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Political Priorities

HKO_A

Political issues follow a simple priority.

  1. Security
  2. Economy
  3. Social
  4. Cultural

When our security is threatened we will address that foremost.  If necessary we will raise taxes, incur debt or whatever we need to do to protect out nation. While we need to look ahead to security issues in order to be prepared to address them when they are released upon us, the voters will tend to overlook the cost of weak security until action such as 911 wakes us up from the slumber.

When we feel relatively secure we will focus more on the economy and economic prosperity.  While there may be very different opinions on the means at least the ends will take priority in the voters’ minds.  A strong economy is essential to be able to withstand security shocks, but it will take a major security event to make the economy a less essential political issue.

The social and cultural issues will take a higher priority when we feel secure and prosperous. Gay marriage, voting rights, and precepts of social justice will be more important in the voters mind when the first two become less important.  The great advance in civil rights and feminism happened after WW II and during the economic boom of the 50′s and 60′s.  The Cold War seemed like less of existential threat until our young in Vietnam started coming back in body bags and then Viet Nam was the dominant political issue.

Voters may sacrifice their preference on social issues when security and economic issues are current causes of concern.  Claims of racism, sexism, and the war on women may make great news fodder but I gather than in the real world these issues are far less of a concern.

Women make a majority of college graduates and are well represented in the high paid professions of law, medicine and accounting.  Blacks are represented in the highest levels of government and increasingly in the 1%.  (Oprah, Dr Dre, Tyler Perry)  The problem of race has been supplanted by the problems of the poor and the uneducated regardless of ethnicity.

We should be happy when we are able to focus on social issues, but I would propose that these would be bother less of a perceived problem and more important to the voters if Security and the economy were in better hands.

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Protecting the Entrenched

uber

The government’s protection of the entrenched is most noted by local efforts to ban Uber and the Tesla distribution model.  Of course, like most protectionist legislation, the stated objective is to protect the public, but the end game is to protect the existing companies from the competition of better ideas.

Recently in Louisville I called a cab for a ride to the airport. 45 minutes later a dirty cab- inside and out- driven by a man in his pajamas, still yawning from being called to work from  his deep sleep, arrived.  This is what they are protecting.

For slightly more than the price of a dingy cab, Uber will send me a clean SUV. No cash is exchanged.  The cab industry will have to improve or die.

Tesla is in demand and efforts to thwart their simplified distribution model will not likely be thwarted by efforts to protect their competition,

The younger more tech savvy voter will lean toward the party that refuses to stand in the way of market progress and their choices.

Electronic Car Maker Telsa Reports Quarterly Earnings

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The Slow(er) FIx

kevin williamson

In The National Review Kevin Williamson writes The Thirty Years War

Excerpts:

Unlike senators, governors have to do things — “governor stuff” — which means that they have to make compromises, that they cannot be ideologically pure, and that they have to live in the real world. That leaves them vulnerable to puritanical homilies from senators, as in the ridiculous 2012 Republican primary that found former senator Rick Santorum and businessman Herman Cain, both of whom were far from the levers of power for excellent reasons, preening and posturing as Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, a governor and a former governor who had faced very different challenges, were raked over the coals for having taken reality into account as executives. Romney’s rivals pronounced themselves shocked that Romney had governed as though he were in one of the country’s most left-leaning states, and Perry’s opponents were scandalized that the governor of Texas took into account the large number of illegal immigrants residing there.

I like Senators Paul, Cruz, and Rubio; each has his own virtues and admirable characteristics. But none of them has done one single thing of interest in office other than campaign for president since about five minutes after being sworn into the Senate.

The Democrats did not build the welfare state all at once in 1965, and Republicans didn’t have an honest shot at repealing it all at once in 1995. Everybody has a big plan, and Washington is full of magic bullets: leash the Fed, enact the Fair Tax, seal the borders. But what’s needed — what might actually result in a stronger American order — is a thirty years’ war of attrition against the welfare state and entrenched incompetency. Federal crimes and misdemeanors ranging from the IRS scandal to the fumbling response to Ebola suggest very strongly that we have management and oversight problems as well as ideological ones, but holding oversight hearings long after (one hopes) Ebola is out of domestic headlines provides very little juice for a presidential candidate facing a restive base all hopped up on Hannity. Being the guy who gets up and demands the repeal of Obamacare might get you elected president; being the guy who fixes the damned thing simply makes you a target for talk-radio guys who have never run for nor held an elected office but who will nonetheless micturate upon your efforts from a great height.

HKO

The Democrats may moan about their guy during his term in office, but at election time their strength is in their unity. Republicans have several groups, each with its own litmus test.  They demonize RINOs more than the opposition.  Governess Mitch Daniels lamented the RIMOs- Republicans in Mouth Only, those like Kevin notes here, who would reject a compromise that moves closer to their goal because it never goes far enough at once. It is necessary to ponder the ideal in order to clarify the ends, but the elected politicians must compromise in order to govern.  We did not build this mess in once election and we will not likely fix it with the election of a single loyal ideologue.

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Making Rulers Uncomfortable

obama-biden-facepalm

One of my favorite blog postings this year is The Left is Too Smart to Fail by Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish.  Science is for Stupid People is equally worthy and an excellent companion piece to the first article.

Excerpts:

Science, the magic of the secular age, is their church. But science isn’t anyone’s church. Science is much better at disproving things than at proving them. It’s a useful tool for skeptics, but a dangerous tool for rulers. Like art, science is inherently subversive and like art, when it’s restricted and controlled, it stops being interesting. 

But manufactured intelligence has the same relationship to intelligence as a painting of the ocean does to the real thing.

The real ocean is complicated and messy. So is real intelligence. Manufactured intelligence is the fashion model playing a genius in a movie. Real intelligence is an awkward man obsessing over a handful of ideas, some of them ridiculously wrong, but one of which will change the world.

Real intelligence isn’t marketable because it doesn’t make an elite feel good about its power.

Biblical fake prophets were often preferred to real prophets because they made rulers feel comfortable about the future. The modern technoprophet assures a secular elite that it can effectively control people and that it even has the obligation to do so. It tells them that “science” is on their side.The easy way to tell real religion from fake religion is that real religion doesn’t make you feel good. It doesn’t assure you that everything you’re doing is right and that you ought to keep on doing it.

The same holds true for science. Real science doesn’t make you feel smart. Fake science does.

No matter how smart you think you are, real science will make you feel stupid far more often than it will make you feel smart. Real science not only tells us how much more we don’t know than we know, a state of affairs that will continue for all of human history, but it tells us how fragile the knowledge that we have gained is, how prone we are to making childish mistakes and allowing our biases to think for us.

Science is a rigorous way of making fewer mistakes. It’s not very useful to people who already know everything. Science is for stupid people who know how much they don’t know.

A look back at the march of science doesn’t show an even line of progress led by smooth-talking popularizers who are never wrong. Instead the cabinets of science are full of oddballs, unqualified, jealous, obsessed and eccentric, whose pivotal discoveries sometimes came about by accident. Science, like so much of human accomplishment, often depended on lucky accidents to provide a result that could then be isolated and systematized into a useful understanding of the process.

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The Impact of Government Distrust

From Jeff Carter at Points and Figures, Ebola Helping the Market Break

Excerpt:

ISIS is on the march trying to erect a Muslim caliphate.  Putin is taking back the Soviet empire, brick by brick and biding his time.  Obama’s White House has had scandal after scandal.  Crony capitalism will do that for you.  Our southern border is more porous than usual.   Meanwhile, Obama is disengaged, and doesn’t have the will to crush opposition because he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism.  The American media, try as they might, cannot sweep it all under the rug because the wave of bad news on virtually every front is overwhelming like a tsunami.

Except, the market has known the above facts for a while.  The only new fly in the ointment is the spread of Ebola out of west Africa and onto the US continent.   Where it stops no one knows.  But the American governmental bureaucracy is unable to function to do anything about it.  More spending isn’t going to make it function any better.

I believe that general lack of confidence in the American bureaucracy (not Congress) to do anything worthwhile has also seeped into the market.  If we were confident, we wouldn’t be that worried about things like Ebola.  Butwe know that the government bureaucracy, processes, paperwork, and shiftlessness cannot do anything to help.  Only people exercising individual liberty and critical thought can save us now.

Government doesn’t always do what’s best for you. It does what’s best for government. The Ebola scare will continue, and the market will continue to get spooked. As soon as things get under control, the market will stabilize.