Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cruising the Web

I'm just getting ready to teach the federalism unit and one of the main concepts for students to learn is how federalism allows for the states to become "laboratories of democracy," where we can see the results of different policy choices. I usually show students differences among the states on issues such as taxes, spending on education, and capital punishment. One of the maps I was looking at to show them is this one from the Tax Foundation on the different corporate tax rates in the 50 states.
The differences among the states will play a role in how businesses make decisions about where to locate.

Add in this map of the top income tax rates by state.
It turns out that people respond to the disincentives of living in certain high-tax states.

As the Wall Street Journal has this report on the results of such tax differences among the states.
The liberal tax model is to fleece the rich to finance spending on entitlements and government programs that invariably grow faster than the economy and revenues. IRS data on tax migration show this model is now breaking down in progressive states as the affluent run for cover and the middle class is left paying the bills.

Between 2012 and 2015 (the most recent data), a net $8.5 billion in adjusted gross income left New Jersey while $6.2 billion poured out of Connecticut—4% of the latter state’s total income. Illinois lost $13.6 billion. During that period, Florida with no income tax gained $39.3 billion in AGI. (See the nearby table.)

Not surprisingly, income flows down the tax gradient. In 2015 New York (where the combined state and local top rate is 12.7%) lost a net $850 million in AGI to New Jersey (8.97%) and Connecticut (6.99%). At the same time, the Garden State gave up $335 million to Pennsylvania (3.07%), and $60 million left Connecticut for the state formerly known as Taxachusetts (5.1%). Taxpayers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut escaped to Florida with $3.2 billion in income. Florida Gov. Rick Scott ought to pay these states a commission.

The affluent account for a disproportionate share of the income migration. For instance, individuals reporting more than $200,000 in AGI in 2015 made up 57% of the income outflow from Connecticut (compared to 48% of total state AGI) and 57% of the inflow to Florida.

Snowbird flight isn’t new, but migration has accelerated as taxes have increased. Income outflow from Connecticut averaged $500 million between 2003 and 2007. Then in 2009 GOP Gov. Jodi Rell raised the top tax rate to 6.5% from 5%, which her Democratic successor Dannel Malloy lifted a few years later to 6.7% and again two years ago to 6.99%. AGI outflow between 2012 and 2015 averaged $1.6 billion.

In 2004 Democrats raised New Jersey’s top rate on individuals earning more than $500,000 to 8.97% from 6.37%. Between 2012 and 2015, annual income outflow from New Jersey averaged $2.1 billion—twice as much as between 2000 and 2003 after adjusting for inflation.
The problem for these high tax states is that people, especially wealthy people, have choices and staying around to see more of their wealth or corporate income taxed is not going to fly with a lot of those people. And when they leave, the state loses those revenues that the states have been relying on to fund the promises they've made to public employees' unions.
This millionaires’ diaspora has harmed income and economic growth. Real GDP between 2011 and 2016 grew annually at a paltry 0.2% in Connecticut, 1% in Illinois and 1.2% in New Jersey, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These states were the slowest growing in their respective geographic regions, though other high tax states in the Northeast didn’t fare much better.

As a result, revenues have repeatedly fallen short of projections in New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut while budget deficits have ballooned. Democratic lawmakers have cut public services and funds to local governments, which have responded by raising property taxes.

The Tax Foundation says New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New York and Illinois have the highest property taxes in the country. Over the last two years, the average Chicago homeowner’s property taxes have risen by roughly $1,000. Higher property taxes hit middle-class earners especially hard and are another incentive to leave a state.

As these state laboratories of Democratic governance show, dunning the rich ultimately hurts people of all incomes by repressing the growth needed to create jobs, boost wages and raise government revenues that fund public services. If the Republican House and Senate tax-reform bills follow through with eliminating all or part of the state and local tax deduction, progressive states will have an even harder time hiding the damage. They should be the next candidates for reform.

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A. Barton Hicke at Reason points out how the media are less concerned about money in politics when it is money that is helping the Democrats. He notes that the Democrats had a large money advantage in Virginia's elections. If the Republicans had won after having about a 2-1 spending advantage, do you think the media might have mentioned that fact?
Sure it would. Because the establishment media are practically obsessed with campaign financing—at least when the money comes from the conservative or libertarian direction, anyway. Entire library shelves groan under the weight of coverage devoted, for instance, to the Koch Brothers (David Koch is a trustee of the Reason Foundation, which publishes Reason.com). The National Rifle Association is another favorite, er, target. "Have your representatives in Congress received donations from the NRA?" The Washington Post asks—and answers the question with a handy infographic showing you just how much every representative has taken from the gun-rights group. No such district-by-district scrutiny applies to, say, Planned Parenthood—which, although it does not outspend the NRA, is still "among the nation's top political contributors," according to that far-right dishrag, The New York Times.

The difference in scrutiny is revealing, in the same way that frequent references to "the gun lobby"—but never "the abortion lobby"—are revealing. When conservative or libertarian groups support a Republican candidate, it's proof that the candidate is "in the pocket of" powerful and nefarious interests who have "bought and paid for" her support. When liberal or progressive groups contribute to a Democratic candidate, it's proof that the candidate's principled stand on important issues has earned the support of ordinary people who share her values.

That's why you will frequently read about the huge sums Dominion, Virginia's biggest utility, gives to political candidates. The company is often noted for being Virginia's "top corporate donor"—which, according to The American Prospect, "makes for a lopsided battle for its opponents." Except that those opponents actually outspend Dominion in the aggregate.

Over the past decade environmental groups have outspent Dominion by a ratio of 5:3. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) frequently gets blasted for supporting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and his critics rarely fail to note that Dominion, one of the pipeline's builders, gave him $75,000. He must have been bought, right? Well, no: Environmental groups gave him $3.8 million. That never seems to get mentioned. Maybe, in this case, he's actually doing what he thinks is right.

For liberals and progressives, Northam did the right thing on Tuesday: He won. Which means all the money he spent, and all the money spent by others to elect him, is nothing to get upset about. As Bradley Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission who now runs the Institute for Free Speech, wrote several years ago: "Nobody on the left really believes what they always say about campaign contributions and spending... The 'reformers' do not believe money is corrupting. Rather, they believe that their political opponents are corrupt."

And big money in politics poses no threat to democracy—so long as the right team wins.

William McGurn makes a credible argument that the Senate should no longer use the ABA to evaluate judicial nominees after the ABA just gave a former NEbraska chief deputy attorney general, Leonard Steven Grasz, a "not qualified" rating because they deemed him too biased and "too rude." They determined that he's biased on abortion. The ABA is going to be testifying about their ratings of nominees before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. McGurn has some suggestions on questions to ask them.
In just one indication of how politicized the ABA ratings have become, Democrats and Republicans long ago diverged on the ABA’s role in the nominations process. In 2001, George W. Bush halted the practice of giving the ABA first crack at vetting potential nominees; in 2009 Barack Obama revived it; and this year President Trump halted it again.

Yet even without an official role, the ABA ratings still exert undue influence on nominations. For the real signal sent by a “not qualified” rating is: This guy is a Neanderthal. That in turn allows the press to portray a nominee as out of the mainstream, and it can siphon off confirmation votes from Republican senators nervous about the rating.

That’s plainly what the ABA hopes for Mr. Grasz. The ABA’s statement makes clear his “not qualified” rating is based on two broad worries: his “passionately held social agenda” and complaints that he’s been “gratuitously rude.”

By “passionately held social agenda,” the ABA means abortion; in his prior life Mr. Grasz defended—as a state deputy attorney general is obliged to do—a Nebraska ban on partial-birth abortion. What it means by “rude” no one knows, because the ABA has thrown this out there while providing almost no specifics. For good measure, the ABA has twisted a two-decade-old law review article to suggest Mr. Grasz rejects a point he explicitly states, to wit, that judges are bound by clear legal precedent—even when “it may seem unwise or even morally repugnant.”

So Wednesday’s hearings offer Republicans an excellent opening to press ABA officials on how they came to their “not qualified” rating. Here’s a few suggestions:

• Why did the ABA ask where Mr. Grasz’s children went to school? Does the ABA believe their Lutheran education affects his fitness as a judge?

• Is it ever appropriate for an ABA interviewer to refer to “you people,” as Mr. Grasz’s did? When Mr. Grasz asked for clarification, the interviewer said he meant “Republicans and conservatives.” Has the ABA ever referred to “you people” when interviewing a Democratic nominee?

• The ABA has taken positions on many of the most contentious issues before the courts these days, from abortion to guns to same-sex marriage. How can a Republican judicial nominee have confidence these ABA positions will not adversely affect the ABA’s rating?
As McGurn recommends, let the ABA make their ratings just as other outside interest groups make their evaluations of judicial nominees. But those ratings shouldn't be treated as some sort of "gold standard" of neutrality.

The New Yorker has an article up
today by Charles Bethea on Roy Moore and his hometown. The report is full of anonymous reporting of rumors, but it explains why the Washington Post published their story to begin with. The Post had said that they kept hearing rumors about Roy Moore and underage girls when they were in Alabama and finally found four women to go on the record. One more made her accusation yesterday about Moore forcibly groping her when she was a teenager. She produced his signature in yer yearbook as evidence that she had known him back then. How many men in their 30s have signed a high school yearbook? The fact that Gloria Allred is her lawyer is not dispostive that she is lying.

According to Bethea's reporting, the small hometown was rife with rumors about Moore and young girls. He notes that two of the accusers say that they first met Moore at the mall in their town.
Two of the women say that they first met Moore at the Gadsden Mall, and the Post reports that several other women who used to work there remembered Moore’s frequent presence—“usually alone” and “well-dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt.”

This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees. (A request for comment from the Moore campaign was not answered.) Several of them asked that I leave their names out of this piece. The stories that they say they’ve heard for years have been swirling online in the days since the Post published its report. “Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls,” the independent Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote on his Web site on Sunday. (Wilson declined to divulge his sources.) Teresa Jones, a deputy district attorney for Etowah County in the early eighties, told CNN last week that “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high-school girls.” Jones told me that she couldn’t confirm the alleged mall banning, but said, “It’s a rumor I’ve heard for years.”
It could just be a rumor that went around that he was banned. If it were true, there might be some evidence of that or the testimony of someone who worked in the mall back then or was a security guard there. There the evidence seems a bit amorphous - someone told someone who remembers the rumor.
This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees. (A request for comment from the Moore campaign was not answered.) Several of them asked that I leave their names out of this piece. The stories that they say they’ve heard for years have been swirling online in the days since the Post published its report. “Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls,” the independent Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote on his Web site on Sunday. (Wilson declined to divulge his sources.) Teresa Jones, a deputy district attorney for Etowah County in the early eighties, told CNN last week that “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high-school girls.” Jones told me that she couldn’t confirm the alleged mall banning, but said, “It’s a rumor I’ve heard for years.”

....Gadsden’s current law-enforcement community could not confirm the existence of a mall ban on Moore. But two officers I spoke to this weekend, both of whom asked to remain unnamed, told me that they have long heard stories about Moore and the mall. “The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one of the officers said. The legal age of consent in Alabama is sixteen, so it would not be illegal there for a man in his early thirties to date a girl who was, say, a senior in high school. But these officers, along with the other people I spoke to, said that Moore’s presence at the mall was regarded as a problem. “I was told by a girl who worked at the mall that he’d been run off from there, from a number of stores. Maybe not legally banned, but run off,” one officer told me. He also said, “I heard from one girl who had to tell the manager of a store at the mall to get Moore to leave her alone.”

The second officer went further. “A friend of mine told me he was banned from there,” he said. He added, “I actually voted for Moore. I liked him at one time. But I’m basically disgusted now, to be honest with you. Some of the things he’s said recently, I’ve changed my tune completely about this guy.” He went on, explaining why Moore no longer appeals to him. “When I heard what he said on ‘Hannity’ the other night,” he said, referring to an appearance Moore made on Sean Hannity’s radio show last Friday, “I almost stood straight up. The thing about how he’s never dated anybody without their mother’s permission, that appalled me. That made me want to throw up. Why would you need someone’s permission to date somebody? I’m probably gonna write in Luther Strange.”
Moore says that he never met the woman who accused him yesterday, never ate in the restaurant where she was a waitress and says she met him, and never signed her yearbook. That seems pretty definitive and if anyone can come forth and talk about seeing him in that restaurant or if handwriting experts can testify that that is his signature in the yearbook, it would seem to be game over.

I just keep thinking that, if it's true that the town was rife with rumors about Moore and high school girls, the Republicans opposing him in the primary really were awful at opposition research. If Mitch McConnell were this evil genius that he's sometimes portrayed as, wouldn't his people have hired their own version of Fusion GPS to get that story out there before the primary? Maybe no one would go on the record before and now they're willing to. But there are enough establishment Republicans in Alabama who were horrified at the thought of his being in the Senate before all these stories came out. And none of them got this story? What about the Alabama media? It casts doubt either on the story or on the political competence of the establishment GOP. Maybe they feared that there would have been a rally around the accused effect that would have helped him in the primary. But there seemed to have been a real hole in their opposition research and ability to get the story out there.

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Samantha Harris at Fire writes about two universities that recently canceled planned theater productions because students protested the content. Brandeis canceled a production of a play based on the comedy of Lenny Bruce. This is the brilliance from a recent Brandeis alumna leading a protest against the play.
The decision to cancel the play comes after weeks of criticism which included emails to President Ron Liebowitz, Facebook posts to raise awareness and a phone and email campaign led by Brandeis alumna Ayelet Schrek ’17.

The event page had hundreds of invites and was scheduled for Oct. 2 to 6, according to Schrek. It is unclear how many calls and emails were sent as part of this campaign. The page provided phone numbers of three Theater Department professors as well as two of their emails, the email for another theater department professor and emails for Dean of Students Jamele Adams and President Ron Liebowitz so that those invited to the page knew who to contact.

“[“Buyer Beware”] positions a white man as the brave protagonist and a black man (and BLM) as the over-reacting, violent antagonist,” Schrek wrote in a Facebook event page which called on anyone opposed to the play to join in a “CONGRESS STYLE PHONE CAMPAIGN.”

Schrek, who lives in San Francisco, California, told The Brandeis Hoot that she’s never read the script. “I trust the people who told me about it. I don’t need to read the actual language to know what it is about,” she said in a phone interview with The Hoot. Schrek argued that the department wanted to put it on for “political gain” and in a Facebook post wrote, “It is an overtly racist play and will be harmful to the student population if staged.”
So she hasn't read the play, but she knows it is bad because some told her about it. She probably knows nothing about Lenny Bruce and his efforts for freedom of speech. He faced censorship for his use of obscenities and he also used racial and other slurs. The play is about a young man today who is inspired by Bruce to write a comedy routine somewhat in the style of Bruce but faces problems from the Brandeis administration. And now the fictional plot has come true. The other college where a planned theater production was shut down was Knox College where students were upset that an English professor who wrote a letter to the school newspaper protesting the cancellation of a planned production of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechwan.” For both schools, one of the main objections was that white men were going to have major roles in the productions. This is what one Brandeis student had about the planned production about Lenny Bruce.
“The issue we all have with it is that [Weller] is an older, straight [sic] gendered, able-bodied and white man. It isn’t his place to be stirring the pot,” said Andrew Childs ’18 in a phone interview for a Hoot article published on Sept. 29. Andrew Childs is an Undergraduate Department Representative for the Theater Arts Department and a member of the season’s “play selection committee.”
So whites aren't allowed to write or produce or star in something controversial. And Knox students are also upset by the race of the professor as we can see in this editorial in the student newspaper.
The theatre department is a very white department—like many departments at Knox—and it needs to acknowledge that they are coming from a place of privilege and prejudice. They need to listen to their students when they voice their concerns about not only the plays the department produces, but interactions with insensitive faculty and problematic syllabi.

[…]

To prevent future problems such as this play, and to be proactive in upholding values of true diversity, the theatre department—and other departments at Knox—need to engage in planned periods and workshops of interactive dialogues with their students. Students should not feel as if they are being silenced or do not have a space to speak within their own department. They should be encouraged to share their opinions and feel that they are being treated as if they are valid. To try to convince students of color that a play they feel is racist is in fact not racist is silencing their opinions.
These students simply want to shut down anything with which they fear they might disagree or dislike if the people involved are white. And the university let them do it. Soon, as English professor Emily Anderson wrote in the school newspaper, it's a quick jump from shutting down a play because its playwright is white to saying that white professors can't talk about certain subjects because of their race.


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And here is another sign of how ludicrous things have gotten on university campuses.
A Cambridge University physical sciences professor came under fire this week from mental health campaigners and students after he suggested undergraduates will have to work hard and abstain from drinking to pass the course.

Eugene Terentjev draw the fury of students and mental health activists after sending out an email last week to first-year natural sciences undergraduates at the UK’s world-famous Cambridge, telling them the course will be difficult and thus they should refrain from drinking and other social activities if they wish to succeed, according to an email leaked to student-run publication Varsity.

“Physical sciences is a VERY hard subject, which will require ALL of your attention and your FULL brain capacity (and for a large fraction of you, even that will not be quite enough),” Terentjev wrote to the students.

“You can ONLY do well (ie achieve your potential, which rightly or wrongly several people here assumed you have) if you are completely focused, and learn to enjoy the course. People who just TAKE the course, but enjoy their social life, can easily survive in many subjects — but not in this one.”

He added: “Remember that you are NOT at any other uni, where students do drink a lot and do have what they regard as a ‘good time’ — and you are NOT on a course, as some Cambridge courses sadly are, where such a behaviour pattern is possible or acceptable.”

The professor’s comments caused an uproar among activists and students, who called his email “extremely damaging” and neither “appropriate nor acceptable,” with one other university vice-chancellor accusing Terentjev of “frightening impressionable undergraduates,” the London Times reported.

A mental health campaign at the university, Student Minds Cambridge, said the message sent by the professor “could be extremely damaging to the mental well-being of the students concerned, and potentially others as well,” the Times reported.

Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, said the professor’s message scaremongers the students rather than helping them to learn to live a balanced lifestyle. “Frightening impressionable undergraduates into believing that work alone is all-important is irresponsible, unkind and wrong-headed,” he told the newspaper.
Oh, geez! If students are going to be harmed by being told to work hard and not get drunk, then they are just too fragile to be on their own. They shouldn't even be allowed to go to a university.

I've decided to close down the comments section for the blog. I liked the idea of people sharing their reactions, but it's become so vitriolic over the past year and I'm just tired of it all. It was no particular comment, just months and months of ugly accusations and attacks on me for not writing what individuals thought I should be writing that I just don't see that it's worth it. For those who enjoyed the comments, I apologize. I've heard there are these things called Twitter and Facebook. You can post your thoughts there.

4 comments:

SMP said...

Re: Cambridge

Once, just once, I'd like to hear one of the administrators say:
"Suck it up, Buttercup."

The University of Chicago came the closest with its free speech policy, I guess.

mardony said...

Prior to the 2016 election, 20 women publicly came forward to assert Trump committed sexual misconduct with them: 12 of them said they had been physically violated by Trump. The GOP blew it off and enough voters ignored it. In yesterday’s blog, Betsy similarly ignored it, but twice referred to Bill Clinton’s behavior. And now Republicans are sweating the loss of a Senate seat while being unconcerned that Roy Moore is becoming the face of the Republican party.

Betsy has long intimated that college women, many not of legal age, often falsely accuse male students of sexual assault. And those men are being denied legal due process. That reluctance to believe women raises its head today: “It casts doubt either on the story (fake news?) or on the political competence of the establishment GOP.”

Is it that Betsy wants to believe women only if it fits her political agenda?

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/listeningp-to-what-trumps-accusers-have-told-us

tfhr said...

mardony,

What part of your brain says that to "believe women" we must deny legal due process to someone? How about filing a charge, gathering evidence, and prosecuting while allowing the accused full Constitutional rights?
What is wrong with that? What is wrong with you?

Locomotive Breath said...

.. According to Bethea's reporting, the small hometown was rife with rumors about Moore and young girls.

I just keep thinking that, if it's true that the town was rife with rumors about Moore and high school girls, the Republicans opposing him in the primary really were awful at opposition research.

I just keep thinking that if his behavior were common knowledge and all that egregious, he would have never been elected by the people who know him best and he would have been run out of town. Or in a culture that sometimes is reputed to not wait for the slow grinding of the legal system a father or brother would have taken matters into his own hands. Any yet no such retribution was forthcoming.