Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trump Starting to Look Like a Leader

I watched some of Donald Trump's stump speech made up the road in Everett, Washington, where they make Boeing airplanes.

If you are passing by Everett, be sure to visit Boeing's Future of Flight museum and take the factory tour. You get to see the 747, 777, and 787 assembly lines, and look at the difference between 1960s manufacturing processes and 2010s processes.

You have to say that Trump has got the cojones. Imagine any recent GOP presidential nominee talking frankly about the horror of life in the black inner city. About lives wrecked by gang violence. About how the Democratic Party is the party of slavery, and the Democratic Party is the party of Jim Crow. About the Republican Party being the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Oh, and Trump's going to bring jobs to the inner city and school choice too.

Yes, why haven't Republicans been saying this for the past 30 years? And why haven't Republicans been calling out black racists on race the way that Democrats like to suggest that the few cranky KKK groups are representative of the whole party? Why has the GOP spent the last 30 years cringing on race?

That's why dear old Jonah Goldberg is wrong to want to write the alt-right out of decent conservatism. Sorry Jonah, but decent conservatism is dead, because of the cringe on race. No doubt William F. Buckley, Jr, was a gentleman and was right to read the John Birch Society out of the gentlemanly conservative movement. But the proof is in the pudding. What good did it do to write the whacko-birds out of the movement?

The left has never written its whacko-birds out of the movement. Indeed, actual terrorists like Bill Ayers were rehabilitated to become the mentors of chaps like Barack Obama. And actual racists like Reverend Al Sharpton flourish and have their own TV shows.

And now Donald Trump has amazed us all by going to Mexico to meet with the president of Mexico. Who would have thunk it? Didn't Trump so infuriate the Mexicans with his meme about Mexico paying for the wall that dialogue would be impossible? Hmm. Apparently not. I dare say that we might find a clue about all this by perusing Trump's Art of the Deal. You start a negotiation with a bit of braggadocio. Then you get down to serious negotiating.

The more we see of this the more we unconsciously realize that Hillary Clinton is not a leader. She can go through the motions of being a leader, but she just isn't one. That's why she lost in 2008 and nearly lost the presidential nomination in 2016. She just isn't a leader.

Look, there is nothing wrong with not being a leader. Most people aren't leaders. They don't have the cojones to risk and threaten, and "boldy... outdare the dangers of the time." It is perfectly obvious that Hillary Clinton is not a person that is constituted to do such a thing. That is what Benghazi should have taught us. Her instinct is to hide in the bunker and then lie about it. I dare say that is true of most of us.

But hiding in a bunker and lying about it doesn't compute for a political leader.

When you watch Trump's stump speech it seems pretty over the top. I don't think, for instance, that we will revive manufacturing like it used to be.

But think of this. Suppose Trump brings corporate income tax down to 15% and proposes a profit repatriation amnesty. I dare say that Apple might bring home that $200 billion they have stashed in Ireland and that the Eurocrats want to grab hold of. Suppose he frees energy from the renewables racket. Suppose he replaces the administrative juggernaut of Obamacare. Suppose he frees up all kinds of other administrative stupidities of the Obama administration.

I dare say that with all that we might see two or three years of 3-4% GDP growth. Wouldn't that make a difference to the US?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What is George Soros' Game?

There are still a number of things in this world that I don't get. So I have a trigger in my mind looking for explanations.

For instance, I have been wondering about Karl Marx's famous phrase from Das Kapital.
A mass of free proletarians was hurled on the labour market by the breaking-up of the bands of feudal retainers, who, as Sir James Steuart well says, “everywhere uselessly filled house and castle.”
What was going on, I wondered? Then I got the answer. The absolute monarchs were disarming the nobles, ending their private armies. So the nobles "hurled" the peasants off their lands. If the peasants couldn't be used as soldiers, who needed them?

One of my questions is: What does George Soros want? Why is he funneling money at the Democratic Party in the US? In the American Thinker today editor Thomas Lifson calls Soros "a brilliant mastermind, the closest thing to a real-life Bond villain in human history." Soros is trying to influence the election of district attorneys.

I am willing to judge Soros a mastermind as a speculator and investor, but I doubt if he is a political mastermind. Actually, he seems merely to be pouring money into the global elite's program for global, supranational governance. And the central drive in that program is to delegimitize nationalism and the nation state.

I get this. I understand that the global elite is trying to save us from ourselves, we poor deluded rubes, from the evils of aggressive nationalism, and trying to substitute rule by a wise and educated global elite that knows what's what and what is good for us.

So the global elite is building supranational institutions like the European Union to undermine the nation state and fostering sub-national identities to undermining nationalism and national identity, substituting race and ethnic and gender identity for national identity.

The supranational project is foundering because, in the words of British anti-immigration politician Enoch Powell, he of the Rivers of Blood speech, the EU could not work because there was no European demos, no European people.

Powell was arguing that a wise and providential elite needs to foster a popular identity that matches up with the political identity. If you are going to have a nation state, then you need to create a national myth that creates loyalty in the people to the nation. If you are going to have a supranational state then you need to teach the people to love the supranational identity.

How do you do that? You start a war. That's how Bismarck unified the German peoples into a single nation state. That's how the patriots of 1776 created the American identity, by making war on the Brits.

Our leaders and betters understand this perfectly when it comes to their sub-national race and gender politics. You gin up wars on women, police wars on young blacks, evil Christian wars on gays and you inspire young mixed-race quarterbacks to snub the national anthem.

And Soros is in the middle of all this, with his support for Black Lives Matter. His strategy seems to be to support anything that weakens the nation state. This is because, for him, coming to adulthood as a Hungarian Jew in the mid 1940s, aggressive nationalism is the worst thing ever.

Only I'd say that aggressive progressivism, aka the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Pol Pot, is worse by an order of magnitude.

Personally, I think this is all a dreadful mistake. It is a mistake to push supranational states until you have a supranational demos. And I don't just mean the educated elite. You have to get the ordinary people identifying as Europeans if you want to have a European state. Problem is that the only way this worked in the past is to have a war.

It is also a mistake to weaken the national identity with race and gender and localist identity politics. The global elite thinks that its support of race and gender identity politics is a cunning way to dislodge the nation state. But I think that they are mistaken. I think that the race and gender identity politics will lead in the end to civil war, because at some point the wise and accomplished ruling class will lose control of its identity groups.

I don't think that George Soros, brilliant mastermind, has really thought this deeply about things. He just thinks as his globalist clique pals think, that they must stop the slide to fascism.

But fascism arose out of the chaos and governmental ineptitude in the years after World War I, in response to the first big failure of the educated and wise European elite. It is a conceit to imagine that today's educated and wise elite is any better than the elite of a century ago. Governments and ruling classes always blunder from one disaster to another, because they really don't have a clue what they are doing; they only think they do.

It is pretty obvious, to me, that today's ruling class is blundering into a new disaster, right now. That's because, like all humans, the ruling class doesn't have a clue. That's why we have religion, to persuade ourselves that we really do understand life, the universe, and everything.

Only we don't. We don't understand life, the universe, and everything, and we probably never will.

And that includes George Soros.

Monday, August 29, 2016

J.D. Vance's American Victims, Black and White

Guess what. The US has long had two underclasses, one white and one black. The white underclass has always been the Scots-Irish that settled in Appalachia, the southern uplands. The black underclass are the west Africans brought to the Americas in the slave ships.

Here's the difference, according to former hillbilly J.D. Vance.

[T]he two groups took different approaches to politics. The white poor, unencumbered by legal discrimination, focused on a politics of class... Black people, meanwhile, understandably voted the color of their skin, putting their trust in whoever promised to tear down the most legal barriers. 

Really. Now let's analyze this using my reductive Three Peoples theory.

These two groups didn't take "different approaches to politics" because, as Eeyore said, they was "pushed." As People of the Subordinate Self they do not act upon the political stage, they are the chorus, the rank-and-file in somebody else's power project. And both groups have had a pretty hard time of it, because their leaders have not been too careful about the interests of their followers.

I dare say the white upland farmers of the South were attracted to a kind of class politics. That's because the South, before and after the Civil War, was run by a planter/merchant elite that ran the place in their own interest as planters and merchants. But there has been plenty of race politics too, whenever the ruling class needed to rile up the bubbas.

I dare say that African Americans have tended towards a racial solidarity politics. In the Jim Crow era, it was natural to vote for the Republican Party that had freed the Negro slaves, even if it had abandoned them to Jim Crow in 1876. In the quotas and diversity era is is natural for blacks to vote for the party that offers them free stuff by virtue of their race.

But here's the point. You really don't want to become the rank-and-file in someone's political army, whether you are white or black. That's because armies are not run for the benefit of the rank-and-file soldiers; they are run for the benefit of the generals and their political masters. That's why I have developed my idea of "little darlings." If you are the little darlings of the ruling class, watch out. One fine day (that's un bel di in Italian) you will find yourself abandoned by the side of the road, sick and wounded, just like a soldier in a rifles-and-bayonets army.

The root cause of black and white underclass malaise is simple. Blacks and whites enlisted in some ruler's political army, and believed the recruiting sergeant and his promise of loot and plunder. It all started out well. Until the ruling class decided it had other fish to fry. The ruling class cast the white working class adrift about half a century ago, just as the labor-union arc of history started to bend towards oblivion. And now blacks are wondering angrily about what happened to all the Hope and Change they were promised and that they believed in eight years ago just as the affordable housing bubble collapsed on them.

We are starting to see the harvest of the liberal sowing of race and class politics, as angry and disappointed hyphenated Americans that have been left behind turn on each other in the flatline Obama economy.

But the reality of life is still the reality of life. Social animals help those left behind up to a point. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. If you are not adapting to the changing economy then you are going to get left behind. Society will help you for a season -- especially if you are useful to someone's power project. But society will not help you forever.

The Scots-Irish and the West Africans both came from war-torn borderlands where force ruled. The Scots-Irish left their borderlands because of poverty, and the West Africans were the victims of inter-tribal warfare, conquest slaves sold to the European slavers. Both groups have had a problem adapting to the life of the city, where cooperation, not fierceness, is the order of the day.

Unfortunately both groups have suffered as political opportunists have exploited their fierceness and recruited them as political soldiers. So they have not adapted well to the cooperative culture of the city.

And time is running out.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Frankfurt School Analysis, Part Two

These days the Frankfurt School is conservative Enemy #1, on account of “cultural Marxism” and political correctness. But I have been reading a book about Horkheimer and Adorno written in the 1970s, The Frankfurt School: The Critical Theories of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, by Zoltán Tar.

In Part One, I looked at Tar’s view of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment and The Authoritarian Personality. Both books were lefty responses to the rise of fascism. Dialectic rather importantly reminds lefties that, foes of domination and oppression as they are, the very fount of their faith issues from the Enlightenment and its program to dominate Nature.

The Authoritarian Personality is something of a joke to me. It is a bunch of lefties trying to understand fascism as a natural outgrowth of lower middle-class culture and the natural end-point of bourgeois capitalism. These lefties are blind to the obvious notion that, when the economic interventionism of the democratic left fails, as it did in the 1930s because its ideas are bad science, the people naturally turn to a strong leader to get them out of a jam.

Zoltán Tar writes off the Frankfurt School as a failure, in part because of the haut-bourgeois Jewish origins of Horkheimer and Adorno, whose Jewishness keeps interfering with their leftiness. This meant that they fell away from the true faith of Marxism:

Critical Theory dissociated itself from the basic tenet of Marxism: the unity of theory, empirical research, and revolutionary praxis… The crucial issue here is the abandonment of the Marxist method for metaphysical speculation.

Amusingly, Tar then admits that the Marxian prophecy had failed:

The Marxist prognosis about the polarization of classes in a capitalist society (bourgeois versus proletariat), with the Verelendung [immiseration] of the latter… did not take place.

Hey! I’d never known what the original German word for the “immiseration” of the working class. Elend is the German for “misery,” according to Google. Thus Ver-elend-ung. So immiseration is a direct translation!

Hey kids! Maybe the failed Marxist prognostication is telling us something! Maybe it is telling us that the portentous Marxian combination of theory, research and praxis was, as the Brits say, a load of bollocks, because its basic prediction, the immiseration of the working class, never took place. In fact the opposite is true.

And by the way, what does "revolutionary praxis" mean when it's at home? The only thing I know is that revolution combined with praxis means riots, and killing, and secret police and revolutionary terror.

As I have mentioned, what Tar could not know in the 1970s, as he complained that American academics knew next to nothing about the Frankfurters and Critical Theory, was that Critical Theory would turn out to be the left’s star turn. Imagine!

In the hands of Horkheimer and Adorno’s students, the Marxian “polarization of classes” was expanded into a polarization of races and genders. Why not? Politics is division and if you can’t burn the place down with class division and the instinctive animosity between rich and poor why not go back further into mankind’s instinctive past and gin up a race war? And Herbert Marcuse with his convoluted idea of repressive tolerance, or tolerant intolerance, or intolerant tolerance, gave the left permission -- as if it needed it -- to persecute anyone it chose in the name of tolerance and diversity. Today every lefty knows how to play the game of political correctness and humiliate anyone that dares to disagree with the lefty agenda du jour. Including getting them fired. They get it in their mother's milk.

Hey lefties, wasn’t firing people for their beliefs a big issue for you in the Fifties when a few Commies got fired from their government teacher jobs and a few Hollywood lefties got blacklisted, but not actually driven out of the industry?

But those Commies were on the right side of history.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The biggest jobs program since World War 2!

Hillary Clinton is promising to enact "the biggest infrastructure and jobs program that we've had since World War II," according to Yahoo writer Rick Newman.

Oh great. According to Newman:
Clinton's plan would amount to $300 billion in transportation projects spread over five years... That $300 billion would come from new taxes on the wealthy...
Oh great. Do these people never learn? That taking money from rich individuals and spending it on crony capitalist "infrastructure" deals is bound to be a net loss economically? Because the things that rich people would have done with their money would have done more for economic growth and "jobs" than the crony capitalist/union deals that government calls "infrastructure."

Of course, they don't want to learn. The ruling class does not have much interest in reducing the size of government and releasing resources to the private sector. Where's the power in that? Where's the pay for play?

Also, the Clintons have done us a favor with the corrupt Clinton Foundation links to the State Department under Hillary Clinton. It has shown us how expensive it is to keep a presidential operation in being, and how politicians will stop at nothing to fund their political operations, and how the world is full of people eager to pay for play with politicians.

So of course when the politicians get into office they need "infrastructure" programs to pay off their supporters.

But the sad thing is that the journalists of the nation -- Rick Newman excepted -- allow this to go on without protest. Hey, liberals: I thought protest was your thing. There are all kinds of issues, mostly about evil Republicans, for which the journalistic response is immediate recourse to protest or the fainting couch. But the journalists of the nation seem to be able to digest economic and Democratic Party sponsored rubbish three times a day without so much as a hiccup.

Let us get this straight. All government spending, from the Pentagon to the latest wizard wheeze for an offshore wind farm, is a weight on the economy. Period. All economic regulation, from labor laws to building codes, is a weight on the economy. Period. Some of these things may be good ideas, and not just special interest giveaways, but they are good in spite of the damage they do to the economy. We may say that we want to spend money on Social Security to help seniors, but those monies sent to the government are monies that might have been saved for private investment. We may say that we want a living wage of $15 per hour, but that means that unskilled minority youth gets screwed.

But you won't see liberal journalists writing things like that. And you have to wonder why. I think that most of the time liberal journalists are strategically incurious about economic knowledge; they instinctively know that economic knowledge is bad for their career. Also, I suspect that there is a "you'll never work in this town again" aspect to journalism. You go along to get along. Or else. I suspect there has been quite a lot of that during the Obama administration.

The fact is that the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years has been a surprise all the way. It is my belief that the Great Enrichment, seen as a succession of surprise innovations, has succeeded because most of the time the special interests and their bribed apologists in government and media did not see it coming. And when they finally realized what was happening and mobilized against the innovation -- e.g. cab cartels against Uber -- it was too late. Except in Austin, Texas. But Austin, Texas, is a liberal town.

All along, during the last 200 years, one crank idea after another has come along to discredit capitalism and the Great Enrichment. And intelligent, educated people have believed each one and boosted it. Marxism, Fabianism, Institutionalism, the National Industrial Recovery Act, cheap money, economic regulation, Keynesianism. The educated ruling class has lusted after anything that could discredit capitalism. Yet one after another, these gods have failed. What is wrong with these people?

Yet here we have Hillary Clinton running on increasing taxes and rolling out yet another stimulus program.

OK, I'm not dumb or somep'n. I know what it's all about. It's because the average voter doesn't give a flying fig for economics and the market system. All the average voter cares about is the prospect of some loot from the government. Although I suspect that the average voters doesn't really understand how many middlemen get their cut when politics is involved.

It was the conceit of the present educated ruling class, decades ago, that an educated ruling class, relying on the advice of experts, would use the best science and knowledge to govern wisely and well and neutralize the brutish instincts of the hoi polloi and the corrupt spoils system.

Instead, it has governed by appealing to ignorance and greed. Just like every other ruling class in history. And today's spoils system, featuring the Clinton Crime Syndicate, makes the spoils systems of Tammany Hall & Co to be Boy Scout stuff.

So when will the kid show up to tell us that the emperor has no clothes?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Frankfurters for Breakfast

These days the Frankfurt School is conservative Enemy #1, on account of “Cultural Marxism” and political correctness. But I have been reading a book about Horkheimer and Adorno written in the 1970s, The Frankfurt School: The Critical Theories of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, by Zoltán Tar.

Those were the days before the fall of the Soviet Union and before the ideas of the Frankfurt School had been enthusiastically taken up by every lefty activist in the culture war on everything to do with ordinary middle-class culture.

Horkheimer was the long-time head of the Frankfurt School -- the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt in Germany -- starting in 1931, and Adorno was his colleague and collaborator.

Dr. Tar views the head of the Frankfurt School as a straying Marxist, a guilty haut bourgeois intellectual with independent means infected by the pessimism of another bourgeois intellectual with independent means, Arthur Schopenhauer.

But Tar's bigger problem with Horkheimer is the central argument of Dialectic of Enlightenment, that domination is the problem in human society, whether domination of man by man or domination of nature by man. You can see why. The whole point of the leftist program is that political power and domination are needed to counter the domination of the market and the capitalists. But is it? There is no doubt that the market bosses everyone of us around. But is that worse than politicians and activists bossing us around? Or kings and noble lords? Our lefty friends just assume that they are on the side of the angels, and that their program will usher in an age of justice, emancipation from domination and liberation from work: in a word, equality.

Of course this last is rubbish. It is true that the idea of social animals is a reduction of force, but it is clear that no society has been without hierarchy, or ever will be. And no humans are ever likely to be free of the need to work, or rely on the work of others. But that is the essence of the left's program.

Politics, the left says, can reverse the domination of capitalists and employers over their subordinate workers. Oh yeah? You mean that the domination by people that do not have explicit government power is likely to be more dominatory than the domination by people armed with the power of the state? If you think that, I gotta bridge to sell you.

Politics, the left says, can lift the burden of work from the brow of labor. Oh yeah? Then who is going to produce the product? The tooth fairy?

At least Max Horkheimer raised the question about the universal problem of domination of man by man and of nature by man. I would say that he failed to answer his question, but at least he raised it. The domination of nature has become, of course, the great issue of environmentalism and climate change.

Horkheimer and Adorno wrote Dialectic of Enlightenment during World War II, a response of lefty intellectuals to the horror of fascism. After the war they collaborated on The Authoritarian Personality, a book that blamed the lower middle class for fascism. Certain people, you see, are prone to succumb to the authoritarian politics of fascism, making fascism the natural end point of capitalist democracy. Dr. Tar takes this seriously. Adorno and his collaborators set out to show that certain people, those inclined to conventionalism, authoritarian submission and aggression, superstition and stereotyping, power and toughness, destructiveness and cynicism, projection, and concerns about sex: these kind of people are susceptible to fascism.

Yes, it was easy to write about fascism then, before the feminist fascists, the Black Lives Matters fascists, and the LGBT fascists, with their appetite for authoritarian aggression and concerns about sex, had appeared on the American scene.

What these lefties do not recognize is that fascism, of the eevil right-wing kind, rears its ugly head whenever center-left governance screws up the economy and people start to get desperate. That's what happened in the 1920s in Germany and so the lower middle class turned to a strong leader that promised to fix things. That is what has happened in post crash America and so the lower middle class is looking for a leader to Make America Great Again. This has nothing to do with authoritarian personalities, but a natural and instinctive human response to things going wrong. When you are stuck in a jam, you look for a leader to get you out of the jam.

Since the 1970s the left has discovered that it really likes the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School as an all-purpose tool to beat up the bourgeoisie. The new game is the idea that white males are the dominant hegemons of the world and that the left is called on to oppose their domination and liberate and emancipate all the groups subordinated to white males during the last 500 years of white patriarchal hegemony.

Again, nobody is allowed to ask whether the domination of leftist politicians and activists is any less of a domination than the domination of patriarchal white males. The left is on the side of the angels and you are a racist, sexist homophobe if you disagree.

I'd say that the verdict is already in. The white males of the patriarchy, for all their faults, were and are not that interested in power. The bourgoisie of the 19th century was quite happy to give the workers the vote and bring them inside the tent. The capitalists of the 19th century, feared by the haut bourgeois intellectuals of the Class of 1848, turned out to be amiable philanthropists. First they built corporations to cut the price of oil by 90 percent and steel by 66 percent. Then they retired and went off and founded medical schools and built libraries. The Class of 1848 and today's lefty politicians and activists? They care about nothing but power, and they have spread death and disaster wherever they have seized power.

That is because they have completely missed the point. The best society is not the society that has found the magic bullet to end oppression now. The best society is the society that has found a new way to reduce the need for political power and its inevitable domination and oppression.

Next we will look at the Theory of Society sociology that Adorno outlined in the 1950s and 1960s.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Descent into Feudalism

We moderns are all for freedom, right? And our lefty friends are all for liberation from oppression and marginalization, right?

So how come we are taxed on every hour of work? How come we stand in lines at the airport, like peasants? How come the government sequesters our savings for us in government "trust funds" and in special government-regulated IRA and 401k accounts?

The answer is that the final centuries of the last millennium were an outlier. The old feudal system of warrior lords lording it over the peasants had broken down. The ordinary people were "on their own" and they were busting out of the cages that had confined them for millennia as the subordinate creatures of their noble lords.

And the new feudalism was still in its conceptual stages. Feudal Concept One was the Marxist idea that a revolutionary cadre would fight for and protect the workers against the capitalists. Feudal Concept Two was the Progressive/Fabian idea that wise, educated experts would manage the world on behalf of the workers.

How's that new feudal system doing, boys and girls?

Now in my reductive Three Peoples theory I assume that the world is always composed of three kinds of people. One of them are the People of the Subordinate Self. In my idea, people graduate from the world of the subordinate self to become People of the Responsible Self. And I assume that people are eager to graduate from subordinate slavery to responsible freedom.

But what if I am wrong? What if many People of the Subordinate Self are perfectly happy living as subordinate drones of the ruling class? What if they naturally live as grumpy peasants, forever complaining about "them" but not actually doing anything about it?

If you look around you, it seems to me to be inescapable that many people are perfectly content to live as subordinate peasants, or as we say now, victims.

It is pretty obvious that the whole program of the Democratic Party is a program of feudalism. Democratic voters look to their leaders to provide them with benefits without which they would be helpless.

But the rise of Donald Trump shows that the same applies now to the Republican Party. Mr. Trump is running on a platform to Make America Great Again, and he will create the jobs and punish the Chinese in order to do this. He is appealing, we are told, to the white working class that has spent the last half century dying of despair after the Democrats abandoned them when the Dems decided to be the noble lords of women and minorities rather than the noble lords of the working class.

Here is what I have to say about this.

I don't like it. The whole point of the modern Great Enrichment is that we come out of our cages, we break out of the lord's manor, and we take responsibility for our lives. We do not rely of a powerful patron to provide us with the necessaries of life; we go out into the world and find something useful to do, something that other people are willing to pay money for.

On my view, if we return to feudalism we will return to stasis. There will be no more Great Enrichment, but only obedience.

And the problem with feudalism is what I call the little darlings problem. If you are the little darling of the ruling class, whether peasant or worker or woman or minority, you are facing a big risk. What if the ruling class finds that you are no longer useful in their power project?

It happened to the peasants during the agricultural revolution and the growth of the nation state. The absolute monarchs disarmed the nobles and the nobles decided their didn't need no stinkin' peasants eating their heads off on the odd chance that the nobles would need them in their baronial armies. The liberal ruling class decided that they didn't need no stinkin' white working class once they decided that leading women and minorities was much more fun.

As that black state senator from Louisiana said a while back. The politicians don't care about you; they only care about your vote.

Monday, August 22, 2016

How Bad is Western Decline?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Joel Kotkin writes of two dystopian novels, one about the Islamification of France and one about the Latinization of the US.

But the problem in both novels is not the Muslims and the Hispanics, but the failure of the French and the US to uphold and live their values and their culture.

Controversialist Vox Day, quoting my man Alexander Hamilton, blames the Irish and the Jews for wrecking America. Hey, why not blame the Germans? They invented everything, good and bad, since David Hume.

It is true that all the immigrants have rather mucked up the good old ideas of 18th century political science, including the separation of powers and the limitation of democracy. But the immigrants also represent an infusion of energy. The fact is that the WASPs that dominated the US northeast have ebbed noticeably since the Irish showed up in 1850 and the Jews turned up in 1900. The residual legatees of the WASP inheritance don't seem that eager to promote and spread WASPiness any more.

So, while it is true to say that the Irish and the Jews didn't really understand the virtues of the American Founding, we could also say that the descendants of the Founders don't really seem to be up to the mark set by the Founders.

The truth is that we can't keep the past, either by faithfully repeating the holy words of the Founders, or by preserving the old ways, or by keeping out newcomers. Or even by relentlessly indoctrinating the newcomers with the right thoughts and habits.

Here's my take. Given the non-stop follies and mistakes of humans, particularly humans with power, it is astonishing that the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years has been as successful as it turned out.

Don't forget: nobody really understood what was happening when the modern prosperity started. And nobody really understands what is going on today. There are fools hawking nonsense all over the place, from George Soros pushing his pro-globalist anti-nationalism, from the PC left pushing their poisonous identity politics, from the educated class pushing its climate change hysteria. Then you have the Muslims tumbling out of their disaster of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, here in the US, we are not just being influenced by the Irish immigrants of 1850 and the Jewish immigrants of 1900. Or the Hispanic immigrants of 1985. What about the East Asians that are already becoming the richest group in America and taking over 40 percent of the student body at CalTech? What about the South Asians also filling up the tech slots?

I don't think this "diverse" group is going to surrender the world to Muslim fanatics. I suggest that most of these groups take the western cultural, economic, and political heritage very seriously. There's my evergreen quote from David Aikman's Jesus in Beijing. He quotes a Chinese Christian, talking about the pre-eminence of the West.
At first, we thought it was because you have more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the last 20 years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and the successful transition to democratic politics. We don't have any doubt about this.
Imagine what it takes for a son of Confucius to say that.

In all the chaos of politics and terror and economic dislocation, it is well to remember that many people from outside the northwest European culture are very interested in understanding just what it was that made the West into the world-dominating cultural, economic, and political hegemon. They don't want to tear it down. They want to understand it, they want to inhabit it, and they want to make it work for them.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Is it 1787 Yet?

If you were living in France in 1787 you probably thought that things were peachy keen. Talleyrand evokes this with his comment:
He who has not lived in the eighteenth century before the Revolution does not know the sweetness of life and can not imagine that there can be happiness in life.
And so on.

But, as Fred Reed writes, all was not well. The natives were restless. Maybe it was exactly because life was so sweet, what with "Love, Poetry, Music, Theatre, Painting, Architecture, Court, Salons, Parks and Gardens, Gastronomy, Letters, Arts, Science," that people started getting all riled up. Anyway, the government was running out of money and had to go to the States General to ask for more. And that got the revolution train into high gear.

And, according to Tocqueville in The Old Regime and the Revolution the problem with the ancién régime was that it had become a dry-as-dust administrative system to which everyone was subordinate without participation and without responsibility.

Hello? Anyone see a similarity to the Obama régime?

But the truth is that nobody knows nothing. Just like Hollywood. The current regime might last 1000 years. Or it might end tomorrow. There are always malcontents, always people suffering under injustice, because government is injustice, and you never know when the pot will boil over.

All I can do is listen to my liberal friends and think about to what extent they are living in fantasy land. Obviously they believe a pack of lies. But then so do conservatives like me. And so do the Trumpkins, and so do the Black Lives Matters.

What I do believe is the one thing that we all shy away from. Eventually we and our kind are on the losing end of history. Once upon a time imperial Rome was a big city of about one million, according to La Wik. Then it contracted to a nothing. What happened to all those people? Better not to ask.

Native pre-Columbian Americans were almost completely wiped out by European diseases, principally smallpox. Their culture would have completely disappeared and been forgotten but for the faux-compassion of Indian Reservations and liberal anti-colonial politics.

What about the white working class in the US, allegedly dying of despair? What about the children of liberal academics that seem, from my personal observation, to be remarkably childless? What about the bloodletting in the Middle East? Is that a people rising to dominance, or the last flailing of a defeated culture? Fred Reed:
In the United States of today, clouds gather as the royalty toast each other with expensive wines. In numbers that a half century ago would have seemed impossible, the American young live with their parents, being unable to find jobs to support themselves. Waitressing in a good bar pays better in tips than a woman with a college degree can otherwise earn, assuming that she can earn anything at all. Employers having learned to hire them as individual contractors, they move into their thirties with no hope of a pension for their old age.
Well, is this the worst of times or the best of times? Will Uber and robots make everyone of average or less intelligence superfluous? Who knows? The story of the last 200 years has seen constant innovations that have surplussed numerous worthy occupations. The left calls it "de-skilling." And yet the world goes on.

All I can say is that if you look at the pictures of the floods in Louisiana, you see people helping each other, without regard to class, race, gender, or any other means by which politicians and activists divide people into us and them.

Good for them. Maybe there is hope after all.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Obamacare Death Spiral: Incompetence or Cunning?

This week Aetna announced that it was going to reduce its exposure to Obamacare, offering less policies on Obamacare exchanges.

So the Obamacare death spiral continues.

The question is: was this the plan all along? To crash the health care system and then announce that the only solution was to go to "single-payer." According to La Wik:
Single-payer healthcare is a system in which the state, rather than private insurers, pays for all healthcare costs.
So was this the plan all along? I must say that I doubt it. That's because I think that political people are not long-term thinkers. They are just thinking about how to do the next thing.

I'd say that the Obamacare designers probably wanted to do single-payer, but knew that they couldn't pass it in 2009. So they designed a program, according to the model of Jonathan Gruber, that kept the elephant in the room, corporate employee health plans, while laying waste to the individual health insurance market to prop up the Obamacare subsidized population. Then, I expect they said, we'll revisit it in ten years.

You can see the attraction of single-payer to the ruling class. When the government "pays for all healthcare costs" it means that the taxpayers pay for all healthcare costs. When the government pays for all healthcare costs it removes the embarrassments of co-operatives going out of business and Aetna retreating from Obamacare.

Also, of course, it means that people don't have to get good jobs with good benefits to get good healthcare. Everyone gets care according to need and pays according to means. What is not to like?

The problem is, of course, that healthcare become a similar game to education. In education the customers are not the students but the teachers and administrators and vendors. So the outcomes for students are not that important compared to the outcomes for teachers, administrators, and vendors organized to get results from politicians. The middle class get half-decent service and the poor go to the wall. Also, because the government is in charge it doesn't get the blame the way that insurance companies get the blame for health care costs today.

Of course, the trend in all government programs is to centralize and standardize and increase government control. But when control is central and administrative you get a system that is very bad at responding to peoples' needs, and very bad at adapting to changing needs and conditions.

The problem is, of course, that the government system will be designed to offer free stuff up front, and hide its costs behind a curtain. Innovation is stifled and existing powerful interests are protected.

It is telling that Obamacare was passed by filling the insurance companies' mouths with gold and risk corridors. These were the same organizations that every Democratic partisan had been excoriating for years as profit-seeking wasters. Yet the Obama administration got Obamacare passed by stitching up a deal to get insurance company buy in.

Of course it did. Yet most people drink the KoolAid that government is there to help.

No it isn't. Government is in the business of rewarding its supporters and buying the support of opponents when necessary.

What should Republicans and conservatives do about this? I suppose the answer is to provide an Amazon or Uber alternative. Something that can sidestep the existing special interests and deliver services in a new way while the special interests aren't looking. How should/could this be done? I don't have a clue, but I sure would love to see some scrappy newcomer figure out a way to do it.

Meanwhile, if I were a Democratic politician I would blame the whole Obamacare mess on the insurance companies and their obsession with profits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Politicians Will Always Mobilize People Against Danger

If you are totally frustrated by the Obama era and just can't take it any more, I have bad news for you.

Politics is never going to get any better. That's because, on my theory, politics and government are always and everywhere engaged in one thing and one thing only.

Politics and government are in the business of rallying people against an existential danger, and then leading them to make war on it and defeat it.

It's pretty obvious how this works with respect to so-called primitive tribes. They occupy land with access to food supplies and their lives depend on defending that territory against other tribes that might also want to occupy that territory and feed off its benison.

The agricultural age was no different. Each feudal lord was the master of some food-growing territory. As Hegel points out, this Master didn't actually grow any food. He was the Master that put the food-growing Slaves to work. He dominated the Slaves and took a big cut of the food in return for living under his protection. The Master was the Protector in a cold hard world.

But things changed with the growth to dominance of the exchange economy. In the old days exchange only happened with high-value objects. Basic commodities were produced, typically, by the same people that consumed them. Now that has changed. Nearly everyone now sells their labor on the labor market for money to purchase the basic commodities instead of make them at home or on the farm.

Now my idea is that a wise and compassionate elite, brimming with education and knowledge about the new exchange economy, would have helped the workers and peasants used to truckling to a lord and experiencing the market at arms length. They would have taught them how to thrive in the labor market, how to switch from a subordinate cultural role as a peasant to a responsible role as a responsible individual that goes out into the world looking for a way to contribute rather than fortifying his patch of ground against marauders.

But in fact our elite, educated as it is, has not followed that path. Starting with the Class of 1848 it has encouraged first the rising working class and then women, blacks, gays and more in the culture of victimhood, to stay as People of the Subordinate Self. It has done this by convincing all these groups that they face existential peril unless they enlist in the liberal political army.

So everything has changed with the new exchange economy and yet nothing has change, because politics is still about mobilizing against the existential foe.

All politics reflects this dynamic and always will. There is no warrant for political power and the mobilization of private resources into the service of the state unless there is an existential peril. So modern ruling classes have copied the methods of the old regime. They terrify their people with the dangers awaiting them, and they offer themselves as the only means to fight the danger.

So modern politics oscillates between fighting the dangers from external enemies -- Kaisers, Führers, Commies, Maos, and now Musliams -- and fighting the dangers from internal enemies -- capitalists, CEOs, racists, sexists, homophobes, polluters, and climate deniers.

Frankly, I'm in the camp for fighting the external enemies. Most of them really are an existential threat, although not perhaps as bad as the war party has advertised.

My problem is with the fight against capitalists, CEOs, and the rest. Sorry Charlie, but I just don't think that they are real threats to civilization as we know it. Capitalists and CEOs, properly restrained from crony deals with politicians, have raised us from $3 per day to $100 per day. Racists, sexists, and homophobes are just an excuse for the ruling class to keep their supporters anxious and frightened.

Then, of course, there is the whole menu of free stuff, from pensions to health care to education. The idea is that the average person cannot provide for themselves; only government has the resources to provide pension, health care, and education. Sorry Charlie, but I think that having the government run that stuff is the dumbest idea since bloodletting. I believe that the royal road to human dignity points towards ordinary people doing their own thing with regard to child education and old age. But what do I know?

I do think that the politics and the government of the present ruling class will go down in history as the Great Injustice, the most heartless and cruel manipulation of ordinary people of the last millennium.

That's because I think the political philosophy of our ruling class denies the ordinary person the dignity to order their lives on their own without a power-crazed activist from the Circumlocution Office breathing down their neck to teach them How Not to Do It.

The whole point of social animals is to do as much as possible without force and domination. And humans are the most social of animals. Just ask the Cajun Navy presently self-organizing to rescue people in the Louisiana floods. I wonder what Walmart is doing to help.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dear African Americans: Politics is Not the Answer to Your Problems

You can talk all you like about the failings of Donald Trump, but the riots in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, subsequent to the killing of a black suspect by a black police officer seem to speak more clearly about the state of America today.

Years ago, I read a guy that said simply that politics and laws can do something about egregious injustice and discrimination. But politics should get its nose out of moderate and light injustice and discrimination.

In other words, politics is a very blunt instrument and can't do much more than keep the peace, and then not even that all the time.

So people that put their faith in politics keep getting disappointed.

Thus, in the 1960s the race riots in major American cities began after the passage of the landmark civil rights laws.

Thus, in the 2010s the race riots in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Milwaukee began after the election of America's First Black President.

Why? Because politics and civil rights laws cannot make African Americans whole. It can make slavery and Jim Crow illegal but it cannot vault African Americans into the middle class.

You get into the middle class by changing your culture from the subordinate, resentful culture of the worker or the peasant to the responsible culture of the middle class. Not by Affirmative Action and diversity programs.

By the way, the chap killed by a cop in Milwaukee, 23-year-old Sylville Smith beat a shooting rap.
He beat a shooting rap at a jury trial in 2015 when a witness recanted, allegedly after Smith intimidated him. 
This is what Jill Leovy recounts in Ghettoside. Cops can't get a conviction on murders, because of witness intimidation. So they arrest the bad guys, that everybody knows who done it, for minor violations where they can be convicted on the testimony of a police officer.

I was on a jury years ago where a black suspect was tried for some minor offence purely on the testimony of two police officers. During jury deliberations the five white jurors were all quiet until the sole black woman on the 6-person jury announced for conviction. Then we followed her lead and voted for conviction.

If you want to step out into the modern world of global exchange and of trusting anyone who demonstrates trustworthiness then you must step out of your tribal enclave. You cannot sit there ready to strike out at the tribe over the hill or in the next urban gang territory. You have to declare for peace and base your public life on the principle of serving others before you serve yourself. And the first thing you do is stop listening to the politicians and activists that tell you that the answer to your problems is force: against the police, against the bosses, against the 1%.

Maybe, after the disappointment of the civil rights revolution, and after the disappointment of the First Black President, and after inner-city African Americans have burned down their cities again, our African American friends will give up on the false promise of politics and just pitch in and become Americans who happen to be black.

But that is the way of humans, and of the United States. We only do the right thing after trying all the alternatives.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Republican Rebirth: Is It That Simple?

Jon Gabriel is the guy with the evergreen tweet: "My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing." He's head of Ricochet.

Now he has written that the Republican base has burned the party down and given it to a guy that isn't a conservative, let alone a Republican.

OK, pal, but what do you propose?
It will take an army of forward-thinking leaders to build a party that welcomes conservatives — an army motivated by clear ideas and concrete action. Unlike the recommendations of the 2012 autopsy, what’s needed is not a Beltway-centric push for round 932 of comprehensive immigration reform, but a full-spectrum return to the small-R republican ideals this nation was founded upon.
Now, I would say that the problem Republicans and conservatives have faced over the 25 years since the end of Reagan is that there just aren't enough people in America that believe in the small-R republican ideals this country was founded upon.

I'd say that the Republican debacle occurred because party leaders understood that small-government politics only gets you so far. Until you start talking about reforming Social Security around people that have been paying payroll taxes for the past 30 years. Until you start talking to sixtyish women with end-of-life mothers. Until you start talking to parents getting "free" education for their children. Then you are out to lunch because people are not ready to give up on Social Security, Medicare, and government education.

People will not give up on their Precious. Not yet.

On the other hand far too many people think about politics as a rational discussion of the issues. It is not. Modern politics is about the anger of the dispossessed against the power of the ruling class.

When the dispossessed get angry about the injustice they experience (real or imagined, it doesn't matter) they act on their anger. So the white working class is burning down the Republican Party. Just as Black Lives Matter is burning down the cities. Both groups are mad as hell and they are not going to take it any more.

Now you can say to the white working class: Sorry chum, but the good old days of good jobs at good wages are over. Today you have to hustle for a buck. It's a global world and you have to figure out how to thrive in it. On. Your. Own. Your problem ain't gonna be solved by some chap promising to bring jobs to you, or to punish the Chinese or evil corporations outsourcing. But a politician cannot get votes by telling people the facts of life. He gets votes by telling people what they want to hear.

Now you can say to African Americans: sorry homeys, but the First Black President ain't gonna solve your problems. In fact all the civil rights and diversity in the world is not going to do it for you, not after the blatant Jim Crow laws have been washed away. It's a cold hard whiteboy world out there, whether the white boys are actual white racist cops killing homeboys or South Asians pouring into Amazon or East Asians taking all the places at Caltech. But a politician cannot get votes by telling people the facts of life. He gets votes by telling people what they want to know.

And so on.

That is why the world doesn't go from sensible reform to sensible reform, but lurches instead from revolution to conquest to disaster. People get angry and decide to burn the place down rather than compose their differences.

But usually burning the place down doesn't help, except by hastening the end. So the Ghost Shirt movement in the western plains didn't save the Plains Indians. So the Boxers didn't save China from the western imperialists. So the Bolsheviks didn't make a better Russia.

The Maoists burned down China, just to make it fair. But now China is exploding with economic growth, now that the Commies are permitting consensual capitalist acts between adults. Hmm, what a concept.

I don't like this. I don't think it ought to be that the way to solve the problems of a nation is to burn the old ways to the ground and then start to build, and finally succeed after a couple of failed tries.

Nobody wants to hear that, least of all voters at election time.

So, assuming that Donald Trump goes down to defeat, as "everyone" expects, we won't rebuild the party with a bunch of "forward-looking thinkers." It ain't gonna be that easy.

Before a new party can be built on the ruins of the old many conceits and hopes will have to be ground into dust. Only when people give up keeping their Precious will we be ready for a rebirth of freedom.

And frankly I don't have a clue what the new Republican Party will look like.

Friday, August 12, 2016

"I Would 'Twere Bedtime, and All Well"

This season conservatives feel like we are staring into the abyss. And there's a temptation to wish it all away, and say, as Falstaff said to Prince Hal right before the battle: "I would 'twere bedtime, Hal, and all well."

It's a real temptation. To wish it all over. Think about it. The Republican base is angry. The white working class has come storming into the GOP with Trump. African Americans are angry that the First Black President turned out to be a complete bust. Feminists are determined to wipe out the rapists and the patriarchs. Gays are determined to wipe out the haters. Liberals are determined to stand against the xenophobes.

We moderns and globalists have a myth that everything can be resolved by rational discussion and the scientific advice of the experts. Alas, the experts are the bribed apologists of some special interest. And nobody can ever agree on the rational response to the current crisis.

So everything has to be determined by anger and force. This is hard to understand, but that is the way it has always been. in War Before Civilization the primitive tribes ran constant border wars featuring raids and massacres, but they didn't experience it as a rational way to maintain the borders and food supplies. Their wars were "caused" by cross-border insults, or the wrath of the gods.

So it is with us. We have our wars, that used to be about princely honor, then about national honor, and now about wars to save the world from fascism, communism, Islamism. That's when we are not fighting to save the world from environmental degradation, the ozone hole, or climate change.

And our local wars, that used to be between the king and his barons -- that's what Falstaff and Prince Hal were doing -- are now about class wars, race wars, and the various wars led by our modern barons of activism on behalf of marginalized people everywhere.

My point is that all the angry people here in the US want the government to put its thumb on the scales of justice for their benefit. The Republican base wants -- yes what do we want, exactly, beyond fighting back against Obama? The white working class wants the good old days of "good jobs at good wages" for graduating from high school, which are gone forever. African Americans want -- yes what do they want? We know what the elite Marxist lefty Black Lives Matter wants, but that will lead to nothing but misery. And African Americans got civil rights half a century ago. Feminists? They got what they want decades ago, only what they wanted didn't really pan out, so now they want more of it. Gender benders? They are swinging a lot of elite cultural weight but none of it will make them happy, because to get off the main stream of ordinary human sexual reproduction is to descend into a maelstrom of misery.

We conservatives can see, after a Trump failure, a Supreme Court that will roll back the First Amendment and make it illegal to criticize the Clintons and roll back the Second Amendment to make it illegal to protect your family. And more big government solutions to health care and education that will only make things worse.

But really, that's the way the world works. It doesn't get fixed by rational discussion and the timely advice of the experts. The world works with one mess followed by another.

We conservatives like to think that with some sensible reform and roll-back of big government excess we can return to a bourgeois world of responsible cooperation. We have been rehearsing this dream for half a century and more, but really, the world doesn't work like that. Instead the big government model will go on from one lurch to another until the whole thing collapses. And then something will emerge out of the ruins that nobody expected or planned for, something that completely confounds the experts and the activists.

Sorry, Jack Falstaff. Your hope for a quick fix and home by bedtime is not the way the world works. It is always much messier than that.

And we had better get used to the world as it really is.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Do You Want Your Corporate Employer to Pay More Taxes?

Aside from the the fun and games about whether Donald Trump told gun owners to cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war, there is the difference in economic policy between Trump and Clinton.

Trump has just released an economic plan that calls for a reduction in corporate income taxes to 15% -- although it sounds a bit more complicated than that.

This is probably a no idea. Most other first world nations have a corporate income tax rate more like 15% while the nominal rate in the US is 35% for federal corporate income tax.

Hillary Clinton claims that Trump's plan is "tax breaks for corporations."

I'd say that this is an argument we need to have, on the merits. Do the American people want corporations to be tax farmed by government or do they want corporations to be lightly taxed so they can make more money, create more jobs and pay their employees more?

Now maybe Donald Trump can make that argument or maybe he can't. But the science is settled. The Great Enrichment of the last 200 years occurred because of innovations that government failed to smother in their cradles.

The idea put out by progressives that government should pick winners and losers and fight inequality is economic rubbish. Everywhere that equality politics has been practiced it has resulted in more inequality. That's because whatever government says it is doing, or thinks it is doing, it always ends up rewarding its supporters. And that means that the supporters have to pay less attention to what the market is telling them to do in the way of producing for the consumers and more attention to what government is telling them in the way of signing up for free stuff.

The basic fact of our economic system is that government has succeeded beyond the dreams of the 1848 radicals in using corporations as government ATMs and tax collectors. And the corporate income tax is the least of it. Right now, in FY 2016 government, federal, state, and local, is collecting about 11 percent of GDP in individual income taxes and 10 percent GDP in social insurance taxes like the federal FICA tax. Nearly all of that money is stripped off the wages of US workers by deductions from worker paychecks. In other words the government uses employers as tax collectors to strip workers of about 20 percent of their wages before they even see the money.

By the way, the corporate income tax, federal and state, comes in at about 1.9 percent of GDP.

Now just imagine that the 20 percent GDP was not conveniently collected by employers for the government and was paid directly once a year to the government by taxpayers. What do you think would happen? I must admit that I just can't imagine. And I don't want to say what I think might happen because Democratic operatives with bylines might suggest that I am inciting violence and I wouldn't like that.

If you want to get mad at corporations why don't you get mad at them for acting as the government's tax collectors, where they are creaming 20 percent off the top to give to government. Because the 1.9 percent that they are paying in corporate income tax is just penny-ante stuff. But it sure keeps a lot of lobbyists trying to buy loopholes from the politicians.

I say let's abolish the corporate income tax and pray for jobs. That is certainly a lot more rational that electing Hillary Clinton, the crony capitalist enabler, and hoping for better times.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mob vs. Snob: Let's See If I Understand This

Back in the post revolutionary period, writes Peter Lee, Alexander Hamilton was the guy that saw a critical need for the young United States. He needed to keep the loyalty of the economic elite bound to the new United States. After all, the rebellion of the colonies was based on the merchant elite becoming separated from the British homeland, and not backing the Brits 100% in the Revolutionary War.

Lee calls Hamilton's policy Mob vs. Snob.

So Hamilton's economic policy, from the Feds picking up the state debts at par to the Bank of the United States and the industrial policy, put the US government and the rich together like bacon and eggs.

It was the division of the southern and northern elites that led to the secession of the southern states, so that it took a Civil War force the southern states back into the Union.

These days the elite doesn't worry so much about secession as about runaway white populism. So the elite has formed an over-under coalition with non-white groups to form a united front against the disaffected middle class whites.

That's why the liberal elites have suddenly warmed to Hamilton, according to Lee. It was Hamilton that led the US forces against post-revolution rebellions like Shay's Rebellion. This was the elite putting down a troublesome mob.

A guy like that suddenly looks attractive to a liberal elite alarmed by the Tea Party and "Lumpenführer" Trump. Hey, the GOP elite thought that Hispanic-friendly Rubio, Bush, and Cruz would square the circle between Hispanics and whites. Instead they failed and:
White power, as I put it, was left lying in the streets…and Donald Trump picked it up.
Oops! That wasn't supposed to happen. It has scrambled the Baldrick's Cunning Plan of the US elite and reversed, at least for a moment, the elite plan to let the white working class die of despair while the elite bought the support of the rising non-white groups with pretty baubles while keeping its power and wealth and influence safe from the stirrings of white rebellion.

So that is why the elite wants to revive Hamilton's Mob vs. Snob politics on the theory that it should make the annoying Trumpian mob go away.

But there is a problem. The elite politics of Hamilton was founded on Hamilton's genius. He had worked in the world; he had seen a war financed; he knew about Dutch finance and how to tend to the health of the state.

But our current elite is soft and foolish. It sought to teach the Middle East a lesson and yet threw away its victory; it set on a foolish real-estate boom and bust based upon a faulty credit policy of insufficient collateral and unsound borrowers. It has failed to heal the economy broken on its cheap money policies. And yet, having "barely contained disaster for the last two decades," it dares to sneer at the populism of Donald Trump. These are latecomer fans of Hamilton that do not understand Hamilton.

The success of Hamilton's policy was that his fiscal bounty for the elite ended up enriching the common man as the sound state finance of his system turned the United States into an economic powerhouse.

The failure of today's elite is that its condominium with the financial elite is not the simple windfall of Hamilton's national debt that energized the whole economy. This new deal is more the protection policy of the criminal gang. Support us and our welfare state and identity politics if you know what is good for you. That is the message for the Warren Buffets and the techno billionaires, and nobody has got the message better than PayPal billionaire Elon Musk. He has built a crony-capitalist empire with NASA-assisted SpaceX and climate-focused and subsidized Tesla.

No wonder the middle middle class is getting restless.

The only question is whether there is a real Hamilton waiting in the wings with the magic potion ready to administer to the national patient and revive its flagging spirits with a new financial and political concoction, and whether Donald Trump would know him if he saw him.

For after all, everyone was amazed when Hamilton's system blew wind into the sails of the good ship United States and set it off on a prosperous voyage for 200 years. Would today's wise men recognize a Hamiltonian genius if he walked onto the national stage?

When Ronald Reagan strode onto the national stage 36 years ago the elite knew exactly what to think. He was an "amiable dunce," and a "bellicose Cold War cowboy."  Yet he was the guy that ended the "stagflation"of the 1970s and won the Cold War without firing a shot.

It isn't clear that the elite has learned anything useful in the last 36 years. Yet it still claims the right to rule.

Let us hope that God still looks after drunks, fools, and the United States of America.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Progressive Culture vs. Conservative Politics

In National Review David French makes the point that conservatives have made a decent fist of politics, but  have failed in the culture wars. Yes, the SJWs are a pest, snarling at everyone in the public square.
But the most effective progressives also happen to be among the friendliest, most engaging people you’ll meet. Even apolitical colleagues find their idealism infectious.

That’s how you get local bar associations celebrating Earth Day, or third-grade classes doing a whole semester’s worth of art projects on climate change, or corporate HR departments running extended, celebratory profiles of transgender employees. It’s the agenda, always and everywhere.
Well, yes, but.

The problem is that conservatives, or people of a conservative persuasion, do not experience their culture as a world-saving movement. We do not expect to transform the world with our conservatism. But the progressives do. They believe in saving the planet as a moral necessity. They believe that what we do to transgenders right now is hate. And they are driven to transform the world to make it safe and ethical.

Indeed the whole point of conservatism, going back to Burke, is the turn away from the idea of culture or religion or politics having a use in healing the world. The conservative idea is to heal yourself, and let the rest of the world learn from your example. The whole point of limited government is to limit the ability of government to embark on millenniarian crusades like saving the world with environmentalism and climate change.

French ends his piece with a theme from The Shawshank Redemption, the idea of "get busy living, or get busy dying." Yes, that certainly applies at the personal level. But what about at the cultural level?

The fact is that conservatives are not cultural innovators. We are the people of the responsible self and what we do is live ordinary lives that do not try to scale the heights. So the limit of what can be expected of us is to doggedly keep on living and resisting the attempts of liberals to marginalize and oppress us.

It is from the ranks of the people of the creative self that we should hope for a cultural movement away from cultural Marxism and its totalitarian combination of culture and politics.

And maybe the only way to get beyond progressive culture is for progressive culture to win and impose its totalitarian ways upon the American people so that, at some point, a genuine movement, not just of rejection but of affirmation, arises.

This movement of creative culture would start by rejecting and marginalizing the petty nabobs of progressive culture. But then it would start to celebrate something higher and better, and it would not try to do it with totalitarian methods learned from the then-modern equivalent of the Frankfurt School and Herbert Marcuse.

This movement would rediscover my catchphrases. It would understand that government is force, and government spawns injustice with its force. So it would want to dial down government. It would recognize that politics is fighting and division, and a true creative culture could not thrive if it was based on a political movement to conquer and divide. So it would want to dial down politics. And it would understand that system is domination, and any bureaucratic system, governmental or corporate, is essentially trying to put humans into a straitjacket. So it would want to dial down big systems.

For two hundred years, conservatives have been saying that progressive enthusiasm leads to the gallows, just like the French Revolution. But progressive enthusiasts keep coming up with the idea that This Time is Different.

We are not going to solve the progressive problem by naming and shaming the progressives as they always do for us. We are not going to solve the progressive problem when the progressives wake up from their progressive dream. Because that is something they will never do.

We must wait and hope for a new movement, a new generation like the generation of 1848 that rejected the culture of their fathers and dreamed a dream of a new world. We wait for a generation that will reject the progressive dream as a nightmare, and start to build something new finally free of the stupidity of imagining that you can build the future on the basis of force and political will.

Monday, August 8, 2016

White Privilege or White Lights-Out?

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal doesn't like the idea that Donald Trump is turning the Republican Party into a "white privilege" party.

Of course, he has a point. Donald Trump has galvanized the white working class that, according to the Washington Post, is dying of despair.

It started 50 years ago when the Democratic Party stopped being a white working-class privilege party, with union-enabling laws and social benefits for the working class, and became a race-and-gender party, pushing privilege for blacks and women with Affirmative Action, now rebranded "diversity."

And working-class whites don't like it. Here they were, the darling "working stiffs" of the FDRs and the HSTs, praised and boosted by everyone. Now the white working class is about as out of favor as white Christian conservatives or white hillbillies in Appalachia as far as the ruling class is concerned.

But "white privilege?"

Of course, nobody really knows what "white privilege" means. Its purpose is to be a left-wing pejorative that can be used to shut people up that don't agree with the liberal ruling class.

And this game has been going on, as I like to say, since Norman Lear invented Archie Bunker, the working-class white, as the poster boy for racism, sexism, and bigotry -- and "white privilege," although nobody had invented the phrase back in 1971. Or if they had, it was locked away in a drawer at Liberal HQ waiting for the right moment to be mobilized and deployed onto the front line of the political wars.

Now, I happen to think that the white working class is wrong. It's not going to be revived by Trump politics that beats up on corporations that send jobs overseas. Or that beats up on Mexico and China.

Although I do think that a sensible, limited immigration policy with no nullification for liberal sanctuary cities wouldn't hurt.

My line is that our glorious Great Enrichment is based on ruthless innovation, coming up with new ideas for products and services. And the one thing that makes it all work is to stop the government from stopping innovation by protecting the taxicab cartel from Uber or the hotel cartel from AirBnB. Etcetera.

But the Great Enrichment means that everywhere, all the time, people are finding that their skills are losing value. There is no safe harbor, no guarantee of a job for life. Not unless you have access to the sweet use of government force.

It's natural that people would try to get the government to beat up on the emerging competition. That's the natural instinct of humans facing a threat since the dawn of time.

But our modern economy is based on the idea that you don't fight the market. Because the market is the collective will of millions of producers and consumers, far more authentic and honest than the lying words of politicians and activists.

So yes. Trump does represent "white privilege." Just as Obama represents black privilege, using government force to privilege African Americans. And Clinton represents female privilege, using government force to privilege female Americans.

And their supporters are all asking for something that they should be not asking for. They want government to put its thumb on the scales of justice to favor them and their kind.

And that is wrong. Whether the white working class does it or liberal SJWs do it, or anyone else does it.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Trump is Finished, says the Smart Set

I always use Peggy Noonan as the bellwether of received elite opinion. She always knows where the middle is.

So, Peggy's column this week in The Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump is written off as finished. Peggy is probably right. Unless she isn't.

Then there is my friend that says she had a dream about Donald Trump and he seemed like a nice man.

All I know is that liberals seem to be in a hurry, pushing their power with executive action and regulations and "Dear Colleague" letters as if there was no tomorrow. Why are they in such a hurry?

So what does it all mean? The simple answer is that We Don't Know. All we know is the ruling class is facing a bit of a headwind on its legitimacy. Peggy Noonan writes that "there has been zero reflection on the part of Republican leaders on how much the base’s views differ from theirs and what to do about it." And she is right.

But what about the Democratic Party and its base? The answer is, of course, that the Democratic base's views never get a word in edgeways, if you mean blacks, Hispanics, single women, and young people. The Democratic Party, like the left since 1848, is a cadre of the intellectual elite. It wants to divert the development of the world from embourgoisment to its cult of the creative. It does not like the idea of a responsible people in the city working to make products and services for other people. It wants to create a world fit for cultural creatives to live in, and anyone that disagrees is a racist, sexist bigot.

Because this is a policy of conquest it can only end in victory or defeat. Either we the people will succumb to this secular establishment of religion enforced by the government's men with guns, or we the people will rebel and destroy it.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is an imperfect vehicle for a movement of rebellion. Except for one thing: he has shown that you can break the taboos of political correctness and live to tell the tale.

But author Sarah Hoyt tells us the real story. We are living through a period in history where we are seeing the "factors contributing to" the 'causes leading to' before the map gets all arrowy and scary." In other words this is not the beginning of the end; it is not even the end of the beginning. We are at the beginning of the beginning of the end of the post-World War II world. And that means that you need to be alert and connected and flexible and ready for the unexpected and the unanticipated.

In other words, don't be a "little darling" of the ruling class. It never ends well for the little darlings of the ruling class.

And that, for me, is the one little problem with the enthusiasts for Donald Trump. No politician is going to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. Not Reagan, not Trump, and not Clinton. Politics always ends in tears. I look at the faces behind Trump at a Trump rally and see ordinary middle-class Americans. But Trump is not going to solve their problems.

But how do we solve our problems? It's a problem, because that the only way to dry the tears of yesterday's politics is with the heat of more politics, or the politics-by-other-means of civil war.

And whether or not Trump is finished, the extralegal governance of our liberal ruling class is going to throw up another Trump, because government is injustice and the more government, the more injustice.

And the more injustice, the more chance of rebellion.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Used to be that Men were Fighters and Women were Lovers

I just woke up in the middle of the night and realized, again, how topsy-turvy this world has become.

We all know that men are fighters and women are lovers. That's the way it is because in the good old days men defended the borders from the tribe next door and the women grew the food and raised the children.

Of course, in our modern era very few men are needed to be warriors; that's because the modern nation state is much bigger than the old hunter-gatherer or horticultural tribe, and its borders are miles away from the average person. Only a few specialized warriors are needed to protect the people from enemies foreign and domestic.

So men have had to change. Instead of being actual warriors, or even obedient soldiers, they are now "road warriors" and the obedient rank-and file in the factory or the office. So nothing has changed.

Now, also, women's lives are no longer completely consumed by growing gardens and birthing the four or so children that were needed to fledge a couple of children out of the nest. Nor are women dying like they used to in childbirth. So women have gone to work in the labor force, like men. They have tended to gravitate towards work that suits a woman's temperament: jobs with lots of human interaction and jobs caring for people in health care and such.

But some people aren't satisfied with this. They want women to be fighters and men to be lovers.

And so we have the notion of women fighting to take their place in the corporate suite, "breaking the glass ceiling" and stuff. And we have the notion floated by the gay mafia of "love conquers hate." I suppose it makes sense, because gays, in my personal experience, tend to prefer a life with a little less fighting and a little more caring.

And of course because liberals run the culture we are being forced to celebrate the idea of women as fighters and men as lovers. But this is rubbish.

Let us allow the camel's nose under the tent. In our modern world, it is not essential that all men be fighters and all women be lovers and carers. We don't need every man ready to run to the borders to stop the latest raid from the next tribe over. And we don't need every woman as a baby-making machine making up for all the perils of child-birth and child-raising in the dangerous world where, for example, a chimp might grab hold of your little brother while you weren't looking. We can afford to have men getting into loving, even getting out of heterosexual relationships and preferring the childless life of artistical black in the local artist district. And we can deal with women that want to step out into the world of business and its simulation of actual combat in the fight for market share.

Let's face it; men make lousy lovers. And women make lousy fighters. And I don't think it would be a very good idea if too many people started trying to do something they are not good at.

Back when I was working for an engineering firm I was put on a committee, in 1990, to recommend a corporate data network. But I found pretty quickly that I had to get up pretty early in the morning to deal with the top exec who chaired the committee. He was a real energy bunny and could beat me on just about anything. So I decided that I would just try and have my way on one issue, rather than oppose him across the board.

Play to your strengths, or you might lose everything.

Now I regard the present fashion to explore multiple gender identities as merely part of the whole culture of the People of the Creative Self. In this culture young people are expected to be creative, to break out of the mold and imagine something that nobody else has thought or done. Peter Thiel's interview question encapsulates this perfectly: What do you know that other people think isn't so? Do you have the germ of a creative idea, or the personality that can deal with being creative and breaking the mold?

It needs to be said that very, very few people have the chops to do this. They can, for sure, go with some fad or enthusiasm, join a movement that advertises itself as revolutionary and iconoclastic. But very few people have the courage -- and the anti-social chops -- to do something really different and hold out against the whole world. Take the guy that invented pseudo-random carrier data communications. The physicists said it was impossible. Imagine going against the physicists! But now every cellphone uses this technology.

So we have to accept that much of what is considered creative and iconoclastic is nothing like. It is conceit masquerading as creativity. But that's OK. We humans are social animals; we go with the herd.

What I find very hard to take is that the People of the Creative Self insist that their crowd-following culture is creative. No it isn't. Not when you are not allowed to criticize the creatives. Not when anyone that disagrees with the People of the Creative Self is silenced as a racist, sexist homophobe. That is not creativity; that is just bullying.

The way to be creative is to play to your strengths, and not to listen to the crowd. If you are running with the crowd, you are probably not being creative.

And the truth is that if you are a man, your creative side will probably have something to do with fighting; if you are a woman, your creative side will probably have something to do with loving.

Just saying.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Do the Rich Control the Politicians?

It is a received notion that ever since the dawn of capitalism "the rich" have had their way with things. They can exploit workers, bribe politicians, and as for women...

Of course banks and merchants have been in bed with politicians since the birth of the nation state. That's because kings and presidents need money and credit for their armies and navies, and trade needs protection from predators and pirates.

But when the Great Enrichment got properly started 200 years ago the notable fact was that the innovative businessmen that created the new products, from cheap cotton textiles to railways and oil, were not that interested in power.

When they were done with their businesses they went into philanthropy, even the notorious railroad baron Jay Gould. Today we can say that nothing has changed except that now no billionaire worth his salt is without his very own space program.

So it is really not surprising, when reading the hacked DNC emails, to learn that the political donors and bundlers are not giving in order to control the politicians. Oh no; their needs are much more modest. All they want is a bit of stroking, and to hear from a politician that he really likes their ideas.

Here's a donor wondering if she qualifies for elite status, "the premium package of hotel rooms and V.I.P. invitations at the party’s convention in Philadelphia." But what she really wanted "was getting access to an exclusive November gathering at the White House."

Walter Russell Mead comments that this is, in a way, encouraging. People are "willing to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns if politicians and staff will pretend to take them seriously, even for a few minutes at a time."

I suppose it must be a bit humiliating to have made millions and billions in business and realize that you are nothing to the people with political power. You realize that business success is nothing to the power of the men and women that command the men with guns. So you try to get their attention with your money.

You realize what a stunning achievement it has been for the politicians, from Marx on down, to direct the rage of the workers against their employers.

Not only do politicians milk business with taxes on everything and also milk them for contributions, but they the politicians turn around and convince the average Joe and Jane that the businessmen that employ them and pay their wages are, in fact, scoundrels!

But we shouldn't be surprised. All the politicians are doing is activating the age old rage against the tribe on the other side of the mountain, and touching off the instinct in every young man for loot and plunder. What could be easier, or more effective?

And if, after a generation of "pro-labor" legislation the big manufacturers start to go out of business as their over-paid workers and their subsidized products no longer cut it on the world markets, why that is the fault of greedy corporations and their overpaid CEOs as well. It has nothing to do with crafty politicians that forced the corporations to give wages that were too high, and benefits like defined benefit pensions that assumed that corporate profits would go on forever.

I wonder if the voters will ever tumble to the idea that the politicians have screwed them left and right and that their employers are practically saints for working day and night to make sure that their employees have a job over their heads.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Only Program Government Knows How to Cut is Defense

I've been staring at my charts on usgovernmentspending.com for a while now. And now I can tell you what they say.

They say that government is a dab hand at wars. It can crank up defense spending into the stratosphere, cover the oceans with ships and the the sky with aluminum. It can rout out the Kaiser and the Führer.

And then it can unwind the whole thing and send the surviving kids back to college and work and wiving and thriving. Look at the chart below.
But do you know something about that chart? It shows us that government seems to be constitutionally unable to say: you know what, this government child-custodial facility thing just isn't doing the job. It was a good idea while it lasted, but now it is time to give the whole thing back to the private sector. For the children. We'll create a Teachers Veterans Administration (TVA!) to take care of the demobilized teachers, and treat their post traumatic stress disorder, but failure is failure, and we don't believe in reinforcing failure.

Yeah. That graf reads like utter folly. Who would dare to propose that we shut down the entire government education system? And yet, what good is it doing? It does a fair to middling job of educating the children of the middle class. That's because the middle class insists on it. But it is utterly failing to educate the children of the poor, and we know why. On the one hand, most people in the inner city think of education as a jobs program. And then schools are forbidden to discipline minority youths, because disparate impact.

The same applies to all the big government programs. Social Security? Imagine the economic growth if people were saving at Fidelity and Vanguard instead of sending money direct to grandpa, do not pass go. Medicare? Imagine the economic growth if middle-class women were saving for end-of-life care, and imagine the health care prices if grandma was bargain-hunting for health care the way that she bargain hunts for deals at Stein Mart.

And welfare? How about bullying the 1% to "give a little more" the way we presently suggest tax increases on the wealthy and Wall Street.

I know. This is all pie-in-the-sky until the whole system collapses and maybe not even then. Government is an armed minority occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants to reward its supporters with free stuff. It will be ever thus.

But the one thing government cannot do, is too afraid to do, is to cut spending when it runs out of money. Greece didn't have the balls to cut all the goodies to pensioners and university freeloaders. Venezuela has let the economy collapse rather than tell its supporters to hike it up and accept less free stuff from the state.

So I propose a new catchphrase for government. If you can't turn it off, don't turn it on. Don't start a program of new delicious free stuff unless you have the balls to turn it off when the nation can't afford it.

In fact, it is pretty obvious that the only thing that government can turn off is its war machine. Government is pretty good at ramping up spending for a war, and OK at paying for it without wrecking the economy. And it is pretty good at cutting spending to the bone when the war is over, provided it doesn't try to deflate to restore its inflated currency to the pre-war parity.

So I say that until government can show that it can cut spending on social programs as easily as it can cut defense, there should be no more social spending. This proposal is just common sense. Social spending is nice, and makes us feel that we are helping the poor. But there is one thing worse than not helping the poor, and that is going Greek or Venezuelan. When the poor are in danger of starving to death.