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Generation Z

from Selena Zito,  Why the generation after millennials will vote Republican

“They are not as impressed with fame — celebrities, athletes, politicians — as are their predecessors, since fame in their lifetime has become rather easy to obtain with social media and reality TV,” Brauer added.

Generation Z is diverse. They are only 55 percent white and will be the last majority-white generation in America. And they have the most positive outlook toward the nation’s growing diversity of any previous generation.

Generation Z is a product of 9/11, global terrorism, school shootings, perpetual wars, the Great Recession, high unemployment and constant budget cuts. Because of all that, they are cautious, even fearful, of an uncertain world and economy. Security and safety are very important to them, as they have grown up in such an unstable society.

They are distrustful of “big” employers because they’ve seen good people, who did all the right things, get laid off from longstanding jobs and careers. They are cautious with finances, always looking for the best deals and the best value.

HKO

Selena Zito’s analytic creds are rising with me.  Interesting trend in youth voting… and they like Trump.

Competition Trumps Meritocracy

From The Washington Post Ana Swanson writes Why The Industrial Revolutions didn’t happen in China

The article is mostly an interview with Joel Mokyr about his new book , A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy.  It appears to travel on similar ideas expressed by Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Equality and she referred to his work in her own.

Of interest is the notice of the liability of the meritocracy as why China lagged in economic growth in spite of its scientific achievements.:

I believe the fundamental reason is China’s position as a single empire, and also its bureaucracy, which is a unique and peculiar animal. On the one hand, it is very progressive, because it is a meritocracy. In Europe, the people who were in power were the sons and nephews of other people in power. But in China there’s an examination, and the people who did the best rose in the Mandarin civil service. So you’d think, “Wow, that’s very progressive.” Except if you look at what they were studying for these exams, they were simply regurgitating the classics. It was the perfect tool to keep reproducing from the same mold generation after generation.

HKO

We face a similar false sense of diversity of we choose leaders from different ethnic backgrounds but with no intellectual diversity. Progress is made in the garages of Steve Jobs more than in the Ivy League class rooms.

 

Deserting Our Better Nature

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from Kevin Williamson at the National Review, Bitter Laughter

A nation needs its Twains and Menckens. (We could have got by without Molly Ivins.) The excrement and sentimentality piles up high and thick in a democratic society, and it’s sometimes easier to burn it away rather than try to shovel it. But they are only counterpoints: They cannot be the leading voice, or the dominant spirit of the age. That is because this is a republic, and in a republic, a politics based on one half of the population hating the other half is a politics that loses even if it wins. The same holds true for one that relies on half of us seeing the other half as useless, wicked, moronic, deluded, or “prehensile morons.” (I know, I know, and you can save your keystrokes: I myself am not running for office.) If you happen to be Mark Twain, that sort of thing is good for a laugh, and maybe for more than a laugh. But it isn’t enough. “We must not be enemies,” President Lincoln declared, and he saw the republic through a good deal worse than weak GDP growth and the sack of a Libyan consulate.

The better angels of our nature have not deserted us. It is closer to the truth that we have failed them, and the impossible situation of 2016 — a choice between two kinds of corrupt, self-serving megalomaniacs — is only the lesion that denotes a deeper infection. There is no national vice-principal’s office or confessional into which we can drag ourselves and shame-facedly admit that we messed up, say that we’re very sorry, and promise to do better next time. But we must nonetheless admit that we messed up, say that we’re very sorry, and promise to do better next time. And there will be a next time, irrespective of the hysterical ninnies who insist that if this election does not go their way, then this is the end of the nation.

HKO

I have quoted Kevin Williamson so often in this blog that it risks becoming a fan club.  Still, he brings an intelligence and a perspective (and wit) that is uncommon.  The National Review has a great stable of writers and commentators and is a must read regularly.

 

Suppressing the Oddballs

from Mark Judge in The National Review, Is Contemporary Liberalism Creating a Soulless Monoculture?

Legutko’s thesis is that liberal democracies have something in common with communism: the sense that time is inexorably moving towards a kind of human utopia, and that progressive bureaucrats must make sure it succeeds. Legutko first observed this after the fall of communism. Thinking that communist bureaucrats would have difficulty adjusting to Western democracy, he was surprised when the former Marxists smoothly adapted — indeed, thrived — in a system of liberal democracy. It was the hard-core anti-communists who couldn’t quite fit into the new system. They were unable to untether themselves from their faith, culture, and traditions.

Both communism and liberal democracy call for people to become New Men by jettisoning their old faith, customs, arts, literature, and traditions. Thus a Polish anti-communist goes from being told by communists that he has to abandon his old concepts of faith and family to become a member of the larger State, only to come to America after the fall of the Berlin Wall and be told he has to forego those same beliefs for the sake of the sexual revolution and the bureaucratic welfare state. Both systems believe that societies are moving towards a certain ideal state, and to stand against that is to violate not just the law but human happiness itself.

Thus in America came the monochromatic washing of a country that once could boast not only crazies like Scientologists and Louis Farrakhan, but creative and unusual icons like Norman Mailer, Georgia O’Keefe, Baptists, Hindus, dry counties, John Courtney Murray, Christian bakers, orthodox Jews, accents, and punk rockers. The eccentric and the oddball, as well as the truly great, are increasingly less able to thrive. As Legutko observes, we have a monoculture filled with people whose “loutish manners and coarse language did not have their origin in communism, but, as many found astonishing, in the patterns, or rather anti-patterns that developed in Western liberal democracies.” The revolution didn’t devour its children; progressive-minded bureaucrats did.

The New Robber Barons

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From Joel Kotkin at New Geography, TODAY’S TECH OLIGARCHS ARE WORSE THAN THE ROBBER BARONS

Now from San Francisco to Washington and Brussels, the tech oligarchs are something less attractive: a fearsome threat whose ambitions to control our future politics, media, and commerce seem without limits. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Uber may be improving our lives in many ways, but they also are disrupting old industries—and the lives of the many thousands of people employed by them. And as the tech boom has expanded, these individuals and companies have gathered economic resources to match their ambitions.

And as their fortunes have ballooned, so has their hubris. They see themselves as somehow better than the scum of Wall Street or the trolls in Houston or Detroit. It’s their intelligence, not just their money, that makes them the proper global rulers. In their contempt for the less cognitively gifted, they are waging what The Atlantic recently called “a war on stupid people.”

I had friends of mine who attended MIT back in the 1970s  tell me they used to call themselves “tools,” which told us us something about how they regarded themselves and were regarded. Technologists were clearly bright people whom others used to solve problems or make money. Divorced from any mystical value, their technical innovations, in the words of the French sociologist Marcel Mauss, constituted “a traditional action made effective.” Their skills could be applied to agriculture, metallurgy, commerce, and energy.

In recent years, like Skynet in the Terminator, the tools have achieved consciousness, imbuing themselves with something of a society-altering mission.

HKO

Joel confuses two issues but both are worth highlighting.

The first point is the political power that these new Robber Barons have acquired and use.  Like the Robber Barons of a century ago they acquired political power through the rapid accumulation of massive wealth.  I would add that they acquired this wealth at a very early age which gives them powered untempered by either wisdom or humility.

Unlike the Barons from the previous era they have acquired control of vast networks of individuals (Google, Facebook) with the ability to influence in ways that traditional media and political power brokers could not.  As more and more people get their information from these social networks and each other this has become a unique power that we are only now coming to grips with. In one way they challenge the old media monopolies; and in another way they create new powers to influence.

The second point Kotkin makes is that their new enterprises contribute far less to the increase in overall economic productivity than prior industrial titans did. This reinforces arguments from the left that economic activity and increases in production suffers from structural changes and not the effects of regulatory and political policy that increases friction costs and stifles innovation.  But should we blame the lack in increase in growth and productivity on one sector on the success of another sector?

The problems created by monetary and policy management failures are not the fault of the success of Google and Facebook. To reach this conclusion is to accept zero sum thinking. Perhaps the gains in productivity have simply not YET to be actualized. And perhaps the renewal of growth in the traditional sectors combined with the new technologies of the new sector will stimulate a growth that will dazzle us.