COMING TOMORROW: How do people puzzle things out?


College football's best: We strongly agree with Kevin Drum about last night's Newsom / DeSantis "debate" on the Hannity program:

DRUM (11/30/23): I watched the first half hour of tonight's debate between California governor Gavin Newsom and Florida governor Ron DeSantis, but that was all I could take. So I have no idea who "won" or "lost."

But just to set the record straight on something I think Newsom didn't make clear enough, it really is true that taxes in California aren't generally higher than in Florida...

Kevin goes on from there to offer some basic statistics; he links to a high-level source. We can't vouch for the perfect accuracy of those statistics, but Kevin goes on to say this:

DRUM: The working poor are better off in California. The working and middle classes are about the same in both states. The upper middle class and the affluent are taxed less in Florida.

The reason for this is that California's income tax is very progressive. The poor, on average, pay negative tax, and the next two cohorts pay about 1%. It's only for the wealthy that California's income tax becomes significant...

We're assuming that's basically accurate. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, California has the most equitable tax policy among the fifty states. Florida has the third least equitable tax policy among the fifty states.

(Warning: The ITEP notes that its data are a few years out of date.)

We assume the claims we've posted above are basically accurate. We also assume that Kevin is right in what he says about Newsom's presentation on this topic last night. Our basic guess would be this:

No one watching that part of last night's debate believed Newsom's claims in this area. To see how implausible his presentation seemed, you can click right here.

Very few viewers would have believed Newsom's claims about taxes in California as opposed to taxes in Florida. When Kevin says that Newsom "wasn't clear enough," he's making a large understatement.

So it goes as we the people get familiar Storylines hammered into our heads. Meanwhile, who are college football's four best teams this year?

On ESPN and FS1, sports pundits have been debating that question all week. This coming Sunday, the committee charged with making that decision will name the four (4) lucky duckies who will compete in this year's post-season college playoff.

It's fascinating to watch the way this topic gets drop-kicked around each year. Here's the blindingly obvious dog which constantly fails to bark:

There is no "objective" way to answer that annual question.

It may just be that the pundits are told that they must never say that. But every year, it's the same thing:

The pundits argue all week long. No one ever notes the obvious fact that there is no way to settle the question, except on the field of play. 

No one seems to realize that the claims for which they're arguing are almost wholly subjective. Everyone seems to think that they're making claims which can somehow be shown to be "right."

We're sorry, Virginia, but no:

You can't go by "the eyeball test"—and you can't trust "expert opinion." All you can do is select four teams—Teams A, B, C and D—and let them battle it out. 

Even then, you can't be sure that Team E wouldn't have won the whole darn thing is they'd been allowed to compete. Also, if Team A beats Team B, everyone knows that Team B may in some cases be better.

There is no objective way to pick the four best teams! Tomorrow, we're going to take you back to the magical year when this basic logical principle became stupendously clear. 

In the year we have in mind, the experts had seemed to be very sure about who the two (2) top teams were. 

(At that time, the committee picked only two teams. Those teams then played for the title.)

The experts seemed to be very sure about the who the two best teams were. But uh-oh! One of the teams the experts liked did get sent to the championship game, where they were forced to play Florida. The other team got dispatched to the Rose Bowl, where they met Southern Cal. 

At those separate destinations, the two top teams got their clocks cleaned by those other teams. Everyone knew that those teams were best, until the fickle finger of fate defrocked them in that manner.

No one knows who the four best college teams are. Analysts argued all week long and no one ever said that!

Coming tomorrow: The Autumn of '06


  1. "it really is true that taxes in California aren't generally higher than in Florida..."

    I googled their budgets and divided them by their populations. I got $5.3K for Florida and $7.9K for California.

    So, California spends 50% more per person. So, how can California's taxes not be higher? Or, does "generally" mean something different in your lingo? Care to explain?

    1. California has a better economy, which means more tax revenues from businesses which are doing well.

    2. Well done, @3:16. California has one of the highest income taxes in the nation. It goes up to 13.3%. Florida has zero income tax.

      The difference may be greater when you include local taxes. Because property values are so high, property tax on my 3,000 square foot house are $40,000 per year. Sales taxes are almost 10%.

    3. Everyplace has taxes. If they didn’t thrre would be no services. Whether it is accomplished using income tax, sales tax or property tax or bond issues varies.

    4. David lives in a 3000 sq ft home valued by the tax assessor at over $4 million (with a likely market value of around $6-8 million)? Utter bullshit. I also own a home in CA, larger than 3k sq ft, so I am aware of housing values and costs in the state, David is lying, like he always does.

      David and the original commenter do not understand how state budgets and taxes work so they are ignorant of the fact that CA taxes are about average for the country and lower than Florida’s.

  2. To heck with football.

    1. Corby likes hockey.

    2. Corby is wise and good. I am Korbi.

  3. DiC - The prime age employment to population ratio just reached the highest level in more than two decades. The Biden economy just keeps getting better and better and better!

  4. Erik Loomis remembers Sandra Day O’Connor:

  5. There are objective ways to pick four teams, just no way to determine which will be the "best" teams. To pick teams objectively just use some combination of the various stats collected on teams and players.

    This kind of semantic nitpicking is annoying. If you could know in advance which were the actual four best teams, why would you need to watch the games? You'd already know the outcomes.

    1. Don't watch the games.

    2. "The undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world."
      If it's undisputed, what the f*** are they fighting about?
      George Carlin

    3. Pro sports points to the servile nature of their many fans. Sports should be for fun and played by anyone and everyone, in playgrounds and backyards, not ogled on tv by beer guzzling zombies.

      Stop weirdly watching others, get out and engage with life.

    4. Sports are widely played by everyone. It creates the fan base for TV.

    5. 2:08 there’s no evidence to support your claim, but based on various health and lifestyle metrics, it is likely that 1:58 is more accurately portraying reality.

      Personally, playing sports lessens my desire to watch sports on tv. That’s just an anecdote, but I find it holds with everyone I know that engages in sports. When you do something for fun, for the thrill of feeling alive, you are less inclined to sit and watch others who take that same activity to such a degree where the main goal is domination.

      The fan base for TV sports watching is more likely a function of how exhausting and alienating our society is.

    6. Pro sports are popular all over the world.

  6. Kevin again:

  7. "Warning: The ITEP notes that its data are a few years out of date."

    Superfluous. No need to qualify that conclusion as applied to now. DeSantis has been governor of Florida for "a few years" and the gruesome Rick Scott was his predecessor.

    Drum wasn't paying attention to the debate with his heroic effort to stay awake during it's first hour. That may be why he wimped out on drawing a conclusion.

    Newsom was up against DeSantis AND Hannity. The first question Hannity asked was an inaccurate slag against California and the question farming continued along that line.
    Despite the stacked desk, Newsom convincingly stated the Biden case for 2024 reelection while DeSantis - who was actually running for President - didn't even hit the radar screen. Hannity unconvincingly claimed "he understood" dozens of times throughout his questions to Newsom.

    It wasn't even close.

  8. Newsom cleaned DeSantis’ clock and didn’t even charge him for it.

  9. FNAF is one of the best horror games I've ever played. It has unique gameplay, engaging storyline, and scary graphics.