No duh

Two charts posted in this article at Vox “reveal” something most anyone can guess: poorer folks spend more on rent and more of their income on necessities, while wealthier folks spend more on mortgage interest and more of their income on luxuries.

What happens to things that are too big to fail?

One good rule to keep in mind from Peggy Noonan’s Wall Street Journal column contrasting Bob Simon and Brian Williams:

Things that are too big to fail, fail.

Yep.

In another WSJ opinion column on the subject of Williams, Peter Kann wrote:

In part Mr. Williams is symptomatic of larger social trends where traditional virtues like modesty and privacy have given way to the spotlight of self-promotion, where even lives too pedestrian for the paparazzi become an endless series of selfies. But, lest we descend too deeply into pop psychology, the larger blame belongs with Mr. Williams himself and the hubris of an anchorman who lacked the anchor of common sense and self-restraint.

I like how he mentions the larger ‘selfie’ trend, but still doesn’t let up on Williams’ personal responsibility in the matter.

If you really care about the poor, wouldn’t you consider that you may be wrong?

I recommend reading Dan Mitchell’s column, If We Care about the Less Fortunate, Focus on Growth Rather than Redistribution.

He writes:

If we get robust growth, that will mean tight labor markets, and that’s a big cause of rising wages.

But here’s my hypothesis to explain why statists don’t support good policies. Simply stated, I think they hate the rich more than they like the poor.

One thing that caused me to evolve away from my liberal roots is that it occurred to me one day to ask myself, What if the policies I support hurts the people that I want to help? Shouldn’t I at least consider that possibility if helping them is what I really want?

I think Mitchell makes an important point. As I opened myself to learning how such policies backfire, one barrier in my transition was the animosity I had toward ‘the rich.’ Not the rich that I knew, who I knew worked hard to earn what they had, but the faceless ‘rich’ that had been portrayed as always just wanting to tilt to the advantages in their favor and exploit the poor.

When I started bringing up points for my friends and family to consider, I caught lots of flak, in conversations that went something like this:

Me: “Maybe rent control does limit the supply for housing, making it tough for people — including the poor — to find a place to live.”

Others: “Oh well, I see you are starting to side with the slum lords now who just want to be able to gouge the poor!”

“Free and Universal Education”

Here’s a good read from Walter Williams: Tragic School Stories. In it, he writes about a book written by public high school teacher Linda Ball, called 185 Days: School Stories.

Williams references a couple of Ball’s days in school:

On Day 167, Mrs. Ball ordered a student to the in-school discipline room for disruption and being in her class without permission. When the student finally decided to leave the room, he told her, “F— you,” and then he swatted her on the head with some papers. In her Day 10 section, there’s a brief story about how respect is earned. Wesley, a student with an IQ of 140, did an outstanding job on a paper about the Enlightenment but completed only half his assignment and earned an F. Jake, a student repeating her class, told Wesley, “I have new found respect for you today.” Failure earns respect.

One theme Williams writes about: Not enough resources for education is not the problem. The problems are that some people do not value education, teachers have no power to hold students accountable for learning (or for maintaining safe and respectable behavior in the classroom) and students can get diplomas without earning them.

Another theme: What are often seen as racial disparities in society are really educational disparities, and not disparities in the education that was provided, but in the education that the person chose to receive.

In other words, is it surprising that a person who has mastered the 12th grade is more desirable of an employee than one who earned respect from peers in school by failing to do the assignments?

Something strikes me as odd though. Near the end, Williams wrote:

The bottom line is that if nothing is done to affect the home life and cultural values that produce the non-learning attitudes and climate that are the subject of Linda Ball’s “185 Days: School Stories,” there’s little that can be done to improve black education. The best that politicians can do is to give parents and children who are serious about education a mechanism to opt out of rotten schools. That option is something the education establishment fights tooth and nail against.

I wonder why that is. Why is it that a teacher’s union that has its members in situations that Linda Ball describes in her book isn’t more open to changing the system too allow them more power to hold students accountable and award degrees only to those who earned them.

Making it illegal for low-skilled workers to compete on price

From a commenter at Cafe Hayek:

Note also that people who are against large retailers because mom and pop shops can’t compete with them on price are all for a minimum wage that ensures mom and pop businesses will never be able to compete on price.

Though, I thought she was going to say, Note also that people who are against large retailers because mom and pop shops can’t compete with them on price are all for a minimum wage that ensures low skilled workers won’t be able to compete with higher skilled workers on price, the one area where they may be able to gain an advantage.

Politicians Get Elected by Turning Your Dreams Into Nightmares

In the State of the Union, President Obama said:

 I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.

Sounds good, since diplomas from those free (well, paid for by taxpayers) and universal (no matter how rotten they are) are worth so much.

Remember, politicians also wanted to spread the dream of home ownership. Also, recall, they turned it into a nightmare for many.

That’s Not Fair

Daniel Henninger has a good op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about President Obama’s recent stumping for the middle class, called Obama’s Peter Pan Economics.

I agree with this:

Mr. Obama is forcing Republicans to defend themselves against the undefinable progressive murk of “fairness”…

Yes. That’s what I’ve been telling friends since the State of the Union. It’s easy to say that you want to do all these great-sounding things to help the middle class when you have a Republican-controlled Congress that won’t let any of it happen. So, you and political kind can say, in upcoming elections, look at those Scrooges who are keeping you from benefiting from our good ideas and few will ask, why wasn’t this a priority when you had more support in Congress?

Henninger saves the best for last:

If in our elections the subject is America, then Republican candidates need to search for their agenda inside the American experience. Forget fair. Start with work. The rest will come.