Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Principles over Personalities

Terry Paulson puts an argument below that I mostly agree with but his comments on free trade are naive.  There are three reasons why Trump's restrictive attitudes to trade are right

1). He's got the voters behind him.  So opposing him on that would be an electoral disaster.  He largely won office on his skepticism about the "exporting" of jobs.  He has a degree in economics and he has held his view on trade from long before he ran for political office.  So his views are well-considered and of long standing.  One must consider that he is on to something.

2).  The major argument in favour of free trade is its economic efficiency:  It delivers lowest prices.  But there are also non-economic arguments to be considered. Economics is not everything.   Economists have long recognized a variety of those arguments: The infant industry argument, the national security argument and the "Australian" case.  None of those arguments are at issue in the present case but the lesson should be learned that economics-only arguments have long been recognized as too simplistic even by economists. In Trump's case, he is arguing that social stability is being risked by too-rapid industrial change and that change should therefore be reined in and partially reversed.  And if a conservative cannot oppose change and argue for stability, who can?

3). Even the economic argument is shaky and may only apply when all other things are equal.  The strongest argument there is the 19th century experience.  During the 19th century, America prospered mightily behind HIGH trade walls.  There was nothing approaching free trade then. Might not a similar prospering happen again under Trump?  Given the surge in employment that has already taken place since his election, it looks like that is in fact already happening.  How embarrassing to many it will be if Trump's "dumb" policies deliver a win-win:  Prosperity plus stability!

With Republicans in control of the executive and legislative branch, critical things can and should get done. Should Republican principles be more important than presidents in guiding our policy priorities in Washington? Certainly.

US Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona has just published a controversial new book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principles. Although some question Flake’s own priorities and voting record, he calls for putting principles ahead of personalities. Losers don’t legislate, but legislation must serve a purpose. He writes, “If this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?”

Like many conservatives, Flake believes that Trump appointed an exceptional Supreme Court justice. His positions on cutting regulations and initiating a tax policy that lowers rates and broadens the base are easy to embrace and support. But Flake feels that Trump strays from conservative principles on curtailing free trade. Free trade serves our citizens, our businesses, and keeps important allies in our trade orbit in an expanding global economy.

Republicans have lost in elections when they stray from the principles that guide them. In 2001, President George W. Bush came into the Presidency and pushed for “No child left behind” and a prescription drug entitlement plan. He promoted his “caring conservative” version of bigger, better government, and the principle of smaller government was pushed aside. In the mid-term elections, the GOP lost the Senate.

Our Founding Fathers wisely built checks and balances into our Constitutional structure. It’s time for Republicans in Congress to assert their role and let Republican principles be their primary guide. They should support and work with Trump whenever they can. They should work with Democrats willing to build on common ground, but they should not follow Trump where he departs from what we stand for. Winners legislate; it’s time they assert their priorities.

In the coming months, I will focus on the six primary principles that California Republicans have said unites them: smaller government and less government regulations; lower taxes on small businesses and individuals; a strong military and homeland security; sustain the American Dream through personal freedom and responsibility; promote educational excellence through school choice; and support a free-enterprise, free-trade economy. It’s time Congress and President Trump get busy delivering on what matters most.



Network denies axing Tim Allen’s popular sitcom over Trump support

US television network ABC has denied that it cancelled comedian Tim Allen’s popular sitcom Last Man Standing due to its conservative politics.

Fans of the show — and Allen himself — were angered when ABC announced in May that one of its most-watched scripted series, a solid ratings draw, was being brought to an end.

Allen’s character, an outspoken conservative, echoed the political positions of the 64-year-old actor, a Republican who attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The announcement sparked a firestorm of criticism on social media, with Allen tweeting that he had been “stunned and blindsided” by Disney-owned ABC’s decision.

Meanwhile a petition on Change.org that attracted more than 300,000 signatures claimed the comedy was cancelled because it was the only entertainment program that was not constantly shoving “liberal ideals down the throats of the viewers.”

“Politics had absolutely nothing to do with it,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.
Tim Allen and Nancy Travis in a scene from Last Man Standing.

Tim Allen and Nancy Travis in a scene from Last Man Standing.Source:Supplied

“We have actors on our shows who have all sorts of political views. Tim Allen is a valuable part of the Disney family and has been for a very long time.” She described Last Man Standing as a “high quality show” but added that the network had not been able to find room in the schedules for a seventh season.

A month before the cancellation Allen had spoken about Trump’s inauguration on late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live, saying that he was “almost afraid” to say he had been at the event.

“You gotta be real careful around here,” Allen said. “You get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody else believes. This is like ’30s Germany.”



Hostility toward religion is on the rise in the United States, according to a new report

The report, recently released by the Family Research Council, shows an increase in the number of incidents involving “religious freedom violations” since the first report was released in July 2014. The original report spanned over a decade and contained 90 incidents. In the past three years, 69 new incidents have been added.

“The recent spike in government-driven religious hostility is sadly not surprising, especially considering the Obama administration’s antagonism toward biblical Christianity,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in a statement. “The report underscores the legitimacy of the actions taken by the Trump administration to end the policies and practices in federal agencies that fan the flames of this religious intolerance.”

Perkins added the report’s findings also show “the growing courage of Christians, especially young Christians, to defend both their faith and their freedoms.”

The report found that antagonism toward religious beliefs on sexuality was fueling much of the increase:

Hostility to religious beliefs on natural marriage and human sexuality … [included] 42 incidents in the report’s first edition. In the time since then, 48 new incidents have been added to these sections. Thus, the number of these religious freedom violations more than doubled …

In the introduction to the report, the Family Research Council writes that the attacks on religious teaching on marriage and sexuality “is the product of more insidious forces which ultimately will erode civil liberties for all Americans, even if they hold a different viewpoint than our own.”

Included in the religious liberty violations listed in the report was one about a survey distributed by a major financial firm.

In 2014, JPMorgan Chase, a vocal advocate of LGBT rights, sent out a survey to its employees asking a number of questions. The survey asked if the employee was “disabled, had family members that were disabled, if they were LGBT, or if they were allies of the LGBT movement.” Employees that answered negatively the final question could be interpreted as being at odds with the beliefs of the firm.

In February 2016, Edie and David Delorme received death threats after declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The Delormes, who are devout Baptists, have previously refused to create cakes that go against their religious convictions, including those “that support alcohol, tobacco, gambling, or convey sexually inappropriate images,” according to the report.

Rather than accepting a list of nearby bakeries that would create the same-sex wedding cake instead, the couple complained to the media, bringing on harsh attacks against the Delormes.

“The bakery received threats of violence on social media and Yelp,” the Family Research Council wrote. “Though the bakery was never threatened with a lawsuit, they remain a target of criticism by LGBT activists.”

Another area of extreme hostility concerns Catholic churches, schools, and hospitals who have been operating in accordance with the Catholic Church’s teaching.

One example occurred in September 2016 when Kate Drumgoole, a guidance counselor and coach at a Catholic high school in New Jersey, was fired when the administration learned that she was in a same-sex relationship.

Drumgoole, citing discrimination, sued the archdiocese and Paramus Catholic High School despite having previously signed the archdiocese’s “Policies on Professional and Ministerial Conduct.” By signing it, teachers acknowledge the requirement that they “act in accordance with the ‘discipline, norms and teachings of the Catholic Church.’”

“Religious liberty is the exercise of our inherent, natural rights. It is not limited to freedom to worship, rather, it means that we are free to live consistently with our beliefs in the public square,” says Melanie Israel, a research associate in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.

“Individuals and organizations should be able to maintain their ability to abide by their religious convictions when they carry out their work, including serving the poor, educating the next generation, or running a business.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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