Laffer Curve returns to feast on brains of living

Something d-o-o economics

If you want your name to live forever in politics, come up with a reason why helping rich people is good for everybody. That’s what Arthur Laffer did in 1974, when he drew his famous curve on a napkin. The  Laffer Curve illustrates the theory that lowering tax rates can sometimes increase overall tax revenues by stimulating economic growth. This argument makes sense, as far as it goes, but it doesn’t tell us much. To many people, though, the Laffer Curve means that cutting taxes raises revenue. That’s the argument Treasury Secretary Paul Mnuchin made this week to justify President Trump’s plan to dramatically reduce corporate taxes. Won’t lowering taxes add to the deficit? Nah. “The tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth,” Mnuchin said. Well then. That sounds fortuitous.

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A petard is an explosive charge, not a flagpole

The president sits comfortably on a little box he found.

People sometimes asks me why Combat! blog is not more popular. These people are themselves nerds, consumed by questions of esoteric knowledge while carefree personal trainers make their spouses feel attractive and fun. They have no sense of the common reader’s interest, whereas I, who operate without illusions but with Google analytics, know this blog will never be widely read. All sorts of interesting things that the general public wants to know about are happening on the internet, from Kardashians to one weird trick that cuts belly fat. But I can’t stop thinking about this quote from former White House aide Ronald Klaine, in this Times story on President Trump’s lackluster first 100 days:

“If Trump finds himself hoisted on the 100-day test, it is a petard that he erected for himself.”

First of all, way to avoid the natural conclusion of this sentence, “…a petard of his own erection.” That would probably be too good for this world. But I must find fault with Klaine’s locution anyway, because he has made a common mistake. A petard is not erected. A petard is a small explosive charge used to blast a hole in a wall or door. Recondite knowledge after the jump.

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Can we talk about this Chelsea Clinton headline in WaPo?

Chelsea Clinton during her R-rated comedy tour “Blue State”

Chelsea Clinton was a featured guest at Variety’s Power of Women Luncheon in New York on Friday. Presumably, she reminded the women in attendance that they could do anything they set their minds to if they worked hard, stood up for their beliefs, and were the daughters of former US presidents. Let us not pretend that C. Clinton has achieved anything. There is nothing wrong with her, but she’s not inspiring. She’s a child of privilege who has held various sinecures. Normally I wouldn’t be a jerk about that, but she’s been all over the news lately, sometimes with rumors she will run for Congress. Let’s not do that, you guys. Let’s not make nepotism a more powerful force in American politics than it already is. And above all, let us not pretend that Chelsea Clinton has been persecuted or otherwise treated unfairly. I direct you to this headline in the Washington Post: An SNL star made an awkward Hillary joke at a luncheon. Chelsea Clinton went high. Props to Stubble for the link. It captures at least three bad narratives currently at large in American public discourse. Close reading after the jump.

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Friday links! Best of all possible worlds edition

Mike Pence experiences God’s plan in Korea

Every time I get down about world events—like the United States elects a reality TV star to be its president instead of addressing historic inequality and the threat of environmental collapse, or whatever—I remember that we live in the best of all possible worlds. How could it be otherwise? As we know from reading the philosopher Huckabee, God controls everything. God is also perfect and loves us, so this must be the best world He could arrange. Sure, it would be nice if Noah Baumbach had Lena Dunham’s career instead of her, but then some kid in Chile would fall in love with his sister or something. Trust us—this is as good as it can get. Today is Friday, and non-deities shouldn’t expect so much. Won’t you reconcile yourself to this world with me?

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Struggling Lee Enterprises saves company with purchase of Indy

Lee Enterprises headquarters

As you may remember from late last week, scrappy media conglomerate Lee Enterprises has purchased the Missoula Independent, saving Lee from bankruptcy. Lee was already in bankruptcy back in 2011, because it spent $1.5 billion to buy Pulitzer, Inc. in 2005—a dark horse candidate for deal of the year, since News Corp. paid a mere $580 million for Myspace. Anywhom, Lee went broke buying newspapers. Now, like a fun and informative vampire, it must keep buying more newspapers to stay alive. But its waking nightmare of debt-service undeath is finally over, because it bought my newspaper.

The immense profits that the Indy generates will wipe out Lee’s debts in no time. After a few months of alt-weekly income, the Missoulian can stop writing rapturous features about Cabela’s, and the Beatrice, Nebraska Daily Sun can settle with the families of those kids from last year’s Thresher Days. We’ll all be rich—rich as newsmen!

By we, though, I mean everyone but me. Even a corporation as showered in gold as Lee Enterprises cannot justify my exorbitant fee. And don’t ask me to take a pay cut out of consideration for a mom-and-pop paper chain. My lifestyle simply could not bear it. Although nothing is certain now, I fear my days of making money hand-over-fist-over-emerald-strewn-coke-mirror might be headed to a halt. For all I know, this could be my last column. I excerpt here for posterity:

I know that when I got into this business, it was strictly for the cash. But over the last few years, I have developed an affection for you, the seemingly useless reader. Although writing this column provides me with enough money and drugs to deaden my connection to ordinary people, I cannot help but feel that we are in this together. We live in the same region, after all. Might it be too much to say that we belong to the same community?

I was too temperate to say so in print, but I’ll say it here: we do belong to the same community. That community belongs to Lee Enterprises now. May their two Missoula newspapers, the Missoulian and the Independent, remains as keen and incisive as the heads on a two-headed snake, and may that snake poop money for the rest of our wonderful lives.