The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

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Ronald J. Pestritto, dean of the graduate school of statesmanship at Hillsdale College, joined The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss the rise of progressivism in American history and it’s role in shaping our government and modern politicians.

Pestritto’s research on the birth of American progressivism has lead him across the party lines as well as to politicians like Woodrow Wilson. “It’s really amazing how thoroughly [progressivism] comes to dominate politics and political culture toward the end of the 19th century,” Pestritto said. “The idea of progress and the power of that is deeply embedded.” […]

Later in the hour, Domenech and Pestritto discussed whether constitutional limits and ideas are even something that voters actually care about anymore. “Since the election of Barack Obama, we’ve had an extraordinary window of opportunity… to talk about constitutional principles,” Pestritto said. “I worry that the current election cycle season may mark the closing of that window.”

via The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

Pretty interesting stuff, I think you’ll enjoy it.

A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down: Now what?

This has been kicking around in my files for a month now, seems like the best-laid plans… In any case, as it grew less timely, I wonder if it hasn’t become important. I rather think it has. Seems to me that what he speaks of here is becoming more true in the US, at least, every day. A huge amount of the day-to-day reality of how politics is done is this country has been uprooted, on both sides. And so all is in flux.

How we put it back together to make it work (or not) is likely to be to be a large part of the question going forward. And do remember it’s not just us. Brexit in the UK, much of the turmoil caused by the Islamists in Europe, has much the same cause.

In large measure, I think all of the enemies of freedom around the world are sensing that the system is weak at the moment and that this may be their opportunity. They could be right, but they don’t have to be. How we answer the basic questions going forward will answer that question.

Western political systems are in the middle of a realignment. The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War. Reality is finally catching up with us, several years late, and doing away with obsolete political movements and parties.

We saw direct evidence of this when, on both sides of the Atlantic, ordinary people finally had a chance to circumvent their nations’ political elites. In the United States, Trump used his wealth and high profile to sidestep party donors, special-interest groups and political correctness.

In the United Kingdom, the referendum on European Union membership vested power temporarily in the British voting public, not Cabinet ministers or party whips.

These unusual circumstances exposed profound but long-hidden fault lines in both countries’ political systems. I knew these fault lines existed, but I was surprised by how quickly they devastated the status quo.

The American conservative movement, for instance, at least as we knew it before Trump’s entry into the presidential race last summer, no longer exists. Whether by accident or design, Trump ignored the reference points of left and right, putting together a coalition of Middle Americans who don’t care about ideological purity. Coming from old-fashioned Democratic and Republican backgrounds, these voters are united by a cultural conservatism that used to be standard in both parties. They care about pragmatic action on a handful of issues, mainly immigration, political correctness, crime and jobs.

Something similar happened in Britain. Outside the London cloister, Labour voters overwhelmingly rejected the metropolitan version of left-wing politics. Along with many shire Tories, they have specific views on sovereignty, independence and immigration. Just as in the US, this broad cultural conservatism used to be a given within each party until cosmopolitanism took its place.

We are heading for a politics in which the divisions are no longer just left and right, at least not in the sense we’ve used those terms for the past few decades. The shift is splitting all current movements into nationalist and internationalist wings – or perhaps populist and establishment, middle class and upper class, or urban and provincial.

This is happening because so many of the traditional features of left and right no longer apply to them. A working-class white person seeking representation used to find it in the left. Now what does he get? A movement telling him to check his “privilege”. A conservative used to be able to count on the right to make the case for cultural assimilation. Now he, too, is told to be quiet and make way for “progress”.

via A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down – CatholicHerald.co.uk

Like so much of what we write here, we have to answer the questions for ourselves. I’m not sure that there are correct answers, in aggregate, you have to answer based on our knowledge and bedrock philosophy. So do I.

The Immorality of Guaranteeing Minimum Standards of Living

184I’ve had times over the years when I thought Erick Erickson was the greatest thing since canned beer, and I’ve had times when I swore he burned down the brewery. Life is like that, we don’t always agree, and we got where we are by different routes. But the other day he wrote about the so-called living wage that the Democrats prattled on about last week. He’s completely right and here’s an excerpt.

The Democrats have discovered a new right. It is the right of people to live a certain lifestyle at a certain income if people work forty hours a week.

It sounds like a wonderful idea. Why shouldn’t Americans be guaranteed a certain level of income for hard work? If you disagree with the idea, you might just be a cruel and heartless person. Well, put me in the cruel and heartless camp. The bumper sticker idea will have long range and terrible consequences.

First, life is not fair. The Democrats are championing this idea to gloss over the fact that their ideas have caused economic stagnation. Instead of allowing the private sector to thrive, they just want to raise taxes from the successful and give to those who are not successful. But life is inherently not fair. Some people will always have better jobs and some people will make better life choices.

Second, this is welfare disguised. By the 1990s — when Bill Clinton was president — we learned that some people could get comfortable living on a welfare check and checked out of work. Their children spiraled into a cycle of dependency and poverty. In Genesis, God put Adam and Eve to work in the garden. There is something soul nourishing about work. When we all get to Heaven we will all have jobs. Getting people comfortable not working sucks their souls away and destroys their families.

But putting people to work and guaranteeing them a lifestyle does much the same. It encourages complacency and saps the desire to get ahead for many people.

via The Immorality of Guaranteeing Minimum Standards of Living | The Resurgent

Boy, he said a mouthful there. If you’re willing to pay people enough to live somewhat comfortably without working, people are willing to not work. Well, Duh, who’d a thunk it!

Along the same line, know what else doesn’t work? Pricing labor above its level. Steven Hayward found a report that the City of Seattle commissioned on how their new $11/ hour minimum wage is working out.

So it’s fun to notice this morning that the city of Seattle, which threw out both shoulders patting itself on the back for raising its minimum age to $11 an hour last year, is finding the results are . . . not so good. Seattle commissioned a study by a group of economists, who reported in a few days ago:

Yet the actual benefits to workers might have been minimal, according to a group of economists whom the city commissioned to study the minimum wage and who presented their initial findings last week.

The average hourly wage for workers affected by the increase jumped from $9.96 to $11.14, but wages likely would have increased some anyway due to Seattle’s overall economy. Meanwhile, although workers were earning more, fewer of them had a job than would have without an increase. Those who did work had fewer hours than they would have without the wage hike.

Accounting for these factors, the average increase in total earnings due to the minimum wage was small, the researchers concluded. Using their preferred method, they calculated that workers’ earnings increased by $5.54 a week on average because of the minimum wage. Using other methods, the researchers found that the minimum wage hike actually caused total weekly earnings to drop — by as much as $5.22 a week. . .

If employers cannot stay in business while paying their staff more, they will either hire fewer people or give their workers fewer hours. As a result, even if wages per hour increase, workers’ total earnings could decline. . .

They attributed a wage increase of about $0.73 an hour for low-income workers to the minimum wage, and another $0.45 an hour to the improving economy. After the increase, Seattle’s workers got about seven more hours in a quarter. Workers’ hours increased even more in other parts of the state, however, leading the researchers to conclude that the minimum wage reduced the number of hours worked quarterly by 3.2, roughly 15 minutes each week.

Those figures do not include workers without jobs. The economists estimated that the minimum wage decreased the share of workers with jobs by about 1.2 percentage points.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say: Unexpectedly!TM

via: Minimum Wage, Maximum Ignorance

Unexpectedly™, indeed. Unexpectedly,™ every conservative and every economist who said this would happen, was right still again.

Unexpectedly™ still again who did the liberals, Democrats, and media (Yes, I know, I repeated myself twice there) hurt the most?

Why, of course, the poor and the jobless, it’s what they do best!

Unexpectedly! ™

Party of the Rich (and Privileged)

583828184-former-new-york-city-mayor-michael-bloomberg-gestures.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2An interesting article and the author may well have several points here. Some of what he says, I agree, and as usual, some of it I disagree with. But it’s undoubtedly true that the Democrats have become the party of the rich, especially the newly rich, who got that way on the back of the taxpayers.

There are very few endorsements that are going to matter in this presidential election, but Michael Bloomberg’s might be one of them. On Wednesday night in Philadelphia, the three-term mayor of New York City called on his fellow independents to vote for Hillary Clinton. “I am asking you to join with me not out of party loyalty, but out of love of country,” Bloomberg said. Why? Is it because he’s so enthusiastic about her many virtues? Nope, it’s because a Trump presidency would be an unmitigated disaster: “He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.” Ouch. […]

Well, much of that is BS, at least in my opinion. Trump is not likely to be good for small business, no statist really, let alone a protectionist is, but he’s at least arguably better than Clinton. Nobody, at least since Reagan, has really been good for small business, although Bill Clinton’s term wasn’t terrible, but this is not the 90s. Clinton will be absolutely terrible, her support comes from the big business, cronyistic, corporatist bloc whose income depends on Washington, not real serving of the customer. That is also the weakness of Gary Johnson, his is a rather peculiar Libertarianism. Continuing:

It turns out Bloomberg wasn’t alone in this regard. There are millions of voters like Bloomberg—call them the “Bloombourgeoisie”—who might have voted for Romney if not for his stances on social issues, just as there are millions of voters who never would’ve voted for Romney if he hadn’t flip-flopped on abortion, and if he’d supported an amnesty for unauthorized immigrants. Republicans have built a coalition that is a far better fit for culturally conservative working-class whites than it is for the Bloombourgeoisie. If Donald Trump is any indication of where the GOP is heading, that trend will continue in the years to come.

Recently, Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the think tank New America, argued that Democrats have replaced Republicans as the preferred party of America’s wealthiest voters. In 2012, Barack Obama won a larger share of the vote of households earning $220,000 or more than Mitt Romney, the first time since 1964 that voters in the top 4 percent of household incomes backed a Democrat over a Republican. It’s a safe bet that many of these well-off voters chose Obama over Romney for the same reasons Bloomberg did: RINO Romney was just too right-wing for their tastes. And if these voters couldn’t warm up to Romney, you can only imagine how they’d feel about Trump. […]

After all, it’s bankers’ bonuses that keep cab drivers, doormen, and servers of all kinds employed.

Where Bloomberg parts company with let-them-eat-cake types is in believing that low-wage workers should be provided with Medicaid, SNAP, and high-quality charter schools for their kids, because it’s the right thing to do and because, to be blunt, it’s an insurance policy against a reprise of the French Revolution. It’s not an entirely crazy political philosophy, and it’s shared by a decent number of upscale urban liberals and suburban moderates. Bloombergism is not far off from the progressive Republicanism once represented by Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits. What it’s emphatically not is Sanders-style socialism, which holds that the chief threat to democracy is the outsized power of “millionaires and billionaires” like, well, Michael Bloomberg.

via Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton shows the Democrats are the party of the rich.

I can’t speak for you, of course, but none of these candidates speak for me. I, and likely you, have a fair idea of which level I’ll pull, but it will be in no sense a celebration, and may well be the wake of ‘my America’ to the world’s detriment. We’ll simply have to see.

Hat tip to Cranach

Gays, the Left, Terrorism, and a bit on Oil

w1056We’ve been talking most of the week about gays and conservatives, in a political context. You can find those articles here, here, and here. And yes, I am always very grateful when Jessica chimes in on these matters, I’m an old fuddy-duddy sometimes and a younger (and female, not to mention British) perspective helps quite a lot.

As Jessica said the other day, we are not discussing this as a religious matter. The US, particularly, long ago decided that while most of our citizens are Christians, and a plurality quite strong ones, our government is, and was meant to be, secular, although Christian belief and principles lie at its heart.

Not the least of these is the right to worship (or not worship) as you please. That’s one reason it’s quite difficult for me, and hopefully for many of you to consider Islam as our enemy. They have just as much right to worship Allah, as we have our triune God, or for that matter, as many of our citizens do, to worship ‘the God’s of the Marketplace’.

Radical Islamists are another story, however. They have indisputably (unless you’re a leftist, I guess) made it clear that they are an enemy of our culture. If we are wise, we will recognize both that they are, and act on it. Yes, the world is a complicated place, and not prone to useful over-simplification very often.

The ad that leads this article makes a valid point. I found it both funny and profound, and I found the leftist hysteria that resulted from it even funnier. I haven’t heard even the most radical Christian say that we should be killing gays, have you? Didn’t think so. And that is the difference between Christian and radical Islamist – they do so advocate, and they do so act.

That leaves the question hanging as to why the left insists on propping up the Saudi (and other) fundamentalist Islamic regimes. Canada and the United States have it within our power to impoverish all of these states, to the point they would go back to being the irrelevant hellholes they were when the United States was founded. And make a profit doing it, just like we did with the Soviets.

In fact, the very people that first protested that ad were exactly the same people who killed the Keystone Pipeline. Leaves me wondering if they are simply against progress or against western civilization. Wonder if Jane Kleeb would like to answer that question, since it has cost our joint state of Nebraska several million dollars, just in the construction phase.

So, I can only conclude that those people consider it perfectly fine to kill gays, and support radical Islamists. After all, where I grew up, actions speak louder than words. Of course, as Jessica said the other day, leftists think of various groups as ‘brands’ (check out those WikiLeaks emails for more on this) and like some other mass marketers will say one thing to one group and quite the opposite to another. That’s why for those of us who pay attention, they long ago lost any credibility they ever had. Not the first brand to kill itself off that way, and I doubt it will be the last either.

Of course, none of this is new for the left, in either Britain or America (likely in all of Europe, but I don’t know as much about that). Radical Islam is hardly the first mass-murderer that the left has made an icon of, witness Castro’s executioner, Che Guevara, who the left has made an icon out of, as well as others. Here, find out a bit more about him, and see if you think he is an appropriate hero for anybody who values life, let alone freedom. Hat tip to The Daly Gator.

You’ll excuse me while I wash my mind of the thought of who some of my countrymen think are heroes.

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.

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