Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Daggatt Dare: prove your pessimism!

I'll chime in - at the end - with my comments on the New Hampshire Primary. But first ... Seattle Venture Capitalist Russ Daggatt is big on competitive enterprise.  So why is he – along with nearly all of the tech mavens and moguls – a democrat?

Results. Outcomes that can be measured and compared, and under which Republican governance has proved an utter disaster for market economies and the United States, while most metrics improved markedly across both the Obama and Clinton Administrations.  

This plus the blatant truth that – were he alive today – the oligarchy-hating founder of modern market economics, Adam Smith, would be a democrat, too.

I go into comparison of outcomes in my own way elsewhere

But let’s give the floor to Russ, whose long list of statistical comparisons bears no overlap at all with my own!  And yet his scan reaches the same conclusion. If you want market economies to fail and if you are truly suicidal, for the sake of wrathful dogma, then you should vote republican. 

Now, over to Russ Daggatt’s missive:

== The Daggatt Dare ==   

What's incredible is this apparently widespread sense of dissatisfaction. I attribute it to the relentless right wing media Wurlitzer, on one side, and cowardly or cynical Democrats, on the other side.  Whatever the cause, it really is long overdue for some of to speak up and tout the extraordinary success of the Obama presidency. (The Reagan presidency was far less successful and was scandal ridden. But Republicans and their alternative media spent decades spinning it into a legendary success.)

Let me take the obverse of David Brin’s challenge to Republicans to cite any meaningful metric that improved under Bush.  Name any meaningful metric that got worse under President Obama:

When President Obama took office, the economy was declining at a 9% rate and shedding 800,000 jobs a month and we had a $1.4 trillion deficit. Since then, the U.S. has experienced the strongest recovery from the Great Recession of any major industrialized country. In fact, we are the locomotive pulling the rest of the world ahead.

The Recovery Act, in addition to boosting aggregate demand, spurred 45 states to undertake reforms to their education systems. It prompted doctors and hospitals to shift to electronic medical records and provided $90 billion in funding for green energy sources. The portion of the stimulus that lent capital to unproven clean energy firms (which came under withering assault from Republicans, who relentlessly touted the failure of Solyndra, just one firm out of scores that received loans) is projected to earn taxpayers a net $5 billion. Thanks to public investment in the U.S. and abroad, solar energy has undergone revolutionary growth, with capacity growing 130-fold since Obama took office.

Oh, and here is some great data on the revolution in renewable energy under President Obama.

President Obama saved the U.S. auto industry (and with it, millions of jobs) which just set new sales records in 2015. At the same time, new (CAFÉ) regulations that were blocked for 25 years by the GOP are making autos cleaner and more energy efficient, saving drivers billions.

After losing 463,000 private sector jobs during eight years under Bush, we have had a record 70 consecutive months of private sector job growth (beating the old record of 51 months), adding over 14 million new jobs. (And during that time, part-time jobs and minimum wage jobs have actually declined. Which means that more than 100% of the new jobs have been full-time jobs paying more than the minimum wage – despite the minimum wage going up under President Obama.) Unemployment has fallen in half, from 10.0% to 5.0%.

Inflation over the last 12 months has been 0.6%. (The core rate, excluding food and energy, has gone up 1.4%.) Under President Obama, we’ve had the lowest inflation in 50 years. The dollar is up 15% under President Obama (after declining 20% under Bush).

The federal deficit was $1.4 trillion when President Obama took office. It was $439 billion last year – a decline of more than two-thirds. -- But the more relevant metric is the deficit as a percentage of GDP, which peaked at 9.8% as President Obama took office. Last year it was 2.4% - a decline of more than three-quarters and lower than its average over the last 50 years. It is now lower than the nominal growth of GDP, which means total federal debt is declining as a share of the economy.  In other words, much the same as happened under Bill Clinton.  So who are the responsible ones?

(Brin aside: see my own simple chart revealing the Second Derivative of Deficit Spending and how blatant it is that democrats are vastly vastly and vastly more fiscally prudent than republicans. Refute my chart if you can! )

The number of Americans without health insurance has declined by 17 million or more, and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act health care costs have increased at their slowest rate since records have been kept.  Oh, and by the way, what is your gripe again, Republicans? Obamacare started out as your own… damn… plan.

The S&P 500 has more than doubled under President Obama. (It went down 37% over eight years under Bush.) Corporate profits are at record levels.

Dodd-Frank required that banks hold more capital, derivatives must be traded openly on exchanges, large institutions must separate their riskiest forms of trading, and any too-big-to-fail institution must create an advance plan for systemic failure. The law also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protects customers from financial industry abuses in much the same way as the Food and Drug Administration ensures the safety of our food.  

Granted that Dodd-Frank didn’t go far enough in reducing the too-big-to-fail risk and other financial sector sins. So, replace this Congress to fix that.

Undocumented immigrants in the country have declined from 12 million to 11 million. Net migration from Mexico has actually turned negative. At the same time, in the face of Congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama established enforcement priorities that would allow “Dreamers” who came to this country as young children, and who have no serious criminal record, to stay and work in the country, while focusing limited enforcement resources on criminals and recent arrivals.  Again, and your complaint is…?

(Brin aside: The immigration matter is even more skewed than this. Always (except right after 9/11), republican presidents cut the Border Patrol and dem presidents bolster it, diametrically opposite to their constituent dogmas.  Why?  Find out here.) 

Under President Obama, U.S. oil and gas production has doubled, and we have become the world's largest producer of petroleum products. That has driven down the price of oil, benefiting US consumers while crippling the economies of countries like Russia and Iran.

The cost of electricity generation using wind power fell 61 percent from 2009 to 2015, while the cost of solar power fell 82 percent. These numbers show progress at rates we normally only expect to see for information technology. And they put the cost of renewable energy into a range where it’s competitive with fossil fuels, even at low oil prices.

On the most important long-term issue facing the planet, climate change, President Obama reached a major climate agreement with China, which resulted in the first-ever international agreement by industrialized and developing countries alike to curtail their emissions (an agreement made easier by the revolutionary improvements in green energy, which could allow developing economies to leapfrog straight past the dirty energy stage). The success of this agreement will take decades to measure, but it could well go down in history as Obama’s most significant legacy. He helped jumpstart this historic agreement by enacting new Clean Power Rules that will reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

Under Obama, the U.S. resumed launching climate study satellites that were canceled or sabotaged by the previous administration. You are free to proclaim that his support of scientists is wrong and the House “Science” Committee’s seething hatred of science is appropriate.  But you’d be very wrong.

President Obama took office with almost 200,000 troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the U.S. was bogged down in the two longest wars in its history. Multiple tours of duty of not only active duty soldiers, but also reserves and national guard troops, left our state of military readiness the worst it’s been in our lifetime. Today we have about 10,000 troops in those countries and our military readiness is nearly restored to the 100% level at the end of the Clinton administration. (Does anyone really wish we had still had hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers mired down in the midst of a regional Shia-Sunni intra-religious war?)

In 2008, before President Obama took office, Cheney insisted that we had to attack Iran with Iran only a few months away from a bomb. President Obama & Secretary of State Clinton got pretty much everyone in the world that mattered (including the EU, Russia, China, India, Japan, etc.) to impose crippling sanctions on Iran, which eventually brought them to the table. Not only will we have gone eight years with no Iranian nuclear weapons, but President Obama will leave office with Iran’s nuclear program out of commission for many years into the future. 

(Brin aside: Twenty five tons of enriched Uranium eliminated and Iran’s plutonium reactor filled with cement. Attacking Iran wouldn’t have come close to achieving that.  Moreover even a little rapprochement with Iran let’s us do what Nixon did, by going to China… play Iran and Saudi Arabia off each other, instead of being played.)

President Obama did what Bush only promised but failed to do in seven years: He got Bin Laden. Please repeat that sentence as many times as it takes to sink in. And we have had no major act of foreign terrorism on U.S. soil during his presidency.

He finally ended our pointless 55 year Cold War diplomatic freeze with Cuba. And the Florida Cuban-expat community is gearing up to start businesses that will undermine communism the smart way.

He added over two million acres of Wilderness Area and over 1000 river miles to the protections of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

He reformed the student loan program, cutting out redundant middle men and using the billions of dollars in savings to increase Pell grants. Granted, it will take a new Congress to end the nasty provision that declares student loans to be the only kind that cannot be refinanced.

Oh, and despite 24/7 right wing media hyperventilation for weeks, not a single American died of Ebola contracted in the U.S.

The national abortion rate declined roughly 15% under President Obama. And it wasn't because of increased restrictions in some states - in those states, abortions actually went up (they are the same states that make family planning, women's health services and contraception more difficult to access). If it was just due to restrictions, then you would expect teenage pregnancies and births to increase. Instead, they went down, as well. 

And there is much, much more.

If he was a Republican they would be naming airports after him. An aircraft carrier. But listening to Republicans, you’d think he has been a disaster. It is the centerpiece of every GOP candidate’s campaign rant that President Obama has been a disaster!  Only note the lack of actual statistics. Outcomes. Comparison of results.

== A Brin remise ==

Me again, in awe of how well Russ makes this crucial point, how for your own pragmatic self interest, you should never again allow this generation/type of republicans anywhere near a burnt match, let alone a modern, entrepreneurial economy.  

(There used to be grownup republicans who liked science and facts – I even know some of these relics!  May they be seeds for a restored, mature conservatism, out of the coming ashes.)

I will only add this.  If you look at the zillionaires who are democrats… or else libertarians who avoid the GOP like the plague … you’ll see that these are the tech guys who have actually invested in new products, services, and productive capacity.

How ironic! The ones who are enhancing our economy on the supply side are the ones who despise the tax-tomfoolery-voodoo called “Supply Side Economics” – a GOP religious dogma that never had one successful prediction or positive outcome to its credit.  Ever.

It is the other type of mogul – those rich from resource extraction subsidized off public lands, or from inheritance or rent-seeking or Wall Street manipulation, who invested almost none of their Supply Side tax cut largesse in new, productive enterprise, who spend lavishly instead on cheating, bribing officials and buying elections, with the core aim of keeping Supply Side voodoo alive.

Go figure. Only know this.  Ever more of the smart ones are seeing what’s in their own self interest.  As Joe Kennedy said – (I paraphrase) - when his fellow moguls yelled at him, for supporting FDR:

“If Roosevelt’s reforms make the working class happy and healthy and prosperous, I’ll get to keep half my wealth.  That’s better than clutching it tight, then losing it all in revolution.”


Oh, I promised to offer my comments on the New Hampshire primary... but this posting is too long.  So I will give them below, as the first comment in this thread.  Chime in with your own!  We have a great, lively blog-cummunity (blogmunity?) down there!  Maybe a bit intellectual... ah well.


David Brin said...

My comments on the New Hampshire primary:

1. Every GOP candidate but Kasich has catered to apocalyptic ichor, portraying the nation - which is in vastly better shape now - as teetering at an abyss and the current center-right president as satanic. Assertions overwhelmingly refuted by Russ Daggatt's actual statistics.

Meanwhile can you name an actual policy proposal put forward by any of them? Other that doubling down on more tax cuts for the rich? And disdaining science and every other knowledge profession?

Here's what we learned. That 84% of Republicans in rock-ribbed, sensible New Hampshire (!!) have bought and guzzled that koolaid. Do you start to see why Trump and Cruz are not personally the problem, but symptoms of a poison, and that poison has been shoved into our veins by Rupert Murdoch? The populist, know-nothing rage that Rupert and radio shock-jocks have spread can only have one of two outcomes:

(a) 1933 Germany.... (b) or 1933 America. If millions of white boomers remember that oligarchs are not their friends, and that their parents' favorite person was FDR... then we may have a soft landing.

2. Sure, Bernie Sanders also reflects this tizzy of populist anger in America. Though in his case the ravings are actual policy proposals that aren’t - in themselves - all that worrisome. A bit center-left, though not by any European standards. Mostly take-backs of insane GOP pro-oligarch experiments across the last 25 years. Also note this: even if (God willing) this version of goppers is pushed out of control of Congress, Sanders will not get the socialist thing to any worrisome degree. He'll denounce the blue-dog, DNC dems who will moderate his every bill.

No, my worries about a Sanders presidency are (a) that the Timothy Mc Veigh types will go berserk, and (b) I am watching him closely to picture what sort of commander-in-chief he’d make. Oh, he's stable and sane. Still, to be plain, as of this moment? I’d be more comfortable with Bill and Hill near the phones.

And Bernie reminds me of my Dad. Not a baaaaad thing. Still. I’d vote dem even if they nominate a yellow Labrador, even over Kasich. And this acknowledging that in times past I used to vote for republicans and libertarians, from time to time.

This is not The Republican Party. It is the Confederacy. That name and model fits. It fits vastly better that any other. What’s more is… you know it to be so.

David Brin said...

Note my reply to Tacitus and LarryHart on the previous comment section.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "If millions of white boomers remember that oligarchs are not their friends"

Except the far-right voting block already knows that oligarchs aren't their friends: Trump's voters don't think that Trump is on their side: they think "There's no way any oligarch will sincerely diminish the share of the cake, but this one is basically promising preferential access to the scraps falling from his table to people like me at the expense of these dark-skinned people who aren't part of my social circle". To be blunt, the problem with the far-right crowd isn't that they're angry : it's that they are a collective of would-be Uncle Toms, hoping to be rewarded for their subservience if they choose the right lordling to kowtow to.


* "The McVeighs will go berserk over Hillary as well"

I'd argue that the only thing reliably keeping the McVeighs from running amok in the US is that the federal state
1. Is helmed by people hostile to them
2. Has a lot more fire power at their disposal
And that it wouldn't take much sabotage from a complacent executive to let them pull "price-tag"-style murders with absolute impunity.

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, you don't want Sanders as President because you are friendly toward the Clintons. I'm not sure as to how close you are to them, but you have been their defender and cheerleader for quite a few years now, and you handwave away Hillary's flaws as not worth considering.

Sanders is no worse a candidate to be in charge of national defense than Clinton is. In some ways, he's better because he's far less likely to jump into a conflict at the urgings of the industrial-military complex which has its hooks in pretty much every other candidate.

I say: Let peace have a chance. I suspect you'll find Sanders speaks softly but carries a big stick... but is also willing not to smack people before speaking like most of our presidents tend to do these days.

Rob H.

Xactiphyn said...

I don't trust Clinton on foreign policy at all. She has consistently been one of the most hawkish people in Democratic circles. The Iraq vote was not an anomaly. I'm not worried about Sanders. Who knows, as a Jew he might, maybe, be able to make headway in Israel. (Ok, wishful thinking.)

Sanders' socialism is really just a return to the FDR era of policy making. It looks like the pendulum is finally swinging back from the Reagan error, but still needs a little push.

A.F. Rey said...

The problem for the next Democratic President (assuming it will be Hillary or Bernie or Fill-In-The-Blank) is that she/he will have to deal with a hostile Congress. Even if a Democrat wins the Presidency, I don't see a filibuster-proof Congress getting elected any time soon.

Obama was not successful with handling Congress, mainly (I believe) because he was a community organizer and tried to gain consensus. He also did not know how to handle the constant attacks by the Right.

Hillary, I think, has the experience of dealing with a hostile opposition, far more than Bernie. So I expect that she would be able to accomplish more than Bernie.

Because it doesn't really matter if Hillary or Bernie becomes President--the Republican Right will attack her or him just like they attacked Obama. They held nothing back for Obama; they'll hold nothing back for Bernie or Hillary. Which of them can handle it the best?

David Manheim said...

There is one metric that I know of which got worse under Obama, and it's a bit surprising - total gun deaths are up a bit since 2008, mostly due to increased gun suicides.

Acacia H. said...

So what you're saying is they're going to risk being called anti-Semitic and alienate the Jewish voters (and their money) by going to town against Sanders?

Personally I suspect Sanders will do better with Republicans than you think. Because when Republicans look at him, they see an older white-haired pale-skinned person. Subconsciously they will consider him as one of them instead of the Other - Obama is Other. Hillary is Other. Sanders... has odd politics but looks like many of their own.

This is also why I think Republicans worked with Clinton initially - because he was at that point a grey-haired Caucasian. It was specific elements who ousted Newt Gingrich afterward for working with Clinton... but that initial cooperation still happened.

It will happen again, especially as the power base that destroyed Gingrich is losing control of the Republican Party as a whole.

Rob H.

P.S. - Yes, I did basically call the Republican politicians racists and sexists. But when the shoe fits....

David Brin said...

Rob there is no basis forclaiming I am hostile to Bernie. I do not know him well except from stump speeches. Not from accomplishments or administrative experience. I will support him as the nominee, and I am not the overwrought, over-emotional one, here.

I know folks in the military and industry and while they merit skeptical accountability, they are not the crisis here. They did not want middle east quagmire wars. Oligarchy and foreign meddlers and civil war... if we deal with those we'll be america again. And what matters is giving Hill or Bern a Congress. Chill just a bit man.


Catfish N. Cod said...

"Here's what we learned. That 84% of Republicans in rock-ribbed, sensible New Hampshire (!!) have bought and guzzled that koolaid."

Um, no. Among these people are those who place electing a Republican -- for reasons that have nothing to do with so-called "Confederate koolaid" -- above any details of policy whatsoever. Maybe they still have blind faith in the Establishment to restrain the flaws of a Republican President (amazing, after the candidates elevated 2000-2008, but these people still exist). Maybe they care primarily about the Supreme Court. Maybe a Democrat stepped on their puppy's tail. And maybe they're libertarians (a lot of those in New Hampshire).

Trumpeters, Cruz Controllers, and Carsonites can be fairly said to have drunken Koolaid, though; none of these men, by the standards of normal post-WW2 politics, could be said to have serious hope of winning the election. And they were half the New Hampshire electorate.

That's plenty scary enough.

LarryHart said...


I say: Let peace have a chance. I suspect you'll find Sanders speaks softly but carries a big stick... but is also willing not to smack people before speaking like most of our presidents tend to do these days.

Myself, I'm not concerned about what Sanders will do as president. I'm concerned he might lose to a Republican.

I know that you personally are of the opposite opinion--that Bernie is easily electable and Hillary is at risk. I respect your right to your opinion, but I'm not convinced, and I suggest you have your own biases just as Dr Brin does.

None of us can risk miscalculating and ending up with President Trump, or Cruz, or Rubio, or even Kasich.

Jumper said...

While I think some of these numbers touted for Obama are influenced by the fact we're coming out of a bad recession, such as Mexicans returning to their country because of it, low inflation, and increases in GDP, overall I think Obama has done an extremely good job. He by no means made the depression worse, and it's doubtful what any Republican would have done besides screwing it up badly. I think the move towards normalizing Cuban relations was long overdue, and relaxing the marijuana nonsense and undoing some of the unfair drug sentences, and his Supreme Court appointees also deserve mention.
I am uneasy about the killing of Osama; I would have absolutely loved to have him in Guantanamo and the luxury to slowly pick his brains, or at least to try. But I wasn't there, and can't make much sense of the conflicting stories about that so I let it pass.

David Brin said...

Jumper I am hoping much of the reverse of Mexican migration is due to the rise of a big Mexican Middle Class. That is at least partly true and due to NAFTA and if it is true then it is America's greatest accomplishment and should have always been our greatest goal.

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

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

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

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

Newtronic said...

The reason i would say a pox on both Democrats and Republicans is they both treat future liabilities as Santa Claus. To get specific, look at this graph
which shows that US Debt as a percentage of the GDP is high and going higher. It increased sharply under Obama. He had a chance to fix or improve this situation and did absolutely nothing. The USA is currently at 110 %. Greece is at 160%. At some point, I used to think it was 100%, you hit a tipping point where you can never recover.
So there's your critical statistic that's gotten far worse.

Jumper said...

"high and going higher" With ability to predict the future like that, you should get a job as a magician. Congress should have begun raising taxes on the higher incomes several years ago. It didn't make sense to do that before '12. And the baby boomers going to retirement, well, that's been known for decades, and adjusted once under the Reagan administration. The people who aren't satisfied until all taxes go away (yes, they exist) are a serious drag on overall prosperity.
It's completely plausible to increase taxes, spend more on infrastructure projects we are absolutely going to need, increase wages, and put enough money in circulation that the people who pay more in taxes more than make up for it in increased profits.

matthew said...

Obvious that Newtronic cannot operate the website they linked to (or is lying): it shows exactly what Russ said, that the Federal Debt as a percentage of GDP is dropping drastically. Newtronic, your own link shows your assertions to be false.

Acacia H. said...

Please, Dr. Brin. I don't have it in me to get excited about stuff anymore. It doesn't matter.

My vote means diddly-squat. I live in Massachusetts. It doesn't matter if that Vermin chap with the boot on his head got the Democratic nomination for President, he would still win Massachusetts. So I can safely vote Libertarian and ignore both parties because there is no way a Republican is going to get Massachusetts (except as governor to counter the extremely Democrat state house and senate).

I do not like Hillary Clinton. But I don't hate her anymore. And I've even tried to take an impartial look to determine what it is about her that I dislike and how much of that is a result of the Republican Party's lies. (I think it can come down to how she has treated people. She behaves in a fashion that gets my hackles up, be it from a man or a woman.)

In contrast, I actively hate the Republican Party. I hate how they have convinced so many libertarians that it is better to vote for this increasingly fascist political movement than "waste their vote" for actual libertarian candidates. I hate how they stomp all over civil liberties. I hate how they make politicians on the Democrats look good, because I sure don't like Democrats... but they are the Lesser Evil. Thus I hate Republicans... because they became the Greater Evil.

(Hate being a strong word, mind you. If someone needed a ride on a cold wet day and after I stopped I found it was Ted Cruz, I'd shrug, ask him to remain quiet so I could focus on driving, and just drive. I'd do the same for Hillary, for that matter.)

Oh, and I don't see where in my words above I said you are hostile toward Sanders. My comments on antisemitism was actually directed at Rey, though I've echoed the sentiments in the past. My belief is that you have so long defended Clinton and so admire them for being what the Republican Party should have remained that you dismiss alternatives... including that of an older man who is showing Hillary that she may have a problem with her message, rather than her campaign staff.

Back eight years ago, a young inexperienced politician named Barack Obama angered Hillary and Bill Clinton tremendously by daring to get in way of Hillary's coronation. Well, Obama was inexperienced. He learned fast. Sanders has some more experience going into this pony show... and what truly matters for a Sanders presidency is not what he enacts for policies through 2020.

No. It's his vice-presidential pick. Because I'm not sure if he'll go for two terms. But if he chooses the right VP pick, we could find a good minority politician in a position of strength in 2020 when running against the next Republican pony show. If he manages to keep the youth vote interested? Then we may even see Republicans lose their grasp of the House and Senate - something that a motivated Republican voter going against Hillary isn't going to.

(Seriously. A number of Republicans listen to what Sanders is saying and say "that makes sense!" How many will just stay home, especially if their own choice of Presidential candidate is Trump or Cruz? They will come out to vote against Hillary, however.)

Hillary is the poison pill candidate. Republican voters hate her. I can understand their hatred. They are not so motivated concerning Sanders.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Newtronic you utterly ignore the content of this main blog and the other one about outcomes:

Seriously, are you aware how foolish that makes you look, when the statistics all -- 100% - run diametrically opposite to your assertion?

David Brin said...

The GAO has shown that if the Bush Tax Cuts were reversed, even by just 50%, we'd be back to Clinton era surpluses. Those supply side cuts are what started the debt skyrocket, followed by absurd wars and horrific economic mismanagement/.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Rob, I am familiar with the Commonwealth too (God save it, as Charlie Pierce says). There's nothing I can do about the statewide electoral vote, but it ticked me off how the home of gerrymandering hadn't given it up. So much of state politics, and part of federal politics in the state, revolves around the fact that the Democrats have the state house so locked up that Republicans must be frequently elected to the governor's office not out of merit, but simply to keep the corruption to a reasonable level. It has been twenty-five years since there wasn't a crook in charge beneath the Sacred Cod.

One party systems are toxic, no matter how much you agree with their principles. They devolve.

I can't see how any libertarian could live with themselves voting for Trump. I don't think he is a fascist, personally, but he is the candidate of fascists.

David Brin said...

Catfish right on. Blue states must continue their trend to end gerrymandering so that it becomes solely a confederate crime. And yes, Trump is toying with us. No fascist, he is a grand manipulator having a wonderful time.

Jumper said...

"Gross public debt" includes privately held debt, right? I changed the parameter to Federal debt only and see what Russ Daggett and Matthew see: going down.

Jumper said...
A better debt/GDP chart.
Speaking of gerrymandering, a court just threw out NC 12th Congressional District as racially biased. My district. Mel Watt, who used to be on House finance committees and is now Sec. Trans. was mine, so we got Democrat Alma Adams in a special election. Republicans will re-draw it. It's not certain if they can without losing a seat, but I'm sure they'll try.

RFYork said...

As you note, it is hardly surprising that a large number of Americans thinks things are worse. For over 50 years (remember Barry Goldwater), the Republican right has been telling people that all government, from local to global, is bad. In addition,they have persuaded a huge portion of American people that they can have their cake and eat it too.

We have to go back to the brilliant David Stockman to see how effective this propaganda has been. Like most smart people, Stockman recognized that an overwhelming majority of Americans wanted like things like Social Security, Medicare and other social programs funded by the federal government. And, he saw how the right was constantly attacking these programs. He proposed that the right stop attacking the programs themselves and start attacking the means by which they were funded, to wit, taxes.

As we now know, this has been one of the most effective programs of propaganda in history. Nobody - and, I mean nobody - likes taxes. It is particularly easy to dislike taxes because they do not feed the instant gratification that most people desire. The results of taxes are usually delayed and often abstracted. Until we lose our jobs, welfare and ADC are apply to someone else's needs.

So, between learning to dislike government and paying lower taxes, people have succeeded in getting what they want. Or, they think they have. Things like crumbling infrastructure, underfed children and obscene defense expenses, seem to not affect them. By that I mean. they fail to put 2 and 2 together.

Alfred Differ said...

@RFYork: You’ve tripped my libertarian BS sensor. Though I recognize the strategic shift Stockman pushed, calling it propaganda has some major assumptions I’ll challenge.

Sure… Many people want Social Security, Medicare, and other social programs. That doesn’t mean it is smart to fund them the way we do. Money draws the powers of corruption, so concentrating programs at the federal level creates a lot of risk among those who determine the budgets and the rules. I don’t care how many people WANT these programs. If in their ignorance they do harm to the nation, I have to oppose them enough to suggest alternatives and point out the harm they do.

One of those harms comes from a simple principle. Taxation is a form of theft sanctioned by the majority. Some taxes are better than others. If you own land, you should be helping with the infrastructure that maintains its value. If you live in a city, we can argue you have a moral obligation to fund fire-fighting. Taxing someone by how much they benefit can work and not be TOO onerous, but only if the taxed are able to suggest alternative funding methods that can be tested. If the taxed are a minority of voters, this gets tricky. Taxing a person’s income, though, sends a harmful message most employees can’t face directly. My income is diminished before I even see my paycheck through withholdings. How many people can quote both their before and after tax incomes? How many people base wage negotiations with employers on AFTER tax earnings? Income taxation creates a negative sum force in the salary game we are all playing. It starts as a terrible idea and is made far worse by an obvious attempt to hide it from most salary earners.

Another harm comes about when people think there are no competitive ideas that could displace social programs and provide better service. What sane for-profit company is going to try to compete with the government? If no one tries, though, no one is going to believe it is possible to do better except the libertarian zealots who really DON’T have any evidence to support them. They CAN’T get the evidence if no one believes enough in old school liberalism to try small experiments and incremental changes.

My BS detector went off the most, though, with your last paragraph. You list obvious problems like crumbling infrastructure and under-nourished children and connect them to a lack of funds. You might be right, but I can think of other possible causes that should be examined. How in the world, though, can obscene defense expenses be related? Libertarians will point out we spend too much on the DoD because we’ve given them the scope needed to support an empire. We’ve given them the money to match… from our taxes. Don’t like that? Does it feel like theft yet?

DP said...

Do you have a dirct link to Daggett's essay?

Jumper said...

It's no propaganda that makes people hate taxes. That's almost universal. I don't even see it as theft. It's a user fee. Calling it theft is just rancor.

Alfred Differ said...

@jumper: Heh. I haven't worked up a good libertarian frothing-at-the-mouth in a while. I figure I'm due.

I get that you see it as a user fee. Many do. I'm even willing to see things that way at times. Unfortunately, the number who disagree with you (which includes me on occasion) isn't small and they AREN'T inhuman monsters. They feel they are being violated a bit like one does after a home robbery. It tempts them to play a negative sum game which harms us all. Theft leads to expenditures to protect against theft that aren't really useful investments in the growth of our civilization. A few people may earn a salary making a safe for me, but if I shift money off-shore to those banks David so loves to hate... there you have it.

Arguing taxes are user fees becomes a willful blindness to valid complaints being issued by your neighbors. They deserve some respect and a good hearing at least.

Tom Crowl said...

My problem isn't with the Clintons. My problem is with the financialization model that for political reasons Both Parties have embraced.

It should be obvious that wealth distribution is a function of the balance of political forces within the social body... with all at the top at one extreme and completely level at the other. (all at the bottom is essentially the same as all at the top).

There's a point between those two extremes which is optimal for a nation... (balancing the need for profit motivated innovation against the need to avoid riots).

A nation's monetary system has two components.

1. Fiscal policy: paying the bills, taxes, allocating funds, etc.

2. Monetary policy: interest rates, money supply, setting bank reserves, etc.

Then we come to Keynes and the need for a flexible money supply.

A fiat currency doesn't mean you can print up money for whatever you want! What it means is that the need for currency/credit may increase beyond the supply in a growing and innovative economy.. and to stifle that with (e.g.) a gold standard will stall the economy. Adjusting the monetary supply is a needed tool... but a difficult one to use correctly.

Unfortunately just about everyone's motivation is to use it INcorrectly.

This is why the Fed was made independent of govt control. They were afraid a political body would just keep printing money to placate their constituents. Unfortunately the FED is not independent and unavoidably can't help but reflect the motivations of its member banks.

This leaves us with politicians who want happy voters but don't want to make hard fiscal choices.

Monetary policy is a way out!

Beginning in the early 80's the global economy was changing in fundamental ways. One was that changing conditions meant much manufacturing could be done more cheaply elsewhere... by arbitraging employment.

(continuing below)

Tom Crowl said...

So Trade Deals! These are great. But what may only become apparent in the long run is that they are not great if you're trading paper for goods unless the paper is backed with real world production which trading partners need. But we were relying on the dollar standard (whose erosion may lag by decades behind actual loss of productive output as other former dollar standard nations found out to their great chagrin.

Wages were going to be heading down (or at least not up) and jobs were going to get scarcer in high wage countries.

This was a political problem. People don't like their jobs going away and their wages going down! And living standards going backwards is a huge political no-no.

BUT we had a big advantage: The Global Dollar Standard!

This allowed us to borrow in ways that other countries couldn't... and buy with credit the goods being produced elsewhere to keep our citizens happy.

Greenspan and the political class had a solution which worked well for BOTH: Cheap and easy consumer debt! And helped by the cognitive dissonant conclusion that we'll get new jobs in high tech or financial services eventually!

Cheap credit was more quickly (and surely) profitable than actual productive investment which is the only good reason for fiat monetary expansion.

And a finance solution...avoided the political fight which confronting the real issues would require.

So it was politically better to let the peons fight over social issues keeping everyone on the reservation with one or the other Parties as the process went on.

This was borrowing from the future as a young generation drowning in debt without jobs to pay for it have found out.

It was a solution with advantages for all sides. For a while. As jobs and wages stagnated or left and savings went down consumption could stay up. Its like having your cake and eating it too!

Clinton's Presidency was more fiscally responsible than the Repubs. I give him that. BUT the dependence on financialization (monetary abuse) continued throughout every Presidency from Reagan to Obama.

This is the key difference between Sanders and Clinton: Sanders has a better understanding of this issue.

It comes down to this... It has nothing do with Capitalism itself... but the political failure to anticipate and address what have been obvious and foreseeable social stresses coming with economic changes in the economic landscape and trying to hide it with financial gaming.

Yes... its great that a middle class is growing in Mexico. But don't expect Americans to be happy its dying here.

And I have to admit... that the Clinton's have personally profited so much from this error is really irritating.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Tom

I don't think it was nearly as inevitable as you paint,
As a counter example look at Germany - strong unions and a slightly different financial structure meant that they didn't lose their middle class

So IMHO the problem was the fine tuning around the market system
Massive reduction in top tax rate
Deliberate actions to brake union power
Massive propaganda war on unions and government
Last but possibly the most important, it used to be illegal for a public company to use it's money to buy back it's shares
Now it is common practice - this has probably been the single biggest factor in the lackluster performance of the Anglophone economies

As far as the "independent banks to control money supply" - in order to prevent the politicians from overprinting
That is a variant on the Tyler Calumny - the "Universal Law" that democracies spend themselves to death - as soon as the voters realize that they can vote themselves....

The trouble is for such a "Universal Law" I can't think of a single occasion when that has happened

We managed to frighten ourselves so much about a non existent problem that we handed the levers of power to people who have repeatedly abused those tools

matthew said...

Alfred, if you think taxes are theft, I urge you to find a libertarian paradise and go there. Somalia has actually started charging taxes, but maybe some of the disputed territory in Libya, maybe?

Or, maybe not?

See, that's the problem with the "whole taxes are theft" meme. No libertarians want to go to the places where they could live their lives according to their professed belief. Instead, they want to try and change our system to their own benefit without paying for all that they now receive.

Libertarians make poor neighbors.

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

"Taxes are Theft" leads logically and directly to "Government is Evil," which is exactly the progression that occurred in modern conservatism. The main post offers plenty of statistics that show that conservatism does a poorer job of governance than liberalism. And why should it not? If your main theses are taxes are theft and government is evil, well, then, you purposely will not do as good a job at governance. After all, by being bad at governing, then by conservative and libertarian economic thought, well then, you are doing less evil.

Conservative / Libertarian economic thought leads directly to poor governance.

Anonymous said...

I believe the challenge was to "name any meaningful metric that has gotten worse under Obama."

After some thought the answer is quite clear and obvious.

- The number of Republicans in Congress.

David Brin said...

I wish folks would use "Randian and propertarian, oligarch-sucking versions of libertarianism." There are other versions and they could be allies. E.g. AdamSmithian.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew: Your assumption that A leads directly to B happens to be incorrect. Your brush is way to broad. I self identify as a classical liberal and ally politically with Libertarians up until the Confederates want to do something too stupid for me not to help the Democrats.

A lot of Americans are liberal at heart and lean toward classical liberalism for day-to-day decisions regarding government involvement in their lives. Lots of us would prefer to be let alone as much as is reasonably possible. The devil is in the details, though, and made worse by the fact that taxes can be created with simple majority votes. Some people have moral issues with certain expenditures (pick your favorite political poison here) and some of us have a moral issue with how the money is collected. It is rarely a smart thing to decide moral issues with majority votes.

On top of that, we shouldn't have to leave. You all should be able to find a path that enables us to run our small experiments within the community. We aren't just your neighbors. Some of us are your relatives and co-workers. We want to be able to discuss this without being cast into the same hellish pit within which you think the conservatives belong. We don't want to dictate how you live your life. We want to be able to run our own. That means we have an issue with forced collection of user fees. Can't you imagine a better way? I can.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Matthew, how is it being a bad neighbor to not want your neighbor to be sent off to a foreign country to have his or her body shot up and parts of it blown off? I don't want to pay to send people off to "perpetual war for perpetual peace." I would gladly pay taxes to assist in their medical treatment after they get back, but the government usually won't pay for that.

Victims of those immoral wars are left to pay for their own medical care, if they can get it. If they need pain medications, the government "assists" by putting severe restrictions on the type and amount of pain medications that they can get, thus driving up the cost of those medicines and leaving those victims in a bureaucratic nightmare just getting their prescriptions filled.

Remember that the main motivations for the formation of the U.S. Libertarian political party were conscription, the Vietnam War and the withdrawal from the Bretton-Woods monetary system. Although we got rid of active conscription, the laws are still in place. The Vietnam War was just suspended for a few years then moved to another part of the world to continue on forevermore.

Having lots of blown-apart human bodies to experiment with, field military hospitals have improved to the point that we now have much fewer war deaths and more permanently war-injured bodies and minds.

We still don't have any replacement for the Bretton-Woods monetary system, which contributed to the most stable period of prosperity in human history (1945-1971).

What has always irritated me the most about taxes is the part that goes to the FDA that they use for limiting the free flow of information about medicine and about my individual DNA. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration very nearly killed me, personally, by their restrictions on the free flow of information. I don't want to pay to advance the immense human suffering caused by the drug enforcement arm of the FDA.

Of course, if I had been a bit slower in getting my personal DNA information before the FDA made it illegal, I would be quite dead by now and wouldn't have to pay taxes. Being dead, however, is not being free.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "As a counter example look at Germany - strong unions and a slightly different financial structure meant that they didn't lose their middle class"

As a matter of fact, the Hartz IV reforms did cause a 40% growth in the number of people living bellow the poverty line while while wages on average stagnated: the lower rung of the german middle class didn't go unscathed in recent years (and since the German middle class is the EU second biggest spenders after the states, well, the Union's economic woes aren't that mysterious).

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Laurent - interesting
But it kind of proves my point
The deterioration in the US middle class is NOT due to some omnipotent financial change like globalization or technology change but is instead mostly due to the changes I mentioned

Those "neoliberal" changes have hit the USA worst - followed by the Anglophone nations but as the USA leads the free world the rest of Europe has followed at least a bit

All of this is nothing new - similar stupid ideas intended to keep the "rentier" class happy (but in an overall poorer world) in the 1930's led to the advent of Adolf and Mussolini

When talking about Germany - West Germany was doing well but it took a major hit - probably about 10 years of progress - when it absorbed the much poorer East Germany

Jumper said...

Jerry, as far as history of the U.S. Libertarian Party don't forget Nixon's wage and price controls. Crazier than Bernie Sanders.

Tom Crowl said...

Duncan... I agree with you completely! If fact that's very much my point:

Germany did not have the crutch of having a reserve currency... (which creates a very effective political trap)...

And they did (do) have more effective "heat-from-the-bottom" keeping the pressure up for a more egalitarian economy... and the political class had to deal with it w/o the level of fakery made possible here by our reserve currency status.

But to the extent they've followed the U.S. financial model... yes... I think they also are going to have more problems.

Tom Crowl said...

Its also worth noting that global institutions like the IMF... and the whole idea of SDR's (Special Drawing Rights) which in essence a fiat currency composed of a basket of fiat currencies...

Is in effect an attempt to create a global reserve currency... controlled by Central Banks (and hence the banking sector)... which is going to make the same problem... and political crutch global instead of national.

Be afraid... be very afraid...

Tom Crowl said...

If I wasn't clear on this point: that a fiat currency should only be used for productive purposes...

let me make it clear...

Productive purposes very much includes PUBLIC purposes like infrastructure, education, cultural institutions, research support, etc... (which Adam Smith recognized)

Which is another area both Parties have preferred to avoid... perhaps hoping that the significantly untaxed techno-billionaires would pick up the slack.

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

Germany did not have the crutch of having a reserve currency... (which creates a very effective political trap)...

But to the extent they've followed the U.S. financial model... yes... I think they also are going to have more problems.

I'm referencing Krugman here...Germany is in better economic shape because it has a trade surplus with the rest of the EU. And it seems to think that the rest of the EU could solve its economic woes by being more like Germany--that is, by all running trade surpluses with each other.

LarryHart said...

I've posted this on Dr Brin's blog many times in the last five years or so, but it seems appropriate in this discussion.

From Kurt Vonnegut's novel "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater" published in 1964:

When the United States of America, which was meant to be a Utopia for all, was less than a century old, Noah Rosewater and a few men like him demonstrated the folly of the Founding Fathers in one respect: those sadly recent ancestors had not made it the law of the Utopia that the wealth of each citizen should be limited. This oversight was engendered by a weak-kneed sympathy for those who loved expensive things, and by the feeling that the continent was so vast and valuable, and the population so thin and enterprising, that no thief, no matter how fast he stole, could more than mildly inconvenience anyone.

Noah, and a few like him perceived that the continent was in fact finite, and that venal office-holders, legislators in particular, could be persuaded to toss great hunks of it up for grabs, and to toss them in such a way as to have them land where Noah and his kind were standing.

Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus, the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.

E. pluribis unum was surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property, privileges, and pleasures that have been deined the many. An even more instructive motto, in the light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters might be: Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all.

Howard Brazee said...

Metrics that have gotten worse include:

The NRA has gotten bigger, and lots more weapons are endangering Americans.
Unproductive wars have continued, and the body counts have increased.
Continuing war against terrorism has created more terrorists than it has eliminated.
The gap between the rich and the workers has increased.

Tacitus said...

I am going to decline the Daggatt Dare for the same reason I no longer play David's Metric Games. When I put forward what I think are interesting examples of stats they are always ruled trivial, ambiguous or Way Less than What Bush Did.

Those who follow my occasional sallies onto that field know a few that I have tossed out. Student Loan indebtedness, Work Force Participation, levels of unfunded public pension debt. Even military readiness has of late been called into question but there might be some Budgeteering going on there. It would be interesting to play with some numbers....what would a ratio of student test scores to inflation adjusted per student spending show us?

Oh, only that standardized tests are BAD and that charter schools are skimming off the better students, also BAD, and so forth.

Sorry, this is as they say, "A Mug's Game"


Tim H. said...

Going off topic, an announcement is expected later this morning on the LIGO experiment.
Is it too much to wish for a quad axis version out at L-5?

Tom Crowl said...

Good one Larry Hart! Can't disagree. Everyone running a trade surplus with everyone else would take some pretty interesting math.

Unknown said...

Jerry, part of the point seems to be that these tax-free Utopias, by their nature, can't seem to police themselves (as "privatized police forces" are only a semantic shift away from "mercenary troops"), and due to the rather violent and greedy nature of some humans tend to fall into anarchy, internal strife, and Rule of the Strongest.

And there's little reason to believe that, should the US ever reduce our tax burden to zero, we would not follow suit. The version of Libertarianism espoused by Rand and John Campbell may sound nice on the surface - but its secondary effects are, well, unpleasant.

LarryHart said...

@Howard Brazee,

I'm not sure what point you are making.

If you're saying "Republicans can make things worse, even under a Democratic administration", then ok. But now that we know that, what do we know?

If you're trying to argue that a Democratic administration is failing in those ways, so it's best to elect a Republican, then not so much.

raito said...

I'm fairly ambivalent about Obama himself. On the one hand, he seems like a decent guy, the first we've had since Carter. Bush I I have some grudging respect for, and Clinton got stuff done, but neither were guys I'd want to associate with.

And I'm not going to argue the things that have happened under the current regime. But I often wonder what's the actual cause? Because I'm never quite certain the answer is 'Because Obama is president'. That's not to say he hasn't done anything, but attributing everything to him is probably as wrong.

In particular, I think the post-2008 rise (as compared to the '30s) is as much due to better communications and transport than anything else. Some recovery was going to happen anyway. And I very much disagree with TARP and the reasoning behind it. There were better ways that would have had more permanent effects.

Wind and solar might cost less now, but try telling the utilities that. Mine still wants a voluntary surcharge on theirs.

On the abortion issue, WI politics has gone a bit nasty. The WI Supreme Court is ruling that requiring abortion clinics' doctors to have admitting privileges is wrong, because the sole reasoning behind it was to restrict abortions contrary to federal law. Whereupon the sponsors said that the court should only consider the words rather than the reasoning. Which got very hypocritical, as they tend to counter anything they don't like by attacking the reasoning, not the words.

As far as jobs go, I don't think less minimum wage jobs is necessarily a good thing. The new jobs are only great if people can get them. I know many who cannot (and one who will not, but he's s special case. Not everyone succeeds.)

As far as boomers parents loving FDR... I'm in between, as my parents were too young during WWII. And they were just post-Depression. My grandparents, however, lived through it. And I can tell you that my father's father would have absolutely despised FDR. Then again, he was a banker who retired young on the money he made by foreclosing and reselling during the '30s. His wife was no prize, either. She thought herself of a higher class than anyone, mostly because she attended a podunk private school whose most famous alumnus was Ric Flair.

One of our current problems seem to be that it's less expensive to change the rules than to succeed within the rules. At least for some.

matthew said...

Alfred waves away the consequences of his statements. "Taxation is Theft" leads directly in a logical chain to "Government is Evil." To state otherwise is to beg his definitions of "Theft" and "Evil." Reminds me of how Locum likes to define things to his advantage in arguments instead of using our common parlance.

The problem with trying to build his libertarian utopian "experiments" here is all the infrastructure - physical infrastructure (bridges to sewers to internet), mental infrastructure (Alfred's own education as an example), security infrastructure ( military, fire, etc) and more - all of this is the product of shared investment through taxation. His "experiments" consist of stealing that investment in multiple types of infrastructure and giving it to individuals instead of it being managed for a public good. Libertarian economic policy is based on the theft of the commons that generations have paid into. Alfred is welcome to try his experiments here, but forewarned, I will treat his experiments as the attempted theft that they are and act accordingly. You steal the commons from my children and I will war on your attempts.
Now, maybe Alfred has not thought through the consequences of his statements, and is not really planning on stealing my children's ownership of our commons. But "taxation is theft" leads directly to poor governance and an attempt to steal from the public good.
That's why I suggest he try his experiments in a location without a commons that I and my children own. I'll write off my personal contribution to Alfred's personal infrastructure as a measure of neighborly good will in order to encourage his "experiments" in theft of the commons to go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Dr. Brin. I'm sorry I don't have time to post specific numbers and refutations for each and every point here, but it is obvious it's a well researched, thoughtful article. If I could direct your attention to one small portion at the beginning of the post (and I don't know who this is speaking), but I've cut and pasted it directly:

(The Reagan presidency was far less successful and was scandal ridden. But Republicans and their alternative media spent decades spinning it into a legendary success.)

With all due respect, Dr. Brin, how do we know that this isn't PRECISELY what is being done NOW by the Democrats and their 'main-stream' media...i.e, the spinning it (Obama's terms) into a legendary success?

Regarding scandals in Washington D.C. I have a theory. Actually, more of a metaphor. Scandals are like icebergs. Mostly underwater, with only small portions visible. During democrat rule, the icebergs sink slightly, with less and less 'scandal' visible and reported by the media. When republicans take over, the iceberg rises (slightly), thus making more of it visible. The main-stream media (who are also verifiably liberal) then see something to report on and rush to print the latest dirt on all things republican.

Your post also mentioned Obama's success with Global Warming and the EPA's rules on power plant emissions. It must have been disappointing to hear the U.S. Supreme Court put the kibosh on this yesterday.


Rick Steele
Sarasota, Florida

matthew said...

Ah, but Bush II spent years and millions trying to find malfeasance in the Clinton administration. Is the failure of the Bush II DoJ to find *anything* the fault of the liberal media too? I call bs on your argument about icebergs.

Berial said...

Two words for Rick, Oliver North.

Not only was he a major participant in a 'scandal' he was able to make good money WORKING for the 'media' when everything was over. But sure, the media is turning a blind eye at 'Democrat Presidents' because it's 'liberal'.

Joel said...

JP Morgan's CEO now loves Dodd-Frank because it discourages competition in the financial industry.

"In Dimon's eyes, higher capital rules, Volcker, and OTC derivative reforms longer-term make it more expensive and tend to make it tougher for smaller players to enter the market, effectively widening JPM's "moat." While there will be some drags on profitability – as prices and margins narrow, efficient scale players like JPM should eventually be able to gain market share."

Bring on the regulation, Bernie. Feel the bern.

Anonymous said...

Energy spree + horrible stroads + badly trained car sitters ==

Oh, look, and increasing death rates for pedestrians and bicyclists (GAO-16-66). And yet I've had to stomach repeated nonsense here about intersections in America being all sparkles and flowers for pedestrians. Who to believe, who to believe...

Jumper said...

" tougher for smaller players"
That really begs for some actual examples. I'm no expert on business but I know consultants are available to satisfy compliance for all sorts of regulations, often at a cheaper price than doing it oneself. For example, rather than write a laboratory safety program from scratch when I ran one, I just purchased a definitive copy and filled in the blanks.
I expect software is already available to calculate Dodd-Frank compliance. Computers really are a game-changer...

Joel said...

I do business consulting (read: develop software to automate banking) that specifically addresses increases in US and Canadian regulation, to minimize the errors and time spent for the regulatory reports (and they're usually reports).

FATCA - automatic withholding of American (ish) asset holders who might be hiding their income from Uncle Sam (as part of the JOBS Act of 2010) - cost of $6 million

Facility Risk Management: aggregate the risk of loan & derivative facilities (Credit Default Swaps, or the villain of the 2008 financial crisis) - cost of $95 million for an off-the-shelf from Moody's after some screen customizations

Now try to tell me that a bank with about $1 billion in assets (maybe $20 million in revenue) can afford these projects, after paying employees, rent and executives. Not gonna happen. They're try and go manual (paper based).

Every regulation crushes the little community bank and leaves the massive To-Big-To-Fail left to come in and scoop up their depositors.

LarryHart said...

Rick Steele as "Anonymous":

With all due respect, Dr. Brin, how do we know that this isn't PRECISELY what is being done NOW by the Democrats and their 'main-stream' media...i.e, the spinning it (Obama's terms) into a legendary success?

If you've seen any media accounts portraying President Obama's terms in positive terms, it would be the first I'm hearing of it.

Regarding scandals in Washington D.C. I have a theory. Actually, more of a metaphor. Scandals are like icebergs. Mostly underwater, with only small portions visible. During democrat rule, the icebergs sink slightly, with less and less 'scandal' visible and reported by the media. When republicans take over, the iceberg rises (slightly), thus making more of it visible. The main-stream media (who are also verifiably liberal) then see something to report on and rush to print the latest dirt on all things republican.

Your bias is immediately evident with "democrat rule". Your "verifiably" is not nearly as self-evident as you proclaim it to be. The mainstream media is owned by transnational corporations and is bias is not liberal or conservative, but whatever suits its corporate interests.

Furthermore, your metaphor itself is flawed. Ice is buoyant. The same percentage remains above the water, no matter how much of it there actually is.

Your post also mentioned Obama's success with Global Warming and the EPA's rules on power plant emissions. It must have been disappointing to hear the U.S. Supreme Court put the kibosh on this yesterday.

As I said to someone further up this post, it might be a legitimate complaint against Democrats that they're not strong enough to push back against Republican obstructionism, but that's hardly a reason to vote Republican instead, nor it is an indictment of the policy that the Republicans obstruct.

Joel said...

For Dodd-Frank (the Volcker Rule), every transaction must be categorized (I haven't yet worked on Volcker but skimmed it to learn whether I wanted to be involved) to ensure it doesn't allow the financial institution to trade out of its own accounts (and put itself at risk).

Few financial institutions share the same software - but there are a few big software players who will likely swallow the hit, because they earn so much from their large financial clients. So big financial institutions might pay less in both relative and absolute terms.

Everyone else will have to pay for their own customizations. Or dump extracts from your existing trading system into an off-the-shelf data mart (one would hope they already have one) and pull out the requirements from the regs (SME required) and someone to interpret what's needed for that specific institution (my job) and then someone to actually code (not my job) the queries and mappings because your own categorizations differ from what the regs want.

The cost is also time. FATCA was passed in 2010, and modified every year since (after requests for comment) which requires the project team to stay attached for years. Every change from the US government requires project change requests, and usually a change to the solution (both IT and user process training).

Jumper said...

Thanks for the insider insight, Joel!

LarryHart, read David Brooks' recent column. He wrote an odd one praising Obama. (He's a conservative.)

matthew said...

David Brooks is having buyers remorse with the "new" conservative movement. About 30 years too late, but Mr. Brooks has always been slow to learn from his mistakes. Regardless of his history, though, it is nice to see someone waking up from a lifetime of delirium. Goldwater, Atwood, and Will all changed their minds. Time will see if Mr. Brooks' new clarity actually sticks or he goes back to his usual crap.

Sean said...

Are any of you residents of Kentucky? The Democrat lost to an extremist Republican who did three things: posed with gay-hating Kim Davis and her husband; associated his opponent with President Obama's face whenever possible; and campaigned against the overwhelmingly popular Kynect - Kentucky's private health care exchange which included the Medicaid expansion. So basically, he campaigned against gays, black people and socialism, and won in a walk. Trump says "make America great again" and spews hate and savagery to people he damn well knows want to hear it. Would Trump lose against Hillary Clinton? Those of you politely discussing "outcomes" need to pull your cranium area from a southward area. Forty years of wingnut billionaires financing the most successful propaganda campaign in history -- they've almost won. The Republican base is almost at a plateau where they will win any election. They are already nearly in control of state governments. Stop being polite, and start screaming from the rooftops -- our next president has a better than good chance of being Trump, or even worse, the Christopath Cruz. I live in Kentucky, and I may lose my healthcare because a significant portion of the population has been brainwashed. Yes, brainwashed. David Brin's articles about metrics and outcomes are fun to read, but ignore the simple fact that the lion's share of the Republican party has been driven insane through 40 years of propaganda. What can any facts and figures do against that? Trump and/or Cruz will win.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Sean
I think you will find that that Kentucky race was not because a large number of people voted for the GOP
But because most of his opponents simply didn't vote

On another blog (GOPLifer) I was informed that the Democrats don't have a permanent ongoing voter registration "department" - given the voting ratios that is insane!!

Joel is talking about regulation
I spent a lot of my career writing "procedures" - and it's hard to write a good procedure that is easily understandable and covers the required actions

In a manufacturing operation the quality procedures are really important
I would liken them to Sisyphus,
The engineers working on improvements are Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill, the quality systems job is to follow just behind with a wedge so the bloody thing doesn't roll backwards

IF (and it is a big IF) the procedures/regulations have been well written it is actually quite easy to follow them and it should be cheap and easy to computerize

Financial stuff should be insanely easy to computerize as it is all numbers on the computer already - that should be much much easier than manufacturing where you are always dealing with a stubbornly analog real world

A.F. Rey said...

On a (even) more depressing front, the House just passed a bill to require all grants from the National Science Foundation provide written justification of how they will further the "national interest."

The project must describe how it needs Federal funding and has the potential to increase economic competitiveness, advance the health and welfare of the public, help develop our STEM competitiveness, increase scientific literacy and engagement, increase partnership with industry, support the national defense, and/or promote the progress of science for the U.S.

This from a committee whose chairman doesn't believe in AGW...

Dave said...

How does the occupant of the Oval Office influence these stats?

Alfred Differ said...

I used to work as a software engineer for a big bank a decade ago. The problem wasn't so much that the procedures weren't known. The problem was they kept changing. If you want to spend an awful lot of money on us, keep changing the requirements against which we design, code, and test. Each change is like a small Y2K event. I was working for a utility when Congress changed the daylight savings start/end times, so it isn't just financial report requirements that lead to higher operational costs.

People who don't write software don't know the horror stories we can tell regarding scope creep. Customers who don't know what they need might as well hand over all their cash. Customers who CAN'T know because regulatory changes come too fast are almost in the same pickle.

Alfred Differ said...

@Jonathan: Don't take this as a bashing, but I'm curious which tax free utopias you are referring to when you mention that they can't police themselves. Also, I understand that many people DO consider the difference between private police force and mercenary troops to be a small thing. However, I'll point out that it wasn't all that long ago that the general consensus was that common people couldn't govern themselves. The distance between 'democracy' and 'anarchy' was tiny. We've demonstrated otherwise in the last couple centuries with our Enlightenment Experiment. So... I ask for examples of those tax free utopias to point out that I'm not convinced we've actually tried yet. How do we know it can't be done? Why should I believe that private security forces are going to behave badly relative to current police forces?

Alfred Differ said...

@A.F. Rey: ...and/or promote the progress of science for the US

Sounds okay to me. I'm no fan of the current House committee, but I don't see why grant writers should be spared writing a few words about why the US should fund them. I suspect they already do and that this is just election year window dressing. Certain congress critters can say they are getting tough, but does this actually change anything? I doubt it.

locumranch said...

Tacitus is too polite when he describes the 'Daggatt Dare' as a "Mug's Game" (a foolish or futile activity) for, in the parlance of Brer Rabbit, it is more of a 'tar baby' (an inextricable, difficult or misleading situation that grows worse if one accepts the 'sticky' initial premise), the problematic premise being that it is even possible to 'measure and compare' outcomes between Democratic & Republican administrations in any meaningful manner.

It's an invitation to compare apples & oranges, really, as many of so-called superior (and/or inferior) outcomes attributed to a US Democratic (and/or US Republican) administration often reflect the actions of a US Congress which was controlled & dominated by the opposition party as in the case of Presidents R Reagan, B Clinton & B Obama.

Additionally, many of the 'stats' used in such sticky-wicket comparisons are definitionally non-equivalent, mainly because many of the so-called economic indicators (Unemployment Rate, Interest Rates, GDP, Money Supply, Currency Strength, Consumer Price Index, etc) are subject to incessant political manipulation, inflation, deflation, quantitative easing & redefinition.

What is the current US definition of the 'Unemployment Rate'?
For more info, try:

What is significance of a 'Negative Interest Rate' ?
For more info, try:

Is it even possible to compare positive & negative interest rates?
No one knows!!

And, how does anyone define 'Military Readiness'???
You guess is as good as mine.


LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Why should I believe that private security forces are going to behave badly relative to current police forces?

The implication in your question seems to be "Aren't police forces being used as private security even now?" That is a problem when it happens now, and some great minds are trying to figure out ways to mitigate that problem. I don't see how enshrining the problem into law and custom makes it better.

Since it's probably not clear, what I mean by "the problem" is police whose loyalty is to their particular paymasters rather than to the society they are supposed to serve and protect.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew: You are missing the point by assuming it away. I’m willing to discuss the definitions of ‘theft’ and ‘evil’ and all that stuff. Language is an emergent structure. What I’m pointing out to you is that many people ALREADY see that taxation is theft of a sort and they aren’t all inhuman monsters. You can’t assume them away. They exist. Meet them and you’ll see they aren’t inhuman. I’m one of them often enough and I promise I don’t eat children. 8)

There is no doubt that the CURRENT physical (and other types of) infrastructure involves shared investments and can be thought of as part of the commons. What IS in doubt is whether or not this is the best way to do it. Not all of us are acolytes of Rand. Not all of us want to burn traditions to the ground. What many of us want is a bit of space to try things. For example, can one set up a city that has no public schooling and remain competitive with the rest of civilization? There are some who want to try that by privatizing the K-12 system. Here in California, I’d run into serious trouble doing that because of state laws. They basically don’t tolerate it much. Rules exist which place a thumb on one side of the balance ensuring the test is unfair. Private schools CAN be set up to take the load, but they are regulated in ways that invalidate the test. To make matters worse, residents of this hypothetical city still pay state taxes to the public school system, so they get to pay twice. Enforced participation in social programs is a violation of our liberty if enough of us believe it to be so and offer a reasonable alternative. A small willingness to flex on the part of state voters, though, would fix it. Let the city adopt a charter approach to life and place a sunset clause on all of it. The city survives the sunset date if enough of its residents agree to extend it. If the population level drops too low when residents vote with their feet, brand the place as a commune and let it die like all the others do.

I get that you don’t like these possible experiments, but you’ll have to convince me that I’m stealing from your children. If I haven’t spoken of how one would be set up and you are already opposed, I’m more likely to conclude that you see MY children as part of the commons. They aren’t and I’m willing to go to war to prevent such a lunacy.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Consider this possibility. 8)

If current police forces ARE being used as private security for city-level lords, wouldn't a bit of competition make some sense? Is that just another example of the division of power that we use at other levels of government?

They tricky part comes when we think about how these security forces interact with each other. If each has the power to arrest, won't that lead to violence? Heh. Isn't that something we've already worked out when state and federal LE come into contact with each other? Why not continue the experiment?

The thing to watch out for are the leeches who won't pay for ANY service. I don't mind joining with you all if you want to catch them and stake them down in the desert naked next to an anthill. I feel about the same way for people who don't get vaccinated and freeload off everyone else. The key point is I'm NOT a Rand acolyte. What I'm pointing out is classical liberalism that few seem to have the courage to stomach anymore.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: Military readiness actually has a decent definition. You might not find it in your favorite dictionary, though. Run a unit through their training exercises and see how well they can perform. If you hold the training fairly constant, the different evaluations from one time to the next demonstrate readiness levels relative to the training plan. US military units train A LOT, so this information is readily available to commanders.

I get what you are saying about the tar baby, but that just supports their points. You won't engage the tar baby because you'll lose. The point they'll make is they don't stick to it. YOU do. Tacitus2 has a better point than you do. At least he is arguing that the game has unfair rules. I can (sort of) agree with him.

locumranch said...


The point I was trying to make about the 'Daggatt Dare' (DD) is that it is MORE than 'unfair' because it allows the US Democrat progressive element to define (berry-pick) the metric of what constitutes 'progressive success', so it is a given that any putative conservative will appear 'less successful' in terms of that progressive metric, sort of like a Chocolatier defining the World's Best Chef solely in terms of chocolate.

On a lighter note, I am watching the US Democratic Debate as we speak, and irony of ironies, I just heard Sanders (a self-described 'Socialist') come out as an anti-trade anti-globalist 'Nationalist' which is exactly what the USA needs right now:

National Socialism.

So, after taking David's anti-gerrymandering advice to heart, I now have the unique opportunity to participate my state's pending Democratic Caucus, as a registered Democrat, in order to defeat Clinton, nominate Sanders & advance National Socialism.


David Brin said...

Rick Steele: "how do we know that this isn't PRECISELY what is being done NOW by the Democrats and their 'main-stream' media...i.e, the spinning it (Obama's terms) into a legendary success?"

Utter utter drivel. Independent counsels investigated the Clintons top to bottom and after bc left office, bush assigned so many agent to sift for smoking guns that he was arguably thus directly responsible for weakening anti-terror efforts pre 9/11! Agents and accountants, extra subsidized by the Kochs etc... who found nothing, nada, zip, zero, for the 1st time in US history.

These are statistics overseen by career civil servants under direct scrutiny by J D Powers, Deloite and the other huge commercial accounting firms and by S&P who would just love to catch the GAO and Treasury in a mistake. (And they DO, from time to time!)

You do not get to weasel out of the pure fact that our metrics go almost all positive across dem admins and DOWN across GOP ones. Dig it, you should CARE about outcomes comparisons, instead of shrugging them off for reasons of dogma loyalty. A pragmatic conservative should care about THAT above all! But that species is extinct.

"Scandals are like icebergs."

Stunning bull hockey. You wave fantasies knowing that Fox & Limbaugh have ranted that dems are "corrupt' - never pondering that you are being played. And by the ones who have all the lordship money and who have zero reason to be on your side… and all the means to play you.

Joel G. It is absolutely in the national interest to break up the big banks and brokerages to be "small enough to be allowed to fail." Name one -- even on -- reason not to do this? One. Even just one. Now … which party do they donate to more, by far.

The breakup would not even be "regulation" just common sense anti-trust and let the new banks compete.

David Burns said...
How does the occupant of the Oval Office influence these stats?"

Now THAT is a decent cavil and question! And yes, sure, many of the stats can be argued to have more to do with many other factors. Except there's this: the correlation is almost perfect.

Do you grasp that sir? Almost. Perfect. And we know that the swerve from 1990s surpluses to 2000s steep deficits had one clear before/after, the absence of Bill Clinton's veto pen from the repeatedly passed GOP "supply side voodoo" tax gusher gifts to the rich. Later wars and econ mismanagement made them worse, but do NOT claim that goppers are ever ever ever ever ever fiscally responsible.


locum: "And, how does anyone define 'Military Readiness'???
You guess is as good as mine."

Proudly, proudly ignorant. The services rate their own units. And L writhes and spins and leaps but cannot hide from the fact that the GOP absolutely equals failed governance to a degree that tips into outright treason, all on the basis of the best outcomes metrics we can find.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

There is often a lag between the implementation of a policy and its subsequence effects. Often the following administration takes the credit or is accorded the blame for something it had little to do with. An example would be NAFTA which was started by Bush senior in 1990 who did a lot of the legwork on the treaty before Clinton was voted in. When he came in he recognized that NAFTA was a good thing and pushed it along even when opposed by senators from his own party. The bill passed in 1993 more Republicans voted for it than Democrats (132 to 102). Although it was signed under Clinton, by no means can he claim exclusive credit for NAFTA. Another one would be the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act that was signed by Clinton in 1999 and set the stage for the 2008 meltdown long after he left office. To their credit, most Democrats in Congress voted against and Clinton should have vetoed it but he didn’t. Under the Clinton administration, there was a nice budget surplus but the collapse of the Soviet Union allowed the military budget to be cut by 25% as well as creating a climate of optimism for the future. That was a one-off convergence of circumstances that he inherited and had no hand in bringing about. Of course Clinton should be given credit for being fiscally responsible and nurturing the boom but one cannot claim that prosperity occurred only because he was elected President. I am not bashing Bill Clinton, on the contrary we are now benefitting from some of the policies he initiated, but sometimes we mistake correlation with causation because of the lag effect.

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ,

You propose an interesting experiment using one city to test Libertarian ideas. Unfortunately, it would mean that the city would have to leave the country in which it is located and that is something governments in general resist. Since all land on the Earth is claimed, the only way would be to set up a floating city in international waters and see how it goes. Do you see all taxes as theft or just some? Where do you draw the line? In “The Expanse”, Ceres’ police force is run by a private company where they come down hard on anything to do with water, air and riots but anything beyond that is very lax. I suppose that would be a way to keep costs down. I think a Libertarian city-state could work but only if its citizens had close to equal incomes and thereby have equal opportunity to pay for private company services. In the beginning it might be that way but as time goes on the society would devolve into the haves and the have-nots.

reason said...

"The reason i would say a pox on both Democrats and Republicans is they both treat future liabilities as Santa Claus. To get specific, look at this graph
which shows that US Debt as a percentage of the GDP is high and going higher. It increased sharply under Obama. He had a chance to fix or improve this situation and did absolutely nothing. The USA is currently at 110 %. Greece is at 160%. At some point, I used to think it was 100%, you hit a tipping point where you can never recover.
So there's your critical statistic that's gotten far worse. "

You do realise that the US prints its own money? And that in the past countries have (after wars) run up debts of 200% and more of GDP and recovered without great problem (the UK for instance). Greece is in great trouble not because of extraordinary levels of debt, but because the debt is in a foreign currency.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Greece is in great trouble not because of extraordinary levels of debt"

Greece debt would be in a foreign currency if Greece still used the Drachma.

Right now, as a euro-state Greece is allowed to print its Euros, in quantities collegially decided by the ECB's Governing council where it has a seat.
Had Greece remained on (or returned to) the Drachma, its debt would be either in Euros or Dollars (because who'd have lent up to 80 billions per year to Greece for three decades apart from West European and North-American banks and states?), and trying to print more Drachma to repay these debts would have worked as well as it did with the Bolivar Fuerte.

Greece is in trouble because it has the shittiest IRS of the Eurozone and suffers from massive tax evasion committed by both the upper and the middle classes (when over 80% of the adult population are home owners but only 10% pay property taxes, you know there's a problem).

Jumper said...

First, I agree with Tacitus on the comment he made above.

It's true it's the interplay of Congress and the President that makes the cake. To the extent that Presidents lead their parties and bully on the pulpit, no small things, the record is indeed good for Dem administrations.

On negative interest rates I suspect that relative currency valuations have something to do with it. I'd prefer not to park cash in a country giving 3% interest in a currency losing 4.5% in the same period.

On trade treaties I realize I don't know who gets the ball rolling on these things. I doubt they spring full blown from Presidents' brains! For example, where did NAFTA come from, exactly? Who began lobbying for it at the beginning?

Tacitus said...

Its a side discussion but regards military preparedness David said:

"Proudly, proudly ignorant. The services rate their own units."

Oh my. In your dogged allegiance to Authority (of the right Party of course) you seem to me to have blind spots in your vision.

I have earlier alluded to the tendency of the armed services to claim serious readiness issues when it is time to go to Congress for appropriations money. We had a helping or two of this back in 2013 but with a side serving of griping about sequestration:

Now I am no fan of government shut downs or slow downs but if an administration, any administration can't fund critical military training they had damned well better be cutting out all other non essential spending. I recall a fair amount of Kabuki Theater back in that time frame.

But if rattling the tin cup can make our forces look less ready than they really are, there are other factors to consider as well. Things that perhaps make them look more ready.

I speak of course to the question of "ready for what"?

General staffs are so prone to fighting the Last War. Are we better equipped with drones, with Special Forces, with Arabic linguists, with smart munitions? I don't have numbers, but empirically this seems certain.

Are we better equipped to counter an old school Red Army occupation of the Baltic States? Or to combat something like ISIS that is a weird and horrid hybrid of terrorist state and Jonestown cult? And what about....well, the unexpected whatever that may be.

You can't rate preparedness by checking the engine oil in your Abrams tanks and calling it good. An inspection tour of the Maginot Line in the early spring of 1940 would have been very comforting to the French populace I don't doubt.

I regard the messes in Libya and Syria as being akin to what happened in Cambodia after Vietnam wound down. We stomp around an area, leave, engage in feckless and impotent diplomacy and are surprised when we get the Khmer Rouge. (note plenty of criticism there for assorted past and potential future Presidents).

Maybe military preparedness is not such a diversion of discussion. Keeping us physically safe is the first obligation of our Federal government. While I can see a variety of combinations of President and Congress that could muddle along, or perhaps even do more than muddle, domestically....our current crop of would be POTUS aspirants do not fill me with confidence.


raito said...

Alfred Differ,

You're preaching to the choir here on creep. Ever been asked in all seriousness how long it will take to write a system for which there is no specification? Real engineers don't have to put up with that crap (as much). But to most people software is magic and able to be changed without any penalty.

As far as media with positive opinions on Obama, NPR seems to have them fairly often.

With regards to quality systems, my experience has been that there aren't any, and if there were, management wouldn't want to implement them. Take the ISO 900 series, for example. It is not a quality system. It is a consistency system. Yes, consistency is a prequel to quality, but does not produce quality. And every company I've worked at who got certified (by consultants who get paid if you pass, much like military units rating themselves) did it specifically and openly in order to put a sticker on their products.


You might like to look up the whole 'fourth-generation' warfare stuff. Unfortunately, even the best of it is sometimes written by people who are otherwise somewhat wacky.


Yes, sometimes things take more than one presidential cycle to happen. And yes, we shouldn't fail to recognize the work done before. But we also shouldn't fail to recognize that the next president saw a good idea and ran with it.

Anonymous said...


I did mention that when Clinton came into office, he saw NAFTA as a good idea and pushed it through against opposition from his own party. I hope that if a Republican is elected he won't just throw away Obamacare but rather modify or rebuild it and then take credit if it works. You never really know what a new President or Supreme Court Justice will do once he is firmly in the chair.

locumranch said...

There is only one word for people who accept government-industrial self-regulation & self-rating systems as the gospel truth: Gullible.

Such gullibility leads (inevitably) to organisational dysfunction as random organisations either award themselves *gold stars* for crap performance or demand higher prices, rate hikes or increased funding to ameliorate self(ishly)-recognised deficiencies, leading only the extremely gullible to confuse a 'bought & paid for' JD Powers advertisement with an *award*.

Unfortunately, the same holds true with so many progressive metrics.

The extremely gullible look at the *doubling* of US federal expenditures (over the last 15 years) on Medicaid, WIC & Food Stamp poverty amelioration programs and 'see' some sort of *victory over poverty*, while the less gullible only 'see' a doubling of Poverty (in general) which has created a more pressing 'need' for federal poverty amelioration.

In effect, the Federal Government creates many of the social problems that it exists to solve. It institutes laws & social policies that encourage poverty through divorce, child impoverishment & 'single-parent' households, then it creates poverty amelioration programs to justify its own existence through a self-perpetuating cycle of government largess & dependency.

Sanders for President.


Jumper said...

Military readiness is about 2½ weeks too slow, at least judging by Afghanistan 15 years ago.
On a side note, I read a thing recently, unearthed from something a German said after WWII. He said if French forces had counter-invaded SW Germany immediately they would have defeated the invasion handily.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Our gracious host: "You wave fantasies knowing that Fox & Limbaugh have ranted that dems are "corrupt' - never pondering that you are being played."

But for a number of the most frustrated Republicans -- those trapped in Democratically dominated places, where they feel their voices are quashed -- there ARE corrupt Democrats! At the state level. Boston and New York and Philadelphia and Chicago and Baltimore and Sacramento -- you can't deny that the rot of one-party status doesn't touch them. And people live with the consequences of that corruption daily. So it becomes incredibly easy to tar all those with a D with a broad brush.

In red states, this same rhetoric can play a completely different role -- that of the dog whistle.

Deuxglass: In “The Expanse”, Ceres’ police force is run by a private company where they come down hard on anything to do with water, air and riots but anything beyond that is very lax

I consider the privatization of law enforcement and security to be an effective litmus test to distinguish Libertarianism from Randism. A libertarian would strongly support a government system of courts and law enforcement -- to strictly enforce contracts! And to punish cheaters and force everyone to compete as hard as possible. The rest of the government would be very slim, but that one thing would be a lean mean fighting machine.

But for all my lifetime we see this corporatist-dystopic picture instead, where privatization of the tools of power occurs. And the results are predictable to the point of lunacy:

1) Competition is messy and costly. It's much better to set up oligopoly systems and non-compete clauses. More efficient that way -- for the security services.
2) Without a Government to force it, corporate consolidation of "security services" would also occur, with mergers and buyouts -- some "leveraged", and some "hostile takeovers".
3) Even if initial contracts are distributed, it is in the interest of efficiency to also conduct geographic consolidation, either by swapping, buying, or selling contracts between firms, or by encouraging contractees to transfer. Contractees, having subcontracted out the ability to use force, have little or no means to object to their security contracts becoming a tradeable good. If it works for telecommunications, why shouldn't it work for security services?
4) It is also in the security contractors' interests to set up a formal subcontracting structure, clarifying the requirements of each unit and describing profit-sharing, procedures for filling vacancies, et cetera.
5) Once this shakeout of the corporate security system has completed, with a highly efficient privatized structure freed from the shackles of regulation and oversight, the last step would be to get rid of cumbersome nomenclature. Instead of a "fully integrated economic framework", an area of security management could be known by the acronym of FIEF; the "freely engaged user-defined engagement license" would be more easily described as FEUDAL; and the "keeper of intentional negotiated governance", naturally, would rejoice in the title of KING.

Jumper said...

locumranch finds idiots then feels smarter than them. As Faye Kesey used to say, "feed the hungry bee," meaning it's just as easy to feed the hungry ego as to shame it, so let's all tell loco how smart he is every chance.

Recently I found two kinds of idiot. One was someone proposing a sugar tax, for health reasons. Seeing as how we have a sugar subsidy, I found that rather stupid. Another kind of idiot would be in West Virginia and complaining about global warming and stupid government regulations, and not realizing that Eastern coal is only used because of laws requiring it put in place to save jobs. (It's dirty and plant operators prefer cleaner Western sources, at least last I read about it.)

David Brin said...

Tacitus are you aware how even a sane conservative like you has fled to the koolaid mantra that everything is subjective and nothing can be measured? Faced with a near universal statistical repudiation of all GOP governance, you claim that 'military readiness' can be infinitely manipulable and in quotation marks, when there are very clear criteria and these include the percentage of combat troops that a brigade etc can deploy , how far and in how short a time. Mission parameters for the 82nd Airborne emphasize more speed than firepower, for example. The 1st Armored it's reversed.

And ALL of those US Army and Marine units were shattered by the end of both Bush Admins and in top order by the end of he CLinton and Obama admins, with rapid tech upgrades underway.

But for an American conservative to ignore what Bush Junior did to the US Army reserves and National Guard, in wars of POLICY rather than urgency, is shameful, simply shameful.

"Ready for what?"

I just returned from DC, addressing top Intel agencies and I tell you they are very concerned with "what might we be missing?" Otherwise why invite a sci fi author? And yes, I broadened the persepective.

This notion that "readiness" levels is all about budget wars is just silly and downright insulting to our military men and women. When the Cold War damped down, they only dragged their feet a little about downsizing and came up with their own long lists of cuts. They have often been the leaders in base closing. The top officers care more about potential missions than specifically about budgets.

"Feckless"???? That mantra is the foxite's sneer at Obama… who stole the entire Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence, vastly weakening Moscow. Refuse him credit? Putin and the Russian press don't!

Our foes are crippled by low oil prices and new energy sources are coming online faster than anyone anticipated, though the GOP fought hard to slow that trend to a crawl.

Who killed Osama? Who stopped the horrid spilling of large numbers of american lives in utterly futile wastelands that have always been called that "Land where empires go to die." Bush, cheney and the neocons were the monsters, Face it. Own it.

"Feckless" -- let's all call that word what it is... a rally cry of Foxite crybabies. Seriously folks. Pounce on it every time you see it! It is not only easily refuted. It is regurgitated pure koolaid.

David Brin said...

Oh I left out Iran. Fulminators on the right denounce it, but it was a win-win-win for us, at every level.

Feckless, my freckled behind.

Try this for a change, actually supporting and standing with your freely elected President. He got none of that. Zero. Zip, and still things are better on every front.

Anonymous said...

Catfish N. Cod,

Very well done! I appreciate your humor immensely. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...


George Bush senior, Brian Mulroney and Carlos Salinas started negotiations for the NAFTA framework in the middle of Bush's administration. Anything to do with a treaty takes a lot of time an NAFTA was no exception. By the time that Bill Clinton came in office the negotiations were already far advanced. He could have killed it but he didn't and he made the correct decision. Some jobs went south as predicted but overall it was a net gain from and economic point of view but more importantly from an international political view. It tied the futures of Mexico, the US and Canada tightly together and made us collectively stronger.

Tacitus said...

You don't much like having your assertions challenged do you? You misrepresent my points, ignore most of what I said and indicate I am using quotation marks to trivialize a significant matter ( go back and quotation marks)

But rather than ask you to illuminate us on the marvelous outcome of our Libyan intervention or of what our current policy actually is in Syria, I will take on an easier task. You ask me to support and stand behind my freely elected President*. So I shall happily list a few foreign policy areas where I think things are going well.

We continue to effectively contain North Korea. Some combination of cyber and economic warfare has been going on quietly for quite a while imho. I approve of opening up relations with Cuba. Even if you don't like that regime much, a good brisk dose of Western Capitalism will change them more effectively than an ongoing desultory embargo. There are some other things that I have to suspend judgement on as they take time. The Bergdahl exchange is for instance looking less good these days. The Iran deal could turn out to be good bad or just how things are.

I strive in my responses to some of your stuff to remain polite. There are days when it is heavy lifting. Although I suppose I should thank you for emphatically making my earlier point...that being that responding to your silly challenges is a mug's game. You can run Contrary Brin any way that suits you, but there are times I think you are poisoning the conversational water hole to no good purpose.


* Freely elected, yes, but he works for us. And he is not a czar or anything, simply the guy in charge of one of three equal branches of government. I respect the office. I think the fellow with his name on the door at present is mediocre but that happens some times.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Complain about our deficit spending all you want: but I assure you the Saudis are running much worse deficits. We can afford -- nay, we can rejoice! -- in a few years of $30/bbl oil. But it will break them. Will -- I don't think they can avoid it any longer; and OPEC's ability to control world oil production is dead, dead, dead. The Iranians and Russians get no joy out of it, either.

Meanwhile we have the best of all worlds: plenty of hydrocarbon capacity to be tapped -- for ANY purpose, not just burning it! -- plus throwing up renewable energy almost as fast as possible that reduces our dependence. All while increasing efficiency, such that the country uses the same amount of energy as 40 years ago despite 60% population increase.

The all-of-the-above energy policy has been a MASSIVE success-- for the economy AND foreign policy. All for the cost of shifting energy jobs from Kentucky to North Dakota: bad for very specific Appalachian locations, but much of a muchness for the nation as a whole.

I like having an energy policy. All my life till now, I don't think we really had one.

Tacitus: I am open for anyone to provide ANY ideas on Syria. No one seems to be willing to stop what looks like the most likely outcome at this point, which is that Putin assists Assad in crushing, first the Free Syrian Army and all the other rebel fragments; then ISIS... and the refugees, who rightfully fear Assad will genocide them, don't go home. Putin is counting on them to break the European Union (who here thinks influence in the Middle East is worth the blood and treasure Putin is pouring out?). Turkey could stop this; France is happy to intervene in any other of its numerous former territories; Europe could try acting like a Great Power instead of a bunch of squabblers; the Arabs could try putting their bodies where their money is.

But we couldn't fix Syria if we invaded it -- I readily concede we could conquer, but we can't rule and don't have anyone on hand to do so -- and our allies in Iraq will be able to do no more than push it back to the fantasy "border".

If we want the President of the United States to be the Emperor of the West, who dispatches Legions and defends the Borders against Barbarians, then we best get to it -- and the Proconsuls and Imperial Administrators, and the iron-fisted, no-human-rights attitude that must go with it. But if we are still the Republic, we have to admit that we can't just fix everything wrong in the world. I haven't heard a darn thing out of any candidate of any party that amounts to more than either hot air or continuing Obama's "feckless" policies -- and I don't expect to.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Laurent,
I agree about Greece and its shiitty IRS
That is not the cause of the Greek debt – the problem was the bloody banks –
they got into trouble and the Greek government ended up with the debt.
From there the Greek IRS meant that they could not get out of it
But it was the banks overextension that caused the problem in the first case

Quality systems – yep they are mainly the all important consistency systems
The secret weapon for improving quality is “Just in Time” and “Lean”
Manufacturing people are normally very single minded
You can twist their arms and get them to say “Quality is important” but what they actually think is “numbers are important”
JIT and Lean start by confiscating their “safety stock”
Now it becomes blatantly obvious that their beloved numbers suffer if quality is not excellent
Now you have them all pushing for quality

matthew said...

I appreciate your willingness to engage. After all, this place is where ideas come to be sharpened against the grindstone of opposing (bright, mostly) minds. That being said, let me grind away at some of your statements.

On not ever seeing your children as part of the commons - I'd say that ship has already sailed. Assuming that your children do not live solely in a bubble inside casa Alfred, then I personally have already invested in their future. A small amount,true, which would be larger if we lived in the same state, city, neighborhood, but my taxes have subsidized at the very least, their defense from foreign invaders, the federal matching funds that go toward their education, the work that the EPA does on their behalf to supply clean water and air, the FDA checking the drugs they take when they are sick. We, as a nation, have invested many, many thousands of dollars into your children, with an expectation that, when they are matured and ready, they will, in turn, subsidize my children's children until they are ready to shoulder the next load for your childrens's children's children.

You say you will declare war on anyone that makes your children part of the commons. When I invite you to go elsewhere to try to build your utopia, I am offering you a way to not wage war, but stage a peaceful retreat away from it.

In order to have a place to try your small city of libertarian ideals and experimentation, you will need to displace someone else's claim to the city. And unless you can build a glass bubble around that city enclosing it like a snowglobe, then that city will need to negotiate with its' neighbors over use of water, clean air, waste disposal, and trade.

The problem with libertarianism is externalizing the true costs. When you state that "Taxes are Theft," what you are really saying is "I don't want to pay my fair share toward the future." We can argue over how much you should pay, and the structure of payment and how it gets spent and on and on (that's politics), but to say "taxes are theft" absolutely is a blatant attempt at getting a free ride and stealing from everyone else.

Dave said...

I'm not defending the Republicans, I am trying to understand the transmission mechanism from "absence of Bill Clinton's veto pen" to the various stats. The tax cut affected the deficit, but even that was not instantaneous and at best explains one zig of the correlation. Shouldn't there be interesting effects from a majority shift in either house of Congress? Maybe presidential influence upon the supposedly independent Fed chair? Impact on the national mood? People give Reagan credit for reversing the inflation and unemployment going on when he was elected, but what did he have to do with it? Volker didn't change Fed policy as a result of Reagan moving into the Oval Office. Presidents have big effects on foreign policy in the short term, other things in the long term maybe, or it seems that way to me. Maybe the president is the national cheerleader, and people just feel more cheerful when the Democrats are leading the cheers? Anyhow, I am not denying the correlation, I just am not sure it's the sort of thing you would want to take into a casino.

Treebeard said...

The real battle is not about many beans each party grows according to Enlightenment cultist bean-counters, but about whether their bean-counting methodology is the only permissible one for determining the Good Society. It's a false dialectic, which omits entire realms of thought, experience and values by design. Having said that, there are all kinds of statistics pointing to the pathology of modern civilization, but it would be boring to rehash them again and get the usual dismissals. It's the reality tunnel, stupid.

Jumper said...

And we must break out chisels to discern your proposed remedies, Treebeard. Or have you none, and you're a useless doom crier?

Alfred Differ said...

@Deuxglass: I’m not convinced the experimental city would have to leave the country. What it needs is a legally binding charter from the ‘sovereign’ to run things a different way for a while. That charter would double up as a contract between it and the host sovereign for the list of services it WILL PAY to have provided and what WILL PAY for this special arrangement. Charter cities are not a new concept. We have over 100 of them in California. Exactly what the organizers intend shows up as clauses in the charter, so the idea of city level experiments can be quite varied. The limits, of course, are those imposed by the ruling sovereign. In the case of California it is both the State and Federal government. Can we get officials from each to the table to discuss a more libertarian experiment? It’s difficult when people start with the assumption that we have to start with free floating cities out on the high seas and ignore the charter city precedent. Those floating cities see like very expensive investments VERY likely to fail as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather start experiments with smaller, incremental changes and let people vote with their feet instead of long distance, high seas boats.

Alfred Differ said...

@raito: I’ve been asked for deadlines with no real requirements lots of times. I’ve learned to see two different things going on in the customer’s minds. Some customers are simply ignorant and they are poised to get fleeced when they ask a contractor/consultant to offer such an estimate. However, some are looking to be told what they need and will decline to commit funds if the price is too high. A customer of mine had a pretty good idea they could afford one month of my time and a guess that what they wanted to take one month, so their question to me was meant to be a reality check. If I had said 6 months they would have balked. Some in my shoes wouldn’t even offer the 6 month estimate, but if you have a customer asking to be fleeced, it doesn’t matter what you suggest because what you deliver won’t be what they want. You’ll walk away with an annoyed former-customer, but you will have been paid. What I actually told them was that I had an app that sounded roughly like what they were describing already in my portfolio. I described it for them and they were head nodding by the end. I have them a one month estimate knowing I could have it deployed in a week and then we would tweak it for the next three with the inevitable unplanned changes. Near the end of the fourth week, the changes looked to be never ending, so I just smiled at the project manager and told him I’d continue taking his money if he had it to give. That got his attention and he put a stop to it all.

A lot of companies can’t do this, though. If your developers are internal, they get paid to sit on their hands, so where is the harm if some project keeps going? If you can’t control the changes dictated by regulation, you need to get really nimble with code development techniques. There aren’t many people who are any good at the techniques, though, and WAY more demand for them. It isn’t magic, but there is an incredible learning curve. People who can do it are worth millions.


Alfred Differ said...

@Catfish N. Cod: Okay. The acronyms got a good chuckle out of me. I’m going to have to copy them out and re-use them elsewhere. 8)

What struck me as odd, though, is the consolidation process you describe looks a lot like what happens with utility companies. Regulating them is tricky and often messy, but in many places we are managing well enough to notice that certain city owned utilities (analogous to a police force) under perform publically owned ones. I saw this personally in the wholesale electricity market in California when CAISO tried to modernize the wholesale market rules last decade. The most recalcitrant stakeholders were the cities. They simply didn’t feel the need to do a damn thing that wasn’t something they thought necessary. The publically traded companies felt pressures the cities didn’t and while they weren’t always happy with change, they could negotiate. They WANTED to negotiate because success in that arena might produce rules that favored their business model, thus their shareholders.

The interesting thing about utilities is some of the ‘stuff’ they provide can’t be labelled after they put it in the ‘pipe.’ Electricity is pressured electrons. Good luck labelling them for identification by load devices. Contract security can be done the same way if you get imaginative about payment contracts. I don’t need wires from every electricity provider to be able to buy services from them. We separate Generators from Distributors. If I self-generate, I can sell excess through an Aggregator who acts as a broker among Generators. I’m not suggesting any one particular approach to contract security, though. What I’m pointing out is there is a lot of room for improvement as evidenced by the proliferation of cameras pointing at the police and a big lack of imagination regarding what solutions we might try to fix things. Cameras will point out the problem, but what do we do next? Libertarians have some ideas that range from incremental adjustments to complete kookiness. What they rarely suggest, though, is the mental stagnation that comes from believing we can’t make things better. That kind of conservatism is really about preserving tradition as if they are sacred. Meh. If we really thought that was a good idea, half the country would support legal slavery.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew: Grind away. Please! I’m a CITOKATE zealot and will pay in kind. 8)

I recognize your investment in my son (I pluralized earlier because I’ve taught kids) and have repaid in kind. I have no qualms with this kind of trade. When I get suspicious is when someone says the trade has to be government mediated. I’m not overly worried about the gray men who do this for us, but I have a strong preference for keeping such trade as local as possible. The further our money gets away from us, the less we notice what is being done with it and the less we face the real consequences of the prices being charged. In a market, prices are signals that compress crucial information about supply and demand for each thing being traded. My son’s teacher offers up his time at a price. He acquires the skills he needs to deliver the services I want for my son at a price. Tax me to pay for this and I can’t see the transaction. I might go along with it if I believe it to be the best way, but what if I don’t? What if I think there is a better way that serves my son better? In that case, I don’t want your investment being channeled into a wasteful effort supporting my son. I especially don’t want MY taxes being used that way. Once I adopt that belief, the tax being taken and spent is against my will and a form of theft. Before that belief, though, it can’t be theft because I wouldn’t object.

Still… my son is not part of the commons. The infrastructure we are both using IS. Like a lot of male mammals, there are few other males I’d trust to raise my son. Those few are family members. Any attempt to treat children as common to the village is likely to raise my hackles. There aren’t many things that would tempt me toward violence, but I’m pretty sure that would be one of them. My duty as a father is to raise a child capable of joining the community as a mature, capable adult. How I do that depends primarily upon MY decisions. Obviously I’m not alone in the effort, but the village CAN’T be responsible. Only people can be responsible and I won’t abandon my duty.

Another that makes my mood a little black is when other males force me to invest in their children. Such investment might come at the expense of my own child. If I can see the positive sum outcome, you’ll get no complaint from me. I’ll wave big banners in support. If I can’t… well… theft IS a negative sum game. I can play it as well as any other male.

Unfortunately, your understanding of an experimental city is shallow at best. We don’t have to displace anyone. What we have to do is negotiate in good faith.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Here in California, I’d run into serious trouble doing that because of state laws...

Geez, I don't know why, but for some reason, I thought you were in Australia.

I mean for years, now.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. I'd have to hang my avatar upside down. Closest I've been involves watching Crocodile Dundee.

Been here since '83 when I started grad school. Lived near Sacramento most of the time, but now I'm in Ventura county. The Gold Coast is a different world. 8)

David Brin said...

Tacitus sorry, I do like you, but you act all angry at me too easily. C'mon man, I did no ad hominems this time. I was brusque over the "feckless" thing but anyone repeating Roger Aile's poisonous talking points can expect ever-quicker snap-backs, from now on.

As for refusing to play my "mug's game" oh tommyrot. You should care about measurable outcomes! And they'd be even better if we had had an infrastructure bill, 5 years ago.

I will concede your point about Libya. BO did not so much inherit that mess from the Bushites as from fickle fate and he hasn't handled it well. He should have coerced Egypt and Algeria to step in, two years ago.

But at least SOME things were handled well. NATO is rising, the Baltic States are free and prospering, Ukraine has joined the West. The Iran deal looks great, so far. Cuba-right-on. The Saudi influence in America has plummeted to a many-decades low. And the TPP will unite most of Asia on our side of a growing alliance.

Name for me equivalents from the Bushites.

David Brin said...

You can bet that the ent - if he had even one “bean counting” statistic to bandy - WOULD bandy it! The fact that he squirms to condemn all bean counting is prima facie evidence of the headlong flight of the entire confederacy from any relationship with science or any other fact-grounded profession.

Is bean-counting everything? Hell no! Values matter! Intangibles like whether your kids respect each other enough to minimize teen sex and are smart enough to avoid teen pregnancy, STDs and domestic violence. Conservatives used to frown at divorce… now they’ve twice nominated divorcees and are working on a third. They despised gambling… and are now run by casino lords.

In ALL of those categories, the confeds score far far worse on simple values grounds, as well as in competitive economics, delivery of goods and services and so on.

All the ent has is armwaved generalities, rooted in inchoate rage.

Here’s the irony. He and his ilk can see the same convergence as I do… that the confederacy-re-ignition will lead to poor white americans either veering toward 1933 Germany or 1933 America. The latter will happen! If they recall at all that FDR was the favorite person of the Greatest Generation for a reason.

If it is the former? The look up the Night of the Long Knives. The populists cannot win, down that route.

donzelion said...

Neither 1933 America nor 1933 Germany is an apt example for us to look toward for what lies ahead. Try 1870s; much richer metaphorical/allegoricies to mine.

Swap out Pax Britannica at its zenith (as the U.S. economy caught up to and then surpassed the Brits) with Pax Americana (as the Chinese economy catches up to ours and may, in turn, surpass us) - the parallels become stark.

1933 was only possible as a result (1) the Great Depression, (2) the real threat of the Soviets, (3) the experience of "the Great War." None of that is in play today.

But 1870s? Grant: strong man, weak president. Hayes v. Tilden (1876)? Extremely contentious - fractious country - and the outcome meant only that Reconstruction ended (and post-Confederates quickly restored their local, Jim Crowing oligarchs). An era of a thousand "minor thugs" - but lacking the narrative certainty offered by Hitler and Stalin (and Roosevelt) in the 1930s, so no one really thinks about it.

1876 was among the most contentious elections America ever had - but the whole project merely ignored the steady expansion of Standard Oil, JP Morgan, US Steel, and coal trusts. The oligarchs played the politicians against one another, and laughed all the way to their baronies.

Anabelle said...

Workforce participation. Number of people of disability. Now can we focus on getting the Party of Lincoln back into to power so they can fix this?

Catfish N. Cod said...


I swear, I wish we *could* use your system. It all sounds fair and logical and all that good stuff.

But I can't, because when you are talking about public security, part of what you are leasing out is the ability to enforce contract terms! You can try to keep surveillance, but you either are leasing out the surveillance contract (and lose control) or you keep it (and lose the efficiency gains). Same for subpoena power, investigating secret-keeping or violations, the works. Inspectors General only work because of the implicit threat hanging over them, a threat one weakens with every police power you parcel off. And if you think other means work well, remember the old saying that good soldiers can get you gold -- and these days, so can lawyers, hackers, politicians...

No. I'm sorry, I just can't do it. I can trust anything else to at least a partial market solution, but the licenses to force and investigation are what keeps everything else working. I can't feel safe unless a State accountable to everyone and strong enough to enforce on anyone is the wielder of power.

You can make the Leviathan answer to the People. You can strip the Leviathan down to its essentials. You can force it to be powered by purified components. But you can't get rid of the Leviathan entirely.

Tacitus said...

Annabelle, even I - the designated Conservative punching bag here - would not call the modern day GOP the party of Lincoln. Nor would I call the modern Dem party anything akin to the Copperheads of that era.

David I do not write in anger. I'm not sure why you detect that when I try to express Contrary Opinions.

I also find your view of military readiness to be simplistic and reflexive. It is a more complex topic than that. I don't have time this morning but the matter does range widely including the overall plan to reduce numbers of combat brigades by 2017, reduction in headquarters staffs, definitions of ready (I guess on the Korean DMZ is deployed, not counting as ready.)

I suppose it is not surprising that the Pentagon does not have a website listing this sort of thing in detail, it seems like that would be a bad notion.

But if you wish to present your statistics, those so oft held up as Writ, of course do so.


locumranch said...

By referencing the degenerate nature of most conservatives, and almost entirely by accident, David touches on the true motive force behind a New Confederacy:

The conservatives lost (and the progressives won) long ago, leaving only a small but growing numbers of reactionary conservatives engaged in political discourse, while a self-identified conservative majority attempts to 'conserve' a fraying progressive establishment brought about by the destruction of the traditional 'conservative' social contract.

Social statistics tell this sad story: Fewer than 46% of U.S. children reside within the traditional family unit; 40% of children are born to single unmarried women; 34% of U.S. children reside in single mother (one parent) households; and 70% of men under age 34 are currently unmarried to either women or pro-establishment policies.

This is 'progress', we've been told, because elimination of the prior Social Contract is 'good' because it liberates, elevates & 'empowers' an oppressed (mostly) female majority, yet it is a 'progress' that comes at the cost of growing (mostly male) marginalisation, disenfranchisement & antiestablishmentarianism.

In such an oligarchy dominated by a few 'Apex Males', wherein (mostly) females have become the new Eloi and most males have become the new Morlocks who are expected to live invisibly, maintain the infrastructure & labour without reward, we 'conservatives' have become increasingly 'hangry' (a neologism that combines 'hunger' with 'angry') for our just reward.

Bon Appetite !!

Treebeard said...

For me the prescription drug and imprisonment rates in Amerika are telling. To keep this place functioning, we have to medicate and/or imprison a large fraction of the population. For the rest there is a sustained propaganda barrage to get them to docilely accept their dose of Amerikan progress. Then you have the decreased life expectancy of the demographic of this blog, which I would think might be of concern, and levels of autism and suicide that may be unprecedented in the history of the world.

This is what a radically inorganic, bean-counter made society produces, I suppose. But of course, everything is glorious, things are getting better and the future belongs to us, just as it did for readers of Pravda in the Brezhnev era of the U.S.S.A -- I mean U.S.S.R.

David Brin said...

Sure, this time locum points to some trends that I'd prefer to gracefully reverse. In fact, the truth? I do blame feminist leaders for failing to broaden their focus and realizing their constituents - most women - would like to see marriage returned to the list of things meriting active preservation. Just as I am perfectly willing to point to the greatest foolishness of the left in our lifetimes - forced school bussing - as a calamitously stupid insanity, without any basis and that helped fuel the confederacy's re-ignition.

Having said that, ALL the trends he complains about, above, have slowed under Obama. And ALL of them are worse in the "moral" down home states (except Utah.)

And we'd be happy to talk to sane conservatives with suggestions how to motivate good home life attitudes and especially girls and women choosing well. Alas... sand conservatives exist, but they cower and scamper for safety under the trampling of an elephant that is frothing insane.

David Brin said...

How frustrating for treebeard. He knows that the worst trend in America, causing most of the angst he rages about, is the widening wealth disparity and the return of oligarchy. Yet if he admits that, then the blame falls rightly on the rabid foxites who have given that flood of wealth to new feudal lords.

David Brin said...

Never mind.




matthew said...

This may go in the registry: company announces headphones that release dopamine.