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.

 

 

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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.

Never Forget

With the mitigated joy of having The Donald as president, it is good to remind ourselves of the horror of his predecessor.  David Horowitz does just that for foreign policy at the PowerLine.  His opening salvo:

During the eight years of the Obama administration, half a million Christians, Yazidis and Muslims were slaughtered in the Middle East by ISIS and other Islamic jihadists, in a genocidal campaign waged in the name of Islam and its God. Twenty million others were driven into exile by these same jihadist forces. Libya and Yemen became terrorist states. America – once the dominant foreign power and anti-jihadist presence in the region – was replaced by Russia, an ally of the monster regimes in Syria and Iran, and their terrorist proxies. Under the patronage of the Obama administration, Iran – the largest and most dangerous terrorist state, with the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands – emerged from its isolation as a pariah state to re-enter the community of nations and become the region’s dominant power, arming and directing its terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Yemen.

Do read the whole thing.  It is quite a powerful reminder.  We don’t love The Donald but he is an improvement and he is a better choice than the Secretary of State that implemented these disasters.  It does mean that The Donald has a big job.  We hope he is up to it.

 

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.

 

Punctuation

We can’t resist.  We saw a Nancy Pelosi tweet.

Too many Americans are struggling with a rigged economy. Democrats are committed to giving them [hashtag]

We think the correct punctuation moves the period:

Too many Americans are struggling with a rigged economy Democrats are committed to giving them.

Our excuse is that it was fun.  We doubt 2018 will be fun with the old, dismal Democrats versus grumbling GOP.  It is possible the choices in 2018 will be even less inspiring than the presidential ones in 2016.  The good news is that the stakes are lower without a president to elect.