Welcome to my weekly digest for May 20, 2022.
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Red State Blues
My debut article in the new Compact magazine is now online. It’s a summary of some of my take on red state economies, and how we need to go beyond simplistic formulas for growth.
In 2012, under Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas passed a big tax cut, reducing the top rate to 4.9 percent, down from 6.45 percent, and eliminating taxes completely on “pass-through” businesses (where the income from the business is treated as personal income to the owners, rather than as a separate corporate entity). Not only did this not spark economic growth, Kansas underperformed the nation and its own previous track record. What the Brownback tax cut did do was cause a fiscal crisis. Large budget shortfalls necessitated cuts in services and triggered a reduction in the state’s bond rating. Eventually, in 2017, the state legislature reversed most of the cuts. The “Kansas experiment” was a failure.
The unpleasant reality is that an entire 23-state region I call “the Old North (the Northeast, Midwest, and Great Plains), has underperformed, with population and economies showing relative (or even absolute) decline versus the nation as a whole. Only North Dakota, with its likely temporary oil boom, has been an exception. Population growth seems to be closely linked to factors like warm January temperatures that cold-weather states can’t do anything about.
Click through to read the whole thing.
More Content and Media Mentions
New this week:
Unfair Criticism Can Still Be Right - I look at a recent Atlantic piece about wacky political churches and note that despite that author’s biases, he has some valid points.
Best of the Web
There were a number of really interesting articles this week.
Somebody sent me an essay from a new Substack by someone called “Kennaquhair” that examines the lack of a heroic feminine archetype in our modern culture and what that might look like.
American Affairs has a fantastic review of a new book about the thought of the radical Catholic critic of modernity Ivan Illich. The review is a good introduction to his thought. Illich has influenced me in a number of ways even if the practical application of his radical critiques are not always obvious.
WSJ: Does Your Mayo Need a Mission Statement? - A great look at what happened when Unilever went all in on ESG and demanded that all of its brands have a social purpose. It hasn’t worked out all that well financially. Interestingly, their one brand were a social agenda is actually congruent with the brand is the only one Unilever’s CEO doesn’t like: Ben & Jerry’s.
WaPo: The reinvention of a ‘real man’ - More advocacy for the deconstruction of masculinity.
Christianity Today: Willow Creek Church has a major layoff - attendance is down by half from pre-Covid.
Mere Orthodoxy: Why our churches should be beautiful