‘Mad as hell’?

Mad as hell

There is a palpable anger in our politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Here in the UK, one Labour MP was shot recently, and others have been threatened. This verbal violence is happening in the Labour Party, which preaches equality and social justice. It did not happen under Miliband, Brown and Blair, but it does under Corbyn, who, of course denounces it, but seems incurious about why it is happening on his watch, and quite unable to stop it. One of the problems with being a social justice warrior seems to be that the end justifies the means; demonise your opponents, and then you can treat them as demons; it is not a good way to do politics. There were some ugly scenes and the RNC last week, and there will be at the DNC this week. Meanwhile across the Channel, there have been attacks in Nice, Munich and other places, and the authorities, presumably trying not to stir things up, play down any religious motive in them, which, alas, simply makes ordinary people even more suspicious about what is going on. All of this increases the sense many ordinary people have that politics has become a place where the elites enrich themselves at our expense – and to steal a phrase, it makes many ‘mad as hell’ and they ‘don’t want to take it’.

In the UK the opinion formers and the media were confident that ‘Remain’, their side, would win, and as a ‘Remainer’ I hoped it would. But they ran an ugly and negative campaign, mainly around economics, warning us of the consequences of failing to vote the right way. What they failed to understand was that millions already feel penalised by the system, so they didn’t really see it getting much worse for them personally; the alienated, the simply fed up and grumpy, and the ardent ‘leavers’ were sufficient to overturn conventional wisdom and the predictions of the pollsters, and so the ‘Remain’ side lost.

This time last year we were confidently being told Trump would not survive the summer; then it was the autumn he wouldn’t survive; then it was ‘Super Tuesday’ that would bury him; then it was an agreement among his challengers which would finish him off; then he became the nominee. The media don’t ‘get it’. He does not follow the Clinton playbook. We shall see, with Hillary whether that one still works, but it does not work with the millions who are sick to their back teeth of self-serving, venal and lying politicians. Sure, Trump’s a load mouth, sure he’s rich, but the Americans have never minded rich men, it is politicians enriching themselves to which objection is taken; Trump’s riches mean he can’t be bought; if Hillary were a listed company she’d have a who board of directors running her.

Here in the UK, the new PM, Theresa May, came in talking of her sense of public duty and acknowledging that many people felt they were being left behind; these are good words, but they need to be followed by delivery. There is a palpable sense that the anger currently felt begins to threaten the system itself. The political system is not an end in itself, but it seems to have become one for the politicians and the lobbyists; unless it begins to fulfil the ends for which it exists – the public good  – the public may decide to end it – and if that happens, it won’t be pretty. We need to rediscover a sense of duty and morality in public life – we have gone on too long as though those were mere words – well words alone no longer suffice.

Special Favors For Businesses Don’t Benefit Taxpayers

shutterstock_439358455Interesting story here.

This election cycle has stunned even the most seasoned political prognosticators. Voters are clearly fed up with the “Washington Way,” lashing out like never before. If voters truly want to shake up the political landscape, they should start by demanding separation between big government and big business.

Corporate favoritism is when government takes taxpayer money and gives it to big businesses in the form of handouts, a practice that is rampant in America. Almost every day of the year, you can find a story about government at some level—be it federal, state, or local—doling out hardworking taxpayers’ money to a big corporation. The aim is to convince that company to relocate to, expand, or simply stay in their area. Some have coined this “press release economics,” where politicians cut ribbons and deliver statements about the jobs they are creating with these handouts.

But the consequences of corporate favoritism are dire. Since 2005, Tennessee taxpayers have handed over $1.75 billion to big businesses via handouts. All too often, corporate favoritism lines the pockets of millionaires with the tax dollars of the middle class. But most Americans would agree a company’s success should rely on what good or service it provides, not who its executives know.

These corporate handouts also mean we have less money for true government services. Every dollar forked over to a massive company is one less dollar that can be invested in maintaining our roads, educating our children, or keeping the public safe. It’s not the role of government to prop up large businesses with taxpayer money, yet more and more dollars are being redirected from other government services to do just that.

Every dollar forked over to a massive company is one less dollar that can be invested in maintaining our roads, educating our children, or keeping the public safe.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes those big businesses even take the money and run. We all remember Solyndra, a name that has become synonymous with failed corporate bailouts. In 2009 the solar company misled the federal government to obtain more than half-a-billion in federal stimulus grants, only to go belly-up two years later.

via Special Favors For Businesses Don’t Benefit Taxpayers

All true, and indeed it’s always been true to some extent, at least as long as there has been big business. Not that it is entirely their fault, as someone said during the Credit Mobliér scandal in the nineteenth century, we paid the bribes but we aren’t the ones that accepted them.

But just how widespread is this bad, antithetical, and anticompetitive practice? Well, James Bessen has some information on that, and a chart.

Profits are up. …is it good news for society?

…the rise in profits might represent a decline in…economic dynamism. …Firms engage in political “rent seeking”—lobbying for regulations that provide them sheltered markets—rather than competing on innovation. If so, then high profits portend diminished productivity growth. …In a new research paper, I tease apart the factors associated with the growth in corporate valuations.

I find that investments in conventional capital assets like machinery and spending on R&D together account for a substantial part of the rise in valuations and profits, especially during the 1990s. However, since 2000, political activity and regulation account for a surprisingly large share of the increase.

I find that investments in conventional capital assets like machinery and spending on R&D together account for a substantial part of the rise in valuations and profits, especially during the 1990s. However, since 2000, political activity and regulation account for a surprisingly large share of the increase.

[And the chart]

w1056

via: A Very Depressing Chart on Creeping Cronyism in the American Economy

How’s that for depressing, corporate America is making nearly as much money, playing the regulatory system, as they are from using their own money. And this is nearly part of the damage. A lot of what they do in the regulatory system is to use the government to stifle competition. We’ve said many times, and if you have any sense, you know it as well, that a large elephantine corporation can’t change direction quickly enough to respond to a dynamic market. But if they can use the government (and their guns) to suppress competition, it no longer matters. But the lost profits to the suppressed companies, and whatever they might have done with the profits (which we simply can’t quantify) are completely lost to us.

And so we have a triple loser here, from the standpoint of the individual taxpayer.

  1. We have the wasted tax dollars (like Solyndra)
  2. We have unresponsive, too big to fail corporations (yes, banks as well)
  3. We lose whatever products and payroll those other competitors (who were suppressed) might have provided.

Hard to see how we taxpayers could get a worse deal, it would literally be better for us, if they burned $100 bill to heat the capitol.

GOP Environmental Platform, a Nice Dream

Good stuff, here, from the Republican Environmental Platform.

“The most powerful environmental policy is liberty, the central organizing principle of the American Republic and its people.”

The Republican platform on the environment is factual and realistic. It focuses on real environmental issues and not the trumped up one of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant. It looks to science but also political economy. “Science allows us to weigh the costs and benefits of a policy so that we can prudently deal with our resources,” the platform reads.“This is especially important when the causes and long-range effects of a phenomenon are uncertain.”

And better yet: “We must restore scientific integrity to our public research institutions and remove political incentives from publicly funded research.” Climate science research, it is time to go honest or go home.

Free-market environmental policy complements and supplements the Republican’s free-market energy policies, discussed yesterday. It puts people first. It reflects a Julian Simon view of the world.

And finally, private ownership, a staple of free market environmentalism. is elevated. After all, “The enduring truth is that people best protect what they own.”

The Platform follows.

Protecting Our Environment

The environment is getting cleaner and healthier. The nation’s air and waterways, as a whole, are much healthier than they were just a few decades ago.

Efforts to reduce pollution, encourage recycling, educate the public, and avoid ecological degradation have been a success. To ensure their continued support by the American people, however, we need a dramatic change in the attitude of officials in Washington, a shift from a job-killing punitive mentality to a spirit of cooperation with producers, landowners, and the public.

An important factor is full transparency in development of the data and modeling that drive regulations. Legislation to restore the authority of States in environmental protection is essential. We encourage the use of agricultural best management practices among the States to reduce pollution.

Our Republican Party’s Commitment to Conservation

Conservation is a conservative value. As the pioneer of conservation over a century ago, the Republican Party believes in the moral obligation of the people to be good stewards of the God-given natural beauty and resources of our country and bases environmental policy on several common-sense principles.

For example, we believe people are the most valuable resource, and human health and safety are the most important measurements of success. A policy protecting these objectives, however, must balance economic development and private property rights in the short run with conservation goals over the long run. Also, public access to public lands for recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting should be permitted on all appropriate federal lands

via GOP Environmental Platform: Free Market Directions – Master Resource

There’s considerably more at the link, and it’s all good, I think. As always, of course, the question is whether anybody at all sees it as a sketch plan to be implemented, or whether its all flights of fancy merely written to help get elected. I’m cynical enough these days, to suspect strongly the latter. But even so, the mere fact of it being adopted by one of the major parties is good. Except hardly anyone will bother reading it.

That has much to do with the root cause of our malaise, I think. We have, in far too great a measure, become, not a Republic, let alone the Great Republic, but a society who every four years elects our form of a God-king. That has consequences, especially in a world where no man is fit to govern himself, we increasingly give one man (or woman) the power to rule 300 million, nearly unchecked.

And that is the rub. Good intentions are lovely, but we all know the road to hell is paved with them, and so it is here. Many of our problems can be traced to never thinking anything through to the ultimate results. Could it have been seen back in 1964 or so that paying (especially black) women more to raise kids without a father, than if he was present would lead to single parent homes? Of course, we could, but I don’t remember anyone saying so, at the time. It’s been the same in almost every aspect of the growth of government, look for instant gratification, never mind the medium and/or long term results. That is how we got into the mess we are in now.

Some say that is characteristic of democracy. That’s plausible, but we are supposedly a representational democratic republic. We elect people to devote full time to study the best ways to implement our goals. What we get are time servers who never think of anything beyond getting re-elected to the gravy train.

The only solution is to put government back into the box that the founders confined it to. When it again become a duty to serve, usually to one’s own detriment, will we again have a government that truly represents the people’s interest.

Progressivism Is a Long-Term Threat to the Rule of Law

Many know how much I dislike Donald Trump. It predates the 2016 campaign. He strikes me as an opportunist who plays the system, without ethics, or morals, and as a blowhard, with very few redeeming social qualities. I wouldn’t care to even have a beer with him, let alone any closer association.

Nevertheless, I may find myself voting for him. Why? Because Hillary is far worse. Let John O McGinnis explain.

Many people are concerned about Donald Trump’s commitment to the rule of law, a concern I share. But the other choice in this election is a Progressive one, and Progressivism by its nature lacks that commitment. Moreover, its history shows that it permanently damages the constitutional foundations of the United States. And the United States suffers from the fevers of progressivism more than any time since the 1960s.  Thus, this election pits a candidate lawless by virtue of temperament against one lawless by virtue of ideology and emboldened by the spirit of the times.  The rule of law is under threat, whoever wins.

Progressivism has proved a greater long-term danger than any single individual, because it is born in part out of systematic rather than personal hostility to the Constitution. Federalism and separation of powers are obstacles to the social engineering at the heart of progressivism, and thus progressivism has tried to eviscerate these restraints. Packed with FDR appointees in the 1930s, the Supreme Court gutted the enumerated powers. The administrative state has eroded the separation of powers, making the executive ever more powerful in domestic affairs. The theory used to justify these departures from the original constitution, living constitutionalism, is itself a threat to the rule of law, because it devalues the formal rules laid down by the Constitution.

via Progressivism Is a Long-Term Threat to the Rule of Law – Online Library of Law & Liberty

I’m not a fan by any means of voting for the least evil, over the years, I’ve often abstained, and in fact, may do so this year. But what I claim as an act of conscience, is, at least in part, “Screw you, a plague on all your houses.” Childish and petty it may well be, but it is my right to withhold my approval for any candidate. Whether I do so depends on the situation.

One reason that I can do that is simply that I live in the 3d Nebraska Congressional district, Trump will win whether I vote, don’t vote, or set fire to my polling place. I’ll likely vote because there are down ticket races I care about, and I have the illusion that my wishes might matter there.

This is not ideal, except for Republicans seeking office, just as for Democrats in the big cities, it often leads to temptation, and to corruption. As we keep saying, a loyal opposition is necessary to the proper operation of the government. It doesn’t matter what party or group is alone in charge, it tends to forget its mission and start granting favors. I think it’s simply human nature.

This is why, I think that the Founders, especially Washington, were so opposed to faction, what they really desired was each man striving openly for his own ideals. Frankly, Washington was much too good a man to be a political theorist or a politician; most men lust after power and money and always remember that one can be exchanged for the other. Trump and Clinton definitely included.

So something to think about as we watch the politicians make fools of themselves in Cleveland this week, how do we fix, really fix our broken system?

The State: and Terrorism

marcus-cicero-freedomSo, on Bastille Day, the French version of Independence Day, which far more than ours represents a revolt against the authorities, a guy named Mohamed, decided that a crowd of people in Nice, France  were having too much fun so he drove his truck over them, and then committed suicide by cop. It was pretty obviously an Islamic terrorist attack. You haven’t read much about it here, simply because I see little point, in rehashing things we all know. I’m as appalled and angry as any, I just wait until I know enough to write about things, and there’s little point to being the 684th to say something.

What matters to us, as a society, is what we do about these things. Horrific things haves always been done, often in the name of Islam. They’ve been done in the name of Christianity too, in the past, but several centuries ago, Christianity seemed to grow up, and no longer feels the need to torture and kill people. Any that can’t see that distinction are either delusional, or that have other motives.

Who gains from terrorism? ISIS at least thinks they do, and right now, it appears to be working as a recruitment tool. Someday, that will likely change, if their subjects ever figure out that the leaders don’t do suicide attacks, they live much too well, but send the sons and daughters of the poor and oppressed to do them. Or if western society ever gets their earplugs out and blindfolds off, and takes care of business. As westerners, that should be our concern, there’s no fixing ISIS, any more than there is stupid; evil is as evil does.

But who else benefits from Islamic terrorism? Western governments do. No, not as representatives of the people, but as the rulers of the people. You’re going to have to think through this with me. We like to think our governments represent us. I submit they don’t, they rule in our name, but for their own benefit, whether elected or civil service, their good is not our good. Our good would be best served if they stayed out of our business, and left us alone, to succeed or fail, and get back up and try again.

But the government’s interest is best served by regulating any and all aspects of our life that they can get away with. What you do for a living, for recreation, marriage, sports, everything. Not to metion how you do literally everything. In addition, their meddling has made our formerly productive enterprises, whether steel, automotive, clothing, what you eat and drink, whether your doctor can help you, or almost anything else you can think of uncompetitive, mostly because of government’s interference in the free market. Many want to claim that they’ve made life better or safer, or some such claptrap. That may be true, for those unwilling to work to eat, for the competent, the willing, and the productive they have made it nearly impossible.The old saying is: if it moves regulate it; if it doesn’t paint it. With an overpaid (and underskilled) painter, of course.

And so over the years, terrorism has multiplied the benefits of government over the people they used to serve, from the execrable TSA, to the NSA, to the militarized police, both local and federal, terrorism has allowed the government to grow, and to intrude into our lives.

Many have come to the conclusion that a breakdown in morals is responsible for where we are. Well, they’re right, sort of. The breakdown of morality is a symptom, not a cause. It is in the direct interest of the state to destroy the family, it leads to the populace being dependent on the government, not the family (or the individual) finding its own way through life. In exactly the same way, Christianity, which forms the basis of our morals, and ethics, has come to be seen by the government as an enemy of the state.

We’ve said it before, If you cannot fail, you cannot succeed. And that is where we are, the safety net is so expensive and close beneath our feet, that we can no longer fail, instead we fail at leading a life which we can be proud of, not necessarily getting rich, but having a fulfilled life, that is what our governments have stolen from us, using our money to do so.

Falkland once wrote, “What should not be changed, must not be.” Very true, and like all deep truths, so is its opposite, “What cannot be changed, must be”.

And soon, if free societies are to survive. That will be difficult, I say it is our right, nay it is more, it is our duty to do so.

American Society on the Brink

Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote an article in National Review which makes a good follow-on for yesterday’s article here. Overall, VDH isn’t as optimistic as Brandon Smith. He sees the racial divide (and the racialism) in America as approaching (or perhaps past) the tipping point, that will divide the country for a long time to come. I think his point is valid and shows us what may well be in store.

We watched the other week as Britain nearly tore itself asunder, as the Remainers acted badly as a result of losing the referendum, and I probably don’t need to remind many Americans that the Republican Convention is next week, in Cleveland. There are many threats flying about the internet, and while many are just big talk, it won’t take many to make even more of a mess of it than the party has done on its own. Here’s some of VDH.

“Punish our enemies” characterized Obama’s approach to race and bloc voting. Each time an explosive racial confrontation appeared on the national scene, Obama — always in his accustomed academic intonations — did his best to exploit the issue. So the Skip Gates farce was leveraged into commentary about police stereotyping and profiling on a national level. The police officer in the Ferguson shooting was eventually exonerated by Obama’s own Justice Department, but not before Obama had already exploited the shooting for political advantage, as part of a larger false narrative of out-of-control racist cops who recklessly shoot black suspects at inordinate rates to the population (rather than in the context of their national incidence of contact with police).

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Multicultural societies — from 19th-century Austria–Hungary to contemporary Iraq, Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda — have a poor record of keeping the peace between competing tribes. They usually end up mired in nihilistic and endemic violence.

The only hope for history’s rare multiracial, multiethnic, and multireligious nations is to adopt a common culture, one that artificially suppresses the natural instinct of humans to identify first with their particular tribe. America, in the logical spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was exceptional among modern societies in slowly evolving from its original, largely European immigrant population to a 21st-century assimilated, integrated, and intermarried multiracial society, in which religious and racial affiliations were incidental, not essential, to one’s public character and identity.

But such a bold experiment was always tenuous and against the cruel grain of history, in which the hard work of centuries could be easily torn apart by the brief demagoguery of the moment. Unfortunately, President Obama, ever since he first appeared on the national political scene in 2008, has systematically adopted a rhetoric and an agenda that is predicated on dividing up the country according to tribal grievances, in hopes of recalibrating various factions into a majority grievance culture. In large part, he has succeeded politically. But in doing so he has nearly torn the country apart. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to suggest that no other recent president has offered such a level of polarizing and divisive racial bombast.

Most recently, without citing any facts about the circumstances of the police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, Barack Obama castigated the police and the citizenry on their culpability for racial disparity and prejudicial violence. “[T]hese fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal-justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.” Obama did not yet know the race of the policemen involved (as in the case of Baltimore, the Minnesota shooting involved non-white officers), the circumstances that led to the shootings, or the backgrounds of either the officers or their victims.

Shortly afterwards, twelve Dallas law-enforcement officers were shot, and five of them killed, by a black assassin who declared solidarity with Black Lives Matter and proclaimed his hatred for white law enforcement. That outbreak prompted Obama to take to the podium again to recalibrate his earlier message. This time he amplified his gun-control message, and somewhat delusionally added that the upswing in racial polarization did not imperil national unity — in much the same way that, in years past, he had announced that al-Qaeda was on the run, we were leaving behind a stable Iraq, and ISIS was a jayvee organization. Note the Obama editorial method in the case of police incidents, from Skip Gates to Louisiana and Minnesota: He typically speaks before he has the facts, and when subsequent information calls into question his talking points and theorizing, he never goes back and makes the corrections. Nor does he address facts — from Ferguson to Dallas — that do not fit his political agenda. Finally, a police shooting of an African-American suspect is never an “isolated event,” while the shooting of an officer by a black assassin is isolated and never really thematic of any larger racial pathology.

via American Society on the Brink | National Review

And still, it needs to be said that the police shoot, in both absolute terms and as a percentage of those they come in contact with, more white males than any other group. But of course, facts don’t matter, especially if it conflicts with the narrative. By the way, I suspect we are all aware that that the homicide rate in the US is lower than it has been since 1973 or so, even with the war zones we call Chicago, Detroit, and others.

So, we are simply being fed a line, by our administration, and by the news media (redundancy alert, of course), even after the administration said flat out that they are a bunch of semi-useful idiots.

It comes down to this: Whoever or whatever team Obama is playing for, it’s not the team that wants to promote racial harmony and self-sufficiency in America. And you can safely bet that the unfriendly part of the world is watching, and laughing at us as America tears itself, and western civilization apart.

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