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).
Sunday, September 24, 2017
On the German election
Henry Olsen's twitter feed is the source for quality analysis of the election results (looking at specific regions). Key point: the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) won three seats outright (that is, not through proportional representation). Greens have only once won a seat outright.
At Unherd, Olsen writes:
The polls have been showing a trend away from Merkel’s CDU/CSU and toward the AfD all month. I said yesterday that AfD could hit 14% and up to 20% in one or two East German states ... It’s not hard to figure out why this happened. As I wrote recently, world politics is increasingly less about Left v Right and more about Ins v Outs. If you benefit from modern cultural norms and the globalised economy, you’re an In. If not, you’re an Out. Since those with fewer skills and lower formal education tend to be more culturally traditional and economically stressed, they are the prime voter moving toward so-called populist parties.
AfD won 14% nationally and 22% in eastern Germany. Both mainstream parties saw their support drop. Merkel's Christian Democrats were down nearly nine percentage points. The Social Democrats are down five percentage points. Politico EU reports that AfD took a million votes from Merkel's alliance and a half-million votes from the Social Democrats. SDU said it won't join Merkel in a grand coalition again. The Guardian looks at the few coalition options Merkel has left.
Unherd's Peter Franklin:
Now we know the biggest difference between Angela Merkel and Theresa May – about 10% of the electorate. If a vote share in the low forties was a humiliation for the British PM then what would you call a share in the low thirties for the German Chancellor?Exactly what she deserves, might be one answer. Last week I challenged the idea that Germany is the ‘responsible adult’ of European politics. In fact, Mrs Merkel has presided over a series of disastrous policies that have destabilised Germany’s neighbours – and are now destabilising German politics.
That's right -- Merkely has one-third less support than May did a few months ago.
May's cabinet fracturing over Brexit?
The Sunday Telegraph reports:
Boris Johnson has demanded a series of Brexit assurances as the fragile Cabinet truce over Theresa May’s transition plan begins to fracture. The Foreign Secretary wants Britain not to adopt any new EU rules and regulations after it formally leaves in March 2019, the Telegraph has learnt. He believes it is wrong for rulings from Brussels to apply in the UK during the two-year transition because Britain will no longer be involved in the decision-making process. The stance goes further than the Prime Minister – who declined to make the promise on Friday – and puts him on a collision course with the Treasury, which wants a “status quo” transition.
The Guardian reports that supporters of Boris Johnson are claiming victory in having the Foreign Minister successfully persuade Prime Minister Theresa May to alter her Florence speech on Brexit. They say he convinced May from backing the Norway option (access to the single market in exchange for payments and adherence to EU rules) and to dismiss the Chancellor of the Exchequer's desire for a long (four- or five-year) transition. The Sunday Mail reports that there is "all-out war" between BoJo and Hammond. For what it's worth, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage doesn't think May will stick to the two-year transition timetable. National Review's John O'Sullivan says that foremost, May's speech "was bent on removing any doubt that Britain would be leaving the EU — a doubt that apparently still shapes some thinking in Brussels and the British media." This is important to signal to the wishful thinkers abroad, but also the increasingly frustrated pro-Brexit segment of the UK Conservative Party and the majority who voted for Brexit.
We must remember that all this is a negotiation and on Friday May put forward a position that is a starting point. It is unlikely the UK government will get everything it wants. One doesn't start off with the compromise one is willing to accept. May's tough line ensures London will get more of what they are asking for than they would otherwise. Of course, May must negotiate the treacherous waters of domestic politics at the same time, which complicates matters.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Against outrage over selective outrage
At Quillette, Spencer Case argues that there are in fact very few cases of selective outrage being hypocritical once one takes into account the reasonableness of differences in opinion or priors. (I'm disgusted I just wrote that sentence, but it's true.) And being justifiably and proportionately outraged at all true injustices is not even possible:
The world’s capacity to produce outrages far outstrips the human capacity to respond emotionally to them. If you are psychologically normal and a loved one is wrongly convicted and executed for an atrocity he clearly did not commit, you will be about as outraged as it is possible for you to be. It would be an unreasonable – indeed, incomprehensible – to demand that you be twenty-two times more outraged at the Manchester bombing, 15,000 times more outraged at the number of children who died of preventable diseases and malnutrition that day, 30 million times more outraged at Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and so forth.I can imagine God expressing outrage at all of the sins of the world in a way that is completely general and proportionate. I can’t imagine a moral human being doing this, certainly not a psychologically normal human being, in a world so full of outrages. And these psychological and emotional limitations are probably a blessing. It would be unpleasant, even debilitating, to have a constant awareness of all of the evil in the world. Thus, the goal of evenly distributing and proportioning our outrage is neither achievable nor desirable.
Case is not talking about faux outrage. I would add that there is also too much genuinely felt outrage over things that not genuine outrages. But this is not an issue of selective outrage, as Case points out, but a disagreement over the reasonable of the opinion itself. The world would be a better place if we were outraged less often.
Walmart is working on a service that will send groceries directly to a customer's fridge with a delivery person having access to a one-time pass code on your home alarm when you're not home. Waiting for deliveries is a waste of time. Technology -- smart locks, online shopping -- should save time. It would be even better if Walmart knew when my refrigerator needed milk, eggs, juice, and yogurt and delivered them without me asking it to.
Friday, September 22, 2017
Why the UN sucks
Douglas Murray has a good essay at Unherd on why the United Nations sucks: democracies have the same legitimacy as the faux-democracies and dictatorships, and everyone pretends its okay. President Donald Trump challenged that polite fiction this week and was criticized for doing so. Murray says the UN is nice in theory, the "physical embodiment of the concept of the 'community of nations'," but there is no community of nations. There are only aligned interests or competing interests featuring some set of countries. What are democratic leaders and dictators -- or their representatives -- supposed to do when they meet? Murray writes:
If the delegates of the world’s democracies at the United Nations were to regularly turn to the world’s despots and remind them of their true moral and representative standing then the business of the UN would break down daily. Instead a form of diplomatic politesse exists, where people listen thoughtfully to the latest eruption from the noble representative of some satrapy or other and grants its emissions a similar weight and judgement as it would accord to representatives who are elected by and accountable to their people.
Some people like the idea of a League of Democracies so that legitimately elected and like-minded countries can work together, but this makes no sense. There is no need for an international body to get Germany and the United States to cooperate because their like-mindedness means they already do.
There is no serious debate about whether or not we need the United Nations. We don't. But no one wants to admit it. The bad ruins whatever limited good it does, but for the most part it does nothing meaningful so everyone can live with it. Some countries (the U.S. and the U.K.) will threaten to audit Turtle Bay's books and maybe even occasionally withhold some funds, but they will never threaten to take their ball and leave the Turtle Bay schoolyard. It's safe to stay as long as no one cares about the UN.
'End-of-life chatbot can help you with difficult final decisions'
New Scientist reports:
Could chatbots lend a non-judgemental ear to people making decisions about the end of their life? A virtual agent that helps people have conversations about their funeral plans, wills and spiritual matters is set to be trialled in Boston over the next two years with people who are terminally ill.People near the end of their lives sometimes don’t get the chance to have these important conversations before it’s too late, says Timothy Bickmore at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. So Bickmore and his team – which included doctors and hospital chaplains – built a tablet-based chatbot to offer spiritual and emotional guidance to people that need it ...And it has already seen some success. Bickmore’s team initially tested the chatbot with 44 people aged 55 and over in Boston. Just under half those adults had some kind of chronic illness, and nearly all had spent time with someone who was dying. After spending time talking to the chatbot, most of the participants reported that they felt less anxious about death and were more ready to complete their last will and testament.For the next stage of the trial, Bickmore plans to give tablets loaded with the chatbot to 364 people who have been told they have less than a year to live. The slightly more souped-up version can also take users through guided meditation sessions and talk to them about their health and medication, as well as conversing on a wide range of religious topics.The earlier people start considering how they want to die and what they want to happen afterwards, the easier it is for those around them to act on those decisions – for example, ensuring they don’t die in hospice if they would prefer to be at home.
New Scientist does not report whether the chatbot will discuss euthanasia or assisted-suicide options with patients, but it doesn't take much reading between the lines to think that might be the case. Indeed, pro-euthanasia documentarian Avril Furness suggests the chatbot would be a good way to start having what the magazine calls "difficult conversations about death" with Furness saying, "This chatbot isn’t going to judge you."
Business Insider has the list of the best-selling music acts of all-time (defined as "total certified album units sold in the U.S. (including streaming figures)"). Being around in the '70s and '80s helped. YouTube depresses sales. A few surprises (Kenny G, Foreigner, Tupac). Bob Dylan has a lot of albums that did not sell well. Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys count as modern. Lots of country. Rolling Stones are near top of the list but sold a lot fewer than that other band.
Sports on Earth's Matt Brown ranks the top 50 college stadia. Big, loud, history, unique traditions, and nearby landscape count for a lot. Big 10 is well-represented. Love Iowa's new tradition of waving to the children's hospital. Worth clicking on the video links. Would have appreciated more pictures. Not sure how Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama) is only 16th.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
What I'm reading
1. Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough by Doug Saunders. Weird that a person who attends Planned Parenthood Ottawa fundraisers frets about under-population in Canada. Wants massive immigration increases, silent on abortion and contraception.
2. Could It Happen Here?: Canada in the Age of Trump and Brexit by Michael Adams. His short answer: probably not be we need to be careful. Adams focuses on Canada and US values surveys but doesn't prove that certain views are correlated to populism, which he fails to properly define. So far the book is disappointingly exactly what I thought it would be.
3. Why The Dutch Are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands by Ben Coates. Explores Dutch culture and what makes the country punch above its weight.
Theresa May reads 'riot act' to UN
The Sun reports on Prime Minister Theresa May's speech at the UN this week:
Reading the riot act to the world organisation during her podium speech to its General Assembly, the PM called on it to first win back the UK’s trust before she agrees to release the final 30% of the government’s £2bn in annual contributions.In her podium set piece, Mrs May warned of a global “crisis of faith” that could be disastrous for everyone.The PM told world leaders at the UN’s annual meeting major global challenges such as mass migration and globalisation are putting serious strain on the old world order.But Mrs May also demanded major reforms to the UN to ensure its shortcomings don’t undermine crumbling faith in it any further.She argued: “We should also acknowledge that throughout its history the UN has suffered from a seemingly unbridgeable gap between the nobility of its purposes and the effectiveness of its delivery”.Wasteful aid spending and needless bureaucracy must be stopped, the PM demanded.
The United Nations is the foremost example of people judging an organization by its objectives rather than its outcomes. Theresa May called out the international organization for failing to live up to its lofty ideals. Unfortunately, it will not matter as the bureaucrats and NGOs that populate Turtle Bay would rather talk about what are rightly domestic issues -- some of which were endorsed by May -- than solve actual conflicts. But it was nice to see a British prime minister draw attention to this fact and back up the criticism with consequences.
Hard to believe the French elected a snotty elitist as president
Politico EU reports that French President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism after calling opponents of his mild but necessary proposed labour reforms and social spending cuts "slackers" and "people who are nothing." I think people who are nothing is French for deplorable. Macron has accurately described France as a country where it is difficult to enact change because of entrenched interests and an abiding belief among the citizens that their work week should be significantly shorter than other Europeans or that they are entitled to their government handouts. Macron is right to propose small, incremental reforms to change the way these issues are talked about in France and show that real change is possible, that government programs are not a ratchet that moves only one way. But Macron's arrogance, often manifested through a politically toxic mix of condescension toward the working class while enjoying the finer things in life, will not help him achieve his reformist agenda. Macron's allies say the controversies will not derail the President's agenda. We'll see. Real protests begin this weekend and the political class does not have a stellar history of resisting massive street demonstrations. Everything changes when farmers are blocking the highways into Paris.
Mark Steyn writes about America and the rest of the west today and its lack of civilizational confidence, manifested in both its unwillingness to tackle the threat of Islam and its zeal to tear down statues:
A culture that will not defend its past is unlikely to defend its future. Indeed, it may be so obsessed with contempt for its past that it can no longer even discern threats to its future. Or, come to that, threats to its present. We see this in the urge to flush attempted mass murder on the London Tube down the memory hole as swiftly as possible. Why exactly is it so necessary to cast the Parsons Green terror attack out of your mind?Because any useful conversation on the subject would necessarily involve "refugee" policy, and broader questions of immigration and assimilation.And that's controversial because you'll get accused of being a racist.And that's career-ending because you come from a country where H G Wells said some beastly things about brown people a century ago.And that's utterly shameful because, although your nation gave to the world Magna Carta and Common Law and Shakespeare and a Royal Navy that did more than any other institution to expunge slavery from the planet, and notwithstanding that even in the crappiest crapholes like Zimbabwe almost everything that still just about works in that dump comes from your country, your history is less than 100 per cent perfect.And that's cringe-worthy because you've been raised in a culture that doesn't teach you about any of the good stuff, only to spasm reflexively when accusers cry "racist!" or "imperialist!", "Islamophobe!" or "transphobe!"And that's life-threatening because, after a generation or two, it seems entirely normal to accept that, as penance for crimes you have never committed, it is necessary to surrender your civilization to barbarians.
Karl Marx said of capitalism: "the rule of the bourgeois democrats, from the very first, will carry within it the seeds of its own destruction, and its subsequent displacement by the proletariat will be made considerably easier." I sometimes wonder if the same might be said of western-style democracy itself.
Four week 3 NFL games to watch
Runner-up: New Orleans Saints (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-0) early Sunday afternoon: There are reasons to believe that the Drew Brees offense is not what we thought it would be but assuming that attrition hasn't left the QB with too few weapons, this could be a great strength match-up: Saints offense against the dominant Panthers D (12 points and no touchdowns allowed). If the Saints had played the 49ers and Bills like the Panthers have instead of the Vikings and Patriots, they might be 2-0. Cam Newton hasn't looked good. Should be a close divisional game and best chance for the Saints to turn their fortunes around. I predict they do.
4. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1) Monday night: Dak Prescott had a tough game last week in Denver, the type of games that challenge rookie QBs but the sophomore didn't face last year: the opposition gets off to a lead and then the defense loads up the box and forces the young QB to throw. Sophomore RB Zeke Elliott ran for less than 10 yards and Prescott didn't pass his test. Dallas and Prescott will need to bounce back but they do so against a strong D. Cards CB Patrick Peterson defending WR Dez Bryant should be a good matchup. Arizona should win their home opener.
3. Houston Texans (1-1) at New England Patriots (1-1) early Sunday afternoon: The Texans are good at getting pressure on opposing QBs, but generally Tom Brady isn't bothered by pressure unless it comes up the middle. The Pats O-line has been good at preventing that from happening in the previous two games. That said, J.J. Watt is no regular edge rusher and Watt vs. Brady is a battle between this generation's best defensive player versus this generation's best QB. No rookie QB has beaten Bill Belichick in Foxborough so Deshaun Watson is battling history, but he faces a Pats defense that hasn't shined thus far this season. It will be tough for Houston to upset New England, but the Texans can give the Pats a scare.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at San Diego Chargers (0-2) later Sunday afternoon: Classic AFC West rivalry. Bolts need to win if they have any chance to make the playoffs ... or want to fill their soccer-sized stadium any time soon. Both of their losses were close and winnable: San Diego lost their games by a combined five points. The Chiefs have been solid on both sides of the ball with Alex Smith throwing downfield and third-round pick RB Kareem Hunt making an early case for offensive rookie of the year. According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs have the best offense in the NFL, by a fair bit. That said, FO has San Diego as the 7th most efficient offense; ESPN's FPI has them as third and eighth respectively in offensive efficiency. Expect scoring. San Diego has suffered too many injuries to beat a Chiefs team that is looking like one of the three best squads in the NFL. Chiefs edge the Chargers in LA.
1. Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at Detroit Lions (2-0) early Sunday afternoon: Only game featuring two 2-0 teams this week. The Falcons are a complete, deep team with loads of talent. The Lions look better than they are having edged out a lackluster Arizona Cardinals team and the even more lackluster New York Giants. Lions schedule gets tougher and there is a good chance if this game is in December no one would care. Football Outsiders has Atlanta as the fourth-best offense and Detroit as the fourth-best defense, so this could be an interesting match-up. Matt Stafford against Matt Ryan is a matchup of top QBs. Falcons are trying to bury their Super Bowl defeat in which they blew a 25-point lead; Lions have nine come-from-behind victories in 2016 and thus far in 2017. But that's a dangerous game and doing so against a Falcons team with a running back tandem that should be able to run the clock will not be easy. Falcons win Detroit.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, middle class champion
CBC reports that amidst the controversy that he and his Finance Minister have 11 numbered companies between them while they seek to increase the taxes on small business owners, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "I no longer have dealings with the way our family fortune is managed." Family fortune, eh?
Trudeau also says that "I have been open and transparent about that, and have been entirely consistent in my desire to not be perceived to be bending or breaking any rules." Perception is important to most politicians, but few admit it. Also, not to be perceived as bending or breaking rules is not the same thing as avoiding doing those things.
2020 watch (Democrats edition)
Powerline's John Hinderaker writes about Hillary Clinton's What Happened -- Hillary happened -- and the lessons it has for everyone:
Here’s the rub: the Trumpist movement turned out to be stronger than I, and most others, initially understood. But Trumpists were, and remain, a minority. Trump probably would not have won if he had not been running against a uniquely inept and unpopular opponent.That is how history works, of course–Ronald Reagan, to take just one example, benefited from running against the rather pathetic Jimmy Carter. So Trump is our president and he should exercise his powers vigorously. But Republicans also should understand that their victory owed at least as much to their opponent’s weakness as to their champion’s appeal.The good news is that the Democrats don’t obviously have anyone much better than Hillary on the horizon for 2020.
There are candidates that are much better than Hillary Clinton, but they are still terrible candidates. The floor is pretty low with HRC.
Cowen interview with Summers
Tyler Cowen interviewed Larry Summers, an economist who served in senior roles in the Clinton and Obama administrations and a former president of Harvard (audio, video and transcript available here). Some excerpts:
COWEN: Who’s innovating in higher education right now, and what are they learning from this innovation?SUMMERS: Not enough people are innovating enough in higher education. The place to start is, General Electric looks nothing like it looked in 1975. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford look a lot like they looked in 1975. They’re about the same size to within a factor of two, they’re about the same number of buildings, they operate on about the same calendar, they have many of the same people or some number of the same people in significant positions.The main thing to say is that, for something that’s all about ideas and for something that’s all about young people, the pace of innovation in higher education is stunningly slow. We’re still on a system where the break is in the summer. The reason we’re on that system is that when everybody went to pick the plants, that was the natural way to organize school, and it’s still going that way.
Summers, a pro-immigration Democrat, talks about how to build support for immigration:
The right broad deal on immigration is yes, there should be immigration but at least my view is the idea of the melting pot, which has become unfashionable in many circles, is actually a good idea.The understanding should be that if you immigrate to the United States you’re immigrating to the United States to become an American. That reflects acculturation, one crucial part of which is speaking English and understanding that you’re going to be learning English and that you’re going to be carrying on your life in English. If we had more acceptance of the idea that immigration was about becoming American, we would have more acceptance of higher levels of immigration than generate comfort right now.
Summers on the optimal rate of tax on capital income?
Closer to the tax rate on other income than to zero would be my answer to that. A fair amount of capital income reflects rents of one kind or another. Capital income is substantially held by those at the high end. There’s a fair amount of what’s really capital income in the form of unrealized capital gains that never gets taxed.So I think the right aggregate capital income tax rate is closer to what would go with a comprehensive income tax than it is to the alternative idea that capital income taxation is just a way of taxing future consumption, and therefore you should tax future consumption and present consumption at the same rate and the tax rate should be zero.
Summers on philanthropy to cities or other levels of government:
[Y]ou need to be very careful to make sure that whatever you think you’re buying is what you’re actually buying. If you give more money to the health budget of the city and the city responds by reallocating its own money from healthcare to other things then you’ll have demonstrated fungibility; you won’t have spurred healthcare. So have a strategy for addressing fungibility.
He also warns philanthropists to avoid "cannibalization" when trying to help and "impose a replicability constraint."
The full interview is self-recommending even if there is no over-rated/under-rated.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
'FedEx ordered to pay woman $740 after horse semen delivery delay'
That's an actual headline, from CBC Halifax. Explanation: "N.S. woman's horse failed to get pregnant after 'priority overnight' package arrived late." Thank God for the national broadcaster.
PM May sorta backs BoJo
Reuters reports that a Sky News journalist tweeted Prime Minister Theresa May's response to being asked about her foreign minister, Boris Johnson: "Boris is doing good work as Foreign Secretary." She's correct, but that statement is terse enough for BoJo to worry about his future in cabinet if that's indeed something he cares about. At this point, he probably doesn't.
Markets in everything (deer piss edition) and regulatory capture (deer piss edition)
The New Yorker reports:
There are roughly ten thousand deer farms in North America, and some thirty per cent are owned by the Amish. The deer are usually raised for venison or hunting, but Lapp found another specialty: he is one of America’s premier producers of deer urine.Walk into Walmart or Cabela’s and go to the back, near the rifles, and you’ll find a wall display of deer urine. It comes in small squirt bottles that hunters spray on the ground to hide their scent. Some hunters spend extra for urine collected from does in heat, which, they believe, attracts bucks. Industry groups estimate that deer urine is a hundred-million-dollar business, with players like Tink’s, Wildlife Research Center, and Top Secret, which for some reason packages its urine in wine bottles. Lapp sells his, wholesale, in three-hundred-and-twenty-gallon vessels, to the big manufacturers, and also runs a small business selling directly to hunters. He is not rich, but he makes a solid living for a young Amishman, and has plans to move his wife and their newborn baby into a larger house.
In an effort to combat chronic wasting disease that is plaguing some deer species, the state of New York has banned deer urine from infected areas, although it has not banned bringing butchered meat from such parts of the country. Curiously, meat is higher risk than urine. As New Yorker's Adam Davidson explains:
[T]he New York deer-hunting industry, which is dominated by firearm hunters, brings in more than one and a half billion dollars a year, and is supported by retailers and a passionate population of hunters. The deer-urine industry, on the other hand, is most vocally supported by bow hunters, who are comparatively few, and is predominantly represented by people like Lapp, small farmers with few resources.The plan’s disparate treatment of urine and meat is an example of what economists call regulatory capture: the process by which regulators, who are supposed to pursue solely the public interest, instead become solicitous of the very industries they regulate.
Black pride okay. White pride not so much.
Taryn Finley, associate editor at HuffPost Black Voices, echoes Issa Rae's "Rooting for Everybody Black" in an essay for the New York Times, explaining:
[E]xpressing black pride is not the same as being racist toward whites ...Ms. Rae’s critics don’t understand that when it comes to racial pride, the playing field is not level. Black pride does not carry the power to shut others out as white pride does.
The race-conscious left needs to understand if a lot of people, who aren't actually racist, react no so friendly to such double-standards.
Indian is not an offensive team name
The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby comes to the defense of the Cleveland Indians, and other professional sports franchises with Indian-theme names:
No sports team adopts a name or symbol in order to bring contempt upon itself ... team names typically suggest traits associated with heroes and winners: the speed of jets, the ferocity of bears, the aggressiveness of predators, the tenacity of cowboys.That explains the abundance of Indian-themed team names in American sports at every level. Braves, Warriors, Blackhawks, Redskins, Indians — they are nods to a common view of native tribes as brave, tough, noble, and intimidating. If that’s a stereotype, it is a flattering one. It may not be historically accurate, but it could hardly be less of an example of invidious racism.
Jacoby also comes to the defense of Chief Wahoo, the symbol Cleveland barely uses anymore:
But there is no negative stereotype of wide-eyed, laughing Indians. Chief Wahoo doesn’t reflect contempt for Indians any more than Bugs Bunny reflects contempt for rabbits or than the Boston Celtics logo reflects contempt for the Irish.Chief Wahoo is not and never has been the “grinning face of racism.” Like Fred Flintstone, Dudley Do-Right, or the bat-swinging, tonsured monk of the San Diego Padres, he is a cheerful, playful cartoon character, nothing more. The Chief Wahoo logo doesn’t hint at any bigoted subtext. Demonizing it as a racist emblem may feel good to those who enjoy parading their liberal sensitivity, but it does nothing to combat actual bigotry or promote tolerance.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Trudeau makes HUGE promise to UK
The Express: "Brexit trade deal with Canada will be EVEN BETTER than EU's Ceta agreement says Trudeau." This looks big. And Brussels might not be happy about it. One might argue it violates Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promise to the EU to respect its trade rules which do not allow for London to negotiate separate trade agreements until after it has left the European Union (that is, after March 2019). But these are only words and as we've seen the Liberal leader says a lot of things and doesn't follow through (electoral reform, tiny temporary budget-deficits). Negotiations for a post-Brexit free trade deal won't conclude until after the October 2019 federal election which means the final agreement could be decided by a different prime minister and government.
Trudeau said, "we will be able to move forward in a way that benefits in a smooth transition that keeps the essence of Ceta applicable to the UK in ways that will respects the EU's requirements and rules." Not sure how that works, and neither does anybody else in Ottawa or London at this time. Certainly Canada's Prime Minister doesn't know what that looks like. But he mouthed words so all is good.
90% of the time I think these things are said in the same spirit as people asking how others are doing: most of the time the inquirer doesn't care about the answer, it's just the polite thing to say. Except that when politicians talk, it can affect markets, negotiations, and politics.
The highly regulated life of a trucker
Fascinating, confusing, and sad article at The Federalist by trucker Matthew Garnett on the regulations with which he must abide (the excerpt is long but worth reading):
For starters, let’s talk “logs” and “hours of service.” While you’re only fighting one clock on your morning commute, a truck driver is fighting five clocks. Like you, he’s fighting real time. You have to be at work by 9:00 a.m., and he has a 9 o’clock appointment at the local distribution center. It’s 8:45 and I-40 is a parking lot. In addition to this, he has four other clocks to worry about: the “eight-hour break” clock, his “14-hour on-duty, not driving” clock, the “11-hour on-duty, driving” clock, and the “70-hour weekly on-duty” clock. For simplicity, I will call each of these the “eight,” the “14,” the “11,” and the “70.”Now I’ll explain what’s known in the transportation industry as the “Hours of Service” regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCA) requires drivers to log everything they do, where they did it, the duration of the task, and when the specific tasks were done. The biggest principle to keep in mind is that when any one of the “clocks” runs out, you can no longer drive legally. Once you start the clock by going on-duty, you have eight hours before you must stop driving and take a 30-minute break.Also, once you start your clock, you have now started a nonstop 14-hour window in which you must get all the driving done you need to for that day. If you get stuck at a shipper for three hours, you now have only 10 hours to drive. Which brings us to your “11”: In any given 14-hour on-duty period, you are only allowed to drive legally for 11 hours within that 14-hour period. In addition, in any eight-day period, you are only allowed to be on-duty (not driving and driving) for a total of 70 hours. Hence, your “70.” (This week, I made it back home with only one hour on my 70… I was cutting it close.)Clear as mud? Basically, as I said in the outset, the FMCA (that is, Uncle Sam/ Big Brother) not only wants to know when I’m sleeping, resting, and driving—it tells me when I can sleep, rest, and drive.Even now, as I write, I am being monitored. I am on the “off-duty” line of my logs. If I get pulled over next week by a “diesel bear” (a state trooper dedicated to enforcing FMCA regs), he’s going to want to know where I was and what I was doing at this very moment, and whether the FMCA does or doesn’t allow that. For instance, even though my logging computer says I’m “off duty,” if it were found out that I’m writing an article for The Federalist instead of “resting,” I’d be in violation. I’m technically not supposed to be doing any work right now. I’m not supposed to mow the grass, or take out the trash. I definitely would be in violation if I got a part-time job on the weekend while I was supposed to be “off duty.”I’ve heard horror stories on this. A colleague of mine was once cited for a log violation because he sent an email to his dispatcher while he was in the “off duty” status. The penalty for that? Well, if the judge wants to throw the book at you, he can send you to jail for six months in some states. The fines are at least $500. So if it were determined by the powers that be that I was “working” during my off-duty time, I could be jailed for that. (Just in case my boss reads this, I consider writing a leisure activity.)Now back to the logs/clocks, and I’ll show you what I mean when I say Big Brother tells us when to drive, rest, and sleep. Once a truck driver’s “eight” runs out, he has to take a 30-minute break before he can drive again. When his “14” expires, he must take a 10-hour, off-duty rest period. Once he’s driven for 11 hours, he must stop and take a 10-hour break.But say you get stuck at a shipper for three hours: you can log two hours of off-duty time, which can serve as part of a later 10-hour break, but then you must take the remaining eight hours on the “sleeper-birth” line of your logs. This is called a “split sleeper.” After your eight hours in the sleeper, you will get the time back you had while you were stuck at the shipper, minus any time you used after the two hours, but before you took eight hours in the sleeper birth.Simple, right? I’ve been driving trucks for a while, and these are aspects of the log system I still don’t completely understand. My outfit uses electronic logs, so basically when that computer tells me to stop driving, I stop. When it says go, I go.
These regulations incentivize unsafe driving because speeding is the easiest way to beat the clocks. These regulations disincentivize entrepreneurism because some truck-driving entrepreneurs will blanch at having every minute of their lives scrutinized by the state.