The Origin of Ideology

“As Adams explained it, the French philosophes had invented the word, which became a central part of their utopian style of thinking and a major tenet in their “school of folly.” It referred to a set of ideals and hopes, like human perfection or social equality, that philosophers mistakenly believed could be implemented in the world because it existed in their heads. Jefferson himself thought in this French fashion, Adams claimed, confusing the seductive prospects envisioned in his imagination with the more limited possibilities history permitted. “

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The Futility of a National Conversation

Our founding was a radical effort to apply principles of democracy and liberty over a large geographic area. Before it had applied largely to city-states. As the country expanded we decry the lack of a national consensus which was never meant to exist, and have lost the value of the potential of 50 laboratories, engaged to find the best solutions.

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Health Care is an Economic, not a Political Problem

The health care problem, like so many others, is the result of making an economic problem a political problem. Our elected officials make promises in exchange for votes and power without paying for them. They hide the cost in cross subsidies, mandates, regulation, demonization, and wishful thinking.

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Everything Must Be Easy

“We live in an age when we all too often want our local problems, even our personal problems, to be national problems because we think that the government in Washington is there to solve anything called a “national problem.”

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Anti-Fragile Democracy

The idea of central control of individual freedom is fraught with contradictions and has become our greatest challenge. The Progressive Era is where this came to a head and majoritarian democracy edged priority over individual and minority rights. This battle between Progressive majoritarianism manifested in an activist president and the Constitutional protection of individual rights defines our current political debate.

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Correlation is Still Useful

The problem in political policy is that once a decision is reached, a policy enacted, and a bureaucracy created we get married to the solution and refuse to correct previous analysis and assumptions. Tools that are successful in analyzing are often not so successful in predicting. The problem with government analysis is not their imperfection but their resistance to correction.

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The Need for Ideology

“There’s nothing wrong with partisanship per se, but it’s a problem when the parties view each other as enemies and existential threats. Centrism may seem an obvious solution, but too little ideology can be as dangerous as too much.”

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Jeffersonian End; Non Jeffersonian Means

Irony is almost synonymous with history.  Jefferson feared a large central government, but could not foresee a central government with Jeffersonian values.

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Capitalizing the Great Recession

“The extraordinary postcrash prosperity of the precrash superrich is altogether new in our history. Near-zero interest rates are a godsend to the wealthy, inflating their real estate, stock portfolios, bond portfolios, private equity holdings, and art collections. Middle-class and blue-collar Americans, meanwhile, haven’t made much progress, and many are worse off. Inequality has increased.”

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Rage is Poor Fuel

Trump remains vulnerable and the Democrats are too self absorbed and ill tempered to be able to take advantage of it. Resistance is not enough, and it is becoming progressively weaker.

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The True Cost of Cheap Money

From The City Journal
“Ultralow rates ease the pressure on enterprises to adopt productivity-enhancing innovations, restructure inefficient operations, and dispose of unproductive assets. That’s a major reason that productivity growth has been so poor. Ultralow rates also distort capital allocation.”

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The One and the Few

Adams feared the aristocrats (the elite). Jefferson feared the monarchs.  Each thought the other an existential threat. Evan after the constitution was signed  we were unclear what kind of government we had and what kind we wanted.  We have been trying to complete the job every since.

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Progressive Rationalizations

Modern progressives may reject the racist roots of the minimum wage, but they still adhere to a central power and distrust of constitutional principles. They fail to account for the progress of the conflicting ideologies such as spontaneous orders and markets. They fail to acknowledge that the constitutional distrust of central authority still has merit.

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Immigration Reality Check

The tax cut and the realignment of our tax policy for international business, including the repatriation of overseas earning, is quickly resulting in domestic investment and capital spending. There is also a willingness to support a weaker dollar and impose tariffs on competitive imports, which could stimulate more production short term.  This is a lot of stimulus at once at a time when unemployment is at a record low. This could impede the productivity growth that should be a priority. We need productive immigrants even more.

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Henry’s 12 Rules of Life

Progress is inevitable, pushed by man’s desire to better his condition. We can screw it up in countless and incredibly severe ways, but we progress anyway.  Look how much better off we are today from 1900 despite two world wars and the Great Depression, and thousands of violent conflicts and collapses.

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Character and Policy

The success that the Democrats will have in the midterms, will depend on the face that is associated with their run. The Democrats will be running every candidate against Donald Trump; the Republicans will be running every one of their candidates against Nancy Pelosi.  It may be hard for some to imaging which is more toxic, but Trump is more likely to have economic and policy successes filling his sails. Pelosi is most remembered for the devastating losses she brought her party. She lacks both charisma and policy success.

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The Great Equalizer Surprise

from The Wall Street Journal by Gregory Clark
“As a bizarre consequence of this pattern, African-Americans, who have low levels of net worth on average, are the social group for which inherited wealth represents the largest share of their net worth. Another odd implication is that inheritances tend to make overall wealth-holding more equal. Were inherited wealth to be completely abolished, the wealth of the poor would decline more than that of the rich. Inherited wealth is the great equalizer. Who knew?”

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Leveraging the Free Minds of the World

America’s success is a combination of constitutional liberty, heterogeneous culture that has a healthy disrespect for authority, solid protection of property rights, a respect for the common man and a classless society, and willingness to risk and fail. There are certainly hundreds of other attributes, but the combination is uniquely American.  Government’s function is to foster and protect the elements of our productive society. 

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Theological Supports

“That states should attempt to dispense with theological supports is one of the many crucial experiments that bewilder our brains and unsettle our ways today. Laws which were once presented as the decrees of a god-given king are now frankly the confused commands of fallible men. Education, which was the sacred province of god-inspired priests, becomes the task of men and women shorn of theological robes and awe, and relying on reason and persuasion to civilize young rebels who fear only the policeman and may never learn to reason at all. “

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The FANGs are Old News

Great moves forward, disruptive ground changing innovations do not happen consistently. They do not adhere to a plan or a budget.  The best we can do is create an environment that does not stifle them,  that attracts the bright and the motivated, but we do not know if they come from great tax policies, cultural collusion, ethnic diversity, great education, or just an environment of free thinkers.

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