Thursday, August 04, 2016

Poking both right and left in the eye

This time I will aim jabs in both directions! Because even you… yes you… indulge in some pretty simplistic stuff. This is Contrary Brin... and hence, though I think one 'side' is a lot more-wrong than the other, I despise the notions of oversimplifying 'sides.'

First though… is this the start of my prediction coming true, about a Donald Trump veer to the center?  Trump proposes to double Clinton's spending on infrastructure.  Yes, all he's done is take a popular Democratic platform goal and multiply it by two, in order to seem even more populist.  But that's exactly what I originally forecast, back when I thought that DT was a disciplined and brilliant conniving manipulator, instead of just a gut-reflexive one.

It could still happen.  The huge silver lining to a Trump candidacy would be if - at the debates - he announced "of course I now understand that climate change is real and that Supply Side 'economics' is not."  If he did that... and his torching of the GOP forced American conservatives to re-evaluate the confederate madness inflicted by Rupert Murdoch... then there could be real benefits.  But no... he is way too impulsive and ill-disciplined.  Which brings up the opposite extreme possibility --

Might Donald Trump duck out of the Presidential Debates, as he did several times during the Primaries? His whining about “rigged against me” this-or-that have become routine.  But this analyst tells the history of presidential debates and how they might vanish. 

The wild card? If Libertarian Gary Johnson achieves 15% in polls, he can get onstage with HC and DT.  And yes, the first order effect of helping give twenty million fiscal conservatives who don't care about bathrooms a home away from the mad GOP-confederacy sounds alluring. But DP strategists know there'd be a downside.  Especially if Green Party's Jill Stein wrangle a slot... or whines from the sidelines.

America’s favorite capitalist – the Oracle of Omaha – Warren Buffett, whose investment brilliance and down home modesty has won him hero status, once boggled the world by making his principal heir… Bill Gates!  In the sense that the unassuming Buffett needs no fancy charitable institution named after him.  So he picked the best-run one he could find (sorry Clintons) and will leave most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation. A rarity, he is admired across all walks of life and from moderate left through moderate right. 

The far left won’t favor a capitalist under any conditions, even when the true enemy of flat-open-fair capitalism is, in fact, feudalism. As for the far right, they know very well how Buffett despises oligarchy and Supply Side Voodoo so-called “economics.”  Now see Buffett campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Nebraska and demanding that Donald Trump release his tax records.  You want a businessman?  I got your businessman, right here.

== Why no hearings about any of this? ==

President Obama just ordered release of the infamous “28 pages” from the 9/11 report, that GW Bush declared secret, pages showing that the hijackers "were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government." No real surprise there, as this Salon report shows: “Saudi Arabia has been a major source of financing to rebel and terrorist organizations since the 1970s,” the European Parliament wrote in a 2013 report, adding, “countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait do too little to stop rich and conservative donors from financing terrorists through charitable and religious institutions.”

There’s lots more, but again the question rises: why did the FBI not question - way back in 2001 - the scores of royals and Saudi government officials and radical Salafist-Wahabbi activists who were in the U.S. at the time of the 9/11 attacks, many of whom were shown to have known or even given money to 9/11 attackers? To what extent did GW Bush run interference so they could leave the country, without questioning?  Above all… why were no Benghazi-style hearings held about that? Or the billions in raw cash that Dick Cheney sent to Baghdad, that promptly and simply disappeared?

(Could be one of two dozen reasons that the Republican Party Convention in Cleveland never even mentioned the names of their previous two presidents? Something never before seen.)

But that was just the beginning of a horrendous series of treasons that included lying about “weapons of mass destruction” in order to send America into quagmire wars costing trillions of dollars and thousands of US lives. (Oh, and about a million non-American lives.) Wars whose only clear beneficiaries were Iran, the Saudis and Cheney family companies

Just remember that the GOP in Congress never raised a single question about any of that, next time you hear “emails” or “Benghazi.”  Stunning hypocrites.

Oh but now I will shock by aiming a poke at a shibboleth of the left.

== Proving we’re not monolithic… I dissent on trade! ==

Sorry, but I do not like party catechisms and litmus tests. And even though well over half of the lunacy in current American life comes from a raving, anti-science and anti-fact confederacy… well.. there are some ‘democratic' dogmas that I deem to be premature or rash or ill-considered.  One of those is reflexive opposition to globalized world trade.

Take the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and NAFTA. These are deemed top enemies by populists of both left and right – one of the few areas in which their rhetorics overlap. But what I've seen makes me lean toward support for TPP.

For one thing, it welds the nations of SE and East Asia together with the U.S. in ways that help to maintain the one best thing that ever happened to the world, the American Pax or unprecedented world peace, that all of you shrug and simply take for granted, but that – compared to 6000 years of grueling-awful history, is a damned miracle. 

Globalized trade is directly responsible for the fact that ¾ of today’s children come home with schoolbooks each day to dwellings that have light and toilets and refrigerators. The stunning failure of globalization opponents to take that into account could qualify as inadvertent or cryptic racism.

Have some of the world’s elites also benefited, disproportionately, from globalization?  Damn straight, and I am on record for wanting and demanding actions to correct that imbalance that has flowed into the gaping maws of cheaters.  Look up the “Helvetian War.”  But that aspect can be solved via rigorous, militant and aggressive transparency - by vigorous politics demanding re-negotiation - without needing to choke off the one thing that uplifted billions around the world, more than all the foreign aid and charity combined.

TPP also sets new rules on labor and ecology that the signatory nations must obey and that brings them all much closer to responsible standards. Sure… folks in enlightened countries like New Zealand complain that their environmental rules may be weakened under TPP!  And am I worried about that?  Hell yes! See below where I talk about RENEGOTIATION. Still, just getting Vietnam and Laos etc aboard with basic enforcement of bans on child labor and pollution will be wonderful.

More TPP benefits. It protects intellectual property better. And don’t for a minute shrug that off. American inventiveness is the goose that has laid the world’s golden eggs for 70 years.  It is time to save the goose from short-sighted fools who would destroy the engine that uplifted the world. 

Above all, it sets a new plateau that China knows will become the standard and if they don't start living by these rules, they will not be invited to the party.

Now a concession!  Folks have good reason to be angry at the secrecy under which TPP was negotiated.  In fairness, it was a complex deal and early press could have messed up everything.  But indeed, I am pissed too.  Details should have been leaked long ago so that western political protests could have been added, coercing even higher labor and environmental and equal-trade standards.

Here’s the deal though… it’s probably not too late for that.  Clinton, in particular, is now behooved to shelve the TPP, as it stands and demand a renegotiation, compelled by the US voters.

== But there’s an even deeper reason ==

What bugs me most of all is the subliminal racism and stunning lack of ability to see long term self-interest on the part of those who have decried – for example – the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Those who denouce NAFTA for losing some American jobs are fools who miss a key point.  It was and remains stunningly, staggeringly, spectacularly in our interest for Mexico to become a prosperous, middle class country.  And NAFTA is the biggest thing doing that, as we speak. Rapidly, right now. 

When that happens it will be easier for a prosperous, continental North America to defend a border with - say Guatemala - than for the U.S. to build some infantile-stupid giant wall against a poverty-stricken Mexico.

The latter is the gopper fixation now... and it is obsolete!  Immigration from Mexico is now NEGATIVE! Mexico is on the rise and we helped do that and they know it.  We are helping make another Canada, next door, and boy will that be a happier soft landing than any alternative.

Failure to recognize that aspect of NAFTA is a stupidity shared across the spectrum, from right to left.  Already Mexico is importing vastly more from the U.S. than it did before, and that will rise as this investment pays off.

Were there corruptly derived components to NAFTA or TPP?  I am sure. And I would address those with fierce measures to strip elites of all secrecy.  But the self-righteously indignant hate of trade treaty opponents, who did not try reading or parsing or rank-ordering good and bad portions, meant that they could not use their ire to force negotiations that might retain the good and reduce the bad.

In fact, that possibility… “let’s see if we can get the good stuff and eliminate the bad”… never occurs to dogmatists.  Of the sort that infest a wing of one of the U.S. parties… and that comprise the sum total of nearly all members of the other party, nowadays.

Canceling TPP entirely will not help the child laborers that it would ban and send to school, nor the improved environmental codes Vietnam and Malaysia would have to obey, nor the inspectors for health and safety in factories, nor the auditors requiring payment of royalties for stolen American inventions. It won't make Japan open up its markets to nearly all our farm exports, which TPP demands. It WILL embolden China and cause new allies to scurry away from us.

The fact that all of this will come as a surprise to most TPP opponents is just sad. There was something worth improving.  Your opposition could have been the stick in a carrot-and-stick campaign to improve it.

Instead, knowing nothing but reflex, you killed a potential egg-laying goose.
== And finally… ==

“A man with a conviction is a hard man to change.” So opens Leon Festinger’s account of doomsday cults and conspiracy believers in When Prophecy Fails. “Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” Festinger coined the term “Cognitive dissonance” - for when reality clashes with our deepest convictions. We’d rather recalibrate reality than amend our worldview.

To be clear, this applies to all dogmatists - or humans. Possibly even you. Indeed, I admit that I must struggle to read, rather than contemptuously skim, when presented with facts  that might force some adjustment.

Read this article. Scientists are trained to say: “I might be wrong” and to allow contradictory evidence to sway them. And still, it is not the mantra but the fiercely competitive quality of science that keeps it moving forward against obstinate human nature.  Alas, many other fields - especially politics - have no such feedback loops.  Indeed, I knew we were in for delusional times, when Congress banished  from Capitol Hill all the geeks and fact checkers of the Office of Technology Assessment. The criminal traitors who performed that raving-dogmatic act should not be qualified to be dog catcher.

Oh… this  article is also truly informative about the Mt Pelerin conference of 1947, in Switzerland, where neo-liberal (or ultra free market) conservative economics got its momentum to take over the world. Which sounds a lot like the “trillies conference” in EXISTENCE, portrayed happening exactly a century later, very nearby the same locale.


Anonymous said...

NAFTA was certainly a success, TPP has some problems - chiefly in entrenching Intellectual Monopolies that are already too strict.

Agreed about defending borders - much easier to defend Mexico's SOUTHERN border - or better yet, Guatemala's SOUTHERN border - than the U.S.-Mexico border. If we are going to build a wall, it would make a lot more sense to build it there.

Lawrence said...

“let’s see if we can get the good stuff and eliminate the bad” What evidence could non wealthy Americans use to believe that either party would agree to this? Don't the wealthy have a well documented history of taking all the growth for the last forty years? Did the Democrats do anything to stop them? Didn't 'New Democrat' mean 'Screw labor. They got nowhere else to go.' from Bill Clinton until the rise of Elizabeth Warren? The left should keep demanding not one more dime to capital until labor is made whole. I've had this argument, particularly about the ISDS courts, with Yasterblansky over at his blog, and he changed my mind a bit. I agree we should renegotiate TPP in the open. And NAFTA's effects on Mexico weren't completely benign. But you are correct in your general case for them.

country mouse said...

My objection to TPP comes from the various summaries I've read stating that TPP gives corporations too much power over environmental, labor, and intellectual property law. A trade agreement should encourage a race to the top, not to the bottom.

Hendrik Boom said...

I don't want corporations to be to overrule governments. We need to achieve some measure of control over multinationals by representatives of the people. The investor protection rules in the TPP constitute a huge step in the wrong direction.

Hendrik Boom said...

I don't want corporations to be to overrule governments. We need to achieve some measure of control over multinationals by representatives of the people. The investor protection rules in the TPP constitute a huge step in the wrong direction.

David Brin said...

Lawrence, just because you live in a decade when the great middle class society built by the Greatest Generation and FDR is under attack… by all means ignore the fact THAT the Greatest Generation and FDR accomplished what they did! None of the rest of your rant is accurate… though your hatred of the current oligarchic putsch is shared by anyone with any sense… including billionaires like Gates and Buffett etc, who want the middle class society to be healthy.

Tony Fisk said...

Trump is a shambling disaster. It is a damning testimony on the GOP that they couldn't field a candidate able to take a large broom to such a piece of junk.

It's not good for the democratic process that there's no sane choice (Hilary has a few questions hanging over her, but the alternative is unthinkable. Yes, I am aware of the irony of *that* statement!). Knowing that there's no sane choice, it's not comforting to know that the Brexit vote went through recently.

Renegotiation of elements of the TPP and its brethren would be a good move. I daresay there are things that are worth encouraging.
...except the agreement has been presented as a monolithic slab of take it or leave it, with even Government Parliamentarians given limited opportunity to review. Sir Humphrey would have been proud! The secrecy with which the TPP was constructed only serves to heighten suspicion of leaked elements. Things like the emasculation of sovereignty, so corporations can sue countries if the law is inconvenient to business. True, Australia's plain packaging laws for cigarettes was explicitly removed from consideration. But what of other things, like coal mining?

The whole thing seems slanted toward the establishment of a global corpocracy.

Abbott's Government showed where its allegiances lay with its first budget. In mid 2015, *they* were seeking to 'sign the TPP off ASAP'.

With little information, and the eagerness of awful people, I think it small wonder that the popular reaction to the TPP has been reflexive, and negative.

David Brin said...

With one small quibble, Tony... that Clinton's negatives are largely based upon assertions and incantations. Almost nothing that has ever actually happened.

LarryHart said...

I'm not going to re-litigate TPP here, but I find it distressingly ironic that Donald Trump gets to run against TPP. Yes, President Obama was for it, but congressional Democrats were not. The only reason the president got the fast-track authority he wanted was because the congressional Republicans gave it to him.

So if people on the Trump bandwagon because of opposition to TPP also vote such that the Republicans hold the Senate, they may get what they wanted and still not be very happy.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Clinton's negatives are largely based upon assertions and incantations. Almost nothing that has ever actually happened.

People inside the FOX bubble seem to sincerely believe that Hillary would implement socialism. They also believe that President Obama already has implemented socialism, encouraged blacks to kill policemen, and aided terrorists, despite all reality.

Jumper said...

Our patent and IP laws are travesties. I would discourage any treaty that tends to lock them in place.

Is it possible to declare war on a multinational?

Lawrence said...

"None of the rest of your rant is accurate"
Flooding Mexico with US subsidized cheap corn was good for Mexican farmers, to name one? I'm not ignoring what the FDR Democrats built. I'm not talking about them. And the assault is not a decade. More like four. Arguably since deregulation started in the Carter administration. And you might ask me to believe Bill Clinton didn't take pleasure in putting the screws to the Democratic base with his signature accomplishments. You might tell me he was forced into it, which he was. And that I'm wrong to believe that it was worse than it had to be because he was currying favor with the wealthy that were to be the new base for the New Democrats. But I find Thomas Frank's assessment of that more convincing. Also, Bill Gates seems like a nice guy. So, if he takes your calls ask him why he is backing a movement designed to destroy the teachers' unions and divert public education funding into for profit junk schools.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: By the end of your comment about McCloskey, I think you have things backwards as to how people would react to her. That’s okay, though, since you admit you haven’t read her and I doubt you’ll find the time. The books are large. She is working on a single, smallish book that should work better as a popularization, but we will see. It might be rejected by fans of Piketty without being read. She isn’t into monocausal explanations, though. Eliminate the probable and you are left with the improbable, right?

The second book has a chapter on social institutions and her argument against them being the cause of our enrichment boils down to two issues. The first is that many of the institutions offered by others existed before the enrichment and in other civilizations, thus why not in Rome or China or Renaissance Italy? The second is institutions tend to increase economic efficiency. While that is a desirable thing to have, it isn’t enough to cause the average person to be 100x better off (real income denominated in terms of the basket of necessities) today than they were in 1700. Institutions are good to have when they do Good, but they don’t explain the innovation orgy.

Her focus on ideas comes from her historical approach to the problem. She was trained as an economist, thus trained to think in terms of utility-like theories. Her peers assume the enrichment can be explained through material causes and only after many decades of failing to do so have they stepped back and considered institutions. She argues now that they have to step back another layer to understand the history. By and large, they don’t want to do that because they lose their quantitative measures they use to ‘know’ what happened. She argues they have no real choice and must resort to literature and art and what people say to figure out what they were thinking. It’s a tricky thing to do when people might lie or suffer delusion. In the realm of ideas, though, quantitative data just isn’t there. The effort must be made. She doesn’t make this case for science fiction in her books, but David makes it for her with his complaints about idiot plots and the way he approaches speculation in his fiction. Read EXISTENCE and you can see what he considers to be realistic relationships between mostly free people. His bad guys among the aristocrats are plausible believers of an older, feudal rhetoric. Consider the implied sociology underpinning David’s novel and you get the kind of evidence McCloskey tries to extract from historical plays and early novels. Did Shakespeare dignify the bourgeoisie? Nope. Did anyone from his time? Not really. How about a century later? Yup. Some were.

As for population counts, it is important to remember that the innovation orgy started small in Northwestern Europe among the Dutch and then spread to the English. Even among them, few were actual innovators. Even worse, through the vast majority of our history, innovators were treated as dangerous with few exceptions. A new idea could threaten entrenched power. It’s not that there weren’t enough people way back when. It wasn’t that there weren’t enough smart people either. They considered change to be dangerous and with good reason. Threaten the Prince or the Priest and you could wind up dead. To make matters even worse, when through our long history did innovation ever really matter? We know today that it does, but hop in a time machine and go back about five centuries and the locals you meet EVERYWHERE will see it NEVER matters for the average person. The poor exist, have always existed, and always will. There is nothing a mortal can do about it. Anyone who approaches life that way isn’t even going to try.

So… the most amazing question ever to ask is why did anyone try? Corollary questions emerge quickly. Did they mean to try? Did they know where there efforts might lead? Why were they allowed by the Prince and the Priest? Fun reading material, but it will interfere with your teaching duties. Maybe you could tell them you were learning some English history, though. 8)

Paul SB said...


The time constraints will keep me away, but it sounds like fascinating reading (reading that will hopefully live long and prosper). The point you make about quantitative vs. qualitative data is dear to the hearts of any ethnographer, and demonstrates the difference between actual science and naive scientism. The laser focus of so much 20th C. science on quantitative data while denigrating qualitative, part and parcel with elevating deductive over inductive reasoning, even though the first half of the scientific method is inductive only shows how easily meaning systems can corrupt even our best and brightest.

That said, I suspect that both structure and infrastructure had to be at least somewhat conducive to allow innovations to stick and reach a level where they would have broad impact, but since I haven't read the author, I'll just have to put that one on my ever-lengthening list and shut my yap for now. Your discussion has been enough to put it on the top shelf. Thanks!

Alfred Differ said...

Globalized trade is directly responsible for the fact that ¾ of today’s children come home with schoolbooks each day to dwellings that have light and toilets and refrigerators. The stunning failure of globalization opponents to take that into account could qualify as inadvertent or cryptic racism.

Your heart is in the right place, but the numbers won’t support your argument. We certainly are handing over US wealth in service to this foreign policy, but not enough to add up to what is actually happening. What we are really exporting is far more stunning and still supports your argument for TPP, but from a different angle. We won the Cold War in a way that convinced far more than the Soviets to give up. The competing rhetoric of socialism got kicked aside by peasants who have been moving to join the bourgeoisie. The West showed the value of doing this well enough even before the end of the war to convince many to move. What they moved toward was something that dignifies them in their commercial life and frees them to act upon what they know. In markets that test what they know, they are getting rich even without global trade. In fact, too much emphasis on exports and imports can get in the way.

Global trade in material stuff is icing on the cake. Global sharing of ideas is helping former peasants skip the dozen generations it took our ancestors to produce us. As long as the TPP promotes more sharing (which tends to happen in large markets), THAT is what will bind us together. No one in their right mind will want to kill that golden goose.

The thing about numbers and global trade is to recall that the Indian Ocean was a trading lake before the Chinese turned inward centuries ago. That trade made some people rich, but did not lift the average person out of poverty. Trade can’t really do that. Innovation can and that is what we’ve been exporting that actually matters.

Nguyễn Ly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: Structure and infrastructure had to be conducive. No doubt about that. She argues, though, that it often is throughout history. What was missing was superstructure. What we had was a rhetoric that pissed upon the merchants by treating them all as cheats and it even makes a kind of sense. If we start with a zero-sum assumption about the world, then a merchant who buys something cheap in one place and sells it for more in another is screwing someone by definition. From a virtue perspective, their prudence comes at the expense of love for someone else. Where is the charity in that? If the world really is zero-sum, then there was nothing to be done about the poor except the exploitation they suffered at the hands of princes and priests. The assumption turned out to be wrong, though. Amazing.

The first time I understood her argument for using qualitative data from authors (shudder), I almost set aside her book. She used ‘science’ in a way that made it sound like scientism, but kept pointing out she wasn’t trying to pretend she was doing anything close to what Popper would have demanded with his demarcation line. She was using ‘science’ in a loose fashion, but not in an ambiguous fashion. In the end, I decided to accept her expanded definition in the same sense we call coffee drinks ‘coffee’ even though they aren’t beans. Those drinks are just coffee bean flavored water, right?

So I’m coming to a new appreciation for our need to read the science fiction we so love and look beyond the first layer plot to examine the society underpinning it. Can we do that and benefit from it without falling into the pit of scientism? Heh. Orwell’s 1984 proves we can and David likes to play in the same arena. 8)

David Burns said...

What about the secrecy of the TPP process? I suspect that in itself was a large factor in its unpopularity. If it's so great, why were they so afraid to let people see what's in it? Maybe it's just colossally bad psychology.

Alfred Differ said...

Secrecy was employed so the people involved could talk to each other without being entangled in a political process back home.

Secrecy doesn't bother me IF the negotiators negotiate in good faith. We can always reject the treaty, right?

Read it and advocate.

LarryHart said...

I said:

People inside the FOX bubble seem to sincerely believe that Hillary would implement socialism. They also believe that President Obama already has implemented socialism, encouraged blacks to kill policemen, and aided terrorists, despite all reality.

And sure enough, I just saw a tv interview with Ohio governor John Kasich, who is not endorsing Trump, but who insists we have to keep the Senate in Republican control because "If Hillary is elected, it will just be more government." Also, Marco Rubio (remember him?), who does endorse Trump says that Trump will at least appoint "constitutionalist judges", by which he might be taken to mean judges who understand the phrase "whole number of persons", but probably does not.

David Brin said...

Among the majority of Republicans who support Trump, this trillion dollar infrastructure spending plan has provoked not a whimper of complaint. Thus proving that the GOP's absolute refusal to pass Obama's FAR smaller infrastructure Bill was hypocrisy to the nth power.

David Brin said...

Sorry, here's the link:

Only it gets spectacular, as Republicans also favored stimulus during the crisis during GW Bush's last year. They only veered to hating stimulus when Obama was the one asking for it.

David Brin said...

Jumper and you'd replace IP law with... what? Ponder historical perspective. How did people benefit from their creativity in times past? By keeping their innovations secret! Oh that worked great. Tech advancement happened at the pace of a glacier and most good things, Baghdad batteries, Damascus Steel, Antekithera computers, all were lost.

Should big corps be stopped from using IP AGAINST innovation? Sure. Oligarchs try that shit. Reform and stop it. But let's see your plan.

David Brin said...

Alfred. Globalized trade and the allure of a bourgeoise life are only part of it. The biggest part is the Great Peace engendered under the protection of Pax Americana, under which only a few nations have had to spend the traditional 30% of so of national budgets on armies and defense. The rest have mostly got away with minuscule amounts (compared to history) Very few other factors were as important in development.

Jim Satterfield said...

My first problem with the TPP and things like it is that not only does it encourage job loss in the United States but also suppression of wages of remaining jobs. My second one is that I truly doubt that the labor and environmental rules in it will ever be actually implemented in Asia. I expect massive cheating and not enough money and effort put forth for enforcement.

Look at what they tell us about H1-B visas are supposed to be for versus what really happens.

Shane Mallatt said...

The old saying regarding the left's penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory has been driven home by the last two presidents from the democratic party. After Bill the dems should have been securely in the drivers seat. The economy was great there was a budget surplus and a solid vice president to take over the reins. Instead Bill decides to have a very public and embarrassing bimbo eruption gifting the election(albeit with the help of the Supreme Court) to the worst president in modern history. Blame Nader if you like, but simply put no Monica scandal Gore wins easily. Then after Bush is exposed as lying us into an expensive and unpaid for war with a country that had nothing to do with 911, the dems happily join him in bailing out the wall street bankers that drove the economy into the ground. From the flaming shit pile that was those 8 years comes a decent and dignified man talking about hope and change. This excites the young and the poor to come out and vote enthusiasticly and send the first black president into office with a senate and a congress to back him up. One would have thought that real change was on its way and that the democratic party could not mess it up. Alas rather than use their momentum to raise the minimum wage, extricate ourselves from the middle east, or punish the wall street thieves the dems decide to hand the working poor and the young people that had enthusiasticly voted for them a monthly bill for insurance that would still leave them destitute if they got sick. Two years later when the elections came around the young and poor stayed home and the tea party came riding in on a grassroots movement angry at the bailouts, and the new health care plan. Giving us six years of gridlock. Of course the war machine hums along, the watered down Dodd Frank bill makes sure the too big to fail banks can resume business as usual, and if not for the dems finally growing a backbone,a free trade deal heavy with protections for multinational corporate interests would have gotten passed.
And in an election year when the best candidate the Republicans can put out there is a complete jackass the dems counter with Hillary, a candidate so disliked she might actually might lose to said jackass, and if she wins will be unable to do anything but try to avoid getting impeached for lying to congress about her emails. Oh well I suppose victory is overrated anyway.

Midboss57 said...

The big problem with getting people to agree with the TPP is that the measure has more red flags than a Chinese military parade.

- Red Flag 1: In the senate, most dems are against it while most repubs are for.
- Red Flag 2: The Arbitration Court, to be quite blunt, sounds like something out of the backstory of just about every cyberpunk story ever made. You know, that one law passed every one has that determines the exact moment where corporations officially took over the world and nations stopped having any power.
- Red Flag 3: Not only is it negotiated in secret but it seems that all parties trying to pass it are trying to do so in the "lets quickly sneak it through while people are not looking" way that has been attempted in the past to pass other lobbyist demanded, voter hated laws like those overbearing anti piracy and internet surveillance laws they keep trying to put through that have more sequels than a slasher movie franchise.
- Red Flag 4: Corporate Lobbyists were invited to participate in its writing but not unions.
- Red Flag 5: Past trade agreements have not done much of a good job of enforcing safety/environmental/worker protection rules. At best culprits get a tap on the fingers.

Even in normal times this would be a rather tough sell but these are most definitely not normal times: the western world has still not really recovered from the 2008 economic implosion. Sure the numbers on spreadsheets might look better, but the reality on ground level is that overall, (western) people are still economically worse off. I'm not talking pure quantity of jobs, I'm also speaking quality, stability.... Even more aggravating, those responsible for the economic depression have not been punished and no real measure has been made to make sure that such a thing does not happen again.
Therefore we have the dual problem of that trust in institutions to work for the people is at a very low state and that people are also not ready to make any further sacrifices, even for the so called Greater Good. Right now, people aren't even feeling generous enough to accept refugees from the ultimate Hell on Earth that is Daesh controlled territories and you expect them to make the sacrifice for this ?

If the powers that be ever want TTP (and TTIP) to ever be agreed by the populations, they are going to need to do several things:
- Prove that we can trust them not to screw up in general.
- Prove that we can trust them to put the people's needs before the elites in general.

So many before passing that, they should do a gesture of good faith to prove they are on our side... maybe like finally passing those international financial regulations they keep hinting at but never get round to actually doing. How much harder could those be than passing the TTP and TTIP ? After all, the populations will be very enthusiastic at the idea of passing those. It should be easier right ?

Jumper said...

Limit copyright to 70 years or less if not renewed. Initiate a patent court now and "un-patent" a lot of recent ones such as on vibrating phones or games, rectangular smooth corners on objects, etc., and rein in patent granting for excessively broad patents. No restriction on trademarks on screen-printed clothing (counterfeiting "authorized quality" on packaging is still forbidden).
Restrictions but not elimination of patents on DNA and general molecules. Rein in extensions.

I would like to see many drugs' patents purchased under eminent domain and set free by government and universities.

LarryHart said...

Ok, as I've been mentioning, I'm all about the "Hamilton" these days. So it was in the context of the American Revolutionary period that I took another look at the Second Amendment. To wit:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Thinking in terms of the battles of Lexington and Concord, it seems obvious that the intent of this amendment is to protect the rights of the collective free people to amass arms and to bear them when necessary to repel an invasion. This is so far from the right to bear arms against fellow citizens or against the lawful government as to almost be Orwell's "in fact, the opposite thing".

In addition, I mention once again that this amendment in no way singles out "guns" for specific, extra protection. The idea that the second amendment allows local municipalities or event organizers to ban pointed sticks, swords, rocket launchers, or hand-held tactical nuclear devices, but have no jurisdiction over guns is absurd.

Jumper said...

Some of it is over my head; granted. I understand the difference between racemic and enantiomer molecules, but can't find if a company can patent the recemic and then later bar others from marketing it (even though that patent expired) by then patenting the active enantiomer.

Jumper said...

There used to be an interpretation of the 1st amendment that no sales taxes are allowed on books or newspapers.

Andrew Taylor said...

One can support global trade for the reasons cited above -- i.e., the development and uplift of impoverished economies -- and still object to all of the "free trade agreements" passed since NAFTA inclusive.

The prime effect of NAFTA re: Mexico was that the latter eliminated their import tariffs, which in turn lowered the cost to American firms of outsourced manufacturing. This did not fundamentally alter the fact firms had commenced outsourcing long prior. The governments own data shows that, both before and NAFTA, the primary exports were metals and machine parts which came back to the US as cars, computers, etc.

It's not as though "globalized trade" is somehow disallowed in the absence of NAFTA and its progeny and in fact one wonders what the WTO, and GATT before it, were doing all this time, and of what use CISG has been since 1980, if indeed "free trade agreements" are the only means to global trade.

In case the point is trade happens anyway, with uplift benefits conferred accordingly.

The problem is that the primary objective of free-trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and TPP is that they appear (to me, and I have a read and analyzed signification portions of their provisions in the case of the first two) to be intentionally designed to externalize costs unfairly. I can understand why Mexico may benefit from factory jobs. I cannot understand why Mexican factories, even if paying lower wages, may not nonetheless have adequate protections for labor and environmental violations. Likewise, why should any country open its markets to subsidized US aggro products? That is not fair competition.

Oh sure, these agreements contain environmental and labor regulations. But if you delve into the details the grievance procedures are sometimes so labyrinthine as to be functionally useless. I am not sure if the TPP has improved this, but I have my doubts.

I share your hope, Dr. Brin, that with increased transparency and democratic oversight the bad aspects can be eliminated while preserving the good. But I do emphasize that globalized trade has been happening for centuries and is both inevitable and desirable whether these specific agreements are in place or not, and that the only real concern is that legal and contractual arrangements between signatories is as free from coercion as possible, and that it is the informed people, not the elites, who should ultimately ratify them.

LarryHart said...


There used to be an interpretation of the 1st amendment that no sales taxes are allowed on books or newspapers.

That would be consistent with the reasoning behind not taxing churches. If I recall, it was along the lines of "The power to tax is the power to destroy." Well, books, newspapers, and churches are all protected by the same amendment.

On the old "Cerebus" list, I used to argue with a Texas conservative Christian who insisted that the 1st amendment doesn't protect pornography because porn is not "speech". I always countered that porn (in magazines, anyway) is "the press", which is also protected by the same language. He would say that "offensive" press was not protected, to which I'd assert that the logical consequence is that "offensive religion" is also not protected. Point being, all of these things are protected by the exact same language, so it's weird to see arguments that speech or religion is more protected than the press.

Likewise, it's weird to see arguments that guns are more protected than any other armaments.

Paul SB said...


Where you wrote: "She used ‘science’ in a way that made it sound like scientism, but kept pointing out she wasn’t trying to pretend she was doing anything close to what Popper would have demanded with his demarcation line. She was using ‘science’ in a loose fashion, but not in an ambiguous fashion."

That brought me back to the old days of debating ontology and epistemology in graduate seminars. I think a few of my better professors would actually be happy with this, as would quite a few of my peers, who were as unhappy with the old guard scientistic orthodoxy as they were with 'young turk' postmodernist nihilism. Old Dr. Stone often talked about infrastructure setting limits within which structure and superstructure operate.

But on the nature of science, I wouldn't take Karl Popper's demarcation line too seriously. To put it simply, science is a flexible process. It has to be flexible in order to be applicable to the widest possible range of subjects. I wouldn't even equate it to coffee flavored drinks, more like there are different flavors of ice cream for different fields. Popper was trying to turn science into an alternative religion, an institution that produces Truth instead of facts and theories to explain those facts. He didn't like the idea that anything we believe could potentially be proven wrong.

"So I’m coming to a new appreciation for our need to read the science fiction we so love and look beyond the first layer plot to examine the society underpinning it. Can we do that and benefit from it without falling into the pit of scientism?"

Hey, great thinking, but the vast majority of science fiction writers wouldn't know science if it bit them, much less the nature of scientism. Certainly some people can do this well, but scientism is about giving the appearance without the containing the substance of science, and since most science fiction writers are not trained scientists (and most scientists are mostly lost on the nature of scientism, thanks in part to Popper), much less trained in any type of social science that would give them the background to make meaningful speculations beyond mere ethnocentric assumptions (this is turning into a long sentence - the ghost of Thomas Hobbes sits on one shoulder as I write) I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. of course, this is coming from a person who complains about how little time he gets to read, so for all I know the field of science fiction might have shifted in this direction and I would be clueless. It's certainly what I have always aimed for...

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

You really need to start leaving Damascus steel (wootz) off your list of innovations killed by secrecy. The science and history do not support your position.

Have a look here:
The Key Role of Impurities in Ancient Damascus Steel Blades
J.D. Verhoeven, A.H. Pendray, and W.E. Dauksch

"The smiths that produced the high-quality blades would most likely have kept the process for making these blades a closely guarded secret to be passed on only to their apprentices. The smiths would be able to teach the apprentices the second and third points listed, but point one is something they would not have known. There is no difference in physical appearance between an ingot with the proper minor elements present and one without. "

In this case, the first point alluded to is that the ingots require certain trace elements, which the science of that time and place could neither identify nor quantify (vanadium not being discovered until, at the 1830 at the earliest). The process couldn't have been open even if it tired, because the knowledge was absent.

Additionally, European chemical analysis of wootz didn't find the trace impurities necessary, and I think at the time they were more advanced in chemical analysis. And the crucible steel method used to produce wootz was well-known.


There's some well-worn thought patterns regarding what the militia is, for example:

And some interesting suppositions about what might happen to firearm ownership if 'well-regulated' was taken to mean that members of the unorganized militia were required to show up to onlthy training.

Susan Watson said...

I have no observations that would improve the quality of this discussion today, I just wanted to thank you all for engaging in it. This was thought provoking on a number of fronts and has also significantly improved my opinion of the TPP... thanks!

Anonymous said...

The greatest boomers sat on and burned through a globe-trotting majority of Texas Tea all the while every other economy worth noting had been bombed, nuked, or bombed and nuked. A pity that black gold was burnt on particle board McMansions and child killing stroads, but so the decline goes. Now, in which state of the union can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent? While you're researching that, check out the Silicon Favelas!

Now, a Trump center alignment would be interesting, given how far left he is of "Bush with Pantaloons" on various metrics, in particular trade, a traditional role the democrats abandoned as the wage class makes worried noises about jobs, or pay, or something. But who cares about the precariat! Three hips for Proposition 13 and minimum lot sizes and mandatory car sitting to keep *those people* out of the 'hood. They'd only drag down property values—I know, right?

TPP? Perforce commies must swarm from walls and light fixtures and pillowcases should Steamboat Willie ever happen to fall into the public domain, at least according to the corporations granted ever-increasing copyright terms (and a litany of other benefits). Public domain? Balance? No. Nope. The Iron Copyight Curtain fell across that a long time ago now. I do wonder how much in retirement funds the average corporate apologist is riding on in Wall Street accounts? That might well explain the support for the bad deal…

Alfred Differ said...

@David: The Great Peace is certainly a good moral argument. It is better than giving credit to global traders for lifting the poor since that traditional 30% gets spent doing something else. However, when that money gets spent elsewhere, that is still an efficiency gain. The integral of the marginal product of labor is taken further out on things more likely to be consumption items, so one might be tempted to credit non-linearity for the uplift, but the numbers don’t really work.

The enrichment underway isn’t about efficiency. It’s about blowing out the marginal product of labor curves way, way, way upward and to the right. Peace certainly helps and is a good thing to have, but the Dutch and English weren’t exactly peaceful when they were blowing out their curves in the 17th and 18th centuries. By Pinker’s research, they were rather vicious compared to us and kindly compared to their in-era neighbors. That makes peace useful, but not strictly necessary and that suggests our peace is more of an effect than a cause.

I suspect the best Peace argument you can put forward ties in with your horizons of inclusion argument. Calmer people trade across a larger horizon, but more importantly, they share ideas/innovations across a larger horizon. The non-material trades are the culprits responsible for blowing out the curves.

Carl M. said...

What is this "veer to the center" you speak of? Mr. Trump is the center -- on a typical left-right scale.

Yes, he is a crazy nasty centrist. But as you pointed out some time ago, the center can go crazy as well. (Think Hitler.)

Locally speaking he is more of a traditional Democrat than Hillary is. Trump is calling for enforcing picket lines in order to support above market wages for U.S. blue collar workers. Duh!

Replace the term "illegal" with "scab."

The Donald is running for Union Thug in Chief.

David Brin said...

MANY ANSWERS: Shane, I am glad I don't live in your world, except glancingly. The GOP controlled Congress for 20 of the last 22 years. The DP and GOP are not "left vs right" but manic vs depressive and the GOP Congress for nearly all of the 21st century strove to achieve two things only - subsidize oligarch and do nothing else... at all.

The fact that you know nothing at all about the brief, democratic congress of 2009 is kinda sad.

Midboss: you have many nicely massaged talking points and utterly ignore your duty to lay things on BOTH pans of the scale. Like the fact that most TPP partners would have to lower tariffs against US goods. Most would have to adopt vastly more accountable and open accounting practices... and ban child labor... and free labor unions... and pass stronger environmental laws.

Got complaints? Fine. Fight it out politically. And NO ONE ON THIS PLANET has been a stronger advocate of openness vs secrecy than I am.

But you and the other reflexives can only scream and shoot your legs out in reflex. You cannot negotiate or rank order your wants vs concessions you'd be willing to offer, in return. It is called adult politics and it is as alien on the far left as on the entire right.

Jumper I am fine with making IP law less about endless "ownership" of ideas and more a simple system to incentivize immediate sharing of knowledge. But there must be some incentive.

LarryHart that is why the NRA should be negotiating a new amendment, because the 2nd is stunningly weak. Terminally weak.

Jumper Larryhart says it: the power to tax is the power to destroy. So newspapers should be taxed LESS than other businesses, to be sure the state never taxes them more. The same should apply to churches. The blanket across the board tax free nature of churches is an obscenity.

David Brin said...

Good lord Carl M. You offer up some fun metaphors but really? Look at the map of Trump-land and tell me about it being pro-union. He is pandering to Michigan, Ohio and PA - knowing by now that Nothing he says will affect his support in the Confederacy.

Feh! If the dems get Congress then supply side will vanish, oligarchs (the enemies of freedom and markets most cited by Adam Smith) will be (as Smith recommended) reined in. Much (not all) money will go from politics. Science will be respected. How is any of this "left" or "right"?

Carl M. said...

He has been pitching to the Rust Belt since before he announced for office! That's been his "we're getting a bad deal" schtick all along.

As for Confederates, the whole anti Hispanic Republican thing is centered in California. Think Pete Wilson. I don't think California is part of the old Confederacy. Neither is New York, come to think of it. Mr. Trump did better in Massachusetts than he did in most of the Confederate states 49% on March 1. Compare with 41.4% in Lousiana, 40.2% in NC, 32.5% in South Carolina, 38.9% in Tennessee..

David Brin said...

Jiminy Carl do you even bother anymore to check that your brain is in gear before letting up the brakes?

Trump did well... among REPUBLICANS in fights between republicans! Meaning he got 35% of the 25% who are goppers in CA and MA and NY.

Jesus it's like you aren't even trying....

David Brin said...

Oh BTW. In the primaries it matters WHEN the primary happened. Trump getting 30% against ten opponents is more impressive than 45% against Cruz & Kasich. But what truly matters is that today's goppers are so crazy that the extreme right winger... but marginally sane-person -- Kasich got only 15% when his only opponents were a screeching maniac... and Donald Trump.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

Locally speaking he is more of a traditional Democrat than Hillary is. Trump is calling for enforcing picket lines in order to support above market wages for U.S. blue collar workers. Duh!

Trump's positions are not consistent, even with themselves, even from one sentence to the next. His "thing" is promising his audience whatever they want to hear. "It will be great!", whatever "it" is.

So yes, he's promising rust-belt workers better wages, but he's not saying how his assertions will come to be reality. Trump in his life so far has been notoriously bad toward the unions who actually work for him. His whole business model is to stiff whoever he deals with, which includes (but is not limited to) trade labor. There's no reason to think he'd be union-friendly once in office.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: I don’t think you’ve interpreted Popper correctly. The demarcation helped distinguish studies that produced knowledge in an experimental fashion from those that could not. It wasn’t meant to imply that those who could not were not capable of producing knowledge. It drew attention to the differences between the methods we use to weed the garden containing our conjectures. He was a big fan of demonstrating the fragility of belief. The demarcation, however, focuses upon the line between methods that use falsification. For example, Ptolemaic astronomy can’t really be falsified. Kepler’s version could. Keynesian economics cannot. No version of economics can.

Popper would have argued against McCloskey’s use of the term ‘science’ for what she does, but not against the value of the work she does (I think). Scientism, as I’ve seen it used, is intended to attack the value of the work so labeled as fraud. I was tempted to attack, but I’ve decided instead to flex. She isn’t trying to wrap her work in shiny foil to trick us. She argues the utility theory economists are dangerously close to that instead, but doesn’t stab at them. Sigh. Language is only useful when we agree the terms mean what we agree they mean, so I’ll flex and add another level of meaning to ‘science’ in my mental dictionary.

As for authors understanding scientism, I don’t think that is necessary. If they try to construct a half-way credible society in support of their story, it is that construct that is useful. Since science fiction tends to be forward looking (speculative), they can mangle the science and still do something useful. The scientism risk is at the level of the researcher analyzing the story. For example, when I first read SUNDIVER, I could see the author knew a thing or two about science. Analyzing the society described in the book (I wasn’t equipped to do that at the time), though, is where the risk is. Did he mean what he said? Did he mean what I think he said? Did he mean this other thing that he didn’t even realize he meant? Did ancient aliens plant ideas in his head? Heh. Try it for authors from long ago and the possibilities explode. There are some really stupid ways to interpret stories and the authors who write them, so how good can this data source be in trying to confirm or reject theories of society? McCloskey honestly tries, so I have to give her credit for that. I’d be really curious, though to see the technique used on speculative future fiction instead of historical fiction.

David Brin said...

I hereby apologize to Carl M. I have been a bit brisk, lately and especially when it is guys I respect. And I respect Carl, who has fought for a libertarianism that does not whore itself to oligarchs.

Shane Mallatt said...

Dr Brin, I just wanted to say that I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to read my posts and respond to them. I would be curious to know whether or not I am correct in assuming the DP are the manic and the GOP are the depressive.

David Brin said...

DP are far more "manic" than "lefty." They have to do something now! Goppers would rather prevent anything from being done, ever.

These might seem equally bad. But Dems are not fixed in their obsessions. When a government agency had long been captured into uselessness? It is dems that deregulate them out of existence... the CAB and ICC and the ATT monopoly.

Midboss57 said...

Thank you for answering my post.
The point I was trying to make was not that the TPP and TTIP are bad ideas or arguing their validity. I may have expressed myself badly. The point is that in their present state, they do not look good at all, like the proverbial "this is not what it looks like" scenes in every bad comedy out there.

The point I was trying to express is that these have the potential for either improvements on the long term (because lets be honest, the working class are not going to see the benefits on the short term even if promises are kept) or make things even worse rather quickly. The result depends entirely on how things are negotiated and how rigorously standards are enforced.

And right now, trust in our governments to do that correctly is at an all time low this side of 1968. This is why Trump is pushing our your side of the pond, why Le Pen is gaining in France and why my utter failure of a prime minister blundered our way out of the EU. Regardless of what one feels for these trade agreements, the first step has to be to earn the trust necessary for people to be willing to go with on that leap of faith. Or to put it in a metaphor: Daddy isn't letting drive the Ferrari after those car crashes you were in until you've proven you can drive properly.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

For example, Ptolemaic astronomy can’t really be falsified. Kepler’s version could. Keynesian economics cannot. No version of economics can.

You don't think Supply Side economics has been thoroughly falsified?

I think I understand you saying that no economic theory can be proven 100% correct, but isn't it pretty easy to demonstrate when one doesn't work?

raito said...

"The fact that you know nothing at all about the brief, democratic congress of 2009 is kinda sad."

Well, there's one guy who remembers it. Paul Ryan. Whose platform is at least partially built on how 'awful' that was. and that if Clinton wins and the congress turns, it would be 'carte blanche' (a direct quote). At least he recognizes that there's other races happening, though as he's in one of them I'm less surprised.

I don't suppose he'd turn down carte blanche for his own party, though.

What I do find surprising is that I'm not used to either side trying to influence me by citing the opposition's actual record. It's usually more of a 'he eats babies!' sort of thing. It's even odder when the bullet points that are trotted out are the ones I approve of, rather than the ones I oppose. And it's happening on both sides.

Tim H. said...

LarryHart; The funny thing about supply side is the air of truthiness about it, at first glance, it looks like it might work, and on can entirely different planet, populated by a different species, it could work. Here's an idea I've no time for, a fantasy story where supply side actually works. If Niven & Pournelle live long enough to pen their take on Paradisio, we may see it.

LarryHart said...


Or to put it in a metaphor: Daddy isn't letting drive the Ferrari after those car crashes you were in until you've proven you can drive properly.

The problem here is that (I think) you mean that the voters are "Daddy" and the politicians are "you". Trump supporters seem to reverse the roles.

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

The funny thing about supply side is the air of truthiness about it, at first glance, it looks like it might work,

It might have sounded like something worth trying in the 1980s, but my claim is that the economy since then has been one big experiment which disproved the theory. Not only doesn't it work, but we can now see the mechanisms by which it has to fail.

Here's an idea I've no time for, a fantasy story where supply side actually works.

The underpinnings for such a theory would be the same as those for a fantasy story in which waterfalls go up, not down.

The problem with the "trickle-down" analogy is that water naturally falls to its lowest level, but money naturally gravitates to those who already have it, or the highest level in the analogy. Unlike water, money trickles up. So inserting money at the top and expecting it to do work is like pouring water into the bottom of a hydroelectric dam and expecting it to do work. The "theory" is that by introducing the "water" at its endpoint, you introduce efficiency in getting the "water" where it's going to end up anyway.

The problem with this theory is that the destination is not where the work gets done. Production happens in the "getting there", not in the "being there". Bypassing the "getting there" defeats the purpose of the system.

LarryHart said...


I don't suppose he'd [Paul Ryan] turn down carte blanche for his own party, though.

Political conservatives seem to genuinely believe that their side is simply doing patriotic, consitutional, good-for-America, sensible governing, whereas the Democrats use "big government" to take from the deserving and give to the undeserving. So they see no cognitive dissonance between fearing "carte blanche" for the Dems, but supporting it for themselves. Or between supporting complete obstructionism against Dems, but demanding an up-or-down simple majority vote for their own policies. In their minds (and I think this is a sincere belief on their part), anything which prevents the harm the Democrats would do is a good thing. Our old friend Tacitus2 used to say as much.

What I do find surprising is that I'm not used to either side trying to influence me by citing the opposition's actual record. It's usually more of a 'he eats babies!' sort of thing.

Which helps the candidate who really does eat babies, because the accusation loses its power. :)

But in all seriousness, I think you've got something there. I've been paying more attention to the fact that Trump supporters aren't swayed by his obvious (to me) disqualifications. But the arguments they lob at Hillary (and Obama) seem so nonsensical (to me) that they can't possibly sway me either. And they probably feel the same way about accusations lobbed at Trump.

We noted here recently that there's a certain amount of escalation from the progressives to the tune of "So you won't work with a conciliatory Democrat like Obama, and treat him exactly the way you would a flaming left-winger? Ok, then, here's Hillary Clinton! What do we have to lose?" It's entirely possible that an equal-and-opposite dynamic produced Trump on the other side. "You think all Republicans are gibbering insane racist bullies. Well what do we have to lose if we elect a real gibbering insane racist bully?"

Tim H. said...

LarryHart; applying stimulus to the top accomplishes two things valued by some elites, first it keeps the money away from the "wrong" people, second, it avoids inflationary prosperity, protecting the dullards in the 1%. Nearly forgot the bonus extra, the thrill the more antisocial 1%ers feel seeing how much better life is for them.
From a certain perspective, a feature, not a bug.

LarryHart said...


I get that Supply Side works as intended by the manipulators who encourage belief in the theory. I'm just pointing out that it doesn't work as advertised. It's a Trojan Horse.

Likewise, I think that one reason the Republicans can reject Obamacare even though it's "their own damn plan" is that "their own damn plan" was just as false a front as Supply Side, and they always knew it. It was proposed to turn public opinion away from more leftist solutions like Single Payer or Public Option. They never believed it would actually work. And thus their incredulity that President Obama would actually try to implement it. "It was our own damn plan to begin with. That's how we know it won't work. It wasn't designed to work."

Tim H. said...

"Just so" stories for the marks, eh? That implies a fairly dark attitude for the inner circle, one I more easily attribute to the "Hooded Birchers" than the paleocon variety.

David Brin said...

Onward to


David Brin said...

Okay... one more answer:

Alfred, Supply side offered relentless highly confident and bold predictions… e,g, that reducing tax revenue by lowering rates on the rich would result in so much new investment in productive capacity and research (“supply”) that the resulting surge in economic activity would bring in MORE revenue at lower tax rates, resulting in erasure of government debt.

That is a series of very very clear predictions. And every single one of them proved not only false in general, but false every single time, at all levels and specifics. Especially the blatant fact (as Adam Smith said) that oligarchs tend not to invest in factories but in asset bubbles that slow the velocity of money almost to nil. Rentier - or rent-seeking - did not happen everywhere. SOME rich folks did invest their wealth in new things and capacities! Elon Musk and most Web zillionaires….

… only dig this. Most of them are democrats who think their taxes are too low!

David Brin said...

Keep replying to this thread if you like.

David Brin said...


Carl M. said...

David, I did not cite Trump's numbers for California. That would have indeed been unfair. I cited Pete Wilson and that proposition a while back for denying welfare benefits to illegals. I was thinking of this article:

The primaries I cited numbers for were all early primaries.

LarryHart: Trump has stated how he intends to boost blue collar wages: protectionism and reduced immigration. Protectionism is one issue Mr. Trump has been consistent on. I've watched interviews with him from over a decade ago where he said the same things as today on this subject.

Like it or not, racism, nativism, and trade unionism have worked together frequently in U.S. history. Look up the Populist Party platforms of the 1800s sometime.

The "again" part of Trump's Make America Great Again, alludes to the union heyday: the 1950s. Immigration was severely restricted at the time, and most of the foreign competition was either under communist control, bombed to pieces, or both.

And I believe it was Dr. Brin who recognized that America's working class took a serious hit to fight communism via U.S. policy of low tariffs and high domestic taxation...

David Brin said...

I wandered back to the last comments section. But any followup should be on the current thread.

Carl you are half-right down the line and half wrong.

“America's working class took a serious hit to fight communism via U.S. policy of low tariffs and high domestic taxation…”

The US labor movement backed anti-communism when the Taft GOP wanted isolationism, true. But in the 1950s-60s labor was strong in the US, yet not-protectionist. The Marshallian Pax Americana anti-mercantilist trade policies uplifted factory workers in Europe and Japan and then Taiwan, Korea etc and mostly US labor was fine with it. So much for the notion that narrow self-interest is the only motive.

What caused skyrocketing wealth disparity was Supply side shift of taxes off the aristocracy and CEO caste on a crazy theory. And deliberate schemes that worked to underfund pension commitments. Had those commitments been met, pension funds would now be the biggest pool of capital ownership - as economists then predicted… instead of that pool being the top 50,000 families.

“Like it or not, racism, nativism, and trade unionism have worked together frequently in U.S. history. Look up the Populist Party platforms of the 1800s sometime.”

Both true and untrue. The Olde South and Confederacy were both the top racist-nativist zones AND the top anti-Union zones. And it was Union supported FDR and Truman who plunged ahead with huge steps to desegregate where it would make the most difference, e.g. the military.

I could cite dozens of other examples. But key here is the hand-rubbing glee Carl expresses in saying (in effect) “see how things are opposite to expectation?”

No Carl. They are not opposite. They are more complex and sometimes contradictory. But labor was still allied with civil rights, no matter how you struggle to go “aha!” at exceptions. Labor still supported globalization and anti-mercantilism. Labor was still screwed by the GOP and moguls betraying pension commitments. “Aha!” exceptions notwithstanding. Things are NOT opposite. Just complicated.