Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Politics and Religion in Washington

Pundit and former political staffer Rich Galen wants to "take religion out of economics."  The parties don't just disagree any more, he worries.
The two parties no longer consider each other to be political opponents -- each aiming for the same goal but choosing differing paths to get there.

Each of the two parties now considers the other to be not just a political enemy, but an enemy of everything the other believes in.
One can argue, of course, about who is "to blame" for this.  My idea is that the current pre-revolutionary situation arose in the 1980s when all of a sudden liberals realized that they weren't going to win in a walkover.  There were actually people in the US that wanted America to go in a different direction and were prepared to do something about it.  Then the Republicans took over the House for the first time in 40 years.  Then George W. Bush won in a squeaker.  Well, liberals decided that it was time for No More Mr. Nice Guy.  Not that they'd ever been nice to conservatives and Republicans.  Here's a look back at liberals targeting conservatives in the New Deal era from David Beito.

But Rich Galen proposes a "why can't we get along" politics to do stuff we can agree on.  On climate, he suggests: "Is it better to put more garbage into the atmosphere or less garbage into the atmosphere?"

Good point, Rich.  But the question is over carbon dioxide.  Is it a pollutant or not?  The question is: Do windmills and solar farms make a blind bit of difference?  The question is: is climate science any good or an enterprise totally corrupted by politics?

On the economy and government spending, Rich wants to spend more productively and to "raise the largest possible number of Americans who are at or below the poverty line into the middle class".  But austerity won't work, we writes. It "hasn't worked in Greece or Spain and it won't work here."

But austerity is exactly the problem.  Once you hand out free stuff -- also called government spending on entitlements -- people decide that their own personal free stuff is an eternal sacred right, and they will fight to the death to keep their monthly check coming.  So-called "austerity" is government dipping a tiny toe into reducing those government entitlements, those eternal sacred rights.

The trouble is that in the end, government runs out of free stuff to hand out.  That is the problem in Greece, in Spain, and most directly Egypt.  In Egypt, a huge proportion of the population relies on subsidized food handouts: Egypt, that used to be the breadbasket of the Roman Empire.  But now Egypt needs about $20 billion a year to keep the food coming.  $20 billion it doesn't have.

All these entitlements start out the same way: a wonderful program to help the poor.  Except that free education today most notably fails the poor in the inner cities.  And Medicaid's free health care for the poor apparently doesn't have any better outcome than no health insurance.  And decades of welfare doesn't seem to be raising people out of poverty and into the middle class.

The reason we conservatives are mad as hell is that we look at the political agenda and the political action in the liberal ruling class and we don't see any effort to solve problems.  We see a ruling class that is purely focused upon dividing the nation in a way that will win the next election.

For example, we have a president who ran against venture capitalist Mitt Romney as a monster killing the wives of laid-off steelworkers.  This summer he is going to rent the Martha's Vineyard home of Chicago venture capitalist David Schulte.  Isn't that special?

So yes.  There really is a religious difference between conservatives and liberals on the economy.  We conservatives believe that the way to wive and thrive is to get yourself some skills and then offer them to the marketplace, and accept what the marketplace renders back.  Liberals believe that you have to force the marketplace to cough up a just return, because of exploitation and inequality.

We conservatives are willing to stipulate the exploitation and inequality in the world.  We just don't think that government force actually solves it.  In fact, we argue that the whole earth economic and political experiment conducted in the 20th century, at the cost of probably 100 million human lives, proves it.  Moreover, we argue that the kind of regimes that feature government force big-time are just the ones that multiply exploitation, inequality, and human misery, as in Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, and the Castro brothers' Cuba.

So that's why "let's all just get along" doesn't quite do it for conservatives.  We think there is a fundamental clash coming about America's goals and we say Bring It On.

Because the longer we wait to solve the problem, the worse it will be for the little people.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Obama as the Liberals' Bigger Problem

I wrote a nuts-and-bolts review of President Obama's Galesburg speech yesterday.  The main reason was to get the details out of the way so that I could think about the predicament of the president -- and of liberals in general.

Indeed, the president's situation tells us a lot about the predicament of ruling classes in general.

Like I always say, government is force; it always comes down to men with guns, and it's telling that every government department these days seems to want its own SWAT team.  Politics, the trade of people who want to govern, is division.  And system, the stock in trade of every bureaucracy, is domination, the bending of other humans to your will.

You see all these themes at work in the president's speech.  There are the rhetorical sallies against the opposition, the "us" versus "them" of ordinary political divisiveness.  There is the setup for force, the "inequality" that shows that you can't leave the economy to deliver prosperity on its own.  Government force is needed to rectify the inequality.

Then there was the laundry list of "new" government initiatives: outsourcing, green jobs, innovation, infrastructure, universal pre-K, student and mortgage loan fixes, tax subsidies for saving, urban renewal.

Considering that our big challenge was to fight "inequality" you'd have to think that the laundry list was pretty tattered: time-worn bureaucratic ideas, fixes to previous failures, and a new pre-K system to let the ruling class dominate the education of pre-schoolers.

Conservatives right now are obsessing about the "low-information voters" that Obama targets, the disengaged people that that just get a whiff of politics from Obama and the mainstream media, and think that the president is battling evil forces on their behalf.

But I think that the bigger problem is the rank-and-file Democrats that just have faith in the president and the welfare state, the kind of people that the president always features as a backdrop to his speechifying in a public arena.  We are not talking about the ankle-biting progressive base, and certainly not the elite educated class of New York Times readers.  We are just talking about ordinary folks, maybe with a government job in education or health care.

When the president calls for a program for worker training or a new program to extend schooling to pre-schoolers these rank-and-filers nod their heads in agreement.  Of course "we" need to do that, they think.  What a good idea!  And they could never afford to do it on their own.

The conservative answer to this is threefold.

First of all the government isn't "we."  The government is "them," the ruling class ruling "us," the people.

Second, these good social initiatives are not the sort of thing you would want let politicians, the dukes of division, control.  Politicians are good at dividing people into warring armies for a battle, not into bringing people together for the benefit of all.  Don't mention the politician's assistants, the experts: they will do anything and say anything for another grant.

Third, all these new programs end up being a yet another way for the ruling class to dominate us.  Education is a prime example.  The reason we have an exploding home-schooling movement is that many people don't like other people dictating how their children will get an education.  They especially don't like it when the other people do it very badly.

But the bigger problem, the one that is demolishing the whole liberal project, is that government never knows when to stop; it's incapable of prudent course corrections.  In capitalism, you are always striving to change and to improve; your profit tells you immediately whether you are on the right track or whether you have to change.  But government is different.  It never changes until disaster strikes.

There is no mystery about this.  Government is force, the governing class is the warrior band.  Wars and battles are won by the side that gives up last.  So perseverance is the one great virtue in the warrior and the politician.  Never, never, never, never give up, said Winston Churchill.  Easy for him to say, for it's not the rulers that suffer when the government screws up.  The problem for the rank-and-file is that they are the ones that actually pay the butcher's bill when the army gets defeated or the government screws up another big program.  Napoleon gets to ride back from Moscow to France in a horse and carriage.  The French poilus had to struggle through the Russian winter.

In other words, when the government screws up the people suffer.  And the ruling class skips off to its next gig.  All those good folks in the backdrop to the president's speeches:  when the money runs out they will get screwed.  But don't worry about the Obamas and the Anthony Weiners and the Lois Lerners.  They will do just fine.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obama at Galesburg, IL

Everyone has been panning Obama's Galesburg speech.  But what did he actually say?  I've been going over the transcript so you don't have to.

He was telling, as he should, a story.  Here's the problem.  It's
proud Maytag workers losing their jobs when the plant moved down to Mexico... teachers whose salaries weren’t keeping up with the rising cost of groceries...  Of young people who had the drive and the energy, but not the money to afford a college education.   
Back in the old days, there was "a sense that your hard work would be rewarded with fair wages and decent benefits, the chance to buy a home, to save for retirement, and most of all, a chance to hand down a better life for your kids."  But now, with, technology, outsourcing and weaker unions, it's over.

Used to be that with increased productivity, workers would share the benefit. No more. The 1% income quadrupled; ordinary family got bupkus.  And now the housing bubble, with its juiced up finance, has burst.

But now we've fought our way back from the Great Recession and
we saved the auto industry; took on a broken health care system.  (Applause.)  We invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil.  We doubled wind and solar power.  (Applause.)  Together, we put in place tough new rules on the big banks, and protections to crack down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies...  [and] we locked in tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, and we asked those at the top to pay a little bit more.
We've made a good foundation but we are not there yet.  In fact things like inequality have gotten worse, due to things like "Washington" and the sequester. It's harmed growth and "our military.  It's gutted investments in education and science and medical research."

So what's he going to do?  Here are the bullet points:
  • "We’re going to continue to focus on strategies to make sure our tax code rewards companies that are not shipping jobs overseas"
  • "good jobs in wind and solar and natural gas"
  • "open more manufacturing innovation institutes"
  • "building things" like ports, bridges.  Rebuilding "our transportation systems... our power grids... our communications networks"
  • Education: universal preschool; connect students to internet, "redesigning our high schools", "train workers for changing jobs", student loan fixes, "shake up the [college] system"
  • Mortgage refinance for "every homeowner".
  • Tax reform: "make it easier for workers to put away money"
  • Poverty: rebuild run-down neighborhoods, increase minimum wage
Then the president does a sell job on Obamacare.

It all comes down, he says, to the "good job with decent wages and benefits, a good education, home of your own, retirement security, health care security".

You can see why the reviews aren't too good.  All this stuff is silly small ball, trying to plug the leak in the dyke.  It shows, if anything can, that we have come to the end game of the liberal administrative state.

But let us back up and look at his shining vision, of decent wages, education, home ownership, retirement, health care.

Why in the world would anyone think that a politician and his experts could do a better job than thousands of business owners and millions of consumers?  Let's do our own bullet points.
  • Sure, you can legislate decent wages and benefits.  But first you need  entrepreneurs with new ideas.  And because of capitalism's "creative destruction" you need generation after generation of entrepreneurs, all the time.  No entrepreneurs, no ideas: no wages and benefits.
  • Education?  It is government's dead hand that has caused the crisis in education.  We still have the system that experts designed in the 1830s to teach literacy and industrial discipline to the children of immigrants.  And now literacy is collapsing in the inner cities.  We must take education away from government.
  • Home ownership?  It's the government meddling that caused the crisis.  Canada has never had a mortgage interest deduction, never had Fannie and Freddie. Yet they have a greater percentage of homeowners than we do.
  • Retirement security?  How about government getting out of the credit markets and stopping its policy of inflation so that ordinary Americans can save from their wages, get a decent 3-4 percent interest, and see their capital keep its value.  When government keeps mucking around with the credit system it always ends up wiping out the small saver.
  • Health care?  It's the government's clumsy interventions that have ruined health care.  Imagine: if government got out of the game then health care could be like Walmart: everyday low prices for the bargain shopper.  And there would still be plenty of room for pricey boutique health care for the fashionable and the well to do.
The good thing is that President Obama daily reminds us how bankrupt our liberal ruling class has become.  The bad thing is that he is flying millions of good Americans up a box canyon with his fantasies of wonderful government programs that will deliver the good jobs, education, retirement and health care that everyone wants.

Government is force; it always comes down to men with guns.  How is more force going to provide a good job for every American?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's Still Bush's Fault?

I had an email from one of my fans a day or two ago.  Here is what he wrote:
PLEASE look now to see that for the first time in five years, the federal deficit is on track to truly be under $1 trillion. This will be the first time since the 2006/2007 fiscal year under George W. Bush that the annual deficit has been below $1 trillion.

Right now, the total federal debt is stuck on $16.738 trillion, and the annual deficit is on track to go under $800 billion for the fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2013.

Give George W. Bush full credit for being the first U.S. President to give us a $1 trillion annual deficit. That was in the 2007/2008 fiscal year. And give George W. credit for leaving office as The Great Recession raged and the annual deficit for the next year, the 2008/2009 fiscal year, soared to $1.9 trillion. Four years later, under President Obama, the deficit has diminished significantly. Again, this will be the first year in five years that the annual deficit of our federal government has not been more than $1 trillion!

You can see for yourself at
Really, one shouldn't engage with this sort of thing, because it is so clearly culled from a Democratic talking point (Dems are good at that).

Yeah.  Let's review George W. Bush's big fiscal mistakes.  The real mistakes, not the Democratic talking points, as in "he fought two wars on the credit card."  Earth to Dems: All wars are fought on the credit card.
  1. He should have ignored Dem talking points in 2002 about a "jobless recovery" and jawboned the Fed to get interest rates back to normal. But really, how can you go against the Zeitgeist?
  2. He should have started the pushback against Fannie and Freddie much earlier.  But really, how can you argue against "affordable housing" until half the nation is underwater?
  3. He should have abandoned his "compassionate conservatism" and been flinty hard on domestic spending. But people felt that it was time to ease up on budget balancing.  And the Dems were planning to demagogue on drugs for seniors forever.
  4. He should have gone into Afghanistan, whipped the Taliban's ass, and got out.  He should have gone into Iraq, whipped Saddam's ass, and got out.  20/20 hindsight.
Yes, it's true that revenue is up in FY13.  Let's check the Congressional Budget Office for their latest Monthly Budget Review.  They say that so far, receipts are up $263 billion for the year and outlays are down $129 billion.  But here's the kicker for FY13.
Taxes withheld from workers’ paychecks rose by $130 billion (or 10 percent)...

Nonwithheld receipts rose by $89 billion (or 27 percent); $66 billion of that increase occurred during the tax-filing season (February through April)."
That's because rich bitches like me took a bunch of capital gains in 2012 before the tax rate went up, and greedy corporations issued special dividends at the end of the year.  We paid the tax on those gains in our January estimated and our April tax payment.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the bankrupt mortgage twins, are expected to pay $82 billion to the Feds this year, as opposed to -$5 billion in 2012.

The faith that Democratic partisans demonstrate in their party talking points is impressive.  It is a faith that is almost religious.

The thing for them to remember is that the talking points will keep on coming right up until the money runs out.  See Detroit, City of.  At that point the little people, with their government benefits and their savings accounts, will be screwed.

But the politicians, the Weiners and the Spitzers, will all have their money safely stashed offshore.  No need to worry about them.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Obamis: Advancing or Retreating?

The poor Republicans seem to be tongue-tied about immigration.  Should they climb aboard the amnesty-now, fence-later bandwagon?

Or should they just say No Thanks, Mr. President?

On the one hand there are people that say that the president and the Democrats are driving the national agenda and skillfully dividing the Republicans.

On the other hand the polls show that the people don't give a damn about fixing immigration.  Not when the economy is in the dumps.

And the president and the Democrats need to distract the American people from the putrid swamp of scandals from A to Z.

My guess is that the answer is all of the above.  Yes, the Democrats smell a winner on immigration, because any bill seems to deliver more voters to them in the future.  And it seems to confound the Republicans.

And by filling up the national attention with gun control, immigration, and race the president can take all the oxygen out of the room on scandals.  Although I suspect that they are not taking as much oxygen out of the room as they hope.  Probably more important for them is to keep the leftist base on-side with issues that it cares about.

But I think that the whole question of President Obama is a distraction.  The only thing that matters right now is thinking about how we can get the support of the American people to fix our broken government and our broken economy.

The solution to our national economic problem is stark and simple.  Stop growing government.  Start reducing the free stuff.  Start lowering barriers to commerce. Stop using commerce purely as food for the government sector.

That's the easy part.  The hard part is convincing the American people to change.

As in Mitt Romney.

Look, you can say all you like about Mitt Romney, but all the guy ever did with his whole life is to turn around ailing institutions.  In his business life he turned around failing businesses.  In his political life he turned around the failing Salt Lake Olympics and the failing Massachusetts government.  When his church said Jump he said how high.  But the American people said No, particularly the white rural voters that are suspicious of corporate power.

In many ways, people are right to be suspicious of corporate power.  With or without the backing of government, capitalism is a force for "creative destruction."  It does in the economic sector what Michelle Obama wants to so in the political sector.
He [Obama] is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.
Actually, when applied to politics, this is a lie.  Politics is all about recruiting people into becoming mindless followers.  You can see that when you read about the IRS employees following the exact routine prescribed by their supervisors in handling Tea Party 501(c)4 applications.  They are not particularly offended by the political favoritism.  They just want to know the rules so that they can apply them mindlessly until it's time to collect that pension.

Modern business started out that way, with plantation slavery and industrial discipline.  But it found that human slaves weren't productive enough.  Just like the German army, it needed a different kind of person: "self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility."

What we need is our own Michelle to get Americans to engage in their own lives, becoming "people of the responsible self" in the economy and in their personal lives instead of helpless victims cadging for a piece of the free stuff.  What we need is someone who can speak to the rural whites and persuade them to surrender to the market.

Hey, and then in twenty years or so, maybe we can persuade African Americans to stop trying to cadge benefits from Obama's "stash" and instead decide to risk wading into the mainstream of America.

But we can't do anything about the future while we are reading the Obama tea-leaves and wondering what he is going to do next.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"We Paid Our Dues"

The opening salvos in the City of Detroit bankruptcy were fired off last week.  The great question, of course, is what happens to the city employee pensions.  You see, in many state constitutions there is a clause that states that the pensions of government employees cannot be tampered with.

There is often also a clause that the doctors must be paid, but that is another story.  But here is the kicker: The constitutions do not tell us who is to pay those pensions.

The great state of Michigan is one of the states with a pension provision.  You can't take the pensions away from those deserving public employees.  No sir.  And so, last Friday, a judge in Michigan declared that the pensions of city employees could not be reduced.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sided with creditors including retired city workers who fear Detroit will not pay pensions in full.
She wrote that the governor of the state of Michigan had no right to "diminish or impair pension benefits."

A firefighters' union official chimed in on this.
Al Grant, Secretary and Treasurer for the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association said:

“Hey, you made a promise. You just can’t say, ‘Eh, forget about that’. They kicked the can down the road long enough, and they said, ‘It’s not my problem. I’ll be out of office. I won’t be there’. It’s all catching up now. I don’t think it’s right for us to have to take any hit. We paid our dues.”
Now there are famous last words: "We paid our dues."  It reminds us of the famous last words of the bank depositor: "They said it was safe."  That's what the People of the Victimized Self always say.  "They" did it to me.

But we can see what the governor is looking to do about the inviolability of pensions as set forth in the constitution.  Here is Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr:
“All we’re talking about in this restructuring is the unfunded component of those pension funds,” Orr said. “There are going to have to be concessions. Concessions may be different for each fund. And they’re going to be focused on the unfunded component.”
Ah yes.  Brilliant.  You could express the evolving strategy in the form of a child's riddle:
"When is a pension plan not a pension plan?  When it isn't fully funded."
It's really pretty elegant.  Look, any amount that the government employee has contributed to her pension, she should get.  Any amount that the government has contributed to her pensions she should get.  But any amount that was promised and that has not actually been paid: that's up for grabs.

Why not?  After all, the union leaders aren't fools.  The politicians they supported for election aren't fools.  If they wanted the city employee pensions to be bullet-proof they should have all agreed in a smoke-filled room that there would be no "promises" where pensions were concerned.   The government would put the monies in every year.  Period.

But in fact both sides of the bargaining table opted for shining promises rather than cash on the barrel-head.  Promises are cheap.  Cash on the barrel-head is expensive.  It means tax increases or cuts in spending right now, not way off in the future.

But what do we do now, now that the "blue social model" is broken?  Walter Russell Mead is in problem-solving mode:
At Via Meadia, we’ll be looking for practical ideas for making Detroit work again; this crisis is a challenge for everyone who cares about the future of the United States. It’s not enough to find fault with what has been done in the past; what matters is figuring out how to make a better future. We’d like to see more competition between the left and the right to develop creative approaches to the problems of Detroit: that’s the kind of intellectual and political competition the whole country needs.
 Hum.  Yes, of course we all want to get beyond the blame game and make a better future.  But on the other hand we obviously can't start to solve the problem until certain people get out of denial.  And the people in denial in this case just happen to be the whole liberal ruling class.

In other words, if liberals want conservative help and conservative money to fix the problems that they caused with their unscientific faith in the power and efficacy of the liberal administrative state then they have to admit something to themselves (let alone to conservatives).  They have to admit that their blueprint for a better future is in fact upside down, and amounts to a blueprint for a bankrupt future.

Because until that happens we will just be throwing good money after bad.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Politics as "Political Warfare"

I am reading Angelo Codevilla's War: Ends and Means under the influence of my usual rubrics: Government is force; politics is division; system is domination.  And, of course, that politics is civil war by other means.

There's a chapter on Political Warfare, which is devoted to interstate conflict short of outright war.  It's a sorry tale because in the 20th century the US was so bad at it.  For instance, Saddam Hussein between 1991 and 2003.
Between 1992 and 2003 Iraq's Saddam Hussein reversed the military outcome of the Gulf War.  Politics was his "weapon of mass destruction."  With it he hampered the Americans' will to deal with him, destroying what respect the Americans had earned in the Arab world by their display of military force in 1991...

[H]e calibrated his challenges to a level high enough to embarrass the Americans, but just below what would make it necessary for them to come get him.
The problem for the United States foreign policy is that we really don't want to conquer the Middle East or Islam.  We just want them to join the game of international capitalism and start trading.  So we slap the students when they get too unruly in the classroom but we don't force them to kow-tow to our superior force.

But I am reading Codevilla's ideas on political warfare as they apply to US domestic politics.  He is discussing the message that a conquering side wants the combatants on the other side to hear "in deeds as well as words":
We are here to win.  We have totally devoted ourselves to winning.  We have what it takes and we know what we are doing.  You can count on our winning.  You and everybody else will depend on us for your lives and for your futures.  We have a well-deserved reputation for being kind to those who join us and for making those who stand in our way wish that they had never been born.  Moreover, if you think about it, our side deserves your adherence because we are the more in tune with the standards by which you live that are our opponents.  These people will soon be either cadavers or prisoners.  You have a rare and fleeting chance to show you belong on our side and not theirs.  Don't miss it!
Now you know what Michelle Obama meant when she told a rally at UCLA what Barack Obama would mean to the students:
He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed. 
Now the question that faces Republicans after the end of the Obama era is precisely how to infect the body politic with this sort of conquering, you'd-better-join-the-winning-side message.

It was easy for Democrats in 2008 because the mainstream media had spent eight years telling Americans that Bush was a stupid fool that was leading America to disaster.  And low and behold in 2008 the economy did tip into disaster on Bush's watch.  It didn't matter that the proximate reason was the epic failure of Democrats to push "affordable housing" by using Fannie and Freddie to push mortgages at people that had no business borrowing money.

As I keep saying, Obama could have followed a moderate course and implemented a few goodies on the health care front with a bipartisan majority, and could have focused like a laser on turning the economy around.  With that kind of agenda he could have established a Democratic majority to last for a generation.

But instead he has pushed everything on the liberal wish list from stimulus to national health care and has crippled the economy.  So it is going to be possible by 2016 to argue to the American people -- without the help of the mainstream media -- that things just can't go on like this any more.  That Republicans have a plan to fix the economy, and that people should come aboard because the Democrats that promised them so much really don't care about them.  Democrats only care about their divisive liberal whack-job interest groups and they don't care about ordinary Americans like you and me.

Americans aren't really ideological.  They don't really get capitalism, but they don't really get the threat that big government programs represent to them and their families either.  Why not have a program for health care?  For childhood education?  What could be the harm in a program that puts a little money in my pocket?

So the only way to do the right thing is for the American people to see with their own eyes what a mess liberalism makes of everything.  Ronald Reagan helped the American people wee that a generation ago.  Now it's time for another presidential candidate to make the same appeal.

It's not hard.  Government is force.  Politics is division.  System is domination.  The more you have the worse it gets.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Changing the "Narrative"

Hugh Hewitt spent three hours yesterday interviewing Mark Leibovich about his new book sensation This Town:Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America's Gilded Capital.  It's a tell-all about the players in Washington, DC.

Why do the elected and the appointed officials decide to "stay on" after their official careers end?  What's the point of all the legislating and regulating and influence peddling and gamesmanship?
The influence that is being peddled is only secondarily about the legislation and the regulations. It is primarily about the overall media envelope which is shaping the public opinion which is truly shaping the legislation and regulations.

It is all about the awful term, the "narrative."
OK.  So Washington, DC is all about the power, but the power needs a story, a story about how things are and how they should be.  Just like the postmodernists tell us.

So the question for conservatives is: How do we change the narrative?  How do we change it from the current narrative which is that somewhere, somehow some helpless victim is being held down by some powerful force, whether white privilege or corporate greed, and government is the solution?

Because if we conservatives can't produce a good narrative after eight years of Obama, we should hang it up and go home.

The trouble is that you can't say, dipping into centuries of conservative thought, that of course Obamacare wouldn't work, because a rigid administrative system never works.  You can't say that of course regulating the banks never works because the government's interest isn't economic justice but cheap money from the credit system with which to buy votes.  You can't say that of course the supposed dangers of fracking or of oil pipelines are ridiculous, because then you are diving into the swamp of "safety" as in "Mr. President is it safe?"

But you can represent the ruling class as clueless and out of touch, as in:

"After seven years of economic incompetence, we need jobs.  So why did the Obama administration pass huge tax increases and hand the health care system over to the IRS?  Does the IRS know how to create jobs?"

"President Obama and his friends tell us that we must stop using fossil fuels. because the seas are going to boil and the ice is going to melt.  So what does he do?  He gives subsidies to his friends so they can buy pricey green cars on the cheap.  Then he gives subsidies to his crony capitalists so they can make a fortune out of wind farms that kill birds.  Meanwhile Americans don't have jobs."

"The beltway elite and their lobbyist friends want an immigration bill so we can amnesty millions of illegal immigrants, while people who obeyed the law get shafted.  They want to let in millions of new immigrants while millions of Americans don't have jobs."

I'm confident that there are thousands of campaign consultants and speechwriters that can do a much better job than I can.

But the problem for me is that at the level of political rhetoric we are not dealing with the basic problem.  For me the basic problem is the idea that government has any business in health care.  What? You think politicians and activists have a clue about how to deliver health care?  That a monster education blob can deliver education to children?  That the government can relieve the poor and lead them to productive lives?  What are you smoking?

Because the unspoken error is that you can order anything in the world by force.  That you can do anything with politics except divide people.  That you can do anything with an administrative system except dominate people.  As in:

"President Obama seems to think he can improve health care by ordering insurance companies and employers around.  Oh yeah?"

"President Obama seems to think he can improve race relations by injecting politics and Reverend Al Sharpton into race relations.  Oh yeah?"

"President Obama seems to think he can make the oceans recede by getting the EPA to regulate the coal miners out of business.  Oh yeah?"

In the end we are going to send the ruling class liberals packing by creating a narrative that makes them into pompous idiots. Somehow, somewhere, there is a word-meister getting ready to do that.  I wish I knew his name.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Democrats Running on Empty

Ever since 2000 and the permanent campaign Democrats have represented themselves as Major Bagstock, the pompous friend of the pompous Paul Dombey in Dickens' Dombey and Son.  Rough, tough, and devilish sly.  That's what the gallant major would say about himself.

And indeed, he was a bit of a bully.  But it was all an act.  When it came down to it, Major Bagstock was a windbag, just as his name suggested.

That's why I think that all the rough, tough talk by Democrats these days is mere windbaggery.  The Democrats are in a world of hurt, and they are working desperately to keep their supporters from seeing the truth.

We all know why.  It's the economy, stupid.  And the unemployment and the explosion in disability claims.  And the economic and moral and social collapse of the dependency classes.

We know now that the Obama strategy, if he had one, was to do as much as possible on the progressive agenda. Period.  The economy?  Just do the regular Keynesian policies?  Defense?  Just go through the motions.  What Obamis care about is comprehensive health care.  And saving the planet with green energy.  And liberal social issues.  And rewarding supporters.

Trouble is that all the liberal economic agenda items end up wrecking the economy.  And the liberal social issues, from abortion to gay marriage, end up wrecking society.

As America goes down the toilet liberals have to ratchet up the rhetoric to keep their base home.

But what actually happens at this stage of the political cycle is that the base starts to get demoralized. All politics is a kind of ersatz religion.  It promises heaven on earth with its redemptive leader.  But after a while it becomes clear that the leader is a windbag and that nothing is going to change.

Meanwhile the people in the middle start to complain about the jobs that haven't appeared, the house that is still underwater, the school that still doesn't work, the health care that is still getting more expensive.

Right now the experts are predicting that the US Senate is up for grabs in 2014.  Really?  So soon?  I wonder what the experts will be saying a year from now in the summer of 2014, after yet another year under Obama, another year of scandals, and ordinary work-a-day corruption?

This morning the screenwriter Roger L. Simon has a piece where he confesses that he is a racist.
Worse than that, I profile.

When I see a black gangbanger walking down the sidewalk toward me at night, sometimes I cross to the other side. Even if he’s not wearing a hoodie.

Ditto for skanky white guys in ponytails who look like meth heads, bandana-clad Mexicans who might be members of the Zetas, and Asian guys with ominous Fu Manchus, black belts, and ninja pajamas.

Yes, I profile. In that way, at least, I am sort of like the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Middle-class Americans have always given the latest immigrant criminal underclass a wide berth, going back to the Irish in 1850 Boston and New York.

Only now you're not allowed to admit it.  Because?  Because without the 95 percent support from the black community the Democratic Party would be toast.

Like I day, the whole Democratic, liberal, progressive project is running on empty.  One day we will wake up and discover that those fearsome bullies defending the ramparts of liberalism are in fact dressed-up dummies, and that the liberals have left town with what's left of the nation's wealth.

That day is closer that you think.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Are the Democrats in Trouble?

One thing our Democratic friends are good at is putting on a brave face.  What me worry about Obamacare, about the deficit, about entitlements, about the government employee pension crisis?

But Democratic actions belie the bravado.  How come President Obama quietly postponed the start of the employer mandate for Obamacare?  How come President Obama needed to gin up black rage with the Martin-Zimmerman case?  How come Harry Reid needs to go for the "nuclear option" to end filibusters of presidential nominations?

Maybe Democrats aren't marching down the field making first downs with minorities, women, the educated, and young people quite like The Emerging Democratic Majority told us was happening.

There are lots of things going wrong with America that would be all over the news if a Republican president were in the White House.  Minorities, for instance, are doing badly in the semi-recovery.  Of course they are.  It's because they got suckered into the housing bubble; it's because they have weaker skills; it's because they have weaker families; it's because they rely too much on government.

Same thing for women.  They have been drinking the government KoolAid and don't seem to understand how careers, the sexual revolution, and the collapse of marriage turns women into state-dependent cogs and sex objects.

Same thing for young people.  Like many before them, they believe the lies their teachers tell them and blindly conform to the corrosive gang mentality of every youth cohort.

As for the educated:  We know why they have been trending Democratic.  It's partly snobbery, because your average educated person doesn't want to be included among the bumpkins.  It's also because the educated fill a lot of the credentialed jobs in big government from regulatory scientists to social workers picking up after the underclass.

But the truth is that the Democrats are betraying all of these groups: minorities, women, youth, and educated.  The truth is that government dependency is a dead end, and it always has been.

These groups will all eventually realize that they have been had, but it will take a while.  That's the nature of a secular religion.  You have to see your life in ruins before you begin to grasp everything you were told was a lie.

The basic lesson is simple.  It is the mistake of assuming that you can get what you want by force.  Those that live by the sword will die by the sword.  If you use big government to get what you want you are using the dead hand of force to get a living in the world.

But government is always running down, according to George Gilder in Knowledge and Power.  The way to prosperity is through the surprise and the learning that you get from entrepreneurs coming up with creative new ideas.

When you are a minority without city skills just trying to figure out how to thrive in the city it is natural to look for a strong patron to ease your way.  When you are a woman coming out into the public square it is easy to go with the politicians that care about women.  When you are a young person you are enslaved to the zeitgeist as you try to fit in.  But it's all a chimera.  The modern world doesn't work that way.

The modern world works by the invisible hand.  You learn a skill, you try to offer it to the world.  The better you serve other people, the more you will get your reward.  It is a very difficult thing to learn, this idea of surrendering to the market.  It seems foolhardy to trust to the strangers of the marketplace.

But that is what everyone must do, especially the little darlings of the Democratic coalition.

And as they individually wake up, and become people of the responsible self like the rest of us, they will peel away from the Democratic Party and the Democrats will get more and more desperate.

That's a shame, because it means that in the summer of Zimmerman and scandal and shameless identity politics, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Struggling Middle Class

Remember when Algore gave his wife that bend-her-backwards kiss at the 2000 Democratic National Convention?  And remember how the crowd went wild?

I thought then that something had changed in American politics, and I didn't like it.

After all, the Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of the little people, working families struggling to make ends meet.  Here was something different, and I'm not sure exactly what it was.  Perhaps reality TV rearing its ugly head.

My point is that if you are a member of the struggling middle class, struggling to get and keep a decent job, struggling to make the mortgage payments, struggling to keep your marriage together and raise your kids together you really don't belong in the party of the Big Kiss.

Because the party of the Big Kiss is the party of Obamaphones, the reversal of welfare reform, the dependency state, identity politics, IRS corruption, blithe decisions not to enforce the law if it's politically inconvenient.

Why is it then, that George Zimmerman, the "white Hispanic", was an Obama supporter in 2012?  How can a man trying to "do something" about a rash of burglaries in his neighborhood vote for the Party Hardy party?

Sultan Knish writes about the great divide that the Martin-Zimmerman case reveals.
It's a culture clash of a primal kind. Settlers and nomads. Cops and robbers. Builders and destroyers. And it was never going to end well. The elites want the settlers to make way for the nomads, the cops to acknowledge their role in alienating the robbers and the builders to admit that their construction is really the destruction of the way of life of the destroyers. They don't understand the struggling lower middle class and they don't care to. They have a great deal of empathy for the Trayvon Martins swaggering around another neighborhood that decays at their touch, but none for the George Zimmermans, sweating, mopping their brows, worrying how they're going to hold everything together.
 That is the scandal of American politics.  It is a scandal that the George Zimmermans of America don't all vote as one for the party of the responsible self, the stupid party, the Republican Party.

Of course we know why.  If you are a member of the struggling middle class but you aren't political then you are only going to hear the Democratic talking points echoed through the mainstream media.  You are not going to hear the Republican talking points, because they don't get transmitted through the media, not unless you make the decision to listen to talk radio or watch FoxNews.  So all you hear is that the Democrats care about working families, about people like you.  And the Republican Party is the party of bankers and big corporations and religious extremists.

Where's a patriotic American to go?

It was the peculiar talent of Ronald Reagan that he did communicate to the struggling middle class.  That's why I encountered a pack of Reagan Democrats, people that looked like technicians and construction guys, in the 1980 Washington State Republican presidential caucuses.

We know now that Mitt Romney struck out with the struggling middle class.  And we know why.  Struggling voters feared the ruthless corporate turn-around guy that Joe Soptic had encountered.  The struggling middle class believes in economic populism, not settled-science economics.

It's an irony, of course.  The future for struggling middle-class folks depends precisely on entrepreneurs recklessly starting up new businesses, on savings accounts that pay decent interest and don't lose their value to inflation.  It depends on ruthless turnaround guys like Mitt Romney doing a Roto-Rooter on failing old businesses.  It depends on reforming the corrupt and wasteful entitlements from healthcare to education.

But people are afraid to change.  They are afraid of losing what they still have.  They are afraid of surrendering to the market; they put their faith instead in government force to protect their meager job tenure or access to health insurance.

I'm no political genius, so I don't know how to put together a political narrative that turns the table on the liberal narrative, one that sells the struggling middle class on the notion that Democrats don't care about people like them, that the big corporations and the banksters all toe the line of the Democratic Party, that the dreadful insurance companies are trapped in the system that Ted Kennedy set up 30 years ago when he boosted Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), that politicians will always try to divide us, and government is force.

But that's what the Republican candidates for 2016 need to figure out.  Ronald Reagan did it.  Mitt Romney didn't.  Go figure.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Searching for Hope

First of all, a majority of the people get fed up with the government.  So they form an opposition coalition to throw the rascals out, and eventually, they do.  But the new government can't satisfy all the hopes that it ignited as it campaigned against the corruptions and injustices of the old regime.  So people start to peel away from the government party and form a head of rebellion.  They form an opposition coalition to throw the rascals out, and eventually, they do.

And so on, according to one theory of politics.

If you are a conservative, this is the winter of our discontent.  At this point, we can only hope that it will be followed by a glorious sun of conservative reform.

We see the recovery from the Crash of 2008 horribly mishandled.  We see a destructive Obamacare that will turn health care into the DMV of health.  We see the post-partisan president sending Department of Justice operatives down to Florida to gin up a race war.  We see an immigration bill that will increase the number of visas for low-skilled immigrants at a time when low-skilled Americans are being hammered by the slow Obama recovery.  We see a regulatory attack on conventional energy that kills jobs.  We see an underhanded campaign to impose gay marriage on an unwilling population.

How bad can things get?

Politics is division.  Even as we sit here in deepest gloom the successful Obama division that got him elected in 2008 and 2012 is breaking up.  It's said that the Obama coalition depended on sharply higher black turnout and enthusiasm from young people in 2008.  In 2012 a major factor was that low-income whites stayed home rather than vote for corporate whirlwind Mitt Romney: the Joe Soptic factor.  Look up at the previous paragraph but one.  You couldn't devise a record better designed to break up the Obama coalition.

Politics is division.  The question is who will come forwards to define the post-Obama division.  Can he or she bring underemployed young people together with aging low-skilled workers together with entrepreneurs and women frightened by the failures of Obamacare?  And unite them against liberal privilege and pride and the race hustlers and the union thugs?  In other words, can Republicans come up with a candidate that excites populist rage but bases it on solid growth economics?

Nobody knows.  But those of us that hope remember the fall of the Soviet Union.  There it was, this powerful monolith, armed with its propagandists and its KGB thugs, not to mention its western lefty apologists.  And then one day it was no more.

The key to the fall of the Soviet Union was that its ruling class no longer believed in the Communist idea.  They saw the failure and the corruption and they simply did not know what to do.

The optimists in the conservative camp thought that the Clinton era was the time of perestroika, when liberals lost their faith in the competence of big government, when the god of big government died.  Hey, didn't Clinton actually declare that the era of big government was over?

Alas, it was not to be.  After Clinton left office the Democratic Party moved left, and doubled down on class and race politics.  And the party doubled down on the administrative state, pushing huge new regulation of business and the huge new entitlement of Obamacare.  They even created their own little echo of junk-science Lysenkoism with the chimera of global warming.

The American people are oddly quiet right now, despite their disappointment and their troubles.

You'd have to believe that, some time before 2016, their disappointment will kindle into a furnace of rage.  The question is, who will provide the spark?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

O.J. Plus Zimmerman Equals The End

If you're an average white racist bigot you might be asking yourself when's it gonna end?  I mean the whole race-hustling business that maintains the idea of white guilt.  For white guilt, we know, must be requited by affirmative action, quotas, and reparations.

The corollary is the idea that blacks can't be racist because they are oppressed.  You can only be racist if you have the Power.

So the question is: when would we be able to tell that blacks were no longer oppressed, assuming that there is some objective criterion for such a judgment.  Assuming that there is some criterion other than: because left-wing activists say so.

I would say that if it ever happened in America that a black defendant that murdered a white girl got off because a black jury refused to convict then you would start wondering if the worm had turned.

I would say that if it ever happened in America that black activists and the mainstream media could force the government to prosecute a white man who pretty obviously had killed a black man in self defense then you would have some justification for saying that the age of Jim Crow was over.

That's why I say that OJ + Zimmerman = The End of Oppression.

The point of the OJ criminal trial, when O.J. Simpson was tried for the murder of his white wife and acquitted by a black jury, was this.  The trial advertised to the world that blacks had the Power.  They had the power to say to the criminal justice system: we ain't gonna convict one of our own.

The point of the Zimmerman prosecution, when "white Hispanic" George Zimmerman was prosecuted for the second-degree murder of black Trayvon Martin, was this.  The fact of the prosecution advertised to the world that blacks had the Power.  They could rise up and protest and demand that a white guy be put on trial even though police had judged he had acted in self-defense.  They had the power to say to the state government in Florida that we demand you put one of the "other" on trial.

You can see where I am going with this.  If blacks now have the Power --  the power to act on a modest scale more or less as white southerners did back in the days of Jim Crow --  then maybe they aren't oppressed any more.

And if blacks aren't oppressed any more, maybe it's possible for blacks to be racists.

In fact, it turns out that blacks think that blacks are more racist than whites, according to a recent poll.
Among black Americans, 31% think most blacks are racist, while 24% consider most whites racist and 15% view most Hispanics that way.
But that is another story.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

President Obama's Accidental Achievement

On coming into office, President Obama told us that he planned on "fundamental transformation."  I wrote yesterday that fundamental transformation is a progressive conceit.  And anyway, Obama is failing in his fundamental transformation, big time.

He has utterly failed to be a "post-racial" president.  Instead he has ginned up racial division.  He has utterly failed to improve health care.  Instead he has created a "train wreck."  He has utterly failed to make government more transparent.  Instead he has led an administration that is notably non-transparent and notably quick to use the federal bureaucracy to intimidate the president's opponents.

And that leaves out the stupidity of the stimulus, the hyper-regulation of Dodd-Frank, the chimera of climate change.

So liberals will probably get their "fundamental transformation."  Only it won't be the kind they were planning on.

Instead of the endless liberal moral melodrama featuring endless liberal Scarlett O'Haras, we are more likely to get an age of Rhett Butler: the age of I don't give a damn.

On race, there's a good chance that the president's race hustling will finally provoke the end of white guilt.  After the beer summit and the Trayvon Martin case, it's time to say, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

On health care, there's a good chance that the president's mendacious promises and incompetent rollout on Obamacare will create room for some practical reform, moving away from highly regulated first-dollar coverage towards HSA-type catastrophic coverage and transparent pricing.  In other words, letting Americans decide what they want to pay for out of their own pockets with a decent provision for the old and the poor.

On the economy, there's a good chance that the hyper-political hyper-regulatory follies of the last decade will be so discredited that we can do some sensible reform: reversing the cheap money, high borrowing for the federal government and switching to hard money and spending cuts.  And the demolition of Sarbox and Dodd-Frank wouldn't hurt.

On climate change, there's a good chance that the Ruling Class's obsession with carbon dioxide will collapse as the science proves to be a lot less settled than we were told, and the crony capitalist scandals of green energy discredit the whole effort.

Back in the 2000s Judis and Teixeira were boasting of an Emerging Democratic Majority.  My guess is that it will evaporate in 2014 and 2016.  Why?  Because the Obama Democrats failed to show a bright future to the women, minorities and young people that they captivated in the 2000s with the promise of hope and change.

The truth is that they had it in their grasp.  If Obama had really brought the end of race politics, if he had done an Obamacare that featured a bipartisan compromise, if he had curbed the stimulus, and pushed a less regulatory Dodd-Frank, he might now be leading an America bursting with hope and confidence.

But he didn't.  That's because neither he nor the elite liberal ruling class has a vision beyond the idea of ruling and administering the United States like a feudal estate.  They, the ruling class, are the guys with the ideas and the power. We, the country class, should shut up and do what we are told.

George Gilder is just the latest to tell us why the liberal way doesn't work.  In Knowledge and Power he argues that humans advance by surprise and learning.  People come up with new ideas that nobody thought of before.  And then they learn how to apply the idea to society: the fabled learning curve.  Think the last two centuries starting with the Industrial Revolution.

But the liberal vision is one of revolution and stasis.  The idea is to set up an administrative system with a political reform and then sit back and let it run.  We know what happens when you do that.  You get a sterile system that slowly runs down and dies.

The recurring story of the last two centuries is that the way to flourish is to surrender to the process.  Come up with a good idea instead of going with the flow.  Think of serving others first rather than grabbing for your share.  But the truth is that we are all afraid.  We want to be sure that we get our share; we worry that we won't have anything valuable to contribute.  And so we gum up the works with force and rigid system.  And fight over a shrinking pie.

We can do better, and with the ruin of his administration President Obama may be clearing the way to a better future.

Monday, July 8, 2013

How's That Fundamental Transformation Doing?

Now that President Obama is into his second term, let's take a look at that "fundamental transformation" he was talking about right after the election in 2008.

"Fundamental transformation" is the basic conceit at the heart of progressivism.  It imagines that by changing the configuration of free stuff it can end centuries of oppression and inequality.  Here is young Ezra Klein imagining, in the aftermath of the Obamacare employer mandate delay, that we are just a course change away from Obamacare success and health care as free stuff.
Congress should use the next year to improve the employer mandate. There are plenty of better ideas out there: The Senate Health Committee’s bill used a mandate with a smaller penalty, but one that accrued to both full-time and part-time workers. The House bill tied its penalty to the percentage of payroll an employer spent on health care. We can do better, and we should.

And then, in a couple of years, when the exchanges are up and running and expensive employer-based plans are getting hit by the “Cadillac Tax”, perhaps employers will be open to rethinking whether they should be in the health-insurance business at all. If and when that happens, Congress should happily help them ease out of it.
Notice how Klein does not really think of health care as something where the American people are involved in the decision making.  "We" will decide, and in a couple of years employers will be ready for single-payer.

The ruling class is the ruling class, and that means that the default option is that it has the power to nudge the nation towards its vision of society.  The current ruling class believes in a society where the big shots get called by the educated elite on the key questions of pensions, health care, education, relief of the poor and sexual relations, and the economy and the environment.  Indeed, pretty well everything.

In between calling the big shots, the ruling class gets to administer the whole thing.

The best way for the ruling class to get where they want is to jog along, adding a new program here, adjusting an old program there.  But ruling classes not not really like such a low-energy governance.  They want to sit on Olympus and make the heavens echo with the thunderbolts of their power and glory.  That is what "fundamental transformation" is for.

But the risk is that fundamental transformation will wake the sleeping multitude.  It will make them realize that they don't want fundamental transformation at all, but just a little bit of free stuff here and there before they go back to sleep.

When this happens it is called "biting off more than you can chew."  The Obama administration has been in such a hurry to fundamentally transform everything that it might teach the American people that really they would rather just be left alone.

That gives conservatives a chance for political power and the opportunity to dial back on the fundamental transformation.

Although, of course, the truth is that conservatives have no intention of leaving the American people alone either.  We want to blow up the welfare state and all its anti-social free stuff and create a beautiful vision of a truly civil society of neighbors and associations.

If we conservatives ever got to do that, the American people would probably be as mad as hell and run us out of power for a generation.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Ruling Class That Wants to be Free

I don't blame President Obama.  For over a century the educated ruling class has longed for the freedom to finally implement its program of pragmatic, expert-backed government programs to end poverty and every other social and economic ill.

Finally, with Obama's election and a filibuster-proof US Senate he and the ruling class had their chance for a decisive breakthrough.  They would end the chaos in the financial markets with a proper regulatory regime; they would end chaos in health care with a first step towards a properly thought out comprehensive plan for national health care.  And they would take decisive action to end carbon pollution with a comprehensive program to phase out fossil fuels in favor of renewables.

And yet.

Something is wrong.  The Federal Reserve is still printing money to keep interest rates low, four years after the bottom of the Crash of 2008.  The economy is not recovering at anything close to the usual pace.  The comprehensive health program is foundering as businesses in terror stop hiring.  And the green energy plan is running full tilt into an energy revolution that will make natural gas and oil abundant for centuries -- and worst of all, the climate is not heating up like the settled science predicted.

To me, it all sounds like the Nazi invasion of Russia.  After a year or so, it ran out of gas in the foothills of the Caucasus, a few hundred miles from the oil wells that Nazi Germany wanted.  And then the Russians at Stalingrad broke up the left flank of the huge Nazi salient. So, after various mistakes, the Nazis failed in their strategic thrust into Russia.

But we ask today: what were the Germans trying to do?  They were in the process of becoming the most advanced economy in the world.  They didn't need to own the natural resources or plunder them like the conquerors of old; they could buy whatever they needed with their valuable merchandise exports.  The Germans invaded Eastern Europe just at the point where it had become obvious that the age of invasion and plunder was over.  Wealth, we had found out in the 19th century, is not sitting on the ground or in a mine or an oil well.  It is between the ears of each citizen.

So here we have the educated ruling class in the United States that thinks that the only way to the future is for it to invade and plunder the entire social space and fill it with comprehensive and mandatory programs.  It is an invasion that is doomed to failure just like the Nazi invasion of Russia.

You can see the world changing even as the Obama offensive starts to falter.  There is Michael Barone, who talks about the end of Big Unit America.  There is Walter Russell Mead, who writes about the end of the Blue Social Model.  There is America 3.0, by James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus about the change from a society run by "powered machinery" to a "post-industrial, networked, decentralized society."  Then there is Kevin D. Williamson and The Future is Going to be Awesome about the inevitable failure of big one-size-fits-all pensions, healthcare, and education.  Finally, there is good old George Gilder, back with another bleeding-edge book.  This time it's about Knowledge and Power, how the information theory of Claude Shannon is really the basis of capitalism,  and how it's going to transform the economy.

If all these people are saying almost the same thing, then something is astir in the land, rather in the same way that supply-side economics was astir in the 1970s.  And oh so conveniently, our liberal friends are crashing and burning the economy in another Bourbonesque effort to prove that they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

What all the writers above are saying is that the essence of capitalism is that it is always surprising us.  To use Gilder's information theory approach, entrepreneurs are always creating new information out of the noise of the world.  But as the noise from government increases then it becomes more difficult for the information from the entrepreneurs to get heard.

I've been saying for a while now that you don't just come to the end of an era, the era of the educated ruling class, and hand it off to a new ruling class.  Usually the ruling class has to run out of money first, like in Egypt or in France under the ancien régime. On this view, the overreaching and the failures of the Obama administration are a necessary prelude to a genuine change in our society.  The ruling class has to be off-balance, demoralized and discredited before it will agree to surrender its power.

Our ruling class wants to be free -- to dominate us.  In George Gilder's view the ruling class needs to be chained and fettered.  It is the entrepreneurial class that should be as free as air -- to amaze us.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cost and Trende Have Spoken on Immigration

The GOP's kindly friends in the Democratic Party have been telling them for months that that the Republican Party  needs to get with the program on immigration, otherwise they'll never ever get an Hispanic to vote for them.

Fuggedaboutit, say conservative election analysts Jay Cost and Sean Trende.  The GOP's main problem is that people don't think it cares about average people like them.  Exactly, because my friend Stephen thinks of the GOP as the party of the bankers.

If only.  If only it were true and those greedy bankers were busily slipping money to Tea Partiers instead of marching in lock-step with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-WallStreet) because they know what side their bread is buttered.

The biggest problem Mitt Romney had in 2012 was the downscale white voters that didn't show up to vote.  In a choice between an "urban liberal like President Obama or a severely pro-business venture capitalist like Mitt Romney" writes Trende, they decided to stay home.

You can see how Obama's Joe Soptic TV ad nicely made the point that Romney was exactly what he was, a severely pro-business venture capitalist.  It doesn't really matter that what the downscale white voters objectively need according to settled science is a million venture capitalists shaking up the economy and renewing failing, badly managed corporations, because the good old jobs with good wages are gone forever.   Not only that, but the downscale white voters are not now, and never will be again, the little darlings of the ruling class that they were back in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

But enough of the past.  Cost and Trende argue that there is nothing in the Senate's immigration bill for ordinary downscale voters.  Any politician that planned to appeal for the votes of ordinary, average people would be making populist attacks on the immigration bill, saying that it took jobs away from ordinary Americans and handed them to corporate and union fat-cats.

Gee, Sarah Palin just did that, calling the Senate bill an "amnesty bill filled with favors, earmarks and crony capitalists' pork".

This is what politics is all about.  Politics is division.  It is about hanging the labels of crony and greedy and banker and special interest on the other guys, and for Republicans that means the Democratic Party.  It is about showing that the Republican Party is the party that really cares about the ordinary American that isn't enrolled in the rank and file of the special interests: your greenies to reds to pinkos to blacks to browns to fems to gays.  Whatever happened to an America that cared for ordinary people, without separating and mobilizing them into warring and exclusive identities?

What a joke.  Here we have bourgeois capitalism, that has raised the common man from indigence to a suffocating prosperity.   Yet the common man is convinced that capitalism and capitalists are out to screw him.

Oh, I know.  In the old days the poor man could only hope to attach himself to a powerful patron.  And still he would starve and his children would die.  For many people, even most people, it still goes against instinct to imagine that the way to prosper is to throw yourself on the mercy of the consumers, and believe in the idea that you prosper by serving others rather than forcing them to cough up a livelihood for you upon the threat of force.

But that's the world we live in.  Until we can change it for the better.