Tuesday, January 30, 2018

advice for some in the political arena

A few nuggets from Thomas' op-ed...

-For those who claim to be a Christian: if you were/are critiquing Obama/Reid/Pelosi or Trump/McConnell/Ryan without praying for them (I Tim 2:1-3), then repent and kindly shut up until you quit sinning in that area.

-If you have/had very different standards on Donald's exploits and Bill's exploitations (or Hillary's enabling), please cut it out-- for us and for you: you look like a tool.

-If you're defending or condoning any of the three on these grounds, quit telling us you're a conservative or a liberal. You've forfeited your card. If you want your card back: repent; value principle over politics, partisanship and power; and quit working so hard to enable sin and yahoos.

Friday, January 19, 2018

distinguishing between immigration and naturalization!

I hadn't thought through this possibility from Ryan McMaken-- naturalization vs. immigration. We might let you in, but that doesn't mean we need to figure out a path for citizenship for you, under certain conditions.

It's probably too difficult to add it to our dinner conversations, such as they are, on immigration. (At first, I was thought that the author was going to generalize this to American citizens who could trade their citizenship for benefits. Really provocative!) 

But would this work-- happily for our handful of liberals and conservatives, tolerably as a compromise for the larger number of immigration liberals and immigration conservatives, and a nice move forward for the vast set of voters who hang out in the middle on this issue?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

political forecast for Nov 2018

It's possible that the Dems would over-play their hand on Trump or some aspect of identity politics like this-- to the point of causing electoral trouble. But probably not. 
Even so, assuming the economy is still strong... (This is to be expected given the business cycle-- post-Bush/early-Obama/Congress/Fed trying to manipulate it-- and perhaps heightened a bit by tax reform and some deregulation.) They should expect, at most, modest gains in 2018.

on immigration and the Class of 2018

In some ways, immigration is not all that difficult to analyze. The first key is an opening concept from an Intro to Microecon course. When immigrants come here to work, buy, borrow, sell, etc., they engage in voluntary, mutually beneficial trades that are good for them and for society.

(Of course, there's more to life than econ. Most notably, if one wants to add a political element, we want immigrants to be good citizens too-- no crime, terrorism, etc. If one is concerned about culture, arguments can be made about degrees of uniformity, etc.)

If they come and get/stay on welfare benefits, then it's a net drain on society, in efficiency terms. (Of course, there's more to life than efficiency. But we shouldn't imagine that the inefficient is efficient.)

And note that all of the above can be said about domestics too!

A useful way to think about immigration is the difference between accepting vs. sending-away the high school Class of 2018. Sending them away would have some obvious benefits-- in particular, less labor market competition. But on net, even with some deadbeats, yahoos, and ne'erdowells, it's a lovely thing that the Class joins us in the workplace and in society.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

on Aziz Ansari: Grace and grace; sex as physical vs. so-much-more; words vs. mind-reading; and "protect the white women"

Matt Walsh sounds correct to me...a strong article on a tough topic. Any thoughts/debate/questions?

-Nice observation on the politics of this: "Ironically, conservatives are always accused of wanting to criminalize promiscuity but liberals have actually done it."

-On sex as sin in society and more than the material/physical, see also: U of L's sex scandal and the NCAA's tacit recognition that sex is (much) more than an "improper benefit" of a certain material value.

Here's the author's punchline for those struggling here (or in other realms): "Moral courage is required to resist pressure and temptation. It is no one's fault but your own if you lack it. Our godless society has long been engaged in this campaign to alleviate feelings of guilt, not by discouraging the actions that provoke them, but by making the person who feels them into a victim. You’ll notice that we have a “disease” or a “condition” to explain just about every vice...So, as cowards, we retreat back under the shelter of deflected blame...Anything but personal responsibility. Anything but shame. Anything but guilt. Anything but sin. And nothing gets better. And we never feel better. But, we tell ourselves, at least it’s not our fault."

How many things go back to Genesis 3 and our beliefs about Genesis 1-2?! The great Good News is that (free) forgiveness and freedom are available for those who will acknowledge and repent. Ironically, the woman anonymously refers to herself as "grace"-- and that's the key to the story, for those with eyes to see and eats to hear. #EmbraceTheGrace
Wow...there's a bunch of stuff on this story: I've never heard of him or this episode. Maybe I should pay more attention to "the news" (i.e., this crap)? Nah...

Here's Ben Shapiro on the connection to "mansplaining" and the equivalent view that men should be much better at reading minds. Ironically, women are known for talking and explaining things in (often grim) detail. But in this context, the words apparently fail them. (Bari Weiss also pursues the mind-reading angle in the NYT.)

Here's Sonny Bunch on how this could harm (or even "derail") the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Among other things, he focuses on Grace's red/white wine comment-- and what it says about her and the editorial process of the publisher.
A more sympathetic view from Megan Garber in The Atlantic on the "paradox"... 

And from Caitlin Flanagan, also in The Atlantic, including a nice reference to this episode as "revenge porn" (one wonders if she went home and enjoyed a nice glass of milk-- a la "Get Out") and a scathing final paragraph on it being ok for white women to go after dark-skinned men. What a weird place we've come to-- when the white woman attacked by the dark, bad man becomes a liberal trope. (How do we know she's white? Because she took pictures and posted them in the original story.) 

Erick Erickson notes that contemporary culture has been taking us this direction for decades. But what looks like freedom here ends up in various forms of slavery. No surprise from a biblical worldview, but a shocker to the worldly wise.

Monday, January 15, 2018

CA worst on the poverty rate (using a more sophisticated measure)

At first, I was surprised by the article title. The standard measure of poverty would put CA's rank in the mid-30's. But the popular stat does not adjust for cost/standards of living, implying that CA's true poverty will be understated. (Along those lines, this AM's trivia question: which city in Indiana has the highest poverty rate?)

But the author is using a more sophisticated measure of poverty which adjusts for cost-of-living and includes non-cash government assistance as a form of income (two of the four key ways in which the popular measure is deeply flawed). 
Because it's a better measure of poverty, it leads to better questions and hopefully, better inferences. Here, why is CA struggling so much?

One likely/easy answer: by their design, since they include cash (and here, non-cash) benefits, poverty rates are much more a measure of dependence on govt than standards of living. And to the extent that people are motivated by benefits and benefit reduction as income rises (on average, an implied 80-90% marginal tax rate), benefits will encourage earning less (reported) income. Since CA offers more liberal benefits, so they're going to generate more poverty.

Friday, January 12, 2018

a note to David Leonhardt (NYT)


I was in a FB discussion with folks about Trump's "racism" and one person sent me your column today. I'm a policy guy, so I don't follow current events (such as the ones you cited) all that closely. And as a Libertarian, I don't particularly care about the incessant political infighting of politicians and their partisan enablers, grasping for power, justifying lousy candidates like Trump and Clinton, and all that. But as a labor economist, I am quite interested in the terms/concepts related to discrimination.

To your credit, you provided a definition. But from there, it gets sticky-- at least applying the same standards outside of Trump. For example, by your definition, international trade restrictions and immigration restrictions would often be racist. Those are certainly prominent Trump policy positions and more evidence for your hypothesis. But the same standard, most Democrats would be racists too, given many of their preferred public policy positions-- e.g,. Affirmative Action, Social Security (given the lower rate of return for African-Americans), opposition to educational choice in K-12.

Racist is such a nasty term. We can go with a smell test, but that's messy. But it turns out that when we try to tighten up the argument, the net catches a surprising number of fish.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

C-J, FDR, and racial discrimination in housing and employment

FDR created the Fair Employment Practices Committee but “ensured the agency’s weakness” by naming Mark Etheridge, the publisher of the Courier-Journal as its chair. Etheridge compared federal non-discrimination efforts to “the Nazi dictator pattern”. Etheridge was the publisher of the C-J when the Wades were trying to live in their house and wrote an editorial blaming the Bradens. 

according to which book/author? Color of Law, Bernstein, K'Meyer? 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

fading anti-Trump fervor and why Oprah would be a good choice for the Dems

David Brooks' take sounds right to me. I would add the likelihood that the narrative will inevitably get old/tired at some point, esp. given its frequent hystericism and the success of the economy. (at least for now, but probably well into the future). The latter would, ironically, be quite reminiscent of the non-policy attacks on Bill Clinton.

In policy terms, Oprah certainly would be better than Hillary or Bernie. One might pick Hillary over her, if one subscribes to the notion that experience (even bad experience) is important.

Another benefit: it would help people quit pretending that national politics hasn't become entertainment, the lamer aspects of team sports, grasping for power, and the subject of various other idolatries.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Alinsky and rhetoric on Trump and the Dems

This piece is far too kind to the GOP but nails the powers-that-be in the Dem party and explains one aspect of Trump's fandom.

If you're skimming, get to the second half where the author's references to Trump's effective use of Alinsky's methods is provocative and ironic.

He also notes that Obama was “articulate and polished” but that doesn't mean he was "dignified, collegial, or proper". It's intriguing to me that Dems seem to value words and style so much. Think of them making fun of Bush, being so excited about Obama's elegance, and one aspect of their consternation with Trump.

In policy terms, this aligns nicely with their greater respect for good intentions (in policy sins of commission) and their tacit approval of their party's many sins of omission-- against African-Americans, the poor, the middle class, etc.-- as long as the rhetoric is there..

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

another cause of "identity politics"

Identity politics was bound to become more attractive with the fall of Communism and a diminished need for the unity provided by "American Civil Religion" against our "enemy"-- "the godless communists".

The rise of "identity politics" is also easy to imagine in light of the increasingly-evident limits of government activism. Consider how few discussions we have now on public policy-- evidence that govt has little to offer. As such, govt often reduces to the pursuit of power-- and identity politics and tribal politics are the increasingly favored approaches of the two major political parties.

Here,the speaker points to its rise through anti-colonialism and post-modernism.