The Biden Rat

I don’t like the crucifixion of poor old Joe Biden (who denied everything today – finally). This, for two unrelated reasons.

First, during the Kavanaugh hearings, I answered firmly the question, “Do women lie?” Yes, some women lie some of the time (as absolutely anyone, male or female, over six well knows.) Do some women lie about sexual harassment? My answer, based on intuition but fed by some experience is also, “Yes.”

I am not changing my mind because it would be convenient to do so. Mr Biden’s accuser deserves to be heard; Mr Biden deserves the civilized presumption of innocence.

Second, and much more importantly, I smell a big rat. I doubt that Republicans would under their own power, resuscitate the charge against Mr Biden because those who live in glass houses…. Rather, I suspect (without proof so far) that there is a concerted effort from the higher ranks of the Dem party to disqualify Mr Biden.

I imagine they have finally understood what a miserable, pathetic candidate Mr Biden is. (For one thing, it’s unthinkable that he could debate Mr Trump on TV.) I think they are engineering a coup, a way to get rid of him, and to replace him at the last minute with someone nobody selected in a primary process. A few names come to mind beginning with Mrs Clinton who is still owed a presidency, somehow.

Or, it was the plan all along and the Dem elite never meant for Mr Biden to be President. Does this sound paranoid? For sure but, do you remember what happened to the Sander candidacy in 2016. Anyone who would have predicted this sort of machination in 2015 would have been called paranoid. I would have joined in.

I am disturbed both by the sheer evilness of what I think is going on, and by the likely noxious consequence for the election. I don’t especially wish for Mr Trump, preoccupied by persecutions with an illegal and an immoral basis (we now know) throughout his administration to be forced to pivot at the last minute and have to face a more vigorous opponent for whom he is not prepared.

Those Republicans who gleefully join in the prosecution/persecution of Mr Biden are not thinking clearly.

Explicando a eleição de Trump para brasileiros

Para qualquer um que acompanhou as notícias pela grande mídia brasileira (leia-se especialmente Globo e Globonews) a eleição de Donald Trump para a presidência dos EUA parece ter sido em primeiro lugar uma surpresa imprevisível e em segundo lugar a maior desgraça que poderia se abater sobre aquele país e o mundo, quando ao mesmo tempo estes perderam a chance de serem agraciados com a primeira mulher presidente dos EUA, a imaculável Hillary Clinton. Para responder a esta avaliação, faço aqui algumas observações a respeito do sistema político e eleitoral dos EUA.

Há basicamente dois partidos políticos nos EUA: Democratas e Republicanos. Diferente de algumas bobagens que vi nos principais canais de notícias, o Partido Democrata não remonta a Thomas Jefferson. Remonta sim a Andrew Jackson, primeiro presidente populista dos EUA e notório assassino de índios. Ao longo do século 19 o Partido Democrata foi o grande defensor da escravidão, e com a abolição desta nefasta instituição tornou-se o grande defensor da segregação. Woodrow Wilson e Franklin Delano Roosevelt, famigerados presidentes democratas, muitas vezes tratados como grandes heróis da democracia, foram grandes expansores do governo federal e enfraquecedores da economia americana. Na década de 1960 o Partido Democrata criou uma versão norte-americana de Welfare State que desde então mais prejudica do que ajuda os mais pobres. Do século 19 ao 21, o Partido Democrata está sempre ao lado dos mais poderosos e contra os mais pobres, não importa se dizem o contrário.

A origem do Partido Republicano é menos antiga. O GOP (grand old party), como é chamado, foi formado pela união de vários movimentos abolicionistas, e seu primeiro presidente foi Abraham Lincoln. Em resposta à eleição de Lincoln, estados escravistas do sul dos EUA romperam com a União, dando início à Guerra Civil. Embora a história do GOP esteja cheia de controvérsias, o fato é que ao longo do tempo este partido foi mais inclinado ao livre mercado, defensor mais forte dos direitos individuais e menos populista do que seu adversário Democrata.

Para além dos partidos, a população dos EUA se divide basicamente em duas correntes políticas: liberais e conservadores. Diferente do que ocorre no Brasil ou na Europa, o termo liberal é utilizado nos EUA para indivíduos de esquerda. O termo liberal passou por uma mudança na virada do século 19 para o 20, sendo adotado por indivíduos do movimento progressivista (notoriamente o já citado presidente Woodrow Wilson), que defendia a expansão dos poderes do estado e menor liberdade de mercado. Eventualmente o termo liberal tornou-se associado aos Democratas.

Conservadores nos EUA são as pessoas que querem conservar o país como este foi fundado no final do século 18. Conservadores são mais constitucionalistas do que os liberais, defendem um governo mais limitado e maior liberdade de mercado. Em outras palavras, conservadores são liberais clássicos, enquanto que liberais deturparam este termo, quando deveriam se chamar de progressivistas (embora seja altamente questionável se sua posição promove algum progresso). Eventualmente conservadores também se tornou um termo ligado a cristãos, embora esta ligação seja menos necessária do que possa parecer. Conservadores estão particularmente ligados ao Partido Republicano.

Evidentemente é impossível que a população de um país grande como os EUA se encaixe perfeitamente em somente dois partidos políticos ou duas tendências ideológicas. Os liberais em geral defendem liberdades sociais (como legalização das drogas e união civil de homossexuais), mas são contra liberdades econômicas (como contratos livres entre trabalhadores e empregados). Conservadores são contra liberdades sociais e favoráveis a liberdades econômicas. Pessoas favoráveis aos dois tipos de liberdade sentem-se pouco representadas nos dois principais partidos, e, embora em geral optem pelo GOP, também tem como opção o Partido Libertário ou o movimento Tea Party (não um partido político formal, mas sim um movimento de protesto contra o crescimento do estado, em favor do retorno aos parâmetros constitucionais). Há também socialistas, ambientalistas, comunistas, e todo o tipo de tendência política nos EUA. O fato é apenas que somente dois partidos possuem uma representatividade nacional.

O fato de que os EUA possuiriam somente dois partidos políticos expressivos foi previsto bastante cedo por James Madison, um dos Pais Fundadores e principal autor da Constituição. No final do século 18, Madison previu que devido ao tamanho do país (ainda pequeno se comparado com as dimensões atuais) e sua diversidade, um partido de projeção nacional precisaria evitar extremismos e se focar em posições moderadas, que pudessem atender à população como um todo. Foi o que aconteceu. Ao longo de toda a sua história os EUA tiveram um sistema bipartidário, variando apenas os partidos que compõem este sistema. Republicanos e Democratas tem sido estes dois partidos desde meados do século 19.

Na primeira metade do século 19 outros partidos compuseram o sistema bipartidário previsto por Madison. Mudanças variadas levaram partidos antigos a perder relevância e serem substituídos por novos. É possível que o mesmo fosse ocorrer com Democratas e Republicanos, mas mudanças na lei eleitoral realizadas especialmente na década de 1970 tornaram mais difícil a entrada de competidores nas eleições. Estas mudanças são em parte responsáveis pela animosidade de grande parte do eleitorado, que não se sente representado por nenhum dos partidos, e consequentemente não se importa em votar. Este quadro é um alerta para pessoas que defendem uma genérica reforma política no Brasil, particularmente uma que limite a entrada de novos partidos.

Há em geral uma grande distância entre o que políticos falam em uma campanha e o que fazem uma vez nos cargos. Isto é particularmente verdade a respeito de Hillary Clinton. Graças à sua vasta experiência em cargos públicos, podemos dizer com segurança que Clinton é uma política profissional que busca angariar votos com argumentos que não necessariamente irão guiar suas ações uma vez no cargo. Trump é um político novato, e assim esta mesma avaliação torna-se impossível de fazer, mas há a impressão de que sua campanha foi conduzida como um dos reality shows de que ele fazia parte anos atrás: trata-se de uma realidade produzida com o objetivo de alcançar audiência, não de realidade real. É bastante provável que Trump presidente seja bem mais moderado do que Trump candidato, para o bem ou para o mal. Simpatizantes de Hillary podem se impressionar, assim como eleitores de Trump podem se sentir traídos.

 

Another Race Riot

Note: This is written for my overseas readers mainly. If you live in the US, you will probably find that you already know most of what I am writing about.

A couple of days ago, a police officer shot to death a black man in full daylight in Charlotte, North Carolina, very much the Old South, former home of abject slavery.

This is happening in the last months of the second administration of the first black American president, after more than seven years of his being in charge. “Being in charge” is an exaggeration of sorts though. The President of the United States exercises no constitutional authority over local police forces (or state police forces). His federal Department of Justice only has jurisdiction when a violation of civil rights is at stake and only over that specific putative violation. Homicide is not in itself a civil rights violation. It’s true that Pres. Obama cannot pick up the phone and tell the Charlotte police what to do or how. Yet, Mr Obama is responsible to some extent although indirectly for the violence, an idea I will develop below.

Cop kills black man: familiar story, right?

I forgot to give you important information. The police officer who did the shooting is black and a woman. She answers to a black police chief. He is squarely in charge of training officers and making rules for their behavior, including their use of firearms. The Chief of Police is appointed and answers to the mayor of Charlotte. The mayor is a white woman and a prominent Democrat. She is assisted by a city council of eleven, four or whom are black. As far as I can tell, there are zero, or one, or two Republican city councilors. The rest are Democrats.

The police says the victim had a gun. His family says in was sitting in his car reading a book while waiting for his child to come out of school. Disturbingly different stories, for sure.

There have been three nights or protests in Charlotte, that quickly became riots, with demonstrators throwing heavy objects at police officers and much destruction of property. One demonstrator was shot, apparently not by a police officer. And, of course, there was much looting of stores. It’s nearly always like this: One young black man dies, fifteen young black men acquire brand new mountain bikes.

Watching the riots on TV, I notice something that television channels and printed press journalist don’t comment on: Some of the most aggressive rioters are young white men who seem to me to know what they are doing and who are not distracted by broken store windows. I should use the word cautiously but they seem to me almost professional in their approach to rioting. The white young rioters are not mentioned I think because they cannot be fitted in the prevailing liberal narrative: It’s a race riot, it’s a demonstration against racial injustice by black people who have just had enough. How about the young white guys? Irrelevant, they are just lovers of justice who happen to be there. Yet, I can’t claim that I recognize any of them on TV but there are young white men just like them in every race riot I have watched in the past two years. If they are absent the first day, they are plainly present the second day and the next few days.

The show on my TV looks a bit like a movie because it’s not well connected to reality, the reality that everyone knows: On the whole, young black men don’t die because cops shoot them, they die because other young black men kill them. They also kill the occasional child and lately, even a young mother pushing her baby carriage. The percentage of violent deaths of black men at police hands that are legally unjustified, must be minuscule. No one in Chicago demonstrates against this continuing mass killing by African-Americans. I think blacks and whites alike don’t because it would contradict the main, tired old liberal narrative: Injustice and racial oppression are the source of all evils in American society.

Young black men kill one another in gang wars for turf (for possession of a piece of ground.) The turf, the ground, is an important asset in the retail sale of illegal drugs. I would be curious of what would happen if Congress decriminalized all drug sales to adults and if a rational president signed the bill into law. I would bet that young black men’s death rate would plummet by 90% in a few weeks. I have no explanation as to why this is not done. It’s not as if the 40-year old so-called “War on Drugs” were working in reducing drug use!

After seven+ years of Obama, the economic gap between whites and blacks – however you measure it – has increased. African-Americans are worse off in relative terms than they were under Pres. Bush. This is no surprise to me. It’s a Democratic administration. The worst place for a black man to live in America is in Democratic-ruled big cities. It begins with Chicago, a Democratic city for 85 years. And then, there is Detroit, a war zone with no war. All this being said, we must not forget that most African-Americans lead lives that are both normal and peaceful, in crying contradiction to the narrative of continued racial oppression. There is a large minority of young black men however who have never had a job, who don’t look for one, who may have never known a person with a job except teachers and cops.

Democratic politicians have been promising salvation in the form of “social programs” paid for by those who do work. They have done so for fifty years. They have not implemented them, or the programs have done little good, or even worse. It’s time for a revolutionary new idea, one that’s very old, in fact. When there is rapid economic growth, employers compete for labor, even for the labor of the inexperienced, even for the labor of those usually seen as unemployable. Black Americans in ghettos need the same thing that all Americans need: vigorous and fast economic growth. This may be hard to believe but the United States has few problems that could not be solved by ten years of 3.5% annual GDP growth.

There is no sign of a search for economic development in the Democratic presidential candidate’s program. Donald Trump, by contrast, promises to reduce taxes and to rid business of many regulations. Historically, it’s usually enough to produce growth. Black Americans need less abstract “justice” and more of a fair chance. The left wing of the Democratic Party hates the very idea.

The Wicked Witch

Ordinary, rational Americans are watching with nervous disbelief the unfolding of the Clinton tragedy and low comedy combined. We all think the same thing: “Can’t last. Something is going to stop them. The Democratic Party will come to its senses eventually.” The columnist Peggy Noonan, who often comes up with original and credible analyses, said in last weekend’s issue of the Wall Street Journal that the Clintons are protected by their well-established corruption: Everyone already knows they are corrupt; there is nothing they do that will add measurably to this knowledge. This is an explanation that makes a sort of perverse sense. I dare not subscribe to it completely because it feels self-indulgent; this is a viewpoint few hard-line Republican partisans would dare publicize. It’s too good to be true! It’s too bad to be true!

Hillary Clinton, so far the only Democratic candidate to replace President Obama, is moving on slowly and apparently unperturbed. It matters not that she is a phony, so phony that she can’t even make her hand gestures match her words. She has told numerous lies, some of them transparent. She has lied on matters that could easily be verified, such as landing on a foreign airport under sniper fire. This kind of lie usually indicates mental imbalance; it’s fundamentally different from the ordinary CYA lie. Hillary Clinton failed to come through to protect her own subordinates and their CIA protectors in Libya. Then, she lied, covered up, and minimized the importance of their deaths. She gave constitutional Congressional authority the finger by destroying her email records. Reminder: This is something that never happens to anyone else that you or I know, right? Even the mid-level Obama IRS executive in charge of persecuting Obamanemies, she who took the Fifth Amendment, had the common decency to state that her emails were lost by mistake.

Hillary Clinton has teamed up with her husband in their family foundation to extract money from the most unlikely sources. The foundation pays out about 10% of what takes in. Its main outlays go to reward Clinton friends and facilitators and enablers, and also to help support the couple’s lavish life style. (This, although they don’t get paid a salary by the foundation; they use it it as an expense account.). The latest reports make it sound like the Clintons used Hillary’s term as Secretary of State to bring the US down to the level of your regular banana republic, where lavish gifts buy you influence for anything. “Lavish gifts ” go to the Clinton Foundation but they also include $500,000 speaking fees for Mr Clinton, for example, all in one single motion. I ask, how he can say anything worth half a million dollars when he is not even able to include the adultery and sexual abuses segments of his past?

When I mention”unlikely sources,” I mean, for example, the likes of the Algerian government, an oil and natural gas-ed state plutocracy. You would think that government would have plenty of worthy causes right at home in Algeria where the unemployment rate is “down to” about 10%. There are even better opportunities to spend Algerian oil money right south of the country, in the miserable Sahel countries. Why would it donate munificently to an ex-president’s foundation unless it were also because it was a current Sec. of State’s foundation? When his attention was drawn recently to such unseemly gifts, Mr Clinton’s only response was that there were no proofs, “no evidence.” How low can you get?

I worked out two scenarios about the future of the Clinton candidacy. Both are nightmare scenarios.

First, the upper reaches of the Democratic Party may be allowing things to take their course with Hillary in a sort of passive bait-and-switch. They let her gather attention on their party in the context of the 2016 presidential election and will persuade her to step down in time for a surprise candidate. That candidate is likely to be Elizabeth Warren. After all, she is a woman too; she is a Senator; she does not carry much baggage. The only significant piece of luggage is her identifying herself as American Indian, 1/16th or was it 1/32th? Democrat voters will easily forgive this whether it’s true or not because that was said to help her obtain an academic job she deserved anyway and that she might have been denied otherwise because she is a woman. Still with me? Besides, self-serving lies that are hard to contradict do not indicate mental imbalance, like an untruth about landing under sniper fire does, for example. Moreover, Ms Warren, unlike Ms Clinton, is a genuine leftist, not a pure opportunist. Besides, some centrist voters might be so relieved to be spared the walking Clinton debacle that they might become blind to Ms Warren’s small pimples. Nothing to lose there.

The second scenario implies that Democrat strategists know something ordinary, politically conscious people like me don’t know. It may just be that they are making the bet that nothing disgusting anyone will bring up or discuss will do any harm to Ms Clinton’s candidacy for president. Just take for granted a union vote of 80% for any Democratic presidential candidate, of 90% for African-Americans (98% for black union members), 65% for Latinos promised a quick path to citizenship for illegals (whom they think – wrongly – are mostly theirs). (All figures made up but entirely realistic.) Then, think of the millions of female voters, and potential female voters who rarely or never vote, who take no interest in politics, who don’t know anything except that the candidate is a woman. How unlikely is it that such people can be made to vote this one time? With the frame of mind I am imagining, it’s even probable that any attack on Ms Clinton, no matter how justified, even direct, open sale of favors will be viewed as bullying, as ganging up on the girl.

Many women, even literate women, actually think that it’s the turn of a woman to be president. The affirmative action fallacy that gave us the Obama presidency may just be about to be repeated.

It may be too late for rational people to do much of anything against the broader fallacy of phony identity politics. It seems to me that they can gnaw at its edge – this time – by tirelessly contradicting the now common false premise that Ms Clinton is well qualified for the job of president. Even ignoring her many failures, she did not achieve anything either as Senator or as Secretary of State, no legislation, no international agreement, no treaty, nothing. Unlike the current president, she was not even good at being elected. She got her Senate seat from the Democratic machine from a safe district where she ran essentially unopposed. Her appointment as Secretary of State was such an obvious debt repayment between Democrat factions that anyone but a Clinton would have been embarrassed.

The pessimist in me nourishes a further nightmare: There will be a time soon when I miss the Obama presidency.

From the Comments: Open Borders and Substantial Increases in GDP

Dr Delacroix gives us a great review of the most recent literature on the relationship between open borders and substantial increases in GDP (50%-150%):

A Long Comment on The Big Thing (open borders)

Thank you, Rick, for causing me to read this very good paper (and thanks to Brandon for making it easily available). I did not find the 150% increase in GDP you promised . That’s OK because it helps me point to one weakness of this paper that should be relevant to any discussion of emigration/immigration focused on policies. The author seems to have been unable to extract from the others articles on which his is based any coherent time dimension. A temporal dimension seems to be lacking. When discussing public policy it ‘s always necessary to consider: “In the short run, in the long run.” An increase of world joint GDP of 150% in fifty years thanks to relaxed immigration seems plausible; the same rise by next year is out of the question, of course.

On several issues, the author comes close to confusing “absence of evidence” with “evidence of absence.” This may be fine for a scholarly article in the discipline of economics. Difficulty to measure or to act upon should not constrain blog discussion however. Five things.

1 “Begin with the country of origin. The departure of some people such as the skilled or talented from a poor country might reduce the productivity of others in that country.”

“might”?

Qualitative differences between those who emigrate and the population of origin may be very large: This is “cream of the crop” vs “bottom of the barrel” issue. This should be obvious with respect to easily measured age and health status for example. The young and stalwart go first. It may be as true with respect to difficult to measure but obviously existing qualities such as the propensity to take economic risks, for example. Thus, I would be surprised if current Mexican illegal immigrants to the US where not economically more desirable immigrants than their own siblings of the same sex who stayed put. I mean more desirable from my viewpoint, someone who is already inside a country of destination. The risks the illegals took to move act like a beneficial sift in this respect, it seems to me.

Periodically African immigrants drown off Lampedusa in the Mediterranean just for a chance to set foot in the EU where medial jobs expect them. They all have close relatives living in the same economic circumstance at home who did not join them.*

The author calls these considerations a kind of externalities and mentions that they are difficult to measure. Difficult to measure does not mean non-existent; it does not even mean small, as he implies. Passion is also difficult to measure, and so is the wrath of a woman scorned. Neither is small in any sense of the word. Stuff that you do not enter into the equation does not show up in the results except in an unclear, residual sort of way. Those who should be in charge of measuring them, the government bureaucracies of countries of origin, are often inept, corrupt, uninterested or discouraged from doing so by government that prefer slogans to facts. Yet, that’s no reason to write these thing off from our thinking.

2 Author asks sensibly:

“Is productivity mostly about who you are, or where you are?”

Productivity clearly has a lot to do with where you are. (Take a man’s shovel in Sonora, teach him how to drive a backhoe in Brooklyn….) I don’t know what the proportions are between it and the answer to the “who” question but I think it would be absurd to set the “who” at zero. Even national origin may matter on the average: If you absolutely must choose between an unknown Englishman and an unknown Frenchman for a cook, which would you chose?

3 Author is too quick to dismiss the argument of impoverishment caused by emigrants’ departure in their countries of origin. He even uses a logically flawed argument, I think:

“But if human capital externalities from health workers were a first order determinant of basic health conditions, African countries experiencing the largest outflows of doctors and nurses would have systematically worse health conditions than other parts of Africa. In fact, those countries have systematically better health conditions (Clemens, 2007).”

Or, is it more likely that: African countries possessing quality health personnel training programs enjoy superior health conditions as a result (I am thinking vaccinations) and some of the health personnel they train are employable in rich countries.

By the way, this raises the general problem of losing at – least temporarily – the benefits associated with the cost of rearing labor. When a Filipina arrives in the US at 19, ready to work in a hospital, the fact is that I contributed nothing to the cost of bringing her up to that point. Someone else has, in the Philippines, most likely. It’s possible that on the average, the home remittances of such immigrant workers more than covers the cost of rearing and training them. I don’t know if it’s true, or how often. I would like to find out.

Author’s savant discussion of externalities seems (seems) to conclude that even if there is a loss to the country of origin, not much can be done. Of course, something can be done: Let the country of destination pay fees to someone or something in the country of origin that supported the cost of training the immigrant worker; in other words, re-imburse at low cost the expense incurred in creating an unearned benefit in the country of destination.

4 Policy makers in Europe are much exercised over the “lifeboat effect.” Even if immigrants’ arrival results in superior economic growth, even if it solves long term problems, as in Social Security, a sudden influx of large numbers may quickly overwhelm destination societies. It may markedly lower their standards of living. (Think of elementary school classes suddenly crowded with children who don’t know the teachers’ language.) I did not find that this article deals with this matter except between the lines, in an implied manner.

[Wholly theoretical Figure 1 does not help me with this although I am attracted to its curves.]

5 Author does his job as an economist well. He writes about the economics of emigration/immigration and he reports on solid research within the constraints of the discipline of economics discourse. But here are also political consequences of immigration we are free to discuss on this blog. (That’s what blogs are for, I think.) This is especially true for a libertarian blog because it poses squarely the problem of national boundaries, of the respect they are owed or not, of their convenience or inconvenience vis-a-vis libertarian aspirations.

Political consequences of immigration loom large in the imaginations of many people in the countries of destination. The manifestations of their concern are not all vacuous or ignorant, or hysterical. The 8 million Swiss -including many immigrants – may have good reason to wonder how many people they can absorb who think that separation of church and state is not only a bad idea but a major sin. Many French people of old French origin are openly racist. Among those responsible French people who are not racist at all, it’s common to worry about the short-term consequences of the legitimate burden high fertility immigrants place on their already sinking welfare system. (The high fertility is documented; it’s not a rumor.) Many American conservatives are worried about Mexican immigrants’ high propensity to vote Democratic. In the end, it’s possible to imagine a scenario where, in combination with other factors,** Mexican immigration helps turn the United States become a one-party state for all intents and purposes. Incidentally, I like Mexicans and I think they make first-rate immigrants. See my co-author articled with Nikiforov on my – Facts Matter – blog.

Sometimes, author handles humor a little too lightly: “Mayda (2006) finds that it is the wealthier, better educated, and less nationalist individuals in rich destination countries who have more favorable attitudes toward immigration.” Sure thing, I am thinking! They want a steady supply of maids and gardeners.

* As some readers already know ad nauseam, I am an immigrant myself. I had four siblings brought up in pretty much the same micro and macro environments as I. They all shared my mediocre level of educational attainment (high school or less). Three of my siblings never tried to move to a richer country as I did; another tried and failed. The difficulties inherent in emigration must select in favor of the desperate, the brave, and of the sociopathic. (Ask me for a good recent book on the latter.)

** The Republican Party’s current striking political incompetence (small p) looms large on my mind as I write this

A Racist Old Man. So?

A rich old white man instructs one of his black employees in private not to be photographed with black men. The black men include other employees he pays millions of dollars for their skills. (I have no quarrel with this fact; if he didn’t, others would. There is a real market here.) The employee so instructed normally provides the old man with lots of face among other rich old geezers because she is beautiful. She contributes to his image, he thinks. She may also sell him some affection. The old guy is 80. Who would bet she provides much more than affection? Part of the deal is that he is allowed to refer to her as his “girlfriend.” Nobody is fooled, I would think.

For my overseas readers,: I refer to the owner of the Los Angles Clippers, an average basketball team that is part of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The old man’s name is “Sterling.” The NBA official who punishes him is named “Silver.” Makes it sound like a family quarrel. And it would be if the press were doing its job. See below.

The media explodes in outrages when those few words are leaked. The manufactured scandal occupies the best part of a day of news plus some. Some African-Americans are permanently in a rage anyway (for reasons I understand, I think.) Other African-Americans find it expedient, political to be also in rage whether they feel any rage or not. What are the white liberal media figures – public friends of racial minorities all – supposed to do? Does anyone think they might have stated, “No big deal, boring,” and gone back to covering real news?

I, for one, am not outraged. I am bored. Why should I care about what instructions an employer gives one his employees who participates in this shaky image building? Why should I care when his own black employees, more than 2/3 black themselves don’t say a thing about the alleged verbal atrocity?

If I did care, what right would I have to do or even say anything? If they are offended, the man’s highly coveted black players and their offended white teammates can walk away, go on strike. Offended players on other teams can refuse to play with the Clippers. The paying public can boycott the team all it wants if it’s scandalized.

Instead, the Grand Poopah of the National Basketball Association – to which the Clippers belong – forbids the old man from attending his own team games forever and fines him 2.5 million dollars. Poopah Silver’s entourage makes loud public statements about forcing him to sell his team.

What is the Poopah going to do if the old man stands his grounds about the fine and flips him one? Does he have a private geriatric jail into which to throw the old man? It all sounds to me like a private confiscation of private property and a gangsterish restraint of trade. That’s a mafia-like action.

I hope the old man fights back and sues. I hope I am on the jury.

Yes, fascism is in the air. But it does not come from a rich old guy with a mind floating in another era and associated prejudices. We learn the next day that US GPD growth for the first quarter of 2014 is 1/10 of 1 %. That’s a French level. President Obama’s policies are all failing, domestic and foreign. The Democratic Party if facing congressional elections in the fall. Many Democrats are running scared. The party needs to draw attention to something else, to anything at all. The mass media are obliging as usual. Panem et circenses and the panem is  stale.

George Keenan’s racism *AND* affinity for the Democratic Party confuses Left-wing journalist

From the New Republic‘s David Greenberg:

Normally a supporter of Democrats—in the diaries, he voices support for the presidential bids of Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, Frank Church (“promptly regretted it deeply”), and Bill Clinton (“without enthusiasm”)—Kennan was nonetheless profoundly conservative in his worldview.

How on earth could a Democrat be a conservative? The logic of Progressives continues to astound me. Kennan, in addition to being an ardent supporter of Democratic Party candidates, also expresses adulation for ugly racist stuff like eugenics and even goes so far as to express sympathy for Apartheid in South Africa.

Libertarians and honest conservatives have long known about the intricate links between institutional and scientific racism and Left-wing political causes. The logical outgrowth of this subtle racism can be found in many of the Left’s pet political causes, such as Affirmative Action or government housing projects. These are inherently racist policies and if you read the justifications for such policies you can see why they are a natural  outgrowth of Progressivism.

The New Republic‘s David Greenberg is unable to put two and two together, however. To him, the fact that Kennan was a racist and an imperialist and a Democrat does nothing to show him why the Democratic Party is the party of reaction, of conservatism writ large in the United States.

By the way: Just because I think Affirmative Action and government housing projects are racist does not mean I do not support reparations for the US government’s theft of labor from slaves and theft of land from Native Americans. I just think there are better ways of atoning for our government’s sins than engaging in even more fruitless, racist policies.

Voter Fraud; Women as People

The Democratic Party is strongly opposed to voter identification. It would only mean that people would have to do the same thing to vote  that they have to do to catch a plane, obtain a driver’s license or open a bank account. In the past, they pointed to cases of hardship such as invalids, very old people etc  for whom it would be arduous or impossible to perform the simple tasks associated  with getting an ID. Point well taken. No citizen should be deprived of his right to vote because of ill health and such.

When a  proposal is made to pick up such hardship cases and to take them to be registered free of charge at a time of their convenience, the Democratic Party is still opposed, just  as a opposed. When I vote in my 90% Democrat town (just a guess, maybe it’s only 85%), I always make it a point to show my ID. The poll officials react to my gesture with frank horror. Why?

Nothing stops the Democratic Party from declaring that it would accept voter ID if such and such precautions were taken to ensure that no one is disenfranchised. It does not. Why?

Inescapable conclusion, it seems to me:

1 The Democratic Party benefits more from voting fraud than does the Republican Party;

or, 2 The Republican Party is more respectful of the fundamental constitutional  process of voting than is the Democratic Party.

Am I missing something?

Separate topic:

A youngish woman parks her car in front of my house frequently. I have good reasons to think she is a social worker. There is a window sticker on the car  that says “Mills Alumna.”

Mills College used to be a college for rich girls in the East Bay of San Francisco. Some years ago, it started admitting males. Digression: What kind of guys seek admission to a women’s college? My guess is that the lot would be evenly divided between cold hearted predators and closeted gays.

Anyway, the car also sports a bumper sticker that proclaims: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”

Good point but, frankly, what’s the point? Is there any segment of opinion in America that denies this self-evidence? Who is this young woman trying to persuade? Or is it just another shotgut guilt tripping: I am a man; I think women are people; I have always thought so. (After all, I was reared by a mother.) But maybe, there are bad, ignorant men somewhere, maybe even in my neighborhood, who really believe that women are not human beings. Bang, guilty by association! Again!

If at least the bumper sticker were in Arabic, or in Farsi.

A Conspiracy of Debacles: the Advent of Single Payer?

I don’t believe much in conspiracies. For one thing, they require secrecy and belief in the other guy not to spill the beans. Often, information connected with conspiracies has value, economic value or simply psychic value (“I already knew it yesterday!”) Hence, the frequent betrayal. Moreover, people in general mess up, the conspiratorial group tends to amplify the mess. For all these reasons, mention the conspiracy against Julius Caesar and I will tell you it’s not obvious it happened. I am skeptical about conspiracies in general but I can make exceptions.

Today, in December 2013, my skepticism is vacillating. I am skeptical about my usual skepticism, you might say. The reason is that I have never seen a governmental debacle of the magnitude of the current roll out of the Affordable Care Act (It’s “Obamacare.” Don’t even try to correct me on this. I heard the president with my own ears claim the nickname.) The present demonstration of incompetence is so out of proportion with everything I have experienced in my life that a part of my brain is whispering to the other that it can’t just be simple incompetence. To begin with, it seems to me that an average nerdy company would have done a better job of the electronic exchanges: WSJ says 12/12/13 that in all of Oregon 44 people have enrolled. (My friend Scott from Silicon Valley will correct me if my assessment of the ease of setting up the exchanges is wrong.) Furthermore, in an operation of this complexity and of this magnitude at best, some degree of failure was to be expected. Any normally prudent person would have set up a fail safe mechanism, a second chance device, or, at least, readied a large lifeboat. None of the above exists it seems. I have trouble believing in a simple oversight.

Beyond the electronic failure -which is guaranteed to induce sneering hostility in the young who use EBay and Amazon with their eyes closed – the same people desperately needed to join, there is the deleterious substance of the reform: Many people find themselves saddled with larger premiums, higher deductible and often both. I don’t know how many. I don’t think anyone knows how many. It does not matter but those reporting that they are so affected are not, cannot all be Tea Party fanatics.

Even the main redeeming virtue of this disaster has been largely withdrawn. I heard that the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that 30 million people would still be off the health insurance roles after the whole Obamacare law is implemented. It’s as if a malignant hand had deliberately withdrawn the last consolation from the disaster: It will make you poorer; it might leave you with a doctor you don’t like (“might”); it leaves you exposed without health insurance although you used to have a plan with which you were satisfied; and it won’t even help that much those it was supposed to help.

Digression on Tech. source note: The first numbers come from an editorial in the 12/12/13 Wall Street Journal. The notion that millions of non-insured will remain uninsured even under the best hypothesis is all over the media. I am not able to cite a precise source. Make a note that I will not consider any lazy and irresponsible denial of this assertion. If you think that’s not true, that I misheard or heard well something false, just say so here, explain why you are sure it’s wrong, and sign your name. I will publish any denial in bold letters. Girlish snickering is not welcome.

By the way, I don’t want you to think that I am implicitly legitimizing the Democratic claims about the number of real uninsured. I never bought the “millions of uninsured” argument. Two reasons. First, it confused “no insurance” with no “health care.” It also confounded and confounds “inefficient way to deliver care” with “the poor dying on the hospital lawn for lack of care.” More importantly, I became convinced that the poor, powerless abandoned souls imagery the Democratic Party uses to characterize the uninsured is largely an invention. Many of the formerly uninsured are people already legible for existing programs who were not enrolled, many children of the irresponsible and incompetent, for example, probably some isolated older people. Other non-insured are clearly rich enough to afford health insurance and simply don’t take he trouble to buy it. Others, mostly young people who are not rich, make the rational calculation that they are quite unlikely to become seriously sick. They engage in low-stake gamble about their proximate health. Once you added the three subgroups of the uninsured, the pathetic-sounding category “ uninsured” melted to little, to next to nothing.

I can ignore my disbelief about this for the time being. I just assume that millions of Americans thought the reform was necessary for reasons of compassion toward the more vulnerable among us. Absent or diminished this justification and this rationalization many of the same Americans will feel disappointed or even cheated. (I am charitably ignoring the claim that the scheme would make health insurance cheaper.)

Now, let’s project ourselves only four to six weeks, to the 2014 State of the Union Address. By that time, by law, most everyone is supposed to be covered. The insurance companies have continued withdrawing plans that are non-compliant, or that they fear may be judged non-compliant with the new law. The number of people between insurance plans has grown from an estimate of 4 million (the WSJ 12/12/13) to ten million. There are reasons to believe that the numbers of those left out will yet grow. The forty or fifty millions original uninsured remain mostly uninsured. The young that the new law unaccountably counted on to finance the new project stay away in droves. The fine they incur, after all, is not much higher than the beer bill for three average parties. Discouraged by the mess, the shamble, the unpredictability, small businesses nearly all shed their health coverage.

In this scenario, in a matter of weeks, the number of Americans without legally required health insurance rockets up to some large proportion of the population, perhaps to one American in four, even one in three. At that point, according to the implicit liberal narrative, we have a national life-and-death disaster, an event that makes Katrina look like a Cajun picnic. According to the same implicit narrative which the Democratic hierarchy cannot suddenly denounce, people are going soon to begin dying in the streets. What was but recently a controversial reform has become a national emergency.

What’s a normally compassionate, responsible president to do under the circumstances? I mean any president?

The answer is blindingly clear: In this emergency, the president will announce that all Americans not otherwise covered are now under the existing, reasonably functional Medicare program. And, he will leave the accounting for later. And this accounting will not seem like much of a new problem because it’s just an enlargement of an old problem. (“The devil we know….”) The president could decree on such a radical measure without fear of much criticisms from the opposition. What Republican official will have the fortitude to insist that proper constitutional form must take precedence over the imminent distress, and possible death from neglect of millions? Which elected Republican will have what it takes to face the first media story – true or false – a single story of a youngish person dying for lack of care?

Many ordinary Americans will opt for the simple solution: Instead of digging around for an elusive insurance plan that suits them and that is also compliant, they will ask to join Medicare. Once nearly half of Americans are covered by Medicare, the private insurance companies will quietly surrender. Some will begin to specialize in luxury coverage for the very rich. Others will just re-focus on areas other than health care. Many will simply go bankrupt and then vanish (as happened in other countries under similar circumstances). Soon, the US too will have a single payer government run health insurance system. The Obama administration will have reached the Graal of all liberals since F.D. Roosevelt.

This would be an easy conspiracy to carry out because it does not require that explicit instructions be given to the co-conspirators. Hence, there is no possible leak, no chance of getting caught red-handed. It’s also a conspiracy that does not require extraordinary skills but only the subtle encouragement of government’s normal low standards of performance. Much of the deliberate sabotage of a real implementation of the new law would only have to take the form of inaction, for example, of the administrator in charge of the reform. This does not require talent but good nerves, or indifference. Ms Sebelius, the person in charge of implementing Obamacare has been reported by conservative media to have had no (zero) meetings with the president. If they are wrong, the real number must still be very low, lower than you would expect given the centrality of the scheme to the Obama presidency. That is if the president really wanted the implementation of the 2,000+ pages of the Affordable Care Act to go smoothly. If!

The most successful socialist revolution socializing more than 15% – and growing- of the largest economy in the world will have been achieved quickly and without much real opposition. Hurrah!

Now, this is all speculation. I am just connecting the dots. I hope I am completely wrong, that we are all facing an ordinary debacle, one due entirely to gross but innocent incompetence.

Personal note: I have seen the French single-payer system at work under trying circumstances. My subjective evaluation is that it works quite well. On the objective side, there is the fact that French men live two years longer on average than American men. (Yes, I too would like to believe it’s the red wine but I know to keep my inner child in line.) My objection to a government health sector is of a moral and political nature: We just don’t need more government; we need much less government in order to be free. Besides, one should not take for granted that we can do well whatever the French do well. Take ratatouille, for example, take pâté de campagne, etc.

From the Comments: Open Borders, Immigration and the Sociology of Gradualism

Dr Delacroix takes issue with my woefully inadequate summary of his work on open borders in the Independent Review. He writes:

Small yet somewhat important correction: In our piece in the Independent Review, Nikiforov and I argue for somewhat more than a guest worker program and our reference is not a to a EU “guest worker program.” (I am not sure whether there is one.) Rather, we argue that little harm would be done and, as we see now, much harm avoided, by simply agreeing that citizens of Canada, the US and Mexico (especially Mexico) can freely move across the common borders of the three countries. including for the long term. What we have seen in the EU for now more than twenty years shows that there is no reason to attach this free movement principle to citizenship.

That you may work, open a business, pay taxes in Mexico does not logically imply that you may vote in Mexican elections. That you may not does not deprive you of any “rights.” As an immigrant into Mexico you knew what you were doing. You moved under your own power. It’s unlikely anyone even invited you. If you crashed the party, you have no moral right to complain that the food is not kosher (or hallal, you decide).

Several years later, I think that the only reason for this insistence on tying residence to citizenship is the Democratic Party’s totalitarian aspirations. Observing the drift in the Obama administration toward non-legality clarified the picture for me, personally. (I am not speaking for my co-author, here. He just spent three years in Russia; I will ask him.)

Historical precedents matter, and a preference for gradualism may make it desirable -in this country- to transition through a somewhat familiar “guest worker program” rather than directly decree open borders for the citizens of the three NAFTA countries.

I am for whatever works but we must keep concepts distinct from each other: A tomato is not really a fruit, not really.

PS I am glad Notes On Liberty publishes my essays (and even my stories) and that it links to my blog. When I grow up, I want a readership like Notes’ readership!

The Immigration “Reform” Bill: RINOs, Labor Unions and a Libertarian Alternative

Nobody is happy with the current immigration reform package being shoved through Congress at the moment. I don’t know too much about the specifics of the bill, or even about immigration itself (except that immigrants make good drinking buddies), so I’ll just outsource some ideas and arguments I’ve read elsewhere. First up is our very own Jacques Delacroix, an immigrant from France, who writes:

The main objective of the bill is to install in this country an unbeatable Democratic majority for the foreseeable future. The intent is to turn this polity into a one-party system. Everyone assumes, of course, that the electoral benefits of the bill will redound to the Democratic Party. If you don’t believe it, conduct a simple mental experiment: Tell yourself under what circumstances the implementation of the present bill, or of one similar to it, would cause a net increase in the number of Republican voters?

At best, at the very best, the admission of ten million formerly illegal immigrants and of their dependents would have no effect on American electoral politics. There is no scenario whereas it would help the conservative cause.

New immigrants vote Democrat. Immigrants from societies with authoritarian traditions vote Left unless their societies have gone through violent purging convulsions such as happened in “communist” Eastern Europe in the nineties. The idea that the government should leave people alone is a sophisticated one. It does not grow naturally out of the experience of oppression.

Indeed. Is this analysis wrong? If so, feel free to elaborate why you think so in the ‘comments’ section. I highly recommend reading the whole thing. Angelo Codevilla, an immigrant from Italy (and one of Dr Delacroix’s fellow academics), also elaborates on the bill:

Beginning in the 1960s, increasingly dandified native youths shunned agricultural and service jobs. So did the new legal immigrants. This made room for a growing number of laborers from Mexico who came and went freely and seasonally across a basically un-patrolled 2000 mile border. These were not “immigrants,” but rather mostly young men who yearned to get back to their families. They did not come to stay, much less take part in American politics. America came to rely on them to the point that, were a magic wand to eliminate them, whole industries would stop, including California agriculture.

US labor unions however, supported by the Democratic Party, pressed the US government to restrict this illegal flow. While until the 1980s, the US-Mexican border was patrolled by fewer than 1000 agents – nearly all at a handful of crossing points – that number has grown to some 25,000 in our time. As the border began to tighten, making it impossible for the Mexicans to come and go, many brought their families and stayed put in the US between work seasons […]

The controversy over illegal immigration did not touch the core of the immigration problem, namely the Immigration Act of 1965 and our burgeoning welfare system. Nor did it deal with the fact that the illegal flow of Mexicans was really about labor, not immigration, because most Mexican “illegals” had not come with the intention of staying. A well-crafted guest-worker program would give most of them what they want most [emphasis mine – bc].

Hence the “illegal immigration problem” is an artifact of the US political system: The Democratic Party wants the Mexicans as voters, the labor unions want the Mexicans as members rather than as competitors, and the Chamber of Commerce wants them for as low a wage as it can enforce.

Codevilla has much, much more here. Codevilla attributes the US immigration system to the corporate state, but I am unsure if Dr Delacroix feels the same way.

Delacroix’s piece, like Codevilla’s, also brings attention to an alternative guest worker program. Delacroix, in an article for the Independent Review, points out that the guest worker program has worked extremely well in the pre-central bank European Union (I am unsure if this is still the case).

A guest worker program would eliminate the political implications associated with “illegal immigration reform” and, as a result, enhance the economic benefits of seasonal labor flows coming from Mexico. The Cato Institute has recently come out with a policy report detailing how a guest worker program might be implemented. As I’ve stated before, the Cato Institute is one of three think tanks I actually trust (the other two being Brookings and Hoover).

Bush’s War

“Since March 1996, Iraq has  systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special on Iraq Commission (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment  regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs […]

On August 14 — the President signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that “the  Government of Iraq  is in material and unacceptable breach  of its international obligations” and urged the President to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligation […]

It should be he policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of  a democratic government to replace that regime.”

The first paragraph is from the Iraq Liberation Act of ___  .

The second and third paragraphs are from  Public-Law 105-235.

The president who signed both items was ___________?

This is lifted from the Wall Street Journal of 3/19/13. The bolding is mine.

Both pieces of legislation were enacted in 1998.

The primary reason given by the Bush administration for the attack on Hussein’s Iraq was to search there for weapons of mass destruction. We now know there were no such weapons on any significant scale. I keep arguing on this blog that:

  1. There were many other reasons to destroy the Hussein regime and,
  2. There were very good reasons for any reasonable person to be misled about the existence of such weapons in Iraq.

Mostly, it was that the Hussein regime sabotaged the inspection process to which it had agreed as a condition of peace following the first Gulf War. It would be hard to understand the high risks taken to hide things by one who had in fact nothing to hide! (Read this sentence again.)

The important persons and organization who were fooled into believing in the existence of the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were numerous and varied. They included several western intelligence services and many important politicians.

In 1998, a prominent member of one of the two main American political parties (prominent then and prominent now) said the following,

“Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”

I am not faulting the politician who said this for blindness then but for irresponsible, dishonest amnesia now.

The politician in question is __________________________

(Answer below as a “Comment.”)

The quote is lifted from the Wall Street Journal editorial on 3/20/13.

Forward to the Failed Past

Some politicians like to use the slogan, “forward.” Sometimes it is more emphatic: forward!

But one may well ask, forward to what? Time and the current of events are always moving us forward already, so evidently the forward-seekers want to change the existing flow sideways. The slogan “forward” has often been used by those who seek greater state-imposed collectivism. As propaganda, “forward!” sounds better than “leftward!” or “towards ever greater statism!”

Several publications of socialist parties during the 1800’s were titled “Forward.” Lenin continued this tradition when he founded the Bolshevik newspaper “Vpered” (or “Vperyod”), which is “forward” in Russian. German socialists had already published the periodical “Vorwärts,” and the German national socialists continued the use of the slogan. Several communist and socialist parties still use “Forward” as the title of their publications. Continue reading

I Am Bored So Here Is A Story

I am not yet mentally ready to face squarely the fact that the Obama administration is going to do all the wrong things about our dire economy. Let me say again that Pres.-elect Obama is not the Anti-Christ. It’s just that you can’t implement policies the existence of which you don’t even suspect. Obama is a recognizable type. He is a Social-Democrat, European-style, circa 1970.

I am bored with current events. One more time, the Democratic Party has to deal with corruption in its Illinois branch. Reminder: a former Governor of Illinois is currently in jail. Gov. Blago was caught with his hand close to the cookie jar, not even inside. Big deal! The Democratic Party does not want to risk a special election to fill Obama’s Senate seat because of the tiny chance that a Republican might win. Makes me yawn.

The West Europeans are suffering from heating gas delivery cuts in the middle of the winter. Russia is cutting them off. My only reaction: It told you so, in the nineties!

The mayhem is continuing in Gaza. That’s boring too: Some Palestinian group gets up on a hill, pounds its chest, shoots in the direction of Israel with a .22, and promises aloud to obliterate the Zionist entity and to kill many Zionists. The Israelis get pissed off, they return fire with an M16. They kill hundreds of Palestinians; a handful of Israelis die. Then, anti-Semites worldwide join hands with mindless do-gooding tender-hearts and force Israel to stop. Everyone goes home until next time.

Hamas, lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood, with two broken legs, a skull fracture, and one eye missing declares victory. The Arab world cheers!

A question lazy journalists don’t ask: The current death rate of Gaza residents at the hands of Israel is comparable to the homicide rate of what country? (Relevant blog: Nationamasterblog.)

As I said, I am bored. I don’t seem to be the only one. Today at noon, every major television network showed us an empty room awaiting impeached Gov. Blago to arrive to make a meaningless declaration instead of broadcasting Gaza and surroundings.

You may be bored too so, here is a completely unrelated story. Continue reading