The etymology of filibustering


Trust and American Church attendance


So many gems in this piece by Ryan Burge, Church Attendance Used to Drive Up Trust, It Doesn't Anymore.

Trust is one of my favorite topics because I think it is one of those invisible things that makes all the difference. A high trust team can move faster and do things a low trust team can't do. Similarly, a high trust society can move quickly and do things a low trust society cannot do. Increasingly over the past 50 years, America is becoming a low trust society.

Some things that surprised me in the article:

The epic decline in trust among Republicans


As Burge points out, this isn't as simple of a story as it might seem. Trust and educational attainment are positively correlated and educational attainment is increasingly a driver of partisanship. However, the Republican coalition is filled with people that are less likely to believe that other people can be trusted than it was 50 years ago.

Increasing distrust among people with low levels of educational attainment

Quoting directly from Burge:

The main culprit for that growing divide is that those with low levels of education how grown more distrustful: 60% in the 1970s up to 77% in the 2010s. I think this should be ringing alarm bell for American democracy. There are lots of folks out there with low levels of education who are deeply distrustful of their fellow man.

Religious attendance is now negatively correlated with trust


One of the things that stood out most to me while reading Bowling Alone was the role that churches and other religious institutions played in preparing people to participate in civic life. [0] They were the training grounds of democracy where someone learns to lead at a small level, experiences what it's like, and then decides that they have the capability to take the next step. I know this is true for me; the very first times I led teams at work, I thought back to leading groups at my church in high school, what created credibility, and what destroyed it.

Burge hypothesizes that it might be due sorting, you're less likely to meet people that are unlike you and therefore are less likely become more trusting. I'm not sure if I agree with it, but I don't have a better hypothesis yet. But I do know that seeing this change is sad for me.

0: I can't link to this because I haven't imported blogposts from my old blog yet... shame on me!

Government deficit food for thought


Basic accounting – the Kalecki equation – shows that government deficits and corporate profits are on opposite sides of a ledger that sums to zero. Historically, there’s been a powerful statistical relationship between changes in the government deficit and subsequent changes in profits margins: major increases in deficits have led to rising profit margins over the next few years, and major decreases in deficits have led to falling profit margins. We have just seen one of the biggest decreases in the government deficit in history. It is very likely to be matched by a subsequent drop in profits.

From Entering the Super Bubble's Final Act by Jeremy Grantham.

I lack the experience to critique this perspective, but it is intuitive and I've found myself thinking about it repeatedly since I read the article a couple weeks ago.

ChatGPT as a pull up band


My friend Uri wrote a blog post about different types of supports:

I’m going to call any supportive device that degrades your ability to perform the activity un-aided an enfeebling support.

Of course, this also implies a definition for a better kind of support: a strengthening support not only helps you do something while supported, but also makes you better at doing the thing “by yourself” once the support is taken away.

Before I get into what I disagree with, first I want to say I wholeheartedly endorse the distinction he draws between types of supports. It's really helpful to ask "is this a tool that's helping me build capability or is this a crutch that I'm becoming reliant upon?"

However, one of his examples of enfeebling supports caught my eye:

Tech legend and friend of the blog T.D. worries that chatGPT is degrading people’s coding skills, making them slightly better at coding right now but worse (and more dependent on prosthetics) in the long run.

For me at least, ChatGPT is absolutely a strengthening support. I went years doing only minimal coding because I couldn't build anything I was excited about, sort of the equivalent of being able to do zero pull ups. With ChatGPT, I'm now able to finish things I care about, which is infectious, and I'm learning a bunch as I go. So I humbly disagree with tech legend TD!