Today, we go back to work



15 Responses to “Today, we go back to work”

  1. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    7. January 2021 at 13:27

    Hahaha… love it.

  2. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    7. January 2021 at 13:44

    I wonder if a return to pre 1970s methods for picking political candidates would help us start to reverse the trends that led to yesterday. Per Michael Lind (

    Thanks to the misguided adoption of party primaries in the 1970s, a democratizing reform that backfired, American politicians today tend to be picked by the small number of zealots of various kinds who show up to vote in party primaries. The national parties themselves are no longer functioning organizations, but mere brands, which Donald Trump successfully seized and which Bernie Sanders, another outsider, came close to grabbing. The organizations that count are shifting, kaleidoscopic alliances of donors, politicians, consultants, media operatives and ideologues.
    At the same time that the parties have crumbled as grassroots federations, politics in the United States has been nationalized. There are no longer any conservative Alabama Democrats or liberal Connecticut Republicans. The party line in each party is set by national leaders and their donors, spin doctors and pet journalists. The collapse of local journalism means that most Americans no longer get news about city and state governments. Increasingly they choose sides in city council races or state legislative races on the basis of national partisan identities.

    It’s worth a read. I think he’s put his finger on some of the causes of what you’re calling the “Banana Republicanization” of America. The overarching theme is the alienation of an increasing number of men in this country both on the right and the left.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. January 2021 at 13:48

    Carl, Yes, and the internet has also played a big role.

  4. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    7. January 2021 at 14:06

    I promise this will be my last quote from the article, but he makes a point on that too:

    Combine the rise of social anomie with social (actually antisocial) media, and our warring political factions can summon mobs of alienated, mostly-young militants anywhere in the country on short notice, overtly like Trump or discreetly from behind the scenes, like Democratic donors and politicians through the local NGOs they fund. The flash mob, originally used for fun, has now been weaponized for street warfare by Democratic and Republican party leaders from the luxury of their mansions or apartment suites or offices. The Democratic street armies, with their national networks of bail funds that enable the coastal rich to spring left-wing rioters and looters from jail in staged protests across the country, is far more sophisticated and enjoys far more corporate and financial sector support than the less-developed, but increasingly militant, right-wing alternatives.

  5. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    7. January 2021 at 16:32

    Has Sumner read: “The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King” by Rich Cohen? Why does Sumner feel agricultural wealth should be denigrated? What does SSumner think of Rice University? United Fruit as a benevolent corporation?

    I guess Sumner favors non-commodities, but ironically in the next decade commodities (including gold) may rule. In fact commodity rich countries may outpace over-valued ‘service industries’ in the next ten years. What does Sumner produce? What is his value-add? I have a farm (several actually, including a tilapia fish farm) producing wealth. What Sumner teaches could be taught by a robot or a distance learning tool, minus the insults.

  6. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    7. January 2021 at 16:42

    Ray Lopez:

    Tilapia and “padook” (catfish). Hearty fish for sure.

  7. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    7. January 2021 at 17:17

    This is from Scott Sumner’s colleague David Henderson, at Econlog.

    “Yet a look at the evidence as of January 4 gives little basis for the view that lockdowns reduced deaths. It’s true that the COVID-19 death rate for locked-down California, at 675 per million residents, is well below the 988 and 1,029 for, respectively, Texas and Florida, which are relatively open. But the death rates for locked-down Michigan, New York, and New Jersey, at 1,341, 1,980, and 2,180 respectively, are well above the rates for Texas and Florida. To be sure, a more careful analysis that sifts through the data and accounts for factors other than lockdown—maybe climate matters—is needed. But on their face, the data give cold comfort.”

    So who is drinking the banana-flavored Kool-Aid?

    David Henderson? Scott Sumner?

    It’s banana-time USA!

    Have you heard the one about how “free trade” with China raises your living standards?

  8. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    7. January 2021 at 17:31

    Did you see that the WSJ editorial board wants Trump out? It has the tax cuts, deregulation and judges it wants and no longer finds him useful.

  9. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    7. January 2021 at 18:37


    Right on.

    But when Trump put tariffs on China, and Pompeo actually started contesting Xi/CCP on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang—then Silicon Valley, Hollywood, mainstream media, and Wall Street turned on Trump like a pack of rabid hyenas.

    Trump was an ass, a vulgarian, and most of what Scott Sumner says about Trump is true.

    Yet the outstanding curiosity about Trump remains that he also took on the most powerful elements in the US power structure, even, at times, the military-foreign policy establishment. Even Trump must have known this was not politically expedient.

    Trump actually at one point reprised President Eisenhower’s Farewell Speech, a presentation that still represents the very zenith of Presidential speechmaking.

    Trump had the wrong personality for the job (to put it mildly).

    But some of Trump’s policies and inclinations were very interesting. Likely we will never again see anyone challenge the aforementioned power groups.

    Indeed, many “intellectuals” are suggesting there should be more control of the media.

    The Americans Not Against Liberty lobby is growing….

  10. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    7. January 2021 at 19:08

    BTW, bananas are great for investors:

    Today’s headline:

    “Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq book milestone and record-high finishes as tech stocks surge a day ahead of key jobs report”

    I guess Wall Street regards the “coup attempt” in DC as much ado about nothing…

  11. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. January 2021 at 19:12

    I mentioned weeks ago that party elites choosing general election candidates might have been a better system, but will it ever be politically feasible to take away the popular primary vote? It seems very doubtful.

    By the way, more evidence seems to be emerging that Trump finally went too far

  12. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    7. January 2021 at 19:16

    From the Sunset Garden Book, “New Century Edition:”

    “Fruiting varieties … are best adapted to ,,, Zones 21 – 24 in California, where planting near a warm, south-facing wall often results in sweet fruit.” They recommend a dwarf variety for the home gardener.

    I think the relevant zone here is 23, “Southern California’s best zone for avocados,” but some of the surrounding areas are in 22, where a frost is more likely.

    I’ve seen reports that people as far north as Seattle have actually ripened some, but they have to use a lot sheltering and get very lucky with the winter cold spells.

    Some Americans live in more of a BR than others….

  13. Gravatar of JHE JHE
    7. January 2021 at 20:16

    “Yet the outstanding curiosity about Trump remains that he also took on the most powerful elements in the US power structure, even, at times, the military-foreign policy establishment. Even Trump must have known this was not politically expedient.”

    -Increased U.S. defense spending in peacetime.
    -Various actions to label China as a direct threat, increased support for Taiwan (I’ve noted before how woeful Trump’s response to China has been on the economic front, but that’s more due to incompetence than anything else).
    -INCREASING the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan…there were more U.S. troops in Afghanistan in early 2020 than when Trump took office. Also massively increased the intensity of the U.S. bombing there.
    -Sharply increasing U.S. troop deployments to the Middle East
    -Taking a very aggressive stance against the left-wing authoritarian regime in Venezuela
    -Doubling down on our relationship with Saudi Arabia
    -Tripling down on our alliance with Israel
    -Quadrupling down on anti-Iran efforts
    -Demanding that U.S. allies spend more on defense and criticizing those allies when they adopt positions we disagree with on issues like Israel and China.
    -Denigrating international institutions as useless talk shops dominated by the libs.

    In short, the neocon/conservative foreign policy establishment playbook almost all the way down.* Hollywood/Wall Street may be more important in a broad sense, but there still plenty of are large and well-funded institutions and organizations that have been advocating that we “get tough” on China since pretty much forever (pre-9/11, a number of the neocons were hoping that would be the signature foreign policy of the Bush administration).

    But hey, Trump tweeted about how the idea of pardoning Edward Snowden is “interesting,” so yeah, he’s definitely standing up to the military-industrial complex! And he criticized the Iraq War once it became an unwinnable quagmire–rare levels of hindsight there.

    *Trump really is different on Russia. It’s pretty clear that he’s always seen the military power of Russia/USSR making it America’s only peer nation and would like to use our joint military power to dominate the less powerful countries. In that regard, he is no lackey of the establishment.

  14. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatrics Cartesian Theatrics
    7. January 2021 at 20:56

    What’s the long game for a those who want a better world for the next generation? Hard to say.

    What is uniquely untenable about the situation right now is that it’s impossible to get the full story about important events and yet it’s also clear we are repeatedly missing large chunks of the story. This tends to drive people crazy. Do we need more transparency or less? Not clear what the right solution is.

    As a start, we need to at least have the humility to admit there’s a whole lot we don’t know about what’s actually going on in the world.

  15. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. January 2021 at 08:56

    Ben, You said:

    “Have you heard the one about how “free trade” with China raises your living standards?”

    Reminds me of the one about Trump’s trade barriers against China reducing our trade deficit and bring jobs back home (at least if Vietnam is the country you call home.)

    JHE, Good post, The one that kills me is the claim that Trump was the first President in a long time not to start a war. Obama didn’t start any more wars than Trump.

    (If you want to call a few bombing raids in Libya a “war”, then why not call a few bombing raids in Syria a “war.”)

    Cartesian, Yes, and perhaps we should start paying more attention to bloggers who were mocked for their TDS back in 2016, but have been proven 100% correct.

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