It’s Great Disability Rolls Are Finally Shrinking, But the System Still Needs Pro-Work Reform

 

Have Americans gotten way healthier over the past several years? Seems dubious. But the US economy sure has strengthened. And America’s hot job market seems to be finally draining a reservoir of hidden slack: disability rolls. The New York Times notes the number of Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits has declined to 8.63 million from a September 2014 peak of 8.96 million.

Now there might be other things going on as well, such as the big expansion of Medicaid and the Social Security Administration tightening the approval process for benefits. But as interesting as all these numbers are, more compelling is the story of Christian Borrero, told at the end of the Times piece. Born with cerebral palsy, Borrero until 2015 received disability benefits as he worked at a part-time job answering phones. The salary was low enough that he still qualified for benefits.

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Why Do We Cry When Celebrities Die Young?

 

Until his suicide, I never heard of Anthony Bourdain. Since I’m male and have no interest in purses, it’s more understandable that I never heard of Kate Spade, who also took her own life. I am surprised at the outpouring of grief by many including conservative writers, and not just youngish ones. Rob Long in a recent podcast said he was affected by Bourdain’s end, saying Bourdain lived the life he dreamed of living.

Bourdain was a stranger, or near stranger to all of them, as was Spade. In Spade’s case, I’m not even sure she was on television all that much, it’s just that many women had bought her high-end purses, or had been gifted one at a young age.

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Fabric Technology

 

Once upon a time fabrics were simple — cotton, linen, perhaps silk. But when synthetics started being made, some very cool things started to happen — impacting quality and cost and performance in very useful ways.

Here’s my latest example: I wear suits for business, and I often fly in and out on the same day, wearing the same suit. There is real value in a suit fabric that simply does not wrinkle, that looks fresh all the time even when I have slept in it. Lastly, it must look good. Perhaps not amazing (my industry, aerospace, is not highly fashion conscious), but definitely better-than-average. And it is a bonus if the suit is machine-washable. Did I mention that I am Jewish, and that overpaying is grounds for foreskin replacement surgery?

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Klavan: Family Separation = Katrina

 

On his excellent podcast, Andrew Klavan has identified what’s really going on here: reporters and Democrats are not suddenly concerned about children being separated from their parents at the border, they just think that have the next Katrina, a massive club they can use to beat Trump like they used the hurricane to beat Bush. It’s not real outrage — all the Left’s outrage is phony. It’s opportunism.

Bush never fought back — we have to hope Trump continues to. Fortunately he has more sheer cussedness than 100 normal people.

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How Trump’s Politics Betrayed Him and All of Us

 

On June 6, I wrote a post about the dangers of Trump following the Bush political playbook, as he does, and how that could trip him up. The parallels between W. Bush political strategy and Trump’s political strategy are uncanny. Further, the Left reacted to both men in almost the same way. We are still, for all the talk of Hope and Change and Draining the Swamp, in a Bush-Clinton Family political moment with the Republicans and Democrats both running different versions of Bush and Clinton when they aren’t running someone with that name.

In my previous post, I wrote that the danger for Trump would be the mainstream media finding a weakness in his aggressive, fighting tendencies or lack of knowledge about our norms. In his child separation policy, the media found a perfect and telling issue to hammer Trump and force him to fold.

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Quote of the Day: Cowardice and Courage

 

“This republic was not established by cowards; and cowards will not preserve it.” ― Elmer Davis

Just when you think the story of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School cannot get worse, it does. Apparently a security guard saw the shooter (I won’t name him) entering the high school armed. He did not confront the shooter. I cannot blame the guard for that; he was unarmed. Neither did he do what he was supposed to do: raise an alarm. Instead he called a fellow security guard inside the school (also unarmed), and went about his business. The fellow guard also did not raise the alarm. Instead he locked himself in a safe room.

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No One to Hate

 

In his new book, Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics, is Destroying American Democracy, Jonah Goldberg argues that classical liberalism – belief in individual responsibility, equality under the law, and free markets – is not natural. Human beings spent most of their 200,000 to 300,000 years on earth living in tribes organized on the basis of cooperation and mutual obligation.

Free markets are also based on cooperation and mutual obligation, but the scope is the world rather than the tribe. As Milton Friedman explains in his summary of Leonard Read’s classic essay, “I, Pencil,” free markets foster cooperation between millions of people in different parts of the globe – people who have never met, who don’t speak the same languages, or worship the same gods.

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Penn Law’s Amy Wax on Being Ousted from Her First-Year Class

 

Amy Wax is the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she specializes in social welfare law and policy as well as the relationship of the family, the workplace, and labor markets.

Professor Wax has become a controversial figure because of her politically incorrect comments advocating in favor of bourgeois values and the WASP culture from which they stem, and in her claims that black students had generally performed at lower levels than other students in her classes in context of a conversation about the downsides of affirmative action — comments that got her ousted from teaching the first year civil procedure class for which she had previously won an award for “teaching excellence.”

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The Real Trump Doctrine

 

Trump baffles the Left and many on the Right. They just don’t “get” him. They find him unpredictable, unconventional, difficult, impulsive, erratic… He leaves them gasping, in full panic, unable to think, to breathe. As much as I enjoy watching their struggles, it is becoming tiresome. So, dear reader, generous as I am, I’m going to explain it all so people can stop hyperventilating.

There is a Trump Doctrine and understanding it will help you follow and understand our President’s novel but consistent approach to both domestic and foreign policy. The Trump Doctrine has nothing to do with embracing dictators or reversing progressive “gains” generously attributed to the Obama presidency. It is not defined by an absence of doctrine. It is not even “We’re America, bitch.” It is nothing that you have heard or read. The pundits have it all wrong.

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Democrats Are Desperate

 

The political rhetoric is heating up. Lies, distortions, and accusations have reached a new high. The Democrats are beginning to realize that their confidence about winning seats in the midterms this year may not be so certain. And they’ve moved beyond being concerned. They are desperate.

In looking at the following information, you’ll benefit by looking at it not through Conservative eyes, but through the eyes of the Left. You can be sure that their media pundits will disclaim the effects that I’m predicting. But the Democrats would be remiss if they didn’t at least consider that they may be in trouble in November.

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What Will #MeToo Bookstore Do Now That Banned Author Is Cleared?

 

The news just broke here in Boston: Overrated, cliche-dependent hack Honored liberal literary figure Junot Diaz, best known for his book The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, has been cleared by MIT of allegations that he was sexually inappropriate and verbally abusive toward women.

The college launched its inquiry into Diaz’s behavior toward female students and staff in early May after a woman not affiliated with the school claimed on social media that the celebrated author had “forcibly’’ kissed her and two others posted that he’d been verbally abusive to them.

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VDH Explains: Logical Behavior by Bureaucratic Careerists

 

Today at National Review (Future Pres’ Hillary — the Font of all the Scandals), the exceptional Dr. Victor Davis Hanson takes us on a journey into the mindset of James Comey, Loretta Lynch, FBI Agent 1, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe, John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice and Samantha Power.

Why would they risk their reputations by breaking laws, rules and ethical standards, and provide an evidence trail of such criminal behavior?

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Begun, It Looks Like the US-China Trade War Has

 

It appears the war of words is over between the US and China. Or, more accurately, the conflict is moving beyond just words. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Beijing said it would retaliate immediately after the Trump administration announced Friday that it will impose tariffs on $50 billion of goods from China, raising the potential for a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.”

So, escalation. But how does it end? Probably not with China tweaking its state capitalist economic model anytime soon. That would require, if anything, a sustained, multiyear effort where, for instance, Chinese firms benefiting from theft of American intellectual property would face severe sanctions. As my colleague Claude Barfield argues, “Should Beijing remain obdurate against market-opening reform, the US should progressively close off sectors to Chinese investment and operations in this country. Further, in a progressive ratcheting up, Chinese companies should be excluded from US capital markets, including stock exchange listings and the use of American underwriters for capital offerings.”

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Imagine: Put Up or Shut Up

 

Richard Goodstein is a Democratic campaign strategist, involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Of course, in a world where Carter Page is a Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, it’s difficult to know what that means. Is he just some rando volunteer padding his resume, did he actually get a paycheck from the campaign, or was he one of the inner cabal working to subvert the American electoral process? Who knows?

What we do know is that he’s a frequent talking head on the cable news networks, where he can be counted on to change the subject on a dime, and always reliably parrot the Democratic talking points of the day. I mention him because he’s been selling a particular talking point over the last week or so, a point that I have heard repeated by other Democrats, including a group of Congress critters in the wake of the report from the Office of Inspector General.

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Harassment Gone Haywire

 

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine last week published a lengthy report on the sexual harassment of women in their three respective disciplines. The New York Times headline about the report read: “How Universities Deal With Sexual Harassment Needs Sweeping Change, Panel Says.” The panel that authored the report consisted of 15 women and five men, and was co-chaired by Wellesley President Paula Johnson and MIT professor Sheila Widnall. The panel got the matter half right. Yes, current policies regarding sexual harassment in these and other fields of academia must change. The panel is also half wrong: What must end are nonstop efforts to tar institutions and individuals with excessive enforcement efforts under overbroad definitions of sexual harassment. The panel’s report was composed inside an ideological echo chamber from which all dissenting voices were systematically excluded, and its conclusions reflect its own want of open-minded discussion.

One would expect the panel’s harsh indictment of current practices to be supported by documented evidence of pervasive harassment. In fact, it only refers to a collection of outdated studies dating back 20 years. The report’s key piece of quantitative evidence is that in 2017 “there were more than 97 allegations of sexual harassment at institutions of higher education covered in the media, and there are likely many more allegations that are working their way through confidential formal reporting processes.” The report never asks which of these allegations have been retracted or may yet be shown to be false. Nor does it seek to differentiate between gradations of offending conduct, let alone recognize that even if every claim were true, it works out to a fraction of an allegation per institution for that year. From this thin evidence, it concludes, wrongly, that “more rapid and sustained progress in closing the gender gap in science, engineering, and medicine is jeopardized by the persistence of sexual harassment and its adverse impact on women’s careers in our nation’s colleges and universities.” It further ignores that in 2017, the number of women enrolled in medical school exceeded the number of men for the first time ever, although the gap persists in other disciplines.

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Joint Exercises

 

Original artwork here.

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What’s a “Wyoming Republican?”

 

John Daniel Davidson has a revealing if off-putting article in The Federalist, “Ideological Purity Runs Rampant at the Texas GOP Convention.” It bears a closer look.

As befits a vibrant and confident movement, there was a wide assortment of right-wing views present at the convention, from party leaders to fringe groups one might have thought were extinct, such as the John Birch Society. Davidson quotes several of the participants, especially those whose attitudes might best be characterized as adamantine.

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Understanding Circumcision

 
David ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the modern state of Israel, as the sandek of the first child born in modern Eilat.

I’ve been reading about efforts to ban Brit Milah (circumcision) in Scandinavian countries. There is enormous support for these initiatives and so, as a religious Jew, I felt it was important to explain why we do circumcision. I’m going to skip all the tradition-based, health-based, and religious-freedom-based arguments. I’m going to skip to the core symbolic purpose of this act.

Where Christianity values love and faith and the secular world values self-determination and personal expression, Judaism values Creation. So many of the laws in the Torah focus on countering ritual impurity — which is actually about keeping our distance from destruction and the loss of potential. Jews embrace creation — which is why the Torah (Bible) introduces our G-d as the G-d of Creation.

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Things Are Getting Boomy: The Economy Is Jumping, and Worker Wages Might Soon Follow

 

I wrote yesterday about the upturn in Wall Street forecasts for second quarter GDP growth. Maybe the first 4% quarter since 2014 (5.2% in Q3). JPMorgan, for example, now estimates “real GDP is expanding at a 4.0% annual rate in Q2, up from our prior estimate of 2.75% and almost twice the 2.2% growth rate experienced in Q1.”

Sounds like welcome news to me.

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