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The Triumph of Faith in the State


from Mona Charen at National Review – Reaganism is Dead

“This is the end of Reaganism,” former Senator Tom Coburn, a conservative hero, told me. The three-legged stool of strong defense, small government, and conservatism on social issues has been smashed. Republicans, or at least a plurality of Republican primary voters, no longer distrust government per se, they simply distrust this government. They dislike Obama and the Republican leadership. But they’re ready to believe that an outsider will be able to bring his annealing touch to the economy, to the culture, and to national greatness. If a Republican politician today were to tell the joke about “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” — a reliable punch line in the Reagan repertoire — he or she would be greeted by incomprehension. This is a signal victory for the Left: The triumph of faith in the state. Trumpites are reprising Obama’s “Yes We Can” with a new lead.

Republican politicians cannot rely on the healthy skepticism about government that was once woven into the fabric of the party. People used to know that bigger government enables more corruption, that the mediating institutions of society such as family, church, and community organizations are better at nearly every task than bureaucracies, and that government undermines these institutions when it expands too much.

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Democracy Overrated

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what is for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed sheep with the same vote.

“Voting is the illusion of influence in exchange for the loss of freedom.” Frank Karsten and Karel Beckman

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false from for the urge to rule.”  H.L. Mencken

“The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, than it is a redistribution of power from the individual to the state.” Bertrand de Jouvenal

“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill

Democracy is supposed to be responsive to what the people want. I am often quite surprised to wake up and read the paper and discover what I wanted.  I had no idea.

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A Universal Theory to Explain Nothing

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbioy at the Guardian

It is rare that I post such articles. I disagree with just about every word and thought, but this was shared on FB by one of my most extremely liberal friends and I found it fascinating just to recognize the thinking of so much of what passes for the left these days.

The author seeks a ‘universal theory to explain everything’. Such attempts use some indisputable truths, filtered by very selective and biased analysis to reach conclusions that defy many fundamental observations.

Life and politics are just far too complicated for such theories to have any value beyond giving a name to a collection of individual intellectual prejudices. Every philosophy is flawed and imperfect.  Ideas,  like economics,  involve trade-offs.

Improvements in our constitutional government and capitalist economy come from recognition and control of human flaws in all spheres.  Such criticism of market economies and demands for government controls seem to omit any thought of these human flaws with political power,

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Klavin Explains the Primaries

quite amusing

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Psychological Friction Costs

USA-Global Fast Food Worker Protest

The current government and activist movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 had me thinking.  What would I do if I owned a business in New York or California and it was such a business that employed low wage workers and such a raise would adversely affect me to a point that it threatened the viability of my concern?

If it was a branch of a large business like a fast food company and I only looked at the numbers and they no longer worked, I would close, absorb my loss, and move on.  If I was a local owner and I had roots there, it would be harder.  If I were either and I was considering an investment requiring such workers, I would pick another state or cancel the plan.

When we speak of government disincentives to starting businesses we commonly limit the reference to taxes and regulations. These are relative easy to quantify and measure. But I prefer the catchphrase ‘friction costs’ because it includes considerations that are much harder to quantify. The likelihood that a local government would  change the rules you assumed to create a profitable business is such a friction cost. The fear of any change in the tax code that undermines your business’s financial assumptions is another, This is not just the tax rates but qualifying deductions and changes in depreciation schedules that rarely garner any media attention. But just the fear of tax rate increases that every politician makes whenever a microphone is nearby and the tone deaf disrespect shown to capital creators when they hear  ”you didn’t build that” is enough to still the willingness to risk.

Business are closing faster than they are starting during a time of record low interest rates. We rarely speak of these friction costs but they often remain even after tax cuts and positive changes in regulations.