3.5.16

TAIL TRACK.

Barring signal troubles, links to any posts of substance ought to work.

TODAY'S FOURTH TURNING ALERT.

Three short passages.  By all means read and understand the columns from which I lifted them.

First, Peggy Noonan.  "My country is in trouble ... You’ll feel better the next day, I promise, but you won’t be able to tell yourself that this is history as usual anymore. This is big, what we’re living through."

Next, Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds.  "Our society isn’t likely to face a collapse like Rome’s — as Tainter notes, everything now is global. But institutions within it are still at risk from politicians’ tendency to skim off benefits for themselves and their cronies while putting the price off into the future."

Finally, Reason's Nick Gillespie.
Things may well have to get worse before they get better and I'm not exactly a burn-it-down-to-the-ground sort of character, but there are few things less worth doing than eking out another status-quo day knowing you really need fundamental change to move into a better future. >A president from a party with which fewer than 30 percent of Americans identify who wins an election with less than 50 percent of the vote will not be much of a threat. But a Trump-Clinton election that is a live version of that South Park episode just may be the start of a newer, better America.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.  But resetting the full saecular order is messy and might not turn out as anyone would expect.

FACULTY PERQUISITES AND PRIVILEGES.

On the lighter side, here's Mike Adams tweaking his colleagues on faculty senate.
Generally speaking, objective designations have no place in the postmodern university. They are intolerant and therefore should not be tolerated. We should take a stand by refusing to stand for them. And we should promote our diversity with a single unifying voice. Unanimity in defense of diversity should be our highest priority.

UNABLE TO RID THEMSELVES OF THIS TROUBLESOME PROFESSOR.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education will continue to follow Marquette University's attempts to excommunicate John "Marquette Warrior" McAdams.

For the time being, Milwaukee's WTMJ have coverage of yesterday's developments, including the university's reaction to the lawsuit they're now facing.
Marquette has received the complaint filed by Dr. McAdams and his team of lawyers. We welcome this issue being addressed in court, where the public will hear a comprehensive account of Dr. McAdams’ mistreatment of our former graduate student, rather than the select details he has handpicked to promote his false narrative. Once all the facts are made clear, Marquette fully expects that the decision to suspend him will be upheld.

Dr. McAdams continues to reject the judgment of his peers on the Faculty Hearing Committee. The committee unanimously concluded that he violated his core obligations as a tenured professor and that he should be suspended.

It was Marquette’s preference throughout this process to keep all proceedings between the university and Dr. McAdams confidential because this is a personnel matter. Dr. McAdams has routinely decided to argue his case in public. Now that he has made this a legal matter, Marquette is releasing President Lovell’s decision letter and the full 123-page Faculty Hearing Committee report to ensure transparency. We have also included President Lovell’s follow-up letter to Dr. McAdams.
I wonder, though, if this is the hill Marquette's administration wishes to die on.
Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about the attention that Dr. McAdams and his legal team continue to focus on our former graduate student. He continues to call her out by name in his blog, and even recently went out of his way to name the university where she is continuing her studies today. These actions have exposed her to additional harassment, more than a year after she left Marquette.

Our main goal throughout this process has been to ensure that no other Marquette student is ever subjected to an extensive public shaming campaign by a member of our faculty.
Now that the case is in court, future developments might be long in coming.

THE MULTIPLE MEANINGS OF CONSERVATISM.

Power Line's John Hinderaker considers the unraveling of the conservative, if that's the proper term, coalition after President Reagan.
The politics of every era is dominated by its own issues. The concerns that animate most voters today are no longer the ones that Republicans rode to victory in past decades. Fundamental principles abide, of course. The guiding star of American conservatism has always been liberty. But it may not be quite so easy to apply first principles to today’s issues as it was in the 1980s, and it may be harder to obtain consensus among those who call themselves conservatives.
Yes, particularly because liberty may not be the lode star.  The reduce the intrusiveness of government libertarians have been part of the coalition.  The social conservatives who are quite willing to use the police powers of the state to criminalize sin, the national greatness conservatives who thought military force might be a way to introduce democracy in the Middle East, and the rent-seekers of the chambers of commerce each will argue for governance that intrudes properly; that's a variation on the same hubris that thought winning a war on poverty or rebuilding the cities could be done with proper policies and properly trained public administrators.

National Review's George Nash has also been surveying the fractures, and in his meditations on what came after the Soviet Bloc deconstructed itself is the recognition that each of the viewpoints enumerated above had as many reasons to leave the coalition as to stay in.
Could a movement so identified with anti-Communism survive the disappearance of the Communist adversary in the Kremlin? Without a common external foe, it has become easier for former allies on the Right to succumb to the bane of all coalitions: the sectarian temptation. It is an indulgence made much easier by the advent of the Internet.

The conservative intellectual movement, of course, did not vanish in the 1990s. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that unyielding anti-Communism supplied much of the glue in the post-1945 conservative coalition and that the demise of Communism in Europe weakened the fusionist imperative for American conservatives.
Communists persecuted churches, thus the religious could make common cause with the business interests and the libertarians against communism.  But the libertine streak in libertarian circles is too much of this world and too encouraging of sin for the alliance to survive the victory.  Whether business interests were opposing communism as a way of seeking rents generates another fracture.
When Donald Trump burst onto the political scene last summer, many observers noticed that one source of his instant appeal was his brash transgression of the boundaries of acceptable political discourse. The more he transgressed them, the more his popularity seemed to grow, particularly among those who lack a college education.

What was happening here? The rise of Trumpism in the past year has laid bare a potentially dangerous chasm in our politics: not so much between the traditional Left and Right but rather (as someone has put it) between those above and those below on the socio-economic scale. In Donald Trump, many of those “below” have found a voice for their outrage at what they consider to be the cluelessness and condescension of their “betters.”
Here's where the Democrat - Media - Entertainment - Academic Complex becomes the enemy, which is a good thing for those members of the conservative coalition who would like to limit the powers of the government.  Clueless, condescending, sneering, and wrong.  But it will still take something to beat the current dispensation.
What do today’s conservatives want? To put it in elementary terms, I would say that they want what nearly all conservatives since 1945 have wanted: They want to be free, they want to live virtuous and meaningful lives, and they want to be secure from threats both beyond and within our borders. They want to live in a society whose government respects and encourages these aspirations while otherwise leaving people alone. Freedom, virtue, and safety: goals reflected in the libertarian, traditionalist, and national-security dimensions of the conservative movement as it has developed over the past 70 years. In other words, there is at least a little fusionism in nearly all of us. It might be something to build on.

For three generations now, conservatives have committed themselves to defending the intellectual and spiritual foundations of Western civilization: the resources needed for a free and humane existence. Conservatives know that we all start out in life as “rough beasts” who need to be educated for liberty if we are to secure its blessings. Elections come and go, but this larger work goes on.
Yes, and the defense of the intellectual and spiritual foundations goes on.  Atlantic's Emma Green interviews Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr., the authors of Passing on the Right, and we see that the deconstruction of the intellectual foundations of Western civilization is a dead end.
Green: There’s this fundamental tension in conservatism: this idea that you look backwards to understand now, that fast and quick revolutionary change is not what we’re looking for. Do you think this intellectual orientation has made it harder for conservative academics to take seriously race and gender as areas of study?

Shields: I think they don’t like the way those topics are studied. They don’t like the theoretical machinery brought to bear on them—things like intersectionality. Their critique of intersectionality would not be that it’s interested in gender and race—it’s this clunky machinery that doesn’t fit very well with the empirical world. It can’t explain why black men are doing so much worse than black women, or why women now get more college education and more college degrees.

Dunn: The literature professors we interviewed were interesting on this. For many conservatives, they view great works of literature as a source of wisdom that we should be grateful for and approach humbly. They think that some of the focus on race, sex, and class—they call it the holy trilogy—seems to denigrate these great works and minimizes them.
Put another way: when the atheorhetical approach trading under the rubric of "intersectionality" fails to elicit any new insights, the scholars will give up their potted Marxism and try something else.

Meanwhile, the students (via College Insurrection) are discovering that, when all the old forms of transgressivity (long hair, Marxism, gender bending, bi until graduation, what have you) are simply the new dispensation, there's still a way to subvert the dominant paradigm.
Leftism is so popular and common on campus, that it is now the status quo. The new establishment is not right-wing, but left-wing professors and administrators. A system that censors potentially offensive words, adopts explicitly leftist policy, and cuts funding to legitimate conservative groups is more closely related to a fascist gestapo rather than a welcoming campus. Politically Correct culture is reaching its peak, both in society and on campus, which means the valley is soon approaching. If conservatives have any say in this, the valley is going to be a free-fall.

From chalking, rallies, and activism, conservatives are opening eyes and getting behind principles that are appealing to students who feel overwhelmed by the left. The homogenous and static education system available on campus is killing critical thinking by stopping any type of objectivism, and conservatives are growing in numbers.
That what passes for left-influenced higher education is neither higher nor education only helps the insurgency.

THE MID-MAJOR GAP YEAR.

Malia Obama, the eldest daughter of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (nee Robinson) has signed a letter of intent with Harvard, only after a gap year.  The gap year appears to be the Next Shiny Thing amongst the nachalstvo.  "When the Obamas announced Sunday that their eldest daughter, Malia, will attend Harvard University, they also revealed that she will take part in what is becoming an increasingly popular tradition in the United States: the gap year."  The stresses on the overprogrammed spawn of the ruling class are such that the youngsters require time away from it.
In an article on the university’s website, William Fitzsimmons and Marlyn E. McGrath of Harvard’s admissions department, and Charles Ducey, a lecturer in psychology, assert that a gap year could be an answer to the burnout faced by ultra-ambitious students as they compete to gain entrance into the “right” college followed by the “right” graduate schools, and the “right” sequence of jobs, in order to live in the “right” kinds of communities.
For the rest of the population, lives of quiet desperation must be de rigueur.
The increasing willingness of high-performing students to take time off stands in contrast with the recent push to get "at risk" high-school students straight into college after graduation—a pressure borne out of the fear that the longer these students, who typically come from underserved backgrounds, wait, the less likely they are to enroll in college as time passes. While Malia Obama’s decision to take a gap year appears to be a personal choice and there is no reason to think she won’t earn a degree, other students put off college for financial and other reasons that can lessen the likelihood that they enroll at all. During his presidency, Obama has made considerable efforts to increase the chances that students from low-income communities and communities of color can access affordable postsecondary educations.

Students who choose to delay are at considerable risk of not completing a postsecondary credential when compared with their peers who enroll immediately after high school graduation, says a National Center for Education Statistics study.
Here's how public radio explains the reality of people who don't drive Priuses and call in to the pledge drive.
It's important to note, first, what it's not, says [author Jeffrey] Selingo. Simply marking time at a low-wage, low-skilled job after graduation, while a common choice for many low-income high school graduates, actually can have negative impacts on college success.

"Students who delay college to work odd jobs for a while, as they try to 'find themselves,' don't do as well as everyone else when they get to campus," Selingo explains. "They get lower grades, and there's a greater chance they will drop out."

Instead, he adds, "For a gap year to have a significant impact, it needs to be a transformative event, quite distinct from anything that students have experienced before."
Pay close attention to that "transformative event." There will be a quiz later.

First, let's consider how Slate's Lisa Lewis reacts.
While the surveys and observational studies suggest gap years make a student more prepared for college, it’s important to note that taking such a break is simply more common among students who in many ways are already positioned for success. Students who have all the qualifications that would predispose them to excel in college then self-select again, possibly giving themselves another leg up (even this self-selection might be another indication of higher maturity, and therefore increased likelihood of success). It’s not surprising that these kids end up doing very well in college, but it is difficult to assess just how much of it is thanks to the gap year.

Students who take gap years are more likely to have parents who can foot the bill for both the the year and the college education that follows. For one thing, unlike college enrollment, federal financial aid for college can’t be deferred; the U.S. Department of Education notes that students taking a gap year would apply for the year they actually plan to enroll, which might make it harder for students on aid to plan a gap year. And while it may be well-accepted within the Ivy League, gap-year support is still far from universal: The California State University system, for instance, doesn’t have a deferral policy and requires students to reapply if they postpone enrollment for a gap year.

Of course, there are many students who defer going to college without labeling the experience as a gap year—a low-income student who spends a year working to save up money would probably just call the experience “life.” And this may or may not pay off in the long run: A sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University found that students who delayed college enrollment by more than one year were 64 percent less likely to complete their bachelor’s degree, even after eight years, than those who went directly. “Delayers tended to be from less- advantaged backgrounds, were generally low-performing in school, had kids or had gotten married before college, and started at a two-year college first,” the 2005 release on the study notes.
That sounds like standard Cold Spring Shops stuff: life management skills and bourgeois habits help.

And yet there is something missing from Ms Lewis's story, too.

That is the transformative event, or the way to strengthen one's life management skills.  It's not a gap year, it's serving a hitch.
“These student veterans are outstanding role models who exemplify character, leadership, service to the community and academic success,” [former university president John] Peters added, noting that the overall grade point average of NIU student veterans is 10 percent higher than the overall GPA of the student body. “We are proud and honored to have them as part of our community.”

Earlier this year, Military Times EDGE magazine ranked NIU 49th on its list of 101 top colleges for veterans, out of a total 4,000 institutions. G.I. Jobs magazine editors also named NIU for the second consecutive year as being among 1,120 top military friendly schools in the country, out of 8,000 colleges.

In addition to establishing the new Military Student Services office, NIU has developed orientation programs designed for and led by veterans. The university offers a special course (UNIV 201) on the college experience for veterans, has enhanced its mental health services for veterans and works to educate faculty and staff about the unique needs of veterans and students who are still in the military.

“The Chicagoland area has a high concentration of veterans who are returning home after their time in the military, and we’re committed to serving those who have served,” said Kelly Wesener, NIU assistant vice president for student services.
The gap year phenomenon, however, appears to be a U. S. News thing.  Matriculants at the land grants, mid-majors, and regional comprehensives, however, are likely to have more experience of the world than will those twentyish arrivals back in their usual bubble after their year slumming with the rest of us.

A NONANCILLARY RESTRAINT OF TRADE.

One reason early rulings on the Sherman Antitrust Act are long and soporific is that "restraint of trade" really means "unreasonable restraint of trade."  Thus, a student who signed up for antitrust and wanted more game theory in the course outline had no recourse: the university offers an antitrust course, and I prepared a course outline accordingly, and we all understood that absent those stipulations, there would be no antitrust course, nor, in the limit, a university.

But if I developed a really effective method of teaching the course, could the university compel me to not accept employment at another university for a few years, upon resignation or retirement?

The answer is: it depends.  (Is it ever not it depends?) Corporations, particularly corporations dealing in trade secrets, have an interest in keeping their creative employees from decamping to competitors and selling those secrets.  Thus the non-compete clause.
Noncompete clauses usually ban employees from going to work for a competitor or starting a competing firm for some pre-determined period of time. Such agreements have been around since at least the 1400s, with proponents defending them as a way to encourage employers to develop new technologies and invest in worker training (because they have less reason to fear losing their secrets and their valuable employees to a competitor) and critics depicting them as an unfair restraint of trade that hurts workers.
Like everything else in political economy, it comes with tradeoffs.  The buyer of a business is going to insist on protection from the seller taking the proceeds from sale and going back into the same business in competition with the buyer.  On the other hand, the secret of agglomeration economies creating clusters of innovation is the presence of opportunities for ideas to have sex.  And the article suggests that Californian treatment of non-compete clauses allowed the ideas to be in freer intercourse with one another than was the case in Massachusetts, where you'd think all those universities encircled by Route 128 would have been perfect for a spiky world.  (Make whatever pop-culture comparisons you want.)  Thus, the companies that protect their proprietary knowledge more aggressively damage their futures..  "They make it harder to create another Silicon Valley."

OPPORTUNITIES FOR BLUE COLLAR ARISTOCRATS.

That's long been a Cold Spring Shops theme.  Now comes television's Mike Rowe, making the same point, to a larger audience.  Here he chats with Forbes's Kathy Caprino.
I caught up with Mike recently to learn more about five of the damaging myths we’re taught today about blue collar work and workers. These myths include:

• There are no good jobs left in America.

• The best path to a good job is a four-year degree.

• Trade jobs are dead-end jobs.

• You can’t make six figures.

• There’s no room for women in the trades.
Misconceptions, indeed. Go, read, understand.

THE TEN TRUMPS THE KING.

That's an obscure sheepshead reference.  But sheepshead, and its Teutonic predecessors schafskopf and skat, are a little bit of Germanic pushback against being ruled by monarchs.

It's time for the electorate of the United States, consent of the governed, government of the people, by the people, and for the people and all that, to say no to elected monarchs.  That's not what Ross Douthat is seeing.
Executive-branch Caesarism has been raised to new heights by the last two presidents, and important parts of the country have responded by upping the ante, and — like ancient Israelites in the Book of Samuel — basically clamoring for a king.

That clamor is loudest from the Trumpistas and their dear leader. Donald Trump is clearly running to be an American caudillo, not the president of a constitutional republic, and his entire campaign is a cult of personality in the style of (the pro-Trump) Vladimir Putin.
That train left the station a long time ago.  Perhaps the electorate have not yet been disabused of the notion that Naggin', Crooked Hillary or Bad Improv Donald will put things right where The Magic Negro or The Compassionate Conservative could not.
Tellingly, none of these Trump-era enthusiasms involve a reinvigoration of congressional prerogatives or a renewed push for federalism and states’ rights.

Quite the reverse: They all imagine that the solution to our problems lies with a more effective and still-more-empowered president, free from antique constitutional limits and graced with a mandate that transcends partisanship.
That Sherlock Holmes maxim about eliminating the impossible imposes neither a time limit on how long it takes to conduct the elimination nor an upper bound on the ways in which explanations that must be eliminated emerge in the first place.  Mr Douthat fears it will not turn out well.  "But even if the risk of a true post-constitutional power grab is low, the arc of our history still bends toward a Trumpian conception of the presidency, which means the limits on its power will probably continue to erode — justified in the name of pragmatism, of Hamiltonian energy, of the need to 'get things done.'"

We have much to look forward to.

A SUPPOSEDLY STURDY PROP GROANS.

Northern Illinois University have been dealing with legislative stinginess and falling enrollments through something called program prioritization, which sounds like a Congressional Base Closing Commission with algorithms.

The initial program evaluations are now available, and the algorithm recommends something other than business as usual in athletics.
The program prioritization administrative task force recommends a reduction or phase-out of all accredited athletic programs offered at NIU, according to the administrative task force report released today.

Each program was put into one of five categories: candidate for enhanced resources, continue with no change in resources, continue with reduced resources, requires transformation and subject to additional review; candidate for phase-out.
Football is among the sports listed for continuation with reduced resources, Orange Bowl appearance and multiple trips to the Mid-American title game and aspirations of being the next Boise State notwithstanding.

Apparently, among the sports listed for possible phase-out, Title Nine dynamics remain in play.  "All sports in the 'additional review or phase-out' category, except cheerleading, carry the recommendation that if Athletics cannot find a way to be more self-sustaining, 'the department should consider eliminating a male, non-revenue sport,' according to the task force report."  Cheerleading is not essential to the mission.

2.5.16

SERENDIPITY.

Trump vs. the New Class is an instructive American Conservative essay that will reward careful reading.  There is one passage to which I wish to speak.
Our mobility problem results from departures from and not our adherence to capitalism. Rising inequality in America has been blamed on the “1 percent,” the people in the top income centile making more than $400,000 a year. They alone don’t explain American income immobility, however. Rather, it’s the risk-averse New Class—the 1, 2, or 3 percent, the professionals, academics, opinion leaders, and politically connected executives who float above the storm and constitute an American aristocracy. They oppose reforms that would make America mobile and have become the enemies of promise.

The New Class is apt to think it has earned its privileges through its merits, that America is still the kind of meritocracy that it was in Ragged Dick’s day, where anyone could rise from the very bottom through his talents and efforts. Today’s meritocracy is very different, however. Meritocratic parents raise meritocratic children in a highly immobile country, and the Ragged Dicks are going to stay where they are. We are meritocratic in name only. What we’ve become is Legacy Nation, a society of inherited privilege and frozen classes, and in The Way Back I explain how we got here and what we can do about it.

The most obvious barrier to mobility is a broken educational system. Our K­–12 public schools perform poorly, relative to the rest of the advanced world. As for our universities, they’re great fun for the kids, but many students emerge on graduation no better educated than when they first walked in the classroom door. What should be an elevator to the upper class is stalled on the ground floor. Part of the fault for this may be laid at the feet of the system’s entrenched interests: the teachers’ unions and the higher-education professoriate. Our schools and universities are like the old Soviet department stores whose mission was to serve the interests of the sales clerks and not the customers. Why the sales clerks should want to keep things that way is perfectly understandable. The question, however, is why this is permitted to continue, why reform efforts meet with such opposition, especially from America’s elites. The answer is that aristocracy is society’s default position. For those who stand at America’s commanding heights, social and income mobility is precisely what must be opposed, and a broken educational system wonderfully serves the purpose. As such, the New Class will oppose school choice, vouchers and parochial schools, anything that smacks of competition to a broken system.
Yes, and the gentry will have the methods and the connections to get their spawn into the institutions that claim high honors in the U. S. News rankings.  There might not be much learning going on, but there's plenty of network-building, and perhaps those youngsters already know enough to be able to handle the high-end chores.  The kids of the Ragged Dicks make do with subprime party schools.  Or get hard done by.
For the Ragged Dicks who seek to rise, nothing is more important than the rule of law, the security of property rights, and sanctity of contract provided by a mature and efficient legal system. The alternative—contract law in the state of nature—is the old-boy network composed of America’s aristocrats. They know each other, and their personal bonds supply the trust that is needed before deals can be done and promises can be relied on. We’re all made worse off when the rule of law is weak, as it is in today’s America, when promises meant to be legally binding are imperfectly enforced by the courts. But then the costs of inefficient departures from the rule of law are borne disproportionately by the Ragged Dicks who begin without the benefit of an old-boy network.

For all these barriers to mobility we can thank the members of the New Class, who dominate America’s politics and constrain our policy choices. It is they who can be blamed for the recent run-up in American income inequality. The economy has become sclerotic, and the path to advancement over the last 40 and 50 years has been blocked by a profusion of new legal and regulatory barriers, all of which they have supported. They tell us they’re upset by inequality and immobility, but we shouldn’t believe them. You can’t suck and blow.
Perhaps, though, the reclamation of a broken educational system will come from an area of College Lite that seems more like feature than bug.
No matter how many passes the NCAA takes on what still has to be labeled the largest academic fraud scandal in major-college history; no matter how many coaches and championships are walled off in denial of a history of paper classes that went back 18 years, North Carolina's reputation as a highly-regarded top-level research school -- not just the athletic department -- is being questioned by a higher power.

Belle Wheelan can tell you. The president of the regional accrediting agency charged with approving North Carolina's academic credentials remains troubled.

In her 11 years as head of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission, she has never seen anything like it -- a school this prominent being put on probation by her organization.

"It was devastating, it really was," Wheelan said. "Everybody keeps saying this is an athletic issue. This is much more than an athletic issue."

True, this is an entire University of North Carolina issue. Boiled down, it's an issue of whether the entire system is about handing out degrees or actually educating its students.
Why should anybody be surprised when "Eligibility Studies" mutates into "Retention Studies?"
While the NCAA hasn't come close to putting the words "academic" and "fraud" in the same sentence, for the commission, there was no tip-toeing around the issue. The school could lose federal funding because that's what accrediting agencies do.

They're watchdogs, making sure schools aren't defrauding the public and students in accepting those federal funds. Basically, accreditation tells the public if their degree from State U is worth a damn.

"Employers want to know, 'What good is this degree if parts of it are in question?' said Wheelan, Virginia's former education secretary. "It creates havoc, no doubt about it."
In that questioning there might exist a way to get the elevators working again for the Ragged Dicks.

MISSING WHAT'S IN PLAIN SIGHT.

Charles Homans asks readers to contemplate a "post-middle class" politics.  Here's why he's thinking that way, ringing the changes on themes that will become more familiar as the old saecular structure fractures.
America’s self-­image as a middle-­class nation is so deeply ingrained in the country’s politics that we don’t often stop to think what, precisely, that means: whether it defines a concrete socioeconomic identity — a country where most people are neither very rich nor very poor — or an aspiration, the notion that if you “work hard and play by the rules,” as Clinton put it the first time she ran for president, you’re entitled to at least a modest prosperity. “Everyday Americans” was an attempt to acknowledge that the gap between these two ideas has widened to the point that ignoring it seems out of touch. Yet in its reversal, the campaign inadvertently revealed just how ill ­equipped American politics is for a post-­middle-­class nation — how deeply the way the country speaks of itself is tied up with these aspirations, even as more and more of its citizens come to see them as out of reach.
There's much for contemplation here.  We could consider, for instance, what happens when working hard and playing by the rules becomes a formula for privilege-shaming.  Mr Homans is thinking about something else, namely the consequences of the peace dividend that too many pundits don't fully understand.
When people spoke of the middle class in the years immediately after World War II, they were typically talking about the group identified by the sociologist C.Wright Mills in his 1951 book, “White Collar”: the usually college-­educated, deskbound employees of a newly technocratic, corporate economy. It was only a few years later that the definition was generally extended to include skilled blue-­collar workers, who were now earning solid incomes on account of a booming postwar industrial economy and of unions that made sure their members got an equitable piece of it.

The confluence of these two groups — a vision of insurance salesmen and machine operators, mowing the lawns of adjoining split-­level ranches and talking about Sunday’s game — felt extraordinary even in its own time, seemingly incontrovertible proof that American capitalism worked.
Yes, that's The America That Worked(TM) and it came apart for a number of reasons, many of which involve the political economy of globalization and the workings of comparative advantages as what used to be advanced technology tasks became routine.  But the last Democratic candidate who had the opportunity to propose that the government remove the racial barriers while preserving bourgeois conventions was Bill Clinton, in 1992.
“The one thing that it’s going to take to bring this country together is somebody’s got to come back to the so-­called Reagan Democratic area and say: ‘Look, I’ll give you your values back. I’ll restore the economic leadership, I’ll help you build the middle class back.’ But you’ve got to say, ‘O.K., let’s do it with everybody in this country.’ ”
For which he took stick from the identity-politics part of his coalition.  Thus, it's been a bad quarter-century for bourgeois convention.


Thus the popularity of one Donald J. Trump.
The aspirational idea of the middle class spoke to the notion that even if Americans were in various stages of prosperity, they were all understood to be heading in the same general direction. But what happens when that’s no longer true? On one end of the “middle class” spectrum is a dream inexorably receding from view; on the other is a pair of socioeconomic blinders obscuring the harsher economic realities of those further down the scale. “The upper middle class are surprised by the rise of Trump,” [Brookings analyst Richard] Reeves told me. “The actual middle class are surprised we’re surprised.”
That generalization is more likely true of the bicoastal upper-middle class types in their enclaves of smug, where residents enjoy the privileges of sneering at and sticking rhetorical fingers in the eyes of people who don't qualify as the gentry's mascots.

A SMALL VICTORY.

The City of DeKalb's traffic department is soliciting comments on unnecessary delays brought about by maltimed traffic lights.

I've already said my piece.  Thanks for asking.

NOW COMES THE TRIAL.

The Inquisitors-in-charge at Marquette University had hoped that political scientist John "Marquette Warrior" McAdams would either recant or quietly go away.  Or perhaps he, like a cowed fraternity member, would accept the chastisings of the Wise Experts in Charge, say an Act of Contrition, and perhaps clean the sidewalk in front of the Joan of Arc Chapel with a toothbrush.

Professor McAdams is not the kind of man to "roll over," to quote Charlie Sykes.

Did you know he was once in trouble for questioning Marquette's annual performance of Vagina Monologues?  Yeah, that's so last year, that play so oppressively suggests that women have ...

See you in court, Marquette.
[Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty] President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg in announcing the lawsuit against Marquette noted that, “For blogging and defending an undergraduate student, Professor McAdams is being suspended. But it is worse than that. He is being told that he will be fired unless, in the manner of a Soviet show trial, he confesses guilt and admits that his conduct was “reckless.””
The story is breaking as I write. There will be time for a full roundup of reaction tomorrow.

1.5.16

WORTH TRAVELING AGAIN.

Amtrak celebrates its 45th birthday.  Here's the 40th birthday post.  That was an eventful weekend in Milwaukee.  The night before, April 30, 1971, the Milwaukee Bucks had swept the Baltimore Bullets to win their first, and thus far only, professional basketball championship.  Passenger trains for and from Madison and Green Bay were making their last runs.  And Amtrak was -- or perhaps not, the litigation in that era of regulated railroads was nerve-racking -- going to commence operation of most of the intercity passenger trains on May Day.

At the Milwaukee Union Station, the first signs were encouraging.  Milwaukee Road had removed its relatively new semi-streamlined FP45 diesels from passenger service, but the reliable E units were fresh off the wash track.


The service offered was rudimentary: three Chicago trains each way, plus the new Seattle service running on approximately the old Morning Hiawatha timings.  We would not see the first eastbound Seattle train until Monday, as the departure of April 30 stayed on Burlington Northern rails into Chicago.


That's all there was of the Midwest regional service in those days.  Note that the New Orleans train was still the day City of New Orleans -- it later became the overnight Panama Limited, and then got the City of New Orleans name, perhaps in part because the Arlo Guthrie remake of a Steve Goodman song started topping the charts in 1972.  Two St. Louis trains, two Detroit trains, and no free rein to 110 on either line.  And passengers for or from Florida, New Orleans, Cincinnati, or Carbondale trains still had to change stations in Chicago.  Milwaukee service, ninety minutes with a Glenview stop.  The Sturtevant stop commenced with this July 1971 timetable.

But still some hints of the Milwaukee Road tradition remained.  The first Amtrak train into Milwaukee was 27 from Chicago.


That's the same schedule that once, in the 1930s, ran as two sections in order that following train 29 could leave Chicago as scheduled and then run to Milwaukee as fast as the engineer could make it go, in order to bring out the 75 minute Hiawathas.

We still don't have 75 minute Hiawathas, but there are more trains, and the timings are better.


The Milwaukee service schedule does not list the times for Seven and Eight, which do not carry passengers locally between Milwaukee and Chicago.  There's still no food service on the trains.  And getting from three trains to seven (six on Sunday) has taken time.  Amtrak's original slogan was, "We're making the trains worth traveling again."  Slowly, haltingly, despite all sorts of malfeasance internal and external, they have.

MAKE THE CHANGE BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE MAKES YOU.

In my days on university committees or faculty senate, I'd sometimes hear, as a lame reason for doing something that didn't make sense, that it might be better for the university to get some control over what was going to be done to it by doing the deed first.

Perhaps, though, it is going to be legislative oversight that will convince Eastern Michigan University, and perhaps the rest of the compass direction Michigans of the Mid-American, to think creatively about football.
By comparison, the state’s general appropriations for Lake Superior State University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan-Flint are each smaller than the athletic subsidies at EMU and WMU.

This student and taxpayer-supported spending hasn’t shown up in on-field performance. Since Eastern Michigan University joined the NCAA’s Division I and the Mid-American Conference in 1972, its football team has performed consistently poorly. In 43 seasons, its teams have won just one MAC championship, have never finished the season ranked in the top 25 teams in the country and have appeared in just one postseason bowl game.

During this time, [Western] did slightly better, winning the conference once and appearing in six bowl games. Central Michigan University, which ranked 39th with a $19.4 million subsidy, has won seven MAC championships and appeared in nine bowl games.

It's unlikely that any EMU alumni still paying off student loan debt ever got to watch a winning football team funded with their borrowed money.

Before more graduates begin paying interest on their non-voluntary investment in historically bad athletics, leaders at EMU and in the Michigan Legislature should take a clear look at the costs and benefits of literally playing games with tax and tuition dollars. The state subsidizes these universities because, in theory, they serve a public purpose. Surely, there are more pressing public uses for tax dollars in Michigan than ensuring EMU continues to field a football team that went 1-11 in 2015 and hasn't had a winning season since 1995.
Yes, and the students are on the hook for those athletics fees in part because legislatures and governing boards have wanted to reduce public spending on college sports, but within the universities, the cargo cult, as University Diaries has it, must go on.
The leadership of all of these universities — president, trustees — goes ape-shit whenever anyone suggests that the all-consuming activity that has basically killed their school is meaningless. (Faculty and students, two groups immiserated by athletics, feel differently, but who listens to them?) The ferocity of their unanimous response to suggestions that they lead their university in a more meaningful as well as fiscally responsible direction tells you that for these people taking down a university through the removal of all revenues via football is obviously patently totally on the face of it worth it.
In the scheme of things, the cargo cult of academic visibility induced by successful sports is less pernicious than the cargo cult of social harmony induced by electing Democrats, but as long as we're sweeping away bad ideas, lets go after the ridiculous and the tragic alike.

WAS THE VICTORY DIVIDEND A RESOURCE CURSE?

Belmont Club contemplates the Venezuelan collapse, then draws parallels to what's going on in the United States.
"Countries that rely on natural resource exports may tend to neglect education because they see no immediate need for it. Resource-poor economies like Singapore, Taiwan or South Korea, by contrast, spent enormous efforts on education."  The more reliant a country on found wealth the more vulnerable it is to the siren song of revolutionary firebrands and apocalyptic ideologies.

The resource curse duly gave Venezuela the expected succession of corrupt and incompetent governments.  But when the Venezuelans sought relief from the ordinarily corrupt governments in a Marxist named Hugo Chavez, they found it was possible to go from bad to worse.  A Marxist government, disastrous in itself, was supercharged by the culture of corruption and the availability of ready money. The joint effect was disaster.
The broadly shared prosperity of the late 1940s and 1950s that the idiot left did everything possible to mock until it was gone had in common with the resource curse a reliance on found wealth (well, the absence of competing industrial bases that had been bombed, or subject to communist planning) and a neglect on education bordering on anti-intellectualism.  Thus, Venezuela.
The lights didn't go out in Caracas all at once.  The wiring was stolen bit by bit; the turbines had been neglected year by year; the engineers had departed plane by plane until Earth Day came down like a shroud and without apparent end.
Closer to home, ominous signs proliferate.

CUT THROUGH THE WORDNOISE.

The point of recondite and obscurantist academic prose is sometimes to sneer at people without doing something as blatant as the thumb to the nose.  Here, from Phi Beta Cons, is an example, from a linguistics post-doc, one Patrick Callier, who has access to the Stanford postmodern phrase generator.
This article critically examines the mass-mediated portrayal of social class and commodity formulation in a corpus of US television advertisements for the Ford F-150 pickup truck, aired in 2007. The use of stereotypical diacritics of white-collar and blue-collar social identities in the ads circulates a representation of class identities as consumer categories, even as the ads’ portrayals of class difference reproduce hegemonic relationships of markedness between ‘middle-class’ consumers and other social categories. Examining representations of different phases of commodity formulation and social voices loosely associated with these phases, I show how various social identities are subjugated to the commercial ends of the advertising encounter, and how the advertisements both induce consumer behavior as well as reshape hegemonic understandings of social difference and inequality.
I think that means pickup trucks haul manure, building materials, and pull horse trailers and motorboats.  Here's Barton Hinkle, attempting a translation.
The subject of this pompous gibberish was TV ads for F-150 pickup trucks. The author is trying to say that truck ads use class stereotypes to sell trucks and, in doing so, they affect how people think about economic and social class.
That "reshape hegemonic understandings" is a fancy way of saying "confirm prejudices."  The article is behind Sage's paywall, perhaps if I want to use my library privileges, I can view it there.  I bet, though, that nowhere in the article is there any discussion of the hegemonic relationship of markedness that's reinforced when a wine-sipping, public-television watching humanities type with a cat named Linda Ellerbee is channel-surfing from WTTW to MSNBC, and catches a glimpse of a pickup truck commercial just enough to praise Gaia that ze is a more refined life-form.

PARTY LIKE IT'S 1999.

A New York Times survey asks U. S. voters "When was America greatest?"
Over all, 2000 was the most popular choice, a preference that cut across political party, candidate preference, gender and age. The year’s popularity may partly reflect people’s fondness for round numbers. But many voters explained their choice by referring to a greater sense of security. The Sept. 11 attacks occurred the following year.
Current voters are people born in or before 1998.  For the youngest such voters, it's been nothing but turmoil for most of their lives.  Was it the hung election in Florida or the September 11 attacks or the crash of the financial markets that triggered the fourth turning?  But the signs of trouble were proliferating long before the turn of the millennium.  In my view, the deterioration began as early as 1962.  That might be on the minds of Trump voters my age and older as well.

Yes, there's a lot of sentiment among Republican voters for the prosperous and peaceful Reagan years (1985-1989) as the greatest days, but the rot in entertainment and the mediating institutions had already set in.

29.4.16

28.4.16

THANKS A MILLION.

Some years ago, Blogger provided a page view counter, which I see has now rolled over to seven digits.

That may be an artifact of longevity more than anything else.  There are doubtless sites that garner as many page views in a month, or a week.

Thanks, all the same, for looking in, and commenting.

Perhaps you've found intellectual ammunition.

Perhaps I've encouraged you to look at something differently.

Perhaps you've resolved not to take risks crossing railroad tracks.

Perhaps I've rubbed you the wrong way.

Enjoy.

If any of you I've offended ...

GOVERNMENT FAILURE.

In the midst of the troubles Washington D. C. is having keeping Richard Nixon's Moscow envy running, Metro rediscovers the Capital's lost streetcar subway.
In the 1951 sci-fi movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still," pedestrians are seen descending staircases on the edge of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. These days, the stairs are still there, but now they’re blocked off. They led to a once-busy 75,000-square-foot below-ground streetcar station built in 1949. The station has been closed since 1962.

Dupont Circle’s ghostly streetcar station is another reminder that America once had an extensive and efficient interurban transit system. Now, as cities from Buffalo to San Diego look to light rail — today’s iteration of the streetcar, which itself evolved from the horse-drawn omnibus — it’s worth thinking about the astonishing transit system we built and then threw away.
Private capital built the streetcar systems.  Rent-seekers destroyed them.
A century ago, there were nearly 34,000 miles of streetcar tracks connecting neighborhoods to downtowns, and towns to neighboring towns. (I’ve been told that it was possible to travel from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia on local streetcars and trolleys, although that would have been one long and unpleasant trip.)
In fact, it was once possible to ride local streetcars and interurbans from somewhere near Albany all the way to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The fastest running was between Cleveland and Toledo, and again in the Chicago area. But only an intrepid adventurer would essay such a trip. There may be such an account in the rudimentary rail enthusiast press of the day.
Overwhelmingly, those tracks were built by private investors. In the late 19th and early 20th century, it was streetcars, not automobiles, that created the first suburbs.

If you live in an urban area, the evidence is all around you. I live in D.C., not far off Connecticut Avenue, which is broad and gently graded because of the streetcars that once ran along it. The Chevy Chase Land Co. built Connecticut Avenue across miles of farmland to take people from the suburb that still bears the company’s name to downtown D.C., eventually linking up to that now-deserted Dupont Circle station.

Connecticut Avenue’s streetcar tracks are long gone, but down in Georgetown, you can take a bumpy car ride along blocks of cobblestoned side streets where trolley rails remain in place.
Look at video of the John Kennedy funeral. The march from the White House to the parish church is along Connecticut, and the tracks are visible.  Seeking a streetcar suburb?  One still exists, complete with the cars.  Shaker Heights in Ohio used to be served by Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, now an authority.

PER COROLLARY, IS THE I-PASS UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

Germany is installing tolling on die Autobahnen.  (That's one European social democratic feature I could get on board with here.)  But German residents (citizens? taxpayers?) get part of their toll rebated against their motor vehicle taxes, and that's creating an international incident.
This, the European Commission said on Thursday, unfairly discriminates against foreign drivers, including those from EU member states, therefore violating EU law.

"It is the Commission's duty – as Guardian of the Treaties – to ensure that such charges do not discriminate between domestic and foreign drivers in the EU," the Commission wrote in a statement.

Germany has two months to make reforms to the planned toll, or the Commission says it will bring the country to the European Court of Justice.
Here in Corruptistan, motorists get an inducement to purchase the I-Pass (or the EZ-Pass, which works in several states) each time they pass a tolling station, as there is a sign comparing the cash rate with the lower pass rate.  But to subscribe to the I-Pass or the EZ-Pass requires a motorist to put some cash on deposit with the tollway authority.  It's worth doing for an Illinois resident who uses the Tollway a lot, particularly to reach the turnpikes heading east.  It's not worth doing for a Nebraskan or Arkansan making an occasional visit to the state.  Are those Huskers and Razorbacks facing undue prejudice?

RECLAIMING THE CULTURE.

Here's Laura Hollis, calling out the real Destructive Generation.
It's the absurd notion that the past has nothing to teach us that has gotten us where we are today. It's popular to deride the millennial generation as coddled "special snowflakes." But it's the baby boomers who absolutely cannot admit that they were wrong.

And oh, were they wrong. Theirs was the generation that gave us "Don't trust anyone over 30," and their obsession with youth has produced 50 years of deliberate disregard of the wisdom that comes with age. Etiquette was one of the first casualties.

Nowhere is this clearer than with the "sexual revolution," which has been an unmitigated disaster. Rampant divorce? Check. Fatherless children and impoverished families? Check. Spread of sexually transmitted diseases among young people? Check. Hyper-sexualization of children? Check. "Rape culture" on college campuses? Check. (Seriously -- you cannot have a culture that treats sex like a spectator sport and then feign shock when young people treat it like a spectator sport.)
The baby boomers were victory babies, whose G. I. parents had been through hell and simply wanted to kick back.  Between the boomers and the Greatest Generation were the so-called Silents (anybody who ever sat through a faculty meeting any time between 1970 and 2010 would know otherwise) who, unable to embark on a long march to victory through Europe, made a long march through the institutions.  That set the kids free, and kids will be kids.
Even some of the most contentious issues of our day could have a significant amount of friction lessened with a little bit of etiquette and propriety: a young woman has too much to drink on a date? A young man raised to be a gentleman would not dream of taking advantage of her. A man is walking down the street wearing women's clothing? Propriety would suggest a smile and a "Good morning" and not remarking any further upon it. Your gay nephew and his significant other announce their marriage, civil union or commitment ceremony? Good manners dictate a thoughtful gift and a handwritten card if you cannot -- or prefer not to -- attend.

A number of societal trends have rushed into the vacuum left by etiquette's unceremonious expulsion, and none of them are good. The first of these is the adolescent insistence upon constant affirmation and public expressions of approval. This attitude has created nothing short of an ongoing national temper tantrum. For heaven's sake, grow up. Everyone isn't going to "approve" of you, and it is puerile to insist upon it.
But the institutions that were deconstructed were civilization itself.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, polite behavior based upon widely acknowledged social mores is vitally important to the smooth operation of a liberal society. In its absence, we do not have more freedom, but exhibitionism and offense and conflict and oppression.
Indeed so. Rediscovering a fundamental principle is not the same thing as restoring a lost era.
[N]ot everything contemporary is "better," nor does progress preclude us from appreciating things in the past that actually have something to offer. Chaucer is still wickedly funny; Shakespeare's plays and poetry are still genius; John Milton is still poignant and inspirational, and we still teach -- and play -- the works of Mozart and Beethoven. That's not saying we want to live in the 14th, 16th or 18th centuries.

If we can appreciate Botticelli and Bach without a desire to live in their eras, so, too, can we look back and decide that the decorum associated with an earlier age still has a place today, notwithstanding -- or perhaps because of -- our modernity.
Robert Tracinski (I always want to insert an "syz" in there somewhere) offers a variation on that last theme.
Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, the great works in the canon of serious music, do have a timeless and universal value. They are more complex, deeper, more profound, and the more you listen to them the more you get out of them, over a period of decades.

I played Chopin’s Etude in E Major (well, a simplified version) when I was taking piano lessons as a kid, but it was only much later that I really understand what it’s about, both the technical aspects of it and its emotional meaning. So I’m slowly working on learning it again (the full, hi-test version). I’m still only a so-so musician and Chopin is fiendishly difficult, so give me a year of solid work and I might get somewhere with it. But my point is that it’s worth that kind of effort, even if you’re only playing for your own pleasure—which popular music rarely is.
Reclaim education. Reclaim manners. Reclaim the fine arts.

Put another way, in 400 years, how familiar will people be with Bowie and Prince?  What are the odds on Cervantes or Shakespeare, better-known, or unknown?
I don’t say this to disparage popular music, even though I suspect that in a hundred years, most of it will be remembered about as widely as Mairzy Doats. (Look it up, kids.(*)) A simple and catchy tune is perfectly valuable on its own merits, and not every piece of music or television show or movie has to engage the brain at full capacity.

But the middle-brow cultural establishment is determined to freight the flotsam and jetsam of popular culture with more intellectual weight than it can carry, sinking it under a lot of pretentious commentary about its very great significance.
What the gatekeepers reward, they get more of. Theorizing crap (or gendering Thomas the Tank Engine) gets you tenure.
Back when I lived in Chicago, I went to a public concert put on by the Lyric Opera, and in amongst the crowd-pleasers by Mozart and Puccini they slipped some screeching piece of modern opera. Afterwards, observing the fidgeting impatience of the audience, the emcee informed us—and I’ll never forget his exact words—”It’s really quite beautiful, I assure you.” We had just heard it with our own ears, and if it had been beautiful, we probably would have noticed. But he had to tell us the correct conclusion we were supposed to come to.

That pretty much sums up the impact of twentieth-century modernism, which knocked down all of the conventions of highbrow art while still trying to steal its prestige. Instead, they simply used up its credibility and drove away its audience.
Like anything else, when people figure out that something useful is missing, they'll figure out a way to reclaim it.

(*)If the words sound queer, And funny to your ears, A little bit jumbled and jivey, Sing Mares Eat Oats.  And Does Eat Oats.  And Little Lambs Eat Ivy.

WHAT DIFFERENCE, AT THIS POINT, DOES IT MAKE?

A Common Dreams writer frets about the outcome of the Democrat primary in some down-ticket races out east.
A disappointing election night for progressives ended Tuesday with two establishment Democrats, Katie McGinty and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, winning their respective U.S. Senate primary races in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Van Hollen won against Rep. Donna Edwards, both of whom were running to replace Sen. Barbara Mikulski, in a contest that highlighted racial, gender, and class divides in the Maryland Democratic Party.
I'm not sure what this carping about "establishment Democrats" is. The tussle, if there is one, is over symbolism, not substance.  The party platform will be substantively bad no matter who stands on it.
At a union hall in Prince George's County Tuesday night, Edwards gave a passionate concession speech that criticized the Democratic Party's faux-progressive mantle.

"To my Democratic Party, you cannot show up in churches before election day, you cannot sing the first and last verse of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' you cannot join hands and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and call that post-racial and inclusion," she said to cheers and applause.

"To my Democratic Party, let me say that today Maryland is on the verge of having an all-male delegation in a so-called progressive state. So what I want to know from my Democratic Party, is when will the voices of people of color, when will the voices of women, when will the voices of labor, when will the voices of black women, when will our voices be effective, legitimate, equal leaders in a big-tent party?" she said.
Does it really matter what church or mosque the candidate attends, or what kind of marriage the candidate is in or out of, or what potty the candidate uses, as long as Baltimore is a paradigm of what Democrat ward-heeler politicians do?

Meanwhile, the establishment Republicans are having trouble managing play in Two No-Trump, and Roger Simon sees in a Trump candidacy a chance to pry some of the Democrats' victims away.
The African-American community is in a miserable condition that has been getting worse for decades and has reached its nadir under Obama -- two-parent families disappearing, unemployment rates skyrocketing, incarceration rates catastrophic, drug addiction epidemic. We all look on in despair as gang members shoot children in the streets of Chicago and murders -- almost all black-on-black -- proliferate in Baltimore after years of decline.

What is to be done about all this? Hillary Clinton will certainly have plenty to say, but it will all be the same old disingenuous bilge. She can't be part of the solution because she -- like the Democratic Party she has served loyally for almost her entire life -- is part of the problem. For reasons of moral narcissism and political expediency, beginning with the Great Society that party has set up a system in black communities that has trapped African-Americans into a non-stop cycle of government dependency, turning them into what talk show host Larry Elder dubbed "victocrats," believers in perpetual victimhood, a self-fulfilling prophecy, if there ever was one. The #blacklivesmatter movement is only the most recent avatar.

Many black people -- just not the brilliant minds like Thomas Sowell and Elder -- know this. They are just constrained by the atmosphere in their communities, the evil influence and machinations of those like Reverend Al and Maxine Waters, against speaking up.  Others have simply given up. It's hard to blame them. How do you break this cycle?

Enter Donald Trump.
That's going to call for specifics. But here, some of the groundwork already exists.
As luck would have it, one of Trump's signature campaign goals -- bringing jobs back to America -- refers directly to one of the key problems of black America -- rampant unemployment. But it gets more specific. Trump speaks continually of American corporations -- Carrier, Pfizer, and Ford, among others -- moving their factories out of our country to lower their taxes and other costs, while we lose jobs.

What if Trump were to propose that those corporations could return to America tax free (for a certain amount of time), if they were to build those new factories not in foreign countries but in our own disadvantaged communities? (This is a variant on the old Jack Kemp opportunity-zone idea.) In the case of a Ford, Trump could go further, talking to the UAW and asking them to reduce their minimums in those communities as well (for a similar amount of time) until the local work forces were sufficiently trained and the factories humming. The man who invented, or at least wrote, The Art of the Deal should be able to get this done. It would be a win, win, win for everybody.

Republicans always claim capitalism is the true motor of society and that earning a decent wage for honest work is far better for the psyche than a welfare check. And they're right, of course. But they don't do anything to demonstrate it -- all talk and no action. This is their opportunity.
Perhaps a Republican Congress would go along with such a proposal.  Undoubtedly the usual ankle-biters would carp about the usual tax breaks to the rich.  And the unions would seek a restoration of the Treaty of Detroit.  But the current U. S. workforce is more like a third world workforce than a workforce that can participate in the creation of knowledge-intensive advanced-technology goods for exports, as used to be the basis of the U. S. comparative advantage.

Thus, the mugging by reality might have to go on, and get worse rather than better.  Hence Chicago Boy Jonathan.
The candidacies of Trump and Sanders are in large part responses to public concerns about the problems [Lord] Salisbury describes. They are inadequate responses, likely to fail politically and on their own terms and eventually to be superseded by other responses. The pot will continue to boil at greater or lesser intensity depending on who gets elected and what follows. It seems unlikely that the underlying problems will begin to be solved unless the voters develop a realistic understanding of what needs to be done, and start electing politicians who are both willing and competent to do it. It may be a while.
We have much to look forward to.

DEAL WITH THE DISTRESSED MATERIAL.

There's plenty turning up at the college gates.  "Around one-third of 12th-graders were ready for college-level courses in mathematics and reading, according to last year’s test results."  Thus inequality.
“The students at the top of the distribution are going up and the students at the bottom of the distribution are going down,” Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, told The Wall Street Journal. “There is a widening of the gap between higher and lower-ability students.”
The highest ability students are forting up at the U. S. News approved enclaves.  The devil take the hindmost, warns Adam Tyner in Real Clear Education.
But while we often focus on the elites, only a small fraction of students actually attend this type of hyperselective institution, and those enrolling in less selective institutions face an altogether different dilemma: what will happen after enrollment? Roughly half of students who enroll in college fail to complete, and the resulting waste drains public resources and can seriously harm students’ lives.

Under open access policies, students can access financial aid irrespective of prior academic achievement, and colleges and universities enroll many students who are unlikely to complete their degree programs. Sure, everyone who goes to college will face challenges; earning a bachelor’s degree is not supposed to be easy. But for students who haven’t demonstrated college readiness by earning good grades or good scores on college entrance exams, the statistics are bleak.

As you can see in the figure below, as enrollment has increased to nearly 70 percent in recent years, college completion rates and, relatedly, college readiness indicators are stuck below 40 percent of the adult population. Millions of students are enrolling in college despite not being prepared for the academic rigor of higher education. The Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli calls this the “readiness gap,” and it is persistent. Under open access, colleges admit these academically underprepared students, but many end up in a kind of worst case scenario: with debt from college, but without a college degree.

(Remediation is supposed to solve the readiness problem, but it is usually insufficient, and it is costing us a fortune.)
How bad is it? Bad enough that people in the trenches are suggesting it's time to do something else.
Consistently poor college completion rates for academically unprepared students have prompted calls to raise admission requirements and limit access to financial aid. In their book “Community Colleges and the Access Effect,” two community college professors argue that open access policies are leading to declining academic rigor and, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, they advocate “demanding more of students before granting them access to financial aid.” Likewise, Mr. Petrilli calls on higher education institutions to “stop admitting students who are far from ready to succeed in college.”

Although the professors and Mr. Petrilli raise valid concerns about threats to academic standards and the dangers of the readiness gap, tightening access to admission and financial aid in this way would necessarily limit opportunities for many disadvantaged students who are capable of turning their academic careers around. Since students have strong individual incentives not to waste their own time and money, restricting access is probably not the best mechanism to stimulate better completion rates.
That runs contrary to all the ways U. S. practitioners of higher education believe in second chances.  The place to demand more of students, though, is in kindergarten.
The ultimate goal must be increasing completion through greater readiness, meaning that signals must come early enough for students to make the changes that will enable success. Middle schools and high schools can continue encouraging a can-do attitude towards academics while giving students strong quantitative signals of their readiness along the way. Getting students’ families clued in to the challenges they are likely to face in college may also stimulate political pressure to create more alternative pathways for students who need options other than pursuit of the bachelor’s degree.
Yes, and let's get the taxpayers on board with no longer having to pay for high school twice.  Particularly, let's get the taxpayers on board if a future Democrat president and Congress mandate free college for at least some people.  Here's Matthew M. Chingos of Brookings, with the social science.  "Using nationally representative data on in-state students at public institutions, I find that students from higher income families would receive a disproportionate share of the benefits of free college, largely because they tend to attend more expensive institutions."  Go there if you want the supporting details, the qualifying remarks, the general equilbrium considerations, and the suggestions for future research.  No lack of good political economy questions.  We can summarize it in Mrs Clinton's campaign line about Donald Trump's kids being able to afford college.  The problem, whether it's a subsidy for everybody, or a subsidy for kids from straitened circumstances, is that somebody among the two-thirds of high school graduates who isn't college ready isn't going to have a shot at an upper middle-class job, and that's true with or without student loans.

NACHALSTVO.

California-Davis chancellor Linda Katehi has been suspended, not exiled to Gulag.

Has nothing to do with consorting with known subversives at DeVry or covering up suppression of curricular riot with chemical weapons.
Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California System, placed Katehi on leave, citing possible "serious violations" of university policy with regard to conflict of interest and the employment of family members. A letter from Napolitano to Katehi said that the chancellor's daughter-in-law has received "promotions and salary increases over a two-and-a-half-year period that have increased her pay by over $50,000 and have resulted in several title changes. During that same period, you put forward a pay increase of over 20 percent and a title change for your daughter-in-law's supervisor."

Further, Napolitano's letter said, the academic program that employs Katehi's son has been moved into the department where her daughter-in-law works, and "placed under her direct supervision."
Used to be, aspiring academicians were advised, "A job for your wife?  Only when you're famous enough not to need it."

Used to be, the canonical academic novel had a toxic power couple (doesn't matter what sort of toxicity) as the basis for all the plot twists.  Usually in the English department.  Economists tend not to write academic novels.

Used to be, the expression "trailing spouse" meant "inducement for famous academician" in one department and "trouble" for another department.

Those used-to-bes must be for the little people.

Our universities are being run by stupid people.