30 November 2022

Lessons From Qatar

The short and pithy response to idealistic anarchists and extreme libertarians used to be, "if you want to try life without government, move to Somalia." 

A world with minimal government is a nice pipe dream, but the state of nature looks more like Hobbs described it, where life is nasty, brutish and short, in a society that devolves into clans, tribes, and warlords, than it is an Eden-like paradise.

Qatar is another place that exemplifies the visions of a lot of the factions of the New Right

It offers "Flight 93ers" the strong man leadership that crushes liberals that they crave, treats women and outsiders poorly, and makes speaking ill of the nation or the Founding Fathers that were the ancestors of its ruling dynasty a crime.

It offers "Integralists" a society with strict, governmentally enforced religious values where the dominant religion guides policy and members of other religions are second class citizens.

It offers "National Conservatives" a society that is fervently anti-woke, with God in schools, and a monocultural society that provides all sorts of benefits to local citizens who are native speakers of the local language and treats everyone else as second class people (who aren't even second class citizens because they aren't citizens at all).

It offers "Red-Pilled Anarcho Bros" a society without the leveling blight of democracy with a government is highly responsive to corporate whims with almost no taxes or regulations of corporate economic conduct. Local men who are citizens are privileged at the expense of women and outsiders.

But, Qatar is not a positive role model that anyone should want to emulate in the United States.

Qatar is rich, although this is almost entirely due to its dumb luck to be situated in control of vast mineral wealth that no one knew it possessed when the country and its dynasty was established. 

This makes it possible for Qatar to ignore the economic pressures that shape a society that productive middle class and decentralized class of business owners exert in an economy based upon commerce and industry, instead of mineral wealth rents. Those pressures lead to a democratic, meritocratic, cosmopolitan society with more economic regulation and less regulation of people's personal lives. 

Without its oil and gas revenues, its migrant workers would all go home leaving it depopulated, its monarchy would have collapsed long ago, and Qatar would probably be a lot like Somalia and Yemen are today - war torn and impoverished. It might have become haven for bona fide pirates of the Persian Gulf.

Qatar must import 90% of its workforce because its own people are unwilling because they are too spoiled, or unable because they lack the skills and abilities they need, to generate economic value, apart from the wealth that flows from the natural resources it owns that is exploited with foreign labor; a wealth that the monarch shares with a small group of citizens (but one that is fast growing with fecundity due to the abundance the monarch shares) whom he treats like extended family.

For all that conservatives and libertarians and business people whine about the costs of taxes and complying with government regulations, the truth is that economies with high taxes and lots of government regulations are vastly more productive than those with minimal taxes and little government regulation.

Regulation advances public safety, public health, worker health and safety, and environmental quality, while minimizing economic exploitation, yet doesn't prevent advanced economies from being vastly more productive and prosperous than countries where business has a free hand to do as it wishes.

If you want an economy without workplace safety regulations, like the U.S. had in 1913, you aren't going to have an economy that adds value to natural resources the way that the U.S. economy of 2022 does. While regulators are criticized when they make missteps, their many quiet successes go unnoticed. But regulators are the intelligent designers of modern economies, and produce more benefits than costs the vast majority of the time.

The lack of government regulation and taxation of Qatar's economy, which is typical of Middle Eastern monarchies, strongly echoes Western societies in the mid- to late 1800s and early 1900s, in much the same way that their harsh criminal punishments, heavy public regulation of private morality, treatment of women, and recent abandonment of slavery does. Much of the Islamic world seems to be living the Victorian era a century and a half later. 

Even trends like the recent tendency of the Arab monarchies to build skyscrapers is happening in lock step with the parallel development of this trend in the early 20th century in major Western cities, where skyscrapers started to be built in 1884, reached a notable milestone with the Woolworth building in 1913, and culminated with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building which were commenced before the Great Depression began and finished shortly after it struck riding on the inertia that the projects had already acquired. The engineers know a bit more and materials are better now than they were then, but the complex threads of economics and societal evolution seem to be guiding these societies down similar paths in the same sequences.

Maybe there really is just one path of progress and everybody's society has to walk it, admittedly in their own distinct way, to have a developed economy and a society in which a developed economy can thrive. 

If so, we can expect the Middle East and much of the rest of the Islamic world to undergo the economic, religious and cultural transformations similar to those that followed the Victorian era in England and the West in the decades to come.

Worker Safety In Qatar Is Poor

Basic Facts About Qatar

Qatar is shown in green. 

As the Huffington Post which is my source for the map and pronunciation of the country's name explains:
Qatar is a small Middle Eastern peninsula in the Persian Gulf bordered by Saudi Arabia. It has been ruled by the Al-Thani family since the mid-1800s, according to the CIA World Factbook, and has a population of about 840,000 people. It is slightly smaller than Connecticut. This tiny nation holds the world's third largest oil reserves, and oil and natural gas account for over 50 percent of the GDP.

Qatar is pronounced so that it sounds roughly like "cutter" and is one of the only words in which the letter Q appears without being followed by the letter "u" in its English spelling.

According to Wikipedia:

Qatar has been ruled as a hereditary monarchy by the House of Thani since Mohammed bin Thani signed a treaty with the British in 1868 that recognised its separate status. Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. The current emir is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who holds nearly all executive and legislative authority under the Constitution of Qatar, as well as controlling the judiciary. He appoints the prime minister and cabinet. The partially-elected Consultative Assembly can block legislation and has a limited ability to dismiss ministers.

In early 2017, Qatar's total population was 2.6 million, with 313,000 of them Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates. Its official religion is Islam. In terms of income, the country has the fourth-highest GDP (PPP) per capita in the world, and the eleventh-highest GNI per capita (Atlas method). Qatar ranks 42nd in the Human Development Index, the third-highest HDI in the Arab world. It is a high-income economy, backed by the world's third-largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves. Qatar is one of the world's largest exporters of liquefied natural gas, and the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita.

Qatar In The Spotlight

Qatar is currently hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup (the global championship for professional soccer, the world's leading sport) which has turned the spotlight on the country, not necessarily in a positive way. 

Qatar has received attention for its restrictions on beer consumption in a country where alcohol consumption is mostly banned due to Islamic prohibitions on consuming it, the hostility of the venue to LGBT associated symbols since hostility towards gays attributed to Islam is the norm there, its treatment of women justified by Islam, and its weak protections for human rights (particularly for migrant workers who make up 90% of the workforce) and its lack of democracy. 

I say "attributed to" and "justified by" because many of the "Islamic practices" of countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia are not universal in predominantly Islamic countries and are justified with Islamic religious authorities in ways that do not compel the conclusions that these communities reach about what Islamic law requires according to many Muslims and Muslim religious scholars. 

Worker Safety In Qatar 

The issue addressed in this post, however, worker safety, is an issue with regard to which Islamic and Western norms, secular and religious alike, are not meaningfully in disagreement. The Qataris, like almost everyone else in the world, would prefer that there are no workplace fatalities.
World Cup chief Hassan Al-Thawadi said that between 400 and 500 migrant workers have died as a result of work done on projects connected to the tournament [since Qatar was selected to host this year's World Cup in 2010].
In an interview with Piers Morgan which aired on TalkTV on Monday, Al-Thawadi was asked about the number of fatalities to migrant workers as a result of the work done in the tournament and said: “The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500.

“I don’t have the exact number, that’s something that’s been discussed. One death is too many, it’s as simple as that.”
From CNN.

* Fatal Occupational Injuries in U.S. in 2019: 5,333
World Almanac 2022 citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
* U.S. Population in 2019: 328.3 million
* Fatal Occupational Injuries per year in U.S. per million people: 16.2
* Per Capita GDP in U.S.: $63,554
World Almanac 2022

* Average Annual Migrant Worker Fatal Deaths in Qatar: 650
2010-2019 for South Asian migrant workers only per CNN citing the Guardian
* Percentage of workforce made up of migrant workers in Qatar: 90%
CNN citing Amnesty International
* Qatar Population in 2019: 2.832 million
* Fatal Migrant Worker deaths per year in Qatar per million people: 229.5
* Adjusted Qatar rate since migrant workers are 90% of the workforce: 255
* Per capita GDP in Qatar: $89,949
World Almanac 2022

Migrant workers in Qatar, who make up 90% of the workforce there, are about 15 times as likely as U.S. workers to die on the job in any given year.

The workplace death rate in Qatar is roughly what it was in the United States in 1913, before there was any significant governmental regulation of workplace safety in the United States.
In 1913, the Bureau of Labor Statistics documented approximately 23,000 industrial deaths among a workforce of 38 million, equivalent to a rate of 61 deaths per 100,000 workers. Under a different reporting system, data from the National Safety Council from 1933 through 1997 indicate that deaths from unintentional work-related injuries declined 90%, from 37 per 100,000 workers to 4 per 100,000. The corresponding annual number of deaths decreased from 14,500 to 5100; during this same period, the workforce more than tripled, from 39 million to approximately 130 million.

From the U.S. Center For Disease Control citing National Safety Council. Accident facts, 1998 edition. Itasca, Illinois: National Safety Council, 1998 and Corn JK. Response to occupational health hazards: a historical perspective. New York, New York: Nostrand Reinhold, 1992.

29 November 2022

What Factions Are There In The New Right Coalition?

Executive summary

The author thinks (and I'm not entirely convinced he's right but it is an illuminating oversimplification) that the GOP coalition of religious conservatives, foreign policy hawks and fiscal conservative/libertarians is dead. 

The "New Right" has four factions: 

"Flight 93ers" who believe the end of smashing liberals who don't think that the U.S. has always been awesome and are incensed at efforts to treat women and minorities better, justifies the means;

"Integralists" who are Christian dominionists with a Catholic flavor;

"National Conservatives" with a nationalist anti-immigration, anti-market, and anti-woke agenda who want to break up tech companies, defund the left, impose trade barriers, build a border wall, increase the size of the child tax credit and put God back in schools. They want an English only, white Christian country where everyone else is a second class citizen rather than a cosmopolitan, tolerant, multi-cultural society; and

"Red-Pilled Anarcho Bros" are Social Darwinists who think progressive elites use the language of equality and justice to give special privileges to women and minorities to keep themselves in business while robbing men, especially white men, of even the vocabulary to protest their loss of freedom or the unfairness they are forced to endure, and that . democracy and freedom are inherently at odds because democracy is based on notions of equality—while freedom would lead to the emergence of natural hierarchies based on physical and mental strength and a world where government exists to serve corporate power.

In more depth:

The conservative movement as we knew it pre-Trump arose in the heyday of the Cold War when the threat of Soviet communism loomed large in the American political consciousness. The movement was famously described by Ronald Reagan as a three-legged stool with each leg representing a different faction, to wit: religious/social conservatives, foreign policy hawks and fiscal conservatives/libertarians. . . .

What kept the stool together, however, was the fear of an external leftist enemy that each side feared for its own unique reasons. This is not to deny that there was also some genuine common ground between them. Indeed, to the extent that they all took America’s founding project seriously, none of these factions were fundamentally illiberal—or whatever streak of illiberalism they might have had was kept in check by the competing commitment to this project.

Trump’s arrival changed all that. The new right, which started taking shape even before Trump, is in a different mood altogether. Its unifying force is not the leftist enemy abroad, but the leftist enemy within. And it doesn’t just fear this enemy, it hates it. Indeed, the new right’s dislike of the domestic left is so great that it is rethinking America’s historic foreign policy commitments in light of it. If you have been puzzled by the post-Trump right’s love fest with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin despite his invasion of the liberal democratic and pro-West Ukraine, it is because Putin has declared himself the enemy of the woke left that he claims is destroying Western civilization of which he is now the self-avowed champion.

In contrast to the previous one, this has four identifiable factions. It is, if you like, more a table than a stool. But not, for all that, more stable because the four legs are uneven. In fact, were it not for the various factions’ joint hatred of their common leftist enemy, there would be less to keep the coalition standing than with the previous conservative movement.

I would label the four factions as follows: Flight 93ers, the Integralists, National Conservatives and Red-Pilled Anarcho Bros. . . .

Flight 93ers

This faction is named after the infamous Flight 93 essay that Michael Anton wrote in the Claremont Review of Books under the pseudonym of Publius shortly after Trump landed the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Claremont Review is the premier publication of the Claremont Institute, the flagship of the West Coast Straussian school of political philosophy. In contrast to East Coast Straussians, many of whom broke away from Trump, the Claremonsters, as they had long been called, went the other way. They weren’t without qualms about Trump but still submitted to him enthusiastically. Anton’s Flight 93 essay played an important role in convincing the Claremont Institute and the broader conservative establishment, at a time that it was still in shock over Trump’s primary win, that it needs to abandon its squeamishness and rally around him. Four years later when Trump launched his Big Lie, the Claremonsters supplied him with not just bogus arguments to justify his claims but also the notorious John Eastman, the legal brains behind the scheme to get Vice President Mike Pence to reject Biden state electors so that they could be subsequently switched with Trump state electors.

To understand how odd these machinations were, consider that Claremont Straussians have long regarded the American Constitution as a sacred document. . . . Just like their leader and founder, the late Harry Jaffa, they consider America’s Founding Fathers as gods among men. They also worship Abraham Lincoln whose statesmanship abolished slavery—and fully delivered on the Constitution’s promise of liberty for all—while keeping the Union intact.

So how did Lincoln lovers end up embracing Trump?

It is unclear, actually, if Jaffa, a speechwriter for Barry Goldwater, would have ever gone along with his institution’s pro-Trump turn; his son insists that he would not have. But his Claremont heirs’ annoyance with what they see as the anti-Americanism of the progressive left has grown into a burning rage over the years. They consider the left’s depiction of America as a racist, sexist, and homophobic country—despite the heroic efforts that have been made to abolish slavery and Jim Crow—as intolerable blasphemy. They have always seen the left’s demands for special privileges for minorities and women as a perversion of the constitution’s promise of equal rights. Then, on top of this, when the leftist elites who control the media, academia, the government bureaucracy, Hollywood and other commanding heights of the culture use their power not just to press their anti-American agenda but, in their woke arrogance, silence objectors like them through a regime of censorship, political correctness and cancellation, they are incensed. Denying the left control of the state, arguably the last remaining bastion of power, became a paramount concern for them.

Whatever Trump’s character and other flaws, they paled in comparison to his big virtue, namely, his unapologetic and no-holds-barred willingness to take on the left and obliterate it. . . . 

What distinguishes Claremonsters from the other factions of the new right is that they alone see themselves not as anti-liberals but adherents of the true liberalism. The illiberal subversion of elections to install a strongman like Trump, in their book, is a temporary measure to crush the left and return America to a true, originalist commitment to individual liberty and limited government.


Defending any kind of liberalism is emphatically not the integralist project, however. Whereas Claremonsters see progressive leftism—its attacks on institutions of ordered liberty such as the family, churches and schools—as a perversion of liberalism, integralists see it as a natural outgrowth of the political individualism enshrined in the Constitution. . . . If Patrick Deneen, a professor at University of Notre Dame and a leading integralist, is to be believed, the source of America’s current travails, its communal and moral breakdown, lies in the Declaration of Independence itself. . . . Nothing irritates them more than Justice Anthony Kennedy’s famous quote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992): “At the heart of liberty, is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” As far as they are concerned, one can draw a direct through line between this kind of thinking and the rise of sexual promiscuity, pornography, abortion and radical demands for gender self-authorship of the woke movement. And like the other three factions, integralists hate the progressive elite that advances and defends transgender surgeries and multiple pronouns.

Integralists are all Catholic and integralism is a very old doctrine that authorizes the state to promote the earthly common good as ordained by God. . . . the integralists do aspire to a return to some kind of a pan-Christian confessional state that uses its muscle to ban abortion, gay marriage and other progressive aims and that allows preferential expression of Christianity in the public square. Other religions wouldn’t be prohibited but they would not enjoy state support. Their role model in this is Hungary’s Viktor Orban who is taking affirmative steps to restore Christian domination in his country by barring Muslim immigration and embracing natalist policies to encourage Christians to have more babies and boost their demographic footprint.

If integralists could turn back the clock to some halcyon period in America, it would be 17th and 18th Century Puritan New England where a thick and unified community used a muscular government to impose widely shared religious norms or understanding of the common good. Deneen, along with his fellow integralists Gladen Pappin and Adrian Vermeule, has started a Substack publication called The Postliberal Order to develop their integralist critique of modernity and liberalism. . . . 

(To understand the nuttiness of these Catholic intellectuals using bad boy Trump, the very embodiment of the ruggedly atomistic spirit of Appalachian “backcountry” Scottish-Irish settlers, to return America to a communal New England Puritan Protestant order, read this fascinating account by Tanner Greer, “The Problem of the New Right.”)

National Conservatives

NatCons . . . morphed into something of a MAGA organ, workshopping an anti-immigration, anti-market, and anti-woke agenda. . . . American NatCons want to break up tech companies, defund the left, impose trade barriers, build a border wall, increase the size of the child tax credit and put God back in schools. . . .

Their dream is to elect a contingent of Republicans who are committed to using state power to, as Hillsdale College's David Azerrad, declared, “defund and humiliate the institutional centers of power of the left...and reward friends and punish enemies." . . . .

If one is going to pick one figure and one moment that launched this movement it would be Israeli political theorist Yoram Hazony with his 2018 book The Virtue of Nationalism. . . .

His rap against liberalism is that it is a fundamentally imperialistic ideology because it claims to be founded on universally applicable political doctrines. That, he says, leads to a crusading moral universalism that denies the validity of alternative principles of national self-determination based on local, cultural commitments. Liberalism judges every polity by whether it respects individual rights and allows religious pluralism. That bars the state from using its power to protect indigenous ways and customs. Instead of nurturing citizens of a nation with strong local blood, soil and cultural attachments, liberalism encourages individuals to see themselves as citizens of the world. Cosmopolitanism is a dirty word for him—as it had become for many on the MAGA right. Ironically, Hazony’s critique of liberalism is a warmed over version of the anti-globalization left’s slams against capitalism which, it alleged, obliterated local ways and homogenized every country in the image of the West.

Hazony does not reject liberalism out of hand. He thinks it might be suitable when local conditions warrant—for example in a naturally diverse and multicultural community. But in Hazony’s post-liberal world, liberalism is merely one legitimate possibility among many. When a dominant majority exists, it should be allowed free rein to determine its destiny. It can choose a religious, linguistic, ethnic or cultural principle around which to order itself depending on the self-understanding of the majority. 
So if India’s dominant Hindu population chooses to jettison its liberal commitments and become an explicitly Hindu nation, that is fine. Also kosher is America declaring itself a Christian country with English as its only official language—as is Israel remaining a Jewish nation without pressure to accord equal rights to non-Jews. Hazony says that in such regimes, minorities wouldn’t be persecuted. They would be tolerated—but not awarded equal rights. In other words, they’d have to accept their second-class status. . . . he dismisses as “elitist” liberals who insist that the rights of minorities and immigrants be respected in a polity. His streak of populism is pretty evident.

Red-Pilled Anarcho Bros

If Hazony is the godfather of the NatCon movement, then a long-haired dude called Curtis Guy Yarvin— who wrote under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug—is the godfather of this movement. . . . he started writing a blog called Unqualified Reservations under his pseudonym in 2007 . . . Many of the terms and concepts that gained popularity in the alt-right and then entered the political bloodstream along with Trump were coined by him.

Yarvin believes that a complex of progressive elite institutions—the press, academia and the federal bureaucracy or the Deep State—run the country and exercise control more totalitarian than authoritarian China—a country that he admires precisely because it is so openly authoritarian in contrast to liberal states that mask their true intentions behind mind-numbing pieties. He calls this complex of institutions “The Cathedral” and he believes that their ideology permeates everyone and everything. . . .  progressive elites use the language of equality and justice to give special privileges to women and minorities to keep themselves in business while robbing men, especially white men, of even the vocabulary to protest their loss of freedom or the unfairness they are forced to endure. It’s all an elaborate ruse to keep the truly good subservient to a false progressive ideology. . . . democracy and freedom are inherently at odds because democracy is based on notions of equality—while freedom would lead to the emergence of natural hierarchies based on physical and mental strength. . . . 
Mencius Moldbug, who has made an hour-long appearance on Tucker Carlson, has had a deep influence on Peter Thiel and was even rumored to have a line to Steve Bannon, wants to tear down the whole liberal edifice and replace it with a techno-state in which corporations run the country like their private holding. . . . So if, under fascism, the state directs private industry toward its ends, in the Moldbug world private industry directs the state towards its goals.

Moldbug was deeply influenced by Hans-Herman Hoppe, who subscribes to a perverted version of the libertarian Austrian School of Economics. This would be comical if it were not so dangerous given that key figures of this school like Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek (who has been a deep intellectual influence on me) are among the most eloquent defenders of liberalism—and ardent opponents of authoritarianism . . . 
Damon Linker at Eyes on the Right has written extensively about some of them, but the most prominent perhaps is Yale PhD Bronze Age Pervert (BAP) who has developed a huge following among young, white men of the reactionary bent. Just like Moldbug, BAP’s animus is directed at those whom he calls “bugmen”—reminiscent of Nietzsche’s last men—because they are filled with ressentiment against those who are more beautiful, powerful and stronger than them and therefore want to tear them down. In a calculated bid to provoke fear against the left, BAP has gone so far as to compare the anti-male and anti-white rhetoric of the new left to the “extermination”-level anti-Tutsi propaganda that the shorter, phenotypically African Hutus in Rwanda deployed before massacring the more European-featured, taller Tutsis (never mind that the extermination of the Tutsis was possible only because they were a reviled minority in an illiberal state that did not offer them protections from the depredations of the Hutu majority, precisely the kind of polity that BAP disses.)

If integralists have a problem with liberal secularism, the anarcho bros are upset with liberalism’s democratic egalitarianism. They don’t have a beef with religious pluralism like the intergralists—or even gays (Thiel, their fan and benefactor, is gay, after all!). They have an obsession with biology and natural differences and are far more concerned with feminist—and to a lesser extent, racial—demands for equality. They are at core Neitzcheans who believe that a good society is one that is ruled by the principle of meritocracy in all its forms—not equality, a creed for losers.

From UnPopulist

28 November 2022

Civil Jury Trials In Common Law Countries Outside The U.S.

A report on civil jury trials in British Columbia provides some insight in the practice in Canada. (British Columbia and Colorado both have about 5 million people.) In that province, there are an average of 24 civil jury trials each year (1-3 of which are not motor vehicle accident cases in a typical year).

From the beginning of 2015/16 to the end of 2019/20 inclusive, jury notices were filed in 21,374 actions in British Columbia. In the same period covering five fiscal years, 120 civil jury trials were completed. 

In that time period 19,939 demands (93.3%) were made in motor vehicle accident cases, 1430 were made in general civil cases, 4 were made in family law cases, and 1 was made in a foreclosure case. About 80% of the demands were made in Vancouver or Westminster courts. 

In the ten year period ending on the same date, "238 civil jury trials took place between 2010/11 and 2019/20, representing approximately 30 per cent of all jury trials in the province. Undoubtedly the greatest number by far of civil jury filings and jury trials take place in Vancouver and New Westminster. Twelve Supreme Court registries in British Columbia had no civil jury trials whatsoever." A median B.C. civil jury trial takes nine days and the mean duration is ten days. There have been only two in the last ten years that took more than four weeks.

Qu├ębec abolished civil juries in 1976. In other provinces, jury trial is typically available at the option of a party in specific causes of action: defamation, malicious arrest, malicious prosecution, and false imprisonment. They are also available in actions for seduction, criminal conversation, and breach of promise of marriage in provinces that still permit those causes of action. Several provinces restrict jury trial in other civil matters to actions in which the amount in issue exceeds a specified value threshold.

The right to a jury trial is broader in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, and Ontario, although in Ontario the amount in controversy must exceed $200,000 Canadian dollars v. $75,000 in Alberta v. $1,000 in the other jurisdictions. 

In the England and Wales the civil jury trial right is narrow and this is also the case in New Zealand and some but not all Australian states and territories. There are no civil jury trials in South Australia or the Australian Capital Territory. New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania have relatively broad civil jury trial rights.

By comparison, in Colorado, in 2006, there were 337 civil jury trials in a single year, which is typical, more than thirteen times as many per capita as British Columbia.

The situation in civil cases, which 15% of all jury trials are conducted, is more comparable between the federal and state system. There were just 17 limited jurisdiction civil trials in state court (v. 1236 bench trials and 3485 small claims bench trials) with jury trials making up just 1% of state court trials and where trials themselves are very rare. About 54% of civil trials in federal court (43 jury trials and 36 bench trials) and 50% civil trials in general jurisdiction state courts were to juries (277 jury trials and 280 bench trials), with about 75% in tort cases) - both of these categories of cases are more likely to go to trial but trials are still rare in civil cases across the board.

A large share of motor vehicle accident cases in Colorado are resolved in jury trials, but they make up a much smaller share of the total share of civil jury trials in the state (maybe half). 

Also, while Canada has federal trial courts, they make up a tiny share of the total case load of civil court dockets in Canada and an even smaller share of Canadian civil jury trials. The main federal court has 37 judges, 9 part-time senior judges, and 8 magistrates (titled translated to more familiar terminology). It handles 50% immigration cases, and the balance federal administrative law, intellectual property, admiralty, what we could call Indian law in the U.S., and claims against the federal government. There is also a separate federal tax court. The lion's share of its cases have a governmental party. Private law civil cases make up only a very small part of its docket. Many Canadian federal court cases would be heard in "Article I" courts in the United States. Indeed, it isn't clear to me that there are any civil jury trials in Canada's federal trial courts.

27 November 2022

Quote Of The Day

I distinguish four types. There are clever, hardworking, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and hardworking; their place is the General Staff. The next ones are stupid and lazy; they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the mental clarity and strength of nerve necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is both stupid and hardworking; he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always only cause damage.
- Kurt Gebhard Adolf Philipp Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord (one of the first Antifa advocates and a Weimer Republic General) writing in German in 1933, and recounted in translation.

24 November 2022

Ukraine War Update

The Ukraine War is nine months old.

Territorial Impact

The Russian invasion has allowed it to control a modest amount of Ukrainian territory although it has slowly but surely been losing ground. A recent map of the situation is as follows:

Economic Impact

The world has imposed severe economic, immigration, and cultural sanctions on Russia. Europe has declared it to be a state sponsor of terrorism and war crimes investigations of Russian forces are underway. Most major multinational businesses that once did business in Russia have pulled out. Sanctions on Russian petroleum exports temporary caused oil prices to spike leading to global inflation, but oil prices have returned to normal. China and India have not entirely cut off Russia, but have been lukewarm towards it. Iran has supplied Russia with drones.

De facto embargoes of shipping in the Black Sea from Ukraine and interrupted farming have impaired food supplies for many countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa. 

Natural gas supplies from Russia to Europe where it is the main supplier of many countries have been severely curtailed leading to potentially great hardship in Europe as the winter approaches.

Young adult men and the economic elite have fled the country to avoid the draft and to remain a part of the global economy. Many Russian oligarchs have had their prized private planes and yachts seized.

Protests were muted at first in Russia as the government kept a tight lid on dissent but are starting to emerge.


There have been many civilian and soldier casualties. A reasonable estimate is that 27,000 Russian soldiers and their allies have been killed and that more than 77,000 have been wounded, captured, or a missing. The chart below is from Wikipedia:

More than ten million Ukrainians are refugees fleeing the war.

Russian Equipment Losses

Russia's equipment losses in the Ukraine War are greater than the sum of all of the equipment of most of the world's military forces.

This also does not reflect scarce military equipment resources like guided missiles that have been used and are no longer available to the Russian military. 

Neither its losses nor its spent resources are easily replaced because its industrial base is fairly weak and cut off from international markets for the most part. Russia's ability to wage conventional warfare against other countries in Europe has been greatly curtailed in the short to medium term as a result. Moreover, the credibility of the military it does have has been greatly undermined by its military defeats in the Ukraine War.

According to the Oryx blog which is prefaced as follows:

This list only includes destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here. Small arms, ATGMs, MANPADS, loitering munitions, drones used as unmanned bait, civilian vehicles, trailers and derelict equipment are not included in this list. All possible effort has gone into avoiding duplicate entries and discerning the status of equipment between captured or abandoned.
Tanks (1505)
  • 53 T-62
  • 46 T-64
  • 863 T-72
  • 342 T-80
  • 31 T-90
  • 170 Unknown tank
Armored Fighting Vehicles (721)
  • 25 BRM-1K reconnaissance vehicle
  • 4 BRDM-2
  • 2 BRDM-2RKhb chemical reconnaissance vehicle
  • 2 BRDM-2-based ZS-82 PsyOps vehicle
  • 506 MT-LB
  • 1 Vityaz DT-10PM articulated tracked carrier
  • 3 Vityaz DT-30 articulated tracked carrier
  • 2 GAZ-3344-20 'Aleut' articulated tracked carrier
  • 1 2S1 with ZU-23 AA gun
  • 10 Unknown BTR-D/BMD-2
  • 166 Unknown AFV
Infantry Fighting Vehicles (1758) 
  • 234 BMP-1
  • 648 BMP-2
  • 85 Unknown BMP-1/2
  • 199 BMP-3
  • 5 MT-LBM 6MB
  • 3 BMO-T
  • 176 BMD-2
  • 57 BMD-4M
  • 352 BTR-82A(M)
Armored Personnel Carriers (271)
  • 1 BTR-60PB
  • 5 BTR-70
  • 135 BTR-80
  • 46 Unknown BTR-80/BTR-82A
  • 2 Remdiesel Z-STS Akhmat
  • 3 Ural-4320VV
  • 66 BTR-D
  • 13 BTR-MDM Rakushka
Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles (44)
  • 22 KamAZ-63968 Typhoon
  • 2 KamAZ-435029 Patrol-A
  • 8 K-53949 Typhoon-K
  • 12 K-53949 Linza
Infantry Mobility Vehicles (168)

Trucks, Vehicles and Jeeps (1992)

Command Posts And Communications Stations (194)

Engineering Vehicles And Equipment (245)

Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Missile Systems (29)

Heavy Mortars (25)

Artillery Support Vehicles And Equipment (82)

Towed Artillery (141)

Self-Propelled Artillery (289)

Multiple Rocket Launchers (154)

Anti-Aircraft Guns (16)

Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns (22)

Surface-To-Air Missile Systems (80)

Radars (21)

Jammers And Deception Systems (21)

Aircraft (63)
  • 1 MiG-31BM fighter aircraft
  • 11 Su-30SM multirole aircraft
  • 1 Su-35S multirole aircraft
  • 23 Su-25 close air support aircraft
  • 1 Su-24MR tactical reconnaissance aircraft
  • 7 Su-24M/MR strike/tactical reconnaissance aircraft
  • 16 Su-34 strike aircraft
  • 1 Su-34M strike aircraft
  • 1 Unknown Su-30/Su-34/Su-35
  • 1 An-26 transport aircraft
Helicopters (71)
  • 16 Mi-8 transport helicopter
  • 3 Mi-24P attack helicopter
  • 1 Mi-24V/P attack helicopter
  • 6 Mi-35M attack helicopter
  • 1 Mi-24P/35M attack helicopter
  • 11 Mi-28 attack helicopter
  • 27 Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter
  • 6 Unknown helicopter
Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (4)

Reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (145)

Naval Ships (12)
  • 1 Project 1164 Slava-class guided missile cruiser Moskva
  • 5 Project 03160 Raptor-class patrol boat
  • 1 Project 02510 BK-16E high-speed assault boat
  • 1 Project 1171 Tapir-class landing ship Saratov (BDK-65)
  • 1 Project 775 Ropucha-class landing ship
  • 1 Project 11770 Serna-class landing craft
  • 1 Project 22870 SB-739 Vasily Bekh rescue tug
  • 1 Project 266M Natya-class minesweeper

23 November 2022

Another Midterm Update

Updated Results

According to the New York Times, the current tally for the U.S. House is 212 Democratic seats and 220 Republican seats, 

with the U.S. Senate at 50 Democratic seats and 49 Republican seats. Three U.S. House seats remain. 

Alaska will very likely go to the incumbent Democrat Mary Peltola who has 49% of the first choice vote in a ranked choice voting race with Republican Sarah Palin with 26% and Republican Nick Begich with 24%. Sarah Palin needs to win more than 95% of second choice Begich vote to win and that is unlikely to happen.

CO-3 was won by Republican Lauren Boebert by about 0.17 percentage points, the closest race in the county, and while it is going to an automatic recount, her margin is large enough that this is unlikely to change the result.

CA-13 is on track to be won by the Republican by about 0.45 percentage points.

So, the likely outcome for the House will be 222 R to 213 D, a loss of eight net Democratic seats.

Upon closer review, it looks like not a single House seat that touches the Pacific Ocean will be represented by a Republican in the House. Likewise, not a single Congressional District in New England will be represented by a Republican.

The Mexican border is touched by four Republican House seats and seven Democratic House seats.

The last U.S. Senate seat, in Georgia, was won in the first round by the incumbent Democrat who received 49.4% of the vote and will be resolved in a December 6, 2022 runoff election on Tuesday. If the Democrat loses, it will exactly match the status quo. If he wins, it will be a gain one of net Democratic seat in the Senate.

About 2.1% of voters in the first round in Georgia voted for the Libertarian candidate in the U.S. Senate race. If all of the same voters who voted in the first round in Georgia also voted in the second round, the Democrat would need only about a third of the Libertarian voters to chose him over the Republican to win, which is very likely. So, the Republicans need to reduce Democratic turnout and/or increase Republican turnout to win in the runoff election on Tuesday (and earlier due to early voting). 

In a ranked choice voting system, the Democrat would probably have won the GA Senate race.

What if the national tilt had been ± 1 percentage point different?

One of the big insights of the political race models at the 538 blog is that federal partisan races and to a lesser extent all partisan races in the same election are highly correlated with each other. Myriad factors from Presidential popularity, to wars (see "Wag the Dog"), to supreme court decisions, to current events, to weather than impacts partisan outcomes differently, can all shift this national partisan tilt.

Democrats lost by less than a percentage point in three other House seats where Republican were favored (including one, CO-3 where the Republican was strongly favored. Democrats won only one seat where Democrats were favored (NY-18 where a Democrat was "narrowly favored") by less than a percentage point. 

If Democrats had had a par for the course midterm outcome, with each party winning all of the seats where it was favored and splitting the 36 competitive seats evenly, Democrats would have lost eight more seats than  they did.

But, with just a single percentage point shift to the left in the national outcome across the board (or in the key federal race), would have required just one in two hundred voters to flip their preferences, Democrats could have kept their majority in the House and increased their Senate margin to 52 seats which would have been enough to overcome the two Democratic votes unwilling to abolish the filibuster.

On the other hand, a single percentage point shift to the right in the national outcome across the board (or in just the key federal races), which again would have required just one in two hundred voters to flip their preferences, Republicans would have had 226 House seats instead of 222 (giving Republicans room for eight defectors instead of four to pass partisan bills), and would have controlled the Senate with 51 seats.

The 7 House seats that Democrats lost by less than one percentage point were (or will be): CO-3 (0.17), CA-13 (0.45), MI-10 (0.49), IA-3 (0.69), NY-17 (0.82), AZ-1 (0.88), and NY-22 (0.98). If they had won all of those seats, the balance in Congress would have been 220 D - 215 R (a loss of just one net D seats).

Democrats lost one U.S. Senate race, WI (0.99), by less than one percentage point, and would have won Georgia's Senate race without a runoff if there had been a one percentage point shift in their favor, resulting in a Senate balance of 52 D- 48 R (plus the Vice President's Democratic tie vote).

The 4 House seats that Democrats won by less than one percentage point were: CO-8 (0.69), CT-5 (0.77), WA-3 (0.89), NY-18 (0.99). If Republicans had won all of those seats, the balance in Congress would have been 226 R - 209 D (a loss of 12 net D seats).

Democrats won one U.S. Senate race, NV (0.78) by less than one percentage point, but shift of one percentage point towards the Republicans would still have required a runoff election for the Republican in Georgia, although his odds in a runoff election would be much better if he had won it. Assuming for sake of argument that the Republicans won the GA runoff election, the Senate balance would be 49 D - 51 R.

Outcomes Compared To Expectations

Overall, and in most districts, Republicans did better than Trump did in 2020. 

The Senate races were a mixed bag compared to the 2020 Presidential results. Democratic Senate candidates did better than Biden did in five competitive U.S. Senate races and worse in three. Seven of those shifts weren't outcome determinative with a Democrat winning in a U.S. Senate race in five states that Biden won in 2020 and a Republican winning in a U.S. Senate race in two states that Biden won in 2020. But, incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin did 1.6 percentage points there to win a state that Biden had won by 0.6 percentage points in 2020.

Simply adding up Republican and Democrats votes for Congressional races would be a less reliable way to indicate the shift in partisan voting in 2022, because turnout is suppressed in the many districts (and Senate seats) that were very lopsided, and because sixteen House races were uncontested: three Democratic party held seats (IL-7, MA-4, and NY-13) and thirteen Republican Party held seats (AZ-8, AZ-9, FL-5, LA-4, PA-13, PA-14, SC-3. SC-4, TX-6, TX-11, TX-25, TX-31, and WI-6).   

Still, the Democrats did remarkably well compared to expectations going into the election. Democrats won one House seat where a Republican was narrowly favored (WA-3), and won every House seat where a Democrat was favored. Democrats won 25 competitive House seats and lost 11 competitive House seats.

In the U.S. Senate races, all of the races turned out as expected, subject to the GA Senate runoff on Tuesday which Democrats were expected (and still are expected) to narrowly win.

Do Americans Want Gridlock Or Federalism?

The closeness of the ultimate partisan outcomes at the federal level really couldn't be any closer, and the result is gridlock at the federal level. Arguably, that is the right result when a country is so closely divided.

On the other hand, at the state level, partisan gridlock has declined. Democrats made gains in Governor's races, sometimes in open seats, and held onto closely contested races in red leaning states.

Both halves of the legislature flipped from red to blue in Michigan, albeit narrowly, for the first time in decades. Democrats won a trifecta in Minnesota; held both chambers in Colorado, Maine, Nevada and Oregon; staved off Republican supermajorities in the North Carolina House and Wisconsin State Assembly; and clawed back seats in the New Hampshire State House. . . .

Republicans have made modest gains, however. They flipped the Virginia House of Delegates last year, though not the State Senate, while gaining seats in New Jersey. They may have broken the Democrats’ supermajorities in New York, while picking up seats in the Illinois Senate, New Mexico House and a host of red states. They took supermajorities in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, the Iowa Senate, the North Carolina Senate, the South Carolina House and the Wisconsin Senate. In races for governor, they notched commanding wins in Florida, Ohio and Texas, and gave Democrats a scare in Kansas and Oregon. . . .

But in 2022, not a single state legislative chamber flipped from blue to red. A party in power hasn’t achieved that result in a midterm election year since at least 1934, according to Post.

In 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, one of the two major political parties can pass ordinary legislation without any support from the other political party because that party controls the Governorship and either both houses of the state legislature in bicameral states, or the only legislative body in Nebraska and the District of Columbia. A few states even have partisan state legislative supermajorities in trifecta states.

Only ten U.S. states have the pattern of divided government that the United States federal government does.

As I noted previously:

Heading into the 2022 election, there were 23 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 13 states with divided governments where neither party held trifecta control. As of November 16, there were projected to be 22 Republican trifectas, 17 Democratic trifectas, and 10 divided governments where neither party had trifecta control.

[Nebraska has a unicameral nominally non-partisan state legislature that is controlled by Republicans and has a Republican Governor, which is equivalent to the trifecta but not included in the count above.]

There was one state (Alaska) where trifecta status remained unclear. Before the election, Alaska was under divided government. Trifecta status changed in six states. In Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota, divided governments became Democratic trifectas. In Nevada, the Democratic trifecta became a divided government. In Arizona, the Republican trifecta became a divided government. State government trifectas. (The map below is pre-2020.) 

The "divided" states are now (or could be when the final results are in): Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

There are divided state legislatures in Alaska and Virginia. 

But, in Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin, where the divided government comes solely from a Governor. In Vermont, Democrats control the state legislature and there is a Republican Governor. In the other seven states with undivided legislatures that are not trifecta states, Republicans control the state legislature and there is a Democratic Governor.

One could call the midterm election results a pro-federalism outcome: strengthening the ability of many state governments to pass sweeping partisan legislation, while restraining the power of the federal government to pass partisan legislative reforms even further.

All of the "trifecta" states except New Hampshire and Georgia voted for President in 2020 according to their trifecta partisan lean. Of the current ten "divided" states, Arizona, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania voted for Biden, while Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina voted for Trump. Maine and Nebraska each cast one electoral vote contrary to the rest of the state (balancing out). The 2020 Presidential election map, for comparison purposes, was as follows:

Following the 2020 election, there were fewer states with partisan splits in their U.S. Senate delegations than at any time since direct elections of Senators began, and by flipping the Republican U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania to the Democrats, this record will be pushed one state further from six to five if Democrats can hold onto the Georgia Senate seat in the December 6 runoff election.

Democrats currently have five U.S. Senate seats in Republican trifecta states: one each in Montana, Ohio and West Virginia (each of which voted for Trump in 2020) and two U.S. Senate seats in New Hampshire and Georgia, respectively (both of which voted for Biden in 2020).

Republicans have one U.S. Senate seat in a Democratic trifecta seat: Maine, which voted for Biden in 2020. It is held by Republican Susan Collins, one of the moderate Republicans in the Senate, who is the only Republican in the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate from New England. Maine's other U.S. Senator, Angus King, is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

Democrats have two U.S. Senate seats each in the divided states of Arizona, Vermont, Virginia, and Pennsylvania (each of which also voted for Biden in 2020). Arizona, Virginia and Pennsylvania have Democratic Governors, Vermont has a Republican Governor, and Virginia has a Republican Governor and a divided legislature.

A Democrat and a Republican split the U.S. Senate seats in divided Wisconsin which voted for Biden in 2020 and has a Republican controlled state legislature and a Democratic Governor.

Republicans have two U.S. Senate seats each in the divided states of Alaska (which voted for Trump in 2020, has a Democrat as its sole member of the U.S. House, has a divided state legislature by one vote in the state house, and has a Republican Governor), and in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina (each of which also voted for Trump in 2020 and have Republican controlled state legislatures but a Democratic Governor).

One can get pretty close to the concept of a "clearly red" or "clearly blue" state by concluding that if one party won both houses of the state legislature, voted for that party's Presidential candidate, and has two of the three people serving as its Governor and two U.S. Senators of the same party, it is still "clearly" aligned with that party, even though there is one outlier Governor or one outlier U.S. Senator.

But, a state is "purple" if this does not hold.

By that measure, the seven purple states are Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

Two clearly blue states and seven red states have one outlier statewide elected Governor and U.S. Senator.

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia are completely solidly either red or blue states.

Maine is a clearly blue state with an outlier Republican Senator. Vermont is a clearly blue state with an outlier Republican Governor. 

Montana, Ohio, and West Virginia are clearly red states with an outlier Democratic Senator. Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina are clearly red states with an outlier Democratic Governor. 

In Which Countries Are Regional Governments Most Autonomous

The Regional Authority Index (RAI) measures the authority in self rule and shared rule exercised by regional governments with 96 countries on an annual basis over the period 1950-2018.
The dataset encompasses subnational government levels with an average population of 150,000 or more. Where appropriate, we code more than one regional tier, and code separately regions with a special autonomous statute or asymmetrical arrangements. Regional authority is measured along ten dimensions, five tap self-rule --institutional depth, policy scope, fiscal autonomy, borrowing autonomy, and representation-- and five capture shared rule --law making, executive control, fiscal control, borrowing control, and constitutional reform. The latest version includes metropolitan and indigenous regions alongside conventional regions.
Via Politics Stack Exchange. More data here

I've seen other indexes that look at only a single measure, either revenue collected or proportion of overall government spending.

Germany, at the top, affords its states lots of regional autonomy. I presume that the countries with a zero rating, most of which are small, simply don't have any regional governments to be autonomous that meet the study's criteria.

The cutoff between countries normally considered to have federal systems and those that are normally considered to be unitary is about 20. But, as an index approach rather than a categorical one reveals, the devil is in the details and federalism can be considered more of a continuum of regional autonomy (that can shift over time), rather than an either/or matter.

I am surprised at the relatively low levels of autonomy of Swiss cantons which are sometimes considered connected in a confederation rather than a true federal government, and were a model for Bosnia which is near the top of the list. I'm likewise surprised at how high up the list Germany ranks. Italy is also surprisingly high on the list for a country not always considered to have a federal as opposed to a unitary structure.

I'd be curious to see how the European Union viewed as a federal nation would rank although I imagine that it presents some conceptual issues as parallel institutions like the Council of Europe and NATO overlap heavily with it and it has different levels of "commitment" to its overall institutional structure.

The low ranking of the U.K. makes lots of sense to some extent, especially for regional governments within England, but what about the autonomy afforded to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, let alone its dependencies, which is quite significant?

The list for 2018 is as follows: