Current Affairs Feed

Frum criticizes GOP tax bill

David Frum has a good essay, defending the need for corporate tax reform, but arguing that this current effort is a total failure at achieving that goal.

A key paragraph:

Congressional Republicans well appreciate the unpopularity of what they are doing. That’s why they are short-circuiting the traditional legislative process, bypassing hearings and other opportunities for public comment. The more the public knows, the more jeopardized their plan becomes. Since the Great Recession, the GOP has grown both more extreme in its goals and more radical in its methods. Apocalyptically pessimistic in its view of America’s future, it seems determined to seize for its donors and core constituencies as much as it can, as fast as it can, as ruthlessly as it can. It will then take advantage of the U.S. political system’s notorious antimajoritarian bias in favor of the status quo to defend the grab over the coming years and decades. Repeal and replace failed. The new slogan is: Rush, grab, entrench, and defend.

The strong conclusion:

A rationally conservative party of business and enterprise could, and should, have written a corporate tax-reform bill that is compelling on the merits. The slowdown of U.S. productivity growth would be the country’s leading problem if U.S. constitutional democracy were not being attacked from the White House at the same time. The GOP submitted to Trump in 2016 very largely to reach this moment. The ironic outcome is that his success that year doomed the very prize for which his party sold its soul.


Annie Proulx's hopeful speech

Receiving a lifetime achievement award, author Annie Proulx delivered a speech commenting on current affairs but looking forward to a happy ending.

As an ethicist and pastor, I thrilled to these sentences:

Yet somehow the old discredited values and longings persist. We still have tender feelings for such outmoded notions as truth, respect for others, personal honor, justice, equitable sharing. We still hope for a happy ending. 

The speech concluded:

Hence the indispensable silver lining, the lovers reunited, the families reconciled, the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded, fortunes regained, treasures uncovered, stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways, good names restored, greed daunted, old maids married off to worthy parsons, troublemakers banished to other hemispheres, forgers of documents tossed down the stairs, seducers scurried to the altar, orphans sheltered, widows comforted, pride humbled, wounds healed, prodigal sons summoned home, cups of sorrow tossed into the ocean, hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation, general merriment and celebration, and the dog Fido, gone astray in the first chapter, turns up barking gladly in the last. Thank you.


What's the standard then?

This article grapples with the odd responses coming out of Alabama in support of Roy Moore after these recent allegations of sexual abuse.  This final paragraph raises a significant question for the future of our Republic:

The newest allegations against Moore present Republicans with a choice—not only individual officeholders, but the party as a whole, both nationally and in Alabama. Withdrawing support for Moore, and calling for voters not to support him, would be a bitter pill. It’s too late to replace him on the ticket, and although there’s talk of a Luther Strange write-in campaign, a Moore defeat would probably mean the seat goes to Democrat Doug Jones. And yet if the party’s members can’t bring themselves to set aside narrow partisan interest and condemn a man whom they despise, with a track record of bigotry, and with multiple on-the-record accusations of improper sexual misconduct with underage women, what behavior and which candidate can they possibly rule out in the future?


Warning from Kansas

A Republican Kansas State Senator writes a warning to Congress as it works on tax reform about the devastating mistakes Kansas made in service to ideology.

I never anticipated entering public service. I was content raising my family, participating in the PTA and operating my business. However, I saw the impact that bad tax policy was having on the state. I felt the results of growing class sizes and shrinking programs in the schools my children attended. I witnessed a gradual erosion of the quality of life that makes Kansas such a great place to live.


Afghanistan: 15 years of making progress

From the military humour site Duffelblog a reminder that for 15 years we've been making progress in Afghanistan.  The best paragraph: 

Gen. Nicholson, the current RSM commander, is looking to continue the progress made by his predecessors over the past 15 years. He has big shoes to fill, as at least two presidents and perhaps a dozen commanders have successfully won the war thus far.


End of Work?

In recent months I've seen a lot about the end of work, how automatization is reducing the need for jobs.  We already have fewer jobs than people and that problem is only going to get worse.  Of course people and governments have begun experimenting with what's next.  We had a really interesting three part series in First Forum at church on this topic.

Here is a provocative essay saying that the goal of full employment is wrong, as such a thing is not even possible anymore.  The essay invites us to consider the meaning of life once work has ceased, a radical change in our Western picture of the good life, dating back to Plato.

So this Great Recession of ours – don’t kid yourself, it ain’t over – is a moral crisis as well as an economic catastrophe. You might even say it’s a spiritual impasse, because it makes us ask what social scaffolding other than work will permit the construction of character – or whether character itself is something we must aspire to. But that is why it’s also an intellectual opportunity: it forces us to imagine a world in which the job no longer builds our character, determines our incomes or dominates our daily lives.