Monday, February 27, 2012

Is Santorum a liberal?

Somehow liberals have been unable to acquire from a life what conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government to do good." – Daniel Patrick Moynihan

The short answer to the titled question is no.  Obviously, Rick Santorum’s emphasis on social issues, and the content of his rhetorical flourishes, will not find adherents among those who identify as liberals.  But in larger terms, in the overall conception of what politics has to offer, the answer isn’t so obvious.

In his book A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell advanced the thesis that what really divides liberals and conservatives is a different vision of the world.  Across a wide spectrum, liberals tend to have an unconstrained vision, while conservatives maintain a constrained vision.  In other words, Sowell addressed in book form what Pat Moynihan observed and noted in the quote above.

And that is what makes Santorum’s forays into divisive social issue commentary so perplexing.  It isn’t so much the content, as the overriding question of why he keeps going there.  I am sympathetic that the idea that culture is more important than anything else, and that our culture is in need of repair.  What I can’t for the life of me see is what a president of the United States can do about it.  Still, less that a president in the upcoming terms will have any extra political capital to spend on those issues after addressing our fiscal and likely foreign policy concerns/crises.

At National Review, Mona Charen in a column titled Don’t Pick Rick makes essentially the same point:

Additionally, as Santorum himself seemed to acknowledge in the Arizona debate, the social issues that worry him (and should worry all of us), such as the collapse of the two-parent family, are not the kinds of problems that government can or even should attempt to solve. Yes, welfare programs that reward unwed parenting by subsidizing it are part of the problem. But, as Santorum will tell you (repeatedly), he helped reform welfare. That was the easy part. The rest is cultural change, and the president of the United States has very limited influence there.”

In a way it reminds me of my very first vote which was the Carter versus Reagan presidential race.  Throughout the campaign Carter focused on his excellent command of policy details as a point of contrast to Reagan.  And my reaction to this strategy was that after four years Carter still didn’t understand his job.  Listening to Rick Santorum in the last couple of weeks I’m drawing the same conclusion; that he thinks he’s running for Archbishop of Canterbury instead of president of the United States.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quotes/Observations apropos of nothing

If you know English history you will have heard of Lord Palmerston, a prime minister and active participant in 19th century foreign affairs.  Writing shortly after his death in 1865, Walter Bagehot makes this interesting observation:

He was not a common man, but a common man might have been cut out of him.  He had in him all that a common man has, and something more.  And he did not at all despise, as some philosophers teach people to do, the common part of his mind.  He was profoundly aware that the common mass of plain sense is the great administrative agency of the world and that if you keep yourself in sympathy with this you will win, and if not you fail.”

And for those who are naturally late risers and wish affairs were conducted on a different clock, a glimpse into a better world:

“When I was a young man, the Duke of Wellington made an appointment with me at half-past seven in the morning, and some one asked me, why, Palmerston, how will you keep that engagement?  Oh, I said of course, the easiest thing in the world.  I shall keep it the last thing before I go to bed.”

Bagehot’s Historical Essays, (page 216 & 217)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Obit in the NY Times

Change the names and this would describe my life to date exactly:

Barney Frank and the cause of our budget impasse

Commenting on the Reform Act that extended voting rights beyond the middle class in England for the first time, Walter Bagehot noted that for many years the conduct of politicians had kept what he thought were its dangerous tendencies in check.

Thus he declared…a great responsibility rested on the new generation of statesmen.  They should avoid raising issues which would bind the poor together as a class, should not make them think that some new law could ensure their comfort or that the government possessed some inexhaustible fund from which all their wants could be supplied…’The wide gift of the elective franchise will be a great calamity to the whole nation, and to those who gain it as great a calamity as any…In plain English, what I fear is that both our political parties will bid for the support of the working man; that both of them will promise to do as he likes if he will only tell them what it is; that, as he now holds the casting vote in our affairs, both parties will beg and pray him to give that vote to them…I can conceive of nothing more corrupting or worse…  Vox populi will be Vox diaboli if worked in that manner.’”

It is amusing, given our current circumstances, to read the writer of the introduction, from which this came, proclaiming that “Bagehot’s gloomy prognostications have not been fulfilled.”  But that was 1966—although even by then it is doubtful whether Bagehot’s reading could be so easily dismissed in England-- and one might say, wait awhile.  Bagehot’s prediction was based on a sound reading of what was embedded in electoral reform, and its failure to fully assert itself didn’t mean the inclination could be dismissed.

Which is, perhaps, a too lengthy lead in to statements made by Barney Frank as relayed in a post on Contentions by Peter Wehner.   On the current budget impasse Mr. Frank said:

“…the problem, at its core, is ‘indecision on the part of the voters.’ He pointed out that Congress is not an autonomous instrument that operates on its own; public opinion has a lot of influence. ‘The public has a question it has to resolve,’ according to Frank. ‘The public wants a certain level of government activity but it wants to provide a level of revenue that’s not enough for that activity.’ The main reason we have a budget deficit is there’s ‘a greater public demand for services than there is a willingness to pay the taxes.’”

Mr. Wehner and Barney Frank are correct that the voting public is complicit in this, I’ve said the same before, but Frank is being disingenuous as well, gliding over his own rather marked complicity in this state of affairs.  Barney Frank’s entire career has been devoted to the cause of convincing voters that they should demand more services and that there was always somebody else willing to pay for it.  Nobody has been less statesmen, more Vox diaboli than Barney Frank.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

More from Walter Bagehot

Walter Bagehot (1826 – 1877) was a banker, essayist, and one of the early editors of The Economist, with writings covering politics, finance, history, and literature. 

How can a soul be a merchant?  What relation to an immortal being have the price of linseed, the fall of butter, the tare on tallow, or the brokerage on hemp?  Can an undying creature debit petty expenses and charge for carriage paid?...The soul ties its shoes; the mind washes its hands in a basis.  All is incongruous.”

The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.”

While strolling through a friend’s estate:
Ah, you’ve got the church in the grounds.  It’s well the tenants shouldn’t be quite sure that the landlord’s power stops with this world.”

At breakfast, noticing his nephew Guy,when he was eight or nine, having trouble opening his egg:
Go on, Guy.  Hit it hard on the head.  It has no friends.”

Contraception and insurance, tellingly written & posted on a Saturday night

Overlooked in the controversy over the mandatory nature of supplying contraceptive services by way of employer health insurance is the question of why it is a part of insurance in the first place.  You insure against financial losses of a chance nature which would be otherwise difficult to absorb.  Much to my regret, I’m all too familiar with the chance need for contraception, but even if I had something approaching charm, any seductive ability at all, I still wouldn’t see the need or merit to buy insurance to cover contraception. 

Consider the numbers.  I pay $56 a month for internet service, $58 for my phone, and the current price of a condom is approximately $2.25 per pop (or non-pop if that is the focus of your attention). My math gets me 30.42 days or 4.35 weeks in an average month, so if I calculate further my birth control costs would equal my internet/phone costs if I had sex 25 – 26 times a month, or about 5.75 days every week: a) I should be so blessed b) why would this not be a perfectly ordinary expense which has no place in the scheme of insurance?

In large part the answer has to do with taxes.  If my contraception costs are included as part of my health insurance then I’m paying for them with tax free income as opposed to after tax income, so it makes sense to pack as much expense as you can get away with into your health “insurance”.  Then to, if I don’t think about it, I can easily believe that it is free since I’m not paying for it out of my own pocket (as if the employer pays you a salary and then tacks on the benefit costs out of the goodness of his/her heart). 

In short, to a considerable degree we have a issue of liberty and social controversy instigated by the government, on a matter also brought about by government.  I know, I know, what a surprise.

Obama's budget and finance's M&M theorem

One of the notable changes in the President’s entirely symbolic budget is the proposed adjustment in tax on dividends from the current capital gains rate of 15% to the personal rate of 39.6% for those with incomes above $250,000.  It should be noted that this is a change of 24.6 percentage points, and perhaps more revealingly, a 164% percent change.  Without knowing how the expected revenues from this change were derived I’d feel very confident in the prediction that actual revenues will be less.  Change something by more than 100% for people who have financial means, and you are likely to get rather dramatic changes in behavior.

Which brings me to one of the central tenets of modern finance; the M&M or Modigliani-Miller, theorem.  What M&M posits is that in absence of taxes and bankruptcy costs, capital structure—that is a company’s mix between equity and debt—doesn’t matter.  Bankruptcy costs obviously tilt the field towards equity since debt costs are a financial, legal obligation. 

Taxes enter into it because interest expense is a deductible expense for the corporation.  The money going to debt holders is before tax, the money in the form of dividends to equity holders is after tax.  And here it is worth bringing up a point made by finance professor Harold Bierman: “if a company is 100% debt financed, the debt holders own the company.”  In other words, the distinction between debt and equity isn’t as concrete, as absolute as it would appear on first thought.  What, for example, is a convertible bond?  Thus, following M&M you have investors who put money into a company in the expectation of a financial return, absent the conditions discussed, they and the company proper are indifferent whether that is in the form of debt or equity.

So what does all of this have to do with the change in dividend rates?  Well financial returns are always calculated as after tax cash flows and it should be noted that the value of a stock is, at least theoretically, the discounted value of future dividends [the capital gains benefit derives from your selling the right to a future cash flow stream, i.e. the future dividends].  Increase the tax on dividends and you’ve made it more attractive to invest via debt rather than as a shareholder.  Further, by reducing the benefit of receiving dividends you’ve increased the benefit of the company holding on to and using cash rather than distributing its profits.  In short, the financial implications of the change in dividend treatment being proposed by a Democratic administration is a tilt towards greater debt finance, and larger companies!

One final, relevant point: when a company engages in a stock buy back it is often derided in the press as an action to prop up the stock price.  While reducing the number of shares will have the effect of raising the share price—the same pie being divided into fewer slices equals larger portions—that isn’t really what is going on.  A stock buy back is just another method open to a company to distribute money back to investors, with the advantage of being able to delineate who wants to receive those funds and who doesn’t at a certain time (as opposed to a dividend which goes out to every shareholder), and to distinguish between equity holders in different tax situations.  A significant increase in the tax rate on dividends should lead to more companies opting to buy back shares, a kind of dividend masquerading as a capital gain.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The other side of people

We see but one aspect of our neighbor, as we see but one side of the moon: in either case there is also a dark half which is unknown to us.  We all come down to dinner, but each has a room to himself.”

Walter Bagehot

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Language fit for his Magisterial Highness

It’s always likely that anyone in the public eye can be caught in a bad word choice, and certainly the President of the United States qualifies as being in the public eye.  But John Steele Gordon’s catch nicely amplifies the column of Mark Steyn that I posted yesterday.  Mr. Gordon notes that President Obama used the word “accommodation” in his response to the pushback on the HHS mandate rather than “compromise”:

An accommodation is something handed out beneficently to those who have a problem. We accommodate people in wheelchairs on public transportation, we accommodate people with food allergies or religious needs by providing alternative meals. A compromise is something agreed to jointly by equals (it comes from the Latin for a mutual promise). Obama, in his own mind, has no equals. Hence, he is ‘accommodating’ these people with their annoying moral scruples so at variance with liberal orthodoxy.”

And he goes on to note a similar usage in response to an interview question:

“Likewise, the other day he told NBC’s Matt Lauer the reason he had been unable to be as transformational a president as he would have liked was that he had been unable to ‘force’ Congress to pass his programs. What an interesting choice of words.

Oliver Cromwell ‘forced’ the Rump Parliament to dissolve when he arrived with soldiers and told everyone to leave, saying famously, “You have sat long enough.” He dismissed the Mace (the symbol of Parliamentary authority–it lies before the speaker to this day) as a mere “fool’s bauble.”

One would think the word here should have been ‘convince.’”

Gordon thinks these word choices speak to Obama’s magisterial view of himself and his outsized ego.  There is certainly some of that working here, but I think the larger context is that this is really the voice of the Liberal-Left.  Progressivism has been the dominant wave of American politics for roughly a hundred years, and the Democratic Party, if not always in office, has experienced a similar dominance.   In the Liberal Imagination (1950), Lionel Trilling described conservatism in America as little more than “irritable mental gestures that seek to resemble ideas” and more recently Sam Tanenhaus described conservatism’s role as a necessary restraint on liberalism for when it goes too far (like Obamacare???).  That is to say, conservatism is to be a secondary, a role of support, for the natural lead of liberalism.  In short, Obama’s imperiousness may stem from his personality but it also fits with the larger political forces of which he is a part, and their complete obliviousness to this tendency is the source of much wondrous, wry amusement.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Steyn on the mandate--his highness

Mark Steyn gets to the heart of the Health Services mandate issue with his column today, appropriately titled: The Church of Obama, the President has issued his own act of Supremacy. 

The church model the young American state wished to separate from was that of the British monarch, who remains to this day supreme governor of the Church of England. This convenient arrangement dates from the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The title of the law gives you the general upshot, but, just in case you’re a bit slow on the uptake, the text proclaims ‘the King’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England.’ That’s to say, the sovereign is ‘the only supreme head on earth of the Church’ and he shall enjoy ‘all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity,’ not to mention His Majesty ‘shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain, and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts, and enormities, whatsoever they be.’

Welcome to Obamacare.”

Mind you, the only thing really noteworthy in this whole thing is that it is religious liberty that is being abridged.  It is in that sense a more brazen act of usurpation, but in all respects really nothing out of the ordinary, which is why for those who aren't religious this is an "I'm Spartacus!" moment.

The HHS Mandate and de Jouvenel's Sovereignty

The wise man knows himself for debtor, and his actions will be inspired by a deep sense of obligation.”

Thus an organized religion extends itself into charitable activities and hospitals which serve not only co-religionists but all who need help.

Secundus has made willing sacrifice to finance an establishment for religious instruction.  This institution is nationalized, irreligious instruction is substituted, and the public authority requires of Secundus the continuance of his support; he must in other words, go on doing what his own judgment had once led him to do, even when his judgment has turned against it.

Yes, in the HHS mandate the institution itself isn’t being nationalized, it isn’t being forced to continue its charities and hospitals, but the above is still quite relevant given that what is being nationalized is how a institution’s people are to be compensated.  The situation is different in important respects, but I don’t think you can deny the applicability of the principle that’s being expressed.

Every man takes offense whenever, in a matter in which he once acted voluntarily in accordance with his own sense of obligation, an attempt is made to force on him a different action, based on an outside judgment.  He is conscious of injustice because, whereas his own judgment found a certain action just, the other one thrust on him seems to him unjust.  Also, he feels humiliated because it is sought to make him act in accordance with this outside judgment; this feeling of humiliation is experienced by every man of the least elevation of character, even when all that happens is that an action which he formerly took voluntarily of his own free will becomes a legal obligation—for in that case the quality of his action suffers a degradation.”

Quotes from Sovereignty, Bertrand de Jouvenel

Friday, February 10, 2012

More on Santorum and the "lack of seriousness"

A recent post on The Corner:

"The contretemps over the HHS mandate can do nothing but help the candidacy of Rick Santorum. For months, Mitt Romney has been lamely defending Romneycare, hiding behind the shriveled fig leaf of the Tenth Amendment to obscure what everyone now acknowledges — that the Massachusetts program is the forebear of and inspiration for Obamacare.

That simple fact ought to be instantly disqualifying in a 2012 GOP presidential candidate — especially after the 2010 landslide."  [my emphasis]


On family, there is of course the Philip Larkin view:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
   They may not mean to, but they do.”

But reflecting on the death of his brother in his G-File today, Jonah Goldberg has more of the whole of it:

Families are similarly unique. Each has its own cultural contours and configurations. The uniqueness might be hard to discern from the outside and it certainly might seem trivial to the casual observer. Just as one platoon of Marines might look like another to a civilian or one business might seem indistinguishable from the one next door. But, we all know the reality is different. Every meaningful institution has a culture all its own. Every family has its inside jokes, its peculiar way of doing things, its habits and mores developed around a specific shared experience.”

Komen and Planned Parenthood; HHS Mandate

In my mind the background music for the contretemps of the last couple of weeks is Cyndi Lauper’s “I see your true colors” although it isn’t what I love.  Yet again, we saw that what goes by the name liberalism is anything but.

In the case of Komen vs Planned Parenthood what stood out was the staggering impertinence, the astonishing rudeness of Planned Parenthood.  A charity dedicated to breast cancer makes a donation to another organization—which is only tangentially involved in regard to breast cancer-- but in due course decides it will no longer continue to do so.  In what corner of the civilized world is the appropriate response to this on the part of the recipient and its supports an outraged, public, how dare you?  Most of us have been in this situation and have enough basic decency to know that the only course is to say something along the lines of “we certainly regret your decision, is there anyway we can get you to reconsider, if not we understand….”  From their actions I wouldn’t give Planned Parenthood, the time of day, let alone some of my money, if they supplied puppies and unicorns to orphans.

In the HHS mandate that will require religion institutions to provide health care services which go against their religious doctrines, the first question that comes to mind is why the shock?  Why the surprise?  To paraphrase from Monty Python “now we see the repression inherent in the system.”  While one recognizes the special position of religion, there is the sense in which you think why should that area be excluded from having things rammed down their sensibilities by the state when it is de rigor everywhere else?  This mind you is a political philosophy, and political administration that believes that citizens shouldn’t be allowed to decide on what kind of light bulbs to purchase.

Finally one is taken aback by the relative triviality which is supposedly behind all of this.  Abortion perhaps aside, where are we that we need financial support for contraception?  When fortune shines upon me, I don’t view it as an undue burden that I have to spring for the protection.  In my wildest dreams I wouldn’t consider the cost of contraception to be a burden that someone else should cover (pun sort of intended).  Best and worst case scenario, I’d have to give up cable—no problem.   Even on economic grounds it fails, as the point of insurance is to cover not the routine but the extraordinary; those expenses and eventualities that arise that you can’t pay for without a significant level of hurt. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is the problem the base's lack of seriousness?

Over at Powerline John Hinderaker worries that the Republican Party is throwing the 2012 election away, a sentiment I share.

“…if you are a Republican, the vibes are very bad. The presidential primary season has turned into a disaster, in my view. Mitt Romney has shown a discouraging inability to appeal to the party’s base, while the race has damaged both Romney and the party…

Rick Santorum is a bright guy who has performed well in the debates, and he is hot, this week, in the Republican base. But he doesn’t have the chance of a snowball in Hell of being elected president. He couldn’t even get re-elected to the Senate in his home state of Pennsylvania in 2006. The 2012 election will be almost entirely about the economy, although national security is always relevant to a presidential contest. It would be suicidal for the GOP to nominate a candidate whose signature issues are gay marriage and abortion. At the end of the day, the party won’t be that dumb. But the fact that the party’s base is flirting with Santorum manifests a lack of seriousness that may prove fatal in November.” [my emphasis]

On this last point, I think Hinderaker has it almost exactly backwards.  The party is flirting with Santorum because the collective response to the candidates on offer is in effect, are you serious?  They’re flirting with Santorum because they have the good sense to know that Romney is a weak candidate who shouldn’t have a prayer of being the nominee in an election where Obamacare is a front and center issue. 

The main takeaway from this campaign isn’t that the conservative base lacks seriousness. Quite the contrary.  What’s clear is that if the base, in a supposedly conservative party is forced to settle on a Mitt Romney, who has no credibility in making the case on a key issue  in this election and has no discernable compensating strengths, then the process is badly in need of repair. 

Some thoughts on the Goldberg, Uncommon Knowledge interview

In the prior post I link to Jonah Goldberg being interviewed on Uncommon Knowledge, and again I would recommend you give it a listen.  Before letting it go, a couple of points on the start of the conversation.

First, it was cynicism which originally led me to conservatism.  As a smart, hip (well at least in my mind) high school senior I was a cynic and by default a liberal.  But a speech at the local college by James Buckley titled A Plea for a Return to Federalism made clear to me the point that Jonah makes, that conservatism is more in tune with cynicism—at least a certain kind of cynicism-- than liberalism.  In later years that cynicism has become far less important to my thinking than it was then.  Then I thought liberalism was fine but would never work, now I don’t think it is fine.

Second, when Mr. Goldberg discusses the limitlessness and never ending action of liberalism it is important to listen closely.  He says of the liberal view:

There is always more to be done, never mission accomplished and now let us go back and do the things that keep society healthy.”

Realize that the distinction here isn’t one of activity or action per se.  As Oakeshott remarks somewhere in rejecting the notion of small government, “the government should be as big as it needs to be.”  The difference is that for liberalism activity is directed towards the mission, it is the endless construction of The Tower of Babel, whereas for conservatives action is doing the things that keep society healthy which is to make adjustments and tend to the new dissonances that arise from a dynamic society.  Conservative action is like the adjustment that seems to occur in the strike zone in baseball which is regularly modified to maintain the right balance between hitter and pitcher. 

Finally, the host Peter Robinson brings up the Soviet era anecdote that if the West accepted all of the USSR demands what they would get would be the next set of demands.  I agree with Goldberg that this is also true of liberals, but I think the exact same thing could be said of Newt Gingrich.  That is why character issues and electability aside I’ve been rather harsh on Gingrich.  Newt calls himself the true conservative but I would argue what he really is, is a right wing progressive.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jonah Goldberg interviewed -- Uncommon Knowledge

I think Jonah Goldberg is probably the strongest political commentator going right now, in large part, it should be noted because I rarely disagree with his take on things.  In any case, below is a link to a Uncommon Knowledge interview of him (approximately 53 minutes in total)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Behavioral economics and the Republican race

One of the concepts of behavioral economics is the following: suppose a group has to decide where they will go for dinner.  The criteria of their choice are price, location, type of cuisine.  Behavioral economics says that depending upon what order they apply those criteria they will end up in a different restaurant.  That is, if you start by deciding on the price and then move to location and then cuisine you end up making a different selection than if you start with location, then cuisine, and then price.

Which leads me to the Republican nomination race and the question, how different would the race be if the anti-Romney choice had been Santorum from the start?  Mind you, I’m still not sure what I think of him as a potential president, but not knowing anything about him I was impressed with his performance in the early Iowa debates.  I don’t share his emphasis on social issues, but I continue to think he is the only solid alternative to Romney that’s running.  With Gingrich losing yesterday and then having what apparently was a disastrous press conference, it seems plausible that Santorum will finally emerge as the main alternative to Mitt Romney at the point when it isn’t likely to matter.  The race might’ve been different if conservatives had started with Santorum instead of ending with Santorum after going through Perry, Cain, and Gingrich.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Book review, Conservative Essays

I recently posted on Amazon the following review of a collection of British essays that was released in 1978.

The obvious question is why should an American, circa 2012, read a book of political essays from a foreign country from over thirty years ago.  But for those interested in conservative thought there is much to capture your attention in these essays, and as Britain was arguably farther along the path we’ve been on this book isn’t without topical value.  For example, labor leader James Callahan’s warning that the standard Keynesian approach to economic downturns no longer work.

For the most part these essays operate in that area between practical politics and political philosophy although there is a fair amount attention paid to the meaning of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership of the Tory Party on the cusp of her becoming Prime Minister (replacing the aforementioned J Callahan).  Reading this book one becomes more aware of the perils in using the term conservatism too generally.  One of the essays deals head on with the differences between English conservatism and that which goes by the same name on the European continent, and it is apparent that conservatism in America is a distinct animal as well.  Along those lines it is interesting that while Sam Tanenhaus uses Disraeli to attack modern, American conservatives in his book The Death of Conservatism it turns out that these English conservatives don’t think too much of Disraeli and hardly view him as an important number in conservative thought.

By far the best, and arguably most philosophical, essay here is Shirley Robin Letwin’s On Conservative Individualism, a first rate consideration of the apparent tension between order and freedom.  Letwin’s argument is extremely interesting in its own right and one is tempted to say this alone is worth picking up this collection, but it also has the advantage for those who’ve heard of Michael Oakeshott of being perhaps the best synthesis of his thought to be found (small wonder that Oakeshott reviewed the essay favorably).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Questioning a basketball statistic - cause or effect?

I’m watching the Minnesota vs Iowa basketball game, and at the start of the contest the announcers stated that when Iowa outrebounds the other team they win, and when they lose the rebounding battle they lose.  O’K, but what does that actually tell you?  Obviously it is intended to tell you that for Iowa the game is won or lost by rebounding.  But I wonder if this is actually the case. 

You will I think concede that most rebounds are on the defensive side, the defender usually being in better position.  So suppose Minnesota makes 50% of their shots, and Iowa makes only 25% of their shots, and otherwise in every respect the teams are equal.  The result will be a) Minnesota will win b) Minnesota will have more rebounds than Iowa and c) Minnesota will have the rebounding advantage not because they were better at it or put forth more effort but simply because Iowa missed more shots.