Category 6. Various Issues

Iceberg in Sight

While I have been – and remain – broadly supportive of most of President Trump’s official acts thus far, there is at least one respect in which it looks to me as if history may come to see his presidency as a disaster. (Ok, maybe two, but I’ll leave a discussion of Trump’s mercantilist instincts for another day). The likely consequences of Trump’s continuing down the road I will describe herein are so dire that all his other achievements and failures will be seen as irrelevancies, and the acrimonious debates about them as unhelpful sideshows.

In past years, I repeatedly took President Obama to task for having had a devil-may-care attitude about the growth in federal spending on his watch...

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An Expensive Win

By amending the tax code, President Trump almost certainly cost me a mid-sized fortune. I admire him for it.

Four and a half years ago, I wrote a long post on the horror show that is our tax code. In it, I made the following observation:

“Three gigantic ‘sacred cow’ federal deductions that particularly need to be reconsidered are: state and local taxes, interest on home mortgages and charitable gifts. In a sense, all three represent subsidies for high-income people (often resident in high-tax states) at the expense of people in lower tax states...

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Technology, Privacy and Freedom

Not long ago, the Beloved and I took a three-day trip to visit our older son and daughter-in-law in New Orleans. We flew from LaGuardia.

As we have long been accustomed to doing when leaving for short trips, we drove to the airport rather than use a taxi or car service. Big mistake: we had forgotten that the enormous old parking garage near the main terminal has been temporarily torn down as part of rebuilding the airport.

We were directed to park in a remote area that I had never seen before. As we awaited the bus that would take us through the construction mess and back to the terminal, I noticed a sign announcing that cash would not be accepted for payment on retrieving our car.

I wondered out loud to the Beloved if it was illegal for the Port Authority to refuse to accept cash: it say...

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Rethinking Credentialization

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton want to make college “free” (i.e., paid-for by taxpayers) for many, or even all, Americans. In other words, they want a college education to become an entitlement – along with medical care, food and, soon enough, housing; these people really like giving away other people’s money.

I have a different idea: for most people, we ought to make college (as we now know it, anyway: hugely expensive, four-year residential programs where many if not most students take courses that teach them few, if any, usable skills) obsolete. Before we get to my idea, though, I would like to (again – the first time was here, in 2013) quote Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit on the topic of government subsidies of higher education:

“The government decides to try to increase the middle ...

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Environmental Elitists

Today’s ecological movement is profoundly elitist. It’s not about conservation anymore, or clean air; it’s about power over you and me.

Let’s start by considering the opposition to fracking:

The hydraulic fracturing revolution has been hugely beneficial to our country (well, apart from the fact that it arguably, and if so ironically, provided the economic boost that enabled our anti-fossil-fuels – and otherwise feckless – President to be reelected), but environmentalists, crony capitalists and some of our nation’s most determined enemies are fighting it tooth and claw. Even Andy Cuomo won’t allow it; he wants to run for President someday, and he knows who gives to Democrats.

Over the last five or six years, as fracking technology has allowed lots of old wells to come back on line,...

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Still-Evolving Thoughts on Drug Policy

Note to Readers: Circe’s Potions, Crimes and Punishment and Still-Evolving Thoughts on Drug Policy are presented below; all three are about drug policy. Read in the order in which they were written, they provide a window into my changing perspective on an exceptionally difficult set of issues.

Circe’s Potions (originally posted in January, 2013)

America has a serious drug problem, but government can’t solve it.

Astonishing numbers of Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Who among us hasn’t seen an addict or alcoholic burn off all of his relationships with other people and gradually lose himself in the process? I know many people, young and old, who have alcohol problems; probably the reason that I know fewer who have drug problems is that such problems are often better hidden...

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Why So Many Leading Democrats Hate Charter Schools

The moral bankruptcy of much of the Democratic Party’s leadership is nowhere more obvious than in their aversion to charter schools. Democrats hold themselves out as representing the little guy, but many do lasting damage to the very people in whose interests they claim to speak by attempting to strangle the charter school movement. The reason many office-holding Democrats oppose charter schools is quite simple: such schools may be in the best interests of children who would otherwise be stuck in abysmal unionized (and effectively union-run) public  schools, but they are manifestly disadvantageous to the teachers’ unions that are the Democrats’ most important contributors and volunteers.

When Waiting for Superman was released to considerable acclaim by Davis Guggenheim, who had also...

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Terrorism and Radical Islam

One of my sisters lives in the Back Bay, quite close to the marathon’s finish line. She and my mother, who still lives in the suburbs near where we grew up, were discomfited by last week’s attacks. My sister hurt her knee in a fall during the lockdown and was unable to see a doctor for several days because she wasn’t allowed to leave her home. My mother spent those days dwelling on the many times in years past that she had watched one of my brothers participate in the race, and worrying about my sister’s knee; I spoke with her two nights ago and she still sounded tired and sad. The attack on innocents at the marathon struck deep chords in my family, in Boston, and in the nation as a whole.

In a sense, the terrorists chose their target very well...

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