Monday, July 16, 2012


I will have J fix my HTML later.  [He fixed it!]

J has now moved from humming to singing, usually along with something on the radio or the stereo, but sometimes just something in his head.  By next week he should be doing "The Ode to Joy" or the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.  We count down the days to his retirement.  (I, on the other hand, will not ruin the event by attempting to sing.)  And J would be appalled that I am presently listening to several versions of "Hallelujah," and not the Handel one.  So far, Rufus Wainwright has the best one.

The weather was mostly abominable last week--97 degrees was considered "not too bad"--but the fog rolled into San Francisco Bay and we're supposed to have tolerable weather for the next couple of days.  I am going to feed my poor plants, as they've suffered neglect and are becoming pale and wan.

I could write on the general stupidity out there, but there's so much of it that I can't get a handle on all of it.  We have David Brooks writing a paean to the Protestant Elite, as opposed to the Modern Meritorious Elite. The PE had his favorite virtues and didn't crash the world economy.  Uh, but weren't the PE in charge when we had the Great Depression?

Then there's the continuing cretinism of Arthur Laffer, who ruined my Sunday by arguing in my local newspaper that California should have a flat tax of 6%.  He notes that Governor Jerry Brown argued for same when he ran for President in the early '90s.  But, as I recall, Brown also argued that tenants should get to deduct a portion of their rent from their taxable income which, as a number of economists noted at the time, would mean that the federal government's coffers would be severely depleted.  And thus they pointed out so clearly the extent to which government at all levels depends on excess taxation of tenants.  (And in California it's worse than in other states, as those with higher incomes are much more likely to rent.)

Moving right along to the Romney campaign, we have confirmation, not so much of stupidity, but of the cluelessness of his supporters.  To wit:

I don’t think the common person is getting it. Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them. My college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated; two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.

Oh, milady, we understand exactly how this system works.  And we understand the impact.  We're quite good at it, in fact.  In my younger years I was always interested in the election analysis published by the New York Times.  Over several election cycles I watched how people voted on the California propositions.  And with the exception of Proposition 22 (the Knight Initiative, banning gay marriage), I noted entirely consistent results:

  1. People voted from left to right.  As they got richer, they voted more conservatively.
  2. The most liberal were high school graduates and people with advanced degrees--around 70-30 on every issue.
  3. The most conservative voters were those who had some post-high school education, but not a B.A., followed by those with a B.A., followed by the groups in (2) above.

What comes from this is that income and education are linked, but not entirely so, and that people are probably voting on the basis of interest.  Many of those with advanced degrees work for the government, which sops up legions of the overeducated.

And Obama did get this right (and so did Paul Krugman): 

When some people question why I would challenge his Bain record, the point I’ve made there in the past is, if you’re a head of a large private equity firm or hedge fund, your job is to make money. It’s not to create jobs. It’s not even to create a successful business – it’s to make sure that you’re maximizing returns for your investor. Now that’s appropriate. That’s part of the American way. That’s part of the system. But that doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to think about the economy as a whole, because as president, my job is to think about the workers. My job is to think about communities, where jobs have been outsourced.

We only wish that he had been thinking about these things, instead of how to please the denizens of Wall Street.

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