President Trump and His Personal Trade Deficit

The other day President Donald Trump tweeted, “The United States has an $800 billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our ‘very stupid’ trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more.”

If it is the case that we have been fools to engage in “one-sided” free trade with other countries, then Trump personally entered into a “very stupid” deal resulting in a huge personal trade deficit. (more…)

The Campus Vanguard on the “Road To Serfdom”

A movement is taking over America’s colleges and universities that rejects classical norms of reason, logic, and scholarship. This anti-intellectual trend is a road to totalitarianism.

What now passes for erudition in many liberal arts departments would not qualify as good scholarship using the proven tests of critical thinking. Worse, dissent is being shouted down, not debated. And many administrators support this trend making it, in effect, de facto campus policy.

This trend has all the hallmarks of societies that have gone totalitarian. (more…)

Montecito Paean

It happened here, not somewhere else. This was the shocking thing about Montecito’s tragedy. It’s easy to watch disasters unfolding elsewhere and you think, “Oh, those poor people”. We’ve lived in Montecito for 40 years so there isn’t a lot I haven’t seen on our South Coast. There have been fires and deluges and floods and wind, but no one was expecting these twin disasters. (more…)

Dear Ray Dalio: Wealth Inequality Is Not Our Biggest Issue

Ray Dalio, one of world’s richest men, recently published a think-piece on Linkedin entitled, “Our Biggest Economic, Social, and Political Issue” which, he writes, is wealth inequality: the disparity between the upper 40% and the bottom 60%. The media glommed on to this popular Progressive meme and it got a lot of attention because of his prominence.

Mr. Dalio runs the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. According to their website they “manage about $160 billion for approximately 350 of the largest and most sophisticated global institutional clients”. Forbes says Mr. Dalio is worth about $17 billion. By any measure he is one of the most successful investors in the world. (more…)

Money: A Semi Fictional Fable

We have forgotten what money is.

Money is easy to understand, but most people have no idea what it is. We all know that barter is an inefficient way to foster economic growth and money is a good thing for the economy. But money isn’t a piece of paper.

Here is a fable to illustrate this. (more…)

How Not To Teach Kids Math

I read a news article by a tenured university professor who asserted that the perception that whites are more math proficient than minorities perpetuates “white privilege” and discriminates against minorities. The professor alleged that whites have an “unearned privilege” because math skills such as algebra and geometry are generally associated with whites. She attributed the “so-called achievement gap” between minorities and white students as a product of implicit or explicit racism due to white privilege. The professor said, in effect, that just because someone is good at math doesn’t mean they are really that smart.

She also said that “all knowledge is ‘relational,’ asserting that ‘Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.’” What she meant is that there are no mathematical truths as we know them because students perceive things through their own cultural and political lenses which may be quite different than standard (“white”) perceptions. (more…)

Bending the Knee

This is not about Game of Thrones, but rather our national anthem. In 2016 when 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick bent his knee during the national anthem it was a protest of a black man against racial injustice in America. It spread from there. Within a month similar protests were seen not only in the NFL but in college sports as well.

That was last season. This football season it became a national issue since Donald Trump waded in with “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”. That played well in Alabama. (more…)

Taxing The Rich And Other Follies

Even though I have said this before apparently no one was listening so I have to say it again* because every time a new tax reform bill is proposed, the same clichés are trotted out and most of them are wrong. The purveyors of these clichés know they are wrong but they don’t care because they are trying to manipulate you to their ends. And, people fall for them.

Here is what the polls say about what Americans think about taxes (Gallup, Pew Research): (more…)