To Die For

FC Barcelona has fired Ernesto Valverde and hired Quique Setien.  Barcelona is among the most successful soccer teams in the world.  It fired Ernesto and hired Quique when Ernesto had won the last two Spanish league titles and was leading this year.  Quique’s teams have won 187 out of 500 while Ernesto has won 97 of 145 at Barcelona. From what we have heard Quique was somewhere around Barcelona’s fifth choice for the job. This reminds us of the movie To Die For.  We understand why Joaquin Phoenix’s character would do stuff for Nicole Kidman’s character that leads to his death.  If we were a loser with limited skills then getting to play house with Nicole for a short period is as good as we could hope for.  If you had other choices then Nicole Kidman for a few months or a normal life would be a tough choice for us.  For Joaquin’s character it should have been an easy choice.

Quique had a similar choice but with significantly different outcomes.  He is 61.  He is a good coach but there is no reason for Barcelona to hire him.  He gets a short term opportunity to coach Lionel Messi, perhaps the best soccer player on the planet, and the rest of the Barcelona team for a few months.  It is possible, although unlikely, that he will get to keep the job for a few years.  More likely, the Barcelona stars are getting old and the next coach will revamp the team.  Quique will get to tell his grandchildren that he coached Lionel.  Unlike Joaquin’s character he won’t get killed.  Instead, when they fire him he will get a big check.  We hope Quique enjoys his stay at Barcelona.

Media Deja Vu

We are back from vacation.  We will tell you about the trip later but the hot topic is the Mueller Report and its exoneration of The Donald.  Lots of other folks have weighed in on the report.  Our value added is being in a pub when one of the news shows was reading the report.

It was a deja vu moment because we had a similar moment in an airport in Europe.  It doesn’t matter where in Europe but if you want a guess it was Poland.  One of the countries, again a guess would be Ireland, had made the “wrong” vote as far as the media was concerned.  We couldn’t understand the language but the body language of everyone in the press room made it clear that a mistake had been made.

The report on The Donald was similar.  We could see his picture and hear the voice going over the report but the words were indistinct making it similar to the earlier event.  We only saw one person but the tone of the voice was unmistakable.  How could have this happened?  Kyle Smith at NRO gives us more details on political problems with the media.  We don’t fully share Kyle’s joy that we can ignore the media because we really need a responsible media. But we agree we don’t have one now.

Study Abroad

Mode has some solid tips on studying abroad.  She has advice after you have chosen to study abroad.  We would like to start out with consider study abroad.  Travel is great but living in a country is a far more intense experience.  When we lived in Poland we learned more the longer we stayed.  We have three bits of advice on investigating study abroad.

First, look for scholarships.  MWG is one of those that supports such a scholarship.  It is worth investigating scholarships and other support to see if you can afford it because it is a great experience.

Second, consider all the possibilities.  The traditional study abroad is to spend a semester or year at another school but there are all kinds of alternatives like summer sessions and guided tours in January.  If you want to be with folks from home there are programs like Wisconsin in Scotland where you study abroad but live in a castle with other Americans (we are not sure if it is limited to Wisconsinites).  One of the little Gloves did this and loved it.  Don’t worry if these programs are not at your school because almost every school is looking for folks to fill their programs.

Third, consider study abroad as early as possible.  When you are a junior or a senior you are heavily involved in courses in your major.  It is way easier to stay on schedule to graduation and you have more options if you go earlier.  The exception is if you are majoring in a language.  For example, if you are an accounting major it is extremely difficult to get US taxation abroad but you can probably get Principles of Accounting when you study abroad.  It is better to go later than to not go but later usually requires more planning and advice.  Once we thought we had finished an advising session for the fall when the advisee said that he was studying abroad in the following spring.  We started over again.  Work with both your department and your version of International Education to facilitate your program.

As you get more into your planning you can check out Mode and other folks that have gone abroad to help you with the next steps.  Start today.

Stating The Obvious

We have had a hard day enjoying the Grand deGloves (ages 1, 3, and 5) while driving through the Minnesota snow.  It isn’t snowing hard but combining a little snow with some wind and open places makes driving challenging.  Thus, when we saw Kevin D. Williamson give the following obvious solution to Brexit at NRO:

Here, the United Kingdom has an opportunity to reclaim a very old — and very British — solution: unilateral free trade.

Our immediate reaction was: didn’t we say that first?  We’re sure we have made the point that we favor unilateral free trade but we’re not sure about the example of Brexit.  It is just we are too tired to look it all up.  So, we will support Kevin.  Instead of stressing the UK economy by some convoluted agreement the government could improve the UK economy by reducing stress.

Yes, there will be some losers in the new system but there are always losers in the economy.  Always!  By reducing the stress on the UK economy and energizing the growth fairy there will be more resources to help the downtrodden.  Kevin is a noted skeptic of the growth fairy.

Sidebar: Yes, we have very (!) limited cites today.  Trust us or you can do the work and read our previous posts.  End Sidebar

But even he seems to be drinking the Kool-Aid (and we have a previous post on drinking the Kool-Aid without a cite) on the growth fairy:

Great Britain in fact grew vastly wealthy while maintaining trade arrangements that paid relatively little attention to reciprocity even in principle. British territories, notably Hong Kong, grew wealthy while following much the same model.

The way you get vastly wealthy is through economic growth.  We wonder if he is willing to admit to the long-term existence of the growth fairy?  For sure, we are both in agreement on this simple and easy solution to Brexit: Unilateral free trade.

Cultural Memory

In the NRO Cornor Kyle Smith has Imagine There Is No Cultural Memory that discusses how John Lennon’s pop song Imagine has faded from memory.

Sidebar: We are ambivalent on this particular fading because we believe Imagine to be the worst pop song ever recorded. John, with and without the Beatles, did lots of great things but Imagine wasn’t one of them.   End Sidebar.

Kyle writes:

I think most of those of us who are at middle age or past it have probably already taken note of the phenomenon. Even very intelligent young people who are highly attuned to popular culture have more or less shrugged off everyone who was famous before they were born. If you can be as famous as John Lennon was and be forgotten in 30 years, fame is even more evanescent than we all thought.

We have another and even more vivid example.  A friend, about our age, attended a college class where he and the instructor were the only ones over twenty.  The instructor said some variant of the following: “I’m not drinking that Kool-aid.”  My friend asked if any student knew where the phrase came from.  None did.  In case you don’t here is a brief explanation.  The actual date was 1978 which is over 40 years ago now.  Fame and infamy seem to fade out at the same rate.

Jay On Tariffs

There are, as we often hear, no won causes and no lost causes.  We worry about saying the same thing about the benefits of free trade, the cost of socialism, and the folly of the minimum wage all the time.  We also worry about failing to remind folks on a regular basis about such foolishness.  Jay Nordlinger at NRO has a wonderful contribution on the way to put the question of tariffs versus free trade:

May I give you my view of trade? Each country ought to do what it considers in its own interest. Trade is not a matter of tit-for-tat. It’s a matter of, What’s best for me, or my side? If Paris wants French people to have fewer choices and higher prices, fine. If Washington wants something else — that’s fine too.

You see what I mean? Trade is not a matter of schoolyard score-settling. It requires maturity.

Jay is not an economics guy but as sometimes happens it is easier for outsiders to point out the obvious.   Jay has a great insight and a great way to communicate a common folly on the tariff issue.  What sense does it make to say since you have hurt your consumers we will hurt ours?

World Series History

Spreadsheets are great for all manner of things.  You can keep track of how many books and how many pages you read each year.  You can also track World Series history.  We do it for you and this is your update.  Pay attention.  We use the current location and name of the franchise but it includes all previous stops.  For example, the Atlanta Braves are the Milwaukee Braves, the Boston Braves, and at least two other names in Boston.

The Red Sox moved into third place for World Series wins with nine.  They were previously tied for third with the San Francisco Giants.  The Cardinals are second with 11 and the NYY are far in front with 27.  The Sox also passed the NYY for winning percentage but they are still not top dogs in that department.

Sidebar: For percentages there is always the problem of minimum exposure.  The Marlins, Blue Jays, Angels, and D-Backs are all at 100% but the first two have been in two series and the last two only one.  For percentages we are picking five or more series.  No team has been in exactly three series and only KC has been in four (two and two) so five seems like a nice cutoff.  Of the 30 franchises, 17 have been in five or more series.  There have been 114 World Series.  End Sidebar

The best winning percentage is the Pirates at 5 and 2.  Then come the Red Sox, NYY, and Oakland.

There is also three parts to the dark side to the World Series and this one was important.  The first part is most series losses.  The LAD lost their 14th series to take that ignominious lead from the NYY.  Of course, NYY has 27 wins to go with 13 losses while LAD has just six wins in 20 tries.

The second part of the dark side of the World Series is the waiting list since the last World Series victory.  LAD has now been waiting 30 years but it is not close to the longest wait.  The Mets, Tigers, Orioles, and Pirates have all been waiting longer but the Indians have been waiting over 30 years longer than anyone else.  The Indians last won in 1948 or 70 years ago.

The third part of the dark side is never won and the special darkness of never been in the World Series.  The Texas Rangers were created in 1961 and have made two visits to the fall classic but have no wins.  The Milwaukee Brewers (0-1), San Diego Padres (0-2), and Washington Nationals (never been) were all created in 1969 and have never won.  The Seattle Mariners were created in 1977 and have never been to the World Series.  The Colorado Rockies were created in 1993 and the Tampa Bay Rays in 1998 and both have lost their only trip to the Fall Classic.

The good news is that the dark side gets reversed eventually. The LAD lost their first seven series.   In 2004 the Red Sox reversed 86 years of frustration.  In 2005 the White Sox broke an even longer streak.  In 2016 the Cubs broke over a century of frustration.  Chin up.

Culture Trying To Change Reality

The press, media, writers, and video makers of all kinds try to distort our reality.  There are two problems with this.  First, the majority runs left and it is a distraction if not an influence on all of us.  Two, if you choose to do so in this fractured world, you can limit your exposure to a very limited area.  We were reminded of this as we started Sue Grafton’s novel W Is For Wasted.  Here is Sue on page three:

This was October 7, 1988 ,and it looked like things were as bad as they were ever going to get.

So we are thinking it is tough times for Sue’s anti-hero Kinsey because this is about as good as things have ever been at the end of Reagan’s second term.  We looked it up to check.  Real economic growth in each of the last four quarters was over four percent.  The Cold War wasn’t over but Reagan had made his Tear Down This Wall speech.  Sure the price of stamps had gone up but otherwise it was as close as we will ever see to perfect on the national level.  Instead, Sue was worried about the deficit, unemployment, and stamp prices.  We’re not sure why Sue mentioned unemployment of 5.5% as an item indicating it was as bad as it gets.  It had come down from double digits in the beginning of the decade (here are annual rates) so unemployment reduction was another positive part of the Reagan Revolution.

For a conservative it is hard, but not impossible, to avoid the left because they are numerous, outspoken, and love to generalize.  We are not starting our novel: It was December 2012 and it looked like things were as bad as they were ever going to get.  It does remind us that we should work on that novel and to try to be a little more subtle than Sue was.

The problem is finding a solution.  Our novel won’t do it.  Posting political stuff on FaceBook does more harm than good.  A check to the National Review might help and don’t be afraid of the left in print, film, or in person.


Tony Evers And The Minimum Wage

In Wisconsin we have, for some reason, a tightly contested race for governor between Republican incumbent Scott Walker and Democrat Tony Evers.  It seems, based on the news, like it should be a cakewalk for Scott.  For example, the front page of the local paper reports record low unemployment. A regional employer is offering free rides to their place of business to try and attract employees.  Economic growth continues to hum along.  It is hard to see why there is a contest.

Sidebar One: Try Googling Economic Growth In The Third Quarter.  Several of the articles emphasize that growth slowed from 4.2% to 3.5%.  Of the last 16 quarters only the 4.2% is higher.  End Sidebar One.

It appears from the advertising that fills the airwaves some folks are upset that Scott ran for president two years ago.

One silly part of Tony’s platform is his support for a $15 (yup, that is fifteen dollars an hour) minimum wage.  According to the Wisconsin State Journal as reported in the local newspaper:

Sidebar Two: Close to always we go and find Internet sites for this stuff but this seems well established.  End Sidebar Two.

[Tony], who has touted his support for a $15 [fifteen dollars!] minimum wage in Wisconsin, also said he is open to exceptions to the $15 minimum wage in rural areas and for teenagers.

When we see proponents for raising the minimum wage we always wonder if they are knaves or fools.  Tony has created a third category.  The fools think it is a good idea.  They don’t understand that, amongst other things, workers need to accumulate personal capital to be more valuable to employers.  One crucial way to accumulate such capital is working.

The knaves think that raising the minimum wage will benefit some group they favor.  It might create more government dependency and benefit government workers.  Some union contracts have clauses about the minimum wage and an increase in it might help some union workers.  And there are numerous other possibilities.

Tony, the third possibility, appears to see the minimum wage as a purely political play. He seems to recognize that it is a bad idea and that we can’t punish everyone and so we need exceptions but he continues to tout the idea as part of his platform.  We find that his position is more disappointing that either the knaves or fools.

Politics Of Minimum Wage

The Editorial Board at the WSJ has a real man bites dog story that led us to recognize another side to the minimum wage dispute.  In Revolt Of The Tipped Masses the editors describe the conflict between the Washington DC City Council and the workers they are allegedly trying to help.  Here is the part that turned on the light for us:

Before the measure passed in June, many restaurant workers wore buttons asking patrons to “save our tips” and “vote no on 77.” When Washingtonians passed the measure anyway, the workers pushed for repeal. Though restaurants pay a $3.89 hourly wage to tipped workers, “we choose these jobs because we make far more than the standard minimum wage” from tips, bartender Valerie Graham told the City Council.

As Valarie says, especially in an elite establishment in a big city like DC folks can be making a tidy sum on tips.  A high minimum wage effectively eliminates tips.

Sidebar One: Many of them are not declaring the full amount of tips to the IRS.  It is not relevant to us here but it does increase the incentive to fight City Council.  Partially taxed higher amount is way better than fully taxed lower amount.  End Sidebar One.

Sidebar Two: We are heading for China later this year.  One thing every person emphasizes is that there is no tipping in China.  End Sidebar Two.

What we recognized is that there are two groups of workers adversely affected by minimum wage legislation.  We always emphasize the folks who will lose their jobs and it is a bigger deal to lose your job than to take a pay cut.  The pay cut is a pretty big deal too.  Remember what Valarie said: “We chose these jobs…”  She is a person worth listening to.