Bad Rhetoric

Nicole Gelinas is taking aim at James Damore’s argument over at NRO.  She says that James has a right to his opinion but he is wrong:

[Google] claims to encourage internal dissent and debate, and that is what Damore provided. But the contents of his memo are nothing to celebrate: He said nothing that hasn’t already been said, in tiresome fashion, for decades.

Nicole then does what she accuses James of without even a change of paragraph:

Damore, like any novice rhetorician, relies on straw men. He is concerned that in aiming for perfectly equality of the sexes, Google will deplete its financial resources and become less competitive. Google’s tech workers, however, are 80 percent male, and its leadership is 75 percent male. If the company is indeed striving for numerical equality, it is a long way from the danger zone.

She actually does it right in the title: Biology Is Not Destiny.  Nowhere does James make such a claim.  Means are different.  Does Nicole think that the 39 percent Asian-American tech force at Google (her stat) is the result of bias?  The are two differences.  The first is that nobody can accuse Nicole of being an novice rhetorician.  The second is that James is explicit about using the extreme case.

Google has been emphasizing diversity for quite a period and spend lots of money without moving the needle.  Biology is not destiny.  But sexes and races can and do have different means.  Yes, John McEnroe is roughly right about Serena Williams.  If you don’t accept that you end up like universities.  You may remember that the provost at American University denied tenure to Carolyn Brown, who identifies as hispanic, because of her Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEI) scores.  More important for our discussion are the diversity reactions like her chair (well, actually director but it sounds like a chair):

But [John] Watson warned that scholars of her stature, particularly scholars of color, get offers to go elsewhere fast.

“It’ll be a yearlong process to replace her,” he said. “The likelihood we’ll get another woman who is a minority is a tick above zero.”

We understand John’s attitude.  Leadership, including the provost is all over him to get diverse faculty members but then the provost fires Carolyn.  All of the department’s work has gone for naught.  If you asked is there a separate market for diverse faculty the answer would be yes.  The prices are higher because the completion is intense.  Or Carolyn’s reaction:

“They used me as a face of diversity,” Brown said, “and when I went up for tenure, they threw me away. It’s really disappointing. I’m still kind of devastated.”

You can’t fire me because I add the diversity that you crave.  We interviewed for a chair position at another school.  Part of the interview was to meet each of the faculty individually.  One meeting was real short because the faculty member said that her diversity status made her untouchable.  She may have been right.

Nicole is wrong.  The outcome of Google is not going to be a few yoga classes.  Question: does Nicole want to exclude men from those classes?  Google has already spent years and many millions on this.  If they want to meet their goals they will move further towards the university model with different hiring standards and different retention standards depending upon your diversity value.  If you want diversity you can get it because universities do but the cost is high.

 

 

Venezuela Clarity

Rich Lowery is on point in discussing Venezuela at NRO.  He has a great way of summarizing how bad things are there:

The result is a sharp, years-long recession, runaway inflation, and unsustainable debt. The suffering of ordinary people is staggering, while the thieves and killers who are Chávezista officials have made off with hundreds of billions of dollars. At this rate — The Economist calls the country’s economic decline “the steepest in modern Latin American history” — there will be nothing left to steal.

The situation leaves The Donald with limited options as Rich discusses.  Read his whole analysis.  What he doesn’t remind us of is the policy of The Donald’s predecessor.  To him Chavez was mi amigo.  As Patrick Cooper at USA Today had a quote from AP back in 2009:

“President Barack Obama has gone abroad and gored an ox — the deeply held belief that the United States does not make mistakes in dealings with either friends or foes. And in the process, he’s taking a huge gamble both at home and abroad, for a payoff that could be a long time coming, if ever.”

Read all of Patrick’s column to remind yourself how controversial the predecessors actions toward Venezuela were.  The Donald’s predecessor always seemed willing to gamble with our future.  If we were at the track we would say he wasn’t an astute improver of the breed.

Recently we cited David Horowitz at PowerLine on why the Middle East is a disaster.  The Middle East is not the only disaster left for The Donald to work out.  We wish him greater insight than his predecessor.  The problem is he has less degrees of freedom because of the actions that were taken.

Heresy – Can It Be A Good Thing?

Reihan Salam invites conservative opprobrium in what we think is the latest National Review (yes, we admit to being behind on our reading) when he says we should consider raising the top tax rate to a number that starts with a four.  This will bring reasoned responses like: Kill the witch!

Well, seriously, we might consider Reihan’s suggestion.  We agree with him that there are two questions: What are the options and what you get in return?  Like Reihan, we want corporate tax reform.  Unlike Reihan, we prefer rate reductions rather than immediate expensing.  At a minimum we would also eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax or AMT as part of the trade-off.

Before you get out the robes and start the incantations for Reihan and your humble scribe, you need to think about what is actually going to be proposed and what will pass.  This is nowhere near our proposed policy but our priority is corporate tax reform.  What are your priorities and what deals are you willing to make?  If you are not willing to go the full Monty Hall then do you think that anything will change for the better?

Consumer Friendly

We’re bad with names so we forget who at NRO makes this point over and over again.  We’re pretty sure Mark Perry is on this case too.  We’re also late reading The National Review.  In the latest edition, Dan McLaughlin says [third paragraph], “Since 1978 the Republicans have built their economic message around tax cuts and business-friendly regulations …” [emphasis added]

Dan is right about tax cuts but absolutely wrong on the bold part.  The GOP’s message is about consumer or market friendly regulations.  Of course, the GOP is responsible or partially responsible for a number of business-friendly regulations like Dodd-Frank, tariffs, and many restrictions on economic freedom created by the federal government.  Those regulations are business-friendly because they protect existing businesses.  But the GOP message is about economic freedom which means consumer friendly or market friendly regulations like eliminating requirements for opening businesses.  The GOP is not perfect but its message is economic freedom.  That is the opposite of business friendly.

A Nice University Story

We are preparing a post on the problems with universities but first here is one about a successful university program.  Competition among universities in each state means that students have choices and programs can have an identity.  The identity of  the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) is about state-wide programs.  The identity of the Department of Accountancy is a 150-hour undergraduate program that emphasizes internships at public accounting firms.  Most of the internships are with firms that are not the Big Four.  All of the internships, with the possible exception of some with the federal government, are well paid.  Internships lead to connections with firms that lead to a variety of positive outcomes including scholarships for students.

Here is the story of McKenzie Hofmann, an accountancy major at the UWL:

So, when Hofmann started college, she heeded her mother’s advice and applied for as many scholarships as she could. Now entering her senior year, Hofmann has earned $13,000 total …

Today Hofmann is glad she switched majors and started on the accountancy path. After a full-time internship at a public accounting firm in the Twin Cities, Redpath and Company, spring semester, Hofmann was offered a full-time career with the firm. She’ll start after her December 2017 graduation.

It is a common success story at the accountancy program at UWL: scholarships, internships, and permanent employment.  So McKenzie made $13,000 from (tax free) scholarships and probably more on the internship but that’s taxable.  The program works for students that make it work.

Venezuela And US Taxes

OK, it is a bit of a stretch but there is a comparison between the debacle in Venezuela and reforming US taxes.  It comes from Larry Kudlow’s discussion with Art Laffer and Steve Forbes posted on NRO.  They are talking about how to restore prosperity:

Incentives matter: If you reward an activity, then people do more of it. If you punish an activity, people do less of it.”

But for the tax side of “one big idea,” Laffer would like to see corporate tax reform. I agree. Reagan used to say, “Give me half a loaf now, and I’ll get the other half later.” Well, I’d take the half loaf of corporate tax cuts right now. And that would work for Forbes, who can see income-tax reform following corporate-tax reform. “Even if we get to this two years down the road,” he said, “I think [Trump would] be amenable to doing something radical like a flat tax.”

Socialism and the lack of incentives to produce are part of what is killing Venezuela. The other part is the incentives and abilities socialism gives to those in power.

Incentives are a big problem because the US corporate tax is just about the highest in the world and it is one of the few that is world-wide rather than territorial.

Sidebar One: A more nuanced explanation from the Christian Science Monitor says that most systems are hybrids of territorial and world-wide.  The issue is still the same: Do we (the US) want to tax US corporations that want to invest international funds in the US.  The incentives are really far wrong when we penalize US companies for investing in the US.  End Sidebar One.

Sidebar Two: Most of the problems with writing US tax rules and enforcing them relate to the high US rates.  If the US rates were equal to or lower than most other countries then corporations would not try to use legal and sometimes illegal means to move income out of the US.  The Congress would not need to worry about all the fine print on transfer prices and the like.  The IRS would not need to spend so much time enforcing the fine print.  Lower corporate tax rates are win–win-win.  End Sidebar Two.

We are happy to see Larry, Art, and Steve endorsing changes in the corporate tax system first.  We wish they did it with more conviction.  We wish they would leave out first.  The choices about what to do about Venezuela are complicated and difficult but relate to getting incentives better.  The choices about US tax legislation are easy.  Do corporate taxes by lowering rates and making it easy to invest in the US.  We don’t care if the solution is territorial or hybrid as long as it fixes the problem.  It is the biggest opportunity to improve incentives the most.

Speaking Of Pro-Market

As we said recently, we are pro-market and the left is anti-market.  The Boston Globe has an example, Jeffrey D. Sachs:

Our current political travails can be traced to Reagan. In his jovial way, Reagan would quip, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” With his sneering disrespect for government, Reagan ushered in nearly four decades of tax cuts, deregulation, and rising inequality that now threaten to devour our future. Trump, Ryan, and McConnell are the scheming and vacuous politicians at the end of a long process of decline.

It would be hard to be jovial and at the same time have a sneering disrespect for government.  He did make some progress on tax cuts and deregulation (Jimmy Carter helped on deregulation) but much has been undone since he left.  Here is a recent example of the undoing.  We’re not sure about Trump but certainly Ryan and McConnell have been complicit in the regulating and taxing of the USA.

What is the left worried about an economic irrelevancy like income inequality?  Perhaps they see it as a path to power?  Envy is a common disease.  We need to fight for economic freedom and remind folks that absolute economic success is what we should pursue.  Eating the rich is not a useful way to accomplish that.

For example, in year one A earns $50,000 and B earns $50,000 and have no income inequality.  In year two A earns $100,000 and B earns $150,000 so there is income inequality as B has 60% of the income.  Both A and B should prefer year 2.

Economic freedom and the related economic growth are the solutions to our economic problems.  We need to use the effective tools like markets and see that the growth fairy lives.