Random Thoughts

  1. Commercials tell us that if you buy an expensive electric car. You too can be cool and black. Aren’t there any cool white people?
  2. ED commercials during pro football games. You too can look like a physical specimen. 
  3. Saw an EV commercial that boasted that an 80 percent charge took ‘only’ 18 minutes. How would you react if it took ‘only’ 18 minutes to fill up at the pump?
  4. Hair growth ads during baseball games. Only old bald men still watch baseball (like me).
  5. ED commercials during football games. Nuff said.
  6. If Hollywood is so woke then why all the gun violent movie trailers?
  7. If Hollywood is so woke then why only one black actress winning Oscar for best actress – all the rest are supporting actresses.
  8. The Oscars are Hollywood presenting themselves awards. Is it no surprise that virtually all the awards go to people who look like themselves? Face it: Hollywood is a racist liberal progressive enclave and embodies white supremacy.
  9. I keep reading about “the shift to EVs”. The so-called shift has been amongst those who embrace the trendy. Sure EVs have great acceleration and some are fun to drive. But they make little sense unless you use it just to run around town and have a home charger. For those in multifamily dwellings and those living in apartments, EVs don’t make sense. Makes me wonder about how China is managing these problems.
  10. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Omar’s ouster from the foreign affairs committee was simply theatre. She and her proponents said it was because she was an African Muslim woman. In fact she is an African Muslim woman who is openly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel raising the question whether she should be on a committee that deals with issues of national security.
  11. Some openly attacked the Republicans in Congress as being racist. AOC hyperventilated that the action showed “the Republican Party’s continued racist attack “and “incitement of violence against women of color in this body.” Cori Bush linked Omar’s ousting to the presence of white supremacy in the Congress. So much for comity. Of course, the four black republicans who voted to oust Omar must also be anti-black, anti-women of color and white supremacists. Give me a break.
  12. If Omar was booted for being an African Muslim woman then were Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell ousted because they were white males and victims of white supremacy?
  13. So why did Biden wait so long to have the Chinese balloon shot down? Once it entered US airspace it should have been shot down well before it reached the lower 48. Instead Biden allows it to broadcast information back to China as it flows over our military installations. He shoots it down over the Atlantic instead. This was lunacy – unless Biden is a Chinese agent. 
  14. Did you notice that Ron DeSantis was attacked for opposing the teaching of woke black history rather than the teaching of black history? None defended why critical race theory, advocating for the abolition of prisons, queer black studies and black feminism were essential parts of black history. There was even a laudatory section on the Marxist anti-family Black Lives Matter. The left accused DeSantis as opposing the teaching of black history. One headline read “What is behind DeSantis push to erase black history?” This is another illustration that the media is fostering the lie that DeSantis opposes the teaching of black history. I bet Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Bob Woodson and historic black conservatives were excluded from the original AP course.
  15. National Education Association president’s Becky Pringles defense of the AP curriculum “Black history is American history. DeSantis is stealing our students’ freedom to learn it” is sobering and shows precisely why we need to change our children being indoctrinated rather than educated in our public schools.

Speaker McCarthy

Rather than saying take this job and shove it, after 15 ballots Kevin McCarthy finally became Speaker of the House of Representatives. There was much gnashing of teeth from conservative commentators about the process. Most condemned the 20 conservative Republicans from the House’s Freedom Caucus who demanded certain concessions from McCarthy. It was apparent that at least three members, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Lauren Boebert of Colorado were never going to vote for McCarthy. Rather in the end, they voted “present” so McCarthy could be elected with a simple plurality.

I found the whole kerfuffle to be amusing. First, most of those critical of the twenty holdouts whined that since 90 percent of the Republican representatives were voting for McCarthy, that he should be elected over the objections of the 10 percent. Wasn’t this how democracy was supposed to work? Huh? Did these critics forget that this country is not a democracy but a representative republic established to protect the rights of the minority? Sean Hannity sounded like a whining leftist who bemoans the Electoral College and the unrepresentative structure of the Senate. Whether you agreed with Matt Gaetz of not, he and his cohorts embodied the spirit of the Founders. Moreover, the holdouts were representing the Republican base which for the longest has felt disrespected and ignored by the Republican establishment and McCarthy embodies the establishment.

Second, what were the concessions that McCarthy was forced to make? They were

  • No more voting on omnibus spending bills. Rather, each one of the 12 appropriation bills must be considered separately. Sounds like a good idea to me and one concession that McCarthy should have readily agreed to implement.
  • Cap discretionary spending at 2020 levels in order to balance the budget within 10 years. Again, a no brainer but one not likely to pass the Senate.
  • Create a committee to investigate the “weaponization of the Federal government.” Again, a no brainer given the actions of Merrick Garland’s Department of “Justice”.
  • The reinstitution of the law allowing for reductions in the salaries of government officials. I have long contended that Federal salaries should be the average of salaries for similar positions in the private sector instead of exceeding them. Again, a no brainer.
  • Keep McCarthy’s super PAC out of open House races for “safe” seats.
  • Appoint members of the Freedom Caucus to the House Rules Committee.
  • Give the House 72 hours to review legislation.
  • Require a vote to raise the debt ceiling.
  • Hold a vote on term limits.
  • Hold a vote on border security. And,
  • Allow one member rather than five to start the process to remove the speaker.

McCarthy should not have had a problem with any of these except for the last one. This was likely a conflict just to show who was going to blink first. That McCarthy would not readily grant these concessions indicates that this was a classic “p……ing contest” which is defined as a “competition between rivals to determine superiority, predominance or leadership.”

The election of McCarty also ends the January 6 nonsense. That so-called “insurrection” was more like a frat party than an insurrection. To see the real thing, just look at what is happening in Brazil and Peru. Finally, McCarty’s acceptance speech sounded more like Jim Jordan than Mitch McConnell. He promised to fight for lower energy prices, to repeal the funding for the new 87,000 IRS agents, to cut the regulatory burden on business, to stop the rising federal debt and to secure the southern border. With an agenda like that, he should have been elected unanimously on the first ballot. The best part of his speech was almost universally ignored by the media. He talked about the diverse makeup of the remarkable Massachusetts Marblehead Militia who rowed Washington and his 2,400 troops across the Delaware. They were stout fishermen and were Scottish, black, Native American and immigrants. But they were all brave Americans who would have faced awful deaths had they lost. The image of a diverse crew rowing the same boat for the same goal should be inspiring for all Americans. Instead, the media ignored it because it did not meet their new narrative of a fragmented, compartmentalized America made up of suffering individual groups being oppressed by white supremacy and soulless capitalism.

Making Sense out of Fed Policy

The current commentary about the Federal Reserve is almost exclusively on how it is fighting inflation. The Fed has raised its Fed Funds target range from near zero to 4.25-4.5 percent and it is this rate that the media details ad nauseum. The speculation is on how high will the Fed go. Some have predicted as high as 6 percent. Whatever the Fed will do depends on what the Fed economists think the future will look like, in particular future inflation and employment. Although the media pushes the narrative that current reports of inflation and employment are somehow predictive of what the Fed will do now, at best that narrative is misleading. Fed policy operates with a significant lag. If the Fed employs unambiguous monetary policy, the effects will not be seen for at least a year and often longer. Thus, the Fed is looking forward, not backward, contrary to the commonplace story told by the media. However, current events can give the Fed cover for its intended actions.

Consider that we are all told that the Fed sets interest rates. In reality, markets set rates. While the Fed can in the short run affect the direction where interest rates go, it does not actually set the rates. The best example is that it sets a Fed funds target rate and not the precise rate itself. Fed funds are bank excess reserves traded overnight by banks. Supply and demand for bank reserves set the rate. The Fed influences the supply of Fed funds. When it wants the rate to rise, it decreases the supply of bank reserves by selling Treasuries to the banks and taking reserves as payment. The decrease in supply raises the Fed funds rate but that increase cannot be precisely determined. 

The two interest rates that the Fed can determine are the rate that the Fed pays the banks on bank reserves and the discount rate, which is the rate that the Fed charges banks that wish to borrow at the Fed’s discount window. Currently those rates are within the Fed funds target range. This is important because if the discount rate is below the Fed funds rate, the banks could borrow cheaper from the Fed which would counteract what the Fed is doing in the Fed funds market. Also, the Fed can discourage bank lending if it pays higher interest on the banks’ reserves. Why should the banks lend and incur risk when it can keep its money safely at the Fed at near the same rate?

Currently, the Fed is saying that inflation is predicted to fall this year to around 3 percent and unemployment rising to 4.6 percent. Although the Fed is not saying that the economy will go into recession, the markets are wary. However, the Treasury yield curve is downward sloping, predicting a recession. The yield curve plots interest rates on Treasuries over time by maturity. Usually, the 3 month Treasury bill yields are below that of longer term bonds. However, for the past months the curve is inverted with shorter term yields being greater than longer term ones. This means that the market is reluctant to invest longer term due to uncertainty.

Nevertheless, what business reporting fails to mention is that inflation is always a monetary phenomena. The Fed is responsible for the current inflation by enabling the massive increase in Federal spending by increasing the money supply when it grew its balance sheet from $1 trillion to $8.5 trillion. Now it is trying to shrink the money supply by decreasing the amount of banks’ excess reserves, which create money when loaned out. No business correspondent mentions this and most business reports would probably earn at best a “C” if submitted as an economics paper.

When the Fed countered the great recession of 2008, it dramatically lowered the Fed funds rate and eventually pushed it to near zero. Even though these actions may have had some merit, the only reason that the Fed kept rates low was for political, not economic, reasons. As is always the case, the Fed’s conduct is the primary cause of economic uncertainty and market volatility. Although most of the media seem to think that rising interest rates foretell gloom, there is one positive note. My sainted mother used to ask me during the zero Fed rate era, “Why does the Fed hate seniors?” Of course, she was correct because her CDs earned virtually no interest return.  Well at least now, even though the Fed may still hate seniors, the pain it is inflicting is a bit less.

Skinfolk not Kinfolk?

In the recent kerfuffle over the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Byron Donalds (R-FL) was nominated as an alternative to Kevin McCarthy. Donalds is one of four black Republicans in the Congress – the others being Wesley Hunt (TX), John James (MI) and Burgess Owens (UT). His nomination was noted by some as being historic in that there were black nominees from both parties – Hakeem Jeffries (NY) was nominated by the Democrats. However, the usual suspects pooh-poohed Donalds nomination. Perhaps the most vicious was that from Cori Bush of Missouri who tweeted “FWIW, Byron Donalds is not a historic candidate for Speaker. He is a prop. Despite being Black, he supports a policy agenda intent on upholding and perpetuating white supremacy. His name being in the mix is not progress – it’s pathetic.” Of course, Bush sees white supremacy under every rock and in every white face – probably including white Democrats. She has previously accused white Republicans in Congress of white supremacy so it is not surprising that she would lash out at a black Republican and essentially accuse him of being an Uncle Tom. This is nothing new on the black left. Previously, other conservative blacks have been labelled “skinfolk but not kinfolk”. Donalds responded that Bush is invited to debate him on issues at any time but Bush should not disparage fellow blacks even if she disagreed with them. Donalds knows fully well that Bush does not have the capacity to debate him. Bush probably realizes it too. I have looked for other Democrats to criticize Bush but have yet to find any. 

When I was much younger and naïve, I used to say that we blacks all wanted the same thing – increased economic wellbeing – but differed in how to get there. I realize now that I was mistaken. I and other black conservatives can formulate a strategy to lessen welfare dependency and dramatically increase the economic status of minorities (and poor whites). However, we know that liberals including black progressives would oppose such plans that would be pro self-determination, capitalistic and call for the blowing up of our public school apparatus. Instead, they have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. Such is the sad state of black Democrats who are unable to formulate a concrete message on advancing the economic wellbeing of their constituents. Show me their Marshall Plan. It does not exist. Rather, the black left, aided and abetted by the white left, has given us the 1619 Project, a fictional rewriting of history linking everything American to slavery. In response, Bob Woodson formed the 1776 Unites ( of which I am a member. Instead of blaming slavery for every ill of America, Woodson’s group is an advocate of capitalism as a tool of minority advancement. It advocates entrepreneurship, personal responsibility and strength through mutual support within minority communities. For those who are interested, I recommend visiting the 1776 Unites website and reading their first book of essays “Red, White and Black: Rescuing American History from Revisionists and Race Hustlers.” Full disclosure: I contributed an essay to this volume.

I am not optimistic that black progressives and black conservatives can come together to craft solutions to mutual problems. The black Democrats in Congress exclude black Republicans from the “Congressional” Black Caucus where theoretically both could work on important issues. I am reminded of the conflict between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois during the early 20thcentury. Washington advocated for blacks to strive for economic independence becoming productive members of society before pursuing civil rights. In so doing Washington became the head of what is now Tuskegee University and lead the establishment of black schools. Dubois, on the other hand, pushed for civil rights through political action and agitation as the only routes to equality. Washington was considered by followers of Dubois to be an Uncle Tom. Washington believed in America while Dubois became a Communist and expatriated to Ghana where he died on the day of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.

The Omnibus Spending Bill

The Congress just passed the budget for fiscal year 2023 to the tune of $1.65 trillion. Commentators on the right ranted and railed about how conservatives were betrayed by the 18 Republican senators who voted for the bill. This is because 6were required for passage in the Senate. Some had urged the senators to vote against the bill, opting instead for a continuing resolution to fund the government until the Republicans are in the majority in the next Congress. Since spending bills originate in the House, the new Congress would have authored a bill with different priorities – or so it is argued. The Republican senators who voted for the bill insisted they did so because it contained significant increases in military spending. This shows that the Democrat leadership is much smarter than the Republican leaders. By tossing the Republicans one bone, the Democrats were able to keep throwing money down the insatiable maw of social welfare boondoggles. 

I view the proceedings a bit differently than the outrage coming out of most conservative observers. Much of the criticism was over the 7,500 earmarks in the bill for things such as the $1.2 million for LGBT “pride” centers or $2 million for a black wax museum in Baltimore. However, Republicans also had earmarks in the bill. Lisa Murkowski had 19 earmarks totaling $60 million. She voted for the bill. On the House side even though only 9 Republicans voted for the bill, in a separate session they voted overwhelmingly 158-58 in their caucus to keep earmarks in the spending bills. 

Regardless, all the attention on earmarks is Congressional rope-a-dope. Earmarks constitute less than 1 percent of the total spending bill, or $16 billion out of the $1.7 trillion. Therefore, instead of discussion on budget priorities and fiscal restraint, all the attention is on the earmarks which do not even constitute a rounding error in the budget.

During the budgetary noise coming out of the Congress it was argued that the budget had to be passed in order to avoid a government shutdown. The Republicans know that even though the Democrats are currently in control of the legislative and executive branches that the media would conspire to blame the Republicans for a shutdown. It remains to be seen if the public is still that gullible. But the Republicans could have called the Democrats’ bluff and insisted on a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government. This is how the government is often funded when there is a budgetary impasse. That they did not use this tactic demonstrates that the Republicans are no more serious about fiscal responsibility than are the Democrats. 

Even if they were to agree to vote for an omnibus bill the Republicans could have insisted on funding their priorities such as border security. Yes, there is funding for border security in the bill but it is border security for the Ukraine ($45 billion) and for the Middle East ($450 million to Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt). The bill does not provide additional border security on our southern border. It explicitly funds the allocation and transportation of illegals throughout the United States. It explicitly states that funds will not be used to hire additional permanent border patrol agents and prohibits funding for the border wall.  That the Republicans would agree to these provisions is an indictment. Their blustering about border security is meaningless hot air. Neither party actually cares about border security. The Democrats want more immigration while the Republicans want to keep the issue alive for political purposes. The Republicans talk a good game but do not want to solve the problem. Rather they just want it as a campaign issue to fool their base into thinking that their legislators are trying in vain to push back the surging horde. The tragedy is that the omnibus spending bill offered the Republicans an opportunity to actually do something about the illegal crisis. They could have withheld support until more funding was allocated to the border patrol and to building the wall. The fact that they did neither speaks volumes about their duplicity.

Requiem for a Lost Deer Season

January 2023

I hunt deer. Make that I love hunting deer. Since 1971, venison is the only red meat I eat.  I have not eaten or bought (except on one occasion) red meat. The one time was five years ago when I had a terrible season, killing only one deer. Since I feed my dogs a mixture of venison and kibble, I ran out of venison with three months left until the season began. I bought some high quality chuck for the dogs. They wouldn’t eat it. I gave 20 pounds to a neighbor for her food bank. This year would have been a repeat had I not started making an annual deer hunting trip to Eagle Pass, TX where I killed two deer. This season in Georgia yielded only one nice doe. I probably passed on 40+ deer. I do not shoot does with fawns or bucks under 6 points. The only good buck was an 8 pointer that was following a doe during bow season 65 yards away. The rest of the time, only spikes and 4 pointers abound. The adult does chase away the fawns during the rut. Yet all the does I saw were small except for the one I took late in gun season. I just can’t bring myself to shoot immature deer. Maybe its because of my aversion to veal.

I couldn’t be more disappointed in this year’s hunting. I was excited. The 60 acres that were timbered because of pine beetles were growing back in new pines, thick with perfect places to provide security for deer. My cousin who lives nearby had seen mature does and one of the biggest bucks ever. But I saw nothing but small deer. However, I saw more turkeys than before and am looking forward to turkey season. One of the confusing things is that on one ridgeline are hardwoods. Before, the deer would feed on the acorns and hickory nuts until they were gone. This year there are no deer on the ridgeline but plenty of squirrels. There is still tons of food but no deer. It’s a puzzle that I cannot solve. Meanwhile, my taxidermist is having the best year of his career. He has never seen so many big deer which means that Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt, is messing with me. I accept my fate. I have hunted hard and smart. I have hunted every sector of my 126 acres except for two. I did not hunt the hang on stand that collapsed on me 6 years ago causing me to fall 20 feet. Luckily I was just badly bruised. I have since replaced all my hang on stands with ladder stand except for that one. I will do that this off-season. The second area is a 20 acre section where I know there are plenty of deer including big ones. I leave that as a sanctuary and hunt trails going into and out of the area. It was there where I killed the big doe.

I might have had a clue that this would be a different season when my food plots failed. The weather was weird with cold snaps, withering heat and drenching rains. Since baiting is now legal, I resorted to using corn. My trail cameras showed that the deer appeared right after sunset and disappeared the hour before sunrise.

So this has been the worst year in the 50 years I’ve hunted deer. Again I could have killed plenty of deer but I would have to modify my standards. I am not comfortable doing so which means I will be on reduced rations until next season.

The Real Threat to Democracy

January 2, 2023

Happy New Year.

I seriously doubt that 2023 will be a “happy” new year. It will likely be full of angst from the usual suspects. Those on the left will continue to whine about white supremacy, climate change, threats to democracy, guns, MAGA, Donald Trump, Ben Shapiro, all conservatives, Clarence Thomas, trans rights and all the rest. Those on the right will bemoan the lack of civility, Critical Race Theory, gender identity, school curricula, immigration, the economy, government spending, subsidization of green energy, socialism, Biden’s senility and all the rest. What is becoming apparent is that we no longer can just get along. Polls have shown that the divide between parties is getting wider and wider.  One recent poll showed that if invaded like the Ukraine a majority of Democrats would flee the country while most Republicans and independents said that they would stay and fight. Noteworthy is that the majority of young Americans (aged 18-34) said that they would flee.

Maybe its just another sign of the youth not having hardly any skin in the game. This past election, the youth were the group mainly responsible for blunting the “red” wave. They voted in record numbers for the Democrats. Although most adults scoffed at Biden’s hysterics over the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion and his pledge to introduce legislation codifying abortion, the young wanted to protect their “right” to an abortion. It is no wonder that abortion clinics are near college campuses. The other issue was the forgiving of student debt. Again, Biden didn’t have the authority to cancel the debt, but the youth rewarded him for saying that he would try. The issues that motivate adults – immigration, energy prices and the economy – don’t resonate with the youth because they have no skin in the game. For them, immigration is not perceived as a threat. Their parents pay the bills so they aren’t concerned about inflation and the prices of gasoline and energy. Biden and the Democrats also kept harping on the “threat to democracy.” Most adults knew that this was nonsense but the young after being indoctrinated in K-12 and in college to leftist propaganda were convinced that the election of Republicans would lead to a curtailment of their freedoms.

If there is any good news, it is that once the young get skin in the game when they enter the workforce, that they will morph into their parents. Earning a paycheck and paying bills change one’s perspective. Remember the quote often attributed to many throughout history: “If you are not a liberal in your youth you have no heart. If you are not a conservative as an adult, you have no brain.”

I think the basic difference between those on the left and those on the right is in Robert Heinlein’s observation that the human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. Likewise, Milton Friedman observed that those on the left want to impose their wishes on others. However, those espousing socialism most likely are not the ones who will be doing the controlling. AOC, the Squad and the Bernie Sanders types do not have the intellect or the capacity to do the controlling. Rather they are the useful idiots of the ones who would actually be in power. Heinlein cautions that the thirst to control knows no political label. That is why many powerful industrialists, billionaires, money managers and bankers tend to support the left while making clucking noises to pacify the right. These are the true threats to democracy. It is also important that many conservative states are pulling their pensions from the management of companies like Blackrock which uses their funds to further leftist agendas. But don’t misunderstand, the threat to democracy in 2023 is unchanged. It is the threat to economic and personal freedoms. Politicians like Joe Biden embody that threat. But so do billionaires like George Soros and executives like Larry Fink at Blackrock.

Wither the LSAT

The accrediting council of the American Bar Association voted 15-1 to recommend the elimination of the LSAT or any other standardized examination from the admission requirements for law school. The debate within the council was whether standardized tests limited diversity amongst law school students. Individual law schools could still maintain the requirement if they so choose. Ironically, Southern University’s law school announced that it is still going to require the test. Given that Southern is an HBCU, presumably diversity is not an issue of prime importance. 

Previously some of the top law schools in the country, Harvard, Yale, and U C Berkeley withdrew from the US News and World Report rankings saying that the rankings ignored their efforts to diversify their student bodies. The rankings downgraded certain actions by the schools. For example, one law school dean said that “students who have received public interest fellowships from the school or are pursuing other graduate degrees are “effectively classified as unemployed” and negatively affect a school’s ranking.”

Predictably the knee jerk reaction on the right was that the law schools were lowering admission standards to increase the number of minority students. One writer called this “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” But is this really the case? The writer did not do any basic research to discover whether the LSAT is a prime predictor of whether a law student is admitted to the bar. Many standardized tests are culture-bound and predict the test takers culture rather than the ability to perform in college or graduate school. This may be the case with the LSAT. I don’t know the metrics used by US News but their current methodology is obviously flawed.

Looking at the research on whether the LSAT is an important predictor in law school success, there is conflicting evidence. One study finds that the LSAT is the best predictor of success in passing the bar exam while another finds that law school GPA is the most important indicator. I have not looked at the studies but suspect that LSAT and law school GPA are most likely highly correlated. I would think that the appropriate measure of success would be the percentage passage rate on the bar exam. When looking at that metric, the University of Wisconsin, not Harvard, Yale or Berkeley, has the highest first time passage rate. The question is whether the first time passage rate of those schools eliminating the LSAT is adversely affected by adding more diversity to their student body. That is an empirical question and a study by the American Bar Association that shows that a rising percentage of non-white students is associated with a rise in first time failure rates. Perhaps the elite law schools are leaving US News because they know their rankings will fall due to diversity admissions.

Of course, this means that the next step is going to be an advocating of elimination of the bar exam as a requirement to be admitted to practice. Currently all states require the bar exam. Four states, California, Virginia, Vermont and Washington do not require going to law school in order to take the bar. My uncle was an attorney and then a judge in Ohio. He read the law while clerking as a paralegal, took the bar, passed it and was admitted to practice. Classical economists have long argued that the purpose of the bar exam is to limit the number of lawyers thereby maintaining high salaries and billings for existing lawyers. Obviously, there are incompetent lawyers, amoral lawyers and crooks that have passed the bar. I don’t know if the bar exams for each state have been vetted to test only the law and not cultural aspects. But if a bar exam only tests knowledge of the law, then I see no reason why it cannot be a final hurdle to admission to practice.

However, the question remains to what are the best metrics to use for admission to law school. When I was a professor and on the PhD admissions committee, one year the student with the lowest undergraduate GPA and test scores ended up earning the PhD and is now a tenured faculty member at an excellent university while the student admitted with the highest GPA and test scores flunked out of our program. The indication is that in some cases, undergraduate GPA and test scores do not predict one’s desire to learn and to achieve. Therefore, while I think that the indicators are that GPA and test scores are important, there are exceptions that demand individual scrutiny.

Amnesty for Illegals?

Chuck Schumer wants amnesty for illegals and a path to citizenship for “all 11 million or however many undocumented there are here.” Now 11 million is the number that has been used for at least the past 10 years. I guess we are to assume that the million plus coming across our southern border each year somehow does not add to the total and those already here haven’t had any babies. In reality the number is likely closer to or greater than 30 million. Schumer said that we need new citizens because “We have a population that is not reproducing on its own with the same level that it used to.” On this point he is correct. The fertility rate has to be 2.1 to just maintain population at its current level. A rate above 2.1 means population is growing. A rate below 2.1 means that population is falling. Western Europe and Japan have had fertility rates well below replacement for several decades now and their populations are in decline. The fertility rate in the United States is 1.6. So Schumer is correct but has conveniently forgot that one of the reasons for the decline in the birth rate has been the 61 million abortions performed in the United States since Roe. Around 1 million babies are aborted each year and some major cities actually have had more abortions than live births.

The decline in birth rates is across all races and ethnicities. A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found that births dropped by 4% among white, black and Latina women, 9% for Asian women, 3% for Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and 7% for Native American and Alaska native women. Families are getting smaller. Birth rates have fallen amongst teenagers and the average age of new mothers has increased.

Thus, more and more new immigrants are needed to come into the country since apparently once they get here, they stop having as many babies. Actually, birth rates are in decline throughout much of the world. Globally, birth rates are projected to fall below replacement by 2070. Ninety countries are expected to have these lower birth rates with only some African countries and Pakistan are expected to maintain a growing population. China which once had a one child policy has reversed itself. Under the old policy, Chinese families had a cultural preference for male children and aborted female fetuses. This skewed the population with too few females and Chinese population is falling by 400,000 per year. Now the Chinese are providing incentives for three children households.

Importantly, the decreasing birth rates have an immediate impact on social security. In the 1960s there were 6 workers per retiree.  That ratio is decreasing. As early as 2035 there will be only two workers per retiree. Also there will be 78 million people over the age of 65 and 76 million under the age of 18. That means that fewer workers pay into the system to support retirees. In order to maintain the payout to retirees, the worker contributions must increase which may become untenable and pit worker against retiree. At a fertility rate of 1.6, the amount of unfunded social security obligations rise to $4 trillion on top of the $17 trillion predicted to occur between 2035 and 2095. This is a demographic time bomb.

The obvious solution is to reform social security. The alternatives are to increase contributions – likely the employer contribution to minimize the political blowback, to decrease payouts – highly unlikely – or to change the program from the current pay-as-you-go system. Now social security payments come from current contributions. That is why the interest return on contributions over a lifetime is a miniscule 1.23 percent. Imagine that a private investment firm told you that if you invest at the same level as your social security contributions over a 30 year term, you would get a return of 1.2 percent! You would be irrational to do so. That is why social security is a mandatory government imposed program. It fails the market test. Instead of a change like adjusting the inflation index or a more radical market based reform, the most likely change would be to increase the age at which retirees can receive full benefits. When enacted only 54% of 21-year-old men and 61% of 21-year-old women lived to age 65. In 2019, 81% of 21-year-old men and 89% of 21-year-old women lived to age 65. Raising the full retirement age from 67 to 70 would cut the deficit by one third.

APost-Mortem on the Election

Harold A Black

Most people I know were disappointed in the results of the midterm election. The pundits almost unanimously predicted a “red wave” with the Republicans picking up as many as 65 seats in the House and 4 seats in the Senate. Instead, the Republicans will go from 213 seats in the House to only 221 seats. In the Senate the Republicans will actually lose a seat and go from 50 seats to 49. How did this happen? It has always been the case that incumbency is hard to beat and that only swing districts are in play. How else would those representatives on the far right and far left be consistently returned to office? As a result, prior to the election I thought – like the pundits – that the Republicans would retake control of the House. However, the House is the least important body in the legislature. I know that all the spending bills originate there, but the Senate has veto power and the filibuster if all else fails. The Senate is the most important legislative body largely because of its veto power and it is where the President’s nominees are vetted. With the Democrats still in control of the Senate, expect to see a continuation of the types of appointments made by this President. Biden’s cabinet is the least capable, least qualified of any cabinet within modern history. Expect to see more judges appointed who view the Constitution as a “living” document and who are unwilling or incapable of telling us what a woman is. Expect more nominees nominated on the basis of race, gender and sexual identity rather than qualifications. All of this will continue unabated given the makeup of the Senate. 

I thought since all of this was obvious, that the Republicans would concentrate their efforts on winning the Senate. But befitting the title “the stupid party” the Republicans did not aggressively contest the vulnerable Democratic seats in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. The two open seats were held by Republicans and I thought that the Republicans would hold Ohio but lose Pennsylvania. They would hold Ohio because a popular Republican governor was running for reelection and would have coat tails for the Senate candidate. They would lose Pennsylvania because the Republican candidate for governor was weak and destined to lose while the candidate for Senate was roundly disliked. As my colleague Rep. Duncan pointed out, if the results of the primary were different the Republicans would have easily won the seat in Pennsylvania. The final candidate won the nomination because he was the darling of the conservative media and endorsed by Trump. That led to him losing to perhaps the worse candidate in recent memory. Voters in Pennsylvania preferred a person with the most radical agenda, one who was against fracking and for releasing hardened criminals to the Republican candidate. Go figure. 

Throughout all the campaigns, one thing was evident: the Republicans were greatly outspent. Although Trump had amassed $100 million in his PAC, he did not spend his money to support the very candidates that he had endorsed in Georgia, Arizona, New Hampshire and Nevada. The Democrats actually spent $53 million to boost the weakest far right candidates in the primaries to have them run against their own weak incumbents. The strategy seemed to work, largely in part because the Republicans did not counter their spending efforts. As to funding, the Democrats spent $73 million in Arizona. The Republicans spent $9 million. In Nevada Republicans were outspent $46 million to $12 million. In New Hampshire it was $36 million to $2 million. In Pennsylvania, $52 million to $32 million and in Georgia $75 million to $32 million. Admittedly, money is not everything but these numbers are hard to ignore. Moreover, the Republicans actuallyfunded the campaign for the senator from Alaska who voted to impeach Trump even though the seat was going to stay in Republican hands. To do this while not funding the Trump endorsed candidates could only mean one thing. The Republican establishment hates Donald Trump more than it wants to regain control of the Senate.