herzog (not a Jew, in case you did not catch it). Tell us, do you also believe that the Holocaust did not happen or maybe was just exaggerated?

          2. Moses Herzog

            @ Barkley Junior
            Your comment here is rather ironic, as no one here has played footsie more with “Princeton”Kopits than YOU have, LONG after he made it known what he is. HINT: It rhymes with bassist.

            I’ve never interacted with the guy other than to call him out for what he is. He even claimed at least three times the reason he went on hiatuses from this blog was because of me. His hiatuses from this blog are the greatest flattery I have received here, other than your laughable attempts at insulting me. All I have to do to know how to classify your attacks on me, is watch you masquerade as “Mr. Lexicon” with Professor Frankel and Professor Chinn less than a month after you had to have the acronym “GNP” spoonfed to you.

            I’ve never humored Kopits, anymore than I have humored you, which is in YOUR mind my real “crime”, amongst your grab-bagging for every other reason under the sun.

          3. Barkley Rosser

            Moses,

            Wow, you are really effed up here. Can you read? Have you been drinking again before commenting?

            This is about “The Rage,” not Steven Kopits. TR is doing a full-on anti-Semitic conspiracy frenzy here. I half expect him to start accusing the group in question of pedophiling in non-existent basements of pizza parlors or eating Christian children before Easter, he is that bad. This is not about SK.

            As for knowing about what Nassim Taleb means when using the term “black swans,” I am the expert here, not you or Jeffrey Frankel (he was wise not to respond to my accurate comment on the different thread).

            Regarding language in China, I know you spent time there, but do you actually know enough Chinese or about China to get in the middle of a discussion between Menzie and me about certain usages there?

    1. pgl

      “A big part of Donald Trump’s appeal is that he gave the racists permission to be openly racist again.”

      At first I did not think Princeton Steve was a racist. But the more this pathetic gas bag writes – the more I realize he is a flaming racist. He just dressed up in fancy prose. Bill Buckley did the same thing but anyone who ever followed his garbage at the National Review realized that Buckley was nothing more than an overeducated member of the KKK.

    2. 2slugbaits

      joseph I very much agree with the premise of your first paragraph, but I come to a different conclusion. As I see it, one of the dangers of banning people is that instead of having their views challenged they simply migrate to another echo chamber platform that reinforces their views. Closet racists only suppress their inner racism when they are concerned that they will be called out for those views and shamed. The explosion in right-wing crazy platforms provides people like PeakTrader and CoRev the opportunity to disarm their superego and let their id run wild. The point of correcting and shaming someone like PeakTrader is not to get him to change his mind…that’s never going to happen. The point is to engage in some consciousness raising for the many silent readers who otherwise might not have given much thought to the hurtful words.

      All that said, there have to be limits as to how much a site owner should tolerate. As I said before, my own view is that there’s more value in shaming PeakTrader than there is in banning him, but that’s always a judgment call. By nature I’m probably more tolerant than most people Maybe it’s my Chicago upbringing.

  17. Willie

    Let us just call it the Trump disease and be done with it. No chance of that being misconstrued, and it is accurate.

    1. pgl

      Geraldo want to name the vaccine after Trump. Of course Geraldo has the same emotional disorder that infects Princeton Steve – he wants attention from the Faux News crowd. So yea it’s the Trump disease!

  18. joseph

    2slugbaits: ” As I see it, one of the dangers of banning people is that instead of having their views challenged they simply migrate to another echo chamber platform that reinforces their views.”

    Let them go and good riddance. They come with their incendiary words and dare you to shame them. In the age of Trump, your attempt at shaming just reaffirms their rightness. They revel in getting everyone worked up. It’s fun and entertainment for them.

    It’s better you don’t play their game. Don’t give them a platform for abuse. Cut off their public oxygen. They will get bored in their own racist echo chamber.

    You don’t shame them. You don’t try to reason with them. You tell them “No, you do not get to do this.”

    “The point is to engage in some consciousness raising for the many silent readers who otherwise might not have given much thought to the hurtful words.

    And that is exactly what you do by cutting the racists off. Your hypothetical “silent readers” get the message that abusive behavior is off limits.

    1. The Rage

      Racists??? Most of his types are Zionists and whites who have fantasies of being the mythical Israelites. Their racism is self hatred. Not much difference than a guilty white liberal mantra when it comes to “wealth”.

      Your out of touch and it shows. Trump is the Jewish con man. Turn the deck on the Jewish man and watch his con implode. He hates America, loves foreigners.

      1. Barkley Rosser

        The Rage,

        Trump is not Jewish. You are completely deluded. Now we get why you are so obsessed with debt. It is all about those evil “International Bankers” who are we all know what. Just how much of the garbage in The Elders of Zion do you actually believe?

      2. Menzie Chinn Post author

        The Rage: I have judged your comment “Your out of touch and it shows. Trump is the Jewish con man. Turn the deck on the Jewish man and watch his con implode. He hates America, loves foreigners” as violating Econbrowsers no-racist code of conduct. You are banned effective 1/4/2020 — MDC.

  19. Moses Herzog

    I am aware Reddit is viewed as a hangout for “cis” males, etc, and like many stereotypes, there’s a thread of truth in that. But there are also some clever people there, and topics, such as statistics, econometrics, statistics software, and i have seen things elucidated on Reddit, which are rarely covered on Twitter, YT, and many other mainstream sites. It’s like anything. it’s a tool, and it’s usually how YOU choose to use it. I’d rank Reddit above Facebook for example. Anywayz, this is some pretty funny stuff I found there recently, some of them “memes” which I thought hit the mark very accurately. I thought these might save Menzie time over my YT links, and there was even a faint chance Menzie might enjoy them himself.

    https://i.redd.it/0jffkbftn6961.jpg

    https://i.redd.it/5oftyqcoy0961.jpg

    https://i.redd.it/2ke33tu5u0961.jpg

    https://i.redd.it/3wy3f34zm5961.png

    https://i.redd.it/gdrx6ntb86961.jpg

    https://i.redd.it/pi4sen4jn6961.jpg

    https://i.redd.it/htff498ck1961.png

    Here is the audio tape that Dan Rather is making reference to. The long version:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/audio-trumps-full-jan-2-call-with-ga-secretary-of-state/2021/01/03/3f9426f4-7937-4718-8a8e-9d6052001991_video.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/d45acb92-4dc4-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

    How is donald trump not prosecuted for this?? This is open intimidation of election officials. If donald trump does not go to federal prison for this—we’re looking at a dark future for America, because if there is no serious punitive action on this for donald trump, other U.S. Presidents will try it again.

    1. Barkley Rosser

      Apparently Trump has now sued Raffensperger for recording his phone call, although in GA is it OK for one party to record a call without the other’s consent, so his suit will be thrown out. Plus, while he argues in the suits that the call was “strictly private,” he tweeted about it this morning, lying about its content. Really seriously losing it.

      1. pgl

        A 4 minute clip of the call is online. Trump is just one giant baby full of bluster and all sorts of dumb lies.

  20. Kien

    Interesting issue. It’s possible that the reluctance to say anything nice about the CCP or Xijinping (for fear of being criticised or labelled as a communist sympathetiser) is a form of censorship.

    The CCP has undoubtedly made mistakes but we ought to be able to recognise its achievements without feeling embarrassed to do so.

    1. Barkley Rosser

      This is not going to change practice here, but I note that the serious academics on China call it the “CPC,” not the “CCP.”

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        Barkley Rosser: Current State Department usage seems to be CCP. In any case, if I were forced to use my high school Chinese to translate “zhongguo gongchandang”, I would say “Chinese Communist Party”.

        1. Barkley Rosser

          OK, Menzie. I’ll go with the Chinese translation and current State Dept usage. I think the “CPC” usage is some older academics. That usage was indeed more conventional in the past. This might sort of be like the switch from Wade-Giles to Pinyin, although some places still use the former, with this an issue in Taiwan between the political parties, with different parts of Taiwan using one versus the other depending on which party is in charge locally, although maybe this fight there has ended more recently and all have gone with Pinyin.

  21. Moses Herzog

    I’m very afraid it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for Menzie. I think in the final analysis, Menzie has to weigh things in terms of his own conscience, but not to let extreme conscience to readers rob him of his sanity.

  22. sammy

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law …..abridging the freedom of speech….

    I understand this is a private blog and so the 1st Amendment need not apply. But the reasoning behind the establishment of this right might should be respected: that the free exchange and competition of ideas is a component of liberty, and results in a greater good.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      sammy: Nothing is absolute. You can’t shout “fire” in a dark, crowded theater, with impunity.

      And yes, this is a private blog. Mr. Trump seems to have no compunctions about threatening the freedom of the press, and I don’t hear much if anything about it from you. Asymmetric treatment of this nature seems, well, you can think of the term.

    2. 2slugbaits

      sammy PeakTrader was not banned because of his opinions, erroneous as those are. Let me remind you that he was banned for using what was clearly a racist trope. Now as it happens your reaction and inability to understand the difference is one reason why I would not have banned PeakTrader if it were my blog. It’s this kind of confusion over the reasons for banning someone that leads many conservatives to wrongly believe they are being banned for their political views rather than violating norms of basic civility. As it is, PeakTrader and others like him are likely to retreat into rightwing echo chambers where their views will not be challenged. The long run effect will be that racist tropes will be normalized even further because no one will shame him.

      FWIW, I agree with Barkley Rosser’s comment that TheRage’s anti-Semitic posts are worse than PeakTrader’s.

      1. baffling

        ” Now as it happens your reaction and inability to understand the difference is one reason why I would not have banned PeakTrader if it were my blog. ”
        i think you are under the impression that sammy is different from a peak trader, corev or rick stryker on this blog. he is not. there is no ability to “rehabilitate” him. it is not an inability to understand. there is no desire to understand, and not much you or anyone else can do to change his mind. the intent is not truth, it is to win the propaganda war at any cost. former high school football players trying to relive the “glory days” of winning.

    3. pgl

      Sammy – start your own blog. I’m sure the racists will be glad to continue their hate filled garbage at your place.

      But do tell – how is attacking someone because of their race part of free exchange and competition of ideas? Or did you just toss these words out there not understanding their meaning as they sounded high minded?

      Justify racism is something only you could do!

    4. pgl

      https://www.adl.org/blog/reports-of-anti-asian-assaults-harassment-and-hate-crimes-rise-as-coronavirus-spreads?fbclid=IwAR0GUvEfpZbEMUEz9Dwgn29ZbI5mu80Q52QSZEbBMttCJDvGw6MGwJ29QTE

      Amid the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, there are surging reports of xenophobic and racist incidents targeting members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in the U.S. Since January 2020, there have been a significant number of reports of AAPI individuals being threatened and harassed on the street. These incidents include being told to “Go back to China,” being blamed for “bringing the virus” to the United States, being referred to with racial slurs, spat on, or physically assaulted. Statements by public officials referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” “Kung Flu” or “Wu Flu” may be exacerbating the scapegoating and targeting of the AAPI community. Meanwhile, extremists continue to spread antisemitic and xenophobic conspiracies about COVID-19, blaming Jews and China for creating, spreading and profiting off the virus.”

      This is similar to something Menzie already noted. Hate speech often leads to violence as this Kung Flu crap already has. But Sammy wants free speech with no limits. I guess Sammy enjoys it when Asian kids are assaulted. MAGA!

    5. macroduck

      Utter nonsense. The government is prohibited from limiting speech because the government exercises coercive power. Because free speech, like press freedom, is vital to democracy. Because free speech, like press freedom, helps limit government corruption and abuse of power. None of these apply in this case.

      Purveyors of bombastic, offensive speech, of lies, routinely complain about censorship when their lies and offense are challenged. The proclaim”alternative facts”. All aimed at putting lipstick on their rhetorical pig.

  23. pgl

    Trump is pulling a Bruce Hall by claiming that the CDC is grossly overstating the number of deaths from COVID19:

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/dr-jerome-adams-us-surgeon-general-contradicts-trump-on-covid-19-death-toll/ar-BB1cra3W?ocid=uxbndlbing

    But be of good cheer that the Surgeon General has called out Trump’s lies. Now I wonder if Dr. Jerome Adams ever decided to read similar intellectual garbage from Bruce Hall. Nah – he has better things to do.

  24. pgl

    Cruz and a few fellow Republican Senators appeal to the 1877 Hayes-Tilden compromise in their effect to appoint an electoral college commission:

    https://uncoverdc.com/2021/01/02/coalition-of-senators-prepare-to-challenge-electoral-college-slates-on-jan-6/

    Two big problems here. If they want to follow what happened back then, this would have had to be done before December 14, 2020 not just before the Congress meeting.

    Also the “voter fraud” back then was Southern racists conspiring to suppress black votes for Hayes. Today there was no fraud in people voting but the Trump crowd is trying to kick out black votes for Biden. Yes – Trump and
    Cruz want to return to the period after 1876 where they could suppress the votes of black people.

    1. Willie

      Times change? Maybe they don’t. The GOP sometimes seems to think pro-cyclical policies are a good idea and that policies that lead to a form of feudalism are good ideas as well. So going back to overt voter suppression based on race is in their current wheelhouse.

  25. ltr

    Now, do I think —— is a China apologist? No. Do I think —— is thoroughly intimidated by China? Absolutely.

    [ What I know is when a person chooses to show prejudice towards or tries to frighten others because of names or looks. I immediately become fearful of a person showing prejudice and stay far, far away. I try to protect myself and others against prejudice.

    Prejudice frightens me and I imagine always will. These last years have been awfully hurtful. ]

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