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Ralph R. Reiland: Reports of hanky-panky & college muzzling

| Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Lucian Wintrich, White House correspondent for the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit, speaks at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. The conservative commentator was arrested and charged with breach of peace after an altercation during his speech titled 'It's OK To Be White.' (Rebecca Lurye | The Courant via AP)
Lucian Wintrich, White House correspondent for the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit, speaks at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. The conservative commentator was arrested and charged with breach of peace after an altercation during his speech titled 'It's OK To Be White.' (Rebecca Lurye | The Courant via AP)

I suppose the right thing for an economist to be writing about this week is the Republican tax cut proposal that's jerking its way around Congress and a projection of how the proposed tax cuts would likely affect the annual federal deficits, plus the official debt of the U.S. government. That debt is more than $20 trillion (more precisely, $20,571,074,121,492.80 as I'm typing the number), or a bit over $162,000 per U.S. household, with the red ink increasing overall at a rate of $27,762.94 per second over the past six months.

But right when I was in the middle of collecting data on how the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts in the 1960s and 1980s had affected the level of revenue received by the federal government, the news broke that NBC had fired Matt Lauer from his $28-million-a-year co-anchor job on the network's “Today” show after a charge from a colleague of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” “Today” delivers nearly $500 million in ad revenue per year to NBC, effectively subsidizing the rest of the news division, including “Meet the Press” and “NBC Nightly News.”

The news about Lauer, clearly now just a repetitious story of yet another high-level, big-money, commanding male being grounded by way of his boorish harassment and sophomoric transgressions, was quickly followed by bizarre accounts about how the normally unadventurous University of Connecticut campus had exploded into glass-shattering, brawling, smoke-bomb-throwing pandemonium when Lucian Wintrich (born Lucian Einhorn in Pittsburgh in May 1988) attempted to deliver a speech titled “It's OK to be White” to an unruly and noisy assembly of students.

News accounts of the speech and the student disruptions, as reported by The Associated Press and Fox News, explained that the former Taylor Allderdice High School student “was repeatedly interrupted by audience members booing and chanting.” Evidently some who are supposedly involved in the pursuit of higher learning, broad-minded inquiry, civility and the exploration and evaluation of contending ideas do not believe it is acceptable, or perhaps politically allowable, to be discussing how it might be all right to be white and OK not to be saddled with racist animosity, class resentment or automatic guilt due to lighter skin tints and presumed privileges and favors.

Social media posts showed posters on campus for the Wintrich speech, sponsored by the UConn College Republicans, had been torn down and vandalized. Online videos show audience members approaching Wintrich to intimidate and interrupt as he attempted to speak, including a woman — later identified as a director of career services and student advising at a nearby community college — who grabbed Wintrich's notes from the lectern before he could deliver his speech. Instead of her being charged with theft, Wintrich was arrested and charged with breach of peace.

“It's really unfortunate that some of the kids at the University of Connecticut felt the need to be violent and disruptive during a speech that focused on how the leftist media is turning Americans against each other,” Wintrich wrote on Twitter after he was released from police custody. “Tonight proved my point.”

Ralph R. Reiland is associate professor of economics emeritus at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (rrreiland@aol.com).

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