Major Pintz: These are today’s recruits, sir. Not much to pick from I’m afraid.
Col Klink: Well, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take them.
Major Pintz: Get these men uniforms, Sergeant, and have them report to me at once.
Sgt: Jawohl, Herr Major.
Col Klink: We are certainly scraping the bottom of the barrel these days.

Hogan’s Heroes The Swing Shift 1967

Over at Stacy McCain’s site there is yet another story of yet another one of the people I refer to as “Stacy’s Women” that is the various disturbed people that he regularly writes about:

OK, I’ll explain what and who inspired this rant. Rachel Sather graduated last year from CUNY-Hunter College. And she is crazy:

I’m very open about living with Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s a lot more common than people assume, with 1.6% of the general population living with BPD, most of whom are women. . . .
Between the psychotic episodes, addicting coping mechanisms, and the seemingly endless mental fog that comes with BPD, its incredibly difficult sometimes to maintain a healthy life. . . .
Thanks to social networks like Tumblr, there’s a whole network of bloggers that share their experiences with BPD. . . . The fact that I have learned more about my illness from Tumblr than someone with a Masters in psychology made me realize that not enough people were talking about it.

Great. You’re having “psychotic episodes” and “endless mental fog,” but you’ve got a college diploma and lots of friends on Tumblr. 

Now as a rule my only really interest in such people is that I pray daily for “Stacy’s Women” as a group on the 4th Glorious Mystery (and ask my late mother, mother in law & aunts to pray for them too) but it hit me today that while they may or may not be grateful for those prayers there is one person that Stacy’s women should be thanking their lucky stars for.

That person is President Donald Trump.

This might seem completely counter intuitive, after all President Donald Trump symbolizes all that they hate, but consider one of the facts of life.

In this modern world if you are looking for employment beyond something that involves the question “Would you like to upsize your combo meal?” you have to get past an HR department.

Now if you’ve graduated from a good college it’s very likely that your resume might be one of those flagged by a HR as one to check out.  But once your name is out of the pile, then comes the google search:

“Hello, world, I’m a queer who has psychotic episodes!” Is that how you want to introduce yourself to every stranger with an Internet connection? Are there actually people who could read that self-description without thinking, “Wow, better stay away from that weirdo”? And what about the ex-boyfriend with whom she had the “overall terrible experience”? Does he realize that Ms. Sather’s interest in him was “psychological attachment” symptomatic of her mental illness?

Y’know, some people had problems with sex before the Internet existed. They either solved their problems or they didn’t, but few of them advertised their problems to the entire world because (a) they didn’t have the means to do so, and (b) they weren’t completely crazy.

Now I can’t speak for HR departments everywhere but if you choose to advertise a bunch of personal problems, it’s not all that likely that HR and the manager looking to hire will be just dying to have you in for a chat.

And I haven’t even gotten started on the political stuff that screams to the corporate world that you are a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

However thanks to President Donald Trump Stacy’s Women have an ally that has the capacity to lessen if not cancel out all those legit worries. The Trump Economy!

In an economy with unemployment under 5% the labor market is tight. In an economy with unemployment under 5% AND growing at 3% or better that market is tighter.

Now picture an economy with unemployment under 5% that growing at 3% or better further stimulated by a corporate tax rate dropped by 40% to spur business growth and a drop in personal tax rates meaning that the average person has extra money to spend.  Like this:

CBS reported that Christmas sales reached $598 million this year, up $33 million over last year, for a 5.8% gain.

That is the biggest gain in Christmas sales in a dozen years.

And that’s not even considering what the ebbing of the flow of illegal immigrants does to said market.

In a labor pool where Kurt Schlichter’s “normals” are already snatched up everybody else gets a 2nd look.  Hey with a labor pool thin enough a college grad, even one with borderline personality disorder who has occasional psychotic episodes, not only avoids the circular file but might suddenly become a catch

It’s Donald Trump, not their liberal professors who will made this possible and every single one of these people who find themselves with a good job instead of manning a drive up window owe him a debt of gratitude that he will never collect.

Via Kirk’s Market Thoughts

Russ DeKuyper: You know how much I gotta make to keep $300 cash in our tax bracket? I gotta make 800, maybe $1000. That’s why I want that check. Now, you give me that $1000.
Archie Bunker: Why, you copper-plated phony, you. You’re money nuts. When this was just a raggy fur, you couldn’t care less about it. Now it’s $300, your whole world lights up.
Russ DeKuyper: You bet it does. You really bet it does. Three hundred bucks tax free is really illuminating.

All in the Family Edith gets a Mink 1972

We are hearing a lot of complaints from people like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi about the new Trump Tax law. I don’t blame them, it’s one more brick supporting the individual democrat welfare states removed.

Because of the deductablity of state and local taxes, when itemizing (which people of means generally do as they can almost always find more than the standard deduction in write offs) tax increases in state taxes and local taxes while annoying were not prohibitive for people living in high tax states. So when Democrats make pitches like this one described by Chris Christie back in 2012 while he was stumping in Atkinson NH…

35 years ago we didn’t have an income tax in NJ no income tax like right here in NH, we had no income tax and Governor Brendon Byrne, a democrat said: If you just give me a small income tax, a little one, I will lower your property taxes, we had the highest property taxes in America back in 1977 so 35 years later, what have we got? We’ve STILL got the highest property taxes in America and the income tax that started at 2% under governor Byrne is now 9%”

…they knew they could mitigate the effects for the rich who would be getting the biggest hit because that 2% tax which would became 9% along with those high property taxes they were already paying, would come right off their federal taxes.

Now think of states like California where all the celebs are all anti-trump all the time. If you are doing a TV series and making say $100K an episode. California’s 13.3% tax rate costs you $13,300 per episode, BUT because of federal deduction for state taxes, that adds up to 5253.50 right off the top of your federal tax bill.   Over a 26 episode season that’s $136,591 a year in taxes you aren’t paying to the feds.  It’s like getting paid for an extra episode tax free!

As Archie Bunker might say: “Dat ain’t happenin’ no more.”

Starting in 2018 California’s 13.3% income tax really costs 13,300 per $100,000 made and New Jersey’s 9% tax rate really costs 9000 per 100,000 and if you are a person with a Million dollar property a 5% property tax really costs $50,000 a year.

And it’s not just states, there are plenty of cities that have their own income taxes like Washington DC , Baltimore, Denver,  NYC,

And since the people getting these deductions are by nature the most mobile,  suddenly you have the prospect of the slow exodus of such people to low tax states and cities becoming a stampede that you have to somehow curb.

In other words you have to compete!

No longer will it be a gimme for liberals to buy off activists or pack state bureaucracies the feds aren’t going to subsidize these vote buying schemes anymore.

Now you have to give the voters a reason to stay while at the same time explaining to your base that if you don’t there will be no gravy train left to ride on.

This is why not a single Democrat voted for this tax bill, they knew that if it’s passed their overwhelming democrat legislature would face a day of reckoning.  That day has now arrived.

Welcome to the free market folks!

I should add one caveat to this.  All of these states and cities have one advantage that their worried counterparts in Germany and Australia don’t.  The Trump boom that these tax cuts will produce increased revenues that might, just might, give them enough wiggle room to make these needed changes to their tax codes over time and thus less painful.

But their window of opportunity is going to be a very slim one, will they open said window or push it closed and wait for these tax cuts expire?

Update:  I’ve gotten emails asking about NH & Tennessee listed as 5% & 6% respectively when they don’t have a state income tax, however both Tennessee and NH both tax dividend and interest income and thus those taxes would be deductible in the examples above, full details here.

Democrats nationally might still be in denial over the Trump Tax plan but I can name two countries that aren’t.  One is Australia: .

Australia must follow the United States in slashing corporate tax rates or risk losing jobs and investment to other parts of the world, the country’s top economic ministers have warned.

The federal government is restating its pitch to reduce the company tax rate for all businesses from 30 per cent to 25 per cent after similar moves in the US.

and the other Germany:

“The sharp reduction in the corporate tax rate will give the US a massive competitive advantage,” said Christoph Spengel, the corporate tax expert at the Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim. “Tax competition will get a new dimension with Europeans forced to compete among themselves.”

Wouldn’t it be something if the Trump Tax Law drops taxes worldwide and creates a global boom instead of just a US one?

The best way to descrive the effect of the tax cut bill that just passed will have on our already improving economy is to think of it as the difference between Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady.

By any standard Ben Roethlisberger is a great quarterback. His stats are impressive. He has thrown for over 4000 yards five times, has thrown 25 or more touchdowns a season seven times, had seasons with a QB rating over 100 three times, thrown less than 10 interceptions a season 4 times. Counting this season He has led the Steelers to ten playoff appearances, seven division titles and two Super Bowls both wins.

Any competent list of elite NFL quarterbacks over the last decade includes him and in different era a credible case could be made for listing him as said era’s top Quarterback.

But unfortunately for Big Ben this isn’t another era. It’s the Tom Brady era and as excellent as Roethlisberger’s stats are they pale before Brady’s. Tom has thrown for 4000 or more yards 9 times (over 5000 in 2011) He has thrown 25 or more touchdowns 13 times (including 50 in 2007) , ha seasons with a QB rating over 100 6 times (three seasons over 110), thrown less than 10 interceptions a season 7 times (only 2 last year)

And of course counting this season Tom Brady has led the Patriots to the Division every single year (15 seasons years) but one (2002) and has taken his team to the Superbowl seven times winning five.

Or to put it another way. While Ben Roethlisberger is a great quarterback, a Hall of Fame Quarterback, a quarterback any team would be proud to have, he is not even in the same league as Tom Brady who is the greatest and most successful Quarterback to ever play the game.

What does that have to do with the Trump Tax plan? Just this.

The Obama Economy was, put simply a disaster:

The latest numbers mean that Obama’s economic forecasters missed their growth targets every year that he was in office. And, once again, economists who had been promising that strong growth was just around the corner — most recently because of a relatively strong third quarter — had to eat crow.

It also means that GDP growth has not exceeded 3% for 11 straight years. . . .

And despite th predictions of naysayers and experts galore:

Jason Furman, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, told reporters earlier this year that the chances of reaching 3 percent growth over a decade were about 1 in 25 — which is what many political experts said was Trump’s chance of winning the election. Another Obama economist, Alan Krueger, called the 3 percent growth forecast “extremely rosy.”

Larry Summers, a top economic adviser to Obama, questioned the “standards of integrity” of the Trump economic team’s forecast for 3 percent (or more) growth. “I do not see how any examination of U.S. history could possibly support the Trump forecast as a reasonable expectation,” he wrote in The Washington Post.

It took Donald Trump less than one year to change this achieving the 3% economic growth that others have said was not possible

President Donald Trump’s goal of 3 percent growth has been realized in two of the three quarters since he took office, and economists say the trend can keep going for at least another quarter and possibly longer.

Third-quarter GDP grew by 3 percent, well above the 2.5 percent expected by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters and below the 2.8 percent in the CNBC/Moody’s Rapid Update. The third-quarter number comes on top of 3.1 percent growth in the second quarter, making for the best back-to-back quarters since 2014 and ending a long streak of sluggish 2 percent growth.

To put it one way. Trump’s first year Economic numbers are something to be proud of, particularly compared to Obama’s. Clearly above average and heading in the right direction. They are the Ben Roethlisberger of economic stats.

Now take that above average economy and add to it a tax plan that cuts corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% while cutting taxes on a resurgent middle class a package that produced this reactions from Germans:

“The tax competition will have a new dimension,” said Christoph Spengel, chairman of the corporate tax department at the University of Mannheim. Mr. Spengel, who is also a research associate at the Center for European Economic Research, and a group of tax experts at the university have done a detailed comparison of the two countries’ tax systems and published a report under the heading, “Germany loses out in US tax reform.”

Clemens Fuest, who heads the Ifo economic think tank, also said he believed German business would suffer. “Investments and jobs will migrate to the US,” he said.

Once the full effect of this tax bill hits we will go from a Roethlisberger economy to a Brady economy and leave that solid 3% growth in the dust.

Get ready folks, golden days are ahead.

Romney in Illinois, 2012

I’m not a big Mitt fan but if there was ever a time for the National GOP and Donald Trump to run a play out of the Mitt Romney playbook it’s this week.

The DESTROY US ALL caucus is already screaming about how this tax bill means we’re all going to die (which was true, no matter the result) and I’ve already noted that there is a provision for people to donate money to reduce the public debt.

But that’s not the same as paying a legal tax rate so I think the GOP and Trump should give the left a chance to really put their money where their mouths are by doing what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts concerning taxes back in 2000.

When he reduced out tax rate from 5.85% to 5% the law allowed companies and individuals to pay the old tax rate and every year a few tax payers choose to do so. As the state puts it:

Taxpayers have the option to pay a higher tax rate on certain types of income. Taxpayers may pay 5.85% as opposed to 5.1% on the following types of income:

Form 1 or 1-NR/PY income after exemptions:
Form 1, Line 19 or

1-NR/PY, Line 23.
Schedule B interest and dividend income:
Form 1, Line 20 or

1-NR/PY, Line 24.
Schedule D net long-term capital gains: –
Schedule D, Line 20.

Since so many liberals are so upset over this tax bill I’d give them a similar out.

I would introduce a bill in the house allowing the old 35% tax rate to apply any corporation that wishes to pay it. Such a bill should fly though the house and the senate and would likely arrive on President Trump’s desk in time to sign with the 1st tax bill.

Such a law would be a great chance for Microsoft or Ben and Jerry’s or Amazon or any California and/or Hollywood corporation in terms of virtue signaling. With the check of a single box on their corporate tax returns they can make sure everyone knows just how much they really love america as opposed to those nasty conservatives. It’s virtue signaling at the absolute highest level possible.

And If I’m Donald Trump I’d make sure every single one of those corporations get a chance to do so every year or be called out every year if they don’t.

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There was such high hopes for Republicans going into 2017. A GOP-controlled House and Senate putting legislation on a Republican President’s desk is exactly what they’ve been asking for since Barack Obama first took office. Voters delivered. All was well in the world. 2017 was going to be the year the GOP finally got stuff done.

I don’t have to tell you the punchline. It’s more like a punch in the gut. I know there are readers who will have valid excuses why Obamacare wasn’t repealed, Planned Parenthood wasn’t defunded, the wall wasn’t funded, and DACA is on its way to becoming law. I also know there are plenty of readers who will point fingers at this faction, that branch, or this person about why we don’t have anything of substance after nearly a year of trying. I’ll nod in agreement with pretty much all of the excuses and finger-pointing because all will likely be valid to some extent. The only one I won’t accept is that the Democrats obstructed. That would be false. They didn’t have to. The GOP obstructed itself just fine.

All of this leads me to the current dilemma. The GOP must pass tax cuts before the end of year. Why? Because the aforementioned utter failures at everything else they’ve attempted have forced them into a position where they might get literally nothing big accomplished in their entire first year with full control. That label is too much for them to want to carry, so they’re doing everything they can to get something they can call tax “reform” on the books. This should terrify us all.

Not only is the plan not what most Republicans would have wanted, it actually does worse by some of the people who wanted it. The effects on the middle class are debatable, but one thing that’s very clear is a huge mistake they have to get fixed before they can pass it. As reported by the Wall Street Journal:

That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes.

As lawmakers rush to write the final tax bill over the next week, they already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening. Broadly, House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile the bills they passed, looking for ways to pay for eliminating the most contentious proposals. The formal House-Senate conference committee will meet Wednesday, and GOP lawmakers may unveil an agreement by the end of the week.

The possible marginal tax rate of more than 100% results from the combination of tax policies designed to provide benefits to businesses and families but then deny them to the richest people. As income climbs and those breaks phase out, each dollar of income faces regular tax rates and a hidden marginal rate on top of that, in the form of vanishing tax breaks. That structure, if maintained in a final law, would create some of the disincentives to working and to earning business profits that Republicans have long complained about, while opening lucrative avenues for tax avoidance.

In reality, this is should be pretty easy to fix. I’m not going to blow this out of proportion like so many in the media will, but it demonstrates a reality: these tax bills were rushed with the sole purpose of getting something passed in 2017. Had they repealed Obamacare, they would have been much more careful and methodical about putting out a tax cut package that wasn’t loaded with glaring holes and fiscal irresponsibility. Had they gotten the wall funded and started building it in full force, they might have held the tax bill a little longer to make sure they weren’t making huge mistakes with the nation’s economy.

We are riding a wave when the economy is in great shape. By rushing a mistake-ridden tax plan through to the President’s desk, they’re putting all of that at risk. This economy would be strong with very few risks of backsliding if it weren’t for Capitol Hill’s arbitrary deadline prompted by their failure to accomplish anything in 2017. For the sake of their majority, the GOP is willing to put the economy at risk with a sloppy tax plan.

We need tax cuts badly, but I’d rather wait a little longer and get the right tax plan in place instead of rushing it to protect a few politicians fighting for their careers.

Mayim Bialik not withstanding there is a lot to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving for Americans and those lucky enough to come here. And one of the things we have to be thankful for is Capitalism perfectly Illustrated by of all things rotisserie chickens sold by Market Basket stores.

If you go to any Market Basket you will find rotisserie chickens for sale. At the one closest to my house you can either buy a small chicken for $4.69 or a Perdue giant Roaster for $8.99 fully cooked and ready to eat.

The small chicken can feed two people easy and the big one can handle a family of four with no trouble.

Now you might be thinking: “Datechguy, so what? It’s a Rotisserie chicken, big deal!” To that I say: Yes it is!

Consider that for most of human history the vast majority of mankind has lived hand to mouth.  Even if you had good soil and ample water to grow crops you were one bad storm, one turn of the weather or one barbarian/bandit raid away from starvation.

Peasant:  He never steals all our food.  He leaves us enough to go on with.  That’s something.

The Magnificent Seven 1960

And even if you had access to food, unless you lived near the wilderness meat was a big luxury

Sir William: It may interest you to know that I’ve just been down in the kitchens. Do you know what our minions were feasting on, broth! And do you know what was in the broth, meat, MEAT!

His Lady: They have to put something in the broth.

Sir William: But not meat! Do you know the price of beef in Nottingham? It’s eating money!

The Adventures of Robin Hood The Miser 1956

And if you were poor or a common person you were happy enough to get a meal, any meal.

Sarah Jane Smith: Is all this for Irongron?
Meg: Him and his chamber guard.
Sarah Jane Smith: How many’s that?
Meg: Half a dozen. You’re full of questions, girl.
Sarah Jane Smith: Don’t the guards on the gate get stew?
MEG: What, meat for those common creatures? I should say not. They’ll have oatmeal the same as the rest of us, and lusty enough they are on that

Doctor Who The Time Warrior 1973

This has been the norm for most of human history.

Yet here in the west in general and the United States in particular this is not the case.

Consider, in Massachusetts the Minimum wage is $11 an hour while in the country as a whole said wage is $7.25 an hour, while Market Basket sells those chickens for $4.65 for the small and $8.99 for the huge Perdue roaster.

What does that mean, it means this:

If you are a person without education, without skills and only able to get a job doing simple manual labor.  For the price of not even a single hour of labor you can afford a meal of fresh meat fully cooked, and if you have a family you can even afford the big roaster (although if you are from out of state you might have to work a full 90 minutes to afford the Perdue model bird) to feed your entire family for the day.

That sentence alone is incredible in human history but there is an even bigger significance to it.

Not only is the poor person able to afford that chicken but the Market Basket chain is able to sell them that chicken while still managing to pay:

The employees who cooked wrapped and put out the chickens for sale
The truckers who deliver the chickens
The farmers who produced the chickens

and Still make a profit!

That is the result of capitalism, and freedom.  Capitalism, a system that allows and provides a reward for a person seeking to make a profit from their labors and a government free enough to allow this system to work.  It’s the combination of capitalism and the freedoms provided by western civilization in general and the United States in particular that allow this system to work.

It’s also why so regardless of how the academic left, the media and the professional left keep decrying the west as awful and capitalism as an evil repressive scourge, real people who know real repression and real hunger all over the world do all they can to get to the west in general and the US in particular, because they understand this underlying truth.

The only reason why so many in America have the luxury of professing socialism is because they live in a capitalistic society that keeps them fed 

because if they lived under the Venezuelan socialism that they so often espouse they’d be too busy trying to find food to proclaim how awesome socialism is.

I’ll leave you with these two tweets.  Kevin D Williamson who is a pretty bright fellow tweeted this out last week in response to a map showing that half the country lived in blue urban islands.

He’s close but not quite.

That’s the miracle of American freedom and Capitalism. It means that millions of folks like myself are fed because our Capitalistic system not only provides enough profit for others to make a living producing the food we need instead of having to grow it or hunt it ourselves but it provides a huge surplus that is given away to the poor all over the world, moreover it continues to provide incentives to drive people to do it better and cheaper every single day.

Capitalism as practiced in the US makes this anomaly of human history not only possible but so common that most people who are fed this way rarely if ever reflect on it.

If that’s not something to be thankful for I’d like to know what is?


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Today, Mick Mulvaney said something shocking. He declared if the Senate tax cut bill was getting stalled over repealing the individual mandate, then the White House would be okay with killing off that portion.

Huh?

What Republican would oppose the tax cuts specifically because they had the individual mandate repeal attached to them? Can anyone who feels this way really be called a Republican? No. As I noted on RedState:

If there are Republicans in the Senate and/or the House who are objecting to the tax cuts because of killing the individual mandate, it’s time for them to declare they’re Democrats. No Republican, not even the swampiest of the RINOs, could look anyone in the eye and claim they’re part of the GOP if they hold up cutting taxes for the sake of protecting the worst component of Obamacare. Not John McCain. Not Lisa Murkowski. Not even Susan Collins.

Let’s be perfectly clear. True Republicans should favor tax cuts. True Republicans should favor repealing the individual mandate. Neither is debatable nor are they mutually exclusive. If there are fiscal reasons for wanting to keep the mandate, then cut expenses elsewhere. Otherwise, don’t even pretend you’re a Republican if you oppose tax cuts or want to keep the individual mandate.

I’m no fan of the GOP, but I want two things they want: lower taxes and less government in my healthcare. This shouldn’t be an issue and the fact that the White House is already signalling retreat on this aspect of the cuts should be a wake up call for anyone who believes in limited government and fiscal responsibility.

By John Ruberry

Last week I had some time off from work and I did what few people do. Before sunrise I left home and drove to Detroit for a pleasure visit.

It was my second trip to the Motor City. My first Da Tech Guy account, from 2015, is here.

What follows is a progress report with a grade.

First of all, is Detroit back? Well, if you are like most visitors and you don’t venture beyond downtown, Midtown, Greektown, New Center, or its three casinos, you’ll say, “Yep, Detroit is a thriving city, it’s back.”

But most of the the neighborhoods, Corktown, Palmer Woods, and Sherwood Forest are exceptions, are either rundown and decrepit, or near-apocalyptic wastelands, such as Brightmoor. And as for Palmer Woods, just three blocks from its southeast corner, near where I parked my car to snap a picture of a feral dog–90 minutes later a store manager was murdered during an armed robbery.

But even in its rough patches–actually most of Detroit is one expansive rough patch–there are noticeable improvements.

The abandoned GM Fisher Body 21 plant

Two years ago I was able to walk into vacated schools and factories with only a nagging guilt about trespassing preventing me from entering. That didn’t work, I walked in anyway. Harry B. Hutchins Elementary School, where I spent an hour taking photographs in 2015, is fenced off now. The Packard plant, the world’s largest abandoned factory, has a small but aggressive security presence. I wandered around there undisturbed for hours during my previous visit. Fisher Body 21, an old General Motors factory, is a glaring eyesore at the intersection of the Edsel Ford and Chrysler freeways. While I was able to stroll into that one, the windows in the stairwells must be bricked-off. The stairways are now as unlit as a cave beneath the dark side of the moon. Only a fool, or someone wearing a miner’s hat with a supply of back-up batteries, would climb them now.

So for urban explorers such as myself, Detroit is no longer a free-range video, photography, and souvenir collection zone.

Two years ago no one with authority appeared to give a damn. I credit the attitude change to Detroit’s reform mayor, Democrat Mike Duggan–who lives in Palmer Woods by the way. Duggan was elected four months after the Motor City’s bankruptcy in 2013. Earlier this month Duggan, who is white, overwhelmingly defeated Coleman Young II, the son of Detroit’s first black mayor. The elder Young’s 20-year tenure can best be deemed as controversial. The former communist utilized race-based politics and dog whistle words–city (black) versus suburbs (white)–which kept him in office but drove businesses and of course jobs out of Detroit. He was the steward of the city’s descent. While the white population is growing for the first time since 1950, Detroit remains a super-majority African-American city. Yet Detroit voters rejected the younger Young’s own dog whistle call to “Take Back the Motherland.” Good for them.

While there still are vacant buildings downtown, two of the most obvious ones that I noticed during my first visit, the 38-story Book Tower and the former Wayne County Building, are being rehabbed. Both were seen in the premature Detroit-is-back Chrysler Super Bowl ad with Eminem from 2011. A mile up Woodward Avenue to the northwest is the gleaning new Little Caesars Arena, the new stadium for the Red Wings and the Pistons. Detroit’s NBA team has returned to the Motor City after a nearly three-decade absence. Across the street from the arena are the luxurious Woodward Square Apartments. With Ford Field, the home of the Lions, and Comerica Park, where the Tigers play, as well as some theaters and other new or rehabilitated apartments, the result is the new District Detroit, an entertainment and residential area that rivals any in the United States.

Alley in Delray

So there is a lot of good going on in Detroit.

As for the bad, let’s discuss those forsaken areas, and it goes beyond the crumbling and abandoned housing stock and the crime. Most pedestrians in “the other Detroit” walk on the streets, because the sidewalks are for the most part crumbing. Some are overgrown with weeds. Nearly all alleys are impassable. Even large trees can be found growing in some. Keep in mind that in 1950 not only was Detroit America’s fifth largest city but it enjoyed the highest standard of living of any city in the world. Municipal alley garbage pick-up ended decades ago and many garages of otherwise well kept-up homes are collapsing. Why maintain a garage when you can’t access it from your alley? And besides, there are plenty of vacant lots, with a bit of elbow grease, that can be converted into grassy parking lots. Rubbish can be found everywhere. Illegal dumping–much of it done by suburbanites–is a serious problem in Detroit. Side streets have many potholes and even more cracks. On the other hand, Duggan has made good on his promise to install more street lights.

Urban prairie in Brightmoor

And that post-apocalyptic neighborhood of Brightmoor? A few sections that were once packed with residents have devolved into the kind of emptiness that you expect to see from a country road, a phenomenon known as an urban prairie.

Critics from the left will lash out at me as I take measure of Detroit’s unpleasant underside and yell, “What about racism?” Yes, for decades Detroit’s blacks suffered from institutional racism. So did black Atlantans. The year after Detroit elected Coleman Young, Atlanta, whose blacks endured Jim Crow laws, followed suit and elected its first black mayor. Atlanta became the city that was “too busy to hate.” In 1996 Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, which is something pre-Young Detroit unsuccessfully bid on an unprecedented nine times.

Back to the good: Most Detroiters are generally friendly people, strangers say “hello” to each other. That’s a commendable behavior I’ve never seen in any big city.

Sidewalk in Petosky-Otsego

Back to the bad: Detroiters are the rudest and most reckless drivers I’ve encountered outside of New York City. And remember, Detroit’s streets are in terrible shape, so such road effrontery is especially hazardous.

Detroit is not “back.” but it is coming back. But some unfinished business remains that could send the onetime Arsenal of Democracy back in the wrong direction. While the deadly 1967 riot and the contraction of the Big Three auto makers, as well as fiscal malfeasance, corruption, and numbing levels of crime are largely responsible for Detroit’s demise, the municipal income tax, a commuter tax, and loads of burdensome regulations also played a role. Those taxes, largely idiosyncratic to Detroit among big cities, still remain, along with those regs. And Detroit’s property tax system, according to the Detroit News, is “fundamentally flawed” and was “particularly devastating in the cycle of decline and renewal Detroit has undergone.”

“New Detroit” has emerged from the starting block but the Motor City is wearing ankle weights.

My grade for the city is “incomplete.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

My opposition to the new tax bill is selfish. It’s gonna cost me money!

As a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I live in one of the bluest cities in one of the bluer states in the country. I pay city and state taxes—both of which will no longer be deductible under the proposals.

I understand the argument that the tax bill is intended to hold the line on exorbitant government budgets. But Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are not known for their penny-pinching, and the proposed tax bill is unlikely to change that.

Keep in mind, however, that Pennsylvania voted for Trump, and it’s unlikely that I am the only one who voted for the Republicans in 2016 and will lose money.

It’s a risky scenario given the fact that Pennsylvania hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate in decades. Moreover, the margin of victory was only 44,000 votes out of six million cast.

Congress should look at allowing a standardized amount that people should be able to deduct for state and local income taxes—say $5,000 across the board.

Sure, the increase of the exemption for a married couple from $12,700 to $24,000 will help but not enough to swing the tax bill is my favor.

There’s more. The cap on the real estate tax exemption at $10,000 will help me but not the many Republicans in the suburbs who pay much higher taxes than I do in the city.

And there’s more. The elimination of the deductions for charitable contributions will hit my wife and me. I doubt it will cause us to give less. But it does mean we will face higher taxes here, too. The elimination of the tax credit for adoptions makes no sense to me, particularly when it probably saved the lives of some potential victims of abortion.

It appears that my deductions for my home office will disappear. I’ve had outside income for more than 20 years and have reduced the tax exposure with my expenses at home. The tax bill means that I will be unable to deduct some of the costs I spend to do research in China, which I have done over the past three years.

I understand that the GOP needs a win, and I’d be willing to help finance a bit of that. At the moment, however, the cost is simply too steep, probably in the neighborhood of several thousand dollars. Since I don’t think I’m alone in my economic and political quandary, Congress and the president need to come up with some changes to make the tax bill more palatable. Otherwise, I am afraid the plan will lose more votes than gain them.

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