Designated Survivor Disappoints

The second episode of Designated Survivor was immensely disappointing.  The first show was a great start with about to be fired HUD Secretary Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) being the title character when the unthinkable happens.   It looked to be an exciting show because so much was going on.  Kirkman would be under fire from both international positions and domestic positions.  He dealt with Iran in the first show.  Kirkman’s wife is interesting but his self-absorbed son Leo promises to bring lots of drama to the White House.  At the same time the cause of the attack is in question and there is conflict between the investigator Hannah Wells and her boss.  There is the unsettled disposition of Hannah’s love interest who on Capitol Hill at the time of the attack.

All this was washed away with hateful cops and hateful Republicans in the second show.  Michigan’s governor, a member of AEI, has decided to go the full FDR and imprison all Muslims in Michigan.  Oh, and there is an evil surviving Republican woman that seems nice at first but we know will be evil.

Sidebar: the AEI is the  American Enterprise Institute.  In its own words:

The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world.

We are committed to making the intellectual, moral, and practical case for expanding personal freedom, increasing individual opportunity, and promoting free enterprise in America and around the world.

It took a hard, and undeserved knock from the show.  End Sidebar.

We still like the show.  Tom is an interesting guy with enough conflict to make Jack Bauer happy.  It is laughably biased during an election year but there are still lots of interesting thinks going on.  When the bombers turn out to be white Christians we might rethink our position or we might suspend disbelief again.

Dad And Playoff Baseball

When we were 11 we had a chance to win the local Little League playoffs.

Sidebar: You can play Little League through age 12.  When we played the cut off was August 1 birthdays.  My brother was had an unlucky birthdate of July 25.  The difference between 10 and 11 and 11 and 12 is massive for most kids.  End Sidebar.

We had good 11 year-olds and a star 12 year-old pitcher.  When we say star we mean Little League dominance.  In one game, six innings, he struck out 16, caught a pop-up, and fielded a grounder.  That means that only the pitcher, catcher, and first baseman, your humble scribe, touched a live ball that day.

It was a typical knockout playoff: one versus four and two versus three with the winners playing off for the league title.  My dad was the manager and decided to risk saving our star for the championship game if we got there.  We won the first game.  That evening we got a call from the opposing manager.  These were small town teams so the games were actually in different states.  Dad talked on and on with the opposition as only he could without giving up the crucial information about who pitched for us.  Finally, in exasperation, the other manager asked: Who pitched for you?  A two word answer: Robbie _____.  End of conversation.  We won that championship and the next.

I thought this story might have relevance to the Toronto Blue Jays who look likely to be a wild card entry in the AL playoffs.  JA Happ is having an amazing year for them at 20-4 with a nice ERA and WHIP.  However, Aaron Sanchez is almost as good at 14-2 with a better ERA but worse WHIP.  The dad move would be to save them both for Texas and start Francisco Liriano.

Instapundit Exonerated By TN

As we suggested, the University of Tennessee could do itself and academia a whole lot of good by doing this:

Following Professor Glenn Reynolds’s tweet and my public response last week, I began an investigation that included an examination of the facts, policies in the university’s Faculty Handbook, and the law. I discussed the situation with Professor Reynolds, university leadership, and General Counsel. I also sought feedback from College of Law students, staff, faculty, the Alumni Council and Dean’s Circle, and other UT Law alumni. As a lawyer and a law school dean, I know that gathering information and upholding the principles of due process are absolutely necessary in a situation like this.

In short, no disciplinary action will be taken against Professor Reynolds. The tweet was an exercise of his First Amendment rights. Nevertheless, the tweet offended many members of our community and beyond, and I understand the hurt and frustration they feel.

Well done Dean Wilson.  We would have left out the last sentence but that is a minor quibble.  She has helped her school and improved our standing in the community.  For once academics look serious.

Update: We disagree with David French at the NRO Corner:

It was unwise to commence an investigation in the first place, but UT reached the right resolution very quickly.

We know universities.  Being found innocent is a very positive thing.  If Tennessee did not do this then it would have hung around Instapundit’s neck forever.  Dean Wilson did him an extraordinary favor by resolving it quickly to his benefit.

The Week In Sports

These weeks come so rarely but this was a rare week for MWG.  The Red Sox won seven games to extend their winning streak to 11.  They have clinched a wild card berth and have reduced their magic number to one.  They scored the winning run like this tonight.

The Patriots beat Houston 27-0 on Thursday.  The Pats winning at home is not unusual but it was not expected when Brady was out and then the second stringer went down leaving a rookie to start on a short week.  We saw the Pat beat Houston in Houston last year but they had Brady and Gronk and Houston had QB problems.  This year, except for a cameo by Gronk, it was all different.  Houston had a QB and the Pats did not.  Now the Pats have a two game lead in the division while Brady is waiting to join the team.

Arsenal beat Chelsea in the Premiership 3-0 and, of lesser interest, Nottingham Forest 4-0 in the EPL Cup.  Chelsea has been Arsenal’s nemesis in recent years.  Even last year Arsenal finished second and Chelsea finished tenth, Chelsea won both meetings.  It was Arsenal’s first win over Chelsea since 2011.

We are not big NCAA fans but it was nice that Wisconsin beat Michigan State and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse won.  The only downer this week was that the king, Arnold Palmer died.  There are heartbreaks to come but we can enjoy this week.


Academic Opportunity

Dean Wilson at the University of Tennessee is investigating Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) for his tweet in regards to the unpleasantness in Charlotte.  As Fire analyzes the situation and correctly points out that Twitter is a private organization that can take action against Reynolds while the University of Tennessee is a public organization that is bound by free speech and university regulations.  Fire thinks it extremely unlikely that Reynolds speech is unprotected.  We agree.

We think, however, that the investigation is warranted.  As Fire quotes Dean Wilson:

I am aware of the remarks made last night on Twitter by Professor Glenn Reynolds and of the serious and legitimate concerns expressed by members of the UT Law family and the University of Tennessee community, as well as concerned citizens across the country. Professor Reynolds’ comments do not reflect my views and opinions, nor do they reflect the values of the college and university.

People are up in arms and the university needs to react.  We are academics so we approach most things academically.  Hence, an investigation is appropriate.

There are three likely outcomes: recommended punishment, acceptance, and complete exoneration.  There is work to be done before final recommendations can be made.  A brief but complete exoneration would do wonders for Dean Wilson, the University of Tennessee, and all of academia.

Remembering Venezuela

The NYT reports:

To add insult to injury, the Venezuelan government has been forced to turn to its nemesis, the United States, for help.

Just to remember, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world.  Despite this, it is buying oil from the United States!  It is hard to say if this is good news.  The citizens are suffering terribly but this disaster might lead to regime change.  Speaking of regime changes that we’d like to see:

But those profits have evaporated with mismanagement and the drop in global oil prices over the past two years. Now, even Venezuela’s subsidized oil shipments to its vital ally Cuba are slowly being phased out, oil executives with operations in Venezuela contend, forcing Havana to look to Russia for cheap oil.

The citizens of Cuba and Venezuela have had to undergo the awful application of socialism.  Perhaps the failure in one country will lead to changes in both.  We can hope.  It seems unlikely that Putin and Russia have oil to sell cheaply so Cuba will have even more problems.  We wish we could see the current President (mi amigo) or the next President helping the citizens of these two countries but the current President is out of the question and the two candidates for the next seem highly unlikely to have the leadership necessary.

On The Other Hand

Yesterday we had kids to be proud of.  Today we have adults to be ashamed of.  Jodi Foster, a person thought to be pretty smart, is quoted on Facebook as saying this:

Attacking the rich is not envy.  It is self defense.  The hoarding of wealth is the cause of poverty.  The rich aren’t just indifferent to poverty; They create it and maintain it.

It is Facebook so it is entirely possible that Jodie didn’t say that.  Somebody, however, thought it was worth saying and attaching Jodie’s name to it.  If you think the size of the pie is fixed consult history or ask Deirdre McCloskey.  The most important fact in economics is that the pie has expanded in Europe and other English speaking countries for over a couple of centuries.  It has expanded more recently in other countries that have make similar choices about expansion.

Now if Jodie is taking about the rich folks that want to raise the minimum wage or restrict the economy in other ways then we might find some common ground in the last sentence.  We don’t think that is what she means.

Kids To Be Proud Of

In the Washington Post on Parenting by Jody Allard:

We were sitting around the dinner table talking about the news. As soon as I mentioned the Stanford sexual assault case, my sons looked at each other. They knew what was coming. They’ve been listening to me talk about consent, misogyny and rape culture since they were tweens. They listened to me then, but they are 16 and 18 now and they roll their eyes and argue when I talk to them about sexism and misogyny.

“There’s no such thing as rape culture,” my other son said. “You say everything is about rape culture or sexism.”

Kids everyone, except for the mom, can be proud of.  Perhaps she will reconsider that somehow she has raised kids that can think for themselves.  Good luck kids.


The Trouble With Capitalism

An oft repeated warning is: The trouble with socialism is socialism.  The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.  Here WFB cites Willi Schlamm as the source.  That is, socialism does not work as we see in Venezuela, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere.  Capitalism does work but capitalist work to undermine it.

Dave Kong is president and CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts.  He would seem to qualify as a capitalist and his recent article shows why they are the trouble with capitalism.  The title of the piece is, “Dear U.S. Presidential Candidates, Here Is Why The Country Needs A Secretary Of Travel.”  It is on LinkedIn and it appears to be serious.  If it is a spoof it is really well done!  Here is part of his argument:

We currently have 15 separate Secretaries reporting to our President, covering everything from Agriculture to Defense to Energy and Education. But where’s travel? As it stands now, our interests are marginally served by the Department of Commerce, and we rub up against the Departments of Transportation and State, and others too. However, we have no true champion in the White House and it’s time ─ we’re a two trillion dollar economic engine. By contrast, the Department of Agriculture operates 266 subsidy programs and employs more than 91,000 people across 7,000 offices, and in total the agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed $789 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2013.

Do we think that the Department of Agriculture is what we want to emulate?  It does seem clear that he wants money and favors from the government.  He needs to remember that the money and the favors come at a cost.

We might look at Uber and local governments [we know he is making a federal government argument] to see how they encourage innovation.  Austin Texas has banned Uber.  You could also look at the challenges AirB&B has had as well.  Unless you are looking for handouts or protection from innovation the government doesn’t have much to offer you.  A more interesting question is: why haven’t more governments outsourced transportation to Uber?

We all want protection.  The government will give it to us for a little of our freedom.  Capitalists are often happy to make a deal with the government and that is how we end up with crony capitalism and the related problems.

Both of the presidential candidates have crony problems but in the Wisconsin Senate race, Ron has a strong record for competition while Russ does not.

More On Regulation

Kevin Williamson has a wonderful piece at NRO following up on our note from yesterday on inflation being largely limited to four sectors with significant government intervention: Healthcare services, housing, prescriptions and education. Do read all of what Kevin says and ignore the one quote below.  He is right in his conclusions but he does, however, make one wildly incorrect assertion that we would like to clear up.  He says:

Because higher education is not very competitive (it is dominated by government schools that will lose little if any revenue if a dissatisfied student — which is to say, a customer — decides to go elsewhere)

Kevin is absolutely right about administrative bloat but absolutely wrong about government schools not worrying about losing revenue from enrollment reductions.  It is our biggest worry.  Almost all government universities are funded by states so we will use states in our discussion.  Fifty years ago, generally, students paid a trivial amount and states paid the rest.  California was tuition free although there were some fees.  The recent past has seen states balance their budgets through tuition increases.

Sidebar: Without data, our take is that state spending on universities is flat to slightly down while costs are up substantially.  Clearly, state support is smaller as a percentage of tuition but it is not clear that state spending on universities is down much.  We will try to follow with another post.  End sidebar.

Now even in-state students pay a large portion of the cost education.  Out-of-state students are even more critical because they pay higher rates.

Failing to attract students will reduce a public university’s budget.  Failing to attract the predicted number of out-of-state students has the same impact.  In Wisconsin the reduction is generally immediate.  If you do not meet your revenue targets then you must give the previously budgeted amounts for spending back.

Satisfying students is even more important because in demand schools can, with appropriate approvals, charge higher prices.  In demand schools charge higher prices and get more revenue.  In demand schools that meet students needs get better students and that leads to better performance on rubric like retention and graduation rates that keep the budget cutters at the state level away from your school.

In short, it is an intensely competitive time at most public universities.  Even flagship schools like UT-Austin and Madison are not exempt.  We might wish that the competition was not on all the levels it is but it is competitive in useful ways as well.  It is why the US university system is the best in the world while less competitive K-12 is not.