Thursday, January 18, 2018

Politics is Not About Issues, But Status

Why have Republicans and conservatives failed to reverse the tide of leftism? The answer is simple, according to Joe Katzman. Politics is not about ideas, or issues, or justice. Politics is about status.
Analysis: Leftism is a status machine. A very, very successful status machine. Conservatives have lost status battle after status battle, often because they fought it as a policy battle. It rarely is.
In other words, if you parrot left-wing talking points you gain status. If you try to argue the merits of an issue, you lose status. But if you are sensible you read The New York Times or any women's magazine. These are all about communicating status clues to the status conscious.

That brings us immediately to Donald Trump. Trump's whole shtick is to humiliate "Chuck and Nancy" and the Fake News media. In other words, his game is to lower their status in the eyes of his supporters and possible supporters.

Status and hierarchy are chemical and go all the way back to lobsters, or rather the common ancestor of humans and lobsters. You could say it is part of the basic equipment of social animals, the reduction of conflict by status and hierarchy negotiation.

So that means that status is upstream of religion is upstream of culture is upstream of politics.

Now do you understand why Donald Trump won the support of the white working class and other deplorables? He proposed to raise their/our status by attacking the status of liberals, lefties, Democrats, and the mainstream media.

Yes, I suppose that's a corollary of the lobster status argument. You may not be able to play the status game yourself, but you sure can vote for a guy that does, or at least support the lobster that has high status.

This forthright argument, put forward by Joe Katzman, helps me understand what I am trying to do with my writing. I want to put everything lefty and liberal in a bad light by insulting it, i.e., reducing its status.

(Hmm. So the male Culture of Insult is really a status game, reducing the other guys status by a sham fight of words. And is Trump good at insults. But, of course, women hate it, because their status game is the woman's Culture of Complaint.)

So when I deploy my catchphrases, from Government is Force, to Politics is Division, to System is Domination, to Identity Politics is Neo-Tribalism, to the Welfare State is Neo-Feudalism, all I am trying to do is to reduce the status of government, politics, and lefties on all the ships at sea, by insulting their ideas and their sacred objects as cheap tricks and second-rate rubbish: false idols.

But to get to the bottom line: is Trump's campaign working? Well, according to Katzman,
American belief in the credibility of their news media is now at about 32 percent. That’s the lowest ever polled, and an 8 percent drop from the lowest point of the 2008-2015 period. The media has lost audience, and a lot of power. 
And even noble Facebook has taken note.
Facebook has tried to fight these trend lines by flagging items as “fake news.” Recently, the social media giant decided to stop. Too many people sought out flagged articles. 
Notice an interesting thing here? Back in the day, liberals were the spunky outsiders speaking truth to the establishment. But now that they own the media, the universities, the schools, the culture, they are the establishment, and so plucky outsiders are now the ones that speak truth to liberals.

And they don't like it.

OK, so why didn't anyone think of this before? Well, they did.
In fairness, Newt Gingrich had some success in the 2012 primaries, and Ted Cruz has also tried. But they lacked the full array of tools. Worse, they didn’t understand how to make the media their enemy.
In other words, they weren't good enough at the game of insult.

And that leads directly back to my catchphrase Politics is Division. The art of politics is to find your enemy, and rally the people behind you to attack the enemy and reduce their status by beating them in an election. Hey, you could use a Rule or two from Saul Alinsky.
Rule 5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."
Rule 13. "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." 
Just saying. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Solving the Immigration Problem

America needs about 1.1 million immigrants a year, experts say, because American women aren't having enough children. Thus we have a labor shortage on the one hand and too many people needing end-of-life entitlements on the other.

However, writes Kay Hymowitz, whereas a century ago America could use millions of unskilled immigrants, today it ain't so.
Poverty and lack of skills didn’t stop newcomers from finding work because there was plenty of it—on the piers of New York and Philadelphia, the meatpacking plants of the Midwest, and in the factories that were spreading to cities all over the country. In 1914, over 70 percent of the factory workers at Ford Motor Company were foreign-born. Immigrants and their children were over half of all of American manufacturing workers in 1920.
 Today, she writes,
Automation and offshoring to Third World countries have seriously eroded the number of blue-collar jobs... Today’s immigrants are more likely to be hotel workers, agricultural hands, bussers, janitors, and hospital orderlies. They may be earning more than they could have in their home countries, but their wages—assuming they work full-time—are enough only to keep them a notch or two above the poverty line in the United States.
That's why other countries, like Canada and Australia, have implemented a skills-based immigration system. It is much harder for low-skilled immigrants from sh*thole countries to make it in First World countries than it used to be.

However, I know a Haitian immigrant, a health-care aide, who is raising two boys to go straight into the professional middle class. But she's insulted that Trump calls her homeland a sh*thole.

The problem is, of course, the population problem. What is wrong with American women that they are not having enough children to replace our population?

There is nothing wrong with American women; they have been doing what they were told to do.

American women have been told to get and education and a career.

American women have been told to approach sex the way that men do.

American women have been taught to abort an inconvenient child.

American women have been taught to divorce annoying husbands instead of nagging them into obedience.

American women have been taught to devalue suburban housewifery.

American women have been taught to experiment with lesbianism.

All these things may be wonderful and progressive but you can see that each one of them tends to reduce the number of children born into the world. And each of the items that women have been carefully taught are cultural trends that happen to appeal to the educated class that aspires to a higher, more creative life than mere childbearing and childraising.

Hey, if American women average 2.5 children per lifetime then we could start exporting a few folks as immigrants to other countries and see if they like it.

Actually, I am not totally against immigration. I feel that if a country does not experience a certain influx of foreigners then it gets old and staid. Or it descends into childlessness like the Roman Empire.

And really, civilizations rise and fall all the time. In their youth they are brash and expansionary. In their prime they bestride the world. In their decline they get overrun by barbarians.

I just don't want the barbarian invasion on my watch. Or my children's watch. Or my grandchildren's watch.

We talk grandly about assimilating immigrants even as our liberal friends celebrate diversity and divide the races with identity politics. Anyway, we none of us agree on what immigrants should be assimilating to. The descendants of the 1900 wave of immigration are still significantly different from each other in political and cultural orientation.

Meanwhile there is the underrated influence of the market economy, which has its own culture of service and of getting along with anyone that is trustworthy.

But I tell you what. The stories that are coming out of the #metoo movement show that women really don't want agency; they don't want responsibility. They want to be princesses in a world that just understands their needs and provides them. Hey, they might decide they don't like the meat market of the sexual revolution. They might decide they don't like a life in a cubicle. And so they might start a movement back to hearth and home.

They might even decide that everything that liberals taught them was a lie, including "and" and "the." But I think that women are too trusting for that. Only guys, and few enough of us, understand that everything we are taught is "bullsh*t."

Oh yeah. I wonder what men could do to help get more children on the ground and solve the immigration problem.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Understanding Initiation from the Ancients

I was down in the Bay Area last week and got out alive with my skin and a book from Copperfield's in Petaluma. The book was Mircea Eliade's Rites and Symbols of Initiation.

Very good, but the whole book revolved, for me, around the Introduction, where Eliade asserts the basic difference between us and the ancients. Why is it, he asks, that we do not practice "initiation" into adulthood, whereas all the ancients did? The answer:
Modern man's originality... lies precisely in his determination to regard himself as a purely historical being, in his wish to live in a basically desacralized cosmos.
You could say that we moderns orient ourselves by reading history, by gradually building up a knowledge of the world, by the gradual accumulation of innovation and discovery over the decades and the centuries. But ancient man had no history, no libraries of knowledge and sacred books. And yet ancient man needed to know the meaning of life, the universe and everything just as we do.

So ancient man devised the initiation, a process whereby the youth was indoctrinated in all the tribe's knowledge of the world. Ancient peoples do not have a history, but a "sacred history" in which all events are projected back into a primordial time of gods and heroes. Let us put this out in long form:
[T]raditional societies tend to project every new acquisition [of knowledge or history] into the primordial Time, to telescope all events in the same atemporal horizon of the mythical beginnings.
Thus the point of initiation of boys into manhood:
It is to this traditional knowledge that the novices gain access. They receive protracted instruction from their teachers, witness secret ceremonies, undergo a series of ordeals. And it is primarily these ordeals that constitute the religious experience of initiation -- the encounter with the sacred. 
You can see that for a traditional, preliterate society the transmission of the Knowledge to the new generation is a vital task, intimately connected with the survival of the tribe. Indeed, the smaller the tribal unit the more critical is the transmission of knowledge, because if any one young man or woman fails to get the message it may mean the end of the tribe. In our larger societies, this urgency is not so immediate. A significant fraction of a generation can twirl away into folly without bringing the survival of society into question. These fools will just fail to wive and thrive, and drain away into the sand. Or perhaps, occasionally, some one or two of them will discover something transformational, and the new knowledge will be incorporated into the sum of society's understanding of life, the universe, and everything.

Of course, the idea that we have abandoned intiation is crazy. We still have initiation, only we call it "school" "university" and "education." That is how we teach the young the Knowledge, the right ways of thought and action, all the right things approved by our ruling class. So nothing has changed. And as for "ordeal," we now have mandatory classes for the young in diversity and inclusion and white privilege.

Naturally, I want to use this information in my quest to understand and demolish the reactionary culture of the left, where I identify identity politics as neo-tribalism and the welfare state as neo-feudalism. It seems to me that the culture of activism, against which I rail with frequency, is a process of initiation, similar to the ancient practice, that teaches the young the left-wing knowledge, and all the correct faith and action in connection with the ancients like Marx and Engels, particularly the faith in the sacred practice, the "ordeal" of "peaceful protest."

Yes, because public protest is not something that people naturally do. The good old "riot" much feared by our bourgeois ancestors was, or tended to be, an instinctive outbreak of madness in response to hard times. But our lefty friends have institutionalized the riot into the sacred observance of the peaceful protest with its very well developed chants, responses, liturgies and processions.

We are, after all, not so very different from our ancestors. Evolution and genetic changes are measured over millennia, according to scientists, and the agricultural age is no more than several thousands of years old, whereas our modern era is no more than hundreds of years old.

And that is why I maintain that our modern lefty reaction is as natural as the birds and the bees. Of course the modern era, with its call to abandon tribe and subordination, has inspired a vast movement of rejection. We are still tribal, feudal, and need to be initiated into the Knowledge in order to take our places as adults.

But for us radicals and revolutionaries that want to introduce our fellow humans, ever so gently, to the new ways and ideas, the lefty reactionaries are a heavy burden to bear.

Monday, January 15, 2018

How To Prepare for the Next Downturn?

Really, poor President Trump has barely got the ink dry on his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act before his supporters are worrying about inflation and bubbles.

Here's Ben Stein worrying about his money.
You cannot have an economy at full employment, with severe labor shortages, without having inflation. When you start to get that inflation, the last thing you want to do is goose the economy with huge public works programs and lowers taxes and fantastic money creation at the Fed. You, Mr. and Mrs. America, are NOT going to like severe inflation. It hurts like hell. The usual way to fight it is by buying and holding good real estate.
Well, yes, except that real estate is already pretty high and, after a bubble pops, real estate goes down with everything else.

Or there is Steve Sailer. He's not worrying about inflation but about what will cause the next crash. Stocks could do it, as in 1929. Or Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is obviously a brilliant innovation, but even the smartest new innovations in currency often cause problems initially.
As in John Law, who wrecked the French economy with his brilliant paper money scheme backed by shares. Or maybe it could be China. Or Enron-type corporate scandals, or Student debt. Or mortgages again.

The problem is that prices, for stocks or houses or gold or just about anything, are already pretty strong. So what do you do?

I'd say the first thing is that you can't time the market, whether it is stocks or real estate or Bitcoin. The bubble is only obvious after the crash. Personally, I felt that real estate was overvalued for decades. Yet you could have made good money all through those decades, and would have done all right if you had debt levels in 2008 low enough to ride through the bust.

Everybody says that stocks are too high. Maybe they are, and maybe if there is a downturn you are going to see your stocks underwater for several years.

My feeling is that I don't want to be in paper money or bonds. Bonds have no upside, only the downside of higher interest rates and/or inflation. That's because the way that governments deal with bubbles and crashes is by printing more money. So if you hold dollars you are charitably helping the high-fliers recover by reducing the value of their debt. Some years ago I read an article about the German hyperinflation. If you had stocks or gold you lost money, but you still survived. But if you held Reichmarks you were wiped out. And that means that if you were a good solid 19th century bourgeois with your 5 percent government bonds you were wiped out.

The other thing is that you don't want to be sold out by debt. If you have a mortgage on your house then you have to keep paying the mortgage, otherwise you lose your house and its equity. If you have borrowed money to buy stocks or Bitcoin then you can be sold out if your stocks or your Bitcoin crashes.

The main thing to avoid is "ruin," according to Black Swan guy Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

My experience in the 2008 crash was the realization that I could not be wiped out -- i.e., ruined -- because I did not have any debt. So stocks went down by 50 percent. So they came back again, because the stock market is the present value of all future profits from the nation's public corporations. If economic growth resumes after the crash then the stock market recovers.

Of course, if the economy does not come back, as in the Soviet Union or in Venezuela, then you need to get your money/assets out, and the government will do everything it can to stop you from doing that.

What will happen with the Trump economy? Nobody knows. But we do know that nobody can repeal the business cycle. There will be a recession in our future, and the government will fight it by printing money.

Friday, January 12, 2018

What Do We Do About Big Tech's Big Left Bias?

Well, it's a scandal for President Trump to talk about s***hole countries, but it's on the up and up for big tech to censor "shitty people," as Facebook has censored a chap for writing a book called The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama. And as Google has allowed lefty employees to "blacklist" white conservative employees on their corporate media.

I must say that I feel a bit flummoxed by this. I mean, haven't we all been subjected to decades of liberal drivel about how there is no way to objectively determine what speech is OK and what speech is bad and that censorship is just about the worst thing in the world.

Yeah, I know. That was when liberals felt in their bones that they would lose in a game of speech censorship. Now they seem to have persuaded themselves that there is no downside to an aggressive campaign to censor conservatives, alt-rightists, "haters" and "shitty people."

Look, this is nothing new, nothing remarkable. Humans are social animals and one of the things that social animals do is control lower-status animals by methods short of outright violence. So high-status animals use their social power to beat up on low-status animals.

Right now liberals are the high-status animals, and they have wonderfully indoctrinated the tech billionaires and their bribed apologists to join their social set, or else. So big tech is unreflectingly beating up conservatives with AI algorithms and by denying ads to conservative YouTube videos.

There is a word for this: injustice. It is also, I suspect, bad business, because if there is one thing that business tends to do it is to avoid riling up the customer. I believe this has to do with the settled science that a happy customer will tell three people but an unhappy customer will tell ten people about her experience.

And so I repeat: there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. My target audience for this notion is not ordinary mortals like you and I. It really is directed at people that think they have a divine -- or secular -- mission to bend the arc of history towards justice. My argument is that anyone that is trying to make the world a better place with the kindly help of government is probably a person that is creating injustice. Further, anyone that is proposing a magnificent system of justice that will save the world from oppression and injustice should look very hard at his program to tease out the many ways in which his perfect plan would in fact increase injustice rather than create justice.

That is why my Perfect Plan would merely have as its first overarching goal a desire to help immigrants to the city rise up into the middle class. I do not think that government programs are likely to help in this; I rather suspect that non-governmental assistance and guidance, particularly from evangelical churches, is the better way. My second overarching goal of my Perfect Plan would be to instruct the educated elite, the People of the Creative Self, not to use their cultural and status power to beat up on ordinary middle class Americans and stigmatize them as "shitty people." Or deplorables.

I am only saying this to be kind and generous to our liberal friends. In my judgement the "political correctness" culture of the liberals is going to prompt a huge movement of rage against the monstrous injustice of liberal cultural hegemony.

Because that is the point of my catchphrase. What people feel and get angry about is being on the receiving end of injustice, i.e., government force. So don't spend any time thinking up glorious plans for justice. Just chip away at the odd egregious injustice. And avoid the temptation to think that "we are become as gods."

Thursday, January 11, 2018

No, Filibuster and Balanced Budget Amendment Won't Do It

Christopher C. DeMuth is one of the grand old men of conservatism, having served at the American Spectator and run the American Enterprise Institute think tank for years.

As we all are, DeMuth is disturbed about our "fractured politics" and longs to do something about it. In a speech at AEI he proposes, 1) to end the modern filibuster, and 2) to enact a balanced budget amendment.

I'm sorry, but to me Christopher DeMuth is missing the point. Politics is about bigger things than the petty obstructionisms of the filibuster and the glorious goal of fiscal rectitude. It is about what happens after the welfare state.

And if we want to play the blame game then, yes, conservatives are to blame for the current mess. You can see that in the deficit numbers over at The federal deficit started up in the messes of the 1970s and continued high in the Reagan years of the 1980s. That's when conservatives decided we were not going to continue as dutiful tax collectors for the welfare state.

Not surprisingly, Democrats hate this. The neo-feudal welfare state is a great way to capture the votes of those new to the city, the immigrants that first came from Europe and now come from pretty well everywhere else. Rural people look to a strong benevolent master to look after them. Anthony Trollope defined the type in Cousin Henry, although his master is a woman:
The tenants had known her as the future owner of the acres which they cultivated and had entertained for her and shown her much genuine love. She had made herself acquainted with every homestead, landmark, and field about the place. She had learned the wants of the poor, and the requirements of the little school.
 That is how Democrats think of themselves, as kindly proprietors of the poor and the marginalized. Only, in truth, the federal budget is not all about the poor, but the middle class, for 50 percent of the federal budget goes for middle-class Social Security and Medicare. We conservatives say, great: everyone wants to help the poor, but not if it means that 50 percent of the federal budget goes for Social Security and Medicare. It stands to reason that, whatever the benefits of pension and health care programs for America's seniors like me, middle-class entitlements should not break the budget. It stands to reason also that the political system would always want to avoid facing up to the huge obligations of these fixed and immovable middle-class entitlements. Until it is too late.

As the old New Deal consensus has broken down the Democrats have responded by tightening political discipline. The meaning for me of all the political correctness is that Democrats need to frighten their supporters in order to get them to the polls. Obviously the 90 percent Democratic votes from African Americans is proof of that. The whole point of President Obama's race thingies, like support for Trayvon Martin and the race incident in Ferguson, Missouri, is to keep African-Americans strong in the fear that we are one election away from a return to Jim Crow. The only way to get 90 percent of any group's vote is to scare the stuffing out of them.

That is why we seem to be in a kind of a witch-hunt/reign of terror. Political hysteria is a natural step in the political process when things aren't going too well for your side. Earnest partisans ask themselves why the movement has not reached the Promised Land. The answer is obvious: saboteurs and wreckers, or in our modern parlance, racists, sexists, and homophobes.

And obviously, when an idiot like Donald Trump can become president, then it is time for the Resistance!

Now, I am a peaceable kind of guy, and I really don't like bust-ups. But nice, responsible reform is not the way that politics works, not now, not ever. That's because government is force, and the total assembly of government programs are nothing but a testament of force, enacted by the ruling class to reward its supporters. The revenues for Social Security pensions are obtained by forcing the American worker to cough up about 12 cents of every dollar earned. The Medicare benefits are obtained mostly by forcing wealthy Americans to cough up a substantial part of their incomes, so that the top 1 percent of federal taxpayers supply 40 percent of income tax revenue.

I don't see that any fiddling with the filibuster rules, or balanced-budget amendment is going to fix this problem. If you look at history the only way that any governmental problem gets solved is when it runs out of other peoples' money, and maybe not even then.

The reason that Donald Trump was elected is because the white working class finally woke up to the fact that the Democratic Party regards it as deplorables and expendables. And has done so ever since Archie Bunker was launched on TV in 1971 as the quintessential working-class racist sexist bigot. But the white working class still wants its Social Security and its Medicare. So nothing will change.

In my view, so long as the great middle of the American people want to be looked after by a kind land-owning squire rather than band together in non-governmental forms of social assistance, so long will the present neo-feudal big government welfare state continue. Until it breaks.

It might break because the non-white majority prefers the neo-tribalisms of modern Africa over the nation-state capitalism birthed in Northwest Europe. It might break because it runs out of money and the leaders of the time prefer to destroy the economy, as with Venezuela, rather than admit its errors. It might break because we got into a war and tried to continue the middle-class entitlements while waging global war on the Russians or the Chinese.

But one thing is sure. The present "fractured politics" will continue until somebody cries "uncle."

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

That James Damore Guy!

I'm still marveling about the central notion in James Damore's suit against Google. That Google has, as policy, a system of blacklisting, to allow its employees to cut themselves off from employees they don't like. (Is this just in political discussions, or does it extend to business as well?)

But you can understand it, if you listen to YouTube's Susan Wojciki, "part of the team at Google that decided to fire Damore." She talked to her kiddies at dinner. I think that her kids were asking her if it was true that women just don't quite cut it at face-to-the-monitor techie stuff.
I’ve spent so much time, so much of my career, to try to overcome stereotypes, and then here was this letter that was somehow convincing my kids and many other women in the industry, and men in the industry, convincing them that they were less capable. That really upset me.
Don't look now, Susie, but if you say something "upset" you, then you are promoting the stereotype that women act upon their feelings and not upon the facts. You are also promoting the stereotype that all upscale Bay Area notables are empty-headed morons without a idea in their heads except to advance the liberal party line. Oh, and by the way, have you ever investigated the original Greek meaning of "stereotype?" Before liberals got in charge, the Greek word "stereos" meant solid.

Of course, it is not really that scandalous that Google would discriminate against white male conservatives. Corporate types are always rumbling about "corporate culture" in corporate-speak, and I'd say it is only a couple of steps from promoting a corporate culture to rooting out dissenters. The whole point about a corporation is that it is, as its name implies, a body of people in which hierarchy and top-down management rules, and not the prices of the market.

But here is my bigger point. It starts with the notion of German sociologist Georg Simmel a century ago about what would happen when women came out of the home and into the public square.
Obviously, Simmel wrote, the public sphere, the world outside the home, in the short term would still be defined by men for men, but in the long term women would transform the public square to suit "a more feminine sensibility."
I must say that when I wrote this three years ago I was still "questioning" about what women in the public square meant.

It means that corporate culture is moving away from the male notion of the brotherhood, in which the question of feelings are subordinated to the goal of the operation, towards a culture in which feelings and relationships are more valued and enforced. The whole point of military training, for instance, is to train natural fight-or-flight instincts into fight-only instincts. The idea is that the rank-and-file soldier -- and therefore corporate warrior -- should risk his life in the service of the brotherhood or corporation. This is male culture. It is not female culture.

Any social unit that is governed not by a male sensibility but by a female sensibility is going to produce a corporate culture very different from the "once more unto the breach" mentality of the warrior band. It is going to produce a corporate culture much closer to the Google model than the model of Henry V's army in front of Harfleur.

There are other differences. I remember a woman friend complaining that the men wouldn't listen to her on a non-profit board she had recently joined. That's another difference between the male sensibility and the female sensibility. Men assume that they get a right to speak only when their deeds show that they are worthy of respect and that they have something to contribute. A woman expects to have the right to "share" from the moment she gets on the board.

Now I am a profound admirer of women. And I firmly believe that the feminine sensibility has its place in human affairs just as the male sensibility has its place.

But here is a heretical notion. Just as the male sensibility of smash through to victory is not the only way to do things and is wildly inappropriate in many cases, so the female sensibility of sharing and of replaying the high-school-mean-girl culture is not the only way to do things, and is wildly inappropriate in many cases.

However, you better not say stuff like that at Google. Because diversity and inclusion and stereotypes.

Hey, how about doing something about the liberal stereotypical behavior of lock-step political loyalty and unfriending anyone that disagrees with you, as this gay guy from a liberal, Jewish family experienced when he started to become conservative? What about diversity, inclusion, and stereotypes?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Could We Stop This Game of Removing Presidents?

In my political lifetime I have seen four efforts to remove a President of the United States from office: for Nixon it was Watergate; for Reagan it was Iran-Contra; for Clinton it was Monicagate; and now for Trump it is Russiagate. Note that each effort has involved Special Prosecutors.

I think it is about time we stopped this dangerous game, because sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt.

The fact is that Democrats were mortally offended when Richard Nixon was elected president. They had all convinced themselves that he was an evil Commie witch-hunter (my first liberal boss had a Nixon three-dollar-bill coffee mug) that had been sent to proper oblivion in the stolen election of 1960 (yeah, stolen for Kennedy by the Democratic Chicago machine: you could look it up).

If anything, Reagan was worse. Democrats persuaded themselves that Nixon was evil. But Reagan was an "amiable dunce," per Clark Clifford. How could a man like that be elected president? So they made hay with Iran-Contra, the diversion of funds by chaps like Col. North using money from selling weapons to Iran to fund the Central American anti-communist contras that Congress wouldn't fund.

Then the Republicans got back on the Dems by impeaching Clinton over lies he made in connection with young White House intern and daughter of a donor Monica Lewinsky. Only they couldn't convict him in the Senate: it takes a two-thirds majority to remove a president in the United States Senate. This effort rebounded on the Republicans as the Democrats won a few seats in the 1998 mid-terms, almost unheard of for a midterm election in the second term of a president.

Now we have the Democrats running their third removal effort in the last 50 years, against Trump on the strength of the Steele Dossier that was opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign.

I will tell you what is going on here. It is all about the end of the Democratic dominance from 1933 to 1968, and the refusal of liberals to understand that the world has changed. Liberals think that they have been ordained by some secular god to bend the arc of history towards justice using government programs and political power and activism. For 50 years it seemed that they were right, doing wonderful things like pro-union laws, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Civil Rights. Then, the day after all this was complete the American people turned away from the liberal project and elected Richard Nixon in 1968. The liberal world has never been the same since, and liberals can't understand why all those deplorables fail to agree that liberal governance has been the best thing since sliced bread.

OK, if you are a liberal then the world looks like the result of your wonderful wisdom. Imagine an America without pro-union legislation! Well, I can, and we maybe would not have lost all the jobs in union-dominated steel and auto if unions hadn't gotten special privileges. Imagine a world without Social Security! Well, I can, and the result would probably be that many more Americans would be saving with Fidelity and Vanguard and dying with a nice little nest egg for their children. Imagine a world without Civil Rights! Well, at least we wouldn't have the vile race and gender politics of Affirmative Action followed by Diversity and Inclusion.

In fact, a survey has shown that ordinary Americans really don't hate rich people much these days. But they really have a problem with the educated snobs in the administrative state that regulate them and order them around. Thus Donald Trump.

Now I have a proposal to my liberal friends. And that is: Give It Up. Your golden age is past. These days we are dealing with the unintended consequences of your wonderful ideas: with government spending that is all mewed up paying pensions to old people while young people get into ruinous student debt; with vile race politics encouraging the kind of tribalism that the nation state was designed to marginalize; with top-down administrative government that is bound to fail because Mises: that socialism cannot work because it cannot compute prices, and because Hayek: that no bureaucrat from Washington DC can outperform a million producers and consumers interacting through the price system. Also, of course, liberals have gravitated from enacting policy by legislation to administrative regulation by the bureaucracy. It is just too hard to pass beneficial legislation these days.

I encapsulate all this in my catchphrases: government is force, politics is division, system is domination. In the best society you want as little of these three wonders as possible.

It is telling that liberals in the last decades have been hard at work on a cultural project to deny their opponents a voice in the public square, by calling them racists, sexists, homophobes, and haters. Thus we have AntiFa that regards any non-liberal gathering as a fascist hate rally. Now we learn from James Damore's suit that Google has a policy that allows its lefty employees to blacklist co-workers on corporate communications whose opinions they don't like. Denying your opponents a voice is not going to end well, liberals.

I encapsulate all this in my catchphrase: there is no such thing as justice, only injustice.

Here's a brilliant idea, liberals. The whole idea of democracy is that, instead of having civil war, like in the good old days of Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays with Prince Hal facing off against Harry Percy and may the best man win in single combat, we have the sham war of elections. Instead of battling barons, or even mobs in the street, we have politicians battling it out in rallies, in political commercials, and in debates -- and latterly in insult tweets. It is the nature of this repeated sham fight that power alternates between parties, so that when our side is defeated we can say that while we are all Americans and should go home after the election, well, "wait until next time." Sean Trende has written that it is extremely unusual for one party to win the presidency more than twice in a row.

(Notice that after 1968 that Republicans won five out of six presidential elections. I wonder why?)

Democrats have basically not conceded the last two change elections that went against them after a two-term Democratic president. In other words, they object to the Sean Trende two-term rule. In 2000 they contested the Florida results, and Al Gore never properly conceded and never told his people to go home. So we had Democratic activists hopped up right through the two terms of Bush. Now we have had Hillary Clinton who failed to come out on election night and concede the election, and her supporters have responded with their "Resistance" and the various hysterical notions that Trump was colluding with the Russians, or that he is "mentally ill," or something.

The point is that if one side decides to stop observing the rules and habits of the democratic fake-war game then the other side is going to cotton on, and you are not going to like the results. That, to me, is also the lesson of Trump.

The conservative movement of the mid-to-late 20th century operated on the assumption that politics was a game of ideas: each side pitched its ideas to the electorate and may the best ideas win. But that ended in part with Bill Clinton, who ran as a moderate and then pushed government-healthcare Hillarycare on us. He got his hat handed to him in the 1994 midterms when the first Republican Congress in 40 years got elected. Then we had Barack Obama, elected in a normal change election, who decided that Americans had voted for "fundamental transformation." No they hadn't, and the Republican Congress and the Trump presidency are the result. Now we have the anti-Trump Resistance that seems to think it can use the deep state to spy on its opponents and run President Trump's troops through the ringer of a special prosecutor. In a vague way, even anti-Trumper David Brooks can see there is a problem with this.

Look, the point of democracy is that government power goes to the chaps that can persuade the electorate that it is either Time for a Change, or Four More Years. That is all. Democracy says nothing about justice or arcs of history, or the wonders of a compassionate educated elite that graduated from all the right elite colleges and scored all the right internships. In fact, because of the fact that democracy is just a trial of strength: my millions of voters vs. your millions of voters, we should not assume that any democratic government is elected to do anything more that reward its supporters for their votes. I like to remind everyone about this with my catchphrase that They are all Idiots. That's why we have change elections, when the voters get tired of the old idiots and decide to elect new idiots. Call it Rotating Idiocracy.

You may think that Trump is an idiot, and you may be right. Only one thing: he is hatching what amounts to the full conservative agenda, the ideas that conservative thinkers and think tanks have been incubating for the last 50 years, from reduced tax rates (because settled-science marginal economics, vintage 1870), to rollback of administrative regulation (because settled-science "regulatory capture," vintage 1955). But one thing is certain. Chaps like Barack Obama and the crazy-cakes gender studies professors are the real idiots, because they are going against the settled science of the last century, that big government is a real problem, because it cannot compute prices.

I add, in addition, that big government does not work because government finds it almost impossible to do reform. Once you have set up a program that distributes benefits to the voters it becomes almost impossible to reform or reduce it, for the simple reason that people adjust their lives to take advantage of the free stuff offered by government and strongly resist the notion later on that they should get onto their bikes and go get a job so they can pay for the benefit themselves. That is the difference between government and the private sector. In the private sector businesses and consumers must adjust their plans every day, based on the signals from the price system. But the whole point of government is to sidestep the price system, to set up a rigid regulatory system that grinds on with the same rules, year after year, rain or shine. Until the whole thing breaks down.

It is a vile conceit that my party has a monopoly on virtue, or that your party has a monopoly on hate. Politics is simply division, the game of demonizing the opposition and getting 51 percent of the vote in the next election. Conceit aside, the probable truth is that the administrative state and its one-size-fits-all government entitlement programs is past its sell-by date.

The only question is whether we will transition to the new order peacefully, or through the wringer of inflation and riot and revolution. Removing the other guys' president ain't gonna get us to those sunlit uplands, I guarantee, so stop it you crazy-cakes.

That is all.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Another Shoe Drops on Obamacare Repeal

Right here in the middle of the end of the world of Fire and Fury another shoe drops on Obamacare. The Trump administration has published a proposed regulation to allow individuals to band together to purchase health insurance across state lines -- without all the mandatory Obamacare free coverage.
The new regulation, which was published in the Federal Register on January 5, will be available for public comment for 60 days. When it goes into effect, it will allow small employers to band together for the purpose of buying health insurance in the large group market. Specifically, it will “allow employers to form small business health plans based on geography or industry” and permit such plans “to serve employers in a state, city, county or a multi-state metro area.” It can be used to “serve all the businesses in a particular industry nationwide,” and also allows sole proprietors to join small business health plans. 
Here is what a critic of the Trump policy has to say.
Currently… associations that offer coverage to small businesses or individuals have to follow ACA rules, which require coverage of 10 categories of essential benefits, and limit what factors can be considered in charging premiums. The new regulation would largely exempt association plans from these rules, allowing them to offer insurance to small businesses and sole proprietors that is cheaper but also covers less[.]
Yay! If you are an individual policyholder or small businessman.

By the way, the difference between health insurance and government "health insurance" is that the government version always has free stuff thrown in to hook the bubbas. Hey, why not when the government is paying anyway.

Seriously, we can now do a review of the wisdom of the original Obamacare plan. It had a problem, learned from the debacle of Hillarycare. Most Americans already have health insurance and they do not appreciate being forced to pay more to subsidize people that don't yet have insurance. So the sell on Obamacare had to be that nobody was going to pay more, and there would be no serious impact on "the deficit." That meant that the Obamacare subsidies could not all appear on the federal budget; instead chaps like Jonathan Gruber had to come up with cunning plans to force the subsidies to be paid by people buying health insurance so they would pay for a good chunk of the benefits distributed to Democratic voters who were supposed to benefit from the extension of health insurance.

But since many of the Obamacare benefits were "off-budget," and even fashioned through regulations, that makes them much harder to defend, and much easier to reverse.

Clearly it is very difficult for Republican politicians to put together a straight-up repeal of Obamacare; that is what the failures of the fall of 2017 were about. It is not so difficult for Trump bureaucrats to repeal Obamacare step-by-step through the administrative state.

(Here's an interesting take. When Trumpists talk about reining in the administrative state, the mainstream media doesn't really get it. Well, of course. The issue of the administrative state is a thing in conservative think tanks and policy analysts like Charles Murray writing books like By the People. For liberals the administrative state is not a bug, it's a feature.)

But it all comes back to the liberal narrative on President Trump. If this guy is a complete idiot, and mentally ill, and colluding with Russia, and watching TV all day, how come he is able to preside over this massive roll-back of the administrative state, and figure out that, if you can't repeal Obamacare by the front door you can repeal it by the back door? How come?

It comes down to the basic question. Donald Trump is not an idiot; he merely plays one on TV.

Friday, January 5, 2018

It is Trump the Chaotic Idiot Week Again

Dear Jonah Goldberg is still going on about how useless Donald Trump is. In the week of the White House tell-all gossip book, Fire and Fury, Jonah tells us that it is nothing new. We already know that the president spends hours a day "in front of a television." We already know that "the president struggles to complete a line of thought without being distracted." We already know that the president represents himself as the world's foremost expert on everything but he has never been seen "actually talked expertly for more than a minute on any public policy without the benefit of a teleprompter."

Hmm. Remember how everybody knew that Ronald Reagan was an amiable dunce that did not know the details of policy. And remember how Barack Obama represented himself as a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, etc.?

We really cannot know how much of the Trump Administration is Trump and how much is the people he has appointed or how much is serendipity and accident that the right people got into the right places. Or that when you staff up a Republican administration you get the same people from the same think tanks every time.

But the rule of thumb is that, if it happens on Trump's watch, he gets the credit and he gets the blame.

For instance, President Clinton came into office after a mild recession and presided over 8 years of strong growth. You may say that issued more from a Republican Congress that deregulated and cut taxes, but it still happened on his watch.

For instance, President Obama presided over a decade of weak growth. He gets the blame, although I have read that after a big credit panic like 2008 it usually takes the economy a decade to get into its stride again.

Now, according to my view, the actions of Trump administration in rolling back regulations and cutting business tax rates are going to have a strong pro-growth effect on the economy. Also, the recovery of housing prices is going to make it easier for business start-ups to use their home equity as capital. And if all that happens it doesn't matter if the president watches TV or tweets juvenile insults or doesn't understand the details of policy. The good things will have happened on his watch and he will get the credit. That is all.

On the other hand any delay in returning interest rates to normal now that the economy seems to be firing on all cylinders could allow a boom and bubble that could burst before the president runs for reelection in 2020. And that would be the president's fault, just as the current stock bull market is to the president's credit. And don't ask me what happens if and when the Bitcoin bubble bursts. But the president will get the blame.

The truth is that political leaders of every stripe are pretty unsavory characters. Think of JFK, serial adulterer; LBJ, who had hideaway offices in the Capitol to entertain females and got to be senator from Texas courtesy of Box 13; Nixon, an arriviste that "everyone" despised; Bill Clinton, another serial adulterer and a notoriously corrupt politician. Oh then there was George W. Bush, who seems to have been a nice guy. But what good did it do him?

Then there is Barack Obama that got elected twice on the strength of Illinois court divorce records that mysterious went public. What a guy! And we still know nothing of how things went down in the Obama White House.

No doubt Donald Trump is a monster. Politicians and big businessmen usually are. The bottom line is whether their governance benefits the American people and puts the economy on a secure upward arc.

Everything else is gossip and bad faith.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Peace Be to the Deplorables

Item Two of my Perfect Plan is that the People of the Creative Self should be compassionate and understanding of the People of the Responsible Self, in the same way that the People of the Creative Self demand that the People of the Responsible Self be compassionate and understanding of the People of the Subordinate Self.

Put into everyday language, we demand that the educated elite stop beating on the Deplorables as racist sexist homophobes, just as they demand that "the rich" stop exploiting and oppressing the traditionally marginalized. Sauce for goose is sauce for the gander.

You see, I think that the biggest problem in the world right now is the conceit and the sense of entitlement in the educated elite. On the one hand the educated elite is afflicted with the conceit that they are the lions, the movement, the chosen (as in Skip Marley's "Lions") to lead and lift the marginalized out their eternal slavery. And that is to be done by political power, the kindly attentions of the chosen to provide benefits and entitlements to said oppressed and marginalized.

I would say that the record of the last 150 years is that the more that the educated elite succeeds in getting political power to lead and lift the marginalized the worse it is for the marginalized. Oh yeah, it was great to help the working class and give them free education, and union rights, and government pensions. For a while. But now look at the white working class: abandoned by their patrons in the educated elite as Deplorables, and desperately short of the middle-class skills and culture that you need to wive and thrive in the modern economy.

Or women. What has the sexual revolution and women's liberation and careers for women really done for women? The divorce revolution has allowed men to cast aside their wives; the sexual revolution plus abortion on demand has forced women to surrender their young bodies to men, and allow men to love without commitment. Oh and it has pitched many a woman into a life of regret about the babies she "got rid of." What is the point of careers for women? Don't people understand that "career" is a cunning plan to get men to compete for the spoils of corporate office rather than the spoils of war? It is crazy to teach young women that "careers" are the highest and best thing in life. One day, women will discover that the whole women's liberation movement is a crock. And they they will be angry. Oh wait, they already are.

Or blacks. What has the civil rights revolution done for blacks lately? And what did the First Black President do for blacks? No doubt the police have it in for blacks. But maybe that makes sense, given that black men murder at a rate about eight times greater than white men. I dare say that your average policeman is well aware of that. But to act on it is called "profiling" by the educated elite. No doubt that many murders go unpunished in inner cities. But that is because witnesses are intimidated from testifying in court, per Jill Leovy's Ghettoside. And no doubt the police harass the local gangbangers: that's because the gangbangers can only be prosecuted for "breaking windows" when witnessed by a police officer. Meanwhile Latinos seems to be taking over the homebuilding industry. And the educated elite seems much more interested in the plight of the "gender-nonconforming" than the continued marginalization of blacks. One day, blacks will discover that the race politics of the Democrats is a crock. And then they will be angry. Oh wait, they already are.

No, the educated elite should not be leading the marginalized into an orgy of marginalization and a Skip Marley fantasy about being the chosen, the movement to lead the marginalized to glorious vengeance. Sorry chum, the dreadful oppressive capitalist class has just spent 200 years flooding the world with cheap products for the masses. The capitalist Deplorables are in the business of inventing new products and spreading them around for all to enjoy, and they are very good at it. How bad could it be?

Then there is the other war of the educated elite upon the Deplorables, the culture war that declares the cultural norms of the bourgeoisie to be suffocating and patriarchal for the glorious educated elite and their creative spawn. I've been reading Peter Gay's Why the Romantics Matter in the past few days and it reminds me that the war on the responsible middle class has been going on for 200 years, with the various Romantic movements defining themselves by their difference from the awful, dull, patriarchal, rule-obsessed, kitschy, tasteless middle class.

The point of difference between all the Romantics -- and that is why I call them People of the Creative Self -- is the difference between ordinary middle-class individualism and what Charles Taylor calls the "expressive" individualism of the educated creative elite. Call it the difference between responsible individualism and creative, "expressive" individualism. All your artists and writers think that the ordinary middle class stinks, because of what My Fair Lady's Alfred P. Doolittle calls "middle-class morality."

No doubt, from the lordly height of a Lord Byron or various other scions of wealthy families that could afford to become artists and writers, the middle class is rather mean and pathetic. But I think that attitude fails to put itself in the place of the Other. And understanding the Other is the beginning of wisdom, according to Schopenhauer.

The center of gravity of the middle class is the merchant class, people who live their lives trading goods and services, and this way of life goes back to the founding of cities, 3,000 years ago. The whole point of a merchant is to be trustworthy and responsible, so that people will trade with him. It obviously is a Big Thing, because the religions of responsibility -- Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity -- started their emergence about 3,000 years ago. The idea was and is that humans are responsible individuals, responsible in particular to God, who will judge them at the end of days. In my view Christianity is most particularly the religion of people just entering the middle class from rural idiocy and the rough comfort of the village and the blood kindred. I have a quote that I like to use to illustrate this, the words of a preacher in the Great Awakening of the mid 18th century.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
This is exactly the point of the People of the Responsible Self, to experience yourself as a responsible being for whom the abdication of responsibility is a damning sin.

Now, the People of the Creative Self are always tempted to regard this experience of people just learning how to make it in the city as rather small beer, a thing for little people, Deplorables really, that lack the courage and the fortitude to step out into the uncharted waters of a creative life.

OK, then why is the same not applicable to the People of the Subordinate Self that want to live by handouts from their political patrons? Get a life, kid! Stop gang-banging and get a job!

I have been dipping into Jungian psychology recently, and touched Jung's idea of "individuation," which means the difficult process of getting to understand yourself, in a gradual process, as an individual person with your own particular character and history. What Jung is not saying is that creativity is the only thing, and that a refusal to use the means appointed to be creative is a damning sin of the patriarchy.

It's a sad thing, to me, that everyone seems to be attacking the middle class. It is a difficult row for the middle class to hoe, because, as I insist, the defining thing about the middle class is that it is not that interested in power, and yet, beset by the educated elite on one hand and the underclass catspaws of the educated elite on the other, it looks like the middle class is going to have to take up the weapons of power in order to defend itself and its responsible culture.

I would tell our liberal friends in the educated elite that they really don't want to get the middle-class Deplorables angry. That's because the culture of responsibility and trust has the potential to be more powerful than anything the creatives or the victims are capable of doing.

I say, Peace be unto the Deplorables, if you know what is good for you.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Two Reactions: How Do We Deal With Them?

In recent weeks I have been developing the idea of the Two Reactions against the modern world, and that is the way to understand the Left. It is the most natural thing in the world that the staggering social and economic changes of the last 200 years has provoked a movement of reaction against the modern phenomenon of wage labor and market capitalism. What I call the Double Revolution is utterly strange and disruptive to the old ways of the world.

So the left has raised the banner of identity politics, a neo-tribalism that reenacts the culture of the tribe that is mobilized forever against the danger of the neighboring tribe that wants "our" land. Naturally, there is in every one of us still the spirit of the hunter-gatherers and their existential need for tribal unity.

And the left has raised the banner of the patron/client relation, symbolized for us by powerful lord and its grateful retainers, a neo-feudalism that reenacts the culture of the agricultural age in which farmers needed military protection from raiders and pirates that might descend on them and steal their grain stores, for every agricultural village must store grain for the next year from the harvest until the next crop is harvested and is therefore always vulnerable to plunderers.

Our lefty friends imagine that their fight against "fascism" is proof enough of their virtue, yet they seem to be utterly blind and deaf to the truth that their identity politics, their encouragement for people to identify themselves by race or gender rather than by citizenship, is pure racism and sexism, the very thing they rail against.

Our lefty friends imagine that their welfare state is the acme of compassion and justice, yet are blind and deaf to the creaking inefficiency and injustice of a system that pays billions out to well-to-do retired folks like me while taxing young and less well-to-do working people to pay for our benefits. Of course they do: they are the guys that get to occupy the commanding heights of the welfare state in comfortable sinecures and pensions that issue from their hard-gained credentials and connections.

There is a spirit in conservatism that longs to roll up tribalism into a global community that gets beyond race or gender or class identity, but I do not think it is practical to expect humans to do that. We humans are tribal; the question is how to channel our tribalism into beneficial channels that don't set us against each other within our current political boundaries.

There is a spirit in conservatism that longs to roll up the welfare state and replace it with a non-governmental system of private charity and mutual-aid societies in which people are responsible for their own social insurance. But I do not think that it is practical to assume that everyone can do that. There is clearly a big part of each human that wants to snuggle up to a powerful lord and have him take care of making us safe.

So my mind proceeds to wonder how we can accommodate our instinctive tribalism but without the bloodthirsty naming and shaming that sometimes escalates into witch hunts and Reigns of Terror. And I wonder how we can accommodate people that do not want to try the rigors of the marketplace but want to live a life of safety.

And I come to this from my recent reading of Jungian psychology that emphasizes the continuing role of the unconscious and its vast underworld of instinctive "archetypes" or scripts for living. Obviously we cannot consign the unconscious to the dust bin of history. It is a vital part of us; indeed recent science says that the brain seems to make decisions about 1.5 seconds before the decision appears in our conscious mind. So what is that all about? Does it mean that our glorious consciousness and rationalism is all a mirage and a delusion?

But then it occurred to me that we have already accommodated the tribal and the feudal impulses in our modern world. After all, we are humans, we are not as dumb as we seem.

In the stead of tribalism we have invented the nation state. Instead of the actual ties of the blood kindred we have the fantasy of a nation united by its language, its culture, its glorious history, and the memory of the Fallen, those who died to Make Us Safe. How cool is that? There are a lot of people that sneer at the nation state. They should cool their jets; it is nothing less that amazing that we could have transformed the culture of the actual tribe into a myth of the imaginary tribe made up out of whole cloth by clever thinkers and propagandists. And that is the problem of the globalists; they have not thought through how to create a transnational demos to which ordinary people can pledge allegiance. Their transnational experiments cannot succeed unless they create a demos for their transnational creations. I like to joke that we humans will not create a global political community until we have to fight a war against the Martians or the Trisolarians from Alpha Centauri.

What we need to work on is how to keep tribalism inside the guardrails. The problem right now is that our global elite has discouraged a nation-level identity politics on the grounds that we must never allow fascism to rear its ugly head. But its strategy to retain its power has encouraged and normalize sub-national identity politics with appeals to labor unions, Black Lives Matter, the Latino La Raza, women's liberation groups, and environmental groups. Hey, groups like that are natural and physical, but should not have special privileges, as unions did for a century. And when the ruling class encourages sub-national identity politics it is playing with fire.

In the stead of feudalism we have invented the corporation. Instead of the subordination to the local lord we have subordination to the corporate hierarchy, with its pretty safe employment prospects, its chance for advancement, and its basket of benefits and pensions. If you don't like the uncertainty of employment at will, you can get yourself into a nice safe corporation with an HR department and a code of conduct. In my view, it is not really safer to work for a corporation than to accept the rigors of employment at will, but it sure feels like it.

What we need to work on is how to keep the neo-feudal baronies from plundering the rest of society. It is clear that the industrial corporations of the 1950s in concert with industrial labor unions were allowed to raise prices and wages above the market level, and this was unjust. But then, in another proof of God's existence, the proud privileged steel and auto industries got soft and entitled, and got sucker-punched by emerging German and Japanese corporations in the 1970s. Then they ran out of money to pay their defined-benefit pensions. We could have avoided that if we had kept the corporations and labor unions honest and written beneficial legislation to prevent labor unions from forming a combination against trade and prevent corporations from getting carve-outs from politicians and regulators. Today we have the scandal of government employees earning way above the levels in the private sector and getting defined-benefit pensions that threaten to bankrupt states like California and Illinois. The truth is that people may run from the market and its prices, but they can't hide, not forever. Eventually everyone of us must surrender to the will of the market and its prices, and it is the job of a good ruling class to teach the people the truth of the emergent phenomenon we call the price system.

Is this possible? Can we contain the tribal and the feudal impulse within safe channels, with wise recognition of their profound humanness, and cunning strategies to keep them from plundering us all?

We should all hope so.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What the Trump Skeptics of 2016 Got Wrong

Over at the American Spectator libertarian Ross Kaminsky admits he was wrong about Donald Trump (he voted for Evan McMullin) back in 2016. Donald Trump has emerged as a "president of consequence."

So I got to thinking about why chaps like Kaminsky got it wrong, and why chaps like me got it right.

Nothing wrong with being wrong: it is impossible to predict the future. Everything we do when we look to the future is a leap of faith. And obviously Ross Kaminsky had no faith in Donald Trump. The reason is obvious: Donald Trump ran as a populist, and for a hard-core libertarian like Kaminsky or a traditional conservative populism is foolishness at best and the first step to totalitarianism at worst.

But now that President Trump has governed as a pretty mainstream conservative/libertarian we can see that the populism was in part a ruse. To win the election Donald Trump understood -- either consciously or unconsciously -- that he had to appeal not just to the normal Republican base but to another sector of the electorate that wasn't libertarian or conservative: the white working class.

Imagine that: to win an election you have to be popular.

Trump promised to Make America Great Again and to fight against the free-trade policies and the immigration policies that had brought the white working class low. And he promised to bring jobs back.

Now we doctrinaire libertarians and economic conservatives would argue, from our deep understanding of economics, that the way to Make America Great Again would be to lower tax rates and cut regulations, and we were troubled that Candidate Trump did not really spell that out, but just talked in generalities about a great tax cut and draining the swamp.

Let us assume that Donald Trump is not an idiot, but just plays one on TV. This Donald Trump would understand that, in order to bring the white working class into the Republican camp, he would have to de-emphasize the details of tax-cutting and regulation cutting, because the white working class has been fed lefty propaganda for generations about evil corporations that get tax loopholes and screw the worker and the consumer. The Republican Party has obviously failed in the past to sell the white working class on traditional economics, so Trump would have to soft-pedal the pro-business aspect of his agenda.

So Trump campaigned on Making America Great Again and assumed that when his tax-cutting and regulation-cutting hit the street they would provide enough of an economic surge to deliver on the basic promise of Making America Great Again -- by creating jobs and lifting wages for the average employee -- and never mind how he got there.

In that he was obviously right. The average voters understand bupkis about economics and tax rates and regulations. They just regurgitate catch-phrases, and most of the catch-phrases come from the left, thanks to the schools and the media. But the average voter does respond to an improving economy, and that response seems to kick in at about 3 percent growth per annum.

The other thing that Donald Trump has done that people like Kaminsky -- and many others -- do not like is the insulting and the tweeting.

Maybe so, but it has to be understood that the nice polite conservatism of George W. Bush and the establishment Republican Party has not worked. While we act all nice, with white gloves and all, the left amps up the insults.

After all, what could be more insulting than to call everyone right of center a racist, a sexist, and a homophobic bigot? Not to mention a hater and a xenophobe? Whatever may be the right and the wrong of left-wing propagands, a politician of the right cannot allow his supporters to be attacked and humiliated in this way. He must fight for his supporters.

Now, a lot of nice polite people don't like the Trump Culture of Insult. Of course they don't. It goes against the polite culture of the bourgeois middle class. But I argue that the default culture of men is the Culture of Insult that comes from the male honor code of courage under fire. And if politics is not a war of insult I don't know what is.

For instance, "Chuck and Nancy" have reacted to the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as the end of the world. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) has said that Republicans would "rue the day" they passed the bill, and Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) has warned of "Armageddon." Really? And Trump is supposed to smile sweetly in response?

In reality, the Trump insults are nothing like enough. What is needed is a full-frontal culture war on the left's neo-tribal identity politics from a solid cultural fortress that defends bourgeois culture, understands the problems of the marginalized, and drives past the educated elite's culture of creativity to something higher and nobler. Problem is that the genius needed to build that solid cultural fortress has not yet emerged from the brow of Zeus, and so we are stuck with guerrilla tactics, worrying at the flanks of the dominant left and keeping them off-balance with Trumpist insult tweets.

One fine day, we righties will emerge trailing clouds of glory with a religious faith that understands the meaning of life, the universe, and everything in a way that satisfies everyone: from the folks just emerging from rural idiocy into the immense challenge of life in the city; to the middle-class bourgeois that obeys the law, goes to work, and follows the rules; to the educated elitist that wants to do something creative with their life.

But that day is not yet.

Meanwhile, as Donald Rumsfeld said, "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

You also go to war with the general you have, not the general you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Basic Training for Women in the Workplace

If you read the stories of the victims of Pervnado you encounter the same story, again and again. When the victim in question was touched or otherwise subject to a male's power play, she froze.

That is a problem. Either women can take care of themselves in public places or... well, Sarah Hoyt thinks that corporations just won't want to hire women any more: too much trouble. Given that a man can now be fired just on the accusation of a woman, it means that no sensible man will want to be around women in the workplace.
[T]his will give companies pause before hiring women, which will lead to a lot of decent and qualified women being left unemployed.
Oh dear. How come the feminazis never thought of that?

So I have a solution. Basic Training for Babes in the Workplace.

The problem of "freezing" at a frightening moment is not just a problem for women in the workplace. It is a problem for soldiers in wartime.

Yeah, that's right. Armies have a big problem with training their soldiers not to freeze when frightened out of their wits. So do airlines, when it comes to an emergency in the air.

So what do these outfits do? Perfectly simple. They train their employees to deal with emergencies, to follow orders when the skies are falling, and not just emergencies in general, but what to do, step-by-step, in specific emergencies.

I have experienced how that works in my own life. For several years I was a soaring pilot, flying gliders. The big problem in gliding is what to do if you don't find lift from a thermal and cannot get back to your home airfield. In that case, you have to "land out," probably in a farmer's field. So you get trained how to pick a suitable field, how high up you need to be to do a proper approach pattern, and above all, when to make the decision to land out. In my soaring days I found myself too low to return to base twice, and both times I followed my training and set myself up for a land-out in a suitable field. But both times, as I was flying the approach pattern to land, I found lift and was able to abort the approach and circle in a thermal and eventually return to my home base.

Despite all the fear and adrenaline I followed my training, and I can see why. When you have the option between: heading for home hoping against hope that you make it, and a procedure drilled into you by your training that has a safe result ending up in a suitable field, you go with the "safer" option.

In the aftermath of US Airways Flight 1549 that landed in the Hudson River after a bird strike that knocked out its engines, I got to read a few articles about airborne emergencies. The experts said that when there is an emergency in the air, flight crew do what they are trained to do.

Then there was Air France 447 that crashed after getting into clouds in the tropical convergence zone. Reading the reports on the accident I was amazed at the cluelessness of the flight crew. They clearly had not been properly trained to deal with a stall situation: so they panicked and flopped around and lost their lives, and the plane, and the passengers.

So, when it comes to women in the workplace we have two options. Either we place women in protected safe spaces, or we train them to deal with a variety of unwanted attentions.

If we decide to put women into safe spaces, then we are saying that the whole business of women's liberation was a failure, because women are just too frail and risk-averse to deal with threats against their person. Bring back the patriarchy.

So the only sensible alternative is Basic Training for the Workplace. I am not talking about martial arts and well-aimed kicks in the groin. I am talking about training women to respond automatically to the kind of aggression practiced by the Harvey Weinsteins and the Matt Lauers of the world. Oh, and the Joe Bidens of the world:

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And frankly, it would be a good thing if women just automatically followed their training before worrying about creating a scene, as above or worse, thinking about whether there might be an angle to going with the flow and hoping for a quid pro quo for a bit of nookie.

Oh, and it would really help if the Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers and Joe Bidens of the world knew that women would automatically go to their training instead of freezing.

This is all very well, you might say, but are you sure that women are up for this sort of thing? Isn't Basic Training a guy sort of thing, that issues from the male honor culture and its street manifestation, the Culture of Insult? Can women get beyond their Culture of Complaint and actually do something about male aggression other than complain about it and #metoo about it?

That's a good question. Another thing that came out of my glider pilot experience, was that they found that whenever a woman glider pilot had a frightening experience in the air she was done with gliding. In other words, women tend to respond to a frightening event by never going near it again. Whereas the essence of the male honor culture is the courage to go back into the maelstrom to show that you are a member in good standing of the band of brothers.

I don't know the answer to that. But I do feel that either women decide it is their responsibility to look after themselves at the office or return to the protected status of the patriarchy.

And maybe it is too late, if the Women of the New York Times are to be believed.

OK, so maybe the Women of the New York Times just want Daddy to get their blankie. But when someone else has the job of making you safe, then you are their subject, their creature; you are not an independent woman.