Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Value of the Free Market


For John, BLUFIf you want to know what could go wrong without free markets, think of Venezuela.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



My Middle Brother, the Progressive, was conducting an EMail exchange with his younger and older Brothers and one of the points he made was that when he listened to the readings at Mass they didn't seem to talk about Capitalism.  I think the point he misses is that the freedom provided by Christianity, halting though it may have been in implementation, allowed for the growth of free markets.  And, the Protestant Reformation was a further impetus to economic growth.  While this article in Bloomberg View doesn't approach the question from a religious point of view, it does make the point that poverty is reduced through free markets.


The sub-headline is:

Few things in human history have done so much to reduce absolute poverty.

The author is Professor Noah Smith.

Here is the lede plus one:

Harvard economist Dani Rodrik has a long and thoughtful essay about the shortcomings of neoliberalism -- the economic program of free markets and free trade. He writes:
Economists’ contributions to public debate are often biased in one direction, in favor of more trade, more finance, and less government.  That is why economists have developed a reputation as cheerleaders for neoliberalism, even if mainstream economics is very far from a paean to laissez-faire.  The economists who let their enthusiasm for free markets run wild are in fact not being true to their own discipline.
As someone who has done decades of pioneering work in the field of trade and growth, and who has been intimately involved in practical policy-making, Rodrik is as much of an expert on this topic as anyone.  But although his criticisms are accurate, he overlooks much of the good that neoliberalism has done.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Implemented by men, all of whom have fallen short of the Glory of God.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Figuring the Future of Sen Franken.


For John, BLUFMaybe they will throw Bill Clinton to the wolves to spare Senator Al Franken.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Nate Silver, from the FiveThirtyEight Blog, 16 November 2017.

Here is the lede:

At about 11:15 this morning, an hour or so after Leeann Tweeden published an allegation that Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota had groped and kissed her without her consent in 2006, I assumed that Franken was headed toward resignation.  I didn’t necessarily expect Franken to resign immediately or without putting up a fight.  But barring some highly exculpatory evidence, I expected Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other prominent Democrats to be pushing Franken out the door.
I would go with Mr Silver here, for the reason stated below:
In other words, I thought the Democrats had an opportunity to maintain the moral high ground without having to pay a political price for it.  They could keep the pressure up on Moore, who has put Republicans in a no-win situation in Alabama.  And they could help to establish a precedent wherein severe instances of sexual harassment warrant resignation.  In the long run, that might create more of a problem for Republicans than for Democrats, because the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment is conducted by men, and there are 265 Republican men in Congress compared with 164 Democratic onEs.
Bou, the women in Mr Silver's office didn't see it that way.

Maybe they would rather have a reliable progressive voter, who they have to slap away from time to time, than some Republican, no matter how clean his record.  It is an "economic" choice, with some things prioritized higher than others.

Regards  —  Cliff

Getting Value


For John, BLUFWhen does impersonation increase the brand value of the person or product being impersonated?  Nothing to see here; just move along.




Is this snarky on the part of The Wash Post and Opinion Writer Erik Wemple, from 16 November 2017?

Here is the lede plus two:

Dress professionally.  Show up at a lofty-sounding panel discussion.  Stand up when the moderator opens the floor to questions.  Grab a microphone.  Ask a semi-decent, relevant question.  Identify yourself as being from the New York Times, even though your byline has never graced its pages.

Who’s going to call you out?

Well, the New York Times, eventually.  According to a suit filed by the newspaper last week, one Contessa Bourbon has diluted the company’s trademarks by impersonating a New York Times reporter at think-tanky events over the past four years or so.  The alleged misuse of the newspaper’s name, contends the civil action, is a ploy used by Bourbon to “gain admittance to news conferences and other events and to attract followers on social media, when she is not and has never been a reporter for The New York Times.”

I am wondering if the Contessa can sue The Old Gray Lady, claiming she has increased the value of the Brand by just showing up and should thus be compensated?

Hat tip to MASSterList.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Job Gains Among Startup Firms in 2017


For John, BLUFThis is good economic news.  Nothing to see here; just move along.




From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16 November 2017.

The number of startup firms—firms that are 1 year old or newer—rose to 415,226 in the year ended March 2017. The number of new firms has recovered from a low of 326,091 in 2010. For the last 2 years, the number of startups has been above the 1994–2017 average of about 400,000.

The data itself can be found at this link.

This upturn started under President Obama, but the important news is that it continues.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bike Lane Resistance


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I suggest we have to learn to share.

For John, BLUFSometimes the urge of Government to "nudge" us into doing what they see as the right thing comes up against the will of the People.  It shouldn't, but it does in the hands of those who "know what is right" for us.  Nothing to see here; just move along.




The article in Cambridge Day is by Reporter Marc Levy, Wednesday, 15 November 2017.

Here is the lede plus one:

Fired up by protected bike lanes they feel are hurting local retailers, a group of residents and business leaders are vowing to take over citywide transportation planning by forming a grassroots group.

“We’re trying to take it out of the political arena and really take it to the grassroots level, because from the top down it hasn’t worked.  It’s the top-down [approach] that put us in this position that we’re in right now,” said Denise Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, at a Monday “Safe Streets for All” meeting held at St. Anthony’s Parish Hall in East Cambridge.  “[We] can lay blame – and yes, I do say blame – on the City Council and on the city leadership that we’re in this conundrum, because certain things happened that were inappropriate.”

The meeting drew more than 60 people, seemingly split evenly between people angry over the bike lanes installed on Brattle Street in Harvard Square and on Cambridge Street, and bicyclists who expressed some bewilderment over what city streets should get instead to ensure the safety of people using all forms of transportation.  The meeting was moderated by Robert Skenderian, who runs an apothecary on Cambridge Street and has said he has firsthand experience with how bike lanes hurt business and a front-row view of reckless behavior by “bicycle bullies.”

Skenderian was evenhanded in his choice of speakers at the two-hour meeting, though, and Jillson said the event was convened after discussion with Mayor E. Denise Simmons and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale.  The grassroots group Jillson sees arising from the event would “work together hopefully under the leadership of the City of Cambridge,” with the city bringing back Toole Design Group – the company behind the Brattle bike lanes – under contract to reconfigure the street.  The lanes were presented to the HSBA as “preordained,” she said, with “no vetting from the business community … What we do want is to get it right.”

Couldn't happen to a nicer city.

Hat tip to MASSterList.

Regards  —  Cliff

Adding to a Long List


For John, BLUFDeval for President?  Nothing to see here; just move along.




That would be Boston Attorney Jeff Robbins, who is former US Delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.  An OpEd in The Boston Herald, 16 November 2017.

Here is the lede plus one:

With Democrats claiming victory in the 2017 elections and Donald Trump’s approval ratings mired in the mid-30s, political chatter has turned predictably to 2020 and who could, or should, be the Democrats’ presidential nominee.

The chatter has intensified with Joe Biden’s book tour; in Massachusetts, the buzz hovers over U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton.

But the Massachusetts resident who may have the clearest path to the nomination is one who has kept a low profile: former Gov. Deval Patrick.  If he wants the nomination — and so far he shows little lust for the limelight — Patrick would have certain distinct advantages over other potential candidates.

I am not seeing it, but considering other names that have been put forward, it is not totally unreasonable.  On the other hand, if folks think that President Trump won't run in 2020, or be a pushover in that race, they might be surprised, again.  Just saying….

Hat tip to MASSterList.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Misreading the Tea Leaves


For John, BLUFI don't think the "Liberal Media" wants to understand Trump voters.  Nothing to see here; just move along.




I am not sure about the provenance of this story.  I got it as a link from The New York Times, but it is actually from Politico and only mentioned in The New York Times in a column by Mr David Brooks.  The actual author is a Mr Michael Kruse and the dateline is 8 November 2017.

The sub headline is:

In a depressed former steel town, the president’s promises don’t matter as much as they once did.

Here is the lede plus one:

Pam Schilling is the reason Donald Trump is the president.

Schilling’s personal story is in poignant miniature the story of this area of western Pennsylvania as a whole—one of the long-forgotten, woebegone spots in the middle of the country that gave Trump his unexpected victory last fall.  She grew up in nearby Nanty Glo, the daughter and granddaughter of coal miners.  She once had a union job packing meat at a grocery store, and then had to settle for less money at Walmart.  Now she’s 60 and retired, and last year, in April, as Trump’s shocking political ascent became impossible to ignore, Schilling’s 32-year-old son died of a heroin overdose.  She found needles in the pockets of the clothes he wore to work in the mines before he got laid off.

Desperate for change, Schilling, like so many other once reliable Democrats in these parts, responded enthusiastically to what Trump was saying—building a wall on the Mexican border, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, bringing back jobs in steel and coal.  That’s what Trump told them.  At a raucous rally in late October, right downtown in their minor-league hockey arena, he vowed to restore the mines and the mills that had been the lifeblood of the region until they started closing some 40 years ago, triggering the “American carnage” Trump would talk about in his inaugural address: massive population loss, shrinking tax rolls, communal hopelessness and ultimately a raging opioid epidemic.  When Trump won, people here were ecstatic.  But they’d heard generations of politicians make big promises before, and they were also impatient for him to deliver.

So far he has the picture right, but he seems to be missing something.  What he is missing is that the voters he interviewed are with President Trump because they think he is with them and that he is fighting a monumental battle with the powers that be in DC, both Republican and Democrat.  They don't think he can work magic, but they do believe he is trying.  And, they believe the Swamp People are trying to tear down President Trump, so they (the Swamp People) can go back to business as usual.

It isn't that I didn't learn something new.  For example, I always thought the borough of Nancy Glow had a one word name.  Now I know that it is two words, or three if you go back to the Welsh.

But you learn as you go along.  I have always thought the line in Oh My Darling, Clementine was "wearing boxes without topses", but this morning I found out it goes "herring boxes without topses."  Over half a century overturned, thanks to the internet.  I blame my Fifth Grade Teacher.

Mr Kruse wrote this otherwise good piece through the lens of "these people are being betrayed by President Trump."

The other problem is Mr Kruse tries to make all those Trump Supporters in Johnstown out as racists.  He closes his story off with a comment by Mr Dave McCabe, a retired High School Basket Ball Coach.  Mr McCabe had come up with a clever turn of phrase for the meaning of NFL, and while he wouldn't share it with Writer Kruse, his wife did.  It is what we would call "racist".  So, Mr McCabe, and his wife, and all the Trump Supporters in Johnstown end up looking, in the article, like Les Deplorables.  Easily dismissed for their backward ideas, including being upset with football players who take a knee at the National Anthem.

Mr Kruse had a chance to present some good information, but in the end he whiffed.  We are left to view these Western Pennsylvania "bitter clingers" as ignorant racists, based on someone trying to be clever and ending up being awkward.  Mr Kruse doesn't ask if this kind of word play goes on in other communities in the Hillary Lilly Pads, nor does he ask if it goes on in Black communities.  No, it is just those retarded Trumpies.

And here is a Link to the original David Brooks article in The New York Times.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder if that is the high school my paternal grandfather was helping to build when he had a heart attack on the job site?