Friday, June 29, 2018

Sunsetting Labor Unions

Of course, The New York Times is deeply worried by the US Supreme Court's decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et al. It significantly reduces public sector union power by allowing government employees to opt out of paying union dues.

Now, the Supreme Court's conservative majority justifies their decision of the First Amendment rights of government employees: they shouldn't have to pay for political action they disagree with. But Justice Kagan said this was baloney. This was just an attack on labor unions.

Actually, I agree with the dissent. Let's face it, government employee unions deploy their finances to support politicians that will pour money into the pockets of government employees, with salaries, benefits, and pensions and tenure that would be complete fantasy for almost any worker in the private sector. So any government employee objecting to paying for this is living in fantasyland, and merely wants to be a freeloader, benefiting from the union's political power without having to pay for it.

And let's face it, from the point of view of the average government employee, the government worker unions have been a stunning success.

So really, what the conservative wing of the Court is doing is finding a convenient way to scupper the government worker unions. And hey, why not the First Amendment, on which liberals have hung a bunch of their big-government goodies over the years!

But the irony is not lost on me. The whole point of the welfare state, what I call neo-feudalism, is free-riding. The legislature passes a law to give benefits to e.g., senior citizens for end-of-life health care, and senior citizens like me get to free-ride on the benefits forever. Until the whole country goes Venezuela.

And the whole point of the labor union movement is to free-ride on the wealth created by business corporations. Back in the early 19th century the courts held that labor unions were conspiracies in restraint of trade, like business price-fixing cartels. But then the courts started to bend to popular opinion and decide that, hey, da workers got their rights!

Well, yes. We all want to be able to defy the market and its prices when it benefits us.

But then there is the long term. In business a labor union can end up bankrupting it, as the business commits to pensions 30 years out that no corporation can responsibly agree to. Hello Detroit auto companies.

And in government a labor union can get politicians to legislate pensions in the great hereafter that can crowd out basic expenditures on services and bankrupt the government. And in fact in many blue states in the US the states are well on the way to bankruptcy and are cutting services. Because, you see, it's in the state constitution. Pensions cannot be reduced. Because justice.

So the Supreme Court's decision on Janus is piled high with irony. Here we have a decision based on First Amendment absolutism, just like liberals used to do. And it enshrines the right of a union member to freeload, just as liberals insist on everything else. Naturally, the dissent is outraged at this monstrous injustice.

Actually, I happen to think that no government employee should be allowed to join a union. Period. But I believe that anyone in the private sector should be allowed to belong to a union. But for one thing. No defined benefit pensions, not guarantees about the future. At. All. If you wanna have a pension, then it is a defined contribution pension, with absolutely no guarantees about the future. When you retire, you get the capital sum, or an annuity, based on your contributions and your employer's contributions and their increase over the years due to the magic of compound interest. Nobody gets to defer their contributions: not the employee, not the employee. Because reality.

The interesting thing to me is the utter decline of labor unions in the private sector, presently down to 6.7 percent. Why is this?

I suspect it is because, willy nilly, people now accept that it is their job to become and to stay employable. And no labor union can protect you from that.

But 35 percent of employees in the public sector are union members. Of course, because labor unions have produced amazing gains for their members. That's because government is not governed by the prices of the private sector. The only cloud on the horizon is the bankruptcy of the government in question, and how can that ever occur, given the state's power to compel taxes from the people to pay its supporters?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Conservative Supreme Court is Not the Answer to our Prayer

With the resignation of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy from the  US Supreme Court the nation is plunged into another no-holds-barred fight over a Supreme Court nomination.

For liberals, evidently, there is a full-on panic about abortion and gay marriage. Do you see the problem, liberals? If you make the Supreme Court the supreme arbiter of everything cultural and moral, then your very lives, your fortunes, and your sacred honor depends on a majority on the Supreme Court. The proper way to go is to persuade the voters to elect representative that will write laws to enact your agenda.

Of course conservatives have our own problems with the Supreme Court. It was called the "Strange New Respect" problem by Tom Bethell at the American Spectator 30 years ago. Simply put, when the Washington Post starts according "strange new respect" to a conservative in Washington, DC, it means that the said conservative has surrendered to the ruling-class culture and will no longer hold out for conservative principles. Justice Kennedy is the poster-boy for the "strange new respect" syndrome. The strategy of the Federalist Society and the apprenticing of staunch conservatives in the judiciary has been a conscious effort to inculcate heroic values in young conservatives so that they will go to their deaths like Antonin Scalia without ever getting "strange new respect" from chaps like Peter Strzok.

OK, great. So President Trump gets to convert the "strange new respect" Kennedy that voted for abortion and gay marriage with a guy that won't. But that doesn't solve our problem.

Our problem is that the elite culture of the US is pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. What we need is an America in which educated evolved people in the ruling class would say: look, I understand the liberals and the feminists on abortion: it's a terrible burden to bring a child into the world because of a breakdown of contraception or without the support of the father. But we are talking about human life here. Or they would say: I understand the yearning of gays for the stamp of normality, to come in from the cold of the sexual wilderness, but we are really talking children here. The purpose of marriage is not to make life all cozy for couples, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual or the lastest wizard wheeze of intersectionality.  The purpose of marriage is to protect the mother of children, to bind the father of her children to her, to enforce the woman's instinct for eternal love against the male appetite for sexual adventure.

So, we are faced with the Andrew Breitbart maxim: "politics is downstream from culture." If you want to win in politics you have to win first in the culture. And conservatives are not winning in the culture. Instead our children are being marinated in left-wing culture K thru grad school, and every day by the left-wing entertainment and news industry.

But even that is not the whole story, as I wrote just yesterday. And I got that from sci-fi author and Christian John C. Wright, who wrote in "Last Crusade: Fighting the Wrong Battle" that it is not enough to fight the left on the cultural front knowing that "culture is downstream from religion."
[I]f the Left retains the moral high ground, the people (who in the long run always seek moral validation before any other factor, including wealth or gratification, applause or power) will cleave to the Left.

The Identitarians will find that their cultural ammunition, the memes and short videos which are this generations version of folk songs, will not have any deep or lasting effect.

One cannot change a man’s mind unless his heart allows it. But one cannot change a man’s heart unless his soul allows it.

In the same way politics is downstream of culture, culture is downstream of religion.
See, when that foolish woman owner of the Red Hen chucks Press Secretary Sarah Sanders out of her restaurant she thinks she is doing the moral thing. Because she is a Good Little Girl that has learned her lessons well.

So I believe that our present problem is that our ruling class, the people that have learned their lessons well at the woke university, have been taught a false religion. This religion is one part "activism," the fantasy that "peaceful protest" on behalf of helpless victims is the highest form of life, and one part "paternalism," the conceit that "we" are selfless educated and evolved people that are called to minister to the people and organize and administer the welfare state on their behalf.

I will tell you what is wrong with both these conceits. The add up to the Great Reaction, the retreat from the modern society that has advanced beyond tribalism and subordination to an independence of sorts in the free market society of the nation state. But the religion that Good Little Boys and Good Little Girls are taught in school and in the media is the reactionary neo-tribalism of identity politics, and the neo-feudalism of the welfare state. Thus, Great Reaction.

One Fine Day, the best and the brightest will wake up from this nightmare and take up a religion that rejects neo-tribalism for a much broader pan-human identity, and rejects neo-feudalism for a cooperative and human community rather than an administrative and mechanical community. But that day is not yet.

And that means that we conservatives are reduced to depending on nominating brave Supreme Court justices to hold the line against the follies and the injustices of the left until the dawning of a new age.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Reality Hits the 19th Century White Ethnics

It was Lee Kwan Yew, long time prime minister of Singapore, that said:
In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.
Now that Hispanics and Asian-Americans are coming into political contention, people are in a panic because the emerging race-based politics will threaten the white majority.

But actually, isn't this old news? If you read about presidential politics down the years you will discover that in our lifetimes it has been about appealing to the Irish vote, or the Italian vote or the Catholic vote. And, of course there is no group more electorally unified than African Americans who have recently been voting 90 percent Democrat.

So yesterday we had the shattering news that a good old Irish pol, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), had been defeated in a Democratic primary by Puerto-Rican beauty and Bernie Bro-ess, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a district that is 40 percent Hispanic.

The chaps on the alt-right like to say that the US has been ruined ever since the original Anglo-Saxon posterity was irrigated with the Germans, the Irish, the Italians, and the Jews in the 19th century.

But that means that we have been doing Lee's race-religion politics here in the US for over a century. The Irish have been notably Democrat since whenever, because when they first came to the US they automatically voted against the party favored by descendants of England. And, of course, Protestant New England invented public education to cure the Irish of their Catholicism. Yeah, how did that work out, geniuses? The deep state has always been a couple of french fries short of a Happy Meal.

And that works for regions as well. Back in the day New England was Republican and the South was Democratic. Now the opposite is true.

But I'd say there is nothing like a few more Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez congresscritters to send the remainder of the 19th century immigration wave into the Republican Party of American nationalists.

Now Jonah Goldberg in his latest piece reminds us that politics can't fill the hole in our souls.
Humans crave what philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner called “re-enchantment creeds.” According to Gellner, modernity — i.e., the trinity of the scientific revolution, the Enlightenment, and the market economy — dissolved the old creeds that gave people a sense of meaning and belonging. When traditional religion gets chased out, we adopt other causes, movements, and ideas to fill the holes in our souls. Nationalism, socialism, psychoanalysis, neo-paganism, racism: These are all forms of re-enchantment creeds.
Hmm. I'm going to have to read Gellner. He's also anti-Wittgenstein, which will be interesting after reading a Wittgenstein biography. But.

What is see is that everyone these days, from left and right, says that my side is the rational, give-me-the-facts side, and the other side is all about feelings. And they are all wrong.

Remember Andrew Breitbart's "politics is downstream from culture?" Back in October, 2017, after John C. Wright, I revised and extended it: "Politics is downstream from culture is downstream from religion." Let's rewrite this amazing wisdom.
Facts are downstream from emotions which are downstream from unconscious instincts.
I am getting that from Jordan B. Peterson who got it from Jung who got it from the whole 19th century German intellectual ferment.

And the point that Peterson is making is that we see facts through a filter of values: facts are downstream of values. This means that when it comes to politics peoples' notions will be completely colored and probably determined by their values, and their personal values come from their cultural and religious memberships.

And anyone that says they believe in facts and the other guys believe in emotions is missing the point.

This is not to deny that science and Enlightenment and the market economy are vital. Hello Venezuela.

Now in the United States at this time we are witnessing a culture war between the left's religion and culture of identity politics and the right's culture of nation. There is no mystery about this. If you are a lefty you instinctively know that you must devalue and demoralize the old US culture of America as the land of the Free and the Brave, etc., if you want to bend the arc of history towards justice. Instead you want to put in its place the notion of numerous suffering groups that noble lefties will lead to the Promised Land over the bones of heteropatriarchal white men and the lamentation of their women.

But of course, this new culture and politics is putting the old 19th century ethnics, good old boys like Joe Crowley, on the spot. How much longer can they vote for the race-based identity politics party that is determined to put them on the ash-heap of history?

The whole point of nationalism is to create a fake tribe to compete with the other tribes, of race and religion.That is what President Trump is up to with his Make America Great Again meme. And he is consciously trying to tempt African Americans and Hispanics into his nationalist tribe. The immigration issue is a great way to do this because, studies show, once immigrants get their whole family here in the US then they become anti-immigration.

Put it this way. Under the recent cultural norms, various groups have been encouraged to rub the sores of their group grievances against the United States: racism, sexism, big business, corporate power, whatabout the workers. Politics must be this way, unifying some group against a threat. But two can play at that game. You can also unify people as Americans against the dangerous immigrants that want to feast on our entitlement benefits and take away our jobs.

Looking at things this way, you could ask: how come it took them so long? And how come that the 19th century white ethnics didn't all switch to the Republican Party a generation ago?

The answer is that it is not enough to see the writing on the wall. Most people need to have the writing on the wall flashing like a neon sign, to the accompaniment of a police siren.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Blame Activism Culture for "Red Hen" Expulsion

Everyone to the right of left-wing lunacy is talking about the expulsion of Trump Press Secretary Sarah Sanders from the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

And the first thing that comes up are the gay wedding-cake incidents, where gays deliberately targeted Christian bakeries to force them to make cakes for their weddings.

The good old Double Standard.

But you may be asking: Why? Why do liberals do this?

And my answer is: the Activism Culture, about which I write from time to time.

There are two events in my life that have crystallized the left-wing activism culture for me. The first was when a liberal friend told me that she had always wanted to get into activism. Wat? I thought. Why would a nice liberal woman with conventional liberal ideas think that? The second was when I read in The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi that after the workers got the vote in England they stopped marching. Why? Because now they were represented in the corridors of power.

Do you see the point here? It is that riot and revolution are the necessary tactics of those who are outside the system. In the mid-19th century, when Marx and Engels issued their Manifesto the workers, now coming into the cities for the first time, were not represented. This was a time of revolutions, marches, and disturbance. But 50 years later, the workers had the vote and the kind of legislation they wanted, a neo-feudal system of rigidly defined labor union rights, free education, and government-run administrative pensions and insurance had been legislated.

When in World War I the workers of Germany, and France, and Britain all fought for their countries, a basic faith of the activism left was exploded: the workers saw themselves as citizens first and workers second.

But leftism was and is a belief system on the holy quest of activism, activism by well-born activists in behalf of the disfranchised who are not represented by the political system. It is, of course, a battle of good against evil, and it makes perfect sense for a political class that has lost its Christian faith and the Christian enactment of the battle of good versus evil in every human heart.

The other thing to understand is this. The whole point of politics is to redirect the battle for justice from the streets and civil war to the election hustings. The point is that politicians, instead of leading their supporters in pitched battles on the street, now conduct their battles in Parliament, with the majority getting the right to tax the nation to deliver benefits to their supporters, instead of the military victors getting to loot and plunder the losers, as in olden times.

Thus I understand leftism and the activism culture as a constant search for new helpless victims outside the system for whom street action is the only option. And this was the genius of the Frankfurt School thinkers. It was they in the 1920s that realized that, with the working class now integrated into the political system, new clients for the well-born activist were needed, and this meant women and minorities.

Of course, by 1920 and the 19th Amendment the US already had universal franchise for men and women, and even minorities. But not exactly in the South. So the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s universalized the elimination of the Jim Crow system in the US South as a glorious liberation for all women and minorities.

But once women and minorities were brought into the system, what then? Well, the well-born activists had to find people who were still outside the system. By the 21st century, in the United States, this boiled down to Muslims and illegal immigrants.

So if you wonder why the left has its knickers in a twist over the unintended consequences of immigration law, in which the children of people applying for political asylum in the US become a custodial issue, understand that for them the whole point of life, the universe, and everything is to do activism for some disfranchised group outside the system. If ever there was no longer some group outside the system then life would lose its meaning for the activist believer.

Now, in my view the activism culture is problematic at several levels.

First, the basis of human life is no longer about access to a patch of food-growing land. When survival is dependent on your tribe's access to food-growing land then the bottom line is the military defense of that patch of land. In hunter-gather societies the entire male adult population is engaged in defense of the patch of land. But in feudal  agricultural societies the defense of territory tended to devolve upon "marcher lords" on the "marches" between one feudal regime and another. If you want to know what a marcher lord looks like, think Shakespeare's Harry Percy, son of the Duke of Northumberland. If you look at a map of Britain you will discover that Northumberland butts right up onto the border between England and Scotland. Today, we call the people that used to live in those borderlands "rednecks." They have a reputation for being quarrelsome and aggressive. But today human life is about finding a way to contribute to the economy by exchanging your skills and your labor for wages; or exchanging your savings for dividends and interest; or starting a new business to make something completely new. And this new world does not seem to need so many marcher lords and other high-status folk to make us safe.

Second, it seems that the market and its prices do a pretty good job of regulating the economy. In other words, it is not usually necessary for political power to step in and decide what to do. Indeed, the record of the last 150 years is that politicians and activists are clueless about the needs of the economy, and usually do more harm and good in their interventions. In other words, the price system tells people what to do and, more important, what not to do. When the price system is telling you what not to do and you fail to pay attention, it is usually very annoying and expensive. People get really angry when the market tells them they have made a mistake, and they often resort to force to register their objection. Businessmen get the government to protect them from competition with tariffs and licensing and regulations; workers go out on strike to object to "give-backs."

Thirdly, given the reduced need to defend the patch of land and the evident self-regulating nature of the market economy, there is now a much-reduced need for political and military power. We humans have barely begun to address this fact. In fact I would argue that in general, political and military power are today both highly damaging, because they are systems of rigidity; their whole rationale is to stop change. And yet the point of the market economy is that its prices are signalling for change every day, and everyone should be responding to the price signals of the economy, every day. Obviously this is a problem. All down the ages, political and military chiefs have been indispensable and have dominated society, and they have dominated it for a reason, because fixed political relationships and defense of the border were the absolute requirements of any society that hoped to survive. But now everything has changed, and what will the robin do now, poor thing.

Let me reiterate: all down the ages, the one thing was to have a patch of food-growing land for your tribe and to successfully defend it. Now, the one thing is to have a skill that can be exchanged in the global economy for money. This is, to coin a phrase, a Great Transformation. To expect that everyone would change in a moment to adapt to the new system is, to say the least, unrealistic.

And so the lefty reactionaries are running riot, utterly unable and unwilling to accept that their old faith and its superstitions are being thrown onto the dust-heap of history.

They also find it impossible to understand how their activism culture and its peaceful protests visit monstrous injustices upon Americans less well educated and less well connected than themselves.

So of course the well-born owner of the Red Hen thinks it right and proper to expel President Trump's press secretary from her restaurant, and then go across the street and "peacefully protest" when the Sander party went to eat at another restaurant. Activism and peaceful protest are her religion.

But, as they say, those that won't listen and learn will eventually learn "the hard way."

Monday, June 25, 2018

Things That Liberals Are Getting Wrong

In his Anatomy of Revolution Crane Brinton argues that the Reign of Terror episode in many revolutions arises because the revolution is failing.

Of course, this is not surprising. Revolutions tend to have an over-optimistic view of the wonders that will ensue when the revolution succeeds. It is terribly disappointing when the millennium fails to show up on cue. So it must be the evil people that are not down with the revolutionaries! À la lanterne, as my mother used to say. In jest.

The current cultural and political situation in the West is that much of the cultural and political agenda of the Left is failing.
  1. The Administrative State. The problem with all government programs is that it is almost impossible to reform them. That's because almost all government programs involve a subsidy of some behavior. And once a subsidy is in place, humans will fight to preserve that free stuff.  Plus, all government/administrative programs violate the principle of Ludwig von Mises, that socialism cannot work because it cannot compute prices.
  2. Attack on Bourgeois Culture. You can rail against the patriarchy, against heteronormality, against female modesty, against sex roles, against sexual freedom all you like. But the bourgeois culture of the nuclear family, children after marriage, women mothering their children, men with careers, has a lot going for it, not least that it is a pretty good blueprint for wiving and thriving in the city. But the worst thing is to make it hard for the immigrants to the city to learn the bourgeois code. Put it this way: bourgeois means burgher or city person. So bourgeois culture means city culture, the culture that grew up in cities over the centuries. You wanna  do well in the city? Learn the bourgeois code. When in Rome, etc.
  3. Equality under the Law. No doubt non-white non-male non-hetero people suffer under some disabilities. But any political culture that excuses its supporters from the application of the law, as the left proposes as a principle in, e.g., immigration, diversity and inclusion, sex on campus, the homeless, political protest, is experienced by its victims as injustice, straight up. The point of equality under the law is to rectify the problem that political partisans tend to excuse the excesses of their side, and that infuriates the opposition. So the law must apply equally to prince and pauper, otherwise there is no reason to obey the law.
  4. Conceding Elections. I remember reading Time, or maybe Newsweek, a decade or so ago in the month after a presidential election, and I think the Republican won. What struck me was that the liberal reporters of that era were writing stories about the peaceful transfer of power and what a wonderful thing that was. Well, the last two change elections where Republicans won were not conceded by the losers and their bribed apologists in the media, not the 2000 election, when Al Gore failed to concede and, even after the Supreme Court ruled for Bush, did not concede gracefully. Then there is Hillary Clinton in 2016, who started the whole post-election "we wus robbed" meme. Sorry, libs and Dems and deep staters. If you do one thing, and one thing only, you concede the election when you lose, and wish the winner well, and say "we are all Americans because we come back together after the divisions of the election campaign." This is important, because the whole point of the peaceful transfer of power, and the alternation of power between the major parties is that it removes the excuse for civil war. With the conceding of elections and the peaceful transfer of power you can say "wait until next time" and actually believe that there will be a next time. So you don't need to prepare for civil war, as must be the case in Venezuela right now.
It is said that President Obama said to Ben Rhodes shortly after the 2016 election:
“Maybe we pushed too far,” the president continued. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe...”

"Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said.
This demonstrates the fundamental contradiction at the center of the liberal and the lefty world view. First of all, these people think they are the avant-garde leading humans to a glorious future. Second, they do not understand that the path they have chosen is in fact a neo-tribalism. In other words, they actually believe that their identity politics, that defines and organizes everyone by their tribe, is leading us to a future without identity and tribe! And it demonstrates a fundamental self-ignorance. Do you not understand, President Obama, that your affirmative action, followed by diversity and inclusion, is experienced by people like me as racism, straight up? No, you don't. Because at the center of your belief system is that you and yours are the educated, evolved ones, and other people are the racist sexist homophobes, period.

See, Mr. Obama, people like me never doubted that America was ready for its First Black President. I was shocked when a liberal friend said to me in December 2016: isn't it wonderful we elected the first black president! I thought, but did not say: Racism! If anything Obama's election was the gate to liberation from the vile accusation of racism, to be able to say: OK, we elected a black president; now let us stop the divisive and destructive identity politics that has poisoned the culture for the last 50 years. But no. What we learned, after you got elected, was that this was just the beginning. Echoing George Wallace, you and your chaps were saying: Diversity today, diversity tomorrow, diversity forever.

Oh, and by the way, it's one thing for a vile bigoted Christian baker to decline a custom commission to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but quite another for a highly evolved cousin of Meryl Streep to decline service to the woman press secretary of President Trump. How does that work, Mr. President?

The one saving truth of left-wing politics is that the recent immigrant to the city is not yet ready for full immersion in bourgeois culture and it is unjust to chuck them in at the deep end. So it makes sense to provide neo-feudal institutions like the labor union and government insurance to provide safe spaces for people not yet ready to take the bourgeois oath of surrender to the market.

The trouble is that the understandable temporary notion of providing a refuge from the bourgeois responsibility culture has become a war against the bourgeois culture, and the educated, evolved ruling class everywhere teaches children and adults to resist it.

This war on the middle class culture of responsibility is worse than a crime, it is a blunder.

Friday, June 22, 2018

At Jordan Peterson's Road Show

Last night, June 21, 2018, I was to Jordan B. Peterson's road show, publicizing his 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. Every seat at Seattle's Moore Theater was taken.

Of course, it's ridiculous to suppose that you will learn anything from such an event. Read the book, kid.

On the other hand, in the format of a 70 minute monologue, an author is bound to try and reduce his ideas to their foundation. And Peterson was clearly focused on that, the fundamental point he is trying to make, since he was scheduled to debate on the morrow with atheist Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith.

Peterson's fundamental point is that we see facts through a lens or a matrix of value. In other words, if you are a Thomas Gradgrind from Dickens' Hard Times and you say you believe in "facts, facts, facts," you are deceiving yourself. Whatever you think, you start out in the morning with a Theory of Everything, a story about what the world means, what your life means, and you look at facts in the light of the meaning you make of the world.

An example of this would be the media frenzy about The Children in last week. From the point of view of facts, facts, facts, what does it matter that children of illegal aliens are being separated from their parents at the border of the United States? What do we care?

But we do care. The fact is that we humans do not look upon children as facts. We see them through the filter of our beliefs about children. In other words: first comes the value, the story about children, then comes the fact.

It is Jordan Peterson's contention that religion issues from this "fact" about human life. If we humans all view life through the lens of our values then the values we hold and express are the most important thing in the world. You may say that religion is the story about value by humans, the social animals.

If you think about it, it must be so. It is true that we moderns have accumulated an astonishing trove of facts about the world. Only they are not facts; they are theories that have an astonishing ability to predict sense impressions. And what exactly are theories? I would say they are the way we make a connection between Kant's unobservable things-in-themselves and our sense impressions of those things-in-themselves.

But humans lived long before we had developed sophisticated theories about a solar-centric universe and curved space and quantum mechanics.

Whatever our human fund of knowledge at any point in time, we must live our lives with what we have. So the ancients had spirits in trees, the Elizabethans had nine circles of Heaven and nine circles of Hell. And we have... Yes, what do we have?

Enter my reductive Three Peoples theory. If you are a Person of the Subordinate Self your religion is the religion of Homer's Iliad. The gods decide everything, just like your local lord decides everything. There is really no occasion for agency, because you are not an agent; you do not have the right or the power to decide anything about yourself. Agency belongs to your lord.

Enter the People of the Responsible Self and the Axial Age religions from Zoroastrianism to Hinduism, to Judaism to Christianity to Islam. The whole point of these religions was expressed by a minister during the Great Awakening in the 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.”
Notice how, for our lefty friends, it is a damning sin to expect agency from their catalog of victims.

Here's another quote, from Robert Bellah:
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
In my Three Peoples lingo, these Axial Age religions address the existential issues that people experience when they are moving from being People of the Subordinate Self to becoming People of the Responsible Self. They construct a story, a matrix of values, to make sense of life as you leave behind your subordinate life and put on the armor of responsibility.

But what we are interested in is the transition, the existential issues, that people face when they are moving from being People of the Responsible Self to People of the Creative Self. Because if the Axial Age religions arose to respond to the existential issues of people at the Subordinate-Responsible boundary then it stands to reason that there must be religions that respond to people at the Responsible-Creative boundary.

It is my contention that everything from Romanticism to the Young Hegelians, to Marx, to the Fabian Society to feminism to art for art's sake to the activism culture to the startup culture in business to the recent explosion in getting creative about sex are all attempts to navigate the Responsible-Creative transition, to ask the question: What does it mean to live a creative life?  Through what filter of values, with what story should I experience and understand the world?

And I believe that Jordan Peterson's books are another attempt to do that, to illuminate a path for navigation from the world of Responsibility to the world of Creativity.

Up to now, I would say, the most militant of these new religions has been the religion of leftism. It sees the facts of the case through a value filter of bending the arc of history towards justice through politics. If you want to make sense of your lefty friends that is it.

However, I believe that the left's sacralizing of politics is a monstrous error. You are never going to bend the arc of history towards justice using politics. That is because politics and government are not saving truths showing the way to the Promised Land, but necessary evils to keep the peace in this Fallen World. I symbolize this truth with my maxim "there is no such thing as justice, only injustice."

Peterson is proposing a different road to the Promised Land, through the agency of the sacrificial hero, an archetype that appears again and again in the history of humans and our religions. The sacrificial hero creatively explores on the boundary between order, the realm of the known, and chaos, the lawless world without the law. Yes, and the sacrificial hero usually sacrifices himself so that we might live.

In my view Jordan Peterson fully understands that he is a sacrificial hero. At his road show in Seattle on June 21 he said that the last two years have been terrifying, for he knows that a single wrong word could immolate him in some Twitter inferno and end his public life.

So what is Jordan Peterson saying? He is setting forth the parameters for a religion, a filter of value through which to view the world, that appropriates all the astonishing increase in understanding about the world in the last centuries and that provides meaning for a person trying to live a creative life, a creative life that does not bow to the false god of politics.

And so it is unsurprising that the audience at the sold-out Moore Theater on June 21 were... Well, the only thing for sure is that the were not liberals, or anything else from lefty world. They were not white working class, but many of them could be Trump voters. And I would say they were overwhelmingly 30-40ish.

I believe that Peterson is bringing to the Anglo-Saxon world the results of the German turn. I mean everything from Kant's dictum that we cannot know things-in-themselves and therefore no objective knowledge, Hegel's philosophy of contrast and opposites, naughty Nietzsche's they-are-all-liars effusions, to Jung's reconnection with ancient myth and the notion that our faith and our pride in our conscious mind is negated by the truth that we have almost no idea what is going on in our unconscious mind, that tumbling river of instincts and lost world of archetypes.

It's not a bad idea: construct a religion of lordly tolerance, allowing to the ancestors the dignity of knowing the truth by their own lights rather than stigmatizing their faith as superstition, while maintaining a radical openness to the future as a creative project, an exploration of the border between order and chaos.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What Legal Rights are You Willing to Give Your Political Opponents?

In my American Thinker piece this week I raised the issue of Double Standards. Poor little diddums Hillary Clinton was given every allowance in an FBI investigation of her illegal email server. Donald Trump was hunted down by FISA Court warrants and a Special Prosecutor.

And you will search among liberal commentators a long while before you see a liberal that writes that this is a problem.

So this week, after the release of the IG report, there are a lot of conservatives writing that unless the government observes some sort of equality under the law, for liberal princess as well as for deplorable pauper, we are heading for the cliff. The Zman:
It does not matter what form of government is in place, the rulers, for example, have to maintain public order. Being the tribal chief is useless if your people and lands are in chaos. For that matter, having a tribal chief is useless if it means living in chaos. Therefore, one of the primary duties of all rulers in all times and all places is to maintain public order by enforcing laws and local customs.
Then there is Laura Hollis writing about "The Real Message Behind the Inspector General's Report."
The risk here is not that Americans will become disillusioned if some rogue FBI or DOJ or IRS agents are penalized for being bad actors or partisan frauds; the risk is that Americans will become disillusioned when they aren’t. Once a critical mass of people no longer believes in the basic integrity of the legal system, the doors are opened to widespread corruption. Power, not decency, becomes the objective.
When that happens, you’ve lost the rule of law. And when you’ve lost the rule of law, you’ve lost America.
 I don't think that our liberal friends have a clue about this right now. That's because they have all been taught that "activism" is the meaning of life, the universe and everything. They are utterly clueless that for millions of people the current political correctness reign of terror and virtue means that any careless word could lose them their job, or worse.

And do you know? People really care about that.

It's fine for liberals to string Trumpists up on the lanterns because the Trumpist microaggressed a woman or minority hardest hit -- and no safe space had been provided -- or a little child is in tears. But what happens if it's a liberal? What would liberals say if that DOJ employee and member of the Democratic Socialists of America that joined the mob harassing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson got fired? Hey! All she was doing was "peacefully protesting!" OK fine. So what do you call this political action? A mini-microaggression that doesn't rise to the level of genuine microaggression because the DOJ employee  in question is a woman? But wait! The target of the protest was a woman! What about her safe space?

I just think that liberals have no idea the deep waters they are getting into. And the solution is so simple. Merely read, learn, and inwardly digest the following maxim.
There is no such thing as justice. Only Injustice.
As I keep saying, we are in the middle of a rerun of the Sixties when lefties thought that had died and gone to liberal heaven in the dawning of a new truly just world order.

Only the average working stiff in America hated it. Because the average working stiff just wanted a job, a car, a family, and a house.

And he and she still do.

Because, see above, the basic job of any ruler being to keep order. And that means a rough and ready policy to apply the law equally. Even equally-ish will usually do.

But our liberal friends believe in the saving grace of political power. Because if your objective is just then a few broken eggs don't amount to much in respect of the arc of history.

Nevertheless, liberals. Just what legal rights are you willing to concede to the evil racist sexist homophobe deplorables?

The world wants to know.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dealing with Activism's Affect of the Week

So this week the "Affect of the Week" is the separation of migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border. And the mainstream media  unison chorus is all singing the same tune about the cruel Trump. Auschwitz! Nazis!

Will this be the issue that determines the midterms? Will it be a one-week wonder? Or is this just a cynical effort of the deep state to take the news off the IG report on the Clinton email "matter?"

I return as always to the century-old words of German sociologist Georg Simmel who observed that, with women coming into the public sphere, things were going to change.
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."
But what would that mean? I think it is pretty obvious. But let us get our fact straight.

First of all, the way the world works is by "affect." This, we might define as the eruption into "consciousness" of subconscious instincts. It is the way that mammals live, responding to danger and threat through the emotions of fear and anger. We notice that our domestic pets, particularly dogs, are clearly driven by this "affect." So it ain't just us humans.

However, humans also do a bang-up job of filling out our knowledge of the world with magnificent theories of everything. Right now we have fun theories about evolution and the Big Bang that take our rational knowledge and extend it "all the way down."

Just now I am reading a book The Elizabethan World Picture by E.M.W. Tillyard that I picked up at the HalfPrice Books warehouse sale. Yep, in that Elizabethan world there are nine spheres of heaven, populated by Forms, Seraphims, Angels, Archangels etc. And also, for balance, nine spheres of Hell, with Satan, Mammon and the like. But why not? The Elizabethans didn't have all our science to make sense of sun, moons, fixed stars and all. Newton hadn't shown up yet. To say nothing of Einstein and Heisenberg. So they made it up. Just like we make up the Big Bang by extending our theories to the limit and beyond. It's great fun on winter evenings.

Notice how the Elizabethans smuggled in Good and Evil into their picture of the world, what you might call, if you were the local deep-state Pooh Bah, merely "corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." Without corroborative detail, what's the point of narrative?

Of course it is not just the priestly and philosophic class that spin pretty stories for our amusement with lots of "affect" thrown in for corroborative detail. Politicians and activists do it too.

Want to see a real master at that? Just watch President Trump's Down the Escalator speech of three years ago.

Want to know what the Parkland thing was all about? And now the Kids in Cages thing? It is liberal political activists ginning up events full of affect, complete with "orroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."

When you want to grab men by the guts you need to stage an event showing existential danger that will prompt them to rush to get their weapons (or their boats in the case of the Cajun Navy).

But when you want to grab women by the guts you stage a show with crying children. It triggers the fundamental instinct of women, which is to keep their kids alive and care for them.

This is why I profoundly disagree with all conservatives and deplorables that write about how "we" are rational and "they" are emotional.

OK, we all have rational knowledge, science, systems of ethics, etc. But when we live moment to moment we are flying along as unconcerned as a seagull until something brings us up short and triggers an "affective" response.

What do you think President Trump is doing when he ventures forth on Twitter? He is trying to tug the affect of his deplorable supporters in the ordinary middle class. But Democrats are playing a different game. They are appealing to the women and minorities hardest hit, of which we've heard tell.

When you hear your liberal woman friend saying that she had always wanted to "get into activism" you are touching the edge of the culture that produces the Kids in Cages affective moments. These nice young urban hipsters know that you don't win in politics by a rational discussion of the issues. You win by winning the game of affect, and that game requires a narrative with heart-tugging affect.

Conservatives and Republicans, up to now, were not very good at this. Because we think of politics as a necessary evil. Here is a chap attacking Jordan Peterson for saying that "thinking is overrated." Says Peterson:
When existence reveals itself as existentially intolerable, thinking collapses in on itself…it’s noticing, not thinking, that does the trick.
And that, says the critic, is all wrong.

But Peterson is right. It is indeed noticing that rules the world. You are on a walk in the woods and you want your wife to see a bird sitting in a tree. She won't see anything until the bird moves. It is the bird's movement that allows her to notice it. That is how the world works. Nothing exists for us until it moves. Then we notice it, and then our affect chimes in to prompt us to react to it.

Nobody paid a blind bit of attention to Kids in Cages until the activists brought it up on the TV news. Then everyone "noticed."

Of course, the question for us deplorables is whether the politics of "Affect of the Week" is a winning strategy. Parkland last month, Kids in Cages this week. Something Else next month. And the purpose is the same as the car crashes and disasters shown every night on local news. To get the eyeballs of women.

It seems to me that the name of the game is to get our theory of everything to be the normal World Picture for people in our society, including, especially, women. Then the affective response to the Affect of the Week will be more in tune with what we believe than the current situation where every child is taught liberal the World Picture in government child-custodial facilities from K thru graduate school.

It is important to get into the minds of women, partly because of Georg Simmel above, and partly because there are more Good Little Girls in the world than Good Little Boys. Which is to say that women are more easily manipulated by the culture than men: sugar and spice rather than snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.

But you can see that the only way we get our theory of everything a chance is to nuke the current school system, K thru graduate school. And that is a tall order.

Hey, I know. Let's publicize the notion, with sobbing girls every week on TV, that no kid is safe in a government school. Because bullying.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Wages of Politics

I like to characterize politics as the art of division. That's a bit naughty of me, because when you turn to the philosophers they say that politics is either noble or necessary. For instance, Aristotle, according to La Wik, believed that, over the family and the village,
The highest form of community is the polis. Aristotle comes to this conclusion because he believes the public life is far more virtuous than the private and because men are "political animals."
And then there is Plato with his Republic, proposing a Callipolis, the state ruled by the philosophers who educate their subjects into the right channels.

But I would say that these guys are missing the point. The need for politics arises instead after the local lord has become the war lord and successfully beaten off the invaders.

Put it this way. The warrior lord has rallied all the local warriors to his standard, has cooled their competitive ardor for a season, and has led them to victory over the deadly enemy. Now what?

The point is that after the war the tribe/polis/nation or whatever does not now need the super-unifying leadership required to win the war. On the other hand there is the danger that all the lordly warriors that rallied to the standard may now have ambitions of their own -- see Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays.

And politics now becomes a division no longer between us, the local tribe, and the foreign enemy, but now because a game of division between all the heads of power within the tribe/polis/nation. That is really what Aristotle's Politics and Plato's Republic are all about: trying to civilize these rough types and teach them virtue.

And Aristotle and Plato had the notion of designing a system to encourage virtue or educate ordinary people to become good citizens.

Then we come down to the early modern era of Hobbs, Locke, Montesquieu where the separation of powers notion is developed. Here we acknowledge that humans are bad, and need to be diverted into safe channels in their quarrels so that the pride and rage of ambitious men does not erupt into civil war.

In other words, for the early moderns, political institutions were intended to keep politics down to a low roar rather than a volcanic eruption.

Then we have the left, where politics becomes a saving faith. We see that in the French Revolution which turned Notre Dame into a Temple of Reason. And we see it in Marx where revolution is to defeat the rising bourgeoisie with the proletariat before it is too late. And good little girls today in the university are being taught that the highest form of life is to become an "activist."

In other words, for today's left, politics is civil war by other means.

But look up to the top of this piece where I said that politics arises after the warrior lord has won the victory against the barbarians at the gate. What do we humans do when the moment for absolute unity has passed?

Notice that in the United States it has been routine for the general of the armed forces in the late war to become president: Washington, Grant, Eisenhower.

May I say that it is another proof of God's existence that we had as president such good men that they did not use their war-hero status to create cults of personality and subject the US to their will, but instead ruled as benevolent monarchs for a season and then left office. Why did we deserve such noble creatures as our presidents?

And both Grant and Eisenhower came from humble beginnings. Grant's father was a tanner, and Eisenhower's father worked in a creamery. No aristocratic virtue and noblesse oblige there.

Now, it seems to me that politics arises after satisfying the need to have a strong military to defend the patch of land against the neighboring tribe, or the barbarians, or the neighbor nation state. Because everything came down to defending our food-growing land. What to do between wars of defense against the raiders? Enter politics.

On this view ancient politics is based on the need to preserve unity for the next war. The need is to keep ambitious men from wrecking the commonwealth with their destructive competition so that the nation can come together the next time it is threatened.

Notice how leftist politics turns this on its head. The problem of invasion is assumed away, because we are all members of the human race, and war never solved anything. Strictly speaking, this means no need for politics. No war, no military, no warrior chief, no warrior class, no need to keep the warriors from each others' throats in the peace. Instead leftist politics becomes a civil war within the political boundaries of the state between class, race, or gender rivals. And, in particular it becomes a war for justice for people unjustly kept outside the gate of the political community.

My point is that if you assume away the original need for the larger community and the need for unity against external threats, then the next thing is you start settling scores within the community. You can afford to do that because war never solved anything, therefore no war.

But here is what I consider the astonishing fact of the modern era. The new middle class, that Marx assumed would be bidding to take its place atop the heap as the feudal lords did in olden times, was not that interested in power.

Thus "activism" politics. The commercial middle class is not that interested in power, so if the activists present some helpless victims for inspection by the media, the middle class will probably act to redress their grievances.

But if this is true, then we really don't need activism politics. All grievances will eventually get reviewed and addressed. Because the middle class is basically good-natured. Because the bourgeoisie is not that interested in power.

This is not because the middle class is unusually virtuous, but because the nature of the modern market economy is that you trust anyone that presents themselves as trustable. Life is no longer a question of defending your patch of food-growing land from the neighbor. Now everyone is producing and trading and consuming. And the more people contributing to the market economy, in whatever way they can imagine, the better.

And what, in retrospect, is the point of winning a world war? After World War I the western allies were determined to teach Germany a lesson, and the result was Hitler and World War II. After World War II, it took a couple years for the western winners to decide that a Germany reduced to indigence did nobody any good, because it cost the allies a bundle to feed the Germans. So the Germans were allowed to rebuild their economy from the rubble, and their Wirtschaftwunder commenced.

This is astonishing. It means the complete annihilation of the old culture of loot and plunder: loot or be looted. Instead of your patch of land being the foundation of your wealth, and your neighbor a challenge to your well-being, it is the more the merrier.

It is my belief that this new economic reality is the most astonishing thing in the entire history of mankind, and we have not even begun to consider that the world has utterly changed, and what to do about it.

And the political question is at the heart of it. For if politics is not needed any longer to keep the elite barons from each others' throats during the peace, and there is no need for an activism politics to force justice upon a greedy and bigoted bourgeoisie, then what price politics?

Stay tuned, because we haven't even begun to deal with this astonishing new age and its consequences.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Wages of Women in Leadership

I am coming to the conclusion that there is a certain kind of human that does not belong in a hierarchical administrative system, and certainly not at the top.

I am talking about woman.

Yes, yes, women can do everything that men can do. Not. But this last weekend there has been a cascade of news about women in hierarchies that don't have a clue.

Yes. I know that men are mostly clueless, but the difference is that nobody is making excuses for them, not at least if they are white males. So we are supposed to believe that dear little Hillary didn't understand the mansplaining meaning of a (C) in a government document. But Trump is supposed to know exactly what all his minions are doing, otherwise it's Russian collusion all the way down.

So here are a few examples of female cluelessness. From Powerline, a hospital director at Harvard Medical School is worried about stuff that "might upset women and minorities who are training to become doctors." So,
Dr. Nabel has removed 31 portraits of former department chairmen from the hospital’s Bornstein amphitheater because they are all men and all but one of them are white.
Ya know, I would say that in a major teaching hospital there are 20,000 problems in need of executive action before the vital and important job of moving the pictures around. So this is what female leadership reduces to? Redecorating? Indeed, the dissent of an Iran-born doctor suggests that Dr. Nabel and her "posse" seem suspiciously like your average Mean Girls clique in high school.

Then there is the woman President Deborah MacLatchy of Canada's Wilfred Laurier University. Her faculty sanctioned Lindsay Shepherd, a graduate student and teaching assistant, who showed a video of Jordan Peterson in debate with a liberal about gender pronouns. Not for expressing a heretical opinion: just for showing the video. In her suit against the university Shepherd cites chapter and verse of how the faculty harassing her for the thought crime of actually showing a video were violating all the university's bureaucratic rules against harassment, but nothing was done. Does this woman president -- that was finally shamed into disapproving of the harassing actions of her underlings but has since done nothing to fix the problem -- not understand that one of the jobs of any executive leader is to lay down the law to her subordinates pour encourager les autres?

But here's the loveliest one of all. Remember that collision between a US Navy destroyer and a container ship in June 2017? Guess what: the "officer of the deck" (OOD) and the "Tactical Action Officer" in charge of "monitoring the combat radar" were both women.
The OOD was named Sarah, and the Tactical Action Officer was named Natalie, and they weren’t speaking to each other!!!
OMG! Like, I Can't Believe They Would Do That!

And they didn't communicate at all on the watch leading up to the collision with the Philippine container ship.

Of course this all precipitates out of the basic difference between men and women. Men are organized to fight for the survival of the tribe on the border. Women are designed to fight for the survival of their children until puberty.

That means that the male strategic mind is thinking about what vital fact about the war plans of the neighboring tribe am I not paying attention to? And the female strategic mind is thinking about what food or dangerous shrub might be threatening the life of my child.

That is why when you walk around Green Lake in North Seattle you hear the men talking about tactical issues at work and the women talking about the health care issues of their friends.

Men naturally self-organize into quasi-military hierarchies, because that is the way not to get killed in the next dawn raid. Women naturally organize into gossip networks because village harmony depends on a consensus of who said/did what to whom and who is to blame.

Again, from James Bowman's Honor: A History, there is a fundamental difference between male honor and female honor. Male honor is about guarding the reputation for courage; female honor is about guarding the reputation for chastity. Notice the profound difference. For men, it does not matter whether you are right or wrong, but whether you stood in line with your brother soldiers. For women it does not matter whether you stand together, but that you were "right" or "innocent." Thus the universal female complaint: "I can't believe she said/did that."

Now, in my view, taken from Rodney Stark, the original human "informal social control" is epitomized by the female village gossip network. But that didn't work when humans moved from villages to cities and the first stirrings  of the market economy where anonymity started to rear its ugly head. So "formal social control" is all about hierarchical armies and state bureaucracies based in cities. And trials with formal rules about evidence/gossip. Oh and church bureaucracies.--

I wonder if women are really cut out for formal social control. Unless you are Margaret Thatcher with the will to completely reinvent yourself as an Iron Lady.

By the way, the whole culture of microaggessions and safe spaces is a girl thing. The whole point of being a man is to be impervious to minor insults, and not to need a place to hide. Because male honor and the reputation for courage among your male warrior pals. I mean: what kind of a man can't take a insult without collapsing into tears? And what kind of a man needs to hide away from his enemies unless on a modern lethal battlefield?

But I am optimistic. My whole existential worry about the world is that it is impossible to reform any government program, so nothing changes until the whole thing collapses from failing to adapt to changing circumstances.

But with women getting to be top managers of big bureaucratic organizations from schools to hospitals to universities we can expect an increased failure to adapt, because of an inborn inability in women to succeed in a "formal social control" environment. This means that our current bureaucratic monstrosities in health care and education are heading for the cliff earlier than we would expect if ordinary dull men were in charge.

Put it this way. Charles Dickens represents your average male bureaucrat as a "Barnacle" or a "Stiltstocking." Clearly such names just do not connect with women. But what names would be appropriate?

That is the question for today. And I have to admit that I don't have a clue.

Friday, June 15, 2018

So. The FBI is Just Another Dysfunctional Bureaucracy

I have to admit that when I read Charles Dickens' account of the government's Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit I understood completely that many of the employees at that excellent government office would be Barnacles. Of course. The average bureaucrat will hang on like living death to his job and his pension. But I was not so sure about the other race of bureaucrats circumlocuting themselves about their bureaucratic offices: the Stiltstockings. What exactly did Dickens mean by that?

Today, thanks to the FBI and the Inspector General report on the FBI's handling of the Clinton Email Matter, I now understand. A Stiltstocking is the kind of person that would text the following.
Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support . . . 
The Stiltstockings are utterly unremarkable bureaucratic worms that think they are a cut above.  But they are not. They are Barnacles with attitude, bumbling idiots doing nothing in particular except sending each other memos and texts while banking their government checks every month.

And they are living proof of the law of bureaucracy, which progressively does less and less as the years pass until it is just working to ensure its survival and continuance. As Kimberly Strassel writes of the FBI:
A neutral arbiter has found they made a hash of the Clinton investigation, and it is reasonable to assume that those same players made a hash of the Trump probe.
 Of course the FBIers made a hash of things. That is what long-established bureaucracies do. They stumble and bumble around pretending to do serious work. But serious work means taking serious action, and serious action is dangerous: someone powerful might take exception to a serious action, and then what would happen to the Barnacle's job and pension?

Actually, you can't really fault the FBI Barnacles and Stiltstockings too much. What do you expect, given the clear message from the top during the Obama administration that the fix was in? On everything.

If Hillary Clinton had half a brain she would never have set up a private email server. Because suppose the Russkies found out about it; suppose its existence became public, etc.? What is the point of being Secretary of State if the Russkies are reading your emails before you do. If President Obama had half a brain he would have insisted: No Private Email Server in my administration, not no how. If Hillary Clinton had an ounce of honor she would have backed out of the presidential race when her private email server became public knowledge in 2015, because she would have understood what a huge liability such a scandal would be going into the election. Then she wouldn't have needed a weenie like James Comey to kick dust all over the FBI's pro-forma investigation of her private email server and "exonerate" her. Then the angry rank-and-file FBI agents wouldn't have stampeded James Comey into reopening the private email investigation just days before the election.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is right. Did the FBI investigate Clinton's private email server? "Of course not." So therefore:
At the end of the day, the actions reviewed in this report helped Donald Trump win the election, not the other way around.
Right Chuck. So the right thing for Democrats to do would have been to insist that the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton follow the law and not try to stonewall and make excuses for an act -- transmitting classified material over an unsecured email system -- that would have put anyone else in jail.

It's like the House Bank Scandal of 1992. Your average smelly Walmart shopper may not understand high politics, but they do understand about Congresscritters bouncing checks without penalty.

Only you chaps aren't that smart, and aren't that honest, and generally you chaps can get away with it, because mainstream media.

Yeah. Mainstream media. You guys would be doing your side a real favor if you insisted on your side playing by the rules, and shaming it when it doesn't. If you had then your chap would likely be in the White House today instead of Donald Trump.

As usual, Shakespeare Scott has the last word:
Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.
But look on the bright side. The intelligence community tried to wrong-foot Candidate Trump by colluding with the Clinton campaign to convert ordinary oppo. research into a government intelligence product and failed. The FBI tried to whitewash Hillary Clinton on the private email server and failed. Probably the Mueller investigation is going to fail as well.

Thank goodness all these Barnacles and Stiltstockings at the Circumlocution Office are all idiots. Otherwise this country would be in a world of hurt.

So back to the real question. Is Trump an idiot?

Probably, the answer is Yes. But not as much of an idiot as his political opponents and their bribed apologists in the Circumlocution Office and the media.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

About That Inscrutable Chinese World Domination

Everybody is worried that the Chinese are going to take over the world. They are beating us hollow by making cheap knockoffs to sell in WalMart and they are stealing all our IP (intellectual property).

All true. And, of course they are also building a global transportation network in their Belt and Road initiative, and they are meddling in Africa.

In other words, China is copying the United States, the current global hegemon. Back in the day, the US had a high tariff policy to encourage local industry against those perfidious Brits. And the Brits, at least around 1800, had all kinds of laws to prevent textile industry technology, which they realized was the basis of their world power, from heading across the Channel or across the Atlantic.

And they may be right. Maybe the future is in a replication of the US ascendancy; maybe the future is in selling cheap manufactures to the US; maybe the future is in the exploitation of current intellectual inventions; maybe the future is in a transportation and trading network organized on the old tributary system of imperial China.

But I start from the position that people in politics are all idiots. I mean: what kind of idiots would have a war in Europe, twice in a century, that killed off the flower of its youth, not to mention liquidate the kulaks, the best farmers in Russia, and decimate the Jews, the smartest kids on the block? What kind of idiots would inflate their currencies so that today's dollars and pounds and whatnot are worth about 5% of their value in 1900? What kind of idiots would mew up 30-40 percent of national income in unaffordable middle-class entitlements?

My point is this. The story of the Miracle of the last 300 years, or if you prefer the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years, is that nobody saw it coming. The key to understanding it, in my view, is successive waves of innovation by nobodies that the political elite was too stupid, or too late, to kill in their cradles: textiles, railways, electricity, oil, personal transportation, better living through quantum mechanics, IT.

Now. Do you think that a bunch of Chinese politicians and their hangers-on and their tame scientists have a clue what is coming down the pike, what staggering innovations are about to spring on us? If you do, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Look. I've been a computer guy all my working life. But do you think that I had a clue that today I would have a smartphone sitting beside me here that cost $129 with 16 Gb of memory, with an amazing camera, with all my music on a 64 gig micro card? When I was programming with punch-cards on a 16k IBM-1130 computer I assure you that I had no idea, no idea at all, what was coming.

By the way, do you know what the difference between 16 Gb and 16 Kb is? It is 9 orders of magnitude. In other words, my personal $129 smartphone has not 10 times or 100 times but 1,000,000,000 times more memory that the office $30,000 minicomputer of 1970.

My whole view is that we have entered an era, as Nietzsche says, of the transvaluation of all values. The old tribal culture of defending your patch of food-growing land is over. Because food-growing land doesn't matter any more. What matters are the crazy ideas in the heads of crazy kids and entrepreneurs.

Notice that China is still going down the old path, thinking that the key to the future is to control your trading network, control your people with a political hegemony, to take advantage of your trading partners, to steal other peoples' ideas.

Maybe they are right. But I doubt it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bond Bears Start to Worry

A couple of days ago the Wall Street Journal started to worry about the "inverted" yield curve. Go take a look.

What they are saying is that the recent interest rate increases have brought the 2-year Treasuries close to the 10-year Treasuries. Oh no!

So what is the current Treasury yield curve? I am glad you asked, because I am setting it up on my usgovernmentspending.com site.



This is called a "normal" yield curve. As you can see, the interest rate on a 1M -- or one month -- Treasury bill is less than, e.g., a 1Y -- or one year -- Treasury bill. In fact every longer maturity Treasury security has an interest rate higher than all the securities with a shorter maturity.

So everything looks fine. In that case what are the WSJ boys whining about? They are whining about this, the yield curve from late in 2006, at the very end of the 2000s expansion before the Great Crash of 2008.



That, my friends, is what an"inverted" yield curve looks like. In this case the short-term Treasury securities are yielding over 5 percent and the medium and long-term securities are yielding about 4.6 percent.

Why is this a problem? It is a problem because the business that almost all financial institutions are playing, banks especially, is to borrow short (i.e. checking accounts where depositors can remove money immediately) and to lend long (i.e., everything from car loans business loans to home mortgage loans).

When banks are borrowing at 5 percent and lending at 4.5 percent, then they are losing money. The result is a financial crisis.

Obviously we are not there yet, and the yield curve is still normal. But. The Federal Reserve is expected to be raising interest rates three or four times this year. That would bring short term rates from 2 percent to 3 percent. No doubt long-term rates would increase too.

The question is, how many interest rate hikes would it take before the short-term rates start to get bigger than the long-term rates.

That is the question.

But what do you care, if you have a mortgage already? You care because if you have to sell your home, the guy buying it will have to pay a much higher interest rate on his mortgage. And that will tend to lower the price that he can bid for your house.

For those of you with a yen for history, the current situation is similar to the late 1920s. President Coolidge, in association with his Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, lowered income tax rates again and again. It set off an amazing boom. In due course, of course, the Fed raised interest rates, and at some point, the stock market started retreating. Then the market crashed. And the political hacks at the Federal Reserve hesitated to act as lender of last resort when banks started failing.

Fast forward to 2008. In September 2008 Gentle Ben Bernanke hesitated to bail out Lehman Brothers. Then the Dow Jones Industrials started losing 500 points per day, every day.

I  wonder if current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has the necessary cojones.

Just saying.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Seattle Liberals Meet Reality on Head Tax

All of you racist sexist homophobes that have been sneering at Seattle's head-tax-to-feed-the-homeless just had your wish.

Our tender-hearted super-woke super-activist City Council has decided to have an emergency session to repeal the tax. I guess that when over 40,000 people (in a city of 700,000) signed a petition for a referendum to repeal the tax the politicians finally got their necessary rendezvous with reality.

I coulda told them two weeks ago when I was signing the petition outside a Fred Meyer store in northwest Seattle. I was surprised by the ordinary people coming up to sign the petition, like the 30-ish woman saying "my dad has his own business." Who knew that there was anyone in Seattle that wasn't a fully woke good little liberal girl that had learned her racism-sexism-homophobia studies classes well at her $60,000 a year super-woke college?

How could this have happened? How could the Seattle ruling class so completely have misunderstood what is going on? I will tell you.

You can understand the whole thing from my maxim: "There is no such thing as justice, only injustice."

Of course, the homelessness crisis is nothing new. It tends to happen in the wake of any generational credit crash. After the Crash of 1929 there were Hoovervilles. After the big recession of 1980-81 our liberal friends loved to blame President Reagan for the homeless crisis. And now, unsurprisingly, we have a ton of people cast adrift by the Great Recession that began in the Crash of 2008.

Hey ruling class! Stop mucking about with the credit system!

But then, of course, in the aftermath of the crash, we have to Do Something to help the victims of the recession. It matters not, of course, that almost all crashes are due to government incompetence in running the credit system in the three centuries since the Dutch invented central banking.

The problem is this. Right now, the government in Seattle allows the homeless to break the law by camping under bridges and living in campers and motor homes on public streets. And it allows them to leave garbage around.

This is unjust. The City of Seattle does not allow me to camp on the streets or to leave trash out on the sidewalk. Oh no. The Trash Nazis and the #WeBelieve ladies will see to that!

Why on Earth doesn't the city government arrest the homeless and send them on their way? I'm glad you asked. It's because the courts and the federal government have decided that the homeless have rights. Wrote the Obama Justice Department:
When adequate shelter space exists, individuals have a choice about whether or not to sleep in public. However, when adequate shelter space does not exist, there is no meaningful distinction between the status of being homeless and the conduct of sleeping in public. Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity — i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.
So there. And so the government of Seattle determined that some businesses in Seattle should be forced to pay for the costs of letting the homeless have their rights.

This is unjust. It means that some people are going to be forced to help the homeless while other people get off scot-free.

And thus the whirligig of liberalism brings in xir revenges.

Here is my idea of rights:
When an adequate bank balance exists, individuals have a choice about whether or not to pay their taxes. However when adequate funds do not exist...
It's pretty cute, isn't it. First the courts and the feds say that the homeless got their rights. Then the local governments are forced to let the homeless break the law. Then the local government feels itself obliged to tax the people to pay for the costs forced on them by their lordly masters in the federal courts and the federal government. Only of course they are bound to obey the First Law of Taxation:
Don't tax me,
Don't tax thee.
Tax that fellow behind the tree!
Notice that when liberals don't like what the feds are doing then they have the right to peacefully protest and form a #Resistance and Sanctuary Cities and I know not what and all the Fake News media supports them.

Hey, I know. Why don't the Seattle liberals declare themselves a Homeless-free City and defy the federal courts and the Justice Department. I mean. If it's OK to defy the federal government and refuse to hand over arrested illegal aliens to the feds, how come it's not OK to kick the homeless out of town, whatever the feds say?

That is why I say "there is no such thing as justice, only injustice." Because the only way you get to declaring that some liberal little darling has rights is by trampling over the rights of somebody else.

This is not rocket science.

Now I believe that just as Harry Truman had  a sign on his desk: "the buck stops here," every politician and activist should have my maxim tattooed on their forearms for easy reference.

Government is force, and as soon as you start executing on any government program, or glorious human right, then someone else is going to have to pay for it.

That is why, in The Calculus of Consent James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, a Yank and a Brit, determined that the only just way for a legislature to vote a new program is by unanimous consent. Because unanimous consent forces the victorious majority to pay the costs of their glorious program that are imposed upon the reluctant minority. You might call justice. Or at least the absence of injustice.

Monday, June 11, 2018

On Darwin and Escape Hatches and the Will to Power

I am having a grand old time at the moment, reading Nietzsche down at the gym -- did you know that Nietzsche is a philosopher that makes jokes! Is that allowed? --  and a biography of the 20th century philosopher Wittgenstein when at home. What a piece of work he was!

And then, on a regular bookstore run, I picked up a remaindered copy of dearly-departed Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech. Hmm. Do you know what I think? I think that Tom Wolfe stole Nietzsche’s writing style and updated it for us Boomers. Jokes in Serious Journalism? Check. Wacky italics and punctuation and overuse of em dashes? Check. Naughty sneers at establishment received wisdom? Check.

The Kingdom of Speech is a jolly old attack on Darwin and Chomsky, both establishment darlings that weren’t above using their establishment cred to marginalize good honest fieldworkers -- or “flycatchers”-- on evolution and linguistics, people like Wallace and Daniel Everett that, you know, actually did, like, fieldwork. Whatever. Plus, Wolfe innocently suggests, Evolution is an unverifiable Theory of Everything just as unverifiable as the current Big Bang Theory.

Hey, nothing wrong with that. Every human needs a Creation Myth, even Atheists and Physicists, although, as we know if The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is anything to go by, physicists demand an additional "rigorously defined area of doubt and uncertainty" that some might regard as unwarranted "physicist privilege." Now go check out the NYT tut-tutting review of Wolfe's book.

All this is to set up none other than our beloved Sarah Hoyt, who penned a blog entry “Escape Hatches” that reminded everyone that your current job ain’t forever. Everything is going down the toilet: publishing --yay! indie -- education, movies. Because online is going to eat them alive.
If you’re in an artistic or communication industry, or one of the subsidiaries, you’re going to get hit.
Keep awareness of what is happening at all times.  Learn what others in your field are experiencing.  Prepare an escape hatch.  Ideally, prepare several escape hatches.
One of the things that really annoys me about our modern world is the universal demand that “they” take care of us. I understand where this comes from: it is the job of the tribe or the feudal lord or the nation state to protect us from the neighboring tribe, the neighboring lord, and the Mongols. That is something a human cannot do for themselves but only by joining a collective and supporting its armed forces.

But then the left decided we had to take care of the working class, and then women and then blacks, making them into little darlings of the neo-feudalist state. Well, the white working class was dying of despair until Trump came along and I dare say that intersectional women aren’t far behind.

But hey kids! Feudalism bit the dust 500 years ago; slavery 150 years ago. Free labor is supposed to look after itself. If you expect “them” to take care of you then you are saying: back to the future of feudalism, and the glorious arc of history is just bending towards neo-feudalism instead of justice.

Here’s the payoff. If you are an independent sort, and you have prepared an escape hatch or two, then you can tell the deep state and the activists and The Man and the globalists to go take a hike.

In other words, there is nothing in this world quite like what the average mansplainer and his buddies like to call F-U money.

If a simple village girl from Portugal can get this, why not well-born special snowflakes? Or ghetto-hardened Bros? You guys don’t believe everything The Man (or more usually The Woman) tells you, surely? Presumably, as the average mansplainer likes to say, you weren't born yesterday.

But as for me, I have a dream. I have a dream that one day a president will get elected to teach the American people to limit their government to protecting the borders from the Mongols. And then teach the American people that, in return for the glorious protection they get from the Mongols and the amazing smartphones they can buy for $129.95 (Apple smartphones for the 1% slightly higher), they ought to take it on themselves to find something useful to do. As in a job. Realizing that jobs don't last for a lifetime.

But of course, this does not apply to people-who-through-no-fault-of-there-own... Well, actually it does. I'd much rather that the wives of billionaires -- I'm thinking of you Melinda Gates --  should be taking care of the people-who-through-no-fault-of-there-own than in foolish initiatives to make venture capitalism more diverse.

(A philosophical point. Women have a Culture of Complaint; men have a Culture of Insult, as we know. Here's another. Women are Foolish; Men are Stupid. If you are not sure what that means, join the club. Neither am I. No wait! Foolishness is doing something stupid after talking it over with all your friends. Stupidity is doing something stupid without telling anyone.)

But what, you might say, does Nietzsche have to do with all this? Honestly, I don't know. The guy with the soup-strainer mustache wrote that asceticism is the way we modern humans deal with the fact that our instinct for cruelty is no longer appropriate for your usual dawn raid on the neighboring village. Or for the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. Maybe I'll be able to tell when I've finished The Genealogy of Morals. But maybe not. Because as I see it, the question is: what does Nietzsche really mean by his "will to power." And I haven't got there yet.

Suppose the chatty chappie never does explain himself?

Friday, June 8, 2018

On Failing to Rewrite My "Three Peoples" in the Light of Lefty "Privilege" Notions

Yesterday I picked up a used copy of Tom Wolfe's The Kingdom of Speech. Oh what a naughty boy! He is playing his "Radical Chic" game with Darwin and Chomsky, suggesting ever so gently that there is a lot of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories in the work of Darwin. In other words Darwin in The Origin of Species was writing a "cosmogony," a creation story. That doesn't have much to do with science.

Of course, all these creation stories have a point to make: how we got here, and how God -- or History -- favored us in his grand plan because we are so cool, not to mention how we struggled for ages against the Pharaohs or the Romans or the Mongol hordes or the slave-owners or the patriarchy.

And that got me to thinking. How would I write my reductive Three Peoples theory, which is an attempt to show how cool and noble is the responsible middle class and how unjust and deluded are our liberal masters, if I were a liberal?

Big Problem.

So I started by Googling "white privilege" and "male privilege." These terms, I discovered, were coined by Peggy McIntosh, née Margaret Vance Means, in a 1988 piece: "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies."

McIntosh's idea is that males and whites are running around in a world that was built for them and theirs. In other words all the cultural assumptions, the "taken for granteds" all assume that white males are the default model for life in the public sphere. You can see that this is a natural reaction of a lefty to the post-civil-rights era. The world is not immediately leveled by a laser-controlled so that the road ahead as a feminist lefty college teacher is faces a bunch of bumps and berms.

Cue George Simmel who wrote a century ago that the public sphere was created by men for men, and that the emergence of women into the public square would necessarily result in its transformation to suit "a more feminine sensibility."

Or to use my Culture of Complaint model, women like Peggy McIntosh are running around writing that "I can't believe the way the culture assumes the white male cultural norms!"

In other words, the removal of legal barriers to women and minorities doesn't immediately change the world to suit women and minority sensibilities.

Or, more to the point, the Civil Rights Acts don't clear the road for the Peggy McIntoshs of the world  to immediately cruise through an academic career like an unconcerned seagull.

So the trouble for me is that it would be hard to put the superficial discovery by Peggy McIntosh in 1988 that live is hard into a Just So Story.

But I tell you. If white privilege and male privilege are unearned cultural advantages from being white and male, like:
My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
Then what about the cultural advantages of "liberal privilege."
  1. I am much less likely to be suspended on Twitter.
  2. I can confidently complain about Trump when encountering a neighbor in the street.
  3. I can have an academic career.
  4. I am less likely to get fired for a drug-fueled bigoted remark.
  5. I am confident that my choice of an electric car advertises my virtue to the world.
  6. I am less likely to get fired from Google.
  7. I get to live in a yeasty gentrifying neighborhood and everyone at the artisanal coffee shop agrees with me.
Yes. What a privileged world it is for liberals.

Actually, as a newly turbocharged -- I wonder why -- Kevin D. Williamson writes, politics, media, comedy is all about status, "status-jockeying and status monkeying."
[Tyler] Cowen: “I have a simple hypothesis. No matter what the media tells you their job is, the feature of media that actually draws viewer interest is how media stories either raise or lower particular individuals in status. . . . The status ranking of individuals implied by a particular media source is never the same as yours, and often not even close. . . . Indeed that is why other people enjoy those media sources, because they take pleasure in your status, and the status of your allies, being lowered.” [my bold]
So that is the game of Peggy McIntosh and all the intersectional feminists and racists. It is not enough to have civil rights in law. What is needed is to lower non-feminist non-minority status. And serve 'em right!

Of course, you might say that this is pretty harmless in unmediated person-to-person games of status. And I would agree.

But that is not what the liberals are doing. Instead they are weaponizing the law to enforce their cultural agenda on "whites" and "males."

There is a word for using the government to enforce your cultural supremacy. It is called "injustice." Hello President Trump.