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Confessions of a Former White Guy

March 2, 2014

It came to my attention recently that I’m no longer white.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m still a certifiable Caucasian. My ancient Armenian ancestors hailed from the high plateau below the mountain range that lent its name to the so-called white race. I’m more a child of the Caucasus than your average Dane or Irishman. But it seems that history and politics have exiled me from the realm of whiteness. Let me explain.

Your author: Caucasian, definitely. White, not so much.

Your author: Caucasian, definitely. White, not so much.

After 9/11, I began to notice that “Middle Eastern” had become a separate racial designation on application forms – along with the customary “white,” “black,” “Asian,” “Pacific Islander,” “Native American,” ”Hispanic” and “other.” Apparently I had lived half a century under a grievous misconception: that “Caucasian” was synonymous with “white.”

It was a natural mistake. After all, vintage comedian Danny Thomas was a Middle Easterner like me. With that majestic honker of his, he could have passed for one of my uncles. And most of us still would have regarded him as white.

But the controversy came to a head this past Christmas, when conservative pundit Megyn Kelly had the audacity to proclaim that Jesus was white. In the firestorm that followed, it became manifestly clear that the Son of God was to be regarded as a person of color – along with Omar Sharif, Andre Agassi, Sandy Koufax, Tiny Tim, William Saroyan and everyone else of Middle Eastern origin.

That bit of news sealed it for me: the writing was on the wall, and I had no choice but to bid farewell to whiteness. No matter that the title role in the latest Jesus movie went to a man who looks like a J. Crew model. Jesus was now a former white guy, and by extension, so was I.

I should have known all along. I was always the darkest denizen of my grade-school class, even though I never felt slighted on account of my swarthy complexion. Still, I used to notice that the ideal American kid – especially as portrayed in Walt Disney films of the pre-diversity era – was almost always blue-eyed and freckle-faced. That wasn’t me up there on the screen. Plunk me down in a desert for a week, and I’d be as brown as any Bedouin.

Another former white guy of Middle Eastern parentage: the late Danny Thomas

Another former white guy of Middle Eastern parentage: the late Danny Thomas

I have to confess that part of me is relieved to be a person of color. After all, white people have been taking it on the chin ever since the Civil Rights era. I’m grateful that I no longer have to shoulder the blame for slavery, Jim Crow, systematic oppression, colonial imperialism, hegemonic dominance and whatever else they’ve been teaching about white people (and especially white Christian heterosexual males) in today’s academic Grievance Studies departments. Living under such opprobrium can weary the soul.

In fact, now that I’m nonwhite, I can start railing against “white privilege” – that most diabolically ingenious of grievances. You see, white people can’t do anything about the fact that they’re white. It’s a designation that will haunt them for life and render them helpless fodder for all manner of race-based accusations. We can wag our fingers at them and they’re not allowed to wag back. In short, we have them trapped.

As a former white guy, I can safely raise the spectre of “white privilege” whenever I’m rejected by a publisher or snubbed by the membership committee of the local country club. I can seethe inwardly whenever I think about white investment bankers making deals with white politicians (as we all should).

But as a former white person and a student of history, I also know that white people aren’t some unified, monolithic juggernaut. Just look at the record: these folks have been fighting one another for centuries. The Hundred Years’ War… the War of the Roses… the War of Jenkins’ Ear… even World War I – these were whites-only conflicts, declared by white alpha males upon other white alpha males, and fought almost entirely by lower-ranking white males who willingly gave their lives to oblige their masters.

Foreground: Specimen of a Caucasian who is also certifiably white. Background: A certifiably white polar bear.

Foreground: Specimen of a Caucasian who is also certifiably white. Background: A certifiably white polar bear for comparison.

It becomes apparent, if you do a little cursory research, that white people are divided into dozens of distinct nationalities – not all of whom have enjoyed special privileges in the past or present. I mean, can I really point to Romanians and Bulgarians as the authors of my systematic oppression? No? How about Serbs, Hungarians, Czechs, Poles, Latvians, Finns and Norwegians? If they’re off the hook, who do I blame?

I suppose I can always aim a self-righteous barb at the WASPs, whose British ancestors were – along with the Spanish conquistadors — North America’s first illegal immigrants. After all, those WASPs swiped a continent from its original inhabitants, introduced slavery to these shores and dominated American life until the Irish, Italians, Jews, Asians and other upstart groups forced them to share the glory. The fact that they also gave us George Washington, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Susan B. Anthony and Elvis Presley is almost irrelevant.

But which WASPs should I blame? The farmers and townspeople of New England? No, they may have been starchy and antagonistic to the notion of pleasure, but they were, on the whole, sturdy and virtuous folk. Do I blame the good Quakers of Pennsylvania or the enterprising Knickerbocker merchants of old New York? No again; they did little or nothing to oppress me and my kind; in fact, they were generally liberal in their attitude toward minorities and newcomers.

Well, then, how about the Southerners who profited from the back-breaking servitude of enslaved Africans? Now I’m ready to pounce. But the problem here is twofold: first, only a tiny fraction of Southerners ever owned slaves. Second (and probably even more important), every last one of those slave-owners is DEAD. Not only dead, but currently crumbling to dust in their graves.

I don’t know about you, but I generally have a hard time blaming crumbling skeletons for ruining my life. And because I don’t endorse the Old Testament concept of collective guilt, you won’t find me castigating today’s white folks for the sins of their great-great-great grandfathers. This former white guy will always judge individuals as individuals. It might be a better world if we all did.

Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.

656 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2014 8:53 pm

    Actually in the Old Testament the general idea is that every individual is held accountable for their own sin, not those of their ancestors- though sometimes they bear the “curse” of that sin- that usually manifesting itself as the after-effects. There are times where this appears not to be the case, as with communities caught up in idolatry.

    Thankfully we are not living in that context now.

    I think though there is something to be said for “collective guilt” on the institutional level- some people or people-groups have long memories and sometimes apologies might be needed, for example from a head of state or government on behalf of the country or government. Sometimes we might not want to be proud if we ourselves had ancestors who did unsavoury stuff, to call them our ancestors. But it need not follow that simply because one is a member of some vaguely defined demographic (like “white”) one is automatically guilty or can be assumed to have some nebulous priveleges. (“White” probably meant nothing if you were working class for example, or if you are a member of the modern-day underclass).

    • March 3, 2014 9:14 am

      That’s a good, nuanced response to a complicated issue. It sure does seem that the Old Testament God liked to wreak havoc on entire groups, and even the Israelites seemed to have little or no sympathy for innocent individuals within the tribes they opposed. Granted, this collective guilt mentality generally applied to those who didn’t believe in Yahweh, but of course that meant everyone who wasn’t an Israelite.

      You’re right that “privilege” is more a function of class than of race. I know a black Yale graduate from an elite family who continually rails against white privilege, but probably the least privileged group in modern American society is the white working class. Unlike members of the black underclass, working-class whites have nobody looking after their interests, no affirmative action programs to get them into college, and certainly not much of a future following the collapse of America’s industrial base.

      • March 3, 2014 9:26 am

        Its even worse that you state, Rick. If that middle class white guy is a Christian, owns a gun, believes abortion is murder, that LGTBs are kind of yuckie, doesn’t look up to Barack Obama.

        The guy is an outcast and is ridiculed routinely. Yes, and he is also called an “old” angry white man.

        Kind of like calling him “nigger.”

      • March 3, 2014 4:45 pm

        In fairness the “collective guilt” was only used in certain very specific cases of divine judgement (for example the Canaanites), probably when things had gotten so bad they were irreversible. Some who repented seem to have been spared- like Rahab and her family.

        But anyway.

        I would think class seems to matter perhaps more than it did in today’s world, and its interesting how you consider the white working class in America being most underprivileged of all. Historically, my basic point was that race seems to have been a convenient excuse in a way. The ruling classes in history would have tried to keep everyone in their place, and “white” people weren’t necessarily exempt. At least my side of the Atlantic…

        Here in the UK, the situation is a bit different from America at least as regards to affirmative action. We never had a slave class in the actual mother country itself, so there are fewer of the prejudices that plagued the American South back in the day (indeed, the attitudes of some white GIs towards black GIs stationed in the UK during WW2 shocked most Brits, and they were less comfortable with segregation). There is racism, though it is probably just as much xenophobia/immigrant phobia as anything (plus some Islamophobia due to a sizable South Asian Muslim contingient). People often claim immigrants are given preerential treatment to the ordinary working class or unemployed British people- some of which actually makes sense in the context that anyone from another EU country can live and work in any other- though most come to work, not live off benefits as is often claimed. So there is some sense that the traditional British working class (who are just as prone to job losses and, recently, quite harsh benefit reforms) are being disadvantaged.

      • April 19, 2014 7:35 pm


        You need not own a gun, be christian, think abortion is murder, or think LGBT is kind of yukkie to be labels a hate spewing racist extremist fear monger.

        I am labeled those things all the time. I have been labeled them here in the past.
        I do not own a gun – I merely support the rights of those who chose to.
        I am nominally christian at best.
        My views on Abortion math those of liberal legal lion of the left – Lawrence Tribe (also those of libertarian Walter Block).
        An extremely dispropotionate number of my friends are LGBT – you would almost think they are the majority from the groups I hang out in.
        I have zero problem with other peoples sexual orientation.

        But I beleive in individual liberty and limited government, so I must be a hate spewing racist extremist fear monger.

  2. March 2, 2014 9:55 pm

    Its all arbitrary bullshit. White, black, brown, whatever, I am tired it. Let’s all move on, shall we?

    Nice job, Rick, as usual. You have a gift, my friend.

    • March 3, 2014 9:17 am

      Thanks, Rich. I agree that our country is far too race-conscious, but the issue just refuses to go away. Every time some white crank shoots a black teenager, it turns into a racial firestorm.

      • March 3, 2014 9:27 am

        Yes, and when an “angry man of color” murders a white person, not a whiff of coverage or indignation. Talk about low expectations.

      • March 4, 2014 12:39 pm

        Absolutely. Who today remembers the punk who shot that 87-year-old veteran as he sat in his car? (Well, we do.) Or the one who shot a baby in his stroller because the mom couldn’t cough up enough loot?

        I used to think CNN was a politically neutral network, but it’s become clear that they’re driven by an agenda to prove that blacks get a raw deal in this country. From watching CNN, you’d never know that there’s more black-on-white crime than white-on-black crime. You’d think it was just the opposite.

        I do think blacks get a relatively raw deal once they’re rounded up by the authorities; they generally can’t afford good lawyers, and our prisons are hellholes. But I can’t stand the kind of reverse-racist distortions that I see in the news. I can almost feel my head explode.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 4, 2014 12:39 am

      jb..This is not arbitrary BS. It is well planned and well executed. Since MLK was killed and his movement taken over by the likes of Jackson, et al, the improvement of the black social standing has been repleced by the movement for the whites to “pay” for the bad things blacks went through during slavery. If the black leadership was really interested in their flock, they would never let the black community decline like they have since equal rights were gained. For years, families strived to see their kids achieve greater things than the parents. That does not seem to be what has happened in the black community since the 70’s and does not seem to be the message all the black leaders are communicating.

      • March 4, 2014 7:50 am

        Ron, I agree and that what was what I had in mind. These distinctions and divisions between people based on skin tone, ethnicity, place of origin are all social constructions made up by people who benefit by playing off human against human.

        Yes, the so-called black leaders in the US have led their “people” over the cliff.

        Shame on them and shame on many of us who have watched and said nothing for fear of being branded “racist.”

      • March 4, 2014 12:29 pm

        Ron/JB: There’s an unspoken rule in the black community that you don’t air “dirty laundry.” Therefore, it’s considered unacceptable for black leaders to point fingers at absentee fathers, unwed mothers, school dropouts, drug pushers and addicts, street thugs, pimps and “hos” and the gangsta rappers who glorify them. But if they don’t, who will? Bill Cosby heroically addressed the issue several years ago, but he was greeted with a kind of stunned silence. It’s so much easier to blame white people; your audience will cheer and give you unconditional support.

      • March 4, 2014 3:04 pm

        As Ted Cruz said recently, “I didn’t get elected to Congress to make 534 new friends. Sometimes you just have to piss the right people off.

        In Zen, an open hand on the side of the head can bring enligthenment (See Soto school of Zen).

      • Ron P permalink
        March 4, 2014 6:56 pm

        Rick, I understand the comment about dirty laundry. I also beleive the difference between a leader and a “pimp” is one where a leader makes it known to all far and wide what the conditions are like for his people and speaks loudly to whoever will listen and takes actions with whoever will help to make changes to those conditions. A “pimp” is one that takes advantage of the conditions that exist and uses those conditions to improve his standing in life without regard to the harm brought on others. MLK was a leader, Jackson, Sharpton, et,al are not leaders.

  3. March 2, 2014 9:56 pm

    PS-If it weren’t for the Brits, we might still see slavery flourishing all over the glove. Hats off to the Limeys.

    • March 3, 2014 9:19 am

      True, they abolished slavery before we did. Unfortunately, slavery is still alive and well in Africa, of all places. And the slave masters aren’t white.

      • March 3, 2014 9:29 am

        You are not allowed to point this out, my friend. That makes you a racist.

  4. Priscilla permalink
    March 3, 2014 12:21 pm

    Hear, hear, Rick. I’ve also been perplexed by our arbitrary twists and turns on what it means to be “Asian” Back in the day, I recall that anyone from Asia was Asian (silly me, I know). More recently, the term seems to be restricted to people from China, Japan, and Indonesia (although Indonesians are also sometimes referred to as Pacific Islanders). South Asian ethnic groups, such as Indians, don’t seem to be in the category any longer, although they are not Middle Easterners either.

    I often think that our obsession with color and ethnicity has totally confused the younger generation, many of whom are multi-racial/multi-ethnic. As you point out, one frequently is presented with the option of “checking the box” on application forms. What do you check if your mom is part Puerto-Rican and part Jewish, and your dad is Chinese? Or Mom is Indian and Dad is African?

    • Ron P permalink
      March 4, 2014 12:32 am

      Priscilla, great question. One person known to most everyone is Tiger Woods. 50% black and 50% Asian. I would imagine he checks “black”, but he might really be “other”. Not sure what the guidelines are for the actual percentage required to check one block or the other.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 4, 2014 10:52 am

      Ron, JB,
      Of course, as we all know, the problem is less about what box Tiger would check (one -drop theory would mandate “black,” as it always did with Barack Obama) but the fact that, for the last 40 years or so, we have defined racial and ethnic identification in a way that has led to us having to “check the box” in the first place. As so often happens, the “solution” to a problem (in this case,educational and job discrimination) has created an equal or greater problem of its own.

      An acquaintance of mine is a blonde-haired, blue eyed woman of Irish ancestry, married to a man of Spanish ancestry….that is, his ancestors (and I do mean ancestors, as he is at least 3rd or 4th generation American) are actually from Spain, not from Mexico or Cuba, etc. Both are highly educated and have good jobs. They have 2 sons, who both checked the box as “Hispanic” when they applied to college. Since their last name is a common Spanish surname, they felt confident that they could do this without colleges suspecting that they were trying to get an admissions advantage. One of the sons actually received a special scholarship available only to Hispanic students. Mind you, no one in this family even speaks Spanish.

      I don’t know how we roll this kind of thing back. I’m expecting that, shortly, there will be a box to check for LGBT, since the hysteria over gay marriage has been framed as a civil rights debate…… just all seems like such craziness.

      • March 4, 2014 11:56 am

        Alas, I think it might be too late to stuff this genie back into the bottle. Our society now sponsors and protects some groups (blacks, Hispanics, gays) while it marginalizes others (Christians, working-class whites). I’m getting tired of feeling like a villain because I don’t post an equal sign on my Facebook page or welcome the prospect of a Hispanic “Reconquista.” It’s not easy standing on the “wrong” side of history, but somebody has to do it because of our national tendency to get carried away.

    • March 4, 2014 12:21 pm

      Priscilla: The fashionable term “Asian” for the people we used to call “Oriental” has bothered me from the get-go. Asia is a huge continent that includes Turks, Armenians, Jews, Persians, Arabs, Indians, Russians, Kazakhs (like Borat) and dozens of other nationalities in addition to the ones who have appropriated the term “Asian.”

      I once asked an Australian friend of Chinese descent about the issue. I said “Oriental” might sound quaint, but I didn’t see anything offensive about it. She disagreed; she found the term offensive, just as blacks today find “Negro” offensive — even though it used to be the standard term for their race. (People can be so touchy about nomenclature!) Today I refer to them as East Asian to differentiate them from all those other Asians.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 4, 2014 2:13 pm

        Yeah…I refrain from saying “Oriental” now, too, for fear of the PC police. But, it is perplexing , since it is still in common use. There is a Chinese restaurant by me called the Orient Express, we still say “oriental rugs”, etc….. “Negro” is a term that is pretty much obsolete in all contexts, so I don’t entirely agree with the comparison.

        I suppose it has to do with 19th century imperialist attitudes about China and Southeast Asia, but, again, crumbling skeletons seem to be dictating our sensitivities.

  5. Ron P permalink
    March 4, 2014 12:29 am

    Rick, nioce article. . In some respects, the more we separate the individuals based on increasing numbers of sections of the world we increase the number of minorities in the USA and decrease the “whites” majority.

    But with the current administation’s positions taken by our government, you may be one of the lucky ones. We blood haired, blue eyed northern european descendants may not be so lucky. Case in point:

    Seems strange the position the administration has taken to deport an illegal european family that has lived here since 2008, but the same actions are not seen when it comes to the immigrants from south of us. Could it be this family was not seen as one that would become government dependant, while the ones the administration ignores finds future dependants in that group, as well as votes?

    • March 4, 2014 7:58 am

      Strange is a word for it.

      I for one find this world very strange. On a fairly routine basis, the Muslims in Sudan slaughter women and children by the dozens. Have you seen this in the US press? Has there been any outrage or action on the part of the administration? Any pressure or rage when black slaughters black in the name of Allah?

      Ah, no.

      Now, if a cake baker in AZ doesn’t want to partake in a gay wedding?

      Well, the end of the world is predicted and all hell is unleashed on Jan Brewer to stop this outrage!

      Security is important, we must bug every cell phone in the US.

      Southern border is open for all to enter? No problem.

      Up is down, sideways is backwards.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 4, 2014 7:11 pm

        jb,,We all know why the AZ law made headlines. Ot had nothing to do with gay rights or business rights. It had to do with the fact the GOP leaders are getting involved in social issues that are a minor blip on the “importance list” that allow the left to paint them as extremist idiots that want to put the LGBT gang “in chains” as Biden once said to a black group. It makes for great liberal media coverage and damages the GOP brand in the eyes of some moderates, thus changing votes.

        Why the GOP keeps jumping off the clift without any help from the left is beyond my comprehension. If someone was writing a script in self distruction of a political party, they could not do a better job than the GOP is doing themselves.

        At least Brewer put an end to it, even though it took her to long and let the story burn.

    • March 4, 2014 12:09 pm

      Thanks, Ron. I think there’s a concerted effort by minority activists to swell their ranks. For example, if they can detach Middle Easterners from the great white bloc and shuttle them over to the minority nonwhite bloc, they’ll achieve majority status that much sooner. And JB, of course these same activists will be pushing for open borders for the same reason. I’m really not looking forward to the trajectory this country will take when whites become a minority. Again, I’m standing on the wrong side of history… but so be it.

      • March 4, 2014 2:01 pm

        I don’t think you are standing on the “wrong side of history.” Culture matters, big time. If the so-called black culture was “working” black americans would have very little gripe about. Having been sold a bill of goods by the likes of Jesse Jackson and the democratic party, they are reaping the fruits of that strategy.

        Sadly, all they seem to see is their lot and why someone else did it to them. See Spike Lee for the details.

        More’s the pity.

  6. March 4, 2014 12:36 am

    Rick, I thoroughly enjoyed your creative writing (some satire + some not).

    I just read your “Mission” and am happy to have found your website.

    • March 4, 2014 11:44 am

      Thanks, KP. Welcome to our (mostly) sane little corner of the Web.

      • March 5, 2014 12:45 am

        I expect it is an expanding corner. Perhaps, a political endurance corner.

        “You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end.”

        Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes:

        “Everybody has to be someplace”.

  7. March 5, 2014 12:50 am

    Today, being a moderate is a challenging, thoughtful place to be. Keep On Truckin’ …

    • Ron P permalink
      March 5, 2014 12:32 pm

      KP..You will find that those of us on this site are usually nice to each other, but do disagree from time to time. The difference between here and other so called moderate sites is we seem to play nice where on other sites if you are not considered liberal or conservative enough you are called all sorts of negative names.

      Now that does not mean it does not happen and sometimes we will see children being children, but for the most part we seem to be more accepting of others positions compared to other places we can go to spout off.


      • March 5, 2014 12:50 pm

        Much appreciated, Ron P.

  8. March 7, 2014 1:35 pm

    Wow, the conversation has ground to a halt. Does that mean I have to write a new column already?

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 7, 2014 2:15 pm

      We are overwhelmed with agreement 😉

      • March 7, 2014 4:45 pm

        That has to be a first. Maybe I should post my column on my black activist friend’s FB page. He’s a Yale-educated author from an upper-middle class background who’s always going on about “white privilege” and related issues. On second thought, maybe I’ll just enjoy the peace and quiet.

      • March 7, 2014 5:53 pm

        Better yet, get your black friend to post directly. I LOVE to work over “activists!”

      • March 7, 2014 6:34 pm

        He has about 3000 Facebook “friends,” nearly all of whom are in his amen corner. They probably wouldn’t give me a moment’s peace, and I don’t need the extra headaches. (Plus he lives in my neighborhood; I don’t want to start a war with him and his “friends.”)

        He’s an otherwise nice guy, but I think he has an obsession with the antebellum-era white rapists who account for his family’s light skin. (Ironically, that light skin probably helped give his family its elite status in the black community.) His entire world-view seems to be colored by resentment at what whites have done to blacks over the years. There’s no escaping the guilt as long as we’re white. (Of course, I just engineered my escape by declaring myself a “former white guy” in this column.)

      • Ron P permalink
        March 7, 2014 6:52 pm

        Rick, he may have a point in his blaming the whites for the blacks problems. There have not been many blacks that we can blame for the social programs that have caused the decline in the black families, the decline in the education system in America that results in uneducated individuals graduating from school, the increased drug use in inner city communities and a host of other declines in American values since the 60’s. White’s, for the most part, have been the majority ruling race when all these programs were developed, so I might have to agree with him in this respect.

        But it would be nice to hear him debate Dr. Ben Carson who also grew up poor in the inner city where his mom worked multiple jobs.

      • March 7, 2014 6:55 pm

        Well, there you go again! Some whites might be more accurate but not all. Moreover, there were plenty of so-called black leaders at the head of the line back in the 60s.
        We can start confronting these gross generalizations right now, if we want to.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 7, 2014 7:05 pm

        Yes, you are right. Not all Whites are to blame. I was generalizing. May I change that to the whites in government who have designed and passed programs that have distroyed the central fabric of black families and the education system of our country. Is that a reasonable statement? That is what I was trying to say before accusing all whites for the plight they now indure. I apologize.

        And if it were not for these programs, would the black leaders today be able to take advantage of their people for their own financial gains and little else? Would these people still be in the position they are in or would there be someone more like MLK leading that group?

  9. March 7, 2014 6:53 pm

    It is sad, really, He is still enslaved, even though he doesn’t know it.
    The best thing to do is move on, as he will likely never change.

    I don’t know what its like to relate to myself as other than, well me. My sense of “identification” with color, ethnicity, groups, history, clubs, interest groups is very limited indeed.

    I guess I must be missing something?

  10. March 7, 2014 7:34 pm

    It’s a double-edged sword. White people are enslaved by this attitude because they can never escape the guilt (or at least the accusations) as long as they’re white. Black people are enslaved because they’ve cast themselves as perennial victims.

    It’s a safe bet that my activist friend doesn’t blame the government for going overboard in making blacks dependent on the state. If anything, he probably wants more government programs. But here’s where he’s different from the typical white-bashing black activist: I think he believes in capitalism, and that capitalism has the potential to deliver black people from their underclass status.

    The catch is that he also believes black capitalists are disadvantaged by lack of connections, racism, inability to raise capital from the usual sources, and so on. So there’s always the grievance element. Still, he might be onto something here: I’m sure blacks (at least inner-city blacks) have a harder time getting off the ground than the rest of us do. (Of course, poor whites face a lot of the same problems.)

    I haven’t read the guy’s book (“Invisible Capital”),but I think that’s his thesis. I hope he proposed some solutions, at least.

    • March 7, 2014 11:13 pm

      As Thomas Sowell so aptly puts it: “The only color that capitalism cares about is green!”
      That is true meritocracy!

      PS-the reason inner city blacks (or any color) have problems getting capital is risk. If the risk of a return in inner city Detroit is higher than say, suburban Detroit. the return MUST be commensurate with that risk, or no capital will flow in there, at least willingly.

      So, when a grocer decides to go “downtown: they MUST charge higher prices than they would in the burbs.

      How hard is this to understand?

  11. Priscilla permalink
    March 8, 2014 9:06 am

    What makes me crazy about this racism BS (and I am not saying that racism, per se, is BS, just the phony racism of our current political culture) – is that it hurts the very people that it purports to be defending, and it ignores the realities of true success and true failure.

    So, we now have the openly leftist mayor of New York, elected in large part, because he is a white man married to a black woman, announcing that he will close charter schools in the city (3 in Harlem alone), because they are supported by rich white people. The black and white, rich and poor thing is just a demagogic scam…the real reason he is doing this is because he is beholden to the teachers union, which views the charter school movement as a private sector threat to their continued stranglehold on education. Evil, racist capitalism encroaching on the PC socialist paradise of the NYC public school system, doncha know?

    Maintaining the illusion that racism is endemic in American society is absolutely necessary for these people to stay in power.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 8, 2014 1:19 pm

      Priscilla, you are right on. This is exactly what I was trying to point out when I previously said whites can be blamed for many of the problems and I was called out on it by Jbastiat because I was generalizing.

      You say “Maintaining the illusion that racism is endemic in American society is absolutely necessary for these people to stay in power”, is in agreement with my statement “if it were not for these programs, would the black leaders today be able to take advantage of their people for their own financial gains and little else?” I was wrong in just pointing out black leaders as this is promoted by what you call the “PC socialist paradise”. I would just point out that the PC socialist paradise is not limited to NYC, but NYC is just the focal point of the movement due to the current mayor in charge.

      But it does seem to me we agree that the way the liberals are adressing the problems only go to perpetuate the problem and not fix the problem.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 9, 2014 10:11 am

        We most certainly agree on this, Ron. And ironically, I think that liberals have made racism, worse in many ways, because racism is all they’ve got. A while ago, I watched a clip of Morgan Freeman on Piers Morgan. He was bemoaning the fact that the Obama presidency has made racism worse, because it caused the Tea Party to rise up as a group to “get this black man outta here.”

        Seriously?? I mean, you can criticize the Tea Party for a lot of things, but simplemindedly writing them off as a 21st century version of the KKK is just ignoring the real problems that we have.

        But it does keep us focusing on racism instead of debating solutions …..which is, after all, the point.

      • March 9, 2014 11:00 am

        It is indeed sad. Seriously, can anyone be so self-deluded as to think the only issue Americans have with Obama is his skin color?

        Is not Allen West a member of the Tea Party? If it were that simple (skin color) West would not be allowed on the same block as other members of the Tea Party.

        This is simply a lack of clear thought and a reliance on affinity with skin tone. THAT is racism.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 9, 2014 12:13 pm

        Priscilla, I think one of the problems today is everyone is labeled into pigeon holes like “liberal”, “tea party”, “socialist”, etc. And not everyone can be put into one of these categories. The vast majority of Americans can have views that are accepted by liberals on social issues and by tea party members on taxes and spending. To say the tea party rose up to get the black man otta here is nonsense. The tea party originally began to get politicians (including the black man) outta here that would not reign in spending and reduce taxes. It was not based on race. It then was taken over by others that made other issues a main poltical agenda item which allows liberals like Freeman to make stupid comments like he did.

        But there are a vast number of people that will believe his comments. Sadly, more will beleive him than will believe Bill Cosby.

      • March 9, 2014 12:38 pm

        I know of no one who has “taken over the Tea Party” You keep saying that, but I don’t see any sign of it. In fact, when I posted the TP platform a month or so ago, you walked back statements that you had made about the TP.

        Be careful of your generalizations, Ron. You make a number of statements that lump many “groups” together. Most “groups” are nothing of the sort, but are simply created in language by media types who don’t know any better.

        And for the record, while you continue to assert the vast majority of Americans are “socially liberal” there are plenty of data to suggest that on individual issues, they are not.

        Abortion is one. Lastly, as we have seen with Obamacare, it is very easy to be “socially liberal” in the abstract. Once you see who is paying for this attitude and how much we are paying, those ‘attitudes” change pretty quickly.

        In the abstract, I want a new Lexus.. That said, I haven’t gone down to the dealer with my checkbook. The old one looks quite fine, all things considered.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 9, 2014 7:13 pm

        OK here is some information concerning the Tea party that indicates to me this movement began based on taxes and spending. I believe in 2009 by Rick Santelli as the primary organizer.

        At the time the Tea Party movement began, not too many prominant politicians were identified with that movement until TARP and the Stimulus took place. That’s when it became a larger part of politics.
        Am I right or wrong on this point?

        Now the indications for me is the spokespersons for the tea party movement or those that have a high profile for the tea party movement is Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Sara Palin. All of these individuals have made it clear in a number of speeches that social issues are a conservative position that should not be compromised. There are other politicians that are part of this movement, but not in the news as much as these individuals.
        Am I right or wrong on this point?

        Last point. Many of the polls by Rasmussen (used this one as they seem to be more objective than Gallup) indicates that about 30% of individuals are liberal on social values and 30% consider themselves moderates on social values. Only 37% consider themsleves conservative. That is a 60% to 37% moderate or liberal to conservative margin. And only 31% view the tea party movement favorably,
        Do you have information that is significantly different than these numbers? If Americans are more conservative, why wouldn’t the favorable rating for that movement be much higher?
        Can you provide information that indicates why Angle lost in Nevada, McDonnell lost in DE, the bozo lost in Indiana if the majority of Americans support the tea party movement.?

      • March 9, 2014 7:15 pm

        I will get back to you on the rest of your “argument.”

        However, I never said, nor implied the following:

        “the majority of Americans support the tea party movement.?”

      • Ron P permalink
        March 9, 2014 11:47 pm

        This is what is wrong with the written word compared to the spoken word. When written, assumptions are made that are wrong. You said ” And for the record, while you continue to assert the vast majority of Americans are “socially liberal” there are plenty of data to suggest that on individual issues, they are not.” So I took that to mean if one was not socially liberal, then they are conservative and supporters of the Tea Party. And that is incorrect. If we were talking that would be very apparant as I would have taken the time to expand my comment which is harder to do on sites like this.

        So here is my position and maybe that will end this discussion. I believe that (in rounded numbers) that 30% of Americans are very liberal, believe in gay marriage, abortion and all the other liberal social issues, believe that government spending is good, taxes on the rich is good and government funding of green projects is good. They support all entitlement programs and want the military spending cut instead of food stamps.Then another 30% is 100% opposite those beliefs and are strict conservatives. That leave 40% that believe in some of those issues while not the others. Many want spending controlled, but not to the point that many conservatives desire, taxes reduced but not as much as the conservatives,ie fiscal issues based on Bowles Simpson, gay marriage approved and abortion controlled, but not completely eliminated and some of the other social issues. Unlike the 30% of liberals, many (but not all) in this group do not support Obamacare

        So when I say the majority of Americans are fiscal conservative and social liberal, I include the 30% conservatives and the 40% that accept some government control of social issues, and modified spending/tax changes but not all. And many of the articles I read support these positions.

        Maybe we can put this to rest now and I will try to take care in generalizations without
        including footnotes to support those thoughts.

      • March 10, 2014 7:54 am

        Fair enough. Simply understand that one can “be OK” with gay marriage (I am, sort of) and yet be totally against abortion. Does that make me “socially liberal?”

        Not really. So, these polls are suggestive of a certain set of patterns. I would be that as you go down the line of issues, you see quite a bit of variation and certainly in the intensity of those positions.

        And, once again, asking people where they stand on issues for which they have no skin in the game is not all that predictive.

        To wit: The liberal couple whose daughter bring home a Muslim or black boyfriend. That scenario is a real test of how “socially liberal” they really are.

        Enough on this.

  12. Priscilla permalink
    March 10, 2014 10:28 am

    Ron and JB, both of you make very important points in the whole debate on social liberalism. I agree with Ron that, in general, American social attitudes have “liberalized,” especially on gay marriage and marijuana. Attitudes on abortion has probably stayed the same, for at least the last 50 years, and I think that attitudes on gun rights may actually have shifted slightly to the more conservative side. (These are my purely unscientific observations, btw)

    On the other hand, the extent to which people are “ok” with social change, is, as JB observes, not very consistent. So, Alec Baldwin, a liberal celebrity (but I repeat myself), is prone to using gay slurs when he is enraged at photographers, Leonardo DiCaprio recently said that he “flies around the world” trying to do good for the environment, and Spike Lee, who lives on the Upper East Side, is offended by white people moving into Harlem.

    Clueless, indeed, but I think that many non-celebrities are equally clueless. The problem, I think, is that these clueless attitudes affect voting behavior. People routinely use socially liberal litmus tests to decide on which candidate they will vote for – or worse, simply vote based on the color of the candidate’s skin (or his wife’s skin, as in the case of DiBlasio).

    I’m not sure how we get past this, if we even can. But it presents a real dilemma for the GOP, because its base often displays a zero-tolerance attitude towards candidates who have any socially liberal positions.

  13. Anonymous permalink
    March 10, 2014 2:14 pm

    Good post, Rick.

    Recently, I had a test done on the collective provenance of my DNA. A great deal of me comes from central Europe, some from Africa, a surprising amount from Scandinavia, and even more surprising, tidbits from just about everywhere else. Apparently I’m everyone’s cousin. So why aren’t birthdays and Christmas more fruitful?

    Anyway, I haven’t much to add in concurrence to your or any of the commentors’ positions. As a reluctant liberal (if only in the technical sense; and even that might be questionable), the race-baiting, ethnicity-obsessed messages that the left sends so blindly and loudly are embarrassing to say the least. As suggested above, liberals often chastise conservatives for living in the past, and yet don’t see the irony in harping on racial attitudes that are for the most part in modern Western culture unacceptable. You centered on the biggest reason, as well, Rick: Guilt. Whether that’s Old Testament-ingrained, or new wave collectivism-inspired, I don’t know, and it’s beside the point. Of course racism still exists, and will always—it’s naive to think otherwise—but our culture has done a relatively good job attempting to deal with it. It’s a shame that fact isn’t acknowledged by self-appointed social gurus.

    Now here’s where I contradict you guys.

    Well, not so much contradict as caution. The sentiments here, quite honestly, come close to the very ideology of Victimhood they claim to decry. Not dangerously close, at least not yet. But that’s within sight.

    Ladies and gentlemen, be careful.

    It’s pretty cushy for us here in modern times, which gives rise to such oblivious idealism. There’s a difference between not being conscripted to the past and completely forgetting it. The attitudes concerning racism by the crusading liberal left are often inexcusable, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t understandable. It’s easy for us to say “Oh it’s not like that anymore. Quit whining.” And it’s therefore very easy to slip into that exact behavior. A minority (like myself) who might sit around and complain that “whitey keeps me down” should not be tolerated. But a white person claiming the mirror effect due to the mechanism of “liberalization” or “the liberal mainstream media” is most certainly not acceptable. Once again, I’m not necessarily saying that you, Rick, and the lot are doing so.

    But the slope is there. Watch it as we travel this road, and watch it closely.

    • March 10, 2014 2:16 pm

      Oh, and that anonymous is sicklygreyfoot here. Forgot to sign in.

    • March 10, 2014 3:52 pm

      “A minority (like myself) who might sit around and complain that “whitey keeps me down” should not be tolerated. But a white person claiming the mirror effect due to the mechanism of “liberalization” or “the liberal mainstream media” is most certainly not acceptable.”

      No one, is “keeping anyone down” at least not here.

      The not whinning RX is one I recommend.

      Get working, its a jungle out there.

      • March 10, 2014 4:03 pm

        To clarify, I don’t sit around and whine. “Like myself” refers to my being a minority. I perhaps should have been clearer on that.

      • March 10, 2014 6:23 pm

        Got it. I didn’t consider your post as whining.

  14. Priscilla permalink
    March 10, 2014 10:33 pm

    sgf, I think that your point is well taken. The whole ‘reverse discrimination’ stuff – whether true or not – can quickly become tiresome and pointless. I think that most of us here have agreed, at one time or another, that racism and discrimination are always going to exist in some form….in fact, I think that Roby and I had a discussion of the perils of victimhood in the comments section of Rick’s last post.

    It is indeed a slippery slope…there are very few ethnic or religious groups who have escaped some form of suffering, and the temptation is strong to up the ante of victimhood, rather than reconcile past suffering with present reality.

  15. Priscilla permalink
    March 11, 2014 9:25 am

    Excellent column by Thomas Sowell, JB. Peggy Noonan also wrote an excellent column on the NYC charter school issue, “The Ideologue vs. the Children.”

    She writes “On Thursday Mr. de Blasio went on a sympathetic radio station and couldn’t have been clearer about what is driving his actions. Charter schools may help the poor and those just starting out in America, they may give options to kids who’ve floundered elsewhere, but a lot of them are supported by rich people. There is a “strong private-sector element” in their funding, he said.” Rich = Evil. That is the message.

    To sgf’s point, I don’t think that this is a case of Sowell or Noonan whining or engaging in a sort of “battle of victims,” but rather pointing out that the minority community in NYC is being hurt by the very leaders that they have supported.

    • March 11, 2014 10:53 am

      Indeed! Pointing out the left’s hypocrisy and errors is hardly “Whining.”

      DeBlasio seems seriously immature to me. Is this guy an adult or a teen age boy, with all his bluster and self-assurance?

      It is not very becoming to believe in your own infallibility.

  16. March 15, 2014 9:19 am

    This is apparently a case where the POTUS and AG would like the criminal justice system to go lightly on the penalties. You know, he is a person of color and we need to consider that when sentencing.


    • Ron P permalink
      March 15, 2014 12:00 pm

      How about getting the same lawyer and psychologist to defend him like they did the white “affluenza” teen. Must be some loophole they could find for this one also. I hate to say it, but if this one makes it to a capital case and the white kid got probation, I would have to lean toward Texas law having two standards. One, they forgot to enforce the law and the other is overkill.

      • March 15, 2014 1:29 pm

        I don’t know that other case. This guy is a lifelong loser. Why would we not make this capital murder? He was running from the cops and ran over a bunch of pedestrians.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 15, 2014 11:29 pm

        Hard to beleive you have not heard about the Affluenza kid that got drunk as a skunk, drove his car, got in an accident and killed 4 people. His defense blamed it on his parents that never set limits (he did not know it was wrong!) because they were rich. So the lawyer blamed his money and his parents for his driving drunk and killing the 4 people. Instead of getting jail time, he got probation and rehab. So maybe the same lawyers can blame this guys parents for not teaching him not to run from cops (or maybe teaching him to run from cops) that caused him to run over people.

        If it works for the rich white kid, then it should work for the poor black kid. But that won’t happen since there is a proven record that blacks are convicted at a hirer rate than whites, much due to the fact that whites can afford much better representation.
        They both need to be locked up using the same sentencing standards. You kill someone or injure someone, you get jail time no matter if you are white or black.

      • March 16, 2014 7:42 am

        Black or white, the affluence case is sickening. Relative morality at its finest, brought to you by liberal judges across the land.

        Hey, when the POTUS calls a pregnancy a “mistake” that needs to be erased, well, what is a few dead pedestrians?

      • Ron P permalink
        March 16, 2014 11:32 am

        Each succeeding generation brings with it fewer moral values than the preceeding generation. One can see that when reviewing history when going back 200+ years to see where we were then compared to now. We can only hope that some shift will occur in the future generations that will reverse some of the mistakes our generation(s) has/have made over the past 50+ years. We can no longer expect our justice system to be a neutral third party in ruling on laws based on cases like the affluence case, the OJ case, the Anthony case and many others where judges and juries have allowed race to rule instead of facts. What we should expect, no matter the race of the individual, is if you do harm to me or mine, then you should pay for that harm. Suspended sentences and rehab are not paying.

  17. March 16, 2014 12:38 pm

    I agree 100% with your statement.

    Sadly, the POTUS and the AG do not!

  18. Priscilla permalink
    March 17, 2014 8:42 am

    Don’t know if you’re still listening (reading) in, Rick, but get a load of this article from Saturday’s Salon: “How did Irish Americans get so Disgusting?” Actually, maybe I shouldn’t even include a link, encourages traffic to an idiotic online publication……but, what the heck

    Ok, so the accompanying pictures to the article are of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, two Irish Americans, and the piece is a sort of declaration of the Irish-American writer’ s embarrassment over his whiteness and ethnic roots – or, rather, his dismay over the fact that Irish-Americans have ceased being “ethnic” and are now just generic, racist white people.

    It is pretty damn offensive, but that is not my point. How the hell did we get to a place where this can be considered a serious piece of writing?

    And where writers like this idiot get published by Salon, and your stuff does not?

    • March 17, 2014 8:53 am

      With Rick’s obvious skills, he is virtually unemployable as a commentator. Clearly, the only thing to do is hang out here, with brilliant minds who appreciate his talents.

      I am one quarter Irish, owing to my sweet grandmother. I am happy to be part Irish. I didn’t say “proud” because I had nothing to do with my becoming Irish. Overall, I don’t think these references to one’s group help in any way. Should I label myself a “proud white man?”

      Proud of what? Now, when I win the Nobel Prize, well then, I can be a tiny bit proud, can’t I?

      I never understood the whole “gay” pride thing. Should one really be proud that you are having sex with someone? Isn’t that sort of a common thing in life.

      “Hey, look, I had coffee this morning. I am so proud of myself.”

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 17, 2014 9:11 am

        You’re right, JB, the gay thing is just ridiculous…..the idea of being “proud” of your sexual orientation is bizarre.

        And let us not forget the “Fat Pride” movement.

      • March 17, 2014 10:41 am

        Is there little ego strength in America that we need to all belong to “groups” and then be proud. If I am overweight (obese) is that something to identify and feel good or bad about?

        It just means I am fat and may have some work to do if I want to regain my health and avoid an early death. How does this become a victim/support group dynamic?

        Well, hey, I am 64 now so I guess I have to join a group for old white guys?

      • March 18, 2014 9:00 am

        JB: I haven’t tried to get published lately (other than cross-posting my stuff at The Moderate Voice). But if I did, I’d have to play it safe and not say anything like the last paragraph of my response to Priscilla below. That would be easy enough, but I’d still feel muzzled. Maybe I should try anyway.

      • March 18, 2014 9:57 am

        I think you can pull it off, you have the right stuff.

        Me, I am WAY too direct and that is both a strength or a weakness, depending on the context.

        Best of luck, old buddy!

    • March 18, 2014 8:47 am

      Priscilla: I thought it was a provocative and well-written article, although its agenda is pretty clear. The author isn’t expressing typical white guilt; he’s distancing himself from those “other” (read “unenlightened conservative”) Irish Americans — the kind of religious, lower-middle class white ethnics that the Huffington Post crowd finds offensive to their urbane sensibilities. He’s like a first-generation college graduate who’s ashamed of the scruffy parents who put him through college, and now he’s trying to ingratiate himself with his educated peers by holding his nose the way they do.

      Now, he’s not ashamed of being Irish — quite the contrary. But he sees the Hannitys and O’Reillys as representatives of a debased, watered-down American brand of Irishness that betrays the Emerald Isle’s long history of literary genius and anti-establishment politics.

      Of course, nobody would be able to publish an article called “How Did Jewish Americans (or African Americans, or gay Americans) Become So Disgusting?” — even if they were written by members of those groups. Remember, America is made up of protected and unprotected groups. Heterosexual white gentiles fall into the latter category.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 18, 2014 9:14 am

        Heh, you are right on with that example of the first-generation college graduate. Of course, the irony abounds, since it is often now the more conservative and moderate points of view that are anti-establishment, at least in academia and politics.

        Salon writers are often provocative, but not in the way that encourages thoughtful reconsideration…..more the like red meat to the true believers.

      • March 18, 2014 12:15 pm

        Sometimes I think a lot of American progressives today are essentially social climbers who know that progressive views (especially on social issues) are an upper-middle class identifier. It’s a kind of high-end herd mentality. They sip their Chardonnay together while watching MSNBC or laughing at Jon Stewart’s clever takedown of another conservative numskull. To me, the supreme irony of today’s left is the assumption of cultural and intellectual superiority over the lower-middle class conservatives. There was a time when the left was personified by a burly laboring man shaking his fist at a banker. Well, I guess they still shake their fists at bankers, but the people doing the fist-shaking would be unrecognizable to the old-time laboring man.

      • March 18, 2014 6:39 pm

        You are starting to sound a bit like me, old buddy.

        No wonder I agree with every word you said.

  19. March 18, 2014 9:19 pm

    JB: If we were Venn diagrams, our circles would definitely intersect on most social issues. We both hate double standards (for me it’s that “fairness” thing that we used to argue about — if I think something is unfair, I feel compelled to call it out). Both of us are probably fed up with being at the receiving end of social/racial/gender grievances over the past 40+ years. (That’s a LONG time to be taking grief.) And we both see that high-minded progressive social programs, however well-intentioned, can do more harm than good — as witnessed by the alarming collapse of the inner-city black community since the Great Society years. On top of that, there’s the moral rot seeping into society through our cheapened mass culture… plus the sniffish attitudes of the “Left Coast” set toward anyone who strays off the PC reservation. Yep, we have plenty of common ground.

    • March 18, 2014 10:12 pm

      I would agree with all of that, big guy. I guess we have a somewhat common experience?

      And, all that said, I totally enjoyed our experience at the last HS reunion. It was a blast.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 20, 2014 12:15 pm

      If you look at Rand Pauls positions on issues, he is not that far off from the “old guard”. He beleives in a blanced budget, reduced spending, free market policies for corporations, against all abortions (Received a 100% rating from the national right to life committee)opposes same sex marriage, opposes gun control, and opposes most immigration reform including the 14th amendment that allows for citizenship for kids of illegal immigrants.

      The only thing that he is in opposition to the main stream GOP is the NSA and national spying. When it comes to a choice by the younger voters that are much more moderate to liberal in social issues, it will be interesting to see how they choose between a candidate that is a social conservative and one that accepts tighter national security programs like the Patriot Act.

      Now compare him to the more liberal to moderates in the party that try to swing right of center in the primaries and you might find more contrast, or if you compare him to the father, you will find his father was much more a libertarian than Rand Paul. Much of the following that Radn Paul has today might just be carry over from his fathers campaign, but once the differences come to light, that support may falter.

      • March 20, 2014 12:27 pm

        Actually, I think Rand and Ted Cruz are more “electable” than you think, especially if we can actually stop illegals from voting.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 20, 2014 6:00 pm

        That could be. I would like to have a crystal ball to know how many 18-30 year old voters would vote if Hillary was running against one of those two individuals. From all the comments I hear from my family (close and extended both), the ones just starting out with new families and those not married yet place the privacy issues at the top of their things that are important. They despise government interference, either in the NSA or the social arena. Healthcare and economic issues are secondary to those issues. And all are college graduates from working families, military or professional families. None come with a militia mentality you may find in the back woods or moonshine counties.

        Also realize that all of these individuals are southern born and bred, so their issues with government involvement in private lives may be much different than those of the younger voter in the north, midwest or west. Those individuals from that part of the country may be more open to government involvement in their lives. Heck, towns around these parts have made traffic cameras illegal for the most part. Can’t get much more anti government involvement than that.

  20. Priscilla permalink
    March 20, 2014 12:23 pm

    I like Rand Paul a lot, even though I would prefer a governor to a senator as our next POTUS. I just hope that Rand is not electorally “kneecapped” by his father, who seems to be unable to restrain himself from making controversial remarks on immigration and foreign policy that the son must then answer for, even though he has said many times that he does not agree with Ron on all issues.

    • March 20, 2014 12:28 pm

      I think Ron is dead on regarding Ukraine. We should keep our noses way out of that one.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 20, 2014 12:39 pm

        Well, then we shouldn’t go around shooting off our mouths about bringing Ukraine into NATO as we did a few years back (2008? 2009?) Or, for that matter, signaling support for any sovereign nation under threat of military aggression by a major power.

      • March 20, 2014 2:00 pm

        I will disagree with you on this count. The Crimean Parl voted to hold a referendum which was appoved by 95% of the voters, to suceede. for Ukraine after a mob chased the President of UK out of the country.

        This does not sound like an invasion to me, more like an invitation.

        You are right about not shooting our mouths off. No more dead American GIs because McCain has bug up his ass.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 20, 2014 3:31 pm

        Eh, I regard that referendum vote with about the same credibility that I would accord the Austrian plebiscite that approved the Anschluss. Russian tanks and troops were already occupying the region (to “protect” ethnic Russians, don’cha know?) and the referendum ballot did not even give Crimean voters the option of voting to stay a part of Ukraine – which they had voted to do in the 90’s….the 2 options were 1) become independent or 2) become part of Russia. Come on. I understand the argument that perhaps – PERHAPS- a majority of Crimeans wanted to secede from Ukraine. But this was certainly not the way to find out.

        Anyway, just to be clear, I don’t think we can or should do anything to militarily intervene in Ukraine. But our lack of a clear foreign policy on this has opened the door to an imperialist minded dictator, and we’d be wise to get our ducks in a row damn fast, as far as being clear on what is in our national interest and what we will not tolerate. I’d like to see us finally fulfill our promise to Poland to help them build a missile defense system. That is not aggressive, but it would show our commitment to a NATO ally and also that we are no longer buying Putin’s BS. Stop our whining and start carrying that big stick.

      • March 20, 2014 3:46 pm

        We will disagree on this point. The US has no strategic imperative in making sure every country on Earth is protected from Mother Russia or anyone else for that matter. We do agree that we SHOULD be postioned such that if we or anyone else that we deem so protected, suffers aggression, the costs would be simply not worth it. In other words, while I would love to be respected and feared, I will take fear if that is all we can get.

        If Putin were facing say Reagan, I think he would think twice about this type of an action.

        That is clearly NOT where we are now and I put that directly on Team Obama’s shoulders. As we used to say in the projects, never make a threat unless you are willing and able to carry it out.

        Obama is a putz. As far as the Crimeans are concerned, I would be very surprised if they really want to be part of that clown act in Kiev.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 20, 2014 6:08 pm

        JB you are right about Ukraine. That is a European problem and if European countries are not willing to sacrifice to help Ukraine, then that will be the outcome. We can support Europe, but we can not be the worlds watchdog any longer. All the treaties we made 60 years ago to limit foreign country militaries need to be revised or cancelled.They can pay to protect themselves, just like Japan should have their own military and protect the southeast Pacific area.

        I also agree that B.O. has done nothing but harm to the US since all he does is run his mouth and does not followup rhetoric with actions. Ronald regan was ready to put into actions things to support his speech. B.O. has no idea what to do once the opposition does not respond favorably to his running off at the mouth.

      • March 21, 2014 9:17 am

        You have nailed it my friend.

      • March 21, 2014 9:32 am

        The administration whines about the plight of the Ukraine people. Not a word on this issue:

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 20, 2014 11:46 pm

        A couple of things: first, re-reading my last comment, I hope that you didn’t think that the “stop whining” remark was directed at you, JB! Not a whiny bone in your body, at least that I can tell.

        But, I am confused by both you and Ron, when it comes to this: what do you think the US response should be to an armed imperialist aggression? Or are we simply going to pretend that that is not what the Crimean invasion was?

        Again, I DO NOT advocate military action here….but nothing?

        And what about our military alliances? When we agreed to help build a missile defense system for Poland, which they wanted, was that interfering with “Mother Russia”?

        Listen, I am as disgusted and disdainful as anyone with the “Speak loudly and carry a little Q-tip” foreign policy of the Obama administration. But are any displays of strength “interventionist” in your opinion?

      • March 21, 2014 9:15 am

        No, P, not at all on the whiny thing.

        I think the Crimean issue is complex and from what I can gather, the US media as been pushing it all one way (at least NPR and Fox are together on this one).

        They portray this as evidence that Putin wants to rebuild the USSR and this is step #1 (or 2 if you look at Georgia).

        I don’t see it that way. Yes, Putin is a brute and he has ambitions. Yes, Obama is very weak and stupid and I think Putin sees that he has a window of opportunity as long as Obama is around. That said, I do think Putin is a capitalist through and through and is not interested in reinstalling Communism. I think he wants access to a seaport to the south and sees this as a way to insure that access.

        The deposing of the Ukraine President and the US’ immediate recognition of this overthrow troubles me no end. How can the US (of all countries) act horrified when the Crimean parliament votes to get out of dodge? Then, they have an election and 95% of the Crimeans say they want to move next door.

        Well, the US’ response is to simply declare the election a sham and declare the actions of the Crimeans as invalid. What about our commitment to “self-determinism?

        This is from a country that invaded Iraq because we wanted to? We cite so-called international law when it suits our fancy and then disregard when it does not.

        Seriously, I find these actions hypocritical at best.

        BTW-what exactly did Obama think he was doing when he pulled the plug on the missile defense system that we had promised to build? Did he not think there might be issues down the road where the system might have provided leverage?

        What a Putz.

        Anyway, I am back to this position. Not one dime, not one US military life.

        If Europe wants to be a “real country” (the EU) then it has to belly up to the bar and stop the thug who is causing trouble at its border. Doesn’t Germany and France have militaries and money?

        If so, they can carry the ball on this one.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 20, 2014 12:29 pm

      And you are right, Ron, some of his hardcore libertarian support may fall off, once he disavows some of his Dad’s positions. Although, I think that that has already happened, at least in large part.

      Btw, I have always wondered if it is just coincidence that your screen name is Ron P?

      • Ron P permalink
        March 20, 2014 6:10 pm

        Well I never though of Ron P in this way, but sorry to burst your bubble, I am not the “P” that is in politics.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 20, 2014 11:33 pm

        Ah, well, I like your ideas anyway 😉

  21. Priscilla permalink
    March 21, 2014 10:39 am

    We agree in larger part, JB/Ron…..I see the two of you as somewhat more isolationist than I, but, truth be told, I would gladly be an isolationist, if I did not believe that, ultimately, the United States is the only world power that has enough leverage to influence the course of world events in a way that would prevent dictators like Assad, Putin and the Iranian mullahs from believing that they can continually up the ante of imperialism, violence, and repression. Oh, right, and China….

    As both of you (and pretty much everyone) have noted, Obama’s meaningless bluster is so transparent at this point….well, it may be the only transparent thing about his administration. But, without any deterrents, tyrants will always up the ante – that is the lesson of history. And, the Europeans, bless their little hearts, do not strike much fear in the hearts of anyone, and certainly not a thug like Vlad.

    It is a scary world, and will become scarier indeed when Iran acquires the nukes that it has promised to use. There may be no viable solutions or deterrents at this point, but it certainly seems that we agree on what NOT to do – which is to keep blathering on about “red lines” and then backing down.

    • March 21, 2014 12:29 pm

      For the record, if I were POTUS, I would have told Israel to unleash hell upon Iran’s nukes and would have had their back all the way.

      I would have told him that in 2009, when we had PLENTY of troops and equipment in the ME to back up my assurances.

      I would have told the Mullahs the same thing. You disarm or there will nowhere to hide.

      Don’t confuse my stance in Ukraine as isolationism. One needs a long term strategy to deal with these birds and an occasional reminder goes a long way. Obama blew the game the minute he pulled the missile shield and got nothing in return,. Putin knew at that moment he could play Obama and has ever since.

      That said, Germany, France, and the UK have been riding our coattails for far too long. It is time for them to have some skin in the game as well. If the EU exists only to make rules, it is a bogus entity and should disband.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 21, 2014 12:46 pm

      I am late into this last series of comments concerning Ukraine. Yes Priscilla, I am somewhat an isolationist, but not completely one who believes the USA should stay out of everything. But I believe that countries within the immediate area should be the ones that take the primary action to counter aggression of their neighbors. If Germany and France do not believe this action by Putin is severe enough to warrant economic sanctions that might mean some gas supplies are cut off and citizens may have to turn down thermostats, then I do not believe the USA should be involved either. What we can do, but won’t under this administration, is help the Europeans in defensive military hardware to help protect their homeland, but other than that, I am going back to “isolationism”.

      In todays world, we can do much more harm to countries through economic sanctions than most any other military actions available. But are we (Europe and US) willing to risk increased unemployment, reduced economic growth and personal discomfort of citizens in support of people in other countries. Seems like Europe does not beleive either Georgia or Ukraine are worth the discomfort of pissing off Putin, so they back off NATO membership for both, they refuse to support Georgia in its armed conflict with Russia and now back off anything significant over Ukraine.

      When the Europeans step to the plate, then maybe we can lend support and not one minute before.

      • March 21, 2014 1:51 pm

        Europe has a long tradition of not confronting dictators. Perhaps it is because they all used to have Kings, so the dictators are OK in a relative sense.

        In any event, I am tired of having US soldiers shipped back in body bags just because we have done it before. If Putin is the capitalist that I think he is, the EU can stop him in about a month, without firing a shot.

        Simply stop buying anything that Russia sells. Really, we are awash in energy, do they really need to buy from him. Ditto, Vodka?

        Game, set, and match, he is done for.

        He really does not want to go back to Communism, as the pay stinks.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 21, 2014 3:14 pm

        Here’s the thing: Europe is not going to step up to the plate unless we lead them there…or, alternatively, push them there. The whole “leading from behind” thing isn’t working and is unlikely to ever work.

        Right now, there are reports that covert Russian operators are infiltrating Eastern Ukraine, for the purpose of instigating violent “incidents,” which, of course, will necessitate the “protection” of ethnic Russians by Russian troops, which have already begun building at the border. This will not end well.

        I believe that, had the US and the EU responded strongly to the annexation of the Crimea, with promises of financial aid and military support to Ukraine in the way of weapons, ammunition and intelligence, I don’t think that this would be happening. Putin may likely have postponed his plans for another day, and perhaps that day would not come.

        Maybe it still won’t come, but it won’t be because of the US freezing the bank accounts of a handful of Russian diplomats and politicians. It will be a decision that Putin makes freely, and on his terms.

        To your point, JB, I think that strong economic sanctions work, but I think that the time for that in this particular situation has passed. Putin is flexing his military muscles, and we have to stop acting like the 98 pound weakling.

      • March 21, 2014 3:40 pm

        The EU will not step up as long as we prop them up. Just like a child, they have to learn. If not, they pay the consequences. There are all manner of bad leaders in the world. Are we to stop ALL of them or just this one because he is Russian?

        Let’s face it, Germany has all the dough in the world to use in this endeavor. If you add in France and the UK, the impact is even larger.

        Not one dime, not one life. This time, let’s sit this out for a change.

        Washington DC told Detroit to stuff it. Why is Ukraine different?

      • Ron P permalink
        March 21, 2014 10:29 pm

        And what are the military options if the EU will not step up and make a commitment to any former soviet country? Sorry, if the europeans do not believe the security of their countries is important enough to make their men and women vulnerable to death by war, then not one American life should be risked!

        And if you look at our military today, are we stronger than a 98 lb weakling? We may have naval and air surperiority, but when it comes to the number of men and women we can send to fight something that does not mean much to anyone in europe, we are not as strong as we were 10 years ago. Blame Bush, blame Obama, blame the two unending wars, whatever, we do not have the strength today nor do we have the support of the people to fight another war.

        When Germany, France and Britain say they will clamp down and also say they will commit troops to the borders of Ukraine, then that opens the channels where Americans can lend military hardware and strategic support. But not one soldier.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 21, 2014 10:31 pm

        Well, it’s not about Ukraine, per se. It’s about allowing a power-hungry aggressor to invade a sovereign nation because he can, while every other tyrannical repressive regime watches him do so with impunity, and decides that now is the time to pursue aggrandizements because there is no nation or alliance that will oppose them with anything more than words.

        It’s realpolitik, and it sucks.

      • March 21, 2014 10:37 pm

        No, it IS about the Ukraine and the line in the sand. Simply put, my grandson is In no way gong to lose his life because some pussy in France is not willing to.]

        Sorry, but it is time to stop this bullshit.

  22. Priscilla permalink
    March 21, 2014 11:13 pm

    You guys keep responding as if the only way to use a powerful military for deterrence is to send in troops, as in fighting a war. Create and build the weaponry, the alliances and the strong defense systems and be reluctant, but willing, to use it. And there is a good likelihood that we won’t have to. That’s how Reagan did it, and it worked pretty well. Peace through strength, right?

    I presume that both of you see the situation in Ukraine as substantively different than, say, Hitler’s invasion of Austria, but I don’t. I don’t see it as a local “hey, the Crimea is rightfully Russia’s anyway, not our business” scenario. Well, it is local on one level, but it may well have global repercussions that will threaten our security in many ways.

    If we had a POTUS like Reagan right now, would he be telling our NATO allies to go it alone? I doubt it. But, then, I doubt that we would be in this situation, because I think that Russia would fear the consequences of its unprovoked aggression.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 22, 2014 10:15 am

      Btw, to be clear: I do not think a military response is in any way appropriate to the Ukrainian situation. And I am somewhat confused and disturbed by the blustering on the right that would seem to indicate that, somehow, the President should do more saber-rattling.

      I think that, to use an over-used cliché, Russia is playing chess and we are playing checkers.

    • March 22, 2014 11:01 am

      Borders and “nations” change in Europe pretty much everyday. This has been true for centuries back to the dawn of time. These people are not going to play nice and the fact that we keep our nose into it doesn’t help, it hurts. There is not end game here for us, just another place on the chessboard to try and block the latest threat or tyrant. And, there is always at least one more, isn’t there?

      I won’t touch the Hitler analogy because it is on its face, a false one.

      Once again, the UK, Germany, and France are more than able to handle this one, but why should they when they can have us help pay the bill?

      I am not biting. No money, no arms, no nothing.

      It is time for the drunks to go cold Turkey.

      Is there nothing in the US that needs attention right now that a few Billion wouldn’t help?

      PS-I am over Russia and I recommend DC get over them too. If we want to leave them in the dust, let’s get rid of oh, about a million federal regulations and we can bury them economically without firing a shot or deploying a solider.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 22, 2014 11:13 am

        Well, ok. I agree we could bury them economically, if that were to be our goal. Truth is, if they buddy up with China and the Arab powers and finish off the dollar….well, they can bury us, too. Just not on their own.

        And that is the problem that I see with your position. It is a go-it-alone position that will not help us long term.

        Anyway, my friend, we have found a clear divide in our usual ideological agreement, haven’t we? Funny how foreign policy issues do that.

      • March 22, 2014 11:50 am

        It is all good. For the record, I expect that the US will be dragged into this in a big way. For Obama it is a diversion from the domestic and economic bad news. He has no choice but to do what others have done before.

        We just don’t learn anything, even from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.


    • Ron P permalink
      March 22, 2014 11:16 pm

      Yes there are ways to attck this issue. My one question is this. Why is the USA expected to protect the world from aggression without any commitment by countries bordering those that have been invaded? When Germany, France and the UK decide that actions need to take place that would have a direct impact on their economic and civilian comfort, then I would accept the USA being part of any economic actions. But Germany, France and the UK will not take much action that will have any impact because that may mean their citizens will have to wear alot of cloths and put on a few more blankets because they will be cut off from gas supplies. So if they will not make that commitment, then what commitment should the US provide to Ukraine. I also take this same position about Japan, Korea and any country in southeast asia if North Korea or China become aggressive. That’s in Japan’s back yard and they should be the ones taking actions and then ask for the USA support.

      As for Reagan, had Obama left in plce the missile defense system, I doubt this would be happening. But then Reagan worked from a position of strength and Obama is working from a position of weakness.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 23, 2014 9:17 am

        Ron, I agree completely that America should not be the “protector” of all the world’s people – particularly in the case of nations that do not have the will to fight aggression and expect us to do it for them. And, as I have mentioned in past comments, I am understanding of the argument the the Crimean peninsula is a “rightful possession” of Mother Russia. I also acknowledge that the world superpowers have their spheres of influence, and that, yes, China may be making moves, sooner rather that later, to annex areas in its “sphere,” while the US dithers around impotently.

        Where I agree with you in largest part is your last point, which is that, if I may paraphrase you, weakness invites this type of aggression. And, continuing from that point, once successful, an aggressor nation, with an appetite for expansion, will often continue to push as far as possible, even, perhaps, into areas somewhat outside its sphere of influence, as long as it believe that it will encounter little opposition.

        And, that has been my point all along. I don’t think that one has to e an interventionist warmonger to agree with those who believe that isolationism in the face of aggression projects weakness.

        Part of America’s problem is that we change administrations, and often foreign policies, every 4-8 years. It’s easier for an entrenched leader like Putin to plan his moves years in advance (sort of like the way he is angling for a new sphere of influence in Latin America via Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba) while US presidents are busy “re-setting” their goals……..

  23. March 23, 2014 8:50 am

    Interesting, two comments from a story on the Ukraine in the Wash Post.

    “I spent most of the Ukrainian crisis there, and after I came back to US just recently I realized that nothing actually changed here. Media here covers everything so one sided that it’s not even worth trying to explain that our country supports fascists in Ukraine no more no less.It’s called supporting democracy or national interests these days. Good luck, but remember, grand daddies of those in power or around it now in Ukraine killed Polish, Belarusian and Ukrainian people by tens of thousands in and after WWII. You just choose not to believe it. But that is the truth! So good luck with democracy in Ukraine.”


    3/21/2014 9:03 PM CDT

    “Sad thing is, one only has to go on a European website, like The Guardian, and read the comments from the readers. They know the truth, they know the influence of Svoboda and Right Sektor in the “new” government that the US is supporting in Ukraine, and they report all the news that the US media hides, including the violence and chaos present in many areas of Ukraine today because of these fascist neo-Nazi parties and their supporters. Yes, the US government conspired with, and is now supporting, neo-Nazis in Ukraine. If you don’t know it, it’s only because you are afraid to look for the truth.”

  24. Priscilla permalink
    March 24, 2014 6:33 am

    Enough about Russia. CNN has sent out an important news alert, first thing this morning:

    “Australian searchers have located two objects in the southern Indian Ocean during the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Malaysia’s acting transportation minister said today. One of the objects is circular and the other is rectangular, he said at a news briefing.

    For complete coverage of breaking news, go to CNN TV, and CNN Mobile.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but until they come up with something octagonal, I’m not buying this!

  25. Roby L permalink
    March 28, 2014 3:02 pm

    Priscilla, I am with you here (on the response to Putin). Long ago I read Churchill’s series of books on World War II and the events leading to it and that certainly had a big influence on my picture of the world, especially the part in the first book about the lead up to the war and the ways in which Hitler could have been stopped before he got started. I have been trying to remain calm about this situation and not read more into it than is there. I have tried to see Putin as following Brezhnev in the Czechoslovakia model rather than Stalin or Hitler. But in the end I am failing, I am seeing him as Hitler. Mostly because his mindset reflects the idea that his civilization is better and more moral and has been unfairly defeated and he is going to set that right.

    I have read that Russian money people say that Putin does not have a financial mind, which I found hard to believe, since he is quite intelligent and a certain level of financial understanding does not require brilliance or an entire education in the field. I am beginning to believe it though. The financial costs have been quite step already to the Russian economy and the future ones could be steeper still, the Russian government derives 50% of its income from energy exports and in the worst case Europe could do without Russian energy. So, that should be enough of an economic recourse to halt further aggression, if we were dealing with the person I thought Putin was previously. Which I am no longer certain of and would not bet the future on.

    The idea that the US or the west can just say that this is not our problem is a non starter in the real world. We tried to sit out WWI and then tried to sit out WWII, that did not work and since then we have been involved in working at the international level to have some kind of international norm to create stability, full of glaring mistakes and hypocrisies of course.

    I was arguing with a Russian fellow who thought he had me when he asked whether I knew how many Russian died fighting Germans compared to how many Americans did. I did not succumb. I pointed out the Russians fought Hitler because they had to after their great Hero Stalin had decimated the Soviet military with his purges and then entered the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and secretly divided Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland into Nazi and Soviet. Russians were fighting for themselves in WWII after having brought it on themselves with their own evils. American may have lost far fewer troops, but we lost them fighting for European and Russian freedom. As thanks for our sacrifice Stalin took over at total of 24 countries and republics if I count correctly, put missiles in Cuba, and attempted to spread the Russian fascist form of communism in Africa, Asia, and South America. After having killed nearly as many Russians as Hitler did, and after having thrown his returning hero soldiers into Siberian prisons, today Stalin is still admired by 42% of Russians, more than at the end of the cold war. And they complain of fascists in Kiev.

    “In the future, fascists will call themselves anti-fascists.” Churchill.

    I hope the economic sanctions along the reality that Europe is already facing a new reality about needing Russian energy and intending not to need it ASAP will do it. But since Putin has more or less absolute control of Russia and is surrounded by like-minded people and labels all dissent as a 5th column, that is not certain. I think that to a certain extent he is mad; absolute power for 14 years has corrupted him, Merkel is correct, he is in anothe reality. This is going to be a very bad year I think, possibly a bad 10 years, as Putin is in this for the long haul and temporary setbacks will not turn him. So far Obama, Merkel and the West are doing the right things and there really is no other choice. I don’t believe that Romney or Reagan or Carter would have done much different, there is actually continuity in our State Department and in our post WWII American view of our role regardless of party our common idea is larger than our differences and we are not isolationists and not about to be. We fought WWI, WWII, and a long expensive cold war, and we are not about to fall back into isolationism and lose what we fought for.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 28, 2014 6:44 pm

      Roby, I have to agree with 99.9% of what you say, one because it seems you have a much broader understanding of this issue than I do and what I do know for the most part is how I understand the problem. But I do have to offer one thought concernig your comment about Rmney, Reagan or Carter. Romney may have not had a choice to do anything different given the cercumstances that he would have inherited. carter may not even have done as much as Obama. But I question if Reagan would have discountinued the missile defence system in eastern europe and that may have kept Putin from doing what he has done.

      But that just speculation. Obama did cancel that agreement and that is fact.

      • Roby L permalink
        March 28, 2014 7:17 pm

        You may have a point Ron with that.

        One thing folks forget though is Reagan’s response to the horrific shooting down of the KAL007 flight. Pretty much just diplomacy. Which was probably appropriate, there was not much to do after the fact, although a man in a weaker position might have overreached, yes Reagan was strong. I mention it just because it shows that presidents live in reality and they can do certain things and not others. The west is speaking with one unified voice here, that is what we can do, and using the UN and financial repercussions. In the future we may choose to increase defense spending and put that missile shield in.

    • March 28, 2014 6:48 pm

      Not one life, not one penny.
      We have no dog in this fight. Germany, France, and the UK do.

      Let them handle it. Russia is ONE country. so how hard can this be?

      • Roby L permalink
        March 28, 2014 7:25 pm

        You are welcome to keep repeating that all you want JB but I am certain that our government and any conceivably electable US government in our lifetime will believe that this does matter to us and will involve us in these kinds of situations on some level, diplomatic and financial most of all. You have a pure philosophy, but its a messy world. Very unlikely as of now that actual military action is on the table, there you are in agreement with majority opinion and US likely actions.

      • March 28, 2014 10:51 pm

        Fine. You go and fight, or send your son, or your grandson. Someone has to say no, or this crap will continue and the good/buy bad guy con game will go on and on. The pols win, the suppliers of weapons win, and we dimwits who supply the fodder for war lose.

        As for me, I will not send my sons off to fight for a pyrrhic victory.

        Keep living the dream.

      • March 28, 2014 10:52 pm

        The funny thing is, the old men who want to send the young men to die, keep resorting to the past.

        Get you head out of your ass and see how manipulated we have been.

  26. March 28, 2014 6:50 pm

    The last time I looked, Germany, France, and the UK each have a military and nuclear weapons.

    They also have the EU.

    Where is the problem, why do they need us again?

  27. March 28, 2014 6:52 pm

    A little history lesson. Patton wanted to continue on from Germany to Russia to “finish the job.” The pols in the WH refused to listen.

    And, so, here we are.

    How many lives might have been saved had the WH had a spine?

    • Roby L permalink
      March 28, 2014 7:40 pm

      How many lives had we lost fighting Japan and then in Europe? (~400,000). More American blood was not going to be spent, and it would have taken a lot, many more than we had already lost, with no guarantees. The Russians defend their motherland. And we did not know what was in the future either.

  28. Priscilla permalink
    March 28, 2014 11:52 pm

    I am in near total agreement with Roby here….Rick will have to write a new post ASAP, so that we can go back to our usual contentiousness.

    I think that
    Obama is dealing with this crisis in his usual way, which is to say that he is backing away from confrontation. We all know that backing away from bullies just emboldens them, and that is what is going on here. The problem with this administration’s tough talk is that it is just talk and everyone knows it. So, despite the fact that Obama is saying the same things that Reagan may have said – and Romney, and maybe even Carter – no one believes that he will stand firm on any of it. Not Putin, not the EU, not anyone. I mean, good lord, we gave sanction relief, to the tune of billions, to Iran, after swearing that it was the greatest threat to world peace….

    This is the sort of thing that Churchill was referring to when he wrote about stopping Hitler before he got started…sometimes these Hitler analogies are on the money, and we should not shy away from them, if they can be instructive. I have never compared George Bush or Barack Obama to Hitler, but I’m not so sure that Vladimir Putin deserves exemption.

    Obama may be taking baby steps towards being a world leader, but they are puny and very late.

    Where I take issue with you JB, is this: once America, still the world’s most powerful nation, says, “Nope, we’ve had it -we’re out, we don’t care. You’re all on your own” how can this NOT be an invitation to aggressor nations and leaders like Putin? Do we wait until the threat is at our doorstep? Until the Russians put long range ballistic missiles in Venezuela ( they have already helped Venezuela build an anti-missile defense system, presumably against us)? And then what do we do?

    • March 29, 2014 9:52 am

      You guys make me laugh. The “threat” is already at our “doorstep” and one could argue, is in the house (illegal immigration, porous southern borders). Actually, there were Russian warships in Cuba last week for “exercises.”

      Any threat to the US today can come from anywhere. Iran is building a nuke? Not a problem right. We will soon have one in Venezuela as well, compliments of Russia.

      There is no crisis here. The Crimeans want out and what wouldn’t they? Their elected President was driven from office by a mob. Why would they want to remain a part of Ukraine. What the hell is so special about that made up entity? Again, if the 18 countries in the EU want to annex Ukraine, they should proceed to try and make that happen.

      If Crimea cannot voluntarily leave Ukraine, how is that “righter” than Putin’s position.

      Folks, this talk of WW2 is getting old.

      If want your children or grandchildren dying in Ukraine, that is your business. None of mine shall go. I am done with US blood being shed for some GOP and other war hawks inability to see that the world is a different ballgame than 1944 and folks, Putin is not Stalin or Hitler.

      The only blood shed so car in this “crisis” was shed when the thugs threw the President out. If this were Stalin or Hitler, Kiev would be decimated by now.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 29, 2014 10:56 am

        JB, no one wants their kids, grandkids, or yours dying anywhere. You need to stop with that straw man. And, you also need to stop assuming that anyone who is not an isolationist is a war hawk.

        You are falling back on those two arguments, without explaining what you actually think America’s foreign policy should be. I know that you believe that this is a “local” problem, between Europe and Russia. Should we also say we are no longer going to be involved in negotiations between the Arabs and Israelis? Should we simply stay silent on Venezuela?

        So, I’ll stop with the WWII analogies for you, but how do you square what’s going on with, say, the Cuban Missile Crisis, or Reagan’s refusal to cancel the SDI (for which he was excoriated in the press as a dangerous war monger)? Do we simply pull back from any sort of world leadership that could be construed as confrontational? How about responding to an actual attack such as the USS Cole?

        I am in agreement with you that so-called “red lines” are a dangerous game, and that there are dangerous crises, or potential crises, all over the world, which we cannot and should not inflame with meaningless rhetoric. But strategic positioning is something that I think we have to do.

      • March 29, 2014 12:47 pm

        First off, the Western Hemisphere needs to be dealt with as a particular issue/region (the Truman Doctrine). Obama has never even bothered to look at the WH as something he should pay attention to. Too many vacations to plan?

        Europe and the ME are separate but related. Obama lost all leverage and credibility (IMHO) with Putin when he folded on building the missile shield that was in development He got nothing in return, because, he is an idiot;. Once he did that, he let Putin know he was a pansy.

        He did likewise with Iran. Drop the sanctions and got nothing in return. Syria, same deal. These birds laugh at his idiocy.

        So, how do you square this “policy” and right it now? You don’t. Moreover, you have little to yap about when this country invaded and deposed two governments over the last 20 years. Putin has not fired a shot, so what is the basis for this “crisis?”

        We have much worse humanitarian crisis that could be attended to (many in Africa I might add). Why Ukraine?

        No one believes Obama has a brain in his head. He has de-stabilized pretty much everything he touches.

        So, if we want to show anyone we are serious, I suggest we simply re-start the MS and MAKE THE EU PAY FOR MOST OF IT! You can tell Putin more with that action than all the “sanctions” in the world.

        If these ass clowns want us to be the bad guy, they will have to pony up their own money and not rely on me and you to pay to “keep the world” safe. Check out what the EU pays for its own defense. I bet you will be underwhelmed.

  29. Roby L permalink
    March 29, 2014 11:42 am

    Given that we have a volunteer army, the blood of your kids and grand kids is safe, UNLESS the world really falls apart. Which is what the US foreign policy has tried to avoid since 1945 and continues.

    As to Hitler, well I don’t say the Putin does most of the things that Hitler did, he is not launching pograms, but he sure does a lot more of Hitler’s routine than Obama who you are not shy to call Hitler. He has made meaningful oppositon or even most criticism of his actions impossible in Russia, he has stirred up nationalist and ultra nationalist sentiments, he has based his foreign policy of intimidation of Russia’s neighbors, and now he has launched an actual military invasion. If not for the economic level of the constraints on Russia, Putin may well have been in Kiev already, certainly lots of his thugs have been there.

    The level of propaganda that is coming from the Russian media is unbelievable the lies occur daily at the most breathtaking level, and our friends and relatives in Ukraine and Moscow describe it to us. And they believe it in most cases because they have no training or experience in doing otherwise. The west is correct to oppose this and the rather tight agreement that you see is because people who actually are professionals at this business of foreign policy are on the same page. You are really pissing in the wind if you think that there is some political force that is going to achieve power that will see foreign policy from your perspective. Putin is determined in his genes to be the anti west and oppose the Western outlook in nearly every situation. Not a tyrant in the world that he would not support if it makes problems for the west. This is nothing new, this goes back to the dawn of time, alliances, balances of power, one powerful nation not being disinterested in the moves and power of other powerful nations.

    Unfortunately as pretty as the idea is (mostly to the left) to say “this is bullshit we are not going to do this anymore and everything will be fine if we don’t play”, that is not realistic, not playing the age old game is fatal in the real world and not playing would be the best way to risk having our grand kids actually be in harm’s way.

    • March 29, 2014 12:53 pm

      So say you. You are entitled to your opinion. Yet, compared to Iran getting a nuclear weapon, I am not alarmed. You are see this as some big passion play and that is your right. I will suggest that your boy Obama owns this and many other crisis of his own making.

      He is an empty suit and no amount of economic posturing is gong to change Putin’s mind. Crimea is gone, get over it. I know I can.

      As to what he does next, where again is the EU on all this. They are still buying gas from him. What signal does that send.

      “Well, we could try to find other energy sources but that would put a hardship on our delicate socialist culture.” We can’t stop fighting global warming to deal with this crisis, so let’s just get the US to send us a bunch of “loans” to help out.

      The irony of the US borrowing from China so that we can lend to Ukraine boggles the mind.
      Or, it should.

  30. Roby L permalink
    March 29, 2014 1:39 pm

    Everything for you comes back to your central Dogma, Obama mania.

    I never mentioned Crimea once, it is gone, yes. And an Iranian atomic bomb is alarming, yes. Its not either/or. The aim here is stopping Putin’s further aggression and bringing Russia back to the model of inclusion in the modern international economic framework and a slow increase of actual democracy there that eventually will make for a government by a group of people based on numerous viewpoints instead of just one man calling every shot. The difference between our views of foreign policy is that you will never see yours actually occur.

    The energy message that has been sent is actually quite strong and is a good part of the reason that the Russian economy, which had been projected to grow at 2-3% (already not very exciting to Russians) is now projected for a recession. That is a strong message, whether you are impressed or not does not matter since you are not the target of that message.

    • March 29, 2014 1:57 pm

      We will see. Putin will do whatever is in the best interests of Putin and Russia. If only Obama knew how to play that game (yes, he is an idiot).

      PS-Don’t base your news on what the US media says. Check out European sources for a less biased view.

      • Roby L permalink
        March 29, 2014 2:22 pm

        I regularly (even obsessively) read news from everywhere on this, including London, Germany Kiev, Odessa, and Moscow.

  31. March 29, 2014 1:53 pm

    With all due respect, people, I realize this isn’t my blog, but how many comments do we need on this thread. You’re getting way off topic, which is one of the reasons Rick was on hiatus for so long. Can we please move on?

    • March 29, 2014 1:58 pm

      No one is keeping you here.
      Move on at your leisure.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 29, 2014 11:02 pm

      sgf, my impression is that Rick got kind of burned out on politics in general at one point, and the comments section of TNM was getting a bit out of control, with comments that exceeded the word count of the original post! While you’re right that the conversation here has moved away from the original topic, I see it more as that we have been “talking amongst ourselves,” until Rick’s next post comes out. But I have no problem circling back to discussing the politics of racism…. I just think we had kind of reached a point where we were all just saying the same thing over and over, and then the Crimean thing happened. So, there we went.

      • March 30, 2014 10:00 am

        And then, the fight broke out…..

        Just kidding, I have enjoyed the dialog on Crimea. We SHOULD debate things like this, instead of expressing “outrage” over every little imagined slight.

      • March 30, 2014 3:19 pm

        But, Priscilla, that’s my point, when you get hundreds of comments in with almost any topic, it becomes people saying the same thing over and over. A “lengthy” discussion is one thing, but (as so often happens with forums) this gets to be a bit much.

        jb, I’m well aware that no one is keeping me here and I can move on, but I receive emails from this site when anyone posts anything, and it seems to do no good when I refrain from checking the “notify me” boxes underneath. I’m sincerely not trying to ruin your guys’ fun, but…how exactly can an interminable discussion BE fun?

      • March 30, 2014 3:30 pm

        Point taken. That said, I have learned much from the exchange, even if I haven’t changed my position.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 30, 2014 3:35 pm

        In all fairness, sgf, it’s more like “dozens” than “hundreds” on this thread….but I do get your point. I believe that the email notification, which I get as well, although I have never checked the box, is set in your profile on WordPress or Diqus or whatever sign in program you use to post your comments. So, maybe you could opt out of those notifications by editing your preferences for this blog? Anyway, for what it is worth, I’m always interested to read your comments, few and far between as they may be….despite your being a killjoy 😉

  32. March 29, 2014 6:25 pm

    Of course, you would like to think they are monitoring Putin just a bit more, but then again, this is Obama’s NSA, so maybe not?

  33. March 30, 2014 10:21 am

    Could not have said it better myself!

  34. Roby L permalink
    March 30, 2014 7:02 pm

    There I was trying as hard as I could to be a pain in the butt know it all and you go and enjoy the discussion and find it educational JB. That is just cruel. What a world.

    • March 30, 2014 10:24 pm

      No, seriously, I learn when I hang out with smart people who don’t agree with me.

      That can lead to wisdom!

      • Roby L permalink
        March 31, 2014 10:27 am

        Well, if you are going to insist on faking me out by swelling my head, I am going to have to do the hard work it takes to throw off my “adversarial mode” switch and return the compliment with interest.

      • March 31, 2014 11:01 am

        I was taught by a wise grandfather that I had to adopt at least one other attribute in my life other than combat (seems like I had been born with that one). It has taken me many years to learn that lesson and many days, I still forget it.

        That said, some aspects of combat are useful, especially if one can grow and adapt in more productive ways. I wish I could remember this more often but life is a moving target.

  35. March 31, 2014 12:31 am

    Sorry to have kept all of you dangling here for nearly a month, but it seems you’ve been carrying on with some lively exchanges (and even agreeing part of the time!). Good to see that Roby and sgf have returned as commentators, too.

    I honestly haven’t felt moved to write anything over the past month. CNN has become the network of “all Flight MH370, all the time.” Even the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea (notice that I treat them as separate entities… that should say something) didn’t impel me to sound off, because I felt divided. Yes, the Crimea is traditionally Russian (since it emerged from the Ottoman Empire, anyway), and the people there voted to secede from Ukraine. Fair enough, right? But I’m also exceedingly wary of anything engineered by Putin. Southeast Ukraine, with its ties to Russia, could be next to “secede” under Putin’s influence. Not that we should be getting involved — as long as there’s no outright invasion with casualties. Even then…

    Shouldn’t every ethnic group be entitled to choose the country it belongs to — or to vote for independence? Well, it’s a nice concept, and it seems just. But that would mean independent breakaway states for the Basques, Bretons, Kurds, Chechens, Quebecois, Catalonians and Scots (actually, the latter three groups could be deciding their fates soon)… it would also mean the breakup of Belgium, Romania, Iran and other multi-ethnic countries, with massive turmoil as the end-product. (We don’t need more turmoil.) Of course, I wouldn’t mind if Turkey decided to cede its eastern provinces to Armenia.

    Hmm, maybe I should have written a column about this issue after all.

    • March 31, 2014 9:46 am

      Two points.

      Prediction: Putin will NOT invade Ukraine. He has what he wants, and the threat of his invading the rest of Ukraine was a ploy or gambit. The guy fancies himself a chess master and in this case, he faked out Obama and the rest (not hard by the way).

      What he does in the future depends on how much the EU attempts to isolate him. If I were the EU, I would remember who they are dealing with (not Hitler and not Stalin). This guy wants money and resources, not turf and people with problems. If simple land mass was available, he wouldn’t want it. He is looking for bargains at Tiffany’s, not volume at Wal Mart.

      Secondly, on the issue of breaking up “nations.” This has been happening since the dawn of time. It will continue, IMHO. The US was not created to insure borders remain fixed, We cannot fix our own broken border to the South (or at least won’t). We are being raided by Mexicans and the current administration treats them like voters.

      Irony? You bet!

      • Roby L permalink
        March 31, 2014 10:43 am

        I hope you are correct about Putin. I also doubt he will invade Ukraine outright but he will do all possible to destabilize them and foil the creation of a prosperous modern democracy. He is bent on intimidating every single country with borders to Russia. They are already the largest country in the world but have a special need to have a one country intimidated/client state buffer layer surrounding them from the rest of the world. Not quite the Soviet Union 2.0 but a very hard fate being a Russian neighbor and no can say that in the future they won’t claim some pretext to invade other counties with Russian speaking minorities. The are the largest country in the world, a nuclear power, have a seat on the UN security council, the worlds 5th largest economy, great economic leverage through energy, and the worlds third largest military. The world is not going to be a secure place if Russia cannot be convinced they do not have a right to consider their neighbors land as their own possession. There are looming collisions about claims to energy in the polar regions as well.

        Instead of needing a buffer from the western world, Russia should just join it and stop destabilizing it. As of now that choice is all up to one man, the only man who has any meaningful political power in Russia, unfortunately that man is a west-hating KGB agent (no former about it) . Not a healthy situation or anything we can ignore. Contain them until his generation passes.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 31, 2014 11:05 pm

        I am surprised at how many are now discrediting the right of a sovereign nation to define and control its borders. Russia invades Ukraine, engineers a hasty referendum in the Crimea, which results in a 97% (seriously?) vote to secede, and is now demanding ( in return for a “diplomatic solution” to this crisis) that Ukraine become a loose federation with regional autonomy, not a unified state. And why, exactly should Ukraine do this? Well, because Russia says so, of course.

        You may be right, Ron, about Putin not invading Ukraine. He may not have to. Ukraine is not a NATO ally and we are not committed to defend its sovereignty – as you rightly point out, we’re not doing such a hot job of defending our own. But that is an immigration issue, not a military one, and I agree with Roby that we ignore Putin’s violations at our peril.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 31, 2014 11:26 pm

        Priscilla, I do not advocate that we ignore Putin and his agression on Ukraine. What I do advocate is the EU take the leadership to place economic sanctions on Russia that will do some good, not the slap on the hand he is getting. I also advocate the US support these sanctions and be part of the actions taken. If this means Germany, France and Belguim citizens have to wear multiple layers of cloths,have multiple blankets on their beds and their economic improvement slows because Putin cuts off their natural gas, then so be it. That is much better than the US sending anyone to the region and risk their life for anyone in that country. If the Europeans do not think enough of their close neighbors, why should we be sticking our necks out.

        I also believe it is time that the european countries begin spending 4-5% of their GDP on defense, build up their number of troops and have the numbers to send to the Russian border when Putin sends his troops like he has in western Russia along the Ukraine border. We spend something like 4% and every other free nation should be spending a like amount and not be expecting the US to be their military sugar daddy. South Korea has large number of forces on their northern border, with support from the US. Europe should be doing the same on their eastern borders and then the US can be supportive of those troops, along with the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

      • April 1, 2014 8:02 am

        Correct, The EU wanted Ukraine and had a hand in its de-stabilization. This is not about border integrity, it is about money and land. EU lost the game and wants us to help them fix the outcome.

        Sorry, you broke it (with our help) you can fix it.

        Again, do these countries have no soldiers of their own?

      • Ron P permalink
        April 1, 2014 11:57 am

        JB..They have very few soldiers. They spend less than 1% of their GDP on military. They expect the USA to provide security.

      • April 1, 2014 7:59 am

        The US helped engineer the ouster of the elected President of Ukraine. They plotted (overheard on wire) to “decide” who would be the successor. Since we helped de-stabilized Ukraine, it is hypocritical on its face to criticize Putin for taking advantage of our stupidity.

        Moreover, the election in Crimea was not orchestrated by Putin as far as I can tell. If you were a resident of Crimea and had just seen your President ousted, I think you might very much like to switch sides, given the direction Ukraine was headed (deep in debt, clueless about how to economically compete.

        Let’s cut all the rhetoric here. The US and other countries meddle in borders and culture all over world for a myriad of reasons. We should remember who started the last two big wars that overthrew governments (of any kind) and what the results were. Wasted lives, wasted money.

        Again, cold war thinking and bias applied to 21St century politics. I think the US needs to get off its high horse. We played right into Putin’s hand and now we (some) are crying because he won the hand.

        Let’s not go all John McCain on this situation.

        Not one dime, not one life.

  36. April 1, 2014 8:00 am

    Personally, I am much more concerned about the Southern border of the US versus the borders of Ukraine. Most Americans couldn’t fine Ukraine on a map or globe.

    • Ron P permalink
      April 1, 2014 11:55 am

      JB..your not sating much when you say most Americans could not find Ukraine. With our sorry educational system today, most Americans can’t find Engl;and, Germany, france and I might even throw in Canada.

  37. Roby L permalink
    April 1, 2014 8:08 am

    Hi Priscilla, I feel a bit like I’ve been ignoring you, just I am flat out busy and always much more likely to make comments about disagreements and here we agree about Putin (not Obama, but Obama is not the main story here for me). So, well, its nice that we agree, I think that is a common cultural reference point in our politics, the American role in the post WWII world, defense spending, the value of not giving in to too much cynicism about or role in spite of some very bad mistakes, (Iraq, Vietnam, Panama). We have been fighting actual evils (except Panama, that was just not justifiable) often in a clumsy or even disastrous way, but fighting actual evils none the less. Anyone equating our use of force with the Russian pattern (no one here) is pretty blind according to me.

    • April 1, 2014 8:37 am

      Tell that to the countless souls who were killed in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. While we may sit here in comfort and “decide” that ours were necessary wars, the fact remains that so many died (including civilian women and children) because some old guys decided to carve up the world in a binary fashion. To the dead, there are no good guys and bad guys.

      Slice it any way you want, we are being played, just like in the days of kings and queens. Oh, Putin is bad, send money and bodies.

      I am tired of it.

      Come back in two centuries and the people of Europe will still be at it.

      Mideast, ditto.

      • Roby L permalink
        April 1, 2014 8:56 am

        I totally agree with your moral take on our wars. I even want to cheer. Panama is the case that is the worst to be in terms of there even being any reason for US military force, although it is the smallest case body wise, it was still 500-1000 civilians killed to prove what, the Monroe doctrine?

        Just realize that no one is asking for body bags here about Ukraine, and in fact we have been at great pains to say we will not be involved in military action. Economic and diplomatic actions are our course and the sensibility of having such a reaction is shown by the rare near unanimity of the international reaction. If you want to debate something that is open to debate then debate whether we should increase defense spending on NATO as a result of this and place missile systems in Poland, that is something that will likely be proposed and that you may choose to oppose as being un needed.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 1, 2014 12:03 pm

        Roby, the question should not be should we increase defense spending on NATO. It should be “should we expect the EU countries to increase their spending to the same level of GDP as we do”. Then maybe we can negotiate some additional spending of our own if we can find the resources without additional debt or increase in taxes. Its time for the world to stop expecting the USA to pony up all the money.

    • Priscilla permalink
      April 1, 2014 9:56 am

      Roby, I do think that Obama is part of the story here, but not the main part, as you say. We elected a president who is tougher with Republicans than he is with tyrants. On the other hand, it is a very tough hand that he has to play.

      JB, I wonder what the world would look like today if the US had said “not one dime” to help England and the allies in 1940 with the Lend-Lease Act? It is facile to say that if we take our ball and go home, the world will be a less dangerous place. Roby’s point about not giving in to cynicism based on our more recent mistakes resonates, with me anyway.

  38. Roby L permalink
    April 1, 2014 8:44 am

    JB we can argue this a.m. Comments heard on a wire (probably an FSB wire at that) are not a good basis for an opinion. I do not believe that the idea that the US engineered the overthrow holds water. Yes, we have been involved, but in a reactive way to events and with little power to shape them. Yanukovych’s government simply lost control of its country little by little. He was quasi legitimate in the first place, having won one provably rigged election and then the second win had the usual questionable Russian fingerprints and style. In any case, call him the legitimate president, he stole hand over fist, made a clumsy attempt to play east vs. west, misjudged the reaction of Ukrainians to changing his agreed course on the EU, and finally his government turned violent on protesters who were peaceful at the start and then increasing radical and willing and able to shed blood. It was Ukrainians who chased him out, and outside of American support from some corners, McCain, some naive hippy types who showed up at the Maidan, etc. the west was involved to the extent they kept asking for calm and non violence on both sides. I really do not believe that if you go looking for any credible evidence that the West overthrew Yanukovych you can find it. A wiretap is weak, who says its authentic who says it has not been altered, who says what context it was in and who was really speaking with what authority. The FSB?

    The EU did a clumsy job of appreciating the depth of the chess game with Putin over the last years of negotiations and were extremely obtuse about the hand Putin held to counter their offers. I blame both the EU and Putin for tearing Ukraine in two as a geopolitical pawn in a game, but to say that the US is behind this sounds silly to me. We would not want this outcome, its negative in every way for us, an un-needed wrong turn in international relations and economics. I have seen nothing that would show me what our stake would be in causing this crisis that would make it worth the risk. Yanukovych is not Allende.

  39. Roby L permalink
    April 1, 2014 11:18 am

    One thing I can say in agreement with JB is that in the future we should remember this situation when we feel to urge to use our military forces under less than urgent pressures, in future situations resembling Panama, Iraq, etc. It does invite other powers to do likewise and blunts our own moral arguments when they do. We should have that big stick but walk softly and not blunt it through overuse. I think that the American public agrees with JBs sentiments about being weary of our adventures and I doubt we will repeat them any time soon.

    That to me explains a lot of Obama’s so-called weakness, he does not have public support for the use of military force after the Iraq and Afghan wars, which were pretty much as JB describes them. And that is a good thing. It goes for our European allies as well. I will always utterly despise Margaret Thatcher over her senseless Falklands bloodbath, and if I were fair I should feel the same way about Bush I over Panama. I really need to revise my good opinion of Bush I.

  40. Roby L permalink
    April 1, 2014 7:09 pm

    Ron, I doubt if you will find a single American who will argue with you that the NATO burden falls all too much on American shoulders and the European nations should do more.

  41. April 19, 2014 7:42 pm


    Sorry you are not permitted to absolve yourself from white guilt merely because of some ambiguity in your ancestry. You are a white male oppressor, you have been labeled that and you may not escape blame merely because it may not be factually correct.
    You could be a dark skinned black and still be a white male oppressor – or atleast an uncle tom, look at Thomas Sowell or Walter Brown. you certainly are whiter than they are.

    confess our sins, commit to your re-education, engage in self criticism and maybe you will be welcomed back into the fold – after suitable self denunciation and criticism for your backsliden recidivist ways.

  42. April 19, 2014 7:49 pm

    I would note for all its flaws we live in the most racially and culturally diverse nation in the world.

    In other regions people are killing each other or trying to split into ever smaller nations over differences that the rest of us can not perceive.

    Much of Europe is a near monoculture. Racial, cultural even religious diversity in the Netherlands and much of the famous nordic socialist democracies is about 5%. That means 95% of the people are the same race, religion and color.

    Many people in this country do not even know what their ancestral culture is, or it is so mixed as to be meaningless.

    My father had his genes tested before he died. My ancestry is smeered all over the world, and across many races.

  43. April 23, 2014 8:36 am

    Smith, you may want to read this, several times:

    • dhlii permalink
      April 23, 2014 10:01 am


      I have read it. Several times. I am disappointed that the federalist would publish such obvious crap, or that someone who should know better would write it.

      Expert in the sense Mr. Nichols is using it is not binary as he pretends.
      All experts are not equal, and the world does not divide into expert/moron.

      Expert atleast in the context Mr. Nichols is using it loosely equates to reputation for accuracy withing a given field. The all “experts” are not equal, and the weight we give to experts does not perfectly correspond to accuracy. Ezra Klein and Roy Avik are experts in health care public policy. They have different reputations, and are sufficiently divergent that both can not be right most of the time.

      In the end I get to decide for myself whether you, Mr. Nichols, or anyone else is an expert on any subject and the extent to which they are. You get to do the same with regard to me and others.

      Like the price we assign to a dozen eggs, it is a subjective valuation, rooted in many factors – reputation being one. There is no entitlement to be viewed as expert. Long hard work will likely help acheive acceptance as an expert, but it is not a prerequisite, nor assurance of the same esteem tomorow.

      Mr. Nichols frustration that he is not held in as high esteem today does not impress me.
      He is whining because the marketplace of ideas has become larger and more competitive.
      That is good not bad.
      Nostalgia is nearly always an absymal and false argument. The good old days were not any better.

      The “Dunning-Kruger” effect applies to “experts” as well as idiots.

      You and he are merely echoing this.

      • April 23, 2014 10:14 am

        YOu must be a gen to be around. I bet there aren’t many who are. Ever wonder about that?

      • April 23, 2014 10:46 pm

        So your argument is I am wrong because you posit other people do not like to be arround me ?

        You are far too smart for such fallacy.

        You do not like me. Fine, I can live with that.
        To the extent I know you I mostly like you. But I do not agree with you 100% of the time.
        I am sorry if that is not acceptable to you.

    • April 23, 2014 10:25 am


      I am sorry if somehow I have offended you. My interest is in debating matters I think have substance. On most of those our differences are small.

      I welcome argument from capable and intelligent people. I consider you to be one of those.
      Like Mr. Nichols I would prefer not to have to explain the basics of argument or economics in every exchange. Debating “experts” usually avoids that.

      I have had exchanges with people far more expert than Mr. Nichols in a wide variety of fields. One wonderful facet of this information age is that you can often initiate a dialog with the best and the brightest, and if you can engage them with your arguments they respond
      I have almost entirely found that real experts, real intelligent people – even those I share nothing with politically, enjoy and respond to an intelligent argument.

      You appear to take offense to the asuredness with which I make statements.
      Mettle is tested by fire. Watered down weasley arguments serve no one.
      If you think some argument I have made is wrong – challenge it.
      If your argument is superior it will prevail.

      I am enjoying myself at this. I am sorry you are not.

      • April 23, 2014 10:32 am

        If you seemed remotely interested in anyone else’s point of view and/or experience, it would help. If it appeared that you expressed the slightest notion that you could learn from others, that would be fine as well.

        Take a lesson from others on this board (Rory, Ron, etc.) in that even though we debate, we actually listen and acknowledge when others may have contributed to our knowledge.


      • April 23, 2014 10:56 pm

        I do not recall arguing against propositions you did not make.
        I think it is reasonable to assume if I disagree with something you said, that I read it.
        If you think I misread it – correct my misreading.

        Would it make you feel better if I posted alot of “me too”‘s for those posts of yours or others I agree with ?

  44. April 23, 2014 10:19 am

    “Other arrogant people seem equally oblivious.

    When co-workers at the high-tech repair shop patiently sat down with the office blowhard and told him to stop calling people idiots, he replied, “It’s not my fault they’re idiots.”

    “Arrogant people are like alcoholics–they’re in denial and they truly don’t see it,” Brenner says. So anyone who calls attention to the behavior is dismissed as jealous. The message doesn’t sink in until the accusations pile up or the arrogance leads to a major fall.”

    • April 23, 2014 10:52 pm

      Is there an argument in here ?

      Your hypothetical never addresses whether those called idiots are or are not.
      Or are you claiming that a majority is equivalent with correct ?

      Accusations of arrogance are not arguments.

  45. Priscilla permalink
    April 23, 2014 10:44 am

    I’m not about to wander into the weeds of this discussion, but I had to respond to you, Dave, on your assertion that Ezra Klein is an “expert in health care policy.” Hogwash.

    Ezra Klein is a former Washington Post blogger and political writer (I might say ” hack”), who was the originator of the Journolist, a semi-secret email group of “reporters” and journalists who coordinated storylines and talking points for the express purpose of supporting Barack Obama and his agenda, including and, perhaps, most importantly, ObamaCare. Although Klein blogged extensively about the ACA, he was never an “expert” in any way other than as someone who researched a current policy debate as part of his job – his job being to influence the debate in an extremely partisan way.

    Avik Roy, on the other hand, has spent his entire career as a “health care policy expert”. He is a graduate of MIT and Yale Med School and is a senior research fellow at the Manhattan Institute. And, yes, he writes mostly critical articles on the ACA for mostly right-leaning publications….as an expert in his field. Which Klein is not.

    Your equating of the two weakens the credibility of your position. Anyway, I’m glad to see you back, you are always interesting and provocative, if somewhat too discursive.

    • April 23, 2014 11:04 am

      To ditto that, Klien has no academic prep or work experience in health care at any level. So, while he may opine on all manner of things, citing him as an “expert” in HC is on its face, beyond absurd.

      While experts may often be “wrong” according to one’s point of view, to disparage their knowledge of subject matter as trivial, is the height of arrogance. I think Paul Krugman has lost his mind; that said, his expertise in the area of international trade economics is impressive and I would be cautious in assuming I could school him in that area just because I admire my own skills in Austrian Economics.

      • April 23, 2014 11:27 pm

        Distinguish Klein’s credentials from those of the expert writing the article you cited.

        If you need a more credentialed expert purveyor of idiocy – try Krugman.
        He has a legitimately earned Nobel, and has frequently written excellent work.
        He has also become a partisan political hack who contradicts himself constantly – sometimes in the same article. Regardless he has impeccable credentials.
        Not more than a few dozen people living have better economic credentials.
        Yet Ron Paul shredded him in a brief economic skirmish on grounds Krugman chose,
        and there are atleast a couple of hundred economists whose oppinion I respect far more,
        and possbly a number of plumbers

      • April 24, 2014 9:05 am

        As I mentioned, Krugman is an embarrassment, to himself and any legitimate economist (id we can find one).

        That said, he used to actually contribute decent research and insights in his chosen area. Too bad he has lost his mind.

      • April 23, 2014 11:45 pm

        Expertise – however you define that, is merely a factor tilting the odds that the expert is right over the “non-expert”.

        I used to play chess. I was not very good because I was prone to mistakes and played inconsistently. I was never better than a Class D player, but in tournaments Class B players were terrified of me. I never beat one, but I came close many times, and I played them to a draw frequently enough that my rating improved dramatically and theirs declined.

        Given a choice I would rather debate an actual expert (whatever that is) there is more possibility of learning, and the quality of the argument is better.

        I have found most really smart people also appreciate a good argument.
        I get the most of this “your arrogant, I am the expert crap” from those who are insecure.

        I make the best arguments I can. I do not stand in awe of anyone. I do not apologize for challenging things I disagree with – no matter who says them. I hold others to their arguments and I expect them to do the same to me. I do not expect to always be right,
        but I do not concede until proven wrong. I am slow to recognize my own mistakes – though I usually get there – a flaw I have found to be universal.
        If that is arrogance, then I plead unrepentantly guilty.

      • April 24, 2014 9:08 am

        There are so many “I’s” in your prose. Perhaps you might want to dial them back a bit. I think we all get that you hold yourself in high esteem for your intellect and ability to argue and debate. No one actually has suggested otherwise.

        Speaking for myself only, I grow tired of your persistent righteousness and chest beating. We get it, you are smart and you like to argue.

        Point made, you can dial it back now.

    • April 23, 2014 11:19 pm


      I think Klein is a complete idiot on nearly every subject he has ever written on.
      Regardless, his “credentials” as a health care expert or public policy expert are atleast as good as the author of the rant Jbastiat linked to – an author whose views like jbastiats on innumerable issues I am likely to agree on.

      I am a state certified expert on probably half a dozen topics. I am an otherwise credentialed expert on half a dozen more. I am a highly respected – without certification or credentials expert in a few more. I am very knowledgeable on several subjects that I have no certification, credentials or public recognition.

      My actual subject matter knowledge is in the reverse of the order I listed.
      The fact that the state has licensed me as expert in some fields may mean I know more than the average but it does not make me an actual expert.
      In my current profession – in which I have no license, no degree, I am recognized as one of a few thousand experts in the world.

      My point is that Klein is an idiot because – well he is an idiot and he is just plain wrong.
      Roy is not an idiot not because of his credentials or experience, but because he is right.
      Regardless, there are plenty of PPACA cheerleaders with equal of better credentials to Roy.

      Certifications, credentials experience, education, reputation, …. are all reasons for weight one persons view over another – other things being close to equal.
      But no amount of resume building trumps being demonstrably wrong,
      and no absense of credentials make right into wrong.

      I am not asking you or Jbastiat to disregard expertise in weighing arguments.
      Though I would note there are far more left wing nut academic “experts”, than anything libertarians or conservatives can muster, so if this turns into a numbers of creditials contest, the ideology that controls the institutions will always win.

      All I am challenging is the fallacy that whatever you respect as constituting expertise is the same as proof.

      I also chose Klein deliberately. Whatever you or I may think of him and regardless of how poor you think his credentials are significant numbers consider him to be an “expert”

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 24, 2014 12:26 am

        Dave, I have no doubt that you are expert in many things. There have been times when I have been in awe of your knowledge and understanding of complex issues. There have also been times when I have thought, “wtf?”

        I take issue with your defense of Klein as an “expert” on anything, and the fact that he is an idiot with no credentials, yet still a respected opinion-maker, is more a testament to our poll-tested culture than it is to anything else.

        But, I understand that we are in agreement on that…at least, in large part.

        I think that JB – and I – are talking about actual expertise, the kind that comes from years of study and experience, both real world and hypothetical…..not the kind that comes from significant numbers thinking that you are “smart” I think you would be hard-pressed to find ACA cheerleaders with credentials equal to or better than Roy’s. Name one.

        I like to think that we are all pretty “smart” around here. That does not necessarily mean that we know what we’re talking about.

      • April 24, 2014 2:49 am

        Should Klein be considered expert in anything – certainly not.
        Do I think he is expert in anything – no way.
        But he is atleast as expert as the Federalist article JB linked lamenting the declining respect for experts such as himself. An article by someone I am far more likely to agree with than Klein on other topics.

        Like it or not Klein is regarded by a large number of people as an expert.
        More importantly he is the perfect example of why one cannot simply divide the world into “experts” and people whose opinions are worthless. We can start less skeptically with experts and more skeptically with others. But in the end we must decide what we beleive based on facts and arguments.

        As to real world expertise – the example I provided regarding my self was essentially to demonstrate that that real world expertise, years of study and experience, does not always correspond to credentials, degrees, etc. My knowledge and experience – theoretical and real in some areas I have no formal trappings of credibility is greater than many I do.
        Which should you trust me on, the subject matter I have studied and and worked in, or that in which I have a degree or state certification and little practical experience ?

        I would also note that the majority of my arguments have little or nothing to do with subject matter expertise. From remarks here I would trust Ron P or JB far more than myself to design a private health insurance plan or run a clinic or even run an insurance company.
        But much of the time intimate experience with some field does NOT make one an expert on government policy in that field. I expert the head of planned parenthood is expert on reproductive health issues. I think many here would vigorously oppose her dictating federal government reproductive health policies.

        Government policy in a field is GOVERNMENT policy first and field expertise second.
        Every expert in every field is certain they know precisely how government should act in their field, and they are precisely wrong. The very same expertise that leads to private success in some field will likely lead to public failure.

        Government fails alot – far more than random chance would predict. That failure is not due to the lack of experts setting policy. Arguably it is because of experts setting policy.
        Government is not business, or charity. It is force and that changes everything.

        If you are asking me for PPACA proponents whose views I trust more than Roy’s the answer is none. But my first google search found hundreds of proponents and the few I checked had a plethora of initials after their names as well as years of experience in various facets of healthcare.
        But as I said before running an ER, practicing surgery, managing an insurance company, …. may make you extremely knowledgeable on heatlhcare. In my view it does not make your views on government health care policy more credible.

      • April 24, 2014 9:21 am

        “But as I said before running an ER, practicing surgery, managing an insurance company, …. may make you extremely knowledgeable on heatlhcare. In my view it does not make your views on government health care policy more credible.”

        Actually, that is where you are dead wrong. Expert knowledge of the parts and totality of a system is quite useful when developing government health care policy. Policy is supposed to further certain end results by virtue of every intervention that it creates. Assuming one has great expertise on the existing system one can better predict (on average) the results of any intervention with more precision than say, well you. We can also point these things out BEFORE a law is passed and the negative effects are felt by the system participants.

        Now, you may feel that is not a terrible disadvantage to have. Any smart person can anticipate the unintended consequences of a law like the PPACA right?

        Wrong. In fact, you are guilty of the same arrogance that the Harvard Policy experts make every day. Rather than go out and actually experience the health care and insurance system and to listen to those who actually receive and deliver care, these dolts simply work on the theory of it all. Any objection that does not support the theory is simply ignored with the same attitude that you just exhibited.

        Oh, that doctor, he is just greedy, that nurse doesn’t study policy at the HSPH!

        Then, they advise Senators who are even more arrogant than the policy dolts. Then, the law is passed and the “surprises” show up and everyone wrings their hands. Of course, the people paying the real price are those same folks that you just dismissed in your statement.

        Get out the mirror buddy.

        To wit: If I were going to develop military policy, I would prefer talking to generals, than to you. They may have an agenda, but they also have the knowledge. No amount of brainpower allows you to develop interventions within the military system unless you know that system.

      • April 24, 2014 12:08 pm

        I am not sure whether you have merely claimed to be knowledgeable in Austrian economics or you claimed to be an adherent to austrian economics.

        Regardless, the assertion that experts in healthcare or anything else can manage effective government programs in those areas, is pretty much 180 degrees from everything Hayek ever said about pretty much anything.

        One of the points to classical liberals from Smith through your nom de plume Bastiat, to Hayek and even more modern economists such as Buchannon and Olstrom, is that the knowledge necescary for the detailed predictions necescary for government to manage something is not available to experts. Where we are dealing with Smith’s invisible hand Bastiat’s broken windows fallacy and seen/unseen, Mises socialist calculation problem, Hayek’s pretense of knowledge, the bottom line is that a great deal of the detailed knowledge necescary to impliment “government policies in the economic venue”, is not static, is discovered rather than learned and is part of a fabric so complex it can not be predictably manipulated from the top.

        Various laws and principles of economics often allow us to predict THAT some government economic policy will fail. Trying to manipulate the laws of supply and demand nearly always have net negative consequences, and nearly all government policy in the economic sphere impacts supply and demand.

        At the present there is a debate on raising the minimum wage. Progressives have produced studies showing that past MW increases did not cause substantial increases in unemployment. Though some of these studies are weak, No economist can say with certainty that an increased MW will result in higher unemployment. But that does not mean the net effect will not be negative.

        Your narrow field policy expert may well be able to concoct government policies in their field that produce precisely the results they hoped for, and at the same time have a variety of negative impacts in other areas that are never considered.

        Minimally every dollar that government gets through taxes or borrowing is a dollar that not spent or invested in the normal economy as it would otherwise have been.
        Presume that somehow the British NHS actually worked and delivered the best quality healthcare in the world. It would have still used the force of government to redirect resources to healthcare that individuals would have directed elsewhere.
        The best healthcare in the world might come at the expense of delaying doubling of the standard of living by a decade. No one will see that loss, but it dwarfs the benefits of the NHS – if it actually succeeded.

        Neither you nor I nor Hayek need to be able to accurately predict precisely how a government policy will fail. Despite the media hype of those economists predicting net zero effects of an MW increase few economists beleive that an MW increase would be net positive or even net zero. Experts such as Card and Kreuger may prove right that certain specific negative impacts that most economist predict do not occur. That does not alter the fact that the net will still be negative.

        No degree of narrow subject matter policy expertise is sufficient to overcome the fact that the impact of any government policy is far broader than that subject matter. Whether you call that the invisible hand, the seen/unseen the knowlegde problem or whatever.

        Government manages to continue to pursue many progressive programs, because the benefits are concentrated and the costs diffuse and obscured. No one would pursue any of them if the real costs were grasped.

        You make a point that various experts have predicted various failure of PPACA.
        Frankly PPACA has thus far failed much worse than I would have guessed.
        But even among opponents, there has not be anything close to universal agreement on the specifics of hos it was going to fail. Absolutely for ever failure there has been atleast one expert that predicted it. Conversely there is not a single expert that has correctly predicted both all the ways it has failed todate and all the ways it has succeeded.
        Just as expertise can lead you to a false understanding of how something will succeed, it is just as likely to lead to false conclusions regarding failure.

        Knowing that it will fail is not the same as knowing how. But being unable to know how does not mean we can not know why – because it forcibly exchanges the choices of experts in a narrow field for the choices of individuals throughout their entire life.
        PPACA does not just fail in the Healthcare arena, it fails because anyone who would have done something other than spend on healthcare has lost whatever they would have done.

        I do not have to be an expert on health care to know that, and being an expert on health care if anything may make me less able to understand that. Experts always think what they are knowledgeable about is more important than it is.

      • April 24, 2014 2:17 pm

        Actually, I never said what you just said I said. Go back and read what I wrote, again.

      • April 24, 2014 3:49 pm

        What am I misrepresenting ?
        my conclusion from “I admire my own skills in Austrian Economics.”
        or that experts can effective manage government programs ?

      • Ron P permalink
        April 24, 2014 12:30 pm

        JB..You forgot one large piece of the government puzzle when you mention the doctors, nurses and then senators in developing legislation. CMS develops medicare policy and when 40-50% of patient reimbursement is with one regulator, it impacts most all other policy. When you have career government employees who have little knowledge of the healthcare world from an experience standpoint and only know it from the government side, many mistakes will and have been made. One only needs to look at HHS and the people who run that department to see how inexperience effects outcomes. Sebelius was an
        ex-governor who knew little about healthcare reimbursement since she was first in the Kansas legislature, then insurance commissioner and later governor. Nothing in her past provided any practical experience. And this is what you have with the majority of the CMS employees who have very little contact with doctors, hospitals and other providers. We need “experts” in high ranking positions who have some knowledge of the impact of their decisions and not the political hacks that get where they are because they are good psrty people.

      • April 24, 2014 2:48 pm

        The entire socialist calculation argument that foretells why the USSR and socialism fails is that no degree of expertise can workably calculate prices. It is a task requiring infinite dynamic knowledge.

        Yes if we want a less bad government run health care system better experts are likely to perform better. A major reason why some of us were unsure that PPACA would catastrophically fail, is that government has already so badly screwed up medical pricing that PPACA could actually have improved on it. It is possible to have a government run system less dysfunctional than what we have.

        But my basic point end to end on all of this is you do not have to be a subject matter expert to know that government is highly likely to fail at most of what it does.
        Being a subject matter expert is as likely to mislead you. Health care experts – even conservative ones, presume that government healthcare policy is more important than it actually is. Everyone beleives their area of expertise is more important than it is.
        Maybe an expert will be better at precisely predicting failures. But the possibilities are nearly infinite. Limited government advocates far to frequently make the mistake of saying If government does X bad thing Y will happen. Often they are right. But doing Bad thing X does not lead directly to Y. It leads to whatever adjustment or series of adjustments that the market dynamically propogates as a response.
        Bad thing X does not always lead to consequence Y. Economics and markets are not empiracally determinative. Knowing that an action in an infinitely complex system will have a response does not allow predicting that response with certainty. Even knowing within a reasonable margin the size and final direction of the response – kind like physics – the sum of the forces must be zero, but that does not tell you how many vectors of what scale and direction are summing to counter the original force.

      • April 24, 2014 6:04 pm

        OK, smart ass, the US doesn’t employ a free market approach in health care. Wow, that is an immense insight that NO ONE ELSE has figured out yet?

        The US hasn’t had free markets in HC since it started licensing health care providers. Ditto, since the advent of health insurance and the licensure of same. Go Google those two subjects and you will find out how long ago that was.

        Governments intrusion into health care is a problem? This is your big contribution and insight into the PPACA fiasco?

        Seriously, you don’t know how to read nor comprehend at times. The point is that free markets are NOT returning to health care. Get over it!

        Now, when that fact settles in, most mature adults start to figure out that they have to deal with where they are NOW, and not assume that the rest of the world will simply change to suit their fancy. In that world, expertise matters and you my friend, don’t have squat in the domain of health care.

        Now, I am done talking to you as you have the self-awareness of a 5 yr old.

      • April 24, 2014 8:42 pm


        The HC market is not free nor is any other. But some markets are more free then others and those work better. I doubt we disagree on that.

        Again it take no HC expert to know that moving towards free market is what will improve things.

        You rant that the solution is to do a better job of something you know will not work.
        We have been doing exactly that over and over for decades.
        I have zero interest in trying to get to hell – more slowly. nto

        This is not about “libertopia” but it is about actually changing direction rather than merely slowing the rate of failure.

      • April 24, 2014 9:36 pm

        Great. Then stay in our own world, stay right, and stay alone.

        Thanks for nothing.

      • April 24, 2014 11:06 pm

        What have I done to you ? Stole your Lollipop or something ?

        I am not on the right and you should no better, Libertarian is a different axis.
        Further it is the right that has put its efforts into heading towards bigger government – more slowly. I can’t find much to distinguish Bush from Obama.
        I am not voting for, arguing for, or supporting in any way in the future the least bad statistism. Losing a fight can prove better than compromise or even winning in the wrong way.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 24, 2014 6:56 pm have summarized your position well in this one comment.

        “But my basic point end to end on all of this is you do not have to be a subject matter expert to know that government is highly likely to fail at most of what it does”.

        If only the majority of Americans believed this and voted with this in the back of their mind, we may not have the mess we have today. But if one sounds like they know what they are talking about, if they say the same things over and over enough and they can indoctrinate enough people to begin believing in their positions, then they too can become an expert, influence government (even become part of government, have followers preaching their positions and influence all facits of life that pertain to that subject. It happens from the outpost of south american where Jim Jones got people to drink the cool-aide to government.

        And with the social media today, it is much easier for a lie to reach million and become fact in theinds of millions, unlike 30 years ago where it took a third party (professional media) to promote those lies.

      • April 24, 2014 10:55 pm

        It is easier to spread a lie, and easier to rebut it.
        Our oppions are no longer spoonfed to us be three talking heads from three networks,

        The tremendous volume of sources today pose problems, but the advantages radically outweight the disadvantages.

        We have had a spat over expertise. JB’s link lamented the rise of the google expert.
        But think about it. Think of the tremendous effort that Smith, Keynes, Hayek, Friedman, etc. had to go to just to find raw data – information anyone can get in seconds today.
        If you want you can read economics papers directly from the authors. or scientific papers, Census, IRS, NBER data. Information is not a substitute for experience – though the converse is also true. But still with a little effort and time any of us can read and study more on any subject than the most brilliant field specific experts in existance a generation ago.
        That is not the answer to all our prayers. It does not make all of us Friedman’s or Hayek’s.
        But it still means that ordinary people of whatever level of intelligence have easy access to near infinite data. Are all the consequences positive – no. Is that substantially net positive – yes.

      • April 24, 2014 9:10 am

        Well said, Priscilla, likely to fall on deaf ears, however.

        I hope I am wrong. If we can salvage the contributions, it may be worth the effort.

      • April 24, 2014 9:03 am

        For the record, I have never seen Klein referred to as an expert in health care until you made the reference here.

        Now that he is not with the WP, I think he has disappeared. One can only hope.

  46. Priscilla permalink
    April 25, 2014 9:27 am

    Ah, Dave, you have succeeded in turning the discussion into – well, your usual discussion.

    You informed us that a Romney presidency would be no different than an Obama presidency, because both were statists and, therefore, neither would move us toward free market liberty. That, in fact, Obama would be the better option, because he would drive us more quickly to tyranny, hastening, I presume, the long-awaited libertarian “correction.”

    I’m curious. Do you ever doubt your beliefs? Specifically, your oft-repeated dogma that losing is preferable to winning and compromise is dangerous?

    Does it ever occur to you that libertarians who advocate this sort of “we’ve got to hit bottom before we can remake the country,” might just be chumps?

    Ever any doubt about this? Because lack of doubt is one of the hallmarks of an ideologue.

    • Roby L permalink
      April 25, 2014 10:01 am

      Priscilla, I’ve been watching parts of this have a small chuckle, just like old times and I did not even say anything! Your remark that “I like to think that we are all pretty “smart” around here. That does not necessarily mean that we know what we’re talking about.” repeats my gripe in the very first post I ever made all those years ago here: Why, oh why, do people not know when to admit that they do not have expertise enough to completely understand some area? Especially areas (economics for one) that are huge and beyond the comprehension of single persons? Admitting the limits to ones knowledge and capability are valuable skills, not a weakness, but this world is full of self certain experts, they get all the attention. How can anyone learn and adapt when they they are always correct in the first place? If you don’t learn and adapt and admit mistakes and weaknesses in your idea then failure is certain. I place my bets on the opinions of people who have some intellectual humility, all other things being equal.

      Actually, I did not read all of Dave’s comments, (Hi Dave, don’t mean to talk about you like you are not in the room) but he seems to have made the point himself in places here that expertise is overrated and I was nodding in agreement when he did. But in general, yes, he will tend towards his side being absolutely correct once the argument digs in, still I have to admit that many of his comments this time about knowledge in general, rather than specific ideas or ideologies, have seemed on point and maybe even a bit mellowed. I did not read it all though, probably I missed the punch line somewhere… As usual, full of ironies.

      Er, good luck warriors.

      • April 25, 2014 10:21 am

        It’s funny, the older I get, the more I experience how little that I really know. That allows for a certain level of humility to develop. It also takes some of the pressure off to “know everything and always be right!”

        I am told this is one small sign that wisdom is developing. I hope so.

      • April 25, 2014 1:38 pm

        Roby L;

        Rick is back posting articles on major topics to this Blog.
        I respect Rick and enjoy his articles. I have no evidence that Rick is expert on anything that he posts on, nor that he even claims to be.
        The rest of us respond to those posts and to each other.
        Some of us make claims to more or less expertise, but honestly I think only one or two of us know each other personally.
        I could be an eight year old girl who just finished the fountainhead for all anyone here can be sure of. We have no way of judging each others expertise beyond what we have written.
        Beyond this blog, we read others from other blogs, most we have no better basis for measuring than from what they say.
        Even Avik Roy who likely is an expert in certain areas, is both strongly disageed with by many equally qualified experts, and neither you nor I have actually verified his expertise.
        He is an expert by virtue of writing under Fobes masthead and we presume that Forbes or others would have checked that his credentials actually are what they say they are.

        Ultimately though all our remarks are weighed by others against the background of their preconceptions, and with some weight given to the trappings of expertise.

        For all of us our last (and first because this is all circular) excesize of this and all other issues we care about comes when we vote.

        When we do that we pick between a couple of possibilities – all of which are expert in pretty much nothing except getting elected. We send them off to run our government and we expect them to put into effect the results of our personal prognostication of myriads of received expert oppinions, as well as to have hearings where they listen to even more experts and are either guided by them or ignore them – either of which could be what we actually want.

        In the entire confabulation I have only summarized above where is the part where it demonstrably makes sense to defer to experts ?

        Progressives like to thunder about democracy. Well true democracy is the rule of the majority over the experts.
        Historically government by expert has not worked out all that well.
        I can listen to Fox or MSBNC and find two experts on most any topic contradicting each other point by point.
        If the views of economic experts as summarized by the media determined all our choices that would result in entirely different policies than what would be chosen by the concensus of experts.

        Just as the quality the oppinions of ordinary people vary greatly the quality of expert oppinions are equally varied in quality.

        If 3 experts divide 2:1 on a matter – do I go with the majority or chose the one with the best credentials or most experience ?

        In the end expertise is really little more than a reputation gauging system that provides one input to each of our individual decision making processes.

        Expertise is not binary. Nor is it determinative.
        You are entitled to argue your personal expertise on any matter. You are not entitled to deference because of it. Each of us freely choses the weight we asign to each party in every debate.

    • April 25, 2014 10:15 am

      Well said, as usual.

      Dave reminds me of the Zen parable of the Professor who visits the Zen master, under the pretense of seeking knowledge about Zen, The professor knows all the theory (so he thinks) and is there pretty much to show how smart he is.

      The Zen master is not fooled.

      You know the rest of the story, I am sure.

      Retort to be posted shortly by Dave.

      Hammer meets knee, quadriceps contract. It has no choice.

      Neither does Dave.

      • Roby L permalink
        April 25, 2014 10:57 am

        Aw Shucks, Here, spoiled by the compliment, I’ll have a shot at making your day. I have reached the conclusion that Obamacare is a dud, I wish it would be replaced, probably by the GOP (in spite of my lack of love for the GOP) with something less arrogant and overreaching that did not over solve the problem of uninsured persons.

        And in general I have to admit that I wish Romney had won. Its not any one thing or anything in particular recent, (and actually I think Obama is playing pretty well with his poor hand with Putin) its just the whole experience, I’m experiencing Obama exhaustion. If a president is having a rocky first term, replace him if there is a reasonable alternative. The last 16 years have been depressing. Come to think of it most of the last 24 at least.

      • April 25, 2014 11:27 am

        Here here. I haven’t had any fun (politically) since Al Gore lost and the Berlin Wall fell down.

      • April 25, 2014 6:35 pm

        Roby L.

        How about replace ALL government benefits of any kind with Cash.
        No more food stamps, no section 8, not cheese, milk, no WIC, no heating assistance.
        No disability no …….

        Just a single fixed $amount of assistance. Impliment it something like Friedman’s negative income tax.

        I think Congress should budget a fixed total $amount/year and that is what the IRS doles out.

        You can then pay for housing, health care, health insurance, food, clothing, abortions, contraceptives or drugs, alcohol and prostitutes with it – your choice.

        Now eliminate all tax deductions.

        People are now free to make their own decisions with their lives. Some are going to take what the government doles out and use it to make their own lives worse. Some will make their lives better, for most it will make little difference.
        No one will be homeless, starving, or without healthcare for any reason except their own choice.

        What I am proposing is a bad idea – but it is a much less bad idea that what we currently have.

        If you are not sure ? Lets move towards it gradually and see what happens.
        Start with a couple of redudant small programs, eliminate them, and move the money to another program. Repeat until there are no longer a thousand different beauracracies tasked to help some small segment of the less fortunate.

      • April 25, 2014 6:37 pm

        The problem with Obama’s handling of the had he was dealt with Putin is that it appears that the Obama administration dealt the cards – off the bottom, so they can’t even cheat well.

      • April 25, 2014 6:38 pm

        Romney would have been only slightly better than Obama and Republicans would have been to blame when he failed.

    • April 25, 2014 12:38 pm

      Compromise is neither inherently good nor inherently evil.
      It is a tool. When the results of compromise are sufficiently better than losing it is worthwhile. Particularly if no actual compromise on principles is involved.

      I doubt any of us disagree on my statement above.

      Where we part is our measure of when the results of compromise are SUFFICIENTLY better than losing.

      Often that is a question of strategy and prediction rather than ideology.
      My rant against compromise is not dogma itself. But a rant against the DOGMA, that compromise is itself a positive good, rather than merely a tool, and not always the right one.

      Lets say those of use who are conservative or libertarian continue as we have for the entire history of this country to “compromise” and slow the movement in the direction of ever larger government. We already know the end. Big Government fails. Is inexhorably tip toeing to totalitarianism and hoping against hope as everything gradually declines, that at some point we will be fed up and start a slow and possibly unsustained march back the answer ?

      I do not have a crystal ball. I do not know. Maybe that really is the best choice.

      But my read of history, my gut, my instincts says no. That if we are going to fail, failing sooner is actually better than later. That we may have the best political climate since the founding of this country for actually moving toward limited government. Nearly everyone thinks government wastes more than 50% of what it spends. 72% beleive that big government is the biggest threat to the country

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 25, 2014 12:52 pm

        So your gut tells you that financial collapse and political chaos will create more freedom and positive change? What history books are you reading?

      • April 25, 2014 2:16 pm

        Well, you know, you always go with your guy. Who needs expertise anyway!

      • April 25, 2014 7:36 pm

        The experts are all shouting for more steam so we can shoot of the cliff faster.

        Offer an expert oppinion that avoids failure – not just delays it, that has a snowballs chance in hell of happening and I will be interested.

        But when nearly all the experts are OBVIOUSLY serving up failure, you are right – who needs experts.

      • April 25, 2014 9:35 pm

        You make a lot of assumptions, which explains why you are wrong so often. May experts (such as myself) opposed the PPACA. Sadly, the media doesn’t want to talk to us.

        Is that our fault?

      • April 26, 2014 12:59 am

        Is that your fault ?

        In a way yes.

        When you argue for a system run by experts, the issue of which experts is going to arrise.
        The odds of getting the “right” experts – or even that there is such as thing are small.

      • April 26, 2014 8:59 am

        You really do not read very well. Work on your comprehension. I said that I spoke out against the passage of PPACA. I did not speak out for a system run by experts.

        You added that. Stop doing that, it makes you look stupid.

      • April 26, 2014 12:31 pm

        You have been arguing for special authority and deference to experts and you have argued for a better expert designed alternative to PPACA.

        Regardless one of the inherent problems with reliance on subject matter experts is that nearly ALL argue that their field is special, even when they generally oppose government intervention, they favor it in their field. They are certain that with their help it can be done right.

        What power government has someone will try to leaverge. Whether it is business, the rich, unions, the majority of people – Or experts.

        Power is seductive – even to experts. Everyone is certain they could use power for good.

        Power corrupts.

      • April 26, 2014 12:43 pm

        You are like a fucking backboard. Nothing at all gets though your reflexive responses.

        OK, let’s kill all the experts, except for you.

        Happy now?

        You must have had an interesting childhood. I would wager you have no friends or family that can stand you.

        But, I may be wrong, as I am not an expert in your so-called life.

      • April 26, 2014 4:34 pm

        You keep trying to make this all about me.
        I have plenty of friends and I have had a good and interesting life. I have had lots of bad things happen and lots of good ones and I am happy.

        And none of that has the slightest bearing on any of our arguments.

        You keep misrepresenting me. I have no problem with “experts”, only your misunderstanding of the domains in which they have value.

        If I were investing in a new hospital, I would consult alot of experts.
        Government can not and should not try to invest, therefore it has no need for input from domain specific experts.

      • April 25, 2014 7:38 pm

        I would also note that I frequently cite “experts” to back up my own claims.

        In a war of dueling experts – how is it you make choices ?

      • April 25, 2014 9:35 pm

        I don’t know. You know all the answers, so why ask questions.

      • April 26, 2014 1:37 am

        My argument, the one you are still not getting is that neither you nor I nor the greatest experts in healthcare or whatever are capable of crafting based on the information they are capable of processing the perfect system – or in the context of government even a good enough one.

        You think I am an arrogant know it all because I keep saying your wrong.
        But I am not just saying your wrong, I am saying you are wrong because no one is capable of being right enough, because outside the system of continuous iterative refinement, and sometimes creative destruction, of competition and failure – outside the system that acheives success through risk of failure, success is not possible.

        Failure is a critical component in acheiving success. Experts mitigate the probability of failure – hopefully, but they can not eliminate it.

        We have one institution in society that we absolutely do not want to fail ever, and that is government. Guarantees are not possible, but the probability of failure increases the deeper government entangles its in those things that are not its role, those things where failure is common.

        I do not have to be expert in anything to be able to accurately predict that the best experts in existance in any field will fail occasionally.
        We do not want government taking on optional tasks where failure is possible.

        Again your expertise in healthcare makes you far more able than I am to design a private system with good odds of success. That is not good enough to incorporate something into government. And that is if we presumed that government succeeded as frequently and private efforts. It does not even come close.

        Further systems dependent on the quality of experts do not scale.
        Section 8 came from a study program in chicago that had stellar results – this is not that unusual for government programs. Start with the best experts in all the needed fields cherry pick the clients most likely to succeed in that program – and the results are amazing.
        Take exactly the same program – now run by whatever warm body you can find in your area – because there are only so many of the best and brightest, and expand it to a broad client base and suddenly government is paying to export drug dealers into middle class minority neighborhoods and destroying them.

        Even if you were right that the right experts could run a better program than PPACA,
        and even if some of the right experts exist, there were 40M unisured, you do not have enough experts. Worse still the wrong experts significantly outnumber the right ones, and as you noted they have the ear of the media, and policy makers – and you are not changing that.

        You rant at me for arguing for politically unrealistic dream of more limited government.
        You are arguing for the unrealistic dream that the media will pay attention to you, that the majority of experts who disagree with you will see the error of their ways, and that when you impliment this expert driven good public policy there will be enough quality experts who beleive in it to successfully run it.

        Yet I am the unrealistic know it all ?

        Further one of the lessons of the housing collapse and the financial crisis is that “perfection” is both unatainable and dangerous. With a few exceptions the current mess was not brought about by great stupidity, it was brought about by taking what were mostly good ideas and using the power of government to impose them by force.
        The bathtub overflows when you get the water in it moving in harmony.
        The really bad idea underlying the housing collapse and financial crisis was getting everyone chasing the same narrow set of “good ideas” at the same time for a long time.

        The free market works because everyone is not doing the same thing at the same time. Because bad ideas fail when they are small, and good ideas have to compete with other good ideas, because people must chose to act without being forced to. Because there are always nay sayers, because there is always somebody betting against you.

      • April 26, 2014 9:05 am

        Actually, Dave, I am considered an expert in HC. I won’t bore you with the resume. You clearly, are not. So, if we are trying to determine the impact of a new law on the total HC system, I can do a pretty fair job. I know that, as I am paid to do such things. You are not.

        You simply cannot know enough to comment, so, in this regard, you should remain silent.

        Now, let’s say that we want to totally destroy the existing system and replace it with “free markets!” The first questions people will ask (after the why question) is how that would all unfold and its impact on the HC system.

        You wouldn’t have a clue.

        Enter, the experts.

        I think you get it and I know you will not actually read what I wrote above.

      • April 26, 2014 12:54 pm

        And when we are trying to determine the impact of any new law on everything that is NOT healthcare and the impact of every law on the things that are NOT the subject of that law is greater than or equal to the impact within the filed the law applies to, in that context all your “healthcare expertise” is useless.

        It really does nto matter whether you are trying to predict how the law will fail, or how it will succeed subject matter expertise is far less relevant than you presume.

        PPACA is a beautiful example – as is the government action leading to the housing crisis and financial collapse. Plenty of “experts” said everything would be rosy. Other “experts” predicted failures. Pretty much no one came anywhere near close to getting it right.

        Saying “I am an expert and I predicted failure, and we got failure” does not distinguishes you from myriads of non-experts who also predicted failure – unless your specific predictions were far more accurate. Avik and others such as yourself may have provided useful information on how PPACA might fail. But in the real world the predictions of experts – even naysayers were little if any better than non-experts.

        Further, it does not matter all that much. You do not need to be an expert to predict that the odds favor failure when government interferance in markets increases.
        The primary reasons that PPACA is failing have very little if any
        thing to do with healthcare.

        Sick people are buying in. You need not be an expert in anything to predict that if you subsidize a price for some group they will buy it in larger numbers.
        That is the law of supply and demand – not some special healthcare expertise.
        Nor do you need healthcare expertise to predict that even with subsidies and penalties, the majority of those for whom buying in makes no economic sense – wont.
        Again the law of supply and demand – not healthcare.

        Though sometimes – even often the “experts” get things wrong even inside their field, the primary reasons for government failures have absolutely nothing to do with the specific domain being regulated. The primary failures are nearly always ordinary supply and demand failures. Not industry or domain specific failures.

        So again if someone is seeking to implement a fully voluntary system without government force or redistribution, those implimenting that system would be wise to seek the advice of domain experts – probably from a number of domains, of course the final decisions will be made by those providing the capitol – whose expertise is investing, and who will reap the rewards of success or suffer the rewards of failure.

        In the public sphere the answer is simpler. The expertise of domain experts can not be properly evaluated without sufficient skin in the game, and the temptation to use the power of government to smooth over problems that must actually be solved in truly voluntary systems is too great. The final decision makers are still not experts, and have too little skin in the game and too much power. The failures of PPACA are not primarily those of healthcare experts – but of those making the final decisions. In the market this is capitol. In government this is legislators.

      • April 26, 2014 1:43 pm

        Seriously, are you writing from an institution? You simply do not comprehend simple, direct statements.

        So, next time Boeing is going to design an airliner. they should hire you, Dave. Who needs expertise when we can have Dave to design the plane. He is a smart guy ( he asserts) so, what could possible go wrong?

        Notice how stuck you are right now on this issue of expertise. I suspect you possess none or you wouldn’t be so mired in this argument with yourself.

        In the meantime, I have to use my expertise to make a living. I suggest you do the same and stop boring us to death with the same message in every post.

      • April 26, 2014 5:13 pm


        I have made it repeatedly an abundantly clear that my arguments regarding reliance on experts are confined to the sphere of government action. Boeing shareholders and management must make final decisions, but I would expect they would consult a lot of well vetted experts.

        I have already posted that I am an officially blessed state certified expert in several fields.
        Do I need to provide you with the long form copy of my architectural license ? or any of several other certifications ?

        Dont repeat the same mistakes of misrepresentations over and over and I wont bore you with the same answers over and over.

        in the real world we are not that far apart. I am not sure why you have this bug up your ass regarding government healthcare experts – because that is really where the nexus of our disagreement is.

        Again. Boeing managment must make its own choices – but consulting well vetted experts would be wise. I have zero problems with any private entities free choice to use experts for any purpose.

        In the domain of govenrment the first question is whether government needs to or should act and the answer is frequently no. Experts have no role in that evaluation.
        In some domains such as law enforcement that are the legitimate role of government experts function much as they do privately – though there are myriads of additional complications.

      • April 26, 2014 5:23 pm

        The more you post, the more moderate I become. If you keep it up, I will be forced to marry Elizabeth Warren.

        It is like some kind of a sick joke!

      • April 26, 2014 8:28 pm

        Enjoy your honeymoon

      • April 25, 2014 6:56 pm

        No my mind tells me that they are nearly unavoidable. That the odds of our doing anything close to what we might need to avoid them are very low. That if I am going to act or argue I am going to act and argue for things that would solve our problems – even if it is unlikely we will do them, rather than things that will not solve our problems only delay failure and likely make it large.

        Regardless, demonstrate to me an actually viable way to avoid significant government failure – not postpone it. A way that has a real chance of occuring, a way that is not a band aide or merely delays the inevitable and I will take it very seriously.

        As noted by both of us failure – particularly government failure is very dangerous.
        Sometimes the results are greater liberty sometimes they are totalitarian.

        As I beleive serious failure is merely a matter of time, I am using my voice to make sure that as many people as possible will have heard that faith in big government is always rewarded by failure. I am looking to skew the odds as far as possible to the point were confronted with failure people will know that they have the choice of limited government, that they will have heard that it works.

        Further failure can occur many ways. What happens if we have a failure short of total collapse. What if congress increases the debt limit and no one will buy our debt ? Or the price of borrowing more becomes impossible ? When congress is forced to slash the budget I want the largest number of congressmen who have some understanding of .what limited government might look like as possible. They need not be a majority, they just need to be the people who can figure out how to run the critical parts of government on $3T/year instead of $4T.

        Romney is not one of those people.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 25, 2014 11:31 pm

        With all due respect, Dave, I think you are living in a ideological fantasy world. I think that an independently wealthy businessman, as opposed to a lawyer or career politician is EXACTLY the kind of person who can figure out how to run the critical parts of the government on $3T as opposed to $4T.

        I could be wrong. But, then again, so could you…..

      • April 26, 2014 2:00 am

        I nearly missed that you meant Romney. I respect his business accomplishments.
        But ultimately politically he is still a statist.

        He might understand how to cut when cutting needs done, but his public carreer shows no evidence of that.

        He said mostly the right things during the election. So did George Bush. Even Obama has said many of the right things.

        Give me someone who says AND BELEIVES

        “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
        Reagan’s first innaugural.

        Neither Romney nor Christie are that person.

    • April 25, 2014 1:09 pm


      Chosing losing rather than compromising is strategy and tactics, not ideology.

      The the extent any dogma exists with respect to compromise it is that compromise actual constitutes an independent positive value rather than a means to an end.

      Do I question what strategy or tactic is appropriate for each circumstance – absolutely

      This entire conflict is about the world my children will inherit from me.
      Is it possible to actually avoid failure ? My crystal ball says no. Persuade me otherwise.
      Neither of us have a clear window to the future.
      If things are going to fail – should we delay failure as long as possible or try to bring it about as soon as possible in the beleif that sooner will be smaller.

      The inevitable failure I expect provides both oportunity and danger.
      Failure can drive us to make better choices. It is a powerful positive force in the normal free market. But failure sometimes drives us to bad choices. Totalitarian regimes are usually born out of failure. I am not blind to the risks.

      MY CHOICE – mine alone. Not dogma or ideology. Just my view of the best strategy with the hope of the best outcome, is failure is inevitable, sooner is better than later.
      That beleif leads to the following choices:
      It is more important to move to the greatest possible clarity in the conflict of ideas.
      Given that there will be failure, I want positioned to be the clear alternative and the recognized opposition to those ideologies that failed.
      Throughout my life republicanism, conservatism have been the ideology of big government more slowly. That is not going to be what people are going to be looking to in the wreckage of big goverment.

      Further in the event that failure is actually avoidable OR that some small failure along the way is sufficient to trigger a sea change, should a real revolt occur early enough, there must be a force present offering a real alternative – not progressivism lite.

      I may appear stuborn, ideological, dogmatic. But I think if you look more carefully,
      the actual ideological blindness is in the unchallenged conventional wisdom that we shall all just get along no matter what that takes. That compromise is a virtual rather than a tool.

      My views look harsh and dogmatic not so much because they are, but because they challenge very dogmatic accepted and false propositions that often we do not even think about.

      Galeleo was hounded into recantation, because he challenged the strongly accepted conventional wisdom.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 25, 2014 1:32 pm

        Asmith..One neeeds to be careful when choosing losing over compromise. Aiken, Angle, O’Donnell are good example of what happens when ideology trumps compromise. NC has a race between two GOP candidates. One would require compromise on the part of the Tea Party. The other is the Tea Party favorite. One has a good chance to defeat Hagan. The tea party favorite has the chance of a fly in fly spray of defeating Hagan since his rhetoric ranks right up there with Aiken.

        What should be the choice, Compromise or re-electing another Obama puppet?

      • April 25, 2014 7:32 pm

        I do not care if republicans take over the senate.
        I do care if the Liberty caucus gets larger.
        Angles loss to Reid was tragic. Do you think Nevada would vote for Reid today.
        O’Donell was unfamiliar with the text of the bill of rights and the first ammendment.
        No candidate for dog catcher should get on a ballot without atleast knowing the elements of the first ammedment
        As for Aiken I am libertarian not Tea Party. While there is common ground, and generally I am likely to favor Tea Party candidates over Establishment republicans Aiken’s association with the Tea Party appears more political than genuine and I am always shocked that regardless of what someone might actually beleive, that they can be seduced into committing political suicide in front of a microphone. The media does an excellent job of covering up most of the idiotic remarks made by democrats.
        But anyone with a R behind their name not smart enough not to say what Aiken said should not be dog catcher. An idiot is an idiot regardless of ideology.

        I do not care that the Tea Party got behind candidates that lost. I care that they got behind BAD candidates.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 25, 2014 11:54 pm

        Asmith..and what you say is exacty my question. If there is a Tea Party candidate,as you describe an idiot, who opens their mouth and makes public this idiocy running against the establishment backed candidate that supports 75% of your beliefs, do you compromise and vote for the establishment candidate, or do you vote for the idiot knowing full well they will be defeated like so often before just to say you did not compromise any of your principles?

        I will compromise so I get 75% instead of getting 0% and legislation like Obamacare.

      • April 26, 2014 2:07 am

        A few years ago I would have been with you.

        Today, I will vote libertarian or write someone in or vote none of the above if I can.
        I would rather have a progressive democrat than an establishment republican.

        When things fail again who do you want blamed ? Either elect people who are going to repeatedly loudly consistently without compromise fight for fiscal responsibility and limited government, or elect the person you want to get the blame for the inevitable failure.

        Lets say Romney was elected in 2012, and there was another recession in mid 2016.
        Do you think that the republican party would be able to recapture the senate or the presidency again for decades ?

      • April 26, 2014 9:15 am

        Ditto the Karl Marx comment.

        You really need to get some help. The way you minimize the costs of total systems collapse and then project the nirvana that follows suggests you know NOTHING of history. Do you really think the US as it currently exists will make this nice transition back to small government and free markets. Now you are sounding like the fringe nut job libertarian that makes people run away. Just as bad, you also sound like the Occupy Wall Street crow,

        Go back and read what happened after the fall of the Roman Empire. 1000 years of relapse/pain before the world was back to square 1.

        Oh, I know that couldn’t happen here! Not in the USA, with all of our above average children.

        Wanna bet!

        Romney would school you on just about any subject under the sun. Don’t be fooled by the ah shucks personality. I have seen personally in action and he is no dummie.

        Statist? Every one is a bit statist in politics. You kind of need a state, if you are going to have politicians.

      • April 26, 2014 3:00 pm

        Please do not misrepresent my arguments.

        The possible consequences of failure scare the hell out of me.

        Give me a realistic choice that avoids it and I will take it.
        When Obama was elected in 2008 I praye hard for one of two things.
        That he would rise to the occaison of dealing with the difficult circumstances, or that everything I beleived would prove false and his progressive approach would actually work.
        My prayers remain unanswered.

        I am also not burrying my head in the sand and pretending that we can avoid failure by making half as many bad choices or the same bad choices more slowly.

        Worse still expert crafted better statist solutions actually make things worse.
        Again as we should learn from the housing crisis and financial collapse, a statist solution that works nearly perfectly will take longer to fail and the failure will be much larger.

        The USSR collapsed during my lifetime. Life in most of those nations is dramatically improved since then.

        Failure can occur innumerable ways. Most are not the Roman Empire. The greater danger today is a Weimar type failure than leads to a new Hitler.
        Regardless, plenty of governments have failed or flirted with failure in the last 50 years.
        None have resulted in 1000 years of horror. Most after a short period of chaos and adjustment have emerged stronger. Nor are all failures total.

        What if tomorow the US was unable to continue to borrow at an interest rate that was affordable ? While the consequences would be severe, and probably very bad accross the board in the short term the federal governments inability to borrow is not the same as total collapse. It would merely be a very brutile way of forcing many of the fiscal reforms that should have been imposed sooner. It is likely that after a period of adjustment, the investment that otherwise would have been locked up in new government debt, would start moving into private markets.

        In order from worst to best our choices are, delay failure and make it worse, fail sooner, or make very tough choices now and avoid it entirely.

        The last seem totally politically unrealistic. But please persuade me otherwise. .
        I would be happy to beleive a tweak here and there and all would be fine.

        You think I am ideologically dogmatic. Sorry, I would rather be wrong. I have not heard a credible argument to that effect. I have not even heard anyone really try.
        Most are kicking the can down the road and hoping for a miracle in the future.
        That is the approach that produces the worst possible failure.
        That is pretty much what the Romans did.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 26, 2014 1:41 pm

        asmith..I guess I needed to be clearer on my 75% comment. Today we have candidates running in NC for the GOP senate nomination where there are two candidates or more. One is clearly conservative fiscally and supports 100% of what I believe is needed in Washington. However, he is more moderate in social issues. On the other hand we have another candidate that is rather far right, supporitng all the issues the tea party supports. Conservative fiscal and social programs. The first candidate is probably a favorite to capture 52-53% of the November vote and take the seat Republican. The second candidate is probably a 5-6 point underdog and will have a hard time capturing the seat in NC since NC is no longer a red state as it supported Obama and now is a swing state in voting. The voters are conservative fically, but are much more moderate socially and that movement continues each year as more voters move in from blue states.All the Reid senate PAC money is going to negative ads against the first candidate since they want to take on the other one.

        So my point in this is I support the person that believes in 100% of my fiscal values, but may not support all of my social values since the other candidate that might be closer has a snow balls chance of winning. I would prefer a libertarian, but they are off the radar. Getting 100% of my fiscal views supported in washington and a few of my social values is better than supporting someone closer to all knowing they will crash and burn in November. For Tea Party people, supporting a loser is far better than supporting 75%. So again, we may end up with a senate that will support a far left SCOTUS nominee. And that is the worst thing, including a far left president, this country can stand.

      • April 26, 2014 4:43 pm

        I am libertarian not Tea Party. I do not wish to profess expertise on the details of a NC election.

        Past that there are infinite hypothetical matches. As a rule of thumb I will chose the more libertarian candidate first alternatively a fiscal conservative.
        But I am not picking an idiot regardless of their platform, and I am not voting for a statist republican merely to prevent the democrat from winning.
        And the GOP better start thinking about that because I am not alone.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 26, 2014 6:45 pm

        asmith..My definition of a statist is one that believes that government controls most everything. Might be right, might be wrong or could be partially right. Given that definition, then I also support the Libertarian thinking as my definition of a Libertarian is one that believes in limited government that only involves government based on the constitution as written, not interpreted based on political positions. That means any candidate running that believes in fiscal responsibility as well as staying the hell out of peoples moral lives is the one I will vote for. Tea Party candidates meet the fiscal requirement, but they sure do not meet the social value requirement as too many of them believe they should control a womans personal values and that is why so many go down in defeat.)JB and I have had this debate for months) It is not just NC, it is national. When the GOP decides that fiscal responsibility and complete limited government involving anything but the safety of American population is top priority, then it will begin sweeping elections. But the current crop of Tea Party candidates that want to control your social values will only end up allowing more liberal democrats in control.

      • April 27, 2014 12:11 am

        There is no absolute definition of libertarian – just as there is none of republican, democrat, liberal or conservative.

        I am not here to defend the TP, but my perception – one I beleive that the TP has deliberately fostered is that though many TP members are also social conservatives, The TP platform is focused on limited government.

        Further there are pro-choice and pro-life libertarians – nor are those the only alternatives.
        It is possible to belief that a womans right to control her own body is absolute AND that a fetus has a right to life.

        I and many libertarians diverge from the TP on Immigration, Trade, and defense issues.
        Though again there is no libertarian dogma on these views.

        My personal version of libertarianism is rooted in the Lockean Social contract – that is reflected in the declaration of independence.
        The sole role of government is securing our natural rights save the right to initiate violence against others. From the foundational nature of liberty and the critical role government plays in securing it, the application of logic will answer most political and philosophical questions.

        Regardless, I share your personal view that if the republican party wishes to thrive it needs to grasp that limited government is not just about fiscal matters. But I think that trasnformation is happening slowly and the TP is a reflection of that. For all its faults and for all the socially conservative positions of many TP candidates the TP is still a change in emphasis towards limited government

      • April 27, 2014 8:42 am

        God help me for asking but explain how this is possible:

        “It is possible to belief that a womans right to control her own body is absolute AND that a fetus has a right to life.”

        BTW-Calling it a fetus doesn’t make it a fetus. It is still a baby, with a pulse, heartbeat, brain, limbs and feelings.

        No expert jokes please as, unlike you, I only claim that status in the domain of healthcare.

      • April 27, 2014 12:12 pm

        I have zero interest in semantic debates over the names of a pregnancy.
        These are merely emotional proxies for the real questions – is the pregnancy human and what rights does it have.

        How can a woman have absolute control of her body AND the fetus have a right to life.

        Pretty trivially. The fetus has the right not to be killed. Not the right to be kept alive by someone else’s body. Fully consistent with centuries of western legal tradition, as well as the traditional negative formulation of rights.

        So what does this mean ? Any women at any time can force the removal of a fetus from her body for any reason at all. The inevitiable consequence of the excercise of that right
        MAY be death. But the womans right to force removal DOES NOT include the right to FORCE death. The state may intervene and insist on a means of removal the preserves the life of the fetus – so long as that method does not risk any additional harm to the woman.

        This logic agrees with our legal traditions, law, case law in similar areas – organ donation as one example. It is consistent with libertarian principles, and the US constitution.

      • April 27, 2014 12:44 pm

        I believe you are a sociopath.

        See definition below:

        [soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-] Show IPA

        noun Psychiatry.
        a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

      • April 27, 2014 12:20 pm


        I am not claiming to be an expert in anything. Measure my arguments on their own merits.

        My assertion of domain expertise in several domains was a rebutal of your claim I must be expert in nothing.

        If in those domains where I have some claim to be an expert my arguments devolve into “Well I am the expert, and you are not” – please tell me to go to hell.
        If I am a domain expert and I can not over come the arguments of someone who purportedly is not without appeals to my own authority – then regardless of credentials I am no expert.

      • April 27, 2014 12:46 pm

        You are correct in this regard. You are not expert, nor apparently, possess any expertise.

      • April 27, 2014 12:39 pm

        I am not looking for a holy war over abortion.

        I happen to hold the view I expanded on for you above. I first encountered that approach in a constitutional law text by Laurence Tribe. While I often dis-agree with him, he actually is a brilliant constitutional lawyer – as compared to our president. I subsequently found Walter Block who is nearly as far from Tribe politically as is possible making the same argument, which Block call “evictionism”.

        It is not an argument that is heard much. Probably because it is not likely to make either pro-life or pro-choice groups happy. At the same time it fits well with most people, who are uncomfortable with killing a fetus – whether it is human or not, and increasingly uncomfortable with doing so as that fetus develops, but who are also uncomfortable with the state interfering with a woman’s body.

        Pro-choice groups fail to grasp that the right to control of ones body is not the same as a right not to have a child once that child exists.
        Pro-Life groups fail to grasp that the right to life does not include the right to force another to use their body to sustain your life.

        Most non-progressives accept formulations of rights rooted in nature or God, and most usually grasp that a right can not impose a positive burden on another – your right to life does not include the right to force me to sustain it.

      • April 27, 2014 12:48 pm

        Ah, there must be an answer in a book. Don’t get out much, do you grasshopper?

        Go watch an abortion, come back and tell us what you felt.

        No feelings? No surprise here.

        All answers are in your “logic.”

      • April 27, 2014 2:06 pm

        Is there an argument in any of this ?

        Why do you presume to have a clue about my feelings, religion or personal experience ?
        Why do you presume that in this forum those matter ?

        You are making the same

      • April 27, 2014 2:14 pm

        Which is why in the real world, your arguments don’t make any difference. That is what being an ideologue is all about.

        And, you are one!

        On your death bed, you can console yourself with the fact that you were never wrong.

        Have fun with that.

      • April 27, 2014 8:45 pm

        So your argument is that my religious views, personal experiences and feelings – which you presume without knowing are relevant because I am an ideologue ?

        I think you are making an excellent case that you are far more intransient than I.

        But again lets assume arguendo that you are correct about my religious views, feelings, personal experience, and ideology – none of which you have a clue about.

        How would being correct about any or all of those alter the validity or invalidity of any argument I made.

        You are arguing fallaciously, worse you are far too smart not to know that you are.
        You would not accept character assassination or ad homimen from a progressive.
        Why is it acceptable when you do so yourself.

        I have no personal animus toward you, and I am struggling not to develop one.
        You make many arguments here that are incredibly astute.

        You often say more clearly and succinctly what I intended.

        I probably agree with you completely atleast 90% of the time.
        But that does not appear to be good enough for you.

        Many here may get upset with me when I attack their claims or arguments.
        But that is ALL I do – attack claims and arguments.

        If I have personally attacked another poster here – call me to task.
        If I have done so that is wrong. I do not believe I have. But I have made many posts.
        If I have I apologize in advance.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 27, 2014 11:59 am

        asmith, I think if you and I sat down and discussed at length our political perspectives, they would be much closer than it may appear when in short burst of comments like on this site. I agree with much you say on Libertarianism, while I might lean farther to the libertarian perspective in some respects than you may. As for the TP, that is a fact that the TP started out as a movement for limited government. But that movement has been taken over by the very right wing of the GOP that has turned off many with moderate social value views. Where those candidates can win in smaller limited situations like the House, winning larger elections like the Senate and national elections will be much harder. Then add to that the TP picks candidates that end up with idiots making stupid statements and that even makes the task harder.

      • April 27, 2014 1:32 pm

        There is a tendency for blog comments to become polarized.
        To the extent they do not degenerate into ad hominem I think that may be a good thing.

        On the internet where you do not have to go to work the next day with your opponent, debate tends to focus on argument, data and issues.

        Part of my debate with JB is that on a forum like TNM apeals to authority have no place.
        You likely have no idea who I really am, nor who JB or …. really is.
        My credibility, yours, JB’s even Rick’s is rooted almost entirely in our arguments.
        You do not get to appeal to authority here, because you can not prove you are an authority here. You can not even prove you are who you say you are.

      • April 27, 2014 1:40 pm

        And yet, you cite authority all the time. Tribe, Bloom, Locke, Hayek. I am supposed to care that Tribe is a Constitutional scholar. By your own admission, experts hold no sway over you yet you cite them whenever you feel like it. Hypocrisy at its finest.

        Well, which is it Dave? In your universe, you hold all the cards. However, you may have noticed that the rest of universe has left you behind.

      • April 27, 2014 1:40 pm

        The TP is as it started out. Probably the majority of TP members came from the ranks of religious conservatives within the GOP. That is not new. Some – too many, still seek to bring social conservative issues to the fore. But the TP still represents a radical change in emphasis, and is to be commended for that.

        The GOP is a big party and must acomodate a wide variety of views to win elections – particulary national ones.

        Though I would note that democrats have atleast as large a problem. More recently the democrats have once again ended up in thrall to their left flank. But they are as fragile a coalition (or more so) than republicans. Further the demographics that democrats think will save them work against them too. As the standard of living of minorities rises they eschew progressive values. Democrats once controlled Irish and Italian voters too.

      • April 27, 2014 1:51 pm

        Political candidates make mistakes all the time. It is not unique to TP candidates or republicans. Obama has had a number of Gaff’s such as the clinging to guns and bibles one. The press tends to report the most eggregious ones regardless of party – news is news and if it bleeds it leads. But the press works much harder to spin less eggreigious remarks of republicans to sound egggregious. On a quite news day where no one has said anything outrgeous, reporters are going to spend their time trying to spin some republican remark into more than it is, or to bait a republican into saying something stupid.

        Unless you are ready to shed a free press all of us must accept that those in it re going to be biased and going to reflect those biases in their reporting.

        For republican candidates, that is part of the facts on the ground.
        In any election there are several facets republicans can count on that democrats can not – a far larger volunteer network as an example. There are also advantages that democrats have that Republicans are unlikely to ever get – the implicit support of the press as an example. It is all part of a free society.

        Part of what I find interesting is that the most vociferous advocates of equality and fairness, revel in the most unfair aspects of the system – if they benefit from it.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 27, 2014 4:40 pm

        asnith, there seems to be a difference in how one puts their mouth in the ass when it comes to politics. Saying someone clings to their guns is nowhere near as repugnant as saying a woman can not get pregnant becuase her hormones or whatever are not what they should be during rape or saying being on food stamps is the same as slavery. There are few things one should not say or compare to something else. Slavery and rape are right up there on the top of the list. Somehow the TP candidates are the ones that pull this stuff out of the butts, while the left makes comments that many in America can agree with if they are anti gun anti…something. How many think slavery or rape is comparable to something else? That is why I say there are more TP idiots than the opposition has idiots, even though when they vote for legislation, they are all idiots. But htat is not in a campaign where you are asking for votes.

      • April 27, 2014 5:02 pm

        But the again, there is Joe Biden!

      • April 27, 2014 11:42 pm

        So stupid mis-understandings about biology, are worse than malicious mis-characterizations and insulting other peoples values.

        Aiken was stupid and wrong, and repeating something stupid and wrong.

        It is about as stupid as Obama’s remarks that ATM’s cause unemployment.

        Obama was maligning the values and beliefs of working class americans and calling them bitter.

        I am not sure that food stamps are slavery, they are more dependence, but forcing the rest of us to pay to food stamps for others against our will is a small form of slavery.

        Sorry, but Rape and Slavery are not taboo. Nor is discussing them the exclusive property of some group.

        I think I noted elsewhere that I was a certified Rape Counselor – I do nto know a rape counselor who was not a victim or very close to one.

        IF you bother to look hard enough you can find plenty of stupid remarks by those on the left.

        I think there are several bizare remarks about Obama by reid that could have come from Cliven Bundy – maybe Nevada makes you racist.

        “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person”
        Barack Obama

        “You can put lipstick on a pig,” he said as the crowd cheered. “It’s still a pig.”
        Obama about Palin. What would the reaction be if any republican said that about any female democrat ?

        What republican would get away with a compaign add comparing voting for them to losing their virginity ?

        Biden asked the father of a slain soldier about the size of his son’s testicles.

        The president recently called Putin a Jackass and a dick – to his face, repeatedly in public

      • Ron P permalink
        April 28, 2014 11:24 am

        Asmith..Your may personally believe rape and slavery are not taboo. But look at the polls before one of these comments are made and then after. For many moderates that will swing their votes, it make a big difference. Then look at comments that Biden makes, or the gun comment Obama made and look at the polls and for many moderates they don’t register the negativity that rape and slavery register. Could be that rape can impact 50% of Americans and slavery 15-20% (based on current race percentages)

        You may not believe there are taboo subjects to address during a campaign. That is your position and that of many running today. Make the comments and see what happens. I do believe there are certain subjects that one treads lightly on and rape and slavery are right up there in the top 5 of so. And how one uses those in comments easily places them within the idiot section of candidates.

      • April 28, 2014 12:24 pm

        Well said, Ron. While it may seem “logical” that these comments may be dismissed by the “enlightened”, the fact is that in this current climate, they are quite impactful, voting wise. When you look at the current uproar over the Clippers owner’s taped comments to his girlfriend, you can see how people run like the wind with certain subject matter.

      • April 28, 2014 4:50 pm

        “Saying someone clings to their guns is nowhere near as repugnant as saying a woman can not get pregnant becuase her hormones or whatever are not what they should be during rape”

        I took “repugnant” as a moral judgement rather than a political one.

        If in the popular judgement insulting another persons beleifs is less offensive to voters than making a biological error, than in the context of elections I am wrong.

        Though that raises the separate issue that if ordinary people are more offended by a mistake about biology than about insulting others values and beliefs, you have little hope of ever fixing government. People are going to elect progressives statists, because the value we place on our values is too low.

      • April 28, 2014 2:28 pm

        Polls do not determine morality.

        If you wish to argue that inept remarks on rape or slavery are bigger political mistakes than calling possibly the 2nd most powerful, and certainly the most dangerous world leader a “dick” – you are probably right.

        I am not a political consultant or expert in getting politicians elected. Those people do things I think are brain dead stupid, yet they work and they win.

        Are some subjects stupid to discuss in a political campaign – sure.
        Rand Paul spoke correctly about the civil rights act and it nearly cost him the election.

        Republicans need to deal with the reality of the political world. Some remarks – true or not will be politically costly. Further the same remark will be more costly for a republican than a democrat. The press is biased. That is just how it is – life is not fair, get over it.
        If you believe in liberty then you beleive that reporters can be biased, and you have no right to do anything about it

        But you made a moral argument.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 28, 2014 3:18 pm

        Tank you. We agree. Now if many of the GOP primary voters could also understand this situation and support those that are fiscal conservatives with some common sense, then we would be well on our way for change to happen.

      • April 27, 2014 1:57 pm

        The Republican establishment has not done such a great job with candidates either.

        In general those people attracted to political office – regardless of party are the ones you do not want in political office.

        That saw applies whether you are democrat, republican, libertarian or whatever.

        I would be hurt to find those politicians I currently hold in high esteem were corrupt in some way – but I would be no more surprised than if the were conservatives or progressives.

      • April 25, 2014 2:19 pm

        Yeah. You and Galeleo. That is the first name that came to me as well,.

        WOW, you full of yourself.

      • April 25, 2014 7:43 pm

        My point was not about ME or about GALELEO, It was about the dogma of conventional wisdom.

        Do you beleive that compromise is a tool or a value ? Choose one.

        There is and can be no dogma associated with tools.

        Dogma occurs over values. Really Bad Dogma occurs when you confuse tools with values
        or means with ends.

      • April 25, 2014 9:36 pm

        Backboard, meet tennis ball.

  47. April 25, 2014 11:28 am

    I lik Mitt Romeny. He is an accomplished man and seem like a genuine article. No one agrees with everyone but geez, versus Obama????

    Just my two cents.

    • April 25, 2014 12:01 pm

      I like Obama. I like Romney. I like McCain. I like George Bush and Al Gore
      But for president I would not chose any of the above.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 25, 2014 12:59 pm

        I think that character is more important that ideology in a leader. It is hard to judge a man’s character when he is a cipher, as Obama is. I believe that we have enough biographical details on the others to, at the very least, make an educated guess as to their character.

      • April 25, 2014 2:17 pm

        I am a fan of Coburn. He seems smart, principled and mature. Too bad Congress has wasted his talents.

      • April 25, 2014 6:58 pm

        I agree that character is very important. Particularly in a crisis.

        But the electorate does not

      • Ron P permalink
        April 25, 2014 1:22 pm

        AMEN!!! Now since you stretched my brain to come up with someone that I would choose, I have a very limited list. All of mine seem to be those that would not touch the position. Tom Coburn tops my list, so you can see what I mean. So who is on your list?

      • April 25, 2014 7:05 pm

        Gary Johnson, Ron Paul.
        Maybe Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

        There are actually a large number of maybe’s – I would have to see and here more of them

        I do not know Coburn well enough.

        Further as ideologically pure as I am painted as, there are a number of fiscal conservatives – some of whom I do not like as people, that I could hold my nose and vote for as president, as well as a lot of democrats and republicans that I think are really nice people that I would never vote for.

        Christie as an example is probably the best governor NJ could have hoped for. There has never been a chance I would vote for him as president

      • April 25, 2014 7:07 pm

        I would rather see a flaming progressive in the white house with democratic majorities in both houses, than another statist republican presiding over the inevitable failure that will give republicans a permanent black eye.

        If there is going to be failure – let the progressives own it

  48. Roby L permalink
    April 25, 2014 8:26 pm

    The ghost of Alfred P. Dolittle (the most original moral philosopher of his time according to Henry Higgins) with an overhead cam. If we listen any longer we won’t have any morals left at all. Best to given him his 10 pounds and then if we can find an American millionaire who is seeking a lecturer on moral values I think we can solve this.

  49. Priscilla permalink
    April 25, 2014 11:10 pm

    I think Tom Coburn is great, but we are talking about a guy who has said that he is retiring from elective office. I think it’s important that a President be someone who not only has the experience and capability to hold the office, but is someone who may actually run for it!

    Gary Johnson seems like a good guy, but come on…he has zero chance of getting elected to national office. Ditto Ron Paul, although Rand is definitely a player.

    I think that the “flaming progressive with democratic majorities in both houses” has happened already and we are living with the consequences of that right now. (Thank you, Roby, for calling out Obamacare for the dud that it is). Does anyone honestly think that we would be in this fix if the HOR had been Republican during Obama’s first 2 years in office? I think we would have gotten some form of healthcare reform, but it would have been vastly reduced in scope. Balance and moderation are important.

    I am sympathetic to fears of “creeping statism,” but if it’s “creeping” then it is incremental, and can be rolled back. Rail on Christie all you want, but he has stopped the bleeding in NJ. And that’s saying something……

    • April 26, 2014 1:44 am

      Johnson was a republican and a successful governor. I think his choice to run as a libertarian was a mistake, But Ron Paul did that too and recovered.

      Ron Paul almost certainly is not running again. But in 2012, until head to head polling against candidates other than Romney stopped Paul was polling within 2 points of Obama, and sometimes ahead. While the only poll that actually matters is the one on election day, that still is not “unrealistic”. What was unrealistic was the possibility of Paul winning a GOP nomination, his odds in a general election were better.

      • April 26, 2014 9:06 am

        I would vote for Rand Paul. He has no chance of becoming president unless he has sex reassignment surgery.

      • April 26, 2014 2:11 pm

        I would vote for Rand also. I would probably grudgingly vote for Cruz, Maybe Rubio – as well as a variety of lessor names unlikely to become prominent.
        But I will cast a protest vote if the GOP puts up another establishment or statist candidate.
        And I will do that at every level – from my township commissioner through president.

        I will not vote for someone merely because they had an R after their name.

    • April 26, 2014 1:47 am

      When ever have we had an instance of statism creeping backward in the US ?
      Even Reagan at best slowed the march toward ever bigger government he did not even breifly reverse it. Absent radical change the only question is how long it will take to reach failure. Ever bigger government will eventually fail with certainty. In my view we are getting uncomfortably close to that failure.

      • April 26, 2014 9:07 am

        You actually sound a lot like Karl Marx.

        Seriously, you do.

        You should look into that.

      • April 26, 2014 2:14 pm

        So the answer to the question “when have we seen statism in the US actually retreat ?”

        Is that I sound like Marx ?

        I am sure that I sound like alot of people. I look like some others too.
        What has that got to do with anything we are discussing ?

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 26, 2014 9:08 am

        It has happened, just not in the comprehensive, radical way that you seem to think it must. Granted, it has happened far more on the state than on the federal level. And, on the state level, in happens when a strong and capable executive (e.g.Walker, Christie, Jindal) leads the way and the legislature follows.

        Congress has become a fairly useless bunch, regardless of party… is one of the reasons that I admire Ted Cruz – whether one agrees with him or not, he is persistent in his attempts to get the Congress to do its Constitutional job. But, I don’t think that he is a good choice for President, at least not now. We need a firebrand in the Senate, not in the White House. In the WH, we need a strong and capable executive, whose primary goal is to begin reining in and returning the federal government to its appropriate role, without doing harm to the economy or to our national security.

        There are probably only 2 ways that this can happen – over a long period of legislative reform, coupled with the rolling back of the federal bureaucracy by executive order…..or in a short burst of radical, and likely violent, change, the result of which is hardly likely to look like what we know as our republic.

      • April 26, 2014 9:21 am

        Well said, as usual Priscilla.

        Your point about states is quite dead on. When power is sucked away from DC and returned to the states, freedom increases. I was free to move from CA (our version of the USSR) and move to Iowa, where our state government works pretty darn well (and largely leaves us alone).

        When I retire, I will relocate to a state that suits my fancy (as best as I can find). So, in a way, the Federalist system sets up free markets, in the form of mobility. And we can see, people tend to prefer to move to certain states (like Texas) and those states prosper (as do their politicians, like Perry, Branstad and the like).

        Who is moving to Michigan and Illinois, or even Massachusetts? I bet not too many. Businesses cannot get out of NY fast enough and their employees will follow.

        Self-selection is a wonderful thing. Someday, I hope all the loons are in about 5 states and we can then proceed to ignore them steadfastly.

      • April 26, 2014 3:07 pm

        Federalism is the system of allocating power between the federal and state governments.

        The system where different entities have to compete and those with the best approaches do better than those who make worse choices is called free market competition.
        And absent one world government it applies not just to individuals and corporations, but states and nations.

        In general states throughout this country are making better choices than the federal government. Some are making much better choices than the federal government.
        Most if not all are bound by something approximating a balanced budget requirement.

        Still overall our states only look good next to the federal government.

      • April 26, 2014 3:11 pm

        You grasp that competition between states exists and mostly works. Yet the expert solution would be to homogenize them.

      • April 26, 2014 3:16 pm

        Go fuck yourself.

      • April 26, 2014 2:27 pm

        Sorry, an overly broad challenge. There have on very rare occasions been short periods of movement towards limited government in a few states – kudos to those states.
        There are also states that have moved towards greater statism slower than the norm – tiny kudos to those.

        . I can not think of a single instance at the federal level, the closest we come is the deregulation of Carter followed by the tax and general spending cuts of Reagan. But with both government grew net faster than the economy.

        My challenge was for an example of any movement away from statism ever.
        Even if someone came up with an actual instance at the federal level, it would still be true that the nearly uninterrupted trend for over 200 years has been towards ever greater statism and we know that is the road to failure.

        Further for most of our history Republicans have at best moved more slowly towards statism than democrats. Though some republicans – like Nixon and Bush sought to outdo democrats rather than undo.

    • April 26, 2014 1:49 am

      We both agree that Christie is the best governor that NJ could possibly have gotten.
      I hope he remains NJ’s governor for years. They need him.
      The nation on the other hand does not.
      We have done the George Bush statist republican thing. We do not need a repeat.

      • April 26, 2014 9:08 am

        So, who is your knight in shining armor?

      • April 26, 2014 2:17 pm

        I am not looking for a knight in shining armor. I will be happy with most anyone who will actually work towards a less powerful government – even a little less.

        Every republican in the primary is going to say that. I am looking for one that can actually be beleived – a rare attribute in politicians.

    • April 26, 2014 1:52 am

      We did have Flaming progressive majorities acrross the board and the results were really bad.

      They were bad enough to flip the house. But not bad enough to flip the senate or presidency. Worse in flipping the house we stopped the bad results before the failure bas bad enough for enough people to really learn from it. Failure without learning is just failure.

      • April 26, 2014 12:09 pm

        I’m alive and well, in case any of you missed me. Dave, welcome back to the arena. I see you’ve posted about 100 comments (more or less) since your return. I admire your energy and stamina, really I do. And I encourage you to continue, even though my e-mail in-box is impossibly flooded. But of course I must challenge your assumption that pure, unadulterated, 250-year-old classical liberal principles would still serve us in today’s global and high-tech economy.

        Without some form of government intervention, today’s capitalists will continue to eliminate jobs, outsource what’s left, and gradually destroy the middle class that thrived in the second half of the 20th century. I can’t stand by and watch this happen.

        Pure unfettered capitalism, like nature itself, is an amoral system. Corporatism goes beyond that: it’s a borderline evil system. The natural tendency of both systems is winner take all, and the end result is a two-tier feudal society of aristocrats and serfs. The only difference is that today’s aristocrats aren’t hereditary lords; most of them won their status by gaming the system to their advantage. Their children and grandchildren, however, WILL be hereditary lords, so essentially it’s back to the Dark Ages after a millennium of social progress. Now tell me why a little intervention by the state is such a bad thing.

      • April 26, 2014 12:26 pm


        I don’t know anyone (except Dave) that believes that “pure, unfettered capitalism” is an ideal.
        That is anarchy. However, your assertion that capitalism is amoral (evil) is pure nonsense. Capital of all kinds (human, resources, fiat money, etc.) is necessary for life to function. I “own” my own capital (my resources) by definition. I can employ that capital by any legal means that I may choose and under the law, there should be few ways to extract that capital from me without my free consent.

        That system is ultimately the MOST moral system that we can devise. The only alternative is that I own some of your capital or that I assume that I can coerce/steal your capital simply because I have more power or a good idea. That is the purest form of evil.

        That is what slavery looks like. I do notice that you assume that “capitalists” (we all own capital, so by definition, we are all capitalists) want to destroy the middle class in order to hoard/steal all the “capital” that they can.

        This is ludicrous on its face. No consumers, no trade, no transactions, no resources. Now, that does not mean that there are not a small number of capitalists (G. Soros comes to mind) that want to hoard capital in order to exert power over others.

        To generalize that ass clown to all capitalists is simply flawed logic.

        The issue here becomes the use of crony capitalism, which is NOT a problem of capitalism but of power. The comrades in the Soviet Union were no different than the guys in DC. Power is the issue, not capital.

        And no, we are not going back to the Dark Ages and no, the Dark Ages were not created by capitalists. It was capitalism that released people from the Dark Ages, and not the other way around.

        I thought you knew your history better than that.

        Again, humans, by nature, are economizing animals. On average, we will always seek to do things faster, cheaper, better. That is what drives the surge to technology and the impact it is having on our lives. Unless you find a way to change our nature, this surge will not stop, no matter what economic system is in play.

      • April 26, 2014 4:25 pm

        Capitolism is a word created by Marx.
        What I beleive in is free markets.
        Anarchy is a system without any government at all.
        I advocate for much the same minarchist system that our founders did.
        One where the purpose of government is to secure our natural rights – no more.

        Aside from your total misrepresentation of my views, I believe I entirely agree with everything else you have said.

        The only quible I have is the ambiguity of employing your capitol in any means that you choose “under the law”.

        The USSR had laws and they prohibited almost all uses you might have made of your own capitol. All law is not equal, nor legitimate. Just because a law has come into being – regardless of how, does not make that law a legitimate constraint.

        We tend to obey the law – legitimate or otherwise, because government is force.
        But neither the force of government nor our obedience alone make law legitimate – otherwise the USSR was just fine.

      • April 26, 2014 4:13 pm


        First classical liberal principles have actually evolved over time. Smith conceived the outline of ALL economics – not just Classical Liberals. Myriads since him have refined this element and that. aspects of classical liberalism have continued to evolve right through to today. James Buchannon conceived of Public Choice – the application of the same principles of human behavior that cause you to insist that business must be regulated to government. Guess what ? However badly you think the flaws of humans play out in a free market they both theoretically and evidenced in reality play out WORSE within government. Past classical Liberals have hinted at that, but rigorous public choice analysis is very modern – very classical liberal, very well rooted theoretically and in the real world.

        Next as the world grows larger – and smaller and more interconnected and more prosperous, classical liberalism actually works better. Part of the reason that things have not collapsed already is that the modern global market place is better able to route arround the damage of the state. Had you imposed government the scale we have today on nations of the 19th century they would have failed pretty much instantly.

        You argue for government intervention. But the history of government intervention is absymal. When government increases its power in order to “regulate” markets, that is precisely when the corruption, cronyism etc. that you lament occurs. If government has the power to act in the economy – that power WILL be bought by someone.

        You are also arguing to solve problems that solve themselves.
        Yes in some instances governments have past laws and regulations and something has improved. But numerous other improvements or even the same improvements in other nations have occured totally on their own with no government intervention at all.

        Inexhorably businesses will ALWAYS seek ever greater productivity. Absolutely zero argument. Often that will require eliminating jobs or outsourcing. On net that is a positive good. Should we really join the Luddites and burn all the weaver looms ?
        Increased productivity means making more at lower cost. Any person in any job anywhere in the planet that thinks they can get ahead merely by doing the same thing day after day is in serious trouble. The US today has more heavy manufacturing than EVER before.
        It is also the largest and most profitable producer of manufactured goods in the world.
        What has changed is there are far fewer manufacturing jobs and they pay far more.

        You can expect that to continue relentlessly. You can not stop it. If you succeeded all that will happen is the standard of living in other nations will catch up to and then exceed that of the US. There is no other means in existance to improve standard of living but to produce ever greater value. Stop that process and not only do other nations advance beyond us, but our standard of living actually declines. GDP has grown by a factor of 5 since 1959. The population has increased 60%. If we had exactly the same jobs at the same productivity today our standard of living would be about half what it was then, instead of more than double.

        Those jobs whose value has declined – everyone wants better products at lower prices, that means that the value of yesterdays products must decline, MUST pay less.
        This is not the consequence of nefarious greedy capitolists. It is your and my fault.
        I am surrounded by all kinds of goods that either did not exist in the past or are far cheaper and often better today. I want that – you want that. That can not happen without productivity increasing, and that can not happen if the same employee is doing the same thing for the same pay as 10 years ago.
        These changes that you lament are not only inevitable, but they happened because you and I demanded it.

        Corporatism is not borderline evil. It is just plain evil. Corporatism is the nepotistic relationship between government and business. The power to regulate is the power to decide winners and losers, and that is a valueable power. Business will pay handsomely to bend that power to its will. What you fail to grasp is that it is unecescary power. Worse it is corrupting power.

        Free exchange is trivially demonstrably not a “winner take all system”. That is pure idiocy.

        An economics professor conducted a simple experiment in econ 101.

        He bought $200 of assorted cheap trinkets and doled them out randomly but evenly amoung the glass. He asked each student to assign a value to what they had.
        Then he told them they could exchange what they had with others, for 30 min.
        When they were done he asked them to value what they had on the same scale again.
        Results: NO ONE assigned a value to their initial condition that was higher than their end condition. Put differently even though the class started and ended with $200 of trinkets. Every single student placed a higher value on what they had after exchange than before.

        This is very close to absolute with all exchanges everywhere all the time. Sometimes people cheat and steal. Sometimes people make poor choices and regret it.
        But the overwhelming norm is that each exchange – labor for money, money for goods. leaves both parties better off than they were. Your employer values your labor more than the $100 he pays you. You value the $100 more than your labor. The minimart values your $50 more than the gas you buy. You value the gas more than the $50 you pay.

        Do we grumble about our pay or the cost of gas or the laziness of employess or the demands of customers ? Absolutely. But no one forced either party to make any of these exchanges. They did so because they wanted to and because they valued what they got more than what they gave.

        Your entire “winner take all” meme is a vile distortion of reality. It clouds your perception and compels you to mistake good for evil.

        Throughout the world and in the US – totally contrary to the idiotic assertion of progressives over the long term everyone is doing better. You make this bifurcation argument, so if serfs are being created all over where are they. Where is the group of specific people that has less today than a decade ago ? Look at real people, not progressive statistical misrepresentations. Do you have more today than a decade ago ?
        Not more income, but more actual wealth, better cars, better food, cloths, more and better phones, TV’s computers refridgerators, …… the answer in the US and through out the world, is yes, for nearly every race, class, culture, country, or economic group.

        The parents of the Bangeledeschi’s that are injured by the hundreds in factories today, were starving by the millions when I was a child. Most of my lower class poor tenants today are materially better off that my upper middle class family was 50 years ago.

        You are not some millenial, born yesterday. You have lived through the cold war, the space age, vietnam, gas lines, Komeni, WTC.
        You have no excuse for not seeing the world as it really is.

  50. April 26, 2014 12:28 pm

    So, my dear friend, the issue is not whether there will be government intervention (there will always be that) but the nature of that intervention. Government as it stands today in America is pretty darn corrupt and ineffective.

    I have to said with Dave on this one; we need much less of it than we have now.

    Humans are very capable animals. If we stopped dumbing them down (public education) we might start to see some improvements in our lives.

  51. April 26, 2014 1:48 pm


    I think Uncle Milton makes it perfectly clear here:

    • April 26, 2014 2:55 pm

      Amusing clip, but both the private and public sectors at their best have accomplished wonderful things. Uncle Miltie didn’t mention all the great public works projects from ancient Rome to the New Deal and beyond. And he didn’t really defend the concentration of wealth in absolute terms; he just said that we were better off than the Soviets and Nazis, which is a little too easy. I agree that most government officials don’t deserve our trust these days, but that’s partly because so many of them are in thrall to lobbyists, most of whom represent wealthy interests. The whole system stinks to high heaven.

      What would I replace it with? Something like the postwar economy, with higher taxes (not crushingly high as in the postwar era), a healthy manufacturing base (will we ever see that again?), and less sheer greed as a motivating factor. (I remember when there was actually a kind of mutual loyalty between employers and employees, for example.) It’ll be hard to stuff this genie back into the bottle, but for the sake of the middle class I think we need to try.

      • April 26, 2014 3:06 pm

        Bad data again, my friend. Tax receipts by the Federal Government are at an all time high (even adjusted for inflation and as a % of GDP.


        Back to Milton, he never advocated that there is no role for government and I certainly have not. The issue is one of how much and where. You favor income redistribution, I do not. Frankly, it is theft pure and simple. I don’t want money taken from the guy down the street and given to me.

        What I want from the government is to give me what I have been promised when my wages were conscripted into SS and Medicare. No more, no less.

        As for manufacturing, we could have more of it. How much of the cost of making something here is driven by the government. Much! Attack the cost structure from that position. I can tell you as a former CEO it is much easier to manufacture something here in the US. However, it can also be MUCH more expensive. The cost is the issue.

        As for your memory of mutual loyalty, I think it is simply a bad memory. Employees leave employers every day and have always done so, often with no notice whatsoever.

        Ditto, employers fire employees when they can.

        That has also always happened.

        I think you may have rose colored glasses on regarding the 50s. I lived there too and it was no picnic.

      • April 26, 2014 6:11 pm

        Again excellent.

        AS I noted elsewhere. US manufactured output has grown since the 50’s.
        It has grown as a percent of world manufatured goods.
        It has grown in both relative and absolute terms compared to every single country in the world (except China since 1980).

        The ONLY us manufacturing statistic to decline is the number of low skilled jobs.
        There are few manufacturing jobs left for high school grads. US manufacturing jobs are fewer and much better paid.

        If you want an improving standard of living this is the only way that can occur.

      • April 26, 2014 6:01 pm


        Oh please.

        What are the great public works projects of the New Deal ?
        Can we quit repeating progressive crap.
        The New Deal was a gargantuan waste of money.
        The US entered the depression FIRST and left it LAST, and had the unique distinction of having a severe recession in the middle of the depression.
        The new deal was an end to end unmittigated disaster that protracted the depression and needlessly increased suffering.

        Those nations with greater freedom are better off than those with less.
        Universally, invariably. Whether the comparison is at the extremes or in the middle.
        More liberty means a wealthier society.
        If Milton did not say exactly that I will, and there is an enormous amount of robust data to support that.

        AGAIN, the US manufactures a greater percent of the worlds goods than EVER before.
        Even in the 50’s.

        What WE need to do is get out of the way. Those experts I purportedly hate, tell us that
        greater freedom, lower taxes, lower govenrment spending, lower debt all correlate strongly to higher standard of living. The “experts” know what works, it is progressives, politicians and progressives pretending to be moderates that don’t and have interfered with all of our prosperity in their delusional efforts to fix problems that do not exist.

      • April 27, 2014 1:42 pm

        Dave: You really stepped into this one. What are the great public works projects of the New Deal, you ask? The Public Works Administration (PWA) alone accounted for 34,000 projects, including the Grand Coulee Dam, the Fort Peck Dam, New York’s Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge, the Overseas Highway linking Key West to the mainland, over 7000 school buildings, 11,000 road projects, plus airports, warships and hospitals. What’s interesting is that this agency contracted with private companies for all its projects — the ideal case of government supporting a private enterprise system that had imploded.

        The WPA (Works Progress Administration) focused on smaller local projects and directly hired the unemployed — 3 million of them — to build museums, civic buildings, parks and playgrounds, schools, college buildings, art centers and a lot more. The various federal arts projects (art, music, theater, writing) employed thousands of hard-up artists and reached millions. Again, here’s a textbook case of the government stepping in during a crisis, saving the unemployed from starvation and creating lasting works for the public good. Just awful, isn’t it?

        As for the recession of 1937-38, explanations range from the tightening of the money supply by the Federal Reserve to cutbacks in the public works programs. (FDR listened to conservative advisors on this one, unfortunately.) The crash of 1929 was a private sector fiasco. The system had over three years to recover on its own before FDR took office, yet somehow we sank even deeper into depression until March 1933. When FDR took the reins, the economy rebounded right up until that recession, which most likely resulted from a reversal of New Deal policies.

        The general consensus today (aside from you staunch free-market warriors) is that FDR’s “socialist” relief and public works programs saved American capitalism.

      • April 27, 2014 3:36 pm


        I apologize I misspoke. What I should have said was “What where the successful projects of the New Deal”. The New Deal was a massive government intervention into society.
        FDR spent enormous amounts of money, and that money bought things.
        The relevant question ALWAYS is whether that money was well spent.

        The irrefutable answer regarding the New Deal was a resounding NO!

        I can go through New Deal programs one at a time – the “expert” judgment on nearly all you cited is overwhelmingly bad.

        But the “big picture” is sufficiently damning.


        The US was first into the depression and last out.
        The US was the only nation that had a recession – one that was worse than the 1920 depression, in the midst of the depression.
        There was little or no evidence of significant recovery prior to the start of WWII.
        Arguably the depression continued through the war.

        All of the efforts of FDR as a whole failed misserably.

        It is entirely possible that you are correct that some specific New Deal program was not a resounding failure, but as a concept the New Deal FAILED in practice.

        Do you really despute this ?

        I have JB claiming that I have no heart – perhaps you wish to join him.
        But sorry I have a great deal of compassion for others and act on that in my privately life.

        Acting to create the appearance of compassion in ways that harm others and do not help and arguably harm those you intended to help is illogical. It is also incompassionate, immoral, and repugnant.

        Accusing people of lacking compassion because they oppose wasted efforts that accomplish nothing is itself incompassionate, and vile.

      • April 27, 2014 4:26 pm


        To quote Uncle Milton:

        “Where will you find these Angels who you will trust to make these decisions?”

        Well, Dave is, apparently, one of those Angels, so we should just listen to him and stop thinking.

        The truth is that NO ONE knows how the Economy would have turned out if FDR had not come on the scene. Many economists feel that FDR prolonged the recession and turned it into the Great Depression. I am one of those who so opine.

        Yet, there are many who feel exactly the opposite.

        So, since no one (except Dave) knows with certainty, we can agree to disagree.

        Now, what we can also do is to look at the history of recessions in the US, going back to our founding. On balance, I think the evidence shows that recessions, when left alone, are blessedly brief and recoveries, robust. Don’t blame me, I didn’t do the research, I am citing experts who DID do the research (Dave doesn’t need research, he merely needs to look up the answer in the Austrian handbook). In particular, Rothbard blames central banking meddling and convincingly so.

        I think our current economy suggests that after $2T in stimulus and years with free money, the recovery has, in a word, sucked. Compare ours with other economies who refused to meddle. They did better.

        So, the government built things during the Great Depression. I don’t think we need to destroy them, but enjoy them as they are there. I would not advocate that we do that new deal again, however.

      • April 27, 2014 8:59 pm

        Thank you for the support,
        even if you had to lace it with ad hominem and more claims to knowledge about me that you do not have.

      • April 27, 2014 4:28 pm

        No Dave, like the straw man, you have no heart. That is pretty clear in your writings.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 27, 2014 4:31 pm

        Rick, isn’t also a fact that the main difference in social welfare programs today compared to the 30’s is people do not need to work to receive assistance? The WPA and all the other programs designed to help in the 30’s required some form of work to receive assistance. Today is appears one can sit on the ass, peddle dope or sex and receive all the government support one can ask for.

      • April 27, 2014 4:37 pm

        I believe you are correct. My grandfather told me that the people who received government assistance were totally ashamed and tried to keep it a secret if they could.

        A lot has changed in that area.

      • April 27, 2014 9:03 pm

        The WPA took people from their families, transported them often accross country, put them into barracks to live, made them do manual labor frequently building things that contributed nothing to peoples immediate needs, and then paid them crap.

        That is much different than today. We provide better for criminals.

      • April 27, 2014 9:05 pm

        If Rick actually wishes to bring back the WPA as a substitute for todays public assistance, as it would be a significant improvement over current programs I would not object.

      • April 27, 2014 5:23 pm

        There are myriads of explanations for the Recession of 1937-38. Tightening the money supply is only one and not sufficient. Increased taxes, greater hostility to business, failure of New Deal programs, and inconsistent federal policy are all amount the contributing factors or alternate explanations.

        Choose one, some or all of these explanations, they ALL fall at FDR’s feet. They are ALL failures of government. The 1937-38 recession – WORSE than the cial 1920 depression, is the one downturn in US history that is irrefutably a failure of the federal government.

        You and I can argue over which factors were most signifcant – I would posit Policy inconsistancy and tax increases. But does it matter. In the midst of a depression FDR and government got things sufficiently wrong to cause a nearly 20% drop in GDP and the highest unemployment in the depression.

        It happened, evil greedy capitalists did not do it. It occurred at the time the nation could least afford it. Real people already hurting badly were devasted.

        Have moderates and progressives such as yourself no compassion ?

        Is it acceptable that FDR screwed over an already suffering people – because he claimed good intentions ?

      • April 27, 2014 6:18 pm

        I don’t know if he could really claim good intentions either. I think he should have admitted he was clueless and let someone else take over the show.

        WW2 saved us, economically speaking.

        Didn’t hurt post war either. Much of the good times that Rick remembers stems from the fact that Europe and Japan were in tatters and we have the greatest manufacturing capacity in the world.

        Who else could make stuff?

      • April 27, 2014 11:53 pm

        Higgs argued persuasively I think that the depression continued throughj the war and recovery did not actually start until after. I do nto think he is alone in that view.

        It is my personal view that the War end the depression = but not because of the “stimulus” of war spending – Barro found even war spending to have a multiplier below unity, but because after war everything looked easy and we beleived we could do anything, so we did.

        I was interviewing for a sales position in 2003 and one of my prospects was a Green Beret corpal who had been in afghanistan. I amde the mistake of asking if he could deal with cold calls and rejecting. His answer was – as long as they aren’t shooting at him.

        The economies of Europe and Japan exploded post war experiencing much higher growth than the US – and the left frequently uses this to prove that state run economies can out perform free markets. Forgeting that we financed growth in europe and Japan, and that everything in europe and japan was destroyed, they had to rebuild rapidly.
        Their post war growth also stalled rapidly. England prior to Thatcher was in danger of falling out of the first world.

      • April 27, 2014 5:39 pm

        I have no idea where you get this “general consensus”.

        Again the depression started First in the US, The US exited last, Only the US had a deep recession in the middle and the depth of the depression was by far greatest in the US.
        FDR did a bang-up job!

        Overall I am ambivalent about FDR. His economic handling was abysmal. As you noted FDR was not consistently progressive. Policies changed with his whim – this is worse than bad ideologically consistent policy. Much of his handling of the war was poor.

        That said he understood well ahead of everyone else that our involvement in WWII was unavoidable. His actions prepared the nation and as a result substantially shortened the war.

        Further there is substantial “expert” oppinion – from both the time and more recent analysis that directly contradicts your non-existant “general concensus.

        I would recommend recent work by Cole, Ohanian, Higgs,

        Even Christine Romer attributes recovery to purely monetary causes – ones outside the control of the Federal government.

        I can not think of a single respected modern economist left or right that attributes recovery from the Great depression to ANYTHING that FDR did.

  52. April 26, 2014 2:06 pm

    jb: When I say that pure capitalism is “amoral,” I mean just that: neither good nor evil, but like nature itself: rewarding those that can carve out a successful niche, and unconcerned with the welfare of individuals who slip through the cracks. And of course I know that capitalism lifted us out of feudalism back in the Middle Ages. (Hey, I was a history major.) And yet…

    What I find ironic is that capitalism has replaced one aristocracy with another. Granted, many of the new aristocrats earned their status, but many of them really didn’t: I’m thinking of the outlandish rewards heaped on corporate CEOs, investment bankers, hedge fund managers, pro athletes and pop-culture celebrities. When we were kids, the average CEO earned about 20 times the average income of his employees. Even superstar athletes like Mickey Mantle earned only about 10-20 times the average American’s salary. (Today the ratio is more like 400-1.)

    Just one example: the fired COO of Yahoo was just awarded a $90 million golden parachute for 15 months of substandard performance. This is crazy, and it makes a mockery of honest work by Americans struggling to stay in the middle class (because their jobs have been outsourced to Asia — or their companies just decided to “trim the fat” to please investors).

    I’m really alarmed by the trajectory we’re taking. Dave likes to claim that even poor people today live better than middle class people did 50 years ago, but that’s at best a partial truth based on the low prices of goods manufactured in Asia. Higher education has become unaffordable for everyone except the rich and Affirmative Action kids; that’s dangerous. We have legions of college grads not only saddled with lifelong debt right out of the chute, but having to settle for pathetic jobs at WalMart or Starbucks.

    I haven’t even mentioned the collapse of the blue-collar middle class that flourished in the mid-late 20th century. Maybe this was an anomaly, but it’s sad to see all that hard-won prosperity destroyed in our lifetime. We really are living in a trickle-up economy, and the much-maligned “1%” really has become a little too adept at siphoning wealth into its coffers.

    • April 26, 2014 2:58 pm

      I think you are more pessimistic than I am For example, you cite college as unaffordable but on its face, that is false. In fact, there are more students in college now than there ever has been before. Well, you will point to student debt levels.

      Well, should students go to college for free? Of course not, as there is no free. And, overall, if you pick the right major, your return on the cost of college should be more than fine. If you major in art history, well, you picked the wrong major and that is on you for not doing your homework.

      So, what do you want? More students graduating from college or fewer one’s with less debt?
      The fact is the rate of inflation in college tuition is higher than increasing health care costs. Why? The availability of debt to finance the demand for college. And, since colleges fight very hard to restrain competition, the demand cannot be accommodated and the price rises.

      Freer markets for college training would help here but don’t count on it. Rick, you damn the 1% but EVERYBODY is self-interested and protects their own. I am developing a new master’s program at my University. One step I have to complete is tell all of the other colleges in Iowa about it and get this, get their endorsement?

      What the hell? That is ant-trust on its face. Would freer markets tolerate this? Ah, no.

      Face it buddy, self-interest rules, here and in Russia, China and wherever.

      PS-there is no trickle up economy. Remember, the capitalist risks his money before a single product is sold. Employees get paid, suppliers get paid. The return to capital only happens at the end, if at all.

      And for that, they get to pay about 55% of the total tax bill for the entire country.

      Great deal? Maybe.

      PS-Anyone who buys Yahoo stock is a dummy. If you want to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for that shareholder. You didn’t pay a dime to the COO who left, but the shareholder did.

      • April 26, 2014 6:03 pm

        I can not think of a thing to add – beyond very well said.

      • April 26, 2014 6:34 pm


    • April 26, 2014 5:19 pm


      While mostly I do not seek to attach a moral value to “capitolism”, the real issue is individual liberty. That is not amoral. It is actually the foundational value for all morality.
      The acts of slaves have no moral meaning, and positive moral actions of slaves acrue no merit to their masters.

      Past that the benefits that free markets have provided the world with – not only raising us from fuedalism, but radically increasing the standard of living of the entire world in the past 50 years, is in arguably an enormous moral good. Nothing in human history approaches it.

      So judged merely on outcome capitolism is indisputably moral.

    • April 26, 2014 5:27 pm


      Who is it that rewarded all these people who have been outlandishly rewarded ?
      Did government chose the pay scale for atheletes ?

      Every single example you cited is someone who was compensated by people who freely chose to provide that compensation in return for value.

      You are free to chose not to do so yourself. But you have no right to demand that someone else compensate another according to your standards. You have no right to tell others what they must do with what is theirs. It is irrelevant whether you think some earned their way and others did not. All that matters is that whatever rewards they received were through free and voluntary exchange with others – that no force/violence was involved.

      That’s it. Your right to interfere are limited to thwarting violence.

      • April 26, 2014 5:32 pm

        I already said that.

        Yahoo paid the COO the golden parachute. It is Yahoo’s shareholder’s problem.

        You can extrapolate the rest.

      • April 27, 2014 1:55 pm

        Dave: The team owners and studio heads pay those outlandish salaries, and of course they’ve passed the cost along to the consumer. Example: Baseball used to be the national pastime, enjoyed (and attended) by people of all classes. Today the tickets are priced beyond the reach of working-class (and even many middle-class) families. I’m a baseball fan from way back, but I refuse to help pay those $25 million salaries; I haven’t been to a Major League game since the 1990s. The ticket prices don’t seem to have hurt attendance, so the demand is still there. But I suspect the demand is coming from a different demographic than in the past. Lots of corporate boxes, fewer working stiffs.

      • April 27, 2014 2:12 pm


        You are not being accurate here. If the tickets for pro sports were priced beyond what the middle class can afford, they could not fill the arenas as they consistently do. Moreover, the smarter of us can enjoy pretty much free viewing which was not available back in the golden 60s.

        Moreover, no one is “entitled” to attend a sporting event at a price certain. If the sports team owners cannot make the dollars work, they lose their own money.

        Come on, you can do better than this.

      • April 27, 2014 8:31 pm

        Your response is better than mine.

      • April 27, 2014 10:19 pm

        Thank you!

      • April 27, 2014 8:22 pm

        You do understand that your response is self contradicatory.

        If attendance is up, then ticket prices are clearly not to high.

        Regardless, even John Rawls who provides what there is of philosophic underpinning for progressivism addressed the high salaries of professional athletes and found them acceptable.

        You have not been to a Major League game since the 90’s – sounds like a perfectly reasonable expression of your values and a legitimate market response.
        Should enough people share your values, prices and salaries will drop.

        If all you want is to watch a baseball game there are about a dozen free every weekend from spring through fall in my community.

        We would all love to free or cheap home base seats to Watch Modern Day Mickey Mantle’s. Our wishes are not rights. If you wish to set ticket prices and player salaries – buy the team, or do not by tickets if prices are to high.
        You presume something nefarious. Players demand the highest salaries they beleive they can get – no different from you or I. Owners price tickets to be paid as much as they can get – no different from you or I.

        60% of MLB fans earn less than 75K/year divided into roughly equal groups for each 15K of earnings, 40% are women, 84% are white, 43% are over 50.

        Both my wife and I have employers that provide tickets to employees and their families several times a season to the local professional baseball team.

        I would not attend at all otherwise and still do attend less than 1/4 of the games I could see free. If corporate boxes are keeping MLB afloat and paying player salaries you should be happy. Or would you prefer as in the past that players received crap and suplimented their earnings as the Chicago Blacksox did ?

    • April 26, 2014 5:36 pm

      It is not just the poor but everyone, it is not just in the US but accross the entire planet that standards of living have doubled in the past 40 years.

      Is the mass production of goods at much lower prices in china a factor – absolutely. But it is only one of many. Further that specific example refutes the entire progressive ideology that you claim to reject while repeating.

      The production of inexpensive goods in china have inarguably made BOTH the people in china and the poor in the US wealthier. You lamanet that in the process some jobs have moved to china. Sure. But it is still overwhelmingly inarguable that the NET result is positive. Those jobs shifting to china absolutely had a negative .impact – but even you grasp that the poor are actually better off. That is impossible unless the net effect is more than just nominally positive. I can try to explain all the different positive and negative effects, that some to a large positive net. but the details do not matter, the results speak for themselves. Further in an appeal to the experts that I purportedly loath, you would be hard pressed to fine an economist that will not tell you that free trade – even where that results in job shits is overwhelmingly net positive.

      • April 26, 2014 6:32 pm

        You still do not know how to read. I did not “lament” jobs moving to China. I said that as a CEO, it is a lot easier for all concerned if I did not have to have my stuff made half-way around the world. I would rather have more control, not less. I would rather have goods nearby, not on a boat somewhere.

        Again, you continue to cover the same ground that I have already covered and of course, you used more words.

        Hint , hint.

        Now, Mr. Compassion, while we may be better off in the aggregate and in the long run when jobs migrate to the place with comparative advantage, that is little consolation to the fellow next store who has just lost his job.

        So, see, in the real world (outside of your ideology, people have real hurts and troubles. It may be fine for you to be blind to this and rationalize it away, some of us actually relate to these troubles, rather than trivialize them away.

        Maybe a Sunday morning in church would do you good?

        Ah, wait, now you well tell me there is no God and you have proof.

        Have at it!

      • April 26, 2014 10:00 pm

        The post was a reply to Rick.

        Past that. Bad things happen in the world.
        I have been fired – sucks
        I have been layed off – sucks
        I have fired people – sucks
        I have laid people off – sucks
        I have gone without pay for nearly a year to avoid laying off others – sucks

        If you have a business and you do not do what is best for it – everybody loses their job – that really sucks.

      • April 26, 2014 11:50 pm

        Why do you presume to know anything about my belief in God ?

        Is inaccurate perceptions of others beleifs some skill vested in experts I was unaware of ?

    • April 26, 2014 5:43 pm

      The collapse of the blue collar middle class is a fiction.
      The only collapse that has occured is the collapse of blue collar unions.
      non-unionised blue collar labor is doing as well or better than ever.

      But I will actually agree that there is some issues and risk here.
      Do not complete highschool and your prospects are bleak.
      Our constant demand for lower priced and higher quality goods means that the value of unskilled labor will decline continuously. It will decline in the US and China, and eventully Bangeledesh. Increasing standard of living means PRODUCING MORE of value.
      If your skills limit your ability to produce – your prosects suck.
      This is not a secret. Make your choices accordingly.

    • April 26, 2014 5:49 pm

      You are correct we live in a “trickle-up” economy. The wealthy get wealthier – by increasing everyone else’s wealth more than their own.

      One of the myriads of problems with gini indexes and this income inequality meme, is that those in the 1%, the 10%, the middle class, the poor are not the same people from year to year or decade to decade The average person in 4th and 5th quintile jumps two quintiles in their life. those in the top 1% are lucky to remain there for a few years. With few exceptions the same people re not getting richer and richer all the time.

  53. Priscilla permalink
    April 27, 2014 11:35 am

    Dave, my disagreement with you is not based on ideology, but on goals and strategies.

    Which is more likely to roll back the ever-increasing power and control of the federal government – protest votes for weak libertarian candidates, resulting in victorious progressive candidates? Or local, local grassroots campaigns against Common Core, which ultimately attract the attention of state and national candidates looking to widen their base with an issue that cuts across party lines?

    Gary Johnson is never going to be president. But Mitt Romney could have been, if he had gotten as many votes as John McCain…. and Romney stated, repeatedly and without qualification, that he would never implement Obamacare and would make its repeal his top legislative priority. If that was not a commitment to rolling back centralized federal authority, then I don’t know what was, but it was not enough for libertarians and tea party conservatives.

    Losing is winning? No, losing is losing.

    • April 27, 2014 11:43 am

      But delusion is so much more comforting to the inflexible mind.

      My grandfather used to this a being “dead right!”

    • April 27, 2014 1:16 pm

      We disagree on strategy and tactics – though I do not think that difference is all that large.

      I am sorry but nothing on earth was ever getting me to vote for Romney. He was a good man and I have a great deal of respect for his success in business. But government is not business. A business is a voluntary top down structured entity if it is managed badly, it fails and another takes its place. Government is not voluntary, and the consequences of government failure are orders of magnitude greater and fall on people who had no role in bringing about that failure. The overwhelming majority of us – regardless of political persuasion are constantly surprised that business people – particularly big business people, as well as a large portion of the rich are NOT free market libertarians. Why would those who benefit the most from government market intervention favor limited government ? Why would those who are essentially management experts by virtue of success not favor strong top down management in government ?

      I am not supporting candidates merely because they have an R after their name. I am tired of Republicans often deservedly getting the blame for failure when democrats are as if not more responsible.

      But contrary to perceptions I grasp that every state and every district is not going to elect a limited government republican. If you can get an establishment Republican elected in Massachusetts more power to you and I will even support you.
      I voted for Spector many times. In 2010 he was not getting my vote whether he ran as a democrat or a republican.

      Angle came close to defeating Reid, there was no credible establishment republican alternative in NV, and frankly she did very well. Reid has still failed to grasp that he is far out of tine with the nation and his own state. Angle’s challenge should have oppened his eyes to the strength of the opposition. Instead he is calling 45% of his own constitutents extremist nuts.

      I will be happy if McConnell loses – whether to the TP candidate – who does not appear to be all that good, or to a democrat. I will be happy even if that loss cost the GOP control of the Senate.

      My political objective is to increase the number of members of the liberty caucus – even if that results in fewer republicans. The TP is a major republican force, but it is a minority within the GOP, even TP and libertarian republicans together are a minority. But they are a powerful minority, because they are willing to lose.
      The single largest factor in Romney’s loss – was not women or minorities or demographics,
      but that many limited government proponents such as myself either did not vote or cast protest votes. That should be a message to the GOP. 2012 was a winnable election for the GOP, but Romney was the wrong candidate.

      Being willing to lose or cast protest votes is not the same as being willing to support idiots over moderates. ODonnel and Aiken were poor candidates.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 27, 2014 7:04 pm

        Tsk, tsk, Dave, the internal logic of your arguments is seriously breaking down. Or maybe you are just being hypocritical. Being “willing to lose,” when there is as much at stake as you constantly claim, is worse than voting for idiots. It’s an act of callous disregard for those who will be harmed by the “failure” that you are so certain will result from the victory of statism. Never mind that your magic crystal ball tells you that such failure will lead to liberty rising up from the ashes of that statism, the fact is that you simply do not know that at all.

        And, since you have insisted (multiple times in this thread alone) that statist policies are never rolled back, your supposed “protest vote” is not a protest at all. It’s an affirmative act of either 1) support for the party in power or 2)vindictiveness towards the opposition party for their ideological impurity. I’m guessing it’s #2, especially after your not-so-veiled threat that libertarians will make sure that GOP candidates who don’t meet the “liberty caucus” criteria will lose going forward, as you and other “minarchists” stay home or vote for losers on election day.

        Then you turn around and criticize FDR for screwing people over and causing suffering with good intentions? I must say, you can be downright specious.

      • April 27, 2014 10:18 pm

        Bingo, Priscilla.

        You have game, my friend.

      • April 28, 2014 12:16 am

        I am not claiming that what has never happened can never happen, only that it is highly unlikely to ever happen given that we put the same type of people who promised to cut government and failed.

        We can debate whether todays fiscal conservatives will do as they promise. Do you really believe that Romney aka Obama-lite, would have ? Had I beleived he would even try to do half of what he promised I could have voted for him. But I wont be fooled again.

        As to compassion, and failure, more progressive power now means failure sooner, which means smaller failure. I would prefer for the sake of my children to fail small now rather than much bigger in a decade or two. I think that is compassion.
        Again persuade me that stalling tactics are going to avoid failure and I am with you.
        Do you really believe that ?

        Unless you actually beleive failure is avoidable, the only question that remains is how do we fail best ? There are many ways to fail. The approaches consistent with failing best, are also our best long shot chance at not failing.

        Regardless the republicans retaking the senate – particularly with statist establishment republicans is not going to do more than buy time – at a high price.

        I think if Republicans had not succeeded in retaking the house in 2010, that Romney would not have been the GOP candidate, and Obama would not be president.

        Another couple years like Obama’s first and the democrats might not be able to form a football time with all their members in congress.

        Sometimes the gods punish you by giving you what you want.

        Progressives are their own worst enemy

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 28, 2014 7:50 am

        Oh, I get it, I get it. The suffering caused by the implementation of the incredibly complex and overreaching ACA is so very unfortunate, but necessary, ‘collateral damage.’ A few million people lose their plans, a few million more are forced to choose between health insurance and paying their other bills, yet a few million more lose access to doctors and hospitals that have been treating them for serious diseases……it’s all part of the plan, right? These establishment RINO’s, these spineless moderates, will only try to fix it, they won’t repeal it, because, hell, they are lying bastards ( and secret progressives) anyway. Better to let it burn.

        I do get it. I really do.

      • April 28, 2014 7:59 am


        This attitude is exactly why I referred to Dave earlier as Karl Marx. In Marx’s view, the suffering that would have to occur on the way to the Communist nirvana was unfortunate but necessary. The fact that Marx saw himself as sitting in a coffee shop sipping Jo while all this suffering occurred was just a detail.

        These were the little people and well, that is what happens in service of the “cause.”

        In our real world, people’s trials and tribulations actually enter into the calculus (for most of us). In the end, we may suffice versus optimize, and life goes on.

        Amazing that we will settle for that when we have guys like Dave who can see so clearly what must be done on the way to Valhalla!

      • April 28, 2014 10:13 am


        I am not forcing anyone to suffer. I am merely allowing them to enjoy the benefits or harms of what they choose.

        Yes, there is an actual parallel to Marx. Marx beleived that Capitalism would inevitably and naturally fail on its own. He was wrong.

        Lenin etc. recognized that Capitalism was not failing so they resorted to force.

        Marx followed strictly in this instance would have been harmless.

        The parallel is not perfect. But it is real.
        Regardless the actual parallel is that Marx believed sufficiently in his ideas and the error of capitalism that he was willing to allow it to fail on its own.

        I beleive the same with respect to statism in any form.

        Marx was wrong and capitalism has triumphed thus far.

        If I am wrong then progressivism deserves to triumph.
        If you can raise the Minimum wage without net greater harm – we should do it.
        If a single payer national healthcare system delivers the best for the largest number of people – we should do it.
        If whatever progressive wet dream works as they claim – we should do it.

        I – like Marx am sufficiently confident in my values that I am willing to allow the progressives the earliest opportunity to succeed or fail.

        Do you honestly beleive they are not going to muck things up badly ?
        Do you beleive that absent a serious reversal of trend we will fail even worse in the slightly more distant future ?

        If you do not beleive those things – then you should be arguing to give progressives a chance – because they are right.

      • April 28, 2014 10:35 am

        I doubt you can find anyone who is more disdainful of progressives and their agenda. I have to leave the room when this tripe gets spilled.

        That said, I am far less certain than you of the coming cataclysm and the automatic righting of the slate, back towards free markets. It is not a given that this will happen in the way that you think and in fact, this could get MUCH worse and never get better. One cannot assume they know these things when in fact, one does not.

        That is my issue with you. You are so bloody certain that you simply wish away any other number of scenarios whereby we are all worse off, not better. It is NOT a given that the US would not end up with a totalitarian leader post-crisis. I am of the opinion that FDR would have been all for a fifth term had he lived. Some were ready to make him king.

        The point is, Dave, that while you abhor compromise, that is actually the way the world works, unless you happen to be a member of the muslim brotherhood in Egypt. No compromise there. Otherwise, people barter all day long.

        The willingness to compromise is NOT always a sign of corruption or weakness. It is in many ways, the essence of trade and you of all people should know that.

        A trade occurs when each party is better off my having made the trade. Notice, it doesn’t mean that I get everything I want, just that I am better off. I make trades in my marriage all the time and my marriage is the bomb. Should I hold out for the “perfect mate” when I have a wonderful spouse who loves me and I her?

        So, how about you get off that throne of yours and join the human race. No one gets out of here alive, even you. Sometimes, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

      • April 28, 2014 1:56 pm

        Who said I was certain of anything ? There are an infinite number of ways for all this to play out.

        My question to you would be off all the possibilities excluding those nearly certain NOT to occur, what is the probability starting from where we are of avoiding large failure ?
        I do not think there are many courses that avoid the large failure AND do not involve a course change triggered by a small failure.

        What are the odds of actually changing course without a preciptiating failure ?

        Do you believe that progressive statist solutions will fail ?
        Approximately proportionate to the extent they are tried ?

        You need not be certain exactly how, all I am asking is if you really beleive that they will failure is some significant way.

        If you are not, then at best you are arguing that your ideas are better than theirs.
        You are no longer arguing theirs are so bad that they fail.

        You compared this – correctly to Marx. Marx beleived that Capitalism inevitably lead to marxism, because capitolism must fail.
        I am making the same claim regarding progressivism/statism.

        When conceiving this argument I had not thought of this, but it is also close to that of Rand in Atlas Shrugged. Let the moochers and rent seekers fail on their own. They are not able to run a workable system on their own, let them fail.

        The Marx comparison is a better fit.

        There is no certainty to failure leading to a less statist future.
        As Hayek indicated in “The Road to Serfdom” failure can go in any direction.
        There is a strong pull in failure to totalitarianism.
        Hayek essentially argues statism is to be avoided because as it fails it leads to totalitarianism.

        I do not think the political power exists or is likely to exist at any time in the near future to really and truly prevent failure. Convince me that I am wrong on this – please. Because you are correct risking failure is dangerous there is no certainty what follows.

        But given that I beleive failure is inevitable, all we control is how soon, and by virtue of controlling the timing how large – sooner is smaller and latter is larger.

        Collapse of the Roman empire type failures take decades – centuries to build.
        I think that type of failure is unlikely.

        But what if we had an approximate repeat of 2008 now or shortly ?
        The world would not end. But the opportunity to discredit progressivism for decades would exist. Unfortunatly progressives are very good at selling their claptrap. Many here still beleive that 2008 (and the great depression) were failures of the free market – rather than failures of government economic policy.

        Anyway, I do not disagree with you about the risks.

        These are the risks I see.

        1) The risk that progressives will succeed.
        2) The risk that progressives will not fail badly enough to drive a rejection of progressivism.
        3) The risk that we will do whatever is necessary to correct things without failure.
        4) The risk that the failure will be so catastrophic as to end civilization as we know it – essentially a return to the dark ages.
        5) The risk that failure will result in totalitarianism.
        6) The risk that failure will not discredit progressives.

        But all these risks already exist – even if you direct your effort to discrediting and disempowering progressivism.

        It is my view that Pres. Obama has already substantially discredited progressivism.
        But not strongly enough to create the political will necescary to avoid the failure we are already headed for.

        Slowing progress towards failure buys time, BUT it greatly increases the risk that whatever failure occurs is significantly greater.

      • April 28, 2014 2:26 pm

        “Slowing progress towards failure buys time, BUT it greatly increases the risk that whatever failure occurs is significantly greater.”

        In your opinion.

      • April 28, 2014 4:57 pm

        Yes, in my oppinion, but that oppinion is shared, and reasonably well historically founded.
        There is a nice mathematical process called compounding that makes very small changes over very long periods of time into giant changes. But as the year to year changes is small it becomes much easier to completely miss the tipping point.

        Do you think there is a painless solution to Social Security ?
        A decade or so ago when we first new we had a problem a correction would have been easy. We are rapidly approaching impossible. And still the politicians heads are in the sand.

        In my oppinion humans will likely behave in the future approximately the same as the past absent learning, which occurs more frequently as a result of failure than as a result of study – particularly when the majority are not paying any attention.

      • April 28, 2014 5:52 pm

        I am sure that there are even “experts” that share your opinion Dave (note the spelling) but as you have consistently pointed out, experts are to be disregarded.

        As for compounding, since I teach Finance (another expert) I am familiar with the concept. Can SS be saved without extreme pain? Sure. Can Medicare be saved without pain? Ah, no, much bigger issue. Medicare will crash and burn or be rolled into the single payer plan that the Dems will bring up in say, 5 years.

        See, experts can come in handy. I even have the specifics but you are not interested in learning anything and frankly, I get paid to teach. I don’t work for free.

      • April 28, 2014 7:20 pm

        Let go of the experts rant. You are entirely misrepresenting what I have said.
        Further while I am sometimes surprised at the lack of financial acumen of ordinary people. Compounding is NOT a particularly expert topic. My 15 year old son has a pretty good understanding of how it works.

        As to SS. Again we have know about the problems for a long time. Dealing with them would have been far easier a decade+ ago. Whether they can be dealt with with little pain depends on your definition of pain. Regardless, each year the pain required increases exponentially.

        Medicare can also be “fixed” by turning it into a defined contributions rather than a defined benefits program and “privatizing” the insurance, that would also go a long way towards fixing much of the private insurance markets issues.

        As to converting to a single payer system – they might try. But as I understand it the UK is hiding a substantial portion of the costs of the NHS.
        Democrats can play games as they please. But they MUST deleiver close to the same service and at much lower cost – otherwise they have the same problems as they had with Medicare. Again do you really beleive anything but a free market can deliver equivalent care to what medicate recipients receive today at lower cost ? The insurmountable problem with medicare is government can not provide that level of service at that cost.
        The political consequences of reducing the service are enormous. The consequences of not reducing the cost are enormous. Progressives are between a rock and a hard place.

        One interesting explanation of PPACA’s failures I heard was that it violates the traditional progressive paradigm of diffuse costs and concentrated benefits. Many aspects of PPACA concentrates costs and diffuses benefits. The losers KNOW they are losers. The winners are less clear.

        Another factor is that alot of US healthcare is Luxury healthcare. By that I do not mean we have better outcomes. Both my parents died in the past 7 years. That involved many hospital visits. Much of their care was provided by Medicare. The quality of the doctors varied all over. But they were provided incredible creature comforts.
        Medicare is manditory for all of us. You can not opt out without opting out of Social Security to – thanks to Clinton. We are not talking about a program for the poor.
        We are talking about something every voter over 50 thinks seriously about.

        Whatever government does, it can not significantly alter the care that medicare recipients have received without huge backlash. The danger for progressives is worse than social security. For the old, affluent and powerful, social security is meaningless – Medicare is not. Medicare cost overruns are currently a bit less than 1/3 of the deficit.

      • April 28, 2014 9:40 pm

        A babe in the woods.

      • April 28, 2014 7:22 pm

        While I have not contrary to your representations claimed experts have no value.
        They have a great deal of value. They are just not the appropriate decision makers – unless they are deciding what to do with their own resources.

        Regardless, how does a post that covers medicare and SS fairly shallowly telling most of us what we already know, demonstrate the value of experts ?

      • April 28, 2014 9:41 pm

        Any time you want to lay down a wager on SS and Medicare, I am all in. Otherwise, why would I waste any tome on you?

      • April 29, 2014 10:53 am

        What do you think it is even possible to bet on ?
        Most, nearly all the independent variables are controlled by the actions of the federal government.

      • April 28, 2014 2:10 pm

        I have not claimed that compromise is inherently evil or corrupt.
        It is only a tool. Its merit is only in what it accomplishes.

        I would readily agree to any compromise that actually results in a change of direction.

        I see no evidence that is likely.

        Trades and compromise are related but they are not the same.
        In an exchange nearly always both parties may say no and have things remain exactly as they are.

        Compromise – particularly those we are talking about tend to be choices between b
        ad and worse. The walk away with nothing changed option does not exist.

        I am not seeking perfection, I am looking to increase the odds of avoiding catastrophic disaster, and I am willing to risk some lesser failure to increase the odds of avoiding greater failure.

        Further I have great faith that given a change in political will towards limited government that free individuals will rapidly recover from even the worst of failure.

        For me the question is not will failure occur – I think that is near certain.
        The question is afterwards what are the odds of moving strongly in the right direction.
        And those odds are not good enough.
        Changing those odds requires assuring that the largest possible number of liberty minded politicians are elected and speaking out before hand.
        You want me to elect just elect republicans – show me how that will change our direction rather than merely our speed.

      • April 28, 2014 2:30 pm

        “Further I have great faith that given a change in political will towards limited government that free individuals will rapidly recover from even the worst of failure. ”

        Well, you did use the word “faith.” Now, my question is this: Where have you seen this happen in our lifetime?

        Don’t cite the Soviet Union, as that is not an appropriate example.

      • April 28, 2014 5:07 pm

        Happens all the time. The average entrepreneur fails several times before ultimately succeeding. We have had several recessions in my lifetime – none were a return to the dark ages. Even this abysmal recovery – the worst in my life, is still a recovery.

        The fact that humans still exist means they are not overwhelmed by failure.
        Life is difficult, we fail alot. We still on the whole ultimately succeed,

        Germany was rebuilt, as was France, England, and Japan.
        Most of the former USSR is thriving better than ever before.
        The US recovered from the stagflation of the 70’s. England reversed its decline under Thatcher. Much of this was accomplished with minimal government.

        Why isn’t the USSR an approiate example ? It is nearly the perfect example.
        The ultimate statist nation failed, yet very quickly the people in its seperate states each in their own way rebuilt – often in days new political and financial and market structures.
        Poland went from a completely failed state controlled marketplace to a free market economy in less than a week, with pretty close to zero pain.

      • April 28, 2014 5:56 pm

        The former soviet union is a nirvana? Hmm. You don’t know anything about those countries. After the fall, they largely took a giant leap backwards, economically speaking. In human terms, their average life expectancy went DOWN and medical disease (more specifically heart disease, suicides, and alcoholism) went up.

        You actually don’t know that much Dave.

        Maybe, you should consult experts.

        PS- East Germany did OK but then they merged with Germany. Maybe we can merge with Canada.

      • April 28, 2014 7:47 pm

        Actually I know a great deal about many of them. The impacts varied from country to country and depended on many factors including how they handled the transistion.
        Russia as an example handled it badly. The baltic republics and Poland handled it much better. Disruption and its duration varied greatly. For many it was a blip.

        Most of the issues you raise – alcoholism etc. are predominately Russian – again predate the collapse and continue through today.
        Poland has outperformed the rest of the EU for every year since 1991.
        Most of the Former Soviet Union experienced a recession after the colapse that was most severe in countries such as former Yugoslavia – war has a way fo screwing up economies.
        Of course much of Europe, possibly the world was in the midst of recession at the same time.

        Further for much of the former USSR the quality of pre-collapse data is abysmally bad.
        The USSR is renowned for the magnitude of its mistatement of pretty much all economic data, so comparisions to pre-1989 data are very hard.

        Finally the USSR FAILED. What is the definition of Failure – one might be an unsustainable and unstoppable downward trend.

      • April 28, 2014 9:44 pm

        Sure, make up stuff, who will check, right Dave.

      • April 29, 2014 11:03 am

        Much of what I wrote came from a study of Post collapse warsaw pact countires – also from the fact that as an embedded software developer I deal with alot of developers from the former USSR – so I have actually talked to a few people from these regions.
        From about 1995 through 2005 my parents had a machinist from poland in their employ.

        But google still works you can check it all out.

        Besides I though you were the expert, don’t you just know these things ?

        I can’t force you to check them.
        I can’t force you to beleive what I write.

        Of course with the bare minimum information that the USSR collapsed and has not subsequently reformed logic will get you to – most of the people in most of these countries think they are better off or they would have reformed the USSR.

        It is useful to test the assertions of others with logic. Most progressive claims ultimately are illogical.

        You are free to beleive whatever you wish with little or no basis.

      • April 29, 2014 11:19 am

        Actually, I never claimed to be an expert on Europe. However, I bet that you did not for a minute consider the net/net lives lost as a result of the break up of the USSR. After all, that does not figure into the GDP data, does it?

        Now, I am not suggesting that I think the USSR should have remained in existence. However, you blithely pretend like post-collapse, all was hunky dory. It was not, and in many places is still quite a mess.

        Moreover, if you dig deeper, you find that the economic data about the former USSR countries is suspect. Economic activity that measures spending fueled by loans and gifts from other countries grossly distorts the real progress made by the country on its own.

        Go back to Bastiat’s broken window. If a country in the post Soviet era conducts a 5 yrs civil war which largely destroys its main cities, then after the war, has to rebuild those cities, what will the GDP data look like?

        Well, awesome, indeed. However, the quality of life will totally suck as well.

        Anyway, Dave go back to coding software and allow us who actually exist in a world with humans to go about our business.

      • April 29, 2014 2:14 pm

        I am really disappointed, you keep setting up and knocking down straw men.

        I have never argued perfection. At the root of most of my arguments is that perfection is unacheivable. That “experts” seeking to create perfection not only fail, but perform worse than individuals each making their own choices.

        I have never argued that after the collapse of the USSR everything was honky dory.
        As you noted change frequently includes harms.
        I have and continue to argue that it was NET positive.
        Further most if not all of the loss of life was inevitable the moment the totalitarian police state relaxed.

        I am always arguing for imperfection. I am arguing that perfection is not acheivable, that efforts to impose it make things worse not better, that left on their own people make choices both bad and good, but they still overall get things better than any expert can impose. Further that no matter how wrong people get things so long as they are free they can and likely will fix them on their own. While experts will cling to failing solutions far longer causing far more harm.

        You claim the perfect is the enemy of the good enough.
        Often the very good is worse than the merely good.
        Our worst failures come from those statist policies that come the closest to working.
        Because those endure and because no matter how small their error it is compounded and increases exponentially the longer they endure.

        You want to bet on SS and Medicare. If you are betting they can continue as they are without change – I will take that bet. Otherwise you are just splitting hairs.

      • April 29, 2014 2:17 pm

        And you, my friend, are j**king off.

        We will leave it at that. You are not worth my time anymore.

        Put the mirror and talk to someone who cares.

      • April 29, 2014 2:15 pm

        Who has stopped you from going about your business ?

      • April 28, 2014 6:55 pm

        Check out the section on the post USSR violent clashes. A very smooth transition, no loss of life here?

        And, interestingly, it is still going on (Ukraine).

        Just what we need in the old USA.

      • April 28, 2014 8:03 pm

        Are you actually going to argue that at any time after the collapse of the former USSR the vast majoritity of the people wanted to go back to the way things were ?
        If not then you are just spouting nonsense.
        We are discussing probably the worst government collapse of a major nation in modern history. We are talking about a collapse on a scale that is not likely possible in the US under any circumstances.
        And yet nearly every part of the former USSR (no not absolutely every) is doing MUCH better today than in 1989, and most were doing better within a few years.

        I do find the GDP charts for countries in the former USSR amusing, They were all rising rapidly prior to the collapse. Countries that are actually experiencing sustained 5%/year growth do not collapse.

        But even accepting the pre 1989 data as valid Pretty much everyone is better off, most much better off.

        In the Checknia, Ukraine and Georgia, they are still fighting to extract themselves from Russian dominance. They may be failing but I am not sure how Russia fighting to hold onto or recapture parts of the former USSR rebuts the argument that the results were positive. Some Ukraine’s, Checknia’s and Georgians have given their live to remain free or Russia. Yugoslavia had tensions that date back centuries, The slavs were fighting each other while the Nazis were passing through – in both directions.

      • April 28, 2014 9:49 pm

        I love the way you simply wave off the hundreds of thousands of lives lost (perhaps millions) as a mere detail to be dismissed. My point was not to infer that many people today are economically better off now that the USSR is gone. My point (which you cannot fathom, apparently) is that the lives are a cost that you seem to simply a necessary by-product of economic well being. This is the “cost” of change that you are not willing to acknowledge.

        There are no cost-free transitions.

        In that regard, you are indeed, Karl Marx.

        Karl, meet, Karl.

      • April 29, 2014 11:16 am

        These people are not merely “economically” better off. They are just better off – in their own net judgement.

        To the extent the loss of lives is in anyway connected with the collapse of the USSR, it is that conflicts that previously existed no longer had an unsustainable totalitarian regime supressing them.

        If one totalitarian world government can acheive world peace, is that a reasonable trade ?
        If not you are arguing a non-issue. If the way you propose to get serbs boznians and croats to live in peace is in poverty at the point of a gun – we need to look at other alternatives.

        Should some vaguely similar collapse occur in the US are you expecting hispanics to start killing the rest of us ? Or mormons to start killing seventh day adventists ?

        What are the violent clashes within the US only being supressed by our powerful federal government ?

        There are no cost free transitions. I do not recall saying otherwise.

        All changes in government policies has winners and losers. As government picks winners, if it ceases doing so, those winners become losers, and those who lost before become winners.

        You are making the same arguments that progressives do to justify screwing things up.

        Is your argument against progressives that they are merely bad managers ?

      • April 29, 2014 11:26 am

        I think you are debating yourself, which is grounds for termination in the real world. My point has always been that you simply ignore the potential consequences of the total government meltdown as if they must be trivial.

        Yet, you have no real historical evidence to suggest that this is the likely outcome.

        When transaction costs can be immense, one must pause to consider the course of action. Would Congress have done that with the PPACA, we may have avoided that law.

        But they did not, as they were as certain as you are about their course of action,

        You are not different than they are, you just have a different strategy in place.

        An ideologue is dangerous, no matter what set of “beliefs” they may possess.

        PS- I was in the middle of the race riots that occurred in the US in the late 1960s. Believe me, they were real, they were scary, and they cost lives. Don’t be too certain about what is possible in the US. Americans are just like any other humans and very bad behavior not outside of our reach.

      • April 29, 2014 2:36 pm

        Unless you are prepared to argue that there is an easy and politically acheivable way to avoid failure, then ranting about the consequences of failure is pointless. It is sticking your head in the sand like an Osterich.

        Make a credible argument that we can (that is the easy part) and will (the hard part) actually avoid rather than merely postpone failure.

        Arguing – even correctly that failure is bad and to be avoided, is idiocy unless failure is can easily be avoided.

        I do not pretend the consequences of failure are trivial.
        Though I will assert that any given failure has many possiblete responses – some very bad and some less so. And that there are many possible failures – some very bad an some less so.
        The worst failures with the worst responses will occur if we go blythely forward delaying the inevitable and pretending we will be able to fix things easily at some future date.

        You note how bad the riots were as proof that failure must be avoided, an choose to steam full speed towards the worst possible outcome.

        With both hate PPACA with good reason. I see your arguments making my case.
        Regardless the scale of transaction costs is third order. Large transaction costs are likely a problem, but what matters is whether they are freely chosen or not.
        If people beleive they are getting sufficient value to justify them transaction costs are meaningless. Further regardless of their scale unless they are somehow immutable with sufficient freedom transaction costs will be driven down relentlessly.
        Truly immutable large transaction costs only endure absent freedom.

        You say I am certain of outcomes. Far from it. There are infinite possible outcomes.
        All I am certain is that the greater freedom we have the more likely we will end at better ones.

      • April 29, 2014 2:41 pm

        If I argue that air is required for human life – am I am “ideologue” ?

        I argue that freedom is a requirement for human happiness and success.

        You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

        Ronald Reagan

        I guess he was a dangerous ideologue too ?

      • April 29, 2014 2:44 pm

        “I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves.”

        If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.


      • Ron P permalink
        April 28, 2014 3:01 pm

        This has been a very intersting debate to read and follow. As a third party observer in most of this, there seems to be merit on both sides of the arguement. But I have a question. Is it possible to change direction without some catastrophe causing that change of direction? Although the exact author is unknown, many have been tied to the following statement that seems to apply today.

        A democracy usually can last about 200 years.
        A democracy will survive until voters find they can vote for those that will give them money from the treasury.
        During that period of time people go from bondage to spritual faith.
        From spiritual faith to great courage
        From courage to liberty
        From liberty to abundance
        From abundance to selfishness
        From selfishness to complacency
        From complacency to apathy
        From apathy to dependance
        From dependancy back to bondage

        I would offer that one can look at these steps and apply them to historical periods in the life of the USA. When each begins and ends could be debated, but it seems like each step has been completed or is on the horizon. I would offer that we are somewhere in the next to last step, with the majority of people being apathetic to the fiscal conditions of our country and many already dependant on our government.

        So we are back to the debate that asmith has so diligently discussed. How do we change course. And I offer even another point of discussion. How do we change course, not back to complacency or selfishness, but back to courage and liberty to stop a government overreach into private lives like the NSA, not just in fiscal matters.

      • April 28, 2014 5:22 pm

        Is it possible to change direction without catastrophe. Absolutely.
        But look arround, in our political system as it is today and has been for decades why do you expect that such change will come about ?

        The minimal corrections necescary merely to avoid disaster are not all that large.
        But the problems have been around for decades and we are slowly making them worse not better. Change most frequently is triggered. We have igrnored all the subtle triggers.

        We are not a democracy
        Beyond that your cycle is interesting.

        Alot of discussion here and most places focuses on the economic and fiscal.
        But that is a useful but false distinction. There is no economic life distinct from the rest.

        At each end of every chain of economic exchanges is something that is not particularly economic. Value is subjective. Our wants and needs are decided uniquely and individually. Time listening to my son play the piano – something government should not dare to intervene in, is accomplished by a plethora of more mundane economic transactions government feels free to stomp through.

        I sell my labor and my mind, to buy all the things necescary to have time with my familiy.
        Without those economic transactions the non-economic ones can not happen.

        There is not economic liberty and reproductive liberty. There is only individual liberty, and the role of government is to secure it not restrict it.

        Ron, I do share many – maybe all, maybe more than all your concerns about the TP and other facetts of the right. Please do not presume I think that the TP and similar groups are more than the lesser of evils today.

      • April 28, 2014 5:59 pm

        “When and book and a head collide and there is a hollow sound, must it have always come from the book?”

        Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

      • April 28, 2014 7:49 pm

        Of course not – check your head.

      • April 28, 2014 9:44 pm

        My head is fine, yours is ringing.

        It must suck knowing you are caught.

      • April 28, 2014 9:37 am

        Sorry, no plan, not into conspiracies theories.

        Further I can “plan” that progressives will screw things up so bad that they permanently discredit themselves and their ideas, but they can trivially thwart that plan.
        All they need do is succeed.

        For the most part I do not beleive that progressives, establishment republicans, rhino’s, neo-cons, etc are evil people seeking total power and plotting the worlds destruction. Just as I they beleive in what they are doing. They are just wrong.

        I am presented as some extremist ideologue unwilling to listen or compromise or whatever.

        Yet, I am willing to allow progressives an actual chance to impliment their ideas – in the purest form that they are able. In fact I WANT them to to have the least possible interference – so that when they fail there is no ability to claim it was because others forced them to compromise.

        PPACA is entirely a democratic concoction. It is failing in ways that even the most conservative experts did not predict. For republicans PPACA is the gift that keeps on giving. It is also probably the greatest possible demonstration for the largest portion of the electorate of the problems that occur when government “fixes” something.

        The other big democratic agenda item right now is a Minimum Wage increase.
        I say let them have it. I beleive it is certain to fail. Lets put my beleifs and those of progressives to the test.
        Increase the MW to $10.10 NOW – effective within 30 days of passing the law.
        Let house republicans vote against it or abstain. But let the president and democrats have what they want.
        If you want a degree of caution, insist as a condition of allowing a vote in the house that it include an automatic sunset provision if unemployment for young unskilled workers has increased by more than 3% in Jan 2015

        Anyone here honestly beleive that a 30% increase in the MW effective immediately will not significantly increase unemployment for poor under 25 unskilled workers ?

        Anyone think that a significant jump in unemployment before November will not substantially alter the outcome of the election ?

        The president has been carefully crafting laws and executive orders to attempt to deliver benefits just before elections while delaying costs into the future. FDR mastered the same technique. Is there some reason Republicans can not reverse the process.
        Give progressives what they want – on the condition they must fully impliment what they want, and must take and own the bad results as well as the good.

      • April 28, 2014 10:02 am


        Do you think that if we continue the trends that we have followed the past 70 years we are not going to face catastrophic failure in a few decades ?
        What if we miraculously only followed the trends of Republicans – were Nixon, Bush, Bush presidencies reversals of the progressive trend ?

        Do you think PPACA is going to remain a political liability for democrats or evolve into an Asset ?

        Through executive orders the president has been pushing more and more of the potentially harmful aspects of the law down the road. We have a whole lot of failure still in store.

        Do you beleive that full implimentation of PPACA, Cap & Trade legislation – whatever else is in the Progressive wishlist, would end up net positive or a disaster for this country and democrats ?

        Would it be so bad the country went under ? Or just bad enough to discredit progressives for decades ?

        Would giving progressives what they want now create enough failure to build the public will sufficiently to elect and support legislation sufficiently strong to actually fix our problems.

        If you really want to avoid serious catastrophy in the future, changes that are just not politically feasible at the moment need to occur very soon.

        I am willing to risk something less bad now, to change the political will, and to get the people elected who will there is some hope will correct our problems.

        Lets see how well majoritarian progressive democracy works.
        Lets get it out of our system before it destroys us.

        Persuasion has not worked.
        Imposing our will by force is prohibited – even though progressives and establishment republicans do it all the time.

        The most effective means of learning is failure. Better to learn from a little failure now, than big failure later.

        Think of it as a vaccine. Let people infect themselves with sufficient progressivism now that they get sick, recover develop immunity and we can actually fix our underlying problems. Or fight it tooth and nail now, and have the inevitble consequences of creeping progressivism kill us in a few decades.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 28, 2014 8:48 am

        JB, it does all seem creepily similar to Marx’s view.

        And it’s not that I don’t wish that you could be right, Dave, and that a little “tough love” and some “minimal” suffering could get us back on track.
        But, history tells us that it just doesn’t work out that way. The old “we had to have a Carter so we could get a Reagan” made sense before the 2012 election, but, clearly, the electorate has changed. Or something.

      • April 28, 2014 10:19 am

        There were serious problems with Carter,
        but he is probably the most deregulatory president in US history, He appointed Volker, and he supported volkers decision to trigger a severe recession to purge inflation even though that might cost him his presidency.

        Economically LBJ, and Nixon are far more responsible for Reagan than Carter.

        Carter/Reagan mirrors Hoover/Roosevelt

        Much of what Reagan is credited with started with Carter, just as much of what FDR is credited with started with Hoover.

      • April 28, 2014 10:40 am

        All I remember is the gas lines and the joke Carter was in the hostage crisis.

        Also, like you, he had that bad habit of lecturing us on a fairly regular basis. We were never good enough for him.

      • April 28, 2014 2:20 pm

        Carters handling of the hostage crisis was horrible.
        His presidential addresses were abysmal.
        I am not looking to make Carter into a saint. But we have to dole out credit and blame fittingly or we distort our perception of reality and come to the wrong conclusions.

        I remember the gas lines under Nixon, with stations running out of gas.

        I have major issues with Bill Clinton, But aside from Reagan since Eisenhower what president was better ? Another Nixon, Bush or Romney is not going to move us in a better direction.

      • April 28, 2014 10:21 am

        I would also offer that Goldwater was essential in arriving at Reagan.

        Reagardless of his defeat, the consequence was a growing limited government faction within the GOP that eventually allowed Reagan to get and win the election.

  54. April 28, 2014 8:04 am

    Meanwhile, the Arab Spring seems to be going well. What genius decided to back the Muslim Brotherhood again?

  55. Priscilla permalink
    April 28, 2014 4:26 pm

    Dave, I would agree with you that Clinton was politically the best president of the last 50 years or so, largely because he chose to negotiate with Republicans and take credit for the GOP legislative agenda after 1994. It was not only politically astute, but it produced some important legislation: welfare reform, family medical leave, expansion of the earned income tax credit….. ( By the way, I would submit to you that the welfare reform legislation passed under Gingrich/Mitchell/Clinton was a roll-back of the type that you claim has never happened, but we’ll agree to disagree on that…..)

    One of the political changes that has occurred during the post WWII era has been the enormous and continuous cession of power from the Congress to the President. Liberals began complaining about Bush’s “imperial” presidency early on, but have been largely silent as Obama has exponentially expanded the power of federal agencies and routinely ignored his constitutional limits. How many times has he unilaterally changed or ignored key parts of the ACA? We won’t even go into the NSA and the IRS……

    As the Executive and Judicial branches have become ever more powerful, the Congress has become more dysfunctional. As the Congress has become more dysfunctional and irrelevant, the “will of the people” has become pretty much of an afterthought. The House and the Senate have no working relationship with each other or with the Executive. The Executive branch sues states for enforcing trying to enforce federal laws and threatens private citizens with militarized agencies.

    The Clinton era seems like a friggin’ golden age by comparison.

    • April 28, 2014 6:55 pm

      50 years includes Reagan and sorry, Clinton was no Reagan.

      Clinton’s willingness to negotiate with Gingrich is only significant because of the value of the outcome. Again compromise is a tool. It has no inherent value. Compromise is good when the results are good. It is bad when they are not.

      I oppose FMLA. It is not the business of government. I do not care whether the GOP supported or opposed it. No employer in their right mind screws over valuable employees.
      I have been on both the giving and receiving end of extreme employer latitude over famliy issues. Had their been laws in place neither those who benefited from my willingness to adapt business needs to an important employees personal needs would have been limited to what the law specified. Had such law applied to me personally, I would have been similarly limited and ultimately had to leave.

      Every single employment arrangement is unique. We are not interchangeable cogs.
      I bring value to my employer that they can not possibly find locally, and can not recruit elsewhere. I also come with baggage. My employer gets the good with the bad.
      It is unlikely they would provide the same flexibility to all other employees.

      Ultimately an employer does not serve anyone’s interest if he tanks the business.
      And that is the proper measure. If you want alot of latitude – do not be a replaceable cog.
      Bring value and you will get flexibility.

      If you specifiy through law minimums you will find that they also become maximums.

      I may give you The Clinton/Gingrich welfare rollback.
      I would also note they worked incredibly well. Both government costs AND conditions for those formerly receiving assistance improved dramatically and rapidly.
      Humans do actually adapt well to even radical changes. Even one we label “failure”.

      Though now we are converting Social Security disability into what Welfare used to be. Regardless, the impact of the reforms was very short lived.

      The judical branch has actually become less powerful. Conservatives are making a mistake in advocating against judicial activism and for judicial restraint and deference.
      The role of the Judiciary is to reconcile conflicts. Often that means rejecting what the legislature has done on constitutional or procedural grounds, or because it conflicts with other law. We want them sorting that out. We also do nto want them Fixing the acts of the legislature – as roberts did with PPACA. Legislatures exist when a law is flawed they can fix it. If they will not or politically can not, that is not the role of the court to judge.
      But it is the ACTIVIST role of the court to say NO to legislative over reach.

      What the judiciary should not and can not do is rewrite the law. It is either valid whether they like it or not, or not again whether they like it or not. Frankly they need to say NO to legislatures far far more often.

      There should be few conflicts between state and federal government, there constitutional domains do not overlap much. I am NOT a big fan of Federalism – as JB is. I have little evidence that local government is better. But dividing the responsibilities of government is NOT a bad idea. And the constitution provided relatively independent domains for the states and the federal government. The broad interpretation of the commerce clause has wreaked havoc on that. Generally when the states and federal government are in conflict, it is likely that the federal governments power has expended beyond its realm.

      I would also note the some of the seeds of the housing and financial crisis were planted in the Clinton administration. Andrew Cumo’s multiple HUD lawsuits and settlements forcing banks to write mortgages to people who could not afford them were a significant factor in starting this mess. It would be nice If I could say that was another example of democratic progressive idiocy – but Bush continued in Clinton’s footsteps.

      Also Clinton was abysmal on foriegn policy. Thousands died in the former yugoslavia, because Clinton would neither fold nor ante up.

      Even today I would have voted to impeach and remove him. He lied under oath while president. There is no exception to perjury for unimportant things or sex. He was a lawyer he knew exactly what he was doing. At the same time again I think SCOTUS was wrong in allowing the private suits to go forward. The interests of the country are not served by dragging the president into court over private matters predating the election.
      They can wait.

  56. April 28, 2014 7:03 pm

    “Also Clinton was abysmal on foriegn policy. Thousands died in the former yugoslavia, because Clinton would neither fold nor ante up.”

    Oh, it was Clinton’s fault. I thought the break up of the SU went very smoothly?

    • April 28, 2014 8:08 pm

      I thought you were an expert on economics. I beleive you said you were a CEO.
      Presumably then you understand concepts like NET.

      I am going to assume the business you ran was successful.
      Does that mean every unit every employee, every divisions all were better in every way year after year ?

      If the results were not overall significantly better, why hasn’t the USSR reformed ?

      • April 28, 2014 9:51 pm

        I am going back to my original thesis that you are a sociopath. When I ran a business, to my knowledge, no one died, as a result. Economic results vary. You apply economic principle to human lives.

        Don’t you even for a moment understand the differences.

        I pity you.

      • April 29, 2014 12:53 pm

        When you were a CEO your choices and those of your employees effected their quality of life, the duration of their life, as well as the use of their time.

        If someone dies they lose all their remaining life. If they spend 8 hours of drugery working they lose those 8 hours.

        There is no magical Taboo or something off limits. Pretending that your decisions and those of your employees were not life and death is mere pretense. The difference is merely of scale.

        In bangeledesch today people take dangerous factory jobs. Those are life and death choices.
        But because of those dangerous factory job 100’s are dying – instead of millions when there were no jobs.

        Try Milton Friedman on the Ford Pinto

  57. April 28, 2014 7:04 pm

    “But dividing the responsibilities of government is NOT a bad idea. And the constitution provided relatively independent domains for the states and the federal government. The broad interpretation of the commerce clause has wreaked havoc on that. Generally when the states and federal government are in conflict, it is likely that the federal governments power has expended beyond its realm.”

    Maybe you should check with Lawrence Tribe before you opine. He is your expert in these matters.

    • April 28, 2014 8:22 pm

      Can you lay off the crap. I respect Tribe, I have read Tribe. I do not necessarily agree with Tribe. I have also read Rawls and numerous others on the left.

      If you claim to be expert on any subject and you are only familiar with a single viewpoint – you are no expert.

      Further you are the one selling the importance of experts. Are only the experts that agree with you important ?

      I have with some difficulty argued issues of constitutional Law with Tribe as well as other recognized constitutional experts – have you ?

      • April 28, 2014 9:52 pm

        You decry experts yet you use them when it suits your fancy. That makes you a hypocrite, only interested in being right.

        Either they have value, or they don’t!

        Pick your poison.

      • April 29, 2014 1:25 pm

        They have precisely the value that each of us chooses to assign to them.

        You are tangled up in your own argument.

        Does Tribe have value ? You appear to wish to totally disregard him ?
        I think you are free to do that.

        Your scheme requiring deference to the experts leaves you compelled to defer to Tribe.

        So which is it ? Are we obligated to defer to experts ? Or do we individually choose what value we give them in each instance ?

      • April 29, 2014 2:13 pm

        Get out the mirror, Harry. You are the one that simply shifts on a whim.

      • April 29, 2014 11:30 pm

        So I am rigidly ideological and simultaneously shifting at whim ?

  58. Priscilla permalink
    April 28, 2014 7:32 pm

    Dave, I forgot to write “other than Reagan” which is how you had framed the argument for Clinton, if I am not mistaken. Of course I do not think that Clinton holds a candle to Reagan. I don’t even think he was a particularly good executive…but he was politically very astute and willing to work with the opposition. Sheesh.

    • April 28, 2014 8:39 pm

      Sorry, Priscilla;

      I should have been able to guess.

      I work with computers. That requires zero ambiguity and literalism.
      As a result sometimes my skills at parsing ambiguity are weak. I apologize.

      Despite my work, I write most of my blog comments very fast. This is something I do for fun. While I try to be precise in my language, I do not comment with nearly the precision or care I do in my professional writing – not even when posting on the same subject matter.

      As I said this is for pleasure not work. So I have deliberately taken to expressing views and assumptions strongly. I am testing them. I am asking everyone to take a whack at them. Prove me wrong. I have been very surprised at how rarely I have encountered credible counters. If I say that government price controls always and everywhere have failed. I can not possibly know that. Yet know one has ever offered a counter example that held up, and very few have tried.

      I am glad that JB is whacking away at my pinata, tough he could tone down the ad hominem. I have not beaten his mother.
      Whack away, I want to know where my arguments are weak and where they are strong.

      I am glad Rick is back. The quality of the posters here is pretty good.
      There are not too many places where the rhetoric does not degenerate to republitard, and demiqueer, rapidly.

      I am very happy as an example that Volokh and Radley Balko have replaced Ezra Klein at Wapo. But the quality of commenters on Wapo is abysmal. Many of the Volokh regulars have vanished.

      • April 28, 2014 9:54 pm

        Actually, Dave, my mother could have kicked your ass every day of the week, without breaking a sweat.

        I loved my Mom (did not like her very often) but she would have handled you with a flick of the wrist.

      • April 29, 2014 1:26 pm

        What is the argument ?

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 29, 2014 10:46 am

        I sometimes forget that you are a computer guy, Dave, and very literal. Apology unnecessary- no harm done.

      • April 29, 2014 1:50 pm

        I have a tendency to interpret ambiguity differently. That is not the same as “litteral”.
        I enjoy and use methaphor’s, analogies, sarcasm, irony etc.

        My area of “expertise” requires developing skill at NOT assuming things that are missing.

        As I have tried to argue with JB, expertise in one area often makes broader issues more difficult. My parsing is an acquired skill that is an asset inside my area of expertise and sometimes a liability elsewhere. The same can be true of expertise in other domains and even expertise in general.

        Experts do not make final decisions except when they are making them for themselves, because when your tool is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

        Many computer people think that deference to computers can solve all the problems of the world. Fortunately that view is diminishing.

        How much failure must we experience elsewhere before other experts grasp their, fallabillity and the narrowness of the gap between themselves and others.

    • April 28, 2014 9:42 pm

      Indeed. Priscilla.

      I think Dave is actually 12 yrs old and simply pretending to be an adult.

      • April 29, 2014 10:55 am

        I am actually an 8 year old transvestite from Peoria.

        Does that change anything ?

      • April 29, 2014 11:11 am

        No, you still make no sense most times.

  59. Priscilla permalink
    April 28, 2014 7:49 pm

    “Clinton’s willingness to negotiate with Gingrich is only significant because of the value of the outcome. Again compromise is a tool.”

    Oh, for goodness sake, of course it is a tool.

    Clinton’s willingness to compromise is significant because the outcome was dependent upon it. It’s called leadership, and good leaders can often transcend their ideological boundaries for a good- not necessarily perfect-result. The value of that outcome can be debated.

    • April 28, 2014 8:49 pm

      So what is the matter you seek compromise on so we can decide whether that compromise is good or bad.

      Further as you noted the Clinton/Ginrich results are possibly the only modern example of actually reversing the growth of government.
      Clinton I do not know whether Clinton or Gingrich sacrificed ideology for outcome.
      I do know that I could have bought into welfare reform without any compromise of principles.

      I can not think of an instance where compromising principles is justifiable.
      If such an instance exists you would have to have a conflict between your own principles.

      It is good to seek good ends, but the ends do not justify the means.

      Sticking to principles does not mean that only libertopia is an acceptable result.
      But it does mean that whatever the other benefits the net outcome can not be less freedom. It also probably means that even if the result is a net gain in freedom, you can not sacrifice one freedom for another.
      It does not however mean that you must recapture every freedom ever lost in every negotiation.

      • April 28, 2014 9:56 pm

        “I do know that I could have bought into welfare reform without any compromise of principles. ”

        It must be nice to be so pure, so holy. The rest of us live in an imperfect world.

        The perfect is the enemy of the good.

      • April 29, 2014 1:28 pm

        Never asked for perfection.

  60. Roby L permalink
    April 28, 2014 10:26 pm

    “This is something I do for fun.”

    Oh yes, fun is a good thing to have. Everyone should have a hobby, something to do for fun. However, I do not often choose to let myself become someone else’s hobby, that is a sort of hijacking. Restraint might keep this exchange under 1000. The level of diminishing returns occurred at perhaps 200 comments.

    Spring is almost here, some very good fun can be had out in the fresh air, away from a keyboard. For a lark I am going to drop my boat in a nearby lake the next time the temperature cracks 70 and motor around, now that the ice has melted. That sort of thing, like Reagan’s outside of a horse, can be a much needed antidote to the tendency to pontificate all day and all night. There is only so much that can be debated about the worth of compromise before the conversation attains a state that is right up there with reading Nietzsche or Kant in the fun department.

    • Priscilla permalink
      April 28, 2014 10:49 pm

      Indeed, we do go on….and on, and on, and on. I blame it on Rick.

      • April 29, 2014 12:48 am

        Don’t look at me, Priscilla. 😉 I just gaze at my in-box these days and marvel and the quantity of verbiage (and spent mental energy). Dave pontificates; jb lacerates; you supply the occasional voice of reason. I’m with Roby: spring is at its peak in these parts, and I’d rather be out among the birds and trees.

        “O for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts!” – Keats

      • April 29, 2014 7:50 am

        Lacerates. I like that word. Must be because I am from Jersey?

    • April 29, 2014 7:48 am

      Good point! The Triumph Bonneville awaits. Now, if it would only stop raining in Iowa, that would help greatly.

      • Roby L permalink
        April 29, 2014 7:55 am

        Great taste in the Triumph! Everyone and their obese wife now has a trophy Harley that they drive in packs of 50 at 15 miles less than the speed limit down our rural Vermont roads. Did they ever solve the oil seal problem with Triumphs? The one time I rode a friends my boot was covered in oil from the shifter seal, which I was told is the eternal price to be paid for riding Triumphs.

      • April 29, 2014 8:00 am

        Mine is the new iteration, 2013. The bike looks like a 60s bike, but is thoroughly modern including FI and a 2 yr, unlimited mileage warrant. It is a dream to ride, light, comfy, and able to be flicked around a bit if you are in the mood.

        Yes, the HD thing has become a sad cliché. Shoot, I weight 150 lbs and have no tats. I had a HD Sportster for a while but could never really get there. I did have a Buell XB for 5 yrs and loved that thing to death. Should have kept it.

        So many bikes, so little garage space.

    • April 29, 2014 1:33 pm

      Roby L;

      This is Rick’s blog. He owns it. He can set the rules for it as he please, censor it as he wishes.

      You and I are free to participate or not as it is our free choice.

      No one is making you their “hobby”.
      You make your own choices what to read and what not to and how long to maintain your interest.
      There is no force involved.

      If your boat intrigues you more than whatever level of comments we have reached – enjoy your boat. No one is stopping you.

      • April 29, 2014 2:15 pm

        Is there anything that you cannot generate a lecture for? Who the hell do you think you are anyway?

  61. April 28, 2014 10:52 pm

    “Indeed, we do go on….and on, and on, and on. I blame it on Rick.”

    Too funny!

  62. Roby L permalink
    April 29, 2014 7:56 am

    “O for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts!” – Keats. Great Quote.I always suspected you were a sensualist Rick!

  63. Roby L permalink
    April 29, 2014 8:14 am

    Sounds like a great bike. The Triumph I rode was super heavy with a low center of gravity, no wheelies on that bike! A Kawasaki 750 triple cylinder two cycle was my poison during my less than 5 year romance with bikes in my twenties. I did some crazy things, then stopped and am alive. I do have some great stories that if my son told me I would pass out. I certainly was not lagging around at 35 in a 50 zone with a fat tattooed broad on the back, I cannot comprehend that!

    • April 29, 2014 8:18 am

      I hear you. It is a miracle I am still here.

      I am still here, aren’t I?

      • Roby L permalink
        April 29, 2014 8:22 am

        Well, you could be a figment of Dave’s imagination, if he is masochistic.

  64. Roby L permalink
    April 29, 2014 8:39 am

    At some point Dave will scratch his head and arrive at his input on motorcycles: we have the right to ride them if we want and libertarian philosophy supports that in all forms, even and especially sans helmet. Head injuries are our natural right if we so desire and no evil progressives can take that from anyone.

  65. Roby L permalink
    April 29, 2014 11:36 am

    Speaking of evil progressives, I did run into an actual loud angry outraged progressive the other day at school of the feminist persuasion who told me that the Russian media and our media are no different from each other!! I did not try to argue with her much in a school setting but you should have heard her half-baked thinking to my question of what her ideal of a truly free media would look like. I received some sort of blather she could not make any sensible statement of about how a free media would be run by “the people” and money and corporations would not be involved. (reporters are just supposed to arrive in war zones and the like at their own expense I guess with now defined assignment or logistical support. I just said “Peace” and backed away slowly. Sad, just sad, and shallow beyond belief, running on college programmed outrage and leftist ideology. Revealing myself as something other than very very liberal would likely a big mistake in the school environment, and I enjoy what I am doing so…

    However, on a relative scale, here in this forum I am the “progressive” poster, despite my actual dislike of their perpetual outrage and fuzzy thinking. At a very basic level they mean well, or most did when they started at any rate, before outrage at everything swallowed their brains AND their good hearts.

    • April 29, 2014 11:48 am

      I still consider myself as libertarian leaning but I must admit, the extremes of both sides (progressive/commies and libertarians) start to look pretty much the same to me. Neither side will cede an inch in their certitude.

      I doubt I will ever be considered a moderate but there IS a role for government to play and I am still confident we can see a day when people recognize the limitations and dangers of more government. The NSA comes to mind and the PPACA will.

      If that day comes, it will be through persuasion and experience, (in my opinion) not through more words, more volume, or both.

      • April 29, 2014 3:22 pm

        Generally the opposite of libertarian is authoriatarian.
        Libertarian is near one extreme on a completely different axis from “left, right”

        Communism, socialism, and progressivism – generally leftist ideologies are an anethema to libertarians not because they are on the left, but because they are authoritarian – or statist. Just as libertarians often oppose conservatives – because they are often also authoritarian.

        Libertarianism is NOT the most extreme position on the liberty/authoritarian axis – that would be anarchisim.

        Libertarians would have significantly fewer issues with some 60’s liberals than modern progressives. While liberalism and conservatism have always been ideologies. that tend towards authoritarianism, some past liberals and some past and current conservatives place a high value on liberty.

        Certitude is an attribute of authoritarians – regardless of position on the left right axis.
        Valuing liberty means accepting a great deal of uncertainty. It means accepting that some people will make bad choices. It means accepting that we are only free to persuade them otherwise.

        What am I certain of ? That you can not even have morality without liberty.

      • April 29, 2014 3:26 pm

        No ideology besides anarchists rejects the social contract in some form.

        Of course government has value and a role to play.

        Government is force, its value is where force is necessary, that is also a liability where ever free people can solve problems without force.

      • April 29, 2014 7:49 pm

        jb: I think of you as a principled (and definitely outspoken) but reasonable libertarian who prizes common sense above textbook ideology. Dave: I respect your integrity, but I wish you could bend just a little to acknowledge that government has uses other than matters of “force.” Examples: interstate highways, national parks, disaster relief, fire departments, public schools and universities, space research missions like the Hubble Telescope, hunger relief, and even Social Security (needed now more than ever because people are living longer, and companies tend not to hire anyone over the age of 50). I can’t imagine private interests putting up the funds for any of these items, because there’s no profit to be made from them.

      • April 29, 2014 9:56 pm

        Thanks, Rick. As the Buddha was reported to have said on his death bed: Try your best!

      • April 30, 2014 12:11 am

        In the community I live in nearly all the fire departments are volunteer.
        I think that is true outside of cities in most of the country.
        They work fine
        In a different era even city fire departments were provided as a private service.

        In my state we have national parks, state parks, county parks and lots of private parks and camps. What is the compelling reason the state must own parks ? is written by an entrepeneur who essentially contracts with the state and federal government to run their parks for them.
        He pays the government money to run the park. He improves the facilities, does all the rangering, manages campsites, trails, collects fees that are LOWER than the state used to collect. He gets really pissy everytime the government gets shutdown.
        Not because he gives a whit about the government shutdown,
        But because they force him to shutdown – he costs the government zero dollars. In fact they make money off him, and yet he gets shutdown.

        The red cross does fine. until the mid 20th century disasters were handled entirely privately. There is lots of information about disasters on the web. As a rule of thumb, the government gets there way late, mostly interferes, the feds are worse than the state, and mostly they dole out lots of money – and usually not to the people who need it.

        There might be some argument that disaster relief might somehow be a legitimate role for government, but as a practical matter, government disaster releif is a boondoggle.

        If you think government has much to do with feeding starving people arround the world you are mistaken. That is mostly private charities.

        To the extent government has a role there – it would be to protect those delivering aid.
        Again a task that government fails at.

        So once again. Lets say I gave you that hunger releif was somehow an acceptable use of government. In the real world states are abysmal at it, and if you actually want to address the starving it is going to occur privately.

        Haiti was an unbeleivable boondoggle, billions spent mostly the UN is gone, but the people in Haiti are no better off, just forgotten.

        Social security – so paying in about 150K over 30-40 years in order to collect 150K if you are lucky is a good thing ? Oh and that 150K you are going to collect, when no, that is at the whim of government. You paid taxes. You are entitled to nothing in return.
        It is not insurance, it is not an investment, it is not yours.

        No private investment of any kind over 30-40 years delivers a 0% return.
        Social security is robbery. Worse still an incestment that pays a 0% return is going bankrupt slowly. That is your idea of something government should do ?

        Government should not do social security – not merely because I am libertarain and oppose it as a matter of principle, but because government is incredibly BAD at it.
        The two single greatest threats to this nations solvency are SS and HI.

        I was hired at 55. I get offers all the time. I can double my salary if I am willing to move to a tech region.

        There is another name for something that is profitable – that would be something that is valuable. Why is it we want government doing things with little value ?
        If something is actually valuable and does not require force to provide, then it will be provided profitably at lower cost than government could possibly deliver it.

        I have zero problem with pure science and exploration. But if you or I value them, then we should pay for them. We certainly should not force others who do not value them to pay for them. If the government can legitimately pay for space exploration, then it can pay for Opera, and Hip-Hop, and heavy metal. Why are these different ?

      • April 30, 2014 12:26 am

        Just to be clear, the only distinction between government and any voluntary private organization is that government has the right to use force.

        That is not some extremist libertarian observation. George Washington among others has made it. The statement that government is force is a truism.

        When you suggest govenrment should do something, the obvious and necescary question must be “Why is force necescary ?” – if you can not provide a good answer, then government should not do that thing – as government is not necescary for it.

        Again not some extremist libertarian argument rooted in freedom or liberty in sight.
        Merely a simple issue of logic. Government is force. That is all that distinguishes it from a church, labor union, the sierra club, or AT&T. Anything that does not require for will be done more efficiently, and less corruptly, and with less danger outside of government.
        We do not typically use blow torches to hammer nails. Use the wrong tool and you tend to get bad results.

        That you can not imagine things is not an argument.
        I could not immagine the PC, the Laptop, the flat screen TV, ICE and Water in a refridgerator door, the ipad, the iphone, lasik, plastic surgery, …..
        Yet all happened because somebody figured out that even though I can not immagine them, I would want them if they existed.

        That is how free exchange works. The possibility that I might want something makes it happen. Those things that we place a high enough value in succeed.
        You list a bunch of things you want that you can not imagine without government.
        Well if you and enough others value them enough they will be provided.
        If you do not – then they should NOT be provided.
        If govenrment delivers services that we value – but not enough to have happen on their own. Then we do not value them enough to have them happen at all, and what government is providing is coming at the expense of something we value even more.

    • April 29, 2014 3:11 pm

      You self-identify as progressive but never really say what progressive means to you.

      “At a very basic level they mean well, or most did when they started at any rate, before outrage at everything swallowed their brains AND their good hearts.”

      Is that what you want – a good heart and no brain ?

      Prof. Johnathan Haidt has done alot of surveys of different ideologies at

      You can explore your own values as well as compare them to other groups.

      Though there are some results of Haidt’s related to libertarians I mildly disagree with:
      There is a difference between subordinating empathy to reason, and not having empathy.

      I do not beleive that doing something for the benefit of others has moral merit – unless it actually helps others. “A good heart” is not one that steals from others to help the poor and fails to do so.

      Many libertarians are utilitarian. Many are not. There may be more utilitarians in the ranks of libertarians, but there is no inextricable link.

      JB would have to choke on the FACT that of all identities libertarians are by far the MOST pragmatic. Something he is repeatedly failing to grasp.
      Conservatism is FAR more rigid and constrained. Rigidly constraining government leaves individuals free to make whatever choices they wish. Libertarians not only allow, but actually value others right to make choices differently from their own – so long as they do not attempt to imposes those choices on others by force.

      Anyway, you are identifying yourself as progressive while criticizing progressive.
      What are your values ?

      • Roby L permalink
        April 29, 2014 3:25 pm

        My values are “Fun Fun Fun till your daddy takes the T-bird away.” If I ran a political campaign that would be my slogan.

        Fer god’s sake, lighten up Dave.

      • April 29, 2014 11:40 pm

        Look, its the internet, communication of emotions and intensity are difficult.
        Everything comes across intense. That is just how it is. Lots of people complain. I have never heard a viable solution. It is part of what drives comments on blogs into the gutter.

        I am “light”. The question was pretty much rhetorical. Regardless, you are perfectly free to ignore whatever you want. Go play with you Hog, if that makes you happy.
        Where a helmet or don’t – I won’t say a thing.

        If you want to explore why irrational empathy is harmful, and why making choices based on reason does not preclude having empathy. I am game.

        If you don’t, that is ok too.

      • April 30, 2014 8:03 am

        He doesn’t have a Hog, and neither do I. If you took the time to actually read these posts, you would have known that.

    • April 29, 2014 8:00 pm

      Roby: That’s one of the key reasons I can never align myself with the left. They’re admirably tolerant of all beliefs and opinions except those with which they disagree. (Borrowed from my definition of “liberal” in “The Cynic’s Dictionary.”) I think there’s an intense social pressure within their circles to conform or be ostracized. I wonder if they even believe their own propaganda in their heart of hearts; all they know is what they’re *supposed* to believe. And these are the people indoctrinating our kids.

      • Roby L permalink
        April 29, 2014 8:32 pm

        Well, Rick, we are sort of ex-liberals. Alms for an old ex-liberal?

      • April 29, 2014 10:00 pm

        As Churchill, famously said, when you are young, you should be a liberal.

      • April 29, 2014 9:59 pm


        I think you are dead on. If I was being Freud for a bit, I would suggest that the Left, having supplanted the need for God, have simply tried to fill the void with a new religion, one where dogma is in place, but denied as dogma.

      • May 2, 2014 12:05 am


        Strong point. It is reasonable well understood that espousing views outside the liberal mainstream in progressive communities will get you shunned.
        I live in one of the more conservative communities in the country, yet our local schools and media are more likely to reflect the views of Thomas Piketty than George Will.

  66. April 29, 2014 11:48 am

    BTW- If I were to speak too freely at my U, I would be so gone.

    “We don’t tolerate free speech unless we agree with you!”

  67. Roby L permalink
    April 29, 2014 11:55 am

    And I do still have an inner progressive leaning. I wish there were a movement of moderate, sensible, calm, economically literate progressives who where not living in outrage at the non existence of their ideal world of peace and harmony. (Guess they wouldn’t be progressives then though). The progressive sympathies with the little guy without all the utopian ideological baggage. Someday we may meet in some kind of middle somehow, we are there already if the middle is defined as the place that is sick of extremists on the left and right.

    • April 29, 2014 12:46 pm

      I my experience, the need for “purity” lessens with age, but not always (witness Noam Chomsky and Saul Alinksy, and Paul Krugman).

      • May 2, 2014 12:01 am

        “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And…
        moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”
        The other Barry – Barry Goldware, 1964 age 55.

        A willingness to trust that people of all races genders religions, with all the quirks that are reflected in humanity can manage their own lives, is purism.

        The beleif that people need government to micromanage their lives, is about as purist as it gets.

    • April 29, 2014 3:30 pm

      Become a libertarian and volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. That appears to be the best fit for the values you are expressing.

      While Rand was infamous in here hostility to altruism – and her critiques are worth reading and grasping. there is no incompatibility between libertarianism and uncoerced altruism.

  68. Roby L permalink
    April 29, 2014 2:47 pm

    Well, If we have to have philosophy lectures at least they could be entertaining:

    I don’t think Monty Python wrote any songs about economists but they did do a little scene where some poor soul blows his brains out listening to two economists argue.

    Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable,
    Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table,
    David Hume could out-consume Schopenhauer and Hegel,
    And Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.
    There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya ’bout the turning of the wrist,
    Socrates himself was permanently pissed…
    John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, with half a pint of shandy was
    particularly ill,
    Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day,
    Aristotle, Aristotle was a beggar for the bottle,
    Hobbes was fond of his dram,
    And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart, “I drink therefore I am.”
    Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
    A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he’s pissed.

    Read more: Monty Python – Immanuel Kant Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    • April 29, 2014 3:44 pm

      And their best line ever:

      “I fart in your general direction!”

      • April 29, 2014 7:19 pm

        We agree on that one, jb. I crack up just thinking about that scene. (And then the cow flies over the battlements.)

      • April 29, 2014 9:53 pm

        That is just one of the best movies ever.

        “Its just a flesh wound!”

    • April 29, 2014 7:23 pm

      Great stuff, and I hadn’t heard this one before. There was a golden period from the late ’60s through most of the ’70s when pop culture could actually contain learned references. Unthinkable now.

  69. April 29, 2014 3:46 pm

    One of Brian’s best early songs. I saw them in 1966 in Asbury Park. What a concert!

    • Roby L permalink
      April 29, 2014 6:07 pm

      Wow, that is something I envy. I get around for some was my favorite. Back in the USSR was a Beatles attempt to write a Beach boys song. We play it, its a blast. We are working on Good Vibrations, its hard.

      • April 29, 2014 6:21 pm

        Good Vibrations was a trip to watch them do live. It has so many tracks laid in the studio that I was wondering: how will these guys pull this off?

        Ah, they did, they really did.

      • April 29, 2014 6:53 pm

        Keep up the good work, Roby. As you know, The Beatles gave big kudos to The Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds” as shaping a period their music.

        My favorites of the Beach Boys are “In My Room”, “Warmth of the Sun” and “Surfer Girl”. The Beatles produced some seriously good music with their influence.

        Lots of different Beatles phases as good as anyone. But they never could top the Beach Boys in this specific type of music; although they came close.

  70. Roby L permalink
    April 29, 2014 7:32 pm

    The music of those years is something extraordinary, so many great and different sounds. Every age group we play to loves the 60s music, college kids especially. I pity them, they live in a cultural wasteland today. Mike Love actually made suggestions to McCartney about singing about the girls all over the USSR when they were in India together in 68.

    We do quite a few songs based on the harmonies of those years, Dream (Everly Bros), This boy (my favorite to play), For your love (Yardbirds) Summer song (Chad and Jeremy), Time is on my side, Your gonna lose that girl, Wonderful world (Sam Cooke). Its just great writing, something that hardly exists these days. We do a couple songs from the 80s movie “That thing you do.” They did great job of writing new 60s songs, even one Beach Boys inspired proves its still possible. Surfer girl is a real beauty of a song. Hmmm I wonder if we could try that one? It would be hard.

    • April 29, 2014 9:55 pm

      I think the music reflects the hope, dreams, and aspirations that we had back in the day.

      • Roby L permalink
        April 30, 2014 8:02 am

        Nostalgia, its an unbelievably powerful thing. The 60s music seems to reflect a better, simpler purer time. Of course It wasn’t really, we were practicing hiding under our school desks in case of a nuclear attack and race riot were happening, the Ohio River caught fire, Vietnam… All the same, somehow, something was better, even if it was just and simply the music and the power of Youth. Any person who knows how to recreate that feeling at any age has got something.

      • April 30, 2014 8:07 am

        Oh, that is so true. I had a 63 Corvette back in 67. I have been a Vette head ever since. Was it the car, or me? Maybe both but no other Corvette line (the C2) has ever quite captured me like the C2 models.

        I have owned maybe 10 in my life but I am still looking for the right C2.

        Go figure.

        PS-Nothing better than dropping the top on a C2 and hearing “I get around” on the radio.

        Turn it up, put the pedal down, and just drive.

      • May 2, 2014 12:14 am

        The 60’s were not overall a better time.

        But the music was better.
        There has been good music since, and is much good music even today.
        But much today is mostly evolutionary not revolutionary. There is little that is truly new.

      • May 2, 2014 12:07 am

        There was more liberty in liberalism in that era.

        Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
        Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
        Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

  71. Roby L permalink
    April 30, 2014 8:13 am

    Oh God, I have always loved the early Vettes, more even than the early T-birds. Strong envy, I’m turning green. I guess my Volvo C70 doesn’t quite compare. I wonder what my wife would think if… My god man, do you know what you have just done? The internet IS a dangerous place.

    • April 30, 2014 8:19 am

      It is never too late to indulge, but alas the price is rising. My buddy up the way will sell me his very nice red 64 ragtop for 40K. I am not that far away from saying yes, esp. if it is a nice sunny day.

      Then again, 10K buys you a nice C4 any day of the week and that is NOT a bad ride.

  72. Roby L permalink
    April 30, 2014 8:24 am

    You may or may not like a Beach boys copy but its a compliment to the originals and a good one in my opinion.

  73. Roby L permalink
    April 30, 2014 8:27 am

    Well, you have your Vettes, I get to play Rock and Roll and watch people dance, is there any doubt of how lucky we are to live in the USA and to be “boomers”?

    • April 30, 2014 8:32 am

      Yes, I thank my lucky stars (and God) every day for being born in the USA. I am also grateful to those who came before us and who provided the road we have gotten to travel down.

      It has been (and is) a good gig if you can get it.

      PS-I loved that movie. It was great fun.

  74. Roby L permalink
    April 30, 2014 8:45 am

    Just out of curiosity, which makes for a more enjoyable Internet conversation, Vettes and Rock and Roll, or an economic debate with no exit ramp (heh)? Given that I know the answer, why don’t people spend more time doing the former? And how do we ever get lured into the latter?

    Politics is civil war in slow motion, the primitive part of the brain jumps into action, one loses years off their life I think from the stress, worry, and anger. I often vow not to do it, to think of the good stuff and vote the best I can every two years and then forget about it. Doesn’t mean that I can’t read the news, but no one is going to make me the Secretary of the Defense or the Treasury, so there is only so much I really need to know. I’m not for ignorance of course, just for some kind of objectivity and acceptance of my place in it all, no matter how well informed.

    • April 30, 2014 8:48 am

      Agreed. The urge to react and “debate” is strong, certainly in me.
      That said, one never “wins” these Internet debates anyway.

      Rock on!

  75. Roby L permalink
    April 30, 2014 9:04 am

    We have not mastered the art yet of getting good video recordings of the band with nice sound quality, but here is one where my wife dances up a storm that gives some feeling of the fun.

  76. April 30, 2014 11:37 am

    Roby L! That’s fantastic! And your wife is killin’ it!

    • Roby L permalink
      April 30, 2014 12:21 pm

      Thanks, KP. My wife is really amazing, she can dance to any kind of music from pretty much any culture and be instantly authentic. She was dancing in semi-professional Ukrainian folk dance groups as a child and singing in a band as a teenager. When we go out to dance I just have to hang on to her and relax and it looks just like I am dancing, when in fact, I can’t, I always have had two left feet, even if I love rhythm.

      • April 30, 2014 12:27 pm

        Great backstory, brother.

  77. May 2, 2014 8:54 am

    Looks like the new Marx is about as smart as the old Marx. To his credit, this one has the good sense to dummy up some data on his excel SS.

    Dave will very busy with this one.

    • May 2, 2014 11:40 am

      A modern french economist ? French ? Really ?

      The numerous flaws in income inequality claims have been extensively demonstrated to anyone who cares to look more than surface deep.

      Do you know anyone who was poor 40 years ago who is still poor today ?
      Unless mobility is ZERO class based income comparisons over large spans of time have limited meaning. At the very best them mean that modern young poor start at about the same place as the young and poor did 40 years ago.

      I was in the bottom quintile 35 years ago when I was first on my own.
      I am not now.

    • May 2, 2014 11:50 am

      Numerous actually talented and respected modern economists demostrate all kinds of interesting things and

      Some third rate french economist – Pikketys is ranked at about 600 in the Ideas Respec index. has progressives falling all over themselves to by lightly retreaded marxism.

      I think the more interesting facett of this is all the attention the media and left is fawning on Pikketys.

      Lee Ohanian similarly ranked has produced numerous recent papers refuting with data central progressives memes of the great depression, or demonstrating the failure of innumerable recent progressive polices and no one notices.

      Pikketys retreads Marx with data that even the blind can tell has no relationship to reality and the left goes Manic

      • May 2, 2014 12:21 pm

        The left loves anyone who agrees with them. Suddenly, they are a genius, like for example, Krugman. When he wrote about trade, he was a nobody. Once he took up the progressive line, he was in the NY TImes every other day.

      • May 2, 2014 12:52 pm

        Krugman is atleast still a top 25 ranked economist.
        I do not know how, but still he is.

        Meanwhile people live Schleifer, Barro, Acemoglu, and Lucas get ignored – all top 10.

      • May 2, 2014 2:31 pm

        I like Barro’s work. I have several books by him. Insightful with a sense of humor.

      • May 2, 2014 7:59 pm

        A recent Barro paper on government multipliers found that the highest government multiplier is .8 for war. That means war spending is a net economic loss of $.20/$1

        The norm is more like .3 in other words normally for every $1 the government takes from
        the economy it creates $.30 of economic gain for a net LOSS of $.70/$1.

        Remarkably consistent with the public impression that govenrment wastes more than $.50/$1

      • May 2, 2014 9:18 pm

        Well said. Transactions cost are highest when transactions are forced.

        Make sense?

      • May 2, 2014 11:12 pm

        Barro’s data is pretty robust and persuasive, however of the numerous more keynesian papers on the subject the range those find is between .8 and 1.3 with the norm almost indistinguishable from 1.

        That mean’s of the economists most strongly favoring government stimulus only beleive that there is a small positive on rare occasions when government gets everything perfect.
        That most of the time government takes money from the economy and accomplishes nothing but moving it arround.

        And that is from modern Keynesians – not all, but alot of them.

      • May 3, 2014 10:04 am

        Economist create a lot of theory and data out of thin air. Once the herd mentality takes over, no one bothers to check the articles.

        Such is the process of “peer review!”

      • Ron P permalink
        May 2, 2014 5:05 pm

        How Krugman stays top 25? Just keep blaming the weak economy on the 1% and corporations not being taxed enough, on the government not spending enough money on infrastructure, on not giving away enough free stuff to those already dependant on the government and you will have enough of the left in the country holding you to a higher level than anyone else, thus you are in the top 25 ( And it does not hurt if you write text books that influence the thinking of future “experts”, thus making your positions even more acceptible). But make sure what you propose has a snowballs chance of getting into policy because if it did and it did not work, everyone would then see you for what you really are. Everyone can be rated tops in their field until they are proven wrong.

      • May 2, 2014 5:59 pm

        Well said. If you want to see someone really eviscerate Krugman, simply Google Nail Ferguson. He has an extended romp across Paul’s forehead and it is good fun.

      • May 2, 2014 8:01 pm

        I do not know how Krugman stays in the top 25, but Ideas Respec rankings are not based on NYT columns – atleast not that I am aware of.

        They are based on citations in economic papers.

    • May 2, 2014 11:53 am

      “from each according to his ability to each according to his need”

      I think we can measure Pikketys faith in his own work by what he does with his book royalties. It would be my guess that he is more of a capitalist than maxist when it comes to his own actions.

  78. May 3, 2014 12:35 am

    I and other libertarians and even those who are merely fiscally conservative are constantly being accused of being extremist bomb throwing anarchists.

    Libertarians are not anarchists.

    Thomas Pikketys is getting critical aclaim for retreading marxism.
    Numerous respected economists are demonstrating that Pikkety’s data and math are poor
    that his own calculations properly performed lead to conclusions vastly different from those published, and in defending himself Pikketys offers a critique of the use of mathematics in economics that mirrors that of austrians.
    Even many progressive economists are arguing Pikketys is off base re-arguing economic disputes that are settled, and that marxist and socialsists had decisively lost.

    More obscure, but more interesting is a book published by University of Cambridge, by Prof. Leeson Ideas Respec top 8% of economists
    “Anarchy Unbound” In which Prof. Leeson argues based on real world data both recent and historical that in some cases real anarchy out performs government as a form of social organization and demonstrates where and how that can occur.

    Elsewhere Prof, Ebeling demonstrates how government about the scale of that preceding the civil war would make us all more prosperous eliminate the need for the entire social welfare system including social security and medicare, how most of us – particularly the poor would actually be better off economically without an income tax, and notes that even in past hard times private benevolence actually worked quite well.

    Again libertarians are not anarchists, but for all those progressive and moderate statists,
    libertarianism is the moderate position.
    Statism fails apparently with greater certainty than anarchy.
    Limited government works.

    • May 3, 2014 10:09 am

      This new book shows in chart form, returns to capital and income distribution data from 1810.

      Now let’s think this through. Did we really have that data compiled in 1810? Since the US did not even have an income tax in 1810, where was income distribution data gathered from? We don’t even have reliable data about those two factors in present day.

      Seriously, on its face, this claim is absurd and would be dismissed if economics were actually a science, which it isn’t.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love economics, just not most of what is taught in econ text books.

      • May 3, 2014 7:51 pm

        We have data for many earlier periods – or proxies for it.
        The Wealth of Nations is amazing for its ability to determine things like GDP from the data available in the 18th century. That alone is pretty amazing. Though it would be more accessible if Smith had used charts and graphs – these had just been invented by a friend, so Smith was not unfamiliar. Aparently Smith was looking to prove a picture is worth a thousand words.

        I am finding critiques of Pikettys all over the pace.

        One is that he repeatedly interchanged NET and GROSS without thinking.
        That if you adjust his own calculations for that single issue the rest of his own math demonstrates that his own proposals fail.

        The economic fight over marxism/socialism ended decades ago. The left lost. It does not work. Then the USSR failed and added an exclamation mark.

        The left continues to try to re-fight the same battles they have lost decisively and repeated.

        What is most disturbing is the far too many of the rest of us learn nothing, and buy into these rehashes of crap that has been disproven in theory and practice long ago.

        The issue with Pikettys is not Pikettys, but that so many people are re-buying the same crap.

      • May 3, 2014 9:14 pm

        No, sorry, that is a no-go. While I am a huge fan of Adam Smith, tell me this. In the 1700-1900 period. where exactly did they get data on returns to capital and income distribution.

        Please elaborate in detail.

      • May 5, 2014 2:45 pm

        There is a 900+ page book “The Wealth of Nations” that anyone claiming any experience in economics should be familiar with that explains in tedious detail how Smith arrived at his deductions.

        We deduce the presence of planets by changes in the brightness of stars.

        Our warmist friends claim to be able to sus past temperatures from tiny variation is Tree Rings – which are effected bu many factors other than temperature.

        While warmists are often horrible at statistics – there is nothing mysterious about deriving the data sought from the data available. The issues are statistical.

        If you do not accept that it is possible to derive data indirectly, then you can not be a huge fan of Adam Smith – as he would merely be a quack conjuring numbers from thin air.
        BTW Smith was making economic conclusions based on economic proxies for the period from 1400-1770. Data from the 17th-19th centuries was far better.

        Are you going to presume that nothing at all happened from 1700-1900 because you do not like the data sources available to you.

        Data from the 1930’s forward is substantially better, but that does not mean we have no economic knowledge of prior periods. Do you actually doubt that people increasingly prospered from 1400-1900 ?

      • May 5, 2014 3:23 pm

        Man, you are insufferable and a pompous ass to boot. Tell me about the stars when I ask about economic data from 1700?

        Seriously, you need to see a therapist.

        Indulge me. Where on earth did Smith get income distribution data from?

        I am waiting.

        And stow the attitude for once. People may actually pay attention to your posts rather than hit the delete button.

        PS- I never said, nor implied that people were not living better in later years (although that would depend on WHAT humans you might be speaking of). But, that distinction is very different indeed than asserting specific data around returns to capital and income distributions.

        I will wait for your response, which I am sure, will tell me nothing but assert what you already have said.

      • May 5, 2014 3:48 pm

        And AGAIN, you can read can’t you ?

        If you want to see what data Smith used to reach his conclusions – and Smith was heavily data driven, then read WON.

        I am not going to teach you Smith. Nor am I going to fight about his means and methods.
        My POINT is that the magnum opus of economics which laid possibly 90% of the foundations for everything that followed, was driven by data at a time you claim that was impossible.

        Further I misspoke in my prior response. The QUALITY of the sources Smith used is not inferior. What is lacking in Smith’s proxies is the fine grained detail we have come to expect. Smith need not be able to validate or even know the profitability of specific british businesses to note and measure the overall change in standard of living from pre Shakespeare through the American Revolution.
        As I recall he was particularly found of data on exports, and imports, grains, pots and pans, gold and silver, wine.

        One of his thesis was that Spains scouring the world for gold actually impoverished the country and lead to their decline as a world power, while the British inability to “benefit” from the world precious metal resources forced them to actually PRODUCE.

        Leading to – money is not wealth. The wealth of a nation is what it produces.

      • May 5, 2014 3:59 pm

        None of the gibberish that you just typed had anything to do with returns to capital and income distribution, which WAS the original topic that I posted about.

        No one is attacking your precious Adam Smith. I am attacking your assertion that Smith could have possibly had these specific data at the time period that he was alive.

        Oh, he had proxies. Gee, that is just swell. Since he could have never trued up the proxies with actual data, his assertions about specific economic measures (like income distribution) were simply guesses.

        Nothing wrong with assertions and guess, as long as you don’t present them as actual empirical data. Simply state what you know, what you suspect, and what you can prove with evidence. If you don’t have evidence, simply tell us it is a theory that seems to explain things a bit.

        I love the way you stuck the Spain story in there. Not at all relevant but you are trying to impress everyone that you actually read the Wealth of Nations.

        Good for you.

        Wow, money is not wealth. That is profound, Dave, profound,.

      • May 5, 2014 9:46 pm

        Income distribution is pretty simple – for much of human existance 99% of us had zero or next to zero and the 1% had everything – of course everything was well – pretty close to nothing.

        As to returns on capitol prior to 1810 can one know what George Washington’s or Thomas Jefferson’s returns were ? Possibly many of these kept meticulous records.
        But for the vast majority probably not.
        At the same time can you look at the economy as a whole and work out what returns must have been on average over reasonable periods of time – certainly.
        Have I personally done so ? Nor would I be personally interested in doing so.
        But we still use proxies today.
        Inflation, cost of living, and poverty are derived based on the actual values for arbitrary collections of goods. Further as Census data on the actual goods owned demonstrates, those proxies are almost certainly pretty far off the mark. The living conditions that constitute poverty today are about twice what they were in the 60’s.
        Our proxies presume that the poor in 1960 ate about about the same, lived in the same apartments, and consumed roughly the same goods. Well they don’t.

        One of the reasons why narrow measures of anything resting on money are likely misleading. Money itself is a commodity. One whose value varies relative to others, and over time and not uniformly.

        So that you do not start ranting, I am not saying we should measure everything in tons of wheat or anything else. Only that whenever you are dealing with money in a very narrow way – such as incomes, you should check your results against real wealth – the goods and services consumed. Aggregate measures such as GDP – which has problems of its own, are better as they are sums of everything we produced given the value we assign.

        Anyway back to 1810 or 1730 or … There is no reason given some of the records we actually do have that we can not derive values for those we do not have directly.

        When we are lucky we get to measure things through direct observation.
        Often that is not the case. Many many things are quite precisely measured indirectly through either their effect on other things or other things effect on them.

        Do you doubt that relatively speaking standards of living in england rose from the time of shakespeare to the time of Smith as compared to Spain ?

        Given a large enough change over a long enough period why can’t you derive the returns that you are after ? Or do you think that the gains over time happened by magic ?

      • May 5, 2014 9:56 pm

        OK, Smartass, do it. Generate the numbers. You are such a frickin expert but you simply gloss over whatever is hard or inconvenient.

        Perfect answer from an empty suit. You weren’t there, but you know. How exactly do you know? You make fun of progressives but you are exactly the same as they are.

        The arrogance and ignorance is amazing. You are one of a kind.

        The fact is, you stated that Smith had the numbers. He did not. Nor, does the latest liberal French darling. In that regard, they are both the same.

        You are as bad as they both are.

        Ideologue! You don’t need data, you just know.


      • May 6, 2014 11:25 am

        Prove to me the sky is blue ? Or the sun will set tonight ?
        The comparison to progressives is apt but you have inverted it.

        Are you honestly arguing that the past prior to the 1930’s when we started collection more individual and business data is entirely unknowable ?
        What about all those nations that do not collect the same data we do. Are they all economically unknowable ?

        Yes, when you have to measure something less directly, your ability to do so with precision is smaller. But often your longer term measures are MORE accurate.

        The left is currently ranting about income inequality.
        If you take direct measurements of income inflation adjust them and ignore the fact that they are not comparing apples to apples – you get the results they claim.
        But if you grasp that people in every quintile are better off today than 40 years ago, that means there must be an error (besides those I listed) When you start to compare standard of living – wealth, which is after all what it is all about, then you guickly get a different picture. The Direct measure of inflation adjusted income is WRONG.
        The indirect measure – using the same kind of means you tell me I can not do in 1750 or 1810 is much better.

        You are the college professor. You seem really sharp sometimes, but then you go totally off the rails at others. You keep making exactly the same mistakes progressives make all the time. You get confused by numbers and forget that it is what they mean that matters.
        You sound like those chock full of the “pretense of knowledge” that Hayek slaughtered in his nobel valedictory.

      • May 6, 2014 12:00 pm

        Once again, I made the following statement:

        “No, sorry, that is a no-go. While I am a huge fan of Adam Smith, tell me this. In the 1700-1900 period. where exactly did they get data on returns to capital and income distribution.”

        You have failed to answer or address that question. You stated Smith had data, then, you back off, said he had proxies. Now what, phases of the moon?

        You continue to thrash about. Why not simply admit that you don’t know and that indeed, NO ONE knows what the income distribution was in the 1700 and 1800’s. Ditto, returns to capital.

        Yes, one could infer, speculate, extrapolate. But, Piketty is drawing charts that start in 1810 and extending those to 2050 as if he had a time series of data that was irrefutable. He does not. He is simply making shit up as he goes along. If you make up the beginning set of numbers and the end series, who cares what the middle says? Your analysis is simply fatally flawed.

        Now, that was, and remains the issue. You seem to be unable to grasp that. Tis a pity.

        Once again, for the final time, Smith’s theories are fine, I like them and agree with most. That does not mean I have to lie about how he derived them.

        Piketty is another matter. He has access to SOME data and yet, he feels compelled to make shit up. You of all people ought to be pissed.

      • May 6, 2014 12:50 pm

        Smith had lots of data. Just not the specific data in the specific form you wish.

        Even your own favorites – income distribution and ROC are PROXIES for what matters – standard of living.

        You rant that I fail to interpret your words as narrowly as you wish – despite your unrelated Rothbard tangent, and then misrepresent mine.

        To be clear. Smith to my knowledge did not address ROC. He touched on income distribution, though mostly by observing that laisez faire would ultimately increase the standard of living of those on the bottom the greatest and that would have societal consequences – ones he was not entirely happy with.

        Regardless the fact that Smith did not write WON using your prefered data and did not derive the specific values you fixate on does not mean he was building theoretical castles in the sand. Whether you or I agree with the theories that resulted or not, they were rooted in data.

        I am finding it very hard from your argument to believe that you have actually ever read any of WON, it apears that your pontifications about Smith are based entirely on what you have read that others have said.

        I do not know how you could have read more than small parts of WON and still claim that Smith did not work from data.

        A proxy is DATA. It is the means of analysis that is used to indirectly measure something that makes it a proxy. Most if not all analysis is of proxies. There are few meaningful values that can be measured directly. Tell me how do you measure standard of living directly ?

      • May 6, 2014 1:00 pm

        “Smith had lots of data. Just not the specific data in the specific form you wish.”

        I never said, nor implied that he did; you did that.

        “Even your own favorites – income distribution and ROC are PROXIES for what matters – standard of living.”

        They are not my favorites, that is what Pinketty used in his argument.

        “You rant that I fail to interpret your words as narrowly as you wish – despite your unrelated Rothbard tangent, and then misrepresent mine.”

        I said what I said, not what you thought I said.

        “To be clear. Smith to my knowledge did not address ROC. He touched on income distribution, though mostly by observing that laisez faire would ultimately increase the standard of living of those on the bottom the greatest and that would have societal consequences – ones he was not entirely happy with.”

        You are backtracking. Go back and read your posts. You made all the assertions about what data Smith had, not me.

        “Regardless the fact that Smith did not write WON using your prefered data and did not derive the specific values you fixate on does not mean he was building theoretical castles in the sand. Whether you or I agree with the theories that resulted or not, they were rooted in data.”

        Yet, you have failed to provide even one set of data that he DID actually use. I would love even one example if you can provide it.

        “I am finding it very hard from your argument to believe that you have actually ever read any of WON, it apears that your pontifications about Smith are based entirely on what you have read that others have said.”

        I have not pontificate about Smith at all. I simply said that I doubted he had the two sets of data that I referenced. You added all that other stuff.

        “I do not know how you could have read more than small parts of WON and still claim that Smith did not work from data.”

        Yet, you cannot cite one example of data and where he got it from.

        “A proxy is DATA. It is the means of analysis that is used to indirectly measure something that makes it a proxy. Most if not all analysis is of proxies. There are few meaningful values that can be measured directly. Tell me how do you measure standard of living directly ?”

        I know what a proxy is, you moron. I never implied that proxies are not valid. But, proxies are usually routed in some form of data. You should know that.

        So, what were Smith’s proxies?

      • May 6, 2014 2:09 pm

        I am not the one backtraking here.

        “his assertions about specific economic measures (like income distribution) were simply guesses.”

      • May 6, 2014 2:21 pm

        Let’s see. first you assert that Adam Smith developed income distribution data. They, you tell me he did not.


      • May 6, 2014 3:54 pm

        No I said Adam Smith derived GDP data from proxies from about 1500 on.

        My claim from the begining is that the past is not nearly as economically opaque as you claim. I have subsequently found others that actually have exactly the data you claimed can not exist. Though I have not personally claimed that exactly what you wanted existed, only that it could be derived.

      • May 6, 2014 3:57 pm

        I just reviewed the WON. If Smith compiled data on GDP, he hid that data pretty well indeed.

        Maybe he used pixies?

      • May 6, 2014 4:53 pm

        The title of the book is “an inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations”

        Strictly speaking Smith did not derive GDP, as that is a relatively modern term with a specific and narrow meaning.
        Smith sought to measure and explore the changes in a nations wealth over time and the causes of those changes.

        To do that he had to determine the changes in a nations wealth over time.
        You can read the book to figure out how he did that.
        I do not think even the Rothbard article you cited said he failed.

        For the purposes of my argument it is irrelevant precisely how he determined that.
        Only that he managed to do for a period long before you claim that type of economic data existed or could be found. While he derived it from proxies, it would not alter the argument if he went down to the royal library and pulled direct records – well except that as you correctly note those did not exist.

        GDP itself is a “derived” value. And GDP per capita is an accepted proxy for standard of living.

        And in the end that is what it is all about.

      • May 6, 2014 5:50 pm

        You keep changing your story. First, Smith had reams of data. Then, well, no, he had proxies. No, wait, he did income redistribution and ROC. No, wait, he didn’t.

        Well, he certainly generated GDP. Well, no not exactly GDP but something like that. But, he must have had one good data table or two? Ah, no.

        I think he made shit up. I guess you could do that back then, and steal others work to boot.

        Good gig if you can get it.

      • May 6, 2014 8:48 pm

        Proxies are data. I have said that before. I should not have had to.
        You seem to want to argue about what the sum of 2 + 2 is.

        I did not say Smith did ROC or income distributions. I said he derived GDP.
        Technically that is also incorrect as GDP is a modern construct with a specific definition.
        Smith determined the changes in the wealth of various native over time,

        Past that I have also provided you numerous links to others who have actually provided income distributions in the 18th century.

        You are fixating on details. Much is wrong with Pikettys. Maybe even his ROC and income data for 1810 is made up – I do not know. But I do know that both can be determined (and have been), whether Pikettys made up his sources, such sources do exist.

        You can rant that they do not live up to your standards, or were derived using differnet methods, but they still exist.

        My use of Smith was merely to demonstrate that economic data from the 16th century on exists. I did not expect that would expose large holes in your knowledge of economics.
        Frankly I never expect you were going to attack my initial assertion that Smith demonstrated the ability to derive important Economic data earlier than Pikettys was using.

        I do not care if you like Smith or hate him. Agree or disagree. That was not the point.
        The point was that 1810 and before are not “the economic dark ages” about which there is no data. In most instances the quality of our data has improved over time.
        Though not so much our ability to grasp its meaning.
        Maybe the absence of readily accepted published charts and tables of income distributions and ROC in the 18th century forced people to open their eyes look arround their world and note that over time conditions are improving – for everyone.
        Today we have experts selling an income inequality meme with charts and data,
        blind to the fact that if they took their heads out of the charts and tables, their own experiences in the real world would cast great doubt on the conclusions they were offering. The carefully collected data is not wrong. It just does not mean what they think it does. That is what happens when in whatever field you are in you fixate on data and models and forget that you must check things against reality periodically.
        In a debate between data and reality – reality never loses. The sun rose this morning, and will again tomorow, even if 10,000 experts an terabytes of data say it did nto and will not.

        But you seem to want to fight over whether the sun will rise tomorow.
        Its like arguing with a progessive. You are too smart for this.

      • May 6, 2014 2:19 pm

        Should have quoted the whole paragraph as that addresses your other claim.

        “Oh, he had proxies. Gee, that is just swell. Since he could have never trued up the proxies with actual data, his assertions about specific economic measures (like income distribution) were simply guesses.”

        Proxies are ACTUAL DATA. As you have finally conceded. They are merely data about X used to extrapolate about Y. Most everything is a proxy, sometimes the relationship is closer and sometimes farther
        “truing the data” would merely have been comparing the results of two different proxies.

        Like comparing the modern tax data used to compile income distributions with data on actual wealth as a means of demonstrating that something is wrong about that income data. It may be specific, detailed, and even accurate, but it does not mean what it purports to mean because if the standard of living of a couple just starting out is double today what it was 40 years ago. But their income is the same then something important is wrong. The income data no matter how precise, accurate skillfully collected, does not mean what it is offered to mean – that our standard of living is unchanged.

      • May 6, 2014 2:23 pm

        Yes, I know dumbbell, all problems with income distribution data even when you have a income tax system. Before that, good luck?

        And, for your info, income and wealth (net worth) are not the same.

      • May 6, 2014 4:09 pm

        I am well aware that “income” is not wealth.

        I typically use “standard of living” as the goal. To attempt to avoid confusion over all these other words. “net worth” is not necescarily the same thing.

        Most of us grasp that standard of living is quality of life, is how well am I doing.
        Not necescarily the sum of my money or assets.

        You are fixated on “all the problems with income distribution data” because you are up their at the edge of the glacier with your electron microscope trying to measure its advance/retreat in angstroms.

        Take a couple of steps back. Most of those problems go away.
        As with the modern IE debate. When you let go of dollar denominated measures of income by quintile and look at changes in standard of living as measured in directly observable things, you do not need data – your own observations from life are sufficient.
        But in the event you are blind to the changes in standard of living with the passage of time, The census and NBER have plenty of data.
        Standard of living for every quintile has nearly doubled over the past 4 decades.
        That can not be reconciled with flat incomes for 3 of 4 quintiles without taking the intended meaning from the income data.

        Who cares how much we are paid year to year ? The objective is how much our lives have improved.

        Your busy ranting about pikettys failure to properly measure your favorite reference with an electron microscope and oblivious to the fact that the infomation we need to measure the gains in the past either exists or can be derived.

      • May 6, 2014 11:37 am

        So the Wealth of Nations is not only plagarized but completely fabricated.

        Smith’s comparisions of Britian to Spain are bogus because he could not have and could not derive the information you think is necescary to draw those conclusions.

        Therefore Smith is wrong, Spain is still the worlds only super power and all history since Shakespeare is meaningless.

        I can not grasp your issue here. Do we know what the butcher John Dunn’s ROC was in 1700 ? No. Do we know fairly accurately that England prospered while Spain languished from Shakespeare to Smith ? Yes. Does the fact that we can not directly derive some number you are fixated on mean we can not know it precisely for a given moment in time.
        But we can know it as accurately – possibly even more so over larger time periods and broader populations – like a country.

        Not only can we do so, but we should ALWAYS subject our carefully gathered precise data to tests using more indirect methods. Otherwise like the left on income inequality we confuse what we can measure with great precison with what we are trying to measure.
        Wages that do not accurately tell us wealth or standard of living are useless measures.

        I am constantly forced to tell progressives to take off the blinders and test what they think they know against the real world. I would not expect to have to tell you the same thing.

      • May 6, 2014 12:02 pm

        My God, you are sense. I did not accuse Smith of anything. I simply posted a link of someone who did.

        As Reagan used to say: “there you go again.”

      • May 6, 2014 1:01 pm

        You posted a link to a commentary on Smith that had ZERO to do with your personal narrow definiton of the argument and then malign me for arguing outside the tiny box you claim this is all about.

        I have zero idea where Pikettys got his 1810 ROC or income distribution information.
        I have zero idea whether what Pikettys used is accurate or not – and based on mistakes he made in other places and his own interviews I would doubt it.

        I am not defending Pikettys – god forbid. But I am defending the proposition that we are able to know important measures of past economies – long before a few nations started collecting egregious amounts of data.

        Smith’s WON was not offered as proof that income distribution or ROC data was at Smith’s finger tips in 1776, but that as WON demonstrates important economic principles could be determined and tested from the data that was available at the time – even if not using the methods you personally would have prefered. You can reject Smith’s conclusions in their entirety if you wish, or claim that they are all plagarism’s of others. But you can not claim that Smith was building theotetical castles in the sky with no foundation in real world data that Smith himself discusses and uses without being completely ignorant about Smith.

      • May 6, 2014 2:11 pm

        “But you can not claim that Smith was building theotetical castles in the sky with no foundation in real world data that Smith himself discusses and uses without being completely ignorant about Smith.”

        I never claimed that. Show me where I did.

        The critique of Smith was posted to see how long it would take you to go nuclear. It worked.

        And, you have yet to provide any example of the data that Smith did use in WON.

      • May 6, 2014 2:21 pm

        “And, you have yet to provide any example of the data that Smith did use in WON.”

        Take book off shelf. Flip open at random. Odds are pretty good you will find something.

        You are moving from demanding that I prove the sun will rise tomorow, to proving that it did yesterday.

      • May 6, 2014 2:31 pm

        I just did that, thanks. All 783 pages, pretty easy to scan when you are looking for charts, graphs, or anything that looks like marco-economic data of the kind you implied was in there.

        Ah, sorry, zero, zilch, nada. The closest he came was to provide a few anecdotes and a couple of representative tax charts from England of the time.

        Oh, and precious few footnotes. Apparently, Schumpeter was right; old Adam liked to borrow stuff from others.

        Find another hero.

      • May 6, 2014 4:17 pm

        You really have never read Smith have you ?
        No one who has cracked the cover of WON is ignorant of the fact that there are NO charts or graphs.

        Graphical methods of statistical analysis and presentation were invented by another scottish enlightenment intellectual – William Playfair.

        Playfair was the editor for a later edition of WON.

        Several hundred of those pages you skimmed could have been eliminated if Smith had borrowed Playfair’s charts and graphing.

        Didn’t you say you are teaching economics ? How is it you do not know this ?

      • May 6, 2014 5:39 pm

        No charts, graphs, tables, NO DATA.


        You told me that book is full of data. The book is void of data. It is 783 pages of assertions and theory.

        Nice, if you like theory.

      • May 6, 2014 8:19 pm

        Plenty of data, no charts, no tables, no graphs,

        Apparently you are not used to information in sentences.

        I picked a page at random and found several sentences like

        “When wheat is at twelve shillings the quarter, says an antient statute of Henry III. then wastel bread of a farthing shall weigh eleven shillings and four pence.”

        Followed by a digression on the relative values of different currencies at different times.

        If you are having this much difficulty try P. J. ORourke’s “On the wealth of nations” which is a more serious than ORourke normally is condensed version in modern english.

        You might even get footnotes.

        Regardless, I can see how you might think that the data you are looking for did not exist prior to 1810. You seem unable to deal with the fact that technical writing has changed dramatically over that time frame.

        Those who can not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
        I guess if you can not read it, you can not learn from it.

        You were saying wonderful things about Richard Cantillion, the difficulty you are having with smith suggests that you have not read him either.

        How about your non de plume Bastiat ? Actually read him ? That is 50+ years later maybe that is more accessible to you.

        Please tell me you are not teaching economics anywhere ?

      • May 6, 2014 1:08 pm

        And I presumed that the Rothbard commentary that you linked to had some meaningful connection to the argument.

        Was that unreasonable of me ? Should I just presume that what you link to in a thread has no connection at all to the argument you are making ?

        Who is the one with the aspbergers like fixation on literalism ?

        I am not the one trying to pretend that past economic information did not exist or could not be determined merely because it could not be done using my prefered means.
        WON demonstrates the ability to derive meaningful economic information from far earlier periods. That it does not literally address income distribution or ROC does not mean that they too can not be derived.

      • May 6, 2014 2:13 pm

        “That it does not literally address income distribution or ROC does not mean that they too can not be derived.”

        You said that they did, I did not. I can show you the statement if you would like.

        That said, show me a derivation of ROC and income distribution for 1750? I will be waiting.

      • May 6, 2014 2:23 pm

        “You said that they did, I did not. I can show you the statement if you would like.”

        Can I buy a noun ?

      • May 6, 2014 2:32 pm

        You likely don’t have the money for a noun.

      • May 5, 2014 10:00 pm

        “Do you doubt that relatively speaking standards of living in england rose from the time of shakespeare to the time of Smith as compared to Spain.”

        No, I never said not intimated that, you moron.

        I said that Smith nor Piketty have data on returns on capital nor income distribution from the 1800s.

        If you have proof that they do, show it.

        Otherwise, shut up, as you are making yourself look like a fool.

      • May 6, 2014 12:11 pm

        Do you really think that income distribution in 1500 or 1810 is unknowable because you do not have data in the form you prefer ? I can probably think of a dozen proxies or indirect measures of income distribution. And that ignores the fact that it was essentially L shaped for much of human existance, and is more wedged shaped today – so between 1500 and today it must have shifted from one to the other. And it probably did not do that instantly.

        As to ROC are you really this dense ? You do accept that both in individual classes and as a whole wealth increased from 1500 through 1810 ? Did that happen by magic ?
        Did production increase without any increase in capitol invested ?

        I am deliberately chosing the long period because the difference is hopefully OBVIOUS without need to measure precisely. But similar methods work on shorter periods.
        The limit is not our ability to measure something like income distribution or ROC.
        But our ability to measure it precisely at a given moment in time.
        We can know that from 1750-1800 ROC in the colonies averaged X without knowing precisely what it was in may of 1762.

        Nor is this even an economic issue. It is exactly the same as deducing the presence and size of planets from variations in the light received from the star they orbit.
        It is the same as diagnosing a disease by noting a persons symptoms.

        Pikettys problems as I grasp them are much like your own. He is confusing what he can measure with what is real. He has constructed a mathematical castle in the sky. It is perfect, but it is poorly connected with reality. It is driven by real world data collected with great precision, and even analysed using accepted mathematical models. But as he has used a mathematical model for one type of data and applied it to a different type his results do not mean what he thinks they do – if they mean anything at all.

        Open your windows and look outside. Step back from your microscope.
        Do you measure the rate of growth or decline of a glacier by calculating how many angstroms it has moved in the last hour and projecting ? Are we unable to know the past progress of glaciers because we could not measure positions to angstroms 100 years ago ? Or can you ACCURATELY measure the rate of movement of a glacier by noting where it was 100 years ago and where it is today ? Which means is better – measuring the angstroms/second or the kilometers/century ?

      • May 6, 2014 12:23 pm

        You are having a nice conversation with yourself. Are you having fun? I never said nor intimated most of what you have just stated.

        What was the “income distribution” in 1725? If you or anyone knows what it was, why can’t you produce it? That was the point, not any of the other stuff you made up. Piketty doesn’t know yes he represents that he does. That makes him a fraud.

        Are most better off economically in today’s world? Of course, and I never even implied that this was not true. Did a capitalist based system produce that? Yes, I never doubted that and never even implied that was not true.

        See, you can’t even figure out when people are agreeing with you, since you are so obsessed with sending, you cannot receive anything.

        Hence, you inability to simply read what is written.

      • May 6, 2014 1:50 pm

        Are you really arguing that income distribution in 1725 or any other time prior to the 1930’s was unknowable ?

        Here is a paper on income distribution in mid 18th century france.

        Here is one on the US from 1774 through 1860…/LindertWilliamson.pdf‎

        Here is a book on income distribution in the netherlands from the 16th through 20th centuries

        A google search is also producing similar links for return on capital from the same period.

        To be clear, I am not claiming any of these are correct.
        Only that the values you claim are unknowable have been derived by many..
        You can argue about how they were derived but the claim that that no one has derived them is false.

        And again I am greatly disappointed that you have offered such a poor claim.
        I did not bother to search for any of this before, because I though anyone with even passing familiarity with WON would grasp that is false.
        And because the argument is little different than claiming the sun will not rise tomorow.
        Difficult to disprove but obviously false.

      • May 6, 2014 2:36 pm

        Oh, I see. You think that “derived” means “made shit up!”

        I can derive my neighbors income by all measure of proxies or guesses He has a nice car, takes many vacations. etc. That must mean he makes between x and y.

        I can only know if that means anything if we tells me what it actually is.

        You must believe in Santa. I am mean, many people have derived that he exists, so…..

      • May 6, 2014 4:26 pm

        Derive does not men “make things up”

        You can determine your neighbors income from observations.
        His telling you what it is may be no more accurate – you are presuming that he is telling to truth and not accidentally or deliberately omitting something.

        It is true that his income as reported on his income taxes is more precise – maybe even more accurate than what you determine from observation.

        Lets try something different. If we know how much the US government borrows in a year, and we know how much it spends. Do you think our derivation of its revenue is merely some magical guess ?

        You are scaring me. Are you really teaching students ?

      • May 6, 2014 5:40 pm

        Of course, you have to know something (which you don’t) to derive something.

        What the hell was Smith working with?

      • May 6, 2014 8:22 pm

        Try reading the book. No there are no charts graphs etc.
        The book likely could have been several hundred pages shorter with them.
        But they had just been invented. And though they would have made WON more accessible to modern audiences, they would likely have made it more dubious to audiences of the time.

      • May 5, 2014 5:35 pm

        Don’t blame me, I didn’t write it.

        “And then, the fight broke out!”

      • May 5, 2014 10:01 pm

        I do not grasp why you (or Rothbard) thinks this is all that important.
        Little of what Smith conceived was original – So ? The same is true of Newton or Freud.
        Some of what Smith offered was wrong – again so ? Freud is the founder of Psychiatry yet he got nearly nothing right. And still we use him as a starting point, and rely heavily on much of his work.

        Whatever the reasons the world was not the same after Smith.
        I have never claimed Smith was some saint.
        He dallied awfully close to a labor theory of value. Some things he just plain got completely wrong.
        He still changed the world. Cantillion did not. That says nothing of eithers other merits.

        I have read some Cantillion and found it fascinating.
        But arguing Cantillion on DailyKOS, Think Progress, or TNM is not going to get you very far. Everyone in economics starts with Smith. Maybe they could start elsewhere, but they don’t. Many of us recognize the parable of the butcher, baker, brewer and self-interest.
        If smith stole it so what. He populaized it and we credit it to him.

        If the real Smith and the image of Smith do are not congruent – again so what.
        JFK, MLK, Ghandi are different from their image. We can still learn from the myth.

      • May 6, 2014 7:33 am


        This is the statement that I made:

        “No, sorry, that is a no-go. While I am a huge fan of Adam Smith, tell me this. In the 1700-1900 period. where exactly did they get data on returns to capital and income distribution.

        Please elaborate in detail.”

        Now, from that, you launched into a long and quite windbag defense of Adam Smith. Notice, I said that I was a fan of Smith’s work. Notice that since you could not provide an answer to my question, you went off on a tirade, defending Smith’s work.

        Who cares? I made a simple assertion, i.e.,, Adam Smith could not have possibly provided accurate macro-economic data on income distribution and returns to capital at the time he wrote his books. Does that make his work less worthy? Not at all. It simply means his was work of theory, with scant data to back it up. Hey, he worked with what he dad.

        Piketty has not such defense, yet he does the same thing. THAT was my point.

        Yet, you can’t let up. You mention proxies. What were they and why do they substitute for data? Well, because he had not data. And, that is OK at the time that Smith was writing.

        Notice, when a direct question is asked that you do not like, you go off in every direction.
        Shoot, you even resort to JFK, MLK, and Ghandi. What the hell do they have to do with income distribution?

        Reading skills: Get some!

      • May 6, 2014 12:31 pm

        Try taking your own advice. Have you actually read WON ? Smith goes into excrutiating detail about how he derived the data he used to demonstrate his points.

        I could care less whether you love Smith or hate him.
        Your argument is essentially that all economics prior to 1810 or some other arbitrary date is theory and speculation because your favorite means of measurement was not possible then. That is total crap and you should know better.

        Can ROC or Income distribution in 1810 be calculated in precisely the way in which you prefer ? No. Can it be accurately derived through other means ? Yes.

        Further, you linked in a Rothbard commentary on Smith that has nothing to do with the point you are claiming was in debate.

        All you the only one permitted to cite examples or extend the discussion beyond the most narrow interpretation of your words ?

        If that is so then I must concede. Neither Smith nor anyone else could not possibly have calculated income distribtions or ROC in 1810 or any period earlier in the specific fashion you insist on.

        My point over and over again is that just because that information could not be derived using the method you prefer does not mean that it is unknowable. It does nto even mean that it can not be determined fairly accurately – just not by the means and methods you prefer.

        And that is a critical point because if you confine your self to specific approaches that measure something with incredibly precision, without stepping back then you often fail to grasp that what you are measuring often does not mean what you think it does.

        A variation of the same error Piketts is making – unless you reconnect your measurements, data, methods and mathematical models back to real people in the real world, then you are likely building mathemtaically perfect and meaningless castles in the sky.

        The value of Income distribution and ROC information is for what it tells us about absolute and relative standard of living. If you know the later, you not only know what really matters, but you can derive the former.

      • May 6, 2014 12:34 pm

        “Your argument is essentially that all economics prior to 1810 or some other arbitrary date is theory and speculation because your favorite means of measurement was not possible then. That is total crap and you should know better. ”

        Show me where I made that argument. Reproduce that statement or one that even suggests that.

      • May 6, 2014 1:56 pm

        “This new book shows in chart form, returns to capital and income distribution data from 1810.
        Now let’s think this through. Did we really have that data compiled in 1810?”

        Sound to me like an assertion that such data does not existed.

      • May 6, 2014 2:17 pm

        OK smart guy. How might that data have been obtained. Have you ever seen it? I have not and neither have you. Just because this bird publishes chart means nothing.

      • May 6, 2014 3:35 pm

        A simple google search reveal many sources for exactly the data you claim does not exist.

        While that says nothing about the quality of these sources or how they derived it, it still means that the underlying data exists.

        I do not understand in detail how they determine not only the existance of but the size, mass and some aspects of composition of planets of other stars that can not possibly be observed directly. Yet I strongly suspect that they did not just make up the data on the couple of hundred planets they have found thus far.

        You really still do nto seem to grasp that just because the data you think is critical can not be derived by the only means you seem willing to accept does not mean it does nto exist.

      • May 6, 2014 3:45 pm

        I understand just fine, thanks. Just the fact that you have to keep referencing astronomy is instructive.

        Before calculations and data, well, most observations were exactly, dead wrong.

        Enter, experiments, data, and proof.

      • May 6, 2014 4:38 pm

        “Before calculations and data, well, most observations were exactly, dead wrong.”

        Starting to get an idea where the problem is.
        So I am guessing you really do not beleive they have found planets outside our solar system ?

        I keep returning to those recent planet discoveries because they are a beautiful example of solid scientific conclusions without direct observation.
        You cite the scientific method – but fail to grasp that huge portions of science are “derived”

        We determine whether you have the flu or a cold by symptoms, not sequencing the DNA of the virus.
        We have virtually no direct observation of vertical evolution – yet it is accepted science.
        We recently “discovered” the Higgs Bosun. No one has ever seen one, nor ever will.
        We observe energy levels and effects that are consistent with predictions.

        Much of science is far more “derived” than determining your neighbors income by observing his spending.

        And they accuse me of being incredibly litteral and having aspbergers.

      • May 6, 2014 5:43 pm

        That is nice. So, you speak of discoveries we are making today that we didn’t know about.

        And this relates to Adam Smith in exactly what way? Did he know there planets out there? Was he a seer.

        I get it know. Smith was a time traveler, wasn’t he.

      • May 6, 2014 8:26 pm

        I can not grasp why this is so difficult for you.

        Much of science is conclusions about something by measuring something else.
        Changing centuries or changing fields does not alter the legitimacy of that approach.

      • May 6, 2014 3:49 pm

        IN 1810, the king wanted to know the income distribution of his Empire, and of course, the rest of the world (so that he could compare and contrast).

        Now, Dave steps in to tell him how this would be “derived.”

        OK, Dave. Tell us how to do this?

      • May 6, 2014 4:42 pm

        You are still arguing this ?

      • May 6, 2014 5:45 pm

        Not any more. Since everyone else has abandoned you (or you have driven them off with our superior intellect????) I shall do the same.

        I will return when someone else makes post.

        I shall leave you to your delirium and of course. to your beloved Adam Smith.

      • May 6, 2014 12:37 pm

        “My point over and over again is that just because that information could not be derived using the method you prefer does not mean that it is unknowable.”

        Money, meet mouth.

        Show me the income distribution that Adam Smith developed for his time period.
        I bet you cannot.

        That doesn’t mean that all economic theory of his day was wrong. I never said that, you simply said that I said that.

        You are delusional. See a therapist.

      • May 6, 2014 2:03 pm

        I have provided you with a collection of links to a variety of sources that have “compiled” income distribution data prior to 1810.

        Smith was merely a glaringly obvious example that economic data from 1500-1776 was derivable. And you felt a compelling need to debate even that which is obvious to anyone who has ready more than a few pages of WON.

        This is not an argument about theory. This is about whether conditions in the past can be established with sufficient reliability to draw conclusions.
        I could care less whether Smith is “theorizing” in 1776 about the prior 2 centuries or some modern economist is using data about the same period collected today to draw conclusions about the past prior to US income taxes.

        Nor is this about Pikettys – beyond that data existed.

      • May 6, 2014 2:19 pm

        I think I see the problem now. You actually don’t know what an income distribution or ROC looks like. This explains a lot.

      • May 6, 2014 3:44 pm

        No – I do not care.

        I do not care if we are arguing about the number of cats per capita in 1731.
        The question is whether that can be determined.
        Cats per capita might not be.

        Income distribution and Return on Capitol in atleast the broad sense either exist or can be derived – probably for the entirely of human existance – with varying degrees of accuracy.

        Can we derive the wheat production in county cork in 1649 if no one kept any records ?
        Probably not. Can we establish standard of living and income distribution ? precisely no, but less precisely yes.
        From changes over time to the former can we derive returns ? yes.

        Your trying to measure the advance of glaciers with an electron microscope.
        You might be able to do that quite precisely.
        But that does not mean the same information can not be obtained possibly even more accurately without sophisticated tools.

      • May 6, 2014 3:47 pm

        No, you actually don’t know what an income distribution is, and yet, you argue that it was knowable in 1810.

        You are, quite the genius.

        How may unicorns were there back then?

      • May 6, 2014 12:38 pm

        “The value of Income distribution and ROC information is for what it tells us about absolute and relative standard of living. If you know the later, you not only know what really matters, but you can derive the former.”

        OK, genius, show us the derivation.

        I know you cannot.

      • May 6, 2014 2:05 pm

        You actually want me to prove y = mx +b ?

  79. May 5, 2014 9:57 pm

    Seriously, Dave, Did you not say you were an architect? I wouldn’t hire you to dig a ditch.

    • May 6, 2014 11:48 am

      I have not asked you to hire me – either to design and get building built which is what Architects do, or to dig ditches which is a job for unskilled labor. I would not hire you to dig a ditch either. How is that meaningful ?

      And the more you rant on the more clear it becomes to me that you are an “expert”. Extremely knowledgeable in a very narrow field and totally out of your depth even a few millimeters beyond.

      This entire rant about measuring the past is very disheartening. I am deeply disturbed that you seem unable to grasp that just because governments did not collect the same huge volume of individually detailed data 200 years ago, that economic analysis of the past is still possible. Even today much of the scholarship that is giving us a better picture of the Great Depression or the 19th century is doing so by using less traditional data sources – because the traditional sources are misleading.

      You are fixating on a specific narrow means of measurement, and allowing that fixation to color your vision.

      You are confusing our inability to know how many black jelly beans are in a jar, with being able to tell how full the jar is.

  80. May 6, 2014 12:05 pm

    “This entire rant about measuring the past is very disheartening. I am deeply disturbed that you seem unable to grasp that just because governments did not collect the same huge volume of individually detailed data 200 years ago, that economic analysis of the past is still possible. Even today much of the scholarship that is giving us a better picture of the Great Depression or the 19th century is doing so by using less traditional data sources – because the traditional sources are misleading.”

    Hey Dimwit, learn to read. I actually never asserted anything of the sort. If you can find the statement where I said that, show me? There was no rant, simply a three line statement, which you have still failed to address.

    I was referring to specific income distribution data and returns to capital. You added the rest of this horseshit you typed above.

    Have you ever even taken an econ or statistics course? It does not appear that you have.

    • May 6, 2014 1:33 pm

      I have taken lots of courses including econ and statistics, but I am well past the point where what courses I took 35 years ago in college have any bearing on what I know.

      Have you actually read even parts of WON – not just read something some else uttered about it ?

      And specifically addressing your inital points.

      I still have ZERO interest in demonstrating the obvious to you
      i.e. that ROC and income distribution could be determined for 1810.

      Are you claiming that there do not exist two points one prior to 1810 and one after 1810 that IE and ROC were not known or determinable ?

      If a ship leaves Liverpool and later arrives in new york that it did not cross the ocean ?

      Smith was used not to prove the availablility of IE and ROC in 1776 but that key economic measures could be made from 1500-1776.

      Are you claiming that the wealth of a nation can increase with zero return on capital ?

      • May 6, 2014 2:15 pm

        Show me the data, Dave. Give me some examples of the “data” that Smith used.

        You keep saying it, be you cannot demonstrate same.

  81. May 6, 2014 12:25 pm

    “Pikettys problems as I grasp them are much like your own. He is confusing what he can measure with what is real. He has constructed a mathematical castle in the sky. It is perfect, but it is poorly connected with reality. It is driven by real world data collected with great precision, and even analysed using accepted mathematical models. But as he has used a mathematical model for one type of data and applied it to a different type his results do not mean what he thinks they do – if they mean anything at all.”

    That was my point, you dumbbell. You are agreeing with me, so shut up already.

    • May 6, 2014 1:53 pm

      You point as you have drummed it in repeatedly is that
      income distribution and ROC information for 1810 does not exist.

    • May 10, 2014 12:54 pm

      So when Saverin emigrated to singapore that was federalism ?

      Governments should have to compete too. To the extent that “Federalism” in the US increases that it is good. But the benefit is clearly from competition, and in many ways many states go out of their way to cartelize that competition. Fortunately cartels and monopolies are unsustainable – sometimes even with state support.

      • May 10, 2014 1:18 pm

        Autonomy and competition are the point of federalism, you moron.

        Go read a history book.

      • May 10, 2014 3:24 pm

        Autonomy and competition are 2 of many points of federalism. They are not even the only points you have argued.

      • May 10, 2014 4:09 pm

        I am not paid to be your teacher. Educate yourself before you make a further fool of yourself.

  82. Roby L permalink
    May 17, 2014 7:55 pm

    I don’t like scandals in general, few live up to the name. A scandal is usually a partisan political production run by the party out of power and their supporters in the media. Suddenly experts appear who know all about how things should be done and demand that heads roll.

    Its an eternal story and will continue forever, humans screw up and do stupid or illegal things, sometimes things just come out wrong without even that happening in difficult situations but someone must pay anyhow.

    Much as I dislike the scandal mentality, I’ll admit its part of the functioning of a healthy democracy. I’ll contrast our situation with that in Russia, where citizens do not get honest facts from the government, the media is just an arm of the government, and no body has to power to do anything anyhow if they did know because only one man in the country has meaningful power. I know many Russian people who have hearts of gold, are highly intelligent and have been all over the world and seen how democracies work. They have not noticed at all as far as I can tell that Putin has stolen their country, that he overthrew and took over the free media media over the last decade, etc. They repeat the party line on Ukraine, even though they should know better.. If the same people had been born into our culture they would be criticizing our government with a passion, from one side or another. This is why Russia, with a history that goes back well over 1000 years and all the many huge Russian achievements in the arts and sciences, is a disaster to live in outside of the best districts of the largest cities. People live really badly, short lives, alcoholism, unstable finances, corruption at unbelievable levels.

    Meanwhile here we are in the USA with our 200 year history and by comparison to how the average person lives in Russia the average American has it made more then most will ever realize. Democracy. real democracy, even with all the partisan bitching is our good fortune its a great part of the reason we live as well as we do.

    So, carry on bitching and scandalizing, its healthy for society, but I think that a great deal of the bitterness I read here is misplaced and comes from a highly partisan point of view that the average moderate will tune out, while being angry about the vets not getting what they need. As to the scandal of the day, I think it is a scandal of insufficient financial resources to do all that we have promised to do for Vets, Its not new, a little research will take you back to veterans for example, of the Kuwait campaign who had mental and physical health issues that were poorly or not addressed or were called unreal. Go back further, Vietnam, agent orange, PTS disorder. Go back still further you will find the case fo the “Bonus Army.”
    An objective observer with great patience and time could trace the insufficient medical care to political decisions made by BOTH parties for decades and longer. Fixing it is the issue, that would require cooperation between the parties.

    • May 17, 2014 10:56 pm

      Isn’t a good thing that each party puts the other under a microscope looking for misdeeds ?

      You applaud our free press for doing so, yet when it is political somehow it is wrong ?

      Does it matter whether scandal is brought out and pursued by the press, the other party, whistleblowers, angles or demons ?

      Motives only matter when we are uncertain about the facts.

    • May 17, 2014 11:02 pm

      Why does fixing the VA mess require political cooperation ?

      All that is necescary is for the administration to deliver.

      Businesses deliver on their promises or they die.
      That incentive does nto exist for government why would you expect institutions that at worst face a few weeks of bad press, and maybe the early retirement of some bureaucrat, to be motivated to efficiently deliver on their promises ?

  83. Priscilla permalink
    May 17, 2014 10:29 pm

    We are back on this thread, I see.

    I’m a bit mystified by your US/Russia comparison, Roby, and not very reassured to know that we are better by comparison. One would hope so. Maybe that was not your point.

    You cite bitterness and partisanship as the motivation behind the desire to pursue the VA situation. I would say that shock, anger and dismay would more accurately describe the feelings that most people have upon learning that the federal agency entrusted with the medical care of the veterans has apparently betrayed that trust, and in a very coldhearted and calculated way.

    Meanwhile, the President and his men (and women, of course!) have so far blown this off in a highly cavalier manner…. If I am not mistaken, although Obama has seen fit to personally weigh in on the Zimmerman case, the reproductive rights of Sandra Fluke and even the racist remarks of Donald Sterling, he has yet to express any personal upset or outrage over the secret waitlists for military veterans requiring care. One would expect more from a commander-in-chief.

    Keep in mind also, that, while the VA was dealing out death panel treatment to veterans, via secret, illegal procedures, it was also dealing out fat bonuses to the executives responsible for the malfeasance, not to mention blowing $500 million on new furniture and curtains for their offices.

    The “bitching” about this is very specific to what has gone on under this VA Secretary, who reports to this president. And I think it is justified and not particularly partisan to “scandalize” it, if that is how it will get fixed. And, if this is not worth raising a ruckus over, I don’t know what is.

    • May 18, 2014 11:13 am

      Wait isn’t the VA government provided and run healthcare ?
      Wait distinguishes the VA from optimal scheme progressives desire ?

      Isn’t the VA the system that Paul Krugman constantly touts ?

  84. Roby L permalink
    May 18, 2014 10:09 am

    My comment was that the bitching is healthy, even while I find it often extreme and distasteful to live among two warring camps that believe their ideological point of view is more moral and intelligent and that members of the other side are generally heathen and tend towards depravity. First it was Christian Vs. Muslim, then Protestant Vs. Catholic, later we got Whig Vs. Tory, Progressive Vs. Libertarian, Liberal vs Conservative, Commie Vs. Capitalist. Does it always have to be a crusade, can people learn to take the different points of view more in stride. Perhaps that just doesn’t match human tendencies, but a person can still dream.

    In Russia, which I speak of here just because its on my mind lately as I have a view sort of “from the inside” of that system of a one tribe nation of ultranationalists who don’t even know that they are ultra nationalists and who cannot kiss the great leaders ass fast enough when he makes the few vestiges of a free media even smaller than last year. When I look at the one tribe system that I see in Russia and then I look at the two tribe system here, upsetting and depressing as it is, my observation is that the two tribe system works and being a much younger society we have long ago surpassed the always authoritarian Russians with all their long history and many resources long ago. So, I am trying to console myself about our own two tribe cultural war.

    There were at least 4 separate issues that have been raised here.

    1) Scandals and how the media are perceived to cover them depending on ideology.

    2) The VA itself and treatment of veterans.

    3.) Obama.

    4.) Right vs. left, with the view here being strongly in favor of the right.

    I do not at all agree with the general tone of comments here on any of these, as our “token liberal.” Often I just decide to let it go and let conservatives be conservatives, but this time it has piled up on me a bit.

    Trying to talk about them all at once just makes a confusing mash.

    The VA is not something that was healthy when O inherited it. Its been broke forever. I remember much coverage over a long period of time of vets not getting treatment for conditions incurred in the latest war or military action. We honor our Vets sincerely with parades, put up statues to war vets (when the wars have been safely over for more than a lifetime), yes, As a society we value their service. In vets have gotten the shaft forever, when they come home, this is not something Obama cooked up. How long has it been since I expressed any admiration for O? I have stated clearly that his presidency has worn out its welcome with me and that I wish at this point that Romney had been elected. But the VA problem long predates Obama and any hope to somehow change the culture at the VA depends on getting beyond the partisan scandal mentality and working together.

    • May 19, 2014 2:34 pm

      The VA was broken when Obama inherited it, and when Bush …, and ….

      It has been broken forever.

      It has a very strong resemblance to the British NHS with similar design and similar problems.

      BUT at the same time as you and most on the left are conceding the VA is broke, I am currently and have frequently argued with others on the left that the VA (and NHS) are superior to our private healthcare/insurance system and consistently score higher in patient satisfaction. Further the VA was used during debates about PPACA as proof that a total government take over could deliver.

      The VA is what government run healthcare looks like. Actually the VA is likely better as the military is more tolerant of and better able to deliver efficient one size fits all solutions.

      Members of the military whether as patients or providers, can not only be fired, they can be disciplined, court martialed, jailed, … individual liberty within the military is always subordinate to the good of the nation as defined by ones immediate superiors.
      That is an effective and somewhat efficient model – particularly in times of war. It is not something most of us are willing to have as part of all aspects of our lives.

      Atleast some aspects of the VA actually fall within the legitimate domain of government.
      If we are going to (and sometimes we must) send citizens out to war, we must expect that some of them will have medical needs not common in the rest of the population.

      The VA is not likely the best way to address that but government still must.

      • Anonymous permalink
        May 19, 2014 2:52 pm

        Dave, I am at a loss to understand you here. The VA is not part of the military, it is a federal agency, which happens, at the moment,to be headed up by a retired general.

        You are more than ok with a bloated, mismanaged federal bureaucracy being in charge of healthcare for veterans? Seems odd, knowing your minarchist beliefs. ….

      • May 19, 2014 4:18 pm

        Please read what I wrote.

        The military is generally recognized as a legitimate need of even a minarchist state.

        That does not mean that we need a military as large as what we have. Only that it is legitimate to use the force of government both to support that military that is necessary, and to compel individuals to defend the country if necessary.

        I do not like either of those things, but unless you are an anarchist you must accept those premises. But we can still fight over how big the military needs to be.

        Given that you have a military, and given that you must presume it will be used, then you must also accept that addressing the either unique or disproportionate effects of war on military personel is also the legitimate responsibility of government.

        That is not a justification for the VA per say.

        Past that I am not only OK but WANT government (in those few tasks that it legitimately performs) to be bloated inefficient, mismanaged – the alternative is corrupt.

        Streamlined, efficient ane od well managed are attributes of voluntary private institutions – atleast we hope.

        I have argued over and over here for impediments to the use of government power – even that little I beleive is legitimate.

        We do not want an institution that can execute people, deprive them of their freedom or their property to be able to do so quickly and efficiently. We want governments ability to use force – its sole distinguishing attribute to be as difficult as possible.

        As an example I do not beleive that congress can (or should) delegate its legislative power to the executive branch. That means that EPA, DOE, … can not create rules or regulations, that must be done by congress.
        That is horribly inefficient – and that is exactly what we need. It needs to be very hard to take liberty

    • May 19, 2014 2:46 pm

      There are more than two political perspectives and axises.

      On the vast majority of issues, I am likely to stand with you, or Rick, or others on the left.
      Issues such as legalized drugs, homosexuality, … issues were the left is (sometimes) the champion of individual liberty. Where we part company is over means.

      The ends do not justify the means. Taking liberty from some to give liberty to others is only moral and justifiable in very rare instances.

      Even on the right evangelicals, establishment republicans, neo-cons, tea party members, libertarian republicans, fiscal conservatives, are all distinctly different. Their primary common ground is they are not on the left.

      The left is similarly fragmented, though modern democrats have a strongly statist common ground regardless of other differences – though this was not always so.

    • May 19, 2014 3:04 pm

      The VA is a very useful example of how statist solutions work.
      I am not especially looking to flog this administration with it.
      Though I will use it to flog statists as a whole – and that would include this president and the last.

      If you believe that government should deal with some problem then you are implicitly accepting a solution similar to the VA with similar strengths and weaknesses.

      We can tweek the VA or Amtrak, or the post office or Fannie and Freddie, or …
      But ultimately even the best government solutions to problems strongly resemble each other.

      I expect that current bad press will provide the impetus to address the current wait time issue – though the most likely solution is that we will throw money at the problem proclaim it solved and hope it goes away for a decade. Regardless government solutions to problems are all likely to cluster together in terms of corruption, efficiency, cost, service, value. You are not going to get a sustainable government service outside that cluster

      One of the most bizarre aspects of public policy debate is we always assume that whatever failure we are addressing, the causes of that failure are outside of government, that they are common – near universal, that those faults are not present in government, and that the proposed government solution will perform better than any government solution ever has.

      Failure is commonplace. It occurs inside and outside government. What is different, is that sustained government failure is tolerated, even accepted, while failure outside of government results in change – improvement. This is not accidental. It is inherent in the differences in the nature of public and private action.

  85. Roby L permalink
    May 18, 2014 10:35 am

    A four year old article in Bloomberg discussing a more than ten year duration shafting of vets by the VA and the Prudential Life Ins co.. That would place its genesis during the mid Bush II years.

    One quote from a long article:

    “Every veteran I’ve spoken with is appalled at the brazen war profiteering by Prudential,” says Paul Sullivan, who served in the 1991 Gulf War as an Army cavalry scout and is now executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington. “Now vets are upset at the VA’s inability to stop Prudential’s bad behavior.”

    That the VA allowed Prudential to issue retained-asset accounts for 10 years while the contract required lump-sum payouts is “more evidence that the VA was asleep at the wheel for a decade,” says Sullivan, who was a project manager and analyst at the VA from 2000 to 2006.”

    I’m not minimizing the current revelations in any way, and I will, like any decent person, be happy if actual positive change occurs. I’m just saying that if people want to wake up and start digging into the VA and treatment of vets and soldiers in general this is not going to be a matter of just one party having been callous and high handed and the morality and sensibilities of one partisan group being pure and good and the other group and its associated sympathetic media villainous.

    I was in the military, its callous from the word go. People die right and left in basic training, from stupidity and neglect by the military itself. If the public knew what goes on in basic training and the military in general they would be appalled. You can generate many scandals from things I saw with my own eyes about military culture during 3 months in Fort Benning. You can start with the use of hookers as a permanent auxiliary to our military activities that is actively promoted by the NCOs. The number of needless deaths of trainees and soldiers is another. You enter the military, unfortunately, society’s sincere gratitude in general aside, you lose a portion of your constitutional rights, which has been supported by the Supreme Court in many decisions, crazy as that sounds.

    • Ron P permalink
      May 18, 2014 12:29 pm

      Roby..I agree with much of what you have said concerning the ongoing problems in the VA. I believe I may have been the one that started the VA discussion to begin with. Not sure what I said in the various posts, but I don’t believe I blamed it on one party or the other. I do believe I asked why hasn’t the president been out front with this issue (he still has not made a public statement, unlike his actions with the killing in Fl), I did asked where was the outrage of the people demanding congressional action well before anything national really came to light in the national news and I beleive I did say that Washington was out of touch with the real world.

      I agree that the VA has been mismanaged for many years. Agent orange after Viet Nam. PTSD after the first gulf war.That and other issues after the second gulf war and Afghanistan. Why these did not make the national news and become a national issue is anyones guess. Could be the Monica issue with Clinton during the late 90’s took all the energy of the country during that time and the agent orange was during a period where the internet was a dream and instant news was a “day late and dollar short”.

      But why and when there was little coverage of all of this does not seem to be the issue now. The issue now is why it is still happening, why people are getting bonuses for doing their jobs and not doing them well and why whistle blowers that have told of these problems for a period of time have not been listened to and why some have been punished or fired.

      I offer this is due to one issue and one issue only. A government too big to oversee the actions of too many people. A government too big that they rely on reports that can be manipulated without anyone confirming the numbers. A government where “kingdoms” have been created and the leadership of each kingdom will do anything to protect their turf, even to the extent that people may have died. (Deaths have been reported but not confirmed, so that is why I say “may have died”).

      So my point in all this we need a change in government where government is smaller (in business it is called more productive), the money is spent wisely (not wasted on pork), the employees are accountable for their actions (not protected by union contracts to avoid terminations) and the heads of the agencies get out into the real world and ask questions of their “customers” to insure the services that are needed are being provided.

      Will this happen? I can still dream on, but I know it will only get worse as few governments at any level ever get smaller.

      • Priscilla permalink
        May 19, 2014 9:27 am

        You have been very clear on the relatively non-partisan nature of the reaction to the VA scandal, Ron. And I agree that, at least in the eyes of legislators on both sides of the aisle, this is something that needs to be dealt with decisively. The problem, of, course, is that the VA is a department of the executive branch, led by a secretary who reports directly to the President….so once approved, the VA Secretary has no particular reason to feel accountable to the legislators.

        So, to your point about smaller government, which, of course, I agree with 1000%, I think it is possible to shrink the leviathan.

        IMHO, we (meaning voters and media types) need to stop focusing so much on Congress, and start focusing on the executive branch as the part of the federal government that needs shrinking. To be sure, the Congress has become largely a dysfunctional bunch of backslappers and money grubbers, but it has also become the most impotent branch of government, while the Executive branch has become huge and ever more powerful. The other day, I read somewhere that the USDA also maintains a huge stockpile of weapons and enforcement personnel. I mean, what the hell is up with all of these supposed administrative departments being militarized? Yet, when anyone proposes cutting the size of these largely independent organizations, or , god forbid, eliminating some of them, s/he is often vilified as anti-government.

      • May 19, 2014 3:58 pm

        Virtually every government department has its own swat team today.

        This just begs Nazi Nacht und Nebel comparisions.

        The federal government constitutionally has NO general police power.

      • May 19, 2014 4:00 pm

        Can we take a vote ?

        Is there anyone here who believes that the problems with the VA are unique to this administration ?

      • Ron P permalink
        May 19, 2014 7:54 pm

        Dave, not sure if anyone has said this is originally an Obama problem that started on his watch, so no, I do not think this is unique to his administration.

        However, he was briefed on this problem just before or just after taking the oath of the presidency. He has also made speeches to various groups on this subject and how it needs to be fixed. So it may not be unique to his administration, but he owns it. Many if the lefties are out talking about how this was inherited from Bush, so again they are using the blame Bush card. Since he has been in office 6 years, he was briefed on the problem 6 years ago and has used this in political speeches to further his presidency, IMHO he can not Blame Bush or anyone else.

        Where has he been since this crap hit the fan? Where is his political speeches now? What is he doing to inform the public about actions he is taking. Right now I think the only ones that know other than his senior staff is the other three in his foursome where he played golf this weekend in Nothern VA.

        Listen to any lefty and they say it is a money problem. Just like always, throw more money at the problem and it will go away. No it will not! Listen to any conservative in office and “we need another investigation by congress. BS! They will sit on their high throwns in a chamber in the capital building, make bloated speeches for the public and then nothing will get done.

        The only way to solve the problem is to get the people directly involved with registering and treating patients together and have them discuss the problems and offer solutions. This is not a congressman, it is not the VA director, it is not the director of each facility nor any other high mucky muck that thinks they know what is happening and they do not. It the trenches that know and when they have said anything they have been punished. Money is not the answer. And this also may not work since I have never seen a government worker doing much in the way of productivity. Where a private hospital may expect a registration person to complete a registration in 15 minutes, government may expect it in 60 or more.

      • May 20, 2014 12:06 am

        Rather than trying to figure out which president/party to blame, we might consider that this is just generically representative of government ?

        Is there some critical facet of this that distinguishes it from most everything else we expect of government ?

        I am asking generically, not in the sense that it is really bad to deprive veterans of medical care such that they die.

        Asked differently can you think of some government program that you would offer as an example of something demonstrating that government can do better ?

      • Priscilla permalink
        May 19, 2014 5:04 pm

        No, Dave, I don’t think anyone here believes that. I have not contended that the problems with the VA are unique to this administration, if that is your implication.

        What I have said is that this specific scandal has occurred on this Secretary’s watch, during this President’s administration.

        It is entirely possible, maybe even probable, that these secret waitlists were being used during the Bush or even the Clinton administration. More likely Bush, merely because the crush of Vietnam veterans needing care due to advanced age began to overload the system around the time of his administration, and has only intensified with the influx of veterans from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars.

        I am not making a partisan argument. I am saying that leaders are responsible and should be held accountable for what goes on during their tenure. And, if it becomes apparent that gross abuses have occurred on their watch, they need to do something besides “investigate” and promise future fixes.

        People can argue political philosophy all day long…..and at the end of that day, nothing has changed. It is the people we have put in leadership positions that will determine how this plays out.

      • May 19, 2014 5:39 pm

        The political philosophy arguments are important because good people and good management are not going to solve the problem.

        There are not enough of either.
        The best and the brightest very rarely work for government.
        Because even the best and the brightest can be corrupted by power.

        Just as outside of government systems have to work with the people you have not the ones you wish you had.

        To be clear to everyone.

        For those tasks government actually must do, there is no optimal miracle solution.
        We must demand they be done well.
        We must expect they will not.
        We must root out corruption, but we will never find it all or root it out completely.
        We must except inefficiency as the price for constraining power.

        Minarchy does not mean limited efficient well managed government.

        It means accepting that as impossible, and figuring out how to make government work anyway. A major part of that is not allow government to do any outside its narrow realm.

        The philosophy matters because we are never going to get the perfect people that any other solution requires.

        But for human nature, centrally planned communism should be the most efficient for of government of all.

        If human nature is not a concern libertarianism and free markets are horribly inefficient means. Assume we are all “equal” – identical, and we can mass produce precisely what we all need. People become legos – fit them in wherever you need.

        Accept that we are all different and have the right to be as we are and the only solution that is moral is libertarian, and the only one that works is libertarian.

      • Priscilla permalink
        May 19, 2014 8:43 pm