Clive Bundy breaks out the porch monkey stereotype / slur

That’s what that slur is, ladies and gentleman.

Anyway, Bundy Ranch was fun while it lasted as whatever it was…

Here’s the thing, or a thing.  You read his words, and it’s obvious as cornpone, common man wisdom.  Rugged old-timer saying how the country is going to hell is actually a pretty standard trope.  And within what are some very unenlightened observations about black people, Bundy is not actually being malevolent, racially or otherwise.

But that’s a nuance that I don’t expect to be appreciated, and I do not lament that it’s not.  Bundy is just too retrograde and anachronistic and ignorant for Bundy and Bundy ranch to be a standard bearer for whatever we think it ought to say about limited government.

I’m mindful here that Bundy is merely expressing Paul Ryan’s version of sociology, but with phrases and wording that are now unacceptable against contemporary norms.  Inasmuch as Ryan’s words were actually acceptable themselves, this being a matter of some contention.

I am convinced this discussion of what class of people takes welfare and has babies out of wedlock is in fact completely useless.  It almost always devolves into ugliness, and there is not actually a policy question to be addressed there.   So Republicans might as well stop.  But they won’t, I’m sure.

Pardons and Commutations, more news

 This is moving along:

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/204149-justice-outlines-expanded-clemency-guidelines

I’m a bit impatient.  I could figure out who to commute in about two hours.  Given access to the incarcerated database, the query is CRIME = NONVIOLENT AND TIMESERVED > 10 YEARS.  You get back a results list, and that’s who you commute Mr. President.  Done. 

But, there is a need for process I suppose…

I asked here a couple days ago how it could be that Ronald Rodgers, Director at the Office of Pardon Attorney, was an ambiguous decision at this time.  IE, why was he still the Director.  He hadn’t forwarded any guidance to approve commutations in several years, and the guidance he did forward was materially untruthful on at least one noteworthy occasion.    He had been revealed as not faithfully executing the mission of the office and seems to have gone further in actually acting with some malice both towards the incarcerated and the President.  And ain’t that quite something?  The Obama Administration and the Holder DOJ went 5 years not bothering to observe whether they had an actual civil servant running this bureau rather than the warden from Shawshank Redemption. 

Well the ambiguity is gone.  Rodgers ‘resigned’, IE, was told to resign or be fired. 

You read the stories and you see this guy Rodgers was a Bush appointee and you might say ‘well that explains a lot’.  Who knows, maybe it does.  Rodgers was ex-military and that carries a lot of weight I guess when Republican appointments get made.

Looking back, it certainly was an awful appointment.  If that’s not bad enough, it took five years apparently to ferret this guy out as a bad apple. 

That’s the Obama administration’s fault.  Now you can certainly say, gee, they have a lot of things going on, things take the time they take.  And this is true.  But Eric Holder is the one with oversight here, and he has bad raps for incompetence and self-aggrandizement that date back to the Clinton Administration.  These ‘bad raps’ were about pardons.  Holder was the bag man when Marc Rich bribed the Clinton Administration for a pardon.  Is that expressed too harshly?  I’d be interested to know why.

Cut to 2008 – 2013, and Holder still has ‘bad raps’.  For among other things, allowing DOJ to run ill conceived gunwalking operations, spying on journalists, and giving confusing testimony to congress about each.  Even in a journalism environment completely sycophantic to the Obama Administration, Holder has always been just 1 more screw up away from having to resign.

So you figure the one place he won’t be controversial is with pardons.  And he hasn’t been, he didn’t get aggressive there, didn’t stir things up, all was quiet.  The end result of which is that this guy Rodgers got 5 years to not carry out the mission of his office, and hundreds of people who are not a danger to society got to spend 5 more years in jail.

More Piketty

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/opinion/sunday/douthat-marx-rises-again.html?ref=rossdouthat&_r=0

We’re to take it as settled that income on capital grows faster than income on labor.

I can accept that.  I’m trying to figure out structurally why that is, and then why it should bother anyone.

Thing is, you can leverage capital and assets to goose your returns.  You can’t leverage your labor to goose your returns.

With capital, you can reinvest your returns immediately to beget more returns.  You can compound them.  With labor, you work your 8 hour day.  You can not compound that.

Then, capital is probably somewhat more inexpensive to maintain than labor.

So it’s the natural order, perhaps for benign reasons Piketty would affirm.  But apparently this is also in need of solving, maybe with a taxation regime that slows the ability of capital to grow.

The pardoning

If we’re to have a uber-lefty  President, as we do, you figure one of these days a bunch of pardons and commutations will get issued.  Some justice will get redistributed, with the figurative boot coming off the neck of several thousand non-violent people who were oversentenced.  The jails will get emptied out, by decree.

This will be a good thing, and I’m all for it.

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-plans-clemency-for-hundreds-of-drug-offenders–162714911.html

The President and the Attorney General’s paralysis here is atrocious.

How is it that this Ronald Rodgers problem is actually a problem?  Does he not report to anyone?  Fire him.  Ask him to resign Mr. Holder and President Obama.

How is it that the President and jay Carney are not asked about this publicly?

Liberals hunting down their apostates

There has been a lot of this going on.  Jonathon Chait is suffering from it acutely, though we have not discussed his case so much yet.  I’d like to sometime soon.

No sooner than the Slate CEO pay article appears, Danny Vinik on TNR denounces it:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117441/liberals-want-raise-taxes-rich-help-poor

The ostensible harms of income inequality are expressed better by Vinik here; there’s some thought income inequality correlates to lower economic growth.

You know, maybe there is a correlation, broadly.  Thing is, SFW.  Correlations are not causality, and CEO pay would have nothing to do with it for reasons of mechanics that we (which is to say, “I”) explained here.  IE, CEO stock option grants are magic transactions where corporate boards create monetary value out of thin air, for which there are several immediate beneficiaries and no losers.

There’s no plausible explanation that can be offered by anyone to explain how this transaction retards broader economic growth that would be otherwise benefitting the middle class. None.

None. None. None.

Indeed, there’s an obvious argument to be made that if you overtax these transactions, companies will stop doing them.  At that point, it’s not that the wealth goes to the worker.  It’s that it doesn’t get created at all.  Further, there’s no piece for the government to get as taxes, those taxes going to social programs that do benefit the lower and middle classes.

There’s a certain level of purposeful obtuseness that has to be maintained for a guy to overlook the mechanics and not get this.

Fawning Idolatry: more Chris Colabello

Here’s where we are with the Twins, and what’s changed:

  • Colabello made the roster probably with the expectation he would be a platoon righty, and a 6 hitter in the order.  A part time role, maybe say 350 at bats over the season.  Well he had good games right off the bat, and they never got around to using whatever platoon lineups they had cooked up.  Colabello has played in every game and now he’s the full time cleanup hitter.  He’s been effective.  This could change, but there aren’t obvious candidates to replace him.
  • It’s foolish maybe to speculate on Colabello’s future stardom, but he has by now been exposed as a bona fide major league hitter.  There’s not much reason he can’t get to 100 rbi’s this year if he stays productive as the cleanup hitter. 
  • A comparable for Colabello is Kevin Millar, who also came out of indy ball and got a late start in the majors.  Millar had a nice career nonetheless.  http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/millake01.shtml
  • We were all despondent a week ago, because the starting pitching hasn’t been great, but Twins are 8-7 now, Nolasco and Gibson having come around.  You know how many decent starting pitchers it takes to have a decent ballclub?  Two.  So I think there’s some reasonable hope now that the Twins can win 75 – 81 games this season.
  • I don’t see much hope for Mike Pelfrey.  His stuff isn’t good.  I’m having visions of http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bergmse01.shtml

Income inequality: I’ll have some finite pie. Or not.

High CEO pay isn’t harmful.

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_edgy_optimist/2014/04/top_ceo_pay_income_inequality_isn_t_as_harmful_as_we_think.html

The article discusses generally how impossible it’s been to actually prove that executive pay exacerbates income inequality.  And Biden economist Jared Bernstein and other insiders are in the position of having to subtley acknowledge that, there being no good studies with relationships that correlate.

How could there be?  I mean, as a matter of statistics maybe yes, high CEO pay increases the gini.  But the implicit assertion of the income inequality monger is that CEO’s are taking money that could as a matter of corporate discretion be directed to worker salaries or to lower product prices.

Well that’s not true because that’s not how it works in almost all cases.  You look at Ellison, his pay isn’t taken from a corporate pot that could be used somewhere else if it wasn’t going to him.  In reality he gets a million or two or five or whatever in W2 cash pay.  The rest is a stock grant, and that stock is deemed into existence by the board of directors at bonus time.

There’s 3 big winners in a transaction like this.  Ellison, who gets paid.  The company, who gets to invent money (stock) into existence to make that payment.  And the government, who simultaneously gets to take 20 – 40% of the transaction as an income tax.

The public at large is not an obvious winner here, but nor are they a loser.  Change the tax rules to disincentive that sort of pay, and maybe it ceases to happen.  But that money doesn’t then get redirected to the worker or get reflected as lower on the shelf prices.