1/OK, let's take a little break from Coup Twitter, and think about an economic issue:

How can we build up the wealth of the middle class?

2/The typical American has surprisingly little wealth compared to the typical resident of many other developed countries.

This is a fact that is not widely known or appreciated.
3/Now, some people argue that stuff like Social Security or social insurance programs should be included in wealth. But I chose to focus on private wealth because I think having assets you can sell whenever you want is important to people.

4/For many decades after World War 2, middle-class wealth in America was on a smooth upward trajectory.

Then the housing crash came, and all that changed. Suddenly the rich were still doing well but everyone else was seeing the end of their American Dream.
5/Why the divergence?

Because the American middle class has its wealth in houses -- specifically, in the houses they live in.

It's the rich who own stocks.
6/OK so how do we fix this? How do we get middle-class wealth *back*?

Well, the option we've apparently chosen so far is just to tell people "Suck it up. Start at the bottom, and save it all back."

Seems a bit inadequate, no?
7/Now, we can give people more income -- for example, with UBI -- to help them save faster. I'm certainly not averse to that. But it's going to take a while, and it's politically tough, and it depends on people saving what we give them...
8/We can also have the government save money on people's behalf, with a Social Wealth Fund. But while it's a cool idea, I don't think it would feel like "real wealth" to lots of people, any more than Social Security does. It's more like UBI, really.
9/So that basically leaves: Housing. The way the American middle class traditionally gets its wealth.

Can we still use housing to generate broad middle-class wealth? Should we?
10/Well, the answer to the question of "can we" is "yes". The returns on housing are typically very good, when you include rental yield.

As long as people and companies keep moving to cities, the value of urban location (i.e. land) will appreciate.
11/But SHOULD we distribute that wealth via home values?

Doing so presents some obvious problems. It invites NIMBYism -- homeowners leveraging local government to push up the prices of their homes, even at the expense of the economy.
12/Owner-occupied housing is also an illiquid asset that's hard to diversify.
13/But there are advantages to building wealth through homeownership as well.

For one thing, most people SUCK at stock investing, but most people kinda-sorta understand homeownership.
14/Also, having a mortgage nudges people to save more each month, nudges them to invest in a riskier but higher-return asset class, and allows them to take on leverage -- all of which have their downsides, but which allow middle-class wealth to keep pace with the rich.
15/Finally, it's just...what the American middle class is used to.

It's hard to completely revamp our wealth-building system. We may simply be locked in.
16/But then the next question is: How can we change our housing system so that every generation can build wealth, instead of one generation (cough, Boomers, cough) getting all the wealth and then pulling up the ladder behind them?
17/Well, there's the YIMBY answer: Just make cities allow more private housing development, and more housing wealth will be created, and increased supply will push prices down, allowing young people to buy in.
18/A second idea is down-payment assistance -- having the federal government give first-time homebuyers and low-income homebuyers some money to help them buy a home.
19/The problem is, you have to do both YIMBYism AND down-payment assistance at the same time, so you don't just end up pumping up prices and handing taxpayer money to existing homeowners.

That's a tricky trick to pull off!
20/So I had another idea -- a Modified Singapore System, in which the government actually builds new housing and then sells it at discounted rates to first-time and low-income homebuyers.

21/This idea has plenty of challenges, of course. And some drawbacks too. But if we want to get wealth into the hands of the American masses fast, and if we're going to do it through housing, this is an idea worth considering.


Oh, and if you like stuff like this, remember to sign up for my Substack's free email list!

Anyway, now back to your regularly scheduled coup attempt fallout...

More from Noahtogolpe 🐇

1/I'm thinking about the end of Apu in the context of the national debates on immigration and diversity.

2/Apu's presence in Springfield represented a basic reality of America in the late 20th and early 21st century: the presence of nonwhite immigrants.

3/As Tomas Jimenez writes in "The Other Side of Assimilation", for my generation, immigrants from India, China, Mexico, and many other countries aren't strange or foreign. On the contrary, they're a

4/But that America I grew up with is fundamentally ephemeral. The kids of immigrants don't retain their parents' culture. They merge into the local culture (and, as Jimenez documents, the local culture changes to reflect their influence).

5/Simpsons character don't change. But real people, and real communities, do. So a character who once represented the diversity that immigrants brought to American towns now represents a stereotype of Indian-Americans as "permanent foreigners".
Time for panel #3: Big Tech and regulation!

I will be live-tweeting again, and you can also watch video at either the Twitter or Facebook links below!

Kaissar: Every industry gets regulated when it gets big. The question is what kind of regulation Big Tech will get,and whether the companies will be proactive in shaping it.

Kaissar: More profitable companies have higher returns. Why? Maybe it's a risk factor, because more profit = higher risk of getting regulated.

Bershidskyis showing a diagram of GDPR complaince pop-ups. What a massive ill-conceived bureaucratic mess.

Ritholtz: It's 2018 and we're still talking about Facebook privacy settings?! If you're still giving your personal data to Facebook, you just don't care about privacy!

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Rig Ved 1.36.7

To do a Namaskaar or bow before someone means that you are humble or without pride and ego. This means that we politely bow before you since you are better than me. Pranipaat(प्राणीपात) also means the same that we respect you without any vanity.


Surrendering False pride is Namaskaar. Even in devotion or bhakti we say the same thing. We want to convey to Ishwar that we have nothing to offer but we leave all our pride and offer you ourselves without any pride in our body. You destroy all our evil karma.


We bow before you so that you assimilate us and make us that capable. Destruction of our evils and surrender is Namaskaar. Therefore we pray same thing before and after any big rituals.


तं घे॑मि॒त्था न॑म॒स्विन॒ उप॑ स्व॒राज॑मासते ।
होत्रा॑भिर॒ग्निं मनु॑षः॒ समिं॑धते तिति॒र्वांसो॒ अति॒ स्रिधः॑॥

Translation :

नमस्विनः - To bow.

स्वराजम् - Self illuminating.

तम् - His.

घ ईम् - Yours.

इत्था - This way.

उप - Upaasana.

आसते - To do.

स्त्रिधः - For enemies.


अति तितिर्वांसः - To defeat fast.

मनुषः - Yajman.

होत्राभिः - In seven numbers.

अग्निम् - Agnidev.

समिन्धते - Illuminated on all sides.

Explanation : Yajmans bow(do Namaskaar) before self illuminating Agnidev by making the offerings of Havi.

This is a pretty valiant attempt to defend the "Feminist Glaciology" article, which says conventional wisdom is wrong, and this is a solid piece of scholarship. I'll beg to differ, because I think Jeffery, here, is confusing scholarship with "saying things that seem right".

The article is, at heart, deeply weird, even essentialist. Here, for example, is the claim that proposing climate engineering is a "man" thing. Also a "man" thing: attempting to get distance from a topic, approaching it in a disinterested fashion.

Also a "man" thing—physical courage. (I guess, not quite: physical courage "co-constitutes" masculinist glaciology along with nationalism and colonialism.)

There's criticism of a New York Times article that talks about glaciology adventures, which makes a similar point.

At the heart of this chunk is the claim that glaciology excludes women because of a narrative of scientific objectivity and physical adventure. This is a strong claim! It's not enough to say, hey, sure, sounds good. Is it true?