Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dems Start to Pivot, But How?

You heard it here first. In the July/August 2017 The Atlantic two Democratic operatives with bylines (© Glenn Reynolds) are starting the pivot away from Trump-Russia-Trump 24-7.

Frankline Foer notes that dear old Bill Clinton was right on the white working class thing back in 2015. And Peter Beinart has an on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand piece about immigration, the choice between diversity and unity.

OK, you say. How in the Sam Blazes are the Democrats -- that have spent 50 years since Archie Bunker calling the white working class racist, sexist bigots -- going to do this? And how is the Democratic Party that never saw an illegal immigrant it didn't like going to get all flag-happy about people born on the Fourth of July right here in the good old US and A?

All I can say is, just watch 'em. Before you can say Walter Cronkite there will be chin stroking elite journalists all over TV telling you that that's the way it is about how Donald Trump has betrayed the white working class and how all the Republican flag-waving of the last half century is actually a betrayal of everything America stands for.

That's what you can do when you are the ruling class and nobody is allowed to hear a discouraging word from the opposition. You will read The New York Times and never get to read a piece about activists demanding trans-gender cake-baking rights. It will all just go down the memory hole, and good little girls will be asking their conservative friends, with a grimace to indicate their utter sincerity, about the new hate and the new hyphenated phobia cooked up fifteen minutes ago by progressive activists.

Still, it might be a stretch to actually turn on a dime. Old stager Wesley Pruden rehearses the difficulties in this piece.
Some of the Democratic messages, which have been dispatched with such sound and fury are that “straight” folks and particularly straight white men, are so bad they’re not entitled to rights, civil or otherwise. Cops are all bad because they’ve set out to wipe out black folks, and therefore it’s OK to kill as many cops as possible.
Free speech is cool, and everyone should be able to say anything, anywhere, as long as it’s approved by the liberal canon, except that it’s not cool to say “liberal” anymore because somebody stunk up the word and all the liberals are now “progressives.”
Then he segues to Democratic officeholders urging caution and the need to win elections.

And really, I can't feel that the problem is that hard. Pretty soon the Democrats will hit upon some new program offering free stuff, and the voters will start voting for it. Maybe it will be free college, or free health care, or free child-care, or free vacations, or free housing, or free assisted living, or free driverless cars.

Yeah! How come Republicans don't want people to have driverless cars! Are they mean or just stupid?

Who cares? Humans like free stuff and they will vote for the man that offers it to them, whether he is a Viking chieftain offering their longship crews loot and slaves, or a Columbus offering his men the gold of Eldorado, or a Samuel Gompers who offered his union members "more," or a Barack Obama offering an Affordable Care Act that will lower your insurance premium by $2,500 per year.

It is just the dumb middle class that imagines a world of responsibility and private property and savings and marriage and children. Who cares about them?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Democrats: Forget Impeachment, It Ain't 1973 Any More

I suppose that if you are a Democrat of a certain age the heady days of the Nixon Impeachment are a golden memory, when the good guys won and the disgusting McCarthyite Nixon got what was coming to him. Remember what he did to Helen Gahagan Douglas!

But I have to tell my Democratic friends that it ain't 1973 any more. The reason is encapsulated in the key moments of the Nixon Impeachment and the Clinton Impeachment, and what we racist sexist homophobes took away from them.

In 1974 the graybeards in the US Senate, Sens. Goldwater (R-AZ) and Scott (R-PA) went to the White House and there joined with Rep. Rhodes (R-AZ). They told President Nixon that he had 12-15 votes against impeachment in the US Senate. So Nixon decided to resign.

In 1998 the President of the Senate, Al Gore, went to the White House right after the Republican House had impeached President Clinton and held a pro-Clinton rally. And so the Senate failed to convict Clinton of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Now if you  are a Democrat, you might think: Ha, just shows you what racist sexist homophobes Republicans were in the 1990s. Back in the good old days, responsible Republicans knew the right thing to do and did it.

Are you  still reading, Democratic friends? If so here is how a Republican like me looks back on this. To me, it looks like Nixon was driven out of office on a technicality, by trying to cover up a stupid crime by his operatives, and the Republican Party leaders -- used to being in the minority for the previous 30 years -- behaved like whipped puppies. But when it came to the Clinton Impeachment it looks like the Democrats took an attitude of my party right or wrong, and defended Clinton to the last ditch. My party right or wrong: is that the same as "my country right or wrong?"

So I look on the present campaign against President Trump as a vile trumped up monstrosity, one half Deep State and one half Democratic oppo researchers. And I expect the Republicans in the House and the Senate to defend Trump to the last man.

I look at Tea Party groups being harassed by the IRS while private-server Hillary Clinton goes free and I want blood. I look at Scooter Libby being dragged through the mire for a confusion about statements to the FBI while corruptocrats like Maxine Waters go free and I want blood.

Like I say, there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. What  I mean by that is that anyone in politics should forget about being the angel of mercy, the agent of justice. Because that is not how the people on the receiving end experience your mercy and justice. So when you are in power and nobly implementing your vision of justice, helping to bend the arc of history, you might spare a thought for the people whose toes you are stomping on. Government is force, and every government program is an expression of force, i.e., injustice. Every legislative act is a statement of "no more Mr. Nice Guy, it is time for brass knuckles and force."

That is why conservatives say that the government is best that governs least. That's a quote from Thoreau, of all people. Imagine lefty liberal environmentalists thinking things like that today!

So I think that liberals are making a strategic mistake by imagining that they are going to impeach Trump and drive him from office. Anyone who isn't living in the liberal bubble is sick to the back teeth of liberal lawlessness, liberal privilege, liberal hate mobs, liberal hypocrisy, liberal injustice, liberal fake news. That's why we voted for Donald Trump to drain the swamp.

It's natural for liberals to be in denial after the shock of November 2016, as it is natural for children to act out after Daddy took the toys away. But it is time for liberals to realize that we deplorables have been electing Ted Cruzes and Donald Trumps for a reason. The reason is that we want our representatives to fight liberal injustice to the knife.

If Republicans were to allow a Trump impeachment and trial it would probably blow up the Republican Party and get it replaced by something else. And believe me, Democrats: you don't want that.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Liberal Tries to Figure It Out

In the aftermath of the GA06 special election Democrats are trying to figure out how to thread the needle to victory. Up until now their tactic seems to have been anti-Trump all the time.

Only, it turns out that Jon Ossoff ran as a moderate not a blazing anti-Trump radical, while Handel ran as an anti-Pelosi fanatic. Go figure.

So here comes Damon Linker in The Week trying to figure it all out. He realizes that full-on Bernie democratic socialism plus full-on immigration-abortion-gender-bending ain't gonna do it.
This would seem to imply that the most electorally formidable leftist candidate would combine Bernie Sanders' economic populism [Medicare-for-all, free college tuition, and sharp tax hikes for the wealthy] with modest immigration restrictions (Socialism for Citizens) and Bill-Clinton-style moderation on social issues (keeping abortion "safe, legal, and rare"). 
He's probably right, since this position represents a slightly lefty version of Trumpism, one that is lighter on the economic populism and heavier on the immigration restrictions. But then, Linker adds, there is the problem of the missing left-leaning voters. Why are these people staying at home?

Well, maybe it's because they got their welfare and they got their Medicaid and they got their EBT so what's not to like?

When you think about it the Democratic agenda assumes that you are either a rich kid wanting some street action or a helpless victim that can't even get out of bed in the morning to go apply for a job. But most Americans are people that want a growing economy with jobs, jobs, jobs, and help from the government if things turn south. Because most Americans are not Millennials in their parents' basement or single-parent welfare recipients. They are trying to navigate the internet economy and raise their kids and maybe save for retirement, and it's hard.

And here's the thing. You liberals are supposed to be the educated evolved ones. Well, in proposing Medicare-for-all you are piling a new program on top of the regulated special-interest mess you already created with 50 years of liberal politics that started with Medicare/Medicaid in 1965. Here's the chart from usgovernmentspending.com:



So. Government healthcare has gone from one percent GDP to 8 percent GDP and you chaps want more?

The same goes for free college. You guys are already spending a trillion a year on education, and now you want more?

This is the problem of the administrative state. The settled science says that it stinks, because it can't adapt to new situations or fix its existing problems. But liberals want to double down.

There are two problems with this. First is the liberal conceit that "we are the evolved ones." If you chaps don't accept the verdict of science, that the administrative state is a horrible idea that makes things worse, then you are not the evolved elitists you think you are. Second is the crude vote-buying. Surely you liberals have a better idea than merely pandering to the universal human appetite for free stuff?

Because when the administrative state collapses, as in the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Venezuela, it will be the poor that will starve first.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Democrats Hit Reality After GA06

Judging by The New York Times our liberal friends are all getting together to blame Nancy Pelosi for her failure to turn a mildly Republican House seat over to the Democrats in Tuesday's special election.

Reading all the reactions to the Democratic defeat I got to thinking. First of all there is my definition of government that I developed here. It goes:
Government is an armed minority occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters.
And that is all. I developed the talking point from the ideas of St. Augustine, Mao Zedong, and British politician Norman Tebbit. I also threw in Max Weber, so it must be right.

But one thing I missed out, that came through in the aftermath of GA06 and the victory of the very ordinary Karen Handel. Your average armed minority wants to clothe itself in the "decent drapery" of a saving truth. It does not want to think that it is just a band of political robbers, but members of a highly principled movement that is only reduced to using force to bend the arc of history towards justice because of the evil abroad in the land: landlords, capitalists, racists, sexist, homophobes.

Actually, that's not quite right. If you are a Cesar Chavez or a Joseph Stalin you really don't care about the "decent drapery." You are pretty clear that you are interested in power and anyone in your way is going to be wasted. But even they need an enemy that has to be defeated and destroyed.

However, if you are a rich kid, whether a Karl Marx, a Herbert Marcuse, or one of our modern day progressives that wants to get into activism, you really need your "decent drapery" to cover the nakedness of your grab for power. Never mind that the "decent drapery" is really a provocative getup that is significant for what it reveals rather than what it hides.

However, everyone is human, including especially political activists, so it is understandable that since the election the disappointed Democrats are all beating up on Trump and evil Republican racists, sexists, and homophobes rather than tempting the voters with provocative new free stuff.

Nevertheless, in the final analysis politics is not about me and my feelings; it is about doing what it takes to win elections. So the Good Little Liberal Girl at the Ossoff campaign HQ that was captured in tears when she learned of her candidate's defeat makes the point. Don't get mad (or tearful), get even.

And the point was made by the Democratic big cheeses quoted in The New York Times waking up to the fact that their Blame Trump message was not working. So, echoing Disraeli in his political novels, they were basically asking "what is our cry?" That is what the political operatives Taper and Tadpole always wanted to know in Coningsby and Sybil. In modern political speak the Tapers and the Tadpoles talk about "our messaging." As in:
Democrats scrambled to regroup on Wednesday after a disappointing special election defeat in Georgia, with lawmakers, activists and labor leaders speaking out in public and private to demand a more forceful economic message heading into the 2018 elections.
Of course, the question is: do the persuadable voters want to hear that the government will grow the economy to create jobs, or do they want to hear that the government will tax the rich to provide them with bigger benefits? I have to say that I don't know the answer to that. Indeed, that is why we have elections, to let the voters decide who they want to be their rulers.

Because, as Joseph Schumpeter wrote 70 years ago, under Democracy, the people do not get to rule. They just get to select who will rule over them. Actually, they don't even get to do that. They get to vote for Four More Years or for Time for a Change. And that is all.

Although I don't know what the voters think I can tell you what the settled science says. It says that letting the economy grow to create more jobs is how we got the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years. Giving out free stuff is what conquerors and pirates -- and now socialists and progressives -- have done since the dawn of time. And it doesn't create wealth; it just takes it from one set of people and gives it to another.

Until it runs out of other peoples' money.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chelsea Clinton Proves My Two Cultures Theory

I am a theory guy, and I am always trying to think up cute theories to explain the human condition. Like my Three Peoples theory.

But I also have a theory about the basic culture of men and women. Men have a Culture of Insult and women have a Culture of Complaint.

What I mean is that men relate to each other by insults, from the harmless barroom banter up to the fighting words that can only be decided by pistols at dawn across the Hudson at Weehawken, New Jersey. But women are the eternal complainers, which I characterize in the eternal whine: "I can't believe she said that."

That is all very well, you may say, but what about a real world illustration of this wild-eyed theory?

Thank you Senator. I am glad you asked that.

To illustrate my theory I offer the tweets of Chelsea Clinton, Princess of the Blood. They were made in response to a comment by the handsome and talented Steve Bannon about White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Asked why Sean Spicer wasn't appearing on camera, Bannon said "Sean got fatter." Then Chelsea Clinton chimed in.
The White House using fat shaming to justify increased opacity. 2017.
See what I mean? The Steve Bannon comment was classic guy talk: in other words a joshing insult. If these chaps were Irish from Worcester, Mass., the insult would have concluded with a friendly "yer bastard."

But Chelsea Clinton is a woman, for all that she is the daughter of her mother and a princess of the blood. One might say precisely because she is the daughter of her mother. So she utters the classic female "I can't believe he said that" complaint.

Now it is my belief that the reason for the Two Cultures is the profoundly different roles that evolution has carved out for men and women. The essence of being a man is male honor, which James Bowman defines in Honor: A History as the reputation among men for courage, for standing in line of battle with his brother soldiers. Thus the worst insult a man can suffer is an attack on his courage. But honor among women is the reputation for chastity. I do not mean just sexual chastity, but purity in all its possibilities. The accusation: "I can't believe she said that" is an attack on another woman's chastity, her reputation of being a good woman. It is one step away from saying that the other woman is a bitch. But typically a woman will never say that to another woman's face. Instead she will "share" with her friend that "she can't believe that this other woman said that," implying that the other woman is a bitch. And the friend will smile and agree with the complainer. Then she will go off and "share" with her friends what her friend just said and say "I can't believe she said that."

Obviously the whole campus froufra about "microaggressions" and "safe spaces" and
"mansplaining" and so on are pure examples of the woman's Culture of Complaint.

But it is my instinct that you cannot conduct matters in the public square according to the woman's Culture of Complaint. Also I suspect that institutions conducted according to the woman's Culture of Complaint will come to a bad end. That's because I think that a basic frankness and honesty is required to conduct public business, and that an absence of this frankness and its substitution by whispering behind other peoples' backs will harm and ultimately destroy the institution.

But let us do the Eisenhower thing, knowing that if we have a problem we cannot solve, the answer is to make it bigger.

In my view the whole intersectionality movement is a flailing admission that the sexual revolution was a disaster for women. Women are not sexual adventurers and never will be. Women are not the equal of men in the simulated warfare of the political or corporate battlefield, and never will be. Men are fighters and designed to be warriors in the eternal border wars of the tribe. But now that border wars don't matter any more we humans have found other things for men to do that use the talents and instincts of the border warrior. Women are lovers and carers, designed to keep the kids alive until it is time for them to leave the nest, and they always will be. But now that a woman's life is not wholly consumed with childcare we have come up with other caring things for women to do, from nursing to HR to charitable work. But I am sorry: most women are not cut out for battling for corporate market-share. Many women can do it at a pinch, but it makes them look ridiculous.

Here is a real world example of what I mean.

As Steve Sailer has written, women started disappearing from tech about the time, in the early 1980s, that computing stopped being a career and became an adventure. You don't see women in tech start-ups because tech start-ups are reckless expeditions across uncharted oceans, and there is no room for a Culture of Complaint when you have one day's food left and you are a month away from port.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Reign of Liberal Injustice

Ever since the French Revolution the left has been all about Justice. So whatever the issue, whether workers, women, blacks, gays, and now Muslims, conservatives have always been put on the defensive. Who could be against Justice?

At the beginning of each push for justice, the left had a point. The workers worked long hours in miserable conditions back in 1850. Women did not have formal political rights in 1900. Blacks did not have full civil rights in 1950. Gays could not marry in 2000. Something had to be done.

But then there is my notion that there is no such thing as justice. Only injustice.  If it is true, then it would not be surprising to learn that leftist politics leads not to justice but injustice.

Here is an example of what I mean. A young Jewish kid back in the 1980s is lectured by a black preacher about Affirmative Action. If you fold a piece of paper, the preacher said, and then straighten it, the fold is still there. You need to fold the paper the other way to take the fold out.

This is to make the point that in order to erase an old injustice the only just thing to do is to create a new injustice. I don't think so.

But first let us stipulate the basic fact about our age, the Great Enrichment. Back in 1800 per-capita income in the US, adjusted for inflation, was $3 per day. Today in 2017 it is $144. In other words, per-capita income in the US is about 50 times what is was back in 1800. As Deirdre McCloskey writes, there has been nothing like it, ever.

The left argues that it is its education programs, its wage and hour laws, its emancipation of women, its civil rights for minorities that has brought people out of want and marginalization. Really? So has leftist politics made people 50 times more prosperous and liberated? I don't think so. Politics had nothing to do with the Great Enrichment. It merely rode it and took credit for it.

In fact all along, right up until the present moment, all the people in the know have known that nothing but disaster faced us in the future. That  is what Marx was predicting in 1850. Right now they are saying that Amazon is carpet-bombing the economy, or that training programs can't hope to retrain older workers and keep them in the workforce. So we need new government programs -- just what I can't imagine -- to force the economy to... well, to do something.

I argue that the left's program of "refolding" the fold to reverse the legacy of injustice is nothing but simple injustice, and that it only makes things worse.

Let's start with the workers and the wage-and-hours laws and union legislation that began in the 19th century. Do  we know what the workers wanted back then? Did they want to work eight hours a day, or did they want the money from a ten-hour day? We do know that the reason children worked was, usually, because that was the only way to get food in their bellies. Whenever parents could afford it, they sent their children to school instead of to work. Union legislation seemed like a  good idea, but it ended up letting the workers loot the corporation. That's why basic steel companies and auto companies in the US are shadows of their former selves.

And the main point here is that the workers were walking as fast as they knew how from the country to the jobs in the city. Why was that? Today the same thing is happening in China, where something like 12 million people a year are moving from the country to the city. And of course it is happening right now with the migration from the Middle East and Africa to Europe and the US. Living in a crowded tenement or a Grenfell Tower apparently is a small price to pay for getting out of the countryside. I wonder why that is? Could it be the grinding work or the grinding poverty in the countryside?

Either way, the left's good intentions have turned into manifest injustice as the white working class dies of despair after the collapse of the good jobs at good wages in unionized manufacturing. I wonder what would have happened if we hadn't racked up  a stew of privileges for "organized labor" and instead allowed the natural dynamism of the market to direct management and labor into other channels?

Let us look at women. As Georg Simmel wrote a century ago, women have been moving into the public square and they have been adjusting the public square to suit their more feminine sensibility. The reason they have been moving into the public square is that work has become less physical and more social, and that home work, from washing to food preparation, takes less time than a century ago. Also, women are not dying in childbirth like they did. Also, minivans and SUVs allow women to run around all over town and do things that were impossible when you did everything on foot.

But I wonder whether the sexual revolution, abortion, no-fault divorce, and careers for women are really such a good idea -- for women. Sexual revolution and abortion? If you ask me they have turned sex into a meat market, which is exactly the way young men like it. Careers for women? Sure, except that most women want to stay home and raise their children, and want a part-time job. No-fault divorce? Used to be that the rich were getting divorced and the poor were not. Now it is the other way around. Go figure. How about we de-politicize the Woman Question and let women figure it out on their own without the prodding and the conceit of left-wing political activists?

It is perhaps in race politics that the left has left the biggest precipitate of injustice. For it is in race politics that the left has achieved most clearly the opposite of what it advocated. African Americans have struggled to rise in the decades since the civil rights era of the 1960s. And the reason is simple. Liberals have enacted a mountain of injustice on the smoldering remains of Jim Crow. They have enrolled blacks in the lefty activist army and marched them around. But for what? African Americans exhibit the highest crime rates, the lowest marriage rates, and struggle to get out of the city and into the suburbs. Is that what the civil rights revolution was all about?

What about gays? Well, I think it is too soon to tell what the unanticipated consequences of gay politics will be. My only comment, as a 70-year-old grandfather, is to wonder what it means to be a 70-year-old without children and without grandchildren.

It is usual to fault the left for its genocidal crimes: the Ukrainian famine that killed 10 million in the 1930s, the Great Leap Forward that killed 30 million and the Cultural Revolution that bullied and shamed millions more, the Cuban revolution that has kept Cubans in poverty and oppression, the Venezuelan meltdown that is starving millions.

But I want to focus on the other things the left has done, that are not quite crimes but that have misled and ruined the lives of millions. I am talking about leading the workers away from learning how to work with, rather than against, capitalism and the price system. I am talking about force-marching women in a feminist direction rather than allowing them to discover for themselves how to create a more feminine public square. I am talking about stopping civil rights at civil rights and avoiding the injustice of Affirmative Action that has fallen so heavily on the shoulders of the white working class and on the supposed beneficiaries, African Americans.

I believe that we are just beginning the pushback against liberal injustice, and I also believe that, unlike the Enlightenment in the 18th century and the rise of the Left in the 19th century, the pushback is occurring without an intellectual vanguard to prepare the ground. This means that for the current leftist ruling class the pushback is occurring totally unexpectedly out of a clear blue sky, without the usual warning clouds on the intellectual horizon.

That is why the left is so outraged right now. And that is why we are not even at the end of the beginning of the new age, whatever it is and whatever it will become.

Ordinary people are finding out that their lives have been made worse by the intellectual ruling class of the last century. But nobody knows what they will do about it.

All we know is that political power is unjust. And eventually people must rise up against injustice or disappear into the dustbin of history.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Oh Dear. Not Another Push to Make Government More Efficient

Oh dear. The tech titans are meeting at the White House today and one of the items on the agenda is to bring the government up to date. The idea, apparently, is to make the federal government "operate like a modern technology enterprise." After all, "modernizing government services is not politicized."

Oh please. The reason that government is such a mess is not because government hasn't kept up with the new technology. It is because government tries to run the country as though it were a feudal fief, with the lord providing protection to his vassals in return for their fealty or support. And the problem with such vertical relationships is that they are notoriously resistant to change.

The reason we no longer have a feudal system is that it is a system that does not increase human welfare, because it cannot respond to new information. In fact, under the feudal system, the poor go to the wall when periodic famine occurs. Sorry about that.

But under the price system and the exchange economy change is constant and ceaseless and everyone, whether they like it or not -- and usually they do not -- must adjust to the  price signals.

Not surprisingly, people go to government for help when they want to escape from the price system. That's when government sets up a new program to shelter its supporters from the harsh winds of the price system.

But  what about 30 or 50 years down the road? Do we update the program? Do we make it more efficient? Do we blame the program's failure on greedy bankers or uncaring corporate CEOs?

Let us look at a specific example, the catastophic fire at London's Grenfell Tower. This building is what we in the US would call government housing, and the Brits call "social housing" or "council housing." It was built according to fashionable notions in the 1970s (think Pruitt-Igoe) and was refurbished recently according to modern ideas of green energy. Unfortunately it is not owned by the Trump Organization but by government and its unaccountable bureaucrats. And the tenants are not no-nonsense Manhattanites who would be outta there if the management didn't keep the place up; they are welfare recipients and immigrants who only know protest and complaint.

So the question about Grenfell Tower is not who to blame, and whether Theresa May is sufficiently compassionate as the feudal lord of the helpless serfs, but why in the world do we have the government getting into the housing business anyway?

Why does Grenfell Tower exist, 30 years after everyone agreed that tower blocks were a terrible way to warehouse the poor? It is because even though there is garbage in the hallways and discarded mattresses in the doorways, and the residents are always complaining, it is still a pretty good deal for the tenants who are getting half-decent housing at way-below-market rents. Humans will put up with a lot of inconvenience and humiliation when they are getting free stuff.

Grenfell Tower really is a poster-boy for government in general. After years of complaint they put up "cladding" to spiff up the building and make it greener with more insulation. So the bureaucrats were killing two birds with one stone. The first is that such "tower blocks" are stunningly ugly; the second is that they are energy inefficient, being designed before the first OPEC oil embargo. Wonderful. Only the bureaucrats made it worse, because the new cladding was not fire-resistant or fire-retarding but a fire accelerant.

There is settled science on this and if you disagree you are a denier. The settled science is called the Law of Unintended Consequences, and it applies to all government programs. Actually it applies to life in general. In life, when you are faced with an unintended consequence, you fix it. In government you have to wait 30 years until the program is irretrievably broken. And then you paper the problem over with a new efficiency program or technology update and hope that it will go away.

The question remains. Is it better to paper over a failing government program and throw good money after bad? Or not.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Yes, But Who Defines "Good"

Conservatives like to paint the difference between conservatism and liberalism as the difference between absolute values and relativism. Hence George Neumayr in The American Spectator on the aftermath of the baseball shootings.
All of the post-Enlightenment ideologies that inform modern liberalism reject a divinely mandated moral law, which in the end is the only real prohibition on violence. If man’s will is the measure of morality, everything in principle is permitted and politics becomes a game of power that culminates in totalitarianism.

Under liberalism, the central question of politics shifted from goodness to power, from God’s plan for his creatures to man’s unfettered will.
This is all very well, except that liberals deny that there is a God and that there is a divinely mandated moral law. Also, liberals do not say that "man's will is the measure of morality." Rather, they would say that the so-called "divinely mandated divine law" is nothing more than God's will or, worse, the will of some priest determining that he had discovered the mind of God. On that view the "mandated divine moral law" is merely some conceited human's will demanding to be taken as the measure of morality.

The whole point of the Enlightenment was to rethink human society on the basis of human reason, rather than God's will.  Thinkers engaged in an effort to replace morality that issued from God's will or some prophet's will to morality based on the truth discovered in reason. But there is obviously a problem with this. Any great philosophical system is no less an expression of human will than the revelation of God's will in the mind of a priest. And in fact the Enlightenment did in fact birth some of the most horrible human "mandated moral law" in history in the disastrous socialist experiments of the 20th century.

Let us take the principle proposed by Martin Luther King Jr. and echoed by President Obama, that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." That would be a beautiful notion, but many people get the idea that the moral universe needs a bit of agency. That is how President Obama understands it when he says that "you can bend the arc of history in a better direction." Who is "you," Kemosabe? Obviously President Obama did not have Donald Trump in mind as the "you." Who gets to define "justice," and what powers shall they have?

In my view there is a way to get around this: it is to admit that any idea an individual human or a group of humans may have about the "moral law" or about "justice" is going to be incomplete, and that experience will show it to be incomplete and error-ridden. So we must start with the notion that whatever brilliant ideas we come up with for divining the meaning of "life, the universe, and everything," they are bound to be riddled with errors. Moreover, I would argue, any attempt to bend the arc of history is just as likely to bend the arc towards injustice as towards justice. Thus any human effort to discover the principles of the moral law and/or justice must start from the humble admission that "we" don't have all the answers. Or, as some wag said, the ideas of big minds can always be improved by small minds.

OK. So what does this mean? Well, it could mean that the best way to implement "change" is to follow the example of the business "start-up," by starting small and then, after solving the teething problems at a small scale, scale up to a larger size. It could mean that the wrong way to do "change" is to introduce a comprehensive and mandatory government program that starts at full scale, like Obamacare. It could be that capitalism is a very useful system because it is based on the price system that signals to all participants every day what is working and what is not working so that they can discover errors in their thinking and correct them. It could be that government programs in general are a very bad idea because it is almost impossible to change government programs on a day-to-day basis; indeed it is almost impossible to fix government programs when they break.

Today is the birthday of Adam Smith, famous for two works: The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments. According to Fred Smith, these books develop two ideas that have decisively shaped the modern world.
Smith noted that humans’ evolved self-interest trait encouraged people to seek wealth-creating exchanges. That was the key element of his famous work The Wealth of Nations. But Smith also realized that such exchanges require that each party have some knowledge of what the other party seeks and what it would view as a fair deal. And that realization led Smith, in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, to focus on another human trait, empathy.
Self-interest and empathy. We need them both, and both are entwined with each other, in the Hegelian sense where the positive and negative are related to each other. Our own self-interest, in a world where piracy and plunder are discouraged, provokes us to think about other people: what do they need and what are they prepared to pay to satisfy their needs? To serve our own self-interest we have to empathize with the Other and think about what whey want and need in the process of getting what we want and need.

So maybe we discover the nature of the Good by serving our own self-interest through empathizing with the needs and the self-interest of the Other, rather than by divining moral laws and arcs of history.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Liberals' Parallel Legal System

The rich are different from you and me. They get a better break from the legal system. But then you and I get a better break from the legal system than the average inner-city gang member.

This is not really scandalous, writes ZMan. Of course rich kids like Joe Biden's niece are going to get a better deal out the legal system: they have more money and influence.

But we are seeing the rise of another legal system, in parallel with the official government legal system, and you might not like the justice you are likely to get from it. It is the system that is, e.g., sanctioning men for sexual behavior on campus incompatible with progressive values. Like the case of the four Michigan football players.
Here we have four players accused of sexually assaulting a woman. Instead of the cops treating this like any other criminal complaint, the school is in charge of the investigation and the cops are on the sideline. The school brought in a law firm to do an investigation, provide the cops with evidence and then conduct a wide ranging evaluation of school policy and senior personnel. They have also tried and judged the players, removing them from campus and kicking them off the football team.
Actually this is not as strange as it might seem. You would see the same thing when some church decided to "disfellowship" a member for some action or words incompatible with the church's articles of faith. Thus, offenders "are sent into exile as a warning to those who remain inside." There is nothing worse for Cloud People than to be cast out into the wasteland of the Dirt People.

A similar thing is happening with social media, says Zman. Like all rulers, our ruling class would like to shut us all up, but they don't dare do that, not yet. What they can do is outsource "crack downs on political expression" to media companies.

But can our ruling class succeed with this dual-track legal system, outsourcing moral policing to universities and opinion control to liberal corporations? Zman isn´t sure.
Like so much of the managerial state, it is not clear if it is sustainable in the medium run, much less the long run.
 My guess is that it will end it tears. I say that not because I have any crystal ball in front of me, but because the good old legal system of the bourgeoisie is a good one, that gives pretty well everyone space to be themselves within pretty broad limits. In other words it is pretty relaxed about ideological control.

The whole point of the left is just the opposite: it is about getting serious about ideological control. If only we can control the economy and the public square and the ideas in peoples' minds then we can bend the arc of history towards justice.

Only, as I keep saying, there is no such thing as justice, only injustice, the mailed fist of the ruling class or the Cloud People crushing the bodies and/or the minds of the Dirt People.

Some people think that the Trump election was the first stirring in a while of the Dirt People. But we shall see.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How About That Leftie Eliminationist Rhetoric?

Remember back in the innocent days of yore, when liberals and Democrats liked to descant on right-wing eliminationist rhetoric? Not that any right-wing eliminationists actually did much more than talk.

But you know, when ruling-class notables start blabbing about blowing up the White House (Madonna), or holding up the bloody head of President Trump (Kathy Griffin), or doing a production of Julius Caesar featuring President Trump as the famous Dictator (Shakespeare in the Park), well sooner or later some dull Bernie Bro is going to act on the foolish conceits of the fashionables and the notables and the celebrities.

After all, that's how fashion works. Some pretty rich thing gets photographed for The New York Times doing something fashionable, and pretty soon all the fashionable wannabes and doing the same.

Now, what do you think your average Bernie Bro is going to do when all the fashionables are ragging on President Trump and the Republicans and kicking up a huge fuss about Trump and the Russians?

Why, it's almost like it was in the good old days of McCarthyism when evil Republicans were waving pieces of paper around and foaming at the mouth about Communists in the State Department. Really, that was about the most shameful period in  American history. Now we are all wigged out about Trumpists conniving with the Russians to hack the election.

Which is odd, considering that the election is already hacked, by very relaxed registration procedures, to favor the Democrats. You'd think that the Democrats would be as happy as campers considering how the system is biased in their favor.

But the Democrats decided after the 2016 election that they would do the same as they did after the close 2000 election, decided by the US Supreme Court after the contested Florida recount. I think that, from the liberal point of view, the anti-Bush politics of that era turned out to be a stunning success, with the big wins in the 2006 midterms and the 2008 presidential election. Accusing Republicans of everything under the sun really paid big returns at the ballot box.

But now an enthusiastic Bernie Bro got so worked up about the eevil Republicans he learned about on MSNBC that he decided to go out a shoot him a few. Thus the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

Now if this were a Tea Party enthusiast shooting the House Minority Whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), well, you can imagine that the liberals and the Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media would be declaring the end of the world as we know it unless we immediately banned all guns except those in the hands of the security details of prominent liberals and Democrats.

But there were no Tea Party or alt-right enthusiasts involved in the shooting of Rep. Scalise, so really the world is not coming to an end. And, let us not forget, Republicans and Tea Partiers and alt-right are haters and racists and all the rest. So it is not surprising that some overheated Bernie Bro, marinated in the progressive enthusiasm of Democratic politics and of MSNBC hosts, would get a little more enthused about teaching Republicans a lesson than your ordinary peaceful protester or Antifa activist.

Or, as a caller said on Rush Limbaugh's show today: "Rush, I’ve studied Hodgkinson’s Facebook page. His Facebook page looks as hysterical as a 10-person CNN panel on Trump and Russia." Nuff said.

But I have a word of advice to my liberal friends. If I were you I would dial down the #Resistance folks and the Antifa guys and gals and the severed heads and the Julius Caesars in the Park featuring the Trump combover. I'm just a deplorabale racist, sexist, homophobe, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this over-the-top Trump fever is going to cost the Democrats at the ballot box.

And that is all that matters, after all.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Middlebury is Feckless, According to Murray

Libertarian scholar Charles Murray has now written down his view of the Middlebury College incident where lefty college students shouted him down before he could give a talk on his book Coming Apart at the college and students later shoved a Middlebury College professor to the ground and injured her. He calls it "Fecklessness at Middlebury."

According to Murray the ordinary students that were captured on video shouting down his proposed talk were given "probation," and the ones that took "an especially prominent role in the episode" are receiving "college discipline."

Murray has a different idea of the discipline that should have been handed down. He thinks that the students identified on video protesting in the hall should have been suspended for the rest of the term, and those involved in the assault on Murray and a female professor, Allison Stanger, should have been referred for criminal prosecution.

I have to say that if this course of action had been followed the SJWs and special snowflakes all across the land would soon have got the message.

When you compare the two approaches to the incident at Middlebury College one thing comes out clearly. The college is encouraging its students to do more of the same. The college is saying, by its actions, that it has to Do Something, for PR purposes, to pretend that the protesters did something wrong. But really the students were doing the Lord's work. Because racism is racism, and must be opposed by all woke progressives else the arc of history will fail to bend towards justice. Certainly Charles Murray should be opposed anywhere and everywhere, because The Bell Curve. Not that any liberal ever read the book.

I was inclined to think that Murray's "fecklessness" headline was giving the liberal bureaucrats too much slack. Because this culture of excusing the street thugs of progressivism from the reach of the criminal law is monstrous. Haven't liberals been telling us since forever how unjust it was for the Weimar authorities in Germany to turn a blind eye to the Nazi street thugs of the 1920s?

But then I decided that "fecklessness" is probably appropriate, because your average college administrator and/or professor is a klueless klot that doesn't know nothing about nothing. All they know is the latest liberal line handed down from the ruling class in the latest vile liberal talking points. They are not thinking about where their unjust application of the law and their betrayal of simple fair play leads, because that is way above their pay grade.

Like I say: the reason for an equal application of the law -- making your side obey the rules as well as the evil other side -- is that the alternative is injustice. If you bear down on the evil racist sexist homophobes and make them obey the letter of the law but give your own supporters the benefit of the doubt, then you are encouraging your opponents to get angry. That's because applying the letter of the law to the good guys while bearing down on the bad guys is simple injustice. It is what ruling classes all down the ages have tended to do, right up until the rebels besiege the royal palace and the army decides not to shoot the rebels and the king and his henchmen are lucky to get away with their lives, unlike Louis XVI who was really a pretty decent guy, with Marie Antoinette who was nothing more or less than your average Dis-e-ney princess. But Louis XVI ran out of other peoples' money. Never do that.

So this is my declaration of faith. I believe that the liberal "resistance" and the liberal assault on ordinary middle-class white guys, and the unjust assault on male college students, and the assault on non-lefty speakers on campus are all a strategic mistake. Whenever a ruling class starts out on a program of injustice, of beating up it opponents and turning a blind eye to the bullying tactics of its supporters, it is almost always favoring the few at the expense of the many. And it is provoking the many to get together and form a head of rebellion.

And who knows where that will end up. Unless the ruling class is prepared to go full Mao or Stalin and terrorize its opponents.

So yes, our liberal friends are indeed "feckless." They really are clueless. And that is going to cost them.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Let's All Hate on the Baby Boomers

Since the Baby Boomers are now munching down on Social Security and Medicare, at enormous expense, it is natural for our younger friends to get a little shirty.

After all, Social Security and Medicare are flat-out generational injustice. The federal government has a compulsory and mandatory program to which workers are forced to contribute, and seniors get to collect on a formula that has nothing to do with what the young workers can afford, as they struggle to get a job, get married, and raise a family.

But Social Security was passed in 1935, before the Baby Boom was even a twinkle in its father's eye. And Medicare was passed in 1965, before the Baby Boom got to vote.

But the Baby Boom could have Done Something about it. It could have reformed Social Security and Medicare; it could have protected the family; it could have rallied against the race and gender politics of the liberals.

So the Baby Boomers went 100 percent for sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Of course, doesn't every young generation want to let it all hang out? So the Baby Boomers fought against the Vietnam War -- like the Irish rioted against the draft in 1863 in New York City. Young 'uns generally don't like fighting in their fathers' wars, unless, as in World War II, they have no option.

Let's divide and conquer. Let's talk about the liberal Baby Boomers. The truth is that they believed in everything they did to destroy the Fifties world, because they thought that world was racist and sexist and oppressive. They were taught by their teachers to be civil-rights workers and Peace Corps volunteers and they went out and did it. They weren't perfect -- hello Bill and Hillary -- but basically they were good little boys and girls that learned their lessons well and applied them exactly as ordered.

What about conservative Baby Boomers? Well, we came into the world and didn't like the liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. we agreed with the Cold War and many of us served in the military. We worked, we wived, we thrived, and now we have built a nice retirement for ourselves way beyond the government entitlements. We wanted to reform the welfare state and we succeeded here and there. Of course, we were hypocrites and backsliders and didn't always live up to what we professed. But it wasn't the hypocrisy that beat us, it was that overall, we failed; we failed to change the culture, and now America is roiled in a culture war where it is very difficult for anyone to stand against the liberal hegemony without losing job and reputation.

And then there are the ordinary people, the ordinary middle class and working class Baby Boomers that just did what they could to live their lives, without any thought that they could or should change things.

The truth is that we are in the middle of something that is much bigger and consequential than the post-WWII Baby Boom. We are in the middle of a battle to decide between two great contesting notions of how the world should work.

On the one hand is an unexpected, unsought-for Great Enrichment, from $3 per person per day to the present $145 per person per day, that has issued from the market economy and the failure of the ruling class to prevent innovation from changing the world.

On the other hand is the notion that politics and government can transform the world, that government programs and administrative systems can and should provide a better, more just distribution of the good things in life, particularly the material things in life.

On the one hand we have a faith in social cooperation with the minimum of force; on the other a faith that bold, vigorous experimentation with political and administrative systems is the only way to roll back centuries of privilege and exploitation.

At some point, and it may not be far in the future, these competing faiths will be brought to the proof. For me, the question is not in doubt: the big government philosophy of systems and government domination will run out of money and collapse, à la Venezuela, because nothing less than utter failure will prompt a turning from the big government model and its tempting offer of free stuff.

And yet. The two great socialist states, Russia and China, have abandoned the follies of full-on socialism, but not the faith in ruling-class supremacy, and the right of a ruling class to meddle and loot the people that work and strive for a living.

And governments have not really got beyond the economics of the Dark Ages, when the Carolingian kings thought that markets were a good idea, especially if they charged 10 percent duty on all transactions.

But by all means blame the Baby Boom. we grandpas and grannies are old and cranky, and it is time to set us straight.

Friday, June 9, 2017

It's June, So The May Days are Over

After the debacle of the election in Britain, where Prime Minister May managed to give away a huge pre-election poll lead to a hung Parliament, the only recourse is to Shakespeare.

A couple of weeks ago I read a piece by a British Conservative crowing that the Tories had finally put it all together, economic freedom of Thatcher, the tradition of Lord Salisbury, and the populism of Disraeli.

But now we are reminded, from Macbeth, the truth about politics
      It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
We humans always want to breathe meaning into the world, as in Douglas Adams' memorable line about the meaning of "life, the universe, and everything." But reality always reminds us that, whatever the meaning is, it has surely escaped us, up until now.

So the Brits will stumble on, governed by the usual idiots, either the cuckservative May or the lefty Corbin.

To hope for anything else, of course, is to become Falstaff, who whimpered to Prince Hal that
I would 'twere bedtime, Hal, and all well. 
Prince Hal tells Falstaff that he owes God a death, and Falstaff goes into a long prose soliloquy about honor in which he decides that he'll have "none of it. Honor is a mere scutcheon."

And yet to live with honor is a far, far better thing than to live like als Knecht, as a serf.

We all want our worries and our fears resolved, by bedtime if not sooner, but the truth is that the world spins on in riot and confusion. Perhaps the big problem is our Newtonian science, that delivered a mechanical regularity to planetary orbits and artillery shells, and inspired humans to extend it into the super-mechanical philosophy of socialism and the materialist program of Communism, the fantasy that we could order our affairs on Earth with the mechanical organization of an 18th century platoon with its officers in front and its file-closers in back.

What we have learned, from the revolution in science that began with Einstein's revolutionary papers on relativity and black-body radiation is that the basic fact of life, the universe, and everything is the uncertainty and improbability of the micro-world, where everything issues from a roll of the dice, or maybe not.

So Theresa May gambled and lost; so the ruling class in the US put up Hillary Clinton and can't believe she lost to a Trump. So we normals would like to get back to simple wiving and thriving and forget the poison of political correctness perched uneasily on top of big government entitlements. So liberals would like to save the planet from plant food, carbon dioxide, and Islamists would like to purify the world for the sake of Mohammed, peace be upon him. So President Trump would like to make America Great Again, and liberals would like to celebrate diversity while denying conservatives the right to speak at their universities. So some of us want to deal decisively with terrorism; so others want to fight hate and xenophobia.

Truly, a tale told by an idiot... and yet surely we must believe in a glorious sunset into which every hero will eventually ride.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Liberals Want to Take Their Dollies Home

For years and years liberals have insisted that conservatives bow the head and submit to liberal hegemony. But now that a Republican has won the presidency and is beginning to roll back liberal policy, liberals are having a fit and are threatening to take their dollies home if we won't play according to their rules.

So California is going to double down on its green energy program, even as it suffers under the second highest electric rates in the nation. And it's proposing to do its own single-payer health plan.

There are two things wrong with this. First, that the whole green energy thing is a scam, a direct equivalent of the revivalist preachers that relieved credulous widows of their savings in return for the promise of salvation. Second, that the single-payer notion is a scam that will deliver VA level health care to the poor and the middle class while the rich go in for medical tourism. It's the science, liberals.

But hey, that's what federalism is all about: let the states experiment all they like, and then see where Americans want to go to live.

But probably California's moves to run its own climate program and its own health care system are half-baked liberal ideas, like the half-baked idea that the Russians hacked the election.

Oh and like the half-baked idea that liberal activist groups should get a payoff from settlements reached by the Justice Department, just terminated by Attorney General Sessions. Imagine the wailing and the gnashing of teeth if conservative activist groups like Judicial Watch got loot from the Justice Department!

Now we have Dennis Prager worrying about a cold civil war turning violent.

Do liberals have a deep and dark plan to neutralize all opposition and create a one-party state?

I suspect that liberals are idiots, and the SJWs are worse.

I think that liberals are operating under a fundamental delusion. That delusion is that they are the guerrillas in the hills valiantly battling against the entrenched forces of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Oh, and hate.

Of course, this is nonsense. Liberal students are running riot in the universities not because they are valiant protesters battling against the system but because their college presidents and administrators have taught them to be activists and protesters, and they are simply good little boys and girls doing exactly what their ruling-class teachers have taught them.

That is why I have advanced my notion that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. Injustice is what the ruling class dishes out through its control of the government and the public square and the good little boys and girls in the university. Disagree with a liberal and you could lose your job, or have your social media accounts suspended. But if you are Black Lives Matter spewing racist bile, no problem. If you are a Muslim extremist spewing religious bigotry, no problem.

Justice is what the outs are fighting for; they are fighting to end the domination and hegemony of the ruling class. But once the outs get in power then all they are doing is imposing their ideas on the rest of society, as liberals do today.

I just think that liberals have no clue what they are doing. They are religious enthusiasts pushing their Truth upon an ignorant hive of superstition. They have no clue what their ruthless deployment of power is doing in the hinterland. They all go to school and learn Activism 101 and think it's great. But activism is stylized violence against the Other, and the Other doesn't like it.

What is more, Activism 101 is teaching a lie. It is not about brave young insurgents risking life and limb battling against The Man and his bribed apologists; it is the ruling class teaching its young scions how to intimidate the rubes.

As I understand history, its periods of activism, of revolutions, of Reigns of Terror, of Awakenings are necessarily short. That's because you cannot keep the fervor up forever. For one thing, as Crane Brinton writes in Anatomy of Revolution, ordinary people hate the mobilization and the regimentation. Pretty soon they want to get back to work, and get married and have children. They are not, and never can be, permanent revolutionaries.

We are in the swing of events right now, and cannot tell what will come of them. My prediction is that liberals are in for a nasty shock, and I suspect that the mechanism for applying the shock is going to be the liberal refusal to defend us against Islamic terrorism.

The remedy for Islamic terrorism is pretty simple. You send anyone involved in an Islamic terror cell back to the Middle East. But liberals won't let us do it, and eventually it is going to cost them.

But meanwhile liberals are in a snot that we normals won't play according to their rules, and they want their dollies back.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Some Things You Can't Even Give Away

The Lady Marjorie and I have been cleaning out her mother's condo in Philadelphia. And we have learned a few things.

When you are clearing out grandma's house there are three categories of Stuff.

  1. Stuff that people will pay for.
  2. Stuff that you can give away.
  3. Stuff that you cannot give away.
You can get auction houses to come and get stuff that can fetch them a half decent price.  There are all kinds of ways you can do this, depending on who is going to pick up the risk on what it is all going to sell for.

You can take all kinds of stuff to Goodwill and the other charities that accept donations.

But it is the final category that interesting: the stuff you cannot give away, the stuff that you have to pay someone to take off your hands, the stuff that the auction houses don't want and Goodwill won't accept.

In other words, this stuff is worth less than nothing.

Here is what I am talking about. World Book Encyclopedia. Goodwill won't take it, because nobody wants an encyclopedia these days. Golly, I wonder why. Here is something else: electric typewriters. Nobody wants these miracles of mechanical technology any more, not unless it is an antique manual model. What a shame!

OK. So you that throw these things in the dumpster. But there is something more.

Nobody wants wall units, those majestic pieces of floor-to-ceiling furniture that once supported your stereo, your TV and VCR, and displayed your china collection.

You can see why. Encyclopedias? You can get it for free on the Internet. Typewriters? Hey, it's not just that you can type up anything you want on your laptop; you can dictate into your smartphone. You can even dictate into your smartphone and have it translate into another language.

But the sacred shrines of the household, the wall units, what about them?

It is obvious. Today, people hang giant-screen TVs up on the wall, and they stream everything with Apple TV, or Roku, or Amazon Fire. But what about those china collections? I suppose the answer is that china is not an expensive luxury any more. Good china, cups, mugs, glassware are no longer prized possessions. You can get 'em good and cheap anywhere. Who needs to announce their wealth and taste with stuff anymore?

There is more: mattresses, box springs, upholstered furniture. Forget it. You have to pay to get people to take 'em away. And the guy that took ours away says that stuff is worth less than ever before. He used to get $300 for a trucklead; now he is looking at clearing $100. It's hardly worth bothering. So you have to pay him to take it away.

Well, I don't know the moral and epistemological meaning of all this, whether it speaks of our obscene wealth or our obscene decadence.

I only close with this. When the World Bank did a study on wealth (pdf) back in 2000 they found that physical capital from resources, land, and plants and equipment added up  to a minor part of our capital and wealth. In the advanced countries "intangible capital," the stuff between peoples' ears, amounted to about 80 percent of all wealth.

So it really is true what they say. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal..."

But I say: What about grandchildren? Is it OK to lay up a batch of grandchildren? I hope so.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Muslim Problem Solved. Except...

My grandfather, who ran a small export business in Japan until WWII intervened, used to declare that "it's all over bar shouting."

So I am here to announce that the Muslim problem has been solved: it's all over, bar shouting.

It's all in a piece by David P. Goldman.

The Muslim problem is quite simple. Ordinary Muslims in the West are more afraid of the terrorists than they are of the police.

Right now, according to Goldman, the intelligence services attempt to penetrate the Muslim terror gangs by seeding them with Muslim criminals that get out of jail free by agreeing to inform on their terror pals. But the terrorists are on to the bureaucrats' game and so make the informers prove their loyalty to the Muslim cause by performing terror acts.

That is why almost all the terror attacks are committed by "known wolves."

No kidding. This makes a whole lot of stuff make sense.

The problem is not that different from the black gang problem, as told by Jill Leovy in Ghettoside. Everyone knows who done it, after some drive-by killing, but nobody will inform against a gangbanger, because they are afraid. On the other hand, black inner-city residents rail against the police that arrest gangbangers for minor offenses.

It was Civil War generals Sherman and Sheridan that taught us how to deal with terrorists and their sympathizers. Writes Goldman:
We don't have to be particularly smart; we merely have to do some disgusting things. Sherman and Sheridan suppressed sniping at Union soldiers by Confederate civilians by burning the towns (just the towns, not the townsfolk) that sheltered them. In other words, they forced collective responsibility upon a hostile population, a doctrine that in peacetime is entirely repugnant, but that in wartime becomes unavoidable.
By the way, did you know that Gen. Sheridan was an adviser to the Prussians in 1870 and taught them how to deal with French snipers and hostile populations?

We probably don't have to do anything that disgusting. The lesson comes from the solution to the "anarchist" problem in the US before and after World War I. I wrote about it here (H/T Steve Sailer).

The solution was to deport the anarchists, who were usually European immigrants, like Sacco and Vanzetti and the sainted Emma Goldman. After about 556 anarchists were deported the whole thing died down.

Except of course that our lefty friends have canonized the martyrs to the faith, as well they might.

Now, I must say that I am very encouraged by all this, because I see the solution to the Muslim problem also solving the world's lefty problem. Yay!

See, the only reason we have not gone Full Sherman is because of lefties, because they have selected Muslims as the next group "outside the system" for whom they are going to advocate for their "rights." I have written about this here and here. This advocacy for people outside the system made a lot of sense in 1850 when the workers were outside the system, and again, sorta, when women got the vote, and again when the Civil Rights Acts ended the Jim Crow era in the US South.

By the way, the KKK was the South's way to go Full Sherman and terrorize the people in the South so that they would fear the KKK more than the federal Reconstruction troops and officials.

My biggest fear right now is the escalating Partisan Stress Index of Peter Turchin and his Ages of Discord. Left and right in America are raising the stakes on each other, to levels last reached in the 1850s. Eventually it could lead to civil war again.

I don't know about you, but I really do not want civil war in the good old USA.

But not if the Big Problem is Muslim terrorism. That's because the only real job that justifies the obscene cost of government is to Keep Us Safe.

Sooner or later the people will demand that the government Keeps Us Safe from Muslim terror. They will blow right by the left's vile lies about "hate" and "xenophobia" and "Islamophobia." They will ask the President "Is it Safe," and the President will respond by applying Shermanesque tactics to frighten the moderate Muslims into abandoning the extremists in their midst.

Obviously, we are not at the point where the President sends troops into Muslim neighborhoods to burn all their houses down. But I reckon that the first politician that figures out how to square the circle, by deporting Muslims back to their hellholes if they have information about terrorists in their midst and did not report it, is going to have a very big career.

And the point about President Trump is that he is starting to set out markers on the Muslim question, such as with his Muslim Ban from selected terror-supporting countries. Lefties are setting out markers about "hate" and "Islamophobia." Eventually, the American people will have to choose.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Fundamental Fantasy of the Left

Radical leftie Freddie de Boer has a piece out warning the left that the Iron Law of Institutions, the notion that people work to maximize their power within an institution rather than work for the institution, also includes a statement of lefty principle, which is worth quoting.
[S]ocialism is desirable in part because it’s only socialism that guarantees true freedom, the freedom to live and behave free of want. We’re the movement that can make people really free because once in power we can let them pursue their own interests free of hunger, homelessness, and so on.
Very nice. But who is going to provide "the freedom to live and behave free of want"? Oh, I see, it is "us," because "once in power we can let them pursue their own interests "free of hunger, homelessness, and so on."

This is reminiscent of Nancy Pelosi telling us how Obamacare would let artists and writers stop worrying about paying for health care, so they could get on with writing and painting.

But socialism doesn't remove the who-whom question that Lenin raised. It just concentrates it in the "once in power people," the "We." Someone has to produce the goods and services so that people can "live and behave free of want," and someone has to tell them what to do.

Actually, there is no world "free of want." We all want, and that is why we work in the world. The question is who-whom. Who works, who consumes, who gives the orders, who takes the orders.

The bigger question is whether there is a social system that minimizes the giving of orders, and limits the power that is brought to bear on individual humans to get with the program and produce so that others may consume.

It is the faith of the socialists or the "Democrats and liberals from the radical left, the political tendency [de Boer] belong[s] to" that peace and justice and freedom from want are enhanced by a socialist politics. I would say that their faith is a delusion, proved by the history of the last 100 years.

The only alternatives that we know of are a system whereby a market with prices for everything from labor to cough drops signals to each and every one of us what we should do (or more important, not do) to get what we want. The other system is one in which powerful people, either feudal lords or politicians and their socialist managers, tell people what to do.

We have some history on this. Starting in about 1800 a market-based system started up in some lands of northwest Europe. The result over 200 years was an increase in per-capita income of about 3,000 percent, something that had never happened before in human history, ever.

Starting about a century ago, a socialist-based system started up in the lands of Russia and China. The result was famine and horror, and the leaders of both countries have stopped trying to implement socialism, mainly, I suspect, because a poor country can't throw much weight around in international power politics.

Now Freddie de Boer allows as how in any week he probably attends an "organizing meeting, union meeting, or protest" and very likely more. In other words, he believes in the power of politics, of the power of a union to extract more for wage-earners from the bosses, and the power of a government to extract more for voters from the rich.

I have a fundamental problem with this, apart from the history, which is pretty clear. The whole point of social animals is to declare a zone of peace in which the use of force is avoided as much as possible. Usually this is achieved by hierarchy, where the bottom dogs cringe before the power of the top dogs; but at least there is no actual force, not usually.

In the market system of price signalling the top dog is the price, and everyone cringes before the price. That is how the use of force is diminished.

The problem with socialism and all politics-centric ideas is that they reintroduce force into the place of social peace. They say that the peaceful process of working and consuming according to the dictates of prices just doesn't work. The only way is by force, by replacing the work boss -- with the power of hiring and firing -- with the political boss -- with the power of the state, or men with guns.

It is the easiest thing in the world to pretend that what I do with power is just sweetness and light, whereas what other people do is the work of Satan.

But I believe that the way to understand politics and government is that there is no such thing as justice. Only injustice meted out by the chaps in power.

And that is why it is best that the people in power should always be thinking about what the people on the receiving end of their power think about it.

For some reason, people in power don't tend to think about this, not until it is too late.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Trump's Paris Climate: Sound and Fury

Yesterday, June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

In response coal-plant investor and environmental enthusiast Tom Steyer talked about Trump's action committing "assault and battery on the future of the American people." And the AP released a "scientists say" article brimming with ruling-class conventional wisdom.

What on earth is going on here?

First of all, there is the complaint of my old boss, Stuart Alexander. He once complained about how the people working under him, especially the software people, were always going off on tangents.

Exactly. Life is hard, and people are always eager to take a break from the job in hand and worry about someone else's job.

Politicians are in charge of protecting their people from enemies foreign and domestic. But they spend most of their time doing other stuff, like regulating the fuel economy of cars and pretending that health care can be reduced to an administrative system.

Climate-change politics is an almost irresistible temptation for politicians because it is a war that isn't a war. As I say, the whole point of government is to protect us from existential perils, from the Soviet Union to global Islamic terrorism. What about catastrophic climate change? It is, you may say, Minecraft for the grown-up ruling class.

But it is all make-believe. Here's why.

In the first place, scientists have developed climate models that do not model the future. In yet another proof of God's existence, the climate has "paused" in the years since the climate models were developed. The world just is not heating up as much as the models predicted and continue to predict.

As Richard Feynman, a scientist, once said. If you gin up a theory and it doesn't predict then your theory is wrong. You better start over.

Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and more CO2 will tend to warm the earth but we don't know how much.

Yes, the Earth is warming, but we don't really know why.

Yes, there is a "pause" in warming right now, but we don't know why.

Yes, the Earth has been warming since the Little Ice Age, but we don't know why.

Yes, the Earth is in an interglacial period in an Ice Age, but we don't know why.

Oh yeah. We have theories about all this stuff, but nothing dispositive.

Let's think about this in a completely different way, using the Antifragile notion of Black Swan inventor, Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

His point is that the problem for anyone is not the routine stuff; it is the unexpected catastrophic event. In finance, it is the financial crash. In politics it is invasion.

But what about climate? I'd say that the catastrophic event is not runaway climate due to increased CO2. We've seen the Earth with more CO2 in the past and with less CO2.

(Actually less CO2 is not good, because at about half the current CO2 concentration plants start to give up and stop photosynthesis.)

Let us start from the top.

What about an asteroid impact? What would we do to make sure that human life continues? That the US continues? That my grandchildren continue? In that order.

What about a Carrington event, a pulse of electromagnetic radiation (EMP) that takes out all electronics? What do we do to mitigate that? First, we would want to be sure that we can restart electronics. Then we would want to reduce the loss of life due to the pause until normal service is resumed.

What about nuclear war, such as an attack by the Norks? Star Wars? Aid to the devastated city?

What about Venezuela, where political stupidity wrecks a nation's economy? What about that?

What about the End of Entitlements, our own rendez-vous with Venezuela?

And finally, what about the Earth's temperature rising faster than it is right now?

Here's my judgement. I'd say that on nukes, Venezuela, entitlements, climate, we can just muddle through, as usual. And it wouldn't hurt for each of us to Go Mormon, and have a stash of emergency supplies handy.

It is on EMP and asteroids that government can help, for a start by moving electronics and the electricity system towards some kind of antifragility. There is no doubt that the bigger the event, the more people will die. But each of us had better understand that the ultimate goal is to make sure that some of us survive.

How much would it cost to make all of us survive? Most of us? Some of us?

That is assuming that we humans survive the advent of AI, of artificial intelligence.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

To Teach Liberals a Lesson, Re-elect Trump

There have been a lot of conservatives this week saying, OK, that's it. we can't be good guys any more. We have to hit back at the left: their violent protesters, as at Berkeley and Middlebury, and now Washington State's Evergreen State College, their suppression of everything conservative; their open vileness towards President Trump in the Kathy Griffin severed head episode.

Chaps like Ace of Spades are saying, OK, that's it; I'm done being nice; I'm going to return blow for blow.

Look, I get it. That's why I now say that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice, because whatever the ruling class does when it is in power always amounts to injustice.

As in Barack Obama weaponizing the intelligence community against Republicans and non-liberal Americans in general.

The thing is that we don't have enough media to go blow for blow in the You Did It First department.

But the way to sort the left, as the Brits would say, is to keep the House and Senate in 2018 and re-elect Donald Trump in 2020.

And to do that we need the support of decent middle-aged Good Little Girls that right now are repelled by Trump's bar-room persona. They need to decide that the vile lefty Social Justice Warriors are much worse, and they need to be telling all their friends about the husband of a friend that lost his job because he wasn't "woke" enough at work. "I can't believe they did that."

The point is that this happened before. That was what The Sixties was all about. The left at the time thought it was carrying all before it, that fundamental transformation was right around the corner. Only it wasn't.

First, Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968. Believe me, that was a shock to our lefty friends, but never mind: the anti-war protests swelled, and National Guard troops fired on peaceful protesters at Ohio's Kent State University.

But then Richard Nixon won reelection in a 60-40 vote over uber-liberal George McGovern, the dream liberal candidate. Liberals were so angry that they ginned up an impeachment against Nixon for doing what every Democrat does before breakfast. You know, like weaponize the IRS against the Tea Party.

But the defenestration of Richard Nixon didn't stop the anti-liberal wave, because Ronald Reagan got elected in 1980, despite being an amiable dunce and a B-movie actor that just could not master the details of "governance."

Sound familiar?

Let the record show that it took from 1968 to the aftermath of 1988 for liberals to realize that their fundamental transformation had locked them out of the White House.

And then, don't forget, the Clintons and the rest of the liberal machine thought that their election in 1992 was Katy bar the door. Only it wasn't. The 1994 midterm was a shocker -- and I was there, volunteering for a GOP House candidate in Washington State -- as Republicans won control of Congress for the first time since 1952.

Maybe Marx is wrong, and history won't repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

But I'd say there's a darn good chance that we are going to see a repeat of the Sixties. And the reason is that the cultural enthusiasm for revolution and "resistance" just does not resonate with ordinary middle-class people.

The reason is not hard to find. Revolution and resistance are conceits of rich kids, Marxes and Ayers (son of a Commonwealth Edison exec) and people that have been converted to liberalism by their college experience. But most people just want kids and a job and a nice home; they do not have a clue what LGBT and intersectionality and critique are all about, and they do not understand the enthusiasms of the social-justice left.

Just remember, it took 20 years, from Nixon to Bush I, for liberals to realize that they had a problem. They had to be beaten by the evil Nixon, by the B-movie actor Reagan twice, by the colorless Bush before they would be ready to think that they had a problem.

How long to you think it would take this time?