14.5.21

TAIL TRACK.

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

RECOGNITION AND IMPLEMENTATION LAGS.

Our Political Masters have finally decided that people who receive their Trump shots can lose their Biden muzzles.  "Long overdue," according to Robby Soave.
If even the notoriously risk-averse CDC says the vaccinated can put away their masks, then there's no reason to keep local restrictions in place. If you're not vaccinated, get vaccinated; if you are vaccinated, do whatever you want. All government mandates should reflect this reality.
All of it needs to go, according to Robert Verbruggen.
We should not be imposing restrictions on Americans to protect those who’ve chosen to put themselves at risk — and who, disproportionately, oppose the restrictions just as much as they distrust the vaccines anyway. We also should not impose restrictions in deference to the folks who have managed to become addicted to the thrill of being stricter than everyone else about COVID protocols, even long after they’ve been vaccinated.
Those addicts, and their enablers in state and local governments, and some punctilious business owners, ought be governed accordingly. "Given all the above, it is a travesty that so many schools are still operating in hybrid, that mask mandates are still in effect, and that some venues still have to limit their capacity."

Looks like even Illinois governor J. B. "My ukases have a higher death toll" Pritzker is going to revise his dictates.  Look for that information in Monday's weekly update.

FRIDAY short TAKES.

Here comes this week's (somewhat unwieldy) roundup of posts that caught my attention, generally because they could be reduced to one pithy remark, which too often was buried in the concluding paragraph. Follow the links for elaboration. Sometimes that includes a refresher on fundamental Cold Spring Shops.

1.  Kevin D. Williamson smacks one Donald Trump.  "He’s not Ronald Reagan — he’s Brett Favre."

2.  Soporific, boring, Normal-antagonizing public broadcasting.  "They’ve had one too many sermons from one too many condescending, nasal-toned grandee."

3.  "Really dumb," according to Matthew Yglesias.

4.  An empty intersection of race and class?  "If non-rich white voters believe that redistributive policies take money from white people like them and give it [to] racial others, then it will be easier for the anti-redistribution party to prevail in elections; if such voters believe that redistributive policies take money from the rich and give it to working people like them, then the pro-redistribution party will have the upper hand."  It's a grand fiction either way, but that short take takes elaboration.

5.  Put some malaise on that crap sandwich.  "How much financial pain are we going to have to live through to get to the next Reagan?"

6Speaking of malaise, "The root of the problem is that Jimmy Carter is the first Process President in American history."  From 1978.  You could have listened to me, dear reader, now you can learn for yourself.

7.  No, you can't write off those New York State and City income and property taxes, plutocrat.  "I can't stress how much that I believe that is a giveaway to the rich."


9Tradeoffs, everywhere.  "Democrats can be the party that demands wealthy Americans pay higher taxes or they can be the party that favors [unlimited deduction of local taxes]."

10.  More wisdom from Harvey Mansfield.  “Harvard’s standing has fallen, and I would blame the three evils of affirmative action, grade inflation, and political correctness.”

11.  Lowered standards in the name of equity give equity a bad name.

12.  The technocracy skeptic in me concurs.  "The hybrid driver in me suspects that this won’t be the last gas supply shock."

13Efficiency tends to look messy.  Plus a pretty good smackdown of zoning: "Splitting a city into residential, commercial and business zones is like throwing dough, cheese and pepperoni into the different compartments of a bento box and calling it a pizza."


15.  The value of being able to make connections, and continue to learn.  "The idea that history isn’t an employable degree is just bizarre."

16Compensating differentials exist.  "The wages for a harder, riskier job should be higher."


18Careers can be destroyed for stepping out of line.  See also entry 14: if the dean issues an official position, that's an orthodoxy.  The competition for research grants also establishes an orthodoxy.  " Any virologist who challenges the community’s declared view risks having his next grant application turned down by the panel of fellow virologists that advises the government grant distribution agency."  That's part of a long and technical article, and it hints at a tradeoff to gain-of-function research.  "Now the logical progression for vaccines is, if you are going to develop a vaccine for SARS, people are going to use pandemic SARS, but let’s insert some of these other things and get a better vaccine."  The research papers are waiting to be written.


20Politics are dangerous to everybody.  "Some say an idiot did get control of it for a while. And some say another idiot is in control now."

21Voters should take note.  The malaise is not going to get any better.

22Exchange, specialization, and cooperation.  "[P]rivate property rights provide the institutional framework that allows individuals to learn how to compete for goods and resources in a peaceful and productive manner. This peaceful and productive form of competition manifests itself in the form of specialization and exchange, the defining attribute of private property."

23.  Let the ruling classes tremble.  "Now the ruling class is trying to blame those who were right [about the corona tyranny] from the start. Don’t let them."

24Enlightened self-interest for the win. “Lockdown jurisdictions were not able to prevent noncompliance, and non-lockdown jurisdictions benefited from voluntary changes in behavior that mimicked lockdowns.”


26There is no such thing as a free bridge.  "The Hernando de Soto span connecting Memphis to Arkansas on one of America’s most important interstate highways is closed until further notice after dangerous cracks were found."  I've crossed that thing a few times, never once paid a toll.

27.  Susan Collins is mugged by reality.  "I always considered the [Centers for Disease Control] to be the gold standard. I don't anymore."

28.  WeltverschlechtererDas ist alles.  Prosit.

A HALF CENTURY OF HIGHER EDUCATION BREAKING THE SOCIAL CONTRACT.

My "Costs of Correctness" essay from spring, 1991 relied on the work of others who diagnosed the same ills.  Columbia's Richard Hofstadter attempted to work during the madness of the late 1960s, and he might have been mugged by reality.
Hofstadter correctly foresaw that strong forces were building up to turn American higher education away from the search for truth and into an engine of political change. In his view, education was about unfettered inquiry into all sorts of truths. He was right to see danger to that. Many questions are now forbidden because they challenge entrenched “progressive” ideology.
It used to be that ethical professors could keep their personal views separate from their classroom work.  If you have a long memory, dear reader, consider a Paper Chase episode in which the law students got caught up in a protest to save a campus watering hole, and their foil, the imposing Professor Kingsfield, was serving as general counsel for the university in the condemnation case.  But he also chided one of the students about not taking the time to read some case, which the student read, then understood that it offered legal grounds for the historic preservation of the tavern, then muttered, "Kingsfield didn't know what he was doing;" then, after a moment's reflection, the penny dropped, "He did know what he was doing."  Which was equipping students to do the work.  That's work in the real sense, not in the sloganeering version the student affairs types and their enablers in the senior administration invoke.

The problem, though, might be that there's a tension between learning for its own sake, and learning for the sake of individual advancement.  The noisy lefties of the late 1960s and early 1970s were eternally about raising consciousness in vocational disciplines like commerce or engineering ("work, study, get ahead, kill") or affixing a zero-sum stigma on earning grades ("your success ensures somebody else's failure.")  There might also have been reflective faculty who were not happy about public funding for applied research, whether that was splitting atoms in the squash courts, calculating trajectories that might have worked equally well for communications satellites or nuclear warheads,  or even finding the right balance between ameliorating income poverty and encouraging participation in the labor force.  I'm not making any of this up, younger readers.

The individual advancement for students might well have become, increasingly, in those "vocational" degrees, and the retreat of the intellectual types into obscurantism might have deprived several generations of nurses, engineers, therapists, accountants, and dairy scientists of the ability to diagnose ills in the body politic more generally (there's an elaboration on this point in a post to come); while the individual advancement for faculty turned into a quest for sponsored research, whether it's nuclear physics or poverty or what the National Science Foundation called "Research Applied for National Needs" (if an economist said "ran" that probably wasn't a reference to the morning jog) or a juried award from one of the national endowments, all of which became golden fetters on intellectual inquiry.

Thus, although Jay Schalin might credit Professor Hofstadter with correctly identifying what ails higher education, neither the pundit nor the professor correctly identify all the causes of the illness.
He also said that politicization of the academy would be even worse on a practical level (Hofstadter was in agreement with many of the goals of the protesters) since it is “a curiously self-destructive strategy for social change:”
If an attempt is made to politicize completely our primary centers of free argument and inquiry, they will in the end be forced to lose their character and be reduced to centers of vocational training, and nothing more.
As any casual observer of academia today can attest, his warning went unheeded and politicization has become a major force on the American campus. However, he was only partly right about the effects.
Arguably, when part of graduate training becomes learning how to recognize what areas of pure research, or of artistry, are more likely to be funded, and when the best-connected graduate students are those who have learned who to cultivate in the funding agencies, he's only partly right about the causes.  If some degrees lose status as a consequence, that's incidental.
On one hand, much of academia today has indeed been reduced to vocational training, just as Hofstadter predicted. Humanities majors are disappearing from many schools, especially small private colleges that once specialized in the liberal arts and do not have prestigious reputations. The most common majors at such schools now tend to be those geared toward entering a specific profession, such as nursing, accounting, K-12 teaching, computer science, or business management. Even pure science majors other than biology are disappearing at many such schools. The social sciences have not suffered as much enrollment loss because they are often perceived as less-than-rigorous programs favored by those who wish for easy college diplomas to serve as employment credentials.
There are market tests for those credentials: perhaps the return of Carter-style malaise will bring those tests back. But, to reiterate, those nurses, accountants, and the like won't know what they don't know until the reality that knowing some of those things might be helpful smacks them upside the head.
Furthermore, academia’s increasing ties to both the corporate world and the government bureaucracy are perhaps an extension of this vocational emphasis. For the government largely sees academia as a source of economic development and corporations see it as a source of talent and as a means to solve technical problems through research. And universities have been all too eager to sacrifice scholarship and tradition for the largesse offered them to shift priorities in a more corporate direction.
Those influences might work against the fashionable leftism in the common room: all you have to do is read any day's offerings at Inside Higher Ed and find somebody carping about them.  Thus, the argument for faculty stewardship of the university might be more compelling than Mr Schalin thinks.
[Hofstadter] grounded the institutional existence of the university improperly, suggesting that there was universal agreement that “in ultimate reality the members of the faculty are the university.” That assumption contradicts the legal and traditional views that the corporate body of a private academic institution is vested in its board of trustees and that the board is a perpetual body which holds the ultimate authority.

This error had dire implications. For, if the faculty is the university, the basic values of the university—which Hofstadter identified as “freedom, rationality, inquiry, discussion, and its own internal order”—become highly susceptible to ideological change over time as the beliefs of the faculty change. And that is exactly what has happened; freedom, inquiry and discussion are being replaced by rigid codes of political correctness, and rationality is being replaced with pragmatism.
Perhaps the pragmatic stance is in favor of freedom, inquiry, and discussion. Even if it means Professor Kingsfield's students figure out how to save the bar by legal means.

13.5.21

THAT HIGHER EDUCATION VALUE PROPOSITION.

Looks like I might have missed on a prognostication.  "[The University of Wisconsin at] Milwaukee has long aspired to something more academically. Pursuing basketball greatness in the Horizon League isn't likely to do that."  We'll soon see.  "Patrick Baldwin Jr. chose UW-Milwaukee over other finalists Duke and Georgetown Wednesday morning."  In part, that signing is consistent with the university's traditional role as a commuter college.  "With his commitment to UWM, he joins a Panthers team led by his father Pat Baldwin."  I'll let the sports pundits and sports psychologists parse the wisdom, or not, of family relationships blending with coaching relationships.

For now, though, what does that choice, over Duke or Georgetown, say about a disconnect between college basketball and academics, or whether academic status hierarchies are overrated?

A CHANCE TO BREAK THE GOVERNMENT SCHOOL MONOPOLY.

That sounds like a libertarian talking point, although Sasha Abramsky notes that the continued west coast states'  mitigations are an intersectional burden.
The result of this extraordinary shutdown is that low-income, special-needs, and ESL kids in the three coastal states—which pride themselves on their progressive politics—have been left behind. In refusing to go back to classrooms in these urban hubs, teachers’ unions increasingly risk a public backlash. And for the coastal governors, this is a political nightmare. For, in failing to knock heads together to get the teachers’ unions and school district administrations to come to agreements, and in not securing the funds to properly ventilate classrooms—or move them outdoors, in a region with weather hospitable to months of outdoor learning—and reduce class sizes, the three West Coast governors are, by default, abetting this tragedy.
That's not the only place where he suggests the self-styled progressives have gone wrong -- the essay will reward careful study -- today, dear reader, we focus on the popular discontent with the way the government schools are not reopening, and how emergent that discontent is.  Time contributor Paymon Rouhanifard, himself a former educrat, also sounds the warning to the left.
The failure to resume the normal rhythm of schooling in historically progressive states amounts to the most significant failure of public policy in a generation.

What began as needed and understandable caution with the onset of COVID-19 has long since veered into the irresponsible. Democratic governors, leaders of the largest teachers’ unions and many local Democratic elected officials — a cadre that regales in the blood sport of attacking Trumpism for being anti-science — have consistently disregarded the overwhelming scientific evidence that opening full-time is doable and safe for most schools. For many left-leaning and moderate voters, such as myself — particularly those with school-age children — this has proven to be an unforgivable mistake considering the downside risks associated with closures.
It might be a mistake that is driving voters out of those states.
In Brookline and Somerville in Massachusetts, for example, it’s been well-chronicled how the goal posts have continuously moved, vividly illustrating that the forces opposing school reopening are ideological, lacking a solutions-oriented agenda. Plan A turns into Plan B; rinse and repeat. Parents, many of whom identify as liberals, are left befuddled and angry. Some, like those in New Jersey, have taken their frustrations to court.
How ideological? Let Reason's Matt Welch summarize: "Deep red states open schools. Deep blue states keep schools closed."  He takes no pleasure in that sort of partisan split.  His colleague Robby Soave asks a tougher question, "Why not give parents the money to send kids to a private school that is actually open?"  In Kansas, that has gone as far as a proposal, still not law, for educational savings accounts (presumably enjoying the same tax status as medical savings accounts.)  "Legislators in Kansas and elsewhere should make it easier for students and their families to access the money being spent on their behalfs and enroll in education options that make sense for them."

Home-schooling parents have engaged in all sorts of creativity to set up neighborhood schooling collectives, or latter-day one-room schoolhouses: will the next step be the neighbors taking up a collection to hire a professional school-master?  Private schools have done a lot of work staying open and assuring parents a modicum of choice, subject to the ukases that might apply to all schools and churches in the most locked-down states.  California resident Jason Barry has done a little of both, and he's struggling with his egalitarian sensibilities.
Barry, who used to work in law enforcement and grew up in a blue-collar East Coast neighborhood, said his family has always prided itself in utilizing public schools. There was never a doubt his kids would attend public school, he said. In fact, one of the reasons he and his family moved to their  neighborhood was the good schools.

Barry said when his daughters’ schools shuttered last spring, he saw the mental and emotional impact it took on his kids, now in the fifth and seventh grades. They lingered in bed. His oldest daughter regressed socially, struggling to reconnect with friends over the summer.

“And these are kids that she’s known since first grade, second grade,” he said. “She doesn’t know how to talk to her friends. Now I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’”

Over the summer, while Santa Fe Christian was creating its reopening plan, Barry learned that San Dieguito Union High School District leaders intended to continue with remote learning. He worried that without an in-person school his oldest daughter wouldn’t develop like she should, growing from an elementary-school kid to a middle schooler.

So Barry decided that if his daughter couldn’t go to school, he’d bring the school to her.

He converted his home into co-working space for his daughters and some of their friends, setting up folding chairs around a large dining room table he covered with a fitted tablecloth to protect from spills. He talked to parents he knew, and invited about a half dozen of his daughter’s friends to do their schoolwork at his home. He even invited a half-dozen or so boys to recreate that sometimes awkward school-like social dynamic.

“I found out very quickly, taking yourself back to the middle-school dance, the boys and the girls are at opposite ends of the house at all times,” Barry said. “They’re very aware of each other.”

The kids come over mid-morning, work independently, and stay until mid-afternoon. Barry turns on fans and opens the windows to keep air circulating. The kids can spread out and work outside if they want. He even hosts twice-weekly physical education classes, playing dodgeball games in the park or basketball in the driveway.

At its peak, Barry had 15 or 16 kids at his house most days, he said, including his fifth grader and some of her friends who were in school part-time.

“I’m certain we’ve saved these kids from a depression,” Barry said. “I don’t want to say that they’re good. They’re not good. But we saved them from deteriorating.”

Before this year Barry never considered sending his kids to a private school, though his family could afford it, he said. He said he’d rather save that money to help his daughters pay for college. But conditions might force his hand.

“It’s coming to a point where it’s on the table,” Barry said. “If things don’t change, that’s going to have to be a consideration.”
Another Reason contributor, J. D. Tuccille, generalizes.
Homeschooling was supposed to be a temporary pandemic-era expedient and many students will, undoubtedly, return to traditional classrooms once COVID-19 is a memory. But growing familiarity with do-it-yourself education, the continuing slow-motion disaster engulfing government-run schools, and long-term changes in the way we live and work are likely to permanently transform learning. Homeschooling in all its myriad forms is here to stay.

Part of the issue is that public school bureaucrats and teachers unions seem dedicated to testing families' patience.
Part of that part is the assault on gifted programs and the introduction of trendy critical studies stuff, although I'll grouse more about those dimensions another day.  Focus for now, dear reader, on how the educrats, technocrats, and bureaucrats are testing families' patience.  For instance, decide whether the representatives of the teachers' unions are work-shy, or simply privileged.  (Those people who have been preparing food and delivering it for the benefit of teachers who can order in have been running far greater risk than classroom teachers have.)

There's a pragmatic libertarian populist case for aspirants to elective office in the face of the corona tyranny and the continuing school closures.  That the Biden* administration has made a hash of the border, of energy policy, of the Middle East also offer opportunities.  I submit, though, that there's a more general case for someone to make use of.  Mr Rouhanifard, the left-leaning, or moderate, offers it.
A further significant roadblock to reopen schools can be tied to the public losing sight of the CDC and NIH’s role in the overall ecosystem of policy-making: federal agencies with a critical but narrow set of priorities that must be weighed against many others. Instead, we’ve assumed they speak the gospel.
No solutions, only trade-offs. Regular readers know that. Aspirants to public office ought to respect that.
In a sane and thriving society, sober leadership and informed citizens would use values-based judgment to weigh the recommendations of the CDC against the devastating social, emotional, academic and economic costs of closure. Public policy is about trade-offs, and federal, state and local political leaders have a responsibility to determine an optimal balance of complicated benefits and drawbacks in our decision-making. Instead, it’s become a manifestation of negative partisanship driven by a desire to deny a political win to our opponents. Both sides bask in their righteousness, holding steadfastly to an absolute position, whatever the downstream effect.
Charles Lipson concurs, with advice for the public.
Mayors, governors, and school boards across the country understand that crucial point as they decide whether to open schools this fall for in-person instruction. The voters understand it, too. They should listen to the experts, see what other jurisdictions decide, and check out their varied results. Then, they should walk into the voting booth and hold their representatives to account.
In the final analysis, "it is useful for voters to understand the limitations of experts and their expertise."

HIGHER EDUCATION'S NEW HAVEN INCLUSION CASE?

The parallels between the crack-up of higher education and what went wrong with Big Steel during the 1980s and the railroads in the 1960s continue to accumulate.  In the wake of Evergreen State College having a failed presidential search, get this.  "Evergreen State should show "openness to perhaps even a merger with another institution of higher education," David Nicandri said at a special meeting of the Board of Trustees Monday. The trustee is also concerned about its accreditation, which was reaffirmed two years ago."  One of the conditions the Interstate Commerce Commission imposed on the Penn Central merger was that the failing New Haven Railroad be included.  "How you combine two large weak railroads and hope to have a railroad strong enough to salvage an even weaker small railroad ... well, there's a research topic that will still intrigue ferroequinologists fifty years hence."

THERE IS A RESERVE ARMY OF UNEMPLOYED QUARTERBACKS.

I've stayed away from the rumor-mongering about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (read this summary for dispassionate details) although I've long maintained that the team has a responsibility to think about the succession.

The Packers, though, just hired a quarterback (former Jacksonville Jaguar Blake Bortles) with recent playoff experience on a one-year contract.  Milwaukee sports pundit Bryan Dee summarizes that action: "That says everything you need to know, not only about [first round draft pick Jordan] Love, but about [Packer general manager] Brian Gutekunst, as well."

You can question authority, but authority gets to answer.

10.5.21

TWISTIN' THE CORONAVIRUS AWAY.

One of the Hong Kong classes of influenza presented itself in pandemic form in 1957.

Did the entertainers of the day shut the concerts down?


No, that was something to riff on. Flying purple people eaters were scarier.

TO A BROAD FIRST APPROXIMATION, PERHAPS.

Former legislator, aide "to three unindicted governors," and political science professor Jim Nowlan offers to distinguish political conservatives from liberals.  "As shorthand, I have told my college students over the years that conservatives tend to see the world as it is, while liberals see the world as they wish it to be."  That might be Thomas Sowell's conflicting visions (tragic, as opposed to anointed).  Or not.  "These perspectives tend to drive their respective operating philosophies. That is, conservatives see strong value in tradition, and resist change, at least until persuaded that such is absolutely necessary to preserve order and stability. In contrast, liberals are more open to change, to achieve what they see as social and economic justice for all."  There is a major subtlety there, in that people who might agree on an outcome being desirable also disagree on the means for getting there.  It's a lot easier to draw the world you'd like to see on a chalkboard than it is to implement it, for one.  Whether the intentions yielded the results, or whether something else was at work, also matters.  Moreover,  it's not surprising that he's grappling with a distinction between intellectual and practical conservatives: in a time when coalitions are fracturing, so things go, and it's likely that a person with similar experience but with unindicted Democrat governors might see something similar in the tussle between Great Society and Great Helmsman Democrats.

TERMINAL STUPIDITY IN THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE.

With most of the sports done for the year, now it's time to call the roll of politically correct follies in the West Division.

Take Central Michigan.  (Please?)  The former head of the journalism department, who worked as an actual journalist at one time, made the mistake of bringing in people who were newsworthy because of their notoriety.
Professor Timothy Boudreau sat at a table in a Mexican restaurant just off Central Michigan University’s campus. He looked around at his dinner guests. Munching on tortilla chips was a group not often seen at La SeƱorita restaurant, or anywhere, really.

Joining Boudreau were a handful of his students, an outspoken Detroit Satanist — and five members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.

The unconventional bunch was refueling after a 2018 panel for Boudreau’s journalism law class. His goal: teach students about the importance of the First Amendment, using firsthand experiences from people whose speech is threatened.

“I think students, college students in particular, should be challenged on their beliefs,” he told me last month from his home in Holland, Mich. “That’s why I brought in controversial speakers. I wanted to give them an opportunity to challenge those speakers. I firmly believe the answer to bad speech is better speech, or more speech.”
For his troubles, he was invited to step out of line and disappear.
Administrators bristled when Boudreau invited to campus the matriarch of “the most hated family in America,” Shirley Phelps-Roper. They set restrictive parameters, barring media, making attendees show I.D., and forbidding students from recording the panel — all in the name of safety.

“We have to balance the pedagogy, the exchange of free thought, with figuring out how to keep people safe,” CMU administrator Dennis Armistead told a local newspaper.
Apparently, only the most politically reliable of Chippewas get to encounter the most challenging ideas.

Moving onward, a department head at Western Michigan decided that graffiti vandalism was an outrage only a little bit less triggering than the Reichstag Fire.  "WMU administrator reportedly calls 'Back the Blue' and 'All Lives Matter' slogans 'white supremacist'."  I wonder who she reported the defacing of a theater to.  When you report vandalism "as a crime," you're probably not calling the dog-catcher.

In Toledo, which at one time you could reach by train from Kalamazoo, a law professor earned a university-wide award for "inclusive excellence."  You guessed it, dear reader, wrong kind of diversity, wrong kind of inclusiveness.  "The university's diversity officer in essence promised reforms to ensure that such a mistake won't recur."

Demonstrating that your institutions are as foolish as Evergreen State doesn't look like a good value proposition, Central, Western, or Toledo.

GOVERNOR PRITZKER TRAILS BY 10,417

The geographic area and population of Illinois are both similar to those in Sweden, and there are similarities of the Chicago and Stockholm metropolitan areas.  But  Springfield politicians are hazardous to your health.  Governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Lake Geneva) continues to micromanage and destroy local businesses.

A service called Worldometers has been keeping track of coronavirus infections and deaths, disaggregated in a number of ways.

The latest report from Sweden counts  1,007,972 infections and 14,173 deaths.
The latest report from Illinois counts 1,356,391 infections and 24,590 deaths.

Conditions in Illinois are such that a transition to a full reopening is in order.  "Illinois will move to the bridge phase when 70% of the population 65 years and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, and to Phase 5 when 50% of the population 16 years and older has received at least one dose of vaccine."  Maybe we'll be there as of next Monday's report.
Illinois will enter the bridge phase – the last step before a full reopening out of the COVID-19 pandemic, on May 14, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday afternoon.

“The light that we can see at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter as more people get vaccinated,” Pritzker said.

In the bridge phase, restaurants can increase indoor capacity to 30% and outdoor dining capacity to 50%, and health and fitness centers, offices, personal care businesses, museums, spectator events, theaters and performing arts, and zoos can increase to 60% capacity.

Meetings, conferences and convention centers can increase capacity limits to 1,000 people or 60% capacity, whichever is less.

The bridge phase will last 28 days, which is two coronavirus incubation cycles to allow for monitoring, Pritzker said. If there is not a sustained increase in hospitalizations, hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness, new cases or deaths over that 28-day period, the state will advance to Phase 5.

With Thursday’s announcement, the target for Phase 5, a full reopening of the state with no capacity limits on businesses, would be June 11.

“This good news comes with a caveat: We have all seen throughout this pandemic that this virus and its variants have proven to be unpredictable,” Pritzker said. “Metrics that look strong today are far from a guarantee of how things will look a week, two weeks, a month from now.”

Face masks will be required even in Phase 5, as long as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends them, Pritzker said, adding that if the CDC were to loosen guidance for mask requirements, the state would look to do the same.
Oh what fun it is to micromanage people.  Fortunately, wisdom is beginning to dawn on the Washington bureaucrats, such as former Food and Drug honcho Scott Gottlieb, chatting with CBS legacy John Dickerson.
Well, look, COVID won't disappear. We're going to have to learn to live with it, but the risk is substantially reduced as a result of vaccination, as a result of immunity that people have acquired through prior infection. And so I think we're at the point in time when we can start lifting these ordinances in a wholesale fashion and people have to take precautions based on their individual risk. They have to judge their own individual risk and decide whether or not they're going to avoid crowds or wear masks based on their circumstances. But we've always said from a public health standpoint that we would set as a metric maybe when we get down to 10 cases per 100,000 people on a daily basis. Well, half the country's there right now. If you want to be more conservative and say five cases per 100,000 people, well, this week, by this week, probably about a quarter of states will be there. So we're at the point right now where we could start lifting these ordinances and allowing people to resume normal activity. Certainly outdoors, we shouldn't be putting limits on gatherings anymore. We should be encouraging people to go outside. In the states where prevalence is low, vaccination rates are high, and we have good testing in place and we're identifying infections. I think we could start lifting these restrictions indoors as well on a broad basis.
The correct term is "ukases," not "ordinances," but the sentiment is mostly correct.  Whether the credentialed nannies will yield their power voluntarily remains to be seen.  "I think we need to start lifting these things as the situation improves, also to demonstrate that we can do that and that we maintain our integrity and our ability to reimplement these things when we have to. The public has to trust that public health officials are going to lift these restrictions as quickly as they put them in place as the conditions improve. And that's probably partly what's holding back the economy right now."

If I have to keep extending this post until Anthony Fauci comes to his senses, or resigns, or until the governor is primaried, or until the ukases are vacated, or until the cows come home, I will. 

The state continues to administer vaccines.  The latest count is nearly ten nine million injections (the page doesn't disaggregate among finished and pending) and the latest count of those scary variants notes all of 4,800.

Last week, the governor trailed by 10,310.  Note the time series: a margin of terror that used to be growing by hundreds in a week is growing by around a hundred, or less.  The body count is growing faster than the variant count. The details for the past six months are on page 2.

9.5.21

IN PRAISE OF GEORGE MORTIMER PULLMAN.

The overnight sleeping car train returns.  The Night Owl, these days the prosaic Numbers 66 and 65 or 67 under the Northeast Regional banner, has its sleeping car back between Boston and Washington.  Still no setout sleeper for or from New York, and Philadelphians have to rough it.  "Although travelers may use the first-class lounges at Boston and Washington before and after the trip, the Philadelphia lounge will be unavailable and New York passengers will need to board through New York’s Penn Station, since the Moynihan Train Hall and its Metropolitan Lounge are closed overnight."  There's still work to be done, and yet, the work is beginning.

The overnighters are back in Europe as well.  "However, a major shift in awareness of the environmental effects of how we travel has led to a turn-around in the fortunes of night trains."  In the place of the Le Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits et des grands express europĆ©ens are a host of new operators. You're on your own for Russian spies or international high-rollers.  One observer suggests the new offerings are not yet ambitious enough.  "[A]t the moment the players in the market who could massively scale up night services do not want to, while those who do have the will nevertheless lack the means."  Tell me about it, the Superliner sleepers on Amtrak's western lines are well into middle age.

We're still making do with fewer overnight trains for Scotland, although there still are a few.  (I was on hand, purely by accident, in Bristol for the last departure of the Night Scot.)

There might even be a sleeping car train linking Auckland and Wellington.  "The only passenger train to run between the cities since 2012 is the Northern Explorer, which is marketed as a premium tourist offering, focused more on scenic views than travel."  That route is really best enjoyed by day (imagine a convex combination of modern stock and Colorado narrow gauge) although at least one manager understands the formula.  "In order for a passenger train along the route to be viable, it would need to run at least daily and possibly twice a day, [Transdevchief executive Greg Pollock] estimated."

WHICH ARGUMENTS MIGHT GENERALIZE?

Can the residential parts of the District of Columbia become a state?  David Harsanyi suggests it's a bad idea.
[T]he Founders ... created a federal district for the distinct purpose of denying it statehood. First, because they were concerned about the seat of federal power being controlled by a hostile or intrusive state government. Second, because they knew that if the capital were in a state — much less its own state — the people would vote to grow and accumulate federal power. Both situations were incompatible with the proper separation of powers and state rights.
To some extent, as he concedes later, the people who live in an adjacent state, and work for the federal government, vote to expand and accumulate federal power.
People like to argue that the Founders never anticipated that millions of Americans would be living and working in the District. Indeed, the more powerful the permanent political class in D.C. becomes, the more reason we have to deny it statehood. Washington would likely be nothing but a swampy backwater village if it hadn’t been created for, again, the purpose of not being a state.
The permanent political class is buying that prime real estate in Maryland and Virginia (and there are some important operating facilities of that federal government located in Maryland and Virginia).
And it doesn’t matter if there are 20 or 20 million people residing in its ten-square-mile boundary. We already have Maryland and, increasingly, Virginia doing D.C.’s bidding. Washingtonians already have far too much power over ordinary Americans. And the town’s great wealth is produced by taxing citizens and creating federal laws that centralize power. Why would we want to give the federal government more power?
His fear is that creating another state adjacent to the seat of federal power creates a state with a congressional delegation interested in ... expanding federal power. That seems to be a common objection. The challenge, though, is in treating fairly those people who might live in the capital district whose income might derive from federal activities but whose skills have commercial value elsewhere: restaurant staff, clerical staff, custodians, elevator maintainers.  The statehood argument includes an element of horizontal equity: should a person who takes a job in the capital lose the voting rights he held in the same job anywhere else?  Our Political Masters addressed some of that with a constitutional amendment giving capital residents a vote in presidential elections.  Members of Congress vote in their home states.  I don't know whether that's true of departmental secretaries or other high-level functionaries.  Doesn't the creation of a new state require the repeal of that existing constitutional amendment, particularly if the capital district becomes an area with no residents?

Then the partisanship commences.  Rick Manning suggests that statehood, rather than the existing procedure called retrocession of residential areas, is a way for the party of government to pocket a few more seats in Congress or a few electoral votes.  "Cede the residential areas of D.C. back to Maryland and repeal the 23rd amendment to empower these Americans. Unfortunately, just as the Democrats motive for D.C. statehood are two additional Senators, the loss of two Electoral College votes stands as those same Democrats roadblock to a Constitutional pathway to the vote for the people of D.C."

Even more interesting, though, is an argument two contributors to Huffington Post raise.  Republicans object, for partisan reasons, to adding two senators and at least one representative to the federal legislature, when those delegates are likely to be from the party of more government, for fear of unbalancing the legislative chambers.  Marylanders, apparently, object to retrocession because that would ... unbalance the legislative chambers.
Beyond respecting the wishes of District residents, the vast majority of Maryland’s politicians do not want D.C. to join the state as it would transform the state’s politics, which are dominated by the suburbs that surround D.C. and Baltimore. The admission of D.C. would introduce a second major city to the state and tilt the state’s politics away from the suburbs and toward D.C. and Baltimore, the latter of which is often in conflict with state politicians from both parties who direct resources toward rural, suburban and exurban areas.
That article acknowledges the people who do the routine work of the city, which is to say, the people whose case for equal representation, somehow, is at stake.  Jesse Jackson spells out what that stake is.  "Making D.C. a state finally would end the denial of voting representation to more than 700,000 Americans, a majority of whom are Black or Brown."  He continues, "[The district] has more citizens than Vermont and Wyoming, and about as many as Alaska. Those states, of course, are overwhelmingly white."

Patrick Buchanan takes the bait.  (Ah, the joys of our long-lived political class!)  "Statehood for little D.C. could start a trend where mega-cities like Chicago and New York, with five and 10 times the size and population of D.C., secede from their respective states and seek full statehood as well."  Well, why not, there are stirrings in some of the large states to devolve the cities.  Mr Buchanan notes that Texas is capable of dividing itself into multiple states, and I can imagine a sort of partisan throwdown in which a workable plan to turn the residential parts of the capital district into a state becomes a Texas partition, and some of the other states rid themselves of their troublesome big cities.  That people might have world-views for reasons other than High Ideology might make such an outcome more likely, or perhaps less likely, the existing state boundaries sometimes include mixes of people born into different world-views, and how much longer can residents of the northern part of Mexico put up with an incompetent central government in Mexico City?

A LEGACY OF RENT-SEEKING.

Reason's Robert Poole asks, "Why Can't You Buy a Starbucks on the Interstate?"  You can, on some interstate highways in Illinois and Ohio, if you know where to look, but in North Platte, Nebraska, you have to go into town (and it's the only one along Interstate 80 in several hundred miles, and the locals are savvy enough to 'phone in their orders.)

Along the tollways and turnpikes, the service plazas are excellent venues for rent-seeking.  A different sort of rent-seeking accompanied the "freeways."
If your travels have included toll roads, you may wonder why 95 percent of all Interstate miles don't have service plazas like the turnpikes. The answer is that it's against federal law. Back in 1960, when the first Interstates were being built, gas station and restaurant owners along the old highways––like U.S. 66 and U.S. 41, which went right through towns and cities—feared bankruptcy because the Interstates bypassed all those towns. So they lobbied Congress to forbid service plazas on the new Interstates. This gave them the chance to stay in business by building new gas stations and fast-food outlets clustered around Interstate offramps. The fledgling truck stop industry allied itself with the small-town merchants, and built their truck stops as near as they could to Interstate offramps.
The piss-poor rent seeker would grouse about having a parcel of land taken by eminent domain. The clever rent-seeker would figure out where the interchanges were going, and buy parcels of land to be taken and adjacent parcels to build on.

Writers at Reason often carry lug wrenches for the highway lobby, although sometimes they recognize that the roads are productive assets that should be priced accordingly.
A new Reason Foundation study says it's time for the federal ban to be junked. It discusses both the truck parking shortage and the need for convenient E.V. charging stations as the rationale, and it's part of the Foundation's vision of a second-generation Interstate highway system, run mostly as toll roads with first-class commercial service plazas. But before we can even get to the question of toll-financing the rebuilt Interstates, the 61-year-old ban has to go.
It's a curious coalition of rent-seekers who want to preserve that ban.
Fighting back will be the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO), which has successfully defeated previous bills to repeal the ban. Those bills have been desired by state transportation agencies that have no revenue source to maintain their rest areas (which provide only restrooms, vending machines, and a modest amount of parking). Historically, most of the trucking organizations have sided with NATSO, but the owners/operators are already on board for repeal.

Commercialization could actually turn out to be a win-win for truck stops, since they would be in a good position to bid for public-private partnerships offered by state departments of transportation to develop and operate new service plazas, some of which might be truck-only.
Why aren't the truck-stop operators lining up to get contracts to convert the existing rest areas (and truck pull-off lots) into service plazas?

THE LAST TOTTERS OF THE SILENT GENERATION?

That Democrat majority in Washington is slim in the houses of Congress, and ancient in its inclinations.  It's something we could have seen coming.  The failure of the Trump administration to deal with the Wuhan coronavirus in a coherent way gave them one more shot, but that's preserving the old order by default.

Although Matthew Walther took a pass on Deirdre McCloskey's Why Liberalism Works for the wrong reason (it's an economic historian's case for classical liberalism, not New Dealism) in his category error he diagnoses the senescence of technocracy as we understand it.
American liberalism in the second half of the twentieth century could not have survived (if indeed it really managed to do so) had it not been for the mostly thankless efforts of those silver-haired Green Party voters who put “No Blood For Oil” stickers on their ancient Volkswagens and interesting books in the hands of millions of teenagers. The Democratic Party, the New York Times, critical theory, C.N.N.—all of this has been epiphenomenal, I’m afraid, in comparison with what I have come to think of as “old lady liberalism.”

If you have ever visited a local library or were taught English in a public high school (especially in rural America) at any point in the last three or so decades, you will be familiar with the tendency I have in mind. The old lady liberal is a woman in her sixties or seventies. She wears wonderful baggy sweaters and odd jewelry that would probably get her accused of “cultural appropriation” in any other circles. She is an enthusiastic reader of the New York Times, even though it arrives a day late. She has an old-fashioned aspirational view of high culture and encourages teenagers to read Cervantes and Joyce and to listen to jazz CDs. She is a great baker, a grammatical prescriptivist, and a stickler for politeness. She is far more likely than the average liberal to be religious; often she is among the few remaining pillars of her local mainline Protestant congregation. She loathes what is sometimes called “safety-ism” and believes that even very young children are capable of riding their bicycles or visiting the mom and pop supermarket without adult supervision.
That last sentence probably didn't survive the past year-plus of fifteen days to slow the spread; it's otherwise not a bad caricature of the primary-season Elizabeth Warren fans.  It might be, though, that those old-lady liberals didn't carry to term and then raise enough pink-diaper daughters to carry the torch, or perhaps they raised those daughters' consciousnesses a little too high.  " Long after the culturally revolutionary New Left had carved its way into what was once a working-class party, bringing not only acid, amnesty and abortion but yuppie economics and new strains of identity politics, voters in what are now red states could still feel a connection to the party of FDR or JFK."  The replacement message might be turning off those voters who don't live in gated communities, or who live in the rough neighborhoods.  "As they make abundantly clear with every riot, the rising left wing of the Democratic party simply considers law enforcement the enemy. When their publicists write that they really and literally mean ‘Defund the Police’, Americans of all races must believe them."  That might be why pundits of the right keep fretting about rigged election rules, or about importing replacement voters.  "Joe Biden is alive, but his party is dead. And the newborn radical Democrats can’t win — not without rewriting the rules to get around competition at the state level, where elections are closer to the people."

Is it too much to ask that Democrats acknowledge the existence of those blue collar Milwaukee or Cleveland or Scranton constituents who bore much of the burden of desegregation in the late 1960s on, or that Republicans call attention to the coronavirus tyranny and the return of stagflation in a consistent and meaningful way?

OOPS.

All Three Finalists to Be President of The Evergreen State College Withdraw From Process.

Yes, that Evergreen State.  They seem to have trouble keeping presidents, although the post seems to be a good place for an administrator to burnish those woke credentials.

Let them marinate, quips Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds.  "The place has been a toxic stew of wokeness and entitlement for years. That’s the deeper set of problems."

8.5.21

THE SUMMER PRESERVATION SEASON BEGINS.

Last year, the Illinois Railway Museum could not begin running trains until late in the summer.

This year, weekend operations commenced at the beginning of May.  There's also a new critter in service, which will be useful moving stock around on some of the tight radius curves.


The coach trains will be longer as weather gets better and the local authorities allow more reservations to be taken. That L train, which would be the show-piece of many a museum, can also be augmented with other wood cars in the collection.

FACULTY LOUNGE POLITICS FAIL IN ENGLAND.

Spiked's Brendan O'Neill offers an item that could be a Friday short take.  "Why won’t you racist fascists vote Labour?"  The essay is about the supposed party of the toilers becoming the party of the metrofexuals.
The mass working-class defection to the Conservative Party; the colonisation of Labour by middle-class graduates; the transformation of Labour from a party of working people into a metropolitan machine more concerned with gender-neutral toilets and taking the knee than with what working-class people want and need – anyone who thought these historic shifts and quakes would be reversed by having sensible, forensic Sir Keir Starmer at the helm of Labour has just received the rudest awakening imaginable.
I'm eventually going to pivot to the United States, as some of the dynamics at work in Blighty are also at work here.
The revolt against Labour is more than a reckoning with Corbynism or Starmerism – it is a democratic confrontation between working-class communities and a political elite who they believe, quite rightly, views them with contempt, disdain and pity.
There is not, yet, the kind of spat between Trumpians and establishmentarians among the Tories.
What now? Well, we can cheer the working-class revolt against Labour without being naive about the Tories; without buying into the idea that the Conservative Party understands or respects these working-class communities. Let’s see what the Tories come up with. Let’s see what they mean by ‘levelling up’ – whether it will be just a few more economic crumbs thrown from the centre to the regions, or a genuine democratic engagement of working-class communities in the political and economic future of the country. Boris, take note: the revolt of ordinary people against the elites is only just starting.
It's Melanie Phillips who comes up with a pungent description of Labour.
It had become instead the party  of the educated metropolitan upper middle-class, which was committed to liberal universalism and trans-national “human rights” law and up-ending basic values such as the traditional family or even what is to be a man or a woman — and which denounced people like themselves as racist and privileged, simply on the basis that they had a white skin. It was no longer the Labour party; it had become the North London Dinner Party.

Yet Labour was pinning its hopes on a leader who embodied precisely that set of attitudes: a “human rights” lawyer who had voted Remain and who actually lives in the fashionable north London district of Camden.

Indeed, all you need to know about Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party and why it can never win back the decent, fair-minded, patriotic working-class was in the picture the Labour leader proudly tweeted of himself and his deputy, Angela Rayner, taking the knee to the Black Lives Matter agenda.

This is why the party doesn’t get it and shows no sign of ever getting it. There may well be members who disapprove of the extremism of tearing down historic statues; or who think Extinction Rebellion goes too far in causing a public nuisance; or who are appalled at the witch-hunts against those who insist that biological sex is unalterable or who are made to confess to their own “white privilege” — or who find themselves up before a disciplinary panel accused of using racist language for observing that you couldn’t turn on the TV “without some person of a colourful disposition having a moan about something” (yes, really; it’s a moot point which is worse, the intolerance or the illiteracy).
Sound familiar?  Power Line's Steven  Hayward sets up the pivot.
Biden is more polarizing than either Obama or Trump at this point.

Meanwhile, I persist in arguing that the Democratic Party’s lurch to the far left is doing us a great favor by making explicit and visible what they usually try to conceal, and setting up a backlash that might actually break the country’s now three-decade old 50-50 split. My two witnesses are Democratic strategist James Carville, and New York Times columnist (but vehemently anti-Trump) Bret Stephens, both of whom say much the same thing today, despite having very different political outlooks.
It's going to take the Republicans or some other opposition coalition to get a positive message together, and yet, the same follies that ail Labour ail the Democrats.  The language of the faculty lounge is the language of the North London dinner party, and that might still be a fracture for the Democrats.
You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “Latinx” that no one else uses. Or they use a phrase like “communities of color.” I don’t know anyone who speaks like that. I don’t know anyone who lives in a “community of color.” I know lots of white and Black and brown people and they all live in ... neighborhoods.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these phrases. But this is not how people talk. This is not how voters talk. And doing it anyway is a signal that you’re talking one language and the people you want to vote for you are speaking another language. This stuff is harmless in one sense, but in another sense it’s not.
Ross Douthat suggests that it's not the faculty lounge talk, rather; it might be the record on crime and education.  "So the core question facing Democrats isn’t how faculty-lounge rhetoric plays with today’s swing voters. It’s how left-wing policymaking might create tomorrow’s swing voters, if the liberal city becomes ungovernable again."  That's part of it: the corona tyranny and the return of stagflation will be additional problems for Democrats.

FOLLOW THE MONEY.

I have to wonder if the best thing the government could do for high-speed Passenger Rail would be to go away.
[Former deputy secretary of transportation John] Porcari continued: “If you wonder why America’s transportation system is configured the way it is today, I would urge you to follow the money.” He then mentioned a situation he faced when he was Maryland’s Transportation Secretary. There were three options for increasing capacity between Baltimore and New York City: “Add air capacity between BWI Thurgood Marshall airport and New York, with 90% federal funding for runway and taxiway capacity improvements; v. Add highway capacity on I-95 to New York, with 80% federal funding; v. Add passenger rail capacity, with zero federal funding.” In other words, he explained, “I had to find either 10%, 20% or 100% of the project funding from the state’s transportation trust fund, depending on the transportation mode I chose. For that 215-mile segment, a passenger rail trip makes far more sense than driving or flying, yet passenger rail capacity was the least likely alternative to be selected. If you wonder why we have the unbalanced transportation system we have today, follow the money.”
The state is that grand fiction. If there's a massive Federal match, go for it, and build it. Worry about rebuilding it later.


Uncle Sugar might have built that road for you, but you're still on the hook for the maintenance.  That's not exciting, although it's not exciting in the way that a bridge collapse, or the failure of the best Passenger Rail network, is.
Amtrak [president William] Flynn said: “One of the questions Amtrak is often asked is why the United States does not have faster or more high-speed trains like most European countries in corridors where that would make sense. The answer is simple: money. Unlike these countries, the United States has chosen to primarily invest in highways and aviation rather than rail.” He added: “From the mid-1930s, when lightweight streamlined trains were introduced, until 1959, the United States had the fastest trains in the world. Passenger trains serving corridors like Chicago to Minneapolis, some pulled by steam locomotives, operated at speeds of 90-100 mph. They offered frequent service, with trip times that would be competitive even with today’s driving times, on rail lines shared with freight trains,” but “[i]n the 1950s, that began to change. As European countries and Japan started investing in improved and higher speed passenger rail service, the United States opted instead to build interstate highways and airports. The federal government’s decision to invest in cars and planes rather than passenger rail contributed significantly to the precipitous decline in intercity passenger rail service that resulted in the creation of Amtrak.”

Flynn also noted that the Highway Trust Fund became insolvent in 2008. In addition, he called for a “trust-fund-like structure” for funding rail, and added, “If we funded highways the way we fund passenger rail today, we’d all be driving on dirt roads.”
There are parts of the country where the roads are reverting to dirt.  I'm pleased to note, though, that Someone In Authority is calling attention to what the investor-owned railroads were doing until all the public money started going into roads and airports (all of which are now "crumbling infrastructure.")

The most encouraging developments in Passenger Rail, though, are the private projects.
P. Michael Reininger, CEO of Brightline Holdings, LLC, called for more private-sector participation in developing [high speed rail]. His company operated Brightline trains in South Florida until the COVID-19 virus hit (and they expect to resume operations later this year); is building a line to Orlando Airport; and is developing Brightline West between Las Vegas and Southern California.

Reininger summarized his program this way: “First, our business model parallels the most successful models from around the world, while applying American ingenuity to our different context and circumstances. Second, multiple benefits to customers, economies and communities accrue from the introduction of transportation investments such as high-speed rail. And third, this subcommittee can initiate steps to incentivize greater participation by the private sector to multiply the effects of public-sector investment and overcome hurdles that have inhibited progress to date.” He said that the Brightline model targets city pairs that are “too short to fly and too far to drive.”

Reininger also announced that Brightline West would go to Los Angeles, rather than merely to the general region of “Southern California.” He said: “Brightline West, the company’s first expansion outside Florida, will connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Starting with a convenient station on Las Vegas Blvd., Brightline West will connect to L.A. via Rancho Cucamonga with an inline station in the Victor Valley.”In later questioning, Philip Washington, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA or “Metro”) said that such a connection is feasible. An agreement of that sort between Brightline and L.A.’s local railroad Metrolink to provide direct service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles could expand the nation’s passenger rail network to a new and busy destination city, while potentially serving as a model for other such projects through a Public-Private Partnership (P3).
That's good news. A fast train between Las Vegas and somewhere in the vicinity of Victorville is not quite a winning proposition; one that uses existing rails to get into metropolitan Los Angeles has possibilities, particularly if there's a case for financing a fast line through the mountains to get the Bakersfield service and the Las Vegas service on a common set of fast rails, rather than hacking over Cajon Pass the way the freight lines do.

The Texas project, also a private initiative, is not as far along.  Some of the more imaginative technologies get some attention, but diesel trains good for 125-140 mph running might well be the way to go, at least for now.

NOW HE HAS TO FIND ANOTHER 400 MONEY POTS.

The coot took his spending spree to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he repeated some of the same bromides he offered up in Washington.
The way I can pay for this is the $40 billion — for example — just making sure the largest companies don’t pay zero.  And — and reducing the — the tax cut to between 25 and 28, it’s a couple hundred billion dollars.  We can pay for these things.

I’m not talking about deficit spending.  I’m talking about paying for it.  And I won’t go — and I’m realizing getting too wonky, sharing and giving you too much detail.  But the point is, what I’m proposing is badly needed, and able to be paid for and still grow — trickle down ain’t working very well, man.  We got to build from the bottom and — up, and the middle out.  That’s how we build America.  That’s how we built it so well back in the ’60s.
In the 1960s, there was a victory dividend to squander. Lyndon Johnson was of the view that we could have the guns and the butter. Vietnam is still notionally a communist country, and those model cities aren't.

There's some sort of fuzzy math, dear reader, when several spending plans are praying Congress to appropriate several trillion dollars, and the tax code changes are at best in the hundreds of billions.

FIND YOURSELF A MODEL CIRCUS AND GO TO IT.

On occasion, the Karlson Brothers Circus has shared arenas with some of the great model circuses of our time, including the Mattison Brothers Circus.
To replicate the pieces to scale and specifications, [model builder Bill] Mattison measures photos and occasionally travels to Baraboo to measure the actual wagons in the Circus World Museum collection. Along the way, he’s learned that the average circus wagon is sixteen feet long; that four to five wagons fit on a rail flatcar; that wagon wheel sizes are standard; and that front wheels are smaller than back wheels because the wagon had to turn on itself 360 degrees. Mattison says that while the circus owned its own flatcars, they had to pay the railroads for freight by the foot. So footrests on the wagons were designed to fold up to utilize every inch. Noting that every baggage and cage wagon was standard size, he says of the model measurements, “If I got one, I got them all.”

Using an elaborate step-and-repeat process, Mattison makes the fixtures, or molds, to make the parts. Consistency is critical, and Mattison works using a rigorous half-inch-to-one-foot scale. His models are built out of basswood because it’s easy to work with and readily available. Brass is his preferred metal for hardware. Mattison measures the length and width of each wagon and cuts the base, which is approximately 3/16-inch thick. Starting with the bottom, he adds the sides, ends, and tops. Finally, the doors go on after the roof is framed. Then he spray-paints them using an airbrush. The wheels come last.

All doors, springs, wheels, and hinges open, close, turn, or move in whatever ways the actual circus wagons or vehicles would require. The trap doors and clean-out mechanisms on the cage wagons are built as if to remove waste from tiny, live animals. The pulleys that raise the canvas on the big top, of course, work just like they do in real life.
He's working at 1/24 actual size, and true-to-scale hinges and springs are more easily done than in 1/48, although there are some people working in 1/48 that get these details right.  Find yourself a model circus show and check it out.
Today, at age 89, Mattison shares his talent and enthusiasm with children who are building models of all kinds. He wishes he could be more optimistic about the future of circus model building but notes that the inspiration—big top circuses and circus parades—are less common now. “It will be a lost art,” he says. “There have been so many changes in the circus that it’s difficult for young people to carry on the tradition. Kids haven’t seen a tent circus, and they won’t be able to see circus animals. The elephants are gone."
I'm a little more optimistic: as long as there are jugglers and unicyclists and trapeze artists, there will be circus, although, yes, it's always better with elephants.

Read the article, dear reader, and wonder whether Bill (I've showed with him on several occasions) might not have supplied some of the stories that became Denver Brown's.

See you down the road.

CAN WASHINGTON PRINT ENOUGH MONEY TO RAISE RESERVATION WAGES?

The preliminary unemployment rate and job growth counts for April came in, and the people who keep track of such things were caught by surprise, with the unemployment rate increasing, and the increase in employment coming in at a quarter of expectations.

David Henderson suggests that the newsies whose narrative was "things are getting better" missed the incentives at work.  "When the federal government pays people an extra $300 a week to be unemployed, a few million people who would have taken the many jobs available will instead take a summer holiday."  A Libertarianism post trots out a few Marshallian crosses to suggest that the relief money and the corona tyranny rendered workers less responsive to wage changes.
The first reason is probably the most obvious: the generous unemployment benefits and multiple rounds of stimulus payments have meant that workers can do better, or at least close to as well, by not working as they can by working. This will be especially true in the entry level jobs in the service and hospitality industries that appear to be having the most difficulties finding workers. If you can make more staying at home, why take a job? And even if you can’t make more, is it really worth working dozens of hours a week to do just a little bit better than you could get from not working? Compensating workers who were denied the opportunity to make a living thanks to government lockdowns might well have been justified earlier on in the pandemic, but continuing to provide that support after more than a year has unsurprisingly led to withdrawal from the labor force and a more inelastic labor supply.

The second reason is less discussed. Another policy decision with huge implications for the labor market was the closing of public schools, many of which remain closed to one degree or another. With children at home all day, many couples had to withdraw their secondary earner from the paid labor force. As most secondary earners are women, the labor market effect has mostly been a reduction in the number of working women. The effects of that reduction on women’s human capital and future wages may well turn out to be a major long‐term negative consequence of the pandemic. But for the moment, this need to be home has also increased the inelasticity of the labor supply curve. The (mostly) women in this position are not likely to be enticed back to work with higher wages until the schools are fully open and the need for a parent at home is substantially reduced. Almost no matter how hard employers try, overcoming the opportunity cost of working (i.e., leaving kids home alone all day) is going to be very difficult.
It might be, though, that the latchkey kid will return, at least among those older than sixteen as the teen labor market appears to be adding employment again.

What are the normative conclusions, then?  To Brian Riedl, it's government undermining the incentives to work.  "But paying people more to stay home becomes a large problem when the economy begins reopening and “help wanted” signs go ignored."  To Kenny Stancil, it's government undermining the incentives to squeeze workers.  "Pushing back on the right-wing narrative about the reason for real or perceived labor shortages in some markets nationwide, progressives on Friday told corporations that if they want to hire more people, they'll need to start paying better wages."  For the time being, the transfer payments are sufficient that starting wages in excess of the magical $15 per hour aren't enough incentive.  Those, though, are supposed to be limited in scope and duration, although those might expand in the way of two weeks to slow the spread.  But when bond traders grow weary of paying $999 for a Treasury note, things might get interesting.