January 15, 2020

McConnell’s Kangaroo Court

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants a Senate “trial” of President Trump without the introduction of any documents or witnesses.

A court proceeding without documents and witnesses is simply a kangaroo court. Without documents and witnesses, the trial is a he-said-she-said affair. The prosecution and the defense can assert anything at all, and there will be no evidence to support or refute it.

Is this really happening in America?

January 11, 2020

Gilmore Girls

A few days ago, I received a Blu-ray disk of Bad Santa from Netflix. For some reason, I had put this movie in my queue some time ago, and I ended up with it because to disc at the top of my queue was not immediately available. Having forgotten why I wanted to see Bad Santa in the first place, I expected a movie that was rather stupid. It wasn’t that, but it was quite transgressive and generally in bad taste.

The bad Santa of the title is played by Billy Bob Thornton, and his love interest, such as she is, is played by Lauren Graham. If I never see another Billy Bob Thornton movie, it will be too soon, but I was smitten by Lauren Graham’s smile. I knew her from Gilmore Girls, of course, and always thought her an attractive and talented actress. (Are we still allowed to use the word “actress”?)

Anyway, watching Bad Santa reminded me how much I liked Gilmore Girls, the entire series of which I have seen at least twice. So, last night on Netflix, I watched the pilot of the series, largely to see Graham again and to remind myself how all the important relationships in the series were set up in the first hour. It is an impressive hour of television. Today, I watched the second episode of season 1.

Re-watching this series is a real joy. I don’t have to pay much attention to plot, as I am quite familiar with that aspect of the show. This allows me to concentrate on the fast-paced and clever dialogue. I found myself laughing a lot, probably more than I had on previous viewings. I’ll likely watch more episodes whenever I need to relax and recharge.

If you aren’t familiar with Gilmore Girls, I recommend your watching it streaming on Netflix. Loren Graham plays single-mom Lorelai Gilmore, and Alexis Bledel, who has gone on to appear in many roles, including in The Handmaid’s Tale, plays her teenage daughter Rori (also Lorelai Gilmore). You won’t be disappointed.

January 5, 2020

A Litany for the Democratic Presidential Candidate

In September 2012, I was thinking about the upcoming election in which President Obama was seeking a second term. As a way of assuaging feelings of guilt I might experience should I fail to write myriad essays on things political, I wrote a longish post I called “A Preëmptive Political Post.” It was something of a list of principles I hoped would guide the incoming administration.

In this political season, I have been listening to the many people vying for the Democratic Party nomination. The political game demands that candidates try to stand out from the crowd with policy proposals that often seem impractical or barely indistinguishable from those of other candidates. In fact, one suspects that, in less competitive circumstances, many candidates could agree about most important issues.

This year, rather than enunciating political principles, I thought I would list desirable outcomes or initiatives. I suspect that nearly all the Democratic candidates could, in conscience, subscribe to a majority of the items on the list, even if no two candidates would approve of the same exact group. I acknowledge that many of my own ideas cannot be implemented, at least in the near term.

My original thought was to call my list a litany, and I had hoped that the language I used would be, in some sense, not only practical but also poetic. The poetry was largely lost in rhetorical abundance, but I have retained the term “litany” anyway. What follows is a compendium of the hopes and dreams for my ideal Democratic candidate for president.

I will likely edit or extend this list as I think of things. I welcome suggestions for modifications, additions, or deletions. Read the list carefully, however, for implications that may not be immediately obvious.


A Litany for the Democratic Presidential Candidate


We shall protect the birds of the air, the creatures that roam the land, and the fish of the seas, including sharks and the great whales.
The waters shall be clean, and the air shall be fresh and healthy to breathe.
We shall join with the nations of the world to reduce climate-altering gases in our air, and shall help our people adjust to changes resulting both from our collective action and inaction.
Likewise, shall we join with others to remove plastics from our oceans and waterways and prevent new plastics from entering the planet’s waters.
Our national parks and national museums shall receive adequate funding to protect our natural, artistic, and historic legacy, making them available to all people.
Public lands shall remain public for the benefit of all, and any fees due for their use shall be collected without fail.
Although we cannot compensate native Americans adequately for what we have taken from them, we shall endeavor to uphold treaties conscientiously and to improve life on Indian lands.
We shall undertake the development of energy-efficient public conveyances to facilitate both modest and long-distance travel.
We shall repair public works whose maintenance we have deferred: highways, bridges, tunnels, dams, and other systems essential to modern life.
We shall undertake the repair or construction of public works only if adequately funded endowment is established for their perpetual maintenance.
More shall be required of the rich and less of the poor, as we seek to reduce the disparity of wealth between them.
All personal income deemed taxable, irrespective of its source, shall be taxed at the same rate.
Inheritance taxes on large estates shall be substantially increased.
The size of salaries and severance payments of high-ranking executives shall be limited by law.
Military spending shall be carefully reviewed with the intent to implement severe cuts.
The state shall regulate commerce for the general good, and individual enterprises shall not be allowed to interfere with regulation.
Antitrust legislation shall be strengthened and enforced aggressively.
Corporate crime, when adjudicated, shall result in punishment of the offending enterprise and its responsible managers.
Corporations shall not be allowed to make profits in America and avoid or reduce taxes by recording those profits overseas.
Senators and representatives shall be prevented from sitting on the boards of corporations and from trading securities of any kind except through a blind trust.
Subsidies for particular industries shall be eliminated unless they are needed for the purpose of national defense.
Senators and representatives shall be required to disclose, on a quarterly basis, all gifts or contributions from lobbyists or those entities represented by lobbyists whose value exceeds $100.
Senators and representatives shall be required to disclose any text from lobbyists or those entities represented by lobbyists that have been incorporated into legislation either directly or with minimal modification.
The president shall not be allowed to declare a national emergency without prior approval from the congress.
Government programs such as crop and flood insurance shall be made self-supporting or nearly so.
Interest rates and fees charged for consumer lending shall be limited.
Union creation and maintenance shall be encouraged, and anti-union activities by enterprises shall be curtailed and punished.
States and municipalities shall be discouraged from using tax incentives to attract corporations, sports teams, or other institutions to locate in their area.
The federal minimum wage shall be increased to be a living wage, indexed to inflation, and adjusted by region.
Private prisons and detention centers shall be outlawed.
We shall eliminate hunger and homelessness in our land, being generous with food assistance and committed to providing sufficient shelter for everyone
Public education shall rear competent, ethical adults appreciative of the arts, aware of our history, and imbued with civic virtue, irrespective of their natural talents or handicaps.
Public colleges and universities, as well as public radio and television stations, shall receive increased funding.
The government will encourage the institution of public school kindergarten and pre-K programs in localities where they do not now exist.
We shall respect the dignity and liberties of all human beings; corporations shall enjoy similar but limited rights appropriate to non-human entities.
Specifically, civil rights shall not be denied because of sex, sexual preference, or sexual presentation.
Anti-discrimination laws shall be aggressively enforced.
The prohibition against engaging in political activity by tax-exempt organizations such as churches shall be strictly enforced; tax-exempt status shall be revoked for repeated or egregious offenses.
Adequate health care shall be available to all, and no person shall be forced into bankruptcy because of medical expenses.
Health care shall not be dependent upon employment.
No law shall be allowed to interfere in medical decisions made between a patient and a duly qualified physician.
Drugs, whether purchased by the government or by individuals, shall not be sold for a price above the average price charged in other parts of the world.
The government shall set maximum prices for life-saving drugs sufficient to make their development profitable.
The category of Schedule 1 drugs shall be eliminated, and the government shall fund adequate drug cessation programs.
Persons imprisoned for crimes involving small amounts of illegal drugs shall be released from prison.
Psychological maladies shall be treated the same as “physical” maladies, and the government shall develop adequate programs to treat them.
Basic science and medical research, as well as a space program, shall be funded on a long-term basis to encourage sustained investigation.
Profits accruing from research supported by the government shall be shared with the government.
All citizens shall be deemed voters and expected to exercise the franchise.
All federal elections shall be at least partially publicly financed.
We shall encourage the use of ranked preference voting in all elections, including party primaries.
Gerrymandering of districts shall be discouraged through articulating appropriate characteristics for drawing districts and by encouraging the drawing of districts by nonpartisan bodies.
Laws shall be passed requiring presidential candidates to make public ten years of federal and state personal and relevant corporate tax returns; comprehensive health information shall also be required to be released.
Members of Congress shall not be allowed to vote on a bill unless they certify that they or an employee under their direct supervision have read every word of the bill.
Legislation shall clarify that no person, including the president of the United States, is immune to indictment, trial, and sentencing.
By being afforded competent advocates, the poor shall enjoy the same justice before the law as the well-to-do.
The death penalty shall be abolished throughout these United States and its military; persons who shall have been convicted of capital offenses shall have their punishment changed to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
No prisoners shall be held in any jail under the jurisdiction of this nation, wherever located, without being afforded adequate counsel and a speedy trial.
Cash bail shall be eliminated except in cases of infamous crimes or the likelihood that the accused will flee to avoid trial.
The United States Postal Service shall be maintained even if it incurs financial losses.
The integrity of person shall be guaranteed in all jails and prisons; physical, emotional, and educational programs shall be available to all prisoners.
Men and women of virtue and skill shall guide the departments of the state and labor for the good of all.
The president and secretary of state shall be required to hold public press conferences at least once a quarter.
Weapons of war shall not be owned except by the military; such devices in private hands shall be subject to a compulsory buy-back program.
In theaters of war or in areas of significant danger, the American military shall be discouraged from hiring consultants to perform duties that can be performed by military personnel.
We shall reduce our inventory of nuclear weapons and urge others to do the same or to not build any such weapons in the first place.
The word of our nation shall be our bond, and we will seek to restore the trust of the world in our wisdom and our faithfulness.
We shall seek peace among nations, strengthening those assemblies that foster concord and regular commerce.
We shall facilitate free trade in goods and services among nations, even where “free” trade seems less than perfectly “fair.”
We shall demand that all nations respect the freedom of the seas.
We shall support democracies throughout the world and shall encourage the replacement of autocracies and theocracies with democracy wherever they are to be found.
We shall restore full diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba and encourage cultural and commercial ties with this nearby nation.
We shall promote human rights at home and throughout the world wherever they are not upheld or are endangered.
We shall welcome peoples fleeing war, natural disasters, and civil or domestic discord, and we shall help to integrate them into our national life.
Immigration to our shores shall be available to people of all nations, subject only to an overall annual allocation and a prohibition against serious criminals; the decision to admit an immigrant shall be made with reasonable alacrity.
Persons bought to the United States illegally as children and who have committed no serious legal infractions shall be allowed to become citizens subject to the usual requirements for naturalization.
Persons who entered the United States illegally as adults, who have committed no serious legal infractions, and have been in the country for at least five years shall be allowed to become citizens upon paying a civil penalty and subject to the usual requirements for naturalization.
No one shall be deported from this country soley on the basis of having entered it illegally.
American sales of military equipment shall be guided by military needs, rather than by commercial interests.
We shall continue to maintain American troops where they constitute a bulwark against probable aggression, but we shall remove troops from places where no credible threat exists or where no prospect of lasting peace is foreseeable.
Israelis and Palestinians shall be given the choice of creating two separate states or a single, democratic, secular state; continued American aid shall be contingent on their making a choice and implementing it in short order.
Restrictions on the funding of family planning services by foreign aid shall be removed.

December 30, 2019

Isn’t She Still Dead?

Terry Gross’s Fresh Air has been broadcasting reruns of notable interviews during the holidays. At the end of today’s program, Gross announced a forthcoming interview “with the late Joan Rivers.”

Really? I doubt the late Joan Rivers is giving many interviews these days, having died in 2014.

Gross’s intent was to inform listeners of the upcoming interview and to indicate, for anyone who may not know or remember, that Joan Rivers is no longer with us. It turns out to be difficult to concisely communicate these two ideas clearly and precisely.

Some would be inclined to speak of an interview “with Joan Rivers before she died.” But surely—assuming you know something about Rivers—the interview was not done after she died.

I think the only simple way of saying what needed to be said without insulting anyone’s intelligence would require a bit more information and would be something like “an interview with Joan Rivers conducted two years [or whatever time period is appropriate] before her death.

How about it, Terry?

December 17, 2019

Thoughts on the Coming Impeachment

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will almost certainly approve two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump. Now is a good time to update my thoughts about this development. (See my earlier essays “Don’t Impeach Trump,” 7/25/2019; “Slow Order for the Impeachment Train,” 9/27/2019; and “Further Thoughts on Impeachment,” 10/9/2019.)

It is highly unlikely that the Senate will convict the president. Indeed, the Senate appears as though it will be a kangaroo court. (We tend to think of a kangaroo court as a court that unfairly convicts, but the term applies to any purported judicial body that deliberately perverts justice. No one seems to know where the term came from.)

The jurors in any fair court are expected to be impartial, but the Senate Republican majority is clearly not that. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared that he will act as chief defense attorney for the accused. He also pretty much gets to make the rules of the court, a power any defense attorney would covet.

Nearly all GOP senators have supported President Trump through thick and thin and without reservation. We can hardly expect much impartiality from that crew. Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, has made it quite clear that his mind is made up, and he will not vote for conviction however the trial goes. It is unclear whether Chief Justice John Roberts, whom the Constitution specifies should preside over the trial, will have any real ability (or inclination, for that matter) to promote justice.

It is to be hoped that whatever happens in the Senate causes public opinion to move away from support of the president. But Trump’s approval rating during his entire presidency has been around 40% and has varied little around that figure. I have been tracking his approval on FiveThirtyEight and am distressed that the figure has recently been increasing. As I write this, his approval rating stands at 42.5%. (FiveThirtyEight aggregates poll results weighted for poll quality, recency, sample size, and so forth, updating results frequently.)

I fear that Democrats have miscalculated. They have sought impeachment on narrow grounds rather than charging Trump with a multitude of constitutional infractions, beginning with violation of the Emoluments Clause. Although Democrats see the president’s attempt to enlist the help of Ukraine in his re-election campaign as a smoking gun, the act appears less clear to low-information voters who are the core of Trump’s supporters and who are likely not paying close attention. Such citizens may not understand a quality allegation when they see one but might be more moved by the quantity of charges.

House Democrats chose not to pursue testimony from clearly relevant witnesses such as National Security Adviser John Bolton, witnesses Trump would surely have encouraged to testify before House committees had he thought their evidence would be exculpatory. Did Democratic leaders really think that Mitch McConnell would force these folks to testify at a Senate trial?

I can only assume Democrats believe that the charges against Trump plus a conspicuously unfair Senate trial will move public opinion. I hope they are right. I doubt that they are.

Today’s letter from President Trump to speaker Pelosi should convince any rational, educated person that (1) Trump knows nothing about the Constitution, and (2) the president is losing all semblance of composure. (Of course, Trump probably didn’t write the letter, though he surely influenced its tone. The letter contains too many long words to have been crafted by Trump all by himself.)

Doubtless, the Trump letter will mean nothing to his cultist supporters. Historians will make much of it.

Freedom Around the World

If you have never done so, you should take a look at the Freedom House Web site. It rates countries (and some territories) on how free they are. Rankings run from 0 (not at all free) to 100 (completely free). One can quibble about Freedom House’s methodology, including the meaning of the ends of its scale, but rankings seem intuitively realistic.

The Freedom House site contains a page that lets the visitor explore freedom ratings via an interactive map. More information is available in a country-by-country list. Current information is for 2019, and, presumably, it will be updated to keep the information timely.

Some observations: Only Syria achieves a rating of 0, an evaluation I can understand having just watched the documentation For Sama. Other notable low ratings include South Sudan (2), North Korea (3), and Saudi Arabia (7). China rates only slightly higher (11). Canada achieves a 99, but the United States only gets an 86. (That sounds about right, though the U.S. perhaps deserves an even lower rating as we complete the third year of the Trump administration.) The only countries to achieve perfect 100 scores are Norway, Sweden, and Finland. (Denmark only rates a 97.) The United Kingdom rates a 93. (Will this decrease under Prime Minister Bris Johnson.) The Republic of Ireland, on the other hand, shows up at 97.

Sadly, Freedom House’s 2019 report is titled “Democracy in Retreat.”

December 12, 2019

Why General Convention Resolution A063 is Problematic

At the recent annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, I noticed that, although proposed amendments to the Episcopal Church constitution were distributed to deputies, no time was allotted by the agenda to discuss them. Their distribution to the convention arose as a result of Article XII of the Episcopal Church constitution, which reads in part:
No alteration or amendment of this Constitution shall be made unless the same shall be first proposed at one regular meeting of the General Convention and be sent to the Secretary of the Convention of every Diocese, to be made known to the Diocesan Convention at its next meeting, and be adopted by the General Convention at its next succeeding regular meeting by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by an affirmative vote by orders in the House of Deputies in accordance with Article I, Section 5, except that concurrence by the orders shall require the affirmative vote in each order by a majority of the Dioceses entitled to representation in the House of Deputies.
(Sorry for this outrageously long citation; I did not want to quote only part of a sentence.)

The constitution is silent on why proposed amendments are to be sent to dioceses, but, presumably, this is to inform the wider church of significant impending actions by the General Convention and to provide an opportunity for individual dioceses to offer opinions concerning the same. There is no special mechanism to take notice of such opinions, but local conventions may try, through resolutions, to influence their own General Convention deputies or General Convention deputies broadly. Without discussion, of course, diocesan conventions can neither elicit concerns nor articulate them.

As I was a deputy from my parish to the 154th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh this year, I was able to raise my concern about the lack of opportunity to discuss the proposed constitutional amendments. I did so because of concerns for one particular proposal. Although I was ready to discuss the matter, it was apparent that, through no fault of their own, no one else was. Moreover, since the next meeting of the General Convention occurs in 2021, discussion at our 155th convention could still be timely. Realizing this, I was able to extract a commitment from Bishop Dorsey McConnell that the agenda for our next convention would indeed include consideration of the resolutions sent to the diocese from the General Convention.

My concern was for Resolution A063, which would amend Article X: The Book of Common Prayer. Changes to our fundamental liturgical resource are handled in a manner similar to constitutional amendments, in that they must be passed by successive General Conventions and be sent to dioceses after being first proposed. In practice, revising the BCP is considerably more complicated and time-consuming. (The most recent Book of Common Prayer (BCP) was approved 51 years after the previous version.)

Article X allows some liturgically-related innovations to be approved by a single General Convention and without special notice to the dioceses:
But notwithstanding anything herein above contained, the General Convention may at any one meeting, by a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by a majority of the Clerical and Lay Deputies of all the Dioceses entitled to representation in the House of Deputies, voting by orders as previously set forth in this Article:
  1. Amend the Table of Lessons and all Tables and Rubrics relating to the Psalms.
  2. Authorize for trial use throughout this Church, as an alternative at any time or times to the established Book of Common Prayer or to any section or Office thereof, a proposed revision of the whole Book or of any portion thereof, duly undertaken by the General Convention.
Resolution A063 proposes to add an item c to this list:
  1. Authorize for use throughout this Church, as provided by Canon, alternative and additional liturgies to supplement those provided in the Book of Common Prayer.
Ostensibly, Resolution A063 is about the legitimacy of collections such as Lesser Feasts and Fasts and The Book of Occasional Services. General Convention has been creating such material without unambiguous authority to do so. Presumably, such material is of lesser authority (or of no authority at all) with respect to establishing church doctrine, though this is perhaps unclear as well. (The official rationale for Resolution A063 can be read here. This explanation was not distributed to Pittsburgh convention deputies.)

My problem with Resolution A063 involves the inclusion of the words “alternative and.” The phrase “additional liturgies” adequately provides legitimacy for the likes of The Book of Occasional Services, which contain liturgies lacking a counterpart in the BCP. The looser requirements for establishing such liturgies arguably signifies their subordinate status relative to the prayer book. One may quibble about whether allowing the looser approval process is a good idea, but Resolution A063 at least makes what the General Convention has been doing completely above board.

The business of “alternative” liturgies is different. Alternatives to what are already “additional liturgies” are, of course, simply additional liturgies. But “alternative liturgies” can mean—and the phrase is certainly intended to include—alternatives to liturgies already included in the BCP. This presents a problem. If the amended Article X is used to authorize an alternative to a liturgy already in the BCP, one has to ask why it is not being proposed for trial use as potential replacement text in a revised prayer book, an option afforded by the existing item b in Article X. (See text above.) The reason a provision for alternative liturgies is being added is almost certainly to allow approval of liturgies having a counterpart in the prayer book for which there is insufficient support for its superseding existing prayer book text. In other words, the matter of alternative liturgies is a backdoor scheme to avoid the laborious prayer book revision mechanism. Moreover, whereas item b of Article X implicitly suggests an end process for a proposed liturgy—it is decided to replace prayer book text or not—the proffered item c implies no such sunset provision.

The proposed addition to Article X raises the prospect of supplanting the prayer book with more easily established (and revised) liturgies. As the Church of England has done with its prayer book of 1662, the Episcopal Church could freeze its 1979 book and widely ignore it in favor of newer liturgies approved without the cumbersome mechanisms attendant to actual prayer book revision. Individual parishes could pick and choose which liturgy to use. The ultimate result could be the effective destruction of common prayer as a unifying aspect of Episcopal Church worship.

It would be easy for an Episcopalian to assume that liturgical collections such as The Book of Occasional Services are a kind of appendix to The Book of Common Prayer, but this is not currently the case. (We could adopt such a view, of course, but our “appendices” would presumably need to be subjected to the same rigorous procedures used in prayer book revision. This does not seem to be direction in which the church wants to go.) As long as additional liturgies are primarily intended for occasional use in special circumstances, they pose no serious threat to the church’s commitment to common prayer. Adoption of resolution A063 with its changes to Article X that would allow alternatives to existing prayer book liturgies, however, do indeed challenge our tradition of common prayer.

Finally, I need to mention one other issue. Suppose the General Convention wants to propose a liturgy intended to be part of a revised prayer book but which is not designed to replace an existing liturgy prayer book liturgy. For example, a gender-neutral marriage ceremony could be proposed as an addition to the prayer book without eliminating the existing Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage (p. 423). Curiously, at least as I read item b of Article X, such a liturgy could not be proposed for trial use. This problem could be resolved by modifying item b, For example, after “or of any portion thereof,” could be added “or any proposed addition.” This would result in item b reading
  1. Authorize for trial use throughout this Church, as an alternative at any time or times to the established Book of Common Prayer or to any section or Office thereof, a proposed revision of the whole Book or of any portion thereof or any proposed addition, duly undertaken by the General Convention.
General Convention should perhaps make this amendment and drop consideration of Resolution A063.

November 23, 2019

Job Protection

NPR ran a story this morning about both liberal and conservative groups urging President Trump to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Apparently, the president had agreed to do this but is now vacillating because such a ban could result in lost jobs.

I am tired of hearing arguments that one policy or another cannot be implemented because jobs will be affected. There are few policy decisions of any consequence that will not result in reduced employment in some field. If we embark on a crackdown on murder-for-hire, for example, there will surely be assassins who will lose their current livelihood. This is too bad. The good entailed by this endeavor would surely outweigh the inconvenience—even pain—of a small number of people who earn their living as hit men.

Surely, the number of people likely to become unemployed because of a ban on e-cigarettes is vanishingly small, perhaps even zero. A ban on all e-cigarettes has not been proposed, and it is likely that affected manufacturers and their suppliers, in response to the proposed ban, would, at least to some degree, reassign workers within their respective companies. If some people lose their jobs, so be it; the job market is strong, and workers in many occupations are in short supply. The effect on unemployment will be unnoticeable.

Of course, the jobs argument for an e-cigarette ban is a trivial instance of the argument. Conservatives regularly argue against measures to protect the environment or pursue other regulatory measures because the rules are “job killers.” Well, sometimes they are, and sometimes they increase the cost of doing business. People may need to seek employment in a different field. Few policies are equally favorable to every person in the country. In every case, advantages and disadvantages of a policy must be weighed against one another. That some people will lose jobs is not an argument that should automatically trump every other consideration.

Happily, the assassin lobby is weak, but it takes little publicity to frighten this president out of a policy because of potential job losses. In fact, reduced employment in one sector of the economy and increased employment in another is commonplace and, often, necessary. (Livery stables have given way to car rental counters, for example.)  President Trump is counting on a robust economy to power his re-election, and his personal ability to evaluate tradeoffs in any rational way is, to put it gently, limited. We have a president incapable of seeing consequences beyond the most immediate ones. He is, in any case, reluctant to rock the economic boat if the economy seems to be performing well, at least from his point of view.

Like all other policy considerations in this administration, the effect on Donald J. Trump is what is given most weight in the decision-making process. The distribution of labor across occupations is not and cannot be immutable.