Thursday, October 31, 2019

Liberal Crimes of History: The Workers

When another age dawns, and the heroes of the present age have been tossed to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and all that, to be reviled forever as fiends and monsters, the bill of indictment about how the left betrayed the workers will look something like this:

They led the working class into the wilderness of welfare state dependency instead of into middle class responsibility.

Why did they do this? In part because of the Marxist doctrine that the way to understand the 19th century was as a class conflict, a war to the death between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, because what else could it be? And the Fabian and Progressive idea that, while class warfare was a bridge too far, the working class certainly needed a wise and educated elite to guide it into proper channels.

If there is a clue to what is wrong with these two notions, it must be that -- well I'll be blowed -- the Marxist doctrine amounts to the dictatorship of the Marxists who will lead the proletarians in the war to the knife against the bourgeoisie, and the Fabian/Progressive doctrine that amounts to the oligarchy of the educated elite that will advise and administer the wise programs that will benefit the workers and soften the hard edges of a laissez-faire economy that only asks "will it pay?"

Let us be clear about this. In the Marxian outcome, the Marxist dictators run everything; they obliterate private property and any right to disagree with the rulers, and the kill millions of people and they impoverish the rest. Marxism is slavery.

In the Fabian/Progressive outcome, the economy gets rigidified with money-losing state enterprises and the workers get reduced into modern day serfs that the educated elite regards as "deplorables," really not quite out of the top drawer.

The fundamental error of the Marxists is that the bourgeoisie had it in for the proletarians. No they didn't. The fundamental error of the Fabians and the Progressives is that capitalists are economic robots and the that workers are helpless: thus both need supervision. Oh, the capitalists got pretty mad if the workers decided to strike to keep their wages up in a depression. But the normal bourgeois capitalist just pays his workers the market rate -- and not because he is a moral exemplar or moral degenerate, but because paying his workers more is risky on the profits front, and paying them less makes it difficult to find good workers.

And the fundamental warrant for the good faith of the bourgeoisie is that it did not have a problem with giving the workers the vote. Did the bourgeoisie rise up in fury during the campaigns to extend the vote from the middle class to the workers? It did not.

But the Big Thing is this. The bourgeoisie does not believe in political power. On the contrary, it believes in the limitation of political power. That's because the basic philosophy of the middle class is live and let live, trust and reciprocity. Again, there is no moral wonder in this. In middle-class life you quickly find out that trust and reciprocity is the way to prosper. Of course, the capitalists also know that there is money to be made in catering to the power-driven chaps in the political class: money in return for contracts, subsidies, privileges.

The big problem for the workers, in the aftermath of their adoption by the Marxists and the Fabian/Progressives, is that once they have been enlisted in the political army of the left it is almost impossible to leave. This is the way of all armies: once you have joined the colors your leaders will lead you hither and thither in their various wars, threatening you with frightful penalties if you "desert." But when you are no longer useful to them, they will demobilize you and expect you to pick up the pieces, or, if things go badly in their power project, they will just abandon you along the route of march.

The fact is that if you want to thrive in the cities of the industrial economy you need to become a citizen -- for that is what bourgeois means -- and you need to learn the ways of the city, its culture and its moral code. It's not exactly a walk in the park, but millions have done it.

But if you enlist in the Marxist movement or go along with the Fabians and the Progressives you won't learn the skills and the culture you need to be a responsible citizen that can wive and thrive successfully in the city. And that is a crime against humanity.

The point is that if the Marxists and the Fabians and the Progressives has never been, then the workers and the capitalists and all the folks in between would have wived and thrived and everyone would have lived happily ever after. Because the market economy rewards people that do that.

Instead, the Marxists came along and divided us, and the Fabians and the Progressives came along and dominated us. And the world is a worse place because of it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Left's Dilemma: It Can't Undo Its Mistakes

How do we understand today's left? I stumbled into a piece about that yesterday that suggested that
contemporary Left-wing politics “is better understood as less of a political movement and more as a form of identity or enjoyable past time”. It has become more a “consumption activity” than a way to improve people’s lives[.]
Or, if you like,
Left-wing politics has become “a matter of shallow appearances, or fatuous self-righteousness… a politics in which the beautiful and wellborn tell the unwashed and the beaten-down and the funny-looking how they ought to behave”. 
But why, I thought to myself?

And so I came up with an answer. First, look at this chart of government spending in the US:

And look at this chart of public spending in the UK.

Notice something? Exactly. Spending on government programs ramped up in the first half of the 20th century, but for the last half century spending has been pretty steady, at about 35 percent of GDP in the US and 40 percent of GDP in the UK.

In other words, we probably aren't going to see any more increase in government spending in our two countries. Despite all the Sturm und Drang it seems that government spending has hit its natural limit. I don't pretend to know why, but it sure looks like some natural limit has been reached.

In other words, if you are a leftie, and presumably want to help the less fortunate, the oppressed and the marginalized, you are facing a bit of a problem. There doesn't seem to be any room for more spending on the less fortunate, the oppressed and the marginalized.

Let's look at the four great heads of modern government spending.

First of all there is government pensions, at 6.7 percent in the US and 7.8 percent in the UK. The problem is that a big chunk of that goes to the middle class, especially middle-class government workers. Don't think you are going to be able to take much money away from middle-class government workers and give it to the poor. The recent teacher strike in the City of Chicago, a city already in dire financial straits, should tell you all you need to know. You can't take monies away from the current beneficiaries, deserving or not. They will tear the place down.

What the left should have done, back in the day, was legislate a mandatory savings program for all workers through private sector financial institutions -- e.g. Fidelity and Vanguard -- and leak some monies out of something, somewhere, to take care of the poor. That way it wouldn't take 6-7 percent of GDP, but we would still have a national pension program that looked after itself. But it's too late for that, because if you try to mess with Social Security you will have the wrath of tens of millions of ordinary American retirees on your head.

Then there is government health care, at 7.8 percent in the US and 7.8 percent in the UK. In the UK it provides basic care for everyone, but anyone that is anyone has private insurance because the service at the NHS is pretty poor. In the US we have the fabulously expensive Medicare for seniors supplemented by Medicais for the poor. But what about the people just above the Medicaid threshold? That was the problem with Obamacare, trying to square the circle between Medicare, Medicaid, corporate health plans and individual health plans. If you want to take care of the people in between you practically have to destroy the existing system in order to save it. That's why President Obama had to lie about Obamacare, promising that "if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor" and predicting that the average person would save $2,500 a year in premiums. Not. So as soon as the next Democrat tries to square the circle again they will find huge opposition from people that don't want their existing arrangements messed with, in particular women on Medicare.

What the left should have done, back in the day, was legislate a mandatory health insurance plan, which tried to make health care into a Walmart for Health, and leak monies from somewhere to look after the poor. The idea would be to make sure that routine medical care was no more of an expense than the cost of maintaining a car, but that when you get to the big stuff, just like liability and collision insurance for cars, ordinary Americans don't get wiped out. And you'd have a mandatory program to get people to save for end-of-life medical expenses, something like life insurance. That way it wouldn't take 8 percent of GDP, but we would still have a national health insurance program and a senior health program that basically looked after itself. But it's too late for that, because if you try to mess with Medicare you will have the wrath of tens of millions of ordinary American retirees on your head.

Then there is government education, at 5.3 percent GDP in the US and 4.2 percent GDP in the UK. It seems to me that the current system works pretty well for the upper middle class, who seems to glide through and get to selective colleges. But whatabout the ordinary middle class that really just want to get decent skills for a decent job? And whatabout minority kids from families with little interest in literacy and numeracy? Whatabout kids that trustingly go to college and pile up student debt on some useless degree that doesn't get them a job? Just try reforming education: you run into a brick wall with the tenured college professors and the tenured and unionized K-12 teachers. And so the system is slowly degenerating into a system that does very little education but provides a lot of jobs for Democratic voters.

What the left should have done, back in the day, was legislate a comprehensive apprenticeship and training program mandating employers to provide jobs and education for teenagers starting, say, at age 12. That way the employers would be educating and training young people to qualify for the positions that the employer needed to fill right now, or expected to need to fill in the future. I'd say that employers have a much better idea of the kind of employee they need than government education bureaucrats. And younger kids? I'd recommend home-school, run by the neighborhood women, augmented by governemnt grants for areas with low literacy. But it's too late for that, because if you mess with the college professors and administrators and the union teachers you will be thrown out of office.

Finally, there is government welfare, at 2.1 percent of GDP in the US and 5.7 percent of GDP in the UK (wow, that different!). Obviously these programs have not been too good for the poor as they discourage marriage and discourage getting a job. Thus we have, as reported by Charles Murray in Coming Apart, that for whites only, at the bottom 35 percent the men don't work much and the women don't marry much. I'd say that's a problem, but if you were to make a significant change, by encouraging work and marriage, you would encounter a storm of protest from every lefty in the land and every bureaucrat servicing the poor and every recipient of welfare benefits. Who needs it?

What the left should have done, back in the day, was legislate mandatory membership in some mutual aid society of the kind that flourished in the 19th century. They were run by ordinary people and they naturally responded to the needs of the ordinary people they served. They were doing fine until the left legislated government welfare and put their nations through spine-rattling wars and Great Depresssions. But it's a bit late for that because all the old mutual-aid societies have withered on the vine in the last century, and if you ask a lefty they have no idea that the 19th century mutual-aid societies even existed!

Now, I get it. The purpose of government programs isn't really to provide working systems for pensions, health care, education, and welfare. The purpose of government programs is to win elections by promising loot.

But my feeling is that we have reached the limit of promising loot. That's why the level of government spending in both the US and UK has been pretty level for the past half century. You promise more loot to Group X and Group Y notices that they are going to have to pay fot Group X's loot. Sorry Charlie.

So the net result is that we can't go forward and reform the welfare state because a lot of people would have their benefits reduced or at least endangered by any reform. And they will stop any attempt at reform.

So of course our lefty politics has degenerated into "a matter of shallow appearances, or fatuous self-righteousness… a politics in which the beautiful and wellborn tell the unwashed and the beaten-down and the funny-looking how they ought to behave." The lefties had their chance and they blew it; now they are reduced to posturing.

And now there is just about nothing we can do until the whole system comes crashing down.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Why the Jews Take the Cake on Nationalism

Here I was, sailing along unconcernedly as a seagull, when all of a sudden a Jewish acquaintance woke me up.

She alerted me to the fact that the modern Hebrew spoken in the nation of Israel is a made-up language. I had never thought of that before.

Modern Hebrew, says La Wik, was put together by a guy called Eliezer Ben‑Yehuda starting in about 1881 when he immigrated to Palestine. Ben-Yehuda was born in Russia and went to study at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1877 where he met a Jew from Palestine and managed to communicate using biblical Hebrew. La Wik:
It was this use of Hebrew in a spoken form that convinced him that the revival of Hebrew as the language of a nation was feasible.
So Ben-Yehuda went to work on Modern Hebrew, "using 8,000 words from the Bible and 20,000 words from rabbinical commentaries" and inventing other words. My Jewish acquaintance says he also updated the verbs and stuff.
Ben-Yehuda regarded Hebrew and Zionism as symbiotic: "The Hebrew language can live only if we revive the nation and return it to the fatherland," he wrote.
And then along came Theodor Herzl, of Pest, Hungary, who created Zionism the movement with his 1896 book, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State). But Zionism must have been a thing by 1876, when George Eliot published her Daniel Deronda. So, Herzl's Zionism was mashed together with Ben-Yehuda's Modern Hebrew to create the cultural foundation of the national State of Israel, the national home of the Jews.

This confirms my theory of nationalism, that it is, along with all political notions, a fake tribalim to create a national myth around the notion of the Jews as a nation. So today in the state of Israel we have all the conditions that help create a viable nation state.

We have a common language. In most nations the national language was imposed on the rest of the nation by the chaps that created the nation. For instance, French is the language of the folks in the Île de France. Italian is the language of the people of Tuscany.

We have a common religion. It goes without saying that the more the people in a nation are united by a common religion, or common church, the better. But the people on the outside looking in, as Muslims in Israel or Catholics in a Protestant country, religion forms a basis for uniting against the nation.

We have a common "race" or ethnicity, or tribe. As I have said, all such identities are "fake." It is really an attempt to recreate the original tribe of the kindred, people related by blood, and imprint it on a larger grouping. Are the Jews of the Diaspora, the Ashkenazi Jews and the Sephardic Jews, members of a nation? They are if they believe it to be so. And it helps if they share the same religion and the same language.

We have a common history. Well, history is written by the victors, making up a sacred history to justify their political ascendancy. Or, if you like, history is the lie agreed upon. Every tribe needs its sacred myth; every dynasty needs to establish the divine heritage of its kings; every nation needs to show that it was favored by God.

We have a victorious war. Nothing unites humans, especially human men, as the brotherhood of warriors. And the state of Israel had to establish itself in war in 1948 and afterwards.

What is astonishing to me, after my realization of the made-up nature of Modern Hebrew, is the remarkable achievement of the Jews in making up the nation of Israel not in the traditional way of slow accumulation, by slow feudal transitions and petty conquests, accidents of palace politics, and assimilations of neighboring princedoms. We have the invention and the creation of the nation and the state of Israel out of whole cloth in the modern manner, by some guy writing a book and another guy inventing a language, and a modern publicity campaign inviting all Jews to come to Palestine. It is an amazing achievement. La Wik says Zionism was a response to antisemitism and also to the Jewish Enlightenment. But I'll bet that the real driving force was that the emergence of Nations out of the dynastic regimes of Europe inspired the Jews that were rising fast once Jews got to participate directly in the modern economies of Europe to say: Hey, this national idea is really cool. Why can't we Jews have our own nation?

Why not, indeed. And, I'd say that probably nobody but the Jews could have pulled it off.

The point is that it proves the immense power of nationalism as a way of uniting humans into a political community. The ingredients are language, religion, ethnic origin, and a war of liberation. All of these are unifying forces and the more the merrier.

The problem is, of course, that when some new political tendency arises in an existing nation it is going to want to unite people and divide people across different axes than the people of the current nation were originally unified. That is why our current ruling class wants to unify people through identity politics and through their supranational globalism. It's because they can't win, can't create a majority for their governing agenda of rule by the educated class, unless they knock over the current statue of America the Nation with another political idea. President Trump is countering this strategy of the educated ruling class with his Make America Great Again meme, which is a clear effort to unite Americans of all kinds around the American National Idea (whatever it is). He may succeed, or he may not.

Meanwhile, the Jews in Israel have really achieved the impossible, creating a nation out of whole cloth with its own language, own religion, own sacred history, and its own glorious victory.

It doesn't get any better than that.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Nietzsche in 900 Words -- If You Can Take It

There I was at the gym, reading my Nietzsche on a cardio machine that made it difficult to read because I couldn't use my regular cardio machine because I cannot stand listening to nearby women talking loudly to each other on the cardio machines.

And all of a sudden, Fritzi explained the whole procedure, in a couple of pages in The Will to Power. Of course, The Will to Power was not published in Nietzsche's lifetime; it is a collection of notes in his usual aphoristic style, so who knows what he really meant. But still. He explained his pitch:  on morality, decadence, nihilism, Eternal Recurrence, and Will to Power just like that. Slam, bam, thank you ma'am. It is all presented at the end of Book One: European Nihilism starting at Section 40.

For instance, I had not really got the point of his Eternal Recurrence thingy until now.

Let's start with Morality (Section 55):
It was morality that protected life against the despair and the leap into nothing, among men and classes who were violated and oppressed by men; for it is the experience of being powerless against men, not against nature, that generates the most desperate embitterment against existence.
But what happens when people start to lose their faith in morality?

Decadence (Section 40):
The concept of decadence.-- Waste, decay, elimination need not be condemned; they are necessary consequences of life, of the growth of life. The phenomenon of decadence is necessary as any increase and advance of life; one is in no position to abolish it.
In other words, when the old order -- particularly the old morality -- is collapsing, maybe because God is Dead, we get a period of decadence. Nothing to be ashamed of: Just life.

Which brings us to nihilism. Nietzsche does not champion nihilism. He just regards it at natural and physical when some religious belief or morality has collapsed. (Section 55)
Nihilism is a symptom that the underprivileged have no comfort left; that they destroy in order to be destroyed; that without morality they no longer have any reason to "resign themselves"[.]
And so we get to the Eternal Recurrence. In the collapse of morality into decadence and nihilism it seems
as if everything were in vain... [So] "Are not all 'values' lures that draw out the comedy without bringing it closer to a solution? 
Let us think this thought in its most terrible form: existence as it is, without meaning or aim, yet recurring inevitably without any finale of nothingness: "the eternal recurrence."
In other words, it is the nihilist, demoralized by the collapse of morality and the increase of decadence and decay, who collapses into nihilism and a philosophy of eternal despair.

Thus to the Will to Power (Section 55):
Who will prove to be the strongest in the course of this? The most moderate; those who do not demand extreme articles of faith; those who not only concede but love a fair amount of accidents and nonsense; those who can think of man with a considerable reduction of his value without becoming small and weak on that account: those richest in health who are equal to most misfortunes and therefore not so afraid of misfortunes -- human beings who are sure of their power and represent the attained strength of humanity with conscious pride.
How would such a human being even think of the eternal recurrence? 
Easy for you to say, Fritzi. Be not afraid of misfortunes.

The Will to Power is obviously a difficult concept for us post-Nazi humans. Because we think of the Will to Power as the Nuremberg rallies and SS stormtroopers and concentration camps. Of course, the worstest Will to Power of all was Lenin and Stalin and Mao who created societies of what the Jewish intellectual Georg Lukács approvingly called "totality." Yep, societies which were defined solely by political and military and ideological power. And which were, dialectically, incredibly weak.

Well, the truth is that Nietzsche's Übermensch is indeed a disturbing and unsafe chappie, for he is not afraid to burst all bounds. Bronze Age Mindset by Bronze Age Pervert is all about that. And one of Pervert's ideas is that the real man is a pirate, unafraid to sail around the world in tiny wooden sailing ships looking for trouble.
Crusaders like Cortes and Pizzarro, Fernando de Soto, Drake and Raleigh, Magellan and Balboa equal in daring, intelligence, magnitude of spirit, resourcefulness and achievement any of the great men of the Greeks and the Romans.
As the hero says in Pirates of Penzance:
It is a glorious thing
To be a pirate king.
In my reductive Three Peoples theory I say that the modern thing is to be a creative person, one of the People of the Creative Self. But, as Pervert says, "I don't promote for you the life of the scientist, or artist, or writer, because in our age these degenerate into hobbies and ways to pass the time, and there's no value in this." The true creative life is indeed the work of God, to create the world anew. But that means that the creative life is the life of a man, to be a creator, fighter, destroyer, a life indeed with no happy ending, as is required in all religions up to and including socialism.

I think that the quintessential Bronze Age man, or Übermensch, is Elon Musk: crazy, fearless, piratical, willing to take the government's money to make stupid electric cars on the one hand, and make rockets to go to Mars on the other. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Not "Downscale" But Midscale: That's Today's Republican Party

Used to be that the Republican Party was an upscale party, writes Michael Barone. You could tell that by the way that the upscale media wrote.
Sixty years ago, when the Democratic Party was dominated by Southern whites and Northern factory workers, major newsmagazines and newspapers were complacently Republican and snidely condescending about Democrats.
But now, of course, the "major newsmagazines and newspapers" are complacently Democratic and snidely condescending about Republicans. Now the Republican Party is a downscale party.
From the Eisenhower years to the Reagan years, it was centered on the relatively affluent. Since the 1990s, it has been changing, tilting more toward the religiously devout and economically downscale.
That's a problem, writes Barone, because "a downscale party attracts articulate attackers and lacks institutional support." Well, yeah. Nobody said it would be easy.

But I contest that Trump is making the Republican Party into a "downscale" party. I would say that the key to the Republian Party from Nixon to Reagan to Trump is that it is a "midscale" party. It is the party of people without college degrees but with jobs and families and houses and cars.

Meanwhile the Democratic Party has become clearly an over/under or "upscale/downscale" party. It is run by white college graduates and their religious preferences for gender fluidity and climate change but it clearly advocates for the helpless: minorities and immigrants and people without marriages and jobs and homes.

Actually, the left has been doing this ever since Marx and the Fabian socialists in the mid 19th century. It's just that until the baby boomers came along the left was considered not quite out of the top drawer. But now they teach socialism in college, so it must be out of the top drawer.

Back in the 70s President Nixon made clear that he represented the "Silent Majority" and Vice President Agnew criticized the media as "nattering nabobs of negativity." The media didn't appreciate that then, and they don't appreciate being called "fake news" today.

When I went to a presidential caucus in the outer Seattle suburbs in 1980 the Bush backers like me were "upscale." I was struck by the Reagan supporters; they all looked like they worked in the skilled trades. Not "downscale" but "midscale." And there were more of the Reagan supporters so we sent Reagan delegates to the County Convention, and us Bush supporters were perfectly content with that. In fact, I thought to myself at the time: "Wow! Something is stirring in the heartlands."

Of course, all this makes perfect sense according to my reductive Three Peoples theory. These days the Democrats represent the People of the Creative Self and the People of the Subordinate Self, and Republicans represent the People of the Responsible Self.

If this is so then it makes complete sense that the creative sort of people would befull of creative plans for completely redoing healthcare from the ground up and completely redoing energy from the ground up, and getting all creative with gender. But it makes complete sense that middling sort of people would not be happy with this creative project. Middling sort of people want a stable world where they can wive and thrive: work at a job with a decent wage, with wife or husband and home and family. Subordinate people are just interested in collecting the crumbs from the lord's table. All the creative stuff blows right past them; just show me the money.

But I would have a few words with the creative people, to remind them of a significant fact. It is one thing to have a great idea. It is another thing to have a great idea that works. From my Maxims:

We forget that for every success story there are dozens of failures.
Most successes are a consequence of second, third and fourth attempts.
The world is full of good ideas. What it needs are good ideas that work.
So, your chances are that your brilliant creative idea is not quite up to snuff, old chap. It is probably best to try it out on your friends for a while before demanding to try it out on the whole country or, in the case of climate change, on the whole planet.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

"Quid Pro Quo" is Another Word for Politics

Apparently, a dreadful thing occurred in the now famous conversation between President Trump and the president of Ukraine. Trump wanted a quid pro quo if the Ukrainians wanted aid.

Oh no! Corruption! Impeachment! The worst.

Never mind that the president was trying to find out about Ukrainian involvement in the corruption of the presidential election of 2016. Never mind about the clear quid pro quo obtained by Joe Biden (for his son) in a trip to Ukraine when Joe was Vice President during the Obama administration.

I don't know exactly when a nod and a wink in politics becomes a quid pro quo. But I understand that only a professional could tell -- amateurs like me should not apply. I suppose there are some limits that even politicians should not exceed.

But please! The whole point of politics is the quid pro quo.

But some things are not a quid pro quo. Oh No.
Listen to this phone message left by a congresswoman on a lobbyist’s voicemail. “I was frankly surprised to see that we don’t have a record, so far as I can tell, of your having given to me despite my long and deep work,” she says. In fact, it’s been my major work on the committee and subcommittee it’s been essentially in your sector. I am, I’m simply candidly calling to ask for a contribution.” 
Now, what it is that congerswomen do? I will tell you. They run for election promising free stuff for voters. They pass laws providing free stuff for people and special interests. They fund-raise, whining to lobbyists that "I don't have a record" of contributions "despite my long and deep work." Or else, chum.

Now, of course, the whole of human life is quid pro quo. I go to the store. I take stuff out of the store -- the quo. In return for money -- the quid. I work for you; you give me wages. I enlist in your army; you give me a share of the loot and plunder. You give me something; I give you something: quid pro quo.

But when we get to governments and their taxing and spending, we are talking about monies forcibly taken from some people and given to other people. Notice the difference? With governments both the quid and the quo are forced. it's all about force.

Fortunately there is settled science about this. In The Calculus of Consent James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock showed how legislative voting systems work when voting for a new program. You usually have three parties to any issue. There are the proponents, people who stand to benefit from the program: they are in favor. There are the opponents, people who will be forced to pay for the program but not benefit: they are opposed. Then there are the don't cares, people who aren't really going to benefit, or not much, and people who are not going to have to pay for the program, but not much. Typically the voting for the program depends on getting the fence sitters, the don't cares, to vote in favor, by buying their votes. A quid pro quo. All perfectly legal! Because it's all between us dedicated elected officials!

After a few hundred pages of this Buchanan and Tullock come to the conclusion that the only just way of passing a new government program is by unanimous consent. That way, the proponents are forced to buy off the votes of the opponents by holding them harmless, either by excusing them from the taxes or by balancing the taxes with some sort of benefit. Still a quid pro quo. Oh no! But at least everyone gets in on the action.

Of course, the reason that the Democrats are lighting up this quid pro quo roman candle is that, when the other guys are doing the quidding and the quoing it is outrageous. Why, who do those peasants and real-estate dealers think they are! When We do it, it is just a bit of a nod and a wink among friends. But then They do it, it is monstrous!

But, as President Trump seems instinctively to understand, raising the quid pro quo issue turns the spotlight upon the routine and matter-of-fact quid pro quo action that goes on in the ruling class all the time. And that is just the egregious stuff. Why do you think that educated people tend to vote Democrat? Could it be because there are lots of jobs for educated people in the government, in the regulatory agencies, in legal disputes before the government, in the universities, in the schools, in the activist non-profits? Whereas, outside the government etc, there is not that much demand for people that do not have useful skills for making and doing things that other people want and are willing to pay for.

Because, really, the educated elite really does not want the ordinary people to see how the educated elite is a well-paid parasitic aristocracy with no particular talents, no particular usefulness, and no particular care for the lives of ordinary people.

Oh wait. The educated elite has enormous care for the lives of people that could be useful in its power project. But, as I say about the ruling-class's Little Darlings, there comes a time in the life of every Little Darling when Sugar Daddy moves on to another Little Darling. Because the quo he is getting just does not seem to him to be worth the quid he is putting out. Or is it the other way around?

Don't be a Little Darling. It's not worth it, dear.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Trouble with Labor Unions

The conventional wisdom on labor unions is distilled by Steve Siebold in his criticism of the current Chicago teachers union strike.
There was a time when employers abused their power and unions leveled the playing field. They gave the little guy a voice, and it worked.
What really happened is supply and demand. When employers were looking for workers they bid up wages. Workers love that. When their business started to falter they tried to cut costs, including wages. Workers hate that.

Typically, labor unions flourish in adversity, when employers are laying people off and cutting wages in order to try and stay in business. There were numerous strikes in the US in the 1870s. But this was in the Long Depression from 1873 "through the spring of 1879, or 1896, depending on the metrics used." But what caused it? Most probably this, from La Wik.
The primary cause of the price depression in the United States was the tight monetary policy that the United States followed to get back to the gold standard after the Civil War.
When you have "deflation" debtors get sent to the wall: in other words little people. In other words factory workers.

So when you read hundreds of pages in Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States about the workers fighting this or that employer from railroads to mines to steelworks, you are not really reading about evil robber barons out to stick the workers. You are talking about employers trying to stay in business.

When factory workers are facing wage cuts and job cuts (or when their employers are hiring cheap immigrants, as they did in the 1880s and 1890s) they join unions and demand that the employers keep employing them at the old wage and the old conditions.

It's understandable, and it fits with the basic human instinct to join with your brothers to fight the foe. But in the modern market economy?

OK, so suppose you win the strike? Then you are getting paid higher than the market rate. Now you are dependent on either your employer figuring out how to make you more productive, or you are depending on government to enact some law to forbid your employer from hiring non-union employees, or you are depending on the government to shut down the competition. Or reduce immigration. Or something.

The problem with all these solutions is that eventually they will run out of gas. It could be, as with the auto unions, that you have a half-century of good times. But eventually the Japanese car companies, or something, comes along and puts your above-market wages out to lunch.

And this is why I consider the left a Great Reaction and a crime against humanity. The market economy offers and has delivered on an extraordinary Great Enrichment for the common man. But it asks one thing in return. Instead of the old ways of feudalism where you subordinated yourself to a powerful noble, or politics where you submit yourself it asks you to submit to the verdict of the market. And when your employer is cutting wages, he is almost certainly trying to adjust to the verdict of the market.

The crime of the left is that it has taught people, and continues to teach people, AOC, that the market is a vile robber baron that cheats honest workers out of the proceeds of their toil. Sorry lefties: ain't true. What the market economy offers is successive technological and/or market revolutions in which the emergent phenomenon of prices dictates what enterprises will prosper and what enterprises are going to fail. Every worker, every investor, every consumer must understand that the road to prosperity is to submit to the verdict of the market.

It's a hard lesson, to submit to the impersonal verdict of the market, and submitting to the market when it goes against you is the hardest thing in the world. Only, of course, the prices of the market are not really impersonal but the net effect of millions of buy/sell decisions made individually by humans. If the wages in your industry are going down then that is the verdict of the consumers, that your product is not up to snuff, not today, and probably not tomorrow. It's a signal to get out there and find a new job, get new training, move to another city, right now, before you burn through your savings and/or credit.

This is what we should be teaching in the schools, on TV, in politics, in the university, in intellectual circles, everywhere. But we are not. And that is a crime against humanity.

Of course the most egregious case of this Big Lie is in politics, where every politician running for office, from Trump to Warren, is promising to fight for the voters against... someone. It could be the big banks or the big corporations or the evil Russians or the Japanese imports or corrupt politicians. But the politician is always offering to fight for us.

Hey, maybe that politician will win a battle for us. But not the war. Because the market is the One Ring that rules over all. The market will win in the end.

Look, I'm all in favor of labor unions, especially in the old days when they modeled themselves on the whole subculture of mutual-aid societies, Masons, Elks, and Moose, with their fantastical titles. And yes, the KKK modeled itself on the mutual-aid societies with fantastical titles like Kleagle and Grand Exalted Wizard.

But wise rulers would write laws that, while understanding the natural instincts of humans to band together against existential perils, people in the present age have to submit to the market. So labor unions should not have special legal exemptions that lead their leaders and members into economic box canyons that have a rock wall at the end.

And really, what would you prefer? To submit to a slave owner? To submit to a feudal lord? To submit to a damn politician? A robber baron?  A union leader? Or to the market?

Now, the trouble with the market is that it isn't perfect. As the joke goes (that I attribute to John Kenneth Galbraith but was maybe said by Paul Samuelson) the stock market has predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions. Har Har!

But that is the point of the market. The emergent phenomenon of prices is always trying to see through the murk of the present into the future. Eventually, it will be right.

And we -- the wise, the educated, the evolved -- need to teach the people how to live with the market, and not to fight it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

We Need Better Beliefs, says Zman

After railing for several hundred words against the left's "enemy of the people" politics, the Zman comes to the point:
The alternative to left-wing belief is not the lack of any belief whatsoever. The alternative is a different, more appealing set of beliefs.
Quite. But it is misleading to say that:
The one universal quality of left-wing politics that is true in every time and place is the need for an external enemy.
No, no. Instead, "the one universal quality of all politics... is the need for an external enemy."

The reason is quite simple. Absent an external enemy, humans will just go about their daily business of wiving and thriving. But, if you are a politician, you want to enlist and mobilize the people into the the rank-and-file of your political project. How do you divert people from their daily existence into your project? You propose a dangerous enemy that, unless defeated, will destroy us all.

Now, the left has the most need of enemies because its agenda is the complete conversion of daily life into the service of the state in which project everyone becomes a foot-soldier in the holy war against the dreadful enemy. Obviously, like a soldier in an army, the state must provide everything so that each soldier has nothing to do except fight the enemy.

This is what makes sense of all the big government programs: pensions, health care, education. For most ordinary people the daily project of working and earning and providing for family, children, education, health care, savings for old age is the meaning of life. But obviously if everyone is to be diverted into a holy project of defeating the evil enemy, then the state must take over all these mundane day-to-day tasks. Otherwise the people will have no time for the ruler's project.

One has to compliment the left on its imaginative cast of enemies. First the enemy was the capitalists and the bourgeoisie: enemies of the working class. Then the enemy was Nazis and in the run-up to WWII FDR was having a heck of a job dealing with the non-interventionist America First Committee. Then the left's enemy was southern segregationists, the monsters that had demoted blacks to second-class citizenship. Then the left's enemies were men, the oppressors of women. Now, of course, the left's enemies are racist-sexist-homophobes: white supremacists, toxic masculinists, and people that dead-name transgenders.

But the enemy doesn't have to be human. It just has to be an existential peril. Because a peril is also something that can rally people to your political standard. And that is how to understand the climate change movement. If you want political power then you have to sell people on an enemy or an existential peril. Because that's how humans are programmed; they will stop doing what they are doing only if there is an enemy threatening the gates, or an existential peril -- like a flood or a famine -- that threatens the existence of the community.

So how do we come up with an alternative, a "more appealing set of beliefs?"

It ain't easy, because the first thing to do is to rally people to our banner that says "people who are always hammering away at 'the enemy:' they are the real enemy." And that gets pretty complicated.

But here is the basic narrative/counter narrative of our age.

About 300 years ago a movement started that proposed to reduce the power of politicians -- at that time called kings. Instead of kings for life, they proposed an elected president for a term. And instead of a government completely at the king's beck and call, they proposed to divide the powers of government up into three branches that would tend to cancel each other's power out by the natural tendency of powerful people to quarrel with each other. Wait, they said. One of the big problems down the ages has been the condominium between political and religious power. So let's not have a state-approved church any more.

The most perfect development of this idea thus far has been The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism by Michael Novak. He proposes what I call a "greater separation of powers" between the three sectors of society: political, economic, and moral/cultural. Totalitarianism is when all these sectors are combined up into the political power. It is The Totalitarian Temptation according to Jean-François Revel. And that is not good.

Obviously it is not an accident that humans are programmed to rally to the banner of a leader when threatened by an enemy or an existential peril. This was a real problem in the agricultural age, when it paid to raid the neighboring village for food and/or women. As in the Rape of the Sabine Women by the Romans. You had to be on your toes in those days. And you had to have land to grow food, and you had to defend your land or you would starve.

But now.

Now land is not so important any more, because today real wealth, according to the World Bank, is "intangible capital," or knowledge and skills about how to make things and do things.

Suppose you were a would-be conqueror, jealous of the wealth of your neighbor. You could, like the Soviet Union in 1945, seize all the physical capital of eastern Germany and take it to the Urals. But it doesn't really do you any good. You still collapse in 1989 due to the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism. Today you want your neighbor to be as rich as you. The only thing you want to capture is intellectual property. But you still want the neighbor to be buying your stuff and you want to be able to buy his stuff. Plus, of course, if you attack a country with nuclear weapons, well...

The fact is that we humans have entered upon a new age and it is going to take hundreds of years to figure it all out.

But meanwhile our lefty friends, in a fit of nostaglia for the good old days when enemies were enemies and existential perils were existential perils, have launched what I call a Great Reaction. It is significant that Marx made the offical launch of this project in 1848 at about the moment when a perspicaciou analyst could have seen that a new age, of industrial prosperity for all, had begun. By 1900 at the latest, it was clear that the working class itself was benefiting from the products churned out in the factories at which they worked, and they weren't as Marx prophesied, going to be "immiserated." What is this Great Reaction? My maxim:
Great Reaction: Socialism is neo-slavery; the welfare state is neo-feudalism; identity politics is neo-tribalism; reparations is neo-vengeance; activism is part neo-knight-errantry and part pro-regime street-thuggery; helpless victims are neo-sacrifice, social justice is neo-plunder.
Do you see how all the neo-whatsits are nostalgic lurches back the past? Slavery, feudalism, tribalism, vengeance, sacrifice, plunder? Oh and Quixotic knight-errantry. Don't forget that.

One of the most remarkable things of the modern era, in my opinion, is the rise of sports. It is perfectly obvious to me that sports, sports teams, stadiums, and sports championships are a magnificent replacement for the old road to male glory: war.

What we need, I think, is the equivalent of sports in politics. Some harmless way in which people bitten by the political bug can display their talents and their accomplishments in a perfectly harmless way. So, political aficionados could discuss the latest "game" on TV the way that sports fans discuss the latest professional sports game.

Of course, it may be that modern domestic politics is already a harmless enaction of the old business of dynastic war. But I think that we need a further sportification of politics. To make it less lethal.

Of course, I have lots of other ideas. But this is a start.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Why the Enthusiastic Trump Rally Crowds?

How many people were at President Trump's rally in Dallas last week? Apart from the 20,000 in the American Airlines Arena? Was there another 20,000 outside watching the big screens? Or just 5,000?

Why are the Trump rallies such a success? Because Trump is a great showman? Because he is rallying all the white supremacists with "dog whistles?"

My guess is that Trump energizes the non-college white middle and working class because those folks believe he is fighting for them.

This is a basic thing is politics. Politicians are always announcing how they "are fighting for" this or that group or sub-group or special interest. It's not surprising, since today's politicians are the descendents of the tribal leaders who were the military leaders that actually fought in battles.

Republican politicians have been queasy about rallying the white middle class, because racism -- or rather the accusation of racism. And, since Reagan, they never could figure out how to rally the white working class. But Trump has squared this circle with his Make America Great Again meme. Racist? Heck no. All he is doing is appealing to Americans as Americans.

But, of course, the people that identify most as American patriots are people from the non-college white community. Of course they do. They cannot identify as globalist evolved educated people, because they don't have the requisite parchment. They cannot identify as white people, because racism. They are no longer the oppressed workers of the industrial age, because they no longer work in factories where they can be organized into class-based labor unions.

Now, if I were one of those people I would feel mighty angry. Because the current lefty thing about "white privilege" and "toxic masculinity" is a lie. White privilege might apply to legacy students at selective colleges, or rich kids that get into college through minor sports like lacrosse and rowing. Or it might apply to this white Cubana that is making a nice career out of attacking whiteness. Or to me, whose father was college educated, although I don't think any of my grandparents had a college education.

But hey, what kind of privilege are we talking about when my father was an electrical engineer, my grandfathers were clerks and small businessmen, and my great grandfathers were dairymen and maltsters? "Very small beer" is what they were.

Certainly I'm privileged compared to the average white middle-class guy or gal that is mid way between a factory job and a corporate Dilbert.

The important thing to know about the Trump supporters is that they, the white middle and working class, are the people that were made to pay for Affirmative Action and Diversity and Inclusion. "White privilege" is the privilege of well-connected youngsters that get to jump the queue. If you think that applies to the average Trumpster, I gotta bridge to sell you. In fact the Trumpsters are the people who did not get those police and fireman jobs when the ruling class decided that the racial profile of the work force in individual occupations had to "look like America." Not to mention the government bureaucrat jobs. This sort of thing tends to make people angry when they find themselves on the receiving end.

Given that few of those white folks at Trump rallies are anything more than the descendants of the 1900 immigrant surge, they might easily feel just a little resentful about all this. Especially because their fathers and mothers were told by Democratic politicians that they, the workers that made this country work, were the very salt of the Earth and had been viciously exploited since... well, since whenever.

Look, I get it. Modern democratic politics is all about marshalling people into fake tribes and then setting them against each other, because "politics is division." So you promise to fight for them, as exploited workers, as discriminated-against minorities, as women victims of the patriarchy. Poor "Litte Darlings," helpless victims of slaveholders, feudal lords, patriarchs, capitalists, colonialists, white supremacists down the ages.

But the thing to remember, when any politician promises to "fight for you" is that the politician doesn't really care about you. He just wants to get elected. And that goes for Trump too.

Best way to understand the modern world is through my reductive Three Peoples theory. Are you from the People of the Subordinate Self, a helpless worker or victim rallied by ambitious politicians and promised a safe and just future? Are you from the People of the Creative Class, looking for a way to be relevant and tempted by the siren call of "activism" to make a difference by rallying the helpless victims for justice? Or are you from the People of the Responsible Self that just wants to build a life by following the rules, going to work, and obeying the law?

The basic thing to understand is that, in the Three Peoples concept, it makes sense that the People of the Creative Self would try to organize the People of the Subordinate Self against the People of the Responsible Self. Why? Because politics is division. And since the People of the Subordinate Self are most easily led because they are actually looking for a leader to lead thm, it makes sense to set them against the middle-class People of the Reponsible Self. So the most-privileged organize a political coalition with the least-privileged against the middling sort of people.

My feeling is that the current global populist movement is a movement against this over-under coalition organized by the progressive "creatives." Really, it only makes sense that at some point the ordinary middle class would discover an identity and find itself an enemy in the college-educated ruling class that has despoiled them for the last 100 years.

And it only makes sense that the college-educated ruling class would be doing everything in its power to strangle the populist movement in its cradle. Because the populist movement is a threat to the power of the educated ruling class. And that cannot stand.

Meanwhile the ordinary white middle and working class goes to Trump rallies to be told that Trump will fight for them.

Friday, October 18, 2019

When the Scientists Disagree, Don't Panic

There's a piece in Quillette about the problems with straight Darwinian evolution. It seems that, based on the assumptions of "random mutation and natural selection" as a complete explanation of the evolution of living things, supposed events like the Cambrian Explosion, when tons of new species evolved in a few million years, could not have happened. But if simple Darwinian evolution doesn't explain the Cambrian Explosion -- or the relatively rapid development of any new species -- then there is a problem.

Now I read that there the a problem in cosmology. Back in the daysscientists used "the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB): the microwave radiation leftover from the first moments after the Big Bang," to compute the Hubble Constant, the measure of the rate of the expansion of the universe. But more recently scientists started computing the Hubble Constant from "supernovas and flashing stars in nearby galaxies, known as Cepheids." And the value of the Hubble Constant using this method is different from the value obtained from the CMB. So that's a problem.

As they say in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Don't Panic!

This is the way of all advances in science, or rather, all human knowledge. It starts with a problem, that current knowledge can't explain everything. The "problem" is always experienced as a scandal by the supporters of the current theory, whether we are talking about biology or cosmology or philosophy or the welfare state.

And, of course, this reaction is central to the argument of Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Kuhn saw the sciences as going through alternating periods of normal science, when an existing model of reality dominates a protracted period of puzzle-solving, and revolution, when the model of reality itself undergoes sudden drastic change. 
Kuhn argues that science is a social undertaking, and that supporters of various theories form communities of knowledge, and that the members of such communities resist any change in the status quo, and thus the only way that the paradigm changes is when the old generation dies off.

Now I think it is pretty obvious that there is something at work in the evolution of species that is not understood by Darwin's theory. Hey kids! That's OK. When we resolve the problem with new knowledge it will be amazing! The problem, of course, is that Darwinism is the basis for modern atheism, so our atheist friends are desperately afraid that a revision of Darwin's theory would undermine their world view and throw them on the waste-heap of history. I understand their fear.

Again, I argue for people to relax. That's because my understanding of "god" is that God is the extremely cunning human resolution of the knowledge problem. We humans need to know the "meaning of life, the universe, and everything" in order to give meaning to our lives and create moral frameworks for our societies. But we don't know "the meaning of life, the universe, and everything" because our knowledge of the universe is incomplete. Therefore we have to compensate for our ignorance by creating a likely story about God and the Creation and so forth. When new knowledge comes along we have to revise our likely story. No Problem!

On this view the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe is just another likely story that extends our current knowledge back as far as we dare. If we have to change that likely story when we create new knowledge to resolve the two different Hubble Constants, No Problem! Chances are that the new theory will not throw existing science in the wastebasket but limit its application in time and space. And the new theory will doubtless open exciting new vistas unimaginable today.

If we have to change the likely story about the evolution of life to accommodate problems like rapid creation of species and their evolution, No Problem. I'm sure that some sort of evolution will persist, but it will not be quite as simple as we thought. And the new theory will likely suggest that living things are more amazing and remarkable that we could ever think in the old days.

But there always is a Problem, because people hate to have to change their religion and their understanding of reality and the meaning of life. That's because people invest their whole human identity in their religion, their faith, and the position in society that they have obtained through the practice of their faith.

Oh Well. Just Don't Panic!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Left Was Never About Optimism

Richard Fernandez has taken to the Wall Street Journal to suggest that the secular humanists are having an existential crisis. Used to be that the left "tended to define progress in terms of material goods," but now the "optimism is gone" and the left is saying that we have to renounce material goods and "think about death."

In other words, things are going to hell in a handbasket, unless we act now.

Actually, I think that the left has always been about the end times, and how we must surrender to the Prophets of Left or suffer and die at the end of the world.

That was what Marx was all about in the second half of the 19th century. Here we had the most remarkable material enrichment in human history -- at least that we know of -- and Marx was saying that it was all a mirage. In fact, unless we acted now, and surrendered to the dictatorship of the proletariat, the bourgeoisie and the capitalists were going to enslave and immiserate us all.

What really is different about the current notion, The Green New Deal?
"Every one of the world's major polluting countries," writes Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker, must "institute draconian conservation measures, shut down most of its energy and transportation infrastructure, and completely retool its economy..."
Used to be that we educated sophisticates would laugh at millennarian religious cults prophesying the end of the world. Har, har, we would laugh, and sneer at the uneducated fundamentalist Christian cults prophesying the end of the world, unless we repent.

Really, educated sophisticates, are you really so unsophisticated not to see the exact parallel between the millennial cults of yesteryear and the current millennial cult of climate change, that it is going to be too late to save the world, unless we act now, or at least within 12 years?

Let us repair to my Maxim, that "the only warrant for government power is existential peril."

The more you think about it the more sensible the idea becomes. Obviously, from time to time, a human community is confronted by an existential peril. Most probably it is the tribe next door that has an appetite for our food stores and our nubile women. But it could be a devastating flood, or a devastating famine. In the face of such a disaster, human communities tend to come together, forget their petty animosities, and work in astonishing unity and community to face the peril.

But look at the situation from the point of view of a religious or a political leader. Almost certainly, you must have a feeling that the community desperately needs to follow your leadership, otherwise the community will wither and die. But if you merely tell people that, hey, looks like we could have a minor problem here, they are going to pat you on the head and say: hey, Bob, maybe next year we should take a look at this. So, in order to get the community to accept your leadership and follow you, you are going to have to amp up the urgency of the problem and the consequent need to follow your inspired leadership.

So if you are a religious leader you are going to be tempted to tell your followers that unless they repent and follow God they are going to rot in Hell. If you are a political leader you are going to say that unless everyone rallies to your banner the community is going to be obliterated -- by enemies (the white supremacists), or by flood (the rising oceans), or by death (runaway global warming). Of course you are.

But what about the rest of us? How do we tell the fake prophets from the true prophets?

I have an idea, that comes to us from all the major religions. If the prophet is a man on a white horse that promises to lead us to glory (and his power), then he is probably a fake prophet. If the prophet is a Sacrificial Hero that dies so that others may live, then it may well be that he is a true prophet.

But you never know, and that is why it seems that with the current arrangement of humans into hundreds, even thousands of communities, the foolish errors of the leaders of one community are unlikely to lead to the death of everyone. So if the community down the road makes a mistake and ruins itself in a fake panic, life goes on for us.

So, back in the day, when Lenin and then Stalin was leading 200 million Russians up a box canyon, the rest of us, happily, did not follow. And when Mao led 500 million Chinese people into the horrific folly of the Great Leap Forward, which was to transform China's rural economy magically into an industrial economy, and then into an evil Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, it was only the hapless Chinese people that were killed and starved. The rest of us went on as usual.

Just as well, because we had just finished killing each other in a couple of World Wars. And what were those wars, about, exactly?

Imagine if our rulers and betters organized the human race into a single global political community under some Great Ruler, and started doing a Lenin or a Mao on us.

Yeah. It wouldn't be easy to escape the criminal, murderous folly.

Thing is: when there is a real crisis, humans are pretty good at rushing to the sound of the guns and helping out. Think Cajun Navy.

So it may be that the best thing to do about existential perils is: Nothing. Because I will bet my nickel that almost always the political or religious cure will turn out to be worse than the disease.

And here is the real ugly truth. If my community is obliterated by murderous thugs, the rest of the world will likely survive. If my community is wiped out in a flood, the folks on higher ground will likely survive. And if my community perishes in a famine, it is likely that elsewhere in the world the food supply will be abundant.

Yes, what is the meaning of life? That I should survive? That my family should survive? That my community should survive? That my country should survive? That humans should survive? That life on Earth should survive?

It's a good question, and I am not sure that anyone has come up with a final answer yet.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Impeachment: What is a High Crime and Misdemeanor?

One thing about the three impeachments of the last 50 years. They were all about niggling little things. The Constitution says, in Article II, Section 4.
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
What about Nixon? What did they threaten to impeach him for? For covering up the Watergate break-in, a foolish effort by overenthusiastic minions to figure out what the Democrats were up to? For that you name and shame and defenestrate a president? Sounds to me that Nixon was just doing politics-as-usual.

What about Clinton? He lied about Monica Lewinsky, sex in the Oval Orifice, as Rush Limbaugh likes to say. Well, of course. As the Democrats said at the time, everyone lies about sex. Especially politicians. That is what makes the "Well I Never" response to the Access Hollywood tape so amusing. Really? Women were allowing themselves to be felt up by Trump? Of course they were. That is what hypergamy is all about: women using their bodies to climb the greasy pole.

Now we have Trump. He is accused of colluding with the Russians to win the 2016 election. Wait, he didn't, although he certainly was using the power of office to blunt the investigation against him. No kidding! But now he's asking the Ukrainians to take a look at all the 2016 shenanigans, including Crowdstrike, the chaps that took a look at the DNC's computers and said the Russians did it. No kidding! He's trying to find out what kind of shenanigans -- collusion to you aficionados -- was going on in 2016 to cause trouble for the Trump campaign. How dare he!

Do any of these things amount to "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors?" I don't think so. They all sound, to me, like politicians committing politics.

Now you may say that politics-in-itself is nothing less than the comission of Treason, Bribery (and how) and all kinds of other High Crimes and Misdemeanors that damage and divide a country. And I would agree with you. It is monstrous how politics and government eat away at the body politics like meat-eating maggots. But the fact is that We the People put up with it. We regard everything the Other Party does as virtual treason. We demand that the politicians bribe us with our own money. And as for high Crimes and Misdemeanors? Well, what would that be? Probably not hiding the criminal antics of some low-level campaign aides. Probably not doing cigar things with Monica Lewinsky. Probably not requesting a bit of help from the Ukrainians.

What about the other famous impeachment, that of President Andrew Johnson? La Wik:
The primary charge against Johnson was violation of the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress in March 1867, over his veto. Specifically, he had removed from office Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War—whom the Act was largely designed to protect—and attempted to replace him with Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas.
Well, who's a naughty boy then? Congress was trying to prevent Johnson from firing a Cabinet officer. Wouldn't that be a violation of the Separation of Powers, meddling with a president's right to staff his own administration? Sounds like a put-up job.

So the point is that Impeachment in these United States has always been used as a purely political weapon, a manifestation of severe partisan discord and the attempt to stick it to the other guys. It is a reflection of high partisan feeling. So that's all right.

My guess is that a president that did something really wrong would never get impeached. After all, if there is one thing that politicians are pretty good at it is knowing how far they can go. And the whole point of partisan politics is to whitewash what Our Guys do and blacken what the Other Guys do. Our Guy is the best president since sliced bread. The Other Guy is the worst president since slavery was invented.

So here is my analysis.

Reading the background to Andrew Johnson it seems that he was a Democrat opposed to secession and opposed to the punishment of the South demanded by the Radical Republicans. So he was not vengeful enough for the radicals.

In the Nixon impeachment the Democrats were beside themselves that a sleazy guy like him could be elected president -- the guy that accused Jerry Voorhis and Helen Gahagan Douglas of being pinkos: the Nerve! And then he got reelected! How could that happen in 1970s America? So he had to go.

In the Clinton impeachment the Republicans were just saying: sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as they got a Republican Congress for the first time in 40 years. You impeach Nixon; we impeach Clinton. Get used to it.

In the Trump impeachment the Democrats are saying that it is inconceivable that Americans could vote in a guy like Trump. There must be something sleazy going on. Nobody like Trump could be elected in a proper election, not after America had elected its First Black President.

See what I mean? Impeachment is always and everywhere a put-up job, reflecting the particular and poisonous rage of the partisans at the time.

The question is: could we ever impeach and remove a president that really had committed "high Crimes and Misdemeanors?" Frankly, I doubt it.

But there is always the next election.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Suppose Nancy and Co Have to Do Impeachment?

Suppose the Democrats dropped the impeachment thingy. What would happen?

Obviously, one of two things. Or maybe both, arising from the sense of betrayal in the Democratic base. 

How could you, dear leaders, after all this time, just throw up your hands about the eevil Trump? For nearly three years, Democrats have assured their base that tomorrow -- well, next week at the latest -- we will have the "bombshell" that proves that... Yes what exactly? So, if the Democrats folded their tents and went home, the base would be saying: "well, if there's nothing to see here, why did you recruit us and train us, and send us into battle?"

It's the same problem that a nation state faces in the middle of a war. Can the nation's leaders tell their people that, well, OK, we thought this war was a good idea at the time, but now it looks like it's a mistake, so we are going to stop the war and send the soldiers home. You can see that very few political leaders would ever dare to do that. Except Donald Trump who just decided to pack up the Syria thing and go home.

First, the Democratic base might lose heart. That would be bad for Democrats, because half the game of winning elections is turning out your supporters. For that the supporters either have to be enthused about their leadership, or angry at the opposition, or both. Without enthusiasm, without anger, bye bye winning the election.

Second, the Democrat base might get angry -- at the Democratic leadership. What would the base do? Well, I imagine they would up their support for e.g., the Democratic Socialists of America. This would not be good for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's successful strategy of recruiting moderate candidates to run in Trump-supporting districts. It's a delicate business, running nice moderate candidates in moderate districts and making sure that voters don't associate their moderate candidate with the fire-breathers of the "Squad" and the climate change extremists and the racist Revs. and the LGBT advocates. So the Democratic base might start primarying moderate Democrats with lefty extremists. OK, they already are. But obviously, if they feel betrayed by the Democrat leadership they will do more of it.

Either way, I'd say the Democrats are batting on a bit of a sticky wicket. What they should have doné, back on November 8, 2016, is concede the election to Donald Trump. That's the way things are supposed to work in a democracy, especially in a normal change election. It is very rare for a party to win three presidential elections in a row: get used to it! Then, after a season in which the seasoned elders of the party analyze the election you put the pot on the stove again and slowly bring up the heat in time to get the base really worked up for the next election.

Actually, I think that the Democrats are batting on a bit of a sticky wicket all around. That's because the whole welfare state is reaching its sell-by date. Look, I get that all elections are about offering free stuff, loot and plunder. But the problem is that once you have done the easy stuff, like free education and pensions and health care for the aged and poor and you have already sucked up 40 percent of GDP, what do you do for an encore? What the left has been doing for an encore is riling up the educated with religious frenzies like climate change and riling up small but motivated minorities like blacks, feminists, and gays with the fear that the white supremacists are out to get them. Notice that this is a bit different from riling up the vast majority of voters back in the day when the working class was a majority of voters.

I'd say that the majority of voters today are ordinary wage-earning middle class people that are not moved by the religious frenzies of the educated elite and not particularly moved by identity politics. Obviously, these are the people that Donald Trump has targeted in his campaign and his presidency: to encourage everyone to think of themselves as proud Americans. This strategy beckons to minorities to venture forth out of their ethnic enclaves into the broad American mainstream. And it cocks a snook at the educated elite that thinks of themselves as above the crude culture of nationalism, darling.

Putting this in terms of my reductive Three Peoples theory, I would say that People of the Creative Self need something more that a responsible life to give meaning to their lives, so they tend towards moral movements that insist there is something to life beyond the mere material. People of the Responsible Self are people for whom ordinary wiving and thriving is enough of a challenge, thank you very much. And People of the Subordinate Self are people barely making it in their lives, looking for any rock to hang onto.

In my view, it is fine for People of the Creative Self to yearn for a deeper meaning in life, but not on my dime, pal. And it is fine for People of the Responsible Self to focus on the basics of obeying the law, going to work, and following the rules, but I would gently suggest to them to raise their eyes occasionally to the horizon. And it is understandable for the People of the Subordinate Self to grab any sort of free stuff that is going, but maybe there is something more stable and less desperate than grabbing out at whatever is going.

Yeah, what a concept: raise you gaze a little!

But meanwhile the Democrats have laid their bed with the scratchy, flea-infested rug of impeachment, and they have nothing else to keep them warm at night.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Men Want Victory, Women Want Beauty

Ever since I realized that women are not particularly interested in creativity, which rather blows up my notion of the People of the Creative Self, I have been casting around for something, anything, to make sense of the world again.

Anyway, I was lunching with a friend and she opined about the importance, to her, of beauty. As we parted I made a comment about trying to understand why women like beauty, for we agreed that beauty doesn't seem that important to men.

So here we are, with women as Learners, Carers, Teachers, and men as Creators, Fighters, Destroyers.

But what do women want? Beauty.

OK, fair is fair. What do men want? I think, based on my recent visit to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, where everything is Nike, Nike, Nike (that is, Νίκη, or Nikky in classical Greek) when it isn't Athena, Athena, Athena (that is Αθηνα in Greek). And when you combine the two you get the temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis just down from the Parthenon, but perching on the edge of the rock, right by the Propylaea. Yes, Men want Victory.

This is an interesting contrast, because it shows how the two sexes want completion in their different ways. Woman wants eternity frozen in the perfection of beauty, in herself and in her surroundings. Man wants eternity frozen in the moment when he has conquered the foe, or completed a project or work of art. Winning, as Donald Trump says.

Now, I experience woman's day-to-day life as one of busy-ness, the moment-to-moment business of looking after a home, caring for children, interacting with other women, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. (Of course, when women go into the workforce they do the same, only different). And, there is the eternal project of self-beautification and adornment. You can see that the ideal of this life would be for all the busy-ness and bother to coalesce into a perfect flow, an intersection of all the busy-ness into a perfect arrangement of everything: Beauty (that is Καλλος, Kallos, in classical Greek).

So how does this intersect with my reductive Three Peoples theory, and its notion of the People of the Creative Self? Good question.

I would say that women who are People of the Creative Self are women that strive to achieve Beauty, the ideal of momentary alignment and perfection, by creative means, or by creating a household of perfect beauty and children of perfect promise or even by "career". So, when you encounter a woman who seems to be a creative, you should understand what motivates her, what she is doing with her learning, caring, and teaching: getting to Beauty by creative means.

I would say that men who are People of the Creative Self are men that strive to achieve Victory, the ideal of momentary completion and dominance, by creative means. This could be military victory, sporting victory, corporate victory, artistic victory, you name it. But nike, nike, nike, all the way. So when you encounter a man who seems to be a creative, you should understand what motivates him, what he is doing with his creating, fighting, and destructing: getting to Victory by creative means.

But what about women that are People of the Responsible Self? I would say they strive for Beauty by conventional means, following the rules and roles that they have learned from their mother and their schooling.

But what about women that are People of the Subordinate Self? I suppose they would strive for Beauty as defined by their lord.

So there. I'd say we have just solved all the problems of the world. Until tomorrow.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Leading Under Combat Conditions

Scott Johnson blogs at Powerline and he's been one of the guys pulling apart the Rep. Omar (D-MN) shenanigans. Which the Minneapolis home town paper, the Star Tribune, has not. Hey Strib guys, what's yer problem?

But Scott got a call from President Trump's people to attend last night's presidential rally in Minneapolis, and got to meet the president.
My wife told the president she doesn’t understand how he can do what he is doing while under nonstop assault. “I don’t either,” he said. It was both self-deprecating and funny.
Of course, it is this quality of the president to "keep his head," as memorialized by Rudyard Kipling in "If--" that makes him a leader.
If you can keep your head when all about you 
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
It is, of course, in particular, a male quality, this question of courage under fire. The opposite is a squib about millennials and Generation Z, about half of whom have quit a job over "mental health" issues.

But really, the only thing men are good for is to have courage under fire. And even the best of us have their limit. It is said, for instance that a man cannot endure more than 100 days in combat. He goes through three stages: thinking "it won't happen to me," then thinking "it's bound to happen to me," and finally "why hasn't it happened to me?" After 100 days, the combat soldier goes mad -- battle fatigue, shell shock, mental health issues, PTSD.

This is related to honor among men, which is the reputation for standing in line with your brothers in battle.

There is a vignette in the first of Solzhenitzin's First World War novels of a Russian general utterly confused and paralyzed by the hurricane of battle reports coming in. But the essence of generalship is to keep your head in the chaos and thunder of battle.

We saw that problem in the US Civil War when the vacillating Gen. McClelland was replaced by Gen. Grant. President Lincoln said of Grant in response to critics: "I can't spare this man, he fights!"

Herman Wouk's novel The Caine Mutiny is precisely about leaders failing to "keep their head" as ship captains when the bullets are flying, or the ship is on its beam ends in the middle of a typhoon.

It is a quality that I do not claim to have. That is one reason that I have not attempted to beome a leader of men.

It is the big question relating to women CEOs and presidents. When I was a glider pilot, I read about the problem with training women pilots. If ever a woman pilot gets frightened, she's done with flying. A man will go out next day and do it again.

This is not shameful; it is obvious. Women are genetically programmed to keep out of danger and keep the children alive. Men are programmed to get out on the front line and protect the women and children from harm.

So why, you ask, was Margaret Thatcher such a fearless politician and leader? I can only say that she was an outlier, fearless and determined enough to plug away for ten years trying to get elected to Parliament, and then dealing with what we now call the "toxic male" culture in the House of Commons when she became a minister. I think that she taught herself to become a man.

But, scientists say, when women reach 30 percent of any community, they transform it into a woman-friendly culture. That is what all the stuff about "microaggressions" and "safe spaces" in college is about. It is about women administrators creating and enforcing a woman-friendly culture to replace the male confrontation culture. I suspect that this will cause problems down the road.

Trouble is that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. If they don't then, as Bugs Bunny says, it's "curtains."

Among all the problems that leftism has created for the world over the last century -- the millions of dead, the slave regimes, the cultural brutalities of left-wing hegemony -- the problem of women in the public square is just one.

Because there will always be a need for leaders with the inexahustible courage of President Trump. And yet, not always. Because if every president were a Trump, lord knows what sort of trouble they would get us into.

But then, the GOP voters would not have nominated Donald Trump unless we felt that we needed a leader to go mano-a-mano with the left after the leftward shift encouraged by President Obama. Back in the day we nominated "happy warrior" Reagan, and kinder, gentler Bushes, and the worthy Romney to be our leaders. By 2016 we had decided that it wasn't working. We needed a Grant, not a McClelland. So we nominated our Grant and he fought for us, and he won.

So now President Trump is touring the land speaking to his supporters at venues like the 20,000 seat Target Center in Minneapolis. He is obviously working to raise enthusiasm for his leadership as King Henry V once did with his "Once more unto the breach" speech imagined by Shakespeare.

We will see if this is the leadership that the American people want next November.