As “really rich” as Donald Trump is today, he might have been even richer if, instead of dabbling in skyscrapers and casinos, he’d simply taken his eight-figure inheritance decades ago and sunk it into the stock market.And there are many discrepancies in analyses of how much money Trump has.
Had the celebrity businessman and Republican presidential candidate invested his eventual share of his father’s real-estate company into a mutual fund of S&P 500 stocks in 1974, it would be worth nearly $3 billion today, thanks to the market’s performance over the past four decades. If he’d invested the $200 million that Forbes magazine determined he was worth in 1982 into that index fund, it would have grown to more than $8 billion today.
Even the smaller figure exceeds the lower range of his possible net worth as reported to the Federal Election Commission, while the larger number exceeds by billions recent estimates of Trump’s worth by financial publications. And it would have come without the high-drama, roller-coaster career that has included four corporate bankruptcies.
That a purely unmanaged index fund’s return could outperform Trump’s hands-on wheeling and dealing calls into question one of Trump’s chief selling points on the campaign trail: his business acumen.
A National Journal review of that 92-page document found assets totaling at least $1.37 billion and liabilities totaling at least $265 million. But Trump claims 22 assets he says are worth more than $50 million each and four loans also exceeding $50 million. Which means that based solely on that document, Trump could theoretically be worth $100 billion—or be $100 billion in debt.Perhaps the Donald would be perfect for being in charge of the federal budget. He seems to take a similar approach to budgeting and computing debt that we see from many Washington politicians.
Perhaps the most deeply researched account of his wealth is a decade old: the book TrumpNation, by former New York Times journalist Tim O’Brien, who found three sources close to Trump who estimated that he was worth between $150 million and $250 million. (That same year, Trump was claiming a net worth of $6 billion, and Forbes found a value of $2.6 billion.)
Trump’s response? To accuse his associates who gave O’Brien that estimate of having obese wives. “You can go ahead and speak to guys who have 400-pound wives at home who are jealous of me, but the guys who really know me know I’m a great builder,” he told O’Brien.
Trump wound up suing O’Brien for defamation, claiming his book had damaged his business. The suit was eventually dismissed, but not before Trump sat for a deposition in which he admitted that he routinely exaggerated the values of his properties.
“I think everybody does,” he said in the deposition. “Who wouldn’t?”
Trump said his estimate of his net worth on any given day was based on a lot of different factors—including his mood. “My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with the markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings,” Trump told O’Brien’s lawyer. “I would say it’s my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies.”
(This summer, when Trump’s campaign issued a press release that stated, in all capital letters, that Trump was worth TEN BILLION DOLLARS, O’Brien wrote a column for Bloomberg View that announced that he, too, was worth $10 billion, based on his own feelings.)
That 2007 deposition also revealed that in 2005, two separate banks had assessed Trump’s assets and liabilities before agreeing to lend him money. One, North Fork Bank, decided he was worth $1.2 billion, while Deutsche Bank found he was worth no more than $788 million.
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Stanley Kurtz writes about how the College Board, through the prevalence of its Advanced Placement exams, has become the unofficial arbiters of a national curriculum. Since Jay Mathews started his ranking of the nation's high schools based on what percent of its students take AP exams in the Washington Post and Newsweek, states and school districts have worked hard to increase the percentage of students registered in AP courses. The theory is that, even if the kids don't do well on the exam, they will benefit from the rigorous curriculum and expectations.
And as a result, by replacing its traditionally minimalist course guidelines with detailed curriculum frameworks, the College Board is now in a position to create a de facto national curriculum.Well, I'm part of this transformation because I teach three AP courses: AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, and AP European History. The textbooks I use are put together by publishers trying to match the curriculum guides put out by College Board. I've been teaching AP courses since 2002 and I have noticed an increased emphasis on social history, sometimes at the expense of other fields of history such as political and diplomatic history or sometimes just with the new subjects added in. Recently, the US History course has broadened to include environmental history and more emphasis on Native American history. I'm not really opposed to any of these additions. History is a broad river and there are lots of important tributaries.
The massive increase in revenue from government-subsidized testing fees has also allowed the College Board to take over the sort of teacher training once managed by states and districts. Since it writes the exams, signs off on every AP course syllabus, controls teacher training and manages the revision of approved textbooks, the College Board is capable of exercising exceptionally tight control over the curriculum. In effect, the College Board is becoming an unelected national school board, independent of district or state control. Critics have rightly warned that Common Core takes us far down the road to a national curriculum. The College Board, presided over by Common Core architect David Coleman, is swiftly transporting us to the terminus of that highway.
My interest has always been the political and diplomatic elements of history and I've had to study some on my own to get up to speed. My concern is that the time available to teach is limited. So something has got to give. What I see giving is that all coverage becomes more shallow in order to broaden the coverage. Where once I had time to go more in depth on some of my favorite subjects such as reading a lot of the key documents leading up to the Civil War. I used to have my kids read several pages of excerpts from the Lincoln-Douglas debates and we had time to discuss that. Now we don't. I can give a quick lecture, but then we have to race on. The same thing happens in my European history class. I could spend a week on 17th century England tracing the path from the tensions that led up to the English Civil War to the results of the Glorious Revolution. Now, I have to cut that down to maybe three days and the kids don't get as full a picture. I'd be happy to teach a non-AP European History course so that I could focus more on my favorite subjects. However, students will only sign up for an elective like that if they think they're going to get AP credit to flash on their college applications. So I am bound by that AP curriculum so I can help them prepare.
I get what Stanley Kurtz is arguing, but I don't see what would change any of this unless more and more colleges refuse to pay attention to the AP courses. Right now most colleges will give credit for good scores on the exams. The more elite schools won't give credit but they might give placement so that students who want to take more history classes can skip the introductory class. However, the message is still out there that college admissions offices want to see student taking at least 3-6 AP classes. They know that the school where I teach offers lots of AP classes, so it's rather a red flag to the admissions offices, from what I've heard, if a student has had the opportunities to take AP classes and hasn't gone for it. In a way that helps me since it gives students an incentive to take my AP European class since it's not required but, in North Carolina, there is a requirement for four years of history/social sciences classes. So I get enough kids to sign up and then I just try to do my best to teach the kids the kind of history class I wish I'd had available to me when I was their age.
In linking to Kurtz's essay, Paul Mirengoff reports on comments from someone who was at the reading of the exams complaining about how the exam has watered down its standards in grading the exam with its new structure. Here is what Mirengoff's source wrote,
But that’s not all. The whole structure of the exam’s scoring has been changed specifically, I believe, to increase scores. The old exam, for all its flaws (and NAS notwithstanding, there was always a lot of political bias toward the left) tested content and it was surprisingly rigorous by today’s standards of education. That’s why so few actually passed the exam.This is so very true. It matches what I heard from teachers at the grading and from what teachers have written on APUSH teachers' bulletin board. It is also what I've endured in the past year with the rewrite of the APUSH grading standards last year and new changes this year in my AP European History course. I wrote about this back in June.
So what they have done is largely eliminate content knowledge as a criteria for grading. For example, we are instructed to look for a thesis in student essay. An essay with a thesis gets a point and one without gets a zero (on a scale of 0-7). The problem is that is doesn’t matter what the thesis is, as long as there is a thesis.
Likewise with the use of documents. Students are given a set of documents and need to analyze the documents in an essay they write in 40 minutes. We are told to give the student 1 point if they use 4 of 6 documents and three points if they analyze most of the documents. Again, it doesn’t matter at all that the use is correct.
In short, being factually correct, understanding the context of the documents, etc., isn’t being graded (though some of us are violating that injunction). The exam has gone from a history exam to an exam that tests pedagogy, from “does this student know something about U.S. history?” to “does this student know how to take a test?”
Alas, this is all gone with the new APUSH exam. They replaced the holistic grading with a detailed rubric for which students receive points for including specific tasks in their essay. For example, they got one point if they had a thesis -- no differentiation as to whether it was a poorly-written, unsophisticated thesis as long as it addressed the question. They got a point for including a synthesis point somewhere in their essay. They could get a synthesis point for relating the period of their question to some other period in time or another place geographically. Or they could analyze counter-evidence to their thesis. Most students worked in some comparison between historical events and modern times, but it always felt strained and artificial, plopped into their writing just to get that point. I could go on and on with the vagaries of the rubric, but the result was that students wrote disjointed essays trying to tick off every box on the rubric. And it was very difficult for even the best students to keep in mind all the requirements from the rubric and perform those tasks simultaneously in their writing. And it took me much longer to grade these essays because I had to keep rereading what they wrote to see if they had performed those tasks. I found that, even rather poorly-written essays could get good grades if they had performed those tasks. They are no longer graded on whether they presented a well-reasoned argument and supported it with historical evidence, but on how they perform all these tasks.
This is the week of the grading of the essays in Louisville. I'm not there, because I can't conceive of spending a week grading a thousand essays. But I'm hearing from people who are there and it seems that it is even worse than feared. One friend told me that students receive credit for including historical evidence even if the history they cited was incorrect. For that synthesis point, they didn't get the point if they included their comparison to another time period in their thesis. But if they included the comparison elsewhere in the essay, they received the point.
Every teacher I've talked to despises these new grading rubrics. We all agree that the rubrics are a major block to teaching good writing while making our own job much more difficult.
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John C. Wohlstetter at The American Spectator takes the long view of America's involvement in the Middle East going back to our clashes with the Barbary Pirates. He refers to the fantastic history of America's involvement in the Middle East by the former ambassador from Israel, Michael Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present. Oren's book is a fantastic overview of a lesser known part of our diplomatic history. There are lessons to be learned from our history of interactions in that region of the world.
Our declaratory “no tribute” ideal follows Theodore Roosevelt’s early-20th century gunboat diplomacy. A Berber chieftain, whom the West knew as Raisuli, had American businessman Ion Perdicarus kidnapped in Tangier and held in Morocco’s remote Riff Mountains. Raisuli wanted TR to force the Moroccan Sultan—the chieftain’s real target—to pay ransom for perceived past offenses. TR’s note warned: “We want Perdicarus alive or Raisuli dead.” TR’s warships decided matters, and Perdicarus was freed.And now with this Iran deal we're demonstrating how supine our position truly is is the region.
Alas for American credibility, a “no tribute” policy was never settled, as periodically American presidents have ransomed (or tried to ransom) captives. President Carter’s Algiers accord, signed on the eve of Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, included $2.5 million compensation paid to free 52 U.S. diplomats. Even Ronald Reagan did so (1987’s Iran-contra arms for hostages), despite his having said: “I don’t think you pay ransom for people who have been kidnapped by barbarians.” To Reagan’s credit, he did twice use military force against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi: in 1981 when Navy jets downed two Libyan jets and in 1986 when in retaliation for Libyan-backed terrorists bombing a West German disco, killing American servicemen, the U.S. bombed Libyan targets, nearly killing Gaddafi. The 1981 clash, Oren recounts, was the first direct use of American military force against Arabs since 1815, also against Tripoli. The Pan Am 103 deal George W. Bush reached in 2003 with Gaddafi paid $2.7 billion to victim families; in Bush’s favor is that in that same year he successfully pressed Libya to dismantle its WMD programs, including its nuclear weapons program.
As to the Persian Gulf, we’ve come a long way from the December 1879 inaugural passage of a U.S. warship—the USS Ticonderoga—through the Strait of Hormuz, the choke-point through which today 20 percent of the world’s oil transits. In 1980, after Carter’s failed hostage rescue mission, the regime gleefully exhibited dead Delta Force corpses. Oren notes this echoes the public display of corpses by the pasha of Tripoli, after a failed 1804 rescue. Reagan partly redeemed himself by having merchant ships escorted to blunt Iran’s 1987-1988 blockade threat. President Bush 41’s expelling Saddam Hussein from Kuwait boosted our Mideast prestige to its all-time zenith; but the Iraq debacle—Bush 43’s Iraq II blunders and Obama’s snatching defeat from the jaws of the surge’s success—undid it.
The WSJ has a fascinating look at how teachers' unions are using every possible weapon they can find to keep parents from using state law to gain control of their children's schools. The newspaper profiles a retired Green Beret who is working with parents to maneuver through the Los Angeles bureaucracy to help their children.
In 2011 Mr. Flores joined the nonprofit Parent Revolution, inspired by the group’s role in California’s first parent-trigger campaign, at McKinley Elementary in Compton. McKinley parents wanted a high-performing charter operator to take over the failing school but were stymied by the teachers union, which had joined forces with the school district.There is something truly disturbing when gang members are more helpful to parents than union teachers are.
The union tactics at McKinley included requiring parents to show up at the school during the workday with a photo ID—a good way to scare off illegal immigrants—to verify their signatures. The trigger petition failed after a lengthy court battle, but Mr. Flores says the injustice propelled him to enlist as a parent organizer. “Before you begin a petition drive, you have to start a parent organization,” Mr. Flores says. Parents “have to be aware of how the system works and how the system is broken.”
For instance, “parents are unaware that principals don’t have power to dismiss or even hire their own staff. Districts do a really good job of keeping parents away from all of this information,” Mr. Flores notes. “Once they learn, it agitates them even more.”
But the biggest challenge is collecting signatures while being barraged by the unions. In every petition campaign, he says, “they use the same accusations and playbook.” Two standbys are false charges that the petition organizers are bribing parents to sign and that the people gathering the signatures are paid by outside groups.
The unions hit the “outsider” label hard, Mr. Flores says, alleging that petition organizers “have a political agenda—that we’re trying to privatize education.” Another union tactic: Overplay the collateral damage, telling parents that a petition could force the school to close. When all else fails, the unions try to junk the petition signatures. In the parent-trigger drive Mr. Flores helped organize at Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto in 2012, the school board invalidated nearly 100 signatures. But a state judge ordered the district to accept the petition and allow the charter conversion.
Compared with fighting unions, Mr. Flores’s encounters with local gang leaders have been a relative breeze.
“In every campaign I’ve been a part of, you have situations where you have to respect the community,” Mr. Flores says. “That means if the local community leader is a minister, you meet with the minister. In Watts, it was a gang leader.” That was three years ago, he says, when Latino parents at Weigand Avenue Elementary were seeking to oust the principal. A black pastor said he had to get permission from a local gang to mobilize parents, and he set up a meeting at the gang leader’s apartment.
“There were all types of weapons throughout the house. I remember opening the door and that distinctive smell of marijuana,” Mr. Flores recalls. “I was afraid because I was aware of the turf battles—the fact that I was Latino and they were African-American.”
But the only triggers that came up in the meeting were of the parental variety. To Mr. Flores’s amazement, the gang members supported the Weigand Avenue takeover. One, he says, “happened to be a former student at the school and said, ‘You need to do this for the future generation of kids, because I am a product of this school.’ He was very self-aware.” While parents gathered signatures, Mr. Flores says, the gang “would egg us on and tell us they were sending parents our way.”
Michael Barone analyzes how Barack Obama has transformed politics...and not for the better.
But in our system a widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House. In 1960 Richard Nixon, after eight years as vice-president and six in Congress, campaigned on the slogan, "Experience counts." No one is running on that theme this year.
Nixon could, because over the preceding quarter-century most Americans mostly approved the performance of incumbent presidents. Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower still look pretty good more than 50 years later.
Barack Obama doesn't. His deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes recently said that the president's nuclear weapons deal with Iran was as important an achievement of his second term as Obamacare was of the first. Historians may well agree.
These two policy achievements have many things in common.
Both were unpopular when proposed and are now. In March 2010 Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that people would discover, and presumably like, what was in the bill after it was passed. But most Americans didn't like it then, and most don't today, five and a half years later. As for the Iran deal, Pew Research reports it has only 21 percent approval today, much lower than Obamacare in 2010.
Both Obamacare and the Iran deal were bulldozed through Congress through legislative legerdemain. Democrats passed Obamacare by using the temporary 60-vote Senate supermajority gained through a Minnesota recount and the wrongful prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens. After they lost the 60th vote, they resorted to a dubious legislative procedure.
This year Obama labeled the Iran treaty an executive agreement and Congress concocted a process requiring only a one-third plus one rather than a two-thirds vote for approval. Only 38 percent of members of Congress supported it. Many, like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, did so only after saying that they never would have accepted it in negotiations.
In 2008 Obama promised he would "fundamentally transform" America, and Obamacare and the Iran deal are indeed fundamental transformation of policy — transformations most Americans oppose....
In polls Democratic voters have stayed loyal to the president. But to listen to their candidates (and maybe-candidate Joe Biden) you would think we are in our seventh year of oppression by a right-wing administration. You don't hear much about the virtues of Obamacare or the Iran deal — or "choice."
Most Americans hoped the first black president would improve race relations. Now most Americans believe they have gotten worse.
And so a president who came to office with relatively little experience has managed to tarnish experience, incumbency and institutions. A fundamental transformation indeed.
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Jeffrey Anderson examines historical models to try to determine how Obama's unpopularity might affect the election.
Thus, all four measures point to the next Democratic nominee losing by between 4.2 and 5.6 points, with the metric that has been the most historically reliable suggesting a loss of 4.8 points. No matter how you slice it, the Democratic nominee is facing an uphill battle in 2016 to succeed this president, whose commitment to steering America in a radically leftward direction has relied on the raw and often extra-legal exertion of power and the defiance of public opinion, rather than on winning people over and building consensus.Of course, that would require the GOP not to fulfill its traditional pattern as "the stupid party."
The price that Obama will likely pay for his longstanding refusal to reflect what James Madison called “the cool and deliberate sense of the community,” which (Madison wrote) “in all free governments” will “ultimately prevail,” will be to have the presidency join the House and Senate as Republican-held institutions just eight years after all three were firmly in Democratic hands. Thanks to Obama, whichever Republican presidential candidate manages to prevail over the large stable of GOP competitors should be more than strong enough to beat the Democratic nominee.
Liberal pundit Bill Scher makes the arguments against Joe Biden getting into the race.
Overnight, he will transform from everyone’s favorite political uncle into the personification of the glass ceiling. Furious Hillary Clinton supporters will hold up Biden as the latest example of a man refusing to let a qualified woman reach the top.
Why would Biden suffer that sexist distinction when rival candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has not? Because Sanders has clear-cut substantive differences with Clinton: from socializing health insurance to capping the size of banks to the Patriot Act to the Iraq War vote.
Simply put, Sanders has a reason to oppose Clinton, just as the Iraq vote provided the basis for Barack Obama to leapfrog over his elder. You can’t plausibly argue the Sanders candidacy is an exercise in mansplaining.
Biden, on the other hand, is cut from the same Establishment Democrat cloth as Clinton. They have taken similar votes that Democratic base voters view as cynical, including in favor of the Iraq War resolution, the Patriot Act and the 2001 bankruptcy bill. They both eschew left-wing pipe dreams like single-payer health insurance. Perhaps some daylight would creep between them over the course of a presidential campaign, but it would not amount to a deep philosophical breach. A Clinton presidency would be similar to a Biden presidency.
In turn, there’s no reason for Biden to oppose Clinton, at least, not an ideological one. The only reason to run is personal: Biden wants the job and Clinton is in the way. That’s not a compelling basis for a candidacy. And when you bring the glass-ceiling factor into the equation, it’s a potentially toxic one.
Maybe Biden believes he is more electable than Clinton, that his reputation for authenticity is more potent than hers for calculation. But what is praised as authentic when you are not a candidate is pilloried when you are one. Comments like calling Obama a “mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean” and declaring that "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent" sunk his 2008 campaign before it got off the ground. A gaffe-free Biden 2016 bid is literally, and I mean literally, impossible to imagine.
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The Guardian has a nice profile of Hugh Hewitt who will be asking questions on Wednesday night during the GOP debate. I often listen to Hugh's radio show online because I enjoy the intelligent and dispassionate discussion of public policy.
“The point about talk radio that many people don’t understand: they think it’s just screaming, yelling, emotional, when in fact I believe it’s educational, informative and persuasive if done well,” he said between recording sessions.
His interview manner is just shy of prosecutorial: unhurried but pressing, and peppered with legal knowledge. His conversations, on air and off, include book recommendations across the political spectrum.
What a delightful story with results that might benefit lots of people. A federal court has ruled that YouTube should not take down videos if the video involves fair use as the video in question showing a baby getting down to a Prince song.
The case decided Monday was brought by a woman who in 2007 recorded and posted a video of her young son dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy,” a song by Prince, only to find the 29-second video removed from YouTube in response to a copyright claim from Universal Music Group. The woman, Stephanie Lenz, objected to the removal of her video, and had it restored.
Lenz then sued the music company for an unlawful takedown request, with the help of the the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil-liberties advocacy organization.
A panel of three federal judges unanimously upheld a district court’s ruling that copyright holders have to consider fair use before issuing a takedown request—and that Universal could be held liable for damages under copyright law if a jury found that the company sent the request without considering fair use.
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We don't necessarily elect candidates because of their humility, but Ben Carson is certainly refreshing. It is strange to see such a humble man seek the highest office in the land. It's rather ironic. But I can see Ben Carson having a lot of appeal for the GOP evangelical voters in Iowa.
Roger Clegg is not impressed with Trump's position on affirmative action.
Here’s what Donald Trump said in an interview on Sunday: “I’m fine with affirmative action. We’ve lived with it for a long time. And I lived with it for a long time. And I’ve had great relationships with lots of people.”Ben Carson has a much more reasonable position, stressing financial need rather than race.
What a silly answer. So Mr. Trump is “fine” with treating people differently — some better, some worse — on the basis of skin color, national origin, and sex. How come? Because “I’ve lived with it for a long time.” How does that make such discrimination more acceptable? Indeed, in this instance, the longer it has been around the less defensible it is, if the rationale is somehow to make up for past wrongs. And, of course, you can have “great relationships with lots of people” without discriminating against them. In fact, it might actually improve your relationships with lots of people. Sheesh.
It sounds like Rand Paul is less concerned with his own sinking in the polls than he is with Donald Trump's success.
“Someone has to bring him down,” he told reporters in the lounge of the St. Louis Marriott. “I’m not going to sit quietly by and let the disaster that is Donald Trump become the nominee. Do you want someone who appears to still be in grade school to be in charge of the nuclear arsenal?”I linked to this story last week. I just think that Trump's fans don't give a hoot about such traditional conservative positions. They like Trump for what they perceive him to be, not the reality of who he has been.
Paul later told me he thinks he has found an approach that will separate Trump from the rest of the GOP field: eminent domain. “A hallmark of Republicans is that they respect private property. But Trump runs roughshod over it,” he said. “He is a serious abuser of taking property for his private benefit.”
Paul recounted the story of Vera Coking, an elderly widow who lived in a three-story house in Atlantic City. Trump decided he wanted a “fantastic” limousine parking lot for his Trump Plaza hotel. He bought up nearby properties, but Coking declined to sell.
So Trump had a local government agency – the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) – do the dirty work of seizing her property. CRDA offered her $250,000 for the property – one-fourth of what another hotel builder had offered her a decade earlier. When Coking wouldn’t budge, CRDA went to court to seize her property under eminent domain.
Coking went to court represented by the Institute of Justice and was able to win. As the Washington Post reported this month: “In the long melodrama that is Trump’s business career, the house in Atlantic City is the place where all the billionaire’s money and all the billionaire’s men couldn’t keep a 5-foot-3 widow from whupping him.”
But Trump remains unrepentant about his used of eminent domain. After a 5 to 4 majority of the Supreme Court approved the seizure of property for the benefit of other private entities in the infamous 2005 Kelo case, Trump told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto: “I happen to agree with it 100%. if you have a person living in an area that’s not even necessarily a good area, and … government wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work and … create thousands upon thousands of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good.”