Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sen. Schumer announces War on Seniors

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has come out and told Republicans to put Medicare reform where the sun don’t shine.

Schumer was criticizing the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. In a mild statement, he said “It’s clear that Washington Republicans are plotting a war on seniors next year.”

Wait! I thought that kind of rhetoric was considered to be exclusionary and divisive! Almost as divisive as President-elect Trump saying that people should be put in jail for burning the flag.

But then there is the Ohio State axe-man Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a legal immigrant from Somalia. He was forced to act because of Islamophobia.

Just saying, but could there be a problem with liberals running around accusing conservatives and Republicans of various “phobias?” Could they be riling up simple-minded young people to imagine themselves as helpless victims and provoke them to acts of violence?

And by the way, when you talk about “phobias” -- homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia -- you are implying that the people in question are sick; you are medicalizing a political disagreement. And that means that you are one step away from putting your political opponents into a sanatorium for psychiatric treatment, just like the Soviets used to do.

But back to Chuck Schumer. He doesn’t like that the Republicans, under Reps. Ryan and Price, want to “privatize” Medicare. Says Chuck:
Between this nomination of an avowed Medicare opponent, and the House Republicans threatening to privatize Medicare, it is clear that Washinton Republicans are plotting a War in Seniors next year.
I was reading some pundit the other day who noted that while House Republicans like Paul Ryan want to reform the senior entitlements they are wrong to advance these reforms until Democrats are willing to sign on. President-elect Trump is opposed to Social Security reform.

I agree. It is useless to propose reform of entitlements until Democrats are on board.

But I do wonder about the Democrats. Don’t they understand that down the road the entitlements will run out of money, and that in the ensuing Venezuela-like debacle minorities and women will be hardest hit?

And here is another idea. Maybe I shouldn’t advertise it, because it might give people ideas.

If you go to usgovernmentspending.com you will see that Government Pensions and Government Healthcare add up to 42 percent of government spending. Imagine that we privatized the middle-class portion of that, and let’s imagine that the remaining program would be the same as the current welfare budget of 7 percent of spending.

Do you see what that means? It means that 35 percent of the current spending would be available for lovely new programs!

According to economist Milton Friedman all governments tax as much as they can get away with. I imagine that they spend as much as they can without wrecking the economy right away. So if Republicans succeeded in privatizing Social Security and Medicare they would also free up fiscal space for other programs.

And that would be a bad idea until the day that Americans decide that the current rate of spending at 36 percent of GDP and the current rate of taxation at 37 percent of GDP are both outrages and not to be endured.

People don’t seem to realize that when the government taxes the nation at 37 percent of GDP it means that the government is taking 37 cents of every dollar that people earn and spending it on its supporters, without regard to whether the money is better spent on government supporters rather than goods and services for consumers.

Or maybe they do know, and they like it, as long as they get a cut.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What is the Common Denominator of the New Right?

The news is just in that François Fillon will be the presidential candidate of the center-right Republican Party in the elections in France in 2017.
He is proposing dramatic economic reforms that include slashing 500,000 public jobs, ending the 35-hour week, raising the retirement age and scrapping the wealth tax.
But the Front National, the party of Marine Le Pen, is not having any of that. It wants to keep all the social benefits. That way she
can emulate Donald Trump’s winning strategy by posing as an economic nationalist, the stalwart defender of French workers against a culturally alien “global elite” of capitalists and financiers.
In Britain, the UKIP started out as a fairly libertarian party, but has since veered towards appealing to the white working class with support for traditional welfare state benefits like the National Health Service.

So really, we are seeing the emergence of a New Right that supports the good old working class welfare state benefits and is nationalist in tone.

You might even call it national socialist.

And of course national socialist is bad, bad bad. Fascism, in fact, as every liberal has been carefully taught.

This takes us back to the 1920s and 1930s and the basic political fact decided by World War I.

World War I demonstrated that the workers were patriots and members of nation states before they were workers. So when the social democratic parties seemed to fail in the 1920s they began to support parties that combined patriotism and worker rights. Nationalism and Socialism.

Oh no! So after World War II the educated and evolved elites were determined that national socialism would never rear its ugly head again. Hence the United States and the European Union. Wise, evolved leaders would ensure that the workers never again would empower radical fascists like Hitler and Mussolini.

What they failed to understand was that the workers voted for Hitler and Mussolini because the wise, evolved leaders had failed to lead their countries into green sunlit uplands with good jobs at good wages. Instead they had plunged the world into a Great Depression.

Just like the present era. It ain't as bad as the Great Depression, but the Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession have revealed that today's wise evolved global elite doesn't have a clue. Just like the wise, evolved elite of the interwar era.

And the average working person wants a strong leader to solve the lingering economic problems of the Obama era, but doesn't see why he or she should give up any of the social benefits, for which he and she have paid big-time payroll taxes all their working lives.

Now my view, as a libertarian conservative, is that the wise, evolved elite should never have bribed the working class with government benefits. They should have left the labor unions and the mutual-aid associations of the 19th century to continue to provide social benefits to their members. They should have encouraged the workers to move up out of working class identity into the broad, responsible middle class. They should have kept a hard money policy, and never succumbed to the temptation of crony capitalism.

But they didn't.

And worse, they took over a new form of identity politics from the neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt School. Whereas Marx had recommended an identity politics of class based on the idea that the workers were horribly exploited and oppressed, the Frankfurters proposed that blacks and women and colonized peoples were the real victims of exploitation and oppression.

It's been great for the wise, evolved elite. Their new identity politics has yielded votes and political and cultural power.

Eventually the workers were bound to get pissed off with this. Because after all, they were supposed to be the little darlings of the wise, educated elite.

And so here we are back to the 1930s, with nationalist social-welfare parties starting to move to the fore.

Who could have foreseen it?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Remember, The Left's First Promise Was to Improve the Worker's Quality of Life

I am going through a set of videos on philosophy that were shown on the BBC in the 1970s and 1980s. They were hosted by a guy called Bryan Magee, who was born worrying about philosophical problems.

The first set of videos are with Uncle Herbie, Herbert Marcuse, an unreconstructed leftie and member of the Frankfurt School. He complains, in session #4 at 1:20, about the modern era (in the 1970s).
What has gone wrong with western civilization? At the height of technical progress we see the opposite as far as human progress is concerned: dehumanization, brutalization, torture as a normal means of interrogation, the wasteful development of nuclear energy, destructiveness everywhere and so on.
And, according to Marcuse, whatever its problems, many "concepts of Marx have been decisively corroborated in the development of capitalism:"
the concentration of economic power, the fusion of economic and political power, the increasing intervention of the state into the economy, the increasing difficulties in stemming the decline in the rate of profit, the need for engaging in a neo-imperialism in order to create markets and possibilities of enlarged accumulation of capital, and so on. #3 (1:30)
Yes, and then there is alienation. Here is what Marcuse has to say.
According to Marx, alienation was a socio-economic concept, and it meant, basically -- this is a very brutal abbreviation -- that under capitalism men and women could not in their work fulfill their own individual humane faculties and needs. That this was due to the capitalist mode of production itself, and could only be remedied by radically changing this mode of production. #3 (8:12)
I quote all this because I think it is radically, comically wrong. The basic fact of the last two hundred years is that capitalism, the Great Enrichment, has enabled men and women through simple wage labor to fulfill their faculties and needs in a way far beyond the dreams of avarice. That any attempt to politically or violently change the capitalist mode of production has resulted in dehumanization and brutalization. That under capitalism economic power is not concentrated, not without the assistance of government, but in fact that capitalism promotes a constant change in the dominant economic powers. That the "rate of profit" has constantly been renewed by utterly unimaginable product and technology revolutions. Etc.

The story of the last 200 years is that whenever the political elite and the ruling class tried to mess with capitalism they got it wrong, because they almost always surrendered to the age-human yearning to stop the world at noon, and precipitated misery.

The central fact of capitalism is constant revolution, "creative destruction." This is the source of its Great Enrichment, but also the source of human opposition to it. What the political elite could have done, should have done was to submit to this truth of capitalism, and teach it far and wide, while encouraging the erection of social structures to shelter people for a season when the market turns against them, as it always will in time.

When Herbert Marcuse talks about dehumanization and brutalization and torture I suppose he is thinking about lefty bêtes noires like Pinochet in Chile and the apartheid regime in South Africa. I am sure he is not talking about the evil Castro brothers in Cuba. But the fact is that dehumanization goes with big government like ham and eggs, because it allows people with political pull, be they the Communist Party nomenclatura or crony capitalists or big labor unions or environmentalist pressure groups, to use force to provide extra-market benefits and privileges; he is talking, whether he knows it or not, about the efforts of governments to mess with capitalism, to teach people that they can live without surrendering to the market, to tax the creators and spend money on the takers, and generally give people the idea that they can live by power rather than live by working every day to serve their fellow citizen in the great and prosperous market system.

The Trump election shows up the utter bankruptcy of the left. Here we have the white working class, once the darlings of the progressive ruling class, voting for a billionaire crony capitalist because... well because the progressives, that once swore that the only thing they cared about was helping the poor and the workers, had written them off as racist sexist bigots and deplorables, and because finally, after 50 years when the white working class wandered in the political wilderness, here came a candidate that said he cared about the plight of the Rust Belt that has been hollowed out by the move of manufacturing to lower-wage countries.

Of course we cannot know what would have happened without the progressive politics of the last century and more. We are where we are and we cannot undo history.

But the fact is that the fundamental promise of the left to help "men and women... in their work [to] fulfill their own individual humane faculties and needs" was a lie and a failure. Wherever the left has obtained power it has dehumanized and brutalized, and that for a simple reason, that government is force, and government is injustice, and that you can never build a perfect society by the use of force.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ding Dong, The Wicked Witch is Dead

I woke up this morning to read that the darling of the left, Fidel Castro, was dead at 90.

But even though the wicked witch is dead, it is not time to ring the church bells, because the other Castro brother is still in power, and really, when your principle of existence is power, who is going to be the one to start to dismantle the regime and the perks that go to its supporters?

The fact is that a brutal regime can continue indefinitely if it is willing to use terror. That was the lesson that Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai learned as red guerrillas in southern China in the 1930s.

How bad is it in Cuba? Well, the official stats show it doing fine, level pegging with Jamaica, and not too far behind Mexico in per-capita GDP. But, conservatives tell us, you can't believe a word of Cuba's government statistics, particularly since 70 percent of the economy is government, and a socialist government can't compute prices.

It is interesting to speculate on why the left has made such a hero of Castro over the years. Apart from his undoubted charisma and his opposition to the US, I suppose the reason is that he epitomizes the heroic ideal of Romanticism. Our lefty friends think that the highest and best meaning of life, the universe and everything is to lead the dispossessed and the marginalized to overturn the unjust rule of... of whoever. (But not a lefty regime, of course.) Lefties think of themselves either in the role of the rich kids in Les Mis, leading the people in a passionate rendering of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" or as wise top-down experts organizing a rational program of health, education and welfare. Castro played to these themes, both as a colorful revolutionary and as a man that supposedly provided free education and health care to the Cuban people.

But, of course, the Castro regime was always an economic colony, first of the Soviet Union, and recently of Venezuela. The brave revolutionary was really a puppet of other powers that liked the idea of their guy thumbing his nose at the Great Satan 60 miles from Florida.

Anyway, President Obama sent his condolences, while President-elect Trump condemned Castro as a brutal dictator and expressed his hopes for a free Cuba. So there is that.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Yes, What Should Democrats Do Now?

Helpful as ever, pundits all across the fruited plain are advising Democrats how they can win again. Ted van Dyk, in the Wall Street Journal, has a piece that manages to say nothing about what to do, except that Adlai Stevenson put a committee to work after his defeat in 1952, and so did most Democrats since.

Then there is Charles Krauthammer telling the Dems to lose the identity politics, whereas Michelle Goldberg writes that Democratic politics has to be identity politics.

But my advice to Democrats would be to go and read Charles Murray. Yes, Murray is a libertarian, but his whole life's work amounts to a critical analysis of the consequences of Democratic government programs.

Critical analysis. Remember that? It has what the left imagines it is all about, leveraging off Kant's three critiques at the end of the 18th century. That is what Marx's Das Kapital was supposed to be: a critique of capitalism using its own classical economics and subjecting it to Hegelian dialectics. That is what the Frankfurt School was all about: critical theory.

Are you up for a bit of critical theory, Democrats? Or is critical theory just a club with which to beat the bourgeoisie?

So let's go through the Murray oeuvre -- that's French for work. His first big book was Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980. Here is what the blurb on Amazon says.
This classic book... argues that the ambitious social programs of the 1960s and 1970s actually made matters worse for its supposed beneficiaries, the poor and minorities.
Murray makes the telling point that liberals instrumented their Great Society programs with social science studies to measure the inevitable success. But when the research showed that the programs hadn't helped, Democrats did nothing. Hey, Democrats! How is that welfare system doin' 50 years later in the 21st century, pal?

Murray's next big book was The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, written with Richard J. Herrnstein. Here's the Amazon blurb.
The controversial book linking intelligence to class and race in modern society, and what public policy can do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty.
Yeah. The controversy was about race. How dare racist Murray dare to write that blacks had a lower IQ and therefore were disadvantaged in a society and an economy that seemed to be self-segregating by education and IQ. Hey Democrats! Had any good ideas about race and IQ and identity lately? Oh yeah. Black Lives Matter. Rich black dudes ginning up a bit of street action.

Murray's third big book was Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. After being sent into the dunce's corner after The Bell Curve, Murray decided to do the whole thing again, this time just talking about White America. No racism here; no Sir. This is just about racist, sexist, homophobe white people. Here's the Amazon blurb.
Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity. 
No kidding, Sherlock. So Murray shows that the top 25 percent of white America, that lives in "Belmont," is doing fine, getting educated, working at satisfying careers, getting married, having children, and not getting divorced. The middle 50 percent is doing OK, although nothing like as pretty-please as the top tier. The bottom 30 percent, that lives in "Fishtown," is a mess. The men don't work much and the women don't marry much. Hey, Democrats! You think this has something to do with the Trump phenomenon, pal?

In a more recent book, By the People: Building Liberty Without Permission, Murray suggests it is time for small government advocates to start a bit of what we might call "activism:" waging a peaceful guerrilla war against the administrative state by making life hell for mid-level government bureaucrats.

So my message to my Democratic friends is: what are you going to do about those folks in Fishtown, where the men don't work and the women don't marry? Since the science tells us that the children of such people tend to end up on welfare and in jail.

So seriously Democrats. What are you going to do about this social Armageddon for the folks in the inner city and in the bombed-out Rust Belt?

'Cos I don't see that your identity politics does a blind bit of good for those folks. I don't see that your administrative-state palliatives like a $15 minimum wage, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Clean Power Plan, and Renewable Energy, and Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley, and Obamacare, and all the other top-down expert-led administrative interventions have ever helped or will ever help the folks at the bottom to climb into a decent middle-class life.

And I reckon that the science backs me up.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The New York Times View of the World

Back on Tuesday President-elect Trump had an on-the-record interview with the New York Times chappies and chapettes. And I have read the transcript.

Let us make a rash assumption. Let us assume that the order and the frequency of raising issues with the president-elect tells us a lot about the chaps and chapettes at The New York Times.

The alt-right. Yes, first out of the box, Dean Baquet, executive editor, asked about the alt-right convention in Washington DC. "So, I’d love to hear you talk about how you’re going to manage that group of people[.]" Oh please.

Next up, the Clinton pardon. Maggie Haberman, political reporter, asked about that, and what it means in detail (you know, so the Clintons would know what was coming at them).

Then, climate change. Thomas Friedman, opinion columnist, asked "But are you going to take America out of the world’s lead of confronting climate change?" Oh no! Trump said he had an open mind, but mentioned the Climategate emails. Yay!

Hey! Clintons again! Elizabeth Bumiller, Washington bureau chief, " I just wanted to follow up on the question you were asked about not pursuing any investigations into Hillary Clinton. Did you mean both the email investigation and the foundation investigation — you will not pursue either one of those?" Trump actually equivocated, saying that he just wants to go forward.

Then, climate change again! Michael D. Shear, White House correspondent, asks it Trump is going to take us out of the Paris accords.

Then, climate change yet again! Shear asks about wind turbines on Trump's golf courses and the conflict of interest.

Then, climate change again! Michael Barbaro, political reporter, asks about Trump meeting with Brexit leaders about wind farms. Trump says that we are "subsidizing wind mills all over this country" and they kill all the birds. No!

Hey kids! Back to alt-right and Steve Bannon. I am not making this up. Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House correspondent, asks about Steve Bannon, "hero of the alt-right. He’s been described by some as racist and anti-Semitic."

Now, Breitbart. Unknown asks, "what do you think of the website [Bannon] ran, Breitbart?" Then Julie Davis mentions African Americans and Jews and "the slant that Breitbart brings to the news[.]" The horror!

Finally, actual economic policy. Ross Douthat, opinion columnist, asks how whether in four years the Rust Belt will feel that Trump governed more like Paul Ryan. Trump goes on a riff about the forgotten men and women. But what about the robots? Trump says we'll make 'em here. And by the way he got a call from Bill Gates and from Tim Cook and talked to Cook about tax cuts and making iPhones in the US.

Look out: alt-right Nazi alert! Unknown asks about the "conference this past weekend in Washington of people who pledged their allegiance to Nazism." Trump says "Boy, you are really into this stuff, huh?"

Now infrastructure. Pinch Sulzberger asks "is infrastructure going to be the core of your first few years?" Trump says not the core, but important.

Now shock and awe. Thomas Friedman says "I came here thinking you’d be awed and overwhelmed by this job, but I feel like you are getting very comfortable with it." Trump says he is comfortable and awed. But then Michael D. Shear chimes in saying that Obama said you guys were pretty overwhelmed. Trump says he had a good meeting with Obama.

Finally, foreign policy. Thomas Friedman asks "What do you see as America’s role in the world?" Trump waffles then goes off the record on Syria.

And waterboarding. Maggie Haberman asks if Trump would return to waterboarding. Trump says that Gen. Mattis told him that you can get more from a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers than torture.

And Jared Kushner. Haberman asks if Trump will bring Kushner in. Trump answers: maybe to bring peace between Israel and Palestine.

Finally First Amendment. Mark Thompson, CEO, asks "after all the talk about libel and libel laws, are you committed to the First Amendment to the Constitution?" Trump says no worries. Because he doesn't want to be sued any more than The New York Times.

OK, sports fans. Let's add up the score on mentions.
  1. Alt-right, Bannon, Breitbart: 4
  2. Climate change: 4
  3. Clinton emails, etc.: 2
  4. Economic policy, infrastructure: 2
  5. Foreign policy, torture: 2
  6. Son-in-law: 1
  7. First Amendment: 1
Now my question is this. Do you think that the folks at The New York Times are serious journalists, or what?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Maybe the US Will Always Have a "White" Majority

The reason liberals are Borking Bannon and Sessions and anyone that dares to normalize the alt-right is that the alt-right is threatening to ruin the left's filibuster on race.

That's because the alt-right is playing with the idea that whites ought to get into the identity politics business, just like blacks and Latinos, and that, down the road, as immigration continues, whites will become a minority in the United States unless they act now.

Don't think that this idea is just the whine of a coven of KKK enthusiasts. John Judis and Ruy Teixeira proposed it in The Emerging Democratic Majority. Democrats would rule forever, they prophesied, with a coalition of minorities, women, youth and the educated.

Only suppose the immigrant minorities never quite coalesce into a racial majority?

Steve Sailer in his review of alt-right Jared Taylor's White Identity proposes a notion of "solidarity among American citizens" rather than white identity politics. Right now, according to Sailer, white identity politics would fail because Jews wouldn't buy in. But later on, when whites and Jews feel embattled? Stay tuned.

But here is a John O'Sullivan piece in National Review discussing the fact that in 2016 the Latino vote again failed to explode. It was 11 percent of the total vote, about the same as in 2012.

But wait! Aren't Hispanics supposed to be surging as a percent of the population? So what has happened to their vote? O'Sullivan uses a Latino professor, Roberto Suro, as his foil. Suro argues that the placidity of Latinos would turn to anger in 2016.
Suro believed or hoped that would change as the election became more exciting and as issues such as multiculturalism and immigration became matters of ethnic loyalty. Hispanic citizens would then get angry, organize, register, and vote in larger numbers.
We got a test of this theory with Donald Trump who campaigned against political correctness and immigration. And the Latino voters didn't get angry, didn't organize, didn't register, and didn't vote in larger numbers. What gives?

The answer is that, as they integrate into middle-class American life, the descendants of immigrants tend to identify as white. But the government's statistical mill aggressively tries to classify people as anything but white. So the children of a Hispanic married to a white are classified as Hispanic until they grow up and can identify themselves. A child that the government classified as non-white ends up calling itself white when it grows up.

In other words, ordinary middle-class Americans working and living in ordinary suburban America tend to merge towards a kind of "mainstream" identity, and as they do so the definition of "white" tends to expand to fit them.

Here is how I would explain the situation. Politicians and ideologues are always trying to divide people and enlist them in their ideological armies. But the economy is always pushing in the opposite direction. Capitalism wants everyone to get on so they can make more products and consume them and be nice to each other and trust each other and make lots of lovely wages and profits.

And capitalism is always making people rub up against strangers and work with them and find out that the fearful strangers are people just like them.

Maybe what's really emerging is the great emerging middle-class majority. We word-peddlers that take our middle-class prosperity for granted, but we forget that for immigrants the effortless middle-class lifestyle -- with its college and careers and homes and SUVs and children that get a real childhood -- is a incandescent dream.  It is the city on a hill, and the immigrant wants to get there, or at least make sure her children get there.

On my view the left has been a 200 year reactionary movement that has been making it as hard as possible for the immigrants to the city to climb up from the dusty plain of agricultural idiocy to the broad sunlit uplands of bourgeois life.

Maybe the reluctance of Hispanic voters to validate the emerging Democratic Majority model is a sign that the whole leftist secular religion is a crock, and is going to end up on the scrap heap of history.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump University's Course in Politics 101

According to the news media, Donald Trump has settled the suit against Trump University for an apparent $25 million.

Meanwhile Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have opened the Trump Open University for Political Education. Because they just broke all the rules and won the presidential election.

Jared Kushner? Who he? I know. He's Ivanka's husband and he has his own real-estate empire. And he is the guy that ran the Trump campaign.

Go ahead, read the Forbes piece on Kushner. Then come back and we'll discuss the whole thing.

Meanwhile I was reading this piece by Rich Galen, a GOP campaign operative from way back.
We could walk into just about any Congressional District in the nation and put together a credible campaign. We could set up a fund-raising operation, press, volunteers, scheduling. We could find someone to handle the polling and the printing. We could find a candidate who, at a minimum, would not embarrass themselves and we could flip a switch and voila! A campaign would spring forth fully formed and ready to … lose.
In other words, they had all the data, all the polling, all the technical details. Just like Hillary Clinton and her campaign. But there was one thing they did not have. No, it wasn't heart. You are confusing politics with The Wizard of Oz. The problem was that the campaigns did not have soul.
We couldn't build in passion. We had not found a way to, as we say now, energize our voters. We couldn't help them see that we believed they were the most important cog in our beautiful machine. 
Now just this very morning I was at the checkout at my local market and the checker, who was going to be working on Thanksgiving, descanted about the dignity of labor, going to to work, paying your taxes, and making the country work. Then a scuzzy-looking white guy behind me in line chimed in about being a Deplorable.

Hello soul. Hello passion. These white guys were acting pretty perky in the aftermath of the Trump ascendancy.

So that is what Donald Trump, the political neophyte, has managed to do. He has managed, for the first time since Ronald Reagan, to add soul to a GOP presidential campaign, which the Bushes, and McCain and Romney had failed to do. He added passion. He built what he acknowledged in the final weeks of the campaign was a "movement." With the indispensable help of Jared Kushner.

The whole apparatus of campaign technology and campaign consultants is all about trying to win elections without passion, trying to jump start the voters on a cold day in February. But if you can sell them on the idea that you care about people like them, yes, even the deplorables, then it doesn't matter how cold it is outside. If you have passion you could have lightning in a bottle.

Of course, let's be fair. Lightning in a bottle is what Barack Obama had in 2008. I don't know how much was him and how much was First-Black-President. It doesn't matter; he got people to believe in him; he filled a stadium at the end of his nomination convention in the Night of the Grecian Formula Columns, and African Americans were crying in emotional release on the day after his election, because they never thought they would live to see the day when an African American could be President of the United States.

And now it appears that the genius of the Trump campaign was his son-in-law Jared Kushner. You've read the Forbes piece by now. Wouldn't you like a son-in-law like that? Or a husband? Or a son? Or a business associate? What an amazing young man.

It's interesting to me that Kushner manages to enunciate the Peter Thiel line about "Tell me something that's true, that almost nobody agrees with you on." Says Kushner:
What would that say about me if I changed my view based on what other people think, as opposed to the facts that I actually know for myself?
Nobody knows what kind of a president Donald Trump will be. But we know one thing, that a few months ago we were reading stories about the white working class dying of despair, and now they are in the checkout line proudly calling themselves Deplorables.

I'd say that on balance that was a good thing. How about you?

Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Deal with an Unaccountable Federal Bureaucracy

A big question of our age, perhaps the big question, is how to prune back the huge, hegemonic and dominatory power of the federal government.

It is not just the question of 2,000 page bills in Congress that nobody has read. As E. Donald Elliott writes in The American Spectator, the bigger problem is the administrative and regulator apparatus.
[M]ost of our law today is made by officials in the agencies and the courts who are not responsible to the people and often do not reflect their common sense. Call this the “three smart guys in a room” problem: a small group of self-appointed agency experts get together and come up with a rule that sounds good to them in the abstract and then (some times after notice and comment and judicial review), the rest of us have to live under it unless Congress disproves it and the President does not veto the Congressional disapproval of a rule enacted by his own Administration.
So Elliott has a small, but significant suggestion. The federal bureaucracy has three levels. There are the executive positions that serve at the pleasure of the president. There is the great mass of bureaucrats. But in between is the Senior Executive Service (SES). Out of the total of 2.7 million bureaucrats the SES consists of 7,800 senior officials just below the presidentially appointed positions. And they serve for life or until they retire, and they are the main source of the "three smart guys in a room" problem. Writes Elliott:m
Congress should enact term limits for members of the “Senior Executive Service” (SES) and make them subject to periodic retention votes by the Congress. SESers are the barons just below the temporary Presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate.
But will that make a dime's worth of difference? A bureaucrat is a bureaucrat and what bureaucrats have learned over the last century is the philosophy of administration and a world view that regards sensible regulation and centralized provision as the very meaning of life, the universe and everything.

Aside from the natural instinct of bureaucrats to centralize and control, there is another problem. Aside from the fact that government is injustice, administrative government cannot respond to changing circumstances. That is why we see continual government failures that never get fixed. And the one thing that government cannot do is cut spending programs, except the armed forces after a war. The recent lesson of Venezuela is a case in point. The government could not bring itself to cut its headline programs in the aftermath of the oil price collapse after 2014. So it has ended up with massive inflation and the failure of all its spending programs. Why is this? It is because the beneficiaries of the spending programs are the government's supporters. To cut spending is to break faith with the government's supporters, so governments always crash and burn before cutting its programs.

Charles Murray has another idea, in his By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. He doesn't think that moving the deck chairs on the government Titanic is going to do it. So he proposes a strategy of disobedience, a way of outflanking big government to regain our freedom.

The problem is, as I outline in a blog post, is that the the current legal system allows the government to convict you of a crime for a mistake rather than a self-consciously evil act, and with the rise of the regulatory state, there is no way to roll back government. So we must start a guerrilla war against government. He calls it "Opening a New Front," and I have blogged about it here.

The idea is to fight back against government and gum up the works of the regulatory machine. Murray wants us to turn the tables on the mid-level bureaucrat, and say to him: you touch me and I'll make your nice secure job a hell. The idea is to crate a "Madison Fund" to protect "ordinary citizens who are being victimized by the regulatory state." The Madison Fund would come to the help of citizens being victimized by a bureaucrat and make life hell for him. Call it reverse-regulatory terrorism: eat one bureaucrat and terrorize ten thousand. Take away their pensions and you take away their reason for living.

You can see how important Murray's idea is when you consider the issue of the IRS and the Tea Parties. The IRS, encouraged by some Democratic senators, decided to slow walk the applications of Tea Party groups for 401c(3) status. Nothing happened to Lois Lerner, the bureaucrat in charge of the outrage, and nothing happened to the truculent IRS commissioner that basically told the investigating congressional committees to go pound sand.

So. Will the new Trump administration Do Something about regulatory hegemony and injustice? I am not holding my breath.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sorry Liberals, Protest is for People Outside the System

Because I'm a bourgeois, born and bred, I really don't get the protest culture. After all, if you have a political problem, you need to elect a representative and create a legislative majority and change the law.

But then a middle-aged woman friend that told me at lunch that she had always wanted to get into "activism." Hello? There was obviously something that I didn't understand, so I turned on my cultural antenna to search for an answer.

The next target on the radar plot was a young woman in a Philosophy of Hume class at the University of Washington here in Seattle. She spoke as though politics was a protest march to City Hall. So who filled that good little girl's head with that stuff? She was talking as though she was a disenfranchised serf, not a privileged young woman well on the way to becoming a candidate member in the professional class. Why would she think that politics was a question of peasants with pitchforks?

Then I read Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation. Nominally a history of the modern era, it is really an apology for the elite-guided administrative state. It takes for granted that the top-down administrative state is a good thing that is fixing horrible problems with capitalism. But one thing accidentally shone through the educated-elite apology. It was that once the working class got the vote in the 19th century it stopped the riots and demonstrations. That's because once the workers got the vote the political process started to accommodate their agenda; no need to take to the streets.

Oh really.

So why then do the college students and professional protesters take to the streets after a perfectly normal presidential election hashtagging #NotMyPresident?

It's because good little girls in America are being taught in college that "activism" is the highest calling for a meaningful life.

Hillary Clinton learned that in college; that's why she became an Alinsky fan. That is also why President Obama is telling us that he is going to become a community organizer after he leaves the presidency.

All the social justice, environmental, LGBT activism is all part of this culture, that the way for a young sprout of the educated class to find meaning in life is to bend the arc of history towards justice through political action and peaceful protest.

Note the contrast with the conservative philosophy that politics is a necessary evil, that all political action should be leavened with the consent of the governed, and that major pieces of legislation, according to Pat Moynihan, should be passed with nothing less than a 70-30 vote in the US Senate.

Note the contrast with my sharpened notion that politics is division, deliberately separating Americans into two separate tribes; that government is force, so never forget that the vital and necessary agenda of "our side" is experienced by the folks on the receiving end as injustice.

Notice that the conservative and the Chantrill notions imply that you should be very careful about stirring up a hornet's nest when you poke around with political protest and government power.

Notice that the conservative and Chantrill notions imply that you should be putting yourself in the place of the "other" when considering some new political initiative.

It is clear from the actions of our liberal friends in the wake of the Trump election that they have no clue about this. The only reality is their reality and if you disagree you are a racist, sexist, homophobe, etc.

Here is my prediction. Either conservatives are right about this, or liberals are right. Either it is true that you really want to avoid riling up the opposition, or it is true that, in the quest of bending the arc of history towards justice, activism and political street action and peaceful  protests and non-negotiable demands are the only way.

So who is right?

I think that the nearest example is the aftermath of the Sixties. In the Sixties the radical children of liberal parents thought they were changing America forever. They were intoxicated with the ideas of the New Left and the repressive tolerance of Herbert Marcuse.

But then the Democrats nominated not the kids' candidate Eugene McCarthy but old-time liberal Hubert Humphrey, and Americans elected Richard Nixon, who championed the Silent Majority that did not want to live the mobilized life of the political activist. Democrats knew what to do about that; they drove Nixon out of office for shenanigans that Democrats get in their mother's milk. So the American people elected Ronald Reagan, a B-movie actor, to make the point and underline it.

Will we have a repeat of the Sixties? Certainly not. History does not repeat itself, it merely rhymes.

But it would be glorious if the New Activism ended up sending not just the white working class but the black and brown and pink working class into the Republican Party.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

On Electoral College, Be Careful What You Wish For Liberals

Every time a party wins the popular vote but loses in the Electoral College it starts thinking of ways to eliminate the Electoral College.

Of course, there's a bit of a problem with that. The Electoral College is right there in the constitution. See, it's right there, as Lina Lamont might say.

Not that some liberal Supreme Court might not vote one day to eliminate the Electoral College because of some penumbra in the Constitution that clearly establishes a right to a popular vote for President.

Failing that, as Paul Waldman writes, we can implement the National Popular Vote plan.
This idea utilizes the fact that the Constitution gives each state permission to allot its electors any way it pleases. States that join in make a pledge to allot their electoral vote to whoever wins the national popular vote. Once you have states that combine to exceed 270 electoral votes, the measure can take effect and then the popular vote winner will automatically win.
I would think that any sane person would be able to see the problem with this. What if a state backs out at the last minute? What about skullduggery? After all, I wouldn't think that a Hillary Clinton, based on her peerless record for political shenanigans, would hesitate for a minute to bribe a state delegation to vote the other way, and have the entire mainstream media and the Washington establishment behind her.

Anyway, based on my understanding of Buchanan and Tullock's The Calculus of Consent, which is an eyewatering analysis of voting systems, I would estimate that whatever system we have for electing a president it would still involve bribing the fence-sitters to make up a majority. Because that is what Buchanan and Tullock asset. Every voting system comes down to bribing the fence-sitters. We call it "log-rolling."

That is how it is today in presidential elections. The candidates take the deep-blue and deep-red states for granted and campaign almost exclusively in the so-called toss-up states. They are, in effect bribing the fence-sitters.

In 2016, as we know, Donald Trump either by luck or design centered his campaign around an appeal to the white working class and, low and behold, he turned the white working class Rust Belt states -- Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennslyvania -- from blue to red. Was that genius or dumb luck?

Here is something else to consider, liberals. It issues from the words of Lee Kuan Yew, once Prime Minister of Singapore. He remarked that in a multiracial country the voters vote by race.

So let us think, what would candidates do if they were running national campaigns that focused completely on the national popular vote. I'd say that sooner or later they would run campaigns based solely on identity politics: in other words, race. They would find that basing a campaign on anything more fine-grained than that just wouldn't work on a national scale.

Of course, the Electoral College, like the Senate, is one of the concessions that the Founders had to make to the small states to get them to sign onto the Constitution. The Electoral College and the Senate both over-represent the small states in the affairs of the nation.

The question is: Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Obviously a president elected on a pure national popular vote would not care too much about small states, and without a Senate a small-state Senator Reed (D-NV) would not be able to hold up the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site.

Here's another idea. What about diversity and inclusion, liberals? Surely, without the Senate and the Electoral College we would have much less diversity and inclusion in the nation, because the big states would just outvote the small states and impose their big-state agenda on the little guys.

It all comes down to this. Who do you trust? Do you trust modern liberals that backed the most corrupt presidential candidate since Lyndon Baines Johnson, or do you trust the Founders like Madison and Hamilton, who had read, learned and understood the great books about political philosophy that had been coming out in the previous century or so. They had read their Locke, their Montesquieu, and the result was the US Constitution. Then they wrote the Federalist Papers, perhaps the finest disquisition on politics and constitutions ever written. The basic argument of the Federalist Papers was to justify how much government was enough. How much was needed to keep a nation safe in a world of predators and yet keep government small enough so it would not oppress its people.

In my lifetime I haven't seen liberals rise above a tactical mindset that seeks to queer the system to benefit liberals next time out. So I'll stay with the Constitution and the Electoral College as written, until the day dawns when the nation boasts another Madison and another Hamilton in its front rank.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Unpacking the Steve Bannon Flap

What should we make of the sudden liberal "concern" about Steve Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in the last three months leading up to the election, and has now been appointed "chief strategist and senior counselor" to the president-elect? Before taking up with Trump he headed up Breitbart, the alt-news on-line media engine that was 1000% for Trump.

The answer is that liberals think they can play the race card on Bannon. Because he has not thoroughly rejected the alt-right, who we all know are racists, sexists, homophobes and Nazis. Here is the New York Times piece.

Unfortunately, many of the people defending Steve Bannon are pretending to be shocked that gambling goes on in Steve's Cafe. Alt-right, they seem to ask? Never heard of it.

Of course they know about the alt-right. Of course they know that the alt-right is looking at a white identity politics as the natural reaction to everything-else identity politics. Of course they know that the alt-right has unkind things to say about Jews.

So I think that the Bannon apologists are missing a shot when they insist there is nobody here but us chickens.

The way to proceed is to turn the tables on the liberals. To ask liberals what they expected after 50 years of liberal race politics? To quote Lee Kuan Yew that in a multi-racial society people vote by race. So say that liberals are intellectual terrorists for calling anyone that disagrees with them by some pejorative.

They should offer liberals a deal: you stop harboring black racists like Black Lives Matter and Hispanic racists like La Raza and the feminist man-haters and the gay hetero-haters and we'll get tough on our uglies too.

The amazing thing is that white identity politics hasn't been a big thing already. You would think that middle and lower-class whites would have twigged long ago that the race and gender politics of the Democratic Party is like a gun pointed at their jobs and their families, and that they would have left the Democratic Party decades ago and made the Republican Party into the white party.

But the interesting thing is that the white working class in the states that won the election for Trump -- Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania -- all voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. So they can't be racists, can they. Sexists, maybe. Or maybe they thought that if they voted for a black president then the race politics of the last half century would go away and leave them in peace.

The point is that Donald Trump got nominated and elected as least in part because he pushed back against the intellectual terrorism of political correctness. And Steve Bannon was a part of that process.

So of course liberals want Bannon banished to Outer Slobbovia. They don't want their little gravy train of poisonous race and gender identity politics to end, because what would liberals do then, poor things?

Liberals really shouldn't want to provoke working class whites into voting by race. Whites are 70 percent of the electorate and if they started voting 90 percent for the GOP candidate like blacks vote 90 percent for the Democrat it wouldn't be pretty.

Anyway, the Republican Party is simply the home of Americans that the Democratic Party doesn't want. Democrats decided that white Southerners were racists, so the white South decided to become Republicans. Democrats decided that enthusiastic Christians were bigots, so the Christians decided to become Republicans. Now Democrats have decided that the white working class are all racists, not to mention deplorables and bitter clingers, so the white working class has broken down the doors to the Republican Party and is helping itself to the smorgasbord.

I wonder which group will be next to anathematized by the Democrats? My bet is on the Jews, still voting 70 percent Democrat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Can Anyone Stop Identity Politics?

Back in the 1960s liberals knew that the New Left and the New Politics was going to fundamentally transform America.

But ordinary Americans looked at the riots and the protests and voted for Richard Nixon. Twice.

So liberals cooked up a case against Nixon and shamed him out of office in 1974.

But then ordinary Americans came back and elected Ronald Reagan six years later.

Let's look at this straight up. Back then white working class Americans looked at the new liberal politics and they didn't like it. Just like today.

Back then white working class Americans didn't like the idea that white working class Americans were going to be the ones paying for Affirmative Action and quotas with their jobs. And their children were going to have to pay for the wonders of school busing with their education.

In 1992 Bill Clinton squared the circle by making like he was one of the guys. And so he pulled the white working class away from the Republicans. And then the white working class voted for Barack Obama.

Maybe, like many of us, the white working class thought that by voting for Obama they would put to rest the race politics that had been aimed like an arrow at their livelihoods and their culture, and sneered at them as All in the Family sneered at Archie Bunker.

But they were wrong. Race politics is who liberals are. They need race politics to get their 90 percent of the black vote and they need gender politics to get their 80 percent of the gay vote or the 62 percent of the single women vote.

Of course liberals think they are really smart, and that they can control their supporters, so that if identity politics really became a problem and threatened America they could turn it off and still lead hyphenated America on to sunlit uplands.

But Lee Kuan Yew, long-time Prime Minister of Singapore has written that in a multiracial society, people vote by race. That's from Samuel L. Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. So here is how people vote in Mississippi, according to local columnist Bobby Harrison.
What continues to be a little odd about voting in Mississippi is that the state has the nation’s highest percentage of African American voters, who almost always vote Democratic while white Mississippians vote Republican by high margins.
 You don't say. According to Steve Sailer Mississippi whites voted 88 percent for Romney in 2012.

I fear that we educated middle-class people are living in a fool's paradise. We have convinced ourselves that we are tolerant and non-racist and that we can live in harmony with others different from ourselves.

But in fact, of course, we live next to people exactly like ourselves: educated upper-income people that define ourselves by our education and our profession and our cultural sophistication and our tolerance.

Very nice. But suppose that our neighborhood started to decline and that immigrants started to move in and crime started to go up. What then?

The answer is simple. We would move. Because we can afford to. So for us to preach tolerance and inclusion and diversity is just fine, because we could always get out if the going got tough.

For the folks lower down the income scale things are not so copacetic, because their jobs are not so secure, their options are not as broad, and their finances are not robust enough to take the hit of moving out. There is a reason why they adhere to notions of tribal and racial identity. Because that is how humans have defended themselves from the invaders since time immemorial. And right now they feel themselves under attack.

Like I say. The best way to unite a divided people is to take them to war. That's how the US united the divided immigrants of 1900. The ruling class sent their children to war in 1941.

But what sort of a war could the ruling class gin up today to unite the immigrants of 1990? The War on Terror didn't do it. If anything it divided the nation.

So you tell me. What kind of a war would unite all the factions of the ruling class so that nobody checked out half way through?

Frankly, my dear, I have no idea.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump's Loud Mouth: Not a Bug But a Feature

I was reading someone over the weekend who said that the Trump voters were the people in the room that didn't say anything: or the Uber driver that admitted being a Trump supporter only reluctantly.

The point about Trump is that he would say stuff that the Trump supporter couldn't. Because political correctness, which I argue is in fact intellectual terrorism.

So the point of about Trump being rude and crude starts to come into focus. It was not a bug, but a feature. GOP voters wanted someone who had the cojones to say the things you are not allowed to say in America. So when we saw the early GOP debates it was stunning to see Trump utterly fearless and rude. He was saying things we wanted to say to liberals, but wouldn't, or couldn't.

Because we knew that violating the rules meant instant immolation by media. Also known as auto da fé. But Trump went through the fire and survived! He did something that no prudent person would dare to do. Because of the example of all kinds of GOP politicians whose careers got eliminated with one wrong word.

I remember some incident, which got into racist, sexist territory, and every GOP candidate, even Ted Cruz, the anti-establishment candidate, piled onto Trump. But Trump survived, and they did not.

Because the GOP base wanted a candidate with the courage of a Trump.

Here's a girl professor, Joan C. Williams, addressing the issue.
Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. 
Oh and another thing. The working class doesn't like the professional class.
[T]he white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” 
Professional people are the managers and supervisors that tell the working class what to do. And the working class doesn't like it.

So, when you think of it, Trump and the white working class is a marriage made in heaven.

But I think there is something bigger going on. It is simply that a political leader is supposed to be a leader, he is supposed to "boldly... outdare the dangers of the time."

Now the great danger of our time to white normal Americans is political correctness, which, after Bryan Magee, I call intellectual terrorism. It has two parts. In the first place it terrorizes the opposition to the left into silence, because to disagree with the left is to be anathematized as a  racist, sexist, homophobe and to risk your job. In the second place it teaches its liberal supporters to hate and to fear the dreaded racist, sexist homophobes. And how, as we discovered after the election.

This is not good. But, as I have written here and here, it cannot last. The politics of intellectual terrorism is, in reality, a Reign of Terror, and reigns of terror, after Crane Brinton in Anatomy of Revolution, cannot last. People cannot live forever in a whipped-up ideological fervor. Eventually they give up out of exhaustion and go back to normal life. This return-to-normal has come to be called "Thermidor" after the coup against the Jacobins on 9 Thermidor Year II (27 July 1794) that ended the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution.

I am saying that the intellectual terrorism of political correctness was bound to end up in some kind of a Thermidor. And we can now call it Trumpidor.

The left has traditionally railed against the leader that executes on the Thermidorean reaction, and for good reason. In our age, Thermidor always takes place at the peak of some lefty Reign of Terror, like the Cultural Revolution in China, and lefties naturally take a dim view of their glorious revolution being stopped dead by some man on a white horse. But this is because lefties are living a dream reality, a secular religion that explains everything and nothing. Leftism is an apology for revolution and intellectual terror, but nothing more.

So Trump has had his Thermidor. The question is whether he will lead America back to prosperity and comity, or whether he will bury America on some mad adventure in Russia, like the man that picked up power in the street after the first Thermidor, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us, it is time to Cut the Cringe, and openly say to the accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, hate, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and climate denialism: We Don't Care.

Friday, November 11, 2016

How Do We Get the Left's Army to Go Home?

I am reading a memoir by philosophy popularizer Bryan Magee, Confessions of a Philosopher: A Journey Through Western Philosophy. But don't imagine it is about his life. Oh no, it starts with the young Bryan, aged 5, being concerned that he never experienced the act of going to sleep.
[O]ne moment I was talking to my sister in the dark, and the next I was waking up in a sunlit room having been asleep all night.
Then, at age 9, Bryan was amazed that he could move his finger just by thinking it. What did it mean?

It wasn't until he went to university that he realized that there is a word for puzzling about life, the universe, and everything. It is called philosophy.

I tell you this by way of an introduction, because later in the book Magee, who had read the whole of Marx's Das Capital, describes Marxism as "intellectual terrorism."

But that, I thought, is the way to describe everything about the Left. When they are not doing actual terrorism, as they are doing right now, "protesting" the election of Donald Trump, they are engaged in intellectual terrorism, beating up on anyone that doesn't agree with them with their all-purpose pejoratives of racist, sexist, homophobe.

This notion of "intellectual terrorism" showed up at exactly the right moment, because I am writing an article in my head about the fact that everything the left has been agitating for is achieved. But try telling any army to quit and go home, pal. The whole world view and ethos of the left is "activism," the struggle. Without activism, without the struggle, life would have no meaning.

That is why a nice woman I know said to me some years ago that she had always wanted to "do activism." Of course she does; that is what they teach good little girls in school today. That is why the colleges in the nation are convulsed in the days after Donald Trump's presidential victory by "protests" making non-negotiable demands that Trump is "Not My President."

But everything the left wants has been achieved. It's time to declare victory and go home.

First of all, the working class.

When rich kids Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels issued their Communist Manifesto in 1848 it made a lot of sense that the bourgeoisie would replace the feudal lords as the oppressive ruling class, and that there was a fundamental conflict between employers and workers, and that the workers would probably starve unless something was done.

In fact, it was in 1850 that the European working class started making real wage gains, and that was before the workers had got the vote and before any pro-labor legislation had been written. Then in 1870 the whole intellectual framework of Marxism was demolished by the marginal revolution. Then, by the end of the 19th century it was clear that the bourgeoisie, and in particular the great robber barons, were not that interested in power. When they had "made their pile" they quit business and started philanthropies: medical research and universities in the case of John D. Rockefeller; libraries and Peace foundations in the case of Andrew Carnegie; and libraries and art collections in the case of J.P. Morgan. By 1900 it was clear that the working class was rising, and the level of absolute poverty was going down.

So, by 1900, it was clear that special, violent, revolutionary means were not warranted to help the workers. And indeed, the Great Enrichment has continued down to the present moment. It has brought billions out of starvation into prosperity wherever capitalism, the economic ideology of the bourgeoisie, has been tried.

But if the bourgeoisie were not the monsters that Marx had imagined and the workers were prospering then what was the point of all the pro-labor legislation, that, in 1900 was just beginning a huge tsunami that would engulf all nations' governments. I take the position that the only thing government knows is to make war. If we didn't need to make war on the bourgeoisie, then what was the point of spending 30-50 percent of GDP on economic war programs, to force nations to provide pensions, health care, education, and welfare for the poor and the middle class?

The brighter Marxists realized this by 1920 and that is why the Frankfurt School intellectuals switched their movement from What About the Workers to What about Blacks and Women -- and imperialism and marginalization of minority groups.

But the fact is that the western nations responded to What About Blacks and Women immediately. Women were given the vote, and emerged, generation by generation into the public square. Blacks got the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s. The west tired of imperialism and gave up its empires. People stopped talking about the "lesser breeds." And upper-class diversions like LGBT got mainstreamed.

But you would never think any of this had happened. We have Black Lives Matter running around acting as if the Civil Rights Acts never passed and that no black could get elected to the US Senate from South Carolina. We have feminists running around insisting that the patriarchy is beating them to an emotional pulp. As if women weren't 60 percent of college students, and had had the right to kill their babies in the womb for 40 years. We have gays running around picking on dangerous wedding photographers. And we have the environmentalists that cleaned up our air and water insisting that the planet is about to fry from global warming.

What is going on here? The answer is simple. Once activists have set up a political army to achieve some great purpose it becomes almost impossible to shut it down and send the soldiers home. The political generals are having far too much fun directing their political army, and the soldiers are having far too much fun looting and pillaging.

So today we have labor unions that flourish today only as representatives of government employees, and they are sending governments into bankruptcy. Today we have BLM activists acting as if police brutality is a bigger problem than gangbangers killing each other and 75 percent of children growing up without a father. We have women still imagining that the racist sexist homophobic patriarchy is out to get them. We have hateful gays accusing everyone else of "hate." We have environmentalists accusing skeptics of being the moral equivalent of Holocaust deniers.

Of course we do. Because otherwise all these "activists" would have to go home, get a job, get married, and spend the next 20 years in the endless grind of raising children. And who needs that, when the alternative is the excitement and a life of meaning in left-wing activism.

That's the big agenda item for the next 50 years. How to get the generals and the colonels and the buck privates in the left's activist army to declare victory and go home.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No, New Yorker, YOU are the American Tragedy

My text today is from The New Yorker reacting to the election of Donald Trump. David Remnick writes:
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.
Hello? "American republic?" I thought you chaps believed in democracy, not the republic of laws and limited government set up by the Founders. What's with the sudden concern for the "republic?"

"Tragedy for the Constitution?" I thought you chaps believed in a living constitution, after the original Progressives, that the Constitution should be updated according to the will of Supreme Court justices who would just happen to be malleable creatures of the educated ruling class. You know the drill: finding penumbras under which favorite liberal issues just happen to be hiding.

"Nativism?" Well you got me there. As an immigrant American I am all in favor of limiting immigration to keep the culture of Americanism strong and undiluted by country folk that still think like peasants and nomads. Although it certainly wouldn't hurt for all those liberals to leave the country as they promised.

"Authoritarianism?" Well, I see your point. Donald Trump might do a few things you don't like. But if we are talking about authoritarianism, how about the presidency of Barack Obama, with its executive actions, its egregious use of administrative and regulatory ukase, its abuse of the IRS to punish conservatives, its corruption of the FBI and the Justice Department to give Hillary Clinton a pass, and the cram-down folly of Obamacare?

"Misogyny and racism?" The thing I love most about liberals is their utter blindness to their own anti-woman and ugly racist politics. The Great Society welfare state has been a disaster for lower-class women who are treated as disposable one-night stands and are reduced to marrying the state. Oh, but they can kill their babies any time they want. But Trump is a misogynist.

And racism! Do you not understand, Mr. Remnick, that the whole point of modern liberal identity politics is to hive off tribal groups into their silos and keep them there? To keep blacks voting 90 percent for Democrats, and women voting for Uncle Sugar? I have been reading today about a poor helpless Hillary voter going to work at the Pentagon and seeing nothing but men and being frightened. Golly, I wonder where she got the idea to be frightened! My line on this is that you can't get 90 percent of a group to vote for anything unless you frighten the pants off them. Well played, Dems and media. You got you base well and truly frightened. But that is what the Democratic race and gender politics is all about. Frightening people so they can be used as pawns for liberal power politics.

I don't know if Donald Trump will turn out to be a half decent president or a continuation in the line of failed presidents. But I do know this. Our liberal ruling class is a disaster.

And the disaster really issues from the lies that the ruling class tells itself and its supporters.

And that is an American tragedy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Revenge of Archie Bunker

It was back in March that I thought of the meme that defines the election of 2016. It was in a blog post I called "Trump Hauls White Working Class into the GOP Boat."

And I suggested that Archie Bunker is the poster boy for all this.
If we mark the debut of All in the Family in winter 1971 as the date that the white working class was cast out of the Democratic Party, branded as racist, sexist, bigoted Archie Bunkers, every one, then the white working class has been wandering in the wilderness for about 40 years, just like the Israelites. 
Only now the white working class has found a home, found a politician that speaks to it. It means the end of the Republican Party that I have known and supported, as a party of small government and the home of the People of the Responsible Self. But I am willing to let the white working class in. Because we should always shelter the homeless.
And really, would it harm the Republican Party to adapt itself to the political needs of the white working class? A little less immigration, a little less racial spoils, a more moderate reform of entitlements than hardcore libertarian conservatives like me would like? Is that so hard to swallow? 
 I have written that I think that the Democrats' abandonment of the white working class is one of the crimes of the century. Whaddya mean, dumping the white working class after calling them the salt of the earth and loading them up with political loot?

And I shall write later about the bigger issue, the record of vile injustice practiced by the left ever since the false dawn of 1848. There is no fundamental conflict between employers and workers; workers have benefited enormously from capitalism, and once the workers got the vote there was no need for special privileges for the workers. There is no fundamental conflict between men and women, white and black, gay and straight. Once women got the vote, once blacks got the Civil Rights Acts, once gays got the police off their backs, then the "activists" should have gone home and let the law take its course.

But people do not go into politics to pass and law and then let the grass grow. They go into politics to taste power and visit humiliation on their enemies. And so the left has mixed ordure, the ordure of division and coercion, with its noble ideals, and the result is ordure.

My hope for the Trump presidency, which began last night with his statement, "I love this country," is that he manages to turn a bunch of blacks and Hispanics into typical Americans that simply love America. That is the whole point of capitalism and the Great Enrichment. Instead of everyone sitting on their patch of land and defending it to the death, we all mix together and produce and consume and buy and sell with only one principle to guide us: to trust people that demonstrate trustworthiness.

And the way to give the marginalized a break is to break down the ramparts of economic privilege, the domination and hegemony of the administrative, regulatory state. The science is settled on this, you know. Bureaucrats just can't do the job; only producers and consumers and prices can do it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"What About the Workers?"

The great theme of the 2016 election has been the sudden discovery of the white working class. It's as though somebody asked, as they did of Peter Sellers' character droning in a British upper-class accent hears a voice from the audience: "what about the workers?"

Gosh! I thought we had dealt with the problems of the workers, two generations ago. I thought they were put to bed so we could all work on women and minorities and gays.

In fact, of course, politics has ever created more problems that it solves, and every group that gets "helped" by government ends up with what I call the "little darlings" problem. Simply, if you become the little darlings of the ruling class you are getting set up for disaster, because the day will come when the ruling class no longer likes you, or needs you.

Even liberals are coming round to the notion that something went wrong with the white working class -- in The New Yorker yet. Well, yes, liberals. What went wrong is that you gave the white working class special privileges and enabled a generation of the working class to avoid the challenge of embourgeoisment. You taught them to believe that good manufacturing jobs at good wages would last forever, and vote Democrat. Then you went off and taught women and minorities to believe in liberal promises and vote Democrat.

But I am just thinking, on this Election Day, November 8, 2016, about the folks you see in the photos at Trump rallies. I suppose they are all racists, sexists, homophobes, as the liberals insist. But to me they just look like ordinary Americans. OK, ordinary white Americans.

It makes you realize how Republicans have failed in the last few elections. The party leaders have failed to connect directly with ordinary, typical Americans. They have instead appealed to libertarian conservatives like me, and Christian conservatives in the Religious Right, but not ordinary unaffiliated, typical Americans. It is shameful that it took a political neophyte like Trump to connect the party with typical Americans given that Michael Barone writes that the Republican Party has always been the party of people that think of themselves as "typical Americans."

In a long article on "Economic Growth," John H. Cochrane, an economist, lays out in excruciating detail how the present government makes life difficult for the average "typical American" with its taxes and its subsidies and its regulations and its favors and its rigidities. It's been a long time building, and it is hard to imagine how any government in the near future will have the mandate to do anything about it, since politics is and has always been about taxes and subsidies and regulations and favors and rigidities. Until the Huns ride in from the Asian steppe.

But I still have in my mind the images of ordinary Americans at the Trump rallies getting enthusiastic about a political leader that is actually speaking to their concerns.

According to Larry Summers, the Republican Party has combined "social conservatism and an agenda of helping rich people." Well, yeah. That is the image that Democrats and liberals want to propagate, and they do it very well. But it doesn't really connect with the idea of former construction worker Sean Hannity that Republicans are really people that follow the law, go to work, and obey the rules. The point about free-market economics is that it allows unknowns to enter the marketplace and thrive without having all the good paths reserved for the established and the well-connected. If you call that "helping rich people" well I gotta bridge to sell you.

And I get what he is talking about. If you think that life is a patron-client experience, where people are all People of the Subordinate Self that rely on the power of a patron to survive and prosper in this world, as proposed in my Three Peoples theory, then you really cannot believe in the notions of economics and the city economy of trusting the stranger without the intervention of the powerful patron on your behalf.

But I think that Republican voters are and have been people that are not organized into political armies under some patron for the purpose of wresting loot and plunder from the economic system. They may be that way because they are established middle class, or because they are aspirant, seeking to rise. But I don't think that the Republican Party is the part of "the rich." Not today. It must be pretty obvious that these days "the rich" are people that are very careful to keep on the right side of the Democratic Party and the liberal culture in general. The point about Peter Thiel, Trump supporter, is that he is an outlier.

My view of the world is that progressives -- Marxists socialists, whatever -- have created human wreckage wherever they go. There is a ton of wreckage in the welfare state today after about a century of progressive politics, and it is not just the white working class that got wrecked. How about the black underclass and how about women?

Yeah. "What about the workers?"

Monday, November 7, 2016

Da Fix is In!

The problem with the ruling class giving itself a pass, as in the classified emails and private server of Hillary Clinton, is the question of where it ends.

Obviously, the whole point of being a ruling class is to afford yourself and your supporters a certain relief against the rigors of the rule of law. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

So it makes sense that the White House and the Department of Justice would put the screws to the FBI when the FBI was investigating one of its own. And it makes sense that a little man like James Comey would bend under the pressure. Not just the White House but the whole Democratic Party and the Democratic Party operatives with bylines were telling him to put it where the sun don't shine.

But how far do you go? The whole point of politics and the rule of law is not "justice," at least not in my view. The whole point is to head off civil war. Government is force, and the people on the receiving end of force don't like it. If you keep your government force going too strong then the people on the receiving end might decide to create a head of rebellion.

That is why I rehearse constantly my catch phrases about Government is force, politics is division, system is domination, and Government is injustice. I am reminding the ruling class that everything that government or a politician does is riling up some yahoo somewhere. And the longer it goes on, the more likely that some yahoo will talk to his buddy and start to think that force must be met with force.

The problem with our liberal masters, as I see it, is that they really have no clue how deep is their self-dealing and how corrupt they are. They have no clue what a corrupt operation Obamacare is, or their climate agenda. There is a simple reason for this. Our liberal friends think that they are the good guys and that everything they do advances emancipation, liberation, and justice. And their willing accomplices in the media repeat back their catch phrases back at them. Of course they do. Not only is the ruling class intermarried with the media class, but it is clear to me, from nods and winks in the Obama era, that it is not good for one's media career to be a nail that sticks out -- apart from the basic fact of media life that the media lives by access to the powerful, and access can be easily withdrawn.

So Hillary Clinton has skated on her illegal and insecure private email scheme. For now. The problem is: next time. What happens when Hillary Clinton -- or any member of the ruling class -- next needs to compromise the justice system in order to skate on corruption or abuse of power? How much deeper into the corruption of the justice system will she need to go?

Our Democratic friends reject as laughable the idea that the Clinton scandal is "worse than Watergate." Oh really. As I recall Watergate issued from some over-enthusiastic campaign operatives burgling the offices of the Democratic National Committee. The Clinton e-mail scandal issues from the decision of the Secretary of State to conduct her business not on secure State Department systems but using her own private email server. So the Watergate scandal began with illegal actions by underlings; the Clinton scandal begins with illegal action by the principal. And we are not just talking about illegal action but illegal action that endangers national security. You tell me which is worse.

OK, now let's segue to the bigger issue. The problem is not just corruption of the justice system to evade responsibility for illegal action. The problem is that, now that progressivism has got into its mature stage, and government is gigantic and complicated, government has to evade the law, just to keep on keeping on, with executive actions and administrative ukases that amount to legislating. That is because government is doing complicated things that need constant adjustment to deal with unanticipated consequences of the original government intervention. We see the Obama administration doing this with Obamacare. And there is a strong current, supported in the ruling class, for using administrative ukase and regulation to enact policy that could never get a majority in Congress, especially with regard to climate and the environment.

Again, our ruling class is missing the point with its clever end run around the legislative process. If you want to enact climate change policy that will stand the test of time you need to go through all the flummery of legislation and vote-trading and a bipartisan consensus. Then, when the going gets tough, you can appeal to Democrats and Republicans and the whole American people to support you, since the policy was honestly proposed, honestly debated, and honestly voted in. But when you do things the Obama way, with phones and pens, with activists pushing through dubious policy in the depths of the bureaucracy, then people start to complain that The Fix Is In. And then nothing that you do is fixed and permanent, because tons of people think that you cheated, and they know that nobody asked their opinion.

We see this problem all across the west as the voters start to rebel against the globalist agenda of no borders and global migration and global commerce. The global elite never asked anyone's permission; they just believe that globalism and transnational government is necessary and that nation states deserve to go onto the waste heap of history and that they, the global elite, know what they are doing. They are wrong, and millions of people are going to suffer for their error and their arrogance.

And we know that they are wrong because they need to violate the law to get the job done.

Friday, November 4, 2016

But What About the Issues?

Everyone in the snooty set can tell you how base and shallow the 2016 election is. We are arguing about locker-room talk and mere e-mails. Eeuuw.

But what about the Issues?

In my view, the Issues are in worse shape than the candidates. Because we are a century out from the great expansion of the welfare state, and we are now experiencing the unintended consequences of big government picking up the tab for the Big Four programs that my website usgovernmentspending.com is intended to highlight. And nobody really has a clue what to do.

Government really should not be in the pensions business. Government has obviously failed at this, because both pensions for government employees and government pensions for ordinary citizens are breaking the budget. This means that young working people, trying to get a life going and raise children, are on the hook to pay pensions for their parents whatever the economic weather. I call this generational injustice. In my view the average person should retire when they have saved enough to stop working. And really, for most people the best thing would be to slowly ease off on work and not really retire at all until they get deep into dementia. Of course, we the people should help people that are poor in old age through-no-fault-of-their-own. But let's do it without government.

Government really should not be in the health-care business. Our lefty friends obviously think otherwise, and their reason is to say that people cannot afford to face any big health crisis; government has to step in. The problem is that the science doesn't really back this up. For instance, people on Medicaid don't have better health outcomes than people of similar income without health insurance. What does that mean? And how would health care look if it were, for example, modeled on the corporate model of a Walmart or an Amazon? I'm not sure that Walmart or Amazon are appropriate models for health care, but I am sure that putting government in the middle of health care is not a good idea. Suppose, for example, that the great foundations of the nation all agreed to focus on delivering health care for the poor. I wonder how that would work. I wonder how geriatric health care would look without the distorting effect of Medicare. Of course, we the people should help people that are poor in old age through-no-fault-of-their-own. But let's do it without government.

Government really should not be in the education business. The story of education is that ruling classes have always been in interested in forming the minds of the young. The classic line is that of the Jesuits, who determined that if you gave them the child before age seven, they could give you the adult. The French revolutionaries were adamant that they were going to replace the Jesuit system with their own education based on the cult of Reason. And then in the 19th century various ruling-class enthusiasts proposed new government-based schemes to form the minds of the young. But now we have a monster government-based education system that is clearly running aground, with government-supporter teachers and administrators demanding money from politicians but not delivering much in the way of education. Meanwhile -- and I just learned this -- there is Google Classroom. What in the world will happen to education with Google Classroom running the show? Of course, we the people should help people that are poor through-no-fault-of-their-own with the education of their children. But let's do it without government.

Government really should not be in the welfare business. Government welfare is nothing new. Heck, it goes back at least to the Roman Empire and the annona, the Roman free-grain program. In our modern era, government welfare started with the Elizabethan Poor Law that was the ruling-class response to the agricultural revolution, when, as Marx wrote, the "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.'" The Poor Law uselessly failed to solve the problem of the broken-up feudal retainers for two hundred years until the industrial revolution sucked the rural poor into textile factories. Now we have the Great Society welfare programs that have demolished the low-income family and have erected huge barriers to the poor getting off welfare and into the job market with effective 50 percent marginal tax rates. Of course, we the people should have people that are poor through-no-fault-of-their-own. But let's do it without government.

Yes, but how? Well, we will have to start with a new culture, and then we will need a ruling class that is not that interested in power, and a people that are not that interested in free stuff.

Yes, imagine a culture where the culture vultures don't serve as sycophants of the ruling class. And I have to say that I don't know where that is going to come from. But then, the old are always the last to know.

One thing is for sure. The problems aren't going to go away soon, whoever gets elected on November 8.