Friday, September 29, 2017

Three Reasons Why Protest is Poppycock

Yes, it was Marx that said "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

Thanks Chuck, I needed that. I think you will agree, old chap, that we are certainly in the farce era where leftist "protest" is concerned.

Because when millionaire black football players are "taking a knee" to protest police brutality against African Americans we are not talking about the wretched of the earth desperately trying to get the ear of the ruling class. We are talking about privileged young men who, like a young woman I once knew, want to get into "activism."

And African Americans are not the wretched of the earth. They are a "protected class," a race specifically called out in the laws of the United States for special consideration. I know: can you spell racism?

Hey, Hegel "remarks somewhere" -- actually in The Phenomenology of Mind -- that the thing and its opposite are really the same, as in the north pole and the south pole of a magnet. So racism and anti-racism are really one and the same. Ask the anti-fascists of Antifa about that.

But the basic thing about "protest" is that it is a show of force. Every protest says: accede to our non-negotiable demands or we will fill the streets with real violence. That is why they used to talk about "marches" and "demonstrations" before the advent of that peculiar catchphrase "peaceful protest."

There are three things wrong with the left-wing culture of protest.

The first is that the threat of violence is only appropriate for individuals and groups outside the system, that do not have a vote and a representative in the councils of power. That is the whole point of universal suffrage and representative government, to make sure that everyone has a right to be heard in the councils of government. And you will notice that our liberal ruling class makes it its business to represent everyone that might possibly be regarded as "marginalized," and outside the system. In other words, even illegal immigrants are represented by the system. So no need for protest. But note well, dear liberals, that the right to be heard is not the same as getting your way.

The second is that protest, shows of force, by people inside the system, like NFL players, is in fact a betrayal of the whole point of having representative government. The idea is that we will not resort to threats of violence or violence itself or the hell of civil war. Instead we will resolve our disagreements by bargaining and votes in the various representative councils, and the loser accepts the verdict and goes home in peace, resolved to "fight" at the next election. But as soon as you have a protest you are saying, forget it. If I don't get my way I'm going to resort to force. The point of protest is to intimidate the supposed ruling class. But notice that in today's world almost all protests are in fact endorsed by the liberal ruling class. It is considered scandalous for conservatives to protest about anything, because white privilege.

The third is that every wrong in the world cannot be solved by politics. It is one thing to use politics to stop government actively discriminating against people by race, as was done in the Jim Crow era. "Everyone" can agree to stop that. But what about forbidding people to discriminate in the private sector? That's what Barry Goldwater was voting against when he voted against the Civil Rights Act; but Barry Goldwater was a libertarian. And then what about mandating representative percentages of traditionally marginalized groups in corporations, through polices of diversity and inclusion. I would say, following Hegel and Marx that "diversity and inclusion" are the farcical end-point of the whole idea that you can legislate equality, and prove Hegel's point that the thing and its opposite are really the same, for "diversity" seems to be a doctrine of suffocating uniformity and "inclusion" seems to be profoundly exclusive. To me, at least.

So let's get back to first principles. The whole point of the 18th century ideas of limited government was that the powers of government should be limited, so that people of different opinions and faith had a space to live and were not commanded by the force of government in every detail of their lives. Also, they thought, if you allowed government greater powers it would cause people disadvantaged by the petty authoritarianism of government officials to form a head of rebellion.

Now it is my view that it is pretty grand of liberals to complain about the abusive tweets of President Trump. Have not liberals been calling their opponents names these 50 years and more, as racist, sexist, homophobes, and now "white supremacists?" What is the vile accusation of "racist" next to "sons-of-bitches?"

What do you think happens when you stigmatize people, day after day, year after year, with your vile pejoratives, liberals? Why, I'd say that one day people will get fed up with representatives that won't stand up to liberals and they will elect a president that can dish it out to liberals and tell 'em to put it where the sun don't shine.

So don't be surprised if the liberal "protest" culture inspires a countervailing protest culture in the nation's normals. The only thing I know about such a culture is that liberals will hate it and be completely bewildered about where it came from.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Obamacare is Like Any Government Program

My Man Kevin D. Williamson does a pretty fair job of pointing out why Obamacare necessarily was and is a failure. It's because, he writes, any human activity in necessarily a process of trial and error, making mistakes and fixing them. Or, in other cases, just admitting failure and moving on.
Emotionally mature people and highly effective institutions are quick to admit error. The best of them in fact embrace periodic failure as a necessary part of experimentation, learning, and institutional evolution. (Megan McArdle covers this ground brilliantly in The Up Side of Down.)
But then he chokes up.
Feedback matters. One of the reasons the private sector often is so much more effective than government is that market competition forces firms and entrepreneurs to admit error or suffer dire financial consequences.
I think Kevin misses the point here. The point is that people create government programs precisely because they do not want to admit error. They do not want to follow the dictates of the price system. They do not want to follow the verdict of the consumers. They want something free or subsidized and they want other people to pay for it. And then after they get it they get mad if anyone proposes to reduce their subsidy or free stuff.

The whole point of government is to enact the conceit that you can enact any law, lay new taxes, and then sit back for ever and ever admiring your handiwork. That is just not how things work in the real world. In the real world you launch a product and, assuming it isn't a failure from the word go, you spend the next few years getting the bugs out, and really, you never stop adjusting the product and its price in response to price and consumer signals. But government can't do that. That's because the congresscritters and presidents have other fish to fry.

That is why nobody has done anything about Social Security even though it is going to run out of money. That is why the government used Obamacare to make a bunch of changes to Medicare under the table while everyone was arguing about the 35 million without health insurance. That is why education gets more and more expensive but doesn't improve its results.

The reason is that just about everything the government does is an attempt to deny reality. It is the earthly equivalent of religion, which is an attempt to believe that all will come right in the end: the good will go to Heaven and the evil will go to Hell. Or be reincarnated as cockroaches.

The official word on this was enunciated by Ludwig von Mises in his 1920 paper, "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth." He argued that while the socialist commonwealth could decide, e.g., how much wine to produce, the problem of how to produce it, and what means, and with what intermediate products and where, and with respect to other possible uses of the means of production immediately becomes too complicated for bureaucratic administration. The human mind "would simply stand perplexed before the problems of management and location." And so, in the socialist commonwealth the socialist manager decides to do nothing. Not until the perplexing problem becomes a national crisis. In other words, without the guidance the price system the socialist manager just does not know what to do. So he blunders forward, making mistake after mistake, only without the price system to give him feedback he does not correct his mistakes, and anyway, the one thing a politician cannot admit is making a mistake.

You can say at least that the folks that look to government have a clear idea of what they want. They want to be free of the stress and heartache of having to face up to the realities of day-to-day life in the marketplace. And when they enact their particular program they get to capture the work of their fellow citizens and apply it, gratis, to supplying their wants. But then things start to go downhill: slowly in the case of Social Security; rapidly in the case of Obamacare. And then the stress and heartache return, big time.

But not to worry. Most of the things that government does are not really that important. Pensions? Well, it is nice to give grandpa some money, but if grandpa didn't get his check the world would go on. Education? Yes, even education is probably not doing that much for us. If government education collapsed tomorrow then mothers would take over. And since most women are now numerate and literate they could teach the three Rs of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic to the kids in the neighborhood. Health care is a similar good. It is only one of the seven or eight factors contributing to our modern life expectancy. And if there were no Medicare at $600 billion per year, then grandpa and grandma might die a little earlier than right now, but life would go on.

That is the key point. Obamacare may be a failure, but life will go on. The problem only arises in a country like Venezuela where the failures of government policy and the failure to reduce government spending results in runaway inflation and a collapse of normal economic relations.

But even then, as Germany proved in 1923, once the government grasps the nettle and stabilizes its finances then things can get back to normal. But you might get a Hitler as part of the package.

You might ask: But why is government so bad at economic management? I think that the answer lies in the real job of government: protecting us from foreign invaders. In that case there is a single goal, and all  must work for that goal. It is bootless to worry about mistakes or blaming anyone, or whether we are winning or losing. The national leader cannot, for a moment admit to making mistakes or the possibility of defeat, because that would affect national morale and reduce the chance of victory.

But the culture of war and existential survival does not apply to the day-to-day process of production and consumption. And so when you apply the culture of war to pensions and health care and education you make a complete mess of it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

African Americans: Please Don't Go into the Wilderness

The whole cunning plan of leftism, since its invention in the 1840s, is to hive off groups of people in nation states into a different loyalty.

The idea is to persuade those newly-arrived in the city that they don't belong with the city folk and shouldn't try. They should instead establish a separate identity, under the kindly leadership of the local lefty rich kids.

This is a very bad idea, and has brought death to something like 100 million humans and misery to countless more.

The best thing for the country folk newly arrived in the city is to learn city ways and the city culture of responsible individualism. But the leaders of the city poor have preferred to appeal to their country tribalism, and teach them to believe that the resident city folk have it in for them, and that the prosperity of the city folk is based on exploiting the poor suffering worker. But not to worry, the rich-kid leaders will make the bloody bourgeoisie pay up. (Bourgeoisie is French for city folk).

After the left had had their evil way with the working class they went on to segregate women and minorities away from the city folk; women from marriage and children, and non-whites from whites.

The left has been particularly successful in segregating blacks from the common herd. Something like 90 percent of blacks vote for Democrats, the party of rich kids and the marginalized. But the next favorite minority group, Hispanics, only voted 66 percent for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

It is not the purpose of this article to inquire why this might be so.

I don't know whose idea it was, but in the last two years of the Obama administration someone decided to angry up blacks after a stupid black thug in Ferguson, Missouri, got himself shot by a policeman after he robbed a convenience store. The consequence is that, in cities where Black Lives Matter activism is strongest, murder is up big time and 20 percent in the US overall in the last two years. The reason is simple. In cities where Black Lives Matter activism is influential the police have stopped using the broken windows/data-driven/CompStats policing strategy that aggressively targets gang-associated thugs. So black thugs kill other black thugs, and liberals know that the reason is racism.

But people are idiots, and so if you are a Democrat you believe that Black Lives Matter and that police are targeting and harassing young blacks. Now black NFL players have got into the action. Of course they have; they are just following the Zeitgeist like 97.2 percent of the rest of us do.

But I plead with our African American friends not to follow this folly and wander out into the political wilderness. Don't let the politicians and the activists run your life. They don't care about you; they only care about your vote.

And I think that in the near future we will see a sea change in the nation's politics. I expect that Hispanics and Asians will move into the Republican Party as they become solid middle class and think of themselves as "whites." The thing about Hispanics and Asians is that they don't have "white guilt." Hispanics, according to opinion polls, think that blacks are lazy. I suspect there will come a time where Hispanics and Asians will unconsciously want to differentiate themselves from the struggling lower orders, as those newly arrived in the middle class tend to do. And struggling lower orders for them will be blacks.

I also expect that the next generation of Democratic politicians will be unattractive to the broad middle class. When the Nancy Pelosis and Chuck Schumers finally retire, white pajama boys like Jon Ossoff and hard-left minority politicians like Tom Perez just aren't going to appeal to the broad middle of America.

The bottom line is that if you want to wive and thrive in the modern world you need to learn the cultural code of responsible individualism, the creed of the middle class. Otherwise you will just be the shock troops in some politician's political army, and when you are no longer useful the politicians will leave you by the roadside to wither away and die.

And the only way for African Americans to finally get their full and deserved membership in the great American nation is to stop the left-wing protest rubbish and just get with the program, the program of the middle class and its culture of responsible individualism.

There is no other way.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Of Course Trump is "Divisive"

All the liberal media is united: President Trump's tweets criticizing the NFL players "taking a knee" during the national anthem are "divisive."

Well, of course it is! Politics is about winning elections, and that means dividing the electorate. You can do it with a scalpel, or do it with an ax.

That's why I have my catch-phrase: Politics is Division. Actually I think a more accurate catch-phrase would be: Politics is the Art of Division.

The question is whether President Trump is a skilled divider or a clumsy one. That is all.

Democrats perhaps are inclined to believe that Trump is an evil divider. Maybe they are right. But maybe they really have no clue how evil and divisive their politics of race and sex is.

For instance, I assume that the NFL players are taking a knee because Black Lives Matter, and young black men are getting killed all over, especially by white cops.

Only, as Jill Leovy wrote in Ghettoside, things are a bit more complicated than that. The basic problem is that when a gangbanger kills someone in the 'hood, the prosecutors can't get witnesses to testify because the gangs intimidate them. So the black residents are angry that the guilty go free. The cops compensate by arresting young hoodlums for minor offenses, for which the cops can testify. But the black residents are mad about that too, because they don't like the police harassing them in their daily lives.

What's a mother to do? Well, when I was a juror in a case where a young black guy had been brought up on some minor offense with cops the only witnesses, the solution was simple. We looked to the one black woman on the jury to find out which way she was going to vote. Guilty, she said. So we honkies agreed with her. Go along to get along, as the saying goes.

The problem is that liberals are idiots. Here's an example. The Guardian is all wigged out that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election because too many women voted with their husbands than for the "First Woman President." And that is what academic "surveys show."
The key distinction, according to [Oregon State University Assistant Professor] Kretschmer’s research, is that single women tend to cast votes with the fate of all women in mind, while women married to men vote on behalf of their husbands and families …
 No kidding, Sherlock! And it really is monstrous that married women should be looking at the larger picture, that what matters is that their husband has a good job which helps support them and their children to raise the odds that the kids will get out of the nest and go on to wive and thrive in their turn.

The intriguing thing about the left's folly is that they don't seem to realize that their unmarried, unchild-centered world where "women cast votes with the fate of all women in mind" is going to go straight down the toilet, because the bottom line for human society is not to bend the arc of history towards justice but, as Black Swan guy Nassim Nicholas Taleb says, to bend the arc of history towards Survival.

Because if women don't have babies and raise them to maturity there won't be a tomorrow.

Because only if you and yours survive unto the next generation, only then you can start to worry about justice.

Except that, as I say, there is no such thing as justice. Only injustice.

Meanwhile the results are in on President Trump's political division operation on the NFL. By 64-25 percent, the American people think that "NFL players should stand and be respectful during the national anthem."

The thing about Donald Trump is that he is doing things that nobody on the right dared to do. Nobody dared to take on the liberal cultural hegemony and tell that dominatory hierarchy to put it where the sun don't shine. And that's because up till yesterday, politicians on the right knew that they simply could not win in such a fight. Because as the old saying had it, you don't pick a fight with a guy that buys ink by the barrel.

The thing about sayings is that they are true until they are no longer true. I suppose the old saying has now been replaced with a new one, that you don't pick a fight with a guy that buys his bytes by the billion.

Maybe that's why liberals have been amping up their hate machine these last years and calling everyone "haters." They don't like losing their cultural hegemony, and so they are trying to shut everyone up with naming and shaming while they still can.

Anyway, as I wrote a year ago about the time of the Republican National Convention: "All I Know is that Gentlemanly Conservatism is Dead."

Was I right, or was I right?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Yes, Just What Is "Fascism?"

I don't know if you have noticed, but our lefty friends have been getting very free with their accusations of "fascism" lately.

Oh, I know. It really doesn't mean anything. It is just lefties amping up the volume on their pejorative-spouting machine. It doesn't mean anything more than the vile accusation of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and hate.

By the way, I just read a beautiful definition of leftism, on Taki Magazine.
Leftism is hatred in the name of love.
Isn't that absolutely right on?

So back to fascism. The reason I feel authorized to write on what lefties mean by fascism, is that I've been reading a very readable review of the Frankfurt School, meaning mainly Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. It's The Frankfurt School by Zoltán Tar. H & A write about fascism as though "everybody knows what fascism means" without actually defining it in a way that is helpful to me, a sinner. They write about the "authoritarian personality" of the typical middle-class person, or of fascism as the "highest stage of capitalism." This is how Freud and Marx twist peoples' minds into pretzels.

So here goes:

Fascism is what you get when the middle class can't take it any more.

Fascism is what you get after World War I when the government finances of Germany and Austria and Italy were ruined by the war, and the politicians and the experts didn't have the guts to make the necessary spending cuts to put their national finances in order.

Actually, that is not fair to the politicians and experts. They know very well that the voters will punish them if ever they enact spending cuts. So they don't. They just wreck the nation and the economy with inflation because that is the easy way out.

Incidentally, that is why I demand the end of all government social insurance programs. If you have a financial crisis, such as the aftermath of a war, you can't prune back the government spending on social insurance, because of "the children" and so you end up wrecking the economy and forcing mothers of four into prostitution to keep food on the table. Yeah, that really is you might call "doing it for the children."

But eventually the middle class can't take it any more, and that is when they vote for a man on a white horse.

There is nothing shameful of outrageous about this. It is what any animal does when it is cornered. It strikes out, knowing instinctively that one alternative is certain death while the other alternative is only probable death.

That is what the German people did with Hitler. Inflation had wiped out their savings, and the Weimar regime couldn't seem to get its act together. Then the incompetence of the US Federal Reserve System led to the Great Depression. But along came Hitler blaming the Jews and the DolchStoß, the stab-in-the-back at the end of World War I. Oh yeah! That was what had caused the problem.

Well, now we have the immigration and the Muslim problem in Europe, and the ordinary people don't like it, and the ruling class is saying shut up or you will lose your job convicted of hate speech.

Obviously that kind of politics is not going to end well.

At some point, the middle class is going to say that they can't take it any more.

But the lefties, they see the growth of Alternativ für Deutschland and Front National and UKIP and Trumpism as the end of life as we know it.

So to lefties any return to nationalism is fascism, straight up.

Actually, I think the lefties made a grand-strategic error when they turned against the nation state. The  fact is that the nation state is the most successful model for organizing humans into a large political unit, based on the fiction of a national "tribe" united by its language and its totally fake common history. Lefties coulda been a  contender if they had made their peace with the nation state.

The point is that all this hyper-ventilation is utter baloney. The fascists are like any political party. They operate on the universal truth of politics: Politics is Division. You unite your supporters by dividing them from some other group. It could be foreigners, or radicals, or different races, or greedy bankers, or Jews or immigrants or Muslims. But that is how everyone does it. That is what our US liberals are doing with their identity politics; they are dividing America up by race and sex and sexual preference. The trick is to present the divisiveness of your own side as the very epitome of good thinking and the divisiveness of the other side that the most horrible extreme hard-right white supremacy ever.

See why "leftism is hate in the name of love?"

Now let us examine the turn to fascism in the light of my reductive Three Peoples theory, because all roads lead to the Three Peoples theory.

On my theory, the people that end up voting for the fascists are the ordinary middle class trying to live as People of the Responsible Self. But the aftermath of World War I, or the travails of the white working class, or the Venezuelan moms-for-hire in Colombia means that the ordinary people of the middle class cannot live as law-abiding People of the Responsible Self. The bottom has dropped out of the world of responsibility and reciprocity; the rules have changed. Now they must lie and cheat and prostitute themselves in order to put bread on the table. So they vote for a man on a white horse that promises to end the lefty hate in the name of love.

Really, this is only hard for those that will not see. I am talking about readers of The New York Times and their ilk.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Who Will Be Thrown Out Of the Dems Next?

A reader just sent me a puzzler. He agreed with my notion of "Fake Protest." But then what?
[W]hat to do about the throngs of self-proclaimed anarchist or anarcho-communists (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one), who state that ANY hierarchy is oppressive and need be subverted in order to empower the individual?  
He continues:
I find these types most frustrating of all since they are ostensibly fighting for the same general concept as me, a libertarian, but in practice walk and quack like standard-issue authoritarians.  As infuriating as these people can be, I think they represent an opportunity as recruits in the ongoing battle of individualists vs collectivists.
The frustrating thing for him is that the refugees from the Democratic Party -- lately, the Trumpists -- have "diluted the Right" and prevented the Republican Party from making a course correction away from the welfare state.

Yeah. What about the anarchist left? Who are they and what do they really want? How do we talk them off the lefty ledge?

This is where I roll out my politics-as-war metaphor. The fact is that once you enlist young men in your army, whether as a 19th century recruiting sergeant or as an Activism 101 prof at the U, the soldiers you enlist will be enrolled also in your ideological army, and they will keep believing until, as I like to say, Napoleon leaves them wounded, hungry, and dying on the road back from Moscow.

That is the whole point of armies; you make sure that the soldiers have no place else to go, except continuing on the line of march and following the orders of their officers.

And that is why the recent additions to the Republican Party have been Democrats cast out of the party, left by the side of the road by a progressive army that had used them up. First it was the fundamentalist Christians who found out they were not wanted in the Democratic Party in the aftermath of the Sixties. Then, in the Trump election, the white working class finally found a home in the Republican Party in the anti-immigrant, pro-patriot campaign of Donald Trump.

And the point is that, as Ronald Reagan said all those years ago: he didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. More generally, the Republicans and libertarians do not recruit people into a movement for, yay, justice or something. The Republican Party and libertarians are People of the Responsible Self; we do not do movements and cults and bending the arc of history towards justice.

So where does that put the anarcho-Communists? Nowhere close to giving up on the leftist project.

I suppose that anarcho-Communism is basically a young man's game. It appeals to the natural instinct in young men that is looking for trouble, the rebellion against the father. Maybe what happens to these radicals is that they grow up and get jobs and wives. And then they find themselves voting Republican.

And after all, Antifa and Black Block is great fun; you get to rumble and break things and fulminate against the Man, and the ruling class pats you on the head for being anti-fascist. Where in this story is anything pushing these youngsters away from their gang-like lifestyle?

No, I think the next candidates for Deplorability would be blacks and women. At some point, more and more blacks are going to tumble into the truth that liberals don't care about them; they only care about their votes and stirring up their hate. And women are going to tumble to the fact that abortion and the sexual revolution are denials of the very truth about womanhood.

Rightly or wrongly, I take the larger view. Our era is the most astonishing cultural revolution in human history, from the necessarily hierarchical agricultural age to the individual responsibility of the bourgeois age. We should expect, we should know, that the transition would not occur in a divine flash of light, but in an endless to-and-fro of trial-and-error.

But underneath all the Sturm und Drang is a profound truth. The exchange economy rewards people for serving other people faithfully and cheerfully. The more you accept this culture in your work and in your life, the better your life will be. And places that try to restore the old hierarchy in new clothes end up cratering, not just at the national level but at any level.

And that is my faith. We have an exchange economy and the prosperity of the Great Enrichment not because of wise rulers that cunningly executed on the bourgeois agenda. We just stumbled into it, and we thrived because the bourgeois agenda works for today's city economy.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb says, the bottom line is survival. If you do things that enhance survival you survive. If you don't, you won't. Survive.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What Fools These Liberals Be

If my concept of Fake Protest means anything, it must issue from a Great Error, a profound misunderstanding about the meaning of life, the universe and everything on the part of our liberal friends.

Because, as we observe the fatuous conceit of liberal Fake Protest, we have to ask ourselves: what went wrong? Why are these people making such fools of themselves? Why, at the end of two centuries of The Great Enrichment in which nearly all humans, North Koreans excepted, have enjoyed part or all of the increase in income from $1-3 per day to $100 per day, inflation adjusted, why are there people running around insisting that great swathes of humans are the most abject victims of racists, sexists, homophobes, etc., and that the only recourse is more government power, more administrators, more regulatory intervention in the normal to and fro of human exchange?

Now, I am something of a Lone Wolf, tending my garden without much regard for others and how they do it. But I am social enough to know that the one thing I hate is making a fool of myself. So we must ask ourselves: why are liberals making such fools of themselves? Or let us ask another question during the current madness of tearing down Confederate war memorials. Do not liberals understand that they in their turn will be the target of the iconoclasts, as a new generation judges them as the most foul and most ignorant oppressors and exploiters since the dawn of time. Have they not read Charles Murray's Coming Apart in which he judges that the top 20 percent of white Americans are doin' fine, with university degrees, satisfying careers, and merger marriages, that the middle 50 percent is doing just so-so, and that the bottom 30 percent is not so good, with the men not working much and the women not marrying much? What about "the children" of that bottom 30 percent?

So what have our liberal friends got wrong? What has led them into their folly and, by hanging onto their folly, what has driven them to commit injustice and oppression and call it bending the arc of history towards justice?

I think that their fundamental error is to believe that the hierarchical society of the agricultural age can and should continue as the model for the industrial and post-industrial age, that the only problem was that the wrong people were in charge. In the agricultural age, the fundamental fact was that land equals life, and the only thing to do is to defend your patch of land against the world. In reality, of course, it turned out that the farmers had to subordinate themselves to a warrior lord in order to defend that land, and the warrior lords took full advantage of the situation. subordinating the farmers to their rule in exchange for the offer of security. Thus the hierarchical feudal society. But in the new world, the evil and ignorant lords and the superstitious churches would be replaced by educated and evolved activists and experts: totally different, man; totally.

But in the industrial city the old culture of hierarchy cannot serve. This means that city people must learn how to conduct their lives in a different kind of subordination: to the market and its prices, rather than the lord and his lordly rules.

When the waves of people first arrive in the city the individuals are still peasants that know subordination to a lord; they have not yet learned the culture of individual responsibility and subordination to the market. So they subordinate themselves to urban political machines, to labor unions, to big corporate bureaucracies rather than to the market, for that is all that they know.

But what they need, in order the wive and thrive in the city, is to slough off the old ways of the subordinate peasant and put on the armor of a new culture, the culture of individual responsibility, and this is the only way because the city economy is too complicated to be directed by some lord, whether the lord of the land or the lord of the bureaucracy.

In my view the great error of the liberals and the socialist and progressive project has been that the leftists have hindered rather than helped the new arrivals to the city, by confirming them in their subordination to some great lord, or political big-shot, or corporate machine, rather than putting on the armor of light, the culture of individual responsibility that alone prepares the city dweller to wive and thrive in the new order. And as the years go by, the error is deepening into a crime, a crime of willful ignorance, at best.

I have written a book about the four skills people must learn on The Road to the Middle Class. Those cultural skills are: education, religion, mutual aid, and law. By education I mean the basic skills of literacy and numeracy that first emerged in the Fertile Crescent 3,000 years ago and more in the counting houses of the merchants and temples. By religion I mean in particular the cult of enthusiastic Christianity which has been down the ages the religion of people learning the ways of the city. It teaches people that they can be responsible beings bathed in the love of God. By mutual aid I mean the culture of social insurance in fraternal associations that grew up in the 19th century before it was blindsided by the welfare state. By law I mean the replacement of the traditional culture of feud with the culture of submission to the authority of the law.

In different ways our liberal lords have queered these four pitches. In education they have substituted regime propaganda for the basic skills needed for city life, and separated learning from working to a degree they never were before except for rich kids. In religion they have substituted their cults of creativity and victimhood for the city religion of Christianity. In mutual aid they have substituted top-down government programs for the social and mutual culture of fraternal association, the charming and cunning pretense of brother- and sisterhood among people that are no longer living in and around their blood kindred. In law they have substituted top-down administrative law for the reciprocal judge-made law common law. What all these actions do is put roadblocks and barriers on the Road to the Middle Class, and sequester the new arrivals to the city in ethnic, pre-middle-class ghettos. And this is no longer merely a dreadful mistake as it might have been a century ago, but a stupid crime against humanity, a willful blindness about the facts of the matter. It is, of course, unthinkable that our liberals lords have fought to block the Road to the Middle Class not because of folly and ignorance, but cynically and consciously in the knowledge that it enhances their political and economic and cultural power. Surely they are not that evil.

Because if the liberal barriers on the Road to the Middle Class are not accidents of stupidity, but planned and thought through, then the culture of Fake Protest is not just a foolish knee-jerk, a nostalgic attempt to re-create the world of 1850 when all the world was new, but a cynical ploy to enact a fake Theater of Protest that has nothing to do with the facts of the matter.

The basic science was set forth a century ago that socialism -- and by implication any administrative system -- could not work because it could not compute prices.

And so the question that every disciple of power must answer is to show why their new power proposal can possibly hope to outperform the individual actions of millions of consumers and thousands of producers as they interact with each other through the price system.

And that is why they resort to Fake Protest and invoke the power of government by a thousand dodges and catch-phrases, for they cannot answer the question.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Three Stages of Fake Protest

Yesterday I first developed my idea of Fake Protest, the idea that any protest accepted with equanimity by the ruling class and its supporters is "fake protest," really the ruling class and its supporters pretending that they are the wretched of the earth, desperately crying for justice, when all they are doing is demanding new privileges and free stuff for themselves and their supporters to be taken by force from the unorganized middle class.

The idea of Fake Protest sharpens my previously developed idea that the left is founded on the idea of advocating for those left outside of the political system. Obviously,on this view, the political grievances of the "left-out" cannot be redressed by the normal process of representative government, because the "left-out" are not represented.

I also argue that the Left is a messianic faith that believes that they are the "chosen ones" called to represent, to lead, to advocate, and even to mount bloody revolution on behalf of the wretched of the earth left out of the system. That is the logic underneath the left's culture of Protest.

In 1850 the left was right. Here we had a profound economic revolution that had sucked starving peasants from the countryside and fed them into factories; and the system knew them not. So the workers rioted and presented Charters to the ruling class. Fanatics like Karl Marx prophesied bloody revolution, and the immiseration of the working class, but in the event the rising bourgeoisie listened to the cry of the oppressed and willingly gave them the vote and adjusting the law of the workplace to redress many of their grievances. This was Genuine Protest, and it worked because the bourgeoisie was not that interested in power.

Fast forward to the 1950s and the civil-rights revolution. Here we had blacks, that in the South were genuinely excluded from the system by the gentle persuasion of the KKK and Jim Crow laws. And we had women that had the vote but had read Chapter XXV of The Second Sex and wanted to be "The Independent Woman." And we had well-born college kids that didn't want to fight Communism in South-east Asia. Black leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King had learned from Gandhi and the Indian National Movement and understood that under the rule of the bourgeoisie the people outside the system didn't need to actually riot in the streets to get the attention of the ruling class. Non-violent protest was sufficient, because the bourgeoisie is sensitive to the cry of the oppressed. Why? Because the bourgeoisie is not that interested in power. But note this: the well-born women that wanted careers and abortion and the well-born kids that didn't want to go to war were already in the system. They just wanted in on the protest action, or had read their Marx and Marcuse and wanted to practice a little intolerant tolerance for the fun of it.

So this was Semi-Fake Protest. Part of the Sixties civil-rights protesting was the genuine cry of the oppressed; part of it was the well-born supporters of the ruling class faking it.

Now we have the progressives of the 21st century that are running around marchin' and protestin' about everything. But there is a problem. Because the bourgeoisie is not that interested in power just about everyone that was outside the system in now inside the system. No need for protest, kids: just call your congressman. But wait! Illegal immigrants and Muslims are not in the system. Yay! So let's all protest for the poor helpless illegal immigrants and Muslims of the world. And let's bring them here, because it is a little tricky to protest for people that aren't actually here in the United States. And let's teach all the Good Little Girls that go to government schools and government universities all about protesting, and teach them how to be activists just as we taught the working class to read a write and vote and protest a century and more ago. So now we have a protest culture that is almost entirely about the creative ruling class that is interested in power. And they are protesting in support of people outside the system that they actually had to import into the United States in order to say: Look, here are the wretched of the earth and we demand that the racist sexist homopbobic deplorables of the United States give them their rights!

This is Fake Protest. It is practiced by people inside the system that have the ear and the support of the ruling class -- that is when they are not in fact paid-up members of the ruling class -- and they are pretending to advocate for those outside the system, whereas in fact they have invented and imported these supposed victims in order to have something to protest about. Look, I don't blame these unfortunate scions of the ruling class. For all their lives they have been taught that activism is the highest form of human life when in fact all the heavy lifting was done a century ago. What are the poor things to do? Go and get an ordinary job doing useful things for other people?

Worse, there was never any need for heavy lifting at all, because the bourgeoisie, then and now, is not that interested in power. This has nothing to do with any supposed virtue of bourgeois people, not at all. It is simply that life in the burgs, the 'burbs, the cities, the trading centers of the world, does not require the operation of political power to succeed. Its differences and quarrels are adjudicated by the price system, the marketplace. All that is needed is for people to surrender to the verdict of the marketplace rather than the political process, and everything turns out copacetic.

Alas, for our liberal friends, for the mainstream media, for the belted knights of the academy and the princesses of the academic administration, this must not be true. It cannot be true. If it is true then their lives, every they believe, everything they have protested about is meaningless.

And so they are embarked upon a monstrous journey of piracy, plunder and injustice, where they seek injustice for ordinary people in the name of justice, and silence those who have every right to have their voices heard.

You might say that these people are evil, and you might be right. But I rather prefer to think that they are idiots, people that have never for a moment had a single thought un-curated by the academy, the popular culture, or the mainstream media.

If these people have committed a crime it is that they have been, for over a century, teaching people newly arrived in the city that the way to wive and thrive in the city is not to take on the raiment of responsibility, to go to work, obey, the law, and follow the rules of the marketplace, but to Protest, to have faith in the saving grace of politics.

In the age of Genuine Protest, in the 1850s, this attitude was understandable. Who knew that the new industrial system would, in the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years, bring everyone to unimaginable prosperity?

In the Age of Semi-Fake Protest there was at least an excuse. Who knew if the bourgeoisie would in fact extend its enrichment and its arms around the black and the brown?

But now there is no excuse, and the proof is that the Fake Protesters have had to import their victims from abroad and gin up the idea that these imports are the same as the factory workers of 1850 and the oppressed Negroes of the 1950s and that anyone that disagrees is a xenophobe and an Islamophobe and a white supremacist to boot.

History will not treat kindly with these mind-numbed robots of the ruling class.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Introducing "Fake Protest," the Newest Thing in America

On Monday, September 18, a speech of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was interrupted by "peaceful protesters" chanting their non-negotiable demands about the rights of the undocumented children of undocumented immigrants. Or, you might say, if you wanted to avoid cowardly euphemism, the illegal immigrant children of illegal immigrant parents.

I only heard the protest in an audio clip, but I did notice that the protest chants were led by a young woman.

Now according to my theory of politics, it is entirely appropriate for these young people, who are outside the system as extra-legal residents of the US without proper documentation and without the right to vote, to stage a demonstration, a show of force, to suggest to the powers that be that they better give them their rights or they will take their grievances to the streets. Because they don't have the right to vote.

But, as Eric Hoffer wrote years ago about movements in the US, "What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation."

In this case we are talking about a racket, because the "peaceful protests" of the so-called Dreamers, even when they disrupt the speech of the august Nancy Pelosi, are not the demonstrations of people genuinely outside the system. The Dreamers are in fact fully represented and supported by the Democratic Party, its office-holders and its supporters; they are the little darlings of the Democrats. That is why their shows of force are reported by the MSM as "peaceful protests." And that is why, incidentally, the MSM reported the riots of Black Lives Matter in St. Louis after the not-guilty verdict on a white policeman that shot to death a black drug dealer in 2011 as "mostly peaceful" with plenty of use of the passive voice.

You might say that "peaceful protest" is code for a street action that is tacitly approved by supporters of the regime.

You will remember that the activities of the tiki-torch wielding white supremacists in Charlottesville recently were not reported as "mostly peaceful" in the mainstream media.

By the way, I thought the tiki-torch march to the statue of Robert E. Lee was rather cute, a demonstration catered, you might say, by K-Mart. And what is more demotic than K-Mart? But I have a question. How come our lefty friends have never thought of tiki torches as appropriate illumination for their mostly peaceful protests? I am sure that there is some kind of equivalent, but rather more tasteful, illumination available at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or Restoration Hardware.

But the real "tell" about the Dreamer peaceful protest against Nancy Pelosi was that the chants were led by a young woman. Rosa Luxemburg excepted, women do not do revolution. They do what they have been carefully taught at government schools and colleges. The reason that you see mostly young women in college protests these days is that only young women are foolish enough to go into debt to take Activism 101 courses. No young man who is not a Pajama Boy would be seen within a country mile of an Activism class. For one thing, who needs to pay good money to earn college credit for something that makes you less rather than more employable? For another, what fool of a young man would take a course that requires him to enthusiastically agree that white males are guilty! Of patriarchy! Of white privilege! Of white supremacy! Of injustice! Can anyone spell Stockholm Syndrome?

So if a group of young women were protesting right in the face of Nancy Pelosi, you can bet your bottom dollar that the protest is basically condoned by the liberal ruling class and their bribed apologists in the mainstream media.

So Monday's protest was not really the revolutionary cry of the wretched of the earth, but Fake Protest, bought and paid for and stamped "Approved" by the ruling class, and echoed by their bribed apologists in the mainstream media.

Like Black Lives Matter, like Antifa, like Black Block, etc.

Here's another test for Fake Protest. Are the protesters going to be expelled from school or lose their jobs as a result of the protest? If they are, they are genuine protesters. If not, they are the shock troops of the regime.

At some point, I think that Chuck and Nancy will realize that Fake Protest is just as much of a problem for the right kind of people and a rallying cry for the deplorable opposition as Fake News.

I think they will find that it will be a bit difficult to shut down their pet Fake Protesters, because the truth is that protest is great fun for youngsters: why, it is even fun for ageing baby boomers with graying ponytails. It's kinda like a drug -- or even eevil carbs -- easy to try, but hard to give up.

But wait! How do we know the difference between a Fake Protest and the genuine cry of the wretched of the earth? I think that the answer is quite simple. If the great and the good all disapprove, if the protesters are universally reviled with ready-to-hand pejoratives, then you know it is the genuine cry of the oppressed.

You will notice that both Houses of Congress sent a resolution to the president condemning the white supremacists at Charlottesville, and the president signed it.

So now we know that the tiki-torch white supremacists are the genuine article. The ruling class utterly deplores them.

Let's face it. The only people that really need to get into the street to advertise their grievances are the people of whom all respectable people that take their cue from the ruling class strongly disapprove. The rest are just faking it.

And I suggest that next time you encounter a protest led by a young woman or some group funded in part by George Soros or some other lefty billionaire, you speak truth to power and shout "Fake Protest" at the little darlings of the ruling class.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Maybe The Frankfurt School Guys were Charlatans

In the last few years I've taken the time to read the landmark titles of the Frankfurt School, principally The Dialectic of Enlightenment by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, and The One Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse.

So I have a rough idea of what they were all about.

Now I am reading The Frankfurt School by Zoltán Tar, a 1985 book by a chap from CCNY. And as I come towards the end of the book, I am coming to think that Dr. Tar regards the Frankfurters as lightweights, that were really writing about their exile than about the world as such.

That's because the Frankfurt School guys were mostly Jewish, and had to get out of Germany in 1933. Horkheimer and Adorno found their exile in the US particularly trying. I suspect it was because in Germany they were Somebodies, but in the US they were Nobodies.

For my money, the important book is Dialectic of Enlightenment. It looks back at the Enlightenment and realizes that the knowledge it brought was not just sweetness and light. "What men want to learn from nature is how to use it in order wholly to dominate it and other men." That's the money quote from Dialectic. You could say that it is hauntingly familiar.

It is really the same story as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. You cannot stay in the Garden of Eden once you have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge.

Actually, we humans mostly recognize that our knowledge is a double-edged sword, for knowledge is the ability to destroy as well as create. That is why we moderns are deeply concerned with out impacts on The Climate, although humans have been mucking about with the environment ever since the first human set fire to the forest to make a convenient habitat for the animals he hunted.

Aside from the restatement of the Garden of Eden myth, the Frankfurters tended to shallowness. That is what I get from Tar. There is the effort to hang onto Marxism. I think that intelligent people should have started to move away from Marxism about the time that the marginal revolution exploded Marxist economics. And certainly by 1920 when it was clear that the proletarians identified with their nations before their class.

But the events of the years between the World Wars were so distressing to lefty intellectuals that they had to invent a narrative to explain it all away. That narrative is Fascism.

I suppose that if you believe that your ideas are a perfect reflection of the arc of history then the utter bungling and nightmare of the interwar years demands an explanation, and that explanation must explain the disaster as an outburst of demonic forces rather than the utter uselessness of lefty politics.

For instance, it is clear that the Frankfurt School intellectuals thought of themselves as standing athwart bourgeois-capitalist history shouting stop. In fact, the bourgeois-capitalist system had co-opted many of the ideas of the left and put them into practice in government social-insurance programs. Bismarck's social insurance legislation dates from the 1880s, and the British National Insurance Act from the 1906 Liberal government. In other words, lefty ideas were getting a fair shake, even before 1914.

But after World War I the politicians made a hash of things. In Germany they failed to match spending with revenue (a real problem for all social-democratic regimes) and put the nation through a ruinous inflation. In Britain they tried to return the pound to its pre-war parity with a ruinous deflation. In the US the politicians and placemen at the new Federal Reserve Board mucked up their first stock market crash by not acting as the lender of last resort, and thus precipitated the Great Depression.

Great going, guys!

So the average person was looking for someone to get them out of this mess. I suspect this urge is embedded deeply in the human consciousness: when your patch of land is threatened by an existential peril your little tribe unites around a strong leader that can mobilize the tribe in a fight for survival. That is all that is needed to explain interwar fascism.

But the lefty Frankfurt School intellectuals, like lefties everywhere, needed a different explanation. They wanted to blame it all on bourgeois capitalism and the middle class. They needed to know that but for the bloody bourgeoisie, everything would have turned out right. Of course they did. The left's one and only narrative is that the middle class -- from which they come -- is to blame for everything.

So Adorno got some money to do a survey and published The Authoritarian Personality. It found that the middle class was responsible for fascism, because of its tendency towards authoritarianism. Here is the blurb from Personality's Amazon product page.
Bringing together the findings of psychoanalysis and social science, this book grew out of an urgent commitment to study the origins of anti-Semitism in the aftermath of Hitler's Germany. First published in 1951, it was greeted as a monumental study blazing new trails in the investigation of prejudice.
They used a survey of 2099 people to construct various personality scales, including an Anti-Semitism Scale and a Politico-Economic Conservatism Scale, adding up to an overall F-Scale, or Fascism Scale.

The authors detected nine different facets of the authoritarian personality: Conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, antiintroception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and sex.

Well. And can you spell Antifa? If the idea weren't taken already, I think some chap would write a play about 21st century leftist activism and its witch hunts and call it The Crucible.

Of course, we are seeing a repeat of the leftist obsession with interwar fascism in the move to explain Trump. For years liberals have been deaf to the concerns of everyone except their social issues chorus and their marginalized minorities, and now they are shocked, shocked, that a guy has come along and told the great unwashed middle class that he cares about people like them. No kidding! You think that people might rally to a chap like that?

That is all the narrative needs to be! You don't need a lumbering great theory with a tendentious survey. You don't even need a fancy theory to explain the anti-Semitism of the Nazis. Any politician understands that to unify your people you need to raise up the spectre of an enemy. If the Jews had not been close to hand, the Nazis would have demonized some other group. Liberals do this all the time with their relentless attack on racists, sexists, and homophobes. And now "white supremacists."

The great problem of our age is that, with the constant demolition of left-wing ideas in the remorseless cockpit of real life, lefty intellectuals keep grabbing for a straw that restores for a moment their need for a system to satisfy their deep longing for liberation and emancipation, and above all, justice.

And it just gets us deeper and deeper in a mess.

I picked up a piece by Black Swan guy Nassim Nicholas Taleb where he writes:
Survival comes first, truth, understanding, and science later[.]
But our modern welfare state and everything left of center is devoted to the idea that we don't have to put survival first: the economic problem is solved. And so lefties encourage millions of people to just suck on the milk-teat of government, rather than work out their own survival and prosperity.

Obviously, if Taleb is right, then the folks relying on government to solve the survival thing for them are going to be the first that get wiped out when the balloon goes up.

As in Venezuela, where the sensible got out years ago -- to the US, to Panama, to Chile, anywhere -- leaving only the folks that put their trust in princes to starve and suffer in the present economic disaster.

And then the left will come out with a new reboot of leftism to explain it all away.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Rape Victim's Lament

In the aftermath of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's decision to end the unjust Obama policy of that removed sexual assault from the criminal justice system and assigning it to the tender mercies of lefty college administrators, we are getting the response you would expect from the national victim community.

A rape victim writes to NYT columnist Bret Stephens to complain that:
I’ve seen many pieces by sensible people on the violated rights of accused rapists. I have seen zero pieces from the center-right on the rights of sexual-assault victims. I have seen zero pieces that take the problem of sexual assault seriously.
Then this young head full of mush goes on to share her story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
In college, I once blacked out drunk at a party and someone offered to walk me home. I don’t remember what happened after that, but when I woke up my clothes were on inside out. I started screaming.
This young lady may have seen "zero pieces that take the problem of sexual assault seriously," but then she is young and foolish, and she talks in the language of left-wing "rights" so we know that she knows nothing about the world because, through no fault of her own, we assume, she has heard nothing, and learned nothing, about anything except tendentious rubbish filtered through the distorting filter of left-wing propaganda in her government schooling.

Contra this unfortnate young woman, I would say that the basic attitude of the center-right on sexual assault, particularly as it relates to college campi, is that the problem begins and ends with the "hookup" culture, in which young people get themselves blind drunk. In which the idea of courtship and dating goes out the window. In which young women are treated like meat. In which foolish young women find out, too late, that they are not cut out for the hookup scene. Because, as this young woman relates, "some part of me had died forever, and that I had been violated."

OK, now let's fill in the holes in that young woman's sexual education; let's talk about sexual assault down the ages.

In the hunter-gatherer era, according to War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage by Lawrence H Keeley, a tribe could only exist while the men existed to defend the borders. If there weren't enough men to defend the border the tribe dissolved and the women and children got picked up by other tribes. And you know what that means.

In The Iliad the whole story revolves about the argument between Achilles and Agamemnon about who gets to keep Briseis, the princess Achilles captured when he sacked the city of Lyrnessus. If you read The Iliad, you will note that there is not the least mention of what Briseis thought about all this.

In the Odyssey the plot turns on Odysseus returning to Ithaca from the Trojan War. Along the way he is pursued by numerous hot immortal babes, goddesses and whatnot, and enjoys their favors. But his faithful wife Penelope is stuck at home being harassed by The Suitors. No fun and games for her. There is not the least whisper in the Odyssey about how this double standard is a monstrous demonstration of the power of the patriarchy.

If you read about the Vikings you will discover that their modus operandi was to sail their longships up the rivers of France and Britain and raid the villages and kill the men and sell the women and children into slavery. If these Vikings were selling their slaves on the great rivers of Russia, they might refresh themselves on the slaves they had for sale while waiting for a likely customer.

If you read about the end of World War II you will discover that it is reckoned that probably every German woman caught in the path of the Red Army was raped. Then there were the lucky ones, as told in A Woman in Berlin. They were able to survive by taking Russians, preferably officers, as lovers in the lawless month when Berlin was occupied by the Red Army and normal civilian government and civilian policing had collapsed.

Then there is the modern campus where, in the interest of sexual liberation, the whole culture of bourgeois courting has been thrown onto the dustheap of history, and the old rules, where men were expected to treat women with respect and women were expected to avoid being alone with a man, were abolished and replaced in due time with the absurd bureaucratic rules currently in force at universities which treat sexual encounter as a multiple-choice test.

The old rules, as suffocating and bourgeois and patriarchal as they were, were based on the eternal truth that men are beasts and will couple with anything that moves, and also on the eternal truth that women are suckers for any man that shows up and makes love to them. So the old rules put roadblocks in the way of beastly men, and insisted that young women be very careful about bestowing their favors.

We now know also that the value of the old rules lay not just in protecting women from sexual assault, after which something inside them would die. They also protected women from the scourge of sexually transmitted disease. We have found, in the aftermath of the sexual revolution, that STIs run rampant in a population where many people have multiple sexual partners. And the burden of STIs fall heaviest upon women, because many STIs make women infertile.

So the silly old culture in which young women "saved" themselves for the man of their dreams turns out to have a practical value, arising out of the basic science of epidemiology. A disease, any disease, needs "vectors" to infect others in order for the disease to multiply. The fewer the vectors the less chance there will be for an epidemic. So if the STI vectors stop dead before the implacable chastity of the vast majority of young women, so much the better for posterity. Settled science, old chap.

Unfortunately, the young woman that wrote to Bret Stephens probably doesn't know any of this stuff. I wonder why.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Great Enrichment Means Creative Destruction

Here's a piece about how in California the union-backed legislature is pushing unionization on the tech industry and Mr. Subsidy Musk's Tesla electric-car gig. California Governor Jerry Brown tells Trump to keep his hands off California, Steven Greenhut writes, because, Brown says:
We’re the innovation capital, high-tech, agriculture, $40 to $50 billion industry. You don’t want to mess with California, because you’re going to mess with the economy.
Well there ain't gonna be no economy in California if you chumps keep piling costs and regulations on the tech industry, as in:
California is mucking around with billions in electric car subsidies, but amendments to the subsidy bill "would inject the state into an increasingly acrimonious union organizing campaign at automaker Tesla’s Fremont plant."
But suppose Tesla moves all  its operations to Nevada, where is is already building a battery plant?

Hey, what about  the unionized port workers, where
subsidies for cleaner equipment at the ports “cannot be spent on automated cargo-handling equipment,” reported the Bee, because “increasing port automation has been a major concern of port workers’ unions.”
 Here's another, where the food-workers union wants a bill that
would impose a new set of regulations on internet-based firms that deliver gourmet meals to a subscriber’s doorstep. The goal is to force these firms, which already are highly regulated by the state and feds, to be regulated by local health inspectors.
Then there are proposals that would force home-health workers to divulge their cellphone numbers, to make them easier to organize in unions.

The funny thing is that the left began with the line from Marx about the free proletarians being "hurled" off the feudal estates in the agricultural revolution. That is the problem whenever you are a serf working and living on some lord's estate. It may feel secure, because the lord observes all kinds of traditional rights of the peasants. But the day will come when  he doesn't need his peasants any more.

And yet their entire politics is based on pretending that now things are different. Only they aren't.

The day would come when the steel industry wouldn't need their overpriced workers any more.

The day would come when the manufacturers didn't need their unionized factory workers any more.

The day would come when the Democratic party didn't need its white working stiffs any more.

The day will come when the ports don't need their $150,000 crane operators any more.

And this is not to say that the world is a cruel place that always screws the working stiff.

It is to say that the Great Enrichment of the last two centuries occurred because of innovation that was not stopped by the political system. Or, to use a less polite word, the Great Enrichment was a process of "creative destruction," as proposed by Joseph Schumpeter. Or, to put it even more plainly, the great innovations of the last two centuries, on which our modern prosperity is founded, caused hardship  and misery to a bunch of people that had a pretty good gig going.

As often as not, the people affected by "creative destruction" have gone to the politicians to save them from the end of their good times. And as often as not, the politicians have helped stave off the inevitable for a few years.

In fact, there is no escape from the creative destruction of the price system. You may think that you are safe in your government job, or your corporate bureaucracy. And you might be; the good times may just roll long enough for you to exit in style.

But sooner or later the market will have its way, and the hardest hit will be the people that have succeeded in hiding from the market in big institutions that seem to protect them from the tides of the market system. That's because when you are hidden away in a big institution you may not developed skills that will serve when the balloon goes up and the big institution has to lay off its employees to stay solvent.

Outside of big institutions you have to mark your skills to market every day.

It's a pity that our ruling class refuses to teach the people this vital life lesson. Do not think you can hide from the market in some big bureaucracy. You are subordinating yourself to the agenda of some Big Man, and the day will come when he doesn't need you any more.

Trumpers beware.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Government Shouldn't Legislate Morality

Back in the day, before political correctness and the emergence of women as college administrators, liberals liked  to lecture us against "legislating morality."

I agree. So that means no welfare state. Because the welfare state is all about the moral imperative to help those caught in poverty through no fault of their own.

And as liberals tell us, government shouldn't legislate morality.

I was inspired to write this because of a minor point in Andrew Roberts' massive biography Salisbury: Victorian Titan about the life of Queen Victoria's last Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury. Around 1899, a minister in Salisbury's conservative government proposed pensions for elderly poor people. Well, why not? It's the right thing to do.

As it happened, there was no money for pensions because the government spent all its money and then some on the Boer War. So it was left to the great Liberal government of 1906 to propose National Insurance and old-age pensions as government programs.

But like the liberals said: government shouldn't be legislating (and taxing) morality.

What should the government be doing? It should be protecting us from existential perils. Like invasion, like urban gangs. Like murderers and rapists.

But what about aliens? Ronald Reagan asked Gorbachev about that.
“‘What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?’”
“I said, ‘No doubt about it.’”
“He said, ‘We too.’”
Who knew?In other words, everyone understands about existential peril, and an alien invasion would unify the nations of the earth to fight the alien peril.

That is why liberals have come up with climate change as a new way to spend money and feel good about themselves. Climate change is presented as an existential peril, and it is no accident that our liberal friends present hurricanes as evidence of the existential peril of climate change that only government can save us from. Of course, climate change is also about "saving the planet" which is a moral, as well as existential, imperative.

Liberals do the existential peril thing on climate change because they instinctively understand that existential peril is the only real warrant for government action.

But what about the Elizabethan Poor Law? What about welfare? What about wage and hour laws?

Really, I don't think that they were about legislating morality.

The Elizabethan Poor Law, on my view, was a response to the flood of vagrants, "hurled" off the land by their improving landlords. They were becoming an existential threat to the Elizabethan regime, and needed to be neutralized. And the same applied to all the social legislation that began in the late 19th century. The working class wanted stuff, especially free education, and they were going to rip the place up if they didn't get it. So Bismarck enacted the first social insurance legislation, to  bring the working class into the system. And others followed. The socialists put a shiny veneer on this response to an existential peril by making a moral imperative out of helping the poor and the oppressed.

The trouble is that when the whole system matures you get what we have today. You have universal pension and health care programs that mainly benefit the middle class wage earner. And you have welfare for the poor that results in social disintegration with men that don't work and women that don't marry. And you have an inflexible system that cannot be reformed in the light of changing life expectancies because nobody will accept a reduction in the benefits that "they paid for."

Nothing will happen to middle-class entitlements until they run out of other peoples' money. And you know what comes next. It's the evergreen headline: "World Ends; Women and Minorities Hardest Hit."

So that is why I demand a separation of existential peril and moral imperative. The government's job is to deal with existential perils, real and imagined. Society's job is to deal with moral imperatives, such as looking after grandma and relieving the poor.

Actually, society does a pretty good job of cleaning up after existential perils like hurricanes. But government does a lousy job of responding to moral imperatives.

Yes but what about education? Good question, senator. In the first place we are doing a lousy job of educating the children of the poor. In the second place the Third World already does a pretty good job with "informal" urban schools that outperform the government schools and provide financial aid for the children of widows and abandoned women. In the third place, the current system of student debt is mad and bad and unjust. In the fourth place a lot of the education of teenagers could be replaced with corporate-sponsored apprenticeships and internships. Teenage kids could go to work and continue their learning, subsidized by the business system and saving the cost of government teachers and bureaucrats. And student debt.

What about pensions? Exactly. On my plan everyone would be encouraged to save at Fidelity and Vanguard for all the risks of life, from unemployment to end of life health care. And it would all be "their" money. One of the great injustices of the modern era is the sequestration of middle-class savings into government "insurance funds." But the problem is that the average punter can't access their own money, not as collateral, not as a rainy-day fund, not for nothing unless approved by the local government bureaucrat. So the whole thing becomes nothing but politicians buying votes with other peoples' money.

But what about the poor? Exactly. People thrown into poverty "through no fault of their own" would be succored by left-wing tech billionaires, on a completely voluntary basis, except that any tech billionaire that did not relieve the poor would be banished from polite society.

But I have a bigger point. It is about what government can do, and what it cannot do.

My point is that when government cranks up spending to meet an existential peril, like the Nazis or the Commies, it is perfectly capable of cranking down the spending when the peril is over.

But when government spends money on moral imperatives, it seems to be impossible ever to reduce spending. And while the reason given is usually moral, as in "the children," the real reason is almost always free stuff. When government goes on a moral crusade, it usually hands out lots of lovely free stuff, and finds it impossible ever to take that free stuff away.

And that, if you ask me, is a crying shame.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Thinking About the National Debt

I'll be talking to some folks about the National Debt tomorrow, so I thought I'd better get my ideas down first.

The Difference Between the National Debt and Personal Debt

Despite the ubiquity of student debt and mortgage debt in modern American life, the fact is that personal debt is risky. With student debt you are betting on your future earning potential at a time when you don't have a clue what you'll earn. And with mortgage debt you are assuming that you can maintain your current job and that housing prices won't go down. If you are wrong, you get wiped out.

But National Debt is different. Here the politicians are betting the nation on the outcome of a war. If the politicians win they are national heroes; if they lose, the people's wealth is wiped out.

The Invention of the National Debt

Politicians started using banks to fund their wars towards the end of the Middle Ages. Edward III of England broke a few Italian banks, and Henry VIII used the credit of merchants in London to fund his wars.

But it was the Dutch that invented central banking in their war of independence of 1568-1648 against Spain. The key was the Amsterdam Exchange Bank that marketed and managed the debt of the nascent Dutch Republic.

Then in 1688 the Dutch invaded England and in four years founded the Bank of England, and birthed the English National Debt. In the next century the Brits ran their National Debt from nothing up to 250 percent of GDP just after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, as you can see from the following chart.


Along the way the Brits built a global empire and ended the domination of France in Europe.

If you look at the chart of British GDP per capita, you will see that per capita income was flat all through the 18th century and then took off in 1820. In other words the Brits managed to convert all potential economic growth into its empire and its war against France.

For the US, the two world wars of the 20th century involved an astonishing mobilization of national treasure as you can see from the following chart.


The Sea Change in National Debt

After World War II the US drew down its National Debt from 150 percent of GDP in 1946 to 30 percent of National Debt in 1980. Then the world changed. The Republicans decided to cut tax rates while winning the Cold War and developed the idea that moderate Republicans like Bob Dole were "tax collectors for the welfare state." The idea was that the only way to restrain spending was to starve the government of money, and that would never happen when the National Debt was low.

The Aftermath of the Great Recession

But then the universe changed in the Crash of 2008. As is normal in a big financial crash, the National Debt doubled, and quickly approached 100 percent of GDP. Because a Democrat was president, nothing was done to reduce the debt, except to fund Obamacare mostly outside of the federal budget.

What Happens Next?

Almost certainly the US federal government will default on its debt. This is because there is a profound difference between a National Debt that was incurred to fight a war, as in the old days, and a National Debt incurred to maintain entitlement programs. You can reduce military spending after a war; it has been done dozens of times. But you cannot reduce spending on goodies for the voters, so you have to do it with smoke and mirrors, by devaluation, inflation, and/or debt default.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Liberal Ruling Class Don't Know Nothing

LIberal Mark Lilla has a book out, The Once and Future Liberal, an expansion of a New York Times article "The End of Identity Liberalism" from last November. He gives a flavor of the book in The Wall Street Journal: "The Liberal Crackup."

But the WSJ article rather shows just how Mark Lilla doesn't get it.

He writes that
Ronald Reagan almost single-handedly destroyed the New Deal vision of America that used to guide us. Franklin Roosevelt had pictured a place where citizens were joined in a collective enterprise to build a strong nation and protect each other. The watchwords of that effort were solidarity, opportunity and public duty. Reagan pictured a more individualistic America where everyone would flourish once freed from the shackles of the state, and so the watchwords became self-reliance and small government.
Oh really. I'd say that Mark Lilla has a profoundly fantastical notion of life, the universe and everything. The point of the New Deal was a massive increase in government force. More taxes, more spending. More compulsion. You want a job? You pay into the government's Social Security program. You work under the shadow of labor laws that make a mockery of "employment at will." And in the 1960s the Democrats ratcheted up another big notch with Medicare and welfare expansion. Some solidarity; some opportunity; lots of public duty, as in taxes and subordination to government experts.

Has any of that stuff been repealed? Reagan may have "pictured a more individualistic" America, but it sure did nothing to roll back the power and the force of government. And Obama cinched the wrench another notch with Obamacare.

Here's another whopper.
To meet the Reagan challenge, we liberals needed to develop an ambitious new vision of America and its future... Instead we got tangled up in the divisive zero-sum world of identity politics, losing a sense of what binds us together as a nation.
This is why I insist on the catchphrase: Politics is Division. Liberals have always practiced identity politics as the highest and noblest form of politics, because their politics advocated for the poor and the marginalized. So to say that anything changed after Reagan is to be willfully blind.

For half a century before 1965 liberals practiced class identity politics, advocating for the workers and damning business owners and capitalists to hell and back again. In doing so they divided workers from owners very effectively, and loaded up the workers with swingeing taxes on their labor by pretending that the taxes were really paid by management.

Then, with the civil rights acts of the 1960s liberals changed horses. They dumped the working class as narrow and bigoted, and cranked up their race and sex identity politics. Nothing has changed. Liberals are still ruthlessly dividing America and telling each other that their divisive politics is bending the arc of history towards justice.

But, and here Lilla starts to make sense, the liberal identity politics started to migrate from just dividing people in a normal political way to being a personal identity politics.
[Liberals] wanted their political engagements to mirror how they understood and defined themselves as individuals. And they wanted their self-definition to be recognized.
Well, yes. This is why I call liberals "People of the Creative Self" in my reductive Three Peoples theory. Liberals believe that the meaning of life, the universe and everything is found in what liberal philosopher Charles Taylor calls "expressive individualism," the personal expression of beliefs and creativity in the public square. Thus liberal politics becomes less about what we are forcing the American people to do with our government programs and regulations, but more about what the whole thing means to me, the liberal in question.

And because liberalism is a secular religion, the daily practice of politics becomes the daily practice  of what it means to be a good or, as they say, "ethical" person. Thus people that do not practice the faith are bad people and their utterances are stigmatized as "hate speech" and they are expelled (or rather excommunicated} from the secular religious community.

The problem with this has been played out on the big screen of the two most monstrous political regimes in all history, the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China, and immortalized in the work of George Orwell.  When secular religion is welded together with government you get a situation in which disagreement with the ruling-class's secular ideology becomes identical with opposition to the government. Sinners are also traitors.

Meanwhile Mark Lilla longs for "classic liberal ideas like citizenship, solidarity, and the common good" that the new generation of leftists have lost.

But Lilla does not understand that citizenship cannot survive when every citizen is fenced around with detailed and intrusive regulations. Solidarity is not solidarity when it is compelled, and the ciiizen is reduced to the status of an army draftee. The common good is not common unless people are free to disagree and negotiate, without fear of humiliation from the local activist, about the nature and the composition of the common good.

My Three Peoples theory makes this obvious truth implicit in its view of society. Clearly, the folks in the middle, the People of the Responsible Self, are the citizens who, by their relative independence and responsibility, can come into the public square and debate questions of common concern without looking behind them to worry about what their boss or the local political bully might do to them. But the People of the Subordinate Self are not yet citizens: they are still subjects. They do not have the relative independence that allows them the space to disagree with their betters. They know that their job is to support their political or economic patron as part of his rank-and-file political army. And they do.

Then there are the People of the Creative Self. Their culture is the culture of "expressive individualism." But for too many of them, the only way of expressing themselves is in political activism, and advocating for some government program or regulation. But this means that their individual creativity can only express itself by dividing people into us and them, because Politics is Division, and by forcing their world view on other people, because Government is Force.

So my political agenda comes naturally out of my view of the Three Peoples. For the People of the Subordinate Self, we should encourage the development of the bourgeois ethos, as recently suggested by Dr. Amy Wax to universal horror. When you acquire the bourgeois ethos of individual responsibiiity then you become a citizen, enrolled in a sense of national solidarity, with an interest in developing and negotiating a notion of the common good.

For the People of the Responsible Self we encourage the notion of the creative ethos, going beyond the simple agenda of following the rules, going to work, and obeying the law. And we encourage a gentle kindness toward the People of the Subordinate Self that only know that they are oppressed and exploited by their "betters."

For the People of the Creative Self we discourage the temptation in the practice of creativity to imagine that you are a god. Creativity is in fact a very dangerous thing, and the chances are that your own individual effort at creation will turn out to be a disaster -- just like most business startups and most political revolutions. So the one really important thing for People of the Creative Self is humility, to think about the possibility that the Grand Creative Plan might end up a Grand Creative Disaster and that millions of people might suffer and die in the aftermath.

When we ventilate these ideas two thoughts seem to come forth. The first is that liberals are idiots that know nothing, because they are pompous ruling-class functionaries that don't get out much. The other is that if there really is to be a revolution of the deplorables, liberals like Mark Lilla will be the last to know, and probably not realize what is happening until it is too late.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Who Will Bell the Lefty Cat?

Even the dark knight himself, Steve Bannon, has to do the ritual washing of hands when it comes to right-wing extremism. Axed by the 60 Minutes on-air talent the ritual question of whether he was now, or ever had been soft on the radical right, he answered:
[T]he Neo-Nazis and Neo-Confederates and the Klan, who, by the way, are absolutely awful – there’s no room in American politics for that.
Now Steve Bannon is a smart guy, so if he is saying that rather than:
Look, there are always kooks and clowns on the radical extremes. In a way a healthy politics demands it. But here is what I worry about. I  worry that you fake news journalists spend all your time asking me to disavow the radical right. I don't recall ever hearing about a fake news journalist demanding that the racist Representative Maxine Walters to disavow the racist Black Lives Matter. Why is that?
There must be a reason.

Yes, why is it that fake news journalists aren't out there attacking Antifa and the Black Block that are actually rioting and physically attacking "peaceful protesters?"  Why aren't they axin' lefty politicians from Kamala Harris to Bernie Sanders "have you now or have you ever had a soft spot for the radical left organizations like Black Lives Matter and Antifa? Well because.

I think that the reason we have Donald Trump as president is precisely because the conventional conservative movement and the conventional Republicans have failed to protect ordinary people from the vile accusation of racism. And the vile accusation of sexism and homophobia and hate speech and I know not what else.

What this nation needs is a political genius that can turn the left's rhetoric back on itself, to accuse the accusers, to tell the racists on the left that they are the haters and the racists. That Black Lives Matter is black racism. That feminism is sexism. That the gay mafia is heterophobia.

Look I get it. If you are a moderately dull scion of the professional middle class, from Marx to Lenin to Castro, and you have have appetite for power, the go-to strategy since at the latest 1848 is to advocate for the Wretched of the Earth: the poor helpless working class, poor helpless women; poor helpless non-whites; poor helpless gays; poor helpless coionized peoples. Now the well-born scions of the professional middle class are advocating for illegal immigrants and Muslims.

It would be much harder to do something really useful, like invent a new product, build a business, start a family. Or even restore the wasteland that is Detroit, Michigan. Really today's political activist is merely the modern equivalent of the young feudal lord bucking against his king. Because rebellion is the obvious thing to do if the king won't ransom the young lord's prisoners home.

I like to think that politically we are presently in a Panic, like the 1907 Panic when Belle da Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan's African American librarian asked him to tell the folks what to do to get the nation out of the crash. And Morgan is said to have replied that
I don't know what to do myself, but sometime, someone will come in with a plan that I know will work; and then I will tell them what to do.
Well, I don't know about that, because the solution to every Panic is to cover the uncertain credit of troubled financial institutions with the credit of a bigger, sounder institution. And these days that means the credit of the United States government, as in guaranteeing the trillions of dollars in money market mutual funds during the Crash of 2008.

But the solution to the 150 year Panic where nobody has the guts to tell lefties to put it where the sun don't shine, is that someone, somewhere has to brush back the vile accusation of racism, or right-wing extremism and live to tell the tale.

In that moment the sun will come out, the fake news journalists will turn on a dime, and we will all "move forward into broad, sunlit uplands."

Meanwhile, I am sitting in my library goggling at Belle Greene and wondering if she is really as Portuguese as she pretends, and waiting for that chap to turn up with a plan.