Rebel Yid on Twitter Rebel Yid on Facebook
Print This Post Print This Post

Ideas and Outcomes

from David French at National Review, 2016: The Year Liberal Ideas Failed

A president who promised hope and change left most Americans behind. As Obama leaves office, rich Americans are doing just fine. The rest of the country is stagnant. Indeed, the white-working-class death rate is actually rising in the richest nation in the history of the world. Despair is so palpable that people are increasingly taking their own lives through suicide, alcohol, and drugs. A flood of public assistance couldn’t soothe private pain, and increased immigration was the worst medicine for economically struggling communities.

As jihad spread, crime increased, and families stagnated, the Democrats waged culture war. The Obama administration tried to force nuns to facilitate access to abortifacients. It tried to inject the federal government even into the pastor-hiring process. It lawlessly imposed federal transgender mandates on public schools, and it manufactured a fake rape crisis on campus. All of these things pleased its radical academic base. None of these things helped the communities that were hurting the most.

It’s likely true, if sad, that most Americans don’t care about policy. But most Americans do care about outcomes, and ideas have consequences. For Democrats, those consequences include losing control of every branch of government and the vast majority of the states. This year was the year of their failure. Will they change any of their ideas?

Print This Post Print This Post

The Golden Rule of Politics

from Democrats Finally Wake Up to the Dangers of Illiberalism by Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review

Throughout, the Brendan Nyhans of the world will ask, “How could this happen?” And the answer will be elementary: It happened because process was subordinated to partisanship and because ends became mistaken for means. It happened because men are forgetful and myopic and prone to drawing straight lines. It happened because even the best among us are tempted by expedience.

In private we ask, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; in public, “If you would not see your enemies handed untrammeled power, seek it not for your friends.” That so many are skeptical of an incoming president is, by my lights, a good thing. That they are unable to see illiberalism’s continuum and to place his predecessors on it is decidedly less so. This brave new world came into being a long while ago. Only a fool shows up at the changing of the guard and complains about the soldiers’ new uniforms.

Print This Post Print This Post

Radicalism Breeds Radicalism

From Ian Tuttle from National Review, America Needs a Sane Left:

Take all of that (and more) together and there is the distinct sense that the Left’s response to this election is going to be one not of introspection but of finger-pointing. The culprit for its shellacking at every level was not decades of labeling cultural conservatives “racists” and immigration restrictionists “xenophobes” and abortion opponents “misogynists”; it wasn’t the foolish decision to dismiss the white working class not as simply unwinnable but as not worth winning — moral reprobates with backward views; it wasn’t the choice to clear the way for a presidential candidate with longstanding issues of corruption and untrustworthiness; it was “white supremacy” and “sexism” and “fake news.” On Thursday, in a forum at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook blamed his candidate’s loss on FBI director James Comey.

The Left has been relentless in giving to every partisan dispute the moral urgency of warfare. It’s the Left that turned Supreme Court nominations into nasty affairs. It’s the Left that co-opted America’s health-care industry on a party-line vote. It’s the Left that scrapped the filibuster. It’s the Left that forced nuns to purchase contraception. If the Right was willing to countenance a great deal of heterodoxy in 2016, it’s in part because they perceive a Left that has become unconscionably radical.

That is not to say the Right does not have serious problems of its own creation. Trump’s success would not have been possible without a real, and alarming, moral and intellectual vacuity. Opportunism in right-wing media trades on the emotivism of talk-radio listeners eager to have their worst fears about the country confirmed, and ideological zealotry has made the necessary task of compromise more difficult.

But radicalism breeds radicalism, and the Left, in the aftermath of a massive defeat, should recognize that. A Left that ensconces itself in a sanctimonious refusal to consider the world from the perspectives of its detractors is a Left destined to become more politically impotent and nastier. That may work to Republicans’ short-term gain. But a nastier Left means a nastier Right.

Print This Post Print This Post

The Consequences of Jawboning

Jawboning American industries to comply with political wishes has been with us at least as long as Teddy Roosevelt negotiated an end  to the Pennsylvania coal strikes.  John F Kennedy pressured the steel industry to settle a labor strike. Bailouts and tax payer funded bribes to attract and keep industry is used by every state and most nations.  But just as Trump threatens consequences to those who will leave, there are consequences to his method which are beyond his control.

To be fare to the president elect, there are signs that his policy will rely more on carrots than sticks; that his preferred method is to reduce corporate taxes and friction costs and make the American economic environment more desirable for commercial activity.  The incentives and the jawboning to keep and least a portion of the Carrier employee base in Indiana is a clear victory for the workers and clear political victory for Trump.

But it is also an example of Bastiat’s broken window fallacy that should teach us to examine the entire cost and all the consequences of an economic decision.  The rejection of ideology for immediate pragmatic results is a hall mark of progressivism, as is the use of central government power to drive local decision making. If this is only a short term pragmatic solution with an eye to creating an environment more amenable to bottom up economic growth then the harm will be limited.

The use of threats from a central authority, however, can become  a slippery slope.

Kevin Williamson in National Review writes The Economic Stupidity of the Carrier Bailout:

The ethical question is more complicated than the pop-cons let on, too. Our government runs deficits, which means that a federal tax credit of $1 million given to Smith is $1 million in taxes that eventually will have to be paid — by Jones, and Wilson, and Humperdink — with interest. Carrier is a division of United Technologies (the Otis elevator and Pratt & Whitney engines people), which is first and foremost a government contractor, a firm that derives at least a quarter of its revenue from government contracts, and 10 percent of it from Pentagon contracts alone. It is a company that has competitors — competitors who employ Americans and pay taxes, just as Carrier does. These firms and their employees are put at an economic disadvantage by the subsidies paid to Carrier thanks to Trump and Pence. That means that some of these companies probably will be less profitable, and that they will not hire people they otherwise would have hired. But you’ll see no Trump press conference celebrating that. This is a case of Frédéric Bastiat’s problem of the seen vs. the unseen. The benefits are easy to see, all those sympathetic workers in Indiana. The costs are born by sympathetic workers, too, around the country, and by their families and by their neighbors. But those are widely dispersed, so they are harder to see and do not hit with the same dramatic impact.

From Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, An Open Letter to Generalissimo Trump:

How do you anticipate business executives will respond to your bullying threats?  Are you truly so stupid as not to understand that among the results of your intimidation is that fewer firms will open in America?  That fewer businesses here will expand?  That those that do open or expand will use a higher ratio of capital to labor because they fear that the greater the number of workers they employ the more likely they are to be victimized by your arbitrary diktats?  That no matter how much you cut the monetary taxes they pay, the uncertainty and absurdity of your promised autocratic rule drastically raises firms’ costs of starting and growing on U.S. soil?  And that each of these inevitable responses to your imperious fulminations will be slower job and wage growth for Americans?

From the Wall Street Journal Editors, Trump’s Carrier Shakedown:

The company is also betting that Mr. Trump will fulfill his promise for tax and regulatory reform to make U.S. manufacturing more competitive. United Technologies does about 61% of its sales outside the U.S., and it has some $6 billion in cash overseas that would be taxed at a 35% rate if it brought the money home today. Carrier currently pays a 28% effective tax rate, so a tax reform that cut the corporate rate to 20% and only taxed earnings in the country where they are earned would more than make up for the Indianapolis concession.

From The Editors of National Review, The Winners and Losers of the Carrier Deal

We are not very enthusiastic about government-run economic-development programs that rely on industry-specific — or firm-specific — tax breaks, grants, or other concessions. In the long run (and generally in the short run, too), these programs are almost always corrupt in themselves and a source of corruption in others, with the benefits going mainly to politically influential and well-connected companies, whether that means Solyndra during the Obama administration or Carrier in the Trump administration. Inevitably, what happens is this: The government creates a set of incentives to encourage certain kinds of business activity, from “green” energy to manufacturing, and then, after a few years pass, complains mightily that companies are responding to the incentives that the government created. Consider those periodic journalistic spasms over General Electric’s low corporate-tax bill or the criticism that Starbucks encountered for taking advantage of manufacturing credits in its manufacturing operations: Those deductions and carve-outs didn’t happen by accident — they happened exactly the way the Carrier deal is happening.

 

Print This Post Print This Post

Ideology Separates from Political Parties

From National Review’s Kevin Williamson, Progressives Without Power:

Beginning with the nomination of Barry Goldwater and thanks in no small part to the efforts of many men associated with this magazine, the Republican party spent half a century as a highly ideological enterprise. But highly ideological political parties are not the norm in the English-speaking world, especially not in the United States, and the conservative fusion of American libertarianism, social traditionalism, and national-security assertiveness probably is not stable enough to cohere, having now long outlived the Cold War in which it was forged. Trump’s lack of conservative principle is unwelcome, but it points to an ideological looseness that is arguably more normal, a return to the model of party as loose coalition of interest groups.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are becoming more ideological, or at least more openly and self-consciously ideological, as the party’s progressivism becomes more and more a catechism. This has the effect of making the Democratic party less democratic. American progressives have a long and genuine commitment to mass democracy, having supported not only various expansions of the franchise but also many instruments of direct democracy such as the ballot initiative, but they also have a long and genuine commitment to frustrating democracy when it gets in the way of the progressive agenda, which is why they have spent the better part of a century working to politicize the courts, the bureaucracies, and the non-governmental institutions they control in order to ensure they get their way even when they lose at the ballot box. Democrats did not pay much attention when they started suffering losses at the state level, because they were working against federalism and toward a unitary national government controlled from Washington. And they did not fight as hard as they might to recover from their losses in Congress while Barack Obama sat in the White House, obstructing Republican legislative initiatives and attempting to govern through executive fiat — an innovation that the Democrats surely are about to regret in the direst way.

HKO

The unity that seemed to be an advantage the Democrats had over the Republicans, who seemed forever factioned by litmus test conservatives, has blown apart.  That unity was held together by a power that eroded state by state since 2010. The power that held it together is now gone. All it took was one faction to tilt right (white blue collar union voters) and their bubble was burst.