Those Countries

The Donald has put his foot in mouth again by describing certain countries as shitholes or perhaps some other scatological comparison.  We think some of the reactions are silly and some are overwrought.  Let’s look at two:

A Facebook comment:

My ancestors came from a shithole country, Ireland, looking for a sustainable life, escaping famine.  [Emphasis added]

A comment on Jim Geraghty in the Morning Jolt:

The message from the president – and the subsequent refusal to deny, retract, or disavow the comments – is clear: people from these places have no value.

Wikipedia takes care of the Facebook comment in one sentence:

The famine was a watershed in the history of Ireland,[1] which was then part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

So, in fact, those ancestors left the greatest economic and military power in the world to try an up and coming United States.  The folks in Ireland could have gone elsewhere but they were often looking to avoid the British who were near the height of their empire.

Jim’s comment might be more over the top than the one on Facebook.  Jim doesn’t like profanity and we would like to see less of it too but we can’t see how The Donald is saying people in those countries have no value.  He is denigrating the country rather than the people.  Denigrating the a country in a large meeting with both parties is not the height of wisdom.  Yet we do not want to end up as the overflow valve for failed countries.  We want countries to be able to verify their citizens for travel and other purposes.

We got the message.  It was poorly crafted.  It was especially poorly crafted considering the audience.  There is no need to try and create another message.

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Tax Cut Complaints

The WSJ is good about bringing in opposing views on its opinion page.  Recently Alan Blinder had a headline of: Almost Everything Is Wrong With The New Tax Law.  We were curious as we have supported it.  We first checked to see his background: Professor of economics at Princeton and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.  The first qualification makes us nervous about his seriousness but it is probably worth reading.

If you are trying to convince the unconvinced then you start with your best shot.  Here is how Alan starts with specifics after saying it offers mere crumbs to the middle class:

Further, once the phase-outs occur at the end of 2025, even most of the crumbs disappear. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the share of tax cuts accruing to the top 0.1% of taxpayers will rise from 8% in 2018 to an astounding 60% in 2027 if Congress doesn’t extend the expiring cuts. [Emphasis added]

So, Alan is telling us they should extend the tax cuts.  We agree.  In addition he slays his “mere crumbs” argument.  The top 0.1% of tax payers get 8% of the benefits in 2018.  We can’t find an exact figure for the percentage of tax paid by the top 0.1% but we estimate it at 19%.

Sidebar: The top 1% paid 38.1% of income taxes in 2012.  Comparing the top 0.1% taxable income versus the top 1% in table 3 shows it to be about half.   Another table shows that the tax rates for the top 0.1% are slightly lower than the top 1%.  So 38 percent multiplied by a half is a reasonable approximation.  End Sidebar.

So folks the super-rich folks paying 18% of taxes get 8% of the benefits.  We would have liked to see the tax cut be more pro growth but Alan winning the argument against himself.  Next he goes for the trickle down slur and then he complains about process.  In between he brings up a real issue: The deficit.  We agree.  It needs to be fixed.  Part of the fix is increasing economic growth through tax policy and regulation reductions.  Another part is reforming entitlements.  We expect Alan’s support as entitlements will come up soon.

Alan convinces that we should continue to support the new tax bill and the provisions should be extended.  It is not perfect but it is a good start.

 

 

 

 

A Great Phrase

Here is Sam Altman discussing how China has become more open than San Francisco.  He starts out:

Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me.  I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco.  I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home. [Emphasis added]

Sam has put it nicely.  China isn’t free as the bold phrase makes clear but San Francisco is worse.  It is like picking The Donald over Herself.  Then he comes up with the sentence we all hope to write.  We need to set it up with another:

Political correctness (PC) often comes from a good place—I think we should all be willing to make accommodations to treat others well.  But too often it ends up being used as a club for something orthogonal to protecting actual victims.

We don’t find the often in the first sentence convincing and the second sentence shows how PC can be the opposite of accommodations but the second sentence is sublime.  It makes a great point in a pithy manner.

We have been working on a piece about how leftist nasty has infected conservative writers.  We know there are reasonable leftists out there but that the nasty on both sides can drown the analysis.  It is nice to find one like Sam.

Appropriate Comments And Not

Some time ago The Donald stirred the pot by commenting on the kneelers in the NFL.  He said:

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, “That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.” And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.

The Donald is right.  People would love it.  We are not big fans of these comments in the manner of The Donald’s immediate predecessor but we recognize the nature of politics.  We would like presidents to be more presidential but the events of the last 25 years have argued against it.

Meanwhile, in India, Vidhi Doshi in the WaPo reports:

The release of a highly anticipated Bollywood blockbuster has been delayed after a politician from India’s governing party offered a bounty of $1.5 million for the heads of the movie’s star and director amid outcry that the film distorted Hindu legend.

Others have threatened to break the legs of the actor who plays the Muslim villain.  Two things:  First, and obviously, the comments of The Donald and the Indian politician are entirely different.  It does’t matter if the latter’s speech constitutes fighting words or not.  This is not a legal issue.  It is an issue of appropriate behavior.  The Donald is OK and the other is not.

The other point is how the WaPo categorized this outbreak of incivility.  Was it intolerance, racism, or something else?  Here is what they said:

The violent reaction to the film’s release further suggests a groundswell of conservatism in Modi’s India.

It appears that conservatism is consistent with calling for cutting off heads and breaking legs.  We are not sure how Vidhi came to that conclusion.  We would be interested to hear Vidhi’s description of conservatism.

Never Sorry On The Left

Jim Geraghty in The Morning Jolt provides a summary showing how free speech exists for the Left.  He reports:

A lot of right-of-center sports fans don’t particularly like Jamele Hill, the co-host of the 6 p.m. Sportscenter on ESPN, who tweeted Monday that “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
Late last night, she issued the statement: “My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs. My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light. My respect for the company and my colleagues remains unconditional.”

Think about how everyone spent eight years criticizing any mild comment about The Donald’s immediate predecessor.  Mentioning his middle name was verboten.  Now we have The Donald being accused of not just a being racist but a white supremacist surrounded by other white supremacists.  We would like to know who Jamele thinks they are.  Perhaps it is Betsy DeVos who is helping to reinstate due process at colleges for folks accused of rape and provide educational opportunities for inner city children.

Then there is Jamele’s statement.  It sure isn’t an apology.  We’re unsure as to why she thinks they painted ESPN in an unfair light.  She should show her love for ESPN because they didn’t fire her.  We don’t want Jamele fired but we didn’t want Curt Schilling fired either.  After that ESPN said:

ESPN is an inclusive company,” ESPN said in a statement. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

ESPN can fire folks as they see fit.  We don’t want to boycott them but their programming is less interesting lately so we watch less of it and rarely visit their website.  We would like them and the press to have some consistency in these situations but that isn’t going to happen.  Jamele deserves the same as Curt under ESPN’s criteria.  We don’t have a solution but it is easy to see why they are in financial trouble and perhaps the market will provide that solution.  Insulting half your audience is never a good idea for a mass marketer.  Doing it at a time when it is easy to cut the cord seems like bad business.  It will take the market awhile but ESPN and Disney will get a response for their behavior.  We do love markets.

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.

Amy Wax And Heather Mac Donald

Over at the NRO Corner, Heather Mac Donald has a nice summary of the attempts to lynch Amy Wax.  Amy Wax and Larry Alexander published an op-ed on the breakdown of bourgeois culture that led to Amy and Larry being called lots of names.  If you haven’t read the Amy and Larry’s op-ed you should.

Sidebar One: The treatment of Amy provides a strong case for tenure.  Amy is a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  End Sidebar One.

Amy and Larry have share arguments and treatment with Charles Murray.  See here for Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) hit piece on Charles.  And here is his charming response to the vile name calling by SPLC.

Sidebar Two: When we searched “Charles Murray,” here are partial entries of the first three outcomes after the ads and unconnected items that clutter up the search.
SPLC: using racist pseudoscience
SHAME Profile:Charles Murray is one of the most influential right-wing ideological architects of the post-Reagan era. His career began in a secret Pentagon counterinsurgency
Salon: Big government has created a new lower class of lazy, shifty, low-IQ folks,
A free research project is to investigate the outcomes of search engines when searching political folks.  Do you get equally negative outcomes for progressives?  End Sidebar Two.

Heather concludes with the critical issue:

Now the question is: Where is the rest of the faculty? Rather than taking the safe position of supporting free speech (which the dean has done), how about if someone actually rebuts the charge that to call for a restoration of bourgeois values is to endorse “white supremacy”?

Universities become political piñatas because of the behavior of faculty and administrators.  Both faculty and administrators should be advocates for free speech and academic freedom.  Amy’s dean is doing the minimum.  How come he doesn’t have 100 percent support from the faculty and other administrators?  In addition, some need to have the courage to make reasoned judgments about content.  It is, exactly, what we as faculty are expected to do.  Signing a letter is not a reasoned judgment.  Neither is name calling.

Universities are dying because of our lack of courage.  They are dying first because we get no political support.  We are dying secondly because we don’t work on our mission.  We need to do better.  The actions of the other faculty is enough to make you wonder why we have tenure.  If only one tenured faculty member is willing to stand up to X.  What do we call X?  Fascists seems trite.  We don’t need to agree with Amy but we do need to apply our skills to her assertions.