American Politics DC Seminar Day 2: Snow, Society, and Subsidies

Abe here,

I have an early, very, very, very… cold morning tomorrow, so let’s get this done real quickerino while I jam out to some nice early 2000’s music. Early 2000’s music is a secret blessing – list your favorites in the comments (Mr. Brightside, while being a meme apparently, is still an acceptable answer – I love the Killers and, despite being the resident meme expert, didn’t actually know that Mr. Brightside was considered a meme in certain echelons until relatively recently).

It snowed today. People didn’t die. Maybe because we aren’t in Atlanta. Classes also weren’t canceled, which really means the snow was good for two things: making people miserable, and slightly better photo opportunities (seeing that my existence is generally described as “dead inside,” it really only did one thing for me).

After trekking through the frozen wasteland of DC in the comfort of an Uber, we had two speakers: Philip Wallach, who used to work for Brookings, but is transitioning to K-Street, and Steven Rosenthal from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (not to be confused with Trevor Rosenthal of the St. Louis Cardinals who did a decent job as a closer before his arm died, unlike the entirety of the rest of the Cardinals’ pitching staff).

Mr. Wallach had some very interesting points about how no individual can accurately perceive the world and therefore, no individual can make truly perfect decisions. He also, and probably more pertinently, discussed how the current system of including various groups in the making of regulation policy was not enough, that these policies were still largely the work of elites and small numbers of experts, and that everybody affected by a policy, including those with limited expertise, need to be able to have a say. To expound on this: every policy has externalities on groups not explicitly being regulated and on society as a whole, and these externalities are essential to determining whether policy should be enacted.

Mr. Rosenthal (the tax one, not the baseball one), talked to us in detail about the new tax bill that was just signed into law. As an economics major, this speaker was really Coolio. He argued that the new tax bill was not in fact, for the people, but was advertised as such through misleading, value based claims that people could really get behind. For instance, everyone loves hearing that their taxes are being cut, but that isn’t always a good thing for people, especially when spending is not also cut. He argued, in contrast, that now is the time to be raising taxes (a stance which many would find largely objectionable, because people don’t understand economics) – the American economy is in a pretty dang good spot all around, and we should be capitalizing on this to help pay off our monstrous foreign debt and for posterity’s sake (especially in areas with dismal outlooks under current systems, such as Social Security). I got his card (as I generally do), and I would have loved to follow up with him later this evening or tomorrow, but his card seems to have been swallowed by The Void™.

After our speakers, I took some real neat pictures from the DC Office balcony of what someone from Georgia considers a lot of snow (see above).

Then, we had the networking dinner. The dinner was good, the networking was also acceptable. The four people who came for the American Politics seminar were very interesting and very helpful. One guy in particular was quite the character and was a breath of fresh air. Remember all you introverted kids out there, networking is important, and you should always make yourself feel uncomfortable and anxious for a good business opportunity.

From there, I came back to the apartment and now here we are. Isn’t this great? Let us sleep.

As a parting gift, here’s a random photo of a katto I found in the media browser for the blog:

(To whoever’s cat this is – it’s a very good katto)

Goodnight folks,
Drowsie Boi
– (B)Abe

Categories: Academics, Student Blogs, Study Away, W&M in Washington Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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