Cities losing people, not brains

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Interesting study by Manhattan Institute finds cities that lost population also happened to gain in their numbers of college grads.  And that included such hard cases as Detroit and New Orleans.

The folks at the Manhattan Institute generally have more faith in market solutions than I do, but they publish some very good, honest work. I like them.

My column:


Follow me on Twitter: @FromaHarrop


Iowa’s pumpkin tax is still dead

Ah, Iowa’s pumpkin tax, an unfortunate idea squashed the year it started (2007).

The underlying issue:  Is pumpkin a food and therefore not subject to sales tax?

Pumpkin as food.
Pumpkin as food.


Or is it a decoration and therefore taxable?


Pumpkin as decoration.
Pumpkin, as decoration.


I report. You decide.

Follow me on Twitter:  @FromaHarrop



Texans trying to privatize Montana elk country bankroll Cruz


Ted Cruz hunts elk
Ted Cruz would be invited to hunt the Durfee Hills, for sure


So the Wilks brothers — the billionaire Texans seeking to close Montana’s Durfee Hills to non-guests  — are also bankrolling Ted Cruz.  If the brothers succeed in getting the federal government to turn over these prime elk hunting grounds (in return for acres they own elsewhere), the public would no longer have a right to go there.

We can safely assume that Cruz would be invited to hunt there.


Follow me on Twitter:  @FromaHarrop



Western conservatives (and the NRA) take hunters for granted

Durfee Hills
Montana’s Durfee Hills, open to the public. . . for now

It’s amazing how Western conservative pols get away with supporting policies that, in effect, hand traditional hunting grounds to mining companies and real estate interests grabbing the best views. Billionaires have been amassing private preserves the size of small European countries and posting no-trespassing signs in places where ordinary people have hunted for generations.

The reason it’s amazing is that these same politicians assume hunters will vote for them no matter what.  And the NRA, the alleged friend of hunters, endorses them.

Check out this conversation regarding Montana’s premier elk hunting country, the Durfee Hills. A pair of Texas billionaire brothers want the federal government to trade it to them in return for acres they own elsewhere.

Here are the particulars:


Froma Harrop at Gallatin River
The author at the Gallatin River in Montana

Follow me on Twitter: @FromaHarrop


The most unintentionally funny line of the debate

Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper



… came from CNN moderator Anderson Cooper when he pointedly asked Hillary Clinton:

“In all candor, you and your husband are part of the one percent. How can you credibly represent the views of the middle class?”


To borrow from the Mastercard ad:

Being questioned about losing credibility on matters of class because you’ve become rich: $2.03.

Being so questioned by the son of a Vanderbilt: Priceless.

Cooper’s estimated net worth, without inheritance from mother Gloria Vanderbilt, is $100 million.

Still, you’ve got to like the guy.



Social media and mass murder

The mass shooting at Umpqua Community College was about more than guns. America has been flooded with guns for a long time.  What has changed to account for such massacres occurring with greater frequency?

I recently wrote:

One change may be the growth of social media, creating an online community to ease the loneliness of these mentally ill time bombs — and perhaps endorse their perverse fantasies. The community lets the killers know that after the deed, which usually includes their death, they will have lots of people following them.

That said, the access to deadly weapons by the mentally disturbed still plays a part.

Incredibly, guns have been turned into tools of therapy for the very people who shouldn’t get near them.

The bizarre parallel between the Umpqua and Newtown Elementary School mass killers is that both their mothers took them out shooting as some sort of crackpot bonding experience.  Both filled their homes with unsecured firearms.

And in both cases, the fathers were long out of the picture in the boys’ lives.

The boys were crazy, the mothers were crazy, and the culture is crazy.




Speaker wanted: Must smite Democrats

Aiming at Democrats, hitting us all
Aiming at Democrats, hitting us all

Some of it is political, of course, but the leading candidates have sold themselves as political warriors, the national interest be damned.

Jason Chaffetz:

We’re just not going to unilaterally raise the debt limit.

Ah, so putting America through another debt-ceiling fiasco is again on the table.

Kevin McCarthy:

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today?

I see, dragging America again and again through the details of that tragedy was mainly a campaign tactic.

Wonder what the conservatives’ new candidate, Daniel Webster, has in mind for us.





Bernie Sanders is perfect on gun control


Actually, Dems should follow Bernie Sanders on gun control
Actually, Democrats should follow Sanders on gun control

I quote Sanders from today’s New York Times:

you got a whole lot of states in this country where people want virtually no gun control at all. And if we are going to have some success, we are going to have to start talking to each other.”


Sanders is from Vermont, a hunting state with little gun crime. He now wisely supports closing the gun show loophole and banning assault weapons. And that’s about it.

The gun issue is complicated, as he says.   Democrats often err in alienating ordinary gun owners, leaving them in the hands of the National Rifle Association.

Hunters and anglers tend to be environmentalists. Many could be won over by Democrats, were it not for some liberals’ reflexive hostility toward gun ownership.

I recently spoke to some thoughtful journalists from the “hooks and bullets” press, in Bozeman, Montana. Some told me that they dislike the NRA and will not belong to it. But they also felt misunderstood by the outside, largely urban, media.

I’m not always Bernie’s No. 1 fan, but he’s right on this issue.