Friday, December 28, 2012


(Warning: this is where I talk like a Republican. All bleeding hearts should prepare to apply a tourniquet.)

If you go around the horn on any liberal talk show, at least one of the participants will point out, as the greatest problem in our Republic, "income inequality." Really?  That's your issue?

Let's be clear. If we are talking about the difference in income between a man and a woman working for the same employer and doing the same job, you've got my attention. If you are talking about a Filipino and a white guy doing the same job for the same employer, then a substantial inequality between them gets my human rights juices flowing.

On the other hand, if "income inequality," simply means that some folks in some families in our great land make different amounts of money from one another and enjoy different property holdings, you're now officially boring me. Folks, our citizens have different amounts of education, different amounts of ambition, different amounts of energy, different amounts of imagination, different amounts of courage differences in hand/eye coordination, differences in spatial skills and even differences in geographic advantages (how many oceanographers you know from North Dakota?).

When "income inequality" is trotted out as a negative thing, the assumption is that the ideal situation would be for all of us to make about the same amount of money or to own about the same amount of property. That theory has been tried and it seems to have a couple of small hiccups in it

If the talent of one American enables him to invent Flubber and his grade school classmate's talents direct him to trimming other people's hedges for pay, the Flubber guy is going to make more money simply because he adds more to the societal pot. What on earth is wrong with that?

The inequality in our country that is heartbreaking is not income inequality. It is educational inequality. It is neighborhood safety inequality. Is the inequality that allows one kid to have two loving nurturing, interested parents and the next kid a runaway, absentee father and addict mother. In short, it is "opportunity inequality." When that kid with the poor opportunity does not succeed, we all lose. That is not a matter of income inequality. That is a matter of societal loss.

Funny thing is that, when the extreme lefties scream about the evils of "income inequality," the conservatives pretty much cower or shut up. On this one the righties have a perfectly valid argument. Income inequality has happened because of the shortage of opportunity for some and not because of some governmental policy to make the rich richer. 

There is nothing wrong with income inequality as long as the difference in income simply reflects free will choices made by the people on the bottom of the income comparison. 

There cannot be a meaningful discussion of income inequality without there being a parallel discussion of equality of energy, intellect, creativity and simple gumption.  

I wish the folks on the left would quit rattling this term off. On the other hand, I wish my conservative friends would stand up for meaningful capitalism at is as it is practiced in the United States.  Income inequality is only bad to the extent that it is tied to systemic opportunity inequality. 

Friday, December 21, 2012


The athletes in the National Football League are so exquisitely skilled these days that the only way to identify the truly preeminent defensive players is to watch film of every defense of play, every week. I have some friends who are close to doing this. Most of us avoid this arduous study by relying on NFL color man and sports talk show hosts to tell us who the best players are.

Just so you don't get fooled, of The Basin will now provide two absolute foolproof rules of defensive skill analysis in the NFL.  While they are foolproof, they are also pretty useless.

Rule one: at any given time, the best defensive player in the NFL probably has a name with which you are unfamiliar.

Rule two, and a corollary to rule one,: the very minute at which you identify someone as the preeminent defensive player in the NFL, that person has been overtaken for that distinction by someone you cannot yet identify.

Think about it. The minute Mr. Ware from Dallas was viewed as preeminent, Mr. Reavis from New York popped up. He was quickly followed by Mr. Matthews and Mr. Matthews is almost certainly currently eclipsed by Mr. Von Miller from Denver. Now that I've identified Mr. Miller, it is a virtual certainty that some as yet unidentified player has already passed him. And so it goes.

This is really more about the dissemination of information than it is about the NFL. Even the most hard-core of fans is at least one player behind at all times.   (If you watch really closely, you are far more likely to indentify this defensive star than an NFL color announcer.)

But the bright side is that is like there is always at least one unopened Christmas present under the tree, just for us.