Oh Canada!

Kyle Smith discusses the left’s infatuation with Canada and Justin Trudeau at NRO. As part of the suggestion that these folks take up permanent residence there he says:

It’s not as if there’s no room. Canada is a land of 36 million people spread out over 3.9 million square miles. Among the 100 largest countries on earth, it ranks 99th in population density. Canada is empty.

Unlike Kyle, we are unwilling to start or donate to a Kickstarter campaign to send these folks north.

Sidebar: Well not necessarily north.  One of them lived in Detroit and if you go south from Detroit the first country you enter is?  Yep, Canada.  End Sidebar.

We agree that Canada has lots of room to welcome folks but we wondered about the data.  Our first question is: What country is number 100?  Our second question is: How did Kyle determine the largest 100 countries?

It is hard to answer the first question without answering the second although it seems likely that Kyle has Australia at 100.  It is much like Canada: Big and with a lot of people but very low population density.

It sounds like Kyle means area when he says the 100 largest countries on earth.  If that is correct then he is mistaken and there are some interesting definitional problems.  Canada is number 230 in population density on this list and second in area on this list.   Botswana (231/47), Mauritania (232/29), Nambia (236/34), and Mongolia (239/19) (in addition to Australia (235?/6) are all below Canada and it the top 100 of area.  The Aussies get a question mark because they are listed as 236 but they should be 232 by the data presented.

But the results work for population,  See this list.  It takes a bit of work but Canada is 99 and Australia 100.

The definitional problems are Greenland and Western Sahara.  Greenland is:

Greenland is a Danish-occupied territory of Denmark, but Greenland is not a member of the European Union. It is part of the North American continent, and Greenland is the largest island in the world, excluding Australia and Antarctica, which are continents. The prime minister of Greenland is Kim Kielsen.

It is large and if you think it is a country it is by far the one with the lowest population density and it would be the 12th largest country.

Western Sahara:

has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since the 1960s when it was a Spanish colony.[7] The Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement, with its Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) government, both want control of the territory.

If you think it is a country it is 238/78.  That makes it less dense than Canada and still in the top 100 in area.

Three lessons: First, be careful with wording.  The 100 largest counties will be interpreted as area. Second, cite your source.  Third, it is easy to dispute data and lead to confusion about the point.  Whether Kyle’s data is exactly right or not, his point that Canada has lots of space is right.  Sensitivity is important.

 

Barone’s Assertions

Recently on NRO, Michael Barone was talking about The Donald and his critics and especially the critics of his Warsaw speech.  Michael said:

But Trump’s text included praise of Poland’s and Western civilization’s resistance to Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, empowering women, striving for excellence, valuing the dignity of human life, debating and challenging “everything.” Presumably, Trump’s critics embrace each of these products of Western civilization.

The Donald has lots of critics but we are talking about critics on the left here.  Critics on the right would embrace all seven of these products of Western civilization even if they would not agree with the left on how to challenge.

Sidebar: We could debate that conservatives don’t want to challenge everything.  When someone at a concert, play, or movie says something politically insensitive, conservatives are reluctant to challenge it.  Another difference between the groups is that conservatives like freedom from politics more than liberals.

We recognize that critics on the left vary but here is our take for critics on the left.

Resistance to Nazis: Embrace.
Resistance to Commies: Don’t Embrace.
Empowering women: Mixed – see support of Islam.
Striving for excellence: No – quotas are the solution.
Valuing the dignity of human life: No, abortions and euthanasia.
Debating everything: No- see Evergreen State et al.
Challenging everything: mixed – again see Evergreen State et al.

It is the problem of Red versus Blue and conservatives versus liberals.  The former sees Western civilization as worth embracing and the later sees it as something with lots of warts.

 

It Is Not Our Fault

We were not going to write on the current issues of health insurance and health care but Catherine Rampell forced us into it.  There are real important issues in the debate and decisions about what the federal government should do about health insurance and health care.  Some of them include:

How to stop Medicare/Medicaid from bankrupting the government?  See George Will at NRO.
Treating employer paid health insurance as taxable income. This creates all sorts of perverse incentives but might reduce the next issue.
How to keep the supply of health care sufficient despite price controls?
How to find competition so consumers have choices.  One-third of the counties will have one Obamacare provider in 2017.

When we saw Catherine’s yogurt analogy headline we were hoping she would come out for less varieties of yogurt.  The number of yogurt options at the supermarket is astounding.  And then there is frozen yogurt.  We could use a few less but then we don’t eat it in any case.  Rather she suggests that there will be a plan that covers one kind of cancer but not another.

Sidebar: The University of Wisconsin System has 28 health plans and four different levels to choose from.  That would be 112 choices.  I’m sure Catherine thinks that is far too many for human processing.  Not everybody at every school can enroll in all programs.  End Sidebar.

Healthcare reform is difficult because there are lots of moving parts.  The few choices that the GOP might add is not going to overwhelm consumers.  Neither will the GOP be able to fix all that is wrong in one bill.  We hope they make progress and hope that they recognize that the job won’t be finished.  Let’s tune out Catherine and worry about serious stuff.

Good News In Missouri

Dave Jamieson from the Huff Post reports good news from Missouri although he doesn’t think it is good news.  Missouri Republicans have prohibited localities from taking the minimum wage into their own hands.  Dave writes:

For low-wage earners in St. Louis itself, the new law will have a startling consequence: It will actually push the minimum wage back down, from the city-approved $10 per hour to the state-approved $7.70. The downgrade is slated to take effect on Aug. 28.

For someone earning the bare minimum, that’s a potential cut of 23 percent.

Obviously, for somebody earning zero the percentage increase can’t be computed.  It is great to see the GOP helping out the poor and unskilled by giving them the opportunity to create human capital.  Well done!

A conservative issue is whether the action of the Missouri GOP is proper.  What they did was:

[T]he state GOP recently passed what’s known as a statewide “preemption” law, forbidding localities from taking such matters into their own hands.

Much has been written about the relationship between the states and the federal government.  Not much has been written about the relationship between the states and localities.  Can the state of Missouri do this?  Is it wise to do it?  Our initial take is yes and yes but it may need more thinking.  At this point we see the right of the state to limit local actions such as property taxes so the minimum wage is another acceptable limitation.  We welcome more debate on this relationship.  The wisdom of the Missouri GOP in eliminating St. Louis’ increase of the minimum wage is obvious so there is no need to discuss that.

Never Trump Again

Jonah Goldberg continues to spend time trying to justify his NeverTrump obsession.  It was a good idea that NRO put the newsletters on the website so they are easy to reference.  Jonah says:

Conservatives for most of my life argued that character matters. That went by the wayside for many people in 2016.

Well, we suppose it depends on what he means by many but we continue to have a different take than Jonah.  We don’t think that conservatives generally changed their evaluation systems in 2016.  Character didn’t matter in the 2016 presidential election because it wasn’t on the menu.  Folks didn’t worry if The Donald or Herself were an iota less reprehensible because character was not a positive attribute for either.

Sidebar One: Why has iota survived as definition for a very small quantity?  We assume it was used in this meaning in schools at one point but when?  We used and saw lots of Greek letterers we were in grad school all those years ago but none of them were named iota.  When did iota happen?  End Sidebar One.

Jonah wants to measure character on an absolute level.  Character was a positive attribute for every GOP nominee between Nixon and The Donald.  This is not to say every GOP nominee had relatively superior character than their opponent but they had a positive absolute level of character.  Character can also be measured on a relative level.

Sidebar Two: There has been much discussion about the left’s attempts to smear the character of previous GOP nominees made telling the truth about The Donald’s character difficult.  There is some insight to this point of view but we see that bringing up character when you are trying to promote Herself is a losing proposition.  End Sidebar Two.

Sidebar Three: We once asked students if Rita Crunwell, who embezzled millions from Ronald Reagan’s hometown or fictional Walter White was worse.  It was a fun exercise because, like 2016, both were of poor character on an absolute scale.  End Sidebar Three.

The Donald was a dominate choice in 2016 because of the alternative, Herself.  The worst attributes of The Donald, character and trade, were matched by Herself.  The Bernie is an economic fool of epic proportions but his nomination would have made a more difficult choice for conservatives because he would win the character argument.  Character does matter but it didn’t matter in 2016 because it wasn’t an option with either candidate.

Three Small Things

When we were department chair that was a faculty member that liked to come to visit but somebody had told him, perhaps the previous chair, that if it was not time sensitive than three little things were needed for such a meeting.  It was fun to watch the struggle to come up with the third.  We have three little things today.

First, we heard Paul McCartney cover the Beatles tune, The Things We Said Today.  It was really strange to hear one of the same voices singing the song but without The Beatles harmony.

Second, we are finishing the collection of Victor Davis Hanson 2016 NRO columns: From One Revolution To The Next.  We envy his writing skills.  It is a great read and an excellent way to revisit the the tumultuous year of 2016.  His consistent insights on The Donald are impressive.  We’re not sure how you can buy it as it is not listed at the NRO store and it is a National Review Book.

Third, there was a follow up in Ask Amy about a contractor with a Trump bumper sticker.  A reader wrote in and said polled friends and all of them said, “Chase him off the property.”  Amy said it was nothing to be proud of.  We were impressed that she published the response and that she took her reader to task.  If only the university administrators had courage like that.

 

Capitalism Question

George Will has a great article at NRO on capitalism.  He puts the choice that Americans face this way:

In the accelerated churning of today’s capitalism, changing tastes and expanding choices destroy some jobs and create others, with net gains in price and quality. But disruption is never restful, and America now faces a decision unique in its history: Is it tired — tired of the turmoil of creative destruction? If so, it had better be ready to do without creativity. And ready to stop being what it has always been: restless.

You should read the whole thing but in case you don’t, we want to reinforce what he did say and note what he doesn’t say.  George has some nice examples of the changes that capitalism has wrought in the grocery business.  Capitalism leads to net gains with constant disruptions.  We would like to discuss two things that George does not mention in the article.

First, what is the alternative to capitalism?  A good analogy is earthquakes.  With capitalism you get small quakes all the time as the market reacts to new conditions.  Over time you get the results that George notices where, in just over a century, the A&P goes from zero to a 75 percent share of the grocery business to bankrupt.  The alternative is to try and forestall the little earthquakes.  The pressure still builds up and we get epic economic events like the former USSR, eastern Europe, and Venezuela to name a few.  Economic change is coming.  The question is how do you want it?

Second, George makes no comment but capitalism and open borders are not connected.  Folks try to connect the two because the Venn Diagram of the two groups of supporters has a substantial overlap but they are unrelated things.  We support the former but not the latter.