RCAAs and Plutonomies

h/t Daniel Henninger it the WSJ, from Liberalism’s Summer of ’17:

 (M)any of these urban revivals are producing a phenomenon economists now call “racially concentrated areas of affluence,” or RCAAs.

An area gets RCAAed when the residents who pack themselves into it are mostly white people whose median incomes are unprecedentedly greater than the city’s poverty level. Some of the most RCAAed cities are liberal duchies like Boston, Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Economists for Citigroup have called cities like New York and San Francisco “plutonomies”—urban economies propped up by a plutocratic minority, which is to say, young professionals inured to both taxes and nearby poverty. But they vote their “consciences.”

Progressives are acutely aware of this embarrassing reality in cities under their control. A writer for In These Times identified the problem as “a lack of revenue caused by the refusal of Wall Street banks, big corporations and millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes.” Put forth solutions, he said, “to make them pay.”

“Make them pay” might work if the U.S. were East Germany, so that the wealthy could be captured and jailed as they tried to escape across the border.

We’re not living yet under a President Sanders or Warren, so the steady, documented outflow of residents will continue from New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, California and New Jersey.

Many of those now climbing over the Democrats’ blue walls were willing to live under the original liberal governance model that existed before 1960 because it recognized the legitimacy of private economic life. The wealthy agreed then to pay their “fair share.”

Today, private economic life, especially that of the urban middle class, is no longer a partner in the liberal model. It’s merely a “revenue source” for a system whose patronage is open-ended welfare and largely uncapped public-employee pensions. I’d describe the liberal-progressive governing strategy as ruin and rule…

Residents of the northeastern slab from New Jersey to Boston have been living off infrastructure created by their grandparents and great-grandparents during the golden age of American capitalism.

They are now asking the federal government, meaning taxpayers who live in parts of the U.S. not hostile to capitalism, to give them nearly $15 billion to replace the 100-year-old train tunnel beneath the Hudson River. Why should they? Why send money to a moribund, dysfunctional urban liberal politics that will never—as in, not ever—clean up its act or reform?

Maybe we need a new default solution to the urban crisis: Let internal migration redistribute the U.S. population away from liberalism’s smug but falling-apart plutonomies.

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Bipartisan solution to Obamacare

Stephen Moore writes at The Hill on why there is no bi-partisan solution to Obamacare:

Exactly what kind of [bipartisan approach to healthcare reform] do they have in mind? On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News ‎what the Democrats are willing to offer up to Republicans as part of this new spirit of bipartisanship. She awkwardly stammered for a while…and in the end couldn’t name a single thing…

They are against Medicaid reforms, including any turnback to the states. They are against repealing the ObamaCare tax increases. They are against repealing the individual mandate, the employer mandate and the essential benefit package regulations.

They are against interstate competition for insurance. They are against allowing consumers to have a choice option in selecting an insurance package. They are against expanding affordable health savings accounts for more Americans.

So what exactly are the Democrats for? They want to enact “fixes” to ObamaCare that would enshrine this colossal healthcare failure into permanent law. They want more money for the bankrupt exchanges. They want even higher penalties for Americans who don’t want to buy ObamaCare policies.

They want bailout money for the insurers, with whom they are joined at the hip. And they want measures that clear the path to a single payer system, which Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and most honest liberals concede is what they hope to be the only long-term solution to the ObamaCare crisis.

These are horrible measures, both collectively and individually…

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Trauma, chaos; new consensus to follow?

Andrew Klavan, from President Chaos and the Keystone Kongress:

With all the military guys and Trump family members in place, the administration is beginning to have a faintly South American flavor to it. So I guess we can all look forward to better empanadas and also the collapse of Western civilization.

You know what’s the funniest thing about all this? The funniest thing is that it’s still better than having the Democrats in power! Like, a lot better. We now know the Obama administration was spying on just about everybody. The Hillary gang seem to have been the ones really colluding with Putin. The Senate minority leader has given up on capitalism. And the former head of the DNC has been doing God-knows-what with a Pakistani IT guy who just got arrested trying to blow the country!

Klavan’s theory for what happened:

I think Barack Obama traumatized this country, and I don’t think the left or the intellectuals on the right really understand how much. I think Obama was an anti-American leftist who hated the freedom the Founders stood for, and despised the ordinary Gun-and-Bible folks who keep that idea of freedom alive. I think the news media, Hollywood, and academia created an echo chamber for that hatred, and I think the folks felt the scorn and derision every single day for eight years. Finally, given a chance, they unleashed the orange beast of their anger in response.

The anti-Trump right can sniff at that. They can and should talk about ideas and policy and governance, which are all important. But it’s the culture that sets the tone of the country — and the right has let the culture go. CNN and the news networks and the late-night comics and the Hollywood stars and the Ivy League and the feminist Nazis sowed this wind by spitting on our people and their values day after day after day. Welcome to the whirlwind.

So why is he laughing?

I’m laughing because, while no one knows the future, my genuine belief is that we’ll be okay. Our institutions are strong. Our people are great. The Obama Trauma will pass. The Trump Reaction will end. Time and the usual crises of life will bring us back to ourselves in a new consensus.

Meanwhile, I root for Trump and the GOP to do whatever good they can. Please God they can do a whole helluva lot better than they did this sad and hilarious week.


Related story from Friday’s WSJ, “God’s ACLU Seeks Freedom for the Faithful.”

Advocates for religious liberty in America are part of what might be seen as the second wave of rights activism in the courts, the first being the wave that began in the 1950s and ’60s with litigation over the rights of minorities, women and criminal suspects, among others. In the past 25 years, conservative and libertarian groups have applied lessons that the liberal vanguard learned about how to select test cases for litigation as a way to steer the law. The focus today is still on the individual, but on his right to own guns, send his children to the school of his choice, or—Ms. Alvarado’s field of concern—worship freely and live a full religious life uncramped by the state…

Why is the left hostile to religious liberty? “It’s fundamentally a misunderstanding of the role of religion,” Ms. Alvarado says. “Besides, the only way to expand government is to edge yourself into all aspects of an individual’s life, starting with how they can and cannot participate in the market.” She also cites Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the 2014 case in which the high court held that the craft store’s owners, who object on religious grounds to certain types of contraceptives, could not be forced to provide them to employees.

“The ACLU has a sadly checkered record on religious liberty,” Ms. Alvarado says. “It’s sometimes with us, and sometimes against, but the moment that a lot of the sexual-morality issues came into play, it seems they lost the live-and-let-live philosophy that was so fundamental to them.” The ACLU, she says, supports religious liberty only for the groups it likes. “It’s an all-too-common error that undermines the First Amendment standard of equal protection for all religions.” This broader view is why legal scholar Viet Dinh has described the Becket Fund as “God’s ACLU.”

On the whole, Ms. Alvarado is buoyant “without being complacent” about the future of religious liberty in the U.S. The end of the Obama administration, she believes, should bring some respite to the faithful. “His administration was definitely hostile to conscience rights,” she says. “If you look at a lot of the writings his administration put out, you’ll see they were really focused on worship, the importance of being able to practice within the four walls of a church. But they were hostile to religious speech, hostile to religious exercise, anything within the workplace. They’d say, ‘You shouldn’t have this job. You’re a second-class citizen if you’re unwilling to perform same-sex marriage services, or to accept the contraceptive mandate, or hand out these drugs. That makes you unfit for a specific position in the market.’ ”

Ms. Alvarado describes this kind of hard line on religious exercise as “unprecedented, unlike anything we’d seen before in our country.” While not all American presidents have great track records on religious liberty, the others in her lifetime do. “ Bill Clinton, obviously, was the one who signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, so he gets a gold star,” she says. (RFRA was the law under which Hobby Lobby prevailed in 2014.) “ George W. Bush gets a gold star as well. He did a lot of great work to make sure religious communities had expressive rights.” The Obama administration, by contrast, authorized “direct, government-enforced action, and a wielding of the force of the state against conscience.”


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Better deal rebranding

Kyle Smith, on the recent efforts at re-branding by democrats, writes that “‘A Better Deal’ tries to focus on economic issues, but the cultural issues are inextricably intertwined.”

The progressive economic agenda is simple:

You get the goodies you want now, someone else will pay, and never mind the future consequences. Who wouldn’t find such a platform enticing? You might as well tell a junior-high school, “Free PlayStation and Mountain Dew.”  …

Raising the minimum wage, one of the Democrats’ cornerstone ideas in their latest re-re-re-rebranding, is popular because it’s a simple fix that provides tangible benefits with invisible costs. Lower-rung workers get a bigger paycheck and the pain is hidden from view in the accounting divisions of faceless corporations. Never mind that a $15 national minimum wage would backfire and render many working Americans unemployed in the future. Government-dictated lowering of drug prices is popular too, never mind the invisible follow-up cost of hampering innovation that will extend lives in the future.

It’s really not hard to figure out what the party stands for:

These are their foundational beliefs: Abortion must be available on demand, with the leading abortion provider to be heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars. The NRA is a bigger threat than radical Islam. The federal government must make restroom policy. Religion is for suckers to cling to. Bakers who decline to participate in gay weddings must be destroyed. White people outside the sophisticated neighborhoods of the better cities are largely racist. Illegal immigration isn’t much of a problem, or is maybe even desirable. Fracking is at best a necessary evil, at worst an actual menace, rather than a boon and a blessing. Oil and coal must be punished for their wicked ways.

Notice how seamlessly I slipped from issues of culture and taste into economic matters? The two are intertwined. To Democrats, the frackers are the Christians are the gun owners are the racists are the immigrant-haters are the gay bashers. It’s not possible for the Democrats to say, “I don’t care about your fondness for AR-15s and love for fossil fuels if you’ll work with us on the minimum wage.” The Democrats can’t even leave you alone if you like soda or carrying your groceries home in fresh plastic bags.

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The expanding power of opaque notions

David Harsanyi worries that censorship is gaining popularity:

Why would a feminist — or anyone, for that matter — celebrate the idea of empowering bureaucrats to decide how we talk about gender stereotypes? Because these days, foundational values mean less and less to those who believe hearing something disagreeable is the worst thing that could happen to them.

Sometimes you need a censor, this Jezebel writer points out, because nefarious conglomerates like “Big Yogurt” have been “targeting women for decades.” She — and the British, apparently — don’t believe that women have the capacity to make consumer choices or the inner strength to ignore ads peddling probiotic yogurts.

This is why the U.K. Committee of Advertising Practice (and, boy, it takes a lot of willpower not to use the cliché “Orwellian” to describe a group that hits it on the nose with this kind of ferocity) is such a smart idea. It will ban, among others, commercials in which family members “create a mess, while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up,” ones that suggest that “an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys, or vice versa,” and ones in which “a man tries and fails to perform simple parental or household tasks.”

If you believe this kind of thing is the bailiwick of the state, it’s unlikely you have much use for the Constitution. I’m not trying to pick on this one writer. Acceptance of speech restrictions is a growing problem among millennials and Democrats. For them, opaque notions of “fairness” and “tolerance” have risen to overpower freedom of expression in importance…

This position and its justifications all run on the very same ideological fuel. Believe it or not, though, allowing the state to ban documentaries is a bigger threat to the First Amendment than President Donald Trump’s tweets mocking CNN…

Nearly every censor in the history of mankind has argued that speech should be curbed to balance out some harmful consequence. And nearly every censor in history, sooner or later, kept expanding the definition of harm until the rights of his political opponents were shut down

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The common denominator of the two extremes is the abandonment of disinterested reporting

Victor Davis Hanson writes about America’s Media Meltdown:

Between 2008 and 2016, the media were unapologetic about their adoration of President Barack Obama. Now, they are energized by their thorough loathing of President Donald Trump. In tragic fashion, the hubris of deifying Obama has now come full circle to the nemesis of demonizing Trump. The common denominator of the two extremes is the abandonment of disinterested reporting…

While a few journalists were aware of their cult-like worship, most were hooked and competed to outdo one another with embarrassing hagiographic praise. Upon election, Obama was summarily declared by one presidential historian and television pundit to the smartest man with the highest IQ ever to have been president.

Obama himself channeled the veneration, variously promising in god-like fashion to cool the planet and lower the seas, remarking that his own multifaceted expertise was greater than that of all of the various specialists who ran his campaign. For the next eight years, the media largely ignored what might charitably be called an historic overextension of presidential power and scandal not seen since the days of Richard Nixon’s presidency. A clique of journalists set up a private chat group, JournoList, through which they could channel ideas to promote the Obama progressive agenda.

Freed from most press scrutiny, the Obama administration surveilled Associated Press reporters accused of leaks and monitored the communications of Fox News’s White House Correspondent James Rosen. In a variety of scandals, UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor Susan Rice lied repeatedly about the Benghazi catastrophe, the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap, the Iran deal, and the supposed destruction of weapons of mass destruction by the Assad government in Syria. Meanwhile, Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch faced inquiries about massaging the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Close advisors such as Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power faced congressional inquiries into whether some in the administration had requested improper surveillance reports of political opponents, unmasked their names, and illegally leaked them to the press—a story that the media overlooked.

Most Obama foreign policy initiatives proved disappointments: reset with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the bombing of Libya resulting in postwar chaos, the withdrawal of all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq, the faux redlines with Syria, failed “strategic patience” with North Korea, writing off the ISIS terrorist caliphate as “Jayvees,” and the expansion of Chinese bases into the South China Sea.

At home, Obama was the first president in recent history never to have achieved three percent economic growth, as labor non-participation rose and median family incomes fell. The media largely ignored a series of scandals, as if investigating them might endanger the Obama progressive moment: the politicization of the IRS, FBI, and Justice Department; ICE reduced to de facto irrelevance; fraud at the VA; overreach at EPA; and incompetence at the Secret Service and GSA.

Rather than appreciate such media obsequiousness, Obama sometimes showed near contempt for toadyish reporters, joking about his positive press coverage and joshing how he got the Nobel Peace Prize without much accomplishment. His deputy National Security Advisor and would-be novelist Ben Rhodes contemptuously manipulated and then wrote off young foreign correspondents as know-nothings—despite the fact they had helped the administration obfuscate the dangerous implications of Obama’s Iran deal through what Rhodes called an “echo chamber” of administration-fed talking points.

Former speech writers Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett joked on television how they had easily deluded the public on the downsides of Obamacare. Special advisor Jonathan Gruber laughed at the “stupidity of the American voter” who was easily deceived by the administration and media about the nature of Obamacare. Again, the common denominator was an expectation that the press was not a public watchdog but an enabler of the Obama agenda

In addition, the current generation of marquee reporters was schooled at the major journalism schools by veterans of the 1960s, when the “new” journalism saw progressive political activism—opposition to the Vietnam War and the promotion of civil rights, feminism, and environmentalism—as the proper counterweight to traditional and supposedly regressive American values

Trump was neither shy nor decorous in punching back, ridiculing the appearance of on-air talking heads, relegating them to back of the room slots at press conferences, and going over the head of the media through often crude ad hominem tweets. Although polls (whose reliability remains questionable after the 2016 election) rarely showed figures higher than forty percent for Trump, the media is held in even less regard, with about two-thirds of those polled expressing their disapproval of journalists.

If the media became unhinged in the adulatory Obama years through hubris, it might have earned back its respect and professionalism by covering Trump in even-handed fashion. But Nemesis does not work that way: those it destroys, it first makes mad.


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Accepting other people’s choices

Good stuff from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt

Barro continues, “It’s not good to spend a lot of time telling people what they think of as their non-political behaviors are Actually Problematic And Bad.”

I don’t know whether this is a more dominant thread of thought in the modern progressive’s mind than it was a decade or two ago, or whether we just see more of this theme in progressive media outlets. One reason this type of “your seemingly mundane, apolitical choice is terrible and must be denounced” article is increasingly common is because it is cheap and easy.

You don’t need much specialized knowledge, a lot of research, travel or anything like that to write a piece such as that. Just take something that a lot of people do — particularly people who aren’t like you — and denounce it in logically-shaky-at-best, furious, hyperbolic terms. Let’s say, “Your Decision to Eat Bacon Is Worse Than Apartheid.” This will undoubtedly turn heads, and some people will click on the headline just out of curiosity, wondering why something they always thought was good is actually so bad for the world. Bacon fans will denounce the essay, and in the process, drive more traffic. People will write blog posts and make counterarguments, prompting even more readers and web-surfers to check out what launched the latest brouhaha. In the Web-traffic numbers, an incredulous or angry click looks the same as an approving click.

Barro continues, “Especially when this amounts to telling people that what’s wrong with them is they’re not more like you.”

Bingo. “I’m a childless adult, telling all of you people out there to stop having children.” “I’m a vegan, telling you that you must stop eating meat.” I’m an urbanite who doesn’t own a car, telling you that your automobile is destroying the planet and gas taxes should be higher to support the costs of mass transit.”

The not-so-subtle subtext is, “Why aren’t you more like me?” And the simple answer from most people is . . . “Because I don’t want to be more like you.” It’s rare that those lifestyle choices have never been considered by the target audience; they just don’t find them appealing or workable for their lives. In some cases, there’s a remarkable obliviousness about the reality of life for their target audiences — i.e., “Why aren’t you buying organic?”

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that progressives are exhibiting all of the traits that they accused Christian conservatives of embodying: smug judgmental attitudes, harsh denunciation of those who make different choices, lack of respect for others who see things differently and a refusal to recognize individual autonomy, an eagerness to enforce a stifling code of behavior, and a conditional-at-best view towards liberty.

As Jonah observes this morning, “Filipovic is precisely one of those writers you’d expect to go ballistic if some conservative Christian opined about the reproductive choices women should make. But if it’s in the name of the environment? Let’s wag those fingers, everybody!”

I used to think that the most important value for living in a constitutional republic such as ours was a bit of faith in people to eventually make the right choices for themselves. But I’m starting to wonder if an even more important value is an acceptance of people making what we perceive to be the wrong choices for themselves.

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