Being There?

The combination of arrogance and ignorance among darlings of the left can reach stunning levels, and in that respect none can match – though seemingly many try – the dizzying heights regularly achieved by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Just days after releasing a “Green New Deal” proposal under which the entire US economy would be reorganized in a time frame and manner that would have caused the late Pol Pot to envy her style, AOC, as she’s called, celebrated the cancellation of Amazon’s plan to build a secondary headquarters in Queens with a tweet excoriating Amazon’s “corporate greed” and its “worker exploitation.”

These are stock phrases for leftists; taken together, they translate loosely as “the characteristics of a private enterprise that hasn’t given in to my dema...

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About the Suburbs

In the immediate aftermath of WWI, commuter train lines were built reaching up into Westchester County. An area just outside the city’s limits that had been countryside became the town where, many decades later, the Beloved Spouse and I would raise our children and spend much of our lives. Within the space of a few years after what’s now our train line went in, the land was cut into quarter-acre and half-acre lots, thousands of houses were built and a suburb was born.

Initially, many of the homes were nearly identical. The house that we bought 32 years ago and lived in for our first ten years here has a twin just a block away. Other houses on the street also have twins a block away...

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Accusations of Racism

I have sometimes wondered, sitting in a church pew, how much Christian dogma the person in front of me actually believes. Does he or she believe in the virgin birth? The resurrection? That by believing we will attain eternal life?

We cannot see into each others’ hearts, nor can we ever really know for sure why people do what they do.

Invariably, as I think about the questions I’ve asked myself about my fellow congregants, I realize that I neither know nor particularly care whether or not they believe in the literal truth of these doctrines, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy that they’re there – I am.

***

Most accusations of racism today, prominently including the ones routinely leveled at our current president, are despicable and, all-too-often, successful a...

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System Failures

That international trade is strongly positive in its over-all effects is the strongly-held, consensus view among both economists generally and my social class in particular. I have no doubt that the economists’ perspective is correct, as far as it goes – meaning, that trade increases global wealth by making the best use of different nations’ comparative advantages – but it has nothing to say about those who lose out as a result of the improved efficiencies.

Global trade, like migrations and the constant, churning changes inherent to capitalism, disadvantages some while benefiting others. Creative destruction is the very engine of a free market...

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Coming to Love Trump

In the circles in which I travel, it is considered verboten to express any admiration for President Trump, so writing this post may lose me a friend or two. I hope not, but if that happens I will consider it sad evidence of my former friends’ intolerance.

As longtime readers of these posts know, the most recent presidential election was the first one since I began voting in 1976 in which I did not vote for the Republican candidate. I was so put off by President Trump’s personal shortcomings – and by some of his policy ideas – that I gave my vote to Gary Johnson.

I still have serious disagreements on policy with Trump – on which more later – but I have come to see some of his un-presidential antics as … useful...

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What We’re Not Talking About

The cage match over whether or not Congress will agree to fund President Trump’s $5.7bn request for a wall along parts of the border with Mexico continues. The latest move in this battle is that Congressional Democrats have offered $5.7bn to fund non-wall security enhancements; it’s not the money they’re worried about but the possibility that they might be seen as caving to the hated Trump. Meanwhile the president has offered a concession too – he’ll extend legal protections for the so-called dreamers for three years if Congress will just give him bragging rights for having delivered the wall he promised. So far: no deal. Apparently, each side cares far more about the politics of the issue than its substance, or than it does about other, far more important issues.

I thought I ...

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A Suggestion for the President

Apparently, it isn’t true that federal agencies are able to terminate any or all of their presently furloughed nonessential employees because they have been out for thirty days – they can only do that in the case of administratively planned furloughs, not as a result of “emergency furloughs” based – as at present – on lapses in Congressionally-approved funding. Even so, the Administration could use its ability to engage in such administratively-planned-furloughs-leading to-terminations to dramatically turn up the heat on House Democrats to fund the president’s plans for a wall.  

In spite of the fact that I am broadly pro-immigration in cases where people want to come here to become Americans – i.e...

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Generation Z – Back to Square One?

Two weeks ago, the Beloved Spouse and I rewarded ourselves for the considerable effort of having hosted a large family gathering over Christmas by slipping away for a week of relaxation and recreation in a much warmer place. Five of the seven days of our vacation were spent as part of a professionally managed group adventure featuring daily cycling, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and/or paddle-boarding. Beside us, there were eight other paying participants, mostly couples or parent/adult child pairs; in addition to the sporting adventures, we all stayed at the same two resorts and ate meals together. Everybody got along well and as far as I could tell, had a marvelous time.

Among the other participants were a retired bond trader of roughly my age and one of his adult sons, a graduate stu...

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The Business Stories, Reposted

Dear Readers: This extended post is a compilation of stories about business that were written as separate posts between November 25, 2018 and January 2, 2019. It is presented in the order in which the original posts were written, but I have added dates to the titles for those who wish to piece together the chronology of the meta story.

1. A Story – 2012 (This story has been permanently taken down).

2. Another Story – 1995

We already had signed a contract to buy the company – or maybe it was a letter of intent, I can’t remember. No great difference – it’s almost always possible to get out of a deal until the money changes hands.

A young salesman who worked for the company we intended to buy had asked to meet with the CEO with whom I, then a banker, was working; he sa...

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The Killer Apps

Sometimes our inventions change us.

Last night, the Beloved Spouse told me about a talk she had heard in which a neuroscientist said that she believes that gathering news and following social media on the internet, and even reading books on electronic devices, all have meaningfully different effects on our brains than reading old-fashioned newspapers and books. As we process information in new ways, our brains develop new muscles, if you will, and don’t develop other muscles.

This all sounded right to me: it is perfectly consistent with ideas about neuroplasticity that I had heard before – including the colorful example of a study of London cab drivers’ brains that showed that in the laborious and challenging act of memorizing the street map of London for their licenses, they had changed...

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