22 thoughts on “News/Politics 4-17-17

  1. Ricky,

    Perhaps this answers some of your questions about why Americans aren’t moving.


    “Americans are stuck. Locked into our jobs, rooted where we live, frozen at our income levels. More than at any previous point in our history, we’ve stopped moving — whether moving up the income ladder or packing up a truck and finding another home. We’ve grown ossified, rigid.

    The flip side is that we’re stable. If we weren’t so content, we’d be more willing to gamble, to shake things up, to start a new firm or join one. Maybe we’re fine where we are. But maybe this period of stasis cannot last. Maybe it even portends a period of massive disruption.

    In “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream,” economist Tyler Cowen presents an X-ray of societal sclerosis. This isn’t merely another exercise in nostalgia, a sentimental yearning for a bygone era (when, for instance, crime and pollution were higher, people were highly likely to marry someone who lived within five blocks and you would buy an album containing 10 lousy songs because you liked one track). Something has changed in the American character and in the American economy, and the two seem to be reinforcing each other.”

    “One reason people don’t move where the jobs are is because of real-estate prices — which in turn are kept at high levels by regulatory restrictions and NIMBY-ism. In New York City in the 1950s a typical apartment rented for $60 a month, or $530 today if you adjust for inflation. Two researchers found that if you reduced regulations for building new homes in places like New York and San Francisco to the median level, the resulting expanded workforce would increase US GDP by $1.7 trillion. That won’t happen, though: More homes would diminish the property values of existing homeowners.

    That locked-in syndrome is a factor in economic stagnation, too: A recent Wells Fargo survey found that white-collar office productivity growth was zero. As the economy was supposedly recovering from the financial crisis, from 2009 to 2014, American median wages fell 4 percent. Men’s median incomes today are actually below 1969 levels. Had we retained our pre-1973 rates of productivity growth, the typical household would earn about $30,000 a year more than it does.

    Despite all the hype attached to a few tech companies, far fewer companies are being formed than in the 1980s, and fewer Americans are working for startups. Such new companies are linked with rapid job creation. We’re coming close, Cowen says, to realizing the 1950s cliche (not really true then) of everyone clinging to a job at a handful of huge, soul-crushing companies.”


  2. Sounds like a bad idea to me, but that’s because I don’t go to church to talk politics, or to hear politics preached. .


    “If the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill can work out a tax reform plan, it may unleash churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations into partisan politics. The Washington Post reports that negotiations between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue include the revocation of the “Johnson amendment,” which — ostensibly, anyway — prevents tax-exempt organizations from endorsing candidates or parties during election cycles:

    As Republicans struggle to craft a sweeping tax package — a process already rife with political land mines — they are preparing to add another volatile element to the mix: a provision that would end a six-decade-old ban on churches and other tax-exempt organizations supporting political candidates.

    The repeal of the “Johnson amendment” is being written into tax legislation developed in the House of Representatives, according to aides. President Trump has vowed to “totally destroy” the provision at the behest of evangelical Christians who helped elect him.

    The inclusion of the repeal in broader tax legislation could bolster its chances. A stand-alone bill would almost certainly face a filibuster in the Senate, where opponents fear the measure would effectively turn churches into super PACS.
    Why can’t the Senate just filibuster the overall bill anyway? Thanks to the reconciliation track opened up for tax reform at the beginning of the session, the tax reform package won’t be subject to the filibuster, as long as it reduces the overall deficit. Since repealing the Johnson Amendment isn’t likely to impact revenue — and might be a small cost-saver in terms of enforcement — its addition won’t threaten the bill’s reconciliation status. If Republicans and Trump want to eke this through the Senate, the tax reform package is the platform to use.

    Should we want to eke this through, though? Contributions to churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations are tax-deductible in a way that other political contributions aren’t, and churches have much less robust reporting requirements to the IRS on top of that for First Amendment reasons. It’s not too difficult to see where this could lead; “churches” would pop up like weeds after a spring rain to funnel cash for electoral efforts without the oversight in place now. To offer up one hypothetical, would conservatives want to see a thousand “First Church of Clinton” locations open for business between now and 2020, especially given the opacity of the Clinton Foundation’s finances?”


  3. Interesting.


    “If you’re searching for a job, the odds of finding one may depend on your gender.

    Overall, occupations that are more than 80% female are projected to grow at nearly twice the rate of jobs that are at least 60% male between 2014 and 2024, according to research out this week from the jobs site Indeed and its chief economist, Jed Kolko. The site researched Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that many are jobs that are traditionally dominated by women — including occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants and nurse practitioners — are growing at the fastest rate. They will grow at about a 40% rate, compared to an overall rate of 6.5% for all jobs. In fact, all of the fastest-growing jobs for women were healthcare-related.

    Among male-dominated jobs, some are growing faster than others. Indeed tried to find out which traditionally male jobs will grow and found that ambulance drivers and attendants came out on top, with 33% employment growth expected from 2014 to 2024. They were followed by personal finance advisers, with 29.6% growth expected during the same period, followed by web developers (26.6%), emergency medical technicians and paramedics (24%) and computer and informational research scientists (20.9%).

    At the same time, manufacturing and agriculture, which have traditionally employed more men than women, are projected to lose jobs in the next decade. The BLS projects the U.S. will lose about 282,000 production jobs between 2014 and 2024, or 3% of all production-related jobs. There will also be a dip of about 6%, or 47,500 jobs, in agriculture between 2014 and 2024, BLS predicts. Some traditionally female-dominated jobs are also shrinking: Telephone operators, switchboard operators and sewing machine operators are expected to fall by around 43%, 33% and 27% respectively between 2014 and 2024.”


  4. It is somewhat amazing that our economy isn’t in worse shape. Consider:

    1. Because of government distortion, our healthcare costs are almost twice as much as any other nation. For three decades this has been the primary reason that businesses aren’t created here, don’t expand here and move jobs overseas: Businesses can’t afford to pay for healthcare for their employees.

    2. Our lending system is completely distorted by government. Most of us know good businesses that are having trouble getting loans to expand. I suspect all of us know college kids who easily borrow money (student loans) to buy clothes and go on vacations.

    3. Our education system has become bifurcated twice:
    A. The high school kids in the AP classes are being prepared for college and productive jobs. The poor kids in the regular classes leave high school with the knowledge and skills we had as 6th graders.
    B. College kids who study engineering, science, finance and other practical subjects are headed for good jobs. The ones in sociology, women’s studies, black studies and other nests of liberalism are destined to be bartenders with huge student loan debt.

    The good news is that Trump (unlike Clinton and Obama) has advisers who have some understanding of these matters. We will see if any reforms can be made. If I had to bet, I would say that Trump’s childish behavior will lead to big Democratic wins in 2018. See what happened in 1974. A group of Bernie Sanders types in Congress should then be able to deliver the knockout punch to the American economy.


  5. Tychicus, When the little New England boy came to West Texas, it was too late to turn him into a conservative, but at least we taught him how to talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When even UCBerkeley engineering graduates have trouble finding jobs in Silicon Vallley– as has been true the last at least six years–you know there are other issues at work.

    At least in the Bay Area and at Disney– those visas . . .

    Interesting stats, AJ.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It wasn’t the purpose of this article (which does have other interesting info in it), but this line on moving away from extended family said well something I’d been trying to say: “family” is more than just a husband and wife and their children, and ignoring that has been a white-American weakness. I’m happy to see a bit of a correction of that.

    “If men and women seeking comfort and independence move away from (extended) family, why is it surprising that people within the nuclear family eventually began distancing themselves from one another: mothers from fathers, fathers from children, and children from parents.”
    from http://thefederalist.com/2016/09/26/choosing-stay-home-sustainable-women/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know that complacency & contentment are two different things, but I also think that one can be mistaken for the other. One’s supposed complacency could be contentment, & another’s contentment could be complacency.

    How do we know within ourselves which is which?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Housing prices are a big reason people can’t move to where the jobs are in my neck of the woods. The prices keep going up, and people keep wondering when the bubble will burst, but it hasn’t. That is partly because wealthy people from offshore (i.e. China) are buying houses, sometimes as investments, sometimes because their child is going to school here – their ability to outbid is making the selling price disappear from the price range of actual residents of the province. As an example, one of my cousins owned a house in Ottawa [while Ottawa is technically in Southern Ontario, it is not part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)] and sold it for just under a half million, moved to Toronto for work, and bought a house of the same size and same kind of property for three quarters of a million (and that was dirt cheap for a house in Toronto). My second sibling and her family have to live in an area that is really heating up as regards real estate, and they couldn’t find a two bedroom apartment to rent for under twelve hundred a month – at one time, if rents were that high, people could just figure a mortgage payment would be the same or cheaper and get together a down payment for a house, but with housing going for an average of half a million, that is no longer possible.

    The Real @7:16, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent piece Michelle.

    And such a story would have been front and center, where it deserves to be, had these only been Republicans. But alas, today’s media isn’t interested in investigating block buster stories that make Dems look bad……..


  11. Its neither contentment nor complacency that prevents movement — economics prevent movement, housing values especially where I live will often dictate that people stay put. Family ties, lack of health care portability, etc are also to blame. And the general feeling of fear as opposed to optimism conditions people to stay where they are. And yes incomes have been stagnating since the Reagan era but leftist have been saying that since the Reagan era finished.

    Unskilled “male” occupations are obsolete — men who wish to be blue collar need to learn a trade or skill. Just showing up at a factory door is an outdated job hunting strategy. Meanwhile “female” unskilled occupations will continue in demand as the baby boomers age and need caregivers. As females begin to outpace men in jobs and income, some will see it as some feminists or left wing plot rather its simple demographics and the free market. Job hunting tip for young men not going to university become a practical nurse, personal support worker, etc Once men get past the gender stereotypes there are good well paying (for the amount of education needed) jobs available. In my own profession, the decline of male elementary teachers has led to school boards practising affirmative action for men

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Cheryl, Your article made me think about the historical migrations of my family. When the Weavers moved from South Carolina to Alabama and from Alabama to Texas, it wasn’t just a nuclear family. Several families who were friends and distant relatives moved together. I think this is like what happened when many Southern black families moved to Northern cities to work in auto and other industrial plants a century ago.

    Recently, single nuclear families in our family have moved over 1000 miles so the Dads could design military transports, teach Carolinians to use Mexicans in the construction of homes, or help Reagan save the country. In each case the women (who were stay-at-home Moms) kept the ties with our Texas relatives:
    A. We always visited our Texas relatives for at least a week in the summer and a week at Christmas.
    B. We exchanged birthday gifts with Texas relatives and they would send us Care Packages of tortillas, hot sauce, etc.
    C. Various Texas relatives would travel to see us on a regular basis and we got letters from Texas at least twice a week.

    There were two other constants:
    1. We immediately joined The First Baptist Church of Smyrna or Irmo, etc. The kids at church became our friends and their mothers became the friends of our mothers.
    2. Like the Jews in Babylon, we always knew we would be going back to Texas. We still thought of ourselves as Texans and wanted our kids to marry Texans and live in Texas.


  13. ricky — 8:11
    1. Despite being philosophically against universal health care, many multi national corporations see the advantages. About 20 years ago, labour conditions were roughly equal between Michigan and Ontario, however, GM choose to invest in Ontario and for awhile Ontario was the leading auto manufacturer in North American (currency fluctuations changed that). GM openly admitted the high price of health insurance vs universal health care was the reason they invested in Ontario (and this was long before ACA). The high prices in US health care result from indecisive action and corporate influence in the legislature. Instead of private-public partnerships which are highly corruptible just go public.

    2. The lending system is distorted by both the bankers and the government and given the amount of influence financiers have in the present administration, its not going to change. Student loans are backed up by the gov’t and not discharged by bankruptcy. Unless you are willing to leave the country for 5-10 years, they’re impossible to escape. (I’ve had a few friends do exactly that; Asia and Eastern Europe were good places to hide in the 90s). The present banking establishment is lazy and scared of any risk, they want the gov’t to take the risk and they take the reward. Socialism for the bankers, capitalism for the rest of us.

    3. Our education system has never been better (at least here in Ontario and probably the rest of Canada). However, there is a significant difference in high school between the academic and non-academic students. Unlike the Europeans, North American jurisdictions don’t invest heavily enough in the non-academic stream and this is slowly becoming a serious issue. Both a lack of skill and a lack of knowledge in the non-academic stream has led to an expansion of “lumpen proletariat” and is partially to blame for a decline in the middle class both in numbers and values. And we now see the result of this increase number of “lumpen proles” in politics with Trump and in culture with really bad reality television (as aside; even pop culture has diverged the lumpen proles watch Storage Wars, Ice Road Truckers, etc while the middle class has the money to watch HBO and Netflix)

    4. I agree that the mid-terms will be punishing for the Republicans. The recent Kansas election is interesting; the Democrat party leadership hardly spent any money there but leftist groups, websites, and pro-Sanders groups donated money to a left of centre candidate. He managed narrow the margin of victory to only 7%. The Democrat party traditionally ignores districts which they feel they have been gerrymandered out but the left wing activists are filling in the gap and nominating people the Democratic party wouldn’t nominate in their “safe” seats. You may be right then an influx of Sanders types will be in Congress in 2018. Hopefully they will be in time to save it from Goldman Sachs and the Trump admin.


  14. Kim — as soon as I read AJ’s piece on allowing churches more political involvement, I thought there goes the tax-exempt status. The Republicans are opening a can of worms if they want to change the rules.

    Michelle — Obviously there is/was systemic bias in the IRS against tea party type organizations. I doubt however there was a deliberate attempt to create chaos nor a deliberate direction from the White House. Bureaucracies tend to favour centrist political parties in every jurisdiction in the western world and they tend to favour “their own” that is people middle aged, multi-cultural, university educated and urban/suburban residents. When older white rural people form political advocacy groups, the bureaucracies are naturally biased and will take a second look. Its really not much different then the different reactions an urban black youth will received as compared to a middle age white person — unconscious but systemic bias.

    And AJ, the reason the IRS issue no longer gets a look from news organizations — its old news and its boring. When Trumps is bombing or uttering threats against Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea, a five-ten year IRS scandal will get buried. Tomahawk missiles and a MOAB make better television than bureaucrats shuffling paper.


  15. HRW, My knowledge of Marxist theory is pretty weak, so you sent me to Wikipedia:


    All things considered, I think your “lumpen proletariat” sounds as harsh as my “Trumpkin”.

    I have been trying to determine why it is that I detest Trump so much. I think it has to do with what you said in Paragraph 3 @ 8:11. Trump, with his vulgarity, ignorance and amorality almost perfectly represents modern American culture. If I detest modern American art, movies, books, music, etc., it follows that I must detest Trump.


  16. After a brief hiatus, Kevin D. Williamson is back on Twitter:

    Liked by 2 people

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