Affirmative Action for the Ugly

Once again, The Onion is eclipsed by the New York Times. Daniel S. Hamermesh questions whether certain EEO actions might be reasonable based on ugliness.
...why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?

We could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly.

For purposes of administering a law, we surely could agree on who is truly ugly, perhaps the worst-looking 1 or 2 percent of the population.
This is a powerful example of the conflict of visions that exists between conservatives and liberals. One side seeks to impose equivalence via government coercion and lawsuits and the other does not. One side says the government should be the arbiter of morality while the other does not. One thinks in terms of groups while the other does not.

An important issue was noted near the end of the article. Often, the left does not acknowledge that incentives matter. In the case of taxation, they often dismiss the chilling effect that higher tax rates can have on investment and economic growth. They often poo-poo the idea that the wealthy may decide to change their behaviors if tax rates are to high. But in his article about ugly people, Hamermesh notes that incentives certainly do matter:
There are other possible objections. “Ugliness” is not a personal trait that many people choose to embrace; those whom we classify as protected might not be willing to admit that they are ugly. But with the chance of obtaining extra pay and promotions amounting to $230,000 in lost lifetime earnings, there’s a large enough incentive to do so.
Hamermesh feels that the ugly among us will embrace their ugliness if lured out with the prospect of financial remuneration. If true, those on the left should certainly concede that confiscatory tax rates, 90 weeks of guaranteed income in form of unemployment insurance and paying no taxes at all (as about 50% of Americans do) may in some way affect the decisions that people make.

For those who still possess some modicum of shame, they would likely not be able to expose themselves to the crushing humiliation of asking for a handout because of their uncomeliness. Their self-esteem is likely fragile as it is and having to be judged by some pulchritude panel may be more than they can bear. But those without shame would be lining up with their hands fully extended to exploit this program of good intent. I suppose those with face tattoos, meth mouth and other self-imposed disfigurements could benefit from this as well.

But Hamermesh places a low percentage on who would be eligible - one or two percent. So the competition would be steep for those racing to the bottom of the beauty pool. And given the track record of other public programs, we can all sleep well knowing this number would likely not grow and costs would be contained. For those of you enamored with large government programs, that was a joke.

As many ideas and programs of this nature, it stages - whether intentionally or not - a race to the bottom. It does not elevate people. It creates a culture where we are told to gather based on our shared grievances.


Ignore the Right

Al Gore has taken a page from John Kerry by recommending that we just ignore the dummies on the right.

But there is nothing new here. These are the folks who use dismissal as a form of argumentation. Dismissing the other's arguments as stupid, ignorant, mean spirited, war-mongering, selfish, greedy, hateful, nativist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, bigoted, intolerant, fascist, misogynistic and hypocritical is thought to be sophisticated. And sophisticates are not required to have meaningful and thought-provoking discussions with the preceding list of reprobates. One just dismisses them with a pejorative and moves on.

The knuckle draggers who have the temerity to question the enlightened are likened to holocaust deniers or racists and dismissed as ignorant fools. There is no need to discuss details with a lout. Those that disagree with the stated opinion are to be marginalized. Only the enlightened position should be pondered. There is no room or need for debate because the issue has been settled.
You win the conversation by disallowing a conversation in the first place.

The insidious part of this is the unspoken accusation that must be accepted in order to feel comfortable dismissing those you disagree with as holocaust deniers. The metaphor suggests that anthropogenic global warming skeptics have taken up a position that is so extreme and evil that it is comparable to taking up the case for Hitler's final solution. So just as one does not need to have a serious conversation with a Hitler sympathizer, so one should not even dignify the opinions of those who disagree with the popular ethos.

This subtle, yet effective, debating technique questions the motives of those on the other side, and then sets up a caricature, rather than the actual argument, to be attacked. Can anyone say straw man?

Another recent example of Al Gore's "I don't debate evil idiots" non-debating technique occurred when John Kerry admonished the press for even covering ideas he doesn't agree with. Apparently freedom of the press is not to be made available to those with opposing views. So now, not only should opposition ideas not be debated, they should not even be covered by the press lest these dark, frenetic, maniacal ideas be seen by the great unwashed and believed. (Pertinent comments begin at about 2:13)

And if that weren't enough, Paul Krugman informs that Republicans are anti-science and anti-knowledge. In his article he exposes Republicans who wonder if money might influence some scientists as "vile." I suppose Mr. Krugman would use this adjective for this observation:
To see what’s really going on, follow the money. Wall Street used to favor Democrats, perhaps because financiers tend to be liberal on social issues. But greed trumps gay rights, and financial industry contributions swung sharply toward the Republicans in the 2010 elections. Apparently Wall Street, unlike the voters, had no trouble divining the party’s real intentions.
Well, maybe not. These are his words from May 1, 2011. (link) Either he believes that it is okay for Democrats to question the effect that filthy lucre has on Republicans while labeling that questioning as "vile" when turned to Democrats, or he changed his mind during the four months that transpired between these articles. Or maybe he is a partisan "charlatan" or a "crank"?

But Krugman has provided a service. He has packed so many liberal talking points into one article that it saves the reader a lot of time. Instead of reading a tome of articles to discover how wonderful Democrats are and how mean and ugly Republicans are, the reader can just review the highlights in this one article:

  • Republicans can never have honorable motives while Democrats do.
  • Republicans are malevolent and manipulate to get their way while Democrats present truth.
  • Republicans are against facts, science and common sense while Democrats have all three.
  • Republicans often, if not always, are moved by greed and corruption while Democrats aren't.
  • When Republicans dare to wonder whether money may have motivated the manipulation of data in favor of global warming theories, it is vile. When Democrats opine about greed and avarice driving much of the decision-making of Republicans, it is revered.
  • When Republicans reference experts who question anthropogenic global warming, it is a crazy conspiracy theory. When Democrats find experts who agree with their position, it is merely consensus.
  • When Republicans judge their candidates based on their positions on specific issues it is willful ignorance becoming a litmus test for candidates. When Democrats do this it is intelligent vetting.
  • When Republican candidates have similar beliefs as their constituency it is the result of cynical power mongers pandering to the ignorant. When Democrat candidates share the beliefs of their constituency it is the beautiful symbiosis of intelligent voters and their caring public servants.
  • Republican economic ideas are the gut feelings of charlatans and cranks while Democrat economic ideas are the hard thinking about matters economic.

And this from those who are often self-congratulatory about their penchant for nuance.



NPR's Robert Siegel asked this of former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond (link):
Some people read into the Tea Party's almost neuralgic reaction to government spending, a sense that white people figure black people benefit disproportionately from federal programs. Do you suspect a racial subtext to that whole argument?
Of course, Mr. Bond felt that there is a racial subtext as well as envy animating the Tea Party.

Is it possible that the Tea Party just has different ideas about deficit spending?

Could it be that the race of the recipients doesn't matter; the Tea Partiers just want smaller government and lower spending?

Is it possible that the Tea Party supporters don't see somebody else is getting a government benefit and therefore feel envious and want some too, but rather, don't want it for themselves and think the current levels of spending are fiscally irresponsible?

Is it possible that a black person could agree with the Tea Party and think some reductions in spending are in order?

Might it be that the desire for smaller and limited government is a thought unto itself and entirely unrelated to race?

Doesn't this argue that if there were no blacks in the United States that the Tea Party would feel it is OK to borrow and spend trillions? That it is only because of the racial subtext that Tea Partiers think excessive spending is wrong?

Bad Billionaire

If a man has enough personal wealth that he is giving away $1.7 billion per year, why is he not considered a greedy corporate bastard? Why is he not greedy for profit at any cost, with no consideration for the consequences of his actions? Why has he not disowned his people and country in favor of globalization? Why is he not considered obscene and psychopathic? Why is his work not manipulation of markets? Why is he not thought to evade his tax responsibility while putting the burdens of his theft on humanity - especially since he repeatedly tells the world he does not pay enough in taxes?

These are all things said about other corporations and CEOs.


Wealth Decency

If economics shape moral behavior and poverty causes crime, shouldn't wealth create ever increasing decent behavior? If so, why are the rich so hated?

How are decent people in the poorest corners of Ethiopia or India explained? Who runs the orphanages in these places?

Clearly values are more important than one's economic status.


Soak the Rich

The politics of envy clouds the judgment of the left. Because they are looking for a silver bullet to fix budgetary problems, they seek to push the debt problem onto the backs of the rich. As Bill Whittle demonstrates in his YouTube video, Eat The Rich, all of the earnings and wealth of the rich could be confiscated and it would not come close to solving the problem.

Much of the politics of envy is driven by a blind desire to take from those who have more and redistribute it to those who have less. As the maxim goes, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

I suppose this could be chalked up to noble intent, but there are glaring examples where the left reveals that this might not be a deeply held belief. Because when their ideas are applied to them, they immediately rebel against it.

When is it applied to them? Healthcare.

There are many reasons that the cost of healthcare is high in America, and cost transfer is certainly a large contributor. The burden that caring for illegal aliens imposes on the system is just one example of this transfer and why costs and insurance premiums are higher than they should be.

Reimporting drugs is another slight of hand that the left likes to recommend when asked for cost cutting measures. This article by Mac Johnson sums up why it is a bad idea. But drug reimportation is a great example of where the left bristles against their own policy prescriptions.

When compared to the rest of the world, America is the rich. America subsidizes the cost of medicines for the rest of the world. This is a wonderful global expression of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." The left should be championing the higher cost of prescription drugs as an example of good redistributive policy.

But when the shoe is on the other foot and those who champion eating the rich are what's for dinner, they cry and moan and seek any means possible to avoid being eaten. Apparently what's good for the goose is not good for the gander.

Yet another example of the left's lack of self-awareness.


Philly Phlash Mobs


One side is cheerleading for personal responsibility and values that transcend race.

Deneen Borelli, a fellow with the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives:
Mayor Nutter deserves credit for stepping up and being a leader. Nutter is doing what Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, President Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus have thus far failed to do by speaking out against the epidemic of violent 'flash mobs' and rampant, random crime and violence.

The other side blames it all on economics and says that "Nutter's strong language enables white society in America to downplay poverty as the root cause of the black community's problems."

Frederick Harris, Columbia University political scientist:
If this discourse was led by Ronald Reagan, for instance, people would call him on his racism, but now that you have a black face to these explanations it gives it legitimacy.

Apparently Mr. Harris believes it is racist to ask the poor to act decent. And prior to a "black face" espousing these ideas, they were illegitimate? There is no legitimacy to asking young men (no matter what their race) to act responsibly and not bring thuggery to the public square?

If Mayor Nutter's "language enables white society to downplay poverty," does that mean any other explanation is not legitimate? Is suggesting that values are more important with respect to behavior than what one earns on a paycheck crazy talk that can only attain fraudulent stature when enabled by a black man? Only poverty can explain criminal behavior?

Don't we have the same expectation of decency from all other poor groups no matter what the race? Don't we rightly expect poor Hispanics, Japanese, Ethiopians, Latvians, Australians and Jews to act with civility? Or should certain races be excused of their behavior? Is there something unique about the black person's genetics or psyche that prevents them from adopting respectful values? Is Mr. Harris suggesting that it is only poor blacks who cannot embrace personal responsibility and eschew violent behavior?

What does he mean when Former Mayor John Street says that Mayor Nutter is "not a black mayor ... just a mayor with dark skin." Is there a genetically programmed way for a black man to think? How does believing in personal accountability disqualify one from being a member of a race? Is there something about dark skin pigmentation that compels one to excuse criminal behavior or to adopt certain beliefs?

Isn't what Messrs. Harris and Street are saying racist?

Food Stamps are a Stimulus

The Obama administration sees food stamps as an economy booster.

According to the demand side hypothesis, infusions of money from the tax coffers stimulates the economy by creating demand for goods and services where it did not previously exist. In fact, the effect of these infusions is said to create a multiplier effect – each dollar spent has better than a one dollar effect on the economy. ($1.84 according to Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.)

The argument for a demand side economy goes something like this:

Capitalism is driven by demand not by supply; supply just responds to demand. If that demand is not there, investors will be reluctant to fund a project, no matter how innovative it may be, choosing instead to put their money in investments that offer lower return but are safer and more secure. Supply side largesse for the rich might not go into capital formation, but might simply make the rich richer. While investment capital is extremely important in getting an innovative process started, it is consumer demand, not supply, that drives the process and keeps it going.

This Seattle Post Intelligencer article highlights a typical (in that they stimulate the supply side of anything 'green') infusion of money by demand siders.

  • The question that immediately comes to mind is, why are those that insist that government spending should enter the economy on the demand side (such as food stamps) spending $20 million (or any amount) on the supply side? Doesn't this violate the very nature of demand side philosophy?
  • If, as noted in the demand side description above, there is little or no demand (3 homes weatherized seems like low demand), won't the money just wind up in lower return, secure hideaways?
  • Why is this stimulus spending not simply making the rich richer in accordance with demand side philosophy?
  • From a Keynesian perspective, wouldn't this money have been better spent by giving out vouchers earmarked for weatherization upgrades to homeowners and let the supply side respond in accordance with the demand side philosophy?


Notable Quotable

There are two kinds of people. Those willing to work and those willing to let them.


Getting Along

This is, I think, a 50/50 country and we don't quite know which side is going to come out on the 51/49 side when we run the numbers. And what's problematic, I think, is that we are a house divided – to resurrect Lincoln – we are a house divided.

But we are divided about the nature of the state itself, which is the most fundamental division of all. Its not really like a division between rich and poor, or between black and white. Americans are divided on the kind of republic the United States should be. Whether it is still a republic of limited government and a self-reliant citizenry that is free to live lives to their fullest potential. Or whether it is just a kind of larger version of Sweden.

...But the problem is there's not a lot of compromise between those two visions.

...Those are two incompatible visions of America.

Mark Steyn on the Mike Rosen Show, 12 Aug 2011, H2, 5:56


Uh. May. Zing.

Alan Greenspan had this to say on Meet the Press when asked "Are U.S. treasury bonds still safe to invest in?":
This is not an issue of credit rating, the United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So, there is zero probability of default.



John Kerry thinks that certain elected representatives should be censored. Is this the compromise that the President is talking about?
[2:13] And I have to tell you, I say this to you politely. The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual.

It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do. And the problem is everything is put into this tit-for-tat equal battle and America is losing any sense of what’s real, of who’s accountable, of who is not accountable, of who’s real, who isn’t, who’s serious, who isn’t?

Video Skip to 2:13 if you just want to see the quote above.

Destroy the Public Space

Nancy Pelosi on what Republicans want:
This is about destoying. Isn't about reducing the deficit. It's about destroying the public space. It's about destroying public in... federal involvement in education. It’s about clean air, clean water, food safety, public safety. You name it, they’re there to diminish it. Destroy it.

The voting in the House of Representatives went as follows:

Voting yes were 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans.

Voting no were 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans.

Why isn't Rep. Pelosi accusing the half of the House Democrats that voted against the bill with the same destructive outcomes? No matter what the motive of the Democrats who did not vote for it, the result would have been the same. So are the 95 Democrats that did not vote for the bill against clean water, food safety and public safety? Can they be said to have voted in favor of default?


Cheap Labor

Is the myth of cheap labor just transferring the costs to the public at large? Is it a case of pay me now or pay me later? That is, if we paid more for the goods and services that are produced with "cheap labor" now, could we avoid much of the socialized spending later?

Dick Lamm has a good article on this here. He articulately and thoughtfully examines some of the cost multipliers of "cheap" illegal labor. Its an oldie but a goodie.
Defenders of illegal immigrants call any and all concern about this issue “racist,” and attempt to take the issue completely off the table.
To continue to tolerate this practice is not only a legal issue; it is morally unfair to those waiting to come legally.
But that is not to say it is “cheap labor”. It may be “cheap” to those who pay the wages, but for the rest of us it is clearly “subsidized” labor, as we taxpayers pick up the costs of education, health, and other municipal costs imposed by this workforce.
The very people that liberals profess to speak for and care about pay the price in lost and suppressed wages while employers get the benefits of reduced wages.
The health care cost of this illegal workforce is also significant and also subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.
I have been fighting all my life for universal health care, but we can't have “the best health care system in the world” combined with Swiss cheese borders.
Ironically, the price of compassion is restriction.
By tolerating illegal immigration are we laying the foundations for a new Hispanic underclass?
You may have seen emails circulating around the internet that tick off the hidden costs to cheap labor. Some of the hidden costs to cheap labor include:

  • Earned Income Credit
  • Section 8 housing
  • Food Stamps
  • School breakfast and lunch
  • Bilingual education
  • Energy bill assistance
  • Emergency room healthcare
  • No car/life/homeowner's insurance
  • SSI
  • Medicare/Medicaid

Instead of paying for these items at the point of purchase in the form of higher prices for goods and services, these costs are paid through higher taxation. The costs will eventually be paid. But instead of paying them directly through the private transaction in a free market, they will be paid through a governmental income transfer.

If redistribution through taxation is the model one desires, then the status quo is an excellent way to achieve it.

Foreign Look at Debt Crisis

Der Spiegel article on the debt crisis.

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:
What is happening in Washington is nothing less than a culture war. On President Obama's side are supporters of a national concept, like one known in Europe, namely that the state should take care of a certain amount of social equalizing, and if necessary, intervene with regulations. For his opposition, even Obama's idea of expanding health insurance coverage equals the birth of communist totalitarianism.

Anyone who raises taxes or increases the debt ceiling, and therefore unleashes the Leviathan of 'big government,' is, according to their logic, threatening the highest ideal that the American revolutionaries fought for: freedom. Those who do it will be pursued by these self-named patriots with virtually pathological hatred, even when the infrastructure or social benefits would profit from their undertakings. Illogical? Patriotism is possibly the only thing that many uncertain American citizens have left. The crisis has not only cost them their jobs; it has also threatened their country's hegemony. And a solution for none of these problems seems apparent.
The business daily Handelsblatt writes:
Obama .... will have a much harder time than in prior elections because he'd convinced his supporters that he would end the divide in America. But he's failed to prove that he can really achieve that. 'No, he can't' should be the conclusion of disappointed voters.
The Financial Times Deutschland writes:
The debt burden per person is, in the end, almost as high as in Greece.

Tea Party Terrorists

In her column wherein she encouraged a presidential primary for the Democrats because she is unhappy with President Obama being too far right, Froma Harrop also said this about the Tea Party:
The tea party Republicans have engaged in economic terrorism against the United States -- threatening to blow up the economy if they don't get what they want. And like the al-Qaida bombers, what they want is delusional: the dream of restoring some fantasy caliphate in which no one pays taxes...

Americans are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists...

That the Republican leadership couldn't control a small group of ignoramuses in its ranks has brought disgrace on their party. But oddly, Obama's passivity made it hard for responsible Republicans to control their destructive children.

Forget that she doesn't sound like she is happy with compromise and would just prefer that Republicans shut up and do it her way. This barrage of name-calling came from the person who is the president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers which has as one of its missions the Civility Project, that endeavors to improve the quality of political discourse.

But since the Vice President is doing it too, she probably feels entitled.

Notable Quotable

You don't write history to make people feel good about the group they are in. That's called lying.
Dennis Prager

Should it be more important to make people feel good about themselves than to tell the truth? What happened happened. History should tell the story of what actually happened. You can opine on it and deconstruct it later.


Satan Sandwich

When Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said that proposed legislation is "antithetical to what the great religions of the world teach," why is this not legislating morality? If Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann or any other Republican said that the legislation should impose religious values on the American people, wouldn't that be attacked as inappropriate?

Debt Ceiling Vote

Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said this about the vote:
I was angry about this vote because of the process, the process of bringing our country right up to a default and scaring seniors and making our active military worry they may not get a paycheck. In terms of the ultimate agreement, it's a strong fiscal plan. It goes out 10 years and puts a real framework on managing our expenses. I would have liked revenue as part of the plan, but that wasn't meant to be.
So who exactly was he mad at?

Not raising the debt limit does not necessarily mean a default. President Obama's Treasury Secretary would have to make that happen. (Sen. Pat Toomey's article on this.)

It was the President who was the one who threatened those on Social Security with withholding their checks.

And as for it being a "real framework on managing our expenses," apparently not so much:

Washington Times
U.S. debt shot up $239 billion on Tuesday — the largest one-day bump in history — as the government flexed the new borrowing room it earned in this week’s debt-limit increase deal.

That increase puts the government already remarkably close to the new debt limit of $14.694, which means one day’s new borrowing ate up 60 percent of the $400 billion in space Congress granted the president this week.



There is a lot of discussion about how the Tea Party Republicans are intransigent and are unwilling to compromise during the debt ceiling debate. Nanci Pelosi said that Democrats "were forced into something in order to raise the debt ceiling." Apparently they were reluctant to compromise too.

Of course people want as little compromise as possible. They have ideals, beliefs values and visions that differ. And to the extent that they compromise their beliefs they are sacrificing their values. (This isn't to say we shouldn't compromise. Just that compromise comes at a price.)

This is true for Democrats and Republicans. Democrats want to give up as little ground as possible just as Republicans do. Democrats are as unwilling to negotiate away their beliefs as Republicans. Would Rep. Pelosi feel uncomfortable negotiating away key elements that she thought were vital and important? We know the answer because of her past record and acknowledging that there are "bitter pills" in the bill. But is she asking the other side to set aside their beliefs without putting up resistance?

Also, agreeing that it is a "Satan sandwich" indicates her lack of desire to vote for this bill and her desire to not have to compromise her beliefs.
It probably is, with some Satan fries on the side.
That's called compromise.

Notable Quotable

If there were a contest for the most misleading words used in politics, "poverty" should be one of the leading contenders for that title.

If government programs were confined to people who were genuinely poor in some meaningful sense, that would shrink the welfare state to a fraction of its current size.

People who say they want a government program because "I don't want to be a burden to my children" apparently think it is all right to be a burden to other people's children.