The Perverse Incentives facing the American Psychiatric Association

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Which also applies to any medical professional who is compensated through insurance programs and is able to affect what types of things are covered by insurance. There is an interesting post on the Cato Blog called Will “Internet Addiction” Be Our Next “Crisis?”and it mentions a recent NPR interview of a psychiatrist “who believes that internet addiction is indeed a mental health disorder and laments the paucity of programs available to treat afflicted adolescents.” But, “because it is not recognized as a disease in the US, treatment is not usually covered by health insurance.”

This is not to say that psychiatrists will try to have behaviors officially labeled as disorders solely in order to create more opportunities to receive money through insurance claims, but this psychiatrist does say that “some clinicians creatively assign as a diagnosis one of the psychiatric co-morbidities that accompany almost all of their patients with internet addiction, in order to get insurance to pay for it.”

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Is Living Out One’s Beliefs Ignoble or Contemptible?

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I previously wrote about Jason Kuznicki’s flawed economic analysis of the refusal of bakers, decorators, photographers, etc. to participate in same-sex weddings. I feel that it is also important to address his claim that these individuals take satisfaction in the act of discriminating. I believe this reveals how out of touch Kuznicki is in this regard.

I take issue with Kuznicki’s judgment that such people are acting ignobly or contemptibly. Consider this analogy: A non-practicing individual of non-Jewish heritage desires to have a bar mitzvah ceremony. He asks an Orthodox Jewish photographer to take pictures of the ceremony. The latter would rather not participate, as he does not consider it a proper bar mitzvah and believes his participation helps to improperly legitimize what he considers an affront to Jewish tradition. By refusing to participate in the ceremony, is the Jewish photographer acting like a bigot?

I would think the reasonable answer is no, he is not. He is holding true to his faith and traditions, even if he forgoes revenue by doing so. Rather than this being a contemptible or ignoble act, I would think of it as the opposite: the photographer acts according to his conscience even though it may result in embarrassment, disapprobation, etc.

And so it is with the bakers, decorators, and others who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. Seeing marriage as a holy covenant between a man and a woman made before God, they do not wish to participate in a ceremony that they believe desecrates the institution. They do this out of a conviction to following their faith, despite potentially facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil damages, disapprobation by the national media, losing their business, and other negative consequences. How much easier it would be to just betray their conscience! The fact that they don’t, to me, demonstrates strong integrity.

And what should be emphasized is that by doing so, they pick no one’s pocket nor break their legs. Kuznicki does a disservice to the classical liberal perspective by claiming that they do harm by imposing an externality. They do nothing of the sort.

Kuznicki’s concluding paragraph suggests the fragility of the pluralistic, cosmopolitan, liberal (PCL) order that Cato and Niskanen Center-types champion:

We are all crazy by someone else’s lights. By our own lights, we may sometimes seem exiled to a planet full of crazies. We should be careful, then, not to purchase a small amount of symbolic protest at the price of a large amount of gains from trade. We may be on the offensive today, against what we view as the absurd politics of our bigoted neighbors. But tomorrow, someone will come asking about us, and perhaps they will boycott us as well, for reasons that we cannot fathom. Barriers to market entry should not be so easily had: Much of what we do in the way of social coordination consists of strategically ignoring everyone else’s odd, indefensible, reactionary, bigoted, hair-on-fire leftist, or otherwise totally inexcusable beliefs or practices. The market is how we lunatics all get along despite ourselves.

Now, I don’t deny that markets allow people to interact in peaceful ways. But Kuznicki is not clearly distinguishing this from the political order. The PCLs tend to be against political decentralization. One can find numerous blog posts from Cato scholars against state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws and secession, as well as Niskanen Center scholars advocate against such “balkanization.” But let’s be real: most on the left do not share their commitment to not having the state punish people who do things they don’t like. Furthermore, if your intimately-held beliefs are seen as “bigoted,” “odd,” “indefensible,” “reactionary,” or “absurd,” by a sufficient number of people with whom you are forced to associate as part of a democracy, even if those beliefs violate no one’s property rights, will you be free to believe those things?

Despite the tolerance those calling themselves classical liberals like to think they embody, they are clearly not neutral on this issue. Stated in such a way, there is a conflict between classical liberalism and holding traditional beliefs, even if those beliefs hurt no one. Why, from a classical liberal perspective, should certain beliefs that hurt no one be favored over other beliefs that hurt no one? Kuznicki gives no answer.

Crying Wolf

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From a look at the archives of this blog, one should be able to tell that I am critical of the institution of state-provided monopoly policing. I believe criticism of the police, whether they are private or state-actors, is healthy, as long as it is made coherently and with a realistic sense of alternatives.

The incident I’m about to mention, and the outrage that followed, do not belong in this category. Quillette provided a pretty good summary of it. Basically, a black male student at Columbia University entered the premises of Bernard college (the undergraduate all women’s school) late at night and ignored security’s request to show student ID. This student went to the library canteen and was asked to show ID a second time and refused. More officers were called, requested ID again, and he refused. Two officers pushed the student’s upper body into a countertop and he then handed over his ID.

In response to a video of the incident, college administrators, deans, and the president of Bernard college all sent emails to the student body about legacies of racism, etc. The tweets and chants about racist police were sent and shouted.

Responses like this just give further confirmation to supporters of police that critics of the police are just crying wolf, are juvenile, and beyond reason. The security officers (who are not actually police in the sense of government agents who carry guns and claim more rights than the rest of us) enforced a reasonable policy (that is, ensuring that people on the premises of an all-female educational institution are, in fact students by requesting ID when they enter) and did so using the minimum amount of force necessary. The actual complaints people have made about the security officers’ response are singularly unconvincing: that they are racially biased by letting white students enter without checking ID (of which they can provide zero evidence – and regarding which there would have undoubtedly been complaints prior to this incident if this were the case) or that there were too many security officers called for backup (whatever that means).

Though I don’t like to admit it, the more stupid complaints there are about non-events like this, the more Heather Mac Donald is going to be right in her depolicing thesis (which states that in response to criticism, police officers will avoid legitimate law enforcement activities to reduce their risk of being accused of racism, bias, et cetera and as a result, crime will rise). Consider the alternatives now facing these university security officers: do their job and get smeared and placed on suspension, or don’t do their job and allow for increased risk of victimization on campus. If they just let anyone in and, say, a sexual assault occurs, will they be blamed or will notions such as “rape culture” or “toxic masculinity” take the blame* (if such an occurrence even received outside media attention at all)? It’s pretty clear that the greater the costs of doing one’s job, the less willing security officers are going to be willing to do them. And the costs of not doing their job well are deferred and less likely to be born by them (though, unlike government police, the university will internalize some of the costs of having an unsafe campus, and thus it is not the case that university security will have the leeway to slack off like government police do).

*It does, strangely, seem to be the case that for all the emphasis the social justice left places on the problem of sexual assault and violence against women, the cases to which they give the most attention are the ones they are most able to weaponize politically. Downplayed are cases of grooming gangs or New Year’s Eve gropings in Europe, for example. In some cases, leftist policy becomes an unfalsifiable, self-fulfilling prophecy. If people are unable to defend themselves with guns, but are the victims of gun crimes, this is further proof that more civilian disarmament is needed. In this case, if any crimes that occur on campus that could have been prevented through the policy of checking ID, no one will blame the college administrators and Twitter mobs who criticized the security officers.

When dealing with the government…

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There is a contrast between their expectations from you and what you can expect from them. The following is a Tweet from the Canyon County in Idaho, saying you’re just gonna have to wait if you want to get your driver’s license renewed:

 

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However, if the government wants something from you (and it always does), you better have it ready on time:

 

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Can’t pay your car taxes by Oct. 5? You’ll get slapped by a penalty.

 

The government will make you wait, but will not wait for you.

Why Does Steven Horwitz Hate When People Make Money?

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The title of this post is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but essentially describes the topic I want to address. Recently, Steven Horwitz criticized Jordan B. Peterson on Facebook, calling him a “charlatan” who profits off of selling people self-help snake oil. There is more to say about the problems of Horwitz’s post, which Robert Murphy and Bionic Mosquito have already done. What I would like to focus on is the silliness of Horwitz’s criticism of Peterson for profiteering.

For those who may not be aware, Peterson is a psychology professor at the University of Toronto who became fairly well-known for his refusal to obey the Canadian government, which was trying to force him to use people’s preferred gender pronouns. He has garnered quite a following since, with donors contributing tens of thousands of dollars a month to his Patreon. He speaks on a variety of topics, including post-modernism, clinical psychology, and gender.

As far as I can tell, Horwitz seems to dislike Peterson for his critiques of leftist ideas. Horwitz won’t just come out and say this, however, because to do so would just seem petty and reveal that he is intolerant of political thought that differs from his own. That is why he has to criticize Peterson’s academic work, even though it’s highly likely Horwitz has never viewed any of it. But, for some reason, he has to attack Peterson for making money for his efforts.

This is quite strange from someone who claims to be a libertarian and support the free market. Even if he thinks Peterson’s ideas are bad, why does making money based on those ideas through voluntary means make it worse? Indeed, a lot of academics with bad ideas receive their incomes exclusively through their university salaries, which are heavily subsidized by taxes, but I doubt Horwitz has criticized any such academic for making money in this manner. Ironically, therefore, he is criticizing Peterson for making money voluntarily.

If I may engage in some psychologizing here, I think part of the motivation for Horwitz’s criticism is jealousy: Horwitz is unable to make money through selling his ideas to a mass audience. He must tear others down who are successful where he isn’t. This is quite similar to when he belittled Tom Woods for self-publishing some of his books, whereas real scholars like himself are able to find academic publishers who are willing to publish their work. He was probably jealous of the fact that Tom Woods’ self-published books are much more widely read than his own, which very few individuals are willing to pay the prices academic publishers charge. At least this allows him to use the price as an excuse for low sales. I won’t hold my breath waiting for him to self-publish a book, allowing him to set the price and thereby prove that people are actually willing to pay to read his ideas.

Kevin Carson, Creative Destruction, and the Boom-Bust Cycle

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This is probably a waste of time, but I wanted to write about why I think Kevin Carson is wrong in the following passage from his Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective. The relevant text can be found here.

Suppose, for the moment, that right-wing libertarians are correct in the exaggerated claims they make for unlimited division of labor and comparative advantage. Suppose that, despite all the evidence in Part One, it really is cheaper for most people to buy most of the things they consume at Wal-Mart, and work for the wages to pay for them. Weigh that against the uncertainty and vulnerability entailed in the quite significant chance of unemployment faced by most people.

As many right-wing libertarians like to remind us, the days of lifetime job security are long past. The “creative destruction” they celebrate means that people in most lines of work can count on downsizing and job changes at the very least several times in a working lifetime, often with prolonged periods of unemployment and debt accumulation between jobs and significant reductions in pay with each move. The sheer hell of it, for the downsized white-collar employee, was depicted by Barbara Ehrenreich in Bait and Switch. From the standpoint of people who work for a living, often mired in credit card debt, keeping their heads above water only by augmenting their purchasing power with the cash value of inflated home equity, a paycheck or two from homelessness or bankruptcy, the flux of the new economy is a lot less exhilarating.

And bear in mind that many of the same people who denigrate artisan or subsistence labor, most notably the Misoids, are not only the same people who celebrate the “creative destruction” that undermines economic security for so many people. They are also the same people who regularly make the most apocalyptic predictions about credit inflation by central banks, the bursting of the housing bubble, and the Misesean “crackup boom.” No little inconsistency when those attitudes are laid side by side.

The first thing I would like to point out is that I don’t know to whom Carson is referring with “the exaggerated claims they make for unlimited division of labor and comparative advantage.” Does anybody say there is no limit to the division of labor? And what does that even mean? In writing this blog post, would I specialize in nouns, while someone else writes the verbs, and so on? This is reminiscent of Carson’s criticism in The Homebrew Industrial Revolution of those who believe the demand for labor is “infinitely upwardly elastic,” whatever that means.

It’s difficult to understand Carson’s understanding of what the limits of the greater productivity from specialization are. It’s apparent he doesn’t think they are zero, since he seems to like barter as a primary method of exchange. But the fact that he likes barter as such suggests that he sees the productive gains from specialization and trade to be minimal.

More to the point, what is this inconsistency he sees in “Misoids”? As far as I can tell, the inconsistency he appears to see is that if Misoids like creative destruction (and the unemployment that results) they should also like (or not have such a problem with) the boom-bust cycle. [I would like to note that the book the above passage is from was published in December of 2008, but the same text was published on his website in 2005. How about the predictive ability of the Miseseans when it came to the bursting of the housing bubble?] But these are quite clearly very different situations.

Let’s consider “creative destruction.” Why might someone celebrate it? I would imagine it is because it signifies technological and productive progress. One could consider the automobile’s replacement of the horse-and-buggy as a primary means of transportation to be “creative destruction”: a new industry replaces another. Consumers, in their own estimation, considered themselves better off by purchasing automobiles instead of buggies. Of course, some individuals, such as the Amish, were not interested in purchasing automobiles and stuck with their buggies. So is creative destruction something to celebrate? If you drive a car instead of a buggy, it would seem so. Of course, it is unfortunate that people employed in the buggy industry had to find another job. But no one celebrating “creative destruction” celebrates this aspect of it.

And, really, what does Carson propose instead? Unless the world is completely static and everything stays the same forever, there will be people who become temporarily unemployed as technologies or consumer preferences change. Every shift of resources to new technologies will mean that employment in other industries have to decrease. There is no getting around this fact. And trying to stop this process makes everyone worse off in the long run. Had the government ensured that the car never replaced the buggy, the computer never replaced the typewriter, the cellphone never replaced the landline, etc., then everyone, even those who became temporarily unemployed, would be much worse off. Thus, I really don’t see what Carson’s problem is here.

Let’s contrast this with the boom-bust cycle fueled by credit expansion. Misoids generally want the government to not intervene to reduce unemployment in the creative destruction scenario, because if they do they delay resources from being allocated to more highly valued uses. Regarding the boom-bust cycle, Misoids want “no further credit expansion.” That is, Misoids don’t want the central bank to fuel the boom in the first place, because this results in malinvestments that must eventually be liquidated. They also don’t want the government to intervene after the boom turns to bust because, here again, trying to keep people employed in occupations that result in losses means that resources could be allocated to higher uses and the state just delays the process.

As such, there is no inconsistency here.

How do we get the US government to stop aiding the war on Yemen?

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If you want to know why I think centralized “democracy” is an illusion and calling people in Congress “representatives” is an Orwellian torture of language, the following letter I received from the office of Idaho Senator James Risch provides a great example of why. I wrote a letter to the Senator, asking that the US stop selling weapons to the Saudis, who are creating a horrible humanitarian crisis in Yemen. This is what I got back:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding military aid to Saudi Arabia.  I really appreciate hearing from you.

Saudi Arabia has been a strong partner of the United States in the Middle East and played an important role in containing Iran.  While the U.S. has provided a lot of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, the Saudis have paid for all of it.  No equipment has been provided as foreign aid.

As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I closely follow Saudi Arabia.  If legislation regarding U.S. assistance to Saudi Arabia comes before the Senate, I will give it full consideration.

Again, I really value your effort to get in touch with me to share your thoughts, as many Idahoans do.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or other issues.

Very Truly Yours

James E. Risch
United States Senator

I suppose his office didn’t have the proper canned response for my particular objection, but it’s rather insulting that when I say, “Please stop helping to kill civilians in Yemen,” the response I get is, “Hey, we’re at least making money off the deal.”

Update:

After contacting Risch again, expressing that my concern was about innocent people in Yemen, not foreign aid spending, I got this response:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding Yemen.  I really appreciate hearing from you.

Over the past decade Yemen has been home to some of the largest terrorist networks in the world at the same time ethnic divisions and a weak government have produced substantial humanitarian suffering.  U.S. policy has tried to help alleviate some of this suffering while helping eliminate terrorism in the country.

As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I very closely monitor what is happening in countries in the Middle East.  If legislation regarding Yemen and the should come before the Senate, I will give it full consideration.

Again, I really value your effort to get in touch with me to share your thoughts, as many Idahoans do.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or other issues.

Very Truly Yours

James E. Risch
United States Senator

British Neoliberals and Consequentialism

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Recently on the Libertarianism.org podcast Free Thoughts, Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute was interviewed about ASI’s embrace of the term “neoliberalism” and how they distinguish it from libertarianism. Here is a portion of what Bowman had to say:

I think what’s fundamental about neoliberalism is that it’s about the world as it is, right now. It doesn’t really mean anything when the left uses it. They just use it to attack anybody that likes markets to any extent. But there’s a real strand of kind of anti- [00:03:30] establishment and anti-status quo thinking in the Libertarian world, which is understandable given that libertarianism is sort of a very radical, very ,very kind of change the world, shake everything up, and have a lot of disorder right now. Which is fine, but for a neoliberal, somebody needs to defend the world as it is right now. The world is very globalized, the world is very free market, compared to lots and lots of potential alternatives. And I think that really since at least 1989, since the fall of the Berlin wall, we had won [00:04:00] the argument until maybe 2015, 2016. Somebody needs to defend the way the world was between 1989 and 2016. And say, look for all of its imperfections, this was the period, where more people were lifted out of poverty than ever before in human history put together. More technological advances were spread to more people than ever before.

The problem for me, or the reason that I thought that Libertarian wasn’t sufficient, or wasn’t that useful, was that Libertarian preoccupations [00:04:30] were so different from where the debate actually was. And where the debate actually is that we were sort of losing the argument and the argument was taking place without us even being involved in it. We were focusing on very interesting things to do with central banking and stuff like that, while the political kind of center of gravity in the UK and in Europe and in the US was to do with trade, was to do with what should this specific monetary policy be, what should we should on labor market reforms. There’s nothing … you know [00:05:00] I see neoliberalism and libertarianism as sort of compliments of each other. They’re different ways of approaching the world and different ways of approaching debate.

(Find the full transcript and full audio here.)

It was good to hear his explanation for why they would choose to self-identify with a term that many leftists use as a catch-all for almost literally anything bad. I guess we’ll see how well that works out for them. As far as how they distinguish themselves from libertarians and why they think their approach is better, I’m unconvinced. Bowman brings up the example of the minimum wage debate: libertarians, by arguing that there should be no minimum wage, essentially disqualify themselves from the debate. Neoliberals, who instead argue simply that the minimum wage should not be increased, make themselves part of the debate. And similar reasoning applies to most other policy debates: arguing for marginal changes makes one’s ideas more relevant. Once they’ve shown me that they’ve had influence on any debate, maybe I’ll take that seriously.

Also part of U.K. neoliberalism, or at least Bowman’s version, is the rejection of non-consequentialist arguments for liberty.

I call myself a bullet-biting consequentialist. I think [the natural rights view is] both untrue and unhelpful. So I [00:43:00] don’t think you have to agree with me. I’m not claiming to speak for all … I don’t even speak for my colleague on this one, but it’s neither true nor is it helpful. And it’s in fact profoundly unhelpful, so it doesn’t matter that much if it’s true. Even if you think it’s true, the fact that it’s very unhelpful should be enough to make you think twice about how you approach it. Certainly unhelpful in the context I’m working in and it might be different in the US.

The fact that it seems like it’s based on a very … and I say brittle, an [00:43:30] easily rejected way of looking at the world, and the fact that it always ends up making an extremely difficult case that seems to most people completely insane. The idea that it’s better for a person to go hungry, than it is for a rich person to have a pound or a dollar taken away from them. That seems like a very strange reductio ad absurdum. But that’s the position if you are a strict natural rightist you need to adopt, right?

What I find interesting about many consequentialists, who believe they are more pragmatic and empirical because of their consequentialism, is that they often don’t look to historical experience to defend their position or attack their opponents. Perhaps my own view of history is a bit myopic, but when I think of episodes starvation on a massive scale, no instances of governments not being able to tax rich people come to mind. Rather, what come to mind are totalitarian regimes that could take everything from rich dissidents as they pleased. How many people starved to death under the Soviet and Chinese communist regimes? Compare that to how many people starved under any system where a government was not empowered to take resources from some and transfer it to others.

My challenge to libertarian, classical liberal, and neoliberal consequentialists who use such arguments to justify state empowerment is to demonstrate how their imaginary ideal state won’t kill more people than their imagined lack of one. Even ‘liberal’ Western democracies kill foreigners by the thousands. They should not be discounted.

A Note on Weddings, Economic Efficiency, and Externalities

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Jason Kuznicki, editor of Cato Unbound, offered the following economic analysis of traditionalists’ refusal to offer their services for same-sex weddings:

Traditionalists, who would like to discriminate against gays and lesbians, should be permitted to do so. It’s not that they’re doing anything noble or even efficient. They are behaving both contemptibly and to some degree inefficiently when they discriminate. (Note that they impose externalities on others, for the sake of a benefit that they alone consume, namely the satisfaction that they take in discriminating. If they could take this satisfaction from some other act, the externality might disappear. They might also be better neighbors.) In a better world, this sort of behavior would not exist. But by the very same token, we should not prohibit it – doing so would also shrink the extended economic order, the one from which we all benefit regardless of belief.

I am unsure what standard of economic efficiency Kuznicki is using in this analysis, because none that I can fathom would consider the behavior of the wedding cake bakers (or whomever) to be inefficient.

There is the concept of Pareto efficiency, which holds under the condition that no one can be made better off without making someone else worse off. In this case, the bakers have demonstrated their preference not to participate; thus, they would be worse off by being forced to participate, resulting in an economic loss. The bakers and the betrothed, failing to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, made no transaction. This is not an indication of inefficiency. Rather, the lack of transaction between the bakers and betrothed is Pareto efficient.

There is the Kaldor-Hicks standard, also known as the compensation principle, which is less stringent. It is usually used in policy analysis in an attempt to determine whether a change in policy would be more efficient. With any policy change, there are typically winners and losers; i.e., some are made better off and some are made worse off. The question from a Kaldor-Hicks view is whether the winners are made so better off that they can compensate the losers so that they are better off than they were prior to the policy change. From a Kaldor-Hicks perspective, the lack of transaction between bakers and betrothed is efficient: in order to compensate the bakers for baking the cake (something which they value less than not baking the cake), the betrothed would have to make them an offer such that they would bake the cake willingly. Since they did not make the offer (presumably because the price would be higher than how much they valued the cake), we see that the efficient outcome was for no deal to be made.

Kuznicki argues that by not engaging in the transaction, the bakers are imposing an externality on the betrothed, but this is not what economists would consider an externality. And it leads to absurdities. That is, any hypothetical transaction that doesn’t occur, under Kuznicki’s conception of externality, would involve an externality. Not only that, the non-transaction would be a mutual externality imposition. The grocery store, by selling beer for a higher price than I am willing to pay, would be imposing an externality on me. By the same token, I would be imposing an externality on them by not offering a high enough price for them to willingly sell me beer. By Kuznicki’s conception, one could just as easily argue that the betrothed imposed an externality on the bakers by not offering them enough money such that they would willingly perform the service. Moreover, even on Kuznicki’s own terms (that the bakers are consuming the benefit of discrimination at the expense of the betrothed), they are not doing so for free – the price they paid to do so is the foregone revenue they could have earned if they had baked the cake, and the “recipients” of that foregone revenue are the betrothed. Thus, even if we were to consider this an example of an externality, it is not inefficient because the betrothed were compensated for it.

Aside

I wanted to share some solutions that worked for me to some different technical problems. Hopefully someone finds them helpful.

Fixing Chrome OS

For some reason I have not yet determined, my Chromebook (an ASUS C300S) came up with an error message telling me that Chrome OS had an error. Following the instructions given by Google, I created a Chrome OS Recovery program on a USB drive. However, when I inserted this into my Chromebook, I received the error message that Chrome OS was not detected on the USB drive. I tried this with 2 different USB drives and got the same result.

At this point, I am told to contact tech support. They ask me to find the error message and tell me to turn the Chromebook on and off 10-15 times. On the ninth cycle, Chrome OS started normally.

Fixing the USB Drives

After installing the Chrome OS Recovery program on my 2 USB drives, Windows wanted to reformat them, which I did. However, these 7.5 GB USB drives then had only 17 MB of space.

I followed the instructions in the following video and it solved the problem:

It took some effort, since I had many partitions to delete. Furthermore, I ran into an error when trying to delete certain partitions: “Cannot delete a protected partition without the force protected parameter set.” To fix this problem, I had to type “delete partition override” (H/T to TechJourney).

Getting rid of “Activate Service” Notification on Android

I have an LG G4 that I use exclusively with wifi and it brought up an annoying notification that I could not get rid of. Most forums said you could simply hold down on the notification and the “App Info” option would eventually appear, allowing you to force stop the app. This, unfortunately, didn’t happen for me. Other options required having root access to your Android system, and this was more effort than I wanted to put in.

A quick fix that worked for this particular problem was putting the phone into airplane mode and restarting it (it actually took a couple of restarts to work). But in airplane mode, the phone will not search for a cellular signal and will ignore the fact that your phone isn’t activated.

Fixing Chrome OS, Fixing Your USB Drive After Trying to Fix Chrome OS, and Getting rid of “Activate Service” Notification on Android