Forza Italia!

In the 1990s, Berlusconi founded a new political party called “Forza Italia”, which means something like “Go Italy!” or “Be Strong Italy!”  He was going to push his country past the inept Italian politics of the past.  Although nominally conservative, Berlusconi’s party didn’t have much of an ideology.  It appealed to all sorts of disgruntled people, especially the less educated, and mostly relied on media image making.  Berlusconi was very wealthy, and involved in TV, and also was involved with a string of beautiful young women, some underage.  A walking ad for Viagra. He was also the kind of guy that would sue people for libel when they criticized him, so perhaps I need to be careful here.  (The Economist won its libel suit, and warned the Italians that Berlusconi was unfit for office.  When the Economist says a candidate is completely unfit for office, it’s worth listening.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 8.58.56 PM

Voters didn’t have much to go on except his promises to rejuvenate Italy.  But since traditional parties had failed, and the Italian economy had been growing very slowly, they decided to put their faith in a politician with a macho image, who made crude jokes and was a fan of Vladimir Putin.  What could be worse then an economy mired in a malaise of slow economic growth?  Wait and see.

Between 2001 and 2011, Berlusconi was in power for all but 2 years.  So I went to Eurostat (which is insanely confusing) to see how the Italian economy had done in the 21st century, compared to other European economies.  Yes, I know it’s been a tough period for all of Europe, but let’s see how Italy did in relative terms.  At least they avoided a big Greek-style financial crisis.

In all of Europe, the slowest growing economy was Portugal, whose RGDP increased by 0.8% between 2000 and 2013 (the most recent data available.) That’s not 0.8% per year, that’s a total increase of 0.8% in 13 years!  So at least Italy wasn’t the worst?  Not quite, I said Portugal was the slowest growing.  There was one country where the economy actually shrank over the 13 year period between 2000 and 2013.  Can you guess which one?

That’s right, the one presided over by the jerk with the smirk:

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 8.41.04 PM

PS.  During the same period Germany grew by 14.9%, France grew by 14.3%, Spain grew by 19.0%, and even Greece managed to grow by 1.5%.  But Italy shrank.  Apparently Viagra is not enough to make an economy grow.

PPS.  I’m not trying to tell you how to vote. But if you encounter any Berlusconi-type macho politicians, who brag about their sexual prowess, just recall what he failed to do for Italy.

PPPS.  Here’s how The Economist reported its victory in the libel lawsuit:

Cash will do nicely, Silvio

He may have heard that phrase before, but at least we kept our clothes on

PPPPS.  Isn’t it nice to finally have a post with no mention of American politics!


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92 Responses to “Forza Italia!”

  1. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 17:47

    I am well aware of Italy’s disastrous economic state during the 2000s, especially when adjusted for currency inflows. The problem is structural; the country has been falling behind Germany at a constant rate for at least a decade and a half, without acceleration during the past five years. I almost wrote a post on it on Against Jebel al-Lawz.

    “When the Economist says a candidate is completely unfit for office, it’s worth listening.”

    -No. The Economist is a stopped clock. Its opinions are completely worthless.

    “it’s libel suit”

    -Its.

    “I’m not trying to tell you how to vote. But if you encounter any Berlusconi-type macho politicians, who brag about their sexual prowess, just recall what he failed to do for Italy.”

    -I do. I’m not too worried.

    Sumner, could you point to the specific economic policies which have kept Italy such a disaster over Berlusconi’s days in office?

  2. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 17:58

    Here’s the graph of Italy’s economic decline relative to Germany:

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=4yRK

  3. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    25. May 2016 at 18:02

    Berlusconi was a terrible and corrupt leader.

    I have many family relatives living in Italy. It pains me to see what’s happening. The 20-something Italians that have graduated college can’t find decent work. In USA, there’s tons of jobs for most college graduates. One cousin in Italy has an econ degree, btw.

    The problems from my untrained eye are corrupt instititions, government make work, heavy-handed redistribution, high private taxes, high regulation. Off the cuff, I think they need more libertarian style system that is more friendly to entreprenuriship, private business and ownership, foreign investment, free trade. I don’t think they need mass immigration. The natives can’t find decent jobs.

    Trump has a similar smug smirk and personality. So what? That’s superficial stuff. If I thought Trump was going to trigger Italy style problems in the US, I __definitely__ would be horrified by the prospect. I don’t see it at all.

    If Trump picks supreme court justices from his list, and sticks with economic advice approved by Larry Kudlow, and any other crazy impulses are reigned in by his advisors, I think a Trump presidency can turn out well.

    I would absolutely prefer moving away from a single president with a personality towards more faceless technocrats. I would also prefer more vote with your feet dynamics rather than vote on a ballot elections.

  4. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:03

    This is also interesting:

    “In 2015, Forbes magazine ranked him as the 141st richest man in the world with a net worth of US$8.0 billion.”

  5. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:05

    Massimo, what caused the Italian miracle of the 1950s-1980s and what caused Italy’s economic deterioration since the 1990s? I don’t have a firm grasp on this issue.

  6. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    25. May 2016 at 18:07

    I’m surprised you neglected to mention his *alleged* mob ties.

  7. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:10

    And, in any case, in certain countries, foreign affairs and court picks must take precedence in deciding whom to support as the executive over economic policy, which is controlled by the legislative branch. Sometimes, both candidates on offer are, by any reasonable standards, pretty poor, with one candidate saying about the other he or she would “make a great president or vice-president” but attacking him or her vigorously nevertheless throughout the general election process.

  8. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:13

    BTW, it is not clear the Italian center-left would have done anything better: when it got the chance, it got things screwed up even more massively than they were before. Sad!

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. May 2016 at 18:14

    Harding, I have no idea what you are trying to show with that graph, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t show what you are trying to show.

    Massimo, You said:

    “That’s superficial stuff.”

    Name a single thing about Trump that is not “superficial stuff”.

  10. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    25. May 2016 at 18:15

    Harding,

    “what caused the Italian miracle of the 1950s-1980s and what caused Italy’s economic deterioration since the 1990s? I don’t have a firm grasp on this issue.”

    Demographic decline would be high on my list (some of the world’s lowest birthrates), plus the obvious structural thing, plus the non obvious fact that Northern Italy is still amongst Europe’s wealthiest regions, rivals Italy and Southern Germany. Also see Scott’s recent Econlog post.

    BUT: There’s one thing I can’t help pointing out.

    1950s-1980: Italy ruled by opaque cliques of political professionals (what Americans hate about their current system).

    1990s onward: Italy ruled by politics-as-entertainment (Berlusconi to Grillo) (what Americans hope to get from Trump)

    Wish you luck.

  11. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:20

    I’m talking RGDP/worker terms, not RGDP terms. In RGDP terms, the Italian miracle ended in the 1960s, when both the number of people employed and unemployed fell.

    Both Northern and Southern Italy have suffered for the past decade; southern Italy worse. Southern Italy stopped catching up with Northern Italy around 1973.

  12. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    25. May 2016 at 18:25

    There is only one rational choice for president….Johnson/Weld….

    Why would you support the Libertarian in the last 2 elections and support Hillary this year? This is the year that the Libertarian party could pull double digits and pull out of obscurity and have a large impact on policy regardless of who gets elected. Johnson is pulling 10% and if he can get up to 15%, be in the national debate….and be honored with a Trump Nickname…perhaps “Little Johnson”

  13. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:27

    Engineer, this has nothing to do with American politics. And Johnson supports Nazi wedding cakes, while Weld was a less libertarian governor than Bill Clinton. And, BTW, the libertarian party will undoubtedly get a smaller %age than John Anderson. Polls this time of year are unreliable.

  14. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:29

    “Harding, I have no idea what you are trying to show with that graph, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t show what you are trying to show.”

    -Italy’s economic decline relative to Germany. And I’m pretty sure that graph shows that. What’s wrong with it?

  15. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    25. May 2016 at 18:33

    The American predecessor to Mr. T was…President Ronald Reagan.

    Reagan was also an entertainer, and a virulent protectionist and ardent nationalist. The rhetoric soared to the sky with promises of a superlative American century or even millennium. Pax Americana!

    A trade war was effected against Japan.

    America did well under Reagan, economically speaking.

    Actually, I may vote for Bernie Sanders. He is a socialist and says he is a socialist. An old-fashioned Brooklyn socialist who never changed. Nice guy, probably, if stuck in his ways.

    The other candidates are socialist-nationalist-crony capitalists, but talk a good game otherwise.

    “The Economist won it’s libel suit, and warned the Italians that Berlusconi was unfit for office.” –Scott Sumner.

    Yes, but please don’t mangle the English language. Learn to fear the apostrophe! It is unfit for the sentence you wrote!

  16. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. May 2016 at 18:34

    Ben, You are right about the apostrophe, but nothing else.

    Harding. There are two lines on that graph. Tell me very specifically what each line shows.

  17. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. May 2016 at 18:56

    I pointed out the apostrophe first!

    The blue line shows (Italy’s real GDP divided by its GDP deflator) divided by (Germany’s real GDP divided by Germany’s GDP deflator). This is to account for differences in real GDP simply caused by one country having a greater inflow of Euros into its GDP than another, thus leading to both higher prices and higher real GDP. For example, in the early years of the Euro, Germany’s nominal GDP grew slower than everyone else’s, which made Germany’s real GDP grow slower than if no Euros were flowing out of Germany into Southern Europe. This makes no sense for countries with different currencies, but makes perfect sense if both countries use the same currency.

    The red line is simpler to understand, and is just Italy’s Real GDP divided by Germany’s.

    Ben Cole is right on everything.

  18. Gravatar of Chuck Chuck
    25. May 2016 at 19:54

    “Johnson supports Nazi wedding cakes”

    What’s wrong with that? The Nazis had style.

  19. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    25. May 2016 at 20:48

    Chuck, glad I’m not the only one titililated by those feldgrau SS uniforms. Evil never looked so good.

  20. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    25. May 2016 at 20:51

    Quora Q: Which president’s administration was the most corrupt in US history?

    Answer:

    #1 Richard Nixon.

    Watergate was an attempt to rig the election. Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, was indicted for corruption and resigned before Nixon.

    #2 Ronald Reagan.

    Reagan’s administration had the most number of indictments and convictions of any president. It’s astounding that Reagan wasn’t impeached for the Iran-Contra affair. His cabinet also rigged contracts so that they rewarded contributors to his campaign through the HUD. Scandals also plagued the EPA under Reagan.
    See: https://en.wikipedia.o

    Oh, how the memory fades, and the legends grow.

    Reagan the Nationalist (obvious from his speeches), Reagan the Great Protectionist (so said Cato Institute), Reagan of the “incoherent” monetary policy (so said Allan Meltzer), Reagan of the Plaza Accords (which forced appreciation on the currencies of major trading partners) and Reagan The Corrupt Administrator.

    All forgiven and forgotten!

    Actually, I was working at US News & World Report back in those days (a right-wing pub) and even that magazine ran a cover story on the rampant corruption of the Reagan Administration. For the record, I was a Reagan fan.

    But I am not a Trump fan. Too many years, too much cynicism induced.

    But Trump is amazing. He has demolished the entire GOP establishment, the punditry, the magazine (National Review), the RNC, the super-PACs, even Fox News. The pathetic weakling right-wing think tanks, sniveling alongside the ruins of their crushed party. Ha!

    Trump is the most fascinating political figure of the postwar era.

  21. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. May 2016 at 20:54

    Ben, Hitler was also fascinating.

    Of course I’m not comparing the two, just pointing out that both were fascinating. As are you, of course. :)

  22. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    25. May 2016 at 22:29

    I expect corruption in a Trump presidency. But is that because of his boorish behavior (by some but not all standards) or something deeper?

    I thought Reagan would run a clean ship, but history says it was a garbage scow.

    Expectations are not always fulfilled.

  23. Gravatar of Mattias Mattias
    25. May 2016 at 22:31

    I really liked Tyler Cowen’s interview with Luigi Zingales where they talked about things like the demise of the Italian economy and Berlusconi’s similarity with Trump.

    https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/watch-a-conversation-with-luigi-zingales-c5ed3601a8f0#.41fsyb7p3

    Worth checking out if you have missed it.

  24. Gravatar of Nigel PJ Nigel PJ
    25. May 2016 at 23:01

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Daily Telegraph:

    The latest Ipsos MORI survey shows that 48pc of Italians would vote to leave the EU as well as the euro if given a chance.

    The rebel Five Star movement of comedian Beppe Grillo has not faded away, and Mr Grillo is still calling for debt default and a restoration of the Italian lira to break out of the German mercantilist grip (as he sees it). His party leads the national polls at 28pc, and looks poised to take Rome in municipal elections next month.

    The rising star on the Italian Right, the Northern League’s Matteo Salvini, told me at a forum in Pescara that the euro was “a crime against humanity” – no less – which gives you some idea of where this political debate is going.

    The official unemployment rate is 11.4pc. That is deceptively low. The European Commission says a further 12pc have dropped out of the data, three times the average EU for discouraged workers.

    The youth jobless rate is 65pc in Calabria, 56pc in Sicily, and 53pc in Campania, despite an exodus of 100,000 a year from the Mezzogiorno – often in the direction of London.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/05/11/italy-must-chose-between-the-euro-and-its-own-economic-survival/

  25. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    25. May 2016 at 23:48

    Great post.

  26. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    26. May 2016 at 01:15

    Sumner has to sink to the gutter to cast sexual innuendos: “Berlusconi was very wealthy, and involved in TV, and also was involved with a string of beautiful young women, some underage”. Age of consent varies around the world; some places it’s 16, if a teen girl consents and her family is behind it, why not? As for Viagra, very few men past 40 to 60 can equal their performance at age 20 without some pharma, so Sumner, who I guess is caste or a super-stud, has a problem with that? Let the rest of us be, Mr. Weirdo. As for Greece managing 1.5% over 13 years, without a Berlusconi, does Sumner think that Italy, without Berlusconi, would also equal Greece’s pathetic performance? Not much improvement if you ask me.

    Finally, it’s not Berlusconi who ‘makes jobs’ or ‘makes the economy grow’ but it’s the entire country of Italy, private and public. One man doesn’t make a big difference.

    A new low by Sumner. No wonder I stopped reading this site. And where is your post on the Philippines? It’s the only reason I return here, to see how mistaken you are.

  27. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    26. May 2016 at 02:42

    Your ISP has blacklisted
    http://www.themoneyillusion.com Category: Trump Derangement Syndrome

  28. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    26. May 2016 at 04:17

    1. I think Italy is Italy, and most of its slide versus neighboring countries has come in the past five years. Berlusconi, like Trump, is something of a goof, but the comparison is no more compelling than a Cristina Kirchner/ Hillary Clinton comparison.

    2. Jeffrey Gundlach has been more right on interest rates than just about anybody over the past several years. Here’s an interesting and worthwhile link (let’s keep it positive, not normative, ok):

    http://www.advisorperspectives.com/articles/2016/05/16/gundlach-trump-will-win

  29. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    26. May 2016 at 04:51

    Per the World Bank, Italy’s real gross domestic product grew 2% between 2001 and 2011. It has declined since SB left office.

    Italy joined the Euro in 1999 and has had below-replacement total fertility rates since 1976.

  30. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    26. May 2016 at 05:00

    I thought Reagan would run a clean ship, but history says it was a garbage scow.

    No, partisan Democrats made a great deal of hay (‘the sleaze factor’) over things like Emmanual Savas having his secretary proofread a book manuscript he was working on, Nancy Steorts spending $10,000 of agency money redecorating her office, Edwin Meese getting an extension on a loan from someone who got a patronage job from the administration (a p/t gig on the Postal Board of Governors for which the compensation was sofa change for Mr. Meese’s creditor), &c. The biggest scandal concerned the Mod Rehab program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at the locus of which was one Deborah Gore Dean. HUD had a long history of shady practices. Congress never thinks to just shut it down.

  31. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    26. May 2016 at 05:06

    This blog post is a textbook example of confirmation bias.

    As if none of the other European countries with positive growth elected candidates who had bravado and arrogance just like Trump!

    What you are doing Sumner is selecting the country with low growth, and then searching high and low for similarities between Trump and Berlusconi, and ignoring the differences between Trump and Berlusconi, and ignoring the similarities between Trump and heads of state of other European countries with positive growth.

    Google “confirmation bias”, Sumner. Your anti-Trump tirade has hit rock bottom.

  32. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. May 2016 at 05:10

    Mattias, I need to check that one out.

    Nigel, Yes, I did a post on Southern Italy a few months back—it’s even worse than most people assume.

    Thanks Lorenzo.

    Brian, You said:

    “but the comparison is no more compelling than a Cristina Kirchner/ Hillary Clinton comparison”

    I don’t recall making that comparison on substance, Hillary is no where near as bad. Maybe I compared them as ways of getting around term limits. (Although Kirchner’s husband died, so that doesn’t make much sense.) Banana republic tend to have wives follow husbands, was that the comparison?

    I think Trump is very, very similar to Berlusconi, they are almost twins. Trump could be a bad President in many different ways, but I think the most likely is not the “fascism” route, but rather the “ineffective buffoon who balloons the deficit” route, just like Berlusconi.

    Ray, LOL, still as clueless as ever. Lighten up, I’m probably one of the few bloggers who would defend your “lifestyle”. I was not criticizing Berlusconi, I actually prefer the European attitude toward sex, which is less puritanical than in American. I was just having some fun with a macho buffoon who thought he could Make Italy Great Again, and failed about as miserably as a person could fail.

    My Philippines post was on the recent election, and was done a few weeks back. Another Trump comparison.

    Saturos, Sorry, but what does that mean? Remember, I’m computer illiterate.

    Art, Your data is meaningless, the question is how has Italy done compared to other European countries. And the answer is worse, even during 2001-11.

  33. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. May 2016 at 05:12

    I actually agree with Art on Reagan, and wasn’t the guy involved in the biggest scandal latter completely vindicated? (Was it Donovan?)

  34. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    26. May 2016 at 05:20

    #1 Richard Nixon. Watergate was an attempt to rig the election. Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, was indicted for corruption and resigned before Nixon.

    No. Nixon did not need to ‘rig’ the election and had no means to do so given that federal officials do not administer elections. George McGovern was a wretched candidate when outside the cocoon of Democratic primaries. Given the circumstances (Nixon’s approval rating was about 55%), he underperformed more severely than any losing presidential candidate in the last 60-odd years. Stevenson and Goldwater were facing men with 70+% approval ratings and Mondale, Dole, and Kerry at least polled the converse of their opponents’ approval ratings. Wiretapping Lawrence O’Brien’s phone wasn’t going to turn the tide for Mr. Nixon and officials like Robert Mardian were stupefied that Gordon Liddy and crew thought it worth the time and effort under any set of circumstances. As for Agnew, the issue was kickbacks he’d taken on construction projects while Governor of Maryland. It had nothing to do with the Nixon Administration at all. Nixon and Agnew did not care for each other personally and were estranged from 1973 until Nixon died. The Nixon Administration had no trouble with corruption. It was abuse of power which was the problem (and less acutely so than we face today).

    #2 Ronald Reagan.

    Reagan’s administration had the most number of indictments and convictions of any president. It’s astounding that Reagan wasn’t impeached for the Iran-Contra affair. His cabinet also rigged contracts so that they rewarded contributors to his campaign through the HUD. Scandals also plagued the EPA under Reagan.

    The ‘scandals’ in the EPA were manufactured outrage against officials who were unsympathetic to the EPA’s institutional mission. It’s not ‘astounding’ that Reagan was not impeached over Iran-Contra. Iran-Contra was a project of John Poindexter, Oliver North et al and the main offense was defiance of congressional intent, something you could indict the current administration for over and over. Many of the ‘indictments’ of Reagan officials were humbug (Elliot Abrams, Caspar Weinberger) by an abusive prosecutor.

  35. Gravatar of myb6 myb6
    26. May 2016 at 05:23

    Trump is Berlusconi-ish is a much more reasonable claim than Trump is Hitler-ish. And funnier. Thank you.

    But back to money, I read a lot of George Selgin’s posts on your recommendation. Good stuff. Do you agree with his take on NGDPLT vs Price level targeting? Do you think the difference is large? I’ve wondered about Price level targeting being an easier sell than NGDPLT, because the machinery is already in place.

  36. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    26. May 2016 at 05:23

    Sumner wrote:

    “Ben, Hitler was also fascinating.

    “Of course I’m not comparing the two, just pointing out that both were fascinating. As are you, of course.”

    Sumner is immitating Trump.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/279068-trump-on-jeb-i-will-not-say-hes-low-energy

    You know what they say about immitation and flattery.

    ————————–

    Sumner attacks and mocks the gold standard. Do you know who else did that?

    “We were not foolish enough to try to make a currency [backed by] gold of which we had none […] We laugh at the time our national financiers held the view that the value of a currency is regulated by the gold and securities lying in the vaults of a state bank.” – Adolph Hitler

    Of course, I’m not comparing Sumner to Hitler. I’m just saying Hitler would have agreed with Sumner.

  37. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    26. May 2016 at 05:51

    There are a lot of sociopaths in the anti-Trump crowd:

    http://www.infowars.com/more-kill-trump-threats-flood-twitter-before-potential-anaheim-riots/

    It would seem that the followers of his opponents are Hitler enablers.

  38. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    26. May 2016 at 05:56

    Not seeing a big difference in policy between Hillary and The Don. I think it is likely that the Don will actually be to the left of Hillary on fiscal policy because he will be able force the Republicans in congress to support big increases in government spending that they would otherwise never support if Hillary were president. Hillary would enact a lot of silly presidential stuff that will infuriate the religious right, like Obama, since the executive keeps getting more and more power in this country and can make and interpret laws as they see fit.

    I think Bill Clinton was fairly libertarian because he knew that he did not have a mandate…43% of the vote I recall..with Perot getting around 19%…and he had no challenges from the left of this party. He famously claimed that by keeping spending down he could lower interest rates and stimulate the economy via monetary policy….

    I don’t think a big win by Hillary is going to result in the same approach…Hillary also has some personality disorders that I find disturbing. The private email server, vast rightwing conspiracy theories on Bill’s sex problems… all signs of a paranoid mind…lets face it she is a mean, nasty woman running against a narcissist…

    Personally, like the majority of Americans, I really dislike both candidates… hence I am voting for men I admire instead..it is the only way not to waste my vote. (don’t really care if they only get 1%)

  39. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    26. May 2016 at 06:34

    I actually prefer the European attitude toward sex, which is less puritanical than in American.

    About 1/3 of the children born in this country are bastards and about 1/5 of all preganancies end in surgical abortion. Prevailing mores in this country haven’t been properly described as ‘puritanical’ in 90 years, and have been particularly slatternly in the last 50

  40. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    26. May 2016 at 06:41

    An old-fashioned Brooklyn socialist who never changed.

    I think Sanders had a brief association with the youth league of the old Norman Thomas Socialist Party, ca. 1962. However, his principal associations have been with the Liberty Union Party (a purely Vermont outfit) and the civic association he himself founded in Burlington. He was, ca. 1982 an aficionado of Trotskyist literature and had no time for Michael Harrington’s organization. I do not think he’s belonged to any of the descendants of the Socialist Party of old (not Max Schachtman’s, not Michael Harrington’s, not David MacReynolds’).

  41. Gravatar of brendan brendan
    26. May 2016 at 06:42

    lol, yeah, it’s true, they’re twins. But Berlusconi *IS* the establishment in Italy, whereas the Bushes and Clintons are here.

    If in 2001 we gave them Bush, and took back Berlusconi, both countries would be better off :)

    Moderation in all things.

    BTW, you enjoying your boy Russ Westbrook, Scott?

  42. Gravatar of brendan brendan
    26. May 2016 at 07:28

    On Ben voting for an “old fashioned brooklyn socialist”:

    Sanders is an idiot. Put aside whether he’s unusually sincere and down for the cause – those two traits are way overrated. He has an absurd view of how the world works.

    I don’t know the direction of causation but reading and thinking lots about Marxism/Socialism permanently ruins people’s brains. Their conceptual repertoire is permanently shrunken.

    I’ll give an example: Steven Pinker explains the historical decline in violence w/ reference to a bunch of pacifying psychological tendencies (i.e. empathy, self-control, the moral sense, and rationality), and institutions that have amplified their effects (a powerful state, trade, bourgeois values, etc.)

    People like Bernie steeped in Marxist ideas appear literally incapable of thinking of progress being driven by impersonal forces aligning folks’ interests, folks noticing what those forces are doing, which changes norms, and so on.

    Bernie (domestically at least) has one hammer. Some groups of people are bad. Others are good. And progress comes from coordinated bravery amongst the good.

    I prefer the sanely insincere to the sincerely insane.

  43. Gravatar of pgbh pgbh
    26. May 2016 at 07:31

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvio_Berlusconi#Controversies makes for highly entertaining reading.

  44. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. May 2016 at 10:09

    Harding, Isn’t that just NGDP divided by the deflator squared? That’s a really bizarre concept, which makes no sense to me. For Zimbabwe, that number would be basically zero. But zero what? What are the units you are trying to express? Zimbabwe’s WHAT is zero?

    Myb6, Obviously Trump is nothing like “Hitler” as we imagine the term today.

    I think NGDPLT is better, how much better depends on the size of the supply shocks. The bigger the supply shocks the more than NGDPLT is better. For the US, I’d say modestly better.

    Engineer, I agree that Hillary’s personality is less than optimal (and isn’t that true of most people, including me?) But Trump is a raging lunatic.

    Art, I was referring to upper middle class sexual attitudes, which are clearly more puritanical than in Europe. Imagine trying to legalize prostitution in the US!

    There are lots of teenage moms in the US, but we look down on them much more than the Europeans do.

    Brendan, I was wondering if anyone would remember. If only I had the courage of my convictions when I said “Look out for OKC”. But alas, that’s a pretty weak prediction. I liked him even even better a few years ago, when he was not quite as good a basketball player, but a better athlete. Maybe the best athlete I’ve ever seen in any sport, last time they made the finals.

  45. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    26. May 2016 at 10:28

    @ssumner

    -Again, that makes no sense for comparing countries with different currencies. But it makes perfect sense for comparing countries that are in a single currency block. For example, think of a country that had 0% RGDP growth and 0% inflation for a decade while another in the same currency block that had 4% RGDP growth and 4% inflation for a decade. The blue line in my graph would be flat, while the red would show a clear decline for the country that had the 0% RGDP growth relative to the country that had the 4% RGDP growth.

    BTW, during the Great Depression in the U.S., NGDP divided by the deflator squared could also have some use, as it could be an imperfect indicator of when supply shocks occurred.

    “Zimbabwe’s WHAT is zero?”

    -Not sure what to call it.

    “But Trump is a raging lunatic.”

    -And Rubio and Christie were… Yes, Trump is anti-vaccine, which might suggest lunacy, but he has an intuitive understanding of great power politics. That’s why I voted for him.

    “Imagine trying to legalize prostitution in the US!”

    -Nevada has more liberal prostitution laws than Sweden.

  46. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    26. May 2016 at 11:08

    @Mattias

    The Zingales interview was great. I agree with everything except the support for mass immigration, Merkel, and Pope Francis.

    More relevant was Zingales ominous forewarning of Donald Trump from 2011:
    http://www.city-journal.org/html/dodging-trump-bullet-10850.html

    Italy was never a free market sanctuary before or after Berlusconi and his role in Italy’s problems is somewhat exaggerated. I don’t see how Trump will be this big threat to free market economics. And Sumner isn’t making that case. Especially next to Hillary. I’d still prefer a faceless free market technocrat leader over Trump, but that isn’t an option. Trump’s supreme court pick list looks great. And maybe he will tear that list up and spread wings and fly the day after he is elected, but the odds of that look low.

    I hope to read more of Sumner and crew on solutions to the ills of Italy and policy analysis for the US.

  47. Gravatar of brendan brendan
    26. May 2016 at 11:37

    Scott I feel guilty always making money betting on your ideas. First it was market up-drift after QE1, QE2, and the Evans Rule, then Abe, and now I got +350 on OKC to beat GS before the series!

    To thank you I’ll cut a check to Trump in your name.

    Yeah, Westbrook is something else. He, Lebron, and Mike Vick are the freakiest athletes I’ve ever seen. Pretty nuts to see a 7 foot pogo stick like Durant move that way too.

    In a prior comment you’d asked “what trump supporter is worth listening to”, and I responded but the comment never showed either because I used to mild profanity or I misclicked, but anyway here’s the brief version.

    Rather than thinking about which supporter is worth listening to imagine the sorts of things you’d have to believe to at least understand sympathy for him, i.e. what premises.

    The main ones are:
    1) Iraq War 2 was knowably stupid in advance. (see Greg Cochran)
    2) PC influenced the Iraq mistake in multiple important ways – see Buchanan being shouted down for suggesting core supporters/propagandists were biased by ties to Israel, and also that it was taboo to say something like “post WW2 experience in germany and japan not relevant here because Iraqi’s aren’t german and japanese.” Sailer’s “cousin marriage conundrum” re Iraqi tribalism is nice example of what should’ve been talked about but wasn’t.
    3) Neocon core of republican establishment lost no power to the traditionalist wing (despite clear verdict re mideast predictions), and, unless Trump or Rand Paul emerged from the primary, would’ve took the reins once again, and indefinitely.
    4) Immigration is THE national question from a long-horizon perspective; and knowledge from whole scientific disciplines are being quashed; and the honest debate on this question is not allowed.

    So on war and immigration – two huge issues where who gets elected matters (wars often binary; and immigration policy actually can be substantially changed, unlike the accumulated economic regulatory burden) – we believe the GOP lost its mind.

    And was very unlikely to regain its mind.

    And – this is key – failed to stand up for its bravest people. Heritag’es young Jason Richwine applied standard pscyhometrics to the Hispanic immigration question. The mob found out. Paul Krugman called him a WHITE SUPREMACIST. And Heritage forced him to resign.

    That’s a big deal, it’s BS, and it’s the norm. It happens all the time. We need to be able to debate things openly.

    Trump is in many ways a loon. But he’s showing that flipping off the PC-police is a winning strategy. Even if he’s utterly full of it he’s absolutely weakening PC, and making it easier and more likely other smart – and hopefully less volatile – unconventional right-wingers follow suit.

    So that’s how you end up at least understanding Trump sympathy.

    I criticize you not for not liking Trump (I mean Charles Murray hates him – so you’re definitely allowed to!) but for two other things. 1) Lack of proportion. I think you’re de-sensitized to the Left’s insanity. It’s just normal for them to stoke race riots, and to lie incessantly about the limits of what racism/sexism can explain, and the source of gender wage gaps, and to only care about black lives when there’s an opportunity to demonize police/whites, etc. Trump’s brand of crazy is far less dangerous – but it’s novel. But political violence in the US is almost entirely a left wing thing, nowadays. 2) You occasionally say things like “I see no evidence immigration affects national cohesion.”, which I can’t even fathom.

    So in one line: you sympathize w/ trump if you’re a right-wing kinda guy who thinks the GOP would’ve remained intractably nuts on war and immigration, and would’ve continued to put up no resistance to unfair PC-censorship (which is THE source of the anger and extremeness you’re seeing on the alt-right), w/ out the Donald.

    (Oh, and the Jew thing, it’s just that – if you’re the noticing type – it gets annoying how much left-wing Jewish people bust the balls of traditionalist white middle americans, and how so many of the Jewish folks on the right seem so pre-occupied w/ that one country in the mid-east that’s home to 1/1,000th of the world’s people. I remember reading a survey of what different segments of the US population thought of each other. White Evangelicals liked Jews – liked all Americans, actually. Jews rated White Evangelical Americans lower than anybody – including foreign Muslims. I’m against all kinds of bigotry and think Jewish people would think more reasonably about their fellow American’s if you were allowed to criticize some of them for unreasonably harsh feelings towards decent fellow Americans.)

  48. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    26. May 2016 at 12:54

    Art, I was referring to upper middle class sexual attitudes, which are clearly more puritanical than in Europe. Imagine trying to legalize prostitution in the US!

    But of course, who else is there?

    My suggestion to people who want Swedish sexual mores is to move to a country where they have them. It gets a little bit better here when they do.

  49. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    26. May 2016 at 12:59

    There are lots of teenage moms in the US, but we look down on them much more than the Europeans do.

    We don’t, really. And the problem is not that they’re ‘teen-age’. My mother’s contemporaries included quite a few of those, but they were her contemporaries, not those who came after. They were married and ready to begin domestic life. Impetuous and trashy young women breeding bastards is a disagreeable phenomenon, even if there’s less of it than there was 35 years ago. Abortion is a horror. There’s a reason people’s attitudes in well-ordered societies are ‘puritanical’.

  50. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    26. May 2016 at 13:26

    Forza Sumnarino!

    Forza Escottimo!

  51. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    26. May 2016 at 14:07

    Scott, was Berlusconi from the Queens? I’m trying to figure out who they’re talking about here:

    M: I think he’s – yes, I think he’s actually a douchebag from Queens.

    L: Very authentic.

    M: And, you know what? Let me tell you – let me tell you something. I – I – as I said before – and, you grew up on the East Coast before you moved to California. Okay. All right. I know this guy. I know this East Coast guy, the guy who says, “I’m gonna get you a great deal.” “I know a guy – I know a guy who knows a guy”—

    R: “Who knows a guy…”

    M: “Who’s gonna get you a great deal.” He just took this national. He took that character —— which is such an East Coast thing that we know, and he took it national. And they don’t – they’ve never seen it before. And, they are going to be so disappointed —— when he can’t get you a great deal. That’s – that’s exactly who he is.

  52. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    26. May 2016 at 19:33

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/191855/russians-approval-leadership-drops-record.aspx

  53. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    26. May 2016 at 22:20

    Maybe Trump will be more like Reagan, maybe he will be more like Berlusconi. I agree that it is more likely that he will be more like Berlusconi.

    What I miss in most posts about Trump/Berlusconi/etc is that you don’t really explain how things could go so wrong. And no “people are so stupid” is not an explanation to me.

    This question applies to Berlusconi, too. Italy elected Berlusconi so often because there was no other obvious choice. The Democrazia Cristiana failed. All the other parties failed. Before Berlusconi there was Mani puliti, Tangentopoli, Pentapartito and Il Divo. This was hardly better than Berlusconi.

    The GDP under Berlusconi was pretty bad but what really hurt him was the Great Recession. That’s how you got those numbers you presented.

    Let’s say Berlusconi was really that bad in economic terms – which is not true because he actually tried to do reform. But let’s say he was so bad then you would expect a really nice GDP explosion right after he left office. Or at least during the last five years. But this did not happen at all. The opposite is true: The numbers since 2011 are even worse.

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?id=CLVMNACSCAB1GQIT,

  54. Gravatar of Beniamin Cole Beniamin Cole
    26. May 2016 at 22:46

    Marco Rubio wants to be ‘helpful’ to Trump, plans to attend GOP convention–WaPo

    Marco is jetting to Milan first to pick up Berlusconi and some Mussolini statuettes.

  55. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    27. May 2016 at 07:05

    More advice from Rubin:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/05/27/clinton-needs-to-keep-one-image-in-mind/

  56. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    27. May 2016 at 07:21

    Scott, you might like this. A meme I saw on RedState.com: day 4 of the presidency:
    http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/3710/9232/original.jpg?w=600&h

  57. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    27. May 2016 at 07:24

    https://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/5885291/Screen_Shot_2016-01-07_at_5.07.48_PM.0.png

    It’s been tried, Tom Brown.

    http://time.com/4172077/jeb-bush-donald-trump-billboard/

  58. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    27. May 2016 at 11:09

    @Engineer I am hoping for the libertarians to get above 2%.
    @brendan I follow Brenie on twitter and he says things that are so obviously wrong that I have to assume that he is lying. He is in congress, he cannot be that ignorant.

  59. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    27. May 2016 at 12:37

    @Tom Brown
    Nice picture of the “war room” (just don’t fight in it).

    But you guys are confusing too much very simple things. The guy who invaded countries for no reason was George W. Bush. His brother didn’t really distance himself – but still wanted to be President. He didn’t have a chance. His other two serious contenders (named Cruz and Kasich) assured us again and again that they will put US troops on the ground in countries like Syria and Iraq. Easy prey for Trump. Pay attention.

    And to the piece by Rubin. Where was such a comment by her a few years ago when Bush invaded Iraq killing hundred thousands of people and disabling even more? When this is not unhinged then what is? This is exactly that kind of hypocrisy that lead to Trump in the first place. As long as people like Rubin have something to say amongst “conservatives” they will continue losing elections. They need an authentic restart.

    And like Art said: The “unhinged” slogan has been tried before but it didn’t really stop him. I assume Hillary is still leading in some polls so it would be kind of stupid by her to heavily attack. I assume Trump would counter her attacks by talking about her e-mail scandal and her multi-million dollar speeches for Wall Street for example. And then he would say something like: “That’s so disturbing, who is really unhinged?”

  60. Gravatar of Ricky Vaughn Ricky Vaughn
    27. May 2016 at 12:41

    I’m not telling you whom to take seriously. But if you encounter econ bloggers obsessed with the sexual prowess of other men, just recall how they lost their minds and collapsed into hysterical self parody.

  61. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    27. May 2016 at 12:56

    The FRED graph did not work as intented. I had the real GDPs of Italy, France, Spain and UK indexed at the 4th quarter of 2007 as 100.

    But you can see in all real gdp graphs that Italy did not do better after Berlusconi at all. Quite the opposite is true. All the other countries improved while Italy even double-dipped around when Berlusconi left – and never came back so far. Monti was quite a disaster, Letta too, not sure about Renzi yet.

    Maybe real gdp per capita would be better but I couldn’t find data for this.

  62. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    27. May 2016 at 13:04

    @Engineer I am hoping for the libertarians to get above 2%.

    Most 3d parties you’d notice have been personal vehicles or a flash in the pan which quickly decays into a hobby for a 3-digit population of eccentrics. There have been four which have abided for awhile and incorporated a five-digit population of eccentrics. The Communist Party managed to insinuate itself in to the media and the union leadership but never broke 0.5%, much less 2%. The Prohibition Party did so just once, the year of their founding. The Socialist Party managed to do so a half-dozen times and to establish themselves as a something more than an extraparliamentary organization in Wisconsin and a few other loci, then ran out of gas. The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971. It’s best performance was ca. 1980. I think they’re likely maxed out.

  63. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    27. May 2016 at 13:06

    Where was such a comment by her a few years ago when Bush invaded Iraq killing hundred thousands of people and disabling even more?

    Jennifer Rubin’s probably figured out that the insurgency in Iraq carried loaded weapons. The folks on the Noam Chomsky – Daniel Larison axis have yet to do so.

  64. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. May 2016 at 13:19

    Harding, A few counties in Nevada where no one lives.

    I still have no idea what you are talking about. They may mean something, but if you can’t explain it to anyone else you won’t get anywhere. You couldn’t tell me what a zero value for Zimbabwe means, so I have nothing to go on.
    Brendan, You said:

    “1) Iraq War 2 was knowably stupid in advance.”

    A war that Trump supported. So you lost me right at the very first step.

    And I’m not going to even respond to your comments on Jews.

    The biggest problem of all is that you give me no reason for believing a thing Trump says. His supporters often brush off my criticism of Trump by saying he doesn’t mean what he says. OK, let’s go with that. Let’s go with what his defenders use to excuse his comments—he doesn’t believe what he says. Then how could you possibly know what his foreign policy will be? He’s a hothead. For all I know he’ll get us into a war in Estonia by leading the Russians to (wrongly) believe we would not defend Estonia.

    As for immigration, I like it and wish we had a lot more of it. Trump does nothing for me. He’s bad in every way a politician can be bad. A good president would be:

    1. Wise
    2. A gentleman
    3. An internationalist
    4. Well informed on policy.
    5. Non-vindictive
    6. A supporter of liberty

    Trump is 0 for 6. It’s hard to even imagine anyone worse.

    Ricky, You said:

    “I’m not telling you whom to take seriously. But if you encounter econ bloggers obsessed with the sexual prowess of other men, just recall how they lost their minds and collapsed into hysterical self parody.”

    Exactly. And this is even more true of presidential candidates.

    Art, You said:

    “trashy young women”

    I have a much higher opinion of “trashy young women” than elitist jerks like you.

  65. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    27. May 2016 at 13:52

    I have a much higher opinion of “trashy young women” than elitist jerks like you.

    Stop your lying.

    While we’re at it, keeping your legs closed is an activity to which women from all walks of life can aspire. Not sure how it’s ‘elitist’ to expect them to do it.

  66. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    27. May 2016 at 13:58

    As for immigration, I like it and wish we had a lot more of it.

    Why? Present tense welfare improvements are unimportant (and the problematic aspects cannot be understood with economic models). The only parts of the country which are losing population are swatches of the Plains and Appalachia; no, the immigrants are not moving there. Not one important social problem is addressed with more immigration, bar fertility deficits, and the fertility deficits can be handled with immigration streams which need be no larger than 400,000. Not one institutional problem is addressed with more immigration either. All immigration does is import foreigners who displace the extant population.

  67. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    27. May 2016 at 14:01

    Trump is 0 for 6. It’s hard to even imagine anyone worse.

    Not hard at all. Look who is running against him. While we’re at it, the current incumbent might score 1 for 6. Tyler Cowen says he’ll miss him, so it doesn’t seem the Mercatus crew really needs much of that 1-6.

  68. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    27. May 2016 at 14:15

    http://www.pewforum.org/2014/07/16/how-americans-feel-about-religious-groups/

    And I’m not going to even respond to your comments on Jews.

    He’s referring to the Pew survey summarized above. Not sure how sociologists and social psychologists interpret such surveys. At the very least, the respondents didn’t care how this looks. It also suggests that Israel and its predicament are a weak vector in influencing the worldview and self-understanding of American Jews.

    and how so many of the Jewish folks on the right seem so pre-occupied w/ that one country in the mid-east that’s home to 1/1,000th of the world’s people.

    If I’m not mistaken, Moshe Decter made his living agitating for Soviet Jews. Norman Podhoretz was an employee of the American Jewish Committee for nearly 40 years. The two men had five children between them. One made aliyah, one received her tertiary schooling in Israel, and one lived on a kibbutz in her youth and owned property there in her old age (which her surviving husband still owns, I believe). They’re somewhat atypical in their investment in Israel.

  69. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. May 2016 at 14:45

    “A war that Trump supported.”

    -Compare Trump’s “support” with Hillary’s support.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wyCBF5CsCA

    One definitely indicates a greater propensity to go with administration lies.

    “For all I know he’ll get us into a war in Estonia by leading the Russians to (wrongly) believe we would not defend Estonia.”

    -You’re nuts, Sumner. The Russians don’t want Estonia, and only an idiot would think they would.

    “than elitist jerks like you”

    Art Deco? The elitist here? LOL. It’s you who’s the elitist here, of course, as you’re battling in a doomed quest against the most successful anti-elitist presidential candidate in America in the 21st century.

    “I still have no idea what you are talking about.”

    -And I still have no idea how you don’t understand what I’m talking about. Can you please explain?

    “Then how could you possibly know what his foreign policy will be?”

    -What incentive did Trump have to criticize George W. Bush on the South Carolina debate stage? And, again, much of his foreign policy has been extremely consistent since the 1980s:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-foreign-policy-213546?paginate=false

    “You couldn’t tell me what a zero value for Zimbabwe means”

    -It means Zimbabwe is growing in nominal prices much faster than it is increasing real output.

  70. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. May 2016 at 14:46

    That is, Zimbabwe is using its nominal GDP highly inefficiently.

  71. Gravatar of Matthew Waters Matthew Waters
    27. May 2016 at 16:54

    “Trump is 0 for 6. It’s hard to even imagine anyone worse.

    Not hard at all. Look who is running against him. While we’re at it, the current incumbent might score 1 for 6. Tyler Cowen says he’ll miss him, so it doesn’t seem the Mercatus crew really needs much of that 1-6.”

    “Everybody does it” is an easy argument to fall back on. Sure, if you have some extremely high bar for something like “Non-vindictive,” then Obama and Hillary don’t meet that.

    But Trump is the candidate which wants to “open up libel laws” and threatened an antitrust investigation against Amazon because of critical reporting from Washington Post. Trump has had multiple libel suits thrown out, in addition to threatening to sue Cruz.

    On any of the six scales, it’s impossible to see how Hillary or Obama is worse than Trump.

  72. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. May 2016 at 17:35

    “On any of the six scales, it’s impossible to see how Hillary or Obama is worse than Trump.”

    -Wisdom: Trump is much wiser than Clinton. Clinton constantly changes slogans, Trump has only one.

    Gentleman: Trump is known to be a gentleman behind the scenes. Not sure about Hillary, who publicly complained of a “vast right-wing conspiracy”.

    Internationalist: Trump’s policy towards the only other major nuclear power on earth is much less conciliatory than Clinton’s.

    Well-informed on policy: Clinton has an advantage. Neither Clinton nor Trump have any concrete idea of what they’re going to do while in office, but at least Clinton knows more of the basics.

    Non-vindictive: Trump isn’t the one threatening to shut down establishment hack groups’ freedom of speech just because they made a crappy film about him called “Donald: The Movie”.

    A supporter of liberty: Hillary is not a libertarian in any sense. Trump is a true enemy of political correctness. Which one is more amenable to liberty? Trump.

    Trump has an advantage on 5/6.

  73. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. May 2016 at 20:38

    conciliatory should be confrontational

  74. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    28. May 2016 at 05:08

    “Everybody does it” is an easy argument to fall back on.

    Nice try, but that’s not my argument. We have two choices. The moderator notices the vices of one (or supposed vices) and ignores the other. The current Administration is the most abusive in the last 40 years, and on a par with the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon trio. The Mercatus crew doesn’t care. Where you see a double-standard, there’s an unconfessed single standard.

    But Trump is the candidate which wants to “open up libel laws” and threatened an antitrust investigation against Amazon because of critical reporting from Washington Post. Trump has had multiple libel suits thrown out, in addition to threatening to sue Cruz.

    A private citizen in metropolitan Orlando named George Zimmerman was defamed by an NBC affiliate in a crude and self-concious way, by cropping an audiotape. He was deemed to have no case. In a just world, the responsible individuals would be out of a job and turning over the deeds to their condos. Defamation law has been appalling in this country since at least 1967 and Trump knows that. (No comment about the merits of suits he’s been involved in).

  75. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    28. May 2016 at 05:27

    On any of the six scales, it’s impossible to see how Hillary or Obama is worse than Trump.

    Impossible to see because you’re determined not to. Let’s look one by one.

    1. Wise

    Very few people in public life (or in any walk of life) so qualify. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, perhaps. Charles Krauthammer, perhaps. Lawrence Mead, perhaps. Theodore Dalrymple. George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan (on alternate Tuesdays). David Petraeus, perhaps. Clarence Thomas, perhaps.

    2. A gentleman

    John Danforth’s a gentleman. That’ll tell you there is a definite limit to the value of that. Hellary is a crook and known as a terror to work for, so, no. The current incumbent does not have the people skills to deal well with Congress or even his own cabinet and is forever making tasteless public remarks about the opposition in a manner which hasn’t been seen since Spriro Agnew. Agnew was telling the truth. BO seldom is.

    3. An internationalist

    A nonsense term in the present day, unless you’re contrasting a politician with palaeotrolls who fancy its possible or desirable to revive inter-war isolationism. Ron Paul’s ‘Liberty Caucus’ had seven members, 3 or 4 of whom would not endorse his presidential campaign. There’s your Charles Lindbergh wannabes.

    4. Well informed on policy.

    Sarah Palin’s classier critics said she was ‘unqualified’ because she knew Alaska issues and not federal issues, thereby demonstrating they value a Harvard degree and a briefing book over actual executive experience. There are over two-dozen major areas of policy. Politicians in general executive positions may have a menu of principles which helps them parse the questions put in front of them (see R. Reagan), but they’re generally NOT knowledgeable about more than a few discrete areas. Barack Obama sat in legislative bodies for 12 years and was a recognized expert in NO area of policy (contrast with Bill Bradley or Dante Fascell). What Trump lacks is a systemic worldview (whereas BO imbibed the worldview of the educational institutions he attended and his foundation apparatchik mother). Hellary’s worldview is simple: infinite appetites.

    5. Non-vindictive

    Tell Billy R. Dale that Hellary is not vindictive. Tell the Little Sisters of the Poor that BO is not. You’ll get a nice belly-laugh from both.

    6. A supporter of liberty

    Again, Nazi wedding cakes, about which the Mercatus crew and Gary Johnson don’t give a damn. Milton Friedman is dead and Richard Epstein is old.

  76. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. May 2016 at 05:50

    Harding, Your defense of Trump on those six points merely shows what politics does to a brain.

  77. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    28. May 2016 at 09:48

    “6. A supporter of liberty

    Again, Nazi wedding cakes, about which the Mercatus crew and Gary Johnson don’t give a damn. Milton Friedman is dead and Richard Epstein is old.”

    In my opinion, none of the libertarian candidates got this question right in their debate and I’m pretty sure that “The Don” and Hillary would have also flubbed it also…

    When I was in college (many years ago), I went into a kosher deli that was nearby to where I was working at the time and ordered a roast beef sandwich with provolone cheese. The woman behind the counter gave me a look of disgust and said…”Sir this is a Kosher deli, I can not give you that”…..

    She was totally within her right to do that because what I was ordering was against her religious beliefs. If I had walked in there with my cross around my neck and she said “Sir this is a jewish deli, I can not serve you”…then she would have been in trouble…

    It has nothing to do with if that was to only deli in town (like McAfee stated)…

    If the Nazi (or gay couple) told the baker they wanted a cake..the Jewish baker needs to sell them one…if the Nazi said I want you to put a swastika on it (or the couple wanted a gay pride emblem on it)…she is within her right to refuse…

    It is that simple…if you are providing a service to the public as a business you can not discriminate based on who is buying it. You can’t be forced to modify or tailor you product based on a customer desire that you may find offensive. Civil Liberties and civil rights are not exclusive, we enjoy both in this country.

  78. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    28. May 2016 at 10:27

    “It is that simple…if you are providing a service to the public as a business you can not discriminate based on who is buying it.”

    -Why not? I have always championed the right of discrimination.

  79. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    28. May 2016 at 10:32

    @Harding:

    The thing is n one cares what you do or do not champion. Literally, no one.

  80. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    28. May 2016 at 11:13

    It is that simple…if you are providing a service to the public as a business you can not discriminate based on who is buying it.

    It’s that simple: if I have freedom to contract and freedom to associate, I supply cake to whomever I damn please if they’re willing to purchase it. Bakeries are not monopolistic common carriers.

  81. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    28. May 2016 at 15:12

    Scott,

    I think it’s time you joined the Democratic Party. Your values mostly align. I think most Democrats would be more libertarian, if not for their typical extreme ignorance. You are relatively libertarian, because you are utilitarian and libertarianism is usually correct on technical grounds.

    The main problem, as I see it, is that most Democrats are economically illiterate and perhaps even innumeratea. This goes for many of the politicians in the party too. But, you are an educator, by nature, and I think people like you could do a lot more good inside the party than without.

    Yes, there is corruption in the Democratic leadership, of course. But, this election cycle actually gives me a bit of hope, if certain trends continue. It seems politicians are starting to pay a heavy price for taking money from special interests, for example. And, paid media advertising seems to be having precious little effect this cycle.

  82. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    28. May 2016 at 16:27

    msgkings:

    “The thing is no one cares what you do or do not champion. Literally, no one.”

    Apparently basic arithmetic, and refraining from being a bully, are also weaknesses of yours.

    We’re you abused? We’re you told “Nobody cares about you” and now that is the only way you know how to cope with disagreement?

  83. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    28. May 2016 at 19:41

    “It’s that simple: if I have freedom to contract and freedom to associate, I supply cake to whomever I damn please if they’re willing to purchase it. Bakeries are not monopolistic common carriers.”

    I don’t believe it has anything to do with monopolistic common carriers..the baker would be considered a “public accommodation” and must sell a cake to any that come in, if they in fact have a business whose doors are open to the general public for the purpose of selling cakes – but no, they should not be forced to “participate” in speech they find offensive to themselves.

    Wedding photographers are a different case, for example, this profession is not needed for the daily sustenance or continued health or freedom of movement to anybody – so it would not really be a “public accommodation” that would be required to operate under anti-discrimination laws. So if they don’t want to participate in a gay wedding they can’t be forced to….

    So maybe it is not “that simple”…but it is the law….if you want to run a business that is a public accommodation type business you need to follow it.

    see…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_accommodations

    it is basically the foundation of civil liberties. Personally, I think the law makes sense they way it was originally intended. I have a problem with the Obama administrations recent interpretation of it regarding public school restrooms and “gender identity” and blackmailing schools by withholding funding.

  84. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    29. May 2016 at 06:02

    I don’t believe it has anything to do with monopolistic common carriers..the baker would be considered a “public accommodation” and must sell a cake to any that come in,

    In your addled head it doesn’t. The obligation you’re citing appeared in American law around about 1946 and had scant precedent prior to that. Go to another bloody bakery.

  85. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    29. May 2016 at 06:03

    it is basically the foundation of civil liberties.

    The ‘foundation of civil liberties’ is some lawyer issuing me demand letters because I won’t bake a cake for a pair of poofs I’ve never met before? Put the bong down.

  86. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. May 2016 at 10:04

    Scott, I’ve never been a Democrat or a Republican, and never will (unless one of the parties changes dramatically). Just be happy I endorsed Hillary over Trump—I didn’t endorse either side in 2012.

    I’m not inclined to join a party made up mostly of people who have a positive image of the word “socialism”

  87. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    29. May 2016 at 13:02

    If only there was a party made up of Socialists who present a negative image of it.

  88. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    30. May 2016 at 14:05

    @Major Freedom: Yes, I was badly abused throughout my childhood. Beaten with a wrench, sexually abused, cigarettes on the arms, you name it. My crack addicted mother ignored me, and I never knew my father. The only solace I get is going on comment boards like this. I’m sorry that my chosen therapy has hurt you so badly. If I’d known you were such a fragile poster, so much so that you have a problem with my posts about other people (Harding), I would have ignored you.

    Please understand my pain, and accept my sincere apologies.

  89. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    31. May 2016 at 13:40

    https://youtu.be/sdGPPLmR5Bc

  90. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    31. May 2016 at 17:19

    Scott,

    “Socialism” means many things to many people. Obviously, you’re considered a socialist by many who have commented here over the years, simply because you favor some government redistribution to the less fortunate.

    And I don’t know why you’d single out the Democratic Party with respect to socialism. Was it not the last Bush administration that introduced Medicare Part D, which was passed by a Republican congress?

    So, how are you defining “socialism” here? I doubt most Democrats want the government to control most of the economy.

    And I wonder why I’m comfortable in the Democratic Party, while you aren’t. You convinced me long ago about monetary versus fiscal policy and convinced me that consumption should be the focus rather than income in inequality debates(and that inequality isn’t the real issue anyway). I already favored 100% open immigration, 100% free trade, massively less regulation(including ending whole cabinet departments and ending the drug prohibition), ending the minimum wage in favor of wage subsidies, less foreign intervention(militarily and ending funding of IMF and World Bank), ending of government-required occupational licensing,…

    So, why am I a Democrat and you’re not?

  91. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    31. May 2016 at 17:21

    Another way of putting it is, how are you not a supply-side liberal, like me? Why not support a party that desperately needs the influence of supply-sensitive ideas?

  92. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. June 2016 at 17:09

    Scott, I see no reason to join any party. And if I did, I’d join the Libertarians. Sure, I could say I’m a Republican or Dem who disagrees with them on lots of issues. I often get Republicans asking me why I am not a Republican. They seem surprised that I don’t like the party; “But you believe in small government”.

    I don’t find their arguments any more persuasive than yours.

    I am a neoliberal, or a classical liberal, if you like those terms.

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