Heather Wilhelm (here she is at NRO) is the Happy Warrior in NRODT. She quotes Thoreau approvingly, “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” We approve too. It might be a characteristic of expertise in general and sports in particular. For the sports we are most active in, golf, handball, bridge, it rings true.
Sidebar: OK, bridge might not be be classified as a sport: “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Of the five bold words or phrases it surely meets four but would have trouble with physical exertion. On the other hand, playing 26 hands in three hours has some exertion. End Sidebar.
Expertise lies in deciding that doing the same thing and expecting different results is crazy but finding something else that isn’t crazy or desperate. It is a fine line between a calculated risk and desperation. In golf, a low percentage shot over the water is likely to be desperation in stroke play but a calculated risk in match play. In handball trying a shot as a return (the second shot of the point) might be desperation but on the 14th shot when both players are tired it could be a good risk. Bridge with its long events almost always rewards avoiding desperation. Wisdom is knowing that a bottom score is a bottom score. We are on board with avoiding desperation.
George Will recently compared the life of billionaires a century ago to the middle class today. We remembered the Rifleman, played by Chuck Connors (one of twelve people to have played in both MLB and the NBA), being pejoratively referred to as sodbuster by the ranchers. George’s insight that being a billionaire a century ago would be a lower quality of life than what most middle class folks in America face today. George also reminds us that because of inflation a billion dollars in 1916 is worth $23 billion today.
Our point is that we spent a few hours busting the sod as part of a landscaping project this weekend. The lives of lives of those folks a century or more ago was tough, really tough. Work was really work. We did about 800 square feet. The work for acres is hard to imagine. As George points out life expectancy was short and Chuck played a widower.
You might switch with a billionaire from a century ago if you had certain preferences. For example, if you wanted lots of servants you might switch but if you like electronics you would not. On the other hand, it would take very interesting preferences to want to switch from 2017 middle class America to middle class America of a century or more ago. Nasty, brutish, and short would be a good comparison to current life.
Press bias in the local paper is something we are used to. We think that today’s reporting is more likely to be Just Plain Stupid (JPS) rather than bias. The advisory referendum on yesterday’s ballot asks if we should increase the sales tax on tourist related items to, perhaps, pay for road repairs. The local paper’s first paragraph reviewed the results and said:
Most La Crosse County voters support the idea of paying more in sales taxes to generate money to repair the county highway system.
They quote a supporter:
La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson said she was pleasantly surprised at the referendum’s margin of victory, especially considering the push by the opposition in the past couple weeks. “Nobody is jumping up and down and screaming for joy about a new local tax,” Johnson said.
It is technically a local tax but it is not a tax on locals. It is a tax on tourists. We suppose some locals will buy a cheesehead but it is an attempt to tax the folks that come to visit God’s Country (to be fair they use the roads too) rather than the local residents that use the roads more. It is not surprise that residents picked somebody else to pick up the tab for local roads. It is not something to be proud of got either the voters or the newspaper.
One of the nonsense items on my Facebook feed is, “I love PBS.” We suppose that this means that they want the federal government to support PBS. The Donald has recommended otherwise for PBS and NEA. Michael Tanner covers the NEA at NRO. Read it all but this is nicely put:
Art is deeply personal. It touches the core of our being, and helps form our outlook on the world, even our fundamental belief systems. That is one reason why authoritarian regimes have long sought to control art, repress it, or use it for propaganda. For many of the same reasons that we demand separation of church and state, we should want the separation of art and state. It is more difficult to speak truth to power when power pays your bills.
It appears when folks say they love PBS (or NEA) they mean that they want the people with guns to come take money from other folks to fund it. We don’t agree with either being in the federal budget.
We think that eliminating federal funding of PBS will be great for it. Just as Michael explains how much funding is available for the arts, getting off the federal teat will be great for PBS. PBS should take the bull by the horns and refuse federal funding rather than waiting for the shoe to fall. Donations will skyrocket and make up the difference many times over.
Yesterday we disagreed with James Freeman about social and economic conservatives being the same folks. Today, Kevin Williamson and George Will remind us that economic conservatives are subject to division between growth hawks like Larry Kudlow and deficit hawks like Kevin. Kevin reminds us that there are choices and The Donald has not yet confronted those choices.
Our choices are for corporate tax reform, regulatory reform, (elimination is our first choice) and entitlement reform starting with Social Security. We are not going to reduce everyone’s but means testing for Social Security should start today. We believe in the growth fairy. We oppose all tariffs. Growth doesn’t solve all of our problems but it does help many of them. Growth leads to optimism for the electorate and revenues for the government. We are open to lots of other of trade-offs after that. Any personal tax deal needs to be revenue neutral at worst because we see the best growth incentive opportunities on the corporate tax side.
Here is Ann Althouse on W:
He seems so gentle and modest. If he has any actual opinions on these subjects, he’s completely hiding them. And yet I’m sure many people think what he’s saying accords with what they think. He’s speaking the language of traditional American politics — the language Trump eschews. Me, I’m a proponent of clear speech. But Bush is being civil and diplomatic and continuing to follow his policy of not trying to cling to presidential power.
What a nice man. And yet they called him Bushitler.
He is a nice man. He was a good president and an even better ex-president. Like Truman and Ike he was able to walk away. His sucessor should take notice. So should the press.
We are in favor of a limited carbon tax. Our preference is that we eliminate all tariffs, the gas tax, and a few other things and replace it with a carbon tax. There is no need to develop a complicated rebate program because all of the taxes involved are regressive so there is no change in the tax structure.
The WSJ has had a proposal for a more extensive carbon tax. They are kinda against it and explain why:
A carbon tax would be better than bankrupting industries by regulation and more efficient than a “cap-and-trade” emissions credit scheme. Such a tax might be worth considering if traded for radically lower taxes on capital or income, or is narrowly targeted like a gasoline tax. But in the real world the Shultz-Baker tax is likely to be one more levy on the private economy. Even if a grand tax swap were politically possible, a future Congress might jack up rates or find ways to reinstate regulations.
We support a small carbon tax. We do not support a large carbon tax with a “dividend” to some folks. It is inadvisable to make carbon exhorbitantly expensive as it will supply energy for the foreseeable future. It is advisable to tax all forms of carbon equally rather than just gasoline. It is advisable to trade a small carbon tax for a reduction in regulations.
We have some, but not much, sympathy for the WSJ’s concerns about actions in the future by Congress. The Democrats have wanted to increase taxes for the last 50 years. The Republicans wax and wane. The fight against higher taxes and onerous regulations will go on forever regardless of what taxes exist. The Democrats want to increase payroll taxes, increase marginal rates, and create new taxes. They seem likely to continue with these proposals.
Conservatives need to be bold to find solutions. We need to consider a carbon tax and a VAT in reaching our economic goals including lower taxes, less complicated taxes, and fewer regulations. There is a risk in creating a new tax but there are opportunities including eliminating the gas tax and reducing energy regulations. It is time to be bold but not foolish. A step towards a more rational energy policy would be replacing the gas tax with a revenue neutral carbon tax. Regulation reform might be connected to the switch. It is one of many possible deals. Let’s consider them.