Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Government Shutdown? Trump seeks to avert a disaster by showing flexibility on border wall (Washington Post)
Comment: I said recently he would cave on the wall, at least as a requirement for this week’s budget. Stopping illegal immigration is important to his voters, not the wall as such, despite his campaign promises. It polls poorly; the Republicans know the media would blame them for any shutdown; and, after all, they control the legislature and executive so how could they screw this up? The voters would be right to ask if they do screw it up.
◆ As France movements toward the runoff ballot, voters are anxious about growth and employment, as well as Muslim immigration and terrorism.On troubling signal: almost 60% of France’s young workers were on “temporary contracts in 2015.” (One reason for these “temporary contracts”: in France, you basically get tenure in many jobs after a few months. So, predictably, businesses don’t hire. This is economic malpractice.
As for the election, the centrist Macron is currently a 20 point favorite over right-wing nationalist Le Pen, says the Wall Street Journal.
European markets showed relief over the prospect of a Macron victory.
Comment: The depth of the cut may reflect the Trump Administration’s fear that they won’t be able to get the individual tax cut through Congress this year. Their calculation is that tax cuts are essential to economic growth and that, if personal cuts are delayed, then deep corporate cuts might do the trick.
The Democrats will attack corporate tax cuts, of course, saying they benefit the rich. That argument will gain traction if the economy is sluggish. It will sink in quicksand if the economy grows more rapidly.
◆ BART, barf Bay Area Rapid Transit “takeover robbery: 40 to 60 teens swarm train, hold up riders” (SF Gate)
Dozens of juveniles terrorized riders Saturday night when they invaded the Coliseum Station and commandeered at least one train car, forcing passengers to hand over bags and cell phones and leaving at least two with head injuries.
The incident occurred around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Witnesses told police that 40 to 60 juveniles flooded the station, jumped the fare gates and rushed to the second-story train platform. . . .
The attack was so quick, police reported, that the teenagers were able to retreat from the station and vanish into the surrounding East Oakland neighborhood before BART officers could respond. –SF Gate
Comment: The report at SF Gate should win a special award for “exceptional reporting services in never mentioning–or even hinting–at who these robbers might have been.” They conclude the report by noting that “last month, according to two television reports, a swarm of teenagers invaded a carnival near the Oakland Coliseum, beating workers and stealing prizes from the game booths.”
The cars are customized Chrysler minivans and have already been tested with Alphabet employees, but real drivers will give the company more data. The project has been in the works for a decade.
Comment: Autonomous cars and trucks are a remarkable achievement that will have a far-reaching impact on the economy and society.
◆ Comment: Thank you for all the kind words on my post about grits, school lunches, and creeping federal regulations. The post is here.