Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

XML This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
 
Carbon tax won't affect climate, will impact economic growth
Diana Furchtgott-Roth in Investor’s Business Daily: "Carbon Tax Won't Curb Climate Change, But It Will Clobber Growth." She questions whether recent advocates of a carbon tax/price/dividend (yes, dividend) can fulfill their vision to return carbon taxes to American taxpayers, especially the poor. There is always the promise of lower income taxes or, more recently, increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit. Furchtgott-Roth says:
Under our polarized system of government, any tax on carbon would be an additional tax, without the offsets that make it so attractive to academics. It would hurt the poor and raise domestic prices relative to prices of imports.
And every special interest will try to get its greedy hands on the carbon tax revenue.
It is an economic, budget, and political nightmare (benefiting blue states and harming red ones), and at the moment it does little for the environment: "America is responsible for 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and America's reductions in carbon usage will not help climate change unless other countries also limit their emissions." There are also serious questions that Furchtgott-Roth does not raise about the modest levels of carbon taxation and whether any politically feasible rate would do enough to discourage the use of fossil fuels.
The carbon tax is a solution to a problem, but it isn't environmental. The problem is that Washington needs wants more revenue.


 
The cultural roots of economic problems
Conservative MP and founder of the Centre for Social Justice Iain Duncan Smith at Conservative Home:
Figures show that family breakdown is a big driver of UK poverty as children in families that break apart are more than twice as likely to be living in long term poverty. When couples break up, children suffer and poverty in the family is often not far behind.
As a society, we should be much more concerned about this, especially when we consider that family stability is unequally shared. By the age of five, 48 per cent of children in low-income households are not living with both parents, compared to 16 per cent of children in middle to higher income households. Two out of three children growing up in poverty will experience family breakdown. Family stability is becoming a middle class preserve.
There are also ramifications for elder care:
Figures show that the offspring of difficult broken homes are less likely to care for their elderly or sick parents and grandparents. This in turn, places a strain on communities and services, a widely acknowledged problem issue at the moment.
And this has costs for taxpayers:
It is peculiar that with facts as shocking as these that we don’t talk about family breakdown more, especially when we look beyond the human cost and consider how much it costs us all as taxpayers. Every year the Relationships Alliance attempt to put a price tag on the cost of family breakdown, the amount our broken relationships costs the Government each year. This year it’s anticipated to exceed £48 billion. That’s an eye-watering amount to simply ignore. To put this into context, whilst I have nothing against helping support the Church repair the fabric of its buildings, the state spends more on this (some £20 million) than it does on supporting relationships and helping families stay together (£14 million). This is a serious problem because this relationship support has shown conclusively that when undertaken responsibly it can help repair family relationships and stabilise marriage.
As Mark Steyn has often said, it makes little sense to be fiscally conservative but socially liberal.


 
Returning to the Commonwealth
The Daily Telegraph reports that British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has announced that Gambia will return to the Commonwealth. Ahead of a trip to a pair of African countries, Johnson said:
"I am very pleased that Gambia wants to rejoin the Commonwealth and we will ensure this happens in the coming months."
"The strength of our partnerships show that Global Britain is growing in influence and activity around the world."
Former president Yahya Jammeh called the Commonwealth a neo-colonial organization and vowed his country would have nothing to do with it. Adama Barrow, who was recently elected president, vowed to bring the west African country back into the Commonwealth and is carrying through on his election promise. Gambia will become the fourth country to leave the Commonwealth and return. Johnson says the decision is proof of the United Kingdom's post-Brexit influence ("Global Britain"). This seems to have more to do with Gambian politics than it does British leadership.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017
 
Did Trudeau 'cower' before Trump
Andrew Stiles at Heat Street:
Trump intimidated Trudeau by assuming a wide stance during a photo op in the Oval Office. This is sometimes referred to as “manspreading,” and is a common tactic used by alpha males, including former President Bill Clinton.
Trudeau, meanwhile, signaled weakness during the photo session by keeping his legs in close proximity to another, a behavior sometimes referred to as “cowering before greatness.”
Or sometimes a wide stance is just a wide stance -- and not anything else.


 
I don't get this logic
The Toronto Star reported on the anti-John Tory, anti-tax, pro-Doug Ford event held in Toronto. I found this confusing:
Toni Raimondo, an event planner, said in an interview she attended because taxes and fees keep going up under Tory.
“I have a very sick child, with cancer, and all my money goes to medicine — the increases are more than inflation, it adds up,” she said.
Asked what she would cut in the budget, Raimondo said people need to pay for the services they use.
“If you go to a community centre you should pay and if you can’t afford it, you don’t go.”
I don't understand how the answer to rising fees is ... user fees.


Monday, February 13, 2017
 
Ethics commissioner to investigate Prime Minister
The CBC headline -- "Ethics watchdog opens second investigation into PM's trip to spiritual leader's private island" -- on a Canadian Press story is incorrect. Technically it is the first investigation by Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, and it is the result of the review of a complaint about Justin Trudeau using the Aga Khan's personal helicopter to travel to his personal island for a winter vacation. The timing of the mildly embarrassing announcement to the Prime Minister is questionable, coming the same day he traveled to Washington to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, pretty well guaranteeing the story gets buried.


 
Bureaucrats
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey looks at two stories on the weekend (one from the New York Times, another from Politico) on how bureaucrats are not happy that Republicans in the White House and Congress want to roll back regulations. Morrissey observes:
Democrats and the media may be cheering the so-called “resistance” movement within the federal bureaucracy, but this proves what conservatives and Republicans have long argued. The bureaucracy has become its own special-interest group, and amounts to an unaccountable shadow government that strips Americans of their right to select the policies they want for their own self-governance. Rather than serve the elected government of the United States, these bureaucrats want to force elected officials to serve them. Regardless of whether or not the policies of those elected officials are entirely wise, those officials serve the voters, and the federal bureaucracy is supposed to implement their policies ...
Since Trump’s election, we’ve seen a plethora of warnings about the coming authoritarianism. Stories like those at the New York Times and Politico should prompt questions as to whether it had been here all along, and whether these hysterical outbreaks are a sign that it might be coming to an end.
Also, bureaucrats invoking the "will of the people" in a battle with elected officials (the president and his administration, and Congress) is a little rich.


 
PMJT: wrong even when he's right
The Guardian: "Justin Trudeau says it's not Canada's duty to 'lecture' Trump on immigration." Canada's Prime Minister engaged in some virtue signalling on refugees on Twitter recently but did not raise the issues of immigration or refugees with the new American President, and correctly so. Trudeau apparently was criticized for his silence during his visit to Washington. The PM answered his critics: "The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose they govern themselves. My role, my responsibility is to continue to govern in such a way that reflects Canadians’ approach and be a positive example in the world." It would have been irresponsible and imperious for the mouse to tell the elephant how to conduct its internal affairs, and one could imagine the Canadian outrage if Trump encouraged Trudeau to take a similar tact as Washington has to (supposedly) prioritize national security. And yet, Trudeau's comments were still intended to insult to Trump and his policies. Trudeau's comment that the Canadian "approach" is to be a "positive example in the world" is an implicit criticism of American policy. This is the foreign policy equivalent of the campaign tactic to publicly eschew attack ads against opponents with its implicit criticism that others are going negative. It should be obvious that there is criticism intended in Trudeau's comments, even if they do not come in the form of a traditional lecture.


 
Secret Labour search for Corbyn replacement
The Sunday Times reports that Labour is conducting focus groups and polls in north England to test the appeal of possible Corbyn successors shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner:
Labour is conducting secret "succession planning" for Jeremy Corbyn’s departure, according to leaked documents that warn the party is facing meltdown under his leadership. The public appeal of two rising stars, Angela Rayner and Rebecca Long-Bailey, has been tested by a focus group as the hard left looks for potential successors to Corbyn. The group, organised by Labour’s pollster BMG Research, delivered a damning verdict on Corbyn himself with participants saying he was "boring," appeared "fed up" and "looks like a scruffy school kid."
Regarded as rising stars within the party, their focus groups have found the response to Rayner was "overwhelmingly negative" with responses ranging from "not likeable" and "weird." The feeling was that voters would not take her seriously. The responses to Long-Bailey were more positive: passionate, genuine, sincere, and smart. The Times reports that polling would be conducted in other parts of the country.
Corbyn won a second mandate from Labour last year but polls have found Labour support tanking.
The Guardian's Matthew D'Ancona puts the Labour exercise in perspective:
Let us not get carried away. One qualitative testing session in Manchester is not going to make or destroy a political career. Much more interesting was the apparent purpose of the exercise: to identify a potential successor to Corbyn who would appeal to the public but keep the party on the same ideological trajectory. Replace the captain, in other words, but maintain course towards the iceberg.
D'Ancona says the Corbynistas usually blame the Blairite wing for the leader's troubles, but it is the left-wing of the party that is organizing against Jeremy Corbyn, undermining his leadership, and questioning his viability going into the next election. D'Ancona says that there are capable centrist Labour politicians, but the left-wing is better at organizing within the party. They just aren't very good at winning elections.


Sunday, February 12, 2017
 
Political tumult in Europe
Three noteworthy stories this weekend from Europe.
In The Guardian, Jan Kubik, director of the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, is worried about the direction of eastern European countries (Poland, Romania, Hungary), "where three forces vie for dominance: disconnected and sometimes corrupt 'traditional' politicians, increasingly impatient and angry publics and assertive demagogues." There are economic and cultural forces at work (as there is wherever there are strong populist movements). Kubik is more concerned about fear-mongering about the ingratitude of populist movements than understanding them. There are several reasons for the rise of populism in the east: post-communist economic liberalism has improved overall well-being but those gains have been uneven and have yet to deliver Western European standards of living. But more importantly, as Ryszard Legutko, a Polish intellectual and representative in the European Parliament, writes in The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, the progressive project of the European Union is too similar to the communist regimes half the continent shed two decades ago. They both require religious-like adherence and were gestated in the same Englightenment and French Revolution ethos, that they are practically sisters. In the name of equality (communism) and diversity (liberalism), intolerance of different worldviews because suffocating. Just as communism failed to deliver equality and dignity for all, liberalism has become bastardized to create second- and third-class citizens who dissent from official orthodoxy. Perhaps economic liberalism and traditional religion cannot cohabitate, but the sort of cultural liberalism foisted upon EU members ensures that there is little room for the latter.
The Express reports, "France and Dutch EU votes expected even if Wilders and Le Pen lose." The British paper reports that in both the Netherlands and France, "far-right candidates propelling their parties high up in the opinion polls," but even if they lose, their popularity is pushing so-called mainstream parties to consider referenda on the future of the EU -- I would argue as a democratic safety valve. Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, told The Express, "The public are calling for a referendum in the major EU countries. It is going to be harder and harder for governments to resist." Indeed. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it will be almost universally painted as such.
The New York Times reports that it is far from a sure thing that Christian Democrat Angela Merkel will be re-elected as chancellor. Of course, seven months out from an election, nothing is a sure thing. But after being squeezed on the right by the rise of German populist parties, the left-wing Social Democrats are gaining in the polls. Being the Times -- or just 2017 -- there are the Donald Trump inferences: German political reaction to the new U.S. president and finding his German equivalents. It is unclear, however, whether the embrace of the Social Democrats is a result of Merkel's own move to the right on migration and deportations. It would be contradictory for Germans to be tired of massive numbers of refugees flooding the country to turn their back on Merkel in favour of a party who favours her former, more liberal migration policies. It is entirely possible, as the Times suggests, that Merkel made political missteps that led the Social Democrats to be taken more seriously. She let her foreign minister, Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Merkel leads a coalition government), to stand as president, which he won handily (931 votes in the 1260-member assembly). The paper reports, "Despite being a largely ceremonial position, the presidency provides stature and an important platform for Mr. Steinmeier, a popular and charismatic politician. In his brief acceptance speech, he encouraged Germans to be bold in difficult times." He is given to Barack Obama/Justin Trudeau-like rhetoric, which might stir the German soul. Or it might not. What is clear -- as it always should have been -- is that Merkel, one of the supposed last, great hopes for the European project, no longer looks like a shoe-in for re-election. And after 11 years in power, the fatigue with the government in power just sets in. Whether she is weakened by the anti-EU, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany or she loses to the Social Democrats, Germany, and Europe, won't be the same. And that's not necessarily a bad development.
The rise of populist parties has been a staple of political reporting from Europe since I was in high school in the 1980s. This time, however, even if they can't win, their message can no longer be ignored.


 
Wall Street Journal eliminating the Google loophole
Digiday reports:
Starting Monday, it’s turning off Google’s first-click free feature that let people skirt the Journal’s paywall by cutting and pasting the headline of a story into Google. The Journal tested turning off the feature with 40 percent of its audience last year. But the eye-popping moment was when the Journal turned it off four sections for two weeks, resulting in a dramatic 86 percent jump in subscriptions. The Journal said the full turnoff is a test, but didn’t say how long it would last ...
The Journal is a rarity in publishing in that it gets more money from readers than advertising, so it’s protective of its paywall, which includes being discriminating when it comes to distributing its articles outside its own platforms. But with print advertising waning, the Journal is looking for ways to lean more on readers for revenue. According to a reader survey it’s fielding, it’s exploring an ad-free version of the Journal, charging for individual articles and even charging extra for home delivery.
Video is still in front of the paywall — video commands high ad rates so the Journal wants to maximize its audience, and it’s also a way to draw in would-be subscribers — but it’s the exception. Starting last summer, previously free sections including arts and lifestyle have joined the rest of the sections that are locked down.
The Journal, unlike a lot of other papers, is worth paying for.
There are still loopholes:
Meanwhile, a new team has been tweaking the subscription messaging to get people to convert, learning that telling people they can cancel any time and putting price information front and center had positive results driving subs. Since tightening the paywall, the Journal said, the average number of stories leading people to subscribe is up 66 percent, which the pub says is testament to the strength of its long-tail.
While it’s ending Google first click free for now, which lets subscription publications be indexed by Google search, the Journal is increasing its exposure to new audiences by letting people read for free links that are shared on social media by subscribers and staffers. Since making that change, the Journal has seen a 30 percent boost in traffic from social media, primarily from Facebook. The Journal is treating the social sharing ability like a perk for subscribers.
Follow the writers and sections you like on social media.


Saturday, February 11, 2017
 
Ambassador Palin?
At NRO Michael Taube writes about reports of Sarah Palin being named ambassador to Canada and he lists numerous reasons why she is unfit for the job. I have two complaints about the column, including Taube's list of potential other ambassadors:
Fortunately, there are more acceptable options. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton have both infrequently travelled to Canada. Texas senator Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta. Former Massachusetts governor Scott Brown, who was briefly considered for secretary of Veterans Affairs, is certainly a possibility. Plus, there are Republican advisers and strategists who either supported or worked on various projects with Canada, including the Keystone XL pipeline.
Becoming ambassador to Canada after being posted at Turtle Bay is a step down. Ditto for Cruz, and ambassador is not a great job from which to launch a future presidential bid. (I also doubt whether in the view of the Trump administration that being born in Canada is a credential to be ambassador to the country.) I'm not sure Gingrich is much better than Palin or whether he would consider Ottawa a large enough stage for whatever Newt would want to do as ambassador. Brown seems like the sort of non-entity who gets these types of appointments.
My larger problem with the column is an analytical point that many pundits are missing. If the rumour is true, why is the administration considering the former Alaska governor for the job of ambassador. No one is asking what would qualify Palin for the job. I think there are two possible explanations. The first is that the appointment of Palin to Ottawa would signal how seriously the Trump administration takes Canada or the Trudeau government. (Answer: not very.) Another is that he wants a fighter to combat the virtue signalling of the Prime Minister and his office with their not terribly subtle oppositional tweets against the Trump White House. Palin could answer back and Trump could, as needed, say its just how she is.
The most likely scenario is that Palin's name gets mentioned and leaked to flatter her even though there is no intention to give her a job of any sort. The body language of Trump at the Palin endorsement (of him) spoke volumes.


 
Eliminating urban blight
The Washington Post reports on efforts to clean up parts of Baltimore:
Mable Olds, 69, the last resident of 936 N. Bradford, was on hand to see the government-paid excavator roll up to the house where she — and many mothers before her — had raised her family ...
She was not the only one uncertain about the intentional destruction she was about to witness. Baltimore, like Detroit and other aging American cities plagued by abandoned housing, is spending millions of dollars tearing out blighted pieces of itself in the hope that, like a pruned tree, the rest of the city will bloom.
As Maryland’s largest city has dwindled from a peak population of 950,000 in 1950 to about 620,000 today, the receding tide has left behind 17,000 boarded-up houses and buildings, unoccupied, unwanted and unstable. They are scattered throughout the city, with major concentrations on the east side, as well as in battered West Baltimore, where 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death from an injury suffered in police custody triggered riots in 2015.
Some of the vacant houses are brick hulks, roofless and irreparable, in such danger of collapse that the city keeps a demolition crew on standby 24 hours a day. But many are structurally sound, artifacts of Baltimore’s rich history and the craftsmanship of its earlier days ...
“When I was a kid, they used to have a model of the whole neighborhood at [Johns] Hopkins, how they wanted it to look,” he said. “This is the fruition of that plan.”
It's not only Baltimore:
The country’s inventory of abandoned homes grew by more than 4.5 million between 2000 and 2010, fueled by the foreclosure crisis. Rust Belt mayors, confronted with neighborhoods that looked like deserted movie sets, started talking less about growth and more about “right-sizing.”
Toledo and Akron, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; Buffalo and other cities began demolishing vacant structures as an alternative to managing them. Detroit has torn down almost 11,000 using more than $580 million from the federal government’s Hardest Hit Fund, a program targeting the states most stricken by foreclosures.
The promise of demolition is twofold. It eliminates the hazards associated with abandoned buildings and boosts the values of the houses that are left. It also creates green space — sometimes urban gardens, sometimes weedy lots.
Cleaning up isn't cheap:
Baltimore, still struggling to recover from the chaos and soaring crime that followed Gray’s death, has spent about $40 million laying siege to blighted neighborhoods since 2012. Approximately 500 rowhouses were knocked down in 2016, about the same pace as the previous year. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has pledged $74 million in state money. It would take about $500 million to clear away all of the boarded-up properties.


Friday, February 10, 2017
 
More on Rosling, another rational optimist
Rob Lyons, columnist for Spiked, writes about the late Hans Rosling:
Essentially, Rosling told a story of a world in which things have been getting better for almost everyone. In making this point, Rosling wasn’t alone. Others, like Indur Goklany, Matt Ridley and Steven Pinker (and, of course, spiked), have, in various ways, pointed out the benefits of a richer, better educated and more peaceful world. Nonetheless, Rosling was certainly rowing against the stream in an age where many of the elite and influential commentators were obsessed with climate change and overpopulation. Human beings were screwing up the planet on the one hand while, on the other, billions of people were doomed to lives that would be nasty, brutish and short ...
The most pressing question we face, therefore, is how everyone on the planet can enjoy the freedom that comes from washing machines and other labour-saving devices.
This human-centred outlook was what made Rosling’s statistics and presentational skills matter. There are plenty of ways of making data look entertaining. Rosling’s contribution was to put that gift to the service of making the case for more development. The world’s most high-profile neo-Malthusians, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, did Rosling the greatest compliment by rubbishing his ideas, calling him ‘a confused statistician’ and claiming – as they have done for decades – that extreme poverty would be the lot of the great majority of humanity when the inevitable civilisational collapse occurs. Rosling showed that industrial and technological progress could solve the big problems facing humanity, if we didn’t do anything so stupid as to turn away from these powerful, welfare-enhancing tools.
Capitalism is not a panacea, but it delivers more improvements to human well-being than anything else. It is troubling that the nattering nabobs of negativism are anti-capitalism; it is sad that they attack the very system that could improve the lot of those for whom they express concern. Rosling was an evangelist for the fact that the state of the world was getting better and that industrial and technological progress (usually brought to the masses through free markets) was responsible for these improvements. Rosling did not deny that too many people were still wanting -- wanting for better health and longer lives, for better living conditions, for the chance to flourish. But the fact that some were falling outside the circle of productivity (to use Pope John Paul II's term) does not diminish the fruits of expanding that circle to those who did benefit.


 
The snowflake generation -- do they even read books?
NRO's Katherine Timpf: "Authors Are Employing ‘Sensitivity Readers’ To Problematic-Proof Their Novels." Timpf reports:
According to a piece in Slate, novelists are now employing “sensitivity readers“ in an attempt to avoid representing characters from other communities in an inaccurate or offensive way ...
Slate’s piece begins with the story of an author and clinical psychologist named Becky Albertalli, who wrote a book in which her protagonist “muses that girls have an easier time coming out than boys, because their lesbianism strikes others as alluring” — which led to Albertalli’s being slammed for playing “too readily into a narrative” that they found “offensive,” the “fetishization of queer girls.”
Albertalli felt terrible about it, and made sure to employ “sensitivity readers” to review her next book before publishing it in order to avoid making a mistake like that again — but she should have responded by saying: “Give me a f****** break.”
Is this view that Albertalli’s character expressed “problematic”? Sure, but why the hell is anyone getting mad at Albertalli about it? It’s not like she was saying it was her view, it was simply the view of a fictional protagonist. But apparently, it’s not even enough to be perfectly politically correct in your own life to avoid angering people, you also can’t write a fictional book where a fictional character has a single “problematic” thought.
And if exquisite sensitivity is the order of the day, wait until triggering events are expunged from books. Conflict and adversity are bad and have no place in the fake world of fiction. Not only will there be no (genuine) diversity, there can be no drama. It is easy to exaggerate an incident reported in Slate to make it a phenomenon in the whole publishing world, but what is today's weird eccentricity among a handful of writers could just as easily become a trend in the industry.


 
Trade is cooperation by another name
Donald Boudreaux:
Those who wish to restrict trade wish to artificially shrink the opportunities for people to help others and to be helped by others. And what makes protectionists – right, left, and center – all so galling is that they proclaim that their goal is to help humanity.


Thursday, February 09, 2017
 
Europe to Muslims: not welcome
This explains European populism: according to a Chatham House survey in ten European countries, a plurality in Spain and United Kingdom and majority in all others agree with the statement "all further migrations from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped." In all but Spain, "neither" beats "disagrees." In no country but Spain did even a quarter of respondents "disagree" with stopping Muslim migration. The political and business elite are out of touch with the general population on Muslim immigration and Muslim refugees.


 
New MRI scans could revive abortion debate in United Kingdom
The Daily Mail reports on a "revolutionary new MRI scan" developed by London's iFIND. A new video of the scan of a preborn child at 20 weeks:
The ensuing footage is so detailed that you can clearly see the tot fiddling with the umbilical cord, turning its neck and stretching out in the womb.
The Daily Mail says:
The incredible detail reveals just how fully formed a foetus is at 20 weeks and reignites the debate on lowering the current 24 week legal abortion limit in the UK.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously supported slashing the limit to 12 weeks and there have also been calls to reduce it to 20 weeks.
The 20-second video is pretty amazing.


 
Trump's 'conservative' cabinet
The Washington Examiner reports:
President Trump has succeeded in picking the most conservative Cabinet of the modern era, and possibly ever, even besting the team put together by former President Reagan, according to a scorecard from the American Conservative Union, host of the annual CPAC convention.
ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp told Secrets that Trump's team, made up in part with House and Senate lawmakers graded by the group over the years, has a 91.52 percent conservative rating, significantly surpassing Reagan's by 28 points.
Only the Cabinet of former President George H.W. Bush, who was Reagan's vice president and followed the Gipper into the Oval Office, came close with a 78.15 conservative rating.
"By our ranking of the members of Congress in the Cabinet, this is the most conservative Cabinet of any Republican including Reagan," Schlapp said.
I have several thoughts and reactions.
1. Who cares? Well, Republicans do, frankly. Many were worried that Donald Trump wasn't a conservative. It is reassuring to them that Trump has picked conservatives for his cabinet. But we should care less about an ideological purity test than competence. There are no scorecards for that.
2. The title of most conservative cabinet is based on five of 21 picks because Trump only picked that many from Congress. The ACU doesn't score business leaders, philanthropists, and generals. With more than three-quarters of the cabinet unrated, labeling a cabinet more or less conservative seems meaninglessly incomplete. Of Reagan's 46 cabinet secretaries, only seven came from the legislative branch.
3. Looking back at some key cabinet posts in the Reagan administration: Secretary of State Alexander Haig is more conservative than Rex Tillerson. I'm not sure whether Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan or James Baker was more conservative than Steven Mnuchin is today (they are fairly non-ideological). Trump's Secretary of Defense James Mattis is probably more conservative than Cap Weinberger. But Reagan's most conservative cabinet secretary was his first Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, who wouldn't have been rated by the ACU because he was a former member of the Federal Power Commission and the head of conservative legal outfit. Ed Meese and Bill Bennett, two of the more conservative members of the Reagan administration (Attorney General and Secretary of Education), likewise had no legislative career to rate.
4. Even more conservative than Reagan seems to be an odd description of the Trump cabinet considering that the administrations of both Bushes and Gerald Ford leaned more conservative according to the American Conservative Union.


 
Trade limits on non-Americans are no different than limiting exchange with people whose names start with the letter ...
Donald Boudreaux responds to his correspondent, William:
Do you think me to be “unobjective (dogmatic)” because I support a policy of complete free trade with people whose first names start with “W”? Do you truly believe that a policy that allows those of us with first names that start with a letter other than “W” to trade without obstruction with you and other W-folk is so likely to inflict harm on us non-Ws that it is “unobjective (dogmatic)” for me to oppose any and all restraints on trade between us non-Ws with you Ws?
Until and unless you convince me that my support for unconditional free trade between Ws and non-Ws is “unobjective (dogmatic)”, you will not convince me that my support for unconditional free trade between Americans and non-Americans is “unobjective (dogmatic)”.