1. Man, I need to go rethink things. David Stockman and I agree on so many things in the latest Stockman screed, that I must be wrong. Not that I think Stockman is wrong, but whenever I agree so consistently with someone, I get the willies. Let's just hope it's a short term aberration, and chalk it up to accidental temporal alignment. Anyway read the whole thing, it really is worth it.
The Donald—–The Good And Bad Of It
"That brings us to the bad of The Donald and what I called the Hairy Deal a few weeks back. Even as The Donald talks up a populist-sounding storm and rebukes Imperial Washington with the insolence it richly deserves, his predicate is fundamentally wrong. He insists that the nation’s ills stem from incompetent politicians making bad deals.
But that’s not right. The problem is bad policies and destructive ideas in the hands of Washington’s career politicians who are extremely competent at orchestrating the machinery of the state against the liberty and prosperity of its citizens.
Thus, in the hierarchy of things screaming out for radical change, the Donald’s favorite whipping boys——-NAFTA, China’s trade practices, illegal aliens and the danger of Muslim refugees——-don’t even rank. Nor do safeguarding the Second Amendment or building a horizontal version of Trump Towers on the Rio Grande.
The fact is, Trump has fashioned his platform by opportunistically scratching the most fearful and bigoted itches roiling the electorate. He has absolutely no semblance of a coherent program——or even an incoherent one for that matter."
This is one of my concerns as well, that Trump is nothing but Edvard Munch's Scream of bile, racism, bigoted itches, and xenophobia. If so, he won't appeal to the Democrat side at all. We shall see.
Stockman takes aim at the Democrats as well, appropriately.
"And that just as true of the Democrat party as the GOP. There is a dearth of new jobs in America today, for example, because the Democratic Party protects like a junkyard dog the single biggest agency of job destruction in the land.
To wit, the so-called foundation labor law in the form of the social security payroll tax, minimum wage and the NLRB. These relics of the 1930s New Deal remain the litmus tests for the Democrats’ own brand of special interest racketeering——that is, kowtowing to the unions.
But in a global market than can mobilize labor from every rice paddy and remote hamlet on the planet, the protectionism afforded US industrial unions by the NLRB imperils the few manufacturing jobs that remain. At the same time, the minimum wage stops new service sector jobs from being born, while the myth of social insurance—including its second generation off-spring in Obamacare——always and everywhere pushes employers to artificially conserve labor and substitute capital and technology.
Stated differently, the stupidest thing that Washington can do to a $40,000 per year job in an economy where labor is drastically over-priced and uncompetitive with much of the world is to extract upwards of $17,000 worth of payroll taxes and Obamacare employer mandates before workers get a red cent of take home pay."
The Democrats do indeed live in the 1930s and perhaps more often in the 1880s with their desires for all things train, permanent lifetime jobs, Victorian morality/Puritanism in colleges, speech codes, and their return to proto-feminism/suffrage. I differ from Stockman here, in that he seems to believe the jobs will remain, if only the Democrats recant their minimum wage, social insurance, NLRB dogma. They will not. The jobs are dead, they just have not tipped over. They can be retained for a while, but only a short while. The deflationary period will ensure ever increasing automation, and loss of jobs in manufacturing. Yes, this will increasingly bleed into the service sphere.
We want better services, and this will require the elimination of the weak link, humans. And, so, the jobs humans undertake will increasingly be under pressure. I have no idea if this means jobs will disappear completely, but what Stockman seems to misunderstand here is jobs are a very short term economic phenomena driven by the industrial economy's need for humans to perform tasks. With increasing automation, and AI, it is not clear will continue to need humans to perform many, or indeed, any of these tasks. Please don't forget we got along just fine before jobs, although the industrial economy really allowed for the massive increase in wealth which allows our current standard of living. The wealth will not go away if the jobs go away, we will simply find another mechanism through which to share the wealth, perhaps the "Ownership Economy" to steal a phrase.
While today we talk of the automation of manufacturing jobs. We miss that at the high end of the legal spectrum, the rarified huge New York law firms, the automation of lawyers has already begun in haste. These firms no longer hire hundreds of low level associates, most of whom will never have any hope of partnership. They have been automated with computerized discovery, with computerized document handling, with computerized trial preparation, and even execution. Automation of the service economy is also moving apace.
How long before our adequate family physicians are replaced with excellent computer physicians, and only the very best physicians remain to review for statical analysis the actions of the excellent computers, and then only to help improve the outcomes? How long before AI computer robots perform the most delicate surgeries? And the most simple? And how long before those costs drop to all but zero, because a surgeon can only do so many surgeries before he drops from exhaustion, but a robot does not exhaust. It only needs routine maintenance, occasional capital retrofits, and software updates.
"And, no, the solution is not to abolish social security and dump grandma in the snow. Instead, if the community organizer who stumbled into the White House on the strength of his anti-war rhetoric had not been wedded to the Democrat’s mindless ideology of “social insurance”, he could have abolished the $1.2 trillion per year payroll tax entirely—–the sledge hammer that beats down upon worker living standards day in and day out—— and replaced it with a 10% consumption tax.
Needless to say, in a nation where only 123 million of an adult population of 252 million work full time, we could do with less consumption and more labor hours and production—-so we should tax the former, not the latter. Indeed, a nation which is getting older, fatter and dumber while watching television or trolling the internet eight hours per day, must do less shopping and keeping up with the Kardashians and more work——or it will end up in social and fiscal bankruptcy within a decade or so."
Agreed (this agreement crap is creeping me out)! Then go beyond, and spike the entire federal government income tax system and replace it with an 18% consumption tax, I suspect we could get away with a total consumption tax of 25%. Allowing the average Joe to keep 100% of his income. Threatening to take 25% of what he spends might just make him more circumspect about spending so much on crap. It also provides a much needed feeling of control over ones environment. We forget that by spiking the way the inefficient government collects money we will also spike some substantial portion of the government, reducing the governments need for revenue, which will lower the amount of taxes necessary to meet the new revenue needs.
It could poses some problem with the savings side, since there would be no income tax for the IRA's, HSA's and other tax favored accounts to protect against. But much of this could be overcome for the target audience, the less well off, by protecting these accounts against creditors, and government predations. Monies in these accounts should be free from the grasp of creditors, or government debt collectors, and make it even better, by disallowing these entities from interfering with the deposit into these accounts of future income. This would ensure that the individual would be able to continue to earn, and deposit money from income into these account, to the legal maximum, regardless of garnishment, government liens, or other debts owed. These accounts would be accepted by the middle class and wealthier without questions, they are in significant part a reason for the wealth of these classes. This would provide the poorer classes with reason to use these accounts.
Just to be clear, by these accounts I mean retirement, health payments, and a more general account for everything else. It could be similar to the Canadian Tax Free Savings Account.
The Tax-Free Savings Account
Further expanding on this, would be substantial elimination of the government safety net in favor of direct deposit of moneys into these types of accounts. With some tweaks, the IRA/Social Security account would be inaccessible till retirement at a specified retirement age say 70. It would be an opt in program, if you opt in you would receive 5-15% of income deposited directly into the IRA/SS account, dependent upon income where the lower income earners would receive the higher amount the higher incomes the lower amount on a sliding scale.
This can be done with nearly everything from health care to food stamps, eliminating the bureaucracy completely and instead turning to a simple computer driven algorithm, the individual applies, and the algorithm provides an amount, and automatically deposits into an account. This would free up money for fraud detection, and other necessary uses, and still provide a simple, scaled safety net. All at a fractional cost of what we spend today.
In a sense this would look a bit like a minimum guaranteed income arrangement only without the guarantee being paid to everyone including the wealthy. Here it would be means tested, and smoothly scaled. Legalizing drugs would also eliminate one of the great cheats in our welfare system, the ability of many to supplement income "working" within the black economy. Without illegal drugs, this economy would be far smaller, and provide less opportunity for this form of corruption.
I am a bit far afield, however!
"But now both parties have become handmaidens of the state. Domiciled in the Imperial City, they have long ago betrayed their founding principles in favor of incumbency, self-importance and operating the special interest rackets that keep them in office.
Maybe The Donald’s startling but palpable momentum toward the White House will have one saving grace. His relentless campaign against the “politicians” and the Washington money rackets may end up knocking the hypocritical stuffings out of both parties.
There could be worse fates among the present alternatives."
Again, agreed! (Creeping me out I tell ya!) I suspect none of us actually understand The Donald, and even he might not. But I am beginning to suspect he will be a triangulation cypher. If so, he could usher in a new age in American politics, an age which is forced to return to understanding, and addressing the needs, desires, and goals of flyover country, while turning away from the turreted confines of Imperial Washington, to steal one of Stockman's embellishments. Nothing is more necessary than to turn out the sycophants along K Street, but to name a few. Cutting loose their sinecures would be worth any problems arising from a Trump Presidency.
I am probably saying this just to talk my self off the ledge and into believing . . . well, . . . something. Or, I am right. I'm going with the latter, because I like being right!
2. Peggy Noonan seems to agree, although in softer terms, and with less apocalypse. I love writing in the apocalyptical style, it really is fun, you should try it some time.
Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected
I think she gets it. The unprotected are angry, and with the Internet they have more power, power they did not know they had. And they are beginning to exercise that power. Trump seems to understand this, the others do not. The political power brokers really, really do not. Then again, a man whose job depends upon his not understanding something will be impossible to bring to understanding. At least until his job disappears.
First party to disappear these jobs, and hew to the Unprotected will drive politics for a generation. Any takers? Only Trump? I thought so.
We are early 1853, waiting for one party to jump into the change. I suspect that Trump will cause the jump to happen in the Republican party, and the jump with splinter the party, resulting in either the reconstitution of the Republican party, or the constitution of a new political party which will control politics for a generation. This does not mean I think Trump will be the Republican candidate, or President. But I would not bet against either as of now.
Trump, and his Wallet, Are Untested
I don't think he gets it. Sorry Holman, I think you are missing the point of The Donald, and why he is so powerful, and why your concerns really don't matter. You are too inside politics to get this, but you will, you will.
"He claimed to have warned that the Iraq war would be a disaster and opposed it, but his plain words on the Howard Stern radio show in 2002 demonstrate no such thing.
He claims thousands of New Jersey residents who are Muslims were televised cheering the attack on the World Trade Center, but there is no evidence that such cheering took place, much less video suggesting it did."
Like I said, inside politics. Nobody cares Holman, sorry, but the flyovers couldn't care less about this trivia, only your friends inside politics care. You really need to read Noonan, and understand that you are one of her Protected, the ones flyovers not only don't like, but are building a serious animosity towards. If anything you need to look at Trump as salvation. If this anger builds too much longer it will be long knives, stout rope, lampposts, tar and feathers, and not only for the politicians, but for the Protected.
Go with God, you might just need him.
"That doesn’t mean he ever seriously thought about being president, having to do the job. And one way that might become apparent is when, after winning the nomination and celebrating his personal triumph, he turns to the GOP and its donor armies to see what they are willing to do to win him the presidency. If it’s not as much as he would like—if he would actually have to fulfill his promise to finance his own honest-to-goodness presidential campaign, which could cost $1 billion—that’s when things get hinky."
Of course, based on this logic, he will simply continue apace, and if the Republicans don't support him, and he does not win, he has his scapegoat, and the Republicans will get exactly what they wanted least, Hillary. I don't see a man, who per your assessment may not even want to be President, finding this outcome negative. Moreover, it seems it would tectonically fracture the Republican party something Trump seems to deeply want. So, over all a win, right! I don't think you see this clearly, you are too enamored with your establishment Republicans.
"In 1970, Chile held a presidential election and Salvador Allende, an avowed Marxist, won with 36% of the vote, a smaller percentage than he received (39%) in losing six years earlier. Chile’s center and right, instead of combining their vote as in previous races, backed separate candidates, giving the presidency to a man whose radical socialist intent was unendorsed by 64% of the electorate."
So, Trump is now Allende? Trump is the greatest troll Grand Master playing. He can troll Holman by simply living in his head, rent free, driving Holman mad. Sorry pal, this is dark stages of madness ridiculous. I wrote white papers on Allende, Trump is no Allende, or anything even remotely like Allende.
"OK, it’s an extreme example, but there are lesser kinds of democratic accident."
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Too late Holman, you already hit the publish button. We read your far wacky brain fart. Allende! Hahahahahahahaha.
"That he hasn’t is one reason to doubt his commitment to going all the way. Ditto his failure to unlimber his wallet. Ditto his failure to lay out serious policies. Ditto his unwillingness to mollify the tire-kicking, less-protesty kind of voter by trying to signal that he actually has given sentient thought to how to form an administration and set actionable priorities.
What began as a scheme to become more famous is in danger of running away with the country. The consequences even Mr. Trump does not appear to be ready for."
Look Holman, just to be nice I will try and match your idiotic insinuation that Trump is Allende (Hahahahahahahaha) with an equally idiotic insinuation of my own.
Trump it Jesus kicking over the money lenders stalls in the Temple, and you are a Pharisee, angered by his action, only Trump is of course not Jesus or even a Jesus like character, he only plays one when kicking over the Republican political money lenders stalls. The difference here is serious, The Christ had to be meek, his mission by this time was obviously not to convert the masses and bring paradise immediately to Earth, humans were not ready for that, And since they could not save themselves, his missions became to offer a sacrifice of himself, perfection, in exchange for the sins of all humanity. An acceptable sacrifice. Trump is sacrificing nothing, he is just kicking over the Republican money lender stalls, and making great hay doing so.
Trump offers no sacrifice, he offers something simpler, vengeance, retribution, and a kick in the face to all who have forgotten Noonan's Unprotected. Perhaps Trump will only succeed in kicking in the teeth of the Republicans, but I am a bit more circumspect in my analysis here. He has played you, and your Republican establishment a fool up to now. There is no reason to believe this will not continue.
As I said before, there is much anger in the Democrat rank and file as well, the question is whether The Donald can stand in front of this anger while at the same time remaining in front of the mass he currently represents? He has been adept so far. I would not bet against him.
Man, this is getting good!
From deep in the bowels of Maddog's Stately Lair,
your Donald watching,