If anyone is looking for a case study in presidential courage when it comes to refugees, the humble accidental presidency of Gerald R. Ford offers some timely lessons, as noble as it was politically risky. It was the spring of 1975, nearly a year after Nixon’s resignation catapulted Ford into the White House, and the Fall of Saigon on April 30 created a humanitarian crisis for thousands of South Vietnamese men, women, and children who had supported the alliance with the United States for decades.

President Ford proposed an emergency refugee policy to admit 130,000 Vietnamese and Cambodians, and was…


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The Senate approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Saturday, March 6th. It will always be marred by the strict partisan vote for passage, with not a single vote from any Republican Senator. Yet setting the partisanship aside, a closer look at the expenditure formulas reveal some big money unfairness that treats some states very unfairly. The people of Florida lose out big time.

The legislation now goes back to the House of Representatives, where a slim Democratic majority will presumably rubber-stamp it on a party-line vote. Apparently, the only risk of non-passage under Speaker Pelosi is that the fringe-left…


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The 2020 college football playoff (CFP) will feature four teams, following a selection structure that was put in place starting in 2014. For decades, the NCAA resisted a football tournament, unlike every other major sport in the U.S. College basketball ends its season with a playoff bracket, pro football has its Super Bowl to culminate playoffs in its two conferences, same as the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. However, the CFP tournament is extremely narrow — just four teams, which is fewer slots than the sport has conferences.

The effect of the CFP structure has been to create…


A month before I was born — April 1968 — presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy spoke at the University of Kansas. His remarks touched on student protests and the war in Vietnam, though a lengthy passage about gross national product has resonated most powerfully in the years since. Kennedy was assassinated a few months later, which was just one of the pivotal moments that marked 1968 forever as tragically unforgettable and also a turning point in the nation’s history. Here is what Kennedy, known of course by his initials RFK, said:

Too much and for too long, we seemed to…


“George Washington realized that merely evading smallpox would no longer suffice; he wanted to prevent it altogether. Inoculation was already available, although the procedure — called variolation — was not without risks.” — Ross Pomeroy

(a William B. T. Trego painting)

The dilemma facing Brett Crozier, Captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who e-mailed an open letter about a COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship, and the dilemma facing the U.S. Navy Secretary who fired him, will haunt Pentagon leaders long after the virus has faded. With the Roosevelt out of commission in Guam and one of her sailors dead, the virus will not fade for weeks…


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Caregivers stopped coming to work on Tuesday, April 7, at the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside. “Only one of 13 certified nursing assistants showed up to work,” according to FOX News. As a result, the 84 residents are being evacuated to different facilities. This was partly driven by the Covid-19 outbreak at Magnolia, where one third of the residents have tested positive as well as five staffers. But there’s a bigger reason for the workers to strike, and that’s because the federal government is paying them to quit.

If you think I’m joking or exaggerating for shock effect…


The government of California has ordered all 40 million of its citizens to stay home. Schools are closed. Universities are closed. Most business are closed, and many will never open again. Will this extreme response stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus?

Consider Santa Clara Country, with total cases shown in the graphic below (credit to Dylan Grosz at The Stanford Daily for tracking this daily). It may be too early to say conclusively that extreme social distancing has failed, but the fact that public schools were ordered shut down on Friday, March 13, well, the cases have quadrupled since…


We are overreacting to Covid. We are also under-reacting to Covid.

I’ve done my part on a couple of CNBC appearances to calm the anxieties surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus, also known as Covid-19. I have felt some frustration that the coming epidemic is leading to panic behavior in the public, and in stock markets. But it’s important to balance our response individually and socially.

Studying Covid’s spread, which has hit South Korea, Iran, and Italy especially hard after spreading rapidly out of Wuhan, China, I am more and more convinced that the epidemic cannot be contained. Covid-19 seems highly likely…


The past century must take lessons from history with caution because things are different now. A millennium of lessons from the wars and diplomacies of nation-states may, or may not, be relevant in this era when the nation-state is evolving, when technologies have erupted to transform communication and transport, when human capital is orders of magnitude higher. The masses are literate now, for starters. In my mind, these are the tectonic forces, and they are a helpful light on policy debates.

Immigration policy is being shaken by tectonic forces. In this new world, awareness of opportunities elsewhere is much more…


Nayeri’s first work of non-fiction is as stunning and original as its title. Born into a wealthy family in Iran, she sought freedom in the West and confesses intensely lyrical resentments about her status as a refugee, first in a converted countryside hotel in Italy and ultimately to a frustrating childhood in Oklahoma. The opening chapter will hit you like a hammer, forcing you to rethink your outlook on the global waves of migration that grow larger every year. You’ll rethink, no matter what your current view is.

Make no mistake, every third or fourth paragraph, Nayeri wrote a line…

Tim Kane

Economist, entrepreneur, US Air Force veteran, and co-author of BALANCE: The Economics of Great Powers

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