Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How Good Will Trump Turn Out To Be?

Is the Trump presidency?
  • A bad aberration
  • A good aberration
  • An extreme version of the norm
  • Just the norm
Be careful how you answer. The is no individually complete and correct answer, and all of the answers have their own negative implications for the U.S. presidency.

Consider the list below an incomplete treatment of the effective progress report. By this I mean what is the practical result rather than how should Trump (and presidency) be rated.
  • His best accomplishments are greatly overshadowed by his bad policies leaving them largely unblemished by the Trump stain. Namely: deregulation (he might be the best deregulator since Carter), tax reform, criminal-justice reform, and court appointments (SCOTUS et al.; these various appointees will soon enough stand on their own records, and I believe they are largely good to very good). 
  • He is moving the Overton Window on questioning those in power while demystifying and deglorifying public office and the presidency in particular. 
  • He is tarnishing if not absolutely destroying the political positions of protectionism, strict immigration restriction, and general intolerance for others. Perhaps once he is done, the mere appearance of being against free trade, immigration, etc. will be political poison for fear of being branded another Trump. Obviously, this is an optimistic take.
  • He has been only as bad if not better than Obama and certainly better than Bush Jr. on war and conflict. 
  • On the other hand . . .
    • He is morally ugly, hateful, and gross.
    • His behavior is embarrassing and insulting.
    • He seems to inspire our lesser selves.
    • He is dangerous in different ways than the recent and possible alternatives--understand this to be far-left tail risk very much including war along many dimensions.
    • He risks giving free-market capitalism and traditional American (aspirational) values a lasting, negative connotation. 
Thinking about The Big Five, here is how I would rate the Trump presidency:
  1. Drug Prohibition - 1.75 out of 4 stars (this improves to 2.75 stars if he legalizes marijuana)
  2. Education - 2.5 out of 4 stars
  3. Immigration - 0 out of 4 stars
  4. Taxation - 3 out of 4 stars
  5. War - 2.25 out of 4 stars 
For a very good related post, check out Fake Nous.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Partial List - Turning the Other Cheek Edition

Partial list of things most humans are too intellectually or morally weak to do (by not doing):
  1. In the face of hostile foreign trade actions (tariffs, quotas, regulatory requirements, etc.), taking no action. 
  2. In the face of violent, atrocious actions in a foreign land, taking no action. 
  3. In the face of financial hardship of well-known large firms and other popular organizations, taking no action. 
  4. In the face of people engaging in activities that are peaceful (not harming others) but nonetheless self destructive, taking no action.
  5. In the face of opportunity to anonymously exploit a faceless entity for personal gain, taking no action.
If we were composed of stronger fibers, the desire to act would be appropriately tempered and "don't just do something, stand there!" would resonate.

[see the sister post "Do the right thing"]

Partial List - Do The Right Thing Edition

Partial list of things most humans are too intellectually or morally weak to do:

  1. When among a crowd engaging in bad behavior, walking away.
  2. When opinions of hatred and cruel intolerance are expressed, stating firmly but kindly that you do not assent and may in fact condemn such thinking.
  3. When points of view and arguments you disagree with intellectually are offered, constructively and honestly expressing a counter view.
  4. When hearing of dreadful behavior by one's government (one's own party or favored politicians especially), behavior one would never themselves engage in, peaceably but forcefully and actively condemning and denouncing the behavior. 
  5. When witness to unethical actions by one's employer or close associates, calling out the misdeed and refusing to participate in it.

If we were composed of stronger fibers, the desire to act would be appropriately stimulated and we would refuse to turn a blind eye.

[see the sister post "Turning the Other Cheek"]

On the Matter of Carts and Horses

I want to be wealthy.

The wealthy take fabulous vacations, drive expensive sports cars, and surround themselves with luxury.

Therefore, I am going to New York for a week at The Plaza. While there, I will do some amazing shopping; eat at Tavern on the Green, The Russian Tea Room, et al.; and take in some fabulous theater. Upon my return, I am buying a Ferrari.

Of course . . . it doesn’t work that way.

Will someone please tell local governments that? PleasePleasePleasePlease?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Partial List of (additional) Low-Hanging Public Policy Fruit

These are addenda to The Big Five

While The Big Five were largely federal issues, these (2/3) are largely state and local issues.

They are based on simple principles allowing for straightforward application if we would be so bold. Alas, the incumbent, vested interests would resist with every fiber of their selfish being. 

But I for one will keep fighting the good fight with hope that reason and justice will prevail. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Partial List of Political/Ideological Religious Symbols

The Left (progressive minds):
  • Bike lanes (inspired by this)
  • Organic food
  • Recycling logo
The Right (conservative minds):
  • War memorials that honor battles, victory, and the nobility of soldiers
  • Flags
  • "Buy American" & "Made in the USA" labeling and sloganeering*
*Yes, this puts labor unions (the organizations rather than the members, per se) on the right, where they have always been--a backwards-looking mindset focused on protecting the status quo.

Related: The right has its own political correctness.