Monday, August 31, 2015

Extrapolating to Murder? Makes No Sense

Shannon Miles, the piece of human waste arrested this week for murdering Harris County (TX) sheriff's deputy Darren Goforth, will presumably be convicted of first degree (capital) murder, rot in a cell until his appeals are exhausted, and then be executed years later than he should have been.  Death penalty opponents will picket outside the building where he will be executed, pleading for him to be able to live longer, while Deputy Goforth's widow and children have to go on without the husband and father they loved.

That part is easy to predict and simple to understand.

Here's the part I cannot possibly understand.  Clearly the deputy was murdered because he was a badged police officer and no other reason.  Clearly it is an extrapolation of the "Black Lives Matter" movement by a moron who put two and two together and got seven.  Clearly allowing people in that movement to march, as they did in Minnesota, chanting "Fry like bacon, pigs in a blanket", without a peep out of the mouth of Barack Obama, encourages this type of action.

Now, I cannot get inside the head of someone so devoid of decency as to commit murder.  That's the starting point.  What I really can't understand is this -- Goforth had not committed any of the acts of violence against black suspects, real, imagined or just (q.v. Ferguson) made up, for which the "Black Lives Matter" people are protesting.

That means that Miles was -- get this -- willing to murder an otherwise completely innocent sheriff's deputy, and take him forever from his wife and children, because he had the same profession as the people whom the "movement" is protesting!  And that's the part I certainly cannot understand.

If I had had a bad experience with a teacher, say, or an IRS agent (far more believable), or a farmer, and then subsequently met up with a different teacher or IRS agent or farmer in another state, what possibly would encourage me even to take up my dispute with their counterpart, let alone, you know, murder them?  Do you follow my thinking there?

Well, I think this is actually a relevant question to ask.  Because in my view, this is a logical outcome of the left's determination to have a small, elite ruling class and everyone else is the same.  Individuality is to be completely discouraged because we are all blissfully equal.  No one is smarter than anyone else (hence, grades need to go away); no one is better-looking than anyone else (q.v. Rumer Willis trying to make a big deal on Dancing with the Stars about being called ugly); no one can make more than anyone else (thank you, Bernie Sanders and the "income inequality" crowd).

That type of leftist thinking fosters the idea that we are not who we are as individuals, but what group we belong to.  God forbid that we be forced to live with the consequences of our actions, and God forbid we be seen for our own talents, intellect, drive and ability.  Nope; we are white people, or gays, or Peruvians ... or police officers, and all members of the group are the same, never an individual.

I simply do not think it is all that stretchy an extension for a Shannon Miles to see all white police officers not as the individuals they are, with actual lives, and actual wives and actual children who actually love them, and see them instead as faceless members of their group or profession.  I firmly believe this is one of the unintended consequences of the extreme leftist mindset, and it finally occurred to me as I tried to imagine how someone could be that callous.

Once again, the left kills without even thinking, and it will be they who ultimately ignore this heinous murder, as it is inconsistent with their narrative.

But gradually we see right through them.  Just not soon enough for Darren Goforth.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Greatest Writer of Two Centuries

Come September 19, a truly fascinating individual who has in turn fascinated us all, will celebrate his 95th birthday.  And if this were a fairer world, and it were truly about me and my wishes (as opposed to him and his), I would like to spend that day sitting with him in a box seat at pretty much any baseball stadium in the country.

Roger Angell continues to fascinate us, writing amazing prose well into his tenth decade on the planet.  I don't need to give you his life story; after all, that's why God made Wikipedia, and it isn't so much his life story as his gift.  In the great play "Inherit the Wind", the Clarence Darrow character sneers at the reporter, with "You never pushed a noun against a verb except to blow up something."  Roger Angell's gift was to push nouns against verbs in ways seldom done, with adjectives and adverbs as the salt on the glass.

This extremely old gentleman has been a part of my life for over forty years, though I have never met him -- my loss.  He won me over as a reader shortly after the publication of a gift to the world called "The Summer Game."

A writer of pieces for The New Yorker, the classic literary magazine of a type lost for the ages, Angell spent a good part of the 1960s doing a few pieces a year on baseball, a not-so-hidden passion of his. He would haunt spring training and do a New Yorker article; then a couple focused pieces during the long season, then finally a wrap-up of the World Series -- in the days before playoffs.

After ten years of this, in 1971 he was persuaded to compile the previous ten years' columns into a book, which became a best-seller and still one of the greatest compilations of baseball writing in the history of the game -- and that was "The Summer Game."  One could take a copy of it and glean the entire history of major-league baseball from 1962 (and the birth of the atrocious New York Mets of Casey Stengel) to 1971, merely as a succession of vignettes that collectively give us that picture.

One such glimpse, from a game at the Astrodome in Houston, the very first domed stadium shows what happens when literature meets baseball:  "With two out in the top of the first inning on the afternoon of May 23, 1965, Jimmy Wynn, the centerfielder of the Houston Astros, moved under a fly ball ... Looking upward, Wynn pounded his glove confidently, then anxiously, and then froze in horror.  The ball had vanished into a pure Monet cloud of overhead beams, newly painted off-white skylights and diffused Texas sunlight, and now it suddenly rematerialized a good distance behind Wynn and plumped to earth like a thrombosed pigeon."

This would sound a bit, oh, I don't know, wordy (or, to me, brilliant), if you didn't take into account how much this man loves the game.  It is precisely this intersection of amazing literary capacity with a fascination and love for a simple game that enraptures me.  Baseball is at its core a simple game, easy to love -- at least then -- with lots of time in its playing to select the right word to use.  Baseball met Roger Angell and both are the better for it.

In the same piece, this gem from Angell in his first Astrodome game -- four years before Neil Armstrong walked on he moon:  The groundskeepers smoothing the base paths were dressed in fake bright orange space suits and fake white plastic space helmets.  Each level of the stands was painted a different color -- royal blue, gold, purple, black, tangerine and crimson -- and I had the momentary sensation that I was sinking slowly through the blackberry-brandy layer of a pousse-cafe."

"The Summer Game" was such a hit that as Angell, then in his 50s, continued to produce the New Yorker articles, he was able to turn out sequels by anthologizing his articles every five years thereafter -- "Late Innings", "Five Seasons", "Season Ticket", etc., and weaving in the stories of ballplayers successful and less so -- Bob Gibson, the Hall of Fame pitcher still feisty as an Omaha restaurant owner, and Steve Blass, the Pittsburgh pitcher whose career was derailed by an inability to throw strikes, are both interviewed and wonderfully presented as the human beings they became.

You know, I think I want to write this piece as a way of saying "thank you" to someone while he is still on earth, still producing, still capable of appreciation.  I spent immense hours on airplanes for decades in the course of my work, and my pleasure was to open one of Angell's books, start anywhere and just read -- and appreciate -- as the clouds rolled by.  The fascinating thing is that the stories never got dated even though they might have been 30 years earlier when I read them.

I don't think I will get the opportunity to see a game with Roger Angell.  So I know only one great way to thank him best, and that is to cite the most amazing piece of writing to be taken out of one of his books.  It is "amazing" for its prescience rather than its use of language, and I would like to think it went into the book because the author recognized the insight of the speaker.

In Season Ticket, Angell recounts a 1982 spring training trip to see the Orioles, interviewing Earl Weaver, then their manager, about Cal Ripken, who was about to start his rookie season. Weaver tells Angell that, at whatever position the team decided to put him, "his manager can just write his name into the lineup every day for the next fifteen years; that's how good he is". Starting that year, Ripken in fact was written into lineups every day for more than fifteen years, setting the all-time consecutive-games-played streak of 2,632 games.  That piece went to press before Cal Ripken had played even a year in the majors.

Ask the right question, get a historic answer, copyright 1982.  That's the gift of brilliance, of insight, of understanding, of the love of the game that I love.  That's the gift of Roger Angell.  Please read him.  You'll thank me later.

And to you, Mr. Angell, a happy 95th.   Let's go see a ball game.  Please.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wasting Time on the Fourteenth Amendment

Not that the left or the White House has much regard for the Constitution, well, ever, so it is so ironic that they're the ones waving it around these days to defend the whole "anchor babies" situation that has swamped my columns this week.

We'd love it if the left would regard the explicit text of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights with half the reverence with which it suddenly embraces the Fourteenth.  But that won't happen, and we will still have anchor babies, unless we take a different tack to deter illegal immigration.  I have one.  It won't help reduce the 10 million illegals already here, maybe, but it will sure help the border problem.

Many years ago, according to the great 1944 Bennett Cerf book Try and Stop Me, there was a company that produced canned salmon.  Back in the day, canned salmon was a fairly popular item on the grocery shelves, so there was a good market for it.  This particular company had a reliable source of good-tasting fresh salmon and rushed it to market.

The market, alas, did not take to the product, as the salmon they were canning was a variety that was white, and the market was used to more familiar pink color in its salmon.  Rather than endure poor sales with a perfectly good competing product, they hired a clever marketing company to come up with a way to enhance the acceptability of the product.

The solution was clever, and so effective that sales soared, and the company's competitors had to sue to try to stop them in court.  What did the salmon company do?  They simply printed one line on their cans, to make customers feel better about buying a product that did not appear similar to what they were used to.  The line on the label?

"This salmon is guaranteed not to turn pink in the can."

OK, a few stories in that book may have been apocryphal, but the idea in this one is perfectly applicable.  To change people's behavior, simply make what you want them not to do a whole lot less attractive.  You want them not to buy pink salmon?  Make pink salmon sound diseased.  You want them to stop overrunning our borders illegally?  Make them pick lettuce ... OK, maybe that one won't work.

But it really isn't that hard to make it unattractive either to jump the border illegally, or to facilitate the jumping of the border illegally.  And it's a whole lot easier than amending the Constitution to fix the Fourteenth Amendment, at least if you regard Acts of Congress as relatively easier to produce.  You kind of wish that congressmen and senators really knew how to solve problems, but they don't, so sometimes we have to give them the solutions, like this.

The Illegal Immigration Discouragement Act of 2017 (you just know it won't get signed until His Majesty is retired out of the White House) would have the following provisions:

(1.) It shall be a Federal crime (felony) to pay a person illegally resident in the USA for performing any service, either as a contractor or an employee, over $600 in a single year.  This amount shall be aligned to the minimum amount for which a 1099 form must legally be filed.  Penalty shall be a minimum of ten times the amount paid for the first offense, and $1 million plus prison time for the second and subsequent offense.

(2.) It shall be a Federal crime (felony) to sell a home or rent a dwelling to a person illegally resident in the USA.  Penalty shall be a minimum of ten times the amount paid for a sale (or the amount of each year's rent) for the first offense, and $1 million plus prison time for the second and subsequent offense.

(3) It shall be a Federal crime (felony), for the mayor and all members of an elected or appointed city or town council or equivalent, to issue a law, ruling or regulation of any kind permitting employees of the jurisdiction to ignore, in any way, the United States Code regarding the tracking, incarceration, capture or retention of, or otherwise thwarting the instructions of the Department of Homeland Security in regard to the treatment of, persons illegally resident in this country.  All members of such council and the executive shall be regarded as having participated in the creation of any such law, and all are to be regarded as equally involved in the perpetration of such felony.  No Federal payment under any program may be made to such jurisdiction for any purpose whatsoever for a period of one year following the first judicial finding of such a law, ruling or regulation being created.
(4) No Federal payment of any personal monetary support, welfare, Social Security, Medicare or any other payment from any part of the Federal Treasury may be made to any person, not a citizen, resident illegally in the USA.

If you cut off the reward system, it becomes completely unsuitable to scramble over the border for a life where it is illegal to hire you, protect you or house you, and where the Federal government can not pay you a dime.  Voila, no more immigration problem, even without a wall, and we can go back to figuring out what to do with the ten million already here.

Of course, since they can no longer be housed, employed, protected or given taxpayer dollars, many will simply wander home on their own.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Declassification of the New York Yankees

It certainly feels good to slide away from politics for a moment and get back to something more like social commentary.  That's especially true when I can assail an institution that is perpetually in need of being assailed, because it is so self-important, so pompous and so sure of itself that it just, well, feels good to point out their failings.

No, it's not the left.  It is, of course, the New York Yankees.

Today, though, it is not about the usual things that it's fun to make sport of the Yankees about, not their pomposity, their fat wallet or their short right field.  It is about strikeout music.  In case you have better things to worry about than sounds in Yankee Stadium, ahhhh, read on anyway.  You got this far.

We are all familiar with the fact that baseball has evolved -- devolved, in the view of many -- from the glorious days when there were eight teams in each league and we even knew the names of the organists in our favorite stadium.  There may still be a stadium organ here and there, but nowadays it is a cacophonous blast of contemporary "music", between innings and as the batters come up to bat.  It's a big deal that the players pick their own "entrance music", which is especially ironic when it's a .209 batter who comes up to bat with some utterly oxymoronic sound blaring.

And ... commercials, which brings us to today.

For a few sad years now, when an opposing batter strikes out in the New Yankee Stadium, he returns to the visiting dugout with a piped-in whistle that is the jingle of the New York area electronics store, PC Richard.  I'm sure that PC Richard pays plenty for the right to have that whistle broadcast, but it says a lot -- none of it good -- about the Yankee organization that no one really thought about when the whistle was, in fact, appropriate, and when it was not.

We know that stadiums celebrate achievements of the home nine all the time -- exploding scoreboards, fireworks for home runs, for strikeouts by their pitchers and all that.  But what they have in common is that they celebrate the achievement of the player on the home team.  They don't ridicule the opponent.  That would be wretched sportsmanship and a pretty classless action.

I don't suppose that the Yankees thought that way when they sold rights to the whistle as a strikeout thing.  But I can tell you, as someone who is not from New York, never heard of PC Richard, and watches a lot of baseball, what I see and hear.  And it's not a message as to what electronics store to shop at.

This is what I hear.  I hear a ridiculing of the player on the other team, as if to say "Whistle on your way back to the dugout, son."  I hear "nyah, nyah, nyah, you struck out, ha ha ha, and we have more money than you, nyah, nyah, nyah!"

In other words, I hear poor sportsmanship, sore winners, and a complete lack of class.  When you are the Yankees, the richest team in baseball, economic bullies and buyers of free agents and pennants the last 20 years, it is the complete opposite of what you want be perceived as being.  Can you imagine, for example, the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the true class organizations in baseball, doing that?

And the Yankees organization clearly doesn't even see it.

I have nothing against PC Richard; I don't even know them.  I just would like for the Yankees organization to show enough class to find another routine event, perhaps a good fielding play or big hit, that can be celebrated with that whistle in such a way that it is meant to reflect what a Yankee player did well, and not be seen as a ridiculing of a player on the opposite side.

The other guys, the players on the other teams, are big boys and they can take it.  They couldn't care less.  But it would be a really perceptive action on the part of the Yankees if they stepped away and looked at how bad using the whistle, as they do, makes them look.  It's not a pretty sight.

They have declassified themselves, and not in the good way.

  Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don't Deport the Anchor Pandas!

Mei Xiang, a Chinese immigrant, came to America without a visa.  She came here, in part to ensure that she would deliver offspring in this country, a practice that we typically call the production of an "anchor baby."  This past week she delivered her third and fourth such offspring, a set of twins, in Washington, DC.

Congratulations to Mei Xiang on this awesome moment!  Both left and right in the USA applaud this particular delivery, and unite in a celebration of the twins and in their hope for a long life for them -- here.

As you have probably already figured out, no one is threatening to deport Mei Xiang, and no one except me -- in a moment, I'll explain -- is concerned about the citizenship of the two little twins.  That's because Mei Xiang is, in fact, a mama panda, residing in the National Zoo.

Her citizenship, and that of her panda cubs though, is of great interest to me.

The pandas in the USA zoos, including Mei Xiang, are "on loan" from China, our friend and currency manipulator, hacker of our computers and networks, and threat to our allies in Taiwan and elsewhere.  They wave their pandas around as some kind of indication that the Chinese dictators are actually much like those cuddly pandas they lend our zoos, as opposed to murderers, currency manipulators, serial hackers and, by the way, one of our largest creditors.

I know that, by agreement, the cubs of these lent panda ambassadors still belong to the Chinese, but gee, laws don't really mean all that much to this Administration, so why should panda agreements be any more sacred, especially when they were established before Obama was immaculated?

Really, tell me if you didn't think this, too: It was only a few days earlier that there was even a hint that Mei Xiang was expecting, and the word "twins" wasn't on the radar.  Then almost immediately after the pregnancy watch comes word that there were twins.  I know my very first reaction was this -- since no one knew she was even pregnant, and now there are twin cubs, why not celebrate one of them, and quietly spirit the other off to some other zoo on the down low, let it grow up and not tell the Chinese? 

That being my first thought, my second will not surprise you: Those cubs were born in the USA, even though born to an alien without a visa, and regardless of any agreements to the contrary, they are Americans now!  How can we regard them as belonging to another country if they were born here?

So I think that one of the presidential candidates -- Carly Fiorina, are you listening? ... Ben Carson? -- should put a stake in the ground and claim that if the left is so all-fired supportive of the 14th Amendment when it comes to anchor babies, they should be claiming the same for the panda cubs!  No more default to Chinese ownership; they were born here and cannot be deported.  Yep, the little cubs are indeed, to use the "offensive" term, anchor pandas!

No matter what we do about citizenship, I also strongly suggest that we name the panda cubs, not with cutesy Chinese names but, in deference to their hacking of our Federal networks after Revolutionary American figures instead -- perhaps George Washington or Betsy Ross.  Once the Chinese try to take them back to China, they can name the cubs anything they want, but while they're here it's George and Betsy.

However unserious I am about this, it is always fun to expose the hypocrisy of the left, finding jolly ways to point out that their statements and actions in comparable situations can differ depending on the political exigency and whatever the narrative is they want to press.

So while no, I believe in the sanctity of contracts and don't really want to challenge the totalitarian Chinese government's rights to the panda cubs, I do want for someone to bring this up, and contrast the leftists' spokesmen's expected sputtering statements with their attitudes toward actual human anchor babies.

What will the left say? The one -- panda cubs -- should be returned, at least in ownership, to the Chinese.  The other -- babies born here to Mexican or Southeast Asian parents to establish citizenship --  shouldn't be returned to their countries of origin whose economies, if you believe the Washington Post, rely on their labor (well, they say ours does, so that's an easy analogy).  Reconcile that, if you can.

They're cute and cuddly, and they should be ours.  At least we should talk about it.

   Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Are These "Babies", Too, Mrs. Clinton?

This one I don't need to link you to.

Presumably you have all followed, or been exposed to, the very interesting exchange between Donald Trump and a questioner in his audience last week about "anchor babies", the babies born in the USA to illegal aliens in an effort to claim citizenship for the baby (in a specific, but challenge-worthy interpretation of the 14th Amendment) and oblige the Government not to deport their parents on niceness grounds.

The questioner asked him if he would not use the term "anchor babies", as some people, he said, found the term "offensive."  Trump, in his inimitable way, asked the fellow what he would call anchor babies instead.  I won't use quotes because I haven't the time or inclination to look it up, but the fellow answered something like "U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants."  Trump paused ever so briefly and, implying that was far too wordy, replied that he would continue to say "anchor babies."

Hillary Clinton, never missing a chance to reply with a snide tweet and never remembering that tweets expose her hypocrisy, tweeted out "They're called babies."

Ah, Mrs. C.  So they're called "babies."  So, Hillary, the children born in this country for the purpose of illegally going around immigration law and anchoring a family unwilling to go through the legal process for entering the United States, and becoming citizens legally, well, they're "babies."

Of course they are.  And their parents are "illegally in the country" and should be deported.  And their children are indeed "babies."

So what, Hillary, do you call the children that Planned Parenthood kills by crushing them, harvesting their organs and selling at a profit?  You know, the Planned Parenthood so heavily supporting your campaign, and whose contributions you readily accept despite the fact that they make some of that money by killing and selling the parts of ...


They're also called "babies", Mrs. Clinton.  Now, I've repeatedly insisted that I don't have a hard opinion on the topic of abortion.  I certainly don't have it in the top 25 topics among those I care about in determining candidates to vote for.  Abortion is a moral issue, and moral issues are the purview of the states and local governments.  The Federal government should neither prevent nor subsidize the practice.

What I do reject is hypocrisy, and it is hypocritical to care more about babies who are created solely to get around and willfully violate immigration law, than about babies created for no greater purpose, being killed and having their organs harvested for profit.  Mrs. Clinton cannot possibly reconcile those two views, and she certainly can't wipe it clean, not with a cloth and not with a tweet.

Is it so darned hard to find political candidates on the left with a single, cohesive set of principles?

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Why Are There No Riots for Jamyla?

From the Dictionary According to Bob: "HYPOCRISY (n) -- responding in different ways to comparable situations, because one fits the actor's political narrative and the other does not [see also Sharpton, Al]"

As gunshots rip through the air in Ferguson, Missouri, riots are stoked by the shootings the past year of two black men, one a convenience-store robber and the other one who pulled a gun on police officers and paid the price for his stupidity.

Those black lives apparently matter, at least enough to get rioters to take to the streets with no possible certainty or even agreement as to what the desired end is.  I confess that I have a lot of trouble rioting on any grounds in the USA, but I can assure you that it would not be in defense of the deaths of bullies and thugs.

A different black life ought to matter even more, if only for her innocence.  That would be Jamyla Bolden, the 9-year-old little girl who was doing her homework in the presumed safety of her own bedroom, when a stray bullet from the weapon of a rioter -- I guarantee you it didn't come from a police officer -- took her life.  The sad story is here.

The words of a local minister ought to ring true.  From the article:  "There needs to be a reevaluation of human life: (whether) black, white, young, seasoned, whether in Ferguson, or areas considered affluent," Pastor Willis Johnson told KMOV. "This has to stop. This epidemic of lost life under false pretense and of no real significant reason has to change."

Dear God, yes, it has to change.

This piece will be short and to the point.  It is not the actions of the police that have to change, certainly not much.  Somewhere there are communities that need to reach deep within themselves.  They need to look, not to the churches where charlatans like Al Sharpton and vicious bigots like Jeremiah Wright spew garbage, racism and dissension, but to the true houses of God, where is found the word of the Lord and the salvation that can be found, we Christians believe, through His Son.

They need to seek the word of their God, regardless of faith, sect or denomination, where it is preached as a message of peace.  They need to find in their own souls the vision of a community of humanity where wrongs are redressed not through riots, through looting, through burning and, sadly, through gunfire that costs the lives of the innocent, but through true justice, the courts of man and His final justice.

"This epidemic of lost life under false pretense and of no significant reason has to change."  Exactly, Pastor Johnson.  It is entirely a false pretense to fire weapons in the street to protest the death of men of evil will.  It is of no significant reason to loot, riot and burn.

And now Jamyla Bolden, who hadn't grown nearly enough to recognize the evil that rose in those who fired the shots, will be laid to rest before, as her father noted sadly, she had seen the world.

Her life mattered, and tonight I cry for it, and for the insanity of those who know no better.  May God make His face to shine upon her for eternity, and may the lesson of her short life quiet those who should know better, and cause them to lay down their arms and their animosity together.

The hypocrisy of those who don't see the difference, who riot for Michael Brown but don't care about Jamyla Bolden, is on trial today.

  Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

What It Is, or Isn't, about Jeb

If you watch the coverage of the Republican candidates, you certainly are aware that the Donald Trump phenomenon -- The Donald sucking all the air out of the room no matter how many candidates are in the same location --is quite real.  We watch in rapt attention as he is guaranteed to say or do something that will grab the headlines and choke off the air supply to the other 15 candidates.

What I watch, however, is also how the remaining gasps of air (time) are allocated to the others in the field.  After the debate, for example, extra chunks of coverage went to Carly Fiorina, who had a great debate on the undercard, some to Marco Rubio who was excellent on the main, prime-time stage, and also to ... Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush?  Was he even there at the debate?  Nobody, not even his family, could think that Jeb had anything other than a steady, non-threatening, vanilla debate.  He had a debate performance so dramatically undramatic, so perfectly in keeping with his actual persona, that it is hard to recall anything he did or said.  But he was prominent on the news thereafter, and that's a mystery.

Now, let's get this out of the way.  John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush is distinguished by more than his last name and being the son and brother of former presidents.  He is a competent speaker, was certainly an excellent and popular governor in Florida, and would be a competent, if unspectacular president.  He speaks Spanish, not a bad thing (I suspect that Hillary only knows the word "dinero").  I really don't have any animus toward Jeb, and wouldn't cry if he were president.

But I would cry if he were the nominee.

Conservatism needs both a spokesman (to make the case) and a leader (to implement it).  The problem with Jeb is that he is just not a spokesman for anything.  Ted Cruz can sell.  Marco Rubio can sell, albeit in a different way, and speaks equally fluent Spanish.  Christie, Fiorina, even Ben Carson, in a completely different manner, can sell.  Trump, well, of course -- the guy doesn't even use notes!  Jeb, well, not so much.

And we need someone not just to execute with Congress but to persuade the people in the general election of the need for conservative, constitutional principles to rescue the country.  That's not always an easy sell.  Communication skills are squarely at the top of the list.

So why is Bush, who is consistently at the upper-middle of polling (I'll bet it's for the reasons just noted), getting any air time at all? Why, for example, is Fox, of all networks, paying more attention to him than to Ben Carson?

Look, I understand that the blather about the "establishment" isn't really blather, and that a composite of big donors and the inert Republicans in Congress, along with some inside-the-Beltway writers, are probably big Jebbites, perhaps because they see some inevitability that I don't.

I've already explained what I want to see in a candidate, and that hasn't changed a bit.  If I, or the "establishment", or Fox News Channel, wants to see a Republican in the White House in 2017 as something other than a visitor, the party needs to select a candidate who can convince non-conservatives to trust him or her as their president.  The Electoral College math is simply too fragile to entrust the nomination to "slow but steady."  It's not about how to win the nomination; it's about winning the election.

So why the extra air time for Jeb, we ask; why so much featured time?  I can only assume that between the donors, the friends in Congress and in the media, they prefer the reliable and inoffensive former governor to those who push the envelope a bit.  If their disproportionate airing of him (vs. non-Trumps) is any indication, Fox News wants him to be the nominee, even if the rank and file in the party do not.

I believe in conservative principles.  I want my fellow Americans to learn to believe in them, too, but I don't have the bully pulpit to advocate for them, unless you consider this column for the last year as advocacy of a kind.  That's why I want a candidate who can really get gritty, envelope-pushing and strong in their presentation of their convictions.  At least half a dozen of the current candidates fit that model.

Jeb, alas, does not.  He needs to be a reliable supporter of whoever is the nominee instead.  That, I believe, I could support.

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Baltimore Rioters Picking Lettuce -- THERE'S a Thought

Yesterday's lead editorial in the Washington Post was immensely dismissive of the immigration plan -- which should be called the "illegal immigrants plan" since it only affects immigrants who are in the country illegally (which makes them criminals, by the way) -- proposed by your friend, and the friend of bloggers everywhere, Donald Trump.

Now, the editorial staff over there are not big fans of The Donald, for sure.  But I have to struggle with their rationale about why the plan is so bad.  You can read it yourself, which is why I linked it reluctantly, but if you can't bear to be associated with the Post, and who can blame you, here is the essence.  They feared most prominently that if all the illegals were deported, the economies of a few states, such as California, would tank even further because they were so reliant on illegal labor (of course, they used the term "undocumented", which makes them sound more like lost sheep than criminal aliens).

Then they got really creative, and went to their Department of Statistical Abstraction, the same people who brought you the piece I savaged the other day here.  They came up with this interesting factoid:

"Even if every unemployed American in those states took an undocumented worker’s job — wildly unlikely, given that most Americans are unwilling to do the dirty jobs filled by many immigrants — it would still leave hundreds of thousands jobs unfilled."

 So what does that say about the editorial board's view of the situation?  That apparently it is perfectly fine to allow growers in California to pay -- illegally, and likely in cash under the table untaxed -- illegal aliens.  And that that process is better than forcing the growers to hire legal residents of the USA, with real Social Security numbers and who have to file real Form 1040 paperwork at the end of the year.  It's better than using Americans to do the work.

It's better, in the eyes of the Post, to let the borders swing wide open and keep millions of illegals here than to bus out to those fields the entire unemployed population of, say, Baltimore or Chicago or other places plagued by violence, which the left continually ascribes to lack of economic opportunity -- i.e., jobs!

The jobs are there, people.  We shouldn't care if every unemployed American went to one of the places with those "dirty jobs" and there were still jobs left over, should we?  It would result in full employment and, assuming that we had the borders controlled, it means that we could do H-1 visas specifically for the people with skills needed to fill out those leftover jobs!

I just can't get over the gall that the Post has, to write that there are jobs that Americans are unwilling to do even if they're unemployed.  How on earth do you write that and then ever -- even once -- again complain about inner city unemployment.  Those jobs picking lettuce, or whatever, are precisely what I tried to avoid by going into hock to get an education.  How do you think I feel watching unemployed young men and women burn down parts of their community, and have the apologetic left say it's because there are no jobs -- when there absolutely are jobs, so many of them that growers have to use illegal aliens to do them?

I don't know if it is logistically feasible for Trump's plan actually to be done; deporting a few million people is quite an effort.  But if you're going to challenge the logistics, at least admit that the man has a vision as a starting point to work the kinks out of.  That's quite a bit more than some of his rivals for the nomination have, and certainly beyond anything any Democrat has, or ever will, come up with.

This should be required reading in Baltimore.  Let them pick lettuce.  Maybe they'll get the incentive to look for something better for themselves and, you know, earn it.
 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oh, Those Wacky Participation Trophies

Well, I just had to comment on this one.  If you happen to have had your TV turned off for a few days, or you only watch the Kardashians, you might have missed it -- but no one else did.  James Harrison, a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, made some headlines when he returned some trophies his children had been given for participating on a sports team.

Harrison's very public pronouncement of his action, which in the Twitterverse becomes not only easy but commonplace, created a storm of response, mostly supportive but, either way, getting the topic out there.  Since he is an athlete, he's easy for the tweeters to attack, but because he is black and also trying to be a good father, there is a built-in shield from excessive critique.

So where we are now is that the whole topic of participation trophies is now being kicked around the news-like programs, and will continue to be until a squirrel runs across the scene, or the FBI finds another 305 classified emails to have been stored on Hillary Clinton's private server, or until Donald Trump says, well, anything.

And that brings me to my take.

I have two sons.  They are 41 and 34, and participated in a lot of things, including sports teams.  Accordingly, there were a few participation trophies that littered their rooms over the years.  For me, in high school in the 1960s, I was more thought of as a student than an athlete, and for good reason.

Decades past though they have, I still recall that there was a participation "trophy" that has been awarded for more than a century, and about which no one complains, because it does recognize participation as achievement and very suitably.  It's called the "varsity letter."

Nominally, it reflects participation, but it is valued because, unlike Little League, you have to make the team and stay with the team to earn it.  Watch the movie "Rudy" a few more times and you'll see a guy who gets what the value of that particular "participation trophy" actually is.  I graduated high school with seven athletic letters, including for basketball which, if you saw how tall I am not, and was not, you'd know why that's so odd.  But I prize that letter, because I had to overcome a lot to get it.

But I really digress.

I could not possibly come down any stronger on the side of James Harrison on this one.  Even if you forget that this is about trophies and participation and all that, you're left with some core basics that you have to admire, specifically:
- Here is a man caring about imparting actual values to his kids and caring enough to do so
- Here is a man teaching his kids good values; in this case, that what you earn is to be valued
- Here is a man teaching his kids why what you earn has value, and why faking it is worthless
- Here is a man willing to take the extraordinary step of taking something from his kids to teach that lesson.

I don't pretend to know what it is like to be a black father today, and yes, I keep stressing his race because given the preponderance of fatherless homes with black children today, his example is particularly important.  But there's a broader context to take all this in.

We in the USA are being gradually choked by almost $20 trillion in Federal debt.  We spend over $1.50 for every dollar taken in by the Government, and much of that is for debt service and entitlements.  When you have borrowed $20 trillion, you have $20 trillion worth of creditors, and that includes some folks who are tapping our phones and reading our emails -- they're not all good people we owe.

That debt is dangerous, and it is exacerbated by the fact that almost half of the USA does not pay any income tax -- Mitt Romney's infamous but accurate "47%" line.  When you aren't paying, you're receiving, and eventually you feel entitled -- so entitled that you don't feel the need to earn anything, which I italicized because it's the exact word that James Harrison used to refer to the trophies he said he would allow his kids to keep as opposed to the ones he returned.  He said "Earn."

The entitlement mentality is absolutely pernicious among the workable poor, which is what leads to the victimization narrative seen in Baltimore after the Freddie Gray incident and the subsequent rioting.  The rioters had clearly never "earned" anything in their lives, so they did not value anything and were perfectly willing to loot their neighborhood and have it burn.  Simple as that.

James Harrison should be a hero to every parent, black or white, who tries to teach values and appreciation and hard work to his or her kids.  I truly hope that there are parents all across the country, married and single, black, white and whatever, for whom a light turns on and the message is received.

In 1969, I finished my high school career with a speech at graduation.  If I recall the warning to my classmates 46 years ago correctly, I said this: "When Stokely Carmichael shouts 'burn, baby, burn', it gets everyone excited.  But when Bayard Rustin says 'learn, baby, learn', who listens?"  My point was that it's so much easier to act entitled and value nothing.

The message of James Harrison is refreshing and necessary: "Earn, baby, earn!"

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Monday, August 17, 2015

Lies, Darn Lies, Statistics and Washington Post Editorials

Last week the Washington Post, which I subscribe to in case I someday get a bird and need cage liner, published a lead, featured editorial, right at the top of the lead, featured editorial space.  It was titled "Donald Trump is an Aimless, Angry Leader" (you can read it here if your Yahtzee game has gotten boring and you need a diversion), and sought to show us that The Donald was only running because he was angry, not because he represented any actual sentiment in the country.

The Post did its expected blast defending political correctness, of which the Donald admittedly has none, nor time for any, and went on like this:

"A couple of points about Mr. Trump’s following and its anger: It does not represent a majority of the GOP, much less the country; 23 percent of Americans identify as Republicans, and Mr. Trump is the choice of about a quarter of them, for now."

The paper's online version provided links to the "23 percent" statistic and the reference to Trump being the choice of "about a quarter of them", in case anyone doubted their figures.  But particularly the latter figure is so out of proportion with the point being made that it is published to be intentionally deceptive.

Really, how do you read their point?  I read it as them saying that Trump's support is only coming from about 6% of the USA -- about a quarter of the one-quarter of Americans calling themselves Republicans.  Can they have meant anything else?  And that, being representative of only 6% of the nation, his views, his attitude and his approach can be summarily dismissed, Pilate-like.

But I ask you what, oh great Post editorial writer, so self-imbued with pretense that you actually refer to yourself as "we", if that support were in fact closer to 50% of the country?  Well, that would be terrible, would challenge your liberal pomposity, and cause you great distress.  One can only imagine why you doctored the figures as you did.

For example ... Neither I nor my best girl have decided whom we plan to vote for in the primary here in Virginia next Super Tuesday, were all 17 candidates (17, right?) still to be on the ballot.  I mean, we like a lot of them as presidential candidates, to where there are very few whom we would have trouble pulling a lever for that November.  That group we like includes The Donald, although I would not have him on top of my list of 17 in a primary -- simply because there are a few we like "even more", and you can only vote for one.

There may be only 23 percent of Americans calling themselves "Republicans", sure, but over 47% of the voters in the last presidential election and over 51% of the voters in the last election for the House of Representatives pulled the lever next to the "Republican" candidate.  For the record, those polls on what people call themselves don't mean squat, but the election results sure do.

So if the Post were to make a statistically-backed statement purporting to show that hardly anyone really supported what Mr. Trump was saying, it really needed to use statistically-relevant numbers, not pulling things that may be accurate in their original context but contextually irrelevant -- OK, deceptive -- for their piece.

How many Americans really agree, totally or mostly, with the anger the Donald shows toward ISIS, toward trading enemy generals for a single deserter, toward congressional capitulation, toward byzantine income tax law, toward Chinese and Russian hacking, and toward political correctness run amok?

Well, how about we start not with those who call themselves "Republicans" in a poll, but who actually voted for Republicans in he last election.  Then, we look not just at those who have Trump at the very top of their list, but those who share his views but find another of the many candidates equally or even more favored when the pollsters call?

In other words, it's not relevant to ask if Trump is their choice (the "quarter" the editorial cites), but rather "would you be willing to vote for him if he were the nominee" or "do you share his general views even if you favor a different candidate in the primary."  I daresay you would be far closer to 75-80% of people who voted Republican last time around -- if not more.  Especially if the choice were Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

Then you could add to that all the people who didn't vote Republican last time, or didn't vote at all, and ask them the same question.  Add those folks in, and before long you're at a far higher percentage of Americans than those who, say, trust the editorial writer of the Washington Post.  Certainly higher than the 6% the editorial tried to imply.

It's usually pretty easy to take the Post to task for being wrong about -- well, so many things.  Since liberalism doesn't actually, you know, work, but they continue to advocate for it, it's generally simple.  It's when they get explicitly deceptive and crooked that you need to take them to task.  And hopefully I have -- excuse me, "we" have -- done so today.

We can only credit The Post with this one good thing, thanks to John Philip Sousa. 

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Friday, August 14, 2015

Let's Get THIS Amendment Started -- Now!

A few weeks back we were treated to a guest column from my MIT classmate Ed Fenstermacher, which dealt with young people letting their "destiny" be dictated to them rather than taking it on themselves.  A few days back, after my wrap-up piece on the Bill of Rights, Ed was kind enough to send me a lengthy message in comment, which included a suggested constitutional amendment I should give thought to.

Now, I don't have the readership of, say, a Mark Levin, who has actually taken time to write a book (a great Christmas present I got last year) suggesting some amendments which would greatly benefit the USA and enhance the reach of the Constitution.  I actually don't get to listen to Mr. Levin all that often, and so do not know if any actual effort to press these amendments has ever been made to Congress.  I certainly don't know why not; Mark is, well, brilliant.

That said, Ed's suggested text makes so much sense, and is so needed, that it merits a real "hearing" in our legislature immediately.  It is also so much to the benefit of Congress, in leveling power in its direction, that at least one Representative should see fit to be willing to introduce it.  One can only imagine that plenty, if not almost all, of the legislatures of the States would jump on it as soon as they could.

The text is simple, the concept very similar to one of those proposed by Mr. Levin in his book. As Ed actually drafted it, it reads:

No regulation proposed by any Federal Government agency shall have the force of law unless passed by Congress in the same manner as other laws.  No regulation currently in effect shall be enforced past five years from the passage of this amendment unless explicitly passed by Congress.

By "same manner", Congress would be expected to have a process for the validation of executive regulations that either (A) mirrors the manner in which Federal law is passed (in terms of its drafting and the percentages required for approval to sustain an Executive-Branch regulation before it is enforceable) or (B) is law, so that such regulations do not exist in the Executive Branch at all but only in the U.S. Code.

I cannot possibly say that this circumvents the Framers' intent in the Constitution; rather, it reinforces the notion that law is the purview of the legislature (duh) and the power to legislate -- and, more importantly, to create a state of illegality -- was given to Congress.

You have to love that its impact would be to sever regulations from the functions of the Cabinet departments.  They could "do" or "execute" -- hence their name.  But they could not "regulate" in the sense of creating rules which citizens must follow -- that would require them to go to Congress and ask for legislation.  They could administer what Congress has granted them legal authority to do then, just like they were formed to do.  But the only rules they could create would be their internal operations, covering their employees.

Every such effort has unintended consequences.  They're usually determined by imagining through the eyes of the non-participant how they would take advantage of this.  And I think Congress should certainly consider those consequences in taking up the amendment.  Do we handcuff our Defense Department through this, or is it not an issue because DoD doesn't really put rules on civilians?  Are we prepared to deal with the many regulations of the IRS, which pretty much only affect civilian citizens, or does that become the incentive for Congress to repeal and replace the tax code?

How many regulations has the Department of Labor promulgated that Congress has never sniffed, let alone voted on?  And whose lobbying to Labor has gotten them written as they have been?  How many of those "rules" are completely one-sided with no input from opposing voices?

What would the EPA do if it actually had to justify its rules to Congress to get them approved?  Might we not find ourselves forced to compromise for the sake of passage, with both sides -- business and the environment -- actually represented?

I love it.  I typically tweet out links to these essays to a few dozen readers every day, including members of Congress and presidential candidates.  To them I say that this brilliantly conceived proposed amendment to the Constitution should be taken up in committee promptly, while Congress's two houses actually talk with each other ... I think.

Let us balance powers, and balance them now.

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Must We Really Save H&R Block?

I'm an inveterate stationary bike-rider.  Each weekday I roll out of bed and stagger down to the basement to work out, and a lot of that is done on the bicycle, naturally with the TV on.  Eight miles ain't much, but it's a half-hour.

The other day Donald Trump was on Fox and Friends, and I watched the whole interview -- sometimes watching The Donald is like watching a train wreck, sometimes a revelation, but it's always compelling TV.  Donald Trump is not rhythmic gymnastics.

In the course of the interview, he approached a question about where he would want to go with tax structures, if he were to be president.  Now, I can summarize what he said pretty readily -- he was for simplification in a big way, whether based on the currently-discussed "fair tax" or "flat tax" or whatever; the point was that he thought the current system to be useless.

As he explained his position, he made the typical Trump verbal gesture flair, in this case by saying that he'd like to "put H&R Block out of business."  I have actually not seen anyone comment on that -- still waiting for some lefty columnist to go on about his expanding the unemployment rate by doing that -- but it sure made me think.

I hate to admit the fact that I know a lot of really nice people who are accountants, or who do taxes, but I do, and they're nice enough folks.  I'm sure if you asked them, they would far rather be doing accounting than tax, and The Donald simply wants to help them keep books rather than do 1040s and 1120s all spring.

But I digress, a little.

As I seriously thought through the whole thing, I let my mind wander, as I often do when my lower half is trying to keep up a 15 mph pace without the rest of me going anywhere.  And I started to formulate a question based on what Trump had said in his H&R Block comment.

A few days ago, I wrote about demand for goods and services being what made a business necessary, whether a grocery or a tire store or a physician's office.  In the course of life, demand creates need, and needs seek to be filled.  Demand is best created because of the need of people and business; it is least productive for society as a whole when it is government creating the need, because government saps its fuel from the wallets of the public.

But government created a separate kind of demand when it let the income tax code metastasize into the out-of-control, stinking tumor it is today.  Why?  Because through the byzantine law under we tax our citizens and businesses today, government has forced people into creating a demand for a service that only exists because of the convolutions of the law!  In other words, the tax law, which is not necessary and could easily be replaced with a simple code, forces people to pay huge amounts for a service that doesn't do them any productive good.

I've often thought about the impact that simplifying or flattening the tax code would have upon the accounting profession, and Lord knows I've written about the tax code, like here.  But really, who truly wants to be in a profession that only exists because the government is too stupid and corrupt to produce a simplified tax law that almost every citizen can deal with on his or her own?

I suppose that while the news media continue to bash Trump for his various stream-of-consciousness statements, I hope he stays around for a while.  Every time he does an interview, it's almost a certainty that he will say something -- maybe not the thing the pundits report on, but something -- that makes you look at what was a political issue in a different way.  And gives me a column, thank you very much.

Donald Trump may not be the candidate of the Republicans in November 2016, but as long as he hangs around, he makes us think in a new way.

And new thinking would not hurt this country, even a little.

  Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wrappng It Up with the Tenth Amendment

This is the last in a series of pieces on the Bill of Rights, so thanks to my brother Rich for the suggestion to do it.  It has been an interesting trip back into history and an interesting "return trip" to see what the implications each Amendment has on today's society and what consequences accrue because of the rights enshrined in each.

The Tenth Amendment is an utterly fantastic summary of what the Framers had in mind as far as the role of government in the lives of the citizens of the newly-hatched USA, and they did it with characteristic terseness.  The words resonate on the marbled walls of history:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

How, I ask us as citizens of the USA in 2015, can there be any doubt what the Constitution has said as the law of the land?  If the Constitution does not say that something is the role of the Federal Government, then it is not the role of the Federal Government!

It is not the role of the Federal Government to:

- Educate children or dictate how they are to be educated
- Regulate the relationship between employers and employees
- Decide what temperature the climate is supposed to be
- Regulate the production and distribution of energy
- Run hospitals -- even for our veterans
- Manage health insurance marketplaces
- Insure people who choose to live by the sea against flooding
- Etc., etc., etc., etc. .... 

Can there even be a more clear dividing line between the raw definition of liberals and conservatives, than how the Tenth Amendment is regarded?  After all, it is practically a defining tenet of conservatism that government in America is intended to provide what the Constitution designates to be its role and no more.  Government takes taxation reluctantly to provide the services that it must; it is not designed to seize funds from its citizens for ever-expanding roles for itself.

Government is not the employer of first resort, trying to lower unemployment rates by assuming the power to do ever more that business, the citizenry and states can do better and hiring at taxpayer expense to do so.  Liberals, of course, regard that as the fundamental purpose of government.

It's a bit hard to refer to the "consequences" today of the Tenth Amendment when the Federal Government appears not to find itself obligated to obey it. 

In a couple of the pieces in this series I have referred to court cases I'd like to see.  So here are a few possibles -- what might happen if someone who were somehow affected -- let's say perhaps fined -- by the Department of Energy, were to turn around and sue for the reversal of the fine and the dissolution of the entire department and dismissal of its employees, on the grounds that the Tenth Amendment provides for the management of energy policy to be reserved to the States and the people?

Now, I could see a Supreme Court -- even some of the more conservative justices -- deciding that the Department of Energy was, effectively, "administering interstate commerce", given the power grid and all, and not going along with that.  So perhaps the better example would be for an individual, or even a State, to find some aggrievement in an action of the Department of Education and sue for its dissolution on Tenth Amendment grounds.

Wouldn't you like to see that?  Wouldn't Justice Scalia have a field day with the defending Administration trying to get them to weave some convoluted logic map as to how Federal influence in education is warranted -- no, how it is even allowed by the Constitution?  How hard would that be?  I have to believe that somewhere there is a State which has been denied funding based on some policy of the Education Department, and able to sue on that ground.

I'd like to see a veteran's family who died while awaiting an appointment at a VA hospital sue for the dissolution of the VHA (the part of the Veterans Affairs department that handles VA hospitals and insurance) and insist on court-mandated privatization of VA hospitals on the same grounds -- that the delivery of health care to civilians, no matter to whom, is a power not given to the Federal Government and, therefore, reserved to the States and to the people.

We are engaged in a memorable campaign with a dozen-plus legitimate contenders vying to run for the presidency.  It is, more than ever, time to make this at least in part a debate on the proper role of the Federal Government, not simply philosophically but because it is specifically bound by the exact wording and Framers' intent found in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

It has been a pleasure to read the words of the Bill of Rights this past few weeks, and emerge not only with a refreshed admiration for the work of its authors, but also with an encouragement to share with my readers to take its tenets a step forward.

Rights, as I wrote in the piece on the Ninth Amendment, are the currency of exchange between a people and the government they have created to protect them.  Like all currency, they are valuable and precious and, like all currency, lose that value when their underpinning, whether gold or the full faith and credit of their issuer, is devalued.

May we love, respect and cherish the rights granted to us by the first true citizens.

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Downstream for Netflix -- It Won't Be What they Think

Over the past week there has been a lot of discussion on the airwaves about Netflix and their new leave policy granting a year's paid leave to new parents.  Coming on the heels of some states looking at or passing laws mandating more generous leave policies, particularly forced granting of sick leave, this is really worth looking at.

Because, as always, there are unintended consequences, same as there would be with the inane proposal by the White House to mandate sick leave to be given by employers, which I ripped into little shreds in this piece.  While the left is doing their "Ooh, ooh, what wonderful people run Netflix, they're so sensitive; everyone will want to work there" thing, I'm sitting here going "I wouldn't apply there on a dare."

Let's get right to why Netflix will eventually come to regret this policy in ways they clearly hadn't thought through.  Now, Netflix is surely made up of some smart people; you don't get to be industry leaders at distributing movies someone else made, without a brain or two sitting around the office.

But perhaps those brains at Netflix are young and idealistic, and haven't developed enough cubbyholes yet, certainly not enough to think this one through to its logical conclusion.  And that "logical conclusion" relates to the fact that workplaces are, effectively, zero-sum environments.

To explain that, let me start with this: a business exists because of demand for its goods and services, and a public willingness to pay an amount for those goods and services that exceeds the cost to produce, provide and distribute them.  Make sense?  It should; it's not rocket surgery.

At the same time, there is a fairly consistent amount of effort -- we call it "labor" -- needed to produce, provide and distribute them, and that is in proportion to whatever level of production the marketplace drives.  If you sell X products, or produce Y amount of services because of public demand, that equals Z amount of labor required to deliver.  Simple.  Within reason, those proportions will be pretty stable.

So let's say that Netflix in one department has 100 employees.  Three of them are pregnant at the same time, and all decide to go on parental leave for a year. During that time, as allowed, they do not work, and thus produce zero output for Netflix, though Netflix is paying them full salaries.  Now, with or without these three people -- whose salaries are still a cost to the company -- the public demand for Netflix services is the same.  So the costs to provide those services are now the same as they were before, plus three extra salaries needed to come in and do the jobs of the three people who are being paid to do nothing at all.

The work still needs to get done.  So Netflix has two options -- either (A) hire three new people from the outside as noted, hiking the cost to produce and either slashing profit to shareholder investors, or raising prices, or (B) pile the work of the missing people onto existing employees, to do their own tasks plus carry the weight of the three missing people.

It is a zero-sum game -- push down here and you have to pull up there.  The same amount of work still needs to get done.  So put this policy in place, Netflix, and after the left salutes you and tells you how wonderful you are, either:
(A) Your stock price takes a dive because of the added cost burden you've taken on without a shred of benefit (if you have to hire to get the work done)
(B) Your revenues decline because you've had to raise prices to offset the additional cost burden you've taken on without a shred of benefit (if you have to hire to get the work done)
(C) Your good, loyal and hardest-working employees start trickling out the door rather than pick up the slack for a policy that helps others but forces them to work longer and harder for no benefit (if you distribute the workload of the missing to current staff), and
(D) You start seeing a change in applicants, and not in the good way (no matter what you do)

I mean, no, I have no intention of applying to Netflix.  But it certainly does not escape me that, if I go to work there, I know I will have to work harder to make up for the people out on maternity.  Natural selection will push me away; there are plenty of more-attractive workplaces.

Look at it this way -- in any population of applicants large enough, there are going to be really diligent ones who would be attractive employees, but who are single, or don't intend to have (any more) children.  Netflix is not going to get those any more, first because they know they'd have to work more than their own jobs to make up for the parental leave policy, and second because it is clear that the policy discriminates like mad against them, and they'd see themselves as second-class employees.  When Netflix takes the next logical step and has mothers bring their infants in to work, well, you know how much fun the workplace will be for them then.

Netflix will get far fewer of those candidates, and far more of those likely to use that benefit.  What kind of impact is that going to have on Netflix?  Do you not think that if maybe 2% of their employees would use that benefit in 2015, that by 2020 it might be 6-7% just from the natural selection of applicants and the departure of those who would not use the leave?

Ah, the idealism of young CEOs.  Willing to put their company and the investments of their shareholders at risk, to take well-meaning but ultimately company-threatening steps because of their lack of vision and forethought.  Where, we ask, is their Board when sanity is needed?

Thank God they're all out in California and far away.

  Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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Monday, August 10, 2015

The Slippery Gender Slope

I suppose it's old news now, since it happened like a week ago ("That's so six o'clock yesterday!"), but you still likely recall the story of the basketball team that was thrown out of a tournament when they played a girl, Kymora Johnson of Charlottesville,Virginia, on the team in violation of the rules.

If you forgot, didn't hear about it, or have learned not to rely on me for all the facts, you can read about it here.  But truth to tell, the details aren't all that important.

This is one of those "slippery slope" things.

Personally, I'm not really interested in this whole thing about putting girls on boys' teams.  Sure, I suppose the logistics of dressing rooms and the like can be handled, buy really, why go through all that?

Besides, in our accelerating gender-neutral society, locker rooms aren't really the point.  We have always treated the female as the "weaker sex", because they, well, are.  I don't think that's really to argue; certainly at the elite athlete level where people play professionally, you will not see women capable of competing with men.

Bobby Riggs, the tennis player, showed this quite well when even at age 55 he was still able to defeat Margaret Smith Court (bet you forgot that one!) and compete reasonably well with Billie Jean King, two female tennis pros still in their prime.  The female athletes competing in sports like football, the very few that they are, are pretty much kickers.

OK, we get it.  Men are taller, stronger and faster on the whole.  Whoopee.  Not the point.

No, this is the point:  If it is OK for  Kymora Johnson of Charlottesville, Virginia to play on a boys team, then why is it not equally OK for, say, Kevin Johnson of Charlottesville, Virginia to play on a girls team?

Now, I don't want the mythical Kevin Johnson to play on a girls team, mind you.  But whatever set of moral standards is supposed to apply to distinguish the two cases, without recognizing within it what the left doesn't want to say -- that males are stronger (and, therefore, different)?  Follow what I'm saying -- if you are to advocate that it is OK for a girl to play on a boys team but not the other way around, then you have to define that there is a difference between genders -- and live within that definition in things that have nothing to do with sports.

Further -- we now have this all-encompassing leftist mindset that gender is some kind of "choice."  We can discuss that at length elsewhere.  We can debate whether someone with an X and a Y chromosome but thinks they are female is normal, or whether they're in need of medical and psychological treatment (for the record -- I do not in any way regard such people as "bad" or "evil" or "sinful" in any way and would resent any such characterization of my views that suggests that).

So at what point is the old East German joke about their Olympic female athletes being males now the American reality?  If, say, the International Olympic Committee decides to be just as gender-neutral in attitude as the White House and The View and the State of California and the Kardashians, what happens when a healthy male athlete who says in a deep bass voice "I'm a woman" decides to compete on his country's women's team?

Is it OK for a girl to play on a boys basketball team but not the other way around?  If not, then why not?  And if there is a difference, and if there is some acceptable moral defining difference between the sexes that needs to get into our moral code, then how far is that difference allowed to go?

I fear this is simply one of those cases were the left wants to have it both ways.  "Oh, how wonderful that a girl is good enough to play on a boys team, oh, oh, oh."  Sure, that's great.  How wonderful will it be when the boy that's twice the athlete his female peers is -- or is no better at all -- says he's a girl and thus wants to play on the girls team?

For God's sake, will someone please just once look at the unintended consequences of decisions before they're made?  Because as Congress can tell you, there are always unintended consequences, and they will come back and bite you.

And where they bite you doesn't depend on your gender.

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at