Quotulatiousness

June 24, 2016

The Brexit surprise

Filed under: Britain, Economics, Europe, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:05

I had expected a narrow Remain victory in yesterday’s referendum, but had I been eligible to vote, I’d have voted to Leave. The initial reports I saw certainly made it seem as if Remain had squeaked out a narrow victory, but I was delighted to see my hometown voting convincingly to Leave at over 65%. The revolt of Labour voters probably was the deciding factor in the final result … the Tories had been having trouble for years trying to keep their EU skeptic wing quiet for fear they’d decamp to UKIP, but Labour seemed to have their supporters well in hand. Yet Middlesbrough and many other Labour ridings in the North East were the ones who came out most strongly for Brexit.

David Cameron has announced that he’ll be resigning (as is proper, under the circumstances), so it might be former London mayor Boris Johnson who ends up leading the negotiations with the EU. Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t indicated whether he will also resign over the result, but it would be difficult for him to continue to lead Labour after Labour’s voters came down for the Leave side against their own party’s recommendations. At Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait shared some thoughts:

Re the Jo Cox murder. Many Remainers used this horror to imply that voting Leave was like voting in favour of MPs being murdered. (The Remainers who refrained from using this argument were not so audible.) I surmise that (a) some potential Leavers were persuaded, (b) some potential Leavers were angered and caused to vote Leave having only previously been thinking about it, and (c) quite a few continued to move towards Leave for reasons unrelated to the Jo Cox murder, but in silence. When the Cox murder happened, there was a shift towards Leave taking place. I surmise that this continued to flow, but underground, so to speak. Minds continued to move, but people stopped telling the pollsters. But, they’ve told them now.

[…]

Next, I refer honorable readers to these graphs (which I also wrote about in this posting here). These graphs say: (1) that when the government takes charge of something the immediate effects are often quite good, but in the long run less good, and then bad, and then very bad; and (2) that a piece of market liberalisation has the opposite effect, disruptive and unsettling at first, but then better, and in the long run unimaginably better. This explains why people so often vote for the government arrangement, against their long-term interests. Voters often have a short-term problem and are begging for a short-term fix. But these “Alpha Graphs” also explain something else, which is that when voters think that they are choosing between (1) bad now and bad in the future, or (2) bad now and better in the future, they are capable of voting in their long-term interest because long-term interest is all that there is on offer. Once governmentalism, so to speak, gets towards the far end of its graph and things are getting worse, really quite fast, and will go on getting worse no matter what, the decision changes radically. The only question is: Will the bad news ever stop? All of this now seems relevant to the Referendum debate. “Europe” was, for many, bad and getting worse. Brexit will also be bad, but eventually, better. If you think those two things, Brexit wins. And Brexit did win, with the people in a terminally bad way voting for it most heavily, and the people, like these people, who are now getting by or better voting for Remain, because they have something or a lot to lose.

It was assumed by Remainers that every time another London and/or Global Grandee came out for Remain, that helped the Remain cause. But for many, the unhappiness of such persons about the idea of Leave was a Leave feature rather than a Leave bug.

Speaking of London grandees, Eddie Izzard, dressed like a loon on Question Time, did not, I surmise, help the Remain cause. I mean, he really didn’t help. Imagine (as lucky old libertarian me living comfortably in London only can imagine) being staunch Labour but long-term unemployed, in Wigan or some such place. And you see on your TV some London Labour-Luvvie comedian, cross-dressed like a cross between Margaret Thatcher, Victoria Wood and Benny Hill, arguing for Remain. You’d vote Leave just to shove a stick up this thoughtless, frivolous, openly-contemptuous-of-everything-you-believe-in idiot’s arse, no matter how much more unemployed it might make you. (See above about not having anything to lose. If you have nothing left to lose, or if you merely feel this, punitive voting becomes one of your few remaining pleasures. (More Izzard related ruminations by me here.))

Tim Worstall on the economic implications of Brexit now that it’s a reality:

As to the longer term economic impact there’s all sorts of dire predictions of imminent recession. And this really just doesn’t ring true. The last time sterling fell like this, in 1993, it set off Britain’s longest ever peacetime economic boom. A lower exchange rate is generally taken to be stimulatory to an economy. Sure, there’s something called the J-Curve which means that it might not be immediately so (the idea being that it takes time for people to change their trade habits, meaning that higher import prices and lower export ones might take 18 months to work through into the real economy) but it really is the standard economic position that a decline in the exchange rate boosts the domestic economy. That’s why the IMF always recommends it for economies in trouble.

That is, the very thing that people are worrying about, a Brexit induced recession, is dealt with by the very thing that people are worrying about, a decline in the sterling exchange rate. These markets things do in fact work.

As to what happens in the near future in proper economic terms the answer is, well, nothing. Since the last revision of the European Treaty there is a procedure laid out for how a country leaves the EU. And it is that everything remains exactly as it was yesterday for the two years it takes to negotiate what will happen next. The only thing that will be influencing things is uncertainty about how those negotiations will pan out. That uncertainty being something which, again, is rather well dealt with by this current fall in sterling. Make investing in British assets cheap enough and people will continue to do it.

And to that long term. I think the long term effects are going to be, as long as we follow sensible economic policies post-Brexit, beneficial to the UK economy. Partly on the Patrick Minford grounds, that leaving the EU allows us to take that one sensible trade stance, unilateral free trade, which being in the EU prevents us from taking. But more than that I am absolutely convinced that the generally slow growth of the advanced economies is nothing to do with Larry Summers’ secular stagnation. Nothing to do with inadequate demand, with slow technological growth, not Robert Gordon’s analysis. Rather, it is the accretion of regulation of the economy that is responsible. And leaving the EU means that Britain can free itself from much to all of that – if it so desires of course.

This does not mean getting rid of the welfare state, doesn’t mean some laissez faire capitalism red in tooth and claw. Just very much less paper pushing and the asking of bureaucratic permission to do things. Just rather more of that Uber idea, move fast and break things. If you prefer, economic growth depends not so much on people innovating but there being space not controlled by the previous rules for people to innovate into. And recreating that space is something that Brexit will allow us to do.

June 23, 2016

A rather personal view of Brexit versus Bremain

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

A random tweet appeared:

Having read the article, I rather have to agree:

I suppose there are such things as amicable divorces. Mine wasn’t. Like the First World War, it was fought for more than four years, and ended with the Treaty of Versailles (by which I mean that it imposed territorial losses and the payment of annual reparations for a very long time).

Which brings me to Brexit, the ultimate divorce. Leave aside the arguments based on economics. Leave aside history, too. Instead, permit me to get personal. You want to get a divorce from Europe? Very well, let me explain what divorce is like.

[…]

Unlike a scorned soon-to-be-ex-wife, Schäuble’s motive is not to make Britain suffer for the sake of revenge. His main motive is not even to help David Cameron avert Brexit. Schäuble wants to deter others – he specifically mentioned the Dutch – from contemplating a similar referendum (anyone for Duxit?). And with good reason. A Pew poll published a couple of weeks ago revealed that Britons do not in fact have the most negative view of Brussels. Whereas the EU gets a ‘favourable’ rating from 44 per cent of British voters, for France the share is 38 per cent. For Greece the figure is 27 per cent. And before you confidently assure me that Schäuble is bluffing, remember that the last people who thought that before a referendum were… the Greeks.

So you are voting for a divorce, my pro-Brexit friends. And, like most divorces, it’s going to take much longer than you think and cost much more. That nice yacht you were daydreaming about? Sorry, your money is going on alimony and lawyers’ bills, just as the money Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have promised to spend on the NHS and cuts in VAT will be swallowed up by the post-Brexit recession and negotiation nightmare.

Yet this is not just about time and money. For divorce has other unintended consequences. Yes, you’re fixated on all that is wrong with your spouse. But other people are inevitably involved in any divorce: children mainly, but also parents, siblings and friends. It’s the same with this referendum. If England votes Leave but Scotland votes Remain, you surely know happens next – to say nothing of Northern Ireland and Wales. I have friends whose kids didn’t speak to them for years after their divorce. A decree nisi can turn your family into Yugoslavia. How amicable would the breakup of Britain be?

‘The reason divorce is so expensive,’ a twice-married American once said to me, ‘is because it’s really worth it.’ Well, maybe. Maybe England really will be happier without the EU, not forgetting the UK. But how many divorcees have a clue at the outset what divorce will cost them in time, money and heartache?

June 22, 2016

The art of the “dog whistle”

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Scott Alexander on the horribly anti-semitic dog whistle that cost Ted Cruz the Republican presidential nomination (or something):

Back during the primary, Ted Cruz said he was against “New York values”.

A chump might figure that, being a Texan whose base is in the South and Midwest, he was making the usual condemnation of coastal elites and arugula-eating liberals that every other Republican has made before him, maybe with a special nod to the fact that his two most relevant opponents, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, were both from New York.

But sophisticated people immediately detected this as an “anti-Semitic dog whistle”, eg Cruz’s secret way of saying he hated Jews. Because, you see, there are many Jews in New York. By the clever strategem of using words that had nothing to do with Jews or hatred, he was able to effectively communicate his Jew-hatred to other anti-Semites without anyone else picking up on it.

Except of course the entire media, which seized upon it as a single mass. New York values is coded anti-Semitism. New York values is a classic anti-Semitic slur. New York values is an anti-Semitic comment. New York values is an anti-Semitic code word. New York values gets called out as anti-Semitism. My favorite is this article whose headline claims that Ted Cruz “confirmed” that he meant his New York values comment to refer to Jews; the “confirmation” turned out to be that he referred to Donald Trump as having “chutzpah”. It takes a lot of word-I-am-apparently-not-allowed-to-say to frame that as a “confirmation”.

Meanwhile, back in Realityville (population: 6), Ted Cruz was attending synagogue services at his campaign tour, talking about his deep love and respect for Judaism, and getting described as “a hero” in many parts of the Orthodox Jewish community” for his stance that “if you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you.”

But he once said “New York values”, so clearly all of this was just really really deep cover for his anti-Semitism.

June 21, 2016

Brexit versus Bremain – The scoldening

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At Samizdata, Johnathan Pearce points out that there can be a powerful, irrational reaction to the person making the case rather than the case itself:

I cannot help but think that the very fact of Remainers often being the likes of the IMF, or Very Grand Economists, etc, is like the sensation for many of chalk scratching down a blackboard (I am giving my age away). When a EU Commissioner like Juncker attacks Brexiters, you can imagine how well, or badly, this goes down. And on the some of the interactions I have had on Facebook, much the same effect applies. I have been told, for instance, that the UK electorate has no excuse for whining about the undemocratic nature of the EU because British voters, by and large, don’t vote for MEPs and that the EU Parliament is chosen via proportional representation and therefore a fine and worthy body, and stop whining. The fact that MEPs cannot initiate, or repeal, legislation of any serious nature is ignored (MEPs do have blocking powers). And there have been a few outpourings of rage from a few of my acquaintances that a referendum is happening at all. What such folk don’t seem to realise is that such attitudes only make those of a EUsceptic strain even more annoyed, and more likely to vote Leave out of a “that’ll show you arrogant bastards” tone. In much the same that however logical a position of Mrs Thatcher in her heyday might have been, people, given the cussedness of human nature, disagreed.

The tone does matter, in other words. And although some of the vibe coming out of the Leave side is unsavory and foolish, the Remain side’s collective impersonation of 18th Century French aristocrats (just before the Bastille fell) is, in my view, even worse. It should not always matter, but it does.

The funny thing about Italy’s recent municipal elections

Filed under: Europe, Government, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

David Warren finds the Italian municipal election scene to be suddenly fascinating:

Curiosity kilted the cat, or however that saying goes: I have been reading too much news again, and must cut back. This morning’s excuse was curiosity over the results of municipal elections in Italy.

It seems they went well. The progressive types were turned out of office all over, and the country’s Five Star Party, founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo a few years ago, has won 19 of the 20 cities in which its candidate stood for mayor. Starting with Virginia Raggi in Rome, many of these mayors-elect could pass for fashion models. She, for instance, will try to improve upon a record that has “Left” the city indebted to more than twice its annual revenues, and its officials enthralled to organized gangsters.

Naples was the only exception, where a mayor already deeply loathed by the Left (a tireless public prosecutor) won re-election by a landslide.

The idea of electing comedians and comedy teams to office seems very attractive to the Italian national character. I have praised them for this before. It shows a maturity of understanding rare in the annals of modern democracy. Given the omnipresence today of po-faced progressive parties, the alternative cannot be po-faced “conservatives,” whom the po-faced Leftist media will methodically smear and slander, as for instance in Canada and USA. They accept that verdict, and agree to lose. Rather one needs people with a sense of humour and no political past. I suppose this is the argument for Trump; though I would argue that he takes himself quite seriously, and doesn’t see the joke at all.

June 11, 2016

The fear of Il Donalduce

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Lots of Americans are suddenly discovering that over the years, they’ve granted a heck of a lot of power to the executive branch that constitutionally were not supposed to be granted to the president. That probably seemed okay when the president was someone they supported, but every four to eight years there’s a gasp of realization that the powers that you thought would only be used “for good” might now fall into the hands of the Anti-Christ/Hitler/Stalin/[insert-favourite-boogeyman]. At Status 451, Simon Penner explains why, when you strike at the King you dare not miss:

As a Canadian, seeing the 2016 election from the outside, people’s reactions to Trump confuse me. Especially as someone who appreciates well-designed systems, I can’t believe people’s gross ignorance of their own nation. People are so afraid of the terrible things Trump will do that protests like this happen. And yet, the vast majority of things people are afraid of are things he can’t do. Was I the only person who paid attention in civics class?

The US was founded as a nation as a response to an uprising against an autocrat. Its founders were horrified at the potential for another such autocrat to arise, and they designed their government accordingly. There was to be a strict separation of powers, with mutually opposed groups keeping each other in check. Most importantly, the office of the executive was intentionally crippled. The president was supposed to have very little power. The founders thought that mitigating potential bad leaders was more important than empowering potential good leaders.

So if Trump can’t do these bad things, what’s the problem? Well, the theory that the country was based on is solid. But you know what they say: In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is. Perfect, beautiful ideas never survive implementation. In this case, there are no backwards arcs in the state machine.

On paper, Trump can’t do anything too bad. In practice, he can, because previous presidents have set the precedent. People like to make fun of small-c conservatives who want government out of their lives. Libertarians are a favourite scapegoat online, for similar reasons. Every time a president said “we need the power to do X”, a libertarian said “no, we can’t let you do that; your powers are restricted for a reason.” In the case of, say, Obamacare, we looked at the libertarians and said “why do you hate poor people? Why do you want them to die? Can you be so heartless? Can’t you make an exception this one time?” You should have listened to them, in detail. Once a proof of concept is committed to master, it is the new feature. “One” time never is.

Over time, various factions have engaged in special pleading. “We need this superweapon, just this one time. Can’t you see the challenge we’re facing? Are you really going to demand principles when people are suffering?” The same argument turned Rome into a dictatorship, millennia ago. When you shoot your superweapon at the king, you’d best not miss. He can pick it up from your fallen comrades.

“Like the inappropriate application of an antibiotic, the incessant misuse of these terms has created a superbug”

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

ESR linked to this post, saying “Trump is riding a wave of loathing of the sort of people who use accusations of racism and sexism as thought-stoppers. Overuse of that rhetorical weapon was bound to have a cost, and Trump’s seeming invulnerability is part of the cost.”:

Liberals and Leftists, if you don’t want Donald Trump to become the next president of the United States, stop calling him a racist.

Furthermore, stop calling him a sexist and a misogynist, especially if you’re a woman (or anything remotely like a “beta-male”); do not even use words like ableist or transphobic; and, lastly, most definitely do not call him Hitler or even make the comparison. Those phrases, when directed against Trump or the angry conservative machine that is feeding his success as a candidate, are helping – not hurting – his chances in November.

People left, right, and center – but especially on the right – are justifiably sick and tired of being called bigots and having almost everything in social politics reduced to smear campaigns about bigotry. This overbearing assault is the well-intended and ill-conceived product of a fashionable strain of progressivism that has taken it as a holy mission to stamp out bigotry in all its forms in every corner of our society.

The over-application of terms of bigotry as a means of silencing disagreement with a left-bending social orthodoxy has become, shall we say, “problematic.” As a result, words like racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobe, and the rest, have become conservative dog-whistles that mean “honest and brave,” and “willing to speak his mind (without fear).” Like the inappropriate application of an antibiotic, the incessant misuse of these terms has created a superbug.

June 6, 2016

Scott Adams declines the “Goebbels” role and makes an endorsement to secure his personal safety

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Scott Adams has decided that it’s too dangerous to be seen as someone who supports Il Donalduce and scurries for the safety of an endorsement that won’t endanger him personally:

If Clinton successfully pairs Trump with Hitler in your mind – as she is doing – and loses anyway, about a quarter of the country will think it is morally justified to assassinate their own leader. I too would feel that way if an actual Hitler came to power in this country. I would join the resistance and try to take out the Hitler-like leader. You should do the same. No one wants an actual President Hitler.

So I’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, for my personal safety. Trump supporters don’t have any bad feelings about patriotic Americans such as myself, so I’ll be safe from that crowd. But Clinton supporters have convinced me – and here I am being 100% serious – that my safety is at risk if I am seen as supportive of Trump. So I’m taking the safe way out and endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

As I have often said, I have no psychic powers and I don’t know which candidate would be the best president. But I do know which outcome is most likely to get me killed by my fellow citizens. So for safety reason, I’m on team Clinton.

My prediction remains that Trump will win in a landslide based on his superior persuasion skills. But don’t blame me for anything President Trump does in office because I endorse Clinton.

The rest of you are on your own. Good luck.

June 4, 2016

The “zombie” Hillary campaign

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Camille Paglia doesn’t like Hillary Clinton:

It’s zombie time at campaign Hillary. Behold the dead men walking! It was with strangely slow, narcotized numbness that the candidate and her phalanx of minions and mouthpieces responded to last week’s punishing report by the State Department’s Inspector General about her email security lapses. Do they truly believe, in the rosy alternate universe of Hillaryland, that they can lie their way out of this? Of course, they’re relying as usual on the increasingly restive mainstream media to do their dirty work for them. If it were a Republican in the crosshairs, Hillary’s shocking refusal to meet with the Inspector General (who interviewed all four of the other living Secretaries of State of the past two decades) would have been the lead item flagged in screaming headlines from coast to coast. Let’s face it—the genuinely innocent do not do pretzel twists like this to cover their asses.

On the other hand, she’s entertained by the showmanship of the Trump Experience:

Over on the GOP side, Donald Trump continues to gain strength, despite the nonstop artillery barrage of Democratic operatives and their clone army in the mainstream media. Trump just rolls on and on, despite every foot-in-mouth gaffe that would stop a normal campaign cold. He’s terrific on the radio, I must say. Even though I do like Elizabeth Warren (I even believe she has Native American ancestry, although certainly not enough to qualify her for affirmative action), I burst out laughing in my car last week when I heard Trump confidingly say (like a yenta at Zabar’s deli), “She’s a woman that has been very ineffective — except that she has a big mouth.” His New York comic timing was spot on. I laughed out loud again this week when I heard Trump interrupt his press conference to tag an ABC reporter as “a sleaze” — at which I am sure thousands of other radio listeners heartily cheered. It’s been a long time since any major politician had the chutzpah to tell the arrogant, double-dealing East Coast media what most of the country thinks about them.

There’s an absurdist, almost Dadaist quality to Trump’s candidacy, like Groucho Marx satirizing high society swells in A Night at the Opera or the radical Yippies trying to levitate the Pentagon at their 1967 antiwar protest. Trump routinely deploys all the subversive transgressiveness that campus Leftists claim to value. […]

Trump’s boisterous, uncensored id makes a riveting contrast to Hillary’s plodding, joyless superego. Listening to her leaden attempts to tell rehearsed jokes is collective torture. Hillary is not now, nor has she ever been, a member of the Comedy Party. But we’re talking about the presidency here, not an improv club. While I would love to see a Trump-style chief executive say “You’re fired!” to half the parasitic Washington bureaucracy, I have high anxiety about Trump’s shoot-em-up attitude toward international affairs. Exactly how long would it be after a Trump inauguration before the nuke-horned bull would be crashing around the Red China shop?

May 28, 2016

Britain’s (lost?) referendum

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Sean Gabb believes the Brexit side has already lost the yet-to-be-decided referendum on staying or leaving the European Union:

Though we have nearly four weeks yet of campaigning, I find it hard to believe that the European Referendum will end in other than a crushing defeat for the Leave Campaign. For many on our side, this will be the end of their hopes. They have spent twenty five years – sometimes forty – connecting everything bad in this country with membership of the European Union, and pressing for a referendum. They now have their referendum. It will be lost. Age alone will give many of them nowhere to go. Some will pass the rest of their lives complaining that the vote was rigged. Most will drift away into confused silence. My own view is that the Referendum was always a mistaken strategy, and that its loss will bring an end to one of the less valuable chapters in the history of our movement.

The failure of the Leave Campaign can in part be blamed on the personalities involved. They are generally chancers and incompetents. If there is some reason to believe they were bought off in advance, nothing involving Boris Johnson was bound to end other than in defeat. I have always thought him a sinister buffoon. The only reason he became and stayed Mayor of London was that he was running against Ken Livingstone. Even I might have voted for him. Everything else achieved in his life has been the effect of sucking up to the right people. I have barely anything good to say about Michael Gove, and nothing good about Michael Howard or the others whose faces I see in my occasional skim of the BBC website.

In part, though, the failure is structural. The Leave Campaign has no plan for how to leave and what to do afterwards. It has none because none of the many plans on offer has general support. The Remain side can unite round a clear and simple message: we are better off in the European Union. The Leave side is a loose coalition with nothing in common beyond wanting to leave the European Union. Do we repeal the European Communities Act, scrap virtually all the regulations from Brussels and elsewhere, and practise unilateral free trade? Or do we disengage using the treaty mechanism, and then keep most of the regulations? Or do we try for a Keynesian siege economy? There is no agreement. If the Leave Campaign were to speak in details, it would disintegrate. The alternative, of being torn apart by the Remain side, is ruinous though preferable. So long as the campaign remains in being, something might turn up before polling day.

As I don’t follow British politics at the retail level, I know Boris Johnson more from this little parody than from anything he’s actually done:

May 24, 2016

Trump is probably thinking “how hard can it be?” to run a government

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In Monday’s Morning Jolt newsletter, National Review‘s Jim Geraghty overheard Donald Trump Jr.’s breakfast conversation and wrote about what he heard:

We live in a world where congressional Democrats voted to pass Obamacare without reading the full text of the legislation, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee thinks the U.S. has already landed astronauts on Mars, Congressman Hank Johnson fears the island of Guam will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize, Maxine Waters warns that because of spending cuts, “over 170 million jobs could be lost”; Nancy Pelosi asserts that “every month that we don’t have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs,” Harry Reid contended, “Everybody else [besides GOP members of Congress], including rich people, are willing to pay more [in taxes]. They want to pay more,” Republican senator Thad Cochran declared in 2014 that “the Tea Party is something I don’t know a lot about,” and of course, Representative Todd Akin proclaimed, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

There’s no shortage of lawmakers who seek to make sweeping changes to laws, without understanding the basics of the topic at hand. Take Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado:

    To your last question: ‘What’s the efficacy of banning these magazine clips?’ I will tell you, these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now, they’re going to shoot them. So if you ban, if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will be shot and there won’t be any more available.

(DeGette is mixing up clips and ammunition. The magazine is what holds the bullets and is almost always re-used.)

In other words, we’ve had no shortage of high-ranking government officials who have no clue about what they’re talking about, are spectacularly misinformed, dumber than a bag of hammers, are simply crazy, or all of the above.

In light of all this, Trump probably thinks, How hard can it be?  Simply by virtue of not being a moron, Trump feels he is destined to govern better than they do. Indeed, it’s a low bar to clear.

Idiot lawmakers are part of our problem in this country, but our circumstances wouldn’t be significantly improved if we replaced dumb, misinformed progressives with smarter, better-informed progressives. Barack Obama gets the presidential daily briefing every morning, which is presumably chock full of the best information our government can gather about what’s going on in the world, focusing on the most dangerous places and menacing threats. If he doesn’t want to see ISIS rising, no amount of briefings can get him to see ISIS rising.

But the problem with DeGette, and Cuomo, and most of our worst elected officials is that they mix a refusal to learn, acknowledge, or accept new information and a philosophy based upon some shaky-at-best assumptions: that government officials know best, that they will put the public or national interest ahead of their own interests, that the impact of basic forces like supply and demand can be mitigated by regulation, that disarming law-abiding citizens will lead to less crime, not more, and so on.

QotD: The battle of the crony capitalists

Filed under: Government, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I am not sure that many politicians are good on this score, but Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are likely as bad as it gets on crony capitalism. Forget their policy positions, which are steeped in government interventionism in the economy, but just look at their personal careers. Each have a long history of taking advantage of political power to enrich themselves and their business associates. I am not sure what Cruz meant when he said “New York values”, but both Trump and Clinton are steeped in the New York political economy, where one builds a fortune through political connections rather than entrepreneurial vigor. Want to build a new parking lot next to your casino or start up a new energy firm — you don’t bother with private investors or arms length transactions, you go to the government.

Warren Meyer, “2016 Presidential Election: Battle of the Crony Capitalists”, Coyote Blog, 2016-05-13.

May 16, 2016

Maxime Bernier and the race to succeed Harper

Filed under: Cancon, Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

In the Toronto Sun, David Akin looks at Bernier’s campaign to be the next federal Conservative leader:

“I want a freer and more prosperous country,” Bernier said. “And the way to do that is to have a limited government. I’m a real Conservative. I believe in freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect. That’s the four themes of my campaign. Every public policy will be based on these four themes.”

He is convinced that a campaign of ideas will win both his party’s leadership and the prime minister’s office.

But some of those ideas may be a tough sell in some regions.

No more corporate handouts for the likes of Bombardier or General Motors, for example.

And even though his riding has a huge number of dairy, egg and poultry farmers, he vows to end the high tariffs that protect them from foreign competition and force consumers to pay higher food costs.

He will offer to caucus colleagues and to the party’s grassroots a more inclusive style of leadership than Stephen Harper’s.

Riding associations should be free to pick their own candidates, Bernier said, without interference from the leader. And if MPs want to debate issues or introduce legislation that is at odds with the leader, Bernier would be OK with that.

Bernier, like Harper, has no intention, for example, of going anywhere near abortion but if any of the 10 Conservative MPs at the annual anti-abortion rally last week wanted to introduce a private members’ bill on the subject, they would be free to do so and his caucus would be allowed a free vote.

Bernier would personally focus on smaller government.

“Be a strong government, but in your own jurisdiction. When you have a smaller government, you have more freedom; when you have more more freedom, you have more prosperity,” said Bernier.

“I believe in free markets and I think we must speak about what we believe to Canadians with passion and with conviction.”

I’ve been on record as being a fan of Bernier’s since at least 2010, so I have to admit being quite partial to him winning the Tory leadership.

May 13, 2016

Trump’s policies

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Megan McArdle on the pointlessness of trying to analyze any given policy of Donald Trump:

Critiquing Donald Trump’s policy pronouncements for being implausible feels a bit like belittling bathroom graffiti for its weak use of metaphor and inappropriate deployment of the conditional rather than the subjunctive. Sure, you may be technically correct, but you’ve failed to grapple with the essentials of the form. And neither the author nor his audience is likely to take your criticisms to heart.

But what can we pundits do? The man is now the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party. For the next six months, he will be saying things. Much of what he says will be unbearably silly, if not horrifying. These periodic eruptions must be either dealt with or ignored, and neither option seems very appealing.

May 4, 2016

Scott Adams on Clinton’s literal “Woman Card”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Scott Adams has been much more right than wrong in his analysis of Trump’s election campaign so far, and he says that Hillary Clinton’s advisors have badly messed up their latest anti-Trump attack:

Now let’s look at the “woman card” issue. Trump took the risky (but strategically solid) approach of taking the fight to Clinton’s strength – her appeal among women voters and among men who think it is time for a woman to be president. Trump branded her as a sexist who is hiding behind political correctness. It was a strong persuasion play and it put Clinton on the defensive.

Clinton responded by embracing and magnifying the accusation. She said that if fighting to make the world better for women is playing the “woman card” then you can “Deal me in!” The response was quick, clever, and catnip for her base.

You might remember Trump using a similar persuasion trick. Months ago, when Chris Cuomo asked Trump about the criticisms that he was a whiner, Trump embraced the whiner label, then amplified it by saying he was indeed the strongest voice for change. That’s exactly the right response. Clinton made the same play with “Deal me in!” So far, so good.

Then came the image of an actual “woman card” designed to capitalize on Clinton’s successful counterpunch. When something is working, you do more of it. But…maybe you should not do it…this way.

Clinton's Woman Card

Let’s start with the fact that the design features a symbol from a restroom door. Just as the Clinton slogan unintentionally linked LOVE and TRUMP, the restroom symbol literally makes your brain associate Clinton with…a toilet.

You can’t make this up. When you saw that symbol, you thought of a restroom. it is automatic.

But the biggest mistake was putting a magnetic strip on the Woman Card. That makes you think of a credit card. And that makes you think of debt. Or perhaps it makes you think of a transit card that Clinton had trouble using at the subway in New York. All bad.

You might ask yourself why the campaign did not go with a playing card model instead of a credit card. After all, “deal me in” is not typically associated with a magnetic strip.

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