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Palestinian Preference

from The Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens writes On Palestinian Statehood

What about the interests of Palestinians? Aren’t they entitled to a state?

Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuans—all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood?

If so, what gives Palestinians the preferential claim? Have they waited longer than the Kurds? No: Kurdish national claims stretch for centuries, not decades. Have they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media. Have they been persecuted more harshly than the Rohingya? Not even close.

Set the comparisons aside. Would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people?

 That’s a more subjective judgment. But a telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state. No doubt part of this owes to a desire to be connected to Israel’s thriving economy.
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Clueless Victims


from Katherine Timpf at National Review, The Golden Globes Are Why Donald Trump Is Not Going Anywhere

Streep actually had the nerve and naiveté to begin her speech by whining about how Hollywood is one of “the most vilified segments in American society right now” — all while wearing a gown that probably costs more than all of the clothing in an average American’s closet combined. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to be rich and miserable; what I am saying is if I am ever worth tens of millions of dollars and I still use my time in a public speech to complain about how victimized I am, please do me a favor and punch me in the face. People may be mean to you on the Internet, and that may be a bummer, but I can assure you that no one waking up at 5 a.m. to shovel coal from a mine or facing a day full of soul-crushing number-crunching interrupted only by a 20-minute break to eat a turkey sandwich on bread that may not even be organic wants to hear it. Streep said that people should be grateful for the Hollywood elite because without them they’d “have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts” — because apparently she’s too trapped in her bubble to realize that those are both things that many people very much enjoy.


They are truly clueless victims.  They are a victim of their own bubble. If they had any true introspection they would ask what happened and try to understand. Instead they keep digging their hole.

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The Difficulty of Measuring Inequality

from The Inequality Hype by Neil Gilbert in The American Interest:

However as Richard Burkhauser pointed out in his presidential address to the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the market income of a tax unit is a poor indicator of how much money families actually have to live on.7A more inclusive measure of the income that remains in households after subtracting what they must pay in taxes and adding the money they receive through government transfers transmits a different image of the American experience. Applying these criteria, instead of a decline we see a 32 percent increase in the mean income of the poorest fifth between 1979 and 2007. (Table 1) Overall, this broader measure still reveals a rise in inequality during that period as the mean income of those in the top bracket climbs by 54 percent.8 But it, too, is incomplete.

Along with taxes and transfers, the most authoritative and extensive measure of income also incorporates capital gains. Along with Burkhauser and his colleagues, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agrees that a comprehensive definition involves the sum of market income adjusted for taxes, household size, cash and in-kind transfers, and capital gains.9 However, the consensus unravels over the issue of exactly how to value capital gains. The basic choice is whether to focus on the total taxable gains realized in the year capital assets are sold or the annual change in value of capital assets whether or not they are sold. This is not just a matter of bookkeeping. The choice to include either realized or accrued capital gains in the calculation of annual income has a considerable impact on the rates of inequality.

The CBO favors the use of realized capital gains that are reported on tax returns. After factoring in the impact of taxes, capital gains, and government transfers the CBO data reveal a sharp decline in inequality compared to when it is measured solely by market income. According to these figures, between 1979 and 2010 the household income in the bottom quintile increased by 49 percent, the income in the middle three quintiles increased on average by 40 percent, and those in the highest bracket increased by 71 percent.10 While incomes increased across the board, the largest gains registered on the two ends of the income distribution. These findings temper progressive arguments that focus on the increasing inequality of market incomes to demonstrate the need for greater social welfare spending.


This is a very short excerpt from a lengthy article that focuses on just one consideration, capital gains measurement, and its impact on the measurement of inequality.  The more salient point is that inequality is far more difficult to measure than most realize and the main stream reporting does not even try to comprehend the difficulty and thus the shallowness of their reporting on this issue


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Identity Headwinds

hko in Israel

Historians refer to the period between 1890 and 1920 and the Progressive Era, but the Democrats frequently and currently use ‘progressive’ as a prefix to ‘Democrat’.  Interviewed by Chis Matthews, candidate Hillary Clinton referred to herself as a Progressive Democrat when asked to distinguish herself from self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders.

FDR succeeded in replacing the term ‘progressive’ with ‘liberal’.  Liberal became a substitute for progressive and the classical liberal label became a modern conservative.  As the rise of right wing media made the term ‘liberal’ increasingly toxic we have seen a shift back to the use of ‘progressive’.

Part of the second phase of modern progressivism, the period from FDR through Jimmy Carter, was defined by Civil Rights Era.  Women’s rights, and Black and minority rights were largely achieved in this period. Gay rights did not come to fruition until much more recently but the trend began during the Civil Rights Era.

The victory in civil rights is one of the significant headwinds to progressivism.  Young women today make up over half of the college graduates, and are equally represented in the accounting, financial, medical and legal profession.  Black leaders have risen to the highest offices in politics and commerce. To the extent they are not as well represented as they could be we examine factors beyond mere discrimination.  In Coming Apart Charles Murray demonstrated that social pathologies (drug use, teen pregnancies, failure to graduate high school) have the same effect on white communities as they do on black communities.

The success of the Civil Rights Era has made it a much less potent political tool.  This underlies the failure of identity politics to aid Hillary.  By slinging accusations of misogyny and racism so loosely it became defamatory rather than unifying. The intolerance of speech and ideas was justified on such false moral grounds. The ultimate safe space for the true liberals, those who still take the bill of rights seriously, became the voting booth.

Outside of the black community Black Lives Matter is deemed underserving of the civil rights legacy of Martin Luther King; it is deemed a perversion of that progress.  The Civil Rights movement was embraced strongly beyond the black community by a broad spectrum seeking justice.

Without identity politics, there were few new ideas.  It became clear that the word ‘progressive’ has less to do with its root ‘progress’.  Higher taxes, more regulation, and bigger central government was a rehash of the ideas of the 1930s.  Progressives have become the enemy of progress.  The Uberization of America, the sharing economy, and the rapid scaling of new ideas defies the ability of government to control and regulate.  Their clumsy attempts to do so infuriates the youth who would otherwise identify with modern Democrats.

The new barons of industry; Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergin Bin, and many other internet billionaires wear t-shirt and jeans and are valued by every voter with a lap top and a cell phone.  They do not fit the villainous foil that served the early progressives.

To overcome the failure of identity politics, the Democrats have to embrace the changes that we should welcome.  Trump may have ended the short third phase of progressivism (Bush II through Obama), even though he displays many progressive tendencies in his style. It happened more suddenly than I expected, but these forces would have weighed down the third phase even if he lost.

The Democrats will struggle to become relevant without identity politics

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Untying the Health Care Knot

Kevin Williamson puts some reality on the Health Care Issue: The Health-Care Double Bind in National Review

The way to cut this Gordian knot is to treat insurance like insurance.

Insurance is not a way to pre-pay for health care, though we insist on treating it as though it is. Properly understood, insurance is not a health-care product at all: It is a financial product, the purpose of which is to mitigate the risk of incurring large and unexpected costs, whether that is damage to an automobile (your car insurance does not pay for oil changes) or health-care costs. It is necessarily prospective, which is to say, forward-looking. No one can say whether you’ll have a heart attack tomorrow or get brain cancer in 20 years, though our actuaries are really very good at determining how many people out of a million will have a problem like that in any given year, and what it will cost to treat them. But we insist on trying to bend insurance into a retrospective product, as though it were possible to play the odds on something that already has happened. So long as we try to push off the obligation for paying for preexisting conditions onto financial firms — which is what insurance companies are — we are simply using those companies to launder health-care benefits that are in reality publicly financed, in part or in total.

It would make much more sense to do the opposite of what the pollsters would advise: Keep the unpopular mandate — strengthen it — and do away with the popular preexisting-conditions rule, replacing it with stronger regulation protecting people with insurance from losing their coverage once they become sick or grow old. For the people without coverage? Medicaid stinks, but in a reformed version it is the most obvious solution, a way to pay directly for health-care services rather than paying insurance companies to pay for services, as though putting a financial middleman in the equation were going to improve things.

Ultimately, health-care reform that treats insurance as insurance means that Americans will simply pay out-of-pocket for most of their medical needs, with insurance in most cases picking up the cost of catastrophic accidents and illnesses. Empowering consumers to do this means creating a real market with real prices, which simply does not exist now: Try getting three competing quotes on a 2017 Honda Civic and then do the same with an appendectomy and see which market has real prices. That will be a long and difficult reform project, one that will not be achieved through a single piece of legislation, or indeed through legislation alone.


If the underwriting no longer segmented the high risk from the normal pool the cost would be mitigated. Perhaps normal rates would rise 20% and the high risk could be insured, but they still must acquire the coverage.  I suggest vouchers for the poor, but for those who can afford coverage and then choose not to – there should be  consequences.