Saturday, July 08, 2017

Triumph of the Trump? Be afraid of the manic "will"

While the president himself has probably never heard of Leni Riefenstahl, it’s a dead certainty that the authors of his G-20 speech have watched the Nazi propagandist director’s opus, ‘Triumph of the Will,’ scads of times. Chief Strategist Bannon has said so, admiringly.  And hence it became a matter of note and worry, when POTUS’s speech used the word “will” as a meaningful noun, almost a dozen times, declaring that only great focus and assertiveness can save western civilization.

Mind you, I have been hardly any less dramatic in my own declarations of determination to defend our nation, the “west,” and the great enlightenment experiment. For all its faults, the American pax led the world into its greatest-ever (by far) era of rising prosperity, knowledge, fairness, peace and … yes… early glimmerings of wisdom (through relentless self-criticism). 

Indeed, if they are taken at face value... and only at face value... Trump’s words have real merit. 

Alas, those words overlay a blatant subtext, and that subtext is - I believe  the worst existential threat to this civilization since Hitler and Stalin. Moreover, we should all worry when a Republican president starts making grandiose pre-justifications for war.

For war? Yep, the real deal. And groundwork is being laid, as we speak.  And the underpinning phenomenon that's hauling us toward a cliff is the GOP’s clinically irrefutable bipolar disease.

== Mood gyrations that kill ==

Under Donald Trump, the Republican Party has swung back to one of its manic phases. Already, there are sounds emanating from this White House - and all over the right-o-sphere - almost identical to the last time frenetic GOP mania took over, during the years 2001 - 2003, when so-called ‘neocons’ (Wolfowitz, Nitze, Perle, Adelman and other followers of a mad emigre philosopher named Leo Strauss) concocted excuses for committing the prestige and might of America to quixotic foreign adventures.

Then, as now, there was a lot of jabber about will.  The message? That America can transform the world and triumph, if we simply have enough of that magical stuff. With enough "will" we can transform the world, yippee!

Those Bushite neocons were different from today’s manic alt-righters in one respect. Their official aim was to impose democracy and liberal values in places like Saddam’s Iraq and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Sure, they specifically chose the least fertile soil you could possibly find on this planet to grow democracy. We’ll set aside the question of whether that was deliberate setup for failure, or just a case of grand delusional, unrealistic nation-building. A case can be made for either. But at least their manic transcendentalism gave lip service to America's historic mission as a force for revolution, liberation and transformation.  
In contrast. the narrative pouring from the current White House makes no mention of promoting democracy, even as a fig leaf, let alone as a rationalization. How can it be otherwise, when any despot is their friend... so long as he's not named Castro or Kim or Khamenei? 

Instead -- terrifyingly - the new sub-text is fundamentalist. Deep down, only slightly buried in code, it’s Book of Revelation millennialism, Christian-apocalyptic. Pence-ism bubbling in a cauldron that's colored by Steve Bannon's obsession with "Fourth Turning" cyclical history

But let’s look at what happened to the neocons, after their brief glory as lead-instigators of a Grand American Military Crusade. Given that Iraq and Afghanistan turned into horrific, mismanaged and unpopular quagmires, Wolfowitz etc. were soon out on their ears, dumped by the Bushites with nary a thank you note. At the emotional and psychological level - the neocons’ brief, manic epoch was followed by a crash -- the usual Republican Depressive Phase. A let-down into glowering-sullen cynicism.

Look across the post-Reagan era. Brief manic episodes - 1991… 1995… and 2001-3… always gave way quickly to much longer spells during which gloomy obstructionism were the only priority (after tax cuts for the rich.)

GOP Congresses were the laziest in the history of the nation, passing the fewest bills, holding the fewest hearings or days in session and issuing the fewest subpoenas of any in a century. Oh, they make noise! But if you subtract Monicagate-impeachment and Benghazi, you wind up with the most slothful legislative torpor in 150 years.

(Their constituents? Red voters appear to be happy with polemic. So long as their politicians shout the right noises about abortion and deficits and such, inaction goes unpunished.)

Alas, it is the nature of bipolar disease that the phase you’re in eventually flips, bigtime. For Republicans, there’s always dangerous mania soon after a Democratic president gets out of the way. 

Sure enough, already drums of justification for war are pounding. And we all know where Bannon & co. mean to trigger one that almost everyone desires — a trumped-up attack on Iran. Just list the parties who want it!  

== Something for everyone! ==

Russia would love to see a U.S.-led assault that would drive Tehran’s theocrats to seek shelter under Moscow's protection. After all the silly-ass cruise missile pippity-poppities are done, the only lasting effects of American airstrikes will be (1) to remove Iranian oil from world markets, jacking up prices, and (2) give Putin the Iranian satrapy that Russian tyrants always wanted, down south. Oh, and (3) pain for Israel, if she foolishly takes part. 

Chalk up a win-win-win for Vladimir.

The Saudis, too, are pushing hard for Trump to attack their Shiite rivals across the Gulf. And foolish parts of Israel want it, too -- though smarter quarters don't.

Trump himself will see it as a way to escape domestic troubles by flourishing “strength.” Mike Pence and his Dominionists are positively rubbing their hands for this, of course, along with Steve Bannon and most senior advisers. 

Even the Iranian mullahs would benefit! Sure, their oil would be removed from world markets (the Russian and Saudi goal). But politically and culturally, the ayatollahs win. Because the rising Persian civil society -- with tens of millions of highly-educated young people yearning to become modern world citizens --  threatens the old fellows' grip on power. A nice little war would let the mullahs crush all those pesky modernists to dust. 

To be sure, there will be losers, like that rising Iranian middle class. And this is the last thing wanted by our own smart castes -- folks who actually know stuff, like the intelligence community, civil servants, diplomats, our allies, and the U.S. military officer corps… along with anyone who genuinely loves an agile, smart and forward-looking America. 

Indeed, these communities are sure to be wary, after having been duped and abused and extorted and bullied by the Bushites and neocons, back during the last GOP manic phase. (Remember WMDs?) They will be wary, watchful…

And so? 

So, all of those smartypants clades must be discredited! And lo and behold, alt-right media are suddenly -- in disciplined-unison -- hurling memes like "deep state" in order to lump intel and military officers together with other hated, fact-user castes -- scientists, teachers, doctors, journalists, the FBI...  And the Deep State meme is working! In the Confederacy, that is.  

Nevertheless,  it will still take something more. There must be a cassus belli, a provocation to get the nation riled up! An event to rouse all that manic will!  Perhaps something really nasty and horrific, cooked-up courtesy of ISIS or Al Qaeda... or by Blackwater and the FSB. Or all of the above.

Think a Tonkin Incident, willingly supplied by the Iranian Republican Guard. Or else Saddam’s WMDs, to the fifth power. Or a Gleiwitz Incident. Another 9/11. Or a Reichstag Fire. 

The manic phase is upon us. Now all that's needed is a spark.


======

Addendum note.  Okay, the loudest noises aren't directed at Iran, right now, but North Korea. But seriously. Even in full-force manic phase, would anyone be that stupid?

159 comments:

Paul SB said...

I looked up the Gleiwitz Incident a few weeks ago, just to refresh my memory, and found that, after Wikipedia, the next site to turn up was white supremacist Carolyn Yeager's claim that the whole thing was made up. I wonder if it would have been as high up in the search ranks before the Triumph of the Republicans?

Paul SB said...

For Duncan & Donzelion (from the previous thread),

All business sagacity reduces itself in the last analysis to judicious use of sabotage.
- Thorstein Veblen

Tim Wolter said...

I'm sorry, I have lost track. Republicans are at turns Communists and Nazis. They are stooges of the Muslim Saudis and of Christian Dominionists.

I understand that you really, really don't like the Republican Party. Frankly I'm not overly fond of them either.

But can't you keep your screeds consistent? This stuff is not conducive to improving our political health.

T.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Tim,

Where did Dr. Brin call Republicans Communist? I didn't see that anywhere.

David Brin said...

Jiminy Tim, what's inconsistent? Hitler and Stalin were best pals, till their common enemy seemed to be on the ropes. EVERYBODY who seeks zero sum systems of pyramidal power has to hate and work against the success of the positive-sum, enlightenment experiment. They are allies against it. Because if it prevails -- and smart guys like Francis Fukayama thought it seemed all-but certain, in the 1990s -- then zero-sum tyrannies will simply be over, period.

Cripes, have you paid any attention to the vast coalition Putin has been building? It stretches from Turkey across Belarus and Russia and all the Asian steppe countries, all the way (now) to Manilla... with the Beijing politburo helping all they think they can get away with. All across that coalition, the narrative is similar to what's taught in Saudi-finance Madrassas... that the west is "decadent" and all our toys and fun and liberties and tolerance and so-called "democracy" are shams.

And yes... that same narrative pours across todays confederate alt-right.

So yes, the Saudis and Dominionists and commies and nazis and all the rest have always shared the same, basic agenda. Their ideologies are only surface window dressing for one thing. "Me and my pals are gonna be on top and for us to win, most must lose. Call that 'zero-sum' if you like. But we're gonna end your 'positive sum' experiment and get back to the way things were for 6000 years."

Dwight Williams said...

Mr. Wolter: For myself, I would ask you to kindly stuff thyself. Dr. Brin is perfectly clear in explaining the multiple strains of Bad Influences affecting the current crop of US Republicans. The rest of us sane humans, inside and (in my case) outside the USA, don't need this mess getting any further along than it already has.

Jumper said...

You aren't crazy, Tim. There's no paucity of hyperbole on the internet for sure.

David Brin said...

Dwight, please re phrase with respect and ask DOCTOR Wolter to kindly stuff himself. And we all like and admire him here, a lot. Whenever he criticizes me, I always give it a respectful thought or two... before asking him to stuff himself. ;-)

Dwight Williams said...

I consider myself duly corrected on the honorific. I was unaware of his doctorate.

LarryHart said...

@Tim Wolter:

I'm sorry, I have lost track. Republicans are at turns Communists and Nazis.


Russia is more fascist than communist these days, so the analogy between Putin's Russia and Hitler's Germany isn't exactly a contradiction. The excuse for invading Ukraine--protecting the ethnic Russians there--was straight out of Hitler's 1938 playbook.


They are stooges of the Muslim Saudis and of Christian Dominionists.


The Islamicists and the Christianists want the same thing--a religious war. They might not want the same outcome of that war, but they are united in wanting to bring it about.

Tony Fisk said...

Am waiting to see what Republicans have to say about Trump agreeing to work with Putin on this election hacking stuff. (read: giving the house keys to the burglar)

How goes that move to take away Trump's ability to unilaterally declare war?

Meanwhile, in the wake of the G19+1* summit, ABC reporter Chris Uhlmann tears the resident a new one.

A little snippet you may not have heard: the UN have just signed a declaration outlawing nuclear weapons. (I know: ironic in the current political climate, and the UN have all the enforcing powers of a water pistol)

*Trump wanted to modify a climate statement. Other delegates refused, along with half the US. So, it really should be G19.5+0.5, except for clunkiness.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

While I agree with this statement:

"The Islamicists and the Christianists want the same thing--a religious war. They might not want the same outcome of that war, but they are united in wanting to bring it about."

I would add that they are not always primarily interested in a war with one another. By far the majority of victims of Islamic extreme movements has been other muslims, and likewise Christian extreme movements are more focused on Westerners who do not conform to their purist views, be they gays, ethnic minorities, women who do not want to be treated like second-class citizens, or probably their most frequent bogeymen - atheists. It follows the law of segmentary opposition pretty well. the enemy at hand is better than two on a distant continent, unless the ones from the distant continent happen to be at hand or in the news.

Zepp Jamieson said...

There's a good chance that Trump has seen "Triumph of the Will." It's a fairly well known fact that for several years, he kept "New World Order" on his bedstand as nightly reading. The book is a collection of Hitler speeches and details on how the Austrian rose to power--tactcis employed, propaganda used. Trump himself admitted this, but excused it with the bizarre excuse that they person who loaned him the book was Jewish. (He wasn't, FWIW).
There was a relatively minor incident Friday that should give every Republican pause for thought: Sarah Palin, who less than a decade ago ran for vice president, opined on FB that Trump upheld "The Fourteen Words" at the G-20 conference. This woman was recently taken seriously as a leader in America by Republicans.
And an Oz commentator by the name of Uhlmann unloaded on Trump in a video that has gone viral. It's notable, not because he said anything particularly fresh or original, but because he shares Trump's view that we must burn coal and gas to keep the wheels of commerce turning.
My favourite theory as to why the scheduled half-hour meeting with Who's-Your-Vladdy Putin went 2 1/2 hours is that in order to amuse himself, Putin brought a laser pointer along.Catch the red dot, Donnie!

Zepp Jamieson said...

This is what I get for trying to write and chew gum at 5am: "tactics" not "tactcis", and let's change it to "but rationalised it with the bizarre excuse" so I don't get complaints about copy editors hanging themselves in despair.

Tim Wolter said...

Well now. A Unified Conspiracy Theory is more entertaining than its constituent cabals! No more plausible, true, but when does that become a factor?

Allow me to present, for your consideration and/or castigation, an alternate take on Donald Trump.

He is Jessie Ventura.

For most of you this is a near forgotten political figure. He came out of nowhere to implausibly win the Minnesota Governor's race in 1998. Of course this is smaller spuds - Minnesota is not a nuclear power and if it were, North Dakota would kick its butt - but the parallels are impressive.

Flamboyant, self aggrandizing personality, beloved and loathed intensely? Check.

Running against a creaky dynastic Democratic Party? Triple check! In their primary the D party offered up such standard bearers of the future as Walter Mondale's son and Orville Freeman's son, before completing the trifecta and nominating Hubert Humphrey's son!! On the R side was a fairly reasonable guy named Norm Coleman who would be the analog of today's RINOs, being a former Democrat. Party switchers are never entirely trusted.

Spending minimal money while getting huge tasty helpin's of free media attention? check.

As the Ol' Perfessor said, "You could look it up".

As a governor Ventura was abrasive, annoying everyone. A few positive things happened on his watch, more in spite of him one assumes. His relations with the press rival those of The Donald. Nobody was surprised or in any way disappointed when Jesse retired from politics (and started spinning delicious Conspiracies!!!) after one term.

Since then Minnesota has had one governor from each party. Pawlenty and Dayton have in my opinion both been of above average competence.

Our political system has a way of self correcting.

T.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

There was a relatively minor incident Friday that should give every Republican pause for thought: Sarah Palin, who less than a decade ago ran for vice president, opined on FB that Trump upheld "The Fourteen Words" at the G-20 conference.


Why would that give Republicans pause? If they haven't rejected his white supremacist entanglements yet, it's because they view that aspect of the man as a feature not a bug. It's not even that they are white supremacists themselves, just that they recognize that those sorts of dog-whistles get armies of neo-Nazis to vote for them with (apparently) no downside costs. That Party would support Satan himself if he'd help them cut taxes and deregulate business.

Jumper said...

Everyone has heard Nietzsche's "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster." I never saw any sign that Hitler ever quoted that.

random reading on the Nietzsche - Hitler connection:
http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/133p/133p04papers/MKalishNietzNazi046.htm

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ Tim Wolfer:
Jesse Ventura was also fairly intelligent (still is) and honest in his professed beliefs. He meant what he said. And he wasn't selling Minnesota out to Jean Chr├ętien.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry:
I said it -should- give Republicans pause.
The genesis of that infamous "Star of David" ad is utterly horrifying. 8Chan, which was celebrating the death of Elie Weisel the day the story broke.

David Brin said...

The Jesse Ventura run-down was appreciated, Tim. Apropos, but still, a governor is limited and a governor of utterly moderate and non-confederate Minnesota even more so. And Ventura did not wage war against the very concept of fact or skilled competence.

TCB said...

"It's Dr. Evil, I didn't spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called "mister," thank you very much."

Jumper said...

My impression was that Ventura hit the pipe weed hard after leaving the governorship, and became even more discombobulated pretty quick.

Carl M. said...

Meanwhile in a nearby parallel universe:
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/08/what-if-trump-had-won-as-a-democrat-215351

Treebeard said...

That was a great speech Trump gave, huh? Imagine a president speaking in defense of the West, its nations, peoples and values, instead of subverting them (as with almost every Obama speech). I notice that our wonderful subversive media is already working overtime to make sure that everyone understands how terribly sinister and racist this historic speech was. LOL.

Watching the body language of some of the videos from Frankfurt, all I can say is: Trump was good, but Putin is a BOSS. You can really see the Eurasian martial artist coming through in his demeanor. If only America had more leaders like this, and not this parade of weak buffoons. Of course Putin troubles our liberal and leftist friends, who know that any strong, masculist, traditionalist, non-subversive leader who is doing about as well as could be expected for his people under the conditions he is given and doesn't defer to the opinions of Anglo coastal liberals is an evil-doer in the lineage of Hitler and Stalin. For example, let's recall that at the fall of Communism, Russia's birthrates were something like 1.1, and now they have rebounded to 1.8 – the only nation I know of that has reversed the trend of self-genocide-by-Progress. This alone surely disturbs the anti-life progs who have assured us repeatedly that Russians, like those crusty old American conservatives, are rapidly dying out and headed for history's dustbin (as they themselves embrace every anti-natalist value like a progressive merit badge).

Meanwhile, Putin is making friends with the leaders of China, India, Japan, many European countries, Turkey, Phillipines, Egypt, etc., all of whom see nothing particularly scary about this guy. Really the trouble seems to be concentrated in the Anglo countries, whose subversive opinion-maker class only knows how to double-down on the subversion and demonization, and call any leader who works for the preservation of his nation various flavors of evil. But in reality it's looking more and more like Putin's world, and the Anglo liberals are looking more and more retro and delusional as they flail futilely against the tides of history (at least, one can hope).

Alfred Differ said...

It IS rather interesting to hear what Ventura has to say about Trump nowadays. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I'm pretty sure Hitler's '38 playbook was a copy of one used by pretty much every aristocrat who wanted to expand their income derived from land. Putin is playing the classic Russian defense game. With no real defendable borders, they push west and south as far as they can go to create a defense-in-depth opportunity. It makes for fodder that feeds the cyclic history nonsense people like to believe, but some cycles are driven by geopolitical forces and are real enough.


@Treebeard | In full troll mode today, I see.

Jumper said...

And think of all the Syrian refugees who chose to settle in Russia. That's where the rubber meets the road.

Jonathan Sills said...

Our political system does indeed have ways of self-correcting.

Assuming, of course, that our political system is left intact. Alt-rights have been making noises about a new Constitutional Convention, and may be bordering on the votes needed to call one. Any bets on how much of our existing Constitution would be left afterward?

Then there's the question of whether, in the wake of an extended Trump presidency, we wind up LARPing the Fallout games (might want to start stocking up on bottle caps, just in case...).

The Black Cat said...

Jesse Ventura was a former Navy Seal and a lot more intelligent than Herr Trump.

David Brin said...

Tim & Jonathan: “Our political system does indeed have ways of self-correcting.”

Yes, which is why the #1 aim of the Murdochians for 25 years has been the destruction of US politics.



“Imagine a president speaking in defense of the West, its nations, peoples and values, instead of subverting them (as with almost every Obama speech)”

Except that you lie. You spew utter, diametrically-opposite-to-fact falsehoods because that is your nature, sir.

Simply declaring what you desperately want to fantasize to be true? That’s called incantatory magic, and it was the arbiter of “truth” for 6000 years. Forget anything like objective reality (in which Obama spoke up for the Great America-Led Enlightenment relentlessly, eloquently and powerfully) when subjective hate gets the juices going!

Forget objective reality, in which ALL outcomes of governance, from conomy to science, to technology, to public health, to military readiness ALWAYS na ENTIRELY do better across the spans of democratic administrations…

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

Forget all objective reality and all the fact-users who study it! (Till the ent gets cancer, then watch him run to the fact users!)

Yippee! Russian women refused to have babies at all with their souse men. Now they are birthing a trickle because they are in their forties. What a mighty culture! The fastest decline in every metric of any nation outside of Africa, but to Treebeard? A role model!

But Putin looks strong, in his mixture of communism and fascism and mafia-ism, right? You are such a weak-willed little I-Love-a-strong-father wuss.

Paul SB said...

There was an interesting interview on the radio this morning with an American who lives in Spain, comparing American and European healthcare systems. It's not what it was in the 1970s, and the interview, though short, is pretty revealing.

One of the comments I thought was very interesting came at the very end.

"... Europeans think of health care as something so important that it should not be tainted by a profit motive - that it's so important that it should be in the hands of the government only. And a lot of Americans tend to think the opposite. It's something so important that - don't dare let the government touch it. And that's a really fundamental difference that I've seen among, you know, living on two sides of an ocean."

What do you think?

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/09/536263050/comparing-international-health-care-to-the-u-s?ft=nprml&f=10

Tony Fisk said...

I think the above tirolade is neatly summarised by the Gunnerkrigg folk.

Jumper said...

"should not be tainted by a profit motive" and "don't dare let the government touch it" are not only incompatible with each other, each is impossible in its own sphere. Who pays the doctor and how much?" is inevitable as is "who decides who is certified as 'doctor'?"

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

Well now. A Unified Conspiracy Theory is more entertaining than its constituent cabals! No more plausible, true, but when does that become a factor?


I know you feel like the besieged outsider in political arguments here, but I think you're too hard on us here. Me, I argue from a perspective of survival until a less hostile government is restored, and perceive that the time frame in which that could happen gets pushed out further into the future. It's not so much a "Unified Conspiracy" as a Perfect Storm of powerful interests and processes all converging to destroy individual freedom in the name of individual freedom--that is, the freedom of the wealthy and powerful institutions not be constrained by human concerns.


Allow me to present, for your consideration and/or castigation, an alternate take on Donald Trump.

He is Jessie Ventura.
...


I don't disagree. The difference is that Trump is in a position to do more damage than the governor of my wife's home state could, but the personal motivation to "win" the office and the almost-complete lack of interest in governing seems an apt comparison.


Since then Minnesota has had one governor from each party. Pawlenty and Dayton have in my opinion both been of above average competence.

Our political system has a way of self correcting.


It does, and that is the one hope left. The issue at hand is that those very self-correcting mechanisms are under attack. Compromise between conservatives and liberals in congress seems impossible, international alliances are being flaunted, and the courts are being stacked with ideologues. I'd almost be happy with a new Constitutional Convention if it weren't about to be called by 34 Republican legislatures, who I just know aren't doing so to solve any of the problems they've caused.

But (as a good liberal should note), I might be wrong. For my daughter's sake, I hope we'll laugh over a beer at all this in five or six years.

LarryHart said...

Jonathan Sills:

Alt-rights have been making noises about a new Constitutional Convention, and may be bordering on the votes needed to call one. Any bets on how much of our existing Constitution would be left afterward?


The Second Amendment. Possibly the part of the First about freedom of religion, but made more clear that it means freedom for Christians not to be constrained by secular law. Aside from that, maybe the bit about 3/5 of a person?

It will probably have language declaring English as the official language, whatever that actually means. It would most certainly state explicitly that Sharia Law may never be implemented. And I expect that it would seek to establish explicitly that we are a Christian nation and a White homeland--possibly even in the preamble.

I'd expect that the most extreme proponents would push for clauses explicitly banning abortion, and possibly only allowing men to vote. But those might be enough to prevent ratification in some states. So those might be things that have to be "fixed" later, in the manner that one "fixes" a cat.

LarryHart said...

Meanwhile, have we admitted yet that there is no wave of armed liberal violence sweeping the nation? Or are FOX viewers hearing that there is still one going on?

Tim Wolter said...

LarryH

Thankfully we do not have a wave of political violence of any stripe going on. Long may that remain true.

No need to wait five years for a beer....if your Better Half is a Minnesotan surely you travel up this way on occasion!

T

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Jumper
"should not be tainted by a profit motive"

I would agree with this - when my son needed an operation in the USA I would have been much happier about the decision to operate if that decision had not gained the doctor some hundreds of dollars
I am quite sure that he did need the operation but I don't think adding extra unnecessary temptation to people is a good idea!

Profit motive can be good - but is somebody gets more money because they recommend unnecessary procedures.....

locumranch said...



I heard the same NPR report that PaulSB did, 127 repetitions thereof, lionising Socialised Spanish Medicine, along with the repeated assertion by G20 attendees that participation in the once-voluntary Paris Climate Accord is now believed IRREVOCABLE, the problem being that multiple repetitions (Bernard Marx, 'Brave New World') constitutes David's 'incantatory magic' rather than inarguable 'fact'.

Of course, NPR failed to mention that Spain's sub-replacement birth rate is 1.27, the lowest in Europe, reflecting imminent demographic extinction, even lower than either Japan's subpar birth rate of 1.42 or Russia's rather bunny-esque birth rate of 1.70.

Kudos to Dr. Tim, btw, for precipitating David's admission that there is little political distinction between 'best pals" Stalin's brutal version of 'Communism' and Hitler's fascist take on "national Socialism', even though David is still unwilling to admit that "best pals" Mussolini & FDR shared a similar affinity for 'Socialism'.

Instead, David prefers to simultaneously accuse the 'Trump Monster' of being a Fascist by engaging in popular nationalism, of being a National Socialist by his opposition to US Socialism, of engaging in anti-democratic (?) Anti-Fascism by his attempts to dismantle an unelected 'Deep State', and of trying to set up a 'New World Order' by his opposition to the New World Order created by Globalism's global Socialism (his last thread).

As for the international front, let me tell you how things are going to 'go down':

Saudi Arabia will continue their embargo against Qatar; Qatar will ally itself with Iran; Saudi Arabia will demand NATO protections; Russia & Turkey will ally themselves with Qatar & Iran; and NATO will abstain & throw the despicable Saudis to the Iranian wolves. Further instability in both Africa & the Middle East will flood the EU with refugees, causing the EU to collapse. NATO will collapse; the US will withdraw from Europe; and South Korea will neutralise the North Korean threat by allying itself with China.


Best

LarryHart said...

@Duncan Cairncross:

Profit motive can be good - but is somebody gets more money because they recommend unnecessary procedures.....


That's exactly why I argue as I do about health care. I don't entirely break with the economic conservatives who see good incentive in the profit motive for many commodities. I just don't think health care fits the model well for several specific reasons. One is what you just alluded to...that profit is based upon the prices of the various services rather than on outcomes. It is more profitable to order a whole bunch of tests than to cure the disease--especially when the doctor has a financial interest in the testing companies. Another reason is that the profit motive in insurance is to deny coverage rather than to provide it. That's why I see health care--at least emergency/urgent care--as more akin to a municipal fire department than as something you buy at a store or dealership.

It's not that profit motive in itself is a bad thing. It's just that in some specific cases, decisions based upon maximizing profit are not the decisions that society and humanity require. In such specific cases, a more socialized system is required. For conservatives who disagree, I ask how you think wars are financed? Do individual citizens "shop around" for the best army to prosecute a war for them? Or aren't you just fine and dandy with a system that taxes everyone to finance common protection? How is expensive but life-saving health care any different?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

David prefers to simultaneously accuse the 'Trump Monster' of being a Fascist by engaging in popular nationalism, of being a National Socialist by his opposition to US Socialism


You right-wingers always act is if it is an absurd contradiction to point out that "National Socialism" is in opposition to "Socialism". It has been ever thus since Hitler came for the trade unionists (and the Jews, for that matter).


of engaging in anti-democratic (?) Anti-Fascism by his attempts to dismantle an unelected 'Deep State',


Locumranch is correct that the next Democratic administration should immediately purge all Trump appointees, including those on the federal courts. Why should un-elected conservatives have a say in ruling us for the next fifty years?


As for the international front, let me tell you how things are going to 'go down':
...


Based upon past performance, the likelihood is that none of those predictions will come to pass.


Carl M. said...

Almost as fascist as:

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Donald Trump: the fat senile JFK.

David Brin said...

Health care is non fungible and insatiable. It cannot be delivered by market forces or by unlimited government pay-out. At one level or another, there must be rationing. The Europeans ration via committee, by using a points system… roughly multiplying the number of years of life a person might gain times the quality of those years. It sounds horrible, till you note that the US system was vastly worse… kicking our poor people, especially children, as soon as an insurance company deemed them to be expensive!

The Euro approach is creepy and bureaucratic, but overall fair, and it invests the most in the young, where we should. And it makes hard choices at the last year of life, choices that Americans refuse to make and hence we DOUBLE our medical expenses.

Only note, the rich can always buy that end of life stuff anyway. So what the euro approach does is remove most of the unfairness for the young and productive but leaves things classically unfair toward the end. It’s not perfect, but it is vastly better in almost every outcome. And much more (in the best sense) “christian.”

===

Carl M, what bullshit. JFK was preaching American values, not coercion. And screw randian selfishness. I intend to say it at Freedom Fest, in two weeks, where again I go to minister to the potentially wise, reminding them that Adam Smith... not Murdoch or Rand or the Kochs... was their founder.

David Brin said...

I only skim but locum’s conflation of FDR with Mussilini… whose career was ended directly by Roosevelt… merits special contempt. Our parents in the Greatest Generation were there, in real time, and they adored the one while fighting under his command to destroy the other. And locum isn’t fit to be in the same room with anyone from that generation.

FDR’s “socialism” saved America from the real thing, by saving capitalism, which was fast becoming feudalism again. As it will always do, propelled by aristocratic cheating, until the people stop them and hit the refresh button again.

Across 6000 years the great enemy of enterprise and competitive markets and freedom was feudalism, not bureaucrats. Locum’s masters and plantation lords are trying it again. The plan for reinstating feudalism is broad and full-frontal and they think it is unstoppable, and locum has his hand outthrust straight out and up, all the way in support.

The rest is jibber-jabber… except the following, which I had not thought of!

“South Korea will neutralise the North Korean threat by allying itself with China.”

Geez, now this is why I sift through his mountains of incoherent babble… for gems like this one. A real judo… or Taekwondo …. move that I will think about.

There's some neurons down there, son, buried under all the shit.

The Best Dover DE Event Security said...

I'm surprised!

reason said...

"Perhaps something really nasty and horrific, cooked-up courtesy of ISIS or Al Qaeda... "

Huh ISIS and Al Queda are sworn enemies of Iran?

Jumper said...

That's the problem with attributing emotion and consciousness to an organization. You end up talking about the preachers du jour. It is true that ISIL and al Qaeda are Sunni.

Carl M. said...

Now that I got your attention, take a look at the Politico link in my previous comment. I am not the only one to notice that Trump could be a Democrat just as easily as a Republican.

It is delightful to imagine the change in framing and reactions to Trump's abrasive personality that would produce. The referenced article nails it.

Anonymous said...

"Nevertheless, it will still take something more. There must be a cassus belli, a provocation to get the nation riled up! An event to rouse all that manic will! Perhaps something really nasty and horrific, cooked-up courtesy of ISIS or Al Qaeda... or by Blackwater and the FSB. Or all of the above.


Think a Tonkin Incident, willingly supplied by the Iranian Republican Guard. Or else Saddam’s WMDs, to the fifth power. Or a Gleiwitz Incident. Or a Reichstag Fire. "


They could do what they did last time and mail anthrax to the senate and the press again. That worked really well even after it was found out that the attack came from people within the US military - industrial - political complex.

LarryHart said...

@Carl M,

Yes, even at the time it was noted that Trump had previously been a Democrat and was friendly with NYC Democratic politicians. There was even some speculation that he'd veer sharply to the center, possibly even left of the Democrats, after winning.

But I don't see Trump winning the Democratic nomination for the same reason Dr Brin says MSNBC doesn't attract a doctrinaire audience the way FOX does. Democrats care about things characteristics like intellect and honesty and actual problem-solving. Democrats wouldn't have thrown their principles out the window in order to get behind a stern father the way Republicans did.. Democrats wouldn't have been impressed with Trump huffing and puffing around the debate stage the way Republicans were. Democrats wouldn't have counted on his empty promises the way Republicans did because they would have known that he was lying.

And one thing you have to agree with--the Democratic primary still would have been rigged and fixed for Hillary. :)

Ultimately, what you're asserting is no different from Trump's "We could have the best health care plan in the world and Democrats still won't vote for it." Well, no you couldn't, because the first part of that sentence is not possible. If somehow, hell froze over and it became possible, then the second half wouldn't be true either, because Democrats would vote for the outcome, not for making the other team lose.

Your scenario is likewise fun to think about after the fashion of, say, "The Man in the High Castle" or Robert Harris's "Fatherland". But plausible? Only if Democrats and Republicans are interchangable, and they aren't.


LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

'Think a Tonkin Incident, willingly supplied by the Iranian Republican Guard. Or else Saddam’s WMDs, to the fifth power. Or a Gleiwitz Incident. Or a Reichstag Fire. "


They could do what they did last time and mail anthrax to the senate and the press again. That worked really well even after it was found out that the attack came from people within the US military - industrial - political complex.


There aren't any Democratic committee heads this time. They'd have to mail anthrax to Republicans. And they've only got two to spare.

LarryHart said...

The article Carl M referenced:

In a star-studded celebrity inauguration, where attendees include Cher, Madonna, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres, President Trump offers stirring praise to his predecessors. “We are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent,” he says...


See, this is what I think is wrong with your reasoning. Trump was supported by Republicans as the antidote to Obama. Democrats who essentially wanted a third Obama term supported Hillary. You think Trump would have beaten Hillary at that game?

And this next part, stereotypical liberal caricatures aside--I find completely implausible, both that a Democrat would propose it, and that Nancy Pelosi would find good things to say:

Trump signs an executive order to build a LEED-certified wall between the United States and Mexico, complete with solar panels and micro-housing units made of recycled shipping containers. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi tells reporters that while she personally has concerns about the cost of the plan, “the American people have spoken on this subject relatively recently” and that she hopes it will raise wages for struggling farmworkers. The New York Daily News editorializes that “the wall may well keep America safer.”


Ultimately, you are half right. The parts of the article which have Republicans opposing a Democratic Trump on principles they originally opposed candidate-Trump on, but then tossed on the pile of hypocrisy--those are plausible. The Democratic support shown to Trump sounds more like the kind of things Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or locumranch imagine liberals to be like, rather than the way liberals really are. The descriptions of Democrats in the article are not credible, beginning with the idea that they would have nominated Trump in the first place.

Paul451 said...

David: "Perhaps something really nasty and horrific, cooked-up courtesy of ISIS or Al Qaeda... "
reason: "Huh ISIS and Al Queda are sworn enemies of Iran?"

Did it make any difference that the "axis of evil" had no role in 9/11? Did arguing the insanity of invading a contained Iraq while still mired in Afghanistan give a single moment of pause to those with a hardon about invading Iraq?

Why would you expect that those itching to invade Iran would care who actually caused the triggering event used as an excuse? Especially given the even more intense isolation of their own supporters today compared to 2001-3. As long as Murdoch, the Mercers, and Putin are happy with an attack on Iran, then right-wing voters will never hear a murmur of doubt.

LarryHart said...

more article:

...Trump formally nominates Michelle Obama to the United States Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia. To gasps from White House reporters, a smiling Trump says, “How do you like this? Aren’t you surprised?” He extols the former first lady as “a really tremendous person who calls it like she sees it.” The selection wins universal praise from mainstream media outlets. “I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Rosie O’Donnell gushes on Twitter, “but this is the best decision any president has made since Lincoln.” “I couldn’t be prouder,” says former President Obama. “But I guess this means when Michelle tells me to take out the garbage, it carries a little more weight now.” Gallup registers Trump’s approval rating at 53 percent.


See, what you're saying is that Trump's popularity would soar if he acted like a liberal. And you're coloring that as liberal hypocrisy. It's the conservatives and the Christianists who are hypocrites for supporting Trump even when he betrays their principles. You equate that with acknowledging support for someone who enacts your principles? Strange effing planet, man.

Robert said...

Russia has been largely Fascist since Lenin had his stroke - perhaps since the Kronstadt revolt was put down. The classical Left never really had much reason to suspport the USSR...

I think Israel is down with a bad case of Empire; what's going on there now reminds me of the later Roman Republic. I hope the smarter Israelis prevail, but I believe the odds are worse for them than they are for the smarter Americans, who probably will pull through. It's less likely that Israel will, though at least Bibi The Clown is in trouble now.

As for FDR and Mussolini, the picture is actually more complicated. FDR changed, Mussolini changed, world progressive opinion of Mussolini changed, and general American opinion of Mussolini changed. I think the central issue is the difference between the NRA and the rest of New Deal. The NRA was much more coercive and intrusive then later programs. I think the Supreme Court of Roosevelt's later years might very well still have shot down the NRA, just as the Supreme Court of the time did- it's on the record that the later Court had no problem with most of the New Deal. And where does Mussolini come in? The NRA, unlike anything else in the New Deal, was an attempt at Corporatism, which the Fascists (dishonestly) claimed to be implementing. Hiram Johnson, who headed the NRA, was an open admirer of Mussolini. To be fair, at the time, Mussolini was blocking Hitler's first attempt to take over Austria, had recently signed an agreement creating the Vatican State (still in force), and had not started the Ethiopian War (or the subsequent alliance with Hitler) yet. So his standing among non-Fascists then was pretty good. It was about to take a nose dive.

And my own views on FDR? Largely favorable, but far from David's near-worship. I believe he was about the best we could get in the "low, dishonest decade", and kept out some truly terrible alternatives (the Republicans were simply not in the picture at all). The real difference between me and David is probably family background - all four of my grandparents voted against FDR, and didn't allow his name to be mentioned in their presence. And as for unions... At the same time, I'm sure any of them would cross the street to avoid Trump.


Bob Pfeiffer

Paul451 said...

Carl,
"Trump could be a Democrat just as easily as a Republican.
It is delightful to imagine the change in framing and reactions to Trump's abrasive personality that would produce."


While "both sides are the same" makes us feel smart, it actually makes us dumb. The article and your glee in it are a demonstration of that.

Trump's media war is a perfect example of the stupidity of the article's fantasy: When an actual Democratic President, Obama, attempted to exclude far-right propaganda sites like Breitbart from WH briefings, the supposedly mirror-image Dem-apologist media protested against it and Obama was forced to back down; by contrast, do you see a single journalist or editor/producer in the right-wing media doing anything but thrilling at Trump's attacks on CNN/NYT/WaPo/etc. Show me "both sides are the same".

Obama, the perfect Dem centrist, the instinctual negotiator, every Hollywood-liberal's West Wing fantasy President, couldn't garner a tenth of the support from Congressional Democrats that Trump has received from elected Republicans (in spite of clearly being loathed and mistrusted by most of them). In the same way, the far left immediately deserted "Obomber" the moment he turned out to be a centrist; the hatred of him by the right, by the oligarchs, made not an ounce of difference. OTOH, the far right's support for Trump increases purely in response to how much he is hated by liberals.

Dems are hard enough to unify behind something they all agree on; the left are a herd of cats; the far left are boiling water.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I think the central issue is the difference between the NRA and the rest of New Deal. The NRA was much more coercive and intrusive then later programs. I think the Supreme Court of Roosevelt's later years might very well still have shot down the NRA, just as the Supreme Court of the time did-...


And just to avoid confusion, something I learned from comic books:

"NRA" in this context is not the National Rifle Association, but the depression-era National Recovery Administration.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

The real difference between me and David is probably family background - all four of my grandparents voted against FDR, and didn't allow his name to be mentioned in their presence.


Growing up, I thought everyone in the '30s and '40s loved FDR. It wasn't until my college years that I learned the joke whose punchline goes "When the sonuvabitch I'm looking for dies, it will be on the front page!" Or that the Chicago Tribune actively campaigned for his defeat in '36, having their phone operators answer with the greeting, "Chicago Tribune. There are xxx days left to save the republic."

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ Paul451
I think some of the reactions to Trump if he had a (D) after his name are valid, but a lot more aren't. Liberals and Conservatives are emotionally and intellectually different, and I think the reactions to the two major candidates after the primaries shows it. Trump was even more widely hated amongst Republicans before and during the primaries than Hillary was amongs Democrats, but after the conventions, Republicans lined up and began obediently goosestepping behind the Donald, whereas a lot of Democrats remained sceptical of Clinton. Republicans will obey the leader until he brings catastrophe down on their heads for no better reason than that he is the leader.

Robert said...

Hey, Larry.

Thanks for giving everyone the clarification. I didn't think of the National Rifle Association once while I was writing the post. I like not thinking about the National Rifle Association!

A great cartoon about the FDR-haters: https://condenaststore.com/featured/come-along-were-going-to-the-trans-lux-to-hiss-peter-arno.html

A big majority (around 60 percent) isn't unanimity or even a consensus, especially when the minority is really opposed.

Bob Pfeiffer

Jumper said...

Plus it's impossible Trump could have won the Dem nomination.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Thanks for giving everyone the clarification. I didn't think of the National Rifle Association once while I was writing the post. I like not thinking about the National Rifle Association!


There was a 1980s comic called "Aztec Ace" which mixed time travel and film noir. The protagonist's girlfriend was from the 1930s or maybe it was 1940s, and much of the action happened in that time period. To be cute, the covers carried "support your NRA" type stickers which would apparently have been common on magazines of the era.

After a few issues, the editors had to explain to the 1980s reading audience that they were not promoting the National Rifle Association.

A.F. Rey said...

Think a Tonkin Incident, willingly supplied by the Iranian Republican Guard.

Well, of course the Iranian Guard would be happy to supply a Tonkin-type Incident.

They are Republican, after all. ;) :)

LarryHart said...

...and the Trump-as-Democrat article doesn't cover the period before the election, but his candidacy in the Democratic primary would not have survived pussygate.

A.F. Rey said...

On a more serious note...

There was a relatively minor incident Friday that should give every Republican pause for thought: Sarah Palin, who less than a decade ago ran for vice president, opined on FB that Trump upheld "The Fourteen Words" at the G-20 conference.

This seems to be a misinterpretation of the title of a piece Sarah referred to. While the title is "Trump Gives Speech to the People of Poland, Says 14 Words That Leave Americans Stunned," the article itself apparently does not refer to the racist "14 words" phrase.

See http://www.businessinsider.com/sarah-palin-14-words-white-supremacy-neo-nazi-trump-2017-7

(Not that I'm a Palin fan, but let's criticize her for what she actually does.)

On a more disturbing note, Media Matters is tracking when right-wing media figures have suggested that collusion is not a crime, especially when it comes to Trump.

https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2017/06/26/new-right-wing-media-talking-point-its-no-big-deal-if-trump-colluded-russians/217034

Perhaps the next talking point, especially if Trump Jr. is shown to have accepted Russian help in winning the election?

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | ‘tainted by a profit motive’

Argh. I wanna throw up on the people who try to make this point as if it meant anything good. It’s not that the government will screw it up or that the free market will screw it up. It’s just that they think a profit motive is unclean or unvirtuous. Bleck.

I’m going to disagree with David (respectfully of course) and point out that the inequality that matters in this case is ‘access to consumption.’ Rationing medical services happens in both a free market (by prices) and in a centrally planned arena (by design), but putting real people in charge of the rationing is spectacularly stupid. Do that and little Susie dies BECAUSE someone said she had to. Never mind that it was her or someone else. The problem is that a real person can be blamed. Who do we give such a job to? How do we ensure they are humane in their work? How do we appease the next of kin? All of that can be avoided simply by NOT having a human responsible for rationing deaths. One of the greatest things about the free market is that the invisible hand has no face attached to it. The next greatest thing is that that very same hand will move people, including the most selfish among us, to do good things.

Back to your point, though, Paul. I’m not inclined to blame anyone if I can’t find a face behind a decision I don’t like. Not having government involved (where possible) helps limit my litigious inclination. We are nowhere near that in the US. If I don’t like my insurer’s decision, I can sue and use the power of a jury to coerce them if I succeed. Of course, they are well prepared for this, so it will be mighty expensive and my lawyer will get most everything whether I win or lose. I think the interviewee missed this point. It’s not that we can’t risk placing this in the hands of government. It’s that we are too afraid to trust people we can’t sue. We don’t really have a free market for health care unless the players involved are actually trading in an un-coerced manner. They aren’t. The threats and counter-threats are thick.

What matters at the ground level is access to consumption. When we sue it is often about bad services and negligence, but it is also very much about access. This is the ‘insatiable’ part of David’s argument where I’ll agree, but I’ll disagree with him and argue that the market CAN provide if we have the courage to let it. We don’t yet for medical services and a few other sectors, but that is OUR shortcoming. We do this when we believe nonsense like a taint associated with a profit motive.

Alfred Differ said...

The Politico article reminds me of fan-fiction. Much of it is bad. Much of it is worse than reality TV. Please shoot me now. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
I suggest you read
http://www.hpmor.com/

It's free and it will change your opinion on fan-fiction

Carl M. said...

Trump was boasting that he had rock star/movie star mojo. Last I checked, most rock/movie stars are Democrats. Pussygate would have been rationalized. Conservative complaints would have been labeled "culture war"; Nehemiah Scudder might get mentioned on a certain blog.

For Trump to take the Democratic nomination, he would have had to get major union endorsements. This is quite possible, as Trump ran on the platform of reducing the number of strikebreakers. Trump would have pulled a boatload of Reagan Democrats back into the Democratic Party -- at the cost of losing quite a few Hispanics.

---
In related news, Trump has revived the National Space Council -- another Kennedy parallel. Parallel Universe Brin is celebrating...

Alfred Differ said...

Trump would never have gotten past my wife's attitude regarding aggressive males. She's not alone in this. The costs to the Dems would have been huge if they had accepted him, so I don't think he would have received the nomination without all his current supporters all converting to blue voters.

Oh. And I still wouldn't have voted for him. He is a louse.
It is a very strange parallel universe where I would change that opinion.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@Paul SB | ‘tainted by a profit motive’

Argh. I wanna throw up on the people who try to make this point as if it meant anything good. It’s not that the government will screw it up or that the free market will screw it up. It’s just that they think a profit motive is unclean or unvirtuous. Bleck.


Which is exactly why I never argue from that perspective. People working for a legitimate profit is not a bad thing. Some situations don't lend themselves well to the model, but it's not a case of profit itself being bad.


It’s not that we can’t risk placing this in the hands of government. It’s that we are too afraid to trust people we can’t sue. We don’t really have a free market for health care unless the players involved are actually trading in an un-coerced manner. They aren’t. The threats and counter-threats are thick.


I'm not sure that's the correct lens to view this issue through.

When a building is on fire in the middle of a city, the fire department (generally) puts out the fire. We don't demand that the particular owners or tenants of those particular units pay the costs of putting out that particular fire--we citizens all pay taxes in order to have a fire department at hand for such emergencies. This is not because of a failure in the market, but of a societal decision that collectively paying for fire protection makes as much sense as (say) collectively paying for an army.

The point is that as a society, we decide that fire protection is not an individual benefit for which the costs are meant to be borne by the individuals whose buildings are actually on fire. It's a benefit to the neighbors whose houses won't catch fire. And it's a benefit to all to know that that fire department is there, allowing us to live our lives without worrying about what we'll do if a fire starts.

I see urgent/emergency health care in that same category. It's something that most people will never need, but for those who do, it is prohibitively expensive. If you're not a billionaire, it only makes sense for society to pay the costs collectively rather than to treat, for example, "fixing you up after something falls on you off of a tall building" as a cost that had been incurred by you alone.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

Trump was boasting that he had rock star/movie star mojo. Last I checked, most rock/movie stars are Democrats.


So? Last I checked, Trump lies worse than locumranch.


Pussygate would have been rationalized.


No, it wouldn't.


Conservative complaints would have been labeled "culture war"; Nehemiah Scudder might get mentioned on a certain blog.


That's what happened in the real world. Not sure what your point is here.

Zepp Jamieson said...

To AF Ray:
Agreed, her use of the phrase is ambiguous. She could have saved herself some flak by saying what 14 words she was thinking of, and it's odd that she didn't. Still, as you say, she has a right to the benefit of the doubt.

David Brin said...

Alfred, nonfungible and insatiable services cannot be handled by just market forces alone, without a level of tragic unfairness that could propel revolution. When little Suzie is price-rationed or insurance jettisoned away from getting a kidney that could give her (and us) 70 years of subsequent productive life, remember that the poor will be ever-more tech savvy and capable of pushing those who murder their daughters.

Public+market hybrids are possible. Example. Each citizen has a pool of federal health money available that declines with age. A teen or child with a life of future productiveness ahead gets a pool of $1 million. This declines by a simple algorithm. It’s brutally unfair for a poor 90 year old, so are all other forms of rationing. At least this approach might win over some libertarians.

---
Carl M you are just writhing and rationalizing in order to maintain an “ostrich” stance of “they’re all the same,” in the face of reality that is almost purely black and white. To claim that feminists and their friends would have excused Pussygate is contemptuous and spectacularly dumb, for example.

Did you understand why MSNBC lost money, trying to copy the successful Fox business model of running a one-sided Nuremberg Rally? While a few FAR leftists like that sort of thing, liberals just don’t and they wandered away, seeking an eclectic variety of sources. Indeed, one of the major harms done by DT has been to make purist dogmatism 5% more legit among liberals. But their character does NOT run that way, despite your fervent yearnings.

The notion that union folk would have supported DT is wonderful! You helped concoct George Lucas’s moral system right?

DT makes a few remarks about space and suddenly he’s JFK! You really have turned a bend, my friend.

Again, compare outcomes. Capitalism, small business startups, entrepreneurship, competitiveness all do VASTLY better under democrats. And THAT is why the Silicon Valley and Hollywood folks, and nearly all scientists and every other fact profession leans that way.

And I intend to say so, ministering to the libertarians who have fallen for oligarchic-feudalist propaganda, at Freedom Fest.

David Brin said...

Oh, BTW "They're the same" is a lie founded in mania and dogmatism. Democratic Congresses ALWAYS negotiate with a Republican president. They yell and all that, sure, but budgets get debated, compromises dickered and business gets done.

Republican Congresses NEVER negotiate with a Democratic president. (Except for 6 months in 1995). They screech and ensure nothing gets done.

Under GOP presidents, GOP Congresses do as little as possible EXCEPT they pass huge Feudalism Subsidy wealth transfers.

DP President plus DP Congress almost never happens. When it does, there is a mania of activity, as described in this blog posting. A libertarian can legitimately disdain some of the results. But for our purposes here, the point is simple. They are not the same. Trying to claim that they are* is pure deceit.

---

* Another difference. When a democrat is caught in a sexual scandal, it's generally a prostitute or a kinky photo or consensual 3rd base action in a hallway. Now count the number of goppers who've gone to prison as boy-buggerers. And the moralist republicans have a far higher divorce rate. They ... are... different.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Carl M wrote: Pussygate would have been rationalized.

I think if Democrats were as prepared to toss aside their ethics and values for the sake of party as Republicans are, John Edwards would be president today.

Viking said...

@Dr. Brin

"Republican Congresses NEVER negotiate with a Democratic president. (Except for 6 months in 1995). They screech and ensure nothing gets done."

As a libertarian, who consider anything other than balanced budget morally equivalent of selling our kids into slavery, my observation was that the republican majority kept passing continuing resolutions that closely approximated the budgets Obama wanted. The republican majority was scared witless of being demonized for causing government shutdowns, Obama owned them.

Also, among all of you posters who bitterly complain that republicans don't compromise with democrats, what are the desired gives and takes in such a compromise? What is an example of a win-win? Warfare spending down 200 billion, and welfare spending down 200 billion per year? Both of them up 200 billion per year?

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

She could have saved herself some flak by saying what 14 words she was thinking of, and it's odd that she didn't.


More than odd. "Fourteen words" isn't a phrase people just use in all sorts of contexts. At worst, I'd expect a dog whistle, as in "Heh, here's a totally different thing, but I can manage to use the phrase 'fourteen words' in the sentence."


Still, as you say, she has a right to the benefit of the doubt.


How so? Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. Sarah Palin has gone well past the "three times" phase. I mean, does Trump have the benefit of the doubt too, after demonstrating that he's lying if his lips are moving?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Carl M you are just writhing and rationalizing in order to maintain an “ostrich” stance of “they’re all the same,” in the face of reality that is almost purely black and white. To claim that feminists and their friends would have excused Pussygate is contemptuous and spectacularly dumb, for example.


I'm sure he's thinking of feminists forgiving Bill Clinton. Clinton was a pig, but he at least acted and believed as if his sexual escapades were voluntary. He didn't literally brag about being disrespectful to women.

In a separate issue I didn't mention yet, Trump won because he appealed to the White Supremacist voters. Those people were not going to vote for a Donald Trump who campaigned on a platform to appeal to Democrats.

David Brin said...

Returning to the firecracker that Carl tossed (thanks Carl!)...
“I am not the only one to notice that Trump could be a Democrat just as easily as a Republican.”

No, Carl, you are not the only foolish hallucinator out there, desperately seeking some rationalization to believe Trump is an isolated phenomenon, and not a raging symptom of the disease on the entire right. How very honest of you to admit this.

Riiiight, the union-busting slumlord birther would have done great in the democratic primaries. Hated in his home state. Oh, but he said a couple of moderate things, long ago, about medicare! He’s a commie at heart!

The incantation doesn’t work, Carl. It is stark… jibbering… loony.

Oh, regarding the Border Wall. Sure, many democrats would have shrugged, sighed, and gone along with the damned wall, if offered major concessions in return, like repairing Obamacare. Democrats are BETTER at border protection! Always have been and always will be.

“the Democratic primary still would have been rigged and fixed for Hillary. :)”

LH prove one damned vote was altered in her favor. A couple of dumb-ass emails by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz do not amount to a Big Fix.

David Brin said...

Viking The root cause of libertarian cognitive dissonance is that they have been talked into believing that government is the main and principal enemy of both freedom and enterprise. This is of course so spectacularly false that it is a testament to 6000 years of human delusion that anyone swallows this stunning incantation, fomented, bought and promulgated by shills who are paid by the real enemy of freedom and enterprise…

… oligarchs. Seriously Viking. I am resigned to having to repeat this counter incantation for the rest of my life. But name any renaissance of freedom and Enterprise (F&E) that was spoiled by Rooseveltean civil servants. Bah! In fact, democrats DEregulate obsolete regs and captured agencies vastly MORE than goppers do! Want the list?

Across 6000 years, 99.99% of the time the enemy of F&E was feudal oligarchy AND YOU KNOW IT. It is what the actual tea party guys rebelled against. And you know it. As you know that feudalist cheaters will return whenever they can.

They were denounced by Adam Smith, who touted civil servants as a partial ANTIDOTE against that wretched failure mode. And you know it.

You have been talked into extolling personal property as the greatest good, when a true libertarian would be devoted to COMPETITION! And history shows that excess accumulations of property destroy competition. Which is why the Kochs have paid to convince guys like you to forget the c-word and never, ever mention it, anymore.

Will someone please clip and store this riff, so I don't have to re-type it so often?

Carl, will you try... even try... just try to open your mind to these irrefutable facts?

David Brin said...

Viking, you talk as if even a single desideratum of the GOP would shift things in a better direction. Name one! F&E do better under democrats! Actually look!

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

Deficits? Deregulation? Personal freedom? Holding power accountable? Small business startups? R&D?

Your incantation is that “democrats want bedroom freedom and republicans want market freedom.” The latter is an utter and totally indefensible masturbatory lie. And you know it.

LarryHart said...

Viking:

As a libertarian, who consider anything other than balanced budget morally equivalent of selling our kids into slavery,


That's ridiculous. Who do you think is going to force your kids to work that debt off? We've had a national debt pretty consistently since Alexander Hamilton's day, so if the slavery thing hasn't happened yet, maybe that's not how things work.


The republican majority was scared witless of being demonized for causing government shutdowns, Obama owned them.


Then why did they keep initiating shutdowns? In 2010, when Rand Paul was first elected Senator, a tv commentator brought up the notion that he might hold the debt ceiling hostage, and he was dismissed as hysterical because "no one would do that." So the only reason the Republicans have become demonized for doing that is because they do that.


Also, among all of you posters who bitterly complain that republicans don't compromise with democrats, what are the desired gives and takes in such a compromise? What is an example of a win-win? Warfare spending down 200 billion, and welfare spending down 200 billion per year? Both of them up 200 billion per year?


I don't think it works that way. Republicans want to cut spending, but they don't want to cut spending that benefits the wealthy and corporations. Democrats want to provide services for the common man. They need to spend money to do so, but their goal isn't spending money in the same way that a Republican goal is to cut spending. So compromise between the two is something like "You want to cut spending? Let us help figure out a way to do that without hurting the poor."

The opposite argument doesn't make any sense: "You want to spend money? Let's do it by subsidizing corporations and giving tax cuts to the wealthy." That's a right-wing caricature of a compromise with liberals. Republicans might legitimately say, "Well, if we had our way, we'd have cut more from social programs and less from the military, but at least we're spending less taxpayer money." Democrats are not ever going to say "Well, if we had our way, we'd have spent more on the poor and less on the rich, but at least we're spending more taxpayer money."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

“the Democratic primary still would have been rigged and fixed for Hillary. :)”

LH prove one damned vote was altered in her favor. A couple of dumb-ass emails by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz do not amount to a Big Fix.


I just figured that was a point that Carl would have to concede.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Carl M wrote: Pussygate would have been rationalized.

I think if Democrats were as prepared to toss aside their ethics and values for the sake of party as Republicans are, John Edwards would be president today


That makes clear another point. Democrats had to abandon Edwards because his adultery made him poison to much of their voting base. Pussygate would have made Trump more poison to Democratic voters than Edwards was. Even if the Democratic leadership wanted to continue to stand behind him, doing so would have been political suicide. Many Democratic voters would have stayed home in November rather than vote for the pig. The Republican voters could vote for him despite his piggishness because that didn't really bother them all that much in the first place.

LarryHart said...

BTW, my daughter watched an old tv special about Lin-Manuel Miranda and how he wrote the musical "Hamilton". At the end of the show, there were snippets of prominent politicians and celebrities talking about the play and the subject matter.

One of them was Paul Ryan describing how great the Federalist Papers are, and how he keeps a copy of the essays with him. If only he actually took them to heart. I'm pretty sure the special aired in 2014, so he probably meant that keeping national government in check was a good thing as long as the president's name rhymed with Yo-Mama.

Speaking of then-President Obama, it was literally painful to watch him and Michelle speaking as first couple, remembering what it used to be like to have a president who is not an embarrassment.

George W Bush had a few comments there, and I have to say what I always say when I hear him speak lately: Why couldn't he talk like that when he was president?

When they played excerpts from the end of the musical, it applied perfectly to the Obamacare repeal effort. In fact, Paul Ryan should have been the one singing:


I’ll give him this. His [health care] system is a work of genius.
I couldn’t undo it if I tried.
And I tried.


Anonymous said...


David Brin (@4:58PM) said:

"But name any renaissance of freedom and Enterprise (F&E) that was spoiled by Rooseveltean civil servants. "

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102

In contrast to many libertarians, I don't feel any connection to gold as an investment object, but I do think the confiscation (forced sale) of all gold at below the (new) market price is indeed an act worthy of the meanest oligarch that owns his subjects. Also, my understanding is that following the 1933 dollar devaluation, contracts with gold clauses were invalidated. If two parties to a contract agrees that the payments should be protected from currency fluctuations, then that is not the state's business.

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

Also, what part of my post, or any previous posts of mine from way back make you think I don't like competition? I would very much prefer that the federal government goes away, limiting its activities to the common defense (not offense and foreign wars), and let the 50 states compete for businesses and workers. This could be a great economics experiment, to actually see which policies result in the best outcome.

@ 5:02 PM:
"Viking, you talk as if even a single desideratum of the GOP would shift things in a better direction. Name one! F&E do better under democrats! Actually look!"

You seem to think that I consider the GOP better than the Democrats. I think the great majority of congressmen are in it for the consulting gigs and board of director positions that will make them rich after their tenure, and they cooperate with oligarchs of all kinds to stay in their good graces. I also think congressmen have a 70-90 percent chance of being agnostics or atheists based on educational attainment correlations, but those that admit it can be counted on one hand, even Democrats, whose voters are supposed to be enlightened.

@LarryHart:
I don't believe republicans want to reduce spending, they only claim they do. I am no friend of corporate welfare.

Viking said...

Sorry, previous "Anonymous" was supposed to be Viking.

Shane Mallatt said...

There was a lot more to the accusations that the Democratic Primary was rigged than a couple of DWS emails. In fact the accusations of election fraud in the primaries occurred before those emails were revealed. The lawyers for the DNC in the class action suit that was filed have not even bothered to try to dispute the claim that the primary was heavily influenced in favor of Clinton.
Also while I don't think I can "prove" a single vote was changed in favor of W in the two elections that he won, I do find the evidence compelling enough that I think we need to take a long look at the voting machines that are not subject to verification.
I will agree that "rigged" is a loaded term and an overstatement; but one way or another unless the Democratic party can find a way to mend their fences they will continue to lose elections.

Viking said...

LarryHart said:

"That's ridiculous. Who do you think is going to force your kids to work that debt off? We've had a national debt pretty consistently since Alexander Hamilton's day, so if the slavery thing hasn't happened yet, maybe that's not how things work."

I don't think the debt/GDP ratio trajectory is sustainable. I can see us in the medium future paying lots of taxes just to cover interest in the federal debt. A significant fraction of total US government debt is short to medium term, in the event of a big interest rate increase, the frequent rolling over of treasury notes could increase the average interest rate rapidly.

https://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/rates/pd/avg/2017/2017_06.htm

For the next five years, the expected interest cost is expected to double, and these numbers don't include unforeseen events that are possible, like an eventual lack of trust in USA, that would increase the interest rates, or a recession, which would increase the near term deficits:

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/budget_interest_gs.php

LarryHart said...

Viking:

I don't believe republicans want to reduce spending, they only claim they do. I am no friend of corporate welfare.


That's a point. What they want to reduce is taxes, especially on the wealthy. They don't mind borrowing and spending as long as they're the ones in power. When Democrats are in control, then suddenly the national debt is the most urgent threat to our future that it has to be dealt with right now! The problem is that some of their voters don't understand the whole "We've always been at war with Eastasia" thing, and so they still think the national debt is a bad thing even when Republicans are in power. So those voters expect Republicans to cut spending. It hurts their brand when they fail to do so.


LarryHart said...

Viking:


I don't think the debt/GDP ratio trajectory is sustainable. I can see us in the medium future paying lots of taxes just to cover interest in the federal debt.


I used to feel that way too, but I finally stopped crying wolf because it wasn't happening. You might end up being right some day. I doubt it will be as quickly as you think, though.

Even so, there's a lot of difference to play in between "There is such thing as too high of a debt/GDP ratio," and "Anything above zero is the moral equivalent of slavery." You asked about compromise--what about "something between zero and a too-high ratio"?

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

The interviewee was only pointing out the difference between the commonly-held views in Europe vs. the US. There's no "no duh" assumption in there, in spite of the knee-jerk reaction of our faux rancher and all his non-sequiturs.

I have argued here on many occasions that any source of power - be it government, business or religion (or office-holders in the local knitting club) has huge potential for abuse. On one side of the Pond they take business as the greater evil, on the other it is government that is seen as the greater evil. There is a certain irony in that, given that the war that defeated Fascism happened mostly in Europe (I'm not ignoring the pacific theater or China, but they are not relevant to this irony), yet they have at least marginally more faith in government institutions than businesses, while here we have suffered the ravages of bloated robber barons for quite some time and yet tend to point fingers more at government.

I'm not impressed with your "death committee" argument. Rationing healthcare does not mean choosing who will live and die except in cases of extreme malfeasance - something we see with private insurance consistently, though less so since the ACA did away with disqualifying people for pre-existing conditions. If someone wants to get botox or a butt lift, let them pay for it. If someone's life is seriously at risk, or their productive life, then that might be something worth considering a community issue, for the same reason we have public fire protection. Ever since Pudding Lane it has been pretty clear that the "fuck 'em if they're dumb enough to catch their house on fire" laissez-faire attitude causes more harm from the actual damage and loss of life than good in terms keeping people on their toes. I had a friend who needed breast-reduction surgery because the weight was damaging her back. Her health insurance insisted it was an elective procedure, and changing health insurance wasn't possible because it was a pre-existing condition. Eventually her back was so messed up she couldn't work. But hey, that's the free market! Oh, but I suppose since I am a peasant my experience isn't good for much. Anyone who isn't smart enough to claw their way up to the 1% isn't smart enough to take seriously.

Nothing wrong with profit motive, as long as no one is allowed to be destroyed by the greed of more ruthless and well-born people. Make all the profit you like selling Legos. You are making assumptions again...

LarryHart said...

An interesting take on the free market/health care issue, from the inside.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/10/opinion/health-insurance-free-market.html


...
Most dismaying for me as a physician is that after all of my attempts to apply my compassion and training to save their lives, all three of these patients told me some variant of: “Thanks for what you’re doing, but I would rather that you hadn’t.” Even the man with the brain bleed, who certainly would have died without our immediate intervention, expressed dismay. In the neurology intensive care unit, with a bolt through his skull to measure the pressure around his brain, he told me that while he did not have health insurance, he did have life insurance. He said he would rather have died and his family gotten that money than have lived and burdened them with the several-hundred-thousand-dollar bill, and likely bankruptcy, he was now stuck with.
...
Imagine Verizon sending you a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars (roughly the cost of the medical care of the patient with the brain bleed who required an emergency neurosurgery and prolonged I.C.U. stay) and then telling you, “We called you to offer you some extra services. You didn’t answer the phone because you were in a coma, but we guessed that you’d want them, so we went ahead and added them on and charged you for them.” Clearly you would be outraged.

So why does this happen with health care? The answer is that we don’t truly believe in free-market medicine. We know that in an empathetic and caring society, life is valued above all else, especially when the life in question is in the most helpless condition possible. Deep down inside, we all intuitively know that health care is not a free market, or else society would not allow me to routinely care for people when they are in no position to make decisions for themselves.
...

Jonathan Sills said...

I have to agree with Alfred on one point - much fanfic *is* terrible. Even on my beloved Star Trek Online forums, for every Shevet or StarswordC there are at least three Hawkg000s or PatrickNgos (although really my only objection to Patrick is his casual disregard for standards of punctuation or spacing - given an editor, he would make some really cool alt-universe STO fic).

Yes, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a definite exception to the rule - I've even stolen a quote from one of the early chapters for my Facebook profile, properly credited of course. But it is an exception. After all, something has to balance out My Immortal, or the entire universe will spin out of balance... ;)

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ Larry Hart

I doubt the press will pursue the matter. She has, after all, become a minor celebrity at this point, and her political career is quite dead.

I think she was dog whistling, but the intent was probably more along the lines of "Lookitme!" rather than a rallying cry for white supremacists.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Larry Hart:
And Edwards' transgression, while loathsome, doesn't rise to the entire tawdry universe that is Trump. Swindler. Stiffs his creditors and smirks while his lawyer intimidate them into silence. "Pussygate" and the attendant attitude. His general behaviour. And now, hard evidence of at least a willingness to collude with the Russians for partisan gain. Edwards had a very big failing; Trump has an entire encyclopaedia of them.

David Brin said...

Viking you slippery dog! You try to worm your way out of a corner by responding with irrelevant non sequiturs.

“Also, what part of my post, or any previous posts of mine from way back make you think I don't like competition?”

Bullshit. You know what I meant. Libertarianism is supposed to be about competition, which is the greatest of all creative forces. (That’s why I deem MYSELF to be a libertarian and speak often at their conventions - though as a radical.)

But your generation of “libertarians” almost never actually _mention the c-word. Because you are fixated on two things: Absolute protection of property, even when it is ill-gotten or warps markets… and hatred of government. Well well, gee wiz. Both of those articles of faith help the new feudalists. What a coincidence!

You know infinite accumulation of property in narrow hands destroys competition, as it did in every other human society. You know that huge wealth disparities wreck competition. And they are now at the levels of 1789 France.
You are being deliberately obtuse.

Likewise: “You seem to think that I consider the GOP better than the Democrats.”

Bullshit again! You know damned well I never said that. You flee to “they’re all the same!” But for 90% of libertarians that means “I will pretend to hate dems and goppers equally, but when I enter the polling booth, I’ll hold my nose and vote GOP because they at least yell as if they hate government.”

Try that bull crap elsewhere, sir. By conflating the DP and GOP as “the same” you are complicit in the oligarchy’s attempt to re-establish feudalism. Which means you are an opponent of enterprise, markets and competition. Period.


BTW Viking. If you actually cared about debt and deficit, you would notice that the 2nd derivative of deficit is ALWAYS negative under democrats. Look at the chart here. (Though clearly you won’t. Dogmatist.)

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

——

Shane M… not only do you have no evidence that a single vote was shifted, I would bet my house you could not in a hundred years show any strong reason to believe the DP primaries outcome was meaningfully shifted in HC’s favor. Indeed, the publicity helped Bernie. Your whining is as bad as Viking’s

David Brin said...


Anonymous, I asked you to “name any renaissance of freedom and Enterprise (F&E) that was spoiled by Rooseveltean civil servants. "

You responded with a specific policy you detested... ending the gold standard. Can you blink and tell the difference between what I challenged and your ("squirrel over there!") response?

Fact, in the wake of the New Deal and WWII, the American renaissance of freedom, prosperity, enterprise and invention took off. It skyrocketed. And you can try to worm your way out with excuses that “WWII left the rest of the world a shambles and left us mighty.” BFD. YOU are still the one who faces a steep burden of proof.

Our rates of growth, entrepreneurship and every other measure of CAPITALIST market health were spectacular under FDR's tax rates. They then declined with every Supply Side tax cut and every weakening of unions and every retraction from the Rooseveltean compact.

Dig it fellah… that is health of CAPITALISM and enterprise and markets and competition -- the stuff you are supposed to like. They declined in PERFECT step with every single measure taken by the oligarchy-serving republican party. Every… single… one.

Enterprise market health improved and deficits declined with every Democratic term. Period. Completely and totally. You deem yourself a smart person, yet you do not care a scintilla about actual facts, actual comparison of actual outcomes, as I do here:

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

donzelion said...

Viking: "I don't think the debt/GDP ratio trajectory is sustainable."
Alexander Hamilton does get some well-deserved credit, but in terms of paying down debt, Andrew Jackson/Martin van Buren (Democrats) and Bill Clinton are major contenders. Kennedy/Johnson also kept debt levels relatively low (actually, almost everyone did until Reagan).

The thing about debt isn't that interest rates grow suddenly, shocking everyone (there are ways of preventing that, actually) - it's that certain people can play off the trajectory of debt and lever up, while others can't. Well-connected insiders can make a fortune off low-interest bonds so long as they stay at a certain level. Any major unexpected movement will dramatically hurt them (hence, the stock market shifts massively on minor news of a rate hike). Hence, their concern with tax cuts, particularly cuts that affect the taxes that hit those living off of dividends and interest payouts (as well as inheritance income, aka 'death taxes').

"the expected interest cost is expected to double"
You will always find pundits projecting both ways (usually at the same time, so they can tout their accurate claim and forget their inaccurate one). But the folks putting money into the market signal a very different expectation right now. They may err, but their expectations matter a lot (that is the market, after all).

Right now, the big fear is deflation a la Japan, esp. since baby boomers are in need of downsizing (escalating health care as their earning/working years end), while Gen Xers can't afford to take over their McMansions (and millenials are still adjusting to $200k debt loads for college, let alone taking on a new $500k mortgages). Since a home is the largest investment most Americans will ever make, the fears are credible. America avoided Japanese style deflation largely because of immigrant workers (and Europe did largely through EU driven immigration) - but when countries close their doors, they create their own problems.

reason said...

I get that Libertarians really don't understand money. They think you can magically transfer spending from one period to another - you can't really (in period 2 you mostly can only consume what is produced in period 2 - there is no guarantee that what you "save" in period 1 will be available in period 2). They think that money is a thing. It isn't really, it is a concept, that performs some magic as long as people have faith in it. I think we create too much money as debt and not enough as fiat (read "Between Debt and the Devil"). I don't like high government debt for a completely different reason that it has to be paid off (if you have your own currency it doesn't actually have to be paid off) but because it promises guaranteed streams of income to the already rich.

reason said...

Oops ... different reason that it ... - should be ... different reason than it ...

Duncan Cairncross said...

I agree with reason - the government should simply create more money as the economy needs it,
This debt malarkey is just a way of the rich to get richer

Paul451 said...

Ooh, are we going to debate MMT in a house full of libertarians? That will be... fun.

--

Shane,
"I will agree that "rigged" is a loaded term and an overstatement"

So what term covers what you are describing, where one group alters the outcome of a contest in their own favour?

People seem weirdly hesitant to use the name-of-the-thing when talking about the thing.

(This is the same as Tim2's admonishments over using the term "traitor" or "treason" when describing people conspiring to undermine their own nation's democracy. If it's not treason, what the hell is it?)

Carl M. said...

Regarding Roosevelt: here we have a typical use of the liberal version of the rhetorical Sword of A Priori Victory: it happened this way therefore that's the only way it could have happened. David implies that we had to have the New Deal in order to get this country to recover from the Federal Reserve caused mega deflation.

This country had already survived a multitude of inflationary booms followed by deflationary busts. Prices were less stable in the 1800s. They just averaged out to zero inflation. (This is one of the arguments for having a different monetary system.) The depression in question was deeper because the Fed allowed the boom to last longer than under the old system, and then the Fed changed policies. Blam!

Anyway, this country recovered from a multitude of prior crashes simply by letting prices fall. This was easier when unions were weak to nonexistent. Wages would be slashed. People would complain. Then they would notice that their low wages went further than expected.

Now with a more leveraged economy deflation is more destructive because fixed interest debt is a form a price control. An economy based more on equity than debt is far more robust against price fluctuations. (Example: the leveraged buyout craze of the Reagan years made many corporations very fragile.)

Now then, proceed to argue the merits of the individual New Deal programs on their own merits.

reason said...

Shorter Carl M.
Lets go back to the middle ages. (I really don't know where to start).

Jumper said...

Now who's taking liberties, comparing the 1800s economy with the 20s - 30s? In any case, people without jobs don't get wages.

I vote with reason and Duncan: debt fears are used as cow prods, usually.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I think she [Sarah Palin] was dog whistling, but the intent was probably more along the lines of "Lookitme!" rather than a rallying cry for white supremacists.


More than anything else, it's telling as to what sorts of phrases are part of her regular discourse. That "fourteen words" would be a phrase she'd drop into a conversation tells us that she uses that phrase a lot.

It's like when Trump re-tweeted that image of Hillary that had the Jewish star on it (the original had anti-Semitic words in the star, but Trump's did not). The noteworthy thing was not that it proved Trump to be anti-Semitic (it didn't), but that it made clear he and his staff were regularly visiting anti-Semitic websites.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

But for 90% of libertarians that means “I will pretend to hate dems and goppers equally, but when I enter the polling booth, I’ll hold my nose and vote GOP because they at least yell as if they hate government.”


What I've found it to mean is, "I'll complain equally about Democrats and Republicans whenever Democrats are in control. When Republicans are in power, I go strangely silent. But you can be sure the next time I'm complaining about Democrats, I'll mention that I also didn't like when Republicans did the same thing. I just didn't say so back then. For some strange reason."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I would bet my house you could not in a hundred years show any strong reason to believe the DP primaries outcome was meaningfully shifted in HC’s favor. Indeed, the publicity helped Bernie. Your whining is as bad as Viking’s.


Since it was my sarcastic quip about the DP being "rigged and fixed", let me say that the Bernie argument is very much like Trump's in that it comes down to "The primary is rigged unless Bernie wins." The fact is that the Democratic Party was about 55% for Hillary and 45% for Bernie. That's an amazing showing for an outsider who never ran for office as a Democrat before, but it's just not quite enough to win. As time goes on, I'm certain the DP will shift more to its progressive side, and a Sanders or a Warren or that sort of Democrat will win in the future, but the time was not yet there.

From a Bernie perspective, it would have been nice if the DP had gone the extra mile and given Bernie every advantage. The fact that they did not is not the same thing as "rigging" against Bernie any more than reporting the inconvenient truth is an attack on the president. The fact that the Democratic Party favored the candidate who was an actual Democrat is not a shock or a surprise.

I was more philosophically aligned with Bernie, but I thought Hillary had better capabilities to win in November. So while I voted for Bernie in the primary, I was relieved when Hillary actually won. In the final analysis, a remarkable number of Democrats voted for Bernie, but more of them voted for Hillary.

sociotard said...

Among the sciences, Astronomy is one of the worst for women of color. https://gizmodo.com/women-of-color-face-a-staggering-amount-of-harassment-i-1796786903

Shane Mallatt said...

Paul 451. I said that rigged is a loaded term because I see it being virtually synonymous with fixed. If one posits that unfairly advantaging one side over another constitutes a rigging then virtually all contests including chess or Go could be considered rigged. And as was just pointed out complaints that a contest was rigged many times amount to whining about an outcome that you do not like. I did not think of myself as a whiner but after Dr. Brin's admonishment I did realize that any time Bernie comes up I tend to post something that likely comes across as sore loser syndrome.

Paul451 said...

Americans,

From LarryHart's linked article:
"Yet being given services without your consent, and then getting saddled with the cost, is nothing like freedom.
[...]
or else society would not allow me to routinely care for people when they are in no position to make decisions for themselves."


Putting aside morality, how is this possible legally? How can a contract with a private entity over services rendered be legally binding if the other party is unconscious?

donzelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donzelion said...

Paul451: "Putting aside morality, how is this possible legally? How can a contract with a private entity over services rendered be legally binding if the other party is unconscious?"

The term is 'quantum meruit" and the textbook case actually is 'if a doctor renders lifesaving surgery upon a person who is unconscious, then that person owes the doctor for that service.' It is a fairly narrow exception to the norms of contract law.

Taking the 'unconscious' in your query figuratively rather than literally, there are variations of quantum meruit, but more often, unilateral contracts operate (e.g., instead of two parties exchanging mutual promises, one party makes a promise and the other 'accepts' and is bound to it - e.g., in a grocery store, the shopper is unilaterally bound to the prices the seller offers, and cannot, for example, switch prices on a display, or eat all the food in the store and then refuse to pay upon exit). The shopper is almost completely unaware that he contracted with the shopkeeper on entry and exit of the shop, yet the relationship of merchant to buyer is contractual. Far more contracts operate 'unilaterally' - and 'unconsciously' than bilaterally/consciously.

Annabelle said...

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

Still.Not.True.

sociotard said...

This one scifi writer wrote about a world where people sometimes hacked news feeds to introduce points of view the target might find uncomfortable. I liked that bit.

In that spirit: Last week, The Atlantic rendered a great service to those of us who contend that America is in the middle of a civil war between the Right and the Left. It provided a smoking gun — actually, the gunshot itself — to those of us who maintain that the Left (never to be confused with liberals) is intent on dismantling Western civilization.

sociotard said...

In all seriousness, I do try to balance my intake of Vox and Five Thirty Eight with National Review and Economist. I hope you do something similar.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "In the final analysis, a remarkable number of Democrats voted for Bernie, but more of them voted for Hillary."

Contrast that with 2008, when more Democrats voted for Hillary than for Obama, BUT Obama still won the primaries, and later, the presidency. 2008 was an exceptionally troublesome year for measuring voting (e.g., Obama removed his name from Michigan, as did the other candidates save Clinton, let alone shenanigans in Florida and elsewhere).

I am not entirely convinced that Russian meddling (including hacking Democratic emails) cost Hillary the 2016 election: more likely, Democrats weren't particularly enthusiastic in their endorsement of her (she's miles better than that other guy, but...).

donzelion said...

Sociotard: While "The Economist" is regarded as 'centre right' in the UK where it is published, in America, it would be 'eclectic left-wing.' Only reason it doesn't draw the same scorn as CNN, MSNBC, ABC-CBS-NBC is because it's (a) British, (b) doesn't have lots of moving pictures, and too much text for most Americans to read, (c) what text it does have is intended for people who are capable of thought - e.g., written for 12th grade level comprehension, rather than 8th grade levels, (d) it allocates massive space to foreign news and events, which Americans seldom care about (aside from wars).

Then again, both Hillary and Obama would be 'rightwing' politicians in the UK (further to the right than Maggie Thatcher), and Obama in particular would have been regarded as an 'ironbooted deporter of minorities' (he authorized 10,000 Syrian refugees? In Europe, they took in MILLIONS of them...but in Trumpist America, that was 10,000 too many...)

Viking said...

Reason said:
"I get that Libertarians really don't understand money. They think you can magically transfer spending from one period to another - you can't really (in period 2 you mostly can only consume what is produced in period 2 - there is no guarantee that what you "save" in period 1 will be available in period 2). They think that money is a thing. It isn't really, it is a concept, that performs some magic as long as people have faith in it. I think we create too much money as debt and not enough as fiat (read "Between Debt and the Devil"). I don't like high government debt for a completely different reason that it has to be paid off (if you have your own currency it doesn't actually have to be paid off) but because it promises guaranteed streams of income to the already rich. "

First of all, I really like your screen name, who wouldn't listen to Reason?

http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=1746

I have an agreement with some of what you are saying, saving for consumption at a later time is tricky when society changes, production capability changes, cost ratios of labor, land and capital change, energy prices change. Also, it is not clear what will be valued in the future. To first order, more government consumption today, will lead to more private consumption later. As you say, bonds must be paid back, sometimes enriching the already rich, which you find distasteful. I don't really agree about that aspect, if I lent money to the US government (buying treasury notes), I could perhaps get 2%, I expect between tax on interest and inflation, I would lose money in an inflation adjusted sense. Also, I don't consider these bonds as safe as most people do. I see buyers of US government debt as retirees and near retirees with risk aversion who are afraid of swings in stock values, other risk averse people and entities, oligarchs in despotic societies that are OK losing a little to inflation, but they don't want their loot looted from them.

donzelion said...

Carl M: "Anyway, this country recovered from a multitude of prior crashes simply by letting prices fall. This was easier when unions were weak to nonexistent. Wages would be slashed."

More a mixture of 'let prices fall' (for lack of any mechanism to influence price in the first place), and 'let the peasants move' (west) - or starve/suffer.

Migration was the national 'solution' to cyclical depressions in America (and migration to America was the 'solution' to depressions in 19th century Europe). Every round of bank failures and bankruptcies sparked human movements.

"People would complain. Then they would notice that their low wages went further than expected."
More modern historians (e.g., Daniel Walker Howe's "What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1915-1848") look to evidence such as the average height of adult Americans, and tease out nutrition estimates. During much of that 'zero inflation' era, Americans became shorter by the middle of the 19th century than they had been at the end of the 18th.

In the North, setting up factories created an alternative to farms; in the South, the farmers simply migrated (or became more deeply impoverished). In the North, the absence of slavery made wages a necessity - wage-based production gradually displaced agriculture. In the South, slavery (and quasi-slavery, e.g., sharecropping/rentier structures) made complaints futile and choked off alternative employment (if one had capital, one applied it to obtaining new slaves and new lands for them to work; if one had no capital, one moved and speculated through cheap land purchases.

donzelion said...

Viking: "As you say, bonds must be paid back, sometimes enriching the already rich, which you find distasteful."

Butting in here, it's not that the already rich get paid MORE for the same bonds, it's that the rich can lever up on bonds in ways the middle just can't (the middle can buy levered funds of bonds, but that's hardly the same, and the results tend to be much worse for them over time). If bonds pay 2%, the rich can lever that up to about 10% fairly easily by taking on extreme risks. So long as someone else pays when those risks fall through, it's 'free money.'

Income taxes may "fix" those risks into place - blocking several of the tricks used to shift the cost of risks back onto those who take those risks. This is why the rich abhor taxes far more than the poor (who also hate taxes, but for a very different sort of reason - with meager incomes by definition, anything cutting into it is a threat to their basic well being).

"I see buyers of US government debt as retirees and near retirees with risk aversion who are afraid of swings in stock values"
More often, pension funds and similar 'institutional' investors, rather than individual retirees. The institutional investors cannot do the leverage game that easily, and cannot do the cost/risk-shifting game at all.

"Oligarchs in despotic societies that are OK losing a little to inflation"
Debtor oligarchs actually WIN in an inflationary environment. Inflation only hurts savers and those living on fixed incomes; the Nixon era claim that 'inflation is a tax that hurts everyone' was always dishonest. But the thing about oligarchs is they can shift to become debtors exceptionally easily - they have access to credit that others do not, and ample means to shift the cost of their debts onto other people. It's one thing when mortgage rates go up, and first time home buyers are unable to buy starter homes - it's something else entirely when you own the mortgage companies and the financial system they operate through, as well as the insurance system - and can extract benefits either way that ordinary people simply cannot access.

Viking said...

First of all, I can sense lots of hostility, but I will try an answer Dr. Brin's accusations against me:

"Bullshit. You know what I meant. Libertarianism is supposed to be about competition, which is the greatest of all creative forces. (That’s why I deem MYSELF to be a libertarian and speak often at their conventions - though as a radical.)"

I have absolutely no idea what I wrote that caused Dr. Brin to accuse me of being against competition. I am very offended by how lack of competition in the generic drug market in USA causes large extra cost of the common man in many cases. I consider this pure rent seeking by corporation enabled by FDA. I have personally bought asthma medicine in Peru that cost around 1% of the cost of generic version in USA if counting cost per microgram. $7 for 200 puffs of 200mcg each. The one percent was based on the cheapest price I could find in USA a few years ago, if buying mail order from abroad, it is somewhat better, but probably illegal:

https://www.pharmacychecker.com/generic/price-comparison/beclomethasone+inhaler/200+mcg&252200+dose/

This seems to be mainland (USA) based:

http://www.drugpriceinfo.com/QVAR-prices

The best price here seems to be ~$160 for 60 doses of 80 mcg. I don't know for sure if the number of puffs is 60, but that is typical for asthma medicines for the US market. This is for a drug whose patent expired years ago.

I am also quite offended by the lack of competition for providing internet access. Here many are complaining about Comcast's price gouging, but not our local government that accepted what is functionally a bribe to grant Comcast the monopoly.

In short, I am against any corporate rent seeking, I do think government is often complicit, for example without FDA regulating generics, I would be quite happy to take the risk of buying a German generic drug without any guarantee from FDA that the dose is accurate, and the contents is the right compound.

In personal life, as an employee in various technology companies, I always ridiculed cowardly acts like growth by acquisition rather than growth by competition, i.e. Compaq and HP, Bank of America & Countrywide.

In short, this characterization of me bears no resemblance to me.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I am not entirely convinced that Russian meddling (including hacking Democratic emails) cost Hillary the 2016 election: more likely, Democrats weren't particularly enthusiastic in their endorsement of her (she's miles better than that other guy, but...).


More likely, we saw a perfect storm. Absent any one of the Russian disinformation, Comey's October surprise announcement, and a few other individual occurrences, Hillary would have squeaked by with a win. Each of those things knocked her down just enough so that collectively, they added up to a loss.

One of those "things" was a campaign that appealed mainly to politically-savvy liberals who worry about long time horizons, but did not manage to excite the average human being whose address is not in California or New York City. That's not the only piece of the perfect storm, but it was one that the Democrats themselves had control over, and I agree that they blew it badly.

Viking said...

Donzelion said:

"Butting in here, it's not that the already rich get paid MORE for the same bonds, it's that the rich can lever up on bonds in ways the middle just can't (the middle can buy levered funds of bonds, but that's hardly the same, and the results tend to be much worse for them over time). If bonds pay 2%, the rich can lever that up to about 10% fairly easily by taking on extreme risks. So long as someone else pays when those risks fall through, it's 'free money.'"

That is called the carry trade, if a bank accepts deposits at 0.1%, and buys bonds at 2%, they can pocket the difference, but they could be sensitive to a run on the bank, as they are using short term deposits to buy long term debt, and there are no guarantees that the deposits will still be there tomorrow. My libertarian view is that anybody with the cash should be able to buy the bank at a very reduced price, if such a run on the bank prevents the bank from paying depositors. This is a ruthless survival of the fittest that would allow the prudent investor to gain greatly at the expense of the speculative financier, in the absence of bailout.

Alfred Differ said...

@David | …nonfungible and insatiable services cannot be handled by just market forces alone, without a level of tragic unfairness that could propel revolution.

Since you plan to talk to libertarians at their convention soon, I’ll offer a counter-argument for your consideration. In a nutshell, I’m arguing that we don’t actually know what you assert. Also, I claim the assertion demonstrates a lack of faith (in the sense of ‘loyalty to’) in our civilization. I know you see yourself as a defender of this civilization, so I’m trying to get you to see the dissonance between the assertion and your well demonstrated loyalty on other fronts.

Let's start by trying to imagine another example where market forces alone aren’t enough without creating tragic unfairness. Security? A libertarian will argue that we can buy that without government and to some degree many of us do. Between gated communities and office buildings with patrols for the parking lots, we manage. Food? Nah. Too fungible… yet we tolerate a great deal of government intervention in order to enforce price stability in the markets. Price gougers are seen as cheaters and deemed immoral, but we like the Rule of Law over lynch mobs, so we tolerate intervention. The best alternate example I can think of for a nonfungible and insatiable service is, oddly enough, the oldest profession. Yet… the market provides even if it has to do so through extra-legal means.

When it comes to medical services, the most insatiable part of demand is ‘access to consumption’. Any particular person buying services isn’t insatiable, though, any more than the guy in the desert who is dying of thirst. The first bottle of water he is offered is with a great deal to him. The second isn’t. The sailing boat captain adrift at sea with no anchor will pay dearly if someone offers him one. He’ll pay less for another as a spare. Access to consumption of goods and services is the fundamental inequality most likely to drive behaviors outside the Rule of Law. The water vendor is at risk of having his good stolen if he charges too much. The people behind the pricing decisions for EpiPens are seriously at risk of having their IP broken by hackers and economic pirates. The consequences of gouging aren’t revolutionary, though. They are more limited and time tested. What the legit market won’t provide, the black market will.

The civilization you defend has both white and black markets. I encourage you to respect them both for what they are and what they do. Tragic unfairness that is enforced by government is what leads to revolution. Tragic unfairness that does not get enforced produces a milder, criminal response. The oldest profession shows this and is the classic example of the lunacy of preventing access to consumption. Your civilization can cope. The loyal response is to let it and then examine the extra-legal means people invent and consider making them legal.

Alfred Differ said...

@Viking | anything other than balanced budget morally equivalent of selling our kids into slavery

Heh. Oof. As a libertarian, I’m not willing to go THAT far. A persistent imbalance might be what you claim it to be and that’s what we have, but it’s not really slavery. Our kids can choose to default and any creditor that doesn’t take that into consideration is a fool. A persistent imbalance creates a future redistribution of income, but default is always, always, always an option.

Have we done this? Nah. We’ve just used inflation to demolish debt positions. It was all the rage for part of the 20th century. We don’t need a balanced budget to defend against that, though. We need to break the monopoly on what is considered a legitimate currency. No one should get to say what is and isn’t legitimate except the people willing to trade them.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

We need to break the monopoly on what is considered a legitimate currency. No one should get to say what is and isn’t legitimate except the people willing to trade them.


Isn't the idea behind legal tender that having a generally-accepted currency makes it more likely that the next person you want to trade with does accept it?

That aside, how does our current system inhibit you from bartering or trading bitcoins or making any deal with another individual that you both agree to. As far as I can tell, all you are forbidden from doing is walk into a store and demand that it accept your bitcoin or quatloos or whatever instead of dollars. I even heard of an artist whose schtick was to draw realistic-looking bills (one side only, so it's not counterfeiting) and trade them (as art) for goods or for real money. IIRC, the government position was that as long as he paid taxes in real money, they had no problem.

matthew said...

Sociotards link to the National Review is more idiotic screeching. The basic premise of the article is that anyone that thinks that Trump was winking at white nationalists is in fact, themselves, the racist. Because anyone that notices racism is the real racist.

What a bigoted, bloated, pile of crap you spew, Sociotard.

It's not racist to note that people of color suffer disproportionately in our nation. It's reality.

It is racist to deny this reality. I don't give a fig for the motivation, it is flat-out racist and evil to deny that America has problems with race.

The stench of right-wing groupthink is getting strong even here, where Dr. Brin likes to pretend he doesn't see it among his fans. And his other fans get pissed at him for occasionally pointing the racism out.

The fact is, Trump has emboldened many to speak the hate that is in their hearts.
Sociotard just linked us to one such. Nice work.

matthew said...

Meanwhile, this.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/11/donald-trump-jr-emails-full-text-russia-rob-goldstone

Viking said...

Dr. Brin said:
"But your generation of “libertarians” almost never actually _mention the c-word. Because you are fixated on two things: Absolute protection of property, even when it is ill-gotten or warps markets… and hatred of government. Well well, gee wiz. Both of those articles of faith help the new feudalists. What a coincidence!

You know infinite accumulation of property in narrow hands destroys competition, as it did in every other human society. You know that huge wealth disparities wreck competition. And they are now at the levels of 1789 France.
You are being deliberately obtuse."

I do agree it is a problem if a small minority owns all the wealth. I did take a look at a recent list of the richest people, and I only see one out of ten that seems to have gained his or her money unjustly, Carlos Slim, that to the best of my knowledge abuses his monopoly power on telephone services in Mexico:

http://itsgr9.com/top-10-richest-people-world/

(Seems like obscure website, I out of principle will not link to Forbes nor visit Forbes due to their add blocking stance, however, the list seems authentic. The forbes gang probably shares the attitudes that Dr. Brin somehow thinks I have))

This list contained owners of any big government contractors like Lookheed, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics etc, I would also consider them oligarchs with ill gotten gains.

Some of these people seem to come from modest backgrounds.

I don't know what is meant by "your generation of Libertarian", however my impression is that there are 3 types of libertarians, the Heinlein ideal live and let live naive person like me, the pot smoker who would sacrifice any and all principles as long as s/he can light up a joint, and the home schooling Jesus freak like Ron Paul.

Out of curiosity, what gini index did France have in 1789?

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.GINI?locations=US-CN-NO

I do have a tenant (family) who is receiving HUD section 8 support, and disability payments. They have a square footage per person that is similar as what I grew up with in Norway, based on the trash which is often overflowing, it appears they are consuming at a higher rate than my family did when I was growing up.

Worldwide, as our host has pointed out continuously, lots of people have been lifted out of poverty, partly due to the US trade deficit. I am curious to understand where it is as bad as France 1789.

matthew said...


And this:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/11/trump-election-integrity-commission-j-christian-adams

Here is a sample quote from J. Adams, “Voter registration takes forethought and initiative, something lacking in large segments of the Democrat base.”

Nope, nothing racist here. Using sociotard's logic, only a racist would think that J. Adams' statement could be considered a racist statement.

Viking said...

Dr. Brin said:
'Likewise: “You seem to think that I consider the GOP better than the Democrats.”

Bullshit again! You know damned well I never said that. You flee to “they’re all the same!” But for 90% of libertarians that means “I will pretend to hate dems and goppers equally, but when I enter the polling booth, I’ll hold my nose and vote GOP because they at least yell as if they hate government.”

Try that bull crap elsewhere, sir. By conflating the DP and GOP as “the same” you are complicit in the oligarchy’s attempt to re-establish feudalism. Which means you are an opponent of enterprise, markets and competition. Period.'

I guess that means I am in the 10%. Since you are claiming the DP is not the same as GOP, how many of them have come out of the closet as atheists or agnostics?

The only feudalists I can see in the western world, are those of high enough status to command a motorcade. And the transportation department people, that are allowed to follow some crazy agenda of converting high utilization car lanes to low utilization bike lanes, making driving a living hell for those of us that are net taxpayers, and actually pay the bills. As a strict egalitarian, it is very puzzling why these insults about wanting feudalism are being thrown my way. Here is a story that warms my egalitarian heart, about Arnold not getting it his way:

http://www.jhunderground.com/2010/03/24/last-breakfast-at-bubbas/

David Brin said...

reason thanks. Keynsians get a bad rep because BAD Keynsians forget the 2nd phase of the cycle. You use govt debt to stimulate in bad times, but then in good times you pay it down! Clinton did that, Jerry Brown in California has a tight choke chain on the Democratic super majority and hence we may be the best governed entity on the planet.

Bad Keynsians are dangerous. But ALL supply-siders are either maniacs or traitors. Supply Side Voodoo Economics (SSVE) has never once made a successful prediction. Once. Ever. At all. And rational human beings should be able to notice such outcomes, recognizing that SSVE has simply been rape of the nation by cheating proto-feudalists.

Go look at the deficit figure where I illustrate the “2nd derivative” and how it proves that democrats are the responsible ones.
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

No Carl M… you want to tussle over the New Deal as if there’s no burden of proof. You don’t get to worm out of that. Post FDR we had the most spectacular growth of every human desideratum ever seen, by orders of magnitude! The usual cycle of “panics” and economic disasters was wiped out, with a modest inflationary “crisis” caused by Vietnam and a modest bump in 87, under Reagan. The correlations are perfect. Spectacular growth and market entrepreneurship under tax and union structures YOU despise! And all such metrics declined with every single GOP “reform.”

You can claim that correlation is not causation. And fine. That has been the right’s party line for ages. But dig it. Such strong correlations dump the burden of proof onto YOUR LAP!

Armwaved, magical incantations won’t do it, son. They only prove how dogmatically incantatory modern libertarians have become. How utterly detached from Adam Smith and a core fealty to competition… the c-word… you guys now are.

Carl M. said...

"reason" invokes another illogical meme common among liberals: any step backward in any area requires stepping everything backwards -- including electricity.

I must give Obama great credit here: he signed on to repeal one of the most noxious of the New Deal reforms: the insane difficulty in raising capital directly from the public.

BTW: who here has invested in Rayton Solar? If ye care so much about global warming, are you putting your money where your ideals are?

Or do you think Bill Nye is advertising a scam?

David Brin said...

Viking says: "The only feudalists I can see in the western world, are those of high enough status to command a motorcade."

Yep that's true and it is brave of you to openly admit your perceptual defect like this. Yes, it is clear that's the only feudal tendency that you see.

Of course that shows utter blindness and hypocrisy, but admission is the first step of recovery.

So-called "libertarians" who ignore the crucial facts are hypocrites:

- that freedom and enterprise (F&E) had one major enemy across 99.99% of human history: "feudal" or monarchical or priestly domination by narrow owner-elites, who suppressed F&E and competition every single time.

- that humans will cheat, when they can, and cheating destroys flat-fair-open competition.

- that Adam Smith spoke of competition and denounced feudal cronyism and cheating. He barely mentioned socialism as a threat and spoke highly of using civil servants to counter owner elites.

- that you randians have been cozened away from realizing any of that, or (hardly) ever even mentioning the c-word. Instead you rail against civil servants as the only conceivable threat to F&E! And unlimited personal property is gooooood! Even though it is associated with cheating and destruction of F&E in every... single... human... civilization... that... ever... existed.

Fools or hypocrites. Or both.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Do you suppose I can pay my taxes in Euros? It is real money, right? Try it. See what happens.

The old argument for a single currency made sense based on transaction costs. If I offer to buy lunch in quatloos, the supplier has to be able to trade them easily. This was a non-trivial problem in the days before the internet. Nowadays, prices could be quoted and converted using spot markets, but there are a number of legal hurdles that continue to make this unattractive in the US.

You WILL see broken monopolies in a number of developing countries where informal currencies are displacing national ones. Even ‘minutes’ of cell phone service can be traded like money with a long range predictability for the inflation rate. Government policy could try to force one minute today to mean 59 seconds next year, but no one has tried that yet. 8)

Bitcoin can’t do everything no matter how much it is loved by the libertarians. Try using them for futures contracts and you’ll see the problem. You need a trusted escrow agent who knows the identities of each party in the transaction. This agent is vulnerable to many pressures including government enforcement of financial rules that favor a national currency. The long term solution will likely use something like Bitcoin for cash transactions and a basket of other ideas for contracted ones.

Paul451 said...

Viking,
"I see buyers of US government debt as retirees and near retirees"

{laughs} Unless you mean the SSTF and state employee pension funds, then no. Private retirement funds make up less than 3% of holders of US Treasuries. Mutual funds, which includes many self-funded retirees, makes up around 5%, though most MF customers are institutional buyers.

The US government is the largest holder, then foreign governments (Japan, China, Ireland, Brazil, in that order), then the Fed Reserve Bank, then mutual funds, then state pension funds, then banks, then private pension funds, then insurance companies.

And lastly, US Savings Bonds, which are down in the rounding off error.

The Fed Reserve's $2.4 trillion in Treasuries was bought with imaginary money, so when they want to raise interest rates (say to control inflation, in about seven to ten years if the 10-30yr yield rates are any guide), they can just give them back to the US Treasury and dissolve the debt.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | Do you suppose I can pay my taxes in Euros? It is real money, right? Try it. See what happens.


Ok, I should have said "real dollars". Sure, the government is requiring you to use a particular currency for paying taxes, but they're a party to the transaction, so they can do that, even in your construct.


The old argument for a single currency made sense based on transaction costs. If I offer to buy lunch in quatloos, the supplier has to be able to trade them easily.


That was my point entirely. It's not so much that the government forces you to trade in dollars and that the government insures that dollars are easily converted to actual value.

Ok, I see your point if you don't want to accept dollars, and you're pretty much forced to.


This was a non-trivial problem in the days before the internet.


So was hacking elections. :)

Serious point, I'd hate to be unable to trade because of denial of service or other such interruptions.

You WILL see broken monopolies in a number of developing countries where informal currencies are displacing national ones. Even ‘minutes’ of cell phone service can be traded like money with a long range predictability for the inflation rate.


Yeah, I can see that. Anything that has value to a critical mass of humans and that doesn't degrade with time or distance can be traded, even by those who aren't end-users themselves (cigarettes in prison, for example).


Bitcoin can’t do everything no matter how much it is loved by the libertarians. Try using them for futures contracts and you’ll see the problem.


I'm not a bitcoin advocate. I don't understand those who think it can be both a stable store of value and an investment that appreciates over time.

donzelion said...

Viking: "This list contained owners of any big government contractors like Lookheed, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics etc, I would also consider them oligarchs with ill gotten gains."

I believe that's a typo, "this list contained NO owners" - closest would be Page/Oracle (not exactly a government contractor, but his products power quite a few government databases), and Slim, whom you've already mentioned.

"I am against any corporate rent seeking, I do think government is often complicit, for example without FDA regulating generics,"
The government does play a role, often less than helpful, but cheaper German (or Canadian, or even Peruvian drugs) reflect far more intrusive government controls (often applying criminal penalties for price gouging in the third world, or universal health care that lowers prices in the 'first'). Regulatory capture is an issue, but market capture (through third party services - insurers, drugstores, etc.) vastly more problematic.

In a free market, to the question, "what is your life worth to you?" the answer is "everything." If sellers refuse to supply drugs at the price you want to pay, they can enforce whatever price they wish and still find buyers. Given the incentives, were doctors to deliberately act as capitalists and charge as much as they could, medicine would always be about extortion ("I see you're in pain...how much would it be worth to you for me to stop it?") - hence, most of the world removed market incentives to the extent they could from the entire field (just as they did from military service - we don't want our troops to ask, "How much is it worth to you for me to follow that order and put my life in danger?").

As for feudal lords...it's not unlike those 3d images that you have to 'defocus' your eyes a bit and stare before they snap into focus. However, look at every 'government' action you've ever seen that annoys you, and look for the 'rather hidden, but hardly invisible' hand operating behind it. Once you get in that habit, you'll see a small handful of folks using the government to advance their own ends, one way or the other - and then blaming a 3rd party for the oppression that never fails, somehow, to make them richer (usually at your expense).

Viking said...

@Paul451

I was responding to:

" I don't like high government debt for a completely different reason that it has to be paid off (if you have your own currency it doesn't actually have to be paid off) but because it promises guaranteed streams of income to the already rich."

My response (to Reason) was that the motivation for buying treasuries is a wish to avoid volatility, it is not an investment, and as such, I was outlining some motivations for owning treasuries, I was not intending to describe who owns what fraction of treasuries, and my argument that treasuries are not a good investment does not depend on who owns it.

If the Federal Reserve literally gives their treasuries to the US treasury, that would amount to monetizing the debt. We are not that far gone yet, but it would be quite interesting. On the other hand, redeeming the treasuries at the expiration dates, and thus taking the money out of circulation would be a strong protection against inflation!

sociotard said...

Sociotards link to the National Review is more idiotic screeching. The basic premise of the article is that anyone that thinks that Trump was winking at white nationalists is in fact, themselves, the racist. Because anyone that notices racism is the real racist.

Noticing racism =/= speculation that Trumps speech was winking at racists. I would say that the point of his article was that the 'reading between the lines' to find racism indicated that Leftists are using the brand of racism as a weapon in a civil war, not to actually help alleviate racially-based suffering.

It's not racist to note that people of color suffer disproportionately in our nation. It's reality.

It is racist to deny this reality. I don't give a fig for the motivation, it is flat-out racist and evil to deny that America has problems with race.


I concur. As the article did not say racism was gone, I suspect the author would concur. But was this particular charge of racism accurate, or just mudslinging?

Play a game with me. Which of these statements about championing Western Civilization is from Donald Trump in his Warsaw speech, and which came from David Brin's blog? On which statement is it easier to read racial bias?

1) A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe, and they know that.  A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world. One hundred years after the entry of American forces into World War I, the transatlantic bond between the United States and Europe is as strong as ever and maybe, in many ways, even stronger.  
This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism.  But today we’re in the West, and we have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life.  You see what’s happening out there.  They are threats.  We will confront them.  We will win.  But they are threats.
. . .
the West will never, ever be broken.  Our values will prevail.  Our people will thrive.  And our civilization will triumph.


2)Likewise, today we are transfixed with what I forecast in 1989 to be our next major adversary -- not so much a particular nation or superficial dogma, but one brand or another of cultural machismo. One of the hot-belt cultures, that have long revolved around male-dominated memes, tribal loyalties, deeply suspicious religiosity and prickly, short-tempered pride.
Back in that 1989 speech and essay, I predicted that one of these memic realms would have to dig in and resist - often violently - the cultural changes threatened by Western influence. Especially the influence that our culture might have on their womenfolk.
I suggested, then, that it would likely be some of the Islamic macho nationalities, that led a violent and angry rejection of neo-western values. But I left open the possibility that Latin or Hindi versions of machismo might lead the way, instead. In any event, we do seem to be in the full flux of that era, exacerbated by our own leadership’s counter-productive strategy of pouring gasoline on every fire.


To repeat: Racism is real, and I'm not saying it isn't When we try to understand 'the other side', we should be open to the idea that they are motivated by racism. We should also be open to the idea that they aren't. When the Left wing is too ready with the assumption of racism, they turn a necessary tool into a weapon, and the tool is made less useful.

donzelion said...

Paul451: "The US government is the largest holder"

If you're referring to intragovernmental debt, yes, but when a government agency maintains its operations to pay costs, it is technically a 'buyer' of debt - but not like any other buyer one imagines. The Social Security Trust Fund buys debt, since where else would they put 3 trillion bucks? The OPM Retirement fund, Military Retirement fund, and most other government trust funds also buy US debt (again, where else to put their money)?

The "foreign" debt - about $6.5 trillion, or about 1/3 of the total debt - likewise is often held ultimately in foreign government 'trust funds' or 'social security' funds. Many of those operate somewhat like America does, ultimately channeling that debt through their own pension funds to finance operating budgets.

It's not that 'mom and pop' hold the debt personally, or that mutual funds sell the debt to 'mom and pop' investors - it's that the entire structure of retirement depends on debt financing. Not quite Viking's view of 'retirees buying debt' - but a world of difference from government's 'buying debt.'

For the super wealthy, when a buyer can leverage debt to increase payouts, they care much more about the direction debt moves (any slight vacillation in direction creates massive harm to their holdings) and slight tweaks in the bands of movement. This is a massive market, driven largely by tax avoidance: if one has assets that increase more than $100m / year in value, one still wants as low a (taxable) 'income' as possible (rather, they'll take on new debt to pay current expenses and disguise their income).

locumranch said...


"Our kids can choose to default and any creditor that doesn’t take that into consideration is a fool", argues Alfred, including the opinion that "default is always, always, always an option". So why don't we default on our purported obligations? We don't because contractual breach implies certain forfeits, adverse consequence & the threat of force. The threat of Force. It's the giant white elephant in the room. Always there, always lurking.

Specifically, this is where Matthew errs when he argues "that people of color suffer disproportionately in our nation".

Firstly, his attribution of 'disproportionate suffering' to specific races is racist in & of itself, insomuch as 'racism' is defined as "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races".

And, secondly, Matthew invokes the threat of Force by implying contractual breach.

Well, screw him & the socially progressive horse he rode in on!!

The claim of 'disproportionate suffering' no longer applies.


Best

Viking said...

@donzelion:

I misplaced my "If"!

"If this list contained owners of any big government contractors like Lookheed, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics etc, I would also consider them oligarchs with ill gotten gains."

Your point about "what is your life worth to you?" is a good one, and it is often reflected in drug prices, where the customer pays based on the number of days, but not based on the dose. Consumers are perfectly capable of cutting a pill in two pieces. But I believe you are perfectly correct in picking up the meme of pricing drugs based on how the customer values his or her life. It seemed to be that way for the recent Hepatitis C drug, where the US cost is $500 to $1000 per pill, for a total cost of 45K to 90K for a cure. But it still is more cost effective than a liver transplant, but probably less cost effective than flying the patient to France for a liver transplant.

When a supplier switches from delivering a product to delivering a service is often the point they will try and push such a pricing model. It smells fishy to me immediately when I notice.

Jumper said...

What would a lifetime of internet cost without monopolization? More or less than $33,000 per person?

Paul451 said...

Alfred,
"If I offer to buy lunch in quatloos, the supplier has to be able to trade them easily. This was a non-trivial problem in the days before the internet. Nowadays, prices could be quoted and converted using spot markets"

Jesus, you really do belong to a different species.

There are people in US cities who can't get access to basic banking services, like cheque cashing, and you're talking about them becoming online currency traders in order to buy lunch.

Viking said...

Dr. Differ and locumranch:

""Our kids can choose to default and any creditor that doesn’t take that into consideration is a fool", argues Alfred, including the opinion that "default is always, always, always an option". So why don't we default on our purported obligations? We don't because contractual breach implies certain forfeits, adverse consequence & the threat of force. The threat of Force. It's the giant white elephant in the room. Always there, always lurking. "

As I commented before, I don't consider a US debt default as unlikely us the mainstream does. Dr. Differ points out that default is possible, therefore the debt is not slavery, and locumranch mentions consequences of default.

Given our present strength, violence is not a likely consequence, but a balanced budget is. The day we defaulted, we would immediately have to switch to a pay as you go model, like Bill Clinton did during his government shutdown.

That is the main reason for avoiding default, it would be a headache to actually prioritize what we really need, rather than kicking the can down the road.

LarryHart said...

Viking:

That is the main reason for avoiding default, it would be a headache to actually prioritize what we really need, rather than kicking the can down the road.


Caveat emptor, I'm no economist. But I believe that a cut-back of government spending to levels it could afford if it were a family on a budget would immediately cause massive unemployment and a new Great Depression just by shrinking the money supply. In that sense, we're kinda stuck on the treadmill we're on. Or to quote (as close as I can from memory) Mustapha Mond in "Brave New World": "Before the wheels started turning, there were one billion people. Now, there are two billion. And if the wheels ever stop, the survivors won't have time to bury the dead."

David Brin said...

sociotard, bull. I predicted - accurately - that certain MEMES — and not races - might propel macho societies to wage war against us, out of zero-sum thinking and especially out of fear that their women may become like our women, confident equals. You are grasping at straws.

Viking: “"If this list contained owners of any big government contractors like Lookheed, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics etc, I would also consider them oligarchs with ill gotten gains." “

Oh, but never ever will he mention the enemy of 6000 years. inherited wealth and privilege that ensures aristos children won’t have to compete with bright children of the poor. Mention THAT? Never!

Paul SB said...

Annabelle wrote,

"Still.Not.True."

- Got proof?

Argument by assertion doesn't go far with smart people, and though I don't agree with everyone here all the time, it's clear that most of our regulars have more between their ears than simple conformity.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Paul SB said...

Having an advanced degree in the study of humans, this is a little hard to just shrug at:

"the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races"

Actually, the first half of this is not racism, it's racialism, which is just the belief that separate human races exist. They don't. I'll refer you to the American Anthropology Association's Statement on Race from 1998.

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic888771.files/aaa_statement.pdf

The second part of that statement, about assertions of superiority/inferiority is what racism is actually about. It sounds a little counter-intuitive that people can be prejudiced against something that doesn't really exist, but what we are talking about is making an artificial distinction and treating it as if it were real (reification error, at best).

The claim that Matthew is racist simply because he points out racial disparity is a level of obfuscatory bullshit we have seen from our faux rancher many times before.

I have to say I share Sociotard's opinion on the overuse of the term. "When the Left wing is too ready with the assumption of racism, they turn a necessary tool into a weapon, and the tool is made less useful." In some cases it does more harm than good. I have heard a number of people who decided to vote for President Grope specifically because of the "deplorable" appellation. They believed that neither they nor their friends and family were racist, but being tarred with that brush for even considering an alternative to Clinton pushed them into the Grope camp. Likewise I once had a coworker get rather miffed when I posted something on FB about racism in the Republican agenda. She insisted that not all conservatives are racists. My response was that only about half of them are, but that's a hell of a lot better than when we were young.

This is not to downplay the importance of racism in society, but I strongly suspect that if class were more equal, race would become much less pronounced a factor - and the same applies to sex.

Viking said...

@Dr. Brin,

"Oh, but never ever will he mention the enemy of 6000 years. inherited wealth and privilege that ensures aristos children won’t have to compete with bright children of the poor. Mention THAT? Never!"

I think you're confusing me with somebody else. I am egalitarian, no fan of nepotism. There has been lots of discussion about Piketty the last few years, but the weakness in his thesis is that the economy is not dominated by a few rich families. He is screaming the sky is falling, but where is the evidence? Gates, Buffet, various European fashion magnates as the world richest are not aristocrats, they are new money. There are people who inherited their wealth, like the Waltons, and the Kock brothers, but the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds are gone, fossils of an older age without any influence that hurts us.

There might be some old money/ivy league connections to investment banking, and I am generally contemptuous of the FIRE economy, as an engineer I consider bankers overpaid monkeys that might need to open their fly if they need to count to 11.

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

My way is live within your means, I am against mortgages, I think the old way when people built their own modest houses in a pay as you go manner were better. We are over consuming housing, and the availability of mortgages has pushed up land prices.

Alfred Differ said...

Paul451,

I used to work in the banking sector and I'm keenly aware of that problem. I think it is a worse problem than lack of access to good medical services since it is possible to be healthy for much of one's life. I get quite upset at how some are shut-out.

Don't fret about the education needs of your lunch partners, though. IF they have access, the AI's will do the work for us.

It's just that I've thought deep about this part of our future. We MUST have access to financial markets with full powers even if we are ignorant louts. We simply must make this happen or people will be ground under and lost to our civilization. It ain't gonna happen if you can't trade on your own reputation.

Alfred Differ said...

oops. Moving onward now. 8)

David Brin said...

Viking is doing it again!! This time he claims “I am egalitarian and no fan of nepotism.” Then he proceeds to deny that skyrocketing inequality and the gathering of vast influence and toxic wealth accumulations in narrow clades simply doesn’t exist.

You know that you have to be egalitarian and to hate nepotism. Ayn Rand sidestepped the whole issue by one simple means… none of her Galtian characters reproduced! Not one of them, in any book, in any way shape or form. And thus she could wave the problem away, as do you,

Notice what Viking does. He claims that because the new money guys are richer, that means theres no inherited wealth problem! Yippee!


Bull. There is vast inherited wealth. Why do you think the top GOP legislative priority is to sneak in an end to the Inheritance Tax, which is by far the fairest tax of all and the one that no family need ever pay!

Sure Gates (born moderately wealthy) and other (mostly) self-made tech billionaires are richer - slightly - than the Walmarts and Kochs and Murdochs. The latter still intend for their children to be kings and lords and to have vast, unfair advantages in a market place that should be flat-fair-open.

And you keep weaseling and worming and worming and weaseling to avoid facing the fact that in 99.99 % of human societies that had agriculture, unfair family advantage by owner-lords was the norm, and they cheated like mad and used their wealth and power to ensure that flat-fair-open competition would never happen.

Let me repeat that paragraph, so that you cannot worm around it: In 99.99 % of human societies that had agriculture, unfair family advantage by owner-lords was the norm, and they cheated like mad and used their wealth and power to ensure that flat-fair-open competition would never happen.

It was the great enemy of Adam Smith and of the American founders, who seized 1/3 of the land in the former colonies and redistributed it to start the great American middle class. It would be the great worry of any honest and sapient “libertarian” who deserved the name! But instead you cultists suck up to your lords at every turn.


ANSWER in the next thread...

onward

onward

Howie Beil said...

This is my first time visiting this blog. That said, a friend recommended I read this post along with Solnit's “THE LONELINESS OF DONALD TRUMP.” I did; five times. And the results are in:

1. It takes first place in the amount of Hyperbole (capital H) one has ever written in a biography (which it purports to be).

2. Solnit's article fell short by not including the word “bombastic.” It used to be an enormously popular description of Trump but has since fallen out of favor (due to overuse it started sounding banal and began reflecting poorly on all of the talking heads and their “panelists” who used it). However, her article did manage to use the description “buffoon” (twice, and for that Tosh and I thank you).

3. It reads like it was written by an armchair psychologist who watched too much Dr. Phil.

Of course, I could be wrong about the above but let's hear from Ms. Solnit about it. Anywho, thanks for listening.

Howie