A few thoughts on politics and the actual meaning of clown metaphors

Here’s something by Jim Geraghty of the National Review:

Let me offer a thought that every conservative should contemplate, even though it’s one we would rather avoid: What if the American people don’t want smaller government that spends less?

This is where we usually hear talk about how small-government conservatives need “better messaging.” Or someone will insist that there’s a broad desire for a smaller government that spends less, but those Washington insiders and establishment sold out the conservative agenda. But what if Americans have heard the arguments for smaller government, understand the arguments — or understand them as well as they’re ever going to — and have rejected them?

Does a country where the popular vote in the last six elections went for Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Bush, Obama and Obama really crave smaller government?

Polling indicates that 70 percent want a smaller deficit . . . but the only spending cut that gets anywhere near a majority support is to foreign aid — about one percent of the budget — and even that’s close to an even split. “For 18 of 19 programs tested, majorities want either to increase spending or maintain it at current levels.” People want smaller government right up until the point where it actually affects them.

The current Republican front-runner is running against entitlement reform:

Trump opposes any cuts to Social Security and Medicare — and Medicaid, for that matter. In April, at the New Hampshire Republican Leadership Summit, Trump criticized his fellow Republicans for proposing reforms of the entitlement programs that are bankrupting the country: “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that.” Medicare and Social Security alone face more than $69.1 trillion in unfunded liabilities, but Trump insists that the programs can be saved without cuts. “All these other people want to cut the hell out of it,” Trump said of Social Security. “I’m not going to cut it at all. I’m going to bring money in, and we’re going to save it.

1. It’s meaningless to talk about public opinion on “big government.”  The public doesn’t even understand what the term means.  You might think that big government means Social Security, Medicare, tariffs on Chinese goods, etc., but I assure you that this is now how Americans view the concept.  And since their views on taxes and spending are impossible to meet, in a very real sense they have no opinion.  Or you could say that their opinions could never be enacted, so politicians might just as well ignore them, and instead consider how the public would react to various options that the policymakers are actually contemplating.  That’s where public opinion matters.

2. To a libertarian like me, conservatism that discards the “small government” component represents 100% pure unadulterated evil.  But it would make life much simpler.  I could simply go with the liberal tribe, and no more lame explanations that “I’m conservative on economics and liberal on other issues.”  In my view, Trump is running on a platform of pure evil.

3.  It’s common for the policy preferences of candidates to not add up.  But I’ve never seen a gap anywhere near as large as with Trump.  His statement that he’s going to “bring money in” is almost comically at variance with his tax plan, which basically says “no one should have to pay any taxes“, or at least something pretty close to that.  Since he also favors much more government spending, his plan would bankrupt the country far faster than the plans of Bush, Rubio, etc.  So it’s a nonstarter, which means we basically don’t know anything about what a President Trump would actually do.  Probably the best way to try to figure that out would be to look at what he said before he was a candidate.  I recall he praised Hillary, and thus suspect a President Trump would be essentially an even more macho version of President Hillary Clinton. Or even Obama. Obviously I may be wrong, but whatever he does, it clearly won’t be the issues he’s campaigning on. He won’t expel the illegals (who would pick the fruits and vegetables?) or stop imports from China.

4.  The support for Trump is partly due to the tendency of GOP leaders in Congress to cave on spending issues.  They are viewed as “pussies”.  Trump avoids that problem by promising to be a big spender.  Seriously, where does his support come from?  It comes from those who want to turn the GOP into a European populist party—big government plus xenophobia and macho behavior.  Sarah Palin (who once nearly came to be one heartbeat from the Presidency) says Trump won’t “pussyfoot” around.  But we have a two party system, which is why I continue to predict failure for the GOP in 2016. The Dems can rally around utilitarianism, and politely disagree on whether to follow the Clinton or Sanders versions, whereas the GOP can’t even agree on core values.  Eventually this will sort itself out; in a two party system the two parties always take turns over the longer run.  But the “against utilitarianism” party has a really difficult time right now, especially given that many of its brightest members are approximately right wing utilitarians (at least on economics.)  Geraghty may think that Americans have turned away from small government, but a sizable bloc of the GOP most certainly has not.  A GOP that got rid of the small government faction would have little ability to attract talented people like Greg Mankiw.  (He’s already implied that Trump has a quasi-fascist approach to politics, and I’d guess that’s a pretty serious negative in Mankiw’s eyes.) Recall the recent election where Le Pen came in second in the first round of voting, and lost the general election 75% to 25%.  It wouldn’t be that bad here (Le Pen had to run against the moderate right) but they’d have a hard time getting to 50%.  It’s OK to have a party that’s toxic to intellectuals, and gets 20% to 30% of the vote . . . in Europe. That’s a pretty successful party in a multi-party democracy.  But in the US two party system that won’t work.  The GOP has a lot of work ahead of it.

5.  Someone will have to put Humpty Dumpty back together again in 2017.  I suspect that Paul Ryan will become the de facto leader of the GOP at that time.  It will be interesting to see what he tries to do with the remnants of the party (which might well still control the House.)

6.  You could argue that Ted Cruz is a small government version of Trump, and also a very skilled debater.  If in the end Cruz is not able to beat Trump, it wouldn’t necessarily mean GOP voters like big government, but it would at least suggest the issue is not very high on their radar screen.

7.  Just to be clear, I do not believe that the mainstream candidates (Bush, Rubio, Kasich, Christie, etc.) would bring smaller government to America.

PS.  Of course I was joking when I said Trump proposes to eliminate taxes.  But Trump also likes to clown around; indeed I’ve argued he’s running as a clown.  Here’s the actual plan:

1. If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households – over 50% – from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, “I win,” those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each.

The loss of revenue will be “offset” by massively lower taxes on the upper middle class and wealthy.  And a massive tax cut for corporations.  And more entitlement spending.  With Trump, we’ll all “win”, even the hedge fund guys.  A nation of winners.  Hey, what could go wrong?

Anyone who doesn’t see that Trump is a clown is not paying attention.  Read “I win” 100 times in a row, until it sinks in as to what his game is.  Yes, he’s quite smart when he takes the clown costume off, but so are many circus clowns.  If I wanted to call him dumb, I would not use the clown metaphor.

PPS.  I was completely wrong about Trump’s prospects a few months back (and Paul Krugman was right), so no one should take my views on politics at all seriously.


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118 Responses to “A few thoughts on politics and the actual meaning of clown metaphors”

  1. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    21. January 2016 at 10:09

    Trump has electrolytes!

  2. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 10:42

    You brought a smile to my face with this one Scott. Thanks, it’s my birthday, so that’s a good gift.

    I especially liked this bit:

    “2. To a libertarian like me, conservatism that discards the “small government” component represents 100% pure unadulterated evil. But it would make life much simpler. I could simply go with the liberal tribe, and no more lame explanations that “I’m conservative on economics and liberal on other issues.” In my view, Trump is running on a platform of pure evil.”

    I don’t consider myself a libertarian like you, but I’m not a libertarian hater either, especially if they’re “practical.” I do like your utilitarian ideas generally.

    But what really tickled me there was the “100% pure unadulterated evil” phrase… that phrase goes through my head all the time!!… and not about Trump (though I’m no fan). It cracks me up because it’s so extreme. I’m glad I’m not the only one with such thoughts!

    But if Trump is running on “pure evil” is there any room on his “right(?)” for a platform of 100% pure unadulterated evil?? ;D

  3. Gravatar of Njnnja Njnnja
    21. January 2016 at 10:55

    But if Trump is running on “pure evil” is there any room on his “right(?)” for a platform of 100% pure unadulterated evil?? ;D

    There’s the old joke: Cthulhu for President. Why choose the lesser evil?

  4. Gravatar of Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
    21. January 2016 at 10:55

    Interesting article. You aren’t really a libertarian Scott. If you thought the invisible hand of self interest got it right all the time you would not dump on the corrupt Fed so much. :) You are clowning around there!

    But I have a serious question. Assuming that it would be ok for the Fed to buy other assets than bonds (that bond buying doesn’t work so well), wouldn’t people appreciate an honest attempt to raise asset prices a bit, rather than the Fed sneaking around mispricing risk by bogus copulas?

    Mispricing risk is so dishonest, such a lie. People don’t respect the central banks for adopting Li’s copula at Basel 2. They look upon the Fed, at least I do, as a criminal organization, a private one too! But at least, with honest asset inflation, they could just tell us they are going to buy 100,000 houses, or so many barrels of oil, or so many REIT stocks, and be upfront about it, right?

  5. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 11:27

    Maybe it’s time for the GOP to split in two? Seriously. It might be the best for everybody. Unfortunately that’s always proven to be unstable in the past, but I could see a three party system with two parties allying themselves against the 3rd on an issue by issue basis. Things might actually get done, and those things might not be maximally insane. And if the non-insane members of the current GOP were to concentrate in one of the two new parties, I might even be persuaded to vote for them occasionally.

  6. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 11:28

    Njnnja, I’d never heard that one. I love it!

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. January 2016 at 11:31

    Tom, You said:

    “Maybe it’s time for the GOP to split in two?”

    The problem is the two party systems, which forces dumb policies on us the way the old three network TV system used to force dumb TV shows on us.

  8. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    21. January 2016 at 11:39

    Anyone who doesn’t see that Trump is a clown is not paying attention.

    Or, I think your metaphors are part of your bag of tricks even as you deny having bag of tricks.

    Michael Kinsley was marveling at poll results such as the ones you quote a generation ago. It’s no surprise people polled advocate contradictory or nonsensical things. No one’s asking them to make real decisions or trade-offs. Survey research can only illuminate so many things. Your friends whose book is resource economics can discourse on that at length. It’s not that they ‘have no opinion’, its that the question is not and cannot be structured in such a way that their actual preferences emerge.

    It’s not a useless activity to rummage through Trump’s position papers. They’ll tell you what his interests are (or what his guises and poses are). They’re not a guide to likely policy because everything crashes into the permanent government (in this case A.M. McConnell, lying Chamber-of-Commerce shill). They do differentiate to some degree Trump’s interests from Rubio’s. There’s a reason that sophisticated students of political life like R.M. Kaus are congenial toward Trump: it’s their wager that he’s their best shot regarding their issues.

    Republican voters are not Republican combox participants. “Big government” and “small government” are signals and slogans and do not have much semantic content (bar for a tiny corps of alt-right types like Thomas Woods). People who fancy terms like ‘small government’ are likely behind Cruz anyway. Some are not, but believe other things take precedence at this time (which is one interpretation of Gov. Palin’s endorsement).

    It’s not going to come as a surprise to many of us that libertarians employed in the academy are fundamentally antagonistic to important things we value and much more in tune with the rest of the arts and sciences faculty than they’d care to admit in certain fora.

  9. Gravatar of Nick Nick
    21. January 2016 at 11:48

    I don’t think it’s the two party system at work here, prof sumner. Although that is a good answer as to why the GOP doesn’t just split. As you wrote, though the sum of Trump’s policy positions is essentially undefined, his style and appeal closely mirror that of European right wing ‘populist’ parties. And we ses in Europe that multi-party politics encourage the formation of ‘big government’ right wing parties.
    I would say the two party system in the US has forced the right wing to be more pro ‘small government’ than it otherwise might have been. Our zero-sum two party system encourages each party to define itself in opposition to the other. So if left wingers tend to split 80-20 for ‘big government’ and the right is split 50-50, over time ‘small government’ intellectuals find themselves disproportionately draw to the right. Then crass political concerns during left wing executive rule add tactical heft to their arguments, and a lopsided influence for ‘small government’ policies develops.

  10. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 12:18

    “who would pick the fruits and vegetables?”

    -I thought sophisticated economists said illegals don’t lower wages? And the unemployment rate in Fresno is 9.7%.

    PPS. I was completely wrong about Trump’s prospects a few months back (and Paul Krugman was right), so no one should take my views on politics at all seriously.

    -Yess!!! We got an admission.

    To a libertarian like me, conservatism that discards the “small government” component represents 100% pure unadulterated evil. But it would make life much simpler. I could simply go with the liberal tribe, and no more lame explanations that “I’m conservative on economics and liberal on other issues.” In my view, Trump is running on a platform of pure evil.

    1. You’re a part-time libertarian, not a full-time one (Mises and Rothbard were both full-time). If you were a full-time libertarian, you’d demand the abolition of the Federal Reserve. And conservatism without the small government is generally worse than conservatism with, but it’s hardly 100% pure unadulterated evil.

    Trump is running on the best platform a credible Republican presidential candidate currently has at the moment. Christie is running on the worst.

    Hey, what could go wrong?

    -As long as monetary policy raises NGDP growth to a reasonably high number, nothing.

    What if the American people don’t want smaller government that spends less?

    -We get something like Bush II or Lyndon Johnson.

    Sarah Palin (who once nearly came to be one heartbeat from the Presidency)

    -No, she didn’t. Enough with these falsehoods; the 2008 election was a guaranteed Hillary or Obama win simply due to the Iraq War. The election year recession was simply icing on the cake. I was there, and I remember it.

    “The Dems can rally around utilitarianism”

    -They’re not. Many of them are rallying around expropriating the expropriators.

    They are viewed as “pussies”. Trump avoids that problem by promising to be a big spender.

    -This is a really brilliant point, which I didn’t quite consciously realize before. Yes, part of Trump’s credibility is due precisely to the fact people don’t like spending cuts, and Republicans like promises of spending cuts disappearing in real life even less. Remove those two problems, and you have yourself a candidate who, while making false claims all the time, is surprisingly honest about this issue.

    IMO all the over-3% Republican candidates except Trump are pure, unadulterated evil. Trump is just adulterated evil, which we can live with.

    Mankiw is in no important way small government. Just anti-anti-neoliberal.

    a cult of action, a celebration of aggressive masculinity, an intolerance of criticism, a fear of difference and outsiders, a pitch to the frustrations of the lower middle class, an intense nationalism and resentment at national humiliation, and a “popular elitism” that promises every citizen that they’re part of “the best people of the world.”

    -Sounds a lot like Andrew Jackson, TR, and Putin. Hardly fascist.

    Value-added taxes are small-government these days?

    Just to be clear, I do not believe that the mainstream candidates (Bush, Rubio, Kasich, Christie, etc.) would bring smaller government to America.

    -Good. At least you get that part. There are no Republicans running and polling above 3% today without obviously stupid policy proposals. Trump’s are the least evil.

  11. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 12:36

    Scott, regarding more than two parties: I would LOVE IT if there were a center-right “practical” party that was:

    1. Committed to secularism (secular theists are fine: I’m just sick of theocrats and endless blather about God & “faith”)

    2. Appreciative and supportive of science.

    3. Dismissive of conspiracy theories and internet rumors.

    4. Practical and pro sensible compromise. Utilitarian.

    5. Contemptuous of emotionalism and clown like behavior.

    6. Fond of incrementalism and suspicious of extremists, fundamentalists, purity freaks, radicals and revolutionaries.

    I’d guess that such a party could draw votes from current Democratic supporters. It might start small, but it has real growth potential! Id definitely consider it and be glad for the choice!

  12. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    21. January 2016 at 12:49

    If Japan conducts continuous QE and gets inflation below target…then is there a way Trump makes sense?

    Why not cut taxes and offset deficits through QE?Where is the inflation?

    And who is nuts? Kasich is proposing 15 aircraft carrier groups, up from 12. The Gerald Ford carrier has cost $12.7 billion and may be put into service in a few years. Aircraft carrier groups are offensive weapon systems. The US faces no military threats.

    If Trump is nuts…well, he is in with the cashews and macademias.

  13. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 12:49

    BTW, what would be the opposite of Trump?

    “a cult of inaction, a celebration of aggressive femininity, a tolerance of criticism, a braving of difference and outsiders, a pitch to the frustrations of the upper middle class, an intense anti-nationalism and cherishing at national humiliation, and a “popular anti-elitism” that promises every citizen that they’re part of “the worst people of the world.”

    -Basically, an exaggerated Sanders or Obama.

  14. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 12:51

    And Tom, I like your first two, but none of the others.

  15. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 12:57

    @E. Harding,

    Then probably such a party would not be for you.

  16. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 13:02

    … on balance anyway.

  17. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    21. January 2016 at 13:12

    And since their views on taxes and spending are impossible to meet, in a very real sense they have no opinion.

    Which is why you cannot do anything about the debt until the bond market starts to get nervous about US T-bills.

    BTW Also nothing much happens on AGW until serious problems are unambiguously caused by it.

  18. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    21. January 2016 at 13:13

    -Basically, an exaggerated Sanders or Obama.

    No. Bryan Caplan.

  19. Gravatar of Steven Kopits Steven Kopits
    21. January 2016 at 13:18

    Let’s go back to first principles here.

    If the individual is a utility maximizer, he will want more stuff for less money, ideally, for free.

    Now, government spending has three aspects. The spending itself–free stuff–which people like.

    Then there are taxes, which people don’t like.

    And then there’s debt, which people can’t really feel.

    Because of this latter non-market failure, politicians will prefer to provide free stuff–spending–without resorting to stuff people don’t like–like taxes. That’s why the Paul Ryan $680 bn spending plan, best I can tell, is funded entirely by debt.

    If people really wanted bigger government, the agreed Ryan deal would have been funded by taxes.

    The underlying liberal (libertarian) critique does not revolve principally around the size of government, in my opinion. Rather, the critique stems from the mismatching of spending to revenues. The person paying the taxes is not the person receiving government benefits. That’s why markets are almost always preferred–barring public goods and externalities–in the classical liberal critique. You only buy something if you value it more than it costs you in money.

    If Jim Geraghty wanted to be internally consistent, then he would say that you should get 1 vote for every $1 you pay in taxes. Then at least we would be matching spending to revenues in tax levels, if not in specific spending decisions. Now, if Geraghty believes that the size of government would increase in such an event, well, I think he is smoking quite a lot of dope.

  20. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    21. January 2016 at 13:29

    Scott, regarding more than two parties: I would LOVE IT if there were a center-right “practical” party that was:

    1. Committed to secularism (secular theists are fine: I’m just sick of theocrats and endless blather about God & “faith”)

    You’re not sick of ‘theocrats’. There are no theocrats. You’re sick of religious people, particularly religious people who would like to be left alone by the legal profession, the educational apparat, and the social work apparat (and that means not paying the jiziya to support a state school system run by people who condescend to them when they do not despise them, among other things). Religious people also point out that contemporary jurisprudence is a fraud, that the judiciary is filled with assholes. It’s also the contention of religious people that law and public policy shouldn’t regard the self-assessment of exhibitionistic sexual deviants as normative. Whether you’re sick of them or not, there is no ‘neutral’ resolution to most of these disputes, or the neutral resolution is one explicitly rejected and enjoined by the legal profession.

    2. Appreciative and supportive of science.

    Sorry, Prof. Whoziwhat’s it can win a fellowship to work for the military or the Bureau of Labor Statistics or hit up the Ford Foundation. If he insists he needs government money, we’ll scrawl the address of his state capitol on an envelope and send him on his way.

    3. Dismissive of conspiracy theories and internet rumors.

    An inclination to trade in conspirazoid thinking and internet memes is a psychological disposition, not an ideological one.

    4. Practical and pro sensible compromise. Utilitarian.

    That’s a disposition, not a programme. (And well nigh impossible with the current incumbent unless you’re talking elite conspiracies against the public, which the parties manage quite well, thank you.

    5. Contemptuous of emotionalism and clown like behavior.

    That’s matter of taste. You’re also telling people you don’t mind hucksterism if it’s done elegantly (see Jack Kennedy).

    6. Fond of incrementalism and suspicious of extremists, fundamentalists, purity freaks, radicals and revolutionaries.

    See above regarding the latter. The only person I’m aware of whose ‘fond of incrementalism’ is an annoying political scientist named Michael Hayes. There’s no virtue to partial solutions. These are merely accommodation to circumstance.

    I’d guess that such a party could draw votes from current Democratic supporters. It might start small, but it has real growth potential! Id definitely consider it and be glad for the choice!

    No, it would draw from annoying bourgeois types.

  21. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    21. January 2016 at 13:32

    “The problem is the two party systems, which forces dumb policies on us the way the old three network TV system used to force dumb TV shows on us.”

    I don’t think this has much to do with a two party system. It’s just how politics and democracies work. People are dumb, they want dumb policies. A multi-party system is usually much worse. Trust me on this. It makes democracies really unstable sooner or later.

    The US is a pretty vital democracy. In no other relevant country I know there are so many candidates for the presidency every time. It’s a really tough unpredictable competition. Remember when Reagan or Obama won? People forgot how Reagan was laughed at in the beginning and even years after he was President. They also called him ‘clown’ all the time. Even when he was President. Similar things happened when Bush was President. They even drew Bush as an ape in so-called ‘caricatures’. Do that with Obama and there’s an outrage.

    This time it could be Trump vs. Sanders. This would be so funny. Maybe it’s a sign of decadence when two guys like this fight it off, maybe not, who can really tell? It felts a bit like Nero in Rome but you’ll never now for sure until you elect one of them.

    I’m also not buying the hysteria. In every election the media is calling a major contender clown and dumb and racist and whatever. It’s a bit like when people keep calling other people Nazi and Fascist all the time. It get’s dull pretty fast and soon enough people don’t buy it anymore. For good reasons.

    I’m rooting for Ted Cruz at the moment. From what I’ve seen so far he seems to be the best man for the job. But even Trump would not be the end of the world. Maybe Hillary would be even worse. Not to mention Sanders.

  22. Gravatar of jonathan jonathan
    21. January 2016 at 14:00

    Oh, Trump’s laid out an economic plan alright. He’s going to build a wall across the southern border. Talk about fiscal stimulus! Say goodbye to secular stagnation.

    Remember how liberals used to say that Bush invaded Iraq to help out his buddies in the oil industry? Now we have a former developer proposing a massive giveaway to the construction industry. Kick the illegal immigrants out, and those jobs go to American workers. Talk about rebuilding the middle class!

    I’m just waiting for the endorsements from Krugman, Summers, and Reich.

  23. Gravatar of Nopa Nopa
    21. January 2016 at 14:02

    Democrats aren’t going to raise taxes and Republicans aren’t going to cut spending.

    But they will sure roll debt over and kick the can down the road.

  24. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    21. January 2016 at 14:07

    I showed your post to my friend, who is a Trump supporter and he says that of the candidates that can win Trump is the most likely to leave the middle east. He also sure Trump’s tax and spending plans are unrealistic but so are all the other candidates tax and spending plans, and so what that Trump’s are more unrealistic. Does not add up does not add up no matter by how much.

  25. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    21. January 2016 at 14:08

    Now we have a former developer proposing a massive giveaway to the construction industry.

    There’s no ‘givaway’. We let out a contract, they build a wall. We get the wall. That you do not want the wall is immaterial. (While we’re at it, we built 38,000 miles worth of Interstate highways, so a 2,000 mile long wall shouldn’t break the bank).

  26. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 14:09

    “I’m also not buying the hysteria. In every election the media is calling a major contender clown and dumb and racist and whatever. It’s a bit like when people keep calling other people Nazi and Fascist all the time. It get’s dull pretty fast and soon enough people don’t buy it anymore. For good reasons.”

    -Bingo. And as usual with these cases, it is based on a grain of truth: Trump does get at least 80% of the American neo-Nazi/fascist/White Nationalist vote.

    Ted Cruz is dangerously incoherent on foreign and monetary policy. He’s a distant second best.

  27. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 14:33

    @E Harding
    Love your anti-Trump observation

    What’s interesting is that Trump really isn’t all that extreme on anything but immigration. As best I can tell he’s utterly centrist on just about every economic and social policy out there. Promising to spend more and tax less is what every single politician does, they all have to reign it in once elected. His foreign policy is firmly in the non-interventionist camp.

    He’s not even particularly racist. He says no outright racist things. He has celebrity black friends, he says he wants everyones vote, he doesn’t talk about HBD or have particularly negative comments for anyone. To whatever extent he is racist, its a purely private affair and directed only against illegal immigrants (not even citizen Hispanics get he ire). Seems closer to Steve Sailers “citizenism” rather then pure racism.

    The only issue on which he dissents from the mainstream is immigration. When did the entire elite consensus decide that importing millions violent low IQ unassimilable net liabilities was the most important thing in the entire world to them, the sole determinate of not just politics, but good and evil in their eyes?

    “The Dems can rally around utilitarianism”

    What’s utilitarian about importing a violent low IQ slave/parasite class?

    Utilitarianism isn’t a belief system anyone will die for, and its especially absurd of a philosophy when your #1 value has negative utility. I think this should read:

    “People like me can rally around the short term utilitarian interests of other elites and sycophants.”

    Reading through Trump’s policy papers is a waste of time, I doubt Trump has even read those things. Most of this policies will end up being rather centrist things that he can get past Congress, quite frankly I think Trump will be too bored to pass much policy. The only real policy that he might enact is to build a wall and, god willing, deport all the illegals. If he accomplished those two things he would be the best president in recent memory, even if all the rest of it was farce and disaster. Deporting democratic voters might even improve the GOP election chances.

    Which would certainly beat the libertarian goal of making the west majority NAM countries, which last time I checked those people weren’t particularly libertarian.

    http://openborders.info/blog/billion-immigrants-change-american-polity/

    “Certain American ideals would die of their own increasing impracticality, e.g., “equality of opportunity,” the social safety net, one person, one vote, or non-discrimination in employment. ”

    “I’d expect gaps to emerge where representatives of the official courts feared to tread and a kind of anarcho-capitalist natural law would prevail, and these might be the most productive, innovative, prosperous places in the new, open-borders America. ”

    “We would see some modern latifundia, worked not by slaves this time but by voluntary immigrants, but working for pay rates that would strike native-born Americans as a form of slave labor. Meanwhile, we would likely see modern equivalents of the ancient Roman mob, privileged idlers demanding bread and circuses paid for by taxes collected from non-citizens. ”

    “People need to feel like they have a function. But some sort of general conscription into a national police force might help here. Americans cognitively or culturally ill-equipped to thrive in the dynamic new open-borders economy would be useful to their fellow citizens, and would justify the increasingly valuable privileges and subsidies to which citizenship entitled them, by serving as a kind of praetorian guard. (ed:to keep the new Dubai style foreign slave worker system in line)”

  28. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 14:35

    “I’m also not buying the hysteria”

    I’m distrustful of hysteria and emotionalism in general. If you’re feeling any strong emotions other than curiosity when you’re thinking (i.e. you’re not dispassionate), then you’re doing it wrong. Emotions only make it easier to fool yourself and others.

    In my ideal world, all political events (elections, campaign rallies, debates, etc) would have all the emotional content of a preliminary design review.

  29. Gravatar of Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
    21. January 2016 at 14:39

    Jonathan, if you kick illegals out, you will not suddenly have middle class jobs. They don’t have middle class jobs.

    Tom, you said: “3. Dismissive of conspiracy theories and internet rumors.”

    You do realize the Republican Party is under a curse from God due to their involvement in the planning of 9/11. You don’t seriously think they could assemble such a group of misfits if they were in control of their situation do you? Well, do you Tom? They are all clowns. How could the Grand Old Party run only clowns for President?

    They are barely smarter than Nebuchadnezzer eating grass out in the field.

  30. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 14:42

    “Utilitarianism isn’t a belief system anyone will die for”

    Great! One of it’s many benefits. We see where emotionalism based “belief systems” gets us: hijacked jets flown into buildings.

    Being reluctant to die for it will just lead us to constructing a viable army of robots all that much sooner than we already are, and that means more work for us engineers. ;D

  31. Gravatar of Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
    21. January 2016 at 14:50

    “We see where emotionalism based “belief systems” gets us: hijacked jets flown into buildings.”

    You are deluded. Many engineers know 9/11 was an inside job. Who are you fooling, Tom, besides yourself?

  32. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 15:00

    Gary, no doubt a few conspiracies actually have taken place. Lincoln and Arch Duke Ferdinand were assassinated after all, and the hijackers did manage to do a lot of damage. And then those conspiracies were exposed. But I’d estimate that the likelihood of “no one talking” before or after the fact is very small in any moderately sized group of conspirators. I don’t see why conspirators should be vastly more competent on average than any other organization. To imagine that “a bunch of clowns” like the Republican Party would have had enough competence to pull off 9/11 and keep it quite, and keep all the troops in line and not talking about it afterwards is beyond unrealistic: it’s crazy. It’s as crazy as birtherism. It’s batshit crazy. Not to mention there’s an utter lack of solid plausible evidence for a motive.

    Plus there are likely no gods or goddesses or any other supernatural beings to bestow any blessing or curses on anyone.

  33. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 15:18

    Gary,

    “Many engineers know 9/11 was an inside job.”

    I’m an engineer. So is my dad (a structural engineer), and my brother and 50% of my friends and 95% of my coworkers (we have a very flat org chart here). Not a one of them (to my knowledge) thinks 9/11 was an inside job. My retired neighbor is the only person I know personally that thinks 9/11 was an inside job. He’s also convinced the government is spraying poisons on us from aircraft (“chem-trails”), that the AMA conspired to drive a “scientist” out of business in the 1940s who was curing cancer in all of Los Angeles by broadcasting special “resonant” radio waves, and that the number pi (3.14159…) contains within its sequence of digits a foolproof investment strategy. Yes, he’s batshit crazy. Anecdotal evidence? Perhaps.

    Let me ask you this: what specific pieces of evidence would convince you that you’re wrong?

  34. Gravatar of Derivs Derivs
    21. January 2016 at 15:27

    Tom,
    The perfect clip…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQCU36pkH7c

  35. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 15:31

    Derivs… Lol. You might like my “batshit crazy” playlist link above (though it’s considerably longer).

  36. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 15:48

    People driven only by unemotional utilitarianism will always lose a game of chicken. They sell out. Michael Houellebecq’s book Submission is a decent view of what the pragmatic chestless Last Man will do once the demographics reach the tipping point.

    Not my own writing:

    I know that it wasn’t the author’s intention to do so, but as a related point, this doesn’t get the contemporary French character quite right, and how it will shape the perspectives and attitudes of people regardless of which side they fall on. Needs a lot more Flaubert, Camus and Raspail. Houellebecq is more on-point about the current malaise of the French soul. “A resigned self-awareness to one’s own – and the collective – inadequacy and decadence, but choosing that decadence in response anyway.”

    “We know we’re in trouble, yeah. We’ve known it for a long time, denied it for a while, and now it’s undeniable. And we suspect the kind of features the struggle that would be required to solve it would have. But we’re not willing to do what it takes. We’re not made of the kind of stuff that has what it takes to take on this trouble. We don’t have what the jihadists have, and we have no understanding of what it would take to revive a strength anything like that among us, and probably it’s impossible given recent history. We’re decadent and soft and not made of the kind of material that could mentally accept the reality of the struggle, and then physically accept the sacrifices that would be necessary to reverse the damage. We – the inheritors of all this greatness, greatness we barely teach out children, greatness we barely know how remember, greatness to which we can hardly relate anymore, greatness which we pretend is evil – are pretty pathetic at this point. We’ll take the easiest way out, even if it’s an illusion. We are aware that we are like this. We know it, and everybody knows that everybody knows it.”

    You have to understand, most modern French people find it really, really hard to truly deeply care about anything, to stand up and fight and sacrifice for it, perhaps at the cost of their lives, to even embrace the possibility that they could be the kind of person where this perfectly potential human personality became real for them. People who love anything so much that they place it above their own unhappiness, and embrace suffering for the sake of a higher purpose, are, well, kind of crazy in their eyes.

    This goes for religion and country, of course, but even for things like marriage and family. What makes them different from Americans is that the more educated among them understand this, they are aware of it, they get it, and they do feel a little embarrassed about it. They know they are rationalizing, and that spoils the magic spell just enough to distinguish them as a culture. There is something in the soul that knows what a hero is and what a coward is and can’t quite convince themselves, no matter how cleverly they spin it, that the choice of the cowards path is not something about which they should be at least a little ashamed.

    A good example is how people were talking about that terrorist on the train, and how it was American servicemen and some British guy who actually took the guy down. People would say, “Ah, yes, it would go down like that, n’est pas? We sit in our chairs, and depend on luck, and foreigners with some reserve of that spirit still in them. And it makes me feel a little humiliated, of course. But, oh well, that’s how things are. So, we go on.” To jump, unarmed, on a guy shooting a gun, you have to believe that you are expected to act in that way, that this is the kind of person you are, and that it’s possible to win and succeed or at least fail but with respect and honor. That you could not stay in your seat and not think regret it, not think of yourself as a coward, and be though that way by everyone else, to trouble your ego the rest of your days.

    In France, no one will blame you for keeping your head down. But more to the point, you won’t blame yourself, and you know you won’t. If you survive, you wouldn’t feel much guilt; you’ll probably congratulate yourself on your savvy. And so, to some degree, will the responses of other people

    So let’s see how this plays out.

    See, you have FN types, and non-FN types. (We’ll assume the +40 crowd)

    Only a minority of FN types really understand and believe that the whole establishment and state apparatus is rotten to its core, and that the problem is not principally about the practically unregulated immigration of hostile and incompatible aliens (or ‘The Joos’, globalization, or Anglo-American financiers, or whatever).

    Most FN types seem to think that if they could get the muslim foreigner problem under control, then they could just go back to enjoying the Socialist ‘French-France’ of their childhoods. They are pretty wedded to, and fond of, all their benefits and privileges and entitlements, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” style. They are perhaps correct in their instinct that muslim immigration is perhaps the most urgent matter to correct due to matters of shaping a permanent left-wing electoral majority, and its inherent irreversibility. Perhaps the best strategy is to go for populist center-mass on every other issue so as not to take on any more controversy or burden than absolutely necessary, in order to achieve this one imperative. That seems to me be Marine LePen’s course of action, but it’d be a mistake to grant this much credit to the average FN supporter.

    As for the non-FN types, the left will just go on insisting There IS No Problem With What France Is Doing. (Well, that, or the problem is that we are not being progressive enough, because of all the racism, etc.) The only non-racism problem is this horrible ISIS, a foreign evil enemy we are fighting against somewhere else, and this attack was just like any attack that happens in a war, i.e., not indicative of an internal problem that would weigh in favor a major change in policy. “Policy is perfect. Everything is fine with the French in France. This attack was because of the war. We will respond in kind, times a thousand. Here, enjoy some security theater and go back to your ordinary lives. The country’s in the very best of hands, and all will be well soon. It’s all working just as we intended.”

    The right hand side of the non-FN types, on the other hand, do not really think “We have cancer, but let’s try a little aspirin.”

    It’s more like, “The ship is sinking, it’s not that there is nothing we could do about it, but we know we won’t do it, so we might as well break out the champagne until it’s time for a peaceful, painless death, and apres moi, le deluge.”

    Euthanasia is gaining ground because both hedonistic middle-aged people and the ship of state groaning under the weight of old-age entitlements are keen to bump off those parasite geezers. Well, maybe. But I’ll tell you that my impression is that, at least in part, it’s because they are hoping to preserve it for themselves if it comes to that. Suffering is the ultimate evil, and bravery in its face is seen as more ridiculous and futile than brave and noble.

    Back in 1997 and just before he died, Bauby published le scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) after getting paralyzed in everything but one blinking eye. It was a huge hit – certainly in France and eventually all over Europe I think – and they made a movie about it about ten years ago I think. It’s kind of dreary, of course, but I think the French found it more fascinating than anything, in part because the cultural modal opinion about such a circumstance is that of course you would just want to die, and who could even think of anyone even trying to survive in that circumstance, let alone go through hundreds of thousands of blinks to write a memoir. Impossible!

    My point is, when I ask my relatives about this, and when my mother talks to her friends around that age (late 60’s or in their 70’s), they say things like “We are the last generation of France as France, alas. But, oh well, we shall enjoy ourselves.”

    Even my uncle adopted a kind of “This signals a real end to the old way, so drink up!” attitude. He is buying a house in the South of France for his retirement winters, and he will just ride out the decline in his little beautiful bubble down there.

    All of this is, I think, naturally a little disgusting and off-putting and mostly tragic to the masculine aspects on one’s personality, that wants to see someone fight to preserve what is good if there a fight that can be won. I’m not saying the fight can be won or is worth fighting, I’m just expressing how it feels when one is exposed to the “Drink up!” attitude about a thing one cares about, even if it was, in reality, lost long ago.

    So, that’s not “We have cancer, but I can’t stand chemo, so let’s try a little aspirin.” It really is Houellebecq’s, “We have cancer, and we’re not even going to go for the aspirin, we’re just going to give in to whatever’s next, and let’s face it, we all know it. Some of you can just use your built up wealth and old age to ride it out. The rest of us are going to figure out how to cave, how to submit, and then climb the pole of the next order of things, when the tumor is in charge.”

    ETA: I forgot to add, that the definitive literary scene that shows a great understanding of this french spirit is in fact the actual camp of the saints scene from the end of Raspail’s book. The heroes accept the fall of France, decide to fight a suicidal battle anyway, not to win anything, but mostly out of spite and for their own kicks, and have a giant feast with the finest french wives and typical culinary treats.

    The next day they are not defeated by the swarm, but by French fighter-bombers, under the command of the new, post-capitulation government. That hits their particular soul disease just right.

  37. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 15:49

    We are fond around here of saying that when Christianity lost the mastery over the French soul that something was bound to take its place and politically that was Imperialist Nationalism or Socialism or something. But in terms of the ‘little philosophy’ of ordinary people living their lives, the real point and purpose become the kind of nihilism-light, hedonism-light that Charles Murray describes in his American Exceptionalism lecture and book. There is nothing transcendent left, to live for, to fight for, to love for, and so they enjoy themselves. (I say French where Murray says European, and maybe he’s right and I’m biased and too ignorant of other countries, but it’s seems a particularly French disease to me. On the other hand, I’d say it summarized the ouvre of Woody Allen, and plenty of Americans too.)

    “That mentality goes something like this: Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.

    If that’s the purpose of life, then work is not a vocation, but something that interferes with the higher good of leisure. If that’s the purpose of life, why have a child, when children are so much trouble—and, after all, what good are they, really? If that’s the purpose of life, why spend it worrying about neighbors? If that’s the purpose of life, what could possibly be the attraction of a religion that says otherwise?

    The same self-absorption in whiling away life as pleasantly as possible explains why Europe has become a continent that no longer celebrates greatness.”

    The most important part of Houellebecq’s book, according to the author himself, was when the main character makes a pilgrimage and tries to see if he can revive some love for Christ. Can he go back? Can he revive somehow within himself the soul of those old real French, who stood for something, loved something, fought for France and against the Muslims? He has a brief moment of something like a true mystical and spiritual experience, but then he can’t sustain it and he fails. He realizes that like his whole society he cannot go back and revive the past as a solution, his body and soul are no longer made of the kind of stuff which could sustain and support the burden of holding that kind of personality within it. And neither are anybody else’s. He’s always just going to take the best offer on the table to preserve what he can of his lifestyle and pleasures and status. Catholicism can’t come back in France, so Islam will impose a new order, and he will make his accommodation with it.

    French criticism of the French doesn’t work like American criticism of Americans. In America it’s always World War White, every single time. A criticism of ‘America’ is really just one coalition criticizing the other. But Houellebecq is telling an ugly truth not about the other, but about himself, and about all the rest of the French elite and intelligentsia who he knows has within them aspects of the ugliness of his own personality. When the French read the book, they may be tempted to conclude that it’s criticizing the corrupt and decadent elites and establishment, and I think your typical FN-type is going to think like that. But I think the non-FN types are going to see a disturbing amount of themselves – not ‘The Other’ – in the book’s protagonist, and wonder what they would really do in like circumstances.

    And they suspect that Houellebecq is right – that something important about the French spirit is broken and cannot and will not be repaired. And so, drink up! Might as well.

  38. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. January 2016 at 16:21

    It’s been fun, but…

  39. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 16:41

    “Love your anti-Trump observation”

    -Where? None of my observations have been anti-Trump.

    “The only issue on which he dissents from the mainstream is immigration. When did the entire elite consensus decide that importing millions violent low IQ unassimilable net liabilities was the most important thing in the entire world to them, the sole determinate of not just politics, but good and evil in their eyes?”

    -They’re not particularly violent. They’re mostly low IQ and probably unassimilable, yes, but as Ron Unz pointed out in his articles, the evidence indicates most Hispanic (especially Mexican and illegal first-generation Mexican) crime is less than twice the rate of that of non-Hispanic Whites.

    Building a wall would not be successful at keeping visa-overstayers out, though. A wall would still be a good idea: America could afford it and, if build well, it would stand as one of the many wonders of America.

    “Certain American ideals would die of their own increasing impracticality, e.g., “equality of opportunity,” the social safety net, one person, one vote, or non-discrimination in employment. ”

    -Yay. But this doesn’t seem to be happening. Rather, all of these seem to be getting greater and greater support. The other speculations described in that piece I’m not a fan of.

  40. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    21. January 2016 at 16:47

    “In my view, Trump is running on a platform of pure evil.” Fortunately, “we basically don’t know anything about what a President Trump would actually do.” So we needn’t worry about the quality of his “platform”: he wouldn’t really be *standing* on it, in any case.

    Note that the platforms of the other candidates also give little indication of what they would actually do in office.

  41. Gravatar of Doug M Doug M
    21. January 2016 at 17:05

    I am starting to think that strange women, lying in ponds, distrubting swords, might not be such a bad idea after all.

  42. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    21. January 2016 at 17:15

    Was there any ideological difference between Johnson and Nixon? Yet one was Democratic and the other Republican. Both were corrupt and immoral. I understand how Johnson became president. But what fog fell over the American people, and Republicans in particular, to support Nixon? The simple fact appears to be that good leadership is an accident. May we be lucky at choosing our president because I don’t see us being good at it!

  43. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. January 2016 at 17:22

    Commenters, Well, I can’t deny I knew this post would trigger these comments. And I went ahead despite that fact. So I have only myself to blame. But at least there was a Michael Houellebecq mention, so that’s something.

  44. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    21. January 2016 at 17:27

    Scott:
    Do you think that an NGDPLT policy would result in smaller government than other monetary policies being proposed by the current candidates or do you think it is government-size neutral?

  45. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 17:37

    Carl, there’s no doubt it would result in smaller government by lowering the deficit. Many of the worst expansions of big government come during recessions with falling NGDP.

    ssumner, what comments are you referring to? The discussion seems to be going pretty well. asdf’s comments are kinda long, but they surely contribute to the discussion.

  46. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 18:02

    Trump should do a campaign ad like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fso3AOFMtkw

  47. Gravatar of Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
    21. January 2016 at 18:11

    Tom you said:

    “Plus there are likely no gods or goddesses or any other supernatural beings to bestow any blessing or curses on anyone.”

    1.You deny the ultimate conspiracy, the election by grace. I am sorry. http://newcovenanttheology.com

    2.The conspiracy to start the housing bubble and end it, by the Fed, is well documented.

    3.The conspiraces of Wall Street and its media to attack millennials and borrowers, instead of the financial system is well documented.

    4.The conspiracy of Wall Street to attack public school teachers in order to establish charter schools (which don’t have to take problem students), by Pete Peterson and others is well documented.

    5.Oh, and as far as 9/11 is concerned, Tom, did you know the Taliban went to Texas in 1997? I wrote about it on Business Insider a long time ago. When they failed to build Cheney’s pipeline, Cheney had motive to destroy the Taliban. So he invented Al Qaida: http://www.talkmarkets.com/contributor/Gary-Anderson/content-article?uid=4798

    Cheney had motive and knowledge of 9/11 as PNAC, where he was a member, called for a new Pearl Harbor in 2000. You think that was a coincidence Tom? Pearl Harbor was a code word for 9/11.

  48. Gravatar of Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
    21. January 2016 at 18:18

    ASDF, you said: “The most important part of Houellebecq’s book, according to the author himself, was when the main character makes a pilgrimage and tries to see if he can revive some love for Christ.”

    That isn’t how it works. The Apostle Paul speaks of how Christ was revealed in him, not in his attempts to maintain his love for Christ. God is God. He keeps the elect. That is Paul’s theme throughout the Bible. And there are few who are elect anyway. Very few. Those He called He justified. Those He justified He glorified, all before the foundation of the world!

  49. Gravatar of Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
    21. January 2016 at 18:20

    I am sorry, this is the Business Insider article. My computer is misbehaving: http://www.businessinsider.com/mitt-romney-and-the-neocon-mind-pre-911-2012-10

  50. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 18:53

    I mean this, its gold:

    BTW, what would be the opposite of Trump?

    “a cult of inaction, a celebration of aggressive femininity, a tolerance of criticism, a braving of difference and outsiders, a pitch to the frustrations of the upper middle class, an intense anti-nationalism and cherishing at national humiliation, and a “popular anti-elitism” that promises every citizen that they’re part of “the worst people of the world.”

    -Basically, an exaggerated Sanders or Obama.

    It’s been awhile since I looked at the Unz data. Some of its good, some of its not. Hispanics are halfway between a white and a black on just about every metric, probably with the relevant effect on how big the left tail is. Wasn’t that Douthat’s recent pitch (we have to stop really violent really low IQ Muslims immigrating to Europe, but Hispanics in America aren’t as terrible even if we need to change some things). I’m speaking more generally about both the US and Europe in this thread, I’m sure the same things that bother people about Trump bother them about Le Pen. Either way, does anyone here want to live in a country with outcomes like Mexico/Brazil. It’s better then the Middle East I suppose, but that’s a low bar.

    As to open borders, they mean to establish this in a kind of patron/client master/slave dictatorial state. Their model appears to be the Gulf States, where they import third worlders who “volunteer”, although kind of not really, to slave away making luxuries for a tiny task master class. When you read that open borders post can you not just picture the Gulf.

    Their vision of the west’s future:
    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/gMh-vlQwrmU/maxresdefault.jpg

    When they talk about getting rid of the safety net, equal opportunity, etc they don’t mean streamlining the welfare state in a largely functional middle class society where people can take care of themselves. They mean having most people live in abject poverty, and the state not even trying to provide any goods or services in the largely lawless anarcho-tyranny ghettos. If you want a look at it, just go to the right neighborhoods of Brazil or Paris and take a look at what life is like.

    Trump read the lyrics of this song in full at a rally the other day. Seems pretty relevant to the migration situation:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULx9k2QkL94

  51. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    21. January 2016 at 19:22

    Sumner: “so no one should take my views on politics at all seriously” – you win my vote professor. I profess I don’t take your views on economics seriously either.

  52. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 19:56

    Heh, didn’t see your “lets not talk about race” post a little while down. Don’t follow your blog closely.

    I don’t think anyone wants to have such a conversation, but demographics being what they are, think of the children and all that. Experience should prove its something that if you ignore it, it won’t leave you alone

    Anyway, the Trump phenomenon was predicted pretty well in a piece I read awhile back.

    http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.com

    Could resurgent nationalism save Western civilization from PC?

    After secularization eroded religious cohesion in modernizing societies (from the 1700s), there was an era of secular nationalism in developed countries.
    And some opponents of PC see resurgent secular nationalism as an antidote to the cultural decline caused by political correctness.
    Accepting that political correctness is cultural suicide, and leaving aside the question of whether or not it would be beneficial, is it likely that resurgent secular nationalism can unify the Right and could reverse the cultural suicide of PC?
    *
    Nationalism is indeed a powerful unifier and motivator – perhaps the most powerful form of secular cohesion; because nationalism has potential to bring together all classes, both sexes, young and old, sometimes even several ethnicities and religions.
    *
    But a secular nationalism would nowadays have a strongly different character from most secular nationalisms of the past.
    A modern nationalism might perhaps save the nation (probably at the cost of fracturing it into smaller nations) – but it would not save the national culture.
    Furthermore, secular nationalisms of the past seem to have had little staying power – fading within only two or three generations.
    So nationalism would be – at best – a bandaid. But is it even that?
    *
    When secular nationalism was an effective political force (e.g. from the 19th up to mid-20th centuries in the West), it was a movement which grew spontaneously, it did not need much encouragement.
    Furthermore, in most counties – perhaps all of them – nationalism originated with the intellectual elites – typically the lower ranks of the elites (i.e. the most numerous ranks of the ruling class): people like school teachers and lower-level administrators, also journalists and artists.
    (This even applies to Germany – nationalism had been going for more than a century among the Dichter und Denker – poets and thinkers – before it was rather suddenly hijacked by the mostly lower class National Socialists reacting against International Communism.)
    In other words, past successful nationalisms were led by a cultural elite: nationalism was a political movement of ‘clerks’ and therefore, even before it got-going, old-style nationalists already controlled the media and mass communications.
    *
    Past successful nationalisms therefore originated with exactly those groups which are nowadays the most politically correct, least nationalistic, most in favour of multi-culturalism.
    But modern nationalists are precisely excluded from the mass media.
    Any modern nationalism would therefore need to be very different from past nationalisms.
    *
    Of course new things can happen – and we are, after all, in an unprecedented situation: i.e. the new experience of deliberate, strategic, sustained, cultural and biological suicide by the intellectual elites, taking their nations and cultures with them.
    Perhaps such a novel situation will inevitably lead to unforseen types of political response? – perhaps including a nationalism which is opposed by the exact groups which (in previous nationalisms) supported it?
    *
    In line with this, what does seem to be resurgent in the West (to some extent – maybe limited) is a lower class, populist nationalism.
    What we are seeing is a nationalism led by the skilled working class rather than the teachers, lower civil servants and writers – we are seeing a nationalism of tradesman rather than clerks.

    However, to be successful against PC (when PC is sustained by an intellectual ruling class and the mass media), such a nationalism of the tradesmen would (surely?) need both to be anti-intellectual and to impose tight control over the mass media.
    A resurgent secular nationalism would therefore seek to replace the effete, irrelevant, decadent clerks with sensible skilled workers.
    And since a new nationalism of tradesman lacks access to the media and mass communications (and also lacks the skill to use them), it would be implacably opposed by the media and mass communications systems; anti-PC resurgent secular nationalism would therefore naturally be anti the media and mass communications, as well as anti their personnel.
    *
    A nationalism of the upper working class/ lower middle class would necessarily promote a radically simplified, popular and accessible folk culture, suitable for those who are only secondarily concerned with culture as a leisure-time activity, or as a means to other ends.
    Tradesman class leaders are likely to regard high culture with hostility, based on the suspicion (often accurate; although – importantly – not entirely so) that high culture is a tool for forcing the tradesmen class into subordinate status and for elevating the status of the clerks.
    *
    In such a society, ‘warrior virtues’ would presumably predominate – courage, decisiveness, loyalty, perhaps common-sense and concrete effectiveness; and there would consequently be only relatively few high status, ruling positions for intellectuals, high-artists and abstract thinkers.
    In a tradesman-led nationalism, intellectuals would, rather, be allocated subordinate status as functionaries.
    *
    (Recall that historically – and still in most of the world – aside from relatively few senior ‘priests’; the bulk of intellectuals were of modest and circumscribed status; such as clerks, teachers, servants, slaves, outcasts, itinerants, eunuchs and celibates.)
    *

  53. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 19:56

    Characteristics of a new secular nationalism
    Since the modern elite or ‘officer class’ is truly, madly, deeply politically correct; if a nationalism were to arise (which seems unlikely) it would need to originate from and be led by the tradesman class – or, to put it another way, the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) class: that is to say a nationalism led by the Sergeants and Corporals; and not by the Majors and Captains.
    *
    All else being equal, under normal circumstances, an army led by Officers will be much more effective than an army led by NCOs.
    But, it could be argued, these are not normal circumstances.
    *
    The modern situation in the West resembles that of a city under siege.
    The city is threatened by an expanding parasite class (‘sturdy beggars’, or the ‘undeserving poor’ as GB Shaw termed them), by riots within and by the enemy without.
    However, the Officers have become decadent.
    The Officers find-uncouth, are-bored-by, scared-of, and have indeed come to loathe the NCOs and squaddies of their own city.
    (Noblesse oblige is a thing of the past, and socialism has long-since rejected its working class roots in favour of a ‘rainbow coalition’ of parasitic, underclass and designated-victim groups.)
    *
    Periodically, groups of indigents approach the besieged city gates.
    Some are hopeless cases – displaced peasants from the surrounding area; some are shrewd merchants and traders from here and there – keen to work hard and make some money; some are petty criminals – others are not-so-petty criminals: gangsters and assorted thugs, thieves and beggars.
    And some of the indigents at the gate are enemy fifth columnists – who intend at some point in the future to inflict violence and mayhem to aid the besiegers and take-over the city.
    But whoever the indigents are, and whatever their intention, the Officers invariably feel sorry for them (sorrier than they do for their own NCOs and squaddies, or for the indigenes of the city); and so always let them all come through the gates and into the city (because to do otherwise would be to commit the ultimate and unforgiveable sin of discrimination); and direct the NCOs to make sure the new arrivals are well taken care of – by allocating them a generous share of the NCO and squaddies’ rations and living quarters.
    *
    And within the cities own indigenous population are large mobs of sturdy vagrants who are either too feckless to be of any use, or simply refuse to help with the defense of the walls (the parasitic sturdy beggars and underclass).
    These muggers, robbers, beggars and barflys roam around fighting, having parties and looting. The NCOs are not exactly forbidden to intervene, but will be harshly punished if they transgress any of the very strict (and continually changing) rules of engagement. So the underclass are left alone to do their business.
    On orders from the Officers, these sturdy vagrants receive a daily dole of bread and beer – also taken from the NCO and squaddies’ supplies.
    *
    This situation of the Officers robbing the NCOs and squaddies to reward outsiders and vagrants is roughly (and in a purely materialist sense – which leaves-out the vital spiritual and religious dimension) the situation of the modern West.
    *
    Secular nationalism is (at minimum) an attempt to make effective the defense of the city – first to stop admitting, then to expel, outsiders, fifth columnists and parasites; and to suppress internal disorder.
    But the Officers will not do this, and will indeed try to prevent it.
    So, if the city has not fallen first (and that is a big ‘if’) then at some point, perhaps, there may be an NCO mutiny – and the army will be taken-over and run by the senior sergeants.
    Because a city will be better defended by an army led by loyal NCOs, than by an army led by traitorous Officers.
    *

    If this kind of secular nationalism happens as a reaction against ‘the treason of the clerks’, then it would surely, necessarily, be accompanied by a powerful anti-Officer campaign – during which Officers would be purged from all significant positions of leadership – and replaced by Sergeants.
    The outcome would be a pretty shambolic army, or society. Yet it would not have to be well-organized; only well-enough-organized to defeat the forces which oppose it.
    If nothing else happens first, at some point in the cultural decline that is political correctness the point will be passed at which a nationalist NCO-led army will be more effective than an army led by anti-nationalist Officers.
    *

    Yet before this happens, it may well be that the city will fall to the enemy; and instead of being run by an NCO army of the indigenous population, the city will instead be taken-over by an Officer-led army of invaders.
    *
    *

  54. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 19:57

    Could a party of ‘common sense’ replace political correctness?
    With the profound weakness of mainstream Christianity in the West (due to subversion by Leftism and subordination to PC), and with the weakness of old-style nationalism (led by the lower levels of the upper class – teachers, minor civil servants and journalists – who are now the most zealous of the politically correct), and with the unlikeliness of a new nationalism of the tradesman/ NCO class – then the most likely opposition to political correctness (especially in the USA) currently comes from populist, reactionary, secular groups based on common sense.
    From a Christian perspective, such groupings are seriously sub-optimal – at best a temporary expedient. Nonetheless, supposing that common sense secularism was actually to become powerful – what then? Could it, would it provide a better alternative future than PC? What would that future be?
    This can be predicted by considering the probable characteristics of such a grouping – and weighing-up the pros and cons.
    *
    Since so much of Western society is now corrupted by Liberalism and implicated in PC, such a group would have to come from outside this – and in rejecting the psychotic delusionality of PC it would need to offer a common sense alternative which would be obvious to plain, middling, productive people outwith the intelligentsia and their underclass of state-dependents.
    And since a common sense party would be reactive against PC, we can infer its main features.
    *
    Here is a non-exhaustive list (in no particular order) of characteristics of a possible Common Sense (CS) party contrasted with the politically correct (PC) party.

    CS v PC:
    1. Natural and spontaneous versus Human designed
    2. Reality is real and fixed versus Reality is relative and plastic
    3. Coercive force versus Propaganda
    4. Face to face versus Mass media
    5. Concrete versus Abstract
    6. Immediate versus Utopian
    7. Instinctive versus Educated
    8. Native versus Immigrant
    9. Popular culture versus High art
    10. Practical versus Theoretical
    11. Invention versus Science
    12. White versus Non-white
    13. Heredity versus Culture
    14. Apprenticeship versus Formal education
    15. Men versus Women
    16. Recognition versus Certification
    17. Selfish versus Altruistic
    18. Personal authority versus Bureaucratic procedure
    19. Heterosexual versus Homosexual
    20. Heart versus Head
    21. Gut versus Intellect
    22. National versus International
    23. Tribal versus Outcast
    24. Family versus Universalist
    25. Real versus Ideal
    26. Morality versus Law
    27. Natural law versus Moral inversion
    28. Courage versus Tolerance
    29. Loyalty versus Subversion
    30. Useful versus Useless
    31. Duty versus Self-development
    32. Productive versus Ideologically-sound
    33. Money-grubbing versus Parasitic
    34. Responsibilities versus Rights
    35. Charity versus Needs
    36. Hierarchy versus Egalitarianism

    *

    This list suggests that secular modern politics boils down either to political correctness or what could be (and almost certainly would be) termed a kind of ‘fascism’.
    In other words fascism is approximately what you get when political correctness is opposed with common sense.
    Of course, the Left has been calling the Right fascist since the mid-1960s: I am suggesting that in doing this the Left are broadly correct.
    However, there are two important qualifications 1. that the fascist label properly applies only to the secular Right – not the religious Right; and 2. fascism is not synonymous with the Nazis – who were substantially a socialist and Leftist party, as the name of National Socialism implies.

    Maybe at some point the secular Right will eventually stop fighting the ‘fascist’ label and become openly and explicitly fascist – but distancing themselves from the National Socialist type of (semi) fascism?

    *

    The religious Right is not fascist: fascism is secular hence modern; and the religious Right is pre-modern and much more ancient than fascism. Indeed the religious Right was pretty much all there was in pre-modern times: conflict being between different varieties of religious Right.

    The huge difference between religious Right and secular Right is that the religious Right seeks to rule society primarily by religious principles, by religious goals. By contrast the common sense secular Right (fascism) is justified on the basis of this-worldly common sense goals: such as the aim to make its supporters happier and richer; to provide a glorious national or ethnic purpose; to forge a new community of the heart.

  55. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    21. January 2016 at 20:40

    Trump/Brawndo 2016: We have what voters crave!

    I still refuse to believe Trump really has any chance of winning an election for the Presidency of these United States. They’re only just starting to dig into his very ugly past, and people aren’t really paying attention to the election yet.

    Remember kids, at this point in the last two cycles the leading GOP candidates were Gingrich and Giuliani.

  56. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 20:48

    What the heck happened to the other fifty comments?!

  57. Gravatar of asdf asdf
    21. January 2016 at 21:03

    He’s got a career to protect, and its not like they were all value added. He read what he needed to read.

  58. Gravatar of Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
    21. January 2016 at 21:22

    “He’s got a career to protect, and its not like they were all value added. He read what he needed to read.”

    You are so mercenary, ASDF. What happened to higher values, like free speech?

  59. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 21:40

    The missing fifty comments seem to be hidden, not deleted. The stated number of comments is still in the 50s. This suggests incompetence, not an impulse to censorship. Though if they’re hidden, where are they? And they were good comments, for the most part.

  60. Gravatar of Ben J Ben J
    21. January 2016 at 21:48

    Gary, nothing is more cringeworthy than someone complaining about their ‘free speech’ being removed from a private forum.

    Take a hint, all of you. Your ugly regurgitations about politics should go elsewhere.

  61. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. January 2016 at 22:51

    Ben J, ssumner explicitly claimed to have a free speech policy in his blog’s comment section a couple days ago. And what, exactly, was ugly about our political explanations?

    And please specify “elsewhere”. You shouldn’t create a coordination problem where none need exist.

  62. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    21. January 2016 at 23:51

    Maybe Scott did not delete them. The asdf spam is still there. Also Ray and Gary. It’s sad that the other comments are gone for now. I wanted to copy 1-2 today. If someone can get them back through google cache or some other method please leave a note here.

  63. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    22. January 2016 at 05:18

    I learned a long time ago to never assume malice when it comes to Scott’s technical abilities. Generally any post with two links hasnt gone thru. It could be scott pushed a button.

    As to Trump, Scott I know a lot of Trump voters, none of whom are dummies.

    My dad called a couple nights ago from builder show, and he said no only is Trump talk of floor, but he was sitting at blackjack table between two 80 yr old women and a hoodie kid, and his new theory is that it’s not just political correctness…

    He thinks anyone who curses like sailor when comfortable is a Trump voter. He believes its that base level.

    As to what kind of POTUS Trump would be, well thats pretty damn easy its odd you wouldn’t take time to find out.

    Read The Art of Deal.

    A good parable is the NYC ice rink. A lot of fluff is written about authoritarianism, conservatism, blah blah…

    But that fails to think mechanistically.

    If Trump wins, a GOP congress send Truml bills to pass. So we get infrastructure spending, boo, but it comes with end to using union labor.

    Obamacare gets “repealed” but that just means ending the giant absket kf essential services and buying across state lines. And the VA likely folds to private insurance.

    Block grants to states on Welfare is probably bridge to far, given Congress but I’ll gold oytnhipe bc that automatic guarantees Uber for Welfare.

    More soon…

  64. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    22. January 2016 at 06:00

    IMO trump is exactly what he says, a very shrewd negotiator, and let me make one thing perfectly clear about the ENTIRE Econoblogger class.

    Nobody has admitted that Trump has actually put forward a new argument about Free Trade.

    Take pure Ricardo. He and Trump are perfectly aligned. There’s zero doubt in my mind when Trump say 35% tariff on China or “I’ll build a wall!” that he’s being Ricardian.

    The point to Ricardo is that NOBODY in Ricardo’s day assumed that the nation state wasn’t going NEGOTIATE TERMS OF TRADE TO THEIR ADVANTAGE IAS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Each side HAS to WANT to get BIGGEST PIECE OF PIE.

    This is clear as the nose on Scott’s face.

    The problem here is that most Econos want to run utility theory at a global scale, hey it helps the poor in foreign lands They count too!

    That’s fine but that not Free Trade.

    Ricardo was speaking to a nation who feared foreign trade, he was explaining how specialization around talents resource advantage benefit his country, the assumption is other side will have same thoughts.

    The assumption ALSO is both sides don’t care about the other.

    And Scott and the rest of Econobloggers are playing Hide the Salami here. Nobody has actually responded to Trump and said:

    OBAMA GOT US THE BIGGEST PIECE OF PIE.

    Any real Free Trader, even when they use the political pleasing FAIR TRADE.

    Put on your Jon Haidt caps and think how funny “Fair Trade” is, bc both sides have completely different views.

    Liberals, who literally avert their eyes from disgusting things (conservatives stare at and fixate on things that are disgusting) have a notion of fairness that averts eyes from the disgust of sloth and laziness (thereby refusing to see it) refusing to build systems of welfare that focus on catching cheaters.

    Conservatives actually stare at disgusting things, are high on punishment (see Ted Cruz writing Death Penalty briefs) TO GET RID OF DISGUSTING THINGS. They aren’t against welfare, they are against, anybody not having to work hard everyday for a bossy boss getting handouts.

    Liberals here FAIR TRADE and worry about the lives of coffee beans growers in South America.

    Conservatives hear FAIR TRADE and think, shrewd ruthless deal making to get the biggest piece of pie.

    So lets all admit outright, Trump is a Free Trader in the classic definition, and all he’s concerned with is proving that when America thinks like Trump, we can get better deals than we have been getting.

    Sometimes that means no deal, for a bit, sometimes it means, no immigrants for a bit, sometimes it means I’m building a wall! for a bit…

    Any SMART person, LIKE LARRY KUDLOW, focuses on, what new terms and conditions are required of those who care about Middle Eastern refugees to restart the machine? What ELSE can China be forced to bend to before we trade openly? And how quickly can we FORCE MEXICO to give us PROPERTY RIGHTS in their country so our middle class can colonize it? Which BTW is the pinnacle of Libertarian Foreign Policy!

    Scott, you heard Trump suggest US military could hold 20 square miles of beachfront in Syria, allow refugees to flood there and let the Chinese to build factories and hire the Syrians.

    HOW IS THAT NOT LIBERTARIAN FOREiGN POLICY IN FACE OF REFUGEE CRISIS?

    I’m sorry but it is.

    asdf, I’d forgotten about you, You get SO CLOSE in your analysis, as long as you don’t stumble into the #NRx you can keep it up! #NRx and race theory forgets it is actually the NCO’s that own and run the country, always have, always will. The asshole of the body and all that… the VALUE CREATORS the entrepreneurs, we can always and forever topple any state we wish. See USSR. See formation of each US state. And we don’t care about race, we care about ROI on our labor sources… on our big ideas.

    More soon!

  65. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 07:20

    Scott, you heard Trump suggest US military could hold 20 square miles of beachfront in Syria, allow refugees to flood there and let the Chinese to build factories and hire the Syrians.

    The inevitable daily suicide bombings and artillery fire might put some dents in the production quotas. Also, it’s hard to load container ships on the beach.

    Very little of what Trump says makes any sense, even in the limited context of the other ridiculous things he’s said.

  66. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 08:52

    The inevitable daily suicide bombings and artillery fire

    There are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan refugee camps chock-a-block with Syrians. Are these suffering daily suicide bombings and artillery fire?

  67. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 09:15

    Sorry, but the Google Cache has been updated to only see Ray Lopez’s comment.

  68. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. January 2016 at 09:21

    If anybody’s curious where the page containing the 1st set of comments are, they’re here:

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31435&cpage=1#comment-503235
    (I happened to have stored a link)

    Otherwise I’m not sure how you get there from here.

  69. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 09:37

    Tom, thanks. I suspected the missing comments were hidden.

  70. Gravatar of collin collin
    22. January 2016 at 10:11

    In thinking about Trump, he rose in the polls in June and July of 2015 because he wanted a BIG WALL. And even if the cable news had the negative commentary about what clown Trump is for calling Hispanic Rapist, there was a portion of the population that stood up and agreed with Trump.

    1) The biggest issue of the last 40 years is most blue collar position are earning less than they did in 1973. Nobody has an answer why in over two generations a lot of jobs have had stagnant wages and a lot are pointing to illegal immigration. Now I think most of these positions are poised to have increasing wages the next generation as the Boomers retire but this is not going to be a fun process.

    2) The big change the last 50 years is the age of marriage and children. People remember that most 25 year old men in 1965 were married and most had children. Now most 25 year men and women are living the ‘Friends’ slacker years and not married until 30+.

    3) There was always the Buchanan wing of the Republican Party that had ~20% of the vote. (Remember Perot? Replace The Wall with NAFTA and Trump sounds a lot like Ross.) The basics of Buchanan politics is the elite corporations have broken their social contract with the working classes by outsourcing to cheap labor. So the social contract is weakening local communities and the church that held the US together in generations past. (I don’t agree with Pat Buchananism but I think there is degree of truth.) For libertarians they don’t care for this social contract that corporations have broken.

  71. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 10:31

    Art — uh, you may not be aware of this, but the Syrian civil war is located in Syria.

  72. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 10:52

    TallDave, not on any part of the beachfront.

  73. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 11:01

    “Nobody has an answer why in over two generations a lot of jobs have had stagnant wages”

    -Lo!

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=UBd

    And the most stagnant wages have actually been in information and trade, transportation, and utilities:

    https://againstjebelallawz.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/screen-shot-2015-09-06-at-23-25-29.png

  74. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 11:30

    Art — uh, you may not be aware of this, but the Syrian civil war is located in Syria.

    I’m also aware that political boundaries are imaginary lines which are indicative of political spheres of influence. They do not incorporate Star Trek-like force fields.

  75. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 11:32

    3) There was always the Buchanan wing of the Republican Party that had ~20% of the vote.

    There’s a core and a periphery to the alt-right vote. It generally averages 11%, not 20%. Right now, Rand Paul’s down to the nubbin of it.

  76. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 11:33

    1) The biggest issue of the last 40 years is most blue collar position are earning less than they did in 1973.

    No, it is not the biggest issue, because that’s a false meme.

  77. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 11:35

    2) The big change the last 50 years is the age of marriage and children. People remember that most 25 year old men in 1965 were married and most had children. Now most 25 year men and women are living the ‘Friends’ slacker years and not married until 30+.

    The age at first marriage bobs up and down in long cycles in response to economic conditions and esoteric factors. It was abnormally low in the 1950s. The share of one’s life in the pre-marital state really is hardly any longer than it was ca. 1890.

  78. Gravatar of ChargerCarl ChargerCarl
    22. January 2016 at 11:39

    The problem with the big government label is that to most people it refers only to the federal government when in fact it’s local governments that are BY FAR the most onerous and abusive in American life.

    I would much prefer a strong federal government at the expense of local power like we see in Japan.

  79. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 11:47

    Just to point out, the median age at 1st marriage in 1900 was 24 years, and a person of that age had a life expectancy of about 40 additional years. In 2010, the median age at first marriage was 27 years and a person of that age had a life expectancy of 52 additional years. The ratio of pre-marital years to future years fell from 0.6 to 0.51.

  80. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 11:56

    Art, it’s fertile future years, not just future years, that matter.

    If Rand Paul was Ron Paul, he would still have a strong enough core of support that he would still have been in the last Republican debate. Unfortunately, by acting Zionist, opposing the Iran deal, and condemning the reunification with Krim, he just made himself look like a sellout.

  81. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 12:22

    Art, it’s fertile future years, not just future years, that matter.

    ‘Matter’ for what purpose? That aside, total fertility rates are not declining; they declined between 1957 and 1978, but they were fairly elevated in 1957 for a predominantly non-agricultural society with low rates of infant mortality.

  82. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 12:27

    it’s local governments that are BY FAR the most onerous and abusive in American life.

    The mayor and town council didn’t stick you with employment discrimination law, homosexual pseudogamy, federal tax preferences, the National Education Association, the ruin that his contemporary higher education, or Shira Sheindlin. They just wouldn’t give you that zoning variance you wanted.

  83. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 12:35

    I’m also aware that political boundaries are imaginary lines which are indicative of political spheres of influence. They do not incorporate Star Trek-like force fields.

    It isn’t force fields keeping the Syrian civil war out of Jordan and Lebanon.

    The idea you can plop down a US military presence on the Syrian coast (still controlled by Assad, btw, on whose behalf the Russians are currently doing bombing runs) and establish an unmolested refugee camp there is just flatly ridiculous, even before the part about inviting the Chinese to build factories for them.

    There are better options than inviting them here, but that ain’t one of them.

  84. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 12:37

    Trump said, “What I like is build a safe zone in Syria. Build a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.”

    Her added, “So You keep ’em in Syria. You build a tremendous safe zone, it’ll cost you tremendously much less, much less, and they’ll be there and the weather’s the same. And the weather is the same and then when this horrible situation that is so horrible run. We don’t know what we are doing. When its all over they move back and they go back into their cities, and they rebuild there cities. And they start out and they start over again.”

    He truly is the Brawndo candidate.

  85. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 12:58

    TallDave, not on any part of the beachfront.

    Wrong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Latakia_offensive

    The 2014 Latakia offensive was a rebel offensive in the Latakia Governorate of Syria launched on 21 March 2014 by rebel Islamist groups including Al-Nusra Front, which called the offensive “Anfal”,[4] while a coalition of Supreme Military Council rebel groups called the offensive “The Martyrs Mothers”.[22] The objectives of the offensive have been stated to be the taking over of all strategic observatories, government villages and the Mediterranean coast.

  86. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    22. January 2016 at 13:19

    The idea you can plop down a US military presence on the Syrian coast (still controlled by Assad, btw, on whose behalf the Russians are currently doing bombing runs) and establish an unmolested refugee camp there is just flatly ridiculous,

    Thanks for the ex cathedra pronouncement. I’m sure everyone here found that very cogent.

  87. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 14:05

    Thanks Art, I really appreciated your insights on Star Trek and geography.

  88. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. January 2016 at 14:14

    “Politics is for Morons”

    I used to write a decent politically oriented Blog (with a touch of pop culture and political economy thrown in)—-it took effort. I cannot devote that kind of effort to comments, so you are stuck with my usual nothings.

    A great economist I read made that point about politics and morons. But look at how many comments you have! I don’t know if you ever got 100 comments on a single post—but this one is pretty close.

    The fun thing about politics is the massive difference between rhetoric and action regardless of party. Having said that, the two parties are different on the margins—sometimes by a decent size (Reagan vs Obama)—but not so big you notice the difference. To me, I want to unload regulations by a good amount—-yet they keep getting bigger. If you try to correlate the performance of the economy with the party in power—-good luck.

    My thumbnail analysis is this—-we have a big blob of money that goes from the private sector to the public sector. The ratio is relatively stable, but gradually grows thru the decades. Then the public and their representatives fight over who can get a bigger share of the blob. But there is only so much you can take from one large group to give to another large group—so that is not where the action is. The action is in the little stuff that makes politicians richer (for example, Kasich working at Lehman Bros and Rahm the bomb at some other firm—-every politician gets their cut) and their supporters even more wealthy.

    This is not to say there are not some good changes and actions made, but I cannot think of any at the moment—too lazy. I would much rather have the “blob” get smaller and the private sector blob get bigger.

    By the way, it should be a law that any time an economist speaks about lowering so-called entitlements, they should be required to quote how much the government has taken from the people in SS taxes and Medicare taxes and spent it on other things. This is called the Trust Fund!! That is funny. I have the “borrowed” money up to about $6 trillion. Who got this money? I have no idea. Most are likely dead now, or running climate change models.

    That economist I quoted is right. Politics is for morons. But from time to time we as a nation manage to do what needs to be done—-the rest is just—–I don’t know—-but something like reality TV

  89. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 14:22

    Trump’s also going to get Russia to solve the ISIS problem, at the same time as we invade Russia’s ally and set up a refugee camp on the coast in hostile territory in the middle of a civil war in which every player with the exception of the Kurds is currently hostile to the UNited States. It’s sure to work!

    And then China is going to build factories on the beach and hire them.

    Vote Trump: He Has Electrolytes!

  90. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 16:05

    TallDave, Trump isn’t talking about invading Syria. And the U.S. is currently invading Syria (but not de facto Assad-held territory) by establishing an airbase in Syrian Kurdistan.

    And TallDave, the 2014 rebel campaign that reached the coast was in 2014 (almost two years ago), and it only reached a tiny part of it. You think I don’t know about it? I’ve been a careful Syrian war watcher since May 2013, at latest.

  91. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 16:09

    Reagan and Obama are very similar on foreign policy, but very different on Supreme Court appointments, fiscal stimulus, and tax cuts.

  92. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 16:47

    E Harding — Sheerest nonsense. He proposed establishing a refugeee base in hostile territory. Is he expecting them to welcome us with open arms?

    Apparently your careful Syria watching didn’t notice there are hostilities in Latakia right now. That has been contested territory since 2014, which you should also know if you’ve been paying attention at all. Nothing in that province is safe, Salma fell just days ago, it’s a short drive from the coast.

    And that’s not even his craziest pronouncement — his plan for Iraq is to steal their oil.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that former President George W. Bush should have “kept the oil” after invading Iraq.

    “And, I said, keep the oil,” Trump said during the Republican presidential debate Tuesday night. “And we should have kept the oil, believe me. We should have kept the oil.”

  93. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    22. January 2016 at 17:08

    I speculate that, when it comes to Trump, his supporters don’t really care a whole lot about his policy positions anyway. Being anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, and anti-foreign trade may matter to the, let’s say, simple people that make up working class nativists, but beyond that really, it’s just his attitude ‘f*** you’ mentality that gets people excited.

    Remember, this guy made a remark critical of Israel not long ago, say they too were to blame for the war in the region. Any other election, any ‘serious’ candidate, Republican or Democrat, makes a comment like that, and they forfeit the primary. Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer at all, even though I’m sure if you polled Trump’s supporters, you’d find they are very much pro-Israel, as that demographic usually is (certainly anti-Palestinian). It seems, though, that Trump’s supporters don’t really actually care a whole lot about his actual positions, in so far as he has positions beyond a couple issues.

    In short, Trump’s rise, IMO, doesn’t so much say what GOP voters really think about the size of government; it says that they really don’t care about the size of government one way or the other, or about policy. They want personality, not substance.

    Or, to let Winston Churchill sum up the point: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

  94. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. January 2016 at 17:32

    Everyone, Thus is the first time since I began blogging that comments just vanished. I’m tempted to say it couldn’t happen to a better comment section, but I will have someone investigate.

    Thanks Tom, Any thoughts on how this happened?

    Collin, You said:

    “People remember that most 25 year old men in 1965 were married and most had children. Now most 25 year men and women are living the ‘Friends’ slacker years and not married until 30+.”

    God I feel sorry for the young men of 1965! No wonder the divorce rate reached such a high level around 1970.

  95. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. January 2016 at 17:38

    Everyone, Tom found the earlier comments here:

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31435&cpage=1#comment-503235

    I have no idea what’s going on here.

  96. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 18:43

    I suspect it’s automatic: the comments exceeded fifty, so the blog automatically moved them to another page.

    TallDave, Erdogan’s “Turkmen”-held mountains of Latakia may not seem that far from Latakia city to the untrained observer, but in the entire history of the war, the rebels have never even captured Haffah. Or Ras Basit. There’s a lot of room on the coast which is totally safe from rebel shelling. Latakia city is more crowded today than ever before. Yes, there was quite a bit of fighting between Kesab and Mashqita last year, but it never reached the coastline. Rebel-held territory in Latakia province expanded greatly with the rebel capture of Jisr al-Shughur, but it has been partly rolled back with the help of Russian airstrikes.

    “Is he expecting them to welcome us with open arms?”

    -I guess so. I think he expects their attitude to change once the White House’s attitude to them changes.

    Yes, Salma fell just days ago. To the government.

    “And that’s not even his craziest pronouncement — his plan for Iraq is to steal their oil.”

    -Nothing wrong with that. I propose the U.S. government taking a portion of Libya’s oil profits as compensation for liberating it.

    Mark, except in direct referendums, the people vote for candidates, not policies.

  97. Gravatar of Larry Larry
    22. January 2016 at 19:33

    The best decoding of the hat Trump is up to is from Scott Adams. In sum, Trump is the Wizard of Oz. he’s also a deal maker. His (crazy) positions are not real proposals. They’re his way of demonstrating whose side he’s on. I do not do justice to Adam’s analysis. It is subtle. Love to see Hanson comb through it.

    Working throughMidas. Somehow I think a table would be easier to do pattern recognition on. Grinding on!

  98. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 19:40

    E Harding — Again, sheer nonsense. We are not even talking about the city of Latakia, we are talking about the province. Salma is right on the coast. They are fighting there. There is a civil war there — yes, on the coast. And even if there wasn’t fighting on any particular stretch of the coast, that would not make it remotely safe or uncontested.

    Yes, the Syrian government, the one that’s been hostile to us since the 1960s, I’m sure they’re going to welcome a US presence as soon as President Trump . And if we suddenly get in bed with the awful Assad government, then the FSA is our enemy. And the Kurds. Just ridiculously stupid.

    -Nothing wrong with that.

    Seriously, no one could be this stupid. I give up.

  99. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 19:54

    Mark: Adams has it exactly right. It doesn’t matter that the things Trump says make no sense, people have an emotional reaction and then rationalize that taking Iraq’s oil or building a beautiful oceanfront refugee camp (complete with Chinese factories) aren’t the ravings of someone out of Idiocracy.

  100. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. January 2016 at 20:43

    Trump campaign: American soldiers, Soviet soldiers, whatever.

    Don’t worry though, “we’re going to have so much money” for the VA after we seize the oilfields. That $50M per month in oil money ISIS is getting will really boost the $168B VA budget, and easily cover the billion dollars per month the occupation effort will cost.

  101. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. January 2016 at 20:45

    Scott: what’s going on with the comments: I think E. Harding is probably correct: it automatically organized your comments into separate pages when the number of comments or the total text written hit some threshold. Maybe it’s a feature WordPress added, or perhaps it was there all along and you just never had a comments section that long before (which is hard to believe). Nick Rowe’s blog (which is Typepad rather than WordPress) also automatically creates separate comments pages when a certain threshold is reached, however his creates controls to allow you to navigate from one to the next when that happens. It looks like the only way to navigate when that happens here is to add

    &cpage=1
    &cpage=2

    etc, to the home URL for a particular post, so as to form URLs such as:

    [http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31435&cpage=1]
    [http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31435&cpage=2]

    etc. (minus the [] of course: I just added the brackets to keep my active link count below the automatic send-to-moderation threshold)

    One thing I notice about your blog compared to other wordpress blogs such as this one:

    https://longandvariable.wordpress.com/

    There’s no indication on your homepage of how many comments there are for each post. Perhaps leaving that widget out is somehow related to you now missing controls for navigating between automatically created multiple comments pages. But I don’t really know.

  102. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. January 2016 at 20:50

    Lol… it looks like my last comment about automatic comment page creation hit the threshold for automatic page creation, and now you’ve got three comments pages. So if I’m correct in the above comment, then here are links to the two previous comments pages:

    page 1:
    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31435&cpage=1

    page 2:
    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31435&cpage=2

  103. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. January 2016 at 21:01

    I suspect that Bob here probably knows the answer:

    https://bobwp.com/create-wordpress-navigation-menus/

    https://bobwp.com/contact/

  104. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 22:07

    “Salma is right on the coast”

    -No, it is not. It is deep in the mountains.

    IS doesn’t get all that much revenue for its oil and it’s selling it at below market price to Turkey. That’s because the territory it controls doesn’t contain that much oil. Now southern Iraq, meanwhile, as well as Libya, contain lots of oil fields.

    The Syrian Kurds recently had armed conflict with the Syrian rebels, but still cooperate with the Assad government in Qamishli and Hasakah. TallDave, you know nothing of this war.

    Chinese factories would be a good idea, but Syrians already have decent entrepreneurship skills.

    As for the showing of Russian veterans, can’t complain. :-)

    “Hostile to us”? More like the reverse:

    http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02659/john-kerry-assad-s_2659846b.jpg

  105. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 22:09

    “There’s no indication on your homepage of how many comments there are for each post.”

    -Yes, there is. I find it helpful.

  106. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. January 2016 at 22:39

    E. Harding, I see one on the home page of a particular post, like here:

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31435

    But I don’t see one here (what I think of as the homepage):

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/

    But then maybe I’m just not looking in the right place.

  107. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. January 2016 at 22:45

    “[number] Comment” is just to the right of the date.

  108. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. January 2016 at 22:48

    Sure enough. Thanks!

  109. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    23. January 2016 at 00:11

    I had to laugh when I saw some of the new videos this guy put out in the past month or so. I’m not in 100% agreement w/ all his ideas, but he does a great job here of skewering some folks that really deserve it this time: namely science hating morons, Nazi-comparison spewing creationist god-botherers, and hyper-feminists:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzZL4M1yVbY&list=PL_na2ldi6hZ-xmfCJeYLhGycm3EUbuLTI
    Unbelievable! Enjoy.

  110. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    23. January 2016 at 07:53

    namely science hating morons, Nazi-comparison spewing creationist god-botherers, and hyper-feminists:

    What are you talking about? It’s a four minute video by some snotty Brit about CO2 emissions, and it’s not even mildly amusing.

  111. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    23. January 2016 at 08:31

    I’m talking about all three in the play list. Next one is about the Nazi-comparison spewing creationist (Eric Hovind). Really it’s the insanity of the claim that Hitler’s religion was “evolution” which is what Hovind does. The last is about the hyper-feminist. The last is the best of the three: pure insanity.

  112. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    23. January 2016 at 10:22

    Art, that “snotty Brit” is a really good YTer. He was kicked out of the lair of SJWs in mid-2012, after which he turned against them. Agree with Tom’s assessment of him.

  113. Gravatar of Mike Rulle Mike Rulle
    24. January 2016 at 06:33

    Tom Brown found your pages. It split into 3 because you had so many comments, and large ones. He has the first two. You find him in the default comment section which is the equivalent of page 3 when you hit comment in normal way. Then you can go to his links for the other two pages. You have 113 comments counting this one. He has fix theories for you. Or just don’t write about politics again.

  114. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    24. January 2016 at 17:30

    Sumner wrote:

    “To a libertarian like me…”

    Hahahahahahahahahaha

  115. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    25. January 2016 at 10:34

    @E. Harding, well we can agree on something! My biggest complaint about Thunderf00t though is his dogged focus on Anita Sarkeezian. I get it: she’s a nut, but is she really that interesting? I’m not a gamer, so she just doesn’t come up on my radar screen. I could do with about 1/10 the number of videos he focuses on her. There’s plenty of other interesting insanity out there to take a look at. I could send him a list. (I emailed the guy at crackpotwatch once about why no coverage of a few obvious crackpots I encountered out there, and he said he’s overwhelmed… he said he’d add them to the list but no promises about when he’d get around to them… that guy could use some help!).

    Regarding the blog auto-creating multiple comments pages when the number of comments hit’s 50 (or whatever it is): Look’s like Bob here can’t help.

  116. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    25. January 2016 at 10:37

    @E. Harding: what do you think of Thunderf00t’s videos on Stefan Molyneux?

  117. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    27. January 2016 at 14:48

    E. Harding — for God’s sake, look at a map. Salma is not “deep in the mountains” it is right on the coastal mountain range. If there is fighting in Salma, the coast is not safe, even if any place in the middle of country the size of Oregon in the midst of a civil could be said to be safe.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salma,_Syria

    So you’re going to invade Southern Iraq now to steal the Shia’s oilfields? This is just batshit insane. The entire world would react in utter horror to such naked aggression.

    I can’t be bothered with this moronic babble.

  118. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    27. January 2016 at 15:01

    For the record, Samra is about two miles from the coast. It would be hard for Samra to be any more coastal without actual water access. Samra Beach is about an eight minute drive away.

    https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Samra+Beach/Samra,+Syria/@35.9202956,35.9265362,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x152429e0091a88bd:0x58d17efee129c1cf!2m2!1d35.9162289!2d35.9284906!1m5!1m1!1s0x1524299f6a8a22a5:0x3f15a85e0943c8aa!2m2!1d35.9543531!2d35.9159559

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