More Noise

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter; “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
At this, Alice got up and walked off.

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

IMG_1585Tuesday night three ex-pat Europeans and myself shared dinner and we talked about most continents except for North America.  We sat on a patio and from time to time I would look high on the wall opposite and track the progress of the second largest and slowest moving cockroach I’ve ever seen (the largest was in a luxury hotel in New Orleans).  I’ve seen very few of the bugs here in Mexico (despite the frequency of La Cucuracha in many movies) . I put the topics my three friends rose (primarily economics, aging population, immigration) against the backdrop of what I understand to be happening in the United States.

But first there’s George Will.  I’ve always found the conservative columnist creepy and his rant last week about rape on college campuses raising victim hood to a privileged status is a particular irritant to me.  Here’s an example of his ever-wishful writing.

The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous.

Sources of the percentages:  (a) the 20 per cent statistic is from  The Campus Sexual Assault Study (2007), which was conducted for the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice;  (b) the 12 per cent statistic is from the White House task force that President Obama formed in 2014,

George, this is the way logic and arithmetic work:  while 20 percent of students state they have been sexually assaulted, a smaller number (in this case 12 per cent) actually report the attack to authorities.  The under-reporting to authorities is pretty consistent with all crimes, especially violent crimes against women.  For example, in my family we didn’t report every incident to the police although every incident was discussed within the family.

Next, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a primary election, (thereby losing his Congressional seat) to Dave Brat, a college professor backed by the Tea Party.   Mr. Brat is a professor at Randolph-Macon College (which I attended for two years). His opponent in the general election, Democrat Jack Trammel, is also a professor at Randolph-Macon College.

Supposedly, one of the issues that led to Cantor’s downfall was his “softness” on immigration reform.  After having seen some recent crime statistics, I now believe Mexicans are much safer if they return here than if they remain in the U.S. as the U.S. violent assault rate – according to FBI statistics – is five times greater than Mexico’s and rape occurs about twice as often in the US than in Mexico.

Is Brat now the worst of the bunch?

The following type of deep thinking is not the reason that I dropped out of Randolph-Macon, although it did drive me out of Virginia.  Chuck Todd of MSNBC interviewed Brat.  Remember, Brat teaches Economics.

TODD: Should there be a minimum wage in your opinion?

BRAT: I don’t have a well-crafted response on that one. All I know is if you take the long-run graph over 200 years of the wage rate, it cannot differ from your nation’s productivity. Right? So you can’t make up wage rates. Right? I would love for everyone in sub-Saharan Africa, for example — children of God — to make $100 an hour. I would love to just assert that that would be the case. But you can’t assert that unless you raise their productivity, and then the wage follows.

TODD: Sounds like you’re making a case against a federally mandated minimum wage.

BRAT: I’m just making the case I just made that you can’t artificially make up wage rates, they have to be related to productivity.

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the federal minimum wage in the United States should actually be almost $22 an hour if it had kept up with increases in worker productivity.

AND let’s not lose sight of Brat’s thoughts on climate change [from, quoting a campaign video of Brat’s]

If you let Americans do their thing, there is no scarcity, right?  They said we’re going to run out of food 200 years ago, that we’re goin’ to have a ice age. Now we’re heating up…Of course we care for the environment, but we’re not mad people. Over time, rich countries solve their problems. We get it right. It’s not all perfect, but we get it right.


A month for weddings


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