When “red” means “reduce your taxes” and “blue” means you voted badly


Residents of Republican-leaning states may be feeling better this tax season.

The controversial limit on state and local tax deductions in the federal tax code overhaul is making for “a small but important difference” for red states than blue state, according to a new study distributed [April 22] by the National Bureau of Economic Research. President Trump’s new tax law reduced the maximum amount you can deduct for state and local taxes to $10,000 or $5,000 if you use married filing separate status.

Households in Republican “red” states are projected to see an average 1.6% increase in remaining lifetime spending in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, while households in Democratic “blue” states will see an average 1.3% increase.

Without the cap, blue-state consumers would have experienced a 2.1% increase in lifetime spending under the new tax law compared to the 1.9% rise for red state residents, the study said. Case in point: Wyoming, a robust red state with the largest percentage gain in lifetime spending, will rake in an extra $33,679 over their lifetime.

But people living in deeply Democratic California will see the smallest gains and only reap $21,548, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Boston University and University of California, Berkeley. “It appears every state on average benefitted from tax reform,” said Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff, one of the authors.

The blue versus red state trend becomes even more pronounced higher up the earnings ladder. The richest top 10% in red states will see a 2% increase, but the same high-earning blue state residents will have a 1.2% increase, said the findings. The richest residents in Democratic-leaning states didn’t benefit as much.

The $10,000 cap will currently expire in 2025, but Kotlikoff said researchers went with a lifetime spending analysis expecting the limit would stay put. “It’s not trivial, but it’s not enormous,” he said.

It’s another look at tax code with possibly uneven effects. One MarketWatch analysis said states backing President Donald Trump in the 2016 election would reap the majority of money from tax cuts while paying minority share.

Until Trump enacted sweeping 2017 changes to the personal and corporate tax system, there wasn’t a deduction limit for state and local taxes — which happen to be higher in certain Democratic-leaning states. Median state and local taxes were $7,950 in blue states, $5,219 in red states and $6,371 in middle-of-the-road purple states.

The new law, which didn’t earn one Democratic vote in the House or Senate, put a $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions. Among other things, it also enlarged the standard deduction for taxpayers who thought they’d fare better on that route than itemizing write-offs like state and local tax expenses.

Jared Walczak, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank, said the new tax code has been a victory for taxpayers. Before the new laws, people with high state taxes were effectively getting a subsidy from the rest of the country with their unlimited deduction, he said. Walczak said that the latest data has effectively confirmed this.

As far as tax seasons go, it’s been a wild one. There’s been frustration from taxpayers who suddenly owe money and joy from those getting a surprisingly high refund. H&R Block said a large part of the refund let-down could be the fact that many taxpayers didn’t update their tax witholding during 2018. H&R Block tallies said there were fewer tax liabilities across the board for its clients.

The federal government has paid $7.6 billion less in refunds this tax season compared to the last one. When the Internal Revenue Service compared the week ending April 12, 2019 with a comparable point last year, it said filed tax returns were up 0.7% while the number of refunds were down almost 2%. (IRS tallies don’t break out state-by-state refunds.)

Some Democratic states are suing the Treasury Department over the cap on state and local tax deductions (SALT), calling them an “unconstitutional assault.” In February, New Jersey federal lawmakers offered a bill to repeal the cap, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has slammed the limits.

The plaintiffs in the ongoing Manhattan Federal Court are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland. When the new study ranked lifetime spending within the 50 states and Washington D.C., it put Maryland in 19th place and placed Connecticut in 36th place. New Jersey ranks in 42nd place and New York in 45th place.

In response, federal lawyers argued, “Many taxpayers in these states who previously benefitted most from the [state and local tax] deduction are projected to have consistently lower tax bills due to the combined effect of the act’s many provisions.”

Boy, that Trump is sure a moron, isn’t he, getting a tax cut through Congress that rewards states that voted for him and penalizes states that didn’t vote for him, and/or rewards states with low(er) taxes and penalizes states with high(er) taxes. The irony is that if you believe Republicans have more money than Democrats, that $10,000 SALT limit probably affected a fair number of Wisconsinites who voted for Trump in. (On the other hand, given this state’s seventh-circle-of-tax-hell status under previous governors, the tax cuts, insufficient as they were, signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker may have been the difference between some Wisconsinites’ paying more taxes under the Trump tax cuts and paying less.)

But as Milton Friedman put it …

Congress is responsible for federal taxes, not state and local taxes. Though there is an argument for SALT deductibility on the grounds that one shouldn’t have to pay taxes multiple times, the fact is that SALT was a subsidy to higher-tax states paid for by lower-tax states. The latter group might reasonably ask why they should be penalized for their fiscal responsibility.




Presty the DJ for May 21

One strange anniversary in rock music: Today in 1968, Paul McCartney and Jane Asher attended a concert of … Andy Williams:

Eleven years later, not McCartney, but Elton John became the first Western artist to perform in the Soviet Union.

Four years later, David Bowie’s suggestion reached number one:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 21”

The future of Roe v. Wade

Megan McArdle:

Supporters of abortion rights are fond of saying that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” The phrase is supposed to convey a finality that borders on irrevocability. But, of course, what the Supreme Court gives, the Supreme Court can take away. That appears to be the reasoning behind the new laws passed in Alabama and Georgia, which would virtually outlaw abortion in both states.

Obviously, these laws will be challenged by abortion-rights activists; just as obviously, the laws will be struck down by lower courts, whereupon Alabama and Georgia will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. And shortly thereafter, the country will probably find out just how settled Roe v. Wade really is.

The showdown looms because Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh now occupies the Supreme Court seat once held by the now-retired Anthony M. Kennedy. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike suspect that Kavanaugh is less supportive of sweeping abortion rights than Kennedy was. But the confrontation arguably was inevitable from the moment Roe was decided in 1973; the settled right may actually have been inherently unstable. When the court finally rules and all the shouting has stopped, we may eventually come to wonder whether it could ever have turned out any other way.

No legal case has done more than Roe to define how the left sees the Supreme Court: not as a somewhat boring final arbiter of words recorded in law books, but as the oracle that tells us what rights the Constitution ought to guarantee. Consequential cases such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966), concerning racial segregation and the rights of police suspects, respectively, dealt with matters that clearly involved the Constitution. There was no question that resolving just such ambiguity is the Supreme Court’s job.

But by the 1970s, the court was, one suspects, a little drunk on the moral and legal triumph of those earlier cases. The justices were now going well beyond the words in the law books and into the unwritten law of what used to be called “enlightened opinion.” In 1972, they abolished the death penalty in all 50 states, even though the Constitution clearly contemplates government-administered capital punishment.

The following year, the justices gave the country a new right to abortion. The right is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, but had apparently been lurking there undetected for the better part of two centuries before the justices finally coaxed it into the open. From this era dates the solemn invocations of “settled law” issued by “the highest court in the land.”

That view of constitutional interpretation works precisely as long as you happen to agree with the judicial interpreters. When the other side of the political spectrum gets wise and starts stocking the courts with judges who share their opinions — Catastrophe! Ruination! Citizens United!

Which makes this a good time for the left to step back and ask whether it was ever a good idea to urge such sweeping powers on unelected judges. The benefit of going the judicial route is that you can occasionally achieve outcomes you could never obtain through legislatures; that is how America, a center-right nation, got one of the most liberal abortion regimes in the world. The problem with going the judicial route is that it short-circuits public debate and forces the opposition to take radical action — like, say, a decades-long project to fill the courts with right-leaning judges — to amend that “settled law.”

The consequences of the counterreaction can go well beyond the issue at hand. If not for Roe, it seems eminently possible that the conservative-court project would have been less urgent, and the decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller on gun rights or Citizens United on campaign finance might never have happened. If it hadn’t been for Roe, evangelicals might also have balked at electing Donald Trump.

Of course, if it hadn’t been for Roe, there also wouldn’t have been more than 50 million abortions since 1973; whether that’s a good or bad thing will be left as an exercise for the reader. But many abortions would have been performed anyway, because before the court took the issue away from voters, polls showed public opinion steadily trending in favor of legalized abortion, and the procedure was already legal in several states.

If the Supreme Court hadn’t intervened on abortion, political debate might have sorted voters along a spectrum, rather than forcing them into the unforgiving yes-no binary. And if you fear you’re about to end up on the wrong side of that binary, you might wish your side had settled for something less grandiose, but more enduring.

The GOP after 2018

James Wigderson wrote this before last weekend’s Wisconsin Republican Party convention:

The party is reeling from an audit that revealed Wisconsin Republicans spent far too much on Washington D.C. consultants, ran down the party treasury, and even skipped some payments to vendors. Despite spending like Democrats, the Republican Party actually lost every statewide office in 2018 even with a strong economy.

I didn’t need a report to tell me that Republicans are spending too much on D.C. consultants. As the editor here, I’ve been amazed at the articles sent to me by public relations firms in Washington that were supposedly written by Wisconsinites. The Republican Party could just send us the check with the article and cut out the middle man, except it’s obviously the middle men doing the writing.

Reading the report, there seems to be four reforms the party will undertake: be nicer to volunteers, more yard signs, use less expensive consultants, and pay the bills. Yes, despite the report saying we shouldn’t roll our eyes at “more yard signs,’ we should roll our eyes at “more yard signs.”

The report also mentions doing a better job of coordinating media responses and improving communications. That could start any day now since we weren’t even asked if we wanted to have a booth again at the convention. (You would think they would want our money.) Not one person at the party has reached out to see if we were coming to the convention. I only mention it because, if in theory we’re the likeminded side of the media, imagine how poor the communications must be with the rest of the media.

Missing from the report, however, is a real accounting of what is happening to the Republican Party. For example: while the report mentions the growing gender gap, it does not acknowledge that part of the problem is President Donald Trump’s unpopularity with suburban women. And while the report claims the Republican Party wants to reach out to Hispanic voters, perhaps somebody should have a conversation with the Waukesha Republican Party who hosted a “Build the Wall” gala.

But even before Trump’s election, a whole horde of grifters infiltrated the conservative movement, alienating voters who should be Republicans, motivating Democrats to turn out their voters, and feasting on the financial carcass of the elephant.

Ironically, the state party is bringing one of those alienating grifters, Candace Owens, to speak at the convention dinner Saturday night. What a long way the party has fallen when they’re so embarrassed by what Owens might say that the event is closed to the media. Are they afraid she is going to say more nice things about Adolf Hitler?

Sadly, the Owens event is “sold out,” demonstrating just how willing the grass roots of the party are willing to be fleeced by someone who is willing to tell them Trump and the GOP will win over minority voters before the 2020 election. But hey, she annoys all the right people, so let’s buy tickets, right? I don’t know which is worse, the party pandering to the least common denominator, or that it worked.

As for the changes to the party that have been made so far, it’s near unanimous among Republicans that bringing Mark Jefferson back to be the executive director was a good move. Hopefully, Jefferson can catch the party up to the Democrats in organizing the grass roots to turn out voters. As we learned from the special state senate elections in 2018 and the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, the Democrats are ahead in technology and organization, as well as motivation. The opposition research and messaging for the party could use a real upgrade, too.

Reactions are mixed about the appointment of Andrew Hitt as the party’s chairman. Hitt was the party treasurer when all of the financial problems occurred. This is like making the Titanic’s navigator the captain of another large passenger ship. And as the Chief Operating Officer of Michael Best Strategies, how many hidden conflicts of interest will there be as his government relations organization tries to work with the Evers administration? Hitt should be a very temporary employee until the party can find a full-time party chairman, one that isn’t trying to influence government policy for paying clients while trying to run a state party.

To be fair, the losses in 2018 can’t all be laid at the state party’s door. Democrats were motivated by Trump, Republicans less so. Judge Michael Screnock’s race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court ran into anti-Trump sentiment and didn’t have an effective media campaign. Former state Sen. Leah Vukmir had to fight an awful primary and ran an awful campaign at the same time. Gov. Scott Walker was defeated by complacency and one too many campaigns, not to mention the damage done (by Trump, too) during the 2016 campaign for president. Attorney General Brad Schimel nearly won, but was dragged down by forces beyond his control, including a national GOP Attorney General committee that is behind the Democrats’ organization.

However, the party needs to improve if it is going to win. The party needs to do a real job of reaching out to women and minority voters. It needs to do a better job of fighting the Democrats. And it needs to be smarter in how it turns out GOP voters.

The few Republican activists that show up at this year’s convention will have a good time. They’ll rub elbows with elected officials, they’ll enjoy the hospitality suites and they’ll probably celebrate, in the words for former Gov. Tommy Thompson, what a great day it is to be a Republican in Wisconsin. Perhaps someday it will be again, but only with a more honest examination of what is really wrong with the party.

Presty the DJ for May 20

Today in 1966, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who decided to replace for the evening the tardy drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle with the bass player and drummer of the band that played before them at the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor, England.

When Moon and Entwistle arrived and found they had been substituted for, a fight broke out. Moon and Entwistle quit … for a week.

The number one single today in 1967:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 20”

Presty the DJ for May 19

The number-one album today in 1958, and for the next 31 weeks, was the soundtrack to the musical “South Pacific” went to number one and stayed there for 31 weeks. The film version starred Mitzi Gaynor, who looked very much like my mother a few years later.

Today in 1979, Eric Clapton married Patti Boyd, the former wife of George Harrison and the muse for the song “Layla.” The song lasted much longer than the marriage.

One wonders if anyone played selections from that day’s number one British album:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 19”

Presty the DJ for May 18

If you wanna be happy, listen to the number one single today in 1963:

Another one-hit wonder had the number one single today in 1968:

The number one single today in 1974 might be the very definition of the term “novelty song”:

The number one British single today in 1975:

(Which more appropriately should have been called “Stand by Your Men,” since Tammy Wynette had had three husbands up to then, and two more thereafter.)

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 18”

On becoming a 21st-century adult

First, Samuel J. Abrams:

Over the past weeks, I published two articles which argued that the American Dream is not only alive and well for the overwhelming majority of Americans, but that the meaning of the Dream has evolved; it is not about material success, but about individual choice and the freedom to live one’s life as one chooses.

While many appreciated the optimistic findings, quite a few emails and letters were sent my way questioning the finding that Americans value individualism over financial success. So, I will provide historical context to the Dream that challenges conventional presuppositions along with data from our recent AEI survey to support my claim.

American literature professor Sarah Churchwell, in her new history of the American Dream, argues that, at its conception, the Dream had little to do with wealth but was “a dream of equality, justice, and democracy for the nation.” Churchwell offers that the Dream evolved through successive generations and lost its meaning during the Cold War. She adds that it “became an argument for a consumer capitalist version of democracy. Our ideas about the “American Dream” froze in the 1950s. Today, it doesn’t occur to anybody that it could mean anything else.” This materialistic view of the Dream seems to be dominant in public discourse today and is maintained by many such as Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Laborwho recently stated that the Dream was, “the faith that anyone could move from rags to riches — with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone.”

There are, however, broader interpretations of the Dream which promote education, social mobility and the pursuit of opportunity. Moreover, there are interpretations that promote individualism such as that of noted artist Maya Lin who stated that, “To me, the American Dream is being able to follow your own personal calling. To be able to do what you want to do is incredible freedom.” JamesAdams, a writer who coined the term “American Dream”, felt similarly. In 1931, he argued, “the dream, has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.”

Our AEI survey intended to unpack the antecedents behind the Dream and did so by presenting a large national sample of Americans with eight distinct factors that could be considered components of the Dream. Participants were asked to rate the importance of each factor in accordance with their personal opinions on the American Dream. Included in the list were choices such as “to become wealthy,” “to have a better quality of life than your parents” as well as “to have a good family life” and “to have freedom of choice in how to live one’s life.”

Read the full AEI Survey on Community and Society here.

The aggregate results tell a very strong story: family life and freedom to live one’s life are the highest valued components by far with 83% and 85% of Americans asserting that they are essential to the realization of the Dream. In contrast, only 16% believe that becoming wealthy is essential. Additionally, less than half of participants answered that having a successful career and having a better quality of life than one’s parents are essential to the Dream.

When the survey is broken down by race and ethnicity, freedom of choice in how to live one’s life is the highest rated answer with all groups stating at levels of 80% or more that this factor is fundamental. The least important factor is wealth; 9% of whites and 29% of blacks and Hispanics state that wealth accumulation is critical to the Dream. Further, family and individual choice are the highest rated across all surveyed races and ethnicities. Similarly, when broken down by income, freedom to live one’s life as one chooses is again the most important factor; with a selection rate of 80% for those earning under $35K per year and nearly 90% for those who earn over $100k.

After a thorough examination of the data, it is clear that the public conceptualization of the American Dream stresses individuality and community over material pursuits. This is a non-trivial finding and would explain why data from our AEI survey revealed 82% of Americans believe they are on their way to, or have already achieved the American Dream, while only 18% believe that the Dream is out of reach.

Americans truly value their individualism and their community life, and the post-Cold War conception that achieving the American Dream is inextricably linked to wealth accumulation is erroneous. Americans realize that when they wake up in the morning, they can make choices about how to live and engage with the world; many of these choices do not require bringing wealth into the conversation.

One doesn’t become an adult by graduating from school, or getting a high-paying job, or becoming a parent. Adulthood is really about fulfilling responsibilities. Which brings up, of all things, Star Trek Discovery, in the view of James Aaron Brown:

If Aristotle was correct when he said life imitates art, then “Star Trek: Discovery’s” Captain Christopher Pike is an opportunity for the science fiction genre to reshape the American narrative on masculinity.

Pike inspires his people to “be bold, be brave, be courageous.” In contradiction, sitcom television and college campuses influence Americans to believe that men are solely misogynistic buffoons. In fact, men are so incompetent, they stand over their barbecue grills watching their sons fight with each other as some form of weird ritual. How did we ever reach some sense of civilization over the past 5,000 years with men at the helm?

“Star Trek: Discovery” is the successor of 50-plus years of the Star Trek universe as well as one of the greatest franchises to explore the human condition. Discovery uses the fictitious Captain Pike to reexamine the masculine archetype, long downtrodden in our postmodern society. The series and its writers (inadvertently) recaptures one of the greatest virtues of science fiction long gone missing in other genres: a strong, self-sacrificing, masculine hero.

Such masculine archetypes are sorely missed in television. Welcome back, Captain Pike. Welcome back. America has a great lesson to learn from you and Star Trek.

In the original Star Trek series of the late 1960s, viewers discovered Captain Kirk was not the first captain of the Enterprise. Instead, fans learned Captain Christopher Pike served for 13 years before Kirk assumed command.

In the “Menagerie” parts 1 and 2, Kirk and Spock meet Pike, who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate due to severe gamma radiation burns. Pike, the eager hero, met this fate when he saved several cadets from certain death. Ultimately, Spock breaks Federation law to return Captain Pike to Talos IV, where Christopher can live out his remaining days in peace and tranquility with a sense of healing from his wounds.

Set 10 years before Star Trek’s original series, Pike startlingly joins the U.S.S. Discovery to investigate a series of indeterminable signals that appear immediately after the end of season one’s conflict with the Klingon Empire. When Pike takes command of the Discovery, a look of dread appears on the faces of female crew members.

Their fear of a new captain stems from season one, in which Discovery was captained by Lorca, a despotic, achieve victory at all costs, tread everyone under foot leader. He is the antithesis of the heroine captain, Philippa Georgiou, whom everyone loved and admired. Captain Georgiou was killed by the nationalistic, male-driven warrior race, the Klingons.

Pike is the opposite of the despot Lorca. He asks men and women for their opinions and possible solutions. He praises his female and highly competent first officer, Number One, played by Rebecca Romjin. When danger arises, Pike is the first one to put his life on the line, which he does numerous times throughout the 14 episodes.

Federation leadership feared if the Klingons won, then a contingency must be made to preserve the greatest exemplar of all that is good. Someone with strong virtues must remain alive to rebuild a crushed Federation if the Klingons succeed. Pike is that exemplar, and he feels tremendous guilt for following orders to stay out of the war.

Pike lives out the virtue of commitment when ensign Tilly is trapped by an alien race. Captain Pike issues a ship-wide announcement, “Starfleet is a promise. I give my life for you. You give your life for me. And no one gets left behind. Ensign Tilly has every reason to expect us. Good luck and God speed to us all.”

With this promise they go after their lost comrade while two female officers share an approving glance with each other. The healing is taking root among the crew just like the healing of the male archetype narrative can take root in America.

Toward the end of the second season, Captain Pike must travel to the Klingon planet Boreth to retrieve a valuable crystal. To possess the crystal, Pike must accept an impossible future: in ten years he will save cadets from an explosion of gamma radiation, which will leave him in an almost vegetative state, burned beyond belief and confined to a wheelchair. Or Pike can reject the crystal’s curse and leave empty-handed to continue his unfettered life.

Faced with this horror, Pike digs deep. He reminds himself of his core values and the virtues that guide his daily life. He’s not worried about which craft beer he’ll miss out on. Nor is he worried about his alpha-female wife’s condescension. Pike chooses to practice the virtue of self-sacrifice for the greater good of others living in a jeopardized future.

Historically, Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek, sought to address the societal challenges of the 1960s through the adventures of the Enterprise. Racial barriers were non-existent on the starship despite those of the day. The misogyny of the ‘60s received confrontation while exploring narratives of true, respectful love. If Rodenberry were with us today, perhaps he might see one of the greatest societal plights is masculinity in the 21st century.

Like the original series, “Star Trek: Discovery” proves itself contemporary on the subject of masculinity, even if unwittingly. The show champions the virtues of the masculine archetype for a society that needs masculinity’s inspiration, not more fodder for sitcom television. If art imitates life, then our sons and daughters should tune in to one of the best offerings of science fiction known as Star Trek in hopes to imitate their lives after great art.

“Discovery” gives us Captain Pike, a character who can inspire our sons to “be bold, be brave,” and “be courageous,” inspirational words that commend young men to be who they are born to be before television and college campuses buffet their gaze to the ground. Be bold, be brave, be courageous men we hope our daughters will discover instead of being conditioned that their only hope is to settle for a man they will also need to raise alongside their children.

If art imitates life, then Captain Christopher Pike shapes the imagination to model the virtues of masculinity.

Finally, Mariia Chaplia:

I’ve been called a feminist many times in my life even though I’ve never considered myself one. I thought that if feminism had to do with equality of opportunity, then what was the point in inventing a new word? We already had individualism for that. However, the term “feminism” surpassed its initial meaning long ago. The successes and failures of the movement have also expanded much further into our daily life.

The first problem with feminism, regardless of what meaning you put into it, is that even the term itself singles out a particular group of people—women—by appealing to the “feminine.” It is often argued that the term is used to outline the target group of the movement. However, when one group marks itself out, it contributes to the segmentation of society. Nothing is wrong with this until the group starts calling for privileges and unnecessary concessions. This special treatment is justified by claiming a certain sect of society is responsible for their woes.

The feminist movement has been especially effective at promoting all sorts of measures aimed at ensuring women are as free to pursue their goals as are men, such as gender quotas. It is key to distinguish between equality of opportunity—which is one of the pillars of individualism—and equality of outcome, which undermines individualism.

The concept of welfare rights, such as a right to education, enshrined in many constitutions, is exercised through redistribution. I, for one, would like to see governments all over the world moving away from practicing redistribution. However, realistically, these social rights are entrenched in society and will persist. Despite this, it is unacceptable on the side of governments to meddle with women’s right to get an education on equal terms with men.

Just because women have been historically underrepresented in some areas, such as politics and business, doesn’t mean we should try to compensate for it by hiring more women in those professions now. This course of action is deeply flawed. It is impossible to correct the injustices of the past due to the lack of knowledge. More importantly, it undermines the advancement of the merit-based notion of success.

Another (and probably much more important) problem caused by feminism is that it teaches women to compete like men. Paradoxically, by appealing to the “feminine,” feminism lessened the role of the feminine. It also triggered a lot of anger and defensiveness toward men due to them being seen as enemies.

The famous Sun Tzu saying, “Know your enemy better than yourself,” seems to me to be at the core of radical feminism, which has demonized men. Any type of feminism presupposes competition. However, its essence as understood by feminists is different from that embraced by individualists

Women have been trying to compete with men on men’s terms. Those who have failed are generally the loudest in the queue for privileges—similar to uncompetitive industries calling for subsidies.

Using your competitor’s tactics can help you maintain your place, but it won’t help you win the race. For this very reason, feminism hasn’t won yet and never will if it carries on in its current form. The victory of feminism is only possible if it dissolves into individualism.

Margaret Thatcher put it best:

The woman’s mission is not to enhance the masculine spirit, but to express the feminine; hers is not to preserve a man-made world, but to create a human world by the infusion of the feminine element into all of its activities.

Individualism is a philosophy that treats all individuals equally, regardless of their gender, race, upbringing etc. It is a merit-based system of beliefs and, therefore, is mainly concerned with the value every individual can bring to the world. Individualism encourages us to leverage what we have and to harness our new sides.

Teaching girls to compete like men is a flawed and poisonous strategy. It’s time we started teaching girls to compete like individuals and to use feminine to their advantage in fair and value creation-oriented competition based on equality of opportunity.


Presty the DJ for May 17

First,  for those who believe the British are the height of sophistication and are so much more couth than us Americans: This was the number one song in the U.K. today in 1986:

The chicken is not having a birthday. Pervis Jackson of the Spinners is:

So is drummer Bill Bruford, who played for Yes, King Crimson and Genesis:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 17”


I’m not sure I buy Tyler Cowen‘s claim, but it is an interesting point of view:

With the U.S.-China trade talks now at a halt, odds are that the recent U.S. tariffs on China will continue — and perhaps even rise and multiply. So it’s worth considering what effects those tariffs will have. One prominent argument, which can also serve as a criticism of President Donald Trump, is that the U.S. consumer is the loser. Yet in reality, China is probably in the more vulnerable position.

To be clear, there are well-done studies showing that the recent tariffs have translated into higher prices for U.S. consumers. I am not contesting that research. The question is whether those studies give sufficient weight to all relevant variables for the longer run.

To see why the full picture is more complicated, let’s say the U.S. slaps tariffs on the industrial inputs (whether materials or labor) it is buying from China. It is easy to see the immediate chain of higher costs for the U.S. businesses translating into higher prices for U.S. consumers, and that is what the afore-mentioned studies are picking up. But keep in mind China won’t be supplying those inputs forever, especially if the tariffs remain. Within a few years, a country such as Vietnam will provide the same products, perhaps at cheaper prices, because Vietnam has lower wages. So the costs to U.S. consumers are temporary, but the lost business in China will be permanent. Furthermore, the medium-term adjustment will have the effect of making China’s main competitors better exporters.

Obviously, no final long-run estimates are possible right now. But it is quite plausible that China will bear the larger costs here, not the U.S.

Another risk for China is this: As its access to U.S. markets becomes more difficult, China may be tempted to look to Europe. It remains to be seen whether the European Union will adopt additional protectionist measures, but China must consider that the possibility is more than zero.

To understand another feature of the longer-term perspective, consider that the impact of tariffs can be felt in at least two ways. In highly competitive markets, prices have to match costs, and so a cost-boosting tariff really does translate into higher consumer prices. (This is the case with many of the recent U.S. tariffs on China.) But for profitable branded goods, the economics aren’t the same. If the U.S. puts higher tariffs on Mercedes-Benz, for example, the prices of those cars will still exceed their costs of production. Mercedes, wishing to keep some of its strong market position, will probably decide to suffer some of the cost of the tariffs in the form of lower profits, rather than passing them along to its customers.

China has prominent brands as well, be it Huawei in electronics or other firms in exotic food products, and over time it aspires to climb the value chain and sell more branded goods to Americans. In fact China has an industrial policy whose goal is to be competitive in these and other areas. Tariffs will limit profits for these companies and prevent Chinese products from achieving full economies of scale. So this preemptive tariff strike will hurt the Chinese economy in the future, even if it doesn’t yet show up in the numbers.

There is also a broader reason why a trade war with the U.S. hurts China, and this gets to an important point with trade agreements more generally. A U.S. trade agreement with China would (if enforceable) certify China as a place where foreigners can invest and be protected against espionage, intellectual property theft and unfair legal treatment. That prospect of certification is now suspended. That makes investing in China less desirable for many multinationals, not just U.S. ones. That, in turn, limits Chinese domestic wages as well as long-term learning and technology transfer. A U.S. certification of China might even boost Chinese domestic investment, but again that is now off the table.

In my numerous visits to China, I’ve found that the Chinese think of themselves as much more vulnerable than Americans to a trade war. I think they are basically correct, mostly because China is a much poorer country with more fragile political institutions.

And finally: My argument isn’t about whether Trump’s policy toward China is correct. I am only trying to get the basic economics straight. Next time you hear that the costs of the trade war are simply being borne by Americans, be suspicious. In their zeal to make Trump look completelywrong, on tariffs or other issues, too many commentators pick and choose their arguments. A more fair and complete economic analysis indicates that China is also a big loser from a trade war. Trump’s threats are exerting some very real pressure on the country.

This question of who is worse off omits one important detail. If Trump wants to stay president, he has to run for reelection next year, as do Congressional Republicans supporting and opposing his trade policies. China’s leaders have no such concern; they could tank their entire country’s economy and remain in power. So ask yourself what China really has to lose from this trade war.