Monday, August 3, 2015

Do Liberals Know Their Slip is Showing?

Over the years, in numerous "national conversations" liberals have stated over and over again that they, liberals, are the educated ones, the evolved ones, the ethical ones. And conservatives are just patriarchal bullies, and probably racists, sexists and homophobes for disagreeing with them.

So it was in the great Nixon impeachment drama. Oh, the outrage of the president's men burgling the offices of the Democratic National Committee. Oh, the injustice of using the FBI to spy on the president's enemies! Oh, the venality of trying to get the IRS to audit the president's political enemies! Oh, the disgrace of the president's lies! Everyone that had half a thought in their brain knew what to think of all that. The president had to go.

Remember Iran-Contra? Where aides in the White House took money from arms delivered to Iran in defiance of an embargo and gave the money to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Oh, the outrage!

But then we got to the Clinton administration and somehow the mainstream media was not as outraged by Clinton scandals as Nixon and Reagan scandals. Under Nixon and Reagan, administration lies had been the worst of the worst. Under Clinton, everyone lied about sex. In 1991 everyone had been outraged about alleged smutty talk by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. In 1998, everyone was allowed one free grope.

In the Bush era, we got to be outraged again. By the "lies" told to the UN to justify the invasion of Iraq.  And Scooter Libby. What exactly did Libby do that deserved a federal prosecution? Never mind: he worked for Vice-President Cheney.

Now we have the Obama era, featuring the monstrous lie that "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." Followed by flagrant administrative rewriting of the Affordable Care Act on the fly. Followed by the IRS targeting Tea Party groups. Followed by Hillary Clinton conducting official business with a private email server.

And what do we hear from the mainstream media? Crickets.

Now we have the Planned Parenthood videos where Planned Parenthood officials or their contractors are shown by undercover videos to be bargaining over the sale of fetal organs.

And what do we get from the Cathedral? We get an Obama judge placing prior restraint on the Center for Medical Progress activist group enjoining them from publishing future videos featuring StemExpress employees. We get calls for a Justice Department investigation -- of The Center for Medical Progress! Imagine that happening to a liberal group.

Now my Greek philosopher friend, George Maroutsos has always said: You don't have power unless you abuse it. Otherwise, you just have responsibility. So abuse goes with power like ham and eggs.

But the point of government under law is that abuses don't just go with the territory. There is recourse under law. Flagrant abuses of power get punished.

And the reason for this is simple. All government is force, and all government is experienced by the "out" party as injustice. If the abuse of power is too egregious then people in the "out" party start to mutter under their breaths. If the abuse continues then they start to get angry. If the abuse continues some more then they start to organize.

I don't think my liberal friends have a clue just how much rage they are stirring up with their abuses of power. You can understand why. Every ruling class imagines itself the acme of virtue. If today the elite doesn't think itself chosen by God it certainly thinks it has been chosen by History. So it thinks of its abuses of power as little things, the inevitable shortcuts you have to make to get things done in the name of progress.

But the "out" party doesn't think that way. Liberals certainly don't think that when they are in opposition. And so, in due course, you get the formation of a head of opposition. You might even get the formation of a head of rebellion.

The whole point of government under law, with the rulers actually obeying the law on email correspondence, Hillary Clinton, is to redress the grievances before it is too late.

And that is something that our liberal friends are going to have to learn the hard way, when things have got way past the embarrassment of someone's slip showing.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Politics is Always About Looting and Plunder

In the era when progressive minds were concerned about the power of the absolute monarchs the word on the street was "limited government." Progressive minds realized that the absolute monarchs, like the feudal monarchs before them, maintained themselves in power by distributing favors to their supporters. That was insupportable, according to reason and natural law.

That lasted for about 100 years, from 1750 to 1850.

But once the absolute monarchs had been dispatched to the dustbin of history progressive minds forgot all about limited government. Now they saw themselves as the rising ruling class and developed a politics where they would replace the monarch and win political power for themselves by offering favors to their supporters. So much was obvious to the best minds. And it was all discernible from the march of history and from social justice.

Of course, the truth is that politics has always been about loot and plunder. It was about loot and plunder when the hunter gatherers conducted their dawn raids on the neighboring tribe, killing the men and taking the women into slavery. It was about loot and plunder when Agamemnon and his pals including Odysseus, sacker of cities, besieged and sacked the city of Troy. It was about loot and plunder when the Roman legions ranged through Europe and the Middle East. It was about loot and plunder when Europeans discovered America and took the silver from Bolivia and the land from the North American Indians.

The formula is simple. A would-be political leader -- we might call him a freebooter or a buccaneer -- recruits an army with the promise of loot and plunder. We might call these followers freeloaders. If successful, this leader takes political power over some territory and taxes and regulates the people therein to benefit his supporters.

For that brief century from 1750 to 1850 the idea got about that maybe the loot and plunder idea was not such a good plan for government. Because, after all, loot and plunder are destructive. They sweep away productive economic relations and strip people of their wealth. And give it to people whose only talent is military or political soldiering. So the idea got about that government, the agency of looting and pillaging, ought to be limited, so that wealth could increase and benefit everyone.

But in the middle of the 19th century, as we have seen, a new idea got about. The educated sons of the bourgeoisie, shocked by the squalor of the industrial slums, intuited a new society in which all the squalor would be gone and society would become truly social and cooperative, rather than hierarchical and exploitative.

But there was one little problem with their ideas. How would we get from here to there? The answer was as old as the hills. We would get there by recruiting a political army with promises of loot and plunder: bigger wages, less working hours, free education, old-age pensions, health care.

It did not seem to occur to these people -- it still does not occur to their political descendants -- that a political movement based on loot and plunder will end up 100 years later as government based on loot and plunder. And what does loot and plunder do? It strips the land and the people of their wealth and their livelihood.

The trouble with socialism, according to Margaret Thatcher, is that in the end you run out of other peoples' money. It's easy to see why. The nature of the political game is that you must come to each election with a new promise of loot. That is what you have taught your supporters down the decades and that is what they demand. That was why President Obama had to lie about Obamacare and pretend it would lower health insurance premiums, and why Hillary Clinton has to conjure up brain-dead ideas to complicate the capital gains tax to make it look as though she is shaking new money out of the trees that can be spent on her supporters.

In the end the politicians over-promise on the loot. In the end you run out of other peoples' money. In the end you get Greece or Argentina.

So the solution is pretty obvious. You replace the current system with a system of limited government, where the politicians do not rally support by offering free stuff.

After all, any sensible voter should be able to see that in the end the government runs out of money to pay its pensions, so the practical thing to do is to make sure that your life is not dependent upon the continued payment of a government pension. On that view the idea of paying payroll taxes for 40 years on the faith that the government will pay the pensions it promised seems close to certifiable delusion.

But that is the system we live under. Until we don't.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The #cuckservative Meme

I get it. Conservative leadership, from Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate and John Boehner (R-OH) in the House to the mainstream conservative media is disappointingly wimpy. You might even say that they had been cuckolded by the shameless hussies in LiberalLand who have been cheating on them for decades. Thus #cuckservatives.

When are they going to do something about it? And act like real men for a change?

The answer is: not until conservatives (or some other non-liberal cultural groups) acquire the cultural power to "put a bit of stick about."

To put it in military terms, the non-liberals have to join battle with the liberals over some issue, win the battle, and put the liberals into retreat, and then go on to win the war. The reason that #cuckservatives are so effeminate is that whenever there's a skirmish on the cultural front they get creamed by the liberals.

This is explained by Mencius Moldbug in his blog, where the universities and the media are the Cathedral that get to define the moral and cultural norms, the Democratic Party is the Inner Party that gets to rule when it wins elections, and the Republican Party is the Outer Party that just gets to govern when it wins elections. If you don't get the difference between "rule" and "govern" it is the difference between making up your own rules as you go along and following the rules.

Another thing to think about is the difference between left-wing extremists and right-wing extremists.

Moldbug has a sneer at Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism over this. Liberals can't be fascists, he writes, because fascism only worked in a limited time in the years after the collapse of a monarchical regime where right-wing judges could wink and nod at fascist street thugs.

But that's the point, and that's why the "fascist" tag applies to liberals. These days left-wing street action gets a wink and a nod from the justice system and the police know which side their bread is buttered on. The riots in Ferguson and Baltimore couldn't have happened if they were right-wing demonstrations. The demonstrators would first have had to get all their paperwork and their protest permits in order, and who knows how long that would have taken, Lois. And then any peep of violence or inappropriate protest sign would have been excoriated from The Nation to The New York Times to National Review.

In other words, today the left has the power. The left can intimidate ordinary citizens with regulators and judges. Why just today we have the report of a judge putting a restraining order on the folks that are doing the Planned Parenthood videos and enforcing prior restraint on future videos. Imagine that happening to 60 Minutes. You can't, because everyone knows that the Cathedral and the Inner Party would erupt into moral outrage. The left can intimidate with the power of the bully pulpit; that's why left-wing bloopers disappear while right-wing bloopers are proof of racism, sexism, homophobia. The left can intimidate with street action by bused-in rent-a-mobs. And it can intimidate with its neo-peasant supporters outraged by any "cut" in their entitlements.

So yeah. Conservative politicians and media are indeed #cuckservative. And they will be until we change the cultural order in America. And I'd say we are decades away from that, because any cultural change comes from the young people, and I view today's young people as mind-numbed robots pretty well completely indoctrinated by and in the pockets of the gentry liberal ruling class and its Cathedral.

Hey kids! Prove me wrong!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Talk to Your Liberal Women Friends

I'm going to be lunching with my liberal women friends in the next week or so. We are talking about the kind of woman that will be on board for the idea that it's time for America's First Woman President.

Here I am, aching with sorrow about the way that America's government has failed its people, because of the faith of its ruling class in its top-down paternalism, and your average educated woman of a certain age is serene in her sexist politics without a cloud in the sky.

Just as the idea of electing America's first black president was racism, straight up, so the idea of electing America's first woman president is sexism, straight up.

But you can't tell them that, not directly. They have ideological armor up against that sort of comment.

No, I think it's better to play on liberal guilt.

It's not the 1%; it's the top 20% First libertarian Charles Murray in Coming Apart and now liberal Robert D. Putnam in Our Kids have said that life is great for the top 20% in America. But lower down the socio-economic scale things are not so good. Something Must Be Done, because, as I say from my take on Coming Apart, in the lowest 30% the women don't marry and the men don't work, and that is causing a cultural Armageddon. But what to do?

We know what the liberal response is: more government and more power for liberals. But they are wrong.

More entitlements, regulation, and $15 minimum wage are baloney. Because science. Look, I get it. Politicians get elected by promising free stuff. More entitlements. Free community college. Make those exploitative employers pay a living wage. Only if there is one thing we know from political science it is that the more you pile on the free stuff, the more that people want. And the end of it is you go Greek. What is happening in Greece right now? The young and educated (the top 20%) are bailing out, leaving the bottom 30% to face the music. Same thing happened to Argentina in 2002. We know plenty of middle-aged educated Argentinians here on the North American west coast.

If there is one thing we know from public-choice economics, it is that economic regulation is crap. We have known that for 50 years that regulation kills everything and supports established interests. But liberals can't let go, because it brings in money and support and political power.

If there is one thing we know from Economics 101 it is that regulation of wages is crap. The $15 minimum wage is the cruelest cut of all. It makes it harder for young uneducated kids to get started. And it encourages more and more work to go off-the-books to illegal immigrants. This is basic economics, going back at least to the marginal revolution of 1870.

Big government and presidential executive orders are recipes for corruption and injustice. I imagine that gentry liberal women don't hear too much about the IRS scandal, the EPA ignoring its requirement to base its policy on science, the crony capitalist mess in renewable energy if they listen to NPR and read the New York Times. Obviously when you are a member of the top 20% and a gentry liberal you figure that Obama and his appointees are doing the Lord's work. Oh good, you think, President Obama believes #BlackLivesMatter and wants to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows. Oh good, President Obama is fighting carbon pollution and dirty coal plants. Oh good, the Supreme Court is finally OKing gay marriage. But what about the cultural chaos in the inner city, where the war on "broken windows" policing is making the chaos for black lives worse? What about the utter waste of resources on crony capitalist wind and solar power that slows the economic recovery and prevents Americans from getting good jobs? And what about the collapse of ordinary heterosexual marriage in the bottom 30%? Doesn't that seem to be a little more important than gay marriage for the 3% or so?

The trouble with government and politics is that it can't fix anything until it is so well and truly broken that even an upper-class educated woman can see it.

I don't think that my liberal women friends are within ten years of realizing that something is desperately wrong with the gentry liberal agenda. But I do think that they are going to be pretty shocked by the 2016 campaign.

That's because we are going to find out over the next year that a lot of things that gentry liberals thought were agreed upon and settled by all educated and evolved people actually aren't.

Because the ruling class is always the last to know. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It Must Be The Greedy Bankers, Otherwise...

I just had an epiphany on the Blame the Bankers meme that every Democrat and every liberal instinctively believes as the cause of the Crash of 2008.

I'd always assumed that it was pure cynical political blame-shifting, the natural instinct of the ruling class to find a scapegoat to take the blame for its feckless and foolishness.

Of course, that's what it was, mostly. You can't run a country and admit to your foolishness. That's chalk and cheese.

But you can't discount the bigger picture. You can't discount the fundamentalist faith that liberals have in a wise, educated elite dispensing rational, expert governance from on high.

When the real-estate crash began and then nearly buried the country in the fearful days of September 2008 when the Dow could fall 500 points in one day, the one thing that liberals could not admit even to themselves was that their policy of pushing low-down payment mortgage loans on sub-prime borrowers was just about the most stupid thing anyone ever made into national policy.

It couldn't have been, because liberals are the most educated, most evolved, most compassionate people in America. They could not have just about ruined America as a result of their generation-long pursuit of the great white whale of "affordable housing" for minorities and especially for minorities in "red-lined" neighborhoods.

No. That was unthinkable. It must have been the Greedy Bankers.

Needless to say, the same thing applies to the rest of the failed liberal project. The endless failures of top-down expert-led government can't be due to the nature of the beast, that government is useless for everything except wars. No the failure must be due to corporate greed, or racism, or sexism, or some other enemy of the good and the great.

I think that is an important thing to understand about liberals. Yes they are unjust. Yes they are cruel. Yes they are mind-numbed robots that can't think for themselves.

But the point is that they really believe in their right to rule. They cannot face themselves in the morning and admit that their governing philosophy is a crock. They have to believe, and they will continue to believe until their dream has punched them in the face and knocked them out.

And even then there will still be a remnant that continues to believe. Hello Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Yes, but what is the solution? Let's go to JayMan on "National Prosperity."
All that matters are two things: high average IQ, and high-trust people. 
Obviously, IQ is a given. But liberal politics is all about sowing mistrust, and dividing up people into clans. The results are just what you would expect. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gentry Liberals are Uneducated Idiots

I know a guy that knows a guy that used to be married to Kshama Sawant, the Seattle Brahmin from Puna who's leading the liberal war on jobs by raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

I guess that's close enough to the old song of the girl that danced with a boy who danced with a girl who danced with the Prince of Wales.

Anyone that knows anything about science knows that the minimum wage is a job killer.  The minimum wage, as Milton Friedman told us, is $0. That's the wage earned by a guy without a job.

Anyway, the chickens are coming home to roost in Seattle as low-wage workers that have had their wages jacked up by the minimum wage legislation in Seattle are having to deal with the Unanticipated Consequences of the higher minimum wage. They are asking their employers to lower their hours worked so they can continue to qualify for welfare benefits.

Oh really. Who could have seen that coming? After all, liberals are the educated, evolved ones that go with science every time.

Then there's Hillary Clinton proposal for a new complicated and higher capital gains tax, to discourage that old liberal chestnut, capitalism by quarterly results, and fight inequality. Hasn't she heard of the science of marginal utility, already over a century old?

We are also hearing about the utter failure of state Obamacare exchanges, usually costing a cool $100-200 million a pop, of which former Maryland governor and presidential candidate Martin O'Malley is the poster boy. This of course is fruit of the old Progressive Era faith in experts and rational administration. Except that the science of the last century says that it is all baloney. Politics is politics, and to get results you need the market economy.

Then there is "climate change." Who knows what is in the stars, as far as climate is concerned. But one thing we know. The headline climate scientists, chaps like Jim Hansen and Michael Mann, are not behaving like scientists. They are behaving like politicians. Science proceeds by trial and error of theory and experiment. Politics proceeds by declaring emergencies and demanding emergency powers, and damning opponents as corporate shills and "deniers."

The acerbic Angelo Codevilla has an article out that takes eminence-grise Henry Kissinger -- and most post-WWII foreign policy -- to the woodshed. He blames Kissinger for the follies of US foreign policy from Vietnam to Iran.
Facing an adversary, U.S officials assume that it is amenable to compromise and thus open negotiations with preemptive concessions of U.S. interests. Discovering that the adversary persists in its purpose and in fact is hardening its demands, our officials, falling back on Kissinger’s “creative ambiguity,” craft “agreements” based on the pretense that the adversary accepts the U.S. understanding thereof, and that our officials do not accept the adversary’s understanding.
As I understand this, Codevilla is insisting that, contra Kissinger, international politics is power politics. You want something; you push. You do not talk about "peace processes," because in proposing a peace process you are advertising that you don't really want to fight, you just want to get out of the fight.

There is no-one more annoying than that one that thinks he is smart but who really doesn't have a clue. Our liberal friends get massaged everyday by the knowledge that listening to NPR and reading the New York Times are markers of educated sophistication.

But the truth is that educated sophistication is only obtained by doing the hard reading that goes beyond the approved texts and approved opinions that you pick up at the university and the elite media.

And as the current presidential campaign season progresses liberals are going to discover that their take-no-prisoners politics of the last 20 years, inaugurated during the Clinton impeachment when liberals decided that issues that sent Richard Nixon out of the White House in disgrace didn't apply to a Democrat, has flown them into a box canyon.

What should an educated progressive politics be in an age of global commerce and diverse cultures? Liberals haven't thought about it, except to declare a fight against inequality and agree that all conservatives are haters and should be forced to wear a "C" on their chests.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Are We All Just Peasants at Heart?

As I weave my ideas about a better world, in which the domination of the welfare state administrative system is replaced by a just world where people cooperate to help each other rather than compete for freebies, I wonder.

Think of things this way. A couple hundred years ago most people were serfs on some lord's estate. They were, in a profound way, his dependents, living at his pleasure and subject to his power. Yet people owed, and felt they owed, loyalty to their lord, and expected in return the lord would protect them, after a fashion. And he usually did.

The commercial and industrial era changed all that. Now the subordination was dissolved -- and also the privileges of rank.

But no sooner had the industrial era got started than a counter-movement began, that the rich owed the poor a duty of care, that "rights" were not simply rights of legal equality but rights to a decent standard of living.

The result has been the construction of the vast administrative welfare state, the principle of which seems to be that people have access to economic benefits as a right of social membership. Just like in the days of the agricultural age and what we used to call feudalism.

So now we have a politics divided between those that believe in this new subordination, this neo-feudalism, and those that believe in freedom from subordination through responsible individualism.

But how do you speak of freedom to the new subordinates?

Mona Charen chides the Republican Party, the party of freedom and responsible individuals, for a lack of outreach to such people.
A number of Republican candidates for president have been seeking to recast the Republican Party as the party of reform and outreach. They recognize that a party that lost not just the Hispanic vote, the black vote, the women's vote and the youth vote, but also the Asian vote has an image problem.
But the thing about the Hispanic, black, women's and youth vote is that these are people that think like peasants. They look to a community organizer or a political boss or a union leader to deliver the goods. They do not believe in surrendering themselves to the market, but to a human, political leader.

It is said that the core of the Republican Party is people that think of themselves as "typical Americans." This means, if it means anything, that such people are willing to submit to whatever America is. They do not experience themselves as being peculiarly defined or disadvantaged by some particular identity.

The point of all the Democratic Party identity groups is that politics can in some way advantage their members against oppression and "economic injustice". The world is stacked against them and only force can rectify the situation, by forcing employers to pay more to low-wage workers, or forcing employers to hire and promote more women, or a forcible system to deliver old-age pensions and health care.

To believe in the essential justice of the market, to abjure the resort to force and the political fixer, this is what requires the leap of faith.

It is, of course, a leap of faith that is based on the imperfect science of economics, that the price system is the best and most just and most efficient way of signaling what should be produced and sold and exchanged, and that the surrender to this faith is the royal road to prosperity both for individuals and for humans as a whole.

For many people it seems that the leap of faith in the market is only possible after the faith in politics has been crushed by bitter experience.

And that's easy to understand. The market is a rational abstraction; the sauntering politician is real and tangible, part of the always already familiar lifeworld of the everyday.

And yet it is the market that has delivered a world of $100 per capita income per day compared to the world of two hundred years ago that delivered $1 to $3 per capita per day.

What does it take to turn a subordinate peasant into a believer in freedom and responsibility?