Facebook Foolishness

We woke up this morning and checked our Facebook feed. The percentage of nasty was especially high out there today.

Being nasty to conservatives:

Bret Stephen is one of the NY Times’s conservative columnists, but he sure gets it.  [Here is a better link to Bret.]

Supporting beauty pageants twice:

Miss America 2018 makes history: She says the US withdrawal from the Paris accords was a bad decision.
Miss Texas tears into Trump in a blistering 15-second takedown on live TV.
[We are old enough to remember when the left didn’t like beauty pageants.]

Being nasty to FoxNews:

Weatherman interviews random person, turns out he’s the smartest person to ever be on FoxNews.  [We suppose these folks watch FoxNews so much that they would know.]

And it is the morning of 9/11.  To be fair there was one post on 9/11 expressing love to the survivors and another by a Congressman supporting Kate’s law.  Neither were nasty.  It continues to escape us why many folks think conservatives are mean.





How Times Have Changed

In the WSJ there was the expected editorial from an unexpected source.  This is how Laura Tyson started off:

Corporate tax reform is one of the few issues that attract bipartisan support in Washington. Lawmakers from both sides agree that the current system is deeply flawed. Because the U.S. hasn’t updated its tax code in 31 years, Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to level the playing field for American businesses and workers.

We have not detected as much agreement or enthusiasm from the Democrats as Laura suggests.  We are not even sure about the Republicans.  So who is Laura?  The brief bio at the bottom tells us.

Ms. Tyson is a distinguished professor of the Graduate School at the University of California and serves as an economic adviser to the Alliance for Competitive Taxation. She headed the Council of Economic Advisers and the National Economic Council during the Clinton administration.

We hope she knows something we don’t.  It would be great to see a bipartisan bill to reduce business taxes and specifically corporate rates.

Laura advises the Alliance for Competitive Taxation (ACT) which describes itself as a coalition of leading American businesses.  Most of us remember the Clinton administration.  We don’t remember Laura.  Perhaps we should have.  Here is an ACT summary:

Specifically, the coalition [ACT] believes a globally competitive tax system [for the US] would include:

  • A 20% or lower federal corporate tax rate.

  • A modern territorial tax system aligned with all other G7 countries.

  • A tax base that defines income in a manner similar to other “best in class” tax systems and allows a full deduction for ordinary and necessary business expenses. Limitations on interest expense, for example, should follow the international norm of “thin cap” rules rather than an across-the-board disallowance.

MWG can support this.  We have explicitly supported the first two bullets but we don’t link to previous posts.  The third bullet is implied as we have not argued for eliminating the interest deduction.  Can Laura or anyone get bipartisan support for this?  Can she run for president as a Democrat?  As she is at the University of California, could she replace Dianne Feinstein in 2018?

It is a sign of the times that Laura was part of a Democratic administration last century.  We hope she, or somebody like her, will be invited to the next Democratic administration.  It doesn’t seem likely today but JFK was a Democrat.  Jimmy Carter was often serious about economics, especially deregulation.  Bill Clinton, Laura’s boss, had his economic moments.  Things change.  They may change back.

The Donald And DACA

The Donald plans to end his immediate predecessor’s (HIP) Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in six months.  It is estimated to affect about 800,000 illegal aliens.  The action by HIP was widely recognized as unconstitutional so The Donald’s wisdom in this action seems obvious.  The crazy reaction it has led to is amazing.  Here was one on my Facebook feed:

Trump needs to be deported–not these aspiring young people. What a CREEP he is!!! And certainly delusional too–as Andy Borowitz so aptly summarizes in this article.  (God help this country with this wacky, cruel, traitor for a president.)

We see there is no evidence that these folks are aspiring.  We see no evidence that they will add to anything other than Democratic vote totals.  We checked out Andy at the New Yorker.  It says it is satire from the Borowitz Report and here is a sample:

“Under this new decision, if you have worked hard, gone to school, and contributed to the country, you face immediate deportation,” one legal expert said. “On the other hand, if you can prove that you have a glaring personality disorder and a flimsy grasp on reality, you can decide the fate of those other people.” [Quotes in original]

It is possible that Andy is making fun of the legal expert but it doesn’t seem like it.  There are six months for Congress to act as only Congress should.  If they don’t act it is unlikely that any large percentage of these illegal aliens will be deported.

The WSJ isn’t much better.  We know that they are open boarders advocates but they should have more respect for the rule of law even when it is the immigration law.  The editors start the second paragraph with:

[The Donald] was at his worst during the campaign when he assailed DACA as an “unconstitutional executive amnesty,” though to his credit he later evinced a change of heart toward these immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Why was this The Donald at his worst?  It is not quite clear but a couple of paragraphs later they admit:

But as a legal matter, they are right that Mr. Obama’s DACA diktat presents legal problems. The Constitution gives Congress the power to write immigration law, and issuing work permits confers a right that is the purview of the legislative branch.

So the WSJ agrees that The Donald and most everyone else is right that HIP’s action was unconstitutional.  The Donald give Congress time to act.  We hope they find some common ground to improve immigration policy and that the executive branch enforces that law.  The Congress needs to find a way to compromise.  It would help the Congress develop some backbone if folks responded more reasonably to events.

A Different Profile

We were going to avoid commenting on Catherine Rampell’s silly attempt to smear the Republican Party.  We didn’t think she was worth our time but after reading and commenting on Aaron Hedlund’s serious piece in the NRO we felt we had to make a comparison.  Aaron was taking a risk with his career to start a serious discussion.  We are not sure what Catherine was doing or why she was doing it.  Here is how she starts off:

Republicans have one idea and one idea only: That we should cut taxes for the rich. The only thing that changes is the sales pitch.

Goodness!  That is the whole first paragraph.   Catherine writes for the Washington Post which is often thought to be a serious outlet for news and opinion.  The HardingKennedy (he is an honorary Republican now), Reagan, and Bush tax cuts were across the board.  The Romney tax cuts would have been across the board too if we has the sense to elect Mitt.

Most of the interest this time around, however, is on reducing business (including corporate) taxes.  So after smearing The Donald, The Donald Jr., Betsy DeVos, and Jared Kushner she says:

A slightly different trickle-down pitch (one Romney, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, and other prominent Republicans have also made) has to do with capital formation.

If corporate income taxes and capital gains taxes fell, then shareholders would get to keep a higher portion of corporate profits. That means investors might be willing to offer more capital to businesses, and thereby help them expand — which could grow jobs and wages.

Ah, start the old trickle-down lie.  Thomas Sowell takes this caricature to task in depth.  Here is part of his conclusion:

To the extent that the American economy has changed since the time of Andrew Mellon, it has changed in ways that make it even easier for wealthy investors to escape high tax rates. A globalized economy makes overseas investments a readily available alternative to buying taxexempt bonds domestically. Even if the domestic tax rate is not “high” by historic standards, what matters now is whether it is high compared to tax rates in other countries to which large sums of money can be readily sent electronically. Meanwhile, unemployed workers cannot nearly so readily relocate to other countries to take the jobs created there by American investments fleeing higher tax rates at home.

Of course, Catherine and rest of the left wants laws to prevent the flight of capital and organizations from the US.  She is also implying that corporate taxes fall entirely on shareholders.  There are two problems with this.  First, shareholders are widely dispersed.  Secondly, and more importantly, it is unlikely that corporate taxes fall entirely on shareholders.  Here is what the CBO found:

Even though the majority of the studies conclude that labor bears a substantial burden of the corporate tax, the various methodological limitations put the reliability of those specific estimates into question. Indeed, trying to address the long-run incidence of general corporate income tax is a daunting task, and these studies have made attempts at using the data available to provide insight into that question. However, it remains unclear where incidence will fall in an open economy. [Emphasis added]

To summarize, the notoriously right-wing CBO (satire alert!) found that research generally showed that labor bears a substantial burden of the corporate tax but it can’t be certain that the research is right.  We wonder how they do their projections if it is (and it is) unclear when will happen in an open economy.  Reducing corporate taxes is likely to improve corporate decision making and it is also likely to help labor.

Robert Verbruggen notes that economists disagree (a shock!) on how to increase wages.  One way that has substantial but not complete support from economists would be to reduce corporate taxes.

Catherine’s piece is very different from Aaron’s.  Aaron has made his arguments and stuck his neck out.  Catherine has just told us she doesn’t like Republicans and really dislikes The Donald and his associates.   She has offered amazingly little other than reciting some dubious mantras of the left.  They do, however, have one similar shortcoming.  Neither has suggested a willingness to compromise.  We think there needs to be a compromise to make a breakthrough.  Many are possible but here is our suggestion: reduce the corporate rate to 15 percent, eliminate the federal gas tax, and enact a carbon tax equal to or even slightly above the current gas tax.  It is a deal that gives something to the climate folks, the deficit hawks, economic conservatives. Each group loses something as well but you can’t trade Don Buddin for Mickey Mantle.  It is time for political folks to do political stuff.



No And Yes

This appeared on our Facebook feed recently:

Everyone OK with using socialism to clean up after Harvey?  Or should we use the free market.  Just asking for a friend.

The obvious answers are no to the first question and yes to the second.  Here is the funny thing: The quote comes from the US Democratic Socialists page!  Does anyone really think that socialism is effective or could be effective with these kinds of problems?  The WSJ has a nice story on self-organized volunteers.  Does anyone think that capitalism or free markets will not be effective?  We are sure that Mark Perry has something on how folks will try to blunt the market’s ability to get the necessary items to Texas by fixing prices.  Ah, here is one.  If you want effective solutions you need markets.

Or is it that the socialists what Texas to suffer?

Enough Never Trump

We love Kevin Williamson, Jonah Goldberg is often entertaining, and David French writes but the NRO Never Trump Brigade needs to find a new song.  Today it is Kevin’s turn to salt the soil:

Some of the smarter right-wing talking mouths on cable news have already developed aggressive amnesia regarding their own complicity in Trump’s rise, and it is likely that many will follow. The line of argument will be: “Hey, I was a big Ted Cruz supporter, really, but, after the primary, it was Trump or Hillary.” Some people will need reminding of what they said and did.

To be fair to Kevin, he is against impeaching The Donald.  To be fair to us, we were for anyone but The Donald in the primary.  Like many, we were not a big Ted Cruz supporter but we voted for him in the primary because he was better than The Donald.  In the general election our first choice was Mitt’s second term but that wasn’t on the ballot.  The choice, and it was a binary one, was between The Donald and Herself.  We, and the country, made the right choice and voted for The Donald.

NRO deserves some credit for The Donald’s rise.  They were steadfastly against The Donald but tried to beat somebody (The Donald) with nobody for most of the primary season.  They, like many others, underestimated The Donald until it was too late and then nothing worked.

Many of The Donald’s supporters main concern was illegal immigration.  There has not been a legislative solution but there has been a change:

Illegal immigration across the southwest border is down more than 60 percent so far under President Trump, officials revealed Tuesday, even before the first new agent is hired or the first mile of his promised border wall is constructed.

Those supporters have gotten what they wanted.

It was a binary choice in November.  There were many folks that reluctantly supported The Donald.  It was the right choice.  If the Never Trump Brigade didn’t support The Donald in November then they were wrong.  They don’t need to admit it but the Never Trump Brigade needs to stop emulating The Donald.  Write less silly stuff.  Instead let us talk of serious things.

Bias By Viewpoint

James Damore, the fired Google employee, tries to identify biases by viewpoint in his email that led to his firing.

Sidebar: Part of the title of the cite above describe the email as “An Anti-Diversity Screed.”  It is not Anti-Diversity as it tries to find ways to increase diversity.  It is not a screed as in a ranting piece of writing.  Since screed also includes a lengthy discourse and the email runs ten pages then it might sneak in as a screed but it is the opposite of a rant.  It is a plea to be rational in augmenting diversity  End Sidebar.

James tries to identify biases of the left and right.  Below is his analysis of the biases of the left and right and the text that follows from the email.

Left Biases

  • Compassion for the weak
  • Disparities are due to injustices
  • Humans are inherently cooperative
  • Change is good (unstable)
  • Open
  • Idealist

Right Biases

  • Respect for the strong/authority
  • Disparities are natural and just
  • Humans are inherently competitive
  • Change is dangerous (stable)
  • Closed
  • Pragmatic

Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.

Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.

You can decide if James is a man of the left or just trying to curry favor with the left as almost all the biases on the left are positive and the majority of biases on the right are negative.  Certainly compassion for the weak, change is good, open, and idealistic are positive attributes.  Whereas alleged conservative biases: Authority, change is dangerous, and closed are certainly negative.

A great book would be (please cite us but no need to send a check) to examine postulates and biases of the left and right.  We don’t have the time or inclination to write it.  Metaphysics just doesn’t interest us that much.

In the two paragraphs below the lists, James tells us he is trying to reason with the authorities at Google using evidence.  As we would expect, it didn’t work.

The nature of biases is that we don’t notice them.  Thus, both the left and the right commonly accuse the other of being impervious to facts.  The outcome with James would suggest that at least one of the groups is correct.  [Yes we are scoring points.  We agree that both sides can be guilty of ignoring the facts.]  The larger point, however, is “You’re biased!” is a good way to start a fight but a bad way to start a discussion.  Even though James said you’re biased in the kindest and gentlest way by giving the left nicer biases than the right he still started a fight that he could not win.  It is unfortunate that James was figuratively burned as a heretic.  We do need a discussion about how the means of genders and races can be different.  Otherwise, the liberals in Silicon Valley and academia will continue to bang their heads against the walls of statistics and get nothing more than a headache while the liberals in government will give folks headaches.