Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Trumpopulists: what will be the priorities?

There is often a logic, beneath shrill jeremiads. For example, Ted Cruz has proclaimed that even one more liberal or moderate justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court might shift the reading of the Second Amendment (2A) — does it give private individuals an unlimited right to own guns, or reserve that right only to members of a militia? 

(Go read the amendment and come back. In Heller v. D.C. the court went with Red America’s wishes by one vote, one interpretative vote. Moreover, let me shudder and add that Cruz is probably right about this one thing. The swing between those two interpretations is very likely to teeter for our lifetimes and more. But in railing about the near-term, he and his followers ignore the long term implication –

-- that the Second Amendment, as currently worded, is by far the weakest in the entire Bill of Rights.  If this court or the next one does not reverse Heller, then it will inevitably happen when some huge national tragedy strikes. That’s called the “Ratchet Effect” (see The Transparent Society), and you are behooved to plan, during good times, for what you’ll do at some future crisis, when the public is scared.

If today's political rightwing were rational, it would be working right now to gather consensus for a new Constitutional Amendment that might protect weapon rights far more firmly than the ambiguous and inherently frail Second. I have elsewhere described just such an amendment, which could actually pass! Because it offers some needed compromises to liberals and moderates – some positive-sum win-wins - while protecting a core of gun rights more firmly than 2A.  

In fact, this begins a long list of possible compromises that might help left and right wing populists get some of their favorite wishes, while giving up things they deem less important. It used to be called “politics.”  Consider trying it, some time.

== My consolation, if Trump gets the GOP nom ==

There are several silver linings to Donald Trump. Oh, I am fretful, for sure. In fact, one of those argent glimmers – that Trump likely does not believe even ten percent of the pandering things that he rants – is as dismaying as it is encouraging.  

One thing is as certain as sunrise. As nominee, he will charge to the center with dazzling, roadrunner agility, leaving it to VP nominee Huckabee or Rubio or even Cruz or some other shrieker to keep the confederates from bolting.  As president he would prove both more moderate in policy and vastly more of a sociopathic fibber than even Richard Nixon. 

Want to know in advance one key moment that could deeply discomfit GOP elders – indeed, that they dread? As nominee, Trump would battle Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders very hard. Nastily hard. And yet, at some point in the summer and autumn debates, he is almost certain to say: “Of course the rich pay too little tax!” 

And thus, with both nominees agreeing, on live TV, that needle would shift, hard. At long last, with almost a consensus sigh, Supply Side Voodoo (SSV) will be finished, precipitating the first of several convergences of left- and right- populisms.

But the biggest silver lining is simply this.  A Trump nomination will make George F. Will’s head explode. 

Mr. Will’s almost-daily rants against Trump are a sight to behold and I confess to gleeful schadenfreude over this bona fide American traitor’s discomfiture. No citizen of this republic was so well placed to denounce and possibly arrest the hijacking of conservatism by monsters, bent on destroying U.S. politics, one of the key problem-solving skills we need, for a fast-changing era.   

Will had the intelligence to see that Supply Side was voodoo, utterly disproved by  thirty years of diametrically-opposite outcomes. He has known for two decades that the War on Science (and journalism, teaching and all other knowledge castes) was destructive and that the Hastert Rule - against GOP pols ever negotiating in good faith - was outright treason. Faced with the Fox-Limbaugh dumbing-down of American conservatism (financed by oligarchs, many of them foreign, who have no love of Smithian-flat-fair-competititve capitalism), Will at-best occasionally whimpered, then went back to his flack-lackey task of concocting rationalizations for oligarchy.

This man – this one fellow – could have led a rebellion by conservative intellects to save their movement from Manchurian captivity. It would have been fun! Historically memorable and possibly rewarding… though risky. A real man – and Will has had the nerve to lecture at us, over the years, about manhood – might have accepted the challenge, for the good of his nation and civilization. Indeed, for the good of American conservatism, whose descent into frothing, carpet-chewing hydrophobia can be laid squarely at his feet.

Oh, oh, this will be my solace when I see Donald Trump accepting the Republican nomination. To envision George F. Will swallowing that pill.  Reaping the whirlwind that he helped fanatics, foreign meddlers, junkers-lords and quislings to sow. The know-nothing tide and criminally re-ignited civil war that he abetted, using his substantial intelligence to help inflict dogma-rabies upon a nation of pragmatic, problem-solving citizens.

== Delightful asides ==

Oh... For those of you calling Marco Rubio the great hope of “moderates” in the Republican Party, have a look at what he says about “God’s Law always winning over “ even the U.S. Constitution. Those clutching at Sen. Rubio as the great hope of Republican "moderates" - a man who would throw a 13 year old girl into prison for cleansing herself of any residue, a week after being raped - only show how deep into depravity even Ronald Reagan would call the "moderate" wing of his party.

By comparison. This stunning piece of rationalization from a Jordanian journalist asserts that Saudi Arabia has been devastating Iran, crediting a Saudi Prince with ending Iran’s nuclear program and calling low oil prices a deliberate Saudi gambit to crush the Iranian economy.  In fact, the article is worth reading! In order to see a weird perspective, and to glimpse some aspects re the War in Yemen of which westerners are mostly-unaware.  Still, the entire screed is absurd.  Oil price plummets had nothing to do with Iran.  That the price drop has cut wages to Shiite radical militias is good, of course, but the end of economic sanctions and ending the drain of a bomb program will both stimulate the main, non-radical elements in Iranian society.  Meanwhile, who has the most to dread from Iran rejoining the community of nations, no longer crippled by sanctions?  The Saudis, you bet. 

== Bernie vs Hillary ==

Okay, Bernie went up one notch in my estimation: Sanders would instigate a 0.5% tax on stock trades - to reduce speculation and high frequency stock trading.  If Congress whittled it in half, that’d be just right. See elsewhere my own riffs on why such a transaction tax is utterly essential… including a sci fi reason Bernie won’t mention. I’m still not sure he is my first choice to be president.  But boy am I glad he is out there raising lots and lots of policy boldness to our political attention and horizon. For the record, Clinton also supports a transaction tax.

Sandersites and Hillarites, go ahead and argue.  But if you start copying the "passion" and hate we see on the Confederacy side, then we are doomed. Stop it!!  Whether Hill or Bern win the nom, they will tell you to replace emotion with iron-willed logic, the way the Union was less frenzied and more logical, when America won vital, earlier phases of this civil war.

If Hill wins and you still kinda dislike her?  Then turn to a local congressional or state assembly race in which your passion can make a huge, local difference, while grudgingly murmuring "I guess I'll vote for her." And  "it's the Supreme Court, stupid."

Clinton supporters, make the same vow! Our confederate neighbors are in a science-hating psychosis that is now 100% dogma and 0% facts.  Their screeching rage denies all ability to look at ACTUAL OUTCOMES across GOP vs Democratic presidencies.

Do... not... be... like... that. We cannot afford it.

== Your Halloween Costume - plan ahead ==

Pay attention to Spike Lee, one of our smartest myth-spinners.  He gets the power of symbolism, even when only a few percent “get it” consciously.  Take a look at the photo of Spike being interviewed in early 2016.  His cap is no mere accessory.  It is a “kepi” worn by Union soldiers during the Civil War.  Four (and also I believe eight) years ago, I urged that folks consider making this their Halloween costume, at minimum, but I was premature.  Now is the time.

(Hey Spike! Come out with your own line of kepis! Offer them for sale!)

From 1852 till 1865, America suffered horrible betrayals not so much by a region as a cancerous mindset – feudalist, rancorous, and utterly devoted to romantic oligarchy – rule by plantations lords – for whom a million poor whites willingly fought and suffered and died, striving against their own best interests.  

We are now in a later, re-ignited phase of that same Civil War.  And make no mistake, this is not purely regional. 

As Matthew McConaughey’s new movie “Free State of Jones” will portray, there were many, many believers in the Union and our Great Revolution against feudalism, all across the south.  Many of them took up the cause, wearing that blue kepi.  I pray that we get through this phase of our Civil War without resort to arms – only a couple of the phases were violent, though all were painful.  Elections are best! Still… get the hat. 



142 comments:

Treebeard said...

Trump looks like the guy who could save the GOP to me. He's taking on the entire corrupt GOP establishment, and beating them. Trump isn't a Confederate; he's more like an old-school Democrat. Sorry though, Spike Lee is an idiot; an uneducated, simple-minded tribal warrior who isn't a good advertisement for your cause. As usual, you give such people a pass, presumably because you see them as useful street muscle.

Peter D. Tillman said...

¡Viva el Donal! El Rey de ¡Jalada!

Trump NO Trump NO TRUMP ¡NO!

David Brin said...

Har! To be lectured re maturity of political symbols by a Trumpeter!

Jeff B. said...

I don't believe the Donald is capable of shifting to center. A shift requires a conscious effort and at least some thought as to one's positions, and he has shown anything but so far, and he does not seem to be taking advice from any sort of traditional campaign manager. There might be some forethought as to "what the people want," but that's it- and showmanship leaves no room for shifts later.

It would be tempting if Trump were to develop more authoritarian tendencies to follow John Oliver's lead are refer to him by his family's original patronym, "Drumpf." A certain Austrian/German dictator might never have come to power had he retained his father's birth name "Schickelgruber"...

David Brin said...

Still, Trump's service to the nation - exposing the entire Bush-Cheney-Scaife-Koch-Murdoch-Saudi-Adelson-Limbaugh-Fox cabal as parasitic plantation lords who treated lower middle class whites as hapless, easily brainwashed prey-sheep? For that, thank you Donald.

Jumper said...
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David Brin said...

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich makes the most cogently clear missive yet, suggesting to the GOP-owner caste that they have made a series of devastatingly short-sighted and foolish mistakes. What Reich leaves out is mention of the portion of the billionaire clade... maybe a quarter of them - who actually got rich by developing great new products and services. In other words the real entrepreneurial capitalists. Almost all of whom are... democrats. (With a few libertarians.) They already know what Reich wrote here.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/35491-an-open-letter-to-the-republican-establishment

Oh, Reich has endorsed Bernie Sanders. Interesting "establishment" figure.

donzelion said...
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donzelion said...

A late response to Saturday's post, still applicable here:

@Jeff B. - "And when the multitude of voices feeding the president break down, or are overruled, that's when we end up with disasters like Iraq.

I'm not sure the intelligence community "broke" - I can argue each 'failure' elsewhere. On Iraq, the intelligence was a side show: the real story was how a small, well-connected coterie of investor/entrepreneurs owned or had access to vast regions of America's "red belt" - from North Dakota through Texas, as well as rural parts of various purple states. They knew they had vast oil assets - but not commercially viable assets unless oil reached $75-125/barrel. They expected that if Iraq was removed for a long period, those assets would be worth billions; if Iraq + Iran or another major oil player was removed, those assets would be worth trillions. These folks drove the President, not intelligence.

I look at the "Bomb Aqrabah" poll as evidence of how easily these populations can be manipulated. 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats want to bomb Aqrabah; 13% of Republicans and 36% of Democrats opposed bombing Aqrabah - the fictional country depicted in Disney's 'Aladdin.' If about 45-50% of Americans in both parties take such ignorant stands, cynics with wealth can manipulate them all, and set up future scenarios to line their pockets. That applies to Democrats as well as Republicans - recently, the latter party has endorsed ignorance as a political tool, the former has certainly done so on many occasions. The threat is always ignorance, and cynics capitalizing upon it.

John M. said...

Most Southerners were against secession and the war. The only state to win the popular vote for secession was South Carolina. Here in Georgia, the vote was 2 to 1 against. There was strong opposition to the Confederacy throughout the war and a substantial number of Southerners were ardent Unionists and abolitionists. Over half a million Southerners fought for the Union.(Sherman's personal bodyguard on his March to the Sea was the 1st Alabama Cavalry) That whole "Lost Cause" thing didn't kick in until the 1890s.

see: Bitterly Divided by David Williams
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3701391-bitterly-divided

"From the Confederacy's very beginnings, Williams shows, white southerners were as likely to have opposed secession as supported it, and they undermined the Confederate war effort at nearly every turn. The draft law was nearly impossible to enforce, women defied Confederate authorities by staging food riots, and most of the time two-thirds of the Confederate army was absent with or without leave..." &c

Mark said...

Trump is a nationalist. Left, center, and right aren't really relevant. People say he hasn't been consistent, but he has. Checkout this Playboy interview in 1990:

-----
What were your other impressions of the Soviet Union?

I was very unimpressed. Their system is a disaster. What you will see there soon is a revolution; the signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.

You mean firm hand as in China?

When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world–

Why is Gorbachev not firm enough?

I predict he will be overthrown, because he has shown extraordinary weakness. Suddenly, for the first time ever, there are coal-miner strikes and brush fires everywhere- which will all ultimately lead to a violent revolution. Yet Gorbachev is getting credit for being a wonderful leader and we should continue giving him credit, because he’s destroying the Soviet Union. But his giving an inch is going to end up costing him and all his friends what they most cherish-their jobs.
-------

I'm fearful of what Trump would do as president. But I'm really fearful of what his followers will do. Look at the violence he encourages, successfully, at his rallies. If you think police can be a problem now, imagine what they'll be like under Trump's encouragement.

donzelion said...

As for this post - Trump will 'veer to the center' when he sees that as likely to raise his poll numbers. The Republicans have endorsed war on evidence and information - Obama MUST be a failure because we hate him, so every achievement is a failure in disguise pretending to be a success, and any information to the contrary is a lie sold by the 'mainstream media' (unlike our own, specialized outlet, which offers a 'fair and balanced' endorsement of our preferred lies).

President Trump would undoubtedly offer a bill to "Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it." It'll be blocked by horrified Congressional leaders who see it as sheer idiocy, and then, Trump would exclaim, "My plan would have worked, but for those [Democrats/quisling Republicans/Supreme Court!"

This would be the first 'pageant president' - adopting 'centralist' points in culture critiques just to keep himself 'unpredictable.' "Some of you folks have a problem with breast feeding! Well, I know it's not politically correct, but I happen to like breasts!" Or, "Some of you folks have a problem with gay people! Well, I'll have you know, some of the best make up artists are gay!" Or, "Some of you folks have a problem with Christmas. Well, I think Hanukkah's a great holiday too, and keep a menorah right next to my Christmas tree! Just as Jesus intended it!"

His sycophants would point to such statements as PROOF that he's really a "centrist." A smoke-and-mirrors regime, with real work done in the unsexy details. Trump might not have come from the same sources of money as the coterie behind Iraq - but entrepreneurs would find all sorts of new opportunities in a Trump presidency that would never arise from a Clinton/Sanders presidency.

donzelion said...

John M - I see more parallels between today and America in the 1870s - 1932, than in the 1850s-65. One part of that parallel is the power of nostalgia.

The "fallen glory" narrative was probably immediately 'in play' after the war, but only one among many narratives. It offered several powerful benefits though -
(1) Any Southerner who fought in the Union army could contrast Robert E. Lee with any Northern general, and respect the man on some level. Grant's troops had 3x the body count of Lee's troops. They'd know the difference.

(2) Any Southerner who fought in the Union army would despise Republicans who stayed home after paying $300 for a surrogate. They'd despise those same Republicans when they came South to buy up property at a discount. "I gave up my arm for this country, and that banker wants to kick me off my land now?!"

(3) A "glorious fall" myth could present a means of reuniting fractured families. "My cousin fought under Lee, I fought under Grant, we both fought hard, and now we both work hard for peanuts."

(4) The myth would also galvanize resistance to any reconstruction policies, and justify institutionalized racism. "I don't give two licks if some n---er sits on the train car - it's owned by that Northern bank and anything that tweaks them is right by me!"

(5) Some Northerners sure did wave the bloody flag for years, trying to stick it to Southerners. Doing so hid their own oppressive conduct (they were often just as bigoted and racist as Southerners, but tried to appear more refined).

The net effect of all of that? While North and South occasionally bickered, while West expanded its frontiers, while the last natives were displaced - through it all, oligarchs achieved unparalleled power, coming to own assets that make today's petty barons pale in comparison. Google owns the "search" market, and Facebook dominates social networking? Compare that to robber barons who owned cities - more land than many states - who monopolized petrol, steel, or other basic products...the period of American oligarchy reached its zenith in that era.

Jumper said...

I don't know how Facebook compares to 80,000,000 tons of steel production,or 450,000,000 green tons of timber, (yearly U.S. productions) but it's probably not wise to forget about it altogether. "Post-industrial" is pretty much just an expression.

Tony Fisk said...

re: Clinton vs. Sanders sulking. It should be a no-brainer, but I'll repeat it:

A no-vote for 'your' side of politics is a vote for the other.

donzelion said...

All that said, I have to challenge this line - a constantly repeated, and a wholly inaccurate one:

the entire Bush-Cheney-Scaife-Koch-Murdoch-Saudi-Adelson-Limbaugh-Fox cabal as parasitic plantation lords

In general, oligarchs do NOT stick together - never have, never will. They all want to oppress the serfs/peasants/slaves and extract as much as possible from them - but their biggest fears are always other oligarchs moving in on their turf. And in this context, the Saudis would be easily pushed out of intruding into America by the oligarchs.

Think it over, "Citizens United" empowered dark pools and a whole network on political engineering for U.S. companies - but want to know how to force a dark pool to go public? Inject some foreign cash into the pool. Foreigners have no 1st Amendment rights, they're banned from trying to participate, and the ban is emphatically endorsed by American billionaires on both left and right.

Yes, Prince Waleed bin Talal has owned a vast stake in FoxNews, Citibank, the Four Seasons hotel chain, and other properties. I can explain a bit how that worked offline, should the opportunity arise. FoxNews repaid him for that by calling him a "terrorist financier" during the 'Ground Zero Mosque' saga (without a shred of evidence). They routinely fly terrorist flags, citing Saudi sources (with or without evidence), and essentially make it much harder for Saudis to do business here. The largest bank in Saudi Arabia is a routine target of Republican financial investigation, and Saudis themselves are routine targets of the IRS under both administrations.

The Saudis repaid Bush/Cheney by endorsing Schlumberger and the Chinese National OilCo. They wield their 'control' over America by going directly to China and/or Europe - trying to cut out American 'middle men' whenever possible. For arms trades, where that's difficult (we're bigger than all other arms exporters put together) - but even then, their last big deal went to Britain instead of the U.S. under Bush (Obama has tried to repair that, since arms trade does create a lot of jobs, and there's been progress on that front, given Saudi needs in Yemen and perhaps elsewhere).

Meanwhile, the other members of the 'cabal' are unanimous in their distrust of the Saudis. Adelson? The most pro-Israel member (though Murdoch is close)? Every time the Saudis call for a 'two-state solution' they get a bit apoplectic (also a chance to mock Clinton's naivete).

Don't get me wrong - Saudi assets are found in every large American venture capital fund, and Saudis, like Warren Buffett, helped bail out Goldman Sachs (and like Buffett and others, tossed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers under a truck). But the bulk of their assets flows back to try to keep the lights on and the water running in a desert kingdom that is unforgiving. Since 2005, they've been locked in a battle with American oil producers - and even if the profits come from a similar source, one oil producer has no great love for another.

donzelion said...

@Jumper - I'd focus on power, as that's the key feature of the 1870s - 1932 era that is missing from today. That'll change once we get a few billionaires worth 1% of the total U.S. GDP (there were a half dozen in that era, but today, not a single one).

Today, oligarchs buy buildings on universities. Then, oligarchs built universities, or in one case, university SYSTEMS. ("Trump University" does not count - though it hearkens back to practices of an earlier era, it was a pure money grab.)

Today, oligarchs exploit the market. Then, oligarchs often WERE the market. (Indeed, one of the original purposes of investment banks was to enable large groups of upper-middle class people to pool their resources and 'play with the big fish').

Today, oligarchs buy assets in cities. Then, oligarchs built cities. Annoyed at Silicon Valley, Google pays for buses for its employees. Then, they'd simply have relocated Silicon Valley, bought up any land, kicked out anyone not part of their company, built all the schools, hired the police, managed the sewers and trash themselves.

Alfred Differ said...

Carry over from last thread:

@jumper: Cutting back government isn't a lazy solution unless all those CEO's who do a 15% layoff (and get rewarded for it in the equities market) are equally lazy. Look at it from the perspective of genetic algorithms. Something has to shake up a system now and then or the optimal solutions they mostly likely find are local ones. These shakes are the 'thermal agitation' needed to force optimizers to examine a larger domain. The technique works in some neat ways.

@Jeff B: I get that individual contracts won't work for everything. Coase explained this well enough. Transactions incur costs, so when every individual is contracting for every little detail of their lives, it can be more costly than contracting with larger groups who offer package deals. The problem with government being one of the providers is they can write the market rules in which they participate. It might be that they are the best supplier of a service, but how would we know if they ensure they have a monopoly? Coase is worth reading to demolish the simplistic arguments some minarchists offer, but don't expect those arguments to be static. Many transaction costs have plummeted with the development of the internet, so why should I NOT want to re-examine old social arrangements.

Your counter-argument for privatizing the roads is simplistic as is your one against support of public education. You aren't going to have to drive miles out of your way to get to that gas station. Any sensible road owner will offer a spot price because they are IN THE BUSINESS of making money. Also, if a large number of people want to avoid participation in a public school system, maybe it SHOULD fail. Consider the possibility that people closest to something understand it best. Your concern about class structure re-enforcement is valid, but what do you propose to fix it? Bus the children? Social problems like that are rarely amenable to government fixes without the creation of Thought Police. Americans tend to go crazy when Progressives walk that path.

Jumper said...

Alfred, you are likely thinking of new efficiencies, as in the counterexample I offered to prove I'm not obdurate re: needing good computers to make government more efficient. When it comes to schools, finding a way to get rid of unsuitable teachers is more efficient and less lazy than other actions. Outsourcing has a track record by now and it is full of exploits as well.
If some CEO just starts firing people merely for a shakeup, he or she is a stone sociopath. A kid treating humans like toys to destroy.
As I mentioned before some problems are hard. To just bail on them is the sign of losers. There are people who will tear down a house rather than clean it. I have seen it.

Alfred Differ said...

Panel #9 is about where I think we are with respect to Trump.

https://mises.org/sites/default/files/Road%20to%20Serfdom%20in%20Cartoons.pdf

Jumper said...

Alfred, in addition you seem to posit that every single road owner is perfectly rational. (!) Yet one contrarian who essentially shuts down his highways can cost untold man and machine hours. Roads are natural monopolies (yes, they are) and this country does the best in the world doing roads, aside from a few European countries (if not solely Germany matching).

Alfred Differ said...

@jumper: I'm generally for efforts to make government work better, but one of the best methods is to force them to compete and/or outsource. I get that there are exploits. I work for a navy contractor. I DO get it. The problem is there are also exploits to be used by the civil servants. A HUGE one is they get to write many of the rules of the 'market'.

As for teachers, my personal experiences probably darken my outlook. I'm tired to explaining my objections to unions who serve public sector employees, but believe me when I say I have them. When I speak of school competition, though, I focus mainly on the way our rules limit the supply of schools. Accreditation rules create a de facto guild system. We CHOOSE to limit the supply of education in a world were we don't really have to anymore. Abandoning that choice, though, requires a great deal of courage since it is our kids who are at stake. I would fully understand someone's reluctance to use market mechanisms for educating children, but I can also appreciate those who don't trust the group to decide a uniform mechanism. There must be an exit method for those who fear the group more than they fear an ignorant future for their children. I want competition among the schools to serve these needs so we can avoid some of the moral traps on all sides.

I'll just disagree with you regarding those CEO's. I've seen the technique work more than once and the CEO's were not sociopaths. I've survived some of the cuts and failed to survive others, so I don't think I'm biased by personal success.

Jumper said...

On useful idiots; people selling the ropes to those who hang them; and the damned dictionary thieves:
http://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/12/magazine/on-language.html

Alfred Differ said...

@jumper: Heh. I'm not trying to suggest that I agree with the minarchists. I'm inclined personally to leave road ownership to the community and tax those who use them a bit more than those who don't. However, if a private group wanted to build a road and compete with the local government, I would object strongly if they were blocked by complaints about natural monopolies. We can respectfully point out to them that they are getting into a 'utility' business and there are rules the community expects them to follow. If establish a decent PUC, there is no reason we couldn't at least consider their suggestions.

Jumper said...

We need to get away from roads to discuss the general point, because a road is at present a big polluter, and destroyer of bio-resource in the commons, and runoff causing. There's no way I want that duplicated unnecessarily. Profit at the cost of real externalities is theft.
Perhaps another example would serve.

Duncan Cairncross said...

From the previous post,
There were discussions about Government efficiency and about using contractors to make changes and introduce new systems (like computers)

This is something I have had experience with – not so much computer systems but physical hardware

The problem is that a small (lean) organisation needs to make a change:
new sewage works, new cooling tower, improved test cell drivelines….
Something needs to be done and you don’t have the expertise in house so you use a “Contractor”

This can be done well – or more usually badly

Most operations just let the contractor loose – with predictably terrible results

Smart operations set one of their own to birddog the contractor,
at the end of the day the birddog should have learned what and why the contractor did
This will also add knowledge about the actual operation to guide the contractor

In my experience there are very few “Smart Operations” and using contractors without the birddog is a really good way to throw money away

Big operations like Governments should have their own internal contractors, these would be much more efficient as they would know more about the internal operations and they will continue to be available
Also their performance will be easier to monitor


Alfred - CEO’s “Cutting 15%” just to see if they can improve things
This is just STUPID!!
Like throwing a pile of bits in the air and trying to build something
Nobody past the age of two should be rewarded for that type of action – and yes I do know that CEO’s get richly rewarded for that

Privatising roads –
I think of this as the same as private medicine or education,
The best thing to do is for the collective to provide a base-line
A road network a school system and a National health system

If people want to spend more to use a better system then more power to their elbow
Provided That
(1) They pay for it – all of it
(2) They don’t steal resources from the collective system

If you want a private hospital it must be able to cope with all eventualities from the procedures offered
In the UK private hospitals don’t have any kind of intensive care – if something goes wrong the patient is shipped to the NHS
That is simply passing the costs to the collective
Also a private hospital should pay a share of the training costs of the medical profession

A private School should do the same, as well as paying it’s teachers it should contribute to the cost of inspection and the cost of national teacher training

Private roads should have to contribute to the costs of road licensing and of policing the roads

David Brin said...

Sorry Alfred but that mises.org screed is a good cautionary tale but in any demonstrably causal way just silly.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

However, if a private group wanted to build a road and compete with the local government, I would object strongly if they were blocked by complaints about natural monopolies.


In my experience in Illinois, and even more in neighboring Indiana, private toll road owners do the diametric opposite of what you suggest--they bribe the local governments with an initial cash payoff in exchange for laws granting them a monopoly--legally preventing the building or maintenance of alternate roads.

donzelion said...

@Alfred - ah, Coase...now there's a rich wellspring...Great insights about how firms operate, among others (one hires employees to reduce the transaction costs of independent contractors). However, that logic has limits based on non-transaction costs. Our military is a 'professional army' - but not a 'mercenary' army (though Filipinos may serve in the Navy, by special exemption, occasionally extended to others). Why not hire a mercenary army? Or build a robot army? Or hire surrogate mothers to bear the bulk of our babies? Non-transaction costs are difficult to capture, but real.

For public resources, non-transaction costs typically come in the form of exercises of power. A road owner MIGHT prefer to restrict drivers even when they can pay a full toll (e.g., New York's road system, prior to Robert Moses, was designed to prevent 'peasants' from accessing certain beaches, leaving them an exclusive purview of the wealthy). A school district might fail because parents determined that teaching children about evolution (or any number of other topics) was improper - in this case, the people 'closest to the problem' (the parents) ARE themselves the problem - their own effort to inflict ignorance upon their own (and other people's) children.

Limiting transaction costs makes perfect sense when we are dealing with rational agents. However, with public services, we have to anticipate a number of irrational agents. These folks alter the means of optimizing (e.g., a system that offers 95% of the functionality of an existing system, at 30% of the cost, may still fail - if the 5% functionality affected a particularly vocal faction).

In the school busing context, I already explained a bit about how that worked earlier - a STOOOPID solution to an even more STOOOPID problem (parents striving to fight integration in their schools). Yes, Americans tend to get angry ("those poor kids sitting on a bus for 3 hours!") - but anger has become a remarkably regular lever to obtain power.

donzelion said...

@Alfred - As for this, I'll pause -

"Accreditation rules create a de facto guild system. We CHOOSE to limit the supply of education in a world were we don't really have to anymore."

If you're referring to "school accreditation" (as opposed to teacher credentials), the restriction in supply does not impose anything like a guild system. Who are the "master" schools, the "journeyman" schools, the "apprentice" schools? How does a "master" school exploit the "journeyman" (forcing them to train apprentices and also yield productive and valuable work before permitting them to become members)?

I would fully understand someone's reluctance to use market mechanisms for educating children, but I can also appreciate those who don't trust the group to decide a uniform mechanism.
I can appreciate that they exist, certainly, but when their motivation is to assert power over the group ("evolution is evil and should not be taught!" "I don't want 'those kids' [of whatever minority or socioeconomic group] anywhere near my kids!") - I don't appreciate them at all.

School district elections are regularly the most feisty, litigious, and obscure - national media doesn't care, and local media chooses sides. They're typically not held on the same day as general elections, so only partisans participate. It's less guild, more grudge match. And in that set of grudge matches, "competition among the schools" has always existed - every state has a home school alternative, and every state has private schools - what the new players want isn't 'competition' but 'subsidies.'

donzelion said...

@Jumper - liked the William Safire link. I'm glad he lived to see a "useful idiot" like GWB leave the White House in a cloud of shame, to be replaced by a non-useful idiot.

And I especially like the fact that this quote -

"The whole world's capitalists and their governments, as they pant to win the Soviet market, will close their eyes...and will thus transform themselves into men who are deaf, dumb and blind. They will give us credits...they will toil to prepare their own suicide."

-would include an origin story for the Koch family fortune (albeit under Stalin rather than Lenin). "Useful idiots" indeed...

Still, roads (and railroads) aren't the best illustration of the mechanisms for exploiting competition: the existence of a road is too obvious, the operation too clear, and exploitation and extortion abhors discovery. A better cautionary tale is California's energy deregulation and Enron's "Smartest Guys" gambits: yes, in theory, had they merely played by rules, they could have made lots of money over time - but by tossing the rules aside, they could extort billions (and then, by electing GWB, they would find an advocate in the White House whom they'd financed - who could shield them from their own extortion, calling it "competition").

Of course, GWB did find a couple of Enron leaders liable - but the enterprise as a whole (theft and transfer of wealth from California to Texas) was permitted. Setting the tone for the rest of the financial markets, for the rest of GWB's tenure (it's ok to gouge and steal, just make sure you can't be held personally liable or you might spend a few years at Club Fed).

Ken Waters said...

I think your insites are well informed. But, with any of the current lineup of candidates, I shudder to think what the outcome will be. I always wonder why it's nessacary for a president to be God fearing. In the current world, informed, economic, and Constitution seems most important. Not godly.

Ken Waters said...

I think your insites are well informed. But, with any of the current lineup of candidates, I shudder to think what the outcome will be. I always wonder why it's nessacary for a president to be God fearing. In the current world, informed, economic, and Constitution seems most important. Not godly.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "exposing the entire Bush-Cheney-Scaife-Koch-Murdoch-Saudi-Adelson-Limbaugh-Fox cabal as parasitic plantation lords who treated lower middle class whites as hapless, easily brainwashed prey-sheep"

Trump IS a parasitic plantation lords who view lower middle class whites as hapless, easily brainwashed prey-sheep. The difference is that while the other right-wing patricians tried to hide their contempt for the plebs behind a pretense of noblesse oblige and faked intellectualism, he hides his behind his schoolyard bully's antics.

***

* "President Trump would undoubtedly offer a bill to "Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it." It'll be blocked by horrified Congressional leaders who see it as sheer idiocy, and then, Trump would exclaim, "My plan would have worked, but for those [Democrats/quisling Republicans/Supreme Court!""

And then you'll see a batch of "Trumpist" candidates, whose platform will be "I'll never contradict President Trump" winning republican primaries, then Gerrymandered elections, until Trump has a sufficient stranglehold of the legislative branch to do whatever the fuck he wants.

***

* "Roads are natural monopolies (yes, they are)"

Just look at what happened in France when our governments "liberalized" highways: we didn't get "Free and Fair Competition": we got regional monopolies allowing the three corporate owners of the highway network to hike the prices with impunities: prices have grown twice as fast as the inflation: the result: in 2010, Germany's publicly owned 13.000 kilometers of highway cost users 4,5 billion euros at toil booths. France's 9.000 kilometers of privately owned highways cost users 8,1 billion euros: 2,6 times more per kilometers, while at the same time, investment in infrastructures were diminishing (and the few investment that were being done were deliberately overvalued to justify the price hikes). People complained that the State was imposing medieval road toll when it owned the highway network and used that money to expand it. Now that it's privatized, tolls have increased and highways now provide easy rents for wealthy stock owners.

Tacitus2 said...

It occurred to me this morning that just maybe Donald Trump and the coming destruction of the Republican Party is the logical outcome of Citizen's United.

When campaign contributions are unregulated two things happen. Candidates need to devote more time on fund raisers. And, the "product" of the spending in the form of endless, repetitive, annoying ads just goes way past the point of having any influence. We remove actual ideas from the political process in exchange for a blizzard of throw away papers.

And so we get Trump. He can spend his own money and need not devote any effort to trolling whatever dark street corners the political world has for such exchanges. But he hardly needs to. A media frantic to preserve their relevance, and in any case viewing him as a patch of ugly mire to be navigated on the way to their true preference, give him a free ride. How many ideas good and bad never got an airing because a large angry man with orange hair stood center stage and said "I'm HUGE".

And so comes the Reality Presidency. I don't expect Trump to win and as I have said, he won't get my vote. But the whole process has become plastic, silicon and noise. A weakened GOP is killed off by an unctuous parasite. But the Democratic party will soon discover its own unhealthy core....

Tacitus

locumranch said...



As more of a cynic, I'd say that David's observations are mostly correct but just a little backwards due to a Pollyanna worldview.

For instance, he is correct about how a Second Amendment reinterpretation could affect the 'Right to Bear Arms' yet apparently ignorant about the devastation that such a reinterpretation could have on the term 'Right', redefining away Humanist & Epicurean principles which were once thought self-evident, inherent & god-given.

Likewise, it is the destruction of the US Republican Right-wing Party that HAS led to a Trump victory, rather than a Trump victory causing its destruction, as evidenced by the leftist views expressed by Rubio recently when he condemns Trump with a Marxist (Marcist?) collection of taunts (sexist; racist).

And, finally, "This stunning piece of rationalization from a Jordanian journalist (asserting) that Saudi Arabia has been (attacking) Iran" which reframes Iranian (Shia) ambitions as 'Self-Defense' against the reigning regional Sunni Authority, a comeuppance which has been long overdue.

'Comeuppance' is the Order of the Day, and there appears to be plenty for all.


Best

Anonymous said...

Is there a quote anywhere from Senator Rubio, or from any politician for that matter, saying that they would send a 13-year-old girl to prison for having an abortion?

Is there any part of the U.S. Constitution from 1789 that would require a citizen to violate God's law?

Tim H. said...

A commenter on a different blog helpfully pointed out that "Trump" is a fairly accurate approximation of the sound of escaping intestinal gas.

Anonymous said...

America does roads well? Well, some consider the car sitting century a tragic mistake, best moved away from with all due haste, though for specific problems one need only look to "solving congestion" though ever-increasing number of lane-miles, much like a morbidly obese man lets out his belt to solve his weight problem. LA pooped out a I-405 expansion, at some number of billions, and was rewarded by slower commute times. Texas sprawled a 28-lane highway, also billions, also rewarded with slower commute times. Induced demand. Now, why Americans continue plowing significant fractions of their road budgets into new or expanded roads while leaving the rest of their infrastructure more or less unmaintained, well maybe they know something I don't? Big juicy grants for Grand New Projects In The Style Of Heroic Materialism and I-dunno-look-under-the-sofa for maintenance might be one factor. Also a Carbon spree, but nobody cares about that.

Now, if you walk everywhere you need to go (limit: car sit twice per year per household, $100 transportation budget, and that includes anything for delivery services. Try it, it's fun!), you would instead find American roads hilariously stressful and extremely dangerous, as the one and only metric has been easing trip times for the car sitters, to the often deadly expense of everyone else. Painting bike lanes on these pigs, yeah, doesn't really help too much, and gets the car sitters all hot and bothered about some sort of "war on cars"—car sitters having scored 30,000+ own goals in this self-proclaimed war. Oops? Maybe America should actually do some German-style driver training, or actually do some Swedish-style Vision Zero instead of dipping their toe in the water and hemming and hawing while people needlessly and preventably get injured and die on their badly designed stroads?

cosmicaug said...

Anonymous writes:
«Is there a quote anywhere from Senator Rubio, or from any politician for that matter, saying that they would send a 13-year-old girl to prison for having an abortion?»

I was wondering about that. If it is in reference to what is mentioned in the Snopes article I link to below, it would appear to be a fabricated story.

http://www.snopes.com/marco-rubio-rape-victims/

Jonathan Sills said...

"Is there any part of the U.S. Constitution from 1789 that would require a citizen to violate God's law?"

First you have to define what you mean by "God's law". It seems to be [i]highly[/i] subject to interpretation; Evangelicals call for a strict reading of the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible (even the parts that contradict one another - is divorce completely impermissible, or only allowed in the case of infidelity? The Gospels have it both ways), although they seem to have backed off the call for stoning, while more liberal Protestants point to Jesus separating the responsibilities to government from the responsibilities to God. Then there are the other gods, or even other interpretations of the Abrahamic God, to consider - Wahhabists want a strict version of sharia law, enough so that they put off other Muslims, while an Asatru might want the freedom to go pillaging his neighbors as Thor demands.

"God's law" is an even more vague and useless concept than "international law" - at least with the latter you can point to specific signatories of specific treaties, while God, whichever God you choose, is assumed to have dominion over everyone just because. So yes, depending on which God's law you choose, obeying it can require you to choose God or Constitution. (Read the First Amendment, for instance. And is stoning, specifically required in Leviticus as a punishment for the crime of disrespecting your parents or being a raped female, "cruel and unusual punishment" for the purposes of the Eighth?)

HMS Defiant said...

Whenever a learned man, another damned PhD, lectures about the scalability of enumerated specific rights and moans about people like me I get a kick out of watching this bit at youtube. You'd like it. It presses all your buttons."The West Wing- Bible Lesson". He attacks her on his ground but using her book. It's a slam dunk. Of course, President Bartlett is tearing her up over her blindspots over a book never adopted as anything by this country. It's not even a book of the month club selection.

My book IS the Constitution. Attack how you like, your ground or mine.

A well regulated militia seems to be the key used by bible thumpers like you. That being the case, surely those right wing militias we heard so much about before 9/11 and which the FBI and HLS remain terrified of to this day must qualify as well regulated? You don't survive the personal attention of ideologues like Holder, Obama, Lynch et al without some serious regulating skills. When the organs of government have determined that your rights specifically listed in the Bill of Rights are too obtuse, too abstract, too open to interpretation, well, I always keep in mind that a hundred million or so of us have the guns and we're willing to listen. Unlike those who think we stole them, got them from big brother, inherited them by arcane feudal law, found them, dug them up on old battlefields. We'll listen but we expect that tyrants always want to take the guns. After all, we watched The West Wing didn't we?

David Brin said...

The ban on pork is explicitly held many many times more than the very vague couple of references to homosexuality. Any Bible Thumper who eats pigs and then cites Leviticus as an excuse for hate is a pure hypocrite. Likewise abortion.

Jumper said...

To anonymous of "car sitting century a tragic mistake"
Yes, we build the roads well, that are ordered. I agree with your thoughts that the transportation system is screwed up. I meant, however, the technical details. If we are to have roads, we do have some of the best. The soil beneath is usually solid as required, and the grade is right, not screwy, the drainage is sufficient, and the pavement is either correctly mixed concrete, not inferior stuff slipped in by corruption, or asphalt, and the asphalt course is something called "Superpave" which is a technology developed here.
I prefer light rail and bicycle paths.

BTW, anyone can post here as "anonymous" but if too many people do that on any given day, it gets impossible to converse. I suggest signing at the end of the comment, any consistent name, such as I will do as a demonstration.

- Jumper -

Blank Reg said...

"Simply put, the Trump phenomenon is nothing more than long-overdue blowback from everyday Americans — yet, amazingly, the delusional establishment still has no clue. What Trump actually does if he becomes president is almost secondary to those who support him. Right now, people just want the Washington power structure dismantled, and they figure that once that’s accomplished, they can sort things out later if Trump’s less than endearing qualities prove to be a problem." -- Robert Ringer

Jon S. said...

So, Reg, what Ringer is saying here is that we should just go ahead and abandon this experiment in republican democracy as a bad job, and revert to good old-fashioned feudalism or dictatorship. Because that's the outcome of "dismantling the power structure", then "sorting things out later".

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

It occurred to me this morning that just maybe Donald Trump and the coming destruction of the Republican Party is the logical outcome of Citizen's United.


If so, it's fitting karma, as "Citizens United" was the result of Republican judicial activism. In fact, it was after "Citizens United" in particular that I started envisioning "-D"s or "-R"s after the names of Supreme court Justices.


And so comes the Reality Presidency. I don't expect Trump to win and as I have said, he won't get my vote. But the whole process has become plastic, silicon and noise.


Trump didn't start the slide to "elections as entertainment". The news media, especially television, have their share of the blame for indulging in elections as games, and actively working to drag out the suspense. Of course, the media is complicit in "Citizens United" as well, because they are the recipients of the unlimited money that gets spent on election ads.

Trump's contribution is, as I said recently, to be the one to really figure out how to play the game to win. He's the real-life version of Johnathan E in "Rollerball". The people in charge have had enough of him, and want him to retire, but he keeps playing the game and winning anyway, heedless of the destruction in his wake.


A weakened GOP is killed off by an unctuous parasite. But the Democratic party will soon discover its own unhealthy core....


It happened in Illinois. We recently had governor Blagojevich, who was embarrassing even to Democrats, but he "happened" because the Illinios GOP self-destructed in scandals such that they couldn't get anyone elected dogcatcher by 2002, and couldn't get anyone (except outsider Alan Keyes) to run against Obama for Senator in 2004. Of course, disgust with Blago (and his successor) led to governor Bruce Rauner. So it's not so much a finishing off as a pendulum that keeps swinging wildly back and forth.

Likewise, the Bush v Gore decision led directly to President Obama. The Supreme Court may think they are all-powerful, but they don't seem to think ahead much. Who knows--maybe Scalia's timely departure saved them from themselves as much as it saved us from them.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

For instance, he is correct about how a Second Amendment reinterpretation could affect the 'Right to Bear Arms' yet apparently ignorant about the devastation that such a reinterpretation could have on the term 'Right', redefining away Humanist & Epicurean principles which were once thought self-evident, inherent & god-given.


The right-wing has already pretty much done that relative to the First Amendment, the Fourth, the Fifth...well, they seem to think the entire Bill of Rights is a luxury to be revoked whenever it makes it harder for themselves to attack enemies. Except for the Second and Tenth amendments, which apparently came from Jesus.

LarryHart said...

Blank Reg:

Right now, people just want the Washington power structure dismantled, and they figure that once that’s accomplished, they can sort things out later if Trump’s less than endearing qualities prove to be a problem." -- Robert Ringer


I'd say they're not even thinking that far ahead. It's not that they can sort things out after a collapse. It's that a collapse will hurt their oppressors (whoever they perceive that to be) so much more than it will hurt themselves that they're willing to suffer a little to see them suffer a lot.

I was briefly feeling that way during the 2008 crash, and wanted Congress to say Eff You to the bail-out, even knowing that it might lead to food riots and such.

Alfred Differ said...

@David: That Mises.org thing is just an old comic version of Hayek's classic (WWII era) book "The Road to Serfdom". It was drawn up long ago. Squint at it, though, and the abstractions still apply. Squint, use it as self-preventing prophecy, and I've little doubt Hayek's ghost will be content. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Your anecdotes regarding Illinois make good examples of concessions made by government that when examined closely are more properly labeled as collusion. I'll take your side when this happens since my preference is for competition in a transparent market. Lack of transparency is an obvious lure for cockroaches who we must squish.

Make the distinction between the abstraction and the implementation, though. The danger is in how real people do things, not in the ideals we are considering and trying to test. Some experiments fail, yet the ideals survive. The ideal I'm pushing here involves the division of power through separation of duties. Divide power enough and the oligarchs will have a hard time buying it all. They will have to buy too many people and risk encountering paladins.

Jeff B. said...

Alfred Differ:

Re: Privatizing schools- "Also, if a large number of people want to avoid participation in a public school system, maybe it SHOULD fail. Consider the possibility that people closest to something understand it best."

This argument would hold water in a closed, logic-based system, but the real world is anything but. The "perception" of things is paramount; if the large number of people wanting to avoid participation in a public school system were all to do their own research, and all come to their own conclusions independently, based on the facts of the case, their ability to pay, etc., that's one thing. But that's not what happens. In the real world most people (for one reason or another) form their conclusions based on the opinion of others. And private schools, charter schools, and online charters all have a VERY vested financial interest in tapping into the "dissatisfied public school market."

The result? Advertising. Heavy advertising. Lobbying lawmakers. Adoption of "research" papers by so-called think tanks. Meme-adoption by those favoring privatization out of principle or ideology. Pretty soon the whole well is poisoned, so that accurate information is hard to find, and takes too long for the average person to dig for.So "all these people are saying that charter schools are better, so I want my kids to go to one, too!"

And yes, all this pushes us further down the path of separation into a proto-class structure.

In a perfect, logical world, I'd be one of the first in line for your plan, but not in this one.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: I’ve seen badly out of control contractors and attempts to assign birddogs too. Birddogs fail when they begin to agree with the contractor too much. It’s a common enough problem since we are all human. You fail to mention one of the possible solutions, though. If government doesn’t have the talent to do function X, they CAN own contractors to do it (defense/aerospace works this way to some extent), but an alternative is to stop doing function X by getting out of the business. They cannot be corrupted if they aren’t doing it. Before you fume or sputter, please remember this HAS been done occasionally. Recall the freeing of the internet.

I get that you think it is stupid for CEO’s to do that, but I’ve seen it work. It isn’t stupid. It is evolution through risk taking.

Regarding roads and medicine, you are making faith statements. There is no point arguing about them. What I’m hoping for is experimental evidence. I really don’t know if the best thing is to collectively provide for medical needs. Running the experiments is difficult, though, when progressives argue they already know how to design society.

Alfred Differ said...

@Jeff B: if the large number of people wanting to avoid participation in a public school system were all to do their own research, and all come to their own conclusions independently, based on the facts of the case, their ability to pay, etc., that's one thing. But that's not what happens.

Thank goodness. If that is what was happening or even expected of us, I’d be pretty upset. The vast majority of people don’t form opinion that way. Those who expect it of us don’t understand what it is to be human. If you are one of the people who think this is the best way to do it, I’ll point out to you that you depend FAR, FAR too much upon reasoned thought. The VAST majority of what humans know is stuff they don’t know they know. Depend too much upon conscious reason and you’ll abandon most of what we know both as individuals and as communities.

A little humility is in order. Our neighbors aren’t as stupid as our reason suggests they are. Neither are we and we can demonstrate this fact by using the wisdom of crowds.

Let them lobby and advertise. Seriously. Let EVERYONE do it.

NoOne said...

Here's a very long article on American authoritarianism and how it predicts Trump. Has data to back the claim that changing demographics, illegals, minorities, Islamophobia, gay marriage and lower middle class economic woes have triggered authoritarianism in a majority of the GOP. Traces out implications. Political realignment is a possibility with a new spectrum forming along a new Authoritarian <====> Libertarian axis.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Running the experiments is difficult, though, when progressives argue they already know how to design society.


Maybe in California. In the country as a whole, it seems to me that the right wing already "knows" how to design society.

Jeff B. said...

Alfred,

One other thing (or two: who oversees the road or school contractors, if that's all you have? Let's say Megamillion Corp contracts with Jeffburg, a rural township of 10K, to build and maintain 50% of the roads. Who ensures that Megamillion (whose execs laugh at the concerns of tiny little Jeffburg), complies with the terms of its contract? If Megamillion controls most of the business in the region, how is any competitor going to forward a competitive bid, if Jeffburg is dissatisfied with Megamillion's horrible, outdated, crumbling roads, lack of maintenance, nonexistent winter maintenance, etc.? Further, how will Bob, Ltd., my neighbor's road startup, ever going to get the foot in the door, in the face of multinationals like Megamillion?

Or, to push it further, Jeffburg has NO contracts, Megamillion Corp and it's 3 competitors already built and paid for the roads. What leverage does Jeffburg have? No contract signed- the companies didn't need to; you don't like our roads, go pay to ride on someone else's equally crummy and expensive road.

Not to mention no control over where the roads are built.

Oh, wait, I just realized, this sounds a lot like PA's local cable, electric, and phone monopolies... Still, the point remains the same- how do you control the genie once out of the bottle?

LarryHart said...

NoOne:

...American authoritarianism and how it predicts Trump


Trump was doing the birther thing back in 2011 and pretending to run ("Just kidding!") in 2012. Was he setting the table for this run even that far back?

Jeff B. said...

Alfred,

I agree with you about the argument from logic- I wasn't trying to claim that's how it should be done. Perhaps too much argument ad absurdum on my part, but pushed to the extreme, that seemed to be where your justification was coming from.

I do think my basic point is still valid. I'm not calling people stupid by any means, but when the information pool upon which we all draw is tainted by those with a profit margin, or simply un-fact-checked ideology, then making valid decisions becomes difficult and perhaps impossible.

Perhaps the love of money is not the root of ALL evil, but the taint of money accounts for at least a bit of it. I'm not at all opposed to private enterprise, but do not trust it without tight controls to ensure that everyone tells the truth and plays fair and shares.

locumranch said...



I recently hit on a rather apt analogy for today's US political & economic circumstance --- Milton Bradley's 'Monopoly' Board Game ---which is actually THREE games in one.

The first part of the game is all about Equality & Opportunity. After picking a token (top-hat, race-car, etc), you race around an unencumbered & relatively forfeitless board, purchase properties at bargain prices & collect $200 for just passing 'Go'. This part of the game is most analogous to the Post-WW2 US (1944-1974), a time of seemingly limitless opportunity, free money, egality & an expanding economy.

The second part of the game begins after all the properties are purchased. Few Monopolies exist as of yet, but playing field opportunity becomes LIMITED. Each roll of the dice may lead to Rent forfeiture; and Monies become tight because of financial over-extension on properties purchased, tax penalties & playing expenses. This part of the game is most analogous to a Post-Industrial US (1974 -2004), a time of diminished economic opportunities, real wage stagnation, tighter finances & an increased social emphasis on horse-trading & barter leading to eventual monopolistic consolidation.

The third part is the monopolistic End Game wherein opportunity becomes negative. Monopolies abound; penalties predominate; rents sky-rocket (with the addition of houses & hotels); and more & more emphasis must be placed on 'Rule Enforcement' to prevent CHEATING. Most analogous to the US Service Economy US (2004-present), it becomes a game of ATTRITION. The unscrupulous (and/or cheating) Banker has a disproportionate advantage; the less fortunate Middle may be destroyed by a single roll-of-the-dice; and, players often compete for the suspension of risk that only a time-out in 'Jail' can provide.

In the last half of part 3 (aka the 'End Game'), the Middle Class players are completely destroyed until only a single Monopoly, Oligarch or Big Brother remains IF & ONLY IF the 'Rule of Law' (aka 'The Establishment') can be maintained. But, more often than not, some disgruntled player TURNS OVER THE BOARD at this point & ends the game prematurely in order to protest humiliation, unfairness, loss & economic imbalance.

This is exactly where the USA & the EU are right now, and this is also where Trump, Sanders & PEGIDA gain their power: We have entered the global 'End Game' and the Western 'we' are being forced to choose between either Rule Obedience, Global Oligarchy & the All-Powerful Police State OR a'Resetting of the Game' that only an over-turning of the establishment can provide for us.

Optimists like David hope against hope that this so-called 'Game' can somehow be fixed by legislative legerdermain that will return us, as if by magic, to a Part 1 culture replete with a benign establishment, limitless opportunity, free money & an expanding economy, but it is far far too late for that because a rent-seeking Oligarchic Monopoly already OWNS the entire board, has festooned it with houses & hotels, and lays in wait for the unwary player.

Most certainly, blood will flow except in the EXTREMELY UNLIKELY event that the established Monopolists agree to surrender their winnings, yield to the Commons & begin again, voluntarily, without any accrued advantage (which is NOT going to happen).


Best
_____
Of all things, I am now an Official Sanders Delegate, replete with disproportionate political influence and resplendent in my tight hipster trousers, my clownish teeny tiny hat & my retro pointy shoes :)

NoOne said...

LarryHart,

I think Trump has been trying to run for a very long time in various guises. The Vox article above implies that the accelerated pace of change of the past twenty years is mainly responsible for triggering a return to authoritarianism. Trump is merely taking advantage of this opening since neither political party directly addresses it (American boomers being less experienced than their European counterparts with the kind of populism that produces Mussolini, Hitler etc.).

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

Re-CEO's and the "just cut"
I didn't say that it wouldn't work - sometimes and for a short period - like eating the seed corn

Just that it was STUPID - the sort of thing a three year old would do

A CEO is paid several fortunes -
Is it too much for him/her to do some actual work and try and determine which parts of his/her operation need to be trimmed and which parts actually need MORE funds?

That is his/her JOB!!!

If the operation is 15% too fat overall he/she should immediately sack the person responsible - the CEO!

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: Maybe you’ve noticed that we HAVE begun to build a robot army? We are automating a number of things and putting (as close as we can) dit.humans on the front line. Drones and telepresence are what we can manage right now, but the robots are being developed too. 8)

There are no magical solutions to our problems whether we solve them through commercial markets, government, or something else. There aren’t even any static problems, so static solutions aren’t likely to work for long. One road owner might be well behaved while another is not. One community might want to teach evolution and another not. Each of us is going to have opinions about which are stupid and which are not, but we are all stupid if we think we can design solutions to current problems and far worse when we contemplate future problems. There are no unicorns eating sunshine and farting rainbows to help us cope with irrational agents who upon close examination are just our human neighbors. So what are we to do? I’m suggesting we do what we do best. Innovate through a combination of competition and cooperation. Assume we don’t know, but might know something we don’t realize we do. Let people find out.

As for the guild analogy for schools, it isn’t perfect. Where it works best is in the nature of a guild to protect the supply of talent. Who decides what the accreditation rules are for schools? Who decides the accreditation rules for individuals? Who decides who is capable of teaching at which level? You don’t have to look all that deep to see the potential conflicts of interest when those same people are also capable of influencing statutes and regulations.

Jumper said...

Well finally locum has revealed another hidden bit about himself.
He cheats at Monopoly.

donzelion said...

Here's an interesting take-down on Trump, rejecting the "anti-politics" demogague story, in favor of a "long-term class/race warrior" story.

http://www.salon.com/2016/02/29/sorry_david_brooks_but_we_cant_blame_trumps_ascendance_on_anti_politics_its_class_politics/

LOCUM - Interesting angle. Two thoughts on 'Monopoly':

(1) Ever play 'Monopoly' with more than 12+ players? Becomes a bit boring waiting between turns, but...an interesting dynamic arises. With so many players, the trick is to form secret alliances with a small set (say, 3-4), and to quietly drive out the "weaker" solo players who don't form such alliances. For it to work, all players need to publicly proclaim "secret alliances are cheating!" and "that's unfair competition!" A 'public' morality gets raised, but the winners need a 'private morality' they hide from everyone else until it's too late to stop them.

(2) Ever play 'Monopoly' where some players joined the game several rounds into play? Even though the board is the same, if they start with the same money, they're at a serious disadvantage to those who got there early. They might reasonably protest, "Hey, I should get a little more money to balance out the advantages you started with!" However, if the players who started the game are playing to win, they'll likely assert, "You have the same opportunity that I did. Do what you can with that, it's only fair."

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: I won't disagree with you regarding right wing inclinations toward authoritarian government. Progressives and Conservatives are often lured to the dark side as statists. 8)

Carl M. said...

What do you mean "charge to the center?" Trump is the center. For the entire race he has been targeting the blue collar voters long taken for granted by the Democrats. The border is a picket line, and Trump is promising to cut down on the hoards of strikebreakers. (Ugly? Yes. But labor unionism has its ugly side.) You cannot have a blue collar middle class if blue collar workers have to compete against Chinese factory workers and Mexican peasants without some protectionism. Supply and Demand, and whatnot.

Why is Trump intentionally un PC? Why did he make gun rights his second issue paper? Answer: these are areas where Joe Sixpack is at odds with his college town liberal allies.

Note that Trump's tax plan is more progressive than most Republican plans, and that Trump is calling for some kind of healthcare guarantee for everyone.

As you have pointed out in the past, the Center can go crazy.

David Brin said...

The whole uber-cynical and cosmically stupid monopoly analogy falls apart when

(1) wealth is generated by creative production of new goods and services/inventions etc.... instead of the entire system being rigged to ONLY be based upon zero-sum rent-seeking of the sort denounced by Adam Smith. BTW illustrating the vileness and ultimate self-destruction of that kind of Kapitalism is the POINT of the game.

2) When citizens see it in their self interest to create positive sum systems... via the reform methodologies illustrated by Franklin... Freaking Roosevelt.

Notice that the billionaires pushing for the reforms of #2 happen to be the billionaires who did NOT get rich by zero-sum rent-seeking but via goods and services.

Those are the guys who should be heroes to "conservatives" ... who happen not to be confederate yes-massa tool-shills of plantation lords.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor Brin, was it you who postulated a society with stern anti-secrecy laws, subsequent to "the fall of the Gnomes of Zurich"? I was always quite taken with that premise.
I think that Drumpf will go beyond saying the rich pay too little, and run on a campaign of "the game is rigged, and I want to fix it." It's presently a very powerful political premise, since a) the game IS rigged and b) a large number of voters, both on the left and right, know it. It informs the popularity of Sanders, and Drumpf is enough of a showman that he would be able to use it convincingly. Whether he should be BELIEVED, of course, is a whole 'nuther matter. Clinton, I think, would have trouble taking that approach, and indeed, between the speech payments and the SuperPACs, could end up painted as "the establishment candidate" for a crooked casino. It didn't help that the other day, Wasserman-Schultz, very closely linked to Clinton, cosponsored "legislation to delay and permanently muffle pending Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules to rein in small-dollar lenders that are currently able to levy triple-digit annual interest rates on the nation’s poorest" Not the first time that tone-deaf woman has done something damaging to Clinton's campaign.
I suspect a lot of Republican operatives foresee what you call Drumpf's "race to the center" as well, and are bracing for a breakaway third party, quite possibly behind Cruz. That would destroy the GOP. At least that's not in the cards for the Dems this year, although a lot of leftists might leave the presidential ballot vacant when they vote.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart: I won't disagree with you regarding right wing inclinations toward authoritarian government. Progressives and Conservatives are often lured to the dark side as statists


While I agree that the current Conservative politicians and voters are trending authoritarian, that's not even what I was talking about.

You said it was hard to do the experiment when "progressives argue they already know how to design society," which I took to mean that progressives won't let certain experiments be run because they have already ruled those ideas out on ideological grounds. My point was that in my experience (again, California may be different), the conservatives are the ones doing just that. There may be differences of opinion on aspects of governing, but by God, we all "know" that tax cuts on the top earners are not only desirable, but cost-free because they pay for themselves in increased productivity. And at the height of Recession in 2010, all of Europe and (for awhile) America "knew" that we had to shrink the deficit, which would not exacerbate the Recession because the confidence fairy would intervene.

Progressives are portrayed as being authoritarian to enforce equality and civility, but (again) in my experience, that's more a description of what progressives daydream about than how they actually govern. The ones who enforce orthodoxy to the point of (say) destroying the economy of Kansas while insisting that California must be failing because they govern differently, well, it's the party whose 41 Senators somehow agreed on everything for two years.

locumranch said...



David is correct:

New Wealth Creation & Positive Sum Systems are POSSIBLE, yet they are more akin to Blanche DuBois --- always dependent on the kindness of strangers --- than they are to the Zero Sum Stanley Kowalski, as many New Wealth Creators tend to degenerate rapidly into monopolistic anti-competitive rent-collectors as did Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon & Google.

Donzelion has impeccable logic:

Monopoly can be 'facilitated' by secret agreements & unequal opportunities, though most purists would term that as UNfair, an anti-trust violation and/or 'cheating'. Kudos are due, btw, for his avoidance of category error (last thread) by noting that *All (subcategory) creatives are deviants while all (main category) deviants need not be creative*.

And, Jumper is mistaken (although I wish otherwise):

I am too 'Old School' to cheat at Monopoly. Instead, I soldier on, honouring a unilateral social contract like a fool who swore fealty to a wrathful god. All obligations end though, including this one, leaving me soon at leisure.

Progressive do CHEAT, however, by altering rules mid-game to encourage 'fairness', 'parity' and 'equal outcomes', while established Conservatives do not need to cheat because the Civilisation Game was rigged from the beginning, Odds tend to favour the Establishment & the House always wins.
(See Ponzi Scheme)


Best

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Okay. Let me adjust my offering a bit then. Both Progressives and Conservatives make it difficult to run those experiments. Liberals are the ones who like them. The problem is many people already believe they know which experiments have been tried and failed. Many from both sides can quote lots of examples and they might even be correct.

For example, supply-side theory has untestable nonsense built into it and the few times it has been tried it has failed. Will it always fail? I'm not sure, but I'm already convinced enough to try other things. Supply side looks to me like it depends too much upon angelic behavior from the richest among us. I'd rather a system that helped people that relied upon more selfish behavior because Smith and others have made an excellent argument for it.

On the other side, there are a number of progressive 'good ideas' that I also think rely too much on angelic behavior from those running the programs and those being served. Try to displace these ideas, though, and one gets accused of demonic behavior since only such a person would want to fight the belief that charitable efforts are being served by the kindest among us. I don't want to fight people with kind hearts, but I do want to run experiments to find ways to use a much broader supply of selfish motivations. Again... Smith shows why.

My main beef with Progressives applies equally well against Conservatives. Thou thinkest too much. We Liberals have a strong point when we argue that our social institutions know things the participants within them don't. Rely too much upon personal reason and one is at risk of abandoning what the group knows. Obviously one can't abandon reason all together. That would be dumb. The problem arises when one believes too much in what one believes in. Liberals are more likely to escape that trap because we expect to compete with each other. We might even tolerate another supply-side experiment, but demand its proponents keep it on a small scale to avoid the harm we expect.

Alfred Differ said...

Locumranch obviously hasn't read Adam Smith's examples in The Wealth of Nations. Angelic behavior is not necessary for win-win scenarios. The subtle point about the Invisible Hand is that the behaviors it guides (as if it was angelic) are rather crude and selfish. People can be regular people and win-win situations happen quite often. Mindless markets cause the emergence of win-win opportunities. Regulated mindless markets do it repeatedly.

Alfred Differ said...

@Jeff B: Who oversees? I don’t mind regulation as long as it is created in a moral manner. That generally means a market for certain things (democratic votes) and a recognition between the ‘law’ as it emerges from society and ‘legislation’ that authorizes an enforcement elite to coerce when the ‘law’ is broken. Regulation is required to make private contracts meaningful, so I’ll support sensible approaches.

Your example involving Megamillion Corp and Jeffburg demonstrates a less than voluntary contract if the rich and powerful can breech it with no consequence. Obviously little Jeffburg isn’t going to be able to do much on its own. That’s why contract law requires believable, independent enforcers. Bob Ltd CAN get going if Jeffburg is free to make contracts of its choosing. Obviously, if Megamillion owns the legislators who write the rules by which Jeffburg must abide, there are no free contracts. So where should we focus the attention of enforcers who have no contract for Bob and Jeffburg? Maybe the simple example failed to mention that Jeffburg has a contract with its citizens who are obligated to shoot the legislators (figuratively) during the next election or for real if the elections are also bought. Obviously the people have to step in and act as a Jury now and then. If no Court will convene (it got bought too) then The People convene it themselves. Any legal theory that left the People with no recourse (through Jeffburg) would be propertarian and worthy of a rebellion. Isn’t that essentially what happened to a lot of European nobles?

However, what if the Jury convenes and the people decide they like it better this way? What if they can’t reach consensus instead? Now what? Majority rule has some serious problems when considering private contracts. People might get shot anyway, but we will learn something from it no doubt.

Alfred Differ said...

@Jeff B: You are making this too easy. 8)

Who gets to decide what ‘taint’ is for the information pool? You? Me? Do we trade off?

I grind my teeth on occasion with some of the stupid things people say and do, but I’m not inclined to support a precedence that supports group control of what is believed to be true. I’m far more inclined to let evolution take care of business. Someone supporting a truly stupid idea (let’s all go support our new Plantation Lords and get shot in the next phase of the Civil War) is going to take themselves out of the gene pool and meme pool. Their nonsense may live on for a while, but demonstrated failures tend to get culled a bit when our children decide not to keep to the old knowledge.

I’m willing to trust our children to do the right thing over us trying to design the right thing.

Robert said...

A problem for the Democratic Party is that neither Clinton nor Sanders are motivating their base to vote. While Sanders draws big crowds, they didn't vote at nearly the numbers that were drawn in with Obama.

Contrast this with Trump. Trump has drawn in huge crowds of people voting Republican.

This is problematic. People are just not interested in Clinton. They refuse to believe Sanders can beat her. So they're just shrugging and not bothering.

If Trump does get the nomination... the Republicans could end up winning the White House.

Of course, if Trump doesn't win enough delegates, then the convention could end up pulling Dr. Brin's prediction. If that happens, the Republicans lose because the hardcore 25% that are so intent on voting Trump will refuse to vote because the election was "stolen" from them.

Rob H.

David Brin said...


Zepp, I do not want to juix the two possible Trump benefits:

1- destruction of this version (zombie) of the GOP
and
2- him agreeing with Sanders re many things, making them front & center consensus agenda items (oh and HC desperately trying to act as if they had been her ideas.)

But both are essentail

“progressives” is a crappy word. Sure it unites leftists and liberals… and I do not want them united. They must be vigorous allies for now. But by personality they are very very different. The latter are the only flat-fair positive-sum pragmatic reformists left in American life and not one scintilla “authoritarian.”

LarryHart said...

Robert:

A problem for the Democratic Party is that neither Clinton nor Sanders are motivating their base to vote. While Sanders draws big crowds, they didn't vote at nearly the numbers that were drawn in with Obama.

Contrast this with Trump. Trump has drawn in huge crowds of people voting Republican.


I think you are making a mistake that a lot of pundits also made in 2009. You're assuming that voting in the primaries predicts the general election--that the level of excitement in the GOP primary translates into GOP votes in November, and that Hillary will lose to Trump in the same states she loses to Bernie.

I heard the same thing on progressive talk radio yesterday--someone claiming that Hillary was losing to Bernie with young white women and was only slightly ahead of him with older white women, and concluding from this that she would be in trouble in the general, as if those white women who prefer Bernie would also prefer Trump. And as I say, the media was all over this idea in 2008, drawing maps that presumed all the states Obama had lost to Hillary in the primaries would go for McCain in the general.

I really don't think it works that way.

I agree with you this far--that it's a bad idea to take a Trump loss for granted. He could win the same way Reagan did. Or Hitler, for that matter. But the voting patterns in the primaries are not the best predictors to use. After all, almost no one voted in the Democratic primaries in 2012. That didn't keep President Obama from handily winning a second term.

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Of course, if you're distinguishing "liberals" from "progressives", I probably have to read everything you said over again. :)

@locumranch on Monopoly

You are correct that it is a bad idea to model a society on the board game. IIRC, the board game was invented in the Depression years as a kind of demonstration of that very fact. But of course, the game is designed that one player ends up with all the money, and therefore "wins". In real life, if someone won "all of the money", what would happen next? The end of the game is where the analogy with real life breaks down.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

1- destruction of this version (zombie) of the GOP


I want it as much as you do, but if the zombie survived 2005, 2006, and 2008, I'm not sure anything will kill it.


2- him agreeing with Sanders re many things, making them front & center consensus agenda items (oh and HC desperately trying to act as if they had been her ideas.)


Exactly! That's what many Bernie supporters are missing (hi, Robert). If Bernie loses the nomination but makes Hillary run on a more Bernie-like platform in the process, it's a win-win. Bernie has the better ideas, but Hillary is a better vessel for promoting those ideas, as long as she can be made to do so.

Jonathan Sills said...

Someone went to the trouble of finding the first mention of Adolf Hitler in the New York Times, in 1922. The last three paragraphs are particularly disturbing, in light of the way Trump is being presented by many pundits.

Donald may well not be planning any "run for the center" at all...

This should link to the PDF. (It's my first try at coding a hyperlink - let's see if it works...)

Jon Roth said...

I think I read about this in a novel once. I think it was called "Dirtt" or "Terra", something like that. http://secondnexus.com/ecology-and-sustainability/extinct-zebra-back-from-dead/

donzelion said...

@Alfred - Maybe you’ve noticed that we HAVE begun to build a robot army?
LOL. Yes, I'd noticed. Perhaps we've both played a role in that.

@Dr. Brin The whole uber-cynical and cosmically stupid monopoly analogy falls apart... A lot of economics becomes clear from watching and understanding games, but sometimes, understanding the games requires creativity. In Monopoly, with large sets of players, one can see the advantages from moving early and from collusion - things that wouldn't be as obvious otherwise. The fact that all players rolled the same dice on the same board does NOT mean all players had an equal chance. Similarly, 'perfect equality' cannot be achieved by making sure all 'players' get to roll the same dice on the same board in more complex games, like life (not "Life" a much more stupid game).

@Locum - Progressive do CHEAT, however, by altering rules mid-game to encourage 'fairness', 'parity' and 'equal outcomes'

Say Parker Brothers introduced a variant of Monopoly that contained a 'democracy' rule - e.g., 'new rules can be added to these rules, by majority vote.' In such a case, one would expect that the cabal of secret alliances, once detected by other players, would be offset by changes to the order of play, new taxes imposed on those who obtained monopolies early on...Is that 'cheating'? Certainly, from the perspective of those who were 'winning the game.'

donzelion said...

@Alfred - in terms of the "robot army" - I'm a big fan of Michael Sandel and his arguments about the nature of justice (including take downs of JS Mill, Kant, libertarianism, and most other concepts of justice advocated so loosely by so many). But we have ample history of 'mercenary armies' - indeed, the 'bond market' itself was created to finance mercenaries, then adopted for nearly every other public work (esp. roads).

"we are all stupid if we think we can design solutions to current problems and far worse when we contemplate future problems."
I'd say we are stupid if we think that our solutions will not raise unintended consequences, which will have to be addressed, but I do NOT think we are stupid to try to design solutions. Engineers design solutions. Police 'design' solutions (to problems of criminals). Drivers 'design' solutions (to problems of traffic - by trying to telecommute, or carpool, or drive different routes). Everyone is always 'designing.' And that's a good thing.

For public works, we have to design around irrational agents - people who 'play the game' for a very different set of rules than the rest of us. "Competition and cooperation" work well - when engaging with rational agents. When engaging with irrational agents, other means are sometimes necessary (including, if they're particularly dastardly, expelling them from the game).

For accreditation systems, which rules are you primarily concerned with as "market restrictions"? I'm comfortable setting rules that prohibit segregation, and with rules that 'cheat' at standards. I'm comfortable with an accreditation regime that prohibits "fake competition" (e.g., School X expels any student who fails to score 80% on its reading test - and as a result, School X always performs well on standardized tests).

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Any Bible Thumper who eats pigs and then cites Leviticus as an excuse for hate is a pure hypocrite"

And now we have french bible thumpers who want to make pork mandatory in school canteens. Guess why.

***

* "Well finally locum has revealed another hidden bit about himself.
He cheats at Monopoly.
"

You're supposed to cheat at Monopoly: that's the whole point of the game: business acumen is pointless: you win either through sheer blind luck or by loading the dices.

***

* "The last three paragraphs are particularly disturbing, in light of the way Trump is being presented by many pundits."

One of the most annoying meme of the political arena is "X isn't really a racist/extremist/fundamentalist/antisemite/whatever because deep down he doesn't really believe the bullshit his saying"

Racism, has all other forms of animosity, is not a belief: it is an intent: it doesn't matter whether someone who expresses the desire to hurt someone else believes his own self-serving justifications or not.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Laurent
I totally disagree with
"You're supposed to cheat at Monopoly: that's the whole point of the game: business acumen is pointless: you win either through sheer blind luck or by loading the dices."

There is a lot of skill in deciding just how much everything is worth when buying and selling
The values change with every throw of the dice

Unless you are one of those people who only use the card value?
I encountered somebody who had only played the game using the card values a few decades ago - he was horrified about the way we played

The dice do make a difference but in most cases somebody who plays a smart (and ruthless) game will win

Deuxglass said...

Monopoly, Chess, Go and other games are often seen as proxies for life in general but nothing is further from the truth. Putin is good at Chess so he is good at foreign relations. The Chinese have an advantage because they play Go and e.c.t. It’s utter bullshit.

If we wanted to make Monopoly closer to real life, we can by changing some rules.

1) Make it played by increasing the number of players to twenty and above.
2) Make the cost of ownership by introducing property taxes based on assessed value.
3) Introduce upkeep, deprecation, renovation, and operational costs.
4) Allow marriage and divorce. (combining assets reduce operating costs)
5) Roll in births (assume no birth control, number set by a roll of dice)
6) Have a Death card ( estate tax and assets divided among the survivors)
7) Allow the facultative buying of fire and health insurance.
8) Players that lose everything remain in the game and receive minimal payment from the bank.
9) Most of all, every four or five rounds have an election where tax rates can be changed! (all players vote, create parties, secret ballots, and any player can sell his vote to whomever he wants)
10) New cards would be necessary. (Pay the Doctor, Pay the Lawyer, Tax Audit, etc)
11) Allow players to borrow money from the bank (with limits) and from other players (without limits) and pay interest.

The voting requirement could be very interesting. If enough players become poor then, at some point, they will vote tax increases. The rich players could buy them off for a while or ally with the middle-income players to keep power. On the other hand, the middle-income players could ally with the poor ones against the rich players. Bring the political element into the game. Let them vote on tax rates, let them vote on health insurance rates and but above all make the Bank (government) have a limited amount of money so costs and expenses must be balanced.

A game like this would mimic life much more than the simple Monopoly game. We should have teenagers play this game so they can see how the real world operates and they would be much better prepared for life as it really is.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Deuxglass
You are missing the point
It is easy to add complexity - the idea is to have the minimum of complexity that still gives a fun game

Monopoly is fun because it is such a simple analog which still manages to mimic real life

(1) is silly the more dilute the game the less fun it would be and the less it would teach
(2) How much is the property tax for a day??
(3-7) As above
(8) no somebody has to go and make the coffee
(9) How much tax in one day?
(10) just different names
(11) You can borrow in the game - same as in real life you can borrow against an asset

Deuxglass said...

Duncan Caincross,

I wrote this of the top of my head so it is not perfect but let me try to address your criticisms. I think that added complexity would make it more fun, at least for me.

1) A larger number of players is necessary in order to have more choices for the individual player and makes the political parts more interesting.
2) All taxes and premiums are paid annually, that is after everyone has completed a tour around the board. The initial tax rate would be set at the beginning and can change after a vote. That rate would be determined by a vote at the start of the game.
3) Depreciation can be set at 5% per year. Operating costs are a percentage of assets. Both are paid to the bank or you can pay it to an unfortunate player if he offers a cheaper rate than the bank.
4)The incentive to marry another player (gay marriage is allowed)is that it would reduce your operating costs as you merge the assets together (by about 10%). In a divorce, assets are split equally. It would be fun to see the partners squabble over which properties to buy.
5)A birth card would determine children. For a gay marriage it would be adoption.
6)Estate taxes are set in the beginning and the rate can be voted on as are other taxes. If player has no survivor then his assets go the government.
7)For fire insurance the premiums would be percent of assets covered. It is facultative but if you don't have it and you property burns, then you lose the price of the property but you remain owner of the lot. Health insurance is facultative also but the premium is the same for everyone. If you hit the "Pay the Doctor" card, the price you pay depends on the roll of the dice. If you have the money you pay it. If you don't have enough then you go into debt. If you are covered then you don't pay at all.
8) he makes the coffee but he can get back into the game if a player dies. He would come back in that case a child of the dead person and inherits a part of the inheritance (think trump).
10) I am open to what new cards should be introduced.
11) borrowing is very important in the game. All real estate empires were built using leverage after all. If you don't have assets then you can't borrow from the bank (but you can borrow from another player). I put that in because debt can be very useful or very bad depending on how you use it.

In regular Monopoly you have only one Bank but I think you should add a Government and an Insurance account. The Government gets the taxes but spends that money to keep the "keep the game going". You will have to set a minimum tax rate. An Insurance account is necessary to receive the premiums and pay for the Doctor and for fires. If that account goes empty the players will either have to have no insurance or vote to increase premiums.

You can play the game with all kinds of "what if?" scenarios and it evolves as the game progresses both in the economic side and the political side. It would be a fun online game to play. It might evolve into a socialist system or a feudal one or an equilibrium somewhere.

Deuxglass said...

ADDITION: If voters vote "Revolution" with a two-thirds majority, then assets are divided up equally and the game continues.

Jumper said...

You guys are funny. I prefer chess, so have no useful contribution at this time. But you got me wondering and I found: Singapore has progressive property taxes.
https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/Property/Property-owners/Working-out-your-taxes/Property-Tax-Reliefs/Lower-Property-Tax-Rates-for-Owner-Occupied-Residential-Properties/

Douglas Fenton said...

Getting back to what Trump's possible policies would be, I ran into an analysis of his position on banks and Wall Street in the "American Banker" magazine and they think Trump will definitely be against them in word and deed.

Here is the link:

http://www.americanbanker.com/bankthink/

Anonymous Viking said...

@Jumper;

Many states have a homestead exemption, which makes property tax progressive, including the state progressives love to hate, Texas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_exemption

http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/proptax/pdf/96-1740.pdf

In the case of Texas, the first $25000 in value is not subject to property taxes, so somebody living in a house worth $100K will pay 3/8 the property taxes of someone living in a $200K house, or less. The $25K excemption is a minimum required by state law.

locumranch said...




Rob_H echoes the MSNBC 24/7 News Feed in regard to poor Democrat Party voter motivation & turn-out, reflecting the internalisation of their insidious collective mantra, "The futility of individual effort" (aka 'Let somebody else do it'), which already has led to a democratic sickening that allows the Establishment to choose our leaders for us, as exemplified by the attempted pre-election coronations of Clinton & Bush.

Affecting much more than politics, this malignant belief in 'The futility of individual effort' corrupts every aspect of our society, including Science, Academia, Resource Redistribution & Human Reproduction, leading to the (mistaken) presumption that all effective action REQUIRES either the Magic of a "97% Consensus" or unquestionable Central Authority.

As I write this, I listen to the failed Establishment Conservative Romney denounce Trump as a 'liar', 'cheat', 'oligarch', 'elitist', 'racist' and 'misogynist', and laugh at the sheer PROJECTION of it, as these Leftist & Marxist taunts spill out of the cake-hole of perhaps THE most insincere, whitest, misogynistic, pro-oligarchic elitist every to grace the Establishment-certified political stage.

We have seen our collective's true face, and it's not pretty. Our leaders falsely promise reward & absolution to their followers, and our followers blindly follow leaders who are false, and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their lies, cheats and murder will foam up about their waists and all the consensus-builders, takers, whores, politicians will look up and shout "Save us!... and we'll look down, and whisper "no." :p


Best
_____

@Alfred. No, I haven't read Smith's 'Moral Sentiments', but his credulous belief in predictable self-interest appears quite similar to those expressed by Ayn Rand & Supply-Side economic theory, all of which tend to ignore the fact that humans often ignore (or are REQUIRED to ignore) self-interest in pursuit of higher ideals & collective goals. Perhaps you have seen this 'Invisible Hand" of the Moral Market, but I have not, but perhaps it may "Trickle Down" any day now, like manna from above.

@Laurent: Racism (fundamentalism, idealism, extremism & whatever) are NEITHER beliefs NOR intents, since both are immaterial & unreal abstractions. All these 'Isms' are the BEHAVIOURS (that we judge undesirable) which may or may not result from immaterial belief or abstract intent; and, to argue otherwise is to accept the validity of 'Thought-Crime'.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Similarly, 'perfect equality' cannot be achieved by making sure all 'players' get to roll the same dice on the same board in more complex games, like life (not "Life" a much more stupid game).


I presume you're making fun of the board game called "The Game of Life", and not the similarly-named game that featured prominently in Dr Brin's novel "Glory Season". That had me confused for quite a while while reading the book.

LarryHart said...

Johnathan Sills:

Someone went to the trouble of finding the first mention of Adolf Hitler in the New York Times, in 1922. The last three paragraphs are particularly disturbing, in light of the way Trump is being presented by many pundits.


For everyone, including my old conservative buddy, Chris, who likes to place Hitler on the political left because he called his movement "National Socialism", please take note of the observation that was obvious as far back as 1922:


There is nothing socialistic about the National Socialism he preaches.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

* "Any Bible Thumper who eats pigs and then cites Leviticus as an excuse for hate is a pure hypocrite"

And now we have french bible thumpers who want to make pork mandatory in school canteens. Guess why.

Well, if it were America, I'd expect them to allow exemptions for Jews.

Over there, you guys might be after two birds with one stone. (Please correct me if I'm mistaken)


One of the most annoying meme of the political arena is "X isn't really a racist/extremist/fundamentalist/antisemite/whatever because deep down he doesn't really believe the bullshit his saying.


What he personally believes is much less important than what his followers believe. If it comes down to it, Trump won't be able to calm his followers (assuming he even wanted to) any more than the GOP can calm Trump.

The Frankenstein monster that the Republican Party created, and which is now out of control, is not Trump, but the movement Trump represents.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

I totally disagree with
"You're supposed to cheat at Monopoly: that's the whole point of the game: business acumen is pointless: you win either through sheer blind luck or by loading the dices."

There is a lot of skill in deciding just how much everything is worth when buying and selling
The values change with every throw of the dice.


This is off on a tangent, but when my daughter was only five years old, she used to like watching the tv show "Deal Or No Deal".

Most people didn't understand that the way to win that game is not to get the million (which could only happen by chance), but to take the deal at the correct moment to maximize the amount that you get. And of course, the tv show encourages people to never take the deal, which almost always leads to a worse outcome.

For a five year old, my daughter had a remarkable intuitive talent for knowing when to take the deal. I was constantly amazed when she regularly did better than the actual contestants.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their lies, cheats and murder will foam up about their waists and all the consensus-builders, takers, whores, politicians will look up and shout "Save us!... and we'll look down, and whisper "no." :p


Jeez, loc, is nothing sacred? Apparently, the devil can quote "Watchmen" for his own purposes.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

And now we have french bible thumpers who want to make pork mandatory in school canteens. Guess why.


Belatedly, it also occurs to me that such a condition would offend Catholics as well (at least on Fridays, or at the very least, on Fridays during Lent).

Is that no longer a consideration in France?

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass - My point wasn't how to make a better game, but to tease out behaviors in the real world we observe today - e.g., the effect of collusion - and how it's best attained through a cynical "public v. private" morality and secret insider deals.

For example, Carl M referred to blue collar workers 'suffering' from 'illegal immigration.' I believe many of them are indeed angry. I also believe that the insiders, who've colluded with one another to benefit from illegal immigration, are afraid that blue collar workers MIGHT unite with the 'new entrants' - so the colluders strive to channel rage by blue collar workers against the immigrants themselves (thereby locking in their winnings).

Trump already benefited from cheap labor at his properties. Cruz and Rubio already benefited from immigration rules that were advantageous to them personally. All three must deflect attention from the advantages they've already attained. However, Trump has been playing a sleight of hand game longer than his political rivals.

Jeff B. said...

Jonathan Sills,

Do you have details on who did the research for that article? All my historian-alarms are blaring. The word choice, sentence structure, and writing style seems anachronistic for that time period (most of it seems very late-20th Century, with attempts to sound like that era). And the circumstances seem suspicious as well- while the Times certainly had reporters in Europe at the time, it is extraordinarily coincidental that they had someone on hand or passing through the German hinterlands at the same time and place when Hitler was moving toward the Beer Hall putsch. And I find it hard to credit that a "sophisticated politician" would ever be interviewed, let alone make such a late 20th/early 21st C. analysis of Hitler's strategies and tactics- and coincidentally make such analysis in just that way that just coincidentally happens to parallel The Donald.

Not trying to derail the discussion, but once an historian...

Jeff B. said...

Alfred Differ,

My fault for not clearly stating my assumptions in my "Jeffburg" hypothetical. I was assuming for the sake of argument that this would be the "minarchist" example, with government reduced to the bare, local level. The controls you mention- the enforcers- would need to come from the collective of numerous Jeffburgs, say, perhaps, a state or federal government, to have hope of being able to enforce the established rules. And I wholeheartedly agree with the necessity of enforcement.

I seem to be coming at this with almost diametrically opposed distrusts than you. My experiences with the private sector have made me as suspicious and distrustful as you appear to be of the public sphere. But I would posit in parallel with what you imply- that any of these problems result from and are a natural consequence of any large organization; the difference lies in the motivations and drives governing the respective spheres.

Deuxglass said...

donzelion,

The game was just a thought experiment and made a dull day a bit more fun so thanks for getting me started on it.

Without a doubt, Trump has run rings around the Republican leadership. A good part of the reason may be that he works in the "real world" where the GOP leadership has been working in an increasingly rarefied atmosphere and incestuous relationships where rules are followed. Basically they became why out of touch with the voters. They remind me of the French Aristocracy just before the Revolution where palace intrigues was mistaken for reality. I would expect guillotines will be set up in party headquarters soon.

donzelion said...

@Robert/Larry - going back to turnout and electoral results...in 2000, Gore won a fairly tepid primary as the 'anointed' candidate, went on to win the popular vote but ultimately lose the election; meanwhile, Dems picked up several Senate seats. The biggest threat to Gore in 2000 wasn't Bill Bradley, but Ralph Nader, who drew an unusually robust 3rd party insurgency that consisted almost entirely of voters who would otherwise have voted Democratic. The situation was a reversal of '92, when Ross Perot drew a robust pool of voters who were generally Republican leaning but annoyed with George "Read my lips" Bush (even if they had never earned a penny from capital gains...).

@Larry - I presume you're making fun of the board game called "The Game of Life", and not the similarly-named game that featured prominently in Dr Brin's novel "Glory Season"

I was referring to Monopoly, or any other game where early movers have an option to change the meaning of the board during their move, e.g., by blocking others from exploiting its assets. I was mocking the suggestion that in such a game, a 'level playing field' is ever truly 'level.' Milton Bradley's "Life" is the board game equivalent to playing with dolls; lots of children like to do so.

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass - The game was just a thought experiment and made a dull day a bit more fun so thanks for getting me started on it. LOL, not attacking, so much as trying to explain what my purpose was. Still, if you're looking for an interesting thought experiment, try this: Monopoly with limited liability companies (e.g., each player gets to create his own 'sub-players' - each of which can buy, own, mortgage, develop, and trade independently - and nobody knows who owns which LLC except the owner). My guess: there would soon be 100s of 'players', and the game would become tedious. Everybody loses. ;)

They remind me of the French Aristocracy just before the Revolution where palace intrigues was mistaken for reality. I would expect guillotines will be set up in party headquarters soon.

I see more of a 'Gilded Age' 1870s America: elites living on protected estates, amassing wealth through secretive dealings (then, 'trusts,' today, derivatives), while Dems and Reps bicker over trivialities, neither really controls all that much. I see no 'guillotines' ahead, neither literal nor figurative. Only collusion...

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. I got to see my wife clapping for something Romney said today. You know politics is getting interesting when she finds common cause with someone in the GOP. 8)

I think it was his comment about Trump's misogyny.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "There is nothing socialistic about the National Socialism he preaches."

National Socialism is to Socialism what Social Darwinism is to Darwinism. For those who don't know, Social Darwinism was originally just another "fuck the plebs" ideology, cooked up in a book published eight years before the publication of the Origins of Species: these fuck-the-plebists took the name Social Darwinists later, in order to appear sciencey.

Likewise, Nazis used the term "Socialism" as a gambit to make their movement look like something it was not. In both cases, the imposture starts with the name.

***

* "Well, if it were America, I'd expect them to allow exemptions for Jews.

Over there, you guys might be after two birds with one stone. (Please correct me if I'm mistaken)
"

Not even that.
It's not that there's no antisemitism among the french white bourgeoisie, because there's still a fuckton of it (although it's mostly kept behind closed doors), it's just that a great many French don't realize that practicing Jews have dietary restrictions as well: they know that Kosher food is a thing that exists, they just don't pay attention, like it was just another label stamped on food, and therefore don't think about Jews when they start pushing for mandatory pork.

***

* "Belatedly, it also occurs to me that such a condition would offend Catholics as well (at least on Fridays, or at the very least, on Fridays during Lent).

Is that no longer a consideration in France?
"

Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!

Seriously, you think our Bible Thumpers care about internal consistency more than your Bible Thumpers?
Naaaah, they push for mandatory pork in the name of secularism (because according to them, not forcing pork down Muslim kids is an unacceptable accommodation to religious fundamentalism, somehow), then in the same breath demand fish on Fridays, because Christian Tradition, as well as Christmas trees in schools and nativity scenes inside city halls, also because of Christian Tradition. Christianity has pretty much been reduced to a tribal marker for Whites, and shoving Christian customs and imagery down everybody's throats while forbidding plebeians of foreign descent to follow their own ceremonial customs is a way for insecure Whites to convince themselves that they're still the Rightful Masters of the Land.

Deuxglass said...

donzelion,

You are getting me started again! I could see this game useful for economic and business students in a class. Limit the number at a 100 with a grade at the end to ensure they play it seriously. The professor could introduce external events like a recession or whatever to keep it interesting. He could, for example, have the bank go bankrupt and have the students vote on saving it with tax money or let it die and allow players with cash to set up their own bank. At the end of the semester students would have to analyse the results. It would be a great laboratory to test assumptions and behavior.

Jon S. said...

@JeffB: I don't know for sure who teased that out originally, but you can get free limited access to the files at the Times, which is where I found that PDF.

The Times did the research originally.

Jeff B. said...

Laurent, I think the "socialism" in National Socialism only became apparent as Germany tooled up for war. The oligarchs had a rude awakening when Hitler began asserting state control over industry- they were free, but only to produce as they were told by the various ministries.

Jeff B. said...

Jon S.,

Thank you, that clears the bar now. Still an amazing series of coincidences and timing.

Perhaps it's not possible in the gusher of "news" in the information age, but would that the major media outlets still focused on such reporting. Written reporting is being constricted by finances, and the major networks have long since found it's far easier to produce info-tainment with endless talking heads taking the place of serious investigative journalism.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

11) borrowing is very important in the game. All real estate empires were built using leverage after all. If you don't have assets then you can't borrow from the bank (but you can borrow from another player). I put that in because debt can be very useful or very bad depending on how you use it.


When I was very young--probably 40 years ago now--my cousins and I used to play the game called "Tripoli", which is like a triathlon of Poker, Michigan Rummy, and a third game I don't remember now.

In order to keep people from having to leave the game when broke, we introduced the concept of borrowing at interest, which quickly morphed into "borrowing in exchange for a percentage of future winnings." The inadvertent lesson of that experiment is that once you become a creditor, you've got it made, and once you go into debt, it is almost impossible to get out from under.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

I would expect guillotines will be set up in [Republican] party headquarters soon.


I'd expect them to be set up outside party headquarters.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

...and therefore don't think about Jews when they start pushing for mandatory pork.


Wow!

No, I don't expect mainstream non-Jewish culture to be aware of all of the intricacies of kosher law, but I thought it was pretty common knowledge that Jews aren't supposed to eat pig. Then again, I grew up in a metropolitan area. When I went to college, I was amazed at how many Jewish words that I thought were mainstream were not so much. My girlfriend's roommate, from rural Iowa, had never even heard the word Bar Mitzvah.


Seriously, you think our Bible Thumpers care about internal consistency more than your Bible Thumpers?
Naaaah, they push for mandatory pork in the name of secularism (because according to them, not forcing pork down Muslim kids is an unacceptable accommodation to religious fundamentalism, somehow), then in the same breath demand fish on Fridays, because Christian Tradition, as well as Christmas trees in schools and nativity scenes inside city halls, also because of Christian Tradition. Christianity has pretty much been reduced to a tribal marker for Whites, and shoving Christian customs and imagery down everybody's throats while forbidding plebeians of foreign descent to follow their own ceremonial customs is a way for insecure Whites to convince themselves that they're still the Rightful Masters of the Land.


Oh, you are just like America, then. :)

Where "religious liberty" now means the freedom of the Catholic Church to assert its will over individuals. Real 1984 language territory, now.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Heh. I got to see my wife clapping for something Romney said today. You know politics is getting interesting when she finds common cause with someone in the GOP. 8)


I haven't heard Romney's speech yet, but I did get a kick out of Paul Ryan the other day insisting that there is no place for bigotry in the Republican Party.

I suspect that, at least up until now, Republican leadership has had the attitude toward Trump that Ayn Rand's Mr Thompson had toward John Galt:

"Do you want them to think we agree with that?"

"Do you want them to think we don't?"



LarryHart said...

Heh.

I just checked out the New York Times website to see what Romney said.

Among other things:

“His domestic policies would lead to recession,” Mr. Romney said. “His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”


I agree with everything he said, but those characteristics are different from Romney himself, or any Republican candidate...how?

Robert said...

Larry, just because Hillary has "veered to the Center-Left" because of Sanders does not mean she would fulfill any of those campaign promises when elected President.

A better way of determining the actions of a possible President is to look at their previous actions. Clinton's previous actions show her to be very much a Republican - at least, a Republican from 30+ years ago. And while the Republicans from 30+ years ago were saner than today... I fully expect a Clinton Presidency to ignore labor rights, ignore civil rights, and do everything in its power to benefit the oligarchy.

That she is better than any of the Republican candidates is a moot point. We will not get change with a Clinton Presidency. We will have four to eight more years of the same old obstructionism only with Clinton's face on the television screens.

What we need is for a candidate who will champion civil rights, will champion labor rights, will champion your right to choose to live your life as you want. While many of the Right-leaning Libertarians would snort at the concept, I look at Sanders and see the most civil-libertarian-leaning candidate on the ballot. (Unfortunately, the majority of libertarians I've run across online, outside of Avens O'Brien, are Randists who want to tear down civilization and believe an anarchist society would actually function.)

As I said before - my vote doesn't matter. My state will vote for Clinton even if it's revealed she's one of those tentacle aliens from the Simpsons. And that leaves me to safely vote Libertarian, as I've done for the vast majority of my voting actions. That does not mean I'm going to blindly ignore the dangers that Clinton represents. To me, Sanders would be a superior President to Clinton because of his disinclination to meddle in foreign affairs using military action, and because he'd likely tell the DEA to ignore marijuana and focus their efforts on more deadly drugs. (And of course labor rights. Which let's face it, Clinton might say she's for, but would stomp all over while upholding her corporate masters' wishes.)

Rob H., who would vote for a Republican if they weren't so blind as to the repercussions of their anti-abortion viewpoint and the precedent it represents in eliminating bodily autonomy

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I fully expect a Clinton Presidency to ignore labor rights, ignore civil rights, and do everything in its power to benefit the oligarchy.


Then why does the oligarchy hate her so much?


That she is better than any of the Republican candidates is a moot point. We will not get change with a Clinton Presidency. We will have four to eight more years of the same old obstructionism only with Clinton's face on the television screens.


We will get a Supreme Court nomination who is not another Scalia. Maybe one or two more such appointments in the next four years. That alone is worth having a Democratic president and Senate, no matter who that Democrat is.

What we need is for a candidate who will champion civil rights, will champion labor rights, will champion your right to choose to live your life as you want.


No, what we need is a Supreme Court that will champion those things. After that, it won't matter who is president.


Rob H., who would vote for a Republican if they weren't so blind as to the repercussions of their anti-abortion viewpoint and the precedent it represents in eliminating bodily autonomy


Abortion is your single most important issue, and you think Hillary would be a bad candidate? Can't you see that the emphasis on the Supreme Court is not just about abortion? I'm more concerned with judicial activist decisions like "Citizens United", their gutting of class action lawsuits, and the case they were set to rule on this upcoming term which would have essentially decided, these so-called "originalists", that when the Constitution says in as plain language as possible "whole number of persons", it really means "number of likely-Republican voters."

No president has the power to affect your life for decades to come the way the Supreme Court does.

Robert said...

Larry, I would prefer Clinton to any of the Republican candidates.

But Sanders would be far preferable to Clinton.

And Sanders would select Supreme Court Justices who would be for civil liberties and cut back on police ignoring our Constitutional Rights. Clinton is part of the law-and-order group who, under her husband, put a large number of African Americans in prison (and kind of stopped them from being able to vote because ex-cons have far fewer rights than non-convicts).

Yes, I know Clinton would be another checkmark in the great Democratic Bingo Box "We had the first Black President and now we have the first Woman President, aren't we so inclusive and awesome?" - but you know something? I want quality. I want a President I can believe in.

I don't believe in Clinton.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Rob H you have one datum to support the notion that the Clintons are “olde republican” in that they compromised with Gingrich on Welfare reform and some early Wall Street loosening. OTOH…

- Bill Clinton waged ware like a democrat ( see http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-democrats-and-republicans-wage-war.html

- He supported science like a democrat

- He vetoed Supply Side tax cuts, which hit us like a tsunami the very instant his veto pen was gone.

- He appointed YOUR favorite Supreme Court justices.

- He & Hill fought for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency and repeatedly called for poor friendly services like free bank accounts and an end to payday loan and check cashing services.

- They behaved as dems when it came to immigration: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-immigration-fury-one-of-many.html

- So all the black people supporting Hillary are... foools? Republicans?

I could go on and on. You do not build cred by saying ridiculous things.

David Brin said...

Deuxglass your Monopoly reforms would make the game more realistic but it would still be based on zero-sum rent-seeking and not the creation of wealth that is generated in our economy by innovation and creating new goods and services.

A Viking, I believe the homestead exemption should be given also to Churches on a per parishioner basis… above which churches should be taxed like any business. The baseline exemption is enough to guarantee separation of church and state.

Locum: "The futility of individual effort" (aka 'Let somebody else do it’)”

Um… do you ever get tired of suckling koolaid nostrums concocted by Heritage-AEI-Cato shills at the behest of plantation lords? That crap bears no relationship even to the attitudes of actual LEFTISTS. And even less so to liberals. All it shows is that you are an incantation chanting fool.

LH: National socialism Nazism had a socialist wing - the SA - that was killed off on the Night of the Long Knives. But even after that, the dominant SS wing kept many socialist positions. Nazi labor unions had real power and appointed members to all corporate boards. Watch TRIUMPH OF THE WILL and see how the labor aspect was emphasized. Yes, they were nasty, racist “labor unions” controlled utterly by Himmler etc. But there was lip service.



donzelion said...

Robert - I fully expect a Clinton Presidency to ignore labor rights, ignore civil rights, and do everything in its power to benefit the oligarchy.

Then you should join the Clinton Presidency and serve in the administration and raise your voice to champion labor rights, civil rights, and the non-oligarchs. Participation extends beyond voting. Or join and vote Libertarian, but still contribute to the causes you believe in as you can. The error is to believe that any politician acts in a vacuum - as a champion who says and does whatever s/he claims to be doing, rather than in response to pressure from all sides.

Clinton has vacillated on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, largely bowing to labor pressure (and deviating from Bill's preferences). That, plus the minimum wage hike she advocates (which many libertarians would frown at), has resulted in labor unions declining to endorse either her or Sanders - to them, both are viable. This does not make her a corporate stooge.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Larry, I would prefer Clinton to any of the Republican candidates.


Ok, that's good to know.


But Sanders would be far preferable to Clinton.


I agree that Sanders would be a preferable president. I'm thinking that Hillary makes a better candidate. And because of the Supreme Court in particular, I'm more concerned with a Democratic victory than in who the Democrat is. That hasn't always been the case, but it is at this moment in history.


And Sanders would select Supreme Court Justices who would be for civil liberties and cut back on police ignoring our Constitutional Rights.


If he's president, yes.


Yes, I know Clinton would be another checkmark in the great Democratic Bingo Box "We had the first Black President and now we have the first Woman President, aren't we so inclusive and awesome?" - but you know something?


I don't know if you're aiming that at me, or at progressives in general. Me personally, that's hardly neither is a major consideration. When I heard Senator Obama speak at the 2004 convention, I thought "That's someone we need as president!" Electing a black man to that office seemed impossible, but I was glad we as a country overcame that obstacle. Not because I wanted a black president, but because I wanted that guy, and in order to get that guy, we had to elect a black president.


I want quality. I want a President I can believe in.


I don't entirely disagree, but you're focusing too much on the presidency (illusion of power) an not enough on the other two branches of government. The Supreme Court can deliver more of what you are asking for/demanding than any president can. FDR couldn't even be FDR until the Supreme Court stopped obstructing him.


I don't believe in Clinton.

I could snark that "She believes in you, though."

Instead, I'll give you the same response I gave some girls in college who claimed not to believe in Valentine's Day. "I have it on good authority that she (Clinton) does, in fact, exist."

Robert said...

You have long supported Hillary, Dr. Brin. But there are signs she's a neocon in Democratic clothing. And I don't want to see Hillary squander everything Obama has done with Iran. Sanders wouldn't. Sanders wants to avoid unnecessary military actions... including actions taken by Obama (such as intensified drone warfare) that are just doing more and more to push victims into the arms of groups like ISIS and al-Qaida.

Her tax policies are very Republican as well. Sanders has called her out on that. And her starting from the Center to "meet the Republicans half-way" does nothing when Republicans stay at their side, and force her further to the right and give away more to the rich.

If you look at her voting record, she has voted for multiple things that Republicans are all for, supporting Bush in his policies... rather than making a name for herself as a rising star for Democrats to resist Republican policies. She will do whatever she needs to so she gets elected... and then bow to her corporate interests.

And you will say "at least she's not Cruz or Rubio" rather than admit you were hoodwinked.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...


Hi Robert
This is not a neocon tax plan
http://www.vox.com/2016/3/3/11156024/hillary-clinton-tax-plan

A net increase in tax - all from the top 1%

Does she go as far as I would? - No but most of this forum would not go as far as I would!

On the other side Hillary is "tainted" - I don't think she is actually guilty of anything but decades of smoke has convinced a lot of people that there must be some fire

I continue to be amazed by the fact that a country of 300Million cannot find better candidates
The Dems have a hard working woman who is unfortunately "tainted" and a white man who is 20 years past his prime

The GOP
Has a clown show - none of which appear to have the ability to to control themselves never-mind a country

Jumper said...

Clinton strikes me as able to learn from mistakes, unlike a big majority of the Republican clowns. The NC governor, McCrory, as a counterexample, is far more qualified than any of the Rep. candidates except possibly Kasich. I'd still vote for Clinton, of course.

donzelion said...

@Robert - Robert Parry, who wrote the 'neocon-lite' article you cite, never directly accused her of being a neocon. Closest he comes in that article is this: Clinton could be expected to favor a more neoconservative approach to the Mideast, one more in line with the traditional thinking of Official Washington and the belligerent dictates of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The editors went beyond his writing, but even then, the mere fact that Hillary Clinton endorsed views that were also endorsed by neocons on several occasions does not a neocon make.

(1) Backing the Iraq War is not a 'neocon' position. Most of Congress backed the invasion, and most of Congress was never 'neocon.' They trusted GWB, or Colin Powell, and they distrusted Saddam - a brute whom liberal/progressives had disdained since the 1980s for his use of chemical weapons. A true neocon would opt to (a) eliminate Saddam, then (b) move on to other targets, then (c) repeat until evildoers are gone (eyes on Iran). That is why Iraq followed in 2003, even though Afghanistan wasn't finished and OBL wasn't dead. Neocons saw Afghanistan and OBL as mostly irrelevant, so long as their ability to project power abroad was broken.

(2) Backing Israel is not a 'neocon' position either. Progressives (esp. Brandeis) backed Israel before the state even existed. There are lots of reasons a Senator from New York would demur, rather than criticize Israel, but it's quite a stretch to interpret silence as support for a neocon agenda.

(3) Robert Gates was no neocon. Conservative, sure, but he was an anti-Rumsfeld operator, perceiving the DoD very differently from Rumsfeld. The "surge" - which Parry interprets as salvaging neocon honor, violated neocon principles - our troops must not be squandered escorting children to school, but must be deployed to eliminate bad governments. Counterinsurgency, to a neocon, is a waste of time - bringing down Iran was more important.

(4) Backing the ouster of Gaddafi is not "neocon." It follows a line of similar reasoning, illustrated in part by Bill Clinton's efforts to topple Milosevic.

(5) Backing global sanctions against Iran is definitely not "neocon." A neocon repudiates any 'international' UN-orchestrated movement - they impede the "good countries" (like the USA) by forcing cooperation with less reliable actors (Russia, China), and lazy actors (Europe). Clinton strove to form those international blocs and deploy them against Iran, where a neocon would call to immediately "bomb Iran" (and probably invade as well, if politically tenable).

So, if you want to view Hillary as a neocon, you'll need some better argument that what is offered by that article.

As for the taint - well, if you believe FoxNews, then she is tainted. But if you believe FoxNews, then I am concerned for you.

Deuxglass said...

LarryHart,

I would expect that the game would teach the dangers of using debt in the wrong way and to drive home to the students that bad luck and a wrong decision or two could put you in poverty that you can't escape. Hopefully that would stimulate in them a social conscience and not to despise the poor. When I was young they would say "There but for the Grace of God, go I". I don't hear that anymore. Now it's "get what you can".

Dr. Brin,

I have been trying to find a way to make it a non-zero game but that is much harder than I had originally thought. Give me some time and I will find a way.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi donzelion

The problem with the "taint" is not that it is unjustified or even that most people don't believe in it
The problem is that some - a large number - of people DO believe that Clinton is somehow guilty of something

A politician who was focused on the good of her party and of the Nation would under those circumstances have relinquished her position in favor of a well trained successor

A.F. Rey said...

The problem with the "taint" is not that it is unjustified or even that most people don't believe in it
The problem is that some - a large number - of people DO believe that Clinton is somehow guilty of something

A politician who was focused on the good of her party and of the Nation would under those circumstances have relinquished her position in favor of a well trained successor.


In a way, she did (although not by her choosing). Back in 2004, rather than electing Hillary, we elected Barack.

Of course, we've seen how that turned out as far as being "untainted." (Not a natural citizen, born in Kenya, Mulsim, Anti-Christ, etc., etc.) When there is nothing even hinting of scandal, the Republicans will create one.

The Democratic candidate will be "guilty" of something in the eyes of a large group of people, regardless of who he or she is, because they will be told so.

Anonymous Viking said...

Hypothesis:

Since both the right and the left are moaning about the possible repercussions if Trump wins in November, he is not of the Oligarchy.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

I continue to be amazed by the fact that a country of 300Million cannot find better candidates


That's because we don't choose candidates. They choose to run.

Many people would like to see President Elizabeth Warren, but she's not running, so what are ya gonna do?

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

When I was young they would say "There but for the Grace of God, go I". I don't hear that anymore. Now it's "get what you can".


The prophet Kurt Vonnegut put it thusly, suggesting a better motto for our money than "E Pluribus Unum" would be "Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all."

LarryHart said...

A F Rey:

In a way, she did (although not by her choosing). Back in 200[8], rather than electing Hillary, we elected Barack.


And back then, I was afraid Hillary could lose to a Republican, and that's one reason I was glad Obama ascended instead. Eight years later, I feel almost the opposite--Hillary is the one I trust could beat any Republican.


Of course, we've seen how that turned out as far as being "untainted." (Not a natural citizen, born in Kenya, Mulsim, Anti-Christ, etc., etc.) When there is nothing even hinting of scandal, the Republicans will create one.


Exactly. The "taint" doesn't come from the candidate. It comes from her opponents. You don't escape it by switching candidates.

The Democratic candidate will be "guilty" of something in the eyes of a large group of people, regardless of who he or she is, because they will be told so.


He or she will also, strangely enough, turn out to have (as a bad thing) "the most liberal voting record in the Senate!" You know, the way Kerry did. And then Hillary. Oh, wait, no, Obama actually.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous Viking:

Since both the right and the left are moaning about the possible repercussions if Trump wins in November, he is not of the Oligarchy


Or they're not of the Oligarchy.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: I love how we can make use of bond offerings as a prediction method for the worthiness of the debt and sometimes even the trustworthiness of the debtor. When an absolute monarch is charged a lot of interest by creditors who know full well the monarch could impose arbitrary rules to arrange for payments, it says a lot. 8)

Yes… There are quite a few of us working on removing our active duty people from danger. It’s enough that they offer to take the risk for us. We are so exceedingly rich that we should try to avoid spending them and spend dollars instead. 8)

Regarding design, there is a subtle difference I’m trying to make. I don’t mind it when people try to design solutions, but I do when they want to impose their solutions on others who are trying to design solutions. It’s not the design attempt that is risky. It is the elimination of the other guy’s design attempt that is. If one person voluntarily abandons their attempt in favor of another, that’s to be expected. If they HAVE to abandon it when they think theirs would be better than the other, we’ve harmed the community. We’ve prevented an individual from acting on what might be good local knowledge. The value we gain from protecting each other’s liberty IS the likely use of local knowledge. Obviously there are limits we must impose to deal with ‘rascals’, but they must not be too punishing. We need them.

As for irrational agents, there is a crucial point many miss. In economic terms, we think of rational players as those who optimize relative to the virtue of prudence. That’s not the only virtue that matters to us, though. When one of our parents gets old enough to be beyond medical help, we don’t optimize their medical care relative to prudence. Our health care insurers do, but we aren’t so inclined. Does that mean a person who objects to a market for kidneys is irrational? Surely I should be able to buy one for my mother. I’m an American and relatively rich compared to billions of people. It won’t happen, though. Other virtues come into play.

Regarding accreditation systems, I have a strong preference for rules that prevent certain kinds of behaviors. I’m often opposed to rules that require certain other behaviors. Constraints against immoral actions are supported by the law as it emerges from community consensus. We see a thing we don’t like and act against those who did it. When we require certain actions, we risk ritualizing a system and eliminating options for rascals. Rituals might lead to success for many, but they might also become stale. They must face competition to be tested for relevance. See how these fit with your examples? Segregation can be constrained, but affirmative action programs are ritualization risks. Expelling failing students can be constrained, but aren’t standardized tests a ritualization risk? Maybe? How would we know unless those tests face competition?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry

"That's because we don't choose candidates. They choose to run."

What does that say for a system when out of 300 million only only clowns and Hillary and Bernie are running?

To Dr Brin's competitive arena's - that seems like a near total failure

How could it be fixed?

We (NZ) seem to be a bit better off but we still have a limited and dubious choice for our MP's

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Clinton is no neocon, but she isn’t the leftist she might have been in ’92… or the leftist some of us thought she was then. I suspect she groks the role of the Secretary of State and would not screw the pooch wrt Iran.

California had an early primary in ’08. It was the first time I got to vote in a primary and say what I wanted to say regarding real options. I was a registered Democrat back then and I voted for her. I don’t think it will matter this time whether I do or not, though. California votes late in the primary season and in the general there is little doubt the Dem will take the state. I didn’t vote for her in ’08 because I disliked Obama, though. I voted for her because I think she is smart. I suspect she is smarter than her husband. Yah… I know people will point at all sorts of things she’s done and argue she isn’t smart, but I’ll point out she is still alive politically… and not in jail. No simple task considering her history.

As for indictment risks, pshaw! The GOP was the first to have a candidate running for President with an active indictment in the modern era.

As for VP’s, I’m thinking someone should pick Romney. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: It says something very simple. Very few of us want the job. Those who do should be looked at askance... initially.

Seriously. I can't imagine why I would want the job. I've no doubt it would kill me with the stress.

David Brin said...

I never said our competitive arenas were healthy. ALL of them are suffering from assaults by would-be cheaters. As to be expected under human nature.

onward

onward

Jon S. said...

"I don't believe in Clinton."

But I've seen her!