Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Maybe the Jihadis Will Help Us Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Yesterday I read a profoundly troubling piece about Islam, an interview of a Pole that converted to Islam. I was alerted to the article by a reader of this blog. Today we have a jihadi attack on the Westminster Palace, the home of parliaments.

This is personal to me because, 50 years ago, I used to walk across Westminster Bridge and past the Houses of Parliament, exactly where the car crashed into the pedestrians, on my way to work at Sir William Halcrow and Partners.

However, I used to walk on the other side of the bridge. So that's all right.

On one particular day in 1965 I filed past the catafalque of Sir Winston Churchill in Westminster Hall where the British national hero lay in state.

The liberal Polish convert to Islam was adamant about Islam. It cannot adapt to the modern world without killing Allah. That's because Islam is completely black and white. Either something is halal, permissible, or it is haram, forbidden.
There is also one hadis saying: there are things that are haram and things that are halal and in between there is the zone of uncertainty – do not go there. 
 So that means no critical thinking is allowed for Muslims: no gray areas for them.

But the whole point of the West is the investigation of the gray area, wrestling with the problem of what lies between the permissible and the forbidden.

So, on this Muslim's witness, Islam must be at war with the West, even as it is tempted and corrupted by the cornucopia of the West's riches and gadgets.

So we get to my understanding of history.

The great revolution in the last two hundred years, with the industrial revolution, is that wealth no longer consists of food-growing land. So the great instinct of humans, to defend their patch of land from invaders in necessary border wars, is defunct. Now wealth does not consist in land, nor yet in natural resources; it consists of intangible capital, the ideas and the techniques in men's minds. And everything is negotiable; everything has its price, so you can always pay to get access to resources like food and fuel.

Naturally there has been a huge reaction against this new truth, because we are all primed to believe in Gerald O'Hara's faith in "land, it's the only thing that lasts." So said the proprietor of a cotton slave plantation, an agriculture that rapidly exhausts both land and slave.

Really, socialism is an attempt to return to a lost agricultural Eden. I saw a book at HalfPriceBooks last weekend titled something like American Socialisms. It is a history of the socialist experiments in the US in the first half of the 19th century, New Harmony, Brook Farm, Oneida, etc., the attempts to instantiate the ideas of Fourier and Owens. These were comical attempts to redo agriculture at a moment when agriculture was about to be transformed by the industrial revolution.

And so we get the great 20th century wars. First the two German wars, about what exactly? Germany, the most advanced country in Europe needing living room? For what? The prosperous Germans could buy anything the world had to offer.

Then we got the battle against Communism, a cold war of position and propaganda, that was won by the United States with a few border wars around the periphery of the Communist Bloc.

Now we are shaping up for a war against Islam. And now the jihadis just attacked the mother of parliaments.

We should thank the jihadis. They are, to coin a phrase, sending out a cry for help: Stop us before we kill again!

If they knew what they were doing, they wouldn't be doing minor acts of terror; they would be quietly biding their time until the moment came for the great uprising, what Hardt and Negri call
“Kairòs,” the “moment when a decision of action is made,” for the “extraordinary accumulations of grievances and reform proposals must at some point be transformed by a strong event, a radical insurrectionary demand.”
Well yes, but you wouldn't want to signal it, and teach the West to prepare a defense and a strategy against violent Islamism.

In the history of the last century or so, the century of the Left, the constant demand has been to accommodate the outsiders with neo-feudal politics that betrayed the promise of the market and its culture of trust for the rest of us.

And the good old middle class has acceded to many of the left's demands, even though it has replaced the lean republics of the 19th century with bloated administrative states in the 20th century that have given out the national treasure to organized special interests.

But now, I suspect, we are reaching the moment of truth. Can the west accede to the demands of Islam? Can it accommodate Muslim immigrants without demolishing the idea and the practice of the west? Can we allow the left to champion another outsider group, and force us all to sit around for another fifty years while its members learn the way of the city and the culture of trust?

My feeling is that just as German follies gave us two world wars and Communism a half-century of cold war, we cannot avoid a momentous clash with the Islamic world.

The problem is, as the liberal Polish Muslim admits, there is no common ground between the west and Islam. And since Islam has nothing except oil and gas its strategy is naturally to migrate from the barren lands of Arabia to the rich lands of the west, and then metastasize throughout the host.

But I think that the necessary development of antibodies to Islam in the west will force us to finally deal with the Left, and its vile policy of indulging outsiders in their feudal, pre-bourgeois culture.

Because the only really valid job for government is to protect the people from foreign and domestic enemies.

And there is nothing like threats from knifers and bombers to remind us all of that.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Are We Peasants or Drug Addicts?

Yesterday, reacting to the quandary of Republicans as they try to "repeal and replace" the Obamacare entitlement I argued for a strategy that tries to keep a market going in the cracks between the monster brutalist skyscrapers of the welfare state.

That is because I believe in the 100 year old settled science of Ludwig von Mises, that socialism -- and by extension, the administrative state -- could not work because it could not compute prices.

Put another way, socialistic and administrative programs must fail because they have no mechanism, no feedback loop, to adjust to changing conditions.

Mises himself (I think) argued that the Soviet Union survived as long as it did because, while no genuine prices existed in the Soviet Union, there were reference prices in the outside world. So the Soviet bureaucrats and planners could do their sums using western prices.

So the trick is to preserve the market somewhere in the concrete desert of big government administrative programs, so that when the crash comes we have a beam of light in the darkness to tell us what to do.

Dennis Prager argues instead that the entitlement state is a disease, and that entitlements are an addiction worse than sex drugs and rock-and-roll.
All addictions -- whether to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or cigarettes -- are very hard to escape.

There is one addiction, however, that may be more difficult than any other to escape, in part because it is not even regarded as an addiction. It is entitlements addiction, the addiction to getting something for nothing.
Of course, Prager has a point. But I think that he misses the larger point. I believe that the pre-bourgeois mindset properly enjoins the workers and peasants to find a strong patron, adhere to him through thick and thin, and expect to receive scraps from the lord's table.

If you were a peasant in northern Europe your biggest fear was invasion by the nomads from the east. They would kill the men, take the food, and enslave the women. Compared to that the indignities of sucking up to a feudal lord and putting up with his droits de seigneur were minor inconveniences.

The great challenge of our modern era is to help people move from their age-old existence as People of the Subordinate Self that bow to a powerful patron, and become instead People of the Responsible Self that bow to the orders of the market and its prices.

The whole point of the left for the last 200 years is that it says: Oh No! to this program.

Instead the left says: You poor workers and peasants should not have to change from subordination to your liege lord and submit instead to the market. Instead, the left says, We will protect you from the rigors of the market and we will step into the place vacated by the feudal lords when they threw you off the land a couple centuries ago only to dump you into the cities to the slavery of the factory and the time clock.

Really, can you blame the workers and the peasants, and now the immigrants from rural Latin America and the tribal Middle East? It is a wrenching change, the biggest ever, to change from the tried-and-true culture of a tribal or feudal retainer to the responsibility culture of the individual in the city that must adjust to the dictates of the market and believe, against all instinct, that things will turn out all right for the man who dares to swim in the riptides of the market.

But still. Do you think that the average Venezuelan blames the leftist government for his miseries? Or do you think that the average person blames the saboteurs and wreckers, the bakers that are withholding bread from the market?

They talk about the necessity of education, but where are the schools teaching that the market is the royal road to prosperity and that the only wreckers and saboteurs are the politicians and activists blaming the private sector for their own mistakes and follies?

Monday, March 20, 2017

How to Weaken the Welfare State

The difficulties Republicans are experiencing as they attempt to "repeal and replace" Obamacare remind us that the most difficult thing in the world is to cut a government program.

That is why the history of government domestic spending over the last century was described by Margaret Thatcher as a "ratchet effect." The best that conservatives have achieved is to stop government programs expanding, and when they are replaced by a liberal government, the progressives give another tug on the ratchet to increase the amount of free stuff.

Is there nothing we can do? Will liberals take their pipe wrenches to society and keep ratcheting away until the pipe breaks, as in Venezuela?

The fact is that our era is an age of neo-feudalism. Most people, most of the time, are content to be subordinate peasants, tugging their forelocks, and expecting in return to be protected by the lord of the manor from harm. In return for their loyalty to the Big House they expect to be taken care of. In the old days the lady of the manor went around the village handing out flannel. These days the lord of the manor hands out Social Security and Medicare to his grateful tenants.

For years, conservatives thought they would get to reform and reduce and "privatize" the welfare state, some day. But the nomination of Donald Trump ended that.

The old Republican Party was the party of the middle class and its culture of personal responsibility, to obey the law, go to work, and follow the rules, and for 30 years it failed to close the deal with the white working class that the Democrats cast out into outer darkness in 1971 when they decided that working class Archie Bunker was a racist, sexist bigot.

The reason the Republicans couldn't close the deal with the white working class is the that white working class decades ago sold themselves into welfare-state slavery with its labor unions, its pensions, its health care. It was great! But it couldn't last. And so the welfare state model imploded on the white working class. No longer could they walk out of high school into a well-paying life-time factory job. No longer was the welfare state a light burden on the workers, paid for by the middle class, for now the cost of the social benefits docks workers 25-35 percent of their wages. Once a slave, always a slave.

But Republicans hate all that stuff. We want to save for our own pensions. We want to direct our own health care. And as for education, we are slowly leaving the government education system for home-schooling. We want to privatize the welfare state, not enlarge it with the ratchet.

Too bad. Now Donald Trump has demolished the old Republican Party, and brought the white working class in by endorsing the working-class agenda. Restore the good old days of good jobs at good wages and no cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

So what are we libertarian conservatives to do?

I'd say that the key is to keep the market alive in pensions and health care. The principle is a simple one. It goes back to Ludwig von Mises back in 1918 and his dictum that socialism couldn't work because it couldn't compute prices.

But really his point is a much bigger one. He is saying that any attempt to subvert the market, by socialism or by the administrative state or buy special interest handouts, is bound to end in red ruin, because the market and its prices are nothing less than a daily reality check, and government programs are always and everywhere an attempt to ignore the reality principle.

That is why I keep reiterating my definition of government as: an armed minority, occupying territory, taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters. You can see that every act of government, and every promise of a politician can easily be fit onto this Procrustean bed. Everyone wants free stuff, a relief from the rigors of life, and everyone fights like mad to avoid the reverse experience, the horror of losing any of that free stuff and having to go out and get a job.

That is why government is always and necessarily a ratchet. There is always some new free stuff that can be conjured up and offered to the voters. And it is always electoral poison to withdraw any benefit from the ungrateful beneficiaries.

That is why Obamacare could be bullied through Congress, and why "repeal and replace" is going to be horribly painful.

But surely we can create some place, some niche of politics where we can create a space to say: OK, I'll pay my share of FICA taxes, but I want my pension from my savings and my investment. And OK, I'll pay my share of Medicare taxes, but I want to exchange my benefit for a market-based health care experience, where prices are public and ubiquitous, just like they are at Target's in-store medical clinics.

Yeah, imagine. Target has health clinics at its stores and a price list right outside! Last I checked, most everything was $99.

The benefit will be twofold. First, cranks like me will have the satisfaction of ordering our own lives without the company store owning our souls. Then, the fact of market prices for pensions and healthcare will possibly keep enough of a reality check on the government and its administrative state, and keep the whole thing from going Greek, or Soviet Union, or Venezuela.

But maybe not. If the ratchet effect is a law of nature then maybe nothing can be done, that the ratchet of compulsion will slowly extend its force over more and more aspects of life until it throttles the air we breathe.

Every civilization ends in red ruin, with the barbarians killing the men and enslaving the women, and I fear that our own beloved civilization will prove no exception.

But at least we can dream that we are not just victims of history, where the arc of civilization tends in the end towards oblivion.

And surely there is something higher and better than the clunking fist of the welfare administrative state.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Political Power is Just Not That Useful Any More

Today there are a couple of items on Instapundit about social justice warriors doing their social justice warring. One such loser is proposing that St. Patty's Day is a celebration of whiteness. The other wants us to believe that milk is racist.

It's a challenge, isn't it, to find a new issue to protest. These chaps and chapettes are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Of course, the joke is on the SJWs. St. Patrick's Day was a way for the Irish-Americans, then a marginalized immigrant group, to march down Fifth Avenue in New York City right past the mansions of the Morgans and the Vanderbilts and show them that the Irish were not to be taken lightly. Now, we are told, St. Pat is a racist dog-whistle for the overclass.

In my view, the millennial SJWs are being led down a rabbit hole.

What these easily-led youngsters do not understand is that political power is not the be-all and end-all any more.

You can see the error getting started with Marx in The Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels proposed in that remarkable document that the capitalist bourgeoisie was to the proletarian factory worker as the feudal nobility was to the peasant.

Good point, Chuck and Fritz. It was a pretty sensible prediction to make back then in 1848. Only it turned out that you were wrong, for a number of reasons.

The first reason, that needs to be repeated over and over, is that the bourgeoisie, then and now, is just not that interested in power, whereas the feudal nobility most certainly was. The difference is, of course, that the business of the bourgeoisie is business, the understanding, the manipulation and exploitation of the market and the consumer. The business of the feudal nobility was politics. They started out as the lords of their lands, almost independent of the kings and princes that ruled over them. And every Harry Hotspur fancied himself the equal of the monarch that ruled over him. In due course, with the rise of the absolute monarch and the taxation of merchants, the feudal nobility got taken down a peg or two. But they still believed in politics.

The point to grasp is that the nature of society has profoundly changed due to the industrial revolution and the rise of the market economy and global trading. Used to be that the foundation of wealth was land and its food-generating potential. The great feudal barons were land-owners. If you owned good rich acres and defended them against rival landowners you were rich and you were powerful.

But now the rich and the powerful are differentiated. There is now a political sector that specializes in power and politics, and there is an economic sector that specializes in invention and production and distribution and trading and consuming.

When Matthew Josephson (a rich kid) wrote The Robber Barons about the 19th century industrial magnates he completely missed the point. These men might have robbed, but they were also lowering the cost of steel by 65 percent, and the cost of illuminating oil by 90 percent. They were innovators, producing new products at low prices. And when they retired they created charitable foundations to give money away. And the beat goes on. When I bought my first personal compute in the early 1980s, courtesy of Bill Gates and his MS-DOS operating system, the price was about $1,600 and it seemed like a complete bargain compared with the $30,000 you would need to buy a minicomputer. But now I can buy a Chromebook for less than $200. Who cares if the Microsofts and Googles and Apples are robber barons? I still get a computer for $200 and very likely less.

So now we have Elon Musk, the king of crony capitalists. But he is in the middle of a reckless process of reducing the cost of launching a satellite from $360 million to $30 million, and the goal is $10 million per launch once his reusable rocket boosters are really up and running. No doubt he is an outrageous manipulator of the political system. But his dream is to get to Mars.

When the whole world is for sale it doesn't matter too much what race or gender the worker is. What matters is the price. For sure, if you are black or Hispanic you face speed bumps because people are hesitant to hire you. But then today people are probably hesitant to hire a white guy in tech, compared to an East Asian.

The fact is that the left today is the most remarkable reactionary movement in history. It is saying that power, political power, is the only thing in an age when the evidence is that political power is the problem and is on its way out.

I wonder if we will look back at the 20th century as the last hurrah of the age-old truth that political and military power, the ability to defend your borders and keep the pirates and plunderers at bay, was the important, indeed the only thing.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trump's Budget: More for Defense

President Trump's FY18 Budget Blueprint came out this morning.

And the numbers are up on usgovernmentspending.com. You can compare the Trump FY18 budget numbers for 2018 to Obama FY17 budget numbers for defense here.

Well, you can't see the whole budget but just the "discretionary" portion of the budget. And the message is simple. There is $54 billion more for defense and $54 billion less for everything else.

Let's see. $54 billion in a $1,065 billion discretionary budget? That's a change of about five percent. Or one percent over the whole $4 trillion budget. Yay!

But, of course, it gores a bunch of liberal sacred cows:

AgencyFY18 Change
in $ billion
Agriculture-4.7
Commerce-1.5
Defense+52.4
Education-9.2
Energy-1.7
Health and
Human Services
-12.6
Homeland
Security
+2.8
HUD-6.2
Interior-1.5
Justice-4.0
Labor-2.5
State and Intl Aid-10.9
Corps of Engrs-1.0
EPA-2.6

It's all in Table 2. 2018 Discretionary Overview by Major Agency, in the Trump Budget Blueprint.

All this is in "Budget Authority," which is not the same as actual spending, or "Outlays." And it represents $1,065 billion out of a $4,000 billion budget. The remaining $3 trillion in "mandatory" spending is yet to come.

And with the rest of the budget will come the all-important Historical Tables on which the data in usgovernmentspending.com is based.

What about the mandatory spending? Right now, FY18 spending for Social Security is budgeted at $1,031 billion and Medicare at $608 billion. President Trump says he is not going to touch them, so that's all right. Then there is Medicaid at $568 billion and I don't know what will happen there, what with Trumpcare and all.

I suppose all liberals all over the nation are going to be screaming their heads off at this budget. Why is this?

The answer is that the programs that liberals really love are the regulatory programs that employ liberals to order the rest of us around. Most of the federal budget consists of handouts of free stuff to middle-class people that cannot be touched. But where liberals really live is where the power lies. And for the last 100 years, power issues from the arbitrary rules and regulations of the administrative state. To make us safe. To save the planet.

I am always amazed at how we manage to scream and yell about the tiniest things in politics. Wow! A cut of $2.7 billion at the Environmental Protection Agency! It's the End of the World!

If only.

But I tell you what intrigues me. It's the $4.0 billion cut at the Department of Justice. There is nothing about this in the one-page summary for the Department of Justice in the Blueprint. There is a cryptic note about "mandatory spending changes involving the Crime Victims Fund and the Assets Forfeiture Fund." So what is going on?

Could it be that the Trumpists are taking the "negative spending" from fines and asset forfeitures away from the Justice Department and putting them into the general revenue -- you know, taxes -- that goes direct to the Department of Treasury.

If I were president, I would eliminate all "negative spending" where individual agencies get to keep monies like fees and fines and Medicare premiums instead of the money going to the Treasury.

In my administration all money collected by the Feds would be general revenue, and all money would go through the Treasury.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Why Personal Debt is Different from Government Debt

This morning I got an email from a reader who asks about the prudent limit of personal debt vs. government debt. He writes:
it would be reasonable for a couple with annual income of $115,000 to carry debt of $400,000 on a home mortgage, $30,000 in car loans and $15,000 in credit card and $10,000 still owed on college loans for a total debt of $455,000. It could therefore be said that their debt is 4 times their annual income. If we look at our national debt of 16 trillion and our federal annual income from taxes and other sources at an estimated 4 trillion then the ratio of total debt to annual income is 4 times; the same as my household example.
Now I disagree with this, on the grounds that personal debt is very different from government debt. But first of all I must set forth my fundamental belief about debt, that I got from Walter Bagehot's 19th century classic about the credit markets, Lombard Street.

Bagehot proposes two things needed to avoid a credit crash.

First, people with debt must be able to service their debt. Obviously, if people do not pay their interest then the whole credit system goes upside down.

Second, debt must be properly collateralized, so that it can be liquidated when a borrower fails to service the loan. This is a confidence issue.

You can see that both notions applied to the real estate crash of 2008. In reports of the developing crash you heard a lot about "counterparty risk," the worry that the other party in a financial transaction was solvent. This applied both to the risk that the other party might stop servicing the loan, and also that the loan could not be liquidated by selling the collateral. Just as Bagehot wrote.

Now I believe that personal debt is not the harmless act we are taught to think it is. Personal debt is, in fact, a high-risk bet on the future. The family that takes out a big mortgage is betting that it will still have a job in 5-10 years, or that the price of its home will still be high enough in 5-10 years to liquidate the debt if the family had to sell. Obviously this is not true during a crash when home prices decline and jobs are scarce.

In fact, I believe that a family home is an equity play. If you need to get money to buy the home then the investor in your home ought to have an equity share, rather than be a simple creditor. Same thing with student debt. A student has no clue what kind of income he/she is going to earn in the future; nor does the student have any way of liquidating the debt, because there is no collateral. Student debt is an equity play; people financing students should be equity partners in the student's future earnings.

National debt is a horse of a different color. The national debt is in fact the ruling class betting the whole country on its policy. Normally, of course, the national debt is accumulated in a war, where the bet is pretty obvious. Win the war, and the government pays off the debt. Lose the war, and the government repudiates the debt and impoverishes the people.  The other big use of government debt is in the wake of a financial crash. The same principle applies: the government bets the whole country with an increase in debt to avoid a total credit collapse. You can see that on this view government should be running surpluses except during war or financial panic.

(By the way, the $700 billion TARP bailout was the least of the government's actions to rescue the economy. The total bill of bailouts and guarantees was more like $20 trillion. See my usfederalbailout.com.)

When the government diverts a flood of credit to keep insolvent borrowers afloat after a crash it may rescue the borrowers and the credit system, but there is a cost. The cost is what we have seen in the Obama economy, with growth struggling along at 1-2 percent per year. The same thing happened after the Crash of 1873, the Crash of 1929. Moreover a ton of distressed borrowers after 2008 struggled along in their underwater houses, did not move to a better job opportunity, could not use their home equity to start a business. But this cost is better than the alternatives of wholesale debt default or hyperinflation.

So my opinion is that both high personal debt and high government debt are bad. There is far too much personal debt out that that is not properly collateralized and this debt puts the whole credit system in peril, and government debt is not debt at all, but a kind of national equity play. In my view we should convert a lot of debt, personal and governmental, into equity, where the investor is knowingly betting on a high risk proposition.

Is the current government debt dangerously high? No, but it makes it harder to pay for entitlements and more likely that government will default on its debt to pay Social Security and Medicare, and default on Social Security and Medicare with monetary inflation.

Could government have got out of the Great Recession with a bigger and better stimulus program? I doubt it. Government spending goes to powerful and politically connected interests. If their plans and projects were so brilliant they would not need government credit and subsidies. So it is likely that most stimulus spending is crowding out more beneficial uses of the nation's treasure to pay for the wasteful plans of the rich and powerful.

The go-to book on crashes is Reinhart and Rogoff's This Time is Different. They argue that government typically increases national debt by up to 100 percent after a financial crash. And they also point out that governments default on their debt all the time. In the Great Depression the US government went off gold, giving holders of US dollars a haircut, and it reset the interest rate on war bonds from World War I, giving widows and orphans a haircut. They argue that whenever a government gets to a debt of about 100 percent of GDP it is getting into dangerous territory. Note that The New Yorker thinks that Reinhart and Rogoff are all wet.

Anyway, my view is that personal debt is too high, and insufficiently collateralized when you can get 10% mortgage loans. Government should not borrow except for wars and crashes, and the high rate of government spending makes it harder to fight wars and recover from financial crashes.

We ought to convert a lot of the present personal debt and government debt into equity and recognize the real risk in many financial transactions.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oh No! 14 Million Will Lose Their Insurance!

Considering that the Congressional Budget Office is the very incarnation of the expert-led administrative state, it is amazing how they manage to provoke end-of-the-world headlines.

Apparently, under Ryancare, 14 million Americans will lose their health insurance.

Oh wait.
[T]he assessment by the CBO... said most of the immediate increase in the uninsured would occur as a result of doing away with the individual mandate. "Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums," explains the CBO summary.
Ah so! What we have here is sensible Americans without significant assets that sensibly understand that they get nothing from health insurance. So why sign up?

But wait! These people are free-loaders, deadbeats, that are trying to weasel their way out of paying their fair share of the nation's health care costs.

So? What about people on Medicaid? What about geezers like me on Medicare? When is the nation going to get into a tizzy about us failing to pay our fair share?

After all, this is the welfare state. The whole principle of the welfare state is to hand out free stuff to the people in exchange for their vote.

Very well. But two can play at this game. If you ruling class grandees aren't handing out the free stuff to me, directly, in cold hard cash, then why in tarnation should I submit to your evil tax and compel regime without a peep? Just so you can get the support of some other freeloaders and get elected once again?

Because if I am a white working class deplorable without significant assets then the sensible freeloader thing for me to do is to skip health insurance, dump myself in the ER when I get sick, and then declare bankruptcy when the bills come due.

People do that, all the time. I had an acquaintance down the street that had run up tons of bills on credit cards and dumped the whole thing in bankruptcy with the help of a friendly attorney. But he got to keep his car, because people need a car to get to work. And, of course, he didn't have a home mortgage, he rented.

More and more, I am liking the idea of Donald Trump. Instead of throwing up his hands and saying "Oh no! 14 million uninsured!" he is saying that we need to let the sucker "implode." Really, that is what we are paying for when we vote for a president. Genuine brass balls, Queens edition.

The cunning in that kind of strategy is that the freeloaders need to be afraid before they are willing to deal. It is easy to demand your entitlements when everything is copacetic. But when the writing is on the wall, and the whole health care system is going down the tubes, we welfare-state freeloaders are likely to be willing to compromise on half a loaf instead of the whole entitlement loaf we are used to demanding as our "right."

But here is a question. I'd have to think that the people losing out on Ryancare were never going to vote for a Republican anyway? So I wonder how much of a downside occurs if the 14 million become uninsured.

Maybe the difference is that the losers get angry and actually get out and vote.