Saturday, March 4, 2017


I know of no other country where love of money has such a grip on men's hearts or where stronger scorn is expressed for the theory of permanent equality of property.--deTocqueville

There has been a lot of talk about "righteousness" in the Democrat Party, the assumption that they always have the "moral high ground," an attitude that can alienate and may have been a factor in Clinton's loss to Trump. This story is being used as an example. Governor  Bob Casey of Pennsylvania in 1992 was one of the most progressive governors in the country and far more successful in getting his agenda enacted than either Cuomo of N.Y. or presidential nominee Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas. But Casey was a pro-life Catholic who had found legal ways to limit the sweep of Roe v. Wade that had made him anathema to Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other organizational pillars of the party's post-McGovern coalition of conscience. At the Democrat convention that year, the DNC not only refused to allow Casey to address the convention but sought to humiliate him by welcoming a pro-choice Republican opponent from Pennsylvania to the dais instead. Afterward, the DNC sent the woman across the floor to confront Casey (who had left the convention by then) and dispatched a party camera crew to film the expected clash.

This was in Salon, presumably a thoughtful publication: "If Gingrich, Ryan, et al succeed in destroying FDR’s legacy programs, not only will the bottom 90 percent of Americans suffer, but what little democracy we have left in this republic will evaporate, and history suggests it will probably be replaced by a violent, kleptocratic oligarchy." How? "Tragically, Republicans are today planning to destroy both our nation’s progressive taxation system and our social safety net, in obsequious service to their billionaire paymasters."
So, it seems, we are on the edge of obliteration. There is no possible explanation for the  Rube-publican policies other than they are slavishly trying to destroy the country for the benefit of a privileged few. Extremism. Shrillness. Anger. Confrontation.  These will make up our national political personality.

What is... The Holiday Placemat for Social Justice?

I wonder if economists in history ever considered a static or declining population in any model or assumption.

Will on civil-asset forfeiture:  "In civil forfeiture there usually is no proper “judicial process.” There is no way of knowing how many forfeitures involve criminals because the government takes property without even charging anyone with a crime. The government’s vast prosecutorial resources are one reason it properly bears the burden of proving criminal culpability “beyond a reasonable doubt.” A sued businessperson does not have assets taken until he or she has lost in a trial, whereas civil forfeiture takes property without a trial and the property owner must wage a protracted, complex and expensive fight to get it returned. The Senate Judiciary Committee might want to discuss all this when considering the nominee to be the next attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions." It is proper process that births civil aspiration. And it is the limits of that process that disrupts it.

The Pegasus World Cup is a horse race planned for Florida with an interesting concept. 12 horses with a $1 million  entrance fee, winner take all, with the entrants sharing in any residual profits.

Golden oldie:

”Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” — DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber analyzed what provisions of the health law boosted coverage. The lion's share of the newly covered are on Medicaid, and the rest gained coverage thanks to Obamacare subsidies. What about Obamacare's ban on insurers considering pre-existing conditions? His article didn't show it made any difference. In short, almost everyone with pre-existing conditions got covered before Obamacare.

Christopher  Guilluy is included in a recent article on what is called "French neo-illiberalism." Like ritual anti-capitalism, Guilluy contends, anti-fascism has become a “class weapon”. Politicians backed by the working class are routinely accused of being bigoted or racist. These slurs, he says, are intended to silence complaints from the periphery, but they will not wash. The appeal of far-right parties is not rooted in ideology. “Deserted by gentrified Socialists, small people are turning to the only truly anti-establishment parties on offer.” Moreover, Guilluy defends the politically incorrect theme of national identity. In multi-ethnic societies, where groups are thrown together, individuals naturally seek “cultural security” among those who share their values. This is as true for internally displaced natives as it is for uprooted migrants. The populist surge, Guilluy concludes, marks the emancipation of a downtrodden majority: “The slaves have fled the plantation and will not return”.
All these people are trying to explain what seems like a fairly obvious movement: The movement of people who feel, rightly or not, that they are being disenfranchised. "..not rooted in ideology..(!!)"

House of Representative Dr. Tom Price (an orthopedic surgeon) as head of HHS will enter the Trump administration with a detailed 242-page proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, much of it targeted at reducing costs for the young and healthy at the expense of programs intended for the sick and poor. Included in Price’s proposal: a full repeal of Medicaid expansion and less help for patients with pre-existing conditions. And, unlike the ACA, Price’s proposed plan doesn’t require employers to cover addiction treatment, birth control, maternity care or prescription drugs. As Hillary's original plan created under her husband in the 1990s, the point here is not health care, it is cost. This is not a health question, it is an accounting one.

One economic question that seems worth considering is, of the wealth to be shared in a culture, what is its origin? There seems to be an assumption that wealth is there to be shared, not that it has to be produced first. If it must be produced, who will do it? And why will those people want to bother to do it? One interesting--and common--response to free markets is that the growth of the last centuries is, somehow, a "Ponzi scheme." I'm not sure of the logic there but wealth in a culture can be created by innovation; certainly the notion that the West has been advancing because of unsustainable pre-payment would be impossible to defend--with the exception of recent entitlement promises. More, money itself does not always seem to be enough as the Spanish looting of the New World showed.

In 1960, in New York itself, Cuban leader Fidel Castro denounced the US in the longest speech ever timed at the General Assembly – 4 hours and 29 minutes. (Actually, I think it was "Doctor Castro" then.) Imagine the arrogance of spending that amount of time insulting and criticizing your host country. And from a guy where any criticism of him at home was a national crime.

  There are seven main taxonomic ranks. The full classification for a lion would be: Kingdom, Animalia (animals); Phylum, Chordata (vertebrate animals); Class, Mammalia (mammals); Order, Carnivora (meat eaters); Family, Felidae (all cats); Genus, Panthera (great cats); Species, leo (lions).

The percent of American retirees living abroad rose 17 percent between 2010 and 2015. All told, the Social Security Administration says there are just under 400,000 American retirees living elsewhere.
Countries they've chosen most often: Canada, Japan, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom. (Not Greece.)

Here's the summary of a new book by Australian author Ben Peek, Leviathan’s Blood, which has just been published. So many of these storylines start with an imaginative premise. It is part of a trilogy. It takes place in a world where the gods have died: their bodies have become the foundations of mountains. Among the corpses men and women live their lives but something is stirring in some of them. What made the gods divine is trickling in to the earth and infecting people. A curse or a gift, this has given them immense powers: some can see the dead, others are able to walk through fire. The earth itself can be shattered by their power. A new god arises and resolves to reclaim that which once belonged to her progenitors.
So many interesting ideas....but not always good resolutions.

This is a cruel--and probably true--if surprising analysis of bigotry in the workplace from North Carolina Law Review article titled “Minorities in the Market Place:”  "Equal pay for equal work, whether emanating directly from equal pay laws or from the special legal treatment accorded unions, prohibits non-preferred persons from compensating discriminating employers by offering wealth compensation.  Since no wage differential can be offered, since no cost can be imposed on employers who discriminate, fewer persons who are non-preferred will be hired for the jobs they seek."
His argument is that discrimination can be used to punish the discriminating employer economically and to benefit those discriminated against. This is the obverse of the original reasons these laws were passed: To exclude minorities from competition.

Just before winter break, a handful of Harvard administrators distributed placemats in a dining hall on campus, instructing students who were going away for the break on how to respond to family members who might challenge them on issues such as race, student activism, and the refugee crisis. These politically correct “talking points” raised immediate concerns about academic freedom, and eventually the university was forced to apologize. Yet the so-called Holiday Placemat for Social Justice typifies the way colleges and universities are aligning themselves with some of the worst aspects of American culture. Combining the proselytizing confidence of a fundamentalist religious tract with the marketing opportunism of McDonald’s, those placemats suggested that you could bear witness to the truth about everything from the Halloween costume controversy at Yale to the Syrian refugee crisis, all without missing a bite.

AAAAAnnnnndddddd......... a picture from New York:



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