Monday, February 11, 2013

Eric Cantor Empiricism

Ok, maybe it's too easy to mock a political speech.  Nevertheless, let's dive into Eric Cantor's preview of what he will do after ousting Boehner  major policy address.

He did, in fact, back up his statements with many facts and figures:

In America, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, two bicycle shop mechanics gave mankind the gift of flight. The Wright brothers flew only 22 feet, 18 feet in the air, but they performed a miracle. As a result, only 66 years later, this great country of ours put a man on the moon and brought him back. We can do an enormous amount. That’s who we are.

The Wright brothers’ father, Milton, first inspired his sons with a toy helicopter. But he never wanted Orville and Wilbur to fly together, for fear he would lose them both. In 1910, seven years after the boys’ first flight, Milton gave them permission to fly together, the only time they ever did, and it lasted six minutes. Later that day, Orville took 82-year-old Milton on the only flight of his life. It lasted seven minutes, rising 350 feet, while his elderly father shouted: “Higher, Orville, higher.”

What a great commentary. In America, we do have higher expectations for our nation.

Yes, this is the most quantitatively-precise passage in the speech.   And perhaps appropriately, it's also a full-throated endorsement of an American future that resembles the Icarus myth.


In America, the son of a shoe salesman can grow up to be president. In America, the daughter of a poor single mother can grow up to own her own television network. In America, the grandson of poor immigrants who fled religious persecution in Russia can become the majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Ronald Reagan!
Oprah Winfrey!
Eric Cantor!!!

That's why we worry so much. Where can you find an affordable home in a good neighborhood to raise your kids? Which health care plan can I afford that allows you to see your doctors? Will the children make it through high school and get into a college of their choice, and if so, can you afford it? What about a career? Will that be available to them? These are real life concerns.
"What's eating you?  You look worried."

"Can't figure out what guild I should join.  Can't even figure out what class my character should be.  Hell, I don't even know what the best NAME for my avatar is.  If only Congress would do something about it."


"What?  These are important fake-life concerns."

Each year our colleges and universities graduate approximately 40,000 foreign nationals with Masters and PhDs, many of whom are then forced to leave the country because there are not enough visa slots in our immigration system to permit them to stay. So rather than being able to invent things here in America, grow businesses or start one on their own, they do all of those things somewhere else. 

Yeah yeah I'm all for this too - but recognize that not all these PhDs are going to be out there inventing stuff and creating jobs.  The only PhDs that are in demand right now are those with good computer science / coding skills.  What percent of those 40,000 have those?

What tax form are you supposed to fill out, is it more beneficial to file jointly as a married couple or separately? Is a truck or gas mileage deductible or are you forgetting something that the IRS gives you credit for?

In 1935, the Form 1040 was accompanied by a two-page instruction booklet. Today, taxpayers must wade through over 100 total pages of instructions. 

"You know what the problem with taxes is?"

"Well, how much we have to pay, of course!"

"No, the REAL problem is how damn long it takes to read these instructions."

"...aren't you a Republican?"

Loopholes and gimmicks benefitting those who've come to know how to work the system in Washington, are no more defensible than the path of wasteful and irresponsible spending we've been on for decades.

This will be a fun quote to remember the next time you hear a Republican say "Obama got his taxes.  Now it's our turn to get spending cuts."

Leading up to April 15th, families will be besieged by concerns over their taxes. But it’s health care and a concern for a healthy family that always worry parents most.

ERIC CANTOR:  Oh this is hopeless!
CANTOR:   How am I supposed to transition from talking about taxes to talking about health care?  It's impossible!
FLUNKY:   Have you considered using the word "But"?
CANTOR:  Brilliant!!!

There is an appropriate and necessary role for the federal government to ensure funding for basic medical research. Doing all we can to facilitate medical breakthroughs for people like Katie should be a priority. We can and must do better. 

Wait what?  Maybe Republicans want to raise the NIH budget?!

Funds currently spent by the government on social science – including on politics of all things – would be better spent helping find cures to diseases.


1) Sucks to be a social scientist!
2) They get like 250 million total a year.  NIH gets 30 billion for biomedical research.

"Higher" – Milton Wright once shouted from the air. “Higher.” Making life work for more working people, and all who want to work, is the best way to a future of higher growth and more opportunity.

I'm tired of hearing about growth and opportunity like they're always going to get bigger and better.  The American trajectory isn't linear, nor is it exponential.  Hell, I'd settle for nice sigmoidal with a lovely happy plateau at this point.  Anything to get off whatever crazy sinusoidal path we're on now.

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