Jack Move II

There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them.

In 2016, the smug style has found expression in media and in policy, in the attitudes of liberals both visible and private, providing a foundational set of assumptions above which a great number of liberals comport their understanding of the world.

It has led an American ideology hitherto responsible for a great share of the good accomplished over the past century of our political life to a posture of reaction and disrespect: a condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason.

Emmett Rensin (emphasis added)

.

I was born and raised in Trump country. My family are Trump people. If I hadn’t moved away and gotten this ridiculous job, I’d be voting for him. I know I would.

See, political types talk about “red states” and “blue states” (where red = Republican/conservative and blue = Democrat/progressive), but forget about states. If you want to understand the Trump phenomenon, dig up the much more detailed county map. Here’s how the nation voted county by county in the 2012 election — again, red is Republican:

Mark Newman / University of Michigan The country is lava.

Holy c***slaps, that makes it look like Obama’s blue party is some kind of fringe political faction that struggles to get 20 percent of the vote. The blue parts, however, are more densely populated — they’re the cities. In the upper left, you see the blue Seattle/Tacoma area, lower down is San Francisco and then L.A. The blue around the d***-shaped Lake Michigan is made of cities like Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago. In the northeast is, of course, New York and Boston, leading down into Philadelphia, which leads into a blue band which connects a bunch of southern cities like Charlotte and Atlanta.

Blue islands in an ocean of red. The cities are less than 4 percent of the land mass, but 62 percent of the population and easily 99 percent of the popular culture. Our movies, shows, songs, and news all radiate out from those blue islands.

And if you live in the red, that f****** sucks.

David Wong

Conservatives believe, rightly or wrongly it doesn’t matter, that the media is biased against them. This shows up in such ways as: how any opposition to the ACA is painted as racist; accusations that even when the job they have is legislating, they aren’t governing; or, claims that if the branches of government that the Republicans have just taken back use the checks and balances that the constitution provides them, it must be because they aren’t serious senators. Couple this with accusations that every Republican running for President is akin to Hitler, and that opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants being solely motivated by racism. (A claim supported by the one of the party elite no less!)

Is it any wonder that the party rank and file would jump at a solution that both those very same party elites and the media (which contains very few members of the political background that motivates these non-elite Republican party members) find abhorrent? That the talking heads of our media couldn’t see nor believe the rise of it? That the rank and file instinctively know that the left have no real ability to counter? Finding someone who the media couldn’t counter was of utmost importance, for all the reasons listed above, along with the most salient reason of all: the simple fact that if they want to win, they cannot play the game as set out by a media who say things such as What’s the matter with Kansas?

A jack move allows the player to stop the clock, bust a fortress, get a touchdown instead of a field goal. It can also cost you a game. Different from a Hail Mary, it attempts to change the rules, to force everyone to accept a new paradigm.

Aaron David


Staff Writer

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

314 thoughts on “Jack Move II

  1. but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them.

    Perhaps the way the message has been delivered is wrong. Hell, im willing to stipulate that the delivery is all wrong. Smug, insulting, etc.

    But what about the message?

    Half the country (or half of the half, it doesn’t matter)thinks if only illegal immigrants are kicked out and China is made to behave, the Ohio River factories will hum again. It’s not going to happen because it’s imposible. Even if the factories ever hum again, they will be fully automatizad with only a handful of college graduate technicians remotely operating empty factory floors.

    And this is just one sample of reality being the opposite of what the non smug, non liberal, non cities in the coast elites, believe. I can bring scores of other examples: Common Core is an indoctrination plan (we are never told indoctrination about what) instead of a technocratic proposal to improve the (not very good) performance of public school students; Christians will be persecuted; PoC are inherently criminally inclined; fake transgenders will lurk in bathrooms to rape our children; Muslims are terrorists (and Islam orders Muslims to lie to infidels); climate change is a hoax; and the list goes on.

    How can we convince half the country that they are objectively wrong about a lot of stuff? Because until most of the country starts to acknowledge those aspects of reality they are not comfortable about, nothing will improve. And that means that nothing will improve for those that resent the liberal smugness either.

    Report

    • How can we convince half the country that they are objectively wrong about a lot of stuff?

      Dunno – i guess a parallel question is, how can they convince you? Are you open to the possibility that you yourself might be mistaken or horribly biased about some things? How open are you to being told by someone from the other tribe that you’re wrong? If you’re just talking and not listening, just seeing the worst in them and the best in your side, why should they be any different?

      Report

      • If I don’t know that religious liberty is important, that sexual assault is bad, that immigrants have made this country what it is, then I don’t know anything at all. Trump pushes up against the limits of what I will ever, under any circumstances, reconsider.

        Report

        • Our problems remain epistemic. You believe very strongly that religious liberty is very important, but what would you say to someone who doesn’t believe like you do?

          Let me play devil’s advocate here and try to lay out the case against religious toleration.

          The empirical evidence is that religious persecution is effective: The sheer number of muslims in the indian subcontinent is largely a product of coerced conversions during the mughal period, especially during and after Aurangzeb’s reign. While the people who convert in the first generation don’t do so sincerely, having grown up in an environment where contrary doctrines are not held publicly, future generations will be sincere believers (like the many indian, bangladeshi and pakistani muslims are). If Islam is the true religion* and non-muslims are doomed to hell, then Aurangzeb should be praised and not condemned for his persecution of non-muslims since his acts have made it such that more people are now saved who would not have been if he had not done so. Something similar might be said about the spread of christianity in india. Certainly the portugese inquisition and other religious coercion employed by later colonial masters played no small roll in this.So, it is not the case that religious intolerance is necessarily inefficacious.

          Perhaps if you cared enough about autonomy for independent reasons, that as an independent value would trump the value of everyone believing the right thing. But it is unclear why you should care about autonomy so much. Perhaps there is some sort of reciprocity principle which you might want to invoke, but even if reciprocity is so valuable, it is not the case that by coercively preventing people from professing harmful beliefs, I am doing something that I wouldn’t want others to do to me. After all, even if coercion could not get me to actually and sincerely repudiate any harmful belief I had, I may nevertheless wish that if there was such a belief I had, someone would coercively prevent me from propagating that belief by action or word. So, we are back to Aquinas according to whom if you are in the minority, advocate tolerance, but whenever you are in power, wipe out the infidel.

          How would you respond to the above? One move you could make is to put pressure on what reasons I have to think that my religion is correct. But all that does is reinforce the notion that endorsing a liberal society is not compatible with sincere belief.

          The point I’m trying to make here is that we liberals really haven’t done a good job of taking opposition to our basic commitments seriously. We’ve so far rested content with the fact that our opponents don’t have good or at least successful arguments for their side (and generally speaking they don’t!). And we’ve long erroneously thought that knocking down their side was enough. But, if our own beliefs are not supported by successful arguments and further if the considerations we use to disarm non-liberals can also be used against us, then we don’t really know that we are better. So, we really need to step up our game here. If liberalism is the right view, we need to do a better job of understanding why it is the right view. Its one thing if college grads overwhelmingly voted for clinton and the only people who voted for trump were uneducated rubes. But while trump did attract a greater proportion of the uneducated vote, a great many educated people still voted for him. If in the three years that people go to college we can’t convince people that liberalism is the right view, then we haven’t done enough.

          *replace as you will with what you think the right religious account is. If atheism is true and further if, as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers claim, religion is evil because it teaches people bad moral lessons and causes them to commit atrocities, then we can replace as appropriate. What is important is not just having a false or irrational belief, but it being seriously bad that people have that belief.

          Report

          • That’s a very good case from the perspective of a believer. I think there’s very little you can do to convince somebody who believes that they have the ultimate truth and that eternal suffering awaits anybody who doesn’t believe in and conform to that ultimate truth. We’re actually pretty lucky that religious tolerance is a thing at all, and I think the only reason it is is that people get tired of war after a few centuries of it and start to say, “Well, I guess I don’t care *that* much if those guys want to burn in hell.”

            I don’t know if telling people that religious intolerance leads to war and misery and a general lowering of the quality of life is enough. They probably just need to experience it for themselves until they or their great great great . . . grandchildren get tired of it and decide to try something else.

            Report

      • KenB:

        I’m pretty convinced about J_A’s list. But as a good technocratic liberal, I tell myself (presumably falsely) that I’m open to persuasion. Have at it. Pick a topic (climate change, for example) and persuade me that my concerns are misplaced.

        Report

        • Exactly. Let’s throw down. You bring your evidence, I’ll bring my evidence. Let’s both step back and honestly consider both sets dispassionately and disinterestedly (note: not uninterestedly).
          I changed my mind on climate issues. I changed my mind on military interventionism. I’ve voted for three different parties in Presidential elections. I have a history of being able to be convinced by superior argument. I happily admit that I’m always looking to see if what I currently believe is wrong.
          However. That means that the arguments I bring to the table already hold the belt against every other title contender I’ve met…

          Report

        • Pick a topic (climate change, for example)

          Fighting climate change currently means
          1) Funding boondoggles.
          2) Building coal plants rather than nuclear.
          3) Insisting poor people stay poor.
          4) Signing treatings which claim future politicians will make the painful choices the currents ones aren’t willing to make.

          If the greens were screaming for nuclear with one voice we might do something, as it is we’re not and I see little evidence this will change in the future.

          Report

      • I am totally open to change my mind

        For instance, Reshoring (bringing back industry) is actually happening already. I know it for a fact. But I just haven’t seen anything in my professional life that would make me believe that the new factories won’t be anything but fully automated. After all, in 1994 I was shown a Caterpillar facility in Peoria that was automated out of 90% of their personnel (from almost 1,000 to barely 100). Hell, those Caterpillar guys were really proud of it. Twenty fishing years ago. So it’s hard to believe that new factories will be built differently in 2017 than they were in 1994. But I’m willing to hear the economic argument why can that be the case

        And I’m anxious to see someone point out what portions of Common Core imply indoctrination to children? Or someone explain to me why my daughter would rather have Chaz Bono in her bathroom? Or actual persecution of Christians (as opposed to a mixture of apathy and mild disdain), or that Climate Change is indeed a hoax set up by a cabal.

        Are there data on the positions half the country support that we can all look at? Because most of the time I just hear people saying things without back up. Me, I’m a lover of footnotes and sources, and peer reviewed studies, so people can make up their minds based on facts.

        Report

      • For me, there’s probably not much they can do rhetorically because I think I’ve heard the good arguments and found them to be insufficient (not without merit, but not more right than wrong). If there are new arguments, I’m glad to listen.

        BUT…

        Given that they’re 100% in charge of the government starting early next year, I’d say they have a great opportunity to prove it with hard data. I’m data driven enough to flip my party allegiance and even a lot of my core beliefs about government if it turns out that I’m totally wrong about how those policies will play in the real world.

        Report

  2. Half the country (or half of the half, it doesn’t matter) thinks we can build a New Man who knows his place in the Oppression Olympics standings and thinks only of others less fortunate than themselves. That half (or half of half) believes this can be accomplished through an interlocking web of taboos, shibboleths and the bureaucratic cudgel of friendly institutions.

    That group of people is too entrenched and isolated to realize that their elaborately conceived set of norms and boundaries sounds like nonsense to everyone else. After all, they reason, the only reason they’re not towing the line is because of an *ism (take your pick) we’re too enlightened for.

    The left also can’t answer the problems of rural America because, unlike Trump and his fantasies, they aren’t proposing much for it. Rural white males know whose “bodies” are being “centered” and it isn’t the coal miner or hunter or unemployed factory worker whose painkiller prescription never seems to last the whole month. “Get in line,” they say, between deep sips from a “Male Tears” mug.

    You can argue whether that’s fair, but you can’t argue about who has the numbers. Attention must be paid.

    The white working class may not know what’s good for it, but they can tell who is paying attention.

    Report

  3. I have to agree with JA here. The factory jobs are not coming back except as automated masterpieces.

    Now what I will acknowledge is that the neo-liberal left does not have any answers and have piss poor rhetoric skills. But it is clear that libertarians are losing on free trade too even if they get to sneer at liberals for being smug.

    Report

  4. That group of people is too entrenched and isolated to realize that their elaborately conceived set of norms and boundaries sounds like nonsense to everyone else.

    Does it actually sound as nonsense to women, people of color, LGBT people, Asians, atheists, Muslims, Jews?

    Report

    • Do you think that all women, people of color, LGBT people, Asians, atheists, Muslim, and Jews think the same way and can be spoken on behalf of? Do all Asians think the same way? Do all Asians and Jews think the same way? Are all women interchangeable? Are they all interchangeable with atheists?

      Report

  5. As long as i’ve been old enough to be aware of political/cultural discussions ( i’m 51) i’ve heard smugness, those people are to stupid to know their ass from a hole in the ground, been called a traitor, unamerican, condescension for not knowing what is obviously correct and moral. I heard all that from the right side. Any explanation needs to account for all that somehow not mattering or being an issue but somehow liberal condescension ( which i definitely agree is there) is the big issue. How do we square the circle on this?

    Report

      • Yeah that is sort of where i’ve always seen this go. Identity politics is bad when POC’s use it so they should stop but was fine for generations when whites did. So POC’s are to blame now due to their identity politics, as if they invented it. I’ve often criticized BSDI arguments but i just seems like people are blind to BSDI mostly. It’s just a cheap attack and they miss it when they look in the mirror.

        Report

          • Well yeah i agree and also note that showing disdain for some groups seems to have worked well for Trumpy. It’s worked pretty well for the R brand with lots of people. Looking just at the D’s you can say disdain is bad, but is that the message R’s are getting?

            Report

            • “Looking just at the D’s you can say disdain is bad, but is that the message R’s are getting?”

              Dunno, we’ll see when the worm turns.What I do know is that the lyrics from that old X song seem very appropriate:

              “This is the game, that moves as you play.”

              Report

      • This may also have something to do with the whole bubble thing.

        How easy would it be for a liberal to avoid the opinions of smug toothless hillbillies?

        How easy is it for smug toothless hillbillies to avoid the opinions of college-educated liberals?

        Report

        • This is the kind of thing that drives me nuts. “Deliverance” was released in 1972. The vast majority of people using the term “flyover country” are conservatives who are absolutely convinced that someone, somewhere is making fun of them.

          And with 60 million people voting Democrat in the last election, I’m sure that someone is. But Obama worked his ass off to reach out to the white working class and to pass laws (like the ACA) that were for their benefit.

          And for that he gets Rush Limbaugh and the like assuring their audience that liberals, the left and feminazis are mocking them.

          What do you do with people who are completely committed to the idea that they are held in contempt, so that they can return the contempt in kind? (see, e.g., Rod Dreher.)

          Report

          • What do you do with people who are completely committed to the idea that they are held in contempt, so that they can return the contempt in kind?

            Without visiting them and letting them get to know you?

            I guess you can’t do anything, really.

            Report

          • Except it isn’t about scoring points or counting coup, it’s about understanding the other side well enough to craft your narrative/message such that it can appeal to them.

            The Obama administration failed to craft a message that spoke to them, and failed to craft one that could counter the likes of Rush.

            Rush or Trump may be bloviating fools, but they understood how to deliver the message to the audience they wanted to reach.

            I am starting to think that liberals have convinced themselves that if they try to understand the ‘lived experience’ of people who listen to Rush, or vote Trump, they’ll get their soul dirty, or something.

            Report

            • I lived in the south for years, building houses on a crew consisting mostly of illegal immigrants from mexico and good ole southern boys (my brother and i being the only exception, college educated whites from Northern Virginia). I can’t extrapolate that experience to the entire south, but the good ole boys, they didn’t listen to Rush because he knew how to deliver a message. . They listened because he delivered the message they were interested in. And because Rush allowed them to constantly revel in their victimhood (whether it be victims of the evil federal gov’t, brown people, black people (Obama allowed a doubly whammy – yeah), college liberals, etc.), their loyalty was won and they bought the rest of Rush’s he bull shit in its entirety. And watching parts of the crew, including the owner, bitch and moan about illegal immigration at the same time they padded their pockets by paying the mexicans here illegally less due their lack of bargaining power was quite tasty.

              So yeah, maybe on the margins, the delivery matters, but the message is where it’s at. And when the message people want to hear is confirmation that the other is coming, I’m not sure what you do with that.

              Report

              • A message is always in three parts: intent, content & delivery. Now I don’t listen to Rush or his ilk, but from what I gather, his intent is to acquire power & wealth by attracting listeners and advertisers (it is most certainly NOT to inform & educate). His content is a divisive “coastal liberal elites don’t like you or your lifestyle and want to silence your voice”, his delivery is targeted to his audience – rural people who feel as if their way of life is disappearing and are afraid of that. What do you think people want to hear more, that changing demographics and economics are making their lifestyle less attractive and feasible, or that there is an active effort to marginalize and destroy that lifestyle? So he tells them about all these urban elites who have it out for them, and the urban elites give him all the ammunition he needs (see the link Jaybird provides here) to do that with just a little bit of editing (like not playing the next 30 seconds of that clip).

                And then, even if he gets called on that missing 30 seconds, where HRC talks about taking care of those coal miners, all he has to do is ask where that help for the displaced coal miners is?

                Then you follow it up with how the focus of the urban elites is on unisex bathrooms, and gay wedding cakes, and funding abortions (i.e. PP), and higher minimum wage[1], and most certainly not on helping rural blue collar workers, which is easy to prove because those other things are controversial and thus front and center on all the media.

                This is easy, I should be a right wing radio host!

                So yeah, those urban elites will not have an easy time crafting a message to counter that, but it gets harder if you aren’t going into those communities and actually understanding that not everyone is a dyed in the wool racist who just loves being a victim. @j_a gets it. Most of those people are proud, they don’t want much except to have a job doing something meaningful[2] and to otherwise be left alone [3].

                [1] Higher minimum wages sure are nice, if there are jobs to be had. If there are no jobs, a higher minimum wage will make it that much harder for new jobs to appear in economically depressed areas, so the move mostly serves the interests of urban dwellers.

                [2] I think a lot of people give short shrift to the fact that a guy who worked 20 years in a mine, or a factory, is going to have a very hard time moving into a service job. Even if the pay is commensurate, the work is often not going to be meaningful to them.

                [3] Like with statewide or federal minimum wages, a lot of the social desires of urban elites are expressed through state or federal laws (unisex bathrooms, gay wedding cakes, abortions, etc.). This speaks to
                comment here – rural dwellers are not left in peace, they are constantly being told to accept & change things they don’t want, and even if I agree with the urban elites, I understand how these people feel they are under attack. Especially since the number of times rural voters have driven through social policy in the past 20+ years is something I can probably count on one hand. And when urban dwellers express opinions like Jessie did, coupled with urban elites expressing sympathy for Muslim refugees, especially given just how intolerant many Muslim societies are, and they come across as smug, hypocritical assholes who are anything but tolerant of rural America.

                Report

                  • You really have a problem with creative destruction, don’t you? The issue isn’t creative destruction, it’s the lack of having any kind of policy to address the displaced who lack the resources to bounce back on their own.

                    Report

                    • Pessimistically, one big problem is that both R leadership and D leadership knows full well that a lot of the people left behind just flat out won’t vote for someone who supports Roe. Just like a lot of urban boroughs are taken for granted WRT racial politics. So that removes an incentive to extend that particular olive branch, since there’s a big chance it will just be rebuffed anyway. I mean, we should do it, it’s the right thing – since the trade policies that urban elites pushed for had no small part in creating the problem – but in terms of electoral calculus it’s a hard sell.

                      Report

                    • The issue is celebrating it as if it were 100% positive rather than recognizing that it results in people being displaced.

                      The other issue is the insistence that every decision that throws people out of work is an increase in efficiency, when some of it is just dumbness, like outsourcing without thinking through what happens when vital function take place 12 time zones away. But that’s merely irritating.

                      Report

                • Especially since the number of times rural voters have driven through social policy in the past 20+ years is something I can probably count on one hand.

                  2004 – Gay marriage referenda was a big one

                  The problem is you can’t really make people do what they don’t want to do. You can take control of the state levers and, with enough guns in enough backs, sort of make people act as if they agreed with you. Until it’s safe for them to make clear they didn’t.

                  Social change is not driven by a conspiracy of smug elititists that hate rural people. Social change is driven by many factors, most, if not all, tied to the availability of information

                  Just an example, Religion:

                  it’s very easy to convince people your religion is True and Good if they don’t know about people that don’t share your religion. Once you know that a billion Muslims, another billion Hindus, another billion Budhists and another billion Confucianists exist, and are able to live ethical lives without reference to our Saviour Jesus Christ, people will realize that claims of Truth about a particular religion are impossible to make. Once you learn that the Universe is 14 billion years old and billions of stars wide, the claim that God chose this third rock from a non descript sun in a galactic exurb to incarnate merely 2,000 years ago suddenly seems parochial (where was God all those 13,999,999,998 years? Why did He chose primates 50,000 years ago and ignored dinosaurs for 200 million years?) you start to think that only a God of the Philosophers makes sense.

                  And next thing you know, religion is collapsing all over the world, and conservatives of all faiths are raging against modernity, because information taught people that other things are also possible.

                  We can repeat the analysis with women rights, racial prejudices (reading about how the Versailles Treaty writes had to square the Japanese victories in the 1905 and WWI Wars with the concept of the White Race superiority is mind opening), LGBT people, etc. It all comes down to “I know other people live differently, and I want to live like they do. Why can’t I?”

                  We cannot ignore reality. We really can’t. Much as we try.

                  Report

                  • Social change is not driven by a conspiracy of smug elititists that hate rural people. Social change is driven by many factors, most, if not all, tied to the availability of information

                    I know it isn’t, you know it isn’t, but a lot of people feel that it is, some of them are educated and pretty smart and really good at hyperbolic rhetoric.

                    Report

                      • Yep, free speech sucks, except when it doesn’t.

                        But this is my point, if you can not understand the how & why of their opinions, you can’t hope to craft a message they’ll accept. If you decide that everyone who voted for Trump is clearly racist & misogynist & could not possibly have a reason for voting for him that is orthogonal to that, you are going to miss a huge opportunity to engage those voters in a meaningful way.

                        Report

                • I get all that. I agree with much. But, most the people crying foul at the urban elites aren’t displaced coal workers, or factory workers. Most people in rural America actually have jobs, maybe not the exact ones they want. But that’s no different than urban folk. And the guys I worked with, they were living high on the hog, making $25-40/hr (which at 50/60 hours a week, at their choice, in the part of the world they lived, was a good living), skimming on taxes as much as humanly possible, skilled carpenters all them, building 10,000-20,000 sq ft houses.

                  Yet they were every bit as bitter as the out of work coal miners you describe. But they had the jobs they’d always had, and presumably wanted. Things were booming when I was there. We were building 10K – 20K RSF houses as fast as we could and always knew where the next 2-3 jobs were gonna come from. So they had jobs. Good jobs. And this was the mid-late 90s and they were mostly being left alone. Except for the outrage of the time. Something about an adulterer being in the white house. An uppity wife trying to push through health care. The details are fuzzy.

                  So while of course I empathize with the out of work coal workers, I’ve also watched the left try to do things to help them, even if not so effectively. Passing the ACA, trying to extend unemployment benefits, advocating for infrastructure/jobs programs while the interest rate is 0 and borrowing is free. If that is not evidence of the left’s empathy, what would be? Yet we’re called socialists redsitributionists, commies, panderers to those people, etc. And those efforts are effectively countered by Rush screaming bloody murder and Okeefe playing a edited video that everyone knows is edited.

                  So yeah, there’s a lot said about rural americans that sounds condescending. Guess what, with 300 million people there are condescending things said about everyone, including urban dwellers. Given that we’re never going to rid the US of people who say mean things about rural americans, and the victimized right’s aptitude for finding any little thing, and amplifying it, with the help of the Rush’s of the world, I think that for a large number of those were trying to reach, it’s simply a fool’s errand. And of course, the left makes mistakes too, like Hillary and “deplorables” , or Obama and “cling to guns and religion”, which don’t help, at all. But the fact that I can readily remember two the worst things the last two democrat nominees have said, and each pales in comparison to hundreds of utterances of elected righties, indicates to me there is a lot more anger, hate, and fear emanating from one side of the rural/urban divide that the other.

                  So the recommendation to be the bigger person, reach out and understand is hard to wrap your head around. Even though of course it is almost universally the right course of action, individually. Collectively, too. But asking or expecting it is utopian. Because unless your collective effort is 95%-99% effective, I don’t think your going to make any real difference, because there will still be enough fuel for the most efficient outrage machine ever invented. And yeah, the left’s got one too. But its years behind.

                  In closing, I actually think I’m as capable as any of “understanding the other side well enough to craft [my, or the left’s] message such that it can appeal to them.” But given the counter-narrative and the right’s aforementioned ability to amplify it, while I won’t say it will be useless, I definitely don’t think the juice will be worth the squeeze. I get that the idea is to keep trying, and I think we should, but let’s not let our failure to do so cloud the fact that it would have, and will continue to, make very little difference.

                  Report

                  • UGHHHH – sorry all. I like to hear myself talk ;) , but not quite that much. Editors please feel free to remove all but one. Hell, i guess your free to remove that one too, but i’d prefer if you didn’t…

                    was having some issues where my posts were not showing up…

                    Report

                  • And the guys I worked with, they were living high on the hog, making $25-40/hr (which at 50/60 hours a week, at their choice, in the part of the world they lived,

                    The reason they empathize is because such jobs are precarious. It’s good now, but if the market tanks… Of course a skilled carpenter has a lot more job flexibility than an unskilled miner, but still, I can see how they can empathize.

                    I’ve also watched the left try to do things to help them, even if not so effectively

                    That’s the thing, it’s not so effective. Actually, chances are it is effective, if you live near an urban area where the relevant government office is, so you can get help with the forms, etc. I live right near Seattle, so I don’t know what kinds of resources are deployed to help displaced rural workers, but if they don’t have boots on the ground (that people know about), so to speak, helping those workers where they live, they are missing out on a huge PR boost. I mean, why do these people turn to their church for help? Because the church is part of the community, not an hour or further away, hard to find, open only during business hours, closed for a 90 minute lunch, etc. It could very well be an impossible ask to put people in place, but if they aren’t there, I can guarantee it’s hurting.

                    But given the counter-narrative and the right’s aforementioned ability to amplify it, while I won’t say it will be useless, I definitely don’t think the juice will be worth the squeeze.

                    This is what I was getting at, I think. Understand where they are coming from and why they are not happy. It may not be worth the squeeze, but until you understand, you can’t really make that call.

                    Report

                    • I live in blue Houston, where the economic tracks the oil prices. I personally work in Aerospace, where you have a job depending upon the whim of congress and the boom/bust cycles of the aerospace market.

                      I didn’t go vote for a guy screaming about building a wall and banning Muslims, despite the fact that my job depends the vagaries of the House of Saud, Middle Eastern politics, and whatever random number generator is playing with the stock prices of companies like Boeing or Airbus, and of course whatever dang fool idea Congress has for NASA this year*.

                      *You want waste, fraud and abuse? Try giving NASA a Congressionally mandated goal, a lot of money, and then cancelling it after a year or two. Or radically changing it. And repeat year after year.

                      NASA probably spent more money on half-complete designs for ISS than they did building what eventually flew, because Congress changed requirements virtually every year. And then complained about the delays.

                      Report

                      • Damnit, took me forever to find this comment this morning…

                        Here is the critical part of your comment:

                        I live in Houston

                        Even if NASA did get all their funding cut, you have a really good chance of finding meaningful work that pays well enough because Houston is a major metro area. It might not even take you very long to find it. A carpenter living in Houston is in a similar boat, in that even if the current employer lets him go, unless Houston is in a major depression, he has a solid chance of finding work again in short order.

                        The carpenter out in Odessa, on the other hand…

                        Now take it even further, and instead of a carpenter, you have a coal miner with no flexible skill set (everything he knows is specific to coal mining and doesn’t translate well to other types of mining or construction work), and it’s a bad place to be.

                        And to wrap into this, your Houston carpenter may have an economic situation that is very parallel to what has, but he’s blue collar, so he’ll see more of himself in the carpenter in Odessa, or the coal miner, than he will in the aerospace code monkey. He’ll imagine himself not too far from those desperate straits, and he won’t even register, or will only weakly register*, Trumps racism and nationalism.

                        *Being charitable here and assuming our hypothetical carpenter is not a happy member of the alt-right ism club.

                        Report

                        • That’s fairly true, but not as true as you think (if you get laid off from the oil/gas industry or aerospace, a LOT of people are getting laid off. And a lot, a LOT of people are trying frantically to find a new job. A lot with resumes just like yours. It’s..unpleasant). And one reason I’ve spent the last few decades voting Democrat, because they at least had some plans for them.

                          Minimum wage laws, safety nets, retraining, subsidies for health insurance, actual access to health insurance, SNAP, funding for education….

                          Because no one can bring those factories back. If they do come back, they’ll employ a fraction of the people — most of them requiring extensive education or training. Coal’s not coming back.

                          And hey, I was happy to pay for this out of my own pocket because, among other things, one day that might be me. Passed by a changing world, struggling to adjust.

                          And hey, I kept supporting that even AFTER those guys called me plenty of names, looked down on me, and kept voting for people who wanted to strip all that away from them.

                          Even after those people voted for policies and platforms I found odious, at no point did I think “Well screw you then, I’ll stop supporting SNAP, expanded access to education, and all the other things you need that we pay for”.

                          Heck, I don’t even think of them badly for believing people who claim they can bring back the jobs. I can understand why they’d want to believe it so badly. Lord knows I probably would in their shoes.

                          Report

                          • Hey, I was an aero engineer working for Boeing, in Seattle. Trust me, I get that (I saw the writing on the wall a few years before the layoffs started happening and bailed early, before the market started to flood – in the past couple of years, we have hired quite a few former Boeing engineers, and now we have enough for a coffee klatch).

                            Heck, I don’t even think of them badly for believing people who claim they can bring back the jobs. I can understand why they’d want to believe it so badly. Lord knows I probably would in their shoes.

                            Man, this is all I’m asking for.

                            Well, that, and perhaps a conversation along the lines of, “listen, we want to have your back, we are trying to have your back, but perhaps we are doing it wrong somehow? What would help you to feel secure, now that you know those old jobs just aren’t coming back? How do we get you back on your feet?”

                            Although before we can have that, we need to have that painful discussion about how no, your job did not just go to Mexico, only about 20% of the lost jobs are due to relocation. Your job got automated, or became obsolete, or the market for that work has begun to collapse (or has collapsed).

                            ETA: A bit of a tangent, but this quote from Mike Rowe resonates:

                            Last Friday, my dog posted a video that featured a man licking a cat with the aid of a device that’s designed for the specific purpose of making it easier for people to lick their cats.I’ve been silent ever since, because frankly, I couldn’t think of a better way – metaphorical or otherwise – to express my feelings about this election cycle. The entire country it seems, has been preoccupied with finding a way to lick a cat without actually putting their tongue on it.

                            Report

                            • It’s been tried. Quite a few times.

                              Thing is, that’s not what they want. So what you get is they’ll wait a few years, magic won’t happen, and they’ll either show up to vote angry or stay home depressed.

                              It’s human nature. We often prefer a comforting lie over a harsh truth.

                              Report

                        • And here in Kentucky, he might have a son with even more limited job opportunities and a pill problem. He might also see the reasons for his troubles as being thrown under the bus for cheaper consumer goods, and then looked down upon when things are going wrong.

                          Report

                  • The message isn’t necessarily entirely lost. One stat I saw this morning is that Trump fared worse among the people hardest hit than the next rung up the ladder. It was the people who had the basic Maslow prereqs fulfilled (admittedly, not much more than that, but people whose Four Freedoms weren’t in jeopardy on a day-to-day basis) who provided the spine of his base.

                    Report

                • I mostly agree with this. The only quibble is the “rural voters haven’t driven through social policy” part – that’s because they already have it all. They’re perfectly happy with the social policies of the 1950s, and insofar as they are pushing for change, it’s to revert post-1960 liberal changes. That’s what conservative means. There are a few radicals pushing for stonings, or blasphemy laws, or stonings for blasphemy, but even among the Right, they’re known to be radicals. The majority just wants quiet contentment, with the clock rolled back in the few places it has rolled forward.

                  Report

        • It’s difficult, for many reasons, not all of which having to do with how horrible smug elititist liberals are.

          The content of the opinions matter, too.

          The fact that we live in a knowledge basis, specialized, globalized, society means that folksy common sense learned at the side of my paw is not enough to judge the best policies for a 300 million country.

          folksy common sense salt of the Earth white Christian Appalachians might believe climate change is not real.

          That belief, even if supported by the 45th president of the USA, is not enough to reopen the coal mines. Even if you disband the EPA and OSHA it won’t be enough to reopen the coal mines.

          You need to ban fracking to reopen the coal mines. And make sure also that solar energy and wind prices stop dropping and start raising from their already very competitive prices.

          Then, perhaps, the mines will reopen.

          Of course, banning fracking will bother folksy salt of the Earth white Christian great Plainers. But they probably deserve it by living in their own epistemic bubble.

          Report

          • Please don’t get me wrong: I am well aware of the legion of reasons to treat these people will contempt. I am even more away of the limitations preventing us from meaningfully addressing climate change *AND* the energy demands of the 20th century *AND* the different requirements of the energy jobs that will be made available.

            The skill set required to be a coal miner is a very different skill set than that required to be, say, a wind/solar technician and someone who might be a great coal miner might only be qualified to sweep the floors of the solar power plant.

            And I ain’t even talking about nuclear.

            That said, these people vote. And until we fix that particular problem, we’re stuck having to collaborate with them. We can have a high trust/high collaboration relationship or a low trust/low collaboration relationship with them.

            How much are you willing to give up to collaborate with them?

            How much do you think that they feel they’ve given up only to be stabbed in the back?

            This is a problem that, if not meaningfully addressed, will leave you saying “I can’t believe that Trump got re-elected!”

            Report

            • I don’t think we should treat anyone with contempt. Its just that I also don’t think that failing to give a particular group of people veto power over national policy is treating them with contempt. And I hardly see how the GOP that lies to working class folks in West Virginia about the mining jobs coming back is treating them any better.

              Report

              • Certain kinds of majorities give veto power of national policy.

                If you want to discuss whether democracy could be abandoned, I would be more than happy enough to discuss that.

                I’m hoping for a transhumanist solution, myself.

                Report

                • I’m not talking about majorities, I’m talking about coal miners in West Virginia. Again, we seem to be playing this game where policy that WWC voters dislike is a vast I justice, while doing things like hurling vast numbers of black working class people in prison for decades, brutalizing them while they’re inside, and making them unemployable when they get out is business as usual. I know you don’t support those things, btw. I’m just saying that this analysis mode only seems to apply when certain classes of people are suffering.

                  Report

                  • I remain aghast that Clinton bragged that “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”.

                    Would you like to listen to that sound clip again?

                    https://youtu.be/ksIXqxpQNt0

                    There it is.

                    Those coal miners in West Virginia are bad off. They’re in a dying industry, in a dying state, and they’ve heard how bad it used to be and how bad it used to be seems like it’s a lot better than it is to them around now.

                    And this clip got played and played and played again. In Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Ohio, and in Wisconsin.

                    Those coal miners in West Virginia caused a very particular kind of majority to be created. Not just them, of course, but people who saw them and identified with them.

                    Should we give them veto power? How about if they create a slipshod coalition? What if the coalition is big enough? Should it then get a veto?

                    If the answer is that the voters’ sympathies are misplaced, I’d shrug and say “okay”. I’m not sure what agreeing with you on that accomplishes.

                    Report

                      • Sure.

                        But what do you think that those West Virginians walked away with? What do you think that those who felt sympathy for the West Virginians walked away with?

                        Allow me to compare to “Binders Full Of Women”, if I may.

                        Shouldn’t we have done more to take into account how Romney was explaining that his team had more women on it than Obama’s?

                        Why didn’t we?

                        Report

              • If we pay professors of law to train lawyers that we don’t need why can’t we pay coal miners to mine coal that we don’t need? The elites have their status guaranteed the proles don’t.

                Report

                • Dude, I agree that those coal miners got a raw deal. We should do something to help them, and John Oliver should change his tone. But that doesn’t mean we should elect Donald Trump or destroy the climate, both of which won’t actually help those people.

                  Report

                • The real answer to this question: yes, that’s exactly what we should have done, and there’s not a few liberals who said exactly that when globalization was all the rage. That it’s a solved problem – if a trade agreement helps everyone here a little, the Mexican middle class a lot, and completely shafts a bunch of people here – well, skim a little bit off of the general benefit and redistribute it to the people who got shafted. “Everyone” is still better off (albeit by only a nickel per cup of coffee instead of a dime), and the people who got hurt the most have at least a safety net.
                  The snarky answer: The above is redistribution. And redistribution is socialism. And socialism is Communism. Which is bad.
                  So the “right” answer to globalization is not unknown, but it’s a non-starter. Not because of the left, but because of the right. Even some of those who are actually most affected.

                  Report

                  • I wouldn’t characterize it as the right answer, but as the best answer available. Given our extremely deep-seated cultural priors, charity is far worse than honest work, and I don’t see a way for us to give displaced workers new jobs that are as good as what they lost. Better to give what we can than to tell them to pound sand, but that’s hardly going to convince any displaced workers that globalization is great.

                    Report

                    • I see where you’re coming from. Hell, I see where they’re coming from. It doesn’t have to be a straight cash payment, of course. It could be retraining, it could be incentives to bring new industries into the area. We could get creative.
                      But as you and I both know, no force on earth will bring the original jobs back. Even if we reversed time, the new plant would be more automated than the old one and some people still would be left out in the literal cold.
                      And this is a problem we have to solve soon. Self-driving trucks are coming, and that will put three million people out of work, all over the country. That’s, what, two points on the unemployment rate by itself?
                      We might have to accept that there is a point where no stimulus will have any effect, but there are still people who need to be helped. And that will be hard.

                      Report

                      • I am positively terrified at the effect automation will have on our social fabric, and sooner rather than later. All the more troubling because in theory better and better AI means we’ll live with less and less scarcity.

                        Report

                        • You and me both. In my new job, I’m no longer part of a process that is actively replacing skilled, expert, not necessarily educated workers with algorithms (which is one of a myriad of reasons why I might be here even if the powers that be hadn’t closed our office, leaving me as a victim of globalization for most of a year).
                          But that’s not stopping. It’s accelerating. And raising the net product immensely. We do need to find a way to soften the blows for the people the blows land on. And people much smarter than me are at a loss for how to do that in a way that will work in our context.

                          Report

            • How much are you willing to give up to collaborate with them?

              I’m willing to do a lot to collaborate with them. I’ve strongly proposed to get any displaced miner above [35] years old of age (i don’t care about the age, it won’t make a difference) the ability to start collecting social security and Medicare.

              I can offer many solutions to mitigate their problems. But they don’t want my solutions. My solutions rob them of their dignity, and their sense of self worth. They reek of charity. My solutions will embarras them. I get all that. They don’t want new solutions. They want that they had before.

              But as much as I want, I cannot give them what they want. I cannot reopen the mines. The-mines-are-not-coming-back for reasons that have nothing to do with me being a smug urban liberal, and lots to do with energy prices and energy markets of a world scale level.

              I’m talking about possible solutions. They are talking about impossible solutions. We cannot move on on solving their problems unless they agree to move from the impossible realm into the possible one.

              I can help their material lives. I regretfully cannot help their pride. If I could I would do both. The self worth of an Appalachian miner is not worthy of less consideration than that of a Latino fruit picker.

              But the mines will not reopen.

              Only when we all agree on that, we can do something.

              And is not the smug liberal elitist energy and utilities xecutive the one standing in the way of an improvement, even if not The Solution.

              I was not the one that backstabbed them. The ones that lie to them, telling them that the mines will reopen if only the R’s are in power, are the ones backstabbing them. They are the ones robbing them of agency and solutions.

              But a case of IPA says four years from now, the Appalachian miners will still blame the smug liberal elititists for their plight. Because we are not buying coal out of sheer spite.

              Report

              • I want to give this comment a standing ovation.

                Yes. This is exactly the problem. I don’t really see anything that I disagree with.

                How in the hell can we create solutions that don’t rob these people of their dignity?

                Damned if I know.

                One thing that seems achievable: when you start talking about how the mines are going away and will not reopen, do not sound gleeful.

                Report

                • [personal interlude:

                  I have under my belt developing and financing a coal power plant. I don’t have an emotional or spiritual problem with coal power. I’m a supporter of coal power.

                  And yet coal power is dying, because, at the current and expected prices of natural gas, there is no way any coal power plant in North America can compete. Coal loses big on fixed costs (it always did) and loses big in variable costs too (this is the new development). Nothing can compete if it has higher fixed costs and higher variable costs per unit of energy produced. It’s over.

                  I don’t receive the news of the death of coal happily. Coal was a friend of mine.

                  But the mines still won’t reopen. They won’t reopen for me, and they won’t reopen for them.

                  End of personal interlude]

                  Report

                • Perhaps economic mobility ought to come into play here. If there are no jobs in WV, why stay there? As conservatives often point out, there is not supposed to be equality of outcome, merely that of opportunity. The opportunities have disappeared in coal country. Live the ideology you espouse and try something else.

                  Report

                  • How? It sounds simple, but the reality is so much more complex.

                    If the coal mine closes, real estate prices collapse, so all the home owners are stuck with underwater mortgages. If they jingle mail their homes and move to the city, they won’t be able to get an apartment because the foreclosure just tanked their credit rating. This assumes they even have the money to relocate in the first place. And that is before we even get to the social issues like familial concerns, social support communities, etc.*

                    In truth, the people in the best position to relocate and start over in a city are the young who have not yet set down roots. The rest will have a much harder time.

                    *Ironically (is this irony?), immigrants do this all the time. But people in places like WV assume these folks are living in 3rd world hell holes, and having no actually experience with such places, fail to see the parallels to their own situations.

                    Report

              • @j_a

                I am glad to see you get it.

                No, you grok it. I believe you understand that slice of culture well enough to be able to talk to them and get a message through.

                Now how do we get you into those communities.

                Report

          • Hollywood would not exist with intellectual property protections; every cent the industry makes is a gift from the government. What’s more there is absolutely no rational the supports the retro-active extension of copyright laws. The Sonny Bono act passed both houses of congress on voice votes. If you’re a wealthy Hollywood type Congress will bend over backwards to give you even more money if you’re a factory worker or coal miner you SOL. If congress is bestowing gifts on Hollywood they could do the same for coal miners and factor workers.

            Report

      • Smug disdain directed at urban liberals is just good old American truth. Smug disdain aimed at rural Americans is smug disdain.

        So punching up is different than punching down until someone is punching up at you? This proves that people don’t really believe in the punching up/punching down dichotomy.

        Report

          • If you’re intent on punching, and think you’re punching up while actually punching down until the guy who’s punching back gets the upper hand and suddenly you’re punching up but still taking some blows about the head and neck area to thepoint where you don’t know which direction you’re punching you just want it to stop … well, that’s gotta sting a little bit.

            Report

            • When I was a toddler becoming a (what the hell are you after you’re a toddler?), there was a show on Nickelodeon called “Pinwheel”.

              It had two characters called “Plus” and “Minus” and they played a game called “Gotcha Last”. Sort of like tag. Poke the other guy and yell “GOTCHA LAST!”

              How do you stop playing “Gotcha Last”?

              It’s the hardest thing in the world: you have to stop playing it.

              (Though I understand how creating rules for who is allowed to get whom might seem a solution in the short term.)

              Report

        • No, I firmly believe if you’re gonna lecture one side about smugness, you gotta lecture the other side when they do it.

          Unless your prior is that one side is right.

          That’s the problem with this — it’s constant “You smug liberals” and not a single word about “Smug conservatives”. (Or “smug urban dwellers” and not a word about “Smug rurals”).

          And having lived in both places, I can assure you it’s happily there on both sides.

          Report

            • Please enlighten me: Which side the superior side? If you’re going to use “punching up/punching down” you’re going to have to explain who is up and who is down and why.

              So please, go on.

              Report

              • Let me see if if I get the dialectic

                Lefty: there is a difference between punching down and punching up. Being snide and dismissive of the right is punching up because the right are the defenders of privilege and the oppressive status quo

                Jaybird: This isn’t going to end well because it is still punching and everyone sees themselves as punching up.
                .
                .
                .
                after things don’t end well:

                Jaybird: see the punching up/punching down distinction didn’t end well

                Morat20: who is up and who is down?

                It is not the onus of the person who rejects that punching up/ punching down is a meaningful distinction to define who the up and down are.

                Jaybird’s point is not that punching up didn’t work well because they got the wrong people up. Its that we shouldn’t be punching either way.

                Report

                • Except, to borrow Jaybird’s metaphor, he’s got two people punching each other and seems keen on lecturing one to stop and consider the feelings of the person punching him.

                  Or at times, to act like it’s just one side punching the other rather than an equatable fight.

                  So asking the question of “Why me and not him?” is a pretty solid one in that case.

                  Report

                  • Except, to borrow Jaybird’s metaphor, he’s got two people punching each other and seems keen on lecturing one to stop and consider the feelings of the person punching him.

                    I’m hesitant to speak for other people, but I get in some version of this conversation often. You’ve got the metaphor wrong.

                    What you’ve got is two people who started punching each other and now one is lying on the floor. And a third party comes along and says “hey, I think I know why you ended up on the floor. Here are a few boxing tips so you end up on the floor less.” At which point, the guy on the floor ask “why me and not him.”

                    This might not be what was getting at, but it sums up a bunch of conversations that I’ve head.

                    Report

                    • Fantastic. I fully agree!

                      Step two: If you get one side to stop, how to you get the other to stop?

                      Because this all started with “Smug urban liberals looking down on those rednecks” — except, as I pointed out, those rural folks look back with just as much disdain.

                      But you don’t seem to spend a lot of time castigating them and in fact seem to ignore that when it’s pointed out, which leads straight to “Why are you focused on one side”?

                      I’m happily surburan, but I’ve got friends downtown and relatives off in the boonies. I’ve seen all three sides and get along quite well with them.

                      Yet I’m the one getting lectured about how smug I am, and how that causes the problems? Which again, has shades of “I’m only racist because liberals called be racist, so I had to be racist” kind of arguments. Quite circular, but somehow it ends with blaming one side for the beliefs and choices of the other.

                      Report

                      • They’re not here.

                        You may have noticed that we have chased away all of the Republicans from this board.

                        Why am I not spending more time chastising people who aren’t here? Because they’ve exited. They’ve said “I want to stop being hit” and they’ve moved away.

                        Which, as solutions go, seems to be an elegant one.

                        Report

                        • Well then go talk to them Jaybird.

                          I mean they DID just win complete control of the federal government, so I can’t imagine how much good you’re gonna do here. Us smug liberals are pretty powerless.

                          Or, failing that, perhaps admit that smug rurals is just as big a problem and fit that into your solution. I’ve heard my whole life about the nastiness of the coastal elites, and how the heartland is real America. And small towns. And the country.

                          Because until you do, you’re witnessing a fist-fight in which your contribution is to pick one of the two and shout “Stop hitting back! This is your fault! If you stop fighting and roll over, maybe he won’t kick you to death! No promises though!”

                          Report

                        • They’ve said “I want to stop being hit” and they’ve moved away.

                          Certainly one take on what happened Tuesday is one side said, “We’re tired of being hit (having standards imposed upon us)”. The big question is whether they’re going to decide to hit back (attempt to impose their standards on the other side) or not.

                          Report

                            • For your considertion, lots of consertives prefer to stay in their own bubbles and don’t want spritied, occasionaly overboard, conversations with liberals and liberetarians. They want safe spaces where they can say how they hate hate hate liberals and that they have all the answers so why bothering. It’s seemed like some of the C’s in the past have left because they just wanted their own bubble and not conversations. OBTW have we seen Zic around? Why again did she , sadly, drift away?

                              Report

                              • “For your considertion, lots of consertives prefer to stay in their own bubbles and don’t want spritied, occasionaly overboard, conversations with liberals and liberetarians.”

                                I hear that they don’t want to be in academia also…

                                Report

                          • David Wong certainly thinks that this is what has happened, and he’s a liberal elitist comedy writer for Cracked. One who grew up in rural Illinois and has spent just about the same amount of his life in either world.
                            And of course they’re going to do it. The Big Sort has happened. As we’ve gnashed our teeth about endlessly in comment threads here, trust/collaboration has flown the coop. The best strategy in an IPD is “tit for tat with forgiveness”, but that’s been tried, and the Supreme Court lineup in 2017 shows how badly it failed.
                            I don’t see a feasible road to a negotiated peace in the culture war.

                            Report

                      • those rural folks look back with just as much disdain

                        Who has the greater power?

                        ETA: Even with a GOP hat trick, Urban elites still have much more power than rural citizens. The GOP may consider the rural voters interests, but at the end of they day, the GOP elites are still urban.

                        Report

                      • Because this all started with “Smug urban liberals looking down on those rednecks” — except, as I pointed out, those rural folks look back with just as much disdain.

                        The problem is the when it comes to race people argue that since power is not symmetrical white people ragging on blacks is fundamentally different than blacks ragging on whites; by that logic people in rural trailer parks talking ragging on wealthy urbanites is different than wealthy urbanites ragging on people in trailer parks.

                        Report

                        • by that logic people in rural trailer parks talking ragging on wealthy urbanites is different than wealthy urbanites ragging on people in trailer parks.

                          This sounds true, and sort of is, but not really.

                          1- Urbanites are more powerful because the loci of power has been moving towards the cities since the Low Middle Ages, not because they won some war or something, but because of technological and economical changes. The pace of the shift has always being exponential, is just that only in the XIX century we got to the point in the curve that the shift was fast enough that you could perceive it with your naked eye.

                          2- There are no legal or physical barriers for rural people to become urbanites (try becoming white). There are practical considerations (lack of marketable skills, for instance) and there are emotional/cultural barriers. But those are the same barriers that stop the Yanomami from leaving the forests. And no one is stopping the Yanomami, not really.

                          3- insofar as rural people keep closing their eyes (*) and maintain that there is a moral superiority about rural life and “real ‘Muricanism”, they will continue to be left behind. The world will not wait, and at some point they might become the targets of tourists and anthropologists, much like the Yanomami. It was also very tough for those Native Americans that left their communities -or let them die- in order to join the society of the Conquerors (Hell, it’s hard on them to this day), but they are today in a better place than the Yanomami are.

                          (*) sorry I couldn’t make this sound less smug. I tried.

                          Report

                          • +1

                            Education/job training & relocation assistance will go a lot further than straight up welfare. As I’ve said before, this doesn’t even need to be a government welfare program, it could just be akin to unemployment insurance – a fund that employers pay into so that should they close down, their employees can get help.

                            Report

              • If you’re going to use “punching up/punching down” you’re going to have to explain who is up and who is down and why.

                It’s more that I’m noticing how popular “people shouldn’t punch each other” is when the right people are up and “punching up is okay” when the right people are down.

                Report

                • Popular with WHO?

                  This sounds like “People are saying” kind of thing. What people?

                  Because really, all I’ve gotten from you on this is “Smug urban liberals are smug, and that’s the problem” followed by “Stop being so smug and we’d all get along”.

                  Which yeah, if it actually let to us all getting along I’d totally be there telling the smug urban liberals to stop being so smug. But you’ve got the smug rurals as a problem too, so I don’t think your solution is complete.

                  Report

                • One quibble – blacks in a lot of communities know damn well who’s above them because they can see the jackboot right there right now on their throat. I’m firmly on record here as freely admitting that rural populations, largely white, have been screwed over. And it might even be true that they’re punching up quite a bit. But to a large extent that’s because they’re punching everyone who they think might possibly be responsible (and in so doing, missing a lot of the people who are responsible because it’s not conceivable).
                  And I can sympathize, even empathize. I just don’t see it as directly analogous.

                  Report

                    • Yeah, that was a bit florid. My prose writing is particularly crap because I’m mostly a wonk, and get overly pedantic in descriptions, ruining the mood, and then suddenly channel the worst of the purple prose purveyors. So I become a modern-day Bulwer-Lytton, only worse since he was at least breaking new ground – doing it today is not just bad writing, but derivative as well.

                      Still, the point… The rural WWC has a unique problem because there’s no one cause, and no one solution. And some of the people they most blame are guilty only in perception rather than fact, while some real, key factors fly under everyone’s radars, particularly their own. Urban minorities have, in a way, a more tangible set of problems, which, at least, makes it easier to punch people with some confidence that they were actually guilty of a punchable offense.

                      Report

          • Because the rural Americans are the true, good Americans who are blameless. The urban Americans are all rich, snooty liberals that personally hate everyone who isn’t an upper-class urban liberal .

            Duh. Rural Americans don’t look down on anyone. They’re joyful, salt-of-the-earth, humble people who don’t want to tell anyone else what to do or think.

            Report

  6. It will be a long, long time before I process this election enough to have even the foggiest idea of what I think happened. But I gotta say , in these first few post-election hours, I’m thinking that you were closer to whatever the truth really was than anyone else here on this sight.

    Report

  7. Aaron David,

    You’re Jewish. I don’t mean that you were raised religiously Jewish or that you see yourself that way.

    I know you feel abandoned by the Democratic Party and by liberals but you are Jewish. The emboldened right-wing sees you as Jewish, not as a member of the white working class, the “real” Americans. You have Jewish blood.

    Maybe things are not as bad as people are thinking. I hope J R is right and the white nationalists and alt-right are going to be a flash in the pan and a nothing burger. But if they are not a flash in the pan, you are not safe. You’re a Jew. You are not seen as white by the American Renaissance crowd.

    Report

    • And your point?

      What does my cultural and racial makeup have to do with trying to understand why Trump won? What do either of them have to do with trying to make my old party see where it has gone wrong, how it has lost so much of its soul that it has furthered the destruction of liberalism?

      How much hate on the left is directed towards Israel? And how much of what is directed to that country is in fact anti-semitism? There are no easy answers to who hates whom.

      Report

    • I hope J R is right and the white nationalists and alt-right are going to be a flash in the pan and a nothing burger.

      Huh? What have said that makes you think that I believe that?

      Among my foundational beliefs about the United States of America, perhaps the most prominent are that the U.S. is a center-right nation, which has been and will continue to be an obstacle to progressive desires to usher in some golden age of the expansive welfare state, and the U.S. is literally a nation founded on white supremacy, and that white supremacy runs across the entire political spectrum (in other words, stop thinking that just because you call yourself a progressive, you’re immune from it). Just about everything that I believe about American politics flows from those two observations.

      Report

  8. What a non-white friend of mine posted.

    “So I’m just going to come out and say this: I spent years arguing that we need to accept the rural white voter.

    After 2004 I realized that America was a much more divided country than I thought it was, and I needed to try harder to understand the people who didn’t live in California. I was surrounded by smug liberals who said that flyover states were full of stupid people.

    I made these arguments! I said we needed to understand them and their desires! I advocated for dropping gun control for a long time. For this entire year I’ve been saying it’s very important for the Democrats to rebuild rural white communities when they get into power, even though they are full of racists. I felt strongly that we needed to be more accepting and try to build community with the people of Ohio and Indiana and Nebraska.

    I was wrong. This is 2016. I understand the rural white voter and their desires now. They want me to go away, and they voted for it. They do not want to live in peace.

    I am not smug when I consider the life or opinions of a rural white voter. I am terrified. They are members of a proud old American tradition that allows people of color to be lynched for being uppity, then elects the lyncher to public office. They are the original sin of America.

    You might have the privilege of saying that we need to stop condescending to them about how oppressing people of color is bad and learn to accept them.

    I don’t.”

    Report

    • As a liberal living in a red state for 20 years i never hear, locally, all this disdain for rural voters. Nope don’t hear it here. Not really surprising living in a rural red state that bubbles are pretty different here. That being said there are plenty of every type of conservative here including some the writer of that post. Some are just racist as all get out even though they aren’t surrounded by all those sneering libs and live in conservative communities. There all the other types of R’s: socially moderate, libertarian, etc etc. Understanding rural peeps is good just like understanding city folk is good. Some of those conservatives have always hated liberals and D’s and nothing is ever going to change that. Understand and bond with the ones you can but that is always going to be limited.

      Report

      • I just had what might be an epiphany.
        It’s high school. The rural voter is eating alone and feeling insecure and shafted by their homeroom teacher and looks across the lunchroom at the cool, high-SES kids. One of whom tells a joke to the others, and they laugh, and the rural voter says “I knew it, they’re laughing about me because I’m poor.” And the urban voter, with a “Fjarnskaggl” T-shirt and a piercing they’re not sure they want to tell their parents about yet, looks at the rural jocks walking down the hall, so comfortable with each other and their selves, and when they by chance don’t happen to glance that way, the urban voter says, “Sure, I’m not cool enough for them. Bigots.”
        None of which is actually happening except inside everybody’s heads.

        Report

        • I’d say its even worst than that. Because for the most part, the lefties and the rights aren’t together all that much, like they would be in highschool. So yeah, its in their head, but its less because of anything they are seeing and much more because what they are being told (and I say that about both sides, although i don’t think its in equal doses).

          Report


    • I made these arguments! I said we needed to understand them and their desires! I advocated for dropping gun control for a long time. For this entire year I’ve been saying it’s very important for the Democrats to rebuild rural white communities when they get into power, even though they are full of racists. I felt strongly that we needed to be more accepting and try to build community with the people of Ohio and Indiana and Nebraska.

      I was wrong. This is 2016. I understand the rural white voter and their desires now. They want me to go away, and they voted for it. They do not want to live in peace.

      I second every single part of that post, except I am white and can easily pass as one of them. (I mean, they still want me to go away if they figure out I’m a liberal, but it’s more ‘Move to Canada, hippy’ instead of being chased out of town.)

      I’m sorta done being understanding. My ‘understanding’ hinged on them *legitimately believing* certain things about the government I thought were *wrong*, but that we could work together. It’s like trying to plan a trip with a flat-earther, or write a comedy with someone who thinks The Big Bang Theory is funny. Well, they’re not going to be a *lot* of help there, but maybe we can work with them and come up with something useful.

      Then they elected *Trump*. A guy not only who is basically running on a white nationalist platform, but who also dismantled most of their entire ‘conservative’ platform. (Even if, in reality, he’ll just sign whatever Congress puts in front of him.)

      And I’m not going to repeat the rant about what that showed about their *true* motives yet again.

      Report

        • Sometimes I like to imagine that The Big Bang Theory is someone hearing Seinfeld is ‘a show about nothing’, and responding:

          No it’s not! Seinfeld generally has a plot with a purpose and direction, with multiple independent threads usually leading to a single climax. It’s only about ‘nothing’ in that it doesn’t have a hook of any sort like taking place in an office or used car lot or whatever, except even that’s not true with George and Ellaine’s rotating jobs.

          You want a show about nothing, I’ll give you a show about nothing, with plotlines that lead nowhere, a bunch of people just being awkward, random characterization, and episodes that often seem to end literally mid-scene! And, just to drive the point home that the hook doesn’t make it about nothing, I’ll *have a hook*. The ‘hook’ will be that all the people are pathetic people we should laugh at. Like, people with social disorders or horny men or something. Funny foreigners? Dumb blondes? I’ll figure it out later. But it will have a hook, but STILL BE ABOUT NOTHING.

          *shakes fist at sky*

          I’LL SHOW YOU. I’LL SHOW YOU ALL, MWAHAHAHA!’

          Report

          • Well, I disliked Seinfeld. To each their own. I’ll agree BBT is really about nothing, but I find it mildly humorous. Penny’s easy on the eyes. I’ve lived with someone like Sheldon but who was less intelligent and more OCD, so I find that kinda funny too. And I really liked the “can’t speak Raj” early shows. Your mileage may differ. Meh.

            Report

            • Hey, I’ve watched every single episode of the BBT until sometime early last season. (I keep having better things to watch.)

              I didn’t say it wasn’t interesting to watch, I said it wasn’t *funny*. (And also I have, as a hard and fast rule, that people should be able to enjoy whatever they want in fiction.)

              BBT is functionally a bunch of character skits. 90% of what they do would be appropriate as a reoccurring SNL skit or something.

              It’s just…not even something I can describe as a ‘story’ half the time. Like, there’s an idea of maybe a problem, but they don’t bother to resolve it in any way, ever. (Which is true to life, I guess, but not how *storytelling* works.)

              Or perhaps a better analogy would be what is often done in fanfic. Like, there’s some *real* TV show out there where they get involved in hilarious wacky hijinks each week at their labs/comic store/Penny’s work.

              And there have, indeed, been episodes like that. Or even actual dramatic episodes, with a tradition ‘Here is a serious problem, we need to solve it’ structure.

              But what we’re *normally* watching is just some sort of character piece fanfic that likes to have those characters sit around at home and talk, and sometimes puts those characters in mildly humorous (Or at least the writer thinks they are humorous.) or embarrassing situations without much payoff. Even if there is some sort of story, good sections of the episode won’t contribute to it in any way.

              Report


            • Actually, I think you just also described “House”, among other shows. And I liked “House”.

              1) No I didn’t. House didn’t have a disorder, he was just an ass. He was partially an ass because he was always in pain, granted, but he knew exactly what he was doing.

              2) House wasn’t a *comedy* and we weren’t supposed to laugh at the characters.

              Something like Monk would be a better example, except that Monk also wasn’t technically a comedy, it was just a funny drama. But we were, occasionally, supposed to laugh at him

              3) But the fact that some shows have a ‘hook’ as someone with a disorder is not actually the point. I was just pointing out the hook on The Big Bang Theory was just sorta dumb, as it’s basically neeeeerds and a hot woman. (And, yes, I know they eventually figured out that ‘a hot woman’ was not really enough women.)

              Neeeerds worked as a comedic hook in 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds. It was a bit absurd by the time BBT came out.

              That said, that doesn’t matter. You can make incredibly clever comedy using almost any group of disparate people, and there are funny situations that both nerdiness and scienceness and even social awkardness could lead to. Hell, Penny was a *struggling actress* for a good portion of the show. There’s comedy there. This resulted in, like, a grand total of four plots about that. And about the same for her waitress job.

              But the thing is, half the time the show doesn’t even try. Sheldon acts like an ass (1) and Leonard makes a snide comment, and Penny tries to fix things, and, Christ, is this the plot of all the episodes? Oh, wait, does it even count as a plot, because it just sorta got left hanging and never mentioned again…wait, did this episode even have a narrative *story*, like was there an problem to overcome and efforts were made to overcome it? No? Huh?

              …was that episode even about anything? As my hypothetical BBT creator pointed out, no TV show, until BBT, was actually about *nothing*. Seinfeld just wasn’t *themed* around something. But then we got BBT, often winning the ‘What the hell was the point of this random collection of mildly funny scenes packaged as an episode?’ prize.

              1) And I’m sorry, but someone as intelligent *as Sheldon*, coming from *his* family, could not possibly have *not* come up with a bunch of rules for him to follow to not be an ass. The show could even still have him have problems when he has to go off script, places he’s never been before, and even have him trying to keep others on a script too, that’s fine. Have him be fairly patronizing, too, whatever. But what’s not fine is that he says stuff that someone with *any amount of knowledge* would know would be perceived as an insult, and barely seems to understand why they would be insulted. How…is he that stupid? Have they ever *met* a smart person with social problems?

              Report

              • Wow, you put a lot more thought into that comment than my offhand snark deserved, and it was quite interesting.
                Still, I’m not sure I’m entirely wrong. I can think of a number of shows where the setup involved dysfunctional characters interacting badly, and plots that went nowhere (and even if there was a theme in the show, plots weren’t necessarily required to even resolve themselves satisfactorily), even where “wink, wink” they were dramas and not comedies – “Ally McBeal” comes to mind for some reason.
                Admittedly, BBT is a shining example of the type, probably the TVTropes page header. Not quite as sure it was invented out of whole cloth as it was a distillation of trends that had already been there for a while since, well, about the time of the end of “Seinfeld” in 1998.

                Report

      • The problem is that we’re arguing against each other as stand-ins for larger forces *that are not here*.

        There is not a single liberal on this board who thinks that all opposition to Obamacare is racist; or that coal miners deserve to fear unemployment because they’re stupid; or that Trump saying things like “I love the poorly educated” is a highly embarassing slip rather than just a compassionate thing to say for once. But there are A LOT of liberals in the party who think this way. Facebook is full of people putting up DUMBFUCKISTAN maps and lashing out at toothless rednecks right now. And A LOT of the party elite has internalized these views to the extent that they allow them to seep into the party dialog.

        By the same token, there’s not a single conservative here who supports Trump agenda on minorities. Which still tells us NOTHING about Trump’s people. Trying to claim something about popular Dem/Rep relations based on views of Ordinary Times commenters is fucking crazy. The issue is not with you or empathy. You’re fine. The issue is that we need to figure out how to get the rest of the party to be more like you. The party has gone from secretly talking about “bitter clingers” (which at least recognized that these people have valid emotions) to openly talking about “deplorables” (which writes them off as worthless). THAT’s what we need to work on.

        Report

        • Except for the fact that, hey, there are white supremacists out there and they not only endorsed Trump, but spoke about how he was good for their agenda.

          The alt-right actually exists, and they vote Republican.

          That’s…not something we can pretend doesn’t exist. What’s the point?

          “Let’s pretend a large percentage of the GOP base aren’t outright racists, even as they’re posting white supremacist stuff and talking about white supremacy and advocating kicking out anyone whose skin color or religion they dislike?”.

          It sounds an awful lot like “Democrats should just pretend the racists are there, and should certainly not upset the racists, and then maybe the racists will vote Democratic sometimes if race isn’t really a big issue that year”.

          Report

          • +1 to

            The alt-right actually exists, and they vote Republican.

            That’s…not something we can pretend doesn’t exist. What’s the point?

            So deal with them as you find them, instead of painting all GOP voters as being sympathetic to that cause.

            Report

            • Who did that? Even Clinton’s infamous comment was, well, pretty accurate as a percentage.

              Have I called Kim a racist? She voted for Trump. Now her conspiracy theories I’ve mocked, yes.

              I mean in the end, there’s still a big fact on the ground here: There are a lot of open racists in America, and the GOP courts them assiduously. Not talking about it because it upsets the rest of the GOP is, I suppose, a tactic.

              But look where not talking about it even internally among the GOP led them — they got blindsided and had Trump take over.

              I’m still back down to “We shouldn’t call racists racists, because not-racists who merely associate with racists might be unfairly tarred”.

              Well I suppose in a perfect world, sure. But it’s not like this is a particularly one-sided phenomenon.

              In the end, I keep hearing shades of “Those voters are so delicate, so prone to upset, that you must speak incredibly carefully and avoid unpleasant truths to avoid hurting their feelings”.

              The GOP fainting couch has a long history, although it’s not as ironic this year as when it’s in full “fear the PC police” mode.

              Again, we circle back to the point: There are a lot of racists, some quite openly so, in America. And they overwhelmingly prefer one party. Calling people racist who aren’t is indeed counterproductive. But ignoring that truth is just as bad.

              Report

              • Perhaps this was discussed elsewhere, but how does the GOP as an organization court the “deplorables” (for lack of a more inclusive term)? I know Trump was pretty clearly doing so, and I assume there are other such candidates out there in the mold of Strom Thurmond & Jesse Helms, but as a party?

                ETA:

                HRCs comment probably fell far short of capturing any significant percentage of Trump voters. His hardcore fans, perhaps.

                Report

              • >>Who did that? Even Clinton’s infamous comment was, well, pretty accurate as a percentage.

                You know how we tend to get upset about people not distinguishing between the various sectarian differences in the Middle East? Like when politicians pretend that it’s all just radical Islam or talk about Ubekibekibekistan? And folks like Obama make the argument that we have to work very hard to *sharpen* the differences between these groups and try to tease out moderates, instead of encouraging tribal affinity by painting everyone with the same brush. Well it’s the same deal here.

                We[*] need to draw very sharp distinctions between the generic Republican voters, the former Obama voters who held their nose and went for Trump, the Trump fans who just liked his personality and ignored his noxious statements, the Trump fans who agreed with his noxious statements because they’ve never personally interacted with immigrants or minorities, and the very very tiny fraction of Trump fans who spread the pepe memes and take pleasure in seeing minorities abused. We additionally need to draw a massive distinction between GOP voters – whose political exposure is 30min of evening news after the kids have been put to bed and before they’ve zoned out themselves – and GOP politicians – whose number one priority is to keep their job or land a good lobbying gig.

                [*] And again I want to underscore the point that when I’m talking about “we” I mean the Democratic party establishment and marketing, and specifically no one on this forum where people really do go well out of their way to try to understand each other.

                Report

                • I’ve been thinking about similar things and have this example to add on the subject.

                  I remember in 2003 how mind-bogglingly terrified of the “Jesus Freaks” Americans were. That George W Bush has embolden the Christian Dominionist set and they were set to march.

                  In 2016 these guys are marginalised with their erstwhile political allies and forced to beg for scraps from Trumps table. They got their ass kicked on gay marriage and still haven’t figured out what they heck happened there.

                  Apparently huge monolithic political movements consist of a core of loud true believers (we know who they are in the Trump coalition) and a lot of fuzzy fellow travelers and enablers that really aren’t that committed and can be hived off shockingly quickly under the right conditions.

                  If I’m a democratic strategist looking at this loss, I’d note that there are a whole bunch of these white working class folks in the mid-west we’re talking about that weren’t so bigotted that they wouldn’t vote for a black president twice. They just didn’t vote for H. Clinton.

                  They way I see it, there are plenty of reachable voters out there on the fringes. But I don’t think your going to learn the language of how to reach them inside a liberal bubble.

                  I could also go on about how this new found desire to empathize with the pain of these poor deporables from the liberal set is probably the worst way to think of it. Pity is just another version of condescencion. There is a huge difference between empty empathy and actually learning how to speak somebodies language and then use that to persuade them.

                  Report

                  • I could also go on about how this new found desire to empathize with the pain of these poor deporables from the liberal set is probably the worst way to think of it. Pity is just another version of condescencion. There is a huge difference between empty empathy and actually learning how to speak somebodies language and then use that to persuade them.

                    I agree, although I’m not sure it’s coming from the liberal set as much as it seems to be coming from the “Above the Fray” types.

                    Who might or might not be liberal, but are a special flavor of annoying to begin with. They certainly typify ivory tower types.

                    Report

          • You work against the Alt Right and work to sway the people on the other side who aren’t in the Alt Right. AR’s are never likely to vote D; fine you can’t win over everybody. So find the persuadable conservative voters and try to win them over. Find common ground where we can with those that are willing. That doesn’t mean take out ads for D’s on Stormfront.

            Report

            • IIRC, Clinton did. Quite a bit. To the point where half her party was unhappy at her attempts to reach out.

              Heck, Obama dedicated his entire first term to it. He was not just roundly rejected, but faced total and deliberate obstruction in any way possible.

              Heck, his last substantive act in office was to nominate a judge for SCOTUS that was Orrin Hatch’s own specific example of the sort of judge the Republicans could support.

              What more are they supposed to do? You can’t work with someone who won’t work back, nor convince someone who isn’t open to listening.

              The advice of “Do what you did, that will work!” is incredibly useless. It’s been tried. It’s still being tried. It’s still not working. Is there some magic word they’re not using?

              Report

              • I think this thread is identifying the wrong people that needed to be persuaded. Conservatives voted for Trump, but they also were going to vote for any GOP person. The best the Dems could hope for was for them to stay home. Evangelicals even more so on both counts.

                The Dems needed to persuade a few more people living in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that have weakly held and/or ideologically mixed poltical convictions. And yes, those people are white, but they are also to a great extent non college educated and to a greater extent than anyone figured, women.

                Report

              • Yeah, it didn’t work the R’s in gov. But what we want is to win over voters. Win enough voters and you can run the gov. R’s in the gov were never going to cooperate but it was worth a little of shot to see if it would work. It didn’t. But if we want D’s to win we need to winning over centrist voters that Hillary failed to and motivate more of the D base to come out. If you have a fired up base and win just a little bit more of the middle that is an election winning formula. C didn’t do either.

                Report

        • “Deplorables” was unfortunate, and as close as things were, who knows…
          The thing is, it wasn’t wrong per se, and at the core of it there’s a truth that needs to not be forgotten – a huge swath of Trump’s core support, the people who were always there for him, yelling at rallies, vandalizing opposition signs like the old dude I got a blurry phone picture of last Sunday night, and the like – were anywhere from alt-right to actual Nazis. Not everyone who ended up voting for him. Not even everyone who put signs in their yards. Just the ones who vandalized churches.
          But there’s no way to say that – literally no way – that won’t make it sound like you’re accusing every man Jack of them who doesn’t vote for you of being in that basket.

          Report

          • I agree that the statement “There is a very small number of very very bad people in your party” is both true, and probably impossible for a candidate to say in a way that has a positive impact. I’ll note that Obama somehow managed to say “There is a very large number of people in your party that are tolerating very bad things from your nominee” without causing a scene and that seems even more inflammatory. But politics can be a strange and mysterious art.

            Report

      • “Then they elected *Trump*. A guy not only who is basically running on a white nationalist platform…”

        I’m imagining saying “but Trump also ran on a platform of economic populism, in fact it was a larger part of his message as American nationalism”, and hearing “hush, you, if we cared about economic populism we’d have nominated Sanders”.

        Report

        • Yeah, but that was still part of his platform. I mean maybe you voted for Trump because, I dunno, you liked his tax plan. (Such as it was). Maybe you hated the race-baiting and xenophobia.

          But that was part of the package. Whatever reason made you vote for Trump, you felt it was worth supporting the racism and xenophobia too. They’re not separate, and you don’t get to say “I was only voting for fiscal reasons, all that racism is deplorable”.

          No, man. You felt your tax cut was worth the racism. They come together. I didn’t like a lot of things about Clinton, but I darn well knew I was voting for those bits too.

          Report

          • That’s a strongly-stated argument that all those people who voted “against Trump, not for Clinton” were actually voting for foreign intervention, drones, domestic surveillance, and pro-financial-business policy. But maybe that’s not what you meant to say there?

            Or maybe you’re arguing that people who say “if you voted for a third party you voted for Trump, if you didn’t vote for President you voted for Trump” are actually wrong? That “vote your conscience” is valid after all?

            Report

            • That’s a strongly-stated argument that all those people who voted “against Trump, not for Clinton” were actually voting for foreign intervention, drones, domestic surveillance, and pro-financial-business policy. But maybe that’s not what you meant to say there?

              That’s quite accurate. A vote for Clinton was a vote for all of Clinton’s policies, even if you only voted for them because you thought Trump’s were worse. You decided that, on the balance, the good outweighed the bad.

              You can say you disagree with them. That you dislike them. But you voted for them, and that means you supported them. Unwillingly perhaps, but not unwittingly.

              You don’t get to say “I voted for Clinton/Trump, but I am in no way responsible for THESE policies he/she enacted” unless you can show that said candidate never campaigned on them.

              So yeah, if Clinton had won and continued programs I disliked — I’m a part owner of that, even as I lobby for change. I’m happy to explain WHY I thought the trade-off was worth it, but I’m not going to deny that’s also part of what I voted for.

              Even if you said “I voted for Clinton because I was against Trump” you’re making a statement of support. “Better this, than that” and are part owner of what happens next.

              As for vote your conscience — when did I ever say not to?

              What, did you think I was hypocritical?

              You own your vote, good or bad. You make your choose, good and bad. You don’t get to vote, and claim you only have responsibility for the good and not the bad.

              Report

              • To put it in a better way:

                All politicians can, in some hypothetical sense, be scored.

                Some of their policies are good, some are bad. Some of them are very good, some are very bad. Let’s say all policies all go from -10 to 10.

                You can take these policies, perhaps with a modifier as to ‘likelihood of them actually getting implemented with the rest of the government being how I guess it will be’, and at them up.

                And maybe add in some additional things like estimated level of corruption and stuff.

                And you’ve got numbers for everyone running for office. You might not *vote* for the highest number, because that person might not win, so you vote for someone worse to stop getting someone getting even worse than that…but that’s a whole different set of calculations and not the point.

                The point is, you *own* that number. All the numbers, in fact. If you knew one of the policies would have negative impact, but you voted for that person anyway, that’s your fault.

                And, no, one literally does any the math, but that is sorta how it works.

                And, to continue the point to Trump: Until this election, a lot of us thought that white nationalism was basically a -1000 or so. Like, you vote for them if the other guy is promising to start a nuclear war. (negative infinity, game over) Or if they’re both white nationalists, you vote for the guy with better child care plans…actually, no you don’t, but whatever.

                But the thing is, apparently, for Republican’s, white nationalism is *not* -1000. Even in the most charitable interpretation, it seems like it’s a quite easy number to counter.

                In fact, a lot of us are suspecting it’s a *positive* number, on average.

                Report

              • +1.
                I knew full well when I connected the arrow that Clinton was likely to be too cozy with corporate America, to not deliver on civil liberties, and to probably get us into another Libya due to being hawkish (despite Obama’s excellent demonstration of the long game).
                On balance, yeah, to me that beats Kasich, much less Bush or Rubio, much much less Trump, Pence, or Cruz.
                Deeply flawed candidate, but with a bright side, and I didn’t see any other candidate with a bright side (as a candidate, that is – as a dude, Johnson is righteous).

                Report

              • “So yeah, if Clinton had won and continued programs I disliked — I’m a part owner of that, even as I lobby for change.”

                If you dislike those programs then why did you vote for them?

                If you advocate for their change and that makes it okay, then why can’t Trump voters advocate for the change of things they don’t like?

                Report

                • Do you really not grasp trade-offs, or do you just not vote for anyone that doesn’t agree with you 100%?

                  I don’t get to vote for a “Clinton with only the policies I like”. I’ve got a Clinton-with-stuff-I-like-and-stuff-I-don’t.

                  So either the tradeoff — the things I support and the things I don’t, is positive and I vote for her — or negative and I don’t.

                  Voting for Trump was voting for a sexual assaulter running on a bigoted and racist platform. The fact that you voted for him because you liked his tax policy doesn’t mean you’re somehow not part of the racism.

                  You clearly felt the racism was worth the tax policy. If that’s your tradeoff, that’s your tradeoff.

                  But you own it. Both the stuff you like and the stuff you deemed an acceptable trade for that.

                  Report

                  • See what I don’t get is where you’re trying to go with this

                    because you say “you voted for a rapist racist, THAT IS ON YOU, YOU OWN THAT”

                    but when I reply “Clinton created Libya, she thinks drone assassination is cool, she wants to send the Army back into the Middle East to shoot bullets at Russian troops” you say “oh well I was gonna lobby to change that

                    so

                    either you “OWN” the bad things about your candidate and they reflect on you and who you are and there’s no way for anything else to be true

                    or you can claim that you “accept” the bad things but they aren’t a part of you and don’t say anything about you because you’re working to change them

                    both cannot be true.

                    Unless you’re going to tell me that “because TRUMP” excuses all failures of logic and reasoning. A trump card, as it were, in this game of intellectual bridge.

                    Report

                    • No, you’re literally not reading my words because you’re SO CONVINCED you already know the answer.

                      I literally answered that in the first response:

                      That’s quite accurate. A vote for Clinton was a vote for all of Clinton’s policies, even if you only voted for them because you thought Trump’s were worse. You decided that, on the balance, the good outweighed the bad.

                      You can say you disagree with them. That you dislike them. But you voted for them, and that means you supported them. Unwillingly perhaps, but not unwittingly.

                      You’re so convinced I’m a hypocrite that you missed me literally agreeing that yes, it means a vote for Clinton means you supported even the bits you don’t like. That you thought those “bad things” were worth the “good things” and that the tradeoff was positive. That you own the bad things just as much as the good things.

                      So either learn to read English or stop arguing with an imaginary Morat in your head.

                      Report

                      • So where you’re going with this is that because of racism, it’s useless to discuss anything else whatsoever about the Trump campaign or why someone might support him.

                        And then you wonder why Trump supporters seem so uninterested in having a serious conversation with you about issues.

                        Report

  9. Did the Democrats do anything wrong this time around?

    I mean, I already know how horrible and lucky and corrupt the Republicans are.

    But I’m wondering if the Democrats did anything that they shouldn’t have done?

    I remember 2004, for example. I argued that John Kerry was an awful, awful candidate, that Bush was beatable, but the last thing in the world that the Democrats needed to do was run John Kerry and say “Here! We have someone who didn’t dodge Vietnam!” and run on the whole War Hero thing. If they had run Dick Gephardt, for example, they could have run on the whole “Give The Government Back To The Grownups” thing.

    And Gephardt would have won Ohio without losing a single state that Kerry won. Maybe more than Ohio.

    Woulda coulda shoulda.

    I also came up with a handful of scenarios that involved, say, Howard Dean running and winning. (Man! That “Yeah!” speech!)

    I was told that I was not helping, Kerry was the best they could have possibly run, Bush was evil, and why didn’t I just see that.

    So I’m wondering here if Clinton was the absolute best that the Democrats could have run, nobody could have foreseen Trump, and the FBI is corrupt all the way down, why don’t I just see that?

    Report

    • Did they do something wrong? Probably. My difficulty is with how confident everyone is that they know what should have been done instead. Remember how 48 hours ago the pollsters were arguing over whether or not Clinton had a 99% chance of winning? If as many of the things that we thought mattered turned out to not matter at all, how do we know anything about which candidates or messages would have done better?

      Report

      • I’ve been kind of wondering that. I suppose it’s because assuming those counterfactuals makes life simpler.

        We can blame one person, and then be done with it. No complex problems, no trying to find complex solutions. Black and white.

        “HRC sucked, Bernie would have won, end of story, end of problem, I can go back to my donuts or whatever”.

        Report

        • ‘We can blame one person, and then be done with it. No complex problems, no trying to find complex solutions. Black and white.”

          As opposed to blaming the whole thing on uneducated whites and their racist homophobic misogyny? “It’s all the fault of whites, especially white men without college degrees!”

          Report

    • The inimitable Charlie Pierce had a very good piece yesterday. The passage that stuck out to me most was this:

      In politics, I don’t have many hard and fast rules, but one of them in which I believe deeply is the concept of horses for courses. Some politicians are built to beat certain politicians and they are helpless against others. For every successful politician, there is, out there, somewhere, the perfect foil. You spend your entire political career hoping you never run into that person. As it turns out, HRC’s perfect foil was Donald Trump.

      I theorized about this in another thread, but just to briefly reiterate, it seems like the Dems lost by nominating a cautious, centrist, establishment, technocratic, and (perhaps most importantly) stilted campaigner. The Republicans were angry, and Obama’s coalition was uninspired. The Dems picked scissors and got smashed by rock. The key question for me going forward is whether the Dems had a bad message that’s unable to connect with enough people to win the presidency, or a good message but just a uniquely bad candidate to deliver it. I worry it’s the former, but I think it’s the latter, and that the problem is fixable with a more fiery/inspiring campaigner who can reactivate the lost Obama voters. As I noted in the last comment, I think it’ll be Booker, or maybe Warren.

      Report

      • The key question for me going forward is whether the Dems had a bad message that’s unable to connect with enough people to win the presidency, or a good message but just a uniquely bad candidate to deliver it.

        Really?

        That, in my mind, would have been important going forward if Hillary had lost to anyone else.

        Trying to predict what is relevant moving forward *in this universe* is impossible. In *this* universe, the next election, the Dems can probably just run on the grounds ‘Our candidate was not fined millions of dollars for operating a fraudulent university’ and ‘Our candidate did not sign a trade agreement with the UAE because they threatened to shut down his golf course'(1) and ‘Our candidate did not make lewd comments into a hot mic about Doris Bures and almost started a war with Austria when he refused to apologize’

        1) Is the media *ever* going to start talking about the fact that Donald Trump’s overseas holdings mean that foreign governments can bribe and threaten him?

        Report

        • Why would they, they love Trump, he is media gold. Reporting on things that hurt him too much isn’t in their interest. Besides, foreign holdings and their potential issues are BORING. Misogyny is much more likely to get eyeballs.

          Report

          • Turns out Russia indeed had “contacts” with the Trump campaign. As one spokesman put it “We know the people around him, of course”.

            Putin’s just trolling us now. He’s got to find this fantastic — an utter longshot paid off.

            Report

            • Agree.

              Don’t confuse my attempts to find nuance in his victory for any kind of approval of him. For all my issues with HRC as a piss-poor candidate, she was still far and away more qualified than Trump to hold that office.

              Report

              • Yeah.

                You know, thinking about it — we’re all worried about what Trump will do deliberately. Perhaps we should be as worried, or more so, about his mistakes.

                He has no governmental experience. His closest advisers are either similarly inexperienced (his kids) or yes-men (Christie). He’s had a real inability to listen to even hired experts (like his campaign managers). He was unable to focus on debate prep, or security briefings, and just preferred winging it based on his gut.

                What sort of actual mistakes is he going to make, not having any grounding in government and frankly missing a great deal of background knowledge? Not “Trump chose to do something awful” but “Trump made a decision without knowing even the basic ramifications that would be obvious to most other politicians, and X resulted?”

                This is a man who suggested, off the cuff, that we default on the debt so we can negotiate a better repayment deal.

                Report

                • Oh very much. If he tries to do something deliberately, they’re be opposition to it, certainly from the Dems, but probably also from the GOP who really don’t like him (depending on the topic at hand).

                  But as president, he can still be a bull in a china shop with it’s nuts in a clamp.

                  Report

                • You know, thinking about it — we’re all worried about what Trump will do deliberately. Perhaps we should be as worried, or more so, about his mistakes.

                  I don’t think ‘mistakes’ is the world we should be using here.

                  Political mistakes are usually merely a miscalculation.

                  And Trump *doesn’t know enough* to make miscalculations. Miscalculations requires ‘calculations’.

                  A normal politician might *calculate* they can hide the fact that a piece of legislation directly benefits their financial interests. If that is discovered, that is a *mis*calcuation.

                  Trump, OTOH, will just say, out-loud, ‘Hey, it helps me, I’m doing it’.

                  Report

                • Channeling some of our more conspiracy-minded contributors for a second: I still think there’s a non-zero chance that at some point the R congress will reach across the isle sub rosa (while mixing metaphors at the same time) and propose that they will provide just enough support for impeachment if the D minority carries the ball.
                  Hopefully, if that happened, the Ds would look at Pence and say “You bought Trump, you own Trump” but who knows what will have happened to prompt it?

                  Report

                  • Hopefully, if that happened, the Ds would look at Pence and say “You bought Trump, you own Trump” but who knows what will have happened to prompt it?

                    Heh, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying a few time: Do not let *the Democrats* impeach Trump. Don’t let the newspapers say ‘Trump was impeached by the opposition party, with a small group of outraged Republicans joining.’

                    As a compromise, I’m willing to go with the Democrats publicly saying ‘We can do this jointly. You guys vote first. Once it’s over the threshold to pass, we promise to vote for it.’ or even some complicated thing like ‘For every two Republican votes, we will add one vote’.

                    I’m okay with not all Republicans voting for it, I’m even okay with not *enough* Republicans voting for it to have it pass on just their votes. But, at minimum, more Republicans need to be made vote for impeachment than Democrats.

                    Yes, yes, the Republican can then change their vote, and then the Democrats probably change *their* votes just to just get rid of Trump, but that seems like an even dumber plan: Trump supporters, re-elect us. We *didn’t* technically vote to impeach Trump. Yes, we cleverly tricked the Democrats into voting to impeach Trump, and everyone saw us do that on live TV, but we *ourselves* didn’t vote for impeachment. (1)

                    Then again ‘even dumber plan’ is shaping up to be the nickname of this Congress.

                    1) I mean, that might be some extreme long con for the history books that only list the official votes, and oh, look, only Democrats supported the impeachment and removal from office of this ‘Donald Trump’ guy, it must have been some sort of partisan attack! But worrying about what people will think about them a 100 years from now is not any sort of Republican priority.

                    Report

          • They hopefully remember their role as gatekeepers? The media’s treatment of Clinton’s non-scandals and avoidance of Trump’s very real scandals has been something that made many liberals very angry.

            Report

        • I was thinking along these lines this morning. I don’t think the polls were wrong, I just think they were asking the wrong question.
          If you call up 10 people and ask them “Would you prefer Clinton or Trump?”, 6 of them will say Clinton and 4 will say Trump.
          If you call up 10 people and ask them “Hey, could you hike a half mile down here and tell me if you’d prefer Clinton or Trump?” 6 of them will show up – 3 will say Clinton and 3 will say Trump.
          And that’s what we got.
          Next time, we need to not forget that organizing isn’t enough, at some level you have to inspire.

          Report

  10. Not unlike things I’ve said for years now.

    1). The Left desires most of all for the unwashed masses to be free, that those who are better than they might do their thinking for them.

    2). I’ve pointed this out several times before, and the response I typically get is something along the lines of “Tough sh!t,” but nothing approaching reaching out to rural America as even a contingent.

    3). I typically don’t mention MSM. Not my bag.
    However, from TansparencyOrg:

    Most corrupt institutions in the U.S.:
    1) Political Parties
    2) Congress & Legislatures
    3) Public Officials & Civil Servants
    4) Business & Private Sector
    5) Media

    For comparison purposes:
    6) Judiciary
    7) Police

    In in 20 have reporting paying a bribe in 2010.
    72% say that the government’s efforts to fight corruption are ineffective.
    The same number say that public corruption has increased from 2007-2010.
    The U.S. ranks 47 for press freedom.

    Report

    • Transparency international page – Just needed to point out that this is in regards to perceptions of corruption (judged on a 1-5 scale), not an objective measure of it.

      I would like to hear what some of those survey participants thought constituted corruption. The high place of politicians, etc makes me think that many people may be confusing free speech with corruption–ie. lobbying and campaign contributions.

      Report

        • I regret being snide here.

          Really.

          But not that much.

          What I am pointing out here is that there is an unjustified preference for the objective, to exclusion, whereas, for all practical purposes, the objective (i.e., the most adroit of polls) turned out to be rather subjective after all, in light of the evidence (i.e., the election).

          Can you imagine trying to describe what vertigo actually is to someone with only complete disdain for any subjective assessment?

          That objective measures are superior to subjective interpretations is, itself, a subjective statement.

          Also, the scale is a 1 to 7, objectively.

          Report

    • 1). The Left desires most of all for the unwashed masses to be free, that those who are better than they might do their thinking for them.

      That’s totally a fair and accurate description. I can feel Jaybird’s high trust society coalescing.

      Report

      • Of course.
        Yet it is, as well, an open question as to what degree this actual corruption you speak of necessarily precludes perceptions of corruption.
        With baseballs and barn-doors, the open question is an insignificant one; much as here.

        Report

    • Glenn could have written the exact same article had Clinton won, with just a few cuts-and-replaces. He sees everything through his particular vision of libertarian anti-establishment fervor. Railing against “elites” as an undifferentiated mass of politicians, bankers, CEOs, lawyers, think tankers and university professors makes for a great rant but not terribly useful analysis.

      Report

      • What’s funny is that if it hadn’t been for the things the Russians learned from Greenwald’s butt-buddy Snowden, there wouldn’t have been any DNC emails to discuss.

        Report

      • I read the second piece, and I don’t know a way forward any more than I did before.
        – I respect that their opinions are strongly held, but as to whether they represent reality I’m not so sure
        – Values are important, much more important to the people quoted than they are to me. And we don’t share many of them. How exactly am I supposed to reach across that breach when there’s no halfway?
        – They diminish me and my lived experience just as much as they fancy that I diminish theirs. They’re not entirely wrong to do so – privilege is a thing, but it’s usually talked about from the left and not the right. But I see a lack of symmetry.
        I understand the frustration. I work every day with people who, albeit corrupted by urban liberalism now, come from that place.
        What am I supposed to do? How is a legitimate dialogue even possible across this big a values gap? I can’t even really talk to guys who Rosie has had soaking in urban Palmolive for a decade.

        Report

        • My point in all this parallels point very strongly, which is that the people who voted for Trump, or other politicians who are openly racist/sexist/nationalist/alt-right CAN NOT simply be reduced to people who support, or are OK with those ideas. They are more complex than that, and trying to reduce their motives to simple things one can dismiss out of hand is just as bad as dismissing African Americans because some of them are violent felons, or muslims because of daesh.

          What the second article is trying to get across (IMHO) is that not everyone parses politics through filters that include all those isms as strong negatives, or at all. What we see as nationalism in Trump and some of his strongest supporters may not even register to them, or if it does, it registers weakly because they have other, much more pressing concerns they want addressed by a candidate. And, as Trizz (I think, maybe it was someone else) pointed out, their information tends to get heavily filtered by people with their own agendas.

          If you don’t understand how information is getting filtered to them, and how they filter that information that they get, you can’t hope to find a way to connect with them, and they will continue to be available to co-opted by whoever does bother to figure out how to connect with them.

          Honestly, I was very surprised Trump did figure it out, considering he is a model urban coastal elite. Of course, I was also surprised by just how badly HRC failed to inspire voters to get to the polls (perhaps that is a danger of people assuming a race is in the bag for a given candidate, people don’t feel an urgency to make sure it is).

          As to how to bridge the gap, the first step is to recognize that they aren’t bad people, they just parse information differently. The second step is to do what the professor did, get out there & talk to them. Well, perhaps not you, per se, but certainly politicians & policy makers. The problem will all those main street listening sessions candidates do on the campaign trail is that they aren’t serious, they are just media ops. It’s hard for people to really relax and talk to a person they see for all of an hour while there are cameras everywhere.

          Report

          • : Thanks for posting those links, btw. Another point that struck me from the second article was how savvy it was for Trump to do massive, multi-hour, unscripted, rallies as a hallmark of his campaign. As a political candidate, talking off-the-cuff for 90 minutes is about as close as you can get to having a conversation with regular folks while still staying within your safe space. I sincerely hope that it becomes much much more common in the future.

            It’s not gonna happen, but what I would *really* like to see is for the candidate to invite a few representative swing voters up on stage and actually talk to them for a few hours. I’m not sure how you handle this with the crowds and all that, but I think this would be extremely effective for a candidate. An alternative is that you do a town hall where you take questions *until there are no more questions*. Not, like, “we’re out of time”, but literally no one comes up to the microphones any more.

            Report

          • I’ve been thinking about this. I’d like to spend some time talking with someone equally interested in reaching out of our respective bubbles. I mean, every day I talk with a bunch of guys who came from there, but they’re here, and they’ve been here for years, and they may not grok here like I do, but they know it well enough to operate and blend in to the crowd.
            Not a pity party, not an inquisition, just reach out and see if we can step back from the immediate issues to a foundation that trust/collaboration can be built on, or if the six nations split really is inevitable.

            Report

    • I read that article. I’ve read many articles like that but I am not sure what the solution is or the point I should be getting as an urban dwelling liberal person. What is a fair share for rural dwellers who are smaller in population size? Why should I agree with their notions on what work is harder and more valuable than others?

      Report

      • I read that article. I’ve read many articles like that but I am not sure what the solution is or the point I should be getting as an urban dwelling liberal person.

        If your questions are sincere, I recommend the following:

        – Think of yourself less as “an urban dwelling liberal person” who has to live in opposition to “rural dwellers” and start thinking of yourself more as a person in search of viable solutions for common problems.

        – Listen to people with other points of view. Stop getting you views on other people filtered through people who agree with you.

        – Digest the fact that listening to someone and understanding their point is not the same as agreeing with you. I listen to people with other points of view all the time and I try my hardest to understand their arguments. And I rarely come away convinced by those arguments, but I do come away with a better understanding of the issue and cleared position of my own.

        Report

  11. Saul Degraw: I have to agree with JA here. The factory jobs are not coming back except as automated masterpieces.

    Agreed,

    Now what I will acknowledge is that the neo-liberal left does not have any answers and have piss poor rhetoric skills. But it is clear that libertarians are losing on free trade too even if they get to sneer at liberals for being smug.

    :sigh: Also agreed.

    However, return the country to 5% growth and complaints about growth become small squeaks. Obama was an extreme disappointment from that point of view, either he didn’t know how to create growth or he didn’t care to because it’d mean sacrificing some leftist white elephant. Fundamentally this was why he and his just got thrown out.

    So now it’s Trump’s turn. If he can create growth, then the rest of it doesn’t matter and he’ll be in charge for a while.

    Report

    • Economic growth comes from (a) more people working and (b) increases in productivity.

      But increases in productivity tend to reduce employment until the displaced people find new work, so there’s that problem.

      For a mature, post-industrial society, the world’s best economists, industrialists and analysts have not identified a magic growth pill. (Deficit spending, aka Keynsianism, only goes so far.) Republican politicians, however, are sure that somewhere in the CFR lies the regulation which, when removed, will unleash a surge of growth.

      No one’s ever given me a cite to that reg., though.

      Report

      • No one’s ever given me a cite to that reg., though.

        So you’re claiming that an inhumanly complex tax code doesn’t cause economic distortions which hurt growth?

        That all the hoops we make business go through in order to create a job doesn’t cause side effects?

        That the taxes (etc) we lard onto creating a job doesn’t reduce job creation?

        That the various massive bureaucracies which only exist to deal with other massive bureaucracies add so much value that it doesn’t hurt growth?

        That every regulation is worthwhile, even in total sum, and every gov bureaucrat never abuses his role? That Congress is never bribed into doing economically foolish things? That the regulators are never captured?

        Report

  12. Don Zeko:
    Does anyone think sustained 5% growth is any more plausible than bringing the factories back?

    How much economic distortion do we get from the tax code? How much from regulatory capture, how much could we gain from more free trade, immigration, from a fully functional educational system, etc?

    I think 5% is possible on paper, I also think it’d take multiple massive political upheavals to get to it.

    For example, going to a flat tax (or something describable on one page of paper) would mean most every tax attorney/accountant is out of work. Company bureaucracies would shrink, and the overhead associated with this would fall, although fundamentally we’d be shifting unproductive resources to productive resources, we’d be digesting the economic disruption for years.

    Report

    • I’ve only ever dealt with Canadian tax code, but I can tell you that a lot of the bloat is because what sounds like really simple rules that could fit on a post card in theory end up requiring reems to put into place in practice do to the many complicated ways real life economic activity intersect with taxation.

      You might think you can go, you owe 20% of your income, no matter how you got it, no deductions, boom, done. But just defining the word income in that statement turns out to be incredibly complicated in real life, contending against real people who want to game the system.

      Not that you don’t have a point about deadweight loss and the amount the current system is more inefficient than it has to be. But lets not over-estimate how simple it would be to apply simple solutions to real world problems.

      Report

      • But lets not over-estimate how simple it would be to apply simple solutions to real world problems.

        Simplicity is much harder to game than complexity.

        The current tax code is deliberately made complex because of Congress having been captured by layer after layer of special interests, and because of Congress trying to use the tax code to micromanage the economy and pick winners and losers, and because Congress uses the tax code as a stick/carrot to drum up campaign contributions.

        Then after Congress gets done with that the rules are handed over to a bureaucracy which uses their “interpretation” of these rules to empire build, and large complex companies often defensively build their own bureaucracies (which also empire build) to deal with the gov’s.

        So how much of a growth hit do we take because of this mess? 1%? 2%? If it’s 3% then a full fix takes us to 5% growth right there… however we’d be asking Congress to give up a lot of power, fund extorting ability, and face down a lot of upset people.

        Millions of people lose their jobs. Without it’s tax breaks, green energy probably dies. Lots of people (myself included) have too much house if their mortgage isn’t tax deductible.

        And that all that would be worth it for 5% growth.

        Report

        • If we’re just waving WAGs in the air, why stop at 5% growth annually? Why not six or seven or eight?

          At some point you should be able to point to a model which has at least some degree of acceptance by a wide range of experts that links your proposed policy changes to claim of sustained growth.

          The Clean Air Act, for example, is pretty complicated. But EPA has at least made an effort to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. See here.

          The tax code is the vehicle by which both parties conduct a large amount of policy, some of which is poor policy, like the mortgage interest deduction. But eliminating the mortgage interest deduction in a single year would immediately lower the value of all housing in the US and ruin the finances of millions of American families. The recession that would be created by the change would be ruinous.

          Tax simplification policies fail because American families and companies make significant financial decisions based on the existence of the old policy. So to end an old policy, you need to adopt a new one that allows for an adjustment period.

          But the core of the issue is that the parties like conducting policy via the tax code. It’s a convenient way to provide a benefit to a favored group.

          Report

          • There’s also the fact that the tax code is often complex because…life is complex. Business is complex.

            Dark Matter would never claim a business should run it’s books like a household, for instance. That’s because running a Fortune 500 company is nothing like running a household. It’s far, far more complex with a ton more moving parts.

            But apparently the tax code for that complex entity (well actually the complete set of all possible complex entities) should meet his definition of simple.

            And then assumes simple is, of course, better.

            All this is based on an article of faith: That government is massively holding back growth, and getting rid of government will increase growth.

            Report

            • All this is based on an article of faith: That government is massively holding back growth, and getting rid of government will increase growth.

              We have 800,000 people whose jobs are to help others fill out tax forms. If we includes businesses we’d be above a million. Are you seriously claiming this adds value to the economy?

              Or that an inhumanly complex tax code doesn’t cause economic distortions and unintended consequences? Or that really large bureaucracies don’t increase overhead, which in turn are passed to consumers?

              Report

              • America employs an absurdly huge amount of medical finance bureaucrats compared to other industrial economies. If you’re looking for a free lunch in freeing up resources that’s a lot more promising area to look than tax bureaucracy. Unlike with the tax thing, with the medical thing you have real examples of how it works in comparable societies

                Report

                • America employs an absurdly huge amount of medical finance bureaucrats compared to other industrial economies. If you’re looking for a free lunch in freeing up resources that’s a lot more promising area to look than tax bureaucracy. Unlike with the tax thing, with the medical thing you have real examples of how it works in comparable societies

                  If you’re talking about “single payer”, I think it’s inaccurate to think costs would go down with that in the US. That we’ve always flinched away from how much it’d cost indicates the opposite.

                  I wouldn’t call it a free lunch, but if we want serious public financing of all things medical, what we need is something akin to death panels and/or other ways to keep the costs in line.

                  Report

                  • The first world abounds with many different ways of running a health care system, not all of which are single payer systems. What they all share in common is they are a lot cheaper and employ a lot fewer bureaucrats than the American one.

                    You do need the “death panels” if you want to call them that. But lets be honest, what you are talking about is present in some form in every insurance system. No system gives you unlimited access to care with no regard to resources, that moral event horizon has already been crossed.

                    Report

                    • What they all share in common is they are a lot cheaper and employ a lot fewer bureaucrats than the American one.

                      Agreed. What we have is akin to home insurance which covers every change of lightbulb.

                      You do need the “death panels” if you want to call them that. But lets be honest, what you are talking about is present in some form in every insurance system. No system gives you unlimited access to care with no regard to resources, that moral event horizon has already been crossed.

                      Agreed. IMHO Congress is poorly equipped to deal with this issue, but the math of it is that half of your lifetime useage of medical care is in the last year or two of life.

                      Report

                      • Pretty much. The American dual house, presidential system isn’t particularly good at setting up efficient programs that are regularly updated. Its a system designed to make consensus laws, which is what they thought they would be doing in the 18th century, not administrate government programs, which is what they found themselves doing in the 20th. The veto points make good management and holding people responsible for bad outcomes difficult.

                        This isn’t an anti-American thing, you guys do a lot of things really well and don’t always get credit for it. But this particular file you seem to muck up constantly with no hope of even getting to baseline average.

                        Report

                      • Agreed. What we have is akin to home insurance which covers every change of lightbulb.

                        Actually, most European health delivery systems do cover most expenses. It’s not just catastrophic or high cost expenses. And most are NOT Single Payer.

                        The fact that the GOP never discusses any of those methods, and instead only talks about selling across state lines and mLpractice reform tells me they have little interest in doing anything productive about health delivery.

                        Report

                        • The fact that the GOP never discusses any of those methods, and instead only talks about selling across state lines and mLpractice reform tells me they have little interest in doing anything productive about health delivery.

                          Pot. Meet Kettle.

                          I’m not well informed of all these variations because neither side brings them up, but it might be pure ignorance.

                          Report

                          • They were mentioned a lot when the ACA was being discussed.

                            But of course at the time (and afterwards) the GOP has refused absolutely to propose anything at al, to replace the status quo ante or the ACA.

                            And, most likely, nothing whatsoever will replace the ACA. We will just go back to 1999 and wait four more years to see if something can be done.

                            Report

                            • They were mentioned a lot when the ACA was being discussed. But of course at the time (and afterwards) the GOP has refused absolutely to propose anything at al, to replace the status quo ante or the ACA.

                              The GOP understood they were frozen out of the ACA discussion at the start.

                              This was a once-in-a-generation chance for the Left to give America socialised medicine, and the discussion was between the Left and the far Left. I can not picture Obama standing up to the far Left to make the GOP included. From his point of view he was right, and making nice with the GOP was actually a bad idea for multiple reasons.

                              Not only was the GOP wrong, but they knew themselves that they were wrong and were just against socialised medicine for narrow selfish reasons. The ACA was going to work, it was crafted by the greatest minds, it was going to reduce medical costs, expand coverage, encourage growth, and be popular with the public. Why should the GOP get any credit, or have any input? Their role was to be the villains of the piece for opposing this for the last 50+ years.

                              It wasn’t until the Dems realised it wasn’t going to be popular that they looked for a vote or three, and by then the GOP realised it was a train wreck. If the ACA was popular with the public they would have backed off, and if it had worked as advertised it would be popular.

                              In Michigan a generation ago the Dems, as a joke, submitted a bill to the governor ending school funding (with nothing replacing it). The idea was to show up the governor for having submitted no ideas on what to do instead of what they currently had. Instead he signed it, and with no funding at all for schools, all sides were forced to sit down and come up with something reasonable. Nothing concentrates minds like a noose.

                              Hopefully if the ACA is blown up we’ll see something like that… but we’ll see.

                              Report

                                • This is beyond fantasy.

                                  Is this the part where you claim the GOP was all mean and nasty to Obama, and it was their fault and not his?

                                  My expectation is we’re going to see the Dems be all mean and nasty to Trump… and then we’ll see. He’ll either be so thin-skinned that he can’t do anything, or he’ll figure out a way to work with them (or around them) and show the Presidency is hard and shouldn’t be someone’s first real job.

                                  Report

                              • Hopefully if the ACA is blown up we’ll see something like that… but we’ll see.

                                Trump’s idea of Repeal is to keep guarantee issue while the Replace part is restricted to HSAs.

                                Ryan’s idea is to use Repeal as a way to Replace (ie, dismantle) Medicare (and introduce HSAs!!!).

                                Yeah, we’ll see.

                                BTW, it’s easy to sustain guarantee issue: make it illegal to deny anyone coverage based on PE and let the market decide how much they’d have to pay in premiums for coverage. BOOM! A market-based solution to the problem of rescision!

                                Report

                              • Obama bent over backwards to accommodate GOP ideas (including many amendments offered by republicans that made it into the bill). The idea itself comes from the Heritage Foundation, and was a Mitt Romney initiative.

                                To suggest Obama rejected GOP ideas is either complete delusion or dishonesty. And the argument was with Liebermann/Nelson (because no GOP politician would vote for it under any circumstances for avoedly tactical reasons) who are not “Left” by any reasonable definition.

                                Report

                                • The idea itself comes from the Heritage Foundation, and was a Mitt Romney initiative.

                                  Obama got all those Dem votes with proposals from the right wing? Seriously? And he didn’t get any right wing votes at all? After he figured out he wasn’t getting any GOP votes he didn’t move to the left? And other people have pointed out that the GOP didn’t propose anything?

                                  Here’s a link from March of 2010 (i.e. before it was known politicians would be voted out of office for supporting Obamacare) http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704117304575138071192342664

                                  The Dems passed the most left wing bill they could, unless the GOP was willing to support “the public option” there was no point in them trying to contribute.

                                  Report

                                  • Did you really not know that Obamacare started as a republican idea? Really?

                                    What did you think Romney was doing in Massachusetts?

                                    (as for the rest, Obama was begging for Republican support, accepted many GOP amendments, and no one went for it. These are facts, no matter how much you seem to wish they weren’t)

                                    Report

              • That’s on the unholy alliance between the GOP and the tax prep lobby. Democrats have long wanted to mail everyone a pre-filled 1040. It wouldn’t be right for those of us who itemize deductions (and would be completely non-binding so we could ignore it or use it to sanity check our work) but it would be right for the majority of Americans.

                But the GOP wants paying taxes to suck, and the tax prep lobby wants money. So for the love of god you don’t also get to complain that your party has succeeded at making paying taxes suck.

                Report

                • The IRS corrects my 1040 every year. Sometimes in my favor, sometimes in theirs. I don’t get audited because (a) my number hasn’t come up, and (b) it’s clear that I’m not cheating, I’m just crap at doing it. Since they must be doing precisely all the work that I would have to do in order to verify my return, even if I am technically doing it myself, I’d much rather they agree to stop the formal dance and just send me a bill or a check every year.

                  Report


                  • Fun story about my taxes.

                    The US government, for 2015, decided I didn’t qualify for the subsidy for my health insurance because they don’t think I’m cool enough. I mean didn’t like my documentation. In the middle of the year. (I mean, they didn’t like my documentation at the start, but I was supposed to fix it, but they didn’t like anything I told them, so stopped the subsidies halfway though.)

                    No problem, I said to myself. I’ll just pay full price and then give the IRS a tax return with the correct income, get all the money back. Whatever. (1)

                    So I’m doing my taxes at…I think H&R Block website, I tell it I didn’t take my full subsidy and wanted it as a rebate and it tells me to go get a form from healthcare.gov. I actually think I’d gotten that form every year.

                    So I go get it, a PDF, I upload it without really paying attention, and it’s *completely wrong*. I forget how, but it was supposed to be listing the partial price,and the subsidies, and then, after the transition, the full price and no subsidies, and I forgot how they screwed it up, but it utterly wrong, like, they had the subsidized price for the insurance after the subsidies stopped, and had 0’d the subsidies.

                    I, confused, went and got another copy of the form, and checked, and it was wrong, and I read the instructions on the form, and figured out how it was wrong, and I go to the next screen, intent on telling the software to let me type it in, firing up Windows Calculator to do the math…

                    …and the software said ‘Oh, you have one of the bad forms they give out when you change subsidies in the middle of the year, let me fix that’.

                    I have no idea what the hell was going on, and I have no idea what that is an argument for or against having the government do our taxes, but it was really, really stupid.

                    1) Why does the IRS believe my 2015 income when I tell it to them in January of 2016, but healthcare.gov doesn’t believe it in December of 2014?

                    Report

          • So to end an old policy, you need to adopt a new one that allows for an adjustment period.

            Agreed.

            But the core of the issue is that the parties like conducting policy via the tax code. It’s a convenient way to provide a benefit to a favored group.

            The entire “Trump” protest is, imho, something which would never have happened if we had a decent level of growth.

            Put differently, if Obama had done a decent job on the economy, Hillary would have won with a “4 more years” slogan. All of these policies and short term trade offs which put growth last have long term consequences.

            Report

              • Yeah, but your religious belief aside, no fiddling with the tax code, even outright repeal, is gonna allow 5% growth. That’s magic pony economics

                I think getting a 3% boost from just dealing with the tax code is extremely aggressive and probably unrealistic. Certainly the politics of it would prevent us from anything like a “single page”, and the truly massive distortions have lots of support (mortgage interest for example).

                I also think having a discussion about growth is useful, and a big part of that discussion should be what is the gov doing wrong and how much does it cost. Growth should be a big part of any talk about the government, and any gov program or rule.

                On the “cost” side it’s worth pointing out these massive social programs the left favours can’t be paid for long term without growth, and a lack of growth leads to social upheaval (including both Trump’s and Occupy Wall Street).

                Report

                  • What are you’re thoughts on Kansas’ economic performance these last few years?

                    If memory serves Kansas cut their taxes (but not their spending) and just hoped the money would grow on trees. I’ve no idea what they did with regulations, probably nothing since states mostly implement federal policy rather than set it.

                    This isn’t even equiv to trying to fix the federal tax code by going flat all at once as opposed to spaced out over years (Poland just freed the economy and knew it was going to be brutal and also knew quick and brutal was what they wanted).

                    All tax cuts don’t pay for themselves, but that doesn’t change that the gov is doing far too much which it does poorly.

                    Report

                    • They have cut funding drastically, though not enough to make up for the tax cuts they made. They also cut regulations to try and draw in business.

                      These policy (or those very similar to it) are going to be enacted. Though you are probably right that Republicans are going to get rid of some tax complexity (as long as it doesn’t hurt their special interests). I predict a gapping budget deficit and lower growth.

                      Report

        • Also, Congress has a nasty tendency to do to the tax code what MLB and the NFL do to their rulebooks. See someone in a high profile situation “get away” with something, then close the loophole by writing an explicit addendum to the rule. After enough of these, it’s almost impossible to understand the rules, to adjudicate them fairly, or even avoid situations where the addenda are mutually contradictory. But fixing the rule in the first place by simplifying it was out of the question.

          Report

          • Someone here told a story about dealing with legal contracts, possibly for real estate. He mentioned that, in the contract, there were numerous clauses spelling out some really obvious stuff (which was already stated, in less specific terms elsewhere, or implied by combination of existing terms) and some really weird clauses addressing really odd things.

            It added a great deal to the document. Apparently when he asked his boss/experienced employee about those, the man replied: “They’re there because someone tried to pull that crap in the past”.

            The spirit of the law is simple. The letter of the law, to describe that spirit and keep people from rules-lawyering it, is often complex.

            “Simplify the tax code” is just another form of “waste, fraud and abuse”. It’s a magic talisman, a simple solution to complex problems. Might as well add in tiger-protecting rocks.

            Report

            • Yeah, at some level I know that. I mean, that’s where the infamous “Brown M&M” clause came from (a trivial request, but easy to check, and if it wasn’t fulfilled it throws doubt on all the really serious safety-critical clauses elsewhere in the contract).
              To go back to my sports metaphor, on one hand you have the NFL officials parsing a rule book and a case book and conferring with the head office on slow motion replay five times a game, and on the other hand you have soccer officials interpreting twelve laws in real time with no consultation, discussion, or explanation.
              The soccer way is clearly better as long as the guy in the middle is omniscient and omnibenevolent (omnipotent would be nice, since if he were he could get his fat ass out of the center circle and follow the action more often). In the real world, the NFL way probably is “fairer”.

              Report

              • Writing software is a better analogy. You get the original spec, write the code, test, go on a bug hunt, release to users, wait for feedback, go on another bug hunt, rinse repeat….

                Problem is, the regulatory test phase is mostly the same as the release, and thanks to politics, every bug found is a matter of safety or justice to some group, so it must be patched right fecking now. So now we have old code, heavily patched and in desperate need of a rewrite, but there’s no budget for a rework because one group wants to scrap it all and another isn’t keen on the problems a rework might introduce.

                Report

                • When I worked on legislative staff, and someone asked, “Why is this bill so long and complicated,” I could always get programmers to understand almost instantly:

                  “See this?” I would say, pointing at the state statutes that took up a whole shelf in the bookcase. “It’s one program, full of spaghetti code, with a hundred years worth of patches in it. This,” holding up a copy of the bill, “is the diff patch* touching every place in that mess that has to be changed in order to implement the new feature completely without breaking other features.”

                  * In Colorado, a bill is literally an almost-formal difference file to be applied to the body of statute. So are amendments to the bill as it passes through the process, and amendments to the amendments. One of the things about the job that I was good at almost immediately was drafting amendments to amendments because I’d had experience with a similar sort of system.

                  Report

            • Oh, sure. Complaining about the complexity of the tax code makes sense in some ways, but many times it’s coming from people that just haven’t thought through the difficulty of the job. If anyone can provide a usable definition of “taxable income” in fewer than 100 pages or so, I’ll eat my hat.

              Report

            • “Simplify the tax code” is just another form of “waste, fraud and abuse”. It’s a magic talisman, a simple solution to complex problems. Might as well add in tiger-protecting rocks.

              Reagan actually did it, worked decently well too.

              And while “simple” it’s actually really hard. There’s a lot of vested interests here, including Congress, who don’t want this problem fixed.

              Report

    • I think 5% is possible on paper, I also think it’d take multiple massive political upheavals to get to it.

      Advanced economies don’t experience 5% real growth rates. The only way to get that type of growth in the U.S. would be to experience some kind of profound technological shock, like the invention of cold fusion.

      Here is John Cochrane with a pretty good overview of things that we could be doing to boost growth: http://johnhcochrane.blogspot.hk/2016/09/testimony-2.html#more. Notice that even here is talking about getting growth up into the 2s and mid-3s, not up to 5.

      Report

      • j r: Advanced economies don’t experience 5% real growth rates.

        Except Singapore, but Singapore is magic.

        If the US adopted good pro-growth policy, I think it’s reasonable to expect that we could see that kind of growth for a couple years just from not doing stupid stuff that keeps GDP suppressed. I agree that sustained 5% growth is pretty much impossible at the cutting edge, though.

        Report

        • Except Singapore, but Singapore is magic.

          Panama is being doing it for a decade or so, too.

          Is there something secret Panama or Singapore are doing that they haven’t told anyone else?

          Might the fact that they are basically city states (Panama City was, as of 2010, with 1.4 million people, 15 (sic) times larger than the next largest city, not counting exurbs that added another 300,000) make it very difficult to replicate in a continent wide country?

          And by the way, please do note that both countries have made international trade and finance their main (or almost) staple. Perhaps there’s something to Globalism after all. Alas, international trade and finance is not part of the new recipe for the USA. So the Singapore model is not what we will be following. (*)

          If the US adopted good pro-growth policy, I think it’s reasonable to expect that we could see that kind of growth for a couple years just from not doing stupid stuff that keeps GDP suppressed. I agree that sustained 5% growth is pretty much impossible at the cutting edge, though.

          “Stuff” is doing a lot of work here. It would be interesting if we talked about WHAT is the specific stupid “stuff” that’s stopping growth so we could get rid of it ASAP.

          (*)Houston is growing faster than the country too (lots of trade and finance involved). I can tell you, there’s nothing secret in what we are doing.

          Report

          • The equivalent of Singapore would be in NYC was free to do its own thing, independant of the rest of America.

            Its own growth rates might be awe-inspiring, but that isn’t much of an answer to how upstate New York plans to grow.

            Strategically placed trading urban trading entrepots have historically exploded in free market conditions. Singapore is nothing new from something you could observe in Venice or Lubbeck centuries ago. Your stealing a base assuming a continent size economy is free to do the same thing.

            You’re also assuming you can get improvements the size of 1% per year in growth due to simple policy changes. 1% sounds small, but it is a massive change in the thing its measuring. People have been playing this game for years in their ill-considered attempt to get a free lunch in policy and it doesn’t work that way.

            Report

            • Your stealing a base assuming a continent size economy is free to do the same thing.

              Only in part. Mostly I’m pointing out that we’re doing things which are damaging growth, and suggesting that we try stopping those things before we declare that growth is impossible.

              Report

              • It might be. But it also can be true that the things you think are holding back growth so bad aren’t really doing it so badly or are suprisingly important to making the system work.

                Bad assumptions about how much growth can be had if you take away the things supposedly holding it back is now a proven way to turn Kansas into Brownbeckistan.

                I’ve got a great deal of respect for Hayek’s observation that the economy is really complicated and thus hard to centrally plan and difficult to project how interventions will play out. But that logic also applies to libertarian changes to the status quo as much as it does to anyone else’s. You can’t just assume that you can make this change to things then it will naturally work out awesome.

                Report

                • But that logic also applies to libertarian changes to the status quo as much as it does to anyone else’s. You can’t just assume that you can make this change to things then it will naturally work out awesome.

                  This is like saying that just because we increase demand, decrease supply, and impose price controls, we don’t *know* that we’ll have shortages.

                  That’s True, but all outcomes are not equally likely, shortages is the way to bet.

                  We’re having problems with growth, and we’re looking at growth choking policies, which were created by self interested parties to benefit them at the expense of everyone else… the way to bet is that these policies are in fact causing problems, and should be reevaluated for just how expensive they are.

                  Report

          • Advanced economies uniformly have governments which adopt growth hobbling policies. The problem is the policies, not the “advanced” part.

            It’s not that simple, due to Conditional Convergence, its much harder for a developed country to grow fast that a developing one. Better policy would help, both in increasing growth slightly and in improving Allocative Efficiency, which wouldn’t necessarily increase GDP but would improve people’s lives in other ways. But a sustainable real per-capita growth rate of 5% per annum is fantasy, nothing short of the Singularity is likely to produce results of that magnitude.

            Report


      • Advanced economies don’t experience 5% real growth rates. The only way to get that type of growth in the U.S. would be to experience some kind of profound technological shock, like the invention of cold fusion.

        I am not sure why all the emphasis on *growth rate*.

        As the problem is ‘People losing their sources of income due to automation and overseas production’, perhaps the solution is merely for people to have a *replacement* source of income.

        Report

          • I just find it baffling that jr is the ‘Those jobs were lost to automation and aren’t coming back’ guy, and then he turns around and talks about the growth rate.

            Making 2% more stuff via automated factories will raise the GDP by 2%, but isn’t going to help any of the people put out of work by automation, who still find themselves without a job.

            Report

            • This sort of thing has been happening since we were all farmers, so one question seems obvious: Surely people have been pissed off that their old jobs were going away since the industrial revolution, so what, if anything, has government done about it in the past that quelled those frustrations?

              I mean, it seems like the Democrats are getting sternly lectured for not pretending that they’re going to bring back those jobs that aren’t going to come back. Sure, lying and saying you have a solution to do that appears to be a valid electoral strategy, so maybe they should do it too. But does it actually solve any real problem aside from the, “The other guys lies are more appealing” problem?

              Report

              • it seems like the Democrats are getting sternly lectured for not pretending that they’re going to bring back those jobs that aren’t going to come back.

                My problem with the Dems on this issue is they tend to believe that job creation is a privilege given to employers, not a right. Creating a job shouldn’t require a team of lawyers and accountants, it shouldn’t be larded up with mandates and fees, and you shouldn’t have to prove x/y/z.

                We as a society should want creating a job to be the First thing an employer wants to try for fixing a problem, not the last. That means creating that job should be really easy and risk free.

                Ideally we want lots of employers competing for employees, so much so that demand/supply increases the income going to employees.

                Report

                  • By Trump rules, it shouldn’t create any additional expenditures, say, paying the person you hire.

                    If the person in question wants to work for nothing, why should the government have the power to say “no”?

                    My mom worked in the church office for nothing (it’s called ‘volunteering’). I’ve worked for less than nothing (partner in a company losing money).

                    I’ve worked for less than what I deserved just to get experience. Opportunity knocks at work, it was stunningly useful to be at work and get those skills.

                    Report

                • That’s all fabulous in the abstract, but I’m not voting for it unless I know what, specifically, you want to change. Everybody’s big on cutting waste and hacking away job-killing regulations, but they’re a lot less interested in actually doing a cost-benefit analysis and figuring out which ones to change and how. “I’ll just toss a grenade into the whole thing and it will all work itself out,” doesn’t appeal to me.

                  I strongly doubt that there are 2 or 3 big regs that you can cut to make everything better. There are a ton of regulations in place, and some of them might even be there for good reason. Basically, without specifics this is just platitudes, just like people who tell me they’ll balance the budget by getting rid of “waste.” The good news is that on a case by case basis, I’m happy to vote with you on specific things if they make sense.

                  It seems like a lot of Republicans assume Democrats like regulations for their own sake. I can only guess that it stems from the assumption that the other guy must believe exactly the opposite of what you believe, so if you believe in cutting regulations as a matter of principle, they must believe in creating them as a matter of principle.

                  Report

                  • There are a ton of regulations in place, and some of them might even be there for good reason.

                    Exactly, “a ton”. Every grain of rice on the donkey’s back can be there for a good reason, but their collective weight can still be a problem. It’s basically impossible for people like you and me to know what the law is, so… we can’t create jobs? Or do we just do so and hope we don’t run afoul of the gov?

                    Here’s a different way to frame this, these regulations add roughly $10k in costs to our employment (assuming non-manufacturing). I’ve been abused by my management several times over the years (stealing my $401k money certainly counts), but I’ve never had a year (much less all years collectively) where that $10k wouldn’t have served me better in my pocket. IMHO my ability and willingness to quit and get a different job puts an upper limit on how bad things can get, and provides more motivation to my employer not to do things which would result in me quitting.

                    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/oct/30/ben-carson/cnbc-debate-ben-carson-cites-high-cost-regulations/

                    Report

                    • Again, this is just hand waving until you have a concrete proposal. If your proposal is, “no more rice,” then we’re going to have a serious discussion about what you plan to do to replace the things that rice was doing for us. If you want to talk about specific regulations, that’s excellent and I’m all for it. I’d totally vote for a candidate with a smart, well thought out hit list of regulations to reform or eliminate and reasons for doing it. But what they seem to be offering is, “I promise no more clouds on Sunday.”

                      Your example is just more of the same pathology. I’ll assume for the sake of argument that we can put 100% trust in a study commissioned by a lobbying group that exists to lobby for reducing regulations. But the methodology is not useful for anything. You start with a WAG about what the “total” cost of regulations is and divide it up by people. OK. Now you have a “cost” number which is, for some reason divided by employees instead of by gallons of gas or bushels of apples.

                      First of all, that doesn’t mean that a new employee costs another $10K per year. That’s average total cost, so it probably means that the average per-employee cost of regulation drops as more employees are hired. But that notwithstanding, what does that figure that tell you about what to do?

                      If the number had been $500, could we simply assume that businesses are under regulated? If not, why not, and how does the $10K number by itself mean that businesses are over regulated? Just the number and a gut feeling? How do we detangle this aggregate into something useful for analysis?

                      Report

                            • I never said it was. I’m with you. What’s next? Do enough of these and you end up with a coherent reform platform, which is something nobody has bothered to do. And even if you don’t get all of them, you’ll probably be able to get us to at least 14% real GDP growth.

                              I kid.

                              The issue here is that this stuff is actually hard work and requires full time people working on it who take it seriously. I do not get the impression that either the Republicans or the Libertarians take it seriously. The Democrats, for all their tendency to over-regulate, at least appear to take to heart the notion that the work they’re doing is important and that they need to leave something functional in place when they’re done.

                              In short, “I’ll burn this whole place to the ground,” doesn’t appeal to me and probably only appeals to people who haven’t thought carefully about what it looks like to have the place burned to the ground. “What’s the worst that could happen?” is just a failure of imagination, not a plan.

                              Report

                                • Additionally, it’s got freakin’ nothing to do with “growth”. You and I both know that women will still be braiding each others’ hair in these places and money will change hands whether or not the government knows about it.

                                  You’re not pushing for someone to take braiding seriously.

                                  You’re pushing for cops to have the authority to throw one of the women in jail.

                                  “You’re overstating things!”

                                  Yeah, I’m sure you read the story about the tamale lady getting arrested and facing jail time, right?

                                  For what it’s worth, I believe that you take this woman making tamales far more seriously than I do.

                                  Report

                                  • Additionally, it’s got freakin’ nothing to do with “growth”.

                                    Thank goodness. I thought I heard somewhere it had something to do with growth. Since it’s actually all about whether we should be assholes to poor people for the sake of it, I’ll change how I do my analysis.

                                    So, regarding the tamale lady, is the solution to eliminate all restaurant and food safety regulations and call it a day? I mean, we could have some busybody look at whether there’s at least something useful to salvage in there, but what’s the worst that could happen? Those sorts of tasks are for bureaucrats who just like power for its own sake, and it’s a lot of work anyway. The guy might even want to get paid to do it! Crazy.

                                    Report

                                      • I don’t think that’s the alternative, though. I can imagine a world where the tamale lady doesn’t go to jail and we still have health inspectors, but I don’t think we’ll get there if we consistently elect people who say things like, “What does FEMA do anyway?”

                                        Report

                                            • Well, in any case, we remain in this place where the tamale lady is credibly threatened with jail time due to the regulation that you see a reasonable.

                                              I see it as a waste of government resources at best and all sorts of social justice language at worst.

                                              It benefits no one, protects no one, helps no one, and harms at least one person (and probably more).

                                              Because the alternative is too heinous to consider. Or even describe.

                                              Report

                                              • I actually don’t see that result as reasonable. But, like I said, solving it would require bureaucrats to suckle at the public teat to figure out a regulatory solution that protects food purchasers and the tamale lady (ignoring for a moment the fact that such a solution already exists). It requires people to look at costs and benefits and make decisions based on data. It might even add regulatory complexity (in fact, it did).

                                                The sexier solution is just to whack the unreasonable regulation. Who needs enforceable rules for food safety anyway? What has the, “People selling food to the public need to pass health and safety inspections” rule done for us anyway? Being serious about keeping these agencies functioning properly is just for busybodies like the prohibitionists.

                                                This is where Trump is probably going to drop the most balls. A lot of government is appointing bureaucrats to fine tune rules so the tamale lady stays free and restaurants still get inspected. Trump is the type of guy who will make appointments that make GW Bush appointing the disgraced head of the International Arabian Horse Association to run FEMA look like a perfectly reasonable decision.

                                                Report

                                                • Fun note: I read this morning that Obama was the one who broke the news to Trump that, in fact, he’d have to staff the whole West Wing.

                                                  Trump apparently thought all those staffers were permanent positions, and he’d just step into Obama’s seat, appoint the Cabinet, and be ready to go.

                                                  This is what happens when you lie on your resume and they hire you….

                                                  Report

                                                  • Trump apparently thought all those staffers were permanent positions, and he’d just step into Obama’s seat, appoint the Cabinet, and be ready to go.

                                                    As I said on Facebook, I don’t see why Obama dissuaded him of that idea.

                                                    It would have been much funnier for him to show up and not have a staff.

                                                    Or, even better, left all *his* staff in place, if they were willing to play along. Not for sabotage, but doing their job…but of course, continuing to be Democrats, offering Democratic solutions, promoting Democratic priorities, etc.

                                                    Until Reince Priebus says ‘Wait a second, these are *Democratic* staffers. What the hell?!’

                                                    I think I’ve been reading too many Joe Biden prank memes.

                                                    Report

                                                    • I’m sure the thought was there (or to just decamp and not correct his assumption), but it’s pretty clear Obama puts country above all else.

                                                      Surprising for a Muslim Kenyan Communist, I know. :)

                                                      Report

                                                • …require bureaucrats to suckle at the public teat to figure out a regulatory solution that protects food purchasers and the tamale lady…

                                                  …It requires people to look at costs and benefits and make decisions based on data.

                                                  It’s probably not a good idea to ask bureaucrats to figure out if their own job is necessary, and if their job needs to be expanded or whatever.

                                                  Report

                                    • Re: Tamale lady – in that case, as I mentioned before, the regulatory body in question sent a letter to the FB group warning them they were in violation. I think how that warning was issued, and the content of that warning is kinda important.

                                      I mean, in general, I don’t think such regulations should kick in for one off cases unless there was a quantifiable harm. So if the lady is selling such meals every week, she has to get right with the regs, or if she sickens someone, she has liability.

                                      But back to the warning, for these edge cases, one thing we can require is that if a regulatory body issues a warning, it needs to not only include text explaining the violation, but also text explaining how to be in compliance. DD explained that CA has a simple permit system for low volume food sellers, so as long as that was explained, and the person chose to ignore it… Also, if such a warning is issued to a group, what legal obligation does a social media group have to disseminate the warning?

                                      Report

                      • Again, this is just hand waving until you have a concrete proposal.

                        Add a ten year review with a default elimination unless we can prove they’re worth the expense, rather than a default “someone somewhere at sometime must have found it ok”.

                        One of our problems is with creeping regulation as every generation of politicians needs to “do something” to prove their worth. Sunset would give the current group something to do.

                        …how does the $10K number by itself mean that businesses are over regulated? Just the number and a gut feeling? How do we detangle this aggregate into something useful for analysis?

                        First of all, $10k seems like a lot when median household income is roughly $50 and personal income is less than that. Yes, that’s a gut-check (I’d call it a sanity check), but it’s still fair to ask how much value we get.

                        As for “analysis”, that word implies looking at what we’re getting, and how much it’s costing, and ideally we’d then let individuals decide whether these “services” are really necessary for their health and whether they value them to this degree.

                        Report

                        • Add a ten year review with a default elimination unless we can prove they’re worth the expense, rather than a default “someone somewhere at sometime must have found it ok”.

                          That sounds like a proposal with some real potential. I’d like to see something like this done for a lot of laws, actually. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a regulation-cutting politician propose it. I’m more used to them bragging about how many regulations they’d cut rather than which ones and why.

                          Listening to Gary Johnson rattle off departments he’d eliminate in a heartbeat and then start hemming and hawing as soon as he’s asked, “Would you keep any of the things those departments do?” is more along the lines of what I’m used to seeing. Axing, say, the Department of Energy sounds great, but dig into whether the person proposing it actually knows what the DoE does and you’re usually in for disappointment.

                          As for “analysis”, that word implies looking at what we’re getting, and how much it’s costing, and ideally we’d then let individuals decide whether these “services” are really necessary for their health and whether they value them to this degree.

                          That’s *precisely* what I’m asking for, and it’s what’s missing from the platforms of the politicians who are taking a brave stance against “regulation” in the abstract. If you as a politician have a good track record of looking at specific regulations, assessing their costs and benefits and rolling back the ones that aren’t worthwhile, I’m interested. But the way the Republican party markets itself isn’t interesting to me.

                          The cost benefit analysis issue also why the $10K number is useless on its own. When they say $10K per employee, they clearly don’t mean that when you add an employee your burden goes up by $10K. They appear to be rolling up the “costs” of all regulations everywhere into a big useless mush. Had to provide safety goggles? That’s part of your $10K per employee. Was your building painted with a latex paint that’s slightly more expensive than it would have been absent some obscure environmental regulation, or was it built with a tile that doesn’t contain asbestos? That cost is in there too. How bit is the disincentive to hiring from those?

                          Report

        • As the problem is ‘People losing their sources of income due to automation and overseas production’, perhaps the solution is merely for people to have a *replacement* source of income.

          Universal Guaranteed income?

          I’d really like to see how that works somewhere else before we try it large scale here, and it’d have to replace several important/popular programs, but I’m not opposed.

          Report

          • Or early retirement, or stop kicking people off unemployment, or a whole bunch of things.

            My point is that ‘growth’ is not the problem.

            We could get *more* economic growth by automating all the trucks, reducing the cost of shipping. And throwing millions out of work.

            As I am pretty certain we’ve had a conversation about before: A good way to increase GDP is to *reduce inefficiencies*. A good way to reduce inefficiencies is to build a process where less people get paid to do it.

            Which results in *less* employment, not more.

            We could even increase the GDP by having a guy set up an automated machine to *gold plate* the cars of the superrich for ten million each.

            Which doesn’t change employment at all! That guy could do a billion dollars worth of business, add a billion to the GDP, and he’s employed no one at all! All money has done is move from one rich guy to another! (And then there’s the finance industry, but I repeat myself.)

            But we seem to, which discussing policy, have some weird delusional idea that we should care about the sum total of all economic activity, aka, the GDP.

            Screw increasing the GDP and ‘economic growth’. Let’s talk about increasing *median income*. I don’t care if it’s via some universal income, or job retraining, or infrastructure repair, or *what*.

            Report

            • My point is that ‘growth’ is not the problem.

              If you want to pay for Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid (etc), growth is a big problem. The alternative to growth is serious entitlement “reform”.

              Which results in *less* employment, not more.

              The Luddite fallacy is the simple observation that new technology does not lead to higher overall unemployment in the economy. New technology doesn’t destroy jobs – it only changes the composition of jobs in the economy.

              This link details exactly what you’re saying… and why you’re wrong.

              http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/6717/economics/the-luddite-fallacy/

              Report